US promises Ukraine to fight Russian pipeline to Germany

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shake hands with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin after speaking to the media at the Department of State Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Washington. (AP)
Updated 17 November 2018
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US promises Ukraine to fight Russian pipeline to Germany

  • The US leader has sent mixed signals, berating Germany as “totally dependent” on Moscow for energy but also warming to President Vladimir Putin

WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday promised Ukraine to fight the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, saying the project undermined European security.
Pompeo said Ukraine had “no greater friend than the United States” in its struggle against “Russian aggression” as he met the embattled country’s foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, in Washington.
“We’ll keep working together to stop the Nord Stream II project that undermines Ukraine’s economic and strategic security and risks further compromising the sovereignty of European nations that depend on Russian gas,” Pompeo told reporters as he stood next to Klimkin.
“We do not want our European friends to fall prey to the kind of political and economic manipulation Russia has attempted in Ukraine since it cast off its Soviet shackles,” Pompeo said.
The pipeline, which has also been criticized by Poland and other former Soviet bloc countries, aims to double the capacity of the existing Nord Stream I pipeline by the end of 2019 — further allowing Russia to bypass Ukraine, its traditional route to supply Europe.
Germany, backed by France and Austria, has billed the project led by Russia’s Gazprom as a way to ensure stable and lower-cost energy.
US lawmakers led by the late senator John McCain passed legislation opening the path to sanctions against investors in the pipeline, although the ultimate decision lies with President Donald Trump.
The US leader has sent mixed signals, berating Germany as “totally dependent” on Moscow for energy but also warming to President Vladimir Putin.
Trump caused consternation at a July summit in Helsinki where he appeared to accept Putin’s denials of interference in the 2016 US election and, ahead of the meeting, sounded open to recognizing Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Pompeo reiterated his post-summit statement of US opposition to the takeover of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula of Ukraine whose population is largely ethnically Russian.
“The United States will never accept Russia’s attempted annexation of Crimea,” Pompeo said.
“We will continue to impose consequences until Moscow fully implements the Minsk agreements and returns control of Crimea to Ukraine,” he said, a week after the United States slapped sanctions on Russians over business dealings on the peninsula.
The 2015 Minsk summit laid out a cease-fire and international monitoring in eastern Ukraine. But a pro-Russian insurgency has persisted, with a death toll that has crossed 10,000.


UN Assembly adopts refugee pact, without US and Hungary

Updated 9 min 34 sec ago
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UN Assembly adopts refugee pact, without US and Hungary

  • The refugee pact was approved by 181 countries
  • Only two voted no — the US and Hungary. Three others abstained — the Dominican Republic, Eritrea and Libya

UNITED NATIONS: The UN General Assembly on Monday adopted by a wide majority a Global Compact on Refugees aimed at improving efforts to manage large refugee movements — but without the support of the United States and Hungary.
The refugee pact, which did not provoke the controversy unleashed over a similar pact on migration, was approved by 181 countries.
Only two voted no — the US and Hungary. Three others abstained — the Dominican Republic, Eritrea and Libya.
Much like the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration — the refugee pact is not legally binding.
The two global agreements stem from the so-called New York Declaration adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly in September 2016, with the goal of better handling migrant and refugee flows worldwide.
The compact — written under the auspices of the Geneva-based UN refugee agency (UNHCR) — hopes to ensure an adequate international response to large-scale refugee movements and extended displacement of refugees.
General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa told AFP the pact would help “strengthen the assistance to and protection of the 25 million refugees globally” and was based on burden — and responsibility-sharing.
“Refugee-hosting countries continue to show extraordinary levels of generosity and commitment to refugee protection,” said Espinosa, who is from Ecuador.
“It’s a known fact that low and middle-income countries host over 85 percent of all refugees. I believe that we must support the communities and states that host refugees.”
In voting no, Hungary said no new agreement was needed. The US said recently that it backed most of the refugee pact, but not the part aimed at limiting detentions of asylum seekers.
Ahead of Monday’s vote, two countries facing massive population flight addressed the assembly.
Syria said the debate should not be politicized and asked the UNHCR to do more to help Syrian refugees return to their war-wracked country.
Crisis-hit Venezuela, which has seen massive flight as its economic quagmire has deepened, urged the assembly to ensure that the new pact did not become a way for other countries to intervene in internal matters.
The document has four key objectives: ease pressure on refugee-hosting nations; improve refugee self-reliance; expand access to third countries for refugees via resettlement; and, support conditions for refugees to go home.
The compact is meant to set up a framework; national and regional solutions are supported, and it discusses financing and possible partnerships, as well as data sharing among nations.
It also includes systems to monitor progress, including a Global Refugee Forum held at ministerial level every four years.
Unlike the talks on the migration pact, the United States remained in the negotiations for the refugee pact.
The final text of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Legal Migration was agreed on in July, and it is to be formally ratified by the General Assembly on Wednesday.
Since July, a number of countries have either quit the pact or expressed serious reservations, including Hungary, Australia, Israel, Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Bulgaria, Latvia and Italy.
In Belgium, the migration pact sparked the collapse of the country’s coalition government.
About 165 countries reaffirmed their commitment to the migration pact earlier this month in Morocco.