Ukraine urges ‘comprehensive’ NATO response to Russia

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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks to servicemen taking part in brigade tactical exercises near Goncharivske village, Chernihiv region, not far from the border with Russia. ( AFP)
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Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko comforts Irina, wife of detained Ukrainian sailor Yury Budzinsky in Kiev. (AP Photo)
Updated 04 December 2018
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Ukraine urges ‘comprehensive’ NATO response to Russia

  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin hinted that at least one NATO member was ready to enhance its presence in the Black Sea in response to a call from Kiev
  • NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels discussed the Azov Sea standoff but did not agree any concrete new measures to help Ukraine

BRUSSELS: Ukraine on Tuesday pressed NATO to come up with a “comprehensive answer” to Russian aggression in the Black Sea, as the alliance treads carefully for fear of escalating tensions further.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin hinted that at least one NATO member was ready to enhance its presence in the Black Sea in response to a call from Kiev following Russia’s seizing of ships and sailors in the Kerch Strait.
NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels discussed the Azov Sea standoff but did not agree any concrete new measures to help Ukraine.
“What is critically important is to have a very clear and comprehensive answer to Russian acts of aggression... (and) Russian abuses of Black Sea security,” Klimkin told reporters.
The clash last week off the coast of Crimea, annexed by Moscow in 2014, left 24 Ukrainian sailors and three navy ships in Russian hands and sent tensions soaring.
European leaders have rebuffed Ukrainian calls for more support against Moscow, but Klimkin indicated that a NATO country was ready to step up, without giving clear details.
“This presence will be enhanced and we have to see which country will be the pioneer. You will hear that not from us but from the alliance member,” he said.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeated a call for Russia to return the sailors and ships and ensure freedom of navigation in the Azov Sea, an offshoot of the Black Sea home to key Ukrainian ports.
He said the alliance had stepped up its presence in the area over the past year, but announced no new practical help for Ukraine.
The United States is pressing Europe to “show some leadership” on the Azov Sea crisis.
“We really want to see European allies do more,” a senior US State department official said.
“We want to see European allies take greater responsibility for a security problem that’s just 200 miles from Germany’s border.”
But European countries — some of which have strong business links to Russia — are deeply wary of doing anything that might exacerbate the situation.
“We will continue to make every effort to ensure that this conflict does not turn into a serious crisis. and that can only be achieved with a political solution,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
Klimkin said he would use talks with EU officials next week to ask whether the international response could include barring Russian commercial shipping from international ports.
Ukraine has accused Moscow of blocking merchant vessels from entering and leaving Azov Sea ports.
But Kiev said Tuesday that Russia had begun allowing some ships to enter Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov, in what could signal an easing of tensions in the flashpoint area.


Sri Lanka police wrongly ID American Muslim over attacks

Updated 32 min 53 sec ago
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Sri Lanka police wrongly ID American Muslim over attacks

  • The blunder comes after Sri Lankan authorities dramatically revised the death toll in the attacks, from nearly 360 dead to 253
  • The revision came after authorities said some victims had been “double-counted”

COLOMBO: Sri Lankan police have been left red-faced after wrongly identifying a female American Muslim activist as a suspect in the deadly Easter bombings.
On Thursday, police issued a flyer with the names and photos of six people — three men and three women — wanted in connection with attacks that killed over 250 people.
Among those listed was a woman identified as Abdul Cader Fathima Khadhiya, accompanied by a photo of a woman in a headscarf purported to be the individual wanted for questioning.
But the photo in fact showed Amara Majeed, an American Muslim whose parents are Sri Lankan immigrants and who penned an open letter to President Donald Trump in 2015 about his rhetoric on Muslims.
“Hello everyone! I have this morning been FALSELY identified by the Sri Lankan government as one of the Daesh Easter attackers in Sri Lanka,” Majeed wrote on her Facebook page.
“What a thing to wake up to! This is obviously completely false and frankly, considering that Muslim communities are already greatly afflicted with issues of surveillance, I don’t need more false accusations and scrutiny.”
Sri Lankan police on Thursday issued a statement confirming that the photo published alongside the name “Abdul Cader Fathima Khadhiya” was not in fact of the suspect.
“The individual pictured is not wanted for questioning,” the statement signed by police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said.
It added that an individual called Abdul Cader Fathima Khadhiya was however still wanted for questioning.
The blunder comes after Sri Lankan authorities dramatically revised the death toll in the attacks, from nearly 360 dead to 253.
The revision came after authorities said some victims had been “double-counted” because bodies were blown apart in the attacks and misidentified.