March 4, 2014 |
LUBIMOVKA, Ukraine - They were unarmed, bored and dispirited. Heavily armed Russian-speaking soldiers in distinctly Russian-looking uniforms had taken over a Ukrainian air base and captured three dozen MIG fighter jets. Now the Ukrainian army soldiers were sitting around grumbling outside the airstrip, until one of their mates appeared with a soccer ball. "Let's play with the Russians!" one soldier shouted. The others cheered. The young soldier approached one of the gunmen guarding the airport.
March 4, 2014 |
KIEV, Ukraine - As thousands of Russian and Ukrainian troops stare each other down in Ukraine's strategic Crimean peninsula, the worlds-apart views from Moscow and Washington over the dangerous faceoff suggested Tuesday that a resolution was far from imminent. At the same time, signs emerged from the Kremlin and Kiev that both sides were wary of escalating the crisis, in which one nervous reaction could spark a shooting war. U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, during a visit Tuesday to the Ukrainian capital, accused Russia of gun-barrel diplomacy and brutish behavior more befitting the war-racked 19th century.
March 4, 2014 |
Russia seems to have learned little in the 160 years since the Crimean War. Launching ships and sending armies to grab land may work in the short term, but there are always negative consequences that bring big regrets later. In 1853, Russia's man in charge was Czar Nicholas I, who hoped to take advantage of the weakening Ottoman Empire and expand Russian power and influence around the Black Sea and beyond. In 1853, using the pretext of protecting Orthodox Christians in the Ottoman-controlled Holy Land, Russia went to war and quickly destroyed the Ottoman fleet.
March 1, 2014 |
MOSCOW - The international conflict over Russia's military moves in Crimea escalated precariously Saturday as lawmakers in Moscow authorized the use of armed forces to protect their nation's interests and ethnic Russians in Ukraine and President Obama pressed President Vladimir Putin during a 90-minute phone call to back down. The unanimous vote in the upper house of the parliament came after Russian troops had already taken up positions in Crimea, the Ukrainian region that is home to Russia's Black Sea fleet, and in spite of Obama's warning Friday that "there will be costs" if Moscow intervenes in its neighbor's political upheaval.
February 5, 2014 |
The language barrier can sometimes be a stumbling block when it comes to humor, especially with the ironic jujitsu Stephen Colbert performs in his interviews nightly on "The Colbert Report. " But Tuesday, he had two guests up to the challenge: Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina of the Russian punk band, Pussy Riot. Despite serving time in Russian prisons for defying Vladimir Putin's government, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina showed up on Colbert's show with their humor still intact, even when filtered through a translator.
January 24, 2014 |
Vladimir Putin wanted to bring the Olympics to Russia, and he wanted them to take place in his favorite Black Sea resort town, Sochi, even though it is not a locale that sees much, if any, snow and is situated dangerously close to a region roiling with rebels and terrorists who hate Putin. Snow will not be a problem. Enough white stuff can be manufactured to cover a ski slope, if need be. But keeping terrorists from blowing up the Olympics is a bit more difficult. A new video released by radical Islamist separatists in Russia's Dagestan region promises that attacks are coming.
December 19, 2013 |
MOSCOW - He was once Russia's richest man and, by some measures, President Vladimir Putin's most potent foe. By Thursday, when Putin said he was likely to grant clemency to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, that was all long in the past. Both Khodorkovsky's power and the source of his wealth have been lost over the course of a decade in prison, and Putin's position as Russia's leader is more secure than ever. Khodorkovsky's release would signal an end to a remarkable saga that has been one of the hallmarks of Putin's tenure, and has led to international condemnation of what many view as a high-profile violation of human rights.
November 28, 2013 |
Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a visit to Sochi on Thursday and proclaimed that organizers are ready to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. Pretty much. "Almost everything has been done," Putin told the Ria Novosti news service. "But when I say 'almost' I mean some things still need to be polished.” Among the facilities requiring more attention is the 40,000-seat Fisht Olympic Stadium, which will be the site for the opening and closing ceremonies. "Some of the equipment should be installed and additional preparation work should be finished,” Putin said.
November 2, 2013 |
MOSCOW -- The Kremlin will not allow NSA leaker Edward Snowden to harm the United States for the duration of his temporary stay in Russia, Vladimir Putin's spokesman told the Los Angeles Times. “While he is here no one will allow him to indulge in any activities aimed against the United States,” Dmitry Peskov said in a telephone interview Saturday morning. “At the same time he is free to meet with whoever and whenever he wants.” Snowden's activities in Russia thus will not add tension to U.S.-Russian relations, Peskov implied.
September 25, 2013 |
MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday defended last week's seizure of a Greenpeace ship but appeared to suggest that the 30 activists and crew taken into custody should not face charges of piracy. Russian coast guard troops seized the Arctic Sunrise, a Greenpeace ice-breaker, in a dramatic commando operation in the Barents Sea on Thursday, the day after a multinational group of activists attempted to raise a protest banner on a Russian oil drilling platform. “It is quite obvious that they are not pirates, but formally [speaking]