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Kerry meets Putin in ‘critical moment’ for Ukraine conflict

روسی صدر ولادیمیر پوٹن نے جنوبی شہر سوچی میں امریکی وزیرخارجہ جان کیری سے ملاقات کی ہے۔ صدر پوٹن سے ملاقات سے قبل جان کیری نے اپنے روسی ہم منصب سیرگئی لاوروف سے بھی چار گھنٹے طویل ملاقات کی۔ امریکی وزارت خارجہ کی جانب سے جاری کردہ ایک بیان میں کہا گیا ہے کہ یوکرائن کے لیے ایک انتہائی نازک وقت میں واشنگٹن کی کوشش ہے کہ امن معاہدے پر مکمل طور پر عمل درآمد کے لیے ٹھوس اقدامات کی جانب بڑھا جائے۔ یوکرائن تنازعے کے تناظر میں امریکا اور روس کے درمیان تعلقات سرد جنگ کے خاتمے کے بعد سے اپنی انتہائی نچلی سطح پر ہیں، تاہم ایک برس سے زائد عرصے تک رہنے والی اس کشیدگی کے بعد اب تناؤ میں کمی کے اشارے مل رہے ہیں۔

US Secretary of State John Kerry has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at his summer residence in Sochi. The US diplomat aims to push the Russian leader to fully implement the fragile Ukraine ceasefire. A top US official said Kerry’s meeting with Putin was “a critical moment” for Ukraine, with Washington looking to ensure the “next steps in concrete ... Read More »

Report: Russian ground troops ensured rebel successes in Ukraine

A report based on material compiled by murdered Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov claims that Russian troops are on the ground in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin says it is not familiar with the document. At least 220 Russian troops were killed in two battles in eastern Ukraine in the past year, and the Russian authorities spent over $1.04 billion (1.25 billion euros) to aid the anti-government rebels in the eastern European country, Russian opposition activists from the group Open Russia said Tuesday. According to the report, the victims' relatives received $40,000 (35,000 euros) as compensation from the Russian authorities, who also made them sign a non-disclosure agreement. "We gathered what we think is comprehensive proof of the presence of Russian troops," Ilya Yashin, one of the authors of the research report entitled "Putin. War" in Moscow on Tuesday. The document, based on research work by former deputy prime minister and one of Kremlin's fiercest critics, Boris Nemtsov, also said that "all key military successes of the separatists were ensured by regular Russian army contingents." A conflict between Kyiv's forces and separatists in eastern Ukraine has resulted in over 6,100 deaths since last April. The report was Nemtsov's last project before his murder. He made use of interviews and open source information to present a counter-narrative to Moscow's official position on the Ukraine war. Since the initial stages of the armed conflict, Russia has maintained it has no troops on the Ukrainian soil, claiming that its support for the rebels is merely political. Report details alleged Russian involvement The report further said that Russian troops had made two major incursions into Ukrainian territory in the summer of 2014 and in the winter of 2015. Detailing the claims, Yashin told reporters in Moscow that the first deployment of the regular soldiers to eastern Ukraine resulted in deaths, with "more than 150 coffins" returning to Russia, while in the winter "at least 70 troops" died. The report goes on to say that the Russian commanders further backed the recruitment of volunteers through their offices and oversaw the "transfer of military equipment" across the Russia-Ukraine border, including a surface-to-air Buk system. In July of last year, rebels used a surface-to-air system of the same make when they shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over the Donetsk region. Moscow insists that those who joined Ukraine's separatists were volunteers from Russia. The report, however, denies this claim and says that the Russian army first released its soldiers from their duties and listed them as volunteers. In response to the report, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian media: "I am not familiar with the report so I have nothing to say." Nemtsov's murder Nemtsov was shot dead on February 27 in Moscow. Although the authorities have arrested five suspects, including a Chechen police officer, they haven't revealed the name of a suspected mastermind as the motive of Nemtsov's murder remains unclear. The former prime minister's aides accuse President Vladimir Putin's government assassination. The authorities deny any involvement.

A report based on material compiled by murdered Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov claims that Russian troops are on the ground in eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin says it is not familiar with the document. At least 220 Russian troops were killed in two battles in eastern Ukraine in the past year, and the Russian authorities spent over $1.04 billion (1.25 ... Read More »

Inspectors say they have found traces pointing to chemical weapons in Syria

International experts have found traces of precursors for VX and sarin nerve gas at an undeclared location in Syria, sources say. Damascus has repeatedly denied the charges of using chemical weapons on the battlefield. Samples taken by the Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons (OPCW) tested positive for chemicals needed to make toxic agents, diplomatic sources told Reuters on Friday. The government led by the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad agreed to completely eliminate its chemical program in 2013, following a deadly gas attack which many in the international community blamed on the regime forces, and a threat of military intervention by the United States. Last year, the authorities handed over some 1,300 tons of chemical weapons to be destroyed by a joint UN-OPCW mission. However, the samples which tested positive for precursor substances were taken in December and January, from a military research center not declared to OPCW, according to the unnamed sources. "This is a pretty strong indication they have been lying about what they did with sarin," one of the diplomats told Reuters. Traces 'where they were not supposed to be' In addition, Latvia's permanent representative at OPCW, Maris Klisans, stated to fellow delegates at a closed-door meeting Thursday that the European Union had a number of "concerns" over the issue, adding that "the recent finding … showing traces of precursors of VX and sarin were found on a site where they were not supposed to be, figure high on that list." "The EU is particularly concerned that, due to the above, Syria may still hold chemical weapons materials or undeclared chemical weapons agents," she said in the statement which was later published on the OPCW's website. OPCW spokesman Peter Sawczak declined to provide more information, saying he was bound by confidentiality on the matter. The blame game Under the conditions put forward by Washington and Moscow two years ago, Damascus has agreed not to use the toxins in combat. Still, according to the OPCW, chlorine has been used "systematically and repeatedly" even after Syrian government shipped away its massive stockpile. The international watchdog is not mandated to assign blame, however, and the regime has denied using chemical weapons. On Wednesday, the United States asked the UN Security Council to set up an investigation following reports of chlorine gas attacks in Syria. "We believe - and it's clear that many Council members agree - that we have got to have a means of establishing who is carrying out these chlorine attacks," US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told reporters on Friday. Britain, France and the United States have accused the government forces of carrying out the chlorine attacks, using barrel bombs thrown from helicopters. At the same time, Russia maintains there is no solid proof that Assad's troops are behind the attacks.

International experts have found traces of precursors for VX and sarin nerve gas at an undeclared location in Syria, sources say. Damascus has repeatedly denied the charges of using chemical weapons on the battlefield. Samples taken by the Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons (OPCW) tested positive for chemicals needed to make toxic agents, diplomatic sources told Reuters on ... Read More »

Russia, China, Iran should also publish torture reports

In a DW interview, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture lauds the US Senate committee's report, but regrets the heavy redactions. He urges legal consequences and wants Russia, China and Iran to release their own reports. Juan Méndez is the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. DW: In an open letter last month you and other UN experts urged the US to release the Senate torture report. Are you satisfied that the Obama administration did publish it despite massive pressure not to? Juan Méndez: It wasn't the Obama administration it was the Senate Committee on Intelligence. But it is good and the Senate is part of the state represented in the international community. I would have preferred that the report was much less redacted than it is. And I also expect that in the future the whole report, not only the executive summary, be released. I know that thousands of pages are not easy to release, but at least for history, for posterity it should be released. But having said all that I have to say that this report is a good example of how good investigations on this very difficult subject should be done. It is thorough and it engages all possible angles of the matter. It's a devastating picture, but the Senate Committee on Intelligence deserves credit for coming clean on a history that is not easy to report on. What is the most important thing you have learned from it so far? The most important thing is that our worst fears about how extensive and how cruel and damaging torture was used during the first years of the global war on terror were confirmed. But also it shows how much denial and deviousness and lying to Congress and to the American public took place. I do expect however that everybody should understand that this is a first step and that the United States doesn't fulfill all of its obligations by publishing its report. Because under the Convention against Torture the state is also required to investigate, prosecute and punish everybody who should be responsible. Do you expect the US to do so? No, I don't, but it is important to insist on it. And I don't expect it to happen anytime soon, but it doesn't mean that it cannot happen down the road. And that's why I think experiences with other countries show what is impossible to envision doing today may become possible in the future. And it is important to leave all these possibilities open so that it might happen. China, Russia, Iran and other countries with grave and ongoing human rights problems have used the report to lash out severely against Washington. Are they justified to do so in your opinion? They can say whatever they want. They have to live up to their own obligations as well and we in the United Nations are going to try to hold them up to those obligations. There is plenty of truth-telling to be done from all of those countries and unfortunately many more. In the meantime, of course, they are entitled to their opinion and it is right that they have joined some highly democratic states that have expressed their concern about what this report shows while at the same time praising the fact that the report was done. Would you call on China, Russia and Iran to release their own torture and human rights reports? Yes of course. We call for that for all states, even for the very old and past abuses as well. I think the obligation to investigate, prosecute and punish including to investigate and release to the public information about what happened is customary in international law even for countries that have not signed and ratified the Convention against Torture. So all states have to do this and they ought to do this even for decades-old cases of torture. In this sense, the release by the Brazilian Truth Commission of a damning report of what happened during the military dictatorship there is a very good example that should be praised alongside the report of the Senate Committee on Intelligence.

In a DW interview, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture lauds the US Senate committee’s report, but regrets the heavy redactions. He urges legal consequences and wants Russia, China and Iran to release their own reports. Juan Méndez is the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. DW: In an open letter last month you and other UN experts urged the US ... Read More »

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