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Russia mourns plane crash victims

A day of mourning has begun in Russia following a Christmas Day military plane crash that killed 92 people. Recovery teams are working in the Black Sea to recover bodies from the crash site. Monday is an official day of mourning in Russia in honor of the victims of Sunday's plane crash that saw a military airplane crash into the Black Sea shortly after take-off from Sochi. The TU-154 aircraft was bound for Syria, and went down just minutes into the flight. More than 3,000 people, including more than 100 divers, spent Sunday night searching for victims and debris, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Drones and submersibles were also reportedly used in the search effort. Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said on Monday that the investigation into the crash was focusing on pilot error or a technical fault. However, the pilot did not report any malfunctions before the crash, and the debris is distributed over a wide area, leading some to speculate that terrorism could not be ruled out as the cause. "Possible malfunctions ... certainly wouldn't have prevented the crew from reporting them," Vitaly Andreyev, a former senior Russian air traffic controller, told RIA Novosti, adding that it pointed to an "external impact." Flying to Syria The plane was on its way to Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia when it crashed. The air base - which was been in operation since September 2015 - is the main hub for Russia's air campaign in the ongoing conflict in Syria. Rescue teams had recovered at least 11 bodies from the Black Sea crash site, about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from the coast by Sunday evening. Valery Khalilov, the head of the world-famous Red Army choir, was listed as one of those who died, together with 63 other members of the group, whose official name is the Alexandrov Ensemble. They were going to Syria to perform a New Year's concert for troops. "Losing such a great collective all at once is a great tragedy," Moscow city's culture department head Alexander Kibovsky said, according to RIA Novosti. As word of the crash spread Sunday, people placed bouquets of flowers outside the ensemble's Moscow headquarters. Russian doctor Yelizaveta Glinka, who received wide acclaim for her charity work in Ukraine and Syria, was also on board. Her foundation said Glinka was accompanying medication being delivered to a hospital in Syria. There were also nine journalists from three Russian television stations on the flight. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad expressed his condolences for the crash. "Our prayers are with you…our sorrows and joys are one," Assad told Putin. Tu-154 problems The Tu-154 aircraft has been involved in nearly a dozen major accidents in recent years. More than 800 people have died in crashes involving the airliner since 2000, not including Sunday's crash. The three-engine design was developed in the 1960's to operate on unpaved airfields with a passenger load of 150 people. Due to its checkered history, Russian authorities demanded the model be phased out in 2011. The most notable crash occurred in April 2010 near the Russian city of Smolensk: Those who died included then-Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his colleagues. All 96 passengers on board that aircraft were killed.

A day of mourning has begun in Russia following a Christmas Day military plane crash that killed 92 people. Recovery teams are working in the Black Sea to recover bodies from the crash site. Monday is an official day of mourning in Russia in honor of the victims of Sunday’s plane crash that saw a military airplane crash into the ... Read More »

Military plane carrying 92 crashes in Black Sea enroute to Syria

A Syria-bound Russian military plane has crashed in the Black Sea. The plane was carrying 92 people when it took of from Sochi. Citing Russian military sources, Russian media say 91 people were on board the TU-154 when it disappeared from radar screens over the Black Sea after taking off from the coastal city of Sochi on Sunday. The military later confirmed that the plane had crashed. The passengers were members of Russia's famous Alexandrov Ensemble, a military performance group that features a choir, orchestra, and dancers. Originally established in 1928, the group performs Russian folk tunes, church hymns, operatic arias and popular music. The Alexandrov Ensemble was on its way to Russia's Hmeimim military base outside of Latakia, Syria, for a New Year's performance. The aircraft took off from Sochi carrying 84 passengers, including nine journalists, and eight crew. Search and rescue crews have been dispatched to the scene, and debris from the plane have been found about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) from the Russian coast. The defense ministry said a body had also been found some six kilometers off the coast.

A Syria-bound Russian military plane has crashed in the Black Sea. The plane was carrying 92 people when it took of from Sochi. Citing Russian military sources, Russian media say 91 people were on board the TU-154 when it disappeared from radar screens over the Black Sea after taking off from the coastal city of Sochi on Sunday. The military ... Read More »

Russia, China block UN resolution for Aleppo ceasefire

Moscow has rejected the UN Security Council resolution for a ceasefire, citing a pending agreement with Washington, a Russian official said. But an American diplomat described the claim as a "made up alibi." Russia and China on Monday blocked a UN Security Council resolution aimed at establishing a seven-day ceasefire in the besieged city of Aleppo in Syria. Sponsored by Egypt, Spain and New Zealand, the resolution demanded that conflicting parties in Aleppo cease "any and all attacks in the city of Aleppo." Russia, a key ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, expressed doubts over the text in the run-up to the vote. Moscow had called for the vote to take place on Tuesday to give time for Russian and American officials to meet in Geneva. The meeting reportedly concerns a deal to allow rebels in the besieged city to withdraw, which Syrian opposition forces have outright rejected. Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, said that Washington and Moscow "are close to an agreement on the basic elements." 'Made up alibi' However, deputy US envoy Michele Sison said that Churkin's claim of an agreement was a "made up alibi." "We will not let Russia string along the Security Council while waiting for a compromise that never seems to come," Sison said. "We will continue bilateral negotiations (with Russia) to relieve the suffering in Aleppo, but we have no reached a breakthrough because Russia wants to keep its military gains." Moscow has blocked a total of six Security Council resolutions on Syria, while Beijing has vetoed five. Russian forces joined the multifaceted conflict in September 2015, launching airstrikes against terrorist groups in a bid to strengthen Assad's regime. However, US-backed opposition forces have been targeted in the aerial campaign, according to rebel groups. More than 300,000 people have been killed and half the population displaced since the conflict erupted in 2011, when government forces launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters calling for Assad to step down.

Moscow has rejected the UN Security Council resolution for a ceasefire, citing a pending agreement with Washington, a Russian official said. But an American diplomat described the claim as a “made up alibi.” Russia and China on Monday blocked a UN Security Council resolution aimed at establishing a seven-day ceasefire in the besieged city of Aleppo in Syria. Sponsored by ... Read More »

‘Islamic State’ militant killed in North Caucasus, Russian security forces report

Russian security forces have killed a regional leader of the so-called "Islamic State" (IS) terrorist group. Several other militants were also killed in the raid. The leader of IS' North Caucasus branch was killed on Saturday along with four other militants, Russia's Federal Security Service, the FSB, said in a statement. Rustam Asildarov, an "emir" who swore allegiance to IS in 2014, was killed in a raid in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, after he and his fellow militants refused to surrender. Police stormed the single-family home where the militants were hiding after they opened fire on the police during the negotiation process. The FSB said that Asildarov was behind several attacks, and some plots that were never carried out, such as one meant to target New Year's Eve revelers in Moscow in 2010. IS named Asildarov the governor of a newly declared Caucasus province and has claimed responsibility for attacks in Dagestan. When he was declared the group's leader in the region, the US State Department officially labeled him a "foreign terrorist fighter." Many foreign jihadist fighters in Syria and Iraq are known to come from the region.

Russian security forces have killed a regional leader of the so-called “Islamic State” (IS) terrorist group. Several other militants were also killed in the raid. The leader of IS’ North Caucasus branch was killed on Saturday along with four other militants, Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, said in a statement. Rustam Asildarov, an “emir” who swore allegiance to IS ... Read More »

Aleppo hospitals out of service as Syrian regime intensifies assault

All hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo have been put out of order by a Syrian regime offensive. Food, water and medical supplies for 250,000 civilians are running out. All hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo are out of service as the Syrian government and allied forces fire artillery and drop bombs in a renewed offensive, the city's health directorate and a medical charity said. The Omar Bin Abdul Aziz Hospital was destroyed by regime artillery fire on Friday, knocking out the last functioning hospital in eastern Aleppo, the Union of Syrian Medical Organizations (UOSSM) said. Four other hospitals, including a pediatric center, were also closed down on Friday after being hit by regime artillery, airstrikes and barrel bombs. "This comes in light of the quickly deteriorating situation in eastern Aleppo as medical care and supplies are running extremely low," Dr. Ayham Al Zoebi of UOSSM said in a statement. Medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) confirmed that medical staff and patients had been killed in attacks and hospitals put out of order, including a children's hospital that was hit twice by airstrikes. "The severity of the bombing has inflicted huge damage on the few hospitals working around the clock to provide medical care," said MSF emergency coordinator Teresa Sancristoval. "The attacks have destroyed entire hospitals, electric generators, emergency rooms and wards, forcing them to stop all medical activities." The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some makeshift medical facilities were still operating but people were afraid to leave their homes. Rights groups and the opposition have repeatedly accused Syria and Russia of targeting medical facilities; charges they deny. White House national security adviser Susan Rice called for an immediate end to "horrific attacks" on hospitals and medical workers, and urged Russia, Syria's ally, to help put an end to the violence. "The Syrian regime and its allies, Russia in particular, bears responsibly for the immediate and long term consequences these actions have caused in Syria and beyond," she said in a statement. The UN warned on Friday that they had been unable to provide aid to eastern Aleppo for months, meaning that trapped civilians faced a "very bleak moment" with dwindling food and medical supplies, little clean water and winter fast approaching. The UN has blamed Syria, Russia and rebels for the fighting and for blocking humanitarian deliveries. On Saturday, the UN condemned the surge in fighting and called for all parties to halt the violence and allow humanitarian aid into Aleppo and other parts of the country. Speaking to the Berlin newspaper "Der Tagesspiegel" on Saturday, the head of international cooperation at the German Red Crescent, Christof Johnen, warned that the entire infrastructure of the city - from electricity to water and sewage - could collapse into a "fatal downward spiral." The Syrian army, Iranian forces, Iraqi Shiite militia and Hezbollah launched a renewed offensive on Tuesday against eastern Aleppo, where some 250,000 civilians have been trapped since July, after regime-allied forces surrounded the rebel bastion. Residents and monitors have described the offensive as one of the most intense since the city was divided between government and rebel forces in 2012. On Saturday alone, the White Helmets rescue group said 38 civilians had been killed after more than 250 airstrikes and 2,500 artillery rounds had targeted eastern Aleppo. "It is a catastrophic day in besieged Aleppo with unprecedented bombardment with every type of weapon," a member of the White Helmets said in a video posted on the organization's Facebook page. The group has said they are struggling to conduct rescue operations given the scale of the bombing. "People went to sleep to the sound of bombardment and awoke to the sound of bombardment," said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The monitoring group has documented at least 90 deaths since Tuesday, a number that is likely to rise. Period of relative respite ends Up until this week, opposition-controlled areas of the city had experienced a period of relative respite since October 18, when Russia and Syria announced a series of unilateral ceasefires and Moscow said it would refrain from bombing the city. Russia and Syria said the ceasefires were designed to allow residents to flee, but few left. An alliance of rebels and jihadists used the lull in fighting to launch an offensive on government-controlled western Aleppo, killing dozens of civilians before a regime counterattack pushed the rebels back. The Russian and Iranian-backed Syrian regime aims to retake all of Aleppo, the country's largest city and commercial center before the war. Recapturing the city would deal a major blow to rebels and jihadist factions. Russia, which intervened in Syria in September 2015 to support President Bashar al-Assad, has said its forces were not participating in the offensive against eastern Aleppo. Instead, the Russian defense ministry has said its warplanes and cruise missiles were targeting an alliance of rebels and jihadists in Idlib, Homs and northern Aleppo provinces.

All hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo have been put out of order by a Syrian regime offensive. Food, water and medical supplies for 250,000 civilians are running out. All hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo are out of service as the Syrian government and allied forces fire artillery and drop bombs in a renewed offensive, the city’s health directorate and a ... Read More »

Russian Soyuz carrying three astronauts arrives at International Space Station

A Russian spaceship carrying three astronauts from around the world arrived at the International Space Station Saturday. The crew will conduct experiments on biology and physical sciences in microgravity conditions. The Russian Soyuz spacecraft, carrying astronauts from the European, Russian and American space agencies, docked at the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday. Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, a rookie astronaut, is the first French national sent to the ISS by the European Space Agency (ESA) since 2008. Russian Oleg Novitskiy, a pilot in the Russian Air Force and decade-long veteran of Russian space agency Roscosmos, made his second trip to the ISS. American astronaut, Peggy Whitson, is a space travel veteran and biochemistry expert who will break the record for most days in space by an American astronaut on this trip. Whitson previously commanded the ISS in 2007 and was the first woman to command the orbiting station, according to American space agency NASA. Three fellow astronauts greeted the new arrivals Saturday. Russians Andrei Borisenko and Sergey Ryzhikov and American Shane Kimbrough, already manning the ISS, hugged their new crewmates after the two day journey from the Baikonur launch site in Kazakhstan. "Watching you, we could not be more proud,” NASA administrator Charles Boden told the crew from Earth. The crew will conduct experiments involving biology and physical sciences under the microgravity conditions in the orbiting spaceship. Each seat on a Soyuz rocket, which can carry three astronauts at a time, reportedly costs more than $71 million (67 million euros). This is currently the only way for astronauts to reach the ISS, after the US space shuttle program was phased out in 2011. Private companies, including SpaceX and Boeing are designing spaceships to send astronauts to and from the ISS from the US once again. The first flights are not expected until late 2017 at the earliest. More than 200 people from 18 countries have been to the ISS, which circles the Earth from 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the planet. Humans have lived on the space station for more than 15 years.

A Russian spaceship carrying three astronauts from around the world arrived at the International Space Station Saturday. The crew will conduct experiments on biology and physical sciences in microgravity conditions. The Russian Soyuz spacecraft, carrying astronauts from the European, Russian and American space agencies, docked at the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday. Frenchman Thomas Pesquet, a rookie astronaut, is ... Read More »

Obama and Merkel talk Trump and Putin in Berlin

Barack Obama has had a private dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. They were expected to discuss Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Syria, ahead of talks with other EU leaders on Friday. Obama - on the final leg of his last trip to Europe as president of the US - and Merkel are expected to hold talks on Thursday followed by a news conference at which they will raise the issue of Syria, a source told the Reuters news agency. The talks are scheduled for Thursday at 3:15 p.m. (1415 UTC) at the chancellory, while European leaders and Obama will meet on Friday to discuss extending sanctions against Russia for its intervention in Ukraine, and possible new sanctions for its bombing in Syria. The Kremlin has said it is maintaining a moratorium on air strikes in the city of Aleppo. Obama has previously praised Merkel "a trusted partner" and supported her over the refugee crisis, while Merkel's congratulatory message to Trump following his victory in the November 8 election was somewhat perfunctory. Key issues Trump has signalled a possible rapprochement with Russia, raising doubts about the future of the sanctions regime introduced by Washington and Brussels in 2014 following Russia's intervention in Ukraine. A German official told the DPA news service that the plan was to agree a rollover of EU sanctions against Russia, which are due to expire at the end of January, in the coming weeks. European leaders will want clarity from Obama, who met Trump last week and said afterwards the president-elect would maintain core relationships around the world, including with NATO. European officials fear that Russia will use the time before Trump's inauguration to launch new offensives in Syria and Ukraine. Two diplomatic sources said the issue of Syria would also come up at the Friday meeting.

Barack Obama has had a private dinner with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. They were expected to discuss Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Syria, ahead of talks with other EU leaders on Friday. Obama – on the final leg of his last trip to Europe as president of the US – and Merkel are expected to hold talks on ... Read More »

Donald Trump’s vision for Syria

The US president-elect's view of the Syrian conflict has remained one of his few consistent positions. But Donald Trump has said that if he did attack the Syrian regime, "it would be by surprise." "I've had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria," US President-elect Donald Trump told American newspaper "Wall Street Journal" (WSJ) last week. As the self-proclaimed billionaire prepares to enter the White House, questions have arisen regarding his policy on Syria, which has witnessed popular protests transform into a multipronged conflict since 2011. But behind the populist slogans and divisive rhetoric, Trump has offered fragments of a blueprint for his vision of the conflict, highlighting a focus on combating the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group in lieu of pursuing an aggressive policy on President Bashar al-Assad's brutal regime. "My attitude was you're fighting Syria, Syria is fighting ISIS, and you have to get rid of ISIS. Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria … Now we're backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are," Trump said, referring to the IS by its other acronym, which stands for "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria." "We end up fighting Russia, fighting Syria," if the US attacks Assad, he told WSJ. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is tipped to be a top candidate for the Secretary of State position, said on Tuesday that Trump's foreign policy in the region would hone in on dismantling the "Islamic State." "ISIS … is the greatest danger, and not because ISIS in Iraq and in Syria, but because ISIS did something al-Qaeda never did - ISIS was able to spread itself around the world," Giuliani said, according to American broadcaster CNN. Opposing regime change It should come as no surprise that Trump opposes military interventions aimed at toppling governments, making it a policy point to "end the current strategy of nation-building and regime change," as his campaign website states. In numerous instances, he has lambasted Washington's support for "moderate" rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad regime. In an interviewed aired by CBS' "This Morning" show in February, Trump questioned the ultimate aim of supplying armed opposition groups in Syria. "Assad's no baby, he's not good. But who are the people we are backing?" Trump said. "We're giving all this money and all of this equipment to people we have no idea who they are. They're probably worse than Assad," he added. One of the show's presenters asked whether better ties with Russia would allow him to pressure Moscow for Assad to step aside. "Well, they've been trying to do that. Could I? I don't think it's that important, to be honest with you. I think, frankly, you get rid of Assad or you knock out that government, who is going to take over, the people that we're backing? Then you're going to have (something) like Libya," he said. Since his unprecedented electoral victory earlier this month, the CBS interview has been circulated widely across social media platforms as an example of his foreign policy vision. 'But if I did' attack Syria If any of Trump's positions have witnessed a degree of consistency, it has been his take on Washington's role in the Syrian conflict. In September 2013, at a moment of heated debate across the US on whether Obama would launch a military campaign in Syria aimed at ousting Assad, Trump scrambled to his Twitter account to offer his input. "Many Syrian 'rebels' are radical jihadis. Not our friends and supporting them doesn't serve our national interest." When asked by another Twitter user what we would do about the situation if he was president, he said: "I'd let them all fight with each other - (and) focus on US." "But if I did (attack), it would be by surprise and not blurted all over the media like fools," he added. "What I am saying is stay out of Syria." Obama's policy to support "moderate" rebels stemmed from the Assad regime's brutal repression of opposition forces. According to UN figures, more than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria since 2011, when the Syrian army launched a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters demanding Assad to step down. But Trump's remarks not only represent a departure on Washington's policy on Assad's Syria. They also reflect a marked shift towards counterterrorism operations at the expense of human rights, echoed in his comments to send alleged terrorists to Guantanamo and reintroduce torture tactics. While it is unclear who Trump refers to in his campaign promises when he cites working "with our Arab allies and friends in the Middle East" to defeat the militant group, signs point to his administration's consideration of the Assad regime in that plot as a potential partner at best and a "bad" guy at worst.

The US president-elect’s view of the Syrian conflict has remained one of his few consistent positions. But Donald Trump has said that if he did attack the Syrian regime, “it would be by surprise.” “I’ve had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria,” US President-elect Donald Trump told American newspaper “Wall Street Journal” (WSJ) last week. As the self-proclaimed ... Read More »

Assad: Trump could be ‘natural ally’ against terrorism

The Syrian President has said Donald Trump could be an ally if his actions match his campaign rhetoric. Trump has signalled his foreign policy will be less hostile to the Assad regime than the Obama administration's. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview that US president-elect Donald Trump could be a "natural ally," if he follows through on his pledge to fight "terrorists" and overcomes "countervailing forces" in the US administration. Making his first public reaction to Trump's victory in last week's election, Assad said he was unsure if the incoming president would stay true to his campaign rhetoric about focusing more on fighting the so-called Islamic State (IS) group and less on Syrian regime forces. "We cannot tell anything about what he's going to do, but if... he is going to fight the terrorists, of course we are going to be ally, natural ally in that regard with the Russian, with the Iranian, with many other countries," Assad told Portugal's RTP state television. In a marked departure from the Obama administration, Trump has suggested his foreign policy will be less hostile to Assad's government. The Syrian regime is currently mired in a four-way civil war that also involves mainly Islamist rebels, the IS jihadist group, and leftist Kurdish forces. "I would say this is promising, but can he deliver?" Assad said. "Can he go in that regard? What about the countervailing forces within the administration, the mainstream media that were against him? How can he deal with it?" he added. The United States is currently leading an international coalition carrying out air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq. It is also supporting rebels battling the Assad government. On Tuesday, Syrian government aircraft bombed the besieged rebel-held city of Aleppo for the first time in three weeks, activists said. In an interview with The New York Times in March, Trump said he thought "the approach of fighting Assad and (IS) simultaneously was madness, and idiocy". "You can't be fighting two people that are fighting each other, and fighting them together. You have to pick one or the other," Trump said. Trump has also pledged to improve relations with Assad's main ally in the war, Russia. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a phone call with Trump in which the two pledged to combine efforts to tackle international terrorism and extremism.

The Syrian President has said Donald Trump could be an ally if his actions match his campaign rhetoric. Trump has signalled his foreign policy will be less hostile to the Assad regime than the Obama administration’s. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview that US president-elect Donald Trump could be a “natural ally,” if he follows through on his ... Read More »

UN committee urges Russia to end rights abuses in Crimea

UN member states have approved a resolution condemning Russia's occupation of Crimea and calling for rights monitors to be allowed onto the peninsula. Ukraine says there's been a rise in abuses against local residents. The UN General Assembly's human rights committee backed the Ukraine-drafted resolution 73 votes to 23 with 76 abstentions. The document reaffirms the UN's commitment to Ukraine's sovereignty over Crimea and urges Russia to immediately end all abuses against the Black Sea territory's residents, including "arbitrary detentions, torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, and to revoke all discriminatory legislation." Moscow annexed Crimea in March 2014 after months of protests in Kyiv led to the ouster of the former Moscow-friendly president, Viktor Yanukovich. One month later, pro-Russian separatists launched an insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Ahead of the vote, Russia urged the committee to reject the resolution, calling it "politically motivated." China, Iran, India, Syria, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Serbia and North Korea joined Russia in voting against the text, but it was ultimately approved with backing from the United States, France and Britain. The resolution is expected to be formally adopted by a similar vote before the full 193-member assembly next month. Increase in rights abuses Human rights groups have voiced concern over the repression of Crimea's Muslim Tatar minority and the erosion of freedom of expression in the Black Sea territory over the past two years. Local authorities have barred at least two Crimean Tatar leaders from entering the peninsula, shut down Crimean Tatar media outlets, and prohibited peaceful gatherings. The draft resolution condemns discrimination against the ethnic group and calls on Russia to revoke a decision to ban the Crimean Tatar's self-governing body, and to allow cultural and religious institutions to reopen. Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergiy Kyslytsya told the committee the resolution's main goal "is to ensure that Russia fully complies with its obligations as an occupying power." "After Russia occupied Crimea, the human rights situation has deteriorated sharply with extrajudicial killings, intimidation, arbitrary detentions, torture and abuses to the freedom of expression," Kyslytsya said. Russian foreign ministry official Anatoly Viktorov called the draft one-sided. "It completely ignores the negative impact that the actions of Ukrainian authorities have had on the residents of Crimea," he said, adding that the people of Crimea "chose to vote in a historic referendum to reunite with Russia." A UN monitoring mission on human rights set up in Ukraine in 2014 has not yet been allowed to enter Crimea. The text of the resolution also urged Russia to be more cooperative on that front.

UN member states have approved a resolution condemning Russia’s occupation of Crimea and calling for rights monitors to be allowed onto the peninsula. Ukraine says there’s been a rise in abuses against local residents. The UN General Assembly’s human rights committee backed the Ukraine-drafted resolution 73 votes to 23 with 76 abstentions. The document reaffirms the UN’s commitment to Ukraine’s ... Read More »

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