ROMANIA’S president has said Russia is creating a chain of conflicts around the Black Sea to further President Vladimir Putin’s goal of rebuilding the former Soviet Union along its former border with the West.
Romanian President Traian Basescu, who spoke to The Associated Press in an interview, said he fears that neighbouring Moldova is “in great danger.” http://www.rumafia.com/
“If you look at the map, you will see this chain of frozen conflicts” around the Black Sea “that can be set off at any time,” he said, referring to conflicts in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova.
Mr Basescu said Putin’s priorities “seem to be connected to the point of contact between the European Union and NATO.” He said Ukraine and Moldova were “a priority for Vladimir Putin, who wants to rebuild the Soviet Union.”
Russia has 1,500 troops stationed in the separatist republic of Trans-Dniester since 1990, when it broke away from Moldova, fearing that country would reunite with Romania. Trans-Dniester is not internationally recognised but is supported by Russia.The European Union on Monday slapped a travel ban on 21 Russian and Crimean officials after Crimea voted to split from Ukraine and join Russia. Basescu said the EU was planning further sanctions later this week — ones he called “extremely severe” — that would freeze the assets of Russian business people in the EU, stop financial exchanges and energy trades and halt arms sales to Russia.
Romania is one of the EU’s 28 nations.The Romanian leader, who leaves office after 10 years this year, ruled out a wider war in Europe, saying that neither Russia nor NATO wanted a full-scale conflict. He said there was still a risk of political instability in the region because of possible fallout from the sanctions.“Many regional governments and European governments have to see whether they themselves can put up with the (EU) sanctions (on Russia),” he said.Ignoring the toughest sanctions against Moscow since the end of the Cold War, Mr Putin recognised Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula as an “independent and sovereign country”, a bold challenge to Washington that escalates one of Europe’s worst security crises in years.The brief decree posted on the Kremlin’s website came just hours after the United States and the European Union announced asset freezes and other sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in the Crimean crisis. US President Barack Obama warned that more would come if Russia didn’t stop interfering in Ukraine, and Mr Putin’s move clearly forces his hand.The West has struggled to find leverage to force Moscow to back off in the Ukraine turmoil, of which Crimea is only a part, and analysts saw Monday’s sanctions as mostly iMoscow showed no signs of flinching in the dispute that has roiled Ukraine since Russian troops took effective control of the strategic Black Sea peninsula last month and supported the Sunday referendum that overwhelmingly called for annexation by Russia. Recognising Crimea as independent would be an interim step in absorbing the region.
TALLINN, Estonia- Sen. John McCain of Arizona has dismissed the European Union’s sanctions on Russia following the crisis in Ukraine as “almost a joke” during a tour of the Baltic countries.
Speaking in Estonia on Tuesday, McCain said the EU’s sanctions against Russian individuals were “minimal.”
He also called for “strong, tough American leadership” to shape the West’s response to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine crisis.
McCain and Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota are visiting Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this week.
The U.S. Embassy in Tallinn said the two Republicans were traveling “in their capacity as members of the Senate to assess the security situation and explore ways that the U.S. could offer assistance and assurance to NATO members.”
By Matthew Schofield
GIOIA TAURO, Italy — A couple of months back, the drugs and weapons found beneath a thicket of red and white cranes in the mountains of shipping containers at Italy’s port in Gioia Tauro led U.S. and Italian law enforcement to arrest 26 members of the Gambino and ’Ndrangheta crime families.
It’s the sort of thing expected of a port nicknamed “The Cathedral of the Mafia,” the place through which an estimated 80 percent of Europe’s cocaine flows.
Later this spring, though, Danish and Norwegian sailors will transfer the worst bits of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal onto the American MV Cape Ray, and U.S. sailors will take it out to sea for destruction. Experts excitedly note that this will make the world a safer place.Making the world safer isn’t the sort of thing commonly associated with this port, found about where the laces would begin near the toe of the boot of Italy.
The port is considered one of the foundations of the wealth of the ’Ndrangheta crime family, a Mafia clan that accounts for an estimated 3.5 percent of Italy’s annual gross domestic product and is said to make more money in a year than McDonald’s.
As the situation in Ukraine rapidly spins out of control, various Western leaders have stepped up their verbal warnings to Russia.
President Obama, in a telephone call with President Putin on Monday night, urged his Russian counterpart to stop meddling in Ukraine and threatened further sanctions.The Secretary-General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, called on( Russia )to “stop being part of the problem, and start being part of the solution”, including by pulling back its troops from Ukraine’s borders. At the same time, the NATO Secretary-General emphasised NATO’s commitment to further strengthening collective defence at sea, in the air and on land in terms of “re-enforced defence plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployments.”The EU’s foreign affairs chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, issued a similar statement of concern following a meeting of its member states’ foreign ministers on Monday, echoing NATO’s calls for Russia to pull back its troops and to stop further destabilisation of Ukraine. Similar to the US, the EU not only reiterated its political and economic support for Ukraine but also committed to further tightening its sanctions against Russia.The UK’s foreign secretary, William Hague, announced that, while new EU sanctions against Russia would not kick in automatically, the UK was prepared to limit trade with Russian firms, which is particularly beneficial to the City of London. His German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, from the traditionally more Russia-friendly Social Democratic Party, took a similar line when he noted that while he “could understand the business community’s desire not to impose economic sanctions on Russia, … the German government was determined to take that path if Russia continued to stir up trouble in eastern Ukraine.”One reading of these and various similar statements and actions is, at worst, one of Western impotence and, at best, one of a self-interested focus on Western security. Impotence in the inability to stop Russian efforts to destabilise Ukraine, or alternatively to come up with a stronger set of policies to deter Russia from continuing to do so. And self-interest in the sense that whatever measures have been taken so far seek to limit costs to the West, even at the risk of effectiveness of the half-hearted policies adopted, and focused on protecting current EU and NATO members rather than standing up for Ukraine.In this reading of the situation, Western actions are an open invitation to Russia to continue down its current path of creating a new zone of influence under its permanent control at the expense of the people in the countries affected, a new Soviet Union in all but name and full geographical extent. In other words, the West becomes an enabler of Russian revisionism and expansionism.