Draft constitutional amendments give president right to dissolve local governments – Poroshenko

From – http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/general/275403.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said that the draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine related to decentralization give the president the right to dissolve local government agencies, which is normal practice in many European countries.

“I believe it is fundamentally important that the president should have the right, as the guarantor of territorial integrity, for the immediate response in the form of a decision to terminate powers [of local government agencies]. The Venice Commission has recognized as fully justified and supported the right, I quote, ‘for faster and efficient intervention”. The right to dissolve local self-government agencies by the central authorities is common in many European democracies. However, they seldom use this right and being an optimist, I predict that in Ukraine this will not be a common practice,” he said in Kyiv on Wednesday during the presentation of draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine on decentralization.

Ukraine Can Defeat The Separatists

From – http://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2015/07/01/ukraine-can-defeat-the-separatists/

ED: To be perfectly honest, im not so sure, look at Debaltseve…

For those following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an ongoing source of concern is where Russia will draw the line. Common wisdom says if Ukraine continues to resist, Russia will commit more forces and overrun Ukraine—possibly continuing its momentum into Estonia or Poland. As members of NATO, an attack on either of those two countries risks invoking Article V, NATO’s common-defense clause, thus drawing Europe and America into war with Russia, inexorably leading to World War III and nuclear exchange.

Well, there’s another cause for concern.

Ukraine is much stronger than people give it credit for. Up until now, the Ukrainians have been fighting with one arm tied behind their back—much of their combat power has deliberately been held in reserve, to risk provoking Russia into allocating more forces to the fight. The last time the Ukrainian military mounted a calculated offensive against the separatists, in August of last year, it experienced quick success. Russia had to move thousands of soldiers across the border to shore up separatist resolve, and assisted the separatists with artillery, tanks and anti-air assets (including the Russian AA battery that shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17). Since then, there has been a status quo of sorts—not to be confused with a cease-fire, as casualties by the dozens occur every day. The battle in East Ukraine has reached equilibrium.

Many in the West believe that Russia can decide to break this status quo at any time with a quick push; it can blitz through Ukrainian lines and make its way to Kyiv and Odessa—or beyond. Ukraine is incapable of standing up to the Russians, and their defensive capabilities are barely adequate to resist an invasion. Presumably, conventional wisdom is the same in Russia because its military has not made any serious, concerted effort to overwhelm Ukrainian positions. Up to this point it has made strong probes against Ukrainian lines, or maneuvered to surround National Guard positions, and then negotiated surrender with Ukrainian authorities.

But Ukraine does have sophisticated defensive capabilities, which are increasing with every day. The Ukrainian population—especially Kyiv and parts of the West and South—feels more and more invested in the struggle as friends and relatives are killed or wounded on the front lines. And Ukrainian military formations are training hard.

On the ground in Ukraine

I spent a week in Yavoriv recently, watching my old unit, the 173rd, train two companies of Ukrainian National Guardsmen (NGU). It was very impressive: Ukrainian soldiers moving and communicating tactically at a level that matched or exceeded most conventional U.S. units. For nearly seven years, I served as an infantry officer (over two of which I spent in Afghanistan) in combat; in my time training Afghan police and soldiers, I never saw a unit of Afghans that looked as professional as the Ukrainians.

Throughout that week, I heard artillery and tank fire—Ukrainian artillerymen training to increase their capacity to fight together as small units, working with mechanized assets, calling for fire from mortars and from artillery. They were part of a unified military based on principles of merit and organization rather than Soviet authority.

How Ukraine can pull ahead

If the Ukrainians continue to train hard, and build combat power—and I suspect that their incentive to do so is greater than that of their (mostly Russian) adversaries—there is a possible outcome here that I have yet seen described in Western media, nor have I heard it in Russian media, either: Ukraine can defeat the separatists. Ukraine can defeat Russia on the battlefield. Ukraine and its military does not know this, but it is possible. In fact, Russian overconfidence, Russian complacency and broken Russian doctrine makes it not just possible but even likely that a decisive, surprise combined-arms attack by a well-trained, reinvigorated Ukrainian military will be able to achieve complete surprise over its adversaries, surround them, and wipe them out.

Russia is fragile. The longer it waits in Ukraine, the greater the chances that its military forces will encounter a disaster not faced since World War II: the encirclement and destruction of a Russian battle group. Every week that passes, the Ukrainian military is growing stronger and more confident. Every week that passes, the Russian soldiers and units become more certain that they have the advantage, and that their Ukrainian adversaries are weak and unmotivated.

Risks of an endgame

This is the greatest risk we face for World War III. Not that Russia defeats Ukraine and moves toward Poland and Estonia, but that Ukraine wipes out the Russians currently in Ukraine, and Putin is forced to take some drastic action to prevent further losses. After all, why should Ukraine not feel entitled to take some of Russia’s territory in return for their lost Crimea? And who will be there to stop them, save demoralized and confused Russian conscripts?

I hope Western negotiators are able to help Putin see the folly of his position in Ukraine, and sooner rather than later—the longer he stays in Ukraine, the more likely it is that he will suffer a dangerous and humiliating reverse.

President of Ukraine stunned the audience with impressive number of Russian terrorist troops in the occupied territories of Ukraine

From – http://strataforum.org/president-of-ukraine-stunned-the-audience-with-impressive-number-of-russian-terrorist-troops-in-the-occupied-territories-of-ukraine/

Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed in the occupied territory of Donbass a group of 200 thousand of soldiers who are reinforced by tanks, advanced missile systems and surface-to-air missiles.

This was announced by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko during his interview to Corriere della Sera.

The President also commented Russian President Vladimir Putin’s phone call to President Barack Obama, noting that it is “naturally good”, but that is the only positive signal, which itself Poroshenko saw in a few months.

“This is indisputable that Putin immediately after the annexation of Crimea invaded part of Ukraine. At Putin’s orders, 200,000 troops have amassed on our territory [comment: perhaps this is total number of Russian terrorist troops and separatist militia] along with an arsenal of tanks, sophisticated missile-launching systems and surface-to-air rockets. Like the one that shot down the Malaysian civilian jet last year,” – said Petro Poroshenko. For comparison sake – as Ukrainian agency UNIAN reported on June 26, 2015, Petro Poroshenko said that the number of Ukrainian ATO servicemen in eastern Ukraine was 60,000 men. Last week, the ATO press office, Russia continued to deploy a group of troops in close vicinity to border on Ukraine and in the occupied territory of Ukraine, consisting of 45 battalion tactical groups, 17 company tactical groups, with a total number of servicemen exceeding 54,000 people, with all weapons and equipment. In addition, 15 battalion tactical groups and six company tactical groups were operating within the territory of Ukraine.

Poroshenko explained that Ukraine asks US similar weapons. “It is our right as a sovereign state. But we still did not get any lethal weapons.” – he said. So far Ukraine received “electronic counter-artillery units, communications equipment, a few armoured vehicles with machine guns and some small reconnaissance drones. We [Ukraine] are also working with American intelligence and have instructors from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.”

About Ukraine’s Nato membership Petro Poroshenko replied: “The time is not yet right. You need to satisfy a number of requirements before you can join NATO. We are working to radically reform the country economically, socially and administratively, which is going to be a long job. It’ll take at least six or seven years. When we’re ready, we’ll call a referendum to ask the Ukrainian people whether we should join the Atlantic alliance”.

As reported, Poroshenko also announced a special law on the election of the Donbas and revealed the condition of assignment of funds to [restore] Donbass.

The situation in the zone of conflic remains tense. As reported by UNIAN on Tuesday, Russian terrorist troops attacked Ukrainian army positions and civilian areas in eastern Ukraine 83 times in the last day, including 40 attacks from Monday evening to Tuesday morning , June 30, 2015. All civilians have left Shyrokyne near the Ukrainian-controlled city of Mariupol, over 80% of houses destroyed by terrorists. On June 29, 2015 101 assaults were launched on Ukrainian-held areas. A total of 540 cases of the violation of the ceasefire by Russia terrorist troops in Donbas were registered past week. More than half of them were recorded near the occupied city of Donetsk. Terrorists are trying to prevent the work of OSCE mission on terrotories controled by them. On June 29, 2015 terrorist fired on observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission near the village of Bezimenne.

The end of Putin’s gas bluff

From – http://euromaidanpress.com/2015/06/29/the-end-of-putins-gas-bluff/

For several consecutive months Gazprom functionaries have been trying to convince Ukraine and the world that gas transit through Ukrainian territory was a closed issue. The decision to build the “Turkish Stream” had been personally approved by Vladimir Putin, thus demonstrating the seriousness of Russian intentions.

Gazprom therefore advised Europeans to consider building gas pipelines from the borders of Turkey — since European clients supposedly would have no other alternatives for obtaining Russian gas. And when the representatives of the European Commission tried to point out to the Russians that current contracts did not provide for such insolence, Moscow began to openly mock the critics who refused to understand that the Ukrainian train had left forever. The reluctance of European countries to extend the mythical gas pipeline from Turkey was explained by political pressure on Russia. The argument was that these countries wanted to keep Russia dependent on Ukraine, contrary to common sense.

Now, after all these self-assured statements, President Vladimir Putin has instructed the Gazprom head Alexey Miller to hold talks with Ukraine on continuing the transit of Russian gas through Ukrainian territory after 2019. Miller, of course, is trying to pretend that Gazprom retains its tough position and would never agree to unfavorable conditions. But one should remember that as recently as several days ago no one in Gazprom wanted to hear anything at all about any conditions for the negotiations. There would no transit (through Ukraine)and that was it!

What happened? Nothing special. That is precisely the crux of the matter. All the declarations claiming that Gazprom can dispense with Ukrainian transit have been no more than bluffs. And the issue is not even the ability of the Russians to supply gas while ignoring Ukrainian pipelines, but in the fact that there is no need to ignore them. The desire to shut down the Ukrainian transit was politics. Because from the economic point of view it is not clear why billions of dollars need to be wasted on constructing routes that duplicate the existing ones. Especially since it is impossible to fill the new pipelines completely with crude oil anyway.

As a result of dropping oil prices, the European energy policy, and competition,times are not easy now at Gazprom. The Russian budget also leaves little room for throwing billions into a bottomless pit. In this situation Putin can only look reality in the eye and shed a tear. The gas bluff is coming to an end.