Today, President Obama authorized a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election in 2016. Russia’s cyber activities were intended to influence the election, erode faith in U.S. democratic institutions, sow doubt about the integrity of our electoral process, and undermine confidence in the institutions of the U.S. government. These actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Sanctioning Malicious Russian Cyber Activity; Responding to Russian Harassment of U.S. Personnel; Raising Awareness About Russian Malicious Cyber Activity.
Complete Document – The White House.
“The Warsaw summit is of breakthrough significance. Our message to NATO from the very beginning was clear: in the face of the changing situation in the security environment in our part of the world, in Central and Eastern Europe it is necessary to strengthen the presence and potential of NATO,” President Andrzej Duda has said an interview ahead of a Warsaw summit of the military alliance. “We have said from the outset that there is a need to strengthen the Baltic states and strengthen Poland in these terms through the presence of NATO forces in nations in Central and Eastern Europe.”
Asked if four battalions of a thousand soldiers each in Poland and the Baltic countries would be enough to deter Russia, Duda said: “This is above all a clear signal what the intentions of the Alliance are. “It is above all a clear signal that the Alliance is tightly-knit, that the Alliance is effective, that the Alliance is able to make decisions and, above all, that it is cohesive, it is together, that it shows solidarity, that we are reacting to what is happening…
“One thing is the most important: that anyone who carries out an act of aggression on a country in which there are NATO troops will at the same time be carrying out an act of aggression on all countries.”
“The security situation in Europe has significantly deteriorated,” Mrs Angela Merkel told the German parliament. “Russia’s actions have deeply disturbed our eastern allies. They therefore require clear reassurance from the alliance.” NATO is expected to approve plans to send four combat battalions of around 1,000 troops to each of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at the Warsaw summit. “If international law and the basic principle of the inviolability of borders are put in question by word and deed, then of course trust is lost,” Mrs Merkel said.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Allied leaders will take key decisions to strengthen the Alliance’s defence and deterrence and project stability beyond NATO’s borders.
Since the Alliance’s last summit in September 2014 in Wales, NATO has implemented the biggest reinforcement of its collective defence since the Cold War. “We delivered a faster, a stronger, and a more ready Alliance”, Mr Stoltenberg told a press conference at NATO headquarters. “We now need to take the next steps. So at our Summit in Warsaw, we will agree to further enhance our military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance.”
The Secretary General said that Allied leaders will agree to deploy four robust, multinational battalions to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Further efforts to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defence include a tailored presence in the south-east, based on a multinational brigade in Romania and steps to improve cyber-defence, civil preparedness and the ability to defend against ballistic missile attacks.
The US wants other members in the alliance to share the burden of military spending. NATO wants its members to try to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. Many members will want to revise this system in Warsaw as it does not reflect the contribution of each country
Mr Stoltenberg said preparations for holding another meeting of the NATO-Russia Council shortly after the Warsaw Summit are ongoing. “We remain open to dialogue with Russia. The NATO-Russia Council has an important role to play as a forum for dialogue and information exchange, to reduce tensions and increase predictability,” Stoltenberg said.
Pope Francis spoke on the Armenian genocide and Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, as well as a host of other topics in a wide-ranging press conference on his flight back to Rome following his Apostolic Voyage to Armenia.
Sunday’s in-flight press conference began with questions about the Apostolic Voyage to Armenia that Pope Francis had just concluded.
Asked about his message for Armenia for the future, the Holy Father spoke about his hopes and prayers for justice and peace, and his encouragement that leaders are working to that end. In particular, he talked of the work of reconciliation with Turkey and with Azerbaijan. The Pope will be travelling to Azerbaijani later this year.
Pope Francis also spoke about his use of the word ‘genocide,’ acknowledging the legal import of the expression, but explaining that this was the term commonly in use in Argentina for the massacre of Armenians during the first World War.
About the Pan-Orthodox Council, which concluded Sunday in Crete, the Pope said, “A step was made forward . . . I think the result was positive.” In response to a question about upcoming commemorations of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant “Reformation,” Pope Francis said, “I think perhaps this is also the right moment for us not only to remember the wounds on both sides, but also to recognize the gifts of the Reformation.” He also had words of praise for Martin Luther. The Pope praying and working together are important for fostering unity.
Reporters also questioned the Pope about recent events, including the recent “Brexit” vote in Britain. He said he had not had time to study the reasons for the British vote to leave the European Union, but noted that the vote showed “divisions,” which could also be seen in other countries. “Fraternity is better, and bridges are better than walls,” he said, but he acknowledged that there are “different ways of unity.” Creativity and fruitfulness are two key words for the European Union as it faces new challenges.
Finally, answering a question from Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis reflected on his visit to the Memorial at Tzitzernakaberd, and his upcoming journey to Poland, which will include a visit to Auschwitz. The Pope said that in such places, he likes to reflect silently, “alone,” praying that the Lord might grant him “the grace of crying.”
Extract from the Vatican Radio.
Poland has signed a deal to build the first gas pipeline connecting the Baltic states to the EU energy market. The pipeline will integrate EU and Baltic energy markets and reduce dependence on Russian gas.
The 558 million euro ($636 million) gas pipeline will end the energy isolation of the Baltic countries by connecting the gas markets of Poland and Lithuania, the European Commission said
“Today we have done much more than bringing the energy isolation of the Baltic States to an end. We have brought the region further together,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said. “We are launching a project that will allow us to overcome historic limitations, including the direction of gas supplies from East to West,” PM Kopacz told a press conference.
The 534-kilometer (332-mile) Gas Interconnector Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) will be backed by a 305 million euro investment from the European Commission, which has set out the goal of creating an integrated European gas market and ensuring members have multiple supplies of energy. Once the GIPL is built, it will connect the Lithuanian, Estonian and Latvian gas network with the EU. The pipeline is scheduled to be completed by December 2019.
Earlier this week, PM Ewa Kopacz opened a liquefied natural gas terminal at the Baltic port of Świnoujście, northern Poland, which is yet another move expected to improve the energy independence of the country. The first shipment of LNG is expected to arrive from Qatar in December
The crash of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014 was caused by the detonation of a 9N314M-type warhead launched from the eastern part of Ukraine using a Buk missile system. So says the investigation report published by the Dutch Safety Board today. Moreover, it is clear that Ukraine already had sufficient reason to close the airspace over the eastern part of Ukraine as a precaution before 17 July 2014. None of the parties involved recognised the risk posed to overflying civil aircraft by the armed conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine.
Aleksander Lukashenko has won a fifth term as president of Belarus with a victory that could ease relations with the West and raise questions about his ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Lukashenko won 83.5% of the vote, the Central election commission said, 3.5% more than in the 2010 elections. Turnout was 86.75%, the commission added.
No veteran opposition leaders stood as they were not allowed to register. They said that the vote would not be free or fair. Dozens of opposition supporters held a protest march in the capital Minsk after the polls closed.
Relations with Moscow have shown signs of strain. In September, Vladimir Putin approved a plan to build an airbase in Belarus, but Lukashenko said his country had no need for such a base.
The EU will lift its sanctions on Belarus, including those on Lukashenko, for four months after the vote, diplomatic sources reported last week.
A long waited summit for peace in eastern Ukraine ended with a call for the delay of contentious rebel plans to hold local elections this month and for both sides to begin a promised withdrawal of smaller-caliber weapons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris. The summit was the first since the leaders worked out a peace deal in Minsk in February.
“We don’t want elections to get held in eastern Ukrainian territories under conditions that would not respect Minsk,” Hollande said. The Minsk deal includes a year-end deadline for Kyiv to recover full control over its border with Russia.
The Ukrainian pullback will take 41 days. “The war will be over when the last piece of the Ukrainian land has been liberated,” Poroshenko said.
Merkel, who described a “positive mood” at the Paris meeting, said after the talks that Putin had “committed to working towards…establishing the conditions that would allow elections to take place according to Minsk, based on Ukrainian law, in a coordinated fashion between the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk and the Ukrainian government.”
But the separatists’ representatives in Donetsk and Luhansk have previously announced they would conduct elections on their own terms on October 18 and November 1, respectively, without the involvement of the Ukrainian government.
The regular regional elections in the rest of the country are scheduled for October 25.
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