Friday, December 18, 2015
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk declared a moratorium on the payment of three-billion-dollar debt to Russia.
The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine supported his decision. In addition, the official Kiev is not going to pay the debt of $507 million to Russian banks (the debt was amassed by two Ukrainian companies that collaborated with Russian banks).
“From today, all payments shall be suspended until our proposals are accepted or a law decision is made,” Yatsenyuk said, TASS reports.
The statement from the Ukrainian prime minister is equivalent to the official declaration of default by Ukraine.
Noteworthy, the International Monetary Fund earlier acknowledged that Ukraine’s credit obligations were sovereign, rather than commercial. If Ukraine does not repay its debt to Russia before December 21, international creditors will cease to support the Ukrainian economy.
However, the IMF changed its rules to be able to continue crediting Ukraine, driving the country further into debt. Kiev has not adopted a budget for 2016 that would meet the requirements of the IMF, making a new loan impossible for the time being.
Credit to Eu Times
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The UN on Thursday recognized Yom Kippur as an official United Nations holiday. And so, from next year on, there will be no official meetings at the UN on Yom Kippur and employees can take the day off and go out to not have lunch.
The decision was reached through a collaboration between Israel’s UN Envoy Danny Danon and Ambassador Samantha Power, his US counterpart.
“Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for the Jewish People, and the UN should have recognized this holiday many years ago,” Danon said on Thursday, noting with pride that “today we finally have an official place for the Jewish religion in the world’s parliament.”
The fact that the US was behind the move helped persuade the usual anti-Israel block to let the Jews have this one, which makes it the second time they’ve been nice to the chosen people since Danon has been chosen to represent Israel in the world body.
“The American-Israeli partnership at the UN stands for good versus bad and right versus wrong,” Danon stated, adding, “The value of justice, anchored in Jewish tradition and thought, will finally find its place in the family of nations, and be a part of the UN’s history.”
To date, the UN has recognized 10 official holidays, including Christmas and Eid Al Fitr, but no Jewish holidays. Thursday’s decision establishes Yom Kippur as an official UN holiday, allowing Jewish UN employees to observe the holiday without tapping their banked holiday hours.
Last year, 32 UN members submitted the resolution for the organization to recognize Yom Kippur as an official holiday, noting the universal message of the Jewish Day of Atonement. Of course, no one told those friendly folks that the central portion of the prayers on Yom Kippur revolves around the ancient ceremony at the Temple, which would have been blocked nowadays by the Jordanian Waqf.
Yom Kippur is a scriptural holiday that commands Jews to abstain from eating, wearing shoes, washing, smearing one’s body with fragrant oils and having intimate relations. There is no obligation at all on non-Jews to observe the holiday. In fact, a more fitting day for the UN to embrace would have been Sukkot, which was commanded as a holiday that encourages some gentile participation.
Credit to jewishpress.com
The Israel fifth Dolphin class submarine and second new-generation AIP (air independent propulsion) platform is making the 3,000- mile journey to its home base at the Haifa naval base from its German manufacturing center, a senior naval source said Thursday.
The INS Rahav is carrying some 50 personnel, and “minimal weapons needed to protect itself,” before its arrival in Israel next month.
After its arrival, Israeli systems will be installed on board.
“We expect the submarine to be fully operational in a number of months,” the naval officer said.
AIP submarines can remain submerged for significantly longer periods of time than conventional platforms, and having two such submarines means that Israel has “doubled its covert capabilities,” the source said.
The submarine will stop at the site of where the INS Dakar sunk to the ocean floor in 1968 for a memorial ceremony, before continuing in its journey to Haifa.
The INS Rahav, like the INS Tanin, can use AIP fuel cells to supplement its diesel-electric engines, and does not have to surface often to recharge its batteries.
The new submarines will be based out of a specialized dock built by the navy at Haifa, which allows for the advanced submarines to be kept separately, covertly, and in a convenient manner. The dock allows for flexibility, and enables the submarines to be on call 24 hours a day.
The new submarines will bring with them many unique capabilities, such as lengthy intelligence gathering.
“Submarines bring a level of intelligence to Israel that cannot be achieved by other units,” Lt.-Cmdr. Y., a past commander of the navy’s submarine school, told The Jerusalem Post in 2014.
“Drones that fly in the air can be shot down,” he said, “but a submarine can stay in enemy territory for weeks, and no one knows it’s there.
Credit to Jerusalem Post
Russian ships detained in the northern Turkish port of Zonguldak.
Photo Credit: IHA TV screenshot.
Turkey has tightened its inspections of Russian ships docked in its harbors in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, and has so far detained 27 Russian ships which failed to meet sailing criteria. This move is in retaliation for the Russian authorities detaining Eight Turkish ships in Russian ports, denying them permission to travel since Nov. 24, the day when Turkey downed a Russian military jet. The Turks said the Russian ships were too old to sail.
According to Turkish daily Habertürk, citing shipping officials in Ankara, Turkish and Russian authorities contacted each other via email, with the Russian side agreeing to a meeting to resolve the crisis, although how and when the parties will meet is yet unclear.
According to Daily Sabah, as soon as the Russian Su-24 fighter was downed over Turkey’s airspace, Russia implemented non-reciprocal trade ties and customs practices. It detained Turkish business travelers, blocked Turkish trucks from crossing the border into Russia, and denied Turkish civilian vessels entry into Russian ports, forcing them to wait in open waters.
Daily Sabah claims that while Turkish officials have been attempting to ease the tensions, declaring they never considered Russia an enemy of Turkey, Russia remained hostile, and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a list of sanctions against Turkey. The list, published on the government’s official website on Tuesday, includes agricultural products that Russia would no longer import from Turkey beginning Jan. 1, and retroactively approved a ban on charter flights to Turkey which has been in effect since Dec. 1.
Credit to jewishpress.com
It’s been nearly a month since Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 in what not only represented the most serious escalation to date in Syria’s five year conflict but also marked the first time a NATO member has engaged a Russian or Soviet aircraft in at least six decades.
The “incident” - which came several weeks after Ankara downed what certainly appeared to be a Russian drone - infuriated The Kremlin, setting off a war of words that culminated in a lengthy presentation by the Russian MoD which purported to prove that illicit Islamic State oil flows through Turkey. Both Putin and a number of other Russian officials have implicated Erdogan and his family in the trafficking of illegal crude and there’s speculation that Ankara’s brazen move to fire on the Russian warplane stemmed from Erdogan’s desire to “punish” Russia for disrupting what Deputy Minister of Defence Anatoly Antonov sarcastically called “a brilliant family business.”
As for the Russian foreign ministry, Sergei Lavrov canceled a planned trip to Turkey and Maria Zakharova went so far as to reference Turkey’s infamous political blogger Fuat Avni (a pseudonym) on the way to suggesting that Ankara had been planning to shoot down a Russian fighter jet for at least a month.
In an effort to ensure that the downing of a Russian warplane in Syria was a “one and done” event, Moscow deployed the Moskvaoff the coast of Latakia and sent in the S-400 air defense systems (which were rumored to have already been in place).
Those moves rattled the US and its partners who fear that a nervous Putin might “inadvertently” shoot down an American, French, or British warplane. Indeed Putin ratcheted up the rhetoriclast week. While not detailing 'who' he was focused on, the President told a session of the Defense Ministry's collegium that "I order to act extremely tough. Any targets that threaten Russian forces or our infrastructure on the ground should be immediately destroyed."
Well, in case that wasn’t clear enough, Putin took it a step further on Thursday.
During his annual news conference in Moscow, the Russian President literally dared Erdogan to send Turkish F-16s into Syrian airspace.
As Bloomberg reports, “President Vladimir Putin signaled that Russia is ready to shoot down any Turkish military aircraft that strays into Syrian airspace."
“Turkey constantly violated Syrian airspace in the past. Let them fly there now,” he said, pointing out that Russia’s most advanced air-defense system, the S-400, is covering all of Syria.
(in case the S-400s and the Moskva should prove insufficient, Putin always has the "hands on" option)
"This is the 11th press conference Putin will have with Russian and international journalists during the three terms he has served as head of state," Sputnik notes. "These large press meetings, held once a year, usually last several hours. Almost 1,400 journalists have received accreditation for this year’s event."
As for whether The Kremlin thinks the US was in any way involved in the downing of the Russian warplane, Putin said he wasn't aware of any American involvement, but did suggest (literally) that Erdogan may have been trying to kiss Washington's ass or, in Bloomberg's more politically correct terminology, "Turkey may have been trying to curry favor with the largest member of NATO".
Putin: “If someone in Turkey decided to kiss Americans on a certain body part, I don’t know whether it was right or not."
Watch the full video below.
For those who missed it, here's an infographic look at the S-400: