Politics

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff attends a meeting of the Brazilian Forum on Climate Change in Brasilia June 5, 2013.      REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/Files.        SEARCH "Files Rousseff" FOR ALL IMAGES
La caída de Dilma Rousseff es un verdadero samba enredo, pero en este caso la fiesta tiene un final incierto y, si se quiere, hasta impredecible

Desde la llegada de Inacio Lula Da Silva al poder en 2003, Brasil pareció vivir una fiesta. Alrededor de 40 millones de personas abandonaron la pobreza, la economía creció a un ritmo sorprendente, se encontraron enormes reservas de petróleo y el país ganó un protagonismo inédito en el mundo: organizó un Mundial de fútbol, le ganó al primer mundo el derecho de organizar los juegos olímpicos de 2016 y se transformó en un actor central en el bloque de los BRICS, una organización de países (que integran además China, India, Rusia y Sudáfrica) que se propuso plantear un nuevo orden económico.

Pero a partir de 2011 el samba enredo empezó a sonar mal. Las denuncias de corrupción que pesaban sobre el gobierno de Lula (el escándalo conocido como mensalao y que implicó el soborno por parte del partido de gobierno para conseguir apoyo de parlamentarios a medidas que consideraba estratégicas), comenzaron a ganar las calles y a complicar la presidencia de la recién llegada Dilma Rousseff, delfín político de Lula.

La nueva presidente no eludió el desafío y aún poniendo en peligro los equilibrios dentro de su propio partido, impulsó una política anticorrupción que le costó el cargo a varios ministros, en especial cuando se descubrieron irregularidades en el manejo del dinero vinculado a la organización de la Copa del Mundo. Esas medidas encontraron el apoyo de la población que había llegado a manifestarse en las calles de forma masiva contra los corruptos. Sin embargo, la armonía duro poco porque en 2013 regresaron las protestas a las calles esta vez en reclamo por los aumentos del transporte público, la corrupción y los gastos excesivos que provocaron el Mundial y los Juegos Olímpicos.

Pese a las promesas de reforma política de Rousseff, la presidenta ya no fue capaz que tomar la iniciativa. Para colmo un año más tarde estalla la maldición del petróleo. El llamado petrolao es un caso de corrupción en el que las principales constructoras del país (Odebrecht, Camargo Correia, Andrade Gutierrez, OAS, por ejemplo) incurren en sobornos a altos funcionarios de Petrobras, empresa petrolera estatal que había aumentado sus inversiones en infraestructura a raíz del descubrimiento de grandes reservas de crudo en aguas profundas.

Como extensión de este caso comenzó el Lava Jato, una operación judicial a gran escala contra la corrupción con características similares al Mani Pulite que se dio en Italia de la década de 1990. Tal como sucedió en el caso italiano una parte importante del sistema político se vio involucrado gracias a las denuncias de los arrepentidos. El juez Sergio Moro es el principal protagonista de esta campaña contra la corrupción, que tuvo su giro más dramático cuando el ex presidente Inacio Lula Da Silva, fue conducido a declarar ante la justicia en calidad de informante. Sin embargo, sobre el ex mandatario pesa la sospecha de haber recibido dinero por parte de algunas de las empresas vinculadas en el escándalo.

Para entonces Rousseff ya estaba jugando a la defensiva y con poco margen de error, en especial porque la amenaza de un impeachment ya pendulaba sobre su cabeza. Entonces la mandataria jugó resuelta en defensa de Lula al que le ofreció un cargo ministerial con el fin de obtener inmunidad ante la justicia. La jugada no cayó bien ante la opinión pública y así consumió el escaso  crédito que le restaba ante la ciudadanía. Los dados ya estaban rodando en el paño.

Salida constitucional o golpe

El deterioro de la imagen de la presidenta era tan importante que cuando el parlamento activó el mecanismo de impeachment, que terminó con la suspensión de las funciones de Rousseff el 12 de mayo de 2016, para la mayoría resultó ser la lógica conclusión de un final anunciado. Pero en medio de tantos escándalos simultáneos, las razones de la salida de la presidenta parecieron confundirse ante la opinión pública.

En primer lugar hay que aclarar que Rousseff no fue destituida por el Lava Jato u otro caso de corrupción, sino que el proceso se le inició por la sospecha de haber maquillado el déficit presupuestal para mostrar un equilibro en las cuentas públicas que no era tal, lo que significaría que la mandataria incurrió en un delito fiscal.

En conclusión, pese a la implicación del gobierno de Lula en casos de corrupción y a las denuncias que afirman que dinero del petrolao financió la campaña de reelección de Rousseff, lo cierto es que la presidenta fue suspendida debido a la denuncia de manipulación de las cuentas públicas y no debido a una acusación de corrupción. Por el momento, la mandataria se encuentra suspendida por 180 días mientras se produce el juicio político en el senado y su caro es ocupado por el vicepresidente (y enemigo político de Rousseff) Michel Temer. Si al cabo de esos seis meses los dos tercios del Senado la encuentra culpable, entonces la presidenta será privada del cargo de forma definitiva. Lo que pone en peligro la continuidad de la presidencia de Rousseff es el amplio margen con el que el Senado aprobó la suspensión y que, se supone, esta tendencia se mantendrá en juicio contra la mandataria por lo que se da por resuelta su destitución.

En este punto es donde las aguas se dividen entre quienes los que defienden la legalidad de la medida y los que ven un golpe de Estado.

Para quienes votaron la suspensión de la presidenta, el proceso de impeachment se ajusta al marco constitucional porque la manipulación de la cuentas públicas implica una violación de la ley de Responsabilidad Fiscal. La denuncia que derivó en la suspensión de Rousseff fue presentada por tres juristas entre los que destaca el anciano Hélio Bicudo, un político de 93 años vinculado a la defensa de los derechos humanos y fundador del Partido de los Trabajadores de Lula y Rousseff. El que la denuncia haya surgido desde un hombre con estas credenciales fue un regalo del cielo para la desprestigiada oposición, salpicada por los casos de corrupción. En una entrevista concedida a la BBC después de presentar su denuncia Bicudo argumentó que la mandataria incurrió en una ilegalidad “en el sentido de violar la legislación respecto a la salud fiscal del país, dando la impresión de que todo estaba bien”. Aunque especialistas señalan que estas practicas financieras fueron utilizadas en los gobiernos de Fernando Henrique Cardoso y Lula, los detractores dela presidenta señalan que en el gobierno de Rousseff su practica fue más que extendida.

Ante estas denuncias la presidenta no duda en señalar que el proceso de impeachment, no es más que un golpe de Estado. Tras la suspensión Rousseff inició su campaña de defensa pública a través de las redes sociales y no dudó en calificar de ilegal el proceso en su contra. “Pretendo comparecer y responder sobre las razones que llevan a este proceso, con las cuales tengo un profundo desacuerdo. Nosotros consideramos que no hay base jurídica para este proceso. Y por eso este impeachment es un golpe”, afirmó en su cuenta de Facebook. La defensa de la mandataria se centra en que no hay pruebas directas que la vinculen con las prácticas denunciadas. Pero hay quienes señalan que aunque el maquillaje de las cuentas haya existido, el proceso de impeachment es un castigo excesivo para la presidenta. Entre estos se encuentra el intelectual estadounidense Noam Chomsky quien en una entrevista con Democracy Now! afirmó que si bien la manipulación de las cuentas “tal vez sea una práctica ruin de alguna manera, pero no justifica un impeachment” y dio un paso más: “En verdad, la única líder política que no robó para enriquecerse está siendo destituida por una banda de ladrones que hicieron precisamente eso. Eso para mi cuenta como un golpe blando”.

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian
American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there for just a training exercise

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.

President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “They continue to reinforce and it continues to be unclear exactly what the intent there is.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the notion that there are as many as 100,000 Russian troops now bordering Ukraine, as Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I hadn’t actually seen the hundred-thousand number,” Harf said. “There are huge numbers of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. … We are concerned about Russia taking further escalatory steps with whatever number of tens of thousands of troops they have there, and have called on them not to do so.”

Washington got those assurances that the Russian troop buildup was only an exercise from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a week ago. But no one in the U.S. government knows if Putin agrees — or if the Russian leader has changed his mind as the West has debated what level of economic and political sanctions might be imposed if Moscow takes an additional chunk of Ukraine beyond Crimea. “They made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border,” Kirby said. “Our expectation is they’re going to live up to that word.”

There is no plan to involve the U.S. military in what is happening in Ukraine, even if Russia takes more territory. Ukraine borders Russia, and Ukraine does not belong to NATO, where an attack on one member is deemed to be an attack on all.

“Should the Russians continue to move aggressively in that region and in the Ukraine, what does that mean—and NATO would have to respond, for example—what would that mean for the United States Army?” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, asked the Army’s top officer Thursday.

“My responsibility is to make sure that the U.S. Army is prepared to respond as part of a joint force, as part of NATO,” General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, responded. “So what I’m focused on is improving our readiness in combat, combat service support and combat aviation capabilities to make sure we’re ready to respond whether it’s from a humanitarian assistance aspect or any other aspect.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian
American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there for just a training exercise

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.

President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “They continue to reinforce and it continues to be unclear exactly what the intent there is.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the notion that there are as many as 100,000 Russian troops now bordering Ukraine, as Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I hadn’t actually seen the hundred-thousand number,” Harf said. “There are huge numbers of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. … We are concerned about Russia taking further escalatory steps with whatever number of tens of thousands of troops they have there, and have called on them not to do so.”

Washington got those assurances that the Russian troop buildup was only an exercise from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a week ago. But no one in the U.S. government knows if Putin agrees — or if the Russian leader has changed his mind as the West has debated what level of economic and political sanctions might be imposed if Moscow takes an additional chunk of Ukraine beyond Crimea. “They made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border,” Kirby said. “Our expectation is they’re going to live up to that word.”

There is no plan to involve the U.S. military in what is happening in Ukraine, even if Russia takes more territory. Ukraine borders Russia, and Ukraine does not belong to NATO, where an attack on one member is deemed to be an attack on all.

“Should the Russians continue to move aggressively in that region and in the Ukraine, what does that mean—and NATO would have to respond, for example—what would that mean for the United States Army?” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, asked the Army’s top officer Thursday.

Three people have died in clashes in the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday, according to medics on the site, in a development that will likely escalate Ukraine’s two-month political crisis.
Inna Goodman
Senior Writer

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian
Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.
President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”
Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman,
American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there 

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian
Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

The man with the most influential haircut in Britain is not David Beckham.

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.
President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”
Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman.

American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there for just a training exercise

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.

President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “They continue to reinforce and it continues to be unclear exactly what the intent there is.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the notion that there are as many as 100,000 Russian troops now bordering Ukraine, as Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I hadn’t actually seen the hundred-thousand number,”

Harf said. “There are huge numbers of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. … We are concerned about Russia taking further escalatory steps with whatever number of tens of thousands of troops they have there, and have called on them not to do so.”

Washington got those assurances that the Russian troop buildup was only an exercise from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a week ago. But no one in the U.S. government knows if Putin agrees — or if the Russian leader has changed his mind as the West has debated what level of economic and political sanctions might be imposed if Moscow takes an additional chunk of Ukraine beyond Crimea. “They made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border,” Kirby said. “Our expectation is they’re going to live up to that word.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

As a result of all this, two important things happened. First, Ukraine became a country in a meaningful way. In the 23 years since it became independent from the USSR, Ukraine could not decide whether it was going to become a law-abiding, European nation of shopkeepers like its Western neighbor (and some-time ruler), Poland – or take its place alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan in a revived Russian Empire of kleptocratic dictatorships.

Lawmakers suggested that the world is abandoning Ukraine. “It appears to me Ukraine was left defenseless over the last two decades,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

Vladimir Putin settled that question once and for all. Without the Russian-speaking population of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, there will never again be a pro-Moscow government in Kiev. At the end of October strongly pro-European parties swept to power in the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. At the same time the European Union and Nato found – for the time being at least – the mettle to agree on sanctions in Russia and economic and logistical support for Ukraine.

The war for the East continues. The economy teeters. The ultra-nationalists may not have done well in recent elections but they are armed and organized into self-governing “patriotic battalions” fighting independently of the government’s command. A recipe for disaster of Yugoslav proportions, perhaps. And yet most Ukrainians remain surprisingly hopeful. “We found out who we are. And who are aren’t,” says Ruslana Khazipova, a young singer with the band Dakh Daughters. “We are free. And we aren’t Russia’s bitch any more.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian
American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there for just a training exercise

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.

President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “They continue to reinforce and it continues to be unclear exactly what the intent there is.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the notion that there are as many as 100,000 Russian troops now bordering Ukraine, as Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I hadn’t actually seen the hundred-thousand number,”

Harf said. “There are huge numbers of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. … We are concerned about Russia taking further escalatory steps with whatever number of tens of thousands of troops they have there, and have called on them not to do so.”

Washington got those assurances that the Russian troop buildup was only an exercise from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a week ago. But no one in the U.S. government knows if Putin agrees — or if the Russian leader has changed his mind as the West has debated what level of economic and political sanctions might be imposed if Moscow takes an additional chunk of Ukraine beyond Crimea. “They made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border,” Kirby said. “Our expectation is they’re going to live up to that word.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

As a result of all this, two important things happened. First, Ukraine became a country in a meaningful way. In the 23 years since it became independent from the USSR, Ukraine could not decide whether it was going to become a law-abiding, European nation of shopkeepers like its Western neighbor (and some-time ruler), Poland – or take its place alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan in a revived Russian Empire of kleptocratic dictatorships.

Lawmakers suggested that the world is abandoning Ukraine. “It appears to me Ukraine was left defenseless over the last two decades,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

Vladimir Putin settled that question once and for all. Without the Russian-speaking population of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, there will never again be a pro-Moscow government in Kiev. At the end of October strongly pro-European parties swept to power in the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. At the same time the European Union and Nato found – for the time being at least – the mettle to agree on sanctions in Russia and economic and logistical support for Ukraine.

The war for the East continues. The economy teeters. The ultra-nationalists may not have done well in recent elections but they are armed and organized into self-governing “patriotic battalions” fighting independently of the government’s command. A recipe for disaster of Yugoslav proportions, perhaps. And yet most Ukrainians remain surprisingly hopeful. “We found out who we are. And who are aren’t,” says Ruslana Khazipova, a young singer with the band Dakh Daughters. “We are free. And we aren’t Russia’s bitch any more.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian
American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there for just a training exercise

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.

President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “They continue to reinforce and it continues to be unclear exactly what the intent there is.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the notion that there are as many as 100,000 Russian troops now bordering Ukraine, as Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I hadn’t actually seen the hundred-thousand number,”

Harf said. “There are huge numbers of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. … We are concerned about Russia taking further escalatory steps with whatever number of tens of thousands of troops they have there, and have called on them not to do so.”

Washington got those assurances that the Russian troop buildup was only an exercise from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a week ago. But no one in the U.S. government knows if Putin agrees — or if the Russian leader has changed his mind as the West has debated what level of economic and political sanctions might be imposed if Moscow takes an additional chunk of Ukraine beyond Crimea. “They made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border,” Kirby said. “Our expectation is they’re going to live up to that word.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

As a result of all this, two important things happened. First, Ukraine became a country in a meaningful way. In the 23 years since it became independent from the USSR, Ukraine could not decide whether it was going to become a law-abiding, European nation of shopkeepers like its Western neighbor (and some-time ruler), Poland – or take its place alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan in a revived Russian Empire of kleptocratic dictatorships.

Lawmakers suggested that the world is abandoning Ukraine. “It appears to me Ukraine was left defenseless over the last two decades,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

Vladimir Putin settled that question once and for all. Without the Russian-speaking population of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, there will never again be a pro-Moscow government in Kiev. At the end of October strongly pro-European parties swept to power in the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. At the same time the European Union and Nato found – for the time being at least – the mettle to agree on sanctions in Russia and economic and logistical support for Ukraine.

The war for the East continues. The economy teeters. The ultra-nationalists may not have done well in recent elections but they are armed and organized into self-governing “patriotic battalions” fighting independently of the government’s command. A recipe for disaster of Yugoslav proportions, perhaps. And yet most Ukrainians remain surprisingly hopeful. “We found out who we are. And who are aren’t,” says Ruslana Khazipova, a young singer with the band Dakh Daughters. “We are free. And we aren’t Russia’s bitch any more.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian
American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there for just a training exercise

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.

President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “They continue to reinforce and it continues to be unclear exactly what the intent there is.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the notion that there are as many as 100,000 Russian troops now bordering Ukraine, as Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I hadn’t actually seen the hundred-thousand number,”

Harf said. “There are huge numbers of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. … We are concerned about Russia taking further escalatory steps with whatever number of tens of thousands of troops they have there, and have called on them not to do so.”

Washington got those assurances that the Russian troop buildup was only an exercise from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a week ago. But no one in the U.S. government knows if Putin agrees — or if the Russian leader has changed his mind as the West has debated what level of economic and political sanctions might be imposed if Moscow takes an additional chunk of Ukraine beyond Crimea. “They made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border,” Kirby said. “Our expectation is they’re going to live up to that word.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

As a result of all this, two important things happened. First, Ukraine became a country in a meaningful way. In the 23 years since it became independent from the USSR, Ukraine could not decide whether it was going to become a law-abiding, European nation of shopkeepers like its Western neighbor (and some-time ruler), Poland – or take its place alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan in a revived Russian Empire of kleptocratic dictatorships.

Lawmakers suggested that the world is abandoning Ukraine. “It appears to me Ukraine was left defenseless over the last two decades,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

Vladimir Putin settled that question once and for all. Without the Russian-speaking population of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, there will never again be a pro-Moscow government in Kiev. At the end of October strongly pro-European parties swept to power in the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. At the same time the European Union and Nato found – for the time being at least – the mettle to agree on sanctions in Russia and economic and logistical support for Ukraine.

The war for the East continues. The economy teeters. The ultra-nationalists may not have done well in recent elections but they are armed and organized into self-governing “patriotic battalions” fighting independently of the government’s command. A recipe for disaster of Yugoslav proportions, perhaps. And yet most Ukrainians remain surprisingly hopeful. “We found out who we are. And who are aren’t,” says Ruslana Khazipova, a young singer with the band Dakh Daughters. “We are free. And we aren’t Russia’s bitch any more.”

American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there for just a training exercise

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.

President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “They continue to reinforce and it continues to be unclear exactly what the intent there is.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the notion that there are as many as 100,000 Russian troops now bordering Ukraine, as Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I hadn’t actually seen the hundred-thousand number,”

Harf said. “There are huge numbers of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. … We are concerned about Russia taking further escalatory steps with whatever number of tens of thousands of troops they have there, and have called on them not to do so.”

Washington got those assurances that the Russian troop buildup was only an exercise from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a week ago. But no one in the U.S. government knows if Putin agrees — or if the Russian leader has changed his mind as the West has debated what level of economic and political sanctions might be imposed if Moscow takes an additional chunk of Ukraine beyond Crimea. “They made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border,” Kirby said. “Our expectation is they’re going to live up to that word.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

As a result of all this, two important things happened. First, Ukraine became a country in a meaningful way. In the 23 years since it became independent from the USSR, Ukraine could not decide whether it was going to become a law-abiding, European nation of shopkeepers like its Western neighbor (and some-time ruler), Poland – or take its place alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan in a revived Russian Empire of kleptocratic dictatorships.

Lawmakers suggested that the world is abandoning Ukraine. “It appears to me Ukraine was left defenseless over the last two decades,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

Vladimir Putin settled that question once and for all. Without the Russian-speaking population of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, there will never again be a pro-Moscow government in Kiev. At the end of October strongly pro-European parties swept to power in the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. At the same time the European Union and Nato found – for the time being at least – the mettle to agree on sanctions in Russia and economic and logistical support for Ukraine.

The war for the East continues. The economy teeters. The ultra-nationalists may not have done well in recent elections but they are armed and organized into self-governing “patriotic battalions” fighting independently of the government’s command. A recipe for disaster of Yugoslav proportions, perhaps. And yet most Ukrainians remain surprisingly hopeful. “We found out who we are. And who are aren’t,” says Ruslana Khazipova, a young singer with the band Dakh Daughters. “We are free. And we aren’t Russia’s bitch any more.”

American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there for just a training exercise

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.

President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “They continue to reinforce and it continues to be unclear exactly what the intent there is.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the notion that there are as many as 100,000 Russian troops now bordering Ukraine, as Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I hadn’t actually seen the hundred-thousand number,”

Harf said. “There are huge numbers of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. … We are concerned about Russia taking further escalatory steps with whatever number of tens of thousands of troops they have there, and have called on them not to do so.”

Washington got those assurances that the Russian troop buildup was only an exercise from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a week ago. But no one in the U.S. government knows if Putin agrees — or if the Russian leader has changed his mind as the West has debated what level of economic and political sanctions might be imposed if Moscow takes an additional chunk of Ukraine beyond Crimea. “They made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border,” Kirby said. “Our expectation is they’re going to live up to that word.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian

As a result of all this, two important things happened. First, Ukraine became a country in a meaningful way. In the 23 years since it became independent from the USSR, Ukraine could not decide whether it was going to become a law-abiding, European nation of shopkeepers like its Western neighbor (and some-time ruler), Poland – or take its place alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan in a revived Russian Empire of kleptocratic dictatorships.

Lawmakers suggested that the world is abandoning Ukraine. “It appears to me Ukraine was left defenseless over the last two decades,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

Vladimir Putin settled that question once and for all. Without the Russian-speaking population of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, there will never again be a pro-Moscow government in Kiev. At the end of October strongly pro-European parties swept to power in the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. At the same time the European Union and Nato found – for the time being at least – the mettle to agree on sanctions in Russia and economic and logistical support for Ukraine.

The war for the East continues. The economy teeters. The ultra-nationalists may not have done well in recent elections but they are armed and organized into self-governing “patriotic battalions” fighting independently of the government’s command. A recipe for disaster of Yugoslav proportions, perhaps. And yet most Ukrainians remain surprisingly hopeful. “We found out who we are. And who are aren’t,” says Ruslana Khazipova, a young singer with the band Dakh Daughters. “We are free. And we aren’t Russia’s bitch any more.”

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