Connect with us

Global Affairs

Russian-US Strategic Stability Talks Open in Geneva Month After Putin-Biden Summit

Voice Of EU

Published

on

World

Get short URL

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – Roughly a month after Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden agreed on strategic dialogue during the landmark summit in Geneva, the US and Russian delegations are set to meet in the Swiss city to discuss strategic stability on 28 July.

The Russian delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov arrived in Geneva on Tuesday. Before the consultations, the foreign ministry stressed that the sides would discuss issues of maintaining and strengthening strategic stability, as well as prospects for arms control. The State Department, in its turn, added that such a dialogue with Russia should lay the foundation for the future arms control regime and measures to reduce risks.

The US will be represented by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. In addition, the American delegation will include Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Bonnie Jenkins.

There is every reason to believe that the upcoming consultations between Moscow and Washington will be serious, Nikolai Sokov, a senior fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation, told Sputnik.

“Both sides feel the need to do something tangible to stabilize the strategic relationship and revive arms control keeping in mind that New START, the last arms control agreement in effect, will expire in less than five years. I must note here that last consultations, in the summer of 2020 still under Trump, were serious, too, and promised progress, but the Trump team got too greedy and wanted too much, so talks failed. I am a bit more optimistic now,” he told Sputnik.

In February, Washington officially extended New START, an agreement that limits each side’s nuclear arsenal to 700 missiles, 800 launchers and 1,550 deployed warheads, until 5 February, 2026. The US decision to revive the treaty, which was sealed by then-presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, was welcomed by Russia.


©
Sputnik / Dmitriy Astakhov

The signing of the New START treaty in Prague, the Czech Republic by President Dmitry Medvedev and President Barack Obama on April 8, 2010.

The position of Moscow has not changed much as the country still calls for a “strategic equation,” while the US stance remains unclear, according to Sokov.

“That said, I believe there is a greater chance that the US will agree to discuss missile defense and long-range conventional weapons. Unfortunately, this will be the result of Russian advances in both fields, not because the US has accepted the logic of the Russian position. That is, arms racing keeps driving arms control, as was the case during the Cold War. I think that it is pretty certain that the US will also seek to capitalize on the success of the previous administration and raise a freeze on nuclear warhead stockpiles, to which Russia agreed in the fall of 2020 (without verification, though). Russia objects to that, so something else to discuss,” he said.

Much will depend on the format of the meeting — whether the sides will have only one or two days of talks or agree on the working process and permanent meeting, Sokov added.

“I also hope – not without reason – that they will ultimately seek to agree on a framework of full-scale negotiations which begin soon, hopefully at the end of this year or perhaps early next year,” the expert concluded.

Meanwhile, Joshua Pollack, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, doubts that much should be expected from the upcoming talks.

“It’s an opportunity to exchange views, not to conclude an agreement. The State Department’s announcement indicates as much,” he told Sputnik.

Miles Pomper, a senior fellow at the Washington DC office of the Middlebury Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, expressed hope that there will be some progress, noting that “if there is it probably won’t be visible.”

“At this point, the delegations can be expected to begin work on defining an agenda for strategic stability discussions and defining what might be included in possible negotiations over a New START agreement. The fact that they are meeting is an achievement in itself,” he told Sputnik.

TYPES OF WEAPONS

As the talks near, speculations emerge what types of weapons they will discuss. Russia has proposed a “security equation,” which would include all types of weapons that can affect strategic stability, including nuclear, non-nuclear, offensive and defensive.


©
Sputnik / POOL

Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre right, and U.S. President Joe Biden, centre left, attend a meeting at the Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is at left, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, is at right.

Marc Finaud, the head of arms proliferation at the Geneva Center for Security Policy, recalled that it is true that, until now, constraints have been agreed only on strategic offensive deployed nuclear weapons on both sides for reasons related to verification.

“There is a large number of non-deployed and/or non-strategic nuclear weapons that need to be included into ceilings or reductions. Moreover, since the US withdrew from the ABM [the Anti-Ballistic Missile] Treaty in 2002, there are almost no constraints on defensive systems which may be seen as an incentive for a first strike. In addition, beyond nuclear weapons, there are strategic conventional systems such as the US Global Prompt Strike long-distance precision-guided system, that may also be perceived as facilitating a first strike,” he said.

On 13 December, 2002, then-US President George W. Bush announced that Washington would unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty that it concluded with the Soviet Union. The treaty barred the parties from deploying anti-ballistic missile systems that could cover the entire territory of their countries, or provide a base for such broad-range defense.

“Finally, the INF Treaty prohibited all intermediate-range missiles whether conventional or nuclear, precisely because of their dual nature and the impossibility to detect the character of an attack. There is thus a logic to include all systems into a final ‘package deal’ where both sides would be reassured that strategic stability is preserved,” he added.

SYMBOLIC VENUE

The venue of the talks — Geneva — is a good sign since it is the place where important agreements were negotiated in the past, Finaud told Sputnik.

“It is difficult to assess at this stage how much and how fast progress can be achieved. There is a need to share on both sides for an in-depth discussion about what is meant by ‘strategic stability’, usually implying the preservation, for each side, of its retaliation capacity in case of first strike by the other,” he continued.

Today, there is an urgent need to reduce the risk of nuclear war be it by escalation from conventional conflict, misperception, accident, or use of digital weapons, according to the expert.

“Indeed, the current arms race between defensive and offensive systems with the introduction of destabilizing weapons (low-yield warhead-tip or nuclear-powered cruise missiles, hypersonic missiles, etc.) and new technologies concur in lowering the threshold of use of nuclear weapons. In addition, the New START treaty expires definitively in 2026 and it needs to be replaced with a more comprehensive treaty and additional measures towards disarmament,” he said.



Source link

Global Affairs

Venezuela’s mining region a hotbed of sex trafficking and violence, UN says | Global development

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Struggling to get by amid Venezuela’s runaway inflation, widespread shortages and rampant unemployment, a young woman left the city of San Félix for the promise of a job deep in the forests of Bolívar state.

The offer made on Facebook promised a good salary in exchange for working in a booming mining town.

Once there, however, she quickly realised she had been deceived. Rather than cooking, cutting hair and washing clothes, she was forced by armed men into selling her body to gold miners.

A landmark UN report on human rights abuses in Venezuela’s lawless mining arc has found evidence of widespread sex trafficking and violence against vulnerable women and children in the region. Many victims are lured to the mines with promises of work, and then pressured or forced into sex work.

“The situation in Bolívar state and other mining areas is deeply troubling,” said Patricia Tappatá Valdez, an author of the fact-finding report, which was presented in Geneva this week. “Local populations, including Indigenous peoples, are caught in the violent battle between state and armed criminal groups for the control of gold.”

As Venezuela’s economy has collapsed – forcing nearly 7 million to flee the country – President Nicolás Maduro has used state forces and paramilitary groups to clamp down on dissent and tighten his grip on power.

The gold-rich mining arc, where Colombian and Venezuelan armed groups war for control of its lucrative mines, has become a hotspot for human rights abuses.

Though the mining towns of Bolívar are sites of brutal massacres and are plagued with disease, UN investigators say that rumours proliferate in towns throughout Bolívar that the mines are the route to riches.

.

Once lured to the region, economically vulnerable women and girls are enslaved by criminal groups who steal their documents or threaten them with violence, rape or public shaming.

While men typically have their hands or fingers cut off for breaking the gangs’ rules, the report found that women are publicly shamed. Sex workers had their hair shaved off or were publicly stripped as a form of humiliation for trying to escape.

One witness told the mission that in September 2021 she saw at least 30 women with scars around their mouths or their ears sliced off. Labelled “the discarded ones”, their faces were cut by the gangs so they would be less attractive to clients.

“Getting into the mines is very easy for women,” another interviewee told the researchers. “The problem is to get out of there in one piece.”

The report found that the region’s bloated military forces are complicit, ignoring sex trafficking, and in some cases were responsible for the human rights violations.

Researchers collected numerous reports of soldiers not allowing women to pass checkpoints unless they performed sexual favours.

The 70 case studies in the report offer a harrowing illustration of how corruption and impunity have left the country’s most vulnerable groups – women, children and Indigenous populations – open to abuse from state forces.

In return for parcelling off land to armed gangs, Maduro’s inner circle siphons off most of the profits from drugs, gold and sex work, said Cristina Burelli, founder of the advocacy group SOS Orinoco.

“These are not autocrats, these are criminals,” she said. “These armed groups and the political and military power structures are completely enmeshed.”

The anarchic forests of the Orinoco are dangerous for NGOs and journalists to access, which meant the mission could not fully document the scale of the egregious human rights violations, Marta Valiñas, chair of the fact-finding mission told the Guardian.

The UN’s fact-finding mission on Venezuela expires on Friday and a vote on whether to extend the mandate will probably take place next week.

“There’s a high risk that the dynamics of violence are not only perpetuated but actually start becoming normalised, while at the same time impunity and the context of lawlessness ensures that the violations continue, or even worsen, leaving the populations in those regions completely unprotected,” said Valiñas.

Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

Russia Vetoes UNSC Draft Resolution Rejecting Referendum Results in Former Ukraine Regions

Voice Of EU

Published

on

https://sputniknews.com/20220930/russia-vetoes-unsc-draft-resolution-rejecting-referendum-results-in-former-ukraine-regions-1101395061.html

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

2022

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

News

en_EN

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

https://cdnn1.img.sputniknews.com/img/07e6/02/15/1093243885_463:0:3000:1903_1920x0_80_0_0_11ec5db1d96917caedac525ec98c3029.jpg

Sputnik International

feedback@sputniknews.com

+74956456601

MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

unsc, ukraine, resolution, vassily nebenzia

unsc, ukraine, resolution, vassily nebenzia

Subscribe

International
India

UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) – Russia vetoed on Friday a UN Security Council draft resolution designed to condemn Moscow for incorporating four former Ukrainian regions.

Ten members voted in favor 10, one against and four others abstained.

“The draft resolution has not been adopted owing to the negative vote of a permanent member of the Council,” French Ambassador to the UN De Riviere said at a UN Security Council meeting.

France holds the presidency of the Council for September.

Ahead of the vote, US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted that in the event of the resolution being vetoed, the matter would be taken to the 193-member General Assembly.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia earlier remarked that the US-Albanian draft resolution demonstrates the West’s refusal to engage and cooperate within the Council. He called the draft a “low-grade provocation with a goal that is clear to all.”

The Friday vote came hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin held a speech before lawmakers in Moscow on the accession of the Lugansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporozhye regions.

“I would like everyone, including the authorities in Kiev and their real masters in the West, to hear me and remember that the people of [the four territories] are becoming our citizens. Forever,” Putin said. “We call on the Kiev regime to immediately cease fire, cease all hostilities – the war it unleashed in 2014 and return to the negotiating table. We are ready for this,” Putin said.

The Russian president also took the opportunity to call on Ukraine to respect the choices made by voters in favor of joining the Russian Federation, adding that Moscow would use all means to protect the newly independent territories.

The Kherson, Zaporozhye and the Donbass republics will officially become part of Russia once lawmakers finalize legislation on their incorporation, and is signed by Putin.



Source link

Continue Reading

Global Affairs

Ukrainians fleeing Putin’s referendums: ‘Of course I didn’t vote, damn them!’ | International

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Constantin, a 28-year-old internet installer, decided he had had enough. On Tuesday, he packed his gray Lada 110 and its roof rack with everything he feasibly could, then put his brother, his wife, his son and his daughter in the car and drove away, leaving behind his home in Ivanivka, a Russian-occupied town in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine. Tuesday was the last of five days during which Moscow had organized annexation referendums in the occupied zone and three other regions partially under the control of Russian troops to decide if those territories would become part of Russia. The Kremlin’s next step will be to impose mandatory enlistment from October 1 on men aged between 18 and 35, forcing them to fight in Russian uniform against Ukrainian forces defending their own country.

Constantin did not open the door of his home on Monday, when two armed men and a woman, a ballot box in her hand, went house to house to coerce residents into participating in the illegal vote. Neither does he intend to wear the uniform of his country’s enemy. The Kherson region has now been occupied for seven months and the ongoing war, which has resulted in insecurity, inflation and harsh living conditions, have now been brought to the doorsteps of residents suffering harassment in the face of the Kremlin’s designs. “I was scared,” Constantin admits, hours after arriving safely in Zaporizhzhia in the southeast of Ukraine.

Zaporizhzhia, capital of the eponymous region, is also playing host to officials of the Kyiv government who fled their municipalities after refusing to collaborate with the Russians. Moscow’s agenda “will not change our lives or those of our troops in any way. Berdyansk will remain Ukrainian. We will fight until victory”, says Viktor Tsukanov, the ousted head of the Berdyansk City Council. The 40-year-old, who served as mayor of the city before it was taken by Russian troops in February, plays down Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric. The Russian president plans to announce on Friday – unilaterally and without official backing from beyond Moscow – that the areas currently occupied by his soldiers in the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson will become part of Russia.

Nevertheless, thousands of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied zone, like Constantin and his family, are not waiting for Putin’s pronouncement. Long lines of vehicles trying to reach unoccupied soil resemble those of Russians fleeing their country to avoid being drafted and sent to fight in Ukraine after Putin ordered a partial mobilization in Russia, the country’s first since World War II. To reach Zaporizhzhia, refugees first have to navigate Vasylivka, where hundreds of vehicles are backed up. As dozens of interviewees attest, it is a kind of border hell of draconian controls where Russian troops go out of their way to make passage difficult for the population they have supposedly come to rescue from the “Nazism” of the Kyiv government. Constantin says he was forced to strip to his underpants so that the soldiers could examine his tattoos, as he has several that are clearly visible. It is the occupiers’ method of detecting patriotic or nationalistic symbolism not to their liking, and as such an excuse to make an arrest. Other men consulted by this newspaper described similar experiences.

Ina, 24, is Constantin’s wife. She deals as best she can with Danil, their four-year-old boy, while carrying little Vladislava, nine months old, in her arms. The family has arrived at a transit center set up in an abandoned factory, where they ill remain until they find a place to settle. There are several of these halfway houses in Zaporizhzhia, where refugees are organized according to their place of origin. At one point during the interview, Constantin gets up to help the rest of the volunteers unload a truck that has arrived carrying aid.

Ina holds her daughter Vladislava in her arms at the transit center where she is sheltering with her husband and son.
Ina holds her daughter Vladislava in her arms at the transit center where she is sheltering with her husband and son.

His wife recalles the hours they spent in Vasylivka with dread. They even tried to elicit sympathy from the Russian soldiers by pretending Danil had a broken leg. The worst of the four controls was the second, Ina says. There, the car was turned inside out and all of the family’s electronic devices were confiscated, even Danil’s tablet. The soldiers scanned social networks, phone contacts and Google and YouTube history, finding something they didn’t like on Ina’s cell phone. “One of the soldiers went crazy and starting shouting aggressively, telling me to get out of the car,” Ina recalls. “Please, I am a mother with two children, one with a broken leg. Let me go on,” she implored. Then came a moment that almost saw them turned back, as had happened to four of the cars that were part of their convoy of 16 vehicles. The Russians became suspicious of Artem, Constantin’s brother, because he wasn’t carrying a phone. In the view of the soldiers, that meant he had something to hide. The nightmare of fleeing through Vasylivka finally ended when they passed the last checkpoint, “which was controlled by Chechens,” says Ina with evident relief.

Viktor Tsukanov and a group of municipal employees and volunteers from Berdyansk, a city in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region, celebrate a birthday at the offices where they help refugees
Viktor Tsukanov and a group of municipal employees and volunteers from Berdyansk, a city in the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia region, celebrate a birthday at the offices where they help refugeesLuis de Vega

Also at the makeshift refugee center is Sergei Tatarnikov, a 36-year-old who walks leaning on an old wooden crutch with his left leg bandaged. He was wounded by shrapnel during an attack on August 24, Ukraine’s Independence Day, which was also the the six-month anniversary of the invasion. He was evacuated from Orikhiv, a town the Russians have not yet managed to capture but which is under a permanent state of siege. “It’s a war zone,” says Tatarnikov, who estimates that only 5% of Orikhiv’s 50,000 inhabitants remain there.

In the same facility where the former inhabitants of Berdyansk are receiving help, Irina, 44, recalls how in Vasylivka the Russian troops humiliated them by mocking the use of “Slava Ukaine!” (Glory to Ukraine) that the locals would greet each other with. Another Irina, a 69-year-old nursery school teacher, watched as her neighbor opened the door during the referendum, which the international community has branded a “farce,” and was forced to drop in a ballot. She was accompanied on the bus journey by her son-in-law, Oleksei, 38, a newspaper advertising employee who lost his job because of the war and is also fleeing the Russian draft. He recounts bitterly how “many” acquaintances and former classmates are now collaborating with the occupiers.

A woman in the parking lot of a shopping center in Zaporizhzhia, converted into a reception area for people arriving from the occupied zone.
A woman in the parking lot of a shopping center in Zaporizhzhia, converted into a reception area for people arriving from the occupied zone. Luis de Vega

Night falls over the old Zaporizhzhia factory while dinner is distributed in the dining room provided by the NGO World Central Kitchen, led by the Spanish chef José Andres. Even at night the trickle of refugees arriving at the ten-storey high facility continues. Valentina, 65, a philologist with a doctorate in the Ukrainian language, managed to leave the city of Kherson by crossing the Dnieper River on a small ferry, one of few routes out after the bridge was bombed. Her group had to stop for two days in Vasylivka, where an old woman welcomed them into her home. “In Kherson most people are still with Ukraine. They are waiting for our army to arrive to liberate us”, says Valentina, a retiree who hopes that in Zaporizhzhia she will be able to recover her pension, which it is impossible to receive under the Russian occupying authorities. When she set out last Sunday, the ballot boxes of the illegal referendum were still being carried from house to house, with a military escort. “Only a few people opened the door to vote,” Valentina says, making it abundantly clear she was not one of them: “Of course I didn’t vote, damn them!”

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!