Ukraine To Ban Russian Airlines

ukraineUkraine Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has vowed to ban Russian airlines from flying into the country, as part of sanctions over Moscow’s support for rebels in the East.

Kiev said that the measures would take effect on October 25 and would include major Russian airlines.

Russian transit flights will also be banned if the planes carry military personnel or dual-use goods.

Moscow has, however, described the move as “an act of madness”, promising a firm response.

Last week, Ukraine imposed sanctions against 400 people and 90 legal entities – most of them from Russia, held responsible for Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

Russia Stages Massive WW2 Parade Despite Western Boycott

RussiaAs the whole of Europe continues to mark 70 years since the end of World War Two, Russia is staging its biggest military parade to celebrate the anniversary.

Thousands of troops are marching on Red Square in Moscow, and new armour being displayed for the first time.

Many world leaders are boycotting the event because of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis but more than 20 Heads of States are in Moscow.

Chinese President, Xi Jinping, is attending the event in a sign of closer ties as a column of Chinese troops also took part in the parade.

Dignitaries from India, former Soviet republics and communist-era allies such as Cuba, also attended.

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, was also among those watching.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, U.S. President, Barack Obama and the French and British leaders, all skipped the parade, but will attend a wreath-laying ceremony in Moscow on Sunday.

As the event began, President Vladimir Putin said international co-operation had been put at risk in recent years.

Russia denies claims by the West that it is arming rebels in eastern Ukraine.

More than 6,000 people have been killed since fighting began in April 2014 in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Ukraine Military Warns Of Danger Ahead Of Ceasefire

militaryThe Ukrainian military on Saturday said that there was a great danger in pro-Russian rebel offensive in east Ukraine ahead of a planned ceasefire, after a heavy fighting was recorded.

An agreement is due to come into effect from Sunday under a peace accord that also envisages a withdrawal of the heavy weapons responsible for casualties, in the conflict that broke out almost a year ago.

A military spokesman, Anatoly Stelmakh, said in a television interview, that “there has been no lull, moreover rebels continue attacks on Debaltseve,” a strategic transport hub northeast of Donetsk city, that has been the focus of some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks.

The Ukrainian military separately said the situation remained tense in parts of the contested Luhansk region.

The Ukraine President, Petro Poroshenko, also accused Russia of “significantly increasing” its offensive despite the peace agreement reached in Minsk on Thursday.

Shelling was heard in the rebel-held city of Donetsk early on Saturday.

Reports say as the time gets closer for the ceasefire, fears are rising that it won’t be observed.

More than a dozen civilians are said to have died in shelling in eastern Ukraine on Friday.

It is unclear who was behind the shelling but both the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian rebels in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions accuse each other of the attack.

Speaking earlier, President Poroshenko said despite what had been agreed in Minsk, “Russia’s offensive operations have intensified”.

“We are still convinced that the Minsk achievements are in a big danger,” he added.

“Ahead of midnight, rebels are trying to complete tactically important plans to enlarge the territory under their control, primarily in the direction of Debaltseve,” spokesman Andriy Lysenko said

Kerry To Hold Talks In Ukraine

kerryAs fighting intensifies in Ukraine, the Unites States Secretary of State, John Kerry, is expected to arrive in the country to hold talks with President Petro Poroshenkom, and his Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatseniuk.

A superior source said that Kerry would offer U.S. support for efforts by Ukraine to negotiate a new ceasefire.

The issue of weapon deliveries to Ukraine and other U.S. assistance is expected to be one of the main items on the agenda.

Kerry also intends to provide an additional $16.4 billion in humanitarian aid to help civilians in eastern Ukraine, U.S. officials said.

Earlier, Ashton Carter, the White House’s choice for Defence Secretary, said that he was “inclined” to start supplying arms.

The U.S. has so far only provided “non-lethal” assistance to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, NATO is set to unveil what the bloc’s chief says are “the biggest reinforcement” of its “collective defense since the end of the cold war”.

However, Russia denies accusations by Ukraine and the west that it is arming the rebels in Eastern Ukraine and sending its regular troops across the border.

Malaysia Airline Crew Resign After Twin Tragedies

twin Malasia Airlines. MH17 on July 17 over rebel-held eastern Ukraine.About 200 cabin crew have cited fears for their safety as they resigned from Malaysia Airlines which was hit by two deadly tragedies this year, the carrier said on Tuesday.

The flag carrier, which prior to this year had a good safety record, has been in the spotlight in the past six months following the disappearance of flight MH370 on March 8 and the shooting down OFC on July 17 over rebel-held Eastern Ukraine.

The airline said 186 crew had left in the first seven months of this year, with many blaming family pressure prompted by the tragedies.

“Following the MH17 incident, there was a spike in crew resignations but the number has now decreased to acceptable and routinely expected levels,” it said in a statement

“Many cited ‘family pressure’ as the reason for their resignation due to the MH17 and MH370 tragedies.”

The Secretary-General of the Employees Union, Abdul Malek Ariff, said some “are now afraid to fly”.

Abdul Malek, quoted by the Edge Financial daily Monday, also said crew shortages were forcing staff to work up to 12 hours a day.

The union represents about 8,000 of Malaysia Airlines’ 19,500-strong workforce.

The carrier said it was providing emotional and psychological support to its staff.

The two aviation tragedies killed 537 people including 27 crew members.

Flight MH370 disappeared mysteriously in March en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. No trace has been found despite an intensive search in the southern Indian Ocean.

The airline was widely criticised for its handling of the crisis.

On July 17, MH17 was shot down over war-torn eastern Ukraine, with another 298 people killed.

The carrier has struggled amid intense competition, losing $1.3 billion over the past three years even before the two disasters.

For this year’s first quarter the airline posted a net loss of 443 million ringgit ($137 million) citing MH370’s impact on bookings.

It was the fifth straight quarterly loss.

 

Nations Stopping Flight To Tel Aviv

PLASMA_MALAYSIA_AIRLINES_FIXEDThe United States and European airlines have suspended flights to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport after a rocket landed one mile away.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered three US carriers that fly to Israel – Delta, United and US Airways – to halt flights for 24 hours.

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also said it “strongly recommends” that airlines should avoid operating to and from Tel Aviv.

The suspension prompted Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to ask the US to renew flights to Israel.

Israel Airport Authority also said the U.S. companies made the decisions on their own, and it urged them to reconsider, saying the airport was safe. “There is no reason that American carriers should stop flying to Israel and thus give a prize to terror,” airport authority said.

Even before the announcement, Swiss, Germanwings and Austrian Airlines said they had decided to suspend flights to Israel for two days while KLM also said they had suspended flights ahead of the EASA’s advisory.

The halt in service of the airlines comes less than a week after Israel began a ground operation in Gaza, and as airlines around the world re-think their flight paths over conflict areas in the wake of the crash of Malaysia airlines flight Mh17 in eastern Ukraine.