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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Putin Gets Mauled at G20 Summit

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a showdown with Vladimir Putin on Saturday, telling the Russian leader to "get out of Ukraine" in a dustup at the Group of 20 summit in Australia.
G20 Summit Leaders Brisbane, Australia
Harper's spokesman, Jason MacDonald, said the prime minister was speaking to a group of G20 leaders at a private leaders' retreat on Saturday morning when Putin approached and extended his hand.

MacDonald said Harper told Putin: "I guess I'll shake your hand but I have only one thing to say to you: You need to get out of Ukraine."

According to MacDonald, Putin did not respond positively. He didn't provide further details.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
But a spokesman for the Russian delegation said Putin's response was: "That's impossible because we are not there."

Putin's stone-faced lying is for his home audience. He knows that everyone else in the world knows he's lying, but he doesn't care. The Russian people still believe him and that's all that is important to him as he carries on his expansion of the Russian Federation for his own glory.
Canadian PM Stephen Harper

But it was clear that Putin's actions over the past few days were top of mind for the leaders.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott lashed out at the Russian leader for apparently flexing his military muscles by sending four Russian navy ships to stalk Australia's northern coast in the days leading up to the G20 summit.

Australian PM Tony Abbott
"Russia would be so much more attractive if it was aspiring to be a superpower for peace and freedom and prosperity, if it was trying to be a superpower for ideas and for values, instead of trying to recreate the lost glories of czarism or the old Soviet Union," he said.

Britain's David Cameron threatened Russia with further sanctions if it doesn't resolve the Ukrainian conflict amid reports that Russian troops and tanks are flooding into the eastern reaches of Ukraine.

Harper has been a vehement Putin critic for months, with Canada and Russia trading a number of retaliatory sanctions.

British PM David Cameron
He recently condemned the "continued penetration of Russian presence in eastern Ukraine and obvious actions to extend and provoke additional violence. That's of great concern to us."

Putin is packing up to leave the summit early today.

The past six weeks - from Wikipedia:

On 5 September, representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic signed the Minsk Protocol, a twelve-point agreement that implemented a ceasefire. On 10 September, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko said most of the Russian forces had withdrawn from Ukrainian territory, and that this heightened the chances for a lasting cease-fire in the southeast. 

On 13 September, it was reported Russia had sent a convoy of aid into eastern Ukraine without inspection by Ukraine, claiming this convoy was part of the ceasefire agreement. NATO said Russian forces were still operating in Ukraine in unknown numbers, and the ceasefire was not working. NATO said Russian forces were re-positioning to bring great pressure on Mariupol (2nd largest city in Donetsk).

In November 2014 the Ukrainian military reported "intensive" movement of troops and equipment from Russia into the separatist controlled parts of eastern Ukraine. Associated Press reported 80 unmarked military vehicles on the move in rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine. Three separate columns were seen, one near the main separatist stronghold of Donetsk and two outside the town of Snizhne. Several of the trucks were seen to be carrying troops. "Separatists have always insisted they are armed with equipment captured from Ukrainian forces, but the sheer scale and quality of their armaments have strained the credibility of that claim." 

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission observed convoys of heavy weapons and tanks without insignia. According to an independent assessment provided to The Daily Beast there were as many as 7,000 Russian troops inside Ukraine in early November 2014 with between 40,000 and 50,000 at the country’s eastern border. Ukraine's currency lost value amid signs that Moscow had dispatched troops and tanks to reinforce separatists. OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) monitors further observed vehicles apparently used to transport soldiers' bodies crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border - in one case a vehicle marked "Cargo 200" - Russia's military code for soldiers killed in action - crossed from Russia into Ukraine on November 11 2014 and later returned.

Several members of the international community and organizations such as Amnesty International have criticized Russia for its actions in post-revolutionary Ukraine, and condemned Russia, accusing it of breaking international law and violating Ukrainian sovereignty. Many countries implemented economic sanctions against Russia or Russian individuals or companies, to which Russia responded in kind. The Kremlin has tried to systematically intimidate and silence human rights workers who have raised questions about Russian soldiers' deaths in the conflict.