Friday, May 9, 2014

The June 6 commemoration would mark the first time Putin and Western leaders have come face-to-face since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine



Mikhail Klimentyev/AP - Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attend a Victory Day parade, which commemorates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Friday, May 9, 2014. Russia marked the Victory Day on May 9 holding a military parade at Red Square.

Putin speaks at Russian Victory Day Parade in Moscow's Red Square

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Putin made no explicit reference to the tumultuous events in Ukraine in his four-minute address, focusing simply on service and honoring the memory of veterans who gave their lives to defend their country. But when an armored personnel carrier flying the flag of Crimea rolled past the tribune, the crowd went wild with applause. The peninsula was part of Russia until 1954, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave it to Ukraine.
“We will never allow the betrayal and oblivion of the heroes, all those who selflessly safeguarded peace on our planet,” Putin said, speaking on a tribune in front of the tomb of Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union. “We will take care of Russia and its glorious history, and we will always put service to the Motherland at the very top. That is how it has always been in our country.”
On a warm spring day, 11,000 soldiers and more than 150 military vehicles paraded across Red Square, past St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin. Under a crystal blue sky – the government seeded clouds in advance so that they disappeared – 69 planes and helicopters streaked above a crowd of veterans and their guests. Many of the aging veterans were wearing a chestful of medals, which clinked in the wind.
The holiday came amid escalating violence in Ukraine that threatens to worsen within days, with Victory Day commemorations on Friday providing new flashpoints for confrontation and a planned Sunday independence referendum in Ukraine’s east that has been organized by pro-Russian separatists. If that poll sparks further deaths, Russia might invade, having promised that it would defend Russian interests in Ukraine if they came under attack.
Putin on Wednesday appeared to seek conciliation when he called for the referendum to be postponed, but the loosely-organized band of separatists quickly decided that they would proceed anyway, in part, some said, because momentum was behind them. Last week, clashes erupted in the previously peaceful port city of Odessa, leaving more than 40 people dead, most of those pro-Russian protesters who were trapped in a blaze when a building was set on fire.
Russian television stations – all of which are now pro-Kremlin after the more skeptical TV Rain was pushed off cable packages in January – have devoted non-stop programming to cataloging allegations of abuse in Ukraine, resurrecting World War II-era language to describe portions of Ukrainian nationalists as fascists and Nazis. Putin’s approval ratings have soared to multi-year heights, above 80 percent.
At the parade, a dwindling band of veterans – almost all of whom are 87 or older in a nation where life expectancy for men even now hovers below 65 – wore medals and their faded green and blue uniforms. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu saluted in a Soviet-era Zil limousine that slowly drove him past scores of troops. Then Russia’s white, blue and red flag and the wartime red hammer-and-sickle flag of the Soviet Union were marched into the square, accompanied by a wartime-era march.
Putin spoke, wearing a red tie and the black-and-orange St. George’s Ribbon that is a tsarist-era military order of valor but has been repurposed in recent years as a way to honor veterans and that on Friday was on almost every lapel in Moscow.
“Today we are honoring the memory of those killed in the war, those who are not with us today,” Putin said. “Every family honors its devotion to the Motherland. A continuous link between generations is our national wealth. The strength and dignity of Russia is based on it.”
And then one military company after another marched through Red Square. The men on foot were followed by columns of armored personnel carriers, tanks, Iskander-M missile launchers, and even several Topol intercontinental ballistic missiles, which slowly rolled through the square atop massive carriers. MiG fighter jets streaked through the air.
And after an hour, the parade was over.
Natasha Abbakumova contributed to this report.
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putin d day - Google Search

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  • Putin to join Western leaders at D-Day ceremony despite efforts to ...

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a reception marking Victory Day in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, May 8, 2014.
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    Putin to join Western leaders at D-Day anniversary

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    putinddayinternal1512.jpg
    May 8, 2014: Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a reception marking Victory Day in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia.
    WASHINGTON –  Complicating the West's efforts to isolate Russia, the Kremlin announced Thursday that Vladimir Putin will join President Barack Obama and European leaders in France next month for a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that hastened the end of World War II.
    The June 6 commemoration would mark the first time Putin and Western leaders have come face-to-face since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine. The U.S. and Europe have condemned Russia's provocations, ordering sanctions on Putin's inner circle and cutting Russia's ties to some international organizations.
    Still, leaders from Germany and France publicly welcomed Putin's decision to attend the observance at Normandy, raising questions about the effectiveness of recent efforts to ostracize the Russian president over Ukraine. And while the White House said Obama would not meet one-on-one with Putin, U.S. officials did not appear to be seeking to stop him from attending.
    "We would not expect France to dis-invite Russia from this historic event commemorating World War II because of what's taking place in Ukraine," White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. "The events in Normandy on June 6 are focused on remembering the sacrifices of all our World War II veterans." Millions of Russian lives were lost in the war against Nazi Germany.
    Yet Putin's presence is sure to intrude on, if not overshadow, the commemorations of the Normandy landings by allied forces. Even without a formal meeting between Putin and Western leaders, there will be heightened interest in their interactions, particularly between Obama and Putin, who have a history of tense public encounters.
    "If this goes forward, this is not going to be about Normandy and the second world war," said Heather Conley, a Europe scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "We're just going to be watching the body language."
    International gatherings like the D-Day anniversary are often occasions where world leaders find themselves in the presence of their foes. Obama shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at a regional summit in 2009. He also exchanged a handshake and brief pleasantries with Cuban leader Raul Castro last year while both attended a memorial service in South Africa for Nelson Mandela.
    French officials began inviting world leaders to Normandy months ago, well before Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and positioned 40,000 troops on Ukraine's border with the former Soviet republic. The guest list also includes Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, the leaders of other European countries on both sides of World War II, and the heads of former African colonies whose soldiers took part in the war.
    The U.S. and Europe were largely in agreement about allowing Putin to attend and felt it was appropriate to separate the war commemorations from the current geopolitical conflict, according to a Western diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the diplomat was not authorized to discuss the Ukraine crisis publicly.
    Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said details of the Russian leader's visit were still being worked out.  Most of the international leaders in attendance are expected to attend a lunch and formal ceremony on June 6, with other events scheduled throughout the week.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the news of Putin's visit, saying she "had hoped that despite the different opinions and the great conflict we have right now, a joint remembrance of a difficult time -- of World War II -- is possible."
    Merkel's comments were echoed by French President Francois Hollande. He told a French television station Thursday that while he has differences with Putin, he has not forgotten the millions of Russian lives that were lost in the war.
    The victory over Nazi Germany remains a source of great pride in Russia.
    Putin's decision to attend the D-Day commemoration could undermine what was supposed to be a strong show of U.S. and European unity against Russia that same week. Following Russia's annexation of Crimea, Western allies canceled plans to attend a Group of Eight Summit that Putin was scheduled to host in early June in Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
    Instead, the seven other nations in the international economic forum will gather without Russia in Brussels before heading to Normandy.
    Despite efforts to deepen Russia's isolation, U.S. and European officials acknowledge that it would be almost impossible to fully cut off ties with Russia. European nations have deep economic connections, particularly with Russia's robust energy sector. Russia is also closely involved with several of Obama's top foreign policy priorities, even negotiating alongside Washington in talks aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program.
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    Putin to join Western leaders at D-Day ceremony despite efforts to isolate Russia over Ukraine

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    The Kremlin says Vladimir Putin will join President Barack Obama and European leaders in France next month for a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that hastened the end of World War II, a move that will complicate the West’s efforts to isolate Russia.
    The June 6 commemoration would mark the first time Putin and Western leaders have come face-to-face since the outbreak of the crisis in Ukraine. The U.S. and Europe have condemned Russia’s provocations, ordering sanctions on Putin’s inner circle and cutting Russia’s ties to some international organizations.

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    Still, leaders from Germany and France publicly welcomed the announcement Thursday that Putin will attend the observance at Normandy, raising questions about the effectiveness of recent efforts to ostracize the Russian president over Ukraine. And while the White House said Obama would not meet one-on-one with Putin, U.S. officials did not appear to be seeking to stop him from attending.
    “We would not expect France to dis-invite Russia from this historic event commemorating World War II because of what’s taking place in Ukraine,” White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. “The events in Normandy on June 6 are focused on remembering the sacrifices of all our World War II veterans.” Millions of Russian lives were lost in the war against Nazi Germany.
    Yet Putin’s presence is sure to intrude on, if not overshadow, the commemorations of the Normandy landings by allied forces. Even without a formal meeting between Putin and Western leaders, there will be heightened interest in their interactions, particularly between Obama and Putin, who have a history of tense public encounters.
    “If this goes forward, this is not going to be about Normandy and the second world war,” said Heather Conley, a Europe scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We’re just going to be watching the body language.”
    International gatherings like the D-Day anniversary are often occasions where world leaders find themselves in the presence of their foes. Obama shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at a regional summit in 2009. He also exchanged a handshake and brief pleasantries with Cuban leader Raul Castro last year while both attended a memorial service in South Africa for Nelson Mandela.
    French officials began inviting world leaders to Normandy months ago, well before Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and positioned 40,000 troops on Ukraine’s border with the former Soviet republic. The guest list also includes Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, the leaders of other European countries on both sides of World War II, and the heads of former African colonies whose soldiers took part in the war.
    The U.S. and Europe were largely in agreement about allowing Putin to attend and felt it was appropriate to separate the war commemorations from the current geopolitical conflict, according to a Western diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the diplomat was not authorized to discuss the Ukraine crisis publicly.
    Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said details of the Russian leader’s visit were still being worked out. Most of the international leaders in attendance are expected to attend a lunch and formal ceremony on June 6, with other events scheduled throughout the week.
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed the news of Putin’s visit, saying she “had hoped that despite the different opinions and the great conflict we have right now, a joint remembrance of a difficult time — of World War II — is possible.”
    Merkel’s comments were echoed by French President Francois Hollande. He told a French television station Thursday that while he has differences with Putin, he has not forgotten the millions of Russian lives that were lost in the war.
    The victory over Nazi Germany remains a source of great pride in Russia.
    Putin’s decision to attend the D-Day commemoration could undermine what was supposed to be a strong show of U.S. and European unity against Russia that same week. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Western allies cancelled plans to attend a Group of Eight Summit that Putin was scheduled to host in early June in Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
    Instead, the seven other nations in the international economic forum will gather without Russia in Brussels before heading to Normandy.
    Despite efforts to deepen Russia’s isolation, U.S. and European officials acknowledge that it would be almost impossible to fully cut off ties with Russia. European nations have deep economic connections, particularly with Russia’s robust energy sector. Russia is also closely involved with several of Obama’s top foreign policy priorities, even negotiating alongside Washington in talks aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program.
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    Vladimir Putin offers the West a Faustian bargain

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    Putin’s invasion of Ukraine made it clear that he has stopped pretending. The Kremlin will not limit itself to cracking down on opposition within Russia’s borders.
    The survival of Putin’s system is based on a permanent search for internal and external enemies. Ukraine has become the testing ground for a Kremlin that seeks to eliminate the very idea of revolution — not only in Russia but also in the former Soviet bloc — and to force the West to accept its right to do so.
    The dismemberment of Ukraine also exposes the mechanism of the Russian matrix, in which foreign policy is the main instrument of domestic agenda. Those worrying only about Russian imperialism are wrong: Land-grabbing and “defending” the Russian-speaking population in other countries are the means to turn Russia into a state at war, making Putin a wartime president and strengthening his position at home.
    Putin not only seeks to revisit the results of the end of the Cold War; he also wants a final say in establishing the new world order. Briefly, the Kremlin offers a new trade-off: In return for continued economic benefits for the West, Russia wants Western consent to its interpretation of the rules of the game.
    This does not only undermine the Western vision of Kantian perpetual peace. It also creates new traps — for both sides.
    On Russia’s side, the Kremlin has appropriated liberal rhetoric to legitimize its intervention in Ukraine. It demands that Kiev reform the Ukrainian constitution and allow for regional referendums on the right to secession and federalization. Meanwhile, however, Russian citizens do not have such rights; advocating for them, in fact, can land one in jail.
    So the Kremlin’s external rhetoric is undermining the legitimacy of the Russian regime. There will come a time when Russia’s Tatars will say, “Why can’t we have a right to self-determination?” There will come a time when Russians will ask, “Why can’t we have a right to a referendum and a right to oppose the authorities?” In other words, we are witnessing a situation in which the Kremlin’s bid for survival is turning into a suicidal marathon.
    The liberal democracies are not doing much better. Caught off-guard by Putin’s maneuvering, liberal democracies tell the Kremlin that if it stops further aggression, the West just might accept the new status quo. In fact, the April 17 Geneva agreement among the United States, European Union and Russia revealed the West’s inability to stop Russia’s efforts to destabilize Ukraine. Western demands for “de-escalation,” demarcated with fuzzy “red lines,” only provoked Moscow into moving further. By refusing to offer Ukraine real prospects for joining the Euro-atlantic community through either European Union and/or NATO membership, the West is leaving Ukraine in a gray zone of uncertainty, leaving it vulnerable to falling into the Russian orbit.
    While the Western sanctions that have been imposed so far have started to bite, they paradoxically strengthen Putin’s “besieged fortress” logic of survival. The Russian leader’s call this week for pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk to put their independence referendum on hold was not a surrender; it is an invitation to Kiev to accommodate the Kremlin’s interests, this time through “dialogue.”
    This call for dialogue by a leader who has limited political life in Russia to his own monologue sounds like cognitive dissonance. However, the Kremlin’s goal is more likely pragmatic: to switch to the role of peacemaker and strike a new Faustian bargain with the West, persuading it to agree to Ukrainian limited sovereignty and the right of the external forces to teach Ukrainians what is right and what is wrong.
    I’ll bet that Western leaders, tired of their Ukrainian headache, might agree with the bargain. And the Kremlin will join the Ukrainian “round table” moderators. Instead of an invader, Putin will be seen as the architect of the new postmodern reality.
    Isn’t it hilarious?
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    Nicholas Eberstadt: Putin's Hollowed-Out Homeland

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    May 7, 2014 7:07 p.m. ET
    History is full of instances where a rising power, aggrieved and dissatisfied, acts aggressively to obtain new borders or other international concessions. In Russia today we see a much more unusual case: This increasingly menacing and ambitious geopolitical actor is a state in decline.
    Notwithstanding Russia's nuclear arsenal and its vast territories, the distinguishing feature of the country today is its striking economic underdevelopment and weakness. For all Russia's oil and gas, the country's international sales of goods and services last year only barely edged out Belgium's—and were positively dwarfed by the Netherlands'. Remember, there has never been an "energy superpower"—anywhere, ever. In the modern era, the ultimate source of national wealth and power is not natural resources: It is human resources. And unfortunately for Russia, its human-resource situation is almost unrelievedly dismal—with worse likely in the years to come.
    cat
    Russia's president Vladimir Putin Zuma Press
    Let's start with the "good" demographic news for Moscow: Russia's post-Soviet population decline has halted. Thanks to immigration chiefly from the "near abroad" of former Soviet states, a rebound in births from their 1999 nadir and a drift downward of the death rate, Russia's total population today is officially estimated to be nearly a million higher than five years ago. For the first time in the post-Soviet era, Russia saw more births than deaths last year.
    Yet even this seemingly bright news isn't as promising as it seems. First: Russia's present modest surfeit of births over deaths comes entirely from historically Muslim areas like Chechnya and Dagestan, and from heavily tribal regions like the Tuva Republic. Take the North Caucasus Federal District out of the picture—Chechnya, Dagestan, etc.—and the rest of Russia today remains a net-mortality society.
    Second: Despite its baby surge, which takes Russia's fertility level from below the average to just above the average for the rest of Europe, the 1.7 births per Russian woman in 2012 was still 20% below replacement level. According to the most recent official Russian calculations, on current trajectories the country's population, absent immigration, is still set to shrink by almost 20% from one generation to the next.
    But while Russia's childbearing patterns today look entirely European, its mortality patterns look Third World—and in some ways worse. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, life expectancy in 2012 for a 15-year-old male was three years lower in Russia than in Haiti. By WHO's reckoning, a 15-year-old youth has worse survival chances today in Russia than in 33 of the 48 places the United Nations designates as "least developed countries," including such impoverished locales as Mali, Yemen and even Afghanistan. Though health levels are distinctly better for women than men in Russia, even the life expectancy of 61 years for a 15-year-old Russian female in 2012 was an estimated three years lower than for her counterpart in Cambodia, another of the U.N.'s least-developed countries.
    How is this possible in an urbanized and educated society? In least-developed countries, life is foreshortened by such killers as malnutrition and communicable "diseases of poverty" such as tuberculosis, malaria and cholera. Data from WHO in 2010 show that in Russia the major threats are cardiovascular disease (resulting in heart attacks, strokes and the like) and injuries (homicides, suicides, traffic fatalities, deadly accidents).
    For decades, Russia's death rates from cardiovascular disease have been higher than the highest levels ever recorded in any Western country. For Russian women in 2010, the rate was over five times higher than for Western European women. In 2008—the latest such global figures available from the World Health Organization—working-age Russian men had the worst cardiovascular-disease death levels in the world.
    As for injuries, death rates for working-age Russian men were four times higher than would have been predicted for their income level—with absolute levels of violent death exceeded only in a handful of places, civil-war-riven Iraq and Sri Lanka among them. Violent death is overwhelmingly a male problem more or less everywhere, but in today's Russia the injury death rates are higher for Russian women than they are for Western European men.
    Russia's "high education, low human capital" paradox also shows up in Russia's extreme "knowledge production" deficit. Long-term economic progress depends on improving productivity through new knowledge—but this is something Russia appears mysteriously unable to do.
    Patent awards and applications provide a crude but telling picture. Consider trends in international patent awards by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office, the world economy's most important national patent office. Of the 1.3 million overseas patents awarded since 2000, applicants from Russia have taken home about 3,200—a mere 0.2% of the overseas total. In this tally Russia is behind Austria and Norway, barely ahead of Ireland. The Russian Federation's total annual awards from the Patent Office regularly lag behind the state of Alabama's.
    Or consider applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the international convention associated with the World Intellectual Property Organization. Once again Russia's performance is miserable. In 2012, the latest such data available, Russia comes in No. 21—after Austria—racking up less than 0.6% of the world's total. The population of Russia is more than 15 times that of Austria. Russia's "yield" of patents per university graduate is vastly lower than Austria's—35 times lower. By this particular metric Russia is only fractionally better placed than Gabon.
    And sure enough, Russia performs like a knowledge-poor economy. With about 2% of the world's population, 3% of its GDP and 5% of its college grads, Russia generates only just over 1% of the globe's service exports—which is essentially a trade in human skills. Russia fares the worst in the most knowledge-intensive sectors, such as exports of computer and information services, where its share of the global market is only slightly ahead of the Philippines'.
    Grim as Russia's current human-resource inventory may appear, the outlook is worse. Given the birth slump of the past two decades, Russia's labor force will be smaller in 2030 than it is today. The U.N. Population Division's projections suggest that the country's life expectancy will remain below Third World averages through at least 2030. Moreover, there is reason to expect that Russia's depopulation will resume. Thanks to the post-Soviet baby crash of the 1990s and the early 2000s, the pool of Russian women entering their 20s will shrink sharply for the next decade and more, while the overall population gets grayer.
    These trends promise pressures for fewer births and more deaths—and thus for what demographers inelegantly call "negative natural increase." Projections by international demographic authorities—the U.N. Development Program, the U.S. Census Bureau and the like—all see Russia as a net-mortality society in the years ahead. Strikingly, this vision is shared by Russia's official statistical service, Goskomtat, even in its most optimistic demographic scenario.
    If all this were not bad enough for Moscow, Russia's geopolitical potential is being squeezed further by the rapid world-wide growth of skilled manpower pools. According to the International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, in 1990 Russia accounted for nearly 9% of the world's working-age college graduates; that share is declining and by 2030 will have dropped to 3%. On this front, as on many others, Russia is simply being left behind by the rest of the world.
    Despite Vladimir Putin's posturing, he is leading a country in serious decline. If his dangerous new brinkmanship is a response to that bad news, then we should expect more of it in the future, possibly much more.
    Mr. Eberstadt is a political economist at the American Enterprise Institute. His books include "Russia's Peacetime Demographic Crisis" (National Bureau of Asian Research, 2010).
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    The Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Glastonbury 2013 (HD)

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    Published on Jul 14, 2013
    The Stones ft. Mick Taylor, live at Glastonbury Festival, June 29th 2013.
    © The Rolling Stones
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    The Rolling Stones - Gimme Shelter @ Glastonbury [HQ]

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