Latest blog articles
Prominent Russian separatist commander killed in eastern Ukraine
By Maria Tsvetkova and Pavel Polityuk
MOSCOW/KIEV (Reuters) - A prominent Russian separatist commander was assassinated in eastern Ukraine on Sunday evening, his allies said on Monday, accusing Ukrainian government forces of murdering him to try to destabilize an already fragile ceasefire.
Arseny Pavlov, a Russian national who went by the nom de guerre "Motorola", was blown up in the lift of his apartment building in Donetsk together with his bodyguard, according to Eduard Basurin, deputy defense minister in the government of the self-styled Donetsk People's Republic.
Donetsk is the biggest city in the Ukrainian region of Donbass, which pro-Russian militants seized in 2014 and where daily skirmishes and shellings test a shaky 2015 ceasefire deal.
"The bomb was placed above the lift's cabin. The blast was concentrated inside the cabin," Basurin told Reuters.
"We had intelligence from our agent networks that diversionary groups were being sent our way to kill prominent military and political leaders."
Four armed masked men claimed responsibility for the killing in a video uploaded to the Internet. The men, who appeared alongside a flag belonging to a pro-Ukrainian neo-Nazi group, said they would next target Igor Plotnitsky, leader of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic, together with Alexander Zakharchenko, prime minister of the Donetsk People's Republic.
Zakharchenko said the murder amounted to a declaration of war by Ukraine and promised revenge.
Pavlov, 33, was born in Russia, and commanded the separatist "Sparta" battalion which fought Ukrainian government forces in several key battles, including the struggle for Donetsk airport.
Short and sporting a ginger beard, pro-Kremlin media and his fellow separatists cast him as a hero, but in Ukraine, many regarded him as a hate figure and a symbol of Russian expansionism.
In a 2015 telephone interview with the Kyiv Post newspaper, a man who identified himself as Pavlov was recorded as saying he had murdered 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The Donetsk News Agency, an official separatist news outlet, cited Denis Pushilin, a senior pro-Russian separatist leader, as saying Pavlov's killing was a Ukrainian attempt "to rock the situation."
A spokeswoman for Ukraine's SBU security service declined to comment, but some Ukrainian officials suggested the separatist commander had been killed in rebel infighting.
"It looks like he was eliminated by his cousins in crime of this anti-human terrorist gang," Ukrainian Interior Ministry spokesman Artyom Shevchenko said on social media. "This is a sad but just end."
(Writing by Dmitry Solovyov/Andrew Osborn; Editing by Andrew Osborn)
Lloyd scores twice, US women beat Switzerland 4-1
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Carli Lloyd scored twice and the U.S. women's national team defeated Switzerland 5-1 in an exhibition match on Sunday.Christen Press, Crystal Dunn and Kealia Ohai also scored for the United States, playing its second friendly against Switzerland this week. The U.S. defeated the Swiss 4-0 on Wednesday night in Utah.Ohai entered the game late for her international debut and scored 48 seconds later on for her first goal. It was the fastest goal in a debut in team history, one… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
HCM City’s health insurance balance records surplus
Illustrative image (Source: VNA) HCM City (VNA) – Ho Chi Minh City’s health insurance fund recorded a surplus of 680 billion VND (over 30 million USD) in its balance last year. Cao Van Sang, Director of the municipal Social Insurance Agency, said more than 6.4 million local people bought health insurance in 2016, accounting for 78 percent of the city’s population. The figure is one percent higher than the city’s target but lower than the country’s average level. The agency will transfer 20… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
Denmark pulls back its F-16 jets fighting IS militants
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — In a planned move, Denmark is pulling back its F-16 fighter jet squadron from an international coalition fighting the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen says the Scandinavian country would instead send engineering troops to help with reconstruction projects. He didn't specify where.Denmark joined the international coalition in October 2014, and sent, among others, seven F-16 planes, which were briefly brought back to Denmark for… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
Trump revelation of intelligence to Russia: Three key questions
Reports that President Trump revealed secret information to Russia are the latest startling development in the deepening story of a US chief executive who continues to burst through the norms that have long defined acceptable White House behavior.By definition, Mr. Trump’s reported discussion of an Islamic State plot with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak isn’t illegal. Presidents are at the top of the mountain of classified information and can declassify and… chat_bubble_outline Read More...
Germany arrests five men suspected of recruiting for Islamic State
BERLIN (Reuters) - German police on Tuesday arrested five suspected Islamist militants accused of recruiting fighters for Islamic State in Syria, the federal prosecution office said in a statement.The five men - an Iraqi, a Turk, a German, a Serbian-German dual citizen and a national of Cameroon - face charges of setting up a "jihadist network" that tried to recruit Muslims to go to Syria and fight alongside Islamic State militants.The network succeeded in smuggling a young man and his family… chat_bubble_outline Read More...