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Crimea Marks 5 Years of Russian Annexation as Western Sanctions Bite

Crimea Marks 5 Years of Russian Annexation as Western Sanctions Bite

Residents and officials in Crimea have been staging events this week to mark the fifth anniversary of Russia’s forceful annexation of the region from Ukraine.

The United States and its allies imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Moscow following the invasion. Analysts say the economic impact is denting approval ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Thousands of heavily armed fighters, dubbed “little green men” for their anonymous uniforms, stormed Ukrainian military installations and government buildings in February 2014. The fighters were clearly backed by Russia, but Moscow denied involvement.

On March 16, 2014, the new de facto authorities staged a referendum in which they claimed more than 95 percent of voters chose to return Crimea to Russian control. Putin hailed the annexation.

“After a hard, long, tiring trip, Crimea and Sevastopol are returning to their home port, to their native shore, homeward, to Russia,” Putin said in a ceremony in Moscow’s Red Square five years ago to mark the annexation, just weeks after the country hosted athletes from around the world at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

 

WATCH: Crimea Marks Anniversary of Russian Annexation

Putin returned to Crimea this week and praised the progress made.

New power stations have been built. A new bridge links Crimea to the Russian mainland, its limited height restricts shipping into Ukrainian ports. A rail service is to begin this year.

Crimea residents appear supportive.

“Well, it’s all good. Giant construction sites everywhere, you can see that,” one resident told VOA this month.

​Political cost

In the aftermath of the Crimean invasion, Putin’s approval ratings soared. They are now falling fast.

The U.S., Europe and several allies imposed economic sanctions in Moscow. Russian political analyst Maria Lipman said the economic noose has tightened.

“The Crimea syndrome, or Crimea consensus, is wearing out quite visibly,” Lipman said. “The announcement of the pension reform, and the raise of the retirement age, was a trigger when people began to realize — not that they hadn’t realized before — but they really began to feel that things were not right.”

Ukraine is about to hold presidential elections. The leading candidates have pledged to continue Kyiv’s path toward European Union and NATO membership. 

So, could Putin attempt further military action? Unlikely, said Vladislav Inozemtsev, director of the Moscow-based Center for Post-Industrial Studies.

“Russian politics is much exhausted with Ukraine. I definitely exclude any kind of military intervention, the closure of the Azov Sea, or military provocations in Donbas,” he said.

The U.S. and the European Union said this week that Crimea will always be considered part of Ukraine.

Critics say the West’s failure to confront Russia more robustly in 2014 led to Moscow’s intervention in other conflicts, including in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and in Syria.

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Crimea Marks 5 Years of Russian Annexation as Western Sanctions Bite

Residents and officials in Crimea have been staging events this week to mark the fifth anniversary of Russia’s forceful annexation of the region from Ukraine.

The United States and its allies imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Moscow following the invasion. Analysts say the economic impact is denting approval ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Thousands of heavily armed fighters, dubbed “little green men” for their anonymous uniforms, stormed Ukrainian military installations and government buildings in February 2014. The fighters were clearly backed by Russia, but Moscow denied involvement.

On March 16, 2014, the new de facto authorities staged a referendum in which they claimed more than 95 percent of voters chose to return Crimea to Russian control. Putin hailed the annexation.

“After a hard, long, tiring trip, Crimea and Sevastopol are returning to their home port, to their native shore, homeward, to Russia,” Putin said in a ceremony in Moscow’s Red Square five years ago to mark the annexation, just weeks after the country hosted athletes from around the world at the Sochi Winter Olympics.

 

WATCH: Crimea Marks Anniversary of Russian Annexation

Putin returned to Crimea this week and praised the progress made.

New power stations have been built. A new bridge links Crimea to the Russian mainland, its limited height restricts shipping into Ukrainian ports. A rail service is to begin this year.

Crimea residents appear supportive.

“Well, it’s all good. Giant construction sites everywhere, you can see that,” one resident told VOA this month.

​Political cost

In the aftermath of the Crimean invasion, Putin’s approval ratings soared. They are now falling fast.

The U.S., Europe and several allies imposed economic sanctions in Moscow. Russian political analyst Maria Lipman said the economic noose has tightened.

“The Crimea syndrome, or Crimea consensus, is wearing out quite visibly,” Lipman said. “The announcement of the pension reform, and the raise of the retirement age, was a trigger when people began to realize — not that they hadn’t realized before — but they really began to feel that things were not right.”

Ukraine is about to hold presidential elections. The leading candidates have pledged to continue Kyiv’s path toward European Union and NATO membership. 

So, could Putin attempt further military action? Unlikely, said Vladislav Inozemtsev, director of the Moscow-based Center for Post-Industrial Studies.

“Russian politics is much exhausted with Ukraine. I definitely exclude any kind of military intervention, the closure of the Azov Sea, or military provocations in Donbas,” he said.

The U.S. and the European Union said this week that Crimea will always be considered part of Ukraine.

Critics say the West’s failure to confront Russia more robustly in 2014 led to Moscow’s intervention in other conflicts, including in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine and in Syria.

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Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Marred Alaska 30 Years Ago

It was just after midnight March 24, 1989, when an Exxon Shipping Co. tanker ran aground outside the town of Valdez, Alaska, spewing millions of gallons of thick, toxic crude oil into the pristine Prince William Sound.

The world watched the aftermath unfold: scores of herring, sea otters and birds soaked in oil, and hundreds of miles of shoreline polluted. Commercial fishermen in the area saw their careers hit bottom.

It’s been 30 years since the disaster, at the time the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Only the 2010 Deep Water Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has eclipsed it.

The 986-foot (300-meter) Exxon Valdez tanker was bound for California when it struck Alaska’s Bligh Reef at 12:04 a.m. It spilled 11 million gallons (42 million liters) of crude oil, which storms and currents smeared across 1,300 miles (2,092 million kilometers) of shoreline.

The oil also extensively fouled spawning habitat in Prince William Sound for herring and pink salmon, two of its most important commercial fish species.

Fishermen and others affected by the spill dealt with ruined livelihoods, broken marriages and suicides. Exxon compensation checks, minus what fishermen earned on spill work, arrived too late for many.

Most of the affected species have recovered, but the spill led to wide-scale changes in the oil industry. Today, North Slope oil must be transported in double-hull tankers, which must be escorted by two tugs. Radar monitors the vessel’s position as well as that of icebergs.

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European, Canadian to Review Boeing 737 Max

Boeing’s grounded airliners are likely to be parked longer now that European and Canadian regulators plan to conduct their own reviews of changes the company is making after two of the jets crashed.

The Europeans and Canadians want to do more than simply take the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s word that alterations to a key flight-control system will make the 737 Max safer. Those reviews scramble an ambitious schedule set by Boeing and could undercut the FAA’s reputation around the world.

Boeing hopes by Monday to finish an update to software that can automatically point the nose of the plane sharply downward in some circumstances to avoid an aerodynamic stall, according to two people briefed on FAA presentations to congressional committees.

The FAA expects to certify Boeing’s modifications and plans for pilot training in April or May, one of the people said. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the briefings.

​Timetable in doubt

But there are clear doubts about meeting that timetable. Air Canada plans to remove the Boeing 737 Max from its schedule at least through July 1 and suspend some routes that it flew with the plane before it was grounded around the world last week.

American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines, which are slightly less dependent on the Max than Air Canada, are juggling their fleets to fill in for grounded planes, but those carriers have still canceled some flights.

By international agreement, planes must be certified in the country where they are built. Regulators around the world have almost always accepted that country’s decision.

As a result, European airlines have flown Boeing jets with little independent review by the European Aviation Safety Agency, and U.S. airlines operate Airbus jets without a separate, lengthy certification process by the FAA.

That practice is being frayed, however, in the face of growing questions about the FAA’s certification of the Max. Critics question whether the agency relied too much on Boeing to vouch for critical safety matters and whether it understood the significance of a new automated flight-control system on the Max.

FAA’s word no longer enough 

The FAA let the Boeing Max keep flying after preliminary findings from the Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air Max 8 in Indonesia pointed to flight-control problems linked to the failure of a sensor. Boeing went to work on upgrading the software to, among other things, rely on more than one sensor and limit the system’s power to point the plane’s nose down without direction from the pilots.

The FAA’s assurance that the plane was still safe to fly was good enough for the rest of the world until an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 crashed. Satellite data suggests both planes had similar, erratic flight paths before crashing minutes after takeoff.

Patrick Ky, the executive director of the European regulator, said his agency will look “very deeply, very closely” at the changes Boeing and the FAA suggest to fix the plane.

“I can guarantee to you that on our side we will not allow the aircraft to fly if we have not found acceptable answers to all our questions, whatever the FAA does,” he said.

The message was the same from Canada’s Transport minister, Marc Garneau.

“When that software change is ready, which is a number of weeks, we will in Canada — even if it is certified by the FAA — we will do our own certification,” he said.

Other countries could also conduct their own analysis of how much pilot training should be required on the Max. Ky noted that one Lion Air crew correctly disabled the plane’s malfunctioning flight-control system, but not the crew on the next flight, which crashed. He said pilots under stress might have forgotten details of a bulletin Boeing issued in November that reminded pilots about that procedure.

Standing damaged

The FAA’s handling of issues around the Max jet have damaged its standing among other aviation regulators, said James Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board.

The FAA will have to be more transparent about its investigation, and it should require that pilots train for the Max on flight simulators, Hall said, because “that is how pilots train today, not on iPads.”

John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chairman of an FAA research and engineering advisory committee, said separate approvals by Canada and the Europeans will reassure the public because those countries are seen as having no vested interest in the plane.

“It’s unfortunate because it will probably cause a delay, but it may be the right thing in the long haul,” Hansman said. He expects that the FAA will wait until other regulators finish their reviews before letting the Max fly again.

Meanwhile, the FAA is getting a new chief. The White House said Tuesday that President Donald Trump will nominate former Delta Air Lines executive and pilot Stephen Dickson to head the agency. Daniel Elwell has been acting administrator since January 2018.

Boeing too is shifting personnel. This week, the company named the chief engineer of its commercial airplanes division to lead the company’s role in the investigations into the Oct. 29 crash of the Lion Air jet and the March 10 Ethiopian Airlines crash. The executive, John Hamilton, has experience in airplane design and regulatory standards.

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Finland Is World’s Happiest Country

Finland ranked as the world’s happiest country for the second consecutive year, in a new United Nations report. The other Nordic countries, as well as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and Austria also made the top 10 in the happiness survey of 156 countries. South Sudan sank to the bottom, and other war-torn countries also ranked low. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke has more.

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Finland Is World’s Happiest Country

Finland ranked as the world’s happiest country for the second consecutive year, in a new United Nations report. The other Nordic countries, as well as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, New Zealand and Austria also made the top 10 in the happiness survey of 156 countries. South Sudan sank to the bottom, and other war-torn countries also ranked low. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke has more.

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Командир «Нікополя» став 23-м моряком, якому призначили психіатричну експертизу – адвокат

Командир захопленого ФСБ біля берегів анексованого Росією Криму українського бронекатера «Нікополь» Богдан Небилиця став 23-м моряком, якому російське слідство призначило проведення психолого-психіатричної експертизи. Про це написав адвокат Микола Полозов у Facebook.

«Захист заперечував проти призначення експертизи з тих підстав, що норми міжнародного гуманітарного права, зокрема III Женевська конвенція від 12.08.1949 «Про поводження з військовополоненими», не передбачає проведення таких дій стосовно військовополонених. Разом із тим, слідство, незважаючи на заперечення захисту, має твердий намір провести цю експертизу. У зв’язку з цим захистом заявлено клопотання про присутність адвоката при проведенні експертизи щодо Богдана Небилиці», – написав адвокат.

Полозов додав, що останню постанову про проведення експертизи стосовно військовослужбовця Михайла Власюка російські слідчі представлять 21 березня.

25 листопада 2018 року російські прикордонники ФСБ поблизу Керченської протоки відкрили вогонь по українських кораблях і захопили три судна з 24 моряками. Українська влада визнає цих моряків військовополоненими. Країни Заходу закликають Росію звільнити моряків і забезпечити свободу судноплавства в Керченській протоці.

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Командир «Нікополя» став 23-м моряком, якому призначили психіатричну експертизу – адвокат

Командир захопленого ФСБ біля берегів анексованого Росією Криму українського бронекатера «Нікополь» Богдан Небилиця став 23-м моряком, якому російське слідство призначило проведення психолого-психіатричної експертизи. Про це написав адвокат Микола Полозов у Facebook.

«Захист заперечував проти призначення експертизи з тих підстав, що норми міжнародного гуманітарного права, зокрема III Женевська конвенція від 12.08.1949 «Про поводження з військовополоненими», не передбачає проведення таких дій стосовно військовополонених. Разом із тим, слідство, незважаючи на заперечення захисту, має твердий намір провести цю експертизу. У зв’язку з цим захистом заявлено клопотання про присутність адвоката при проведенні експертизи щодо Богдана Небилиці», – написав адвокат.

Полозов додав, що останню постанову про проведення експертизи стосовно військовослужбовця Михайла Власюка російські слідчі представлять 21 березня.

25 листопада 2018 року російські прикордонники ФСБ поблизу Керченської протоки відкрили вогонь по українських кораблях і захопили три судна з 24 моряками. Українська влада визнає цих моряків військовополоненими. Країни Заходу закликають Росію звільнити моряків і забезпечити свободу судноплавства в Керченській протоці.

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Звання Героя України присвоїли старшому сержанту Конопльову посмертно та підполковнику Вінніку

У січні 2015 року в районі Нікішиного Андрій Конопльов першим виявив наступ ворога, попередив військових і вступив у бій, особисто знищивши два танки противника

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