US Sends Billions to Ukraine; Kiev to Hire US Mercenaries to Suppress Eastern Ukraine
March 29, 2014
Deb Riechmann / Associated Press & The Voice of Russia
While US lawmakers are rushing to get a bill to the president's desk that would provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine, the ruling oligarchs in Kiev reportedly have selected Greystone Limited -- a private US mercenary firm identified as "a structural part" of the controversial Blackwater organization -- to assume responsibility for "suppressing protest movements" in Eastern Ukraine.
Lawmakers Rush to Pass Bill to Aid Ukraine
Deb Riechmann / Associated Press
WASHINGTON ((March 27, 2014) -- Lawmakers are rushing to get a bill to the president's desk that would provide $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and sanction those who had a hand in Russia's takeover of Crimea.
The House and Senate were poised to pass versions of the legislation Thursday. Both sides said they want to get one bill to President Barack Obama's desk before the end of the week, but it was unclear whether the work would be finished by then.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Thursday called the Senate bill a reality check for Russian President Vladimir Putin "that the US will not stand idly by while Russia plays the role of a schoolyard bully."
The Senate bill authorizes $1 billion in loan guarantees to Ukraine and an additional $100 million in direct aid. It would codify sanctions the US already has levied against some of Putin's close friends and associates, members of his inner circle, government officials, some of the richest men in the country and a major bank. The sanctions freeze any assets those being sanctioned currently hold within US jurisdiction and prohibit Americans from doing business with those targeted.
The Senate bill also included a proposal from one of Obama's fiercest critics, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., enabling the president to impose economic penalties on Russian government officials for corruption even within Russia's own borders.
The House bill also authorizes sanctions, loan guarantees and millions in direct aid. It includes money for the Voice of America and other broadcast networks to counter what the House says is propaganda from Russian-based sources, and funds to bolster Ukraine's law enforcement and judicial systems.
It also urges Obama to greatly expand the number of Russian officials and others sanctioned for human rights violations and compels the president to report to Congress on sanctioning a broad range of senior Russian officials.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Wednesday that both sides were discussing ways to get a bill out of Congress as soon as possible. Asked whether he expected problems reconciling the two bills, Boehner said: "You never know. But there's an awful lot of cooperation and discussion underway to try to avoid that."
Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he hoped the Senate would embrace the House bill without requiring negotiations to work out differences. "Our goal is not to go to conference because of the urgency of the situation," Royce, R-Calif., said.
McCain stressed the importance of providing additional defense equipment and military training to countries in central and eastern Europe, including Ukraine.
"Vladimir Putin is on the move," McCain said in a floor speech in which he called Russia a "gas station masquerading as a country."
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., agreed, asking rhetorically on the Senate floor:
"Should the US and our NATO partners, at the request of the Ukrainian people, supply them with defensive weapons to rebuild the military gutted by pro-Russian elements? To me the answer is 'yes' because if you want to make Putin think twice about what he does next, he's got to pay a price greater than he has for the Crimea. If he gets away with this and he doesn't pay any price, he's going to be on steroids."
The Ukraine aid bill gained momentum this week after Democrats backed down and stripped International Monetary Fund reform language from the bill. The move signaled a retreat for the Democrats and the Obama administration, which had promoted the IMF provisions.
But with tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on Ukraine's eastern border, Senate Democrats decided it was more important to denounce Russia, codify sanctions against Putin's inner circle and support Ukraine rather than push now for the IMF changes.
Worried that Moscow was planning more land grabs, eight Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee wrote to Obama on Wednesday urging him to work with NATO allies to share with Ukraine any intelligence on Russian troop movements. They also urged Obama to improve the readiness of US military forces in the region and pursue additional measures to bolster the security of US allies in eastern and central Europe.
In a meeting with NATO's secretary-general Wednesday in Brussels, Obama pledged to defend US allies and said every NATO partner needed to "chip in" for mutual defense. He said members should examine their defense plans to make sure they reflect current threats.
Associated Press writer Donna Cassata contributed to this report.
Ukrainian Leadership to Hire US Mercenaries to Suppress Eastern Regions
Voice of Russia
(March 25, 2014) -- Private military company will be in charge of suppressing protest movements in Eastern Ukraine, said a source in the country's Security Service. According to him, the name of the company is Greystone Limited.
According to a source cited by ITAR-TASS, Ukrainian authorities believe that the Security Service is not able to suppress the protest mood and neutralize the leaders and activists of the pro-Russian movement in the eastern regions. In particular, the source said, the acting president Alexander Turchinov shares this opinion. "Therefore it was decided to attract foreign mercenaries, who will serve as political police and state security protection," said the representative of the Security Service.
He informed that the initiative to attract mercenaries belongs to oligarchs Igor Kolomoisky and Sergei Taruta, appointed governors of Dnepropetrovsk and Donetsk regions.
Not so long ago, during a meeting with Turchinov, a plan to stop the protest movements in the eastern regions was discussed. Kolomoysky noted: "Why reinvent the wheel if there are real people who understand how and how much to pay," said the source.
According to publicly available information Greystone Limited is a structural part of Blackwater, that was later renamed into Academi. According to military experts, the company is associated with the CIA and the US Defense Department.
Its employees participated in the war in Afghanistan after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003, the company has appeared in Iraq and became involved in training the new Iraqi armed forces and police, as well as support of the occupation forces.
Congress on track to pass Ukraine aid bill, Associated Press
Congress locked in Ukraine aid bill dispute, Associated Press
Senate passes Ukraine aid bill. MarketWatch
US Senate, House back bills to aid Ukraine, Associated Press
US House, Senate pass Ukraine aid, Russia sanctions, AFP
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