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Russia and US-led coalition discuss withdrawal of Assad forces from Deir ez-Zor
Published: Sat, 21 Sep 2019 18:00:23 GMT

A meeting was held between the US-led coalition commanders and Russian military leaders in the town of Al-Salhiyah north of Deir ez-Zor, reports Deir ezzor 24 network citing its sources.

According to the sources, the parties discussed the handover of villages (Hatlah, Al-Salhiyah, Mazloum, Marrat, Khasham, al-Tabiya Jazeera) to the Syrian Democratic Forces and the international coalition.

According to Deir ezzor 24, the Assad regime and the Russians agreed to hand over these areas to the international coalition, but the militias loyal to the Assad regime categorically refused to leave their positions.

Among the militant leaders who refused to leave are Fadi al-Efais, a leader in The Baqir Militia, and Tarek Al-Yasin al-Mayouf, a leader of the Syrian branch of Hezbollah.

The Russian military informed these militias that they will not be able to provide them with any support and that the militants will have to face the SDF and the international coalition on their own.

Deir ezzor 24  also reports that the Iranian militias have recently sent massive military reinforcements to the town of Al-Salhiyah near Deir Ezzor.

Ukrainian Aidar battalion reaches outskirts of Horlivka
Published: Sat, 21 Sep 2019 16:00:38 GMT

In Zolote-4 zone, where the withdrawal of troops is expected to take place, the positions of the Aidar battalion came under small arms fire and the soldiers of the battalion responded by moving their positions forward towards the city of Horlivka which is under pro-Russian militant’s control, reports TSN.

A month ago, the battalion was ordered to take positions near Horlivka, where it was able to settle down. Then, Ukrainians moved positions forward by one and a half kilometers. According to the soldiers, at first, they built a dugout and dragged the logs together. Then it began to turn into a house with a stove, light and even with electric sockets.

"Titanic efforts turned an empty place into a ground fortress. We feel more confident and safer," said Aidar soldier with the nom de guerre “Angry”.

The military stressed that strengthening the dugout in the area was necessary, as the threat of attack by sabotage groups was high. Militants shoot at residential buildings and set fire to dry grass to prevent soldiers from liberating Horlivka.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister: Trump did not pressure Ukrainian President Zelensky to investigate Biden's son
Published: Sat, 21 Sep 2019 15:00:24 GMT

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko in an interview to Hromadske TV channel denied that ,during a telephone conversation, US President Donald Trump pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son. According to him, Ukraine is being drawn into the confrontation between Republicans and Democrats.

"Those people who are involved in the Ukrainian-American relations, understand that we have always tried to appreciate the help from both parties. This help has allowed us to guarantee that our priorities in the relations with the USA won't change with the change of administration," said Prystaiko.

He added that Ukraine appreciates the support of US presidents, Congress, but this does not mean that the Ukrainian government wants to help any party, even if Ukraine theoretically could do that.

"President Trump, his advisor Rudy Giuliani, newspapers, Democrats and Republicans ask questions whether there is any pressure on Ukraine. I want to say that we are an independent country, and we have our secrets," said Prystaiko.

He noted that Zelensky has the right to not to disclose the content of his conversation with US President, and American investigators have every right to "get access" to this information in the United States.

"I know what the conversation was about, and I think there was no pressure. There was a conversation, and every conversation is different, leaders have the right to discuss the existing problems. This conversation was long, but it was friendly, and they spoke about many issues. Sometimes you need to give some serious answers," summed up Prystaiko.

Earlier, three committees of the House of Representatives in the US Congress began a "large-scale investigation" into the possible attempts by President Donald Trump and his lawyer Rudy Giuliani to put pressure on the Ukrainian authorities to promote Trump's re-election in 2020 US presidential election.

The Chairmen of the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, and Surveillance committees have asked the White House and the US Department of State to provide records related to attempts to "manipulate the Ukrainian justice system."

Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani first admitted, and then denied that he asked Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, who is Trump's main rival in the election.

The United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence held the first closed hearing on the case of a telephone conversation between Donald Trump and the President of Ukraine on September 19.


Iraq refuses to buy Russian S-400 missile systems
Published: Fri, 20 Sep 2019 18:00:00 GMT

Iraqi Ambassador to Russia confirmed that Baghdad has no plans to buy the Russian air defense missile systems S-400 Triumph even though Iraq was believed to be a potential buyer for Russian weapons.

"People ask me this every time, but we do not have negotiations with the Russian government on buying their weapons, and nothing is suggesting that," said the Iraqi Ambassador to Russia as quoted by the Russian news outlet Avia.pro.

After a series of strikes by unknown aircraft on the territory of Iraq, local media reported that Baghdad is considering the purchase of Russian S-300 and S-400 air defense systems. The reason for that was the fact that Iraq cannot protect its airspace.  Earlier, Saudi Arabia also refused to purchase Russian S-400.

Ukraine may resume direct purchases of Russian gas
Published: Sat, 21 Sep 2019 14:00:29 GMT

Ukrainian Minister of Energy and Environmental Protection Oleksiy Orzhel said during a press briefing that the Ministry does not exclude the option of buying gas directly from Russia.

"The Russian side raised the issue of direct supplies, and we agreed that further discussion of this issue in the framework of consultations should be based on market conditions. That means that the price should be based according to the market, and the conditions and trends that are in the European market," he said.

Earlier Director of Ukrainian company Naftogaz Yuriy Vitrenko said that nothing prevents Russian gas giant Gazprom from direct gas supplies to Ukraine. According to Vitrenko, last year Naftogaz made an advance payment for the Russian gas, but the Russian gas monopolist didn't supply this gas to Ukraine and violated the terms of the contract.

Yakut shaman who was going 'to exorcise Putin' sent to mental hospital
Published: Sat, 21 Sep 2019 13:00:06 GMT

Shaman Alexander Gabyshev, who was abducted by Russian security forces in Buryatia on September 19, is sent to the Yakut Republican mental hospital, reports Interfax news agency, citing the press service of the Russian regional health authority.

It is noted that doctors will conduct a psychiatric diagnostic, which is "based on a conversation with the patient to clarify the history of life and illness."

"If the patient has any disorders, we are ready to provide qualified medical care. If necessary, social services could also be included," reports Russian regional health authority.

Yakut shaman Alexander Gabyshev had been journeying for several months on foot in the direction of Moscow. According to Gabyshev, he was planning to "exorcise Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2021." Gabyshev considers that the President of Russia is an "emissary of dark forces," whom only he can exorcise. Since the beginning of the journey, he walked about 3 thousand km and attracted many followers.

On Thursday, Gabyshev was detained on the Baikal highway in Buryatia. The Russian Interior Ministry reported that previously Gabyshev was placed on a wanted list.

When asked about the Kremlin's involvement in the detention of shaman, Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that "journalists should ask local authorities for more information".

The human rights organization Amnesty International called Gabyshev a "prisoner of conscience" and stressed that he should be released.

Russian fighter jets thwart Israeli attack on Syria
Published: Sat, 21 Sep 2019 01:47:00 GMT

Russian fighter jets blocked Israeli planes and drones which were trying to carry out another attack on Syria, claims the Russian news outlet Avia.pro.

Thursday night, as Israel was preparing another series of strikes on the Damascus suburbs, two Russian fighter jets took off from the Russian military airbase Khmeimim, located in Latakia province, and headed for the south of Syria. According to Avia.pro, these planes thwarted Israeli strikes on the  Syrian capital and its suburbs.

According to several reports, at least two Russian fighter jets took off from the Khmeimim Airbase at around 20 pm on Thursday and headed southeast. The Israeli drone was downed under unknown circumstances shortly after and there was no subsequent attack on the suburbs of the Syrian capital.

During the meeting between Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Russian leader allegedly threatened to take action against Israel, in case Tel Aviv continues to strike Syria.

Director of Russian Foreign Intelligence Service: Moscow is collecting data on drone attack on Saudi Aramco facilities
Published: Fri, 20 Sep 2019 20:00:06 GMT

The Director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) Sergey Naryshkin said that SVR is collecting data to identify persons responsible for the attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, reports TASS news agency.

"We are collecting this data [about who organized the attack], but conclusions have not yet been made," said SVR's director.

Naryshkin also pointed out to the premature accusations of Iran's involvement in the attacks on the oil company Saudi Aramco's facilities. "It seems to me that it is impossible to make conclusions without having some solid evidence," he said.

Earlier, Saudi Arabian Defense Ministry showed the fragments of drones, which were involved in attacks on Saudi Aramco. According to the Ministry, the attack was organized by the Iranian authorities using Delta Wing UAV drones.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also accused Iran of involvement in the attacks on Saudi Aramco facilities, calling on all countries to "publicly and unconditionally" condemn the attacks. He also said that the US will take the necessary measures to supply the world oil market.

Later, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif noted, that the US airstrikes on Tehran, which were a response to the attack on Saudi Arabia, could have led to the "total war."

Russia denies supporting Taliban
Published: Fri, 20 Sep 2019 19:00:03 GMT

The Russian embassy in Afghanistan says that local media reports that Russia is assisting the Taliban are nothing but speculation and sensationalism.

“After the recent visit by a delegation of the Qatar Taliban office to Moscow, the Russian Embassy in Kabul has drawn attention to the appearance in the Afghan press of more baseless accusations that Russia is supporting the Taliban,” the embassy said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The embassy cites two example articles, one of which was published in the Pashto-language Hewad newspaper on September 15. An article titled “Taliban from Doha secretly arrive in Moscow” claims that Russia is providing considerable assistance to the Taliban, in particular by taking weapons from Afghanistan’s Kunduz province to be repaired in Tajikistan.

Another local newspaper, Ettelaat, claimed that Russia benefits the most from the collapse of the US-Taliban negotiations.

“The embassy is inclined to regard both incidents as orchestrated sensationalism designed to discredit Moscow’s constructive attitude towards the building of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan in accordance with the hopes and needs of the Afghan people,” the embassy said.

Previously it was learned that after Trump called off the US-Taliban negotiations, a Taliban delegation visited Moscow, where they affirmed their willingness to continue dialog with Washington. However, the terrorist organization could strengthen its bargaining position by enlisting the support of regional powers such as Russia, China, Iran and other countries in Central Asia.

During the talks in Moscow, the Taliban delegation’s leader Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai emphasized that his movement is prepared to continue the war.

In mid February, Moscow promised to help lift the UN sanctions on the Taliban.

Ukraine presents new gas transit contract to Russia and EU
Published: Fri, 20 Sep 2019 17:00:57 GMT

At the recent trilateral negotiations, Ukraine presented a draft of the new gas transit contract to the EU and Russia, said Ukrainian Energy Minister Oleksiy Orzhel, as cited by Ukrainski Novyny news agency.

“Ukraine presented draft contracts to the parties. It’s a roadmap of how, by January 1 next year, we will obtain an independent certified operator, a draft interconnector contract, and a draft transit contract,” Orzhel told the press after the meeting.

The minister emphasized that Ukraine intends to actively move towards the signing of a contract in complete accordance with European standards. He also considered it possible that the agreement might not be signed. The transit quantities and duration of the contract will be discussed at the next round of negotiations.

The minister also said that Russia had confirmed its willingness to operate according to European regulations in the context of the new contract.

“The European party confirmed that it will collaborate with and support Ukraine in necessary actions relating to the certification of the gas transport system, and the Russian party confirmed that it is willing to operate according to the European rules,” he said.

On January 1, 2020, the 10-year transit contract between Naftogaz of Ukraine and Russia’s Gazprom will expire. Recently Gazprom has not been actively pursuing a new contract, and has instead been focusing on its Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream gas pipeline projects.

Ukraine hopes to sign a 10-year contract to transport 90 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to the EU every year. Naftogaz is prepared to reduce its legal claims against Gazprom from $12 billion to $2 billion if such a long-term contract is signed.

Recently it was reported that Russia had offered to sign a short-term transit contract with Ukraine.


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