Russia Steps Up to Protect Ukrainian Rebels

Posted: Dec 13, 2014 12:01 AM

China-Hong Kong: Update. The removal of the protest camp site in Admiralty district occurred without violence. Bailiffs read out the court's injunction orders to protesters, declaring that they would remove barriers in Connaught Road Central, Harcourt Road, Tim Wa Avenue, Tim Mei Avenue and Gloucester Road. They gave the protesters 30 minutes to leave and not to impede enforcement of the law. They arrested more than 200 activists who refused to leave.

Comment: The punctilio of following the letter of the law in ending the protests stands in contrast to the unwillingness of the authorities to permit a genuinely democratic process to elect the chief executive of the Hong Kong special autonomous region.

Russia-Ukraine: In a weekly briefing on 11 December, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich denied that pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are responsible for delays in the start of peace talks with the Ukrainian government.

"The militia, as far as we've seen and understand its position, is very keen on holding the meeting of the contact group soon," Lukashevich said. "I draw your attention to the fact that at Kyiv's initiative yesterday's video conference, which was supposed to be a preparatory stage in bringing the contact group together in Minsk, was unexpectedly cancelled," he added.

Lukashevich also said that a cease-fire is holding in east Ukraine. "We positively assess the so-far maintained dynamic of the regime of silence, which despite a number of incidents and provocations from both sides they are managing to maintain."

Russia plans to send its next "humanitarian convoy" to Ukraine, according to Lukashevich. "The cargo will include food, fuel and electrical equipment with a total weight of over 1,200 tons," he said.

Comment: The story from Kyiv is that the separatists are dragging their feet on talks. Both sides appear to be using this interlude to rest and rearm. The Russians are fronting for the separatists in blaming Ukraine for any misteps and are acting as guarantor of the separatists' survival.

Libya: The Libyan government based in Tobruk said yesterday that it will continue a military campaign to claim back and liberate the capital Tripoli. "Our troops are moving towards Tripoli to liberate it," Prime Minister al-Thinni told Al Arabiya News Channel.

He said his forces were advancing on Tripoli from the west and would also seize the main border crossing to Tunisia.

Libya is divided between two governments since a group called Libya Dawn seized Tripoli in August after defeating its rival in a month-long fight. It set up its own government and parliament.

Comment: Arab news services report several areas of fighting that include Tripoli, Benghazi and Sabha. Open sources in English contain few details about the combatants, the local issues, and the status of the struggle. For example, apparently Prime Minister al-Thinni's forces are those of retired Major General Hifter, except he is not known to have forces in the west, but they might include tribal fighters west of Tripoli. The statement by al-Thinni sounds brave, but none of the factions and tribes has a real army. The fact of a real military campaign against Tripoli is not confirmed by open sources.

Feedback on the Libyan situation from extremely knowledgeable and brilliant Readers concludes that Libya is broken and cannot be repaired. It is a land-mass attached to a working oil enterprise with enough wealth spread around to maintain balance among the factions and tribes. Libya has reverted to its historic status as a geographic region of northern Africa, not a nation-state.Thanks to those who provided Feedback.

End of NightWatch


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