Tag Archives: Crimea

Глобальная трансформация макрорегиона

Romanian-flag

Интервью секретаря-координатора Кавказского геополитического клуба Яны Амелиной (на фото на главной страница сайта) румынскому аналитическому изданию Power&Politics World

– Как было воспринято в кругах исламского сообщества в России решение Кремля вывести основные авиационные силы из Сирии?

– Спокойно и с пониманием. Напомню, что перед началом операции российских Военно-космических сил в Сирии многие известные деятели российского мусульманского сообщества, наконец, выпустили фетвы (богословские заключения), запрещающие единоверцам участие в сирийских событиях на стороне запрещенной в РФ террористической группировки, именующей себя «Исламское государство». «Наконец» – потому что религиозные деятели, в реальности, а не для «пиара» озабоченные борьбой с распространением радикального исламизма, сделали это значительно раньше и без указаний со стороны.

Yana AmelinaОтмечу, что первая в России фетва такого рода была выпущена еще в мае 2013 г. (то есть за год до провозглашения «ИГ» т.н. «халифата») религиозным советом Духовного управления мусульман Республики Северная Осетия-Алания, председатель которого, муфтий Хаджимурат Гацалов, в свое время также давал интервью вашему уважаемому изданию (оно, кстати, вошло в его книгу «Россия и ислам: на острие атаки», вышедшую в марте 2016 г.). В августе 2015 г. ДУМ РСО-А выпустило еще одну фетву, уже непосредственно применительно к «ИГ». Укажем также, что Духовные управления мусульман нескольких республик, для которого проблема отъезда боевиков на Ближний Восток стоит принципиально острее, чем для Северной Осетии (в частности,  Дагестана и Татарстана), как говорится, до последнего тянули с вынесением богословского заключения, а в Казани так до сих пор этого не сделали.

Более-менее реальную картину отношения российского исламского сообщества к ситуации вокруг Сирии дают результаты социологического исследования, проведенного в ноябре 2015 г. BAIKAL Communications Group при участии Кавказского геополитического клуба по заказу министерства печати  и информации Республики Дагестан (оно до сих пор остается единственным опросом такого рода, материалы которого находятся в открытом доступе). Несмотря на то, что исследование проводилось только в Дагестане (республику можно смело назвать моноконфессиональной – мусульманской), оно выявило ряд тенденций, характерных не только для РД.

Так, оказалось, что  оппозиционность дагестанского исламского сообщества российскому государству значительно преувеличена, как и роль материального фактора в формировании привлекательности радикально-исламистских группировок. Большинство мусульман (52%), вопреки голословным заявлениям представителей федерального исламистского лобби об едва ли не единодушном неприятии ее мусульманами, поддерживает российскую операцию в Сирии и, более того, считает, что она улучшит отношение исламского сообщества к государственной власти. По 14% опрошенных не поддерживают политику РФ или безразличны к этой проблематике, 21% затруднился с ответом на этот вопрос. Скорее всего, реальных сложностей он не вызвал – просто не было желания декларировать, хоть и анонимно, свою позицию. Среди молодежи цифра поддержки ниже – 46%, тогда как не поддерживают или безразличны – по 17%. Зато в возрастной группе 45-59 лет поддержка вырастает до 59%, а в группе старше 60 лет – до 64%. 46% всех опрошенных убеждены, что российская операция в Сирии улучшит отношение российских мусульман к государственной власти (11% полагают, что ухудшит, а 18% – не окажет никакого влияния). В молодежной возрастной группе таковых 52%.

При этом 42% опрошенных полагают, что главная причина привлекательности «ИГ» связана с отсутствием возможности проявить себя, заработать, улучшить жизнь. 32% говорят о низкой религиозной грамотности исламской молодежи, 21% – о возможности заработать путем участия в незаконных вооруженных формированиях, 16% – о недостаточной работе с молодежью лидеров традиционного ислама, 10% – об убедительности радикальных пропагандистов, 8% – об идее халифата как государства абсолютной справедливости (среди молодежи таковых 14%). И только 6% связывают влечение к радикализму с нарушением прав мусульман в РФ.

Что касается последнего, то 57% дагестанцев (включая как молодежь, так и старшую группу) убеждено, что исламское сообщество в республике и стране свободно развивается в рамках действующего законодательства. Однако о том, что мусульмане испытывают проблемы и сложности, заявило 22% и почти столько же затруднились с ответом. Те, кто говорит о трудностях, обосновывают свою позицию ограничениями мусульман в отношении ношения хиджаба и т.д.

Опрос свидетельствует, что мусульманское сообщество Дагестана руководствуется в первую очередь нормами и требованиями традиционного ислама (34%). Почти четверть жителей республики считает, что определяющими являются общероссийские требования и нормы, предъявляемые к религиозным структурам, и лишь 13% убеждены, что местные мусульмане ориентируются на ситуацию, складывающуюся в мировом исламском сообществе (впрочем, среди молодежи таких практически половина). Все это выбивает почву из-под пропагандистских спекуляций на подобные темы, намечая четкие направления первоочередного приложения усилий для правоохранительных органов, общественных организаций и религиозных структур, призванных заниматься профилактикой экстремистских проявлений.

Distribution_of_ethnic_groups_in_Crimea_2001Учитывая, что представители силовых органов уже второй год говорят примерно о 2000 выходцев из России, присоединившихся к «ИГ» (эта цифра не растет), можно уверенно констатировать, что популярность радикально-исламистских идей в среде российских мусульман далеко не столь велика, как хотелось бы раздувающим «мировой исламистский пожар». Об этом же свидетельствует фактическая смерть запрещенной в РФ террористической организации «Имарат Кавказ», активно действовавшей в двухтысячных годах на Северном Кавказе. Правоохранители четко работают по «возвращенцам» с Ближнего Востока, арестовывая их прямо при пересечении российской государственной границы. Боевикам и пособникам «ИГ» грозят большие сроки, и суды на них не скупятся.

Попытки переноса ближневосточной нестабильности на российскую территорию в целом не удались, хотя, к сожалению, отдельные инциденты все еще происходят и, вероятно, будут происходить и впредь: полностью ликвидировать террористическую угрозу не удалось ни одному государству мира. Максимальная зачистка «исламского поля» от распространителей экстремистских идей – в интересах не только российского государства, но и, в первую очередь, самого мусульманского сообщества, что оно прекрасно понимает.

Операция российских ВСК в Сирии, между тем, продолжается – хотя и в меньших военных масштабах, но с выходом на иные смысловые уровни. Прекрасным примером этому стал концерт оркестра Мариинского театра под управлением маэстро Валерия Гергиева 5 мая в освобожденной Пальмире. В отличие от некрофилов из «ИГ» и их кукловодов с Запада Россия несет на Ближний Восток великую культуру, мир, самую жизнь – так надо понимать этот простой посыл.

– Недавние крупные теракты в Анкаре произошли как раз тогда, когда в повестке президента Турции Эрдогана были переговоры по реализации трансазиатского трубопровода. Можно ли это считать простым совпадением?

– Полагаю, что да. Суть происходящего принципиально шире, чем какие-то там трубопроводы, которые еще нужно построить, наполнить и заставить функционировать. Весь макрорегион Ближнего Востока – Большого Кавказа переживает глобальную трансформацию, сопровождаемую сотнями тысяч человеческих жертв, и эти процессы еще далеко не закончены. Трубопроводы на этом фоне – мелочь, о которой вообще не стоит говорить.

– Сказывается ли ухудшение взаимоотношений РФ и Турции не только на экономическом взаимообмене, но и на настроениях этнических общин тюркского происхождения в России?

– Скорее, этот фактор пытаются использовать для того, чтобы оказать определенное давление на российское руководство. Именно так следует расценивать ряд заявлений об обеспокоенности в связи со сложившейся ситуацией, прозвучавших из казанского Кремля. Однако попытки спекулировать на некоем «тюркском братстве», которого в реальности не существует, в нынешних обстоятельствах очевидно неуместны. Не случайно мы больше не слышим подобных эскапад в публичном пространстве. Местечковые экономические и иные интересы, разумеется, не могут служить аргументом в ситуации, когда на другой чаше весов лежит гибель русских военнослужащих и честь нашей державы. Нынешнее состояние российско-турецких отношений крайне прискорбно, однако решение проблемы – в руках турецкой стороны, которой следует начать с публичных извинений и компенсаций семьям погибших бойцов. Пока этого не произойдет, рассуждать о каком-то «братстве», «узах» и прочем и непродуктивно, и просто безнравственно.

– Влияет ли на настроения тюркского населения в России «размораживание» армяно-азербайджанского конфликта?

– Если и влияет, то весьма ограничено. Россияне тюркского происхождения живут, скорее, внутренней повесткой дня. Историко-культурная общность различных тюрских народов – больше пропагандистское преувеличение, чем реальность общественно-политических процессов. Азербайджан ни в коей мере не является образцом для подражания российских тюрок, а некоторые из этих народов, в частности, татары, относятся к этому примеру постсоветского государственного строительства даже с некоторой долей пренебрежения. Попытка возобновления силовой стадии карабахского конфликта не вызвала потока добровольцев, намеренных воевать на азербайджанской стороне, из числа российских тюрок. Это вряд ли произойдет, даже если в Карабахе (упаси Господи) начнется полномасштабная война. Вообще, армяно-азербайджанское противостояние слишком незначительно по масштабам для большинства россиян, привыкших мыслить иными категориями, вне зависимости от этнического происхождения. (…)

Интервью подготовила Габриэла Ионице

Full version – Russian Language on Кавказский геополитический клуб

Advertisements

Russia wants to preserve the status quo of Moldova Republic and Transdniestria

Romanian-flagPPW:More and more Western experts seem to agree that Ukraine was abandoned, the EU nowadays having its own problems that does not know how to manage right. How to see things from Kiev?

Andriy Voloshyn: – I think Ukraine was abandoned from the beginning, when Russia annexed Crimean and started war on the East of Ukraine. There is Budapest Memorandum which was signed by Russia, USA and UK who guaranteed security of Ukraine. Russia violated it and other countries did not much to guarantee security of Ukraine, our country received only minor humanitarian help. We understand that while Obama is president nothing will change, but anyway I’m constantly raising this issue, and many American politicians, not only Republicans but also Democrats say that Ukraine should receive bigger help.

Andriy Voloshyn

If Western powers are afraid that providing military help will escalate the conflict with Russia, then Ukraine can get big economical help. We need to have Marshall plan for Ukraine. As I see the funds can go for creating new jobs, new businesses, new housing for army veterans and IDPs (the number of which is more than 1.5 million). Then by raising economy we will strengthen our army and other areas. Ukraine managed to restore its army very fast with the help of volunteers and people’s support. Unfortunately the resources of volunteers and patriotic people are also limited. So while we had so-called ceasefire – it is good time to focus on reforms and economy.

Ukrainian topics are much less frequently are raised in EU media for 2 main reasons. First reason is that we have now low-intensity conflict, was is going on but the territory and scale of it is limited so media attention is much smaller. Second reason is another focus of problems EU is facing now: migrant crisis, terrorism, different problems of state-members.

PPW: – I said that the negotiations for the Minsk agreements were rather PR for political leaders than a real help given to Ukraine? What do you think ?

A.V.: – I think we can say so. For example Lukashenko, President of Belarus seriously improved his image in the West because of providing the platform for Minsk agreements. Also for French and Germany leaders it is a way to show their countries as strong conflict-solving powers, strong diplomatic leaders. For Russia Minsk agreements is a tool to integrate so-called LNR and DNR (terrorist states) into Ukrainian political system which will be like a huge disease for Ukraine. Can you imagine terrorists becoming regional leaders, taking money from Ukraine’s budget and blocking any Ukrainian incentives which Russia dislikes (for example joining NATO).

We understand stat many EU countries want sanctions on Russia to be lifted and they see Minsk agreements as the only way to do it. But Ukrainians don’t see how it’s possible to make election in the areas controlled by terrorists, it’s not right to give amnesty to those who killed and tortured Ukrainian civilians. So Minsk agreements can be considered as temporary ceasefire (which is violated all the time by terrorists) but it has not political future…

At the same time Ukraine feels support of some EU countries, such as Baltic countries, especially Lithuania, Poland, Romania, recently cooperation with Turkey increased.

PPW: – What is the most serious problem facing Ukraine at the moment?

A.V.: – Apart from Russia (aggressive neighbor which is permanent threat for security), we still have many old corrupted officials and their affiliates which use different corruption schemes, block new people from coming to power, block reforms. Big problems are in judiciary and law enforcement areas. Corrupted officials, thieves, traitors were not punished, and often we see trials against patriots on some fabricated or stupid accusations.

PPW: – What strategy could conceive Kiev to recover its influence on Crimea? There is sufficient domestic policy levers (i.e. conditionings, restrains of energy and transport infrastructure linking Ukraine and Crimea) or external (the cooperation with the Euro-Atlantic community,  particularly Turkey) that can to help fulfill this objective?

 A.V.: – I would call this strategy “Soft Ukrainization”. Ukrainian geopolitical thinker of XX century Yurii Lypa wrote that Crimea – is a key to Black Sea, the key which is necessary to have to dominate the Black Sea. So the geopolitical long-term goal of Ukraine is to return Crimea. Right now it’s hard to imagine that Crimea will be returned without military action, but in long-term when Russia’s economy and military power will fall – then it would be possible. By occupation of Crimea, Russia violated international law and challenged all civilised world by this action. On the international level I’m sure no states except Russian satellites will recognize occupation of Crimea.

I’m supporter of idea of Baltic-Black Sea Union so the question of Crimea should be kept all the time on regional agenda. Russia threatens not only Ukraine, but also other neighbours, especially Baltic states, relationships with Turkey are spoiled, so that would be good for Ukraine to increase cooperations with countries from Baltic-Black Sea space. Strategy of “Soft Ukrainization” should include informational, political, economical and cultural aspects of activities for the increase of pro-Ukrainian sentiments in Crimea. Right now many Crimean citizens are not happy with the situation. Many people thought that moving from Ukraine will bring some benefits, but tourism flows fell, prices increased and for most of people who are not in military or state services, life didn’t changed to better. cw_LIQVjY1Y
The big goal is also to make really successful and prosperous Ukraine, so people from Crimea will see how many opportunities they lost. But being realist, even if majority of people from Crimea would be for joining Ukraine, Russia as it is now won’t allow it. So weakening and destruction of Russia (separation into several states) should happen before Crimea can be returned to Ukraine. The fall of Russia might look impossible right now, but were there many people who predicted fall of Soviet Union?

PPW: – The Ukrainian parliament just approved yesterday the resignation of the Prosecutor-General Viktor Shokin, an close ally of President Poroshenko but seen by the Ukraine’s Western backers as an obstacle to tackling corruption. How do you comment the resignation of Mr. Shokin ?

A.V.: – It was not a surprise. Many members of parliament fought for this, also American ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt openly criticized him. More interesting is who will be next Prosecutor, there are candidacies supported by public opinion, and there are old bureaucrats, like Sevruk  (deputy of Shokin, who is acting as Prosecutor-General now) who anti-corruption activists accuse as the one who blocked the competition for employment in Prosecutor’s offices, so almost no new people came to work there.

PPW: – Local elections in secessionist territories of Ukraine  – according to German media – could be ideal pretext, if will be confirmed fulfill of the OSCE standards, for total or even partial lifting of sanctions imposed on Russia. What do you think ? In first, do you think that Kiev will allow local election in Donbas (June 2016) – it means fruitful negotiations with the separatists from DPR ?

A.V.: – I think everyone in Ukraine understand that it’s not possible to held such elections. I always make comparison with ISIS, can you imagine elections by OSCE standards there? The same is with DNR, LNR, terrorist organisations which are ruled by Russia (also in German press in Bild there was good material about Russian influence and rule over these “republics”). May be only Opposition block, which consist mostly of people affiliated to previous president Yanukovych) is interested in elections as they can increase their voter-base and there were rumors that their leader Yurii Boyko and oligarch Rinat Akhmetov can become leaders of these now ruled by terrorists groups. I think Russia can change leadership of the terrorists, it placed and removed people from there many times. But even if this happens – it’s not possible to make elections, most of people who live there now are scared and brainwashed. And what about people who had to run from there because they were in danger for their pro-Ukrainian position? After territory is clean from terrorists, there should be some period before the elections. It’s very strange when people say otherwise, it’s even possible to check other history of similar wars and anyway elections which are held under a gun – can’t be fair elections. While terrorists (separatists) are there – it’s impossible to make elections.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (C) former PM Arseny Yatseniuk (R) and newly PM and ex-Parliament Speaker (L) Volodymyr Groysman during a parliament session in Kiev, November 27, 2014. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS)

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko (C) former PM Arseny Yatseniuk (R) and newly PM and ex-Parliament Speaker (L) Volodymyr Groysman during a parliament session in Kiev, November 27, 2014. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

Ukraine had local elections recently under a new in all Ukrainian territories, including parts of Donbas which is not occupied. The bill on special status was voted on 16 September 2014, and was a part of Minsk agreements. The vote itself was un-constitutional, because the screen was black and it was not a personal vote like always, there is no information about who voted for it and who didn’t. This law was not and won’t be in action, it consisted many negative things such as amnesty for terrorists, also the date of elections there was set on 7 December 2014. The idea of special status for the areas which are now controlled by terrorists is very unpopular in Ukraine. So if any new similar bill would be prepared it can cause huge disagreement in Ukraine.

Regarding OSCE – many Russians work there and many pro-Russian people. Many times Ukrainian soldiers reported cases when OSCE visited them – after that they were under fire. For many people it might look strange facts that representatives of reputable organization is cooperating with terrorists, but lots of cases are reported, recently was popular case when OSCE celebrated wedding of one of terrorists. So the image of this organization is not the strongest among Ukrainians.

PPW: – What do you think about Russia intentions regarding Transnistria and Moldova Republic ?

A.V.: – I think Russia will do its best to keep Transnistria is the state which it is now. When Russia attacked Ukraine there were different options. I tend to think they considered to capture all Eastern Ukraine and Southern Ukraine, including Odessa oblast. In case they would succeed they could go further and annex Transnistria or make a fake referendum there like in Crimea. This scenario failed because Russia faced strong response from Ukrainian army, volunteer battalions and ordinary people. In case of this scenario  Transnistria could be used as one of the sides from where Russian military would attack. Right now it doesn’t look so important for Russia in military terms, but in case Transnistria will start to decide its vector for future – Russia may also intervene. Pro-Russian forces are strong in Moldova and they along with pro-Russian forces can be used as tool for destabilization for the western integration of Moldova.

PPW: – Could be Crimea the pivot of some state constructed by Russia around/in Ukraine and Moldova region through consolidating potentially of the separatist regions (like Transnistria, Novorossiya)?

A.V.: – In his propagandist film about annexation of Crimea Putin said he made a fortress from Crimea. May be Russians considered scenario of annexation of part of Southern and Eastern Ukraine, then they could have land connection to Crimea. But this scenario failed firstly thanks to Ukrainian volunteer battalions and army and secondly because they ideas of “Russian world” and “Novorossiya” was not popular in these regions.  Novorossiya is a failed project, and even many Russian expert  acknowledge it, some of Ukrainian regions have pro-Russian people, but their influence is not significant, and is decreasing all the time. Also  from the Russian point of view Crimea is Russia now, so they would not allow it now to become independent or become some part of other state.  From the political point of view Crimea is on the periphery of Russia, economically it’s a burden for Russian budget, but from the military point of view (mostly navy) it can be used against Ukraine or against other state.
Novorossiya is not a region, it was a plan, failed plan, now we have annexed Crimea and parts of Donbass (DNR, LNR) which are not more than territories controlled by terrorists.

PPW: – And last but not least, what about PM Yatsenyuk resignation ?

A.V.: – It was expected after prosecutor Shokin resigns. Parliament met for session and voted Thursday to seat a close ally of the president, Volodymyr Groisman (ex-head of Parliament) as new PM. So now the presidential vertical of power would be strengthened as Groisman is conidered as his man, his career was promoted by Poroshenko. Its investment was received with reticence. We’ll see if he can do the necessary reforms.

Andriy Voloshyn is Ukrainian political scientist, writer and geopolitical expert.  He is the author of ”Maidan and War in Ukraine. Geopolitical Thoughts” book.  Also Andriy Voloshyn is co-founder of NGO “International Initiative to Support Ukraine”, adviser to Member of Ukrainian parliament, founder of geopolitical Center GRUNT.

interview made by Gabriela Ionita

Sunday Surprises – European&Ukraine elections, prayers and similar work – visits

Pope, Palestine, Prayers – the pacifist P….

Panoramic watching the events was a Sunday hectic and full of surprises. Pope Francis stopped his motorcade between scheduled events in Bethlehem on Sunday to pray before the massive concrete separation barrier that divides the Palestinian city from Israel, which erected the controversial wall a decade ago.

The surprise stop was the latest signal that the Pope backed what the Vatican had indicated in 2012 with its support for a United Nations vote to make Palbildeestine a non-member state: That it regards it as a sovereign state. In a speech earlier on Sunday the Pope called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a “man of peace” after paying him a courtesy visit, and referred to the Vatican’s good relations with the “state of Palestine”.

According Time Magazine, Francis was scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem later on Sunday, and — in part because of official concerns about religious extremists, security preparations were extraordinary even by Israeli standards, outstripping even precautions taken for President Obama’s visit last year, according to organizers.

Pope’s Agenda for Monday includes deep bows to the Israeli narrative, including a visit to Yad Vashem, the museum of the Holocaust, and to the Wailing Wall, the last remaining piece of the Temple in place at the time of Christ. In a gesture that unsettles Palestinians, Francis will also be the first pontiff to lay a wreath on the grave of Theodore Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement that envisioned a future state on the land hundreds of thousands of Arabs called home.

European Election, the sad E: Extremism & Euroscepticism, ‘Earthquake’ win

Marine Le Pen‘s far right National Front scored a stunning first victory in European Parliament elections in France on Sunday as critics of the European Union registered a continent-wide protest vote against austerity and mass unemployment. Cf. Reuters, without waiting for the final result, a somber French Prime Minister Manuel Valls went on television to call the breakthrough by the anti-immigration, anti-euro party in one of the EU’s founding nations “an earthquake” for France and Europe.People watch a board displaying provisional results of the European Parliament election at the EU Parliament in Brussels

Denmark‘s anti-immigration far right People’s Party was set to top the poll with an estimated 23 percent and the extreme-right Jobbik, widely accused of racism and anti-Semitism, was running second in Hungary with 15 percent.

The UK Independence Party (UKIP), which campaigns for Britain to leave the EU, was set for a strong score after making big gains in local elections held at the same time on Thursday, raising pressure on Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of a general election next year.

The anti-euro Alternative for Germany (AfD) won parliamentary representation for the first time with an estimated 6.5 percent, the best result so far for a conservative party created only last year. In Greece, epicenter of the euro zone’s debt crisis, the radical left anti-austerity Syriza movement of Alexis Tsipras was set to win with 26.7 percent, pushing governing New Democracy into second place on 22.8 percent. That reflected popular anger at harsh spending cuts the government has adopted in recent years to meet the terms of its EU/IMF bailout program. It means that far right and hard left parties, their scores magnified by a low turnout of 43.1 percent, gained ground in many countries although in Germany, the EU’s biggest member state with the largest number of seats, the pro-European center ground held firm, according to exit polls.

Ukraine: again P, winner P… Petro Poroshenko wins  presidency

Because we speak about election… Exit polls suggested candy tycoon Petro Poroshenko won Ukraine’s presidential election in the first round Sunday, a ballot that took place amid weeks of fighting in eastern regions where pro-Russia separatists have seized government buildings and battled government troops.

Exit polls gave Poroshenko more than 55 percent of the vote, well ahead of petro_poroshenkoformer Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko in second place with just over 12 percent. “I would like to congratulate Ukraine with the fact that despite the current aggression by the Kremlin and the desire to break this voting, the election happened and was democratic and fair” Tymoshenko said after the polls closed. If Poroshenko majority is confirmed by results on Monday, there will be no need for a runoff vote on June 15.

Cf. Reuters, Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Saturday that he will respect the voters’ will. He has announced the pullback of tens of thousands of Russian troops massed on the border. But the absence of more than 15 percent of the potential electorate from the election could give Moscow an excuse to raise doubts about the victor’s legitimacy and continue applying pressure on the new president in Kiev.

The White House – two similar surprise work – visits

Leaders of the two White House from Washington and Moscow (government headquarters) have spent Sunday making surprise visits. One – President Barack Obama in Afghanistan. Second – Prim-minister Dmitry Medvedev in Crimea.

President-Obama-in-Afghanistan_5_1President Barack Obama made a surprise trip to Afghanistan on Sunday, his first visit to Afghanistan in two years and his fourth trip as president overall, and pledged a “responsible end” to the war there by the end of 2014. During the visit, Obama spoke to troops, visited a base hospital and met with military officials to discuss troop presence in Afghanistan as the country’s longest war comes to a close. Also Obama said on Sunday that his administration would likely announce soon how many troops the United States will keep in the country, as it winds down its presence after nearly 13 years of war.

Speaking at a briefing by military commanders at Bagram Air Base, Obama said one reason for his trip was to discuss the U.S. footprint for the rest of this year – when the bulk of troops are scheduled to be withdrawn – and afterward. “We’ll probably be announcing some decisions fairly shortly” said US president.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has arrived Sunday in Crimea for a Dmitry Medvedevtwo-day working trip. It will be Medvedev’s second trip to Crimea since Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula in March in a move that has not been recognized internationally.
Medvedev was expected to visit immigration offices in the city of Sevastopol, where Russian passports are being issued to local residents. Medvedev’s office said he will also visit the Artek children’s center on the Black Sea on May 26.

Medvedev will then chair a meeting to discuss a plan for organizing children’s vacations. Russian prime minister will hold a traditional meeting with his deputies on Monday, visit the Olympic sport center “Spartak” and meet with Crimea’s acting Governor Sergei Aksyonov.