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Phuket Gazette World News: Obama seeks allied, China support as Ukraine exits Crimea

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Phuket Gazette World News: Obama seeks allied, China support as Ukraine exits Crimea | Thaiger

PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

Obama seeks allied, China support as Ukraine exits Crimea
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: U.S. President Barack Obama sought support from European allies and China on Monday to isolate Russia over its seizure of Crimea, and Ukraine told its remaining troops to leave the region after Russian forces overran one of Kiev’s last bases there.

Obama, who has imposed tougher sanctions on Moscow than European leaders over its takeover of the Black Sea peninsula, will seek backing for his firm line at a meeting with other leaders of the G7 – a group of industrialised nations that excludes Russia, which joined in 1998 to form the G8.

Since the emergency one-hour G7 meeting on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague was announced last week, President Vladimir Putin has signed laws completing Russia’s annexation of the region.

White House officials accompanying Obama expressed concern on Monday at what they said was a Russian troop buildup near Ukraine and warned that any further military intervention would trigger wider sanctions than the measures taken so far.

In what has become the biggest East-West confrontation since the Cold War, the United States and the European Union have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on some of Putin’s closest political and business allies. But they have held back so far from measures designed to hit Russia’s wider economy.

“Europe and America are united in our support of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people,” Obama said after a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. “We’re united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far. Prime Minister Rutte rightly pointed out yesterday the growing sanctions would bring significant consequences to the Russian economy.”

He also discussed the crisis at a private meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, whose government has voiced support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity but refrained from criticising Russia. The West wants Beijing’s diplomatic support in an effort to restrain Putin.

Moscow formally annexed Crimea on March 21, five days after newly-installed pro-Moscow regional leaders held a referendum that yielded an overwhelming vote to join Russia. Kiev and the West denounced the annexation as illegal.

Further costs

Western officials are now focussed less on persuading Putin to relinquish Crimea – a goal that seems beyond reach – than on deterring him from seizing other parts of Ukraine.

“Our interest is not in seeing the situation escalate and devolve into hot conflict,” White House national security adviser Susan Rice told reporters. “Our interest is in a diplomatic resolution, de-escalation, and obviously economic support for Ukraine, and to the extent that it continues to be necessary, further costs imposed on Russia for its actions.”

In The Hague, leaders of the G7 – the United States, Japan, Canada, Germany, France, Britain and Italy – will discuss how to exert further pressure, and at what potential cost.

“The main idea for the G7 meeting is to show the isolation of Putin. We won’t be adopting any sanctions but there might be discussion on what could be the next step,” a G7 official said.

He said they were also expected to cancel plans for a G8 meeting at the Russian Olympics site in Sochi, for which preparations were put on hold after Moscow seized Crimea.

Persuading Europeans to sign on to tougher sanctions could be difficult for Obama. The EU does 10 times as much trade with Russia as the United States, and is the biggest customer for Russian oil and gas. The EU’s 28 members include countries with widely varying relationships to Moscow.

Central and east European states, which once lived under Soviet domination and joined the EU in the last decade, are mostly urging caution out of fear for their own economies.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU’s most powerful leader, has taken a tough line with Putin and supported EU moves to reduce the bloc’s long-term dependence on Russian energy.

Little resistance

So far, the seizure of Crimea has been largely bloodless, apart from one Ukrainian soldier and one pro-Moscow militia member killed in a shootout on Tuesday last week. Ukraine’s troops left behind in Crimea have been besieged inside bases while offering little resistance.

Russian troops forced their way into a Ukrainian marine base in the port of Feodosia early on Monday, overrunning one of the last remaining symbols of resistance.

“Yesterday we had an agreement: we would lower our flag and the Russians would raise theirs. And this morning the Russians attacked, firing live ammunition. We had no weapons. We did not fire a round,” said one marine, Ruslan, who was with his wife Katya and 9-month-old son.

Troops hugged each other in farewell. Some chanted “Hurra! Hurra!” in defiance. One marine in full uniform who declined to identify himself wept and blamed the government in Kiev for the chaotic end to the standoff.

In Kiev, acting president Oleksander Turchinov told parliament the remaining Ukrainian troops and their families would be pulled out of the region in the face of “threats to the lives and health of our service personnel”.

That effectively ends any Ukrainian resistance, less than a month since Putin claimed Russia’s right to intervene militarily on its neighbour’s territory.

Although Russian forces have not entered other parts of Ukraine, NATO says they have built up at the border. The Western military alliance also fears Putin may have designs on a part of another former Soviet republic, Moldova.

Despite the disruption to East-West relations, Washington wants other diplomatic business with Moscow to continue.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was to hold talks later on Monday with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, after meeting the head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The OPCW is overseeing the destruction of Syria’s toxic stockpile in action sponsored jointly by Washington and Moscow.

Russia hit back symbolically at Canada, announcing personal sanctions against 13 Canadian officials in retaliation for Ottawa’s role in Western sanctions so far. It has already taken similar measures against senior U.S. Congress members but not yet European officials.

Western governments are struggling to find a balance between putting pressure on Putin, protecting their own economies and avoiding triggering a vicious cycle of sanctions and reprisals.

Rutte, who is making his residence available to Obama and the other G7 leaders for the talks on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit, said the West might want to move slowly.

“Russia has an economy that is highly focused on oil and gas,” Rutte told Reuters. “If it came to putting in place sanctions, that would hurt Russia considerably. So in my view we should do everything to prevent that.”

U.S. officials say any further sanctions will need to be carefully calibrated to avoid bans on entire sectors, such as oil or metals, that could reverberate through the global economy. Europe gets around a third of its oil and gas from Russia.

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Condolences from Thailand to UK on Prince Philip’s death

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Condolences from Thailand to UK on Prince Philip’s death | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: The King and Queen of Thailand greet the King and Queen of England

The leaders of Thailand have sent messages of condolences to their British counterparts following the death of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh on Friday. His Majesty King Vajiralongkorn of Thailand has sent a message of condolence to Prince Philip’s widow, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, released by the Thai Royal Household Bureau, stating that the King and Queen are deeply saddened by Prince Philip’s death.

“We all in Thailand join the people of Great Britain in mourning this great loss, a sense of loss being shared by peoples around the world, whose lives have been touched and enriched by His Royal Highness’ enduring legacies in their diversity.

We still recall, with much pride and warmth, the two historic state visits made by Your Majesty in 1972 and 1996, with His Royal Highness at your side, as guests of my beloved father, His late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Just as important to the people of Thailand was how His Royal Highness wished, during his later visits on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund, to share with them his love of nature and passion for the environment, thus inspiring a number of essential projects of conservation.

May I, on behalf of the people of Thailand, express to Your Majesty, the Royal Family and the British people our heartfelt sympathy and condolences for this truly grievous loss.”

Meanwhile, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha released a statement on behalf of the people of Thailand, saying their thoughts and prayers were with the people of Britain. PM Prayut sent a message to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson praising Prince Philip’s “exceptional leadership”.

“On behalf of the Royal Thai Government and the people of Thailand, I wish to extend to Your Right Honourable and the British people our deepest condolences and sympathy for this irreparable loss. We join the British people in mourning the loss of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts and prayers are with the British people in this time of sadness”

Prince Philip, who was married to Queen Elizabeth II for 73 years, died Friday at the age of 99 after recently being released from King Edward VII Hospital recovering from a February surgery for a heart condition. He was the longest-serving consort in British history. The Duke of Edinburgh had visited Thailand twice, escorting the Queen for state visits with King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1972 and 1996.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World & Thai Examiner

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Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip

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Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | Thaiger

Prince Philip, the husband and consort to Queen Elizabeth II, has died at the age of 99. The Duke of Edinburgh was the longest-serving consort in the history of the United Kingdom, retiring in 2017 after more than 20,000 public engagements. Born on the Greek island of Corfu, Philip had 4 children, 8 grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren with the Queen. Buckingham Palace released a statement mourning the loss.

Prince Philip was born on June 10, 1921 on the island of Corfu, Greece. He married Princess Elizabeth on November 20, 1947.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle. Further announcements will be made in due course. The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

Buckingham Palace announces the death of Prince Philip | News by Thaiger

 

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Prince Philip dies at the age of 99 – Buckingham Palace

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Prince Philip dies at the age of 99 – Buckingham Palace | Thaiger

The husband of Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, has died at the age of 99. Buckingham Palace announced his death in the last hour.

Princess Elizabeth married Prince Philip in 1947, 5 years before she became Queen. He was the longest-serving royal consort in British history.

The couple had 4 children, 8 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

SOURCE: BBC

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