17:12 GMT +316 October 2019
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    Ukraine to Decentralize South-East, No Federalization Promised

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    Russia’s Defense Minister notes that Moscow is ready to provide the necessary assistance to get to the bottom of the downing of Flight MH17, while Petro Poroshenko prepares to implement cease-fire conditions but says there are no plans for Ukraine’s federalization.

    Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with his Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein. He noted that Moscow was ready to provide all necessary assistance to get to the bottom of the downing of Flight MH17, adding that the investigation must be independent and impartial and its results have to be made public.

    Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with his Malaysian counterpart Hishammuddin Hussein, Rossiyskaya Gazeta writes. The latter paid an off-schedule visit to Moscow from Kiev, en route to the Netherlands. The daily explains that the international trip is dedicated to the Malaysia Airlines tragedy, which claimed 298 lives. The Russian minister expressed his condolences for the tragedy, which happened in Ukraine’s airspace. The daily quotes Shoigu: “Ukraine bears all the responsibility for what has happened. I’m sure that if Ukraine solved internal conflicts without resorting to the use of its armed forces, and without the bloodshed which happened throughout last month, without heavy artillery, including rocket artillery, and without its air force – helicopters, assault planes and fighter jets – this tragedy would not have happened.” The daily highlighted that Russia’s Defense Minister noted that Moscow was ready to provide the necessary assistance to get to the bottom of the downing of MH17, adding that the investigation must be independent and impartial, and its results have to be made public. His Malaysian counterpart was relieved that Russia was willing to participate in an open and honest investigation, the article notes.

    Kommersant reports that Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko is to submit a bill on the decentralization of Ukraine’s southeast next week. The statement was made on Wednesday in Kiev, following his talks on the ceasefire in the war-torn Donbas region with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. At the same time, Ukraine’s president made it clear that there were no plans for the country’s federalization. “We remain an inclusive and unitary state. The protocol does not contain anything pertaining to federalization or secession. The creation of the Donetsk People’s Republic or Lugansk People’s Republic is not being considered. The document describes their status as part of Ukraine.” At the same time, Poroshenko noted that Kiev is upholding the conditions for cease-fire, claiming that it’s hard to maintain as “terrorists constantly attempt to provoke the Ukrainian armed forces”. The newspaper notes that according to Yuri Ushakov, a Russian presidential aide, two presidents acknowledged in their conversation that the ceasefire was a complicated process, but largely satisfactory.

    Meanwhile, some Russian officials have called for Gazprom to cut off gas shipments to Europe, as Ukraine is still unwilling to pay for its gas. Izvestia reports that Vladimir Gutenev, First Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Industry, believes that this step is necessary to put a stop to reverse shipments of Russian gas to Ukraine through EU countries. The daily quotes Gutenev: “While Gazprom has not yet responded, information about Russian gas re-exports by European customers to Ukraine has been confirmed, and I believe that we need to discuss the viability of limiting or ceasing gas shipments via the Ukrainian route.” He suggested that the reserve channels of the Nordstream pipeline can be used to provide European countries with Russian gas and added that if Europe needs gas, it can’t dictate how it should be delivered. The newspaper reports that this statement was met with a mixed response among experts – some believe that Gazprom has the right to cut off  clients which re-export its gas, while others suggest that it’s not the best idea and that shipments should not stop due to economic and political conflicts.

    The Russian government has boosted its funding of Artek, a giant Soviet-era children's holiday camp in Crimea, by 350 million rubles ($9.5 million), according to the the Moscow Times, which noted that Ukraine withdrew support from the center following the peninsula’s reunification with Russia after the secession referendum in March. The daily notes that an order raising Moscow's contribution from 850 million rubles to 1.2 billion rubles was published on the government's website Wednesday. The article mentions that the children's camp, which was founded in 1925 and was recognized by UNESCO in 2007, sprawls over 208 hectares. It hosts thousands of children from Russia, Ukraine, and other countries every year, although its popularity has waned since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets said Moscow intended to invest a total of 21 billion rubles ($568 million) in Artek, which Education Minister Dmitry Livanov said would become a center of Russian learning and teaching, the newspaper concludes.

    The Telegraph writes that President Barack Obama is prepared to authorize US air strikes in Syria as part of a broadening international mission to take the fight to militants from the Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS), senior administration officials have said. The daily notes that almost three years after celebrating the final withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, Barack Obama made a prime-time speech to the American public explaining why it was now necessary to re-engage militarily in the Middle East. The article highlights that ordering strikes against IS targets in Syria would mark a significant expansion of the "very limited" mission announced a month ago to protect American diplomats and provide humanitarian relief to Christians and other minorities who were besieged by IS forces in northern Iraq. In recent days, Obama has promised that the US is now committed to a plan to "degrade and destroy" IS, but will not put troops back on the ground and will act only as the lead member of an international coalition of NATO allies and friendly Middle Eastern governments, the newspaper notes.

    The Guardian writes that Ebola is threatening the very existence of Liberia as the virus spreads like “wildfire”, the country’s defense minister, Brownie Samukai, has warned, following a World Health Organization assessment that the worst is yet to come. After predicting an “exponential increase” in infections across west Africa, the WHO warned that Liberia, which has accounted for half of all deaths, could initially only hope to slow the contagion, but not actually stop it. Samukai told a meeting of the UN Security Council that “Liberia is facing a serious threat to its national existence,” adding that the disease is “now spreading like wildfire, devouring everything in its path”. The newspaper notes that the latest death toll is 2,296 out of 4,293 cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. The daily notes that the latest WHO figures underscore Ebola’s asymmetric spread, as it travels through densely populated communities with decrepit health facilities and poor public awareness campaigns.

    political crisis, investigation, flight MH17, mh, Malaysia Airlines, Sergei Shoigu, Malaysia
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