Tuesday, March 11, 2014

DTN News - UKRAINE CRISIS: US Deploys Fighter Jets In Poland And Lithuania Amid Ukrainian Turmoil

Defense News: DTN News - UKRAINE CRISIS: US Deploys Fighter Jets In Poland And Lithuania Amid Ukrainian Turmoil
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources RT
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 11, 2014The US is sending a dozen F-16 fighter jets and nearly 300 service personnel to Poland by Thursday as part of a training exercise in response to the crisis in neighboring Ukraine, the Polish defense ministry confirmed.

The agreement to deploy US military forces in Poland was made between US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and Poland’s Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak during a telephone conversation on Sunday, March 9, 2014, according to a statement on the official website of the Polish Ministry of National Defense.

"The squadron will number twelve F-16 planes and will transport 300 soldiers," Polish Defense Ministry spokesman, Jacek Sonta, confirmed to AFP.

Initially, the training exercise was planned to be smaller but was increased and pushed forward because of the “tense political situation” in neighboring Ukraine, added Sonta.

The ministry also said that the aim of sending the units is to “strengthen Polish - American cooperation.” Part of the preparation team of US Air Force has already arrived on Polish territory.

The fighters were sent on the initiative of the Polish government, an initiative immediately accepted by Washington.

On Monday, NATO also gave the go-ahead to Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) for reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania in order help monitor the crisis in Ukraine.

Poland is a western neighbor of crisis-torn Ukraine - between the countries’ capitals, Warsaw and Kiev, there is less than 700 km.

Earlier, the Polish media reported that US fighter jets would be stationed at the Lask air force base in central Poland.

Washington is also sending four F-15 planes to Lithuania in response to “Russian aggression in Ukraine and increased military activity in Kaliningrad,” according to the Lithuanian Defense Ministry.

On Saturday, US Navy destroyer, the USS Truxtun, crossed Turkey's Bosphorus and entered the Black Sea. The ship, with around 300 crew, was heading to “previously planned” training exercises with the Bulgarian and Romanian navies. When the vessel appeared in the Black Sea, Fox News declared that NATO’s bolstering presence in the Black Sea is a “defensive” measure to counter “Russian military aggression” in Ukraine.

USS Truxton, one of the largest destroyers ever built for the US navy, will reportedly stay in the Black Sea till mid-March as the Montreux Convention allows a warship of any non-Black Sea country to stay in the region for 21 day only.

The situation in Ukraine is close to financial and humanitarian catastrophe after the armed coup which took place in February. There are mass protests in eastern and southern parts of the country against the self-proclaimed authorities in Kiev.

The Autonomous Republic of Crimea has scheduled a referendum for March 16 on whether it wants to remain part of Ukraine, or join Russia.

*Link for This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources RT
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DTN News - UKRAINE CRISIS: NATO To Fly AWACS Planes Over Poland, Romania To Monitor Ukraine Crisis

Defense News: DTN News - UKRAINE CRISIS: NATO To Fly AWACS Planes Over Poland, Romania To Monitor Ukraine Crisis
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources Reuters
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 11, 2014NATO will start reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in neighboring Ukraine where Russian forces have taken control of Crimea, the alliance said on Monday.

Ukraine is not a NATO member but Russia's intervention in Crimea has alarmed neighboring countries, including alliance members that used to be dominated by the Soviet Union.

Acting on a recommendation from the alliance's top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO ambassadors gave the go-ahead to the AWACS flights, a NATO spokesman said.

AWACS (airborne early warning and control) planes will fly from their home airbases in Geilenkirchen, Germany, and Waddington in Britain, the spokesman said.

"These flights will enhance the alliance's situational awareness and all will take place solely over alliance territory," he said.

The flights will start soon and go on for as long as required, he added.

The Western military alliance announced a review of its cooperation with Moscow last week after Russian forces tightened their grip on Crimea, home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, following weeks of upheaval in Ukraine which culminated in the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovich.

NATO allies met last Tuesday after Poland invoked a rule allowing any ally to consult with the others if it feels its security is under threat.

Soon after that meeting, U.S. officials said the Pentagon would more than double the number of U.S. fighter jets on a NATO air patrol mission in the Baltics and do more training with Poland's air force in an attempt to reassure allies.

The E-3 Sentry is an airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft that provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by commanders of U.S. and NATO air defense forces. As proven in Desert Storm, it is the premier air battle command and control aircraft in the world today.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

*Link for This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources Reuters
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DTN News - AIRLINES NEWS: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Mystery

Defense News: DTN News - AIRLINES NEWS: Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Mystery
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources Fox News
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 10, 2014Vietnamese aircraft spotted what they suspected was one of the doors belonging to the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 on Sunday, as troubling questions emerged about how two passengers managed to board the Boeing 777 using stolen passports.

The discovery comes as officials consider the possibility that the plane disintegrated mid-flight, a senior source told Reuters.

The state-run Thanh Nien newspaper cited Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of Vietnam's army, as saying searchers in a low-flying plane had spotted an object suspected of being a door from the missing jet. It was found in waters about 56 miles south of Tho Chu island, in the same area where oil slicks were spotted Saturday.

"From this object, hopefully (we) will find the missing plane," Tuan said. Thanh Nien said two ships from the maritime police were heading to the site.

An authority told Reuters that it was too dark to be certain the object was part of the missing plane, and that more aircraft would be dispatched to investigate the site in waters off southern Vietnam in the morning.

Rahman said that the search area has been increased to 50 nautical miles, from 20, and includes 34 aircraft and 40 ships. Aircraft are conducting 12-hour searches, until sundown, while ships are scheduled to continue the search throughout the night.

Meanwhile, Interpol says no country checked its database for information about stolen passports that were used to board the Malaysia Airlines flight that disappeared with 239 people on board Saturday less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, bound for Beijing.

In a sharply worded criticism of shortcomings of national passport controls, the Lyon, France-based international police body said information about the thefts of an Austrian passport in 2012 and an Italian passport last year was entered into its database after they were stolen in Thailand.

Interpol said in a statement it was investigating all other passports used to board the flight and was working to determine the "true identities" of the passengers who used the stolen passports.

"I can confirm that we have the visuals of these two people on CCTV," Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said at a news conference late Sunday, adding that the footage was being examined. "We have intelligence agencies, both local and international, on board."

Hussein declined to give further details, saying it may jeopardize the investigation. Hussein said only two passengers had used stolen passports, and that earlier reports that the identities of two others were under investigation were not true.

European authorities on Saturday confirmed the names and nationalities of the two stolen passports: One was an Italian-issued document bearing the name Luigi Maraldi, the other Austrian under the name Christian Kozel. Police in Thailand said Maraldi's passport was stolen on the island of Phuket last July.

A telephone operator on a China-based KLM hotline on Sunday confirmed to The Associated Press that "Maraldi" and "Kozel" were both booked to leave Beijing on a KLM flight to Amsterdam on March 8. Maraldi was then to fly to Copenhagen, Denmark, on KLM on March 8, and Kozel to Frankfurt, Germany, on March 8.

She said since the pair booked the tickets through China Southern Airlines, she had no information on where they bought them. The ticket purchases reportedly took place almost simultaneously, and the tickets were numbered consecutively, according to the BBC.

A U.S. official told Fox News that a key priority is clarifying the status of the passports, whether they were lost or stolen, and determining through airport security screening and video who got on the flight under those names.

The statements came as officials said finding the wreckage of the flight is “the utmost priority."

“There is still no sign of the aircraft,” Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Department of Civil Aviation, said during a news conference in Kuala Lumpur.

The U.S. Navy sent a warship, the USS Pickney, which was conducting training and maritime security operations off the South China Sea, and a surveillance plane. Singapore said it would send a submarine and a plane. China and Vietnam were sending aircraft to help in the search.

It is not uncommon for it to take several days to find the wreckage of an aircraft floating on the ocean. Locating and then recovering the flight data recorders, vital to any investigation, can take months or even years.

When pressed on reports of fake passports used by at least two passengers on board the flight and the possibility of a terrorist attack, Rahman re-stated that the priority is to find the aircraft and that any probe investigating a terror link is independent of the search mission. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has also said it is “too early to make any conclusive remarks.”

Earlier, Malaysia’s air force chief told reporters that military radar indicated that the plane may have turned from its flight route before losing contact.

Rodzali Daud didn't say which direction the plane might have taken when it apparently went off route.

"We are trying to make sense of this," he told a media conference. "The military radar indicated that the aircraft may have made a turn back and in some parts, this was corroborated by civilian radar."

Malaysia Airlines Chief Executive Ahmad Jauhari Yahya said pilots were supposed to inform the airline and traffic control authorities if the plane does start to return. "From what we have, there was no such distress signal or distress call per se, so we are equally puzzled," he said.

Vietnamese air force planes spotted two large oil slicks late Saturday in the first sign that the aircraft had crashed. The slicks were each between 6 miles and 9 miles long, the Vietnamese government said in a statement.

But there was no confirmation that the slicks were related to the missing plane, but the statement said they were consistent with the kinds that would be produced by the two fuel tanks of a crashed jetliner.

The plane was carrying 227 passengers, including two infants and 12 crew members when it “lost all contact,” with Subang Air Traffic Control at 2:40 a.m., two hours into the flight, the airline said. The plane was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. Saturday.

Around the time the plane vanished, the weather was fine and the plane was already at cruising altitude, making its disappearance all the more mysterious.

Just 9 percent of fatal accidents happen when a plane is at cruising altitude, according to a statistical summary of commercial jet accidents done by Boeing. The plane was last inspected 10 days ago and found to be "in proper condition," Ignatius Ong, CEO of Malaysia Airlines subsidiary Firefly airlines, said at a news conference.

The lack of a radio call "suggests something very sudden and very violent happened," said William Waldock, who teaches accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz.

The plane "lost all contact and radar signal one minute before it entered Vietnam's air traffic control," Lt. Gen. Vo Van Tuan, deputy chief of staff of the Vietnamese army, said in a statement issued by the government.

U.S. officials said late Saturday that a team of safety experts had been dispatched to Southeast Asia to assist in the investigation. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board told Fox News that the team, which includes investigators from the agency and technical experts from the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, had been sent to the region despite the fact that the plane had not been located due to the lengthy travel time from the U.S. and the team's desire to be in a position to assist local authorities right away. The FBI is also assisting in the search.

Meanwhile, a former intelligence official told Fox News that the information about stolen passports from two adjacent European countries, combined with recent warnings for flights to the United States about the risk of possible shoe bomb attacks, is concerning.

The airline said onboard the plane, there were 152 passengers from China, 38 from Malaysia, seven from Indonesia, six from Australia, five from India and three from the U.S. and others from Indonesia, France, New Zealand, Canada, Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and the Netherlands.

The U.S. State Department later confirmed in a statement that three Americans were aboard the jetliner.

In the United States, a friend confirmed to the Associated Press that an IBM executive from North Texas named Philip Wood had been aboard the jet. Freescale Semiconductor, a company based in Texas, also confirmed Saturday that 20 of its employees -- 12 from Malaysia and eight from China -- were passengers.

The airline says the plane's pilot is Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old who has been with the airline for over 30 years. The plane's first officer is Fariq Ab.Hamid, a 27-year-old who joined the airline in 2007. Both are Malaysians.

At Beijing's airport, authorities posted a notice asking relatives and friends of passengers to gather at a hotel about nine miles from the airport to wait for further information, and provided a shuttle bus service.

Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200 jets in its fleet of about 100 planes.

The 777 had not had a fatal crash in its 20-year history until the Asiana Airlines crash in San Francisco in July 2013.

Fox News' Catherine Herridge and Dan Gallo, as well as The Associated Press contributed to this report.

*Link for This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources Fox News
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
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Sunday, March 9, 2014

DTN News - UKRAINE CRISIS: Merkel, U.S. Warn Putin of Crimea Annexation

Defense News: DTN News - UKRAINE CRISIS: Merkel, U.S. Warn Putin of Crimea Annexation
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources CBC News
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 9, 2014Germany's Angela Merkel delivered a rebuke to President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, telling him that a planned Moscow-backed referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia was illegal and violated Ukraine's constitution.

Putin defended breakaway moves by pro-Russian leaders in Crimea, where Russian forces tightened their grip on the Ukrainian region by seizing another border post.
As thousands staged rival rallies in Crimea, street violence flared in Sebastopol, when pro-Russian activists and Cossack militiamen attacked a group of Ukrainians.
Russian forces' seizure of the Black Sea peninsula has been bloodless but tensions are mounting following the decision by pro-Russian groups there to make Crimea part of Russia.
The operation to seize Crimea began within days of Ukraine's pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich's flight from the country last month. Yanukovich was toppled after three months of demonstrations against a decision to spurn a free trade deal with the European Union for closer ties with Russia.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk will hold talks with President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday on how to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis, the White House said.
One of Obama's top national security officials said the United States would not recognise the annexation of Crimea by Russia if residents vote to leave Ukraine in a referendum next week.
Putin declared a week ago that Russia had the right to invade Ukraine to protect Russian citizens, and his parliament has voted to change the law to make it easier to annex territory inhabited by Russian speakers."We won't recognize it, nor will most of the world," deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken said.
Speaking by telephone to Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, Putin said steps taken by authorities in Crimea were "based on international law and aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the peninsula's population," the Kremlin said.
A German government statement, however, said the referendum was illegal. "Holding it violates the Ukrainian constitution and international law."


Late on Sunday, an armed pro-Russian force wearing military uniforms bearing no designated markings sealed off another military airport in Crimea, a defence ministry spokesman on the peninsula said.
The 80 or so-strong group, who were supporting 50 civilians, blocked off the entrance to the airport near the village of Saki and established machine-gun posts along the landing strip, the spokesman, Vladislav Seleznyov, told Reuters by telephone.


'Despite the differences in the assessments of what is
happening, they (Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM David Cameron) expressed a common
interest in de-escalation of the tensions and normalization of
the situation as soon as possible.'
The civilian group, who were wielding sticks and clubs, sought to break into the airport's control terminal, he said
Earlier in the day, Russian forces seized a border post on the western edge of Crimea, trapping about 15 personnel inside, a border guard spokesman said, revising an earlier figure of 30.
The spokesman, Oleh Slobodyan, said Russian forces now controlled 11 border guard posts across Crimea, a former Russian territory that is home to Russia's Black Sea fleet and has an ethnic Russian majority.
In Sevastopol, several hundred people held a meeting demanding that Crimea become part of Russia, chanting: "Moscow is our capital."
Across town at a monument to Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, violence flared at a meeting to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth, when pro-Russian activists and Cossacks attacked a small group of Ukrainians guarding the event and the police had to intervene.
Footage from the event showed a group of men violently kicking one of the Ukrainians as he lay on the ground and a Cossack repeatedly hit him with a long black leather whip.
Former Russian oil tycoon, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, released from jail in December, addressed a crowd in Kyiv's Independence Square lambasting his old foe Putin for his heavy-handed approach to protesters in Ukraine.
"Russian propaganda lies, as always. There are no fascists or Nazis here, no more than on the streets in Moscow or St  Petersburg," said Khodorovsky, who spent 10 years in a Russian prison. "These are wonderful people who stood up  for their freedom."
In Simferopol, Crimea's main city, pro- and anti-Russian groups held rival rallies.
Vladimir Kirichenko, 58, an engineer, opposed the regional parliament's plans for a vote this month on Crimea joining Russia. "I don't call this a referendum. It asks two practically identical questions: Are you for the secession of Ukraine or are you for the secession of Ukraine? 
So why would I go and vote?"Several hundred opponents of Russian-backed plans for Crimea to secede gathered, carrying blue and yellow balloons the colour of the Ukrainian flag. The crowd sang the national anthem, twice, and an Orthodox Priest led prayers and a hymn.


Around 2,000 Russian supporters gathered in Lenin Square, where there is a statue of the Soviet state founder, clapping along to nostalgic Soviet era songs being sung from the stage.

Alexander Liganov, 25 and jobless, said: "We have always been Russian, not Ukrainian. We support Putin."
President Vladimir Putin declared a week ago that Russia had the right to invade Ukraine to protect Russian citizens, and his parliament has voted to change the law to make it easier to annex territory inhabited by Russian speakers.
At a rally in the eastern city of Donetsk, home to many Russian speakers, presidential candidate Vitaly Klitschko, a former boxing champion, said Ukraine should not be allowed to split apart amid bloodshed.
"The main task is to preserve the stability and independence of our country," he said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to Russia's foreign minister for the fourth day in a row, told Sergei Lavrov on Saturday that Russia should exercise restraint.The worst face-off with Moscow since the Cold War has left the West scrambling for a response, especially since the region's pro-Russia leadership declared Crimea part of Russia last week and announced a March 16 referendum to confirm it.
"He made clear that continued military escalation and provocation in Crimea or elsewhere in Ukraine, along with steps to annex Crimea to Russia, would close any available space for diplomacy, and he urged utmost restraint," a U.S. official said.


A spokeswoman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said military monitors from the pan-Europe watchdog had on Saturday been prevented for the third time in as many days from entering Crimea.
Moscow denies that the Russian-speaking troops in Crimea are under its command, an assertion Washington dismisses as "Putin's fiction." Although they wear no insignia, the troops drive vehicles with Russian military plates.Shots were fired to turn back the mission of more than 40 unarmed observers, who have been invited by Kyiv but lack permission from Crimea's pro-Russian authorities to cross the isthmus to the peninsula. No one was hurt.
A Reuters reporting team filmed a convoy of hundreds of Russian troops in about 50 trucks, accompanied by armoured vehicles and ambulances, which pulled into a military base north of Simferopol in broad daylight on Saturday.
Ukrainian troops are performing training exercises in their bases but there are no plans to send them to Crimea, Interfax news agency quoted acting Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh as saying. Ukraine's military, with 130,000 troops, would be no match for Russia's. So far Kyiv has held back from any action that might provoke a response.
*Link for This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources CBC News
*Speaking Image - Creation of DTN News ~ Defense Technology News 
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Saturday, March 8, 2014

DTN News - UKRAINE CRISIS: Europe Has Little Reason To Fear Russian Gas Cut-Off

Defense News: DTN News - UKRAINE CRISIS: Europe Has Little Reason To Fear Russian Gas Cut-Off
Source: DTN News - - This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources DW
(NSI News Source Info) TORONTO, Canada - March 8, 2014More than one third of Europe's gas needs are covered by Russian gas. The crisis in Ukraine has kindled fears that Russia could stop the flow.

The crisis in Ukraine is not only about politics, it's also about natural gas. Russia, a key gas producer, supplies Europe with about a third of the gas it needs - and Ukraine is an important transit state.

Almost 40 percent of the gas used in Germany comes from Russia. The Baltic States' dependency is even greater: Russia supplies them with almost 100 percent of the gas they need. Ukraine, too. The crisis in Ukraine, which also depends on Russian gas, has unleashed increasing concern about Europe's energy supplies. Moscow has been known to employ energy giant Gazprom to serve political ends.

Twice since 2006, Russia cut gas flows to Ukraine because of disagreements over transit conditions and prices. Russia also suspected Ukraine of siphoning gas from Russian pipelines passing through the country. Gazprom announced this week it would cancel a 30 percent discount on natural gas for Ukraine, and demanded the country settle its debts - a harsh blow for a country teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

What if the dispute escalates and Moscow stops the flow of gas? Experts have said Western Europe would probably not be that badly affected.

"That wouldn't affect the EU very much," said Jonas Grätz of the Center for Security Studies (CSS) in Zurich, adding a cut would hit eastern nations like Hungary and Bulgaria more than states in Western Europe, where the gas reservoirs are still filled to about 60 percent - enough for up to four months.

"There's a glut on the international gas markets," said Claudia Kemfert, an energy expert with the Berlin-based German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). But Kemfert said in the long run, Europe is insufficiently prepared to purchase a third of the gas it needs elsewhere. "That is true in particular for countries in Southeast Europe that buy large amounts of gas in Russia."

Russia has many ways to transport natural gas -it could easily cut off Ukraine
If transit via Ukraine were blocked, Russian gas could instead flow through the Nord Stream Pipeline that takes natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Then, there's the Yamal-Europe natural gas pipeline which runs across Belarus and Poland to Germany. 

Should Russia halt all shipments, tankers could bring liquid natural gas to Europe from the Middle East. But Germany, for one, doesn't have a terminal to unload such tankers. In case of a longer disruption, gas buyers could also turn to Algeria and Norway.

Russia's biggest customer

Both the EU Commission and the German government maintain that the Crimea crisis does not endanger gas supplies to the European Union. Germany Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel pointed out that Russia has always honored its contracts with Western Europe.

"There's no reason to be concerned at the moment," EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said, adding that the gas reserves are actually higher than they were last year due to Europe's mild winter temperatures.

Russia is not likely to cut gas supplies to Europe. "Russia heavily depends on energy deliveries to Europe," Kemfert said. "Some 60 percent of Russia's state income is due to oil, gas and coal sales - and a large part of that goes to Europe."

Halting all gas exports to Europe would hurt Russia's economy

Grätz added that "a different approach was needed to be taken to Russia's dependence on the European market." One possibility, he said, would be the strict implementation of European market rules on all dealings with Gazprom. Russian President Vladimir Putin has often used the energy giant to serve his own geopolitical goals. If European countries cut imports of Russian energy, it would negatively impact Gazprom as 60 percent of its revenue comes from the European market.

"When Gazprom has problems then Putin will also have problems because he needs the company in order to achieve projects in Russia, such as Sochi, and the supply of gas to rural regions as well as using the company as a means to conduct foreign policy," Grätz said.

Pressure on Ukraine

Russia is currently the European Union's third largest trading partner. In 2012, Russia exported 215 billion euros ($300 billion) worth of goods to the EU and imported 123.4 billion euros from the 28-member bloc. Germany currently represents Russia's third largest trading partner, exporting mainly cars, machines and chemical products. Russia, however, is Germany's 11th most important trade partner, just behind Poland.

The situation in Ukraine, however, is very different, and the EU is concerned about the country's energy supply. After meeting this week with EU energy ministers, Oettinger said the bloc was considering helping Kyiv pay its energy bill. It is also considering sending gas to Ukraine in pipelines that run through Slovakia.

Related Images on Ukraine Crisis;

*Link for This article compiled by K. V. Seth from reliable sources DW
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