The Pentagon and American intelligence agencies are developing plans that would enable the Obama administration to provide specific locations of surface-to-air missiles controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine so the Ukrainian government could target them for destruction, American officials said.
But the proposal has not yet been debated in the White House, a senior administration official said. It is unclear whether President Obama, who has already approved limited intelligence sharing with Ukraine, will agree to give more precise information about potential military targets, a step that would involve the United States more deeply in the conflict.
Already, the question of what kind of intelligence support to give the Ukrainian government has become part of a larger debate within the administration about how directly to confront President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and how big a role Washington should take in trying to stop Russia’s rapid delivery of powerful weapons to eastern Ukraine.
As Ukrainian troops gained ground in eastern Ukraine in early July, separatist leader, Aleksander Borodai, a Russian national, left for Moscow for political consultations.
After what he described as successful talks with unnamed people there, he returned to the rebel stronghold of Donetsk to introduce a new senior figure in his self-proclaimed republic, a compatriot seasoned in the pro-Russian separatist movement in Moldova and a war between Russia and Georgia.
Vladimir Antyufeyev was named “deputy prime minister” by Borodai on July 10, one of several native Russians to have taken charge of the separatist rebellion in Ukraine’s eastern regions.
European leaders are considering their toughest sanctions yet on Vladimir Putin as the U.S. says there’s evidence that Russia plans to supply rebels with heavy weapons including multiple rocket launchers.
With Ukraine and Russia trading accusations of shelling across each other’s borders, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pushing European Union leaders to sign off on new sanctions next week. Merkel wants “to intensify the sanctions” and wants “quick decisions on this,” Georg Streiter, a German government spokesman, said yesterday. The Italian government, which chairs the EU Council, expects a deal on sanctions by next week, an EU official said.
“The shooting down of the airliner was a tipping point that’s changed the EU constellation,” Joerg Forbrig, senior program officer for central and eastern Europe at the Berlin bureau of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S., said in a phone interview. “Putin has crossed a line and misread the mood in European capitals to close ranks on new sanctions.”
As the fight in Gaza wears on, anti-Semites across Europe are attacking the continent’s Jews under the pretext of protesting Israel’s politics.
Since the beginning of the current war between Israel and Hamas, eight synagogues in France have been attacked. In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has asked for Jews to apologize for the actions of the Jewish state. In Germany, a prominent Muslim Imam gave a sermon asking Allah to kill all of the “Zionist Jews.”
The atmosphere in Europe since the beginning of the war has been so toxic that the foreign ministers of France, Italy, and Germany on Tuesday issued a rare joint statement condemning anti-Semitism at pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
All of this presents a troubling paradox for Zionism. The state of Israel was founded in 1948 as a haven for Jews. But in 2014 Europe’s anti-Semites have attacked Jews for the deeds of the Jewish state.
It is a classic anti-Semitic canard to punish any Jew for the perceived crimes of all of them. There is no evidence also to suggest that if Israel did not respond to rockets fired from Hamas, the Jews of Europe would be any safer or the continent’s anti-Semites would be any more tolerant. After all, some of the worst attacks on Jews in France occurred at a time of relative quiet in Israel.
But during a war that has claimed nearly 700 Palestinians and far fewer Israelis, Jewish leaders in Europe say their communities are being held responsible for the actions of Israel.
“If you are a French Jew you should not be responsible physically for what happens 4,000 kilometers away,” Roger Cukierman, the president of the umbrella organization representing the Jewish community in France known as CRIF, told The Daily Beast.
The Ukrainian army on Friday claimed that soldiers came under artillery fire from the Russian side of the border overnight and were attacked by rebels in several other places in the restive east.
Ukrainian forces are trying to close in on the rebels, cutting them off from the border with Russia which Kyiv believes is the source of arms and reinforcement. Moscow has vehemently denied a role in the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and government troops which has left more than 400 people dead and displaced tens of thousands.
In a statement on Friday, the headquarters of the government’s military operation in the east listed at least seven locations where rebels attacked Ukrainian troops. They also claimed that attacks on two locations including a border crossing were supported by artillery fire from Russia.
The U.S. says it has “new evidence” that Russian forces have been firing artillery across the border to attack Ukrainian military positions, and that Moscow is planning to ship powerful rocket artillery to the rebels it backs in the country’s east.
“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatist forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said during a daily briefing.
“I can’t tell you what the information is based on,” Harf said.
The remarks come as the European Union agreed to add 15 people and 18 companies or other organizations to a sanctions list aimed at Moscow, according to Reuters.
A piece of wreckage from the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 that was shot down in eastern Ukraine last week bears telltale marks of small pieces of high-velocity shrapnel that apparently crippled the jet in flight. Riddled with these perforations and buffeted by a blast wave as it flew high above the conflict zone, the plane then most likely sheared apart.
The wreckage, photographed by two reporters for The New York Times in a field several miles from where the largest concentration of the Boeing’s debris settled, suggests that the destruction of the aircraft was caused by a supersonic missile that apparently exploded near the jet as it flew 33,000 feet above the ground, according to an analysis of the photographs by IHS Jane’s, the defense consultancy.
Russia appears to have aided in one of the larger acts of terror since 9/11, but continues to bluster none the less.
Russia presented a combination of conciliation and bluster on Monday over its handling of the downed Malaysia Airlines jet, with President Vladimir V. Putin seemingly probing for a way out of the crisis without appearing to compromise with the West.
On one hand, he offered conciliatory words in a video statement, oddly released in the middle of the night, while the separatists allied with Moscow in southeastern Ukraine released the bodies of the victims and turned over the black box flight recorders from the doomed aircraft to Malaysian officials.
However, two senior military officers forcefully demanded that the United States show publicly any proof that rebels fired the fatal missile, and again suggested that the Ukrainian military shot down the Malaysia Airlines jet despite the fact that Ukraine has not used antiaircraft weapons in the fight along its eastern border.
Hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters descended upon “Little Jerusalem,” the Jewish neighborhood in the suburb of Sarcelles, north of Paris, on Sunday. Rioters threw a Molotov cocktail at a religious institution next to the synagogue, setting alight a Jewish pharmacy and mini-market, burned vehicles, destroyed property and wreaked havoc at the city’s train station while police tried to secure the area.
This neighborhood is home to one of France’s biggest Jewish communities, its members residing in a block of buildings centered around a synagogue and a Jewish school. Outside “Little Jerusalem,” the great majority of the population is of African and North African descent.
The situation here has been tense for more than a decade following several anti-Semitic attacks, so when pro-Palestinian organizations called for a protest at the local train station just days after clashes had erupted outside three Paris synagogues - it seemed obvious that things could get out of hand.
To avert public disorder the authorities had banned the Sarcelles rally, as was also the case with a number of events planned for this past weekend in the Paris area, including a protest that the Jewish Defense League wanted to hold.
But like the previous day, in Paris, the pro-Palestinian demonstrators defied the police and began to gather at 3 P.M. Sunday at the train station, about a mile from the local synagogue. The protesters had negotiated with police over the right to hear several speeches and then disperse.
One of the event’s organizers, Suleiman, called for peace.
“We’re not against Israel,” he said. “We just want peace for both Palestine and Israel. We have nothing against our Jewish brothers, our friends, our cousins.” He then added, “Allahu akbar (God is great).”
As the protest was staged on the day that commemorates the roundup of Jews in Paris in 1942, the organizers noted: “We respect World War II roundups but what you’re doing in Gaza is genocide, too.”
Quickly, the crowd started chanting anti-Israeli slogans, along the lines of “Israel is a murderer,” “[French President] François Hollande is an accomplice.”
When the speeches were over Suleiman asked the crowd about 20 times to leave, but it wouldn’t. Hundreds of people carrying Moroccan and other North African flags then started running. At first, they ran in the opposite direction of the synagogue, as police were blocking the street. Then they turned to a street parallel to that of the synagogue, under the gaze of hundreds of people watching them from above in tall buildings.
The crowd then turned again and reached the city’s main avenue, on which the synagogue is located, and then walked toward it. They burned cars, attacked a television crew, and chanted “Allahu akbar.”
Police were stationed on all the streets leading to the Jewish neighborhood, whose residents stood helplessly behind them. Some were afraid that relatives outside the quarter would get hurt.
The bombardment by land, sea and air that Gaza sources say has killed over 500 Palestinians, undertaken in an attempt by Israel to counter Hamas rockets and attack tunnels, has inflamed tensions far afield from the Middle East, especially in France with its large Muslim and Jewish communities.
Paris protests in support of Gaza residents have degenerated into violence on several occasions.
“As soon as you talk about Israel, it crystallizes all passions, with up to 20,000 or 30,000 comments sometimes after an article, of which we will only let five to 10 percent through,” said David Corchia, head of Concileo, a firm of moderators that counts the dailies Le Figaro and Liberation as clients.