Russian Humanitarian Aid to Syria Arrives at LattakiaAirport

MOSCOW, (ST) -Two Russian planes carrying tones of humanitarian aid to Syria arrived on Tuesday at the Syrian Lattakia Airport.

Earlier, Spokeswoman of the Russian Emergencies Ministry Irina Rossius told Itar Tass news agency that "the two emergencies planes Il-76 and Il 62 are to leave for Lattakia from Moscow on Tuesday carrying 44 tones of humanitarian aid."

She said that one of the planes carries tents, electricity generators, kitchen stuff and foldable furniture, while the other includes food stuff.

 Rossius pointed out that the planes will be ready to evacuate Russian citizens who want to leave Syria.

In another development, the Russian Defense Ministry has decided to keep Russian warships in the Mediterranean. The decision comes in the light of the results of the naval military exercises Russia had carried out last month.  

 "Russia Today" website quoted a source at the Russian Defense Ministry's media office as saying that that Russia is sending four more warships to the Mediterranean Sea to join an escort ship and smaller vessels that are already on duty in the region.

Meanwhile, Russia renewed its commitment to the contracts of technical military cooperation with Syria.

Deputy Director of the Federal Agency for Technical Military Cooperation with Foreign Countries said in a statement on the sideline of the International Arms Exhibition in the United Arab Emirates, that Russia sends only defensive arms to Syria and "we have to implement the signed contracts since today there are no UN sanctions on Syria."  

He stressed the "regime" in Syria is legitimate and has been elected by the Syrian people. "For this reason, Russia maintains its cooperation with Syria regardless the current events, he said, adding that the future of Russian-Syrian technical military cooperation "depends on the development of the situation in this country."

H. Mustafa 

Russia, US Pin Hope on Syrian Government- Opposition Dialogue- Lavrov


BRUSSELES,(ST)_  Russia 's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday  that Moscow and Washington are convinced of the need to exploit the opportunity may availed by the Syrian government negotiations with the opposition.

Russia Today quoted Lavrov as saying in a press statement "I talked  with US Secretary of State  John Kerry about Syria.. about signs of hope that both the government and the opposition seriously agree on the need for dialogue ".

Lavrov added :  "We have discussed how can we help to that  preconditions should not  block the road to such a dialogue .. Moscow and Washington are convinced of the need to  fully exploit this opportunity and both sides to do  everything possible  in order to settle secondary issues   because it is important, to bring  parties on  the dialogue table and both sides  to  try to take advantage of this opportunity. "

Lavrov pointed out that he agreed with Kerry to meet soon , noting :"We agreed during a telephone call meet soon somewhere."
In another context, Lavrov confirmed that there is no government shipment headed  from Russia to Syria in the Finnish port of Helsinki and that Moscow is now working to clarify about this matter.
He continued that  "There were not any cargo on board  of the ship,  so we are going to investigate on the news reported on this matter."


EU Extends Sanctions on Syria

BRUSSELS, (ST) _ European Union foreign ministers have agreed to keep current sanctions against Syria in place for another three months.

RIA Novosti quoted Ashton as saying: “We…agreed to extend sanctions against Syria for a further three months and we are amending them so as to enable greater technical assistance for the protection of civilians,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in comments for the press on Monday following a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council.

“We will continue our help to the innocent victims of the conflict,” Ashton said, adding that EU humanitarian aid currently stands at 600 million Euros .

The EU, Syria's biggest trading partner, imposed economic sanctions the Syrian state  in 2011.

The sanctions include an arms exports embargo as well as travel bans and asset freezes on more than 120 individuals and 40 companies.

The EU has also banned crude oil imports from Syria and has blocked trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds with Syrian public bodies and the central bank.



Russia to send two planes with humanitarian aid to Syria

 The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry is preparing to send two planes with 44 tonnes of humanitarian aid to Syria.

"Consistent with the directives of the Russian president and government, it is planned to take humanitarian aid to the population of the Syrian Arab Republic suffering from hostilities," says a report published on the ministry website on Monday, Voice of Russia, Interfax .

Ilyushin Il-62 and Il-76 jets from the ministry will take aboard respectively 11.02 tonnes and 33.5 tonnes of humanitarian aid, the report said.

The date of the planes' departure to Syria has not been reported.


Lavrov, Kerry discuss crisis in Syria

 Speaking on the telephone Sunday, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry looked into ways to stop violence and start up a dialogue in Syria .

They also agreed to stay in contact and meet in person in the near future, according to Voice of Russia, Interfax

Meanwhile,The overdue meeting between Russia’s top foreign official Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry may be held in March, Lavrov’s deputy Sergei Ryabkov has told Russian media.

Mr. Ryabkov said no meeting in person would probably take place until the end of February, adding the US and Russia were talking over details.

“It’s not clear yet, what tours they will be on and whether their routes will cross,” Mr. Ryabkov noted.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said an agreement has been reached on talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry within in a few weeks.

"I know a tour of the Middle East is one of his nearest priorities. This is easy to understand. An agreement has been reached to hold talks within weeks. We will negotiate the venue and date additionally," Lavrov said on the "Sunday Night with Vladimir Solovyov" program on Rossiya-1 television on Sunday.

Russia’s foreign policy is independent, principled, not time serving, and for these reasons it attracts international recognition and respect. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke about this on Russian television Sunday.


India Renews its Opposition to Foreign Interference in Syria

NEW DELHI, (ST) - Indian National Security Adviser, Shiv Shankar Menon, confirmed that his country opposes any military intervention in Syria and India is against such interference and the solution must be Syrian with a complete cessation of violence.

 In a speech at the conclusion of the International Conference on Emerging Trends in West Asia and its Security Implications in the Region, Menon added that "India strongly supports the democratic aspirations of the people in West Asia but not to the extent of supporting the compulsive change of regimes ."

 "Societies can't be reordered from abroad through military force and we have only to look to the instability stemming from Libya to the coastal area and the crisis in Syria. " Menon said.

"The current challenges in the region prepared a  suitable atmosphere for extremist groups to exploit and pursue their agendas and stir regional instability and sectarian division,"  the adviser pointed out.

On the Arab-Israeli conflict Menon said: "Our support for peace in the Middle East is initially steady and India is the first non-Arab country to recognize the State of Palestine," adding that his country is against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region."

Sh. Kh.

Meteorite hits Russian Urals: Fireball explosion wreaks havoc, over 900 injured


Russia’s Urals region has been rocked by a meteorite explosion in the stratosphere. The impact wave damaged several buildings, and blew out thousands of windows amid frigid winter weather. Hundreds have sought medical attention for minor injuries.

Around 950 people have sought medical attention in Chelyabinsk alone because of the disaster, the region's governor Mikhail Yurevich told RIA Novosti. Over 110 of them have been hospitalized and two of them are in heavy condition. Among the injured there are 159 children, Emergency ministry reported.

Army units found three meteorite debris impact sites, two of which are in an area near Chebarkul Lake, west of Chelyabinsk. The third site was found some 80 kilometers further to the northwest, near the town of Zlatoust. One of the fragments that struck near Chebarkul left a crater six meters in diameter.

Service members from the tank brigade that found the crater have confirmed that background radiation levels at the site are normal.

A hole in Chebarkul Lake made by meteorite debris. Photo by Chebarkul town head Andrey Orlov.

A hole in Chebarkul Lake made by meteorite debris. Photo by Chebarkul town head Andrey Orlov.

Experts working at the site of the impact told Lifenews tabloid that the fragment is most likely solid, and consists of rock and iron.

A local fisherman told police he found a large hole in the lake’s ice, which could be a result of a meteorite impact. The site was immediately sealed off by police, a search team is now waiting for divers to arrive and explore the bottom of the lake.

Samples of water taken from the lake have not revealed any excessive radioactivity or foreign material.

Weather sattelite Meteosat 10 has taken an image of the meteriote shortly after entering the atmosphere.

Weather sattelite Meteosat 10 has taken an image of the meteriote shortly after entering the atmosphere.(Copyright 2013 © EUMETSAT)

Russian space agency Roskosmos has confirmed the object that crashed in the Chelyabinsk region is a meteorite:

“According to preliminary estimates, this space object is of non-technogenic origin and qualifies as a meteorite. It was moving at a low trajectory with a speed of about 30 km/s.”

According to estimates by the Russian Academy of Sciences, the space object weighed about 10 tons before entering Earth’s atmosphere.

According to preliminary reports, the worst damage on the ground in Chelyabinsk was at a zinc factory, the walls and roof of which were partially destroyed by an impact wave. The city's Internet and mobile service were reportedly interrupted because of the damage inflicted near the factory.


Neither Pretexts Nor Preconditions For Solving Crisis In Syria: Lavrov




MOSCOW,(ST)-Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has stated that there is no room for pretexts,allegations and preconditions as regards solving the crisis in Syria.

Lavrov made a statement today in which he underscored"if our priority is to save the peoples' lives …we should say now …the fighting operations must be ceased without preconditions,".

"any measure might taken by the Security Council against Syria will be promptly put into force for foreign intervention in the crisis,"Lavrov asserted.

In this context,Lavrov pointed out that the Syrian opposition is not coordinated and is working against the Syrian government in parallel with a number of terrorist groups,recalling that the US has designated one of these groups on black list that arose the "Doha coalition" protest.