In brief | Nation & World | 8-16-14


Russia denies its military vehicles crossed into Ukraine or were destroyed on Ukrainian soil

KAMENSK-SHAKHTINSKY, Russia — NATO on Friday said a Russian military column ventured overnight into Ukraine, and the Ukrainian president said his forces destroyed most of it. Russia denied all of this, but the reports spooked global markets and overshadowed optimism driven by agreement over a Russian aid convoy bound for eastern Ukraine.

The White House said it was looking into what it called unconfirmed reports that Ukraine’s security forces disabled vehicles in a Russian military convoy inside Ukraine.

The Russian aid convoy of more than 250 trucks has been a source of tensions since it set off from Moscow on Tuesday. Kiev and the West were suspicious that the mission could be a pretext for a Russian military incursion into eastern Ukraine, where government forces are battling pro-Russia separatists and clawing back rebel-held territory.

Throughout the eastern crisis that erupted in April, there have been consistent allegations that Russia is fomenting or directing the rebellion. Moscow rejects the allegations and the high-profile aid convoy could be aimed, in part, at portraying Russia as interested in cooling the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to cultivate that perception in a Thursday speech in which he said Russia hopes for peace in Ukraine.

It was not clear what Russia could hope to gain by sending in a military column while world attention was trained on its efforts to get the aid convoy into eastern Ukraine.

Europe pledges aid, arms to Iraq as Maliki resignation paves way for political renewal

BRUSSELS — The European Union on Friday forged a unified response to the rapid advance of Islamic militants in Iraq and the resulting refugee crisis, allowing direct arms deliveries to Kurdish fighters battling the Sunni insurgents. Several EU nations pledged more humanitarian aid.

The emergency meeting of the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers in Brussels marked a shift toward greater involvement in Iraq, following weeks during which the Europeans mainly considered the situation an American problem because of the 2003 U.S.-led Iraq invasion.

EU ministers pledged to step up efforts to help those fleeing advancing Islamic State militants, with several nations announcing they will fly dozens of tons of aid to northern Iraq over the coming days.

France has pledged to ship weapons to the Kurds and Britain is delivering ammunition and military supplies obtained from eastern European nations and is considering sending more weaponry. Germany, the Netherlands and others said they would also consider requests to arm the Kurds.

Sheriff says Amish girls were kidnapped from farm stand, more than 1 abductor being sought

ALBANY, N.Y. — Residents of a peaceful rural community are reluctant to let their children play outdoors unattended and some took down their farm stands after two young Amish sisters were kidnapped from their family’s roadside stand, officials said Friday.

The sisters were kidnapped from their family farm stand and police are seeking more than one person responsible, St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells said Friday. The two are now safe at home, and Wells said they provided information that is helping investigators.

Authorities weren’t releasing any details about what happened to the girls during their daylong disappearance. They said they don’t want to compromise a potential prosecution. Descriptions of the suspects and their vehicle are also being withheld.

Seven-year-old Delila Miller and 12-year-old Fannie Miller vanished Wednesday evening after a car pulled up to the roadside stand in Oswegatchie, a farming community near the Canadian border. They turned up unharmed Thursday evening at a house in Richville, about 15 miles away.

St. Lawrence County District Attorney Mary Rain also declined to discuss details Friday, but said, “We’re hopeful there will be an arrest sooner rather than later.”

By wire sources