TIME Opinion

Instagram Is Right to Censor Chelsea Handler

2014 Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize For American Humor Honoring Jay Leno
Chelsea Handler at the 2014 Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize For Americacn Humor at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on October 19, 2014 in Washington, DC. Kris Connor--Getty Images) Kris Connor—Getty Images

Allowing nudity on Instagram would hurt more women than it would help

It’s Halloween, which means it’s the perfect time to stir up a smoking hot gender-politics brouhaha in the Internet cauldron. This time, it’s over comedian Chelsea Handler’s nipples, and whether she should be able to post pictures of them on Instagram.

The drama started Thursday night, when Handler posted a topless photo of herself riding a horse on Instagram, to mock Vladimir Putin’s topless horseback selfie from 2009. Her photo was accompanied with the caption, “Anything a man can do, a woman has the right to do better. #kremlin.” But Instagram took the photo down, citing its Community Guidelines, which prohibit sharing of “nudity or mature content.” Handler posted the notice that her post had been removed, with the caption “If a man posts a photo of his nipples, it’s ok, but not a woman? Are we in 1825?” She then took to Twitter, calling the removal “sexist.”

Breastfeeding moms have voiced similar outrage at social networks like Facebook and Instagram, complaining that their nursing photos have been taken down for being too revealing. And pro-nudity movements like the Free the Nipple campaign have argued that nudity laws policies like this amount to “female oppression.”

Yes, in an ideal world, women’s nipples would seem just as unsexy and random as men’s. But we don’t live in that world, and Instagram is right to censor Handler and other women who post topless pictures. Not because there’s anything wrong with female nudity, but because that kind of monitoring helps keep revenge porn and child porn off of the network. It’s not that kids on Instagram need to be protected from seeing naked photos of Chelsea Handler–it’s they need to be protected from themselves.

See, kids love taking nude selfies, and they have notoriously bad judgement when it comes to putting stuff on the Internet. A study in June by Drexel University found that 28% of undergrads said they had sent photographic sexts while underage. Another study, published in Pediatrics in September, also found that 28% of surveyed teens admitted to sending naked photos, and 57% said they’d been asked for a sext. At the same time, Instagram is quickly eclipsing Facebook as the social network of choice for young teens. According to a survey by investment banking company Piper Jaffray, 76% of teens say they use Instagram, while only 59% use Twitter and 45% use Facebook. So if Instagram didn’t have its nudity policy, it stands to reason that teens might just start posting their naked selfies there.

The nudity policy also keeps Instagram from being a revenge porn destination. A 2013 study by McAfee security company found that 13% of adults have had their personal content leaked without their permission, and 1 in 10 say they’ve had exes threaten to post personal photos. Of those who threatened to leak photos, 60% followed through. Without their policy, Instagram would be a destination for revenge porn as well.

To be fair, Instagram doesn’t have a share mechanism, so it would be harder for porn to go viral. But on the other hand, Instagram profiles can also contain personal details about users’ immediate surroundings, which could make teens or potential revenge porn victims even more vulnerable.

This is also a question of practicality. Ideally, Instagram would be able to distinguish between a naked 13-year old and a breastfeeding mom. In reality, it would be unrealistic to expect Instagram to comb through their content, keeping track of when every user turns 18, whether the user is posting photos of themselves or of someone else, and whether every naked photo was posted with consent. And even if they could do that, would you really want Instagram calling you up to verify you knew about that whipped-cream photo your ex posted? It would be creepy.

This kind of policy is what makes Instagram different than Tumblr, which has fewer restrictions and much more porn. Granted, Tumblr has recently made that content harder to find on its site, but it’s still a destination for revenge porn. And as Maureen O’Connor wrote for New York Magazine, the process of getting revenge porn taken down can be humiliating: victims have to send Tumblr a picture of themselves holding a piece of paper with their full name, to verify they’re the person in the pictures.

So which is more important: the rights of a few bold comedians or breastfeeding moms to feel validated by their Facebook followers, or the privacy of people who might have their private photos posted without consent. I would side with the latter any day of the week.

 

TIME russia

Chechen Dissident: ‘I Survived Abduction by Vladimir Putin’s Agents’

The story of one man who says he was tortured for challenging Russia's president

On a warm morning in early August, a 68-year-old Chechen man named Said-Emin Ibragimov packed up his fishing gear and walked to his favorite spot on the west bank of the river that runs through Strasbourg, the city of his exile in eastern France. Ibragimov, who was a minister in the breakaway Chechen government in the 1990s, needed to calm his nerves, and his favorite way to relax was to watch the Ill River, a tributary of the Rhine, flow by as he waited for a fish to bite.

Ibragimov had reason to be nervous. The previous month he had accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of war crimes in a criminal complaint he had sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and to the Kremlin. Ibragimov had taken five years to compile evidence of what he considered crimes committed during Russia’s two wars against separatists in the Russian republic of Chechnya. During the second Chechen war, which Putin oversaw in 1999-2000, Russia bombarded the Chechen capital of Grozny and killed thousands of civilians. The U.N. later called Grozny “the most destroyed city on earth.”

Read the full story here.

TIME Australia

These Are Some of the Most Australian Political Sound Bites Ever

Prime Minister Holds Joint Press Conference In Sydney
Prime Minister Tony Abbott speaks to the media at Sydney Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices on September 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. Mark Metcalfe—Getty Images

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has threatened to knock Vladimir Putin to the ground. Hey, that's just another day in Aussie political discourse

“Look, I’m going to shirt-front Mr. Putin … You bet I am. I am going to be saying to Mr. Putin, ‘Australians were murdered. They were murdered by Russian-backed rebels using Russian-supplied equipment. We are very unhappy about this.’”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott isn’t exactly known for his oratory. But Russian President Vladimir Putin – and most Australians – were left scratching their heads over what exactly Abbott, who enjoyed a brief but successful stint as a heavyweight boxer, plans to do to the Russian leader’s shirt when he visits Australia for the G-20 meeting in Brisbane next month.

According to slangdictionary.org, shirt-fronting is a term from the Australian rules football code, and it happens when a player executes a “head-on charge aimed at bumping an opponent to the ground.” AFlrules.com.au adds that a shirt-front is “quite aggressive” and “illegal.”

Abbott’s comments were made in the context of increasingly loud calls to ban Putin from visiting Australia because of Russia’s apparent indifference to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July. Of the 298 passenger and crew who lost their lives in the disaster, 36 were Australian residents — making them the third largest group of nationals killed after the Dutch and Malaysians.

As a ninth-degree black-belt in taekwondo who could probably hold his own against Abbott, Putin did not dignify the Australian Prime Minister with a response.

While Abbott has since toned down his rhetoric, saying he simply plans to have a “robust conversation” with Putin, he is by no means the first Australian politician to put his foot in his mouth on the international stage. Products of a culture in which frankness is placed on a pedestal, spin-doctoring is despised and politics is sport, their propensity for speaking their mind is a large part of what endears them to the Australian public.

Here are some other famous gaffes uttered by Australian politicians over the years.

1. “The Chinese bastards”

“They’re communists, they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country. I don’t mind standing up against the Chinese bastards and stopping them from doing it.” —Mining magnate and MP Clive Palmer during a live debate aired by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in September.

2. “Swamped by Asians”

“I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. Between 1984 and 1995, 40% of all migrants coming into this country were of Asian origin. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate. Of course, I will be called racist, but if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country.” —Former MP Pauline Hanson delivering her maiden speech to parliament in 1996.

3. “Islam as a country”

“I don’t oppose Islam as a country, but I do feel that their laws should not be welcome here in Australia.” —Stephanie Banister, a candidate for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, during a interview with Channel 7 in the lead up to Australia’s 2013 federal election.

4. “Put him down”

“The Leader of the Opposition is more to be pitied than despised, the poor old thing. The Liberal Party of Australia ought to put him down like a faithful old dog because he is of no use to it and of no use to the nation.” —Treasurer Paul Keating to Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock, 1984

5. “Walk to Bourke”

“I would walk to [the New South Wales town of] Bourke backwards if the gay population of North Queensland is any more than 0.001%.” —MP Bob Katter in 1989. Katter’s half brother Carl later came out as gay.

6. “A bum”

“Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum.” —Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, following Australia’s victory in the 1983 America’s Cup.

TIME fun

Feel Good Friday: 14 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From presidential selfies to human towers, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME Ukraine

NATO Too Wary of Russian Threats to Let Ukraine Join

Petro Poroshenko
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks during a media conference during a NATO summit at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales on Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014. Virginia Mayo—AP

Despite Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine, the U.S.-led alliance is keeping Kiev at a distance

With its aggression against Ukraine, Russia achieved in just a few months what Vadim Grechaninov has been trying to do for a decade. His mission as President of the Atlantic Council of Ukraine, a lobbying organization based in Kiev, has been to convince his country’s leaders, citizens and military officers that joining NATO is Ukraine’s only path to security. He never had much success. According to a Pew Research poll taken in 2009, a majority of Ukrainians—51%—opposed NATO membership, while only 28% supported it.

That dynamic is now being reversed. The most recent nationwide survey taken in July suggested that, for the first time in their post-Soviet history, a plurality of Ukrainians—44%—would favor joining the alliance that Russia sees as a strategic threat. When the Rating Group, a Ukrainian pollster, conducted the same survey in 2012, they found only 19% of respondents in favor of NATO accession. Ukraine’s new government has likewise embraced the idea, proposing a law last week that would clear the way for NATO membership. But Grechaninov, a retired major general of the Soviet army, is no more optimistic about his country joining the alliance today than he was five years ago, especially after watching the news that came out of the NATO leaders’ summit on Thursday. “They are still bending to Moscow’s demands,” he says of the alliance.

Those demands have been very explicit. The day President Vladimir Putin annexed the Crimean peninsula in March, he warned NATO not to “make itself at home in our backyard or in our historical territory.” As if that wasn’t clear enough, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov drove home the point on Thursday as the NATO summit commenced in Wales. Any attempt to draw Ukraine into the alliance, Lavrov said, would scuttle the fragile peace talks between the Ukrainian government and the separatist rebels whom Moscow has armed and supported since April. “The U.S. wants NATO to win,” Lavrov said in Moscow. “[It wants] a situation where America dictates its will to the whole world.” These ambitions, he added, “will lead to no good.”

A far more alarming message came on the eve of the summit from the Russian military. Yuri Yakubov, an influential general of the Russian army, told the Interfax news agency on Wednesday that Russia would be amending its official military doctrine this year in light of “the approach of U.S. and NATO bases right up to our borders.” He said the revisions would identify the alliance as a “likely opponent” in a future conflict, and it would make some dramatic amendments to Russia’s nuclear strategy. “It is necessary to set out the conditions in which Russia could launch a preventative strike with Russia’s strategic nuclear forces,” he said. In its current form, the doctrine only envisions using nuclear weapons in response to a strike against Russia. It does not mention the possibility of a “preventative” nuclear attack.

This kind of rhetoric was, perhaps thankfully, nowhere to be found during the first day of the NATO summit. Putin’s recent reminder that Russia is “one of the strongest nuclear powers” did not come up in any of the public comments, and neither did the warning from General Yakubov about a preventative strike. The most concrete step NATO announced in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine was the creation of a “very high readiness” force of several thousand troops that could be deployed near Russia’s borders in the course of about two days. (It took Russian forces no more than a day in late February to sweep into the capital of Crimea and help install a loyal government to prepare the annexation.)

The new rapid reaction force was meant to calm NATO members in Eastern Europe—namely Poland and the Baltic states—though it did not measure up to their demands. What the eastern allies wanted were permanent military bases to be built closer to Russia’s territory. But their allies in Western Europe, particularly Germany, shot down those requests, as they would break a pact that NATO made with Russia in 1997 not to station “permanent combat forces” near Russia’s borders. (It did not seem to matter that, with the conquest of Crimea, Russia broke the pledge it made to the U.S. and U.K. in 1994 never to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty.) Asked at a press conference on Monday whether NATO’s new force would be permanent, its Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, “Actually very few things in life are permanent.” He added: “The bottom line is you will see more visible NATO presence in the East.”

There were, however, some more encouraging signs than that of NATO unity and assertiveness. The day before the summit, France agreed to halt the scheduled delivery next month of an aircraft carrier to Russia, saying that the conditions were “not right.” It took months of pressure from the U.S. and other allies for the French to stop the weapons transfer, though it is not clear whether France will go ahead with the sale of another warship to Russia next year.

In showing support for Ukraine, the allies also tried to make President Petro Poroshenko feel like the summit’s guest of honor. The leaders of NATO’s five most powerful members—the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Italy—met with Poroshenko to discuss his country’s conflict with Russia, and they collectively pledged to create several “trust funds” worth about $16 million—a largely symbolic sum—to help modernize the Ukrainian military. But they stopped short of promising to provide Ukraine with any weapons, and they made no commitments to let Ukraine join the alliance at any point in the future.

Speaking by phone from Kiev, Grechaninov says he is disappointed, but not surprised. If Ukraine were to join NATO, every one of its members would be treaty-bound to defend Ukraine’s in case of a foreign attack, and none of the allies have been willing to risk that kind of confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia. Grechaninov understands these fears, but he warns that the alliance is only delaying the inevitable. “Putin can only be stopped by a force greater than his,” he says. “We waited for this force from NATO, and they have it. They can stop Putin. But right now they don’t consider it,” he says, pausing to find the right word. “They don’t consider it expedient.”

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen calls on Russia to pull back from the Crimea during a speech at the NATO Summit in Wales on Sept.4, 2014.

TIME Ukraine

Obama Says It’s ‘Too Early to Tell’ What the Ukraine Ceasefire Means

ESTONIA-US-OBAMA-DIPLOMACY
US President Barack Obama and the Estonian President (not in picture) review an honor guard during an arrival ceremony prior to meetings at the Kadriorg Palace in Tallinn, Estonia on Sept. 3, 2014. SAUL LOEB—AFP/Getty Images

News of the truce broke shortly after the president's arrival in Estonia

President Barack Obama has adopted a cautious approach to the ceasefire announced Wednesday between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“It’s too early to tell what this cease-fire means,” said Obama, explaining that he had not seen full details but “only wire reports.”

News of the ceasefire broke shortly after Obama’s arrival in Estonia, where he is showing support to a Baltic ally before traveling to a crucial NATO summit in the U.K. at which the Ukrainian situation feature high on the agenda.

Obama promised to address the Ukrainian ceasefire more fully during a speech later in the day. In the meantime, he noted that Russia’s forceful incursion into Ukraine served as a stark reminder of the importance of the NATO alliance.

“Obviously what’s happened in Ukraine is tragic but I do think it gives us an opportunity to look with fresh eyes and understand what it is that’s necessary to make sure that our NATO commitments are met. And that’s one of the reasons I’m here in Estonia today.”

Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said “I just did hear that President Poroshenko and President Putin have agreed on a ceasefire. I just hope it holds.”

Speaking ahead of Obama’s arrival, at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the withdrawal of Russian troops from Estonia, Ilves said that the situation in Ukraine showed “that the principle of collective territorial defense hasn’t gone away,” according to the AP.

His remarks came a day after Mikhail Popov, a Kremlin security adviser, stated in Moscow that NATO remained Russia’s biggest threat.

TIME Ukraine

Putin Boasts of Being Able to Take Kiev in 2 Weeks

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives to speaks to the media after his talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Minsk, Belarus, on Aug. 27, 2014 Alexander Zemlianichenko—AP

The Kremlin doesn’t deny the stakes-raising comment but says it was taken out of context

Reports emerged Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin said he could take control of Ukraine’s capital city in as little as two weeks, a remark that escalated already pitched tensions between Russia and the West in the lead-up to NATO’s summit in Wales.

Putin made the incendiary comment in a phone conversation with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, according to Barroso’s account, published by Italy’s La Repubblica on Monday.

Barroso said he asked Putin if Russian troops had crossed into eastern Ukraine, La Repubblica reports. “That is not the question,” Putin reportedly said. “But if I wanted to, I could take Kiev in two weeks.”

The Kremlin did not deny that Putin made the statement, but insisted it was taken out of context.

“Whether these words were said or not, in my viewpoint, the quote given is taken out of context, and it had an absolutely different meaning,” Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov said, Interfax reports. Ushakov blasted Barroso for making public the content of what the aide said was intended to be a private conversation.

This latest saber rattling comes as NATO officials prepare for a summit at which the alliance is expected to discuss its role in shoring up defenses in Eastern Europe, a perennial irritant for the Kremlin made especially urgent amid ongoing clashes in eastern Ukraine.

[NYT]

TIME Ukraine

NATO Unveils Rapid-Response Force to Counter Russian Troops in Ukraine

Secretary-General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen gives a press on Sept. 1, 2014 in Brussels.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen gives a press on Sept. 1, 2014, in Brussels John Thys—AFP/Getty Images

The alliance plans to tackle “Russia’s aggressive behavior” with a new expeditionary force

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced Monday that the organization was planning to assemble a “spearhead” force that would be able to “travel light but strike hard if needed” in the face of Russia’s increasingly aggressive behavior in eastern Ukraine.

The new outfit would be manned by several thousand rotating allied troops who would be ready to respond by air or sea with the aid of special forces, explained Rasmussen.

“The Readiness Action Plan responds to Russia’s aggressive behavior,” he told reporters in Brussels. “It equips the alliance to respond to all security challenges, wherever they may arise.”

NATO representatives gathering for the Wales summit later this week are preparing a Readiness Action Plan to make the organization more agile.

Analysts said the announcement represents the strongest response yet from the military alliance since Russia began to forcefully intervene in Kiev’s affairs following the fall of the nation’s pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych earlier this year.

“Actually, what has been announced seems to be quite significant in that NATO will start stationing troops quite close to Ukraine—not in the form of permanent bases but actually they will be rotating them in the form of temporary bases,” Clara Portela, assistant professor of political science at Singapore Management University and a sanctions specialist, told TIME.

“This is the first step that Western Europe has taken, in military terms, since the crisis started,” Portela said.

On Tuesday, Mikhail Popov, deputy head of the Russian Security Council, said the transatlantic alliance’s recent maneuvers demonstrate it remains among Moscow’s principal adversaries.

“I have no doubts that the issue of NATO military infrastructure encroaching on our borders, including through the expansion of the alliance, will remain among the biggest military threats to the Russian Federation,” Popov told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Popov’s remarks came as Ukrainian forces continued to engage in heavy firefights with pro-Kremlin insurgents, who NATO claims are being buttressed by Russian hardware and troops.

On Monday, the Ukrainian military reportedly withdrew from the international airport at the rebel stronghold of Luhansk after suffering heavy fire from a Russian tank battalion, according to Reuters.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Ukrainian military is now assuming a much more defensive posture throughout the country’s southeast in order to beat back what Kiev fears is an all-out invasion of the country by the Russian military.

The tactical battlefield shift represents a sizable reversal in combat fortunes; Kiev looked poised to crush the separatist insurgency just weeks ago after forging large-scale inroads into rebel territory throughout the summer.

Ukraine’s Minister of Defense Valeriy Heletey described the conflict this week as the most serious military engagement in Europe since the Second World War, one that could cost tens of thousands of lives.

“A great war has arrived at our doorstep, the likes of which Europe has not seen since World War II,” he said in a Facebook post.

According to the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at least 4,445 people had been wounded and 1,830 people killed in eastern Ukraine as of Aug. 27.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) this week chided both government forces and insurgents for “contributing to rising civilian casualties” in and around Luhansk by unleashing artillery barrages that appear to be indiscriminate.

“Local residents are subjected to terrifying daily shelling, much of it apparently unlawful, and that the number of civilian casualties is steadily rising,” said Ole Solvang, senior emergencies researcher at HRW, in a statement.

TIME Ukraine

U.S. Warns Against Ukraine Travel

People walk past a building damaged by shelling in Snizhne (Snezhnoye), Donetsk region
People walk past a building damaged by shelling in Snizhne, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Aug. 29, 2014. Maxim Shemetov—Reuters

Escalating conflict in the region prompted the new travel advisory for Americans

The U.S. State Department warned Americans Friday to avoid traveling to eastern Ukraine, in response to the ongoing conflict between Ukraine’s armed forces and Russia-backed separatists.

“The situation in Ukraine is unpredictable and could change quickly,” the statement said. “U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine should avoid large crowds and be prepared to remain indoors and shelter in place for extended periods of time should clashes occur in their vicinity.”

The announcement identified the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which have been plagued with violent outbreaks for months, as the key areas to avoid. U.S. citizens have been threatened and detained in the region, according to the release. It also advised Americans to “defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula.”

The U.S. announcement comes as the conflict in Ukraine continues to escalate with each passing day. Up to 1,ooo Russian troops appeared to enter Ukraine on Friday, and the Ukrainian government responded by instituting a mandatory conscription.

TIME Ukraine

Ukraine Brings Back Conscription as Russia Appears to Launch All-Out Invasion

Servicemen sit atop an armoured vehicle as they travel through the steppe near the village of Krasnodarovka in Rostov region
Servicemen sit atop an armored vehicle as they travel near the village of Krasnodarovka in Rostov region, Russia, on Aug. 28, 2014 Reuters

Moscow slammed at emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s national security council has ordered the reinstatement of mandatory conscription in response to what seems to be a full-scale Russian invasion of the country. The draft, affecting able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 25, is the latest indication that the Ukrainian conflict is rapidly intensifying.

Previous attempts at mandatory conscription have led to protests. But during a meeting with the council Thursday, Poroshenko urged his countrymen to “keep a cold mind” as Ukrainians geared up for a broader conflict.

NATO has provided satellite images that appear to show Russian armored vehicles fighting in Ukrainian territory, CNN reports. British intelligence says it has similar evidence, while U.S. officials say there are now up to 1,000 Russian troops in Ukraine.

On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to taunt Kiev by calling on separatist forces to open a humanitarian corridor in southeast Ukraine so that demoralized Ukrainian troops could flee home to their “mothers, wives and children.” He also claimed that “a large number” of Ukrainian troops were not “in the military operation of their own volition” but were simply “following orders.”

Vox reported that in his statement Putin referred to Ukraine’s embattled Donbass region by the politically loaded term Novorossiya, literally “New Russia.” Novorossiya is the old czarist name for the parts of Russia and Ukraine around the Black Sea and is a designation favored by separatists wishing to confer a historical integrity on the areas for which they are fighting.

“A counterfactual equivalent might be if a disturbingly post-Gestapo government in Germany began referring to the Netherlands as Western Germany or to western parts of the Czech Republic as Sudetenland,” John Besemeres, professor and adjunct fellow at the Australian National University’s Center for European Studies, tells TIME.

Responding to the incursions, Western envoys lambasted Russia on Thursday at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council in New York City. The U.S. representative, Samantha Power, said “Russia has come before this council to say everything except the truth. It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied. So we have learned to measure Russia by its actions and not by its words.”

The British envoy Mark Lyall Grant described Moscow’s incursions as a “brazen” violation of the U.N. Charter and international law.

Moscow’s U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin admitted there were Russians fighting in the Ukraine but claimed they were volunteers. He then went on to raise questions about the presence of U.S. military advisers in the country.

“A message must be sent to Washington — stop interfering in the internal activities of sovereign states and restrain your geopolitical ambition,” Churkin said, according to a U.N. statement.

Earlier on Thursday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm about the escalating conflict and urged Moscow and Kiev to follow up on talks held in Minsk earlier this week to forge “a peaceful way out of the conflict.”

Reports have meanwhile surfaced that separatist forces have succeeded in opening a third front after seizing the port city of Novoazovsk on the Sea of Azov in the wake of days of shelling. Analysts continue to speculate whether the move is designed to draw troops away from heavy fighting near the separatist strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, or is part of a strategic maneuver to forge a corridor to the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula farther west.

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