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Image by Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week; Cruise Bar hosts famous fashion event; MBFWA business wheels in motion Cruise Bar Hosts Fashion Week... When it comes to style the Cruise Bar and Restaurant is a perfect host partner for the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Australian Fashion Week. For the first time in many years, Cruise Restaurant is open to the public everyday of fashion week for lunch and dinner. Fashion Week is Sydney’s premier fashion and lifestyle event showcasing some of our most talented and contemporary designers. The beautiful waterfront location of Cruise Bar in Circular Quay is an ideal location to enjoy gourmet food, decadent wines and delicious cocktails while enjoying the cultural surrounds that is Fashion week. For more information visit their official website. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: Business, fashion, beauty, deals and gossip... Sydney will be enjoying a bevy of catwalk shows and party like events as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia commences tomorrow. But unlike the increasing number of fashion festivals across the country where people can buy tickets to events, MBFWA is invitation only. Today was media registration day, which was quite an event in its own right. Over five days, fashion designers show their latest collections to media reps, celebrities and retail buyers, and the response can be paramount to the bottom line. This year happens to mark Mercedes-Benz’s return to Fashion Week as the title sponsor, which many media and fashion commentators have welcomed. “The strong link between Mercedes-Benz and fashion was initiated in Australia with the launch of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 1995, so it’s come full circle,” advised Mercedes-Benz senior manager of corporate communications David McCarthy. The car maker’s Fashion Week events have spread around the world to places such as New York and Berlin, and to Swim Fashion Week in Miami. The Mercedes-Benz’s sponsorship deal was not exactly a secret last year as Rosemount’s (wine) five-year run came to an end. The new deal is understood to be valued at million over three years but McCarthy says the details are confidential. MBFWA comes with a many change. A key change from the festival organisers is that IMG Fashion have reduced the price of on-site venue fees. A trend over the past few years. This year, it set back exhibitors ,250 to use the newly returned Tent at the Overseas Passenger Terminal as a catwalk venue, 00 to be a part of Fashion Week but show off-site and between 00 and 00 to showcase collections at The Rocks Pop-Up suites. Two of the festival’s biggest names, Josh Goot and Dion Lee, pulled out a fortnight before their respective shows. The designers who have fallen by the wayside in the lead-up to the five-day event have either opted to concentrate on upcoming overseas shows (Lee), to focus on getting collections out to coincide with northern hemisphere seasons (Goot) or have chosen to disregard Fashion Week from the get-go, with Fairfax Media pointing to Alex Perry as the example. For Melbourne Business School associate professor of marketing Mark Ritson, having Australian designers drop out is a “tricky” scenario. “On the one hand, you have to respect any Australian designer focused on building their reputation overseas,” he says. “We are perilously under-represented in Paris and Milan. “But at the same time, a designer has to be careful of burning branding bridges back home. That said, if Goot or Lee make it in Europe they’ll be welcomed back home in 2013 with open arms.” Fashion Week is serious business. Alongside Mercedes-Benz, sponsors that have signed on this year include DHL, EYE, HP, Maybelline NY, Redken, Shangri-La Hotel Sydney, Pentax, Keystone Hospitality and Getty Images. The NSW government, Destination NSW and Austrade are also supporting the event. In addition, designers are obtaining their own sponsorships. Jayson Brunsdon’s show, for instance, is being presented by Myer and sponsored by Qantas, Woolmark, TRESemme, MAC Cosmetics and Joh Bailey. Couture designer Johanna Johnson is the virgin Australian designer to showcase her collection at the prestigious Mercedes-Benz Presents show, which has previously featured big fashion names such as Herve Leger by Max Azria, Carolina Herrera and Badgley Mischka. “To do [the Presents show] during our first year back was a priority,” McCarthy says. Johnson recently found international success, with Hollywood actresses Christina Hendricks and Maya Rudolph wearing her feminine creations on the red carpet. The show will have the same feel â€" glamour, lots of hand-beading and detailed finishes. “I hadn’t really considered doing it and was focusing more on overseas expansion this year,” Johnson says. “But we’re having so much feedback from Australians wanting to know more now, it will be really good to showcase our luxury lifestyle line and red carpet ready-to-wear.” She initially signed on to show in the smallest of the three catwalk venues, the Box, but had to move the show to the Tent (the biggest) as the number of outfits she wanted to parade expanded. “It’s our debut show so we want it done as well as it possibly can be,” she says. Australian accessories giant Oroton is launching its first ready-to-wear collection. But for creative director Ana Maria Escobar, the clothes are there to show off the accessories â€" be they handbags, jewellery or shoes. “The biggest thing is when I walked into the stores, I saw they needed something soft to highlight the accessories,” she says. Customers can expect “understated quality” from the new Oroton clothing range. “To me, functionality is important,” Escobar says. “So are the materials . . . it can be a simple singlet but made out of really beautiful silk or customised fabrics. There’s a tone of heritage as well.” While Oroton views Fashion Week as important, Escobar says there is also “life beyond those 15 minutes on the catwalk”. For the retailer, it’s about reminding people of the brand. “We want to talk a little louder about the product we design,” she says. “Fashion Week gives us that space without having to scream.” This year, a great spread of overseas buyers will be in attendance, many from online retailers such as Net-A-Porter, My Wardrobe, Shopbop, Moda Operandi and ASOS. Department store Harvey Nichols and Hong Kong-based Joyce will also have buyers present. The retail picture in Australia is not particularly strong, and IBISWorld analysts are predicting growth for the local rag trade over the coming financial year will be flat at just 0.5 per cent. IBISWorld general manager Karen Dobie says the high Australian dollar is a double-edged sword for retailers, as local vendors can buy overseas at a favourable rate, but increasingly tech-savvy competition is straining profit margins. New to MBFWA: Dylan Cooper; Flowers for a Vagabond; Toi et Moi Sydney; By Johnny; Oroton; Watson x Watson; An Ode to No One; Jenny Kee; Aje; Roppa Pemmaraju; Bless’d Are The Meek and Nana Judy Not present this year: Dion Lee; Josh Goot; Alex Perry; Arnsdorf; Morrison; Friend of Mine; Flannel; Karla Spetic; Lover; Therese Rawsthorne; Ms Couture; Rachel Gilbert; Little Joe Woman (voluntary administration); Nookie; Amber & Thomas; Marnie Skillings; Kate Sylvester; Shakuhachi; Bianca Spender; Dhini; Camilla & Marc; White Suede; Yeojin Bae; Lisa Blue; Limedrop; Stolen Girlfriends Club; Alistair Trung; Saint Augustine Academy (which shut up shop late last year) Returning to the show: Romance Was Born; Camilla; Aurelio Costarella; Ksubi; Jayson Brunsdon; Akira Camilla... Since launching her label eight years ago, Camilla Franks continues to receive global recognition as an Australian designer who has a unique approach to creating colorful, playful and luxurious lifestyle fashion. Her unique ready-to-wear and resort wear designs are becoming highly sought after products, capturing the attentions of celebrities and fashionistas alike. Camilla’s global fan club (which includes the likes of Beyonce Knowles, Miranda Kerr, Kate Hudson, Lily Allen and Gwen Stefani) reached new heights 2 years ago when the queen of television, Oprah Winfrey, glowed in one of her designs while taping her ‘down under’ series. The general public and the fashion world gushed and stock sold out overnight. Camilla is definitely a brand on the move. So, how did Camilla Franks become one of Australia’s most iconic fashion designers? This iconic brand came to be whilst Camilla was exploring her passions for theatrical artistry. Here, she embraced her inner creative spirit to craft beautiful elaborate costumes for the various characters in her productions. It wasn’t long before the Australian fashion market caught eye of these imaginative, easy-to-wear designs and catapulted Camilla on this amazing journey. Today, Camilla has evolved from beach and resort fashion into ready-to-wear clothes that cater to all her client’s needs. Globally, Camilla has begun weaving into the various fashion niches, resulting in a kaleidoscope of high-end editorial and extending an already growing customer database. Over eight years, Camilla has produced nine collections: these include the highly anticipated 2011/12’s Spring Summer Collection, Labyrinth; which has received significant media attention and 2012’s Autumn Winter Collection Caravanserai, Camilla’s second winter season. The success of her brand is derived from Camilla’s philosophy that “all women have the right to look and feel beautiful no matter their age, colour, size or origin”, this is also a testament to the company’s popularity and growing awareness. Camilla is a brand that celebrates women, self-expression, beauty and individuality. The signature ‘Camilla’ piece is a statement of brilliant colour, graphics and material rhythm. It is a celebration of shapes that can be tailored to individual styles and that follow global trends. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia Announces Preliminary Line-up... Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia Announces Preliminary Line-upfor Spring/Summer 2012/13 Collections Sydney, Australia (February 29, 2012) Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is excited to announce cult label Ksubi, celebrity favourite Camilla, Zimmermann, Lisa Ho, Toni Maticevski, Aurelio Costarella, Jayson Brunsdon, Ellery, and Carl Kapp will be amongst the line-up of designers showcasing their Spring/Summer 2012/13 Collections at Sydney’s Overseas Passenger Terminal, April 30 to May 4, 2012. "MBFWA is a fantastic opportunity for emerging Australian designers to join already well established designers in showcasing their creations not just in venues that people expect but in venues and spaces that will reflect the diversity and vibrancy of the Australian fashion scene. The shows, presentations and locations demonstrate that MBFWA has a flavour and style that can more than hold its own around the world" says Gavin Allen, General Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific. A stand out on the 2012 schedule is expected to be Romance was Born. The label is showcasing their polished ready to wear collection combining art and wearable fashion in a sophisticated Spring Summer range. Johanna Johnson will also attract hype as she hosts an intimate salon show for her debut at MBFWA. Mixing old Hollywood charm and modern simplicity, Johnson is renowned for her recent Oscar’s role dressing starlets in her eponymous label. Iconic Australian brand, Oroton will also debut on the runway at MBFWA for the first time demonstrating the brand is as skilled at creating Ready to Wear women’s wear as well as their well known luxury accessories. Joining this incredible line up of iconic designers are Magdalena Velevska, Alice McCall, Lisa Maree, Gary Bigeni, Bec and Bridge, Miss Unkon, Bowie, Kooey Australia, Michael Lo Sordo, Kirrily Johnston and Talulah. New talent showcasing for the first time, Watson x Watson are sure to excite international buyers and media with their collections, providing new ‘ones to watch’ for our global audience. Watson x Watson focus on everyday luxury and easy glamour, with a relaxed, sexy appeal that has become synonymous with Australian fashion. Other newcomers joining the MBFWA family: We are Handsome, Aje, Elliot Ward Fear, Roopa Pemmaraju, Flowers for a Vagabond, Suboo, An Ode to No One and Project Runway Australia winner Dylan Cooper and alumni by Johnny. Designers involved in the 2012 New Generation, Fashion Design Studio and Raffles emerging talent shows will be announced shortly. “We’re extremely excited by the response from designers and brands and are looking forward to showcasing the new seasons Spring Summer Collections in our world class facilities on site as well as sharing more of the city of Sydney’s wonderfully unique locations with our expanded off site program of shows and presentations’” says Jarrad Clark, Global Production Director, IMG Fashion. Leveraging our global network, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is introducing new showroom spaces, exciting venue upgrades and unique presentation spaces to ensure our line up of designers have innovative way to communicate their artistic vision for 2012. For the first time on Australian soil, many designers will showcase their collections via a studio style presentation space known as The Box. Having established itself at MBFW in NY and Berlin, designers are redefining how they showcase their collections using this blank canvas. Australian designer Dion Lee recently used a presentation style space to showcase his collection at London Fashion Week and wowed crowds with his use of lighting to create drama and engagement around his collection without the confines of the runway. 2012 will also see the much anticipated return of The Tent. Synonymous with international fashion events, the sheer scale of The Tent showroom set on the Sydney harbour foreshore will create an incredible billboard for MBFWA and the Australian Fashion Industry for our attending local and international guests. Key buyers will have the opportunity to get up close with designer collections during the week via a unique offering of Designer Showrooms via The Rocks Pop-Up Suites, utilising retail spaces within The Rocks historical precinct, designers will be able to house their collections off runway, and meet buyers and media in one on one appointments. It is here that designers are encouraged to create consumer offerings around the Fashion Week schedule to create more retail opportunities for our participating designer brands. MBFWA hosts the world’s most influential buyers, media and industry players during the 5 day event and bring Sydney city to life with Fashion Week fever. With the support of our official partners, and showcasing designers, the 2012 season will be a standout year showcasing the creative energy and raw talent that Australia has to offer. Title sponsor Mercedes-Benz is proudly supported by Government partners Destination NSW and Austrade, Maybelline New York, DHL, HP/Intel, Redken 5th Avenue NYC and EYE and as well as media outlet Getty Images. Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia is an IMG event. The Spring Summer 2012/13 Collections will take place April 30 to May 4, 2012, Press and Industry Registration opens March 1, 2012. For more information please visit us online at mbfashionweek.com Follow us on Twitter @MBFWA and on the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Facebook Websites Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (Australia) australia.mbfashionweek.com IMG Worldwide www.imgworld.com Cruise Bar www.cruisebar.com.au Eva Rinaldi Photography Flickr www.flickr.com/evarinaldiphotography Eva Rinaldi Photography www.evarinaldi.com

Russia V Ukraine over 5,000 people killed celebrities without clothes
Image by Firstbrook Just Click 100 Text From BBC News 5,358 people killed and 12,235 wounded Fatalities include 298 people on board flight MH17 shot down on 17 July 224 civilians killed in three-week period leading up to 1 February 5.2 million people estimated to be living in conflict areas 921,640 internally displaced people within Ukraine, including 136,216 children 600,000 fled to neighbouring countries of whom more than 400,000 have gone to Russia 12 Feb The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France announced that a ceasefire would begin on 15 February. The deal also involves the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, but some issues remain to be settled. The pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have signed the agreement. Thousands of people have died in almost a year of fighting in the region. Not BBC Even though a cease fire has been agreed both sides continue to kill one another , mainly civilians are paying the cost , but if you are a politician away from the fighting nice and warm and well fed and watered what does a few more hundred deaths matter, i suppose they are working out the cost to kill each human and trying to make it more cost effective . Feb 14 Fierce fighting is continuing in eastern Ukraine, hours before a ceasefire is due to come into force at midnight (22:00 GMT). A police chief said the strategic town of Debaltseve was suffering a ferocious bombardment by pro-Russian rebels. Renewed fighting is also reported near the southern port city of Mariupol. Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Ukraine tweeted recent satellite images that he said showed Russian artillery near Debaltseve. Geoffrey Pyatt also said on Twitter that Russian units along the border were preparing a large shipment of supplies to separatist fighters. He said that the rebels were now better armed than some Nato countries. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending troops and weapons to help the separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions - a claim the Kremlin vehemently denies. Petro Poroshenko warned the deal to end the war in the east was in "great danger" "The militants are destroying Debaltseve," Donetsk region police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin was quoted as saying on the censort.net website. "The shelling of residential areas and civilian buildings continue. The city is on fire. There has been a direct hit from Grads (rockets) on the city police station." In Mariupol, reports said pro-Russian rebels were using artillery and tanks to attack nearby villages. The port city lies between rebel-held eastern areas and the southern Crimea peninsula, which Russia annexed last March. Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Petro Mekhed said the rebels wanted to "raise their flag" over Debaltseve and Mariupol before the ceasefire kicked in. Ukraine's military said on Saturday morning that seven service personnel had been killed and 23 wounded over the past 24 hours. The latest Minsk agreement: Ceasefire to begin at 00:01 local time on 15 February (22:01 GMT 14 February) Heavy weapons to be withdrawn, beginning on 16 February and completed in two weeks - beyond a buffer zone behind the current front line for Ukrainian forces and behind the September front line for separatist forces All prisoners to be released; amnesty for those involved in fighting Withdrawal of all foreign troops and weapons from Ukrainian territory. Disarmament of all illegal groups Ukraine to allow resumption of normal life in rebel areas, by lifting restrictions Constitutional reform to enable decentralisation for rebel regions by the end of 2015 Ukraine to control border with Russia if conditions met by the end of 2015 Feb 14 22.00 GMT Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko orders his country's forces to begin ceasefire in line with Minsk agreement describing it as "the last chance" for peace. Feb 15 Fighting in east Ukraine has subsided but not stopped since a ceasefire came into effect, the warring parties say. Spokesmen for both the government and the pro-Russian rebels said some shelling had continued, mainly around the besieged town of Debaltseve. But both sides say the truce that came into effect at midnight (22:00 GMT Saturday) is largely holding. Fierce battles raged near Debaltseve - a key transport hub - in the hours leading up to the truce. Analysts point out that previous truces initially appeared to be holding but eventually failed, and say the next 48 hours are critical. Two rebels commanders, meanwhile, have been quoted as saying they are entitled to open fire in Debeltseve, with one reportedly saying it was "their territory" and the ceasefire only applied to the frontline. The US, which has warned it could begin supplying arms to Ukraine if the peace initiative failed, claimed on Saturday it had evidence that the Russian military had deployed weaponry around Debeltseve - contrary to Moscow denials that it is playing any direct role in the conflict. The rebels say they have completely cut off supply routes to Debaltseve, encircling the town. Ukraine denies the claim. European leaders have warned Russia that it could face additional sanctions if the 13-point ceasefire agreement is not respected. Feb 16 Observers are to try again to reach the besieged Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, where fighting has continued despite a ceasefire. The OSCE were denied access to Debaltseve by pro-Russian rebels on Sunday, the European security group said. Separatists have said they have the town encircled so it should be considered theirs. In other areas of Ukraine the ceasefire has broadly been observed. But the exception has been Debaltseve, a key transport hub, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks. Although the fighting was reported to have lowered in intensity, shelling continued through Sunday. "Of course we can open fire (on Debaltseve). It is our territory," Eduard Basurin, a rebel commander, told Reuters. "The territory is internal, ours. And internal is internal. But along the line of confrontation there is no shooting." Meanwhile, a military spokesman said Ukrainian troops had come under fire 60 times in the hours after the truce came into force, AFP reports. But both sides have said that in most of the country, the ceasefire held on Sunday. Crucial period Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that as of Sunday evening, "the ceasefire had been holding in the first 18 hours, with some exceptions, notably in Debaltseve, Raihorodka and Luhansk city". The monitoring mission said that on Monday it would "further seek full access, including to Debaltseve, and areas where violations have been reported". Rebel-held Donetsk was reported to quiet Despite the ceasefire, the EU is expected to proceed with adding 19 new names of Russians and Ukrainians subject to travel bans and asset freezes for their roles in the conflict. European leaders have warned Russia that it could face additional sanctions if the 13-point Minsk ceasefire agreement is not respected. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending troops and weapons to help the separatists in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions - a claim the Kremlin vehemently denies. On Sunday leaders of the four countries that negotiated the truce last week - France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia - held further talks, agreeing to move towards implementing the next stage of the latest Minsk deal. Fighting is continuing in eastern Ukraine more than a day after a ceasefire was supposed to take effect. The Ukrainian military command said the pro-Russian rebels had attacked 112 times since early Sunday, mostly in the bitterly contested Debaltseve area. A Ukrainian officer said there was also fighting near Mariupol, a port city. The rebels accused Ukrainian forces of shelling Donetsk airport. Meanwhile, further EU sanctions against Russia have gone into effect. The new sanctions list targets 19 officials - most of them in the pro-Russian separatist strongholds of Donetsk and Luhansk, but also two Russian deputy defence ministers and a Russian celebrity singer and MP, Iosif Kobzon. Armed separatist groups are also targeted, including a Cossack formation. Those listed are now subject to visa bans and asset freezes across the EU. Russia is accused of fomenting the revolt in eastern Ukraine and giving the separatists reinforcements and heavy weapons. Russia denies doing so, but admits that Russian "volunteers" are fighting there. The Russian foreign ministry said the latest sanctions showed that "again the EU preferred to walk on a leash behind the 'party of war' in Kiev". "Such decisions look especially ridiculous against the background of the Minsk [ceasefire] accords." Feb 17 Ukraine's government and separatist rebels have failed to begin withdrawing heavy weapons from the front line, despite a Monday deadline. The two sides were given until two days after the latest truce came into effect to start the pullout. The government said it would not pull back until fighting ended in the beleaguered town of Debaltseve. The leaders of Germany, Ukraine and Russia discussed the crisis in an overnight phone call. Germany said on Tuesday they had agreed "concrete measures" for observers to have greater access, but gave no details. Observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), who are charged with monitoring the ceasefire, have been trying to reach Debaltseve after being denied access by the rebels on Sunday. "The German chancellor and Ukrainian president called on the Russian president to exercise his influence on the separatists to enforce the ceasefire," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said. Fierce fighting is reported inside the key Ukrainian town of Debaltseve despite a ceasefire deal agreed last week. Rebels say they have taken most of Debaltseve, a transport hub, but the government says it is still in control. International observers tasked with monitoring the ceasefire have been unable to enter the town. Earlier, both sides failed to begin withdrawing heavy weapons, despite a Monday deadline agreed in the truce. The two sides were given until two days after the latest ceasefire came into effect to start the pullout. A spokesman for the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic told Russian news agency Interfax that the police station in Debaltseve had been taken as well as the railway station. He said most of the city was under the control of the separatists and that a mopping-up operation was continuing. The rebels also said that dozens of Ukrainian troops in Debaltseve had surrendered and others had been killed. A Ukrainian military spokesman quoted by Reuters news agency confirmed that rebels were attacking the railway station but said the town was still in government hands. Rebels have offered Ukrainian troops under siege there a safe corridor to leave. Speaking by phone from inside the town, deputy regional police chief Ilya Kiva said rebels were using small arms, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. "There are wounded and killed but we cannot confirm the numbers yet," he said. Although Debaltseve has suffered weeks of artillery exchanges, correspondents say this is the first fierce fighting inside the town. 'Internal territory' Most of Debaltseve's 25,000 population have been evacuated but about 7,000 civilians are still believed trapped by the fighting, according to Amnesty International. The ceasefire, which came into effect on Sunday, has been broadly observed but separatists insist the agreement does not apply in Debaltseve because they have the town almost surrounded. Denis Pushilin, a spokesman for the Donetsk People's Republic, described Debaltseve as "internal territory" and said fighting for it was "a moral thing". "We do not have the right [to stop fighting]," he told Reuters. Another rebel leader in the Donetsk region, Andrei Purgin, said separatists planned to discuss the possible withdrawal of weapons later on Tuesday with representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported. In the neighbouring Luhansk region, separatist leader Igor Plotnitsky said he had begun pulling back his tanks and artillery in line with the ceasefire agreement. His claim could not be independently verified. Ukraine's military said on Tuesday that five soldiers had been killed and 14 wounded in the past 24 hours. A spokesman told AFP news agency that most of the deaths happened near Debaltseve. Ukraine's president described rebel attempts to take the town as a "cynical attack" on the ceasefire. "Today the world must stop the aggressor," Petro Poroshenko said in a statement posted on his website. "I call on the permanent members of the UN Security Council to prevent further violation of fundamental principles and rules of the UN and the unleashing of a full-scale war in the very centre of Europe." Speaking on a visit to Hungary, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he hoped the ceasefire agreements would be observed by both sides. Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the Ukrainian government to allow its troops to surrender to rebels in the strategic town of Debaltseve. Mr Putin also said he hoped the rebels would let any captured troops return to their families. Fierce fighting raged throughout Tuesday in the town despite a ceasefire deal signed last week, with rebels saying they now controlled most areas. The UN Security Council called for an immediate end to hostilities. On Tuesday evening a resolution drafted by Russia calling on all sides to respect the deal, signed in the Belarusian capital Minsk last week, was adopted unanimously by the council. International observers monitoring the truce have been unable to enter Debaltseve. The town has become a key prize for rebels and government forces, as it sits on a strategic railway line linking rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk. Feb 18 The US has accused Russia of violating the Minsk agreement on Ukraine, as the UN Security Council voted unanimously to approve the ceasefire deal. Vice-President Joe Biden said "the costs to Russia will rise" if it continued to violate the accord. Fighting is continuing around the strategic town of Debaltseve, with pro-Russian rebels saying they now control most areas. Media reports say Ukrainian troops are withdrawing from the town. It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Ukraine's troops there to surrender. 'Stop pretending' Although the Security Council unanimously approved a Russian-drafted resolution to endorse the Minsk ceasefire deal agreed in Belarus last week, angry words were exchanged among ambassadors. US Ambassador Samantha Power welcomed the agreement but said that Russia had to prove its commitment to peace. She said: "Stop arming the separatists. Stop sending hundreds of heavy weapons across the border in addition to your troops. Stop pretending you are not doing what you are doing." She added: "Russia signs agreements then does everything within its power to undermine them. Russia champions the sovereignty of nations and then acts as if a neighbour's borders do not exist." Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called her comments "offensive". "Since the very start of the crisis, Russia has actively called for a peaceful settlement through inclusive, transparent dialogue between all sides in the internal Ukrainian conflict," he said. After speaking to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Mr Biden said he "strongly condemned the violation of the ceasefire by separatist forces acting in concert with Russian forces, in and around the town of Debaltseve". He added: "If Russia continues to violate the Minsk agreements... the costs to Russia will rise." The Ukrainian president says his forces are making an "organised" withdrawal from the embattled town of Debaltseve. Mr Poroshenko said 80% of Ukraine's troops had left on Wednesday morning, with more to follow. Fighting has raged over the transport hub, with pro-Russian rebels seizing control of most areas, despite a ceasefire deal. Russia's foreign minister said Ukrainian forces had been encircled and were forced to battle their way out. "I'm reckoning that common sense will prevail," said Sergei Lavrov as he urged the rebels to provide troops who surrendered with food and clothes. Earlier US Vice-President Joe Biden accused Russia of violating the accord, agreed in Minsk last week. Mr Lavrov told reporters that the rebel attack in Debaltseve did not violate the ceasefire agreement, because Debaltseve was part of the rebel-held area at the time the peace deal was signed. Eyewitnesses saw dozens of tanks and columns of weary Ukrainian troops retreating from Debaltseve on Wednesday. This morning the Ukrainian armed forces together with the National Guard completed an operation for a planned and organised withdrawal from Debaltseve," the Ukrainian president said in a statement before travelling to the frontline in eastern Ukraine. "As of now we can say that 80 percent of our units have left," he said. "We are expecting another two columns (to leave)." The withdrawal comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Ukraine's troops in Debaltseve to surrender. International observers monitoring the truce have been unable to enter the town. It has become a key prize for rebels and government forces, as it sits on a strategic railway line linking rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk. Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted the rebels' actions in Debaltseve had not violated the ceasefire because it was a rebel-held city when the peace agreement was signed last week. Russia's state-controlled Channel One TV showed footage of what it said were rebels raising their flag on top of a high-rise building in the city. Feb19 Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin has denounced Ukraine's call for the deployment of UN peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine as a destructive move. The Ukrainian president's call "raises suspicions that he wants to destroy the Minsk accords", Mr Churkin said. The Minsk ceasefire deal was reached a week ago but fighting round the strategic town of Debaltseve saw the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops there. Shelling significantly increased in the rebel-held city of Donetsk on Thursday. And Ukrainian officials reported mortar attacks by separatists on the coastal town of Shirokyne, near Mariupol. 'Violation' Mr Churkin accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of seeking a new scheme instead of doing what he had signed up to. "If one proposes new schemes right away, the question arises whether [the accords] will be respected", he said. The leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic described the call for peacekeepers as a violation of the Minsk accords. The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France, the four parties to the Minsk accords, held further talks over the phone on Thursday. The French presidency said the ceasefire breaches were denounced and the leaders called for "the implementation of the full package of measures agreed in Minsk" including a full ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons and the release of prisoners. Mr Poroshenko called for UN-mandated peacekeepers to enforce the ceasefire after fighting continued following the rebel advance on Debaltseve. A police mission by the European Union would be the best format for a peacekeeping operation, Mr Poroshenko said on his website. It would help guarantee security "in a situation where the promise of peace is not being kept", he told an emergency meeting of Ukraine's national security and defence council. Analysis: Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent Could a peacekeeping force help to secure the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine? Well for a start there would need to be a functioning ceasefire; nobody is going to send troops into an active war zone. Just getting agreement at the UN for such a force might be an insurmountable diplomatic hurdle. Russia - with a key veto power on the Security Council - is not just an interested bystander. Despite its denials, it is seen by Ukraine and the West as an active participant in the conflict. An effective peacekeeping force paradoxically might be in nobody's interests. Peacekeepers tend to fix battle lines in place. In Ukraine both sides probably have further ambitions on the ground. The Russian-backed separatists may well want to advance further and the Ukrainian government's forces certainly aspire to take back territory that they have lost. Many experts fear there is a lot more fighting to be done whether this ceasefire is implemented or not. RAF jets were scrambled on Wednesday after two Russian military aircraft were seen off the Cornwall coast, the Ministry of Defence has said. The Russian Bear bombers did not enter sovereign airspace, it said. On the same day, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon warned that Russia's President Putin posed a "real and present danger" to three Baltic states. Prime Minister David Cameron said the Russian action should not be dignified with "too much of a response". He added: "I think what this episode demonstrates is that we do have the fast jets, the pilots, the systems in place to protect the UK. "I suspect the Russians were trying to make some sort of a point." BBC political correspondent Ross Hawkins said the appearance of Russian aircraft near the UK coast was a show of strength from the Russians, and such incidents were carried out with political intent because they would be reported on. Our correspondent said it was part of a trend which had seen Russian aircraft flying close to UK airspace and there had also been concern about similar incidents in Europe. Shelling is reported from several places in eastern Ukraine despite the official ceasefire between government forces and pro-Russia rebels. Artillery fire could be heard in the region's biggest city, Donetsk, where the truce had been observed so far. Ukrainian military sources also accused rebels of shelling positions near the port city of Mariupol. The fighting comes as Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany held further talks over the phone. Most of the renewed fighting in Donetsk appears to be in the north of the city towards the airport. The BBC's Ian Pannell, who is in the city, says it sounded like shells were being fired in both directions, although that could not be verified. Further south, a spokesman for the Ukrainian government forces said rebel units had attacked the village of Shirokyne, killing one soldier, with shells also fired towards Mariupol. The government-held port city of Mariupol is in a highly strategic position, sitting between rebel-held eastern areas and Crimea, which Russia annexed nearly a year ago. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) - which is charged with monitoring the ceasefire - also reported more shelling near the embattled town of Debaltseve which observers have not been able to reach. Thousands of people are trapped in the conflict zone in and around Debaltseve The town, a railway hub that links the two rebel-held cities of Luhansk and Donetsk, fell to the rebels on Wednesday. Semen Semenchenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament who leads the volunteer Donbass Battalion, told the BBC he blamed the fall of Debaltseve on the Ukrainian army command and called for it to be overhauled. "I can assure you that we lost Debaltseve not because of the Russian military advantage, but because our generals refuse to take responsibility," he said. He also reiterated calls for the West to send arms to Ukraine. "I believe if we don't stop the Russian military machine now the West would have to interfere later, but it would be more serious," he said. Ukraine says 82 soldiers missing after withdrawal from strategic town of Debaltseve on Wednesday Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman says UK defence secretary's comments on Baltics were "beyond diplomatic ethics" Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin has denounced Ukraine's call for the deployment of UN peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine as a destructive move. Feb 20th Britain and the European Union have been accused of a "catastrophic misreading" of the mood in the Kremlin in the run-up to the crisis in Ukraine. The House of Lords EU committee claimed Europe "sleepwalked" into the crisis. The EU had not realised the depth of Russian hostility to its plans for closer relations with Ukraine, it said. It comes as European Council president Donald Tusk called PM David Cameron to discuss how the EU should respond to the ongoing violence in east Ukraine. The report also follows comments from Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who has warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin poses a "real and present danger" to three Baltic states. On Wednesday, RAF jets were scrambled to escort two Russian military aircraft that were seen off the Cornwall coast. Ill-equipped The Lords committee's report said Britain had not been "active or visible enough" in dealing with the situation in Ukraine. It blamed cuts in the Foreign Office, which it said meant it had fewer Russian experts and put less emphasis on analysis. A similar decline in EU foreign ministries had left them ill-equipped to formulate an "authoritative response" to the situation in Ukraine, it said. The report claimed that for too long the EU's relationship with Moscow had been based on the "optimistic premise" that Russia was on a trajectory to becoming a democratic country. The result, it said, was a failure to appreciate the depth of Russian hostility when the EU opened talks aimed at establishing an "association agreement" with Ukraine in 2013. 'Unjustifiable and illegal' Committee chairman Lord Tugendhat said: "The lack of robust analytical capacity, in both the UK and the EU, effectively led to a catastrophic misreading of the mood in the run-up to the crisis." The UK had a particular responsibility to Ukraine because it was one of four signatories to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum which pledged to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity, the committee said. Neither Britain nor the EU had a strategic response on how to handle Russia for the long term, it added. A Foreign Office spokeswoman said no-one could have predicted the scale of the "unjustifiable and illegal" Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine. "The blame lies squarely with the pro-Russian separatists, backed by the Russian authorities, not with an Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine which had been under negotiation for more than seven years before Russia decided to illegally invade and then annex part of its neighbour," she said. "If the Ukrainian people want a closer social, economic and political relationship with the EU, that is for the people of Ukraine to decide, not Russia." 'Deep concern' In response to the call from European Council president Mr Tusk to discuss the EU's response, a Number 10 statement said: "Mr Tusk said that the EU will be scrutinising the situation on the ground very closely in the coming days and both leaders agreed that European member states would need to review the EU's response accordingly." It said both men expressed "deep concern" that Russian-backed separatists have continued to attack Debaltseve, despite the ceasefire agreement that came into effect on Sunday. "They agreed that the EU should make clear to Russia that the pro-Russian rebels must abide by the ceasefire," it went on. The European Council is made up of the heads of state or government of the 28 EU member states and it sets the EU's overall political direction and priorities. The US has also said it is "deeply troubled" by reports of continued fighting in eastern Ukraine. Shelling was reported from several areas on Thursday, including around the rebel-held city of Donetsk. The US says it is "deeply troubled" by reports of fighting in eastern Ukraine despite the ceasefire agreement that came into effect on Sunday. A White House spokesman called on all sides to abide by the commitments of the deal. Shelling was reported from several areas on Thursday, including around Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sentenced to 15 days in prison for handing out leaflets to publicise a forthcoming demonstration. His imprisonment bars him from taking part in the planned rally on 1 March. Navalny was given a suspended sentence for defrauding two firms in December. He says the legal cases against him are motivated by his opposition to President Vladimir Putin. Navalny left the courthouse on Thursday in a police car and wearing handcuffs. He urged his followers to attend the rally against President Putin's policies. The law he breached is one that restricts demonstrations. Street protests "To ease the economic and political crisis we have to pressure the authorities. Let's go to the anti-crisis rally," he said in a video posted on his Twitter account. Correspondents say that although he has little chance of posing a serious challenge to Mr Putin, he had pledged to lead 100,000 demonstrators in the march, which he says is against Kremlin policies that are leading Russia into a severe economic crisis. Mr Navalny led Moscow street protests against President Putin between 2011 and 2012. Last year he and his brother Oleg were accused of stealing 30m roubles (2,000;£300,000) from two companies. Oleg was given a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence, while Navalny was given a suspended sentence that prosecutors say they will appeal against. Critics of the Kremlin and the US say that his case is an attempt to stifle political dissent. Since he was sentenced, Navalny has taken an increasingly defiant stance, cutting off his house arrest tag in January. Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg were both found guilty in December Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has accused Russia of direct involvement in the sniper fire which killed dozens of protesters in central Kiev a year ago. He was speaking as the capital marked the first anniversary of the clashes between protesters and police which toppled ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. A top Kremlin aide, Vladislav Surkov, had organised snipers, he alleged. The Russian government hit back at the claim, calling it "nonsense". More than 100 people died in the violence on Kiev's central Independence Square, known as the Maidan, a year ago. The anti-Yanukovych revolt was called the "EuroMaidan revolution", as huge crowds demanded a pact with the EU. In a speech at the Maidan on Friday, President Poroshenko condemned the insurgency by pro-Russian rebels in the east. Earlier he told Maidan victims' relatives that, according to Ukrainian state security, "the Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov led the organisation of groups of foreign snipers on the Maidan". He was speaking just two days after his army retreated from the key town of Debaltseve, now in rebel hands. Rebel advance The Ukrainian government, Western leaders and Nato say there is clear evidence that Russia is helping the rebels with heavy weapons and soldiers. Independent experts echo that accusation. Moscow denies it, insisting that any Russians serving with the rebels are "volunteers". A Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, said more than 20 Russian tanks, 10 missile systems and busloads of troops had entered Ukraine in the past 24 hours, heading for Novoazovsk, a rebel-held town on the coast. The report has not been confirmed. The Maidan ceremony includes poetry, a choir singing the national anthem, and a performance of Mozart's Requiem by the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine. What happened in the Maidan? A look back to the events of 20 February 2014, one the bloodiest days of Ukraine's civil unrest Mr Yanukovych - a political ally of Moscow - fled into exile in late February 2014, but soon resurfaced in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. He said he had been ousted in an "illegal coup" and lambasted the "fascists" who had taken power in Kiev. For weeks in the bitterly cold winter of 2013-2014 the Maidan was a vast campsite populated by the EuroMaidan protesters, who kept police at bay with barricades and burning tyres. Most of those killed in the Maidan clashes were shot by snipers, and some uniformed police were filmed firing at protesters. Ukrainians will remember 20 February for many years to come. It became the tipping point for the anti-government protest that had gained momentum all winter. What started as a peaceful rally against President Yanukovych's decision to steer Ukraine off its pro-European path morphed into a fight against the corrupt government. It ended in a violent stand-off between riot police and protesters. Mr Yanukovych's rule came to an abrupt end, but the price was high - more than 100 people killed in the clashes. They are now remembered as the "Heavenly Hundred". Many of them died on 20 February, the last and most dramatic day of the protests. A year on, people are coming to the Maidan again to honour those who gave their lives fighting for a better Ukraine. The untold story of the Maidan massacre Mr Poroshenko said on Friday that phone records obtained by Ukrainian state security showed a direct Russian state role in the Maidan shootings. Those records, he said, revealed "conversations between Yanukovych and Russian state security officials. "They prepared for the shooting together, in advance." Russia's foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Mr Poroshenko had been duped by his security aides. "Ukraine's investigative and security services have things to be getting on with. But at the moment, instead of carrying out investigations, they're exploiting people's deaths and putting out nonsense worthy only of a mental hospital," he said. Battlefield A ceasefire for war-torn eastern Ukraine, signed in Minsk on 12 February, looks fragile as shelling continues in some areas. An intense rebel bombardment forced some 2,500 government troops to retreat from Debaltseve on Wednesday, and dozens of others surrendered. The village of Chernukhino, near Debaltseve, is now in rebel hands too, the Kiev-appointed governor of Luhansk region, Gennadiy Moskal, said on The streets of Debaltseve were mostly quiet and mostly deserted as we entered the city for the first time since intense fighting ended. Those civilians still holed up in the city, who have been without water, gas and electricity since early January, were slowly emerging from shelters to see what was left of their homes. But there were more rebels than civilians, with convoys of victorious separatists returning from the recent clashes. Evidence of the fighting was littered across the roads and we spotted the bodies of two Ukrainian solders that had been lying in the cold for three days. Ukraine crisis: Debaltseve 'in total shock' 20 February 2015 Last updated at 19:47 GMT The Ukrainian capital, Kiev, has been marking the first anniversary of the clashes between protesters and police which toppled ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. More than 100 people died in the violence in Maidan Square in the centre of the capital one year ago. The killings triggered the collapse of Ukraine's pro-Russian government, prompting Moscow to annex Crimea and sparking a separatist war in the east. One of the towns engulfed by the ensuing violence is the strategically important town of Debaltseve, from where Paul Adams reports. Read more Ukraine accuses Russia over Maidan 2014 killings Feb 21 A rally has taken place in Moscow to condemn the "coup" in neighbouring Ukraine, a year after the downfall of its pro-Russian president. Russian state media heavily promoted the rally and march with the slogan "We won't forget! We won't forgive!". Ukraine's protests ousted pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Speaking on Russian TV, the ex-leader condemned "lawlessness" in Ukraine, saying the situation there had caused him "very many sleepless nights". Since Mr Yanukovych's departure, Russia has annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and is accused of backing rebels in eastern Ukraine. A ceasefire plan agreed this month in Minsk has appeared close to collapse since taking effect just over a week ago. The Ukrainian government, Western leaders and Nato say there is clear evidence that Russia is helping the rebels in eastern Ukraine with heavy weapons and soldiers. Independent experts echo that accusation. Moscow denies it, insisting that any Russians serving with the rebels are "volunteers". Nearly 5,700 people have died since the fighting erupted last April and some 1.5 million people have fled their homes, according to the UN. In developments on Saturday: The rebels announced a prisoner exchange to take place in the Luhansk region under which between 35 and 39 Ukrainian soldiers would be handed over in exchange for 37 people held by the Ukrainian government An adviser to Ukrainian President Viktor Poroshenko, Yuri Biriukov, reported on his Facebook page (in Russian) that the Ukrainian death toll in the battle for Debaltseve was possibly 179 with 81 missing - a much higher figure than previously announced Shelling could be heard in the city of Donetsk, the rebels' main stronghold. 'Anti-Maidan' Groups of demonstrators gathered in central Moscow on Saturday under patriotic Russian banners. Police estimated that about 35,000 people in total took part. The Moscow event was styled as an "anti-Maidan" march - a reference to Ukraine's pro-EU protests that started on Kiev's central Independence Square, widely known as the Maidan. The BBC's Sarah Rainsford, at the scene, says marchers included Cossacks in full uniform and young women in anoraks emblazoned with pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Among those at the rally was Ukrainian rebel politician Oleg Tsarev, who marched alongside the leader of Russia's Night Wolves motorcycle club, Alexander "The Surgeon" Zaldostanov, a prominent Russian nationalist. One group of marchers in military fatigues could be seen with a placard which read "Maidan is an illness - we're going to cure it!" Another placard read "Maidan benefits the enemies of Russia!" Our correspondent says many people at the march blame America and Europe for engineering regime change in Ukraine. The anti-Yanukovych revolt was triggered by a sudden U-turn that ditched a wide-ranging pact with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia. Since Mr Yanukovych fled Kiev, the new authorities in Ukraine have issued an arrest warrant for him over the "mass murder of peaceful citizens". President Poroshenko accused Russia on Friday of direct involvement in the sniper fire that killed dozens of protesters in Kiev on 18-20 February last year. Speaking at a commemorative gathering in Kiev, he said Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov had organised "groups of foreign snipers". The Russian foreign ministry hit back at the claim, calling it "nonsense". Mr Poroshenko was speaking just two days after his army retreated from Debaltseve, now in rebel hands. The rebels took the strategic transport hub in spite of the ceasefire signed on 12 February, arguing the truce did not apply to the flash-point town. US and its allies considering additional sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, US Secretary of State John Kerry says Ukraine crisis: Prisoner swap boosts ceasefire Ukrainian government and rebel forces have exchanged dozens of prisoners, a week after a ceasefire came into effect in the east of the country. A total of 139 Ukrainian soldiers were freed and 52 rebels. The exchange is the first step carried out successfully under the terms of the 12 February Minsk agreements, brokered by France and Germany Feb 22nd Tex from BBC news Rebels in eastern Ukraine have agreed to begin to pull back heavy weapons from the frontline, a Russian general involved in implementing a truce says. Gen Alexander Lentsov said the pro-Russian rebels had signed the orders to complete the withdrawal over the next two weeks, starting from Sunday. It is not clear whether the move will be reciprocated by Ukraine. This comes as Ukraine and the separatists exchanged 191 prisoners, a key part of the Minsk ceasefire deal. It was the first step carried out successfully under the terms of the 12 February agreements signed in the Belarusian capital, brokered by France and Germany. The exchange came as US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington was considering "serious sanctions" against Russia following breaches of the truce, and that a decision would be made in the coming days. the government and rebels in eastern Ukraine have agreed to start pulling back heavy weapons from the front line more below

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