Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nato commander warns Russia could control whole Black Sea

(BBC)  Nato's top military commander, Gen Philip Breedlove, has warned that Russian "militarisation" of the annexed Crimea Peninsula could be used to exert control over the whole Black Sea.

Speaking in Kiev, Gen Breedlove said Russian military assets being installed in Crimea would have an effect on "almost the entire Black Sea".

Mr Breedlove is in Ukraine for high-level talks with Ukrainian leaders.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Anna Chapman on manoeuvres in make-up: Russian spy deployed by Putin to boost support for Ukraine 'invasion' with visit to 'handsome' troops

(Daily Mail)  The 32-year-old foreign intelligence agent donned military uniform and was allowed to go on manoeuvres in make-up with a top tank division that Ukraine has claimed was spotted helping the rebels in Crimea.

In a revealing programme for Russian channel Ren TV, she went behind the scenes with the army, which is facing Western accusations of secret military involvement in Ukraine, in a report evidently aimed at boosting respect for Putin's military machine.

During the documentary, she rode in a T80 tank, honed her spying skills by brandishing a Kalashnikov, and showed viewers how to kill with a knife during a visit to the base of a famous division.

'It's almost 6 am and 3,000 handsome men are still sleeping,' she whispered. 'I am very lucky to be at the heart of my motherland's army. It's a very special day for me.'

Chapman added breathlessly: 'I'm so excited about getting the uniform. Is it the famous uniform designed by Valentin Yudashkin (a well-known Russian fashion designer)? Will it suit me? I will have to wear this for the entire day.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

US Knows Lethal Military Aid in Ukraine to Be Used Against Civilians:Expert

President for Life?

Maybe not for life, but at least until he is 72.  Apparently, staying in office beyond 2024 would be detrimental to the country, assuming of course his health holds up.  Putin hasn't looked in the best of shape recently but his office strenuously denies there is anything physically wrong with him.  Maybe it is just stress.  Who knows?  PM Medvedev says "each of us have certain petty things to take care of."

Friday, November 21, 2014

Does Ukraine Need Arms?

Almost every day there is an article about the need to arm Ukraine.  Although I understand the (Russophobic) rhetoric behind such proclamations, they are made in ignorance of the large and sophisticated arms industry already present in Ukraine.  If anybody cares to do a little research they will discover that Ukraine was one of the largest global exporters of arms in 2013.

From DefenseOne (a defense industry website):

Ukraine, unlike many other successor states of the Soviet Union, inherited a large and sophisticated defense industry when the USSR fell apart. It exports $1.3 billion worth of arms annually and according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute was the ninth largest arms exporter in the world between 2008 and 2012. It is famous for its Antonov cargo aircraft, it manufactures helicopter engines, and it is home to the Yuzhmash (Southern Machine-Building Works) factory that had built many Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles, including the most powerful missile in the world — SS-18, code-named Satan, still in service in Russia. Other Ukrainian defense industry products include tanks, surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles and naval weapons. 
The capabilities of Ukrainian defense industry are hardly a secret. The website of Ukroboronservice — a subsidiary of the state-owned arms export company Ukrspetsexport — offers prospective buyers a wide variety of weapons. These include the long-range guided anti-tank missile Baryer, the portable light anti-tank missile Corsar, the precision-guided anti-tank missile Stugna, and many others. The anti-aircraft offerings include man-portable surface-to-air missiles, as well as various mobile, long-and short-range air defense systems. As to small arms, Ukraine was the largest small arms exporter to the United States in 2012 (the latest data available). Ukrainian arms reportedly also have found their way to both sides of the Syrian conflict.

From DefenseWeb (which tracks arms sales in Africa):

One of Africa’s biggest suppliers last year was the Ukraine, which sold 20 T-72 main battle tanks, 20 BMP-1 armoured combat vehicles, five 2S1 Gvozdika 122 mm self-propelled guns and five D-30 howitzers to Sudan, which also received four Su-24Ms and three Mi-24Vs from Belarus.

Ethiopia received 29 T-72s and 10 000 submachineguns from the Ukraine as well as 12 MiG-23s from Bulgaria. These were airframes with zero hours left on them and, as they were dismantled and without armament, they will probably be used as a source of spare parts to keep Ethiopia’s other MiG-23s flying. Ethiopia further bolstered its Air Force with the delivery of 12 Soviet-era Mi-24s from Hungary.

Other Ukrainian exports recorded for 2013 include four BTR-3Es to Nigeria, two Su-25s to Niger and four Su-25s and 500 light machineguns to Chad while the Seychelles received a single Mi-24P attack helicopter. 

It's pretty obvious that the last thing my ancestral Ukraine needs from the West is weapons.  It needs peacemakers instead, something a belligerent West seems desperately short of.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Russia's Relations With Hungary Warm as Ties With West Chill

President Vladimir Putin hailed Hungary as one of Russia's most important partners on Wednesday, giving his seal of approval to a budding relationship with a Soviet-era ally that is worrying some of its European Union allies.

While the Ukraine crisis is straining ties between many EU capitals and Moscow, Hungary - which relies heavily on Russia for natural gas supplies - is enjoying a rapprochement with the Kremlin.

"We share the attitude of the Hungarian leadership aimed at growing constructive dialogue, jointly carrying out planned very large investment projects," Putin told a Kremlin ceremony at which Hungary's new ambassador presented his credentials.

He said Russia considered Budapest "one of the most important political, trade and economic partners".

A senior Hungarian official told Reuters on Wednesday that the country aimed to start building its stretch of the Russian-backed South Stream gas pipeline next year.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban says he is not returning Hungary to the orbit of Moscow, which exerted considerable power when the country was part of the Soviet bloc. Instead, Orban says he is being pragmatic, as Russia is Hungary's main trade partner outside the 28-nation EU. Polls show a majority of Hungarians back his policies.

"Our common task is to prevent a split of Europe and prevent a situation in which we have rivals, not allies, in Europe," Szijjarto said.

Lavrov said it was reasonable for any country to follow "its national interests first and foremost", praising Hungary for not promoting "Russophobe" policies in the EU and NATO.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Neither USA nor UK released satellite images of MH117 over Ukraine

From the Oriental Review: "According to information obtained from the email of George Bilt, a former MIT alumni and aviation expert for more than 20 years, the Malaysian Boeing 777 flight #MH17 Amsterdam – Kuala-Lumpur, which tragically collapsed on July 17, 2014, was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter jet chasing it."

From Pravda: "The photo also depicts the moment of the missile launch from the fighter jet into the cockpit of the passenger liner. Experts note that the terrain, weather conditions and the dimensions of the aircraft fully correspond to the circumstances of the disaster."

Friday, November 14, 2014

404 Russian and Serbian troops take part in exercise

The exercise took place at the Nikinci ranges near the town of Šid, west of Belgrade, and lasted an hour and a half, during which time airborne troops demonstrated a hostage rescue operation and liquidation of a terrorist base, along with evacuation of the wounded.

Commander of the Russian Airborne Troops General Vladimir Shamanov said that both Serbia and Russia faced the problem of terrorism in the previous period and that Russian soldiers came to Serbia to share their experiences in this regard.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ukraine has ignored the far right for too long – it must wake up to the danger

(Guardian)  Pro-Russian supporters use the term “fascist junta” to criticise the Ukrainian government. This wording is not only obviously wrong from an understanding of the words “fascism” and “junta”, but has also been detrimental to peace in Ukraine by fuelling the civil war. If your country is governed by a fascist junta, any progressive person should take arms and fight it.

But despite the hypocritical instrumentalisation of the Russian propaganda, the Ukrainian authorities and mainstream opinion in Ukraine continue to show unacceptable ignorance of the danger from the far right and even openly neo-Nazi forces, cooperating with them in elections and allowing them to take positions within law enforcement.
Moreover, some of the new MPs are not just far right but actual neo-Nazis. Take Andriy Biletsky, elected in a single-member district in Kiev with support from the People’s Front party led by Arseniy Yatseniuk. Biletsky was the head of an openly racist Patriot of Ukraine group which was involved in hate crimes against minorities, and later formed the core of the infamous Azov volunteer battalion, which uses neo-Nazi symbolism. He was celebrated as commander of the Azov battalion and assigned to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the police.

Biletsky is not the only neo-Nazi recently appointed to law enforcement bodies. In October, Vadym Troyan, another Patriot of Ukraine member and deputy commander of the Azov battalion, was appointed as the head of the police in Kiev Oblast province. A Kharkov human rights group called it a “disastrous appointment”. At the same time, another infamous extreme right politician from the Svoboda party Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn, who once promoted Joseph Goebbels’ A Little ABC of National Socialism and the 25-point NSDAP Program, will head up propaganda and analysis in the Security Service of Ukraine. Allowing people with such extreme views control over positions with significant enforcement resources is an obvious danger to democracy.

But what is striking is that far-right and neo-Nazi views and connections do not seem to be problematic for either Ukrainian officials or mainstream opinion. Even the most typical line of criticism against Svoboda and the Right Sector expressed by liberal-minded people is inherently flawed. They may agree that the far right are dangerous, but they argue that the danger is that their provocative actions and statements can be exploited by Russian media to further discredit Ukraine. In this twisted logic the far right are criticised first of all for putting their partisan interests above Ukraine’s national interests. In other words, they are criticised not for being anti-democratic, reactionary, xenophobic and for propagating discriminatory ideas, but for not being nationalist enough. Even in critical discussions around the far-right appointments to high positions within law enforcement, there seem to be more worries about Ukraine’s international image than what neo-Nazis can do against political opponents and minorities and the dangerous resources they might accumulate.

Ukrainians have already paid a very high price for ignoring the far right. According to research into systematic protests, members of the far right were the most visibly identified political agents in the Maidan protests, from the very beginning of the movement to the overthrow of Yanukovych. Moreover, they were relatively more visible in eastern and southern regions where Maidan did not have the majority support, thus pushing the local population even further away from the protest message. This was not a Russian media invention. On the contrary, it happened as a result of the preceding protest coalition of the centrist opposition parties with Svoboda. High far-right visibility was one of the factors which prevented Maidan from growing into a truly national movement against Yanukovych, and formed the ground for the civil war.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Russian Defense Ministry stated that NATO claims of Russian military convoys crossing the border with Ukraine are false.

MOSCOW, November 12 (RIA Novosti) – NATO allegations of Russian military convoys crossing the border with Ukraine are COMPLETLY untrue, the Russian Defense Ministry said Wednesday.
Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said the rumors of alleged Russian military presence in Ukraine "are not backed by any facts.”
“We have already stopped paying attention to these baseless allegations,” he said.
On Wednesday morning, NATO said it had observed columns of Russian tanks, artillery and combat troops entering Ukraine over the past two days, while the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Tuesday said it had seen a convoy of 43 unmarked military trucks moving toward eastern Ukraine. However, both organizations failed to present any facts to support the claim.
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