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  • Russia Deploying Tactical Nuclear Arms in Crimea


    Russia Deploying Tactical Nuclear Arms in Crimea

    Obama backing indirect talks with Moscow aimed at cutting U.S. non-strategic nukes in Europe

    October 10, 2014
    By Bill Gertz

    Russia is moving tactical nuclear weapons systems into recently-annexed Crimea while the Obama administration is backing informal talks aimed at cutting U.S. tactical nuclear deployments in Europe.

    Three senior House Republican leaders wrote to President Obama two weeks ago warning that Moscow will deploy nuclear missiles and bombers armed with long-range air launched cruise missiles into occupied Ukrainian territory.

    “Locating nuclear weapons on the sovereign territory of another state without its permission is a devious and cynical action,” states the letter signed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R., Calif.) and two subcommittee chairmen.

    “It further positions Russian nuclear weapons closer to the heart of NATO, and it allows Russia to gain a military benefit from its seizure of Crimea, allowing Russia to profit from its action.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent months “has escalated his use of nuclear threats to a level not seen since the Cold War,” they wrote.

    In a related development, the Obama administration is funding non-official arms control talks with Russia through a Washington think-tank that are aimed at curbing U.S. tactical nuclear arms in Europe.

    The first round of talks was held in Vienna Monday and Tuesday.

    Critics say Obama administration arms control officials at the State Department and Pentagon are using the informal nuclear talks as groundwork for future tactical nuclear arms cuts.

    Such cuts are likely to be opposed by NATO allies, especially in Eastern Europe, worried by growing Russian military threats to the continent.

    Regarding the nuclear deployments to Crimea, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R., Okla.) first disclosed last month that Putin had announced in August his approval of deploying nuclear-capable Iskander-M short-range missiles along with Tu-22 nuclear-capable bombers in Crimea, located on the Black Sea.

    “The stationing of new nuclear forces on the Crimean peninsula, Ukrainian territory Russia annexed in March, is both a new and menacing threat to the security of Europe and also a clear message from Putin that he intends to continue to violate the territorial integrity of his neighbors,” Inhofe stated in a Sept. 8 op-ed in Foreign Policy.

    In their Sept. 23 letter to the president, McKeon, Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the subcommittee on strategic forces, and Rep. Michael Turner (R., Ohio), chairman of the subcommittee on tactical air and land forces, noted Russia’s violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty by building a banned cruise missile. The missile has been identified by U.S. officials as the R-500.

    The lawmakers said the Russian nuclear deployment in Crimea represents the “clear, and perhaps irrevocable tearing” of the 1997 agreement between NATO and Russia that allowed Russia to maintain a military presence within the alliance.

    The Russian nuclear deployment plans and treaty violation should have been discussed during the recent NATO summit in Wales but were not, they said.

    As a result, the congressmen urged the president to brief Congress on the threatening Russian nuclear deployments in Crimea. They also called on the president to suspend the NATO-Russia accord and demand the removal of all Russian military personnel from NATO facilities.

    Additionally, they asked that the United States and its allies halt all arms control surveillance flights by Russia carried out under the Open Skies Treaty.

    Significantly, the three House leaders called on the administration to begin research and development on deployment sites for new U.S. intermediate-range ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles, if Russian refuses to return to compliance with the INF accord.

    Putin “must be made to understand that his actions will accomplish nothing more than the alienation [of] Russia from the West, its economy and its security architecture,” the lawmakers said.

    “Until we have a strategy that convinces Mr. Putin he cannot achieve his dream of a ‘New Russia’ through illegal annexations, covert invasions, and nuclear saber-rattling, statements and sanctions along cannot be expected to have an effect on his actions,” the letter warns.

    “Too much is at stake to continue to allow Russia’s dictator to continue to proceed on his current path toward regional destabilization without serous opposition.”

    The action “further undermines Russian credibility in terms of the Budapest Memorandum that the Russian Federation signed in 1994,” the congressmen said.

    The memorandum promised Ukraine would have security assurances against threats or use of force in exchange for Kiev giving up its Soviet-era nuclear weapons – at the time the third largest arsenal in the world.

    On the Track 2 talks between Russian experts and a group hosted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the program leader was identified as anti-nuclear arms advocate Sharon Squassoni.

    Squassoni took part in a study three years ago sponsored by the leftist, anti-nuclear weapons group Ploughshares Fund that called for removing all U.S. tactical nuclear arms from Europe.

    Thomas Moore, a former senior professional staff member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who quit CSIS over concerns about Squassoni’s anti-nuclear slant, said he felt the Track 2 program, which was to cost $215,000 in federal funding, was unwise after Russia’s military takeover of Crimea which began last February.

    Moore said in an interview that the administration could be using the CSIS Track 2 talks as a way of conducting direct negotiations to further reduce U.S. nuclear arms in Europe.

    “Now is the wrong time to entertain any such ideas with any Russians, whether they are official or unofficial Russians, because they all support Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and violation of the INF treaty,” Moore said, noting that verifying any tactical nuclear arms reductions is nearly impossible.

    “My goal was to verify and keep our nukes in Europe,” he said, noting that Squassoni knows little about nuclear arms and has been “a partisan for Obama and his anti-nuclear agenda in Europe.”

    CSIS spokesman Andrew Schwartz confirmed that the Track 2 talks involving U.S., Russian and European experts are aimed at “limiting non-strategic nuclear weapons.” He declined to identify the U.S. or foreign members of the project and said a report on the program would be published in summer or fall of next year. He said the notion that the project has not been adjusted to account for the Crimea crisis is wrong.

    Squassoni confirmed her participation in the Ploughshares study but said in an email that the recommendations of that project were not discussed during the first Track 2 meeting this week.

    “I can assure you that my personal views do not interfere with my ability to facilitate balanced, analytically sound dialogues,” she said.

    The CSIS-Russia Track 2 nuclear talks also are being supported by Rose Gottemoeller, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security; and Andrew Weber, who recently resigned as assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defenses amid allegations of insubordination and improper personnel activities.

    A Pentagon spokeswoman declined to provide details surrounding Weber’s resignation but said he would be taking a lesser position at the State Department.

    A U.S. official close to the Pentagon said Weber ran afoul of his superiors as a result of his anti-nuclear arms positions, and practices related to hiring and the use of personnel within his office.

    Alexandra Bell, a spokeswoman for Gottemoeller said: “The administration is supportive of the domestic and international non-governmental community’s right to conduct research, scholarship, advocacy and Track 2 dialogues as they see fit.”

    Both the Pentagon and State Department spokeswomen would not address the question of whether holding informal nuclear talks on cutting nuclear weapons in Europe with the Russians will undermine NATO security in the aftermath of the Crimean crisis.

    Former Pentagon official Mark Schneider, a strategic nuclear arms specialist, said the Track 2 and any formal arms talks on tactical nuclear arms would fail.

    “They can have as many tracks as they want but the Russians will not agree to limits on tactical nuclear weapons,” Schneider said. “Their advantage is too great.”

    The United States is believed to have around 200 nuclear weapons in Europe. Russia’s tactical nuclear arsenal is at least 2,000.

    “NATO politics will prevent any cuts in U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe,” he said. “This is obviously about the worst possible time to talk about something like this.”

    Schneider said nuclear policymakers should focus on deterrence now instead of disarmament.

    A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told state-run Interfax March 26 that a “missile-carrying regiment” of Tu-22 Backfire nuclear bombers will be deployed to the Crimean airbase at Gvardeyskoye within two years.

    IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly described the nuclear-capable Tu-22s to be based in Crimea as “the backbone of Soviet naval strike units during the Cold War.”

    Rogers, the strategic forces subcommittee chairman, said Sept. 18 that the Russians have discussed “plans to station tactical nuclear weapons in Crimea.”
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Russian Invasion Of Ukraine (Formerly: Democratic Malaise Draws Ukraine Eastwards) started by Ryan Ruck View original post
    Comments 163 Comments
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Putin Warns Ukraine Against Committing any 'Reckless Acts'

      Russian President Vladimir Putin is warning Ukraine against committing any “reckless acts” as Ukraine imposed martial law after Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Black Sea.



      In a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin said he was “seriously concerned” about the developments and asked Germany to approach Ukrainian authorities “to dissuade them from further reckless acts,” the Kremlin said.

      The Kremlin had previously warned the imposition of martial law could lead to a flare up in hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

      President Petro Poroshenko said martial law will help "strengthen Ukraine's defense capabilities amid increasing aggression and according to international law a cold act of aggression by the Russian Federation."

      Ukraine's parliament voted Monday to approve martial law in 10 of the country's 27 regions beginning Wednesday.

      The measure calls for 30 days of martial law, an apparent concession to opponents, which would allow for elections to be called as scheduled in December.

      Russia fired on two Ukrainian naval ships and rammed a third vessel Sunday in the Black Sea, seizing the ships and accusing them of illegally entering its territorial waters.


      U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged Ukraine and Russia Tuesday to exercise “maximum restraint” to avoid further escalation in the region.

      U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley condemned Russia for its "outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory."

      "This is no way for a law-abiding civilized nation to act," Haley said at a Monday emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

      "Impeding Ukraine's lawful transit through the Kerch Strait is a violation under international law. It is an arrogant act that the international community must condemn and will never accept."

      At the U.N. Security Council, most members condemned the escalation, urged restraint and called for the unconditional and immediate release of the Ukrainian sailors and the return of their ships.

      Poroshenko is demanding Russia immediately release the Ukrainian sailors and ships.

      NATO head Jens Stoltenberg also called on Russia to release the Ukrainian navy ships, saying "there is no justification" for Moscow's actions, while European Union chief Donald Tusk condemned Russia's use of force and reiterated the EU would stand in support of Ukraine.

      Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Ukraine of violating international norms with "dangerous methods that created threats and risks for the normal movement of ships in the area."

      Russia's deputy envoy Dmitry Polyanskiy blamed Kyiv and its western supporters for the escalation.

      "This provocation was pre-planned, that's obvious, and it was with the full connivance of Western states that de facto have just given carte blanche to any actions taken by their subordinates," he said.

      Ukraine's U.N. ambassador, Volodymyr Yelchenko, said his government would like to see a tightening of economic sanctions on Moscow.

      "The sanctions is the only real tool that can make Russia at least start thinking of their behavior," Yelchenko said after the meeting. "Sanctions, they do bite."

      Ukrainian officials say at least six sailors were wounded in the incident and denies any wrongdoing.

      "We think our sailors committed no crime whatsoever," Ambassador Yelchenko said, noting that Crimea is not recognized as Russian territory by anyone except Russia. "What are they claiming, that Ukrainian sailors committed a crime by crossing the Russian border?

      Where is this border? It does not exist."

      Russia's deputy U.N. envoy appeared to signal the Ukrainian sailors would not be released quickly and could face a trial.


      "The three sailors, they were acting in provocation and they were conducting a crime according to the laws of the Russian Federation," Dmitry Polyanskiy told reporters. "Each and every sovereign country has [a] right to prosecute people who conduct crimes and unlawful acts on their territory, that's our approach.

      Sunday's incident began when a Ukrainian tugboat set out to escort two navy ships from Odessa, on the Black Sea, through the Kerch Strait to the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, in the Sea of Azov.

      The Kerch Strait is the only passage between the two seas.

      Ukraine said Russia used a tanker to block access to the Kerch Strait, which under a treaty is shared territory.

      The Trump administration has previously warned Russia against trying to strangle the Ukrainian economy by harassing international shipping through the Kerch Strait.

      Russia forcibly annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014, claiming its ethnic Russian majority was under threat from the Ukrainian government.

      Fighting between pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine and Ukrainian troops has eased in recent months, but there are still occasional deadly flare-ups.

      Russia has consistently denied sending weapons and fighters to help the separatists, despite strong evidence to the contrary.

      https://www.voanews.com/a/putin-warn...-/4675776.html



      Russia Moves Fast to Deepen Kerch Crisis






      A Ukrainian sailor, right, is escorted by a Russian intelligence officer to a court room in Simferopol, Crimea, Nov. 27, 2018.
      LONDON — Russia’s attack on Ukrainian military vessels in the Black Sea marks the first time the Kremlin has staged open aggression against Ukraine since President Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea four years ago, and launched a destabilization campaign in the Donbas region.

      In the past, the Kremlin has used so-called “little green men” — Russian soldiers without an insignia — to stage provocations or battle Ukrainian forces, denying they are directed by Moscow.

      Sunday marked a new departure, however, with the hybrid war being stepped up, a development that risks igniting a broader conflict and spiraling out of control.

      The damage on one of three Ukrainian ships is seen after it had been seized, Nov. 25, 2018, in Kerch, Crimea.

      Putin power play

      So why did the Russian leader decide now to stage such overt aggression — especially at a time when the Russian economy is struggling and could well do without any escalation of sanctions by Western nations? Putin's move comes just days before he's due to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump during the G20 summit in Argentina to discuss Syria and the recent U.S. decision to withdraw from a nuclear weapons treaty.

      Some Western officials and analysts point to President Putin's slumping popularity at home, the consequence of unpopular pension reforms, to explain the attack in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and is officially a waterway shared by Russia and Ukraine. They say it is calculated to boost Putin's approval ratings that are now at a five-year low.

      On Twitter, Alexei Navalny, the prominent Putin critic, said the decision to ram, fire on and seize two gunboats and a tugboat is straight out of the Russian leader's traditional playbook in which he uses foreign adventures to divert domestic attention and encourage a siege mentality, whereby Russians feel Western nations are ganging up on them.

      “We can expect 30 talk shows a day over the next month with discussions of aggressive warmongers from Kyiv,” he tweeted.

      Captured sailors on display

      Russia has moved fast to deepen the crisis, say analysts. A court in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, has ordered one of the 24 Ukrainian sailors detained by Russia to be held for two months and Russian media are reporting the man faces a charge of illegally crossing Russian borders, which carries a sentence of up to six years in prison. The other sailors are likely to face similar court action.

      And the Kremlin moved quickly to blast the Ukrainians for what it paints as aggression against Russia, with state television Tuesday broadcasting interrogations of three of the captured sailors.

      "I recognize that the actions of the ships with military hardware of Ukraine's navy had a provocative character," one of the sailors, identified as Vladimir Lisov, said in one of the interrogations, which Kyiv claims are being conducted under duress. "I was carrying out an order," Lisov added.

      Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko delivers his annual address to parliament in Kyev, Ukraine, Sept. 20, 2018.

      Dark intent?

      The presence of Ukrainian counterintelligence officers on board the vessels also is being highlighted by the Kremlin and on state media as evidence of Kyiv's dark intent. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov labeled the whole incident “a dangerous provocation” by the government of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Russian officials accuse Poroshenko of trying to manufacture a crisis to boost his desperately low poll ratings ahead of next year's presidential elections, which he appears to be in danger of losing.

      The exchange of accusations is par for the course in the long-running conflict between Moscow and Kyiv since the Euro-Maidan uprising led to the 2014 ouster of Ukraine's pro-Kremlin president, Viktor Yanukovych.

      Certainly Poroshenko has seized on Sunday's clash, pressing for the imposition of martial law in 10 of the country's 27 regions, a decisive move that some say may boost his poll standings. Jan Surotchak, senior director for Transatlantic Strategy at the International Republican Institute, a Washington-based democracy-promotion non-profit, acknowledges that Poroshenko could profit from the clash in domestic political terms, “if he is able to focus his allies in the West to be more supportive.”

      But he says, “In the end, of course, that is not what this is about.” Surotchak sees Sunday's incident as not just being about Putin's short-term domestic political needs or Poroshenko's seizing on it to try to improve his own election prospects. “Most importantly what Moscow was trying to achieve is what it has tried to do now for the better part of the last five years, and that is destabilize Ukraine.”

      Western and Ukraine officials say there has been a pattern of heightened Russian activity in the Donbas region, as well as the Sea of Azov for the past few weeks. Speaking three days before the maritime clash, Stepan Poltorak, Ukraine's defense minister, cautioned that the Donbas conflict was re-entering an "active phase," saying he expected more open moves by Russia.

      Western officials say they are taking those Ukrainian warnings seriously and acknowledge there has been a ratcheting up by Russia of incidents in the Sea of Azov since Russia completed in May the building of a bridge across the strait linking the Russian mainland to Crimea. Russia has increased sharply the number of armed vessels patrolling the Kerch Strait, and cargo ships trying to reach Ukraine's Azov ports — Mariupol and Berdyansk — have found themselves subject to more Russian inspections and week-long delays, resulting in a 33 percent decrease in freight traffic.

      A car is stopped at a checkpoint manned by Ukrainian police officers, in Berdyansk, south coast of Azov sea, eastern Ukraine, Nov. 27, 2018.

      West shares blame

      Sunday's incident, Ukrainian officials say, is a direct result of the lack of Western reaction to the unfolding imposition of a de facto sea border, which has been slowly but surely throttling access to the Sea of Azov and the Ukraine's important Mariupol industrial region. The Kremlin felt emboldened, they say.

      How all this will play out when Trump and Putin meet in Buenos Aires later this week isn't clear. When asked whether it will have any impact on the encounter between the two leaders, Kremlin spokesman Peskov said the clash in the Kerch Strait won't affect preparations for the meeting.

      Putin may be banking, say American officials, on reducing any fallout from the Kerch clash by pledging to enforce U.N. sanctions on North Korea ahead of a planned U.S.-North Korea summit next month, something he was urged to do earlier this month by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence during an exchange at an Asian summit meeting.


      Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
      (Russian Ministry of Defense)


      11/27/2018 (13:22)

      Began testing the readiness of formations and military units of the Southern Military District for the new school year.

      To check the readiness of more than 40 formations and military units of the Southern Military District (YuVO) to the beginning of the new school year, complex commissions started from the directorates and services of the district headquarters appointed by the commander of the Southern Military District Colonel-General Alexander Dvornikov.

      Representatives of the branches of the branches of troops and services of the Southern Military District check the readiness of the training material base, weapons and military equipment, as well as the state of social facilities in the units and military units of the district subordination, combined-arms units, the Black Sea Fleet, the Caspian Flotilla and 4 air forces and armies Air Defense.

      In order to organize the training process in the new academic year, more than 30 combined-arms ranges, shooting ranges, as well as more than 400 training classes and about 200 training complexes at the order base were trained in the Southern Military District.

      More than 3.5 thousand targets and radio-controlled firing systems were equipped for conducting training in firing training at combined-arms ranges.

      The new academic year in the troops of the Southern Military District will begin on December 1 of this year.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      #BREAKING: Heavy artillery fire along the front in eastern Ukraine. Possibly near Mariupol #Ukraine #Russia

      — Luna News (@Breakingservice) November 27, 2018


      Russia rejects Ukraine talks over Kerch Strait ship capture

      By ZOYA SHEFTALOVICH 11/27/18, 11:12 AM CET Updated 11/27/18, 3:27 PM CET

      Russian President Vladimir Putin will announce his position on the Kerch Strait crisis “in the coming days,” but “it would be wrong to underestimate the significance and danger” of the episode, the Kremlin’s spokesman said Tuesday.


      Referring to a statement in which U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Russia and Ukraine should hold direct talks to resolve the crisis, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that is unnecessary.





      “Actually, the situation does not need to be calmed,” Peskov said, according to Russian news agency TASS. “[That] happened the day before yesterday, when our border guards calmed the violators of the Russian Federation’s state border.”


      Ukraine’s parliament on Monday voted to introduce martial law for 30 days after Russia on Sunday opened fire on two Ukrainian armored artillery vessels and a tugboat off the coast of Crimea. Russia’s FSB security service claimed the vessels had illegally entered its territorial waters, and authorities seized the three ships, detaining 24 sailors.




    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -

    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Heavy artillery can be heard in #Toshkivka near the highway at #Bakhmutka. https://t.co/RN6cRX172g
      — The Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) November 28, 2018


      The #RussianNavy closes the waters of the #Mediterranean and prevents the flying of civil aircraft and ships. Chinese warships have been ordered to go to the Syrian coasts and join the Russian fleet #Syria #Breaking #China #US pic.twitter.com/bS7QOhV4aP
      — Desert Hawk 🏴 (@Syrian_Lion) September 1, 2018



      We repeat: There are at least 150,000 Russian Ground Forces troops in a state of combat readiness (trained, kept on their toes with drills/alerts) that Russia could deploy west into Ukraine within a 96 hour period. Plus Russian airborne and marine troops. All covered by air force pic.twitter.com/6PzctEOite
      — GorseFires Collectif (@GorseFires) November 28, 2018


      EndGameWW3 Retweeted

      Ryan Browne

      Verified account

      @rabrowne75
      40m40 minutes ago
      More
      SecDef Mattis on Russian actions in Kerch Strait: "It was obviously a flagrant violation of international law, it was I think a cavalier use of force that injured Ukrainian sailors...it just shows that Russia cannot be counted on right now to keep its wordEndGameWW3 Retweeted

      Mikhail D.


      @Eire_QC
      7h7 hours ago
      More
      "Germany must take a clear line... and put (Russian President Vladimir) Putin in his place," Ukrainian ambassador Andrij Melnyk told German radio on Wednesday. "Everything is at stake." #UkraineEndGameWW3 Retweeted

      Mikhail D.


      @Eire_QC
      7h7 hours ago
      More
      The Ambassador has even raised the possibility for Germany to send Marines to the Black Sea. #Ukraine


      ELINT News


      @ELINTNews
      1h1 hour ago
      More
      #UPDATE: On top of this new deployment of S-400 systems to Crimea today, the Russian army 31st air defence division has already previously deployed the S-400 triumph to numerous regions of the peninsula including at Yevpatoria, Sevastopol and Feodosiia Via- @ukraine_world

    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Russia International News 🇷🇺
      Russia International News
      @russia_watch
      Major events unfolding in #ukraine #Russia President Trump is now in the War room being briefed on the incident/s
      Quote Tweet
      Doge
      @IntelDoge
      The Press Pool has now returned to the White House. A travel/photo lid has been put into place. No travel expected for the rest of the night from the president. (link: https://twitter.com/zekejmiller/stat...29637005783040) twitter.com/zekejmiller/st…
      6:59 PM · Nov 28, 2018 ·
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    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Ukraine gave up its nukes in return for a guarantee. After Russian forces fired at and seized 3 Ukrainian naval vessels on Sunday, Kyiv suggested that the U.S. and Europe should do more to protect it against the vastly superior Russian military https://t.co/nCOuUgnrhU
      — GorseFires Collectif (@GorseFires) November 29, 2018
      Yesterday, #F16 @beairforce, currently deployed in the #Baltic Region ������������ to safeguard the integrity of @NATO airspace, intercepted #Russian Flanker Jets flying w/o flight plan. Our mission @BelgiumDefence is to protect your security pic.twitter.com/JBjFxSLXTc
      — Belgian Air Force���� (@BeAirForce) November 29, 2018


      Footage of a fourth S-400 battalion deploying near the border with #Ukraine in #Crimea earlier today. pic.twitter.com/59u1RKn6v4
      — The Intel Crab (@IntelCrab) November 29, 2018
      #Крым Боевые расчёты С-400 выдвинулись на позиции, осуществили развёртывание и заступили на дежурство... pic.twitter.com/y8ot3Vqiix
      — Горловский Томос (@062_Region) November 29, 2018
      I asked a Ukrainian soldier on the front lines what he needed most. He told me: "More than ammunition, we need to know we're not alone." pic.twitter.com/kR6vwWiwqJ
      — Nolan Peterson (@nolanwpeterson) November 29, 2018
      My latest, on today's developments in Ukraine.https://t.co/x2C4Ujddfz
      — Nolan Peterson (@nolanwpeterson) November 29, 2018
      President Poroshenko shows Sky News surveillance photos he says are Russian tanks massing on the Ukrainian border: pic.twitter.com/oVE1CD5LM7
      — Alistair Bunkall (@AliBunkallSKY) November 29, 2018






      @ELINTNews
      32 minutes ago

      More
      #BREAKING: Ukraine officially bans all Russians from entering and leaving Crimea through Ukrainian territories, only Ukrainians will be allowed in and out


      Donald J. Trump
      ‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump
      1m1 minute ago

      Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin. I look forward to a meaningful Summit again as soon as this situation is resolved!


      @EndGameWW3
      26m26 minutes ago
      More
      KREMLIN SPOKESMAN SAYS IF SUMMIT IS INDEED CANCELLED PUTIN WILL HAVE A COUPLE OF EXTRA HOURS FOR USEFUL MEETING AT G20 - IFAXEndGameWW3


      @EndGameWW3
      25m25 minutes ago
      More
      RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT SAYS PRETEXT FOR CANCELLING TRUMP-PUTIN TALKS IS 'FAR FETCHED' (INTERFAX)


      Trump cancels planned meeting with Putin at G20 over Russia-Ukraine flare up

      Published time: 29 Nov, 2018

      Trump had previously cast doubt over whether the meeting would take place, telling the Washington Post on Wednesday that “maybe” he would cancel the tete-a-tete, citing the recent confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian military vessels in the Kerch Strait.

      Three Ukrainian Navy vessels were apprehended by Russia trying to cross between the Black Sea and the Azov Sea on Sunday. While Kiev said it had informed Russia of the crossing, Moscow said it had not received notification.

      Leaving the White House for Argentina on Thursday, Trump told reporters he “probably” would meet with Putin at the summit, but said he would make a decision after receiving a briefing on the plane.

      Shortly after, Trump tweeted that “it would be best for all parties concerned” to cancel the meeting with Putin “based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine.”

      Trump said he looked forward to a "meaningful summit" when the "situation is resolved.US President Donald Trump has cancelled a scheduled meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin which was due to take place at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires on Saturday."Responding to Trump's decision, the Kremlin said it had received no confirmation of the cancellation through official channels. A Kremlin spokesperson said if the meeting is off, however, Putin will have a few free hours for other important meetings.

      It's not the first time uncertainty has surrounded whether a meeting between the two leaders would take place. In fact, it seems to happen frequently.

      Just three days before the pair met in Helsinki in July, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged "collusion" between Trump and Russia announced grand jury indictments against 12 Russian military officials for their alleged roles in interfering in US domestic politics. That move prompted White House officials to suggest Mueller was trying to derail the Helsinki meeting.

      There were also conflicting reports about a possible meeting between the two leaders in the days before Armistice Day commemorations in Paris last month. In the end, the two reportedly had a brief conversation behind the scenes and shook hands publicly after French organizers changed the seating arrangements at the last minute to avoid having the pair seated next to each other.





      White House tells reporters on Air Force One that @realDonaldTrump made the decision to cancel his summit with Russia's Putin on the plane after speaking with @SecPompeo, General Kelly and @AmbJohnBolton
      — Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) November 29, 2018




      Ukraine urges NATO to deploy ships in dispute with Russia


      By YURAS KARMANAU and VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV | November 29, 2018 at 2:58 AM EST - Updated November 29 at 1:48 PM

      KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The president of Ukraine is urging NATO to deploy warships to the Sea of Azov, a proposal that has been sharply criticized by Russia as a provocation that could worsen tensions between the two countries following a weekend confrontation in the waters off the Crimean Peninsula.

      U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday he was canceling a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit in Argentina because Moscow has not released the Ukrainian vessels and sailors it seized.

      In an interview published earlier Thursday with the German daily Bild, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko laid out his hope that NATO would "relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security" against Putin's expansionist ambitions.

      The Russian coast guard fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels and their crews on Sunday. Russia alleged the Ukrainian vessels had failed to obtain permission to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. Ukraine insisted its vessels were operating in line with international maritime rules in the strait, which separates Russia's mainland and the Crimean Peninsula that it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

      While condemning the Russian action, NATO is not expected to send ships to the area, a deployment that could trigger a confrontation with Russia. A 2003 treaty between Russia and Ukraine stipulates that permission from both countries is required for warships from anywhere else to enter the internal sea.



      The Southern Military District of Russia has announced that another S-400 surface-to-air missile system division has taken up combat duty Crimea. Fourth in a row. pic.twitter.com/HSEg0Hy6O6
      — DEFCONWarningSystem Staff (@Drumboy44DWS) November 29, 2018



      EndGameWW3

      @EndGameWW3
      1h1 hour ago
      More EndGameWW3 Retweeted Петро Порошенко
      Ukraine's President Poroshenko announces that the country will restrict Russian citizens' banking transactions (currency exchanges, deposits, etc.) and travel. "And I think it's totally justified," he adds.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Europe rebuffs Ukrainian calls for action in Russia standoff


      UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP / MYKOLA LAZARENKO

      Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko attended drills in northern Ukraine - he has called on Europe to be tougher on Russia

      European leaders rebuffed calls from Ukraine for greater support against Russia on Thursday, after Kiev urged NATO to send ships into waters disputed with Moscow.

      German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked Kiev to be "sensible" following the request from President Petro Poroshenko, just hours after the European Union failed to agree to threaten new sanctions against Moscow.

      Kiev has called on Western allies to back expressions of support with concrete action after Russian forces on Sunday seized three Ukrainian ships off the coast of Crimea.

      The incident was the most dangerous in years between the ex-Soviet neighbours -- who are locked in conflict over Russian-backed separatist regions -- and has raised fears of a wider escalation.

      In an interview with Germany's Bild newspaper published Thursday, Poroshenko asked NATO members including Berlin to send naval vessels to the Sea of Azov to back his country.

      "Germany is one of our closest allies, and we hope that states within NATO are now ready to relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security," he said.

      dpa/AFP / Michael Kappeler

      German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman, left, but showed no sign of backing military support


      But, while blaming Russia for tensions, Merkel showed no signs of being ready to back military support.

      "We ask the Ukrainian side too to be sensible because we know that we can only solve things through being reasonable and through dialogue because there is no military solution to these disputes," she said.

      - Putin accuses Kiev of 'provocation' -

      Ukraine has also urged Western governments to impose more sanctions on Russia over the incident, but there too it has seen little support.

      In a statement on Wednesday, the EU strongly condemned Russia's actions but, after three days of debate among senior officials, could not agree on a tougher response.

      Wednesday's statement reiterated demands that Russia release the seized boats and their crews, and restated Europe's "full support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine".

      It stopped short of threatening sanctions, saying only that the EU "is determined to act appropriately, in close coordination with its international partners".

      NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the issue would be raised at next week's regular meeting of alliance foreign ministers in Brussels, where Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin is also expected.

      She stressed that NATO is already present in the wider region.

      "Since Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has substantially increased its presence in the Black Sea," she said.

      AFP/File / STR

      Russia seized the Ukrainian military vessels in the Sea of Azov off Crimea

      Moscow and Kiev have traded angry accusations since Russian navy vessels fired on, boarded and captured the three Ukrainian ships.

      After warning of the threat of "full-scale war", Poroshenko on Wednesday signed an act imposing martial law for 30 days in regions bordering Russia, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

      Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted Moscow's actions were "lawful" because the Ukrainian ships had crossed illegally into Russian territory.

      He said the incident was a provocation orchestrated by Poroshenko to shore up public support ahead of a tough re-election battle in a presidential vote set for March.

      - Russia denies blockading sea -

      The Kremlin on Thursday also denied claims from Kiev that it was blocking access for Ukrainian ships to the Kerch Strait, the only crossing point between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

      "I don't know of any restrictions at the moment. On the contrary, as far as we know the Kerch Strait is operating normally," Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during his daily briefing.

      Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan said on Wednesday that 18 Ukrainian vessels were awaiting permission to pass from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov.

      POOL/AFP / Pavel Golovkin

      Russian President Vladimir Putin said the sea incident was a provocation orchestrated by Kiev

      Another nine vessels were waiting in port on the Sea of Azov to pass in the other direction.

      "Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov... are effectively under blockade by the Russian Federation," Omelyan wrote on Facebook.

      US President Donald Trump late on Thursday called off a planned meeting with Putin at the G20 in Argentina this week over Moscow's detention of the Ukrainian sailors.

      "Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin," he wrote on Twitter.

      The Ukrainian vessels -- a tug and two gunboats -- were trying to pass through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, but were refused access and chased into international waters by Russian vessels.

      AFP / Sébastien CASTERAN

      Russia-Ukraine confrontation
      Kiev has demanded the return of its ships and the release of 24 sailors taken prisoner during the confrontation.

      The sailors have been put before a court in Simferopol, the main city in Russian-annexed Crimea, and ordered to be held in pre-trial detention for two months.

      Two of their lawyers said Thursday that the sailors had been transferred to Moscow for holding in the city's notorious Lefortovo prison.


      Germany has no plans to deploy warships toward Crimean coast - Merkel's spox

      12:00, 29 November 2018

      Earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on the EU to take real steps to stop Russia's "creeping annexation" of the Sea of Azov. REUTERS

      German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert reiterated Berlin's position on the situation in the Kerch Strait, stating that the government wants to see "dialogue and caution on both sides." While speaking at a press conference in the German capital on Wednesday, Seibert also added that "a deployment of the German navy toward the Crimea coast is not being planned at the moment," in line with the government's position encouraging de-escalation. Read alsoTurkey could play role of mediator in settling Ukraine-Russia row in Black-Azov seas region "It is in the interest of Germany, it is in the interest of Europe, that Ukraine continue to play a role as a transit state for Russian gas," the spokesman also said amid Ukraine's concerns that the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine threatens Ukraine's position of a gas transit state and also threatens the entire European energy security. As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on the European Union to take real steps to stop the "creeping annexation" of the Sea of Azov by the Russian Federation.

      Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/1035...el-s-spox.html
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      #NATO amasses troops along #Russia border amid Ukraine turmoil: MoD https://t.co/KTZLflbKAy

      — Al-Masdar News (@TheArabSource) November 30, 2018
      Approximately 100 containers with a variety of munitions rolled into US Ramstein Air Base, Germany during the month of October. "Largest shipment of ordnance in recent history" https://t.co/cY1dqBx6Nz pic.twitter.com/WzdKpEfwbm
      — Already Happened (@M3t4_tr0n) October 28, 2018
      US reactivates (short range) air defense battalion and long range artillery unit in Germany
      — Already Happened (@M3t4_tr0n) November 30, 2018
      The US Army is gearing up for a potential fight with Russia, and it just put a crucial defensive weapon back in Europe permanently | Business Insider https://t.co/vBPa7qlPNq
      — EndGameWW3 (@EndGameWW3) December 1, 2018

      The US Army is gearing up for a potential fight with Russia, and it just put a crucial defensive weapon back in Europe permanently

      Christopher Woody


      US Air Force/Samuel King Jr.An FIM-92 Stinger missile is fired from an Army Avenger vehicle.

      • The Pentagon has been focusing on preparations for a potential clash with a peer, or near-peer, adversary like Russia.
      • Amid heightened tensions with Russia, the US Army in Europe has made a number of changes to how it operates.
      • The most recent change was the return of an air-defence unit stationed on the continent permanently.


      The US Army in Europe has made a number of changes in recent months as part of a broader effort by the Pentagon to prepare for a potential fight against an adversary with advanced military capabilities, like Russia or China.

      The latest move came on November 28, when the Army activated the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defence Artillery Regiment, in a ceremony at Shipton Barracks in Ansbach, near the city of Nuremberg in southern Germany.

      The battalion has a long history, serving in artillery and antiaircraft artillery roles in the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War II, and the Vietnam War. It was deactivated in the late 1990s, after the US military withdrew from the Cold War.

      US Army/Sgt. 1st Class Jason EppersonLt. Col. Todd Daniels, commander of the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defence Artillery Regiment, uncovers the battalion colours during the activation and assumption of command ceremony at Shipton Kaserne, Germany, on November 28, 2018.

      Its return brings new and important short-range-air-defence, or SHORAD, capabilities, according to Col. David Shank, the head of 10th Army Air and Missile Defence Command, of which the new unit is part.

      “Not only is this a great day for United States Army Europe and the growth of lethal capability here. It is a tremendous step forward for the Air Defence Enterprise,” Shank said at the ceremony.
      The battalion will be composed of five battery-level units equipped with FIM-92 Stinger missiles, according to Stars and Stripes.

      Three of those batteries will be certified before the end of the summer, Shank said, adding that battalion personnel would also “build and sustain a strong Army family-support program, and become the subject-matter experts in Europe for short-range-air-defence to not just the Army, but our allies.”

      Those troops “will have a hard road in from of them,” Shank said.

      US Air Force/Samuel King Jr.Stinger missiles are fired from the Avenger Air Defence System.

      Air Defence Artillery units were for a long time embedded in Army divisions, but the service started divesting itself of those units in the early 2000s, as military planners believed the Air Force could maintain air superiority and mitigate threats posed by enemy aircraft.

      But in 2016, after finding a gap in its SHORAD capabilities, the Army started trying to address the shortfall.

      In January, for the first time in 15 years, the US Army in Europe began training with Stinger missiles, a light antiaircraft weapon that can be fired from shoulder- and vehicle-mounted launchers.

      Lightweight, short-range antiaircraft missiles are mainly meant to defend against ground-attack aircraft, especially helicopters, that target infantry and armoured vehicles. Unmanned aerial vehicles – used by both sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine – are also a source concern.

      US Army/Capt. Rachael JeffcoatA 35th Air Defence Artillery Brigade member loads a Stinger onto an Avenger Air Defence System.

      US Army Europe has been relying on Avengers defence systems and Stinger missiles from Army National Guard units rotating through the continent as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, which began in 2014 as a way to reassure allies in Europe of the US commitment to their defence.

      Guard units rotating through Europe have been training with the Stinger for months, but the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defence Artillery Regiment, will be the only one stationed in Europe that fields the Avenger, a short-range-air-defence system that can be mounted on a Humvee and fires Stinger missiles.

      The Army has also been pulling Avenger systems that had been mothballed in order to supply active units until a new weapon system is available, according to Defence News, which said earlier this year that Army Materiel Command was overhauling Avengers that had been sitting in a Pennsylvania field waiting to be scrapped.

      Capt. Marion Jo Nederhoed/US ArmyA US Army Avenger team during qualification in South Korea, October 24, 2018.

      The Army has also fast-tracked its Interim Short Range Air Defence (IM-SHORAD) program to provide air- and missile-defence for Stryker and Armoured Brigade Combat Teams in Europe.

      The Army plans to develop IM-SHORAD systems around the Stryker, equipping the vehicle with an unmanned turret developed by defence firm Leonardo DRS. The system includes Stinger and Hellfire missiles and an automatic 30 mm cannon, as well as the M230 chain gun and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. It will also be equipped with electronic-warfare and radar systems.

      Final prototypes of that package are expected in the last quarter of 2019, according to Defence News, with the Army aiming to have the first battery by the fourth quarter of 2020.

      US Air Force/Samuel King Jr.A member of the Florida National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 265 Air Defence Artillery Regiment, uses a touchscreen from the driver’s seat of an Army Avenger.

      The activation of the 5th Battalion, 4th Air Defence Artillery Regiment, is part of a broader troop increase the Army announced earlier this year, saying that the increase in forces stationed in Europe permanently would come from activating new units rather than relocating them from elsewhere.

      The new units would bring 1,500 soldiers and their families back to Europe. (Some 300,000 US troops were stationed on the continent during the Cold War, but that number has dwindled to about 30,000 now.)

      In addition to the short-range-air-defence battalion and supporting units at Ansbach, the new units will include a field-artillery brigade headquarters and two multiple-launch-rocket-system battalions and supporting units in Grafenwoehr Training Area, and other supporting units at Hohenfels Training Area and the garrison in Baumholder.

      The activations were scheduled to begin this year and should be finished by September 2020, the Army said in a statement.

      “The addition of these forces increases US Army readiness in Europe and ensures we are better able to respond to any crisis,” the Army said.


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      Ukraine cites massive buildup of Russian forces along border

      By The Associated Press
      KIEV, Ukraine — December 1, 2018, 1:27 PM ET

      Russia is building up its land forces and weapons along the border, Ukraine's president said Saturday as German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Russia not to block Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov.

      Tensions between Russia and Ukraine were still escalating a week after a naval clash in the Black Sea on November 25 in which Russia fired on three Ukrainian naval ships then seized them and their 24 crew members.

      Speaking at a Ukrainian military event, President Petro Poroshenko said Russia has deployed "more than 80,000 troops, 1,400 artillery and multiple rocket launch systems, 900 tanks, 2,300 armored combat vehicles, 500 aircraft and 300 helicopters" along their common border.

      These numbers, which have not been verified, would account for the vast majority of men and hardware assigned to Russia's Western Military District.

      The naval clash came as the Ukrainian ships sailed to the Kerch Strait, the only waterway leading into the Sea of Azov and the site of a new key Russian bridge linking occupied Crimea with the Russian mainland.

      Russia accused the Ukrainian vessels of violating Russian territorial waters, a charge Ukraine has denied. Ukrainian officials say Russia has now imposed a de facto blockade on its two main ports in the Sea of Azov by allowing only ships destined for Russian ports through the strait.

      Merkel criticized that Russian move, speaking to reporters Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires after holding a bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

      "Free shipping into the Sea of Azov to the Ukrainian coast and harbors must be ensured" by Russia, she said.

      A 2003 Russia-Ukraine agreement designates the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait as shared internal waters. But following Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, Moscow has asserted greater control over the passage.

      "The Kremlin is further testing the strength of the global order," Poroshenko said Saturday, alleging that Moscow is waiting to see whether the international community will allow Russia to assert that the Sea of Azov and Black Sea are Russian territorial waters.

      Poroshenko said Russia is also increasing its presence at sea.

      "In the waters of the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Aegean Sea, more than 80 ships and 8 submarines are on patrol — including 23 combat vessels and 6 submarines," he declared.

      In response to the seizure of the ships, Poroshenko convinced the Ukrainian parliament to implement martial law in ten border regions. Many in Ukraine and abroad have criticized the martial law order, noting that playing up the Russian threat is politically beneficial to Poroshenko, who faces re-election in March.

      The martial law order included a ban on entry to Ukraine of all Russian males aged 16 to 60, a move Poroshenko said is designed to prevent undercover Russian military units from infiltrating the country.

      Poroshenko said this tactic was used after Russia seized Crimea and began to support separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, sparking a conflict that has left more than 10,000 people dead. An unsteady cease-fire has been in place there since 2015.

      The Ukrainian border service said Saturday that around 100 Russian citizens had been denied entry since the border restrictions went into effect Friday.

      "The vast majority of (them) could not confirm they purpose of their trip to Ukraine," Ukrainian border guard spokesman Andrei Demchenko told Ukrainian television on Saturday.

      https://abcnews.go.com/International...y-ban-59541226


      Russia’s Attack of Ukrainian Naval Ships in Black Sea: First Shots of Possible Winter War?

      Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 15 Issue: 168
      By: Pavel Felgenhauer
      November 29, 2018 09:23 PM Age: 2 hours

      On November 25, two Ukrainian gunboats, together with a tug, attempted to cross from the Black Sea through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov, where Ukraine controls two major port cities—Mariupol and Berdyansk. The Ukrainian convoy was stopped by Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) Border Guard ships, even though both Moscow and Kyiv agree the Ukrainian vessels had the right to cross into the Azov Sea in accordance with a 2003 treaty that declared these waters a joint sovereignty “internal” waterway (see EDM, November 26, 28). Nevertheless, Moscow accused Kyiv of ignoring protocol in applying for passage. After a multi-hour standoff just outside the Kerch Strait, the Ukrainian convoy turned back to Odessa since the small shallow-water Gurza-M-class gunboats have a crew of only five and are limited to just five days of autonomous voyage. Yet, the Russian forces did not allow them to withdraw peacefully and attacked, purposefully ramming the tugboat and using live munitions after a demand to stop engines was ignored. The Berdyansk gunboat was hit multiple times by heavy machinegun fire and apparently by armor-piercing rockets fired from a Ka-52 helicopter gunship and an Su-30 jet. The Berdyansk’s crew was lucky to survive unscathed. The three Ukrainian ships surrendered and were boarded by Russian commandos. Twenty-four Ukrainian service members were apprehended and the ships impounded (Interfax, November 27; Fakty.ua, November 29).

      Gurza-Ms are river gunboats with some coastal sea operational capabilities. They have two gun turrets originally designed for a Ukrainian-made BM-3 armored vehicle. Moreover, these vessels are equipped with a 30-millimeter automatic gun, a grenade launcher and laser-guided Ukrainian-made Baryer-VK anti-tank missiles. The Gurza-M’s armor can withstand 7.62-mm bullets. Ukraine began building these gunships as a cheap alternative after 2014, when it lost almost its entire fleet during the annexation of Crimea. The Ukrainian Navy has already moved several Gurza-M boats to the Sea of Azov this year and announced plans to establish a military naval base in Berdyansk, citing increased Russian military threats (RIA Novosti, November 16). The passage of two more gunboats may have annoyed the Russians; but on their own, those two small craft could not have possibly flipped the balance of military power in the Sea of Azov. Still the Russian military went berserk, fired to kill, and captured ships that did not seem to pose any immediate threat.

      Moscow accuses Kyiv of deliberately “provoking” a confrontation with Russia, adding that the European Union and the United States are guilty of “coordinating the provocation of a confrontation.” In a special statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Ukraine and the West of “grave consequences” that may follow (Militarynews.ru, November 26). Ukrainians are seen in Moscow as proxies doing the bidding of their Western masters and “sponsors.” The Russian defense ministry’s (General Staff’s) threat assessment apparently implies that a future Ukrainian naval base in the Sea of Azov could eventually become a deployment point for Western—that is North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—ships and forces much better equipped than the small Gurza-M gunboats. Although, those Ukrainian vessels could still play a vital role in guarding this base against Russian commando infiltration. The Azov Sea is mostly extremely shallow: Russian submarines and warships of the Black Sea Fleet cannot operate there effectively, while the US and its allies have some modern well-armed warships capable of operating in the coastal littoral.

      Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called on NATO to deploy forces to the Azov Sea to counter Russian aggression. The Kremlin insists this would be an extremely negative development (Interfax, November 29).

      The fact that no NATO member is presently planning to send any ships to the Azov Sea—not even a short friendly visit—will hardly calm the Russian nightmare assessment of the West suddenly achieving naval superiority there.

      Russia has been constantly using the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait to move corvettes armed with long-range Kalibr cruise missiles (potentially nuclear tipped) from the Caspian Sea through the Volga, the Volga-Don channel, the Sea of Azov, the Kerch Strait, the Black Sea, the Bosporus, into the Mediterranean and then back again. These corvettes have been shooting Kalibr missiles at Syria from the Caspian and from the Mediterranean.

      To attack any other targets in the larger Middle East, the Russian corvettes may use the rear position in the Caspian; to go after targets in the West, a deployment in the Black Sea or Mediterranean is essential. A NATO-backed Ukrainian naval base in Berdyansk or Mariupol could thus seriously impede Russian naval operational plans, Moscow seems to believe.

      The fear of a Western-led conspiracy against vital Russian interests in the Black and Azov seas may explain the extreme Russian reaction. The 24 Ukrainian service members were denied prisoner-of-war status, apprehended on criminal charges, and at least some of them reportedly moved to Moscow to the notorious FSB Lefortovo prison, apparently to be interrogated to seek evidence of a possible extended conspiracy (Interfax, November 29). US President Donald Trump has, in turn, canceled at short notice a preplanned meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Buenos Aires, at the G20 summit, because of the continued detention of the Ukrainian sailors and the Russian actions on November 25 (Interfax, November 29). This cancelation will be seen in Moscow as a nasty snub, but also possibly as additional conformation of a Western-led conspiracy surrounding the Azov Sea.

      After the naval skirmish, Poroshenko, supported by a majority in the parliament declared 30 days of martial law in regions bordering Russia. Poroshenko, quoting Ukrainian military intelligence, insists martial law will allow the country to raise its battle readiness and prepare the nation to face a possible Russian invasion aimed at occupying the port cities of Mariupol and Berdyansk and removing Ukrainian forces from the Azov shoreline (Militarynews.ru, November 26). This threat assessment may be real: By pushing back the Ukrainian forces and, say, handing the Azov shoreline to the Russian-backed Donbas separatists, Moscow solves the alleged Sea of Azov vulnerability problem while, at the same time, possibly securing a land corridor from Russia to Crimea. The Russian military has announced a “division” of S-400 missiles has been urgently deployed at Dzhankoy, in northern Crimea—a strategically important crossroads, where the main rail and highway connecting Crimea with Moscow traverse the salty Sivash marshes that form the Western tip of the Sea of Azov. At present, opposite Dzhankoy, the Ukrainian border guards control the north end of the main bridges to Crimea at Chonhar (Interfax, November 29).

      https://jamestown.org/program/russia...le-winter-war/

      Deven_Intelþ @Deven_Intel · 19h19 hours ago

      This map here you can see #Russia clearly could stop #Ukraine from being able to call in it's Airforce or naval forces to stop any attack on #Mariupol or #Berdyanks. This gives the Russians a major strategic advantage if they launch any attack in Eastern Ukraine.



      Ukraine cites massive buildup of Russian forces along border

      Posted 1:26 p.m. today
      Updated 1:27 p.m. today

      KIEV, Ukraine — Russia is building up its land forces and weapons along the border, Ukraine's president said Saturday as German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Russia not to block Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov.

      Tensions between Russia and Ukraine were still escalating a week after a naval clash in the Black Sea on Nov. 25 in which Russia fired on three Ukrainian naval ships then seized them and their 24 crew members.

      Speaking at a Ukrainian military event, President Petro Poroshenko said Russia has deployed "more than 80,000 troops, 1,400 artillery and multiple rocket launch systems, 900 tanks, 2,300 armored combat vehicles, 500 aircraft and 300 helicopters" along their common border.

      These numbers, which have not been verified, would account for the vast majority of men and hardware assigned to Russia's Western Military District.

      The naval clash came as the Ukrainian ships sailed to the Kerch Strait, the only waterway leading into the Sea of Azov and the site of a new key Russian bridge linking occupied Crimea with the Russian mainland.

      https://www.wral.com/ukraine-cites-m...rder/18033524/
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      Ukraine calls up reservists over Russian invasion fear

      Military units are to be deployed as part of martial law as Kiev responds to Russia seizing its navy ships and their crews.





      Ukraine's president has called-up army reservists to strengthen its defences over fears of a Russian invasion.

      Petro Poroshenko said reservists will be summoned for training as part of the martial law he declared at the end of November.

      He said that some military units will be redeployed to strengthen the nation's defences in a ratcheting up of tensions between the neighbouring countries.

      "Ukraine is taking its own steps in response to the threat of a large-scale Russian invasion," the president said.

      He also called on Germany and its allies to boost their naval presence in the Black Sea to deter futher Russian aggression.Martial law was declared in parts of Ukraine on 26 November, a day after the Russian coastguard fired at and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and 24 crew members off the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

      The Kremlin said Mr Poroshenko's latest announcement is an "absurd" attempt to inflame tensions.

      As part of the 30-day martial law, all Russian males aged 16 to 60 have been barred from entering Ukraine, a move which Mr Poroshenko said was needed to prevent Russia further destabilising his country.Over the weekend Mr Poroshenko said that Russia deployed a large number of troops along its border, and claimed the Kremlin intends to push into Ukraine.

      His government also accused Russia of blockading its ports in the Sea of Azov - which the Kremlin denies.Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Ukraine's claims were an "absurd attempt to foment tensions".

      "The accusations against Russia have no basis whatsoever," he added.

      However, the Russian military said its forces in Crimea were conducting drills involving Bal and Bastion long-range anti-ship missile systems.The sailors taken from the Ukrainian ships in November by Russia have been placed in custody for two months as Russia investigates the clash in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azoz.

      Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for the naval incident which ramped-up sour relations created in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea and backed separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

      Kiev says its ships were in international waters while Russia claims the boats were violating its borders.

      Mr Poroshenko has said he tried to arrange a phone call with Mr Putin to discuss the standoff but was refused.

      The Russian leader's spokesman said "no such conversation is planned".The UK does not currently have a presence in the Black Sea but Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said Ukraine was a "steadfast partner" and that Britain would continue to carry out joint training programmes and military exercises.



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      NATO Set to Meet as Ukraine Seeks Support Against Russian Attacks

      NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg holds a news conference after a meeting with the ambassadors at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Nov. 26, 2018.

      LONDON — Russia’s recent attack on Ukrainian naval vessels will likely top the agenda at a NATO meeting this week as the alliance searches for a robust response in the wake of the Kremlin’s latest act of aggression on Europe’s borders.

      U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to join other foreign ministers for the two-day meeting in Brussels starting Tuesday, where American demands for more military spending from NATO allies will also be discussed.

      Kyiv has warned the likelihood of an all-out war with its neighbor is dangerously high after Russia fired on its vessels last week in the Azov Sea and detained several Ukrainian naval personnel. Moscow has blamed Ukraine for what it called a ‘provocation.’

      Attending a ceremony to mark the acquisition of new military hardware Saturday, Ukraine’s president urged allies to step forward.​“This is an enormous threat and together, with our allies, we are searching for an appropriate response to it,” President Petro Poroshenko said.

      The Ukrainian leader wants NATO to send warships to the Azov Sea, which is supposed to be shared between Moscow and Kyiv under a 2003 agreement. Ukraine says Russian warships have blockaded the Kerch Strait off Crimea – the territory it forcibly annexed in 2014 – effectively cutting off Ukrainian Black Sea ports.

      NATO is under pressure to offer a robust response at Tuesday’s foreign ministers’ summit. But speaking last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gave no indication that the alliance is prepared to risk a naval confrontation with Russia.“We call on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports and allow freedom of navigation for Ukraine in the sea of Azov and Kerch Strait,” Stoltenberg told reporters.

      Following the incident in the Azov Sea, U.S. President Donald Trump cancelled a planned meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit.

      Writing on Twitter last week, Trump wrote, “The European Union, for many years, has taken advantage of us on trade, and then they don’t live up to their military commitment through NATO. Things must change fast!”

      Along with military spending, NATO foreign ministers will also discuss Ukraine and Georgia’s ambitions to join the alliance. Georgia’s new President-elect Salome Zurabishvili has already staked out a tough line on Russia, describing it as an "unpredictable occupying power" – and vowing to push forward her country’s bid to join NATO.

      “We can ask and we've been doing that - membership and that is our direction without any alternative - but on that road we can get much more concrete steps and I intend to be more demanding partner for Europeans as well as with our NATO partners,” Zurabishvili told the Reuters news agency.

      The West faces a balancing act in dealing with an increasingly unpredictable Kremlin, says Russia analyst Nicholas Redman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “It’s partly about exploiting some of the capacities that Western states have in order to defend themselves. That will require new approaches. It’s also I think about deciding where the points of potential dialogue should come.”

      Foreign ministers are also due to discuss Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan, in which about 16,000 personnel from 39 NATO member states and partner countries are involved in training and assisting Afghan forces.


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      T-Intelligence@T_intell
      32m32 minutes ago
      Replying to @rabrowne75

      U.S. Navy regularly sails into the Black Sea to conduct exercises with NATO members Romania, Bulgaria and allies Georgia and Ukraine. They also frequently port on RO ports (supply and Aegis mission). This deployment is likely scheduled in advance.

      EndGameWW3
      EndGameWW3
      @EndGameWW3
      Russia Is Ramping up Forces Near Border, Ukrainian Military Chief Says:

      Russia is Ramping up Forces Near Border, Ukrainian Military Chief Says
      themoscowtimes.com
      5:52 PM · Dec 5, 2018 · https://t.co/FzI2hbJGLY?amp=1

      EndGameWW3
      EndGameWW3
      @EndGameWW3
      Russian threat highest since 2014: Ukraine military chief

      Russian threat highest since 2014: Ukraine military chief
      reuters.com
      6:04 PM · Dec 5, 2018 · https://t.co/exnKH51tbe?amp=1

      ELINT News


      @ELINTNews
      37m37 minutes ago
      More ELINT News Retweeted Defence blog
      #UPDATE: Ukrainian army has deployed airborne assault divisions to the Russian border




      Statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg following conversations with President Aleksandar Vučić of Serbia, and Mr.Ramush Haradinaj of Kosovo



      • 06 Dec. 2018
      • Last updated: 06 Dec. 2018 13:24


      Today, I called both President Vučić and Mr Haradinaj to brief them on the outcome of Wednesday's meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers on the Western Balkans. I underlined that both Belgrade and Pristina should show calm and restraint, and avoid any provocative statements or actions.



      With Mr. Haradinaj, I raised the plan to move ahead with the transformation of the Kosovo Security Force into an army. I stressed that such a move is ill-timed, goes against the advice of many NATO Allies, and can have negative repercussions on Kosovo's prospects for Euro-Atlantic integration. I reiterated that should the mandate of the Kosovo Security Force evolve, NATO will have to examine the level of our engagement with the Kosovo Security Force.‎

      I also spoke with President Vučić on the need to de-escalate current tensions. I reminded both that the EU-mediated dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina remains the only way to bring durable peace and stability to the region. NATO remains committed to the security and stability of Kosovo through our UN-mandated KFOR peacekeeping mission.



      ELINT News

      @ELINTNews
      45m45 minutes ago
      More ELINT News Retweeted Kateryna_Kruk
      #UPDATE: Ukraine officially ends treaty of friendship between themselves and Russia

      Ukrainian soldiers move to position in a APC during military drills in base Honcharivske, Chernihiv region, Ukraine, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018.

      EFREM LUKATSKY/AP

      By YURAS KARMANAU | Associated Press | Published: December 6, 2018

      MINSK, Belarus — The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday voted to withdraw from a wide-ranging treaty on friendship with Russia, the latest step in escalating tensions between the two neighbors.

      The Supreme Rada overwhelmingly supported a motion by President Petro Poroshenko not to prolong the treaty when it comes up for renewal in April. The camouflage-clad president on Thursday visited an air base to announce an upcoming dispatch of troops to the Russian border.

      The long-simmering conflict between Russia and Ukraine that started with Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 spilled into the open on Nov. 25 when the Russian coast guard fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews. The seamen are still in Russian captivity.

      Ukraine's foreign minister on Thursday reiterated his country's call for the release and safe return of the 24 Ukrainian sailors.

      Pavlo Klimkin in a speech at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe warned that since the Crimean annexation Russia has not pulled back but, on the contrary, has extended operations into the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

      With the Ukraine-Russia conflict at the top of the OSCE agenda, the EU's high representative Federica Mogherini on Thursday also called on Russia to release the Ukrainian ships and soldiers "without delay."

      Poroshenko responded to the standoff by introducing martial law for 30 days, something Ukraine hadn't done even after Crimea's annexation and amid large-scale fighting between Ukrainian forces and Russia-backed separatists in 2014-2015.

      As part of martial law, Ukraine has beefed up its forces on the border with Russia, called up reservists for training and barred entry to all Russian males aged between 16 and 60.

      Poroshenko in an opinion piece published in The New York Times on Thursday called on the West to respond to what he described as Russia's aggression by imposing additional sanctions on the Kremlin.

      "Our common task is not to allow Russia to spill its aggression into the Sea of Azov," he said. "While the West is speaking, Mr. Putin is acting. It is time to respond."

      Poroshenko on Thursday visited a military air base in the city of Zhytomyr where Ukraine's Air Assault Forces troops were preparing to leave for the locations on the border with Russia "in order to strengthen our defense capabilities and be ready to stop the aggressor without losing a second."

      The Ukrainian parliament on Thursday voted not to prolong the friendship treaty with Russia, which is up for renewal next April, and adopted a bill that unilaterally doubles the extent of Ukraine's territorial waters to 24 nautical miles.

      Ukrainian authorities say this will allow the coast guard and the navy to be more efficient in patrolling the area to prevent military threats and smuggling. The bill also allows Ukrainian border guards to open fire without warning on potential attackers.

      Aki Heikkinen

      @akihheikkinen
      Follow Follow @akihheikkinen
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      Large alert air defence exercise going on in Russian Western and Southern Military Districts. Reports of units moving and conducting simulated launches from many areas.

      Spotted 1st mention in this that it's an alert drill:


      Ryan Browne

      @rabrowne75
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      Pentagon: "Today, the United States and Allies conducted an extraordinary flight under the Open Skies Treaty. The timing of this flight is intended to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations."


      Ukraine parliament gave authority for marine border guards to open fire without warning to protect sea areas.

      Russian outlets going bonkers.


      8:21 AM - 6 Dec 2018


      The War Reporter


      @TheWarOfNow
      39m39 minutes ago
      More
      Replying to @akihheikkinen
      I expect Russia to test this decision in the coming hours



      ELINT News Retweeted

      NSDC of Ukraine

      Verified account

      @NSDC_ua
      40m40 minutes ago

      More...

      The air assault units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are being redeployed to the most dangerous directions of the Ukrainian-Russian border. This was announced by President of Ukraine @poroshenko during a working visit to the Zhytomyr region. https://goo.gl/S7N7z1


      More than 1,200 Russian troops & 300 units of military equipment are involved in military exercises in Chechnya.https://t.co/DL3xDL7kbz pic.twitter.com/O8gS8zfRHv

      — DEFCONWarningSystem Staff (@Drumboy44DWS) December 6, 2018

      #UPDATE
      : 4 #Russia air force IL-76s have flown and landed in #Crimea, possibly carrying Russian airborne troops. #Ukraine. -Gage https://t.co/89fupQCNJc

      — World Events Live (@IdeologyWars) December 6, 2018
      #UPDATE: #Ukraine has deployed air assault divisions to the border between #Russia and #Ukraine. -Gage https://t.co/T0jpPoqoS9

      — World Events Live (@IdeologyWars) December 6, 2018


      WW4 File: UKRAINE-RUSSIA WAR: Ukraine’s top general, Viktor Muzhenko, interviewed by Reuters on Dec. 4, validates earlier statements by President Petro Poroshenko, says threat of Russian invasion “highest” since Crimean takeover in 2014, displays satellite images that reveal presence of Russian T-62M tanks stationed 11 miles from Ukrainian border, number more than doubled from 93 to 250 from Sep. 15 to Oct. 1, Muzhenko: “In front of us is an aggressor who has no legal, moral or any other limits.

      It is very difficult to predict when it will occur to him to begin active combat actions against Ukraine”; Dec. 1 tweet from Poroshenko alleges Russia has forward deployed 80,000 troops, 1,400 artillery and missile systems, 900 tanks, 2,300 armored vehicles, 500 airplanes and 300 helos into Donbas and Crimea ahead of mainland attack; Ukrainian Ground Forces redeployed to Russian border, reservists called up for training, air defense units ordered to shoot down UAVs spotted over military facilities, Poroshenko: “Certain units will be redeployed to strengthen the defense of the border. Military exercises will be conducted in the regions where martial law was imposed. Training with the stand-by reserve will take place”; US Air Force carries out “extra- ordinary” surveillance flight over Ukraine on Dec. 6, Pentagon cites Open Skies Treaty, says mission designed “to reaffirm U.S. commitment to Ukraine and other partner nations”


      Leave a comment Posted by periloustimes1 on December 6, 2018

      source 1 source 2 source 3 source 4 source 5 source 6

      “Extraordinary” US surveillance flight over Ukraine as Russia builds up its forces . . . nothing to see here folks. No need to worry about nuclear war or anything like that . . .



    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      US makes preparations to sail warship into Black Sea amid Russia-Ukraine tensions

      By Ryan Browne, CNN
      Updated 2217 GMT (0617 HKT) December 5, 2018

      Washington (CNN)The US has begun making the necessary preparations to sail a warship into the Black Sea, a move that comes amid heightened tensions in the region following Russia's seizure of Ukrainian ships and detention of Ukrainian sailors.

      The US military has requested that the State Department notify Turkey of its possible plans to sail a warship into the Black Sea, three US officials tell CNN, a move they said is a response to Russia's actions against Ukraine in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

      For its part, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced Wednesday that its troops in eastern Crimea, which Moscow seized from Ukraine in 2014, conducted a military drill with its Pantsir anti-aircraft missile systems.

      Active preparations

      The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also claimed Wednesday that the Ukrainian government had undertaken "active preparations" for a military offensive in eastern Ukraine, using the recent declaration of martial law in select regions as a cover.

      "Substantial offensive components are being transferred to the region, which are being dispersed along the entire contact line," spokesperson Maria Zakharova said Wednesday at a press briefing.

      The US is required to notify Turkey about the passage through the straits under the Montreux Convention, a 1936 treaty that governs the passage of military vessels through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles, which connect the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

      Under the rules of the treaty, countries that do not have a coastline on the Black Sea are required to provide Turkey with at least 15 days' notice prior to transiting the straits.

      'Prepared to respond'

      A State Department spokesman said, "the United States carries out its activities consistent with the terms of the Montreux Convention. We will not, however, comment on the nature of our diplomatic correspondence with the Government of Turkey."

      Two of the officials said that the notification was to provide the Navy the option to move a warship into the area, but that this option would not necessarily be selected.

      "Our US 6th Fleet is always prepared to respond where called," said Cdr. Kyle Raines, a spokesman for the Fleet, which oversees naval operations in the region.

      "We routinely conduct operations to advance security and stability throughout the US 6th Fleet area of operations to include the international waters and airspace of the Black Sea," Raines told CNN. "We reserve the right to operate freely in accordance with international laws and norms," he added.

      The planning comes amid heightened tensions between Washington and Moscow on a range of issues.

      On Wednesday, the US Navy sailed the guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell near contested waters in the Sea of Japan Wednesday, an action that is bound to irk Russia.

      The US warship conducted what the Navy refers to as a "Freedom of Navigation Operation" to push back against Russian claims on the waters. A spokesman told CNN Wednesday that Moscow lays claim to areas that far exceed the 12 miles from the Russian coastline that is guaranteed by international law.

      The USS "McCampbell sailed in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay to challenge Russia's excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other Nations," US Navy Lt. Rachel McMarr, a spokesperson for the US Pacific Fleet, told CNN in a statement.

      Clash in the Kerch

      Russia engaged in a confrontation on Nov. 25 with Ukrainian vessels around the Kerch Strait, which links the Azov Sea and the Black Sea. Russia rammed and fired on Ukrainian naval vessels, subsequently capturing three ships and detaining 24 service members. Ukraine imposed martial law for 30 days in several regions around the country in response, and has barred entry to male Russian nationals aged 16 to 60 for the duration of the state of emergency.

      Russia's actions and its detention of Ukrainian sailors prompted President Donald Trump to cancel a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 in Argentina.

      "Based on the fact that the ships and sailors have not been returned to Ukraine from Russia, I have decided it would be best for all parties concerned to cancel my previously scheduled meeting in Argentina with President Vladimir Putin," Trump tweeted from Air Force One en route to Argentina.

      'Unacceptable'


      Ukraine says Russia had blocked traffic around the Kerch Strait, but Russia says the passage has been operating as usual, except for weather-related delays.

      Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking at a NATO conference in Brussels Tuesday, said the alliance "will collectively develop set of responses that demonstrate to Russians this behavior is unacceptable."

      Russia has "partially unblocked" Ukraine's ports on the Azov Sea, allowing ship traffic though the Kerch Strait, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan said Tuesday in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

      The last US ship to enter the Black Sea was the fast transport ship USNS Carson City in October. The USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, left the Black Sea at the end of August.

      Under the rules of the Montreux Convention, US ships can only be in the Black Sea for 21 days.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Ukraine Claims Russia Deployed Nuclear Weapon Carriers in Crimea

      UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/AFP Mykhailo Markiv

      Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United Nations Volodymyr Yelchenko revealed on Thursday that Russia has deployed nuclear weapon carriers in Crimea.


      Speaking on a security briefing on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov region, Yelchenko said that Moscow has tightened its military grip over the area, which it illegally annexed back in 2014 amid civil unrest against the Ukranian government.

      The Crimean peninsula separates the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea. The opening in the Black Sea that leads to the Sea of Azov, the Kerch Strait, is where Russian troops illegally rammed and seized three Ukrainian ships in late November, triggering an international outcry.

      “After the Russian Federation occupied Crimea, it has been tightening its military grip over the occupied peninsula. Comparing to the pre-occupation period, Russia has more than doubled its military personnel from 12,500 to over 28,000, and up to 31,500 probably, according to the recent estimations,” Yelchenko said. “Russia has also substantially reinforced and modernized its military land, air, and naval components.”

      “Russian military in Crimea got tanks and anti-aircraft systems, which were not present there before, up to six-seven times more combat vehicles, artillery systems, combat aircraft,” he continued. “These forces are capable of carrying out comprehensive military operations in south-western strategic direction, which includes water and coastal areas, corresponding airspace over the Azov and Black Seas, as well as in the far-operating zone of the Mediterranean.”

      Yelchenko went on to explain how Russia may be preparing for the complete re-nuclearization of Crimea, an idea that would raise alarm among international peacekeepers.

      “Particularly dangerous are the Russian actions, which could lead to re-nuclearization of Crimea,” he said. “The occupation authorities in Crimea are preparing military infrastructure for potential deployment of nuclear weapons, including the refurbishment of the Soviet-era nuclear warheads storage facilities.”

      “Since 2015, the 12th General Directorate of the Russian Military General Staff, which is known to be in charge of the maintenance, transportation, and disposal of nuclear warheads for tactical and ballistic missiles, conducts regular inspections in the occupied Crimea,” he continued. “[Russia] has already deployed in the occupied Crimea carriers and other means capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”

      Some of these weapons include a missile system known as the “Vulkan,” which includes “three submarines, one frigate, and two small missile ships equipped with cruise missiles SU-24 bombers capable of carrying nuclear bombs.”

      Yelchenko’s claims follow a Fox News report this week showing the deployment additional S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries at a Crimean airbase, days after the confrontation between the Russian military and Ukrainian navy ships after they attempted to enter the Sea of Azov. The incident, as well as the continued military build-up, has raised fears that Moscow may be intending to invade Ukraine, although Russian President Vladimir Putin has played down such speculation.

      Putin warned this week of an arms race with the United States after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a 60-day ultimatum for Russia to correct its “material breach” of the joint nuclear treaty signed during the Cold War.

      “Apparently, our American partners believe that the situation has changed so drastically that the U.S. should also have such weapons,” Putin said about the decision. “What response is our side to give? A simple one: then we’ll do the same.”
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      Hungarian Foreign Minister says Budapest to continue to block Ukraine-NATO commission


      By Interfax-Ukraine.


      Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto delivers a statement during the Geneva Conference on Afghanistan, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, on Nov. 28, 2018.
      Photo by AFP


      Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó has said Budapest will continue to block meetings of the Ukraine-NATO commission unless Kyiv takes steps “to restore the rights of the Hungarian community.”

      “Hungary is standing up in support of Ukraine’s territorial unity and independence but is monitoring Ukraine’s minority-affecting politics. Assuring the rights of minorities is part of security and stability.

      Hungary can only withdraw its veto [on the Ukraine-NATO commission’s session] in one case: if the Ukrainians take the required action in the interests of restoring to the Hungarian community living on its territory the rights to which they are due in accordance with bilateral agreements and international law.

      The ball is on Ukraine’s court”, Szijjártó said in a statement on Dec. 4.

      At the same time, the diplomat said, “there is major pressure on us to give up this position.”