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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 169 Comments
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Quote Originally Posted by vector7 View Post
      Obama makes silly video while Merkel and Holland deal with Putin

      Why is this man smiling? Vladimir Putin's curious smirk at the Minsk talks

      Date: February 14, 2015 - 1:42AM

      Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to the media after the peace talks in Minsk, Belarus. Photo: AP

      Explainer: who gets what in Ukraine peace deal
      Leaders agree to Ukraine ceasefire

      The body language said it all. Petro Poroshenko, grim and exhausted, leaned forward imploringly; Vladimir Putin, benevolent and relaxed, smiled a cryptic smile.
      Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko looks on during a press conference after a summit aimed at ending 10 months of fighting in Ukraine.

      Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko looks on during a press conference after a summit aimed at ending 10 months of fighting in Ukraine. Photo: AFP

      The photographs the marathon talks between the leaders of Ukraine and Russia demonstrated which of the two enemies has most cause for confidence about the deal that emerged in Minsk.

      In fairness, Mr Poroshenko did not go like a defenceless lamb into the conference chamber. The last Minsk agreement was negotiated directly between Russia and Ukraine, causing Mr Poroshenko's youthful and stridently nationalistic prime minister to observe: "They will outplay us: that's what they expect."

      This time, Mr Poroshenko avoided the cardinal error of dealing bilaterally with Russia by ensuring that Angela Merkel of Germany and Francois Hollande of France were present to even the scales. None the less the outcome was woefully unbalanced.

      Under the agreement which diplomats now call "Minsk Two", all of Ukraine's obligations are detailed and timetabled. Mr Poroshenko has 30 days to begin granting legal autonomy to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, most of which are now in the hands of pro-Russian insurgents. He must rewrite Ukraine's constitution to formalise the "special status" of this area by the end of this year.

      And Russia? What obligations has Mr Putin agreed to shoulder? By Ukraine's estimate, no less than 9000 Russian troops have been deployed inside its territory: five infantry battalions along with tanks and heavy artillery. While not endorsing those numbers, NATO has confirmed the presence of a sizeable Russian force in Ukraine.

      One clause of the deal states that "foreign armed formations" and "military equipment" must leave Ukraine - but there is no timetable, no deadline and no means of verification, save for a vague line that withdrawal should happen under the "supervision" of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

      Only last month, Mr Poroshenko, flushed with righteous indignation, told an audience in Davos that the path to peace must start with removing "all the foreign troops from my territory". He posed the rhetorical question: "If this is not aggression, what is aggression?"

      Yet Mr Poroshenko has walked away from Minsk without a deadline for the departure of the Russian troops. On the contrary, Mr Putin clings to the shameless pretence that his forces are not even present.

      In an episode of Fawlty Towers, Basil confronts a dodgy Irish builder who has failed to construct a wall. "When will you do the job, O'Reilly?" he asks "When, when, when?" Mr Poroshenko will have demanded to know when exactly Russia will withdraw those troops that do not exist. After Minsk, he still has no answer.

      But the Minsk agreement says that Mr Poroshenko will get his border back only after he has delivered full legal autonomy to Donetsk and Luhansk. Ukraine must fulfil every pledge down to the last comma - only then will Russia concede control of the frontier and, perhaps, withdraw its troops. And that is to make the optimistic assumption that Mr Putin has any intention of keeping this agreement at all.

      The only reason, after all, for the existence of "Minsk Two" is that Mr Putin ignored "Minsk One". Yesterday's agreement amounts to Mr Putin promising once again to keep the pledges that he has already made and broken.

      Perhaps it will be different this time. One plausible argument suggests that Mr Putin has wrung all he wanted from Ukraine. His friendly rebels, stiffened by Russian troops, now control a swathe of the east, including Ukraine's industrial heartland and the lion's share of its coal reserves.

      The question is whether this particular success will satisfy him.

      All that we have to go on is Mr Putin's cryptic smile.

      Telegraph, London
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      zerohedge @zerohedge · 1 min Há 1 minuto

      cbsMcCormick ‏@cbsMcCormick 5m5 minutes ago State Dept: "We are closely monitoring reports of a new column of Russian military equipment moving toward Debaltseve."

      Alex Bukovsky
      · 5m
      Just as BBC reporter is lying
      about outgoing artillery fire from #NAF airport,
      a shell explodes behind him. #Ukraine

      the Lemniscat @theLemniscat · 14m
      What #ceasefire?
      Journalists visit Donetsk airport
      while it's shelled by Ukraine 16/02/15


      Poroschenkos family fled from Kiev

      According to reports of several Ukrainian and Russian newspapers, the whole family of the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has left the Ukraine. Background should be an ultimatum to the right sector at Poroshenko that it "same fate will befall like Gaddafi"...

      Alec Luhn@ASLuhn Follow "The number of attacks on Debaltseve has even increased in comparison to previous days." Monday's Debaltseve dispatch http://gu.com/p/45p3b/stw
      2:56 PM - 16 Feb 2015

      Steiner ‏@Steiner1776 2 min.
      Lifenews reporting #Ukraine regime forces mass surrendering under #Debaltsevo

      Chapter DNR arrived at the position of the militia in the city is surrounded by thousands grouping APU.
      Source: http://lifenews.ru/news/149998
      Debaltseve after returning to civilian life will preserve the role of an important transport hub. This position is shared by the head of the self-proclaimed DNR Alexander Zakharchenko visited militia positions on the outskirts of the city. He stresses that the militias do not violate the ceasefire and act strictly within the Minsk Agreement.

      "Liberation" -- "Ghost" brigade enters Debaltsevo and evacuates 135 civilians
      Battalion Prizrak under command of Aleksey Mozgovoy on February 15, 135 people were taken from the cellars in occupied Debaltseve:


      AJSB ‏@A_J_S_B 2h2 hours ago
      Partial translation to English of latest video w/ some of what #Zakharchenko said to #Ukraine POWs.
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      Escalation boys and girls?
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      I'm more worried about this than ISIS. ISIS needs to be wiped off the world. The Russians and US need to cooperate on this.

      But this will lead to nukes.

      US: 'Proxy War' With Russia Over E. Ukraine Not in World's Interest

      • Cannons of the Ukrainian armed forces are seen at their positions near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 17, 2015.

      ◀ ▶
      < ▶ > 1/8
      ⇱ Disable Captions

      Related Articles

      VOA News
      Last updated on: February 17, 2015 2:43 PM

      The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it was not in the interests of Ukraine or the world to get into a proxy war with Russia over eastern Ukraine, a comment suggesting Washington is hesitant to arm Ukrainian forces.
      “Our belief here in the administration, and I would be surprised if others disagree, is that getting into a proxy war with Russia is not anything that's in the interest of Ukraine or in the interest of the international community,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Reuters. “And certainly, as we weigh options, we weigh that as one of the factors.”
      The U.S. had voiced concerns earlier Tuesday, saying it is "gravely concerned" over the deteriorating situation in and around Debaltseve, where pro-Russian rebels and Ukraine's military are both refusing to pull back their weapons from the strategic eastern Ukrainian town.
      Click to enlarge

      Although the truce deal that went into effect Sunday has led to decreased hostilities elsewhere in the war zone, fighting has intensified in Debaltseve, which is controlled by Kyiv but surrounded by the separatists.
      Senior rebel commander Eduard Basurin said Tuesday separatists had gained control of more than 80 percent of the east Ukrainian railway hub. "A cleanup of the town is underway," he added.
      Kyiv's military denied the town, which had a peacetime population of 25,000 but is now a bombed-out wasteland, had fallen but acknowledged losing control of some of it.
      It also acknowledged some Ukrainian soldiers had been captured in an ambush, but it denied rebel reports that up to 300 had surrendered or been taken prisoner.
      Under the terms of the cease-fire reached last week in Minsk, Belarus, both sides were to begin withdrawing heavy weapons from the flashpoint town on Tuesday. But as the deadline passed, each side insisted they would not be the first to make such a move.
      "As soon as the militants cease fire, the Ukrainian side will begin to withdraw heavy weaponry from the frontline," Ukrainian military spokesman Anatoliy Stelmakh said in televised comments.
      Rebels: 'Moral' right
      Rebel spokesman Denis Pushilin told Reuters the separatists have the "moral" right to defend the city, which he called "internal territory." He also said the rebels were ready for a mutual withdrawal, but will continue to "respond to fire."
      Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, condemned the rebels' increased attacks to take control of Debaltseve, calling it a “cynical attack” on the cease-fire deal brokered in Minsk last week.
      “I appeal to the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to prevent further violations ... and full-scale military operations in the heart of Europe," he said, according to Reuters.
      Poroshenko, in a decree, also set out the timetable for the next rounds of military call-up for the rest of the year for men up to 27 years of age.
      The peace deal and weapons withdrawal are expected to be the focus of a phone call later Tuesday between representatives of the rebels, Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, or OSCE.
      The OSCE has been tasked with monitoring the cease-fire, but so far has been blocked by the rebels from entering Debaltseve.
      Germany on Tuesday said it had agreed with the leaders of Ukraine and Russia to allow the monitors to reach the besieged town.
      At least five Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and nine wounded in fighting, mostly near Debaltseve, over the last 24 hours, a Ukrainian military spokesman said Tuesday.
      On Monday, separatists offered Ukrainian forces safe-passage out of Debaltseve if they laid down their arms. But Ukraine promptly rejected the idea and said the town lies within its territory under the truce negotiated at the four-nation summit in Minsk, Belarus.
      The devastated town has seen major fighting constantly since earlier truce efforts failed last month.
      New sanctions
      Ukraine and a host of Western governments accuse Russia of stoking the rebellion in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east with arms and fighters, while the Kremlin denies providing direct support.
      With those denials flatly rejected by Western governments, the European Union on Monday unveiled a new round of sanctions against Moscow for its widely perceived role in the Ukraine crisis. The new penalties target Russia's deputy defense minister and 18 more individuals with travel bans and asset freezes.
      Russia said it would make an "appropriate response" to the sanctions, while condemning them as "inconsistent and illogical" because they were issued within days of the cease-fire that Russian President Vladimir Putin helped negotiate.
      Russia also asked the U.N. Security Council to vote Tuesday on a draft resolution endorsing the new cease-fire agreement on Ukraine and calling on all parties involved to fully carry it out.
      European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, asked on Tuesday if the peace deal for Ukraine was a failure, said the deal still stands and the EU will insist on its full implementation.
      “We knew from the beginning that it was going to be difficult, fragile, probably not black and white,” Mogherini said. “What we need today is to work and insist for the process to get to a positive outcome. ... We would not leave that option, we would not make it fail.”
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      Ukraine rebels claim 5,000 troops ‘trapped’ in Debaltseve

      Ceasefire fails as Kiev forces and pro-Russian separatists refuse to pull back heavy guns

      • Video
      • Images

      Rebels shoot at Ukrainian positions on outskirts of Debaltseve as shelling continues around the town encircled by pro-Russian separatists despite a ceasefire. Video: Reuters

      Tue, Feb 17, 2015, 20:19
      First published: Tue, Feb 17, 2015, 07:39

      Pro-Russian rebels fought their way into an encircled government stronghold in Ukraine on Tuesday, all but dashing hopes that a new peace deal would end months of conflict.
      The agreement reached at all-night talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk last week appears to be unravelling rapidly, with both sides battling street-to-street and refusing to begin pulling back heavy guns as required.
      The failed ceasefire has left thousands of Ukrainian troops surrounded, their fate uncertain. The rebels said they had captured hundreds of them and would not let the rest escape unless they surrender. Ukraine said some of its troops had been taken prisoner but denied the number captured was that high.

      The Moscow-backed rebels say the ceasefire does not apply at all to the main battle front at the town of Debaltseve, where a railway hub has seen an all-out assault.
      The fighting meant both sides spurned a deadline on Tuesday to being withdrawing heavy guns from the frontline. Kiev says it cannot pull guns back as long as the rebels show no sign of halting their advance.
      Reuters journalists near the snowbound frontline said artillery rounds rocked Debaltseve every five seconds and black smoke rose skywards as Grad rockets pounded the town.
      “Eighty percent of Debaltseve is already ours,“ said Eduard Basurin, a rebel leader. “A cleanup of the town is under way.“
      He later said negotiations were under way for 5,000 Ukrainian troops trapped in the town to surrender. “Hundreds“ had been captured and would eventually be released to their families.
      Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko called the rebel assault on the town a cynical attack on the Minsk agreement.
      Kiev‘s military denied the town, which had a peacetime population of 25,000 and is now a bombed-out wasteland, had fallen, but acknowledged losing control of some of it. Some Ukrainian soldiers had been captured, it said, but not hundreds.
      Nato and Kiev say the rebel military operation to take Debaltseve is being carried out with the assistance of tanks, artillery and soldiers from Russia‘s army.
      Moscow denies that it has sent its forces to participate in battle for territory that president Vladimir Putin has referred to as “New Russia“.
      Washington said it was “gravely concerned“ by the fighting at Debaltseve and was monitoring reports of a new column of Russian military equipment heading to the area.
      The United States has been considering sending weapons to aid Kiev, although the State Department said on Tuesday getting into a proxy war with Russia was not in the interests of Ukraine or the world.
      EU foreign policy chief Francesca Mogherini said Tuesday‘s battles were “not encouraging“ but she had not abandoned hope for the ceasefire.
      “As long as there is a signed deal to which the parties still refer as something that needs to be implemented, I will not say that there is a failure,” she said.
      Hopes that the deal reached last Thursday would end a conflict that has killed more than 5,000 people were always low after a rebel advance in January ended an earlier truce.
      But Western countries appear to have been taken by surprise that the rebels refused even to pay lip service to the ceasefire at Debaltseve, adding to concerns the separatists and Mr Putin want to cement rebel gains before allowing any peace to take hold.
      Russia has already annexed Ukraine‘s Crimea peninsula, and Western countries believe Mr Putin‘s goal is to establish a “frozen conflict“ in eastern Ukraine, gaining permanent leverage over a country of 45 million people seeking integration with Europe.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Armed Research @ArmedResearch · 4m
      #NAF South Ossetian volunteers
      claim to have captured an Azov KRAZ
      outside #Mariupol.
      (Google translate)

      Volunteers from South Ossetia
      captured rich booty Battalion "Azov"
      under Mariupol (photo)

      02/17/2015 - 17:31

      Volunteer Ossetia announces a daring attack on one of the bases of the
      punitive battalion "Azov", the result of which was captured by the new
      armored vehicles and a large number of weapons.

      "Peace is not. Somewhere and now on the front of Bach. Yesterday barely
      crawled. 3:00 head does not raise only "city" did not work for us, but then I
      realized the error - my phone, and two more were included. Killed on all
      sides, and their own, and others'. Two of my prisoner were miraculously
      bounced ...

      Day of the absurd was the square of 500 by 500 laid down more than 100
      mines and shells, no scratches guys. Further more, began the most fun, but
      it does not tell ... .mog to tell, still would not believe ... I could have told
      him, too, would not have believed.

      It was absurd, absurd, and will remain, but the machine from us! Vaunted
      "Azov" ... guys, of course, bagged, and the spirit of many of them have,
      but as always betrayed and sold. ... Their government, generals,
      commanders. Although they are enemies, but the guys and there are noble
      and normal, but that day luck was with us. "

      Ruthen ‏@RutheniaRus Feb 7
      AZOV received 6 KRAZ 'Spartan' APC
      fitted with 'Sarmat' Autonomous Turret.
      Go to #Mariupol.

      via @tombreadley

      The EU has broken its taboo
      on referring to Russian forces in east Ukraine,
      in its official documents.

      By Andrew Rettman
      BRUSSELS, Today, 20:36 The EU has broken its taboo on referring to
      Russian forces in east Ukraine in its official documents.

      It said in its Official Journal on Monday (16 February) that Russian deputy
      defence minister Anatoly Antonov is being added to its blacklist because he
      is “involved in supporting the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine”.

      It listed first deputy defence minister Arkady Bakhin for the same reason.

      It also listed Andrei Kartapolov, a senior Russian military commander, for
      being “involved in shaping and implementing the military campaign of the
      Russian forces in Ukraine”.

      The text in the legal gazette was signed off by EU foreign relations chief
      Federica Mogherini, who has, until now, with the exception of Russia-
      annexed Crimea, studiously avoided any reference to Russian armed forces
      being active in Ukraine.

      The last time EU foreign ministers published a formal statement on the
      conflict, on 29 January, they also used circumlocutions, speaking of:
      “evidence of continued and growing support given to the separatists by
      Russia, which underlines Russia's responsibility”.

      They added that “foreign armed groups” should leave Ukrainian territory.

      Individual EU officials, such as Council chief Donald Tusk, have been more
      hawkish in off-the-cuff remarks.

      Ukraine, the US, and Nato have been speaking of Russian forces in Ukraine
      since last July. Nato and the US have also declassified and published
      satellite pictures to back up their statements.

      The US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, posted more images online
      last weekend, saying they show "Russian military, not separatist, systems”.

      But the erstwhile EU taboo went higher than minister level.

      When French, German, Russian, and Ukrainian leaders agreed a ceasefire
      plan in Minsk last Thursday, they also bowed to Russia’s claim its soldiers
      aren’t in Ukraine, by calling for withdrawal of “foreign armed formations”.

      When leaders of the G7 wealthy nations the following day published a
      statement urging Russia to comply with the Minsk accord, they too spoke of
      “Russian-backed separatist militias”.

      For her part, Mogherini’s spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, told EUobserver
      the language in the Official Journal is not an accident.

      She noted it reflects “mounting evidence, underlining Russia’s
      responsibility” for the conflict, as discussed by foreign ministers on 29

      One piece of evidence is a classified report on Russian activity in Ukraine
      compiled by Mogherini’s intelligence-sharing branch, IntCen, and circulated
      to capitals ahead of the 29 January meeting.

      An EU diplomat, who asked not to be named, noted: "This new form of
      Russian warfare - using tanks and soldiers without insignia - is something
      we haven't seen before. We're still trying to work out how to respond to it".

      A second EU diplomat added: “It [the latest Official Journal text] is a clear
      and understandable message against Russian propaganda and all the lies
      about non-Russian engagement in the military conflict”.

      Russia’s claim it isn’t involved in east Ukraine is central to its propaganda
      message: that the conflict is a “civil war” between Ukrainian nationalists
      and ethnic Russian “separatists”.

      But the 16 February Official Journal, which also listed nine entities,
      highlighted the manufactured nature of the “separatism”.

      Most of the entities are battalions of Russia’s irregular fighters in Ukraine.

      But one of them is “Novorossiya”, a Russian “public movement” named
      after the Kremlin concept that east and south-east Ukraine, or “New
      Russia”, belong to Russia on ancestral grounds.

      The Official Journal noted that Novorossiya is run by Igor Strelkov, who is
      already on an EU blacklist for organising the initial insurgency in Donetsk,
      east Ukraine, last March.

      The EU gazette says he is a “Russian officer … identified as a staff member
      of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed
      Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU)”.


      Putin, Merkel Discuss Donbas Situation,
      OSCE Mission Role With Poroshenko

      01:28 17.02.2015(updated 01:45 17.02.2015)

      Russian President, his Ukrainian counterpart and German Chancellor
      held telephone talks discussing the situation in southeastern Ukraine.

      MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The leaders of Russia, Germany and Ukraine have
      held telephone talks discussing the situation in southeastern Ukraine
      (Donbas) and the role of the Organization for Security and Co-operation
      (OSCE) in ensuring that the Minsk ceasefire agreements are fulfilled.

      "The issues pertaining to the ceasefire, the withdrawal of heavy weaponry
      by the conflicting sides, as well as the situation in the region of the city of
      Debaltsevo were touched upon [during the telephone talks]," the Kremlin
      press service informed early Tuesday night.

      According to the press service, Russian President Vladimir Putin, his
      Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela
      Merkel also exchanged their views on the role of the OSCE Special
      Monitoring Mission (SMM) in the Ukraine peace process.

      Also Putin, his Ukrainian counterpart and Merkel have agreed to maintain
      contact in various formats in order for the Minsk agreements on Ukraine to
      be implemented.

      "It has been agreed to continue to maintain contact with the aim of
      contributing to the fulfilment of the Minsk agreements," the Kremlin press
      service said.

      Last week, the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine held
      Normandy format talks, which led to a ceasefire agreement between Kiev
      forces and independence fighters in southeastern Ukraine.


      Mark Knoller @markknoller · 2h
      Ending 3 days of golf,
      Pres Obama boards AF-1 leaving PSP where it's 77° for DC where it's 16°.

      "Our HQ has fled, we are facing annihilation"
      --Junta battalion commander's frantic call on live TV


      90% of Debaltsevo captured, we can’t communicate with our HQ”
      —Ukrainian fighter [video at the link]
      Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

      Ukrainian troops are holding defense in strongpoints in the vicinity of Debaltsevo.
      There is street fighting in the city against Russian soldiers [sic] and Kadyrovites [sic].

      This is what “Gross,” the deputy commander of the 25th Kievan Rus battalion, which
      is located near Debaltsevo, said during a phone call broadcast live by the TV news
      channel 24.

      “There is street fighting in Debaltsevo. The enemy is using Russian Federation [sic]
      special operations units and Kadyrovites [sic] to storm Debaltsevo. They control 90%
      of it. Our forces are defending strongpoints. The sector HQ and the sector commander
      have abandoned us, they do not control the situation, they don’t know where are troops
      are,” said “Gross.”

      He noted that his troops need immediate help. They tried to reach the General Staff
      several times, but there has been no reaction.

      “Our troops are facing annihilation,” said the deputy battalion commander.

      “They are searching for the sector commander. Nobody knows where he is,”
      he added.

      We note that earlier the General Staff announced there is fighting in the streets of
      Debaltsevo, and that the terrorists [sic] are not allowing OSCE observers to reach
      the town. Part of the town was captured by the bandits [sic].

      The counter-terrorist [sic] operation HQ spokesperson Anatoliy Stelmakh said that
      the militants [sic] have captured several buildings in Debaltsevo.

      J.Hawk’s Comment: This is a report from Newsdaily.com.ua,
      which is a Kiev junta-supporting Ukrainian news outlet.

      The magnitude of the Debaltsevo Debacle is becoming more obvious
      with every passing minute…

      The “sector commander” referred to in the report
      is in fact the commander of the entire Debaltsevo grouping,
      since that was one of the sectors of the front facing Novorossia,
      in other words, a fairly senior officer who is now nowhere to be found.

      Putin mocks #Ukraine, says losing always painful, especially to militia of "miners & truck drivers" - @willmauldin pic.twitter.com/7icbFsIMEE

      Conflict News@rConflictNews 49mPutin: “To lose is always painful. It’s a hardship especially when you lose to yesterday’s miners and tractor drivers. But life is life."

      captured soldiers Chernukhino [link to www.liveleak.com]

      BREAKING: Large explosion heard in #Odessa #Ukraine - Witness -

      Tomasz Maciejczuk @TomekMaciejczuk · 2 min. 2 minuty temu

      Introducing the Martial Law must be accepted by Poroshenko and then by UA parliament.

      [link to www.youtube.com (secure)]

      "On Wednesday, February 18, at 18:00 Moscow time in Ukraine may
      be placed under martial law, said on his page on
      Twitter volunteer Alina Mikhailova."

      Picture translated with: [link to www.newocr.com]

      marqs @MarQs__
      Confirmed that IMF agreed on give money to #Ukraine in case of martial law! This is important, a matter of time now i guess!

      Ukrainians must be prepared for martial law - MIA

      Photo: President's press office

      Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has warned that, if peace is not brought about in Ukraine, nationwide martial law will be introduced.

      «I warned at a meeting of the Ukrainian Cabinet of ministers even before Minsk that, if there is no peace, we would have to make a very hard but necessary decision on imposing martial law. I stress once again: in this case martial law will be imposed not only on Donetsk and Luhansk but also on the entire country,» Poroshenko said at a ceremony of delivering equipment to Ukrainian border guards in Kyiv on Saturday.

      The president said that having analyzed the legislation on martial law, he will introduce to the Verkhovna Rada the amendments to the legislation that will allow more efficient defense of the state, in case that the peace is not established.

      «First of all, we will rely on ourselves and will coordinate our actions with our partners and friends,» he said.
      Source: Interfax-Ukraine

      Fights in Chernukhine, todays reportage:

      Street gunfight, Debaltsevo:

      [link to www.youtube.com (secure)]

      johnny peterson @JPexsquaddie 9m


    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      It appears that several thousand Ukrainian soldiers are running.

      Russians "rebel" forces walked in and killed dozens of soldiers, using "sophisticated" Russian weapons.

      It appears Putin has ordered taking of this town.

      Putin is saying "Kiev should allow the soldiers to surrender and then leave the town".

      In other words, Putin ordered this.

      We (the US) has done almost nothing at all. The WORLD has done almost nothing at all. Now we're all sitting around waiting and watching.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Putin: Lay Down Your Weapons and Surrender

      • 20 hours ago February 18, 2015 9:27AM

      Surrounded ... Ukrainian forces vehicles are seen parked on a road between Artemivsk and Debaltseve, Donetsk region, at the weekend. The city is now surrounded by pro-Moscow forces. Source: AFP Source: AFP

      UKRAINE’S army is on the brink of a major defeat as Russian-backed separatists rebound refreshed from a short ceasefire to encircle the defenders of a key city.

      Russian President Vladimir Putin overnight demanded the Kiev government tell its soldiers in the city of Debaltseve to lay down their weapons and surrender to pro-Moscow rebels.

      “I hope that the Ukrainian authorities are not going to prevent the Ukrainian soldiers from laying down their weapons,” Putin said in a press conference in Budapest.
      NEW VIDEO: Russian backed Separatists fighting inside #Debaltseve - @raging545 https://t.co/YiB8GCdJo1 pic.twitter.com/ZtVeCPGzDI
      — Conflict News (@rConflictNews) February 17, 2015
      Putin went on to say the Ukraine conflict could not be solved by “military means”, though the loss of the central rail-hub city would be a devastating blow to Ukrainian infrastructure and communications.
      The UN Security Council responded by calling for an immediate end to Ukraine hostilities.

      Smoke, snow and mirrors ... Ukrainian servicemen ride on a tank along a road from Artemivsk to Debaltseve after pro-Moscow forces breached a ceasefire agreement and attacked the city. Source: AFP Source: AFP


      Ukraine on Tuesday accused rebels and Russia of scuppering a fragile three-day-old ceasefire after insurgents stormed the flashpoint town and engaged thousands of troops in intense combat.
      Heavy artillery fire had been directed at the defenders to remove any opportunity to organise a defence.

      Fierce fighting is now raging in the streets of Debaltseve, a strategic railway hub between the main rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Lugansk.
      #BreakingPicture Abandoned Ukrainian defense base in S-E #Debaltseve. All armored vehicles left behind. pic.twitter.com/O6FlJjOKWD
      — Conflict Reporter (@Conflict_Report) February 17, 2015

      Ilya Kiva, a deputy regional police chief inside the town, said the rebels had entered Debaltseve and were using small arms, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.
      “There are wounded and killed, but we cannot confirm the numbers yet as the battles are still continuing,” Kiva said.

      Ukraine military spokesman Alexander Motuzyanik said: “Battles are going on right now with rebels storming our positions. Groups of rebel fighters are penetrating into the town itself.”
      WAR ZONE: What life is really like in Ukraine
      “The hopes of the world for peace are being destroyed,” the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, Valeriy Chaly, told a news conference in Kiev.

      “Russia and the DNR (the rebels’ self-styled breakaway Donetsk republic) are not abiding by the agreement” underpinning the truce, he said, warning that the situation was careening towards “further escalation”.

      VIDEO Large Russian battlegroup 10 T-72B3 tanks in #Makeevka +16 other vehics https://t.co/QwbypfqUKb pic.twitter.com/JwDUXdicl4 via @raging545
      — Ukraine@war (@DajeyPetros) February 17, 2015
      “Street battles are continuing and the rebels are attacking the town in groups with support from artillery and heavy armour,” the Ukraine defence ministry said in a statement. “Part of the town has been captured by the bandits.”

      A defence spokesman, Anatoliy Stelmakh, told AFP that “several (army) units were surrounded” and some soldiers were captured but did not give figures.

      Rebels quoted by Russian-language news agencies said their forces had entered from the east and the north, and killed “many” Ukrainian soldiers in a “mopping up” operation in the town. They said they were in control of the railway station.

      The pro-Moscow separatists reportedly said their fighters rushed in from the north and the east of Debaltseve and had seized its vital railway station.

      Many Ukrainian troops were killed and taken prisoner, they claimed. Some 80 per cent of the town was now in rebel hands, the “defence minister” of the separatist Donetsk republic, Vladimir Kononov, told Russian news outlet LifeNews.

      Winter war .. A man of Ukrainian forces sleeps at their position not far from Debaltseve, Donetsk region. Source: AFP Source: AFP


      Rebel commander Vladimir Kononov echoed President Putin’s surrender call on Russian television. He insisted that most of Debaltseve was under his control.
      “Their only choice is to leave behind weaponry, lay down arms, and surrender,” he said.

      The commander insisted that his troops were complying with the ceasefire, which did not include the city of Debaltseve.

      The rebels claim they have entirely surrounded the city and so it should be considered part of their territory and therefore, not covered by the ceasefire.
      It is totally unacceptable that separatist leaders claim that ceasefire did not apply to #Debaltseve - @LyallGrant #Ukraine
      — UKUN_NewYork (@UKUN_NewYork) February 17, 2015
      But Kiev argues its army was holding the town, which is enclaved in rebel-held territory, and that all hostilities there should have stopped as with the rest of the front line.

      Another rebel commander, Igor Plotnitsky, told Russian news agency Tass: “I was at the front line last night, and our tanks, our artillery were pulling back.” He said that he “expects the same from Ukraine.”

      Terrible toll ... A part of a destroyed Ukrainian Army tank sits outside Uglegorsk, 6km southwest of Debaltseve. Source: AFP Source: AFP


      The truce was agreed by Kiev and the rebels last week after painstaking peace talks in Belarus between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France.

      Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of deploying troops, tanks and missiles to support the separatists in the 10-month conflict that has killed more than 5,660 people. Moscow denies that and describes the Russian fighters seen in Ukraine as “volunteers”.

      Ukraine’s representative to the UN in Geneva, Yuriy Klymenko, said a “so-called humanitarian” convoy of 176 Russian trucks crossed into Ukraine on Sunday and many of them were believed to be carrying cargo such as fuel for “Russian-provided tanks” in preparation for the fresh assault.
      While Ukrainian artillery is silent. Russian spetsnaz has taken parts of #Debaltseve during the Minsk #ceasefire pic.twitter.com/ZFJmJaLe8T
      — NATO UKROP (@ZombieTVonline) February 17, 2015

      The violence in Debaltseve has unsettled world powers and agencies. The US expressed “serious concern” while a UN official in Geneva, Rupert Colville, said: “We are alarmed.” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the situation in Ukraine was “not encouraging” but “I would not say there is a failure” yet of the peace deal.

      She said “we knew from the beginning that it was going to be difficult, fragile,” but the Russians and separatists know that “it’s all the international community looking for the implementation of these agreements”.
      The UN Security Council was to hold a meeting today at Russia’s request

      Winter wasteland ... A pro-Russian separatist fighter stands in Uglegorsk, 6 km southwest of Debaltseve. Source: AFP Source: AFP


      Ukrainian officials denied the rebels’ casualty claim, but admitted troops in a supply convoy on Monday were captured. They previously said 10 soldiers had been killed since the start of the truce on Sunday, several of them in or around Debaltseve.

      Russia and the rebels claim some 8000 Ukrainian soldiers are in the key town. An estimated 5000 civilians are also trapped there, cowering in cellars with little food or water.

      Ilya Kiva, a Kiev-loyal deputy regional police chief inside the town reached by telephone, said the fighting precluded counting of dead and wounded. He said the soldiers “are waging a fierce battle; the battle for the city continues”.

      Up until Tuesday, the heavily armed rebels had surrounded Debaltseve and had been pounding it with rockets and mortars.

      The separatists blocked access to the town to journalists and monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) seeking to enter to verify conditions.

      Tuesday’s combat dealt a harsh blow to the shaky, European-mediated ceasefire. Both sides have refused to pull back their heavy weapons along the frontline in Ukraine’s east because of what each said was violations of the truce by the other.

      Reinforcements ... A convoy of Ukrainian forces drives to Debaltseve at the weekend. Reports are that the Ukrainian forces within that city have now been surrounded. Source: AFP Source: AFP


      The development severely undermined an already shaky European-brokered ceasefire that came into effect across eastern Ukraine on Sunday.

      The second step of that truce was meant to see the warring sides move their heavy weapons back from the front line from Tuesday. But Kiev and the rebels accused each other of repeated violations that prevented that happening.

      The US and Germany had called for a stop to the hostilities and urged free access for OSCE monitors who have been blocked from entering Debaltseve.
      #UNSC unanimously adopts resolution endorsing #Minsk Agreements. Calls on all parties for full implementation, inc. comprehensive ceasefire.
      — UN Political Affairs (@UN_DPA) February 17, 2015
      “The United States is gravely concerned by the deteriorating situation in and around Debaltseve in eastern Ukraine,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement issued before the street-to-street fighting broke out.

      Ukraine and the West say Russia is fomenting the insurgency, ordering in troops and tanks in a similar operation that preceded the annexation of Crimea last year. Moscow denies the allegation and says Russian fighters seen in east Ukraine are “volunteers”.

      On Monday, the EU ratcheted up its sanctions against Russia by black-listing five Russians, including two deputy defence ministers, along with 14 Ukrainian rebel figures. Russia vowed it would respond to the “illogical” move.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Horrific Images Capture The Sheer Brutality Of War In Ukraine

      Photographer Max Avdeev embeds with the rebel fighters known as the First Slavyansk Brigade in Logvinove, Ukraine, to capture the horrific sights of conflict for BuzzFeed News. Warning: Several of the images in this gallery are NSFW and extremely graphic.
      posted on Feb. 17, 2015, at 2:49 p.m. BuzzFeed News Foreign Correspondent

      LOGVINOVE, Ukraine — When Russian-backed rebels went on the offensive in east Ukraine a month ago, the focal point of the clashes quickly switched to Debaltseve, a strategically key rail junction linking their two unsanctioned states. For weeks, Ukraine’s government denied rebel claims to have the town surrounded, even as artillery fire prompted most civilians to flee, killed hundreds, and destroyed the town beyond recognition.
      On Tuesday, however, rebels seized most of the town and took several Ukrainian soldiers captive. A catastrophic defeat is now all but inevitable. In the days preceding their victory, photographer Max Avdeev embedded with the First Slavyansk Brigade of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in the nearby town of Logvinove. The rebels had just seized the town, cutting Debaltseve off from the last road leading to Ukrainian territory. The soldiers were mostly local volunteers, though their commanding officers were Russian — as were the men who delivered them tanks and artillery. As the deadline for a new cease-fire deal came and went overnight on Sunday, the rebels kept on shelling Debaltseve.
      “We let them out once, and now they’ve come back to fight with us again. We told them to surrender in Debaltseve, but they didn’t. Now we’re not going to let anyone out,” said Sergei, a rebel commander whose nom de guerre is “Kunduz.”
      “As soon as our enemy started to run out of breath, suddenly it’s time for peace, we lay down our weapons?” he added. “Did our comrades die for nothing?”
      Warning: Several of the following images are NSFW and extremely graphic.

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News

      Max Avdeev for BuzzFeed News
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Inside Rebel-Held Uglegorsk: Russian Roulette (Dispatch 94)

      Vicenews on the Donetsk airport:

      Short video from Debaltsevoa area:

      Ukraine: Snipers target police in Independence Square


      Published on Feb 20, 2014
      Anti-government forces armed with hunting rifles took up sniper positions in a downtown Kiev hotel on Thursday, overlooking protesters and police clashing in Maidan Square below. Police marksmen targeted gunmen appearing in the windows as the two groups exchanged live fire.

      Dozens of killed and injured people crowded the lobbies of hotels around the square as temporary triage centres struggled to deal with casualties. At least 30 people are reported dead, including one medic.

      [eng subs] (18+) UAF squad surrenders at Debaltsevo 17/02/15

      Ukraine: HEARTLESS! Protesters challenge Kiev's economics

      Did CNN juts annex Ukraine for Russia?

      Steiner ‏@Steiner1776 29 min.
      *Graphic* Knocked out #Ukraine regime position & convoy in #Debaltsevo pocket via @FPaidinfull

      Graham Philips near Debaltseve ... almost hit

      Gleb Bazov @gbazov · 12m

      #NAF estimates trophies:
      over 80 tanks (2 tank batt.;
      over 100 APCs;
      50 arty systems (122 & 152mm);
      15 Grads;
      500 tons ammo.

      Alex Bukovsky @BungeeWedgie · 57m
      #NATO fighters intercepting a #Russia bomber
      were intercepted themselves by SU-35

    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      Alert.... Russians at it again.

      Britain Says It Sent Warplanes to Intercept Russian Bombers Off Cornwall



      A Russian bomber photographed from a Royal Air Force plane off the coast of Britain in October 2014. A new episode this week magnified concerns that Russia sought to test NATO. Credit Sac Robyn Stewart/British Ministry of Defence, via European Pressphoto Agency

      LONDON — The British Royal Air Force scrambled warplanes to intercept two Russian bombers off the coast of Cornwall in southwest England, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday, as a government minister sounded alarms about the Kremlin’s intentions elsewhere in Europe.

      The episode magnified concerns about the possibility of further moves by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia that could draw in the NATO alliance after advances by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

      Typhoon warplanes took off from an air base in eastern England and escorted the two Russian airplanes in international airspace “until they were out of the U.K. area of interest,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement. The encounter happened on Wednesday.
      “At no time did the Russian military aircraft cross into U.K. sovereign airspace,” the statement said. During the Cold War, Russian bombers routinely tested Western defenses by flying toward the coast, and there have been reports that the practice has been resumed as tensions have mounted over the conflict in Ukraine.
      The number of intercepts of Russian military aircraft approaching Western airspace has tripled compared with 2013, British researchers said in November, citing NATO officials.
      “I suspect what’s happening here is that the Russians are trying to make some sort of a point,” Prime Minister David Cameron said during a visit to eastern England, “and I don’t think we should dignify it with too much of a response.”
      The Russian flights came as Britain’s defense minister, Michael Fallon, said that Mr. Putin could replicate the tactics used in Ukraine on the Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, former Soviet bloc countries that are now members of NATO.
      “NATO has to be ready for any kind of aggression from Russia, whatever form it takes. NATO is getting ready,” Mr. Fallon said, adding that he was worried about Mr. Putin exerting “pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing NATO.”
      “You have tanks and armor rolling across the Ukrainian border and you have an Estonian border guard being captured and not yet still returned,” Mr. Fallon told reporters from The Times of London and The Daily Telegraph traveling with him on a visit to Sierra Leone.
      Mr. Fallon also recalled an earlier intercept over the English Channel between Britain and France.
      Mr. Putin “flew two Russian bombers down the English Channel two weeks ago.”
      “We had to scramble jets very quickly to see them off,” Mr. Fallon continued. “It’s the first time since the height of the Cold War, it’s the first time that’s happened.”
      “That just shows you, you need to respond, each time he does something like that, you need to be ready to respond,” he said.
      “When you have jets being flown up the English Channel, when you have submarines in the North Sea, it looks to me like it’s warming up,” he said.
      Mr. Fallon described Mr. Putin’s strategy as “a very real and present danger.”
      “He was testing NATO all last year, if you look at the number of flights and the maritime activity,” he continued.
      Mr. Fallon was also said to have asserted that Mr. Putin “is as great a threat to Europe as Islamic State,” a reference to militants fighting to establish a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
      In Moscow, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Russia would seek a way to respond to Mr. Fallon’s “absolutely unacceptable” remarks, which had gone beyond “diplomatic ethics,” Reuters reported.
      After the earlier flights over the English Channel, the British government summoned the Russian ambassador to demand an explanation.
      Russian military planes flying near British airspace caused “disruption to civil aviation,” the British Foreign Office said at the time, calling the maneuvers “part of an increasing pattern of out-of-area operations” by Russia.
      Dismissing Britain’s concerns, the Russian ambassador said the patrols were routine.
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      Russian bombers testing the RAF hark back to cold war for Putin and the west

      Tensions grow across Europe as Russian president exploits divides in Nato and EU in his efforts for paternalistic world order that rejects western ‘weakness’

      Russian president Vladimir Putin meets members of veterans’ organisations outside Moscow on Sunday. His relationship with the west is becoming increasingly fraught. Photograph: Ria Novosti/Reuters
      Simon Tisdall

      The sight of Russian long-range nuclear bombers testing the RAF in the skies off Cornwall has brought home the perils faced daily by the inhabitants of eastern Ukraine and reignited inflammatory talk of a new cold war with Russia.

      Against a background of overt and tacit threats to former satellite states, tit-for-tat spy expulsions, high-risk military games of chicken, gas supply cut-offs, and angry diplomatic exchanges, it seems the west is rapidly rewinding to the bad old days of confrontation with Soviet Russia.

      And as the Ukraine ceasefire appears to unravel, the question on the lips of every western leader, army general, business analyst and spy chief is: what does Vladimir Putin want?

      The Russian president’s apparent bad faith in honouring the Minsk peace accord is seen as part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that has raised tensions across Europe. Russia’s armed forces, both nuclear and conventional, are formidable, and have global reach.

      Despite the falling oil price, sharp devaluation of the rouble and western economic sanctions, Putin continues, undeterred, to spend heavily on Russia’s military and its nuclear weapons arsenal. The country’s 2014 military budget was about $70bn, with only the US and China spending more. It is set to rise this year to $84bn.

      Russia’s navy comprises the Northern Fleet, based at Murmansk, the Baltic Fleet, Black Sea Fleet, Caspian Flotilla, and Pacific Fleet, while the army, partly based on conscription, is believed to number about 300,000 men – Britain’s army totals about 86,000.
      American estimates suggest Russia has approximately 1,500 deployed strategic nuclear warheads, plus more than 1,000 in reserve. It can also deploy 2,000 tactical nuclear warheads. Missile system platforms included land-based silos, submarines, and air-launched warheads.
      Of particular alarm to analysts is Russia’s development of new nuclear-armed cruise missiles​ and long-range submarines​ as 1980s arms control treaties expire. So-called close encounters with Russia’s conventional military have grown exponentially in the past year, from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean.

      ​Russia’s air force, of particular concern to Britain, comprises 38 advanced fighter squadrons, including MiG29s, 15 Su-24 bomber squadrons​ and 14 assault squadrons, plus other assets.

      David Cameron, criticised for his silence over Russia’s actions, is now showing increased urgency. He waded in on Wednesday after it became clear the Moscow-armed separatists had Ukraine’s army on the run. “We must not allow people to cause instability and bully their neighbours,” he said.

      ​Defence secretary Michael Fallon went further. He warned that the Baltic republics – Nato members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – could be next. “Nato has to be ready for any kind of aggression from Russia, whatever form it takes. Nato is getting ready,” Fallon said.

      ​This all seems slightly hysterical. Looked at from Putin’s perspective, Russia is more ​attacked than aggressor. His narrative of national victimhood begins in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent “tragic” implosion of the Soviet Union.

      Argument still rages over whether the then US secretary of state James Baker promised President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not enlarge up to Russia’s borders. Whatever people say now, Putin insists the promise was made – and cynically broken.
      ​In Putin’s mind, Nato’s expansion is matched by EU enlargement into central and eastern Europe, which he views as little more than another American-inspired attempt to deny Russia its traditional spheres of influence in its “near abroad”.
      Putin’s grievances, real and imagined, include overbearing US militarism in the Middle East, notably in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, and in its crude attempts to dictate the future of Syria and Iran.
      Western domination of global political and economic forums such as the UN security council and the G7 have led him to alternative international structures such as the Eurasian Economic ​Union and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
      Putin is actively building bilateral ties with China, including big oil and gas export deals, as a way of off-setting US influence and reducing Russia’s dependency on European energy markets.
      ​ Yet Putin is not merely reactive and pragmatic. He is, equally, an opportunist and an ideologue – a passionate, patriotic Russian nationalist, fiercely proud of the Motherland (the beloved Rodina) and determined to restore lost greatness. It is this sense of mission that makes him truly dangerous and unpredictable.
      But it is Putin’s belief in western, especially American weakness – even moral decadence – that is perhaps most threatening of all.
      Peering out from his Kremlin perch, Putin sees a European continent divided between wealthy and poor countries, between north and south, and senses an opportunity. He sees a Nato alliance similarly riven yet, like the EU, united in its wish to avoid an open fight with Russia.
      He sees a risk-averse US president who, his many domestic critics say, has abandoned America’s global leadership role. He sees, in the end of the American unipolar moment, a chance to forge a Bush-ian new world order conformable to his authoritarian, paternalistic philosophy.
      Putin sees himself, above all, as a muscular champion and guardian of traditional, patriotic and national values and of familial, religious and sexual orthodoxy. The legacy he draws on is neither Soviet nor Marxist-Leninist, but imperial. What Putin wants is power and pre-eminence, personal and national.
      In Russia, a tsar is born.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Babay ‏@Truth_Seeker_11 · 10 min.
      #UK jets flash their missiles at russian bear bomber during routine flight in international waters [link to www.youtube.com (secure)] …

      Destroyed position of 128th brigade in the area of Debaltsevo:

      Ukraine: Anti-Kiev forces take control of Chernukhino

      Reportage from destroyed postition of Kiev forces:

      Village of #Chernukhino after #NAF forces liberated the settlement

      In Chernukhin hoisted the flag of New Russia. Chernukhin in hands of militia

      Chernukhin Today - How to Destroy Ukrainian Flag

      Transcript: “It’s perfectly simple. You need to kill 1.5 million people in Donbass”

      Translated from Ukrainian by Valentina Lisitsa

      Bogdan Boutkevitch: Ok, you ask me “How can this be happening?” Well, it happens because Donbass, in general, is not simply a region in a very depressed condition, it has got a whole number of problems, the biggest of which is that it is severely overpopulated with people nobody has any use for. Trust me I know perfectly well what I am saying.

      If we take, for example, just the Donetsk oblast, there are approximately 4 million inhabitants, at least 1.5 million of which are superfluous. That’s what I mean: we don’t need to [try to] “understand” Donbass, we need to understand Ukrainian national interests.

      Donbass must be exploited as a resource, which it is. I don’t claim to have a quick solution recipe, but the most important thing that must be done – no matter how cruel it may sound – is that there is a certain category of people that must be exterminated.<50% [link to slavyangrad.org]

      Hromadske.TV (Ukrainian: translated "Public TV") is an Internet television station in Ukraine that started to operate on 22 November 2013. The project was announced in June 2013 by 15 journalists. It is registered as an NGO.

      ..The station is publicly funded and has a bank account (Privat Bank) posted on its website. Individual contributions in 2013 amounted to over 1.1 million Ukrainian hryvnias, and almost 1.5 million in the first quarter of 2014.

      According to their own interim financial reports, Hromadske TV was funded in 2013 by the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands (793,089 Ukrainian hryvnias, ), the Embassy of the United States of America (399,650 ) and by George Soros International Renaissance Foundation (247,860). By April 2014, Hromadske TV had received another 287,898 from the United States Embassy in Kyiv, 207, from auction organized by 'Dukat' (the Auction House) and 1,408,324 from individual contributors. [link to en.wikipedia.org]

      DPR Troops gather American Arms, Munitions after Ukrainian retreat from Donestk Airport (Subtitles)

    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      Russia 'danger' to Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - Fallon

      Nato must be ready for aggression in "whatever form" said Michael Fallon

      There is a "real and present danger" of Russia trying to destabilise the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, the UK defence secretary says.

      Michael Fallon said he was worried about "pressure" from Russian President Vladimir Putin on the ex-Soviet states, which are Nato members.

      Russia might use tactics there similar to those it used in Ukraine, he said.

      Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander told the BBC he too had "very real concerns" about the situation.

      Mr Fallon's comments came after PM David Cameron called on Europe to tell Russia it faced economic and financial consequences for "many years to come" if it did not stop destabilising Ukraine.

      Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence has said RAF jets were scrambled on Wednesday after two Russian military aircraft were seen off the Cornwall coast.

      'Getting ready' Speaking to journalists from the Times and Daily Telegraph during a flight to Sierra Leone, where British troops are helping tackle the Ebola outbreak, Mr Fallon said: "I'm worried about Putin.

      "I'm worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing Nato."

      He said Nato must be prepared for aggression from Russia "in whatever form it takes" - because Russia was likely to use covert tactics such as those he said it had used to annex Crimea and during the current Ukraine conflict.

      Russia has denied helping pro-Russian separatists, but it has been repeatedly accused of sending weapons and troops and using propaganda to inflame tensions.


      Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence and diplomatic correspondent

      The comments from Defence Secretary Michael Fallon are an indication of a fundamental shift in the Nato perception of the crisis in Ukraine.

      Nato governments clearly believe that what began as a localised Ukraine problem that strained ties with Moscow has now become a Russia problem, and a Russia problem that is likely to persist for some time.

      Ukraine is thus seen as a manifestation of a much broader policy shift on the part of the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

      Mr Fallon's belief that there is indeed a potential threat to Nato territory - in particular the Baltic Republics - is widely shared; hence Nato's desire to underline in the most emphatic terms that its security guarantees to its members will be honoured in full.

      Mr Fallon went on: "When you have jets being flown up the English Channel, when you have submarines in the North Sea, it looks to me like it's [the situation is] warming up," he said.

      Mr Cameron warned that rebels in eastern Ukraine were using Russian military hardware, pointing out: "You can't buy this equipment on eBay, it hasn't come from somewhere else, it's come from Russia and we know that."

      He added that one of the principles of Nato - which is made up of 26 European countries as well as the US and Canada - is that an "attack against one or several members is considered as an attack against all".

      Elsewhere, Admiral Lord West, a former First Sea Lord and Nato commander, said it was important Nato "stands united at this dangerous and difficult moment".

      It could not afford to let a line in the sand be crossed if Russia interfered with the Baltic states, he said.

      The UK Joint Delegation to Nato tweeted that Russia had deployed the country's "most advanced anti-aircraft artillery system" in Ukraine.
    1. Ryan Ruck's Avatar
      Ryan Ruck -

      Ukraine Crisis: House Of Lords Criticises EU And Britain For 'Sleepwalking Into Crisis' As Moscow And NATO Remain On Diplomatic Collision Course

      February 19, 2015

      The fraught relationship between Russia and the West, which was supposed to improve following an agreement over Ukraine, has descended instead into renewed acrimony after a series of tense military and diplomatic confrontations.

      France and Germany, which had brokered the Minsk accord last week, were yesterday trying to hold together the increasingly fragile ceasefire in Ukraine amid reports that fighting was spreading once again. Kremlin-backed separatists and Cossack fighters triumphantly paraded through the shattered town of Debaltseve, a strategic point they had captured in the past 48 hours.

      Britain, which along with the EU will be strongly criticised by a House of Lords committee today for “sleep-walking into this crisis”, was drawn towards centre-stage after two Russian Bear bombers off the coast of Cornwall – but just outside UK airspace – were met by RAF jets scrambled from their base in Coningsby, Lincolnshire.

      The apparent probe of British readiness came soon after the Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, accused President Vladimir Putin of trying to extend his campaign of destabilisation to the Baltic countries. The Russian leader, he said, presented as much of a threat to Europe as Isis.

      David Cameron said Moscow was trying to make “some sort of point” by its repeated deployment of planes close to British airspace, adding: “I don’t think we should dignify it with too much of a response.”

      Russia reacted with fury at Mr Fallon’s remarks, however. Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Lukashevich declared that his comments were “already beyond diplomatic ethics”, adding: “The characterisation of Russia is completely intolerable. We will find a way to respond to the comments.”

      But Mr Fallon received support at home and abroad for his warning on Moscow’s intentions. Valdis Dombrovskis, the vice-president of the European Commission, and a former Prime Minister of Latvia, said: “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is very worrying for Baltic states. It shows that Russia is looking to redraw Europe’s 21st-century borders by force, and it must be noted that Ukraine is not the first country to face Russian aggression.”

      Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said: “Russia is behaving aggressively now as we speak. I really do see threats to all countries, If we fail to act now to what’s happening in Ukraine, there will be a big temptation [for Russia] to further instigate situations elsewhere.”

      Latvia’s Finance Minister, Janis Reirs, said that his country had already detected elements of “hybrid warfare” against his nation.

      In London, Rory Stewart, the chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said the West was on a “political razor-edge” over how to balance its response to Mr Putin, weighing the risk of allowing Russian expansionism to go unchecked and triggering further conflicts.

      He said: “There’s no doubt at all that probably the most vulnerable part of the NATO alliance at the moment is the Baltic states.”

      He urged all British political parties to write into their manifestoes a commitment to spend two per cent of GDP on defence – as required by NATO – to send a message to Mr Putin. He also asked them to prepare to deal with threats such as cyber-attacks, irregular troops, and propaganda.

      The EU committee of the House of Lords also argued, in the findings of an inquiry to be published today, that Western Europe failed to detect the real character of the Kremlin. For too long, it said, the relationship had been based on the “optimistic premise” that Russia was on a trajectory to democracy.

      The British Government, which is one of the guarantors of the territorial integrity of Ukraine in return for it giving up a nuclear arsenal, was heavily criticised for not being “as active or as visible as it could have been”.

      “It [the committee] believes that the EU, and by implication the UK, was guilty of sleep-walking into this crisis,” said the committee chairman, Lord Tugendhat. “The lack of robust analytical capacity, in both the UK and the EU, effectively led to a catastrophic misreading of the mood in the run-up to the crisis.”

      Western governments stressed that continuing fighting risked the breakdown of the Minsk agreement, but the language was markedly muted. The US administration has put on hold a decision on whether or not to supply the Ukrainian government with heavy weaponry; White House spokesman Eric Schultz said: “What was agreed to last week was not a shopping list.”

      NATO insists measures have already been taken to counter Russian aggression in the Baltic and eastern Europe, with bases in the area manned by Allied troops.

      Kremlin officials have complained that the move breaches an agreement, made during Boris Yeltsin’s presidency, that NATO would not set up military bases in former Warsaw Pact states close to Russia’s borders.

      Douglas Lute, the US ambassador to NATO, said: “These bases are not permanent and, as far as we are concerned, they are fully within the agreement.”
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said: “Russia is behaving aggressively now as we speak. I really do see threats to all countries, If we fail to act now to what’s happening in Ukraine, there will be a big temptation [for Russia] to further instigate situations elsewhere.”
      Had a conversation with a young man a couple of days ago about this. He is just out of the military, eight years. His thinking is that America meddles too much in foreign affairs. The whole ME thing is "our fault". That Russia is acting out is "our fault".

      If today's younger generation is to be believed, if we just didn't have an America, the world would be SOOOOO much better.
    1. vector7's Avatar
      vector7 -
      And this is the generations mindset who will be shouldering the brunt of our national security when we are boarded.
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      And THAT Vector is the problem.

      It won't be the "Wolverines" and young high school kids taking up the challenge. It will be us old farts and we might have to shoot a few kids to get the rest to line up and fight the enemy.

      THAT is what worries me the MOST.
    1. MinutemanCO's Avatar
      MinutemanCO -
      Quote Originally Posted by American Patriot View Post
      Had a conversation with a young man a couple of days ago about this. He is just out of the military, eight years. His thinking is that America meddles too much in foreign affairs. The whole ME thing is "our fault". That Russia is acting out is "our fault".

      If today's younger generation is to be believed, if we just didn't have an America, the world would be SOOOOO much better.
      This is definitely the position propagated by many of our leaders and is taught often by those we've allowed to indoctrinate our children. It's identical to the BS that states that "If America would only stop harassing Muslims and provide them with monetary aid that they will then stop killing us." The ignorance employed is astounding.
    1. American Patriot's Avatar
      American Patriot -
      Quote Originally Posted by MinutemanCO View Post
      This is definitely the position propagated by many of our leaders and is taught often by those we've allowed to indoctrinate our children. It's identical to the BS that states that "If America would only stop harassing Muslims and provide them with monetary aid that they will then stop killing us." The ignorance employed is astounding.
      The whole problem with this ignorance is that it kills people.

      The main thing about "stop harassing Muslims and provide them with monetary aid" is PRECISELY what they want and will CONTINUE to take hostages and kill people.

      If the fuckers EVER take me hostage alive (which they won't, I'll fucking fight them to the death and take as many with me as possible before they get me) then they WON'T get the chance to kill me by beheading or burning.

      If not, I Hope the US Government is smarter by then and nukes them (and me if necessary) to obliterate their asses.