Posts

Ukrainian Independence Day

Today is Ukrainian Independence Day. And a lot of stuff is happening.

Secretary of Defense Mattis acknowledged that Russia is trying to redraw European borders.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has accused Russia of seeking to “redraw international borders by force” and said that Washington is “actively reviewing” supplying Ukraine with new defensive weaponry.

Mattis, the first U.S. defense chief to visit Ukraine in a decade, also reiterated that the United States “won’t accept” Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

Mattis made the comments in Kyiv on August 24, the 26th anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.

“Have no doubt,” he said at a joint news conference with President Petro Poroshenko. “The United States stands with Ukraine.”

Russia confirmed that it is trying to redraw European borders.

Just a quick note: when Russia refers to Rus they’re spreading a fiction. The Kyivan Rus is not the same, nor were they related to the actual historic Russian ethno-national and ethno-linguistic forebears, state, and society. The Russian government, and before it the Soviet government, purposefully conflates several different historical ethno-national/ethno-linguistic groups into a catchall category of Rus to justify Russian claims to Ukraine and Finland, as well as other areas that Russia considers part of its historic near abroad.

Earlier today there was an explosion in Kyiv.

Police in Kyiv reported that two people were injured as a result of an explosion in the center of the capital of Ukraine on August 24.

“At 14:06 in the next part there was a message about an explosion of an unknown object on Hrushevsky Street. As a result, the husband and the woman suffered bodily injuries “, – reported in the police.

As all of this is going on, the Poles, and several other Eastern European members of NATO, are rightly concerned about Russia’s upcoming ZAPAD17 military exercise.

This is part of why Poland is spending an additional $55 billion on defense spending.

Poland will allocate an additional 200 billion zlotys ($55 billion) on defense over the next 15 years to modernize its army amid signs of growing aggression from Russia, a deputy defense minister said.

Russia’s Zapad military exercises next month in Belarus and western Russia, the largest in years, have raised concerns for their lack of transparency, with NATO worried the official number of troops participating might be understated.

Russia’s Zapad military exercises next month in Belarus and western Russia, the largest in years, have raised concerns for their lack of transparency, with NATO worried the official number of troops participating might be understated.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will visit Poland on Thursday and Friday to check on deployment of U.S. troops in the east of the country and to meet Polish, Romanian and Turkish government officials.

Poland, alarmed by what it sees as Russia’s assertiveness on NATO’s eastern flank, has lobbied hard for the stationing of NATO troops on its soil, especially since Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Yesterday was the anniversary for the victims of NAZIism and Stalinism known as Black Ribbon Day. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 23 AUG 1939 divided Europe into a NAZI German and Soviet spheres of interest. Tensions are running high as Russia continues a military buildup in advance of its ZAPAD17 exercise. ZAPAD17 kicks off on 14 September 2017. What is unknown is whether this is just the 2017 annual exercise along Russia’s western border or whether, as was the case in 2008 with Russia’s invasion of Georgia, it is a prelude to something else.

And what exactly does all Russia mean to Vladimir Putin?

 



Meanwhile in Ukraine…

It appears that Putin’s little green men are acting up in his other pet project.

It is going to be a long night in Charlottesville – things will get worse after dark. But it is also looking to be a long night in Ukraine.



An Assassination in Ukraine: The Unmasking of the Maskirovka has Removed the Need for Subtlety

Towards the end of 2016 a member of Russia’s parliament and his wife defected from Russia to Ukraine. Denis Voronenkov and his wife Maria Masakova sought asylum and he agreed to assist in the Ukrainian investigation into Victor Yanukovych,

KIEV—Only a few months ago Denis Voronenkov and Maria Maksakova were two of the brightest stars in Moscow’s political firmament, trying to improve the system from inside, but very much a part of it. They rode in luxurious cars, dined with the Kremlin’s elite at expensive restaurants, vacationed in Paris and Cannes. Both were members of the Russian parliament, the Duma. He was a colonel in the Russian military—a veteran of the military prosecutor’s office—as well. She, a classic Russian beauty, was a diva at the Mariinsky (Kirov) opera. The couple lived the good life in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. But then the system chewed them up and spat them out.

Now they are whistleblowers—defectors hunted by Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB, who have found asylum in Ukraine. And they say they are ready to open up in court about the inner workings of the Putin establishment.

“Americans should realize that Putin and his guys are convinced that he spins the planet with his feet,” like a soccer ball, Voronenkov told The Daily Beast in an exclusive interview. “The FSB cyber forces are quite powerful globally. Now they do not just listen to you (they listened and recorded all my phone calls for eight years). They also attack other states.”

Col. Voronenkov said he and his wife had no choice but to flee Russia late last year to “defeat the designs of the FSB,” which had begun to investigate them on a number of alleged criminal charges related to a contentious real estate deal. A favorite strategy for silencing suspected troublemakers is to charge them with corruption in a system rife with it.

Voronenkov was assassinated early today in Kiev.

The Independent reports that:

A former Russian MP has been shot and killed in the centre of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, in what the Ukrainian president described as an “act of state terrorism” by Russia.

Denis Voronenkov, who testified to Ukrainian investigators and criticsed Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman near the entrance of an upscale hotel.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the killing “clearly shows the handwriting of Russian special services shown repeatedly in various European capitals in the past.”

In a statement released by his spokesman, Svyatoslav Tsegolko, Mr Poroshenko described the victim as a key witness who gave testimony about “Russian aggression” to the Ukrainian authorities.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed the claim of Russian involvement in the killing as “absurd” in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova went further, saying the “killer regime” in Kiev “will do its best to make sure that no one will ever know the truth about what happened.”

Another former MP and Kremlin critic living in Kiev said Mr. Voronenkov was killed while heading to meet with him.

Mr Voronenkov was “an investigator who was deadly dangerous for the [Russian] security agencies,” Mr Ponomaryov wrote on Facebook, according to a translation from The Moscow Times.

Not subtle at all.

We also know more about the Russian attorney thrown from his building:

And Russia’s covert Little Green Men and overt actions involving Crimea and the ongoing Russian low intensity war with Ukraine continues apace.



A Long Night in Ukraine

 

While everything else has been going on it is important to remember that events elsewhere in the world have not paused. Ukraine has been under sustained attacked from Russian backed/Russia’s Little Green Men for several days.

The deadliest flare-up in fighting in eastern Ukraine in 1 1/2 months stretched into a third day as the European Union labeled the violence a “blatant” breach of the stalled 2015 peace accord aimed at resolving the almost three-year-old conflict.

The military said Tuesday that Russian-backed insurgents pounded the town of Avdiivka, 20 kilometers (13 miles) from the conflict zone’s biggest city, separatist-held Donetsk, using rockets and artillery. Rebels blamed the shelling on the army. President Petro Poroshenko broke off a visit Monday to Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced concern at the security situation.

And:

Ceasefire monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, tallied 2,260 “ceasefire violations” on Sunday.

And early Monday morning, combined Russian-separatist forces launched a predawn artillery attack and follow-on ground assault on the Ukrainian-held front-line town of Avdiivka.

Ukrainian officials claimed the attacks were an attempt by combined Russian forces to derail the ceasefire by effectively baiting Ukraine into retaliatory actions, which could be used as an excuse for further escalations, or for propaganda.

By Monday afternoon, Ukrainian forces announced they had repelled the attack on Avdiivka, but combat was ongoing.

“The enemy continues to fire at our positions with heavy artillery and mortars,” Ukrainian military spokesman Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk told reporters in Kiev Monday.

The BBC reports that an evacuation is being planned:

Ukrainian officials are preparing for a possible evacuation of the eastern frontline town of Avdiivka amid renewed fighting with pro-Russian rebels.

If evacuation takes place, officials say up to 8,000 people could be removed each day from the government-held town, which has no water or electricity.

Shelling and the deaths of several more people were reported by both sides on Tuesday.

Each blames the other for the upsurge in violence.

It erupted despite an attempt to renew a ceasefire last month.

Ukrainian forces say the outbreak began when rebels launched an attack on Avdiivka, which borders land controlled by the separatists.

Seven soldiers and a number of rebels have been killed in recent days, and there have been civilian casualties on both sides but precise numbers are unclear.

The US’s official response is:

Cease-Fire Violations in Eastern Ukraine

Press Statement

Mark C. Toner
Acting Spokesperson
Washington, DC
January 31, 2017

The United States is deeply concerned with the recent spike in violence in eastern Ukraine around Avdiivka-Yasynuvata. Since January 28, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission has reported a dramatic increase in fighting, including with heavy artillery and other weapons proscribed by the Minsk agreements. The fighting has caused dozens of Ukrainian military casualties and 10 civilian casualties. It has also left 17,000 civilians, including 2,500 children, without water, heat, or electricity. To avert a larger humanitarian crisis, we call for an immediate, sustained ceasefire and full and unfettered access for OSCE monitors. We also reaffirm U.S. support for full implementation of the Minsk agreements.