Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Yesterday the Ukrainian Navy deployed a SAR vessel, A500 Donbass, and an oceangoing tug, A830 Korets, from their Black Sea bases to the port of Berdyansk in the Azov Sea, transiting through the Kerch Strait. The two ships were repeatedly buzzed by Russian fast jets, and followed by a gaggle of Russian patrol boats and coast guard cutters. Earlier last week, a Ukrainian Navy An-26 CURL was harassed by a Russian Su-27S FLANKER sortied from a base in Crimea. This follows earlier incidents in which Russian FLANKERs and FENCERs probed the edges of Romanian airspace, forcing intercepts by Royal Air Force Typhoon fighters currently deployed in Romania. The Royal Air Force flew a RIVET JOINT SIGINT sortie in the area on Sunday, likely to monitor Russian activity.
The UK will be providing the Ukrainians with additional military aid later this year to bolster maritime capabilities.
Also below two very interesting essays by Portnikov and Applebaum.
Today, September 23, the search and rescue vessel “Donbass” and the sea tug “Korets” passed the Kerch Strait. At the same time, the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not request permission from the countries of the aggressor, but realized their right to free navigation in the Kerch Strait and the Azov Sea in accordance with the UN Convention and international agreements. The transition to the Kerch Strait and through it took place in a difficult environment. On the Black Sea, ships of the Ukrainian Navy were directly accompanied by a reconnaissance ship of the Black Sea Fleet “Azov” and the border guard patrols of the Russian Federation “Amist” and “Don”. In the Kerch Strait, more than 10 ships and boats of the FSB and the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation were involved in direct support. The aircraft of the aggressor country repeatedly carried out the flight of our ships, including at extremely low altitudes. In addition, the forces of the country of the aggressor committed a number of dangerous incidents. On September 20, around 17:00, the reconnaissance ship of the Russian Federation “Priazovye” carried out an excessive rapprochement with Ukrainian ships on the distance of 2 cables, which grossly violated the requirements of international rules and created an extremely dangerous situation. On September 21, the Russian Su-27 fighter (from the temporarily occupied territory of the Crimea, flight number 30) created the preconditions for an emergency in the air, approaching the dangerous distance with the military transport aircraft of the An-26 Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which fulfilled the scheduled task above the Black Sea water area. Search and rescue vessel “Donbass” and the sea tug “Korets” continue to perform tasks. From the Kerch Strait, they are protected by small armored boats “Lubny” and “Kremenchuk”. The appropriate forces and means of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, including the air force, are also prepared to respond to possible threats. We thank the public for the attention and apologize for the fact that the official information was provided with a delay, due to the safety of the crews of the ships. The Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will not allow the aggressor country to make the Sea of Azov its inland lake Press Center Command Naval Forces The Armed Forces of Ukraine
On Sept. 23, two Ukrainian warships – A500 Donbas search and rescue vessel and A830 Korets seagoing tug – which would become part of the newly created naval base of the Ukrainian fleet on the Sea of Azov, entered the sea waters with Russian reconnaissance vessel approaching them at obviously dangerous distance. As reported by Censor.NET, the press service of the Ukrainian Navy said in a statement that Ukraine exercised its right to free movement through the Kerch Strait and in the Sea of Azov under the UN Convention and international agreements. However, according to the Navy, tensions escalated during the maneuver: “In the Black Sea, the Ukrainian warships were escorted by the Russian Black Sea Fleet reconnaissance vessel Priazovye and Russian border guard vessels Ametist and Don. More than 10 ships and boats of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Black Sea Fleet escorted our vessels passing the Kerch Strait. The aggressor state’s aircraft repeatedly flew over our ships, including at extremely low altitudes.” The Navy press service added that Russia resorted to a number of dangerous provocations: “On Sept. 20 at about 5 p.m., the Russian reconnaissance ship Priazovye approached the Ukrainian vessels over the distance of two cable lengths in blatant violation of the international rules causing extremely perilous situation. On Sept. 21, the Russian Su-27 fighter (based in temporarily occupied Crimea, tail number 30) caused a near-crash situation by getting too close to Ukrainian An-26 air carrier.”
Two ships of the Ukrainian Naval Forces- command ship Donbas and tugboat Korets were located near the coast of the annexed Crimea, reported Interfax referring to the FSB border control on Saturday, September 22. Russia claims that the Ukrainian ships were allegedly moving “towards an exclusive economic zone of the Russian Federation.” They [the ships] are heading in a northeasterly direction. “In accordance with international maritime law and in the interests of security of the Russian Federation, ships from the Russian Coast Guard of the FSB Border Service are escorting these ships. They are accompanying them at a safe distance”, – the message states.
Ukraine’s search and rescue ship A500 Donbas and seagoing tug A830 Korets have passed the area of the Kerch Strait Bridge connecting the Taman peninsula with Russian-occupied Crimea. Ukraine’s small armored artillery boats P177 Kremenchuk and P178 Lubny departed from the port of Berdyansk to meet the two vessels. Ukraine’s search and rescue ship A500 Donbas and seagoing tug A830 Korets have passed the area of the Kerch Strait Bridge connecting the Taman peninsula with Russian-occupied Crimea. Earlier, Ukraine’s small armored artillery boats P177 Kremenchuk and P178 Lubny departed from the port of Berdyansk in the direction of the Kerch crossing to meet the two vessels, the Ukrainian Military Portal wrote on Sunday. The boats, which were delivered to Berdyansk in early September, have already been set afloat. At about 12:00, the U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft Boeing RC-135V, serial 64-14848, started operations near the Kerch Strait. As was earlier reported, Ukraine’s search and rescue ship A500 Donbas and the seagoing tug A830 Korets departed from Odesa to Berdyansk on September 20, to set up a new naval base of the Ukrainian fleet in the Sea of Azov. On September 22, Russia’s FSB (Federal Security Service) border department said two ships of the Ukrainian Navy entered “the exclusive economic zone of Russia.” Therefore, they were accompanied by ships of the FSB Coast Guard. The Ukrainian government on September 17 announced its plans to establish a naval base on the Sea of Azov before the end of the year, which will create conditions for repelling Russian aggression in that region.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko announced that two Ukrainian warships, which would become part of the newly created naval base of the Ukrainian fleet on the Sea of Azov, had entered the sea waters. “I congratulate our warships – A500 Donbas search and rescue vessel and A830 Korets seagoing tug – on entering the Sea of Azov. They will be part of the newly created naval base of the Ukrainian fleet on the Sea of Azov,” the Head of State wrote on Facebook. On September 20, the Ukrainian military portal informed that A500 Donbas search and rescue vessel and A830 Korets seagoing tug left the western naval base of the Ukrainian Navy in Odesa in the direction of Berdiansk, where they would form the basis of the newly created naval base of the Ukrainian fleet on the Sea of Azov.
The Ukrainian Navy is accusing Russia of “unsafe” intercept of an An-26 military transport aircraft which occurred over the Black Sea. According to the Ukrainian Navy’s statement, a Russian Su-27 fighter jet made an “unsafe” intercept of a Ukrainian An-26 military transport plane while it was flying over the Black Sea. The incident occurred on 21 September, when Russian Su-27 jet crossed directly in front of the flight path of the An-26 aircraft of Ukrainian Navy in international airspace. “On September 21, the Russian Su-27 fighter (from the temporarily occupied territory of the Crimea, flight number 30) made the preconditions for an emergency in the air, approaching at the dangerous distance with the military transport aircraft of the An-26 Ukrainian Naval Forces, which fulfilled the scheduled task above the Black Sea area,” said the press service of Ukrainian Navy. Russia now formally controls a much larger portion of the Black Sea, which includes the entire coastline of the Crimean peninsula. The Eastern part of Crimea –including the Kerch straits– are now under Russia’s jurisdiction control. On the Eastern side of the Kerch straits is Russia’s Krasnodar region and extending southwards are the port cities of Novorossiysk and Sochi. Russia has been building up its Black Sea Fleet and overall military posture since seizing Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014, a move condemned by the United States and much of the world.
On Sunday, September 22, a British Royal Air Force RC-135W aircraft conducted a reconnaissance flight over the Black Sea near the coast of the Crimea, according to the sources monitoring aviation traffic. According to their data, the flight lasted several hours. The reconnaissance aircraft with tail number ZZZ666 took off from Souda Bay air force base on Crete. It flew along the coast of Crimea and Krasnodar region in Russia for several hours.
Britain will increase military support to Ukraine by the end of the year and increase its presence in the Black Sea in 2019. “Britain will increase military support to its ally [Ukraine] by sending Royal Marines later this year and increase the presence of Royal Navy patrols in the Black Sea in 2019,” Britain’s Secretary of State for Defense Gavin Williamson stated, The Daily Telegraph reported. Williamson is in no doubt that blame lies directly with President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin. “The behaviour of the Putin-led regime is not acceptable. We want to be able to ensure that the people who are on the front line, where we are today, have the best ability to survive and defend their homeland,” he said. Williamson also fears Putin is widening his new Cold War with the West. He added: “We’re seeing Russian aggression, not just on the front line but an increasingly more assertive posture in the Black Sea. They want to open up new fronts.” The defence secretary is pledging to stand firm. “We’re going to be upping our training and support efforts with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, making sure that the Ukrainian Navy and Ukrainian forces have the skills and the technical ability to deal with these increasing threats.” “Our commitment remains unwavering. As long as the danger lasts we will continue to stand by your side. The safer you are here, the safer we are in the UK,” Gavin Williamson stated.
The UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced of extension of support to Ukraine’s Armed Forces. The Defence Secretary announced the expansion of the UK Defence Section in Kyiv and introduction of a permanent Naval Attaché to help build Ukrainian naval capability during met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak and General of the Army, Victor Muzhenko. The UK will be extending its military training operation there for a further two years until 2020. The Defence Secretary also met President Poroshenko reaffirming the UK’s commitment to their country. He also discussed the Russian security forces continuing to disrupt merchant vessels trying to access Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, posing negative effects on Ukraine’s economy. He also travelled to Marinka in the east of Ukraine to see the effects of the four-year conflict in the Donbas region, and received an operational update from the Joint Force Operation Commander Lt Gen Serhiy Nayev. The visit to Marinka highlighted the severity of the ongoing conflict, including its humanitarian and environmental impacts, driven by Russian aggression. “I witnessed first-hand the suffering caused by the brutal conflict in eastern Ukraine – a conflict that is being prolonged by the Russian-backed separatists,” Gavin Williamson said. “By extending and expanding our training programmes, we are sending a clear message – we support the people of Ukraine and are firmly committed to its sovereignty as it faces down blatant Russian aggression.”
The United Kingdom is one of the few countries in the world to constantly maintain the capability to use nuclear weapons – and a video published by the Royal Navy gives a glimpse of what it would be like if they were ever used. The United Kingdom is one of a few countries to maintain an always-ready nuclear deterrent, provided by four nuclear submarines at see. The Vanguard-class vessels, which carry the Trident nuclear missile system, are rarely seen and quite secretive. A video from 2012 showed a launch drill from inside one of the four subs – HMS Vigilant – and gives an idea of what a real nuclear attack could be like.
It became obvious that the inevitable departure from a social state which Russia has been even after the collapse of socialism drives the majority of Russians mad. Results of public surveys about pension reform, the crackdown on protests and the score of Putin’s One Russia in local elections all attest to this. It may seem strange to Ukraine – who can it be possible? After all, most Russians supported the occupation of Crimea and Donbas, the war against our country, the crimes of Putin’s regime in Syria – and suddenly they got angry! But this is how it is. Most Russians have an imperial set of mind. They behaved exactly the same back in the Soviet times. When the USSR intervened in the affairs of Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan, hardly a person protested. But once they stopped getting food, they grew increasingly indignant, which ultimately destroyed the Soviet Union. By the way, its leaders were perfectly aware that their citizens thought with their stomachs only. On the eve of Khrushchev’s dismissal as well as on the eve of the August 1991 coup, the absence of products in Moscow, above of all bread, was pre-arranged so that Russians could later hail the changes. There is nothing to talk about if even the February 1917 revolution started in a bread line in Petrograd! The solution to stability in Russia is not in Crimea or Donbas. They are in a bakery. But with each day Putin and his cronies are running out of capacity to maintain this bakery. And there is no way back, what is more, if relations with the West escalate, this will prompt Russians to join ranks even faster and will only empower the protest. No wards will help Putin any longer. Russians do not care about the wards when they are not fed. In 1991, once loyal Stalinists, they beat party officials who were being evacuated from Moscow. And at the time, the Bolsheviks had a tight grip in power, the war was still underway. He may even stop imitating democracy and introduce a classic dictatorship. Without any elections, free internet and alternatives. Uniformed agencies must become the core of this power, they must be ready to bathe Russia in blood and guarantee safety and enrichment to a limited circle of Putin’s minions. Yes, in this case the protest will become total but Putin might well sit in his throne well until his mandate expires, that is until his physical death. The ruler should not care much about what happens next, as if there were no tomorrow. If everything stays as is, the regime will crumble even faster, with Putin still in office. And he will have to bear responsibility for all the consequences of his rule. Because what we saw in Russia yesterday is not the beginning of Maydan. This is the beginning of an “Aran Spring” Putin is so afraid of. There is a third option, the best one, which to capitulate to the West in exchange for help. Yes, they would have to forget about their ambitions, get out of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova and Syria, and take care of their own country. In exchange, its subjects will be fed and make no fuss. But Putin will never accept this option, his own complexes will not let him. And up until the end he will believe that uniformed agencies will rescue him from a senseless and ruthless Russian riot. Uniformed agencies, but not Trump. If Putin chooses dictatorship, we are in for new armed provocations, attempts to destabilize Ukraine and continuous resistance to the aggressor. If Putin chooses to keep the existing situation, we should expect flows of migrants, instability along Russian border and other bonuses of living close to “Europe’s vile person”. If Putin chooses capitulation, we should expect the West to lose interest in our country. Again they will start talking about European integration of Russia and the role Ukraine should be assigned not to prevent this European integration – who could resist such a wonderful chance?
Russia’s interference in a once-friendly country has made it an enemy.
When they first arrived in Lviv, a university rector told me, the students who came from Donetsk walked around in packs, speaking loudly in Russian. Ukraine is an excellent reminder of how violence can have unexpected consequences — and of how a short-term victory can lead to a longer-term defeat.