Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
The firehose is unusually quiet today.
Myers on Russia’s persistent inability to deal with Color Revolutions – that Muscovy consistently attributes to US orchestrated destabilisation rather than the inequity driven social forces they were taught about in their 1980s Marx-Leninism doctrine classes. EU, US and Ukraine produce most damaging sanctions impacts, according to a Russian agency. Three Russian net reports. Miscellaneous Russia reports.
Finland to procure EA-18G Growler SEAD/DEAD/SOJ platforms – this will not sell well in Muscovy.
A great many reports on the Munich Security Conference.
A big day in Kyiv – EC Pres Tusk visits Kyiv, and addresses the Rada in Kyiv on the 5th anniversary of the Maidan revolution and Russian invasion, reading his address in Ukrainian. Multiple Western media reports on Ukraine. Pres Poroshenko signs into law EU/NATO constitutional amendments. DEFMIN Poltorak meets Sen Ernst.
Kerch/Azov and Donbas updates. Media reports that the OSCE SMM sighted a Russian VKS BEAR H or F in Donbas flatly denied as false by PSU HQ.
Politics and election updates.
Update on ROC mischief in Ukraine, Cypriot OC backs Ukraine, update on religious persecution in Russia.
Russia announced major military weapon breakthroughs in 2018. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin says the world has nothing like them. Is he right?
Russia’s new countermeasures against Color Revolutions do not seem to be succeeding. At least since the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Russian Federation has planned to counter the “color revolutions.” These uprisings involved the overthrowing of post–Cold War dictators in Yugoslavia 2000, Georgia 2003 (rose), Ukraine 2004 (orange), and Kyrgyzstan 2005 (tulip). Since then, the term has become somewhat passé in the West, but Russia remains obsessed with them even in 2019. Given that all four of those case studies listed above reflected the fall of a Russia-aligned government, this fixation makes sense. Since 2005, regime changes in semi- to un-democratic states with a pro-Russian policy have avoided the “color” label: the 2010 April Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the 2014 Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, and the 2018 protests in Armenia could be considered spiritual successors to the original wave. In the ten years between the Orange Revolution and Euromaidan in Ukraine, Western commentators frequently claimed Putin had closely watched the progress of events in 2004 and was planning how to prevent them occurring in the future. Between the 2012 suppression of protests in Russia at Putin’s “castling” back into the Kremlin and the Russian incursions into Ukraine in the aftermath of the Euromaidan in 2014, it certainly seems that Russia did make plans to counter color revolutions. And it is not just military policy as well: since the 2018 protests in Yerevan brought down the government of Serzh Sarkisian, Russia has frequently brought the new Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan to Moscow to ensure he does not deviate from the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union. That said, these new countermeasures do not seem to be succeeding. Ukraine is now more closely aligned with the West than ever despite Russian diplomatic, military, and economic pressure. Russian defense media impotently monitors Armenia and even stalwart ally Belarus seeking political and military relationships with the West, China, and others. And now, the United States plays directly into Russian propagandists’ hands: the U.S. government is actively trying to overturn the regime of Russian partner Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro—and there is nothing Russia can really do about it. Though the United States blasted Russia’s sending of a pair of strategic bombers to Venezuela in December 2018 and West is hyperventilating about a possible return of Russian bases to Latin America, Russia does not have such plans and strategic bombers cannot destroy a mass uprising. Some Russian media outlets claim that Venezuela’s Russian-built S-300V missile defense batteries buy Moscow some extra time to decide how to save Caracas from U.S. intervention, but it is difficult to imagine how Moscow can pull Maduro back to solid ground. At least since the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Russian Federation has planned to counter the “color revolutions.” These uprisings involved the overthrowing of post–Cold War dictators in Yugoslavia 2000, Georgia 2003 (rose), Ukraine 2004 (orange), and Kyrgyzstan 2005 (tulip). Since then, the term has become somewhat passé in the West, but Russia remains obsessed with them even in 2019. Given that all four of those case studies listed above reflected the fall of a Russia-aligned government, this fixation makes sense. Since 2005, regime changes in semi- to un-democratic states with a pro-Russian policy have avoided the “color” label: the 2010 April Revolution in Kyrgyzstan, the 2014 Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, and the 2018 protests in Armenia could be considered spiritual successors to the original wave. In the ten years between the Orange Revolution and Euromaidan in Ukraine, Western commentators frequently claimed Putin had closely watched the progress of events in 2004 and was planning how to prevent them occurring in the future. Between the 2012 suppression of protests in Russia at Putin’s “castling” back into the Kremlin and the Russian incursions into Ukraine in the aftermath of the Euromaidan in 2014, it certainly seems that Russia did make plans to counter color revolutions. And it is not just military policy as well: since the 2018 protests in Yerevan brought down the government of Serzh Sarkisian, Russia has frequently brought the new Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan to Moscow to ensure he does not deviate from the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Eurasian Economic Union. That said, these new countermeasures do not seem to be succeeding. Ukraine is now more closely aligned with the West than ever despite Russian diplomatic, military, and economic pressure. Russian defense media impotently monitors Armenia and even stalwart ally Belarus seeking political and military relationships with the West, China, and others. And now, the United States plays directly into Russian propagandists’ hands: the U.S. government is actively trying to overturn the regime of Russian partner Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro—and there is nothing Russia can really do about it. Though the United States blasted Russia’s sending of a pair of strategic bombers to Venezuela in December 2018 and West is hyperventilating about a possible return of Russian bases to Latin America, Russia does not have such plans and strategic bombers cannot destroy a mass uprising. Some Russian media outlets claim that Venezuela’s Russian-built S-300V missile defense batteries buy Moscow some extra time to decide how to save Caracas from U.S. intervention, but it is difficult to imagine how Moscow can pull Maduro back to solid ground.
Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov stated that there are no prospects for normalizing the relationship with the US for now, reports Interfax-Ukraine. “In my opinion, everything is already bad. Prospects are not being considered for now,” said Ushakov responding to a question if a new series of sanctions will worsen Russian-American relations, or things can’t get worse. He added that Moscow’s reaction to the possibility of new American sanctions would follow after analysis. “We will see what sanctions are proposed and then will decide how to respond,” emphasized Ushakov.
Ukraine has entered TOP3 countries in terms of the number of restrictions against Russia and in terms of the amount of damage inflicted. Restrictive measures imposed against Russian goods abroad caused damage to the Russian economy worth $6.3 billion, according to the Russian Ministry of Economic Development, RBC reports. The European Union became the leader in terms of the number of restrictions imposed on Russian goods (25), followed by Ukraine (22), India (16), Belarus (13), Turkey (12) and the USA (9). However, the ranking of countries turned out different for the estimated damage to the Russian economy: the EU tops the list ($2.4 billion), the U.S. is a runner-up ($1.1 billion), and the third is Ukraine ($775 million). They are followed by Turkey ($713 million), India ($377 million), Iran ($320 million), and China ($174 million). According to the Ministry of Economy, despite the fact that Belarus has introduced a relatively large number of restrictive measures against Russian goods, the estimated damage from those measures was only $42 million. The metallurgical sector suffered the greatest losses from restrictions – almost $4 billion, the agricultural industry ranked second with $1.1 billion, and the chemical industry ranked third with $640 million. In total, 159 restrictive measures in 62 countries were introduced against Russian goods.
Beyond suspicions of a ploy to expand censorship, some Runet’ critics call the project technologically dead on arrival
Russian lawmakers have approved a bill banning the armed forces from carrying smartphones, tablets, and other gadgets capable to record and keep information while on duty.
Experts have long said Russians are the most sophisticated among the nation-state adversaries that regularly hack government and private computers in the U.S.
But you wouldn’t know that from the English-language press release, in which KUB was introduced simply as a “high-precision unmanned attack complex…designed for defeating remote ground targets.”
The United Arab Emirates has signed a contract with Russia for the purchase of Kornet-E anti-tank missile systems and Pantsir anti-aircraft …
Aleksandr Mikheev, the Director General of Russia's state agency for exports/imports of defense-related and dual use products (Rosoboronexport), …
Paul Goble Staunton, February 17 – Russians generally welcomed the arrival of democracy in Russia in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mikhail Rogozhnikov says; but they dislike it now less because of the way it has operated in the Russian Federation itself than because of what democratic practices has become in the West since that time. In Vzglyad today, the chief editor of Ekspert says that Russians viewed democracy in terms of how the West defined it in the past but have turned on that system of governance because it has been subverted in the West itself by money and the way it and business elites can shape and even determine outcomes (vz.ru/opinions/2019/2/17/964480.html). The characteristics of democracy Robert Dahl and others described were never fully realized in the West, of course, Rogozhnikov says; but they have been subverted so blatantly in the last several decades that the notion of popular sovereignty achieved and maintained by competitive elections no longer looks as attractive to Russians as it did. Instead, it repels many. “Twenty and thirty years ago in Russia,” he continues, “democracy seemed a successful means of carrying out unpopular transformations. But [as a result of the changes that democracy itself was undergoing as a result of the infusion of money and private power] it too soon showed its ‘true face.’” For more than a decade, however, Russian elites continued to try to introduce and make use of “the Western model of democracy,” allowing the elites to satisfy themselves while proclaiming that the population at large was making the decisions via competitive elections at the ballot box just as Western leaders continued to do in their countries. That has had the effect, Rogozhnikov says, of making Russians who were attracted to the idea of democracy earlier ever more suspicious that democracy is not what the West has advertised it to be but rather simply a new cover for the same old rule by backroom elites they have long suffered under. The Ekspert editor acknowledges that other domestic factors are at work, including the recrudescence of traditional power relations in Russia, the difficulties of carrying out the transitions Russia needs to make in order to modernize, and Russians’ proclivity to think in cosmic ways. But those factors alone, he suggests, would have not been enough to convince Russians that democracy was not for them had they not see the way in which the entrance of enormous amounts of money and the use of the mass media have transformed what they found attractive a generation ago into something they want no part of.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 17 – More than three out of four Russians say that they are not willing to go into the streets to protest the deteriorating economic conditions in which they live, an attitude that many believe means that the Putin regime will be able to ignore popular discontent for a long time to come. But Dmitry Agranovsky, a left-wing television commentator, tells Elena Rychkova of the Nakanune news agency that the current situation will not save the Putin regime not only because the number of people willing to protest will grow but also because this passive opposition will undermine his rule (nakanune.ru/articles/114896/). Agranovsky recalls that in 1998, he spoke with General Rokhlin and asked him why soldiers commit suicide rather than use their weapons against those who have drive them to despair. Rokhlin replied with “two words: little organization.” Not surprisingly, they were not allowed on the air, but the general’s words explain a lot. Russians aren’t ready to take part in protests not only because they fear the consequences of doing so or because they believe that no protest will achieve its goals or because they have no tradition of going into the streets, he says. They also aren’t ready because there are no leaders who are prepared to lead them into the streets. That would seem to protect those in powers, but one must remember that if 77 percent say they aren’t ready to take part in demonstrations, 22 percent are – an enormous figure in the millions of the population of the country. If leaders appear to call them out to protest, the regime would be overwhelmed – and many beyond the 22 percent would join them. According to Agranovsky, “the pension ‘reform’ was a kind of Rubicon when it became clear that the state is not on the side of the people. For many, this was a discovery. The pension ‘reform’ inflicted a radical hit on the image of the powers that be. It became clear that there was no reason to expect anything good from them.” “The powers that be do not understand this; they calculate that the people has accepted this pension ‘reform,’ but what has happened is simply that the people have not gone into the streets to protest. They aren’t able, perhaps, but this dissatisfaction within is very strong,” Agranovsky continues. The Russian people aren’t just dissatisfied; they are offended. They didn’t expect this from Putin: they considered him to be on their side against the bureaucracy. But now that has changed. Tragically, neither Putin nor his regime understand this. They have destroyed what feedback loops existed as they have destroyed democracy. The regime does not know what is going on in the country and thus is not capable of adjusting to new realities. And that in turn means that the dissatisfaction, anger, and offense will only grow, quite possibly beyond street protests into something more dangerous, a Russian rising that will sweep everything away.
Russian Propaganda Film T-34 is appearing in US theaters, please help stop its appearance. Ukraine’s US Embassy is asking the theaters shown at the bottom of the page to reconsider showing this obvious Russian propaganda. Your assistance is requested to contact these theaters and stop this blatant attempt to influence US audiences. I, for one,…
The Ukrainian side made an official appeal to a number of cinema theaters across the United States with a request not to screen Russian T-34 propaganda film, which justifies the aggressive offensive of the Russian Federation against other countries. — Ukrinform.
The U.S. has a path to salvage the tattered INF Treaty, says former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
The U.S. Department of Defense has authorized the U.S. Navy and Boeing to offer the EA-18G Growler to Finland. Boeing has announced on 18 February that the U.S. Government approves release of EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft to Finland. Previously only Australia had been authorized to purchase the airborne electronic attack (AEA) aircraft. Boeing and the Navy have offered the Growler and F/A-18 Super Hornet in a response to query issued by the Finnish Ministry of Defense as part of their HX fighter program procurement. “All strike fighter aircraft rely on Growler escort to increase survivability during high-threat missions,” said Dan Gillian, Boeing vice president, F/A-18 and EA-18G programs. “The combination of the Super Hornet Block III and Growler would provide Finland with superior technological capability particularly suited to Finland’s HX mission requirements.” An F/A-18 variant, the Growler is the world’s most advanced AEA platform and the only one in production today. It’s capable of disrupting, deceiving or denying a broad range of military electronic systems including radar and communication systems. The EA-18G Growler features the latest electronic attack technology; communication countermeasures, satellite communications, jamming pods and more. The EA-18G began production in 2007 and entered operational service with the US Navy in late 2009. Australia has also purchased twelve EA-18Gs, which entered service with the Royal Australian Air Force in 2017.
Munich Security Conference 2019, 16 February 2019, 05:30 pm Panel Discussion “Security in Eastern Europe” Manfred Weber (Chairman, EPP Parliamentary Group, European Parliament, Brussels), Petro Poroshenko (President, Ukraine, Kyiv), Mamuka Bakhtadze (Prime Minister, Georgia, Tbilisi), Andrej Plenković (Prime Minister, Republic of Croatia, Zagreb), and Thomas Greminger (Secretary General, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Vienna), and Ian Bremmer (President and Founder, Eurasia Group, New York, moderator) Video source: © Bayerischer Rundfunk 2019
Ukraine is sure that Russia actively supports the recent protests in EU countries against global warming, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin told a group of Brussels journalists on Monday (18 February).
Germany’s defense minister is urging fellow NATO leaders to speak with one voice in their approach to ongoing crises, bringing to the forefront the simmering problem of diverging ideas threatening to split the alliance from within.
If Turkey moves forward with S-400 purchase, it could impact Patriot, F-35 sale.
Ambassador Sondland on Twitter: “Honored to meet today with FM @pavloklimkin. Nearing the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Crimea, we stand together with the EU in our support for #Ukraine in response to Russian aggression in Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and on the Black Sea. #UnitedForUkraine 🇺🇦… https://t.co/nVF3bR3Q7Y”
Pavlo Klimkin on Twitter: “In the sense of solidarity and support of Ukraine there are things that unite 🇪🇺unconditionally. Our EU friends and partners spare no effort and will continue to push forward for release of Ukrainian sailors kept by Russia #FreeUkrainianPOWs & political prisoners #LetMyPeopleGo… https://t.co/0XTjSNVIvs”
toomas hendrik ilves on Twitter: “Visiting Ukraine, a country invaded by Russia, and which borders on *three* EU countries two whole times during her entire 4.5 year tenure up to now.… https://t.co/0qxOU5i74Z”
European Council President Donald Tusk has praised the efforts of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in carrying out reforms in his state. — Ukrinform.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk has praised the efforts of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in reforming the state, noting the high reputation of Ukraine “not only in Brussels but also in all capitals of Europe.”
President of the European Council Donald Tusk has said Ukrainians are an inspiration to Europe. Tusk is on a visit to Ukraine February 18-20.
He stated this at a special meeting of the Verkhovna Rada in connection with the fifth anniversary of the beginning of Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine, an Ukrinform correspondent reported. “No one has the right to instruct the masters how to equip their own home. I share this and do not intend to interfere with your work, but maybe you will accept my recommendations because they come from the bottom of my heart. First, do not hurt one another too much in the upcoming election. Your history, as well as the history of my people, argues that internal conflicts in our two countries are the greatest gift for a third party,” Tusk said. According to him, it should also be remembered that Ukraine’s opponents in Europe are waiting for any reason to give up the current solidarity between Brussels and Kyiv. “A sharp conflict between you may prove to be precisely this reason, so don’t argue too much and stay united in cases of vital importance to Ukraine,” Tusk said. Secondly, Tusk advised Ukrainian lawmakers to avoid the temptations of radical nationalism and populism, as Ukraine has done so far. “The dangerous temptations of radical populism are born of complexes and weaknesses, and Ukrainians have all the rights and grounds to feel proud and strong now,” Tusk said. Thirdly, he advised MPs not to imitate neighbors and European politicians who want to convince everyone that democracy based on freedom, human rights, freedom of thought and speech is a thing of the past and an outdated model of the state, and now is the time for “authoritarian democracy.” “We have to defend fundamental values in the interests of our citizens and citizens of Europe. This is why the heroes of the Revolution of Dignity died,” Tusk said. Fourthly, he advised Ukrainian politicians to build a virtuous state together. “I ask everyone to believe that honesty and transparency are needed not because it is a requirement of the EU but because your citizens need it. Do not stop positive changes, even if they are painful to someone,” he said.
According to the results of five years since the beginning of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, it can already be concluded that Ukraine has tactically won the war against Russia, Head of the Ukrainian state Petro Poroshenko has said. According to the results of five years since the beginning of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, it can already be concluded that Ukraine has tactically won the war against Russia, Head of the Ukrainian state Petro Poroshenko has said. “Without any doubt, the Kremlin is doomed to defeat in this war. For five years it could not achieve any of the goals set in Ukraine, and we have already won tactically! It depends on our unity when we achieve a strategic and final victory … on our determination, as well as from the unity and determination of the international coalition that we created in support of Ukraine with the help of our friends,” Poroshenko said during a special meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine on Tuesday. The head of the Ukrainian state noted that the “blitzkrieg” of Russia that started this war choked, but Ukraine paid a high price for this. At the same time, according to Poroshenko, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin is well aware that the loss of Ukraine means the collapse of his plans to restore the empire and return Russia to the status of a super country. “Therefore, the stakes in such a war are super-high. Putin’s dream is a divided Europe, which has renounced its values. Putin’s dream is a weakened Europe, for which he dictates his conditions. Putin’s dream is a belt of dependent satellite states whose sovereignty is purely nominal,” said the president of Ukraine.
The Verkhovna Rada is holding an extraordinary meeting in connection with the fifth anniversary of the beginning of armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. The session Is broadcasted by 112 Ukraine TV channel. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, who is currently on a visit to Ukraine is attending the meeting. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman take part in the event. The members of the government, representatives of public associations, union of ATO veterans, Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, representatives of international parliamentary organizations and diplomats were also invited. As it was reported earlier, Donald Tusk, the Head of the European Council is visiting Ukraine on Monday. The official joins the solemn events in Ukraine, as people remember the final days of the Revolution of Dignity that took place in February 2014. The three days, from February 18 till February 20, became the bloodiest period in the history of Euromaidan movement. About a hundred protesters and a dozen of law enforcers deceased and a thousand more were injured in the gruesome street fights that occurred in the downtown Kyiv.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has announced that the EU has achieved political consensus on new sanctions against the Russian Federation. The sanctions are related to Russia’s attack on three Ukrainian boats near the Kerch Strait.
28 EU member states joined the so-called “Azov package” of sanctions against Russia, as President Poroshenko said during the public meeting concerning the release of the Ukrainian sailors, broadcasted by 112 Ukraine. “These 28 EU member states unanimously imposed sanctions against Russia for its attack against Ukraine in Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. This form of solidarity is extremely important,” Poroshenko said.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has thanked the Council of the European Union for the unanimous decision to impose the “Azov package” of sanctions against the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian president stresses the importance of European unity and solidarity with Ukraine.
The EU needs to provide support to Ukraine in connection with the situation in the area of the Sea of Azov, Vice President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini has stated.
The European Union is set to sanction more people in connection with Russia’s encroachment in Ukraine, seeking to display a firm stance in defense of Ukrainian sovereignty.
euronews (in English) Published on Feb 18, 2019 Nearly 13,000 people have been killed in five years of fighting in the border region between Russia and Ukraine.…
euronews (in English) Published on Feb 18, 2019 The EU is preparing to impose new sanctions on Russia, accusing Moscow of supporting separatist rebels fighting in Eastern Ukraine. The move follows a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels on Monday. @BillNeelyNBC has this report from Ukraine.
Ukraine’s foreign minister asked the European Union on Monday for hundreds of millions of euros in loans and aid for infrastructure and businesses in its troubled east and south, regions he said Russia was trying to “suffocate”.
Ukraine’s foreign minister asks the European Union for hundreds of millions of euros in loans and aid for infrastructure and businesses in its troubled east and south, regions he said Russia was trying to ‘suffocate’
Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak met with members of the U.S. delegation headed by Senator Joni Ernst on February 18 to discuss bilateral cooperation with a view to strengthening Ukraine’s defense capabilities, according to the website of the Ukrainian government. — Ukrinform.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko used his time at the Munich Security Conference to rally the international community for stronger unified actions against Russia on Feb. 16. In a meeting the same day, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told Poroshenko that the United States strongly supports Ukraine. “We’re with you, and we stand with you,” Pence said. Pence said Russia’s attacks on Ukraine in the Kerch Strait are a “reminder of the challenges that Ukraine faces from Russian aggression.” Joining Poroshenko in the security discussion was Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, Organization for Security and Cooperation Secretary General Thomas Greminger and European Parliament member Manfred Weber. Ian Bremmer, president and founder of the Eurasia Group, moderated the talk. Poroshenko concentrated on Ukraine’s right to defend its borders and sovereignty, explaining that “if Russia stops shooting, it will be peace. If Ukraine stops shooting, there will be no Ukraine,” in the five-year-old war that his killed more than 13,000 people, including 2,925 soldiers; dismembered 7 percent of Ukrainian territory; and displaced more than 1.5 million people. “If we stop defending freedom and democracy, we will kneel in front of the aggressor,” Poroshenko said. He said that Ukraine is NATO’s eastern flank, and that Ukrainians are fighting for everyone’s freedom. “If we do not have unity and solidarity, the aggressor can go significantly further,” he said.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he is convinced that the Kremlin is seeking not only to return Ukraine to its zone of influence, but also to destroy its statehood in order to create Soviet Union 2.0. A recent Russian attack on Ukrainian boats near the Kerch Strait is an attempt to occupy the Kerch Strait and the Azov-Black Sea basin.
Russia is trying to destroy the Ukrainian statehood, which is confirmed, in particular by its aggressive actions in the Azov-Black Sea basin and the capture of Ukrainian sailors. — Ukrinform.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence has assured Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that the U.S. leadership, due to Russia’s aggression in the Kerch Strait, canceled all meetings with Russians until the release of Ukrainian prisoners of war. — Ukrinform.
US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said that Moscow is not showing any interest in arranging a meeting between Russian …
Ukraine insists on a permanent observation mission in the Kerch Strait, and Russia does not agree with this, Interfax Ukraine quoted Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin as saying. “We are now talking about making this mission permanent and observing both from space and from water in order to know exactly what Russia is doing and not doing there… We need to get a permanent mission. Russia refuses it,” the minister told reporters in Munich. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister noted that he had discussed the issue of the mission with the French and German sides. “They understood that if they send a couple of Germans and a couple of French to occupied Kerch, it will not be a mission,” Klimkin said. At the end of January, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Russian President Vladimir Putin had proposed German Chancellor Angela Merkel to arrange a one-time visit of experts to the Kerch Strait. At the same time, the Kremlin opposed the multilateral monitoring mission near the Kerch Strait.
Russia has shut down for navigation the area in the Sea of Azov near the Kerch Strait to conduct live-fire drills on February 18-20, 2019. E-warfare exercises were also held.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said Ukraine will not allow Russia turning the Azov Sea into its own lake. The president has been seeking international assistance in making Russia ensure freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait and in the Azov Sea.
What started as a seemingly internal squabble has become one of the most dangerous potential flashpoints between Russia and the United States.
Kremlin’s plan to sow chaos in Ukraine – EU Today
An aircraft of the U.S. Air Force has conducted a reconnaissance flight over the Black Sea off the coast of the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula. Boeing RC-135V reconnaissance aircraft tail No.64-14846 call sign MITE21 took off from the Souda Bay airbase in Greece’s Crete at 08:35 Moscow time.
Rapid soil salinization is threatening to cause another environmental disaster in the Russian-occupied Crimea. In the settlement of Dmytrivka in Radyansky district, the locals started noticing the water of the large Sivash lake nearby becoming more saline, according to a local news outlet “Primechaniya.” “Sivash has become more saline, trees are dying as a result. They dry out, then people cut them for firewood, but that wood smells differently than before – as if it had been soaked in saline,” reads the report.
Chief of Ukraine’s SBU Security Service Vasyl Hrytsak says Russia’s FSB has opened criminal cases against more than 130 Crimean Tatar activists since Russia occupied Ukraine’s Crimea in March 2014. The newly established Orthodox Church of Ukraine is the Russian FSB’s main target today.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed the law introducing amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine regarding the state’s strategic course for gaining full membership of the European Union and NATO. — Ukrinform.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a law on amendments to the Constitution on Ukraine’s path to the European Union and NATO. Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, had backed the relevant amendments Feb 7.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine has reported its monitors spotted a military aircraft flying near the Russian-occupied village of Starobesheve in Donbas, eastern Ukraine. The SMM assessed it as a swept wing four-engine turbo-prop aircraft (likely a Tupolev TU-95 or Tupolev TU-142).
On the Internet, some information Internet publications disseminate information that supposedly on February 15, 2019 in the airspace of Ukraine in the area of conducting the JFO was observed a flight of the RF VKS aircraft of the type TU-95.
The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine reports that five LPR militants from the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) opened fire on …
19.02.19 10:54 – 12 attacks against JFO positions yesterday as terrorists employ 122-mm artillery, 120- and 82-mm mortars, ATGMs, IFVs Feb. 18, Russian occupying forces violated the cease-fire 12 times, while 10 of them involved the use of 122-mm artillery systems, 120- and 82-mm mortars. Overall the enemy fired 117 shells and mortars. The attacks at Ukrainian strong points also… View news.
On February 18, Russian occupation forces violated ceasefire agreements 12 times, using 122mm artillery systems and 120mm and 82mm mortars ten times, in the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) area in eastern Ukraine. — Ukrinform.
Four members of Ukraine’s Joint Forces were wounded in action as Russia-led forces mounted 12 attacks on Ukrainian positions in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, in the past day.
Russia’s hybrid military forces in the past 24 hours mounted 12 attacks on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas, with four Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action. Nine invaders were killed and another one was captured in the past day, intelligence reports say.
The Ukrainian military captured a pro-Russian militant in Svitlodarsk, reported the Joint Forces Operation’s press service. The enemy's …
The head of the Donbas Volunteers Union, former Prime Minister of the so-called Donetsk People’s Rebublic Alexander Borodai stated during the congress of the Council of Donbas Volunteer Commanders in Moscow that more than 400 members of pro-Russian armed groups that are fighting in the Donbas could have been deported from Russia at Ukraine’s request. He alleged that thanks to the activities of the Russian organization Donbas Volunteers Union (DVU), they avoided getting deported. Its members include mercenaries from Russia and other countries. “About 800 wounded were treated with the help of the DVU and many were given advanced medical care. More than 400 people avoided deportation thanks to our activities,” DVU’s website quotes Borodai as saying.
A Russian user has shared a recently recorded video showing Russian military equipment amassed in Rostov region near the border with Ukraine. The video was reportedly recorded on February 18, 2019.
The drills also involved army aviation.
Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase. It appears hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.
Ukraine’s state-owned defense industrial companySpetsteсhnoexport, has announced that a number of countries have expressed interest in Ukrainian “deep-upgraded” long-range VHF radar. According to a statement, Spetstechnoexport organized a successful demonstration of a new version of the deep-upgraded VHF radar for the military attache of foreign countries. The demonstration was held at one of the military landfills of the Kyiv region. All the key radar mechanisms, apart from the antenna, are new and engineered by a Ukrainian private company. Representatives of embassies of foreign countries, who visited the demonstration, highly appreciated the new development of Ukrainian specialists. It was stated that the radar has big export prospects. The interest is confirmed, in particular, by the Indian partners of Spetsteсhnoexport. During the international exhibition AeroIndia 2019, which will be held February 20-24 in Bangalore, a series of talks will be held on potential of the Ukrainian meter range radar for the needs of the Indian Armed Forces.
Ukraine and the United Arab Emirates for the first time presented a joint project, the Al-Wahash armored personnel carrier with BM-3M Shturm combat module. — Ukrinform.
The latest ‘court hearing’ in Russia’s trial of Pavlo Hryb lasted all of two minutes on 18 February. Neither the prosecutor nor the interpreter had turned up in what was clearly a planned move to prevent Hryb’s doctor publicly spelling out how Russia is placing the young man’s life in jeopardy –
A hearing on the case of illegally imprisoned Ukrainian citizen Pavlo Hryb in Russia on February 18 was disrupted: it lasted only two minutes, as neither a prosecutor nor an interpreter appeared for the trial. The next court hearing is scheduled for March 4, 2019.
The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine will protect the interests of small-sized business and the field of information technology (IT). — Ukrinform.
Nationalists hold “Bandera, stand up!” protest. Around 250 people walked towards the Interior Ministry. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today
Over 30 people who are accused of committing crimes during Euromaidan still work in law enforcement agencies, ten of them – hold senior positions, as Sergiy Horbatyk, the Head of Special Investigations Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office, said, 112 Ukraine reported. “For today, 36 people who were served with charges, continue working in law enforcement agencies, ten of them hold executive positions. People charged accused of organizing murders, continue working, and all the reaction concerning their removal are being overruled: courts do not agree on that, leadership does not take any steps. And there are lots of such examples, ” he noted commenting the problems the Special Investigations Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office faces investigating the Euromaidan crimes. Among other problems, Horbatyuk noted direct interference in the work of the department.
It is impossible to seize the property of the ex-president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine stated as Ukrainian News reports. “Seizure of the property of the accused one as the type of the additional punishment cannot be applied”, – the report said.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini says that the EU will continue to work with Ukraine “whatever the outcome of the elections” in the country. The presidential elections in Ukraine are scheduled for March 31, 2019.
Eight candidates for the presidency of Ukraine have appealed to the police to ensure their protection, Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov has said.
KYIV. Feb 18 (Interfax-Ukraine) – If Ukraine’s presidential election were held next Sunday, showman Volodymyr Zelensky would receive 18.2% of votes from those who have picked their candidate, incumbent President Petro Poroshenko would have 15.6% and Batkivschyna Party leader Yulia Tymoshenko 15.2%.
Ukraine needs a leader who would drive the country’s “transformation,” Ukraine’s presidential candidate Yulia Tymoshenko told DW in Munich. The former PM also slammed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as unnecessary.
The SBU Security Service of Ukraine on February 18 detained Yevhen Morenets, who used an alias “White Balaclava” in his addresses to “supporters” via YouTube. Provocations were planned regardless of the names of candidates who would make it to the second round. The SBU Security Service of Ukraine on February 18 detained Yevhen Morenets, who used an alias “White Balaclava” in his addresses to “supporters” via YouTube. “Special services suspect him of working for the Russian FSB,” SBU Deputy Head Viktor Kononenko said at a briefing. He noted the Russian intelligence had been planning through the “White Balaclava” project (acting on Moscow’s orders since the autumn of 2018) to organize protests in Ukraine immediately after the presidential election on March 31: the riots were set to lead to non-recognition of election results and a violent overthrow of government. Moreover, provocations were planned regardless of the names of candidates who would make it to the second round.
Attacks on religious buildings in Ukraine are organized from the territory of the occupied Donbas, and plans to destabilize the situation on religious grounds are coordinated with the FSB of the Russian Federation, head of the Ukraine’s SBU State Security Service Vasyl Hrytsak has said. “Attacks on religious buildings are organized from the territory of the occupied Donbas, but we have information … that plans to destabilize the religious situation are coordinated with the FSB of Rostov region,” the head of the SBU said during a coordination meeting of law enforcement officials on Monday.
The Security Service of Ukraine confirms that the bishop of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Gedeon had three passports (Ukrainian, Russian and American). Vasyl Hrytsak, the Head of SBU, said this, according to Ukrinform. “He possessed the passports of three countries indeed. The first passport with Ukrainian citizenship, the second one with the citizenship of the Russian Federation and the third one with the citizenship of the United States of America”, – Hrytsak said.
Horlivka and Slovyansk Metropolitan Mitrofan of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has been questioned in Slovyansk on suspicion of contacts with illegal paramilitary groups, the local police press service has told Novosti Donbassa. The metropolitan was stopped at a checkpoint near Slovyansk. It turned that he was in the Interior Ministry’s database as a person maintaining contacts with illegal paramilitary groups. “He was invited to a police station and questioned in the presence of a lawyer,” the police said. They added that Mitrofan “is not yet facing a criminal case”. “Operatives will further deal with this,” the police said. Earlier, Mitrofan and Donetsk and Mariupol Metropolitan Ilarian (Shukalo) were not allowed to cross into the separatist-controlled territory of Donetsk Region through the Novotroyitske checkpoint because the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) had annulled their passes. Two days later their passes were renewed. The Donetsk and Horlivka eparchies are located on both sides of the line of contact.
A Synod of the Cyprus Orthodox Church on Monday, February 18, discussed the issue of recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Closing the meeting, representatives of the Synod read out the decision that had been made, according to the TSN news service. The decision says the Church of Cyprus fully supports Ukraine in its desire to create its own local Church. It is noted that Ukraine had every right to ask the Ecumenical Patriarchate to grant them autocephaly. Also, the decision criticizes Russia and its aggressive behavior toward the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). “The priests note that the representatives of the Russian Church had the opportunity to come to the Council and state their position openly and negotiate a dialogue, but this was never done, therefore, they did not have the right to ignore the Council and interfere in the OCU’s affairs, and they shall not have such right in the future,” TSN quotes the decision of the Synod. Finally, the Cyprus Church noted that even though the creation of the OCU was designed to solve an internal religious split in Ukraine, so far many contradictions and tensions have remained. As UNIAN reported earlier, Russian spies and Moscow-controlled “security services” in the occupied parts of Donbas have been working to recruit Ukrainian nationals who would commit arson attacks on temples operated by Orthodox priests of what was until recently called the Moscow Patriarchate. Recently, the SBU security Service documented at least two such episodes, and more are yet to come, the agency warns.
Bishop Viktor (Kotsaba), head of the Representative Office of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) to the European international organizations, has addressed officials from the UN, the OSCE, the EU and several countries in connection with human rights violations in Ukraine and the threat of escalation of religious conflicts. “To our great regret, Ukraine’s Orthodox Christians have become pawns of the political game of the top officials of the state, who have involved in these processes Constantinople Patriarch Bartholomew, which has already led to numerous conflicts based on religion,” the bishop said in his video address released on Monday. The bishop said the attempt to create a unified local church in Ukraine has led to new contradictions and conflicts. “The places of worship of our Church, which has a thousand-year history, are now being taken over, the flock are being laid into, and state officials are making the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church join the ‘new Church’ supported by the president of Ukraine. The Security Service of Ukraine is summoning our priests for questionings, and our bishops can only go abroad after preliminary questioning and reinforced examination by special state services,” the bishop said.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 17 – Russian authorities have charged as extremists only followers of non-traditional religions like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Olga Sibiryeva says, but the logic they are using these cases not only contradicts good sense but also undermines the sense of security the followers of other believers, including traditional ones, have. Speaking to a conference on religious affairs at Moscow’s Institute of Europe, the SOVA expert argues that the authorities’ use of the Yarovaya anti-extemism laws against believers on the grounds that the assertion by them that such people are extremists because they hold that their religion is true and thus other religions are false is absurd and dangerous. That is because religions are based on the assumption that they are true, Sibiryeva says; and consequently, all are at risk under this interpretation of Russian law of being “extremist” (sclj.ru/news/detail.php?SECTION_ID=487&ELEMENT_ID=8018&fbclid=IwAR3e6VmpyrKjEidzRzem8LOX93A37Cz2MXOTMUYBqesX59pqaEokhLZ4QiA). To date, officials have not applied the anti-extremism law to followers of the four traditional faiths; but the attack on the Jehovah’s Witnesses has led to criticism of other “non-traditional” religions, opening the way attacks on them and calling into question the idea that religious belief itself is protected in Russia. And the fact that the technology of banning the Jehovah’s Witnesses was originally developed for use against Muslim groups, whose literature has been banned as extremist, shows how easily extremist laws can be extended from one group to another, even if the believers involved are considered part of a “traditional” faith. The February 14th session to which Sibiryeva spoke attracted a wide range of Russian and European experts who discussed how Russian laws should be changed so that this danger is reduced if not eliminated. They proposed that Russian law be brought into line with European practice. Most importantly, they argued that no one should be charged with extremism because of their belief in the truthfulness of their religion. Such confidence should not be the subject of legal sanction unless it leads to violent actions against other groups. Only if that confidence is restored by changes in law can all believers have confidence they too will not run afoul of the law.
Paul Goble Staunton, February 17 – The headquarters of the International Foundation for Slavic Writing and Culture, informally known as the center of the “Russian world” and located only a 15-minute walk from the Kremlin, has been shuttered because of debts; and despite protests by its supporters, it doesn’t appear that it will rescued by the cash-strapped Russian government. On Thursday, officials ordered the foundation to vacate the building because of massive debts; and then on Friday, some 60 of its employees and supporters held a demonstration calling on the government to rescue the organization. The Russian culture ministry, however, indicated that it has no plans to do so (mbk-news.appspot.com/suzhet/izgnanie-russkogo-mir/). The foundation, created in 1989 with the blessing of the Moscow Patriarchate, has been at that location since 1992. It has attracted attention for its “’pantheon of the heroes of Novorossiya,’ a monarchist museum, a restaurant, and its distribution of openly anti-Semitic and conspiracy theory materials The site also housed the editorial offices of the journal Russky dom, a radical nationalist publication whose editorial board includes Metropolitan Tikhon of Pskov, a close friend and spiritual advisor to Vladimir Putin. But apparently, under today’s stringent economic conditions, even such ties to the Kremlin have proved insufficient to save the situation. The foundation was warned last October that it was operating in violation of the rules in various ways, but it appears the proximate cause of the closure is that it is 22 million rubles (300,000 US dollars) behind in rent payments. Its supporters argue that the government should intervene to pay that off and put the foundation on a more stable economic basis. All this suggests that despite the prominence the Russian world project has in the Putin ideological pantheon, the Russian authorities don’t have the money to rescue one of its most prominent centers. That could also be an indication that the Russian world may be declining in importance for the Kremlin except as an ideological meme.