Information operations

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (124)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

</end editorial>



Fairford Buff deployment is very busy, and Russians reacting. More Russian incursions in the Baltics. NATO responds to Russian threats. Travin compares Russia’s faux-Fascism with the NSDAP, noting the main difference in Russia is a regime agenda for personal enrichment (also true in the NSDAP scheme but not overtly). Shelin on how the Vozhd has self-entrapped in his role as the Vozhd. Prof Goble commentary on the regime’s loss of credibility. Corruption in Russian military increasing. Speculation on the Vozhd’s future. Update on Russian meddling in the EU. Lesin death increasingly seen as suspect.

In the UK, legislation impacted by Salisbury attack, and Russia attempts to engage UK commerce.

Ukraine imposes sanctions over Kerch. Crimea and Donbas updates. More on TB2 RPV trials and the MAM-L miniature GBU. Election, economic and political updates, and OCU update. More on religious persecution in Russia.


U.S. B-52 Bombers Belonging To Task Force Deployed To UK Perform “Theater Familiarization Flights” Across Europe – The Aviationist

Stratofortress bombers are part of a Task Force of 6 “Buffs”: the largest American bomber deployment to RAF Fairford since the Iraq war in 2003. On Mar. 18, 2019, a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber, deployed to RAF Fairford from its homebase at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, was spotted refueling from a KC-135R Stratotanker over Romania. The aircraft, belonging to the 2nd Bomb Wing, is part of a contingent of 6x B-52s deployed to the UK as part of a Bomber Task Force rotation in Europe. It is the largest Stratofortress deployment since Iraqi Freedom in 2003, when there were as many as 17x “Buffs” on the ramp at RAF Fairford “The deployment of strategic bombers to the U.K. helps exercise RAF Fairford as United States Air Forces in Europe’s forward operating location for bombers. The deployment also includes joint and allied training in the U.S. European Command theater to improve bomber interoperability. Training with joint partners, allied nations and other U.S. Air Force units contributes to our ready and postured forces and enables us to build enduring and strategic relationships necessary to confront a broad range of global challenges,” says a news release on the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command website. The B-52 were deployed to the UK on Mar. 14 and 15 and have started launching “local” sorties since Friday. On Mar. 15, a B-52 flew some 150 km off the Russian border the Russian Defense Ministry claimed according to TASS News Agency: “On March 15, 2019, a US Air Force B-52 aircraft with the transponder switched on performed a flight over international waters of the Baltic Sea parallel to Russia’s territorial waters. The plane did not approach Russia’s border closer than 150 kilometers and turned around immediately after Russian air defense systems on combat duty tracked it,” the Russian MoD said. B-52s have been quite active this week too: the heavy bombers have already conducted other “theater familiarization flights” on Monday, when four B-52s were launched over the Norwegian Sea, the Baltic Sea, Estonia, the Mediterranean Sea and Greece. Some of them could be tracked online during their tour of Europe.

US Air Force deploys B-52s to Europe in message to Russia – CNNPolitics

The US Air Force recently deployed six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Europe for “theater integration and flying training” exercises with regional allies and NATO partners — a move viewed as sending a strong message to Russia, which is celebrating the five-year anniversary of its military annexation of Crimea.

U.S. Air Force B-52s conduct training missions off Russian coast – Defence Blog

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa Public Affairs has confirmed that U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortresses bombers are conducting training flights in the Baltics and Poland as a clear and visible demonstration of U.S. commitment to regional security. “These missions have been closely coordinated with the governments of the respective countries and the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence units operating there,” said in a statement. According to media reports in recent weeks, U.S. Air Force B-52 nuclear-capable reportedly spotted flying near Russian coast. B-52H Stratofortress strategic bomber of the U.S. Air Force, assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, flew for over one and a half an hour near the borders of Russia in the Kaliningrad and Leningrad regions. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed Saturday that a US B-52H Stratofortress multirole strategic bomber aircraft flew over the Baltic Sea approached to within about 93 miles (150 km) of Russia’s border. “On March 15, 2019, a US Air Force B-52 aircraft with the transponder switched on performed a flight over international waters of the Baltic Sea parallel to Russia’s territorial waters,” the ministry said. “The plane did not approach Russia’s border closer than 150 kilometers and turned around immediately after Russian air defense systems on combat duty tracked it.” A B-52 plane was last spotted over the Baltic Sea in 2017. According to a statement released by the U.S. Air Force, the strategic bombers, part of the Bomber Task Force currently deployed to the U.S. European Command area of responsibility, are from the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The aircraft arrived in theater on March 14-15 and are temporarily operating out of RAF Fairford. The deployment of strategic combers to the U.K. helps exercise RAF Fairford as the U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s forward training location for bombers.

Russian fighter jet intercepts US B-52H bomber over Baltic – Defence Blog

A pair of Russian fighter jets conducted an intercept of U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber over international waters of the Baltic Sea. On Wednesday, in Russian social media was released images showed ‘intercept’ of U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber (US Air Force number 61-0013, short side number “1013”, code “LA”, callsign AERO32) assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing. Two Russian jets SU-27 have forced a US B-52H bomber to move away from the Russian border, the Defense Ministry told the media on Thursday. The B-52 was flying over international waters of the Baltic Sea. Russia’s air space control means identified it far away from the border and put it under observation. Two SU-27 jets of the air defense forces were ordered to identify and escort the aircraft. After the strategic bomber B-52H changed course to move away from the Russian state border the jets returned to base, the Defense Ministry’s statement says. According to a statement released by the U.S. Air Force, a bomber task force of B-52 Stratofortresses, airmen and support equipment from the 2nd Bomb Wing based out of Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, arrived at RAF Fairford late last week and has been participating in various training missions across Europe, according to the service. “These missions have been closely coordinated with the governments of the respective countries and the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence units operating there,” said in a statement. The aircraft arrived in theater on March 14-15 and are temporarily operating out of RAF Fairford. The deployment of strategic combers to the U.K. helps exercise RAF Fairford as the U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s forward training location for bombers. “On Monday, four B-52s “conducted flights to several places in Europe, including to the Norwegian Sea, the Baltic Sea/Estonia and the Mediterranean Sea/Greece,” the U.S. Air Force said. This is the largest deployment of US strategic aviation in Europe since the operation against Iraq in 2003.

 

 

UAWire – NATO fighters scrambled four times to intercept Russian aircraft over the Baltic last week

NATO fighters, which protect the airspace of the Baltic countries, flew four times to intercept Russian aircraft last week, the Polish Radio reported. “NATO jets twice (on March 11 and 12) flew to identify the Russian Su-35 and Su-27 fighters, which accompanied Russian passenger planes Tu-134. On March 13 and 14, the fighters scrambled to intercept the Russian An-26 transport jets and one Il-18,” the statement read. The airspace of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is now being protected by Polish fighters of NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission from the Lithuanian air base in Šiauliai and German fighters in the Estonian Ämari Air Base. There have been several incidents involving Russian aircraft since the beginning of the year, when the Polish F-16 took over a four-month mission to patrol the airspace of the Baltic countries.

Russia’s threats to target NATO member states are unacceptable

Moscow’s statements threatening to target NATO member states if U.S. missiles prohibited by the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty are deployed there are unacceptable, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. “Russian statements threatening to target Allies are unacceptable and counterproductive,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with Interfax. “The 9M729 (NATO reporting name SSC-8) missile system developed and deployed by Russia violates the INF Treaty, and poses a significant risk to our security,” he said. “These missiles are mobile and hard to detect. They can reach European cities with little warning, carrying conventional or nuclear warheads, and they lower the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons,” Stoltenberg said. “The United States and other Allies have engaged with Russia about this missile system for several years,” he said. “Unfortunately, Russia has not shown any willingness to return to compliance. That is why the United States, with the full support of all NATO Allies, has announced its intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty,” he said. “This will take several months, so Russia still has a chance to come back into compliance. We call on Russia to take this opportunity,” he said. The full text of the interview will appear at www.interfax.com.

Stoltenberg: We do not intend to deploy new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe

NATO does not plan to deploy new land-based nuclear missiles in Europe, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

Is the Pentagon moving quickly enough on hypersonic defense?

The Pentagon is still years away from being able to defend against hypersonic weapons.

With an eye to China and Russia, the US Navy plans a lethal upgrade to its destroyers

Facing threats from ever-faster missiles and increasingly complicated air threats from China and Russia, the Navy is moving toward a major upgrade to its stalwart Arleigh Burke destroyer fleet.

Javier Solana | Back to the Nuclear Precipice

Ten years ago, during his first trip to Europe as US president, Barack Obama delivered a historic speech in Prague. Much to the delight of the crowd, Obama described a world free of nuclear arms as being both desirable and within reach. That declaration was unprecedented for an American president, and would contribute to his winning the Nobel Peace Prize later that year. Obama also used the occasion to reassure Czechs – and Europeans generally – that the United States would never turn its back on them; that its commitment to the principle of collective defense under Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty was permanent and unconditional. Those words now seem like a relic of a bygone era. Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, has questioned that key pillar of NATO, departing from almost 70 years of diplomatic tradition. Worse, he recently announced his intention to withdraw the US from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, which has been fundamental in guaranteeing European security since 1987. And though the Obama administration did end up deprioritizing nuclear disarmament over time, Trump seems to have replaced that goal with its polar opposite: rearmament. To be sure, bilateral agreements like the INF Treaty – an artifact of the late Cold War – are no longer sufficient in today’s multipolar world. While the US and Russia are forbidden under the treaty from possessing land-based missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (300-3,400 miles), an estimated 95% of China’s missile arsenal now comprises precisely such weapons.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Russia Today Resembles Hitler’s Germany of the 1930s Except in One Critical Way, Travin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 20 – Vladimir Putin’s Russia in many ways resembles Adolf Hitler’s Germany of the 1930s, Dmitry Travin says. Like its counterpart, Russia today has “more than enough revanchism and militarism” to make the comparison compelling. But there is one major difference: Russia’s elite “is not set up for world domination but for personal enrichment.” The head of the Center for Research on Modernization at St. Petersburg’s European University points out that “today some think that the defeat of the USSR in the cold war have given rise to a revanchism approximately the same as the defeat of Germany a century ago.” That widespread needs to be carefully examined (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2019/03/20/1770385.html). And it is also time to examine why the Germans “calmed down after 1945” when they lost World War II but not after 1918” when they lost World War I because that different too helps to explain why Russia today both resembles and yet is very different than Hitler’s Germany with which it is often compared. After World War I, Travin says, “Germany was seriously reduced economically but not politically. The opportunities for the normal development of German society were undermined, but the empire remained almost untouched which preserved the basis for the rebirth of statism and militarism.” In 1919, the victors thought “not so much about the future arrangements of Europe as about compensating themselves” for the losses they had suffered. To that end, they improved draconian reparations requirements on Germany, a move that destroyed the economy and convinced Germans that their enemies wanted them to suffer. But at the same time, Travin continues, “territorially Germany remained almost as it was under the Second Reich.” Yes, it lost Alsace and Lorraine, and “the rebirth of Poland pushed the eastern border of Germany significantly to the west. But te country was not split up into separate pieces.” “Therefore,” he says, “when Hitler decided to move toward confrontation, he was able to build a Third Reich quickly because he had sufficient territory, population and an industrial base.” After World War II, the allies behaved in exactly the opposite way: they divided the country but they left in place “all the possibilities for rapid economic recovery and even helped this process to go forward.” Moreover, they pursued de-Nazification, integrated Germany into larger military blocks to prevent it behaving independently, and sponsored its integration into larger economic communities as well. As a result, “in contrast to the situation of the 1920s and 1930s, the Germans became ever richer and ever less thought about the revival of imperial power, all the more so because the democratic politicians ruling in the country in the 1950ss and 1960s did not urge the population to think otherwise as the Nazis had done in the 1930s.” That provides the basis for a comparison between Germany in the to post-war periods and Russia today, Travin says. The USSR did fall apart and its population was halved, similar to the situation in Germany n 1945. But the Russian Federation retained an enormous empire which recalls Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Because of the latter factor, “certain citizens believe that we will be able to easily bring down our enemies without understand that one must compare strength according to the level of economic development and the size of the military budget.” Russia could mobilize the population, but even if it did, it could not achieve equality with NATO or China. But that is not the chief differences between Russia today and Hitler’s Germany. That lies in the state of the minds of the elites.” In interwar Germany, the ruling party and the army and the industrial leaders assumed that they could defeat all of Europe in a war. Many were revanchists, and life punished them severely for this.” Russia today, however, has an elite which thinks “not about revanchism but only about filling its own pockets,” Travin says. And its members understand that will be possible only in peace time because a major war, which would be required to take revenge, would be “the path to the loss of millions of their wealth, bank accounts and property in the West.” For this reason and despite all the similarities in other aspects, “Putin’s Russia is not like the Germany of the 1930s.” Yes, there is aggressive rhetoric, and yes, there is a desire for revenge among the less well-educated. But the elites don’t share these values and there is nothing like the world crisis of the 1930s. “The goals of the Russian ruling circles today are completely different,” Travin says. “There are no illusions among them regarding the world rule in this circle. On the other hand, the striving for personal enrichment is enormous.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Putin Now a Prisoner of Putinism’ and Russia Suffers as a Result,” Shelin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 20 – In the months since the last presidential election, it has become obvious that “Putin is now a prisoner of Putinism,” that the Kremlin leader is going to use all the same mechanisms he has used in the past even though they are leading to “dead ends” and that as a result, the interests of Russia will be sacrificed to keep him in power, Sergey Shelin says. Emblematic of this change, the Rosbalt commentator says, is the case of a young girl from Pskov who appealed to Putin for help as so many have in the past and instead of getting it experienced all kinds of misfortunes from local officials who were angry because she had made them look bad (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2019/03/19/1770405.html). Obviously, Shelin says, not everyone who asks for help can be given it – the state simply doesn’t have the resources to do so – but if that is the expectation that the Putin system has created, when help isn’t forthcoming it can lead to disaster, as it has on the larger issue of pensions where Moscow doesn’t have the money to meet the expectations of the population. In the first year of Putin’s term, Putin and his regime have continued to use the approaches that worked so well in the past only to discover that doing so has the effect of driving the country’s “leadership and together with it, the country, one must note, into one dead end after another.” As a result, the population has deserted the regime, viewing it with her greater hostility. And the regime has responded with a law that will punish any criticism of it, an implicit admission by “the highest echelons of power of their own inability to give the ruling class a positive image.” Indeed, the all too obvious hostility of the ruling elite toward the population helps explain this because such hostility “has become the only outlet for the privileged strata” to let off steam. “The leader is powerless before this fact, and therefore he has to calculate that the antagonism of the lower order to the upper ones ill only grow.” Anywhere one looks, Shelin says, “Putin has become a prisoner of Putinism, the system he built which for a long time looked successful.” But it isn’t working anymore: it didn’t prevent the electoral disasters of September 2018, “the biggest crisis of the power vertical for the last 15 years.” Its strategies haven’t worked, but so far, the regime hasn’t changed them. The Kremlin isn’t winning any points for supporting Asad or Maduro. “None at all.” But nonetheless it is supporting them. It isn’t winning more support for seeking to unite Belarus with Russia, rather the reverse, but again it is trying to do so. And it is not gaining anything from opposing Poroshenko in Ukraine – but it can’t seem to change course. Thus, the first year of Putin’s latest term in office has been a disaster because he has “ruled as a prisoner of his own political inheritance,” Shelin says. “This doesn’t mean that there won’t be changes. There will be for this inheritance is in ever great conflict with reality. And to keep power, Putin is ready to sacrifice a lot.” “In the first instance, the interests of the country.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Anger at Putin’s Increasingly Absurd Laws Spreading to Ordinary Russians in Ordinary Regions

Paul Goble Staunton, March 20 – In his classic poem, “The Fall of Rome,” W.H. Auden captures the moment when the collapse of an empire becomes inevitable when he speaks of “a bored official writing down on a pink official form, ‘I do not like my work,’ and going home.” Something like that is now happening among ordinary Russians in ordinary Russian regions. Belgorod Oblast is one of those places. With its 1.5 million people, most of whom are ethnic Russians, two-thirds of whom are urban, and no history of protest – indeed rather the reverse – it is one of the last places one would expect to find people protesting anything Moscow has done. But this past weekend, 20 people there went into the streets to protest the new law prohibiting criticism of Russian officials and government institutions. They carried signs declaring “Take Time to Criticize the Powers for the Last Time” and “Stop Violating the Constitution” (go31.ru/news/2335019/uspej-pokritikovat-vlast-v-poslednij-raz-belgorodskie-aktivisty-piketirovali-novye-zakony). The most remarkable in many ways, however, said simply: “The closer to the end of an empire, the more insane its laws become,” a fundamental truth that caused it to attract the attention of the Region.Expert portal (region.expert/belgorod-picket/), if not yet the central media or even most of the media in Belgorod itself. Igor Tsevmenko, a member of the Belgorod city council and an organizer of the picket, said that “we understand perfectly well that the powers that be are making yet another attempt to close our mouths so that we cannot criticize the organs of the executive and legislative branches” of the government.” “We consider this absolutely unacceptable. Therefore, we have come out for a mass picket and called on society to express its point of view to the population of the city,” he continued. Others who took part echoed his views: One said that officials must “deserve respect” if they are going to avoid criticism. And still others said during the course of the hour-long demonstration: “we are not slaves! we won’t be silent!” and indicated that they had no plans to “shut their mouths” whatever the powers that be in Moscow say and whatever penalties it imposes. Svetlana Sheychenko, another participant, said that “we are standing here because we are fighting for freedom of speech and the rights of citizens. Some do not even know that they must now be more careful with their words. And who will decide what is health criticism and what is defamation?” “It’s possible,” she said, that such issues will require the creation of “’a Ministry of Truth,’” the kind of Orwellian institution that regimes in trouble adopt to defend themselves but that ultimately eats away at whatever remaining support they have, including among those they think of as their “base.”

Corruption in Russia’s Military Quadrupled in 2018, Prosecutors Say – To Inform is to Influence

Corruption in Russia is deemed semi-acceptable by Russian law. Why is it, then, no surprise that corruption in the Russian military is rampant? According to 4 Types of Political Corruption, there are 4 types of corruption. Types of Corruption 1) Payoffs and Bribes 2) Graft and Embezzlement 3) Blackmail and Extortion 4) Preferential Treatment The first two, payoffs, bribes, graft, and embezzlement, are the most common in regards to the Russian military. Payoffs and bribes to gain a military contract are rampant, then skimming off the top of the profits follows. This is also a common standard operating procedure for Russian Oligarchs, regardless of their field, but many have come to an “understanding” with President Putin. Dealing with the Russian military, however, is a bit more tightly controlled, hence there is a greater chance of being caught – or turned in. This is all a part of Putin’s Kleptocracy in Russia. </end editorial>

Kremlin Wonders If Putin Will Follow in Kazakh Leader’s Footsteps

Battle for the sky.

Stepping Down But Staying Offers Putin Way to Keep Power – Bloomberg

An aging leader steps down as president but keeps a firm grip on the reins of power. For many in the Kremlin, the choreographed events unfolding in neighboring Kazakhstan are a model for Russian President Vladimir Putin to consider.

European People’s Party votes to suspend Hungarian President Orban’s Fidesz Party

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party has been suspended from the main pan-European centre-right party family until further notice, the European People’s Party’s President Joseph Daul said on Wednesday.

Warsaw Snubs Russia Ahead Of World War II Commemoration

Poland has refused to invite a Russian delegation to a ceremony to commemorate 80 years since the outbreak of World War II.

UAWire – Poland did not invite Putin to the 80th anniversary of World War II outbreak

The office of Poland’s President Andrzej Duda did not invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to participate in the events dedicated to the 80th …

UAWire – Two Russian intelligence front companies uncovered in Czech Republic

The network of Russian intelligence agents operating under cover in the Czech republic included both Czech nationals and Russians who had …

German defense industry decries Berlin’s new budget plan as too low

Newly released budget figures risk putting Germany on a path to miss NATO-wide spending expectations and even undershoot its own, lower target.

The High-Powered Life And Mysterious Death Of Mikhail Lesin

When former Kremlin media adviser Mikhail Lesin was found dead in his Washington hotel room in 2015, an official investigation stated that he died after falling while heavily intoxicated. Now a previously unreleased autopsy report obtained by RFE/RL has uncovered new details of the case, including what one forensic specialist called “an unusual constellation of injuries.”

Suspicious Minds: Medical Experts Cast Doubt On Lesin Autopsy

Since Mikhail Lesin was found dead in a D.C. hotel room in 2015, one question has persisted: did the onetime Kremlin insider really die of blunt-force trauma caused by drunken falls? Multiple forensic experts who studied autopsy records obtained by RFE/RL raise suspicions — and new questions.

Timeline: The Last, Booze-Soaked Days Of Mikhail Lesin

A timeline of the final three days in the life of Mikhail Lesin, a former adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin who mysteriously turned up dead in a Washington hotel.

A Death In The Dupont: Photos From Mikhail Lesin’s Hotel Room

Mikhail Lesin, a former Putin adviser, was found dead in a Washington hotel room in November 2015. Questions still swirl around Lesin’s death, including his reasons for being there. Here’s a look at photos released earlier by Washington police that show Lesin’s hotel room at the time of his death.

New U.K. Border Security Law: A Frightening Response to the Skripal Poisoning – Just Security

The British Home Office has quietly gone about making it easier to detain and interrogate travelers at its borders, with little public notice.

UAWire – Putin calls on British businesses to help boost Russian economy

At a meeting with major British business representatives on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the senior corporate managers to …

President Poroshenko instructs Defense Minister to accelerate talks on new Javelin procurement – news politics | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has instructed Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak to accelerate talks on the procurement of a new batch of Javelin anti-tank missile systems from the United States. First deliveries of the Javelins to Ukraine were announced on April 30, 2018.

Ukraine slaps sanctions on hundreds of Russian citizens – news politics | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed decree No. 82/2019 to enact a decision passed by the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine on March 19 on personal special economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions) against Russian citizens and legal entities. The sanctions were imposed on 294 legal entities and 848 individuals.

Poroshenko: Ukraine-EU mini-summit is a signal of support for Ukraine’s course

The Ukraine-EU mini-summit, which was held Brussels with the participation of President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and leaders of the European Union, is a signal of support for Ukraine’s European integration aspirations ahead of the March 31 presidential elections. — Ukrinform.

Ukrainian defense minister Poltorak meets with US Congress delegation

Defense Minister of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak has met with the delegation of the US Congress in Kyiv. — Ukrinform.”The parties discussed the security situation in Ukraine and the world, the growing scale of threats from the Russian Federation, as well as the topical issues of further bilateral defense cooperation between Ukraine and the United States,” the press service of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine reports. As noted, Stepan Poltorak informed the delegation members about the preliminary results and prospects of the defense reforms. He also underscored the importance of the assistance, which Ukraine receives from its strategic partners, including the United States of America.

Ukraine Imposes Sanctions On Russians Over Kerch Bridge, Seizure Of Naval Vessels

Ukraine has imposed economic and other sanctions on hundreds of individuals and entities for their alleged roles in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia over the Crimea region and the war in eas…

Russia vs. Ukraine Conflict: Kiev’s Pro-Western President Slaps New Sanctions on Hundreds of Russians Ahead of Elections

Ukraine sanctioned 848 people and 294 entities on Wednesday.

Ukraine Introduces New Sanctions Against Russia

Ukraine’s president has ordered new sanctions against Russian companies and individuals involved in construction and other activities in Crimea

Volker: Talks with Russia may be resumed after presidential election

The next round of talks between U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker and Russian president’s aide Vladislav Surkov or another representative of Russian authorities may be held after the presidential election in Ukraine. — Ukrinform.

UAWire – Russian Kalibr-equipped Stary Oskol submarine enters Black Sea

The cruise missile-equipped “Stary Oskol” submarine from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has set out into the Black Sea in order to carry out a …

Crimea Marks Anniversary Of Russian Annexation, As Western Sanctions Tighten Grip

This week marks the fifth anniversary of Russia’s forceful annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea. The United States and its allies imposed wide-ranging sanctions on Moscow following the invasion – and analysts say the economic impact is denting approval ratings for Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Henry Ridgwell reports.

Putin personally led the seizure of Ukrainian Crimea

Russian President Putin personally led the seizure of the Ukrainian Crimea.

Natalia Lebed | Unfriending Russia: Ukrainian-Russian Treaty of Friendship terminates

The Friendship Treaty binds Ukraine’s hands, it creates the illusion that the criminal is ready to forgive the deaths of thousands of Ukrainians.

Ihor Kabanenko | The Stillborn Western Naval Convoy to the Sea of Azov: Lessons Learned – Jamestown

On November 26, a day after Russia attacked three small Ukrainian naval vessels attempting to pass through the Kerch Strait, German Chancellor Angela Merkel received official notification about this incident from Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko. In addition to sharing with Merkel the details of the act of aggression at sea, Poroshenko informed her of Kyiv’s response, including the introduction of Martial Law (Unn.com.ua, November 26, 2018). Several days later, on November 29, Poroshenko declared, “Germany is one of our [Ukraine’s] closest allies and we hope that NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] countries are now ready to place warships in the Azov Sea to help Ukraine and provide security” (BBC–Ukrainian service, November 29, 2018). This approach looked reasonable in light of Moscow’s illegal activity limiting Western merchant vessels’ passage through the Kerch Strait, including months of unmotivated Russian boarding inspections (Blackseanews.net, July 10, 2018). From the outset, however, observers noted that Poroshenko’s request for a Western naval presence in the Azov Sea would meet with stern pushback from Russia. It should be noted that Moscow can appeal to the “Agreement Between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on Cooperation in Use of the Sea of ​​Azov and the Kerch Strait” (the so-called 2003 Agreement), according to which the Sea of Azov is determined to be “historically internal waters” of both states (Zakon.rada.gov.ua, April 20, 2004). As such, the agreement further stipulates that any warships of third states can access the waters only with express permission of both Russia and Ukraine. However, this bilateral compact contradicts the internationally recognized right of freedom of navigation and was never registered with the United Nations (as all international treaties are supposed to). Furthermore, some Ukrainian experts believe Kyiv should denounce the 2003 Agreement because it no longer serves the country’s national interests (Eurointegration.com.ua, October 4, 2018, Gordonua, July 11, 2018, Day.kyiv.ua, September 25, 2018). Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal, however, disputes this contention: last autumn she told reporters that denouncing the 2003 Agreement would do nothing for Ukraine, while opening the door to new Russian territorial claims (Ukrinform, October 20, 2018). Despite the inherent uncertainty in Ukraine’s maritime policy, the deployment of European Union or NATO warships (with Kyiv’s support) into the Sea of Azov to protect international shipping has a clear legal basis in provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) (Un.org, accessed March 20, 2019). Specifically, UNCLOS includes internationally recognized mechanisms for protecting the freedom of navigation, with naval-civilian convoy formations allowed to protect civilian vessels. Such an accompaniment of merchant vessels by warships is not the same thing as the one-time inspection Russia has proposed instead. An UNCLOS-mandated convoy would be given legal right to perform maneuvers in the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov and not be restricted to only port or coastal inspections (Interfax, January 18). The Western convoy to protect international shipping in the Kerch Strait and Azov Sea, ultimately never materialized. Reportedly, when meeting with United States Vice President Michael Pence at the Munich Security Conference last month (February 2019), Chancellor Merkel indicated “she was willing, in coordination with the French, to send a convoy through the [Kerch Strait] waterways as a one-time maneuver but Poroshenko said that wasn’t enough to solve his problem—he wants to ensure the strait is open permanently” (Bloomberg, March 7). The whole episode, raises at least three important lessons: First, it is not possible to provide maritime security, achieve sea control or win naval battles using solely soft power. Security and defense policy must include a careful balance between soft and hard power tools—sometimes referred to as “smart power” (Thecipherbrief.com, March 17, 2017). The navy, as an instrument of a state’s hard power, is thus tasked with securing access to vital maritime areas, providing enduring physical presence, and protecting the state’s interests in these areas. A Western convoy maritime operation—well-prepared and diplomatically reinforced—would have been a step forward toward safeguarding the West’s and Ukraine’s interests in the Sea of Azov as well as stabilizing the situation there. Second, as Lieutenant General Serhiy Naev, the Ukrainian joint forces commander, stressed, “When it comes to troops and weapons, the numerical advantage is on the side of the Russian army. Therefore, if full-scale aggression takes place, our success will depend not only on the combat resilience of our soldiers and officers, but also on the consolidation of Ukrainian people and the assistance of our allies and international partners, since this threat can only really be coped with through joint efforts” (Mil.gov.ua, March 16). In turn, unified efforts under an effective common maritime strategy is critical for Ukraine to be able to survive and deter Russia. Importantly, Ukraine’s open flanks and vulnerable choke points exist not only in the Sea of Azov, but in the northern part of the Black Sea as well. Kyiv, thus, needs to develop as soon as possible a comprehensive maritime strategy based on a common Western-Ukrainian professional vision—“professional vision” being the key phrase. Third, after more than three months since the November 25 Kerch Strait incident, the 24 Ukrainian sailors who were captured by Russian forces remain in jail, inside Russia. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has recognized the detained Ukrainian sailors as prisoners of war, but Moscow does not confirm this status and has charged them with criminal acts under Russian law (Pravda.com.ua, March 14). Appeals and persuasion to bring these Ukrainian service members home have been entirely ineffective, to date. A much more proactive course of action by Kyiv, together with its strategic Western partners, utilizing various mechanisms of joint influence may be required to secure the sailors’ release. Learning from these lessons may be crucial for Kyiv and Western capitals on both sides of Atlantic to avoid a “Ukrainian Pearl Harbor” as well as deter Moscow’s further westward encroachment beyond Donbas.

One KIA, one WIA in Donbas on Thursday – JFO HQ

One soldier of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) has been killed, another wounded as a result of attacks by Russia-led mercenaries on Thursday.

11 attacks against JFO positions yesterday: three Ukrainian soldiers wounded, two terrorists destroyed

21.03.19 10:14 – 11 attacks against JFO positions yesterday: three Ukrainian soldiers wounded, two terrorists destroyed March 20, Russian occupying forces violated the cease-fire 11 times, while 10 of them involved using weapons banned by the Minsk agreements. View news.

Three Ukrainian soldiers wounded in Donbas in past day – news war | UNIAN

Russia’s hybrid military forces in the past 24 hours mounted 11 attacks on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas, with three Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action. Two invaders were killed and another five were wounded on Wednesday, intelligence reports say.

Ukrainian officer posts raw video of another strike on positions of Russian proxies – news war | UNIAN

Officer of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Anatoly “Stirlitz” Shtefan posted on a social network a video of a strike on the firing positions of Russian occupation forces in Donbas. The attack was carried out in early March.

One Ukrainian soldier killed, two wounded as their car hits landmine near Avdiyivka in Donbas (Video) – news war | UNIAN

One Ukrainian soldier has been killed, another two have been wounded when their car hit a landmine near the town of Avdiyivka in Donbas, eastern Ukraine. Three more soldiers were wounded in shelling.

Ukraine’s air defense unit, tactical aviation hold joint exercises (Video) – news war | UNIAN

Ukraine’s air defense units and tactical aviation have conducted joint exercises, as reported by the press service of the Joint Forces Operation. The units armed with Osa-AKM air defense systems deployed in the Donbas warzone are manly tasked with destroying enemy drones.

Canada to allocate over $100 mln for military support to Ukraine

Over the next three years, Canada will allocate $105.6 million for training Ukrainian military personnel and other security assistance. — Ukrinform.

UAWire – Ukrainian Prosecutor insists on 14 years imprisonment for Brazilian citizen suspected of fighting on DPR side

The press service of the Kyiv Prosecutor Office announced that the prosecutor requested to sentence the Brazilian citizen Rafael Lusvarghi to 14 …

Ukraine recovers 60 prisoners from occupied part of Luhansk Region – LB.ua news portal

Ukraine recovers 60 prisoners from occupied part of Luhansk Region. The ombudsperson plans to visit Luhansk Region again in April. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Pavlo Hryb case: In the Russian Rostov-on-Don, the debate began on the case of the Ukrainian political prisoner Pavlo Hryb (21.03.19 14:19) « World | Censor.NET

21.03.19 14:19 – Russian prosecutors ask for six years of imprisonment for Kremlin’s Ukrainian prisoner Pavlo Hryb. VIDEO In the Russian Rostov-on-Don, the debate began on the case of the Ukrainian political prisoner Pavlo Hryb. View news.

Poroshenko handed over 420 additional items of military equipment and armament to Ukraine Army. PHOTO

20.03.19 16:25 – Poroshenko handed over 420 additional items of military equipment and armament to Ukraine Army. PHOTO March 20, the Armed Forces of Ukraine received another batch consisting of more than 400 units of weapons and military equipment. View news.

Ukrainian Army received over 420 units of weapons

On March 20, in the Khmelnytskyi Region, with the participation of President Petro Poroshenko, a transfer of 420 units of armament and equipment to units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine took place. During the working visit to Khmelnytskyi region, President Petro Poroshenko took part in the testing of Bayraktar combat UAV of Turkish production. “With the arrival of Bayraktar UAVs, our ability to confront the enemy will increase significantly. It is said that the emergence of the American “Stingers” in Afghanistan was a turning point in the Soviet reckless actions in this country. I believe that the Turkish combat drones, American Javelin missile systems, other weapons provided by our partners, domestic products of the defense industry will significantly increase the price of the brutal aggression of the Kremlin against Ukraine,” the Head of State stressed.

“Ukroboronprom” showed the hit of MAM-L bombs from the Turkish UAV

March 21, 2019 News 0 Comments State concern “Ukroboronprom” has published a video of a hit munitions while testing the unmanned aviation complex Bayraktar TB2. In the frames of anti-aircraft unmanned aerial vehicles and land near the school thing, a bomb attack is clearly visible. Controlled ammunition, according to estimates of “Ukroboronproma” fell off less than a meter. The video suggests that the trajectory gets to the rocket passing approximately at an angle of 60-70 degrees to the earth’s surface. MAM-L ammunition was used from the Turkish company Roketsan. These and other high-precision ammunition were purchased together with a batch of shock fractions for the Ukrainian war. MAM-L (Smart Micro Munition) special lightweight controlled ammunition designed for shock drills. This bomb is equipped with a high-quality system of introduction into the laser space and carries out a glider flight for the purposes. It is necessary that the user of the network previously chose doubts about the use of ammunition on March 20, and on the test video the demonstration of UAV take off without a payload.

Was Bayraktar TB2 really shooting?

Following the demonstration of video and photo materials for the testing of Bayraktar TB2 unmanned aerial vehicles, users of the network began to doubt the reliability of the firing. The reason for this was the footage that was shown live on TV, and later released by the press service of the President, the National Security and Defense Council and Ukroboronprom. They can see how a drone performs a take off, and at the same time there are no ammunition at the suspension points. In social networks, the idea began to spread that everything was being staged. We decided to figure it out. It is worth paying attention to the post of Yuriy Biryukov. In the next post he wrote: The bird took off at 8 am from the airfield in Starokonstantinov and went to the side of Zhytomyr at an altitude of 4 kilometers. Therefore, it is logical to conclude that the tests were conducted with the participation of the 402 board. Given the time of the President’s arrival, they could not physically display the board 402, so it was most likely the board 401, which appears in the video of the Ukroboronprom, and hence in the air March 20 was at least two drones. Having carefully reviewed the video of Ukroboronprom and NSDCU, we found the 402 board that was taken off during landing. He was removed from both sides. As it is visible on the right wing there is an ammunition, on the left it is absent, which theoretically testifies to to a drop during the tests.

Ukrainian unmanned aviation reaches new level – Turchynov

Ukrainian unmanned aircraft reaches a new quality level. — Ukrinform.

Poroshenko: Turkish Bayraktar TB2 UAV successfully completes test flight in Ukraine

Tests of the Turkish unmanned aerial vehicle Bayraktar TB2 have been successful, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said.

The Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine received the restored An-26Sh navigation trainer

March 21, 2019 News 0 Comments SE “PLANT 410 CA” completed the repair of the AN-26SH military airplane of the Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which was added to the navigational version. This is reported by the press-service of the enterprise Overhaul has been performed on the aircraft, modernization has been carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Customer. The An-26Sh aircraft is designed to prepare navigators. The aircraft is equipped with workplaces for cadets in the cabin. SE “Plant 410 CA” carries out a full technological cycle of overhaul of An-24, -26, -30, -32 and D-6 series aircraft 1, 1A, 2A, for aircraft Yak-42, An-72, -74 , repair of aircraft equipment, as well as work related to the restoration of aircraft parts. The plant carries out a series of work on the continuation of the resources of aircraft “An”, whose potential, despite the “solid age” is far from exhausted. On the basis of the flight testing and maintenance complex, all types of maintenance performed at the aircraft engineering plant, as well as CWR-1,2,3 on the An-74 aircraft, and the Aircraft on the An-72 aircraft are carried out.

Avakov, Yovanovitch discuss ways to prevent provocations during election

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch discussed the issue of preventing provocative acts during the presidential election. — Ukrinform.

Poroshenko urges Ukrainians not to fall for provocations, electoral technologies intended to split unity – news politics | UNIAN

President of Ukraine has urged Ukrainians not to fall for provocations and electoral technologies intended to split people’s unity. The head of state has warned that is the Russian president’s intention to sow discord.

Ukraine can get NATO MAP before 2023 – spokesperson for Poroshenko’s election HQ

Ukraine can be provided with a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) before 2023, spokesperson for presidential candidate Petro Poroshenko’s election headquarters Oleh Medvedev says.

Dozens of Suspicious Tymoshenko Party Donations Traced to Fugitive MP Onyshchenko – Investigation

Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party received over $5.5 million from individuals and legal entities ahead of the election, Bihus.info investigative journalism

General Staff of Armed Forces: 93 special polling stations created for military

The Central Election Commission of Ukraine (CEC) has created 93 special polling stations for the military of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. — Ukrinform.

Law enforcers may check votes of Ukrainian labor migrants abroad – Avakov – news politics | UNIAN

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has said the law enforcers will be able to see if someone tries to unlawfully use votes of Ukrainian labor migrants now working abroad. Border guards will help the police verify data.

UAWire – Head of Naftogaz: Gazprom cancelling gas transit through Ukraine

Gazprom has started the process of officially notifying the countries bordering Ukraine that the transit of gas through the territory of Ukraine …

Germany, Finland to provide EUR 58 mln for education reform in Ukraine

The European Union and the European Training Foundation together with the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine launched the fifth round of the Torino Process in Ukraine in order to analyze in 2019-2020 the country’s vocational education and training reform. — Ukrinform.

UAWire – Ukrainian Foreign Minister: Russia will try to start a new ‘gas war’

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin expressed confidence that Russia will try to start a new &quot;gas war&quot; after the expiration of the current …

Olexiy Buriachenko | “Ukraine is not Russia”: Where Freedom of Speech Lives

In this article I want to express my point of view regarding the latest events linked with the oppression of freedom of speech in the Russian Federation. But the most important thing that interests me is whether such a scenario will happen again in Ukraine, given the recently registered bill No.10139

Kyiv not Kiev: Ukraine envoy praises switch by Bucharest Airport – news ukraine | UNIAN

Romania’s main airport has turned down the long-obsolete spelling of the capital of Ukraine that was derived from Russian, switching to a correct spelling, that is, “Kyiv.” Ukrainian authorities have been pushing for the correct spelling of the capital city by air carriers and airport operators across the world.

Journalist’s investigation of Ukroboronprom corruption based on non-existent phone talks, – official

Information provided by journalists about Ukroboronprom corruption is not real

Ukraine Seizes Cocaine Worth $51 Million In Cargo Ship

Ukraine’s security service says it has seized a shipment of South American narcotics worth some $51 million.

Top Ukrainian justice official says US ambassador gave him a do not prosecute list | TheHill

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko told Hill.TV’s John Solomon in an interview that aired Wednesday that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave him a do not prosecute list during their first meeting.

Ukrainian justice official Lutsenko says US ambassador Yovanovitch gave him do not prosecute list

21.03.19 11:11 – Ukrainian justice official Lutsenko says US ambassador Yovanovitch gave him do not prosecute list Lutsenko told in an interview that US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave him a do not prosecute list during their first meeting. View news.

The Hill: Top Ukrainian justice official says U.S. ambassador gave him a do not prosecute list – news politics | UNIAN

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko told Hill.TV’s John Solomon in an interview that aired Wednesday that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave him a do not prosecute list during their first meeting. The State Department called Lutsenko’s claim of receiving a do not prosecute list, “an outright fabrication.”

Top Ukraine official accuses Putin of “blackmail” ahead of country’s election – The Hill – news politics | UNIAN

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko told Hill.TV that Russian President Vladimir Putin is forcing Ukrainian voters to choose between further conflict with Russia or electing a presidential candidate preferred by Putin. He has also said the Kremlin has influence on certain media resources in Ukraine, which is making things even more complicated.

Lutsenko statements aim to damage Ambassador Yovanovitch reputation, – the US Embassy in Ukraine

21.03.19 13:12 – Lutsenko statements aim to damage Ambassador Yovanovitch reputation, – the US Embassy in Ukraine The statements of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko that US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave him a do not prosecute list during their first meeting are false. View news.

As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges | TheHill

Newly unearthed evidence suggesting another foreign effort to influence the 2016 election — this time in favor of the Democrats.

As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges

As Russia collusion fades, Ukrainian plot to help Clinton emerges

US State Department denies Ukrainian prosecutor’s allegations – LB.ua news portal

US State Department denies Ukrainian prosecutor’s allegations. Lutsenko said that the ambassador had given him a do not prosecute list. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

U.S. Embassy in Ukraine denies PGO head Lutsenko’s claim that Yovanovitch gave him do-not-prosecute list

The claim made by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko that U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch gave him a list of persons who should not be investigated does not correspond to reality, the television news service (TSN) of Kyiv-based TV Channel 1+1 has said, citing comments received from the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv to their questions.

U.S. Rejects Top Ukrainian Prosecutor’s ‘Don’t Prosecute’ Accusation

The U.S. State Department has dismissed a reported claim by Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko that U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch gave him “a list of people whom we should not prosecute.”

Poroshenko should either receive confirmation of Lutsenko’s statement about Yovanovitch’s list or sack Lutsenko – Syroyid

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko must either receive written documented confirmation backing up the claim of Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko about receiving a list from U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch of persons who should not be investigated, or dismiss Lutsenko, Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, Oksana Syroyid has said.

Senior Ukrainian official says he’s opened probe into U.S. election interference – media – news politics | UNIAN

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko told Hill.TV’s John Solomon in an interview aired on Wednesday that he has opened a probe into alleged attempts by Ukrainians to interfere in the United States’ 2016 presidential election. The U.S. Department of State says Ukraine needs committed government officials and strong anti-corruption institutions.

Over 500 parishes become part of Ukraine’s new independent Church – news ukraine | UNIAN

Over 500 parishes have already taken the decision to move from the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine, formerly known as the Moscow Patriarchate, to the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko praised the high number of parishes who have already made their decision to join the new church independent of Russian influence.

Pope Francis trip aims to thaw Catholic-Orthodox relations in Romania

When Pope Francis lands in Romania in late May, the local church hopes that he will be able to encourage a “spiritual wind” from the East into Europe and rebuild the chilled relations between the Catholic and Orthodox communities in the country.

Two U.S. Mormons Released From Custody In Russia, Return Home

Two Mormons who were detained in Russia and accused of violating immigration laws have been released and are returning home to the United States.

Armed searches and arrests of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russian-occupied Crimea – Human Rights in Ukraine

Russia’s FSB have brought more persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses to occupied Crimea with at least six armed searches on 20 March and subsequent detention –

Jehovah’s Witnesses Detained, Targeted By Authorities In Crimea

Russian-installed authorities in Crimea have detained several members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the latest sign of a widening crackdown on the religious group.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Jehovah’s Witnesses Now Outnumber All Other Minority Faiths in Karabakh Combined

Paul Goble Staunton, March 20 – Ninety-eight percent of the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh are followers of hte Armenian Apostolic Church, Yevgeny Vyshegorodsky of the Caucasus Post reports; but Jehovah’s Witnesses have more than half of the 3500 followers of other faiths, including Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism. Significantly, today, there are no Muslims at all. Three aspects of these numbers are significant. First, they show that the Armenian authorities in control of Karabakh have successfully driven out or underground all the Muslims, a term that in the case of that region means virtually all the Azerbaijanis, the kind of ethnic displacement that Baku has long complained about. Second, they indicate that despite its efforts, the Russian Orthodox Church has made little headway in what is for Moscow one of the “frozen” conflicts on which the Kremlin depends. Given the Moscow Patriarchate’s losses in Ukraine, this is yet another stinging debate for its claims to be a politically useful ally of the Russian powers that be. And third, these figures indicate that in such troubled times, activist religious groups like the Witnesses have a much better chance of gaining support than do traditional faiths, yet another reason why the Kremlin seems so committed to suppressing them but a fact of life that others interested in conflict resolution should not fail to take into consideration. In today’s Caucasus Post, the journalist surveys the religious situation in a region where most analysts focus only on ethnic issues. He notes that at present “98 percent of the population of Karabakh” are followers of the ancient Armenian Apostolic Church” (capost.media/special/obzory/komu_molitsya_karabakh/). The Armenian cathedral there was built in the 1860s, harmed during the conflicts after 1917, and used as a garage and storage facility under the Soviets. During the active phase of the Karabakh war, the journalist continues, the cathedral was used by Azerbaijani forces as an arms dump. It was restored only in 1998. The religious community of Karabakh which has disappeared in this century consists of the Muslims, mostly Azerbaijanis, but also Kurds and Persians. At the start of the 20th century, they formed 62 percent of the region’s population. But by the end, they ad contracted “in fact to 0 percent.” The Agdam mosque was one of the few structures in the ghost town of Agdam that was not destroyed ruing the Armenian-Azerbaijani war, Vyshegorodsky says. Like the Armenian cathedral, it was built in the 1860s, fell into disuse and was damaged in the various wars. By 2010, it was being used to house animals, although that reportedly has ended since that time. At the present time, he continues, “there are 11 religious organizations in addition to the Armenian Apostolic Church.” These have “approximately 3500 members, of whom more than 2,000 are Jehovah’s Witnesses.” Other minority faiths include Baptists, Catholics and Russian Orthodox. In 2012, the ROC MP began to build an Orthodox church in Stepanakert; but in 2016, construction stopped because of a lack of funds. “To this day,” Vyshegorodsky reports, “construction has not been restarted.”

 

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