Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
More on the Vozhd’s latest Wunderwaffe presentation – 76 Su-57 planned by 2028. Update on the effort to resuscitate the 96K6 Pantsyr-S1 as the improved -S1M. More Baltic provocations. Wrapup on the Sochi meeting. Arctic update. Nordstream 2 update. Multiple reports on Russia, possibly the most interesting being comments by Mufti Ismailov, on the“… disintegration of the new, contemporary ‘Russian Empire’…”. Will Russia divert Siberian rivers to China, creating another ecological disaster, for cash?
Turkey and Hungary updates. Skripal sanctions being prepared.
Muscovy piqued as Ukraine did not invite them to the inauguration. Giuliani claims Zelensky’s team is hostile to POTUS. 2020 NDAA to include $250M of aid for Ukraine – useful but one tenth or less of what is needed for real strategic effect. IR and Crimea updates.
Donbas update. Turchenov on Neptun ASCM production, and Vilkha M/R enhanced GMLRS testing.
Parliament votes to hold inauguration on the 20th May to avoid a clash with a commemoration, and are criticised by Ze’s staff. Poltorak and Klimkin expected to quit. Kolomoyskiy returns.
OCU update – Hon Patriarch Filaret is aiding and abetting Russia’s disruption campaign, but everybody is too polite to tell him.
Major ROC update – Yekaterinberg protests against the ROC escalate, 20 arrested.
The President recalled that the industry is focusing on developing modern aviation equipment, which determines the combat capabilities of the Russian Air forces for the decade to come
Russian President Vladimir Putin flew to the country’s southwestern region today on board his IL-96-300PU presidential plane with an escort of six Su-57s, roughly half of the total number of the advanced fighter jets that the country has in total. Putin made the grand display as he traveled to the region to inspect various military units before departing for Sochi to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Putin arrived at the 929th Chkalov State Flight-Test Center in Russia’s southwestern Astrakhan region early on May 14, 2019. The facility is the Russian military’s largest research and development site for advanced aircraft, as well as air defense systems.
Телеканал «Звезда» публикует кадры сопровождения самолета российского президента шестью истребителями пятого поколения в ходе захода на посадку в Ахтубинске. #tvzvezda #телеканалзвезда #video #movie #путин #су57 #самолет #авиация #истребитель #визит #астраханскаяобласть
A post shared by Телеканал “Звезда”(@zvezdanews) on May 14, 2019 at 9:32am PDT
RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin showcased six state-of-the-art Su-57 fighter jets as he arrived for his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday in a conspicuous display of military might.
The new missile’s range has been increased to 30 kilometers
Ruptly Published on May 14, 2019 Subscribe to our channel! rupt.ly/subscribeRussian President Vladimir Putin visited the 929th Chkalov State Flight-Test Center in the Southern Russian city Astrakhan to inspect the hypersonic Kinzhal missile system on Tuesday. The Russian leader toured the military facility and was shown a MiG-31 interceptor jet equipped with the ‘Kinzhal’ missile system, which has a reported range of 2,000km (1,243 miles). Putin also visited the town of Akhtubinsk in the Astrakhan Region as part of a series of meetings devoted to developing Russia’s military and industrial complex. On the way to Akhtubinsk, Putin’s plane was escorted by six Su-57 jets, as footage shows. Earlier on Tuesday, Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitri Peskov refuted speculation that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to defence sites is intended to “send a signal” hours ahead of his meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Vladimir Putin has begun a series of military visits. On May 13, the president visited the Kazan Aviation Factory, where he examined Tu-160, Tu-95MS, and Tu-22 airplanes as well as a Mi-38T helicopter. On Tuesday, he will visit a Defense Ministry flight test facility in Akhtubinsk, where he will tour, among other things, a Kinzhal hypersonic missile system. Afterward, the Russian president will travel to Sochi for negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, called on the American government to look past that timing. He said the military visits were planned long before “a small window opened up in the president’s schedule that allowed him to welcome the U.S. Secretary of State.”
Facing steerable ICBMs and smaller warheads, the Pentagon seeks better tracking as the White House pursues an unlikely arms-control treaty. On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, to discuss, among many things, the prospect of a new, comprehensive nuclear-weapons treaty with Russia and China. At the same time, the Pentagon is developing a new generation of nuclear weapons to keep up with cutting-edge missiles and warheads coming out of Moscow. If the administration fails in its ambitious renegotiation, the world is headed toward a new era of heightened nuclear tension not seen in decades. That’s largely because of the ways these new weapons are eroding the idea of nuclear predictability. Since the dawn of the nuclear era, the concept of the nuclear triad — bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles — created a shared set of expectations around what the start of a nuclear war would look like. If you were in NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado and you saw ICBMs headed toward the United States, you knew that a nuclear first strike was underway. The Soviets had a similar set of expectations, and this shared understanding created the delicate balance of deterrence — a balance that is becoming unsettled. Start with Russia’s plans for new, more-maneuverable ICBMs. Such weapons have loosely been dubbed “hypersonic weapons” — something of a misnomer because all intercontinental ballistic missiles travel at hypersonic speeds of five or more times the speed of sound — and they create new problems for America’s defenders.
Hungarian Gripen fighters deployed at the Siauliai airfield in Lithuania on May 14, for the second time in the last 24 hours, were scrambled over the Baltic Sea to intercept Russian aicraft as reported by the Hungarian Ministry of Defense. According to the report, British Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from the Estonia’s Amari Air Base flew to their aid, reports Radio Liberty. According to the information of the Hungarian Ministry of Defense, these fighters flew to intercept Russian military aircraft Il-22 and Su-27 which were carrying out flight maneuvers in international airspace over the Baltic Sea without having established any radio contact with the air traffic control services of the Baltic countries. The Hungarian and British fighters patrolling this air sector at an altitude of 8,600 meters carried out a maneuver to intercept the Russian military aircraft and returned to their air bases in Lithuania and Estonia. Russia has not confirmed or denied what happened in the air. On May 13, for the first time, Hungarian fighters from the Joint NATO Air Defense Center in Germany were scrambled to intercept Russian An-26 aircraft violating Baltic airspace. About one hundred Hungarian soldiers including a flight unit of four Gripen JAS-39 type fighters, on May 1, for the second time since 2015, are carrying out a 4-month patrol to protect Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian airspace. The Hungarian military works in shifts to strengthen the Air Defense units of Spain and the United Kingdom operating under the NATO command from an airfield in the Lithuanian city of Siauliai.
Royal Air Force Typhoons deployed in Estonia scramble for the first time since taking over the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission in the country, Ministry of Defence reported on Thursday. According to a statement released by the Ministry of Defence, on Tuesday 14 May Typhoon jets launched a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) scramble out of Ämari Air Base in response to two Russian SU-27 Flanker fighter aircraft and one IL-22 aircraft that were flying along the Baltic coast heading towards Kaliningrad. On Wednesday 15 May Typhoons once again launched from Ämari to intercept another two SU-27 aircraft and an IL-22 and escorted the formation towards Russia. “At the same time as our troops forge stronger ties with NATO Allies in Estonia, our RAF Typhoons are policing Baltic skies and providing a rapid response to any approaches towards NATO airspace,” said Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster. “Together it sends a clear message – we are committed to defending NATO’s borders and will support our Allies in deterring any threats.” These are the first QRA scrambles since the RAF took over the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission from the German Air Force last month. Both were conducted in a safe and professional manner throughout. The RAF operates alongside its NATO allies to deter Russian aggression and assure NATO allies of the UK’s commitment to collective defense. This is a routine NATO mission for the Typhoons which provides reassurance that the UK is here to work in partnership with Estonia. “Flying alongside the Russian aircraft at a safe distance, myself and my wingman (a United States Airforce Lt Col), ensured that the Russian aircraft were safely escorted around Estonian airspace. The Russian pilots and crews behaved in a professional and calm manner with nothing untoward. We subsequently handed the Russian formation over to the Hungarian QRA that had launched out of Lithuania to continue the escort towards Kaliningrad.,” said Wing Commander Paul ‘Pablo’ O’Grady, who was conducting QRA duty when the first scramble was called,
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who for the first time traveled in this capacity to Sochi to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin, did not come empty-handed. After publicly announcing his desire to “improve relations with Russia”, “find common ground” and reach an agreement on Venezuela, Pompeo threatened the Russian leaders with new sanctions. A new sanction bill was put forward in the US House of Representatives on 10 May, only two days after Pompeo’s intention to visit Russia was announced. The bill will be considered by the Committee on Financial Services when the outcome of the negotiations in Sochi becomes clear. Its text has been published on the official Congress website. The new bill is not too different to its predecessors, which have been mired down by bureaucratic red tape. It proposes the immediate and unconditional introduction of new sanctions on Russian government debt, including securities related to the Russian Finance Ministry, National Wealth Fund, the Bank of Russia and other organizations linked to the government. Furthermore, it would have the US Treasury Department make it mandatory for all American legal entities to disclose whether they have links to or shares in any of the six largest Russian state banks: Sberbank, VTB, Rosselkhozbank, Gazprombank, VEB or Promsvyazbank. The second phase of sanctions would be imposed if Russia is found to have interfered in the 2020 US presidential elections. If Russia is found to have meddled, at least one of the 6 state banks would be blacklisted, banned from having a correspondent account in the US, and thereby banned from performing dollar transactions. In addition, a ban would be imposed on any investments larger than $5 million in Russian energy projects outside of Russia (e.g. gas pipelines). “I explained to Mr. Lavrov that interference in a US election campaign is unacceptable, and if this happens in 2020, relations between us will become even worse,” Pompeo said after the meeting. “We also hope that Russia will stop supporting the Maduro regime, so that the suffering of the Venezuelan people can end,” the US Secretary of State added. A third requirement is that the Kremlin “extend a hand” to the Ukrainian government to find a solution to the Donbas crisis, and release the captured Ukrainian sailors. Lavrov claims to have sent Donald Trump an “aide-memoire” through Pompeo with suggestions on how to improve bilateral relations. “We agreed on the importance of restoring communication channels. Recently these channels have been frozen, not least due to the wave of baseless accusations against us of attempting to influence the outcome of American elections and the existence of a certain collusion between us and high-ranking officials in the current US administration,” Lavrov noted. “Naturally, we listed to what Trump said about expecting to meet with President Putin,” the Russian Foreign Minister continued, “including as part of their involvement in the G20 summit in Osaka. If we receive such an offer, we will certainly respond positively to it. We spoke about this today with Michael Pompeo.”
In our news wrap Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Russia over its interference in U.S. elections. Meeting in Sochi with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who again denied meddling in 2016, Pompeo called such intrusion “unacceptable.” Also, Florida’s governor says Russian hackers breached voter databases in two counties before the 2016 election but did not compromise results.
Iran, Russian election interference, and Ukraine dominated discussions between the top US diplomat, his Russian counterpart and Russian President Putin
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov holds a contentious but “constructive” meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Top stories in the Russian press on Wednesday
More than two years after Trump took office, the conditions may finally be in place to start the nineteenth-century-style “great power” talks that Russia has always hoped the United States would finally engage in.
The State Department will soon have a permanent presence in Greenland for the first time since the 1950s.
16.05.19 16:25 – Merkel: European Commission not to stop Nord Stream 2 The German Chancellor is ready to discuss it with Ukraine’s president. View news.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed hope that Austria has enough political will to counter the relevant pressure
On Tuesday 14 May, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an updated version of the country’s energy security doctrine. The document, which …
Scandals continue to shake the Russian space sector: following the disappearance of billions of rubles in construction sites and megaprojects, …
Information about Russian satellites whose existence had not previously been public knowledge appeared on a public website in the .ru zone. RIA Novosti reported that a company called Saturn that produces satellite components contacted the press about the leak.
A source close to the investigation of the May 5 airplane fire in Moscow told RIA Novosti that structural flaws in the Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 airplane model are being considered a possible cause of the disaster.
Paul Goble Staunton, May 14 – Mufti Said Ismagilov, head of the Umma Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Ukraine, says that the looming disintegration of what he calls “the new Russian Empire” will begin with the Muslims as a result of Moscow’s pressure on them, repeating what many expected would be the cause of the demise of the USSR. Ismagilov says that Moscow is now using “the entire arsenal of pressure” available to it against the rapidly growing Muslim community within its current borders. But that won’t matter because “the Muslim world already for centuries has a definite immunity to such policies” (atr.ua/news/186341-raspad-rf-mozet-nacatsa-iz-za-davlenia-na-musulman-muftij-said-ismagilov). “I hope the Museums will preserve their identity,” the Ukrainian mufti says. “This is a threat to Russia because I think that the disintegration of the new, contemporary ‘Russian Empire’ will begin precisely with the Muslim community.” Ramazan Alpaut of Radio Svoboda’s IdelReal portal appends Ismagilov’s comments at the end of an article in which he interviews five specialists about the possibility that Russia will at some point have a non-Russian, non-Orthodox president either because of demographic or attitudinal change (idelreal.org/a/29926183.html). First, Valery Yelisarov, a demographer at Moscow State University, dismisses projections that Russia will have a Muslim majority by 2040 or at least such a sizeable plurality within the population that the group could conceivably elect a Muslim on the basis largely if not exclusively the votes of their own religious group. Second, Nafigulla Ashirov, the chairman of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of the Asiatic Part of Russia, says that there are 25 million Muslims in Russia now and there will be many more in the future, but they are internally so subdivided that they aren’t likely to act like a single political force anytime soon. Third, Damir Mukhetdinov, deputy head of the MSD of the Russian Federation, agrees. He says that the Muslims of Russia like Russians more generally are “extraordinarily divided on the basis of a whole range of parameters, the key of which are not only and not so much ethno-religious as ideological,” between statists and personalists. “A polyethnic Russian society from a chronological point of view is still in its infancy: the main social and political institutions have already arisen but it is still too early to speak about their embedding I the fabric of the country.” Because that is so, “Russian society is not prepared to see at the head of state a representative of a religious minority.” If someone was a convinced follower of Islam, that would certainly be the case, Mukhetdinov says, that would certainly be the case; but if he or she were “an ethnic Muslim,” someone who sprung from an Islamic background but did not flaunt his religion, that might not be the case. Unfortunately, the mufti continues, at present, there are various attempts to marginalize Muslims; and such people would forcefully oppose any Muslim who ran for a senior post. Fourth, Yuldash Yusupov, head of Ufa’s Center for Socio-Cultural Analysis, also believes Muslims are very divided but stresses that they lack the kind of resources and experiences that would allow them to become an effective lobbying group let alone a political force more generally. And fifth, Azimbay Gali, a historian from Kazakhstan, suggests that Russian society will have to go through another serious crisis before a Muslim might be taken seriously as a candidate for president. “Russia now is moving toward its crisis: its economy hasn’t grown for six years, its standard of living is falling, and Russians won’t long put up with this.” If things get worse, Russians may be willing to turn to someone they hadn’t planned to vote for ever before. He points to the Obama “phenomenon” in the US as an example of such an outcome and argues that such a shift “is not purely American: it applies to all societies,” including Russia’s.
Mufti Said Ismagilov, head of the Umma Muslim Spiritual Directorate of Ukraine, says that the looming disintegration of what he calls “the new Russian Empire” will begin with the Muslims as a result of Moscow’s pressure on them, repeating what many expected would be the cause of the demise of the USSR. Ismagilov says that Moscow is now using “the entire arsenal of pressure” available to it against the rapidly growing Muslim community within its current borders. But that won’t matter because “the Muslim world already for centuries has a definite immunity to such policies.” “I hope the Muslims will preserve their identity,” the Ukrainian mufti says. “This is a threat to Russia because I think that the disintegration of the new, contemporary ‘Russian Empire’ will begin precisely with the Muslim community.”
Paul Goble Staunton, May 14 – Despite widespread anger about Moscow’s willingness to sell Baikal lake water to China, the Russian government reportedly has entered into talks with Beijing about reversing the flow of Siberian rivers in order to sell even more water to Beijing, a move that may profit some in the center but will enrage even more Russians. Not surprisingly, Moscow has not trumpeted this given the certainty that it would spark protests in Siberia and the Russian Far East in what is already a troubled time. But the talks were alluded to at a Duma roundtable last month just before the long spring holidays (versia.ru/kazaxstan-mozhet-stat-centrom-novogo-globalnogo-proekta-s-uchastiem-rossii-i-kitaya). But Plotina.net, a water use watchdog group has now focused on what such a project would involve: 75 billion US dollars in investments, probably all from China, and the dispatch of millions and then billions of cubic meters of water initially from the Ob and then from other rivers to China via Kazakhstan (plotina.net/rossiya-vedyot-peregovory-s-kitaem-o-perebroske-sibirskix-rek/). That China and Kazakhstan need the water now and will need even more in the future is not in question, Plotina’s Borislav Kashikhin says; and that Russia has more water flows in this region than it needs at present isn’t either. But the costs both direct in construction and indirect in ecological damage would be enormous. Taking water out of the Ob basin would require spending enormous sums to build pumping stations and canals, and its removal would have a serious environmental impact not only on Siberia but on the Arctic, possibly slowing the melting of ice there and thus disrupting current plans to expand the use of the Northern Sea Route. These problems, which attracted the attention first of regionalist writers and then environmentalists in the Soviet Union when similar plans were discussed in the 1960s and 1970s, were enough to kill the project at that time. But there are fears that the profit motive now may today override any such objections. The decision made in the USSR not to reverse Siberian river waters, historian and commentator Pavel Pryanikov says, apparently will be reversed now given how much money some in the Russian elite would get and how desperately China needs water for its burgeoning population (t.me/tolk_tolk/2585). Given that China might take the water in some way if Moscow doesn’t agree to sell it is one of the arguments for such a deal, some suggest; but the real driver of this revival of river diversion plans is that someone in Russia would get a total of 20 to 25 billion US dollars every year from such an arrangement. If that money were to be used to develop Siberia and the Russian Far East, that would be one thing, Pryanikov says; “but if again it simply ended up in the pockets of the Rotenbergs and the Kovalchuks,” that would be quite another.
Within the first two days of the downing of Malaysian airliner MH17 on 17July 2014, Russian Internet trolls, financed by a billionaire with links to Putin had posted at least 65 thousand tweets trying to blame Ukraine for the disaster.
Russia’s embassy has protested the arrest of a Russian software developer who was extradited from Georgia and charged by U.S. authorities with trying to obtain user manuals and instructional materi…
Russian video game developer Oleg Tishchenko is being tried in the United States. He worked on high-precision flight simulators for 15 years and purchased documentation about various airplane models online to better understand his models. Now, Tishchenko faces criminal charges for one of those purchases. Among other crimes, he has been accused of conspiring against the United States. If convicted, he may face a sentence of more than 10 years in prison.
Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty to not registering as an agent for the Russian government while in the United States and was sentenced to 18 months in U.S. prison, has filed an appeal against her …
Mevlut Cavusoglu recalled that Ankara had approached Washington with an initiative to set up a joint working group to look at ways of settling the dispute over plans to buy Russian S-400s
A bipartisan group of senior U.S. lawmakers has called on Turkey to cancel its planned purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile-defense system, which Western powers say is incompatible with NATO system…
The president praised Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s hard-line approach to immigration.
An article in ‘Law & Liberty’ on the challenge that the Hungarian prime minister poses to the EU’s order is well worth a read.
The U.S. State Department prepared new sanctions against Russia for Skripal’s poisoning
Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russian representatives have not been invited to attend the inauguration ceremony where President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky will be sworn in. In addition, Peskov left without an answer the question on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to congratulate Zelensky on taking office. Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Russian representatives have not been invited to attend the inauguration ceremony where President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky will be sworn in. “At the moment I’m not aware of any plans or ongoing contacts. As far as I know, there have been no invitations at any level,” Peskov said, according to an UNIAN correspondent in Russia. At the same time, he stressed he is not familiar with Ukraine’s protocol since in many countries, the inauguration does not imply the presence of foreign guests. In addition, he did not answer the question on whether Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to congratulate Zelensky in connection with his taking office.
Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani claims that there has been “a corrupt exchange of information” between the Ukrainians on the one hand, and Hillary Clinton’s headquarters and the US embassy in Kyiv on the other. Ukraine’s President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky finds himself in the hands of people who are clearly opposed to Donald Trump, Giuliani told the Ukrainian TV channel Inter in an interview. Excerpts from the interview were published on the TV channel’s Facebook page. Trump’s attorney believes that there are people who are “extremely seriously opposed” to the US President in Zelensky’s camp. He claims that these people are guilty of “illicit cooperation” with the US Democratic Party, and that the actions of various Ukrainian officials show signs of a “collusion”. Giuliani, who also served as the mayor of New York, said that he hopes Volodymyr Zelensky’s transition to power is “honest and transparent”. In order to ensure this, Giuliani believes the new president needs to distance himself from oligarchs such as Ihor Kolomoyskyi and also from people who “obstruct direct communication” with the American leadership. Trump’s attorney made plans to visit Kyiv early in May. He claimed that he intended to meet with President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky and his advisers, and ask them to investigate a number of circumstances related to a possible “Ukrainian mark” on the 2016 US elections and the activity of former US Vice President Jo Biden’s son in Ukraine. He later called off the visit, saying that in Kyiv he could find himself among people who are “enemies of the president”. He clarified that he was referring to the Ukrainian MP Serhiy Leshchenko, a supporter of Zelensky who was supposedly indicted in the US for assisting the democrats in the 2016 elections.
The U.S. Congress subcommittee has approved a bill providing for the allocation of $250 million in defense assistance to Ukraine. Of this amount, $50 million is proposed to be sent solely to provide lethal defensive weapons.
16.05.19 12:02 – US Congress to allocate $250 mln for Ukraine’s defense The House of Representatives of the US Congress has started the formal process of approving a draft 2020 defense budget foreseeing $250 million in assistance for Ukraine View news.
Two candidates for US ambassador to Ukraine – Klimkin. “We will accept anyone who gets the support of the US president and the Senate.” Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today
Russia’s return to PACE will “normalise” everything it has committed – Klimkin. Russia may return to the PACE without fulfilling any conditions. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic Tomáš Petříček has condemned a recent visit of Member of Parliament from the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia Zdeněk Ondráček to Russia-occupied Donbas. The national anthem of the Czech Republic was played when the Czech MP arrived.
Ukraine urges OSCE participating states to respond to the Kremlin’s decision on issuance of Russian passports in occupied Donbas by not recognizing these documents and expanding sanctions. — Ukrinform.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel promises to discuss with Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky the issue of keeping gas transit via Ukraine after the construction of Nord Stream 2 pipeline. — Ukrinform.
The Russian Federation and its president Vladimir Putin wait for personal talks with Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the continuation of gas transit via Ukrainian gas transportation system. — Ukrinform.
The Cabinet of Ministers has introduced a duty on imports of Russian diesel fuel, which will be in place from August 1, 2019. — Ukrinform.
Minsk hopes that Ukraine has a clear understanding of the importance of relationships with Belarus, stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of …
15.05.19 18:05 – US urges Russia to free all arrested Crimean Tatar activists The US Embassy in Ukraine expressed concern about the arrest and political persecution of Crimean Tatar activists. View news.
The supporters of incumbent Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are calling on the Verkhovna Rada to adopt an appeal to the UN, PACE, Parliamentary Assembly of NATO, as well as other national parliaments to come to the defense of minority nations in Russia against increasing Moscow oppression of them. The draft resolution singles out as at particular risk the peoples of the North Caucasus, Idel-Ural, and Siberia and says that the central Russian government has been stepping up its oppression of them since 2014 when it invaded Ukraine, seized Crimea, and began the war in the Donbas. In part, this action reflects increasing activism by emigres from these regions who have been forced out of their homelands by Russian abuses; and in part, it is the product of Kyiv’s decision to raise ethnic questions in Russia because Moscow constantly does so with respect to Ukraine. But what makes this appeal, scheduled to be voted on this week, so important is that it represents a marker of where Ukrainian policy is and a challenge to the incoming administration of Volodymyr Zelenskyi. On the one hand, he may want to avoid such sharp statements; but on the other, he may see this is a useful political tool against Russian aggression. The reaction of Zelenskyi, deputies loyal to him, and candidates in the upcoming Verkhovna Rada elections will thus say a lot not only about where Kyiv is heading but also about the possibilities of the minority nations inside Russia in the coming months to gain attention and outside support.
Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, Member of Parliament of Ukraine Refat Chubarov says “police officers” in Russian-occupied Crimea suspect the stepson of the Ukrainian President’s envoy for the Crimean Tatar people, Mustafa Dzhemilev, as well as about 10 other local residents of involvement in terrorist activities. The Mejlis Chairman does not rule out that the Russian occupation authorities are preparing new large-scale provocations against the Crimean Tatars.
It is necessary to organize an open public discussion on the steps to be taken by the judicial authorities to recognize the deportation of Crimean Tatar people as an act of genocide. — Ukrinform.
16.05.19 10:33 – 24 attacks by Russian proxies yesterday: no losses among Ukrainian soldiers, one terrorist destroyed May 15, the Russian occupying forces attacked JFO positions 25 times, using Minsk-proscribed weapons nine times. View news.
Russia’s hybrid military forces on May 15 mounted 24 attacks on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas. Ukraine Army reported no casualties over the period under review.
The armed formations of the Russian Federation violated ceasefire 24 times, using the weapons banned under the Minsk agreements nine times, in the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) area in Donbas over the past day. — Ukrinform.
Ukraine now ranks among the five most heavily mined countries in the world because of the war in Donbas. — Ukrinform.
he next week will continue the test of upgraded corrected missiles of the 300 mm “Vilkha-M” and “Vilkha-R”, designed by the DP “Luch”, which is part of the Ukroboronprom State Joint-Stock Company. This was stated by the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Oleksandr Turchinov during a visit to KB “Luch”, held yesterday, May 15, Defense Express . News on the topic: TESTED MODERNIZED COMPLEX “VILKHA-M” WITH A DISTINCTION OF IMPACT OF 130 KM (VIDEO) O. Turchynov inspected production facilities at the leading Ukrainian high-precision guided weapons manufacturing company ( LCHD ), and reviewed the production process of modified missiles for the Velych complex. The Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine recalled how he, in the course of Russian aggression, in the beginning of March 2014, acting as the President of Ukraine, gathered the leading defense companies’ leaders to discuss “as soon as possible to restore the defense potential of our country, providing the army with modern weapons and equipment” “One of the first tasks that was to be solved was to create an analogue of a powerful MLRS ” Smerch “, missiles that remained for several weeks of active military operations”, – said O. Turchinov, adding that then few believed that this could be done in the shortest terms. 190516 Vilha 1 The secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine stressed that thanks to scientists, engineers of KB “Luch” and its subcontractors, the missile complex “Velya” was able to make and adopt, “capable of precisely destroying targets by guided missiles and being better than Russian analogs” . “It is important that our specialists did not stop at this and continue to work on improving the combat characteristics of the complex,” he said, adding that the launch of the “Villema-M” and “Villa-R” missiles was already under way and next week. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine expressed his hope that after the completion of state trials, new missile systems will be deployed before the end of this year. Recall that the first tests of the missile complex with the corrected ammunition “Vilkha” were held on March 22, 2016. In October 2018, the first version of the missile for a new complex with a range of 70 km and a weight of 250 kg combat unit was adopted and its serial production was set up. 190516 Vilha 4 The first fire tests of the upgraded version of the Vilkha-M missile complex April 4, 2019. April 4 this year At the State testing ground of the Armed Forces of Ukraine ” Alibey ” in the Odessa region, control tests of the upgraded version of the missile complex “Vilkha-M” took place. The new missile complex has increased accuracy and a greater range of activities, in particular, missiles capable of accurately striking targets at a distance of about 130 km.
Ukrainian enterprises of the defense and industrial complex have developed a new version of the missile complex “Vilkha-R”. This is reported by the Ukrainian Military Portal Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine announced the testing of missiles “Vilkha-R” next week, there are no details of a new type of missile information. At the same time, the missile “Vilkha” will be tested, which is twice as long ranging and can hit targets at a distance of 130 kilometers. Last year the mass production of a new powerful Vilkha missile complex, which was adopted by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, began to be mass-produced, corrected missiles which hit the target exactly 70 kilometers away. The launching diameter of 12 rockets launched in a volley on one aiming corner of the installation is approximately 1.5 km. The start of serial production of ammunition to the national missile complex “Vilkha” began last year . For the first time, the president of Ukraine announced on the project “Vilkha” January 27, 2016 at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council. The missile is being developed by experts from Dnipropetrovsk Design Bureau “Yuzhnoye”. But the control system, which is most likely equipped with inertial guidance, is created by the Kyiv design bureau “Luch”.
DP DKBB “Luch”, part of the DK “Ukroboronprom”, together with other companies of the Concern is preparing for further testing of the missile complex “Neptun”. Thus, during the visit of the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Alexander Turchinov to the LC “Luch”, which was held yesterday, on May 15, a rocket R-360 was spotted on bench tests, Defense Express reports. During these tests, Ukrainian engineers are working out a variety of modes of operation of all systems and mechanisms of the cruise missile. In addition, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council demonstrated the production capacities of the enterprise and the actual process of manufacturing new Ukrainian missiles. 190516 Neptun 3 Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council – Oleksandr Turchinov, general designer of the State Criminal Code “Luch” Oleg Korostelov, deputy. Minister of Defense – Igor Pavlovsky, President-Chairman of the Board of the ARKhH “Artem” Anton Karpenko near the elements of the R-360 rocket system of the LCD-360 “Neptun” complex. Recall that the next stage of testing of the missile complex RC-360 “Neptun” is scheduled for May this year. According to the plan, at the next stages, missile warfare and its self-propagation systems must be tested. 190516 Neptun 2 The past stage of the testing of the Neptune complex was held on April 5th . р at the State Testing Ground of the Armed Forces of Ukraine ” Alibey “. During them, the PCR R-360 spent 13 minutes 55 seconds in the air, and crossed the distance 225 km. It should be noted that the state-owned enterprise DKBB “Luch” is the main executor of research and development work on the creation of a domestic complex. Also included in the co-operation are companies of the state enterprise “Ukroboronprom” – in addition to the State Criminal Code “Luch”, “Orizon Navigation”, “Impulse”, ” Vizar “, CCB “Arsenal” ( NSAU ), as well as private companies – ” Radionix “, ” TELEKART ” , ” UKRINNASH “, “Ukrainian armored vehicles”, PJSC “Motor Sich” and “AvtoKrAZ”.
oday, on May 16, in the city of Brovary, Kyiv region, the League of Defense Enterprises will present its activities to the Kiev Association of Military Attaches. This is reported by Defense Express. At the exhibition, which was prepared by the “League of Defense Enterprises”, such companies as: Telekart-Device, Avpharma, Ecotest, Technimpex, UkrSpetsTechnika, Tosko Corporation and others have presented their samples of military equipment, radio communication, medical devices, and personal protective equipment. 190516 LDC 2 The general director of the League of Defense Enterprises Yasinsky Oleksandr Oleksandrovych took the floor. He congratulated all the participants and noted the importance of interest from the military attache, the diplomatic institutions represented in Ukraine to the achievements of the private industry in Ukraine, because each of the techniques presented today is tested by the war. In his turn, the Deputy Director General of Ukroboronprom Omelchenko Sergey Grigorovich said that today the concern overcame a monopoly and now private entrepreneurs can freely cooperate with any foreign customers. 190516 LDC 3 President of the Kiev Military Attache Association Norbert Ges said he is not currently familiar with the League of Defense Enterprises, but all attendees of the Attaché are ready for cooperation and familiarization with the represented companies, as well as with the League. As previously reported by Defense Express , the League of Defense Enterprises of Ukraine will present its activities to the military attache.
15.05.19 17:37 – Ukroboronprom has 10 days to prepare for financial audit Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Hroisman provided Ukroboronprom with 10 days to prepare for the financial audit. View news.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has put into effect the decision of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of May 16 “On planning organization in the security and defense sector,” which provides for inspections in various fields, including using the capabilities of the joint Ukraine-NATO working group on military reform of High Level and Advisory Mission of the European Union on the reform of the civil security sector of Ukraine.
Ukrainian lawmakers have set May 20 as the day of inauguration of incoming President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
Volodymyr Zelenskiy has vowed to eradicate Ukraine’s widespread corruption and end the war with Russia-backed separatists in the country’s east
16.05.19 15:13 – Zelenskyi’s Advisor Razumkov: inauguration date is uncomfortable for Ukrainians Zelenskyi’s Advisor on political issues Dmytro Razumkov noted that Parliament made it really uncomfortable for Kyiv residents, as the inauguration is appointed on the first day of the working week. View news.
Zelensky’s Advisor stated that the appointed date of inauguration is uncomfortable for Kyiv residents
One of the main questions to Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskyy is whether he will dissolve the Parliament once he takes office. If that is the case,
Speaking on the air of NEWSONE, representative of President-elect Vladimir Zelensky, Dmitry Razumkov, said that he would not exclude the high likelihood that Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin and Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak will resign. He said he was 99% convinced that after Zelensky officially assumes power the ministers will have to leave. Razumkov also said that Zelensky’s team will insist on the resignation of the current Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko. He reminded the audience that the current Prosecutor General must at the very least have a degree in law. Earlier, Klimkin approached Zelensky and offered to resign. According to the minister, he will make the offer first and leave the final decision to the President, since “it is necessary to have a respect for political culture.”
First Vice Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine Iryna Gerashchenko has informed that she wrote a statement as the presidential commissioner for peaceful settlement of the situation in Donbas and a representative of Ukraine in the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group with a request to dismiss her from these positions. — Ukrinform.
Stanislav Shevchuk, who was recently dismissed from his position as chairperson of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, described the incident …
The team of Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky is ready for consultations with the government to make decisions that will provide a sufficient amount of natural gas for the heating season, Zelensky’s press service has told Ukrinform. — Ukrinform.
A total of 57% of polled Ukrainians said they would support Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, the relevant poll results were made public at a press conference on Thursday. — Ukrinform.
Some 75% of Ukrainians believe that President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky should engage in direct dialogue with representatives of the Russian Federation to bring peace back to Donbas, eastern Ukraine. Almost half of those polled want the status of Russia-occupied districts in Donetsk and Luhansk regions to be decided in a national referendum.
Ukrainian rock star Svyatoslav Vakarchuk has announced that he is setting up a political party ahead of parliamentary elections later this year.
16.05.19 14:25 – Four parties may win seats on Ukrainian parliament – survey Four parties in Ukraine would win seats on the Verkhovna Rada if the parliamentary elections were held this Sunday, according to a survey. View news.
Ukrainian tycoon Ihor Kolomoyskiy has returned to the country after spending almost two years in self-exile.
Two years after an RFE/RL investigation showed members of Ukraine’s parliament illegally voting on an electronic system, one lawmaker was still pushing others legislators’ buttons.
Vyshyvanka Day was first celebrated in 2006 on the initiative of Lesia Voroniuk, a student at Chernivtsi University. International Vyshyvanka Day celebrates Ukraine’s unique embroidered outfits that have long become one of Ukraine’s trademarks.
Today, on the third Thursday of May, Ukrainians traditionally celebrate Vyshyvanka Day, the day of the national embroidered shirt. — Ukrinform.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has congratulated on International Vyshyvanka Day, the day of the traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt. — Ukrinform.
Automated drones have been deployed to map in 3D radiation distribution in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine, site of the 1986 nuclear disaster. The U.K. researchers behind the project say the drones could be deployed in nuclear emergencies to quickly identify danger areas.
The Ukrainian city of Lviv helped create Eva.Stories, the viral Instagram project that brought a Holocaust victim’s diary to social media. But filming amid the Ukrainian presidential election campaign in March presented some challenges.
The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) will take place on May 24, OCU Primate and Metropolitan of Kyiv and all-Ukraine Epiphanius has said. “We plan told hold a meeting of the Holy Synod on May 24,” he said in an interview with the Ukrainian bureau of the British Broadcasting Service (BBC) published on Thursday. Epiphanius said general matters concerning the OCU would be discussed at the meeting. He did not rule out that “an appraisal of actions, which have taken place before the meeting” could be discussed. The metropolitan also said the process of parishes changing their denomination to the OCU had slowed after the presidential elections. “After the elections, we see that the process of transition has indeed slowed a bit, but I believe that over time it will be pick up again, because there are many parishes that are waiting, which are determined and will gradually move and join our church,” he said. Epiphanius denied accusations made by Honorary Patriarch of Kyiv and All-Rus-Ukraine Filaret against him, namely that he is not an independent figure, adding that he spoke about them with Filaret. “I said that I, as a primate, I cannot make all decisions alone. On December 15, at the Unification Council, we laid out a different model of church leadership. I alone, as a primate, have no right to change the charter. I don’t have rights to violate the canonical order,” he said. Epiphanius said gossip about taking control of the Kyiv Patriarchal See or Kyiv-based St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral from Filaret was inappropriate. “Don’t listen to gossip. No one is trying to take away anything. During the meeting of the Holy Synod, this was my clear position: we do not just leave St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral and the residence on Pushkinska Street to the Patriarch, but we leave the management of the parishes in Kyiv in place. The diocese and all that now is part of the diocese of the city of Kyiv, except for St. Michael’s Golden-domed Cathedral where I serve. Talking about taking away something does not correspond with reality,” he said.
Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine, head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) Epifaniy has said he is ready to listen to the advice of Honorable Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Filaret, but is not going to fulfill his ultimatums. “In general, I never ignored his opinions, I often spoke with him and I continue to communicate. But it’s necessary to understand the format of communication. It’s necessary to understand the difference between advice and ultimatums. When talking with Honorable Patriarch Filaret, I repeatedly insisted on this – I am ready to listen to his advice. Because he really has a lot of experience in leading the church for more than half a century. But I am not ready to fulfill certain ultimatums because I am a primate who has been lawfully elected at the Unification Council,” Epifaniy said in an interview with BBC News Ukraine. He said he personally has no right to change decisions taken collectively by the Council. “Therefore, I listened, I talked, but all this time, to a certain extent, I, as the head of the church, was even humiliated due to pressure and demands incompatible with the charter and the tomos,” Epifaniy said. Read alsoTomos of church autocephaly will not be revoked – Poroshenko’s adviser At the same time, he promised he would do everything possible for the sake of peace and unity in spite of anything. He also commented on Filaret’s requirement to hand over under his control church’s internal affairs and deal for foreign affairs only. “I was elected by a majority vote at the Unification Council and accepted this as a manifestation of God’s will, therefore, as a primate, I must adhere to the canonical order, statute, and norms of the tomos. I do not have the right to violate them by satisfying the desires of any bishop of our church. This does not depend on me. As a primate, I have no right to personally change what decisions taken collectively,” Epifaniy said. He also assured there was no split in the OCU, despite the recent harsh statements. Asked of the possibility of Filaret’s excommunication, Epifaniy said: “I wouldn’t comment on issues that bring certain dissonance and impose a split. Why should we say “rest” or “excommunication”? This is groundless and destructive.” “We seek unity, and we seek to have peace reigning over our church,” Epifaniy said. Commenting on Filaret’s claim that Epifaniy seems to suit Russia as head of the OCU as there is no criticism coming from Moscow toward him, the Metropolitan said “it is not about me.” “What’s Moscow’s objective? It’s having us lose the tomos [of autocephaly]. Because losing the tomos means losing canonical recognition. It’s this canonical recognition which once was the argument of the Russian Orthodox Church that restrained Orthodox believers from shifting toward the Kyiv Patriarchate.” He stressed, “Moscow will never be okay with any of OCU primates because they are not okay with the very fact the canonically-recognized church exists in Ukraine.” “There have been a lot of statements over the past days, but there is no split in the OCU. We respect Honorable Patriarch Filaret, who did much to make the Ukrainian church autocephalous,” Epifaniy added. As UNIAN reported earlier, on April 27, Patriarch Filaret said he was not satisfied with the OCU’s status as a metropolis. On May 14, Filaret invited the OCU’s hierarchs to the traditional UOC-KP prayer celebration in honor of holy martyr Makariy to St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv, using invitation blanks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, in defiance of the newly-created OCU which received a tomos of autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Only four of 60 clerics invited eventually showed up. Earlier, Filaret refused to recognize the UOC-KP as “liquidated” as a result of the creation of the OCU. At the same time, the Ministry of Culture assures that the UOC-KP was dissolved on December 15, 2018, during the Unification Council.
Metropolitan of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytsky and Vishnevsky Oleksandr (Drabynko) has explained the reasons for the significant reduction in the number of transitions of religious communities to the newly formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU). “These are the realities of today, and I associate them with the conflict,” Drabynko told Hromadske, hinting at the conflict between Filaret, an honorable patriarch of the OCU, and the new church’s primate, Metropolitan Epifaniy. “It is the ‘conciliar mind’ that should overcome the conflict, or this could be the Council, the inner understanding, which will relieve tensions. But I am convinced head of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine should voice his position and answer certain questions,” he said, adding that the move is a must following Filaret’s statement published earlier. As UNIAN reported earlier, on April 27, Patriarch Filaret said he was not satisfied with the OCU’s status as a metropolis. On May 14, Filaret invited the OCU’s hierarchs to the traditional UOC-KP prayer celebration in honor of holy martyr Makariy to St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kyiv, using invitation blanks of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, in defiance of the newly-created OCU which received a tomos of autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. Only four of 60 clerics invited eventually showed up. Earlier, Filaret refused to recognize the UOC-KP as “liquidated” as a result of the creation of the OCU. At the same time, the Ministry of Culture assures that the UOC-KP was dissolved on December 15, 2018, during the Unification Council.
Q&A: Adviser to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Director of National Institute for Strategic Studies Rostyslav Pavlenko comments on issues related to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) to the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency
Thousands of demonstrators faced off with riot police in a third night of protests over a proposal to build a new Russian Orthodox church on the site of a popular park.
More than 20 men and women have been sentenced to several days in jail for taking part in an unsanctioned protest in the city of Yekaterinburg.
A fence appeared overnight on May 13 in October Square in downtown Yekaterinburg, near the regional drama theater. This is the site where the Russian Copper Company (RMK) and the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UGMK) intend to build “St. Catherine’s Cathedral” before 2023, when the city celebrates the 300th anniversary of its founding. The project has been approved, and arts patrons at the “St. Catherine’s Cathedral LLC” have leased the land. The construction has the support of the governor, City Hall, and the Russian Orthodox Church’s Yekaterinburg Diocese. Local activists and political oppositionists, however, don’t want to lose public space to the church, and past demonstrations already led to the cancellation of previous plans to build St. Catherine’s Cathedral on an artificial island created in the city pond. The new fence in October Square has provoked a full-scale confrontation, with sit-ins, sieges, and some violence. Meduza journalist Dmitry Andreev spent the night with the protesters, and witnessed the clashes firsthand.
A spontaneous protest against the destruction of an open square to build a new cathedral in central Yekaterinburg stretched from the evening of May 13 into the early morning. Police officers left the square around midnight without dispersing protesters. On the evening of May 14, the square’s defenders — and their opponents — went face-to-face again.
On May 15, crews in a Yekaterinburg public park started replacing the fence around a controversial construction site with a wall. The stronger barrier guards an area that will host a new cathedral. On May 13 and 14, thousands of protesters against the construction project repeatedly toppled the chain link fence, leading to roughly 30 arrests for disorderly conduct. Despite the demonstrations, city officials have refused to suspend the cathedral’s construction.
On May 15, crews in a Yekaterinburg public park started replacing the fence around a controversial construction site with a wall. The stronger barrier guards an area that will host a new cathedral. On May 13 and 14, thousands of protesters against the construction project repeatedly toppled the chain link fence, leading to dozens of arrests for disorderly conduct. Despite the demonstrations, city officials have refused to suspend the cathedral’s construction.
Protests against the destruction of a city square in central Yekaterinburg have entered their third day. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of the city’s residents have taken to the streets to oppose the planned construction of a cathedral in place of the square. Protesters began their first day of protests on May 13 by knocking down the fence surrounding the proposed construction site. Several hours later, groups of young men wearing athletic clothing pushed them out of the square. Although the men acted aggressively, the police officers present did not interfere. Meduza asked journalist Grigory Leiba to find out who the young men were. The bands of ‘cathedral defenders’ turned out to include champion martial arts fighters, members of the recently founded RMK Martial Arts Academy, and regulars at local gyms. The latter group, sources told Meduza, were offered money in exchange for dispersing protesters.
Paul Goble Staunton, May 14 – “Thus [the revolution] begins,” the SerpomPo telegram channel says, with the population ready to come into the square to defend its rights and dignity against the powers of “the mafia state, in this case, the state’s church department,” a segment of the regime which has failed to draw the necessary conclusions from its Ukrainian losses. The church hierarchs “continue to conduct themselves boldly, hoping that the bosses will provide them protection forever,” forgetting that they and their protectors have fallen into “two ‘black holes,’ corruption in the state and corruption in the church (t.me/SerpomPo/3158, reposted at echo.msk.ru/blog/serpompo2018/2425723-echo/). For the Russian Orthodox Church, SerpomPo says, things are going to “end worse than they did in Ukraine,” with the withdrawal of the relatively small number of those who have been attending its services and then the withdrawal of the government’s support for the ROC MP as such. According to the telegram channel, “the atmosphere in the country is changing quickly. Suddenly out of nowhere are arising protests throughout the entire country. Moreover, pickets against torture are continuing, despite the repressions and resistance to the mafia state is growing.” The chief thing that has happened, it says, is that “the powers that be have lost or are losing the moral basis of their rule, the certainty of society that the bosses are acting correctly.” Instead, the Russian people see that the powers that be are maintaining themselves by “naked force” alone. “But as is well known, one can use bayonets to deal with opponents but one can’t sit on them for long,” SerpomPo says. “Our rulers, undoubtedly, are going to try,” it continues. But by doing so, they will only show the people what those above them think about the people – and once they see that, no amount of bayonets will help for long.
Paul Goble Staunton, May 14 – Disputes over access to three ancient Christian monasteries on or near the Azerbaijani-Georgian border, disputes that have ebbed and flowed since 1991, could escalate into a larger conflict if either side presses for a new demarcation of the border or if relations between the two countries deteriorate for other reasons, Aleksandr Krylov says. The Russian specialist on the Caucasus at Moscow’s IMEMO notes that the two countries have been strategic partners and that pressure for demarcation has been limited; but he continues, the potential for serious conflict exist because both countries claim the same territory and “are not ready for compromise” (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/335399/). “A civilized solution,” Krylov suggests, “would be to declare the territory one of common use,” which in fact Baku and Tbilisi have informally done in the past, “but for the Caucasus this won’t work: here, each of the sides to the last insists on its right to this or that territory” whenever demarcation insisted upon. According to Eldar Namazov, a former aide to the Azerbaijani president, “Azerbaijan never blocked visits to that part of the Keshikchidag complex on its territory.” Instead, “we are our side created a unique ‘little Shengen zone’” which allowed Georgians to visit these religious places on Azerbaijani territory without any formalities. That arrangement lasted “many years,” he continues; but the situation first began to heat up at the end of April 2019 after Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili visited the border region and called for the speediest possible demarcation of the border,” a call that other Georgian politicians then echoed. At that point, Azerbaijani border guards blocked visits to the monasteries by some religious and an additional number of pilgrims and tourists. The blockage ended quickly after the foreign ministers of the two countries spoke, but this event triggered new Georgian demand for border demarcation, something Azerbaijan views as a plan to change the border line. Namazov says that “Azerbaijan’s approach is based on European values: one need not change borders but act so that people do not feel them. It would be even more incorrect to draw borders on religious principles given that in Azerbaijan there are monuments” of a wide range of faiths, as there are in Armenia as well. Baku insists, he continues, that “not one of the sides must demand from the other, territories or monuments. We do not need ‘a second Karabakh,’ and Georgia doesn’t need ‘a new South Ossetia.’” Both countries understand that any territorial claims will harm both sides in any dispute. Georgia, in contrast, has a different view. It considers the territories under the monasteries, two on the border (Udabno and Chichkhhituri) and a third near the border (Bertubani), as Georgian. That sets the stage for a potentially serious conflict. If that position remains unchanged, any discussion of demarcating of the border could cause problems.