Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ukraine and issue of Crimea remain among priorities of new U.S. Administration - meeting between President of Ukraine and U.S. Vice President

February 18, 2017 (president.gov.ua) In the framework of the working visit to Germany, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko had a meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. Following the meeting, the Head of State informed that Ukraine remains among priorities in the policy of new U.S. Administration.
We have once again received a powerful signal that USA stands with Ukraine, that Ukraine is among the top priorities for the new U.S. Administration. The issue of Crimea and decisive struggle for the liberation of Crimea also remain among priorities,” Petro Poroshenko said. The Head of State noted that the meeting lasted almost twice as long as planned. Petro Poroshenko and Mike Pence discussed coordination of actions as regards the situation in eastern Ukraine and Russian occupation of the Donbas territories. They also coordinated efficient steps to form the Ukrainian agenda of negotiations with Russia.
I was impressed that the U.S. Vice President was very well informed about the details of the process that takes place,” the Head of State stressed. The President invited the U.S. Vice President to make a visit to Ukraine. The Head of State noted that his meetings within the Munich Security Conference confirmed strong solidarity with Ukraine.

It is very important that Ukraine remained among the main topics of the security conference today and yesterday. We have received another confirmation of a very powerful global solidarity with Ukraine that helps us during the aggression of Russia,” Petro Poroshenko emphasized. The President once again noted that not a single issue will be resolved behind Ukraine.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Pence heads to Europe on reassurance tour

February 17, 2017 (Reuters) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will seek on Saturday to soothe allies unnerved by his boss' unorthodox statements on Russia and NATO as he stresses America's commitment to Europe during the first major foreign address for the Trump administration. Pence will tell the annual Munich Security Conference that Europe is an "indispensable partner" for the United States, a message he will repeat privately in meetings with a dozen leaders over the weekend and on Monday, a senior White House foreign policy adviser told reporters. "We are the most secure and most prosperous when both the U.S. and Europe are strong and united," the adviser said, previewing Pence's trip.
President Donald Trump alarmed allies during his campaign for office by breaking with traditional Republican views on the transatlantic relationship. Trump has expressed admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he said he would like to work to fight Islamic State militants, and has questioned the value of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. In Munich, Pence will hold a series of meetings with leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and leaders from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Pence will emphasize that Russia and Ukraine need to fully implement the Minsk ceasefire agreement, and will stand firm on economic sanctions on Russia related to its aggression in Ukraine, the adviser told reporters. He plans to discuss counterterrorism in a meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and the fight against Islamic State in meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, the adviser said.
On Monday, Pence will hold several discussions with European officials in Brussels, including with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. His trip comes amid turbulence at the White House. Trump fired his national security adviser on Monday for misleading Pence over his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the United States. Trump was turned down by a replacement candidate on Thursday. While Pence's sentiments may be welcomed, it may take more than soothing words to provide comfort, given the depth of anxiety in Europe about Trump's foreign policy, said Derek Chollet, a top defense policy adviser to former President Barack Obama.
"He will be trying to be reassuring, try to soften the edges of some of the president’s recent comments about Europe, put into context or explain - but I have to think that it’s not going to solve the problem," said Chollet, now with the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
The full article is available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-europe-idUSKBN15W0BB

Sunday, February 12, 2017

UK hit by 188 high-level cyber-attacks in three months



February, 12 2017 (theguardian) Britain is being hit by dozens of cyber-attacks a month, including attempts by Russian state-sponsored hackers to steal defence and foreign policy secrets, GCHQ’s new cybersecurity chief has said. Ciaran Martin, head of the new National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), told the Sunday Times there had been a “step change” in Russia’s online aggression against the west. His comments came as the chancellor, Philip Hammond, told the Sunday Telegraph the centre had blocked 34,550 “potential attacks” on government departments and members of the public in the past six months – about 200 cases a day.
Allegations of Russia-sponsored cyber-attacks became a focal point during the US election, raising fears that the tactic was on the rise. Martin said Britain had been hit by 188 high-level attacks, “many of which threatened national security”, in the last three months. He told the Sunday Times: “In the case of government departments, [it is] getting into the system to extract information on UK government policy on anything from energy to diplomacy to information on a particular sector.” Attacks by Russian and Chinese state-sponsored hackers on defence and foreign policy servers are among those being investigated by the NCSC, the newspaper said.
Martin added: “Over the last two years there has been a step change in Russian aggression in cyberspace. Part of that step change has been a series of attacks on political institutions, political parties, parliamentary organisations and that’s all very well evidenced by our international partners and widely accepted.
Hammond, a former defence and foreign secretary, warned that hacks could bring down national infrastructure and that even kettles, fridges and driverless cars were at risk. Writing in the Telegraph, he warned that the “internet revolution” brought the threat of being held to ransom by hackers, the theft of intellectual property and the “shutting down of critical national infrastructure”. “Beyond hacked kettles and fridges, ‘internet of things’ devices, such as driverless cars, can present alarmingly real security threats that could be incredibly dangerous if the right security isn’t in place,” Hammond added. Their comments come before the NCSC is officially opened in London by the Queen on Tuesday.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Germany plans four-way meeting on Ukraine crisis

February 9, 2017 (Reuters) Germany hopes to hold a meeting with Russia, Ukraine and France on the Ukraine crisis at a gathering of G20 foreign ministers in Bonn next week, a foreign ministry spokesman said on Wednesday. "We are conducting talks ... with our partners in Paris, Moscow, Kiev about the usefulness, political usefulness and logistical feasibility of such a meeting," spokesman Martin Schaefer said. He said that Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel wanted to organise a meeting of the four foreign ministers soon to give new impetus to the implementation of the Minsk ceasefire agreement.

Tanks are seen near the government-held town of Bakhmut, Ukraine, February 7,
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence on separatists in eastern Ukraine to stop the violence there. Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists have both blamed each other for the latest flare-up in a conflict that has killed 10,000 people since April 2014. Schaefer downplayed growing controversy about an interview given by German ambassador Ernst Reichel to a Ukrainian publication in which he said that elections were possible in eastern Ukraine despite the Russian presence in the region and Kiev's intent to "raise Ukrainian flags at each city council." He said Reichel's comments did not mark a departure from the German government's views or the Minsk peace process, which maps out a process for restoring Ukraine's sovereignty over its full territory after a series of other steps, including elections. Schaefer also said the German government deeply regretted an incident in which a Ukrainian lawmaker "smeared" a piece of the Berlin wall at the German embassy in Kiev in protest over the ambassador's remarks, saying it was "inappropriate behaviour". He said Germany was the first country to recognise Ukraine after its independence and remained a steadfast supporter of Ukrainian reforms.

Monday, February 6, 2017

February 6, 2017 This bronze gun is currently preserving in the Poltava Battle Museum. It was cast in the early part of the 18th century by unknown master for the Pryluksky regiment headed by colonel Gnat Galagan (? – 1748). In 1708 he didn’t follow Hetman Ivan Masepa who allied himself with Swedish King Charles XII on October 28, 1708. However, only 3,000 Cossacks followed their Hetman, with rest including colonel Gnat Galagan remaining loyal to the Tsar. 
Colonel Gnat Galagan and his coat of arms
Later on colonel Galagan helped to the Russian detachment under the command of colonel Peter Yakovlev to destroy Zaporozhian Sich. For his loyality to Tsat Peter I colonel Galagan was promoted commander Chigirin regiment. 
The gun bears the coat of arms of the colonel and undoubtedly was cast by some skilled master.

UN Ambassador Haley hits Russia hard on Ukraine

February 3, 2017 (CNN) The US ambassador to the United Nations offered a strong condemnation of Russia in her first appearance at the UN Security Council on Thursday, calling on Moscow to de-escalate violence in eastern Ukraine and saying that US sanctions against Moscow would remain in place until it withdraws from Crimea. "The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea," said Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump's envoy to the world body. "Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine."
Haley was speaking at an emergency UN meeting about a sudden upsurge in violence in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army. Her remarks were notable for the stark difference between her rhetoric and Trump's.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fighting in the Eeastern Ukraine surges



January 31, 2017 (Euronews) Fighting in east Ukraine has escalated, with reports that at least seven government soldiers and 15 pro-Russian separatists have been killed over the past two days. Ukrainian defence officials accused what they said were ‘Russian occupying forces’ of firing towards the eastern frontline town of Avdiivka, while separatist leaders blamed government forces for the spike in violence. Houses in Makiyivka to the south of Avdiivka were damaged, one resident described the moment the fighting erupted. “I was in the garden when I heard incoming shelling. When the third shell hit that house I ran to the cellar. That’s what saved me,” he said.
Typical view of Avdiivka's suburb


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko cut short a trip to Germany to oversee the emergency situation in Avdiivka. The surge in violence comes after Donald Trump had his first phone call with the Russian President, in which they discussed the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. The latest casualties add to the estimated 10,000 already killed in the three-year battle over territory near the Ukraine-Russia border.
                                    There are thousands of such "Russian sourenirs"scattered around in Avdiyivka.
Recaptured from pro-Russian rebels in 2014, Avdiivka is a key stronghold for the Ukrainian army which it is desperately trying to retain. The town is close to rebel-controlled Donetsk and important roads and intersections used by the rebels to transport machinery and ammunition. Just as important is the town's coking and chemical plant - the biggest of its kind in Europe. If it fell into rebel hands it would cut much-needed supplies to Ukraine's steel industry.
On Sunday we have lost three valiant defenders of Avdiivka: Andrew Kyzylo (year of birth : 1993), Volodymyr Balchenko (year of birth : 1992), and Dmytro Overchenko (year of birth : 1989).