Monday, June 29, 2015

All you need to know about what is going on in Ukraine

June 29, 2015 (THEDAILYSIGNAL) This article was written by Nolan Peterson, a former special operations pilot and a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now he is The Daily Signal’s foreign correspondent based in Ukraine.

Sometime my foreign friends ask me about what is going on in the eastern part of Ukraine. My understanding is that Peterson's answer is the best one. Just read this unique article and watch an included video at

Sunday, June 28, 2015

306th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava

June 28, 2015 Yesterday we marked the 306th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava. The scientific historical seminar dedicated to the famous Poltava photographer Josef Khmelevsky took place in Poltava Battle museum. Many unique photos taken by this artist of polish origin were shown to the audience. One of his photo albums was created in 1909 soon after the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava. There are many pictures showing Poltava Battle field and its monuments as well as the celebration in the presence of the royal family. One copy of this album is preserving in the War Archives (Krigsarkivet) in Stockholm. Those who attended the seminar were shown old photo cameras that were in use in the beginning of 20th century. There were many military men who came to Poltava from the Eastern Ukraine where the anti-terrorist operation is on its top. Besides artillery show organized by the local businessman Mikhail Mellin was presented to the public. Mikhail and his colleagues were dressed as warriors of the Swedish King Charles XII. They used a replica of three pound cannon to show how to load, aim, and fire before public eyes.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The US Senate on June 18 passed a $612 billion defense policy bill that allows lethal weapons for Ukraine

June 21, 2015 (KYIVPOST) Three U.S. senators are in Ukraine to urge the American government and its European allies to do more to support Ukraine in its defense against Russia's war in eastern Ukraine and the Kremlin's occupation of the Crimean peninsula. The Republican Party delegation was led by U.S. Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and included Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming. McCain said that he and the senators met with President Petro Poroshenko, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, as well as visited soldiers, volunteers and a military command center in eastern Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk, where they said they found morale high but soldiers in need of better equipment.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Poltava Sights from a Quadcopter

June 17, 2015 There are some stunning sights in this video that was taken using a high density camera fixed on quadcopter. To say truly for me it was a bit unusual to look at Poltava through the eyes of this clever unmanned aerial vehicle. Hope you will enjoy this five minute long video available at 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Two Major Non-Moscow Ukrainian Orthodox Churches Move toward Unity

June 11, 2015 The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) of the Kyiv Patriarchate, two of the three largest Orthodox denominations in Ukraine (the other is the UOC subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate), have agreed to hold a meeting later this month to discuss unification.
That move, agreed upon at a meeting in Kyiv on Monday, puts the two on the road to unification and toward the formation of a single autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine, something that the Moscow Patriarchate will do everything in its power to prevent because the emergence of such a church would cost it most of its bishoprics and parishioners there.
Such an independent national church, subordinate only to the Universal Patriarchate in Constantinople which sent delegates to the Monday meeting and appears to be actively supporting the Ukrainian move, would not only attract many bishops and the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Chirch of the Moscow Patriarchate (ROC-MP) but would also boost Ukrainian national identity separate from Russia.
But in addition, it would have serious consequences in Russia itself: Because more than half of the Moscow Patriarchate’s parishes are in Ukraine and because many of the newly created bishops there are Moscow Patriarch Kirill’s base, such a move represents a devastating blow to the Moscow church and its leader, reducing the ROC-MP to the third largest Orthodox church in the world and undercutting Kirill’s power and influence.
Consequently, it is entirely reasonable to assume that Kirill and Moscow will do everything they can to block this development, including the use of FSB-orchestrated provocations, blackmail, bribes, and other forms of official pressure both within Ukraine itself and in the Orthodox world more generally

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Ukraine crews battle blaze after 'huge' explosion outside Kiev

June 9, 2015 (BBC News Europe) Emergency crews are battling a fire outside the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, following a huge blast at a fuel depot. The blaze broke out on Monday evening, and one worker at the plant died. The explosion on Tuesday morning left several firefighters reportedly injured or missing. Three firefighters were unaccounted for and another six were taken to hospital, officials said, as the fire spread to at least 16 tanks, most of them storing petrol.

The fire at the depot, next to Hlevakha airbase and near the town of Vasylkiv (20 km. away from Kiev), sent a huge pall of smoke over the surrounding area. The fire burned through the night The army has been clearing a munitions storage facility, located about 50m (164 ft) away, according to Oleksandr Turchynov, secretary of Ukraine's national security and defence council. Fire crews are trying to stop the blaze spreading to an adjacent depot. 
People in the surrounding area have been taken to safety. Of the 16 tanks on fire, eight were said to have a capacity of 900 cubic metres (32,000 cu ft) each. Two hundred firefighters were trying to bring the fire under control amid fears it could spread to an adjacent depot. People in a 2km (1.24 miles) zone around the petrol containers currently on fire have been evacuated, Mr Turchynov said. It was not immediately clear what might have caused the blast.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ukrainian Minister of Defense: Over 42,500 Russian soldiers and militants are deployed on the occupied territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions

June 8, 2015 (UATODAY) Ukrainian minister of defense Stephan Poltorak has said some 42,500 militants and more than 550 tanks are deployed on the territory of so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People Republics. 

"The joint group of Russians and militants on the militant-controlled area consists of more than 42,500 troops and more than 550 tanks", Stephan Poltorak said during the NATO-Ukraine Council meeting in Kyiv on June 8, 2015. "Such amount of artillery would be enough for an average European country", the minister of defense added. Stephan Poltorak pointed out that Russia remains the main organizer and sponsor of the war in the Eastern Ukraine.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

G7 summit: Obama and Merkel firm on Russia sanctions

June 7, 2015 (BBC News Europe) President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel held talks as the G7 summit of economic powers began in southern Germany. Moscow is the target of European Union and US sanctions over its role in support of Ukrainian rebels. Russia has been excluded from what was previously known as the G8, since the annexation of Crimea last year.

The West accuses Russia of sending military forces into eastern Ukraine to help the rebels - a charge echoed by analysts. Moscow denies this, saying any Russian soldiers there are volunteers. As he arrived in the Bavarian Alps, Mr Obama said G7 leaders would discuss "standing up to Russian aggression" in Ukraine.

The White House issued a statement after Mr Obama's talks with Mrs Merkel, saying: "The duration of sanctions should be clearly linked to Russia's full implementation of the Minsk agreements and respect for Ukraine's sovereignty."

Germany, Britain and the US want an agreement to offer support to any EU member state tempted to withdraw backing for the sanctions on Moscow, which are hurting the Russian economy. Last September's Minsk accord, involving Russia, pro-Russian rebels and the Ukrainian government, included the establishment of a 30km (19-mile) buffer zone between the two sides. But fighting has intensified in recent weeks. In the latest incident, two Ukrainian coastguards were injured when a blast ripped through their patrol boat in the port of Mariupol, though the exact circumstances remain unclear.

The European Union's President of the Council of Ministers, Donald Tusk, signalled a toughening of sanctions in a statement at the G7. "If anyone wants to start a debate about changing the sanctions regime, the discussion could only be about strengthening it."

Read the full article at

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Fierce fighting is raging between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, officials on both sides say

June 4, 2015 (BBC News Europe) The clashes - said to involve heavy artillery and tanks - are taking place in Maryinka and Krasnohorivka, outside the rebel-held city of Donetsk. There were reports of multiple injuries in the towns held by Ukraine's army. Ukraine accused the rebels of launching a full-scale offensive in violation of a truce. The separatists deny this.

"Krasnohorivka and Maryinka are in flames. There is a close-contact fighting taking place along the entire line of contact. Militants are trying to break through," wrote Ukrainian lawmaker Yevhen Deydey, who acts as a liaison official for the government's Kiev-1 battalion. "Praying for our boys," Mr Deydey added on his blog. More than 20 government soldiers were wounded during the intense fighting, unconfirmed reports say. Ukraine's military later accused the rebels of staging a full-scale offensive, in violation of the Minsk agreements.
The exact number of dead might only emerge with time, but both sides appear to have taken significant losses. Who is now in control of Maryinka is unclear. Earlier, a Ukrainian commander told us his troops had lost control of the town. Then Ukraine's defence minister said his forces were holding their ground. But a rebel commander has now told us that the rebels have taken control. 
If Maryinka has been taken by the rebels, it would appear to be the most significant gain in territory since the Ukrainian military lost control of the town of Debaltseve, just after the Minsk deal was agreed.
Wednesday's violence will sow even more distrust and will shake the confidence of leaders and diplomats in France and Germany, who are trying to work with Russia and Ukraine to broker real peace.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ukraine starts criminal case against ally of deposed President Yanukovich

June 3, 2015 (Reuters Kiev) - Ukraine prepared to bring criminal proceedings for embezzlement against an ally of deposed leader Viktor Yanukovich on Wednesday after stripping him of parliamentary immunity from prosecution. Serhiy Klyuev, a tycoon whose wealth from metals and property was put at around $323 million by Forbes two years ago, denied any guilt in remarks to parliament and said the charges had arisen from political pressure.
His brother, Andriy, also an oligarch, was Yanukovich's chief-of-staff and fled with his boss to Russia in the face of violent pro-Europe street protests in February 2014. Ukrainian media say that the brothers acted as middlemen in helping Yanukovich secure a 350-acre (140-hectare) estate at Mezhihirye outside Kiev where he led a luxurious lifestyle with a palatial mansion, riverside yacht pier, hunting grounds and a menagerie of ostriches.
Acting state prosecutor Volodymyr Guzyr told parliament that Klyuev, 45, had committed "large-scale" embezzlement but did not elaborate on early charges by the prosecutor's office. Klyuev, who has been a parliamentary deputy for the Opposition Bloc grouping many former supporters and allies of Yanukovich, said: "Investigators have not established any proof of my guilt, but the prosecutor's office has ignored this because of political pressure."
The Moscow-supported Yanukovich himself is wanted by Ukraine to face charges of being behind the shootings of protesters and of involvement in large-scale embezzlement. Interpol has also put Yanukovich on its wanted list. He sparked mass unrest when he announced a policy U-turn away from a course of European integration back to the Russian orbit. After Yanukovich fell, Russia annexed Crimea and threw its support behind a rebellion by pro-Moscow separatists in Ukraine's east, sparking the biggest crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.