Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27, 2017 (EURONEWS) A march to commemorate the second anniversary of the killing of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has taken place in Moscow. The organisers said 15,000 people took part; the police put the figure at 5,000. A smaller rally was held in St Petersburg. At the march which gathered political parties and opposition movements, one banner read “Boris Nemtsov is a hero of Russia”, while there were chants of “Russia without Putin”, “Russia will be free” and “Hands off Ukraine”.
Five Chechens have denied charges of murdering the 55-year-old, who was a fierce critic of Vladimir Putin and one of the president’s principal opponents. But Nemtsov’s supporters say the investigation – which the president said he backed – has failed to uncover who ordered the killing. “Boris Nemtsov was (the symbol of) a ‘free-thinking Russia’ for us; democratic values which we all aim for, such as free elections and no corruption,” said one of the marchers, Moscow resident Ekaterina Getgarts.
Unfortunately, the name of Boris Nemtsov for Russia as a whole, as opposed to big cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg, does not mean anything yet. Unfortunately. But he represents another missed opportunity for Russia to get on the path towards being a normal country,” said another supporter, Boris Schur. The marchers had not been authorised access to the spot where, on 25 February 2015, Nemtsov was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin as he walked home from a restaurant with his girlfriend, but many later laid flowers there.
The march, largely peaceful, was nonetheless marked by an assault on ex-prime minister and government opponent Mikhail Kasyanov who had green ink thrown in his face. Nemtsov – a former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin’s presidency – had been working on a report on Russian involvement in Ukraine and had accused Putin of launching an illegal war. The victim’s supporters believe the pro-Moscow leader of Russia’s Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, was behind the murder. But he denies it and in December Russian investigators refused to call him as a witness.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sweden Supports EU Policies Toward Russia Over Ukraine Crisis – Foreign Minister

February 21, 2017 (Sputnik) - Sweden keeps strict position toward Russia over Ukraine and supports all measures introduced by the European Union regarding the country, Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said Tuesday. "I explained [during the meeting] that Sweden's stance is in place and firm in relation to Russia's actions against Ukraine. Sweden fully supports the European Union's policy with regard to Russia, including those measures that have been adopted by the European Union. I stressed the necessity of implementing the Minsk agreements. And also stressed Russia's particular responsibility in this regard," Wallstrom said to reporters after the meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Wallstrom is currently on an official visit to Moscow.

Moscow's top diplomat expressed hopes for improving relations between Russia and Sweden. His counterpart noted the multifaceted nature of the bilateral ties.
Relations between Moscow and Stockholm grew tense in 2014 when Sweden, an EU member, upheld sanctions against Russia following an escalation of the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea's reunification with Russia.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Combat vehicle of 21st century

February 23, 2017 (UNIAN) Ukrainian Oplot MBT in action Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman during his visit to Kharkiv has inspected the performance of the Ukrainian-made Oplot main battle tank. The prime minister uploaded on his Facebook page a video showing Oplot maneuvering. The Ukrainian Oplot main battle tank is a combat vehicle of the 21st century. It can cleverly hide its position by digging itself into the ground or creating an effective smoke screen. The tank can overcome two-meter-deep fords. With additional load, it is able to dive five meters deep. Read also Ukrainian MBTs for Thailand The MBT is combat-capable at temperatures ranging from minus 40 degrees centigrade to 55 degrees. Oplot engages targets at a distance of up to five kilometers, both day and night, in all weather conditions. Latest armor system protects the tank from modern shaped-charge projectiles.
Ukrainian-made Oplot tank in action

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

President: Threat of full-scale aggression of Russia still exists

February 22, 2017 ( Threat of full-scale aggression of Russia still exists, as stated by President Petro Poroshenko at the operational meeting of the administrative board of the Armed Forces. “This threat oozes out not only through the uncontrolled areas of border in Donbas, but along the entire border line with Russia and even wider, which convinces us of hostile intentions of the Russian Federation,” the Head of State in his speech.

The evidence of that is the deployment of up to 50 thousand Russian troops in close proximity to our borders. According to Petro Poroshenko, they have about 470 tanks, over 1700 armored combat vehicles, about 390 artillery systems and 220 multiple launch rocket systems, about 490 combat aircrafts, hundreds of helicopters, 24 warships.
Russians create new and expand and modernize the existing bases, other objects of military infrastructure. By the way, there is no guarantees that this multitude will not come on us someday,” the Head of State said adding that rapid militarization of the occupied territories is taking place now.
“In Donbas, Russia formed two army corps consisting of 6 mechanized brigades, 1 infantry brigade, 3 regiments, 2 artillery brigades and other units. Their management, manning and comprehensive maintenance is ensured by the aggressor – Russia. Regular units of the armed forces of the Russian Federation are additionally involved in these troops. About 3.5 thousand people already,” the President informed.

Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine on the Third Anniversary of Military Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine

On February 20, 2014, the Russian Federation launched the military aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine. Three years have passed since the treacherous attack by the neighbouring state, despite its commitment to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence, as well as its status of one of the guarantors of security and territorial integrity of Ukraine according to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. Although the Revolution of Dignity clearly reconfirmed the aspirations of the Ukrainian people to build European, democratic and prosperous Ukraine, the Kremlin responded by attempting to deprive Ukrainians of the right to define their future by their own. Russia launched a well-planned military operation, which resulted in the temporary occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as well as in bloodshed in Donbas. 
Thereby Russia has challenged the value-based world order in a try to revive the geopolitical thinking of the past with domination of the rule of force and spheres of influence. 
The appalling number of victims highlights the immorality of Kremlin’s war against the Ukrainian people: over 9 800 Ukrainian people were killed, about 23 000 wounded and almost 1.8 million of internally displaced persons. 7.2 % of Ukrainian territory has been seized by Russia and millions of the citizens of Ukraine live there under occupation and endless terror.  Russia persists in sending new fighters, weaponry and ammunition to Ukraine through the section of the Ukrainian-Russian state border of 409.7 km long, which remains out of control of the Ukrainian government. Occupied Crimea, closed for any form of international control and monitoring, is now an area for systemic violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, targeting, first of all, the Ukrainian activists and the indigenous people of Crimea - Crimean Tatars. The citizens of Ukraine are being groundlessly detained and imprisoned, activists are being disappeared, their families and friends are facing intimidation. The Mejlis, a representative body of the Crimean Tatar people, was banned. 
Russia continues to fuel the conflict in Donbas, sends regular troops and mercenaries to the territory, which is out of control by the Ukrainian Government, and keeps reinforcing its militants and terrorists with the sophisticated weaponry and military hardware. Russia remains unwilling to implement the Minsk Agreements thus undermining all efforts taken by Ukraine and the international community towards de-escalation and stabilization in the region. Moscow’s propaganda has no limits to lie, falsification and doublespeak. Human life has no value for the aggressor. Besides their actions in Ukraine, the Russian structures were regularly spotted interfering in the internal affairs of other sovereign states. The aggressive policy of the Russian Federation pose a threat for the entire world order.  
We are grateful to all partners for their strong support and solidarity. By adopting the UN General Assembly Resolutions “Territorial integrity of Ukraine” and “'Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (Ukraine)” the world has clearly said “no” to violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty of an independent state, condemned the occupant and reconfirmed its human rights commitments. Personal and economic sanctions have been a powerful demonstration of the unity of purpose of the world leading countries in response to the outrage and defiance of international law by the aggressor state. 
Read the full statement at

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 ( 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:

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.