Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Visit of the SMB delegation to Poltava

The delegation of the Swedish Association of the military history (SMB) visited Poltava on September 13-17. During three-day-long stay in Poltava the delegates visited many sights of the Poltava Battle field, had a meeting with the staff of the Poltava Battle Museum, visited a place where the King Charles XII was wounded on the eve of the Battle of Poltava and planted two oak-trees together with local inhabitants near the monument to fallen Swedish warriors erected by their compatriots near the village Pobyvanka.
The SMB delegation near the redoubt reconstructed in 1909 on the eve of the celebration of 200th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava
The SMB delegation near the redoubt reconstructed in 2009 on the eve of the celebration of 300th anniversary of the Battle of Poltava
Poltava military reconstructor Mikhail Mellin (far left) shooting a gun salute to the Swedish guests
Swedes and Ukrainians near the Monument to the fallen soldiers of the King Charles XII
The oak-tree planted by Swedes and Ukrainians near the Monument








Monday, August 21, 2017

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to Visit Ukraine Amid Russian Resurgence

August 21, 2017 (Military.com) Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is set to travel to Ukraine, becoming the first U.S. defense secretary to visit the country since Robert Gates, the Pentagon announced Friday. Mattis will meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak on Aug. 24, Ukraine's independence day. "During these engagements, the secretary will reassure our Ukrainian partners that the U.S. remains firmly committed to the goal of restoring Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as strengthening the strategic defense partnership between our two countries," the Defense Department said.
Mattis' trip comes as the United States is mulling giving Ukraine lethal weapons after Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its ongoing incursion into Ukraine's eastern border regions. The U.S. has given Ukraine's military non-lethal supplies, including night-vision goggles, uniforms and surveillance equipment such as Raven RQ-11BAnalog mini-drones. But U.S. officials worry -- with seemingly endless breakouts of hostilities between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine's national guard -- that the conflict will prolong without expanded support. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, an avid supporter of arming Ukraine since then-President Barack Obama cautioned against lethal weapons, has raised the issue repeatedly with defense officials.
During Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan's confirmation hearing in June, McCain was unhappy with the incoming deputy's answers about providing arms to Ukraine. "It's still disturbing to me after all these years that you would say that you have to look at the issue," the senator said. "Have you not been aware of the issue? Have you not been aware of the actions of the Senate Armed Services Committee? Have you not been aware of the thousands of people that have been killed by Vladimir Putin? Have you missed all that in your duties at one of the major defense corporations in this country?" Mattis will also travel to Turkey and Jordan next week, meeting with his counterparts to discuss the ongoing air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Friday, August 18, 2017

August 18, 2017 (BBC Europe) The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) warned of a possible new cyber attack on Ukrainian institutions and companies. The SBU believes that the "Petya" virus, which attacked the Ukrainian information systems on June 27 this year, could be a "preparatory phase for a second wave of cyberattacks". After investigating the events of June 27, the SBU has discovered that the virus collected data from electronic mailboxes, passwords for accounts, server access details, and hash data user accounts. Specialists of the SBU assume that getting this information was the main objective of the first wave of cyberattacks and obtained data could be used by the real initiators for both cyber intelligence and for further destructive actions.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The visit of the Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine to the State Historical and Cultural Reserve “The Poltava Battle Field”

August 9, 2017 Mr Martin Hagström, Ambassador of Sweden to Ukraine visited Poltava Battle Museum and laid a blue-yellow bunch of flowers to the Monument to the fallen Swedish warriors erected in 1909 by their compatriots near the village Pobyvanka. I was very pleased to tell a story of the monument to Mr Hagström and answer his questions. Besides we were discussing a question regarding commemoration of fallen warriors of the King Charkes XII. Many thousand of them were buried in a hurry near the village  Tachtaulove. Despite more than 300 years have passed since the Battle of Poltava the main burial place of caroliners is still not marked even with a very modest memorial stone.
During the visit to Poltava Battle Museum Mr Hagström was guided by Viktor Myroshnyk, the senior researcher at the museum who speaks pretty good Swedish. Mr Hagström supported an idea of sending Viktor Myroshnyk to Sweden for the summer courses in Swedish language in the near future.

Besides the battle field Mr Hagström visited a memorial stone unveiled recently in the village Nyzhni Mlyny on the place where King Charles XII was wounded on the eve of the Battle of Poltava.
Near the entrance to the Museum of the Battle of Poltava
Mr Hagström and Viktor Myroshnyk in the museum
Mr Hagström is laying frowers to the Monument to the Swedish warriors killed in the Battle of Poltava
Mr Hagström and Oleg Bezverkhnii near the monument

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Exclusive: CNN witnesses US Navy's drone-killing laser

June 18, 2017 (CNN) In the sometimes hostile waters of the Persian Gulf looms the US Navy's first -- in fact, the world's first -- active laser weapon. The LaWS, an acronym for Laser Weapons System, is not science fiction. It is not experimental. It is deployed on board the USS Ponce amphibious transport ship, ready to be fired at targets today and every day by Capt. Christopher Wells and his crew. CNN was granted exclusive access to a live-fire test of the laser. "It is more precise than a bullet," Wells told CNN. "It's not a niche weapon system like some other weapons that we have throughout the military where it's only good against air contacts, or it's only good against surface targets, or it's only good against, you know, ground-based targets -- in this case this is a very versatile weapon, it can be used against a variety of targets."
LaWS begins with an advantage no other weapon ever invented comes even close to matching. It moves, by definition, at the speed of light. For comparison, that is 50,000 times the speed of an incoming ICBM.
"It is throwing massive amounts of photons at an incoming object," said Lt. Cale Hughes, laser weapons system officer. "We don't worry about wind, we don't worry about range, we don't worry about anything else. We're able to engage the targets at the speed of light."
For the test, the USS Ponce crew launched the target -- a drone aircraft, a weapon in increasing use by Iran, North Korea, China, Russia and other adversaries. Immediately, the weapons team zeroed in. "We don't have to lead a target," Hughes explained. "We're doing that engagement at the speed of light so it really is a point and shoot -- we see it, we focus on it, and we can negate that target." In an instant, the drone's wing lit up, heated to a temperature of thousands of degrees, lethally damaging the aircraft and sending it hurtling down to the sea. The strike comes silently and invisibly. "It operates in an invisible part of the electromagnetic spectrum so you don't see the beam, it doesn't make any sound, it's completely silent and it's incredibly effective at what it does," said Hughes.
It is remarkably precise, which the Navy says could limit collateral damage in wartime. "I can aim that at any particular spot on a target, and disable and destroy as necessary," said Wells. "It reduces collateral damage -- I no longer have to worry about rounds that may go beyond the target and potentially hurt or damage things that I don't want to hurt or damage." All the $40 million system needs to operate is a supply of electricity, which is derived from its own small generator, and has a crew of three. No multi-million-dollar missile, no ammunition at all. The cost per use? "It's about a dollar a shot," said Hughes.

Today, the laser is intended primarily to disable or destroy aircraft and small boats. "It's designed with the intent of being able to counter airborne and surface-based threats," said Hughes. "And it's been able to prove itself over the last three years as being incredibly effective at that." However, the Navy is developing more powerful, second-generation systems which would bring more significant targets into its crosshairs: missiles. Those missions remain classified. However, the commander and crew are very much aware of the potential capabilities. When we asked Wells if the current LaWS could shoot down a missile, he said simply "maybe" and smiled.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Visiting the place where King Karl XII ended his life

The idea of going to Halden and Fredriksten has never left me since I started to make a careful study of  the Great Northern war and the Battle of Poltava. This year with the help of my Swedish and Norwegian friends this dream has come true. I got two unique Norwegian guides: Magne Rannestad and Stig Østling. These two men ave turned my trip into something unforgettable.The fortress of Fredriksten  was constructed  in the 17th century when the fortress at was ceded to Sweden in accordance with the Treaty of Roskilde (1658). The fortress was named after King Fredrik III of Denmark and Norway. There were six attempts taken by Sweden from 1658 till 1814 to take the fortress but the fortress withstanded bravely all sieges. On the evening of 30 November 1718, a bullet killed Karl XII while he inspected the siedge work near the fortress. Nowaday the fortress of Fredriksten is well cared for and attracts tourists from many countries. Magne Rannestad as a head of the Society of the friends of the foretress works hard to maintain this historical monument in a good shape. I was impressed with a very interesting museum of the fortress of Fredriksten showing its history since 17th century till the present day. The tourism infrastructure created since the fortress has stopped to be a military object came as a surprise to me. 


Oleg Bezverkhnii and Magne Rannestad near the monument on the place where Karl XII was killed in 1718.
Stig Østling organized for me a guided tour around downtown of Halden that was known as Fredrikshald between 1665 and 1928 and  gave me an opportunity to see monuments dedicated to Norwegian campaign of the King Karl XII of 1716 and 1718. Some of these monuments were very difficult to be found in the wild depth of Sweden and Norway.


Stig Østling near the monument erected in 1922 at the end of Galärvägen, where Swedish army moved twelve galleys over land from Skagerrak at Strömstad to Idefjorden. The aim of this operation was to reinforce the Swedish army prior to an attack to the fortress of Fredriksten in 1718.
Stig Østling has been to Poltava a few times and he can speak Russian a bit. In 2016 he visited a place where the King Karl XII crossed Dniper River in 1709 after the Battle of Poltava.
Stig Østling with the flag of Halden inside the reconstructed redoubt on the Poltava Battle field.
From time to time the fortress of Fredriksten  hosts the summer theater where the audience can enjoy classic and rock music. 
Summer theatre in the fortress of Fredriksten.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Trump, Putin reach deal on Syria ceasefire, talk Ukraine, cybersecurity, terrorism - media

July 7, 2017 (UNIAN) The U.S. and Russia have reached agreement on a ceasefire in southwest Syria, AP sources said as U.S. President Donald Trump held his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while CNN reported that the two leaders also discussed Ukraine, cybersecurity and terrorism.
The Syria ceasefire deal marks a new level of involvement for the U.S. in trying to resolve the Syrian crisis. Although details of the agreement were not immediately available, the cease-fire is set to take effect Sunday at noon Damascus time, said the officials, who weren't authorized to discuss the ceasefire publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, Associated Press reports.

At the same time, CNN with the reference to Russia's state-owned news organization Sputnik quoted Vladimir Putin as saying that he "had a very lengthy conversation with the President of the United States, there were a lot of issues such as Ukraine, Syria, other problems, some bilateral issues."

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

June 20, 2016 (USA TODAY) The Trump administration greeted his Ukrainian counterpart at the White House with the announcement of a new set of sanctions on Russia – though Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko took the opportunity to warn Trump against future dealings with Moscow. In brief comments to reporters about his meeting with President Petro Poroshenko, Trump said the leaders had "some very, very good discussions" and that Ukraine is "a place that we've all been very much involved in." As Poroshenko arrived at the White House, the Treasury Department said it is targeting 38 individuals and entities "involved in the ongoing conflict" with Ukraine over the Russian occupation of Crimea. Russia "annexed" the region of Ukraine in 2014, and has backed pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine; the Treasury sanctions list includes Ukrainian separatists and officials of the Russia government.
Poroshenko, who called the White House visit "a great pleasure," said earlier that discussing Russia's president Vladimir Putin would be part of his agenda with Trump. “It is very important that my meeting, as Ukrainian President, in the White House will take place earlier than the meeting of Putin,” Poroshenko said in a statement, adding that his goal would be to "provide information and leave no chance for injustice."
Amid waves of tensions between the United States and Russia – including an investigation into Moscow's attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign – there is currently no personal meeting scheduled between Trump and Putin, though the two leaders may meet at the upcoming Group of 20 summit in Germany in early July.
Poroshenko, who had a pre-scheduled meeting with Vice President Pence, had a "drop-in" visit with Trump and national security adviser H.R. McMaster. The talks took place amid investigations by congressional committees and a special counsel into any links between Trump campaign associates and Russians who sought to interfere in the 2016 elections by hacking Democratic Party officials.
During the campaign and in the months since Trump's inauguration, critics have accused the president of being too supportive of Putin, and expressed concern that he might seek to unwind existing sanctions on Russia. The Senate has passed a bill that would hit Russia with more sanctions over its election activities, and limit Trump's ability to undo any penalties on Putin's government requiring a congressional review of any such action. For its part, the Treasury Department said its actions Tuesday underscore the U.S. commitment to "maintain the strength of existing sanctions" as a step to resolve the Ukraine crisis – and the measures related to Crimea will not be lifted until Russia ends its occupation of the peninsula.
These designations will maintain pressure on Russia to work toward a diplomatic solution,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “This administration is committed to a diplomatic process that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty, and there should be no sanctions relief until Russia meets its obligations under the Minsk agreements."
Later Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer also affirmed the U.S. wants Russia out of eastern Ukraine. "That's part of the reason that there are sanctions," he said. The United States and Russia are also at odds over the Syrian civil war.
Over the weekend, a U.S. fighter jet downed a Syrian warplane for the first time, an act Russia condemned as a "flagrant violation of international law." Russia also said it would treat U.S.-led coalition aircraft as targets if they drift into certain parts of Syrian airspace.

Back at the White House, Poroshenko thanked the United States for its support in its struggle with Russia, and said that "I'm absolutely confident that our effective coordination will bring the peace to our nation, to our land, and can support our territorial integrity and sovereignty." Trump was less specific in his own remarks about Ukraine and the conflict there, describing the country only as “a place that we’ve all been very much involved in” and “you’ve been seeing it and everybody has been reading about it.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ukraine hails visa-free travel to European Union

June 13, 2017 (BBC News Europe) President Petro Poroshenko hailed the "fall of the paper curtain" at a gathering in the capital Kiev. He also opened a symbolic visa-free door to Europe, and met Slovak President Andrej Kiska, at the Uzhgorod border checkpoint. However, Ukrainians who want to work in the EU still need to obtain a working visa. Travellers departing from Kiev's international airport were treated to music and dance.
But in Russia, whose relations with Ukraine are tense, TV news downplayed the significance of the concession - and pushed the idea that the change would result in an influx of illegal labour migrants from Ukraine, and that the EU might eventually suspend the deal.
The visa-free scheme allows Ukrainians with a biometric passport to enter the Schengen area - including some non-EU areas such as Switzerland and Iceland, but not the UK or Ireland - without a visa for up to 90 days.


President Poroshenko opened a symbolic visa-free door to Europe and met Slovak President Andrej Kiska

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dutch parliament ratifies Ukraine-EU Association Agreement

June 3, 2017 (Interfax) The upper chamber of the Parliament of the Netherlands (Senate) has supported the ratification of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union. The Dutch parliamentarians voted to ratify this document at a meeting on May 30.
"The Senate of the Netherlands has ratified the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. We are grateful to the Dutch parliamentarians for a wise and far-sighted decision that will benefit both countries and strengthen Europe," the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration of Ukraine said on its official Facebook page on Tuesday.

As reported, the Lower House of the Parliament of the Netherlands (House of Representatives) on February 23 officially confirmed the ratification of the Association Agreement with Ukraine. To complete the ratification process, the Agreement should still be ratified by the government of the Netherlands.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

BBC team on the front line of the Ukraine conflict

May 27, 2017 (BBC Europe) Ukraine says 10 of its soldiers have been killed and 27 wounded in the east of the country in the past week. Diplomatic progress towards a political solution remains slow, weeks before a deadline when Europe must decide whether or not to maintain sanctions against Russia. BBC correspondent Tom Burridge, along with producer Daryna Mayer and cameraman Alex Shpigunov, travelled with the Ukrainian military to one of the most volatile parts of the front line, on the edge of the town of Avdiivka.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Ukraine marks Vyshyvanka Day on May 18 (Video)

May 18, 2017 (UNIAN) On May 18, Ukraine is marking Vyshyvanka Day, which is dedicated to the embroidered shirt – part of the Ukrainian national costume. The International Day of Vyshyvanka is now observed every year on the third Thursday in May. It is designed to popularize Ukrainian culture and traditions. The idea of celebrating this day originated in 2006 when several students and teachers from Ukraine's Chernivtsi National University put on embroidered shirts as a flash mob effort. And some years later, this tradition became international. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko greeted the Ukrainian nation on Vyshyvanka Day. "Let our national clothes inspire us to new victories! My congratulations to all on Vyshyvanka Day!" he wrote on Facebook.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Poroshenko insists on UN peacekeepers deployment in Donbas

May 15, 2017 (UNIAN) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko insists on the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in occupied Donbas, according to an UNIAN correspondent. "I would very much like that my idea of introducing peacekeepers be supported. The militants were frightened when they saw that the idea of peacekeepers began to find support. Therefore, they organized an OSCE car blast, resulting in an American observer, a paramedic, died," Poroshenko said at a press conference in Kyiv on Sunday. 
As UNIAN reported, on April 23, the vehicle of the OSCE SMM patrol blew up on a mine near the village of Pryshyb, controlled by "LPR" militants. An unarmed American monitor was killed in a blast, while another two monitors – from Germany and the Czech Republic – were injured. Ukrainian President has repeatedly stressed the need to deploy an OSCE armed police mission in the east of Ukraine an order to ensure security. However, the formation of such a mission requires the consent of all 57 OSCE participating countries.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Senators urge Trump to meet with Ukraine leaders before Putin

May 8, 2017 (washingtonexaminer.com) Sen. John McCain and five other senators are urging President Trump to hold off on meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin until he has first met with Ukrainian leaders. The senators, who include Republican and Democratic members of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, wrote to the president after he and Putin reportedly discussed a first face-to-face meeting in July on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany. Russia has incurred international condemnation and stoked widespread concerns among the United States' European allies for fueling a conflict in eastern Ukraine against the government of President Petro Poroshenko.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is still formulating its approach to Russian aggression and long-time commitments such as the NATO alliance as questions continue to swirl over its relationship with Moscow, which the U.S. intelligence community says meddled in the presidential election last year. "Meeting with democratically elected representatives from Ukraine would send a strong signal that the United States continues to prioritize our relationship with longstanding allies, and will continue our commitments to support Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing aggression," they wrote in the May 4 letter. Discussions of the possible meeting between Trump and Putin were reported by the Kremlin, but not included in a readout of the phone call released by the White House.

McCain and fellow Republicans James Inhofe and Rob Portman, along with Democrats Bob Menendez, Jeanne Shaheen and Bob Casey, praised the president for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's decision to attend a NATO foreign ministers meeting in March, following reports he would not go. "Many of our allies in Europe are anxiously awaiting policy direction from your administration about our commitments to NATO and other institutions that preserve the international order that has served as the framework for international stability and security since the end of the Second World War," the senators wrote.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Think about what war is

On these May days we remember all who fought in World War II. Many of them including my grandfather Nikolai Bezverkhnii never returned home. This post is dedicated to him. Just think; on the eve of the war he worked as a teacher in Poltava Teachers' Training Institute and after completing an accelerated tank commander courses (from which he was promoted Lieutenant) he was sent to the front line. His T-34 tank was shot up on January 18, 1943. His last letter to folks was dated after January 16, 1943. It was pretty brief. He wrote:
My dear folks, I am safe and sound. Now I am on the right bank of Donets River, on the front line. We're liberating our villages in a hot fights. If you wank to know when I am, just listen to the the latest news. Today we will go on 50 km. to the rear. Kiss you. Yours, Nikolai.


Look at these two pictures of my grandfather that were taken in 1939 and 1942 and you’ll see clearly what war is.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Kyiv court allows Yanukovych to stand high treason trial by means of videoconference, recesses until May 18

May 4, 2017 (Interfax) - Kyiv's Obolonskyi District Court judge Vladislav Devyatko has allowed the defense of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to partake in the trial by means of videoconference. "The judges put their heads together and decided to partially grant the defense's request... for enabling Yanukovych's involvement in the proceeding by means of videoconference," Devyatko said at a court hearing on Thursday. The judge said that Yanukovych was summoned to the preparatory hearing consistent with norms of the law. Yet, considering Article 6 of the Human Rights Convention and the European Court of Human Rights's practice, the court deemed it necessary to allow the defense to engage the defendant in the preparatory hearing by videoconferencing means.
"The court made the decision and partially granted the defense's request. The defense will have an opportunity to arrange a videoconference between defendant Yanukovych and Kyiv's Obolonskyi District Court. The decision was made to ensure the right of the sides, including the defendant, to attend the court hearing, as that is required by the European Court of Human Rights," the judge said. Devyatko then announced that the court, holding the preliminary hearing on Yanukovych's trial for high treason, would recess until May 18.
Yanukovych's lawyer Vitali Serdyuk told reporters after the hearing that the videoconference should be arranged by means of international legal assistance mechanisms. "I believe that the court, which has made this decision, should refer to relevant Russian agencies for its fulfillment; they should provide a videoconferencing channel, like we had with Kyiv's Svyatoshynskyi District Court," the lawyer said. Yanukovych cannot appear in the courtroom, as he is being prosecuted for political reasons and the Ukrainian authorities are unable to guarantee his security, he said.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

April, 26 marks the 31st anniversary of the largest man-made catastrophe in history

April 26, 2017 (112UA) A handful of Kyiv residents came to pay tribute to those who deceased during the Chornobyl nuclear disaster, which occurred on April 26, 1986. Among the present were liquidators of the disaster and their relatives. At 1.23 a.m., the exact time when the explosion on the 4th unit of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant thundered, the church bell rang 31 times, as in 31 years since the catastrophe took place. 
Chernobyl's official photographer Anatoly Rasskazov took this photograph in the first hours after the deadly explosion. A highly radioactive vapour trail is seen coming from the heart of the destroyed reactor. Rasskazov dot 300 Roentgen (fatal is 500 Roentgen) while taking photos of the plant. He died of cancer in 2010.

People laid flowers to the memorial of the liquidators of the Chornobyl disaster. Leaders of Ukraine and Belarus will jointly participate in the events dedicated to the anniversary of the tragedy. On April, 26, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Russians and several other nations remember those who gave their lives due to the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. It is known and widely referred to as the largest man-made catastrophe in the entire history. The tragedy took place at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant, near Prypiat’ city, Kyiv region on April 26, 1986.

The nearby town of Priryat is still abandoned throgh, due to high level of radiation. Some parts of Chernobyl will not be radiation-free for at least 24000 years because of substances such as Plutonium 139.

See video at

Friday, April 14, 2017

How well you know Ukrainian traditions of Easter celebration?

April 14, 2017 (KyivPost) This year the Orthodox Christians, who are the majority in Ukraine, celebrate Easter on the same day with Protestants and Catholics. Monday, April 17 is a public holiday. The Easter traditions are quite different in Ukraine and in the West. This quiz will help determine how well one knows Ukrainian traditions of celebration. When done, don’t forget to share the results and challenge others to take the quiz.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Tillerson meets Putin - and leaves without even a snapshot to show for it: Kremlin snubs U.S. as relations freeze

April 13, 2017 (Dailymail) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is leaving Moscow empty-handed following two hours of frosty talks with Vladimir Putin - without even a snapshot with the Russian president to show for it. Instead he got a public lecture on America's past actions in the Middle East from Putin's foreign minister, and reminded of Sean Spicer's Hitler gaffe by a Russian reporter. And he could not even get agreement that Bashar al-Assad's used chemical weapons, with the Kremlin insisting that the Syrian dictator did not gas his own people and the Trump official asserting that he did.

FROSTY START: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomes US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson before their meeting in Moscow
At a joint news conference after the meeting Putin's foreign minister demanded evidence of the assault - and of Russian's meddling in the American election - as he reminded the world of the United States' rocky record with regime changes, using Iraq and Libya as examples. The deepening split between the Trump administration and the government the Republican politician had been accused of colluding with to win his election was on full display Wednesday as the diplomats made a host of conflicting claims about current affairs. Tillerson frankly told reporters that US-Russia relations were at a 'low point' while he issued a Cold War-style warning that the nuclear powers could not have have a bitter relationship.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4405926/Tillerson-DOES-meet-Vladimir-Putin.html#ixzz4e7R07RTO

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tank collector shocked to find £2million gold bullion hidden in the fuel compartment of his £30,000 vehicle

April 9, 2017 (The Sun) Nick Mead, 55, discovered the five gold bars in the Russian T54/69 while restoring it to add to his collection of 150 military vehicles. He and mechanic Todd Chamberlain were filming themselves prising open the diesel tank in case they found munitions and needed to show it to bomb disposal crews. Instead, they pulled out the bars, weighing up to 12lb - 5kg - apiece. Todd, 50, said a quick calculation suggested they were worth in excess of £2million. He added: “We didn’t know what to do. You can’t exactly take five gold bullion bars down to Cash Converters without questions being asked, so we called the police.” Nick runs Tanks-a-Lot, giving petrolheads the chance to drive any of his tanks on his farm in Helmdon, Northants. He traded in an Army lorry and an Abbot self-propelled gun for the T54/69 in a deal worth about £30,000 after seeing it advertised on eBay. Todd and Nick had already found machine gun ammunition while stripping down the tank and were worried they would find guns. The tank restorers believe the gold was looted by Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait during the Gulf War.

Nick Mead, left was shocked to discover a gold bullion worth £2million in the fuel tank of a tank he was restoring 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

European Parliament approves Ukraine visa waiver

April 6, 2017 (European Parliament News) Ukrainian citizens will be exempted from EU short-stay visa requirements, after Parliament endorsed an informal deal with the Council on Thursday. Under the new law, Ukrainians who hold a biometric passport will be able to enter the EU without a visa for 90 days in any 180-day period, for tourism, to visit relatives or friends, or for business purposes, but not to work.

The exemption applies to all EU countries, except Ireland and the UK, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. “Ukraine has achieved all the benchmarks, so the visa requirement should be lifted”, noted rapporteur for the proposal Mariya Gabriel (EPP, BG), adding that the visa waiver will be “another very strong message that Ukraine is a key partner for the European Union in the Eastern Partnership”. The legislation, approved by 521 votes to 75 with 36 abstentions, still needs to be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers. It is likely to enter into force in June, 20 days after it is published in the EU Official Journal.

Monday, April 3, 2017

St Petersburg explosion: 10 killed and dozens injured in metro blast

April 3, 2017 (Thegardian) At least 10 people have been killed after a suspected bomb detonated on a metro train in St Petersburg. The blast occurred at the Sennaya Ploshchad station, in the centre of Russia’s second city, at about 2.30pm (11.30am GMT), reportedly as the train was pulling out of the station. Andrei Kibitov, spokesman for the St Petersburg governor, told Russian television that 10 people had been killed and 50 injured. Hours later a second device at another metro station was found and made safe, Russia’s national anti-terrorist committee said in a statement.

The news agency Interfax quoted law enforcement sources claiming the blast was caused by explosive material placed in the carriage. Photographs from the scene showed a metro train in the station with one set of doors blown out, and a number of people on the ground with injuries. Eyewitnesses said people had to exit the carriage through the windows as the doors did not work. Hundreds of people waited outside the station entrance at street level, along with fire engines and police vehicles. The whole of the city’s metro system was closed in the aftermath of the blast, and a number of streets at ground level were also shut off, as medical helicopters landed at the scene to evacuate the injured. Russian president Vladimir Putin is in St Petersburg, where he spoke at a forum earlier in the day. About an hour after the blast, Putin expressed his condolences to families of the victims before a meeting with the Belarus president, Alexander Lukashenko. He said it was “too early to say” what caused the blast but that it could be “criminal or terrorist”. Putin said he had already spoken with the director of the FSB security services and other law enforcement agencies.

An injured person is helped by emergency services outside the metro station. Photograph: Reuters
The British foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, said he was horrified by news of the explosion. “My sympathies are with the victims and their families,” he tweeted. For many years, Russia suffered frequent terror attacks from Islamist groups based in the North Caucasus, including blasts on the Moscow metro in 2010. However, since a suicide bomber struck at Domodedovo airport in January 2011, attacks have largely been confined to the North Caucasus itself. 

Since Russia entered the war in Syria, a number of Islamic State propaganda outlets have said the country would be a target. However, there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion.
Video is available at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/03/st-petersburg-metro-rocked-by-explosion-sennaya-ploshchad-station

Friday, March 31, 2017

An-132D: First aircraft without Russian components

March 31, 2017 The new multipurpose aircraft of Ukrainian production was designed through cooperation with world’s leading aviation concerns. Components for the new aircraft were supplied from Canada, USA, Great Britain and Germany, according to State ConcernUkroboronprom. An-132D was designed by Antonov State Company, which is part of Ukroboronprom, and was made without any components from Russian Federation.
The plane of such scale was designed in a record term — 1.5 years, which is considered almost impossible in the modern aviation. The production program of the aircraft was launched in 2015, the plane flew for the first time on March 31. Primarily, the program to create An-132D was made specifically for the organizations from Saudi Arabia and was the first stage of production of next generation An-132.
Airplane speed can reach 500 km per hour, maximum flight height — 9 thousand meters, carrying capacity — up to 9.2 tons. It is planned to produce the whole line of different planes on the basis of An-132. It is noteworthy that the new An-132D is the first aircraft which was created in the framework of new strategy to reform Defense sector of Ukraine.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Polish consulate in Ukraine attacked with grenade launcher

March 29, 2017 (UNIAN) Unidentified assailants attacked the Polish consulate in Lutsk, in western Ukraine on Wednesday, Radio Poland reported. “It was probably a grenade launcher,” Polish Consul Krzysztof Sawicki told local media. “The projectile hit the top floor, leaving a hole of about 70 centimeters.” No one was injured in the attack. The Polish foreign ministry summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to Poland, Andrii Deshchytsia, in response.


We expect and demand that the security of our institutions be improved across Ukraine,” a spokesman for the Polish foreign ministry said in a statement. He called on Ukrainian authorities to “explain the circumstances of the incident,” and to “identify and arrest the perpetrators.” Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko condemned the attack on Twitter, saying he had “urgently” ordered authorities to “take all reasonable measures to investigate this incident and the perpetrators.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Antonov airlines increases transportation of goods by 23% in 2016

March 29, 2017  (Interfax-Ukraine) Antonov Airlines (Kyiv), part of state enterprise Antonov, one of the leading global operators of heavy An-124-100 Ruslan aircraft with a cargo carrying capacity of 150 tonnes, in 2016 increased cargo transportation by 22.8% compared to 2015, to 21,463 tonnes, the Antonov press service has told Interfax-Ukraine. According to the press service, the number of flights carried out by the company in 2016 increased by 25.1%, to 448 flights, the time of flights in 2016 amounted to more than 4,600 hours.

The Antonov Airlines fleet now has seven An-124-100 Ruslan planes with a cargo capacity of 150 tonnes, an An-225 Mriya super transport aircraft with a capacity of 250 tonnes, a multi-purpose An-74T (10 tonnes) aircraft, An-22 Antei (60 tonnes), and An-26 (5.5 tonnes) aircraft. Since 2006, Antonov Airlines has been implementing a contract on strategic transportation within the NATO SALIS (Strategic Airlift Interim Solution) program in the interests of 18 alliance countries and the EU. In December 2014 the contract with Russia’s airline Volga-Dnepr was extended until the end of 2016. In autumn 2016 the Antonov Airlines management announced the plan to continue cooperation with NATO on the SALIS program after the completion of a joint contract with the Russian company. Within the framework of the new format of partnership, Leipzig remains the basic site of Ukrainian Ruslan aircraft.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Ukraine's leader calls killing of Putin critic a Russian terror act

March 23, 2017 (CNN) A former Russian lawmaker and Kremlin critic who fled to Ukraine last year was shot dead Thursday in Kiev -- a killing that Ukraine's President called a "Russian state terrorist act." Denis Voronenkov, who'd been a Communist member of Russia's lower legislative house before he left, was fatally shot outside a hotel in broad daylight, officials said. Voronenkov becomes the latest in a string of Russian critics of President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government who were killed or injured in mysterious circumstances. The suspect in his death died in the hospital after a shootout with Voronenkov's bodyguard.

A Ukrainian police officer seizes a gun at the scene where Voronenkov was shot dead on Thursday.
Denis Voronenkov, a former Communist legislator in Russia's lower legislative house, was shot dead in Kiev on Thursday, Ukrainian authorities say. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called Thursday's killing a "Russian state terrorist act" on Twitter, and described Voronenkov as "one of the key witnesses of the Russian aggression against Ukraine" -- referring to Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and a subsequent war with pro-Russian rebels. Poroshenko's accusation drew a sharp rebuke from Moscow. Any claims that Russia is connected to the killing are "absurd," Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, according to Russian state-run TASS news agency. Voronenkov had denounced Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and said he was cooperating with Ukrainian prosecutors' treason case against former President Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian politician who fled Ukraine after deadly 2014 protests.

Ukraine munitions blasts prompt mass evacuations

March 24, 2017 (BBC Europe) Some 20,000 people are being evacuated after a series of explosions at a massive arms depot in eastern Ukraine described by officials as sabotage. The base in Balakliya, near Kharkiv, is around 100km (60 miles) from fighting against Russian-backed separatists. The dump is used to store thousands of tonnes of ammunition including missiles and artillery weapons. Rescue teams are overseeing a huge evacuation effort for people living in the city and nearby villages. The total area of the dump spans more than 350 hectares, the military says. Everyone within a 10km (6 miles) radius of the dump is being evacuated, the Interfax news agency quoted an aide to President Petro Poroshenko as saying. Munitions from the depot are used to supply military units in the conflict zone in nearby Luhansk and Donetsk, reports say.

A huge cloud of smoke could be seen billowing above the ammunition depot of the Ukrainian armed forces on Thursday

Read the full article and see the video at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39363416

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ukraine says saboteurs blow up arms warehouse in east



March 23, 2017 (Reuters) The Ukrainian military said unknown saboteurs blew up a warehouse storing tank ammunition at a military base in the east of the country early on Thursday, but nobody was hurt. The base, which contained about 138,000 tonnes of ammunition, is located in the city of Balakleya about 100 km (60 miles) from the frontline of Ukraine's war against Russian-backed separatists. 
Rescue teams were evacuating nearby villages in the eastern Kharkiv region, the military said. "According to preliminary data ... as a result of sabotage, last night at 2.46 AM (0046 GMT), fire and explosions caused the detonation of ammunition at several sites storing rockets and artillery weapons," Ukraine's chief military prosecutor Anatoly Matios wrote on Facebook. 
Military spokesman Oleksander Motuzyanyk said security around other bases was being beefed up. Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman was due to fly to the area later on Thursday. Saboteurs previously tried to destroy the same base using drones in 2015, another military spokesman, Yuzef Venskovich, told the 112 TV channel. More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict between Ukraine and the separatist rebels since 2014.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Remains of World War II pilot returned after seven decades

March 16, 2017 (Tampa Bay Times) Seven decades after he was shot down during World War II, Army Air Forces 2nd Lt. John Donald Mumford came home Thursday night. A flag-draped coffin holding his remains was carried out of the cargo hold of Southwest Airlines Flight 4599 from Chicago shortly after 8 p.m. Standing on the tarmac on the chilly March night at Tampa International Airport, Mumford's family watched the dignified transfer ceremony.
Ronald Woolums, an Air Force veteran, saluted. His brother, Lynn Woolums, held his right hand over his heart. Mumford was their uncle. "I just realized we have a family war hero," said Lynn Woolums of St. Petersburg. "He paid the ultimate price for our freedom." "This is very impressive," Ronald Woolums, also of St. Petersburg said of the ceremony. "He is finally home." Mumford was born in upstate New York and eventually moved with his family to 3490 Queensboro Lane in St. Petersburg. The Woolums brothers know very little else about their uncle, who, according to military records, grew to be nearly 6 feet tall and 150 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes. So they were both amazed and grateful to read the details compiled by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency in an 80-page, plastic-bound report about the incident and the search for his remains.
Mumford enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and went on to fly a P-51 Mustang fighter. On the morning of June 6, 1944, as the allies were launching the invasion of Normandy, Mumford, 22, was making what turned out to be his final flight. It was to escort B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers in an attack on a German airfield. The mission was successful, destroying buildings, ramps and aircraft. But afterward, he was pounced on by German fighters and shot down over what is now Ukraine.
For years, because of fighting during World War II, followed by the tensions of the Cold War, there wasn't much that could be done. But in 2007, the DPAA's predecessor organization got some new information about Mumford from the Ukrainian government. Over the years, teams visited the crash site, interviewing witnesses and examining the location where Mumford crashed.

Based on the witness statements and aircraft wreckage, the team recommended that the Defense Department excavate the site to search for Mumford's remains. From July 16 through Aug. 5, 2016, a combined team from the DPAA and the Ukraine Armed Forces went looking. Investigators used standard archaeological techniques and eventually found a partial, broken skeleton that included parts of the cranium, ribs, vertebrae and leg and arm bones. The remains were sent back to the DPAA Laboratory at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, where they were eventually identified as Mumford's. It was those remains that were returned to Tampa on Thursday. A funeral service for Mumford will be held at 10:45 a.m. March 23 at Anderson-McQueen Funeral Home, 7820 38th Ave. N in St. Petersburg. Interment of his cremains will follow at the Bay Pines National Cemetery.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Heavy fighting with Grad, tanks near Ukraine's Mariupol



March 20, 2017 (UNIAN) Ukrainian civil volunteers report Russia's hybrid military forces are attacking Ukrainian positions near the Ukrainian-controlled strategic port city of Mariupol with all available weapons on Monday. "According to preliminary reports, an enemy fortified position has been completely destroyed together with the terrorists. The enemy has been intensifying the shelling and is already firing on its former positions. Enemy main battle tanks are also engaged in the fighting," the People's Project volunteers' center reported on Facebook on Monday, March 20.
Later, the center shared an update, saying that the hybrid troops are using Grad multiple rocket systems, tanks, banned 122mm and 152mm artillery systems and mortars. "At least nine Ukrainian troops have been wounded in action. Information about the casualties is being verified," the center wrote. In turn, volunteers from the Povernys Zhyvym [Back and Alive] project report that the fighting in the Mariupol sector goes on: the enemy continues to intensively shell the advanced positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), using large-caliber mortars and cannon artillery systems. 
"There is confirmation that around 12:00 Kyiv time, the terrorists fired Grad MLR systems," the volunteers said, adding that, according to unconfirmed information, there were wounded among the AFU fighters.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Ukrainian language set for media boost in new law

March 17, 2017 (BBC Europe) A new law in Ukraine requires at least 75% of national TV broadcasts to be in the Ukrainian language. It is a very sensitive issue for the country's many Russian speakers, with the conflict in eastern Ukraine partly about ethnic Russians' language rights. The language quota for local TV and radio stations has been set at 50%. The law is still going through parliament and requires presidential approval. President Petro Poroshenko has called for more Ukrainian language use on TV.
Ukrainian sociological research last year found Russian to be the main language of Ukrainian TV, press, the services sector and Ukrainian websites. The language issue is at the heart of the Ukraine conflict. Even though there had been little tension between Ukrainian and Russian speakers before hostilities erupted, the Kremlin said Russians in Ukraine faced "genocide" and deserved protection, by military means if necessary. Kiev, on the other hand, has been saying that it is the Ukrainian language that needs to be protected following decades of Soviet rule. Russian-language programming on TV has to have Ukrainian subtitles - even though it would be hard to find anyone in Ukraine who did not understand Russian. Any TV programmes that are seen as Russian propaganda are banned outright.

Kiev, May 2014: The annual Vyshyvanka march is a patriotic occasion for Ukrainians
The latest move has divided opinion in Ukraine. Critics say it will do nothing to win the hearts and minds of Russian speakers. "This law will violate the rights of millions of Ukrainian citizens whose mother tongue is Russian," said a statement by Inter, Ukraine's most popular TV channel which mostly broadcasts in Russian. But Oleksandr Tkachenko, the head of another popular Ukrainian television channel - One Plus One - supported the new law, calling it "a historic event". The full article is available at

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Rada ratifies FTA agreement between Ukraine and Canada

March 15, 2017 (Interfax) The Verkhovna Rada has ratified the free trade area agreement (FTA) between Ukraine and Canada. Some 272 people's deputies voted for this decision on March 14. Verkhovna Rada Speaker Andriy Parubiy after voting said he would urgently sign the document. The agreement was signed in Kyiv on July 11, 2016. According to an explanatory note to the document, the ratification of the agreement will promote the development of bilateral trade and economic relations between Ukraine and Canada, will allow Ukrainian producers to benefit from customs-free access to the Canadian market, will open new markets for Ukrainian enterprises. 

First Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv said in parliament that the results of the analysis conducted by research institutes show that the annulment of imports duties by Canada would help Ukrainian manufacturers of food, light, chemical, petrochemical and engineering industries to have the best advantages on the Canadian markets. On the other hand, the agreement would open opportunities for imports of raw materials and advanced technologies, which would prompt Ukraine's economic growth. Full article is available at:

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Ukraine-Russia court battle over "terrorism" claims

March 8, 2017 (Euronews) In a case that started on Monday, it accuses Russia of violating UN anti-terrorism and anti-discrimination conventions. Ukraine says separatist forces, backed by Russia, have carried out terrorist acts including the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in 2014, which killed 298 passengers and crew. It also accuses Russia of illegally annexing Crimea.
“Today I stand before the World Court to request protection of the basic human rights of Ukrainian people,” Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal said on the first of four days of hearings. Zerkal requested an immediate court order to stop what she called Russia’s abuses until the judges have heard the case in full. The UN court takes years to hear cases. International Relations Professor Andrea Stavitskiy from the Moscow State University branch in Sevastopol, believes the ruling by the UN’s highest court could be significant. “All the talk about Crimea’s return to Russia being a bad thing hasn’t yet had any legal proof,” he said. “The Hague tribunal can solve that issue, giving the West a sort of ‘legal proof’ of accusations that Russia is an aggressor and Putin is a tyrant.”

The International Court of Justice holds a public hearing in the case Ukraine v. Russian Federation, on March 6, 2017 in the Hague
Despite Ukraine’s claims of Russian racial discrimination, notably against Crimea’s minority ethnic Tatars, some people in the Black Sea peninsula spoke out strongly in favour of Moscow. “I want the world to understand that there wasn’t any annexation,” said Sevastopol resident Lada Litvak. “It was the legitimate will of the Crimean people. We really wanted to return to Russia and we managed to achieve it.” “I think the Hague tribunal should dismiss Ukraine’s claim,” added Aza Azamatova, another resident of Crimea. But Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took to Facebook, making no secret of his feelings on the matter.
Russia has repeatedly denied sending troops or military equipment to eastern Ukraine. It also denies downing MH17. The UN court’s rulings are final and binding. But it has no means of enforcement.