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.
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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

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

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.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Hon är stridspiloten i Ukraina som talar med fienden

Mars 4, 2017 (Dagens Nyheter) Hon kunde ha förblivit en hyllad hjälte i Ukraina. I stället gjorde hon sig obekväm. Nadija Savtjenko är soldaten som är beredd att skaka hand med fienden. DN:s Anna-Lena Laurén har träffat Ukrainas första kvinnliga stridspilot.

Foto: Anders Hansson

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Visa lib for Ukraine to be approved by EU Council May 11, to be enforced from June - media

March 2, 2017 (UNIAN) The final approval of a visa-free regime for citizens of Ukraine should take place at a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council May 11, Europeiska Pravda reports citing independent sources from influential EU member states. Politics 12:30, 02 March 2017 170 REUTERS The schedule has been informally agreed upon between the European institutions and member states, according to Europeiska Pravda. The Committee of Permanent Representatives of  EU member states (COREPER) will formally approve the decision on visa liberalization for Ukraine at a meeting in Brussels on March 2. On February 28, inter-institutional talks between the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament on EU visa liberalization for Ukraine ended successfully. "Visa trialogue for Ukraine has ended successfully. Dutch govt EU ambassadors will approve on 2 march (second round of approval likely in may)," RFE/RL correspondent in Brussels Rikard Jozwiak wrote on Twitter on February 28.

Read more on UNIAN:

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.
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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).

Canadian hockey team takes ice wearing Ukrainian embroidered shirts

January 30, 2017 (Ukrinform) Players of the Dauphin Kings Canadian hockey team from the town of Dauphin, Manitoba, took the ice wearing the form designed to resemble Ukrainian embroidered shirts to play against Virden team in the youth league match. As an Ukrinform correspondent reports, the match was called the "Ukrainian night" and ended with the victory of Dauphin Kings with a score of 3:2.

Photo: Dauphin Kings Facebook page

The town Dauphin, which together with its suburbs is the home to more than 8,000 people, is known for its strong Ukrainian diaspora. More than 41% of the population are of Ukrainian origin. More than a quarter of inhabitants speak Ukrainian.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Royal Navy dispatches destroyer to Black Sea to head-up Nato taskforce protecting Brit troops in Ukraine

January 29, 2017 (The Sun) MS Diamond, a Type 45 destroyer, will sail to Ukraine carrying as many as 60 Royal Marine and Special Boat Service commandos – and equipped with state-of-the-art anti-aircraft rockets.

HMS Diamond pictured leaving Portsmouth's naval dockyard
HMS Diamond, which will carry 3000mph Sea Viper missiles, will lead a Nato task force, as well as help protect 650 troops deployed in Ukraine.The display of strength comes after Theresa May told US politicians both the UK and USA should stand up to Vladimir Putin, the Mail on Sunday reported. It was previously dispatched to Libya to tackle migrant boats in the Mediterranean. The ship is protected by a modern Gatling gun called 'Phalanx' - which fires 20mm shells at 3,000 rounds a minute - while its amphibious warfare troops will be transported by Lynx Mk8 helicopter. Lord West, a former Royal Navy head, told the Mail on Sunday: "This is an operation with a very serious purpose. HMS Diamond can really look after herself and President Putin is a man who respects hard military power."
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon added: "The UK is sending a clear message that we are committed to defending democracy across the world and support Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity." HMS Diamond's arrival will reportedly coincide with the deployment of British troops to Estonia and Poland, while the RAF also sends Typhoon jets to Romania.
HMS Diamond's Weapons and Equipment:
  • Sophisticated multi-function Sampson radar
  • Phalanx Gatling gun, firing 20mm shells at 3,000 rounds per minute
  • 3000mph Sea Viper anti-air missile
  • 4.5 inch MK8 main gun, firing up to 24 high explosive shells, weighing over 40kg, per minute
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