Monthly Archives: February 2014

Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA AT WAR: “Russia has invaded Ukraine,” Acting President Turchynov informs countrymen, as total of 13 Russian military planes land at air base near Simferopol, disgorge 2,000 troops; Ukraine’s interim government denies Russian deployment in Crimea part of bilateral agreement; Kremlin monitors US response as Russian spy ship Viktor Leonov makes “surprise” port of call in Havana; Russian neo-fascist Zhirinovsky shows up at Sevastopol city hall, rallies ethnic Russians

Under the guise of military exercises, Russia has brought troops into the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. And not only have they seized the parliament of the Crimea, the Council of Ministers of the Crimea, they are trying to take civilian buildings under control, communications, and trying to block places where Ukrainian soldiers are based.

They are provoking us to military conflict. According to information from our intelligence, they are working out scenarios that are completely analogous to Abkhazia, when after provoking a conflict, they began annexation of territory.
– Alexander Turchynov, Ukraine’s Acting President, televised address, February 28, 2014

Fasten your seatbelts! This will be a very bumpy ride. Praying for Ukraine’s survival. Ball’s in your court, NATO.

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Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA AT WAR: Kremlin still silent as Russian Armed Forces execute complete takeover of Crimean Peninsula: Airspace over Ukraine’s autonomous region closed late Feb. 28 after at least five Ilyushin-76 transport planes land at Gvardeyskoye military air strip in Simferopol; gunmen surround main state-run TV network in regional capital; unknown persons capture communication stations responsible for most phone/Internet service in Crimea; Ukraine’s new national security chief: Army will respond with “adequate measures”

The Ukrainian army is ready to respond in the event of direct aggression by  Russian forces. If there are more active actions on the part of the Russian Federation and  its troops, Ukraine’s army and its border troops will of course take adequate  measures.
– Andriy Paruby, Secretary of Ukraine National Security and Defence Council, televised briefing in Kiev

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Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA INCH CLOSER TO WAR: Acting President Turchynov dismisses Ukrainian Armed Forces chief of staff amidst mobilization to repel possible Russian invasion; Yanukovich appointed Admiral Yuriy Ilyin at height of mass protests; no official reason given, but possible loyalty issue in light of ongoing massive military drills in Russia, armed takeover by suspected Russian forces of key sites in Crimea; 80 combat helicopters join snap drill in Russia’s W. Military District

USSR2 File: Deposed Ukraine president in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don, first public appearance since fleeing Kiev on Feb. 22; Yanukovich insists self only legitimate head of state, denies ordering troops to fire on demonstrators, denounces “nationalist, pro-fascist gangster” regime in Kiev, shrugs off pro-Russia coup in Crimea, admits phone call to Putin upon arrival in Russia; Austria, Switzerland investigate Yanukovich, son for “aggravated money laundering”; Russian communists decry “fascist” coup, demolition of Lenin monuments in Ukraine

Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA INCH CLOSER TO WAR: Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service: 30 Russian Marines block maritime detachment (i.e., Ukrainian coast guard base) in Sevastopol; Russian Black Sea Fleet denies 400 Marines blockading Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Belbek airfield near port city; Turkish airliner aborts landing at Simferopol after being informed of facility’s armed seizure; no comment from Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries on Crimean situation

Since yesterday, Russian troops, some masquerading as pro-Russia militiamen, have seized the following sites in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula:

  1. One hundred twenty heavily armed gunmen stormed and occupied regional parliament building in Simferopol, just prior to a vote on regional secession.
  2. Fifty gunmen stormed the civilian airport in Simferopol, but some reports suggest facility is still operating and that some gunmen have departed.
  3. Four hundred armed men, reportedly Russian Marines, have seized the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Belbek airfield in Sevastopol.
  4. Thirty armed men, also reportedly Russian Marines, have blockaded the Ukrainian coast guard base in Sevastopol.

The regional government in Simferopol and the municipal government in Sevastopol no longer recognize the authority of the central government in Kiev.

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Euronews.com feature: Ukraine crisis – how it unfolded (scroll down for timeline)

Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA INCH CLOSER TO WAR: Russia clearly violating terms of 2010 Kharkiv Pact, Acting President Turchynov’s warning: 10 Russian military helicopters violate Ukraine airspace over Crimea; still unclear whether armed men in combat dress holding regional parliament, airports in Sevastopol and Simferopol are Russian soldiers or pro-Russia militiamen; gunmen, military trucks block roads at key points on peninsula; Kiev appeals to UN Security Council (on which Russia sits), Washington, London for help per 1994 pact signed in Budapest, maintains “Armed Forces of Russian Federation” have invaded Crimea

The airport takeovers are an ARMED INVASION and OCCUPATION by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. It is a direct provocation of armed bloodshed in the territory of a sovereign State. It is not the competence of the Ministry of internal affairs. This is the competence of the NATIONAL SECURITY and DEFENSE COUNCIL.
— Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s new Interior Minister, Facebook posting

These are separate groups … commanded by the Kremlin.
— Andriy Paruby, Secretary of Ukraine National Security and Defence Council, televised briefing in Kiev

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Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA INCH CLOSER TO WAR: Fifty gunmen in battle dress, driving unmarked military trucks, seize Simferopol Airport’s domestic flights terminal, in Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea region; Interfax report says gunmen wearing Russian Navy ensigns, but not confirmed by other sources; follows seizure of regional parliament by pro-Russia gunmen; meanwhile Ukrainian Armed Forces mobilize to repel possible full-scale invasion as Russia holds snap military drills in W., Central Military Districts

Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA INCH CLOSER TO WAR: From safety of Russian sanctuary, deposed president Yanukovich countermands mobilization of Ukrainian Armed Forces, denies relinquishing control over military, Security Service; Crimean regional parliament votes to hold secession referendum on May 25, same day as Ukrainian elections; bizarre circumstances attend vote in Simferopol: Pro-Russia gunmen, widely believed to be Berkut riot police dismissed from Kiev force, occupy top floor, relieve MPs of mobile phones upon entrance to building

Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA INCH CLOSER TO WAR: Ukrainian Armed Forces, Interior Ministry troops placed on alert, ordered to counter possible invasion from Russia proper, naval base in Sevastopol; Kiev: Russian military assets straying over border during drills will be construed as ACT OF WAR; Moscow’s acting envoy in Kiev summoned to account for armed, pro-Russia coup in Crimean capital; Ukraine’s interim government demands “urgent talks” with Kremlin; NATO wimps out, alliance’s top commander, USAF Gen. Breedlove: No contingency plans to help Ukraine

I am addressing the Russian Black Sea Fleet command with a demand:  all military servicemen should stay within the boundaries of the  territories stipulated by the agreement. Any movement of military  servicemen with weapons outside this territory will be viewed as  military aggression.
– Alexander Turchynov, Ukraine’s Acting President, statement made in Verkhovna  Rada, February 27, 2014

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USSR2 File: Ukraine’s new PM Yatseniuk: State coffers “empty and robbed,” Yanukovich regime plundered US$70 billion from treasury, moved money to offshore accounts; Switzerland freezes deposed president’s assets, European Parliament calls for inquiry into “massive embezzlement” of Ukrainian assets held in EU; Yanukovich to hold press conference in Russia’s Rostov-on-Don, Feb. 28

Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA ON BRINK OF WAR: Kiev to dispatch “special services” (i.e., SBU) to Simferopol, “intercept activities” of Russian armored column; Ukraine’s flag removed from all administrative buildings in central Sevastopol; Yanukovich, from safety of Kremlin-run sanatorium near Moscow, insists he is still head of state, rails: “The people in south- eastern Ukraine and in Crimea do not accept the power vacuum and complete lawlessness in the country, when the heads of ministries are appointed by the mob.”

Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA ON BRINK OF WAR: Kiev-backed regional PM of Crimea tries to negotiate with gunmen occupying parliament building; occupiers say “not authorized to negotiate or present demands”; column of seven Russian APCs heads for Simferopol from Sevastopol, backtracks; Russia’s Black Sea Fleet unable to comment on armored column, but Foreign Ministry admits to some “lawful” troop movement in Crimea; pro-Russia citizens of Sevastopol peacefully block establishments of Ukrainian Armed Forces, urge officers to disobey orders from Kiev

Breaking News: UKRAINE, RUSSIA ON BRINK OF WAR: Heavily armed gunmen seize regional parliament in Crimean capital, raise Russian flag; Putin sends 90 fighter jets to patrol Ukraine border, mobilizes 150,000 troops under guise of snap drill; Ukraine’s acting president Turchynov warns Moscow: Russian military must stay on Sevastopol base, failure to comply ACT OF WAR; orders army to use “all methods to punish” putschists in Simferopol; interim cabinet appointed in Kiev, faces financial crisis; Russia grants asylum to Yanukovich, who rails against Ukraine “extremists”

I am addressing the Russian Black Sea Fleet command with a demand:  all military servicemen should stay within the boundaries of the  territories stipulated by the agreement. Any movement of military  servicemen with weapons outside this territory will be viewed as  military aggression.
— Alexander Turchynov, Ukraine’s Acting President, statement made in Verkhovna  Rada, February 27, 2014

If you’re a Christian, pray for Mr. Turchynov. In  a country where people of the Baptist faith are a very small minority, God, intriguingly, has raised up a Baptist pastor to lead Ukraine in these dangerous times.

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Red Terror File: Ukraine MP allied with former PM Tymoshenko exposes role of Russia in Maidan Nezalezhnosti bloodshed; Ukraine Ministry of Internal Affairs, Security Service employed expertise of “former” GRU first deputy, put up Russian military intel officer at Kyiv Hotel; Operations Boomerang, Wave entailed MIA’s “Omega Unit” employing sniper tactics to forcibly disperse pro-EU demonstrators on Feb. 20; Putin, Yanukovich spoke by phone night of Feb. 18

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“We were trapped”: Eyewitness to the massacre in Kiev (link)
Video by New York-based Ukraine-born filmmaker “Yana”

USSR2 File: Russian news website: Deposed Ukrainian president secretly arrived in Moscow on Tuesday night, possibly holed up with security detail in Radisson Royal Hotel; Ukraine’s de facto leaders appeal to The Hague, seek international arrest warrant for Yanukovich; journalists comb through piles of documents at Yanukovich’s palatial home, papers reveal plan to unleash army against protesters

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WW4 File: NATO counters Kremlin’s provocative snap military drill adjacent to Ukraine, declares: “Consistent with the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between NATO and Ukraine, NATO Allies will . . . support Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity, democratic development, and the principle of inviolability of frontiers . . .”; Russian troop movements reported across Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula

WW4 File: Ex-KGB dictator Putin orders Western Military District on alert, regional command of Russian Armed Forces borders Ukraine; “snap” drill to last until March 3; Russian army could potentially cut Ukraine in half by thrusting S. from Russia proper, N. from Sevastopol, where 26,000 troops already garrisoned; Russia has 766,000 men under arms, Ukraine 159,000; Putin threatened to nuke Ukraine in 2008

If Russia is to remain a power of any sort to be reckoned with, then it must prevent Ukraine from joining the EU, but especially NATO, since this would place the base for its Black Sea Fleet in a Western-allied country. On February 26, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted as saying that the current maneuvers of Russia’s Western Military District will involve some 150,000 troops, 880 tanks, 90 aircraft and 80 warships. He admitted that some of the drills will take place “near Ukraine’s borders.” The security of Russia’s naval base in Sevastopol, Shoigu added, will be “strengthened.”

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USSR2 File: Ukraine’s acting president Turchynov assumes command over armed forces, disbands 5,000-member Berkut special police force used by predecessor to crush dissent; Russian FM Lavrov urges OSCE to denounce rise of “neo-fascism” in Ukraine, attempts to ban Russian language; pro-Moscow activists raise Russian flag over government buildings in Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Sevastopol, Simferopol

USSR2 File: Ukrainian nationalists, offended by history of Soviet Russian domination, topple at least 100 Lenin statues across country (only 1,400 more to go . . .) ; ethnic Russians in Kharkiv, other Ukrainian cities defend memorials to Bolshevik leader, first Soviet dictator; Communist Party of Ukraine: “Self-defense soldiers” attacked party boss Symonenko’s home; KPU allied with Yanukovich’s Party of Regions

USSR2 File: Tensions soar in Simferopol, capital of Ukraine’s autonomous Crimea region, as thousands of pro- and anti-Moscow demonstrators hold face-to-face rallies; ethnic Russians shout “Russia, Russia!” while Tatars wave Ukraine flag, shout “Crimea is not Russia!”; Kyiv Post: Police checkpoints on all roads leading into Sevastopol, base for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet

WW4 File: MSM partly confirms Moscow Times report: Russian military on the move in Ukrainian city as APC, two trucks full of troops spotted in streets of Sevastopol; Russia required to refrain from such shows of force per 2010 Kharkiv Pact; Russian flag flies in front of city hall, ethnic Russians hold more pro-Moscow rallies, denounce Ukraine’s new leaders as “bandits,” “fascists”

WW4 File: Pro-Moscow coup possibly underway in Crimea as Russian lawmakers arrive, offer inhabitants Russian citizenship; RUSSIAN ARMORED VEHICLES FROM SEVASTOPOL BASE BLOCK ENTRANCES TO CITY; estimated 26,000 Russian troops already garrisoned at naval facility; five Russian warships with special forces sail toward Ukraine’s autonomous region; Russian VDV deploys 45th Airborne Special Forces, more divisions to Anapa, E. coast of Black Sea

USSR2 File: Ukrainian lawmakers scramble to form provisional government, request emergency loan from IMF to avoid default after Russia (apparently determined to ruin Ukraine) suspends promised US$15 billion bailout; acting president Turchynov warns against pro-Russian separatism as self-defense forces guard official buildings in Kiev; impoverished Ukrainians gawk at Yanukovich’s abandoned US$75 million mansion, deposed president still fugitive

Here in Canada we take a close interest in Ukraine as the “Great White North” has the third largest number of Ukrainians in the world, after Ukraine and Russia.

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North Africa File: Egypt’s military-backed government resigns even as it brings country back into Moscow’s orbit, ends pro-Washington orientation initiated by Sadat in 1977; Cairo receives second Russian military delegation this month; Egypt’s top military man, Field Marshal el-Sissi, makes rare trip to Moscow; follows official visit of Russian defense, foreign ministers to Egypt last Nov., US$4 billion arms deal reportedly inked

So, while Americans are preoccupied by the Sochi Olympics and the Ukraine crisis, Russia moves back into its old stomping grounds . . . Egypt.

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USSR2 File: Pro-Russia separatists in eastern Crimean city of Kerch storm city hall, tear down Ukrainian flag, replace with Russia’s; Russophile protesters in Sevastopol carry posters declaring: “Putin is our president,” “Russia, we have been abandoned, take us back”; Crimea part of RSFSR prior to Khrushchev transferring peninsula to Ukraine SSR; Gorbachev calls for Ukrainian unity, describes country as “real mess”

USSR2 File: Yanukovich’s allies, including Kharkiv regional governor, city mayor, flee Ukraine for Russia; “Russian Community of Sevastopol” requests Russia’s intervention in Ukraine crisis, protection for Russian citizens in Crimea; Washington advocates “unified” Ukraine, warns Moscow against imposing military solution upon former Soviet republic; Ukrainian communists demand abolition of presidency, creation of federation

USSR2 File: Deposed Ukraine president reportedly spotted in Sevastopol under Russian Marines’ protection; Yanukovich tried to flee country, stopped by border service; 20,000 pro-Russian demonstrators march in Sevastopol, home of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, demand secession for Crimea, elect Russian citizen as mayor, enlist in self-defense force; SBU/KGB chief describes veritable insurrection in Ukraine as nationalists seize arms depots, military units

USSR2 File: Russian PM questions legitimacy of new government in Kiev, Medvedev alleges “armed mutiny,” maintains turmoil in former Soviet republic “threat to both Russian citizens and Russian interests in Ukraine”; Ukraine’s acting interior minister: Arrest warrant issued for ousted president, Yanukovich wanted for “mass killing of civilians”; more than 75 anti-regime demonstrators killed by snipers, riot police while Yanukovich hosted EU delegation on Feb. 20

USSR2 File: Ukraine General Staff: Army will not take sides in political crisis; Kharkiv mayor bans anti-regime protesters from entering city hall, communist bent of pro-Yanukovich forces manifests itself as presidential supporters guard Lenin statue; city of 1.7 million past capital of Ukraine SSR; top Russian Communist Party officials unfurl hammer and sickle banner at Sochi Olympics, scuffle with IOC staff

USSR2 File: Ukraine parliament impeaches president, Yanukovich flees to eastern power base in Kharkiv, decries “coup,” allies denounce “fascist” takeover in Kiev; released from 2.5-year jail term, former PM Tymoshenko addresses supporters in capital; protesters seize arms depot, regional SBU/KGB HQ in Lviv, second SBU office in Ivano-Frankivsk; former Soviet republic split between pro-EU nationalists in west, pro-Moscow Russophones in east

Meanwhile, Putin, the source of Ukraine’s woes, basks in the victories of Team Russia at the Sochi Olympics . . .

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USSR2 File: Opposition in “full control” of Kiev’s government district, “ex”-CPSU President Yanukovich’s whereabouts unknown; Ukraine parliament votes to release jailed former PM Tymoshenko, appoints ally as new speaker, calls election for May 25; ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine “taking control of their territories until ‘constitutional order’ is restored in Kiev”; EU shuns Ukraine after riot police lob stun grenades, fire live ammo at protesters on Feb. 18

Bolivarian Revolution File: Venezuela’s socialist dictator dispatches 3,000 paratroopers to quell anti-regime protests in San Cristobal, opposition-held city located in western state of Tachira; most serious charges against opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez dropped, still detained; pro-Maduro paramilitary “colectivos” terrorize citizens, fire live rounds into crowds; CNN reporters threatened with deportation

EU File: Seven-month political crisis in Czech Republic ends as Social Democrat-led coalition government sails past confidence vote; Communist Party’s 33 parliamentary deputies refuse to back new cabinet while billionaire ex-communist Babis relishes finance minister role; Christian Democrats vow to exit new government if KSCM-sponsored bill ends lustration

Communist Bloc Military Updates: Russia, Red China in talks to jointly develop Kremlin’s new strategic bomber; PRC’s 2016-2025 State Arms Program to include project; PAK DA to copy stealth (i.e., first strike) role of USAF’s B-2 Spirit, fire KH-101 stealth cruise missiles; Voice of Russia spills the beans: “PLAAF, PLAN bombers cannot yet reach Continental USA”

Bolivarian Revolution File: Venezuelan security forces, Bolivarian Intelligence Service raid Popular Will Party HQ, leader Leopoldo Lopez wanted on (trumped up) charges of murder, terrorism following deadly protest; Caracas expels three US diplomats for allegedly conspiring against Chavista regime; neo-Sandinista Nicaragua joins Cuba in expressing solidarity with President Maduro

Bolivarian Revolution File: Venezuela’s socialist dictator Maduro claims “US-backed fascists” behind 3 killings at Feb. 12 anti-regime protest; orders military to clamp down on demos, soldiers surround government buildings in Caracas, riot police guard shuttered subway entrances; army secures other major cities; regime issues arrest warrant for opposition leader, blocks Twitter; Cuba decries “coup attempt”

Bolivarian Revolution File: Gunmen kill two anti-Chavista protesters in Caracas as 1,000s of students, opposition politicians rally in Venezuelan capital on Wed. to denounce President Maduro’s socialist policies; more gunmen shoot five anti-government youths in Merida; Chavez successor vows “revolution will continue,” “no chance of coup”; National Assembly speaker rails against “provocation from the right”

EU File: 24 years after Velvet Revolution Czechs pine for Stalinist past as Communist Party submits bill to end lustration, waits for PM Sobotka’s shaky coalition government to fold; communist-era TV shows dominate airwaves, “normalization period” consumer products experience “massive revival,” trendy Prague pubs turn to 1970s-style decor; NYU prof: Czechs “doomed to repeat mistakes” without full accounting of past

Latin America File: Russia’s Lukoil first foreign company to partner with Pemex after Mexico ends state oil monopoly, CEOs ink exploration and production deal in Davos: Vagit Alekperov founded Lukoil in 1991, while Soviet deputy minister of oil; Lukoil owns 500 gas stations in Northeast, Mid-Atlantic USA; Forbes ranks Lukoil largest private Russian firm in 2013

Latin America File: Ex-Marxist guerrilla commander, El Salvador’s VP strongly placed to win March 9 presidential run-off vote against conservative ex-mayor of San Salvador; FMLN’s Sanchez Ceren described as “doctrinaire Leninist,” ordered assassinations during civil war (1979-1992); leftists dominate Legislative Assembly since 2009, govern in grand coalition with right-wing ARENA defectors since 2012

Neo-Sandinista File: Communists reconsolidate Cold War-era beachhead in Nicaragua: President Ortega establishes lifetime dictatorship, FSLN-dominated National Assembly scraps term limits, reforms military code, permits army to hold civilian posts, control national records/databases and telecommunications, provide security for Red China’s planned inter-oceanic canal; Nicaraguan military honors Cuban attache

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Final Phase Backgrounder: Czech Republic’s “ex”-red President Zeman shills for Moscow Leninists, echoes Gorbachev’s 1989 “Common European Home” speech, advocates Russia’s entry into EU within 20-30 years, insists “democratization” of Russia, Ukraine “will proceed through many, many phases,” create “Europe from Atlantic to Pacific”; Prague’s ambassador to Moscow ex-cosmonaut Remek, open communist

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Vladimir Remek bio

Historical Flashback: Mikhail Gorbachev’s “Common European Home” Speech to Council of Europe (source)