Ukraine moves heavy forces up to Donbass frontline. Is war around the corner?

From Fort-Russ

April 30, 2018 – Fort Russ News –

By Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold –

On Sunday, April 29th, disturbing news came from the frontline in Donbass. The official spokesman of the People’s Militia of the Lugansk People’s Republic, Major Andrey Marochko, cited intelligence data from Ukraine’s forward positions that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are moving heavy arms and troops up to the frontline.

According to Marochko, a train convoy of four wagons loaded with military vehicles and UAF soldiers arrived at the Kiev-controlled town of Rubezhnoe. Nine infantry fighting vehicles, two Grad multiple rocket launcher systems, and 200 UAF troops were “delivered.” Meanwhile, Marochko also reported, another company of troops from the Ukrainian National Guard’s Poltava battalion has been deployed to the town of Belovodsk.

At the same time, Ukrainian troops have continued to violate the ceasefire in Donbass. On April 26th, the UAF shelled the city of Dokuchaevsk in the Donetsk People’s Republic, killing two civilians and one DPR soldier.

According to my sources on the LPR frontline, UAF logistics infrastructure has been expanded throughout the Ukrainian-controlled Lugansk territories. In particular, military hospitals have been set up, and my sources say that preparatory work on organizing civilian hospitals for receiving wounded has also been noted.

There are no signs of inevitability that full-scale war will break out in Donbass in the coming days, but it cannot be ruled out. By pulling up troops to the frontline and preparing its logistical infrastructure, Ukraine is obviously preparing the preconditions for such.

My opinion remains that Kiev will attack not when it decides that the time is ripe for an offensive, but when the West gives the command. These days, it is becoming increasingly widespread to claim that the Ukrainians might go on the offensive ahead of the World Cup, the inauguration of President Putin, or Victory Day. Indeed, these are suitable political timings, but so were the Russian presidential elections on March 17th, yet there was no attack.

My sources in the military circles of the Lugansk People’s Republic told me in early March that they did not expect a Ukrainian attack ahead of the Russian presidential elections simply because of weather conditions preventing tank movements – whether heavy snow or the water runoffs from melting snow. In their opinion, a Ukrainian offensive would be possible no earlier than late April or May, i.e. now.

Now, as we can see, all the preconditions for a Ukrainian blitzkrieg are ripe or being prepared. Only one conditions, perhaps the most important factor, remains: geopolitics. A UAF offensive on Donbass would inevitably lead to a conflict between Russia and the West. This would be an extremely costly development. Hence why I would refrain from volunteering any unequivocal answer as to whether or not war is around the corner. Rather, we should continue to closely monitor both specific local developments and the larger geopolitical picture.

Eduard Popov is a Rostov State University graduate with a PhD in history and philosophy. In 2008, he founded the Center for Ukrainian Studies of the Southern Federal University of Russia, and from 2009-2013, he was the founding head of the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, an analytical institute of the Presidential Administration of Russia. In June 2014, Popov headed the establishment of the Representative Office of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Rostov-on-Don and actively participated in humanitarian aid efforts in Donbass. In addition to being Fort Russ’ guest analyst since June, 2016, Popov is currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public and Information Cooperation. 

https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/04/ukraine-moves-heavy-forces-up-to-donbass-frontline-is-war-around-the-corner/

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Breaking — April 30, Poroshenko announced military operation for return of Crimea

From Fort-Russ

April 30, 2018

The president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has today, April 30, officially announced the completion of the so-called antiterrorist operation in the Donbass. At the same time, the president proclaimed the beginning of the operation of the united forces (OOS).

“Today, on April 30, 2018, a large-scale anti-terrorist operation in the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk regions ends. We are now starting a military operation under the leadership of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to ensure the protection of territorial integrity, ” Petro Poroshenko said.

The Ukrainian president also said that “a military operation to protect territorial integrity will be completed only when the last piece of Ukrainian land, including the Crimea, is liberated.”

Today, America’s long awaited lethal weapons have been confirmed to be delivered to Ukraine.

https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/04/urgent-poroshenko-announced-operation-for-return-of-crimea/

Urgent: U.S. confirms Javelin delivery to Ukraine

From Fort-Russ
By Inessa S.
April 30, 2018

Javelins – American anti-tank missile systems have been delivered to Ukraine, according to the State Department.

The US authorities in 2017 approved the supply of weapons to Kiev, including portable anti-tank missile systems “Javelin.” Despite repeated requests from the Ukrainian side, the previous administration of Barack Obama refused to supply thee.

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko earlier said that Kiev expects to receive weapons from the US in 2018.

Russia has repeatedly warned against the supply of arms to Ukraine, as this will only lead to an escalation of the conflict. As the press secretary of the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, repeatedly stated, the supply of arms to Ukraine will not contribute to a settlement in the Donbass and the implementation of the Minsk agreements. Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, Grigory Karasin, also told RIA Novosti that Moscow is concerned about the supply of lethal weapons to Ukraine.

As reported earlier from the Donbass republics – they are expecting a new Ukrainian offensive in early May.

https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/04/urgent-us-confirms-javelin-delivery-to-ukraine/

UAVs prohibited by Minsk agreements; Lugansk shoots down armed Ukrainian sabotage drone, April 21

From Fort Russ

By Tom Winter
April 21, 2018

Lugansk, Novorosinform. On Saturday, April 21, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was shot down by the anti-aircraft defense unit of the People’s Militia of the People’s Republic of Lugansk near Lugansk City. This is stated in an urgent statement by the defense ministry’s spokesman Andrei Marochko.

“In addition to reconnaissance functions, Ukrainian terrorists intended to use a drone to conduct sabotage against objects of socially important infrastructure in the territory of the People’s Republic of Lugansk. After the inspection of the apparatus, our specialists concluded that the apparatus was converted into a shock device and carried a military charge,” a representative of the People’s Militia said.

“We would like to remind you that a number of large-scale events are taking place on the territory of the republic with a large number of personnel. Including, preparations for the celebration of the 73 anniversary of the Victory in the Great Patriotic War,” he added.

“Currently, our specialists continue working on the Ukrainian UAV. I want to remind you that this is the second drone shot down by the air defense forces of the People’s Militia since the beginning of April. I remind you that the use of unmanned aerial vehicles is prohibited by Minsk agreements,” Marachko added.

Recall that the Ukrainian troops on the night of April 17 shelled the staging area for the military equipment, which was prepared to participate in the parade on the Victory Day in the People’s Republic of Lugansk. As a result of the bombardment, a tank from the Great Patriotic War, which was to take part in the Victory Day parade on May 9, plus four units of the military equipment of the People’s Militia of the People’s Republic of Lugansk, were damaged. The people’s militia accused the OSCE of being involved in the shelling of military equipment for the Victory Day parade.

At the end of March, militiamen of the Donetsk People’s Republic shot down a Polish Fly Eye drone. It was spotting for Ukrainian mortar fire on the village of Sakhanka in the south of the republic.

On March 27, the strategic unmanned aerial vehicle RQ-4B-30 Global Hawk of the US Air Force conducted reconnaissance along the front line in the Donbass.

https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/04/lugansk-shoots-down-armed-ukrainian-sabotage-drone/

Trump was urged to seek evidence before attacking Syria

From Consortium News
April 13, 2018

In this memo to the White House, the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity urge President Trump to get the evidence first before deciding to strike Syria.

Special to Consortium News

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT:  Evidence Required for Military Decision on Syria

Mr. President,

We the undersigned Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity join a number of other credible experts including former UK Ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford (this recent interview on BBC Radio Scotland), former UN weapons inspectors and former military officers who are strongly recommending that you obtain and review actual evidence from the site of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, before ordering any military action. VIPS has previously reported credible evidence indicating that anti-government forces in Syria have themselves produced and used toxic chemical agents.

Contradictory indications exist given that the video and images of victims in the locations purportedly affected by chemical weapons  came from rebel-affiliated entities known as the “Douma Revolution” and the “White Helmets” while Russian military units which later got physical access to the supposed sites and Syrian Red Crescent personnel working in the area reportedly found no indication of a chemical weapon attack.

A major question for us, as former intelligence officers with some knowledge of the operational use of misinformation and false flag actions, is what motive would the Syrian government have for making a chemical weapons attack on its own civilian population, especially at a time when it has growing popular support and is having increased military success.  Why would it risk Western ire?

Rebel fighters and their families were already being evacuated to Turkish occupied Jarabulus by air-conditioned bus. As described in more detail by Scott Ritter (here), only Salafist fighters from the “Army of Islam” (Jaish al-Islam) had refused to surrender at the time of the supposed attacks.

One must therefore consider the possibility that the supposed chlorine gas attack at Douma may have been a carefully constructed propaganda fraud. Such a fraud would have as its purpose the elicitation of precisely the kind of political pressure that now has you contemplating military action. In other words, Mr. President, this may be a bid to mousetrap you into a war that neither you nor your fellow Americans want nor need.

More expert opinion and investigation needs to be applied like that voiced by former U.N. weapons inspector in Syria, Åke Sellström, (translated from original Swedish):

 The attack may have come from Assad’s regime, but you may as well have other explanations. Toxic substances can be dispersed in many ways, for example through explosions or smoke.

– There are many poisonous substances in circulation during the battle.

If the UN were to investigate the attack, it is not enough to see recordings or hear testimony, says Sellström.

It is essential that the United States have complete and compelling evidence before taking any decisive action. We therefore strongly recommend that you await the findings of the OPCW team which is now on its way to Douma to investigate at the actual site of the alleged attack.  A competent, objective group of experts needs to conduct a thorough on-the-ground investigation and collect evidence that will either implicate the Government of Syria or exonerate it.

We have, as you have noted, been down this road before with the Iraq WMD debacle in 2003.  Let us not repeat this mistake. By launching a war in Syria, we will be entering a military and political morass involving Iran and Russia that could have fatal consequences for the entire planet, especially if any of the parties feel compelled to resort to nuclear weapons.

The American people neither want nor need another military intervention in the Middle East. History tells us that any initiative centered on the use of armed force to compel acceptable behavior will not be containable and will only propagate more violence. Please do not drain the US Treasury for a war that could lead to catastrophic and unprecedented loss of life and endanger the security of Americans everywhere.

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

William Binney, former NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (ret.)

Richard H. Black, Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret.); Former Chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS)

Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research

Kathleen Christison, Senior Analyst on Middle East, CIA (ret.)

Bogdan Dzakovic, former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Graham E. Fuller,Vice-Chair, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry C. Johnson, former CIA and State Department Counter Terrorism officer

Michael S. Kearns, Captain,Wing Commander, RAAF (ret.); Intelligence Officer & ex-Master SERE Instructor

John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Karen Kwiatkowski, former Lt. Col., US Air Force (ret.), at Office of Secretary of Defense watching the manufacture of lies on Iraq, 2001-2003

Clement J. Laniewski, LTC, USA (ret) (associate VIPS)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, Ph.D., former senior estimates officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst; CIA Presidential briefer (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council & CIA political analyst (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Scott Ritter, former MAJ., USMC, former UN Weapon Inspector, Iraq

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Peter Van Buren, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel, US Army (ret.), former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State; Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)

Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (ret.); Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Ann Wright, Colonel, US Army (ret.); also Foreign Service Officer who resigned in opposition to the US war on Iraq

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/13/trump-urged-to-seek-evidence-before-attacking-syria/

 

Posted under Fair Use Rules.

It started over lunch: investigating and exposing the Iran-Contra scandal, amid news media silence

From Consortium News
April 16, 2018

The following are remarks at the memorial for Bob Parry delivered on Saturday by Brian Barger, who shared many bylines with Bob (and a drink or two) at the Associated Press, uncovering the Iran-Contra scandal, and provoking the ire of AP editors, nervous about what the two friends were finding out.

By Brian Barger

I remember it was a pleasure to meet Bob in 1984. The CIA was ramping up its covert war in Nicaragua. News reports from the region documented atrocities committed by President Reagan’s “freedom fighters” and their CIA handlers. Congress was starting to take notice, and was threatening to cut off US aid.

I got a call from Betsy Cohn, a Latin America scholar from Georgetown University, saying I should meet this guy from the AP. Over lunch we shared notes. I’d done much of my reporting from Central America and Miami, and Bob from Washington. We agreed there was a lot of low-hanging fruit on this story, and we talked about why there was such reluctance to cover it, particularly among the Washington press corps. We agreed that this could be a good reporting partnership.

And it was in these early days that I learned some important lessons about journalism from Bob.

It started over that lunch, when Bob politely reminded me that I’d buried the lede in a recent story that should have received wide attention – but didn’t. This was Bob Parry journalism lesson number one: Don’t bury the lede.

The story was about a blue, cloth-covered manual produced by the CIA and distributed to contra commanders in Honduras. Bob wanted a copy. So, Bob Parry journalism lesson Number Two: Be persistent. I gave it to him, and Bob produced a deeply reported piece on what thereafter was known as the CIA assassination manual. Lesson number three: Make those ten extra phone calls before calling it a day.

This was the beginning of an enduring friendship that lasted 35 years. It was also the beginning of an enduring work relationship. Over the next two years, we peeled back the story about White House aide Oliver North and the White House role orchestrating a secret war in Nicaragua.

For the rest of the story: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/16/it-started-over-lunch-and-ended-with-the-exposure-of-one-of-the-greatest-scandals-in-u-s-history/

Piracy: Ukraine holds Russian fishermen hostage, provokes naval conflict

From Fort Russ

April 5, 2018

By Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold –

Yesterday, April 4th, new details emerged on Ukrainian maritime border guards’ seizure of a fishing vessel from Crimea. The spokesperson of Ukraine’s State Border Service, Oleg Slobodyan, stated plainly in an interview:

“Ukraine will detain all vessels entering and leaving the ports of Crimea without Kiev’s consent.”

The grounds for such? Slobodyan explained: “Crimea is an illegally occupied part of Ukraine, therefore law enforcement will react immediately to any violations of entry and exit from the occupied territory.”

To recall, the fishing vessel “Nord”, whose registered port is that of Kerch in the Republic of Crimea, was detained on March 25th in the Sea of Azov. On board were 10 fishermen – all citizens of Russia – engaged in seine-fishing in neutral waters. The vessel was detained by Ukrainian naval border guards. Since the moment of the detention, the crew have been forbidden from communicating with the Russian Consul. The Ukrainian side has also obstructed the purchase of food, and the vessel’s reserves are coming to an end. The crew have claimed that the Ukrainians are literally trying to starve them, and there appears to be little hope that they will be freed from Ukrainian captivity.

Today, according to lawyer Alexander Rudenko, the captain of the ship, Vladimir Gorbenko, is in Kherson in an SBU Crimea unit. To clarify for readers: an absurd situation has taken shape in Ukraine in which regional authorities for the Republic of Crimea are still employed, despite Crimea’s reunification with Russia, and, in addition, a separate ministry for “occupied Crimea” has been established, whose officials are also paid. Of course, all these institutions operate on Ukrainian territory, and are a manifestation of the financial burden which Ukraine suffers as long as it refuses to accept reality.

But back to the story. “Nord” did not violate any Ukrainian or international maritime legislation, and was fishing in international waters. Let us draw attention to the fact that even long before the events of 2014, Ukrainian fisherman regularly poached in Russia’s territorial waters, but Russia never arrested or detained any Ukrainian violators.

This action by Ukrainian border guards is, in legal terms, piracy. However, Ukraine has chosen a very convenient time to attack, as Russia is afraid to take any drastic steps against Kiev and the West. Moreover, now that the West has faced the inconvenient news of the origin of the substance allegedly used to poison the Skripals, new pretexts would come in handy to accuse Russia of aggressive behavior. Any tough reaction by Russia to this seizure of a Russian vessel and barbaric imprisonment of Russian citizens would be instantly used by London and its allies for a new series of information and diplomatic attacks on Moscow.

What’s more, there are more than a few internal Ukrainian reasons for such a gross provocation against Russia. Ukraine always needs pretexts to continue to blame its eastern neighbor of aggression. The deployment of Russian troops to Ukrainian territory would, no matter what the pretext, be a gift to the Kiev regime. President Poroshenko and the Ukrainian General Staff, of course, do not expect Ukraine to defeat Russia in a real war, but any such related turn of events would help launch a full-scale political and diplomatic war against Russia and thereby provide the Poroshenko regime with a much-needed alibi in the West.

A military operation by Russia to liberate the captured fishermen would be the most desirable scenario for Kiev. It should also be remembered that in May, 2019, Ukraine is set to hold presidential elections (if they are not postponed or canceled). President Poroshenko’s approving rating, according to various opinion polls, does not exceed 6-8%. Therefore, he needs to increase his popularity, which cannot be done though improving the socio-economic situation for objective reasons as long as Ukraine’s economy continues to deteriorate. The only way for Poroshenko to stay in power is to, once again, intercept the anti-Russian card from Poroshenko’s Nazi competitors.

Russia has found itself in a difficult situation. The SBU is demanding that the fishermen renounce their Russian citizenship. Unable to take back Crimea, Ukrainian authorities are thus taking their frustration out on individual Russian citizens. In any case, the advantages are on the Ukrainian side.

However, Russia does have some levers of influence. In the summer of 2014, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers fleeing the fire of the LPR militia crossed into Russia. These UAF servicemen received medical care and food at Russia’s expense, after which they were graciously transferred, along with their weapons, back to Ukraine. They were not interned as violators of Russia’s state borders. I believe that this mercy shown by Russian authorities was a grave mistake based in a misunderstanding of the nature of the contemporary Ukrainian state, which harbors elements of a Nazi regime. No smaller of a mistake was the recognition of the so-called presidential elections in Ukraine in May 2014, which were held after the overthrow of the legitimate Ukrainian government and in conditions of outright violence against opposition. Perhaps Moscow will review some of the conceptual mistakes of its Ukraine policy. Maybe it could also take measures against Ukrainian oligarchs on Russian territory. President Poroshenko, as is well known, owns a confectionery factory in the Russian city of Lipetsk – which does not prevent him from signing laws against cooperation with the “occupier.” Ukrainian oligarchs’ property has also been left in place in Crimea. Striking at the wealth of Ukraine’s oligarchs would be a viable response to Ukraine’s reckless actions. 

Russian experts have offered various other recommendations, such as proposing that Russia withdraw from the Treaty on the Sea of Azov, which would force Ukrainian ships to be locked within a limited zone of the Sea of Azov. Yesterday it became known that Russia has decided to use warships of the Black See Fleet to prevent Ukrainian piracy in the future.

The fate of the fishermen taken hostage is likely to be decided through closed-door negotiations. I would venture to suggest that Ukraine will demand in exchange the release of those Ukrainian saboteurs who have been arrested in the Crimea, Rostov, and Volgograd regions for preparing terrorist attacks but who, in the rhetoric of Ukrainian authorities and Russian liberals (Sobchak, Sokurov, Kasparov, Navalny, etc.), are called “political prisoners.” If such an exchange takes place, this would be a victory for Ukraine, and a defeat for Russia. Unlike these Ukrainian saboteurs,the Nord fishermen did nothing illegal. If not stopped, Kiev will continue to take citizens of Russia hostage for further bargaining and blackmail. As I have said on more than one occasion, Ukraine is increasingly resembling a terrorist state. 

Eduard Popov is a Rostov State University graduate with a PhD in history and philosophy. In 2008, he founded the Center for Ukrainian Studies of the Southern Federal University of Russia, and from 2009-2013, he was the founding head of the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, an analytical institute of the Presidential Administration of Russia. In June 2014, Popov headed the establishment of the Representative Office of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Rostov-on-Don and actively participated in humanitarian aid efforts in Donbass. In addition to being Fort Russ’ guest analyst since June, 2016, Popov is currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public and Information Cooperation. 

https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/04/pirate-state-ukraine-holds-russian-fishermen-hostage-provokes-naval-conflict/