Russia temporarily suspends its participation in New START treaty

From Strategic Stability

Report # 207. Presidential Address to Federal Assembly on February, 21

February 22, 2023

1. Moscow has suspended its participation in the New START

“Colleagues, I will talk about one more issue.

In early February [2023], the North Atlantic alliance made a statement with actual demand to Russia, as they put it, to return to the implementation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, including admission of inspections to our nuclear defence facilities. I don’t even know what to call this. It is a kind of a theatre of the absurd.

We know that the West is directly involved in the Kiev regime’s attempts to strike at our strategic aviation bases. The drones used for this purpose were equipped and updated with the assistance of NATO specialists. And now they also want to inspect our defence facilities? In the current conditions of confrontation, it simply sounds insane.

I would like to draw your attention specifically to the fact that they are not letting us conduct full-scale inspections under this treaty. Our repeated applications to inspect different facilities remain unanswered or are rejected under formal pretexts, and we cannot verify anything on the other side.

I would like to stress that the United States and NATO are openly saying that their goal is to inflict a strategic defeat on Russia. And what, after such statements they are supposed to tour our defence facilities, including the latest ones, as if nothing happened? A week ago, I signed an executive order putting new land-based strategic systems on combat duty. Are they going to poke their nose there as well? Do they think we will let them go there just because?

Having made this collective statement, NATO actually claimed to be a participant in the Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms. We agree with this, please go ahead. Moreover, we believe this framing of the issue is long overdue. Let me recall that the US is not the only nuclear power in NATO. Britain and France also have nuclear arsenals. They are developing and upgrading them and these arsenals are also directed against us – they are also directed against Russia. The latest statements by their leaders merely confirm it – listen for yourselves.

We cannot just ignore this and have no right to do so especially now. Nor can we forget that the Soviet Union and the United States initially signed the first Treaty on Strategic Offensive Arms in 1991 in a completely different situation – in conditions of abating tensions and growing mutual trust. Subsequently, our relations reached a level that allowed Russia and the US to say they no longer considered each other enemies. Wonderful, everything was going very well.

The Treaty of 2010 that is in force contains critically important provisions about indivisible security and the direct link between strategic offensive and defensive arms. All of that has long been forgotten. The United States withdrew from the ABM Treaty. It is now a thing of the past. Importantly, our relations have degraded which can be credited entirely to the United States.

After the Soviet Union broke up, they began to revise the outcomes of World War II and to build an American-style world ruled by one master. To do this, they began to rudely destroy the foundations of the international order laid down after WWII in order to cross out the legacy of the Yalta and Potsdam conferences. Step by step, they proceeded to revise the existing international order, to dismantle security and arms control systems, and plotted and carried out a series of wars around the world.

To reiterate, all of that was done for the sole purpose of dismantling the post-WWII architecture of international relations. This is not a figure of speech. This is how it all unfolded in reality. After the Soviet Union collapsed, they sought to perpetuate their global dominance regardless of the interests of modern Russia or other countries for that matter.

Sure enough, the international situation changed after 1945. New centres of growth and influence have been formed and are rapidly expanding. This is a natural and objective process that cannot be ignored. But the United States trying to refashion the international order to suit exclusively its own needs and selfish interests is unacceptable.

Now, they are using NATO to give us signals, which, in fact, is an ultimatum whereby Russia should, no questions asked, implement everything that it agreed to, including the New START Treaty, whereas they will do as they please. As if there is no connection between strategic offensive weapons and, say, the conflict in Ukraine or other hostile Western actions against our country. As if there are no vociferous claims about them seeking to inflict a strategic defeat on us. This is either the height of hypocrisy and cynicism, or the height of stupidity, but they are not idiots. They are not stupid after all. They want to inflict a strategic defeat on us and also to get to our nuclear sites.

In this regard, I am compelled to announce today that Russia is suspending its membership in the New START Treaty. To reiterate, we are not withdrawing from the Treaty, but rather suspending our participation. Before we come back to discussing this issue, we must have a clear idea of what NATO countries such as France or Great Britain have at stake, and how we will account for their strategic arsenals, that is, the Alliance’s combined offensive capabilities.

Their statement comes, in fact, as a request to join this process. Well, come onboard, we do not mind. Just try not to lie to everyone this time and present yourselves as champions of peace and detente. We know the truth. We are aware of the fact that certain types of US nuclear weapons are reaching the end of their service life. In this regard, we know for certain that some politicians in Washington are already pondering live nuclear tests, especially since the United States is developing innovative nuclear weapons. There is information to that effect.

Given these circumstances, the Defence Ministry and Rosatom must make everything ready for Russia to conduct nuclear tests. We will not be the first to proceed with these tests, but if the United States goes ahead with them, we will as well. No one should harbour dangerous illusions that global strategic parity can be disrupted”.

Conclusion

“Today, we are together living through challenging times and overcoming all difficulties together as well. It could not have been otherwise because we have been raised on the example of our great ancestors and must be worthy of their behests that are passed down from generation to generation. We are moving only forward owing to our devotion to our Motherland, our will and our unity.

This cohesion was on display from the first days of the special military operation – hundreds of volunteers, representatives of all ethnicities of our country came to recruitment offices. They decided to stand by the defenders of Donbass, to fight for their native land, for their Fatherland, for the truth and justice. Today, warriors from all regions of our multi-ethnic Motherland are fighting shoulder to shoulder on the frontlines. They pray in different languages, but they all pray for victory, for their fellow soldiers and for the Motherland. (Applause.)

Their difficult military labour, their exploits are finding a powerful response all over Russia. People are supporting our fighters. They don’t want to stay on the sidelines. The front is now passing through the hearts of our people in their millions. They are sending medicine, communication devices, transport, warm clothes and camouflage nets, to name a few – everything that helps protect the lives of our fighters.

I know the comfort letters from children and schoolkids give to our soldiers at the front. They take them into battle as a cherished possession because the sincerity and purity of children’s wishes bring tears to their eyes. They feel more forcefully for whose sake they are fighting and whom they are defending.

Warriors, their families and civilians greatly appreciate the care with which volunteers are surrounding them. They have been acting boldly and decisively from the very start of the special military operation. Under fire and shelling they are leading children, elders and all those in trouble out of basements; they were and still are bringing food, water and clothes to hot spots; they are setting up humanitarian aid centres for refugees and helping doctors in field hospitals and on the combat contact line; they continue to risk their lives to save others.

The Russian Popular Front alone raised over five billion rubles as part of the All for Victory initiative. The flow of donations does not stop. Every contribution is important and this applies to those made by large companies and businesspeople. But especially touching and inspiring are the donations of people with modest incomes, which are contributing part of their savings, salaries and pensions. This coming together to help our warriors, civilians in the zone of hostilities and refugees is worth a lot.

Thank you for this sincere support, cohesion and mutual aid. It is impossible to overstate their importance.

Russia will meet any challenges because we are all one country, a big and united nation. We are confident in ourselves and confident in our strength. The truth is on our side. (Applause.)”

[Note: these are selective parts of the Address that has lasted for nearly two hours; the full text in English can be found at: http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/70565%5D

2. Lawmakers approved Putin’s SOA treaty decision

Russia’s Parliament has passed legislation suspending Moscow’s participation in the New START agreement

Both houses of the Federal Assembly – the Russian Parliament – approved a bill on February 22 submitted by President Vladimir Putin, by which Moscow will temporarily suspend its participation in the Strategic Offensive Arms Treaty (New START) – the last existing nuclear accord between Russia and the US.

In an explanatory note attached to the bill, the lawmakers state that the agreement, which was meant to cut in half the number of nuclear weapons deployed around the world, was supposed to allow both parties to carry out inspections in order to ensure compliance. The US, however, “deliberately fails to fulfill its obligations under the treaty in this area of activity,” the note states.

Because of this, and in accordance with federal law, the Russian president has made a proposal to suspend the agreement, the note reads, adding that the decision to resume Russia’s participation in the treaty will also be made by the president.

The bill will enter into force once signed by the president and published.

Powerful explosions hit cities in eastern Ukraine

From RT
2/18/22

At least one of the two consecutive blasts in Lugansk has affected a gas pipeline

At least two explosions rocked the city of Lugansk in eastern Ukraine late on Friday, a Sputnik news agency correspondent has reported. Local media have also confirmed that the first blast affected a pipeline in the area, resulting in a major fire. The second one reportedly took place at a gas station. 

The reports of explosions come just hours after the neighboring city of Donetsk was rocked by another blast. It was caused by a car bomb, which targeted a vehicle belonging to the head of the people’s militia of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, and did not result in any casualties.

Earlier, both self-proclaimed republics in Lugansk and Donetsk ordered a mass evacuation of civilians from the area to Russia, citing fears of a potential attack by the Ukrainian military. Meanwhile, Kiev has denied any plans to take the breakaway regions by force. 

Tensions are currently running high in eastern Ukraine, as the two breakaway republics – known colloquially as Donbass – allege the government in Kiev is planning a military operation to claim their territory by force. They have cited a sharp increase in incidents along the armistice line, including the use of artillery, mortars, and tanks by the Ukrainian military…

https://www.rt.com/russia/549924-lugansk-explosion-ukraine/

A massive explosion in the center of Donetsk on Friday evening was the work of a car bomb that detonated outside the government headquarters, the authorities in the breakaway region in eastern Ukraine have said.

Multiple reports of the blast came shortly after both Donetsk and Lugansk, the two regions that seceded from Ukraine in 2014, announced an evacuation of civilians into Russia, fearing an attack by the Ukrainian military. 

RT correspondent Roman Kosarev, who is on the ground in Donetsk to report on the evacuation, has also confirmed that he heard the explosion.

Images from the scene show a completely destroyed car in the parking lot about 100 meters or so outside the seat of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, with significant damage to other vehicles nearby.

The targeted vehicle belonged to the head of the DPR People’s Militia, Denis Sinenkov, who told Interfax that he was not injured in the blast…

The authorities in Donetsk are asking residents to remain calm, stay on alert, and limit movement around the city as much as they can.

https://www.rt.com/russia/549901-donetsk-explosion-ukraine/

International Law: Minsk-2 Package of Measures, signed February 12, 2015; adopted by UN Security Council, February 17, 2015

From United Nations Security Council

Resolution 2202 (2015)
Adopted by the Security Council at its 7384th meeting, on 17 February 2015
Annex 1

Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements

Minsk, 12 February 2015

1. Immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and its strict implementation as of 15 February 2015, 12 a.m. local time.

2. Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides by equal distances in order to create a security zone of at least 50 km wide from each other for the artillery systems of calibre of 100 and more, a security zone of 70 km wide for MLRS and 140 km wide for MLRS “Tornado-S”, Uragan, Smerch and Tactical Missile Systems (Tochka, Tochka U):

– for the Ukrainian troops: from the de facto line of contact;

– for the armed formations from certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine: from the line of contact according to the Minsk Memorandum of Sept. 19th, 2014;

The withdrawal of the heavy weapons as specified above is to start on day 2 of the ceasefire at the latest and be completed within 14 days. The process shall be facilitated by the OSCE and supported by the Trilateral Contact Group.

3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the OSCE from day 1 of the withdrawal, using all technical equipment necessary, including satellites, drones, radar equipment, etc.

4. Launch a dialogue, on day 1 of the withdrawal, on modalities of local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” as well as on the future regime of these areas based on this law. Adopt promptly, by no later than 30 days after the date of signing of this document a Resolution of the Parliament of Ukraine specifying the area enjoying a special regime, under the Law of Ukraine “On interim self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, based on the line of the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014.

5. Ensure pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

6. Ensure release and exchange of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons, based on the principle “all for all”. This process is to be finished on the day 5 after the withdrawal at the latest.

7. Ensure safe access, delivery, storage, and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in need, on the basis of an international mechanism.

8. Definition of modalities of full resumption of socioeconomic ties, including social transfers such as pension payments and other payments (incomes and revenues, timely payments of all utility bills, reinstating taxation within the legal framework of Ukraine). To this end, Ukraine shall reinstate control of the segment of its banking system in the conflict-affected areas and possibly an international mechanism to facilitate such transfers shall be established.

9. Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area, starting on day 1 after the local elections and ending after the comprehensive political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the Law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) to be finalized by the end of 2015, provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.

10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups.

11. Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force by the end of 2015 providing for decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas), as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in line with measures as set out in the footnote until the end of 2015. [Note]

12. Based on the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be held in accordance with relevant OSCE standards and monitored by OSCE/ODIHR.

13. Intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group including through the establishment of working groups on the implementation of relevant aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will reflect the composition of the Trilateral Contact Group.

Note

Such measures are, according to the Law on the special order for local selfgovernment in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions:

– Exemption from punishment, prosecution and discrimination for persons involved in the events that have taken place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

– Right to linguistic self-determination;

– Participation of organs of local self-government in the appointment of heads of public prosecution offices and courts in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

– Possibility for central governmental authorities to initiate agreements with organs of local self-government regarding the economic, social and cultural development of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

– State supports the social and economic development of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

– Support by central government authorities of cross-border cooperation in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions with districts of the Russian Federation;

– Creation of the people’s police units by decision of local councils for the maintenance of public order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

– The powers of deputies of local councils and officials, elected at early elections, appointed by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by this law, cannot be early terminated.

Participants of the Trilateral Contact Group:

Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini

Second President of Ukraine, L. D. Kuchma

Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine, M. Yu. Zurabov

A.W. Zakharchenko

I.W. Plotnitski

Source:
securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_res_2202.pdf

Five years ago, U.S. installed a neo-Nazi government in Ukraine — a ‘flowering of democracy’?

From Global Research

Originally published March 6, 2014, reprinted in 2017

This article first published in March 2014 at the very outset of the Ukraine crisis explains the nature of the Kiev proxy regime. we are dealing with a Neo-Nazi government supported by “Western democracy” and the “international community”. 

According to the New York Times, “The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here as another flowering of democracy, a blow to authoritarianism and kleptocracy in the former Soviet space.” ( After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility,  NYTimes.com, March 1, 2014, emphasis added)

“Flowering Democracy, Revolution”?  The grim realities are otherwise. What is a stake is a US-EU-NATO sponsored coup d’Etat in blatant violation of international law.

The forbidden truth is that the West has engineered –through a carefully staged covert operation– the formation of a proxy regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

Confirmed by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, key organizations in the Ukraine including the Neo-Nazi party Svoboda were generously supported by Washington: “We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals. … We will continue to promote Ukraine to the future it deserves.”

The Western media has casually avoided to analyze the composition and ideological underpinnings of the government coalition. The word “Neo-Nazi” is a taboo. It has been excluded from the dictionary of mainstream media commentary. It will not appear in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post or The Independent. Journalists have been instructed not to use the term “Neo-Nazi” to designate Svoboda and the Right Sector.

Composition of the Coalition Government

We are not dealing with a transitional government in which Neo-Nazi elements integrate the fringe of the coalition, formally led by the Fatherland party.

The Cabinet is not only integrated by the Svoboda and Right Sector (not to mention former members of defunct fascist UNA-UNSO), the two main Neo-Nazi entities have been entrusted with key positions which grant them de facto control over the Armed Forces, Police, Justice and National Security.

While Yatsenuyk’s Fatherland Party controls the majority of portfolios and Svoboda Neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tyahnybok was not granted a major cabinet post (apparently at the request of assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland), members of Svoboda and the Right Sector occupy key positions in the areas of Defense, Law Enforcement, Education and Economic Affairs.

Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok

Andriy parubiy.jpgAndriy Parubiy [right] co-founder of the Neo-Nazi  Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda) was appointed Secretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU). (Рада національної безпеки і оборони України), a key position which overseas the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. The RNBOU is central decision-making body. While it is formally headed by the president, it is run by the Secretariat with a staff of 180 people including defense, intelligence and national security experts.

Parubiy was one of the main leaders behind the Orange Revolution in 2004. His organization was funded by the West. He is referred to by the Western media as the “kommandant” of the EuroMaidan movement. Andriy Parubiy together with party leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a follower of Ukrainian Nazi Stepan Bandera, who collaborated in the mass murderer of Jews and Poles during World War II.

Neo-Nazi march honoring Stepan Bandera

In turn, Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector delegation in the parliament, has been appointed Parubiy’s deputy Secretary of the RNBOU.

Yarosh was the leader of the Brown Shirt Neo-Nazi paramilitary during the EuroMaidan “protest” movement. He has called for disbanding the Party of the regions and the Communist Party.

Dmytro Yarosh speech at Euromaidan (Centre)

The Neo Nazi party also controls the judicial process with the appointment of  Oleh Makhnitsky of the Svoboda party to the position of prosecutor-general of Ukraine. What kind of justice will prevail with a reknown Neo-Nazi in charge of the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine?

Cabinet positions were also allocated to former members of the Neo-Nazi fringe organization Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO):

“Tetyana Chernovol, portrayed in the Western press as a crusading investigative journalist without reference to her past involvement in the anti-Semitic UNA-UNSO, was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. Dmytro Bulatov, known for his alleged kidnapping by police, but also with UNA-UNSO connections, was appointed minister of youth and sports.

Yegor Sobolev, leader of a civic group in Independence Maidan and politically close to Yatsenyuk, was appointed chair of the Lustration Committee, charged with purging followers of President Yanukovych from government and public life. (See Ukraine Transition Government: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, National Security, Economy, Justice and Education, Global Research, March 02, 2014

The Lustration Committee is to organize the Neo-Nazi witch-hunt against all opponents of the new Neo-Nazi regime. The targets of the lustration campaign are people in positions of authority within the civil service, regional and municipal governments, education, research, etc.  The term lustration refers to the “mass disqualification” of people associated with the former government. It also has racial overtones. It will in all likelihood be directed against Communists, Russians  and members of the Jewish community.

It is important to reflect on the fact that the West, formally committed to democratic values, has not only spearheaded the demise of an elected president, it has instated a political regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

This is a proxy government which enables the US, NATO and the EU to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and dismantle its bilateral relations with the Russian Federation. It should be understood, however, that the Neo-Nazis do not ultimately call the shots. The composition of the Cabinet broadly coincides with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland ” recommendations” contained in the leaked telephone call to the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Washington has chosen to spearhead Neo-Nazis into positions of authority. Under a “regime of indirect rule”, however,  they take their orders on crucial military and foreign policy issues –including the deployment of troops directed against the Russian federation– from the the US State Department, the Pentagon and NATO.

The World is at a dangerous crossroads: The structures and composition of this proxy government installed by the West do not favor dialogue with the Russian government and military.

A scenario of military escalation leading to confrontation of Russia and NATO is a distinct possibility. The Ukraine’s National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU) which is controlled by Neo-Nazis plays a central role in military affairs.  In the confrontation with Moscow, decisions taken by the RNBOU headed by Neo-Nazi Parubiy and his brown Shirt deputy Dmytro Yarosh –in consultation with Washington and Brussels– could potentially have devastating consequences.

However, it goes without saying that “support” to the formation of a Neo-Nazi government does not in any way imply the development of “fascist tendencies” within the White House, the State Department and the US Congress.

“The flowering of democracy” in Ukraine –to use the words of the New York Times– is endorsed by Republicans and Democrats. It’s a bipartisan project. Lest we forget, Senator John McCain is a firm supporter and friend of Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (Image right).

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/

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/

Kiev preparing a “blitzkrieg” for the capture of DPR and LPR

From Fort Russ

February 5 , 2018 – FRN –
DPR – translated by Inessa Sinchougova

“The enemy will be irreversibly subdued” – Basurin

The Ukrainian Armed Forces are preparing a ‘blitzkrieg’ to seize the territories of the Donbass between March and June – as announced today by the operational command of DPR, Eduard Basurin, referring to intelligence data.
“The plan provides for military units with the support of artillery to overcome the security zone and break through the first defensive line within DPR and LPR, to take control of advantageous positions.” – he noted.
Kiev will inflict the main damage to the north and south of Donetsk.
“Strikes will be coordinated in the direction of Verkhnetortsekoye, Ilovaysk and towards Maximov, Starobeshevo, Ilovaysk. They will try to overcome the line of combat and break through the first defensive position. Then, having increased their power with the introduction of reserves, they will attempt to cut into Donetsk divisions, to encircle and seize Donetsk.” – said Basurin.
The ultimate goal is to reach Novoazovsk and seize the coast of the Azov Sea.
The invasion of the LPR is planned from the direction of Lutugino. According to Basurin, the data from aerial reconnaissance, equipment at the front line, as well as the active replenishment of fuel and ammunition supplies also testifies to Kiev’s plans.
“I note that the blitzkrieg will not bring the expected result to the Ukrainian side, and in case of armed aggression against the People’s Republics, the enemy will be irreversibly subdued.” – Busurin summed it up.
Blue waves – positions of the Ukrainian army, including numbers of tanks, artillery etc. 
Red dots – DPR/LPR defense.

Victory Day 2017: Expect more violence by Ukrainian Nationalists, but don’t expect to hear about it in Western mainstream news

May 3rd, 2017 – Fort Russ News –

Ukrainian nationalists, 1941, parading before the Nazi flag
While a repetition of “May 2nd” did not occur in Odessa, it may still occur in the Ukraine, on May 9th.
Three years ago, on May 2, 2014 the war in Ukraine began. Dozens of people were burnt alive in the House of Trade Unions in Odessa – local anti-fascists and people who happened to be in the building accidentally. Official data names 48 deaths. Residents say that among the dead were more than 200 people.
Even if the first figure is closer to the truth (we would like to think that this is so), burning people alive literally under the city center’s cameras, which calls itself Europe, is an event as horrible and as absurd in it is seemingly improbable. However, the whole history of Ukraine since EuroMaidan is a theater of the absurd, and a theater of horror.
Commenting on the events in Odessa three years ago, the ex-deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, Elena Bondarenko, stated that only Odessa alone is enough to remove President Poroshenko from power. After all, this courageous woman added, after Odessa, there were still Mariupol and Donbass.
This would be the case if Ukraine was a European country, but Ukraine belongs to Europe only geographically. Mentally and culturally, Ukraine and Ukrainians are mired in the “Asiatic” of Genghis Khan’s time. Therefore, events like Odessa can occur here with ease.
Relatives of the victims of May 2nd 2014 called for an impeachment to President Poroshenko. Deputies of the opposition block demanded an investigation into the circumstances of the tragedy. Of course, neither the latter nor the former will happen: the Ukrainian government was an accomplice in the terrorist attack, and the Ukrainian Nazis – only performers. The aim of the burning of Odessa is to frighten and shock millions of residents of the “Southeast” of Ukraine (they call this region the lands of historical Russia). This goal has been achieved. Only the Donbass found the strength to resist this, but the Donbass always differed from the rest of Ukraine, much like Sevastopol.
On May 2nd 2017, Odessa was relatively calm. About five thousand people gathered yesterday at the Kulikovo Field (the traditional site for the Odessa anti-fascist activists, according to local police data) who came to honor the memory of the deceased. Any collision with Neo-Nazis was avoided. The authorities prepared in advance. Two thousand policemen from other regions of Ukraine were brought to the city. Servicemen of the national guard arrived in the Kulikovo Field in full arms. This prevented the re-occurrence of the slaughterhouse. At the same time, the SBU reported on the detention of several local residents who were preparing a terrorist attack in Odessa using explosives. No details have yet been reported.
So, a repetition of the tragedy of May 2nd did not occur. Poroshenko’s regime is not interested in airing out dirty laundry, especially on the eve of the Eurovision contest, which will be held in Kiev. Preventing large-scale clashes, the authorities able to demonstrate that they were capable of preventing the tragedy of three years ago, given the burning down of the House of Trade Unions took place for several long hours. Therefore, at the future Nuremberg-2 court in the former Ukraine, not only will there be leaders of Nazi groups, but also the then leaders of the Ukrainian state, Turchinov and Avakov in particular, will be on the dock (if they survive until then).
But until this time, new tragedies may occur.
A few days ago, commenting on Sputnik radio, I said that the repetition of the tragedy in Odessa on May 2nd is possible, but it is unlikely (for the above reason – not to spoil the European image of Ukraine). But, unfortunately, the probability of large-scale collisions increases many times on May 9th. A number of Ukrainian Nazis are in power (for example, Shkiryak, adviser to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine; Abroskin, police chief of the Donetsk region) and in the opposition (the OUN – Organization of Ukrainian nationalists, an heir of the Bandera OUN, Kochanivsky, and the leader of Azov and the party if “National Corps” – Biletsky). These people have said that they will not allow such a “sabbath” to dominate Ukrainian streets. Kokhanivsky, for example, called on the “patriots”, that is, the Nazis, to take to the streets of Kiev and disrupt the procession of veterans of the Great Patriotic War.
In turn, the organizers of the Immortal Regiment stated that they will not be afraid to march along the streets of Kiev. A collision is virtually inevitable. The police, I believe, cannot prevent it – the scale and motive are completely different than in Odessa. Therefore, with great probability we will see bloodshed on the streets of Kiev on May 9th. It is my hope that the confrontation will be limited to a smaller number of anti-fascists – Neo-Nazis clearly will not come to the fight with bare hands. Our only hope is in the attention of journalists (especially foreign ones) and the professionalism of the Kiev policemen.

U.S. Syria strike could hit Donbass and Europe, too, to “bring democracy” – Popov

“Trump’s willingness to take such drastic actions means for us a whole new spectrum of opportunities and responsibility.”
Dmitry Kuleba, Ukraine’s permanent representative to the Council of Europe
April 8, 2017 – Fort Russ –
By Eduard Popov – translated by J. Arnoldski –
The missile strike on a Syrian airbase on April 7th by US ships in the Mediterranean Sea buried hopes for a warming of relations between the US and Russia with the ascent of Donald Trump’s White House. The prevailing opinion among Russian experts is that Trump was forced to pursue the previous administration’s foreign policy program in the Middle East. Others argue that Trump’s hardened actions and rhetoric towards Russia are the new US President’s bargaining for giving him a free hand in implementing his domestic program. Yet perhaps these explanations are marked by a degree of confusion and self-deception on our part.
People in Russia see Trump like they want to see him. But Trump the Republican is merely trying to regain America’s role as the main cowboy which it lost after two terms of a Democratic President. Therefore, the clash of US and Russian interests in Syria (and not only Syria) was probably predetermined. And our attempts to explain this as the insidious influence of the Democrats is another self-deception.
The US really did behave in the spirit of a cowboy in bombarding a sovereign state with 59 cruise missiles which hit a base where Russian troops were present. This was probably done even with a view towards them possibly being killed. Fortunately, this did not happen, but Syrian troops were killed. But who can guarantee that Russian or American troops won’t be killed next time?
The situation in Syria’s skies was very disturbing in the last several months of Barack Obama’s presidency. Military experts repeatedly warned of the danger of a high-speed collision of Russian and American aircraft in Syria’s airspace. Yesterday, Russia suspended the memorandum on preventing air incidents over Syria, which means that the probability of a collision, even accidental, only increases. Yet Russia was compelled to take this step, just as it was forced to send the Admiral Grigorovich frigate to the Syrian coast. Russia is responding to US actions with a show of force. These non-allies could at any moment become enemies in not a cold, but hot war.
Frightening news is coming from Europe as well. Western countries and their satellites are being locked in place against Russia. French President Hollande and German Chancellor Merkel expressed solidarity with President Trump’s actions which are an obvious violation of international law. From the point of view of Western countries, political expediency (the desire to “punish” countries deemed “wrong”, such as Syria, Russia, etc.) overrides respect for international law and the basic principle of national sovereignty. 
This gives the US’ European allies justification to intensify NATO encroachment on Russia’s borders as well as close their eyes to the failure of their domestic policies, first and foremost the crisis of migration from Muslim countries. The worsening situation in Syria and strengthening of anti-Russian rhetoric undoubtedly increase the electoral chances of pro-government candidates such as Macron in France and Merkel and the CDU/CSU in Germany. As follows, they avoid the need to explain to the peoples of European the feasibility of building up NATO infrastructure near Russia’s borders and intensifying military exercises in the Baltic states and Poland.
Ukraine, a satellite of the West, rapidly responded to the changing situation. Reports are coming in from Donbass on a supposedly impending UAF attack on the People’s Republics. These concerns are partially confirmed by the statements of Ukrainian diplomats. Ukraine’s’ permanent representative to the Council of Europe, Dmitry Kuleba, stated that the US’ nighttime missile attack on Syria strengthens Kiev’s position “in the war with Russia.” He believes that “Trump’s willingness to take such drastic actions means for us a whole new spectrum of opportunities and responsibility.” This is a more than transparent hint that Ukraine will announce an  offensive on the Donbass republics and hope for the US’ political and military assistance. This Ukrainian diplomat should not have made such a statement which contradicts Minsk-2 and reveals Kiev’s plans, but, as always, emotions triumph over cold calculation in the mind of young Ukrainian diplomacy.
There is every reason to believe that not only will the Middle East, but also the European theater of rivalry between the West and Russia will be aggravated. One does not want to say aloud just how far this confrontation could go. And one really does not want to think that the Old World could turn into a continent on fire in the likes of the Middle East to which US’ cruise missiles will bring democracy.