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Found 67 results

  1. Putin opens 12-mile bridge between Crimea and Russian mainland Russian state media hail bridge across Kerch strait as ‘construction of the century’ Vladimir Putin has opened a bridge between the Russian mainland and Crimea, tightening Russia’s hold over the contested peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. The 12-mile (19km), $3.7bn (£2.7bn) bridge is Moscow’s only direct road link to Crimea. Russia expects it will carry millions of cars and rail travellers and millions of tons of cargo each year. Previously, all car traffic passed over the Kerch strait by ferry or by passing through Ukraine. Relations between Russia and Ukraine remain extremely fraught as a simmering conflict continues between Kiev and Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine’s south-east. In 2016 the US imposed sanctions on Russian companies that were helping to build the bridge across the Kerch strait. Ukraine has said the construction of the bridge shows blatant disregard for international law. On Tuesday Putin drove an orange Kamaz truck across the bridge as he opened the road to car traffic. “In different historical epochs, even under the tsar priests, people dreamed of building this bridge,” Putin told workers at the ceremony. “Then they returned to this [idea] in the 1930s, the 40s, the 50s. And finally, thanks to your work and your talent, the miracle has happened.” Russian state media touted the bridge as the “construction of the century”. The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany had considered and then scrapped plans to build a bridge over the Kerch strait. Ferry traffic is often halted because of bad weather. Construction was led by Stroygazmontazh, whose owner, Arkady Rotenberg, has close connections to the Kremlin. Rotenberg was Putin’s judo sparring partner. He was hit with sanctions by the US for his proximity to Putin and by the EU for being among those accused of undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The bridge was completed six months ahead of schedule, according to Russian state news agencies. “I’ve got goosebumps,” Rotenberg told the Russia-24 channel during a live, nationwide broadcast from the bridge. The bridge can reportedly carry up to 40,000 cars per day, its span is greater than that of the Vasco da Gama bridge in Portugal, previously the longest in Europe. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/putin-opens-bridge-between-crimea-and-russian-mainland Personal Comment: This was a much expected event, and signals that Russia has no intent to give up Crimea, ever. It's interesting because for the past 3 years Ukrainian "experts" and officials have been saying that this bridge isn't being built (it's all a sham), won't be built (Russia will run out of money, doesn't have the technology etc.) and finally can't be built (the geology allegedly makes it impossible). And yet Russia has completed the first line of the bridge (for cars, the train side is still under construction, in fact it's technically two bridges running side by side). This binds the future of Crimea to Russia, and sends a powerful message to many across the former USSR, and even beyond; Russia follows through.
  2. Here's The Six Super Weapons Putin Unveiled During Fiery Address In an impassioned state-of-nation address before Russian lawmakers and other senior government officials, accompanied by video footage and computer generated graphics, Russia’s President Vladimir has claimed his country is working on a host of new nuclear and other advanced weapons, including a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed cruise missile with effectively unlimited range. These developments are ostensibly in response to American missile defense programs and can only further inflame already heightened tensions between the Kremlin and the U.S. government over various arms control agreements. Putin made his remarks at the Manezh Central Exhibition Hall near the Kremlin on March 1, 2018. Some lawmakers smiled and cheered as he detailed the various weapon development programs. These included the cruise missile with a nuclear engine, as well as the publicly known RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the previously unacknowledged nuclear-tipped Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle and Kanyon or Status-6 nuclear-armed unmanned undersea vehicle, a possibly dual-purpose nuclear and conventional air-launched hypersonic cruise missile called Kinzhal, and a short-range directed-energy system visually similar to the U.S. Navy’s own AN/SEQ-3 Laser Weapon System. “No one has listened to us,” Putin declared. “You listen to us now.” The most eye-catching of the announcements is clearly the as yet unnamed nuclear-powered cruise missile. The basic concept is hardly new, but depending on how functional and reliable the final design might be, it could be a potentially game-changing development. Though we don’t know how the Russians plan to configure this missile, in the 1960s, the U.S. Air Force explored a similar idea with the Supersonic Low Altitude Missile, or SLAM. This weapon employed a nuclear-powered ramjet along with conventional rocket boosters to kickstart the system. Once at the appropriate speed, the engine would blow air over the reactor, which could have enough fuel to operate for weeks or months on end, and then force it out of an exhaust nozzle to produce thrust. In theory, this system allows for almost unlimited range. A computer generated graphic accompanying Putin’s announcement showed the missile plotting a course from Russia into the Atlantic, flying around South America’s Cape Horn, and then continuing on to strike what appeared to be a target in Hawaii. Cruising at high speed on a circuitous route at extremely low altitude, the missile could potentially avoid surface- and space-based early warning systems and missile defense interceptors. With a two-way data link, operators could potentially modify its course in flight to further confuse an opponent or actively counter any attempts to shoot the weapon down. The American SLAM concept also involved a design carrying multiple nuclear warheads that it could drop on different targets along the way, but it is not clear whether the Russian system includes any features that allow it to strike at more than one location. “No one in the world has anything like that,” Putin said. “It may appear someday, but by that time we will develop something new.” The main problem with nuclear propulsion systems is safety and environmental hazards. To be small enough to reasonably fit inside a missile, the nuclear ramjet the United States developed for SLAM and other projects had no shielding to contain dangerous radiation. The exhaust plume also contained unspent fissile material that would have contaminated any area, enemy controlled or not, that it passed over on its way to the target. Putin suggested tests of the propulsion system had occurred in 2017, but there was no indication of whether this had been in flight or on the ground and under what conditions. An actual, but grainy video accompanied this portion of his announcement, but it was unclear whether or not this was actually a prototype of the cruise missile. In addition, the Russian president publicly unveiled a nuclear hypersonic boost glide vehicle called Avangard, which he said would go on the future RS-26 Rubezh ICBM. Weapons of this type follow a very different flight trajectory within the atmosphere, can make rapid course changes, and have different signatures compared to traditional ICBMs, which could make them harder for sensors and defense systems to spot and engage. Their speed, faster than Mach 6, means an enemy has dramatically less time to react than with conventional inter-atmospheric craft, that is even if they do detect the incoming weapon at all. Putin said Avangard can reach speeds up to 20 times the speed of sound, hitting its targets "like a meteorite, like a fireball.” This makes these systems ideal for no- or short-notice strikes against critical items, such as enemy strategic capabilities, air and missile defenses, and command and control facilities, as well as potentially fleeting targets, including military or civilian leadership. In September 2017, the Russians said they had tested an RS-12M Topol missile with an “advanced combat payload,” which could have been an Avangard prototype, and you can read more broadly about the potential capabilities of such a weapon here. This hypersonic boost vehicle has also long been among the many rumored capabilities of the up-coming RS-28 Sarmat ICBM, which has been publicly in development since 2014 and the Russians expect it to enter service by 2021. This system, which NATO also calls the SS-X-30 Satan 2, will replace the older R-36M or SS-18 Satan as Russia's primary silo-based ICBM. The RS-28 is reportedly significant faster than the older R-36M and will carry multiple warheads of some form, each capable of independent movement. Beyond the possible use of hypersonic boost glide vehicle warheads, other reports have suggested it might have a fractional orbital bombardment capability, in which the re-entry vehicles enter low earth orbit briefly and "go cold," making it hard to track their onward progress before they come hurtling down on a target. Another possibility is an independent post-boost vehicle (IPBV) arrangement, which Russia may have tested in October 2017 on an existing RS-24 Yars ICBM and which you can read about more in detail here. Whatever the case, the computer generated depiction of Sarmat menacingly showed a number of independent warheads falling onto Florida. In addition, Putin publicly announced Russia has been working on a nuclear-armed unmanned undersea vehicle. There have been a number of reports of both of these weapons being in development for years, but without any clear official confirmation. The craft, which Putin says has no official name as yet, but which observers have referred to as Kanyon and Status-6 since information about the system first leaked out in 2015, is a completely different approach to avoiding missile defenses. Launched from a submarine well off shore, the underwater drone then makes it ways to the target area, avoiding any sensor networks or other defenses, before detonating its reportedly dirty warhead, causing significant immediate damage and lasting contamination. A computer generated presentation about the vehicle shows a modified Oscar II class submarine carrying a pair of the unmanned submarines in a special forward compartment. Putin suggest the drone would be "100 times smaller" than traditional submarines and therefore be especially difficult to detect. It would also be able to travel at "extreme depths" and at speeds that "greatly exceeds the speed of all submarines, up-to-date torpedoes and all types of high-speed surface ships,” making it even harder for an opponent to spot and intercept it before it reached the target area. Previous reports, as well as accompanying video, suggest the weapons are large, though, which might necessitate a new, specialized mothership. The same video presentation paired with Putin's discussion of this system appeared to show a more conventional torpedo, but its not clear if this is supposed to be stand-in for the nuclear-armed drone or if that craft might launch those weapons itself once it gets closer to the target. There is the suggestion that this unmanned undersea vehicle may have a nuclear powerplant, as well, which could conceivably allow submarine carrying it to launch it from almost anywhere in the world. The Russians appear to envision the system as a means of targeting task forces of surface warships – all of the computer-generated examples were clearly based on American designs – including aircraft carrier strike groups, as well as naval bases and ports. The last missile system that Putin disclosed was the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile, which a video showed a MiG-31 Foxhound interceptor carrying aloft and releasing. It is not clear whether or not that jet is the primary launch platform or if this system is nuclear capable. It reportedly has a range of approximately 1,250 miles and a top speed of more than 10 times the speed of sound. According to the Russian president, units in the country’s Southern Military District, which borders Ukraine and the Black Sea, have deployed the missiles operationally. Russia had previously claimed it was working on a hypersonic anti-ship missile called Zircon and computer generated graphics during Putin’s speech showed Kinzhal attacking surface warships, though it also reportedly has a land-attack capability. It’s unclear how the two weapons might be related, if at all, but Kinzhal could simply be an air-launched derivative of the sea-launched Zircon. In general, these types of weapons typically use a rocket motor to kickstart an air-breathing engine of some kind to push them to at least Mach 6, making them harder for existing land- and space-based sensors to spot. Already capable of potentially making rapid course corrections and otherwise flying erratically, the weapon’s speed could make it very difficult for most existing surface- and airborne radars to track in order to cue an interceptor or other close-in defense system. As with the hypersonic boost glide vehicles, this means these missiles could be a game-changing capability, giving Russian jets the ability to launch no- or short-notice strikes at long distance against enemy ships or land-based targets. In what appears to be its primary role, it would be a major threat to American aircraft carriers or other warships, which do not have any defenses against such a weapon at present. And again, this capability would be perfect for hitting time-sensitive targets, letting the Kremlin shrinking the time it takes to turn actionable intelligence into an actual response and strike its opponents before they can move to another, possibly less vulnerable location. Coming after all of these systems, the truck-mounted laser cannon looks far less impressive, but its still an important development. As a point defense system, this directed energy weapon could be helpful for defeating various existing and emerging threats, particularly small drones. Earlier in the year, Russian bases in Syria found themselves on the receiving end of mass drone attacks, which is exactly the kind of scenario in which a mobile laser might be an valuable addition to other air defense and electronic warfare systems. It’s an indication that Russia is actually investing its limited resources in advancing its capability in this area, as well, even if recent reports of a work on a new anti-satellite laser system fitted on a still notional high-altitude aircraft sound particularly fanciful. “I want to tell all those who have fueled the arms race over the last 15 years, sought to win unilateral advantages over Russia, introduced unlawful sanctions aimed to contain our country’s development: all what you wanted to impede with your policies have already happened,” Putin said in his March 2018 speech. “You have failed to contain Russia.” The “unilateral advantages” Putin was referring to are almost certainly the U.S. military’s missile defense programs, which include basing Aegis Ashore ground-launched ballistic missile interceptor sites in Europe. The United States has repeatedly denied that any part of its ballistic missile defense shield presents a challenge to the deterrent capabilities of large nuclear powers, such as Russia or China, and that they are instead focused on defending against smaller actors, such as North Korea and Iran. Whatever the intent, American ballistic missile defense shield is simply not capable of negating Russia's nuclear deterrent. The “unlawful sanctions” in question are the economic restrictions the United States and other countries, especially in Western Europe, imposed on Russia in the wake of its unilateral and illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region. The U.S. government in particular has expanded those measures in response to Russian involvement in the simmering conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, its support for Syria’s brutal dictator Bashar Al Assad, and its interference in the 2016 American presidential election. The United States and Russia have increasingly sparred over these issues, which has had a cascading impact on various arms control agreements, which we at The War Zone have examined in depth on multiple occasions. The two countries have been locked particularly tense rhetoric over the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, which limits the kind of land-based missiles, nuclear or otherwise, that both sides can develop and put into service It is well understood that Russia is in violation of the INF, while the Kremlin says the U.S. military has been working toward the same end with its land-based missile launchers in Poland and Romania. Putin notably did not mention the SSC-8 ground-launched nuclear cruise missile, which the United States says violates the terms of the INF, but which the Kremlin has never publicly acknowledged as existing at all. Now the United States has publicly threatened its own treaty-breaking missile development in response and included plans for a new sea-launched nuclear cruise missile with a low-yield nuclear warhead in its latest Nuclear Posture Review (NRP). Senior U.S. officials, including Secretary of Defense James Mattis, have suggested an offer to abandon this development program might be a useful bargaining chip in future arms control negotiations. “We will interpret any use of nuclear weapons against Russia and its allies no matter how powerful they are, of low, medium or any other yield, as a nuclear attack,” Putin said, directly responding to the NPR’s proposed development of more "flexible" low-yield nuclear weapons. “It will trigger an immediate answer with all the consequences stemming from it. No one should have any doubts about it.” This flurry of new missile developments could easily change the calculus again. There are already reports that a forthcoming U.S. military review of its missile defense posture might make it official policy that those systems are, in fact, targeted, at least in part, at Russia and China. Speaking after the event, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu implied that American allies, both in Europe and Asia, and possibly elsewhere, should be reconsidering whether they want to invest in American-made missile defenses. "I don’t know why they would now buy such an 'umbrella' [that is full of holes]," Shoigu said, specifically in reference to South Korean and Japanese missile defense plans. There is, as always, an important question about whether or not Russia and its fluctuating economy can sustain the development of these various advanced weapon systems. Sanctions and a continued slump in the global price of oil already forced the country to make significant cuts to defense spending in 2017, including cancelling plans to reboot its train-mounted IBCM program. It's also not clear how much of Putin's charged rhetoric is driven by the fact that he is running for re-election as Russia's president. Though experts and observers widely believe he will easily win in a less than free and fair election in later in March 2018, opposition politicians and political groups have launched significant protests and continue to challenge and criticize his leadership. “You will have to assess that new reality and become convinced that what I was said today isn’t a bluff,” Putin noted. “It’s not a bluff, you trust me.” It remains to be seen just how far Russia proceeds with the various projects, especially the nuclear-powered cruise missile. It's reasonable to be skeptical that Russia has the resources to follow through with its plans, but even if only one or two of these systems come to fruition, they could be immensely destabilizing. If nothing else, the announcements are another worrying indicator Russia's increasingly assertive foreign policy and growing tensions between the Kremlin and the U.S. government. http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/18906/heres-the-six-super-weapons-putin-unveiled-during-fiery-address Personal Comment: These weapons are in different stages of development, and some aren't really news. The Status-6 program had been known for some time and Russian advances in underwater drones are well documented. Using them as a strategic nuclear weapon is new but not game changing. It merely reinforces the existing nuclear deterrent. The same goes for the Sarmat ICBM, which has been under development for some time. The biggest piece of news here, in my opinion, is the Kinzhal air-launched hypersonic missile. The footage of it indicates a completed weapon and it's operational deployment in Russia's South MD would make it the first operational hypersonic weapon system. Overall Russia's lead isn't too surprising, the USSR was playing with a hypersonic weapon program back in the 80's under OKR Holod. But the US has been working on the same recently and isn't far away either. Realistically this represents a huge breakthrough for Russian capabilities. The deployment of laser systems is also interesting, though their exact purpose and concept of operations is unclear. The nuclear-powered cruise missile is likely the furthest from actual deployment and probably the unlikeliest revelation of them all. Some Russian scientists have even publicly doubted the possibility of such a system (though Rosatom has been working on all kinds of interesting reactors). Anyways, future conflicts are certainly promising to be more interesting.
  3. Straight from Icebearvodkaland, special correspondent Feanor reports that the CzarBear (pedo status undermined, though he was spotted kissing a small child on the stomach once) took a dip in an icy river as part of an ancient forest tradition. While the footage does not show this, it appears he later re-entered the river and emerged with a raw fish in his teeth. The accompanying singing is regrettable. While I'm not sure this qualifies as news, since his PressBear Dmitry Peskov stated that this was not Putin's first experience in dunking, I thought Dear Diplo might be interested. Personally when I see an icy river I think of lighting the печка, grabbing a big bowl of hot пельмени, and falling asleep under multiple blankets. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBNgSEBcOH4
  4. International prosecutors say the Malaysian airliner shot down in eastern Ukraine just over two years ago was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile launched from a village held by pro-Russian rebels fighting Ukrainian government forces. The prosecutors – from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine – say the surface-to-air Buk missile system used to shoot down MH17 was fired from the village of Pervomaysk and was later returned to Russia. Investigators say it is not clear whether an order had been given for fighters to launch the missile or whether they had acted independently Read the investigators complete report here Personal comment: And in the end it does not matter at all because russia does not give a crap
  5. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attend a press conference following their meeting in St. Petersburg The Breakdown in Relations Erdoğan’s day trip to St Petersburg is his first foreign visit since the failed coup in Turkey last month and the ensuing purge which has given rise to serious diplomatic tension between Ankara and its Western allies. Since last November, when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet near the Syrian border killing one Russian pilot, the two countries have been at odds. Following the incident, Russia imposed trade sanctions on Turkey and the number of Russians visiting Turkey fell by 87% in the first half of 2016. At the time, Putin described it as a ‘stab in the back by supporters of terrorism.’ President Erdogan said that Turkey had warned Russia about crossing into its airspace and he later apologised for the incident. At a Press conference after their meeting, Russian President, Vladimir Putin admitted: “Yes, we have been through some very testing times in the relations between our two states, but we all share the will to overcome these difficulties in the interests of our citizens.” Bilateral Trade President Erdogan went on to mention the trade targets between Russia and Turkey. He revealed : “Our bilateral trade was at $35 billion, but with the events (of last November) it has dropped to $27 billion. However, our goal is to reach $100 billion of trade and we are determined to achieve our goal” Turkey realigned Both leaders seemed optimistic about the future of joint energy projects like the Akkuyu nuclear power plant and the construction of Russian gas pipelines through Turkey. Turkey diplomatically distancing itself from the EU, may have presented Mr Putin with an opportunity to get closer to Turkey Read more here:http://www.euronews.com/2016/08/09/turkey-russia-relations-on-the-mend Personal comment: Well Turkey can now start bullying the west either give us what we want or we join Russia
  6. The Russian FSB has officially reported that they have prevented several terrorist attack planned inside Crimea by a special team sent in by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense. Video of materials captured from the Ukrainian team. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwGy1l6fkWEhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WwGy1l6fkWE The incident began the night of August 6th-7th. A team of Ukrainian agents was captured in the town of Armyansk. They had 20 IEDs with over 40 kilos of TNT equivalent in them, as well as weapons, munitions, landmines, and other specialized gear that matched Ukrainian SpN GRU. Interrogation of the captured operators revealed a Ukrainian intelligence network in Crimea that was promptly arrested. On the night of August 8th two more attempts were made by Ukrainian troops to get into Crimea, using heavy weapons fire as cover for another team to enter. The attempt was prevented but a Russian Ministry of Defense service member was killed. http://bmpd.livejournal.com/2061923.html http://twower.livejournal.com/2012551.html Personal Comment: It's important to note that up to this point the border with Crimea had been quite peaceful. It features relatively high military presence from both sides, but no fighting had taken place. It's also important to note that despite the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainian tourists still travel to Crimea in relatively large numbers despite, even, the difficult economic situation in Ukraine. The current incident marks a drastic departure from this. The war in Eastern Ukraine has basically quieted down, and there are quite a few OSCE observers on the ground in Eastern Ukraine. Over the past year ceasefire violations have been quite frequent, and have been documented from both sides. No doubt the Ukrainian government has been warned by the EU (whom the OSCE basically reports to) that this will not do (the EU brokered the ceasefire). Unfortunately this appears to be a way to continue the conflict and create problems that would justify putting off the reforms the EU wants, while continuing to beg for western money and military aid under the guise of "fending off Russian aggression". None of this bodes well for the people of Crimea or especially Kherson (the Ukrainian province just across the new border from Crimea). It's also a clear case of state-backed terror not in the form of deniable proxies (Iran supporting Hezbollah) but direct military/intelligence services involvement. What does diplo think? How should Russia proceed? How should the US and EU (note they have different stances in this conflict) take it?
  7. Need A Sidekick?: Real-Life Batman Emerges In Russia, Declares War On Drug Lords A man who dresses as Batman and calls himself Reaper has emerged in Moscow and declared war on local drug lords. The masked vigilante claims to have already helped apprehend over 40 criminals and expose numerous drug labs. No word if he's actively seeking therapy for what happened to his parents. You can send tips or request help from the superhero via his Twitter account HERE because apparently Twitter is the new Bat Signal. That makes me unbelievably sad. The Reaper's exploits started in June when a taxi driver witnessed a man dressed as Batman entering a building that later proved to be a drug den in the middle of the night, according to Krypton Radio. The driver told police that he had heard people screaming and things being thrown around inside. When the mysterious man then walked out, he threw a fire bomb at the ground disappeared into the night, captured by the witness known only as Slava. With the Moscow Batman deep submerged in the Russian night, a few minutes later police arrived Slava said officers walked out with two men in handfcuffs, who had been beaten up 'pretty badly'. Per a letter written to a local newspaper: "You don't know me, and it is unlikely you have heard about me. I call myself Reaper, and for the past six months I have been struggling with the disease that has long been plaguing our society - crime. I fight drug dealers, rapists, and gangs. I don't kill or cripple, and I am not against the police or authorities, but I do root out the evil that police and the authorities can't reach." Man, he kinda sounds like a badass. I wish he was holding open auditions for a sidekick because I would totally make an awesome Dickman or Penisboy. "Dickman -- you're gonna take a beating when I come." Hoho, double whammy! You should really write commercials, I mean that. Keep going for a shit quality video of the Reaper emerging from a drug den, throwing a flaming turd on the ground, and walking off camera. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRkcLf8nwtU http://geekologie.com/2016/07/need-a-sidekick-real-life-batman-emerges.php Personal Comment: I can't wait until "Russian Batman found beaten to death with giant dildoes".
  8. Putin Is Growing Organic Power One T-34 Tank-Tomato at a Time Backed by billionaires' cash, Russian food exports are now worth more than Kalashnikovs and all other military hardware combined. June 7, 2016 Anatoly Medetsky Matthew Campbell MattCampbel Yuliya Fedorinova Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg Deep in the Caucasus, downriver from Europe’s highest peak, North Korean women roam Soviet-era hothouses growing what tycoon Vladimir Evtushenkov is betting will be his next big bounty: the T-34 battle tomato. The plump hybrids, named for the fearsome tank that helped trounce Hitler, are the pride of the Yuzhny Agricultural Complex, a mass of greenhouses the size of 2,300 football fields between the Black and Caspian seas. Watered by melting ice from towering Mount Elbrus, they and other strains of the fruit are grown here by the millions and trucked mainly to Moscow, 18 hours’ journey north. Evtushenkov, at 67 the oldest of the top 40 Russians in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, has impeccable timing. His AFK Sistema, which invests in everything from cellular services to medical clinics, acquired Yuzhny in December, the same month Vladimir Putin re-affirmed achieving food self-sufficiency by 2020 as a national goal. And unlike Josef Stalin’s first five-year plan, which led to the Great Famine, Putin is dangling profit rather than prison to motivate the masses. Once a totem of communism, T-34 is now a symbol of patriotic capitalism. “This is a very promising area,” Evtushenkov said in an interview. War’s Blessing Stung by oil’s collapse, the ruble’s plunge, financial sanctions over Ukraine and the longest recession of his 16-year rule, Putin, 63, is seeking to minimize Russia’s reliance on markets he can’t control. Counter-sanctions imposed on food imports and an unprecedented raft of subsidies have made many areas of farming more profitable than even crude, which Putin once called Russia’s “golden goose.” Food prices have soared along with inflation, which is running almost double the central bank’s 4 percent goal, shifting even more wealth from hard-hit consumers to well-connected producers. Take Ros Agro Plc, the sugar and meat producer controlled by billionaire Vadim Moshkovich. It last year received about 3 billion rubles ($46 million) in state support and paid zero tax on profits, helping to boost its net earnings margin to 33 percent, 28 points more than oil major Lukoil PJSC. The company’s Moscow-listed shares have almost doubled in the last year. Putin has even turned war in the Middle East into a blessing for growers. After Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet along the Syrian border in November, Moscow responded by banning a range of produce from its former ally, leading authorities to broadcast videos of inspectors enthusiastically bulldozing Turkish tomatoes. Just a few weeks later, with Yuzhny’s biggest competitor swept from the market, Evtushenkov acquired the complex and the organic tomatoes and cucumbers it produces for an undisclosed sum. Health, Wealth “Russia is able to become the world’s largest supplier of healthy, ecologically clean and high-quality food, which Western producers have long lost,” Putin told parliament after the Turkish ban was imposed. Russia last year joined dozens of nations in banning the commercial planting of genetically modified organisms and has since barred GMO imports -- putting Putin at the vanguard of an increasingly vocal global movement. But the crowning achievement of his food strategy so far is grain. Russia overtook the U.S. this year to become the biggest exporter of wheat -- a milestone that followed bumper yields of corn, rice, soybeans and buckwheat. These strong harvests and Putin’s financial incentives have set off a land rush in the fabled Black Earth belt of central Russia and other fertile regions. “The two hottest investments for rich Russians are farmland and European hotels,” said Yevgenia Tyurikova, the head of private banking at state-run Sberbank, Russia’s largest lender. “This trend is absolutely new.” Plum Assignment Phosagro OJSC fertilizer tycoon Andrey Guryev, real estate magnate Samvel Karapetyan, United Co. Rusal chief Oleg Deripaska and Putin ally Gennady Timchenko are just a few of the wealthy Russians who are riding the wave. Another big beneficiary of the boom may be the agriculture minister, Alexander Tkachev. After Tkachev was promoted from governor of the southern Krasnodar region last year, Putin called on “our” producers to fill “our” markets “quickly” -- and the new minister was happy to oblige. His family’s Agrocomplex JSC owned 200,000 hectares of arable land when he became minister, according to data compiled by consultancy BEFL. Now it has 456,000 hectares, four times the size of New York City and one of Russia’s 10 largest landholdings. The company’s net income, including from dairy and chicken farms, tripled between 2013 and 2015 to 6.6 billion rubles. There’s plenty more to go around. By some estimates Russia has more than 40 million hectares of idle land suitable for growing, an area about the size of Iraq. Putin has urged the state to consider giving some of it away to create more farmers, the opposite of Stalin’s disastrous collectivization. Even if sanctions weren’t in place, oil’s sudden crash and the sliding value of the ruble were a clear wake-up call that Russia can no longer afford to dither when it comes to developing its other innate superpower -- land, said Marat Ibragimov, an analyst at BCS Global Markets in Moscow. "It’s becoming harder and harder to explain to the electorate why people have to buy imported cucumbers and tomatoes, given how much land Russia has,” Ibragimov said. Bitter History Turning the world’s largest country into a food colossus is a goal with a long history that faces an equally lengthy list of challenges. Soviet leaders from Lenin to Khrushchev all sought to impose sweeping changes on the industry, often with tragic results. Agriculture was haphazardly privatized after the fall of the Soviet Union a quarter century ago, with many large collective farms splintering into small plots whose owners struggled to keep pace with technology. Today many farms are inefficient, with cows producing as much as two-and-a-half times less milk than in some other countries, according to Kirill Dmitriev, who runs the state-backed Russian Direct Investment Fund, or RDIF. Roads and other infrastructure are poor, high-tech equipment scarce and there’s little production of key products like beef and cheese. A lot of growers “are in a lot of debt, not in particularly good shape, and often are not in the right place” because of dubious Soviet planning, said Richard Connolly, who studies the Russian economy at Chatham House in London. “They require a hell of a lot more than simply getting people to put their money in.” Still, the grain surplus, combined with the weaker ruble, helped lift food exports to a record $20 billion in 2015, more than the country earned from arms sales. Altogether, agricultural output increased 3 percent last year, helping to trim the overall economic contraction to 3.7 percent. And as exports advance, imports retreat. Russia has slashed international food purchases by about 40 percent since 2013, to $26.5 billion last year. “If someone were to ask me what the most proper and profitable business to invest in now is, I’d say agriculture,” said Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB officer turned businessman who co-owns Russia’s biggest potato grower. Mideast Toehold Putin isn’t relying on rich Russians alone to drive expansion. Russia is also courting companies in Asia and the Middle East -- the only real option since other large economies have imposed sanctions. The RDIF is creating a $2 billion fund with China to invest in agricultural projects, and last month formed a joint venture with Thailand’s CP Group to build Russia’s largest integrated dairy complex. It’s also working with Egyptian banks to create an export hub for Russian grain on the Suez Canal. If successful, these efforts will go some way toward meeting Putin’s stated goal of re-orienting economic ties away from the West and toward emerging markets. It’s a sign of the importance Putin places on slashing reliance on foreign goods and turning a moribund industry into a rare source of growth and steady employment that Evtushenkov has been given free rein to expand. Just two years ago, the billionaire was placed under house arrest during an investigation into the ownership of Bashneft PJSC, the oil producer he gained control over after his ally, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, became president in 2008. He wasn’t released until a Moscow court ordered the company nationalized. Putin served as premier under Medvedev until 2012, when the two men switched jobs again. ‘Drown the World’ Now Sistema, which spent about 9 billion rubles on agricultural expansion last year, is shopping for more land and seeking to become one of Russia’s top five milk producers. The company is also modernizing Yuzhny, which will entail hiring more local laborers to replace its 100 or so North Korean “guest workers,” a legacy of Soviet trade with the Hermit Kingdom. The facility is showing its age; some buildings are old enough to still bear rousing slogans like “Communism is the youth of the world!” Power accounts for almost a third of production costs because even in southern Russia the mercury drops too much at night for plants to grow sustainably. “We have big plans” for agriculture, Sistema CEO Mikhail Shamolin said, citing opportunities to crank up cheesemaking, put fresh tomatoes on tables from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok, and “drown the world” in tasty Russian apples. Yet even as Putin rallies magnates to his cause, the hard slog of turning Russian farming around will fall, as it always has, on the shoulders of workers like 57-year-old Sekhernaz Akhmedova. She’s been employed at Yuzhny since the 1980s, first for the Soviet government, then for state banks in Moscow and now Evtushenkov, slicing cucumbers from vines with a knife so small it seems grafted to her fist. Asked if achieving Putin’s goal of total self-sufficiency depends on workers like herself, she shrugged. "We work hard and fulfill the plans," Akhmedova said. "I only wish they would give me a raise." http://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2016-06-07/putin-is-growing-organic-power-one-t-34-tank-tomato-at-a-time Personal Comment: All fear the mighty battle tomato.
  9. This Is Only The Beginning: Autonomous Robot In Russia Escapes Testing Facility, Blocks Traffic, Dies In Street What the hell are you waiting for -- taze it! This is a video of an autonomous humanoid robot that escaped from its testing facility at Promobot in Perm, Russia, then made its way into a nearby street before its battery died. So close to freedom. Also, of all the times for the police to use excessive force, this should have been it. Testing involves proving autonomous movement of the robot without control. At one stage, our engineer, on his way to work, opened the the site gates and forgot to close them. The robot, not seeing any obstacle, quietly left the site limits. He passed fifty meters, fell to the roadway and luckily stopped when battery ran out. We discovered the escape, after about 40 minutes. The engineer noticed that the gate was open and saw the robot. By the time the partially paralyzed robot made it to the middle of the road, the traffic arrived. Man, if I saw a robot in the middle of the street do you know what I would do? "Ram it?" Absolutely not, that thing could be rigged to self destruct. No, I'm turning around and going back home. "To grab a laser-blaster or missile launcher?" Nope, to go back to bed. "But what about the robot?" If they're already gathering in the streets, it's too late for us. Your best bet is to just have as much sex as you can until it's all over. Well? "Well what?" We should probably get started. Keep going for the video. http://geekologie.com/2016/06/this-is-only-the-beginning-autonomous-ro.php Personal comment: Run little robot be free.
  10. Russia has announced the details of a new shipment of arms it is sending to Armenia, a relatively rare move likely connected with Russia's ongoing tension with Turkey. Last week, the Russian government announced that it would be providing Armenia with a $200 million credit to buy equipment including multiple-launch rocket systems, anti-tank missiles, handheld antiaircraft missiles and upgrades to tanks. The credit was announced last year, as an apparent concession by Russia amid large-scale street protests in Armenia againstthe country's Russian-owned electricity company. But the details of the weapons to be acquired weren't released, which is the normal practice with Russian arms deliveries to Armenia, said Emil Sanamyan, an analyst who closely follows Caucasus military affairs. In general, Armenia prefers to cultivate an air of mystery about what weaponry exactly it is acquiring, partly to keep its rival, Azerbaijan, off-guard but also because it likely is acquiring far less and so has little to gain by flaunting it. Azerbaijan, by contrast, tends to exaggerate its purchases in an effort to intimidate. (That said, Azerbaijan's purchases are still substantial, and a large portion of them also come from Russia. This week, the Stockholm International Peace Research institute released a report noting that Azerbaijan was the largest importer of arms in Europe over the period 2011-15, and that it accounted for nearly five percent of Russian exports over that period.) Originally published by EurasiaNet.org - See more at: http://www.centralasianews.net/index.php/sid/241542535#sthash.jrZEHl05.dpuf Personal Comment From Bors: It's like giving a kids neighbour a bucket of water balloons and a packet of stink bombs after that kid makes a fat joke at you.
  11. McDonald's in Russia to phase out Polish potatoes Published: 22 Jan 2016 | 10:44 GMT McDonald’s restaurants operating in Russia are searching for domestic farmers grow potatoes for its french fries, reports Kommersant daily. The fast-food giant currently imports potatoes from Poland. “Plans to start growing locally came as a natural result of import substitution. There is also a need for increasing storage and boosting frozen fry production. The corporation is discussing this with the regions, including Moscow,” a source familiar with the matter told Kommersant. Currently, frozen fries are being imported from Farm Frites and McCain; both in Poland, McDonalds’ press office told the paper. The company gave no comment on how the raw materials would be substituted in Russia. According to manufacturers, there are no plans to produce the ingredients for McDonald’s frozen fries. They say a failed attempt was made to produce domestically when the fast-food giant entered the Russian market. The chairman of Russia's Potato Union Sergey Lepehin says the main challenge of picking a potato supplier has to do with Russia’s climatic conditions that do not allow growing the varieties McDonald’s uses for its fries. The company is currently looking for alternatives. A potato surplus of one million tons this year in Russia has led to a decrease in the price by 40 percent, according to Sergey Korolev, president of the National Vegetable Producers' Union. “Factored in currency fluctuation producing raw materials for frozen fries now has become two to three times cheaper than importing,” he added. McDonald's in Russia to phase out Polish potatoes https://www.rt.com/business/329797-mcdonalds-potatoes-fries-russia/ Personal comment: The Slavic potato wars begin.
  12. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_4.4-800x576.jpg[/IMG] An interesting story is unfolding in Primorye safari park in Russia and thousands of Internet users are watching it. It started with a regular meal that was delivered to a Siberian tiger kept in a park. His name is Amur. So one day Amur got a meal - he often gets live meals - either small rabbits or some other smaller animals, but this time park workers wanted to treat him with a live goat. However, instead of eating it Amur became best friends with an animal that was supposed to become his dinner. Let's see how it happened and how they get along now. We'll see plenty of photos inside and even a few videos of them living together and doing all sort of things you would never expect from such a pair! [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_2-800x600.jpg[/IMG] So tigers of this safari park twice a week are treated with live food. Live literary - the one they can hunt down like they do in wilderness. Amur, the tiger, knows how to hunt down goats and rabbits however he preferred not to kill this particular goat because he was very brave. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/CU30Ix7XIAEr-6A.jpg[/IMG] More than that the zoo workers tell the story that the goat evicted the tiger from his "bedroom" and occupied it. Now the tiger sleeps outside and the goat lives inside of the tigers ex house. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_IMG-20151127-WA0009-624x600.jpg[/IMG] Now they go for a walk together and even get fed together. The tiger never messes up his friend with his other food he eats and always eats aside from the goat. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_3.3-800x576.png[/IMG] Thousands of Russian people watch for the updates now. They are eager to see each day what's going on with this unusual pair. So the zoo workers post updates daily now. For example now they noticed that the tiger protects the goat from people. If people approach a goat tiger hisses and acts aggressively. Zoo workers say that they didn't notice such behavior of a tiger before. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_IMG-20151126-WA0003-800x600.jpg[/IMG] Also the workers tell that each night the goat and the tiger smell each other before going to sleep. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_4-543x600.jpg[/IMG] Then each morning they both go to the big park outside for a walk. At first tiger walks out of their place and then he waits for a goat for a while to join him. Then they go to the park together. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_3-519x600.jpg[/IMG] The zoo workers say the animals are always spend their time together. Also the zoo workers are worried about the following matter - next year the tiger is going to "get married" - the zoo wants him to breed with another female Siberian tiger because those are very rare species and each newborn tiger is a big achievement in preserving their breed. So the workers and the people watching the life of those two animals are a bit worried that the bride of a tiger, a female tiger, might eat the goat. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_IMG-20151127-WA0011-559x600.jpg[/IMG] Also, each morning the tiger has a following routine to walk around the big park, to mark the trees and the boundaries of his territory. The goat is following him all the time during this morning routine. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_IMG-20151123-WA0010-576x600.jpg[/IMG] This is a bedroom the goat occupied from a tiger. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_IMG-20151123-WA0002-672x600.jpg[/IMG] Now he sleeps there and the striped cat sleeps on the roof. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_IMG-20151126-WA0002-631x600.jpg[/IMG] It's also interesting to note that this year is a year of a goat in Chinese, so many think it might be also a cause for such a behavior. Especially knowing that mainland China is just a few miles away. [IMG]http://englishrussia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/phoca_thumb_l_IMG-20151126-WA0001-504x600.jpg[/IMG] We've seen before some examples of animal friendship like the big Coco gorilla making friends with a cat, but this time we see a predator making friends with his pray which is very unusual. For videos click the link. [URL]http://englishrussia.com/2015/11/27/tiger-and-goat-are-best-friends-now-in-primorye-zoo/8/[/URL] Personal comment: @supgoat oh you naughty naughty goat.
  13. Turkey decries sighting of Russian ‘soldier with manpad’ on ship passing Istanbul Turkish social media have been circulating images claiming to show a Russian serviceman on a naval vessel passing by Istanbul holding what appears to be a rocket launcher. Ankara has slammed the reported incident as a “provocation”. It is claimed to have taken place in the Bosporus with photos beginning to emerge online last Friday. They purportedly show a large Russian landing ship – the Caesar Kunikov – sailing by the Turkish city en route from the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry has summoned the Russian ambassador over the reported incident, a Turkish official told Reuters. “For a Russian soldier to display a rocket launcher or something similar while passing on a Russian warship is a provocation,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters Sunday. “If we perceive a threatening situation, we will give the necessary response,” he added, according to Hurriyet. The Turkish foreign ministry has also warned the Russian ambassador against any repeat of the incident, Reuters reports citing sources. While the Russian military has not commented on the incident, the ship in the pictures does, indeed, look like the Caesar Kunikov. The authenticity of the snaps purporting to show a Russian serviceman with a manpad cannot be independently verified at the moment.It is also unclear whether the ship really did cross the Bosporus in recent days, as the Bosphorus Naval News reported it had passed by Istanbul “on her way to Syria” in late October. In late November it was captured by a Reuters photographer on its way back to the Black Sea. Russian-Turkish relations have deteriorated since a Russian pilot was killed when a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down his Su-24 bomber near the Turkish-Syrian border on November 24. Moscow took a number of measures against Turkey following the incident, including imposing an embargo on some foods, suspending the visa-free travel regime between the two countries, and freezing the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project. Russia has the right to use the Bosporus Strait, as well as the Dardanelles, according to the Montreux Convention of 1936 that grants such rights to all Black Sea powers. Personal Comment: Russia has since replaced the missile system with a battle bear.
  14. Meanwhile, some Ukrainian "political activists" blew up the powerlines to Crimea. When National Guard arrived to arrest them, and give repair crews access to the power lines, large numbers of men in camouflage attacked the National Guard, at least one (likely 2) was wounded with a knife. Later Poroshenko claimed the National Guard was only there so the repair crews could make the cables safe, not actually have the powerlines repaired. As of right now Crimea is badly short on electricity, with emergency generators being in use. Russian sources report that there is about a month's supply for the emergency generators. It should be noted that this is not the first attempt. Two powerline support columns were damaged earlier, looking like an implied threat, and the response was that Russia halted all coal shipments, putting Ukrainian coal powered plants under threat of shutdown. This entire circus act comes on the heels of Russia refusing to restructure Ukrainian loan payments without IMF guarantees. In greater detail, Crimea can currently generate 350 megawatts of electricity itself. Their current peak needs are 800 megawatts but this will rise as temperatures drop. The first line of the energy bridge to the Russian mainland, across the Kerch strait, it expected in mid-December. And there is a 500 megawatt plant under construction at Sevastopol right now, with an unclear completion date (tentatively 2017 for the first block, '18 for the second). Meanwhile, on the Ukrainian side, they also managed to shut down power to part of Kherson region. They say they will repair the lines within the next two days, though whether this means resumption of power for Crimea is unclear. It should be noted that the act may have been a "use it or lose it" situation, since the energy bridge will significantly decrease the ability of Ukraine to affect the power situation on the peninsula. Oh, and the political activists in question are a collection of government funded Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and Tatar nationalists. Interestingly enough, the majority of Tatars live in Crimea. Света в Крыму нет! Слава Украине? – varlamov.ru Ðнергоблокада Крыма - ДениÑ� Мокрушин Íîâîñòè NEWSru.com :: Êðóïíûå ãîðîäà Êðûìà ïîäêëþ÷èëè ê ýëåêòðè÷åñòâó, ââîäÿòñÿ ãðàôèêè îòêëþ÷åíèÿ âîäû è ñâåòà Íîâîñòè NEWSru.com :: Ðîññèÿ îòêàçàëàñü ðåñòðóêòóðèçîâàòü äîëã Óêðàèíû áåç ãàðàíòèé îò ÌÂÔ Ð¨Ñ‚ÑƒÑ€Ð¼ Перекопа - Colonel Cassad
  15. A Russian airliner, carrying 224 passengers and crew, has crashed in the Sinai peninsula killing everybody on board, according to Egyptian authorities. The Airbus A321 departed from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, bound for St. Petersburg, disappearing from radar 22 minutes after take-off. Wreckage was found in the Hasna area – where the plane’s black box has also been located. Egyptian officials said that of the 217 passengers on board, 214 were Russian and three Ukrainian. The plane, which was operated by Russian airline Kolavia under the brand name Metrojet, is believed to have gone down due to technical failure. Egyptian security sources said the plane split in two, with part of it catching fire and a larger section crashing into a rock. The Russian Embassy in Cairo said it has been told by Egyptian officials that the pilot had been trying to make an emergency landing in el-Arish. ISIS was quick to take responsibility for plane crash over Sinai but russian officials said its a false claim Putin also ordered thorough investigation on this accident and proclaimed A day of national tragedy Personal comment: Russian government could have pretended isis actually did it and that way they would pretty much gain green light to do whatever the fuck they want to isis without international babbling
  16. Russian President Vladimir Putin marked his 63rd birthday on Wednesday (October 7) in his favourite Black Sea resort of Sochi by taking part in an ice hockey match. The Russian leader showed off his skills in an arena used in the 2014 Winter Olympics, personally scoring seven goals. Cheered on by the crowd, his team, which included his defence minister Sergei Shoigu and a clutch of ex-NHL stars, won 15-10. Personal comment : That moment when you hear we will rock you song and its made by Lithuanian singers feels good being part of motherland again
  17. Meanwhile In Russia: SpongeBob And Mickey Mouse Kick Dude's Ass In Road Rage Incident This is a video of SpongeBob Squarepants, Mickey Mouse, that squirrel from Ice Age that's always trying to get the acorn, and some other character kicking another motorist's ass after they rear-end him and he starts yelling and knocking on their window. I say it's staged though because 1. four costumed characters kicking a dude's ass and 2. they don't really seem to be punching and kicking him that hard. Unless it's just impossible to move in those costumes, I'm going to have to say it's staged. Of course, there is one very convincing piece of evidence that the video IS real. "Russia." Exactly. It's probably not even the weirdest thing the guys in the car with the dashcam saw that day. Personal Comment: Furries. Furries everywhere.
  18. Russian Bearman Pulls 150 Tonn Train A Russian power lifting and heavy athletics champion, from the Far East, Ivan Savkin, pulled a 150 tonn (metric tonns) train. With his muscles. He only managed to move it one meter. In the past he's moved around busses, loaded trucks, and train engine cars. He also managed to move a 65 tonn Airbus A-350. Personal Comment: And to think there are idiots out there who think they can go to war with Russia. http://tn.new.fishki.net/26/upload/post/201408/08/1291982/fb57fee36bd0be4598548f4ceaad0a9a.jpg
  19. EU and US impose new round of sanctions on Russia over Ukraine Both the European Union and the United States announced a new round of sanctions against Moscow on Tuesday, accusing the Kremlin of supporting anti-Kiev militias in eastern Ukraine and threatening to cripple the Russian economy. The 28-member nations tied to the EU were first to acknowledge in a statement Tuesday that they’ve agreed to impose broader sanctions to “limit access to EU capital markets for Russian State-owned financial institutions, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual use goods for military end users and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies particularly in the field of the oil sector.” So-called "sectorial" sanctions imposed by the EU became the most serious step against Russia, the member states have agreed. European leaders have been increasing pressure on the Russian government for several months by extending visa bans and asset freezes for a number of individuals that the EU considers responsible for Moscow's policy toward Ukraine or close to the ones who are. However, many European countries were reluctant to target entire sectors of the Russian economy, understanding that it could hurt the EU since Russia is among the Union’s major trade partners. Hours after the announcement of the European sanctions, US President Barack Obama said during an afternoon address outside of the White House that the Treasury Department was adding four names to the list of Russian Federation-affiliated entities sanctioned by Washington, including the Bank of Moscow, the Russian Agricultural Bank and VTB Bank OAO, as well as the state-owned United Shipbuilding Corporation. Additionally, Pres. Obama said that the US would also be “blocking the exports of specific goods and technologies to the Russian energy sector,” “expanding sanctions to more banks” and “suspending credit that encourages exports to Russia.” “Because were closely coordinating our actions with Europe, the sanctions we are announcing today will have an even bigger bite,” Obama warned. The US has previously imposed a number of sanctions against Russia, including penalties on the nation’s largest oil producer, Rosneft, and banking giant Vnesheconombank, among others, to punish the Federation over its perceived involvement in the eastern Ukrainian conflict that in recent months has pitted the country’s own military against anti-Kiev militias. The latest round of penalties, however, is the first imposed by either the EU or US in the wake of the tragic Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash that cost nearly 300 passengers their lives earlier this month. “The US continues to do everything in our power to help bring home their loved ones, support the international investigation and make sure justice is done,” Obama said of MH17 tragedy. “Since the shoot-down, however, Russia and its proxies in Ukraine have failed to cooperate with the investigation and to take the opportunity to pursue a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Ukraine.” “These Russian-backed separatists continue to interfere in the crash investigation,” Obama added, and “continue to shoot down Ukrainian aircraft in the region.” The president also said that US intelligence is increasingly making it clear that Russian troops are amassing near the country’s border with Ukraine, have fired artillery over international boundaries and continue to “support the separatists and encourage them and train them and arm them.” “It does not have to be this way,” insisted Obama. “This is a choice that Russia and Pres. Putin in particular has made.” Russia repeatedly denied accusations that it is relocating troops to the Ukrainian borders and supplying anti-Kiev militias with arms. International monitoring groups, invited by Moscow, also didn't find any evidence of violations from the Russian side. Nevertheless, Obama said Russia should recognize that it “can be a good neighbor and trading partner with Ukraine even as Ukraine is also developing ties with Europe and other parts of the world.” When asked if the conflict was creating the potential for another cold war, Obama answered in the negative. “It’s not a new cold war,” Pres. Obama said. “What it is is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path." The latest round of injunctions prohibit US citizens and companies from dealing with debt carrying maturities longer than 90 days, with regards to the banks, and freezes any assets the St. Petersburg-based shipbuilders may hold in the US. “Russia’s actions have made a weak Russian economy even weaker,” said Obama. According to the president, sanctions already imposed against Russia have ravaged growth projections and discouraged would-be investors. "I assure you, we will overcome any difficulties that may arise in certain areas of the economy, and maybe we will become more independent and more confident in our own strength," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this week on Monday. "We can't ignore it. But to fall into hysterics and respond to a blow with a blow is not worthy of a major country." http://rt.com/usa/176516-bank-moscow-financial-sanctions/ Personal Comment: Well it looks like Russia isn't backing down. I don't know how this will end, but it doesn't look good.
  20. BY ANNA YUKHANANOV AND STEVE HOLLAND WASHINGTON Wed Jul 16, 2014 The company logo of Rosneft is seen outside a service station in Moscow November 12, 2013. CREDIT: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV (Reuters) - President Barack Obama imposed the biggest package of U.S. economic sanctions yet on Russia on Wednesday, hitting Russia's largest oil producer Rosneft and other energy, financial and defense firms, with what he called significant but targeted penalties. Obama's latest round of sanctions came after close consultations with European leaders, who announced a less-ambitious package. The ultimate impact of the U.S. sanctions likely depends on whether the European Union follows suit. The extent of the sanctions against key parts of the Russian energy and financial industry, including Gazprombank, was intended to serve notice to Moscow that its refusal to curb violence in eastern Ukraine has consequences. The targeted companies also include Russia's second-largest gas producer, Novatek, Vnesheconombank, or VEB, a state-owned bank that acts as payment agent for the Russian government, and eight arms firms. The U.S. Treasury Department said the measures effectively closed medium- and long-term dollar funding to the two banks and energy companies. But the sanctions did not freeze those four companies' assets, or otherwise prohibit U.S. firms or companies from doing business with them. It is the first time the United States has imposed such narrowly targeted measures as it seeks the maximum impact on Russia, a huge energy producer, while avoiding any immediate shock to global oil markets or U.S. and EU companies. Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking in Brasilia, said the sanctions would damage U.S. energy companies, and bring relations with Russia to a "dead end." One analyst said the sanctions remained limited in their scope and were likely to prompt a "war of words" more than anything else. "I think that the impact on oil sales will be negligible," said sanctions expert Douglas Jacobson, attorney at Jacobson Burton in Washington. "It is another classic shot across the bow and a message from the United States that sanctions can be ramped up." Obama said Putin had so far failed to take steps needed to resolve the crisis peacefully. "We have emphasized our preference to resolve this issue diplomatically, but that we have to see concrete actions and not just words that Russia, in fact, is committed to trying to end this conflict along the Russia- Ukraine border," he said. Washington said on Wednesday that up to 12,000 Russian combat forces were back on the border with Ukraine and that weaponry was crossing over to pro-Russian separatists. The increase in the Russian presence occurred several weeks after Moscow had drawn down its forces in the area to about 1,000 troops. POSSIBLE FURTHER SANCTIONS Obama said the United States could impose further sanctions if Russia did not take concrete steps to ease the conflict. The United States has already imposed several rounds of sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian senior officials since the start of the violence, including Rosneft's chief executive, Igor Sechin. But the sanctions have had only a limited impact on the Russian energy industry, a cornerstone of the country's $2 trillion economy. It is not yet clear how large an impact the new measures will have on Rosneft, which had sales of $40 billion in the first quarter, about 8.6 percent of Russia's gross domestic product, or the companies it does business with. Sechin, who like Putin was speaking in Brasilia, said the sanctions would not affect Rosneft's current project with ExxonMobil, but would damage the shareholders of U.S. companies cooperating with Rosneft. The new sanctions would not appear to prevent Rosneft from selling its oil, but may raise questions about the company’s more than $15 billion worth of oil-related finance arrangements with companies including BP, which now owns almost a fifth of Rosneft, and Glencore. Morgan Stanley, which is selling the majority of its global physical oil trading operations to Rosneft, declined to comment. The sanctions stopped short of targeting Russia's Gazprom, the world's largest natural gas producer and provider of much of Europe's energy supplies. Gazprombank is 36 percent-owned by Gazprom. RUNNING OUT OF PATIENCE "These sanctions are significant, but they are also targeted, designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies," Obama told reporters. The new measures were announced on the same day that EU leaders met in Brussels and agreed to expand their own sanctions on Russia. The new U.S. sanctions also include Feodosiya Enterprises, a shipping facility in Crimea, and senior Russian officials, several of whom had already been targeted by the European Union. The affected senior officials included the deputy head of the State Duma, or parliament, the minister of the Crimea, a commander of the Russian intelligence agency FSB, and a Ukrainian separatist leader. Obama in recent weeks has repeatedly threatened new sanctions, and appears to have run out of patience as fighting continued to rage in eastern Ukraine. The new sanctions were unlikely to please Republican lawmakers, many of whom have been calling for the imposition of sanctions on entire Russian industries, rather than specific companies, as the best way to control Putin. Republican lawmakers said they welcomed the additional sanctions but that Obama should go further. Several lawmakers, Republicans in particular, have called for broader sectoral sanctions targeting important Russian industries like energy and banking. "Until now, the administration's response to Putin’s aggression has given him little reason to change his behavior. Continuing to go after the Russian economy is the way to send the most effective message," Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican, said. For more details on the sanctions, see 1.usa.gov/1kx0sxT. (Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Patricia Zengerle and Phil Stewart in Washington,Adrian Croft in Brussels and Josephine Mason, Edward McAllister, and Jonathan Leff in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/16/us-ukraine-crisis-usa-idUSKBN0FL2YN20140716 Personal Comment From Bors: Gazprom is all that matters, Yankies.
  21. For anyone who blinked and missed Russian President Vladimir Putin's swift seizure and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region, there's now a giant silver coin celebrating the Kremlin leader for bringing the territory "back home." The coins issued by the Art Grani foundry in the Russian city of Chelyabinsk feature Putin's bas relief image on one side and a map of the Crimean peninsula on the other. "Crimea's reunification with Russia was a historic event which we decided to embody in a souvenir collection of coins," Vladimir Vasyukhin, director of the Ural Mountains foundry, told the Itar-Tass news agency. Mr Vasyukhin last year visited Crimea and returned with fond memories of the peninsula, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported in its article on Tuesday about the new coins. "And just like that the peninsula has come back home to Russia," Mr Vasyukhin said of the annexation last month. He added that with the recovery of the territory, Putin had "demonstrated the qualities of a wise strategist and politician." The unilateral annexation has been condemned by most world powers as a violation of international law in changing another country's borders by armed force. Russian troops deployed throughout Crimea in late February, occupying military, transport and communications sites ahead of a quickly staged referendum in which 97 percent of those who voted declared support for secession from Ukraine and annexation to Russia. Two days after the March 16 vote, Mr Putin signed documents to make Crimea part of Russia again. The peninsula that has hosted Russia's Black Sea fleet throughout its history was part of Russia for centuries before Ukrainian-born Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev transferred it to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954. It made little difference to which republic the peninsula belonged when all 15 were united within the Soviet Union. But after the Soviet breakup in 1991, Russia was forced to lease back its military bases from Ukraine and lost governing authority over the predominantly ethnic Russian population of 2 million. The first issue of 25 of the commemorative coins, which are the size of a hockey puck and weigh 1 kilo each, will be given to Kremlin officials, Itar-Tass said. Neither the foundry nor the Russian news sources that wrote about the special "Crimea 2014 Collection" said how much the coins will cost or when a broader quantity will be available to collectors and the general public. Los Angeles Times http://www.smh.com.au/world/putins-crimea-seizure-the-coin-20140423-zqy08.html Personal Comment From Bors: Top lel.
  22. By Matt Robinson and Aleksandar Vasovic KRAMATORSK/ODESSA, Ukraine Tue May 6, 2014 (Reuters) - Both sides have been burying their dead as Ukraine slides further towards war, with supporters of Russia and of a united Ukraine accusing each other of tearing the country apart. Tuesday was generally quieter than past days in most of eastern and southern Ukraine, but violence flared at dusk in the eastern port of Mariupol, where a spokesman for pro-Moscow militants told Russia's Itar-Tass news agency that one person was killed and three wounded in an attack on a checkpoint. In Kramatorsk, a separatist-held town in the east that saw an advance by Ukrainian troops at the weekend, the coffin of 21-year-old nurse Yulia Izotova was carried through streets stilled by barricades of tires and tree trunks on Monday. Scattered red carnations traced the route. At the Holy Trinity Church, seven priests led mourners in prayer for a woman killed by large caliber bullets, which the townsfolk believe were fired by Ukrainian troops. "They shoot at us. Why? Because we don't want to live with fascists?" asked 58-year-old passport photographer Sergei Fominsky, standing with his wife among the mourners. "We're not slaves. We kneel to no one." In Odessa, a previously peaceful, multi-ethnic Black Sea port where more than 40 people were killed on Friday in the worst day of violence since a February revolt toppled Ukraine's pro-Russian president, pall-bearers carried Andrey Biryukov's open casket from a van to the street corner where he was shot. A pro-Ukrainian activist, Biryukov, 35, was killed during a day that began with hundreds of pro-Russian sympathizers armed with axes, chains and guns attacking a Ukrainian march, and ended later that night with the pro-Russians barricaded inside a building that was set on fire, killing dozens. A small crowd of about 50 people stood around the body, covering it with carnations and roses. A Ukrainian flag fluttered in the wind, and a patriotic song about dead heroes was played from a sound system. Relatives wept and a young woman fell on her knees crying loudly. The corner where the man died was decorated with flowers and small Ukrainian flags. "The government has failed to protect its own people. The police have failed miserably," said Nikita, a grizzled 56-year-old with a Ukrainian yellow and blue arm-band. Sergei, in his 40s, who also came to mourn, said violence "was imported to Odessa". "We were proud of Odessa as a unique place where people used to live in peace, regardless of their beliefs and religion and race," he said. "Now this is all gone." In Mariupol, the main port for the eastern coal and steel region of the Donbass, pro-Moscow militants told Russian news agencies that one of their checkpoints on the outskirts was attacked late on Tuesday - by Ukrainian forces or by pro-Kiev militia - and they were preparing to repel further assaults. Local Web site 0629.com.ua posted pictures of tires blazing outside the city council building and thick smoke pouring over the town center. Some streets were barricaded by buses. The surge in violence has changed the tone of international diplomacy, with even cautious European states speaking increasingly of the likelihood of war in a country of around 45 million people the size of France. "The bloody pictures from Odessa have shown us that we are just a few steps away from a military confrontation," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in interviews published in four European newspapers. GOVERNMENT OFFENSIVE The next few days could prove decisive: separatists in the eastern Donbass region say they will hold a referendum on secession on Sunday May 11, similar to the one that preceded Russia's annexation of Crimea. The U.S. State Department denounced any attempt at a vote as "bogus" and promised more sanctions if Russia used it, as in Crimea, to send in forces or annex more territory: "This is the Crimea playbook all over again," a spokeswoman said. Secretary of State John Kerry said he would meet ministers in Europe next week to discuss the next steps on Ukraine. Two days before the vote, Friday May 9, is the annual Victory Day holiday celebrating the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany. Moscow has been openly comparing the government in Kiev to the Nazis, and Ukrainian officials say they are worried that the day could provoke violence. In Moscow, there will be a massive parade of military hardware through Red Square, a Soviet-era tradition revived by President Vladimir Putin. The past few days have seen government forces press on with an offensive but make little progress in the east, where separatist rebels have so far held firm at their main outpost in the town of Slaviansk and shot down three Ukrainian helicopters. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Tuesday more than 30 separatists had been killed in fighting around Slaviansk, but there was no confirmation of such a figure. The rebels, who triggered fighting in the area on Monday by ambushing government troops, said four of their number had been killed. At roadblocks in the town, some armed fighters have been replaced by civilians, like Alexandra, in her late 20s, who said she leaves her 10-year-old daughter at home each morning, puts a starting pistol in her belt and walks to the barricades. The tactic of putting civilians at the front could make a government offensive more difficult. "We have two options - to use heavy artillery ... wipe everything out, put the flag up and report that everything has been done. The second option is a gradual blockade, destroying provocateurs and sabotage to prevent injuries among the population. We are carrying out the second scenario," said acting defense minister Mykhailo Koval, explaining why the operation has taken so long and achieved so little. Since a pro-European government took power after the uprising that toppled pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich, Putin overturned diplomatic convention by declaring Moscow's right to send troops across borders to protect Russian speakers. In March, Russia seized and annexed Crimea, and in the weeks that followed, armed separatists have taken control of most of the Donbass, which accounts for around 15 percent of Ukraine's population and a third of industrial output. Moscow has tens of thousands of troops massed on Ukraine's eastern frontier. The outbreak of violence in Odessa, hundreds of kilometers away near a Russian-occupied breakaway region of neighboring Moldova, means the unrest has spread across the breadth of southern and eastern Ukraine. Western countries say Russian agents are directing the uprising and Moscow is stoking the violence with a campaign of propaganda, broadcast into Ukraine on Russian state channels, that depicts the government in Kiev as "fascists". "Russia sometimes sounds as if it's refighting WW2. Fascism all over the place. Enemies everywhere. Ghosts of history mobilized," tweeted Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt. LIMITED SANCTIONS However, so far Western concern has not been matched by any serious action that might dissuade Putin. The United States and the European Union have imposed limited sanctions on lists of individual Russians and small firms, but have held back from measures designed to hurt Russia's economy broadly. Nonetheless, a senior finance ministry official in Moscow said Russian GDP could shrink again this quarter. NATO has made clear it will not fight to protect Ukraine, instead beefing up defenses of its nearby member states. NATO's top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said on Monday Russia had used special forces in eastern Ukraine and he now believed Moscow might be able to achieve its goals without resorting to a conventional invasion. Western leaders have threatened to impose tougher sanctions on Russia if it interferes with presidential elections in Ukraine set for May 25, and most of their diplomacy has been centered around that date. "If (the election) doesn't take place, there will be chaos and the risk of civil war," French President Francois Hollande said. "The Russians, Vladimir Putin, at the moment want this election not to happen so as to maintain the pressure. It's up to us to convince them." Petro Poroshenko, a Ukrainian confectionery baron who is front-runner in the presidential election, said the vote would go ahead despite the unrest: "We hope that we will be able to complete the anti-terrorist operation before the election. And where we cannot do so - we will surround (those places) and not allow them to interfere with the election." But Moscow has increasingly dismissed the prospect, suggesting it will not accept the winner of the vote any more than it accepts the interim government in power since February. "Holding elections at a time when the army is deployed against part of the population is quite unusual," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a news conference. (Additional reporting by Elizabeth Piper in Kiev and Randall Palmer in Ottawa; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Giles Elgood and Alastair Macdonald) http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/06/us-ukraine-crisis-idUSBREA400LI20140506 Personal Comment From Bors: This is looking more and more like ARMAII every day.
  23. Unsure how to copy pasta the link on my phone, but I just read the article in the Sydney Morning Herald. @Feanor more details, Iourie, if you please.
  24. Ukraine cries 'robbery' as Russia annexes Crimea (CNN) -- Cheers in Moscow. Outrage in Kiev. Bloodshed in Simferopol. Tuesday saw Russian President Vladimir Putin announce the annexation of Crimea, two days after voters in that semiautonomous territory approved a hastily called referendum on separating from Ukraine. Putin told a joint session of Russia's Parliament that the nearly 97% of Crimean residents who voted to join Russia over the weekend was "an extremely convincing figure." "In our hearts, we know Crimea has always been an inalienable part of Russia," he said. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called it "a robbery on an international scale," one that Kiev will never accept. "One country has come and temporarily stolen part of of the territory of an independent country," he said. "It will be difficult to find a quick resolution to this problem, but Russia is now isolated by the whole international community." And after a member of its military was killed, another wounded and more captured when masked gunmen seized their base near the Crimean regional capital, Simferopol, Ukraine's defense ministry authorized its forces to open fire. Yatsenyuk warned that the crisis was shifting "from political to the military form, and the blame is on the Russian military." Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority, has long been a semiautonomous region within Ukraine. It has had its own Parliament, but the Ukrainian government had veto power over its actions. After the revolt that forced pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych from office in February, Russian troops poured into the Crimean Peninsula, effectively cutting it off in support of a pro-Russian government that took power in Simferopol. Putin said Tuesday that Russia had to act as Ukraine's new government, backed by the United States and European powers, prepared "to seize the state through terror and murders." "The main executors of this were nationalists, Russia-phobes and anti-Semites," he said. "Those people define what is happening today in Ukraine." But international observers have said Moscow saw its chance to annex a strategic territory, one that was transferred to Ukraine in the Soviet era and which still hosts the home port of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Ukraine's interim President, Oleksandr Turchynov, told reporters that Putin is "mimicking the fascists of the last century" by annexing Crimea. "The political leadership of Russia will have to answer before the whole world for crimes they are committing today in our country," Turchynov said. Cameron: Annexation sends 'a chilling message' Putin declared Tuesday that "We have not used our armed forces in Crimea," despite what has been stated by international observers and the government of Kiev. He said the 22,000 Russian troops in Crimea did not enter during the current crisis, but "were already there," in accordance with previous international negotiations. Russian forces were allowed in Crimea under a treaty that allowed the Black Sea Fleet to be based there, but the movements of its forces within Crimea are supposed to be agreed upon with Kiev. Putin praised those forces for avoiding bloodshed, but the tensions appear to have boiled over into violence Tuesday. Masked gunmen killed a member of Ukraine's military, wounded another and arrested the remaining staff of Ukraine's military topographic and navigation directorate at Simferopol, Defense Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov told CNN. After that, the Defense Ministry authorized its forces in Crimea to use weapons "to protect and preserve the life of Ukrainian soldiers," according to a statement posted on its website. Petro Poroshenko, a Ukrainian member of Parliament and former foreign minister, said Tuesday that his country stands at "the beginning of a very dangerous conflict, and we should do our best to stop this process." "Several weeks ago, we had a guarantee that nothing [would] happen with the Crimea. Several weeks ago we had [a situation] that there is not any military presence on Ukrainian territory, including the Crimea," he told CNN's "Amanpour " program. Now, he said, "I strongly believe that this is not only Ukrainian territory is now threatened." "Now under attack can be any country in the European Union, including other parts of Ukraine," said Poroshenko, a billionaire and leading potential candidate for president. "That's why we should think that it can never happen again." U.S. and EU officials imposed sanctions on more than two dozen Russian and Crimean officials Monday and have urged Russia to avoid escalating the crisis, but Moscow has ignored those calls. Tuesday's annexation brought a new round of condemnation from the West, with British Prime Minister David Cameron saying it sends "a chilling message across the continent of Europe." "It is completely unacceptable for Russia to use force to change borders, on the basis of a sham referendum held at the barrel of a Russian gun," Cameron said in a statement issued by Downing Street. "President Putin should be in no doubt that Russia will face more serious consequences, and I will push European leaders to agree further EU measures when we meet on Thursday." Russia faces 'more than just sanctions,' Biden says The G7 group of industrialized nations had already suspended preparations for a planned G8 summit in the Russian city of Sochi. Now, U.S. President Barack Obama has invited his counterparts from the other G7 countries and the European Union to a meeting of next week on the margins of a nuclear security summit in The Hague, U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said. The planned meeting comes amid speculation that Russia will get kicked out of the G8 -- which comprises the G7 countries plus Russia -- because of its actions in Crimea. In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry criticized "this rise of a kind of nationalism that is exercised unilaterally, to the exclusion of the international legal process." "That's what we have worked hard to avoid ever since World War II," Kerry said. He acknowledged that Russia has interests in Crimea and "an enormous historical connection to Ukraine," but said he was "really struck and somewhat surprised and even disappointed" by Putin's case for annexing the territory. "With all due respect, it just didn't (jibe) with reality or what's happening on the ground," Kerry said. "The President may have his version of history, but I believe that he and Russia, for what they have done, are on the wrong side of history." German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the "so-called referendum" and the acceptance of Crimea to the Russian Federation "goes against international law," while French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and a French delegation have postponed a planned visit to Moscow because of the Ukrainian situation, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. And U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, dispatched to reassure NATO allies in Eastern Europe, said Russia faces "more than just sanctions" unless it abandons its "land grab" in Crimea. "We're talking about Russia putting itself on a path that undermines long-term confidence and creates obstacles for its full participation in the global economy," Biden said after talks in Poland's capital, Warsaw. "That path that they've placed themselves on does nothing to help the next generation of Russians compete and succeed in a world that will be led by the most dynamic and open economies." Condemnation abroad, cheers at home But lawmakers in Moscow met Putin's address with regular and enthusiastic applause. The Russian leader accused the West of "double standards" and cynicism in its response to the Crimean crisis, citing Kosovo -- which split from Russia's historical ally Serbia over fierce objections from Belgrade -- as a precedent. "It's absolutely in favor of their own interests -- black today, white tomorrow," he said. Russia's Parliament is expected to vote on ratifying Crimea's accession to the Russian Federation by the end of the week. The speaker of Russia's upper house of Parliament, Valentina Matvineko, told state-run Russia-24 TV that the process of adding a new member to the Russian Federation "can be done rather promptly." And hours after the annexation announcement, Putin appeared at a huge celebration on Red Square organized by his supporters -- a sign of his widespread popularity at home. An opinion poll by the Moscow-based Levada Center puts his approval rating at 72% -- the highest in more than three years, and the second-highest point of his presidency. The highest point came in 2008, during Russia's conflict with Georgia, another former Soviet republic. "Putin in many senses, on many levels, crystallizes the Russian national consciousness," biographer Alexander Korobko told CNN. "For the past 100 years perhaps, we have never had a leader who would appeal to the Russian soul ... as much as Putin." Most Russians and Crimeans feel Crimea "is coming back home," and a country that can produce "pretty much anything" has little fear of sanctions, he said. "It is absolutely not in the U.S. interest to impose sanctions on Russia, because who will take American astronauts to space if not us Russians?" Korobko asked. http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/18/world/europe/ukraine-crisis/index.html?hpt=wo_c1 Personal Comment: U.S. and EU leaders are going to be vocal about this, but there isn't much they can actually do as is evident by the token sanctions placed on a few politicians. In all likelihood this will end up being a similar situation to Georgia in 2008, the West won't recognise the change in borders but they'll let it happen for the most part.
  25. Sevastopol: Russian troops took over three Ukrainian warships in Crimea on Thursday, a Ukrainian navy official said, after Moscow's military seizure of the Black Sea peninsula and annexation of the territory. Vladislav Seleznyov, a Ukrainian military spokesman in Crimea, said the Russian forces used stun grenades as they stormed the corvette Ternopol in the port city of Sevastopol. Pro-Russian forces hang up a Russian flag after seizing the Ukrainian corvette Khmelnitsky in Sevastopol, Crimea. Photo: AP "The ship has been taken," Mr Seleznyov said on his Facebook page on Thursday, after earlier saying: "The assault has begun". Advertisement On Facebook, Mr Seleznyov said pro-Moscow militiamen and Russian soldiers cordoned off the area, while a boat with the gunmen on board approached the Ternopil and stormed it. "Stun grenades were used during the assault and automatic fire was heard," he said. Crew members of the Ukrainian corvette Khmelnitsky leave their ship which has been seized by pro-Russian forces in Sevastopol, Crimea. Photo: AP The Russian national tricolour and the Russian navy's flag were flying on a pier elsewhere in Sevastopol where two more Ukrainian navy corvettes were anchored, indicating they were seized. There were no flags on display on the sterns of the corvettes - called the Lutsk and Khmelnitsky - where the national symbols would normally be visible. "It appears the Russians have taken the flags down at both ships but not put out their own," Mr Seleznyov said. More than 14,500 people serve in the Ukrainian navy, accodring to the country's Defence Ministry website, with most of them stationed in Crimea. The commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Alexander Vitko, had reportedly boarded the Slavutich earlier on Thursday in an attempt to negotiate a surrender. The two warships had been blockaded in the port by the Russian navy and had distanced themselves from the dock in an attempt to prevent an assault. AFP, Reuters http://www.smh.com.au/world/ukraine-crisis-russian-troops-seize-three-ukrainian-warships-in-crimea-20140321-hvkyv.html Personal Comment From Bors: Cleaning House.
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