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August 14, 2016

Ukrainian troops on Crimean border on high alert after rising tension with Russia

Ukrainian troops on Crimean border on high alert after rising tension with Russia

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

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Ukrainian troops on the Crimean border were put on full combat alert on Thursday, said Ukrainian officials, after tensions rose between Russia and Ukraine over the preceding several days.

Location of Crimea and Ukraine in Europe.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed on Wednesday to have captured over the preceding weekend a group of Ukrainian saboteurs with 20 explosive devices; amid Russian accusations of Ukrainian military actions in Crimea, an area Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. A video on Russian state television allegedly showed one Yevyen Panov confessing to be part of the Ukrainian military, in Crimea to commit “acts of sabotage”. The FSB claimed in foiling the plot a Russian soldier and a secret service agent died. Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine, put his own troops on high alert, suggesting the accusations were just preparing an excuse for further military actions against Ukraine.

Sergey Aksyonov, appointed head of Crimea by Russia, stated to Russian state media: “With saboteurs I think we should act as farmers do with crows who spoil the crops. Kill them and hang their bodies at the border to put off others, and make them understand that Russia will not allow anyone to risk the lives of peaceful citizens or servicemen in Crimea”, while Poroshenko compared Russia’s actions in Crimea and eastern Ukraine to the Great Terror in which Stalin sent perhaps a million political dissidents to their deaths.



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August 12, 2016

Tensions rise between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea

Tensions rise between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Tensions have risen between Russia and Ukraine over the past few days, with Ukrainian troops on the boarder with Crimea being put on alert yesterday.

map of Ukrainian conflict

Last weekend the Russian security services(FSB) claimed to have captured a group of Ukrainian saboteurs with 20 explosive devices among Russian accusations of armed incursions into Crimea, an area that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Russian state television showed a video of a man called Yevyen Panov confessing to be part of the Ukrainian army in Crimea to commit “acts of sabotage”. In the process of foiling this plot it has been reported that a Russian soldier and secret services agent have died. Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine has claimed that there are 30,000 Russian troops on the Russia Ukraine boarder, and has put his own troops into high alert, suggesting that the accusations were just preparing an excuse for further military actions against Ukraine.

The hostilities were also exchanged with words . The undemocratic head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov told Russian state media “With saboteurs I think we should act as farmers do with crows who spoil the crops. Kill them and hang their bodies at the border to put off others, and make them understand that Russia will not allow anyone to risk the lives of peaceful citizens or servicemen in Crimea” while Poroshenko compared Russia`s actions in Crimea to the great terror in which Stalin sent up to 1 million political dissidents and others to their deaths.



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Tenions rise between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea

Tenions rise between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea

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Friday, August 12, 2016}

Tensions have risen between Russia and Ukraine over the past few days with accusations from Russia that Ukrainian forces has been carrying out armed incursions into Crimea, that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

map of Ukrainian conflict

Last weekend the Russian security services(FSB) claimed to have captured a group of Ukrainian saboteurs with 20 explosive devices. Russian state television showed a video of a man called Yevyen Panov confessing to be part of the Ukrainian army in Crimea to commit “acts of sabotage”. In the process of foiling this plot it has been reported that a Russian soldier and secret services agent have died. Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine has claimed that there are 30,000 Russian troops on the Russia Ukraine boarder, and has put his own troops into high alert.

The hostilities were also exchanged with words . The undemocratic head of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov told Russian state media “With saboteurs I think we should act as farmers do with crows who spoil the crops. Kill them and hang their bodies at the border to put off others, and make them understand that Russia will not allow anyone to risk the lives of peaceful citizens or servicemen in Crimea” while Poroshenko compared Russia`s actions in Crimea to the great terror in which Stalin sent up to 1 million political dissidents and others to their deaths.



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September 6, 2014

NATO leaders meet for two day summit in Wales

NATO leaders meet for two day summit in Wales

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Saturday, September 6, 2014

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Leaders from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) member states met in Wales over Thursday to Friday in a summit addressing the organisation’s role in Afghanistan and new threats from Russia and the Islamic State.

NATO member countries
Image: Ssolbergj.

Role in Afghanistan

Since the 2010 NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal countries involved in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), NATO’s military operation in Afghanistan, have been committed to full transition of security responsibilities to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. This would mark the end of ISAF’s 13 year mission in Afghanistan, with troops changing to a training and assistance role.

Plans had originally intended for Afghanistan’s new President, or President-elect, to attend this year’s summit, but due to the political situation and ongoing election process it is still unknown who will replace outgoing President Hamid Karzai. Bismullah Khan Muhammadi, the country’s defence minister, instead attended the summit in the absence of a President.

This political stalemate has put at risk NATO plans for a continuing military presence in the country, with troops expected to pull out at the end of the year without new security agreements being signed, signature not possible without a new President in place. NATO members have urged Afghanistan’s presidential candidates to reach an agreement, with officials indicating that if no agreement can be reached by the end of the month, then troops would begin to leave.

Threat from Russia

On Thursday, NATO leaders pledged support for Ukraine at a meeting with the country’s President, Petro Poroshenko, in the face of recent moves from Russia. On their website, NATO outlined four areas where the alliance would provide support for Ukraine, “rehabilitation for injured troops, cyber defence, logistics, and command and control and communications”, with assistance expected to have a monetary value of about 15 million euros (about US$19 million).

On Friday, peace talks in Minsk, Belarus resulted in a ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and rebel forces, whom NATO has accused Russia of supporting in their bid for separation of eastern regions of Ukraine. The UK said sanctions being prepared are likely to go ahead, regardless of the outcome of these talks, until it is seen that Russia is acting upon them.

Threat from Islamic State

On Friday morning, a meeting of ten countries chaired by the UK and US agreed to jointly working to combat the threat posed by the Islamic State in the Middle East. John Kerry, US Secretary of State, stated after the meeting that the group should aim to make firm plans and raise support from within the region affected before the UN General Assembly annual meeting later this month. Philip Hammond, UK Foreign Secretary, also said it was clear that regional support was needed, adding “with a new and inclusive Government of Iraq leading the efforts”.

It was also announced NATO would help a non-sectarian Iraqi government, on request, to build defence capabilities in Iraq to help fight the Islamic State, as well as coordinating the humanitarian airlift of supplies.

Increased readiness

Plans for a Readiness Action Plan were agreed at the summit. Speaking on Monday before the summit, NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, described this as a response to “Russia’s aggressive behaviour”, but outlined how he hoped it would increase the responsiveness of the alliance to face any security challenge.

These plans aim to allow reinforcements to reach any NATO member state within 48 hours, in what Rasmussen described as a “spearhead” of the preexisting Response Force. This requires logistical, and headquarters facilities to be set up in Eastern European countries, the ones most under threat from an attack by Russia, or the Islamic State. These plans are also to be rehearsed through joint military exercises.


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  • “Australia and Afghanistan to be represented at NATO summit” — Wikinews, September 2, 2014
  • “Russia accused of supporting Ukrainian rebels’ advance” — Wikinews, September 2, 2014

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September 2, 2014

Russia accused of supporting Ukrainian rebels\’ advance

Russia accused of supporting Ukrainian rebels’ advance

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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Yesterday Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko accused Russia of “direct and open aggression” as his country’s military were said to be battling a column of Russian tanks.

Coastline of the Azov sea
Image: Materialscientist.

Ukraine’s military has suffered recent setbacks in their ongoing conflict with pro-Russian rebels in the East of the country which started in April, following the annexation of Crimea by Russian forces.

Officials in Kiev said armored Russian units aided rebels who took the Ukrainian border town of Novoazovsk last week, and were reportedly yesterday threatening the strategic port of Mariupol, where residents were digging trenches against the possibility of an attack. The area of Novoazovsk and Mariupol lies between the Russian border and Crimea.

Ukrainian coastguards reportedly searched for two missing sailors after artillery hit their patrol boat in the Sea of Azov on Sunday, in what rebels reportedly called their first victory at sea. Eight other sailors were rescued, and were being treated for burns and other wounds. Officials said it was as yet unclear where the shell was fired from.

Russia denied any of their troops were involved in the conflict. NATO said last week at least 1,000 Russian troops have been sent into the country and have been fighting alongside the rebels there. They also accused Russia of supplying the rebels with military hardware, including air defense systems and tanks.

In response to the alleged increase of Russian involvement, European Union (EU) leaders threatened Russia with further sanctions, extending those first imposed in July, if they did not back down from their involvement in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladmir Putin has dismissed the threat, claiming the EU is backing an armed coup in Ukraine against the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.



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August 22, 2014

Four arrested after building spire in Moscow painted in Ukrainian colors

Four arrested after building spire in Moscow painted in Ukrainian colors

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Russian authorities have detained four people on Wednesday on suspicion of vandalism, following an incident where the spire of the iconic Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building in Moscow was painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. The suspects, reportedly consisting of two men and two women, allegedly ascended the building by stairs to reach its top floor, before using climbing equipment to complete the ascent, according to Moscow police.

File photo of the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building in 2009.
Image: SphinxTheGeek.

Over the course of the previous night, the suspects proceeded to paint the top half of the building’s star-shaped spire blue and erected a Ukrainian flag atop at about 7:15 am local time, reports the Interfax news agency, with information corroborated by Moscow’s municipal emergency services. The alterations to the building made by the suspects remained for several hours, before workers removed the flag and repainted the spire to its normal color. Containing 32 floors and standing at a height of 176 m (577 ft), the Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building is one of the Seven Sisters, skyscrapers constructed between 1947 and 1953 in Moscow under the direction of Joseph Stalin.

Following the act, at least one of the suspects then reportedly descended from the building by parachute, reported state news channel Rossiya 24, and captured on a video published by Lifenews, reportedly filmed by a local resident. Additional video broadcast by Rossiya 24, taken from a window, captured a parachuting suspect landing in a nearby playground. Among the suspects was Alexander Pogrebov, who has denied the charges brought forth by authorities. “I was detained for parachuting off the skyscraper. I chose that place because it’s beautiful. […] It just so happened that at the time of the jump, someone else committed an act of vandalism — they destroyed the spire with paint, and raised the Ukrainian flag.” said Pogrebov in an interview to LifeNews.

Pogrebov’s comments were supported by a police official, who stated to the Itar-Tass agency: “The two young men and two girls say they jumped from a high building with parachutes. They say they didn’t hoist any flag and didn’t paint the flag.” If convicted of vandalism, Pogrebov and the other suspects may be sentenced to a maximum of three years imprisonment. Over the phone to Bloomberg, an unidentified duty press official stated the suspects were previously arrested over other charges. According to reports from Russian state television, all four suspects were Russian citizens.

Other acts by Russian protestors to show support and solidarity with Ukraine, contrasting the approval which came following the Russian annexation of Crimea, included the singing of the Ukrainian national anthem by protestors while being arrested. Russian musician Andrey Makarevich, who fronts the band Mashina Vremeni, which translates to “Time Machine”, was labelled as a “traitor” by Russian lawmakers and musicians who supported Russian interests, after he traveled to eastern Ukraine last week to perform for displaced children in regions held by the Ukrainian army.

On a post on Twitter, Russian opposition leader Gennady Gudkov stated “I don’t justify youngsters who painted a star on the skyscraper, but this is an administrative offense, not criminal”. In 2011 and 2012, following accusations of electoral fraud during the parliamentary elections at the time, Gudkov supported protestors who took to the streets of Moscow in opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The act comes just days prior to Ukraine’s Day of the National Flag on August 23 and Independence Day on August 24. The country’s president, Petro Poroshenko, expressed his approval from Kiev of the act and praise for the suspects in a written post on Facebook. “On the eve of Independence Day we are starting an initiative called ‘Our Colours,’ which is devoted to the Ukrainian flag”((uk)), wrote Poroshenko. “And it is symbolic that, on this day, our colours have been painted on what is perhaps the greatest skyscraper in Moscow. I urge Ukrainians throughout the world, wherever they are, on the eve of the anniversary of our independence, to decorate their homes, offices, and cars in our national colours.”((uk))

“I like very much the fact that, on the eve of celebrating the Ukrainian flag, one of Moscow’s highest buildings was painted in our colors,” Poroshenko said in a video posted on Facebook. “I congratulate these Ukrainians.” Following the deaths of more than 2,000 people and the displacement of 300,000 from their homes amid fighting in eastern Ukraine between the Ukrainian armed forced and pro-Russian separatists, Poroshenko is scheduled to discuss the crisis with Putin next week, the first such meeting in two months.



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July 19, 2014

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing 298

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot down over eastern Ukraine, killing 298

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

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File photo from 2010 of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 9M-MRD, the aircraft that was shot down.
Image: Alan Wilson.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, a Boeing 777, was shot down by a surface-to-air missile on Thursday according to US officials, over disputed eastern Ukraine by an unidentified party.

The flight, which departed Amsterdam Airport Schiphol in The Netherlands at 10:15 UTC en route to Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia, disappeared from radar at 13:15 UTC near Hrabove, a village in the Donetsk Oblast of Ukraine. 283 passengers and 15 crew were aboard the aircraft, all 298 in total perished. The area the plane was flying over is a conflict zone currently between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatist forces.

United States officials confirmed the aircraft has been shot down, according to data from a surveillance satellite which showed the last trajectory and impact of the missile. The missile is believed to be a Buk M1 surface-to-air missile which are believed to be in the hands of rebels according to reports from the area.

Flight path of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Image: Geordie Bosanko and cmglee.

So far no party has claimed responsibility for the attack. Ukrainian officials denied the missile which shot down the airliner belonged to Ukraine. Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said to The Guardian, “We are absolutely sure and we checked yesterday that no missiles have been taken from the Ukrainian army”. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) published on YouTube an alleged wiretap of separatist commanders and Russian intelligence officers discussing the shoot-down and acknowledging the aircraft shot down was civilian.

Meanwhile, Russia’s defense ministry has denied involvement, posting a statement on their website which read, “In view of various types of speculation concerning operations of the Russian armed forces in the areas bordering Ukraine, we affirm that the anti-aircraft means of the Russian armed forces did not operate in that region July 17”.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko said, “This was not an ‘incident’, this was not a ‘catastrophe’, this was a terrorist act”. Malyasian prime minister Najib Razak, said, “If it transpires that the flight was shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice.”

All civilian aircraft have been barred from flying over eastern Ukraine. The US‘s Federal Aviation Adminstration issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) prohibiting flight operations by United States carriers over eastern Ukraine. However, questions remain as to why the aircraft was flying over the contested area. Eurocontrol noted airspace was closed up to 32,000 feet. Flight 17 was flying at 33,000 feet just above the restricted airspace. Malaysia Airlines issued a statement saying “The usual flight route was earlier declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). [The] International Air Transportation Association (IATA) has stated that the airspace the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.”



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