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Yanukovych was warned twice by Ukraine’s Security Service about looming Russian invasion
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 21:00:11 GMT
Description:

The Head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) warned former president Yanukovych twice about an existing threat to the national security of Ukraine from Russia. He sent two letters to the president regarding the threat: one dated January 15, 2013 and another dated February 17, 2014.

The UNIAN news agency reports that Prosecutor Ruslan Kravchenko provided this information in the Obolonskyi District Court of Kyiv, during the questioning of MP Mykhailo Dobkin. According to Kravchenko, this information shatters the defense of Yanukovych’s lawyers, who argued that their client was unaware of the existing threat to the Ukrainian sovereignty and integrity from Russia.

The tribunal possesses unclassified materials evidencing that the Head of the SBU sent letters to Ukraine’s then-President Yanukovych warning him about a Russian threat to the national security of Ukraine. In the letter dated January 15 of 2013, Yanukovych was informed of an inter-agency governmental commission forming in the Russian Federation in order “to create political, humanitarian and economic conditions favorable for the intervention in Ukraine.” The letter stated that the Russian President coordinated the commission.

Goals pursued by the Russian Federation included “establishing dominance of Russian energy companies in the Ukrainian market and spreading influence over the communications, machine-building, marine and other vital sectors.”

The Obolonskyi District Court of Kyiv is currently considering the case against ex-president Viktor Yanukovych, who is accused of state treason. The defendant has yet to make appearances in court.

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General Pavel: NATO ready to provide weapons to Ukraine
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 20:00:09 GMT
Description:

During his visit to Lviv, Czech General and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Petr Pavel, stated that the NATO Military Committee is ready to support Ukraine and supply it with weapons, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

During the event, Pavel stated: “The NATO Military Committee will continue to assist Ukraine and will provide the tools and actions necessary to achieve this, which may include providing weapons to Ukraine.”

Approximately 40 NATO Military Committee officers arrived in Lviv for a visiting session at the Kyiv State Maritime Academy, which is named after hetman Petro Konashevich-Sahaydachniy.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Alexander Hug, the first deputy chairman of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. Ukraine will be represented by Viktor Muzhenko, Chief of the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

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First Russian-made high-power turbine fell apart during tests
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 19:00:07 GMT
Description:

The Russian gas turbine created by the Rostec Corporation as part of import phase-out program fell apart during tests, Reuters reports.

The prototype, a modernized version of 110М gas turbine unit fell apart during tests and cannot be restored, Reuters reports citing its sources. The tests were performed at the Saturn factory in Rybinsk which is a part of the Rostec state corporation. According to one of the sources, the tests were conducted in December. There were efforts to restore the prototype to working condition by March but to no avail.

The Russian authorities included the redesign of the turbine 110M in the import phase-out program expecting to satisfy local demand with domestic equipment. The joint venture company of the Inter RAO energy holding, Rusnano and Saturn corporations runs the project. In 2012, both companies created a special engineering center to modernize the engine and create the gas turbine engine 110M.

Serial production of medium and heavy-duty gas turbines is not Russia’s forte. The first attempts to create them were in 1990 and the early 2000’s at the Saturn factory where several turbines were made but did go into serial production because they required further work. Gazprom bought the turbine but later refused to use it.

Most new Russian power stations were built on turbines imported from Siemens, French Alstom, American General Electric, and Italian Ansaldo Energia.

The Russian Ministry of Energy estimates the domestic demand from 2020 to 2035 will require 80 gas turbines with capacity ranging from 50 to 180 megawatts and 20 gas turbines at 300 megawatts.

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Ukraine's Navy Chief of Staff dismissed due to wife's Russian citizenship
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 18:00:07 GMT
Description:

The Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Stepan Poltorak dismissed the Navy Chief of Staff and First Deputy Commander of the Ukrainian Naval Forces, First Rank Captain Roman Gladky, reported Dumskaya Odessa news outlet, with reference to sources in the Ministry of Defense.

Gladky was suspended for the duration of an official investigation into possible financial and economic violations, as well as the alleged Russian citizenship of his wife.

According to Dumskaya Odessa, in the first two years of the military conflict, his wife continued to live with the children on the annexed peninsula. Gladky’s daughter performed at swimming competitions for the team of the Central Sports Club of the Russian Army.

Gladky’s first deputy, Rear Admiral Dmytro Taran will temporarily take up the duties of the chief of staff.

The Navy’s Facebook page states that this is not a suspension but "the measure taken by the order of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine to determine the future official position." The reasons for this decision are shortcomings in work performance according to the conclusion by the Chief Inspection office of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, which worked in one of the military units of the Ukrainian Navy.

Roman Gladky was born on September 9, 1975 in the Vinnytsa region. From 1997 to 2003, he held commander positions on the ships Lutsk and Kirovograd. From 2004 to 2013, he served on the Konstantin Olshansky ship.

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NATO Military Committee holds a historic first meeting in Lviv
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 17:00:06 GMT
Description:

The visiting session of the NATO Military Committee at the level of military representatives was held in the Hetman Petro Sahaidachnyi National Ground Forces Academy in Lviv.

Head of the Regional State Administration Oleg Synyutka wrote on Facebook: "For the first time in the history of Ukraine, the visiting session of the NATO Military Committee was held in the Lviv region."

According to the press service of the Lviv Regional State Administration, the head of the NATO Military Committee, General Petr Pavel assured support for Ukraine. "We will continue our work. We hope that there will be support for Ukraine from NATO," Pavel stressed.

The aims of the session were to continue the military-political dialogue between Ukraine and NATO, discuss the priority directions for the development of military cooperation and familiarize the NATO delegation with changes in the security situation in Ukraine and near its borders.

Earlier in April, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that membership in NATO is the only reliable mechanism that can ensure the security of Ukraine.

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Syrian Delegation arrives in annexed Crimea for Economic Forum
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 16:00:00 GMT
Description:

A delegation from Syria led by Minister of Economy and Foreign Trade Mohammad Samer al-Khalil has arrived in the annexed Crimea to participate in the Yalta International Economic Forum. The delegation was met at the airport by the Kremlin-appointed head of the Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov. The Crimea Inform News Agency reports that the delegation consists of seventy people.

"Our priority task is the development of economic and trade relations to link Syria and Russia at the same level as the political relations that now exist between our countries. This includes both an increase in bilateral trade turnover and an increase in the volume of investments. Proceeding from this, we consider our participation in the Yalta forum to be an excellent opportunity to establish working contacts for the realization of this goal,” Samer al-Khalil told Crimea Inform.

Aksyonov also said that the Syrian city of Latakia and the Ukrainian City of Yalta would conclude an agreement to become sister cities. The agreement will be signed within the framework of the Yalta Forum.

"The Crimea, as a subject of the Russian Federation, will actively participate in expanding cooperation with the Syrian Arab Republic. I am confident that the visit is of great political importance, and that after communication at the forum, we will also have economic contacts,” Aksenov said.

The fourth Yalta International Economic Forum will be held from April 19-21, 2018. On February 3, Russian media reported that German politicians from three regional parliaments, all affiliated with the Alternative for Germany party, had arrived in the Crimea.
Russian authorities for the Crimean peninsula are trying to legalize its annexation by inviting foreign citizens to the territory.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry constantly calls on foreigners and stateless persons to enter the Russian-annexed Crimea only in accordance with Ukrainian and international law.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has also previously stated that trips by foreign dignitaries to the Crimea do not have official status.

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US State Department confirms death of Russian mercenaries in Syria
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 15:00:04 GMT
Description:

Assistant US Secretary of State A. Wess Mitchell has said that Russian mercenaries are operating in Syria. Speaking on Wednesday at a House Foreign Affairs Committee meeting on the topic of "US Policy in the Troubled Middle East," he stressed that Moscow “professes a wish to defeat ISIS but directs its bombs at fighters and even civilians who oppose the regime [of Bashar al-Assad].”

He said that the Kremlin's actions could lead to further escalation of the conflict, threatening direct military confrontation in the United States.

"[Russia’s] reckless intervention in Syria and support for the Assad regime has raised the risk of confrontation with the West," Mitchell said. "The failed attack on U.S. forces by Russian mercenaries recently in Syria was one sobering example of this behavior."

Information was released on February 7 about an attempted attack on the headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces near the city of Deir-ez-Zor. According to various reports, up to two hundred assailants were killed as a result of the retaliatory attack, in which American forces participated. Later on, the media found evidence that citizens of the Russian Federation who signed contracts for service in the so-called Private military contractor (PMC) Wagner were among the casualties.

While answering Senate questions in the upper house of Congress last week, CIA director Mike Pompeo said that several "hundred" citizens of the Russian Federation were killed in one of the clashes in Syria.

The Russian authorities initially denied the death of Russians in the region, but then reported that the injured Russian citizens were not in military service but rather in Syria "on their own initiative."

Speaking in Congress, A. Wess Mitchell stressed that the US still expects to resolve the conflict in Syria through diplomatic means.

"We are pushing Russia to be a constructive participant in this process and to bring Assad to the negotiating table," said the US Assistant Secretary of State. “So far, Russia has ignored these calls and instead been a spoiler to Geneva."

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Kremlin bans Russia's state-owned corporations Roskosmos and Rosatom from entering US market
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:00:03 GMT
Description:

Without waiting for the results of the State Duma’s discussion of a package of counter-sanctions, the Russian government has banned the State Corporation for Space Activities, Roskosmos, and the state nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, from making contracts with companies from countries that uphold anti-Russian sanctions.

The newspaper Kommersant reported with reference to a source in parliament and to the directors of the state corporations that the decision was intended as a response to the “US’s confrontational politics” and will “strengthen the government’s control”.

The order to restrict contact with the outside world was signed last week by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. Several days later, Rogozin condemned the suggestion to terminate space collaboration with the US, calling it “shooting ourselves in the foot”.

Nevertheless, according to his instruction, from now on contracts with Rosatom and Roskosmos can only be made “in the event of political resolution”, a federal official told Kommersant.

The order is targeted in nature, aiming to prevent Russian technologies from being passed on to the US in the context of the Deep Space Gateway international near-moon station. Roskosmos and Boeing were planning to sign an agreement on the development of the airlock and life-support modules in the next few months.

The value of the deal was estimated at $15 million, but it was ultimately not signed “due to technological security considerations”.

Soon the session of the Export Commission will take place, during which the ruling to prohibit the transfer of said technologies to the US will be issued officially.

A similar ban is being put in place for Rosatom, which supplies the US with enriched uranium for nuclear power stations, Kommersant’s sources claim.

The US imports as much as 95% of the uranium it needs, and roughly half may come from Russia and Kazakhstan. Contracts already in effect will continue, but new contracts will only be possible with special authorization.

A similar regime has been envisaged for Roskosmos: the agreements signed to sell the US Russian RD-180/181 rocket engines, to take American astronauts to the International Space Station and to supply Soyuz-ST carrier rockets will remain in force.

However, the contracts may be broken off by a package of counter-sanctions that was proposed last week by the State Duma. A bill was put forward by spokesman Vyacheslav Volodin and the leaders of all four parties, demanding that all collaboration in the space and aviation sectors come to an end. However, its hearing has been postponed until May 15. Amendments will be made to the bill over the next two weeks, Federation Council Spokeswoman Valentina Matvienko announced.

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Ukrainian Security Service publishes list of Wagner mercenaries transported to Syria by Russian Navy
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:00:02 GMT
Description:

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has released a list of mercenaries from the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) who were transported to Syria by the Russian Navy, as announced in a statement by SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak, the department’s press service reports.

“Despite the statements by the Russian Defense Ministry concerning the supposed ‘unsuitability’ of the Varyag cruiser for transporting personnel and equipment, the SBU is disclosing a list of Wagner PMC mercenaries who were secretly shipped from Vladivostok to Syria on precisely this ship of the Russian Navy (Residents of Primorsky Krai, the Amur province and the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia),” the statement reads.

“I draw attention to the fact that for at least two mercenaries from this list (A. Krokhun and P. Solomonov), their voyage on board the Varyag was a one-way trip,” Hrytsak added.

“If the Russian Defense Ministry has ‘difficulties’ establishing the specific passport information and residential addresses of the aforementioned Russian citizens from the Wagner ikhtamnetov (‘they-are-not-theres’) in order to hold them criminally accountable for mercenary activities, the SBU is prepared to disclose this information in order to bring the truth to Russian citizens and eradicate the ‘ignorance’ of the senior officers of the Russian Defense Ministry,” the SBU head emphasized.

According to Hrytsak, SBU staff have questioned witnesses of the transportation of Wagner mercenaries by Russian naval forces. A former Russian soldier revealed that during his contract service between 2015 and 2017 on board the Varyag missile cruiser, he was repeatedly involved in the transportation of Wagner fighters and their heavy weaponry and ammunition to Syria.

Earlier Reuters carried out an investigation on the presence of Wagner mercenaries in Syria. The news outlet claims that the private Syrian aviation company Cham Wings flies between Damascus and Rostov-on-Don, bringing Russian mercenaries to Syria.

Reuters also reported that some of the Airbus and Boeing planes used for this purpose had been acquired or rented by the companies Khors and Dart, which are registered in Ukraine.

Khors and Dart deny the accusations that they had supplied companies under sanctions with airplanes.

On February 7, 300 Russian mercenaries were killed or injured in Syria. This took place when, together with the Syrian pro-government forces, they began an assault on the known positions of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, and were utterly defeated.

The Wagner PMC is comprised of Russians with ultra-nationalist convictions, as well as military veterans, several of whom have also fought in Ukraine.

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Russian officer comes under fire in Syrian Douma
Published: Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:00:02 GMT
Description:

A Russian officer was wounded while accompanying a group of UN security officers into the Syrian city of Douma, Kommersant reported, citing sources in Damascus. The work of the OPCW inspectors to investigate the chemical attack has once again been delayed.

The article notes that Russia’s Defense Ministry has been unable to acquire a prompt comment.

On April 18, Reuters reported that UN security staff had come under fire in Douma.

On April 16, the US accused Russia of not giving international experts access to the site of the probable chemical attack. Britain asked the UN secretariat to inform the Security Council within 24 hours about the placement and work of the OPCW mission sent into Douma.

On the night leading up to April 14, the US, Britain and France made a joint strike against Syrian facilities where chemical weapons had presumably been produced and stored. The reason for the strike was the report that chemical weapons had been used in the city of Douma on April 6 – the last settlement in Eastern Ghouta not controlled by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Western countries have held the Syrian military responsible for what took place. The OPCW has not yet confirmed the use of chemical weapons. 

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