Radio Free Europe, June 30. NATO head Jens Stoltenberg has outlined additional support for Kyiv, including aid in defusing roadside bombs, and warned of a return to heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine. Speaking in Brussels at a June 25 meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council, Stoltenberg also urged Moscow to halt its support for pro-Russia rebels. The Council was set up by NATO to coordinate relations with nonmember Ukraine after the end of the Cold War.
Stoltenberg said NATO is creating a new trust fund that will help with removing mines and detecting and destroying improvised explosive devices. Those steps, he said, will be vital for saving lives in a conflict that has killed more than 6,500 people since April last year. Stoltenberg also said the alliance is taking steps to better secure the airspace in the region. MORE
KyivPost June 17. HORLIVKA, Ukraine – Like many cities near the war front in eastern Ukraine, this city has never seen a cease-fire. Along the small country roads that lead to Horlivka, bridges are destroyed and tank tracks are clearly visible. The separatist-held city is located some 40 kilometers north of Russian-occupied Donetsk, and only a few kilometers from the demarcation line with Ukrainian-held territory. It had a pre-war population of 272,000, today it has 180,000, according to the United Nations. February's Minsk II agreement to withdraw all heavy artillery has clearly not been implemented in this city, though separatist soldiers guarding several checkpoints have a different point of view. “There are no tanks here anymore,” a separatist fighter said, introducing himself only as Petrovich. He guards the second checkpoint leading to Horlivka, still a place of intense fighting. “We only use small arms and light artillery if the enemy shoots at us. We have never violated the cease-fire.” MORE
RFERI, June 17. The U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says Washington may consider putting intermediate-range nuclear weapons in Europe, and Britain's top diplomat says the United Kingdom would consider hosting them.
A Russian military plane buzzes NATO warships in the Baltic Sea; a Russian fighter jet comes within 3 meters of a U.S. spy plane over the Black Sea; and U.S. and Russian naval officers meet to to discuss how to avoid an accidental clash at sea or in the air.
The Pentagon announces plans to station heavy weapons in the Baltic states; and Moscow pledges to retaliate by speeding up the deployment of Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad and beefing up Russian forces in Belarus. MORE
ViceNews, June 16. As the conflict in Ukraine continues, so too does Russian President Vladimir Putin's denial of any Russian involvement. But a recent report from think tank the Atlantic Council used open source information and social media to find evidence of Russian troops across the border.
Using the Atlantic Council's methodology, VICE News correspondent Simon Ostrovsky follows the digital and literal footprints of one Russian soldier, tracking him from eastern Ukraine to Siberia, to prove that Russian soldiers are fighting in Ukraine. MORE
KievPost. Russia is impotent. It cannot move any further than the territory it currently controls, as was demonstrated last week when Russian forces advanced alongside the few locals they have fighting for them on the town of Mariinka. The assault was instantly condemned and there were immediate comments from the right people about “increasing costs” to Russia.
Russia’s further movement out of the areas currently occupied is not only hampered by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission, whose report about the events leading up to the Mariinka assault pulled no punches, but it is in fact also now hampered by what has become a quite professional and capable Ukrainian army.
Theirs is a fighting capacity that is based on anabsolute determination from Ukraine’s service personnel to remove foreign invaders from their land. They are true Ukrainian patriots and they formidably stand in the way of Russian President Vladimir Putin grabbing any more of their country or subjugating anymore of their country folk. MORE
OaklandPress, June 11, 2015. Metropolitan Detroit Ukrainian-Americans continue to send supplies to their homeland to help thousands of Ukrainians displaced by the military conflict and those supporting fighters. One organization recently sent a load of mostly medical and first-responder supplies, and another organization is collecting supplies, clothes and household items through the end of June to transport to Ukraine.
“They’re giving until it hurts, and then they give some more,” said Andrey Duzyj of Warren, of contributors to the effort by the Detroit Chapter of the Ukrainian Congress of America, which has made several shipments. The Congress last week packed up a shipment of supplies collected at Dnipro Ukrainian Gift Shop on Ryan Road in Warren, next to the Ukrainian Cultural Center. MORE
LATimes, June 11, 2015. Only six years ago, President Vladimir Putin visited the Polish port of Gdansk, birthplace of the Solidarity movement that threw off Soviet domination, and reassured his Eastern European neighbors that Russia had only friendly intentions.
Putin spoke harshly that day of the notorious World War II-era pact that former Soviet leader Josef Stalin had signed with Adolf Hitler — an agreement that cleared the way for the Nazi occupation of Poland and Soviet domination of the Baltics — calling it a "collusion to solve one's problems at others' expense." But Putin's view of history appears to have undergone a startling transformation.
Last month, the Russian leader praised the 1939 nonaggression accord with Hitler as a clever maneuver that forestalled war with Germany. MORE
Newsweek, June 10, 2015. Is Vladimir Putin mounting a charm offensive, a military offensive or both? Last month, Russia’s president greeted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with conspicuous warmth at a newly built palace in Sochi for their first meeting since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis. They talked about eastern Ukraine’s future not as a piece of Russia, nor as a Kremlin-backed breakaway republic, but under the rule of Kiev.
Summoning his friendliest smile, Putin proclaimed at his annual spring press conference that his country “has no enemies.” And as if on cue, the Russian-backed leaders of Ukraine’s breakaway regions announced that the idea of Novorossiya—a czarist-era term describing a swath of southern Ukraine that Putin used to hint belonged back under Moscow’s control—is officially dead. MORE
KyivPost, June 7, 2015. Over the past year, I have published several op-ed pieces in the Jerusalem Post warning that Vladimir Putin’s Russia, with its blend of aggressive nationalism and paranoia, will turn on its Jews. Many of my liberal friends in Russia responded by assuring me that Putin is not an anti-Semite. There have even been rumors that he’s at least partially Jewish himself, as well as speculation that he is, perhaps, mindful of the fate of other rulers throughout history who tangled with the Jews - including, most recently, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. Be that as it may, the ugly official anti-Semitism - with its quotas on college admissions, glass ceilings ruining careers and endless attacks on Zionism in the media - has indeed disappeared since the fall of the Soviet Union. MORE
New York Times, June 7, 2015 — WASHINGTON — The war in Ukraine that has pitted Russia against the West is being waged not just with tanks, artillery and troops. Increasingly, Moscow has brought to bear different kinds of weapons, according to American and European officials: money, ideology and disinformation. Even as the Obama administration and its European allies try to counter Russia’s military intervention across its border, they have found themselves struggling at home against what they see as a concerted drive by Moscow to leverage its economic power, finance European political parties and movements, and spread alternative accounts of the conflict. MORE
New York Times, June 5, 2015 — WASHINGTON — After Russia annexed Crimea last year, Congress passed legislation that forced the Pentagon to stop buying Russian rocket engines that have been used since 2000 to help launch American military and intelligence satellites into space.
Now, that simple act of punishment is proving difficult to keep in place. Only five months after the ban became law, the Pentagon is pressing Congress to ease it. The Pentagon says that additional Russian engines will be needed for at least a few more years to ensure access to space for the country’s most delicate defense and intelligence technology. MORE
New York Times, June 5, 2015 — MARIUPOL, Ukraine — Fighting broke out Wednesday between separatist forces and Ukrainian soldiers on the outskirts of Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 19 people, officials from both sides said, and threatening an already fragile cease-fire.
Through the day, a seesaw battle was waged with tanks and rocket launchers for control of two small towns, Maryinka and Krasnohorivka, held by the government. Medics reported Ukrainian forces reeling in bloody and chaotic street fighting, and Ukrainian television said 25 soldiers had been wounded. MORE
Business Insider, June 5, 2015 — NATO allies should be prepared to arm Ukraine's military if Russia continues to destabilize its western neighbor, says Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the man who once headed the world's most powerful military alliance. “If Russia continues to destabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine, I think NATO allies should consider positively the delivery of defensive weapons," Fogh Rasmussen, who left his post recently after five years, told GlobalPost during a conversation in this Atlantic coast resort town. “NATO allies do have an obligation to help Ukraine.” MORE
Russia Direct, June 5, 2015 — As the West attempts to apply pressure on Moscow with economic sanctions, Russian businesses and the Kremlin are investing in lobbying efforts in the U.S. and the EU to minimize their impact. This Brief addresses whether these efforts have been successful so far, and hypothesizes what future lobbying efforts within the U.S. and the EU might accomplish, especially with regard to sanctions. The author of this Brief is Sergei Kostiaev, a leading expert in the field and associate professor at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation. In his analysis, Kostiaev looks into exactly which Russian entities are hiring Western lobby firms, analyzes their budgets using the latest available statistics and outlines the goals they are trying to achieve. MORE
The Guardian, June 4, 2015 — A major battle has erupted on the western edge of the main separatist rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine, leaving more than a dozen people dead and threatening to tip the country back into full-blown war. Rebels in the city of Donetsk reported 15 dead on Wednesday, some civilians and some combatants, in territory under their control. The Ukrainian interior ministry said at least one person was killed in Marinka, the government-held town where fighting was centred. Ukrainian presidential adviser Yury Biryukov cited the Ukrainian general staff as saying two Ukrainian soldiers died in combat and that another 30 were wounded. Each side is blaming the other for sparking this round of unrest. The general staff said in a statement that rebels deployed around 1,000 fighters and dozens of tanks and self-propelled artillery systems in a major offensive that started before dawn. MORE
KyivPost, June 1, 2015 — A combined Russian-separatist force of 1,000, the size of a regiment, attacked the western Donetsk suburb of Maryinka on the morning of June 3, military spokesman Yevhen Sylkin told Channel 5. They also amassed forces near Krasnohorivka, which flanks Maryinka to the north. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the offensive was ordered directly by the Kremlin. “Yesterday, Russia broke up the meeting of the trilateral contact group, and today Russia ordered its terrorists to launch a military operation (against Ukraine),” Yatsenyuk was cited as saying by Interfax-Ukraine. His comments came amid fierce battles in the east that had been ongoing since 4 a.m., with reports of heavy weaponry and mounting casualties. Ukrainian news agency Hromadske.tv cited a volunteer medic, Armen Nikogosyan, as saying separatist forces used Grad rockets to encircle Ukrainian forces. MORE
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Preventing humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine