Tag Archives: Petro Poroshenko

Ukrainian Su-25 fighter detected in close approach to MH17 before crash – Moscow

The Russian military detected a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet gaining height towards the MH17 Boeing on the day of the catastrophe. Kiev must explain why the military jet was tracking the passenger airplane, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

“A Ukraine Air Force military jet was detected gaining height, it’s distance from the Malaysian Boeing was 3 to 5km,” said the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov speaking at a media conference in Moscow on Monday.

“[We] would like to get an explanation as to why the military jet was flying along a civil aviation corridor at almost the same time and at the same level as a passenger plane,” he stated.

“The SU-25 fighter jet can gain an altitude of 10km, according to its specification,” he added. “It’s equipped with air-to-air R-60 missiles that can hit a target at a distance up to 12km, up to 5km for sure.”

The presence of the Ukrainian military jet can be confirmed by video shots made by the Rostov monitoring center, Kartopolov stated.

At the moment of the MH17 crash an American satellite was flying over the area of eastern Ukraine, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. It urged the US to publish the space photos and data captured by it.

‘Ukrainian Buk missile system transported to militia-held area’

In addition, MH17 crashed within the operating zone of the Ukrainian army’s self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air ‘Buk’ missile systems, the Russian general said.

“We have space images of certain places where the Ukraine’s air defense was located in the southeast of the country,” Kartapolov noted.

The first three shots that were shown by the general are dated July 14. The images show Buk missile launch systems in about 8km northwest of the city of Lugansk – a TELAR and two TELs, according to the military official.

Another image shows a radar station near Donetsk.

While the third picture shows the location of the air defense systems near Donetsk, he explained. In particular, one can clearly see a TELAR launcher and about 60 military and auxiliary vehicles, tents for vehicles and other structures, he elaborated.

“Images from this area were also made on July 17. One should notice that the missile launcher is absent [from the scene]. Image number five shows the Buk missile system in the morning of the same day in the area of settlement Zaroschinskoe – 50km south of Donetsk and 8km south of Shakhtyorsk,” the Kartapolov said

The question that has to be answered is why the missile system appeared in the area controlled by the local militia forces shortly before the catastrophe, he stated.

Images taken on July 18 show that the missile systems left the area of the MH17 crash, the military official said.

Kartapolov also pointed to the fact that on the day of the plane crash Ukraine’s military increased activity on the part of Ukraine’s Kupol-M1 9S18 radars, which are part of the Buk system.

..there were 7 radars operating on July 15, 8 radars operating on July 16, and 9 radars operating on July 17 in the area. Then, starting with July 18, the intensity of radar activities radically decreased, and now there are no more than two or three radars operating a day. The reason behind this is yet to be found.”

In response to Moscow’s evidence, Kiev said on Monday it had proof the missile that brought down a Malaysian airliner last week came from Russia.

There is evidence that the missile which struck the plane was fired by terrorists, who received arms and specialists from the Russian Federation,” spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council Andrey Lysenko told a news conference. “To disown this tragedy, [Russia] are drawing a lot of pictures and maps. We will explore any photos and other plans produced by the Russian side.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Monday that Kiev has “strong evidence” of the causes of the MH17 crash.

We know exactly the place [the surface-to-air missile was] launched, we know exactly the place where it hit the civilian plane and the place where the plane crashed.

Kiev is ready to hand the information to the international investigation commission, according to the presidential press-service.

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Militia down chopper near Slavyansk, 9 feared dead – military spokesman

Nine people are feared dead after self-defense forces in the Donetsk region shot down a Ukrainian army helicopter, which was used for transporting military cargo, a Kiev spokesman said.

The Mi-8 helicopter was downed “at about 5 pm local time at Karachun Mountain near Slavyansk by a rocket fired from a portable air defense system,” eastern Ukraine military operation spokesman, Vladislav Seleznyov, wrote on his Facebook page.

“There were nine people aboard the helicopter. According to preliminary information, all those aboard died in the crash,”
he said, adding that the helicopter was returning to a Ukrainian checkpoint after a cargo delivery mission.

The self-defense troops, who fired the missile, escaped to the nearby village of Bylbasovka, Seleznyov wrote.

The Ukraine’s National Guard fighters told the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper that the Mi-8 helicopter was downed during takeoff from Karachun Mountain (a strategic high point near Slavyansk where the Ukrainian army’s artillery is deployed).

The place where the shot came from has been established, with troops currently being deployed there, the source in the National Guard added.

The Ukrainian forces continued shelling the village of Semyonovka on the outskirts of Slavyansk on Tuesday night and during the day, the self-defense forces of the People’s Republic of Donetsk told ITAR-TASS news agency earlier.

The heavy artillery fire has prevented the self-defense forces from recovering the bodies of two of its troops killed the previous day, they said.

“There’s no living thing left in the village. Everything is devastated, including factories and railway crossings,” the self-defense forces stressed. “The houses are abandoned. Nobody is harvesting crops from their gardens.”

Meanwhile, the town of Slavyansk remains without a water supply, with the majority of shops and pharmacies staying closed.

Also on Tuesday, a crew from Russia’s Channel One was caught in the shelling outside Slavyansk; the journalists luckily avoided injury.

Also, fighting is currently underway in the suburbs of the city of Donetsk, said Aleksandr Boroday, prime minister of the People’s Republic of Donetsk.

“Artillery and armored vehicles are being used,” he told RIA-Novosti news agency, adding people have already been killed and injured in the fighting.

President Vladimir Putin has expressed concern over the resumption of hostilities in Slavyansk and urged Kiev to strive to bring about an end to the bloodshed in southeastern Ukraine.

“Unfortunately, now I have relevant information that in one of the most troubled areas – near the city of Slavyansk – the fighting is currently underway; [Kiev’s] paratroopers have landed there and there are already victims. It’s sad,” Putin said during a press-conference in Vienna, Austria.

Read more: Putin: Weeklong cease-fire in Ukraine should be extended, accompanied by talks

The fighting in the Donetsk region is continuing despite the seven-day ceasefire announced by Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, on June 20, which was agreed to by the self-defense forces on Monday.

Putin stressed that “the declarations should be backed by real actions, otherwise none of the problems will be solved.”

“Simply declaring a ceasefire isn’t enough,” the Russian president said, calling on the sides to begin “substantive negotiations” on the matter as soon as possible.

“Seven days of ceasefire is insufficient,” he added.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has not excluded the possibility of a premature cancellation of the ceasefire in the country’s southeast, the president’s press service said.

During a meeting with the heads of the country’s security agencies, he touched upon the issue of the downed helicopter, saying that the self-defense forces have no respect for the truce.

According to the president, Kiev’s forces have come under fire 35 times since he announced his peace plan last week.

Poroshenko gave the security agencies “an order to open fire without hesitation” on the self-defense forces,” the president’s press service said.

But the authorities of the People’s Republic of Donetsk said the “so-called ceasefire,” which Porosheko now wants to cancel, “was never in place.”

“The Ukrainian security forces began shelling Semyonovka and Slavyansk in the morning,” Miroslav Rudenko, one of the Donbas self-defense leaders, told Interfax news agency, adding that the artillery fire was less intense than in previous days, but still steady.

“It was only a declaration [of truce]. On the ground, hostilities didn’t stop even for an hour,”
he added.

Obama pledges $1bn for more troops, military drills in E. Europe

With an F-16 fighter in the background, U.S. President Barack Obama and Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski (R) shake hands upon Obama’s arrival at Chopin Airport in Warsaw June 3, 2014

President Obama has announced a plan to invest $1 billion in stepping up its military presence in Eastern Europe amid the Ukrainian crisis. The White House will send more troops and equipment to the region to “reaffirm” its commitment to NATO allies.

Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw, Obama said America was stepping up its partnership with countries in Eastern Europe with a view to bolstering security. The moves are aimed at upping the pressure on Russia, which Washington has accused of inciting unrest in Ukraine.

In line with the plans, Obama will ask Congress to provide up to $1 billion to finance the deployment of more troops and equipment.

“Under this effort, and with the support of Congress, the United States will preposition more equipment in Europe,” Obama said at the Polish capital’s Belweder Palace.

With F-16 fighters in the background, U.S. President Barack Obama makes remarks next to Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski (R) at a military airport near Warsaw June 3, 2014

Earlier in the day Obama met with US and Polish air personnel in Warsaw and said the US had already begun rotating additional soldiers in the region.

“Given the situation in Ukraine right now, we have also increased our American presence. We’ve begun rotating additional ground troops and F-16 aircraft into Poland… to help our forces support NATO air missions,” said Obama, calling the commitment to NATO allies in Europe “the cornerstone of our own security.”

Obama called on Moscow to refrain from further provocation in Ukraine and said it has a responsibility to work constructively with the new government in Kiev. He added that the troop buildup in Eastern Europe was not meant to threaten Russia, but “rebuilding trust may take some time.”

The American president will meet with newly-elected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during his two-day stay in Poland.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski praised Washington’s plans to beef up military forces in the region.

“We welcome them as an announcement of a real return by NATO to standing very strongly by the basis of the alliance, which is Article 5, which speaks about the collective defense of the countries’ territories,” Komorowski said.

Paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team participate in training exercises with the Polish 6 Airborne Brigade soldiers at the Land Forces Training Centre in Oleszno near Drawsko Pomorskie, north west Poland, May 1, 2014

Russia has decried the increase in NATO troops close to its border as a blatant provocation and accused the organization of fueling violence in Ukraine. Moscow has said it is ready for dialogue with Poroshenko, but has urged the newly elected President to halt the “anti-terror operation” in the east of Ukraine.

“NATO is providing Kiev – a member of its Partnership for Peace program – with technical assistance, thus encouraging the prolongation of its use of force. Thus the Alliance accepts a part of the responsibility for the escalation of the situation, and the collapse of diplomatic negotiations,” said Aleksandr Grushko, Russia’s envoy to NATO.

Thus far the US has deployed 600 troops for military drills in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.

John Rees, British political analyst and national officer at Stop the War Coalition, told RT the US’ moves were indicative of an “expansionist mood” which could usher in a “dangerous period of interstate rivalry.”

Rees said operation Rapid Trident, a joint US, UK and Ukrainian military drill due to take place next month, could escalate the current crisis even further.

“I cannot think of anything more dangerous in the current circumstances than to have a deployment of UK and US troops alongside Ukrainian troops this summer,” he told RT.

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Meet the Brains Behind Ukraine’s Massive Protests

Here’s a look at the politicians and street organizers driving Ukraine’s “EuroMaydan” protests (a movement supporting integration with the European Union) following President Viktor Yanukovych‘s decision to reject an EU trade deal under pressure from Moscow.

Yehor Sobolev, one of the “commandants” of Kyiv‘s EuroMaydan protests, has kept a watchful eye on Viktor Yanukovych since his early days as a financial reporter in the president’s hometown of Donetsk. In 2004, as a freelance journalist, he gained rare access to Yanukovych and his staff during the controversial election that led to the Orange Revolution and the first Maydan protests.

Sobolev went on to tackle censorship on Ukraine’s central television channels as head of Kyiv’s media labor union and became the co-host of the popular Vremya news program. He abandoned television, however, after fallouts with oligarchs Petro Poroshenko, the head of Vremya broadcaster Channel 5, and Rinat Akhmetov, who broke Sobolev’s contract just two hours after hiring him as a top editor at his Ukrayina station. (Sobolev’s wife, Marichka Padalka, is herself a popular television host.)

Sobolev went on to create an independent center for investigative reporting, but finally left journalism for good this year, with the formation of his political activist group, Volya (Will). One of his first actions was storming the Kyiv city administration this summer in a protest over the failure to hold a mayoral election. As EuroMaydan continues, Sobolev has proved an able strategist, mapping out blockades and urging cool heads.

“Throwing stones only hurts people and takes away our moral high ground,” he wrote in a December 2 blog post, one day after violent clashes between protesters and police outside the presidential administration building. “Give [the authorities] a chance to feel that no one need be thrown out. Show even Yanukovych himself that it’s possible to walk away. Lure ministers and regional leaders with the notion of joining the people before it’s too late. Between this and paralyzing the streets, the government will fall.”

Many EuroMaydan participants were chagrined when a group of masked demonstrators broke away from what had been a peaceful mass protest, using a truck and brute force to storm past riot police into the presidential administration building on December 1. The strong-arm tactics, which police met with truncheons and tear gas, have sparked rumors of a provocation aimed at steering the pro-European demonstrations off-course. And some suspect the ringleader may be Dmytro Korchinskiy, the 49-year-old leader of Bratstvo (Brotherhood), a political organization that describes its ideology as “Christian Orthodox national-anarchism.”

Korchinskiy wields both pen and sword: a published poet and philosopher, he was also the founder of the 1990s ultra-radical Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA) and the head of its paramilitary wing. During his time with the UNA, Korchinskiy was given to fierce pronouncements, saying death was the only path to self-discovery. For Bratstvo, however, he has adopted a more playful tone, describing politics as a “fun” vocation that falls somewhere between literature and music.

Websites reported eyewitnesses as saying Korchinskiy, with his distinctive mustache, was visible among the crowd that first stormed the presidential building, but soon disappeared from the scene. The Interior Ministry later announced that as many as 300 Bratstvo members had participated in the siege. Critics have taken to Twitter, calling him a “cockroach” in the alleged pay of pro-Russian strategist Viktor Medvedchuk. Korchinskiy has denied the claims, saying Yanukovych is to blame for the protest’s violent turn. “If the Ukrainian people only disliked him yesterday, today they hate him,” he said. “This is no longer a public protest, it’s an uprising.”

Some Maydan protesters are motivated by their longing for the West. Others, like nationalist Oleh Tyahnybok, are motivated by the loathing of the East. Tyahnybok is the 45-year-old head of Ukraine’s Svoboda (Freedom) political movement, which stormed Kyiv’s city administration building on December 1 and has since called for a national strike. “A revolution is starting in Ukraine,” said Tyahnybok, who has accused Russia of “waging virtual war” on Ukraine; he has called for a visa regime with Russia and argued against the introduction of Russian as a second state language.

Tyahnybok, who has had a long, slow-growing career, may also see the protests as a political opportunity. Tyahnybok first entered parliament in 1998 and eventually won reelection as a member of Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine bloc. But his nationalist views eventually saw him ousted from the bloc, and have routinely set back his political progress, with critics regularly accusing him of anti-Semitism.

In 2012, after failed presidential and mayoral runs, Tyahnybok reentered the Verkhovna Rada on his own terms, as the head of Svoboda’s parliamentary faction. But his support of the Maydan protests has not endeared him to many fellow lawmakers: during a December 2 interview, Tyahnybok showed head wounds he said were the work of parliament members irate over his role in the protests.

For a country with a famously fractious opposition, Tyahnybok is for now a team player, strategizing with mainstream opposition figures Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Vitali Klitschko. When it comes to Klitschko, the common ground extends beyond politics: Tyahnybok’s father was himself a celebrated boxer. But with Tyahnybok opposed to EU integration, it’s far from certain the opposition leaders will see eye-to-eye if the protests continue.

The best-known player not behind bars in Ukraine’s ongoing political showdown, Vitali Klitschko has a vested interest in keeping the protests going strong. The heavyweight boxing champion, 42, has made no secret of his presidential ambition, and launched his UDAR party in 2010 with the aim of running for the post in 2015. And the weaker Yanukovych looks, the stronger Klitschko appears.

Klitschko’s stance is firmly pro-European and anti-corruption; he has been a fixture of the EuroMaydan protests since the government’s decision to reject an EU trade deal on November 21. He has since called on Yanukovych to step down, and has introduced a draft resolution in parliament aimed at what he called a “complete resetting” of the Ukrainian state.  But he’s also played peacemaker, defusing potential protester violence and staring down drunken street critics — literally — from his vantage point of 1.98 meters. “If Klitschko does become Ukrainian president some time,” tweeted “The Guardian’s” Shaun Walker, “Putin is going to dread those joint press conferences.”

The Euro Maydan protests are about a lot more than the jailing of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. But the presence of lawmaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the leader of her Batkivshchina (Fatherland) opposition party, is a constant reminder of her continued influence on Ukraine’s political scene.

Which is not to say that Yatsenyuk is a place-holder. The 39-year-old party leader is one of Ukraine’s most powerful opposition politicians, having served as economy and foreign minister as well as parliament speaker.

As the leader of Fatherland, Yatsenyuk oversees the second-largest party in Ukraine and theoretically could represent a direct numerical threat to Yanukovych’s Party of Regions should his regime’s fortunes continue to fade. Yatsenyuk has called on Ukraine’s prime minister, Mykola Azarov, to resign as a “first step” toward a government overhaul.

Meet the Brains Behind Ukraine’s Massive Protests – Daisy Sindelar – The Atlantic.