Ukraine top executives killed in crash

Strasbourg 18.01.2023 The three leading figures in Ukraine’s interior Ministry have been killed in a helicopter crash next to a nursery in an eastern suburb of the capital Kyiv – Brovary.

Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky, 42, died alongside his first deputy Minister and State secretary.

Nine people were killed when the helicopter came down in Brovary and another nine died on the ground, including three children.

Minister Monastyrsky is the highest profile Ukrainian casualty since the war broke out on February 24, 2022.

The deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said the Minister had been on errand to a war “hot spot” when his helicopter went down.

There is no indication the crash was anything other than an accident, although witnesses said Russia’s war was to blame for the disaster.

“It was very foggy and there was no electricity, and when there’s no electricity there are no lights on the buildings,” local resident Volodymyr told the BBC.

The 42-year-old Interior minister was a prominent member of President Volodymy Zelensky’s cabinet. The top executive played a key role in updating the public on casualties caused by Russian missile strikes since Ukraine was invaded in February 2022.

Gen.Clark: Ukraine can regain control over Crimea

Brussels 12.01.2023 Since August, Ukraine has conducted successful counteroffensives in the north and south, taking back over 50 percent of the territory that Moscow seized after the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022. Ukraine has also conducted successful strikes on Russian military bases in Crimea and on Black Sea Fleet near Sevastopol (pictured).

Some experts have argued that now is the time for Ukraine to retake Crimea, nine years after Vladimir Putin’s annexation in 2014. Were Ukraine to move in the south and break the land Kerch bridge running from Russia to Crimea, Moscow’s hold on the peninsula would be in danger.

Ukraine can regain control over Crimea, said Gen.Wes Clark, on condition it would be given the offensive weapons. The retired general expressed his opinion of a strong possibility of such a scenario on condition of the U.S. military support in the various fields, including intelligence.

Image: social media.

Putin announces Xmas cease-fire

Brussels 05.01.2023 Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday ordered a 36-hour cease-fire in Ukraine over Orthodox Christmas, the first major truce of the more than 10-month war that has killed tens of thousands and devastated swaths of Ukraine.

Putin ordered the cease-fire to begin on January 6, the Kremlin said. Many Orthodox Christians, including those living in Russia and Ukraine, celebrate Christmas on January 6-7.

Putin did not appear to make his conditional on Ukrainian agreement to follow suit.

But it wasn’t clear whether hostilities would actually halt on the 684-mile front line. Ukrainian officials have previously dismissed Russian peace moves as playing for time to regroup their forces and prepare for additional attacks. A senior Ukrainian official quickly dismissed the proposal.

“The Russian Federation must leave the occupied territories — only then will it have a ‘temporary truce.’ Keep hypocrisy to yourself,” presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak wrote on Twitter.

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, called earlier Thursday for both sides of the war in Ukraine to observe a Christmas truce.

Lavrov: Donbass “must be liberated”

Brussels 29.12.2022 The Donetsk (DNR) and Lugansk People’s Republics (LPR), as well as the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, which joined Russia following referendums, “need to be liberated”, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said to Russian Channel One TV. (Image above: archive)

While answering a question about the borders of the regions that he was referring to, Lavrov said: “I am certainly talking about their borders as parts of the Russian Federation, based on the Russian Constitution.”

“It stems from the people’s will expressed in the four regions. It happened a while ago in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and this fall in the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions,” Lavrov added.

The top diplomat underlined that Russia was determined to make sure that its special military operation would achieve its goals. The four regions “need to be liberated from the threat of Nazification that they have faced for years” he added.

From September 23 to September 27, the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR), as well as the Kherson Region and the Zaporozhye Region, held referendums where the majority of voters opted to join Russia. On September 30, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the heads of the DPR and the LPR, the Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions signed treaties on their accession to Russia. On October 4, Putin signed laws ratifying the treaties.

Russia refuses gaz price dictatorship

Brussels 19.12.2022 “This is a violation of the market pricing process, an encroachment on market processes. Any references to the “ceiling” are unacceptable,” the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov (pictured) said to the reporters, reacting upon the EU Energy ministers decision to create a cartel of gas buyers to dictate price of Russian natural gas.

The EU countries have agreed on a dynamic gas price ceiling of €180 per MWh (approximately €1.85 thousand per thousand cubic meters), which will apply from February 15, 2023. This is stated in a statement issued by the EU Council on Monday, December 19.

Winter 2023/24: point of no return for the European Union?
“The gas price correction mechanism can be activated from February 15 under two conditions: if the gas price holds for three days at the level of €180 and if the difference between TTF (EU) prices and the average world price for liquefied natural gas is more than €35 “, the document says.

The corridor for setting prices for futures will be limited to the mark, which is equal to the average price of LNG on the world market plus €35. It will be impossible to place trading positions above this mark with the current price correction mechanism.

“Thus, this mechanism does not set a hard price ceiling, but it will prevent the occurrence of sharp jumps in gas prices,” European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said at a press conference in Brussels.

Lavrov: Russia resists sanctions

Brussels 19.12.2022 Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Belarusian counterpart Sergey Aleinik discussed the Ukrainian crisis and ways to resist the West’s waves of sanctions pressure at a meeting on Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, TASS news agency reports.

“The parties exchanged views on international and regional issues, including the situation around the Ukrainian crisis. They reaffirmed their determination to coordinate steps on international platforms and efforts to resist the political and illegal sanctions pressure that Russia and Belarus have been facing from unfriendly countries,” the statement reads.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the parties also discussed pressing bilateral issues, interaction within the Union State and other Eurasian organisations. “Special attention was paid to ensuring diplomatic support for the implementation of Union State programs concerning the economic integration of the two countries, cooperation within the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States], Russia’s upcoming chairmanship of the EAEU [Eurasian Economic Union] and Belarus’s chairmanship of the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization],” the statement added.

The diplomats also discussed upcoming foreign policy events, including preparations for a joint board meeting of the Russian and Belarusian foreign ministries.

NATO: Russia as “terrorist state”

Strasbourg 22.11.2022 The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) on Monday 21 November supported the proposal of the Ukrainian delegation and adopted a unanimous resolution defining Russia as a “terrorist state” during its 68th Annual Session.

The PA passed a series of resolutions calling on the 30 NATO allies to intensify support to Ukraine’s resistance and assistance to the country’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions. The PA announced to the allies that the “Russian state under the current regime is a terrorist one.”

President of the PA Joëlle Garriaud-Maylam condemned Russia´s war on Ukraine and noted that “Western allies had failed to listen to the warnings of their Eastern partners before President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine.”

“Now, no doubt is possible, Russian leaders, are acting like real terrorists, showing unprecedent barbarism by attacking civilians and civilian infrastructure. We must act, and they must be judged as terrorists in front of international tribunals. As NATO parliamentarians, we must support Ukraine, we must support its people. People who are everyday showing courage and resilience in the service of our values of Freedom, democracy and sovereignity”, the president Garriaud-Maylam declared.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Assembly through video conferencing and called the NATO Allies to stand firm against Russian aggression and step up support to Ukraine.

“Ukrainians are sure we can defend ourselves in this war, we can reinstate our borders, European borders, along the full length of our southern and eastern flanks. The power of our democracy will be a guarantee that no tyranny to the east of us will be able to threaten Europe.

Other international bodies have also condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine.On October 13, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. (PACE) unanimously adopted a resolution calling the Russian Federation a terrorist regime. PACE became the first international organisation to recognise Russia as a terrorist state. PACE passed another resolution on November 16 to recognise Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. On November 14, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution stating that Russia must be held accountable for international law violations during its war in Ukraine and must pay war reparations.

U.S. Division ready to enter Ukraine

Brussels 22.10.2022 The U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division is ready to enter Ukraine in case of further tensions between Moscow and Kiev or an attack on a NATO ally, CBS News reported, citing the division’s command staff.

“We’re ready to defend every inch of NATO soil,” the division’s Deputy Commander Brigadier General John Lubas said, as cited by the media outlet. Commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Colonel Edwin Matthaidess, in turn, underlined that his troops, deployed to Romania, have been “closely watching” the Russian manoeuvre, “building objectives to practice against” and conducting drills that “replicate exactly what’s going on” in the war.

“In all, about 4,700 soldiers from the 101st Airborne’s home base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, have been deployed to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank,” CBS News noted.

“The commanders told CBS News repeatedly that they are always ‘ready to fight tonight,’ and while they’re there to defend NATO territory, if the fighting escalates or there’s any attack on NATO, they’re fully prepared to cross the border into Ukraine,” the media outlet added.

On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation based on a request from the heads of the Donbass self-proclaimed republics. In response, the West imposed major sanctions on Russia, claiming Ukraine territorial integrity. In addition, Western countries started to massively provide weapons and military equipment to Kiev, whose total value is currently estimated at billions of dollars. However, US President Joe Biden has repeatedly stated that he has no plans to send US troops to Ukraine.

Crimea: Kerch bridge explosion

Brussels 08.10.2922 fire is burning on the Kirch Strait Bridge that connects Russia to Crimea Saturday morning, with images showing multiple train cars fully engulfed and two spans of the road bridge in the water. The Ministry of Transport of Russia told RBC news that the coastal infrastructure is ready for the resumption of the operation of the Kerch ferry crossing. As of 08:30 Moscow time, the first ferry started moving to the terminal for loading and starting transportation, three more ferries of various ship owners are preparing to enter the crossing.

Traffic on the bridge, a critical strategic artery for Russian forces in Crimea amid its war in Ukraine, has reportedly been halted as heavy flames and black smoke spew from a train carrying unknown cargo. Photos also show spans of both east and westbound lanes have collapsed into the water near the burning train.

The bridge cost billions to build after Russia seized Crimea in 2014 and has been one of Ukraine’s top targets, although it lacked traditional weaponry capable of striking it from far away. Even the Pentagon has openly stated that it sees the bridge as a viable target for Ukrainian forces. Russia has deployed air defenses and decoy barges in an attempt to protect it from some kind of attack in recent months.

As it becomes clear from the conversations of local inhabitants, filming the fire, they talk about “flight”, which is colloquial for air missile strike.

Saint-Petersburg festivities cancelled

Brussels 07.10.2022 Traditional Christmas and New Year celebrations in Saint Petersburg will be cancelled and all previously allocated funds for the festivities will be channelled to finance volunteers and mobilised troops of the “special military operation” (SMO) in Ukraine, the municipal authorities said in a statement on Friday, October 7. (Image: Saint-Petersburg, Russia)

“During a session with Governor Alexander Beglov with members of the municipal administration it was decided to cancel previously scheduled events dedicated to New Year festivities,” the statement reads.

“All available funds will be channelled into a special Saint Petersburg stipulating extra outfit and gear for volunteers and mobilised citizens,” Beglov said.

It was previously noted that all mobilised people in Saint Petersburg would be paid a bonus of 100,000 rubles (over $1,600), while volunteers would get 300,000 rubles in bonuses (over $4,800).

Mayor of the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod Yury Shalabayev also stated that previously scheduled New Year and Christmas celebrations, including music concerts and festivities, would be cancelled and all previously allocated financial means would be channelled to aid the families of mobilised Russian nationals.

“I have received numerous questions via social websites from our citizens about planned mass festivities, concerts and fireworks to mark the New Year. My response is no, although we planned them initially,” he said.

“However, we will still carry on with New Year celebrations for children and festive events in schools and kindergartens,” the mayor of Nizhny Novgorod added.

On September 21, President Vladimir Putin declared a partial mobilisation in Russia. Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu clarified that 300,000 reservists would be called up, who would undergo training before being sent to the special military operation zone.

The partial mobilization will not involve students and conscripts. Only citizens who have prior combat experience and military specializations needed for the operation will be mobilized. The defense chief emphasized that the call-up is being carried out first and foremost to support the territories liberated during the special military operation.