This amateur photo made available on Oct 19 2014 by the Swedish Defence Ministry shows an object in the sea near Stockholm. Sweden released the grainy photo of a mysterious vessel in Stockholm’s archipelago, as the military hunted for a foreign submarine or divers in the country’s biggest such mobilization since the Cold War. (Photo: Reuters/Swedish Defence Ministry/Handout/TT News Agency)
Shelling in east Ukraine’s Donetsk kills four civilians
Reuters, Oct 19 2014
DONETSK – Four civilians were killed and nine wounded by shrapnel during fighting on Saturday and Sunday in eastern Ukraine’s separatist stronghold city of Donetsk, local officials said. Pro-Russian rebels and government forces have continued to clash on the city’s outskirts despite a Sep 5 ceasefire accord that has generally contained violence in other parts of the country’s contested east (really? – RB). Speaking at a daily security briefing in Kiev on Sunday, military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said 13 Ukrainian servicemen had been wounded in the past 24 hours in fighting in the east. There was no immediate word on casualties among rebel fighters (nonsense, the daily figures are easily available – RB). The sounds of mortar fire and rocket launchers thundered through central Donetsk throughout Saturday night as fighting went on several km away. Residential areas of Donetsk are often caught in crossfire as they right sit next to the city airport, a strategic and symbolic target that neither side has been able to take full control of during a prolonged stand-off. Fighting around the airport picked up towards the end of the week as world leaders including Putin and Poroshenko discussed the crisis during talks in Italy. They made little progress on ways to stop the violence. Kiev and the West accuse Russia of fanning the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. They have imposed sanctions on Moscow, who they see as guilty of providing support, including arms and troop reinforcements, to the rebellion. Moscow shares the separatists’ dislike of Kiev’s pro-Western government, but denies playing a role in the armed conflict. However, low-ranking separatist fighters on the ground sometimes admit the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine (really – RB).
Ukraine’s ‘pitchfork’ populist could be wild card in new line-up
Richard Balmforth, Natalia Zinets, Reuters, Oct 19 2014
KIEV – He’s not averse to taking a dizzying punch to the head if he can score a point. Rights groups accuse him of using armed squads to abduct suspected separatists. His party’s program, somewhat improbably, calls for nuclear rearmament of Ukraine. But no matter how outrageous his antics and program seem, firebrand politician Oleh Lyashko strikes a chord among many in a population pushed to extremes by war. Polls suggest he will be a political wild card whose support Poroshenko may reluctantly have to seek after next Sunday’s election. In an interview in Kiev, Lyashko, a wiry figure with a voice like a foghorn, saw his party gaining a big enough share of the vote to make him a power broker in a new-look assembly. “I am the kingmaker,” the 41-year-old former journalist declared to Reuters, predicting a vote of 15% to 20% for his party, although opinion polls put it at up to 12%. Next Sunday’s election, the first to parliament since the “Euromaidan” winter protests overthrew Yanukovich and set in train a geopolitical crisis around Ukraine, takes place amid confrontation with Russia and a separatist war that has killed more than 3,700 people. Many Ukrainians have become radicalized by a conflict that has brought death and hardship to homes across the country (as if the suffering were spread equally from east to west – RB). The opportunity has not been lost on Lyashko who, until a year ago, was a lone eccentric in parliament largely ignored as he defended the rights of small businesses, spoke up for higher pensions and social benefits and fulminated against big industrial ‘oligarch’ money. Tapping into voter anger over hardship from the war, the fast-talking Lyashko has morphed into a fierce defender of volunteer fighters and their bereaved families, and a critic of Ukraine’s super-rich who he suggests are playing their own political games while others die. His party emblem is a three-pronged pitchfork, the Ukrainian peasant’s traditional tool of protest and defense, and symbol of his declared determination to jab his enemies. He says he wants to clear the oligarchs out of politics. Ukraine’s super-wealthy come only second to Putin on Lyashko’s ‘anger list’ as he speaks up for the fighters at the front and preaches a bellicose agenda of confrontation with Russia and no loss of territory to the separatists. Slipping into the hectoring tone he uses when out on the stump, he said in the interview:
Putin cannot be trusted. It is a catastrophic mistake and miscalculation to count on what Putin promises. Today he speaks and tomorrow he forgets. We have to be strong, so that Putin won’t come at us, because he will know that he will lose.
In the past, he has been a fighter for the rights of small business in Ukraine. But a constituency he is eyeing now for support are the volunteer militia groups, “the real patriots” as he calls them, who are fighting alongside government forces against the separatists. Last week he announced establishment of a help center for invalided fighters and bereaved families, oversaw presentation of a free apartment to a war widow and children and named a volunteer battalion commander as #3 on his party list. He is not afraid of pulling the odd risky stunt to gain attention. In August, under the glare of TV cameras, he took a punch in the face that left him groggy after he called a fellow parliamentary deputy a “pot-bellied fatty” and accused him of ignoring the plight of soldiers on the front. Promotional video clips, though, which show him berating and humiliating separatist suspects who are bound and held by his men, show a darker side and have brought him condemnation by human rights groups. One notorious video shows him interrogating a bound and semi-naked man who admits to being a former ‘minister of defense’ of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk. He is dressed only in underwear with visible cuts on his body. Amnesty International last August accused Lyashko of “detaining, in effect abducting and ill-treating individuals across the region … while the camera is rolling.”
Despite his past role as a perennial marginal, he surprised many last May when he came third in the election for president. Opinion polls appear to show that his confrontational, populist style is finding support at grassroots level where traditional nationalist parties like Svoboda (Freedom) are failing. Poroshenko won election as president by a landslide. Most polls now give Poroshenko’s bloc roughly 30% of the vote on the party lists, which account for half of the 450 seats in parliament. These polls see Lyashko’s Radical Party getting anywhere from 7% to 12% of the vote on party lists, roughly the same level of support as the Batkivshchyna party of Yulia Tymoshenko, who is running a low-key campaign after several defections by former allies. On the basis of the opinion polls she and her party are also assured of a presence in parliament. But she and Poroshenko are old adversaries, and most analysts say he would not trust her in any political deal. That means that if Poroshenko falls short of an outright majority, his bloc may be looking to Lyashko’s party as partners in any coalition to form a strategy for ending the war and pushing through reforms to meet a pro-Europe agenda. In the interview, Lyashko said Poroshenko now accepted he would be a force to be reckoned with in the next parliament, and had already offered him the powerful post of parliament Speaker. Lyashko said he had turned down the offer because he wanted the post of prime minister, to “radically change the economic situation in the country.” Poroshenko’s reported offer could not immediately be confirmed by the presidency. Lyashko said he did not rule out throwing his party’s support behind a pro-Poroshenko coalition. But his angry criticism of Poroshenko’s peace plan to end the fighting in the east suggests this might be no easy relationship. Referring to the 70 or so government soldiers killed since a ceasefire came into force on Sep 5, Lyashko denounced the “illusion” of peace in the east, saying:
We will never agree to giving up territory, to Putin’s plan. Poroshenko today is virtually realizing Putin’s plan for Ukraine.
Of his party’s commitment to renewing “the nuclear status” of the country, he said Ukraine had made a historic mistake in returning nuclear weapons to Russia when the Soviet Union fell. He said Russia’s armed intervention had shown that Ukraine needed “real security guarantees”, but he conceded:
It is realistic from a technical and scientific point of view, but very improbable given the pressure from the international community.
German Intelligence Claims Pro-Russian Separatists Downed MH17
Der Spiegel, Oct 19 2014
After completing a detailed analysis, Germany’s foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), has concluded that pro-Russian rebels were responsible for the crash of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 on July 19 in eastern Ukraine while on route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. In an Oct 8 presentation given to members of the Bundestag control committee, the body responsible for monitoring the work of German intelligence, BND President Gerhard Schindler provided ample evidence to back up his case, including satellite images and diverse photo evidence. The BND has intelligence indicating that pro-Russian separatists captured a “Buk” air defense missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile on Jul 17 that exploded in direct proximity to the Malaysian aircraft, which had been carrying 298 people. Evidence obtained shortly after the accident suggested the aircraft had been shot down by pro-Russian militants. Both the governments of Russia and Ukraine had mutually accused each other of responsibility for the crash. After a Dutch investigative commission reviewed the flight recorder, it avoided placing any blame for the crash. Some 189 residents of the Netherlands perished in the downing of Flight MH17. BND’s Schindler says his agency has come up with unambiguous findings. One is that Ukrainian photos have been manipulated and that there are details indicating this. He also told the panel that Russian claims the missile had been fired by Ukrainian soldiers and that a Ukrainian fighter jet had been flying close to the passenger jet were false. “It was pro-Russian separatists,” Schindler said of the crash, which involved the deaths of four German citizens. A spokesman for the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office told SPIEGEL that an investigation has been opened into unknown perpetrators because of the possibility that the crash had been a war crime.
Germany blames pro-Russian rebels for MH17 passenger plane crash
Madeline Chambers, Reuters, Oct 19 2014
BERLIN – Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency has concluded that pro-Russian rebels are to blame for the downing of Malaysia Airline MH17 in Ukraine in July, Der Spiegel weekly reported on Sunday, the first European agency to say so. The crash over pro-Russian rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine on Jul 17 killed all 298 passengers and crew and led to a further deterioration of ties between the West and Moscow, who are in dispute over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis. Gerhard Schindler, president of the BND, told a secret parliamentary committee on security affairs earlier this month that separatists had used a Russian “Buk” missile defense system from a Ukrainian base to fire a rocket that exploded directly next to the Malaysia Air plane, Der Spiegel reported. “It was pro-Russian separatists,” the magazine quoted him as saying. The BND concluded the rebels were to blame after a detailed analysis based on satellite and other photos, Der Spiegel said. No-one at the BND was immediately available to comment. Kiev blames the incident on the rebels and accused Moscow of arming them, but the rebels and Moscow deny the accusations. European governments have so far refrained from openly pointing the finger but, shortly after the crash, Jackass Kerry said there was strong evidence that Moscow-backed separatists had downed the plane. The Dutch government, which has two investigations underway into the downing of the airliner, has yet to say who was responsible. Two thirds of the passengers were Dutch. A preliminary report by the Dutch Safety Board last month said the airliner crashed due to a “large number of high-energy objects” from outside the aircraft. It drew no conclusions as to where they came from.
Colonel Cassad, Oct 19 2014 23:51
Briefly on the statements of German intelligence on the subject of what Malaysian Boeing still knocked militia.
1. It is obvious that efforts to hang the Boeing shootdown on Russia have failed. The plane was shot down in July, it’s now the second half of October, and slender pictures bloody Putin confounding hands Strelkova peaceful aircraft not built. But as pressure on Russia in Novorossia and Crimea saved and to press Russia (as the negotiations in Milan showed) is not obtained, the EU pulls out and tries again to run pretty protogrow history with Boeing and “Buks”.
2. It is not difficult to notice that the main blow is directed against the official Russian version (which by the way a subject no one has denied that the Usaians have so far relied on certain classified data, where the whole TRUTH, but they will not show), which is based on documented facts of finding a Ukrainian Su-25 close to Boeing at the time of the disaster. The EU is trying to shift attention from the version of the Su-25 to the version with “Buk”, which originally was the basis of the position of the junta, according to Boeing. But since summer all the evidence-based version of the junta collapsed unable to withstand the collision with reality, the degree of controversy plummeted, because to present Russia had nothing. And so time passed and the old hurdy-gurdy launched again.
3. The problem here is that formally, the militia has both Su-25 attack aircraft and system “Buk”. But their captured Su-25 has made only one flight, a bombing run over the junta position junta near Aleksandrovka, and more did not appear in the summaries. As for the “Buk” captured by one of the militia units, it was in an unusable state, and the junta itself reported after his capture that “terrorists seized “Buk”, but we all heroically broke it.” The militia before the shootdown of the Boeing also confirmed that the “Buk” they had was not working and that to fix it would be difficult. (But they reported shooting down an Antonov An-26 with it, on Jul 14 – RB), But the Ukrainian “Buks” have already been deployed in a combat situation, as recorded by Russian satellites. Ultimately, the German accusations contain nothing new, and are merely trying to stir up interest in the subject in order to strengthen informational and political pressure on Russia, so that she will be more accommodating on Novorossia and the Crimea.
4. Persistent pushing of the topic “Buks”, is intended primarily to divert the discussion from the Russian version of the proven facts about the presence of the Su-25 close to the Boeing, because of the fact that the junta and the EU have nothing to say, so they are trying to translate the discussion into the mainstream, “It’s your Buk”, “No, it’s your Buk”. With the Su-25 it is much more difficult, since Russia has the proof, and the junta and the EU have no means of refuting it.
5. In General, cheap efforts to pin the Boeing shootdown on Russia or on the militia supported by them, are not very successful in the current realities because although they make information waves, they do not entail significant re-evaluation of already existing facts, which Europe finds hard to refute. Russia has generally been very good at staying away from this obvious provocation, and re-visits from this side are unlikely to be successful.