Saturday, February 26, 2011

Russian fighter jets sold for $5 in fraud scheme

February 25, 2011 (Reuters). A Russian court on Friday, Feb. 25, jailed a former official for 11 years over the sale of four fighter jets for just 5 dollars each. The military corruption scandal, that cost the government about 55 million dollars, underscored endemic fraud in Russia's armed forces. Andrei Silyakov, a former employee of the state Federal Reserve Agency, illegally included the warplanes on a list of state assets to be sold, the Nizhny Novgorod regional court said in a statement on its website. The four MIG-31 supersonic long-range fighter jets, known as Foxhounds, were sold for 153 roubles (5 dollars) each from state-owned Sokol aviation plant in Nizhny Novgorod, 400 km (250 miles) east of Moscow. Although the jets were sold stripped of engines and weapons, each was in fact worth about $4 million. The planes were appraised as scrap metal and sold to a shell company that had no authority to trade weapons or military hardware, the statement said. Silyakov was also accused of embezzling 30,000 tons of oil and handed an 11-year jail sentence for fraud, costing the Russian state a total of almost $69 million, the court said. A combination of lack of funding, negligence and corruption have damaged attempts to supplement and maintain the huge arms stockpiles Russia inherited at the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Corruption in the armed forces cost Russia 6.5 billion roubles ($222.8 million) worth of state funds in 2010, Russia's Chief Military Prosecutor Sergei Fridinsky said on Thursday. Sokol is part of the state-owned United Aircraft Corporation.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Parade of Great Patriotic War automobiles held in Kharkiv

KHARKIV, February 23, 2011. Activists of the famous automobile club "Samokhod" marked the February 23 (Defender of Fatherland Day) by riding cars of the WWII time along the city roads. This automobile club is famous for its automobiles renovated by enthusiasts and often involved for reconstruction of different historical events, in particular for many films about war.

Defender of the Fatherland Day is a holiday observed in Russia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Belarus and several other former republics of the Soviet Union. It is celebrated on February 23. The holiday marks the date in 1918 during the Russian Civil War when the first mass draft into the Red Army occurred in Petrograd and Moscow. It was originally known as Red Army Day. In 1949, it was renamed Soviet Army and Navy Day. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the holiday was given its current name.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ukraine has presented the super-tank at a military exhibition

On Sunday, on February, 20th, at the international exhibition which has opened in Abu-Dhabi of arms IDEX-2011 Ukraine has presented the working out - tank "Stronghold". The Novelty has been created on the basis of the Kharkov design office of a name of Morozova and shown within the limits of an exposition of a state company "Ukrspetseksport". According to the general designer on creation of armour and artillery systems of Ukraine of Michael Borisjuka, tank "Stronghold" is executed at level of the best world samples. On indicators of fighting power, mobility and protection it does not concede to leading NATO analogues. From features of the new tank designers especially allocate the following: new svarochno-katanaja a tower, the built in dynamic reservation of new generation, teplovizionnye sights, and also possibility to fire from a gun with laser prompting, amazing the purposes on distances to 6000 metres. "Stronghold" has today the highest in the world level of protection among the analogues, in particular, from ammunition tаndemnogo type », - has noted during presentation of the tank the representative of the enterprise-developer. He also has noticed that the car keeps the working capacity and battle readiness in a wide climatic range - at temperature from - 40°S to + 55°S and relative humidity of air to 98 % at temperature +25°S. Except "Stronghold" Ukraine has presented to Abu-Dhabi also other novelties of arms - a wheel armoured troop-carrier an armored troop-carrier-4 with fighting module "Sail", advanced tank T-72B with the engine 5-TDFM, the car of infantry BMP-1M with fighting module "Squall", and lorry KrAz 5233VE (manufactured in Kremenchug, Poltava region). Exhibition IDEX-2011 will last till February, 24th, 2011.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

NATO-Ukraine Comission to meet in Berlin on April 14-15

February 17, 2011 (Interfax-Ukraine). The NATO-Ukraine Commission will hold a foreign ministerial meeting in Berlin on April 14-15, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said. "This demonstrates our desire to maintain the dialog between Ukraine and NATO at a high political level," he told Ukrainian journalists in Brussels on Feb. 17.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

22-th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan

The initial Soviet deployment of the 40th Army in Afghanistan began on December 24, 1979 under Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. The final troop withdrawal started on May 15, 1988, and ended on February 15, 1989 under the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Between December 25, 1979 and February 15, 1989, a total of 620,000 soldiers served with the forces in Afghanistan (though there were only 80,000-104,000 serving at one time): 525,000 in the Army, 90,000 with border troops and other KGB sub-units, 5,000 in independent formations of MVD Internal Troops, and police forces. A further 21,000 personnel were with the Soviet troop contingent over the same period doing various white collar and blue collar jobs. The total irrecoverable personnel losses of the Soviet Armed Forces, frontier, and internal security troops came to 14,453. Soviet Army formations, units, and HQ elements lost 13,833, KGB sub-units lost 572, MVD formations lost 28, and other ministries and departments lost 20 men. During this period 417 servicemen were missing in action or taken prisoner; 119 of these were later freed, of whom 97 returned to the USSR and 22 went to other countries, the rest were murdered by their captors.

Poltava lacks some UAH 20 million for salaries to public sector eployees

Poltava February 11, 2011 (Interfax-Ukraine). Poltava lacks some UAH 20 million for salaries to public sector employees, the city's mayor, Oleksandr Mamay, said on Feb.10. This will force employers to reduce bonuses and request their workers take unpaid leave, the mayor said. "According to the figures reported from Kyiv, Poltava lacks more than UAH 20 million for the payment of salaries to public sector employees, including UAH 13 million to those working in the education sector, UAH 7 million to medical personnel, UAH 2.7 million to those employed in culture sector, and UAH 2 million in sports," he said.
Mamay also said that they had sent an appeal to the regional council, requesting financing for the salaries to state employees in Poltava. In addition, the city's authorities are counting on the government's assistance.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

NATO may draw Ukraine in discussing plans to deploy missile defense in Europe

KYIV, February 15, 2011 (UKRINFORM). NATO is ready in the future to involve Ukraine into discussing the deployment of missile defenses in Europe. James Appathurai, NATO Secretary General's Special Representative for the Caucasus and Central Asia, said this at a news conference in Moscow, as the UKRINFORM correspondent in Russia reported.
At this stage, NATO, he said, is in talks on this issue only with Russia, but the alliance's secretary-general is very well aware of the importance of a coordinated defense for Europe's future. That's why, Appathurai said, they hope to continue the discussion (of the ABM issue) and start cooperating with other countries. So all the European nations, including Ukraine, must be sure that the task is not to conduct a watershed in Europe, but to provide common defense, he added.
The Special Representative also said they respect the choice of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people to have a non-aligned status. But the intention to cooperate with Ukraine since then has not diminished, and NATO continues to remember the obligations assumed in Bucharest, he noted. According to Appathurai, it seems clear to the alliance that the Ukrainian government intends to further develop its cooperation with NATO in various fields. He also indicated that Ukraine is actively continuing to participate in NATO operations. As reported, in early November 2010, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, during his visit to Moscow, said he did not rule out the inclusion of the Ukrainian early warning systems in Sevastopol and Mukacheve in the European missile defense system.
November 23 in Warsaw, Secretary of National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Raisa Bohatyriova stated that Ukraine was ready to take part in the European missile defense system that NATO planned to create to protect Europe and the US. December 15, NSDC First Deputy Secretary Stepan Havrysh said that Ukraine could take part in the creation of NATO missile defense system only together with Russia.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ukrainian armed forces under threat

On January 12, 2011, 103 out of the 417 registered members of the Ukrainian parliament voted for changes to the Law “On the Armed Forces of Ukraine.” The bill provided for two percent of GDP being used for materiel. Someone once said: “If you don’t want to feed your army, prepare to feed your enemy.”
A week before the New Year the Ukrainian government announced administrative and military reforms. The press service of Lieutenant General Hryhorii Pedchenko, in charge of the Ukrainian Armed Forces [as appointed by the president of Ukraine, being Commander-in-Chief. – Ed.] quotes him as saying that the draft Strategic Defense Bulletin until 2025 provides for three armed services in Ukraine: the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy. Pedchenko added that “we will have new structures: red-alert and SWAP-like units that will be based on rapid deployment forces.” He also claimed that this new table of organization will provide for the funding of major tactical and strategic developments.
One day prior to this interview, Pedchenko said that 70 percent of the new Ukrainian defense budget would be allocated to maintenance and 30 percent to research and development: “The Ministry of Defense and the General Staff [of Ukraine] have estimated their 2011 budget: 27 billion hryvnias. This is the financial resource our Armed Forces need to implement the tasks assigned them in full measure, to upgrade their materiel and solve their personnel and social protection problem, and emergency reserve problems.” He went on to say that the government is unable to finance the Armed Forces on an adequate level, and that the Ministry of Defense and General Staff had taken a balanced attitude to the 13.6 billion hryvnias’ worth of central budget appropriations in 2011 — lower by half than actually needed; hence the new realistic tasks and guidelines. Pedchenko noted that “our Armed Forces must have only one function, that of protecting our Fatherland,” whereas replenishing “special surplus funds” is an alien function. He also sounded very optimistic, saying that some 40 combat aircraft could be made operational within the next five years, given the current budget appropriations.
Optimism apart, it is sad to realize that the home of one of the world’s leading aircraft designers and manufacturers has to keep patching budget holes. President Viktor Yanukovych must have felt the same way when he signed an edict, in late December, that placed the whole military-industrial complex under his command, setting up a government-run business entity known as Ukroboronprom, and specifying that its director general is to be appointed as submitted by the prime minister and subject to dismissal as ruled by the president. One wonders about the motives behind this decision of the current head of the Ukrainian state: worries about some of the ridiculous decisions made by the current prime minister, or the desire to raise Ukraine’s military-industrial complex to a level where it can meet the current, complex challenges.
Valentyn Badrak, an expert in the field, commented on the possibility of Ukroboronprom having an impact on Russia-Ukraine-military-industrial-complex opportunities in 2011 by saying that Ukroboronprom would be heavily influenced by Russia, adding that there would be a small likelihood of conflict of interests: “Unless these government-run business entities are subject to market conditions, they will be able to collaborate only within the boundaries of the Russian Federation, but they will need business collaboration in the West, as well.” He went on to say that Russia’s design bureaus have lost certain links in the modern war aircraft construction chain.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Ukrainian parliament approved decision of President on sending of peacemakers to Côte d’Ivoire

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine approved the decision of the President of Ukraine on sending of a peacemaking contingent to Côte d’Ivoire for participation of Ukraine in giving aid to UN operation. According to an UNIAN correspondent, 254 out of 419 lawmakers registered in the session hall voted for this decision. In particular, 177 lawmakers from the Party of Regions, 24 lawmakers from the Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense bloc, 20 lawmakers from the People’s Party and 33 out factional lawmakers voted for this decision. The BYUT-Batkivshchyna and the CPU did not vote for this decision.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Antonov to display An-74, An-148, An-158 at Aero India 2011

KYIV, February 4, 2011 (UKRINFORM). The Kyiv-based Antonov State Enterprise on February 9-13 will participate in Aero India 2011, the biannual international air show in India's Bengaluru. The Ukrainian aircraft giant will present at the air show its airplanes An-74, An-148 and An-158. Antonov offers new planes, which can be widely used in India and other countries of South-East Asia. One of them is a new multi-purpose maritime patrol aircraft An-74, capable of supporting warships with the ability to counter enemy; conducting search and rescue operations; electronic and radio reconnaissance; determining sea pollution. Antonov believes that for operation on regional routes in India jet planes An-148 and An-158 suit best. Antonov SE President/Chief Designer Dmytro Kiva said: "It's safe to say that An-148 and its modifications will work effectively in India. After all, they have been successfully tested under conditions of high air temperatures (+40 C) and high mountains. They can fly on any air routes, including routes with high intensity operations, in usual and adverse weather conditions, day and night. Furthermore, they can be based on a broad network of airfields. An-148 and An-158 can land in almost zero visibility. India's market demand till 2025 in the aircrafts of this class is estimated at 80 planes". Antonov SE has been already cooperating with India for over 40 years.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Alcatraz: an old fortification, prison and museum

Alcatraz Island is an island located in the San Francisco Bay, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. Following the acquisition of California by the United States, the U.S. Army began studying the suitability of Alcatraz Island for the positioning of coastal batteries to protect the approaches to San Francisco Bay. In 1853, under the direction of Zealous B. Tower, the Corps of Engineers began fortifying the island, work which continued until 1858, eventuating in Fortress Alcatraz. The island's first garrison at Camp Alcatraz, numbering about 200 soldiers and 11 cannons, arrived at the end of that year. When the American Civil War broke out in 1861 the island mounted 85 cannons (increased to 105 cannons by 1866) in casemates around its perimeter, though the small size of the garrison meant only a fraction of the guns could be used at one time. At this time it also served as the San Francisco Arsenal for storage of firearms to prevent them falling into the hands of Southern sympathizers. Alcatraz never fired its guns offensively, though during the war it was used to imprison Confederate sympathizers and privateers on the west coast. Due to its isolation from the outside by the cold, strong, hazardous currents of the waters of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz was used to house Civil War prisoners as early as 1861. During late 1860s the army switched the focus of its plans for Alcatraz from coastal defense to detention, a task for which it was well suited because of its isolation. In 1868 Alcatraz was officially designated a long-term detention facility for military prisoners. The United States Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz was acquired by the United States Department of Justice on October 12, 1933, and the island became a Federal Bureau of Prisons federal prison in August 1934. During the 29 years it was in use, the jail held such notable criminals as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), George "Machine Gun" Kelly, James "Whitey" Bulger, Bumpy Johnson, Rafael Cancel Miranda, member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party who attacked the United States Capitol building in 1954. It also provided housing for the Bureau of Prison staff and their families. Because it was far more expensive to operate than other prisons and due to half a century of salt water saturation which severely eroded the buildings, the penitentiary was closed on March 21, 1963 by decision of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. The entire Alcatraz Island was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and was further declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986.