Sunday, December 23, 2012

Adolf Hitler's World War II Eastern Front military headquarters near Vinnitsa (Ukraine)

Führerhauptquartier Werwolf was the codename used for one of Adolf Hitler's World War II Eastern Front military headquarters located in a pine forest about 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) north of Vinnitsa in the central Ukraine that was used between 1942 and 1943. It was one of a number of Führer Headquarters throughout Europe, and the most easterly ever used by Hitler in person. The name is derived from Werwolf, which is German for werewolf. The naming scheme is in accord with other code-names given to Führerhauptquartiere during the Second World War, such as Wolfsschanze. Several were named for Hitler himself, whose nickname was Wolf, an old German form of Adolf.

The complex was located in a pine forest between the villages of Stryzhavka and Kolo-Mikhailovka on the Kiev highway. It was built between December 1941 and June 1942 under top secret conditions. The Wehrmacht had its regional headquarters in Vinnytsia, and the Luftwaffe had a strong presence at their airbase in Kalinovka, about 20 km away. Hitler's accommodation at Werwolf consisted of a modest log cabin built around a private courtyard with its own concrete bunker. The rest of the complex consisted of about 20 wooden cottages and barracks and up to three "B" class bunkers, surrounded by ring of barbed wire and ground defensive positions connected by underground tunnels. A couple of observation points were set up on platforms in the oak trees surrounding the pine forest. The area was surrounded by a defensive strip of bunkers, anti-aircraft guns and tanks, as well as anti-tank ditches and minefields. There was a tea house, a barber shop, a bathhouse, a sauna, a cinema and even an open swimming pool for the inhabitants' use. Although this pool was primarily intended for Hitler, he never once swam in it. The facility also contained a large vegetable garden organised by the German horticultural company Zeidenspiner to provide Hitler with a secure supply of food. Two artesian wells supplied the site with water, and the site had its own power generation facilities. The bunkers were constructed by Organisation Todt using local Ukrainian workers, forced labour but mainly Russian prisoners of war. Many of the workers were subsequently murdered to maintain secrecy of the site. During his Eastern campaign, Adolf Hitler lived mainly at FHQ Wolfsschanze (near Rastenburg, Poland). He stayed at FHQ Werwolf only three times:
  • 16 July to 30 October 1942.
  • 19 February to 13 March 1943.
  • 27 August to 15 September 1943.

Plans in Ukraine to open a museum at the ruins of a bunker used by Hitler during World War II have provoked concerns it could become a shrine for neo-Nazis. The decision by local authorities in the centrally located city of Vinnitsa to turn the site of the Wehrwolf bunker into a tourist attraction has caused so much controversy that President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych requested on a recent visit to Vinnitsa that the matter be settled in a local referendum. Originally, the museum had been due to open in May 2012 to coincide with the commemoration of victory over the Nazis. But communist and socialist party activists opposed the idea, arguing that the creation of such a museum would be tantamount to spreading Nazi propaganda.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stasi Museum in Leipzig

This shot of me and my grandson Kirill was taken in 2012 at the entrance to the Museum of  Stasi in Leipzig.
The Ministry for State Security (German:Ministerium für Staatssicherheit), commonly known as the Stasi, was the official state security service of the German Democratic Republic or GDR (informally known as East Germany). It has been described as one of the most effective and repressive intelligence and secret police agencies in the world.
The Stasi was headquartered in East Berlin, with an extensive complex in Berlin-Lichtenberg and several smaller facilities throughout the city. The Stasi motto was "Schild und Schwert der Partei" (Shield and Sword of the Party), that is the ruling Socialist Unity Party of Germany. Although Stasi was superficially granted independence in 1957, until 1990 the KGB continued to maintain liaison officers in all eight main Stasi directorates, each with his own office inside the Stasi's Berlin compound, and in each of the fifteen Stasi district headquarters around East Germany, including Leipzig. Collaboration was so close that the KGB invited the Stasi to establish operational bases in Moscow and Leningrad to monitor visiting East German tourists. In 1978  KGB officers in East Germany were granted the same rights and powers they enjoyed in the Soviet Union.
For a glimpse of life in Leipzig during the Cold War, many tourists visit the Stasi Museum, which documents the work of the secret service in the former GDR. Set in an original Stasi administration office, the museum gives fascinating and chilling insights into the function, methods and history of the secret service; you can see original surveillance equipment, police documents, letters, photos, a prison cell, and even an odor archive of suspects (yellow napkins in a glass jars).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Soviet cruise missile AS-5 "Kelt" in Poltava

The Raduga KSR-2 (NATO reporting name: AS-5 "Kelt") was a Soviet cruise missile developed in 1958 and entered service in 1962. The missile was normally armed with a conventional high explosive warhead, although it could be fitted with a one megaton nuclear warhead. The first testing of the missile began in 1958, with two missiles being carried under the wings of a modified Tu-16 bomber designated as Tu-16KSR-2. The bomber was fitted with a newly developed search and target illumination radar Ruby which has a maximum range of approximately 200 kilometers. During the tests missiles were fired at ships and ground targets. Once the launching aircraft's radar has locked onto a target, the missile can be launched. The rocket motor fires immediately after release in boost mode, accelerating the missile to its cruise speed. Once the missile turns on an approach course to the target, the motor switches to cruise mode, shutting down one of its chambers. The missile's autopilot then flies a course using inertial guidance toward the target. In anti-shipping mode the missile engages its J-band active radar in the final approach to the target.As about missile’s combat use, Egyptian Tu-16 bombers reportedly launched thirteen KSR-2 and twelve KSR-11 missiles during the 1973 Yom Kippur war.
One such cruise missile is preserving in the Poltava Museum of Long-Range Aviation in the open air, which is located on the territory of the former air base. Museum includes Tu-160 strategic bomber, Tu-95 MS turboprop strategic bomber and rocket carrier, Tu-22 M3 long-range supersonic bomber and rocket carrier with changeable geometry of the wings, Tu-22 KN passenger jet, Su-15 UM fighter, Tu-16 medium-range bomber

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Ukrainian navy are training killer-dolphins to attack enemy combat swimmers by using special knives and pistols which will be fixed to their heads.

October 15, 2012 (RIA Novosti) A military source in the Ukrainian naval port of Sevastopol told Russian news agency RIA Novosti that the dolphins and other animals will also be detecting mines along the seabed. 
"Ten dolphins are now being trained for special tasks in the Ukrainian state oceanarium and the Ukrainian military are now regularly training the animals for detecting things along the seabed," said the source. "We are now planning training exercises for counter-combat swimmer tasks in order to defend ships in port and on raids."
The army has had a history of training dolphins to protect their shores, dating as far back as to 1973. 
As well as attacking divers, they were used to carry explosives on their heads to plant on enemy ships. 
The source said the army has already completed several successful exercises with the dolphins in finding underwater weapons in the aquarium and outside in open water. "Our dolphins found the items and attached devices to them which were fixed on their heads, after which a buoy on it was sent to the surface to mark it.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Facing the Climate Continues Its Tour in Ukraine

October 4, 2012 (
"Facing the Climate" in Ukraine – is a joint project of the Swedish Institute, Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine, and the International Information Center "Green Dossier". To illustrate Sweden’s strong commitment to climate and environment issues, the Swedish Institute launched an exhibition on October 4, 2012 entitled Facing the Climate. In it, five Swedish cartoonists provide some amusing and alarming reflections on climate change. Local artists were invited to give their view of the climate. Since then the climate images reached more than 135.000 visitors when shown by Swedish Foreign missions and their local partners.
Sweden is internationally known as a country that takes environmental issues and sustainability seriously.  But taking something seriously doesn’t necessarily mean viewing it in a humorless way.
“When the Swedish cartoonists are presented to them, local partners are inspired to launch a similar initiative for cartoonists in their own country,” says Project Manager Birgitta Tennander. So they organized a competition. The winning entries were then shown together with the Swedish cartoons. Sweden has come further than many other countries in dealing with the climate issue – but abroad there is often a considerable potential among young well-educated people who are full of energy and commitment. The project gives us the chance to discuss topical environmental issues in both countries. Facing the Climate will be on display in Rio, Athens, Tirana, Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, Novosibirsk  and other cities around the world during 2012.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The touch on the history of Sweden in the depth of Saxony

Not long ago I've gotten a wonderful opportunity to visit another interesting place located in Saxony and linked closely with the history of Sweden. Nowadays a small village of Altranstädt, located 10 kilometers away from Leipzig, definitely doesn’t play such important role like in the very beginning of 18th century when Swedish king Charles XII stayed there for one year until he began his fatal Russian campaign of 1708 concluded with the defeat of Swedish army in the Battle of Poltava on 27 June 1709. You hardly could meet a large crowd of tourists there. Just a few local lovers of history or those who came from Sweden, Poland or Russia could break the silence of Altranstädt castle. I couldn't help feeling like the time has stopped in endless castle corridors with century-old oak floor for some completely incomprehensible reason.
In April 1945 the Western Saxony was conquered by American troops, under the command of General Patton. The Eastern Saxony, at the same time, was occupied by Soviet troops. The agreement on post-war occupation zones, during the Potsdam Conference, provided that the entire state of Saxony would come under Soviet control. As such, West Saxony was transferred to the Soviet Zone, by the American occupation forces in July 1945.
During the Soviet occupation the castle was turned into dwelling-house except a few rooms where negotiations have taken place in 1706 and 1707. Soon after the German reunification the castle was declared a national monument and a small museum located in two rooms has been completed. Not long ago the castle has been renovated although still remains unknown for many Germans. You can see a few pictures taken in the castle a few weeks ago.

The Treaty of Altranstädt (1706) was concluded between Charles XII of Sweden and Augustus the Strong of Saxony and Poland-Lithuania, on 13 October 1706. Augustus had to renounce his claims to the Polish throne and his alliance with Russia. Augustus the Strong made peace with the Swedish Empire and accepted Stanisław Leszczyński as the Polish king. Stanisław Leszczyński was crowned king of Poland on 4 October 1705. An allied attempt to regain control in Poland-Lithuania was thwarted by Charles XII in the Battle of Grodno and by Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld in the Battle of Fraustadt, both in the first months of 1706.

The Treaty or Convention of Altranstädt was signed between Charles XII of Sweden and Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor on 31 August 1707. It settled the rights of Protestants in Silesia. While the Protestant Reformation had strongly affected Silesia, the Habsburg emperors had subjected the province to the counter-reformation in the 18th century. Especially in Upper Silesia, these measures were successful: in the early 18th century, almost half of the Silesian population was Roman Catholic and some 1,000 churches had been rededicated from Protestant to Roman Catholic. During the Great Northern War, Charles XII of Sweden had marched his armies through Silesia and occupied the Electorate of Saxony, where he forced his adversary, elector August the Strong, into the Treaty of Altranstädt (1706). During his one year-long stay in the small town of Altranstädt near Leipzig, Charles XII negotiated a further treaty with the Habsburg emperor. Joseph I returned 125 churches to the Protestant communities and dispensed with any further counter-reformatory policies. Three Protestant consistories were permitted, restoring and stabilizing Silesian Lutheranism.
Nowadays Altranstädt is a village in Saxony, Germany, a part of the Markranstädt district of Leipzig. The village is historically famous for two treaties that were concluded there.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A new exhibition on the history of Poltava

Not long ago my new exhibition dedicated to Poltava of 1930-1960s has been opened in Poltava museum of Panas Myrny. This museum has a nice exhibition hall and yearly hosts many exhibitions including photo exhibitions. I’ve been working under this exhibition for two years. 

Mostly all shown pictures of Poltava were found by chance in private photo albums of the local elderly residents. Many of pictures that were taken decades ago were shown to the public for the first time. For instance, many have never seen pictures showing German POW working as construction workers in Poltava during first post-war years. Many construction sites of that time were enclosed with barbed wire fencing and had watch towers at the four corners. Some pictures shown on the exhibition were taken by Wehrmacht officers and soldiers in 1942-1943 when Poltava was under German occupation.
Being a teacher in charge of a student group, I invited then to visit this exhibition. Hope they have learnt a lot of a new fascinating things about the history of Poltava.
The museum itself is also very interesting because it preserves a spirit and a way of living of Poltava local office employee of early 20th century, who has been holding various posts at the local government house.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

A joint parade of Soviet and German troops in Brest-Litovsk on September 22, 1939

Dear readers,
This parade has taken place 73 years ago but still surrounded with numerous myths  and legends. What happened in reality in Brest-Litovsk on September 22, 1939?

The secret protocol of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, signed on August 23, 1939 defined the boundary between the German and Soviet "spheres of influence". However, during their invasion of Poland, some German forces, especially Heinz Guderian's XIX. motorized Corps, have advanced beyond this line in pursuit of their strategic goals. The XIX. Corps, approached Brest on September, 13 and defeated the Polish resistance in the ensuing battle by September, 17, establishing their base of operations in the city. During the following days, Guderian was informed, much to his chagrin, that the demarcation line between German and Soviet-controlled regions was drawn along the Bug River and that his forces were to retreat behind this line by September, 22. On September, 17, after Vasily Chuikov's 4th Army received the order to cross the Polish border, its 29th Tank Brigade, led by Kombrig Semyon Krivoshein, entered the town of Baranovichi (pl. Baranowicze). After taking the town and capturing a few thousand Polish soldiers who were stationed there, his units kept on moving westward, reaching the village of Pruzhany (pl. Prużana) on 19 September.On 20 September, advance units of the 29. Tank Brigade, encountered Guderian's forces at the village of Vidomlya (pl. Widomla), three days after the Soviet invasion of Poland and twenty days after the German invasion of Poland.
The Soviet Brigade had seen little combat, because most of the fighting had already been over by this time. According to Krivoshein, a recon unit returned with a group of 12 German officers who identified themselves as part of Guderian's XIX Corps and explained that they, too, were moving in the direction of Brest. They were invited to Krivoshein's tent, who then proposed a toast to both commanders and invited the attending German officers to Moscow after they achieved a quick victory over "capitalist England" Through them Krivoshein also sent warm greetings to the German general and made sure to approach the city from the opposite direction than that taken by the Wehrmacht. Upon approaching the town in the morning of September 22, Krivoshein realized that German troops were already busy looting the town and that Guderian had already established his headquarters there. Soon afterwards, Guderian's representatives arrived, and greeted the "glorious Red Army" and its general. Following a short exchange of formalities, Krivoshein offered to visit Guderian and personally pay his respects to him. The offer was accepted and Krivoshein was taken to the German headquarters to share breakfast with the German General.

During the meeting, Guderian proposed a joint parade of Soviet and German troops through the town, including a lineup of soldiers from both armies on the central square. Because the Soviet troops were tired after a long march, Krivoshein declined, but promised to supply a military band and a few battalions, and agreed to Guderian's request that he and Guderian would stand and review the parade together. According to the initial agreement, the procedure included German and Soviet troops marching before their commanding officers followed by changing the flag, accompanied by national anthems of Germany and the USSR. However, the Soviet commanding officer, Kombrig Semyon Krivoshein, writes in his memoirs that he did not allow Soviet troops to pass alongside the German forces, because he was afraid that Soviet troops, weary after a long march to Brest, would look inferior in comparison with the Germans, who stayed in the city for several days. Instead, he suggested that the Soviet columns would enter the city separately and salute the leaving Germans whenever they meet. The parade began at 16:00, and the "Victory Arches" were erected which the Soviet troops decorated with swastikas and red stars, and through which German troops marched. The Soviets fielded the 4th Battalion of 29th Light Tank Brigade, which was the first unit of the Red Army to roll into the city. The Soviet and German generals paid homage to each other's armies and their respective victories over Polish forces.

See the video of the parade by clicking at

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ukraine has officially confirmed its participation in the NATO-led Ocean Shield anti-piracy operation

KYIV, September 4, 2012 (UKRINFORM). Ukraine has officially confirmed its participation in the NATO-led Ocean Shield anti-piracy operation. Director of the Information Policy Department of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Oleh Voloshyn announced this at a briefing in Kyiv on Tuesday, a UKRINFORM correspondent reported. "Ukraine has officially confirmed its participation in the Ocean Shield international anti-piracy operation, which is conducted under the auspices of NATO off the coast of Somalia," he said. Voloshyn said that Ukraine would provide the Hetman Sahaidachny frigate, with a helicopter and a group of special forces on board, for its participation in the operation. In addition, according to the diplomat, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry and NATO are now jointly agreeing on technical aspects related to the participation of the Ukrainian side in this operation. "It is expected that the practical participation of the units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Operation Ocean Shield will start in 2013. This will be our direct contribution to international efforts to strengthen security and protect Ukrainian sailors and crews working on international sea trade routes," he said. He also welcomed the extension of the mandate and activities as part of operations conducted by NATO, the EU and other countries in the region, including the transfer of respective anti-piracy actions to the coast of Somalia. "This is a step in the right direction, because it's impossible to always be in the defensive position," Voloshyn said.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Aug 12, 2012 (Radio Free Europe). Russia is marking the 100th anniversary of its air force with an aviation parade and parachute drop at the Zhukovsky airfield outside of Moscow.  Lieutenant General Viktor Bondarev opened the celebrations and noted that 69 foreign countries had sent delegations to the event. Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a statement saying that "the development of military aviation is the priority of the country's military policy." He promised on August 11 that the air force will receive over 600 new combat planes and 1,000 helicopters by 2020 as part of a $720 billion military-reequipment effort.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The "Swedish stone" in the heart of Saxony

Dear readers,
Not long ago I visited Lützen, a very interesting place in Saxony that is closely connected with the history of Sweden and the Thirty Year’s War (1618–1648). It attracts many Swedish visitors who come here to see a monument and the “Swedish stone” located on the spot where their famous King Conqueror Gustavus Adolphus was killed on 16 November (N.S.), 1632, in the Battle of Lützen. This battle, which was one of the most decisive battles of the war, was fought between the army of the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, headed by the Roman Catholic General Albrecht Wenzel  Eusebius von Wallenstein and the Protestant army, led by the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus. Gustavus Adolphus was killed when, at a crucial point in the battle, he became separated from his troops while leading a cavalry charge into a dense smog of mist and gunpowder smoke. After his death, his wife kept his body, and later his heart, for over a year in the castle of Nyköping. His remains (including his heart) now rest in Riddarholmskyrkan in Stockholm. In February 1633, following the death of the king, the Swedish Riksdag of the Estates decided that his name would from this time forth be Gustav Adolf the Great. No such honor has been bestowed on any other Swedish monarch before or since. At the spot where Gustavus Adolphus fell, a granite boulder was placed on the day after the battle. A canopy of cast iron was erected over this “Swedish stone” in 1832, and a  chapel, built by design of Swedish architect Prof. Lars Wahlmann, near the site, was dedicated on 6  November 1907.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 25, 2012 ( The Ukrainian Armed Forces have put into service the modern Ukrainian armored personnel carrier BTR-4E under the Order of the Ukrainian Defense Minister Dmytro Salamatin.  Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau in cooperation with national defense enterprises has designed and manufactured BTR-4E. The Ukrainian Armed Forces got a new up-to-date weapon system technically comparable with its foreign analogues, while its fire potential is even better. Mass production of this vehicle will help Ukraine to take the leading positions in the world market of light armor wheeled vehicles. Our national designers and Ministry of Defense specialists did a lot of job. We have developed a completely new system, breaking classical traditions of tank building. It’s a basis for future development of different modifications of this armament,” Andriy Artyushenko, Director of Department of Development and Acquisition of Armament and Military Equipment, commented.  He mentioned that BTR-4E armament included 30-mm automatic gun ZTM-1, antitank missile, grenade launcher KBA-117, machine-gun, and other armament manufactured by Ukrainian enterprises. This armament is integrated in a single system of fire control. “This vehicle proves capabilities of Ukraine to be a manufacturer of high technological and knowledge-based product and ensures possibility to activate defense industries, as well as create additional employment,” Dmytro Salamatin said.  According to the Ukrainian Defense Minister, thanks to BTR-4E Ukraine shall not import these vehicles and even may export them to world markets augmenting the state budget.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Defense exports: a new dawn or the sunset

July 08, 2012 (UNIAN) Chef of UkrSpetsExport* Yevhen Perehudov announced mid-June the start of negotiations about the joint assembly of Ukrainian armored personnel carrier BTR ZE on the territory of Thailand. UkrSpetsExport specializes in the export and import of military and special products and services. The total cost of supply of APCs of this class to Thailand is more than US $110 mn, although the number of APCs that will be jointly assembled in Thailand has not been disclosed. In early May, Ukraine unveiled another joint project on the supply of BTR 4 to Kazakhstan to the tune of approximately US $150 mn. The news was announced by Minister of Defense Dmytro Salamatyn, who is a native of Kazakhstan. Just as in the case with Thailand, the media did not get information about the share of the vehicles that will be assembled in Kazakhstan. If these deals come out, export of licenses and production technologies shall substantially exceed finished products in the overall export of weapons and special hardware, that now bring Ukraine more than US $1 bn annually.  What this new trend mean for the nation’s defense exports? Pessimists say somebody wants to sell out Ukraine’s top defense technologies abroad. Optimists argue that the Ukrainian defense industry is learning to keep up with the times.

* UkrSpetsExport - a Ukrainian state-owned arms trading company, formed in November 1996 for export and import  of military and special products and services. UkrSpetsExport not only sells the products of the Ukrainian arms industry, but also the excess weapons of the Armed Forces of Ukraine inherited from the Soviet Army. Since February 2011 the company also produces non-military firearms and ammunition for them. In documents uncovered during the United States diplomatic cables leak U.S.-diplomats complained the U.S. is fighting a constant battle to stop the flow of arms from Ukraine and UkrSpetsExport to terrorist in the Middle East and South Sudan.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Qatari, UAE military to participate in Sea Breeze 2012 in Ukraine

KYIV, July 2 , 2012 (UKRINFORM). Representatives of the Armed Forces of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will take part in the Sea Breeze 2012 maneuvers in Ukraine, a UKRINFORM reporter learned from the Ukrainian Embassy in the UAE on Monday. "In accordance with the invitation of the Minister of Defense of Ukraine, the UAE Command decided to send its observers (4 officers) to participate in the international exercise Sea Breeze 2012 in Ukraine. A similar decision to send a military observer in Ukraine to attend the Sea Breeze 2012 Sun has been taken by the Command of the State of Qatar," the Ukrainian diplomatic mission said. A reminder that the international naval exercise Sea Breeze 2012 will begin July 9 and will last for a month. Participating in the maneuvers will be 500 military from 16 countries and about 19 ships, 3 submarines, 7 planes, 8 helicopters and other military equipment and modern weapons.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Record at border: over 350,000 people enter Ukraine in one day!

June 26, 2012 (Information Centre Ukraine-2012) Ukraine’s state border was crossed in one day by the largest number of people during the recent period: over 340,000, along with 68,000 vehicles, the State Border Service reports, according to Information Centre Ukraine-2012. Let us note that passenger and transport flow saw a substantial increase during the quarter-final matches played in Donetsk and Kyiv. Starting from 5 June, the border was crossed by almost 5.7 million persons and 1.2 million vehicles.
Border guards expect the passenger flow to grow further, and in particular, forecasts are made that the number of fans from Spain and Portugal coming to the semi-final match between the national teams of these countries to be played in Donetsk will increase.
The following means of transport were admitted to cross the border for entering Ukraine during the last 24 hours: 25,377 cars (23,290 of them through “green corridor”), 634 buses, (362 of them through “green corridor”), 114 passenger trains, 255 aircraft and 80 ships.
The following means of transport crossed the border to leave the country: 38,053 cars (36,423 of them through the “green corridor”), 692 buses (389 of them through the “green corridor”), 11 passenger trains, 245 aircraft and 75 ships.

The State Border Service is emphasizing that delays in customs clearance of participants and fans have not been recorded, the border is free, and it can be easily crossed.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Ukrainain PM got a beer from the head of Swedish supporters camp Ola Sjostedt

(June 14, 2012 Ukrainian News) The head of the Swedish supporters camp, Ola Sjostedt, has given Prime Minister Mykola Azarov a beer after losing a bet that the Swedish national football team will win its match against Ukraine. The Swedish football fan met with the Ukrainian Prime Minister in the Cabinet of Ministers building. While waiting for Azarov, the Swede told the press that he had already visited Ukraine 11 times and that he liked the country very much. In addition, he said that he would remember his meeting with the Ukrainian prime minister and that he would definitely tell his friends about it. Ukrainian journalist asked whether he was married. 
"I am married to football," he replied, smiling.  He said that he worked as a programmer in Sweden. Azarov entered the room when the Swede was telling journalists about his experiences. 
"Well, should we drink beer?" the Ukrainian prime minister immediately asked.
 In response, Sjostedt surprised Azarov by taking six bottles of Swedish beer out of a plastic bag.
"I will support you on Friday because I want you to defeat the English," Azarov said.
Sjostedt and Azarov drank some beer and Azarov described the Swedish beer as classy.
"I earned this beer honestly," Azarov said.
He asked Sjostedt to tell his Swedish friends that they are very welcome in Ukraine. The Swedish fan presented Azarov with a scarf bearing the symbols of the Swedish national football team and the Ukrainian prime minister presented him with an embroidered clothing and a bas-relief with a view of St. Andrew's Church. On June 11, Azarov visited the official fan zone in Kyiv where he bet a bottle of beer that the Ukrainian national team would win.  The prime minister said that he was ready to bet a bottle of brandy with any French football fan that the Ukrainian national team would defeat the French national team.
See video about the meeting between Ukrainian PM Mykola Azarov and Ola Sjostedt at

Monday, June 4, 2012

City self-government flag comes back to Kyiv from Stockholm for the first time after a 360-year absence

A total of 21 items, including ancient seals and parchment pictures, a flag and an armorial, are part of the exhibit “Old Kyiv Self-Government Relics” which was recently opened at the National Museum of the History of Ukraine. Many of them are being displayed in Kyiv for the first time. What really astonishes one is the scope of the exhibit. According to the organizers, eight institutions, including museums, archives, and libraries, from five countries – Sweden, Germany, Russia, Poland, and Ukraine – took part in preparing the event.
“It was planned to hold about 350 events as part of the 1,530th anniversary celebrations, but this exhibit is of special importance because some relics are coming home after a long absence,” Kyiv’s Mayor Oleksandr POPOV says. “We would like as many people as possible, especially the younger generation, to see these unique things.”
The oldest relic exhibited is a Kyiv seal that dates back to the first half of the 16th century. This rarity, furnished by the Sheremetievs family museum, is being displayed for the first time in public. What is also coming back to Kyiv from Stockholm after a 360-year break is the city self-government flag kept at Sweden’s State Trophy Collection.
One of the most valuable artifacts, which, incidentally, came from Germany, is Georg Ortenburg’s Armorial of 1602-04 (part of Conrad Gruenenberg’s Wappenbuch, 1408). The massive paper manuscript comprises 20 drawings and about 2,000 coats of arms, including the oldest known picture of Kyiv’s coat of arms.
Also among the exhibited items there is a plaque from the burial place of Kyiv Burgomaster Ivan Skazka, dated 1647. The exhibit also displays two unique documents: the rescript of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich on appointing Danylo Polotsky as Kyiv vogt (reeve), dated June 20, 1667), and the rescript of Peter I on approving Dmytro Polotsky’s appointment as Kyiv vogt under the decree of Hetman Ivan Mazepa.
There also are such important historical sources as copies of mid-17th century drawings by Abraham van Westerfeld, a participant in the military campaign of Lithuania Hetman Janusz Radziwill. Among the other mementos of that period are sketches of Cossack flags from Radziwill’s archive, which were captured in 1651 in Kyiv and are currently stored at the Russian National Library. The German Ambassador to Ukraine, Hans-Juergen Heimsoeth, said in his welcoming address:
“This exhibit proves that, from the 15th century onwards, Kyiv was deeply involved in European history and enjoyed medieval self-government. This shows European traditions in Ukraine’s legislation and governance.”
The Swedish Ambassador, Stefen Gullgren, also emphasized the importance of such exhibits as a factor of integration and cooperation:
“We have been fruitfully cooperating with Ukraine, including the National Historical Museum, for many years. On the whole, it is 15 years of cooperation between Swedish and Ukrainian academics. A profound study of history is of paramount importance because it contributes to a better understanding of the present day. And it is important that we are the masters of history, not the other way round.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The terminal B of Boryspil International Airport was opened on 28 May 2012

KYIV. On Tuesday, May 29, the terminal D of the State Enterprise Boryspil International Airport will receive the first charter flight. Airlines that carry out regular transportations will shift their flights to the terminal in the next two months. In particular, according to Vice Prime Minister - Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine Borys Kolesnikov, Lufthansa airline will start using the terminal D since August 1, 2012. The terminal D, construction of which began on 24 March 2008, was opened on 28 May 2012 with an initial capacity of 15 million passengers per year. The terminal's departure zone consists of 61check-in counters, 18 control points, 28 passport control booths. The terminal is equipped with moving walkways, ramps, elevators and escalators for passengers with disabilities.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

NATO concerned over selective application of justice in Ukraine

KYIV, May 21, 2012 (UKRINFORM). Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Chicago said they are concerned by the selective application of justice in Ukraine and 'what appear to be politically motivated prosecutions', according to the Chicago Summit Declaration, issued on Sunday, May 20, the Washington-based UKRINFORM correspondent reported.
“Noting the principles and commitments enshrined in the NATO-Ukraine Charter and the ANP, we are concerned by the selective application of justice and what appear to be politically motivated prosecutions, including of leading members of the opposition, and the conditions of their detention,” says the instrument.
With this in mid, the leaders of NATO member states encouraged Ukraine to address the existing shortcomings of its judicial system to ensure full compliance with the rule of law and the international agreements to which it is a party.
We also encourage Ukraine to ensure free, fair and inclusive Parliamentary elections this autumn,” reads the Chicago Summit Declaration.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Highlights of 2012 Victory Parade in Moscow

A military parade on Red Square marks 67 years since the defeat of the Nazis in the Great Patriotic War.
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Wikipedia founder to visit Ukraine first

KYIV, May 12, 2012 (UKRINFORM). The founder of Wikipedia and member of the Board of Trustees of Wikimedia, Jimmy Wales, for the first time will visit Ukraine. He will be a special guest of the 5th "Zavtra.UA" Youth Forum of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation's scholarship program to be held in Kyiv on May 12-14, the Foundation's press office said in a press release. "He will meet the scholarship holders of the “Zavtra.UA" program by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, and deliver a speech at the ceremony of awarding the Forum to be held Monday, May 14," reads a statement. Jimmy Wales will deliver a lecture about the Internet and the future for Internet entrepreneurs, diplomats, students and graduates of leading universities of Ukraine and the winners of the scholarship programs of the Victor Pinchuk Foundation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Defense Ministry: No military parade in Kyiv on Victory Day

May 8, 2012 (Interfax-Ukraine)  
 A military parade is not to be held in Kyiv on Victory Day, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has told Interfax-Ukraine.  According to the ministry, on the morning of May 9, events are planned on Independence Square with the participation of President Viktor Yanukovych, followed by a concert by military bands. A grand concert on the occasion of the holiday is planned for the evening.
Twenty-gun salutes are to be fired at 22:00.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ukraine marking May Day

KYIV, May 1, 2012 (UKRINFORM). The First of May is celebrated as the feast of international solidarity of working people in 142 countries of the world, including Ukraine. Its history started on May 1, 1886, when American workers staged a strike to demand an eight-hour workday. The event ended in bloodshed. In July 1889, the Paris Congress of the Second International, in memory of the Chicago workers' strike, decided to hold annual demonstrations on May 1. The first time this day was celebrated in 1890 in Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, USA, Norway, France, Sweden and some other countries.
According to Wikipedia, on May 1, 1990, the Soviet leadership and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union last time got to the rostrum of the Mausoleum to greet the official May Day demonstration. The Ukrainians traditionally use May 1 to hold rallies and demonstrations and put forward political demands.
 In Ukraine, May 1 and 2 are public holidays each year. Activities to celebrate the International Workers' Day are also planned in Kyiv today, in particular, by the party United Leftists and Peasants. The march Attack on Working People's Rights will be held in the capital city by independent trade unions and left-wing non-parliamentary organizations. Rallies to mark the International Workers' Day will also be held in many regions of Ukraine.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fifty States to Attend Moscow Missile Defense Conference

April 26 (RIA Novosti)  BRUSSELS.
Participants from 50 countries will attend a missile defense conference in Moscow on May 3-4, Chief of the Russian General Staff, Army Gen. Nikolai Makarov said. “There will be more than 150 participants from 50 states,” Makarov told journalists in Brussels on Wednesday after the NATO-Russia Council meeting. “NATO’s 28 member states have confirmed their participation.”
The conference, to be held by the Russian Defense Ministry, will also be attended by representatives of China, South Korea, Japan, the CIS and Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) countries. The proposed U.S.-led missile shield in Europe remains a major source of tension between Russia and the United States, and the Kremlin has threatened to deploy tactical weapons close to Europe if it is not made full partner in the scheme. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The echo of the past war

The city of Poltava and its surroundings were an area of fierce combat actions in 1943. Many decades had passed since that time but even now a bucket of excavator or tractor plough digs out such a reminder of the past war shown on the photo below. This 76-mm shell was found a few days ago not far from Poltava. Many 76 mm divisional guns M1942 (ZIS-3) were used during the liberation of Poltava in September 1943. To collect and defuse a numerous shells and bombs all regional centres of Ukraine have special military units manned by qualified sappers and equipped with the most appropriate technical means. The same day a very dangerous find was detonated in a controlled explosion.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Russia deploys S-400s in Kaliningrad

April 7, 2012 (Associated Press) A Russian newspaper Izvestia has reported that the military has begun deploying S-400 mobile surface-to-air missiles in Kaliningrad, the Baltic exclave bordered by Poland and Lithuania. Izvestia cited unnamed military officials as saying the missiles arrived Friday, but did not say how many. The Defense Ministry declined comment on the report. S-400s, Russia's most advanced surface-to-air missiles, have a range of 120-400 kilometers (75-250 miles). The report comes amid rising tension between the U.S. and Russia over Washington's plans for a missile-shield system in Europe, which Russia contends threatens its own defenses. S-400s are already deployed around Moscow and are planned to be placed in the Pacific Far East this year.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Members of Thai delegation explore the combat opportunities of a main battle tank Oplot manufactured in Ukraine

KYIV March 20, 2012 (Ukrinform) Ukraine's state-controlled arms exporter, hopes to expand the supply of the new main battle tanks Oplot, Ukrspecexport acting director general Vadym Kozhevnikov told reporters at a training ground in the town of Honcharivske, Chernihiv region, where the combat vehicle was demonstrated to a Thai delegation, currently on a visit to Ukraine. The contract worth USD 250 million for the supply of the Oplot tanks to Thailand was signed September 1, 2011; 49 tanks and two BREM trucks are expected to be delivered to Thailand.

Read more about the Oplot tank at

Saturday, March 3, 2012

History Enthusiasts Reenact Battles of World War II

February 2, 2012 (Worldwide News Ukraine) Ukraine’s capital hosted this week an impressive attraction, the International Reenactment Festival On the Armor of Victory on illuminating the economic, industrial, and scientific distinctions of World War II.
In the spring of 1944, the Red Army commenced a profound counterattack on the plains outside of Kyiv, obliterating and removing the German military’s occupation of the area. That attack was reenacted at this week’s festival. According to Vladyslav Taranets, a reenacting Commander of the Red Army, “Our reenactment has the purpose of reconstructing the events of spring 1944, when the Red Army started their massive counterattack against the Germans. "

“The most important moments of this battle happened here in Ukraine, which led to the removal of the Germans by the Red Army all over the territory of Ukraine by the end of spring 1944,” he noted. “The cold and snowy weather conditions that we have today are identical to those in 1944, which lets us experience our reenactment very close to the real battle of 68 years ago. For the reenactment we’re using a large amount of military ammunition and people who demonstrate their skill very well.”

The majority of the participants in the Reenactment Festival Na Brone Pobedy have more than just a love for history, but a passion for the equipment, weapons and machinery involved. One participant, reenacting as an American soldier, stated, “I started my hobby collecting military items when I was ten years old, then it was playing with other kids who lived on my street, and now - war reenactments. When it comes to our weapon and military cars it is a very interesting and complicated hobby at the same time. Most of the spare parts we order come from abroad, which can be rather expensive. Some of our items we fabricate with our own hands and some are one hundred percent authentic…As far as the machine guns, holsters, and uniforms, they are entirely authentic from 1942. It gives such a rush of adrenalin to participate at this battle – just to live one day in this condition gives unbelievable feelings.”

WNU Photos/Andriy Semeniuk
You can see a video (english language) shooted in Kyiv during the festival at

To see more pictures click on

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

An Army for Sale

When I read this article, I thought of thanking God for two daughters I have...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 (The Ukrainian Week)
According to a survey by the Horshenin Institute, almost 73% of Ukrainians believe that the increased funding of the army will not improve life in the military. Enlistment has not been prestigious for many years now. Paradoxically, there were 11 enlistees for each vacancy in the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in 2011. Why was that? Because the army would feed them, they would not have to look for work or rent an apartment. After the army, they can work as security guards. All these plusses prevail over the minuses. The only thing new conscripts are not told, neither before, nor after taking the oath, is that a soldier is the slave of his commanding officer.


“In summer, soldiers work for all entrepreneurs here,” says former officer, Volodymyr Lazarenko. “They simply earn money for their commander. Those who refuse, are beaten. That’s why everyone is afraid and downtrodden”.

Mr. Lazarenko served in unit A 0801 in Ponyzivka, a village near Yalta. According to him, Vitaliy Smiriagin, the local commander, has been earning at the expense of soldiers for many years. “Soldiers would run away from him when he was still the commander of another unit,” Mr. Lazarenko says. “Back then, he forced soldiers to gather three to four truckloads of rocks every day. Dead tired, the guys would fall asleep on duty. Eventually, they could no longer stand it and deserted. The commander took the money earned by the soldiers. I mentioned this to headquarters a few times but they did absolutely nothing.” Smiriagin was later transferred to another unit, where he continued these operations.

The soldiers under Smiriagin’s command confirm Mr. Lazarenko’s words. Oleh Balabansky left the service a year ago. He remembers his stint in the army with horror. The worst thing, he says, was not the meager gruel, strict rules or even the bullying. The most difficult thing was the fact that together with other soldiers, they were given new work almost every day. “Sometimes, they would send 10 soldiers to work at a time, six to one place and four to another, while one person stayed at the barracks, who had to clean up the whole territory by himself.” Oleh recalls. “The worst job was to dig graves. I was digging one once and a guy next to us with a finger-thick golden chain around his neck kept barking “Come on, faster, faster!”


Commander Smiriagin is easy to find and still easier to negotiate with. He goes to the checkpoint, listens to the journalist’s story about a truck of bricks that needs to be unloaded and offers as many soldiers as necessary. We just need two. They are waiting for us at the checkpoint next morning. The commander takes UAH 200 for the work. Nobody checks our passports. In other words, he does not care who we are and what we are going to do with the soldiers.

The latter do not ask anything either, even when we take them for an ice-cream instead of unloading bricks. They still remain silent, when they find out by whom and why they have been bought. We took the soldiers to the commanders of the Crimean Military Law Enforcement Service and confirmed our story about the purchase of soldiers from Smiriagin with a video taken on the phone.

The scared soldiers recounted their experience of military service. Private Mykola said he unloaded trucks and dug trenches in Simeyiz and Yalta. Over six months in the army, he has worked outside the barracks seven or eight times. The military police decided to pay a visit to unit A 0801 to catch the commander red-handed. Half an hour later, the roll call revealed that two soldiers were missing. The officer was unable to explain where they were. When the journalists happened to show up with the soldiers, the military police registered a violation committed by the officer - sending soldiers to work outside the base for money.

You can read the whole story at

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Russia warns US against deploying Aegis ships in northern seas

February 14, 2012 (Interfax)

The Russian Chief of Staff, General Nikolai Makarov, today warned the US against stationing Aegis-equipped ships in the Black and northern seas. Gen. Makarov pointed out that deployment of Aegis combat system’s elements in these seas “posed a threat” to Russia and forced Moscow to take retaliatory steps to eliminate it. He also stressed that these would be measures of last resort since they required “additional expenses.” A US Navy cruiser armed with Aegis has recently been spotted in the Black Sea. Washington has also been calling on Norway to equip their warships with Aegis. “Luckily, Norway has taken a posed stance,” he added. Russia and US-led NATO will further look into the issue of the EU missile shield at the upcoming Chicago summit this May. At the meeting, the US is to focus on the results of the first stage of the EU missile shield deployment.

On the photo you ca see USS Lake Champlain, a Ticonderoga-class Aegis guided missile cruiser, launched in 1987. This version is equipped with the Mark 41 VLS system, whereas earlier versions were equipped with the Mark-26 twin-arm missile launcher system

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rogozin wants Russian army to be armed to the teeth

February 9, 2012 (Interfax-Ukraine)

Novosibirsk - The Russian Armed Forces should be supplied with the necessary amount of weaponry and military hardware to guarantee national security, including strategic security, Vice Premier Dmitry Rogozin believes. "We need to develop a compact, mighty, fearsome army armed to the teeth and strategic forces that will be a guarantee of our security," he said at a Wednesday meeting with the heads of defense industry plants in Novosibirsk. He also spoke of the need to establish a single system of enterprises working for air and space defense.

"Russia has several corporations working in the sphere of air and space defense. They cannot be knitted into a single concern. But an integral system must be made. An integrator should be developed for air and space defense," he said.

"We are interested in combining the defense industry, research and customer," Rogozin concluded.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ukraine's Army Wants You ... For a Holiday

(ABC News) Ukraine’s cash-strapped military has been looking long and hard for fresh sources of revenue — and hit upon a whole new brand of tourism. In what it says is a first in the former Soviet Union, Ukraine’s armed forces are throwing open 11 military training grounds and three air bases, inviting fee-paying tourists, and offering them the chance to play soldiers. From AK-47 assault rifles to T-72 tanks and Mig-29 fighter jets, Ukraine is offering anyone with money to burn the opportunity to fire, drive and fly the same military equipment that during the Cold War was on hair-trigger alert for a NATO attack.
Today’s tourists are hard to surprise with anything, so we decided to offer something really spicy — military tourism,” said Hryhory Zhorov, the head of the Alaris travel agency which, with arms exporter Ukrspetsexport and the Defense Ministry, is organizing the project.
He said they hoped to accommodate 1,000 well-heeled travelers every month. Flanked by senior generals, Zhorov showed reporters around one of the bases, Desna, 40 miles northeast of the capital, Kiev. The generals spared no effort, as well as cartridges and artillery rounds, to impress an army of invited reporters in order to promote the sprawling base, covering an area of 810 square miles. Armored vehicles roared through picturesque pine groves, which echoed to a thunder of small arms fire.
One young woman journalist stunned officers by driving a modern T-80 tank after only brief instructions. “It was great! I had never driven even a car, but today I drove a tank!” she said, emerging from the turret of the 1,200-horsepower monster. But the freebie was soon over, and future excursions to Ukrainian military sites will cost each traveler a tidy sum.
Alaris’ Web site ( says a one hour flight as a co-pilot in the supersonic fighter Mig-29 will cost $8,500, while one of the same duration in the Su-27 ground attack jet will be $9,600. Surface weapons are also expensive. It costs $400 to drive 4 miles in a T-72 battle tank, or $250 to test drive the BMP-2 armored personnel carrier. A shot from a sniper rifle will cost “just” $20, while a round for a Soviet-made RPG-7 hand-held grenade discharger is a more expensive thrill at $50 per shot.