Friday, December 30, 2016

President Poroshenko: Knowledge of foreign language opens new world for Ukrainians

December 30, 2016 (UNIAN) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko met with civil activists and summed up the results of the Year of English in Ukraine, according to the president's press service. The President emphasized that even though the Year of English was about to complete, mass study of English in Ukraine will not be finished. He noted that the process was only at the outset. With the support of the international NGOs, complex programs and free-of-charge language courses have been established. They will be continued next year, the press service reported. 
The Head of State noted that knowledge of English was extremely important, for it provided an opportunity to study in prestigious foreign universities, get a prospective job, read original world classic literature, travel freely, be aware of the last news of science and technology, maintain "people to people contact." The President is confident that knowing English opens new horizons for everyone who want to be a part of the modern world. He called this year's project Go Global very important, ambitious and successful. According to Poroshenko, "it is aimed to change Ukraine, make it a real European state for the majority, especially young generation, to have an opportunity to speak English." "Knowing foreign language is a feature that opens new universe for Ukrainians," Poroshenko said.
Read more on UNIAN:

Ukrainian Navy will be reinforced with three new «Kentavr» fast assault crafts

December 30, 2016 Ukrainian Navy will be reinforced with three new «Kentavr» fast assault crafts designed by the State Research & Design Shipbuilding Centre and produced by the Leninska Kuznya (Kyiv). The fast assault craft «Kentavr» (Centaur) – is an armored amphibious assault ship built for the Ukrainian Navy. It’s main mission is a fast and secret delivery of marines or special forces, and fire-support of landing operations. Weapons : 
2 combat modules:
  • 12.7 mm machine gun
  • 40 mm grenade launcher (NATO standard)
As it was reported, on 6 December 2016 the Ukrainian Navy has got two new artillery boats, built in Kyiv. The boats got names “Berdyansk” and “Ackerman”.

The fast assault craft «Kentavr»

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Ukraine's main Christmas tree lit up in Kyiv

December 28, 2016 (UNIAN) The main Christmas tree of Ukraine has lit the lights on the St. Sophia Square in Kyiv. The ceremony was attended by First Lady Maryna Poroshenko and Kyiv Mayor Vitaliy Klitschko, the mayor's press service reported. Christmas tree is decorated with three kilometers of garlands, as well as 42,000 lanterns and 1,000 wooden toys, made by craftsmen from Lviv. Christmas town on the St. Sophia Square will run from December 19 until January 15. The main events will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and public holidays – St. Nicholas Day, New Year, and Christmas. In general, 15 concert shows are to be held during the celebrations. As in the past year, the Christmas town will cover the St. Sophia and Mykhailivska Squares, as well as Volodymyrskiy Passage Street, which connects them. The main Christmas tree of Ukraine, the scene, a selfie platform, exhibition of toys, made by children from all over Ukraine, are all placed at the St. Sophia Square.

Read more on UNIAN:

Monday, December 26, 2016

Russia plane crash: Huge search for bodies in Black Sea

December 26, 2016 (BBC News Europe) Some 3,000 people, including more than 100 divers, as well as ships, planes, helicopters and submersibles are involved in the operation near Sochi. Some fragments of the plane have been found, but initial reports that the fuselage was sighted have been denied. The Tu-154 plane carrying soldiers, musicians and reporters was heading for Syria. The flight had originated in Moscow and landed in Sochi for refuelling. The plane disappeared from radar two minutes after taking off from Sochi's Adler airport at 05:25 (02:25 GMT) on Sunday, heading for Latakia in Syria, the defence ministry said. It was carrying 64 members of the famed Alexandrov military music ensemble, who were to perform for Russian troops in Syria.

The Tu-154 that crashed into the Black Sea is seen at a military airport near Moscow in 2015

Emergency officials said initial information suggested the fuselage was located 27m (89ft) below the surface and 1.7km (one mile) from the shore in the direction of the runway. So far only 11 bodies and 154 body parts have been recovered, but officials believe many more may be trapped inside the remains of the aircraft. Search teams worked through the night in three shifts, and the operation "did not stop for a minute", defence ministry spokesman Maj Gen Igor Konashenkov said at a briefing on Monday.
Tupolev-154: Russian workhorse
  • The backbone of Soviet and Russian airlines for decades
  • Three engines, narrow-bodied and medium range
  • Designed in the mid-60s, came into service in 1972 and was modernised in 1986 with new engines and equipment
  • Has seen 39 fatal accidents, although few were due to technical problems. Many were as a result of difficult weather conditions and poor air traffic control. A few were lost in conflicts including in Lebanon, Georgia and Afghanistan
  • Not used in Russia's civil aviation since 2009, but is still used by the military. Only about 50 in service worldwide
The full article is available at

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Radical Ukrainian politician Oleg Lyashko wants nuclear weapons

December 25, 2016 ( The Radical Party faction of the Ukrainian parliament is seeking to withdraw Ukraine’s membership of the 1968 international treaty which bans the development of nuclear weapons and keeps nuclear technology in check.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognizes only five nations as legitimate possessors of nuclear weapons: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US. A handful of UN members are not signatories to the treaty, including Pakistan and India, which were never part of the NPT but have nuclear weapons of their own, and North Korea, which withdrew in 2003 to develop a nuclear arsenal. Now Kiev may follow Pyongyang’s example if the Radical Party faction in parliament has its way. The party’s leader, Oleg Lyashko, has long called for the government to restore the country’s nuclear capability, which Ukraine briefly possessed in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The number of nuclear warheads deployed on Ukrainian territory by the USSR was only behind those possessed by Russia and the US. But by 1996, all of them had been handed over to Russia, which was busy dismantling a large portion of the costly Soviet nuclear stockpile. In 1994, Ukraine was given security assurances by Russia, the US and the UK in the so-called Budapest Memorandum in exchange for its accession to the NTP. Similar documents were signed with Kazakhstan and Belarus, which were in a comparable position. China and France gave milder commitments to Ukraine in separate statements……..
Oleg Lyashko is a populist politician with a strongly nationalist voter base, and is well known for his publicity stunts. His bill to restore Ukraine’s nuclear status was registered in parliament Tuesday. A date for a committee discussion on the issue is yet to be set. Ukraine’s ability to actually produce a nuclear weapon remains in question. While numerous research and production facilities based in what now is Ukraine were involved in building the Soviet nuclear arsenal, the country’s current economic troubles and technological backslide would make constructing even a simple nuclear device a major challenge – even if the Ukrainian government does undertake such a project.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Ukraine adopts austerity budget along IMF lines

December 22, 2016 (AFP) Ukraine's parliament on Wednesday approved an austerity federal budget for 2017 that doubles minimum wages but keeps the deficit in line with the target set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Lawmakers haggled over the bill into the early morning hours before passing it with some reservations about the social provisions it lacked.
The IMF is keen to see Ukraine keep its deficit to within three percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and reduce Soviet-era subsidies that remain a big financial drain. The demands are part of a $17.5-billion (16.8-billion-euro) rescue loan the IMF approved in 2015. Passing the budget was an important requirement for the IMF to release another $1.3 billion tranche of that loan early next year. Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman told lawmakers that key sectors would still receive the government's full support.
"We will ensure spending on defence and back the agrarian sector," the Interfax-Ukraine news agency quoted Groysman as saying. Ukraine's military spending stands at a whopping five percent of GDP because of the 31-month pro-Russian eastern separatist insurgency the pro-Western country has been battling at the cost of nearly 10,000 lives.
One of the more controversial provisions will see minimum monthly wages double from 1,600 to 3,200 hryvnias ($121). Ukraine remains one of Europe's poorest countries and was also ranked as the continent's most corrupt by the European Court of Auditors this month. The minimum wage increase and higher benefits to the lower paid were a consequence of street protests in Kiev and populist lawmaker demands. But IMF economists worry that the measure may ramp up inflation that has been tempered since reaching more than 45 percent last year.
The Central Bank of Ukraine (NBU) has been able to reduce the interest rate it charges lenders to borrow money to 14 percent because of the slowdown in the cost of living increases. The spending plan envisions a deficit of 3.0 percent of GDP and puts total expenditures at $30 billion - a paltry sum that compares to that of Los Angeles County in the United States.
Some political analysts said lawmakers' tradition of passing federal budgets after pulling allnighters was detrimental for the country as a whole. "In that limited time, they have no way of learning what is actually inside the draft. And some of them simply sleep," political analyst Mykola Davydyuk told AFP. He also noted that Ukraine allotted almost nothing to large infrastructure projects aiming to reduce unemployment and fostering economic growth. The government's latest projections see Ukraine's economy expanding by about one percent.

Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016 (UNIAN) Russian ambassador gunned down in Ankara, Russian agency says killed (Video) The Russian ambassador to Ankara was shot in an attack at an art gallery in the Turkish capital on Monday and the Russian RIA news agency said he had died of his wounds, according to Reuters.
The Anadolu news agency said the gunman had been "neutralized" soon after the attack, which appeared to mark one of the most serious spillovers of the Syria conflict in Turkey. Relations between Moscow and Ankara have long been fraught over the conflict, the two supporting opposing sides, Reuters said. Ambassador Andrei Karlov made a speech at the opening of a photographic exhibition. Hurriyet newspaper said Turkish special forces had surrounded the building. NTV said three other people were wounded.

A Reuters witness said that while gunfire rang out for some time after the attack, it had now stopped. A Hurriyet newspaper reporter said the attacker chanted Islamist slogans. Russia and Turkey have been involved in conflict in Syria across the border from where over two million Syrian refugees have settled. Turkey has been a staunch opponent of President Bashar al-Assad while Russia has deployed troops and its air force in support of the Syrian leader. Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as Russian-backed Syrian forces have fought for control of the eastern part of the city of Aleppo, triggering a stream of refugees. It was not immediately clear who carried out the attack. Islamic State militants have been active in Turkey and carried out several bomb attacks on Turkish targets. A photograph posted on twitter showed a man in a black suit holding a pistol, standing close to a podium in the gallery, its walls hung with pictures. Four people including what appeared to be the ambassador lay on the floor.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

US troops to arrive in Europe in January to reassure allies

December 14, 2016 (Associated Press) WARSAW, Poland — The United States is deploying troops to Poland, the Baltic states and Romania next month as part of raising the security of the region, Polish and U.S. defense officials said Wednesday. Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz made the announcement following talks with the commander of U.S. land troops in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, in Zagan, western Poland.
Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz (L), Lieutenant General Frederick Ben Hodges (R).
 An Armored Brigade Combat Team from Fort Carson, Colorado will be deployed there early next month, while another U.S. force, a battalion, will be deployed April 1 to Orzysz, in the northeast. Macierewicz said he was "very happy that a decision has been taken by the U.S. side for an earlier deployment." But the U.S. Army told The Associated Press that the deployment was not accelerated and is taking place as had always been scheduled. Hodges said the troops will arrive in the German port of Bremerhaven on Jan. 6 and will be immediately deployed to Poland, the Baltic states and Romania. Their transfer will be timed and treated as a test of "how fast the force can move from port to field," he said.
"I'm confident in the very powerful signal, the message it will send (that) the United States, along with the rest of NATO, is committed to deterrence," Hodges said. He said the armored brigade has already moved out of its Colorado base and is loading on ships. "I'm excited about what my country is doing and I'm excited about continuing to work with our ally, Poland," Hodges said. In a separate decision, the members of NATO at a July summit in Warsaw approved the deployment of four multinational battalions to Poland and the Baltic states to deter Russia. Germany will lead a multinational battalion in Lithuania, with similar battalions to be led by the United States in Poland, Britain in Estonia and Canada in Latvia.

Poland and the Baltic nations have been uneasy about increased Russian military operations in the region, especially after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and have requested U.S. and NATO troops on their soil as a deterrent. The alliance and the U.S. insist the troop presence is not aimed against anyone, but Russia has threatened measures in response.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Scaparrotti surveys Ukraine's front lines against Russia

December 17, 2016 (UNIAN) In a signal to Moscow of U.S. and NATO resolve, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis M. "Mike" Scaparrotti ended a two-day visit to Ukraine earlier on Thursday in which he toured the combat positions of Ukrainian troops facing off against a combined Russian and separatist force, according to On his second visit to Ukraine within three weeks, Scaparrotti, the dual-hatted Supreme NATO commander and head of U.S. European Command, went to eastern Ukraine, "where he visited Ukrainian military units involved in combat operations with Russians and their proxy forces" along what is called the "line of contact," EuCom said in a statement, reports.

Scaparrotti also met with Ukrainian Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak and Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko on the continuing training of Ukrainian forces by NATO and the supply of "non-lethal" aid by the U.S. The EuCom statement said Scaparrotti's visit underlined the U.S. and allied commitment to Ukraine's defense. "The United States continues to call for an immediate end to Russia's occupation of Crimea and for Russia to cease its destabilizing actions in Ukraine and honor its commitments in the Minsk agreements," it states. The tour of the eastern combat zone came three weeks after Scaparrotti's last visit to Ukraine, during which he met with U.S. troops of the Joint Multinational Training Group-Ukraine at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriv, well away from the front lines. During the November visit, Scaparrotti observed the training of Ukrainian forces by a multinational group including troops from the U.S., Poland, Lithuania, Canada and Britain. Scaparrotti's latest visit to Ukraine came on the same day that a European Union meeting in Brussels agreed to extend sanctions on Russia for six months over the takeover of Crimea and the intervention in eastern Ukraine. Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 triggered the first round of sanctions.
Read more on UNIAN:

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Amsterdam court rules to return 'Scythian gold' to Ukraine

December 14, 2016 (Interfax-Ukraine) Amsterdam District Administrative Court on Wednesday ruled that the Crimean museums exhibits from the "Crimea - the golden island in the Black Sea" collection (the so-called "Scythian gold") should be given back to Ukraine, the Culture Ministry of Ukraine has reported.
"This is official! The District Administrative Court of Amsterdam has just ruled to return the Crimean museum exhibits from the "Crimea - the golden island in the Black Sea" collection to the territory of Ukraine," the Culture Ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page.
Media reported this ruling doesn't mean the exhibits will be immediately returned to Ukraine. The judges have ruled that the gold will stay in the Allard Pierson Museum for another three months, the time when the opposite side may file an appeal.
As reported, the exhibition, entitled "Crimea: the golden island in the Black Sea" at the Allard Pierson Museum, was formed from the collections of five museums, one of them in Kyiv and the other four in Crimea. Since the Netherlands have not recognized Crimea's reunification with Russia, which took place after the exhibition opened, a question arose as to who the collection should be returned to.

The ancient Scythian gold collection of items of the "Crimea The Golden Island of the Black Sea" exhibition in 2014.

On September 10, 2014, the Russian Culture Ministry said the Scythian gold items from Kyiv museums had been returned to Kyiv, the items from Crimean museums remained in Holland after the joint exhibition at the Amsterdam museum.
Kyiv insists that the items "should be handed over directly to the Ukrainian state."

On December 7, the Kyiv Pechersky District Court arrested the museum exhibits of the "Crimea - the golden island in the Black Sea" exhibition, which are in the Allard Pierson Museum (the Netherlands), submitted documents to Interpol to put the arrested property on the international wanted list.

Ukrainian Hetman whom name was immortalized all over the world.

December 14, 2016 The historical events of Hetman Ivan Mazepa's life have inspired many literary and musical works. The narrative poem Mazeppa written by the English romantic poet Lord Byron in 1819 probably is one of the most famous among them. It is based on a popular legend about the early life of Ivan Mazepa (1639–1709), a Ukrainian gentleman who later became Hetman of the Ukrainian Cossacks.  According to the poem, the young Mazeppa has a love affair with a Countess Theresa while serving as a page at the Court of King John II Casimir Vasa. Countess Theresa was married to a much older Count. On discovering the affair, the Count punishes Mazeppa by tying him naked to a wild horse and setting the horse loose. The bulk of the poem describes the traumatic journey of the hero strapped to the horse. The poem has been praised for its "vigor of style and its sharp realization of the feelings of suffering and endurance".
The popularity of the poem among inhabitants of the Northern America resulted in the appearance of many townships named after Ukrainian Hetman. Among them are Mazeppa, Minnesota, Mazeppa, Pennsylvania, Mazeppa, South Dakota, Mazeppa, Alberta (Canada). Mostly they were platted late 19th century. The national park Mazeppa that located in Central Queensland, Australia, was also named after the Hero of poem Mazeppa.

Mazeppa, Minnesota was platted in 1855, and named in honor of Hetman Ivan Mazepa via a poem by Lord Byron. The city was incorporated in 1877. The picture of the main street of Mazeppa was taken by A.R.Hawkinson in 1919.
Charles XII of Sweden and Mazepa by Swedish painter Gustaf Cederström (1880).
This painting by Swedish painter Gustaf Cederström was used as illustration for the poem "Mazepa" written in 1909 by Alfred Jensen, Swedish historian, slavist, writer, and translator.

Monday, December 12, 2016

KRAZ of Ukraine launches new military tank track based on KRAZ-5233BE chassis

December 12, 2016 ( New tank truck based on the KrAZ-5233BE off road chassis has been added to line-up of special vehicles KrAZ, the Ukranian truck manufacturer. The vehicle is provided with 5 cu.m tank used for carrying and storing water for drinking in the field. It’s no coincidence that the KrAZ-5233 chassis has been chosen for fitting this equipment.
This is one of the best models in terms of off road ability: this special vehicle will deliver drinking water to any destination under any environmental conditions not unusual in military bases and on the frontline. The vehicle owes its excellent off road ability to wide tires with tire pressure adjustment system and powerful engine rated at 330hp, while reliability is owed to extremely strong chassis using side members made of hot-rolled channel bars. It is also an ideal base for securing any equipment. Insulated tank fitted onto KrAZ chassis has two compartments, electrically controlled vacuum filling system, with fill-up time of 20-26 minutes for one compartment. Inner shell is made of stainless steel.

Ukrainian manufacturer KrAZ (located not far from Poltava) strives, particularly in these latter days, to meet the needs of military that would like to have various special vehicles in their fleets for more efficient performance of tasks. The company has taken into account experience of use of these vehicles in ATO zone, including use of cab-behind- engine chassis, which makes it possible to save lives of personnel in case of IED explosion under wheel. “AutoKrAZ” plans to develop the lineup of military vehicle KrAZ to speed up restoration of peace in our country, facilitate performance of duty for Ukrainian military men and save lives of people.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Corruption allegations and unwillingness to change taint Ukraine military – BBC

December 10, 2016 (BBC NEWS) While some changes have been felt, many doubt the defence sector can be completely reformed. Viktor Plakhuta couldn't take the corruption in Ukraine's defence sector any longer. A former financial services worker, he was part of a wave of young, idealistic Ukrainians who entered government after the country's 2014 pro-Western revolution. He joined the department responsible for military procurement and reform in the ministry of economic development and trade.
But after 10 months he resigned, angry at what he said was widespread corruption and a lack of will to do anything about it.
"In the department, I was just carrying out tasks that fulfilled other people's personal interests and corruption," he said.
According to him, defence contracts were regularly inflated or given to insiders, and those who benefited reached the highest levels of power. Yet the conflict with Russian-backed separatists forces in the east has made Ukraine's military competence a vital national issue. Now Mr Plakhuta and other reformers are focusing on the defence industry. If they are right, and top officials are indeed illegally enriching themselves from the war effort, it could seriously damage the credibility of President Petro Poroshenko's government. All this comes at a time when Kyiv is growing worried that US President-elect Donald Trump might abandon Ukraine in favour of Russia, and the EU is struggling to bring an end to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Training with Grad rockets: Sporadic clashes continue between Ukraine's military and proRussian rebels

Ukrainian officials say they are launching a major reform of the defence industry, including a restructuring of Ukroboronprom, the state-owned defence holding company. Some changes, especially in equipment and supplies, have been felt. When the war began, Ukraine's army barely existed; now it has fought the Russian-backed militants to a standstill. But many doubt the defence sector can be completely reformed, given that the law on state secrets will most likely stay in place for some time.
Kyiv has also been pushing hard for the West to provide it weapons. But the potential for corruption has given Western officials and arms companies serious second thoughts. "The system is rigged," said the defence industry insider. The full article is available at

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Visa-free soon?

December 10, 2016 (Kyiv Post) Ukrainians got a rare piece of good news on Dec. 8, when the European Union announced it had reached agreement on the conditions for suspending a visa-free regime with Ukraine – the last stage in the long process of granting visa-free travel to the EU for Ukrainians.
The agreement was needed as a failsafe mechanism, allowing the union to re-impose visa requirements for Ukrainians, should certain conditions arise, such as a wave of unjustified asylum applications, or a lack of cooperation by Kyiv on the return of illegal migrants. The issue of migration is a particularly thorny one for the union at the moment – for obvious reasons.
Ukraine long ago relaxed its own visa requirements for citizens of most EU countries, in particular ahead of the UEFA 2012 Soccer Championship, which was held in Ukraine and Poland. Even before the EuroMaidan Revolution of the winter of 2013-2014, Ukraine had been working to achieve reciprocal visa conditions from the European Union, but those efforts stalled when former President Viktor Yanukovych drew back from signing
Ukraine’s long-negotiated Association Agreement with the EU, triggering massive street protests, and his own downfall three months later.
The EuroMaidan Revolution started out as a mass public protest against the Yanukovych regime’s reorientation away from Europe towards Moscow, but they ended as a mass public rejection of corrupt government and Putin-style authoritarianism, and an embracing of the values for which the EU stands.
Free movement of people in a free market is one of those values, and this Ukraine has now (mostly) achieved with its economic treaty with the EU and the visa-free regime.
However, there is still much to do to bring Ukraine into line with the rest of the values of the EU, with installing the rule of law and an honest judicial system being top of the agenda. Nevertheless, obtaining a visa-free regime with the EU is another step in the right direction for Ukraine, even though it has been a long time in coming.

Friday, December 9, 2016

U.S. Congress boosts security assistance to Ukraine to US$350 million

December 9, 2016 (UNIAN) The U.S. Congress has passed the consolidated National Defense Authorizations Act, 2017, boosting U.S. security assistance to Ukraine to US$ 350 million, according to a posting on the Facebook page of Ukraine's Embassy in the United States. "U.S. Senate has finalized consideration and following the House passed the consolidated National Defense Authorizations Act, 2017," the posting said. "According to the bill, from amounts authorized to be provided for security assistance to Ukraine, including lethal assistance, up to $350 million shall be available for fiscal year 2017, a $50 million increase from $300 million authorized in NDAA, 2016," it said. "The document is now headed for signing by the U.S. President," the posting said. "We appreciate the bicameral and bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress for Ukraine in our fight against the ongoing Russian aggression," the Ukrainian Embassy said.
Ukraine security assistance and intelligence support has been expanded to include equipment and technical assistance to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine for the purpose of developing a comprehensive border surveillance network for Ukraine, as well as training for staff officers and senior leadership of the military.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ukraine celebrating Day of Armed Forces

December 6, 2016 (UNIAN) Today the country is celebrating the Day of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. On this day, back in 1991, the Law of Ukraine “On the Armed Forces of Ukraine” was adopted. The Day of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was established with a resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in 1993. Ukraine’s top officials have greeted the Ukrainian troops on the occasion. President Petro Poroshenko has congratulated the soldiers with the 25 anniversary of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. "I thank everyone who protects Ukraine!" he wrote. 

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov said that the Armed Forces Day is a holiday of all Ukrainians who are proud of their defenders. "You chose a difficult profession – a dangerous and most respected one. Thanks to your courage and professionalism, the Ukrainian army has become one of the most efficient ones in Europe. The job of a defender of the motherland has become one of the most prestigious ones in our country. Every third citizen trusts our Armed Forces. Brave and strong, you are the real descendants of the Zaporizhia Cossacks," he said, stressing that people will always remember the men who have died for their homeland.

Monday, December 5, 2016

TV tower construction started in Kherson region to broadcast Ukrainian channels to Crimean peninsula

December 5, 2016 (Interfax-Ukraine) The construction of 150 meter high telecommunications tower was started near the Chonhar checkpoint in the Kherson region on Friday for broadcasting Ukrainian channels to the Crimean peninsula occupied by Russia.

"We have already appealed to the Ukrainian State Centre of Radio Frequencies for their conclusions in order to give start to at least four channels from this digital broadcasting television tower. That is, the calculations of digital frequency were ordered in order to provide digital broadcasting in the region and on the territory of Crimea. We expect that there will be a local multiplex for at least four channels," a member of the National Council on television and radio broadcasting Serhiyy Kostynsky said. According to Kostynsky, the cost of the television tower is UAH one million and its construction costs UAH 500,000. It is planned that at least four Ukrainian TV channels in a digital format will be broadcast on the territory of Kherson region and Crimea. The random choice of TV stations for broadcasting will be determined on a competitive basis.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Chornobyl’s giant New Safe Confinement has taken its place

December 2, 2016 Chornobyl’s giant New Safe Confinement (NSC) was moved over a distance of 327 metres from its assembly point to its final resting place, completely enclosing aprevious makeshift shelter that was hastily assembled immediately after the 1986 accident.
The Chornobyl arch is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257 metres, a length of 162 metres, a height of 108 metres and a total weight of 36,000 tonnes equipped. It will make the accident site safe and with a lifetime of 100 years allow for the eventual dismantling of the ageing makeshift shelter from 1986 and the management of the radioactive waste.

The structure was built by Novarka, a consortium of the French construction firms VINCI Construction and Bouygues Construction. Works started in 2010. With a cost of €1.5 billion the giant structure is the most prominent element of the Shelter Implementation Plan for Chornobyl, which involved more than 300 projects and activities. The €2.1 billion programme is financed by the Chornobyl Shelter Fund. The EBRD manages the Fund and is the largest contributor to the New Safe Confinement project.

Russia deploys warships near Crimea as Ukraine fires missiles in air defence drill

December 1, 2016 (The Telegraph) Russia has put air defence units on alert and deployed warships along the west coast of Crimea after the Ukrainian military fired surface to air missiles over the Black Sea in a show of strength military that has riled the Kremlin.

Ukraine launched 16 anti aircraft missiles on Thursday. Credit: Ukrainian Ministry of Defence.

The Ukrainian military fired 16 surface to air missiles in  drills in its Kherson region, which borders Crimea, as it kicked off a two-day military drill on Thursday. The Russian government, which annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, has called the drills a “dangerous precedent” and initially threatened to shoot down the missile.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The living exhibit of the Poltava Battle Museum

November 30, 2016 This likable and fluffy cat by nickname Vaska (full name is Vasiliy) could be regarded as a warden of the Poltava Battle Museum. Besides he strikes terror into a few mice that haven’t caught yet in the building of the museum that is about 100 years old. As you can see, even such a fierce weapon from the times of the Great Northern war like this bronze three-pound gun doesn’t make any impression on him. He even allows to pat him but that can't be guaranteed. As about me, he vouchsafed to let me take a pictire of him sitting on the top of the gun.
Today we celebrate the International Domestic Animal's Day, so I am delighted to congratulate Mr. Vasiliy on this holiday and wish all the best to him and to the museum he takes care.

Norway welcomes US Marines amid Russian tensions

November 30, 2016 Washington (CNN) US Marines are coming to Norway -- a move that could send a chill down Russian President Vladimir Putin's spine.
Beginning in January 2016, a limited rotational force of approximately 330 Marines will be located in Vaernes, Norway, according to a statement to CNN from the Norwegian Defense Ministry.
"The US initiative to augment their training and exercises in Norway by locating a Marine Corps Rotational Force in Norway is highly welcome and will have positive implications for our already strong bilateral relationship," Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said in a statement.
"We enjoy a very close relationship with the Norwegian Armed Forces and a limited rotational presence in Norway would certainly enhance this relationship and our ability to operate together," Maj. Gen. Niel E. Nelson, commander of US Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, said in a statement last week to CNN while the request was being considered by Norway.
The statement noted that a Marine presence in Norway -- which shares a 122-mile border with Russia -- "will increase NATO's ability to rapidly aggregate and employ forces in northern Europe."

US Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles before a public demonstration in the Trondheim Fjord in Norway in January.

Tensions about Russia's posture in Europe have increased following the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, following Putin's intervention in eastern Ukraine.The US and its NATO allies have since increased their presence, as well as assistance to Poland and the countries on the Baltic Sea. Earlier this year, members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade trained in Norway alongside troops from other NATO countries in Exercise Cold. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Kyiv court reschedules Yanukovych's skype-questioning for Nov 28

November 25, 2016 (Interfax-Ukraine New Agency) A judge of Kyiv's Sviatoshynsky district court has rescheduled hearings with the questioning via skype conferencing of former president Viktor Yanukovych as a witness in a Maidan killing case. "Having consulted on the issue, the court has decided to declare the hearing held in pursuance of a request for international assistance as rescheduled for 13:00 Kyiv time (14:00 Moscow time) on November 28, 2016," the judge said during a court session in Kyiv on Friday.

Before the announcement of this decision in Kyiv, a judge from a court in Rostov, where Yanukovych came to witness, confirmed via video conferencing that the former Ukrainian president's video questioning could take place on November 28. Yanukovych is a witness on the case of former five Berkut riot policemen who are charged with killings of Euromaidan activists.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Sweden is fed up with Russia...

November 22, 2016 (Ukraine Today Weely Digest) Sweden steps up its defense capabilities by bringing to Gotland island the Saab Robotsystem 15 (RBS-15) anti-ship missiles. Sweden returns to service the old Cold War era anti-ship defense system, reports The Local. It plans to install RBS-15 anti-ship missiles at Gotland island in the Baltic sea, located halfway between Sweden and Latvia in the middle of the Baltic sea and could become a crucial part of defense in the event of a possible conflict in the region.

To bring back the RBS-15 missiles, Sweden had to pull back Scania launch trucks out of museums. They were upgraded with components from existing missile boats and warships. The Local cites Rear Admiral Thomas Engevall's interview to Dagens Nyheter newspaper, where he said: "This decision is national, but it is also a contribution by Sweden to the international defense capability in the Baltic Sea after Russia's annexation of Crimea and the invasion of Ukraine.....If you group together these kinds of systems on Gotland, you can control quite a lot of territory in the mid-Baltic. I do not think Sweden is a primary goal for Russia," he added. "But we would still be involved in any conflict in the Baltic Sea area related to EU countries." The restored system is now being tested on Sweden's east coast.

November 21, 2016 (UNIAN) Ukraine OSINT experts present at NATO PA evidence of Russia’s military involvement in Donbas conflict Ukrainian parliamentary delegation on Saturday, November 19, presented two InformNapalm’s videos with the evidence of Russian military aggression against Ukraine before members of NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Istanbul, Turkey.
InformNapam volunteer intelligence community has been gathering evidence of Russian aggression in Ukraine for over two years, the organization’s website reports. Read also Putin awards medals to active Russian military after their return from Donbas war – media Proving the participation of Russian professional military in the war in Donbas is the most important part of their work, the experts say. While Russian soldiers have been cautious and carefully cover up their combat involvement, they still leave traces, according to InformNapalm statement. The analysts sift through different sources – websites, videos, social media posts – to find these traces and present investigations to public. "So far we have identified servicemen from 75 Russian military units sent to Ukraine on the orders of their command," the report says. Lawmakers from NATO Parliamentary Assembly adopted reports urging NATO member-states "to stand firm in supporting Ukraine and maintain a strong stance against Russian belligerence". The following video presents InformNapalm’s major findings.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Trump names pro-Ukraine CIA Director

November 21, 2016 (UNAIN) U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has moved to fill some of the top positions in his government by selecting a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, a national security adviser, and an attorney general, RFE/RL reports.

Trump said in a statement he had chosen Representative Mike Pompeo (Republican-Kansas) to be CIA director, retired General Michael Flynn for the post of national security adviser, and Senator Jeff Sessions (Republican-Alabama) as the country's top prosecutor, according to RFE/RL. The publication notes that Pompeo, who is currently a member of the House Intelligence Committee is known in particular for his statements in support of Ukraine in its resistance to Russian aggression. In April 2014, Mike Pompeo visited Ukraine and then stated that the aim of Russian President Vladimir Putin was to take control over Ukraine. He stressed: "To the degree that we can demonstrate support for the Ukrainian government, we can change Putin's calculus and increase the risk to him and to Russia for moving combat forces closer to Kyiv." Pompeo and Sessions require confirmation by a majority vote in the Senate; Flynn does not.
Pompeo is a member of the Republican Party's conservative wing, the Tea Party, having been elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010. He graduated top of his class from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and graduated from Harvard Law School before spending five years in the army. Trump said he was happy to have Flynn by his side to "defeat radical Islamic terrorism."

Flynn, 57, served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014, a position he was nominated for by President Barack Obama. He served in the military from 1981 to 2014, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, before retiring with the rank of lieutenant general. Flynn graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College as well as the Naval War College. He says he considers radical Islam the greatest threat to global stability and has been critical of the Obama administration's policies in fighting IS. Flynn has said Washington could work with Russia to fight IS and other Islamic extremists. His appearance at a dinner in Moscow -- sitting next to President Vladimir Putin -- honoring the state television station RT alarmed many who noted his previous accommodating views of Russia's role in Ukraine. The full article is available at:

Thursday, November 17, 2016

President Poroshenko visited State Archive of Sweden where Latin version of Pylyp Orlyk’s Constitution is stored

November 17, 2016 ( On November 14, 2016, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko paid his first official visit to the Kingdom of Sweden. The agenda included meetings with Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Löfven, Speaker of the Riksdag Urban Ahlin and leader of the Moderate Party Anna Kinberg Batra.
In the course of the meeting with the President of Ukraine, Prime Minister of Sweden S.Löfven recalled that the EU has agreed on a firm response to Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, and its aggression in Eastern Ukraine.
In the framework of the official visit to Sweden, President Petro Poroshenko visited the State Archive of Sweden. The Head of State examined the Latin version of the Constitution of Pylyp Orlyk and other documents of Ukrainian Cossacks stored in the State Archive of Sweden. The document dated after 1710, and consists of 13 pages. “This is one of the first Constitutions on the European continent and a symbol of the Cossack state and democracy. It is very important for Ukrainians,” Petro Poroshenko said. The State Archive of Sweden pays special attention to this historic document, which is securely stored in a separate vault with steady moisture, temperature and other conditions necessary for its preservation.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Enormous containment arch finally moving into place over exploded Chernobyl reactor

November 16, 2016 Over the next five days, engineers at Chernobyl, the Ukrainian site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster, will be moving an enormous roof over the still irradiated remains of the plant’s No 4 reactor. Hopes are high that the new superstructure can contain radiation while Ukraine works to deal with the nuclear waste within the exploded reactor. Bellona’s executive director and nuclear physicist Nils Bøhmer, however, said the new roof will not entirely remove radiation dangers from the area. Chernobyl’s reactor No 4 exploded on April 26, 1986, and over the ensuing 10 days, its nuclear fuel continued to burn, issuing clouds of poisonous radiation and contaminating as much as three quarters of the European continent, hitting northern Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, especially hard. Sweden was the first country to report irregular radiation readings. The Chernobyl plant was the suspected culprit, but Soviet officials remained mum.
Construction of the "sarcophagus" at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine, following the explosion on April 26, 1986. UPI/INS
In the days following, 116,000 people were evacuated while some 600,000 liquidators, comprised of police, fire fighters, military and engineers, operated in chaotic and dangerous conditions, often without protective gear, to implement a containment structure of cement and steel to squelch emissions of radiation. The ad-hoc structure trapped 200 tons of uranium, but many liquidators feared at the time that the cement barrier would eventually give up. In 2005 it did.
This week, the New Safe Confinement, a €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion), 36,000 ton steel structure, will slide into place with the goal of trapping that radiation for the next 100 years – by which point it is hope engineers will contain it for good. Financed by donations of more than 40 countries coordinated by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, the New Safe Confinement is the largest movable land-based structure on earth, and will fully enclose the remains of Chernobyl’s No 4 reactor.
A view of the New Safe Confinement structure. (Photo: Nils Bøhmer)  
The arch structure is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257 meters, a length of 162 meters, and a height of 108 meters. That’s big enough to house London’s St. Paul’s cathedral or Paris’s Notre Dame. The London-based EBRD calls it “one of the most ambitious projects in the history of engineering”. The New Safe Confinement was constructed in a clean area near No 4 reactor and will over the next week slide a little more than 327 meters to seal off the unit, World Nuclear News reported. It’s hoped to make the site safe to allow for eventual dismantling of the crumbling concrete shelter, called the sarcophagus, currently covering the remains of the reactor. It will also facilitate management of the waste within the structure, the EBRD said.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

United States to continue increasing their presence in Europe

November 12, 2016 (AFP News) The United States are will continue to increase their military presence in Europe according to plan, independently from the future intentions of president-elect Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Defense announced. The statements of president-elect Donald Trump during his campaign that as president, he would only defend allies, who have met their financial obligations to NATO, were a cause of worry in Europe. The U.S. is sending an armored brigade to Eastern Europe beginning February 2017. With it, the number of American brigades on European soil increases to three. A battalion-strength battle group to be sent to Poland will also be led by the Americans. The aim is to reinforce the alliance’s eastern flank, and Eastern Europe’s defenses for the case of a Russian attack.

 Press spokesman for the Pentagon, Peter Cook, said that the U.S. was putting the plan into practice as agreed with its European NATO allies. About the upcoming change of the presidency, Cook said that the military would leave policy to the next government. “We have one commander-in-chief at a time,” Cook said. The new brigade will start its operations with training exercises in Poland. After this, companies will be sent to Bulgaria, Romania, and to the Baltic states. Trump, who during his campaign praised Putin on a few occasions and criticized President Barack Obama’s policy in matters concerning Moscow, has said that he wants to improve relations with Russia. NATO decided at its Warsaw Summit last summer to send battalions to Poland and the Baltic states. The battalion to be sent to Estonia will be led by the British, the unit to be sent to Latvia led by the Canadians, the Lithuanian battalion by Germany, and the one to be sent to Poland by the United States.
The full article is available at:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

What scientists have discovered in the Chernobyl forest, shocked the whole world!

November 8, 2016 (The Telegraph) On April 26, 1986 was a tragic day in the history of the Soviet Union and the world at large. On this day the accident occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. About 116,000 people were evacuated from a 1,600 square mile exclusion zone around Chernobyl, on the border of Ukraine and Belarus. A huge area around the station became the exclusion zone. Recently, scientists have launched a project that aims to learn more about the fauna of this abandoned place. It turns out that the presence of people affects wildlife much more than radiation, because in the Chernobyl area found fauna, which were not observed more than a century.

The research results have drawn a wide response among biologists. The study revealed that in the Chernobyl forests significantly increased the number of wild boars, wolves, roe deer and foxes. In addition, scientists found the rare animals, which for many years did not appear in these places: European lynx and brown bear. Professor at the University of Portsmouth Jim Smith claims that this accident has created a certain reserve: “We are not saying that radiation is good. But the lack of human impact has allowed the animal population to grow”.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Russia may be wounded, but it can still bite

November 3, 2016 (The Washington Post) Whoever wins Tuesday’s presidential election will face an assertive, aggrieved Russia whose risk-taking behavior under President Vladimir Putin is increasingly worrisome to U.S. experts.

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Mikhail Klimentyev/Pool photo via Associated Press)
Today’s pushy, headstrong Russia presents a paradox: By most measures, it is a country in decline, with a sagging economy, an underdeveloped technology base and a shrinking population. Corruption pervades nearly every sector. The collapse of the Soviet Union is still an open wound, and many Russians blame the United States for taking advantage of them during their years of decline.
Yet this inwardly weak Russia displays the cockiness of a street fighter. It is waging war in Syria, Ukraine and cyberspace with a seeming disdain for U.S. power. According to Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., Russian hackers sought to “interfere with the U.S. election process,” on authority of the highest levels of the Russian government.
“Putin’s definition of risk-taking has evolved in the direction of greater boldness and less attention to how it will affect the U.S.,” argues Dimitri Simes, president of the Center for the National Interest. “Putin thinks that American positive inducements are next to nonexistent, and that the penalties are minimal, and will be imposed whatever he does.”
The next president must assess how to alter Russian behavior without direct military confrontation. Is that best done by cutting deals with Putin, as Donald Trump suggests? Or should it be a firmer process of asserting U.S. power and interests, as Hillary Clinton has argued? This may be the biggest national-security issue in the election. The full article is available at

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Ukraine stunned as vast cash reserves of political elite are made public

November 1, 2016 (The Gardian) Two years after angry Ukrainians deposed Viktor Yanukovych and broke into his vast, opulent residential compound outside Kiev, revelations thrown up by a new system that requires government officials to declare their wealth and property online have led many to suspect the new elite are no better. The declarations, which all officials were required to file by Sunday evening, have made public many curiosities, including politicians who own multiple luxury watches, Fabergé eggs and large collections of weapons. One politician declared that he owned a personal church. By far the biggest shock, however, has been just how much money Ukraine’s politicians seem to stash away in hard cash.

The Ukrainian prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman.
Photograph: Eric Piermont/AFP/Getty Images

The prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, declared $1.2m (£980,000) and €460,000 (£410,000) in cash, as well as a collection of luxury watches. Many other officials declared hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cash. “Everyone is amazed that there is so much cash in our country,” said Kristina Berdynskykh, an investigative journalist who has written extensively on corruption among the elite. Mikhail Dobkin, an opposition MP, declared 1,780 bottles of wine, while Roman Nasirov, the head of the state fiscal service, declared that together, he and his wife owned Swiss watches, diamonds, fur coats and held more than $2m in cash. Observers have pointed out that when the head of the national bank keeps his savings in dollars, it can hardly fill the population with confidence about the prospects for the hryvnia, Ukraine’s national currency. Other curiosities found among the declarations included a Nazi SS dagger and medieval religious icons. Anatoly Matviyenko, the deputy leader of the presidential faction in parliament, declared ownership of a church.
Read full article at

‘Increasingly aggressive’ Russia a growing threat to UK, says MI5 head

November 1, 2016 (The Guardian) Russia poses an increasing threat to the stability of the UK and is using all the sophisticated tools at its disposal to achieve its aims, the director general of MI5 has told the Guardian. In the first newspaper interview given by an incumbent MI5 chief in the service’s 107-year history, Andrew Parker said that at a time when much of the focus was on Islamic extremism, covert action from other countries was a growing danger. Most prominent was Russia.

Andrew Parker said Russia was “using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways”. Photograph: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA
It is using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways – involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks. Russia is at work across Europe and in the UK today. It is MI5’s job to get in the way of that.
Parker said Russia still had plenty of intelligence officers on the ground in the UK, but what was different now from the days of the cold war was the advent of cyberwarfare. Russian targets include military secrets, industrial projects, economic information and government and foreign policy.
Parker said he was talking to the Guardian rather than any other newspaper despite the publication of the Snowden files and a consistent scepticism about the need for extra powers for the security services. “We recognise that in a changing world we have to change too. We have a responsibility to talk about our work and explain it,” he said.
The full article is available at:

Saturday, October 29, 2016

World War 3 Balance:Britain the latest NATO nation to bolster Baltic states against Russian threat

With Russia conducting an endless series of military exercises and doing nothing to alleviate fears that it is poised to invade the Baltic States, the United Kingdom has become the latest of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) nations to send troops and war materiel to help bolster the organization’s most vulnerable members to try and avert a potential World War 3.
The Sun reported this week that the British Ministry of Defence announced at NATO headquarters in Brussels that the United Kingdom would be sending 800 troops to Estonia, the largest troop deployment to the Russian border since the end of the Cold War. Along with the troops, the British will also deploy tanks and drones.
The Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — have been imploring its NATO allies to provide military assistance to thwart a threatening Russia ever since the Russian Federation annexed Crimea, militarily occupying the territory that was recognized as part of Ukraine, in 2014. Military exercises being held just across the border have only accentuated the fears, and the recent transfer of nuclear missiles to just across the border from Lithuania seemed to make matters somewhat worse.
It also has not helped the Baltic State mindset that, as has been recounted by the Inquisitr, think tanks like the Atlantic Council have issued reports that have warned that a Russian invasion would likely begin with a swift military sweep with “no warning time” through the Baltic States and into neighboring Poland. And former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Philip Breedlove warned in September that Russia’s military was more than capable of overwhelming an inadequately defended Europe.
Given that the Baltic States were once considered part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the predecessor of the Russian Federation, there are present fears that a re-militarized Russia might harbor dreams of re-assuming the boundaries of its former empire.
I am confirming details today of our deployment as part of the forward presence in Estonia next year,” U.K. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon stated, “a full sized British battalion with light armour, Challenger 2 tanks, Warriors vehicles, French and Danish companies in support. That deployment will begin next spring [May]”.
Fallon said that the United Kingdom was “stepping up in NATO, beefing up the reassurance that we are able to offer. Although we are leaving the European Union, we will be doing more to help secure the eastern and southern flanks of NATO.

Russian airforce in training exercises on possible air strikes on Ukraine targets

October 29, 2016 (UNIAN) The Russian Federation continues to prepare for a possible large-scale offensive against Ukraine, which is to include massive airstrikes on the country's strategic facilities, representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry Vadym Skibytskiy told a Kyiv briefing Friday, according to an UNIAN correspondent.

"The Russian leadership does not give up its aggressive plans for Ukraine, continuing to prepare for a possible large-scale offensive against our country," he said. "On October 26, using the obligations of the Republic of Belarus as an allied state, Russian combat aircraft worked out possible massive air strikes on strategic targets on the territory of Ukraine in the airspace of Belarus," Skibytskiy said.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

New weapons, gear for Ukrainian paratroopers revealed

October 26, 2016 (UNIAN) Presidential adviser Yuriy Biryukov published on Facebook photos of the new equipment for the troops of the 79th Airborne Brigade. "Here’s the gear of paratroopers from the 79th Brigade. New helmets, new night vision devices, new thermal imagers, new automatic rifles ... almost all assault component of the brigade is already provided with night vision devices and/or thermal imaging sights. And the whole of the assault component is provided with new assault rifles with a tactical underweight and collimator sights. It is about hundreds, many hundreds… AK-TK automatic rifles, already upgraded, taking into account the previous design flaws," Biryukov wrote. In addition, he has said the gear now includes new Ukrainian-made paratrooper helmets purchased for money from public funds, with Summer/Winter covers, with holds for night vision devices.

Read more on UNIAN:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Russia restricts the strongest air force in the Middle East - Haaretz

October 25, 2016 (UATODAY) One of Israel's leading media experts on military and defense issues Amos Harel in his article for Haaretz analyzed Putin's gains and losses in Middle East. 
Over the past few weeks, Russia has finished beefing up its aerial defenses in northern Syria. The Washington Post, after interviewing American experts, published a map last week showing the estimated radius of coverage of Russia's S-300 and S-400 systems, which are bolstered by anti-aircraft missiles on ships in the port of Tartus. The 380-kilometer radius covers Lebanon, much of Turkey and Jordan, the eastern Mediterranean until out beyond Cyprus, a bit of Iraq, and Israel all the way to the northern Negev.

The paper said the Pentagon isn't sure whether, if necessary, it could penetrate these aerial defense systems, since the question hasn't yet arisen. Presumably, America has electronic warfare systems capable of disrupting even dense anti-aircraft coverage. But the Post said Russia's coverage limits Washington's ability not only to launch air strikes on Syrian military targets, but also to create no-fly zones to protect civilians, an idea both U.S. presidential candidates say they support.
Russia's beefed-up deployment also affects Israel, which, according to foreign media reports, has launched numerous air strikes on arms convoys from Syria to Hezbollah in recent years. Based on the Washington Post's map, an Israeli plane couldn't take off from Tel Nof airbase without being tagged by Russian radar.
The limitations aren't just military, but also diplomatic. Israel and Russia have set up a mechanism to prevent clashes in Syrian airspace, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin four times over the last year to further that purpose.
Having no other choice, Netanyahu has nurtured his Russian romance. But in reality, this romance is about as romantic as Donald Trump's groping of women. It's a romance to which Israel was forced to consent once the Russian bear decided to move into its backyard.
Russia apparently reinforced its aerial defenses in response to American condemnations of its bombing of Aleppo, and due to concern, apparently unwarranted, that the Obama administration might actually take military action against Syrian President Bashar Assad. Though Russia's economy is crumbling, Putin keeps pushing the envelope, including with frequent hints about the danger of nuclear war, attempts to sabotage the U.S. presidential election and surprising moves in the Mideast, like this month's announcement that Russia and Egypt will hold a joint military exercise. The full article is available at