Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fighting in the Eeastern Ukraine surges

January 31, 2017 (Euronews) Fighting in east Ukraine has escalated, with reports that at least seven government soldiers and 15 pro-Russian separatists have been killed over the past two days. Ukrainian defence officials accused what they said were ‘Russian occupying forces’ of firing towards the eastern frontline town of Avdiivka, while separatist leaders blamed government forces for the spike in violence. Houses in Makiyivka to the south of Avdiivka were damaged, one resident described the moment the fighting erupted. “I was in the garden when I heard incoming shelling. When the third shell hit that house I ran to the cellar. That’s what saved me,” he said.
Typical view of Avdiivka's suburb

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko cut short a trip to Germany to oversee the emergency situation in Avdiivka. The surge in violence comes after Donald Trump had his first phone call with the Russian President, in which they discussed the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. The latest casualties add to the estimated 10,000 already killed in the three-year battle over territory near the Ukraine-Russia border.
                                    There are thousands of such "Russian sourenirs"scattered around in Avdiyivka.
Recaptured from pro-Russian rebels in 2014, Avdiivka is a key stronghold for the Ukrainian army which it is desperately trying to retain. The town is close to rebel-controlled Donetsk and important roads and intersections used by the rebels to transport machinery and ammunition. Just as important is the town's coking and chemical plant - the biggest of its kind in Europe. If it fell into rebel hands it would cut much-needed supplies to Ukraine's steel industry.
On Sunday we have lost three valiant defenders of Avdiivka: Andrew Kyzylo (year of birth : 1993), Volodymyr Balchenko (year of birth : 1992), and Dmytro Overchenko (year of birth : 1989).

Canadian hockey team takes ice wearing Ukrainian embroidered shirts

January 30, 2017 (Ukrinform) Players of the Dauphin Kings Canadian hockey team from the town of Dauphin, Manitoba, took the ice wearing the form designed to resemble Ukrainian embroidered shirts to play against Virden team in the youth league match. As an Ukrinform correspondent reports, the match was called the "Ukrainian night" and ended with the victory of Dauphin Kings with a score of 3:2.

Photo: Dauphin Kings Facebook page

The town Dauphin, which together with its suburbs is the home to more than 8,000 people, is known for its strong Ukrainian diaspora. More than 41% of the population are of Ukrainian origin. More than a quarter of inhabitants speak Ukrainian.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Royal Navy dispatches destroyer to Black Sea to head-up Nato taskforce protecting Brit troops in Ukraine

January 29, 2017 (The Sun) MS Diamond, a Type 45 destroyer, will sail to Ukraine carrying as many as 60 Royal Marine and Special Boat Service commandos – and equipped with state-of-the-art anti-aircraft rockets.

HMS Diamond pictured leaving Portsmouth's naval dockyard
HMS Diamond, which will carry 3000mph Sea Viper missiles, will lead a Nato task force, as well as help protect 650 troops deployed in Ukraine.The display of strength comes after Theresa May told US politicians both the UK and USA should stand up to Vladimir Putin, the Mail on Sunday reported. It was previously dispatched to Libya to tackle migrant boats in the Mediterranean. The ship is protected by a modern Gatling gun called 'Phalanx' - which fires 20mm shells at 3,000 rounds a minute - while its amphibious warfare troops will be transported by Lynx Mk8 helicopter. Lord West, a former Royal Navy head, told the Mail on Sunday: "This is an operation with a very serious purpose. HMS Diamond can really look after herself and President Putin is a man who respects hard military power."
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon added: "The UK is sending a clear message that we are committed to defending democracy across the world and support Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity." HMS Diamond's arrival will reportedly coincide with the deployment of British troops to Estonia and Poland, while the RAF also sends Typhoon jets to Romania.
HMS Diamond's Weapons and Equipment:
  • Sophisticated multi-function Sampson radar
  • Phalanx Gatling gun, firing 20mm shells at 3,000 rounds per minute
  • 3000mph Sea Viper anti-air missile
  • 4.5 inch MK8 main gun, firing up to 24 high explosive shells, weighing over 40kg, per minute
Full article is available at

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Ukrainian Main Battle Tanks for Thailand

January 26, 2017 (UNIAN) Ukrainian MBTs (main battle tanks) for Thailand Arms exports remain an important source of income for the Ukrainian defense sector. One of the major export contracts is this year’s delivery of a final batch of Oplot main battle tanks to Thailand. The deal is worth nearly $250 million.
Ukraine retains its status of one of the world’s TOP 10 arms exporters. According to the State-owned Ukroboronprom Concern, over the past few years, the volume of export contracts has increased significantly. Over the first 9 months of 2016 alone, the amount of the military equipment supplied abroad grew 20%, worth almost $600 million, while the total amount of export contracts signed in 2016 was worth more than $1.5 billion. After the beginning of hostilities in Donbas, fulfillment of international contracts for the sale of weapons has ceased to become top priority.

 Oplot MBT is the latest product of Ukraine’s armored industry. Photo from UNIAN
The main task for the Ukrainian government was to ensure combat capability of the Ukrainian forces countering Russia’s military machine. However, arms contracts are an important element of the overall income for the national defense industry and the country’s state budget - a portfolio of international deals provides billions of dollars of much-needed forex earnings for the national economy. One of the most important and widely discussed deals in the package of contracts is the supply of fifty Oplot main battle tanks to the Kingdom of Thailand. For more than six years, Ukraine has been struggling to fulfill its obligations.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Poroshenko’s Roshen factory in Russia will close in April

January 23, 2017 (uawire.org) The Roshen Corporation, which belongs to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, will cease its operation at the Lipetsk confectionery factory. This was stated by the company’s press service on it’s website on Friday, January 20th. "This decision was made due to economic and political reasons," the statement reads, without providing any further details. The production and the storage of the production facilities and infrastructure are planned to stop operating fully in April.
President Poroshenko repeatedly emphasized that it was impossible to sell the factory due to freezes on the factory’s property by the Investigative Committee of Russia in the framework of a criminal case. According to the company, in four years, the production volumes of the Lipetsk confectionery factory decreased three times. In July 2013, Rospotrebnadzor banned the import of Roshen products to the Russian Federation, which led to a decrease in the factory’s assortment. Among other reasons, the corporation called this move an "active discrediting of the factory’s activity in the Russian and Ukrainian media" and mentioned the pressure applied by authorities on businesses.
The 700 remaining employees have already been informed of the impending closure of the facility. In 2014, Poroshenko created a number of offshore companies. He explained that the Roshen confectionery could be transferred into a trust only through such a legal construct.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ukraine, UK to expand cooperation: Aircraft engineering, army training

January 22, 2016 (UNIAN) Ukraine and the United Kingdom will expand cooperation in such areas as aircraft engineering and training of Ukraine's Air Force as well as its Army and Navy, according to state-run Ukroboronprom's press service and the British Ministry of Defence. These issues were on the agenda of a meeting between Ukroboronprom's top managers and British Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon in Kyiv on January 20, the press service said. As part of his trip, Fallon visited state-run Antonov's facility that assembles its new AN-132 plane, using British components. "The Defence Secretary also spoke about how the UK is a partner in prosperity with Ukraine. He met with staff of the Antonov National Company, the Ukrainian aircraft manufacturers company. British equipment from operations in Afghanistan and now in Iraq has been transported using Antonov aircraft and Dowty Propellers, based in the UK, has started component deliveries for propeller systems that will equip a demonstrator for the company's new An-132 twin-engine transport aircraft," the British Ministry of Defence reported in turn.

Fallon also said that the United Kingdom stands firmly alongside Ukraine as the British Army prepares to broaden its already extended training package to all of the country's armed forces and the UK is beginning to deliver training to Ukraine's Air Force as well as its Army and Navy. "Meeting with Defence Minister of Ukraine, General of the Army Stepan Poltorak, the Defence Secretary confirmed that the UK's short-term training teams will have trained 5,000 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces by the end of March – 1,000 more than initially planned - and will now continue in their training role for another year," the British Ministry reported.
During his visit, Fallon met with Ukrainian veterans to hear first-hand how the UK's training provides vital support for the UAF. In December he confirmed that the training programme, named Op Orbital, would be extended meaning UK forces will be in the country until at least 2018. As the UK extends its training, a new regiment – 4 SCOTS – will take over dedicated delivery of the infantry short-term training. As UNIAN reported earlier, state-run Antonov enterprise, the only Ukrainian designer and manufacturer of cargo and passenger planes, presented the prototype of the An-132 transport aircraft on December 20. Antonov has already signed a number of contracts with Saudi Arabia on shipments of this model from 2017, as well as on the joint design and production at an aircraft plant in that country where the serial production of the An-132 is to be launched. Antonov said Saudi Arabia was ready to buy 80 aircraft.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Historical seminar in Poltava Battle Museum

January 20, 2017 Today in the Poltava Battle Museum we had a historical seminar dedicated to the founder of the museum and its first director Ivan Pavlovsky. This man has made a valuable contribution to the first museum that was opened on the battle field in 1909. He helped a lot to Karl Bennedich and Frey Rydeberg, two young Swedish officers from Norra Skånska infantry regiment who were sent to Poltava in summer 1911 by order of the General Stuff of the Swedish Army. They main goal was to find main burial places of Swedes killed in the decisive battle of the Great Northern war.

I presented my paper dedicated to the misadventure of the box with skulls and bones of the warriors of the Charles XII who were mostly killed during the second stage of the battle which in fact was not a battle but massacre. This sad freight was delivered to Stockholm in 1911. It took 47 long years until it has been buried in the cemetery of St. Birgitta monastery in Vadstena. The field where the main burial place was discovered in 1911 is still in agricultural use. Every spring when this field is under ploughing it is possible to discover some fragments of skulls and bones of Swedish warriors. I have already published a few articles in our local newspapers with appeal for turning this field into memorial field and unveiling a memorial stone with an appropriate sign. Today I have shown to the participants many typical Swedish gravestones that were erected in Sweden under the common graves of the soldiers of Charles XII. Mostly these common graves connected with the death march of General Armfeldt (Karolinernas dödsmarsch).
Grave stones along the Karolinernas dödsmarsch
We decided to address our appeal to the City Council. We sincere believe that sooner or later our dream will come true and we will not be ashamed while receiving foreign delegations and tourists in Poltava.
Common grave of Swedish warriors in Vadstena

Fallon tells Trump: Freedom cannot be traded in Ukraine

January 20, 2017 (BBC Europe) Britain will stand alongside Ukraine in its confrontation with Russia because freedom cannot be "traded", the Defence Secretary has said, amid fears Donald Trump may scale back support to Kiev in a deal with Moscow. Sir Michael Fallon announced new British military training to Ukrainian forces battling Russian-backed separatists and said a Royal Navy warship will visit the country for the first time in a decade. He arrived in Kiev for two days of talks as the US election of Mr Trump has caused alarm among Ukrainians dismayed at his apparent warmth towards Vladimir Putin.

Sir Michael Fallon is visiting Ukraine. Credit: Eddie Mulholland

In comments likely to be seen as a message to Mr Trump, Sir Michael said: “The values of freedom and democracy cannot be traded.” “Britain is stepping up on the global stage and standing firm with our Ukrainian friends. “The UK is sending a clear message that we are committed to defending democracy across the world and support Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.”
Read the full article at:

Monday, January 16, 2017

On final Ukraine trip, Biden urges Trump administration to keep Russia sanctions

January 16, 2017 (Theguardian) Vice-president Joe Biden, on a last foreign trip before leaving office, met Ukraine’s president on Monday and called on the incoming Donald Trump administration to retain Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia.
Biden’s comments at a briefing with President Petro Poroshenko came after Trump indicated in an interview with The Times and Bild that he could end sanctions imposed in the aftermath Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, in return for a nuclear arms reduction deal.
Trump’s attitude to Russia and praise for President Vladimir Putin has been a consistently controversial feature of his rise to the White House, which will be completed with his inauguration in Washington on Friday.
US intelligence agencies believe Russia sought to covertly influence the US election in Trump’s favour and against the Democratic nominee, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Trump has recently admitted that he believes Russia did orchestrate such hacks, but has nonetheless fuelled a bitter feud with intelligence officials over the issue.
Vice-president Joe Biden met with Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko on his last foreign trip before leaving office. Photograph: TASS / Barcroft Images
“The international community must continue to stand as one against Russian coercion and aggression,” Biden told reporters, standing alongside Poroshenko, in remarks which did not include reference to Trump by name. “The Crimea-related sanctions against Russia must remain in place until Russia returns full control to the people of Ukraine.” Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. Other US sanctions are connected to Russia’s involvement in the separatist war in eastern Ukraine.  “Together with our EU and G7 partners,” Biden said, “we made it clear that sanctions should remain in place until Russia fully, emphasise fully, implements its commitments under the Minsk agreement.” Poroshenko said Ukraine believed in good cooperation with the new US administration and urged sanctions to stay, without mentioning Trump’s remarks on a deal with Russia. The full article is available at:

Friday, January 13, 2017

U.S. Vice President Biden to make swansong visit to Ukraine

January 12, 2017 (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will fly to Kiev on Sunday on a farewell visit by one of Ukraine's strongest political supporters, as the country looks forward with apprehension to the new administration of Donald Trump.
Biden, whose visit was announced by the office of President Petro Poroshenko, has been the front man for U.S. policy towards Ukraine since street protests in 2013-2014 forced a Russian-backed leader to flee and the pro-Western opposition took over, promising sweeping reforms whose delivery has been patchy.
The United States has invested heavily in the reform process, providing over $3 billion in economic assistance. It has imposed sanctions against Russia for annexing Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and backing separatists in a conflict in the east of the country.
Biden has been closely involved, visiting Ukraine four times since the change in power and maintaining regular telephone contact with Poroshenko and the prime minister.
Officials in Ukraine have expressed concern that U.S. support could wane following the Jan. 20 inauguration of Trump, who has voiced admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin and a desire to improve ties with Moscow.
Biden, who last year promised the "unwavering support" of the United States for Ukraine, has nevertheless chastised officials for lacklustre reform efforts, warning that endemic corruption risks undermining international will to maintain sanctions on Russia.

During Biden's last visit to Kiev in December 2015, he made an impassioned speech to the Ukrainian parliament, saying lawmakers needed to do more in "a historic battle against corruption." 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

US tanks arrive in Germany to help Nato defences

January 10, 2017 (BBC Europe) The largest shipment of US brigades since the fall of the Soviet Union is arriving in northern Germany. The first of the 87 tanks and 144 military vehicles were being unloaded in the port of Bremerhaven on Friday. The equipment and 3,500 US troops are to be deployed along Nato's eastern frontier. The deployment aims to allay worries of potential Russian aggression in eastern Europe. However, some fear the large number will exacerbate tensions with Moscow. Leaders of the left-wing regional government of Brandenburg - one of the German states through which the American brigades will be transported over the next two weeks - have called for further talks with Russia.
The tanks began arriving in Bremerhaven, northern Germany, on Friday. Pictured: Major General Timothy McGuire
The arrival of the equipment and troops marks the start of a new phase of the US's Operation Atlantic Resolve, which foresees the continuous presence of an American armoured brigade combat team in Europe on a nine-month rotational basis. The new forces will gather first in Poland, then fan out across seven countries from Estonia to Bulgaria, while a headquarters unit will be stationed in Germany.
                                                                            The vehicles will be joined by 3,500 troops

Other Nato members are also increasing their presence in eastern Europe, with Britain sending fighter jets to the Black Sea area, while a battalion of troops, tanks and light armour will deploy to Estonia in the spring, backed by French and Danish troops. Germany also plans to send troops and tanks to Lithuania.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Government of Ukraine has approved development of DNIPRO a new air defense missile system

January 9, 2017 (armyrecognition.com) In 2016, the Ukrainian government has approved a new program for the development of new air defense system including a new medium-range missile under the name of "Dnipro". This new air defense system will be able to detect aircraft up to a range of 150 km. This new Ukrainian air defense system will enhanced the capacity of Ukrainian armed forces to protect its airspace. This new surface-to-air missile will have the capacity to destroy aircraft but also all types of helicopters, drones and cruise missiles at medium and short distances.

New mobile launcher station of Dnipro surface-to-air missile
The new air defense system DNIPRO has all-weather capability during day and night. The system provides a detection range of more than 150 km and coverage to an altitude up to 7,000m. It can destroy aerial targets from a distance of 15 m to 25 km. The system can be deployed and prepared for firing in less than four minutes. The surveillance control centre includes a surveillance radar used phased-array antenna technology which creates a beam of radio waves which can be electronically steered to point in different directions, without moving the antennas. The radar is mounted on a 6x6 military truck chassis. According a drawing released on an Ukrainian internet website, the mobile launch unit will be fitted with four missile silos ready to fire mounted to the back of a trailer. The missile control center is linked by cable or by radio data communications to the surveillance control centre to coordinate all information about the target. The DNIPRO air defense missile system can simultaneously engage up to 6 air targets with 12 missiles.

Friday, January 6, 2017

McCain will hold Senate hearings on the issue of cyber attacks from Russia

January 6, 2017 (UKRINFORM) The head of the Senate Committee of U.S. armed forces John McCain announced the holding of hearings on the cyber threats from the Russian Federation.
In the first days of the new, the 115th session of the U.S. Congress, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on armed forces John McCain will hold a hearing with the participation of top executives of American intelligence, who will relate mainly to the cyber threat from Russia. This was reported by the influential us publication Politico.
The Chairman of the Committee on armed services of the Senate John McCain has appointed Thursday the hearing on cyber threats, where the focus is the problem of hacking on the part of Russia in an election year”, – quotes the edition a source informed with the planning of the work of the Senate Committee.

The head of the Senate Committee of U.S. armed forces John McCain 

It was envisaged that the hearings will be held with the participation of the Director of national intelligence James Klepper, the commander of the NSA Admiral Michael Rogers and Deputy Secretary of defense for intelligence Marcel Lettre. About these days to be held the intelligence briefing to the President-elect of the USA Donald trump on the same issues, drew attention to the publication.

The Obama administration this week expanded sanctions against Russia in response to interference in the electronic system of political institutions of the United States during the election. In addition, the U.S. government declared persona non grata 35 Russian diplomats and stopped the work of two institutions located in the diplomatic property of Russia in the United States.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Ukroboronservice, a part of the Ukroboronprom State Concern intends to produce M16 assault rifle s under NATO standards in Ukraine in cooperation with U.S. Aeroscraft

January 5, 2016 As reported by the press service of the Ukroboronprom*, such arrangements came out from the Memorandum on Cooperation between the two companies. "M16 automatic assault rifle type will be the first firearm manufactured in Ukraine as part of the pilot project. Production of weapons meeting NATO standards is an important part of the development and reform of Ukraine's defense industry," Ukroboronservice Chief Executive Officer Serhii Mykytiuk said.
In 1964, the select-fire rifle M16 entered American military service and the following year was deployed for jungle warfare operations during the Vietnam War. In 1969, the M16A1 replaced the M14 rifle to become the U.S. military's standard service rifle. The M16A1 improvements include a bolt-assist, chrome plated bore and a new 30-round magazine. In 1983, the USMC adopted the M16A2 rifle and the U.S. Army adopted it in 1986. The M16A2 fires the improved 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge and has a new adjustable rear sight, case deflector, heavy barrel, improved handguard, pistol grip and buttstock, as well as a semi-auto and three-round burst only fire selector. Adopted in 1998, the M16A4 is the fourth generation of the M16 series. It is equipped with a removable carrying handle and Picatinny rail for mounting optics and other ancillary devices. The M16 has also been widely adopted by other militaries around the world. Total worldwide production of M16s has been approximately 8 million, making it the most-produced firearm of its 5.56 mm caliber. The U.S. Army has largely replaced the M16 in combat units with the shorter and lighter M4 carbine, and the U.S. Marine Corps approved a similar change in October 2015.

From top to bottom: M16A1, M16A2, M4A1, M16A4
"I have never encountered the decision to grant a license for the production of weapons abroad was provided by the U.S. government so fast. It took us only three weeks to obtain a license and we are already setting up production of NATO weapons in Ukraine," Aeroscraft founder Igor Pasternak said.
The Memorandum on production was formally signed by both parties on Jan. 3. Ukraine has formally launched NATO weapons production on this day. Taking into account the needs of the Ukrainian army, both standard NATO ammunition and the one available at Ukrainian arms depots will be used in various modifications of the produced rifles that will also be marked under NATO standards.

*Ukroboronprom is an association of multi-product enterprises in various sectors of the defense industry of Ukraine. The concern includes enterprises, which operate in the development, manufacture, sale, repair, modernization and disposal of weapons, military and special equipment and ammunition, and participating in military-technical cooperation with foreign states.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

January 3, 2017 (thedailybeast.com) Senator John McCain met with Ukrainian soldiers in the war-torn east of the country on Saturday, December. 31st along with senators Lindsay Graham and Amy Klobuchar. McCain, who has been outspoken in his criticism of both Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in recent weeks, met with troops in the Ukrainian village of Shyrokyne, one of the towns worst hit by the ongoing conflict with Russia. 

I saw that the cooperation between our countries is essential to ensuring the security of the borders of Ukraine. In 2017, we will defeat the invaders and send them back to where they came from. And I would like to tell Putin that he will never be able to deprive Ukrainians of freedom and independence,” McCain was cited as saying in the Ukrainian press. “Your struggle is our struggle,” he told Ukrainian troops. McCain’s words of support come as many Ukrainians fear Trump will shift all loyalty to Russia and drastically reduce aid to Ukraine, something his team already reportedly signaled it was preparing to do. Both McCain and Graham have pushed for harsher sanctions against Russia in recent days, even as Trump praises Putin for being “very smart.”