Thursday, January 31, 2019

EU again urges Moscow to release Ukrainian sailors – media

January 31, 2019 (UNIAN) The European Union has again called on Russia to immediately and unconditionally release the 24 Ukrainian Navy sailors seized along with their three naval vessels last year near the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The message was delivered on January 30 by EU envoy to Moscow Markus Ederer to Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko, according to spokeswoman for the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, RFE/RL wrote.
"The Ambassador reiterated the EU's well-known position as regards the continued illegal detention of Ukrainian servicemen by Russia, as elaborated in the Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU, as well as several public statements, including on 17 January," Maja Kocijancic (EU's Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policysaid in a statement. The Ukrainian servicemen have been held since 25 November 2018, when Russia seized three Ukrainian vessels and their crews and fired shots at them, wounding several Ukrainian sailors near the Kerch Strait.
"The European Union expects Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage through the Kerch Strait to and from the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law," the statement said, adding that Russia's use of force was "unacceptable." "We expect Russia to immediately and unconditionally release the 24 captured Ukrainian sailors, to respect their right to legal representation and unhindered access by consular authorities, and to ensure that the injured crewmen receive appropriate medical treatment," it said.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Ukraine's ex-president Viktor Yanukovych found guilty of treason

January 29, 2019  (The Guardian ) A Ukrainian court has found the former president Viktor Yanukovych guilty of treason for his efforts to crush the 2014 pro-western demonstrations that eventually toppled his government. Yanukovych was also charged with asking Vladimir Putin to send Russian troops to invade Ukraine after he had fled the country. The verdict came almost five years after Yanukovych was overthrown, and could serve as an important symbolic conclusion to the events of 2014. More than 100 people were killed, many by sniper fire, on Kiev’s Maidan Square in clashes between protesters and police.

The charges will have little real effect on Yanukovych, 68, who has lived in exile in the Russian city of Rostov since fleeing Ukraine under armed guard nearly five years ago. A panel of three judges in Kiev’s Obolon district court on Thursday sentenced Yanukovych to 13 years in prison. He was found guilty of “a crime against the foundation of Ukraine’s national security”, according to RFE/RL. He was also found guilty of committing “a crime against peace, namely aiding in the conduct of an aggressive war”, the judge, Vladyslav Devyatko, said. Yanukovych’s prison term would begin “the moment he is detained”, Devyatko added.
The events of 2014 presaged some of the most troubling years for Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union. Russia annexed Crimea months after Yanukovych fled, and Moscow has backed separatists fighting in the country’s south-east. Their main city, Donetsk, is a traditional Yanukovych stronghold. Yanukovych was invited to testify by video link in November but failed to appear. His lawyers said he had injured his spine and his knee during a tennis match. Although Yanukovych officially lives in Rostov, he is said to spend time at a luxury residence outside Moscow.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Who were these two Swedish officers?

January 27, 2019 (Poltava Battle Museum)  The Poltava Battle Museum hosted a scientific seminar devoted to the 110th anniversary of the birth of Ivan Pavlovsky, the founder and the first director of the museum. Many papers that were presented at the seminar are dedicated to the different aspect of the battle, but one on my understanding was of a special interest to the museum.

The matter is that among many old books that are preserving in the museum’s archives there is a unique document dated after 1909. This is the first inventory of all exhibits that was executed and then published personally by Ivan Pavlovsky. It was very interesting to get know that some exhibits for the museum that was opened on June 28, 1909 were delivered to Poltava from the National Archives in Stockholm due to the active participation of A.A.Tahm, Swedish General Staff Officer. 
A fragment of the inventory where two Swedish officers, namely Spare and Tamm (Tham) were mentioned.

I have made many attempts to find out who this man was and why he decided to deliver many portraits of Charles XII army’s top commanders to Poltava but in vain. Besides it is well known that Mr. Tahm was accompanied by another officer who bore a last name Sparre and was a far descendant of Axel Sparre. It would be interesting to get know more about these two Swedish officers who made a valuable contribution to the creation of the first Museum of the Battle of Poltava.
Colonel Ivan Pavlovsky, founder of Poltava Battle museum. He got in touch with many Swedish historians, officers and officials while collecting exhibits for the museum.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Things get military historical on Museum Selfie Day in Poltava Battle museum.

January 19, 2019 Museums are very useful for those who are going to learn about history. Just 5-7 years ago many museums in Poltava didn’t allow using cameras. Nowadays many things have been changed significantly. Museum Selfie Day in Poltava Battle museum combines turning to the Great Northern war that was fought between Sweden's Charles XII and a coalition lead by Peter the Great with shooting a lot of funny pics. Museum Selfie Day has already turned into the part of the cultural phenomenon that is known as internet culture.

Those of Poltava children and teenagers who visited Poltava Battle museum enjoyed their time in this very interesting museum and were featured next to famous exhibits with cold steel and firearms in their hands. Without a doubt one of the most popular object for making selfie was a mannequin wearing a uniform of the army of Charles XII that is a present of Svensk Militärhistoriskt Bibliotek (SMB) delivered to the museum by the SMB delegation in 2018. Year by year so-called “Swedish part of museum” is getting bigger due to support of SMB. Obviously, the richer the exposition of the museum, the more it attracts visitors.

If to take into account that it is a real challenge to cultivate love for history in children and teenagers, why don’t we try something like Museum Selfie Day?

Friday, January 18, 2019

President Poroshenko speaks of "Javelin effect" in Donbas

January 18 2019 (UNIAN) According to the President of Ukraine, Javelin guided missiles are able to strike tanks at a sufficient range. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said that, after the Armed Forces of Ukraine received Javelin anti-tank missiles, tank attacks on Ukrainian positions in Donbas by the Russian occupation forces ceased. “I'd like to draw attention to the psychological effect of the provision of Javelins to Ukraine," the president said as he was addressing representatives of businesses and public in Volyn region, according to an UNIAN correspondent.  As soon as the Russian tankers heard that the Ukrainian military, armed with Javelins, could be at this sector of the front, able to 'shoot and forget', Russian tank crews "refused to deploy and shell Ukrainian positions." 

"We're not seeing tank attacks now. This is the effect of only one type of weapon,” the head of state added. As UNIAN reported earlier, at the end of 2017, the Donald Trump Administration decided to sell Ukraine lethal weapons, in particular Javelin anti-tank missile systems. On March 2, 2018, the U.S. State Department approved the sale to Ukraine of 210 Javelin missiles and 37 launchers worth a total of about $47 million. Read also Ukrainian Army about to get powerful Canadian sniper rifles On April 30, the Ukrainian president announced that Javelins had been delivered to Ukraine. On May 22, Ukraine successfully tested the new weapons.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Poltorak: Participants of the NATO HQ meeting talked about Ukraine’s accelerated NATO accession

January 12, 2019 (KyivPost) Ukraine’s Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak has said NATO representatives have changed their positions on Ukraine’s accession to the North Atlantic Alliance, and noted comprehensive assistance received by Ukraine from the bloc.
For more than four years, I have been observing the mood at NATO headquarters with regard to Ukraine. At first, we were not taken too seriously. Subsequently, we did not understand how accession to the bloc could be achieved. But during the last meeting in Brussels everyone talked about the need for our accelerated accession to NATO. We receive help from them in all directions. This was especially noticeable recently – after an act of open aggression by Russia,” he said in an interview with the state-owned Uryadovy Courier.

A picture shows President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko during the meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels, on Dec. 13, 2018.

Poltorak said he has met Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson five times over the last six months. He said the number of tasks Ukraine must achieve before becoming a NATO member is large.
In the coming year, we need to complete the reform of the Ministry of Defense and the military authorities. This is one of the most difficult reforms – we must be very careful here so as not to disrupt the command and control. And the changes are gradually being implemented. Recently, we spoke about the need to directly purchase the weapons and equipment we needed abroad. …Everything we buy in the interests of Ukraine’s Armed Forces meets the standards of NATO,” he said.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Ukrainian snipers are about to get this powerful new upgrade courtesy of Canada

January 8, 2019 ( Ukraine's Ground Forces (army) will soon be on the receiving end of a massive shipment of sniper rifles from Canada. PGW Defence Technologies, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, has been contracted to supply Ukrainian snipers with anti-material rifles in deal valued at over USD $770,000. The rifle in question is none other than PGW's flagship heavy-caliber rifle, the LRT-3 Sniper Weapon System. Produced in Canada since 2005, this gun is chambered for the popular .50 BMG round, easily capable of disabling light vehicles and punching though armor with deadly effect. Coming with an optionally-suppressed 29 inch stainless steel barrel and clocking in at just a shade over 25 lbs unloaded, the LRT-3 looks every bit the part of a heavy-caliber ranged gun. It boasts a max effective range of around 1800 meters (1.1 miles), comparable to the American Barrett M107 rifle which is also on its way to the Ukrainian army as part of a separate deal. While PGW has mostly flown under the radar over the past decade, it is no stranger to the arms game.

The company maintains contracts with the Canadian Forces to produce the .338 LM C14 Timberwolf rifle, and has supplied other foreign clients such as the Royal Saudi Land Force, and the UAE Armed Forces. In the wake of extreme tensions and armed conflict with Russia, the Ukrainian government has made overtures towards NATO, signaling their intent to eventually become a member nation. Buying over $770,000 worth of .50 caliber sniper rifles is yet another step in that direction, which will likely see the Ukrainian military adopt a number of small arms (and ammunition) in common standardized usage with NATO forces, including the 5.56x45 and 7.62x51 mm NATO rounds. In fact, the arsenals of the former Soviet satellite republic, which are still hugely populated with old-school Warsaw Pact guns like the AKM, the AK-74 and the Makarov PM, have gradually seen an influx of weapons chambered for NATO standard calibers, such  as the bullpup Tavor assault rifle, and the Zbroyar Z-10 designated marksman rifle, a locally-produced AR-10 derivative which shoots 7.62 NATO.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Ukraine Orthodox Church granted independence from Russian Church

January 5, 2019 (BBC Europe) The recently formed Orthodox Church of Ukraine has been granted independence, marking a historic split from the Russian Church. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew - the head of the global Orthodox Church - has signed a document in Istanbul, Turkey, to that effect. It formalises an October announcement.

The move has provoked a furious response in Russia, where the Church has broken off links, deepening a split in the worldwide Orthodox Church. Ukraine's churches have for centuries been under the authority of the leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. The decision may also lead to a lasting schism in the global Orthodox movement, says the BBC's Jonah Fisher in Kiev, Ukraine.

Ukraine conflict: Russia completes Crimea security fence

January 5, 2019 (BBC Europe) Russia has finished building a high-tech security fence along annexed Crimea's border with mainland Ukraine. The fence, more than 60km (37 miles) long, is topped with barbed wire and has hundreds of sensors. Russian forces annexed Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in March 2014 - a move condemned internationally. Crimea has a Russian-speaking majority.

Russia's FSB security agency says the fence is necessary to prevent "infiltration attempts by saboteurs". An FSB statement, quoted by Russia's RIA Novosti news agency, said the fence would also thwart smugglers trading in illegal weapons, drugs, alcohol and other contraband. The fence spans the neck of land connecting Crimea with Ukraine's Kherson region. Most of its sensors pick up vibrations from any potential intruders, the FSB said, but some are also radio-location devices. Russia has similar equipment along its northern and eastern borders.