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.