Monday, February 25, 2019

US guided-missile destroyer has arrived to Odessa, Ukraine

February 25, 2019 (UNAN) On February 19, the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) entered the Black Sea. On February 25, it has arrived at the port of Odessa. The U.S. Sixth Fleet Command reports that the U.S. Navy’s missile destroyer USS Donald Cook (DD G75) arrived to "conduct maritime security operations and enhance stability in the region."This ship will take part in joint exercises with the NATO allies’ ships. Ukrainian ships will also take part in these exercises. USS Donald Cook last visited the Black Sea in January this year. Odessa welcomed the missile-destroyer ship in September 2015 during the international exercise "Sea Breeze".

USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) is an early type of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that started operating in August 1998. The vessel length is 154 meters, width - 20 meters, and the draft is nine meters. Total displacement is about 9000 tons. On board, it has 90 launchers for the Tomahawk, ASROC and Standard-2 missiles, as well as the Harpoon anti-ship missiles. The guided-missile destroyer ship carries a variety of artillery and anti-aircraft weapons

Sweden summons Russian envoy after Su-27's dangerous maneuver over Baltic Sea

February 24, 2019 (UNIAN) Russia’s ambassador to Sweden has been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to explain why a Russian fighter jet flew within 20 metres off a Swedish aircraft last week. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Diana Qudhaib told SVT that the Russian ambassador will meet with the ministry’s head of European security policy on Monday, The Local reported citing public broadcaster SVT. “The Foreign Ministry views this incident as serious. The Russian plane acted in an improper and unprofessional manner in a way that jeopardized flight safety,” Qudhaib told the broadcaster. Last Tuesday, a Swedish surveillance plane was on a routine mission over the Baltic Sea. While in international air space between Gotland and the Baltics, the Swedish plane was approached by a Russian Su-27 fighter jet which had taken off from Kaliningrad.

The Russian Jet. Photo: Sweden's National Defence Radio Establishment

The Russian fighter jet pilot behaved aggressively, according to the Swedish air force's Colonel Anders Persson “First they passed from the front and they came back and positioned themselves very, very close – closer than usual,” he told news agency TT. Persson said that the Russian Su-27 was at one point within 20 metres of his plane. He said the “offensive behavior” was likely a signal from Russia that it did not believe the Swedish plane “should be where we were”. The Swedish armed forces reported the incident to the government, and now the foreign ministry said it wants answers. “This took place over international waters and the Swedish plane was fully within its right to fly in the area,” Qudhaib said. Swedish Defense Minister Peter Hultqvist called the incident "unacceptable". "This was very unnecessary, provocative and very dangerous," he told SVT.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Victims of Ukraine's deadly revolution remembered five years on

February 21, 2019 (Euronews) Five years on, Ukraine has been remembering those who lost their lives during the country's revolution. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko and EU chief Donald Tusk visited a memorial to commemorate the victims. 

The revolution happened after protesters hit the streets to demonstrate against the government's sudden decision to pull out of signing an association agreement with the European Union. It turned deadly when security forces killed scores of protesters in Kyiv from February 18 to 20, 2014. President Viktor Yanukovych then fled to Russia and a pro-European leadership was installed in the country.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Stieg Larsson's investigation of Swedish PM's assassination revealed in new book

February 14, 20019 (The Guardian) Unseen research by the late Stieg Larsson into the assassination of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme is set to be revealed in a new true crime book. Larsson is most famous for his bestselling Millennium series of thrillers that explored the dark underbelly of Swedish society and politics. A journalist for his much of his life, he died suddenly in 2004, just months after selling his first book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. He left behind completed manuscripts for the two sequels, which have together sold 80m copies around the world. In 2014, it was revealed that, right up to his death, Larsson had been researching the unsolved assassination of Palme, leaving behind 20 boxes of research in his private archive. A populist, leftwing politician, Palme was shot in 1986 after leaving a Stockholm cinema with his wife. The assassin’s identity was never uncovered, but the case made international headlines again in 2014 when it was revealed that Larsson, by then a posthumous bestseller, had once identified a potential suspect to police, although the case was not pursued.

Larsson, who tracked far-right groups in Sweden for years, was targeted by them in turn. He never married his partner of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson, as their address would then be logged publicly, as per Swedish law. However, this led to a bitter legal fight over Larsson’s estate, which was handed to his brother and father over Gabrielsson.
In 2014, Gabrielsson revealed that they had spent most of the year after Palme’s murder attempting to identify the killer together. Amazon’s literature in translation imprint Amazon Crossing, announced it had acquired The Man Who Played With Fire by Jan Stocklassa, translated by Tara F Chace. Stocklassa, who also produced a recent documentary of the same name about Larsson’s research into far-right groups, began to access the latter’s archives in 2014. The book, according Amazon Crossing, contains “new facts about the case and reveals the hitherto unknown research … in a fascinating true crime story”. Senior editor Elizabeth DeNoma said it was “about one of the most gripping unsolved murder mysteries of modern times, investigated by one of the most well-known authors of all time … We can’t wait to share this story with Stieg Larsson’s English-language fans who will be struck by the parallels between the famous author and his famous character, Mikael Blomkvist.” Around 130 people have confessed to the killing of Palme over the last 30 years, with troops of amateur sleuths gaining their own Swedish slang term: privatspanare, or “private scouts”. Various theories, involving Yugoslavian security services and apartheid-era South African agents, have never been proven. The book is set for publication in October.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

World’s largest unfinished aircraft hidden in Ukraine warehouse

 The massive unfinished fuselage towers over everything in the giant warehouse, with its wings and other parts stored nearby.
February 13, 2019 ( On the outskirts of Kiev, somewhere between the city's Nyvky and Sviatoshyn metro stations, sits a drab industrial building that you could drive past a thousand times without guessing it contains an extraordinary secret. Inside can be found the unfinished chapter of one of the greatest feats of Soviet aviation ever conceived. The only clue is the building's size. It's gargantuan. It needs to be. Because it contains something equally vast - the largest airplane that was never completed.

The world's largest incomplete aircraft, the Antonov An-225 lies in pieces in a giant warehouse on the outskirts of Kiev. (Pavlo Fedykovych / CNN)
The aircraft is an Antonov An-225, conceived by Soviet engineers in the dying days of the Cold War as a gigantic, gravity-defying workhorse that would help communism's ongoing race into space and assert the East's dominance of the skies. Only one An-225 was ever built by the Kiev-based Antonov company, which came up with the design. Romantically named Mriya, (Ukranian for dream), it first took flight in 1988 and has been in service ever since, drawing crowds of admirers wherever it spreads its huge wings. Construction was begun on a second plane, a sister for this aerial leviathan. But while Mriya is breaking world records in the skies, her twin still lies in pieces, only able to dream about leaving the ground. The fate of Mriya's hidden sister is a fascinating story about big ambitions and even bigger frustrations caught up in the turbulent history of modern Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Sweden says it built a Russian fighter jet killer — and stealth is totally irrelevant

February 12, 2019 ( Swedish military claims Gripen E fighter aircraft potentially capable of fighting Russia's Sukhoi fighter jets. Business Insiderlooked into what the Swedish air force considers to be a valuable contribution to opposing the cutting-edge Russian aircraft.  The commander of Sweden's air force, Mats Helgesson, recently made the bold statement that his country's Saab Gripen E fighter could beat Russia's formidable fleet of Sukhoi jets with none of the expensive stealth technology the US relies on.
"Gripen, especially the E-model, is designed to kill Sukhois. There we have a black belt," Helgesson told Yle at a presentation in Finland, where Sweden is trying to export the jets. Russia's Sukhoi fighters have achieved a kind of legendary status for their ability to out-maneuver US fighter jets in dogfights and pull off dangerous and aggressive stunts in the air, but Gripen may have cracked the code. The Gripen can't carry the most weapons and has no real stealth. And it isn't the longest-range, the fastest, or even the cheapest jet. But it has a singular focus that makes it a nightmare for Russia's fighter jets.

Saab Gripen-E, Swedish Air Force fighter jet.
The full article is available at

Monday, February 11, 2019

Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland Give $14 Million To UN Aid For Eastern Ukraine

February 11, 2019 (KyivPost) The governments of Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland have announced they will pledge some $14 million over the next three years to a UN project to promote social cohesion and strengthen regional governance in eastern Ukraine. More than 10,300 people have died since fighting erupted in April 2014 in eastern Ukraine between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces. Thousands have been wounded and more than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced. In a press release on February 8 to announce the new initiative, the three states said the “breakdown in trust” in the conflict-hit region “can only be overcome by job creation, poverty alleviation, anti-corruption measures, law enforcement and judicial reform, and the promotion of human rights.”
"The trust of citizens in conflict-affected areas in governmental institutions will improve and they will feel safer if administrative, law enforcement, and security capacity are strengthened, and it becomes easier for them to access justice and environmental protection. This project will help to support these changes,” said Victor Munteanu, the manager of the UN’s Recovery and Peacebuilding Program (RPP).
According to the press release, Denmark has pledged to contribute more than $9 million; Sweden $3 million; Switzerland $2 million. RPP has addressed priority needs in eastern Ukraine since the armed conflict erupted in the spring of 2014 after Russia seized Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. According to the UN, the RPP is aimed at strengthening community security and social cohesion, supporting the economic recovery of conflict-affected communities. It also works to further decentralize and reform the health-care system in government-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The RPP is being implemented by four United Nations agencies and is supported by the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the governments of Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Japan. Its total budget for 2019-2022 is over $50 million.

Two men walk along the main road through the village of Nikishino, Donetsk oblast, eastern Ukraine, on April 21, 2015. Photo by AFP

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Ukraine's parliament backs changes to Constitution confirming Ukraine's path toward EU, NATO

February 10, 2019 (UNIAN) The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has backed amendments to the Constitution on Ukraine's path to the European Union and NATO, according to an UNIAN correspondent. A total of 334 deputies of 385 registered in the session hall have supported the law. As UNIAN reported earlier, the Verkhovna Rada on September 20, 2018 sent to the Constitutional Court a presidential bill amending Ukraine's Constitution regarding the strategic course of the state for obtaining full membership of Ukraine in the EU and NATO (No. 9037). On November 22, 2018, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine green-lighted the bill. The same day, the Verkhovna Rada adopted the bill in its first reading.
The law proposes that Ukraine's irreversible course toward European and Euro-Atlantic integration be stipulated in the preamble of the Fundamental Law along with the confirmation of European identity of the Ukrainian people. Article 85 suggests defining that the powers of the Verkhovna Rada include determining the foundations of domestic and foreign policy, implementing the state's strategic course for obtaining full membership of Ukraine in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Article 102 is supplemented with the provision that "the president of Ukraine is the guarantor of the implementation of the state's strategic course for obtaining Ukraine's full membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization." Read also Ukraine elections one of Central Europe's most serious challenges in decades – Rzeczpospolita Article 116 is amended with a new clause, according to which the Cabinet of Ministers "ensures the implementation of the state's strategic course for obtaining Ukraine's full membership in the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization." At the same time, Clause 14 of Section 15 "Transitional Provisions" is proposed to be excluded from the Constitution. It says that the use of existing military bases on the territory of Ukraine for the temporary stationing of foreign military formations is possible on a lease basis in the manner determined by international treaties of Ukraine ratified by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Ukrainian members of parliament of the Verkhovna Rada, the Supreme Council of Ukraine, vote on a bill in Kyiv on Dec. 6, 2018, to terminate the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership with Russia from April 1, 2019.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

UNIAN: Ukrainians spend almost half of their income on food

February 6, 2019 (UNIAN) The State Statistics Service of Ukraine says Ukrainians spent 44.5 percent of their income to purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages, on average, in the third quarter of 2018 (Q3). One household spent UAH 3,332.29 (US$122) per month for foodstuff.

Man cooks hot wine in food-zone in Sofiyska square at New year celebration on Jan. 1 in Kyiv. Photo by Oleg Petrasiuk