Friday, October 30, 2020

The history of Poltava is getting more and more expensive

 While writing a book about the German occupation of Poltava in 1941 - 1943 I ran into a curious problem related to finding graphic material for the book. Some of the photographs that are reserving in the German archives are being offered by the Getty Images campaign at cosmic prices. An example is a photograph of Adolf Hitler taken during the briefing at the headquarters of Army Group South at Poltava on 1 June 1942. Pay attention to the price shown on the right side of the photo.

Monday, October 26, 2020

Fly of a Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers over the Poltava Battle field

 The rare photo below depicts a takeoff of two Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers (NATO reporting name: Backfire) from the military airfield in Poltava. An unknown photographer caught the moment when the bombers had just taken off from the airbase and were flying over the St. Sampsoniy Church on the field of the Battle of Poltava.

From 1945, the Poltava airbase was used by the 13th Heavy Bomber Aviation Division of Soviet Long-Range Aviation. From 1991 to 1992 the Soviet Air Force was superseded in Ukraine by the Ukrainian Air Force, which eventually deployed the Tu-22M3 heavy bombers and cruise missiles X-22 with the 185th Guards Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment before this unit was finally disbanded in 2006.

An excavator cuts through the tail of a Tupolev Tu-22M3 heavy bomber at Poltava airbase.
The photo was taken in November 2002

Ukraine has destroyed decommissioned Tu-22M heavy bombers and air-to-ground cruise missiles of the X-22 class in order to meet its obligations under the 1993 agreement with the United States on strategic nuclear disarmament. 

                                           Separation of a Tupolev Tu-22M3 heavy bomber's nose

According to the agreement thirty-one Tu-22M bombers and 225 cruise missiles X-22 were scrapped in Ukraine by the end of 2004 in keeping with the U.S.-financed disarmament program.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

New exhibition hall "On the Scales of Time" has been presented recently in the Poltava Battle Museum

An online presentation of the new exhibition hall "On the Scales of Time" has taken place in the Poltava Battle Museum on October 13, 2020. For Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine, the Battle of Poltava had diametrically opposite consequences, and thus each nation formed a different point of view and time understanding of this determining event. The design of the hall was created by the scientists of the museum during 2019-2020. Visitors to the museum will be able to get acquainted with the main stages of comprehension of this important historical event in Russia, Sweden, and Ukraine. In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, only museum staff and representatives of the Poltava City Council attended the presentation.

Friday, October 9, 2020

The MiG 23 That Flew For 900km Without Pilot Then Crashed in A Farm Killing a Boy

 October 9, 2020 ( The cold war is littered with near ‘nuclear apocalypse’ misses, technological and aviation advancement and a fair number of peculiar incidents. One such bizarre event occurred when it was least expected; right near the end of the cold war. July. 4 1989, Independence day for the Americans, was not an especially exciting day for the 32nd TFS (Tactical Fighter Squadron) also known as ‘Wolfhounds’ then based in Soesterberg, Netherlands.

A MiG 23, in flight with pilot (Wikipedia / Public Domain)

When two very competitive pilots J.D Martin and Bill Murphy were scrambled, they were not expecting that their independence day flights would be to intercept and possibly engage a very strange Soviet MiG. On the same day, Soviet Pilot Nikolai Skurigin prepared his MiG-23M for a routine training flight. When Skurigin’s MiG took off from Kolobzreg, Poland, the pilot had no clue what was about to happen to his aircraft. Soon after taking off, Skurigin realized that MiG’s engine had a major failure and that aircraft was going to crash in few seconds, so he did what every pilot is trained to do in such situations, he abandoned the aircraft and ejected. 

The crash site as seen from above

While descending in his parachute, Skurigin realized that something peculiar had taken place; his MiG was actually gaining height instead of losing it and worse, it was heading straight towards NATO airspace. On the other side, JD and Murphy after being sent to intercept a Russian plane that had invaded their air space, had problems of their own; they were having some major communication issues with Ground Control Intercept. Despite these difficulties, the two pilots got closer to the ‘rogue’ aircraft and discovered that not only the MiG was unarmed it was also unmanned. This posed another challenge to the pilots and ground control since the aircraft was now considered not an immediate threat. US Air Force pilots in their F-15s escorted the Soviet MiG until it reached the 39,000ft mark, after that aircraft started descending possibly due to low fuel levels. When the aircraft started descending, pilots with the help from the ground predicted that it would land somewhere near Lille, on the border of Belgium and France. Later on, the calculation showed that it would rather crash in an empty field inside Belgium, and was coded as ‘non-risky’. 

What was left of the MIG

But the calculations could not predict what actually happened when Soviet MiG crashed in a farm killing an 18-year-old boy. Clearly an avoidable causality on the part of both Soviets and Americans, both nations showed genuine regret on the outcome of the incident. When Colonel Skurigin discovered about the death of the Belgian boy by his MiG, he publicly showed regret for his decision to eject out of the aircraft. The Belgian government made a formal protest to the Soviet Union regarding the lack of notification as to the danger the aircraft posed to the civilian population. Belgian Foreign Minister Mark Eyskens expressed concern that “from the time the MiG-23 was first picked up on NATO radar to the time it crashed more than an hour later, no word of warning came from the Soviet side,” and that “there was also a ‘notable slowness’ on the part of the Soviets in disclosing whether the jet was carrying nuclear or toxic weapons.”  The USSR paid $685,000 in compensation to Belgium.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Without firing a shot: The United States made an unexpected offer to President Zelensky regarding the de-occupation of Donbas

October 7, 2020 ( The United States offered the Ukrainian government a solution to the problem of de-occupation of territories in the east of the country. The American research center Atlantic Council came up with a proposal to completely end all economic ties with the occupied regions of Donbas. First of all, analysts from the United States insist on cutting off the supply of water, electricity, and other resources. In addition, it is recommended to establish a complete social and economic blockade of the uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The main purpose of such actions - to complicate the life of the inhabitants of the illegal republics as much as possible and bring the humanitarian situation to a critical point. The Atlantic Council experts believe that the economic blockade will allow the return of the occupied territories. The restriction and complete cessation of the flow of monetary funds will cause a negative attitude of local residents towards the leadership of the self-proclaimed republics.