Monday, December 17, 2018

Russia to deploy warplanes to Crimea amid Ukraine standoff


December 17, 2018 (Deutsche Welle) The Russian Defense Ministry on Monday said it would "return" more than 10 warplanes to Crimea, according to Russian news agency Interfax. The ministry said fighter jets, including Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-30's, will be sent to the annexed Ukrainian territory as part of a "permanent deployment." They are expected to arrive by Saturday. The announcement comes after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed in an interview that Ukraine was preparing an "armed provocation with Russia on the border with Crimea during the last ten days of December."

Russia's SU-27 fight jet is one of the types of warplanes headed to Crimea
In comments carried by the state-run TASS news agency, Lavrov said Moscow would not allow the Ukrainian government to act on those plans, saying "they will regret it." But he also said that Russia "will not wage war against Ukraine." "We are not fighting the Ukrainian regime," Lavrov said. "It is Ukrainian citizens living in Donbass who are fighting against the Ukrainian regime, which has full Nazi and neo-Nazi characteristics." Last month, Russian warships captured three Ukrainian naval vessels as they crossed through the strategic Kerch Strait, detaining 24 sailors on board. Russian authorities accused the Ukrainian vessels of military provocations.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Japanese payment system JCB wants to enter Ukraine, challenge Visa, Mastercard


December 13, 20118 (Kyiv Post) The largest Japanese credit card brand, Japan Credit Bureau, or simply JCB, wants to start working with local banks to compete against Visa and Mastercard to provide cashless transactions in Ukraine.
According to Ukraine’s National Bank, Takashi Suetsugu, chief executive at JCB’s international branch, promised on Nov. 5 to submit to the central bank all the needed documents to launch the company’s operations in Ukraine. Suetsugu didn’t specify the exact date, but he said it would happen soon. NBU head Yakiv Smoly, in turn, said he supported JCB’s plans. Smoly believes a new player could increase competition on the Ukrainian market of financial services, which is currently dominated by Visa and Mastercard. In the first six months of 2018, these two carried out 1.5 billion cashless transactions worth $21 billion.

A person hands over a typical credit card issued by Japan Credit Bureau, or JCB, the biggest Japanese credit card brand with over 117 million users around the globe.
JCB has 117 million users (90 million of them in Japan) and is the fifth biggest payment systems in the world in terms of numbers of credit cards issued and the value of transactions processed. In 2017, JCB processed operations worth $280 billion. Accepted in over 190 countries and territories, the company also issues cards itself in 23 countries, including China, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Singapore. In 2018, the company announced its partnership with Russia’s Sberbank. In the United States, the company works in a partnership with the Discover Network, another credit card brand. An average JCB user spends $250 per transaction. The JCB’s net revenue from March 2017 to March 2018 was $2.7 billion, and its net income — $232 million, the company reported in March 2018.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Defense Blog: Satellite imagery shows hundreds of Russian tanks near Ukraine border


December 10, 2018 (Defense Blog) Satellite imagery from Google Earth taken in November shows hundreds of Russian main battle tanks at a new military base on the outskirts of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky in Russia's Rostov Oblast. "Images show hundreds of main battle tanks like as T-64 and also T-62M, while a thousand military trucks, artillery systems and tankers are located slightly higher," Defense Blog said. The large-scale military base only 18 kilometers away from the border with eastern Ukraine's Russian-occupied territory. Civil volunteer, Donbas war veteran, head of the Mir & Co charity fund Myroslav Hai gave the exact coordinates of the base on Google Maps. "Those who do not believe that the Russian Federation has been massing tanks near our border could use Google Maps for assistance. Open Google Maps and enter the coordinates: 48.271754, 40.262984. Switch Google Maps to the Satellite view and see it by yourself.

This is just one of those bases near our border. Reuters earlier quoted Chief of the General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces Gen. Viktor Muzhenko as saying that Russia had been ramping up its forces near the border with Ukraine since August 2018, posing the greatest military threat since 2014. Muzhenko gestured to a series of satellite images, which he said showed the presence of Russian T-62 M tanks stationed 18 km (11 miles) from the Ukrainian border.

They had more than doubled to 250 from 93 machines within the space of two weeks from mid-September to October 1

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Parliament of Ukraine terminates treaty on friendship with Russia


December 6, 2018 (UKRINFORM) The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has passed the Law of Ukraine “On Termination of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.” As an Ukrinform correspondent reports, 277 lawmakers voted in favor of the adoption of this law. The law stipulates that the treaty on friendship with the Russian Federation will be terminated on April 1, 2019. The termination of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, given the fact that Russia has been violating it substantially and continuously and in accordance with Article 40 of this Treaty, is expected to facilitate proper and effective protection of the national interests of Ukraine in the international relations.

The approval of the draft law pursuant to Article 24 of the Law of Ukraine “On International Treaties of Ukraine” will allow completing the internal procedures required for the termination of the treaty due to the completion of the next ten-year period on March 31, 2019. As reported, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko tabled in the Verkhovna Rada a draft law on the termination of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. The respective bill was registered under No. 0206 on December 3. On September 17, President Petro Poroshenko enacted the decision of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council of September 6, 2018 to terminate the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and Russia. The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine was expected to inform Russia by September 30 about the termination of the May 31, 1997 Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Ukraine resumes grain shipments from Azov Sea


December 5, 2018 KIEV (Reuters) Ukraine said on Tuesday it had resumed grain shipments from the Azov Sea, blocked for around 10 days after a military standoff with Russia in the Kerch Strait off Crimea. Russia seized three Ukrainian naval ships and their crews on Nov. 25 after opening fire on them, accusing them of illegally entering its territorial waters.

Ukraine denied its ships had done anything wrong and accused Russia of military aggression. Its president, Petro Poroshenko, imposed martial law on Nov. 26 in parts of the country deemed most vulnerable to Russian attack. “The passage of vessels with agricultural products through ports in the Azov Sea has been unlocked,” Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said on Tuesday in a statement.
The loading of grain to vessels through the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk is restored and carried out in regular mode,” it said. Earlier, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister Volodymyr Omelyan had said the two ports - vital for eastern Ukraine’s economy - had been “partially unlocked” with the restoration of some free movement through the Kerch Strait.
Germany welcomed the news but also repeated its call for Russia to release the 24 Ukrainian sailors who are facing charges of illegally entering Russian waters. “We will try to ensure that this conflict does not result in a serious crisis,” German Foreign minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers also attended by officials from Ukraine and Georgia. Germany wants to de-escalate the situation and work toward a political solution, he said, adding there would be further discussions on the issue this week but gave no details. German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the Azov Sea standoff with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina.