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Ukraine crisis. News in brief. Thursday 20 April [Ukrainian sources]

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:42 am
FRIDAY

Please scroll to view news items added during the day.

NEWS:
Putin has no plans to annex or recognize Donbas, but to separate it from Ukraine.  Kremlin continues preparations to full-scale war. Russian troops able to invade Ukraine in two-three hours  NATO, British, Swedish aircraft conducted aerial reconnaissance of Russia’s Kaliningrad oblast.  Putin's rubber-stamp think tank involved in effort to interfere with US presidential election. Medvedev: US fights Syrian government, not ISIS. United Kingdom from Brexit lose more than the European Union.

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Putin has no plans to annex or recognize Donbas, but to separate it from Ukraine

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:46 am
Putin has no plans to annex or recognize Donbas, but to separate it from Ukraine

President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin is using on mixed signals from the U.S. to quietly tighten Russia’s grip on two rebel regions of Ukraine, burying hopes for a European-brokered peace deal and relief from sanctions anytime soon.

Censor.NET reports Bloomberg.

While the Kremlin continues to publicly back the accord that Germany and France oversaw in 2015, Putin's real strategy in Ukraine is to fully separate the two border areas known as the Donbas through incremental integration with Russia, three people close to the leadership in Moscow said. He has no plans to recognize or annex the territories, they said.

Russia has been moving gradually, using a blockade by Ukrainian activists as political cover to take over key economic links with the separatist zones. Last week, Russian Railways slashed rates for shipping coal and iron ore to points near the rebel areas, where the metals industry provides most jobs. That will allow Russia to replace Ukrainian supplies halted by Kiev and ensure that steel plants continue to function, according to two people in the industry.

"A step has been taken toward detaching Donbas -- there's no doubt about that," a senior lawmaker in the ruling United Russia party, Konstantin Zatulin, said by phone from Moscow. Like other officials, Zatulin blamed Ukraine for forcing Moscow's hand through the blockade, an allegation Kyiv rejects.

Zatulin's assessment of the Kremlin's plans was confirmed by Alexei Chesnakov, a former Kremlin staffer who now advises Putin's administration on Ukraine policy, and a senior government official who asked not to be identified.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov Thursday dismissed the idea that Russia is integrating the regions, calling it "absurd" and "naive" on a conference call with reporters.

Moscow is implementing the so-called "Transnistria scenario," according to the deputy head of Poroshenko's administration, Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, referring to the breakaway region in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, which hosts Russian troops but has no citizenship agreements with Russia.

Putin's strategy involves developing levers that can be used to strengthen the Kremlin's control over the Donbas on short notice, two Western diplomats in Moscow said, an assessment confirmed by former Russian officials.

Retaliatory measures "are always ready," said Chesnakov, the Kremlin adviser on Ukraine. "Every time Ukraine gives us an excuse they are implemented."

ua.censor.net.ua , Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові


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Kremlin continues preparations to full-scale war. Russian troops able to invade Ukraine in two-three hours, - NSDC Secretary Turchynov

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:48 am
Kremlin continues preparations to full-scale war. Russian troops able to invade Ukraine in two-three hours, - NSDC Secretary Turchynov

The units of the Russian army that are deployed next to the state border are able to invade Ukraine in two-three hours.

This was announced by NSDC Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov at the opening ceremony for Strategic Leadership: Security and Defense Sector of Ukraine program, Censor.NET reports citing 112 Ukraine.

"In case Moscow decides to enlarge the scale of its armed aggression against Ukraine, the 1st and 2nd army corps will launch an offensive after being regrouped and reinforced with Russia's regular troops. The Russian units that are deployed next to the state border are able to invade our country in two-three hours. Russian military industrial complexes are also preparing to the war," Turchynov said.

"The Kremlin continues preparations to a full-scale war that is now a threat not only to Ukraine but also to other countries of Central and Eastern Europe," the NSDC secretary said.

Earlier, InfoResist chief and MP Dmytro Tymchuk said that from the military point of view, Mariupol direction is the most probable area of the Russian offensive.

ua.censor.net.ua, Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові


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NATO, British, Swedish aircraft conducted aerial reconnaissance of Russia’s Kaliningrad region

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:51 am
NATO, British, Swedish aircraft conducted aerial reconnaissance of Russia’s Kaliningrad region

The reconnaissance aircraft of the Royal Air Force, NATO and Sweden carried out reconnaissance mission at the Russian border in the south of the Baltic Sea on Wednesday, April 19.

Censor.NET reports citing Interfax news agency referring to the data of western sites monitoring the movement of military aviation.

A multi-hour reconnaissance off the coast of the Kaliningrad oblast was carried out by the RAF RC-135W aircraft with the tail number ZZ665 and the call sign RRR7230 which took off from the British Waddington airbase.

The NATO's E-3A airborne early warning and control aircraft (AWACS) with the tail number LX-N90455 and the call sign NATO06 took off from the NATO airbase Geilenkirchen in Germany. The flight was carried out in Poland's airspace to the south-west of the Kaliningrad oblast and was aimed to conduct surveillance of the Russian territory.

Prior to that, the Swedish Air Force Gulfstream 4 reconnaissance aircraft with tail number 102002 and the call sign SVF622 approached the Kaliningrad oblast from the Baltic Sea. It took off from the Malmen Air Base situated near the town of Linköping.

ua.censor.net.ua, Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові


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Putin's rubber-stamp think tank involved in effort to interfere with US presidential election

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:54 am
Putin's rubber-stamp think tank involved in effort to interfere with US presidential election

Several U.S. officials claim a Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump.

As reported by Censor.NET, three current and four former U.S. officials also told Reuters that the plan was designed to undermine voters' faith in the American electoral system.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, after the election.

"Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map," said one of the sources, a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin's office.

The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials told Reuters.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system's legitimacy and damage Clinton's reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the officials said.

Five of the U.S. officials described the institute as the Kremlin's in-house foreign policy think tank.

The current and former U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the Russian documents' classified status. They declined to discuss how the United States obtained them. U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them.

Four of the officials said the approach outlined in the June strategy paper was a broadening of an effort the Putin administration launched in March 2016. That month the Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including international platforms Russia Today and Sputnik news agency, to start producing positive reports on Trump's quest for the U.S. presidency, the officials said.

Neither of the Russian institute documents mentioned the release of hacked Democratic Party emails to interfere with the U.S. election, according to four of the officials. The officials said the hacking was a covert intelligence operation run separately out of the Kremlin.

The overt propaganda and covert hacking efforts reinforced each other, according to the officials. Both Russia Today and Sputnik heavily promoted the release of the hacked Democratic Party emails, which often contained embarrassing details.

censor.net.ua , Original in Russian / На русском


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Medvedev: US fights Syrian government, not ISIS

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:56 am
Medvedev: US fights Syrian government, not ISIS

The recent U.S. cruise missile strike on a Syrian government airfield is an act of military aggression.

Censor.NET reports citing TASS quoting Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

"The recent developments in Syria, including the U.S. military attack, hamper the settlement of the situation," he said.

According to the Russian premier, the American side, contrary to the pre-election calls, has launched an offensive against the Syrian government rather than terrorists.

"Further escalation of violence will only lead to the dismantling of the Syrian state, its fragmentation and at least a partial victory of terrorists, and this is definitely at odds with our plans," he said.

As for the situation with the chemical incident in the Syrian province of Idlib, according to Medvedev, this was a "well thought-out provocation" that bore fruit, including, perhaps, to the U.S. administration.

"We have to do our best to ensure that the commission conducts an investigation and that the government of Assad is not immediately stigmatized; draw some conclusions, create a basis for further aggressive actions," the head of the Russian government said.

ua.censor.net.ua , Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові


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Fillon made a new statement on Crimea:

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:19 am
Fillon made a new statement on Crimea:

Crimea is historically Russian territory, but Ukraine should not count on his return. This was stated by presidential candidate of the center-right French party "Republicans" Francois Fillon in an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, sends "Yevropravda" .

According to him, Ukraine will never return the peninsula. "It is useless to insist that Russia went to the Crimea, this will never happen" - he said.

Moreover, Fillon said that Crimea - "historically, culturally and linguistically Russian territory," and the only way out of the crisis - the organization of an international conference on the future of Crimea under UN auspices.

This French politician said that in a situation of occupation of the peninsula should not forget the right of peoples to self-determination. "We must respect two fundamental and conflicting principle: respect for borders and international law and the right to self-determination" - said Fillon.

Online reminded the French policy of inadmissibility view borders on an example of territory, ownership of which has repeatedly fought France and Germany.

Earlier, the American political scientist and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said the "only possible" scenario return of the Crimea .

apostrophe.ua , Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові


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Putin’s spokesperson slams reports on plan to join occupied Donbas to Russia, calls them naive

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:38 pm
Putin’s spokesperson slams reports on plan to join occupied Donbas to Russia, calls them naive

Spokesperson for the Russian president Dmitry Peskov claims that Moscow is not trying to integrate the breakaway “Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics” into Russia.

As reported by Censor.NET citing Russian TASS news agency, Peskov said commenting on the article by Bloomberg about the Kremlin's plan stipulating Donbas separation from Ukraine.

"The question itself is absurd. For many years now both President Putin and Russian representatives at various levels have reiterated that Moscow does not try to integrate the breakaway republics of the Donbas - 'DPR' and 'LPR' - into the Russian Federation. Therefore such articles are some naive and low-level pieces of news," Peskov stressed.

Asked if the Kremlin had some plan, Peskov said: "The only plan is to achieve implementation of the Minsk agreements."

Putin's press secretary also said that "Russia and its partners in the Normandy format negotiations held were trying to exert every possible influence to make Kyiv find a way out of the situation that developed after the civil war and a coup d'état three years ago."

Peskov also stressed that the 'DPR' and 'LPR' was Ukraine's domestic issue.

ua.censor.net.ua, Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові


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Russian Major Bordov eliminated in Syria

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:47 pm
Russian Major Bordov eliminated in Syria

A major in Russia's marines has been killed in combat in Syria.

Censor.NET reports citing Reuters quoting Vyacheslav Pavlyuchenko, who served with Bordov.

"They were caught in shell fire. Two of our Russian servicemen and two Syrian soldiers died," Pavlyuchenko said.

He said the shelling incident had happened on Tuesday and that he did not know the names of the other fatalities.

Bordov is one of the most high ranking Russian officers to be killed in Syria. He was in command of a reconnaissance company two years ago, Pavlyuchenko said.

According to him, Bordov's body is expected to be delivered to his military unit in the Crimean town of Sevastopol on Friday and he is expected to be buried in his hometown of Simferopol on Saturday.

ua.censor.net.ua, Original in Ukrainian / на українській мові


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Russia's Supreme Court has called "Jehovah's Witnesses" extremist and banned their activities in the country

on Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:51 pm
Russia's Supreme Court has called "Jehovah's Witnesses" extremist and banned their activities in the country

The Supreme Court of Russia declared "Jehovah's Witnesses" extremist organization, liquidated and banned its activities in the country.

As the Tsenzor.NET , reported by TASS .

The court also pointed estate organization in the state.

Thus it was satisfied the claim of the Justice Ministry of Russia.

In the organization said they would appeal the decision.

Earlier, the Ministry of Justice requested the forfeiture of property Russian umbrella organization "Jehovah's Witnesses" and has suspended its work due to extremist activities.

censor.net.ua , Original in Russian / На русском


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