- Crimean parliament votes to secede from Ukraine
- Obama tells Putin: sanctions for ‘violation of sovereignty’
- German chancellor Angela Merkel: ‘We’re ready to act’
The United States and the European Union on Thursday unveiled sanctions to punish Russia for occupying Crimea, imposing visa restrictions on individuals and sharpening rhetoric in what has rapidly degenerated into the worst east-west crisis since the end of the cold war.
In their first concrete response to Russia’s move to wrest the Black Sea peninsula from Ukraine, Washington and Brussels also warned of further sanctions, such as asset seizures, if Moscow does not relent in the stand-off. Continue reading
KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) – As the Crimean crisis escalates, the German Navy is dispatching one of its spy ships to the Mediterranean. The “Alster,” which had already been carrying out espionage on the Syrian war zone, is reported to have sailed from its homeport. Whether it will pursue a route through the Mediterranean to the Black Sea remains the Bundeswehr’s secret. With the Crimean conflict, the power struggle over the Ukraine is involving an area of utmost geostrategic importance to Moscow. The Russian Black Sea Fleet is stationed on the Crimean Peninsula, which is considered “Russia’s diving board into the Mediterranean,” where Russia has increased activities since 2013, seeking to counterbalance the USA. It is already being speculated, that the pro-western putschist government could annul the accord on stationing the Black Sea Fleet, thereby depriving Russia of this strategic position. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Moscow has had to watch how NATO has expanded its position in the Black Sea – with Bundeswehr participation and at the expense of Russia. Crimea’s geostrategic importance explains why Germany – unlike in the case, for example, of Yugoslavia – is trying to prevent the peninsula’s secession and a rapprochement with Russia by all means. Continue reading
With tensions in Ukraine nearing a breaking point, the world is collectively looking to the Western powers for resolution. But, not surprisingly, the response so far has consisted of little more than a wag of the finger, with NATO and other world leaders unanimously condemning Russia’s military action in the Crimea.
While the reasons for this muted response are manifold, it’s difficult to ignore the leverage the Russians hold in this standoff. For starters, the U.S. and other Western powers have little to gain from bringing the Crimean conflict to a head; Russia, on the other hand, greatly benefits from controlling the region, with its strategic access to the Black Sea and concentration of Russian-speaking peoples. Continue reading
BERLIN/ANKARA (Own report) – The German government has sought to reach new agreements on strategies involving Syria and Ukraine in several meetings with the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Turkey. Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minster Steinmeier met with Prime Minister Erdoğan yesterday. Steinmeier had already received his counterpart Davutoğlu at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday. Because of rivalry with Moscow over influence on Kiev, one of the topics of discussion in Berlin is Ankara’s possible “financial contributions” to the Ukraine. Turkey is holding talks with Iran on the war in Syria, obviously designed to complement the “P5+1″ negotiations with Iran – which include Germany. Ankara is also intensifying its cooperation with the autonomous government of Kurdish Northern Iraq. Should Syria disintegrate, it could expedite the territorial reorganization of the region, particularly of the Kurdish speaking territories. To secure its influence on Turkey’s foreign policy, Berlin had initiated a “strategic dialogue” with Ankara last year, which should now be put to the test in relationship to the Ukraine and Syria. Continue reading
MOSCOW, November 3 (RIA Novosti) – Turkey scrambled four F-16 fighter jets on Sunday to intercept Russian Il-20 reconnaissance warplanes flying along the country’s Black Sea coast, news agency PzFeed reported. Continue reading
Russia has applied more and more pressure on its former satellites to join its proposed Eurasian Union. Lithuania, which is keen to forge new ties with the EU, is also coming under increasing powerful pressure.
Russian customs-bullying of Lithuania is part of a bigger power struggle. The Kremlin is geared itself towards obstructing the European Union’s Eastern Partnership policy and forcing Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia to forsake any attempt to get close to Europe, instead seeking to push these countries back under Moscow’s rule via the so-called Eurasian (customs) Union. Continue reading
OKTYABRSK PORT, Ukraine — On Jan. 5, the Ocean Fortune, a 380-foot-long workhorse of the global arms trade, left this Black Sea port with unknown cargo concealed in its cavernous hold. The ship steamed south, slipped through the Bosporus Strait and turned toward the eastern Mediterranean. Then it disappeared.
The ship’s transponder, which normally sends automated signals to other vessels and harbor masters along busy sea lanes, went mysteriously silent Jan. 9, just as it was rounding Turkey headed toward open waters, maritime records show. Not a trace of the ship was seen for two months, until it surfaced in the southeastern Mediterranean in mid-March.
The ship’s apparent vanishing act repeated a pattern seen by other freighters embarking from the same Black Sea port — a known point of origin for weapons shipments — over the past year. Recently, such behavior has begun drawing the attention of investigators tracking the flow of arms and supplies to the combatants in Syria’s 21 / 2-year-old uprising. Continue reading
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Amman this week to inaugurate the Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan manned by 273 US officers. US media correspondents were permitted to visit the new war room for the first time on condition of non-disclosure of its location and secret facilities.
DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the installation is bomb- and missile-proof against a possible Syrian attack. The US Air Force command section is in direct communication with the US, Israeli, Jordanian and Saudi Air Force headquarters ready for an order by President Barack Obama to impose a partial no-fly zone over Syrian air space. Continue reading
In 1998, Zbigniew Brzezinski argued that “a power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world’s three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would entail Africa’s subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania geopolitically peripheral to the world’s central continent”. His book The Grand Chessboard was indeed a major contribution to geopolitical studies. Depicting the new challenges for US foreign policy in a multipolar world, Brzezinski identifies the geopolitical Achilles’ heel of the 21st century in the area he designated as the Global Balkans, i.e. “the swathe of Eurasia between Europe and the Far East.” Continue reading
What was not known was that at the same time, the Russian Navy vessel CCB-201 – one of the Russian Navy’s largest intelligence vessels – was present in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The CCB-201 is no ordinary intelligence vessel, but rather a naval intelligence gathering unit which is similar in its characteristics to Israel’s Unit 8200 – a SIGINT collection and decryption unit capable of intercepting and listening to military transmissions between naval vessels and aircraft in the Mediterranean Sea.
From past experience, it appears that the purpose of the visit to the area is for gathering intelligence on NATO and US force activities, as well as Israel’s readiness with regards to the situation in Syria – where Russia has military interests and assets, and thus is concerned of military intervention. Continue reading
President Vladimir Putin ordered the launch of large-scale Russian military exercises in the Black Sea region on Thursday, his spokesman said, in a move that may create tensions with Russia’s post-Soviet neighbors Ukraine and Georgia.
Putin issued the order to start the previously unannounced maneuvers at 4 a.m. Moscow time (12.00 a.m. EDT) as he flew back from an international summit in South Africa, his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters by telephone. Continue reading
Russia has been a close ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and has strategic and economic interests in the country.
The Defense Ministry said the landing ships Kaliningrad and Alexander Shabalin are en route to the region from the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. Two other big landing ships, the Saratov and the Azov, are scheduled to join them by the end of February. Continue reading