Russia starts reinforcing naval fleet in Crimea

Sevastopol (AFP) – Russia announced Wednesday that it had begun expanding and modernising its Black Sea fleet based in Crimea with new ships and submarines, just months after annexing the peninsula from Ukraine.

“Today we have started forming a powerful Black Sea fleet with an absolutely different level of air service, coastal missile and artillery troops and marines,” said Alexander Vitko, the Black Sea fleet commander, in a message to servicemen. Continue reading

West pulls punches on sanctions for Russia over Crimea. EU whittles down list of targets

Both the US and European Union held back Monday, March 17, from harshly punishing Russia for going through with the Crimean referendum, which overwhelmingly approved union with Russia. The US imposed travel bans and froze the assets of seven top Russians and three Ukrainians, while the European foreign ministers in Brussels listed 21 mostly unnamed targets for those same sanctions for a period of six months.

President Barack Obama warned Moscow not to go any further but rather to engage in dialogue for resolving the Ukraine crisis diplomatically. Continue reading

Russia issues ultimatum to Ukraine: Surrender or face military assault

Calling Obama’s bluff and showing how incapable both America and Europe all in one step. The repercussions for this are likely nothing as they will have a limited or no effect. Obama can do nothing but continue to make hollow threats of ‘economic sanctions’. Russia does not care, nor do they think the same, as they are awash in oil and gas export profits.

At this moment, war looks like a 95% chance if the interim leader of Ukraine sticks to his word. The other 5% chance is betting on Ukrainian leaders defecting like the previous head of the navy.

Put on your seat belts, we’re in uncharted territory with an angry Putin bent on retaking the Ukraine that was destabilized by Berlin and Washington.

Elsewhere in Ukraine, pro-Russian demonstrators raise the Russian flag on government buildings; speaker of Russia’s lower parliament house said that ‘for now, there is no need’ to send armed forces.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has told Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 A.M. on Tuesday or face a military assault, Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry as saying.

The ultimatum, Interfax said, was issued by Alexander Vitko, the fleet’s commander. The ministry did not immediately confirm the report and there was no immediate comment by the Black Sea Fleet, which has a base in Crimea, where Russian forces are in control.

“If they do not surrender before 5 A.M. tomorrow, a real assault will be started against units and divisions of the armed forces across Crimea,” the agency quoted the ministry source as saying. Continue reading