New Syrian-Iranian chlorine bombs make mockery of US-Russian chemical accord and UN monitors

The household cleaning agent chlorine, in heavy concentration is purchased by Iran and and fitted with  detonators, to provide President Bashar Assad with a vehicle for cheating on his undertaking to surrender Syria’s chemical arsenal under the year-old US-Russian chemical disarmament accord. And Assad is indeed getting away with using chlorine bombs, with crippling effect, especially on children, every few days.

Nonetheless, Sigrid Kaag of the UN Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Saturday, April 19, that Syria had destroyed approximately 80 percent of its arsenal as agreed under the Kerry-Lavrov accord. At this rate, she said, Syria will have got rid of 100 percent of its chemical arsenal by the April 27 deadline.

The French President Francois Hollande admitted April 20, however, that the Syrian leader had continued to use chemical weapons on the front line, but he denied that definite proof had not been established. Continue reading

Ukraine pushes tanks and troops into separatist east

IZYUM (Ukraine) (AFP) – Ukraine pushed tanks toward a flashpoint eastern city on Tuesday to quash a separatist surge backed by Moscow — a high-risk operation that was sharply condemned by the Kremlin but won Washington’s support.

The 20 tanks and armoured personnel carriers were the most forceful response yet by the Western-backed government in Kiev to the pro-Kremlin militants’ occupation of state buildings in nearly 10 cities across Ukraine’s rust belt.

Ukrainian forces set up a cement road barrier and began checking traffic leading to Slavyansk while fighters and attack helicopters circled overhead. Continue reading

Ukraine agrees to host NATO war games

Ukraine’s parliament on Tuesday approved a series of joint military exercises with NATO countries that would put US troops in direct proximity to Russian forces in the annexed Crimea peninsula.

“This is a good opportunity to develop our armed forces,” acting defence minister Mykhailo Koval told Verkhovna Rada lawmakers ahead of the 235-0 vote.

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Russia to create special economic zone in Crimea to woo investors

Russia will make Crimea a special economic zone offering tax breaks and reduced bureaucracy to attract investors, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday.

“Our aim is to make the peninsula as attractive as possible to investors, so that it can generate sufficient income for its own development,” Medvedev told a Russian government meeting on the Black Sea peninsula, which Moscow has annexed from Ukraine. Continue reading

The White House Is ‘Very Nervous’ About Russia’s New Ability To Evade NSA Spying

The Obama administration is “very nervous” about Russia’s recent ability to hide communications from U.S. eavesdropping equipment while commandeering Crimea and amassing troops near Ukraine’s border, a U.S. official told The Wall Street Journal.

“This is uncharted territory,” the official added.

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NATO Chief Says Ukraine Events May Affect European Tactical Nuclear Reductions

The head of NATO says Russia’s incursion into Ukraine may affect the prospects for nuclear arms control in Europe, which already faced political challenges.

“Of course I cannot exclude that the events we have witnessed in Crimea will also have an impact on the thinking about arms control, including nuclear policies,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Wednesday remarks at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

The alliance leader did not say whether he was referring to potential changes in NATO’s or Russia’s positions on the potential for pull-backs of tactical nuclear arms in Europe, or both. Continue reading

Russia can turn US to ‘radioactive ash’: Kremlin-backed journalist

Moscow: A Kremlin-backed journalist issued a stark warning to the United States about Moscow’s nuclear capabilities on Sunday, as the White House threatened sanctions over Crimea’s referendum on union with Russia.

”Russia is the only country in the world that is realistically capable of turning the United States into radioactive ash,” television presenter Dmitry Kiselyov said on his weekly current affairs show.

Behind him was a backdrop of a mushroom cloud following a nuclear blast. Continue reading

Russian Troops Mass at Border With Ukraine

MOSCOW — With a referendum on secession looming in Crimea, Russia massed troops and armored vehicles in at least three regions along Ukraine’s eastern border on Thursday, alarming the interim Ukraine government about a possible invasion and significantly escalating tensions in the crisis between the Kremlin and the West.

The announcement of the troop buildup by Russia’s Defense Ministry was met with an unusually sharp rebuke from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who warned that the Russian government must abandon what she called the politics of the 19th and 20th centuries or face diplomatic and economic retaliation from a united Europe.

“Ladies and gentlemen, if Russia continues on its course of the past weeks, it will not only be a catastrophe for Ukraine,” she said in a speech to the German Parliament. “We, also as neighbors of Russia, would not only see it as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union’s relationship with Russia. No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically.” Continue reading

Russian Paratroopers Hold Massive Drills as Crimea Vote Nears

MOSCOW, March 11 (RIA Novosti) – An airborne division based in central Russia began large-scale exercises Tuesday against the backdrop of an ongoing political and security crisis in Ukraine.

The Defense Ministry said units of the 98th Guards Airborne Division, based in Ivanovo, a city east of Moscow, were put on high alert and moved to unspecified locations to “check readiness” in simulated combat conditions. Continue reading

Putin Adviser Publishes Plan for Domination of Europe

On March 9, a very influential geostrategic and ideological adviser of the Putin regime, Aleksandr Dugin, published his game plan for domination of Europe. The plan, which Dugin calls “the Russian Spring,” is presented as one of three scenarios for resolution of the current Ukrainian crisis. The other two, in which the Kremlin blinks in the face of Western pressure, result in thermonuclear war or complete global chaos.

Following is Dugin’s plan for the Russian Spring. (The translation is mine. The original, published in Russian, may be viewed on Dugin’s Facebook page.) Continue reading

Ukraine crisis: Russia’s referendum on Crimea secession illegal, Germany says

Germany’s Angela Merkel delivered a rebuke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday, telling him that a planned Moscow-backed referendum on whether Crimea should join Russia was illegal and violated Ukraine’s constitution.

Putin defended breakaway moves by pro-Russian leaders in Crimea, where Russian forces tightened their grip on the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula by seizing another border post and a military airfield. Continue reading