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Monday, December 09, 2019

Tag: russian military

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Danziger Draws

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

Russian Forces Near Ukraine ‘More Lethal’ Than Ever: United States

Washington (AFP) — Russian forces deployed near Ukraine’s eastern border are “more lethal” than before and heavily armed with artillery and air defense weaponry, the Pentagon said Thursday.

“The force that we see arrayed on the border is exceptionally capable, probably more capable, more lethal than anything that we’ve seen up until now,” spokesman Colonel Steven Warren told reporters, saying there were more than 10,000 Russian troops in place.

AFP Photo/Anatolii Stepanov

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Putin Orders Russian Troops To Pull Back From Ukraine Border

By Carol J. Williams, Los Angeles Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday ordered Kremlin troops to pull back from the border with Ukraine after weeks of military exercises that the Kiev government and Western allies accused of heightening tensions between the two former Soviet republics.

Putin, who heads to China for economic and political talks this week, said spring military drills in the Rostov, Belgorod and Bryansk regions had been completed and troops were to return to their normal bases, the Interfax news agency reported without further detail.

Russian officials had said two weeks ago that their forces were withdrawing from the 1,000-mile border with Ukraine, although North Atlantic Treaty Organization officials in Brussels said they had seen no sign of a pullback.

Top NATO officials said last month that satellite surveillance showed the Kremlin had amassed at least 40,000 soldiers on Ukraine’s border.

Ukrainians go to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president to replace ousted former leader Viktor Yanukovich, who fled a popular rebellion in late February and has taken refuge in Russia. Yanukovich, a Kremlin ally, sparked fury among western Ukraine’s pro-European citizens when he abandoned an economic and political association agreement with the European Union in November.

It wasn’t clear if the troop withdrawal order was a further signal that the Kremlin will let Sunday’s election take place without interference. Armed, pro-Russia separatists have occupied government buildings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions over the past two months and vowed to prevent the Kiev-administered election from taking place in the areas they control.

The separatists who have barricaded themselves in seized government buildings organized their own vote on May 11 after which they declared independence from Ukraine. Some self-styled leaders of the breakaway areas have appealed to Russia for annexation, as occurred in Ukraine’s Crimea region in March.

Ukraine’s embattled interim leaders who took power after Yanukovich fled have accused Putin of orchestrating the violent takeovers in eastern Ukraine, and U.S. and European governments have also blamed the Kremlin.

But Putin has been silent in the face of the separatists’ appeals for union with Russia, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last week that Moscow was prepared to do business with an elected president in Ukraine.

AFP Photo/Kirill Kudryavtsev

At Crimea Base, Ukraine Troops Who Fought In Iraq Now Face Russian ‘Brothers’

By Matthew Schofield, McClatchy Foreign Staff

PEREVALNE, Ukraine — The cloaked soldiers camped outside the Ukrainian coastal security base may be silent to strangers about who they are and where they come from. But they freely admit to the Ukrainian soldiers they’ve surrounded that they come from Russia. In fact, they say that when they left their Russian base recently, they were under the impression that they were leaving on a training exercise somewhere in their native land.

“Then when they saw the mountains and were told this was not training, they assumed they were in Chechnya,” said a Ukrainian officer who has been involved in talks with the Russians. “When they learned they were actually in Ukraine, in Crimea, they told us they were shocked.”

On Monday, in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, the U.S. ambassador announced that the United States would not recognize the results of a referendum planned for Sunday in Crimea to determine if the region will leave Ukraine and become a part of Russia.

But in Crimea, the referendum appears a fait accompli. Crimea today is awash in billboards noting Crimean and Russian unity, and on Monday, Russian troops reportedly stormed two bases and took control of one, a missile base, though without bloodshed.
V
Here in Perevalne, an uneasy calm holds, though the stress is obvious on everyone involved.

The officer who spoke is a captain in what he would describe only as a brigade of foot soldiers under the framework of the Ukrainian navy. He agreed to talk to a McClatchy reporter only on the condition that his name not be used. He said he believes what is going on should be known, but that attaching his name to it would make him less effective in dealing with the Russians.

And, he said, there is nothing more important to him, his men and his country right now than reaching some kind of agreement with the Russians that sees this situation end, and end without violence.

“I tell you the truth, I would have been less surprised to find men from the moon surrounding our base,” he said. “Right now, the Russians are our captors. But I cannot get my mind around the idea that they are the enemy. The Russians have always been my brothers. Are we expected to spill the blood of our brother? And if we cannot, will they spill ours?”

The brigade is not new to warfare. Experts in Ukrainian defense describe it as the most battle-hardened unit in the Ukrainian military. It fought with the United States in Iraq and worked with the international coalition in Kosovo.

The soldiers are not openly showing arms. One gate guard fidgeted with a knife while taking the request for an interview to his superiors, but there are no guns showing. The captain said that away from the view of those who come to the gate, though, men are armed and on alert.

“We have had no reassurances from Kiev that they can come to our aid,” he said. “We do not even know if our families who live nearby will be protected if things go wrong. Kiev could not even tell us what we were expected to do, other than to stand firm. So we will stand firm.”

He said that despite the word games being played by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the men outside his gate never pretended to be anything other than what they are: occupying troops from Russia. And, he noted, they come from “far, far away, from southeastern Russia, they told us during negotiations. Their trucks, 30 of them, had southeastern Russian plates.”

Outside of those gates is a sizable force. The men are wearing all green, with black face coverings known as “balaclavas,” a name coined ironically enough by British soldiers fighting near the Crimean town of Balaklava 160 years ago. Their weapons are kept across their chests, and several dozen patrol the ground around the base.

The base looks to be decaying, not uncommon in a Ukrainian military that has been funded by the Ukrainian Parliament at 10 percent of requests in recent years.

As the captain spoke, a steady stream of wives and girlfriends made their way to a back gate that for now remains free of Russian guards. The visitors all carried plastic sacks with meals. They were greeted by the soldier they came to see just outside the gate. Some kissed and embraced. Others just smiled awkwardly and stared at each other.

But the captain notes that despite the fact that the back gate is free of threat for now, the men inside remain on alert. Most live in a group of high-rise apartments half a block away. Their families remain there, alone.

“We eat inside; we sleep inside. For now we live inside,” he said.

AFP Photo/Alexey Kravtsov