Tag Archives: Crimea

EU defence in focus

Brussels 06.05.2021 The EU Foreign Affairs Council (Defence): Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell at the press conference:

“Well we had three different meetings today, maybe to celebrate that it was our first physical encounter since last August – soon it will be one year. We decided to hold three different meetings.

We started with the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency. It offered the Defence Ministers the possibility to review the state of play in the implementation of the Coordinated Annual Review on Defence (CARD) and to have a look at the recommendations of CARD, looking in particular at collaborative opportunitiesc in capability development, research and technology, which are the basis of the strategic autonomy in the field of defence.

And, certainly, we have a lot of work to do. We have a clear picture of this capability development based on research and technology, but we are very much aware that it takes 10 to 30 years to fully design, develop, and put in the field a usable major military system. This means that we need to take decisions and engage now. The discussion has been interesting, but there is a lot of work to do to go from the theoretical approach to the practical implementation.

Then, we went to our everyday business and, on that, the Sahel took an important place. I briefed Defence Ministers on my recent trip to the Sahel. As you already know, I visited Mauritania, Mali and Chad. The programme of the travel was strongly altered and had to be adapted due to the fact that the President of Chad [Idriss Déby Itno] was killed. The region is facing one of the most important security and development crises of our generation. After I came back, more events happened with the killing of soldiers and civilians, I think that we have to increase our engagement in the region because the stability in the Sahel remains key for European security.

We went on to discuss Russia: Russia’s recent [military] build up in illegally-annexed Crimea and on the Ukrainian border.

We discussed about the de-escalation of the tensions and the implementation of the Minsk agreements as the only way forward for a lasting political solution. But it is unclear that Russia wants to engage fully in this respect and unclear is a mild word.

On Mozambique, Mozambique is a new issue that appears more and more in our agenda. I updated Ministers on our response to Mozambique’s request for European Union assistance to help address the security crisis and the terrorist threat they are facing in the region of Cabo Delgado.

Work is already ongoing. We are considering a potential European Union Training Mission, like the ones we already have in several African countries. We have a few steps ahead of us, but I hope it will be launched as soon as possible. I have given instructions to accelerate the work, because we must respond to Mozambique’s request with a certain sense of urgency that we do not always have.

The main dish of our meeting was the Strategic Compass. It was the most important item in our agenda. Today we focused on one of the baskets of the Strategic Compass, the basket of crisis management.

This analysis that we produced last year shows that we need to be prepared for future crises and to react quickly.

To this end, we have put forward a number of concrete ideas and proposals. Many of them are based on inputs received from the Member States themselves. We want to do that in an interactive way. At the end the Member States, which are responsible, competent for the Foreign and Defence Policy, have to provide their proposals, their input, their analysis. We got a lot of papers and putting all of them together we have to use our own proposal that the Ministers have been discussing. Allow me to summarise the main guidelines of this proposal.

First, the European Union needs to be more effective and take decisions faster. As I said before, we have to react quicker. We need to take decisions faster. And we discussed notably how to launch our missions and operations more quickly, as well as how we could create more incentives to improve the number of personnel, staff and assets deployed under our Common Security and Defence Policy missions and operations.

Second, we need more flexibility. That is what I learned, during my visit to the missions that we are deploying in the Sahel. We need to better adapt our civilian and military missions to the needs of each crisis and each crisis is different from the others. This could also mean more coordination and cooperation with other military operations conducted in ad hoc coalitions by some Member States or other partners. In the Sahel, for example, there are the European Union missions and then there are coalitions ad hoc led by some Member States. We have to converge these European Union activities with the Member States’ activities. More coordination and cooperation.

Third, we need to be prepared. I want to raise the level of our ambition. And when I am saying to be better prepared, it is not just a matter of speed, but it is also a matter of having fully equipped and prepared our staff to react quickly. In this context, we discussed the idea that was present in some of the papers presented by several Member States – but also in our own reflexions – the idea of an initial entry force that could be deployed as a “first responder” in case that we have to face an urgent crisis.

This is just one example of the proposals that could be considered by Member States as part of the ongoing reflections on the Strategic Compass that I hope will be finished by next March. For the time being nothing is cast in stone, there is no agreement on any specific issue. It is a battle of ideas. It is a reflexion, a collective reflexion. There is strong agreement on some issues, the debate is ongoing on others. But this idea of an initial entry force has been widely discussed today.

For Member States’ forces to be ready for future crises and conflicts, we also need to plan and exercise together, by using scenarios not only to determine what we need, but also to train together and improve our planning and conduct structures. Here also I want to be more ambitious. If we want to have the capabilities to deploy on the field, we must have at the Headquarters planning, conduct and structures that for the time being we do not have.

In the weeks to come, the Ministers will have substantive discussions also on the other baskets, or directions, the components of the Compass: capabilities, emerging and disruptive technologies, partnerships and resilience. Some Member States were asking about our partnership with NATO. Our partnership with NATO is something that I take for granted. It will be everywhere, but it has a specific part when we talk about partnerships. And our partnership with NATO is the most important one that we have.

In order to enhance this partnerships we invited to have lunch with us the NATO Secretary General [Jens] Stoltenberg who joined us for an informal lunch. We discussed areas of common interest from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan.

As you can imagine, the situation in Afghanistan has been the most important issue we have been discussing with Jens, the Secretary General of NATO. In light of the US and NATO decisions to withdraw forces as of 1 May, increased communication and coordination between us, NATO and the US and other international partners will be key for ensuring a stable and long-term political solution in Afghanistan. Everybody understands that there is a big risk of increased violence. We want to encourage the peace process, to support the prosperity, security, democracy and human rights in the country. But let us see the events the way they will unfold.

The Mediterranean is the other area in our immediate neighbourhood and there are still pending issues like, for example, the cooperation between our operations, [Operation] Irini and [NATO] Sea Guardian. We asked the Secretary General of NATO to continue working in order to have the same level of cooperation with Operation Irini that we had with the previous Operation Sophia.

And, finally, we had the Board [meeting] at the Ministerial level of the European Union Satellite Centre based in Torrejón at the outskirts of Madrid. It is the first time in almost 30 years that the Board of the European Union Satellite Centre meets at a political level and I had the honour and the pleasure to chair this meeting.

For me, the Satellite Centre is a very important asset for our institutions and agencies, for Member States, for our missions and operations, because it provides us with a critical geopolitical intelligence analysis.

It also provides [support] to our partners such as the OSCE [in] Ukraine or the United Nations in Libya with an invaluable view of what is happening on the ground.

The Ministers adopted the participation of Canada, Norway and the US in the first PESCO project shared with non-Member States. Finally we have non-Member States participating in PESCO projects, in particular in this one on military mobility in the European continent, in which for sure the US, Canada and Norway is also interested. I think it is an important step for PESCO. We have been discussing about it for months, but finally our Common Security and Defence Policy cooperation with partners in the area of defence and for European and transatlantic security has grown one step further. Good news.

Black sea: Russia restricts navigation

Brusssels 20.04.2021 The United States voiced deep concern over Russia’s plans to restrict navigation for foreign naval ships and other state vessels in its territorial waters in the Black Sea, slamming this as “unprovoked escalation,” the State Department said in a statement.

“The United States expresses its deep concern over Russia’s plans to block foreign naval ships and state vessels in parts of the Black Sea,” the statement reads.

“This represents yet another unprovoked escalation in Moscow’s ongoing campaign to undermine and destabilize Ukraine,” the US State Department said.

The State Department also noted that this development “is particularly troubling amid credible reports of Russian troop buildup” on the border with Ukraine.

According to a bulletin of the Russian Defense Ministry’s navigation and oceanography department, on April 24-October 31 navigation of foreign naval ships and other state vessels in some parts of the Black Sea in Russia’s territorial waters will be suspended. The document did not specify the particular reason for the move.

Earlier Russia asked Washington many times about the goal of US warships’ navigation in the Black Sea.

Crimea water supply prospects

The Head of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov, claims that the situation with the “water shortage” in Simferopol will be resolved in March 2021 thanks to new wells. As reported by “Interfax”, he made this announcement at a meeting of the operational headquarters for the city’s water supply. The Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRWAS) was recognised as a “human right” by the United Nations General Assembly on 28 July 2010.

“We are drilling three wells, which can provide additional 10 thousand cubic meters per day now, and another 40 thousand cubic meters per day from three underground water intakes. This will be January-February 2021. We will definitely provide the water supply system for Simferopol … Starting point when our situation should be defused, even if there will be no precipitation, this is approximately March 2021, “Aksenov has underlined.

According to the Head of Crimea, underground sources will be used before the construction of the desalination station. “At underground sources, including at a certain stage, we will hold out until technologies are built,” Aksenov said.

As for the desalination plant, it “is being developed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade on behalf of the president, and within the next two weeks the federal government will propose a solution related to the construction of a desalination plant in the city of Simferopol. The plant will be built in the village of Nikolaevka, on the seashore … no one has ever implemented projects. In fact, the decision to be made here will be unique, “Aksenov said at a meeting of the operational headquarters on the issue of water supply to Crimea on Friday.

As reported, water scarcity is observed in Crimea in 2019 and 2020 and may, according to forecasts, last in 2021.

Rigid water supply schedules by the hour were introduced in August this year in Simferopol and 39 other settlements nearby. Residents massively complain in social networks about the poor pressure of water or no water at all, as well as the color – from red to black. From September 23, the water began to be turned off at night in the resort Alushta in the south of the peninsula.

According to Rosvodresursy, water losses in the networks in Simferopol exceed 50%, in some places they reach 80%, the department considers such a situation unacceptable in a water-deficient region.

The North Crimean Canal, intended to supply the arid zones of Crimea and agricultural lands with Dnieper waters, was blocked by Ukraine for the peninsula, disagreeing with its status after the referendum (2014). The Permanent Commission on International Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights (HRC) asks the UN and the Council of Europe to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Crimea, complained about Ukraine.

Kiev says that the water from the Dnieper will return through the canal to Crimea only in the event of “de-occupation of the peninsula.”

In the meantime, the main hope of the Russian authorities in Crimea is precipitation, which should fill the reservoirs and solve the problem of water shortage on the peninsula. To do this, officials in cooperation with Roshydromet are planning to induce artificial precipitation. The first such experiments are promised to be implemented by the end of 2020.

Crimea: EU stands for Ukraine territorial integrity

“Continued efforts by the Russian Federation to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, with further attempts to forcibly integrate the illegally-annexed Crimea and Sevastopol into Russia, represent a violation of international law” reads the statement by the European External Actions Service (EEAS) spokesperson on recent developments in the Crimean peninsula.

“The recent keel-laying ceremony of two assault ships in Kerch is yet another clear step in the ongoing militarisation of the peninsula, with a considerable negative impact on regional security in the Black Sea.

“Another concern is the latest restrictions of the freedom of movement for Ukrainian citizens to and from the Crimean peninsula. Access to mainland Ukraine and the right to return to the place of residence has to be granted unconditionally and should not require a Russian passport.

“The European Union continues to expect Russia to stop all violations of international law in the Crimean peninsula. The European Union is unwavering in its support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders”.

Two latest universal amphibious assault ships were laid down for the first time at the Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch, Crimea, on July 20.
The ceremony was attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin who attached the keel-laying plaque to the Project’s first ship.

“Today three leading Russian shipyards are simultaneously laying down six new ocean-going ships. Here, in Kerch, these are two universal amphibious assault ships. At the Severnaya Shipyard in St. Petersburg, these are two frigates and at the Sevmash Shipyard in Severodvinsk, these are two nuclear-powered underwater cruisers,” the President said.

Mariani MEP: Crimean Tatars used for political purposes

Thierry MARIANI Member of the European Parliament (France, Identity & Democracy group) compares the EU policy of support to Islamist groups in Crimea to the U.S. failed strategy in Afghanistan, using the Taliban as a weapon against the USSR. The MEP’s reaction followed the European diplomacy demand of the immediate release of seven men arrested in Crimea on July 9, accused by Russian prosecution of terrorist activities as members of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami.

Mariani places the reaction of the EU within the context of Brussels policy vis-à-vis Russia, reminding the procedure of the audition of Josep Borrell at the European Parliament, when the future head of the European diplomacy devoted a considerable amount of time to Russia, assigning to it the status of number one foe for the period of his future mandate.

Russia is primary, and the terrorism is secondary, that what M.Borrell thinks“, Mariani underlined, characterising the position of the EU chief of diplomacy. The demand of the immediate liberation of the presumed Hizb ut-Tahrir members, the organisation banned in Germany and the majority of Arab countries, MEP described the as the “continuous obsession” with Russia. Subsequently within this political frame everything that happens in Russia is to be “condemned“, and this goes beyond Russia, reflecting in EU global politics in assessment of different militant groups, par example, in Syria, which in spite of the open terrorist orientation, have been supported by the EU, just because they were enemies of Russia.

“It is the same dangerous game, the Occident has been playing in the 1980-s, when via Pakistani secret services they have been supporting the Islamist organisation in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. As soon as they were armed, they have not stopped, and look what happens to Afghanistan today” Mariani resumed.

“It is a dangerous mentality considering the enemies of our enemies being by definition our friends” MEP continued. But in reality the “enemies of our enemies” are even more dangerous than our enemies of the first ranks. However the handicap of this policy is also losing out of sight the threat of Islamists, and new challenges, for example rising power of China, Mariani underlined. As the result of this policy the “obsession” with Russia prevails over the proper interests of Europe.

Mariani referred to the consequences of his policy of favouring “enemies of enemies” seen by French recently in a wave of urban violence caused by clashes between Maghreb and Chechen gangs in the streets of Dijon (Burgundy). The events became a moment of revelation, when French discovered that Chechens, who were received as “political refugees” for decades, omitting the fact that some of them were fighting for establishing the Caliphate in Caucasus.

To my regret today the minority of Crimea is used for political purposes” Mariani said.

Considering the situation of the Crimea Tatars, it is clearly improved in comparison to the Ukrainian period, Mariani said, underlining that after the referendum (16.03.2014) all three languages of the three communities of the peninsula – Russian, Ukrainian, and Tatar, – have received equal official status, while during period within Ukrainian sovereignty the uni lingual policy had been conducted.

MEP Mariani has visited Crimea more than twenty times in his capacity of the Member of French Parliament (Assemblée nationale) during 25 years to pay tribute to the fallen soldiers (1872) there. Near Sevastopol lies the biggest military cemetery outside France, and the memorial to more than 90 thousands of slain warriors. As a Member of the parliament Mariani supervised the restoration works at the cemetery, and had an opportunity to observe the situation on Peninsula during the Ukrainian period. Chair of a group of “Friends of Russia” at certain moment Mariani has “stopped to count” the trips to Crimea.

AMENDMENT: Original video in French language from European Parliament Brussels

AMENDEMENT: Statement by the Spokesperson on human rights violations against and the illegal detention of Crimean Tatars by the Russian Federation.

Crimea: Putin attends keel-laying ceremony

President Vladimir Putin attended the keel-laying ceremony for the Russian Navy’s first helicopter carriers warships at the Zaliv Shipyard in Kerch, Crimea, on Monday July 20.

Together with the general director of the Zaliv plant Igor Obrubov, the head of state installed a mortgage board for the section of the Ivan Rogov universal landing ship.

Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko, Commander-in-Chief of the Navy Nikolay Evmenov installed the foundation board for the Mitrofan Moskalenko UDC section.

The head of state also watched the laying of the Voronezh and Vladivostok nuclear submarines in Severodvinsk, as well as the Admiral Yumashev and Admiral Spiridonov frigates in St. Petersburg in a video conference mode. Presentations were made by the Director General of PO Sevmash Mikhail Budnichenko and the Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov.

Three leading Russian shipyards simultaneously laid down six new vesssels on Monday: two universal amphibious assault ships in Kerch, Crimea, two frigates in St. Petersburg and two nuclear-powered submarines in Severodvinsk.

Following the tradition, the universal amphibious assault ships and next-generation frigates will be named after Russian glorified military and naval commanders “who did much for strengthening the Navy,” Putin said at the ceremon in Kerch.

These are the helicopter carriers Ivan Rogov and Mitrofan Moskalenko and the frigates Admiral Yumashev and Admiral Spiridonov, he specified.

The contract for building Project 885M ‘Yasen-M’ multi-purpose nuclear-powered submarines was signed at the Army-2019 international arms show in the summer of 2019.

The baseline Project 885 lead nuclear-powered underwater cruiser Severodvinsk entered service with Russia’s Northern Fleet in 2014. The upgraded Project 885M lead sub Kazan is preparing for its delivery to the Navy in 2020.

Five Project 885M submarines are at various stages of their construction at the Sevmash Shipyard.

Project 885/885M submarines will carry Kalibr-PL and (or) Oniks cruise missiles and also Tsirkon hypersonic missiles as their basic weapons.

Today, at the three leading shipyards of Russia, six new ships of the far sea zone are simultaneously laid. Here, in Kerch, these are two universal landing ships, in St. Petersburg at the Severnaya Verf shipyard, two frigates, and in Severodvinsk, at the Sevmash enterprise, two nuclear submarines” President Putin said.

“By tradition, the landing ships and frigates of the new generation will bear the names of our famous military leaders and naval commanders who have done a lot to strengthen the Navy. These are “Ivan Rogov” and “Mitrofan Moskalenko”, “Admiral Yumashev” and “Admiral Spiridonov”. And nuclear submarines are named after the cities of military glory – “Voronezh” and “Vladivostok”.

“The new ships will be equipped with advanced weapons, control and long-distance communication systems. They will significantly strengthen the combat potential of the Navy and increase its strategic capabilities.

“The Navy has always reliably defended the borders of Russia. And today he plays an extremely important role in ensuring the security of Russia, stands firmly on guard of national interests, and helps maintain a strategic balance and stability in the world.There are now about 60 of our ships and support vessels in key regions of the World Ocean. Almost half of them are in the far sea zone. And such long sea voyages, the demonstration of the Russian flag have been held in recent years on an ongoing basis” the President continued.

“Russia has one of the longest coastlines and access to three oceans, so we will continue to pursue the development of a modern combat-ready fleet, build ships equipped with advanced weapons and equipment.

“I would like to note that over the past eight years, the fleet has included more than 200 ships, boats and vessels of various classes. It is necessary to continue to consistently carry out the measures of the state armament program, so that by 2027, the share of modern ships in the Navy will exceed 70%.”

EU Crimea sanctions «tradition»

European Council today decided to renew the sanctions introduced in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation until 23 June 2021.

The restrictive measures currently in place include prohibitions targeting the imports of products originating in Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU, and infrastructural or financial investments and tourism services in Crimea or Sevastopol. Furthermore, the exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors or for the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources are also subject to EU restrictions.

As stated in the declaration by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU on 16 March 2020, the EU still does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and continues to condemn this violation of international law.

Sanctions against Crimea, despite the diligent attempts of their authors and ideological inspirers, did not become an instrument of manipulation, did not drive us into a corner, but exactly the opposite made us strong and self-sufficient. Their next extension is only a tribute to the “tradition“, because in fact they can do nothing else. False accusations, vile incitements and reckless sanctions are the whole “arsenal” of the EU’s foreign policy instruments,” the Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov wrote on his page in Russian social media.

The escalation of “anti-Russian hysteria” around the Crimean Repubic has become for the West a familiar form of hiding their own problems and a way to shift the focus of public attention from important topics, he continues. The head of the Republic emphasized that large infrastructure facilities on the peninsula were successfully implemented under the conditions of sanctions.

Of course, their absence would create more favorable conditions for Crimea for economic development, in particular, to attract investment. But this is not direct damage, but rather a lost opportunity, which we compensate for in other available ways,” he added. – “In short, my perception of Western sanctions is best demonstrated by the proverb “a dog barks, while caravan goes.”

There is a lot of work ahead! … The Russian Crimea is destined to successful development and prosperity” the Crimean leader concluded.

Putin arrives to Crimea

President Vladimir Putin arrived to Crimea for a working visit, which will last two days, Russian media reports.

Russian President has a meeting with representatives of the public of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.

The head of state also awarded to the builders of the Crimean bridge with distinctions and medals.

There are also scheduled working meetings with the head of the Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksenov and interim governor of Sevastopol Mikhail Razvozhaev.

March 18, Crimea marks the sixth anniversary of reunification with Russia, which is regarded as “annexation” by the European Union, supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine after Maidan Revolution, ousting President Yankovich.

In March 2014, a referendum was held in the Republic of Crimea, following which the peninsula became a territorial part of Russia, and Sevastopol became a city of federal significance.

Catherine the Great invested a year GDP of Russia to conquer the peninsula responding to complaints of her subjects against Crimea Khanate kidnapping people and slave trafficing to Ottoman Empire. The successful military campagne ended with Crimea joining Russian Empire under name of Tavria in 1783, and closure of all slave markets on the peninsula. Traditionally this historic day of issuing the Manifest of Catherine II is celebrated on April 19.

Russian drills in Black sea

An active phase of tactical drills of the Black Sea Fleet aviation with fighters, bombers and helicopters has begun on March 18 in Crimea. In the course of the drills, pilots trained to withdraw forces during a potential attack, conducted a search for submarines, launched unguided missiles and dropped bombs, the fleet’s press service informed. (Image: illustration).

The drills consist of two stages. “During the first stage of the drills, plane and helicopter crews practised withdrawing forces in case of a hypothetical enemy attack and redeploying aviation to backup airfields,” the message reads.

During the second stage, pilots of Su-24M and Su-30SM launched unguided missiles and dropped bombs on land and sea targets. Crews of anti-submarine aircraft and helicopters conducted a search for a hypothetical enemy submarine. Pilots of military transport aviation practised transporting and landing cargo.

In total, the drills include about 20 aviation units of the Black Fleet.

Crimeans denounce EU «hypocrisy»

The speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, defined the position of the European Union, which continues to refuse to recognize the Russian status of Crimea as “hypocrisy“.

Earlier, the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrel, made a statement on the Crimea, in which he recalled that the EU does not recognize the Russian peninsula. In addition, he said, “the increasing militarization of the peninsula continues to negatively affect the security situation in the Black Sea region.”

“Any references to international law on their behalf sound hypocritical. The right to self-determination is enshrined in the UN charter, as well as in the UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law of 1970,” Konstantinov said to reporters.
According to him, Crimeans pay no more attention any longer to such statements issued by Western politicians.

Meanwhile the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on the six anniversary of Crimea Republic and Sevastopol “re-unification” with Russian Federation:

“Today we celebrate the 6th Anniversary of the 2014 referendum in Crimea: 96,77% votes were cast in favour of reunification with Russia. This historic choice of the people of Crimea must be respected; celebrated as a triumph of true democratic processes #CrimeaIsRussia” read the issued Tweet.

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