The U.S.-Backed Government In Ukraine Is Starting To Lose The Civil War

War In Ukraine - Photo by Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung from Berlin, Deutschland

The mainstream media in the U.S. is being very quiet about this, but the truth is that the U.S.-backed government in Kiev is starting to lose the civil war. This week, the separatists captured the very important railway junction of Debaltseve despite the fact that a ceasefire is supposed to be in place. Buoyed by a constant influx of Russian weapons and supplies, the separatists have gained a clear upper hand in the conflict. But this was not supposed to happen. When protest groups that were funded, organized and advised by organizations in the United States violently overthrew the democratically elected Ukrainian government, the Obama administration was hoping that the Ukrainian people would rapidly embrace their new pro-western leaders. Instead, the nation was plunged into a very bitter civil war that could go on for many years. And as the battlefield stands right now, the government in Kiev will probably be forced to concede even more territory in the months ahead as more weapons and fighters arrive from Russia. The Obama administration could decide to intervene by shipping large amounts of weapons and supplies to the Ukrainian government, but that could turn the civil war in Ukraine into a proxy war between the United States and Russia. And the thing about proxy wars is that sometimes they turn into real wars.

Earlier this month, the world rejoiced when a ceasefire between the government in Kiev and the separatists was announced.

But it didn’t last long.

As I mentioned above, this week the separatists took full control of Debaltseve. The following is how CNN described the situation on the ground…

The scene of devastation is staggering in Debaltseve, the town at the heart of the battle between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in recent days.

Barely a house is unscathed by shelling. Elderly civilians trapped by the fighting still cower in basements. After most Ukrainian forces pulled out Wednesday, the separatists are now in control.

It’s obvious there’s been a seismic shift on the battlefield. But it’s not yet clear what the Ukrainian withdrawal means for the shaky peace deal that came into force Sunday.

Will the separatists halt their offensive, satisfied with the territory they hold? Or will they be emboldened to push for more?

And of course this is all part of a much larger trend. The separatists have been winning new territory for months.

I want to share with you a couple of maps. This first map shows what the conflict looked like last summer. As you can see, the territory held by the separatists was mostly limited to areas around the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk…

Civil War In Ukraine 2014

This next map shows what the conflict looks like today. As you can see, the separatists have captured an enormous amount of territory…

Civil War In Ukraine 2015

So have you heard about this from the mainstream media in the United States?

If not, why not?

Could it be that we aren’t supposed to know that the U.S.-backed government in Kiev is actually losing the war?

Needless to say, this would never have been possible without the direct involvement of Russia. Publicly, the Russians are denying that they are funding, supplying and arming the separatists. But everyone knows that they are. The Russians consider the civil war in Ukraine to be a fundamental matter of national security. And it is hard to blame them. Just imagine how the U.S. government would be responding if there was a civil war in Canada.

So with massive Russian backing, the separatists have been able to turn the tide of the war very much in their favor. The following is an excerpt from a recent Business Insider article

The battlefield gains by the separatists throughout the east of the country can be attributed to the constant inflow of Russian weaponry. In Nov. 2014, Russia moved a column of tanks and artillery into eastern Ukraine drastically changing the battlefield calculus.

In addition to tanks and artillery, Russia has provided the separatists with arms ranging from grenade launchers and mortars to anti-tank weapons and anti-aircraft guns.

As a result, Russian-backed rebels have huge military advantages over Ukraine. Crucially, the rebels receive logistics and armaments from the Russian military while also being able to take refuge in Russia during a Ukrainian assault.

This is not how the Obama administration wanted things to go.

And now the Obama administration is faced with a choice. Either they do nothing and watch the government in Kiev continue to lose ground, or they arm the government in Kiev and risk turning the conflict into a proxy war with Russia.

So what is Obama going to do?

It is hard to say. But there is little doubt about what the hawks in Congress want to do

On Capitol Hill, however, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had a clear message Thursday for the president: arm Ukraine.

“It is time to give Ukraine the ability to defend itself,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said. “It is past due.”

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., top Democrat on the armed services committee, said the “key here is to give the Ukrainians the ability to defend itself and to get back to a political solution.”

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the non-lethal aid the U.S. already is sending “is not enough when you are facing the Russian bear.”

But do we really want to start a proxy war?

As I mentioned above, proxy wars can ultimately lead to real wars.

And in the case of the United States and Russia, a real war could mean the use of nuclear weapons. For much more on this, please see a couple of my previous articles…

-“10 Signs That Russia Is Preparing To Fight (And Win) A Nuclear War With The United States

-“While Obama Snoozes, Russia Is Preparing For Nuclear War With The United States

We should have never interfered with the democratically elected government in Ukraine in the first place.

And now that war is raging in Ukraine, I fear that the United States and Russia have been put on a collision course which will end very, very badly someday.

So what do you think? Please feel free to add to the discussion by posting a comment below…

(Originally posted on End of the American Dream)

Ukraine peace deal: Ceasefire starting February 15, removal of heavy weapons

Ukraine Military

An agreement has been brokered in Minsk to stop hostilities in Ukraine from Sunday. The deal was reached after marathon talks between the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, and signed by the Ukrainian rebels.

“I believe we agreed on a big deal. We agreed to a ceasefire starting at 00:00 on February 15,” Russian President Vladimir Putin told the media after the talks were finished.

“The main thing achieved is that from Saturday into Sunday there should be declared – without any conditions at all – a general ceasefire,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told journalists in a separate statement.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

CNN says Obama considers arming pro-US troops…in Ukraine

Ukraine Map - Public Domain

Social media is abuzz after CNN labeled Ukrainian forces involved in Kiev’s deadly military operation in the country’s southeast as “pro-US troops.” Online comments are calling it a Freudian slip, claiming it unmasks the true agenda behind the conflict.

The headline during CNN’s Monday segment, dedicated to talks between Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the resolution of the Ukraine crisis, read: “Obama considers arming pro-US troops.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

50 Numbers From 2014 That Sound Fake But That Are Actually Real

50 Numbers From 2014 That Sound Fake But Are Actually Real

2014 was quite a bizarre year, wasn’t it? The past 12 months brought us MH370, Ebola, civil war in Ukraine, civil unrest in Ferguson, the rise of ISIS and the fall of the Democrats in the midterm elections. Our world is becoming crazier and more unstable with each passing day, and I have a feeling that things are going to accelerate greatly in 2015. But for the moment things are relatively quiet as much of the world stops to celebrate the holiday season, so now is a good time to look back and see where we have been over the past year. The facts that I am about to share with you sound false, but they are all quite true. If you doubt any of these facts, just click the link on the number to find the source. It has been said that truth is stranger than fiction, and that was definitely the case during the past 12 months. In no particular order, the following are 50 numbers from 2014 that sound fake but that are actually real…

2.5 – Researchers have discovered that characters in cartoons for children are 2.5 times more likely to die than characters in adult dramas. But as long as those characters look cute and make funny noises it must be okay.

$4.20 – The price of ground beef just hit a brand new record high of $4.20 a pound. Exactly 10 years ago, it was just $2.21 a pound. What do you think Clara Peller would say about this?

19.8 percent – This holiday season, nearly 20 percent of all American families are on food stamps. But since the stock market is soaring, most of the rest of the country doesn’t seem to care.

$20 – If you want to “lock down that new man for Christmas”, you can buy a positive pregnancy test on Craigslist for just 20 dollars.

29.0 years – The average age when a man in America first gets married has reached an all-time high of 29.0 years. Thus the need for the fake pregnancy tests.

31.1 percent – An astounding 31.1 percent of all U.S. young adults in the 18 to 34-year-old age bracket are currently living with their parents. But the good news is that demand for tacky basement decor is at an all-time high.

33 percent – According to the Wall Street Journal, close to one-third of all Americans have a file in the FBI’s master criminal database.

34.6 percent – According to the CDC, 34.6 percent of all men in America officially meet the criteria for being obese.

36 – At this point only 36 percent of the U.S. population can name all three branches of government.

43 – The new EPA regulations issued while Barack Obama has been president are 43 times as long as the entire Bible.

45 percent – One survey discovered that 45 percent of all Americans “dread” the Christmas season.

48 percent – Only 48 percent of Americans can immediately come up with $400 in emergency cash without borrowing it or selling something.

50 – An MIT research scientist is warning that if current trends continue 50 percent of all children in America will be autistic by the year 2025.

50 percent – Half of all college graduates in America are still financially dependent on their parents when they are two years out of college.

52 percent – According to a survey that was conducted earlier this year, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are currently living in right now.

54 percent – For the first time ever, more than half of all U.S. doctors support the legalization of assisted suicide.

57 percent – A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found that 57 percent of all Americans consider race relations in America to be “bad”. That is the worst number in 20 years.

59 percent – One very disturbing recent poll discovered that 59 percent of Americans are in favor of torturing our prisoners.

60 percent – In the United States today, 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees are earned by women.

64 percent – It would be a great understatement to say that pornography is popular with men in America. This is true even among men that are supposed to be religious. For example, one survey discovered that 64 percent of all Christian men ages 31 to 49 look at porn at least monthly.

65 percent – One shocking new poll found that 65 percent of Americans believe that the government is “broken”. The shocking part of the survey was that it was only 65 percent.

65 percent – According to a Census Bureau report that was released in December, 65 percent of all children in America are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government.

70 percent – Right now, about 70 percent of all government spending goes toward dependence-creating programs.

78 percent – According to a Pew Research Center study that was released earlier this year, 78 percent of U.S. women “want a spouse with a steady job”. Apparently the other 22 percent want an unemployed bum that stays home all day playing video games.

85 percent – 85 percent of all artificial Christmas trees are now made in China, and there is a rumor that Santa and his elves are considering a permanent move to the Chinese city of Shenzhen.

1979 – The United States has become the nation of the “permanent emergency”. In fact, there has been at least one “state of emergency” in effect in this country since 1979.

7,500 – The worldwide Ebola death toll has surpassed 7,500 for the first time, but most Americans seem to believe that the crisis is over. The truth is that it may just be beginning.

20,000 – Right now McDonald’s has 14,267 locations in the United States, but payday lenders have more than 20,000.

$30,000 – According to the Social Security Administration, 52 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

80,000 – Back in 1980, there were only about 3,000 SWAT raids conducted in the United States. But today, there are more than 80,000 SWAT raids per year in this country.

100,000 – It is estimated that there are at least 100,000 underage sex workers in the United States. In case you were wondering, yes that means that we are a very sick nation.

$1,000,000 – We are supposed to be a government “of the people, by the people and for the people”, but at this point more than half the members of Congress are millionaires.

1,400,000 – Thanks in large part to unchecked illegal immigration, there are now 1.4 million members of criminal gangs living in our cities.

2,400,000 – There are currently more than 2.4 million people behind bars in America, and since 1980 the number of people incarcerated in our prisons has quadrupled.

2,500,000 – According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, there are now 2.5 million homeless children in the United States.

4,000,000 – Right now there are more than 4 million adult websites on the Internet, and they get more traffic than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined.

9,700,000 – Almost 10 million more Americans have enrolled in Medicaid since Obamacare first launched.

15,000,000 – More than 15 million Americans have cosmetic procedures done each year, and Christmas is the busiest season of the year for plastic surgeons.

30,000,000 – In America today, more than 30 million Americans are taking antidepressants. And keep in mind that antidepressants are only one class of pharmaceutical drug. Overall, nearly 70 percent of all Americans are currently on at least one prescription drug according to the Mayo Clinic.

$40,000,000 – More than 40 million dollars has been spent just on vacations for Barack Obama and his family since he has been in the White House.

49,000,000 – An astounding 49 million Americans are considered to be facing food insecurity at this point.

110,000,000 – Approximately one-third of the entire population of the United States (110 million people) currently has a sexually transmitted disease according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

156,600,000 – The population of Bangladesh (156,600,000) is actually larger than the population of Russia (143,500,00). But nobody is scared of Bangladesh.

3,000,000,000 – For the first time ever, there are now more than 3 billion people on the Internet around the globe. I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

$600,000,000,000 – Americans will spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season. That is an amount of money greater than the entire GDP of Sweden.

$1,200,000,000,000 – Student loan debt has hit a grand total of 1.2 trillion dollars in the United States. That number has grown by about 84 percent just since 2008.

$2,000,000,000,000 – The war in Iraq cost U.S. taxpayers more than 2 trillion dollars, but now a radical jihadist terror organization known as ISIS controls nearly a third of the entire country.

5,000,000,000,000 – There are now 5 trillion little pieces of plastic floating around in the oceans of the world, and lots more plastic is being dumped into our oceans every single day.

$18,031,021,541,347.52 – The current size of the U.S. national debt. It increased by more than a trillion dollars during the fiscal year that ended a few months ago, and it is on pace to approximately double during Obama’s eight years in the White House.

$40,000,000,000,000 – There are five “too big to fail” banks in the United States that each have more than 40 TRILLION dollars worth of exposure to derivatives. This is a “sword of Damocles” that could destroy our financial system and our entire economy at any time. Let’s just hope that it does not happen in 2015.

So what numbers would you add to this list?

Please feel free to join the discussion by posting a comment below…

(Originally posted on End of the American Dream)

Ukrainian parliament votes to give up country’s ‘non-aligned’ status and join NATO in move set to further anger Russia

Ukraine Map - Public Domain

The Ukrainian parliament has renounced Ukraine’s ‘non-aligned’ status with the aim of eventually joining NATO – a move angering Moscow which views the Western alliance’s eastward expansion as a threat to its own security.

Kiev first announced its intention of seeking the protection of NATO membership in August following what it deemed the open participation of Russia’s military during the separatist war in its eastern provinces.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Ukraine’s renunciation of its neutral military and political status a ‘counterproductive’ step that would only boost tensions around the crisis in the east.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Ukrainian Students Sell ‘Blood of Russian Children’ Drinks at School Bake Sale

Bake Sale - Image Credits - Adrian Scottow, Flickr

A group of schoolchildren in southeastern Ukraine has prompted an outcry after selling items with creative names such as “Blood of Russian Children” and “Tanks to Moscow” at a charity bake sale organized to raise funds for Ukrainian troops.

The baked goods, prepared by the schoolchildren with the help of their parents and activists from the “Family Community” group, carried special thematic names in order to attract attention to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, Ukrainian news site Inshe.tv reported.

Guests were offered treats called “[Russian lawmaker Vladimir] Zhirinovsky’s brain,” “Tanks to Moscow,” “Yellow-and-Blue Stars on the Kremlin,” — in an apparent reference to a Ukrainian takeover of Russia’s center of government — and then drinks called “Blood of Russian Children” to wash it all down.

Ukraine has been a divided country ever since the ousting of former pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in February and Russia’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea a month later. The West and the new Kiev government have accused Russia of supporting separatists in the country’s eastern Donbass region with military aid — a claim Moscow denies.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

60 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid cross Russian border heading into Ukraine

Russian Convoy

All trucks with humanitarian aid for Donbass have crossed the Russian border, representative of the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry Oleg Voronov said on Sunday.

“Over 40 trucks are heading for Luhansk,” he said.

The convoy will deliver over 400 tonnes of aid to Luhansk, and over 800 tonnes to Donetsk, he said.

This is the eighth convoy with humanitarian aid for Donbass. “We were assembling it for several days, receiving trucks from the Rostov, Voronezh, Tula, Ivanovo and Moscow regions. From the emergency situations ministry’s rescue centre in Noginsk (near Moscow) we received about 60 trucks,” the ministry’s representative said.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Russia deports several diplomats, warns it will defend separatists in Ukraine

Ukraine Map

Russia has deported several Polish and one German diplomat in recent days, the latest in a series of tit-for-tat expulsions that have accompanied mounting tensions between Russia and European governments over the crisis in Ukraine.

In an interview with German ARD television broadcast late Sunday, President Vladimir Putin of Russia said he still believes diplomacy can bring peace to eastern Ukraine, but he said Moscow would not allow the separatists there to be “annihilated.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Monday that “a number of Polish diplomats” were being sent home in retaliation for the “unfriendly and unfounded” expulsion of Russian diplomats from Poland this month.

Separately, the German government said Monday one of its diplomats had been asked to leave Russia in what it called a “retaliatory measure,” confirming a report in Der Spiegel over the weekend.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Putin Warns He Won’t Let Ukraine Defeat Eastern Rebels

Ukraine Tanks - Photo by Michael

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned he won’t allow rebels in eastern Ukraine to be defeated by government forces as European Union ministers met to consider imposing more sanctions on the separatists.

“You want the Ukrainian central authorities to annihilate everyone there, all of their political foes and opponents,” Putin said in an interview yesterday with Germany’s ARD television. “Is that what you want? We certainly don’t. And we won’t let it happen.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said yesterday the EU will keep its economic sanctions on Russia “for as long as they are needed.” EU foreign ministers convened today in Brussels to discuss adding to sanctions that have limited access to capital markets for some Russian banks and companies and blacklisted officials involved in the conflict. New measures will likely target pro-Russian separatist leaders, the EU said.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Ukraine accuses Russia of sending in tanks, escalating crisis

Russian Tanks - Photo by Yana Amelina

Ukraine’s military accused Russia on Friday of sending a column of 32 tanks and truckloads of troops into the country’s east to support pro-Russian separatists fighting government forces.

Thursday’s cross-border incursion, if confirmed, is a significant escalation of a conflict that has killed more than 4,000 people since the separatists rose up in mid-April and would call into question Russia’s commitment to a two-month-old ceasefire deal.

The truce has looked particularly fragile this week, with each side accusing the other of violations after separatist elections last Sunday condemned as illegitimate by the West.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Obama to Arm Ukrainian Neo-Nazi Militants?

Ukrainian Neo-Nazis

A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate yesterday would authorize the Obama administration to send $350 million dollars worth of sophisticated weapons technology to Ukraine despite the fact that neo-nazi militants are openly fighting alongside Kiev forces.

The bipartisan Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, introduced by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bob Corker (R-TN), is set to be discussed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee later today.

Despite attempts to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine after a shaky cease fire was called, the legislation would intensify sanctions against Russia, forcing Moscow to “pay an increasingly heavy price” for its “aggression” in the region. The bill would also authorize President Obama to provide military assistance to Ukraine to the tune of $350 million dollars.

From the bill;

Providing defense articles, defense services, and training to the Government of Ukraine for the purpose of countering offensive weapons and reestablishing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including anti-tank and anti-armor weapons; crew weapons and ammunition; counter-artillery radars to identify and target artillery batteries; fire control, range finder, and optical and guidance and control equipment; tactical troop-operated surveillance drones, and secure command and communications equipment. It authorizes $350 million in fiscal year 2015 to carry out these activities.

The notion that such weapons are not “offensive” and can only be used for defensive purposes is clearly a misnomer. Anti-tank weapons include rocket-propelled grenade launchers and bazookas which can be used to target aircraft as well as fortifications and buildings.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

The Road To World War III: Russia And Ukraine Are Now Engaged In A Shooting War

Russian Tanks - Photo by Yana Amelina

Russian soldiers and Ukrainian soldiers are now shooting at each other in eastern Ukraine. Could this conflict ultimately lead us down the road to World War 3? This week, a very robust force of “tanks, artillery and infantry” has opened up a “third front” in the Ukrainian civil war in a part of southeastern Ukraine that had not seen much fighting yet. Exhausted Ukrainian forces are suddenly being pushed back rapidly and many outsiders are wondering how the nearly defeated rebels were able to muster such impressive military strength all of a sudden. But it really isn’t much of a mystery. The tanks, artillery and infantry came from inside Russia. In recent days, Ukrainian units have captured ten Russian paratroopers and there have even been funerals for Russian paratroopers that have been killed in action back home in Russia. Even though it has become exceedingly obvious that Russia is now conducting a stealth invasion of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is still choosing to deny it. But if he did publicly admit it, that would be even more dangerous. Barack Obama would be forced into a position of either having to do something about the Russian invasion or look weak in the eyes of the public. And as the Russians have already shown, they are more than willing to match any move that the Obama administration makes.

There has already been much written about who is to blame for all of this, and I am sure that much more will be written about who is to blame in the future. The western world is blaming “Russian aggression” for the mess in Ukraine. In return, the Russians point out that it was westerners that funded and organized the groups that violently overthrew the democratically-elected government of Ukraine. To the Russians, the current government of Ukraine is made up of neo-Nazi terrorist usurpers that are attempting to brutally oppress millions of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

So the Russians seem themselves as “the good guys” in this conflict and so does the western world. But that is how most wars start. Both sides usually feel morally justified at the start of a conflict.

In the final analysis, however, is it really going to matter very much who was “right” and who was “wrong” if the end result is World War 3?

If the rebels in eastern Ukraine had been able to defeat the Kiev government forces on their own, Putin probably would have been content to let them do that. But instead, they had been pushed back to two major cities and seemed on the verge of defeat.

But now it is the Ukrainian forces that are experiencing “panic and wholesale retreat”

Tanks, artillery and infantry have crossed from Russia into an unbreached part of eastern Ukraine in recent days, attacking Ukrainian forces and causing panic and wholesale retreat not only in this small border town but a wide swath of territory, in what Ukrainian and Western military officials are calling a stealth invasion.

The attacks outside this city and in an area to the north essentially have opened a new, third front in the war in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists, along with the fighting outside the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

How is this happening?

It is the Russians of course.

In fact, if you talk to Ukrainian soldiers, they are very clear on who they are fighting now…

“I tell you they are Russians, but this is what proof I have,” said Sgt. Aleksei Panko, holding up his thumb and index finger to form a zero. Sergeant Panko estimated about 60 armored vehicles crossed near Novoazovsk. “This is what happened: they crossed the border, took up positions and started shooting.”

The Ukrainian Vinnytsia brigade met the cross-border advance over the six miles of countryside separating Novoazovsk from the Russian border, but later retreated to the western edge of town along the Rostov-Mariupol highway, where soldiers were collapsed in exhaustion on the roadside. “This is now a war with Russia,” Sergeant Panko said.

And as I mentioned above, Ukrainian forces have even captured ten Russian paratroopers. Rather than denying who they are, the Russian government is claiming that they wandered into Ukraine by mistake

Ten Russian soldiers were detained in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, that country’s Security Service said Tuesday, as tensions simmered over the conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels.

The Russian soldiers were captured with documents and weapons on them, the Security Service said.

Moscow has repeatedly denied claims by Kiev that it has sent troops and weapons over the border into Ukraine, where the Ukrainian military is fighting pro-Russian rebels.

Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited a source in the Russian Defense Ministry as saying the soldiers had been patrolling the border and “most likely crossed by accident” at an unmarked point.

The denials that Russian forces are actively operating inside eastern Ukraine have become so absurd that even some in the Russian press are openly questioning them. For example, just check out this excerpt from a USA Today article that was posted on Wednesday…

Vedomosti, a liberal business daily, published an editorial Wednesday on events in Ukraine under the headline, “Are We Fighting?”

It noted the recent capture of the Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory and reports of “mysterious funerals” of Russian soldiers, some of whom are officially counted dying during training exercises.

“The number of questions that hang in the air of the dead and detained Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine has reached a critical number. Does Russia fight in Ukraine and, if so, on what grounds? If not, then who is in those freshly dug graves or giving testimony at SBU (Russian Security service) interrogations?”

A Bloomberg editorial contained some more details about the “mystery funerals” that have been taking place inside Russia…

One such burial, of two soldiers, took place in the village of Vybuty near Pskov in northwestern Russia, where an airborne division is based. Efforts to conceal the deaths produced a fiasco. Though the wife of one paratrooper had reported his death on the Vkontakte social network, when a reporter, Ilya Vasyunin of the Russian Planet website, called the wife’s phone number, a woman who answered stated that the paratrooper was alive and well. Two reporters, from Russian Planet and TV Dozhd, who visited the cemetery where the two fresh graves had been seen were immediately attacked by men in black tracksuits. Local journalists, however, succeeded in photographing the graves. According to the independent TV Dozhd, the soldiers’ names and wreaths have been removed from the graves.

There are other reports of paratrooper funerals, which are hard to conceal. Soldiers have grieving families who do not necessarily share the authorities’ desire for deception. In any case, Ukrainian troops have captured some Russian paratroopers. For the first time since the conflict began in March, they were able to record interviews with them.

Sadly, most Americans are not paying much attention to this conflict.

Most Americans are not really going to care much about a war on the other side of the planet that does not directly involve us.

But they should care.

Because things are about to escalate to a level that we rarely saw even during the darkest moments of the Cold War. Relations between the United States and Russia are spiraling downhill, and that could end up having a huge impact on all of our lives.

For example, in my previous article entitled “Russia Is Doing It – Russia Is Actually Abandoning The Dollar“, I discussed how this tug of war over Ukraine was causing Russia to think about moving away from the petrodollar. Well, it turns out that now the Russians are actually taking concrete steps toward abandoning the petrodollar for good…

The Russian oil company Gazprom Neft has agreed to export 80,000 tons of oil from Novoportovskoye field in the Arctic; it will accept payment in rubles, and will also deliver oil via the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline (ESPO), accepting payment in Chinese yuan for the transfers, the Russian business daily Kommersant reported Wednesday.

The Russian government and several of the country’s largest exporters have widely discussed the possibility of accepting payments in rubles for oil exports.

Last week, Russia began to ship oil from the Novoportovskoye field to Europe by sea. Two oil tankers are expected to arrive in Europe in September. According to Kommersant, the payment for these shipments will be received in rubles.

That is huge news, but you probably haven’t heard a thing about it on the big mainstream news networks.

Meanwhile, one thing that you probably have heard about is how “Russian hackers” attacked JPMorgan Chase earlier this month

Russian hackers attacked the U.S. financial system in mid-August, infiltrating and stealing data from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and at least one other bank, an incident the FBI is investigating as a possible retaliation for government-sponsored sanctions, according to two people familiar with the probe.

The attack resulted in the loss of gigabytes of sensitive data, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the probe is still preliminary. Authorities are investigating whether recent infiltrations of major European banks using a similar vulnerability are also linked to the attack, one of the people said.

As relations between the United States and Russia continue to decline precipitously, both sides will be looking for ways to hurt one another.

And that won’t be good for any of us.

So let us hope that cooler heads prevail.

But ultimately, this current conflict could end up taking us to a destination that the Cold War never did.

World War 3 will probably not happen next week, next month or even next year, but right now we are on a road which could eventually lead to the unthinkable.

Let us pray that our politicians are able to find the exit ramp at some point.

(Originally posted at The Economic Collapse Blog)

Ukrainian Sergeant: ‘This Is Now A War With Russia’

Ukraine Soldiers - Photo by Graham William Phillips

Ukraine and Western officials on Wednesday warned that Russian forces are opening up another, major front in the war, according to The New York Times.

“This is what happened: they crossed the border, took up positions, and started shooting,” Sgt. Aleksei Panko said after telling The Times that about 60 armored vehicles crossed the border near the town of Novoazovsk. “This is now a war with Russia.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday that Russia’s “incursions” in Ukraine “indicate a Russian-directed counter-offensive is likely underway” in Luhansk and Donetsk, which she said was of “deep concern” to the U.S.

She accused Russia of “sending its young men into Ukraine, but not telling them or their parents where they are going or what they are doing.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Russia Accuses Ukraine of Staging Gleiwitz-Style False Flag

Russia Convoy

The Russian government has accused Kiev of pulling a Gleiwitz-style stunt in its claim that Ukrainian troops destroyed a “Russian military column,” alleging that Kiev staged a false flag in order to demonize Moscow.

Earlier today, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced that a “significant” number of Russian military vehicles were destroyed as they tried to cross into Ukraine last night. The allegations followed weeks of warnings and narratives in the media that Russia was preparing to invade Ukraine.

However, Russia rejected that the incident took place at all, even going so far as to assert that Kiev staged the whole episode in a bid to portray Russia as aggressors.

“No Russian military column that allegedly crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border at night or during the day ever existed,” said Major General Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry.

Konashenkov went on to say that the best case scenario was that the whole incident was a “phantom” invented by Ukraine, but he also suggested Kiev could have even killed “refugees or their own servicemen” in order to pin the blame on Moscow.

“Such statements – based on fantasies, or journalists’ assumptions, to be precise – should not be subject for a serious discussion by top officials of any country,” Konashenkov added.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Is It War? Ukraine Says It Has Destroyed Part Of Armed Convoy From Russia

Ukraine Tanks - Photo by Michael

Ukraine said its troops attacked and partially destroyed a column of armed vehicles that had crossed the border from Russian territory, while Russia said it was concerned about an attack on another convoy carrying aid.

Ukrainian government troops engaged the vehicles that had arrived overnight through a rebel-held section of the border, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the country’s military, told reporters in Kiev today. Ukrainian soldiers continue to come under shelling, including rounds fired from Russia, he said.

The government in Kiev has for months said that separatist rebels in its easternmost regions are receiving support from Russia, which backs them with artillery fire. Russia has repeatedly denied any involvement in the Ukrainian unrest. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said it was concerned about potential attempts to disrupt the humanitarian convoy and repeated a call for a cease-fire to allow for aid delivery.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Massive Russian Convoy Rolling Again Toward Ukraine

Russian Convoy

A Russian aid convoy destined for rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine resumed its disputed southward journey on Thursday, in apparent defiance of demands by the government in Kiev that the shipment be stopped.

Moving at a steady 50 miles per hour, more than 200 commercial trucks and some army trucks with white tarpaulins set out before daybreak from a military base in the city of Voronezh, where the convoy had halted for more than a day after protests from Kiev.

Its progress coincided with what seemed like conciliatory remarks on Thursday by President Vladimir V. Putin in a speech to federal lawmakers in Yalta, Crimea. “We will do everything we can to help secure an end to this conflict as soon as possible, so that there will be no more bloodshed in Ukraine,” Mr. Putin was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

U.S. Officials: The Russian Military Has Fired Artillery Into Eastern Ukraine

Russian Armored Vehicles - Photo by Vitaly V. Kuzmin

The Russian military fired artillery rounds into eastern Ukraine on Thursday, a “clear escalation” of hostilities there, Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said.

Russia has about 12,000 troops on the border with Ukraine, Warren said. Russian tanks, artillery and rocket launchers have crossed into Ukraine to support separatists there.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has not spoken to his Russian counterpart about the artillery attack and has no plans to, Warren said.

“This is a clear escalation,” Warren said.

The Russians have conducted artillery attacks on Ukraine military targets for the last several days, Warren said.

The State Department also said Thursday they had evidence of the Russian attack.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Experts: It Would Have Been Extremely Difficult for Separatists to Shoot Down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Buk Surface To Air Missiles

Buried deep in an NYT report:

Peter Marosszeky, a longtime aircraft engineer and former senior executive at Qantas, PanAm and American Airlines who advised Boeing on the development of the 777 aircraft, said in a telephone interview that the 777-200 had an extremely long range and would have enough fuel to divert around a dangerous area during a 12-hour flight if the pilots chose to do so. But he said that airlines have typically not worried until now about surface-to-air missiles reaching planes at cruising altitude, because only a very large missile with a lot of fuel could ascend such a distance.

Mr. Marosszeky expressed skepticism that militiamen could readily fire such a large missile without training as well as cooperation from whoever owned or manufactured the missile. “You’ve got to have special codes and so forth to operate these things,” he said.

From WSJ:

 Those require training and technical knowledge that would be difficult for rebels to acquire if they had only recently taken possession of the systems—unless they had previous military training on the equipment.

“If it was a Buk, that is a quite sophisticated system that would require some kind of knowledge about how it works,” said Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. “This is not the kind of system you can just pick up and use.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Who Shot Down the Malaysian Plane?

Question Mark

Who Shot Down the Malaysian Airliner? A round-up of the latest facts, speculation and the blame game surrounding the alleged shoot down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine…

Ukrainian female pilot faces murder charges in Moscow

Vladimir Putin

A celebrated Ukrainian bomber pilot who faces murder charges in Moscow has become a new, high-profile flash point between Ukraine and Russia as they clash over deadly fighting along their border.

First Lt. Nadiya Savchenko, 33, Ukraine’s first female military pilot, is accused of complicity in the June 17 killing of two Russian journalists during a mortar attack on a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian separatists outside Luhansk in eastern Ukraine. She was captured the next day by the separatists and surfaced this month in Voronezh, southwestern Russia, where she is to go on trial.

The case is stoking new tension between Ukraine and Russia because Ukraine contends Savchenko was taken to Russia against her will.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Ukraine Shells Russia Again

Ukraine Shelling

For the second time in a week Ukraine has fired artillery rounds into Russia.

On Wednesday a border crossing at Kuibyshoveo was hit by two artillery shells, according to the chief press officer in the Southern Customs Department.

“The personnel of the customs house were evacuated at 7.50 am Moscow time after blasts of shells fired from the Ukrainian customs checkpoint Marinovka. Shells exploded outside a border checkpoint in Russia. No one was hurt in the incident,” Rayan Farukshin told the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS.

The border station at Novoshakhtinsk, a mining town in the Russian Oblast of Rostov, was evacuated after gunfire was reported at the Ukrainian border crossing in Dolzhansky.

Shootings and evacuations at Russian border stations have increased over the last few days. On Monday Russia’s Donetsk checkpoint in the Rostov Region was closed following a shooting on at the adjoining Ukrainian Izvarino customs station border station, according to RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

The Donetsk station was closed after a 120-mm artillery shell hit a house in the Rostov region on Sunday and killed a 47-year old Russian civilian. The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the shelling and said that the provocation might have “irreversible consequences.”

No less than seven artillery shells fell on the Russian side of the border on Sunday. In addition to the death of the Russian man, two women were wounded.

The Rostov incident promoted Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov to invite foreign military attachés to the site on Tuesday.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Russia Reportedly Considering ‘Surgical Strike’ On Ukraine

Russian Fighter Jets - Photo by Alan Wilson

Moscow is considering “surgical retaliatory strikes” on the Ukrainian territory after the standoff has led to first civilian victims among Russians on Russia’s territory, a Kremlin source told Kommersant Monday.

“Our patience is not boundless,” the source told the newspaper, stressing that “this means not a massive action but exclusively targeted single strikes on positions from which the Russian territory is fired at.”

The Russian side “knows for sure the site where the fire comes from,” the source said.

The proposed plan echoes a statement by a deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house, Yevgeniy Bushmin, who told RIA Novosti Sunday that using precision weapons in response to Ukraine’s shelling would prevent further Kiev’s attacks of Russia’s territory.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Russia warns Ukraine after shell crosses border

Ukraine Artillery

Russia threatened Ukraine on Sunday with “irreversible consequences” after a Russian man was killed by a shell fired across the border, while Kiev said Ukrainian warplanes struck again at separatist positions in the east of the country, inflicting big losses.

Although both sides have reported cross-border shootings in the past, it appears to be the first time Moscow has reported fatalities on its side of the border in the three-month conflict which has killed hundreds of people in Ukraine.

Kiev called the accusation its forces had fired across the border “total nonsense” and suggested the attack could have been the work of rebels trying to provoke Moscow to intervene on their behalf. The rebels denied they were responsible.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Ukraine Crisis: ‘No More Unilateral Ceasefires’

Ukraine Soldiers - Photo by Graham William Phillips

Ukraine will only negotiate with the rebels once they lay down their arms, Kiev’s defence minister has said.

“There will be no more unilateral ceasefires” by Ukrainian troops, Valeriy Heletey said in a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

He was speaking after separatists fled their eastern strongholds and regrouped in the regional centre of Donetsk.

Ukrainian forces recaptured several cities after President Petro Poroshenko brought an end to a 10-day ceasefire.

He has since ordered the army to blockade the insurgents inside the two cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Ukraine agrees to second cease-fire as fighting worsens

Ukraine Soldiers - Photo by Graham William Phillips

As government forces sought to crush an insurgency in eastern Ukraine Wednesday, the country’s foreign minister agreed to a second cease-fire after four-way talks that included Russia, according to German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The report, by Russia-owned news site RT.com, comes as Ukrainian government and media sources reported that five Ukrainian troops and hundreds of separatists were killed as government forces engaged in more than 100 clashes with pro-Russia forces in the country’s east. The government’s new offensive comes a day after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ended a 10-day cease-fire Tuesday after insurgents failed to meet his demand that they disarm.

Foreign ministers from Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France gathered in Berlin to discuss the worsening crisis. In a joint statement, the ministers announced a plan to meet by Saturday “with the goal of reaching an unconditional and mutually agreed sustainable cease-fire.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Kiev Government Resumes Civil War Against East Ukraine

The Ukrainian offensive resumed “anti-terrorist operation” after new Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ended a 10-day, unilateral cease-fire that had failed to produce peace talks. Oleksandr Turchynov, speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, informed lawmakers that the Ukraine military had been carrying out “attacks on terrorists’ bases and defended posts.”

Putin met with members of his security staff and “held a detailed discussion of the situation in Ukraine, which is rapidly deteriorating,” Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told the Russia-owned ITAR-TASS news agency.

Poroshenko, who had initiated the ceasefire, had announced in a televised address early Tuesday that he was resuming military operations, vowing to “attack and liberate our land.”

Barack Obama meets with Petro Poroshenko, June 5th 2014 - Public Domain

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Ukrainian forces shell Slavyansk church during Sunday service

Ukraine Artillery

“The shelling began on Sunday morning at 6 am GMT during a liturgy. People were praying, when Ukrainian forces produced a first volley from Karachun hill. One woman was nearly beheaded by an explosion. We’ve buried her,” archpriest Nikolay Fomenko said.

Ukrainian government forces have launched an attack on the Cathedral church of St. Alexander Nevsky in Slovyansk, according to the local diocese.

“There were several more volleys and one of the shells hit the Palyanitsa bread kiosk located a few meters from the church, tearing it apart and burning whatever was left. Having heard the first volley, the saleswoman ran out – and that saved her life,” said Archpriest Nikolay Fomenko, added.

“After the shooting began, everyone rushed into the church, people were praying on their knees. The wave of explosion hit the dome and smashed several stained-glass windows, prompting the people to pray even more. The volleys lasted for about half an hour,” the priest said.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Donetsk Militia Take 221 Tanks And 228 APCs From Ukrainian Troops

Ukrainian_T-64_tanks_on_parade - Photo by Michael

Militias of the unrecognized People’s Republic of Donetsk took control of the Ukrainian army tank base in the town of Artemovsk.

“At night, we took control of the tank base in Artemovsk, 30 kilometers from Slavyansk. We now have 221 tanks, 288 armored vehicles, 12 self-propelled guns, 18 Grad volley fire systems, 183 infantry fighting vehicles and 12 mortars,” the head of the information center “Southeastern Front, Konstantin Knyrik told Interfax.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

The Civil War In Ukraine Has Created A Massive Humanitarian Crisis Which Will Ultimately Benefit Russia

Civil War In Ukraine - Photo by RGloucester

Every time the Kiev government conducts another airstrike or lobs more artillery shells into a city in eastern Ukraine, it loses more hearts and minds among the citizens of eastern Ukraine. The brutal civil war in Ukraine has created a horrific humanitarian crisis in the eastern half of the country, and at this point there seems to be little hope that the nation will ever be peacefully reunified. This suits Russia just fine, because the Russians are getting exactly what they want without having to take any military action. Eastern Ukrainians were pro-Russian even before this civil war began, but with each passing day anti-Kiev sentiment is rising in the areas where the fighting is raging. Every “anti-terrorist operation” is just pushing eastern Ukrainians even further into the waiting arms of Russia. Many have wondered why Russia hasn’t gone ahead and invaded Ukraine, but the truth is that the Russians are already achieving their most important strategic goals without even firing a shot.

Acting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko recently said that “Ukraine is in a state of war“, and that was not an overstatement. Fierce military battles are being fought all over eastern Ukraine right now. The following is an excerpt from one recent article about the fighting…

An intense military operation is underway in the town of Artemovsk in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region, a local militia headquarters spokesman told Interfax on Thursday. “The village of Zakatnoye, the town of Seversk and the outskirts of Artemovsk have come under fire. Militiamen are firing in response. Fierce fighting is underway using heavy military hardware on the part of Ukrainian government forces,” the spokesman said.

According to the local militia, “a Su-25 fighter bomber that conducted an airstrike against the town of Seversk has been hit by the militia’s fire, but it is still in the air.

And posted below is some absolutely stunning combat footage from eastern Ukraine…

As the fighting has raged, it has created a horrific humanitarian crisis unlike anything that Ukraine has experienced in decades…

Continued combat and army artillery fire have knocked out both water and electricity supplies.

“Almost all medical facilities are closed,” the Donetsk Region’s local administration said in a statement. “Ambulances do not respond to calls due to a lack of fuel.”

In addition, hospitals are not working in Donetsk, Kramatorsk, Slavyansk and a number of areas in the Slavyansk district.

Thousands of people have neither tap nor drinking water supplies as pumping stations were damaged in previous fighting between Ukrainian troops and anti-government self-defense forces.

“They’ve bombed everything,” a local woman told RT. “There’s no electricity, no water, no money, no work, nothing. We don’t know what to do. We’re not leaving, we want to live on this land.”

“Please help us,” said another woman. “Something must be done, we’re being killed in Slavyansk.”

The worse things get, the more the people of eastern Ukraine hate the government in Kiev.

For instance, just check out this excerpt from a recent Reuters article

The military operation has hardened antagonism against the present government that came to power when President Viktor Yanokovich was toppled in February after mass protests in Kiev.

“Our Ukrainian army is not protecting us, instead it is attacking us. Thanks to them I have to flee my own land,” said Larissa Zhuratova, a Slaviansk resident piling onto a bus full of refugees bound for Moscow.

Once the fighting stops, do you think that those people will have any inclination to come back under the authority of the government in Kiev?

Of course not.

And as the casualties on both sides mount, the bitterness on both sides will continue to increase.

According to the Kyiv Post, Ukrainian military forces have been suffering “heavy losses” during this civil war…

The Ukrainian army and National Guard, which have been plagued by inadequate resources, have suffered heavy losses at the hands of pro-Russian militants in recent weeks, raising questions about their ability to stabilize the country’s eastern regions.

In fact, it has been reported that the Ukrainian army lost more than 1,000 troops in a single battle recently.

But the war has been quite brutal for the opposing side as well. According to USA Today, the forces of eastern Ukraine are “outnumbered” and “outgunned” and are in retreat…

Rebel chief Igor Strelkov, however, said in a statement on YouTube that his men were far outnumbered and outgunned by Ukrainian forces and were likely to retreat from their positions in Yampol and Seversk near Krasnyi Liman. He said the Ukrainian military advance would completely cut rebel supply lines to Slovyansk and issued a desperate plea to the Kremlin for military assistance.

“I hope that they have enough conscience left in Moscow to take some measures,” Strelkov said.

As this civil war in Ukraine has raged, the rest of the world has been watching and waiting to see if Russia will get involved.

At times Russia has moved troops toward the border, and at other times Russia has pulled troops back. This week, it appears that Russian troops are once again massing along the border with Ukraine

Russia has resumed a military buildup near Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday, calling it “a very regrettable step backward.”

“I can confirm that we now see a new Russian military buildup — at least a few thousand more Russian troops deployed to the Ukrainian border — and we see troop maneuvers in the neighborhood of Ukraine,” Rasmussen said in London.

But unless something dramatic changes, I don’t think that Russia will attack.

In the end, this is not a battle for land in eastern Ukraine.

Rather, it is a battle for the hearts and minds of the people of eastern Ukraine.

No matter how this civil war turns out, they are the ones that are ultimately going to decide what the future holds.

And right now, each passing day is pushing them father away from Kiev and much closer to Russia.

Ultimately, that is precisely what Russia wants, and that is the opposite of what the Obama administration was hoping for.

(Originally posted on The American Dream)

Russia sending tanks across border into Ukraine, Kiev says

Russian Tanks - Photo by Yana Amelina

Russia has gone back on its promise to secure its border with Ukraine against further infusions of weapons and fighters, with at least three Russian tanks and several armored vehicles spotted Thursday in the eastern Ukraine town of Snizhnye, a top Ukrainian official said.

“Columns of armored personnel vehicles and artillery have entered through checkpoints seized by terrorists,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said at a news conference in Kiev, the capital, citing his nation’s intelligence sources and referring to separatists in the east.

Avakov said Ukrainian troops engaged the Russian convoy and destroyed some of the armor.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Ukrainian Forces Launch Armored Attack on Slaviansk Suburbs

Ukraine Tank

Ukrainian forces are using tanks for the first time in the course of the two-month standoff between self-defense forces in the city of Slaviansk and the Ukrainian army, a source in the headquarters of the independence supporters told RIA Novosti Friday.

“Tanks are currently attacking Slaviansk in two directions – from Krasnyi Liman (a city north of Slaviansk) and Semyonovka (Slaviansk eastern suburb),” the source said.

According to independence supporters three or four tanks are currently stationed in Semyonovka which was earlier attacked with self-propelled mortars.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Civil War In Ukraine: More Than 1,000 Ukrainian Soldiers Dead In Just One Recent Battle

Ukraine Violence - Photo by Mstyslav Chernov

About 1,200 Ukrainian army soldiers have been killed during a special operation in Slaviansk, and eight helicopters and 15 armored vehicles were destroyed, Slaviansk people’s mayor Vyacheslav Ponomaryov said Thursday.

“According to our information, the Ukrainian army has the following losses and damages: 1,200-1,300 people were killed, eight helicopters, 15 armored transport vehicles, and three [artillery] weapons destroyed. They are suffering huge losses. I’m speaking only about Slaviansk,” Ponomaryov said in an interview with the Latvian radio station Baltkom.

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov confirmed Thursday the downing of a military helicopter had killed 14 Ukrainian servicemen, including a general. Soon after that, the Ukrainian National Guard clarified that 12, not 14 people were killed in the Mi-8 helicopter crash near Slaviansk.

The people’s mayor also noted that the self-defense forces of Slaviansk had lost about 200 people.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

And here is some absolutely stunning footage of a Ukrainian military helicopter being shot down over eastern Ukraine…


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