RT News & ITAR-TASS Russian News Agency – 2015-02-07 01:36:32
Ukrainian Parliament Passes Law
Allowing Army Deserters To Be Shot
(February 05, 2015) — Ukraine’s parliament has passed a law which authorizes commanding officers to use physical force against army defectors. It comes as the latest military draft has seen a lack of enthusiasm on the part of potential soldiers.
Ukraine’s parliament voted on Thursday with 260 MPs in favor — only 226 votes were needed to pass the law. The new article 22(1) added to the charter regulating service in the armed forces of Ukraine states that commanders “have the right to personally use physical force, special means, and weapons when in combat” against soldiers who commit “criminal acts.”
Under criminal acts the law lists “disobedience, resistance or threat to use force against the commander, voluntary abandonment of military positions and certain locations of military units in areas of combat missions.”
An explanatory note to the document says that currently there are mass violations of military discipline, in particular, desertion from units and drinking alcohol, as well failure to execute commanders’ orders.
In late January, a new Ukrainian military draft for 2015 came into effect. This one is the fourth wave of mobilization since Kiev launched a military operation against militias in eastern Ukraine in April 2014.
It was expected to see 100,000 people joining the army in three stages throughout the year. However, the country’s Defense Ministry said on January 31 that nearly 7,500 Ukrainians are already facing criminal charges for evading military service.
The Ukrainian president’s adviser, Yury Biryukov, cited statistics, showing that desertion surprisingly was primarily a problem in western Ukraine, traditionally seen as a hotbed of anti-Russian sentiment.
The Ukrainian president went as far as signing a decree on additional measures to ensure a successful draft in 2015. A major provision is temporary restriction on leaving the country for men eligible for military service.
“The Verkhovna Rada [Ukraine parliament] has authorized the shooting of army deserters. By doing so they are risking shooting the whole army: people don’t want to participate in a bloody venture,” said the head of Russia’s Lower House of Parliament Committee for relations with the CIS bloc, Leonid Slutsky, on his Twitter.
Kiev began a military assault on eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions in April 2014, after they refused to recognize the country’s new, coup-imposed authorities. Following a period of calm and hopes that the Minsk negotiations conducted in September 2014 were bearing fruit, Kiev launched a new assault on the militia-held areas on January 18.
Since then, eastern Ukraine has suffered constant shelling. Among the latest incidents, a hospital in Donetsk was hit on Wednesday. Local authorities said more than 15 people were feared dead in the attack. According to UN estimates, over 5,000 people have died since the conflict started.
â€¢ Potential conscripts evade draft, flee country amid escalation in E. Ukraine
â€¢ New military draft starts in Ukraine amid intensified assault on militia-held territories
â€¢ Pentagon confirms military buildup along Russian borders for ‘peace and stability’
30,000 Troops, 6 Rapid Units:
NATO Increases Military Power in Eastern Europe
(February 5, 2015) — The NATO Response Force in Europe might increase to 30,000 troops, more than double the current 13,000, said the alliance’s secretary general after a defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels. Most of the troops are set to be stationed near Russia’s borders.
NATO’s rapid deployment forces will consist of a 5,000-strong brigade, sea and air-based elements and special task troops, said NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenber after meeting with the alliance’s 28 defense ministers in Brussels on Thursday.
Before the meeting he noted that he expected the ministers to “agree on several important elements of a package that increases our collective defense.”
The UK has already announced plans to deploy 1,000 troops and four multirole Typhoon fighter jets to join the Response Force in Eastern Europe.
The spearhead of that force will be 5,000 servicemen, distributed among six compact command centers in Eastern Europe, with about only 50 officers in each.
“It is a response to what we have seen from Russia over a period of time and it is in full accordance with our international obligations,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.
These six Rapid Deployment Force units to be stationed in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania are expected to be capable of rapidly reinforcing the region” in response to any threat from Russia,” Reuters reports.
“In Ukraine, violence is getting worse and the crisis is deepening. Russia continues to disregard international rules and to support the separatists,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters before the meeting.
When necessary, this force could be deployed in two days. The remaining 25,000 will be operational within a week.
Last September, Ukraine, Poland, and Lithuania agreed to form a joint military force (LitPolUkrBrig) to take part in the first joint military drill in 2015. The Ukrainian parliament ratified the document on Wednesday.
The brigade of approximately 4,500 servicemen (3,500 â€“ Polish, 545 â€“ Ukrainian and up to 350 Lithuanians) is slated to become the UN and EU peacekeeping force, or alternatively form a basis of a NATO battle group in the region bordering Russia.
The purpose of creating that kind of an international brigade raises concerns, Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said at a media briefing on Thursday.
Ukraine’s internal conflict has already been internationalized to a great extent and adding the element of joint armed forces to it is absolutely counterproductive and would endanger the situation in the region, Lukashevich said.
The alliance significantly boosted its presence in Eastern Europe last year, citing a growing threat from Russia in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis.
Today, despite the fact that NATO suspended all military cooperation with Russia in 2014, the alliance is keeping open channels with Russian authorities “for political contacts,” Stars and Stripes reported.
On Saturday, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is expected to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the annual Munich security conference.
Volen Siderov, a Bulgarian opposition leader and MP, told RT that Western propaganda presenting Russia as an aggressor in Ukraine “is being actively spread in Bulgaria by media which serve the American masters.”
“There are plans to establish a NATO command center in Bulgaria,” Siderov acknowledged, pointing out that this will require an amendment to the national legislation.
Siderov’s parliamentary group is categorically against turning Bulgaria into a bridgehead in the aggression against Russia and has introduced a bill to prevent any NATO troop formations entering the country. But the group is too small to pass its proposal through.
OSCE Confirms Luhansk Was
Shelled with Cluster Munitions
ITAR-TASS Russian News Agency
VIENNA (February 4, 2015) — The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, after visiting Luhansk areas where civilians were killed by shelling, confirmed that the city was shelled with cluster munitions from the north-west.
The SMM saw considerable damage caused by the impacts of rocket shelling, such as broken windows, fences, gates and walls. The SMM assessed that some of the damage to the buildings, e.g. a series of parallel rows of strike marks on a gate and wall, were consistent with damage typically caused by shrapnel elements from cluster munition.
According to the SMM’s assessment, a hole in a roof of a house was caused by the impact of what appears to be a bomblet, with small calibre.
The SMM discovered parts of rockets, including engines, fins and cargo compartments, in the front and backyards of several houses; the cargo compartment in particular is typical of a rocket carrying cluster munitions. Some parts sighted by the SMM at the impact site (1.5 cm white metal fragments, 6-by-3 cm black metal fragments of bomblets cases) are typical for cluster munition.
The SMM identified them as parts consistent with 9M55K model ‘Smerch’ rockets (calibre 300mm). The SMM observed a crater (diameter approximately 4m, depth approximately 3m) at the backyard of the house located at Dekabristiv Street 106, which had been caused by the explosion of a ‘Smerch’ rocket, according to the SMM’s assessment.
The SMM measured by compass the angle between north and the axis of cargo remains. The SMM measured the incoming azimuth for the three cargo remains of the “Smerch” rockets, indicating a general incoming north-north-west direction,” the observers said in the report.
Human Rights Watch Has Evidence
Of Cluster Bombs Use in Eastern Ukraine
(December 3, 2014) — KIEV, December 3. /TASS/. Human Rights Watch has evidence that the Ukrainian troops used cluster bombs in the country’s eastern region, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth told a briefing in Kiev on Wednesday.
Our investigation has found clear facts that the Ukrainian side is responsible, he said, adding that the organisation could confirm this.
According to him, the impact zone of cluster bombs has its distinctive appearance. Human Rights Watch has been able to demonstrate that the bombs were dropped from the side controlled by the Ukrainian forces. This is confirmed by the fact that some bombs did not reach the target falling on the territory controlled by the Ukrainian army, Roth said.
The human rights defenders are dissatisfied with the investigation conducted by the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office into the facts of the use of cluster bombs by Ukraine’s security forces in the east of the country, the Human Rights Watch director said.
Many have heard that the organisation has conducted an investigation in the east of Ukraine and found out that cluster bombs were used in some instances by the pro-government forces in residential areas, he said.
Cluster munitions lack precision and therefore their use is prohibited in the territories where civilians live, the human rights defender said.
However, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, he said, has failed to conduct the needed investigation. Instead of analysing the physical evidence of the use of cluster bombs, the prosecutor just checked the presence of these munitions at depots and said they were not taken anywhere, Roth said.
Moreover, the investigation was conducted not on the type of the weapons the human rights organisation had probed into. The Ukrainian prosecutors checked mines, and not cluster bombs, said the Human Rights Watch representative. He said the organisation was not satisfied with this kind of investigation.
Donetsk Republic Says Kiev Used
Chemical Munitions in Attack on Airport
DONETSK (January 16, 2015) — The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) Alexander Zakharchenko, said on Friday Kiev troops have used chemical munitions during the attacks on the Donetsk airport.
“After the shells burst, a pungent cloud of gas spread across the old terminal. They are firing banned munitions in breach of the Geneva convention,” Zakharchenko said after visiting the Donetsk airport with a group of journalists.
“There is a pungent smell after a shell burst and sulfur can be smelled, and it is impossible to breathe,” he was quoted by the official Donetsk news agency as saying.
A correspondent working for the agency, who was among the group of media representatives, said he has felt the impact of chemical substances, which made his eyes tear and he had trouble breathing. A militia member also needed medical assistance.
Earlier on Friday, Kiev troops claimed that they still control the Donetsk airport, in conflict-hit eastern Ukraine, despite earlier reports of Ukraine’s military withdrawal.
Kiev Prosecutor: Ukraine’s pro-Kiev Volunteer Battalions Pose ‘Threat to Security’
KIEV (November 10, 2014) — Members of pro-Kiev volunteer military battalions who come to Kiev from eastern Ukraine, where a security operation has been under way since April, are posing a serious threat to the capital’s stability and internal security, Kiev’s Chief Prosecutor Sergei Yuldashev said on Monday.
“They are walking around the city heavily armed,” Yuldashev said.
Any armed person who arrives in the city can be classified as a criminal, especially if such people unite into groups, Yuldashev said in his address, which the Kiev prosecutor’s office has published on its website.
The number of criminal cases involving illegal arms trade has increased 2.5 times to 557 cases since last year, the prosecutor’s office said.
“Thousands of fire arms and cold steel arms pieces, explosives, grenades and cartridges have been discovered and confiscated over that time. Members of volunteer military battalions have committed almost 30 grave and particularly grave crimes over the same period,” Yuldashev stressed.
He called for ending anarchy and rampancy of crime in Kiev’s streets and stopping the spread of weapons from the conflict-stricken areas in eastern Ukraine to other parts of the country.
Last Friday, Yuldashev’s press service issued a statement warning that members of the Aidar volunteer battalion were planning to stage a military coup.
“I believe that they are posing an internal threat. I think you agree that they are unpredictable. They can even stage a military coup,” Yuldashev’s press service quoted him as saying.
Ukraine’s volunteer military battalions are volunteer units under the command of the Ukrainian Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Defense. They were created to fight the militias in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics when the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region broke out in spring. Over 5,600 volunteers joined the defense battalions across Ukraine by August and about 7,000 volunteers joined by the end of September.
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