Archive for March, 2014


March 31, 2014

FoxNews on March 30, 2014, reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin is showing telltale signs that he intends to extend his control over Ukraine and perhaps elsewhere in Eastern Europe, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers was saying on March 30. Excerpts below:

Beyond assembling military armor and tens of thousands of troops along the Russia-Ukraine border, Putin is moving troops in northern Georgia and planting intelligence officers in Ukraine, the Michigan Republican told “Fox News Sunday.”

He said Russian troops in the northern region of Georgia, known as South Ossetia, are on the move, perhaps to go into Armenia or toward the Baltic Sea.

“There’s no way I’d take this as any other way than [Putin] is working for a land bridge,” Rogers said.

He said the Russian president also is engaged in a more “covert operation” by sending intelligence officers and special forces into eastern Ukraine to try to convince citizens to allow Russia to annex their country, like Putin did with Ukraine’s Crimea region earlier this month.

Furthermore Rogers says the real concern is the kind of buildup, which includes heavy armor as well as light and heavy infantry.

Rogers says he has no way of knowing Putin’s exact intentions and is basing his analysis on how he has acted in the past.

Besides annexing Crimea, Putin sent troop into Ossetia in 2008 to take control of the region.


March 30, 2014

FoxNews on March 29, 2014 reported that Russia has said it has no intention of invading eastern Ukraine, but a top politician from Kiev told Fox News Saturday that there is “still a huge possibility that Russia could invade and seize Ukrainian territory.” Excerpts below:

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk voiced his concern as Russia’s military takes positions on the country’s border. Yarsenyuk, however, expressed some optimism for a diplomatic solution after an hour-long phone call March 28 between President Obama and President Vladimir Putin.

Yatsenyuk’s concern for further Russian aggression is shared by many in the West.

U.S. Defense officials told Fox News the numbers of troops at Ukraine’s border far exceeds the amount needed for a training exercise. And the fact that there is no real evidence any large-scale exercises have occurred, and that none of the troops have returned to their bases, is also concerning to U.S. observers.

Andriy Parubiy, Ukraine’s top security official, estimates that Russia has 88,000 troops on the border. It is believed that an additional 50,000 troops may have flooded the region in the last few days.

The White House issued a press release the said Putin phoned Obama, who was travelling in Saudi Arabia, to discuss the situation that has put both countries on precarious footing.

Obama urged Putin to avoid further military provocations in Ukraine, and to pull back the troops that Russia has on the Ukraine border, the statement said. Obama said Ukraine’s government is pursuing de-escalation despite Russia’s incursion into Crimea.

Fox News’ Greg Palkot and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


March 29, 2014

FoxNews on March 28, 2014, reported that prisoner of war Jeremiah Denton declared his loyalty to the U.S. government during a 1966 interview for what was supposed to be a propaganda film. But his enraged captors missed his more covert message: “T-O-R-T-U-R-E,” blinked into the camera in Morse code, a dispatch that would alert the U.S. military to the conditions he endured. Excerpts below:

Denton, who would survive 7 1/2 years confined in a tiny, stinking, windowless cell at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” and other camps before his release in 1973, died of heart problems Friday in Virginia Beach, Va., at age 89, his grandson Edward Denton said.

The elder Denton later became the first Republican from Alabama elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction,…

In July 1965, a month after he began flying combat missions for the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, the Mobile native was shot down near Thanh Hoa. He was captured and recalled his captivity in a book titled “When Hell Was in Session.”

Some of the most severe torture came after the 1966 interview, in which he confounded his captors by saying that he continued to fully support the U.S. government, “and I will support it as long as I live.”

“In the early morning hours, I prayed that I could keep my sanity until they released me. I couldn’t even give in to their demands, because there were none. It was pure revenge,” Denton wrote.

The tape was widely seen, and U.S. intelligence experts had picked up the Morse Code message. But Denton theorized later that his captors likely figured it out only after he was awarded the Navy Cross — the second-highest decoration for valor — for the blinks in 1974.

…with the war’s end drawing closer, he was released in February 1973.

Denton was the senior officer among former POWs who stepped off a plane into freedom at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Denton epitomized the military spirit as he spoke for the returning soldiers: “We are honored to have had the opportunity to serve our country under difficult circumstances. We are profoundly grateful to our commander-in-chief and to our nation for this day. God bless America.”

His words and bearing, beamed back to his country by television, gave heart to the military at a time of increasing uncertainty and bitter division over the course of the war.

He was promoted to rear admiral and retired from the Navy in November 1977. Denton then turned to politics, despite having no experience running for a statewide political office. With Ronald Reagan atop the GOP ticket, Denton became the first Republican elected to the Senate from Alabama since the Reconstruction era following the Civil War.

In Washington, he was a Reagan loyalist, a defender of military might and an advocate for a return to traditional family values and conservative stands on moral issues.

Denton lost his re-election bid in 1986 by only a fraction of a percentage point.

After his defeat, Denton founded the Coalition for Decency and lectured about family causes. Denton also launched a humanitarian outreach to needy countries through his National Forum Foundation, which arranged shipments of donated goods.

“He was a war hero, an honorable senator, and a family man who cared deeply about his country,” said a statement from U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, who as a Democrat defeated Denton in 1986. Shelby switched to the GOP in 1994 and was elected to a fifth term in 2010.

Arizona Sen. John McCain, who also was held captive as a POW in Vietnam, described Denton as his mentor.

“As a senior ranking officer in prison, Admiral Denton’s leadership inspired us to persevere, and to resist our captors, in ways we never would have on our own,” McCain said.

In later years, Denton lived in Williamsburg, Va., but he still appeared at patriotic gatherings. In November 2008, an emotional Denton watched at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Ala., as a newly restored A-6 Intruder fighter/bomber — like the one he flew over North Vietnam — was rolled out in his honor.

Denton’s grandson, Edward, said that on one hand, Denton was a normal grandfather who enjoyed taking his grandchildren fishing aboard his boat in Mobile. “On the other hand,” he said, “he was a war hero and someone who set an example for being what being a good, patriotic American is all about.”


March 28, 2014

Washington Times on March 27, 2014, reported that US lawmakers are increasingly concerned about Russian troop movements on the border with Ukraine and the prospect of an additional land grab, as both houses of Congress voted to slap sanctions on Russia and extend loan guarantees to Ukraine. Excerpts below:

Pentagon officials briefed senior Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee that as many as 80,000 Russian troops may be massed just outside Ukraine, according to two congressional sources. That was more than twice the previous assessment.

“This buildup is significant and clearly indicates that President [Vladimir] Putin is creating options to potentially capture much of Eastern Ukraine and move on Kiev,” Rep. Michael R. Turner, Ohio Republican and a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

The International Monetary Fund also agreed to extend billions of dollars in financial assistance, and the U.N. General Assembly, in a surprising show of solidarity with Ukraine, voted to disavow the Russian annexation of Crimea last week.

In Ukraine, the interim prime minister warned that the country faces tough economic decisions in order to meet conditions for the IMF aid, The Associated Press reported.

Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister who was imprisoned under the previous regime, said she will make a run at the presidency,…

In Washington, lawmakers congratulated themselves for breaking a two-week standoff and passing bills that would codify sanctions on Russia and extend loan guarantees to Ukraine.

“I am not predicting that we will have a World War III. I am predicting that unless we act and act vigorously — a lot more than this legislation today — Vladimir Putin will be encouraged to take further actions,” said Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who has claimed leadership on the issue among Senate Republicans.

Even before they finalized their legislation, lawmakers were plotting their next moves.

Some senators want Mr. Obama to send small arms and communications equipment to Ukraine, whose armed forces are overpowered by Russia‘s. So far, U.S. assistance has been limited to food rations.

A bipartisan group of senators issued a letter on March 27 that called on Mr. Obama to impose sanctions and cancel contracts with a Russian arms firm, Rosoboronexport, which the senators said has been paid more than $1 billion over the past few years for helicopters.

Ukrainian National Security Council chief Andriy Parubiy said he, too, would like Western nations to sanction Rosoboronexport. He said sanctions should go beyond the government officials and businessmen with ties to Mr. Putin who have been targeted so far.

Mr. Parubiy also predicted that Russia will try to destabilize Ukraine ahead of the presidential election in May.

“Their task is to show that the Ukrainian government is illegitimate,” Mr. Parubiy said through a translator, speaking in Kiev in a live webcast interview hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington.

…U.S. lawmakers say their immediate goal is to prevent further Russian encroachment into Ukraine. The troops amassing along the border have stoked those worries.

Previous assessments estimated 30,000 troops on the border, conducting what Moscow called training exercises. But Pentagon officials told senior Republicans this week that as many as 80,000 troops may be stationed at the border.

Republicans have called for the U.S. to stiffen its own military posture in the region.

Intelligence community sources said they take the potential threat of a Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine seriously.

The U.N. General Assembly’s vote Thursday declared the independence referendum and Russian annexation invalid. The 100-11 vote, with 58 countries abstaining, is nonbinding, but Ukrainian officials said it showed Russia is isolated.


March 27, 2014

Business Intelligence on March 26, 2014, reported that details of a classified intelligence assessment viewed by CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr show a “more probable” likelihood that Russia could move into eastern Ukraine. Excerpts below:

With Russian military forces currently staging training exercises in Transdniestria, a breakaway sliver of Moldova, the House Armed Services Committee notes that Moscow may “invade eastern and southern Ukraine, pressing west to Transdinestria and also seek land grabs in the Baltics.”

“There is absolutely sufficient (Russian) force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Transdniestria if the decision was made to do that, and that is very worrisome,” NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove told Reuters on March 22.

Among new details about Russia’s possible intentions in the report:

• Russian troops on the border of eastern Ukraine — now more than 30,000 — number “significantly more” than what is needed for what Russia is calling a training exercise.

• These troops include a large number of motorized units, which have the ability to deploy quickly. There also appears to be a higher level of activity among special forces, airborne, and air transport troops inside Russia.

• Additional intelligence shows more Russian forces “reinforcing” the border region.

Writing in Politico on March 25, John Schindler, a former NSA counterintelligence officer, sees moves from Russia as the beginning of “Cold War 2.0.”

“Since the annexation of Crimea, Russian intelligence has reportedly been employing its playbook in eastern and southern Ukraine, using spies and operatives to stir up trouble among ethnic Russians and lay the groundwork for a future invasion by ‘self-defense militias’ backed by Russian troops,” he wrote.


March 26, 2014

Radio Free Europe on March 25, 2014, reported that NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has expressed concern about a large increase in Russian troops and armaments along Ukraine’s eastern frontier following its annexation of Crimea. Excerpts below:

“I can assure you that we are very much concerned about the Russian military buildup along the borders of Ukraine,” Rasmussen said. “We are, as an alliance, focused on providing effective deterrence and defense. And all NATO allies can be assured of our determination to provide effective defense.”

Speaking in Brussels on March 25, Rasmussen said NATO is ready to defend all its members and offer assistance to Kyiv.

“We are also in the process of discussing with Ukraine how we can enhance our support for Ukraine,” Rasmussen said.


March 25, 2014

FoxNews on March 24, 2014, reported that Charles Krauthammer said on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that the U.S. government should respond to Ukraine’s reported request for weapons, as it will deter Russia from continuing its aggression in the country. Excerpts below:

Krauthammer, a syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor, said the U.S. could be a big help in diffusing the situation if it gave Ukraine military arms.

“Putin now is sitting on the frontier of the rest of Ukraine. Specially eastern Ukraine. He has to calculate, is it gonna be worth an invasion?” he said.

“We are not giving him anything to alter his calculation. and that’s the scandal about our in action,” said Krauthammer.


March 24, 2014

FoxNews on March 23, 2014, reported that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers said that U.S. officials cannot predict what Russian President Vladimir Putin will do next, but Ukrainians “passionately think he’ll be on the move again.” Excerpts below:

“He goes to bed at night thinking of Peter the Great and he wakes up thinking of Stalin,” the Michigan Republican said about Putin on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Rogers also talked about a Ukraine resident being tortured, including nails driven through the palms of his hands, to learn whether the United States was behind the political upheaval.

“This is what we’re dealing with,” Rogers said.

He also suggested Putin will seize more territory if the United States isn’t “a little bit tougher” on him and that the Russian president going into neighboring Balkan States would be “more than troubling.”

He suggested that the United States, in addition to the new sanctions on Russia, send small arms, medical supplies and communications equipment to other countries that are potential Putin targets so they could “protect and defend themselves.”


March 23, 2014

Washington Times on March 19, 2014, reported on growing Russian subversion in eastern Ukraine. Russia’s military forces are not the only problem for Ukraine: Reports from the region indicate that Russian saboteurs are working to foment instability and increase pro-Russian sentiment, especially in the eastern part of the former Soviet republic. Excerpts below:

Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko told reporters in Kiev that security services are seeking to counter Russian sabotage groups in the southern and eastern regions.

Mr. Petrenko said intelligence has identified “specially trained sabotage groups for destabilizing the situation in the southern and eastern regions.” The groups are engaged in subversion, he said.

“At present, Ukraine’s security services are working out special measures for the liquidation and detention of these sabotage groups that are operating in the east,” Mr. Petrenko said, according to the Kiev online news outlet Ukrainska Pravda.

The Security Service of Ukraine, internal security forces known as SBU, told the Unian news agency that it had captured a Russian GRU military intelligence officer as part of a sweep of subversives.

The agent was arrested at a checkpoint near Kherson, north of Crimea, and was armed with an AKC-74 assault rifle and five magazines. He was dressed in the black uniform of the Russian special operations forces but without any Russian military insignia.

“The foreigner had on him several IDs issued for different names,” the security service said in a statement. “The SBU obtained a document confirming that the detainee is an employee of the military intelligence of the Russian Armed Forces.”

The service said the Russian was engaged in intelligence gathering and subversion in the Kherson region.

Military analysts said the captured commando is likely part of the two main military forces that took over the Crimea in early March. Those forces have been identified as elements of Russian 76th Guards Air Assault Division, based in Pskov near St. Petersburg, and a GRU special operations unit based at Kubinka, near Moscow.


March 22, 2014

CNN on March 20, 2014, reported that Russia’s annexation of Crimea could be just the first move in President Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical chess match with Ukraine, Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt told CNN. Excerpts below:

“I think that Crimea is the opening game,” he said. “It is not that President Putin is primarily interested in Crimea. He is interested in Ukraine.”

“If you read carefully what President Putin said in his big speech in the Kremlin the day before yesterday, what he says there about sort of historical claims and those sorts of things, apply not only to Crimea but also to southern parts of Ukraine.”

“That is where we should be extremely alert at the risk of President Putin moving further, even militarily, beyond Crimea.”

And in terms of his play for influence in Ukraine, Bildt thinks Putin’s goals know few bounds.

“I’m pretty convinced that his real agenda is not Crimea, but Kiev.”

“I think he is prepared to use both economic measures, subversion, and destabilizing issues…

It may not happen immediately, Bildt said, but Putin is “prepared to play this long.”