Simferopol Under Siege—Revisiting the Crimean Referendum

By Haneul Na’avi

The 7 August skirmish on the Crimean peninsula has ratcheted tensions between Ukraine and Russia, calling into question Kyiv’s legitimacy and claims to the territory. Currently, both nations are on high alert as they boost their military defences following a terrorist plot sanctioned by the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF).

“[The] FSB received a warning from Armyansk locals, who had reported on some suspicious people in military uniforms in their town,” and “detected some 20 people in the area, who were loading explosives and weapons from their hideout. Once the suspects noticed the Russian security forces, they immediately opened fire, shooting to kill,” RT reports.

FSB
FSB agents investigate terrorists in Crimea [PHOTO: The Duran]

Acting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s immediate, scripted reaction was to deny involvement. “Russian accusations that Ukraine has launched terror attacks in occupied Crimea are as cynical and insane as its claims that there are no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. These fantasies have only one goal: a pretext for more military threats against Ukraine,” UNIAN reports.

Nevertheless, Poroshenko’s statements are at cross purposes with Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, who chauvinistically asserted the opposite just months before.

“We have nothing. We need a new army, a new National Guard, a new police force. This is what the government of Ukraine is working on right now. We must restore all of this, and then, with enough will, Crimea will be ours,” Avakov mentioned. Continuing, he noted that “Kiev is currently training a separate special force within the Ukrainian National Guard,” Press TV stated.

These contradictions elucidate that Kyiv authorities are simply losing control of their defence forces. The UAF—a loose confederation of over 50 volunteer batallions—simply lack the skills and coordination to best the Russian FSB and infiltrate the Crimean peninsula.

This became evident on 8 Sept. 2014, during the onset of hostilities, after Amnesty International released a scathing report documenting the lawlessness of the Aidar Battalion and other Ukrainian paramilitary groups’, as they committed increasingly brutal human rights violations in the Russian-speaking Donbas region in a manner compared to Islamic State.

“Our findings indicate that, while formally operating under the command of the Ukrainian security forces combined headquarters in the region members of the Aidar battalion act with virtually no oversight or control, and local police are either unwilling or unable to address the abuses,” Amnesty International remarked.

Ironically, Marcin Mamon of The Intercept wrote a groundbreaking series of articles on how the Kyiv government began overlooking Ukrainian collaborations with Islamic State.

“Ostensibly state-sanctioned, but not necessarily state-controlled, some have been supported by Ukrainian oligarchs, and others by private citizens. Less talked about, however, is the Dudayev battalion, named after the first president of Chechnya, Dzhokhar Dudayev, and founded by Isa Munayev, a Chechen commander who fought in two wars against Russia,” Mamon highlighted.

Due to a long list of violations, Russian-Ukrainian relations remains in utter disarray and has come to a volatile showdown as the UAF advances southward to the Isthmus of Perekop, violating the Minsk agreements along with the self-determination of Crimean citizens.

Continue reading Simferopol Under Siege—Revisiting the Crimean Referendum

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Article: THAAD’s Enough — An Analysis of the Pentagon’s Latest Asia Pivot Boondoggle

By Haneul Na’avi
Source: The Duran

Trolling-in-real-life has become the State Department’s favourite pastime, and recent developments on the Korean peninsula have given the State Department the perfect impetus to further political agitation. Various Pentagon mouthpieces cited North Korea’s semi-successful BM25 Musudan missile tests as potential concern for regional security and in response, coerced Park Geun-Hye into accepting a shiny new Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system to the bemusement of South Korean protesters in the Seongju province. Whilst rightfully acknowledging that the deployment was “a very sensitive issue for the partners throughout the region”, US Defence Secretary Ash Carter ensured that the US was “working closely to ensure the swift deployment of THAAD”, a Defence News article noted.

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Seongju residents protest against Park Geun-Hye’s acceptance of THAAD technology [PHOTO: SOTT]

Regional superpowers Russia and China have also rightfully expressed concerns over the THAAD systems citing America’s Asian Pivot strategy—which feeds off of Pyongyang’s oscillation between brinkmanship and detente—which advanced immediately following the UNCLOS arbitration over the South China Sea. Many shortsighted Western newspapers even admonished Park’s pivot to American defences, rather than focusing on the long-term specifics of doing so. “The appearance of elements of the US global missile defence system in the region […] can provoke an arms race in Northeast Asia and complicate the resolution of the nuclear problem on the Korean peninsula,” the Russian Foreign Ministry mentioned.

He Yafei of the China Daily also referenced two neocon American professors who cheerleadered for America’s Asian pivot and hailed it as “a superior ‘grand strategy’ to be applied seriously by the US in East Asia and Europe in order to contain the two rising powers”, namely by relying “on local powers to contain China’. If unsuccessful, the report advises the US to “throw its considerable weight behind them’”. That “considerable weight” was reallocating defence funds from backing the Syrian “moderate Mafia” and the Turkish pivot back to Russia, to creating mischief in the SCS in order to counteract increasing rapprochement between Japan and Russia, as well as China and the Philippines.

Continue reading Article: THAAD’s Enough — An Analysis of the Pentagon’s Latest Asia Pivot Boondoggle

Natural gas pipeline pullout bad news for Vermont economy

A gas pipeline in Columbia [PHOTO: Nuttall Legal]
VERNON, Vt. — The suspension of the $3.3 billion Kinder Morgan pipeline through southern New England may have substantial economic implications for Vermont and the region.

Kinder Morgan on Monday backed out of its proposed Northeast Energy Direct pipeline, formally withdrawing a federal application to transport low-cost natural gas from Pennsylvania to New England. A company statement said the project had “inadequate capacity commitments from prospective costumers.”

The development comes as bad news for the town of Vernon, Vermont, which had been pursuing a 700-megawatt natural gas plant. The plant would have produced more power than the now-defunct Vermont Yankee, a 620-megawatt nuclear power plant.

“Obviously we want to see the town succeed, and the non-binding vote was very decisive among people who wanted to see further discussions. … We were dependent upon Kinder Morgan running that pipeline,” said Tim Arsenault, Vernon’s town clerk.

State Rep. Cynthia Browning, D-Arlington, said the suspension is a lost opportunity for economic development and low-cost energy in Vermont.

“Certainly if a plant like that had come to Vernon it would have helped in terms of its tax revenue, and it would have helped Vermont ratepayers as a source of electricity.”

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