The Jamestown Foundation discusses
According to an interview with Ukraine’s Ambassador to Russia Konstantyn Hryshchenko, the country’s bilateral relationship with Russia has sunk to its lowest level since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, testimony to the Russian state control of the media and its ideological crusade against Ukraine (www.profil-ua.com, June 6).
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) is openly raising the question of the intensification of Russian intelligence activities within Ukraine, and Russia’s return to Soviet KGB tactics. This concern was expressed in SBU chairman Valentyn Nalyvaychenko’s comment that the FSB within the Black Sea Fleet should withdraw from the Crimea (www.radiosvoboda, June 2). Nalyvaychenko explained that one of the functions of the SBU was counter-espionage, and that was why they did not agree with the FSB being based in the Fleet.
The main suspects of the murder in Odessa on April 17 of a student member of the Ukrainian nationalist NGO Sich, Maksym Chayka, belong to the “Antifa(scist)” NGO financed by the Russian nationalist Rodina party. The presidential secretariat requested that the SBU investigate their activities to discover if they are coordinated “with foreign organizations of an anti-Ukrainian orientation” (www.president.gov.ua, April 22). The SBU appealed to the justice ministry to consider if there were grounds to revoke Rodina’s registration, based on among things, their link to organized crime and financing from abroad. The suspects have fled to Russia.
These views of Ukraine’s “artificiality” and “fragility” remain deeply rooted within the Russian mindset, and explain the state orchestrated campaign depicting Ukraine as a “failed state” that requires international supervision. Putin described Ukraine as an “artificial” entity with lands given to it by Russia and the USSR during his speech to the NATO-Russia Council in Bucharest in April 2008. The March 16 issue of Russian political scientist Gleb Pavlovsky’s Ruskyi Zhurnal was devoted to “Will Ukraine Lose its Sovereignty?” (www.russ.ru).
Ukraine’s former Ambassador to the United States Yuriy Shcherbak, wrote a lengthy analysis of the campaign conducted by senior Russian officials. Shcherbak believes that the aim is an “ideological-propaganda preparation of a future operation for the seizure of the territory of a sovereign state” (Den, May 26).
And as with Georgia, the analyst suggests that the Obama administration may be turing a blind eye to developments in its ongoing effort to “reset” relations with Moscow.
The Canadian navy said Wednesday one of its patrol helicopters scared off pirates attacking a commercial vessel with small arms fire a day earlier in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Somalia.
A Sea King helicopter from the Canadian frigate Calgary “intervened in an ongoing piracy attack on a commercial vessel” about 65 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, the navy said in a statement.
The Calgary, one of three Canadian warships currently assigned to safeguard ships transiting the area, had received a “broken call for assistance” from the vessel under attack.
Russian Navy ships are ready to set off for the shores of Somalia, where pirates have captured the crew of the Dutch ship Amiya Scan, among them a Russian, in the event a political decision is taken to do so, according to Kapitan First Rank Igor’ Dygalo.
“In the event higher leadership makes the political decision to send Russian Navy ships to the shores of Somalia, the fleet is unconditionally ready to carry out the decision”, noted the Navy representative.
Dygalo added that “use of force in any case is a measure of last resort”.
Pirates operating along the Somali coast have detained the 9 man crew of the Dutch ship Amiya Scan, among them the captain and three officers are from Russia and the rest are Filipino sailors.
Acts of piracy and terrorism at sea are on the rise, but there is little evidence to support concerns from some governments and international organizations that pirates and terrorists are beginning to collude with one another, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today.
The objectives of the two crimes remain different — piracy is aimed at financial gain while the goal of terrorism is political. Although both events are increasing, piracy is growing much faster and remains far more common than seaborne terrorism, according to the report.
“The maritime environment will likely remain a favorable theater for armed violence, crime and terrorism given its expanse, lack of regulation and general importance as a critical conduit for international trade,” said Peter Chalk, author of the study and a senior political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “While there is no quick fix for eliminating all of this, we can rationally manage the threats within acceptable boundaries.”
Russia’s parliament on Wednesday recommended that the Kremlin consider pulling out of a friendship treaty with Ukraine if the ex-Soviet state takes further steps to join NATO. Parliament’s resolution is not binding and the Kremlin has not expressed its position, but the move is likely to add to pressure on Ukraine days before its pro-Western leader meets Russia’s new President Dmitry Medvedev.
Moscow is opposed to Ukraine joining NATO, saying that would threaten Russian security and jeopardise an arrangement under which Russia leases Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Sevastopol as a base for its navy. The pro-Kremlin parliament recommended the government withdraw from a 1997 friendship treaty if Ukraine is given a NATO Membership Plan, a roadmap to membership, or other steps are taken to speed up its accession to the alliance.
The U.S. military on Thursday plans to intercept a ballistic missile in its first sea-based missile defense test since the USS Lake Erie shot down an errant satellite in a real-world mission earlier this year.
The test, off Kauai, is the latest test of the military’s sea-based missile defenses, called the Aegis ballistic missile defense program.
The military will fire a Scud-like missile, which has a range of a few hundred miles, from a decommissioned amphibious assault ship, the USS Tripoli.
USS Lake Erie, a Pearl Harbor-based Navy cruiser, will fire two interceptor missiles at the target with the intention of shooting it down in its final seconds of flight.
For the next year and a half, Canada’s Navy will have only one submarine at sea from its small fleet of four troubled, second-hand Victoria Class boats, Canwest News Service has learned.
And the damaged HMCS Chicoutimi might not be seaworthy until as late as 2012 – two years longer than officials said it would take for repairs – meaning it will have been mothballed for eight years, according to documents recently released under the Access to Information Act.
Canada’s purchase of four used submarines from Britain for nearly $900 million, 10 years ago, has been dogged by controversy, technical setbacks and one notable tragedy – the 2004 fire that grounded the Chicoutimi after claiming the life of one sailor and injuring eight others.
The Commander in Chief of the Russian Navy, Vladimir Vysotskiy is planning to increase the number of combat ships in Sevastopol’. Also, without waiting for a political decision about the fate of the Black Sea Fleet (BSF), he is already thinking about re-basing the BSF in the Mediterranean basin after 2017. Military experts consider the idea of rebasing the fleet to be rational, but consider the announcement to increase the number of vessels to be nothing more than populism. Since Russia doesn’t have any ships to spare the only way to increase the numbers in the BSF would be to take ships from other fleets.
Since Soviet times there has been a navy repair base in the Syrian port of Tartus. Right now it is a temporary deployment base for the BSF (for about a dozen warships) and there are three floating docks and the repair tender PM-61. Russian specialists are also working on expansion of the port and the construction of a pier in the neighboring port of Al-Latakia. The repair base could potentially receive the designation of basing point and then Navy Base.