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A U.S.-led battalion of more than 1,100 soldiers will be deployed in Poland

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A U.S.-led battalion of more than 1,100 soldiers will be deployed in Poland from the start of April, a U.S. commander said on Monday, as the alliance sets up a new force in response to Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. More than 900 U.S. soldiers, around 150 British personnel and some 120 Romanian troops will make up the battlegroup in northeastern Poland, one of four multinational formations across the Baltic region that Russia has condemned as an aggressive strategy on its frontiers. Britain, Canada and Germany are leading the other three battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which are due to be operational by June. They will have support from a series of NATO nations including France. In total, some 4,000 NATO troops – equipped with tanks, armored vehicles, air support and hi-tech mission information rooms – will monitor for and defend against any potential Russian incursions.

Ukraine began missile-launch exercises near Crimea

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Russian Transport Minister, Maksim Sokolov, on the sidelines of the exhibition Transport of Russia, affirmed that the Russian Transport Ministry has observed no air incidents in the airspace over Crimea due to Ukraine’s missile launches. On Thursday morning, the Ukrainian military started missile exercises, including live launches, near Ukraine’s border with Crimea. The Russian aviation watchdog Rosaviatsia earlier said that Ukraine had unilaterally decided in violation of all international treaties to hold missile launches in Russia’s sovereign airspace near Crimea, in the area of civil and government planes’ routes. Yesterday, Rosaviatsia also affirmed that Ukraine issued a new “notification to airmen” (NOTAM) on Wednesday evening  to the effect it has moved the high-risk zones westwards, away from Russia’s territorial waters. The new zones were over international waters and Russia’s territorial waters are not affected.  At the same time, Russian warships from the Black Sea Fleet reportedly took up positions off the Crimean Peninsula to provide air defense.

Ukraine wants to organize missile-firing exercises over Crimea

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Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency Rosaviatsiya reported that Ukraine has made a unilateral decision to organize missile-firing exercises over Crimea, in the sovereign airspace of the Russian Federation. Rosaviatsiya affirmed that Kiev’s move breaches a number of international laws and agreements, adding that the military exersice will not only invade the Russian territory, but also the plans had not been coordinated with Moscow. Ukraine released an aviation notification on Thursday, activating “dangerous zones” in all flight levels near Crimea and the city of Simferopol for 1st and 2nd December. The dangerous areas include airspace above open sea which is in Russia’s area of responsibility, and over Russian territorial waters. Rosaviatsiya added that  Moscow is taking all the measures to provide security for the flights, the agency also said that Russia will be forced to ban all flights in the Crimea region if Ukraine doesn’t cancel the decision

Federal Security Service: ex-member of Russian Fleet detained in Crimea

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According to Federal Security Service, a former service member of the Russian Black Sea Fleet has been detained in Crimea on suspicion of gathering intelligence on the fleet’s activities and passing state secrets to Ukraine. A source to FSB (Federal Security Service) affirmed that on November 22, Russia’s Federal Security Service detained a former officer of the Black Sea Fleet headquarters, reserves Captain II rank Leonid Parkhomenko. The FSB said it opened a high treason case under the Russian Criminal Code and is conducting an investigation.  Early on Monday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said the Ukrainian Security Service officers had abducted Russian contract servicemen in Crimea , Maxim Odintsov and Alexander Baranov, and took them to Ukraine’s Nikolayev Region.

Ukraine: Russian soldiers “were armed, but had no orders to shoot”

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They caught fighting with the Donbass rebels. Despite the daily non-compliance of the ceasefire, the civil war is not going anywhere. Next winter could be crucial to Ukrainian national unity.

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“They were armed, but they had no orders to shoot. One of them said he had received orders from his military unit to go to Ukraine”. Today, th eOsce communcates it after two Russian soldiers were captured on Ukrainian soil while fighting alongside the pro-Russian militias on Monday, May18. After the arrival of military convoys last winter, intercepted by US satellites, this has definitely proved external interferences in the Donbass’ civil war. Interference which follows the video, of January 2015, whereas a US soldier was shot with Kiev’s army.

But the crisis in Ukraine still seems to be not going anywhere. Despite continuous clashes, especially near the airport of Donetsk and around the port city of Mariupol, confirm the no-compliance of the ceasefire declared by Minsk Protocol. The real showdown could take place next winter, when gas issue, supplied by Moscow, will become relevant again.

Meanwhile, the War has apparently become less Cold on the international front. The meetings in mid-May between the Secretary of State Kerry and President Putin, the first official visit on Russian soil since the crisis Ukrainian, show a willingness to dialogue between Washington and Moscow.

As well as having discussed the Syria case, the possible sale of Russian S-300 missiles to Iran and the Yemen war, Ukraine’s future was the main topic on the table. The US should want to entered in negotiating table consists of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany, which led to the Protocol of Minsk in February.

According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov, Kerry said that respect for these agreements should lead to the end of civil war in the Donbass. However Kiev’s desire to recover militarily Donetsk caused embarrassment.

The US military troops presence in the NATO base in Javorov (near the border with Poland) is a source of discord with Russia. Here, they are ongoing training of almost 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers from April.

The constant anti-Russian releases from the Ukrainian President and Prime Minister Poroshenko Yatseniuk also show how far is the solution to this crisis. On one side, Kiev accuses the Kremlin of having anti-Western aims and would economic and military aid to the United States and the European Union. On the other side, Moscow doesn’t want to give up the Russian-speaking regions (Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea), which is the reply to Nato military forces and armaments’ developement in the former Soviet countries.

Cold war issues, Putin’s place in Syria and in other geopolitical contexts will be crucial to possible the Russian-speaking regions independence from Ukraine.
Giacomo Pratali

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Giacomo Pratali
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