Donald Trump Meets Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko After Sanctioning Russian-Backed Separatists

President Donald Trump met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Tuesday as his administration imposed sanctions on Russian-backed separatists in the country. Trump said the two had “very, very good discussions,” calling Ukraine “a place that we’ve all been very much involved in.” Behind the scenes, the White House revealed that Trump and Poroshenko discussed support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced sanctions on two Russian officials and several separatists in Eastern Ukraine to support the Ukrainian amidst ongoing Russian-backed conflicts in the region. “This administration is committed to a diplomatic process that guarantees Ukrainian sovereignty, and there should be no sanctions relief until Russia meets its obligations under the Minsk agreements,” Mnuchin said Tuesday. Poroshenko said it was a “great pleasure” to meet with Trump to discuss issues important to Ukraine and called the president a “supporter and strategic partner” of the country. “We’re really fighting for freedom and democracy,” he said.

We’re thrilled to hear Trump is meeting with Petro!  Excellent!!    🙂

Inside the new effort to entomb Chernobyl’s wreckage

In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986, which resulted in radiation that ultimately reached as far as Japan and the US, the Soviet Union slapped together a massive sarcophagus of metal and concrete as hastily as possible to contain further fallout at the site of reactor 4. With no welded or bolted joints and a leaky roof that led to corrosion “hastening its demise,” it was never seen as a permanent solution, reports Live Science. Construction began on its enormous replacement, the New Safe Confinement, in 2012. Now French consortium Novarka is using 224 hydraulic jacks to slowly slide the steel structure 1,070 feet to cover the ruins in Ukraine. (The site is too dangerous to build over.) “The start of the sliding of the Arch over reactor 4 … is the beginning of the end of a 30-year-long fight with the consequences of the 1986 accident,” says Ukraine’s minister of ecology and natural resources, per the BBC. At 354 feet high, 531 feet wide, and 843 feet long, the $1.6 billion arch is taller than the Statue of Liberty and the largest man-made structure to ever move across land. It should last 100 years and withstand a tornado. Next, robotic cranes will take the sarcophagus apart and vacuum cleaners operated by remote workers will remove radioactive dust. The main sponsor of the project, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, plans to complete installation on Nov. 29, reports AFP. (Amid Chernobyl’s ruins, one thing of value remains.)

Analysis: Is Russia getting ready for general war with Ukraine?

Russia’s FSB, formerly the KGB, has accused Ukraine of two armed incursions into the Crimean Peninsula over the last few days. The Russian security agency says one Russian soldier and another FSB employee were killed. One supposed Ukrainian commando was arrested and a variety of light weapons were reportedly seized. President Vladimir Putin vowed “further security measures” in response to Ukraine’s “stupid and criminal” acts. Large amounts of Russian armor, military vehicles and troops were reported being seen moving from the Crimean crossing with Russia in the east, headed to the Ukrainian border area. “Russian accusations against Ukraine of terrorism in occupied Crimea sound as preposterous and cynical as the statements of the Russian leadership about the absence of Russian troops in the Donbass [region of rebel-held eastern Ukraine],” Petro Poroshenko said. “These fantasies are only a pretext for making more military threats against Ukraine,” reports the BBC. The Kremlin accused Ukraine of heavy fire across the Ukrainian border into Russian held territory and of attempted sabotage on Crimean infrastructure. Ukraine fears these incidents are simply fabricated as a way for Russia to take more Ukrainian territory in the absence of strong Western support for the embattled government in Kyiv. The conflict in East Ukraine smolders as well with recently the highest civilian and military casualties since the Minsk ceasefire was implemented. Mr. Putin is a master at escalation and deescalation. Perhaps he has decided the last few months of President Obama’s term are the time for escalation in pursuit of Russia’s foreign policy goals.

Vlad the bully is back at it..and yes, he’s taking advantage of Obama’s weakness and inaction.  The Obama administration needs to get off it’s collective butt, and take a MUCH more proactive and aggressive military posture with Moscow, while at the same time cultivating our relationship with Kiev.  It is in our national security interests to develop a military relationship with Ukraine, and Petro’s government.  For over two years here at The Daily Buzz we have strongly encouraged the Obama administration to take diplomatic, economic, and yes, military measures (i.e. expanded military exercises in Poland and eastern Europe, sharing military intelligence with Kiev, increasing military hardware sales to Kiev, parking an entire U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group in the Black Sea near Odessa, etc.) to push back against Vlad’s aggressive posture.  We cannot afford another Crimea..

New NATO supreme allied commander: Alliance should arm Ukraine

In a little covered news story that could have major ramifications for the geopolitical landscape, the new Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, says the alliance should possibly arm Ukraine in its struggle against pro-Russian separatists in East Ukraine. This is a game changer for the Kremlin and for U.S.-Russian relations. It’s hard to see the White House supporting these comments so late in the Obama administration after the U.S. has steadfastly refused to arm the Ukrainian military since the conflict started in 2014, except for non-lethal military supplies. But then again, a man at this level of command most likely would not make that kind of statement unless it had been cleared from the National Command Authority. “I do believe that we should support the Ukrainians with what they need to successfully defend their territory and their sovereignty,” Scaparrotti said, reported the Associated Press. “Now, I’ll take a look at that as the SACEUR, specifically because I need to assess what weapons are best, what capabilities they can use, what capabilities are complementary to their forces today,” Scaparrotti said. “And I’ll make the more refined decision here as I get into this job.” Ukraine is mired in the twin crisis’ of rooting out corruption and shoring up its finances while at the same time fighting a draining, never-ending, conflict on the Russian border against rebels supported by Moscow. Perhaps the National Security Staff at the White House has gotten tired of the endless killing and escalation, de-escalation perfected by the Kremlin. Or perhaps, General Scaparrotti is simply leading from behind. In either case, the situation requires monitoring.

Indeed..  And we will, here at The Daily Buzz.  Count on it!   🙂

Ukraine accuses separatists of violating Easter armistice

The Ukrainian government says one soldier has been killed and several troops wounded in the country’s east in what seems to be a violation of a recently brokered armistice. Both sides in the deadly conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists had agreed to observe a cease-fire with the start of the Orthodox Easter and May Day holidays. The armistice was supposed to go into effect at midnight Saturday. Sunday is Easter under the Orthodox Christian calendar. Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, spokesman for Ukraine’s operation in the east, said Sunday that the separatists had shelled its positions overnight at several locations, including the suburbs of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk. The separatist mouthpiece Donetsk News Agency reported shelling by government forces but said it occurred before the midnight deadline.

Here we go again…

3 people killed in eastern Ukraine amid renewed fighting

The Ukrainian government says three troops have been killed in the volatile eastern Ukraine over the past 24 hours. Oleksander Motuzyanik from the presidential administration told a briefing Sunday that what appears to be the worst death toll in months came after the troops were shelled by Russia-backed separatists’ heavy weaponry. Local officials in the government-controlled town of Maryinka reported an hour and a half of heavy fighting that forced an evacuation of workers repairing a gas main damaged by a previous attack. Fighting in eastern Ukraine between separatist rebels and government troops has claimed more than 9,100 lives since it erupted two years ago. Both sides have in the past weeks violated their pledges to adhere to a cease-fire, international monitors in the area have said.

Definitely something to keep an eye on…  As we’ve been saying here at The Daily Buzz for well over a year now..  We need to be offering our assistance to Petro’s government in Kiev; intelligence, ammo, U.S. Army Special Forces (SF) advisors (i.e. training, etc.).

Ukraine pushing back against fiscally weak Russia -IMF and EU at Ukraine’s back

Russia is hurting economically and Ukraine knows it. Ukraine is suffering massive financial stress as well, but it has the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU) on its side. Russia doesn’t, and Russia is running out of money. Sensing Russian economic weakness, Ukraine has decided to push to get it all back, Crimea and East Ukraine that is.. Ukraine plans soon to launch a fresh diplomatic initiative to recover the Crimean peninsula from Russia which annexed it in 2014, American-born Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko told Reuters on Wednesday. “We don’t agree that Crimea has gone. This will be the year we really begin pressing forward on a process to return Crimea,” Yaresko said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos. In East Ukraine, Russia seems to be pushing for a solution to a very expensive problem. Since Kiev halted government payments to citizens in the region, Moscow has picked up the tab. These transfer payments have become a burden the Kremlin no longer wants to bear. The social payments are in addition to military support. East Ukraine has become for Moscow similar to Ross Perot’s ‘giant sucking sound.’ The fact that Putin insider Vladislav Surkov recently met with Victoria Nuland in Kaliningrad to discuss East Ukraine and “brainstorm” for solutions, shows the Kremlin is serious about ending the conflict and the drain on the Kremlin’s resources at a time when they can least afford it. “That is was Surkov, and not [Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory] Karasin — Nuland’s counterpart — is very significant,” said foreign affairs expert Vladimir Frolov. “Surkov is a key decision-maker on the Donbass with the authority to make tactical adjustments to the Russian position,” reports The Moscow Times. In his first press conference of 2016, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he expected territory in the east held by Russian-backed rebels to return to Ukrainian control before the end of the year. At the same time, he said he hopes to set into motion mechanisms that would lead to the “de-occupation” of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. “Ukrainian sovereignty over the occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions must be restored this year,” he said. Speaking on the issue of Crimea, Mr. Poroshenko said he would propose “setting up an international mechanism for de-occupation of the peninsula” – an effort in which he plans to engage the European Union and the United States, reported Voice of America. “He [Putin] understands the need to soften Russia’s strained relations with the European Union, eventually leading to easing and then lifting of the EU sanctions on Russia and then changing the overall climate in the EU-Russia relationship,” said Dmitri Trenin, director of the Moscow Carnegie Center. “Now, in order to be able to do that, he needs to have the Minsk process completed by having the agreement implemented.” The sanctions are the key issue. Russia could have most likely withstood the economic pressure put in place by the West, due to Russia’s actions in Ukraine, with the price of crude oil at $100. However, with the price of a barrel of oil headed to $20, there is no way the Russian economy can survive as its currently structure long-term in this environment. In light of all of these geopolitical developments, Ukraine has decided to go on the offensive. In short, Ukraine wants its original country back. It is quite possible Kiev could get what it wants in East Ukraine. However, the Crimean Peninsula is another story altogether. The Putin government will never relinquish control of this territory. Mr. Putin has spent two years spraying the Russian public with a firehose of nationalist propaganda over the glories and historical significance of Crimea returning to Russian control. Losing this gambit would mean nothing less than the end of the current Kremlin regime. It’s possible Ukraine is just using the Crimean agenda as a negotiating tactic against Russian threats to sue Ukraine in a British court of the $3 billion bond payment Kiev recently defaulted on. However, dreams of a Ukrainian Crimea once again are just that — dreams. Russia will never let that happen.

We shall see…  Russian ego and arrogance may be swayed..  Guess we’ll see.

Ukrainian filmmaker, who opposed Crimea annexation, gets 20 years in prison

A Russian court has convicted a Ukrainian filmmaker of conspiracy to commit terror attacks and sentenced him to 20 years in prison Tuesday raising international concerns about the fairness of the trial. The court in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don said Tuesday that Oleg Sentsov had set up a terror cell in the Crimean Peninsula and was plotting attacks. Sentsov, a Crimean native, was a vocal opponent of Russia’s 2014 annexation of the peninsula which followed a hastily called referendum. Critics have dismissed his prosecution as revenge for his pro-Ukrainian position. “From the outset the in the international community has had concerns about both of the men’s access to a fair trial,” Britain’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office said in a statement. “These appear to be disproportionate and politically motivated charges.” Sentsov and Oleksandr Kolchenko have been detained since May 2014. Sentsov, who didn’t apply for Russian citizenship, was grabbed on a street in Crimea’s capital in May 2014 by Russian security officers and resurfaced days later in custody in Moscow. Earlier in the trial, Sentsov had pleaded not guilty and insisted that a Russian court had no jurisdiction.

Just awful.. Sounds like Moscow’s thought and speech police are out en force. If you dissent from the party line, then they’ll hunt you down.. Another example of Vlad’s tyranny on display. He wants to be the next Stalin..

Witnesses Claim Russia Amassing Heavy Firepower on Border with Ukraine

Russia’s army is massing troops and hundreds of pieces of weaponry including mobile rocket launchers, tanks and artillery at a makeshift base near the border with Ukraine, a Reuters reporter saw this week. Many of the vehicles have number plates and identifying marks removed while many of the servicemen had taken insignia off their fatigues. As such, they match the appearance of some of the forces spotted in eastern Ukraine, which Kiev and its Western allies allege are covert Russian detachments. The scene at the base on the Kuzminsky firing range, around 50 km (30 miles) from the border, offers some of the clearest evidence to date of what appeared to be a concerted Russian military build-up in the area. Earlier this month, NATO military commander General Philip Breedlove said he believed the separatists were taking advantage of a ceasefire that came into force in February to re-arm and prepare for a new offensive. However, he gave no specifics. Russia denies that its military is involved in the conflict in Ukraine’s east, where Moscow-backed separatists have been fighting forces loyal to the pro-Western government in Kiev. Russia’s defense ministry said it had no immediate comment about the build-up. Several soldiers said they had been sent to the base for simple military exercises, suggesting their presence was unconnected to the situation in Ukraine. Asked by Reuters if large numbers of unmarked weaponry and troops without insignia at the border indicated that Russia planned to invade Ukraine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said during a conference call with reporters: “I find the wording of this question, ‘if an invasion is being prepared’, inappropriate as such.”

The thug-acracy of Vlad doesn’t like being called out like that. We’ve been saying here at The Daily Buzz for over 11 months now, that the Obama Administration needs to do a WHOLE lot more to counter Vlad’s brazen aggression and global bullying. To that end, we’ve been calling on Obama and his minions to take a more assertive military posture, and we’ve outlined on numerous occassions substantive measures that the administration could take that would send a VERY clear message to Moscow. Thus far (and no surprise), the measures taken have been symbolic and timid, and project weakness….which is very dangerous.

US to train 750 Ukraine troops as Russian aggression continues

With Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine continuing, the White House announced Wednesday the U.S. will begin training 750 Ukraine troops. The news came after a phone call between Vice President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and coincided with Russians celebrating the first anniversary of their country’s annexation of Crimea. “Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade based in Vicenza, Italy, will conduct the National Guard training mission at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, in Yavoriv, which is in western Ukraine, near the border with Poland,” Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said. Another defense official told Fox News 290 U.S. paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade will begin training 750 Ukrainian soldiers in late April. The U.S. training exercise had been put on hold for fear of antagonizing Russian President Vladimir Putin. Originally, the plan involved a larger number of US soldiers going to Ukraine.

It’s about flippin time!!!  Here at The Daily Buzz, we’ve been calling on the Obama administration to do exactly this…for over eight months!!  As with anything Obama does militarily..  It’s nowhere near enough.  But, hey..  It’s something.  In the meantime, we need to park an entire U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group (CSG), and not just some random destroyer, in the Baltic.  That’s another of the many military suggestions we’ve been suggesting for a long time now.  Vlad has NO intention of slowing down, or scaling back his aggression.  So, we need to start seriously pushing back and letting him know we will NOT be bullied, and that we stand with Ukraine, and our friends in eastern Europe (i.e. Poland, etc.).