Saturday, March 15, 2014

Crimea Referendum Updates with Ukraine situation examined in detail March 15 , 2014 ...... With the expected failure of the last minute talks between US Secretary of state Kerry and Russia's Foreign Minister Lavrov 's the next steps are the imminent Referendum with the expected vote in favor of Crimea joining the Russian Federation ...... What remains to been is what that entails for russian citizens in Eastern and Southeastern Ukraine who may inclined to join Crimea , what the next steps will be from the fledgling Ukraine Government , what manner of Western sanctions an reciprocal Russian sanctions are unrolled next week , whether any violent provocations occur which may " encourage those russian tanks to roll west into Ukraine ( and what happens in that event ? )

White House on March 15 , 2014..... Where in the world is Ptus that he can't make such an important meeting ? Wasn't he " invited " ?

"Obama Did Not Attend The Meeting", Or In A Moment Of Crisis The President Stands Resolute

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... in the sand trap.
Spot the pattern. From March 1, 2014, the day Russia announced it would send armed forces in Crimea:
President Barack Obama's national security team met on Saturday for an update on the situation in Ukraine and to discuss potential policy options, a senior Obama administration official said. The meeting came as Ukraine asked the United States and other key members of the U.N. Security Council to help safeguard its territorial integrity after Russia announced plans to send armed forces into the country's autonomous Crimea region. 

Obama did not attend the meeting, but he has been briefed about it by his national security adviser, Susan Rice, and his national security team, an official said.
Fast forward to today, March 15, 2014, the day Russia is said to have "invaded" East Ukraine, and the day before Crimea's critical referendum which may cement the second coming of the Cold War.
President Barack Obama's national security team discussed the Ukraine crisis in a session at the White House on Saturday after Secretary of State John Kerry's return from talks with his Russian counterpart in London.

Obama did not attend the meeting but was being briefed about it and other developments involving Ukraine, said Laura Lucas Magnuson, a spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council.
Because obviously there are more pressing matters at hand like pitching Obamacare to toddlers, and because there is always time for 18 holes before World War III. And let's not forget, nobody does a better job of explaining to Vladimir Vladimirovich the "costs" of showing the world just how much of a laughing stock US foreign policy has become.


Ukraine Claims 'Invasion' By Russian Forces — White House 'Concerned'

Ukraine Russia
A pro-Russian soldier is back dropped by Russia's flag while manning a machine-gun outside an Ukrainian military base in Perevalne, Ukraine.
The White House said Saturday it was "concerned" about apparent Russian attempts to "increase tension," as Ukraine said Russian forces had moved on regions outside of Crimea for the first time.
"We remain concerned about any attempt by Russia to increase tensions or threaten the Ukrainian people, and as we have long said, if Russia continues to take escalatory steps there will be consequences," National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement provided to Business Insider.
The White House's latest warning to Russia came after Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused Russia of an "invasion" of its mainland — and the day before a controversial referendum is set to determine if Crimea splits from Ukraine.
In a statement, Ukraine's foreign ministry said 80 Russian troops supported by four helicopter gunships and three armed combat vehicles seized a gas-pumping station near the village of Strilkove. The village sits in the region just north of Crimea, and appeared to be the first move by Russian forces outside Crimea. Russian forces have occupied Crimea for much of the last month.
The foreign ministry further declared in its statement that it "reserves the right to use all necessary measures to stop the military invasion by Russia," and demanded that Russia "immediately withdraw its military forces from the territory of Ukraine."
An unnamed Russian official told The Telegraph the move had been made to guard against "terrorist attacks." Russia's foreign ministry said, meanwhile, it had received "many requests" to protect people in Ukraine.
Tensions have increased in regions outside of Crimea recently. At least one person died and 17 were wounded in clashes in the city of Donetsk on Thursday. Many observers, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Saturday, have accused Russian provocateurs of attacking Ukrainians.
Crimea is set to hold a referendum on Sunday that will determine whether the region secedes from Ukraine. It is largely expected Crimea will vote to secede from Ukraine and possibly vote in favor of annexation with Russia.
In New York on Saturday, Russia vetoed a U.S.-led resolution at the United Nations Security Council that would have declared the referendum illegal. The U.S. and other Western countries view the referendum as illegitimate and illegal, and have threatened Russia and President Vladimir Putin with sanctions.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met for approximately six hours on Friday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, but there was no progress toward a "common vision" on Ukraine.
Kerry said Lavrov made it clear Putin would not make any further decisions on Ukraine until after the referendum on Sunday. Kerry reiterated, however, that the United States and the international community would not recognize the expected results of the referendum. 
"That is a decision of enormous consequence with respect to the global community," he said.
Lavrov said after the meeting with Kerry that Russia "doesn't and can't have any plans to invade southeastern regions of Ukraine."

The game is afoot ......

Ukraine Says It Has Repelled A Russian Army Attempt To Enter Region Adjacent To Crimea

Tyler Durden's picture

With a day left until the critical, if widely expected, results from the Crimean referendum are revealed, it is worth recalling the main footnote in last night's State Department travel alert for Russia: "all U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the border region, specifically the regions bordering Ukraine in Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, and Rostov Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai, should be aware of the potential for escalation of tensions, military clashes (either accidental or intentional)." See, for the purpose of a military provocation, "accidental" will do. It is therefore not surprising to see that moments ago all major news wires blasted the following headline, quoting the Ukraine ministry of defense:
The incursion allegedly took place in the Ukraine region of Kherson, neighboring the Crimea.
Here is the full google translated statement from the Ministry website:
Another provocation on the part of members of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has failed.

Today, 15 March 2014, forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine halted the penetration of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Kherson Oblast from the "Arabatka." Response was made immediately.
So the official line is that the Ukraine repelled a Russian "military force" in a region inside east Ukraine and out of Crimea the day after Russia's foreign minister Lavrov said Russia has no plans to Invade Ukraine? Call us cynical, but something tells us if Russians wanted to "penetrate" east Ukraine, the would have done so without "being repelled."
Either way, here is Reuters' take:
Ukraine's military scrambled aircraft and paratroops on Saturday to repel an attempt by Russian forces to enter a long spit of land belonging to a region adjacent to Crimea, Ukraine's defence ministry said.

"Units of Ukraine's armed forces today...repelled an attempt by servicemen of the armed forces of the Russian Federation to enter the territory of Kherson region on Arbatskaya Strelka," a ministry statement said. "This was repelled immediately."

It said the Ukrainian military used aircraft, ground forces and its aeromobile battalion in the operation. The territory in question is a long spit of land running parallel to the east of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, now controlled by Russian forces.
But just so Russia isn't accused of being inert, moments ago it too re-escalate the war of words and provocations, either accidental or intentional, and stated that:
Specifically, the Russian Foreign Ministry says in website statement that it will examine Ukrainians’ requests. Armed radicals are heading to eastern Ukrainian cities of Donetsk, Lugansk. Radicals provoked 2 deaths at pro-Russian rally in Kharkiv. The full statement is below:
On March 14 in Kharkov Ukraininan elements including the "Right Sector" arranged provocation against peaceful demonstrators who came to express their attitude to the so-called new government. As a result, the militants opened fire, killing two people, some were injured.

Of disturbing information that from Kharkov Donetsk and Lugansk left column with armed mercenaries "right sector" , whose leaders have announced the opening of the "Eastern Front" , and on one of the garment factories in Russia urgently sew uniforms.

At the risk of making the Verkhovna Rada of legitimizing the "right sector " and other radicals by converting them into system power structures like the National Guard
paid attention Secretary of State John Kerry Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during their meeting in London on 14 March . of While Lavrov urged John Kerry to use Washington's influence on Kiev to curb rampant ultra- nationalists.

Russia To receive many calls asking to protect civilians. These applications will be considered.
Meanwhile in Crimea, the Russian flag is already flying above the Crimean Supreme Council:
And finally, just in case things weren't exciting enough, the US appears to finally be flexing its muscles too.
From Reuters:
The USS Truxtun, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer, will carry out more exercises with allied ships in the Black Sea, its commander said on Saturday, in a further sign of the international response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.Commander Andrew Biehn was briefing reporters aboard the 300-crew destroyer as it lay docked in a Bulgarian port.

The USS Truxtun last week took part in drills with Romanian and Bulgarian ships a few hundred miles from Russian forces that entered Ukraine's Russian-majority of Crimea after mass protests toppled the country's pro-Moscow president.
If all this has happened while it is still light in Ukraine and before the Crimean referendum, we can't wait until darkness falls on Sunday night.


Russia Vetoes, China Abstains From UN Security Council Resolution On Ukraine

Tyler Durden's picture

In a rather concerning (though not entirely surprising) turn of events, the United Nations (which may well need to be renamed after this) is making headlines:
And then the US comes over the top:
Well ,  "isolated and alone" with China?

View image on Twitter
: ' stands isolated in this Council & in the intl comm' 'ball is firmly in Russia's court'

It is hardly surprising since the UN Resolution declared Sunday's referendum on Crimea as invalid but China's abstention makes it clear that the 2nd largest economy in the world is in no way supportive of the West's plans and is siding more with Russia (albeit in a diplomatically safe way - for now).

Here is The Diplomat's Wei Zongyou onChina's potential role to offer some constructive diplomacy to resolve the impasse:
Though far away from China, and definitely not affecting China’s “core interests,” Ukraine crisis is increasingly placing China in a diplomatic dilemma. On the one hand,  the crisis aggravated by the “peaceful entry” of Russian soldiers into Crimea and the latter’s plan to break away from Ukraine through a referendum is diametrically opposed to China’s long-held principle and position of non-interference and anti-separatism; on the other hand, if China sympathizes with Kiev’s new government or the West’s view of point, it will surely alienate Russia, with which China has forged close strategic relations in recent years. What’s more, as Russia and the United States are both wooing China for support and as the situation in Ukraine goes from bad to worse, how could China still stand on the fence while not alienating either and transgressing on its own long held principle?
In view of the delicacy of the situation and the inherent dilemma, China’s response, so far, has been very cautious and intentionally ambiguous. However, as the United States and Europe push for tougher measures and sanctions against Russia, and if Kiev decides to put its case before the UN Security Council, which would seem very likely, China’s diplomatic leeway will be increasingly squeezed.Beijing will have to make its position more clearly heard and play a more active role, as new Foreign Minister Wang Yi suggestedat a People’s Congress press conference.
The good news is that there is still some room for diplomacy:
First, neither the West nor Russia wants war, even cold war. For a post-modern Europe, a war with a nuclear-armed Russia is unthinkable. Even a cold war of some form would be unbearably costly, if not an outright disaster, for the struggling European economy. Britain, France and Germany each have huge economic interests with Russia. The budget-constrained Obama administration, meanwhile, just doesn’t have the means or the will to wage or even imagine a small, conventional war with Russia. For Russia, although it is disillusioned with the West, it is not prepared physically or psychologically to have a war, hot or cold, with Western powers.

Second, the United States, Europe and Russia all want to find a reasonable way out of the current crisis, as of course does the Ukraine government. No doubt, Russia’s action in Crimea surprised both the U.S. and Europe, which find themselves pressed by world opinion to take firm action, even though they are not prepared and reluctant to do so. And while they push for some kind of economic sanctions against Russia, they still don’t want to shut the door of negotiation and push Moscow into corner. As for Russia, though it did expect some resentment and criticism from the West, it is not prepared to face the prospect of tough economic sanctions and political isolation. If offered a decent solution, Russia will not be foolhardy.

Third, an autonomous Crimea within Ukraine, within which Russia’s military presence can be guaranteed, is in the best interests of Ukraine, Russia and the international community. Under the current situation, what worries Kiev most is the possible loss of Crimea and the Russian threat to its territorial sovereignty and integrity. In its turn, Russia’s nightmare is a pro-West Ukraine, hostile to Russia and opposed to its military presence in Crimea. If each can get what it wants to and avoid what it fears, a solution may be found.
Given these common interests, China can play an active role in facilitating a diplomatic solution to the current crisis.
First, China could embark on a quiet diplomacy, taking advantage of its close strategic relations with Russia. At present, in the shadow of looming economic sanctions from the U.S and Europe, the chance of Russia backing down in bilateral or multilateral dialogues with the West is very slim. Russian President Vladimir Putin is not going to bow to the West because of sanctions. However, if China can quietly offer Russia a helping hand, talking from the perspective of a close friend of what is in Russia’s best interest concerning Ukraine, something Putin knows better than anybody else, the perhaps the Russian president will be more willing to listen. And Chinese President Xi Jinping can reciprocate Putin’s phone call and offer his advice as a friend.

Second, if Putin is interested in China’s advice, Beijing should seek Washington’s promise or even guarantee of the status of Russian military base in Crimea and the cancellation of economic sanctions.

Third, once a promise or even guarantee is secured, China should work together with Germany, whose position and attitudes are somewhat different from those of the United States and other European countries, to persuade Russia to de-escalate the situation and seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Of course, if Russia is unwilling to take China’s advice as a friend, Beijing should also be straight with Moscow, telling it that China will not be comfortable with, let alone support, the secession of Ukraine territory, which would be contrary to China’ s long-held principle. And Beijing should also be frank in conveying that Russia cannot count on China’s vote if the case of Crimea’s independence or secession is put before the Security Council by the Ukraine government.

And indeed they did not get their vote - but clearly China is still playing the game with their abstention.


Here’s a statement from the Ukraine foreign office on the Russian incursion.
Statement of the MFA of Ukraine with respect to assault landing of the Russian Armed Forces in the Kherson region on March 15

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine expresses its strong and categorical protest against the landing on March 15, 2014 near the village Strilkove, Kherson region of troops of the Russian Federation Armed Forces in a number of 80 military personnel, and seizure of the village Strilkove with the support of 4 helicopter gunships and 3 armored combat machines.

Ukraine Foreign Ministry declares the military invasion by Russia and demands the Russian side immediately withdraw its military forces from the territory of Ukraine.

Ukraine reserves the right to use all necessary measures to stop the military invasion by Russia.

Russia said Saturday it was reviewing “many requests” for protection from people in Ukraine, reports AFP. 
The statement from Moscow, coming on the eve of a hugely controversial Sunday referendum on Crimea’s fate, indicates that Russia may deploy troops to elsewhere in Ukraine besides the Russian-speaking peninsula.
“Russia is receiving many requests to protect peaceful citizens” in Ukraine, the foreign ministry said in a statement. “These requests will be considered.”
“Militants including from Pravy Sektor are continuing to behave in an outrageous manner,” it said, referring to the radical Right Sector group whose members were at the forefront of last month’s protests that ended in the ouster of pro-Kremlin president Viktor Yanukovych.
“We are getting alarming reports that a column with armed mercenaries from the Right Sector... has left Kharkov for Donetsk and Lugansk,” the ministry said, referring to Russian-speaking cities in eastern Ukraine.
The foreign ministry, claiming that a garment factory, apparently in Ukraine, was producing Russian military uniforms, hinted at possible action by provocateurs posing as Russian soldiers.
Two people were killed and several were injured in Kharkiv when nationalists opened fire on a group of men trying to storm their headquarters late on Friday.
The Kharkiv clashes came after a young man was killed in Donetsk during rallies.
Following the latest attack, the Russian foreign ministry urged Ukraine to outlaw nationalist groups.
Earlier this week Moscow said it reserved the right to protect its compatriots in Ukraine in case of attacks.

Have  Russia and Russian companies preemptively taken much of their money out of the West and Western Banks ( Central and Private ? ) The answer seems to be yes , just as Western banks and investors have pulled money out of russian  equity markets and bonds  as fears of reciprocal sanctions cause prudent steps to be taken ! One clear winner - China !

The Russians Have Already Quietly Pulled Their Money From The West

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Earlier today we reported that according to weekly Fed data, a record amount - some $105 billion - in Treasurys had been sold or simply reallocated (which for political reasons is the same thing) from the Fed's custody accounts, bringing the total amount of US paper held at the Fed to a level not seen since December 2012. While China was one of the culprits suggested to have withdrawn the near USD-equivalent paper, a far likelier candidate was Russia, which as is well-known, has had a modest falling out with the West in general, and its financial system in particular. Turns out what Russian official institutions may have done with their Treasurys (and we won't know for sure until June), it was merely the beginning. In fact, as the FT reports, in silent and not so silent preparations for what will be near-certain financial sanctions (which would include account freezes and asset confiscations following this Sunday's Crimean referendum) the sneaky Russians, read oligarchs, have already pulled billions from banks in the west thereby essentially making the biggest western gambit - that of going after the wealth of Russia's 0.0001% - moot.
Russian companies are pulling billions out of western banks, fearful that any US sanctions over the Crimean crisis could lead to an asset freeze, according to bankers in Moscow.

Sberbank and VTB, Russia’s giant partly state-owned banks, as well as industrial companies, such as energy group Lukoil, are among those repatriating cash from western lenders with operations in the US. VTB has also cancelled a planned US investor summit next month, according to bankers.

The flight comes as last-ditch diplomatic talks between Russia’s foreign minister and the US secretary of state to resolve the tensions in Ukraine ended without an agreement.

Markets were nervous before Sunday’s Crimea referendum on secession from Ukraine. Traders and businesspeople fear this could spark western sanctions against Russia as early as Monday.
It probably will. What it will also do is force Russia to engage China far more actively in bilateral trade and ultimately to transact using either Rubles or Renminbi, and bypass the dollar. Perhaps even using gold, something which the price of the yellow metal sniffed out this week, pushing itself to 6 month highs. It will also make financial ties between the two commodity-rich nations even closer, while further alienating that "imperialist devil," the US.
Of course, the west thinking like the west, and assuming that all that matters to Russia is the closing level of the Micex, believes that a sufficient plunge in Russian stocks would have been enough to deter Putin. After all, the only thing everyone in the US cares about is if the S&P 500 closed at yet another all time high, right?
What the west didn't realize, as we predicted a month ago, for Putin it is orders of magnitude more important to have the price of commodities, primarily crude and gas, high than seeing the illusion of paper wealth, aka stocks, hitting all time highs. Especially since in Russia an even smaller portion of the population cares about the daily fluctuations of the stock market. As for the oligarchs, if there is someone who will be delighted to see their power, wealth and influence impacted adversely, if only for a short period of time, it is Vladimir Vladimirovich himself, whom the west misjudged massively once more. Not to mention that the general population will be even more delighted, and boost Putin's rating even higher, if these crony billionaires are made to suffer by the west, if only a little.
(Here we would be remiss not to comment on his easy it supposedly is for Obama to freeze the assets of a few corrupt Russian billionaires, and yet the very proud Americans who nearly brought the entire financial system to the brink in 2008, are now richer than ever.)
In the meantime, some of Russia's oligarchs are effectively welcoming the challenge. Bloomberg reports:
Alisher Usmanov, the country’s richest person, controls his most valuable asset, Metalloinvest Holding Co., Russia’s largest iron ore producer, through three subsidiaries, one of which is located in Cyprus, an EU member nation. The 60-year-old also owns a Victorian mansion in London that he bought in 2008 for $70 million, according to a May 18, 2008, Sunday Times newspaper report. He’s lost $1.5 billion since the crisis began, according to the Bloomberg ranking.

“We are concerned with the possible sanctions against Russia but don’t see any dramatic repercussions for our business,” Ivan Streshinsky, CEO at USM Advisors LLC, which manages Usmanov’s assets, including stakes in Megafon OAO and Mail.Ru Group Ltd., said in an interview at Bloomberg’s offices in Moscow today.

“Mail.Ru and Megafon revenue is coming from Russia and people won’t stop making calls and using the Internet,” he said.“Metalloinvest may face closure in European and American markets, but it can re-direct sales to China and other markets.”
Great job, Obama: you just pushed Russia and China even closer by necessity! Furthermore, it should come as no surprise that while Russians were pulling their money from the west, western firms were getting out of Dodgeski.
One senior Moscow banker said 90 per cent of investors were already behaving as if sanctions were in place, adding that this was “prudent exposure management”.

These moves represent the flipside of the more obvious withdrawal of western money from Russian markets that has been evident over the past fortnight.

Traders and bankers said US banks had been particularly heavy sellers of Russian bonds. According to data from the Bank for International Settlements, US banks and asset managers between them have about $75bn of exposure to Russia.

Joseph Dayan, head of markets at BCS, one of Russia’s largest brokers said: “It’s been quite an ugly picture in Russian bonds the last few days and some of it has to do with international banks reducing exposure.”

Although foreign banks have not yet begun cutting credit to Russian companies en masse, bankers said half a dozen live deals to fund some of Russia’s biggest companies were in limbo as lenders waited to see how punitive western sanctions would be.
So the bottom line is that Russia, thinking a few steps ahead, already has withdrawn the bulk of its assets from the West, and why not. Recall that a year ago it was revealed that the same Russians who were supposed to be punished in Cyprus had mostly withdrawn their funds in advance of the bail in: they tend to know what is coming. It was the ordinary Cypriot citizens, who had done nothing wrong, who were most impaired.
And so while the Russian response is already known, we wonder just how true is the inverse: just how prepared is the west, and especially Europe, to exist in a world in which a third of Germany's gas is suddenly cut off? We can't wait to find out early next week.

Pre- Referendum  hi-jinks .......

Attempt to jam Russian satellites carried out from Western Ukraine

Published time: March 14, 2014 22:21
Edited time: March 15, 2014 02:15

Reuters / Michaela Rehle
Reuters / Michaela Rehle
An attempted radio-electronic attack on Russian television satellites from the territory of Western Ukraine has been recorded by the Ministry of Communications. It comes days after Ukraine blocked Russian TV channels, a move criticized by the OSCE.
The ministry noted that “people who make such decisions” to attack Russian satellites that retransmit TV signals, “should think about the consequences,” Ria reports. The ministry did not share any details of the attack.
Earlier this week, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) criticized Kiev’s“repressive” move to halt the broadcasting of Russian TV channels after the Ukrainian media watchdog claimed that shutting down TV stations ensured “national security and sovereignty” of Ukraine.
“Banning programming without a legal basis is a form of censorship; national security concerns should not be used at the expense of media freedom,” OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said.
More than half of Ukraine's population speaks Russian regularly and one third say it's their native tongue. In Crimea over 90 percent of the population uses Russian on an everyday basis.
On Thursday, a number of Russian state TV channels websites suffered a large cyber-attack partially coming from Ukraine.
Russia’s Channel One website was temporarily unavailable due to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. Meanwhile, Russia-24 TV also said it suffered from a “massive network attack.”
According to Itar-Tass, the targeted Russian media have connected attacks to their editorial policy of covering the recent events in Ukraine.


Russian media websites hit by ‘massive’ DDoS attack ‘linked to Ukraine’

Published time: March 14, 2014 09:02
Reuters / Toru Hanai
Reuters / Toru Hanai
Websites of several Russian state TV channels have been hit by a large cyberattack suspected to partly come from Kiev. Anonymous Caucasus claimed it was responsible for hacking Channel One TV’s site, saying it had “nothing” to do with Ukraine.
Russia’s Channel One on Thursday said its website was temporarily unavailable due to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

“The website of the channel was unavailable from 12:15 to 13:53 Moscow time due to a DDoS attack from Kiev,” a spokesperson for the channel told Itar-Tass, adding that the page was now working normally.

However, as of 6pm Moscow time (2pm GMT), was again unavailable due to a new attack wave.

Meanwhile, the Russia-24 TV channel said on its website that the internet resources of the All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) were also targeted in a “massive network attack.” Due to the distributed nature of the attack, the media did not immediately comment on its origins.

According to Itar-Tass, the targeted Russian media have connected attacks to their editorial policy of covering the recent events in Ukraine.

About an hour after the start of the DDoS attack on Channel One’s website, Anonymous Caucasus hacker group proclaimed “tango down” on its Twitter page. While the group did not issue a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, this army slang phrase has been routinely used by Anonymous and other hacktivist groups to report bringing down a target.

The group then tweeted that their actions had “nothing to do with Ukraine, or all current events in this country, and we are not waiting for anyone.”

Earlier this week, Anonymous Caucasus claimed responsibility for disrupting the work of Russian internet news media LifeNews. The group branded the media “lapdogs of [Russian security service] FSB.” It also claimed it took part in attacks on Syrian government websites in February.

Distributed denial-of-service attacks have been routinely used by hackers for temporarily bringing down websites by means of chocking their accessibility with a flurry of requests. Recently, the power of such attacks has dramatically increased. Using network protocol vulnerabilities of a large number of personal computers and servers, the hackers have learned to amplify DDoS traffic to a staggering 400 gigabits per second. Anonymous Caucasus claimed it managed to unleash a 250 Gbps attack on LifeNews.


Two killed in gunmen attack on anti-Maidan activists in Kharkov – reports

Published time: March 14, 2014 21:27
Edited time: March 15, 2014 09:20

screenshot from youtube video by user 100500PerecTV
screenshot from youtube video by user 100500PerecTV
Two people were killed overnight in Ukraine's Kharkov, where gunmen from the radical Right Sector movement attacked self-defense activists and took hostages. Police eventually detained the armed people and the hostages were released.
The armed group barricaded itself inside the local headquarters of Right Sector, from where it was shooting and throwing flash grenades and Molotov cocktails at Kharkov anti-Maidan activists who gathered outside.

Two people were killed in the shooting and at least four more were wounded, authorities said. The armed group took hostage three men – two activists and one policeman – who reportedly went inside to negotiate their surrender.

Mayor Gennady Kernes managed to get one of the hostages out after spending around 10 minutes inside the barricaded Right Sector headquarters.

There are around 40 radicals inside,” Kernes told journalists, as cited by Itar-Tass. “Two men remain hostage, one of whom is a policeman who entered the building for negotiations.”

Police deployed at the scene cordoned off the area and in the early hours of Saturday stormed the building. Around 30 gunmen were detained as a result.

We have started to identify these people, as they don’t have passports with them,” Anatoly Dmitriev, the head of the Kharkov region police told Itar-Tass. “We’ll lift fingerprints from weapons, which are left inside the building.”
Ukraine's acting Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, said on Facebook that those detained are “from both sides of the conflict” and that investigation into the shootout has begun.
The incident reportedly began after a Kharkov self-defence group patrolling the city square noticed a suspicious Volkswagen van and tried to stop it. It was the same van involved in a shooting back on March 8, when one of the anti-Maidan activists was wounded.
When the driver refused to stop, LifeNews reports, activists chased the van to the building on Rymarska Street, where the office of Right Sector is located.
The shooting started after the activists tried to enter the building. Gunmen were also throwing flash grenades and Molotov cocktails from the second floor of the building, LifeNews reports.
Activists had to retreat waiting for police and ambulances to arrive. Meanwhile numerous videos of the incident captured by the activists and have been uploaded on YouTube.
The mayor of Kharkov Gennady Kernes also arrived at the scene for “negotiations,” but when he approached the building the shooting resumed, local activist Sergey Yudaev who was live streaming the incident told RT.
Yudaev said that local authorities were apparently covering up the actions of Right Sector and trying to hide the fact that the group has a hideout with a cache of weapons in that building. Yudaev also confirmed the incident on March 8, when a group in that exact van attacked several peaceful activists who were returning from an anti-Maidan rally.

Yudaev also said that it took activists almost 40 minutes to make the police respond to the call, since the new police chief appointed by the Kiev “junta” is covering up all crimes carried out by the Right Sector in Kharkov.
The local “junta controlled” media, Yudaev warned, have already twisted the story and tried to present it as an attack by Oplot movement on an office of some "political organization" that has nothing to do with Right Sector. But the group inside the building is anything but peaceful, Yudaev said, as videos clearly show Molotov cocktails being thrown at people standing outside.
On Thursday, bloody clashes in the city of Donetsk between rival rallies ended with a murder and multiple wounded. This proves those in power in Kiev do not control the situation in Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated, stressing Moscow reserves right to protect compatriots.

Pre-Referendum rhetoric.....

US-Russia Talks End in Failure

Kerry Continues Threats Throughout

by Jason Ditz, March 14, 2014
Secretary of State John Kerry continued the US policy of throwing wild threats about willy-nilly, but somehow today’s London talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov didn’t end with any deal.
Kerry complained Russia didn’t appear interested in making any deals on the Crimea until after the Sunday referendum, and said he offered “a number of ideas” to Russia on alternatives.
It was completely unclear what those alternatives actually were, since the administration’s only public suggestion was a full, unilateral Russian surrender on the issue, and a forcible reintegration of the Crimea into the Ukraine.
Kerry said he warned of “backdoor annexation” of the Crimea by Russia, though with the referendum just 48 hours away and voters expected to approve the annexation by a considerable margin it is unclear what is “backdoor” about it at all.
Lavrov agreed that there was “no common vision” in the talks, adding that Crimea means “immeasurably more” to Russia than the Falkland Islands does to Britain.


US, EU Won’t Recognize Crimea Referendum

NATO Insists Vote Violates International Law

by Jason Ditz, March 14, 2014
The Obama Administration insists that neither the United States nor European Union will ever recognize the results of this weekend’s referendum in Crimea, which is widely expected to call for its accession into the Russian Federation.
Crimea’s parliament seceded from the Ukraine earlier this week, and the referendum provides options to either return to Ukraine or to join Russia. It does not give an option to remain independent.
The US and NATO argue that Crimea’s secession contravenes “international law,” though officials have long taken an opportunistic position on secession, backing those liable to put pro-US governments in power and spurning those that will not.
US officials have said that the referendum cannot be allowed because Ukraine’s pro-US interim government, installed in violent protests weeks ago, has opposed it. They have demanded Russia force the Crimeans to stop the vote from occurring, and have vowed sanctions Monday if the referendum is held.
Russian President Vladimir Putin insists that the referendum is entirely in keeping with international norms, and the UN Charter. Though Putin has expressed reservations about Crimean accession, the Russian parliament has strongly supported the idea. Crimea has a majority Russian population, and was legally part of Russia until 1954, when the Soviet Union transferred it internally to Ukraine’s republic.

Ukraine PM Touts ‘Unprecedented’ US Support

New Govt Comfortably Settling into Role as US Client State

by Jason Ditz, March 14, 2014
Fresh off his visit to the United States, Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk hyped the “unprecedented support” offered by the Obama Administration during the ongoing standoff with Russia.
Yatseniuk said the US and the rest of “the civilized world” is offering Ukraine’s military massive amounts of technical help and support, as the Crimean Peninsula moves closer to joining Russia.
The Pentagon said they were sending 25,000 cases of meals-ready-to-eat to Ukraine at some point in the future, though this is likely only a fraction of the overall US “aid” to Ukraine’s newly installed government.
The US and other Western countries played a significant role in backing violent protesters against the pro-Russia government in Ukraine, leading to the recent regime change that brought Yatseniuk and others into power.
Since then, the Crimean Peninsula has moved to secede, and the US has insisted that such secession would be a “violation of international law.” They have also moved to start a sanction war against Russia for supporting Crimea’s secession.

EU-Russia Sanction War Looms Over Crimea

Russia Not Going to Sit Back and Accept Sanctions

by Jason Ditz, March 14, 2014
The first, relatively minor European Union sanctions against Russia have already been imposed, but major new ones are expected early next week, aiming to “punish” Russia for not stopping Crimeans for voting to break away from the Ukraine.
There is a “long list” of possible sanctions under consideration, but while Western political leaders talk up the chance to really stick it to Russia, businessmen warn that the move is likely to spark Russian retaliation and a sanction war that harms both sides.
Russian MPs say they are readying sanctions of their own in response to such moves, and that asset seizures by the US and EU could result in similar asset seizures within Russia of companies from those nations.
Even things Russia doesn’t directly retaliate over, like a proposed Visa ban on CEOs for Russian energy giants, could greatly harm the ability of EU utility companies to secure needed natural gas supplies, and convince those companies that moves toward China and other eastern countries, already in their first tentative steps, are both safer and easier paths for export growth.

Eastern Ukraine " Blitzkrieg  "  on tap ? 

The Tanks Are Coming While Russia, US "Remain At Odds" Over Ukraine

Tyler Durden's picture

With Interfax reporting that Belarus has begun full-scale military drills in a "readiness check", images from Russia and Ukraine suggest the worst-case scenario - that Russia is making preparations to invade Ukraine, not just Crimea but perhaps as far west as Kharkiv, or even beyond - is more possible. Talks have broken down:
Russia now has a massive force of tanks, troops, artillery, aircraft, and naval forces in position to potentially invade mainland Ukraine from Crimea in the south, but also from positions east and north of Ukraine.
Lavrov adds:
And subtley poitning out the hypocrisy:
Then Lavrov said this:
Which seems to run counter to the following images pouring in from across Russia of even more firepower on the move.

View image on Twitter
Moving tanks Omsk, Saratov, St.Pete, more photos like that popping up. Expect full-scale intervention beyond

Today's updates from Russia Today's Live blog.....

Saturday, March 15

18:14 GMT:
The Crimean self-defense forces have prevented an attempt to damage a gas pipeline at the Arabat Spit, said the Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov as cited by Itar-tass.
"Those trying to damage the equipment - according to preliminary data, up to 40 people – introduced themselves as employees of the Border Service of Ukraine and quickly left the station," said Aksyonov.
In connection with the incident, Aksyonov has asked the Russian Black Sea fleet to keep watch over the gas distribution station in the area.
Google Maps
Google Maps

15:48 GMT:

The USS Truxtun, a US guided-missile destroyer, will carry out more exercises with allied ships in the Black Sea, its commander said on Saturday. Commander Andrew Biehn was briefing reporters aboard the 300-crew destroyer as it lay docked in a Bulgarian port.
The USS Truxtun last week took part in drills with Romanian and Bulgarian ships a few hundred miles from Russian forces that entered Ukraine's Russian-majority of Crimea after mass protests toppled the country's president. (Reuters)
The USS Truxtun, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer, enters the Black Sea port of Varna March 13, 2014. (Reuters/Impact Press Group)
The USS Truxtun, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer, enters the Black Sea port of Varna March 13, 2014. (Reuters/Impact Press Group)

15:33 GMT:
Gennady Basov, the leader of the Russian Bloc party and a deputy of Sevastopol City Council, was kidnapped Saturday by unknown people, the party’s press center said to the media. According to the police department of Sevastopol, they already received an official report about his disappearance and are taking measures to find Basov. The Russian Bloc party, which stands for the rights of ethnic Russians in the region, was formed in 2002. In the Ukrainian parliamentary elections in 2012 it failed to win any seats.
15:31 GMT:
Ukrainian customs officials have blocked the ways in and out of Transnistria, a Ukrainian-Moldovian border at the river Dniestr, for male citizens of Russia. According to an officer of the Russian peacekeeping contingent, “All the men with Russian passports aren’t allowed to pass the border.” Freight trains with cargo for Russian peacekeepers also can’t get to Transnistria. Two trains with food, goods and fuel for Russian troops have been at a checkpoint Kuchurgany for five days.
15:26 GMT:
The Russian Foreign Ministry has warned of possible provocations in Ukraine. A column of trucks with armed mercenaries belonging to the Right sector has reportedly left from Kharkov heading for Donetsk and Lugansk, the ministry said in a statement. The leaders of the movement have announced the opening of the “eastern front” while one of the garment factories reportedly began to urgently sew Russian uniforms, it added.
14:56 GMT:
Crimea has launched a criminal case against the leader of the ultra-nationalist group Right Sector, Dmitry Yarosh and the head of Brotherhood party Dmitry Korchinsky, the republic’s prosecutor’s office said. The men are accused of calling “for military aggression and terrorist attacks on the territory of the peninsula,” the body’s press-service said. Yarosh and Korchinsky were allegedly using social networking services to distribute materials that “propagate war” and violence against people in Crimea.
14:56 GMT:
Crimean referendum on the republic’s status will be invalid, French President Francois Hollande has told a media conference in Paris after his meeting with the new Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
We believe that the referendum in Crimea will not have any legal force,” he said, adding that France believes that everything possible should be made in order to go back to negotiations to settle the Ukrainian conflict, Itar-Tass reported.
French President Francois Hollande (AFP Photo)
French President Francois Hollande (AFP Photo)

14:53 GMT:
Ukrainian acting Defense Minister, Igor Tenyukh has said that the country’s Armed Forces have significantly increased their combat readiness within past two weeks.
Because of the events in Crimea and on the eastern borders, the government has made a number of decisions aimed at bringing the Armed Forces to the capacity necessary for them to fulfill their duties,” he said, as cited by Interfax.
14:50 GMT:
Thousands of people have rallied in Moscow at two separate rallies to oppose and support Russian intervention in Ukraine.
At the opposition rally there were reports of as many as 50,000 people. Protesters shouted “hands off Ukraine” and “the occupation of Crimea is Russia's disgrace" and said they wanted peace between the two neighboring countries.
13:57 GMT:
Two people were seriously injured in a shooting in the Darnitskay regional council building in Kiev, local media reported Friday. The shooting occurred late in the evening Thursday. Police have detained the man that started the shooting, which started during scuffles between locals.
13:28 GMT:
Dozens of anti-war activists staged a rally in New York City on Friday under the slogan "No new US war! Stop media lies about Ukraine and Venezuela". Protesters of the rally organized by the International Action Center marched from the Warner Center down Broadway where they ended their demonstration in front of the Fox News Headquarters.

11:54 GMT:
The Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada (parliament) has voted for early dissolution of Crimean parliament, Itar-Tass reports. 278 MPs voted in favor for the decision.

The Rada's ruling comes into effect immediately. The MPs simultaneously supported preparations for early elections in Crimea.
11:44 GMT:
People have gathered in Mariupol, Donetsk region, for a rally in support of Russia and Crimean referendum.
  1. В Донецке проходит митинг за проведение референдума о статусе Донбасса - ПРЯМАЯ ТРАНСЛЯЦИЯ
@RT_russian митинг у нас в Мариуполе в поддержку Крыма России и референдума о федерализации
View image on Twitter

11:38 GMT:
A pro-Russian demonstration is taking place in the center of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.
11:25 GMT:
A total of 135 observers from 23 countries have been registered in Crimea, and 623 journalists from 169 media outlets are working in the region, said head of the Crimean parliament’s commission on preparation for the referendum, Mikhail Malyshev.

"1240 more observers from Crimean organizations have been registered as well,” Malyshev told Itar-Tass.

A day before referendum is due to start in Crimea, parliament in Kiev gathers with a dissolve Crimea'a parliament

Speculation or trying to connect dots   - considering the timing , is it totally outside the realm of possibly to believe a tie between the Ukraine situation and the Malaysian airline mysteries exists ? If the hi-jacked has landed somewhere , refueling makes its flight range much wider ..... just something to think about in light of the very curious and quite ambiguous  threats and the dreaded  Monday deadline from a certain actor in the ongoing Ukraine drama.......

‘Pirated’ Boeing 777 may return to skies as stealth nuclear weapon

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Flight 370 passengers may still be alive
Mike Adams
Natural News
March 15, 2014
Exclusive investigation: The 239 people on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may still be alive. This stunning realization is now supported by considerable emerging evidence detailed in this article. At the same time, the “vanished” Boeing 777 may also be in a hanger in Iran right now, being retrofitted with nuclear weapons and turned into a suicide bomb to be deployed over a major city in the Middle East. This possibility is discussed in detail, below, with supporting evidence.

Image: Malaysia Airlines (YouTube).
The idea that Flight 370 passengers and crew may still be alive is not a bizarre theory. Even Reuters is now reporting that U.S. authorities have stated, “…it’s also possible the plane may have landed somewhere.”
Here’s the evidence in support of this emerging “piracy” theory of what may have happened to Flight 370 and why the people who may have diverted it might also be planning on turning it into a weapon:
Five critical pieces of astonishing supporting evidence that Flight 370 passengers may still be alive
Please understand that I do not wish to create false hope for all those families who have greatly suffered through this ordeal. My heart goes out to them, and we can only hope these 239 passengers and crew are, indeed, being kept alive somewhere to be used as a bargaining chip for ransom or political purposes. Here’s the substantial evidence in support of this theory:
• Fact #1: No crash debris has been located, despite an exhaustive search
The search for debris has involved over two dozen nations and is unprecedented in aviation history. If the plane had crashed in the ocean anywhere near its intended flight path, the debris almost certainly would have been located by now.
• Fact #2: The plane’s transponder appears to have been manually turned off several minutes before other communication systems stopped transmitting
As the Associated Press reports, “…key evidence for ‘human intervention’ in the plane’s disappearance is that contact with its transponder stopped about a dozen minutes before a messaging system quit.”
This almost certainly means someone deliberately disabled the transponder (the device which transmits location to air traffic controllers).
Why would someone do that? Because they don’t want to be tracked as they change course and take the plane to a new destination.
A Reuters article adds more detail:
Analysis of the Malaysia data suggests the plane, with 239 people on board, diverted from its intended northeast route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and flew west instead, using airline flight corridors normally employed for routes to the Middle East and Europe.
This adds some evidence to the idea that the plane may have been diverted to the Middle East. Together with the suspicion of stolen passports and the identities of those who traveled with them, this starts to paint a more clear picture in support of piracy as the underlying explanation, with possible ties to Iran (see more below).
What’s especially fascinating to me in all this is that once the transponder was turned off, this massive aircraft apparently went into “stealth mode” where nobody could track it. Although this seems to defy the laws of physics and radar, we cannot argue with the fact that the plane was apparently untraceable as it flew for four hours after the transponder was turned off.
• Smoking Gun Fact #3: The plane’s engines continued to broadcast performance data to satellite for four hours after radar contact was lost
This fact is really the smoking gun in all this. The Wall Street Journal has posted an excellent investigative article revealing that Boeing’s own people have confirmed the plane kept flying four hours after disappearing off radar. As the WSJ reports:
The investigators believe the plane flew for a total of up to five hours, according to these people, based on analysis of signals sent by the Boeing satellite-communication link designed to automatically transmit the status of certain onboard systems to the ground. Throughout the roughly four hours after the jet dropped from civilian radar screens, these people said, the link operated in a kind of standby mode and sought to establish contact with a satellite or satellites. These transmissions did not include data, they said, but the periodic contacts indicate to investigators that the plane was still intact and believed to be flying.
Obviously, this system cannot continue to transmit data if the plane has crashed or exploded. The existence of these signals is very nearly conclusive proof that the aircraft continued flying and did not crash or explode. This eliminates most of the scenarios which would result in the death of passengers, and it strongly supports the piracy / hijacking scenario.
• Fact #4: The mobile devices of many passengers continued to stay online for days after the disappearance
The Washington Post has reported that phones of Flight 370 passengers were active and online for several days following the disappearance of the plane:
…a few relatives said they were able to call the cellphones of their loved ones or find them on a Chinese instant messenger service called QQ that indicated that their phones were still somehow online. A migrant worker in the room said that several other workers from his company were on the plane, including his brother-in-law. Among them, the QQ accounts of three still showed that they were online, he said Sunday afternoon. Adding to the mystery, other relatives in the room said that when they dialed some passengers’ numbers, they seemed to get ringing tones on the other side even though the calls were not picked up.
This evidence also fits the piracy theory remarkably well. If the plane was diverted and landed with passengers alive, their mobile devices could have indeed stayed online by automatically connecting to cell towers. The pirates or kidnappers may have overlooked this and failed to confiscate and destroy the mobile devices, allowing them to connect as long as they had battery life remaining.
• Fact #5: Black box transponders are not broadcasting homing signals because the plane never crashed
Normally, when aircraft crash into the ocean, their black boxes emit homing signal transmissions so they can be located. But no signals were ever detected from Flight 370 black boxes.
Now that seems to make sense: if the plane was hijacked / pirated, then it never crashed and the black boxes are still intact, sitting on the aircraft. This may be why they cannot be found (and why there is no wreckage or debris).
Could passengers still be alive?
If the plane kept flying for four more hours, then it was obviously being piloted with an intent to take it somewhere for some specific purpose. Anyone sophisticated enough to disable the transponder in-flight would have also been sophisticated enough to plan the final destination and landing of the aircraft.
Military radar data suggests a Malaysia Airlines jetliner missing for nearly a week was deliberately flown hundreds of miles off course, heightening suspicions of foul play among investigators, sources told Reuters on Friday.
Anyone pirating a jetliner and diverting it to another location really only has two key assets to work with: The aircraft itself, and the passengers onboard.
Obviously, acquiring a large aircraft like a Boeing 777 would be a huge asset for terrorist groups who could turn it into a weapon. If this is the intent, then the passengers on board would most likely be killed, as they would serve no particular purpose to the hijackers. Sadly, this remains one of the possible outcomes of piracy, and I don’t want to publish any false hope that might mislead families who have lost loved ones. Realistically, the odds of the passengers being alive right now are probably no better than 1 in 3, in my estimation. But that’s better than zero chance.
A second possibility is that the passengers themselves are going to be used as bargaining chips in an elaborate K&R (kidnap & ransom) scheme. It’s also possible that selected passengers have special value in some way we don’t yet realize, and only they will be kept alive as bargaining chips while the others are killed by the hijackers. Sadly, this is another likely outcome of all this.
And yet, despite all the very negative possible outcomes, there does remain a legitimate scenario in which the passengers and crew of Flight 370 remain alive at this very moment, long after their plane was diverted to an unknown location and safely landed. If this is the case, then we would expect to sooner or later hear from the hijackers with their list of demands for the safe return of the passengers. Such demands, if they ever materialize, would no doubt be multinational in nature.
On the more pessimistic side, if the hijackers only sought the aircraft and not the passengers, then we will probably never hear from them until the day a Boeing 777 flying without a transponder in “stealth mode” delivers a terrorist weapon of some sort to whatever city is being targeted.
Turning a Boeing 777 into a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon
A Boeing 777 is a very large aircraft and can obviously be outfitted with a wide variety of weapons systems by anyone with sufficient knowledge and technical skills (not to mention a soul of pure evil).
According to the Boeing website, the 777 has a “revenue payload capacity” of 112 tons, or about 102,000 kg.
With that sort of enormous carrying capacity, a Boeing 777 could be outfitted with elaborate, high-volume chemical spraying weapons, air-dropped biological weapons or of course a nuclear weapon capable of destroying an entire city. Technology also exists to remotely control large aircraft, and Iran in particular has already demonstrated its technical ability to seize control of U.S. military drones through a process of GPS-spoofing. In support of this feat, Russia just recently “electronically captured” another U.S. drone over Crimea.
Shockingly, the next time the world sees this aircraft may be when it deploys itself over a city like Tel Aviv and detonates a large nuclear weapon at altitude. The reason I deliberately choose Tel Aviv in this example is because there appears to be a possible link with Iran in all this, and the Iranian government leadership has reportedly said it wishes to see Israel wiped off the map. The elaborate nature of this aircraft piracy, if indeed this is the true explanation, also smacks of state-sponsored involvement. This is not the kind of operation that can be pulled off by a couple of yahoos trying to score some quick cash.
The fact that this aircraft was able to fly undetected for at least four hours after the transponder was turned off means the plane can very effectively be used as a “stealth” weapon of sorts, and it could theoretically be deployed over major cities across Europe, Asia, the Middle East or even North America.
Where is Flight 370 now? Pakistan, Iran both potentially in range of the landing
According to this Boeing web page, the 777 has a cruising speed of around Mach .84, or around 650 miles per hour.
If the aircraft cruised for four hours after the transponder was turned off, it could have flown nearly 2600 miles, putting it just within reach of Pakistan, and possibly even southeast Iran if it flew at a slightly higher speed and had sufficient fuel. The Iran Shahr Airport, located less than 100 miles from the border of Pakistan, is conceivably within range and sits at an altitude of around 2,000 meters. This airport has a runway length of 7,711 feet, and according to page 16 of this document on the Boeing website, the required runway length for landing a Boeing 777 is less than 7,711 feet as long as the runway is not wet. This is true even if the aircraft is fully loaded and flying at maximum weight.
The aircraft was actually designed to take advantage of shorter runways. Even Boeing itself says the 777 “uses a new semi-levered gear, which allows it to take off from fields with limited runway length.”
Thus, Flight 370 could have conceivably and successfully landed in Iran. Remember, too, that the aircraft was “using airline flight corridors normally employed for routes to the Middle East and Europe,” according to Reuters (link above).
This flight path, however, would have put it directly over India, and it is difficult to imagine the Indian government not noticing a Boeing 777 aircraft flying over its airspace without a transponder. Then again, the Malaysian government seems to have no idea where the plane went, either, and so we may be dealing with regional military incompetence on these matters, or possibly some amazing new stealth technology that was somehow deployed on the plane.
To help explain where this aircraft could have gone, I put together this flight range map, showing the possible locations where Flight 370 could have flown in the four hours after it disappeared from its intended flight path:
Notice that this range encompasses North Korea, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and even part of Iran.
An interesting area of investigation in all this would be to find out how much fuel the aircraft was loaded with, and determining whether that fuel load could allow it to fly four or even five more hours.


Kerry Gives Russia Monday Deadline; Russia Builds Up Forces In Crimea Before Vote

By:  Friday March 14, 2014 6:05 am

With the referendum in Crimea set to be this Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry has given Russia a deadline of Monday saying “If there is no sign [from Russia] of any capacity to respond to this issue …there will be a very serious series of steps on Monday.” What those steps will be precisely remains unclear only that “we have contingencies – we are talking through various options that may or may not be available.” So there’s that. When in doubt make vague threats ?

Meanwhile Russia seems less than concerned about Secretary Kerry’s posturing and has sent additional forces into Crimea as well as flexing its muscles by performing military exercises on the Russian side of the Ukraine border.
A Russian warship unloaded trucks, troops and at least one armoured personnel carrier at a bay near Sevastopol in Crimea on Friday morning, as Moscow continued to build up its forces on the Ukrainian peninsula…
Russia has started military exercises near the Ukrainian border, it has announced, in what is likely to be seen as a show of force in the standoff with Kiev and the west over Crimea. The defence ministry confirmed on Thursday that exercises involving 8,500 artillery men had begun in the southern military district near the border. Pictures appeared on social media earlier showing military vehicles on the move in the area.
This rise in tensions may dwindle after the vote with the only recourse the US and EU having is their ability to refuse to recognize Crimea as part of the Russian Federation. The prospect of Russia kicking out Crimea after it has incorporated it into their country seems slim.
The fate of the rest of Ukraine is still very much in the balance. Russia has refused to recognize the government that came to power through violently overthrowing President Yanukovych. And according to reports, the Obama Administration has declined to arm Ukraine’s interim government, for now.
As Russia turned up the heat, the United States was trying to tamp it down. An American official said that the Obama administration had deferred a request from Ukraine’s interim government for military assistance like arms and ammunition, although the administration was “still considering” it.
Which gives even more evidence that the interim government is favored by the US and this conflict is less about international law than it is about who has influence in Ukraine. Crimea gives Russia an even stronger foothold to pursue influence and restrain the US/EU backed government that came to power overthrowing the Russian backed government.
We will see what happens Monday.

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