Connect with us

Latest

News

Shootout in Crimea: Russia’s FSB vs Ukrainian Saboteurs

The FSB interception of Ukrainian sabotage groups attempting to infiltrate Crimea raise tensions.

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

5,816 Views

Anyone who has been following Ukraine related news over the last few days will be aware of reports of Russian troop movements in Crimea, of a shoot out there between the Russian security forces and alleged Ukrainian infiltrators which left several people dead, and of claims that Ukrainian sabotage groups had attempted to infiltrate the peninsula.

On  10th August 2016 came final confirmation of the incident from Russia’s counterintelligence and anti terrorism agency, the FSB (full statement attached below).  It reported separate incidents involving three Ukrainian sabotage groups connected to the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defence Ministry, shoot outs between FSB operatives and the Russian military and the Ukrainian military across the border line, and the deaths of one FSB operative and of one Russian soldier caught up in the shoot outs.  Other reports speak of the death of at least two Ukrainian infiltrators, and of the capture of several others, which claims however the FSB report does not confirm.  The FSB report does however speak of twenty improvised explosive devices containing more than 40 kilograms of TNT equivalent, ammunition, fuses, antipersonnel and magnetic bombs, grenades and the Ukrainian armed forces’ standard special weapons being found in one of the locations involved in the incident. 

The FSB report also says that several Ukrainian and Russian citizens belonging to an undercover spy ring operating inside Crimea have been arrested on charges of planning to help the saboteurs.  The FSB has named the ringleader as Yevgeny Panov, a resident of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye region born in 1977, who the FSB says is an employee of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate.  Presumably he has been working in Crimea for some time under cover.  The FSB says it has arrested him and that he is “giving evidence”.

The FSB has not identified the targets of the saboteurs other than saying that they were “critical infrastructure and life support facilities on the peninsula”.  Some Russian media reports have suggested that the intention was to create “false flag” incidents that would set Crimea’s Tatar and Russian communities against each other.  The reference to “critical infrastructure and life support facilities on the peninsula” does not however support this.  Rather it suggests an attempt to disrupt power supplies and possibly water treatment plants at the height of Crimea’s tourist season and on the eve of the elections.

The Ukrainians for their part deny all these allegations, claiming that the whole incident has been invented by the Russians.  The Western media, predictably enough, is following the Ukrainian line with wild speculations that the Russians have fabricated the whole incident in order to justify a Russian invasion of Ukraine during the Olympic Games.

Whilst the full truth of this incident will only become known over time – when or if people like Panov are put on trial – there is actually no reason to doubt that the Russian account is true.  The Russians are hardly likely to arrange the death of one of their own FSB operatives and of one of their soldiers in order to fabricate an incident like this, and the report of the capture of several of the saboteurs, and the confirmation of the arrest of the members of the spy ring which was created to support them, all but confirms that the Russian claims about this incident are true. Indeed given that Ukrainian leaders frequently speak of Ukraine being at war with Russia it is not difficult to see why they might authorise a sabotage mission of this sort in order to disrupt elections which would confirm the extent of Crimea’s integration into Russia.  Presumably the Ukrainian plan was to claim that the attacks were the result of local anti-Russian resistance cells, thereby fostering the fiction that there is opposition within Crimea to its unification with Russia.  It has been a cause of serious embarrassment to the Ukrainian leadership and its Western backers that there has been no real evidence of such opposition up to now.  The sabotage mission appears to have been intended to “correct” this.

Two days ago I reported about a meeting Putin had with his security chiefs which appeared to have been hurriedly convened in a secret location.  I speculated that the meeting was held to discuss the situation in Aleppo.  Whilst Aleppo undoubtedly was discussed at this meeting as shown by the presence of Foreign Minister Lavrov and the Kremlin’s account of the meeting – which referred to Putin’s forthcoming meetings with foreign leaders, of whom the two most important were President Erdogan of Turkey and President Rouhani of Iran with whom the topic of Syria and Aleppo would certainly be discussed – the meeting between Putin and his security chiefs undoubtedly also discussed the situation in Crimea, and the reports of the Ukrainian sabotage mission there.

Might there have been any other purpose to this Ukrainian sabotage mission other than to create the appearance of instability in Crimea during the tourist season and during the coming election season?  Putin in the joint press conference he held in Moscow following his meeting with Armenia’s President Sargsyan linked the incident to the attempted murder of Igor Plotnitsky, the leader of the Lugansk People’s Republic.  If true that would suggest that having despaired of a military victory the government in Kiev is now turning to assassination and sabotage tactics in order to keep the struggle with Russia going and to achieve its political goals.  Alternatively it could be that the Ukrainians have carried out these operations in preparation for the summer offensive in the Donbass that has been much talked about but which has yet to happen, though it is not clear how planting bombs in Crimea could aid a military offensive in the Donbass.  Yet another explanation is that the Ukrainians might be sensing a weakening in European support and might have launched the operation in order to heighten tensions and to rally support and to further undermine the Minsk II peace process.

My own opinion is that the most likely explanation for this frankly reckless action – which will cause serious embarrassment to some of Ukraine’s European backers even if they are not prepared to say so publicly – is the chaotic condition of the Ukrainian power structure and the perennial infighting that goes on there.  Given the luridly romantic language many members of the Maidan movement customarily like to indulge in I can easily see how the sabotage operation in Crimea and the murder attempt on Plotnitsky – if the two are indeed connected – might have been planned by individuals in Kiev who might think that the success of such operations would increase their credibility and popularity within the Maidan movement and therefore their chances of achieving political success in Ukraine.

Whatever the precise motivations behind this incident Putin has made it very clear that the Russians are taking it extremely seriously.  He has already said that there will no Normandy Four meeting with Merkel, Hollande and Poroshenko at the forthcoming G20 summit in China.  Moreover and in contrast to what happened following the trial of Savchenko, whose actions were carried out in the Donbass and therefore in territory the Russians continue to recognise as Ukrainian, I expect the Russians to be much slower to agree to prisoner exchanges of the Ukrainian operatives who were involved in this mission and who they accuse of carrying out or planning to carry out violent actions on Russian territory.

Here is the text of the statement describing the incidents which has been provided by the FSB:

The Russian FSB averted terrorist acts in the Republic of Crimea that were being prepared by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine.

The Russian FSB averted terrorist acts in the Republic of Crimea that were being prepared by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, and which targeted certain critical infrastructure and life support facilities on the peninsula.

The goal of the attacks was the destabilisation of the socio-political situation on the peninsula prior to the approaching elections to the federal and regional governmental institutions.

The search operations carried out during the night of 6/7 August 2016 in the vicinity of the city of Armyansk, Republic of Crimea, uncovered a group of saboteurs. While attempting to detain the terrorists, an FSB operative was killed by enemy gunfire. The following was discovered on the scene: 20 improvised explosive devices with a total explosive power of 40kg TNT, munitions, special detonators, standard-issue anti-personnel and magnetic land mines, grenades, and special-issue weapons used by Ukrainian armed forces’ special operations units.

The follow-on measures on the territory of the Republic of Crimea eliminated a network of agents operated by the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Ukrainian and Russian citizens, engaged in the preparation of terrorist attacks, were arrested, and are now giving evidence. One of the organisers is Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Panov, born 1977, an inhabitant of the Zaporozhye Region of Ukraine, an operative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukrainian MOD, who has also been arrested and is giving evidence.

During the night of August 8, 2016, Ukrainian MOD special operations units attempted two more infiltrations by saboteur units which were prevented by the armed units of the FSB and collaborating entities. The infiltration effort was covered by heavy fire from the adjacent country, including by armored vehicles belonging to Ukrainian military. A Russian soldier was killed by the fire.

On the basis of the investigative and combat actions, the Crimea FSB Directorate’s investigations department has launched a criminal case. Additional investigative measures are being implemented. Places where large groups of tourists are concentrating and resting, and critically important infrastructure and life support facilities have been taken under additional security. A strengthened border control regime has been introduced on the border with Ukraine.”

(Translated by J. Hawk, as previously published on South Front)

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Vladimir Putin calls new Ukrainian church ‘dangerous politicking’

President Putin said creation of the “Orthodox Church in Ukraine” is against Church canon and that the West drove Constantinople to do it.

Seraphim Hanisch

Published

on

In an interview with the Serbian newspapers Politika and Vecernje Novosti ahead of his visit to Serbia, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, a schismatic agglomeration headed by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists was “dangerous politicking.” He further noted that:

The establishment of the new religious entity in Ukraine is nothing but an attempt “to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.”

“Yet, hardly anyone in the U.S. or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this,” Putin said.

“Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking,” he said.

President Putin had more things to say in the interview, and we present what he said in full here (emphasis ours), as reported on the Kremlin.ru website:

Question: The Serbian Orthodox Church has taken the side of the Russian Orthodox Church in the context of the ecclesiastical crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, a number of countries are exerting pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew and seek to ensure recognition of Ukrainian ”schismatics“ by Local Orthodox Churches. How do you think the situation will evolve?

Vladimir Putin: I would like to remind your readers, who are greatly concerned about the information regarding the split in the Orthodox community but are probably not fully aware of the situation in Ukraine, what it is all about.

On December 15, 2018, the Ukrainian leaders, actively supported by the USA and the Constantinople Patriarchate, held a so-called “unifying synod”. This synod declared the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, with Patriarch Bartholomew signing the tomos (decree) granting it autocephaly on January 6, 2019. Thus, it was attempted to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.

Yet, hardly anyone in the US or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this, as the new church entity is an entirely political, secular project. Its main aim is to divide the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, sowing seeds of ethnic as well as religious discord. No wonder Kiev has already declared ”obtaining complete independence from Moscow.”

Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking. Likewise, we do not speak about the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It is de-facto fully controlled by Istanbul. Whereas Ukraine’s largest canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has never requested autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew, is absolutely independent in its actions. Its connection with the Russian Orthodox Church is purely canonical – but even this causes undisguised irritation of the current Kiev regime.

Because of this, clergymen and laymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are being persecuted and deprived of churches and monasteries, and attempts are made to deny the Church its legitimate name, which raises tensions and only leads to further discord in Ukrainian society.

Evidently, Ukraine’s leaders have to understand that any attempts to force the faithful into a different church are fraught with grave consequences. Yet, they are eager to put interconfessional concord in the country at stake in order to conduct the election campaign of the current Ukrainian President based on a search for enemies, and to retain power by all means.

All of this does not go unnoticed by Orthodox Christians.

Naturally, Russia does not intend to interfere in ecclesiastical processes, especially those happening on the territory of a neighboring sovereign state. However, we are aware of the danger posed by such experiments and blatant interference of the state in religious affairs.

The situation continues to degrade in Ukraine, and though the Orthodox faithful of the Autonomous but Moscow-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church are the hardest hit, worry over Ukrainian lawlessless-made-law has the Jewish community in that country nervous as well. This is perhaps to be expected as the Azov Brigade, a neo-Nazi aligned group that is hypernationalist, is a good representation of the character of the “hate Russia at all costs” Ukrainian nationalists. A parallel piece in Interfax made note of this in a piece dated January 17th 2019:

[A] bill passed by the Verkhovna Rada introducing a procedure by which parishes can join the new Ukrainian church makes it easier to seize places of worship, and supporters of autocephaly have already started doing this across the country, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said.

“They need this law to seize our churches. You can’t just come with a crowbar to someone else’s barn, but now the law allows you to do so. They aren’t creating something of their own, but are trying to steal what’s ours,” Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vasyl Anisimov told Interfax on Thursday.

The religious entity set up in December with Constantinople’s involvement and called the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “in fact doesn’t yet exist in nature. It’s fake. It doesn’t have any parishes of its own or government registration,” he said.

However, “the supporters of autocephaly don’t have plans to create anything of their own at all, so they have chosen the path of takeover, and the authorities are helping them in that,” Anisimov said.

“Hence, the legislation passed by the Verkhovna Rada today is in fact absolute lawlessness,” he said.

“If you pass legislation affecting an industry, you should talk to industrialists, and if it’s legislation on the agricultural sector, talk to farmers. And here legislation on a church is passed, and moreover, this legislation is aimed against this church, it is protesting, and Jews are protesting, too, because this legislation may affect them as well – but nobody is listening, and they change the law for the sake of an absolutely absurd and unconstitutional gimmick. But, of course, it’s the people who will ultimately suffer,” Anisimov said.

 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

May survives ‘no confidence’ vote as UK moves towards March 29 deadline or Article 50 extension (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 168.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the ‘no confidence’ vote that UK Prime Minister May won with the a slim margin…meaning that though few MPs have confidence in her ‘Brexit withdrawal’ negotiating skills, they appear to have no problem allowing May to lead the country towards its Brexit deadline in March, which coincidently may be delayed and eventually scrapped altogether.

Meanwhile Tony Blair is cozying up to Brussels’ oligarchs, working his evil magic to derail the will of the British people, and keep the integrationist ambitions for the UK and Europe on track.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via RT


The UK government led by Theresa May, has survived to fight another day, after winning a no-confidence vote, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, following parliament rejecting the PM’s Brexit deal, earlier on Tuesday evening.

The no-confidence vote was defeated by 19 votes – the government winning by 325 to 306. It’s a rare positive note for May’s Tory cabinet after the humiliating Brexit defeat.

Speaking immediately after the vote, a victorious May said she was “pleased” that the House expressed its confidence in her government. May said she will “continue to work” to deliver on the result of the Brexit referendum and leave the EU.

May invited the leaders of parliamentary parties to meet with her individually, beginning on Wednesday evening.

“I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit,” she said.

Responding to the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the House had “emphatically” rejected May’s deal on Tuesday. The government, he said, must now remove “clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would result from that.”

Labour will now have to consider what move to make next. Their official Brexit policy, decided by members at conference in September, states that if a general election cannot be forced, then all options should be left on the table, including calling for a second referendum.

Liberal Democrats MP Ed Davey also called on May to rule out a no deal Brexit.

The way forward for Brexit is not yet clear and May’s options are now limited, given that the Brexit deal she was offering was voted down so dramatically on Tuesday.

Gavin Barrett, a professor at the UCD Sutherland School of Law in Dublin, told RT that May will now have to decide if her second preference is a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum. Her preference will likely be a no-deal Brexit, Barrett said, adding that “since no other option commands a majority in the House” a no-deal exit is now “the default option.”

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Final Steps in Syria’s Successful Struggle for Peace and Sovereignty

The war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus.

Published

on

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The situation in Syria evolves daily and sees two situations very closely linked to each other, with the US withdrawal from Syria and the consequent expansionist ambitions of Erdogan in Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) takeover in Idlib that frees the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian aviation to liberate the de-escalation zone.

Trump has promised to destroy Turkey economically if he attacks the Kurds, reinforcing his claim that Erdogan will not target the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) once the US withdraws from the area. One of the strongest accusations made against Trump’s withdrawal by his opponents is that no Middle Eastern force will ever trust the US again if they abandon the SDF to its fate, that is, to its annihilation at the hands of the Turkish army and its FSA proxies. This, however, is not possible; not so much because of Trump’s economic threats, but because of Damascus and Moscow being strongly opposed to any Turkish military action in the northeast of Syria.

This is a red line drawn by Putin and Assad, and the Turkish president likely understands the consequences of any wrong moves. It is no coincidence that he stated several times that he had no problems with the “Syrians or Syrian-Kurdish brothers”, and repeated that if the area under the SDF were to come under the control of Damascus, Turkey would have no need to intervene in Syria. Trump’s request that Ankara have a buffer zone of 20 kilometers separating the Kurdish and Turkish forces seems to complement the desire of Damascus and Moscow to avoid a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the SDF.

The only party that seems to be secretly encouraging a clash between the SDF and Turkish forces is Israel, criticizing Ankara and singing the praises of the SDF, in order to try and accentuate the tensions between the two sides, though naturally without success. Israel’s continued raids in Syria, though almost constantly failing due to Syrian air defense, and the divide-and-rule policy used against Turkey and the SDF, show that Tel Aviv is now weakened and mostly irrelevant in the Syrian conflict.

In Idlib, the situation seems to be becoming less complicated and difficult to decipher. Russia, Iran and Syria had asked Erdogan to take control of the province through its “moderate jihadists”, sit down at the negotiating table, and resolve the matter through a diplomatic solution. Exactly the opposite happened. The HTS (formerly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria) has in recent weeks conquered practically the whole province of Idlib, with numerous forces linked to Turkey (Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki) dissolving and merging into HTS. This development puts even more pressure on Erdogan, who is likely to see his influence in Idlib fade away permanently. Moreover, this evolution represents a unique opportunity for Damascus and Moscow to start operations in Idlib with the genuine justification of combating terrorism. It is a repeat of what happened in other de-escalation areas. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly requested the moderates be separated from the terrorists, so as to approach the situation with a diplomatic negotiation.

In the absence of an effective division of combatants, all are considered terrorists, with the military option replacing the diplomatic. This remains the only feasible option to free the area from terrorists who are not willing to give back territory to the legitimate government in Damascus and are keeping civilians hostages. The Idlib province seems to have experienced the same playbook applied in other de-escalation zones, this time with a clear contrast between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that shows how the struggle between the two countries is much deeper than it appears. The reasons behind the Khashoggi case and the diplomatic confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia were laid bare in the actions of the HTS in Idlib, which has taken control of all the areas previously held by Ankara’s proxies.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow and Damascus would like to encourage Erdogan to recover Idlib through its proxies, trying to encourage jihadists to fight each other as much as possible in order to lighten the task of the SAA, or whether they would prefer to press the advantage themselves and attack while the terrorist front is experiencing internal confusion.

In terms of occupied territory and accounts to be settled, two areas of great importance for the future of Syria remain unresolved, namely al-Tanf, occupied by US forces on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and the area in the north of Syria occupied by Turkish forces and their FSA proxies. It is too early to approach a solution militarily, it being easier for Damascus and Moscow to complete the work to free Syria from the remaining terrorists. Once this has been done, the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria, whether directly or indirectly, would become all the more difficult to justify. Driving away the US and, above all, Turkey from Syrian territory will be the natural next step in the Syrian conflict.

This is an unequivocal sign that the war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus. Several countries — including Italy in the near future — will reopen their embassies in Syria to demonstrate that the war, even if not completely over, is effectively won by Damascus and her allies.

For this reason, several countries that were previously opposed to Damascus, like the United Arab Emirates, are understood to have some kind of contact with the government of Damascus. If they intend to become involved in the reconstruction process and any future investment, they will quite naturally need to re-establish diplomatic relations with Damascus. The Arab League is also looking to welcome Syria back into the fold.

Such are signs that Syria is returning to normality, without forgetting which and how many countries have conspired and acted directly against the Syrians for over seven years. An invitation to the Arab League or some embassy being reopened will not be enough to compensate for the damage done over years, but Assad does not preclude any option, and is in the meantime demonstrating to the Israelis, Saudis and the US Deep State that their war has failed and that even their most loyal allies are resuming diplomatic relations with Damascus, a double whammy against the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending