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Here’s why first flight of Irkut MC-21 is so important for Russia

Alexander Mercouris




Russia today carried out the first flight of its new Irkut MC-21 narrow bodied civil airliner, its rival to the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320neo.

Here is video film of its first flight

Russia pins great hopes on the Irkut MC-21 to revive its once mighty civilian aircraft industry.

Though Soviet airliners were never imported by the West, the USSR was a major player in the field of civil aviation.

In the 1950s the TU-104 was one of the first commercial jet aircraft

In the 1960s the USSR produced strong and workmanlike designs, such the long range IL-62,

the medium range TU-154

and the short range YAK-40.

The Yak-40 in particular represented a revolution in civil aviation, being the world’s first short range commuter trijet, creating a whole new class of civilian jet aircraft.

Russian civil aviation however took a wrong turn in the late 1960s when technology and resources were diverted to develop the supersonic TU-144 aircraft, which ultimately proved uneconomical.  In the meantime the USSR fell seriously behind the US in developing new generation high bypass turbofan engines, such as are used in wide bodied aircraft such as the Boeing 747, which began to appear at the end of the 1960s.

For the Russians the bitter blow is that by the 1980s they were starting to draw level, producing three highly efficient high bypass turbofans – the PS-90, the D-36 and the very powerful D-18 – enabling the USSR to develop two aircraft: the TU-204

and the wide bodied IL-96

which with proper development would have become competitive with Western designs.

The collapse of the USSR however put paid to these plans, and the liberal governments that governed Russia in the 1990s allowed the country’s aircraft industry to collapse, whilst its oligarch owned airlines – which at this time included the national carrier Aeroflot – ceased buying Russian built aircraft, and began buying Boeing and Airbus aircraft instead from the West.

President Putin has been strongly committed to reviving the Russian aircraft industry, and the Irkut MC-21 is the first major fruit of this.

The key to the development of the Irkut MC-21 is the revival of Russia’s aircraft engine industry.

Russia’s one previous important venture in civil aircraft since the USSR’s fall – the Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional aircraft – uses SaM146 engines designed and produced jointly by Saturn of Russia and Snecma of France, though there are apparently plans to replace them with new engines entirely designed and built in Russia (possibly the Aviadvigatel PD-7).

The new Irkut MC-21 however uses purely Russian engines – the new Aviadvigatel PD-14 – one of a new family of high bypass turbofans distantly related to the PS-90, extending from the small PD-7 to the powerful PD-18R, and including the PD-12 turboprop engine for use by big helicopters like the Mi-26.

The Irkut MC-21 is itself distantly related to the YAK-242, a design planned by the USSR in the 1980s, though extensively modernised.  Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister in overall charge of its military industrial complex, who has also been tasked by Putin with supervising the revival of Russia’s civil aircraft industry, has spoken of reviving the name YAK-242 once the Irkut MC-21 is finally put into production.

The Irkut MC-21 will come in a variety of forms, able to carry between 132 and 211 passengers, with a range of between 6,000 and 6,500 kilometres.

The Russians claim that it is significantly more efficient than its chief Western rivals, the Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320neo, and that it will be significantly cheaper.

The first customer will the national carrier, Aeroflot, which has so far ordered 50, and which expects to take delivery of its first in 2019.

The Russian government will ensure that the Irkut MC-21 finds plenty of orders from Russian airlines. There are already said to be orders for 285, and the Russians predict that more than 1,000 will be built over the next 15 years, with production rates running at 20 per year from 2020, rising to 70-80 a year after 2023.  Internationally the Irkut MC-21 may however encounter competition from China’s Comac C919 – which has also just had its first flight – which however uses Western engines.

The great importance Putin attaches to the revival of Russia’s aircraft industry is shown by the keen interest he has taken in the development of the Irkut MC-21.

Interfax reports that immediately following the Irkut MC-21’s first flight Rogozin telephoned Putin to report its success, receiving Putin’s congratulations in return.

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Liviu Daniel Hogas

Good luck MC-21 and.. Bon Voyage!


Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch



The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.





Via RT…

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.



Via Zerohedge

In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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