From the Russian press, 6/21-6/28

Why I’m doing these.

Two articles this week. I’ve settled down on three a week as a reasonable schedule, translating one on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday; you’re getting an early update this week because I have a family reunion this weekend.

USA refuses to carry out military exercises* with Ukraine
[*lit. teachings]

The annual carrying-out of international exercises in the Crimean Peninsula, Sea Breeze, will by all appearances not be taking place this year. According to a source in the Ukrainian Navy, on the 17th of June the European commander of the American armed forces and the commander of the American 6th Fleet sent an official notification, saying that the Ukrainian-American exercises (with invitations sent to other countries) would not occur.

But Washington had predicted the mood in Kiev [having gone a little further, I wonder if this isn’t along the lines of ‘had responded to in advance’, but I’ll leave it this way]. In the previous week the first deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council Vladimir Ogryzko found opposition in Parliament, which refused to pass a law allowing for the admittance of the armed forces of foreign nations into Ukraine to take part in military exercises in the present year.

[Breaking a paragraph here where there wasn’t one in the original] “To see things in any other way is impossible: this is yet another example of political expedience and political interests prevailing over the common good,” said [Ogryzko]. In his opinion, the refusal to host the exercises has a negative effect on the international image of Ukraine. “In fact, it nullifies the international cooperation and makes more difficult [lit. ‘evens out’, and I’m not sure I have the right interpretation] a goal we would like to achieve.” This is an indirect reference to the country’s attempt to gain NATO membership.

[Another new paragraph break] In turn, a representative of the press office of Minister of Defense Konstantin Sadilov recognized that the position of the Verkhovna Rada [Supreme Council of Ukraine, but generally just transliterated]has already lead to the breakdown of Sea Breeze 2009, in which 13 countries had expressed a desire to participate. “If, before the end of the session (10th of June) parliament gives the order, we can still be ready in time for the exercises, as well as the naval exercises (Confidence 2009),” he said. “But the plans have already been frustrated, and there has been a negative impact on the level of training. The plan for 2009 had already been in crisis–11, down from 20 before the crisis.”

The primary director [? lit. ‘editor’] of the Fleet 2017 project, Dmitrii Tymchuk, told proUA.com that the main task of Sea Breeze 2009, in connection with increasing cases of capture of civil ships off the coasts of Somalia, was to prepare the forces of the Ukrainian Navy for a role in the fight against pirates. “The exercises were to involve 14 ships, boats, and naval support vessels, three ships of the State Border Service of Ukraine, seven helicopters and three airplanes of the Navy Aviation Force, the Army and Air Force [there’s an abbreviation in here (ВСУ) that I can’t find a translation for], one and a half thousand troops, and 50 vehicles,” he listed. In addition, the final phase of testing of the Antonov An-70 military transport was to occur during the exercises. In particular, the exercises with the aircraft would test different ways of deploying troops from the air.

I’m sure this is thrilling news to the folks in Moscow who’d like to bring Eastern Europe back under its influence. After the international response to Georgia 2008, I very much expect that the last thing the leaders of Russia want is Ukraine (a country their military could not feasibly subdue quite as quickly as Georgia) getting cozy with the West.

Pyongyang threatens to raze the U.S. to the ground

North Korea promised to wipe the United States off the face of the earth if the Pentagon, supported by Seoul and Tokyo, begins the attack on the DPRK. “If the American imperialists begin [lit. ‘unleash’] a new war, our country and our people will wipe the agressors off the face of the earth once and for all,” said the statement distributed by the state agency KCNA. It is noteworthy that this intimidating warning arrives on the day before the 59th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, which lasted from 1950-1953 and ended with the signing of the armistice agreement, although the two parts of the Korean peninsula remain [technically] at war. Moreover, last month Pyongyang declared that it no longer considers itself to be bound by the terms of the truce, and vowed to fight off South Korea and its allies, if necessary, reported K2Kapital.com.

Currently, the DPRK is preparing to launch short- or medium-range ballistic missiles, but not long-range missiles, as it did this April. At least, that is the belief of U.S. intelligence [agencies], from analyzing incoming information from spy satellites. Last weekend, North Korea gave a warning about its upcoming military exercises in the Sea of Japan. The zone which will be closed to shipping includes all of its coastal area of the Sea of Japan, and extends 450 km by 110 km. According to American intelligence, the location and dimensions of the zone, as well as other factors, indicate that Pyongyang plans to launch a missile. Experts agree that Pyongyang does not yet have a ballistic missile capable of reaching the coast of Hawaii, which are 7000 kilometers away. To build a missile capable of reaching the West Coast of the United States, the DPRK still needs about three to five years, analysts from RIA Novosti say.

Nothing on Google News about this. Granted, there’s not all that much news here, but when dictatorial regimes with nuclear weapons start saber-rattling and referring to wiping people off the face of the earth, I get a little nervous.

Thanks for reading. See you again next week.