Category: Military Maneuvers


What Germany Left Behind: A Feeling of Abandonment in North Afghanistan

By Nicola Abé

Photo Gallery: An Empty Base in Afghanistan Photos
Joel van Houdt/ DER SPIEGEL

Six months ago, Germany’s military withdrew from Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Since then, regional security has eroded and many of those left behind feel abandoned. Some say that the departure came too soon.

Captain Faridoon Hakimi is sitting next to an enormous barbecue once used by the Germans to grill sausage, munching on an almond and squinting. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and the midday sun is blazing down onto the former German military camp in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Next to him stands a solitary sign in the German language indicating the location of a certain “Büro Baumlade.”

It has been six months since Hakimi’s friends and allies from Germany left the camp. All of the parking slots for helicopters and armored vehicles are empty. The white blimp, which once held cameras aloft in order to monitor the camp’s immediate surroundings, no longer floats in the sky above.”We don’t need reconnaissance,” says Hakimi, 32, the new camp commander who oversees the Afghan National Army troops stationed there. “We have our eyes.” The blimp, he says smiling, was a waste of money anyway. Hakimi wears a carefully trimmed beard — and rubber sandals.

His eyes shift to the horizon where the mountains are slowly turning green, indicating spring’s approach. Hakimi knows that the green also means the Taliban will soon be back.

For 10 years, Germany was responsible for the province of Kunduz as part of its role in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). It was the first real war the Bundeswehr, as Germany’s military is known, participated in, and Berlin’s aims were lofty indeed. German development experts were to help extend rights to women, democracy was to be fostered and the economy was to grow significantly. Billions of euros were made available — and the blood of German soldiers was spilled. Kunduz was a place of great sacrifice.

Until Oct. 6, 2013. On that day, Germany handed over the camp to Afghanistan.

‘Too Soon’

“They ran away,” croaks the deputy police chief for the Kunduz province in his office and gestures dismissively. “They simply ran away. It was too soon.”

“It was too soon. It was like an escape.” One can hear almost exactly the same thing from the mouths of German soldiers, some of whom even compare the Bundeswehr’s departure with that of the Americans from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. “If there is one thing the Bundeswehr is really good at, it’s retreating,” is a sentiment that can often be heard in the government quarter in Berlin these days.

What, though, did the Germans really manage to accomplish in Kunduz and what did the 25 Germans killed in the region die for? What did all the money buy? What remains of the mission? Berlin would rather not provide an answer to these questions: A complete evaluation of the Afghanistan engagement is not on the agenda.

But there are answers to be found in the Kunduz Province itself. The closer one gets to the former German camp, the emptier the roads become. There are no trees to block one’s view of the far-away horizon; occasionally, a burned out car or oil drum lies on the shoulder of the road. The pizza delivery service once patronized by the Germans has closed its doors. A few uniformed soldiers are rolling out barbed wire at the camp’s entrance. “We are here to guard the buildings,” says Said Muyer, 25, of the Afghan police. He says he is essentially in charge, adding that the real commander hardly ever makes an appearance.

The road passes by empty guard houses and torn open sandbags on the way into a ghost town of broad roads, vacant barracks and open ground where helicopters once took off and landed. It seems like a settlement of aliens who stayed for a time but then left after realizing that the planet was inhospitable — despite the fitness studios, bars and the big German barbecue.

Some 2,000 soldiers were once stationed in the camp, but there are few relics of their presence among the ruins: an aluminum can that once contained processed meat, packages of “Exotic” drink mix and a few slices of whole-grain bread.

“They only left garbage behind,” says Muyer, kicking a container of potato goulash. “We don’t eat stuff like that.” He rattles the door leading into the mess hall, inside of which the tables and chairs are neatly stacked. “Everything is locked up,” he says. Muyer says that the refrigerators were already gone by the time he arrived, sold in the town market.

 

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Armed men outside an administrative building in Slovyansk, Ukraine. American officials say Russian troops or pro-Russian separatists under Moscow’s influence control such buildings. Credit Genya Savilov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry has accused Russia of behaving in a “19th-century fashion” because of its annexation of Crimea.

But Western experts who have followed the success of Russian forces in carrying out President Vladimir V. Putin’s policy in Crimea and eastern Ukraine have come to a different conclusion about Russian military strategy. They see a military disparaged for its decline since the fall of the Soviet Union skillfully employing 21st-century tactics that combine cyberwarfare, an energetic information campaign and the use of highly trained special operation troops to seize the initiative from the West.

“It is a significant shift in how Russian ground forces approach a problem,” said James G. Stavridis, the retired admiral and former NATO commander. “They have played their hand of cards with finesse.”

The abilities the Russian military has displayed are not only important to the high-stakes drama in Ukraine, they also have implications for the security of Moldova, Georgia, Central Asian nations and even the Central Europe nations that are members of NATO.

The dexterity with which the Russians have operated in Ukraine is a far cry from the bludgeoning artillery, airstrikes and surface-to-surface missiles used to retake Grozny, the Chechen capital, from Chechen separatists in 2000. In that conflict, the notion of avoiding collateral damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure appeared to be alien.

Since then Russia has sought to develop more effective ways of projecting power in the “near abroad,” the non-Russian nations that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has tried to upgrade its military, giving priority to its special forces, airborne and naval infantry — “rapid reaction” abilities that were “road tested” in Crimea, according to Roger McDermott, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.

The speedy success that Russia had in Crimea does not mean that the overall quality of the Russian Army, made up mainly of conscripts and no match for the high-tech American military, has been transformed.

“The operation reveals very little about the current condition of the Russian armed forces,” said Mr. McDermott. “Its real strength lay in covert action combined with sound intelligence concerning the weakness of the Kiev government and their will to respond militarily.”

Still, Russia’s operations in Ukraine have been a swift meshing of hard and soft power. The Obama administration, which once held out hope that Mr. Putin would seek an “off ramp” from the pursuit of Crimea, has repeatedly been forced to play catch-up after the Kremlin changed what was happening on the ground.

“It is much more sophisticated, and it reflects the evolution of the Russian military and of Russian training and thinking about operations and strategy over the years,” said Stephen J. Blank, a former expert on the Russian military at the United States Army War College who is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council.

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American Forces Press Service

 News Article

Stavridis Presses for More NATO-Russia Dialogue

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2013 – Noting increased cooperation between NATO and Russia in several key areas, the top NATO and U.S. European Command commander emphasized today the importance of working through stumbling blocks in what he called a “complicated partnership.”

In a blog post, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis cited concerted efforts by both parties since NATO’s 2010 summit in Lisbon, Portugal, where the alliance’s 28 heads of state and government agreed on the need to pursue “a true strategic partnership” between NATO and Russia and noted in the strategic concept that they expect reciprocity from Russia.

Stavridis recognized several areas where increased cooperation has shown signs of paying off: counterpiracy; support for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, military exchanges and training exercises, counterterrorism and counternarcotics, among them.

“Overall, we enjoy cooperation and some level of partnership in a variety of important areas,” he said. “On the other hand, there are clearly challenges in the relationship.”

Stavridis noted Russia’s objections to the European phased adaptive approach for missile defense. “Russia sees the NATO missile defense system as posing a threat to their strategic intercontinental ballistic missile force,” he said. “We strongly disagree, and feel that the system is clearly designed to protect populations against Iran, Syria and other ballistic-missile-capable nations that threaten the European continent.”

NATO and Russia also disagree over Russian forces stationed in Georgia and NATO’s role in Libya, Stavridis said.

“We maintain that we operated under the U.N. Security Council mandate to establish a no-fly zone, provide an arms embargo and protect the people of Libya from attacks,” he said, calling NATO’s actions “well within the bounds of the [U.N.] mandate and the norms of international law.

“Russia sees this differently,” Stavridis continued, “and whenever I discuss this with Russian interlocutors, we find little room for agreement. This tends to create a differing set of views about the dangerous situation in Syria as well.”

Stavridis noted Russian Ambassador to NATO Alexander Grushko’s stated concerns that these differences — and the installation of NATO military infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders — threaten to unravel progress made in their relations.

“Notwithstanding differences on particular issues, we remain convinced that the security of NATO and Russia is intertwined,” Stavridis said, quoting the NATO strategic concept agreed to in Lisbon. “A strong and constructive partnership based on mutual confidence, transparency and predictability can best serve our security,” it states.

Stavridis recognized areas in which the growing NATO-Russian relationship is bearing fruit:

– Counterpiracy: Loosely coordinated efforts by NATO and Russian ships have reduced piracy by 70 percent over the past year and caused the number of ships and mariners held hostage to plummet in what the admiral called “a very effective operation.”

– Afghanistan support: Russia contributed small arms and ammunition to the Afghan security forces and sold MI-17 helicopters and maintenance training to the Afghan air force. In addition, Russia provides logistical support, including a transit arrangement that helps to sustain NATO-led ISAF forces and redeployment efforts.

– Military exchanges and exercises: Russian service members are participating in more of these engagements with the United States and NATO. These exchanges, including port calls in Russia, have been well-received by both militaries, Stavridis noted.

– Arctic cooperation: Russia is collaborating with other members of the Arctic Council, including the United States, Norway, Denmark, Canada and Iceland, to ensure the Arctic remains a zone of cooperation.

– Counterterrorism: In the lead-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, NATO is offering assistance and information-sharing via a variety of channels, Stavridis reported.

– Counternarcotics: NATO and Russia are working together to stem the flow of heroin from Afghanistan, a high priority for Russia.

Expressing hopes that NATO and Russia can continue to build on this cooperation, Stavridis said areas of tensions and disagreements need to be addressed.

“No one wants to stumble backwards toward the Cold War, so the best course for the future is open discussion, frank airing of disagreements, and hopefully seeking to build the ‘true strategic partnership’ set out in the NATO strategic concept,” he said. “Clearly, we have some work to do.”

 

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Biographies:
Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis
Related Sites:
NATO International Security Assistance Force
U.S. European Command
Special Report: U.S. European Command

 

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Dozens of Ukrainian troops surrender APCs in Slavyansk, refuse to ‘shoot at own people’ (PHOTO, VIDEO)

Published time: April 16, 2014 14:21
Edited time: April 16, 2014 20:18

Men wearing military fatigues sit by a Russian flag and a white flag reading "People's volunteer corps of Donetsk" as they ride on an armoured personnel carrier (APC) in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 16, 2014. (AFP Photo)

Men wearing military fatigues sit by a Russian flag and a white flag reading “People’s volunteer corps of Donetsk” as they ride on an armoured personnel carrier (APC) in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 16, 2014. (AFP Photo)

Dozens of army troops sent to the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk for an “anti-terrorist operation” refused to follow orders and surrendered their weapons and armored vehicles. Some troops openly voiced support for the eastern Ukrainians.

Follow RT’s LIVE UPDATES on military operation in eastern Ukraine

According to Interfax, citing local self-defense activists, some 300 Ukrainian troops agreed to lay down their weapons and “go home” following negotiations in Slavyansk.

“We managed to negotiate with them. About 300 military – only some of those who closed around the city – decided to lay down their arms and go home,” a self-defense activist was quoted as saying.

Reports from the scene said that the locals would not allow the soldiers to take back the APCs, but they were allowed to keep their rifles. The people were cheering the troops.

Meanwhile, the anti-government activists guarding the armored vehicles have said that they did not “seize” them as the media claimed, and that the troops “switched sides” peacefully.

“They were not seized by the self-defense forces. In fact, the Ukrainian troops arrived here flying a Russian flag. In this way, they have taken the side of the people,” a Slavyansk activist told Russia-24 TV.

 

Photos from the scene now show women and children climbing onto the APCs and taking photos with the armed men in camouflage with St. George ribbons.

A Ukrainian soldier interviewed by RIA Novosti in Slavyansk said the troops were told they are being sent against “Russian invaders who have taken the local population hostage and are waging war at us,” and that they must “free Donbas from occupants.”

“This morning, we started our attack, but the picture we saw in Kramatorsk turned out to be completely different. We saw in front of us a crowd of locals, mostly adults, women and men. They explained to us that there are no occupants here and there is no one to fight. Instead, they gave us food and talked to us,” the soldier was quoted as saying.

He added that the troops vowed “not to follow orders to shoot at these people.” Some soldiers chose to take the side of the locals, some decided to stay “neutral.” They are now “waiting what comes next.”

Photo from Twitter/@oivshina

Photo from Twitter/@oivshina

Similar developments were also seen in another Donetsk region city, Kramatorsk, where Ukrainian troops began entering Tuesday after taking a nearby airfield by force, captured a day earlier by armed self-defense activists.

As Ukrainian armored vehicles rolled into the city’s center Wednesday, they were surrounded by locals and surrendered. Some of the APCs were filmed flying Russian flags in support of the locals. Kiev eventually confirmed that six APCs were taken away in Kramatorsk but claimed that they were “captured by the extremists.” Earlier, coup-imposed Kiev officials dismissed the news as “fake” and even claimed that by raising Russian flags the troops “infiltrated” the areas “controlled by Russian Army units and separatists.”

In the village of Pchyolkino, south of Kramatorsk, locals blocked part of a large convoy of armored vehicles. The people are demanding that the troops turn back their vehicles and leave for Dnepropetrovsk, where they are stationed.

 

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Local residents trying to block troops on APCs in the same region were filmed showing bullets that they say were fired by the Ukrainian military as warning shots but in the direction of the people. At least one person was injured by such warning shots, according to reports.

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Witnesses:  Fighter jet was shot down Over Kramatorsk Airport

 

© Reuters/Michael Počuev
April 15, 18:31 UTC +4

Troops land in terminal area

 

Kyiv, April 15. /ITAR-TASS/.  Fighter  shot down over Kramatorsk Airport .  Reported by eyewitnesses on the scene.
In particular, they report that four fighter jets flew over Kramatorskom  , the Su-27, allegedly opened fire over the local airfield. Whose aircraft and who is responsible for  the fighter jet is still unknown. Witnesses noted that  an ambulance arrived on the scene to tend to  victims on the airfield.
Newspaper, News of Kramatorsk”, reports that three  were circling over the airfield.   According to  information,  a group of people had gathered near the aerodrome , some of them in camouflage uniforms, many local residents with  children. According to preliminary data, shooting in the aerodrome area wounded one person.

 

About 500 troops with military equipment  entered  Slavyansk
Witnesses report that troops had landed in the terminal area, there are no  more details available at this time.
The situation in Ukraine. Chronicle of events. 15 April
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Armed Men Seize Police Station in Eastern Ukraine City

Armed men wearing masks and camouflage uniforms guard a police station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slovyansk on Saturday. Credit Anatoliy Stepanov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

DONETSK, Ukraine — Pro-Russian militants attacked police stations and other security facilities in the most populous part of eastern Ukraine on Saturday, in a brush fire of violent unrest that the government in Kiev immediately denounced as Russian “aggression.”

The attacks on the Police Headquarters here and on a police station and a state security branch in Slovyansk about 60 miles away, along with reports of shooting in several other towns, suggested a coordinated campaign to destabilize the Donetsk region, a vitally important industrial and coal-mining area that borders Russia.

A local journalist on the scene said the raid on the police station appeared to be the work of local pro-Russian militants rather than a repeat of the scenario in Crimea, where heavily armed Russian soldiers without markings on their uniforms seized control of airports and other vital installations in late February at the start of a Kremlin-orchestrated campaign to annex the region.

In Donetsk, the regional capital, a group of unarmed pro-Moscow activists tried to storm a prosecutor’s office, but were beaten back by riot police. A few blocks away, several hundred people gathered outside the headquarters of the regional administration to cheer pro-Russian groups that seized the building last Sunday and declared an independent state, the People’s Republic of Donetsk. Ukrainian authorities vowed on Wednesday to end the occupation, by force if necessary, by Friday but later backed away from this threat, hoping that government promises of more local autonomy for Ukraine’s Russian-speaking regions might resolve the standoff.

But there was no sign Saturday of the protesters ending their occupation. Instead, they reinforced their defensive barricades and welcomed several dozen Cossacks in military uniforms to their ranks.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, called an emergency meeting late Saturday of the country’s national security council to discuss the escalating crisis in the mainly Russian-speaking east of the country. Fears that the government is losing control have been fueled by the militants’ seizing of a large number of weapons over the last week. Some 300 automatic rifles were taken from the Donetsk offices of the state security service after it was briefly taken over by pro-Russian protesters last weekend, and according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, 400 Makarov handguns and 20 automatic weapons were looted on Saturday from the police station in Slovyansk, which had been seized. “The goal of the takeover was the guns,” the ministry said.

Play Video|0:59

Pro-Russian Protesters Build Barricades

After seizing a police station in Slovyansk, Ukraine, pro-Russian protesters raised the banner of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and constructed barricades around the station.

Credit Anastasia Vlasova/European Pressphoto Agency

The demands of the pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine keep shifting between outright secession and greater autonomy within Ukraine. But calls for unity with Russia now seem to predominate, heightening concerns in the West that Moscow is orchestrating the disorder to create a pretext for an invasion. Russian troops have been massed for weeks near the Ukrainian border.

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New Zealand Herald 

Kiev government to deploy troops in Ukraine’s east

Armed pro-Russian activist stands at a makeshift checkpoint at the entrance into the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk. Photo / AP

Armed pro-Russian activist stands at a makeshift checkpoint at the entrance into the eastern Ukrainian town of Slovyansk. Photo / AP

Turning to force to try to restore its authority in the vital industrial east, Ukraine’s government announced it was sending in troops to try to quash an increasingly brazen pro-Russian insurgency, despite repeated warnings from the Kremlin.

Accusing Moscow of fomenting the unrest, Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a televised address that such a “large-scale anti-terrorist operation” would ensure Russia did not “repeat the Crimean scenario in Ukraine’s east.” Turchynov pledged to offer amnesty to anyone surrendering their weapons by Monday morning (local time).

Watch: Ukraine to launch anti-terror operation

Video

Reliance on the military is a response that hints at concerns over the reliability of the police, who have often proven unable or unwilling to repel pro-Russian gunmen and other Moscow loyalists from seizing key state facilities.

With tens of thousands of Russian troops massed along Ukraine’s eastern border, there are fears that Moscow might use unrest in the mainly Russian-speaking region as a pretext for an invasion.

Speaking late Sunday on Russian state television, ousted president Viktor Yanukovych accused the CIA of being behind the new government’s decision to turn to force, a claim the CIA denied as “completely false.”

Yanukovych claimed that CIA director John Brennan met with Ukraine’s new leadership and “in fact sanctioned the use of weapons and provoked bloodshed.”

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd said that while the agency doesn’t comment on Brennan’s travel itinerary, the “claim that director Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations inside Ukraine is completely false.”

Ukraine now has “one foot into a civil war,” Yanukovych declared, flanked by his former prosecutor general and interior minister, the two associates most despised by the protesters whose monthslong demonstrations were ignited by Yanukovych’s decision to back away from closer relations with the European Union and turn toward Russia. Yanukovych fled to Russia in February, saying he feared for his life.

Earlier Sunday, Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia outside the eastern city of Slovyansk – the first reported gunbattle in the east, where armed pro-Russian men have seized a number of key government buildings to press their demands for referendums on autonomy and possible annexation by Russia, following the pattern set by the vote in Crimea last month. A Ukrainian security officer was killed and at least two others wounded.

Calling such attacks a “Russian aggression,” Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post Sunday that special forces of up to 12,000 people will be drawn from volunteers who will be tasked with resisting attacks from pro-Russian forces in their local areas.

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Ukraine crisis: Helicopter gunships take country closer to all-out war

 Ukrainian troops use helicopters to seize back airport held by pro-Russian militiamen while ground forces gather around separatist stronghold of Slovyansk

Slovyansk

A prolonged and increasingly vicious confrontation in eastern Ukraine has turned into armed conflict as Ukrainian troops used helicopter gunships to seize back an airport that had been held by pro-Russian militiamen.

The attack at Kramatorsk came as ground forces with armour gathered around Slovyansk, which had become a symbolic stronghold for well-armed separatists.

At Kramatorsk, two of the aircraft carried out strafing runs, before two others landed troops. Four people were believed to have been injured, but claims of people killed, some of them civilians, could not be verified.

A stand-off developed afterwards, when protesters unfurled a banner saying “Shame on you! Go back home” and shouting while the soldiers fired in the air. Eight miles away the residents of Slovyansk marched towards their own small airstrip. They were, they stated, doing so to protect it from “fascists and Nazis” being flown in from the west of the country.

The outbreak of fighting raised deep trepidation that Ukraine, which has already lost Crimea to the Kremlin, could be entering into a civil war which may lead to the intervention of Vladimir Putin, who has repeatedly declared that he was prepared to act to protect ethnic Russians across the border.

The Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev, warned “Ukraine is on the brink of civil war”, adding that he hoped the Kiev administration had “enough brains” to avoid a catastrophic escalation. He blamed the government in Kiev for creating a situation where people felt they had no choice but to rise up for their rights.

Key installations in 10 cities have now slipped out of the control of Kiev and into the hands of protesters who are demanding a referendum on the future of the country. Repeated ultimatums for the gunmen to surrender have been ignored, severely damaging the credibility of the government.

As evening fell the office of Ukraine’s acting President, Olexander Turchynov, announced that the airfield had been captured in an “anti-terrorist operation”. There were also claims that a number of public buildings in the region had been retaken; but there was no immediate verification of that on the ground.

 

The operation at Kramatorsk appeared to be aimed at providing a landing site for positioning forces on one approach to Slovyansk.

Airborne forces, along with Ministry of Interior police units, were at Kamianka, near Izyum, south east of Kiev, with armoured personnel carriers, light artillery and transport helicopters. Further back, an armoured bulldozer for clearing barricades had been parked near a hotel. General Vasily Krutov, commander of Ukraine’s security service, SBU, was in no doubt about the need for action or the identity of the enemy.

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Creating A Problem 

Inciting A Reaction

Implementing A Manufactured Solution

~Desert Rose~

US considers offering military help to Ukraine – Kerry advisor

Published time: April 14, 2014 18:50

AFP Photo / Dibyangshu Sarkar

AFP Photo / Dibyangshu Sarkar

An advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that the United States may decide to send arms to eastern Ukraine as tensions continue to worsen there between pro-Russian protesters and supporters of the country’s interim government.

Reuters reported on Monday that US State Department Counselor Thomas Shannon — a senior diplomat and member of Sec. Kerry’s inner circle — said the possibility of providing arms to Ukrainian forces is indeed currently on the table.

“Obviously we are looking at that as an option … but at this point I can’t anticipate whether or not we are going to do that,” Reuters quoted Shannon as saying.

The counselor’s remarks come following yet another intense weekend in Ukraine, where government buildings, a military airport and other facilities in the east of the country were reportedly seized by armed pro-Russian protesters. Weeks after a similar standoff in the adjacent peninsula of Crimea led to the severing of ties with Ukraine and the subsequent approval of a referendum agreeing to join the Russian Federation, critics in the West are questioning whether or not Moscow has been involved in the latest series of events.

“From our point of view what we are seeing in a series of cities mimics what we saw in Crimea both in terms of the tactics and in terms of the people involved,” the State Department’s Shannon told Reuters early this week. “From our point of view there is a very obvious Russian hand in all of this and we consider these actions to be destabilising and dangerous.” William Hague, Britain’s foreign ministry, has made similar remarks as well.

Thomas Shannon (AFP Photo / Nelson Almeida)

Thomas Shannon (AFP Photo / Nelson Almeida)

But Vitaly Churkin — Russia’s envoy to the United Nations — has denounced rumors of his country playing any role in the unrest as false, and the Foreign Ministry has called allegations “irresponsible.”

Also on Monday this week, Moscow’s envoy to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said he was worried about the possibility that force would be used against pro-Russian demonstrators in Ukraine, and said he strongly believes “it might lead to a civil war.”

 

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Kerry adviser says arming Ukraine forces is an option

BERLIN Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:30am EDT

(Reuters) – The United States is considering supplying arms to Ukraine, where unrest in eastern cities bears the hallmarks of a Russian destabilization drive, an adviser to Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday.

Ukraine’s president on Monday threatened military action after pro-Russian separatists occupying government buildings in the east ignored an ultimatum to leave and another group of rebels attacked a police headquarters in the troubled region.

Asked during a trip to Berlin whether the United States could arm Ukrainian forces, senior diplomat Thomas Shannon said: “Obviously we are looking at that as an option … but at this point I can’t anticipate whether or not we are going to do that.”

Republican Senator John McCain has suggested providing weapons to the Ukraine government, which says the occupations that began on Sunday are part of a Russian-led plan to dismember the country.

 

 

 

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Anxious islanders on the front line are evacuated as both countries exchange fire across their disputed western maritime border.

A North Korean soldier looks on at the South side

Video: North And South Korea Exchange Live Fire

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South Korea says it has fired shells into North Korean waters in response to live fire drills carried out by Pyongyang.

Residents of a South Korean island on the front line were evacuated as both countries exchanged fire across their disputed western maritime border.

Anxious residents sought refuge in shelters on Yeonpyeong island, where in 2010, North Korean artillery killed four South Koreans.

One islander, Kang Myeong-sung, said he did not see any fighter jets but could hear the boom of the shells.

North Korea had announced it was going to conduct some military drills.

South Korea and the US conduct a joint military exercise in Pohang
South Korea and the US conduct a joint military exercise in Pohang

Sky’s Asia Correspondent Mark Stone said: “These are worrying developments … but no one has been injured, no one has been killed and indeed none of these rockets or missiles landed on any military installations or any land, so this is effectively both sides showing their strength.”

 

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Channel News Asia

 

N Korea announces live-fire drill, driving up tensions

 

North Korea announced a live-fire drill Monday near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a “new form” of nuclear test.

 

 

SEOUL: North Korea announced a live-fire drill Monday near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a “new form” of nuclear test.

The South’s Yonhap news agency, citing an unnamed government official, said the exercise began around 12:15pm (0315 GMT), with artillery shells landing in North Korean waters, north of the South-controlled Baengnyeong island.

There was no immediate official confirmation that the drill was under way, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) warned of immediate retaliation if any ordinance landed on the South side of the border.

The Yellow Sea border is an extremely sensitive region that has been the scene of brief but bloody clashes in the past.

In November 2010, North Korea shelled a South Korean island near the border, killing four people and triggering concerns of a full-scale conflict.

It is not unusual for North Korea to carry out a live-fire exercise, but it does not normally notify the South in advance.

“The fact that they have sent such a message to us indicates their hostile intention,” said South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Wi Yong-seop.

“The aim is to threaten us and rack up tension on the Yellow Sea border and the overall Korean peninsula,” Wi said, adding that Seoul was closely monitoring the situation.

The North’s notification designated seven areas close to the border and said all South Korean vessels should be kept away from them.

“We notified the North that we would strongly respond with fire if it fires across the border,” a JCS official told reporters.

Monday’s announcement came a day after North Korea threatened to carry out a “new form” of nuclear test — seen as a possible reference to efforts to build a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile.

 

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Channel News Asia

Two Koreas trade fire across maritime border: military

North and South Korea traded fire across their disputed maritime border on Monday, with the South’s military saying it had responded to shells landing in its waters from a North live-fire drill.

SEOUL: North and South Korea traded fire across their disputed maritime border on Monday, with the South’s military saying it had responded to shells landing in its waters from a North live-fire drill.

“Some of the shells fired by North Korea dropped in our area and our side responded with fire,” a spokesman for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff told AFP.

There was no indication that either side was firing at any particular target.

On South-Korea-controlled Baengnyeong island, close to the maritime boundary, officials said residents had been taken to shelters as a precaution.

“We are urging all residents to evacuate to shelters right now, and some have already done so,” a town hall official on the island told AFP.

North Korea earlier announced a live-fire drill Monday near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a “new form” of nuclear test.

 

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South Korea returns fire after North Korean shells land in disputed waters

 
North and South Korea exchange fire after military drill – video

South Korean islanders fled to shelters as their country’s forces returned the North’s fire near a disputed sea boundary on Monday, amid renewed tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The skirmish in the Yellow or Western Sea came a day after Pyongyang warned that it could carry out a “new kind” of nuclear test , and followed multiple missile tests by the North. Experts have also warned that it could be harder to predict the country’s actions given the recent political turbulence which saw its youthful leader Kim Jong-un purge his uncle Jang Song-taek.

No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, an official with South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff told Associated Press. Unusually, the North warned in advance that it planned to hold a live-fire drill; when a shell landed south of the disputed boundary, the South, which had warned it would respond, returned fire into North Korean waters.

Tensions are common at this time of year because of the North’s anger at annual joint military exercises by the South and the US, but the exchange of fire was the most dramatic incident near the northern limit line since 2010.

The South scrambled F-15 fighters to patrol its side of the border and authorities evacuated the residents of five frontline islands to shelters. Kang Myeong-sung, a resident speaking to AP from a shelter on Yeonpyeong, said he did not see any fighter jets, but he could hear the boom of artillery fire. In 2010, North Korean artillery killed four South Koreans on Yeonpyeong; Pyongyang said it was responding to the South’s exercises.

 

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Ukraine’s secret unit of spy DOLPHINS that can plant bombs and attack divers with guns have defected to Russia

  • The Ukraine Army has been using dolphins and seals since the 70s
  • After the fall of the USSR, the ‘dolphin spies’ remained in the Ukraine
  • The dolphins have been trained to hunt for mines and plant bombs
  • They can also attack divers with knives or pistols attached to their heads
  • Now, military dolphins in Crimea will be transferred to the Russian Navy

By Will Stewart

 

 

The Army has been using the underwater mammals since the 70s, and they remained under Ukrainian command after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The bottlenose dolphins are trained to hunt for mines, plant bombs on hostile ships or attack enemy divers with special knives or pistols fixed to their heads.

 

Defecting: The Ukrainian army's dolphins, trained to hunt for mines, plant bombs and attack enemy divers, will be transferred to the Russian Navy

Defecting: The Ukrainian army’s dolphins, trained to hunt for mines, plant bombs and attack enemy divers, will be transferred to the Russian Navy

Loyal: The army has been using the underwater mammals since the 70s, and they remained under Ukrainian command after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Loyal: The army has been using the underwater mammals since the 70s, and they remained under Ukrainian command after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

 

 

The use of bottlenose dolphins as naval assets was begun during the Cold War in Sevastopol by the Soviet Union in 1973. With the collapse of the USSR, they were enlisted in the Ukrainian navy.

Now after the Russian repossession of the Crimean peninsula this month, it was revealed today that the combat dolphins are now back under Kremlin control along with all 193 military units in the region.

 ‘The military dolphins serving in Crimea will be transferred to the Russian Navy,’ reported state-owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

In fact, Ukraine announced last month it was preparing to cease naval training with the mammals, so the Russian annexation of the Black Sea region has probably saved the unique underwater force.

‘Engineers are developing new equipment for new programmes so that the dolphins can be used more effectively in underwater operations,’ a source said today.

 

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SUPERPOWERS


by Staff Writers
Manila (AFP) March 13, 2014


The incident took place at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly island group, which is around 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan and which Manila insists is part of its continental shelf.

 

The Philippine military said Thursday it had evaded a Chinese sea blockade by using an airplane to drop food to soldiers on a tiny and remote South China Sea shoal claimed by both countries.

The incident was the latest to escalate tensions between the Asian nations over their conflicting claims to parts of the South China Sea, a major sealane and rich fishing ground that is believed to hold vast mineral resources.

“We confirmed there was an airdrop of food to our troops,” Defence Department spokesman Peter Paul Galvez said.

He said the airdrop was “via airplane,” but did not say when it occurred nor give further details.

The incident took place at Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly island group, which is around 200 kilometres (125 miles) from the western Philippine island of Palawan and which Manila insists is part of its continental shelf.

The shoal is more than 1,000 kilometres from Hainan island, the closest Chinese landmass, but China claims nearly all of the South China Sea based on what it says are historical records.

A tiny unit of Filipino marines live on the BRP Sierra Madre, a decrepit, beached former World-War-II US navy transport ship that was transferred to the Philippine navy and run aground on the shoal in the 1990s.

 

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Proof US Staging False Flag For WW3

Susan Duclos

Published on Mar 12, 2014

Article associated with this video at http://b4in.info/hVIT

Hacked emails show the US planning a false flag to justify an attack against Russia.

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Live Journal

Андрей Споров (Andrey Sporaw) (sporaw) wrote,

Correspondence of US Army Attache Assistant in Kiev

We have hacked e-mail correspondence of US Army Attache Assistant in Kiev Jason Gresh and a high ranking official from Ukrainian General Staff Igor Protsyk.

It appears that they are planning to conduct a series of attacks on Ukrainian military bases in order to destabilize the situation in Ukraine.

Particularly, Jason Gresh writes to Igor Protsyk that it’s time to implement a plan that implies “causing problems to the transport hubs in the south-east of Ukraine in order to frame-up the neighbor. It will create favorable conditions for Pentagon to act”, says Jason Gresh.

In his turn, Protsyk writes to some Vasil and tells him to arrange an attack on an airbase of 25 aviation brigade of Ukrainian air force stationed in Melitopol.

This Vasil is responsible for arranging the details of the attack, gathering of the gunmen and providing them with a map of sites that are chosen to be attacked.

We strongly recommend everyone to look through these documents. There you will find all the details. (Anon)

(Архив) / (Перевыложено дополнительно)

Read More Here

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Emails translated via Google

1st Email:

Oleg , an urgent need poshumity on behalf of Russians at the airport in Melitopol. This should be done by March 15 . Sam understands why.
First of all you must contact Pasha Tarasenko. You must know him , he is a local Liberty and has a theme.
Before you arrive 10-12 boys from the Centre. Top fighters Trident . Chief Mike there , you should know it too . Details will know him. We need people to meet and provide everything you need.
Proceed with caution. Speak only Russian. 25 team is executing combat missions , so do not do them much damage to aircraft . There is a lot of scrap metal, with it you can do anything . Damaged aircraft you specify. It is essential that all was as real attack neighbor’s Special Forces. But without corpses.
Give me again your account. The money will come in time, do not worry.
See the appendix . This is an example of action. Decisions are made in person.

2nd Email:

Basil , you must quickly carry out proactive in Melitopol. There’s 25 aviation brigade . Must zamaraty our sworn friends and good neighbors. I think you understand me.
Just proceed carefully and cautiously. 25 brigade combat mission out , so do not do them much damage to aircraft . There is already damaged aircraft , that He can do everything. Yihny board numbers you give. Remember , you need everything to be as real attack of the Russian Special Forces.
Brigade commander there is a reasonable man . Details of know he will not, but in extreme cases it can turn to. We did come.

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US abandoned international law, abides by ‘law of the jungle’ in Ukraine

Published time: March 11, 2014 01:21

Participants hold different-colored pieces of paper to display the Russian flag at the rally in support of the Crimean Parliament and Sevastopol City Council's decision to reunite with Russia, staged on Nakhimov Square in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

Participants hold different-colored pieces of paper to display the Russian flag at the rally in support of the Crimean Parliament and Sevastopol City Council’s decision to reunite with Russia, staged on Nakhimov Square in Sevastopol. (RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov)

Western powers are following an agenda to partition the map of the European region under which a portion of the Black Sea territory will be under US domination, former vice president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Willy Wimmer, told RT.

The veteran German politician, who served as a Defense Ministry state secretary, reminded that no Western government is talking about the extreme right element of the government in Kiev.

RT: More than a decade ago, you told your country’s leadership of a disturbing connection between NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia and plans for the alliance’s expansion. We have some extracts from the letter you wrote to then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder after a conference organized by the US State Department. You raised concerns over some of the conclusions reached, such as: “It would be good, during NATO’s current enlargement, to restore the territorial situation in the area between the Baltic Sea and Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) such as existed during the Roman Empire…” Do you think these plans still exist? And, if so, could the Ukrainian crisis be playing a role?

Willy Wimmer: I think what I thought of Gerhard Schröder is similar to Angela Merkel in May 2000 – is exactly what is going on in these days. During the conference in Bratislava which was high ranking with state presidents, prime ministers, defense, and foreign ministers, and organized by the top leadership of the US State Department, they made a proposal to draw a line between Riga on the Baltic Sea, Odessa on the Black Sea, and Diyarbakir. All the territories west of this line should be under US domination, and the territories east of this line – they might be the Russian Federation or somebody else. That was the proposal – and when we see developments since then, I think it’s like a schedule which had been presented to the conference participants; everything happens exactly as it was on the timetable in Bratislava.

RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov

RIA Novosti/Valeriy Melnikov

RT: Let’s take a look at another passage from your letter: “In all processes, peoples’ rights to self-determination should be favored over all other provisions or rules of international law.” That seemed to be agreed upon by high-profile Western diplomats taking part in that conference – why such staunch opposition to Crimea holding a similar referendum on its status now?

WW: Because they didn’t make it. What we saw since the middle of the ‘90s – I think caused all these problems we have here today. Until the mid-90s, all major powers agreed in international law, and in cooperation. But in the middle of the 90s, the US changed habits, changed attitudes. They no longer pursed international law, they proposed the law of the jungle. At the beginning was the war against Yugoslavia, and since then, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, everything is going because of these developments, and they no longer stick to international law and to cooperation. They make use of military might and this creates the trouble and the fear we have in Europe.

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‘Blackwater’ footage: Who are the mercenaries in Ukraine?

Published time: March 09, 2014 19:51

Screenshot from YouTube user WorldEarthNews

Screenshot from YouTube user WorldEarthNews

Videos have sprung on YouTube alleging that the US private security service formerly known as Blackwater is operating in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Western press is hitting back, accusing Russia of fabricating reports to justify “aggression.”

The authenticity of videos allegedly made in downtown Donetsk on March 5 is hard to verify. In the footage, unidentified armed men in military outfits equipped with Russian AK assault rifles and American М4А1 carbines are securing the protection of some pro-Kiev activists amidst anti-government popular protests.

The regional administration building in Donetsk has changed hands many times, with either pro-Russian protesters or pro-Kiev forces declaring capture of the authority headquarters. In the logic of the tape, at some point the new officials appointed by revolutionary Kiev managed to occupy the administration, but then – as the building was surrounded by angry protesters – demanded to secure a safe evacuation.

Read More Here

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The Truthseeker: NGO documents plan Ukraine war (E35)

RT RT

Published on Mar 8, 2014

NGOs caught forging documents for war, insider warns all NGOs infiltrated; ‘Independent military observers’ for EU-based group OSCE again turned away in Crimea, OSCE branded one more ‘vulgar instrument’ for foreign interests; and CNN buys the latest State Department hoax.

Seek truth from facts with Illinois University Professor of International Law and former Amnesty board member Francis Boyle; Infowars Editor Paul Joseph Watson; Eric Draitser of Boiling Frogs Post; Ron Paul Institute Executive Director Daniel McAdams; Ukraine protest organizers; Sliman Bouchuiguir, whose NGO fabricated the claims against Libya; and Asst. Secretary of State Vic Nuland.

READ FULL SCRIPT: http://on.rt.com/s4z7cf

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The Atlantic

Russia’s Seizure of Crimea Is Making Former Soviet States Nervous

The crisis in Ukraine has countries formerly in Russia’s orbit fearing Putin’s next moves.

A man holds the Russian flag in front of a statue of Lenin in Simferopol, Crimea on March 1. (David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters)

For the first time since the Soviet Union’s collapse more than two decades ago, Russian military forces have moved into an Eastern European country and occupied its territory. Over 15,000 Russian soldiers are now stationed in Ukraine’s autonomous republic of Crimea, according to Ukrainian officials (it’s not clear how many of them were already in the region before this crisis), in a deployment ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to protect “Russian citizens and compatriots on Ukrainian territory.” No shots have been fired, but Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, has placed his country’s military on its highest alert level to deter “potential aggression,” as the United States condemned Russia’s “invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory” in violation of international law.

Fifteen independent countries, including Russia, emerged from the Soviet Union’s disintegration. Six of them—Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—are in Europe, and all of them have a complicated relationship with modern Russia. Seven other countries once belonged to the Warsaw Pact, the Soviet Union’s military alliance in Eastern Europe. With the Cold War’s end, none of them had faced the threat of military intervention by the communist superpower’s successor state—until now. (In discussing Europe here, I’m not including Eurasian countries like Georgia, which fought a war with Russia in 2008, or the military support Russia offered Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region in the early 1990s.)

 

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Ukraine: what will happen now?

Events in Crimea have the potential to turn Ukraine into Europe’s worst security nightmare since the revolutions of 1989
Pro-Russian activists wave a Russian flag at a rally in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine.

Pro-Russian activists at a rally in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Photograph: Alexander Khudoteply/AFP/Getty Images

In his 14 years in power grieving the loss of the Soviet empire, Vladimir Putin has launched three wars against Russia‘s neighbours and territories formerly under the Kremlin’s domination. As a newly appointed prime minister in 1999, before becoming president on New Year’s Day 2000, he began with a war in Chechnya, brutally suppressing an armed insurrection against Moscow’s rule in the north Caucasus and razing the provincial capital, Grozny.

In 2008, the former KGB officer ordered a blitzkrieg against Georgia, partitioning the country in five days. He remains in control of 20% of Russia’s Black Sea neighbour: the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Russian military also controls a slice of Moldova known as Transnistria in a frozen conflict dating from the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the Crimea and Ukraine, however, in the event of full-scale war, Putin has opted for a game-changer with the potential to be Europe‘s worst security nightmare since the revolutions of 1989 and the bloodiest since Slobodan Milosevic’s attempts to wrest control of former Yugoslavia resulted in four lost wars, more than 100,000 dead, and spawned seven new countries in the Balkans. Ukraine is a pivotal country on the EU’s eastern and Russia’s south-western borders. Territorially it is bigger than France. Its population is greater than those of Poland or Spain at 46 million. It has a proper military and is well armed. Ukraine was the Soviet Union’s arms manufacturing base; it remains in the top league of global arms exporters.

Ukraine’s military machine is no match for Russia’s. It has around 130,000 troops compared to around 850,000 in Russia. Its forces in Crimea are no match for the 15,000-plus men serving with the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol. Russia has more men in its western military division than there are in the entire Ukrainian armed forces. Ratios of fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, special forces units and Black Sea warships are similarly one-sided.

But Ukraine’s forces could inflict a lot of damage if forced to defend their country. With this in mind, three broad scenarios suggest themselves:

The most benign outcome is that Putin envisages a Georgia-style incursion, a brief week of creating new facts on the ground, limiting the campaign to taking control of the Crimean peninsula with its majority ethnic Russian population, and then negotiating and dictating terms from a position of strength to the weak and inexperienced new leadership in Kiev.

 

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US concedes Russia has control of Crimea and seeks to contain Putin

• Senior officials say goal is to avoid further Ukraine incursion
• Administration to apply economic and political pressure
Kerry to fly to Kiev after saying Russia G8 status at risk
Obama’s 90-minute Putin call: no meeting of minds

Ukraine protesters in Washington
Protesters rally in front of the Russian embassy in Washington. Secretary of state John Kerry will fly to Kiev on Tuesday. Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

The US conceded on Sunday that Moscow had “complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula” and announced that the secretary of state, John Kerry, will fly to Kiev in an attempt to halt a further Russian advance into Ukraine.

Senior US officials dismissed claims that Washington is incapable of exerting influence on the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, but were forced to admit that Crimea had been successfully invaded by 6,000 airborne and ground troops in what could be the start of a wider invasion.

“They are flying in reinforcements and they are settling in,” one senior official said. Another senior official said: “Russian forces now have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula.”

Although President Barack Obama’s administration called for Putin to withdraw troops to Russian military bases on the peninsula, its objective appeared to have shifted to using political and economic threats to prevent any further military incursion.

One senior official said the major decision facing Putin was whether to “continue to escalate troop movements into other parts of Ukraine”.

“We’ve already seen the intervention in Crimea,” the official said. “It would be even further destabilising to expand that intervention into eastern Ukraine.”

The official added: “Our bottom line is they had to pull back from what they’ve already done, go back into their bases in Crimea. We’ll be watching very, very carefully of course and will be very, very concerned if we saw further escalation into eastern Ukraine.”

 

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