Tag Archives: Putin

Intercepted Phone Calls Show Russia Directing Separatists to Seize MH17’s Black Boxes

The Ukrainian government has released recordings of alleged phone calls between pro-Russian separatists discussing the fate of Malaysian Flight MH17’s black boxes.

Ukrainian security officials released the tapes on Sunday, claiming that they proved Russia had directed the separatists to find and hide the black boxes.

The call is between Alexander Khodakovsky, leader of the Vostok (East) battalion of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and one of his men (“Oleksiy”) at the crash site. You can listen to the conversations below:

In the first of the recordings, Khodakovsky urges Oleksiy to find MH17’s black boxes, saying,

“Do it really quick, urgently. Moscow is asking where the boxes are… [they] must be under our control”.

In a second call less than an hour later, Khodakovsky talks to another man at the crash site (“Andriy”), telling him,

“I have a request for you. It is not my request. Our friends from high above are very much interested in the fate of the black boxes. I mean people from Moscow.”

He also tells Andriy to,

“Try to take everything that you find so that it doesn’t get into somebody else’s hands.”

Around the time that the recordings were released, Reuters released footage of what appears to be the black boxes being removed from the crash site by the separatists:

Earlier this morning, the news service Interfax reported that rebel Russian separatists in Ukraine had handed over the black boxes to Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee.

Andrei Purgin is the self-proclaimed deputy prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the separatist government in the rebel-held city of Donetsk. Purgin told Interfax:

“Of course, we most likely will give them [the black boxes] to the Interstate Aviation Committee, to Moscow. High-level experts, who will be able to determine exactly the reason of the catastrophe, work there.”

So it seems that the black boxes are on their way to Moscow, if they’re not there already. This will definitely raise a lot more suspicion about Russia’s involvement in the MH17 tragedy.

But, for the sake of objectivity, it is definitely worth noting that these tapes have not been independently verified yet, and are being released by the Ukrainian government, who has every reason in the world to want Russia to be responsible for the tragedy.

That doesn’t mean I believe the tapes are fabricated- it’s just a reminder to tread carefully when trying to make sense of such a complex issue.

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The Russian Government Just Edited the Wikipedia Page for the Plane Shot Down In Ukraine

On Thursday, Malaysian flight MH17,  headed to Amsterdam from Kuala Lampur, was shot down by a surface to air missile over Ukraine. All 298 of the passengers were killed.

As information started to come out, it became apparent that the missile that took the plane down came from an area controlled by pro-Russian separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine.

People walk through the debris of MH17 near the village of Grabovo (Photo: AP)

These pro-Russian groups refused to recognize the new government in Kiev after the Ukrainian revolution and have established strongholds in a number of cities on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.

Although the separatists have denied responsibility, much of the evidence points to them. Also, the fact that they are denying investigators access to the crash site while looters steal cash, credit cards and jewelry from the victims doesn’t seem to support their cries of innocence.

It is no secret that the separatist groups have the support of Russia, and many people think Russia holds some of the responsibility for the disaster. The main reason for this is that the missile used, an SA-11, requires a very complex weapons system operated by highly-trained personnel.

Some info about the missile system most likely responsible for taking down MH17. Click to enlarge

Yesterday, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby weighed in:

“It strains credulity to think that they could do this without some measure of Russian support and assistance. It is a sophisticated system.”

Then, yesterday evening, a Twitter bot added another piece to the story.

The bot, @RuGovEdits is basically a Russian version of @CongressEdits– it informs people any time a Wikipedia page has been edited by a Russian government IP address.

The Russian Twitter bot announced yesterday that the Wikipedia page for flight MH17 had been edited by the Russian government. What was changed?

Well, the original submission stated the plane was shot down by,

“…by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation.”

The new edited version says that,

“…the plane [flight MH17] was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers.

Russia has maintained that they were not involved in the tragedy and that the flight was brought down by Ukrainian forces, but this new revelation definitely raises questions about the truth of that statement.

(h/t Gizmodo)

Russia’s Attempt to Annex Crimea Gets Them Kicked Out of G8 (Video)

Today (March 24) President Obama along with other world leaders have aligned in suspending Russia’s membership in the G8.

According to The White House…

President Barack Obama and other world leaders have decided to end Russia’s role in the group of leading industrialized nations (G8) “

This move to suspend Russia as a member of the G8 is the latest direct response from major countries allied against Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The G8 is made up of  the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and Italy. Russia was added to their group in 1998 – transforming the group from the G7 to the G8.

According to Obama and other G8 members, Russia’s recent activities in Crimea are against international law and Europe and the U.S. stand against Russia on the issue.

According to CNN…

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said earlier in the day that being kicked out of G8 would be no big deal. G8 is an informal organization that does not give out any membership cards and, by its definition, cannot remove anyone. All the economic and financial questions are decided in G20, and G8 has the purpose of existence as the forum of dialogue between the leading Western countries and Russia.”

Western powers have imposed other sanctions and penalties to Russia and specifically to individuals close to President Vladimir Putin.

According to CNN…

Obama and other leaders agreed that further steps to punish Russian President Vladimir Putin could include sanctions on energy, banking and defense sectors — all areas where Europe is deeply engaged economically with Russia.”

The United States have publicly stated that we do not wish to get our military involved and that we are looking at the situation from a diplomatic and economical stand point. The U.S. does not wish to escalate the situation and for the time being is hoping Russia will change its course of action.

Below is a video of Secretary of State John Kerry speaking on the issue.

Check Out the full story from CNN here!

Saudis Offer Secret Oil Deal to Russia in Exchange for Dropping Syria

Recently, Russian president Vladimir Putin had a closed-door meeting with Prince Bandar, the head of Saudi intelligence. Leaked transcript’s reveal that Bandar offered Putin a Russia-OPEC alliance if Putin drops his backing of Syria.

OPEC (Organization of the Oil Exporting Countries) is an economic alliance between a number of the biggest oil producing countries in the Middle East, Africa and South America.

Saudi Arabia is by far the biggest player in OPEC, producing 8.8 million barrels per day, more than any other country in the world.

OPEC Members (from wikipedia). Click to enlarge.
OPEC Members (from wikipedia). Click to enlarge.

If the oil deal between Russia and OPEC were to succeed, the two entities would control 45% of global oil production. Prince Bandar also told Putin that Saudi Arabia would ensure the safety of Russia’s Syrian ports after the fall of Assad.

But maybe the most interesting part of this story is that Bandar claimed the Chechen terrorist groups responsible for two recent suicide attacks in Volgograd are under Saudi control:

I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”

Putin turned the offer down, however, saying,

Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,”

referring to a video showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a fallen Syrian soldier. In response, Prince Bandar warned Putin that there would be, “no escape from the military option” if the alliance was refused.

Read the full story here.