Sunday, August 31, 2014

An Amazing Video Featuring Some Really Cool Planes And Flying Scenes

WNU Editor: Director Eric Magnan from Airborne Films shares his showreel featuring some really cool planes and flying scenes.

Hat Tip: Theo Spark

A Look At The Legacy Of Adm. William McRaven, The Man Who Hunted Bin Laden, Saddam And Pirates

The Man Who Hunted bin Laden, Saddam And The Pirates -- Peter Bergen, CNN

(CNN) -- On Thursday in Tampa, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel presided over a change of command ceremony during which Adm. William "Bill" McRaven handed over the reins of Special Operations Command to his successor, Gen. Joseph Votel.

As McRaven stepped down he observed, "We are in perilous times." He pointed out that U.S. Special Operations Forces are helping to fight the fast-growing Islamic State in Iraq; the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines; the militant group Boko Haram in Nigeria, and al Qaeda and the Taliban in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

McRaven also said, "We are in the golden age of Special Operations" in which elements of the 67,000 men and women under his command have deployed to 92 countries.

Read more ....

My Comment: A truly long and distinguished career.

A Small But Significant Military Defeat For The Islamic State In Iraq


Iraqi Forces Said To Break Islamic State’s Siege -- Washington Post

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military carried out airstrikes on Islamic State militants near the besieged Iraqi town of Amerli on Saturday night, boosting morale for thousands of residents who have been trapped inside for two months, Iraqi officials and the Pentagon said.

The assault, which came alongside a coordinated humanitarian aid drop, marks the second time this month that the United States has intervened militarily in Iraq to prevent an Islamic State attack on thousands of trapped civilians.

Iraqi state media said Sunday afternoon that government forces had broken the siege. Kurdish pesh merga fighters also battling the militants near Amerli and reached by telephone confirmed that Iraqi army forces aided by Shiite militias had entered the town. But Kurdish forces continued to fight the jihadists in surrounding villages, they said.

Read more ....

Iraqi And Kurdish Forces With Assistance From U.S. Air Strikes Break The ISIS Siege Of Amerli

Iraqi forces break two-month siege of Amerli: officials -- Reuters
Iraqi Forces Enter Besieged Northern Iraqi Town -- VOA
Iraqi forces break jihadist siege of Amerli -- AFP
US planes drop aid and strike IS positions near Iraq's Amerli -- BBC
Islamic State siege of Amerli broken by Iraqi forces -- Channel 4 News
ISIS siege of Iraqi town over after U.S. airstrikes, aid drops -- BBC
IS in Retreat as Kurdish, Iraqi Forces Advance to Amerli with US Air Support -- Rudaw
Iraqi forces ‘break’ Islamic State’s two-month Amerli siege -- Irish Times

No Democracy For Hong Kong

China Denies Open Elections For Hong Kong -- Globe and Mail

A billionaire media baron pledged to join pro-democracy protests after Beijing offered Hong Kong a form of election that requires patriotic candidates and gives China significant influence in who leads the financial centre.

For months, protesters have threatened to shut down Hong Kong if Beijing did not provide the right to openly nominate and vote for the territory’s powerful chief executive position.

On Sunday, Chinese authorities offered a broad rejection of those pleas, allowing only a form of partially open election — derided by critics as a “bird-cage democracy” — that maintains a secretive system where candidates are nominated by a 1,200-person committee. Those candidates must, the National People’s Congress said Sunday, bear allegiance to China.

“The chief executive shall be a person who loves the country and loves Hong Kong,” the decision text says.

Read more ....

Update #1: China: No open nominations for Hong Kong leader -- AP
Update #2: Fully democratic Hong Kong vote ruled out by China -- Irish Times

My Comment: Here comes the protests.

Iran Lashes At The U.S. Over New Sanctions

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrives at the airport in Baghdad August 24, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Hadi Mizban/Pool

Iran Says Possible Response To New U.S. Sanctions Could Not Be 'Pleasant' -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Iran's possible response to new U.S. sanctions could "not be pleasant", its foreign minister said on Sunday, raising the prospect of tit-for-tat retribution against the Islamic Republic's old adversary weeks ahead of fresh nuclear talks.

Iranian leaders reacted with dismay to Friday's announcement that Washington was going to penalize a number of Iranian and other foreign companies, banks and airlines for violating sanctions against Tehran, most of which are tied to a decade-old dispute about its nuclear program.

Washington said the moves were a signal that there would be no let-up of sanctions while international talks were underway to ease the economic measures in exchange for Iran's agreement to curb its nuclear activities.

Read more ....

Update #1: Facing Hard-Liners and Sanctions, Iran's Leader Toughens Talk -- NYT
Update #2: Iran FM: Sanctions May Meet Iran's Retaliatory Move -- Fars News Agency

My Comment: Both sides are far apart on resolving the nuclear issue .... but some in the U.S. media still have hope .... Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama (VOA)

Ukrainian Volunteer Battalions Are Now Claiming That "Hundreds" Of Their Men Have Been Killed In The Past Few Days

Armed pro-Russian separatists escort a column of Ukrainian prisoners of war (L) as they walk across central Donetsk August 24. Maxim Shemetov / Reuters

Fears Of Massacre After Accusations Russians Reneged On Safe Passage For Ukrainian Forces -- The Telegraph

Ukrainian forces said pro-Putin forces went back on a promise to allow them to leave encircled town.

Ukrainian volunteer battalions claim "hundreds" of their men have been killed and dozens taken prisoner after pro-Russian forces reneged on an agreement to allow them to withdraw from a besieged town 20 miles east of Donetsk.

The losses came during attempts to withdraw from Ilovaisk, a town of southeast of Donetsk where a Ukrainian force had been surrounded for more than 10 days.

Following days of intense fighting and repeated failures to relieve the trapped troops, the Ukrainian government announced it would surrender the town on Saturday, under a deal that would allow them to withdraw through a so-called "green corridor."

Read more ....

My Comment: I cannot say that I am surprised by these reports .... these Ukrainian volunteer battalions are hated by separatists forces and are a high priority target. As to the fighting .... media reports are more focused on Western reaction to Russia's involvement in the Ukraine civil war ... but my sources .... in both Russia and Ukraine are telling me that many Ukrainian military units have been decimated in the past few days and that casualty rates are in the hundreds (if not more).

Russian President Putin Urges Ukraine To Start Peace Talks With Separatist Forces

Putin Calls For Talks On 'Statehood' For Eastern Ukraine -- Business Insider/AFP

Moscow (AFP) - President Vladimir Putin on Sunday dramatically raised the stakes in the Ukraine conflict by calling for the first time for statehood to be considered for the restive east of the former Soviet state.

"We need to immediately begin substantive talks ... on questions of the political organisation of society and statehood for southeastern Ukraine with the goal of protecting the lawful interests of the people who live there," Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on a TV show broadcast in the far east of the country.

Read more ....

More News On Putin Urging Ukraine To Accommodate Separatist Aspirations

Putin to Ukraine: Begin Immediate Talks on East -- AP
Putin: Russia can't stand aside if people being shot at in Ukraine - agencies -- Reuters
Events in Donetsk, Luhansk Result of Ukraine’s Political Situation – Putin -- RIA Novosti
Putin Urges Kiev Cease Hostilities, Start Restoring Infrastructure in East Ukraine -- RIA Novosti

My Comment: Everyone knows that Putin is pushing for statehood for the eastern Ukrainian provinces .... and everyone also knows that Kiev will decline such a proposition. But still .... Putin is offering an olive branch to Ukrainian Poroshenko for a possible face-saving way out of this mess. My advice to the Ukrainian President is that unless he wants to be fighting a war for the rest of his term in office .... he should take it.

Update: I guess Ukrainian President Poroshenko has declined Putin's advice .... Ukraine president warns Europe nearing 'point of no return' (The Guardian).

Russia And Ukraine Exchange Prisoners Of War

Moscow, Kiev Swap Troops As Ukraine Port Girds For Pro-Russian Assault -- Reuters

(Reuters) - Ukraine and Russia swapped soldiers who had entered each other's territory near the battlefield in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev says Moscow's forces have come to the aid of pro-Russian insurgents advancing for an assault on a major port.

Ukrainian troops and local residents were reinforcing the port of Mariupol on Sunday, the next big city in the path of pro-Russian fighters who pushed back government forces along the Azov Sea this past week in an offensive on a new front.

The new rebel advance has drawn increasing concern from Ukraine's Western allies, who say its success is a result of reinforcement by armoured columns of Russian troops.

Read more ....

Update #1: Militia Releases Over 220 Ukrainian Soldiers to Kiev -- RIA Novosti
Update #2: ‘Common sense prevailed’: Ukraine releases Russian paratroopers -- RT

My Comment: A rare gesture to ease tension .... which will last about 5 minutes.

Ukraine President Poroshenko Believes The War Will End In September. Russian President Putin Says No

Petro Poroshenko said he expects that his peace plan for the crisis in eastern Ukraine can stop the war in the region in early September. © RIA Novosti. Alexei Druzhinin

Poroshenko’s Statement That Ukraine Conflict Can End by September Far From Reality - DPR -- RIA Novosti

MOSCOW, August 31 (RIA Novosti) – The Kiev authorities’ statements that conflict in eastern Ukraine can be ended by September are idealistic and far from reality, Deputy Prime Minister of Donetsk People’s Republic Andrei Purgin said in an interview with RIA Novosti Saturday.

"Their statements are of Martian nature, these people are dwelling in an emerald garden on Mars and commenting on the situation, which has nothing to do with reality. In fact, all these comments are often made not for internal use but for external use, for Europe. Such claims hit the headlines, then the IMF allocates money, so their goal is to get money from the IMF," Purgin said.

Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he expects that implementation of his peace plan for the crisis in eastern Ukraine can stop the war in the region in early September.

Read more ....

Update: Putin: Impossible to say when political crisis in Ukraine will end -- RT

My Comment: If there was an eagerness on both sides for peace talks .... the civil war could end in weeks. But there is no sentiment for such talks .... especially now. Thousands have been killed (not the official tally of 2,600) .... thousands even more wounded. Infrastructure and property destroyed on a massive scale. One million refugees. Nope .... this war is not going to end in September .... in fact .... my biggest fear now is that this war is just starting.

Will Russia Be Able To Absorb Sanctions From The West

Russian President Vladimir Putin called on Kiev authorities to think about the approaching heating period. © RIA Novosti. Mikhail Klementiev

Vladimir Putin Has Absorbed The West's 'Consequences' And Stepped Up His Aggression -- Peter Foster, The Telegraph

American Way: Putin has shown that he is willing to take all the economic pain America and Europe are prepared to inflict. So what's to stop him from going even further?

When Barack Obama arrives in the Estonian capital of Tallinn early this week to meet the presidents of the three Baltic States, he will come bearing the gift of assurances.

Framed against a glorious medieval backdrop, Mr Obama will promise that while their nations may indeed be small, and newcomers to Nato, the United States and the major European military powers "mean what we say" when it comes to honouring Nato's mutual defence pact.

As any parent will tell you, when an authority figure warns that "I mean what I say" it's almost always a sign that the object of such threats - in this case Russian president Vladimir Putin - has good reason to doubt the truth of that statement, or at least to test whether or not it is true.

Read more ....

My Comment: The Russians are now "circling the wagons" .... and from Putin's perspective .... he is in the middle of this circle. While almost all Russians are against going to war against Ukraine .... if it comes to a war this anti-war sentiment will disappear in a minute. As to the impact of sanctions .... the culture and mindset is different in Russia. War means everyone must sacrifice .... this is accepted as a fact .... and as a result everyone will pitch in even if sanctions means tough times. Case in point .... I have relatives who live in the city of Kharkiv which is near the Russian border and the Dohensk and Luhansk regions where much of this fighting is occurring. Everyone in the family is making sure (in both Russia and Ukraine)  that they will be taken care of during the cold winter months .... in my case .... my contribution is money. It is not like the U.S., where I have discovered that war has become a burden to only those who serve and to their families who must always worry about their loved ones. For most Americans .... they may have strong opinions about the wars that America is involved in .... but on a personal level .... totally untouched with the exception of paying a bit more in taxes and having a greater national debt in the future. In Europe .... this mindset is even more so .... no one wants to suffer economically.

Ukrainian Volunteer Soldiers Fighting In The Country's Civil War 'Paint' A Dismal Picture Of The Conflict

A Pro-Russian separatist walks past a destroyed tank at Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of the city of Donetsk, August 28, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

28 Volunteer Soldiers Trapped In Ukrainian Town By Separatists Escape, Officials Say -- Washington Post

MARIUPOL, Ukraine — A group of Ukrainian volunteer soldiers managed to escape Saturday from Ilovaysk, a southeastern town that has been besieged by pro-Russian separatists for almost a week, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov, announced that 28 of the more than 200 fighters trapped in the town had escaped, but the military did not explain how that had been accomplished — or offer details about plans to evacuate the rest of the troops.

“There’s an operation to withdraw our military from there,” spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko said Saturday. “The major task now is to evacuate our military with the least losses.”

The soldiers have been cornered in the town since Monday, surrounded by separatists they say have been freshly supplied with troops and high-tech weapons from Russia. Food and ammunition have dwindled, and the death toll has been mounting.

The soldiers’ plight and their apparent dispatch into battle with little training and inadequate equipment has sparked scorn across Ukraine in recent days. Volunteer commanders venting on Facebook have denounced what they say is the government’s neglect, and protesters have gathered in the capital, Kiev, chanting “Weapons for patriots.”

Read more ....

My Comment: These kids are now realizing what war is all about .... more to the point .... they are now probably horrified to find themselves fighting a civil war where the local population hates you, the people you are fighting against are not only determined to kill you but are well equipped to do so, that you and your fellow Ukrainian soldiers are under-equipped and poorly trained, and .... throw in the Russian army .... you are now facing a professional army that has the capacity to completely destroy you if they want to. This is where terms like "canon-fodder" can be easily applied to this mes. As to the 28 volunteer soldiers who escaped .... they are very lucky. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Editor's Note

Taking some badly needed R&R today. Blogging will return later tonight.

Saudi Arabia's King Issues A Warning To The West; The Jihadists Are Going To Strike You Next

Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud speaks before a meeting with the US Secretary of State at his private residence on June 27, 2014 in the Red Sea city of Jeddah (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Saudi King Warns West Will Be Jihadists' Next Target -- AFP

Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) (AFP) - King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has warned that the West will be the next target of the jihadists sweeping through Syria and Iraq, unless there is "rapid" action.

"If we ignore them, I am sure they will reach Europe in a month and America in another month," he said in remarks quoted on Saturday by Asharq al-Awsat daily and Saudi-backed Al-Arabiya television station.

"Terrorism knows no border and its danger could affect several countries outside the Middle East," said the king who was speaking at a welcoming ceremony on Friday for new ambassadors, including a new envoy from Saudi ally the United States.

Read more ....

My Comment: In my opinion he is probably right .... but the President of The United States has a different point of view .... Seeking to Ease Worries, Obama Says the World Has Always Been 'Messy' -- New York Times

What A U.S. Military Intervention In Syria Really Means

Badra Mamet/Reuters

What Going To War In Syria Would Really Mean For The U.S. -- Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

A brutal dictator, a violent terrorist group, and the morally fraught tradeoff that interventionists face

Attacking Adolf Hitler's Germany benefited moral monster Joseph Stalin's Soviet Union. That inescapable fact of World War II doesn't mean it wasn't worth fighting Nazis. Under the circumstances, allying with Stalin to beat Hitler was the right call. But the consequences of that fraught alliance were themselves horrific. To ignore its downsides would be to misunderstand the real choices America faced.

Today in Syria, the United States faces another set of harrowing tradeoffs. Syria's leader, Bashar al-Assad, is a murderous dictator. The various rebel groups trying to wrest the country from his control include ISIS, a radical Sunni militia. To strike Assad, as Obama threatened to do last summer, would help ISIS. To strike ISIS, as the Obama administration is threatening to do right now, would help Assad. Those are the unsavory choices confronting all who favor intervention. And while the prospect of aiding and abetting Assad or ISIS doesn't decisively prove that intervention is unwise, it is at least a factor that Americans ought to confront with open eyes, rather than pretending the tradeoff away.

Read more ....

My Comment: There are now no good options when it comes to Syria. This is a conflict that must run it's course .... and it now looks like it is going to be a few years of warfare before there is even a prospect of an end to the conflict.

Update: Here is an interesting post on a Syrian rebels story of fighting a war that he has grown weary of .... A Weary Rebel Retreats to Fight Another Day (New York Times)

With Syrian Rebels Intensifying Their Attacks, UN Peacekeepers Flee Into Israel From Their Posts In The Golan Heights

Philippine Syria Troops 'Attacked' -- BBC

Philippine peacekeepers trapped by rebels in the Syrian Golan Heights are "under attack", Philippine Defence Minister Voltaire Gazmin says.

He said the assault had started early on Saturday, but gave no details on any casualties.

In recent days the Syrian rebels have taken 44 Fijian peacekeepers hostage in the area and surrounded 75 Filipinos manning two separate UN posts.

The rebels have also seized a crossing point into the Israeli-occupied Golan.

They are believed to include members of the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.

Read more ....

: Report: UN peacekeepers flee Syria, enter Israel -- AP

My Comment: This is a serious defeat for the Syrian military, and it also shows how unprepared the UN is when it must confront forces that are determined to kick them out.

Map On Wall In Office Of Governor Of Donetsk People's Republic Shows The Territory That They Want

My Comment: It is not going to happen .... but some are now proposing such a split to solve the crisis .... A Split Is Possible Way Out Of Ukraine Crisis -- Analysts ( Marcel Michelson, Forbes)

Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- August 30, 2014

Mariupol Digs Its Trenches And Awaits An Attack From The Troops Of 'New Russia' -- The Telegraph

Ukrainian forces in the port city of Mariupol believe Russian troops are poised to take their stronghold – but Moscow denies that its troops are serving across the border

"They're different to the fighters in Donetsk. We know what they're like, we've fought them before. These guys are different. Their kit, their uniforms, everything – they're Russian armed forces."

Standing among the sandbag redoubts dotting the grounds of the Azov battalion's headquarters in Mariupol, the city of 500,000 that has become the front line in the five-month old war in Ukraine, "Kirt" as the officer insisted on being called, seemed unperturbed by the presence of a well-equipped Russian army just 20 miles away.

"It's a psychological offensive," he said. "We're ready for anything, but I don't expect them to mount some massive attack."

Read more ....

Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- August 30, 2014

Russian-backed separatists aim to push west along Ukraine's coast -- CTV/AP
Pro-Ukraine fighters escape encirclement, others still trapped: Kiev, militia -- Reuters
Ukraine says fighter jet shot down by Russian missile -- FOX News/AP
Russian tanks flatten east Ukrainian town, Ukraine military says - Reuters
Rebels control key Ukraine town as EU ministers urge new Russia sanctions -- CBS/AP
NATO: Russia supplying Ukraine rebels tanks -- Al Jazeera
Ukraine Brings Back Conscription as Russia Appears to Launch All-Out Invasion -- Time
Russians start asking: are we at war? -- The Guardian
EU leaders mull new sanctions over Russia's Ukraine actions -- CNN
EU to prepare 'next level' of Russia sanctions: Germany's Gabriel -- Reuters
Ukraine's Poroshenko wants 'appropriate response' from EU over Russian forces -- Reuters
Analysis: Russian troops in Ukraine a 'game-changer' -- CTV News
Map: A divided Ukraine -- CNN
The invasion of Ukraine, in maps, satellite photos, and video -- Quartz

Coup Underway In African State Of Lesotho. Prime Minister Has Fled the Country

Military Coup Under Way In Lesotho -- Al Jazeera

Prime Minister, who has fled to South Africa, confirms with Al Jazeera that army has taken over government buildings.

Military units in Lesotho have surrounded government and police buildings and gunfire has been heard in the small mountainous southern African kingdom, in what diplomats said appeared to be an attempted coup.

The military seized control of the tiny police headquarters and jammed radio stations and phones in the early hours on Saturday, a government minister and member of the ruling coalition told the AFP news agency.

Prime Minister Tom Thabane confirmed with Al Jazeera that coup was indeed under way in his coutry and that he has now moved to South Africa.

Read more ....

More News On Reports That A Coup Is Underway In The African State Of Lesotho

Gunfire heard in Lesotho as army moves on police in apparent coup -- Reuters
Lesotho army 'seizes key buildings' -- BBC
Lesotho military says it has disarmed police -- AP
Lesotho military seize control of police HQ and jam radio stations, minister says -- The Telegraph
Reported Coup Attempt in Lesotho -- VOA
Lesotho Army Occupy Police Posts as Government Says No Coup -- Bloomberg

NATO Plans To Establish A 'Rapid-Deployment Force' Of 10,000 Troops

German troops who are part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) (Reuters / Omar Sobhani)

NATO Planning 'Rapid-Deployment Force' Of 10,000 Troops To Counter Russia -- RT

NATO is reportedly working towards the creation of an expeditionary force composed of 10,000 troops from seven different member states as a result of escalating tensions with Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

According to the Financial Times, the force’s creation will be spearheaded by Britain and involve contributions from Denmark, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, and the Netherlands. Canada is also interested in joining the group, but it’s not known what its final decision will be.

Read more ....

More News On NATO'S Plan To Establish A 'Rapid-Deployment Force' Of 10,000 Troops

Nato states create new force to counter Moscow -- CNBC/Financial Times
Seven NATO Countries to Create New Response Force over Ukrainian Crisis - Reports -- RIA Novosti
Seven NATO allies to create new rapid reaction force-report -- Reuters
Nato Building 10,000-Strong Force to Counter Russia over Ukraine -- IBTimes
Report: NATO states to form U.K.-led force in response to Russia-Ukraine crisis - Haaretz/Reuters

Ukraine Wants To Join NATO

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko (L) greets NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen during their meeting in Kiev, August 7, 2014. Rasmussen on Thursday called on Russia to pull its troops back from the border with Ukraine and "step back from the brink". REUTERS/Mykola Lazarenko /Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via Reuters

Ukraine To Seek Nato Membership, Says PM Yatsenyuk -- BBC

Ukraine's prime minister has said he will ask parliament to put the country on a path towards Nato membership.

Arseny Yatsenyuk said the government was sending a bill to MPs urging that Ukraine's non-bloc status be cancelled.

The remarks come as Nato holds an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

The West has stepped up its accusations of direct Russian involvement in the conflict, following advances by pro-Russian rebels.

On Thursday Nato released satellite images it said showed Russian forces inside Ukraine. and said more than 1,000 troops were operating there.

Russia denies sending troops.

Read more ....

More News On Ukraine Wanting To Join NATO

Ukraine seeks to join NATO; defiant Putin compares Kiev to Nazis -- Reuters
Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid -- France 24
Ukrainian Prime Minister Says Government Will Seek NATO Membership -- NPR
Ukraine moves to drop non-aligned status, apply for NATO membership -- RT
Will Ukraine Join NATO? What Needs To Happen For Ukraine To Join Military Alliance -- Dennis Lynch, IBTimes
Ukraine’s bid to join Nato may trigger new Cold War -- Express

Poland Closes It's Airspace To The Russian Defense Minister's Plane From Flying Over

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu (RIA Novosti / Igor Russak)

Poland Closes Airspace To Russian Defense Minister's Plane, Demands 'Non-Military' Flight Status -- RT

Poland has allowed the plane of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu to fly over its territory, after the plane changed its status from military to civilian. Earlier the country barred its airspace to the plane.

The Russian defense minister’s plane has left Bratislava’s airport, according to the Slovak Interior Ministry, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The plane has received permission to fly over Poland after “the pilot has already provided the plan of the civilian flight,” the press secretary of the Armed Forces Operational Command (DORSZ) told the Itar-Tass news agency.

Poland stated that the flyover was refused due to the plane’s changed status: it was changed from civil to military for unknown reasons, according to the spokesman for Poland's state air navigation services agency, PAZP, as cited by Reuters.

Read more ....

My Comment: Poland is claiming that "politics" was not involved in making the decision to ban the Russian Defense Minister's plane from flying over Poland .... Poland claims no political underpinning in incident with Russian minister’s jet (ITAR-TASS). Moscow is not convinced, promising to retaliate .... Moscow warns of reprisal over Poland’s ‘outrageous’ airspace closure for Russian Defense Minister’s jet (RT). What's my take .... this is all politics, and there are going to be consequences for these actions.

Update #1: Russian defence minister’s plane back to Moscow after Poland opens air space -- ITAR-TASS
Update #2: Russian Defense Minister's Plane Lands in Moscow -- RT

The U.S. Navy Wants It's Future Fighter Jets To Have An Artificial Intelligence Platform

Boeing concept for F/A-XX. Boeing Image

Navy’s Next Fighter Likely to Feature Artificial Intelligence -- Dave Majumdar, USNI News

Artificial intelligence will likely feature prominently onboard the Pentagon’s next-generation successors to the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor.

“AI is going to be huge,” said one U.S. Navy official familiar with the service’s F/A-XX effort to replace the Super Hornet starting around 2030.

Further, while there are significant differences between the U.S. Air Force’s vision for its F-X air superiority fighter and the Navy’s F/A-XX, the two services agree on some fundamental aspects about what characteristics the jet will need to share.

“I think we all agree that we have to work on PNT [Positioning, Navigation and Timing], comms, big data movement between both services,” the official said.

Read more ....

My Comment: Weapon systems running on AI platforms .... someone has been watching too many Terminator movies.

Here's Where We Think The World's Nukes Are Stored

An image from the U.S.'s May, 1953 "Grable" test of a 280-mm nuclear cannon. U.S. Department of Energy

Here's Where We Think The World's Nukes Are Stored — And What It Says About Global Security -- Armin Rosen, Business Insider

Nuclear security scholars Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris published a study of the worldwide deployment of nuclear weapons on August 27th in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, their first such survey since 2009.

As they stress throughout their paper, tracking the number and location of the world's nuclear warheads is an inherently uncertain endeavor. Nuclear-armed powers don't tend to reveal information about other countries' programs, and some governments, like Israel, maintain a strictly-enforced code of opacity regarding anything nuke-related. Little is really known about North Korea's program, and command and control over the nuclear stock in Pakistan is still a matter of anxious speculation.

Read more ....

My Comment: All that I cans say is that it is amazing that we have not blown ourselves up since the dawn of the atomic age. The entire report on the worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons for 2014 is here.

Update: This is interesting .... MAP: All 17,000 Of The World's Nukes (Business Insider)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Rumors Are Spreading That Now Retired Special Operations Admiral Bill McRaven May Be Hillary Clinton's Running Mate in 2016

Photo: Ret. Adm. William Harry McRaven. Wikipedia

Special Ops Commander Swears: I Won't Be Hillary's VP -- Kimberly Dozier, Daily Beast

He commanded the bin Laden raid—and expanded U.S. commandos’ global footprint. Now Adm. Bill McRaven is leaving the military. He promises—promises—that politics won’t be next.

Admiral Bill McRaven left command of U.S. special operations this week as a somewhat bewildered man – surprised, stymied, and in some cases burned by the fame and notoriety that launched his three years there, as the military commander of the 2011 raid that killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

His fame and the public respect for his role was such that multiple special operations officials say he was even approached as a possible vice presidential candidate for the as-yet-undeclared Hillary Clinton presidential campaign – something he openly denies ever happened. But the rumors persist throughout special operations circles even as he accepted a top post with the University of Texas.

"I am not running with Hillary," he said forcefully when last asked this past spring – a statement reiterated by his spokesman this summer.

Read more ....

My Comment: I am confident that Hillary Clinton will be running in 2016 .... but Ret. Adm. William Harry McRaven as her running mate ?!?!?!?! I doubt it.

As for her Hillary Clinton's chances .... Pat Buchanan nails it .... Has Hillary Ever Been Right?

A Look At The U.S. Spy Planes That Will Be Used To Gather Intelligence On The Islamic State

The RQ-4A Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial reconnaissance system designed to provide military field commanders with high-resolution, near-real-time imagery of large geographic areas. (CREDIT : REUTERS/U.S. Air Force/Staff Sgt. Reynaldo Ramon)

The U-2 And Global Hawk, The US Spy Planes That Will Help Hunt ISIS in Syria -- International Business Times

The United States has begun surveillance flights over Syria in an attempt to spy on ISIS fighters. While the U.S. Department of Defense refused to comment on what type of aircraft will be used, one military aviation expert said they will likely be the venerable Lockheed Martin U-2 spy planes and Northrop Grumman-built Global Hawk drones.

“The two aircraft will complement each other and offer different ways to gather intelligence,” said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis at Teal group. "The Global Hawk drone can go for longer periods, but the manned U-2 is far more flexible as it has a human pilot physically in the aircraft."

The decision to spy on the Islamic militant group ISIS inside Syria comes after months of intense fighting between ISIS and Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq, which resulted in U.S. airstrikes on key positions there. U.S. officials admitted that they need more info on ISIS' operations in Syria.

Read more ....

My Comment: What strikes me about this report is that it is telling us that the U.S. is about to spy on Syria. This is a surprise .... I was always under the impression that U.S. intelligence was spying on Syria since the start of  the civil war over 3 years ago. I guess I over-estimated Langley's reach.

Tonight's Movie Is 'The Bunker'

Kissinger Defines His View Of What Is Necessary For A New World Order

The Assembly Of A New World Order -- Henry Kissinger, Wall Street Journal

The concept that has underpinned the modern geopolitical era is in crisis

Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan's young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis.

The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies. In the decades following World War II, the U.S.—strengthened in its economy and national confidence—began to take up the torch of international leadership and added a new dimension. A nation founded explicitly on an idea of free and representative governance, the U.S. identified its own rise with the spread of liberty and democracy and credited these forces with an ability to achieve just and lasting peace. The traditional European approach to order had viewed peoples and states as inherently competitive; to constrain the effects of their clashing ambitions, it relied on a balance of power and a concert of enlightened statesmen.

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My Comment: I always shudder when he makes a public statement .... but people in power are always listening to him.

Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- August 29, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the all-Russian youth forum Seliger, held in Tver region August 29, 2014. (Reuters / RIA Novosti / Mikhail Klimentyev)

Putin Mocks The West, Puts His Own Prestige On The Line -- Anna Nemtsova, Daily Beast

By proclaiming his support for Novorossiya, the old imperial name for eastern and southern Ukraine, Putin signals he won’t back away from the fight.

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin ratcheted up his rhetorical-historical claims on eastern Ukraine Friday, even as pro-Russian rebels and their allies among the separatist rebels pushed forward there with a new offensive.

The lead headline on the Kremlin’s own Web site declared that Putin had “addressed the Novorossiya militia,” a clear and unequivocal sign that Putin is putting his own prestige on the line to back the separatist movement. That fact will make it harder for him to back down (if he had any such inclination) and therefore much harder for an increasingly fretful Europe and the United States to come to terms with him.

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Commentaries, Opinions, And Editorials -- August 29, 2014

Russia's Slow-Motion Invasion of Ukraine -- Uri Friedman, The Atlantic

Mr. Putin Tests the West in Ukraine -- NYT editorial

The West must make Mr. Putin pay for his aggression -- Washington Post editorial

Media mull Western response to Ukraine crisis -- BBC

The World Will Watch This NATO Summit -- Jan Techau, RCW

A second Sunni Awakening? -- Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post

Crossing paths with James Foley in Syria’s desperate war -- James Palmer, Reuters

Analysts: France, Germany at Forefront of EU Foreign Diplomacy -- Lisa Bryant, VOA

Islamic State's Popular Appeal Presents Challenge for Jordan -- Reuters

Should President Obama Have Said There's No Strategy Yet Against ISIS? -- Erik Ortiz, NBC

Can Saudi Arabia help combat the Islamic State? -- David Ignatius, Washington Post

Why Militant Groups Succeed -- Akhilesh Pillalamarri, The Diplomat

Battle of Ideas Moves Online -- New York Times

The Global Terrorist Arms Race -- Pete Hoekstra, NRO

Why the US swaps prisoners but doesn't pay ransom -- Brian Michael Jenkins, The Hill

U.S. Influence Drip-Dripping Away -- Adam Garfinkle, American Interest

World News Briefs -- August 29, 2014 (Evening Edition)

NATO To Russia: Stop 'Illegal' Military Operations in Ukraine -- Voice of America

NATO has called on Russia to cease its "illegal military operations" in eastern Ukraine, which it says are aimed at destabilizing the country.

The comments by NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Friday followed an emergency meeting in Brussels to discuss the worsening crisis.

Rasmussen, referencing satellite images released by his organization Thursday, said it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern Ukraine. He said this is not an isolated incident, but part of a pattern over many months to destabilize Ukraine as a sovereign nation.

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Syria conflict: UN says more than 3m have fled war. Three million people have now fled war-torn Syria, say UN, who declare it the 'biggest humanitarian crisis of our era'.

Syrian rebels surround Filipino UN peacekeepers in Golan Heights.

Islamic State: Arab leaders reluctant to heed US call for 'allies against Isis'.

Iraqi Kurds say their fight is against more than just the Islamic State.

Defiant Gaza militants vow to rearm amid shaky truce.

Iran's foreign minister hopes for nuclear accord 'in short time left' till deadline.

U.S. slaps more sanctions on Iranian banks, firms.

U.S. sends arms to bolster Lebanon army after Islamist incursion.


Anti-terror drills highlight China’s push into Central Asia.

India's Modi to visit Japan to cement defense, economic ties.

Afghan election audit will take two more weeks, U.N. says.

With an eye on China, the U.S. and Japan grow closer.

Pakistan 'soft coup' fears as army chief holds talks with protest leaders.

Gunmen target minority sect in Pakistan.

North Korean money manager for Kim Jong-un defects in Russia. Kim Jong-un's banker defects in Russia, say reports.

China investigates senior legislator amid corruption crackdown.

Jack Ma emerges as China’s richest man before Alibaba IPO.


Rwandan army officers charged with inciting rebellion.

Cameroon military takes back land seized by Boko Haram.

Libya Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni resigns.

Ebola outbreak reaches Senegal, riots break out in Guinea.

Ebola: Guineans riot in Nzerekore over disinfectant. Guinean security forces break up riot in Ebola-racked south.

No respite for South Sudan: cholera down but malaria, parasitic disease up: MSF.

Four found guilty of shooting Rwandan general

Kenya passes law to step up fight against human trafficking.

Angola to 'forgive' half of Mozambique's debt.


Poland, Ukraine bar overflight by Russian defense minister's plane.

Families of Russian troops in Ukraine want answers.

Death toll in Ukraine fighting hits 2,593: U.N. human rights official. UN report claims nearly 2,220 dead, 6,000 injured in Ukraine crisis since mid-April. UN: Ukraine conflict death toll hits 2,600, civilians ‘trapped inside conflict zones’.

Separatists say will allow 'trapped' Ukrainian forces to withdraw. Putin calls on pro-Russian separatists to release trapped Ukrainian soldiers.

Nato accuses Russia of violating Ukraine sovereignty.

Ukraine to seek Nato membership, says PM Yatsenyuk.

Ukraine seeks to join NATO; defiant Putin compares Kiev to Nazis.

Russia warns EU of Ukraine gas shortage. Russia ready for gas talks with Ukraine, warns of disruptions.

Putin likens Ukraine's forces to Nazis and threatens standoff in the Arctic.

Ruble sinks to record on Ukraine fighting: Russia reality check.

UK terror threat level raised: Jihadist attack now 'highly likely'.

Finland suspects Russian airspace violation.

Iceland volcano alert at red after small eruption, no ash detected.


Obama delays self-imposed immigration deadline.

Judicial Watch: Feds’ bulletin describes threat of imminent terrorist attack on southern border.

Suriname leader's son pleads guilty to trying to help Hezbollah.

Silence surrounds Colombia's 92,000 disappeared: ICRC.

FARC negotiator says disarming will be 'long process'.

Brazil's economy falls into recession, latest figures show.

Argentina workers claim general strike 'successful'.

US economic growth revised upwards.

Obama's "strong disapproval" double his "strong approval".


Recipe for hate: Al-Qaeda publish car bomb ‘shopping list’ and suggest UK targets.

Obama on ISIS in Syria: 'We don't have a strategy yet'.

Jihadist recruitment tools raise US concerns.

War by social media: Islamic State’s propaganda is growing online.

ISIS vs. Al Qaeda: How they're different (Video).

Syrian extradited to US on terrorism charges.


Oil tanker carrying $100million cargo mysteriously disappears off the coast of Texas in dispute over Kurdish oil.

Google reveals secret drone delivery tests.

McDonald's says 12 Russian branches temporarily closed.

It's official! Apple sets event for Sept. 9.

Fort Hood Shooter Nidal Hasan Wants To Be A Citizen Of The Islamic State

'It Would Be An Honor To Join ISIS And Become A Citizen Of The Caliphate,' Says Former US Army Psychiatrist Who Killed 13 In Shooting Spree At Fort Hood -- Daily Mail

* Nidal Hasan claimed it would be 'an honor' to join ISIS caliphate in letter
* Hasan killed 13 and injured 30 in 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas
* Earlier this year FBI chief testified that he believed the shooting carried out by Hasan at Fort Hood in Texas was inspired by al-Qaeda

The former Army psychiatrist who killed 13 people in the 2009 shooting spree at Fort Hood has said it would be 'an honor' to join the caliphate in a letter to ISIS, it has been reported.

Nidal Hasan has apparently requested to be made a 'citizen soldier' of the caliphate in the letter to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Hasan opened fire on his fellow servicemen and women on November 5, killing 13 and injuring 30 others.

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More News On Reports That Fort Hood Shooter Nidal Hasan Wants To Be A Citizen Of The Islamic State

Fort Hood shooter says he wants to become 'citizen' of Islamic State caliphate -- FOX News
Fort Hood Gunman Wants to Join ISIS -- ABC News
Ft. Hood shooter asks to be ‘citizen’ of Islamic State -- Washington Post
Fort Hood killer requests citizenship in Islamic State -- UPI
Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan writes letter to ISIS asking to join their terror group -- National Post
Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan petitions to be ‘citizen’ of Islamic State -- Washington Times

U.S. - Iraq Military Operations Are Cost $7.5 Million Per Day

A still image captured from U.S. Navy cockpit video shows an F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Fighting Black Lions of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 213 after launching from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush in the Arabian Gulf on Aug. 10, 2014 in this video released on Aug. 11, 2014. A series of U.S. airstrikes since last week has slowed the operational tempo of the Islamic State, the militant group that has seized large parts of northern Iraq, but is unlikely to substantially weaken the group, the Pentagon said on Monday. Reuters/U.S. Navy/Handout via Reuters

Pentagon: Iraq Operations Cost $7.5 Million Daily -- Voice of America

The Pentagon says U.S. military operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq are costing, on average, $7.5 million per day.

Rear Admiral John Kirby said Friday the cost in Iraq has increased as activities have intensified since they started in mid-June.

The news comes a day after President Barack Obama downplayed the possibility of adding U.S. airstrikes against Islamic extremists in Syria, but added the administration is still working on a comprehensive plan to deal with the terrorist group.

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More News On U.S. - Iraq Military Operations Costing $7.5 Million Per Day

Pentagon: Iraq Operations Cost $560 Million So Far -- AP
Pentagon: Fighting ISIS in Iraq Costs $7.5 Million a Day -- NBC
DOD: Iraq operations costing $7.5M per day -- The Hill
US operations in Iraq costing $7.5m a day as Obama deliberates strategy -- The Guardian
US Spends $7.5M Per Day On Military Operations Against Islamic State In Iraq, Pentagon Says -- IBTimes
Pentagon's relatively small Iraq costs may jump with escalation: analysts -- Reuters

My Comment: We all know that these costs could sky-rocket on a drop of a hat.

Is The Islamic State Plotting To Kill Pope Francis?

Italy Steps Up Security Over Alleged ISIS Plot to Kill The Pope -- Barbie Latza Nadeau, Daily Beast

Vatican scoffs at threats that Pope Francis is “in the crosshairs” of ISIS as Italy issues a terrorist threat and tightens security.

VATICAN CITY — As Pope Francis continues to straddle the fine line between calling for the end of persecution of Christians in Iraq and blessing American airstrikes against the Islamic State (also known as the “Caliphate,” ISIS, or ISIL), there is increasing concern for the pontiff’s—and the public’s—safety.

Earlier this week, the Roman newspaper Il Tempo published a disturbing report that Francis is “in the crosshairs” of ISIS for “bearing false witness” against Islam. Citing anonymous sources within Italy’s intelligence community and pointing to notable heightened security in Rome, the paper went on to say that ISIS plans to heat things up by “raising the level of confrontation” with Europe, Italy and very specifically Pope Francis, the “greatest exponent of the Christian religions.” The Vatican downplayed the concerns, calling them unfounded despite growing concern in Italy that it is not just the Pope who is under threat. “There is nothing serious to this,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told Catholic News Agency. “There is no particular concern in the Vatican.”

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More News On Reports That The Islamic State Is Plotting To Kill Pope Francis

Report: Pope Francis Is ‘In The Crosshairs Of ISIS’ -- CBS/AP
Italy ramps up security over Islamic State’s threat to Pope Francis -- Washington Times
Is Pope Francis The Next ISIS Target? -- Inquisitr
Pope Francis ISIS Threat Denied by Vatican, But Security Tightens -- Newsmax
ISIS Threat Against Pope ‘Nothing Serious’, Says Vatican -- Newsweek

My Comment: When Pope Francis condemned The Islamic State's brutal treatment of minorities .... he became a target in their eyes. I would take these threats very seriously.

What Can The West Do To Prevent A Ukraine Defeat?

What Can The US And NATO Do To Prevent Putin From Defeating Ukraine? -- Quartz

The new incursion into Ukrainian territory by Russian forces has led some veteran US foreign policy hands to call for a quick and highly visible Western airlift of military equipment to Kyiv. The aim: to prevent a Russian rout of Ukraine.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, former US secretary of state George Shultz and ex-defense secretary William Perry urged the US and NATO to deploy forces in the Baltics, and equipment in Ukraine.

The prospects a swift victory for Russian president Vladimir Putin’s forces grew dramatically on Aug. 26, when a column of Russian armor appeared over the border at Novoazovsk, sending the Ukrainian troops into a full, panicked retreat. Russian forces today occupied the town, and are reportedly advancing to the strategic port of Mariupol.

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My Comment: This discussion is now moot .... President Obama made it very clearly yesterday that there will be no U.S. military support of Ukraine during this crisis.

Truth Is Always A Casualty Of War

Pro-Russian separatists walk at a destroyed war memorial on Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of the city of Donetsk, August 28, 2014. Credit: REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

On Russian Troops In Ukraine, Honesty Is Not Everyone's Best Policy -- Christian Lowe, Reuters

(Reuters) - The Ukraine conflict has evoked many memories of the Cold War, including a footloose attitude to the truth. But even as Russia’s denials of involvement stretch credibility to breaking point, for some they remain a convenient fiction.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is chief among them; denying a Russian role will keep his domestic audience in ignorance of a war they don't want - especially useful if the battle goes badly.

But there are also some European powers, including Germany and France, who despite being on the opposite side of the crisis share Putin's desire not to paint it as an out-and-out war between Russia and Ukraine.

For them, stating unequivocally that Russia has attacked Ukraine would force them to impose more costly sanctions, and could block the path to a truce with Russia they hope will resolve the crisis.

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My Comment: I always take solace with the knowledge that in the end .... the truth will come out ..... and for those who care .... they will know. 

Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- August 29, 2014


Death Toll In Ukraine Fighting Hits 2,593: U.N. Human Rights Official -- Reuters

(Reuters) - A total of 2,593 people, including civilians as well as Ukrainian and separatist combatants, have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine since it erupted in mid-April, a senior U.N. human rights official said on Friday.

"The trend is clear and alarming. There is a significant increase in the death toll in the east," Ivan Simonovic, U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, told journalists.

"The current number of killed is 2,593 - close to 3,000 if we include the 298 victims of the MH17 (Malaysian airliner) plane crash," he said.

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Ukraine Civil War News Updates -- August 29, 2014

Death toll in east Ukraine conflict nears 2,600: UN -- AFP
UN: Ukraine conflict death toll hits 2,600, civilians ‘trapped inside conflict zones’ -- RT
Death Toll in Ukraine Conflict Exceeds 2,200, U.N. Says -- New York Times
Civilian Death Toll in Ukraine Rising, U.N. Report Says -- WSJ
Death toll in east Ukraine nearly 2600 -- SKY News
Ukraine Death Toll Jumps to 2,593: U.N. Rights Official -- NBC
UN Reports Both Rebels, Ukraine Forces Target Civilians -- Epoch Times/AP

Russian ‘invasion’ dramatically shifts momentum in Ukraine -- Al Jazeera
Kyiv: Russian Forces Tightening Grip on East -- VOA
Ukraine Regroups As Russia Attacks (Infographic) -- Kyiv Post
Ten Ukrainian soldiers killed in eastern conflict in past 24 hours -- Reuters
Donetsk Militia Claims Strongholds Taken in Southeastern Ukraine's Mariupol -- RIA Novosti
Ukraine Fighting: Putin, Donetsk Militia Agree To Opening 'Humanitarian Corridors' In Eastern Ukraine -- IBTimes
Ukraine rebels to open path for trapped army -- Al Jazeera
Putin Orders Rebels to Allow Surrounded Ukrainian Troops to Escape -- Newsweek
Ukraine Fighting Surges as Putin Hails Rebel Fightback -- Bloomberg

Russian Forces Fighting Alongside Separatists in Ukraine, NATO Says -- Time
NATO Satellites Show Russian Troops, Armored Vehicles Inside Ukraine -- Newsweek
Russia has up to 100 battle tanks fighting in Ukraine, UK believes -- The Guardian
NATO: Russia supplying Ukraine rebels tanks -- Al Jazeera

Ukraine wants weapons, does not expect NATO intervention: envoy -- Reuters
Ukrainian PM says government will work for membership of NATO -- Reuters
Ukraine seeks NATO membership in response to Russia joining war -- Reuters
Ukraine moves to drop non-aligned status, apply for NATO membership -- RT
Ukraine Will Seek NATO Membership, Says Prime Minister Yatsenyuk -- IBTimes
NATO Says It Would Respect Any Ukraine Decision to Try to Join Alliance -- WSJ

EU says Moscow must stop aiding separatists in Ukraine -- Reuters
Ukraine 'slipping out of control', Germany warns -- BBC
Photo Essay: What Remains of Donetsk -- Newsweek