31 Dec: A Blessed Sabbath for all God’s faithful!
30 Dec: The FBI releases a report giving some details of Russian hacking methoids but provides no proof that Russia hacked the US elections.
29 Dec: The United States and Coalition forces pounded Mosul with heavy artillery and airstrikes today, as US special forces led Iraqi troops attacking at multiple points in East Mosul, beginning a new phase of the operation.
In an effort to destroy the potential success of the approaching Trump administration the United States today expelled 35 Russian diplomats and closed two Russian compounds – in New York and Maryland – and sanctioned 6 Russian individuals, including the head of Russia’s main intelligence directorate. The Russian diplomats were given 72 hours to leave the United States.
Arab States welcome Kerry peace talks points.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett stated today that with the inauguration of President-elect Trump next month, “Palestine will be taken off the agenda, Israeli law [Right now the settlements are under the military occupation authorities and would be transferred to the Israeli government civil authority, a move tantamount to annexation] will be imposed over Jewish areas [illegal settlements] in the West Bank and Israel will declare sovereignty over areas of East Jerusalem.” If such a course is taken it could result in a war with Gaza and the fall of the Israeli coalition. After a very costly bloody war a peace oriented government might finally be coming for Israel.
The White House is expected to announce a whole series of new anti-Russia measures as soon as Thursday, with Russia vowing to respond in kind.
Sixty militants were killed after a large-scale but failed attack in North Mosul. One soldier was killed and four security personnel were wounded.
Israel Attorney General to launch an official criminal corruption investigation into Netanyahu after sufficient evidence was found in preliminares.
28 Dec: John Kerry made a lucid, intelligent and passionate speech setting out the problems that illegal israeli settlement activity is causing and the main issues in respect to a Middle East peace deal. The speech demolished the Israeli Extremists controlling the present Israeli government and laid out the main issues for upcoming peace talks once the present Israeli government is changed. Full Text John Kerry Middle East Speech.
President Obama to attack Russia to “punish” them for what he and other officials say is an attempt to “hack” the US election. Officials say he’s going to do so “soon,” however, and could make announcements as soon as this week. The public announcements, officials say, are expected to include economic sanctions and diplomatic moves to “censure” the Russian Federation. The US is also expected to launch cyber-attacks against Russia, though how much of this is public remains to be seen, with Obama previously saying some would be public and some wouldn’t be.
US Secretary of State John Kerry will offer a “comprehensive vision” of how to revive the Israel-Palestinian peace process in a major speech today.
27 Dec: John Kerry to make major policy speech setting out the parameters for a Middle East peace deal, which will then be tabled at the Jan 9 Paris peace conference for approval by the Major Powers.
Netanyahu boycotting Paris Middle East peace conference set for January 9, 2017. Conference will lay out a big powers list of parameters for a Mideast peace deal, which will be rejected by the extremist settler movement controlled Israeli government.
This plan will be the basis of a Mideast peace deal once there is a new government in Israel.
Iraq has regrouped and reinforced its troops in Mosul. The Iraqi forces have now been joined by American advisors who will advise [lead] the next phase of the assault expected within the coming days. The Islamic State tried to launch a preemptive strike and 97 IS fighters were killed Sunday.
26 Dec: Israel to approve the illegal construction of 618 housing units, of which 140 are in Pisgat Zeev, 262 in Ramat Shlomo and 216 in Ramot. The Jerusalem District Zoning Committee is also scheduled to meet on Wednesday, during which it will deliberate the construction of 5,600 homes in East Jerusalem, including 2,600 housing units in Gilo, 2,600 in Givat Hamatos and 400 in Ramot, Israel Hayom reported.
Netanyahu’s attacks on the 15 UNSC member states called dangerous by Yesh Atid party, bring even more coalition crisis in Israel.
25 Dec: Massive fire breaks out at Haifa oil refinery. Israel has two oil refineries, one at Haifa and one at Ashdod, the largest being Haifa.
Israel Provoking War With Gaza
In moves seemingly designed to ignite a Middle East conflict Israel cuts all political contacts with the Palestinian Authority and reports are circulating that in reaction to the UNSC rebuke Netanyahu is about to approve massive construction in the West Bank and Jerusalem
Settler extremist and Jewish Home party leader vows to table a bill to annex large areas of West Bank in response to UNSC rebuke for illegal settlement activity. First on his list will be the East Jerusalem suburb of Ma’ale Adumim.
The Obama abstention and UNSC Resolution followed immediately by such an extreme reaction seems carefully choreographed by the establishment marionettes Obama and Trump to bring the long planned Mideast conflict.
If Israel does push the annexation bills tension will rise to fever pitch in the region and a reaction from Gaza would be no surprise.
A Russian Tupolev-154 with an army band aboard crashed into the Black Sea shortly after taking off from Sochi for Latakia Syria. 91 persons are feared lost.
24 Dec: A Sabbath Blessing for the faithful!
The extremist controlled Israeli government has responded angrily to the UN Security Council resolution on illegal Israeli settlement activity, stating that Israel will not recognize Resolution 2334 and will not be bound by it. Israel’s ambassadors were recalled from two of its sponsors, New Zealand and Senegal. Israel also announced the cancellation of the Senegalese foreign minister’s visit to Israel in three weeks’ time and the suspension of aid programs to that country.
23 Dec: Today the Security Council passed Resolution 2334 with 14 member states voting in favor, none voting against; and one abstention — the United States. UNSC Israeli Settlement Resolution 2334 23 Dec, 2016
After Israel learned that Obama would abstain from vetoing the UNSC Settlement Resolution, Netanyahu phoned Trump who called Sissi and asked the Egyptians to back down. Then New Zealand, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal gave Egypt until the end of Thursday and are to meet Friday morning to discuss advancing the Resolution themselves.
Berlin perpetrator killed in Milan gunfight: Fingerprint evidence confirms that the man shot dead in Milan in a gunfight early Friday was the wanted Berlin truck terrorist Anis Amri. His identification was delayed because there were no documents on him – only a train ticket from France.
Syria completes the liberation of Aleppo as last insurgents leave the ciity.
Five men were arrested in Australia for planning a mass attack on Melbourne with explosives, knives and guns. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Sydney that the group was “self-radicalized” and inspired by the Islamic State. Five men, ages 21 to 26, were to be formally charged later Friday, the authorities said. According to the police, the plotters had scouted Federation Square, a popular shopping and entertainment district, as well as the Flinders Street train station, Melbourne’s busiest, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, an Anglican church. All three locations are close to one another in the center of the city
22 Dec: Israel pressures Trump, who pressures Egypt, which withdraws UNSC Resolution at last minute. Other countries might still sponsor vote.
Israeli High Court grants final postponement of Amona evacuation to Feb 8.
Iraqi Mosul operation in pause mode waiting for Trump to remove all restraints in USA forces in Iraq. Official explanation: The operation is on hold while Iraqi troops focus on repairing vehicles damaged so far, resupplying ammunition, and preparing for “the next stage the offensive would resume “soon” but that Iraqi forces would decide on that timeline.
21 Dec: Turkish-backed Syrian rebel militias have taken full control of Syrian highways M4 and 212 connecting the cities of al-Bab and Aleppo.
After the Berlin terrorist attack now claimed by the Islamic State, Merkel faces growing tensions with her Bavarian conservative allies and an increasingly difficult battle for a fourth term.
20 Dec: German authorities announce that perpetrator of yesterday’s attack may be armed and at large. Aressted suspect may not have been involved.
1,000 German special police officers stormed Berlin’s Tempelhof refugee accommodation center this morning. The center is the place of residence of the arrested Pakistani driver of the truck that plowed into a Christmas market Monday night and killed 12 people.
Israel confiscates trailer used as clinic in West Bank may close two more.
Battle shaping up between Rouhani and Revolutionary Guards for May 19, 2017 Iranian presidential elections.
19 Dec: Mevlut Mert Altintas, a Turkish police officer shouting “Aleppo” and “revenge” shot and killed Russia’s ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov during the opening of an art exhibition in Ankara Monday.
German Police arrested the suspected driver after a truck was deliberately crashed into a Berlin Christmas market Monday night. At least 9 people were killed and up to 60 injured.
Few details yet available on reports of a shooting at the Islamic center in Zurich, Switzerland.
Now that the Al Qaeda terrorists have been defeated in Aleppo the foreign and defense ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey meet in Moscow Tuesday to discuss the Syrian liberation of Idlib Province and Turkish Kurdish matters along with the anti Islamic State fight in Raqqa Province. The Turks are also acting as emissaries for Donald Trump who is expected to remove all restraints on the US military in regards to the Islamic State and possibly surge a sizeable American force to the region after he takes office on Jan 20.
In a clear message that resistance to Israeli court orders pays; They got a great deal. Forty Amona outpost settler families will each get a million shekels (about $385,000) in order to leave the Palestinian-owned land they have been squatting on for years. Then the state will pay another 130 million shekels to cover the evacuation of illegal outpost and for building a new settlement near Shvut Rachel. But the new location on a nearby hilltop is also on land privately owned by Palestinians. The enormous cost of the Amona bribery and move, along with the decisions to postpone the opening of the new public broadcasting corporation and to give more money to ultra-Orthodox education, has forced the government to make an across the board budget cut of $310 million, 1.25% percent of each ministry’s budget. Opposition legislator MK Shelly Yacimovich said it “made a mockery of any socially minded achievements.”
A clash erupted today with gunfire into Israel and an IDF attack on a Hamas post in Gaza
Five Ukraine soldiers killed in clash with Russian speakers in the east.
18 Dec: In coordination with the attack on the southern Jordanian town of Karak where some attackers are still loose with hostages, gunfights have erupted in two more Jordanian towns, Irbid in the north, and Petra in the south. Islamic State seems to be responsible.
At least nine dead in Jordan attack, 29 hospitalized after Jordanian security storm Karak Castle freeing some hostages.
538 Electors meet Monday to officially pick the next American president.
Gunmen in Jordan shot dead four policemen and a Canadian woman and injured nine other people. Thee attackers also struck a local police station before entering the famous castle, trapping some 14 tourists inside as hostages. Karakh is about 79 miles south of the Jordanian capital, Amman.
Israel’s top security officials led by the Mossad Director Yossi Cohen and National Security Council adviser Yaakov Nagel and Israel’s ambassador Ron Dermer went to New York last week to brief US President-elect Donald Trump transition team on where the Israeli government stands on current Middle East affairs, including Iran, Syria, terror threats and the Palestinians.
Amona residents accept compromise agreement. A contested eviction has been averted as residents approve new deal, which would allow most of the town to be relocated to nearby plots on same hill. The government will now ask the High Court for an extension of the eviction deadline to prepare the land.
US demands China return underwater spy drone it captured on Wednesday. The drone was from the USS Bowditch a spy ship with the cover of an oceanographic vessel operating near the Chinese navy in a disputed area of the South China Sea.
Israel apparently murders Hamas drone scientist in Tunisia.
Settlers gather at Amona to resist eviction; pictures.
15 Dec: Islamic State captures large arms supplies after overrunning Palmyra air base.
After a brief outburst of fighting yesterday the 4,000 remaining Islamic Extremists have agreed to be evacuated from Aleppo to the Turkish border safe haven and will leave the city today. A column of wounded have already left the city.
Israel carried out raids in Silwan, A-Tor and Isawiya districts of East Jerusalem over night arresting 24 persons.
Wednesday evening Amona residents voted against a plan to resolve the situation 59-20 meaning that the illegal outpost must be evacuated by Dec 25. The situation is set for a resisted forced evacuation of Amona. Consider how seriously a peace deal would be resisted by the Settler Movement.
Islamists break Aleppo truce reject evacuation, small pockets of fighting resume.
New Thai king to begin reign with pardoning 150,000 persons in prison.
Aleppo liberated as fighting ends: Yasser al-Yusuf of the Nurdin Az-Zinki brigade told the AFP news agency that its fighters had agreed to evacuate east Aleppo and take light weapons with them, moving to the Turkish created safe haven inside Syria.
The FBI and the American Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) which oversees the 17 US intelligence agencies is rejecting the CIA accusations against Russia about alleged pro Trump election interference.
The Islamic State Amaq news site reported Tuesday that Israel has conducted a number of aerial sorties over its Sinai locations in the past three days, in response to which ISIS fired a missile into the Israeli Negev Sunday. The missile fell short inside Egyptian Sinai. According to Arab sources, the Israeli air strikes took place south of El Arish and Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai and killed Abed Al-Aila Kishta, a high-ranking Hamas officer who acted as liaison with ISIS.
Due to the weakness of the moderate forces in Syria, the Obama administration has been supporting the Al Qaeda linked terrorists fighting the Assad regime.
Now that the moderates have been trained up and supplied inside Jordan, Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan and elsewhere, the Islamists are no longer needed and a deal has been arranged between Trump and Putin to allow Russia / Syria to destroy the Islamists inside Syria in exchange for a free hand for the Coalition to destroy the Islamic State inside Syria at Raqqa.
To further this deal the Trump transition team has arranged for Obama to cooperate with the deal to abandon Al Qaeda in northern Syria to Russia in exchange for a free hand to invade Syria and demolish Islamic State by the US coalition.
The deal is a win win which will allow all sides to destroy the Islamic Extremists in the region. This process is likely to take until the end of spring or sometime this coming summer.
Does this seem like the Assad regime has been saved in Syria?
Not so, this means that the Islamic Extremists are being demolished and after the Islamic Extremists are close to destruction, Israel will destroy Hezbollah and much of the remaining strength of Syria, opening the way – to Russian chagrin – for the moderate rebels to change the Syria regime.
That Israeli war will also give Trump the excuse he seeks to change the regime in Iran as well, while a possible Russian countermove in Ukraine could set up crises in Europe opening the way for a New Federal Europe.
13 Dec: Education Minister Naftali Bennett, said he had reached a deal with Netanyahu about relocation Amona settlers to demolish the Amona trailers and build a new outpost a few yards away on the same hill top. Bennett’s plan is subject to the Amona settlers’ agreement and an agreement by the High Court to postpone the eviction from the present location till the new site is prepared. Haaretz+ reported that the state fears the settlers will attack Palestinians and so in exchange for the new parcels of land the government seeks a written commitment of non-violence.
The new land – also privately owned Palestinian land – would be seized for the Settlers under the new Regularization Law; the charade is because the new law cannot disallow the previous High Court order to evacuate Amona.
PM Netanyahu heads to Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan for two days ‘to strengthen diplomatic, security, and economic ties.’
Trump’s State Secretary choice head of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson has strong oil interests in the Gulf States and an interest in attacking Iran to bump up the price of oil.
Turkey pounds Islamic State Monday in the al-Bab and Bzagah regions of northern Syria.
Islamic extremist rebels collapse in Aleppo, only tiny pockets remain. Syria is vetting fleeing civilians to filter out Islamist rebels hiding in their midst.
12 Dec: Early Monday Syrian forces liberated Sheikh Saeed district leaving only remnants of the Islamic Extremist Al Qaeda linked Al Nusrah Front reign of terror remaining in Aleppo. Russia and the US are offering safe passage out of Aleppo for the terrorists.
1700 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne complete combat exercises before January deployment to Iraq. Islamic State is moving fighters from Iraq into Syria as a big Trump push in Iraq appears to be coming soon.
The first two F-35 stealth fighters of the 50 ordered by Israel are to be delivered at a ceremony Monday attended by US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. The ceremony at the Nevatim air base will be attended by Israel’s top government and military leaders who9 will use teh occasion to discuss the regional situation. Carter is currently in Iraq discussing thge next steps in the anti Islamic State fight there.
Trump loading cabinet with Establishment anti Iran figures in preparation for big push in Iraq and Raqqa, Syria – war on Iran.
Islamic State makes second attempt in two days to seize Palmyra as IS reinforcements pour in from Iraq.
Islamist fighters weighing deal to leave Aleppo Syria with their families.
11 Dec: 38 die in bombing of Istanbul stadium, Kurds blamed.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter has arrived in Baghdad to meet with American commanders and Iraqi leaders and to assess progress in the fight to retake the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group.
Israeli Jewish Home party facing schisms over Amona evacuation.
Over last night, Syrian government troops with active support of the Russian air force thwarted an IS attack on Palmyra, Russian air force planes carried out 64 air strikes against the positions, convoys and advancing reserves of militants.
An explosion near the Coptic cathedral in Cairo has killed 25 people and injured 38 others.
Despite mainstream media disinformation the solidly Establishment Donal Trump who is a New Word Order man from head to toe, is filling his cabinet with Establishment personalities. Donald Trump is expected to nominate ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state and NeoCon Warmonger John Bolton as his number 2.
The US will send another 200 troops to join the 300 already in Syria to help rebel groups fight ISIS in Raqqa Province. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) will “begin phase two of the campaign, which aims to liberate territory west of Raqqa and surround and isolate the city,” The Islamic State is reacting to pressure on Raqqa by launching an attack on Palmyra to secure the western area of Raqqa Province.
Lt. Gen. Sergey Rudskoi, the chief of the Main Operations Directorate at Russia’s General Staffs announced that Syrian forces are pressing deep into eastern Aleppo and are now in control of 93 percent of the city.
9 Dec: Word has spread in the Israeli Settler Movement that the Amona evacuation is set for Saturday evening. The government hoped to catch the Settlers before they could rally from around the country after the Sabbath, but the Settlers having been warned began to mass at Amona on Friday. Will the evacuation proceed or will the government wait in hopes of another High Court postponement?
Now that the Islamic State has been eradicated from Sirte major Libyan factions are striking one another.
It was announced on Thursday that in October Israel has broken up a Hamas cell plotting a combined shooting – kidnapping in the Gush Etzion area, south of Jerusalem. Six Palestinians, residents of the town of Dura, the village of Tzurif and the city of Hebron, were arrested on suspicion of setting up the network. They were found with many weapons including two Kalashnikov rifles, two M16 rifles, three handguns and a hunting rifle, as well as magazines and ammunition.
Syrian forces pause Aleppo advance for evacuation of civilians.
With Congress voting to extend the Iran Sanctions Act and the incoming Trump Administration signaling a harder line on Tehran, 2017 is shaping up to be a pivotal year in U.S.-Iranian relations.
United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), an organization packed to the gills with a bipartisan who’s who of hawkish figures, held an event on the “Future of Iran Policy” in Washington DC. Unsurprising, given the list of attendees, the future they envision is war, and lots of it.
The event headlined by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – FL) and former Sen. Joe Lieberman saw calls to “restore coercion” against Iran, with several figures advocating that the US exceed the limits of sanctions alone by sinking Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.
Ros-Lehtinen suggested that while the US is carrying out this overt war against Iran, they could also dramatically escalate sanctions, targeting entire sectors of the Iranian economy.
Following the House of Representatives’ vote, the Senate Thursday voted 92-7 to pass the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the main military spending bill for the next year. This is a compromise version of the bill, which only included funding for the wars for the early part of 2017, with the assumption that an “emergency” bill will be passed in early 2017 to pay for the rest of it.
This allows Congress to falsely claim that they are only increasing military spending by a few billion dollars over last year, when in practice the total of all the bills will be a much bigger increase.
8 Dec: The Old City of Aleppo was fully liberated last night leaving the Islamic Extremists with only 10% of the land they had seized. The US is keeping its agreement with Russia and saying nothing about the Syrian advances but is ready to help negotiate an evacuation of fighters to end the fighting and save civilian lives.
7 Dec: The US is in talks with Aleppo militias to arrange their evacuation of the area.
El-Mezzeh military airport, Damascus, was hit by several waves of Israeli airstrikes around 4:15am. Yesterday Israel attacked three Hezbollah positions in Zabadani, north of the Syrian capital.
6 Dec: Election fever rising in the Knesset. Bibi takes time off to reflect under his usual cover of the flu, prepares to ask the High Court for another 30 days to prepare for Amona issue [until Jan 24]. The idea is to delay elections – which must be held within 120 days of the governments fall – to provide time for a war after Trump takes office on Jan 20.
Syria continues advances in Aleppo, liberating seven more districts. About 80% of previously rebel occupied territory has now been liberated.
Islamists attack Russian field hospital killing two nurses in Aleppo.
Reinforced Iraqi forces launch push in Mosul.
President Barack Obama will defend his counterterrorism policies in his final major speech on national security at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida, later today.
5 Dec: Pentagon plans for surging US forces to fight the Islamic State are now in the pending trays of incoming US President Donald Trump and the new Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis for their order of execution after the Jan 20 inauguration.
An amended version of the law for recognizing illegal Israeli outposts on privately-owned Palestinian land has passed its preliminary hearing in the Knesset Monday by 60 votes to 40. The compromise bill would legalize all illegal outposts except Amona which is already under a high Court evacuation order. The Amona people will still be removed but all other outposts built illegally on privately owned land will be accepted by Israel.
The IDF’s Gaza Division launched an exercise Monday in the towns of Ashkelon, Netivot and Ofakim. The drill, in which the air force is taking part, will continue into the early hours of Tuesday. A number of highways will be closed to traffic at the Carlsburg, Yad Mordecai, Gevim, Urim and Tseelim junctions and Highway 25 near Moshav Tekuma.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has resigned as PM and announced his coming retirement from politics.
French Francois Hollande, announced he would not seek a second term today.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls is expected to announce that he will seek to lead the left-wing Socialist bloc after the Hollande announcement. PM Valls is expected to announce his run for president in next year’s election against Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announces he will resign Monday after suffering a heavy defeat in a referendum over constitution reforms.
Reports are circulating that Islamic State is holding an emergency meeting to choose a successor for its leader Baghdadi who is rumored to have been killed in Mosul.
Jibril Rajoub, has won the most votes for membership in the ruling Palestinian Fatah party’s central committee Sunday, and appears to be maneuvering to replace the 81 year old Abbas should he retire.
Imprisoned Marwan Barghouti Heads Palestinian Fatah Party Vote – Abbas achieves major goals at Fatah conference by forcing main rival Dahlan and his supporters out of the movement. (Haaretz)
Iran vows ‘firm response’ unless Obama stops sanctions renewal – Iranian President Rouhani denounces legislation passed by the US Congress to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for 10 years as a violation of nuclear agreement; Tehran lawmakers call for counter measures. (Agencies, Ynet)
4 Dec: Syria pauses Aleppo advance to offer insurgent safe passage out of the city.
Fidel Castro rejected any cult of personality insisting that, once dead, his name and likeness would never be used on institutions, streets, parks or other public sites, and that busts, statutes or other forms of tribute would never be erected.” Raul Castro. announced that Fidel’s wishes would be respected.
Syrian forces made strong advances in Aleppo on Saturday with over 60% of Extremist areas now liberated.
2 Dec: Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, 64, became Thailand’s new king on Thursday.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi heads into a career-defining constitutional referendum this weekend hoping a last-minute turnaround in voter sentiment will help him hold on.
US Senate [99 to 0] joins House in extending Iran sanctions by ten years in violation of the Iran Deal.
Retired Marine General James Mattis, 66, is Trump’s pick for secretary of defense. Famous for his rough-and-tough overly aggressive attitude Gen. Mattis was head of the Central Command 2010 – 2013.
He earned the “Mad Dog Mattis” handle as a battlefield commander in Iraq when he said: “If you **** with me, I’ll kill you all.”
Criticized as overly aggressive, Mattis is also reputed for encouraging his subordinate officers to stretch their minds and think outside the box. He joins Trump in his animosity towards Iran saying that the Iranian regime as “the single most enduring threat to stability and peace in the Middle East.”
1 Dec: With the northern areas of east Aleppo now liberated from Islamic Extremists, the fighting has shifted south to the last remaining Islamist stronghold in the city.
The EU in spite of its internal problems plans big increase in military spending.
Kiev announced that Ukraine’s military exercise has begun as planned, despite Moscow’s warnings that it would use its 55,000 soldiers based in Crimea as well as its warships to shoot down Ukrainian missiles.
The Ukraine is holding the large-scale exercise, including the firing of missiles through Russian air space in the direction of the Black Sea, on Thursday and Friday. Russia’s aviation authority complained Wednesday that Kiev had made a unilateral decision to carry out the missile-firing exercise in Russian airspace above the Crimean Peninsula, endangering commercial flights that pass through the area. The Russian Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry also slammed the exercise earlier in the day.
Russia’s air defense network on the Ukrainian border was placed on its highest alert Wednesday evening following Ukraine’s announcement that it will conduct missile tests on Thursday and Friday near Crimea. Kiev claimed that the missiles are to be launched towards the Black Sea, west of Crimea. Russia’s TASS news agency quoted official Russian sources as saying the tests are an unnecessary provocation, and that the Russian military views them as a serious threat and will respond with the 55,000 troops based in Crimea and with ships equipped with means to shoot down the missiles. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova called the tests a “provocation designed to prompt a tough response”.