U.S. Advises Families Of Ukraine Embassy Staff To Leave

By Harold W. Reid, The Chicago Times

January 23, 2022

WASHINGTON – The US Department of State has advised family members of US Embassy staff in Ukraine to leave the county as the threat of a Russian invasion increases.  The State Department has also advised that non-essential embassy staff and private US citizens to leave Ukraine.

According to intelligence reports, Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops along the Ukraine border.  Russian intent has been a concern for NATO ever since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.  Russia has denied plans to invade Ukraine.

The US Embassy in Kiev released a statement warning that “military action by Russia could come at any time and the United States government will not be in a position to evacuate American citizens in such a contingency.”

NATO is also bolstering its defenses in the Baltic Sea region.  The Royal Danish Navy has dispatched a frigate and F-16 fighters to Lithuania.  Spain has also sent fighter jets to Bulgaria and three Spanish Navy warships to the Black Sea to join NATO naval forces.  In addition, the Netherlands plans to send two F-35 fighter aircraft to Bulgaria.

According to the Pentagon, the Biden administration has been given range of options to support NATO forces in Eastern Europe and the Baltics.  With the endorsement of the US, NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania plan to send US made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.

Kazakhstan Arrests Ex-Intelligence Boss On Treason

By H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

January 8, 2022

NUR-SULTAN – The former intelligence chief of Kazakhstan, Karim Massimov, has been arrested and charged with treason in efforts to quell a growing tide of protests.

The National Security Committee made the announcement that Massimov, who was fired by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, was arrested for his suspected role in violent protests that erupted throughout Kazakhstan.

According to reports, thousands of people have been arrested and dozens killed in the violence, along with the torching of government buildings.  Tokayev brutally issued a “shoot-to-kill” order to government troops to act against what he claims are terrorists.

The arrest of Massimov looks to be an attempt to show that those responsible are being held accountable, though some experts suspect it could be for political reasons.  Massimov was also a two-time former prime minister with close ties to former president Nursulstan Nazarbayev who left office in 2019.

According to government officials, the violent protests were ignited by the increase in fuel prices under the Tokayev regime, which is backed by Russia.

After a brutal crackdown, security shock troops have reclaimed control of Kazakhstan’s main city Almaty, the former capital, on Friday.  The mayor of Almaty still advises citizens to remain at home as the shock troops conduct a clean-up operation.

According to reports from the interior ministry, nearly 4,400 people have been arrested, internet access has been shut down, and there are reports of Russian troops in Kazakhstan’s major cities to help snuff out the violence.  Russia and Kazakhstan are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization which stipulates mutual military support in times of war and crisis.

The Biden administration has questioned the need for inviting Russian troops into Kazakhstan and fears that the occupation might be permanent.

Russia To Hold Security Talks With US Next Month

By The Chicago Times Staff

December 28, 2021

MOSCOW – In hopes to ease tensions, Russian officials will hold talks with the United States in January to discuss possible security guarantees as tensions grow over Ukraine.

According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the talks will take place after the New Year holiday.

Over the year, Russia has been observed massing tens of thousands of troops along the Ukraine border.  The recent troop buildup has left NATO allies and Ukraine with only one conclusion, that Russia intends to invade Ukraine.  The Kremlin has stated it has no intention of invasion but is responding to the growing relationship between NATO and Ukraine.

Russia unveiled security proposals to negotiate with the west, one of which includes a demand that NATO promises to forego military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

NATO and Ukraine have warned Russia that it will face massive consequences if Ukraine is invaded.

In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and supported a separatist rebellion in the country’s east.  The war in Ukraine’s Donbas region has seen the deaths of over 14,000 people to, according to NATO.

Russia To Respond If Finland And Sweden Join NATO Alliance

By H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

December 26, 2021

MOSCOW — NATO’s efforts to invite Finland and Sweden to join the alliance has not been ignored by Russia, which has vowed to respond if the two nations join NATO.

“It’s fairly evident that Finland and Sweden joining NATO… would have severe military and political ramifications that would need a sufficient response from the Russian side,” she said.

According to Maria Zakharova, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman, the neutrality of Sweden and Finland has always been “an vital aspect in keeping stability in northern Europe.”

At a June meeting, NATO pledged to strengthen ties with Sweden and Finland to support common security, crisis management planning, exercises, and information and analytic exchange.

Earlier this month, Moscow released two letters, one addressed to NATO and the other to Washington, requesting security guarantees for all parties.  The recommendations included restricting NATO’s buildup along Russia’s borders and ruling out NATO expansion.

Zakharova stated that “ruling out NATO expansion and the deployment of military systems that endanger our security near Russian borders will be the primary, essential concerns at the future negotiations with the US and NATO.”

Ceasefire Agreement Reached In Eastern Ukraine

By H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

December 23, 2021

Kiev — Negotiators from Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reached an agreement on Wednesday to restore a full ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine.

“I was delighted that participants expressed their strong determination to fully adhere to the Measures to Strengthen the Ceasefire agreement of 22 July 2020,” said Ambassador Mikko Kinnunen, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group.

Kiev and Moscow have accused each other of violating a previous ceasefire, which was signed in July 2020.

According to the special monitoring mission reports, the security situation along the contact line remained tumultuous, with about five times more ceasefire breaches documented per day in December 2021 than in December 2020.

Putin Agrees To More Talks With Biden Administration

by Bernard P. Lawson and H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times

December 12, 2021

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Biden administration have agreed to more talks amid tensions over a Russian army buildup near Ukraine, according to the Kremlin.

The Kremlin said Putin and Biden agreed to hold more talks during a video conversation on December 7 that focused on East-West relations which are currently strained by Russia’s force buildup near Ukraine.

Biden warned Putin that if Russia invades Ukraine, the NATO will impose “severe economic and other measures,” while Putin has requested guarantees that NATO will not expand further east.

According to a senior congressional aide, the Biden administration informed members of Congress that they have reached an agreement with Germany to shut down the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that Putin had no reason to be optimistic after speaking with Biden because of significant disagreements between Russia and the US over Moscow’s so-called “red lines” that it does not want the West to violate.

Aside from further NATO expansion eastward, Russia has stated that it does not want certain offensive weaponry stationed in countries bordering it, such as Ukraine.

Putin informed Biden on December 7 that Russian troops were on Russian territory and did not constitute a threat to anyone, according to the Kremlin.