Ukraine tensions: Russia invasion could begin any day, US warns

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Russia is in a position to “mount a major military action” says US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan

Russia has the troops in place to invade Ukraine “at any time” and American citizens should leave within the next 48 hours, the US has warned.

An invasion could start with aerial bombing that would make departures difficult and endanger civilians, the White House said on Friday.

A host of other countries have also urged their nationals to leave Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly denied any plans to invade Ukraine despite massing more than 100,000 troops near the border.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Russian forces were now “in a position to be able to mount a major military action” and urged American citizens in Ukraine to “leave as soon as possible” in remarks seen as a clear escalation in the urgency of warnings from US officials.

“We obviously cannot predict the future, we don’t know exactly what is going to happen, but the risk is now high enough and the threat is now immediate enough that [leaving] is prudent,” he said.

Mr Sullivan added that the administration did not know if Russian President Vladimir Putin had made a final decision to invade, but said that the Kremlin was looking for a pretext to justify military action, which he said could start with intense aerial bombardment.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said new Russian forces had arrived at the border in what he described as “very troubling signs of Russian escalation”.

“We’re in a window when an invasion could begin at any time, and to be clear, that includes during the Olympics [which end on 20 February],” Mr Blinken said.

President Biden has said that he would not send any troops to rescue any citizens left stranded in the event of Russian action.

Moscow has begun massive military drills with neighbouring Belarus, and Ukraine has accused Russia of blocking its access to the sea.

The Kremlin says it wants to enforce “red lines” to make sure that its former Soviet neighbour does not join Nato.

On Friday, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the bloc was “united and prepared for any scenario”. caption,

I’m staying in Ukraine, for now: Watch US citizen and English teacher Juan Tec explain why

John Herbst, US ambassador to Ukraine between 2003 and 2006, said that despite the US government’s warnings, he believes a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine remains unlikely.

Among other countries calling on citizens to leave are the UK, the Netherlands, Latvia, Japan and South Korea.

The British foreign office said all UK nationals “should leave now while commercial means are still available”.

In its warning, Latvia cited “a serious threat to security posed by Russia”.

Earlier on Friday, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned his counterpart in Moscow that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would have “tragic consequences” for both countries. But Sergei Shogiu said growing military tensions in Europe were “not our fault”.

The current tensions come eight years after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula. Since then, Ukraine’s military has been locked in a war with Russian-backed rebels in eastern areas near Russia’s borders.

Russian naval drills took place in Crimea on Friday, while 10 days of military exercises continued in Belarus, to the north of Ukraine.

There are fears that if Russia tries to invade Ukraine, the exercises put the Russian military close to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, making an attack on the city easier. Russia says its troops will return to their permanent bases after the drills end.


Moscow says it cannot accept that Ukraine – a former Soviet republic with deep social and cultural ties with Russia – could one day join the Western defence alliance Nato and has demanded that this be ruled out.

Russia has been backing a bloody armed rebellion in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region since 2014. Some 14,000 people – including many civilians – have died in fighting since then.

There is some suggestion that a renewed focus on the so-called Minsk agreements – which sought to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine – could be used as a basis to defuse the current crisis.

Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany backed the accords in 2014-2015.

US expects Russia to invade Ukraine next week: report


Samuel Chamberlain

February 11, 2022 2:02pm 


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US officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to invade Ukraine and an attack could take place as soon as next week, as National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told Americans still in the Eastern European nation to get out within “24 to 48 hours.”

PBS foreign affairs correspondent Nick Schifrin tweeted that US officials believe Putin has communicated an invasion order to the Russian military and that Washington expects a “horrific, bloody” campaign.

According to the report, a Russian attack would be preceded by two days of aerial bombardment and electronic warfare, followed by a ground assault with the potential goal of overthrowing the Kiev government led by President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Russian military
Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders.
servicemen of the National Guard of Ukraine take part in tactical and special exercises within the command-staff exercises in a village near Shostka, northern Ukraine, 09 February 2022
Members of the national guard of Ukraine take part in tactical and special exercises near Shostka, Ukraine, on Feb. 9, 2022.

At the White House, Sullivan told reporters that the PBS report “does not accurately capture what the US government’s view is today,” but did not issue a full-fledged denial.

“Our view is that we do not believe he [Putin] has made any kind of final decision, or we don’t know that he has made any final decision, and we have not communicated that to anybody,” he said.

Moments earlier, Sullivan laid out a scenario consistent with the PBS report before urging Americans still in Ukraine to leave “as soon as possible, and in any event in the next 24 to 48 hours” and warning that “there is no prospect of a US military evacuation in the event of a Russian invasion.”

Ukrainian servicemen of the 80th Separate Airborne Assault Brigade take part in an exercise near Lviv, Ukraine on  Feb. 11, 2022.
Ukrainian servicemen of the 80th Separate Airborne Assault Brigade take part in an exercise near Lviv, Ukraine, on Feb. 11, 2022.
 Russian and Belarusian servicemen taking part in the joint operational exercise 'Union Courage-2022' of the armed forces of Belarus and Russia, at a firing range in the Brest region of Belarus, 11 February 2022.
Russian and Belarusian servicemen take part in the joint operational exercise at a firing range in the Brest region of Belarus on Feb. 11, 2022.

“If a Russian attack on Ukraine proceeds, it is likely to begin with aerial bombing and missile attacks that could obviously kill civilians without regard to their nationality,” he said. “Subsequent ground invasion would involve the onslaught of a massive force … No one would be able to count on air or rail or road departures once military action got underway.”

“The risk is now high enough, and the threat is immediate enough, that prudence demands that it is the time to leave now, while commercial options and commercial rail and air service exist, and while the roads are open,” Sullivan went on. 

US military belonging to the Task Force Cougar detachment stand in formation for the visit of the NATO Secretary General while a photographer takes a snapshot at the military airbase of Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania, near the Black Sea shore, 11 February 2022.
US troops arrive at the military airbase of Mihail Kogalniceanu, Romania, near the Black Sea on Feb. 11, 2022.

“The president will not be putting the lives of our men and women in uniform at risk by sending them into a war zone to rescue people who could have left now but chose not to,” he warned. “So we’re asking people to make the responsible choice.”

The PBS report emerged following a late-morning call between Biden and other key transatlantic leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron of France, Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Following that meeting, CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour tweeted: “Official from a NATO ally tells me Pres Biden told them today the US does believe Vladimir Putin has decided to attack Ukraine. Next week.”

A tank drives during the Union Courage 2022 joint military exercise of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus, at the Brestsky training ground in Brest Region, Belarus, in this still image taken from video released February 11, 2022.
A tank drives during a joint military exercise of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus, at the Brestsky training ground in Belarus on Feb. 11, 2022.

Shortly before Sullivan took to the White House podium, the British government announced that it was advising UK citizens against traveling to Ukraine and insisting those in the country “leave now by commercial means.”

Meanwhile, the Kyiv Post newspaper reported Friday that the US was evacuating all its staff from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.

The paper reported that a mission member told the outlet he had received orders to leave the country by Tuesday.

This is a developing story.

Biden security adviser Sullivan says Russian invasion could come ‘any day now’


Jessica Bursztynsky@JBURSZ

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  • A Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned on Sunday.
  • “We are in the window,” Sullivan said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “Any day now, Russia could take military action against Ukraine or it could be a couple of weeks from now, or Russia could choose to take the diplomatic path instead.”
  • It comes after two U.S. officials said Russia has in place about 70% of the combat power it believes it would need for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
An armored personnel carrier is seen during tactical exercises, which are conducted by the Ukrainian National Guard, Armed Forces, special operations units and simulate a crisis situation in an urban settlement, in the abandoned city of Pripyat near the C

An armored personnel carrier is seen during tactical exercises, which are conducted by the Ukrainian National Guard, Armed Forces, special operations units and simulate a crisis situation in an urban settlement, in the abandoned city of Pripyat near the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, Ukraine February 4, 2022.

Gleb Garanich | Reuters

A Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan warned on Sunday.

“We are in the window,” Sullivan said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “Any day now, Russia could take military action against Ukraine or it could be a couple of weeks from now, or Russia could choose to take the diplomatic path instead.”

Sullivan appeared on several morning news programs to discuss the ongoing situation in Eastern Europe.

His appearances come after two U.S. officials said Russia has in place about 70% of the combat power it believes it would need for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The number of battalion tactical groups in the border region has risen to 83 from 60 as of Friday and 14 more are in transit, according to Reuters.

“We believe that the Russians have put in place the capabilities to mount a significant military operation into Ukraine and we have been working hard to prepare a response,” Sullivan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The form of attack could take different forms, Sullivan told NBC. Possible attacks could include annexing Ukraine’s Donbass region, cyberattacks or a full-scale invasion.

“Part of the reason we’ve been working so intensively over the last few months is not just to prepare for one contingency but to prepare for all contingencies and to work with our allies and partners on what a response would look like in each of those instances,” Sullivan said.

The U.S. and its allies have been clear the nations would act aggressively if Russia launches an attack. The U.S., for example, has threatened severe sanctions if Russian President Vladimir Putin invades.

The timeline for diplomatic negotiations could be dwindling.

“We believe that there is a very distinct possibility that Vladimir Putin will order an attack on Ukraine,” Sullivan said on ABC’s “This Week.”

If a full-scale Russian invasion occurs, thousands of civilians and troops could die, according to Reuters.

Ukraine could suffer 5,000 to 25,000 troop casualties, the outlet reported, citing a U.S. official. Russia’s troop casualties could be between 3,000 and 10,000, and civilian casualties could range from 25,000 to 50,000, according to U.S. estimates. It would also prompt millions of Ukrainians to be displaced.

Sullivan on Sunday did not comment on the projections but warned of the impact on Ukraine.

“If they choose to go down the path of escalation instead, it will come at enormous human cost to Ukrainians. But it will also, we believe, over time, come at real strategic cost to Vladimir Putin,” Sullivan told ABC.

Ukraine crisis: Nord Stream 2 pipeline could be axed, US warns

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Ukrainian forces in eastern Ukraine, January 2022
Image caption,Ukrainian soldiers are facing some 100,000 Russian soldiers massed on their borders

The US has threatened to halt the opening of a key pipeline that would send Russian gas to Western Europe, if Russia invades Ukraine.

Nord Stream 2 would run from Russia to Germany, and on Thursday officials in Berlin said the project could face sanctions if Russia attacks.

Western allies say they will target Russia’s economy if it invades, and the latest comments signal a hardening of their stance on the lucrative pipeline.

Russia denies it is planning an attack.

But the build-up of tens of thousands of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders in recent weeks has stoked tensions and escalated fears of an invasion.

“I want to be very clear: if Russia invades Ukraine one way or another, Nord Stream 2 will not move forward,” US state department spokesman Ned Price told NPR.

But he added that he was “not going to get into the specifics” of how it would be stopped, and questions remain over whether the US would have the power to cancel the project.

“We will work with Germany to ensure it does not move forward,” Mr Price said.

While the US insisted that it would stop the opening of the pipeline completely, Germany only said it would not rule out imposing sanctions on the project.

The country’s foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, told parliament that Western allies were “working on a strong package of sanctions” covering aspects “including Nord Stream 2”.

But she added that she would prefer to “continue the dialogue” with Moscow.

Her comments came after the German ambassador to the US Emily Haber tweeted that “nothing will be off the table, including Nord Stream 2” if Russia violated “Ukraine’s sovereignty”.

BBC graphic

The 1,225km (760-mile) pipeline took five years to build and cost $11bn (£8bn). The energy project, which would run under the Baltic Sea, is designed to double Russia’s gas exports to Germany.

But as yet it has not started operating, as regulators said in November it does not comply with German law and suspended its approval.

Major European businesses have invested heavily in Nord Stream 2, which is run by former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. But many groups object to the plan.

Environmentalists question how it will fit in with German efforts to cut emissions and tackle man-made climate change, while politicians at home and abroad fear it could increase Europe’s dependence on Russian energy.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has previously described the pipeline as a “dangerous geopolitical weapon”.


A major shift in tone

Analysis by Damien McGuinness, BBC News, Berlin

For years, the German government’s official line about Nord Stream 2 has been that the pipeline is a private non-political business project.

Despite massive American pressure, including threatened sanctions against European companies involved in the project, Berlin refused to back down. Some accused Washington of meddling in Germany’s independent energy policy.

That changed last week, when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was asked whether Nord Stream 2 would be used to respond to Russian aggression. “Everything is up for discussion if there is a military intervention against Ukraine,” he said.

That might not sound hawkish, but given the huge cost of cancelling the project it can be viewed as a major threat.

The pipeline is controversial in Germany. The Green Party in particular has always opposed it, partly for environmental reasons. But the chancellor’s centre-left SPD party traditionally backs the pipeline, believing it crucial for German energy supplies.

The Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s border has achieved what years of American pressure never could: it has made Germany rethink Nord Stream 2.


Diplomatic moves

The threats over Nord Stream 2 followed a day of diplomatic manoeuvring on Wednesday.

The US rejected Russia’s key demand to bar Ukraine from joining the Nato military alliance, while offering Moscow a “serious diplomatic path forward”.

President Vladimir Putin is currently assessing the proposals, his spokesman said.

The proposals will not be made public, but US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the document made their “core principles” clear, including Ukraine’s sovereignty and its right to choose to be part of security alliances such as Nato.

Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said the formal response does not address Russia’s “main concern” about the alliance’s expansion. But he did say that it “gives hope for the start of a serious conversation” on secondary questions, adding that President Putin will decide how to respond.

Separately, diplomats from Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany reaffirmed a commitment to the long-standing ceasefire agreement in Ukraine, which had seen Russia-backed rebels seize territory in the eastern Donbas region.

All four nations continue to support the ceasefire “regardless of differences on other issues” related to the 2015 Minsk agreements, a statement published by the French presidency said. The group is due to meet again in two weeks in Berlin.

President Joe Biden is planning to speak with Ukraine’s president later on Thursday. He will also meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on 7 February to discuss the Ukraine situation, the White House says.

Explainer: What are NATO’s next steps if Russia invades Ukraine?

By Robin Emmott

4 minute read

Airmen from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. and the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, arrive at Amari Air Base, Estonia, January 24, 2022. U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Megan Beatty/Handout via REUTERS

Airmen from the 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. and the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, arrive at Amari Air Base, Estonia, January 24, 2022. U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Megan Beatty/Handout via REUTERS

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BRUSSELS, Jan 27 (Reuters) – NATO allies are putting forces on standby and sending reinforcements to eastern Europe in response to Russia’s buildup of more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders.

Here are some of the dilemmas about NATO’s next steps.


Not militarily. Ukraine is not a member of NATO and the alliance is not treaty-bound to defend it. U.S. President Joe Biden has said he will not send American or allied troops to fight Russia in Ukraine. ad

However, Kyiv is a close partner and was promised eventual membership of the alliance at a NATO summit in 2008.

For the moment, the 30-member North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is working with Ukraine to modernise its armed forces. Canada operates a training programme in Ukraine, while Denmark is also stepping up efforts to bring Ukraine’s military up to NATO standards. The alliance has also said it will help Ukraine defend against cyber attacks and is providing secure communications equipment for military command.


The United States, Britain and the Baltic states are sending weapons to Ukraine, including anti-tank missiles, small arms and boats. Turkey has sold drones to Ukraine that the Ukrainian military has used in eastern Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists.

However, Germany is against sending arms to Ukraine. Berlin has instead promised a complete field hospital and the necessary training for Ukrainian troops to operate it, worth about $6 million.


The alliance is concerned about a potential spillover from any conflict between Russia and Ukraine, particularly in the Black Sea region, where Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, and in the Baltic Sea.

The U.S. Department of Defense has put about 8,500 American troops on heightened alert. Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and four F-16 warplanes to Lithuania. Spain has sent a minesweeper and a frigate to join NATO naval forces in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

Madrid is also considering sending fighter jets to Bulgaria, while the Netherlands has also offered two F-35 warplanes to Bulgaria from April.

France may send troops to Romania under NATO command.


Russia says it has no intention of invading Ukraine. read more

NATO, which is both a political and military organisation, has offered more talks with Moscow in the format of the NATO-Russia Council in Brussels to find a solution.

Moreover, as an alliance of 30 countries with different priorities, decisions are taken collectively and it can take time to drum up the necessary troops for joint missions.

NATO allies are discussing whether to increase the number of troops rotating through eastern Europe. They will focus on the issue when allied defence ministers meet for a scheduled meeting in Brussels in mid-February.

NATO has four multinational battalion-size battlegroups, or some 4,000 soldiers, led by Canada, Germany, Britain and the United States in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.

The troops serve as a “trip wire” for NATO’s 40,000-strong response force to come in quickly and bring more U.S. troops and weapons from across the Atlantic.

The biggest decisions may not come until June, when NATO leaders are due to meet for a summit in Madrid. They are expected to agree a new master plan, called a Strategic Concept, in part to cement NATO’s focus on deterring Russia.


Bulgaria’s government has said it is ready to stand up a 1,000-strong force in the country, under Bulgarian command and in close cooperation with NATO, possibly with some soldiers from other allied countries.

It could be formed by April or May.

The Western alliance has a multinational land force of up to 4,000 troops in Romania. The United States also has soldiers stationed at separate bases in Romania and in Bulgaria.

Romania could see a bigger NATO presence, after France offered more troops. Romania is in talks with the United States over increasing troop numbers on its soil.

Although operational since 2017, the multinational force in Romania remains only a land command, without immediate air, maritime or special forces.

Why Russia’s thawing permafrost is a global problem

January 22, 20225:04 PM ETHeard on All Things ConsideredLISTEN· 5:445-Minute ListenAdd toPLAYLIST

NPR’s Michel Martin speaks with Joshua Yaffa, Moscow correspondent for the New Yorker, about a major climate change threat confronting Russia.


While climate policy may be a way to challenge Russia in the future, climate change is threatening that country now. That’s especially true of its permafrost, that soil that remains frozen year-round. Permafrost is warming much faster than scientists had once thought. That’s dangerous for Russia because two-thirds of the country rests on permafrost. When it melts, the ground is less solid, and that could be disastrous for cities and critical infrastructure like buildings and oil pipelines.

Joshua Yaffa recently wrote about all this for The New Yorker magazine. He’s their Moscow correspondent and traveled to Siberia to track the changes to Russia’s permafrost. When we spoke, he explained why this melting is concerning for Russia and the world.

JOSHUA YAFFA: It’s worrying for two reasons. The first is, let’s say, local. As the ground essentially thaws, in some cases, large ice wedges melt, turning to water, creating large underground puddles. Of course, what’s ever built on top of that earth begins to buckle and sway and even collapse, and we’ve seen that in Russian cities. We saw that in the summer of 2020 with the collapse of a large diesel tank in the city of Norilsk that led to an environmental catastrophe that Greenpeace compared to the spill of Exxon Valdez. So we have these issues that affect local infrastructure, local ecosystems.

There’s a second issue, which I think is more worrying for all of us, really, and that has to do with the greenhouse gases that are released from permafrost as it thaws. Permafrost is, essentially, a really wonderful and efficient natural cold storage facility. It’s swallowed up all manner of organic material, from tree stumps to woolly mammoth haunches, over the millennia and kept it locked in a kind of long-term cryogenic slumber. But as the permafrost thaws, that material defrosts. Microbes in the soil begin to awaken, and a process of decomposition begins. And that process releases both carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. So what we’re seeing happen is massive amounts of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere, which is not a local problem, of course, but really a global problem.

MARTIN: So let’s talk about Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. He’s not unlike a lot of world leaders in the sense that he used to dismiss climate change. He said that he once said that climate change simply means that Russians will spend less on fur coats. Has he changed his tune? And how does this factor into his vision for the country now?

YAFFA: You very much have seen Putin and other top Russian officials speak with real clarity and alarm about the risk from climate change, both for Russia’s own national interest as well as globally. Last year, Russia’s environmental minister proposed a nationwide system to monitor changes in the permafrost due to climate change, noting that permafrost thaw could cause more than $60 billion worth of infrastructure damage. That certainly, I think, made a lot of Russian officials, including Putin himself, sit up straight.

Russia, while it has pledged to limit its emissions, it’s essentially doing that through a kind of accounting trick and saying that it will limit its emissions to a level dating back to the early ’90s, when, as part of the legacy of a project of Soviet heavy industry, it was producing and polluting quite a lot. So it’s essentially picked the most convenient baseline to say it will now produce less than. In fact, that baseline is so large it would allow Russia to emit even more than it does today. So on the level of rhetoric, you’ve seen a shift, but I’m not sure you’ve really seen much of a shift on action.

MARTIN: Around the world, we’ve seen young people really get energized about this. You know, they’re deeply anxious about their future and rightly so. And you’ve seen kind of a youth movement that I think has probably done as much to get, you know, adults energized as anything else because, you know, people tend to pay attention when their kids get mad, right? So is there any similar phenomenon in Russia? I guess what I’m wondering is, is there any sense that Russians understand this threat to themselves and to the world as a matter of general public concern?

YAFFA: I do certainly think that the Russian public understands the basic facts and science of climate change as well as sort of any other polity around the world. That said, for reasons outside the bounds of this conversation, it’s a whole other conversation about the nature of Russian politics and society circa 2022. The process or even the prospect of citizens banding together to try and influence or impact change on a governmental level – well, that’s a story I think you and your colleagues have covered extensively over the past year of what that story has meant and looked like in Russia in terms of the unprecedented crackdown, really, and a wave of repression we haven’t seen since the – really the days of the Soviet Union. And all of that combined creates an environment in which the notion of grassroots activism of any kind looks all the more unrealistic and perilous, really, whether it’s on climate or any other issue. So we’re not really seeing the kinds of public manifestations of collective action and collective calls for change that you might see in other parts of Europe and the United States.

MARTIN: That’s Joshua Yaffa. He’s Moscow correspondent for The New Yorker. He’s author of the book “Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, And Compromise In Putin’s Russia.” He’s with us from Moscow. Joshua Yaffa, thank you so much for your reporting.

YAFFA: My pleasure. Thank you.


Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rig

Large quantities of saiga horn exported from Ukraine after a breeding facility is launched

11 January 2022

Attempts to establish breeding populations of saiga in zoos have been largely unsuccessful. However, Ukraine’s Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve, where animals from around the world are kept in semi-wild conditions on the virgin steppe, has managed to breed a small population of saiga that now numbers around 700 animals. The saiga breeding program in Askania-Nova started in the 1970s when 70 wild animals were brought to the reserve.

In 2018, reports appeared in Ukrainian press that a Chinese company, quoted as Shizhen Tan Pharmaceutical Company (in the original Russian – Шичжень тан фармасьютикал компани) launched a venture with Askania-Nova to breed saiga commercially for their horn.

Reports claimed that the Chinese side leased almost 100 hectares of land in Kherson Region near the village of Kamysh. The lease was for 7 years and the Chinese invested over 40,000 US dollars in the infrastructure. The saiga stock for the breeding facility was bought from Askania-Nova.

Ukrainian news portal Noviy Den’ reported that in 2018 the same Chinese company also bought saiga skins and skulls of saiga from Askania-Nova. The body parts reportedly came from animals that had died of natural causes on the reserve. The report mentioned 30 skulls sold and 130 more being prepared to be sent to China. “Several dozens” of skins were also sold. The prices were quoted as 400 US dollars per skull (it was not mentioned if the skulls had horns or not), and 200 dollars for each skin. CITES trade database shows that in 2018, 30 skins and 220 skulls were exported from Ukraine to China.

Noviy Den’ quoted the director of Aslkania-Nova, Viktor Gavrilenko, as to how the reserve’s saiga are turned into a source of revenue: “Our main herd is kept in semi-wild conditions and does not let people anywhere near them. We prepared the animals for captivity … by raising them from birth. This is how they became accustomed to people and at times do not object to being approached and stroked. These are the antelopes that we rehoused into the new breeding facility.”

In August 2020, Kherson regional news portal reported that although 25 saiga were originally “rehoused” to the “breeding facility” in 2019, the number of saiga there has increased to 200. The report claims that in order to harvest the horn, the antelopes will not be slaughtered, but “the horns will sawn off from males under the general anaesthetic, and (the horns) regrow in two years.”

Wild male saiga with horns. (Credit: Andrey Gilijov / Wikimedia Commons.

It is biologically inconceivable that in one year 175 saiga could be born in captivity from an original stock of just 20 animals. If the claims of 200 animals in the breeding facility are correct, then almost a third of Askania-Nova’s total saiga population may now be marked for horn harvesting.

The 2019 CITES zero-quota on wild saiga means that only captive bred animals can be legally traded. However, CITES records showed export of almost 1,500 saiga horns – equivalent to 750 male saiga (only males of the species have horns), in a single shipment, from Ukraine to China in 2019.

For this to have been legal, the horns shipped out of Ukraine would need to have come from dead captive-bred animals kept in storage in a breeding facility. Alternatively, the legal horn could have come from Ukraine’s live captive-bred saiga – “sawn off under general anaesthetic”.

However, the number of horns in the shipment – almost 1,500, is equivalent to more than double the entire captive-bred population of saiga, males and females included, of Askania-Nova. The numbers simply do not add up.

There are no wild saiga in Ukraine – the species went extinct there in the 19th century.

The Species Victim Impact Statements (SVIS) Initiative have provided information to the Hong Kong government on the extent of saiga horn smuggling into Mainland China and the saiga poaching crisis in Kazakhstan that led to murders of wildlife rangers by poachers. Timely access to robust biological data is essential to government departments seeking to effectively counter illegal wildlife trade.

Illegal wildlife trade has now become a grave threat to species and ecosystems. Species Victim Impact Statement (SVIS) Initiative have drafted Species Victim Impact Statements for over a hundred most trafficked species of animals and plants. Species Victim Impact Statements help the judges and the prosecutors understand the harm done when species are taken from the wild. This harm is not limited to the suffering of individual animals, but also includes harm to the ecosystems, as well as to the resources and services that these ecosystems provide to people.

Putin launches construction of new warships amid tensions


Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at the opening ceremony of the International Military Technical Forum Army-2021 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (Ramil Sitdikov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

1 of 6Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at the opening ceremony of the International Military Technical Forum Army-2021 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021. (Ramil Sitdikov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday launched the construction of new nuclear submarines and other warships, part of a sweeping military modernization effort amid tensions with the West.

Speaking in a video call, Putin gave orders for two nuclear submarines armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles along with two diesel-powered submarines and two corvettes at shipyards in Severodvinsk, St. Petersburg and Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

“We will continue to boost the potential of the Russian navy, develop its bases and infrastructure, arm it with state-of-the-art weapons,” Putin said. “A strong and sovereign Russia needs a powerful and well-balanced navy.”

The Kremlin has made military modernization a top priority as relations with the West have plunged to post-Cold War lows after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea. Moscow has sought to reestablish a regular naval presence in parts of the world that the Soviet Union had during the Cold War.ADVERTISEMENT

The Russian navy already has a major presence in the Mediterranean Sea, with a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus. It has expanded and modified the Tartus base, the only such facility that Russia currently has outside the former Soviet Union.

“We will continue to show the Russian flag in strategically important ocean areas,” Putin said.

Monday’s ceremony for the new ships was part of the Army-2021 show intended to showcase military might and attract foreign customers for Russia’s arms industries. The weeklong show features aircraft, tanks, missiles and other weapons.

“Many of our weapons have the capabilities that have no analogues in the world, and some will remain unrivaled for a long time to come,” Putin said.

In NBC interview, Putin says he can work with Biden

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In NBC interview, Putin says he can work with Biden

Corky SiemaszkoFri, June 11, 2021, 4:30 PM·3 min read

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an exclusive interview Friday with NBC News, called former President Donald Trump a “colorful individual” and said he can work with President Joe Biden.

Putin compared the two presidents at a time when relations between Russia and the United States are at a historic low and ahead of the Russian leader’s upcoming summit with Biden.

“Well even now, I believe that former U.S. president Mr. Trump is an extraordinary individual, talented individual, otherwise he would not have become U.S. president,” Putin told NBC’s Keir Simmons during a wide-ranging and, at times, contentious interview. “He is a colorful individual. You may like him or not. And, but he didn’t come from the U.S. establishment. He had not been part of big-time politics before, and some like it, some don’t like it but that is a fact.”

Video: Putin responds to being called ‘killer’ by Biden

 3:44 8:57  Maddow to DOJ officials: Wake up! You have to fix this. LATER IN THE DAY, WE DID, IN 

As for Biden, Putin said the current White House occupant “is radically different from Trump because President Biden is a career man. He has spent virtually his entire adulthood in politics.”

“That’s a different kind of person, and it is my great hope that, yes, there are some advantages, some disadvantages, but there will not be any impulse-based movements on behalf of the sitting U.S. president,” he said.

Trump has been criticized for cozying up to Putin. After their sole summit in July 2018 in Helsinki, Trump set off shockwaves when he refused to side with U.S. intelligence agencies over Putin’s denials of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Meanwhile, Biden has said on numerous occasions that he told Putin to his face that he doesn’t “have a soul” during a Kremlin visit in 2011 when he was vice president.

But both men have agreed that Putin, who has been accused of ordering the assassinations of political opponents, is a “killer.”

Asked point-blank by Simmons during the 90-minute Kremlin interview whether he was a “killer,” Putin gave an evasive answer.

“Over my tenure, I’ve gotten used to attacks from all kinds of angles and from all kinds of areas under all kinds of pretext and reasons and of different caliber and fierceness, and none of it surprises me,” Putin said, calling the “killer” label “Hollywood macho.”

Pressed further by Simmons, who mentioned by name some of the Putin opponents who have been killed in recent years, the Russian leader bristled.

“Look, you know, I don’t want to come across as being rude, but this looks like some kind of indigestion except that it’s verbal indigestion. You’ve mentioned many individuals who indeed suffered and perished at different points in time for various reasons, at the hands of different individuals,” he said.

Putin also dismissed as “nonsense” a Washington Post report that Russia was preparing to offer Iran an advanced satellite system that would enable Tehran to track military targets, including the remaining U.S. troops in Iraq.

“It’s just fake news,” he said. “At the very least, I don’t know anything about this kind of thing. Those who are speaking about it probably will maybe know more about it. It’s just nonsense, garbage.”

Additional portions of the interview will be broadcast by NBC News on Monday on “TODAY” and “Nightly News with Lester Holt” and on MSNBC.

Biden sends Xi, Putin warning while remembering son Beau, fallen troops in Memorial Day speech

3 hours ago

Biden also paid tribute to his late son Beau

By Evie Fordham | Fox News

Why the media dismissed Wuhan theory

Many mocked lab scenario, until now

President Biden sent a warning to the presidents of China and Russia during his Memorial Day address on Sunday.

“I had a long conversation for two hours recently with [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping], making it clear to him we could do nothing but speak out for human rights around the world because that’s who we are,” Biden said. “I’ll be meeting with [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin in a couple weeks in Geneva making it clear that we will not stand by and let him abuse those rights.”


Biden spoke at a Memorial Day service in Delaware on Sunday morning, where he offered comfort to the families of fallen service members and paid tribute to his late son Beau Biden, who served in the Iraq War. 

“It’s also an important tradition in our family. As many of you know, this is a hard day for us. Six years ago today … I lost my son. In the first year of his passing back in 2016, Gen. [Frank] Vavala did a great honor in inviting us to a ceremony renaming the Delaware National Guard headquarters in Beau’s honor.”

President Joe Biden speaks with priests as he departs after attending Mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church, Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Joe Biden speaks with priests as he departs after attending Mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church, Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“We’re honored, but it’s a tough day, brings back everything,” Biden continued. “So I can’t thank you enough for your continued service to the country and your sons, your daughters, they live on in your hearts and in their children as well. And we have to carry on without them. But I know how hard it is for you. Beau didn’t die in the line of duty, but he was serving in Delaware National Guard unit in Iraq for a year. That was one of the proudest things he did in his life. So thank you for allowing us to grieve together today.”

Beau Biden, the former attorney general of Delaware, died in 2015 from cancer. The president has previously suggested that Beau Biden’s cancer could have been linked to toxins he was exposed to through military burn pits while serving in the Iraq War.

This is President Biden’s first Memorial Day weekend as commander-in-chief.


He brought up his issues with Chinese leaders as his administration refuses to commit to punishing China should the coronavirus lab leak theory be proven true.

“We haven’t ruled out anything yet,” principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters during Wednesday’s press briefing when asked whether the virus had emerged in a manner that was “deliberate or not an accident.”

“Would the president seek to punish China?” Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Jean-Pierre.


“We’re not going to go there just yet,” Jean-Pierre replied, “We have to go through the 90-day review. And once we have the 90-day review, will we be able to reassess.”  

Biden previously said he had asked the intelligence community to “redouble their efforts” to “bring us closer to a definitive conclusion” and get back to him within 90 days. 

Fox News’ Lucas Y. Tomlinson, Morgan Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this report.