Press Digest: Ukraine defense minister to request arms again on U.S. visit

Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak will raise again the question of providing lethal weapons. Source: Reuters

Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak will raise again the question of providing lethal weapons. Source: Reuters

RBTH presents a selection of views from leading Russian media on international events, featuring reports on the visit of Ukraine’s defense minister to the U.S., the return of refugees to the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine, and the possible sale of several uncompleted Russian frigates to India.

Ukrainian defense minister to raise question of arms supplies again in U.S.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak begins on Sept. 24 a two-day visit to the United States, where he will meet with Pentagon chief Ashton Carter and speak at an event in support of Ukraine, the news website Gazeta.ru reports.

The U.S. already provides some assistance to Ukraine, supplying it with protective equipment and a small number of armored Humvee military vehicles and radars, as well as conducting training of the Ukrainian military.

However, Poltorak will raise again the question of providing lethal weapons, even though the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that this issue is not being considered at present.

According to experts, the White House is currently engaged in intensive negotiations with Russia on the settlement of the Syrian conflict, and is unlikely to want to irritate Moscow with arms supplies to Kiev.

"The international community is now occupied with other problems – migration and the Middle East, and against this background, Ukraine has begun to mope and wants to remind [the world] about itself as the 'forefront of the struggle against Russia,'" said Alexander Perendzhiyev, a member of the Association of Military Political Analysts.

 

Half a million refugees return to Donetsk

More than 500,000 Donetsk refugees have returned to their homeland in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) in 2015, the centrist daily Izvestiya reports, citing DNR foreign minister Alexander Kofman.

Two years ago, the region had a population of more than 3 million people, but by late 2014, it had shrunk to about 1.6 million. Now it is 2.3 million people – the remaining portion is still in Russia.

"They are returning en masse," said Kofman, "mainly from the territory of Ukraine, because it is increasingly difficult for our refugees to stay there. We must also explain to those who have gone to Russia that they must go home to the DNR, to build the state."

Gleb Kornilov, head of the Donbass aid fund Svoikh Ne Brosayem (“We Don't Give Up Our Own”), said that the refugees who had returned home were in a positive mood.

"[These] people are resilient and have a great desire to build up their own republic," he said.

"In the summer of 2014, the streets in the DNR and LNR [the Lugansk People's Republic] were empty, but now the number of cars has increased, and parks and cafes are filled with people in the evenings. Life is returning to normal."

Starting in June 2014, about 3.1 million people moved from Ukraine to Russia, of which 260,000 have remained in the country.

 

Russian navy’s unfinished frigates may be sold to India

India is planning to buy frigates that Russia is not able to complete in Kaliningrad, the independent news website Svobodnaya Pressa reports.

Recently, Indian Ambassador to Russia Pundi Srinivasan Raghavan visited the Yantar Baltic Shipyard in Kaliningrad, where six Project 1135.6 frigates are being built for the Russian navy.

There, the diplomat suddenly said that it was "very likely" that half of these ships would be bought by India.

The navy’s plans for the frigates have been ruined by the war in Ukraine. Since the Soviet era, engines for them have been produced by a plant in the Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, which held a monopoly in this area.

However, after the uprising in Kiev, the new Ukrainian leadership froze military and technical cooperation with Russia. Immediately it became clear that the Kaliningrad shipbuilders had managed to get from Mykolaiv only three of the six Project 1135.6 frigate engines that had been fully paid for in advance.

India’s keen interest in the impending deal is understandable. After all, Project 1135.6 was created by Russian designers to order for the Indian military. The first $1-billion contract with New Delhi for construction of three frigates for India was signed in 1997.

If the deal on the unfinished frigates goes ahead, India will be able to buy engines from the same Mykolaiv plant, since the three engines that were fully paid for by Russia a long time ago are finished and gathering dust there. The Ukrainians will by no means give them to Russia, but they will sell them to India with great pleasure.

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