For the Night of 15 April 2014
North Korea-South Korea: The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published an official statement about drones captured by South Korea.
"The inspection group of the National Defense Commission (NDC) of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Monday, 14 April, opened to the public the truth about the drone case touted by the South Korean authorities, terming the fiction about the "drones sent by the north" a replica of the Cheonan warship sinking case from A to Z."
"According to the open statement, it was reported that crashed drones were found in various parts of South Korea recently."
"It said: The South Korean military authorities on 2 April hastily announced the 'results of the first investigation' in which they concluded that the drones were sent by the north. On April 11 they announced the "results of intermediary investigation" insisting that the drones "belong to the north".
They claimed those photos available from the drones are the most convincing evidence proving that the "drones belong to the north"….
"The open statement laid bare the sinister criminal aims sought by the south Korean authorities through the drone case: The first aim sought by the south Korean authorities is to blame the DPRK for orchestrating the drone case and shift the responsibility for the acute north-south relations and the situation on the Korean peninsula inching close to a war on to the DPRK."
"The second aim is to take the second "May 24 anti-north measure" by fabricating the second Cheonan warship sinking case in a bid to keep the north-south relations in the state of confrontation."
"The third aim is to plug their American master into their arms buildup under the pretext of "strengthening the security posture" and thus make up for the "vacuum of force" and stifle the DPRK by force of arms at any cost."
The North argued that the presence of Chinese and Japanese characters on components of the drones proved they were not North Korean.
The North renewed its offer for a joint investigation of the sinking of the Cheonan, adding in the drones.
Comment: The North's arguments are essentially nonsense. Several points are beyond dispute. The North Koreans have drones. They have experimented with them for years. Their military partners - Pakistan, Iran and Syria- have drones and almost certainly shared the technology.
North Korea buys military equipment and components for its military equipment from Japan and China. Its best military general purpose and special purpose vehicles are bought in Japan. and cconverted for military use. Most of the high-tech components in any modern military equipmen, including ballistic missile guiidance and control systems, originated in Japan.
A statement issued under the authority of the National Defense Commission means this is important to North Korea. The South embarrassed the North by displaying the incompetence of North Korean drone engineering and production. In the people's paradise defective military products simply do not exists, thus the crashed drones cannot have been made in North Korea.
A joint North-South investigation would enable the North to determine what went wrong to make the drones crash.
Ukraine: Ukraine's acting President Olexander Turchynov announced the start of an "anti-terrorist operation" against pro-Russian separatists. He told parliament it was being conducted "stage by stage, in a responsible... manner".
Hours later, gunfire was heard at an airfield which officials said had been in the hands of militants, according to press reports Mr. Turchynov said the airbase at Kramatorsk had been "liberated" from "terrorists". Bloggers posted images to the Web of Ukrainian helicopters arriving at Kramatorsk airfield.
Comment: Thus far the Kramatorsk airfield seems to be the only objective taken by the Ukrainian forces, though the situation is confused in the town itself. The regime in Kiev announced success early on the 15th because the pro-Russia activists voluntarily vacated the police station they had captured. An agent of the Kiev regime's security service later announced that the activists left the police station to take over the security service's building instead.
As for the airfield at Kramatorsk, the activist had no significant presence, according to news sources. There were no casualties, which indicates the regime's forces acted with some skill and professionalism to secure a base for follow-on operations in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, provided there are follow-on operations. This seems to be the only operation.
There is no civil war in eastern Ukraine. No battles have been reported and there are no reports of new casualities. There are pockets of armed activists who have taken over buildings that symbolize the Kiev regime's authority in about ten towns and cities. This is a small, widely dispersed, but carefully targeted operation. It has to be the work of Russian Spetsnaz troops with local support. Russia has to be paying the men because no news sources report a groundswell of public support either in support or in opposition to the activists. There is no other source of pay and all forces require regular pay.
The public seems indifferent to both sides, based on its essential invisibility. On the other hand, the Kiev regime seems tentative and incompetent. The forces loyal to Kiev need leadership and tactical advice, more than equipment. The Ukrainian army far outguns the activists but that is not apparent anywhere.
Warning to analysts: The Web has many images of military equipment and forces. There is no way to tell the authenticity of those images; to identify reliably who the forces are; to determine when the images were taken or to determine which direction the forces are heading. All sides know how to manipulate social media and imagery.
Russian reaction. The Russian government posted an official reaction to the action at Kramatorsk.
"Comment by the Russian Foreign Ministry in connection with sharp deterioration of the situation in the south-east of Ukraine" published on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website on 15 April."
"We are deeply concerned over the military operation in south-eastern regions of Ukraine, which has been started by the Ukrainian special services supported by units of the regular army. There are already casualties."
"It is criminal to wage war against one's own people who stand for ensuring legitimate rights. Ukraine is again gripped by nationalist chaos. What is happening is evidence of stubborn unwillingness by the Kyiv authorities to establish a dialogue with Ukrainian regions, which is much needed for the country. No-one should remain indifferent to the tragic escalation of the situation in Ukraine. [We are] urging our international partners to condemn the actions, which are anti-constitutional and fraught with disaster, and which are carried out by the so-called new Ukrainian authorities."
Comment: Russia has built the case in propaganda for military intervention to stop civil war. It is not asserting a right or claim to annex eastern Ukraine. It is important to distinguish the eastern Ukrainian political developments from what happened in Crimea because the tactics are not the same and neither is the end state, at least up to this point.
The leadership of the Crimean autonomous republic moved swiftly to separate from Ukraine. That is not what most of the eastern Ukrainian activists have demanded. Their spokesmen continue to demand a referendum on confederation and recognition of Russian as a second national language. There have been few calls for secession and union with Russia.
This means that Russian military intervention would be justified as protecting ethnic Russians and might not signify a permanent annexation, but could mean a prolonged peacekeeping presence, as occurred in Abkhazia and South Ossetia prior to 2008. In this scenario, Ukraine would still be responsible for providing central services to the eastern Ukraine oblasts. However, the east also would keep more of the benefits of its industrial output instead of sharing it with the less profitable, agrarian western Ukrainian districts.
A unitary state redistributes wealth from the more profitable to the less profitable. Opposition to and resentment of this practice led to the fragmentation of Yugoslavia. It could in Ukraine as well, but secession does not appear to be a primary demand … yet.
South Sudan: South Sudanese rebels said on Tuesday they once again have seized Bentiu, the capital of oil-producing Unity State, and warned oil firms to pack up and leave within a week.
"The recapturing of Bentiu marks the first phase of liberation of oil fields from the anti-democratic and genocidal forces of Kiir (President of South Sudan)," rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said in a statement. Urging all oil firms operating in government-held areas to shut their operations and evacuate their staff within a week, he said, "Failure to comply with this request, the oil companies risk forced oil shutdown and the safety of their staff."
An oil ministry official told the press that three Russian oil workers were injured in a rebel attack at a newly built refinery facility in Bentiu yesterday.
Army spokesman Phillip Aguer said there was fighting in Unity State, but he did not have a full report on what had happened. "There has been serious fighting in Unity today, so far the government forces are still on the ground but we are still waiting for a full report to tell us exactly what has happened," Aguer said.
Comment: The negotiators in Ethiopia continue to claim that a ceasefire remains in effect, but no one takes that seriously. The attack on Bentiu is much more than a ceasefire violation.
It is clear that the rebels want to damage the South Sudan economy by denying oil revenues from Unity State production. What is unclear is how closing the facilities and expelling the foreign experts who make them productive serve rebel goals. On the other hand, the fighting is fundamentally inter-tribal and personal, between the two leaders, so relative economic advantage might not matter much.
End of NightWatch for 15 April.
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