China-Russia: At the 10 April Chinese Foreign Ministry press conference, a reporter asked,
"The Russian side said the other day that it would sign a natural gas agreement with the Chinese side. What is the Chinese side's response to that? Will the two sides sign the agreement?"
The Foreign Ministry spokesman said, "Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkadiy Vladimirovich Dvorkovich held a meeting as co-chairs of the China-Russia Energy Cooperation Committee in Beijing on 9 April. They had an in-depth exchange of views on China-Russia energy cooperation and reached a new consensus on cooperation."
"Chinese and Russian companies are now actively engaged in negotiations about the eastern natural gas pipeline project. We hope that the two sides will step up negotiations, reach a consensus on the basic gas price as soon as possible, and sign a purchase and sale contract on natural gas delivered through the eastern pipeline at an early date."
Comment: The US will find little support from China for sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. China needs the natural gas.
Russia-US: US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by telephone on 9 April. They said they agreed on the need to resolve the security situation in eastern Ukraine peacefully and on the need to include authorities in Kiev/Kyiv.
Comment: The two men are speaking the same words, but meaning very different things. For Russia, a peaceful outcome means that Kiev agrees to a federalized Ukrainian state that recognizes Russian as a second national language.
For the US, a peaceful outcome apparently means that Moscow agrees to refrain from interfering in Ukraine, returns its forces to peacetime readiness and bases and allows Ukraine to decide its form of state structure and whether to become pro-Western.
Travel advisory. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted to the web a recommendation for the citizens of Russia to avoid travelling to countries which have extradition treaties with the United States.
"Russian nationals who "suspect" that American law-enforcement bodies may ask questions of them 'are strongly advised to refrain from travelling abroad, in particular to countries that have extradition treaties with the USA,' a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry website on 10 April said."
"It said that the USA was "hunting" Russian nationals in third countries 'with a view to subsequently have them extradited and convicted in the USA, as a rule on questionable charges.'"
"The statement said that 'justice American-style' was 'biased against Russian citizens.'"
"The Foreign Ministry said that "the threat" that Russian citizens may be arrested in third countries at the request of the American authorities 'has gone up considerably with the introduction by the USA of anti-Russian sanctions.'"
Comment: The sanctions have degenerated into farce.
Russia-Ukraine: NATO released to news organizations satellite images purporting to prove that the Russians are maintaining a combat-ready all arms ground force plus tactical helicopters and tactical fighter aircraft at bases and field encampments all along the eastern border of Ukraine. The released imagery is dated and annotated. NATO said it estimates the force totals up to 40,000 personnel.
The Russian General Staff said the imagery showing the alleged build-up of Russian troops near Ukraine's borders was taken in August 2013.
"These images, which were released by NATO, show subunits of Russian troops from the Southern Military District that conducted various exercises in the summer of last year, including near the borders with Ukraine," the representative told the agency.
Comment: The images are recent but not current, which reduces their persuasiveness. Nevertheless, taking them at face value, the Russian forces appear well ordered at bases and field sites. They are not deployed on the border, waiting for a movement order, as some accounts suggest. Their locations around Ukraine's borders indicate competent planning.
The NATO command suggested an invasion could be accomplished in 12 hours. Actually, Russian forces could cross Ukraine's eastern border within a few hours because some are positioned only 30 miles from a border crossing point.
At this point, warning based on the Russian force buildup has concluded. Some late logistics movements might serve as last minute indicators before movement.
The Russians have shown that they have the general intent to invade Ukraine. That means the assembled forces and mix of military capabilities signify that Russian leaders have decided to intervene in Ukraine under some circumstances.
Now warning analysts must study indicators of specific intent. Those will emerge from the nature and salience of the situation in eastern Ukraine, as the Russians might interpret it. The shift from military indicators to political indicators makes the next item particularly noteworthy.
Changes to Ukraine's national security law. The Russian Foreign Ministry posted a formal comment on a change in Ukraine's internal criminal penalties for crimes against national security.
"'Comment from Russian Foreign Ministry official spokesman A.K. Lukashevich in connection with Ukraine's adoption of amendments to its criminal code,' published on the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website on 10 April"
"In the last few days, Ukraine's Supreme Council (parliament) has adopted a law introducing amendments into the Ukrainian Criminal Code, increasing liability for crimes committed against the foundations of Ukraine's national security."
"Unwilling to listen to their own people, to understand their aspirations and concerns and to try to analyze the real causes of conflict situations in the country's eastern regions, Ukrainian parliamentarians thought up nothing better than to set in motion the fly-wheel of the threat of repressions against all those who disagree with the current usurpers of power in Kyiv, as a mechanism to frighten the population of their own country."
"Naturally, as is currently the way in Kyiv, during stormy debates in the Ukrainian parliament, Russia was once again hysterically blamed for the tragic situation that has developed in Eastern Ukraine, a situation that has actually been caused by the short-sighted policy of the Ukrainian authorities."
"We hope that Kyiv will recognize that they will not be able to resolve the problems genuinely facing the country by resorting to repressions and police methods. The path of building a dictatorship is unlikely to facilitate a way of the crisis."
Comment: It is unusual for the foreign affairs department of any state to comment on the internal criminal laws of another country. Large countries do that to smaller neighbors when they intend to meddle. In this instance, Russia is evaluating whether Ukrainian regime behavior and conditions in the east constitute a sufficient justification for military intervention. Every action taken by the Ukrainian regime that affects ethnic Russians is under scrutiny.
As for the Ukrainian regime, its leaders seem compelled to pass laws and take actions that are certain to provoke the Russians. The pro-Russian activists now have no incentive to stand down. Ukraine acts like it wants a fight.
Ukraine: Security situation.
Luhansk. The number of protesters outside the seized building of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) directorate in Luhansk has increased to around 1,500.
A Ukrainian correspondent reported that as of 2030 local, despite the cold weather and rain, the area surrounded by barricades was filled with people. Law enforcement employees in plain clothes were also spotted among the crowd.
The correspondent reported that the actions of those blockading the SBU building and controlling the seized territory appear more organized this evening.
Luhansk activists issue demands. The activists in the SBU building issued a list of demands.
"To avoid bloodshed, we demand that the incumbent central authorities immediately cancel the anti-terrorist operation against the citizens who are protesting and pass a law on amnesty for the service personnel of the special-purpose units Berkut and Alfa and the Internal Troops, as well as those who are taking part in the protests and who participated in the seizures of administrative buildings in the eastern regions with their subsequent disarmament."
They also demanded that the regime grant the Russian language the legal status of a second state language and hold a nationwide referendum on Ukraine's federative composition "with the guaranteed preservation of its territorial integrity."
Comment: The first paragraph of demands refers to the buildup of Ukrainian paramilitary police and "Spetznaz" troops of the Interior Ministry, including armored personnel carriers around Luhansk.
The amnesty demand is linked to the changes in the national security law, mentioned above. The other demands are identical to those proposed by Russia as a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Donetsk. With 24 hours remaining for Kiev's threatened deadline to use force against activists in eastern Ukraine, there are reports of tanks around the city of Donetsk, apparently Ukrainian. The activists in Donetsk continue to hold the regional government buildings.
One activist said, "If they can do it in Kyiv, we can do it in Donetsk." News services have reported the activists are expecting a Ukrainian attack.
End of NightWatch
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