Indian Planes go Missing in Kiev
This is really too funny. As Sputnik reports, India has entered into a contract with a Ukrainian state-owned company to refurbish and upgrade its fleet of military transport planes. Now it has turned out that the company has somehow managed to “lose” five of them. Part of the fleet was to be refurbished in India, but that has recently stopped, because the Ukrainian engineers went back home and the required spare parts failed to turn up.
“India says five of its 40 AN-32 military transport aircrafts have gone missing “without a trace” while the planes underwent upgrades in Ukraine. “These five aircraft are almost lost as it is difficult to trace them and diplomatic efforts to find their whereabouts have failed,” the website Defense News quotes an Indian Air Force official as saying.
In 2009, India signed a contract with Ukraine’s state-owned arms trading agency, Ukrspetsexport Corp., to upgrade its 104 AN-32 transport aircraft at a cost of US $400 million, as the fleet had reached its life expectancy. The upgrade program started in 2011 and was set to run through 2017.
Under the deal, the modernization of 40 warplanes should have been completed in Ukraine at Kiev-based Antonov State Co. facilities, while the 64 others were set to be upgraded in India at the Air Force’s Kanpur-based base, under a technology transfer from Ukraine.
However out of 40 warplanes sent to Kiev, only 35 made their way back home. The remaining five have been “lost without trace”.
The local upgrade of the remaining 64 AN-32s has been halted as Ukrainian engineers departed and supplies of spare parts stopped, according to the Indian Air Force. A diplomat from the Ukraine Embassy said Antonov must resolve this issue with the Indian Air Force, and that the government cannot help.”
The Antonov AN 32. Admittedly, not the biggest airplane ever, but we would still find it difficult to lose one, let alone five.
Photo credit: Rohan
Interestingly, although Ukrspetsexport is a state-owned company, Ukraine’s government “cannot help”. We wonder if that rather unhelpful attitude has anything to do with India not imposing sanctions on Russia? In any case, it seems extremely short-sighted given the size of the order. It is a good bet that India – one of the biggest buyers of war materiel on the planet right now – isn’t going to make any deals with Ukrainian companies anymore.
At the same time, there actually seems to be a crackdown on corruption underway in Ukraine following the deposition of Igor Kolomoisky, whose state-within-the-state is now dismantled as well. Two high-ranking officials of Ukraine’s security apparatus have been arrested in the middle of a cabinet meeting – they stand apparently accused of profiting from illegal fuel purchases at inflated prices using public funds.
Sergey Boichkov and Vassily Stoetzky are arrested in the middle of a cabinet meeting
Well, they sure look guilty (and they also look line strip club bouncers! A common affliction of Ukrainian officials) and they probably are. Maybe they know where the “lost” Indian planes are hiding out as well?
President Poroshenko has in the meantime moved to undermine Kolomoisky’s private army as well – the Neo-Nazi battalions such as Azov and various armed units belonging to Yarosh’s Right Sector have reportedly been given an ultimatum: They either become regular army units, or they must leave their posts near the war zone and disarm. The trigger was apparently the murder of an SBU (secret service) officer by a bunch of right wing thugs as he happened upon a scheme of “trading with the enemy” (they were smuggling stuff to Lugansk and Donetsk).
A big shake-up of the SBU and the armed forces is underway, which according to Poroshenko need to be reformed according to NATO criteria. The SBU has a new head, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, who recently announced that a network of corrupt officers as well as politicians in the Rada (who are to be stripped of their immunity) will be arrested shortly. This seems to be a combination of following “suggestions” from the West (i.e., Washington) and getting rid of political competition.
Nevertheless, there is in fact a lot of corruption in Ukraine (reportedly it is so enormous that the jaw of the average Western observer would drop right to the floor were he to realize its extent), so any move to eradicate some of it must be cautiously welcomed (more color on this can be found at this web site, however we caution that it is written by supporter of the separatists, whose opinions are slanted accordingly – nevertheless, we know from experience that the information he provides often tends to be spot-on, so he represents a valuable source).
Most notable though is the fact that Poroshenko is beginning to distance himself from the rabid nationalists, as evidenced by a speech he held in context with the above mentioned murder of an SBU officer. Even if you don’t understand the language, you can make out his mention of “cynical Banderists” just after 1:00 in the short video below:
Poroshenko calls murderers of SBU officer “cynical Banderists” – In his speech in the video, Poroshenko apparently misspoke: he first said “cynical Banderists”, and then corrected himself to say “bandits”. A Freudian slip-up.
For those who don’t know: Stepan Bandera was a leader of the nationalist Ukrainian resistance to the Soviet Union during WW2 and beyond, and collaborated with the Nazis on the principle “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. This was unfortunate for any Jews and Poles that happened to live within grabbing distance of Bandera, as they were duly driven away and/or exterminated. His modern-day followers all deny that they are Nazis, but they do admire Hitler, use Nazi symbols and go on about the “Muscovite Jew cabal” they want to stamp out. Moreover, they profess to dream of an ethnically cleansed, all-white Ukraine and their economic views are 100% congruent with those of Hitler. Other than that, they are only harmless nationalists.
Stepan Bandera, leader of the Ukrainian resistence against the Soviets in WW2
Image author unknown
However, they were also the most effective fighting force Ukraine had on the Eastern front. From what we could find out so far, some of them have moved away from their previous positions in the Donbass without joining the army (yet). Whether they have actually disarmed is doubtful. Note also that prior to Kolomoisky’s deposition, there was talk of Right Sector leader Dimitry Yarosh being elevated to the army’s general staff, an idea that has almost certainly died now.
The question is what these armed groups will do next (some of their leaders call the recent moves a “betrayal”). Most likely they won’t do anything for the moment, and some may even join the army. After all, they are battle-hardened and need an income (although there will no longer be the extra pay provided by Kolomoisky). However, they have also frequently aired their growing dissatisfaction with the leadership in Kiev, and it cannot be ruled out that they will one day turn on those they are currently serving. As we know from the Maidan uprising, when it comes to deposing a sitting government, they can be very effective. Here is an article in Russian on these developments; a Google translation should be good enough to get the gist of it.
We previously mentioned that the appointment of a number of non-Ukrainians to important government posts appears to have been implemented as a move aimed at curbing corruption. This was almost certainly under “orders” of Western powers which are currently financing Ukraine’s government. The IMF wants to get its money back one day, and that won’t be possible unless some things change rather dramatically.
However, we believe this also means that the Minsk agreement will not hold forever. In US neo-con circles the idea of Kiev negotiating with the rebels in the East is detested – only unconditional surrender is held to be acceptable. Reading between the lines, President Poroshenko appears to be more pragmatic to us, but our impression is that he is frequently put under pressure in this respect (hence the constant back and forth). It will be interesting to see what happens next – hitherto the betting was on the next offensive being started sometime in April, and April has just begun.