With Ukraine, Germany, and France all expressing their concern this morning about "conflict escalation" between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukraine military, the so-called "truce" appears to be hanging by a thread of semanticism (despite OSCE's please for respect of the cease-fire and the demarcation line). Today's triple whammy of 'escalation' appears more focused on the non-Russian side as first, France begins sending tanks into Poland; second, Ukraine shifts its tanks to the front-line; and third - and potentially most inflammatory for Putin - NATO has confirmed plans to create permanent command centers in Eastern Europe. Putin has not responded yet but reports of 'nuclear bombers' flying above the English Channel "with transponders turned off," suggests the sabre rattling continues.
Ukrainian civilians are being evacuated:
- *UKRAINE EVACUATED 1,000 PEOPLE FROM DEBALTSEVE YDAY
- *7 CIVILIANS DEAD, 4 WOUNDED IN DONETSK REGION IN 24 HRS: POLICE
- *11 SERVICEMEN ALSO INJURED IN MILITARY CAMP BLAZE, IFX SAYS
The OSCE is calling for the truce to stand...
- *OSCE'S DACIC SAYS MAXIMUM EFFORTS MADE TO END UKRAINE VIOLENCE
- *OSCE CALLS FOR CEASE-FIRE, RESPECT FOR DEMARCATION LINE: DACIC
- *OSCE'S DACIC SAYS NO ONE CONSIDERING NEW UKRAINE PLAN FOR NOW
Everyone is "concerned"
- *POROSHENKO, MERKEL, HOLLANDE DISAPPOINTED BY MINSK TALKS
- *POROSHENKO CALLS FOR RUSSIAN REACTION TO UKRAINE TALKS FAILURE
- *UKRAINE, GERMANY, FRANCE CONCERNED ABOUT CONFLICT ESCALATION
Leaders call for immediate “cease-fire” to fighting in east Ukraine after speaking on the phone today, AFP says, citing the French president’s staff.
So the following takes place:
France is pledging tanks and armored vehicles to bolster NATO forces in Poland, where leaders are increasingly uneasy about Russia.
In a joint statement Friday after a meeting between French President Francois Hollande and Polish Prime Minister Eva Kopacz, the two governments also called for a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has intensified between pro-Russia separatists and government troops.
NATO has no permanent presence in Eastern Europe but since last April members have been cycling forces and military equipment through the region in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.
The French military equipment is expected to remain in Poland for two months.
2) Ukraine begins moving its tanks to the front-line in Eastern Ukraine
NATO said Friday it will deploy small units in six eastern European nations to help coordinate a spearhead force set up in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the units in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania will be the first of their kind there.
Defense ministers from the 28-nation military alliance will discuss the full force, which can react quickly to any hotspots in Europe, when they meet on Feb. 5.
Stoltenberg said countries responsible for providing the several thousand troops should be known next week.
The forward units will comprise a few dozen troops only. They will plan and organize military exercises, and provide command and control for any reinforcements the force might require.
"They're going to plan, they're going to organize exercises, to provide ... some key command elements for reinforcements," Stoltenberg said.
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Russia has been very quiet today as all of this has occurred but we suspect the last move - NATO bases so close to Russia's border - will warrant some response very rapidly... or perhaps Putin already pre-empted it...
The U.K.’s Royal Air Force scrambled fighter jets on Thursday after a pair of nuclear-capable Russian bombers flew across a busy civilian air traffic corridor above the English Channel. The bombers had their transponders turned off, British officials said, making them invisible to many air traffic control systems. The incident disrupted multiple flights – and ended with the U.K. government demanding the Russian ambassador appear at the Foreign Office to explain the actions.
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This is not going to end well.