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Why FSB Attacked Ukrainian Ships

This is an unscheduled article, and as you can guess from the title, it’s pretty important. So let’s start from the start. What happened in Kerch Strait, and what’s most important, what have led to this?

What happens right now around the incident in the Kerch Strait is but a Hollywood blockbuster story, build upon the conspiracy theories. But as Hanlon’s Razor principle dictates, in the end world is governed not by illuminati, but rather by a people much less bright. (Extremely poor pun intended.) And this time some not-that-bright Russian law enforcers were too eager to be commended by their Tsar. In the end this eagerness and the wish to straighten their positions in Kremlin by doing some dirty work often doesn’t end well enough — the GRU agents become spotted in Salisbury, the hacking of accounts of Presidential Administration are revealed to be conducted by the FSB employees, etc. etc.

And mishaps happened not once during the aggression against Ukraine. For example, at August 10th 2016 FSB stated on their web site that it solved the case of terrorist attacks preparation in the occupied Crimea, and almost arrested a covert ops team of the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, which “managed to escape”, leaving one man dead to FSB as well as a lot of explosives (still covered with a thick layer of grease, apparently from the long time conservation…) — that’s if to judge from videos provided by FSB.

In addition, FSB reported that it “eliminated a whole network of Ukrainian military intelligence”, and even presented a video, where a beaten up citizen of Zaporizhia Evheny Panov admits that he prepared terrorist attacks in Crimea under the orders of “Kyiv military junta”. And we all know how Russians can squeeze the necessary confessions with tortures.

Another saboteur (well, Panov could not have blown up the Crimea all alone…) according to FSB was Andrey Zakhtey, who was later stripped off the Russian citizenship which he got in 2014 after the unlawful referendum in Crimea.

Both of these men simply were in a wrong place in a wrong time. But it was too late for them. FSB officers and Sergey Ivanov, a former KGB officer who worked with Putin back then, and a current curator of FSB officers from the Presidential Administration, were eager to report of preventing the attack of very dangerous and armed to the teeth Ukrainian fascist saboteurs. Which they did, and apparently successfully staged the play.

And they were so successful that at the same August 10th during his joined press conference with President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, Vladimir Putin himself accused Ukraine and its “Western curators in the adopting of terrorist practices”.

Putin also devoted a Security Council of Russia meeting to this. Can you imagine the feeling of the shame Putin must have had before the Western partners and even his pet Sargsyan, when Putin was finally convinced to re-check the information, and trust blindly to his friends which he gave a carte blanche to, to do anything that can harm Ukraine.

In the end it became clear that no Ukrainian cover ops team never existed. Of course noone gave freedom to Panov and Zakhtey because of this fact; it’s much easier to let them rot in the FSB jails. But the decision regarding Sergey Ivanov, who apparently answered to Putin himself, was made immediately.

IN mere two days, at August 12th, from being almost a second person in the state he turned into “someone in charge of nature, ecology and transport”. A hierarchy humiliation comparable to this have not been seen in all the time of Putin’s rule. It was long discussed and enjoyed by Russian experts.

The never-ending of Kremlin “towers” makes it hard for the anyone involved to keep the right mind and survival instincts. That’s why the participants of “Kremlin derby” change all the time, it is flexible and volatile. This festival of political greed is overlapping with the desire of its members to control the agenda in the media space. And the media in Russia is a kind of extreme sport, and a fashion choice. Who are you, after all, if you didn’t acquire few journalists and a couple of anonymous Telegram channels, which translate the political expertise on any given news story?

That’s when you and I, my dear readers, come to play and carefully examine the egos of the people of power, blown out of proportion with a controlled media. Of course, you must divide everything you see by three, at very least. But even though we cannot achieve a perfect accuracy, and the truly objective information is often inaccessible, you still can follow a simple logic to understand the nature of the processes.

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First of all, in the case of Azov Sea and Black Sea conflict, Russians exposed themselves right from the start. Even before making a move, they already discussed it, described and thought it through. The most “farsighted” analytic of all is someone Igor Voitenko (or someone under this nickname) who is writing to the online media “Foundation of Historical Perspective Studies” — stoletie.ru

This Foundation is headed by Natalya Narochnitskaya, who is also a director of the “Institute of Democracy and Cooperation” (Paris, France) — which was a part of recent study by Katerina Smagly called “Hybrid Analytica” about the foundations and think tanks which spread the Kremlin agenda throughout the world.

For some reason, back at October 31st, Igor Voitenko in his article named “Is Azov conflict inevitable? How West and Ukraine agitate the situation in the region” explains in detail, which are the reasons for Moscow to start an escalation of the conflict.

In particular, he points to the historical factors of Mariupol’s strategic values, the widely known interest to this location of NATO, and … a completely unknown quote from Alexander Novak, Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation, who apparently does not exclude the projects of oil production being put on hold on the continental shelf of Black Sea, “depending on existence of legal reasons to it”.

All the attempts of finding this quote by a Russian government representative in the open sources lead to nothing, except one — these very same words were quoted by one of the most popular Russian political Telegram channels “KremlebezBashennik” (roughly translated as “Kremlin Numb Nuts”), but in a completely different context.

Authors of this Telegram channel reported that Andrey Belousov, Assistant to the President of Russia, provided Vladimir Putin with an analytical report on the situation in the Azov and Black Sea region, which was agreed with Sergey Kiriyenko, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Administration of Russia. As always, Putin was fast to react: “To Kozak, Lavrov, Novak. This is bad. Consider the solutions, urgently. Shalkov to control this” — says Putin’s resolution written on the document.

This kind of rigorous reaction by Putin was caused by the fact that in all time of the occupation neither the official Russian structures, nor the occupation powers of Crimea did not bother with the demarcation of Azov and Black Sea borders with the precisely specified of Russian sites, which would let them to organize the quasi-legal development of oil and gas deposits.

It is weird, but the article signed by the name of Igor Voitenko almost  precisely repeats the Telegram post of “KremlebezBashennik”. Voitenko is also writes of unilateral demarcation, which was used, for example, by the Kuomintang regime of China in the Taiwan Strait.

In 2015 Aleksandr Novak reported of 16% raise in the oil production on the continental shelfs of Russia in general, with about the same decrease (-16.4%) on the Black Sea shelf — up to 51 thousand tons. And since 2017, “Russia slowed down even more the development of oil and gas deposits in the Crimea vicinity and next to Ukrainian territories”. (By the way, this sentence is identical both in “KremlebezBashennik” and Voitenko — they did not even made a proper re-write of text.)

Kremlin lost over 1 trillion rubles on this. This kind of sum will drive mad anyone, and of course it drove mad a 66 year old bald man governing Russia. This kind of behavior also out Kremlin in the weak position in negotiations regarding the freedom of navigation, and added Azov region into the agenda of negotiations with West regarding the Russian aggression. All in all, apparently the Kremlin judo boy hit somewhere hard, and the hell broke loose.

A Stenka-class patrol boat of project 22460 “Ametist” (armed with one 6-barrel 30 mm gun AK630M and two 12.7 mm machine guns) was temporarily moved from Sevastopol to Kerch, closer to Kerch bridge location. Later from Black Sea to Azov Sea were moved patrol boats of Coast Guard of the Border Service of the FSB: “Kerch”, “Bezuprechny”, “Balaklava”, and the new escape boat “Kapitan Guriev”.

In Novorossiysk the final tests are conducted on recently build in Zelenodolsk and launched in June 2017 patrol boat “Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky” (project 22100, codename “Ocean”). Initially aimed for Pacific Ocean, apparently “Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky” will end up in Azov Sea as well. It is armed with one 76 mm gun AK176M, two 14.5 mm machine guns. A landing pad for one helicopter of KA-27PS is provided, as well a hangar for helicopter storage. A drone Gorizont G-Air S-100 can be launched from the boat.

In October 2018 two Stenka-class boats of project 10410 came from Kola Peninsula to Azov Sea using the internal rivers: “Syktyvkar” and “Kizlyar”, both armed with 1 76 mm gun AK176M, one AK630M gun and two 9K38 Igla missile launchers, They also will we based in Kerch. In the early November two fresh built patrol boats of project 1496M1 “Lamantin” arrived to Azov from Yaroslavl by rivers.

Considering the Temryuk-based group of Russian Coast Guard (two boats of project 14230, support vessels “Khanty-Mansiysk” or project 16900A, four patrol vessels and five patrol boats), and a similar sea border patrol unit in Taganrog (twelve patrol boats, two patrol hovercrafts, nine small boats and over thirty motor boats of Master 651 and Master 540 projects) — against Ukraine this looks as The Armada.

But that’s not the end. Not “KremlebezBashennik” and his sponsors are interested in this, but also a competitor company — which is apparently a GRU. So, tadam! What have they done? They leaked a bit of inside information on the real plans of “strategists” in the Internet. And that’s where the young oligarch and FSB protégé Sergey Kurchenko comes to stage.

The company to conduct the prospecting and development of the gas and oil deposits in the Azov and Black Sea region was “Chornomornaftogaz”. This company was a personal affair of Sergey Kurchenko, to make money in the budget of former president Viktor Yanukovych and his “Family”. In the times of Yanukovych “Chornomornaftogaz” worked with 4-5 fictitious companies of Kurchenko and other members of “Family”, which won all the tenders and bids. Everyone in Ukraine remembers the “Boyko oil platforms”. Some deals were serviced by the “Arzinger” law firm.

After the Crimea annexation the company was nationalized — or, in fact, was in turn annexed by Igor Sechin. And half a year ago Kurchenko asked his Moscow friends to return him control over the company. In exchange he supposedly promised to Dmitry Kozak and to Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation to arrange the deal with Ukraine of oil production in the region of Odessa.

Now the nationalized “Chornomornaftogaz” is being prepared to corporatization. One of the beneficiaries is considered to be Kurchenko. He also has a license for the sea shelf development in the area of Crime peninsula. But the process is not fast and easy, as Sergey Kurchenko already managed to entrap himself in Russian corruption scandals. According to the information of Internet media, in the spring of 2017 Sergey Aksyonov, a “Prime Minister of Crimea”, provided one of the Kurchenko companies with the license of development of Crimean sea shelf. This company is a completely unknown to public “OOO Novye proekty” (“New Projects, Ltd”) which raised some discontent — as most of Kurchenko’s insolent projects do.

This activity of the young oligarch is going under the protection of up-and-coming star of Russian Olympus Dmitry Kozak, a Deputy Prime Minister of Russia (was serving in GRU special forces, and started his career in the legal department of St. Petersburg mayor office in the times of Sobchak and Putin).

Kurchenko serves as a “hands” of Kozak on the grey area territories. Kurchenko was banned from entering the “Donetsk People Republic” in the time of Aleksandr Zakharchenko, but it all changed after Surkov’s successful operation of changing the boss for his protégé Pushilin. A prime minister and a right hand man for Pushilin became someone Ananchenk, a former employee of “Vneshtorgservis” company — again, owned by Kurchenko.

Basically, that’s how the chain of command of Russian-occupied territories look: Surkov—Kozak—Kurchenko. Sergey Kurchenko is (unofficially) managing all the financial and economic assets of the occupied territories of Donetsk and Lugansk regions, by controlling the coal trade through the only trader, the “Gas Alliance” company (registered in Nizhny Novgorod city), he is also in control of drugs and goods smuggling. The coal business alone provides Kurchenko with a 300% profit margin (estimated to bringing him up to 950 million USD per year).

The main goal of Kozak was to cut the spending of Russian budget on the maintenance of the occupied territories, by giving them to Kurchenko (not unlike how feudal lord provides his vassal) who would rule the territories and pay a share to his master. And also would finance some projects in the Ukrainian elections, which (in case of success) will provide a much desired by numerous parties re-integration of occupied territories into Ukraine, but on Kremlin conditions, and under complete financial control of Kurchenko. And, for example, will finally open the Odessa region for the oil producing.

So let’s gather everything now. Putin is hysterical because his subordinates spent 1 trillion rubles into nothing, while Sechin tries to bring a price of oil products higher. And that’s considering the fact he already did the dirty work of occupying Crimea and its sea shelf. It is him who gives the order to fill the sea with the boats armed with guns of all calibers.

Kozak is reprimanded, as the region is of his responsibility. Through the FSB resources, one of them being oligarch Kurchenko, he is long due to secure the oil producing to relieve some tension from Russian budget, which suffers much because of the need of supplying the occupied territories. And now these Ukrainians on their damn boats…

Letting them to enter the sea behind the Kerch bridge is impossible. First of all, if Putin will know about this, he will tear you apart. Second, GRU already leaked all the fails into public, and noone will tolerate one more fail — you can ask the deceased GRU general.

With this background, the Gennady Medvedev, a deputy head of Border Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (who is mentioned in the conversations intercepted by Ukrainian intelligence) is on the phone with… let’s assume it was Sergey Beseda, a director of 5th department of FSB. Who makes it clear that in case of fail Medvedev will continue his service somewhere in the cold lands of Kuril Islands, on the furthest of islands, semaphoring the Japanese with little else to do.

And that’s when the true hysteria starts. And the rest — well, you know…

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