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May 7, 2019 | Via NY Post

Russian Plane Struck by Lightning Before Fiery Crash, Passengers Say

The Russian plane that burst into flames during a dramatic emergency landing in Moscow, killing 41 people, was struck by lightning moments before the crash, the pilot and surviving passengers said. Fliers said the lightning strike happened at the start of the flight, the BBC reported. The plane’s pilot, Denis Yevdokimov, told Russian media the aircraft lost communication and needed to switch to emergency control mode “because of lightning,” but stopped short of saying the plane was struck directly. Investigators have not commented on the claims that the plane was struck by lightning.

May 6, 2019 | Via AP News

At Least 40 Dead in Russian Plane’s Fiery Emergency Landing

A Russian airliner burst into flames while making an emergency landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport Sunday evening, and at least 40 people died, officials said. The Sukhoi SSJ100 operated by national airline Aeroflot had 73 passengers and five crew members on board when it touched down and sped down a runway spewing huge flames and black smoke. The airport said in a statement that the plane, which had taken off from Sheremetyevo Airport for the northern city of Murmansk, turned back for unspecified technical reasons and made a hard landing that started the fire.

May 1, 2019 | Via BBC

Norway Finds ‘Russian Spy Whale’ off Arctic Coast

A beluga whale found off Norway’s coast wearing a special Russian harness was probably trained by the Russian navy, a Norwegian expert says. Marine biologist Prof Audun Rikardsen said the harness had a GoPro camera holder and a label sourcing it to St Petersburg. The tame beluga repeatedly approached Norwegian boats off Ingoya, an Arctic island about 415km (258 miles) from Murmansk, where Russia’s Northern Fleet is based. Belugas are native to Arctic waters. Russia has a naval base in the region.

April 25, 2019 | Via Channel News Asia

Russia Eases Citizenship Rules in East Ukraine

Russia on Wednesday (Apr 24) made it easier for people living in eastern Ukraine’s separatist territories to obtain Russian passports, drawing swift condemnation from Kiev only three days after it elected a new president. President Vladimir Putin signed the decree aimed at residents of the unrecognized Donetsk and Lugansk republics that broke away from Kiev in 2014 and are governed by Moscow-backed rebels. People living in the separatist regions will now be entitled to receive a Russian passport within three months of applying for one.

April 16, 2019 | Via BBC

Russia Jails Norwegian Frode Berg for Spying on Submarines

A Moscow court has sentenced a 63-year-old Norwegian, Frode Berg, to 14 years in a strict-regime labour camp for spying on Russian navy submarines. Berg, arrested in Moscow in 2017, denied the accusation. He formerly worked as a guard on the Norwegian-Russian border. Berg’s lawyer, Ilya Novikov, said his client would not appeal against the verdict but would seek a pardon from President Vladimir Putin. Mr Novikov, quoted by AFP news agency, said Berg “expects his government to undertake diplomatic efforts” and “we see no practical use in appealing”.

March 26, 2019 | Via Reuters

U.S. Calls Russia Deployment of Planes to Venezuela ‘reckless escalation’

The United States on Monday accused Russia of “reckless escalation” of the situation in Venezuela by deploying military planes and personnel to the crisis-stricken South American nation that Washington has hit with crippling sanctions. The Russian planes and military personnel arrived outside the Venezuelan capital Caracas on Saturday, according to local media reports, two months after the Trump administration disavowed President Nicolas Maduro. Washington has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country’s legitimate president and demands that Maduro leave power, which Russia has described as a U.S.-backed coup against the socialist government.

February 21, 2019 | Via USA Today

Putin Vows to Target US with New Weapons if Washington Deploys Missiles to Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that Moscow will target the U.S. with its new hypersonic missiles if the Trump administration follows its scrapping of a key arms control agreement by deploying new intermediate-range missiles in Europe. The Trump administration announced in early February that it would withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty over what it said was Russian violation of the Cold War pact.

February 4, 2019 | Via CNN

Russia Follows US in Suspending INF Nuclear Missile Treaty

Russia has announced it is suspending participation in the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty — one day after the US declared it would pull out of the agreement unless Moscow complies with its terms within 180 days. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the move on Saturday, according to the Kremlin’s official website. Putin held a special meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu following Friday’s decision by the US to suspend compliance with the INF treaty, a key pact with Russia that has been a centerpiece of European security since the Cold War.

January 23, 2019 | Via Times

American Spy Suspect Paul Whelan had State Secrets on a Memory Stick

A former US Marine charged with espionage by Russia was unaware that a computer memory stick given to him in Moscow contained state secrets, his lawyer said today. Paul Whelan, 48, was arrested in a hotel near the Kremlin by FSB officers on December 28. Russian media, citing security service sources, said he was seized shortly after receiving a secret list of Russian agents from a contact. Mr Whelan, who also has British, Irish and Canadian citizenship, traveled to Russia frequently over the past decade. He faces up to 20 years in a penal colony if found guilty.

January 22, 2019 | Via NY Times

Explosion and Fire off Crimea Kill 11 Sailors

An explosion and a fire involving two tanker ships near the contested Kerch Strait, the waterway separating Crimea from mainland Russia, left at least 11 sailors dead on Monday and several missing, according to Russian news reports. Initial reports suggested that a fire and an explosion on one ship had spread to the second. In late November, a clash between Russian and Ukraine naval forces not far from the bridge led to Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian vessels and the arrest of 24 sailors, who remain in jail.

May 2019
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