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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Day 1018: December 1, 2016

Publication: Ukraine Liveblogs
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukraine Tests Missiles In Black Sea, But Appears To Have Moved Exercise Area Away From Occupied Crimea
As we reported yesterday, tensions have flared over Ukrainian military exercises being held today and tomorrow in the Black Sea. 

This morning, the exercises began, with President Petro Poroshenko announcing that the first test launches of a guided surface-to-air missile system had taken place successfully. 

It is these tests that have drawn the dramatic response, including warnings of interceptions or retaliatory attacks, from the Russian Federation.

Yesterday Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin's press secretary, told reporters that he had no knowledge of any threat to the Ukrainians from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

However the warning has now been made public both by a document provided to Ukrainska Pravda from the Ukrainian MOD, and a notice to airmen (NOTAM) issued last night:

A3064/16 NOTAMNQ) UKXX/QAFXX/IV/NBO/E /000/999/4524N03303E216

A) UKFV UKOV B) 1612010930 C) 1612011130

E) AIR NAVIGATION WARNING

IN RESPONSE TO THE UKRAINIAN NOTAMS REGARDING ESTABLISHMENT OF DANGEROUS AREAS FOR THE ROCKET FIRING WITHIN THE ODESA AND SIMFEROPOL FIRS ON DECEMBER 01 AND 02, 2016, WARNING FROM THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION WAS RECEIVED WITH THE FOLLOWING CONTENT: THE MINISTRY OF DEFENCE OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION WARNS THAT IN CASE OF DETECTING THE LAUNCHED MISSILES IN THE SPECIFIED AREA THEY WILL BE DESTROYED BY THE AIR DEFENCE FORCES OF ARMED FORCES OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION. IN CASE IF LAUNCHED MISSILES POSE THREATS TO RUSSIAN OBJECTS ALLOCATED IN THE DEFINED AREA OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION TERRITORY (ON LAND AND SEA OR IN THE AIRSPACE), THERE WILL BE A STRIKE BACK FOR DESTRUCTION OF THE LAUNCH MEANS THEREOF.

It should be noted that these statements specify that Russia would only strike Ukrainian launchers if the missiles "posed threats" to Russian assets.

President Poroshenko released a statement:

"Despite the threats from the Russian Federation, we are today carrying out planned exercises, including the firing and testing of surface-to-air missiles, because our air defense has been destroyed over the last 25 years. Now our responsibility is to build up the air defenses of Kiev and all of Ukraine.

And no one will stop us, and we will act in the interests of the security of the Ukrainian people and the Ukrainian state." 

However a comparison of NOTAMs issued by the Ukrainian authorities earlier this week and today indicates that the testing range may have been moved away from the shores of Russian-occupied Crimea.

The earlier NOTAMs (A2945/16 and A2944/16) warned that the following area (in yellow) should be avoided by pilots during the tests:

Set as default press image
2016-12-01 11:21:11
Two later NOTAMs (A3058/16 and A3059/16) cover a different area, superimposed on the previous map in red:
Set as default press image
2016-12-01 11:20:55

The new pair of NOTAMs applies to the same dates (today and tomorrow) but cover a slightly shorter, but overlapping period of time.

The first pair NOTAMs warns pilots to avoid the yellow zone between 6:00 and 14:00 GMT. 

The new NOTAMs warn pilots to avoid the red zone today between 9:30 and 11:30 today, and 8:00 and 12:00 tomorrow.

It should also be noted that no cancellation or replacement notices have been issued concerning the first pair of NOTAMs. However it seems strange that the new NOTAMs would not include areas the existing, yellow exclusion zone beyond the limits of the new, red zone. 

This suggests that the exclusion area for the missile tests has indeed been moved.

According to Vladimir Kryzhanovsky, press attache of the Southern Air Defense Command, the missiles being tested are being fired from Soviet-era S-300 systems.

-- Pierre Vaux
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