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Ukraine Denies Russia’s Denial, Claims Ships Threatened With Seizure | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Denies Russia’s Denial, Claims Ships Threatened With Seizure | Zero Hedge.

Minutes after Russia denied it had issued an ultimatum to the Ukraine navy, Ukraine’s acting president has just denied the denial.

  • UKRAINE’S TURCHYNOV SAYS SHIPS THREATENED IF ARMS NOT LAID DOWN
  • UKRAINE’S TURCHYNOV SAYS SHIPS THREATENED WITH SEIZURE
  • UKRAINE’S TURCHYNOV SAYS SITUATION AROUND FLEET IS DANGEROUS
  • UKRAINE’S TURCHYNOV SAYS RUSSIA INCREASING CRIMEA FORCES
  • UKRAINE’S TURCHYNOV SAYS RUSSIAN BLACK SEA FLEET HAS BLOCKED UKRAINIAN NAVY VESSELS IN SEVASTOPOL BAYS
  • TURCHYNOV SAYS SITUATION DIFFICULT IN EASTERN UKRAINE
  • TURCHYNOV CALLS ON RUSSIA TO STOP AGGRESSION

What is curious here is that while it is clear why Russia would benefit from an escalation in hostilities in the Crimea, on which it did not “start” – i.e., allowing it a clear pretext to enter the “east” and “protect” its citizens – what is becoming clear is that it is Ukraine that is desperate to raise the level of hostilities. Why – if it is to force the hand of NATO, EU or the west in providing assistance, this is a wild gambit, which will backfire massively.

Ukraine Accuses Russian Fighter Jets Of Violating Its Airspace | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Accuses Russian Fighter Jets Of Violating Its Airspace | Zero Hedge.

Infantry, navy, and now air force. At least according to the Ukraine, which reported that Russian fighter jets twice violated Ukraine’s air space over the Black Sea during the night, Interfax news agency quoted the Defence Ministry as saying on Monday. It said Ukraine’s air force had scrambled a Sukhoi SU-27 interceptor aircraft and prevented any “provocative actions” but gave no further details. That was just the cherry on top to what has already been an exhausting day for risk in Russia and the Ukraine, both of which saw their currencies tumble to all time lows.

In the meantime, Russian fortifications in the region continue. Reuters summarizes:

A Ukrainian border guard spokesman said on Monday that Russian ships had been moving in and around the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet has a base, and that Russian forces had blocked mobile telephone services in some parts of Crimea.

He said Moscow was building up its armor near a ferry port on Russia’s side of the 4.5 km (three mile) wide Kerch straight, which separates Crimea from Russia.

“There are armoured vehicles on the other side of the strait. We can’t predict whether or not they will put any vehicles on the ferry,” the spokesman said by telephone.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian Defence Ministry.

Russian forces have already bloodlessly seized Crimea – an isolated Black Sea peninsula with an ethnic Russian majority, where Moscow has a naval base.

On Sunday they surrounded several small Ukrainian military outposts there and demanded the Ukrainian troops disarm. Some refused, leading to stand-offs, although no shots were fired.

All eyes are now on whether Russia makes a military move in predominantly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow demonstrators have marched and raised Russian flags over public buildings in several cities in the last two days.

Russia has staged war games with 150,000 troops along the land border, but so far they have not crossed. Kiev says Moscow is orchestrating the protests to justify a wider invasion.

Ukraine’s security council ordered the general staff to immediately put all armed forces on highest alert. However, Kiev’s small and underequipped military is seen as no match for Russia’s superpower might.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia for what he called an “incredible act of aggression” and threatened “very serious repercussions”.

G8 countries and other nations were prepared to “to go to the hilt to isolate Russia” if Moscow made the wrong choices in Ukraine, Kerry told CBS program Face the Nation.

“They are prepared to isolate Russia economically. The rouble is already going down. Russia has major economic challenges,” he said. He mentioned visa bans, asset freezes and trade isolation as possible steps.

While the EU and NATO stepped up verbal pressure on Moscow, a German spokesman said Merkel believed it was not too late to resolve the Ukrainian crisis by political means despite differences of opinion between Putin and the West.

The German leader, who speaks fluent Russian, has had several long telephone calls with the German-speaking Putin since the crisis erupted with mass protests in Kiev.

“There is no doubt President Putin has a completely different view on the situation and events in Crimea from the German government and our Western partners,” spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters. But he added: “It is still not too late to resolve this crisis peacefully by political means.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would ask Russia’s foreign minister at a meeting in Geneva to refrain from acts or rhetoric that would further escalate the crisis. He was sending his deputy to convey the same message to the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev, he said.

So far, the Western response has been largely symbolic. Obama and others suspended preparations for a G8 summit in Sochi, where Putin has just finished staging his $50 billion winter Olympic games. Some countries recalled ambassadors. Britain said its ministers would stay away from the Paralympics due next in Sochi.

With the confrontation in Crimea having remained bloodless for days, a mood of imminent catastrophe has begun to ebb in Kiev, but many people are still on edge.

On Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, where protesters manned barricades for three months to bring down Yanukovich, the morning crowds were smaller than in the past few days as people returned to work.

“Crimea, we are with you!” read one placard. “Putin – Hitler of the 21st century,” read another.

Sergei Lavreynenko, 44, a librarian from Kiev, said Ukrainians were ready to take up arms to defend the country, and were frustrated at mixed messages from the authorities.

“Of course we are all ready to go,” he said next to a display of homemade mortar tubes and molotov cocktails used in the uprising against Yanukovich. “We have all served in the military. We have military specialisms. If we can build our own mortar tube like that, we can do even better…. But it needs to be organized. You can’t just get a bunch of guys, grab sticks and clubs and race off to Crimea.”

Ukraine Accuses Russian Fighter Jets Of Violating Its Airspace | Zero Hedge

Ukraine Accuses Russian Fighter Jets Of Violating Its Airspace | Zero Hedge.

Infantry, navy, and now air force. At least according to the Ukraine, which reported that Russian fighter jets twice violated Ukraine’s air space over the Black Sea during the night, Interfax news agency quoted the Defence Ministry as saying on Monday. It said Ukraine’s air force had scrambled a Sukhoi SU-27 interceptor aircraft and prevented any “provocative actions” but gave no further details. That was just the cherry on top to what has already been an exhausting day for risk in Russia and the Ukraine, both of which saw their currencies tumble to all time lows.

In the meantime, Russian fortifications in the region continue. Reuters summarizes:

A Ukrainian border guard spokesman said on Monday that Russian ships had been moving in and around the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet has a base, and that Russian forces had blocked mobile telephone services in some parts of Crimea.

He said Moscow was building up its armor near a ferry port on Russia’s side of the 4.5 km (three mile) wide Kerch straight, which separates Crimea from Russia.

“There are armoured vehicles on the other side of the strait. We can’t predict whether or not they will put any vehicles on the ferry,” the spokesman said by telephone.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian Defence Ministry.

Russian forces have already bloodlessly seized Crimea – an isolated Black Sea peninsula with an ethnic Russian majority, where Moscow has a naval base.

On Sunday they surrounded several small Ukrainian military outposts there and demanded the Ukrainian troops disarm. Some refused, leading to stand-offs, although no shots were fired.

All eyes are now on whether Russia makes a military move in predominantly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow demonstrators have marched and raised Russian flags over public buildings in several cities in the last two days.

Russia has staged war games with 150,000 troops along the land border, but so far they have not crossed. Kiev says Moscow is orchestrating the protests to justify a wider invasion.

Ukraine’s security council ordered the general staff to immediately put all armed forces on highest alert. However, Kiev’s small and underequipped military is seen as no match for Russia’s superpower might.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia for what he called an “incredible act of aggression” and threatened “very serious repercussions”.

G8 countries and other nations were prepared to “to go to the hilt to isolate Russia” if Moscow made the wrong choices in Ukraine, Kerry told CBS program Face the Nation.

“They are prepared to isolate Russia economically. The rouble is already going down. Russia has major economic challenges,” he said. He mentioned visa bans, asset freezes and trade isolation as possible steps.

While the EU and NATO stepped up verbal pressure on Moscow, a German spokesman said Merkel believed it was not too late to resolve the Ukrainian crisis by political means despite differences of opinion between Putin and the West.

The German leader, who speaks fluent Russian, has had several long telephone calls with the German-speaking Putin since the crisis erupted with mass protests in Kiev.

“There is no doubt President Putin has a completely different view on the situation and events in Crimea from the German government and our Western partners,” spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters. But he added: “It is still not too late to resolve this crisis peacefully by political means.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he would ask Russia’s foreign minister at a meeting in Geneva to refrain from acts or rhetoric that would further escalate the crisis. He was sending his deputy to convey the same message to the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev, he said.

So far, the Western response has been largely symbolic. Obama and others suspended preparations for a G8 summit in Sochi, where Putin has just finished staging his $50 billion winter Olympic games. Some countries recalled ambassadors. Britain said its ministers would stay away from the Paralympics due next in Sochi.

With the confrontation in Crimea having remained bloodless for days, a mood of imminent catastrophe has begun to ebb in Kiev, but many people are still on edge.

On Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, where protesters manned barricades for three months to bring down Yanukovich, the morning crowds were smaller than in the past few days as people returned to work.

“Crimea, we are with you!” read one placard. “Putin – Hitler of the 21st century,” read another.

Sergei Lavreynenko, 44, a librarian from Kiev, said Ukrainians were ready to take up arms to defend the country, and were frustrated at mixed messages from the authorities.

“Of course we are all ready to go,” he said next to a display of homemade mortar tubes and molotov cocktails used in the uprising against Yanukovich. “We have all served in the military. We have military specialisms. If we can build our own mortar tube like that, we can do even better…. But it needs to be organized. You can’t just get a bunch of guys, grab sticks and clubs and race off to Crimea.”

Memo to Obama: This Was Their Red Line! | David Stockman's Contra Corner

Memo to Obama: This Was Their Red Line! | David Stockman’s Contra Corner.

by  • March 2, 2014

Ethnolingusitic_map_of_ukraine[1]In 1783 the Crimea was annexed by Catherine the Great, thereby satisfying the longstanding quest of the Russian Czars for a warm-water port. In fact, over the ages Sevastopol emerged as a great naval base at the strategic tip of the Crimean peninsula, where it became home to the mighty Black Sea Fleet of the Czars and then the commissars.

For the next 171 years Crimea was an integral part of Russia—a span that exceeds the 166 years that have elapsed since California was annexed by a similar thrust of “Manifest Destiny” on this continent, thereby providing, incidentally, the United States Navy with its own warm-water port in San Diego. While no foreign forces subsequently invaded the California coasts, it was most definitely not Ukrainian and Polish riffles, artillery and blood which famously annihilated The Charge Of The Light Brigade at the Crimean city of Balaclava in 1854; they were Russians defending the homeland.

And the portrait of the Russian ”hero” hanging in Putin’s office is that of Czar Nicholas I—who’s brutal 30-year reign brought the Russian Empire to its historical zenith, and who was revered in Russian hagiography as the defender of Crimea, even as he lost the 1850s war to the Ottomans and Europeans. Besides that, there is no evidence that Putin does historical apologies, anyway.

In fact, its their Red Line. When the enfeebled Franklin Roosevelt made port in the Crimean city of Yalta in February 1945 he did know he was in Soviet Russia. Maneuvering to cement his control of the Kremlin in the intrigue-ridden struggle for succession after Stalin’s death a few years later, Nikita Khrushchev allegedly spent 15 minutes reviewing his “gift” of Crimea to his subalterns in Kiev in honor of the decision by their ancestors 300 years earlier to accept the inevitable and become a vassal of Russia.

Self-evidently, during the long decades of the Cold War, the West did nothing to liberate the “captive nation” of the Ukraine—with or without the Crimean appendage bestowed upon it in 1954. Nor did it draw any red lines in the mid-1990′s when a financially desperate Ukraine rented back Sevastopol and the strategic redoubts of the Crimea to an equally pauperized Russia.

In short, in the era before we got our Pacific port in 1848 and in the 166-year interval since then, the security and safety of the American people have depended not one wit on the status of the Russian-speaking Crimea. Should the local population now choose fealty to the Grand Thief in Moscow over the ruffians and rabble who have seized Kiev, what’s to matter!  Worse still, how long can America survive the screeching sanctimony and mindless meddling of Susan Rice and Samantha Power? Mr. President, send them back to geography class; don’t draw any new Red Lines. This one has been morphing for centuries among the quarreling tribes, peoples, potentates, Patriarchs and pretenders of a small region that is none of our damn business.

Memo to Obama: This Was Their Red Line! | David Stockman’s Contra Corner

Memo to Obama: This Was Their Red Line! | David Stockman’s Contra Corner.

by  • March 2, 2014

Ethnolingusitic_map_of_ukraine[1]In 1783 the Crimea was annexed by Catherine the Great, thereby satisfying the longstanding quest of the Russian Czars for a warm-water port. In fact, over the ages Sevastopol emerged as a great naval base at the strategic tip of the Crimean peninsula, where it became home to the mighty Black Sea Fleet of the Czars and then the commissars.

For the next 171 years Crimea was an integral part of Russia—a span that exceeds the 166 years that have elapsed since California was annexed by a similar thrust of “Manifest Destiny” on this continent, thereby providing, incidentally, the United States Navy with its own warm-water port in San Diego. While no foreign forces subsequently invaded the California coasts, it was most definitely not Ukrainian and Polish riffles, artillery and blood which famously annihilated The Charge Of The Light Brigade at the Crimean city of Balaclava in 1854; they were Russians defending the homeland.

And the portrait of the Russian ”hero” hanging in Putin’s office is that of Czar Nicholas I—who’s brutal 30-year reign brought the Russian Empire to its historical zenith, and who was revered in Russian hagiography as the defender of Crimea, even as he lost the 1850s war to the Ottomans and Europeans. Besides that, there is no evidence that Putin does historical apologies, anyway.

In fact, its their Red Line. When the enfeebled Franklin Roosevelt made port in the Crimean city of Yalta in February 1945 he did know he was in Soviet Russia. Maneuvering to cement his control of the Kremlin in the intrigue-ridden struggle for succession after Stalin’s death a few years later, Nikita Khrushchev allegedly spent 15 minutes reviewing his “gift” of Crimea to his subalterns in Kiev in honor of the decision by their ancestors 300 years earlier to accept the inevitable and become a vassal of Russia.

Self-evidently, during the long decades of the Cold War, the West did nothing to liberate the “captive nation” of the Ukraine—with or without the Crimean appendage bestowed upon it in 1954. Nor did it draw any red lines in the mid-1990′s when a financially desperate Ukraine rented back Sevastopol and the strategic redoubts of the Crimea to an equally pauperized Russia.

In short, in the era before we got our Pacific port in 1848 and in the 166-year interval since then, the security and safety of the American people have depended not one wit on the status of the Russian-speaking Crimea. Should the local population now choose fealty to the Grand Thief in Moscow over the ruffians and rabble who have seized Kiev, what’s to matter!  Worse still, how long can America survive the screeching sanctimony and mindless meddling of Susan Rice and Samantha Power? Mr. President, send them back to geography class; don’t draw any new Red Lines. This one has been morphing for centuries among the quarreling tribes, peoples, potentates, Patriarchs and pretenders of a small region that is none of our damn business.

Two Russian Warships Enter Black Sea Through Bosphorus; Another Docks In Cuba | Zero Hedge

Two Russian Warships Enter Black Sea Through Bosphorus; Another Docks In Cuba | Zero Hedge.

Russia may be awaiting a diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine crisis, but we wouldn’t hold our breath especially with the deposed president Yanukovich set to conduct a press conference tomorrow from Russia’s Rostov-on-Don at 5pm local time, where we hardly anticipate a scaling back of the escalation in what is sure to not be an abdication from power. Instead, Putin continues to prepare for the worst and is openly signalling to the West that if he has to fight to regain influence in the Ukraine, he will, as a top Kremlin politician warned last week. As such it was not surprising to read that two Russian warships, the Minsk and the Kaliningrad which last week were sent out on deployment around Syria, crossed back into the Black Sea, most likely in direction Sevastopol, as the build up of Russian forces in the Crimea continues.

From Bosphorus Nabal News:

Today, two Ropucha class landing ship from Russian Navy passed through Bosphorus returning from their Syrian deployment. As the political crisis in Ukraine particular in Crimea is increasing it is possible that Russian Navy wanted these valuable assets closer to home.

 

kaliningrad-774x320

minsk

And in other more perplexing news, AFP reported that a Russian warship was docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Communist Cuba or its state media. “The Viktor Leonov CCB-175 boat, measuring 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and 14.5 meters wide, was docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.

The Vishnya, or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media sources said.

Neither Cuban authorities nor state media have mentioned the ship’s visit, unlike on previous tours by Russian warships.

The former Soviet Union was Cuba’s sponsor state through three decades of Cold War. After a period of some distancing under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the countries renewed their political, economic and military cooperation.

The ship is reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.

The Mail adds that The intelligence vessel bristles with electronic eavesdropping equipment and weaponry, including AK-630 rapid-fire cannons and surface-to-air missiles.

Bringing back memories: Tourists in a old American car pass by the Russian Viktor Leonov spy ship that docked in Havana, Cuba, on Wednesday

Why is Russia planting a spy ship in the US backyard? It might have something to do with John Kerry’s earlier admonition that the US is now behaving like a “poor nation” – maybe Russia decided to test just how poor?

Numerous Explosives Discovered Near Winter Olympics Site | Zero Hedge

Numerous Explosives Discovered Near Winter Olympics Site | Zero Hedge.

Just a few short weeks away, the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympic may go off with a bang, literally, judging by the amount of “terrorist” chatter surrounding the games. Today however, it is more than just chatter: earlier the Russian media reported that Russian security forces had come across multiple unexplained deaths and explosive devices in a region near Sochi, resulting in an aggressive “anti-terrorism sweep.”

The developments are bizarre to say the least:

A car with a body inside exploded as police approached it in Russia’s Stavropol Territory, reported Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti, citing the Interior Ministry. In the same area, Russian authorities reportedly discovered a car containing the bodies of three men along with explosive material. The day before, two more bodies were found in the same region.

 

Russian officials are investigating the possible cause and motive for the deaths — a Russia analyst speculated to ABC News the deaths could be related to organized crime — but at any rate the mystery and the security sweep add to an already tense situation in southern Russia as the Olympics approach.

One person keeping a close eye on the developments is none other than president Obama, who as we reported yesterday, will unleash an ad blitz for Obamacare around the Olympics. The last thing he will want is for the participants in the games to have need of it. Which is why one can be certain that the NSA and various US security forces are already well aware of any potential sources of terrorism around the games. Sure enough, in a statement of condolences from the White House over the most recent Volgograd bombings, President Obama’s National Security Council slipped in an apparent jab at the Russian government over the security situation. “The U.S. government has offered our full support to the Russian government in security preparations for the Sochi Olympic Games, and we would welcome the opportunity for closer cooperation for the safety of the athletes, spectators, and other participants,” the NSC statement said.”

Some thoughts on who they may be:

Just 10 days ago more than 30 people were killed in dual suicide bombings in Volgograd, Russia, some 400 miles northeast of Sochi. By comparison, Moscow lies more than 850 miles north of Sochi. In October seven people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated explosives on a bus, also in Volgograd. The Stavropol Territory lies approximately halfway between Volgograd and Sochi – approximately 150 miles away from the Olympic site.

 

No group has publicly claimed responsibility for the bombings, but in the case of the October bus bombing, Russian authorities said the bomber hailed from Dagestan, a restive region in southern Russia to Sochi’s east that, along with Chechnya, is home to a violent Islamist insurgency that has fought Russian government forces for decades.

 

The leader of the insurgency, Doku Umarov, sometimes referred to as “Russia’s Osama bin Laden,” last June called on his followers to “do their utmost to derail” the Sochi Olympics, which he called a “satanic dance on the bones of our ancestors.” In the past Umarov has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on Russian civilians, including the 2011 bombing of Moscow’s Domodedovo airport.

What is far more clear is who is providing the funding and supplies for the Islamists – the same puppetmaster who was behind the Syrian conflict. Recall:

Bandar told Putin, “There are many common values and goals that bring us together, most notably the fight against terrorism and extremism all over the world. Russia, the US, the EU and the Saudis agree on promoting and consolidating international peace and security. The terrorist threat is growing in light of the phenomena spawned by the Arab Spring. We have lost some regimes. And what we got in return were terrorist experiences, as evidenced by the experience of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the extremist groups in Libya. … As an example, I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics in the city of Sochi on the Black Sea next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us. These groups do not scare us. We use them in the face of the Syrian regime but they will have no role or influence in Syria’s political future.”

Putin laughed in Bandar’s face, the Saudi natgas pipeline gambit in Syria failed, and as a result the escalation in Sochi is progressing just as Bandar implied it would. Naturally this puts Obama in a tough spot: he can’t openly act against Saudi interests once again after alieanting his ally in the region and take out the terrorist camps in Chechnya, but the last thing he would want is to cart home coffins of athletes.

Which means US participants are resorting to Plan B:

the U.S. ski and snowboard team this year will be overseen by a private security firm, which plans to have as many as five aircraft on standby in case of a medical or security emergency in Sochi. “This environment is unique,” Global Rescue CEO Dan Richards told USA Today Wednesday. “You just don’t have competitions in places like Sochi with any frequency. … In the last 10 years, there has been nothing like it.”

 

William Rathburn, who was the head of Olympic Security during the bombing of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, told ABC News that while he’s confident Russian officials “have done everything they can” to secure the upcoming games, the odds of an incident are “very high.”

 

“It’s an opportunity for the Chechen [militants] or anyone else to embarrass Russia or [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, I think,” he said. “It’s far easier to protect against attacks on somebody who might be targeted, a group or country or delegation. [But] it’s clear that the people who conducted the two bombings in Volgograd are willing to indiscriminately kill people. It’s very difficult to protect against…”

And after last year in which Putin humiliated US and most western foreign policy on virtually every front, the number of people who want to embarass Putin is quite long.

Russia train station bombing kills 13 as Olympics near – World – CBC News

Russia train station bombing kills 13 as Olympics near – World – CBC News.

A female suicide bomber blew herself up in the entrance hall of a Russian train station on Sunday, killing at least 13 people in the second deadly attack in the space of three days as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympics.

The state Investigative Committee said the bomber detonated her explosives in front of a metal detector just inside the main entrance of Volgograd station. Footage shown on TV showed a massive orange fireball filling the hall and smoke billowing out through shattered windows.

“People were lying on the ground, screaming and asking for help,” a witness, Alexander Koblyakov, told Rossiya-24 TV.

A spokesman for Russian investigators said at least 13 people died, although the regional governor put the toll at 15.

President Vladimir Putin ordered law enforcement agencies to take all necessary measures to ensure security, RIA news agency quoted his spokesman as saying. A federal police spokesman, Vladimir Kolesnikov, said security would be stepped up at train stations and airports.

Russian Heath Ministry spokesman Oleg Salagai said 42 people were wounded and that some would be flown to Moscow for treatment.

Volgograd is a city of around 1 million people, about 690 km northeast of Sochi, where the Winter Olympics — a major prestige project for Putin — will open on Feb. 7.

Formerly known as Stalingrad, it lies close to Russia’s North Caucasus, a strip of mostly Muslim provinces plagued by near-daily violence in a long-running Islamist insurgency.

Insurgent leader Doku Umarov, a Chechen warlord, urged militants in a video posted online in July to use “maximum force” to prevent Putin staging the Olympics.

An attack by a female suicide bomber killed seven people in Volgograd on Oct. 21. On Friday, a car bomb killed three people in the southern Russian city of Pyatigorsk, 270 km east of Sochi.

The station was busier than usual, with people travelling home for the New Year holidays. TV footage showed emergency services carrying out victims, with at least one body lying motionless on the ground.

Another witness, Vladimir, said: “I saw melted, twisted bits of metal, broken glass and bodies lying on the street.”

Sunday’s attack was the deadliest to strike Russia’s heartland since January 2011, when Islamist insurgents killed 37 people at a Moscow airport.

 

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