Ukriane, Russia, Electricity

A week after discontinuing electrcity imports from Russia, Ukraine followed up on its long-standing threat to cut electrical power to Crimea, leaving nearly two million people in the dark. Naturally and as usual, Poroshenko is blaming unidentified militants for sabotaging the power lines, while doing nothing to repair them.

For now it's all fun and games in Kiev, but a big problem looms of the horizon. Sources in the Ukrainian government are telling reporters that the day power was cut to Crimea, Russia halted coal deliveries. After losing coal production in Donbass, Ukraine now relies on Russian supplies to run most of its electrical power plants. Based on earlier the statements by Ukraine's Power and Coal Industry Minister, the country's supply of coal may not last one week.

Russia Expands Expeditionary Force in Syria

Russia' s original force of 28 combat planes and 16 assault helicopters is soon to be supplemented by another 37 planes. This number will include another 8 Su-34s and 4 Su-27SMs, as well as two dozen strategic bombers operating from bases in Russia. The heavy bomber force will consist of 12 Tu-22M3, 8 Tu-95MS and 4 Tu-160. Essentially, Russia is deploying to Syria every type of combat plane in its arsenal (MiG-31BMs are believed to be flying recon missions over Syria).

During the past day Russian combat planes flew 127 sorties striking 266 targets and completely destroying 140 of them. For the first time, the air campaign included Russia's strategic bombers that were used to deploy guided and unguided munitions, including 34 cruise missiles.

Also, for the first time Russia conducted combat launches of the Caliber cruise missiles from a submarine in the Mediterranean. Putin said the missile cruiser Moscow currently deployed in the Mediterranean will be used to co-ordinate joint operations with the French Air Force.

Guided missile cruiser "Moscow" of Russia's Black Sea Fleet

Paris Carnage

With over a hundred and forty casualties of the terrorist attacks in Paris, the world impatiently awaits the next masterpiece from the talented editorial staff at Charlie Hebdo...

Metrojet Flight 9268: Most Likely Cause of Crash

US defense officials said an American infrared satellite detected a heat flash at the time and place of Metrojet Flight 9268 crash. The type of the satellite was not mentioned, making it difficult to estimate the range of physical parameters of the explosion the satellite could have detected. Nevertheless, this new information eliminates surface-to-air missile theory. Some of the early reports published by TASS quoted an unnamed Russian crash investigator talking about the located wing fragments with signs of extreme thermal damage consistent with burning aviation fuel.

A small bomb in the luggage compartment can cause rapid decompression of the fuselage with it consequent disintegration. However, a bomb like that is unlikely to detonate the fuel tanks or to release enough energy outside the aircraft to be picked up from space. The most likely theory, thus, is fuel tank explosion due to technical malfunction. At least three FAA Airworthiness Directives released between 2006 and 2009 for this type of aircraft required removal of ignition sources inside the fuel tanks "to prevent the potential of ignition sources inside fuel tanks, which, in combination with flammable fuel vapors, could result in a fuel tank explosion and consequent loss of the airplane"

Stupid Journalists and You

Christian Today reports that Russia has developed a "terrifying new device", a "ray gun that can blind enemies." The Grach optical jammer uses high-intensity computer-targeted light emitters to suppress night vision and other optical sensors. It does not blind humans. It is, essentially, a really powerful movie projector with fancy laser-assisted targeting.

This is one of those cases where a journalist's - Andre Mitchell's - desire to publish a sensationalist expose overreached his IQ. The US Navy has been operating similar systems for years, so no sensation there. Sorry.

"Grach" optical counter-measure system.

The New York Times reports on suspicious Russian Navy activity in the vicinity of underwater communication cables running at the bottom of the Atlantic. This particular reporter is complaining about "concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of tension or conflict." Well, duh, the Russians would have to be complete fucking morons not to be planning something like that in case of a war with the States. There's another piece of non-news for you.

Additionally, the reporters - Dave Sange and Eric Schmitt - got their centuries mixed up: "Undersea cables tend to follow the similar path since they were laid in the 1860s”. They're obviously talking about the telegraph cables laid in the nineteenth century that have nothing to do with coax cables laid in the 1960s. Perhaps an occasional visit to Wikipedia would raise the bar a bit for NYT writers.

The "Yantar" ("Amber") oceanographic vessel belonging to the Russian Ministry of Defence. Is this a spy ship as well? Yes, it is a multi-purpose research vessel...