NATO officials confirmed that Russian military vehicles and armor columns have again entered Ukraine. Vehicles ranging from tanks, artillery transport vehicles and armored personnel carriers were seen crossing the Ukrainian southeastern border. The nature of the crossing appears to be to twofold, with Russia actively seeking to reinforce pro-Russia rebels inhabiting Donetsk on one hand, and to collect the bodies of fallen Russian soldiers on the other.
NATO officials have unsurprisingly criticized the move, which they suspect has been made in order to prepare for a renewed round of violence between the Ukrainian military and the current inhabitants of Donetsk. Technically, a truce between the two sides still remains, though artillery exchanges are already commonplace, and casualities have been taken on both sides, bringing the total to over 4,000.
Russian personnel carriers carrying the label of “Cargo 200” have been spotted traveling from Russia to Ukraine. Cargo 200 is Russian military code for soldiers killed in action, and suggests that Russian soldiers have not only served in an advisory capacity to rebel groups, but also provided support in confronting Ukrainian military. The vehicles were likely dispatched in order to provide deceased Russian soldiers with burial according to Russian military protocols.
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The Iranian province of Khorassan Razavi has completed a deal with Tajikistan to increase economic cooperation with the country through a number of joint business efforts. The deal, which was brokered by Rashidian through the Iranian chamber of commerce, will extend to ten specific industries shared by the two Persian speaking nations. Tajik-Iranian cooperation has increased since Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came into office, though some of the talk surrounding cooperation seems to be more of a charm offensive conducted in light of the countries’ shared cultural and linguistic heritage.
The United Nations Security Council is holding an emergency session on the increased Russian troop presence in Ukraine after renewed fears were rekindled of a full scale conflict in the eastern part of the country. Despite a cease-fire that has been in place tentatively since September 5, rebel stronghold of Donetsk has seen heavy shelling in recent weeks and continues in violation of that pact.
An Armenian helicopter has been shot down by Azerbaijani forces in the Nagorno Karabakh region, the zone has been disputed since the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended in 1994. The past three months have been marked by an uptick in hostilities, particularly in July, when almost 14 Azerbaijani soldiers died, making this crash the most significant military incident along the border in a very long time. Azerbaijan considers Karabakh to be illegally occupied since separatist militias backed by Armenia, seized control of the region in the early 90’s.
Kyrgyzstan and Russia have drafted an agreement on common regional air defense, according to a statement released after a meeting between Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his Kyrgyz counterpart took place yesterday. Thus far, only “guidelines have been identified for building joint efforts to resist challenges and threats in the region of Central Asia.” Shoigu announced he was planning to expand combat capabilities of the Kyrgyz armed forces and in particular, the Russian air base at Kant.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev ordered his government to allocate $3 billion from the National Fund from 2015 to 2017 to hedge government revenues against the falling price of the oil and the collapsing ruble. The National Fund is usually replenished using revenues from oil exports, and currently stands at $76.8 billion on October 31.