Night Watch

North Korea: On 10 May, North Korea warned it will respond mercilessly to all South Korean and U.S. provocations related to its recent artillery and missile firing exercises.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official outlet of the Korea Workers' Party, published an article that argued once again that North Korea's military exercises are legitimate preparations to defend itself from outside aggression.

It said any moves to challenge such rights can only be seen as moves to crush the country. "Any such provocations will be dealt with in a ruthless and strong manner," the paper said. It did not rule out the use of nuclear weapons as part of its retaliatory action.

The paper then said that the concerns expressed by Seoul and Washington about another nuclear test are intended to weaken Pyongyang's sovereignty and right to defend itself.

The Rodong Sinmun then made it clear the country advocates a policy to strike back with whatever is used against it, whether the weapon is a missile or a nuclear weapon, and added it would not be strange if North Korean policymakers took the measures being mentioned by the country's enemies (i.e., conducted a nuclear test).

On 9 May, a Japan-based pro-North Korean paper published a more strident threat. "Unless the U.S.' war agitation is put on hold, the North will conduct a variety of exercises aimed at utilizing diversified nuclear deterrence measures…." The newspaper also referred to the threat last March to conduct an additional nuclear test.

Comment: The North is trying to keep the focus of international attention on itself by continuing its elevated and crude propaganda. In fact both Ukraine and Nigeria have proven more interesting to most media than the typical North Korean rants. As usual, the North has committed to do nothing in both articles. Its threats are conditioned on US behavior.

What appears to be aggravating the North's strategists is that the US is refusing participate in what North Korea is calling the disarmament-for-aid talks. The US insists that before a new round of talks is held, the North must honor its promises from the last round, which included making a start to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. The North insists that it will not be bound by its past promises. A new round of talks starts without prior baggage, which North Korea labels "pre-conditions."

North Korea consistently has failed to keep its promises, but has never failed to pocket the aid. The North Korean leaders are almost begging for handouts so that talks can resume, but that does not mean they are serious about nuclear disarmament talks. The threats are all talk. Another nuclear test assures there will be no more handouts.

South Korean authorities judge that satellite imagery shows North Korea probably has completed preparations for a nuclear detonation. US analysts say the same imagery shows they are not ready. The North probably missed its opportunity to make a statement of defiance when it did not detonate anything during President Obama's visit. A detonation now would backfire against the North because the international focus has shifted to cover more compelling issues.

Eastern Ukraine: Late on 11 May, Pro-Russia leaders in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts reported large voter turnouts during the so-called "independence" referendum. Western news outlets have concentrated on the disruptions, lack of verification processes, confusion because of a shortage of polling places and alleged incidents of fraud.

Russian and some Ukrainian outlets have reported long lines at polling places and a heavy turnout. Both sides have reported on clashes that each blamed on the other.

In reconstructing the sequence of security-related events, NightWatch judges that the Kyiv regime's operations to use force to prevent the referendum began in the evening of 9 May. That is when encounters first began to be reported in eastern Ukraine.

By the morning of 11 May, the locations experiencing the heaviest Kyiv regime pressure were Mariupol on the southeast coast and towns on the northern routes into Donetsk, particularly Krasnoarmiysk. The Donetsk regime confirmed that forces loyal to the Kyiv regime seized the town council and police department in Krasnoarmiysk.

"The Dnipro-2 battalion arrived in security vans and seized the town council building and the town police department. However, citizens had time to hide the ballot papers, and they did not manage to destroy them." The referendum organizers closed all polling stations.

A local blogger reported that armed troops had entered Krasnoarmiysk in the Donetsk Oblast and were guarding the town council and the town police department. It said that the soldiers were from the 93rd Dnipropetrovsk Mechanized Brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine.

Members of the National Guard reportedly seized ballot papers and electoral rolls. They also reportedly fired into a crowd of protestors. One person died on the spot. A wounded man was driven away in a private car, but died on the way to hospital. A third person was wounded.

In Mariupol, also in Donetsk Oblast, unknown persons kidnapped the police chief and killed several policemen in clashes on 9 May, according to Kyiv regime Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. This report has not been confirmed by other sources.

Comment: Considering how long it takes the UN and other international agencies to prepare for elections and referenda, the eastern Ukrainians did remarkably well in staging the referendum. The West reported "chaos"; that the referendum was illegitimate and lacked credibility; and implied it failed.

Eastern authorities claimed turnouts between 60 and 70% of the voters. During this Watch, they announced that 90% voted for independence in both Luhansk and Donetsk.

There is no way to confirm these claims and no point in trying. The referendum has fundamentally changed the situation in Ukraine and cannot be dismissed by Western political, media and diplomatic tut-tutting. Kyiv's ham-fisted and ineffective "anti-terror operations" angered voters and aided the independence vote.

Now those operations will be against people who voted to be independent. This vote will change the nature of the confrontations from clashes to firefights. One of the leaders in Donetsk, Pushilin, said that the vote means Donetsk must set up government bodies and create its own armed forces. A new regime would claim the authority to request and invite Russian military assistance to preserve it from Ukrainian and "fascist" aggression.

Other more guarded authorities in Donetsk assured the press that nothing would change immediately based on this referendum. They said its result will be important in sending the message to Kiev that the east demands changes.

As noted several times, neither the eastern Ukrainian leaders nor the Russians seem to be pushing for the region to join the Russian Federation, at least not in public.

Russian reaction: A spokesman for President Putin said the President's next steps depend on the outcome of the referendum.

Eyewitnesses claimed that they saw Russian soldiers moved closer to the Donetsk and Luhansk borders. Some wore UN peacekeepers helmets.

Moldova: On 9 May, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin led a delegation of Russian politicians who attended Victory Day celebrations in Tiraspol in Transdniestria/Transnistria. He received boxes of lists signed by residents as part of a petition calling for Russia to annex the territory. The petition reportedly contains more than 30,000 signatures,

Moldovan secret service personnel boarded Rogozin's aircraft and confiscated the boxes. All NATO members and Ukraine, reportedly at the US request, have closed their airspace to the Russian passenger jet which remains grounded at Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. The delegation returned to Moscow by commercial airline service.

Comment: Rogozin appears to have made Transnistria's admission to the Russian Federation a personal crusade. He has been outspoken in favor of the region's secession from Moldova. His remarks advocating secession during the Victory Day celebrations apparently triggered the commando raid against his aircraft.

He told the press that the next time he travels to Transnistria it will be aboard a Tu-160 - a Russian Blackjack strategic bomber.

End of NightWatch ###

NightWatch is brought to readers of Townhall Finance by Kforce Government Solutions, Inc. (KGS), a leader in government problem-solving, Data Confidence® and intelligence. Views and opinions expressed in NightWatch are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily represent those of KGS, its management, or affiliates.


Night Watch

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