Friday, August 22, 2008

Russia says military pullout from Georgia complete

Russia says military pullout from Georgia complete (NSI News Source Info) MOSCOW August 22, 2008: Russia's defense minister said on Friday the military had completed the withdrawal of troops from Georgia as stipulated in a peace deal brokered by the French president last week.
A Russian column of tanks and trucks moves back from Igoeti checkpoint on the highway to Gori A Russian soldier carries a Russian national flag as his unit leaves their position on the Gori-Tbilisi road near the flashpoint city of Gori

A Russian tank and other armored personnel carriers leave Gori The six-point plan to end hostilities requires Russia's troops to pull back to their positions before August 8, but allows its peacekeepers to take "additional security measures" in a buffer zone near breakaway South Ossetia, inside Georgia proper. "The Russian side has fulfilled the agreements set out in the Medvedev-Sarkozy plan drawn up in Moscow," Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said in a report to President Dmitry Medvedev. "The units' withdrawal took place without upsets, and was concluded according to plan at 19:50 Moscow time [15:50 GMT]," he said. The troops have moved back into South Ossetia, and some are already at their bases, he said. The announcement was immediately rejected by Georgia, as well as the U.S. and French leaders. White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters that President George W. Bush and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had discussed the issue over the phone, and agreed that "Russia is not in compliance and that Russia needs to come into compliance now." Russia has come under severe pressure from Western powers since its peace enforcement operation in response to Georgia's ground and air offensive to regain control over South Ossetia, a small province home to around 70,000 people that broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s. Large numbers of civilians died in the Georgian onslaught, although figures still remain unclear, and thousands were forced to flee the province, mainly across the border into Russia. On Tuesday, NATO said it was freezing contacts with Russia until it pulled its troops out of Georgia, and on the same day Western powers submitted a draft United Nations Security Council resolution calling for Russia's immediate withdrawal from Georgia. Russia responded on Wednesday with its own draft Security Council resolution, reiterating the six-point peace plan signed last week by the parties involved, including the stipulation that Russia may take "additional security measures" in Georgia, while omitting any reference to Georgia's territorial integrity. The six points agreed by the Russian and French leaders and repeated in the draft resolution include non-use of force, a definitive end to hostilities, free access to humanitarian aid, and a pullback of Georgian troops to their bases. The remaining points address more controversial issues - the withdrawal of Russian forces to "the line prior to the beginning of hostilities," but only after international mechanisms are set up allowing Russian peacekeepers to "take additional security measures," and also the launch of "an international discussion of lasting security and stability arrangements for South Ossetia and Abkhazia." Russia's president has said the two breakaway regions should be allowed to make their own decisions on their future status.

Nuclear Suppliers Group refuses to approve uranium sales to India

Nuclear Suppliers Group refuses to approve uranium sales to India (NSI News Source Info) NEW DELHI August 22, 2008: The Nuclear Suppliers Group has failed to lift a 34-year-long ban on nuclear trade with India, delaying a U.S.-sponsored deal on civil nuclear cooperation, Indian NDTV reported Friday. After a two-day meeting in Vienna "participating governments exchanged views in a constructive manner and agreed to meet again in the near future to continue their deliberations,'' the group said in a statement on its Web site. The next meeting of the group, currently chaired by Germany, is scheduled for September 4-5. India tested a nuclear weapon in 1974, and the multinational Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), was subsequently founded in 1975 to control nuclear materials proliferation. A nuclear cooperation pact between New Delhi and Washington was agreed last July and would allow India to buy nuclear fuel from the United States, but it needs the approval of the NSG and the U.S. Congress before it can come into effect. The sale of nuclear fuel to India is still forbidden by international regulations because New Delhi has not signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The International Atomic Energy Agency approved on August 1 an agreement with India on safeguards regarding civilian nuclear facilities, allowing New Delhi and the United States to begin the implementation of a civilian nuclear power cooperation treaty.

Georgia....Today's in Pictures

Georgia....Today's in Pictures August 22, 2008 NSI News Source Info Russian snipers reacted to a Georgian demonstration at a checkpoint in Igoeti, a village near Tbilisi, Georgia's capital. Russia gave conflicting signals on Thursday about whether it would withdraw its troops from Georgia by its self-imposed deadline of Friday, while Georgia's president said he saw "very little, if any, movement" of Russian troops from occupied areas. An Abkhazian police officer posed for a picture with a Russian flag after a demonstration in support of Abkhazia's independence in Sukhumi, the enclave's capital. Meanwhile, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, offered some of the strongest indications to date that Russia would recognize the separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Indian Advanced Su-30MKIs Come to USA

Indian Advanced Su-30MKIs Come to USA
(NSI News Source Info) August 22, 2008: American, French and South Korean aircrews are getting a close look at one of the world's fabled aircraft - the Indian air force's Su-30MKI strike fighter. An Indian air force group of 50 pilots and weapon systems officers - flying eight Su-30MKIs, two Il-78 tankers and an Il-76 transport - are just finishing a month-long deployment to the United States with a training cycle at the latest, annual Red Flag aerial combat excercises based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. They were part of a contingent of 246 IAF personnel selected from 20 (fighter) Squadron, Poona; 78 (tanker) Squadron, Agra; 44 (transport) Squadron, Nagpur, and a special operations team trained for combat search and rescue, says Group Captain Dee Choudhry. Of great interest to observers - and no doubt to U.S. intelligence - was the Su-30MKI's Russian-made, long-range radar and AA-12 Adder air-to-air missile capability. In fact, foreign air force officials admit that they suspect that intelligence gathering goes on at an event like Red Flag. India's Su-30MKI aircraft offers an especially attractive target. It carries the Tikhomirov Scientific Research Institute of Instrument Design NIIP-BARS radar that so far has only been seen on the MKI. But it's considered a variant of what NIIP developed for Russia's new Su-35 multi-role aircraft and what it's working on for the next-generation PAK-FA fifth-generation stealth fighter. One long-time military analyst mused to Aviation Week that the event might provide insight, although it was no certainty. "I'll bet your [intelligence] boys hovered up every little squiggly amp from BARS. [Yet] sometimes the [radar's] training mode is just a software package that emulates the radar transmissions, but it's actually not emitting." Indeed, to observers' dismay, and no doubt to that of the U.S. intelligence community, the IAF flew with a number of handicaps, some of them self-imposed, some not. Their powerful Russian-made radar was, in fact, emitting, says Choudhry, but operating only in the training mode which limited all its range and spectrum of capabilities. In addition, the IAF wasn't allowed to use chaff and flares to avoid being targeted by surface-to-air missiles nor did its aircraft have the common data link. CDL brings a flow of targeting information into the cockpit displays that improves the accuracy and speed of data transfer and eliminates the need for most communications. The Indian air crews had to rely on voice communications which slowed the process and limited situational awareness. Despite its limitations, the Su-30MKI's radar was able enough to allow the IAF's Sukhois to participate in a beyond-visual-range fight with U.S. aggressor aircraft carrying simulated AA-10C air-to-air missiles. Because there were so many foreign aircraft capable of offensive counter-air/escort missions (including French Rafales and South Korean F-15Ks), the Sukhois are flying fewer air-to-air missions than Indian team members had hoped, Choudhry says. "It was almost what we expected," Choudhry says. "Because we couldn't use our chaff and flares, when we were targeted by SAMs we were shot down. And there was no picture in the cockpit to help our situational awareness so the workload on the [aircrews] was very high." Nonetheless, "We came a long way. We trained hard. And the degree of difficulty was not unexpected." Photo showing Indian Air Force support conducting post-flight maintenance on an SU-30 Fighter following a Red Flag mission at Nellis Air Force Base on Aug. 13 by USAF Airman 1st Class Ryan Whitney.)

No assurances from Moscow on return of Humvees: Pentagon

No assurances from Moscow on return of Humvees: Pentagon (NSI News Source Info) Washington - Aug 22, 2008: The United States has received no assurances from Russia that it will return US military vehicles seized in Georgia, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday. Russian forces seized "a handful" of Humvees, four-wheeled all-purpose military vehicles, in the Black Sea port of Poti, where they were awaiting shipment out of Georgia after an exercise, spokesman Bryan Whitman said. Whitman said the Humvees were US property and should be returned. "I don't think we have any assurances at this point that they're prepared to do the right thing and return them," he said. According to witnesses, five Humvees with the letters USMC -- the initials of the US Marine Corps -- emblazoned on them were taken by Russian forces. A Russian newspaper said the vehicles contained sophisticated satellite communications gear and they had been flown to Moscow to be examined. Whitman declined to comment on what equipment was on the vehicles.

US troops may quit Iraqi cities from June: US official

US troops may quit Iraqi cities from June: US official (NSI News Source Info) Washington - August 22, 2008: US forces could begin withdrawing from Iraqi cities as early as June under a draft agreement reached between US and Iraqi negotiators, a senior US military official said Thursday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the agreement on the status of US forces in Iraq still awaited final approval. But the official said that under the draft agreement a withdrawal of US forces from Iraqi cities "could be as early as June, conditions permitting." He would not comment directly on reports that it also calls for US combat troops to be out of Iraq by 2011, saying that the two sides negotiated "time horizons" and "general aspirations." "The balance we're trying to reach is between Iraq's stated desire to have a more concrete view of US forces levels out through the years, and our desire it be based on conditions on the ground," the official said. The US military has long hoped to move US forces from the cities into an "overwatch" role coupled with training and advising of Iraqi forces, but that goal has been stymied repeatedly in the past by escalating violence. Over the past year, however, levels of violence have plummeted with the presence of US surge forces, a turnabout in the Sunni insurgency, and subsiding ethnic conflict. US commanders have remained cautious about the durability of the downturn, however. The future role of the US military has been at the center of the months-long negotiations over the status of forces agreement, which has dealt with such thorny issue as who has legal jurisdiction over US troops or civilian contractors. "The United States is comfortable we're going to have the right jurisdiction," said the military official. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in a visit to Baghdad, said the two sides were "very, very close" to a deal. Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, however, went a step farther and said the text of the agreement was ready and the draft would be presented on Friday to the Political Council for National Security, a strategic body of Iraqi leaders. "I don't think there are sticking points any more that they have reached agreement on a draft," the military official said.

Sixth Fleet Deploys Ships in Support of Humanitarian Assistance Mission

Sixth Fleet Deploys Ships in Support of Humanitarian Assistance Mission
(NSI News Source Info) August 22, 2008: From Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs - NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Two U.S. Navy ships and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter are getting underway to transport humanitarian relief supplies to Georgia. These deployments are part of the larger United States response to the government of Georgia request for humanitarian assistance. USS McFaul (DDG 74) departed from Souda Bay, Crete, Aug. 20, and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Dallas (WHEC 716) will leave later this week. McFaul and Dallas are scheduled to transit into the Black Sea and arrive in Georgia within a week. USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) is currently on loading humanitarian relief materials in her homeport of Gaeta, Italy, and will proceed to Georgia later this month.The ships will deliver thousands of blankets, hygiene kits, baby food and infant care supplies to save lives and alleviate human suffering. These surface ships represent the first from the U.S. to participate in the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Georgia. Both McFaul, based in Norfolk and Dallas, based in Charleston, S.C., are on regularly scheduled deployments in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility. For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet, visit

Indian Army Wants to Add Another 1,000 T-90S Tanks by 2020

Indian Army Wants to Add Another 1,000 T-90S Tanks by 2020
(NSI News Source Info) August 22, 2008: India’s main battle tanks had one been relatively advanced by world standards, but long delays in fielding the indigenous “Arjun” MBT, combined with a successful Pakistani/Ukrainian program for its T-80UD “Al-Khalid” tanks, eroded India’s local advantage. The poor performance of T-72s in combat against modern main battle tanks could not have been comforting, either. In early October 2006, India Defence and Indian papers reported that the Indian Army intended to produce nearly 1,000 T90S ‘Bhishma’ main battle tanks in India by 2020. These would be bought in addition to the 310 T90 MBTs already
under contract from Russia. Later that month, news reports noted a follow-on contract for another 330 T-90S tank kits from Russia that would assembled in India. Taken together those 2 firm production agreements reportedly exceed $1 billion. The modernized T-72 now known as the T-90 has reportedly encountered serious problems in Indian service, from issues with its Thales thermal imaging systems, to difficulties in hot weather, to low readiness rates. Meanwhile, negotiations with Russia over technology transfer issues had shelved the 1,000 tank indigenous production goal, leaving only the 2 firm production agreements. The Arjun project has continued to fade, however, with the Indian Army announcing in July 2008 that production would be capped at just 124 tanks. As the final act in the battle for the core of India’s future tank force, recent reports indicate that the Russians have removed their technology transfer roadblocks, clearing the way for fully indigenous T-90S production in India… *The T-90 in India: Directions and Delays *Updates and Key Events
The T-90 in India: Directions and Delays As of December 2006, the 310 T-90S tanks imported from Russia under a February 2001 Rs 3,625 crore (about $795 million) contract are divided between the first lot of 124 T-90S tanks bought off-the-shelf, and 186 imported in knocked-down condition for assembly at the Heavy Vehicles Factory at Avadi. The goal was to begin progressive manufacture of the follow-on batch of 1,000 from 2007-2008 onward, working under the license production agreement associated with India’s 2001 order. The idea was to build upon and broaden India’s indigenous capabilities as the process moved forward. The purchase of 330 more ready-for-assembly T-90 kits later in October 2006 would appear to be a deviation from this strategy, but as of August 2008, production of the fully localized Indian tanks has not even begun yet at the Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory. Jane’s believed that the order for the 330 sets of T-90S components was driven by chronic delays in the production schedule of the domestic Arjun MBT, and multi-year delays in T-72 modernization due to bureaucratic vacillation. This turned out to be partly correct; as DID has reported before, those are chronic problems in India’s defense market. It seems that there was also a problem with full Russian technology transfer, however, which held up production at Avadi. Confirmation of the T-90’s status as India’s future tank has also faced operational difficulties, including the in-service difficulties noted by an October 2007 MosNews’ report. These include repeated heat-related malfunctions of the fire-control system’s key Thales Catherine thermal imaging (TI) camera, lack of cooling systems leading to uninhabitable temperatures over 60C degrees (over 140F) inside the tank, and reports that at least one armored regiment had an in-service rate of just 25% for its T-90s. The T-72s’ “Project Rhino” may eventually get started as well under the Army’s 2020 plans, adding reactive armor, electronics, sights, et. al. in collaboration with Israel, Poland and Russia. Persistent reports that many Indian T-72s lack effective IR-imagine equipment would appear to make such upgrades a priority item, but as Bharat-Rakshak notes, progress has been very slow.
Updates and Key Events (T-90 Tank)
Aug 20/08: At the 8th meeting of the Indo-Russian working group on shipbuilding, aviation and land systems, Russia agreed to full product support for indigenous production of T-90S tanks, including the urgent requirement of specification of T-90 gun barrels Those specifications will reportedly be delivered by December 2008, clearing the way for full T-90S production in India. The meeting also finalized indigenization requirements for the Russian AT-14 Konkur missile systems and a computerised advanced information system for India’s new range of P-17 warships, while discussing more contentious issues like the Gorshkov carrier contract and the FGFA “5th generation fighter aircraft” joint project. July 7/08: India’s army decides to cap production of the Arjun tank at just 124 vehicles. T-90 tanks will be the mainstay of India’s future tank force instead at 1,657 vehicles planned, despite ongoing issues with operations in hot weather. This overall plan changes the force structure proposed in 2006, from 3,780 tanks (1,302 T-90s and 2,480 T-72s) to 2,473 higher-end tanks (1,657 T-90 Bhishma, 124 Arjun tanks, and 692 upgraded T-72M1 Ajeya) Read “India Plans to Cap Arjun Tank Production” for more. Aug 29/07: India’s MoD issues a press release: “Heavy Vehicles Factory has so far supplied 181 T-90 tanks to Army. No technical problems viz barrel bursting has been observed in T90 tanks. The problem of barrel bursting was noticed earlier in T-72 tank. The bursting of barrel in T-72 tanks occurred in barrels of Russian origin as well as of Indian origin. The problem was analysed in consultation with Russian experts and remedial action towards modifying the chemistry of material has been taken. This information was given by the Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh in a written reply to Shri A Krishna Swamy and Shri Kuldeep Bishnoi in Lok Sabha today.” May 16/07: Frontier India reports that India’s T-90S tanks continue to have problems with their torsion bar suspensions. Note that the swastika was used in India for many centuries before the Germans ever got hold of it; it has a rather different meaning (“sun”) there. Oct 27/06: A MosNews article “India Buys 330 Russian Tanks” reports that India is buying another 330 T-90s in kit condition, for final assembly in India. It adds that deliveries of the initial 124 T-90S tanks under the previous 310 vehicle order: ”...began in December 2002 and were completed within 12-14 months, while another 180 MBTs have since been assembled at Avadi and the first part of the order is nearing completion. The T-90S tanks have been inducted into six armored regiments in northern and central India.” Oct 4/06: India Defence: ”...the Indian Army is to acquire nearly 1000 locally produced T90S Bhishma MBT’s by the year 2020, in addition to the 310 T90 MBT’s procured from Russia. The Times of India Reports: The Army gameplan is to have 21 regiments of T-90S ‘Bhishma’ tanks and 40 regiments of upgraded T-72 M1 ‘Ajeya’ tanks by 2020 since the “speed and shock effect” of mechanised forces will continue to play a decisive role in future wars, say sources. An armoured regiment typically has 45 tanks, along with another 17 for training purposes, war reserves and replacements. So, the 1.13-million Army intends to face future armoured battles with a mix of around 3,800 T-90S and T-72 tanks.”

UK: Firing for the Future - MoD Signs £2bn Ammunition Partnership

UK: Firing for the Future - MoD Signs £2bn Ammunition Partnership (NSI News Source Info) August 22, 2008: A new £2 billion 15-year partnering agreement between the MOD and BAE Systems Land Systems Munitions guaranteeing the future supply of the Armed Forces' small arms and medium calibre ammunition was signed today. The new agreement with BAE Systems LSM covers around 80 per cent of the munitions used by the Armed Forces on operations and training and includes small arms and medium-calibre ammunition, mortar bombs, tank, artillery and naval gun shells but not complex weapons such as guided missiles. Minister for Armed Forces, Bob Ainsworth, said: "Today's partnering agreement secures the long-term supply of ammunitions to our Armed Forces. The fifteen year programme will ensure that the UK has a modernised, sustainable munitions industry which will support British jobs and protect our capacity to produce ammunition. It is absolutely essential to the conduct of operations and training that we have a guaranteed UK-based high-quality source of ammunition. This contract provides precisely that." MOD Defence Equipment and Support Director General Weapons, Rear Admiral Amjad Hussain, said: "We are very pleased with this agreement. It demonstrates the way we work with industry and the Armed Forces to ensure we deliver the capabilities the front line needs." BAES LSM has factories at Glascoed, South Wales; Radway Green, Crewe; and Birtley, Co Durham. BACKGROUND NOTES: 1. The MoD has signed a 15-year contractual Partnering Agreement with BAE Systems Land Systems Munitions (BAES LSM), known as MASS - Munitions Acquisition Supply Solution, to support the procurement of general munitions for British armed forces. 2. The Partnering Agreement will help to secure a modernised, munitions manufacturing capability in the UK. With the flexibility and engineering capability required to ensure continuity of munitions supply and operational sovereignty in the future. 3. BAES LSM have factories at Glascoed, South Wales; Radway Green, Crewe; and Birtley, Co Durham. During the current period of high front-line demand, the company has stepped up production and are providing up to one million rounds of small arms ammunition from their manufacturing facility at Radway Green, Crewe. 4. BAES LSM will be undertaking a programme of investment at the three sites: -- Birtley: A £28m investment will focus on new buildings housing a new forge, machining centre, and heat and surface treatment plants for 155 and 105mm artillery ammunition. The modernisation is planned to be completed by 2011. --. Glascoed: A £34m investment will result in new x-ray equipment, a medium-calibre assembly area, insensitive munitions mortar filling plant and new infrastructure such as bulk magazines, an engineering centre for co-location of staff and a new steam generation and distribution system which will be twice as efficient as the existing plant. -- Radway Green: A £40m investment in new buildings and equipment, primarily to increase capacity by 50 per cent. New buildings will be in place in early 2012.

U.S. Marine conduct patrol in Afghanistan.

U.S. Marine conduct patrol in Afghanistan. August 22, 2008 NSI News Source Info U.S. Marine conduct a dismounted patrol through the village outside of the forward operating base in the Bala Baluk District, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on July 25, 2008.

U.S. Hawks Tanks to Iraq in Deal Worth $2B

U.S. Hawks Tanks to Iraq in Deal Worth $2B (NSI News Source Info) 22 August, 2008: BESMAYA COMBAT TRAINING CENTER, Iraq - The Iraqi general grabbed the hull of America's No. 1 battle tank and gave it a shake. "It's very hot," said Gen. Mohan al-Furayji, the Iraqi defense minister's top military adviser. "I'm afraid my soldiers won't be able to operate behind these tanks." His concerns threatened to derail an arms deal worth as much $2.16 billion. That alarmed Brig. Gen. Charles Luckey, who, on this sweltering day in the desert, was a salesman of sorts. You could even say he is the U.S. military's senior used tank salesman. Luckey is the U.S. officer in charge of foreign military sales to Iraq. It's his job to move the merchandise. "For as little as $300, you can get a blast deflector to deal with the heat," Luckey said. "I might even throw them in for free for you." Iraq is fast becoming one of the U.S.'s top customers for military sales. Since January 2007, Iraq has spent $3.1 billion on U.S. weapons. That number looks likely to grow exponentially as Iraq uses its vast unspent reserves of petrodollars to grow its army into a force capable of defending its borders against hostile neighbors. In the past two months alone, the Pentagon has alerted Congress of a possible $8.7 billion in additional military sales to Iraq, for everything from lightweight attack helicopters to armored ambulances to binoculars. Here in the Iraqi desert 35 miles east of Baghdad, the latest deal was going down. Iraq's Ministry of Defense is aiming to upgrade its tank fleet, which is composed largely of run-down Soviet tanks from the 1970s. It is considering buying 140 of the U.S.'s most advanced tanks, at approximately $4 million to $5 million per tank, plus hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of support equipment to go along with the tanks. Feting one of its biggest customers, the U.S. arranged for a tank platoon to put on a demonstration of the vehicles' capabilities last week for senior Iraqi generals. With the generals watching from a tower, a pair of M1 Abrams tanks shot forward from their "hide" position a kilometer away and tore toward the watchtower at 45 mph, kicking up plumes of dust in their wake. They buzzed either side of the tower, then let their mighty guns roar with deafening booms, sending a half-dozen high-explosive 120mm rounds downrange toward an imaginary enemy. When the tanks pulled to a stop, the generals came down for a closer inspection. "The American tanks are very modern and capable, but we still don't know if this tank is in the best interests of the Iraqi army," said al-Furayji, like a shopper in a Baghdad bazaar feigning disinterest to get a better price. The delegation of U.S. and Iraqi generals, now playing salesmen and customers, climbed atop the tank. Al-Furayji and his aides peered down the hatch into the tank's nerve center, where the crew of four operates. Traveling 45 mph, carrying 17 rounds of 120mm ammunition that can hit a dime in the dead of night at 3,000 meters thanks to a laser range-finder and thermal-imaging night sights, the M1A1 Abrams tank is "the most battle-proven tank in the world," said Lt. Col. Tim Renshaw. The Iraqi officers on hand included some of the Iraqi army's most senior commanders of armored forces. They've experienced this tank's lethal capabilities firsthand. In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, their older Russian tanks were blinded by the thick black smoke that billowed from Kuwait's oil wells after Saddam Hussein ordered them set ablaze. The American tank's superior thermal imaging system allowed them to see perfectly, and easily crush their enemy. For Luckey, it makes an effective sales pitch. "That's why you guys got your [butts] kicked," he told the Iraqi generals before they flew back to Baghdad to consult with their bosses on the sale's pros and cons.

Russia's Mirazh corvette returns to Sevastopol naval base

Russia's Mirazh corvette returns to Sevastopol naval base (NSI News Source Info) SEVASTOPOL - August 22, 2008: Russia's Mirazh guided missile corvette returned Friday to its Black Sea Fleet base at Sevastopol, which Russia rents from Ukraine, after patrolling waters off the Georgian coast. The Mirazh, part of the country's Black Sea Fleet, was recently involved in Russia's "peace enforcement" operation which began after Georgia launched an offensive in breakaway South Ossetia on August 8. Reportedly, it was the Mirazh, which sank a Georgian vessel during an attempted attack on Russian ships near Abkhazia's coast last week. The vessel was greeted by crowds of people waving Russian flags and fireworks, while a group of students from western Ukraine held banners, which read "Shame" and "Out of here!" Meanwhile, a high ranking source in the Turkish Naval Forces said that two NATO frigates carrying humanitarian aid for Georgia had entered Black Sea waters. Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko signed a decree last Wednesday requiring prior notification from Russia of all movements by naval vessels and aircraft from the country's Black Sea Fleet base in Ukraine's Crimea. Ukraine even threatened to refuse Russian vessels entry to the Sevastopol naval base. Russia's Black Sea Fleet uses the Sevastopol base under agreements signed in 1997. Yushchenko announced earlier this year that Ukraine would not extend the lease beyond 2017.