BBC World News - Global News /August 28, 2018

World & Canadian News

  • Russia war games

  • ‘Bee Canada’ recognition


In the World...

Russia war games: Biggest since Cold War 'justified'

BBC World News/August 28, 2018

Russia plans to hold massive war games involving 300,000 personnel next month - its biggest military manoeuvres since a Cold War drill in 1981.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Vostok-2018 drills were justified given "aggressive and unfriendly" attitudes towards his country. Units from China and Mongolia will also take part in the exercises at military ranges in central and eastern Russia.

The manoeuvres come at a time of rising tension between Nato and Russia.

What will take place in the drills?

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said 36,000 tanks, armoured personnel carriers and armoured infantry vehicles would take part in Vostok-2018, from 11 to 15 September, along with more than 1,000 aircraft. Vostok is Russian for east.

All of Russia's airborne units and two of its naval fleets will also take part in the drills across Siberia and the Russian Far East.

Mr Shoigu compared the Vostok-2018 exercises to Soviet manoeuvres in 1981, which involved a pretend attack on Nato. He said: "In some ways they will repeat aspects of Zapad-81, but in other ways the scale will be bigger."

Mr Peskov said the involvement of Chinese units showed Russia and Beijing were co-operating in all areas. The scale of Vostok-2018 is equivalent to the forces deployed in one of the big World War Two battles. A smaller-scale Russia-Belarus exercise was held in western regions last year.

President Vladimir Putin has made military modernisation - including new nuclear missiles - a priority.

Russia's armed forces are reckoned to have about one million personnel in total.

How and why will China be involved?

The Chinese defence ministry put out a fairly dry statement talking of deepening military co-operation and "enhancing both sides' capabilities to jointly respond to various security threats".

But it did say the exercises would "not target any third party".

The ministry also confirmed the extent of the Chinese involvement - "3,200 troops, more than 900 pieces of military hardware as well as 30 fixed-wing aircrafts and helicopters" - and confirmed the location - the Tsugol training range in Russia's Trans-Baikal region. Some of the forces have already arrived.

Details of the Mongolian involvement are unclear.

Giant exercise, giant bill
Analysis by the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow

The scale and scope of Vostok-2018 is unprecedented for modern Russia, but no surprise. The giant drill is clearly meant as a show of strength by Vladimir Putin and his military, a demonstration that - despite Western sanctions, including against the defence sector - the country remains defiant.

It's also a reminder that while Russia is seen as a hostile and aggressive force in the West, Moscow has long seen Nato encroachment as the threat. President Putin's spokesman argued that Vostok was essential, in what he called a "very aggressive and unfriendly" international context.

It's how he defended the presumably giant bill for such a giant event, too, at a time when Russians are protesting furiously against a reform of the pension system they're told is critical, because social spending is unsustainable as it stands.

What has Nato said?

Spokesman Dylan White said Nato was briefed on Vostok-2018 in May and would monitor it.

He said the organisation was considering a Russian offer to allow Nato military attachés based in Moscow to be sent to observe the drills.

He said in a statement: "All nations have the right to exercise their armed forces, but it is essential that this is done in a transparent and predictable manner."

He added: "Vostok demonstrates Russia's focus on exercising large-scale conflict. It fits into a pattern we have seen over some time: a more assertive Russia, significantly increasing its defence budget and its military presence."

Why is Russia-Nato tension high?

It has been increasing since Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backed pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. Nato has reacted with an increased deployment of forces in eastern Europe, sending 4,000 troops to member nations. Russia says the Nato build-up is unjustified and provocative.

The poisoning of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in southern England in March did not help relations, with Nato expelling Russian diplomats. The UK and the US - both Nato members - say Moscow was behind the attack, although Russia denies it.

President Putin again traded barbs with Nato last week over the alliance's assets near the Russian border.

Last week, fighter jets of the UK's RAF in Romania were scrambled on two occasions to intercept Russian military aircraft seen heading towards Nato airspace from Crimea.

And in Canada...

Greenwood United Church becomes first faith group to receive ‘Bee Canada’ recognition

By Steve Guthrie/Global News/August 28, 2018

Bee City Canada encourages cities, towns, First Nations, schools, businesses and other organizations to take action to protect pollinators. Greenwood United Church in Peterborough is the first faith community to be recognized by Bee City Canada.

“The nice thing about having a community at Greenwood is it’s much like a hive; we work together as a team, we learn from each other, we share the benefits of the honey,” says Tom Childs, the head beekeeper.

Greenwood United Church was born of the union of Donwood, and St Margaret’s churches. As the congregation evolved, they wanted to go in new directions

“The ball diamond hasn’t been used in 20 years, as the demographic changed in this area, and we’re converting it into a pollinator garden so we are into year No. 2 of trying to re-landscape - planting bushes, flowers, to feed the bees,” says congregation member Brian Nichols.

“Churches will agree the environment and stewardship of the planet is an important part of the mission and vision as a Christian community or any religious community so this is very important and this is a demonstrative part of that vision,” says Tom Childs.


Boy, 16, charged in shooting of German tourist

By John Gibson/CBC News/August 28, 2018

Police say shooting was a life-changing event for the 60-year-old victim

RCMP in Alberta have arrested a 16-year-old boy and charged him with attempted murder and possession of a prohibited weapon in the shooting of a German tourist west of Calgary earlier this month.

The 60-year-old victim, identified in court documents as Horst Stewin, was driving east on Highway 1A on Aug. 2 with his wife, son and son's girlfriend when he was shot in the head near the Morley rodeo grounds, about 55 kilometres west of Calgary.

The Dodge Durango he was driving veered off the roadway and crashed into a tree. The three other people in the vehicle suffered minor injuries and the injured man was flown to hospital in Calgary by STARS Air Ambulance.

The teen was taken into custody without incident on Aug. 24 on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, said RCMP Cpl. Curtis Peters at a news conference on Tuesday.

The RCMP Serious Crimes Branch laid 14 charges against the teen, whose name cannot be released as per the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

"This investigation has been progressed by what I could call good old-fashioned police work," said Peters.

The charges against the teen include:

  • Attempted murder.
  • Uttering threats.
  • Criminal negligence causing bodily harm.
  • Assault with a weapon.
  • Aggravated assault.
  • Possession of stolen property under $5,000.
  • The teen also faces eight gun-related charges that include unauthorized possession of a firearm and careless use of a weapon.

Court appearance

On Tuesday afternoon, the 16-year-old was brought into the Cochrane courtroom in a blue sweatsuit and sat on a bench looking at the floor as his mother sat in the gallery with tears in her eyes.

The two waved at each other as he was taken back into custody by sheriffs after the brief appearance.

Defence lawyer Alain Hepner told provincial court Judge G.W. Paul he has not yet received disclosure from the assigned prosecutor and the matter was put over to next week.

"I don't want to give you the rhetoric that you get so often, but I really don't have facts. I have allegations and I have information, which means charges," said Hepner.

"So I know what the allegations are, I don't have police reports, I don't have witness statements, I don't have a synopsis or a summary of what occurred. I interviewed the boy and I know a little bit about his background, but it's far too serious to jump into a bail hearing right now."

Hepner said his client is "very emotional" but he's not sure the boy realizes what he's facing.

"I don't think he understands the scope of what's going on. He's 16 years old, I just don't think he has a full comprehension of the court process and just how serious this is," said Hepner.

Bullet removed from head

Earlier on Tuesday, Peters said no further information will be released about a possible motive for the shooting. He did confirm that the suspect and Stewin were not known to each other.

RCMP have said previously that the victim was shot from the passenger side of a vehicle being driven on the same highway. Peters said on Tuesday that a vehicle believed to have been involved in the shooting has been seized along with a firearm.

He said the suspect was not the sole occupant of the vehicle, but that there are no other suspects.

Doctors in Calgary were not able to safely remove the bullet from Stewin's head. After nearly two weeks in hospital, he was flown to Germany, where doctors have since successfully removed the bullet.

It will be brought back to Canada to see if it's a forensic match with the firearm recovered by RCMP.

"He has a very long road of recovery ahead of him," Peters said. "This has been a life-changing event for him."

Earlier arrest

Stewin's family expressed gratitude to the investigative team for their work in finding and charging a suspect, Peters said.

RCMP initially thought the shooting was a case of road rage, but later said they believe it may have been a case of mistaken identity.

Police detained a man in Cochrane, Alta., one day after the shooting and seized a black Chrysler Sebring from the same residence.

That man was released without charges.