Moscow: A US proposal to send more NATO ships to the Black Sea to ensure safe passage for Ukrainian vessels and deter Russia is viewed “negatively” in Moscow, the Kremlin said Wednesday. Washington has been working on a package to boost surveillance and deploy more NATO vessels to the Black Sea after a naval confrontation between Moscow and Kiev last year, the US ambassador to NATO said. The measure was expected to be discussed during talks by NATO foreign ministers in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday. Also Read – Saudi Crown Prince ‘snubbed’ Pak PM, recalled jet from USRussian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin viewed such a proposal “negatively”. “We do not understand what they mean by this. The situation with the Kerch Straight and navigation there is well known,” he told reporters. Russian deputy foreign minister Alexander Grushko told Russian news agencies the plan would only lead to “increased military risks” in the region. “If additional military and technical measures are needed from our side, we will adopt them,” Interfax news agency quoted Grushko as saying. Also Read – Record number of 35 candidates in fray for SL Presidential pollsMost alliance members share concerns about Russia which backs separatists in a smouldering conflict in eastern Ukraine that has so far claimed some 13,000 lives. In November, Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian navy vessels, capturing two dozen sailors near the Kerch Strait, as they tried to pass from the Black Sea to the Azov Sea. It was the first open military clash between Kiev and Moscow since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and a pro-Russian insurgency erupted in eastern Ukraine. “We are going to make sure that we have the capability to deter a very aggressive Russia,” US ambassador to NATO Kay Bailey Hutchison told reporters on Tuesday. She said the US package was designed “to assure that there is a safe passage for Ukrainian vessels through the Kerch Strait.” Observers say that an increased NATO presence in the region is one of Russia’s worst nightmares. Putin has openly said that Moscow’s decision to take over Crimea was partly motivated by NATO’s expansion into Eastern Europe. Peskov did not say Wednesday whether Russia would in fact allow NATO ships to pass through the Azov Sea. “A decision will be made when there is such a request,” the Kremlin spokesman said. The West has accused Moscow of illegally blocking access to the Sea of Azov, used by both Russia and Ukraine. A NATO spokesman declined to comment on the US ambassador’s remarks but pointed to comments by Stoltenberg on Monday when he outlined plans to increase the alliance presence in the Black Sea. Stoltenberg said NATO would step up port visits as well as exercises and training with Ukraine and Georgia.
2019 Cadillac XT4 Gallery Cadillac is estimating 30 mpg on that highway, too – in no small part down to cylinder deactivation – as well as 25 mpg in the city and 27 mpg combined, though final figures won’t be confirmed until the car’s closer to launch. Strut-type front suspension and five-link independent rear suspension are used, with a twin-clutch all-wheel-drive system an option. That can be switched manually into a front-wheel drive setup for economy if desired. Driver Select Mode has carried over from Cadillac’s other cars, and there’s the option of Active Sport Suspension with Continuous Damping Control on the XT4 Sport. That uses sensors to track the motion of the road and adjust the dampers every 2 milliseconds. Electro-hydraulic braking assistance makes its debut on a Cadillac on the XT4 too, with the upside being improvements in fuel economy and a reduction in size. Inside, some of the cues from the XT5 are evident, with sweeping lines across a tapering dashboard. There’s a three-spoke leather wrapped steering wheel as standard, along with “sport-inspired” seats that have extra bolster support and optional massage. Ambient white lighting is available, and with the rear seats dropped there’s up to 48.9 cubic feet of trunk space. Three different trims will be offered: the 2019 XT4 Luxury, XT4 Premium Luxury, and XT4 Sport. All will use Cadillac’s newest infotainment system, with voice control, optional 4G LTE with WiFi, and a new rotary controller that joins – rather than supplants – the 8-inch touchscreen. NFC has been added to making pairing smartphones easier, and there’s a new 15W wireless charging pad that supports Qi and PMA standards. Four USB ports and three 12V accessory ports are included as standard. Add navigation, and there’s an SD card reader added, too. A second-gen rear camera mirror is optional, and there’s surround vision and other active safety tech available as well. Dual zone automatic climate control is standard across the range, together with rear parking assistance, 18-inch alloy wheels, adaptive remote start, and Cadillac’s Teen Driver feature. Up to 20-inch wheels, a Bose audio system, and driver assistance are all available as options. While the new 2019 XT4 may be a big deal in Cadillac terms, it’s actually just the start of what looks set to be a big reinvention of the automaker’s range for the next few years. Indeed, Caddy says that it plans to launch a new car almost every six months from now until 2021. Before that, the 2019 Cadillac XT4 will show up in dealerships from fall 2018. Preorders will kick off from the end of this month, priced from $35,790 plus delivery. On the outside that means a new design penned by a younger team within Cadillac. The brand’s familiar, sharp crease lines are present and correct, joined by LED lights front and rear including the distinctive L-shaped signature lamps. They’re stretched horizontally, however, helping to emphasize the width of the SUV. Under the hood there’s a new 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine, paired with a nine-speed transmission. It’s good for 237 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, with Cadillac particularly proud of the “nearly flat” torque curve that adds up to more responsiveness whether you’re at city speeds or overtaking on the highway. Cadillac has taken the wraps off its smallest SUV, with the 2019 Cadillac XC4 making its debut in New York. The smaller sibling to the Escalade and XT5, the XT4 crossover aims to bring some of the presence – and American luxury – of its bigger siblings into the compact SUV segment.