Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
No major developments overnight, but a lot of interesting reports, essays, analyses and OpEds on all current threads involving Russia and Ukraine, China and DPRK.
In Donbass Russian bombardment continues, while Savchenko gets into deep political trouble by saying and doing things the rest of the MPs consider very wrong.
DPRK used VX nerve agent in the assassination, and one of the assassins apparently got poisoned as well – the Japanese experience following the nerve agent attack was that many victims suffered long-term neurological damage.
Graphic below from Russia’s Kommersant Daily is interesting – grey are defense procurements under the 2007-2015 plan, turquoise deliveries between 2007-2011, and orange planned procurements in the 2011-2020 plan, noting that Russia was cashed up until the oil bubble burst.
OPINION | We hope the U.S. realizes that Ukraine is a key strategic partner to America and Europe.
Perhaps the main driver behind the Obama administration’s unwillingness to confront Russia, and its decision to ignore or downplay Russia’s trespasses, is that it wanted Russia’s help with what would become Obama’s signature foreign-policy “achievement,” the Iran deal. And help it got. From billion-dollar anti-missile sales to cooperation in bolstering Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the Russian–Iranian partnership wouldn’t be flourishing the way it is now if it weren’t for the Obama administration. Although several of the deal’s problems are well known, many details about the Iran deal were negotiated secretly, avoiding congressional oversight and public scrutiny, and remain classified to this day. As the president of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright, recently testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, “First, the workings of the deal have been far too secret. Some portions of the parallel or side deals and secret Joint Commission and Procurement Working Group (PWG) decisions and actions have been publicly revealed. Although the Joint Commission decided after Donald Trump won the presidency to release its major decisions, likely feeling increasing pressure to do so, much still remains secret.” Congress repeatedly fought for access to the side deals and annexes related to the Iran deal. Two such prominent officials were Senator Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) and then-Representative Mike Pompeo, who is now the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. — Rebeccah Heinrichs is a fellow at the Hudson Institute. She can be reached on Twitter @RLHeinrichs.
Advice to Trump: Beware of Russian Trolls « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas
Preparation for a U.S.-Russia summit that could happen before the G20 meeting in July is in full swing, Russia’s state-run media report. Even a venue has been discussed: Putin himself had said that his first meeting with Trump could take place in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Ljubljana was the venue of the first meeting between Putin and George W. Bush in 2001. Ljubljana, incidentally, is also where First Lady Melania Trump used to live and study before moving to the U.S. But the euphoria is gone. Little remains of the early dreams that the two former opponents, Russia and the United States, would sweep the ground clean of the legacies of the past and build a new relationship. There is a feeling in Moscow that the moment for a quick turnaround, if it ever existed, has passed.
The right response by the West is to simply call Russia’s bluff. Local leaders love playing one side against the other and milking opportunities, taking cues from Tito’s time-tested rulebook. But when pressed to make a choice, they will opt for Europe and the United States. There is no alternative to robust engagement. The West should not be distracted by the loose talk of a return to the 1990s. Instead, it should take a look at what has gone wrong in the domestic politics of post-Yugoslav states and apply pressure on leaders to take seriously the rule of law, media freedom, and independent civil society. Unfortunately, that is becoming a tall order now that those elements are under threat in established democracies on both sides of the Atlantic.
The political gains of the mainstream parties that have capitalized on anti-refugee anxiety are somewhat questionable. Despite the relentless efforts, Mr. Fico’s party did not score well in the March election. Instead, he succeeded in bringing the anti-immigration rhetoric to the centre of the political campaign and eventually brought more votes to anti-immigration hardliners, such as neo-Nazi LS NS headed by extremist Marian Kotleba that now occupies 14 seats in the Slovak parliament. In other cases, fear-mongering has borne its fruits. The ANO party of Czech oligarch and Finance Minister Andrej Babis, who has been stressing the economic burden of refugees, often through unfounded claims such as that most of the immigrants in Germany are unable to work, has recently won the election in regional councils with 21.05 percent of the popular vote. According to the most recent polls, Mr. Babis is also the most trusted Czech politician. To what extent this popularity can be attributed to his vilification of refugees and xenophobic statements remains a question as other factors contributed to his success too.
Only 51,600 of the more than 470,000 Belarusians – roughly five percent of the country’s population – who have been billed for Minsk’s new vagrants tax have not refused to pay, an indication of just how angry the Belarusian people are at this recrudescence of a Soviet practice and how much danger Alyaksandr Lukashenka is now in. Some of them have appealed to the courts, but so far, Lukashenka’s judiciary has turned them down arguing they do not have standing to sue. But as Gennady Fedynich, the head of the Belarusian Radio and Electronics Industry Union, points out, no one has the right to prevent suits against the tax authorities.
The Russian government has been accused of trying to kill another pro-West politician. Again. The most recent almost-victim is Montenegro’s former president and prime minister Milo Đukanović. This latest allegation against the Kremlin is just one of many it has had to defend itself against over the years. Funny how that keeps happening, right?
Read online in the news feed of Ukraine’s UNIAN Information Agency – world from 23 February
People’s Deputy Oleksiy Honcharenko (Bloc of Petro Poroshenko) elaborated on a special operation by security officials involving his staged abduction. News 23 February from UNIAN.
24.02.17 15:34 – Savchenko instigated Ukrainian troopers fighting at Donetsk airport to launch riots against legitimate authorities, – MP Rychkova. VIDEO During her visit to the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) zone this week, independent Member of the Ukrainian Parliament Nadiia Savchenko instigated the troopers engaged in battles in the vicinity of the Donetsk airport to leave their position and… View video news.
24.02.17 17:41 – “DPR” militants say Ukraine’s MP Savchenko, negotiator Ruban come to occupied territories to visit Ukrainian prisoners of war The militants of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic aka “DPR” say head of the Ukrainian center for liberation of prisoners Volodymyr Ruban and independent member of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Nadiia Savchenko arrived at the… View news.
23.02.17 23:05 – Netherlands rejects extra requirements on Ukraine-EU partnership deal The Netherlands’ lower house of parliament did not support a proposal by Socialists commanding Kyiv to sign an additional political document that relates to the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. View news.
The Netherlands’ lower house of parliament has voted for the ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, leaving a vote in the upper house — the Dutch Senate — as a final hurdle before the deal, which was signed in March 2014, finally can enter into force.
The threat of a full-scale military invasion of Russia in Ukraine remains at the moment, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has said.
Russia’s hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 83 times in the past 24 hours with one Ukrainian soldier reported as killed in action (KIA) and two wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 24 February from UNIAN.
Deputy Prime Minister Hennadiy Zubko says the water supply in the Ukrainian-controlled town of Avdiyivka has been disrupted after the Russian occupation forces have once again shelled a local filtration station. News 24 February from UNIAN.
23.02.17 20:13 – Militants used IFVs, mortars and anti-aircraft guns in Luhansk sector, – ATO Staff 41 enemy attacks have been registered since midnight Feb. 23. View news.
24.02.17 12:35 – Good house quite suitable for living. It was hit by tank shell, – Russian militants laid flat Vodiane village. VIDEO The village of Vodiane has long become a kind of target for the Russian occupying forces. View video news.
24.02.17 11:40 – Governor Zhebrivskyi says Putin seeks to create as much mayhem in Avdiivka as possible, calls for resolute action over attack on filtering plant It is necessary to demilitarize the area adjacent to the Donetsk filtering station. View news.
23.02.17 22:11 – Ukrainian paratrooper destroys enemy IFV near Donetsk in one shot. VIDEO Deputy airborne company commander needed only one anti-tank guided missile shot to annihilate an infantry fighting vehicle of terrorists in the vicinity of Donetsk. View video news.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announces Ukraine will allocate about UAH 9 billion, or over US$333 million, for the development and purchase of new weapons and military equipment this year, according to the presidential press service. News 24 February from UNIAN.
Seventy-three years ago today, Stalin the two Vaynakh nations, the Chechens and the Ingush, thousands of whom lost their lives in the process before being allowed to return to their North Caucasus homeland after the dictator’s death. But this year, the two nations are treating that anniversary and Stalin very differently.
The head of consular affairs at Russia’s embassy in Greece is found dead in his Athens apartment.
Funeral services for Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, are being held in Moscow. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told mourners on February 24 that Churkin was "a…
A lead organizer of an upcoming march to commemorate slain Kremlin critic and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov has been "warned" by Moscow prosecutors of possible consequences i…
Residents of the Russian city of Yekaterinburg have protested plans to build a Russian Orthodox church in the middle of a large pond.
The Kremlin’s attempts to subvert politics are not limited to the United States.
AUTHOR: ANDY GREENBERG.ANDY GREENBERG SECURITY DATE OF PUBLICATION: 02.23.17.02.23.17 TIME OF PUBLICATION: 7:00 AM.7:00 AM LAST SEPTEMBER, A Google offshoot called Jigsaw declared war on trolls, launching a project to defeat online harassment using machine learning. Now, the team is opening up that troll-fighting system to the world. On Thursday, Jigsaw and its partners on Google’s Counter…
Honeypot research from F-Secure shows majority of illicit online activity coming from IP addresses in Russia – also where ransomware is a hot commodity.
Country’s defence minister admits the presence of a powerful military team focused on controlling information.
The Russia Foreign Ministry has launched a new feature on its website intending to flag news stories the Kremlin considers to be fake
Sergei Shoigu praised Russia’s military prowess in Syria, noting that of 162 weapons tested, 10 performed below expectations. Human rights groups say Russia’s campaign has come at a horrific cost.
As in 1917, the Russia of 2017 is at war. Wars have proven to be transformative experiences for Russia, accelerating political and social change. This was true in 1812, after the Crimean War, World War I or Afghanistan. Still, despite the transformations triggered by war and violence, it is striking to look back and examine the continuities of Russian history. Autocracy, despotism, social injustice and imperial overstretch were problems that led to the Russian Revolution one hundred years ago. It is stunning that a century on, none of these fundamental questions have been solved. Rather, they still impede stability both in Russia itself as well as in the Baltics and Eastern Europe. In retrospect, we may conclude the Russian Revolution of 1917 raised more questions than it has helped solve. Today, its legacy still overshadows all the parts of the former Romanov Empire. The problems we experience are those of a major power in a revolutionary transition.
U.S. President Donald Trump complained that the Russian deployment of a ground-based cruise missile is in violation of a 1987 treaty that bans land-based American and Russian intermediate-range missiles, according to Reuters. News 24 February from UNIAN.
President Donald Trump said on Thursday he wants to ensure the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at the “top of the pack,” saying the United States has fallen behind in its weapons capacity.
Trump’s willingness to expand our nuclear arsenal is a break from past presidents.
As Donald Trump becomes the latest U.S. president to attempt a ‘reset’ with Russia, a key Republican ally is pressing the White House not to lose sight of an emerging battle for influence that Moscow is currently winning – in the Arctic.
AS WE speak, politicians and strategists are grappling with the prospect of a war between the United States and China.
A U.S. Navy P-3 plane and a Chinese military aircraft came close to each other over the South China Sea in an incident the Navy believes was inadvertent.
Recent Chinese policies have fueled concerns that the country seeks to overturn the post–Cold War geopolitical order. But China is not the only revisionist power in Asia. Just as Chinese revisionism alarms Washington, the United States’ promotion of the liberal order stokes fear in Beijing and beyond.
Unable to find answers elsewhere, hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens have begun turning toward faith. This burst of religious activity poses real risks for China’s government, which is finding it harder than ever to strike the right balance between tolerance and repression.
China for the first time became Germany’s most important trading partner in 2016, overtaking the United States, data showed on Friday.
The Vietnam People’s Navy is shifting from sea denial to counter-intervention.I
It’s Time for Europe’s Militaries to Grow Up « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas
Say this for Donald Trump: He is forcing Europeans to think more seriously about how to protect and defend their continent, Bloomberg reported. Latest UNIAN news from 24 February.
The Maltese foreign minister has warned that Putin may wage a new “civil war” in Libya to provoke a new migration crisis in the EU particularly ahead of the elections in France and Germany. How realistic is this? While US President Donald Trump is doing its best to prove that Russia is going to become a “reliable partner” of the USA in its fight against Islamic State, increasingly more experts both in the USA and abroad insist that Moscow provides no help to the West in its war against terrorists, on the contrary it seeks to destabilize the Middle East to cause new waves of refugees to Europe. New CIA head Michael Pompeo said at the Senate hearings that “Russia has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction of ISIS.”
After propping up the regime of Bashar al-Assad and prolonging Syria’s civil war; after destroying Aleppo with air strikes that caused massive civilian casualties; after violating cease-fire afte…
Photos posted online by Britain’s National Crime Agency could show the weapon. That it might have been recovered by British authorities is almost unheard of.
‘Malaysia’s national police chief says authorities will decontaminate the airport where Kim Jong Nam was killed with a nerve agent 11 days ago, and that one of the women suspected of attacking him was sickened.
North Korea expert Michael Madden lays out the shadowy groups which could have killed Kim Jong-nam.
The North Korean leader’s half-brother died after being poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport.
Investigators identify substance used to murder Kim Jong-un’s half-brother as an agent described as a weapon of mass destruction by the UN
VX is one of the most toxic and fastest acting chemical warfare agents.
Police in Malaysia say the half brother of North Korea’s leader who was killed in a Kuala Lumpur airport more than a week ago had a nerve agent on his eye and his face.
The re-emergence of an Anglosphere—a long-held dream for many proud Britons—is no longer so far-fetched.
Gallup poll shows that while Putin is view unfavorably by the vast majority of Americans, his approval rating has nearly doubled from 2015.
A letter sent to the Russian envoy in 2008 soliciting campaign contributions was an apparent error.
Trump’s Russia scandal reaches a political tipping point – The Washington PostVoter demand answers about Trump’s Russia connections.
Trump’s chief strategist outlines nationalist agenda and says president will fulfill hard-line promises.
President Trump’s top advisers assured conservatives Thursday that he will keep pressing on “all of those promises” that got him elected, rejected reports of chaos within the White House and accused a hostile press of trying to undermine the new administration.
A Ukrainian politician says Trump lawyer Michael Cohen promoted a pro-Russia peace deal; Cohen denies the claim.
The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN.
Those alarmed by the president’s blundering around the world should be careful who they empower.
The key ingredient to the ritual: An unflattering photo of the president.
The U.S. Air Force says it is unaware of a plan touted by President Donald Trump to save some $1 billion on upgrades to Air Force One.
U.S. President Donald Trump has shown little patience for dissent, but that trait is likely to be tested by his new national security adviser, Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster.
Trump’s new national security adviser can be a powerful counterweight to the baleful influence of Steve Bannon.
Looming budgetary constraints and the U.S. Army’s ongoing downsizing have enhanced the appeal of forces that are lighter, smaller, and cheaper than tanks and other protected vehicles. But not only have armored forces proved critical in yesterday’s wars; they will also be needed to win tomorrow’s.