Information operations

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 13 May 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russian Naval Air Arm Su-30SM harassment of P-8A producing significant MSM traffic days late. Lithuania pleads for the permanent stationing of US forces in Baltics. More protester arrests in Russia, while Putin tries to bamboozle truckers. Prof Goble’s “Baker’s Double Dozen” No.82 contains some mind-boggling reports [the White House photography comments via Ekho Moskvy top score], almost as bizarre as the Russians deciding they love POTUS after all, for sacking Comey. Ukrainians signing MoU with Belarus for the operation of the oil pipeline from Odessa to Belarus, crippling Russia’s oil embargo on the Belarusians.

IO/IW/Cyber most interesting claims that ransomware extortionists may be Russian hacker group.

Most interesting Ukraine report is former deputy head of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Igor Romanenko citing an OSCE brief (not available on OSCE website) that Russians in the last three months increased the number of heavy calibre weapons (tube and rocket arty) in Donbass by 750%, and discussing the 203mm 2S7 Pion, one of which fired at Ukrainian positions last week. This points to possible offensive operations mid-summer, aligned with the Zapad-2017 exercise. Long predicted overflow of flooded mines and water table contamination of occupied Donbass, and Russia’s Rostov Oblast, about to hit critical threshold, being ignored by the Russians (no doubt hoping to use it for domestic propaganda “see, the evil Ukrop Nazi-Fascist bullfinch eating Banderites are pumping poison into Russian drinking water, to hurt poor Russians…”). Donbass fires continue, with the bombardment of residential areas yesterday. Ukraine signs deal with Saudis to codevelop LRMP variant of An-132D, and with Turkey to use Turkish supplied avionics in An-148, An-158 and An-178 transport jets.

Turkey test launches its first ever domestic TBM, while ISIS retreats, and Turks complain about Kurds.

DPRK unleashes firehose of nonsense, Putin offers to solve DPRK nuclear issue (like the removal of Syrian CW?), while PRC invites DPRK to Silk Road conference.

Most interesting US domestic report is a discussion of the scale of Russian hacking in 2008 targeting senior Obama administration personnel.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Russian Jet Buzzes U.S. Spy Plane Near Crimea, Pentagon Says Russian military jet came within about 20 feet of a U.S. Navy Poseidon surveillance plane while it was flying in international air space over the Black Sea near Crimea, the Pentagon said on May 12….

US Navy P-8A Poseiden and Russian fighter jet come within 20 feet in close encounter over Black Sea – CBS News In spite of incredibly short distance between aircraft, Navy calls it &quot;safe and professional,&quot; Russia calls it a successful &quot;greeting,&quot; and interception

A Russian jet flew within 20 feet of a Navy surveillance plane. The Pentagon says it was routine. – The Washington Post The incident occurred over the Black Sea.Russian jet flies 20 feet from US Navy plane – CNNPolitics.comA Russian military jet “came within approximately 20 feet” of a US Navy P-8A Poseidon surveillance plane while it was flying in international airspace over the Black Sea earlier this week, US Navy Capt. Pamela Kunze told CNN on Friday.

Lithuania wants a permanent US troop presence as ‘a game changer’ to counter Russia | Business Insider           The Lithuanian president has said she wants an ongoing US troop presence in her country in light of increased Russian activity in the region and in response to Moscow’s preparations for military exercises in neighbouring Belarus late this year. “We need the serious involvement of the US to not only deter but to defend,” President Dalia Grybauskaite told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, after a meeting with US Defence Secretary James Mattis. “It is important to have adequate response capabilities against possible threats.” Planned war games by Russia and Belarus slated for September could involve up to 100,000 troops and include nuclear-weapons training. Mattis has criticised the buildup ahead of the exercise, as well as Russia’s deployment of missiles to Kaliningrad — its semi-enclave on the Baltic Sea. “Any kind of buildup like that is simply destabilizing,” Mattis said. Moscow said the missiles were part of routine drills, but US officials worried it was a permanent upgrade to Kaliningrad’s missile capability. The US has had 150 soldiers in Lithuania since 2014 but now plans to station soldiers from a heavy tank brigade in the country temporarily, according to The Journal. That rotation will begin in June with soldiers taking part in a multinational exercise. “Our goal is that not only NATO troops need to be involved in deterrence in the Baltic region, but also, bilaterally, US troops,” Grybauskaite told The Journal, saying that the US would likely be the first to respond in the event of a confrontation with Russia, as NATO decision-making did not move quickly. “Having in mind the challenges we are facing and the increase in tensions in our region it would be preferable to have the US on a permanent basis,” she said. Raimundas Karoblis, Lithuania’s defence minister, has criticised NATO’s reaction speed in the past and this week echoed the president’s remarks. “The presence of Americans is a multiplying factor for deterrence,” he told The Journal. “With Americans here it is a game changer.” The Baltic states have sounded alarm about Russia activity in Eastern Europe for several months. In April, Karoblis told The Guardian that his country was “taking very seriously” propaganda efforts organised by Moscow meant to destabilize the region. “Russia is a threat,” he said at the time. “They are saying our capital Vilnius should not belong to Lithuania because between the first and second world wars it was occupied by Poland.” “There are real parallels with Crimea’s annexation [from Ukraine],” he added. “We are speaking of a danger to the territorial integrity of Lithuania.” Estonia’s national intelligence report for 2016 said the “Baltic Sea area is especially vulnerable to threats from Russia” and that Russian intelligence agencies were conducting operations to influence the Estonian defence forces and public. In recent months. NATO countries have stepped up their deployments to Eastern Europe, which is already bristling with offensive and defensive weaponry. In Lithuania, a 1,000-member NATO force of troops from Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway is already on site. Battle groups from the UK and Canada are also headed to Poland, Latvia, and Estonia. More than 1,100 troops — 900 of them from the US — have taken position in Poland. “This is a mission, not a cycle of training events,” said US Army Lt. Col. Steven Gventer, who heads the battle group in Poland. “The purpose is to deter aggression in the Baltics and in Poland … We are fully ready to be lethal.” The US has deployed dozens ofhelicopters and thousands of pieces of military equipment to Germany in recent weeks to underscore Washington’s “rock-solid commitment to Europe.” Some of the US tanks recently deployed to the region have changed their camouflage scheme to better blend in with the environment. US officials have said a long-range Patriot missile battery — purely for defensive use — could move into the Baltic region this year as part of planned military exercises but would be gone by the time the Russia-Belarus military exercise started.  Poland also plans to buy $US7.6 billion worth of Patriot air-defence missiles to counter Moscow, which has been greeted with Russian ire.

Six NATO warships arrive in Estonia | Defence Blog Six NATO warships belonging to two of the alliance’s standing maritime Immediate Reaction Forces arrived in Tallinn on a planned port visit on Friday. That was reported by The ship will take part in various exercises and events, stock up on supplies and allow crew members an opportunity to rest. Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1), led since last June by Estonian Navy Cmdr. Johan-Elias Seljamaa, currently consists of four minehunters: Estonia’s EML Wambola (M311), which is currently serving as the group’s flagship, Norway’s HNoMS Hinnøy (M343), the U.K.’s HMS Ramsey (M110) and Belgium’s BNS Primula (M924). Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) , led by Royal Norwegian Navy Commodore Ole Morten Sandquist, currently consists of two ships: the flagship HNoMS Roald Amundsen (F-311) of Norway and HNLMS Evertsen (F805) of the Netherlands.

U.S. shifting forces to monitor large Russian military exercises, officials say – The Washington Post The United States will put ships in the Baltic Sea and take over NATO’s air policing in the region ahead of the Russian exercise in August and September.

Canadians in Latvia to keep calm and carry on in face of massive Russian military exercise – Politics – CBC News Canadian troops and aircraft will arrive in Latvia this summer just in time to face a massive Russian military exercise across the border. It will be a time of increasing tension, says Latvia’s ambassador to Canada

Kremlin says may retaliate against U.S. over expulsion of Russian diplomats | Reuters Russia may retaliate against the United States for the Obama administration’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats it said were spies, a top Kremlin aide said on Friday.

Kremlin Aide Threatens Retaliation If U.S. Doesn’t Lift Restrictions On Diplomatic Compounds A top Kremlin foreign-policy adviser has threatened retaliatory measures against U.S. officials in response to Washington’s closure of Russian diplomatic property in the United States last year. …

At Least 11 Russian Activists Said Detained On Moscow’s Red SquareAt least 11 activists have been detained on Moscow’s Red Square as they were reading Russia’s constitution out loud, a group that monitors protest activity says. Among the activist…

At least 11 Russian activists detained on Moscow’s Red Square, says monitor | World news | The GuardianAt least 11 activists taken to police station, says group that monitors protest activity

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Trump is Again OURS,’ Moscow Commentators Say‘Trump is Again OURS,’ Moscow Commentators Say Paul Goble Staunton, May 13 – There has been yet another mood swing in Moscow about Donald Trump. After his election, Russian officials and commentators celebrated that event as a breakthrough for Russia. Then, after he came to office and took positions, Moscow didn’t like, many Russians dismissed him as a remake of Barack Obama as far as their country is concerned. But now in the wake of Donald Trump’s firing of the FBI director and his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Russians again are expressing confidence that the US president will pursue policies they like and are declaring openly that “Trump is again OURS. Hurrah!” ( Karen Shakhnazarov, for example, said on Moscow’s First Channel Thursday evening that Trump is Russia’s revenge for Gorbachev: He will divide the US and end up “in Miami instead of Foros.” Then, he continued, “we will rule the world.” Russians just have to wait because “Trump is again ours!” ( Such remarks, coming after more than two months of largely critical Russian commentary suggest that they, like the ones expressed earlier, are not so deeply held that they won’t change again on a dime (or perhaps kopeck) if once again the US president does something Moscow doesn’t like. But at the same time, they underscore Moscow’s hopes that it now has an opposite number in Washington who will not be constrained as were his predecessors by Russian actions at home like violations of human rights or abroad like the invasions of Georgia or Ukraine but who instead will want above all to make “a big deal” – and that Moscow can exploit that desire.Russia’s Lavrov Visits Lend-Lease Monument In AlaskaRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, during a trip to Alaska, has visited a monument to a crucial World War II program under which the United States aided the Soviet Union and other Allies. …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Promises to Respond to Long Haul Truckers’ Demands by July 1Paul Goble Staunton, May 13 – Vladimir Putin will respond by July 1 to an appeal from striking long-haul truckers to do away with the Plato fee system, the Presidential Administration says, according to Bessilikto Dugarov, a lawyer who helped drivers in Buryatia compile it ( In that appeal (, the drivers said that they had no recourse but to strike and to continue their strike until the Plato system was cancelled. “We pay a transportation tax, we pay for fuel and equipment, we pay fines.” The Plato fees simply make our lives impossible, they said. At the same time, the drivers indicated that they were quite prepared to negotiate and explained that for many of them, the most important thing was that the powers that be take notice of their concerns and meet them at least part of the way. That now appears to be happening not only in Moscow but elsewhere. In other developments over the last two days, officials in North Ossetia met many of the demands of the drivers, although as a federal subject, they are not in a position to change the federal law on their own. Indications are that the strike continues there as a result ( Elsewhere, some drivers were leaving the parking places where they had organized the strike, and Russian media were thus declaring an end to the labor action (, but many drivers said they were still on strike and would not carry any cargo until their demands were met ( The long-haul drivers feel they have no choice. As one trucker from Udmurtia put it, the Plato system has driven them back into an economic situation which is “now even worse than the one they faced in the 1990s” (

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 82            Paul Goble Staunton, May 12 — The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore. Consequently, Windows on Eurasia each week presents a selection of 13 of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 82nd such compilation, and it is again a double issue. Even then, it is only suggestive and far from complete, but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Urged to Make Far Eastern Federal District First Governorship General of a Renewed RussiaPaul Goble Staunton, May 12 – Since the 1930s, Moscow has governed the Russian Far East by subdividing it to reflect population changes and economic needs and to prevent the growth of regionalist attitudes. Vladimir Putin has changed directions and pushed for the amalgamation of small non-Russian federal subjects with larger and predominantly Russian ones. But the editors of the Russian nationalist portal in the Far East, Bereg Rus, argue that both domestic requirements and foreign policy challenges require that the Kremlin go further and transform the entire Far Eastern Federal District into a single administrative unit as the first governorship general of a renewed Russia ( Such a step is necessary, the editors say, because the current leaderships of the smaller regions and republics in the Far Eastern District are not only too focused on economic issues to the exclusion of attention to foreign policy challenges and Russian national needs but also are too often in bed corruptly or not with trans-national corporations. Putin’s decision to fold the Koryak autonomous district into Kamchatka kray and the Agin autonomous district into a new Transbaikal kray based mostly on the former Irkutsk oblast have encouraged discussion about “the need for a review of a new system of the organization of administrative-territorial administration in the Far East,” Bereg Rus says. A good way forward, the editors say, would involve the transformation of the Far Eastern Federal District into a single federal subject with a capital either in Yakutsk or in an entirely new city on the border of Irkutsk oblast and Sakha. That would undercut criminal ties with foreign firms and open the way for the development of the Northern Sea Route. Such a territory, if organized as a new governship general, the editors continue, could become “a real and significant factor for the strengthening of the territorial integrity of Russia, the successful mastery of the Arctic and Siberian regions, and a guarantee of victory in a possible war” in the Pacific. Bereg Rus suggests that the best option for an administrative center of such a governorship general would be on the shores of the Lena River near Yakutsk or at the river port of Ust Kut near the mouth of that river. Given how fast Moscow was able to develop the Russian Island off Vladivostok, building such a new city would seem a very reasonable step. Such a new “Arctic capital with the residence of the governor general of Eastern Siberia should be combined with the Western and Eastern portion of the country by a new railroad,” which along with the new structure would “strengthen our statehood and defense capability” at a time of serious challenges. By virtue of its boldness and its combination of concerns about economic development and national security undoubtedly will find some support in Moscow, especially among those who would like to take a step that suggests Putin is prepared to depart from past practices in order to promote the national interests he often talks about. But because such an entity would be so large and so rich and because it would recall the short-lived Far Eastern Republic of the early 1920s, it is certain to be opposed by others who would see it as a threat to Moscow’s control rather than a guarantee and even the harbinger of the disintegration of the Russian Federation. And it would also be opposed by those who would see it as yet another step toward an even more authoritarian and militarist Russia, one in which freedom and democracy would be even more sharply restricted than they are today, given that the creation of one governorship general could open the way for more. However, the fact that it is being promoted now and by a pro-Kremlin group in the Far East itself suggests how many problems have built up in that region and how shaky the current arrangements are, especially in the event either of a serious conflict on the Korean peninsula or a dramatic expansion of Northern Sea Route traffic.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Where All Caucasians are Circassians’In memory of Majida Hilmi (1930-2017) ( Goble Staunton, May 12 – North Caucasians who come to Turkey “often identify themselves as ‘Circassians,’ even though in ethnic terms they are not,” Ramazan Alpaut says, a reflection of the size and importance of the Circassian diaspora in that country but something that gives new meaning to that ethnonym. While visiting the Turkish province of Hatay on the border with Syria, the Radio Liberty journalist says, he met with “local Caucasian families among whom were Kabardins, Ossetians, Abkhazias and Kumyks, all of whom sought to speak with him in Circassian because they assume all North Caucasians know that language ( Moreover, he continues, all of them assumed that ethnic divisions are “no more than intra-Circassian tribal groupings” and that except perhaps for the Chechens, all of the peoples in the North Caucasus are part of a greater Circassian community. Alpaut’s meetings with North Caucasians in other parts of Turkey shed more light on this. One of his interlocutors, Unal Ozer from Sivas said that “the mukhajirs from the North Caucasus arrived her all together, established villages next to one another, and began to develop jointly. Thus, the name ‘Circassian’ became common for all those who came from this region” to Turkey. This process was assisted, Ozer suggests, by the fact that “the Caucasus peoples have very similar cultures and culinary traditions and celebrate marriages in the same way, even when they speak various languages.” They see them as one of 10 or 11 parts of the Circassian nation, although in central Anatolia, they are more inclined to define this territorially than ethnically. Indeed, he says, “we do not have such an ethnos as Circassian. This is [instead] our common symbolic designation.” Kakhir Akleniz, a Chechen from Sivas, agrees. “Turkish Chechens like all Caucasians refer to themselves as Circassians.” In Turkey, the term Circassian is understand as a synonym for Caucasian, not so much ethnically as a marker of the region from which they came and view as their homeland. An Ossetian woman from Ankara told Alpaut that the Turks now call all who come from the North Caucasus Circassians. “We ourselves identify that way to the Turks. But among ourselves we speak about our ethnic origin. For example, in a Caucasus milieu, I say that I am an Ossetian” even though Turks call us Circassians. Gizantep Nurkhan, a refugee from Syria, says that “when someone asks [her] about her ethnic origin, [she] responds that [she] is a Kumyk from Dagehstan … Some ask if that means [she] is a representative of the Circassian people. But each time, [she says, she] gives a negative answer … That isn’t how things were in Syria.” This post is my small way of remembering the great Majida Hilmi, whom I first met when I testified in Congress in 1995 on behalf of Chechnya’s fight for freedom against the Russian invasion. After I spoke, she passed me a note of thanks, signed simply as “a Kabardinka from New York.” Her note to me remains one of my most precious possessions to this day.

In Putin’s Russia, even playing Pokémon Go can be a crime – VoxRussian blogger Ruslan Sokolovsky receives a suspended 3.5-year sentence for playing the game in a church on video.

Russia’s Immortal Regiment: From Grassroots To ‘Quasi-Religious Cult’With each passing year, the so-called Immortal Regiment procession marking the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany becomes larger and more widespread. This year’s event on May 9, Victory Day, sa…

Lukashenka Reshuffles MIA – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – MinskPersonnel appointments were carried out in the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Belarus.

What did the defense minister of Belarus in Moscow say: peace or war?At the Sixth Moscow Conference on International Security, Defense Minister of the Republic of Belarus Lieutenant-General Andrei Ravkov called for “taking urgent measures to reduce tensions.” За что выступил министр обороны Беларуси в Москве — мир или войну? The speech of the defense minister of Belarus at the conference in Moscow resembled sacred texts, which can be interpreted in very different, often directly opposite ways. For example, the frankly pro-Russian site “Our Gomel” published on May 13 a note that interpreted Ravkov’s speech exclusively in the anti-Western way: they build up their armament, demonstrate bellicose behavior, apply sanctions, interfere in the domestic politics of other states under the guise of good intentions, use ” Color revolutions “as an instrument for achieving political goals. At the same time, in the videotape of the minister’s speech, which the publication leads, there is not a word about sanctions and “color revolutions”. And the key point of the speech, in our opinion, is not the traditional anti-Western rhetoric for the Belarusian authorities. We have heard it for the last 23 years, there is nothing new here. However, recently it has softened considerably.

Without Russia: Belarus and Ukraine will sign an agreement on the Mozyr-Brody oil pipelineOAO Gomeltransneft Druzhba and Ukrainian PJSC Ukrtransnafta are going to sign an agreement on the use of the Mozyr-Brody oil pipeline at the end of May. This was reported on Friday by the press service of the concern Belneftekhim. On May 23, Minsk will host a meeting of the International Petroleum Exporters Association (MATH). “During the meeting, it is planned to sign a bilateral agreement on cooperation and interaction for the effective use of the Druzhba trunk oil pipeline system at the Mozyr-Brody section between Gomeltransneft Druzhba and Ukrtransnafta,” Belneftekhim said. Representatives of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) in the status of observer and Ukrtransnafta (Ukraine), which expressed interest in membership in the association, will take part in the meeting. To participate in the meeting, the company PERN “Przyazyas” JSC (Poland) is also invited. Thus, from talking about the need to search for alternative oil supplies to Belarus, Belarus is moving to action. As early as March 20, Ukrtransnafta announced that it had completed the work to displace the water preservative and fill the Mozyr-Brody oil pipeline with Urals oil. Thus, an alternative oil supply route is about to be fully prepared.

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

Ukraine has vast experience in tackling Kremlin propaganda, ready to share it – expertsUkraine has accumulated vast experience in fighting the Kremlin propaganda and is ready to share it with its partners, Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine Dmytro Zolotukhin&nbsp;said, addressing a scientific conference &quot;Overcoming the consequences of totalitarianism as a way of forming stability in the Baltic-Black Sea Region&quot; held on May 11. News 12 May from UNIAN.

Accusing Europe – Disinformation Review – To Inform is to InfluenceShare Tweet Forward 11 May 2017 *TRENDS OF THE WEEK* Accusing Europe Several European countries were subjected to pro-Kremlin disinformation over the past two weeks. It was claimed in Sputnik that Lithuania follows totalitarian laws and that all Baltic states use “Soviet methods to combat Sputnik journalists”. No mention was made of the fact that…

Russia has ‘upped its game’ in cyberwarfare, US intel officials sayRussian political interference is spreading to more countries around the world, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials.

Russian-linked cyber gang blamed for NHS computer hack using bug stolen from US spy agency A cyber gang with possible links to Russia is being blamed for the extraordinary worldwide computer security breach – possibly in retaliation for US airstrikes on Syria.

War In Ukraine: Pro-Russian Separatists Are Hijacking Cell Networks, Sending Threatening Text MessagesPro-Russian separatists operating in Ukraine are using cell site simulators to hijack communications and send threatening text messages to Ukrainian soldiers.

Suspected Russia-Backed Hackers Target Baltic Energy Networks: Reuters – YouTubeSuspected Russian hackers are involved in cyber attacks against the energy networks of the Baltic States. _ Follow UATV English: Facebook: https://www.facebo

Ukraine Reports

The general told why Russia is concentrating heavy weapons in the DonbasnAccording to the OSCE, over the past three months, the occupying forces of the Russian Federation in the Donbas have increased the deployment of prohibited heavy weapons by 750%. Observers record a massive movement of military equipment. In a commentary for InfoResist, the former deputy head of the General Staff, Lieutenant-General Igor Romanenko, told us what could be involved in building up the militants’ weapons. “These actions can be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, to raise the hype associated with the fact that Ukraine is aggressive, Ukraine wants to attack, and we offer peace, unification. Collect the equipment, take it to the forefront, and then simply explain that there is a threat from Ukraine. This is a new approach, “the expert said. Romanenko noted that now the rebels have restored the [203mm] artillery system “Pion”. “Pion” in its time was intended up to the use of nuclear weapons, but they do not have nuclear weapons, but Russia does. They talked so much about the Crimea, Putin personally said that he was ready to go right up to the use of nuclear weapons during the operation on the occupation of the Crimea. Here, too, they brought, tested, fired at conventional equipment, not nuclear. If necessary, you can use nuclear shells, for example, “he said. “On the one hand, the company continues to strengthen military pressure (shelling), the concentration of artillery weapons. On the other hand, the offensive is diplomatic and political, as Putin understands that the time has come when, given the arrival of Trump, Macron and the prospects associated with Merkel, it’s just that we will not be able to sit tight in such a state, we will have to change this situation, “said Romanenko . At the same time, he stressed that Putin seeks to reserve the opportunity to strategically influence Ukraine. “Until August-September, military pressure will continue, possibly with some sort of campaigns, with a change in the situation, but Putin wants to reserve the opportunity to strategically influence through the Donbass and Crimea Ukraine’s political decisions. To implement the constitutional changes that are prescribed in the Minsk agreements, Ukraine thus falls under the strategic influence of Russia, it will not break out, as the Baltic states did, Poland. Therefore, in the near future, this is the prospect, “the expert believes. According to him, such actions by Russia are not only a springboard of pressure on the occupied territories, but also a propaganda move. On May 11, US attorney in charge of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Keith Burns, during her speech to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, said that during the past three months, the occupation forces of the Russian Federation in the Donbas have increased the deployment of banned heavy weapons by 750% .

Donbas on verge of environmental disaster over flooded mines, – Minister Chernysh12.05.17 20:03 – Minister of temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons Vadym Chernysh believes the environmental issues of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions must be brought up for discussion at Minsk talks. As reported by Censor.NET citing the statement by the ministry, the water level in the mines in the territory of the so-called ” Donetsk and Luhansk People ‘ s Republics ” is critical and has almost reached the maximum allowable which requires immediate intervention.”The solution of environmental issues in the east needs good coordination between central and local authorities, as well as close cooperation with representatives of international organizations assessing and monitoring the situation. Specialized agencies in the first place, must have an aggregate picture, analysis and risk assessment, and an action plan in case of emergency. ” The environmental issues of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions must definitely be tackled at the talks in Minsk. But first of all, we need to clarify the list of companies in the uncontrolled areas that require attention and access to international experts in order to prevent environmental and man-made disasters,” Chernysh said. It is noted that the Ukrainian authorities will now demand granting international experts immediate access to the flooded mines for pumping out the water. No one in the occupied territories properly monitors compliance with environmental norms and standards. Moreover, it is extremely hard to make repairs at the enterprises near the demarcation line in the Donbas. Ukraine ‘ s representative in the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group to resolve situation in Ukraine ‘ s east Iryna Herashchenko stressed that this issue was constantly being raised in Minsk, but Russia along with the ” DPR ” / ” LPR ” failed to guarantee security for repair crews so far.

Three Ukrainian servicemen wounded as militants launched 54 attacks yesterday, – ATO HQ13.05.17 10:19 – Three Ukrainian servicemen wounded as militants launched 54 attacks yesterday, – ATO HQ Pro-Russian hybrid forces continue to violate the cease-fire in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) zone. View news.

Militants fired at residential areas along contact line yesterday, – Ukrainian side of JCCC13.05.17 11:45 – Militants fired at residential areas along contact line yesterday, – Ukrainian side of JCCC The Ukrainian side of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination in the Donbas (JCCC) reports multiple cease-fire violations by militants along the contact line over the past 24 hours. View news.

Terrorists escalate hostilities in Donbas: Ukraine reports 3 WIAsRussian-terrorist forces continue to violate the agreement on the de-escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation Headquarters reported Saturday. News 13 May from UNIAN.

Three years after sham referendums in Donbas, no Russian Spring -Euromaidan Press |Three years ago, on 11 May 2014, illegal “referendums” were held in occupied cities of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to create an illusion of all-region wide decision to separate from Ukraine. This farce, organized with Russian support, was held without any legal basis, independent observers, voting booths in places, and electoral register, but with bulletins printed on office printers, armed men at every poll station, and allowance to vote for absent persons. A small fraction of available poll stations was open in several cities in the occupied region (for example, 4 of 216 in then occupied Mariupol), creating the illusion of a huge turnout and support for the geopolitical move. Of course, no Russian officials were formally involved in staging referendums, everything was done by so-called local militia supported by local Ukrainian authorities of occupied cities. The question was “Do you support the act of state independence of the Donetsk (or Luhansk) people’s republic?” A day before the referendums, then OSCE Parliamentary Assembly president Ranko Krivokapić said, “The idea that free and fair voting could take place in these so-called referendums is absurd. Not only are these referendums completely illegitimate in the eyes of the international community, they would be taking place amid a climate of fear, violence and lawlessness that is sure to keep many away from polling places.”

Ukraine spy agency ‘may have seen planting of bomb that killed journalist’ | World news | The GuardianNew film suggests an intelligence services agent was present when device was hidden under Pavel Sheremet’s car last July

SBU officers apprehended criminal group of arms traders. PHOTOS13.05.17 14:30 – SBU officers apprehended criminal group of arms traders. PHOTOS The Security Service of Ukraine, together with the national police and the military prosecutor’s office, disclosed an organized crime group that was engaged in reselling of weapons, smuggled from the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) area. View photo news.

Poroshenko, Trump to meet “in the near future,” – Minister Klimkin12.05.17 17:35 – Poroshenko, Trump to meet in the near future, – Minister Klimkin Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin says a meeting between President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. President Donald Trump is likely to take place soon. View news.

Will U.S. join Normandy format – News about politics | UNIANWhen MFA Ukraine talks about a possible U.S. participation in the Normandy format of talks on Donbas settlement (Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said that Washington might go for such move) it’s more like wishful thinking. However, this is the idea by President Petro Poroshenko so the country’s top diplomat cannot run in a different lane, therefore being forced to repeat this “mantra”. Donald Trump’s Administration is primarily focused on internal political issues and key foreign challenges facing the United States. I don’t believe Ukraine takes up any extremely important spot on the Americans’ world map for them to get involved in the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Read more on UNIAN:

U.S. concerned over new wave of raids against Crimean Tatars in Russia-occupied CrimeaThe U.S. finds disturbing &ldquo;another wave of raids&rdquo; launched by security forces in Crimea against Crimean Tatars, U.S. envoy to the OSCE Kate Byrnes said in her response to Chief Monitor of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine and Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine in OSCE&rsquo;s Permanent Council in Vienna. News 13 May from UNIAN.

Ukroboronprom Will Develop a New An-132 Modification with International PartnersModification of An-132 for the maritime patrol will be developed by specialists of the SC Ukroboronprom, in cooperation with TAQNIA (Saudi Arabia) and Havelsan (Turkey). The parties signed Memorandum of cooperation in the framework of the 13th International Exhibition of Military Equipment “IDEF-2017” (Istanbul). The new agreement was signed with the participation of the Secretary of the National Security and Defense of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov. AN-132 is the first plane with no Russian components, created by the SE “Antonov”, which is the part of the SC UkrOboronProm; it is an example of international cooperation of Ukraine and international aerospace giants. In April of 2015 Taqnia Aeronautics and UOP SE Antonov signed a partnership agreement on development and production of light transport aircraft An-132 in Saudi Arabia. December 20, 2016 the aircraft was demonstrated to the public and in March 31, 2017, AN-132D performed its first flight. Additional information: TAQNIA company was established in 2011 for technology transfer, sustainable GDP growth, economic diversification and creation of high quality jobs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Havelsan is a part of the Turkish Armed Forces Foundation; it is the leading developer of command and control systems software, armament control system for all types of military equipment (ground, air, sea), intelligence systems, systems for surveillance and identification purposes, armed forces support systems (logistics, personnel management, etc.), ground simulators and aviation equipment for the Armed Forces of Turkey and foreign customers.

Turkey’s ASELSAN, Ukraine’s ANTONOV Sigh MOU On Avionics For An−148 AircraftTurkey’s ASELSAN and Ukrainian ANTONOV have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at IDEF’17 in Istanbul to explore opportunities of business collaboration on complete avionics and integrated solutions for An−148 aircraft family. The intended collaboration is primarily based on the An−158 and An−178 aircraft which they could be strong candidates for regional jet and cargo aircraft, the Ukrainian firm announced Wednesday. The MoU was signed by Dr. Faik Eken, General Manager of ASELSAN and Oleksandr A. Kotsiuba, President of ANTONOV. The parties have also agreed to explore further opportunities targeting the global market.

Poroshenko: Visa-Free EU Travel Marks Ukraine’s ‘Divorce From Russian Empire’Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says a visa-liberalization deal with the European Union marks his country’s &quot;divorce from the Russian Empire.&quot; Poroshenko spoke on May 11, afte…

Ukrainians Welcome Visa-Free Travel To EUEuropean Union member states have endorsed visa-free travel for Ukrainian citizens entering the EU’s Schengen Area. The new visa regime is set to come into effect on June 11. RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service asked residents of Kharkiv to share their reactions to the decision.

What has Ukraine done to get a visa waiver from the EU? -Euromaidan Press |On May 11 EU Council supported granting a visa-waiver to Ukrainian citizens, finalizing Ukraine’s multi-year progress to visa liberalization goal. It has been a challenging and interesting process showing how EU ʺconditionalityʺ can work when very practical issues such as freedom of traveling are at stake. We analyzed what Ukraine did to get visa liberalization, and how it influenced Ukraine’s reform process.

Questions Surround Ukraine’s Bailouts as Banking Chief Steps Down – The New York TimesThe departing official said she had made necessary moves, but a major lender’s troubles have raised concerns about the country’s ability to manage foreign aid.

Ukraine Defeats Russia in Medieval Battle Championship – YouTubeThe famous ‘Battle of the Nations’ competition was recently held in Spain – and Ukraine didn’t walk away empty-handed….Watch our report. _ Follow UATV Engl…

First Ukrainian city stops using gas heating, switches to wood waste -Euromaidan Press |In 2017, raion center Zhovkva became the first gas-free city in Ukraine. The European Union funded the project which allowed to fully eliminate gas heating and use wood waste instead. Zhovkva, a town with 13,500 inhabitants in Lviv region, became the first Ukrainian city to stop using gas. The municipality of Zhovkva initiated the process of transition from gas to solid fuel back in 2005 when natural gas was not that expensive and Russia supplied it without interruption. In 2012, Zhovkva joined the Covenant of Mayors, a European co-operation movement which’s signatories commit to increasing energy efficiency using renewable energy sources on their territories. There are four municipal boiler houses in Zhovkva. One of them was re-equipped with solid fuel combustion appliances. Instead of combusting gas, it uses wood chips and sawdust now. One more facility is being reconstructed too. Two more gas boiler houses were put on hold on stand-by reserve.

Richards students paint portraits for children in Ukraine – Daily SouthtownStudents were invited to paint portraits of children in Ukraine, many of whom had been orphaned or were living in extreme hardship.

Eurovision 2017: LGBT activists describe anti-gay violence in Ukraine | Metro NewsActivists have spoken of the terrifying circumstances faced by gay and trans people in Ukraine ahead of Eurovision. Ukraine won the singing contest last year in Stockholm – which sparked immediate…

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

In Syria, ISIS fighters trade dam for their lives

The Latest: Syria military says it seized Damascus suburb | Fox News The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local): 4 p.m.

The United States and Turkey Are on a Collision Course in Syria | Foreign Policy The United States and Turkey Are on a Collision Course in Syria « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas

US sends first weapons shipment to PKK/PYD terrorists in Syria The upcoming arms shipment to PKK terrorists in Syria is expected to include anti-tank missiles, followed by tanks and armored personnel carriers

Kurdish-led forces in Syria plan to advance on Daesh capital | Toronto Star The Syrian Democratic Forces have been buoyed by this week’s capture of the key town of Tabqa and its nearby dam.

Trump Should Be Wary of Putin’s Syria Plan – The New York Times The deal Russia is offering would empower America’s adversaries far more than America’s friends.

Turkey Test-Fires First Home Made Ballistic Missile ‘Bora’ Turkey has test-fired its first homemade ballistic missile near the Black Sea coastal region of Sinop Thursday. “Our missile Bora (storm), with a range of 280km, was just test-fired in Sinop. “It will strike its target in the Black Sea any minute now,” the Turkish defense minister Fikri Isik was quoted as saying by various local media Thursday. “Turkey now makes its own missile. We have gained the self-confidence to make better ones,” added the minister. Bora has a payload of 450kg and it has been developed by Turkey’s major weapons manufacturer Roketsan. In recent years, Turkey has been pursuing a long-term plan of manufacturing weapons systems domestically. Moreover, Ankara’s NATO allies refuse to transfer the technology to the country. [PrivacyBadger has replaced this AddThis button.]

Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – Patriot PAC-3 and GEM-T Missiles WASHINGTON — The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for Patriot PAC-3 and GEM-T missiles. The estimated cost is $2 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on May 10, 2017. The Government of the United Arab Emirates has requested the possible sale of sixty (60) Patriot Advanced Capability 3 (PAC-3) missiles with canisters and one hundred (100) Patriot Guidance Enhanced Missile-Tactical (GEM-T) missiles. Also included are canisters, tools and test equipment, support equipment, publications and technical documentation, spare and repair parts, U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $2 billion. This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of an important ally which has been, and continues to be, a force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East. This sale is consistent with U.S. initiatives to provide key allies in the region with modern systems that will enhance interoperability with U.S. forces and increase security. The proposed sale will enhance the UAE’s capability to meet current and future aircraft and missile threats. The UAE will use the capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. The UAE has fielded the Patriot system since 2009 and will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles into its armed forces.

DPRK / PRC Reports

Russia’s Putin says ready to help resolve North Korea nuclear issue: South Korea Putin has told Moon Jae-in he is ready to play a “constructive role” in resolving North Korea’s nuclear threat: South Korea.

Russia Warms Up To North Korea, As China Loses An Ally Russia warms up to North Korea as its decades-long friendship with China weakens amid increasing pressure from US over nuclear program.

South Korean Leader Urges ‘Constructive Role’ From Putin On Tensions With North South Korea’s newly elected President Moon Jae-in has urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to play a &quot;constructive role&quot; in resolving tensions with North Korea’s over its threat…

North Korea says it has right to ‘ruthlessly punish’ detained Americans | Fox NewsNorth Korea is threatening U.S. citizens detained in its country, saying it has the right to “ruthlessly punish” them.

North Korea Will Prepare for Nuclear Attack Until U.S. Abandons ‘Hostile’ Policy As the U.S. military positions for a possible war in the region, North Korea said it will “increase its capabilities for nuclear attack at a breakneck speed.”

North Korea warns of more nukes if US imposes new sanctions | New York Post North Korea sent a rare letter of protest to the US House of Representatives on Friday warning that a new package of tougher sanctions would only spur its…

North Korea would talk with US under the right ‘conditions’: report | New York Post A senior North Korean diplomat who handles relations with the United States said on Saturday Pyongyang would have dialogue with the U.S. administration if…

Even Through Decades of Sanctions, North Korea Finds Avenues of Trade – The New York Times

ven Through Decades of Sanctions, North Korea Finds Avenues of Trade – The New York Times Chinese reluctance, legal loopholes and thousands of laborers sent abroad have sustained Pyongyang’s economy in the face of often-painful restrictions.

I escaped North Korea when I was 13. The desperation still haunts me. – Vox “There are images I can never forget.”

Kyle Haynes | Signaling Resolve or Capability? The Difference Matters on the Korean Peninsula Moon Jae-in’s victory in South Korea’s presidential election injects a new element of uncertainty to the already fraught situation on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea’s Christians are suffering. We cannot forget them | Fox NewsI will never forget my first day in North Korea.

Exclusive: U.S. complains to China about North Korea’s attendance at Silk Road summit | Reuters The United States warned China on Friday that North Korea’s attendance at a weekend summit on China’s new Silk Road could affect the participation of other countries, casting a shadow over what is Beijing’s biggest diplomatic event of 2017.

What’s Behind Sino-Russian Cooperation on North Korea? | The Diplomat Russia and China have different rationales, but both are alarmed by the United States’ confrontational approach toward North Korea.

The Military Powerhouse North Korea Won’t Want to Fight (And It’s Not America) | The National Interest Blog More like its brethren to the south.

China says all welcome at Silk Road forum after U.S. complains over North Korea | Reuters China welcomes all countries to a forum this weekend on China’s new Silk Road plan, the foreign ministry said on Saturday, after the United States warned China that North Korea’s attendance could affect other countries’ participation.

Foreign Policy Reports

This Is Why The Experts Say You Should Trust The Polls

Eurofighter delays threaten German NATO contribution – report | Reuters Delays in adapting the Eurofighter jet for air-to-ground operations could make it impossible for Germany to fulfil its promise to contribute to NATO’s rapid reaction force in 2018, a German government report seen by Reuters suggests.

Romania’s Buried Village When copper was discovered in a nearby mountain, the world changed for the living, and the dead, of Geamana.

Venezuela Tries Protesters in Military Court ‘Like We Are in a War’ – The New York Times President Nicolás Maduro has turned to the military to tighten his grip, prosecuting demonstrators and other civilians in tribunals the government controls.

Protesting pensioners throw punches in latest Venezuela unrest | Reuters Elderly Venezuelan protesters on Friday threw punches and yelled curses at riot police blocking the latest in six weeks of demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government.