Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 15 May 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Possibly the best essay today on Russia is Portnikov’s OpEd entitled “The Last Lenin in Kyiv and the eternal Russian Stalin” and Prof Goble’s digest about the “The Real Clash of Civilizations” noting that Portnikov hits on a critical issue with the devolution of Russia’s political culture as it is “….returning to medieval Asiatic values and practices.” The medieval note is, of course, the previously explained return to the values of Ivan IV and his Oprichnina state. SECSTATE says no ‘Clean Slate’ with Moscow, while Lithuanians comment on Zapad-2017 and SECDEF visit. Protests continue in Russia as does harassment of opposition. Former DNI comments on ‘curious pattern’ of Russian deaths. Joel Harding further elaborates on Russia’s huge internal ethnic Ukrainian minority (COCW applies!). New Russian icebreaker to carry Klub ASCMs and AAA.

Ransomware dominates cyber in MSM, with Microsoft blameshifting to IC / agencies, rather than accepting that defects in their code enabled the problem in the first place. In IO, notable essays by Stagg and Nye. Soft Power 30 index is very revealing, showing how utterly foolish the Russian propaganda and trolling offensive has really been.

Donbass fires continue, while Poroshenko calls for UN  “blue helmet” peacekeepers (they actually need “green helmets” as in 1950 or 1991). SBU comment on Russians increasing effort to infiltrate nationalist groups in Ukraine.

Erdogan to meet POTUS, while Putin tries to throw kerosene on the fire.

MSM busy with DPRK missile shot, DPRK escalates rhetoric, China’s One Belt, One Road producing a lot of MSM traffic, while interesting strategy debate over China breaks out in Canberra.

US domestic Russia debate continues, noting the topic is busier now than 6 months ago


Russia / Russophone Reports


Window on Eurasia — New Series: The Real Clash of Civilizations: Last Lenin Comes Down in Kyiv as Stalin Cult Rises in Moscow Paul Goble Staunton, May 14 – Most of those influenced by Samuel Huntington’s ideas about “the clash of civilizations” have focused on the confrontation between the Christian West and the world of Islam. A smaller number have focused on the conflict between the Orthodox world of eastern Europe and the Catholic-Protestant west of Europe. But perhaps the most important clash of civilizations is in evidence on the territory of the former Soviet space between those who seek to root out the legacy of Soviet communist oppression and those who celebrate it or even go further and seek to re-impose it on their own countries and others as well. That clash has been very much in evidence in Ukraine and Russia this month. On Friday, the Ukrainian authorities took down the last statue of Lenin in Kyiv even as the Russian ones continued, as part of their Victory Day commemorations, have continued to celebrate Stalin and his brutal dictatorship as models for emulation. In a commentary for Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian Service, Vitaly Portnikov argues that this civilizational divide is “more defining than Ukrainian hopes for European integration and the Russian chimera of a Eurasian Union” (radiosvoboda.org/a/28483765.html; in Russian at charter97.org/ru/news/2017/5/13/249748/). He points out that “the final disappearance of the Bolshevik leader from the pedestal coincided with the decision of the European Council on the final offering to Ukraine of a visa-free regime with the EU.” For him, the Ukrainian commentator says, “this is not simply a coincidence” but a sign of a broader civilizational shift. But while in Ukraine, “the very memory of Lenin is disappearing,” Portnikov continues, “in Russia memories of Stalin are being revived. Precisely about Stalin and not about Lenin” because for the Putin regime, “after the unmasking of the Stalin cult of personality, Lenin was the symbol of ‘a good communist.’” From all available evidence, he says, “the present-day rulers of Russia cannot agree with this image of the humanist leader because the real Lenin was never a humanist. They need Stalin because Stalin was an all-powerful ruler and someone that led the entire world to fear Russia. Putin wants that both his own and outsiders fear him.” Despite the historical record of Stalin’s crimes, Putin’s promotion of a cult of the late Soviet dictator has become ever more hyperbolic with each passing year, Portnikov says, and “every Victory Day is becoming a step toward the return of Stalin to the pedestal and to the rebirth of total Chekist power and the fear of the world toward Russia’s unpredictability.” “The civilizational divorce of Ukraine and Russia,” Portnikov argues, “to a large extent is driven not by the fact that one country is striving to become part of present-day Europe while the other is returning to medieval Asiatic values and practices. Instead, it is drive by the fact that Ukrainians have turned away from Lenin while Russians are returning to Stalin.”The Last Lenin in Kyiv and the eternal Russian StalinIn the Ukrainian capital dismantled last statue of Lenin. The final disappearance of the pedestal Bolshevik leader coincided with the decision of the European Council to grant Ukraine visa-free regime with the EU. For me it is not just a coincidence. I have not seen any European country – neither the old nor the new Europe – in which Lenin would determine the landscape. Of course, there are countries where the Bolshevik leader treated as a significant foreign policy. But put a plaque Lenin in Switzerland, which did not have to learn what real communism and stand Ghoul monuments in the country, distorted by communism – this is not the same thing. While in Ukraine disappears the very memory of Lenin in reviving the memory of Stalin. It was Stalin, not Lenin. Lenin after exposing Stalin’s personality cult was a symbol of “good communist.” And, apparently, the current rulers of Russia can not agree with this way-humanist leader – because the real Lenin was never humanist. They need Stalin because Stalin is – is the absolute power of the state and fear of the world to Russia. Putin wants to be feared and their own, and others. “The cult of Victory,” which took in the last decade in Russia filthy savage forms that have no relation to the same historical event, largely is linked with attempts to restore Stalin’s historical consciousness of Russians. It is not so easy – simply because not completely destroy the memory of repression. But it is necessary for the country in which there is no vision – just terrible past, who want to be proud of. But the desire is – and so every step of Victory Day is the return of Stalin on a pedestal, to revive the absolute power of the KGB and the fear of unpredictable to the world. To be honest, just for this – and not for the sake of memory – Victory Day Russia’s leadership and need. Civilization divorce Ukraine and Russia is largely due not only to the fact that one country seeks to modern Europe and the other immersed in medieval Asiatic. But the fact that the Ukrainian refuse Lenin, and Russians turn to Stalin. In our case it is more decisive than the Ukrainian hopes for European integration and the Russian chimera Eurasian Union.Stalin Portrait Goes Up At Moscow Subway StationA portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin has been hung at a Moscow subway&nbsp;station in celebration of the 82nd anniversary of the opening of the Russian capital&rsquo;s underground transpor…

Lithuanian Defense Minister: Participants Of “West-2017” Military Exercises To Train Attacks Against NATO – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk Participants of the exercises will simulate offensive actions against Poland and the Baltic countries. The military exercises “West”, which Russia and Belarus will held in September, cause concern because they will be simulating actions against the NATO bloc, Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said. “The fact that these military exercises are really large, but their transparency is really weak, is the main problem today. To put it mildly, it is unpleasant, they simulate attacks against the so-called high-potential countries, and this is the NATO alliance,” – Karoblis said in the program “Nedelia” of the LRT channel, delfi.lt writes. According to him, the participants of the exercises will train offensive actions against Poland and the Baltic countries. “This is not a defensive simulation; it seems to be a simulation of offensive actions against NATO, specifically against the Baltic countries, and, apparently, Poland. Yes, these are intelligence data – both ours and acquired from our allies – first of all, we are talking about exercises, there were no preludes telling about a complete or partial conflict,” – the Defense Minister said. According to him, the biggest risk of the exercises, which can now be seen – possible errors: “local attempts to check vigilance by other means.” In April, the State Security Department of Lithuania (VSD) and the Second Investigation Department under Ministry of National Defense published an assessment of the threats to the national security of the country, according to which Russia, which strengthened its military capabilities in the western part of the country and in the Kaliningrad region, could now begin military operations against the Baltic states within 24-48 hours. Intelligence services also alert to possible provocations on the border during the forthcoming military exercises “West-2017” of Russia and Belarus in September. The Belarusian Defense Minister then said that 13,000 service members would participate in the exercises “West-2017” on September 14-20, and these would be exercises of a defensive nature. According to Lithuanian intelligence, “it is likely that the actual number of participants in the exercise will be greater, and the scenario of the exercises will include an armed conflict with NATO.” Part of the exercises will take place near the Lithuanian border, a lot of Russian military personnel and military equipment will be deployed to the territory of Belarus.

Visit of James Mattis to Lithuania – a Signal for Russia and Belarus – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk The other day the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis visited Lithuania. The Lithuanian political scientist Mariusz Antonovich told Charter97.org what that visit meant for the Baltic States, Belarus and Russia. – In your opinion, what are results of the visit of US Defense Secretary James Mattis to Lithuania? – First of all, the United States once again assure the Baltic states of the fact that they intend to adhere to previous commitments. Moscow also has a signal that any activity against the sovereignty of the Baltic States will face a stiff push-back from Washington DC. – Does the visit of James Mattis mean that concerns about no role of the Baltic region for Donald Trump and his Administration failed? – I think it’s too early to make such a conclusion. Most likely, American institutions and members of the Trump team forced him to abandon isolationism and continue to provide further assistance to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia within NATO. – Does this mean that the region is in the focus of the White House again? – While it is obvious that there is an interest, it is quite strong and will not decrease any more. In turn, increased attention can be expected in case if Moscow begins to pursue a more aggressive policy. – During his visit, Mattis mentioned that the United States were ready to deploy ABM systems on the territory of the Baltic countries. Are Mattias’ words the next signal to the Kremlin or are the US really ready for such a step? – Such a signal would be a bluff without readiness to deploy ABM systems. Both Moscow and Washington DC are aware of it. It is quite possible that some elements of the USA ABM systems will be deployed in our regions amid Russian-Belarusian military trainings West-2017 planned for the end of this summer and the beginning of the autumn. – How can Moscow and Minsk react to this decision? – Moscow, most likely, will use it for its propaganda purposes, in order to demonstrate “hostile” intentions of NATO and to unite the Russian society around the Putin regime. It is possible that Russia will take advantage of this opportunity to implement the long-planned redeployment of military forces in our region. In turn, elements of US ABM systems in the Baltic countries mean increased pressure on Minsk in order to obtain permission to deploy similar Russian ABM systems on the territory of Belarus. I guess the regime in Minsk will try to avoid this, therefore, most likely, we should expect statements from Lukashenka that US ABM systems in the Baltic region do not pose any threat. All this will happen against the backdrop of the alleged neutrality of Belarus.

Tillerson Says Russia Meddled In U.S. Election, No ‘Clean Slate’ With Moscow U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says it is clear that Russia meddled in last year’s presidential election, and that Washington and Moscow will not be able to restart with &quot;a clean slat…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Like Other ‘Local’ Protests, Truckers Strike Greatest Often Where Participation in Elections Was Lowest, New Study Finds Paul Goble Staunton, May 15 – A new study of protests in Russia finds that the long haul truckers’ strike has often attracted the most support in regions where participation in Duma elections was least, an indication that an increasing share of Russians see the systemic parties as not representing their interests and what should be a warning sign to the Kremlin. After all, Forbes commentator Aleksey Firsov says today, groups with “local” agendas, as many protests in Russia are still dismissed, can grow into something more: “the February (1917) revolution, for example, began with a purely local event” (forbes.ru/biznes/344303-rasserzhennye-gorozhane-kak-lokalnye-konflikty-menyayut-obshchestvo). Firsov draws his conclusions on the basis of a new study by the Platform Center for Social Prediction, a research effort that focused not only on the truckers strike but also on the conflicts in St. Petersburg over the fate of St. Isaacs Cathedral, the khrushchoby in Moscow, and protests elsewhere in Russia over a variety of other issues. The fact that many of these protests involve specifically “local” issues is often the basis for dismissing them as marginal or unimportant, he says. But “precisely at the local level are touched most directly the vital interests of people and into the streets go not the opposition but the population in the broad sense of the word.” And because of that, “the main risk is that the consciousness of these people will become mobile and pass out of control” of either officials or opposition leaders. That is what happened a century ago, and it can certainly happen again, Firsov says. The Platform study reached that conclusion because it found that “in practically all zones of heightened societal volatility, the percent of participation in elections was extremely low.” People in these regions clearly have concluded that the government and the systemic parties are out of touch with their needs and interests. Many Russian commentators assume that Moscow, Petersburg and Moscow oblast “have the greatest potential for the reduction of tension by means of social investment, political resources, and controlled media instruments. However,” the Forbes writer, says, “the picture turns out to be exactly the opposite.” There are both objective and subjective reasons for this, he continues. Officials at the regional level often are “quite distant” from the milieu of their regions. This is not just because they come from outside but because they are insulated from the population by Moscow’s concerns and by a local media which is controlled and tells them only what they want to hear. Such leaders are thus not in a position to respond in an adequate fashion to the realities around them. They are deprived of the possibility of “public polemics” and the kind of information and argument that might allow them to adopt more reasonable decisions, albeit ones that reflecting local interests might put them at odds with Moscow. The Platform study found, Firsov continues, that “representatives of the powers that be sincerely believe that the image [they have of their surroundings] is perfectly adequate” because the powers and the media simply echo one another, but that closed system is increasingly ceasing to work effectively. It inevitably tends to deprive those who oppose the powers of their standing, makes dialogue with them impossible, and leaves each side “nothing except to escalate the situation” either by repression on the one hand or mass protests on the other. Under Russian conditions, Firsov points out, there is always “a third component” – Moscow. Both sides in these disputes look to the center as an arbiter. Sometimes the center gives clear signals, but often it doesn’t. And in that event, each side in “local” conflicts has to make a guess as to what is possible. “The external passivity of the center,” he writes, “is not always a manifestation of a lack of decisiveness: behind it may stand the practice of administering conflicts which allows for the testing and controlling of the regional powers that be.” Moreover, “such conflicts give it the chance to keep dissatisfaction at the local level” rather than having it spread more widely. But participants in “local” protests, be they the long-haul truckers or anyone else, are changed by that experience, Firsov says. They cease to view themselves as the subjects of policy either regional or central but as actors who should have a say. That will change the system or possibly lead to its demise. The Russian media today featured two other significant reports about the long-haul truckers’ strike. In the first, news outlets in Chita report that the long-haul truckers of the Transbaikal formed their own section of the Russian Carriers Union and elected its leadership (chita.ru/news/101622/). And in the second, the online newspaper Yakutia provided additional details on the First Congress of Long-Haul Truckers of Sakha which took place just over a week ago. The Internet paper made it clear that despite the efforts of officials, driver anger at the Plato system was at the center of the congress sessions (gazetayakutia.ru/kilometry-problem/). But perhaps even more important than the drivers’ opposition to the Plato fee system – the name “Plato” comes from a combination of the Russian words “pay per ton” – was the fact that the drivers in Sakha insisted that the Moscow rule completely ignored the conditions under which they must operate, thus adding another regional dimension to their protest.

The Kremlin Is Worried Attacks on Opposition Leaders Are Making Them More Popular – To Inform is to Influence Days after opposition leader and presidential candidate Alexei Navalny was again doused with green antiseptic on his way to an event in Moscow, the news website Gazeta.ru reported that the Kremlin had instructed regional authorities to crack down such attacks in the future. Gazeta.ru quoted a source in the Kremlin as saying that attacks on Navalny and other oppositioners with…

Russian Police Ban Navalny From Moscow Home Owners’ Protest Russian police forced opposition leader Aleksei Navalny to leave a May 14 protest against the planned demolitions of residential buildings in Moscow. Definitely thousands — but possibly tens of thousands — of people took to the streets to protest the proposed removal of Soviet-era prefabricated housing blocks popularly known as “khrushchyovki.” Backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin plans to knock down up to 8,000 dilapidated buildings and resettle their 1.6 million tenants in new homes. Opponents say the program, due to start in September, is an assault on their property rights. (RFE/RL’s Russian Service)

Clapper notes ‘curious pattern’ of Russian deaths – To Inform is to Influence In probably the most “Captain Obvious” statement – ever – former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper is drawing mainstream attention to the pattern of Putin political opponent deaths.  Of course, Russia will always claim ‘prove it’. Of course, Russia will always demand ‘show us the evidence’.  Of course, Russia will deny, deny, deny. Of…

There Are More Ethnic Ukrainians Than Ethnic Russians in Russia – To Inform is to Influence Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting. Russia is more Ukrainian than Rus.  Consider this – 144,498,215 (RF population) x 0.192 (Genotek percentage Ukrainian DNA) = 27,743,657.28 ethnic Ukrainians in Russia.  Russia’s  population is in a severe decline, with its population projected to shrink to 100 million by the year 2100.  Of that, there will be…

How Russia and China Would Wage War Against America: Kill the Satellites – To Inform is to Influence The United States has information dominance because of a network of satellites, enhanced by landlines and cables.   Taking out the satellites would severely diminish, but not destroy, US military, corporate, and civilian communications.  The information and data flow around the world are being targeted by Russia and China, of this we are positive as…

Russia’s New Arctic Ice Breaker Has One Very Special Feature: Anti-Ship Missiles and Naval Guns – To Inform is to Influence Robert Beckhusen May 14, 2017 Russia has by far the largest icebreaker fleet in the world with a total of more than 40 publicly and privately owned, including six nuclear-powered icebreakers all capable of punching through Arctic sea ice. It’s also building new ones after a delay of more than four decades, launching the 33,500-ton Arktika in June 2016 and preparing to introduce the 6,000-ton Ilya Muromets into service in fall 2017. After that, Russia will introduce the 7,000-ton Ivan Papanin, or Project 23550. Except one important addition will be two Kalibr-type anti-ship cruise missiles and a 76-millimeter AK-176MA naval gun in a turret designed to provide a low radar cross-section. While it’s simple enough to give sailors a shoulder-fired anti-air missile or small arms, an icebreaker with dedicated weapon—more akin to a destroyer—is a little unusual. It’s not unheard of. The Norwegian Coast Guard’s 6,375-ton icebreaker Svalbard, while small compared to the largest icebreakers, is Norway’s biggest military ship and carries a 57-millimeter Bofors cannon. Concept art of Ivan Papanin bears a close resemblance to Svalbard, and could very well be inspired by it. Canada’s upcoming Harry DeWolf-class icebreakers are close facsimiles of the Norwegian ship. Russia’s enormous nuclear-powered icebreaker Sibir, which served from 1978 to 1992, was also once photographed with a deck gun. Icebreakers have taken on strategic importance as declining sea ice due to global climate change promises to open up vast reserves of oil in an area with a jumble of maritime boundaries and competing claims.


IW/IO/Cyber Reports


Microsoft calls to end government-secret hacking techniques – To Inform is to Influence By Joe Uchill – 05/14/17 08:48 PM EDT 1 On the heels of a historic ransomware attack that may have used leaked NSA hacking methods, Microsoft is calling for governments to cease stockpiling secret means of bypassing software security. “Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread…

Microsoft ransomware attack made possible by stolen NSA code – Crikey Responsibility for the global ransomware attack underway rests with an intelligence community that recklessly stockpiles software flaws for their own use.

Ransomware: Microsoft can no longer claim to be ‘proactive’ – To Inform is to Influence 14 May 2017 Written by  Sam Varghese Microsoft’s reaction to the Windows ransomware crisis that occurred on Friday and Saturday has shown one thing: no longer can the company continue to use the business buzzword “proactive” when it talks about itself. It was caught unawares and left looking very old and tired in the way…

Russia, This Time the Victim of a Cyberattack, Voices Outrage – To Inform is to Influence During the attack, I noticed a huge number of attacks occuring in Russia. I was honestly shocked that nobody was drawing attention to what appeared like an undue concentration of attacks in Russia over any other country.  That the UK appeared the main target was either a matter of reporting, a distraction, or a mistake. …

Cyber-attacks from WannaCry ransomware slow but fears remain – BBC News Europe and Asia record fewer WannaCry ransomware attacks, as the hunt for the perpetrator continues.

The era of cyber-disaster may finally be here – The Washington Post This time it’s for ransom, but future attacks could have much bigger stakes.

Prove it: Why Russia has once again “found” Ukraine arming terrorists – To Inform is to Influence Russia is making yet another attempt to blame Ukraine for illegal supplies of weapons to terrorists.  On the eve of the 13th International Defence Exhibition “IDEF-2017” in Istanbul, Russia has made yet another attempt to blame Ukraine for illegal supplies of weapons to terrorists. The allegations are made while Turkey and Ukraine have been reviving their…

Russia’s ‘Penicillin’ Anti-Artillery System Suppresses Fire in Five Seconds Flat – To Inform is to Influence This message brought to you by the same people who said the entire USS Cook system was taken offline by one aircraft in 2014, and again in 2015.  By the same people who said, “one bomb” can disrupt the electronics of the entire United States. By the same folks who have made countless outrageous claims…

Czech Girl Scout Who Stood Up to Neo-Nazi Is Internet Hero – To Inform is to Influence The powerful image was captured at the rally of an extreme-right movement held in Brno, Czech Republic, on May Day Photo by Vladimír Čičmanec by Elizabeth Haas Published 03.05.2017 Last updated 04.05.2017 What will be the most remembered/shared photo of 2017? Last year that photo was possibly the image of a bloody, dusty Syrian boy awaiting…

Warren Buffet: Cyber ‘No. 1 problem with mankind’ – Fifth Domain | Cyber Fifth Domain is a news and information resource that brings civilian, defense, industry, private sector and critical infrastructure stakeholders together in one place for a holistic discussion on cybersecurity, both defense and offense. The cyberwar is here. Fifth Domain has it covered.


We must be better than mudslinging and propaganda – To Inform is to Influence Ryan Stagg, of the Bozeman, Montana’s Bozeman Daily Chronicle, you are my hero.  The New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, and many other long-established “newspapers” have called for a return to ‘good journalism’, but remain strongly biased in their reporting, their editorials are blatant smear jobs, beginning with their headlines, and continuing…

Information Warfare Versus Soft Power – To Inform is to Influence JOSEPH S. NYE Joseph S. Nye, Jr., a former US assistant secretary of defense and chairman of the US National Intelligence Council, is University Professor at Harvard University. He is the author of Is the American Century Over? MAY 9, 2017 CAMBRIDGE – Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, and its suspected hacking…

Foreign policy: The fog of wars | The Economist RUSSIA HAS NO intention of going to war with America or its allies.

Majority of Americans – Except for Republicans – Back Congressional Inquiry; Survey Shows 30-Year Lows for Russia’s Favorability | Chicago Council on Global Affairs Americans Support Congressional Inquiry into Russian Hack

Soft Power 30The Russian “Firehose of Falsehood” Propaganda Model We characterize the contemporary Russian model for propaganda as “the firehose of falsehood” because of two of its distinctive features: high numbers of channels and messages and a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions. In the words of one observer, “[N]ew Russian propaganda entertains, confuses and overwhelms the audience.” the_soft_power_30 (Download .pdf)


Ukraine Reports


Poroshenko insists on UN peacekeepers deployment in Donbas Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko insists on the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces in occupied Donbas, according to an UNIAN correspondent. Latest UNIAN news from 14 May.

EU into extension of sanctions against Russia – Klimkin Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has announced the foreign ministers of the European Union countries who participated in a meeting of the EU Informal Group &quot;Friends of Ukraine&quot; supported the extension of sanctions against Russia. News 15 May from UNIAN.

Russian secret services make systemic efforts in Ukraine, – Security Service Head Hrytsak 15.05.17 11:17 – Russian secret services make systemic efforts in Ukraine, – Security Service Head Hrytsak The secret services of the Russian Federation monitor issues in Ukraine and region to find bases for provocations. View news. 

SBU chief: Russia infiltrates agents into Ukrainian patriotic organizations Chief of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Hrytsak says Russia recruits members of Ukraine’s patriotic organizations and Russian agents are infiltrated into them, according to an UNIAN correspondent. News 15 May from UNIAN.

Russian troops shelled Ukrainian positions 49 times yesterday, used mortars, grenade launchers, IFV weapon, – ATO HQ 15.05.17 10:28 – Russian troops shelled Ukrainian positions 49 times yesterday, used mortars, grenade launchers, IFV weapon, – ATO HQ The situation in the east of Ukraine, where government troops conduct the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) against separatists, remained tense but stable over the past 24-hour period. View news.

Ukraine updates on Donbas war: 49 attacks, 6 WIA’s in last day Russia’s hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 49 times in the past 24 hours with six Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 15 May from UNIAN.

Ukrainian marines repulse attack by Russian militants. VIDEO 15.05.17 15:18 – Ukrainian marines repulse attack by Russian militants. VIDEO Russian hybrid troops continue attacking and shelling Ukrainian marines’ positions at the frontline. View video news.

OSCE: “DPR” members instructed to deny SMM passage | UNIAN The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine has said the members of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (&quot;DPR&quot;) are instructed to stop SMM patrols and deny their passage unless they are on &quot;planned routes.&quot; News 15 May from UNIAN.

China to repair collapsed bridge in Kyiv and build new one near Kremenchuk Ukrainian delegates led by First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Stepan Kubiv and China Road and Bridge Corporation’s management have agreed in Beijing on the reconstruction of Kyiv’s Shuliavsky overpass and the construction of a bridge near the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk, according to the Ukrainian government’s portal. News 15 May from UNIAN.

Poroshenko ready to amend Constitution for Crimean Tatar autonomy in Crimea Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says the Ukrainian authorities should have ensured the status of Crimean Tatars’ autonomy long ago and claims he is ready to propose respective amendments to Ukraine’s Constitution, the presidential press service said. News 15 May from UNIAN.

Visa-free regime with EU giant step toward Europe – Poroshenko A visa-free regime with the EU provides Ukrainians with much more opportunities than just a simplified travel to the Schengen Area. It is an assertion of human freedom and independence of our state, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said during his press conference. News 14 May from UNIAN.

Poroshenko: Ukraine’s heading on European and Euro-Atlantic integration remains invariable Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko emphasizes that Ukraine is not only on the home stretch of the visa-free regime, but also looks forward to completing the ratification of the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement, the presidential press service reported. News 14 May from UNIAN.

Poroshenko congratulates Ukrainians on Europe Day | UNIAN Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took part in a solemn ceremony of hoisting the EU flag on the occasion of Europe Day in Ukraine, according to the president’s press service. News 14 May from UNIAN.

Poroshenko thanks Eurovision 2017 organizers, hosts | UNIAN Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has met with the organizers and hosts of the Eurovision Song Contest and thanked them for the successful organization of the event, according to the presidential press service. News 15 May from UNIAN.

Fireworks, feelings, and fraught relations at Eurovision 2017 As always, Eurovision 2017 blended pop and politics. Russia was missing from the Ukrainian-hosted contest, and the UK had healing words, post Brexit.

Ukraine Detains Eurovision Prankster Ukraine’s interior minister says police have detained a notorious prankster who jumped onto the stage during the Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv and bared his buttocks as a Ukrainian singer wa…


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


Trump set for tense meeting with Turkey after ISIS decision | TheHill Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will come to Washington on Tuesday. President Trump could be headed for a testy meeting with Turkey’s leader next week now that the United States has decided to arm a group of Kurdish fighters in Syria. What could have been an opportunity for both leaders to make good on promises to mend relations was thrown into doubt when Trump approved a Pentagon plan to arm Kurdish fighters known as the YPG in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Turkey considers the YPG to be a terrorist group. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will come to Washington on Tuesday having vowed to persuade Trump to change his mind, putting the future of relations with a NATO ally on uncertain footing. “This will be the dominant issue in the meeting,” said James Jeffrey, a former ambassador to Turkey now at the Washington Institute. “The Turks see the presence of a YPG statelet in the north of Syria that has been given one way or another support or legitimacy by the United States as a threat.”

Erdogan visits Trump, amid much friction between US, Turkey – The Washington Post The United States is on a collision course with its NATO ally Turkey, pushing ahead with arming Syrian Kurds after deciding the immediate objective of defeating Islamic State militants outweighs the potential damage to a partnership vital to U.S. interests in the volatile Middle East.

Putin says Russia sees no need to arm Syrian Kurds | Reuters President Vladimir Putin said on Monday that Russia saw no need to arm the Syrian Kurds, but said Moscow would maintain working contacts with them.

British, Turkish Governments Green Light TF-X Development Work | Combat Aircraft content from Aviation Week Turkey’s fighter will be twin-engine, but the choice of a powerplant has not yet been made.

Israel to Deploy 10,000 Police for Donald Trump Visit The U.S. president will travel in a convoy of 56 vehicles including 13 limousines.


DPRK / PRC Reports


President Moon calls for stern response to North Korean ballistic missile launch : North Korea : News : The Hankyoreh

[News analysis] North Korean missile launch presents early challenge to President Moon : North Korea : News : The Hankyoreh

North Korea: Kim Jong-un ‘in state of paranoia’, says US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley | The Independent North Korea, defying calls to rein in its weapons programme, fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia on Sunday, days after a new leader in South Korea came to power pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue. The U.S. military’s Pacific Command said it was assessing the type of missile that was fired but it was “not consistent with an intercontinental ballistic missile”. The U.S. threat assessment has not changed from a national security standpoint, a U.S. official said.

Haley says US will ‘tighten the screws’ on North Korea, after recent missile test | Fox News U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday that America and its international partners will continue to “tighten the screws” on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who this weekend fired another ballistic test missile in pursuit of a cross-continent nuclear weapon.

In testing missile, North Korea challenges South’s new leader – Chicago Tribune SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Just five days after South Korea elected a president who expressed a desire to reach out to North Korea, Pyongyang sent a challenge to

Did Russian Air Defenses Fail Again? – To Inform is to Influence North Korea launched another missile — and it landed close to Russia Of course, this report has a strange twist.  Russia denies the North Korean missile landed near Russia.  Russia denies the Pentagon’s report that the North Korean missile fell close to its borders UAWire 15:03 The missile launched by North Korea on Sunday night landed…

N. Korea again accuses Seoul, Washington of planning terror attack on Kim Jong-un North Korea again accused the spy agencies of South Korea and the United States on Thursday of plotting a terrorist attack on its leader Kim Jong-un.

North Korea summons UK’s envoy over plot to kill Kim Jong un | World | News | Express.co.uk NORTH Korea has reportedly summoned Britain’s ambassador after claiming “heinous terrorists” have entered the country armed with a “biochemical substance” in a bid to assassinate Kim Jong-un.

Launching missiles is not the path to talks with the U.S., Haley tells North Korea – The Washington Post Analysts say North Korea appears to have tested a new kind of missile with a longer range.

North Korea Says Launch Was New Type Of Missile, Warns U.S. North Korea claimed that it has successfully tested a new type of mid-range to long-range missile, and warned the United States that it is in its &quot;sighting range&quot; for a strike. Th…

Kim Jong-un set to open luxury themepark for tourists in famine-stricken North Korea | Daily Star KIM Jong-un is spending a fortune to turn North Korea into a tourist hot spot.

Is Kim Jong-un cutting back on public executions for fear of growing unrest in North Korea? North Korean authorities are reportedly conducting fewer public trials and executions of citizens accused of infringements such as attempting to defect, apparently out of concern that &quot;brutal&quot; treatment could trigger a wave of public resentment.

North Korea blights China’s One Belt, One Road party with missile launch – CNN.com North Korea’s missile launch Sunday came at a highly embarrassing time for China, its chief ally and economic partner.

China has designs to spread money and influence across the world — India isn’t having it India has indirectly criticized one of China’s flagship policy programs as the two nations seek to assert their power in Asia.

Xi Jinping Positions China at Center of New Economic Order – The New York Times Mr. Xi pledged more than $100 billion for development banks in China that he said would spearhead vast spending on infrastructure across Asia, Europe and Africa.

Xi Jinping rolls out global welcome mat for new Silk Road grand plan | South China Morning Post Beijing-led trade initiative ‘in line with interests of all countries’, Chinese president says

Behind China’s Silk Road vision: cheap funds, heavy debt, growing risk | Reuters Behind China’s trillion-dollar effort to build a modern Silk Road is a lending programme of unprecedented breadth, one that will help build ports, roads and rail links, but could also leave some banks and many countries with quite a hangover.

China: Xi Jinping Touts ‘One Belt, One Road’ at Summit | Fortune.com Xi pledged $124 billion to the initiative—part of China’s global ambitions—aiming to expands links between Asia, Africa, Europe and beyond.

China’s new Silk Road, One Belt One Road project has one major pitfall for African countries — Quartz China’s campaign to build a massive network of land and sea links connecting Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa is expected to benefit the African countries along the route. Chinese companies will spend at least $1 trillion on roads, ports, and other updates to infrastructure in more than 60 countries that make up the “One Belt, One Road.” China has already financed and built a…


China in the World – 2017 CIW Annual Lecture – CIW – ANU Australian Centre on China in the World. The Australian Centre on China in the World (ciw) enhances the Australian National University’s existing capabilities to create an integrated, world-leading institution for Chinese Studies and the understanding of China on a global scale.

China’s economic leverage: perception and reality – National Security College – ANU National Security College Options Paper No 2

China capitulationism – Policy Forum In a recent public lecture, ANU Professor Hugh White set out his views on what China’s 21st Century dominance will mean for Australia. In doing so, he neglected to think deeply about both China itself, and the difficult moral questions its rise will force Australia to answer, Clive Hamilton writes.


Foreign Policy Reports


Former U.S. ambassador to NATO discusses Russia, globalization – To Inform is to Influence Alan Perez, Reporter May 14, 2017 Ivo Daalder, former U.S. ambassador to NATO, discussed U.S. foreign affairs and said NATO is returning to its original mission of deterring the Russians during an event Friday. “The fundamental raison d’être, the NATO 1.0 reason for NATO existing, is back with a vengeance,” Daalder said. Daalder, who served…

France’s Macron takes power, vows to heal division, restore global status | Reuters Baptiste Vey

Victory in state vote shows Germany’s Merkel on course to retain power | Reuters German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives defeated the ruling Social Democrats (SPD) in a key state election on Sunday, exit polls showed, boosting their hopes of retaining power in September’s national vote.


US Domestic Policy Reports


Can Trump’s Defense Department Get More For Less? – Defense One If the administration’s version of defense reform is to succeed, it must focus on a few key principles.

Articles: Russian Hacking and Collusion: Put the Cards on the Table The notion that Russia interfered in the election to help Donald Trump was a John Brennan/James Clapper confection created in an unorthodox way, and defied logic, given that Hillary and her associates had far closer connections to Russia than Trump or his associates did. John Merline writes at Investor’s Business Daily:

More indications Intel assessment of Russian interference in election was rigged | Fox News On January 6, 2017, the U.S. Intelligence Community issued an “Intelligence Community Assessment” (ISA) that found Russia deliberately interfered in the 2016 presidential election to benefit Trump’s candidacy.

Is America preparing for Russia’s next onslaught? | TheHill As then-Director Comey warned, if we don’t stop this now, they will do it again. The question is, who is the next Hillary Clinton? Will they target lawmakers who seek to end the attacks? Who espouse policies that stand up to Russian aggression? Or anyone who is for a strong and united Western alliance to thwart Vladimir Putin’s plans? Also, potentially at risk next time are our voter registration systems and databases, and the integrity of our voting machines. Since we’re giving them free rein, they can afford to play the long game and cheerfully meddle in our elections and spread disinformation in an attempt to undermine voters trust in our democracy and democratic institutions. It’s crucial to note that at the time of the attacks in France, Emmanuel Macron had a sizable lead over right-winger Le Pen in the polls. He was fully expected to win, and ended up doing so easily. But the reasons for the Russian attacks both in France and here go far beyond merely affecting the outcome. The Russians persist in their interference because, win or lose, they stand to gain simply by chipping away at the credibility of free elections and undermining leaders like Macron or Hillary Clinton, who have the guts to stand up to Putin’s thuggery. Like most everyone, the Russians fully expected Hillary Clinton to win in November. Their attacks on her were meant to undermine both her coming presidency, and the institutions of democracy itself. That’s their ultimate goal—to destroy the democracies whose existence is the biggest threat to Putin-style authoritarian rule. As Americans, we ALL have a stake in that democracy, and an obligation to insist that our elected officials properly investigate and take action to end these attacks that threaten us all.

Russian Election Meddling ‘Well Documented,’ Tillerson Says – Bloomberg Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election has been “well documented,” but it’s still in the interests of the U.S. to attempt to improve relations with Moscow, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.

 

 

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