Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 18 May 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Reports on Baltic and Alaska aerial harassment by Russian aircraft. Inozemtsev analyses Russia’s return to Tsarist Era confrontation with the West, while Shchemelinin discusses the covert effort to replace Soviet with Tsarist Imperial symbology. This is coherent with the observed “medievalisation” of Russian society – if Iran could return to the medieval in 1979, why can’t Russia do the same in 2017?  Goryunova details the campaign to remove Crimea from public discourse in Russia, as it is now a liability and embarrassment, while Inozemtsev restates a Ukrainian observation from 2014, that Russia cannot allow Ukraine to succeed as it would prove that Russia could also modernise to Western values, challenging public acceptance of the kleptocratic status quo. Eight articles on the ongoing internal social meltdown. Russia buying up U.S. Treasury bonds, while the “Pivot to China” stagnates due to Putin’s failure to fix a broken Russian industrial base. Arestovich predicting a Russian occupation of Belarus, under the pretext of Zapad-2017, and annexation of Donbass, the intent of which is to boost Putin up for the 2018 election.

A dozen reports on IO/IW, fake news and cyber, especially Russian involvement in cybercrime.

Ukraine finally legislates to stop the use of the Russian Orthodox Church in Ukraine as a tool of state policy, overdue for three years, given the consistent use of the church to attack the Ukrainian Orthodox church and state and to support Russian operatives. Jensen survey of the Russian C3 system in Donbass is comprehensive, detailed, and wrongly labels Russian proxy elements as  “separatists”. Great explainer on social media ban by Shamanska @ RFE/RL, while HRW for reasons unknown support the Russian use of social media to attack Ukraine. Russian MH17 radar tapes released, Dutch suggesting they may have been doctored to add more radar tracks. Donbass fires continue, while Nemtsova pens excellent story about how the Russian bombardment of Avdiivka orphaned two children, then uses the article to blame Ukraine and POTUS (like Bershidsky, she seems to dislike Ukrainians almost as much as Putin). Zgurets essay on defense industry collaboration with Turkey is most interesting. Kharkiv LGBT attack may have been organized by the Russians.

Most interesting Syria topic is Saudi media claim that Russia is to deploy 60,000 troops with Caucasus Muslim backgrounds into Syria, yet to be confirmed independently. POTUS visit to Saudi Arabia. US to supply 159 MH/UH-60 Blackhawks to Afghanistan as aid.

Many DPRK articles of interest, especial AW&ST tech summary of Hwasong-12 performance. Russia appears to be actively playing the DPRK situation to damage the US position. Some excellent restored colorized Korean War photography.

In the US, the Section 809 Panel acquisition report has been released, echoing points acquisition reformists have argued to no avail for decades – slow overpriced procurements aid the enemy. Domestic Russia debates increase in toxicity.


Russia / Russophone Reports


Former Top U.S. Officials Call For New Sanctions, More Aggressive Action On Russia WASHINGTON — The United States should impose new sanctions and move more aggressively to &quot;shape Russian thinking&quot;&nbsp;in response to Moscow&rsquo;s actions in Ukraine and elsewhere, forme…

David Cenciotti » Russian Su-24 Fencer Combat Aircraft (Closely Watched By Swedish JAS 39 Gripen Jets) Buzz Dutch Navy Frigate In The Baltic On May 17, two Russian Su-24M Fencer attack jets flew quite close to the Royal Netherlands Navy Frigate HNLMS Evertsen, operating in the Baltic Sea. The two unarmed aircraft, escorted by Swedish JAS-39 Gripen jets in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert), come within 200 meters of the ship. This time the Dutch Navy has claimed “the passage wasn’t a threat to the ship.” Indeed, HMLMS Evertsen is one of the four De Zeven Provinciën-class highly advanced air-defense and command frigates in service with the Dutch Navy. It is specialised in the anti-air warfare equipped with a long-range surveillance SMART-L and the APAR multi-function radar. The warship is equipped with 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles launched by the Mk41 VLS (Vertical Launch System), for point defence; and 32 SM-2 Block IIIA, area defence missiles: a heavily armed warship that could probably counter the Su-24 threat pretty well. This time the Dutch Navy has claimed “the passage wasn’t a threat to the ship.” Indeed, HMLMS Evertsen is one of the four De Zeven Provinciën-class highly advanced air-defense and command frigates in service with the Dutch Navy. It is specialised in the anti-air warfare equipped with a long-range surveillance SMART-L and the APAR multi-function radar. The warship is equipped with 32 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles launched by the Mk41 VLS (Vertical Launch System), for point defence; and 32 SM-2 Block IIIA, area defence missiles: a heavily armed warship that could probably counter the Su-24 threat pretty well.

Alessandro “Gonzo” Olivares and David Cenciotti » Dissecting The Latest Close Encounter Between U.S. F-22 Raptors And Russian Su-35S Flankers Off Alaska On the night of May 3, 2017, two Russian nuclear-capable Tu-95MS Bear bombers, this time escorted by two Su-35S Flanker-E jets, flew again inside the Alaskan ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone). The “mini” package was intercepted by two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors some 50 NM to the south of Chariot, Alaska. The Su-35 is a 4++ generation aircraft characterized by supermaneuverability. Although it’s not stealth, it is equipped with a Irbis-E PESA (Passive Electronically-Scanned Array) and a long-range IRST – Infrared Search and Tracking – system capable, (according to Russian sources…) to detect stealth planes like the F-35 at a distance of over 90 kilometers. The Su-35S was deployed at Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia in Syria at the beginning of 2016, to provide cover to the Russian warplanes conducting raids in Syria in the aftermath of the downing of a Su-24 Fencer by a Turkish Air Force F-16. During the Syrian air war the aircraft carried Vympel R-77 medium range, active radar homing air-to-air missile system (a weapon that can be considered the Russian counterpart of the American AIM-120 AMRAAM) along with R-27T (AA-10 Alamo-B), IR-guided air-to-air missiles (however, the Flanker E jets escorting the Tu-95s off Alaska, did not carry any weapon.) Shortly after being deployed to Syria the Su-35S started shadowing US-led coalition aircraft: a German Air Force spokesperson explained that the Russian Flankers were among the aircraft used by the Russian Air Force to shadow the GAF Tornado jets carrying out reconnaissance missions against ISIS; a VFA-131 video that included footage from the cruise aboard USS Eisenhower in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, in Syria and Iraq showed a close encounter with what looked like a Su-35S Flanker-E filmed by the Hornet’s AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) pod. Although we have no confirmed reports of “close encounters” between the F-22 and the Flanker in the skies over Syria, what makes May 3 episode particularly interesting is the fact that this was the first time the U.S. Air force Raptors saw the Su-35S near the U.S. coasts. Moreover, it’s worth noticing the “readiness in flight” posture of the stealth fighters. Indeed, according to USAF, the Raptors were “committed” by North American Aerospace Defense Command to intercept the Russian aircraft while already in air patrol not too far away. It’s not clear whether the F-22s were already flying because involved in “Northern Edge”, Alaska’s largest and premier joint training exercise with MOB (Main Operating Base) at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, or the CAP (Combat Air Patrol) was one of the measures introduced to enhance the readiness of the U.S. Air Force Air Defense assets as a consequence of the “unprecedented level activity of Russian bombers” recorded in the last months. Anyway, the American premiere stealth fighters were already flying and thus could be quickly diverted by NORAD to “greet” the Russian package, this time supported by an A-50 Mainstay surveillance plane from distance. The presence of Mainstay and Flanker confirms what this Author has already explained in the previous report about the key factors to take in consideration when planning a long-range strike sortie.

The Morning Vertical, May 18, 2017 ON MY MIND Contrary to popular belief, we’re not reliving the Cold War. Instead, we appear to be reliving an attempt by Russia to reestablish the Holy Alliance. In an insightful piece featured below, Vladislav Inozemtsev argues that the lessons of the mid-19th century are at least as relevant for today’s confrontation between Russia and the West as the 20th-century superpower standoff. According to Inozemtsev, “the adversarial relationship between Russia and the West began over a century before the Cold War” when Russia emerged as the most conservative of the victors in the Napoleonic wars, formed the Holy Alliance with Austria and Prussia, and attempted to be the gendarme of Europe. Then, as now, Russia presented itself as the guardian of traditional values fighting the spread of liberalism. Then, as now, Russia was concerned with suppressing democratic revolutions, crushing rebellions in Poland in 1830-31 and Hungary in 1848-49. And then, as now, when Russia’s antirevolutionary zeal turned much of Europe against it, it appealed to the Orthodox Christian populations of the Balkans. But then, unlike now, Russia has at least the tacit support of two of Europe’s strongest monarchies, Austria and Prussia. Today, it has to settle for the support of Marine Le Pen and Viktor Orban.

Russia’s Cold War Habit by Vladislav Inozemtsev – Project Syndicate Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the US of dragging Russia into a new cold war, in an effort to “realize its general triumphalist idea.” But the current antagonism between the US and Russia is nothing new, and, like past confrontations, it is almost entirely Russia’s fault.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Carrying Out ‘Hidden De-Communization’ of Russia,’ Segodnya Writer Complains Paul Goble Staunton, May 18 – The Russian government is conducting a campaign of “hidden decommunization” of the country, a communist-nationalist commentator for the Segodnya newspaper says, not by renaming places and things given Soviet names in Soviet times but by giving new places and things names taken from the imperial past or elsewhere. Because this effort doesn’t involve the dramatic tearing down of monuments or the renaming of cities as is the case in Ukraine or elsewhere, Konstantin Shchemelinin says, few people in the Russian Federation are aware of just what is going on and what it means for Russians and their country now and in the future (segodnia.ru/content/187862). “At the present time in Russia,” he writes, “decommunization has been carried out partially” even though it began in the early 1990s with the renaming of cities and streets. “But I Ukraine, this process has been completed while in the Russian Federation, it hasn’t. Why,” Shchemelinin asks, “have things worked out this way” and what does that mean? According to him, the blame for this failure of radical decommunization lies with “the extraordinary ethnic diversity of Russia and the absence of a national idea among ethnic Russians.” That has led to “the conservation of the Soviet in Russia” because Moscow wants to call the population civic Russians or “Rossiyane.” “But who are these Rossiyane?” he asks rhetorically. They are not ethnic Russians and they are not Soviet people either.” Instead, what is actually the case, Shchemelinin says is that “Rossiyane [civic Russians] are Soviet people from the USSR.” That is why decommunization began in Russia but didn’t go as far as elsewhere. “In order to avoid the disintegration of Russia on the lines of that of the USSR under conditions of the absence of the Russian people of a national idea,” he continues, “a new super-national community, the Rossiyane, were invented” as “the continuation of the super-national community of Soviet people.” That explains “the popularity of Soviet ideas in present-day Russia (and also in Ukraine and Belarus,” and why their situation is so different from the other former Soviet republics where the peoples and governments have “with varying degrees of success” created “their own nation states.” In them, he points out, “Soviet ideas don’t enjoy popularity.” Despite this reserve of support for Soviet ideas in Russia, the Russian government is carrying out on a constant basis “a hidden decommunization” of the country, by failing to give any new ship or street or city names drawn from the Soviet communist past. Instead, it selects names from the pre-1917 imperial past. “If Russia were the spiritual heir of the Soviet Union” as many think, Shchemelinin concludes, “then there would inevitably appear new names connected with Lenin, monuments to whom at the present time stand throughout Russia.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Doesn’t Want Russians to Continue Focusing on Crimea, Goryunova Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 18 – Vladimir Putin, who exploited Russian euphoria over the Anschluss of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea three years ago to boost his own power, now wants Russians to pay less attention to that region so that they will not be as inclined to complain about the costs to them of that annexation, according to Yevgeniya Goryunova. “Russian euphoria about the annexation of Crimea has significantly weakened under the press of social and economic problems,” the Crimean political scientist says. “The Crimean theme is losing its importance,” and the only aspect of it that Moscow outlets now talk much about is the Kerch bridge (ru.krymr.com/a/28489804.html). In 2014-2015, Putin made “the sacred importance” of Crimea the centerpiece of his speeches, but already by 2016, as the economic crisis in Russia deepened and the costs of the occupation became more obvious, he shifted away from this theme. And by the end of that year, the Kremlin leader mentioned the annexed peninsula only in passing. That both drove and reflected changing Russian attitudes, Goryunova says. On the one hand, “with each passing year,” the share of Russians who believe that Crimea is part of Russia has grown, from 89 percent in March 2014 to 97 percent now, although polls suggest Russians are less confident that the Anschluss has been a good thing for them. But on the other, the share of those who viewed the annexation in a negative way hs grown from 18 percent to 23 percent over the last three years, according to the independent Levada Center surveys, although the Kremlin-linked VTsIOM pollsters say that those opposed, after rising between 2014 to 2016 has fallen this year from 22 percent to 13 percent. Perhaps more important for Putin’s decision to reduce public attention to Crimea are some two other poll numbers. VTsIOM reports that the share of Russians opposed to giving special aid to Crimea has risen from 21 percent in 2014 to 84 percent now, and the Levada Center says that 55 percent of Russians oppose cuts in programs benefitting them to help the peninsula integrate into Russia. “The logic of Russians regarding the peninsula is simple,” Goryunova says: “Crimea is of course ours but we do not want to support it. Let the people there do so on their own.” Russian tourism to the region is down, and Russians clearly are less focused on Crimea than at any time since before the Anschluss. “The single thing which still generates interest among Russians is the construction of the Kerch bridge,” which the Moscow media re treating as a Russian analogue to Soviet projects like the Baikal-Amur Mainline. As long as construction on the bridge is going on, Crimea will get some coverage in Moscow outlets. But Crimea is something Russians think about less and less, the political analyst says; and that will be true even if the Kremlin changes the date of Putin’s re-election to make it coincide with the official annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. After that, the regime clearly hopes, it will become just one more Russian region. According to Goryunova, all this reflects the fact that both domestically and internationally, Putin’s seizure of the Ukrainian peninsula has been “a Pyrrhic victory” at best. The West hasn’t been willing to recognize his action as legitimate, and Russians when they focus on it see only costs rather than benefits. “The Putin regime passionately needs rapid results,” the analyst continues; and “therefore for the Russian leader in this case, the best way out will be to mention Crimea as rarely as possible,” to allow it to recede into the myths of the past as just the “latest” Russian acquisition rather than the unique and special one Putin insisted upon only a few years ago.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Why Putin Can’t Allow Ukraine to Succeed and Why the West Must Make Sure It Does Paul Goble Staunton, May 17 – In the course of a wide-ranging discussion in advance of the release of his new book on Russia now, Moscow economist Vladislav Inozemtsev provides perhaps the most compelling argument yet on why Vladimir Putin will do everything he can to ensure that Ukraine fails in its efforts to become a modern state and why the West must make sure it does. Arguing that Russia at present is not threatened by disintegration and that as a result, the Kremlin may not feel compelled to make major changes in its manner of rule, the commenttor says that Russia may only “begin to change if an attractive example of what such changes could bring were to appear” (znak.com/2017-05-15/ekonomist_vladislav_inozemcev_o_tom_kogda_rossiya_smozhet_postroit_demokratiyu). “Only Ukraine,” he says, could play that role and “’shake up’ Russia;” but it could do so only if it were to be rapidly “transformed into a developed Western country, become a member of the European Union by 2025, and thus become ‘a new Jerusalem’” showing the way to the future for former Soviet republics. But so far, Inozemtsev continues, the Kremlin has been “lucky,” in that in Kyiv, one kleptocrat has replaced another in power while “talented young people flee” and there is “complete stagnation as far as reforms are concerned.” And growing Ukrainian Russophobia which Putin has sponsored by his actions works to the Kremlin leader’s advantage. As a result, for Russians as Putin intends, “Ukraine “has become an example of how not to act – and this is the most powerful factor which in our days strengthens the Russian regime,” the commentator says, adding that in his view, “all the members of the Kyiv council of ministers should be awarded order ‘For services to the [Russian] fatherland’ of various degrees.” At a time when many in Western capitals seem to have grown tired of the Ukrainian crisis brought on by the Russian Anschluss of Crimea and invasion of the Donbass and want to focus on Moscow alone, Inozemtsev’s argument is critical: If the West really wants Russia to change in the ways it says it does, then the West must make sure Ukraine succeeds. That won’t be easy, but the Moscow commentator has performed a useful service by reminding everyone that what is at stake in Ukraine is not just Ukraine and its heroic people but the fate of Russia and much else.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Government Actions Likely to Restart Long-Haul Truckers Strike Paul Goble Staunton, May 18 – Russia’s long-haul truckers who repeatedly stress that they haven’t ended their strike against the Plato fee system but simply taken “a time out” to see how the authorities will respond, may very well restart their labor action after three government moves in the last 24 hours. After a work stoppage of more than five weeks, many truckers have returned to work in order to earn money to support their families; but they and especially their leaders have insisted that this is “a time out” and not the end of the strike (tumenpro.ru/2017/05/18/zabastovka-ne-zakonchena-vzyat-taym-aut-tyumenskie-dalnoboyshhiki-ob-itogah-vserossiyskoy-stachki/). Many have been pleased that regional authorities have begun to negotiate with them and have even shown support for their positions, and they have welcomed statements by senior Russian parliamentarians that the entire Plato system should be reviewed in order to modify or even cancel it. But now that most drivers have returned to work, Russian officials appear to be hardening their positions and both making statements and taking actions that may cause the drivers to renew their work action in the near future. Three such tough responses have appeared in the last 24 hours: First, the Russian transportation ministry has approved and sent to the Duma a draft law that would double fines for those who seek to avoid paying the Plato fees (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=591C449FCD5CB). Second, that ministry’s deputy head has said that any reductions in the Plato system fees will have to be small because of the harm that the truckers do to the highways and the need to raise money to fix the roads (tass.ru/ekonomika/4259216). And third, at least one regional government – in Kaluga – has indicated that it may need to introduce its own Plato system to raise money to fix regional highways that are not currently being supported by Moscow (regnum.ru/news/society/2276412.html). Obviously, it is likely to be far more difficult to restart the strike than it was to get it started in the first place, but such actions will certainly radicalize some truckers who will point to them as clear indications that workers can’t trust the authorities to keep their promises. And that radicalization could lead to increasing politicization of the strike movement as well.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s Promises to Help Company Towns Not Being Kept, Audit Chamber Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 18 – Russian government promises to reverse the decline in company towns [monogorody] where ten percent of the population of the country still lives are not being kept, according to Audit Chamber head Tatyana Golikova. As a result, their economic situation continues to deteriorate and their populations to decline. Indeed, she says on the basis of a survey conducted by her agency, instead of the improvements Moscow had promised, many of these company towns are now in worse shape than ever, with a third of their combined populations now living in places which she described as being “in crisis” (regnum.ru/news/economy/2276432.html). Not only has the central government not done what it promised to do, Golikova adds, but often the data about the monogorody published by Rosstat, the labor ministry and the ministry of industry and trade do not correspond to the facts on the ground that her officials found in surveying 60 of them. According to the Accounting Chamber, the negative processes that attracted the attention of officials earlier have only intensified. Production has fallen, and with it, the populations of many of them. Since 2015, some 50,000 people have fled these cities because the number of workplaces in them has fallen by 288,000, “or almost five percent,” Golikova says. “More than 70 percent of the residents of company towns assess the socio-economic situation in them as ‘unfavorable’ or ‘tolerable with difficulty,” up by 10 percent from the figures in 2015. And “only 7.7 percent of residents” say that the measures local officials have taken are in any way “sufficient.” Golikova says that Moscow needs first of all to better monitor the situation and to devote more planning and resources so that these cities will not die. Their populations must be saved and that can be achieved only by diversifying the economies on which these one-company towns have long been based. The Russian government at present classified 319 population points as monogorody, with just under a third of them being identified as in the most critical condition. There are such company towns in 61 federal subjects with the greatest number being in predominantly ethnic Russian regions like Kemerovo (24), Sverdlovsk (17) and Chelyabinsk (17) oblasts.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Must Stop Making Plans on Basis of Improbable Apocalyptic Predictions, Shelin Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 17 – Both the Russian government and the Russian people routinely make plans on the basis of possible but highly unlikely apocalyptic outcomes, a pattern that keeps tensions high and prevents them from addressing real and far more immediate problems, according to Rosbalt commentator Sergey Shelin. Indeed, there are indications that Russian leaders routinely exploits this pattern to divert attention from current problems, even though its efforts to get Russians to focus on low probability disasters frequently has the effect of causing the leaders themselves to lose focus on what is most critical. In a new post in the wake of predictions by some financial analysts that the ruble may fall from 60 to the US dollar to 500 by 2019, Shelin argues that “the probability that ‘everything will collapse,’ although not equal to zero is too small to be the basis for choosing a strategy of survival” (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2017/05/16/1615544.html). Such predictions, he says, may be either inventions, something “possible but not very probable” or “a real danger for which one must prepare.” Sometimes the most disastrous things do happen, but instead of assuming that they will, Russians should consider just how probable or improbable they are. The ruble certainly could collapse from 60 to 500 per US dollars, Shelin continues. Russia’s dependence on oil hasn’t ended, its production is falling and the central bank may seek to weaken the ruble, although its current leadership has said most recently that it won’t do so (cbr.ru/ec_research/wps/analytic_note_06.pdf). But unless all three things happened at the same time or a worldwide economic crisis unexpectedly hit, it is difficult to see that the ruble would collapse in the way that some are now suggesting and even counting on, given that Russia’s fundamentals now are very much more favorable than they were in 1998. Most likely, Shelin says, the ruble will slowly decline in value but not collapse as these apocalyptic predictions would have it. There will always be those who will make such predictions because they will get the most attention, but it is a mistake for everyone else to ignore other evidence that suggest such predictions are overblown. Only if Russians do that, he suggests, will they have the chance to focus on real problems and real solutions rather than imaginary problems that almost by definition have no solution short of some kind of deus ex machina.

The Daily Vertical: The Pop Star And The Oligarch (Transcript )How nervous are the Kremlin’s loyalists about the new protest mood sweeping Russia? Apparently, according to report this week in Meduza and Dozhd-TV, they’re nervous enough to pay pop star Alisa Vox 2 million rubles to appear in a slick antiprotest music video warning young people to “stay out of politics and give your brain a shower.” How nervous are the regime’s surrogates about opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s ability to persistently harness the protest mood? WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical Apparently nervous enough for Kremlin-connected oligarch Alisher Usmanov, who is suing Navalny for libel, to post a 12-minute video online in which he calls the opposition leader and anticorruption crusader “a loser” and “a scoundrel.” The pop star and the oligarch are just the two latest examples of the Putin regime’s hybrid war against dissent. Teachers across Russia have been warning students about dire consequences for protesting. And, of course, pro-Kremlin vigilante groups have repeatedly attacked Navalny and other opposition figures with the green antiseptic zelyonka. It’s all very thuggish. But it also a bit clumsy and smacks a bit of desperation. Now, this regime is not on the ropes, not by a long shot. But what I call the Crimea drug — the patriotic euphoria unleashed by Putin’s war on Ukraine — is clearly wearing off and a nasty hangover is setting in. And for the first time in years, the Kremlin is losing control of the narrative. For the first time in years, they don’t have a compelling story to tell. For the first time in years, the Putin regime appears to have run out of rationales for why it should rule indefinitely.

Opening Of Navalny’s Election Headquarters In Moscow Postponed Again Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny says he has had to postpone the opening of his election campaign headquarters in Moscow. The opening of the headquarters was originally scheduled for Ma…

Elderly In Vladivostok Complain About Poor Pensions And Rich Leaders Elderly people in Vladivostok were pretty scathing when asked about their pensions, saying Russian leaders were only interested in lining their own pockets. (Current Time TV)

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘If We Called Ourselves Siberians, Moscow Would Tear Us Apart,’ Krasnodar Official Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 17 – Moscow residents are quite free to call themselves Muscovites, Rashit Rafikov, an aide to the governor of Krasnoyarsk kray; but “if we were to try to call ourselves ‘Siberians,’ they would certainly tear us into little pieces,” a reflection of the terminological confusion surrounding nationality issues in Russia today. Rafikov’s comments came at a meeting in Kazan yesterday at which was discussed the latest draft of the new law on state nationality policy that is supposed to be ready for adoption by August 1 and showed that there is more than a little fear about and opposition to the measure as drawn up so far (nazaccent.ru/content/24067-v-kazani-predstavili-proekt-zakona-ob.html). The Krasnoyarsk official spoke for many when he said that “the biggest problem for work on a strategy of state nationality policy in the regions is the lack of an agreed upon terminology for nationality issues. ‘Titular’ nation, ‘aboriginal’ population, and ‘Russian majority’ are understood by each person in his own way. As a result, Rafikov said, “we are forced to conduct unending arguments with lawyers and up until now we have not been hurrying to adopt a strategy for the realization of state nationality policy in Krasnoayrsk kray.” As reported by Nazaccent.ru, the latest draft helps to explain why many non-Russians are concerned. “According to the draft of the conception of the draft law, the goal of state nationality policy of the Russian Federation is the preservation of Russian society as a civic nation in all the multiplicity of its cultures and languages and the creation of conditions for the further development of all nationalities and ethnic communities of the country.” More seriously, the new draft explicitly criticizes what it describes as the past ractice of treating nations and peoples strictly in “an ethnic sense,” something that it suggests inevitably generates a crisis in countries “with a complex ethno-confessional composition of the population” and can lead to their demise as in the case of the USSR. “Contemporary nations,” the draft says, “are to be understood as sovereign civil societies under a common state power,” something most non-Russians and many ethnic Russians will see as a diminution of their standing as nations, despite the drafts statement that state policy will seek to protect “the ethnocultural and linguistic variety” of the Russian population. The draft law goes on to define the civic Russian nation (rossiiskaya natsiya) as “the community of citizens of the Russian Federation of various ethnic, religious, social and other memberships who recognize their historical and civic community and political-legal ties with the Russian state and with Russian [rossiiskaya] culture.” That formulation too is certain to be attacked by ethnic Russians who believe they are representatives of a uniquely Russian [russkaya] culture and by non-Russians who believe that this term, like the Soviet people of USSR times, represents a direct attack on their uniqueness of nations as well.

A Death Foretold? Russian Ministry’s Trophy Hunter Turns Killer Police found a gruesome scene in an apartment on the southwestern edge of Moscow on May 15. The previous evening, a man shot and killed his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter before turning hi…

Russia is buying up US debt – May. 17, 2017 Russia’s holdings of U.S. Treasury bonds rose to $99.8 billion in March, according to recently released Treasury Department data.

Russia’s Reservations About China’s Silk Road – Jamestown By the same token it seems clear that differences over economic issues have continued to remain an Achilles heel of the bilateral relationship with China. It has long been known that the energy relationship has been a troubled one, and Putin was at pains to announce that work on the Power of Siberia natural gas pipeline was moving forward (Kremlin.ru, May 15). But even if Russian sources claim that Russo-Chinese trade will reach $80 billion by 2018, that is unlikely to overcome the gaps—especially as China has just signed a trade deal with the United States, whose political significance is probably greater than its economic importance (RT, May 15). Ultimately it is the sorry state of Russia’s economy and infrastructure—i.e., the legacy of Putin’s misrule—that lies at the heart of Moscow’s inability to exploit its position in Eurasia for its own benefit, either in its own grand designs or China’s (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 24, 2016). And one should not expect Beijing either to rectify that failure or to refrain from exploiting it to its own advantage.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Chechens Displace Daghestanis in North Caucasus Muslim Hierarchy

Paul Goble Staunton, May 17 – The election of Chechen Mufti Salakh Mezhiyev as first deputy head of the Coordinating Center for Muslims of the North Caucasus, the super-Muslim spiritual directorate (MSD) for that region, in place of his Daghestani counterpart who has pulled out of that organization, may seem a small thing. But because it means that the Chechens will again be the dominant player in the Coordinating Center which Ramzan Kadyrov’s father played a key role founding even though Dagehstan has more mosques and mullahs than Chechnya, the usual measure of influence in Russia’s four super-MSDs, this shift is likely to have profound consequences. On the one hand, it means that Chechnya rather than Daghestan will be the dominant player among Muslims in the region, with the other republic MSDs playing a distinctly lesser role. Grozny will be making many of the appointments in the hierarchy and will be the primary negotiator with Moscow. And on the other – and this is almost certainly the more important consequence — it means that the Chechen leader will be in a position to dominate the Islamic community in the North Caucasus and be in a position to mobilize that region’s Muslims against Moscow should anyone at the center try to move against him. The complex chess game involved in the shift of the center of gravity from Daghestan to Chechnya in North Caucasus Islam, two places where Sufism is the dominant form of the faith, over the last 15 years are traced in detail by Artur Priymak in today’s issue of NG-Religii (ng.ru/ng_religii/2017-05-17/9_420_kavkaz.html). Daghestan, it should be remembered, was the site of the North Caucasus MSD when it was established at the end of World War II, and Daghestanis by virtue of their numbers and authority have generally dominated all super-MSD efforts in the region, even when as was the case with the Coordinating Center, others took the lead in forming them. Those moves will be of interest to a narrow group of specialists, but the political consequences of this shift should be noted even by those who have no interest in the political games within the MSDs because they significantly strengthen Kadyrov’s hand at a time when many had been projecting that Vladimir Putin might want to dispense with him.

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U.S. State Department Official Warns Of Russia’s ‘Malign Influence’ In Balkans WASHINGTON — A top U.S. State Department official has warned that Russia is deepening efforts to influence Balkans politics, including encouraging the Serb-dominated part of Bosnia-Herzegovina t…

Russia may charge extra to watch big-budget US films – BBC News Russia says its film industry would benefit if cinema-goers paid more to watch US movies.

Alexei Arestovich | Smooth Occupation of Belarus Expected during Military Exercises West-2017 – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk The Ukrainian authorities ought to understand that the conflict in the Donbas is the part of Russia’s great strategic campaign; the main objective is new agreements with the West. At that, there are a few significant dates for Russia in the war with Ukraine – this autumn it may try to annex the occupied Donbas, in 2020 a new expansion of the Krimea is possible, military expert Alexei Arestovich told in the interview with apostrophe.ua. If to take a look at the situation with Donbas in the near future, this autumn it may drastically change. On upcoming presidential elections in Russia only the image of land collector can save Vladimir Putin. Therefore, he can begin annexation of the LPR and DPR, which will be accompanied by the entry of Russian troops to “protect compatriots.” Then the referendum follows with all that it entails . This scenario is seriously considered by the Russian side. The question is how the Ukrainian government will react when Russian troops march across the border if it has not yet recognized the Donbas as an occupied territory. This greatly reduces opportunities to put pressure on the Russian Federation at the international level. It is also pointless to talk about any responsibility of Putin, even despite his signature under the Minsk Accords. As long as the aggressor remains an observer and guarantor of one of the parties to the conflict, no document will have any impact on him. Now the Minsk Accords have turned into an ordinary paper, a framework agreement, that no one obeys, but it suits everybody. Under current conditions, Ukraine has no way to withdraw from the Minsk Accords, as this will be a blow to the reputation of the Germans and the French, who act as guarantors. Ukraine will simply spoil relations with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is re -elected for the next term. One can withdraw from the agreements if there is an alternative proposal and a unified state policy is formed. Only then will it be possible to avoid an internal political crisis. We do not have a common position, and all proposals for new formats are expressed at the level of the expert community or individual experts and do not have support of international players. If we talk about the time frame of the conflict in the Donbas in the long term, then the second wave of the Russian expansion should be expected by 2020. Russia believes that by this time it will fundamentally change its fighting capacity, deploy additional units on the border with Ukraine. The seizure of Belarus and the preservation of control over Ukraine are fundamentally important for the Russian Federation, since it is a sacred territory the entire historical identity of Russia is built on. During military exercises West-2017, a smooth occupation of Belarus should take place, and this is a threat to the Baltic countries, Scandinavia, Poland and Central Europe. Putin is assured that such a threat will force these countries to make any deal, including exchange, which involves the surrender of Ukraine to guarantee their own security. Russia hopes that its plans will be successful because of Europe’s weak hand. One needs to understand that the Donbas campaign is a strategic game, but not the way to decide who owns Avdiivka Coke and Chemical Plant or Luhansk Thermal Station. This campaign aims at new Yalta Accords, new rules of the game. Therefore, spending a few billion dollars a year to support the war in the Donbas is not the sum that will stop Russia with the potential to realize such global plans. The West is slowly realizing that the conflict in the Donbas is not a showdown within the CIS, but a large-scale campaign. And they are ready to oppose Russia.

Belarus sells weapons worth 1 billion dollars a year In five years, Belarus has doubled its exports of military products, the chairman of the State Military-Industrial Committee, Sergei Gurulev, told reporters. “In five years, the volume of exports has increased exactly twice. Last year, the export amounted to about $ 1 billion. I think that for Belarus this is quite a serious figure, “said Sergey Gurulev. This volume was achieved due to the constant expansion of the market. “Already now we are interacting with 52 countries. With 32 countries, we work at the legislative level in the field of military-technical cooperation. We are widely represented in the CIS, Southeast Asia, South America, Europe, the African continent. Have already reached Australia, the Philippines. We have a good relationship with Indonesia, Malaysia, “he stressed. According to Sergei Gurulev, it is important to work with foreign buyers in a comprehensive manner. “Now it is important to offer not parts of something, but whole complexes. There are a number of countries where we offer these complexes, “said the chairman of the State Military-Industrial Committee. NN.by

Territory of military secrets and corruption. A scandalous story about how Belarus modernized Buk-MB for Azerbaijan On February 9, 2011, Spetstekhnoexport concludes commission agreement No. STE-4-55-D / K-11 with Iskra NPK for the sale of four 80K6M radar stations with the right to independently enter into foreign economic agreements. “Iskra” was obliged to produce, “Spetstekhnoexport” – to find a buyer for products. On June 24, 2011 a contract No. STE-4-43-K / KE-11 was concluded between “Spectexnoexport” and the Belarusian LLC “Technosoyuzproekt” (Minsk) for the manufacture and delivery of four assembly kits of the 80K6M radar. Those that were intended to be part of the modernized “Buk-MB” air defense system for Azerbaijan. However, in the contract it was noted that “the end user of the said military goods is” Tekhnosoyuzproekt. ” Because of this line, the former director of Iskra, Igor Presnyak , tried to attract criminal responsibility . He was charged under part 1 of Art. 333 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of the procedure for international transfers of goods subject to state export control). It is for the fact that the products of Iskra were supplied to Azerbaijan without the permits of the State Export Control Service of Ukraine. April 27 this year, the Shevchenkivskyi District Court of Zaporozhye acquitted Presnyak, who was shining until three years of the colony. Reason: Iskra is a manufacturer, and therefore is not responsible for the fate of the 80K6M radar, which later turned out to be in Azerbaijan. In Belarus, the station was supplied by “Spetstekhnoexport” according to the contract. This, as they say, nuances. Produced by “Iskra” four sets of radar, “Spetstekhnoexport” transferred LLC “Technosoyuzproekt” in August 2012, April 2013 and January 2014. Under the terms of the contract, the manufacturer undertook to carry out commissioning and for 18 months to provide warranty service Radar 80K6M in the country of the final consumer. Consumers turned out to be two, and between them, from December 2012 to November 2014, specialists from Iskra traveled. At least 14 times they had to leave for Belarus and Azerbaijan. A very interesting point, considering that it was not just about commissioning and warranty works. Judging by the verdict in the case of Igor Presnyak, a copy of which is available to the “Belarusian partisan”, massive flaws were revealed during the operation of the radar. And in such quantity that the Belarusian customer presented a complaint on Ukrainian products. In plain language, the radar stations were married. To eliminate the shortcomings, Iskra specialists were sent to Belarus. However, when “Buki-MB” got to the Azerbaijani consumer, then there the SAM because of problems with the radar could not be called battle-worthy. Without such stations, SAMs, figuratively speaking, are blind, without them, that with a finger in the sky poke. Ukrainians had to fly more than once in Baku to eliminate the marriage on the products of the radar 80K6M №№ 12B01, 13B02, 14B03 and P0001. In the materials of the Presnyak case, the list of work performed to eliminate the deficiencies takes several pages. Among them: improvement of software and workplace monitors, replacement of non-working units, cells and cables, broken relays and other radio engineering trifles, improperly installed filters, oil leaks, etc. The price of cooperation The criminal case instituted against Igor Presnyak, general director of Iskra, was just an episode of corruption that has not yet been properly evaluated in court. The scandal broke out in August 2015, when the Security Service of Ukraine suspected the leadership of “Spettechnoexport” in misappropriation of property by abuse of office in a particularly large amount. Within the framework of the criminal case, the investigators required a court decision to seize the necessary documents. The Belarusian partisan has a copy of this decision. It also deals with a contract between Spettechnoexport and Belorussian TekhnoSoyuzproject LLC for the manufacture and supply of four assembly kits of the 80K6M radar for the Buk-MB air defense missile system. The kits were delivered to the customer between August 2012 and May 2015. In turn, “Technosoyuzproekt” paid their full cost in the amount of 27 million 200 thousand dollars. However, as Ukrainian investigators established, there was another mysterious intermediary. It turns out that after fulfilling the terms of the contract with the Belarusians, 14 acts on the work performed to provide agency services in the period 2011-2015 are signed between “Spectechnoexport” and the company “Brasen Development LLP”, registered in Birmingham (United Kingdom). For that, “Spectechnoexport” transferred 3 million 589 thousand806 dollars to the account of the offshore company from the total amount received from Belarus. In the acts it was noted that “Brasen Development LLP” provided services for concluding a contract with Belarusians, coordinated and controlled its execution. At the request of Ukrainian investigators, the Ministry of Taxes and Charges of Belarus reported that “Brasen Development LLP” did not participate in the negotiations for the conclusion of the contract with OOO “Technosoyuzproekt” and did not provide these services. Moreover, through Interpol it turned out that “Brasen Development LLP” was registered on February 25, 2010, that is … after concluding a contract with “Spetstekhnoexport” for the provision of agency services. The company is obviously left, the investigation continues. … Perhaps not all was so scary, the marriage was eliminated, the modernized SAMs stood up for the protection of Azerbaijan’s peaceful sky, but the siege from such cooperation clearly remained. Especially when it came to the prestige of the domestic military-industrial complex and many millions of dollars. It is absolutely unclear why Belarus, having its own developers and manufacturers of radar, decided to support financially Ukrainian competitors. Probably there were reasons. In this part there is also a military secret, as well as at the price of contracts: this is not for the general public. But there are exceptions when the secret becomes obvious? If the Ukrainian court confirms that the money under the contract for the supply of radar for the Azerbaijani “Bukov” was indeed stolen by corrupt officials, it turns out that the Belarusian side has obviously overpaid no extra $ 3.5 million for the country.


IW/IO/Cyber Reports


Russia’s US Social Media Hacking: Inside the Information War | Time.com For many Americans, Russian hacking remains a story about the 2016 election. But there is another story taking shape.

Twisting the WWII narrative – Disinformation Review – To Inform is to Influence New #DisinfoReview from the EU East StratCom Task Force View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward 18 May 2017 *TRENDS OF THE WEEK* Twisting the WWII narrative This last week there were many events across Europe to mark the end of World War II. In pro-Kremlin outlets, significant time was spent on twisting the…

Russia’s Putin blames U.S. cyberspies for global hacking wave – The Washington Post The Russian president insisted that Moscow had “nothing to do” with the malware that has hit businesses and agencies around the world.

White House: Blame cyberattack on hackers, not spy agencies – Fifth Domain | Cyber WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser has a message to those blaming U.S. intelligence agencies for the cyberattack encircling the globe: Don’t point a finger at the NSA. Blame the hackers. Since Friday, malware has infected an estimated 300,000 computers in 150 countries. Users’ files at hospitals, companies and government agencies have been held for ransom. Cybersecurity experts say the unknown hackers used a hole in Microsoft software that was discovered by the National Security Agency. The hole was exposed when NSA documents were leaked online. Brad Smith, general counsel and executive vice president of Microsoft, laid some of the blame with the U.S. government, criticizing U.S. intelligence agencies for “stockpiling” software code that can be used by hackers. “We have seen vulnerabilities stored by the CIA show up on WikiLeaks, and now this vulnerability, stolen from the NSA, has affected customers around the world,” he said.

NATO Takes Aim At Disinformation Campaigns – To Inform is to Influence May 10, 20174:53 AM ET Heard on Morning Edition The NATO alliance is dealing with a new perceived threat: disinformation. Steve Inskeep talks with Janis Sarts of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence about countermeasures. Transcript: STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: The people working on strategies against Russian disinformation include NATO. The North Atlantic Alliance was…

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Gmail Can Now Write Replies For You – To Inform is to Influence Oh, please, please, please tell me it’s soon going to have a feature that says “Thank you for your wonderful advertisement inviting me to visit your website for <an atrociously boring product>. I look forward to unsubscribing from your list and hope you gag on all the crap you send out.  As much as I…

For Russia And U.S., Uneasy Cooperation On Cybercrime Is Now A Mess  A widening U.S. dragnet is picking up more and more Russian computer hackers. Russia’s own dragnet is picking up FSB cyberofficers, including some who once helped the Americans.

Inside the Hunt for Russia’s Most Notorious Hacker | WIRED A mysterious cybercriminal deployed an invincible botnet to steal a fortune from US banks. Then the FBI discovered what else he was after.

Behind The Mystery Of Russia’s ‘Dyre’ Hackers Who Stole Millions From American Business Sherwin-Williams hit in $6.5 million theft at hands of one of Russia’s most mysterious, but profitable, hacking crews, court filing shows. Despite arrests in Russia, sources say the Dyre cybercriminals are still at large.

Why Hardware Engineers Have to Think Like Cybercriminals, and Why Engineers Are Easy to Fool – IEEE Spectrum Scott Borg, head of US cybersecurity unit, says cybercriminals are targeting hardware, and design engineers have to pay attention

‘That’s Ridiculous’: Media Fall For Twitter Hoax That Nobel Winner Alexievich Died An apparent Twitter hoax has duped major Russian and European media into falsely reporting the death of Belarusian author and Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich. Erroneous reports of the Russophon…

FBI finds evidence of collusion. Trump facing impeachment. – Channel 28 News


Ukraine Reports


Window on Eurasia — New Series: New Ukrainian Legislation about Religion Will Finalize Divorce Between Kyiv and Moscow Paul Goble Staunton, May 18 – Two pieces of draft legislation about religious organizations in Ukraine scheduled to be taken up by the Verkhovna Rada today will do far more to complete the divorce between Ukraine and Russia than any other step Kyiv has taken so far. And not surprisingly, Moscow and its agents in Ukraine are aghast. The first draft law gives to parishioners the right to decide on their own whether they want to change from one jurisdiction to another and requires the registration of those believers, two steps that Yekaterinburg commentator Aleksey Shaburov will strike at the foundations of the Moscow Patriarchate’s empire in Ukraine (politsovet.ru/55332-ukrainskiy-urok-dlya-rpc.html). On the one hand, giving parishioners the legal right to change from one jurisdiction to another will allow Ukrainian Orthodox to decide to leave the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and join the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate, something Moscow explicitly forbids without its approval. And on the other, the required census of parishioners will allow for the determination of just how strong each of these jurisdictions is in Ukraine. The Moscow church has more parishes and bishoprics, but the Ukrainian one has larger and more rapidly growing church organizations, something Moscow routinely denies. The second draft law, Shaburov says, “hits the Moscow Patriarchate still more strongly.” It introduces limitations on the activities of churches whose leadership is situated “in ‘an aggressor state.” In the current circumstances, that church is the one subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate. If this bill is passed, he continues, “the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate will be required to get the agreement of the Ukrainian authorities for appointments to senior church positions and for invitations issued to “foreign,” again in this case, Russian, “religious officials.” Further, and still more of a challenge to Moscow, the draft law says that if it is found that a church with headquarters abroad is cooperating with terrorists, “that is, with the LNR and DNR, then, according to Saburov, “that religious organization can be banned,” at least in principle. Such regulations will put before the Moscow Patriarchate’s church in Ukraine a stark choice: “either to live under such restrictions or to seek autocephaly, that is, complete separation” from Moscow. Neither is something that the Moscow church or the Kremlin is prepared to accept as legitimate and inevitable. Yesterday, Patriarch Kirill appealed to foreign leaders the UN secretary general “and even the Pope” to take steps to block Ukraine from adopting these measures. Today, the Moscow media echoed his points (e.g., izvestia.ru/news/708563, izvestia.ru/news/708569, ng.ru/faith/2017-05-18/6_6990_hram.html and stoletie.ru/obschestvo/russkije_v_rassejanii_601.htm). Moscow hardly has the moral right to issue such appeals, Shaburov says. It has invaded Ukraine and no victim of aggression can be expected to tolerate the kind of actions the Moscow church on Ukrainian territory has routinely taken. And Ukraine is doing no more than Russia, a country Ukraine hasn’t invaded, has done with respect to religion. Indeed, the commentator continues, “Ukraine has not done anything that the Russian authorities would not have done,” although Moscow will deny that and many may accept its denials as credible. At the same time, Shaburov says, “it may seem sad that instead of becoming a European country, Ukraine is converting itself into an analogue of the Russian Federation.” But “for Russians, this represents a chance to view itself from the side: We in the eyes of the world in recent years have looked exactly as Ukraine now looks in ours.” That could provide the Moscow Patriarchate with a valuable lesson, the commentator concludes, as could the inevitable consequences for it of becoming too closely integrated in the state machine to serve its religious purposes. Unfortunately, Shaburov says, there is no reason to expect that these lessons will be learned.

Donald N Jensen | Moscow in the Donbas: Command, Control, Crime and the Minsk Peace Process – Center for Security Studies | ETH Zurich Does Moscow have “enormous leverage” over violent separatists in Eastern Ukraine, as US officials have stated repeatedly, or is its influence more limited than it seems? While exploring this question, Donald Jensen looks at 1) the political, security and military relationships between separatist fighters and Russia, and with each other; 2) how these ties have changed over time; and 3) the policy implications of the relationships for the Minsk peace process and NATO.

Anna Shamanska | Unfriended: Why Ukraine Banned Two Of Its Most Popular Social Networks On May 15 Ukraine banned access to some of the most visited websites in the country in what it said was an attempt to protect Ukraine’s information space from Russian propaganda.

Public Sharply Divided Over Ukraine’s Ban On Russian Social Networks President Petro Poroshenko’s blanket ban in Ukraine on several Russian Internet services, including leading Russian-language social networks and a popular search engine, has struck a chord — or a nerve, depending on who you ask.

Ukraine: Revoke Ban on Dozens of Russian Web Companies | Human Rights Watch [[nid:303788 field_ne_alignment=right]] (Kyiv) – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on May 15, 2017, signed a decree banning public access to Russian social media platforms, news outlets, and a major search engine widely used in Ukraine, Human Rights Watch said today. Poroshenko should immediately reverse the ban, which affects such internet platforms as VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, RBC, and Yandex, and take steps to protect freedom of expression and information in Ukraine.

Tanya Cooper | Human Rights Watch Tanya Cooper is Ukraine researcher with the Europe and Central Asia division at Human Rights Watch. She works on issues related to freedom of assembly, association, and expression, LGBT rights and discrimination. Cooper previously worked for Human Rights Watch’s office in Moscow.

Why Ukraine Said ‘Nyet’ to Russian Social Networks – Bloomberg Ukraine knows Russia’s social networks aren’t neutral. But neither are anyone else’s.

Ukrainian Lawmakers Back Ban On Ribbon Embraced As Patriotic Symbol In Russia The Ukrainian parliament has approved legislation introducing fines and potential jail time for people who appear in public wearing a black-and-orange ribbon widely viewed a patriotic emblem in Russi…

Ukraine bans the St. George’s ribbon as a “symbol of Russian aggression” -Euromaidan Press | On 16 May 2017, Ukrainian lawmakers banned the St.George’s ribbon, a controversial emblem of the Second World War used in Russia which many Ukrainians see as a symbol of Russian aggression. The black-and-orange striped ribbon is a state-embraced symbol of military valor in Russia, where it is widely used in commemorations of the 1945 victory over Nazi Germany. For many in Ukraine, however, the ribbon has come to symbolize Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine in a war that has killed a bit under 10,000 and displaced over 1.6 million people.

Ukraine’s Rada refuses to ask NSDC to slap sanctions on Yanukovych, his allies The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has failed to find the needed number of votes to apply to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) for the introduction of personal sanctions against former high-ranking officials, including disgraced ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, and businessmen, according to an UNIAN correspondent. News 18 May from

UNIAN.No Video Link With Yanukovych As Treason Trial Resumes In KyivKYIV — A Ukrainian court has resumed hearings in the treason trial of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, but an expected video link with the fugitive former leader failed to materialize. At the star…

Court proposes three options for Yanukovych to be present during trial, lawyers oppose 18.05.17 12:23 – Court proposes three options for Yanukovych to be present during trial, lawyers oppose On May 18, Obolonskyi district court of Kyiv continues preparation hearing in the case of former Ukraine’s President Victor Yanukovych. View news.

Screenshots of Russian radar released by Dutch prosecutor | What happened to flight MH17? Dutch Public Prosection Service released two high detailled screenshots of what seems to be a recording of Russian Utes-T primary radar taken from the antenna located in Ust-Donetsk. So Dutch Prosecutor has been able to view the radar data supplied to the investigation team. The screenshots show a couple of unknown targets seen as green + signs. One of the targets with label ‘416’ is a Russian drone which was operating near the Ukraine border. As there are many other green + signs, these could indicate thunderstorms or other weather related noise. However it is not sure if ahead of MH17 there was weather which could be shown on radar. Russia stated in a press release these + signs is weather related. If these are weather related, the question arises why a bit more toward the West no + signs are seen. MH17 deviated slightly from course due to weather. This image was taken from the final DSB report. MH17 was returning to the original route so it seems unlikely the three green + signs ahead are reason to deviate for weather.

 


Escalation in Donbas: 5 WIA’s amid 52 enemy attacks in last day  Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 52 times in the past 24 hours with five Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 18 May from UNIAN.

Two Ukrainian soldiers wounded today as militants mortared positions at Pavlopil, Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, Kamianka, Krymske, – ATO HQ 17.05.17 19:11 – Two Ukrainian soldiers wounded today as militants mortared positions at Pavlopil, Krasnohorivka, Avdiivka, Kamianka, Krymske, – ATO HQ Two Ukrainian soldiers have been wounded in 30 attacks committed by combined Russian-separatist troops since the beginning of the day. The anti-terrorist operation (ATO) forces keep full control of the situation and are ready to give the enemy a… View news.

Militants mortar-shelled school in Krasnohorivka, – ATO HQ 17.05.17 20:40 – Militants mortar-shelled school in Krasnohorivka, – ATO HQ A school in Krasnohorivka (the Donetsk region) came under mortar strike committed by the Russian-terrorist troops. View news.

Ukraine, NATO, EU discuss way to counter Russian aggression – Muzhenko Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko says NATO and the EU have offered Ukraine non-standard approaches to counter Russian aggression. News 17 May from UNIAN.

Militants attempt to penetrate Ukraine defense lines near Avdiyivka, fail The Ukrainian government troops successfully repelled the attempt by the enemy subversive group to break through the positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the area of Avdiyivka, TV Channel 24 reports. News 17 May from UNIAN.

Police: Over 500 homes in Avdiyivka damaged by militants since year’s start Over 500 homes &ndash;private houses and flats belonging to civilian residents in the Ukrainian-controlled town of Avdiyivka in Donetsk region &ndash; have been damaged by attacks mounted by Russia's hybrid military forces since the beginning of the year, according to local police. News 17 May from UNIAN.

Anna Nemtsova | The Little Girls Orphaned by Ukraine’s War A happy family picnic turned to tragedy this weekend in Ukraine when a rogue artillery shell killed two mothers in front of their young children.

Ukraine – Turkey: prospects of defense cooperation Ukraine and Turkey have signed several memoranda on cooperation in the defense sector. However, the signing of memoranda is rather a political and diplomatic move yet to become the base for specific agreements, which will set the deadlines and define the share of contribution of both sides. Turkey today is one of Ukraine’s potentially important partners in a number of bilateral projects that are of particular interest for the two countries. First, it’s projects in aerospace industry such as cooperation between Antonov design bureau and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) on the joint manufacture of regional and cargo aircraft. There’s also cooperation expected in the development of UAVs, which Ukraine badly needs in view of a certain technology gap. Secondly, it’s projects related to armored vehicles, especially regarding the potential use of Ukrainian tank engines in the Turkish Altay main battle tanks. Thirdly, there’s manufacturing of ammunition, which also sees prospects of cooperation in the extremely relevant areas of artillery ammunition, detonators and certain types of shells. There are capacities for the production of propellants and other things that can be integrated with the Turkish proposal to manufacture certain products, especially artillery ammunition. This provides for the use of Ukraine’s new defense capacities that can be created to this end. It is important to note that Turkey gained great progress in the development of component framework that is independent of the Americans or Europeans. In fact, it allows us to implement more complex technological projects using the technology that Turkey obtains. Another important area is interaction in communications sphere. Today there remain misunderstandings between defense ministries of Ukraine and Turkey over the use of Turkish radio equipment to equip Ukraine’s mechanized or infantry brigades. The Turkish side offers a pretty good financial credit conditions for such projects and is ready to transfer technology to create modern generation stations. Such proposals for technology transfer to Ukraine have not been brought by the Americans or Israelis, both of whom are also trying to promote such radio stations for the Ukrainian army. Moreover, Israel is different from the Turkey because as the hostilities started in Donbas, Israel ceased delivery of UAVs Ukraine so badly needed. So cooperation with Turkey looks promising. Although it also is quite complicated due to the fact that the increasing combat prowess of Turkey raises concerns of some developed countries. On the other hand, countries that are beginning to look down at Turkey are not too eager to assist Ukraine in developing its own defense industry. So I think today, a unique situation has emerged where cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey is profitable to both parties, taking into account similar risks that both countries are facing. Serhiy Zgurets is a CEO at Defense Express information and consulting firm

Ukraine honors victims of Crimean Tatar people genocide Ukraine and the rest of the world are on May 18 honoring the victims of genocide against the Crimean Tatar people and are marking the Day of the Fight for the Crimean Tatar people's rights. News 18 May from UNIAN.

Ukraine Commemorates Deportation Of Crimean Tatars KYIV — Ukraine is commemorating the victims of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's mass deportation of Tatars from Crimea in 1944. A minute of silence was observed at noon on May 18 across th…

Reshat Ametov, killed by Russian occupiers in 2014, named Hero of Ukraine posthumously 18.05.17 17:25 – Reshat Ametov, killed by Russian occupiers in 2014, named Hero of Ukraine posthumously The title was awarded to the deceased hero by President Poroshenko. View news.


Rada repeals so-called “Savchenko Law” – News about politics | UNIAN The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine has repealed the so-called &quot;Savchenko Law&quot; regarding the court's counting of the period of pretrial detention at the rate of one day of pretrial detention for two days of imprisonment, according to an UNIAN correspondent. News 18 May from UNIAN.

Assailants Attack Ukrainian LGBT Activists, Police In Kharkiv, Burn Rainbow Flag Assailants attacked gay and transgender rights activists and torched a rainbow flag at a small rally in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Law enforcement officials said on May 18 that two polic…

Ukrainian LGBT Activists Attacked In Kharkiv LGBT activists were attacked in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on May 17 at a rally to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. (RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service)

Poroshenko Hails ‘Historic Day’ As Visa-Free EU Travel Deal Is Signed STRASBOURG — Representatives of the European Parliament and the European Council have signed a document in Strasbourg formalizing a long-awaited visa-liberalization deal with Ukraine. The deal wa…

What EU countries can Ukrainians now visit without a visa? | Infographic -Euromaidan Press | On 17 May 2017, the legislative act finalizing the visa-free regime between Ukraine and the EU was signed in the European Parliament. It is expected that starting 11 June 2017, Ukrainians will be able to travel without visas to EU countries within the Schengen area. The new rules are: to stay for a period of up to 90 days out of 180, to have a biometric passport, to have medical and car insurance, to have sufficient funds and be able to justify aim of traveling. Residency, employment, and long-term studying will still require visas, as does traveling to the UK and Ireland, which are not part of the Schengen Area,

EU officially signs visa liberalization regime for Ukraine -Euromaidan Press | On 17 May 2017, an official ceremony took place in the European Parliament to sign the legislative act finalizing the visa-free regime for Ukrainian citizens. The ceremony took place in Strasbourg and was broadcast by the EU channel EBS. The document was signed in Strasbourg by EP President Antonio Tajani and Maltese Minister for Home Affairs and National Security Carmelo Abela. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and EU Parliament rapporteur on Ukrainian visa liberalization Mariya Gabriel also attended the ceremony. After signing, the decision on the visa-free regime for Ukrainians has also to be published in the Official Journal of the EU. It will come into force on 11 June 2017, according to Ukraine’s Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration Kostiantyn Yeliseiev.

Will Ukraine Ever Change? | by Tim Judah | The New York Review of Books Three years after the uprising in Kiev, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the beginning of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, much remains uncertain. Under Poroshenko, who has led the country since June 2014, the post-revolutionary government has done more than many at home or abroad give it credit for. Though his popularity has declined steadily, Poroshenko stabilized an economy in freefall, secured loans from the International Monetary Fund, prevented Russian-backed rebellions in vulnerable regions such as Odessa, and above all created a serious military force out of the weak and disorganized one he inherited. Russia, via its proxies, still controls parts of the east, but Ukraine’s soldiers have managed to stop them from taking more territory. Meanwhile, closer relations with the European Union are beginning to yield rewards. On April 6, the European Parliament approved a bill that will allow Ukrainians to travel visa-free to Europe’s Schengen zone. If, this summer, Ukrainians do indeed begin to travel freely to most of Europe for the first time in their lives, that will be seen as a huge achievement of the revolution—and something to be envied by the ordinary citizens of Putin’s Russia. Yet in other ways, the country has not moved on. Though the revolution was set off in part by disgust at the corruption and systematic abuses of power of the Yanukovych government, no senior officials from before or after the revolution have been tried for misusing funds or for the deaths of those shot during the revolt. In 2016, in Transparency International’s ranking of countries from least to most corrupt, Ukraine was tied with Russia in 131st place; it had hardly budged from the dismal position it occupied before the revolution. And now the Ukrainian authorities, led by Poroshenko, have begun a crackdown on anticorruption NGOs, calling into question how committed he and they are to deep and genuine reforms, especially in the judiciary.

Ukraine marks Vyshyvanka Day on May 18 (Video) | UNIAN On May 18, Ukraine is marking Vyshyvanka Day, which is dedicated to the embroidered shirt &ndash; part of the Ukrainian national costume. Latest UNIAN news from 18 May.


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Planning to Send 60,000 Muslim Troops to Syria, Saudi Newspaper Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 17 – Citing unnamed “informed sources,” a Saudi newspaper says that “Russia has prepared approximately 60,000” predominantly Sunni Muslim soldiers from the North Caucasus to dispatch to Syria, a dramatic expansion in the limited Chechen police contingent now stationed in Aleppo and within the TURAN battalion near Palmyra. Marwan Ash-Shamali, a Saudi commentator, published that statement in Riyad’s Al-Watan newspaper four days ago. It has now been translated and has received wide coverage in the Russian media (inosmi.ru/politic/20170517/239362354.html from the original available at alwatan.com.sa/Politics/News_Detail.aspx?ArticleID=303486&CategoryID=1). The Saudi writer argues that the use of such Muslim troops gives Moscow an advantage in Syria because they can more easily cooperate with or even blend in with Syrian government forces. But he suggests that “in the near term,” such units are unlikely to play “a major role” in that country. That would happen after all of them were there. When that will be is unknown. Not surprisingly, Ash-Shamali focuses on the impact of these troops in Syria where they would strengthen the Sunni positions favored by Riyad. But the impact of the formation of such forces within Russia is likely to be far greater, spreading from the military to the political and social system. Creating ethnically or more rarely even religiously based units is not something Russian rulers have been comfortable with at any time. They have done so only under extreme pressure as during World War I, the Russian Civil War, and World War II, and then they have rapidly disbanded these forces viewing them as a threat. Russian commanders in recent years have worried about the high concentration of soldiers from Muslim regions in various units, the result of the demographic collapse of the ethnic Russians and the still rapid growth of Muslim nations, and Moscow has sought to compensate for this by cutting severely the draft in Muslim areas. That hasn’t been popular either in those places or among Russians. In the former, many object to being kept out of the military because that limits career options in the police and other siloviki units. And in the latter, Russians can see that they are being asked to pay a higher “tax” than their Muslim counterparts. A 60,000-man Muslim army would only exacerbate this sense. But more immediately, many Russians would likely view this as yet another concession by Moscow to Chechnya and its leader Ramzan Kadyrov and an effort by Vladimir Putin to create a kind of janissary corps to defend him against challenges coming from the Russian people. And to the extent they do, many Russians and those politicians who listen to them are certain to object either to the creation with Moscow’s money of what could be an independent Chechen army or to a new Savage Division, as the North Caucasus troops were known in World War I, that might be used to suppress demonstrations.

Moscow planning to send 60,000 Muslim troops to Syria, Saudi newspaper says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press | Citing unnamed “informed sources,” a Saudi newspaper says that “Russia has prepared approximately 60,000” predominantly Sunni Muslim soldiers from the North Caucasus to dispatch to Syria, a dramatic expansion in the limited Chechen police contingent now stationed in Aleppo and within the TURAN battalion near Palmyra. Marwan Ash-Shamali, a Saudi commentator, published that statement in Riyad’s Al-Watan newspaper four days ago. It has now been translated and has received wide coverage in the Russian media (inosmi.ru from the original available at alwatan.com.sa). The Saudi writer argues that the use of such Muslim troops gives Moscow an advantage in Syria because they can more easily cooperate with or even blend in with Syrian government forces. But he suggests that “in the near term,” such units are unlikely to play “a major role” in that country. That would happen after all of them were there. When that will be is unknown.

Trump to unveil plans for an ‘Arab NATO’ in Saudi Arabia – The Washington Post The United States and Saudi Arabia are putting together one of the biggest arms sales in history and looking toward a new regional security architecture.

Trump to announce Saudi arms deal during his first foreign trip – CBS News Trump is also expected to receive a sizable pledge of Saudi private equity investment in U.S. infrastructure

UPDATE 2-Saudi Arabia launches military industries company | Reuters Saudi Arabia’s Public InvestmentFund (PIF) on Wednesday announced the launch of a state-ownedmilitary industrial company aimed at contributing more than 14billion riyals ($3.7 billion) to the Kingdom’s gross domesticproduct by 2030.

Saudi Arabia’s new military company to localize 50 percent of military spending – Al Arabiya English Saudi Arabiarsquo;s Public Investment Fund (PIF) on Wednesday announced the launch of a state-owned military industrial company aimed at contributing

US to provide Afghanistan with 159 Black Hawks to help break ‘stalemate’ With the first delivery expected in about 21 months, will it be too little, too late?

Iran’s election is one Vladimir Putin does not want to meddle in Moscow has an interest in maintaining the status quo in Tehran

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Donald Trump clash over role of Kurds in fight against Isis | The Independent Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan did their best to present a united front during the Turkish president’s visit to Washington DC despite anger over the US’ decision to supply more arms to Kurdish militias fighting Isis in Syria. 

Erdogan Security Forces Launch ‘Brutal Attack’ on Washington Protesters, Officials Say – The New York Times Photos and videos showed people kicking and punching demonstrators outside the ambassador’s residence as the police tried to intervene.

How to Get Away with Mass Murder: Denying Mass Atrocities in Sri Lanka and Syria “Our troops went to the battlefront with a gun in one hand, and the Human Rights Charter in the other.” The imagery is striking. All the more so because it


DPRK / PRC Reports


North Korean Hwasong-12 Missile Nears ICBM Performance | Defense content from Aviation Week A range of 5,500 km would reach the western edge of Alaska and would cover all of East Asia, including the far west of China, with Australia just out of reach

Sung-Yoon Lee | Why Do We Appease North Korea? – The New York Times It will stand down its nuclear program only when sustained financial pressure threatens to bring revolt or regime collapse.

US tightens noose around North Korea- Nikkei Asian Review TOKYO — With the U.S. and North Korea locked in a dangerous face-off over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, U.S. forces are poised to bring t

This is how Trump should use brinksmanship with North Korea | TheHill OPINION | The president may untie his hands internationally by stepping gingerly domestically.

Trump willing to try engagement with North Korea, on conditions: Seoul | Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump told South Korea’s presidential envoy that Washington was willing to try to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis through engagement, but under the right conditions, South Korea’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Why North Korea’s Latest Missile Launch Should Worry Washington When Kim Jong-un boasted in January that he had an ICBM in the “late stages of development,” many were skeptical. Not so today.

North Korea’s Consistently Apocalyptic Propagandists – The New Yorker Hannah Beech reports on the news and propaganda coming out of North Korea in the wake of South Korea’s recent Presidential election.

North Korean aggression has China hedging bets – Washington Times The provocative actions by North Korea over the past three months since President Trump took office should not come as a surprise. In his campaign for the presidency, candidate Donald Trump repeatedly criticized the Obama administration for failing to take stronger action against China’s illegal actions in the South China Sea.

Putin, North Korea and what Russia really wants in the region Pyongyang’s latest missile test sparked a surprising reaction from the Russian leader.

The Key to North Korea Is Russia – Bloomberg Unfortunately, the idea of a grand bargain with Russia is less popular in Washington than ever before.

Ferry between Russia and North Korea starts regular service – CNN.com A cargo-passenger ferry service linking Russia and North Korea completed its first trip Thursday.

North Korea launches ferry service to Russia’s far east | Reuters North Korea launched a ferry service to the Russian city of Vladivostok on Wednesday to develop links and boost economic cooperation, the North’s state media said, as it faces increasing isolation over its weapons development.

Ransomware Attack: North Korea Hackers Capable | Time.com Online security firms drew links between WannaCry and previous North Korea cyber attacks, raising fears Kim Jong Un was responsible.

North Korea: A land of few computers and many hackers – LA Times While North Korea has been busy launching missiles, it was apparently also busy preparing a global cyberattack.

China Is Reluctant to Blame North Korea, Its Ally, for Cyberattack – The New York Times North Korea’s history of erratic behavior has embarrassed Beijing in many ways, but Chinese leaders have remained stoic.

In North Korea, an Israeli photographer aims his lens beyond the facade | The Times of Israel Moshe Shai takes photos of exhibition put on for visitors by repressive government, and when possible, daily life of the people

Mind-blowing Pictures from America’s Past War In Korea Have Been Brought Back to Life In a Series of Colourised Images | Media Drum World Stunning pictures from the USA’s past war with Korea showing hellish scenes have been revived through a series of colourised images. 

Pictures of the world by royston colour. – PhotosBoeing B-29 Superfortress of the Strategic Air Command (SAC) on a bombing mission on Hungnam, North Korea. July 31st 1950. “In a major strike on the industrial city of Hungnam on 31 July 1950, 500 tons of ordnance was delivered through clouds by radar; the flames rose 200-300 feet into the air.”

China’s Soft Power Offensive, One Belt One Road, and the Limitations of Beijing’s Soft Power – To Inform is to Influence Blog Post by Joshua Kurlantzick May 16, 2017 This is the first part in a series on China’s attempts to bolster its soft power and its prospects for success. In recent years, China has stepped up its soft power offensive in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia, among other regions of the globe. About…


Foreign Policy Reports


White House Again Threatens To Quit NATO If Allies’ Spending Does Not Rise U.S. President Donald Trump is &quot;pleased&quot; with pledges by NATO allies to spend more on defense, but he would consider withdrawing if they don't honor those pledges, a senior White Hous…

Georgia Irked By EU Envoy’s Visit To South Ossetia TBILISI — The Georgian Foreign Ministry summoned the European Union's ambassador on May 17 to complain about what it said were inappropriate comments by an EU envoy during a visit to breakawa…

The End of the Left/Right Divide? by Ian Buruma – Project Syndicate Many commentators on the French presidential election have pointed out that old ideological categories no longer fit contemporary politics in France – or, indeed, anywhere else. But while Emmanuel Macron prides himself on being neither right nor left, the distinction has never been merely socioeconomic


 

 

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