Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 20 May 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

</end editorial>

Prof Goble’s No.83 is well worth a thorough read, comical if it were not tragic, and as diametrically opposed an image of Russia as is possible compared to their propaganda puffery. Putin pours more kerosene into the DPRK argument. Trucker protest escalates this weekend. United Russia party accuses RFE/RL, VOA and CNN of election meddling in Russia.

Interesting reports on Russian military mobile cellphone base station emulators, used to geolocate, eavesdrop and distribute propaganda in Donbass. While a French security researcher distributes a software tool to decrypt disks attacked by WannaCry, MSM “experts” telling public no recovery is possible.

Donbass fires continue, while debate over Russian social media hits the heights of absurdity in the West, with politicians and bureaucrats it seems far more concerned about the rights of Russian government funded trolls than the wellbeing of Ukraine, let alone its national security. Why such delusional ideas persist in the Western political and bureaucratic classes is a good question – a Russian government funded or sponsored troll is a combatant in an information war, and a proxy actor for the Russian government. Why some Western politicians and bureaucrats believe such individuals should be accorded a right to propagate their ethnic and ideological slurs, promote hatred, and recruit gullible Ukrainians, is an open question. After WW2 toxic propagandists in this game if lucky ended up incarcerated, if not so lucky, ended up like Streicher or Joyce. Ukraine has formally opened a criminal case against Stalin and Beria over the genocide of the Crimean Tartars, intended to determine who was involved – likely all are now deceased, but it will build a future case for Russia paying reparations to the survivor’s families. More on Saide Arifova’s rescue of 88 Jewish children during WW2. Another batch of upgraded and refurbished T-80 MBTs transferred to UA VDV airborne forces. Border wall with Russia completed in Kharkiv region, work continues in Sumy and Luhansk.

POTUS now in Saudi Arabia, while Iranian election lost by the more hardline of the two hardline candidates.

Reports DPRK Hwasong-12 launch included proper separation of RV and successful flight to impact. PLA brags publicly that “China has secured the central leadership role in the South China Sea and other players cannot match its military supremacy in the region”. Japan finds archival records showing Ryūkyū Kingdom royalty visited Senkaku Islands in 1819, likely to produce intensive argument by Beijing.

Russia pouring kerosene into the Venezuelan mess – Venezuela was a major buyer of advanced Russian equipment such as the Su-30MKV and S-300VM.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Cutting Back Defense Spending in Many Areas / A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 83 For all of Moscow’s rhetoric that Russia is back as a military power, the Russian government has been cutting back spending in almost all areas of the military and shifting what resources it has to less expensive branches like the infantry rather than the more expensive like the navy (, , and The Kremin has created cyberforces but has decided it can’t afford another icebreaker ( and In addition, it has gone after soldiers in Syria for losing even one gun ( and is considering ending cooperation with the International Space Station (

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia Opens Passenger and Cargo Shipping Service between Vladivostok and North Korea Paul Goble Staunton, May 19 – Ignoring US calls for isolating North Korea in order to force Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear program, Russia and North Korea yesterday opened a new shipping route between Vladivostok and the North Korean port of Rajin that will carry both passengers and cargo ( A 193-passenger 1500 ton North Korean ship will make weekly trips between the two countries, and Russian commentators are already celebrating this action as the latest Russian challenge to American pretensions in the region and Washington’s calls to isolate North Korea ( In the words of Nil Protasov, “the opening of this new route between Russia and North Korea is in fact a challenge to Washington whose [Congressional] legislators broadened the authority of the US to include monitoring” of Russian ports as part of the West’s sanctions regime against Pyongyang. According to him, “Russia warned the Americans about the inevitability of armed conflict if any efforts are made to control Russian ports. The launching of a new route is a clear signal from Moscow: no one has the right to dictate its will to a sovereign country.” Russian officials have called for talks with North Korea rather than additional sanctions of efforts at isolation (, and new polls show that a significant share of the Russian population backs the right of countries like North Korea to develop their own nuclear weapons despite what the West and non-proilferation accords say. A VTsIOM poll released earlier this week showed that 41 percent of Russians take that position (

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Long-Haul Truckers Plan to Converge on Moscow This Weekend Paul Goble Staunton, May 19 – In advance of the meeting between the Presidential Council on Human Rights and the striking long-haul drivers, union activists say that they are organizing columns of trucks to converge on the Russian capital to show that the strike is still going on and that the government must make concessions. This show of force is especially important, activists say, because both regional governments and Moscow officials, after initially signaling a willingness to compromise have now taken a tougher line against the truckers ( and Although the number of striking trucks has declined over the last several weeks as drivers sought to earn money for their families after five weeks off work and in the hopes that the authorities were coming around, the Carriers Union says that many truckers are angry and plan to drive to Moscow ( It is entirely possible and perhaps even likely that officials will try to block the convoy, but union leaders point out that they have “no legal basis” for stopping the convoys which plan to proceed on Moscow’s ring road. That sets the stage for a possible confrontation within earshot of Western embassies and journalists. The Kremlin clearly doesn’t want that, and its extraordinary measures to end a strike at a gold mine in the Transbaikal over the last few days, measures that included providing a massive infusion of government money and the unscheduled return from Mongolia of key Russian officials, show that the Kremlin is worried about strike actions spreading and may be pressured to make concessions ( and

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Northern Peoples Seek to Reverse Putin’s Amalgamation of Their Land with Ethnic Russian Kray Paul Goble Staunton, May 18 – Twelve activists are calling for a referendum that would reverse the 2005 amalgamation of the Dolgan-Nenets Autonomous District and Krasnoyarsk Kray and restore Dolgan-Nenets as an autonomous district. They say they have been driven to take that step because of the precipitous decline in the standard of living of Northern peoples there. Stella Kokh, one of the 12, tells Kommersant that as a result of the amalgamation, a large share of government structures was shifted out of the Dolgan-Nenets region to Krasnoyarsk and Norilsk. As a result, unemployment among the indigenous peoples has soared despite Putin’s promises to the contrary ( Another activist, Gennady Shchukin, a representative of the Association of Indigenous Numerically Small Peoples of the Taymyr, says that the kray officials don’t understand the nature of life in the Taymyr. They fly over the region in helicopters and think that “we have trolleybuses and trains” even though reindeer herding is the basis of the economy. The kray government is slated to take up the question of registering the initiative group today. The leaders of the group expect to be turned down, but regardless of whether they are, they insist, “they will continue the struggle.” The peoples of the North are slow to anger, they say; but now that they are, there is no turning back. The Taymyr Dolgano-Nenets District was created in 2005 out of the former Dolgano-Nenets Autonomous District when it was folded into Krasnoyarsk kray as part of Vladimir Putin’s now-stalled regional amalgamation effort. Just under 30 percent of its population consists of people of the indigenous nationalities of the North. Kray officials and some Moscow experts say that the Dolgano-Nenets cause has no future because the area has insufficient resources. LDPR deputy Aleksandr Gliskov of the Krasnoyarsk legislative assembly says that the region would only suffer not only economically but socially and politically with the return of “feudal” overlords. Natalya Zubarevich, the head of the Moscow Independent Institute of Social Policy, agrees and that there is no possibility of turning back the clock even though “all former autonomies are dissatisfied with the unification” that Kremlin mandated. Some lost jobs, and all saw their overall economic situation decline despite the center’s promises. Nonetheless, many who live in these places are angry and want to see a change regardless of what Moscow says. Moreover, it is not just non-Russian entities that are unhappy with their inclusion in one or another predominantly Russian oblast or kray. Some Russian towns are as well, and they are demanding that they be shifted from one oblast to another. (On this, see, and Even if none of these efforts succeed, they are certain to add a new element to Russian political life, simultaneously highlighting the ways in which Moscow has typically treated non-Russians as chess pieces it can move about at will and also, and perhaps more immediately significant, the failure of Vladimir Putin to understand the dangers amalgamation entails.

U.S. ‘Propaganda’ Influenced Russian Elections, Putin’s Party Claims The United Russia party has accused U.S. media of calling into question the “democratic nature” of Russia’s elections.

United Russia Completes Report on How U.S. Media Influenced Russian Elections | Foreign Policy United Russia Completes Report on How U.S. Media Influenced Russian Elections « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas

Russian Tycoon’s Video Attack On Navalny Sparks Storm Online MOSCOW — In this corner, there's one of Russia's wealthiest tycoons whose girth and growly voice have drawn comparisons to Don Corleone from the famous Godfather movies. In that corner…

Air Force bombers heading to England in June for training mission The bombers are conducting routine exercises for a few weeks.

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

Baltic Elves Fight Kremlin Trolls They call themselves “elves” — hundreds of volunteers countering pro-Kremlin trolls who spread propaganda and disinformation online in the Baltic states. (RFE/RL)

Assange Will Probably ‘Escape’ To Russia – To Inform is to Influence Very interesting.  Russia first broke the story about Sweden dropping the rape investigation on Julian Assange. How did Russia get the scoop? Swedish prosecutor drop case against Julian Assange – WikiLeaks RT 05:10 Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation The Telegraph 05:08 Swedish Prosecutors to Drop WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Preliminary Rape Investigation Sputnik 05:08 Then…

Electronic Warfare by Drone and SMS – To Inform is to Influence @DFRLab @AtlanticCouncil’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Catalyzing a global network of digital forensic researchers, following conflicts in real time. May 18 How Russia-backed separatists use “pinpoint propaganda” in the Donbas Orlan-10 Drone (source), RB-341V “Leer-3” Electronic Warfare System (source), Russian soldiers using the electronic warfare system (source) Bursts of harrowing SMS text messages are periodically sent to…

Russian Military Apparently Using Cell Tower Spoofers To Send Propaganda Directly To Ukrainian Soldiers’ Phones – To Inform is to Influence What is not mentioned in this story is that if the Russian soldiers are transmitting through these cell towers, the Russians are also listening – intercepting their communications.  The Russian LEER-3 communications systems are relatively cheap, can put out propaganda directly to soldier’s phones, can intercept their communications, track where the cell phones are located…

Social Engineering – To Inform is to Influence Guest post by Brian Tarling on a much-needed subject. </end editorial> Published on May 5, 2017 Brian Tarling Director CEO at All Source Fusion LLC My time as a “hackerish” Professional taught me that Social Engineering is one of the most difficult tasks to defend against. You see with the advent of social media its…

XData Ransomware Is Infecting Ukranian Computers Much Faster Than WannaCry Did | WIRED A new type of ransomware called XData is spreading at an alarming rate.

Security researchers have a fix for victims of the ‘WannaCry’ ransomware – BGR French security researchers have come up with a solution that may help users impacted by the WannaCry ransomware recover their encrypted files without having to fork over $300 worth of Bitcoin to hackers.

With Ransomware, It’s Pay and Embolden Perpetrators, or Lose Precious Data – The New York Times Thousands affected by the global digital attack must decide whether to fork out money to gain control of their computers or face losing their data forever.

Ukraine Reports

Stable Ukraine key to Euro-Atlantic security – NATO official Ukraine is NATO&rsquo;s valued partner, and the Bloc will continue offering&nbsp;strong political and practical support to Kyiv, according to Carmen Romero, the spokesperson for the NATO Public Diplomacy Division, reports. News 19 May from UNIAN. 

U.S. not willing to join Normandy format: German government’s coordinator for Russia cooperation Donald Trump Administration does not want to take on additional functions and join the Normandy format of talks on Donbas settlement, the German government&rsquo;s coordinator for intersocietal cooperation with Russia, Central Asia, and the Eastern Partnership countries Gernot Erler told Deutsche Welle. News 19 May from UNIAN.

Germany’s historical responsibility towards Ukraine discussed in Bundestag -Euromaidan Press | On 19 May 2017, Germany’s Green party initiated debates on the topic of Germany’s historical responsibility towards Ukraine. The party prepared a draft resolution in support of Ukraine which was submitted to the foreign affairs committee of the Bundestag. The discussion was initiated due to the reinterpretation of Germany’s historical responsibility for Nazi crimes as such crimes from which the territories between Germany and Russia suffered the most. As stated on the website of Marieluise Beck, Speaker for Eastern Europe at Germany’s Green Party, the need for such a discussion is becoming particularly acute in the light of the current European aspirations of Ukraine, which opposes Russian aggression. “Little is known that Ukraine was the site of the greatest crimes against humanity committed by Hitler and Stalin for decades. In addition to Poland, the Baltics and Moldova, Ukraine was a victim of the Hitler-Stalin pact. In the Second World War, the Holocaust and the systematic extermination campaign against the Slavic population, unleashed by the Nazis, cost millions of lives of people in Ukraine. 75 years later, a strong and courageous movement of democracy is urging Ukraine to achieve a better future for the country. It is about freedom, democracy, and the rule of law – and thus the values that make up Europe and form the basis for a peaceful coexistence. We want Germany to acknowledge its historic responsibility against Ukraine and actively support the Ukrainian movement of democracy,” the website states. 

Ukrainian Facebook audience grown by 35% after blocking of Russian social networks. INFOGRAPHIC 20.05.17 11:28 – Ukrainian Facebook audience grown by 35% after blocking of Russian social networks. INFOGRAPHIC After the providers began blocking access to Russian social media, the Ukrainian Facebook audience grew by about 35% per day. Also, the audience of Ukrainian portals and has grown significantly. View news.

Self-defense or a blow to democracy? Pro et contra arguments to Ukraine’s ban of Russian Internet companies -Euromaidan Press | Kostiantyn Yanchenko On May 15 Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko approved a decision of National Security Council (NSDC) to expand “personal economic and other restrictive measures (sanctions)” against personalities linked to the Crimean annexation, terrorist activities, illegal border crossing, and 468 Russia-based or Russia-affiliated companies. Aside from blocking a number of Russian IT-companies popular in Ukraine, the decree affects Ukraine’s most popular social networks – the Russian Vkontakte (VK) and Odnoklassniki (OK), and a Yandex search engine (with all its services). All these resources are now officially banned and must be blocked by the Ukrainian Internet Providers no later than June 1. In an online survey by Gemius, VK ranked as the #1 social network with 12.9 million users, while facebook came in second with 8.3 million.

EU delegation fears blocking of social networks in Ukraine to adversely affect freedom of expression Representatives of the European Union said that the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to block Russian social networks and Internet resources is the prerogative of the Ukrainian authorities, but the arguments for national information security are insufficient. We know about the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to block a number of Russian online services, including popular social media platforms in Ukraine, within the limits of restrictive measures taken by Ukraine, Head of Press and Communication at the EU Delegation in Ukraine Jurgis Vilcinskas said in a commentary to the Yevropeiska Pravda (European Truth). He said that the European Union heard the public statements of the Ukrainian authorities that the decision was made on the basis of the interests of national information security, and in recent months, Ukraine has become the object of numerous cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns. We recognize that the protection of national security is the prerogative of the Ukrainian government, the EU representative said. At the same time, Vilcinskas said that these arguments are not sufficient. Nevertheless, we expect that the authorities must ensure that restrictive measures taken for reasons of national security do not have a negative impact on the fundamental right to freedom of expression, the diplomat said. According to him, the EU is still waiting for detailed explanations from the Ukrainian authorities, including on the temporary nature of sanctions.

Klimkin explained Russian social media ban to Council of Europe: Their activities generate hatred and wrangling 19.05.17 17:58 – Klimkin explained Russian social media ban to Council of Europe: Their activities generate hatred and wrangling At the Council of Europe meeting, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin explained the sanctions implemented in Ukraine against some Russian websites and social media. View news.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putting Kyiv’s Decision on Russian Social Media in Context Paul Goble Staunton, May 19 – Moscow and Western officials and commentators have sharply criticized Kyiv’s decision to block access to Russian social media, a decision they say Ukraine can’t enforce and represents the latest violation of freedom of speech by the Ukrainian authorities. There is no question that Kyiv will have a hard time enforcing this ban: there are many workarounds and Russian Internet outlets are already describing some of them; and it is also regrettable that the Ukrainian government feels compelled to take an action which can be plausibly described as a restriction on media freedom. But those condemning Ukraine for this have failed to put its actions into context. On the one hand, Russian propaganda has played a larger role in Ukraine than in any other former non-Russian Soviet republic because there are so many Russian speakers living in that country. Kyiv has a right to be worried about any channels that Moscow can and does use to destabilize things. And on the other, Russia has invaded Ukraine, and social networks are a communications network that updates the use of letters and telephone calls. In the past, no one would have expected a government whose territory was invaded by another to allow its citizens unrestricted telephone and epistolary communications with citizens of the enemy country. Just imagine the reaction of Moscow had Russians tried to send and receive letters from Germans during World War II or that of Washington had Americans sought to make regular telephone calls to Imperial Japan during the same conflict. Ukraine has done no more now than either the USSR or the US did then. These points are made by Moscow commentator Aleksandr Khots in an article today on the portal, and they deserve to be taken seriously because all too many of those condemning Kyiv’s actions ignore the context in which the Ukrainian authorities are taking them( “In the 1940s,” Khots begins, “there was no Internet but there was both a postal system and telephones. In principle, given a desire on the part of the combatants to preserve ‘full communication’ among people,” just think how many Soviet and German citizens might have made use of that – and what would have happened to them if they did. According to the commentator, “it is regrettable that in those years, there was no Human Rights Watch to call on the USSR to restore culture ties with the Reich, the occupying country.” Kyiv’s action is unlikely to be completely successful, Khots continues, but the important issue is why it took this action in the first place. What has happened is that “the Ukrainian side has made yet another symbolic side toward the breaking off of ‘cultural ties’ and of “a single ‘cultural space,” something that is impossible “between an attacker and his victim.” Individual Ukrainians still have the opportunity to maintain ties with Russians, if they want to. “But Ukraine as a state and country does not want to have to these private links with the enemy any relationship. Sberbank, Russian television, the Russian press, and Russian Internet resources are alien.” What is really strange is not that Ukraine should find this to be the case given that it is the victim of aggression. Rather is it that so many people in Russia and the West act as if what Ukraine has done is somehow criminal. If Russia wants to maintain a common cultural space with Ukraine, it must first “end the occupation and withdraw its forces.” That will be only a first step given what Russian forces have done and are doing, but until it is made, no one should take Russian complaints about what Kyiv has done seriously. They are what any self-respecting victim of aggression would take – and quite likely far earlier than Ukraine has done.

Ukraine Opens Criminal Probe Against Stalin, Beria For Crimean Tatar Deportations Ukrainian officials have announced a criminal investigation into Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and his secret police chief, Lavrenty Beria, for the mass deportation of Muslim Tatars from the Crimea…

Ukraine Opens Criminal Probe Against Stalin, Beria For Crimean Tatar Deportations – To Inform is to Influence This is how history is supposed to be rewritten. Justice. Kyiv began searching for Stalin’s and Beria’s accomplices in the deportation of Crimean Tatars… UAWire 15:35 Ukraine Opens Criminal Probe Against Stalin, Beria For Crimean Tatar Deportations Radio Free Europe 15:00 The US federal government could recognize the Holodomor as genocide of Ukrainians UAWire 13:14…

A Prayer of Strangers’: The Story of Crimean Tatar who Saved Jewish Children During Holocaust – YouTube The premiere of the film “A Prayer of Strangers” about the tragedy of the Crimean Tatar people was held in Kyiv. The film by Akhtem Seitablaiev is about a yo…

Saide Arifova – Google Books

Alders Ledge: The Forgotten Righteous

Ukraine reports 4 WIAs amid 55 enemy attacks in last day Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 55 times in the past 24 hours with four Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 20 May from UNIAN.

Four Ukrainian servicemen wounded as militants launched 55 attacks yesterday, – ATO HQ 20.05.17 10:14 – Four Ukrainian servicemen wounded as militants launched 55 attacks yesterday, – ATO HQ The situation in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) zone remains complicated. View news.

About 20 militants dead and wounded as ammunition depot exploded, – Intelligence 20.05.17 13:11 – About 20 militants dead and wounded as ammunition depot exploded, – Intelligence According to Ukrainian intelligence, the militants neglected security measures and drank alcohol and smoked in the ammunition depot. View news.

Poroshenko: New batch of T-80 tanks to be sent to front line in Donbas (Video) Ukraine's state-run Ukroboronprom Concern has prepared another batch of T-80 tanks for the airborne troops of Ukraine, according to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. News 20 May from UNIAN.

More Lithuanian Support for Ukrainian Soldiers – YouTube The Baltic state remains one of the most outspoken critics of Russia’s invasion of eastern Ukraine. To counter the threat on Europe’s eastern frontier, Lithu…

Defense minister: Ukrainian SOF officers should be trained at foreign training centers Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak has said in Lithuania that Ukrainian Special Operations Forces (SOF) officers need training in foreign training centers. The press service of the Defense Ministry reported on Friday during the debriefing on the FlamingSword17 Multinational Exercise Poltorak met with Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) General Raymond A. Thomas and NATO Special Operations Headquarters Commander Vice Admiral Colin J. Kilrain. The Minister thanked the American colleagues for support of Ukrainian SOF units. “Our Special Operations Forces are still very young and need time and experience. We are interested in training of our men, we have the longing and learn quickly, I am sure we will make some progress,” Poltorak said. He added that U.S. instructors have prepared many Ukrainian soldiers. The defense minister noted significant results in this area. “Last year we did not lose a single centimeter of our land, reduced the number of combat deaths and have some success in military matters,” Poltorak said. The defense minister informed his counterparts on the situation in the eastern Ukraine and the threat that may arise in the future. “The security situation in Ukraine requires that Ukrainian Special Operations Forces have gained military capabilities,” Poltorak said. He said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces need not just the training, but the training of Ukrainian soldiers at foreign training centers. Thomas, in turn, pointed out the progress of Ukrainian SOF. “We are pleased to observe progress in how your soldiers act, and appreciate your achievements. Your Special Operations Forces were founded a year ago, and they are impressive. You build your own models of action and rely on your unique combat experience, not on theory. I also like that you root for your Special Operations Forces, because that’s what I live for,” he said. Poltorak invited Thomas to visit the Defense Ministry of Ukraine in Kyiv and the International Peacekeeping and Security Center in Yavoriv.

State Border Service completes construction of “Wall” in Kharkiv Region on border with Russia 20.05.17 13:47 – State Border Service completes construction of Wall on border with Russia The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine is completing a model of the protection of the state border with the Russian Federation in the Kharkiv region. The work continues in the Sumy and Luhansk regions. View news.

Ukrainian and Dutch NGOs call upon the Dutch Senate to ratify EU-Ukraine Association Agreement -Euromaidan Press | Ukrainian and Dutch NGOs called upon the Dutch Senate to vote for the ratification of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU, as stated in an appeal by the Reanimation Package of Reforms. The activists welcomed the approval of the Association Agreement by the Lower House of the Dutch Parliament, calling the treaty “a powerful toolbox for further reforms aimed at eliminating corruption, enhancing rule of law, good governance, and human rights” and noted that the Association Agreement will also encourage trade, employment, and prosperity for Ukraine, The Netherlands, and the EU. The authors of the appeal state that Ukraine enacted more reforms in the last three years than in all the preceding 23 years of independence since 1991. Specifically, they noted the successes of anti-corruption initiatives, government transparency systems, police reform, judicial reform, and decentralization reform, but reminded that much remains to be done to pass the point of no return for the complex transformation of Ukraine: “Completing Ukraine’s transformation into a modern rule-of-law based state, will be extremely difficult without intensive cooperation with our international partners, especially the European Union and its member states,” the appeal states.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Trump arrives in Saudi Arabia, with domestic struggles looming over first foreign trip – LA Times Trump makes his international debut in a weakened political state.

What a Middle Eastern NATO Could Accomplish For Trump | The National Interest Blog A treaty organization might make sense as a mere suggestion to help shock the region into believing that the U.S. really is back as a balancing force to help quell the currently spiraling chaos in the region.

Trump’s $110 Billion Arms Deal With Saudi Arabia May Be Illegal A legal analysis prompted by congressional inquiries warns against the sale.

Saudi Arabia’s Naval Capabilities Will Balloon Thanks To Huge U.S. Arms Deal – The Drive Riyadh’s naval forces increasingly need new and better warships to counter Iran and project power throughout the region.

Total annihilation: Mattis maps out the path ahead against ISIS The U.S. defense secretary and his top general say Russia must play a leading role in ensuring success against the Islamic State in Syria.

French Navy fires Aster 30 to train crew, vessel for airborne threats The French Navy’s Forbin air defense frigate fired an Aster 30 missile in a training exercise to prepare the crew and vessel in engagements against airborne threats, the service said.

Was Erdogan personally involved in his bodyguards’ attacks on protesters in D.C.? – The Washington Post Newly released video footage raises the question.

U.S. says Iranian-directed convoy targeted by U.S. strike in Syria | Reuters The United States said on Friday it believed forces in a convoy targeted by U.S. military aircraft in southern Syria on Thursday were Iranian-directed, in a possible sign of increased tension between Washington and Tehran in the Syrian war.

Iranian elections: What you won’t hear (but need to know) | Fox News As the Supreme Leader urges the Iranian people to vote in the presidential elections on Friday, May 19th, the loudest voice may well be that of the non-voters.

Iranian President Rouhani wins re-election by a comfortable margin, official results show – LA Times Hassan Rouhani wins a second term thanks to robust voter turnout that cemented Iranians’ support for the 2015 nuclear agreement and a rapprochement with the West.

DPRK / PRC Reports

North Korea says U.S. has to roll back ‘hostile policy’ before talks | Reuters North Korea’s deputy U.N. envoy said on Friday the United States needed to roll back its “hostile policy” toward the country before there could be talks as Washington raised concern that Pyongyang could be producing a chemical used in a nerve agent.

That North Korean Missile Really Worked, Say U.S. Officials – NBC News April’s launch of a KN-17 failed, but Sunday’s launch was successful.

How much damage could North Korea unleash even without nuclear weapons? – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) There’s been a lot of focus on North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. But what can be lost in the discussion is just how vast and powerful the country’s military already is.

North Korea says linking cyber attacks to Pyongyang is ‘ridiculous’ | Reuters North Korea’s deputy United Nations envoy said on Friday “it is ridiculous” to link Pyongyang with the WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack that started to sweep around the globe a week ago or the hacking of a U.N. expert monitoring sanctions violations.

North Korea: Brit gives chilling glimpse of Kim Jong-un’s state | Daily Star A BRAVE Brit defied warnings from friends to venture into North Korea – and was shocked by what he saw.

Chinese’s military dominance in S. China Sea complete: report | ABS-CBN News TAIPEI – China has secured the central leadership role in the South China Sea and other players cannot match its military supremacy in the region, according to an internal magazine of the People’s Liberation Army obtained by Kyodo News.

Chinese fighters buzz Air Force plane over East China Sea Chinese fighters intercepted an Air Force aircraft over the East China Sea Wednesday in an “unprofessional” manner, the Air Force said.

Chinese fighters buzz U.S. spy plane, underlining differences over surveillance, North Korea – The Washington Post The U.S. plane is designed to detect evidence of nuclear tests and routinely monitors the area.

Philippines Leader To Meet With Putin In Show Of Independence From U.S. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Russia next week to meet President Vladimir Putin and strengthen ties as the outspoken Filipino leader seeks to diversify away from the islan…

Japan Finds Document on Earliest Landing on Senkakus (News) | Tokyo (Jiji Press)—The Japanese government has announced the discovery of a document indicating that royal family members of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, which ruled the islands southwest of Japan including today’s Okinawa, landed on the Senkaku Islands in 1819, the oldest recorded visit to the Japanese-administered islands. The documented visit precedes that of a Briton in 1845, previously considered the first person to set foot on the Senkakus.

India To Double BrahMos Cruise Missile Range India and Russia have approved an extension to the range of the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos, doubling it to 600 kilometers [Ed: 324 nmi, comparable to JASSM], according to an official with the Indian Ministry of Defence.

The worst effects of our nuclear programme are the ones that nobody talks about | The Independent A quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, interest in nuclear weapons has revived, not reduced. But still a taboo surrounds our nuclear legacy. For all the debate over the tensions between the United States and North Korea, a taboo still surrounds the lingering impacts of nuclear weapons testing and fears for their future use in conflict.

Foreign Policy Reports

Abandon the 2 Percent Obsession: A New Rating for Pulling Your Weight in NATO When Donald Trump travels to Brussels for his first NATO summit on May 25, an organization he labeled as “obsolete” during the presidential campaign, he wi

Russia Pledges Wheat Shipments To Ease Venezuelan Food ShortageRussia is pledging to send 60,000 tons of wheat to Venezuela each month, helping alleviate a food crisis in the troubled South American country. President Vladimir Putin pledged the food aid in …

Venezuelan president to Trump: “Get your pig hands out of here” – CBS News Maduro accused Trump of promoting interventionist policy that infringes on his government's sovereignty

Maduro to Trump: ‘Get your dirty hands off Venezuela!’ | Reuters Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro blasted Donald Trump on Friday after a fresh round of U.S. sanctions and strong condemnation of his socialist government from the U.S. leader.

Statement by Minister of Foreign Affairs on the U.S. Department of Commerce Initiation of Investigations Into Large Civil Aircraft from Canada OTTAWA, Ontario — The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement: “The aerospace industries of Canada and the United States are highly integrated and support good, middle class jobs on both sides of the border. “We strongly disagree with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to initiate anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations into imports of Canadian large civil aircraft. “Boeing’s petition is clearly aimed at blocking Bombardier’s new aircraft, the CSeries, from entering the U.S. market. Boeing admits it does not compete with exports of the CS100 aircraft, so it is all the more difficult to see these allegations as legitimate, particularly with the dominance of the Boeing 737 family in the U.S. market. “Furthermore, many of the CSeries suppliers are based in the United States. Components for the CSeries are supplied by American companies, directly supporting high-paying jobs in many U.S. states, including Connecticut, Florida, New Jersey, Washington, New York, Ohio, Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania and Colorado. “Canada is reviewing current military procurement that relates to Boeing. “Our government will defend the interests of Bombardier, the Canadian aerospace industry, and our aerospace workers.”

Australia’s two new $1.5 billion warships may have design flaws, navy chiefs reveal Propulsion issues on our two new warships may be due to design flaws, navy chiefs say.