McClintock and Radin are correct, why ponder abstract theoretical constructs on Russia’s strategy, given that it changes by the day? Zygar hits the key problem with Russian attitudes. NATO adaptation continues. Vladimir Kara-Murza likely to be assassinated soon. Moscow overpopulates as rural areas collapse. Russians not happy about protester age demographic. Kuban ethnic debate ramps up – Putin pouring kerosene on it made it so, now it is genocide of Circassians and resident ethnic Ukrainians. Russia tries to buy off Belarus with military hardware.
WannaCry ransomware debate continues.
In Ukraine, Donbass fires continue. Crimean Tatar report Russians have deployed six tactical nukes to Crimea. Merkel pushes for more (useless) talks with Russia. Russia complains to WTO over Ukrainian sanctions. While Ukrainian Facebook accounts up by 35%, Russians brag about record Ukrainian Vkontakte traffic, which is actually most likely people downloading the contents of their accounts to move them to Facebook. After breaking dependency on Russian gas, Ukraine has broken dependency on Russian / Donbass coal – the last major economic activity between the countries, once the church ties are broken, Russia has no remaining hooks other than a minority of delusional ethic Russian nationalists and former communists.
POTUS visit to Saudi Arabia dominates MSM, and evidently he is very popular with local population. POTUS dances a tribal war dance with Saudis which will no doubt produce interesting effects in Tehran.
DPRK launches another IRBM, details TBD. Reports that China killed most of the Agency’s HUMINT network in China between 2010 and 2012. Internal debate in China around ‘strategic overdraft’ AKA strategic overstretch in our jargon.
Russia / Russophone Reports
Russia in Action, Short of War – To Inform is to Influence by Bruce H. McClintock and Andrew Radin Russian measures short of war do not necessarily seek an immediate impact. Rather, they are used to cultivate local support, proxies and resources, and to create a future opportunity that might be exploited later. One example of Russia’s ability to build on prior means of influence occurred in Estonia in 2007. Russian propaganda and state-controlled nongovernmental organizations set the stage for local Russian-speakers to protest the Estonian decision to move a Soviet-era war memorial informally known as the Bronze Soldier from the center of Tallinn, the capital of the country. Russia reportedly fomented the crisis by encouraging anti-Estonian protesters and possibly encouraging cyberattacks to undermine the Estonian economy and government. Currently, Russia’s strategy in Ukraine involves developing levers that can be used to strengthen the Kremlin’s control over the separatist regions in the east on short notice. The key takeaway for Western policymakers: Don’t focus solely on what Russia is doing now, but also discern and attempt to counter Russia’s longer-term approach. To respond to Russia’s continuous, adaptive and aggressive measures short of war, Western leaders and analysts should avoid overthinking what to call Russia’s strategy and focus on addressing the Russian actions. To support its partners in assessing and reducing their vulnerabilities, the United States has a wide range of tools available. These include strengthening partner state institutions, promoting democracy and aiding economic development. These tools can be seen as the United States’ own “measures short of war,” and perhaps its best defense against Russia.
Mikhail Zygar | What Russia really wants — Quartz I usually compare it to the way football fans feel when their favorite team is winning. It’s not about them; their life is not changing, they are not richer, they are not more healthy, their family is not better off. They are just happy for no reason. That’s the same feeling of many Russians who appreciate the idea of Russia being great again. So, for them, Putin is a football king who is winning, he is a winner for them to be proud of. When all the international media speak about Putin as the most powerful man in the world, the man who manipulates US elections or French elections, the man who controls the American president—that’s the best news they can get. That makes some people feel happy, even though they are not more successful because of it, they are not richer, they are not healthier. But that’s their psychology.
Finland, Norway, and Sweden are conducting a massive air exercise amid Russia tensions – To Inform is to Influence Alex Lockie May 19, 2017, 9:59 AM As part of the Nordic Defence Cooperation, Finland, Norway, and Sweden are joining forces for a large air exercise with help from the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland and the US nuclear-capable B-52H bombers. The exercise will feature multi-role fighters, electronic warfare aircraft, airborne warning and control system…
NATO May Revive Cold War-Era Command to Block Russia – To Inform is to Influence By Theodore Bunker Friday, 19 May 2017 11:11 AM The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is considering a return to a Cold War-era naval command in response to increased Russian submarine activity in the Arctic, and to secure Atlantic sea lanes in case of a conflict, The Wall Street Journal reports. A group of high-ranking officers…
NATO Mulls Arctic and Atlantic Command to Counter Russia – WSJ The North Atlantic Treaty Organization may revive a Cold War naval command to counter Moscow’s increased submarine activity in the Arctic and protect Atlantic sea lanes in the event of a conflict, according to allied diplomats and officials briefed on the planning work.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Latest ‘Hybrid’ Move Against Russia’s Opposition Media Paul Goble Staunton, May 20 – Earlier this week, Vladimir Putin had a meeting with the leaders of some of Russia’s most prominent editors of the opposition media, a session that has sparked controversy because the participants were required to agree not to discuss that had transpired behind closed doors. Dmitry Muratov, the chief editor of Novaya gazeta and one of those who took part, reported on this arrangement in an interview on Dozhd television on Wednesday. And his acknowledgement sparked a firestorm (nr2.lt/News/politics_and_society/O-sekretnoy-vstreche-Putina-s-glavnymi-redaktorami-tak-nazyvaemyh-oppozicionnyh-SMI-125461.html). Civitas editor Rimma Polyak denounced the willingness of opposition journalists to take part in such a meeting where they were required to give a non-disclosure agreement. “Would editors in chief in a democratic country attend a closed meeting with a president?” she asked and suggested Putin was pursuing a kind of “hybrid” campaign against opposition outlets. “It is difficult to imagine a closed meeting of the US president with the editors of The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and so on.” But clearly, she argued, opposition editors in Russia assume that everything is “relative” and that they thus should be willing to do this under Putin. After all, they’ve had 17 years’ experience. Other journalists, including Dmitry Chorny, an editor of Forum-MSK and a member of the Union of Journalists of Moscow, were if anything even more critical, suggesting that what Putin has done is to blur the line between official and opposition journalism and weaken the latter in the eyes of the population (forum-msk.org/material/news/13220742.html).
Russian Oppositionists: We Want to Change Russia, Not Its Leadership Visiting in Lithuania, Russian oppositionists say that they want to change Russia itself, not its leadership. “We do not want to replace a bad king with a good one, one king with another.” We want the tsar to be no more. (…) We want not a person to change a concrete one, we want to change the model, the system itself, “he told journalists on Friday In Trakai (near Vilnius) after the traditional Vilnius Russian forum, oppositionist Vladimir Kara-Murza. He was also echoed by the critic of the Kremlin Mikhail Khodorkovsky who participated in the press conference. He said that he does not yet have hopes for changes in the Russian government. “It is impossible to predict the moment when public patience will end,” Khodorkovsky said. In March 2018, presidential elections will be held in Russia. Most experts suggest that the current president, Vladimir Putin, will participate in these elections, although he himself does not answer this question. Khodorkovsky also said that he can not foresee how the presidential elections of 2018 will unfold, since it is not yet clear whether the officials will limit the opportunities for the opposition to participate in them. “I am not convinced that the Kremlin is interested in seeing that the real opposition generally participated in the elections of 2018. I do not exclude the option that the only possible opposition strategy in these elections will be to invite people to vote against all candidates,” the oppositionist said. V. Kara-Murza noted that historically, changes at the top of Russian politics always begin quickly and unexpectedly, therefore, the opposition and civil society should always be ready for them. M. Khodorkovsky stressed that the most important would be the year 2021, when parliamentary elections will take place in Russia. “This year will form the state that the Rubicon is to cross.” 2024 is Rubicon, when President Putin, according to the current constitution, will have to leave his post, “Khodorkovsky said. On Thursday and Friday in the Trakai region is the Vilnius Russian forum. During the discussions, Russia’s development trends, the economic situation, the topic of combating Russian propaganda, and other pressing issues are assessed, BNS reports.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Abuse of LGBT People in Russia Not Limited to Chechnya Paul Goble Staunton, May 20 – Given the attention Chechnya’s mistreatment of sexual minorities has attracted, including the establishment of what are effectively the first concentration camps since Hitler’s time for LGBT people, many might be excused for thinking that anti-gay attitudes and actions are unique to Chechnya within the Russian Federation. Such thinking could hardly be more wrong. The Russian Federation as a whole has been recognized along with Armenia and Azerbaijan as the most homophobic countries in Europe (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/302844/), and a new map showing the distribution of anti-gay attacks in Russia shows they are countrywide (lgbtrightsinrussia.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/hate-map/). That pattern, which is based only on reported incidents, is especially disturbing because defenders of sexual minorities in Russia say that in more than 90 percent of cases of such attacks, LGBT people in the Russian Federation are afraid to report them to the authorities lest they become victims of official abuse (https://salt.zone/radio/7491). The fact that so many Moscow outlets have given so much attention to the Chechen cases suggests that the Russian authorities may in fact welcome attention to them as a means of distracting others from attacks on LGBT people elsewhere and creating the impression in the West that Chechens rather than Russian citizens more generally are to blame. The Russian authorities may have an additional reason for playing up the Chechen case: anti-gay sentiment is so widespread in Russia that allowing or even promoting stories about what the Chechen government has been doing is a way of normalizing anti-LGBT actions and may even lead to its spread.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Chechnya is to Russia What Puerto Rico is to the US,’ Arutyunov Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 20 – Last week, a conference was organized in Brussels by Chechen activists in the diaspora to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of the accord between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Chechnya, an agreement that if the Russian side had lived up to it would have opened the way for the independence of that North Caucasus land. But as the 90 participants of the conference and commentators about it pointed out, Moscow didn’t do that, preferring instead to relaunch the war against Chechnya and installing the vicious regime of Ramzan Kadyrov who rules Chechnya by a combination of Islamism and violence, thus delaying if not killing the dream of Dzhokhar Dudayev for a free secular stat One hopes that the full transcript of the meeting will eventually be published and thus form part of the historical record indicting both Moscow and especially Vladimir Putin who relaunched the second post-Soviet war and his agent in place, Kadyrov, who had wreaked havoc not only on Chechnya itself but increasingly beyond that republic’s borders. Nonetheless, the reports posted online about the statements of some who took part in the meeting and the reactions of others commenting on it contain the words of some of the participants deserve attention. Among the most important of these two kinds of observations are the following:
Window on Eurasia — New Series: By 2035, a Third of All Russians Will Live in Moscow, Zuyev Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 20 – By the mid-2030s, Sergey Zuyev, an urban specialist at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, says, “more than 30 percent” of Russia’s population will be concentrated in and around the capital,” Moscow, a development that can be either open new possibilities or create new tragedies for the city and the country as a whole. This outcome, the coordinator of the experts group for the development of a plan for the socio-economic development of Moscow, says not only reflects the growth in the population of Moscow by 4.5 million since 1991 but also the perhaps as many as 4 million more that demolishing the khrushchoby may make possible(rosbalt.ru/moscow/2017/05/18/1616213.html). Moscow already has a population density almost that of Hong Kong, something that is “neither good nor bad” in itself, he continues. That is because if there is sufficient infrastructure, it can stimulate “the development of new kinds of production and new economics” but if it reflects only the growth of housing within such infrastructure can lead to disaster. Most of the growth of Moscow since 1991 reflects immigration first by Russian speakers from non-Russian countries or from Russia east of the Urals, mostly of people will relatively high levels of education, and more recently by gastarbeiters from Central Asia, who have been increasing Moscow’s population over the last 15 years by 50-60,000 annually. “Moscow has one very big problem,” Zuyev says. “It is absolutely monocentric. In a very small area are concentrated all functions which make the city a city: administrative, political, cultural, touristic, and business. The issue here is not even in roads [and other forms of infrastructure] but in functional divisions.” There should appear “alternative centers of attraction for human, transportation, and financial-economic flows. This is an issue of a serious special policy in the framework of which the project of the renovation [of the five-storey khrushchoby] should be a part” rather than simply an isolated program as now. An agglomeration of the kind Moscow is becoming, Zuyev argues, “requires greater special flexibility than that provided by those administrative borders which formally exist now.” The Troitsk and New Moscow administrative districts are a good start, but they “don’t solve the problems.” A general strategy about housing, infrastructure, and new centers is needed. “Such major megalopolises like Moscow are world cities,” set apart from other cities. As a result, even now, Zuyev suggests, “the difference between Moscow and Mumbai or Los Angeles, on the one hand, is significantly less than between Moscow and Tula, on the other” (emphasis supplied). Unfortunately, he says, neither Russia nor other countries have “adequate administrative mechanisms” to deal with such dominant cities on which the economic development of these countries depends not only within each of the cities but also between them and the increasingly depopulated countries surrounding them.
Think Of The Children: Russian Officials Fret Over Youthful Protesters Matvei had a hunch about what was coming when the 17-year-old and his peers were pulled out of class last week and led to their high school's auditorium in the central Russian city of Tolyatti. …
Moscow’s Efforts to Erase Circassian History Are Backfiring – Jamestown Like the tsarist authorities who expelled the Circassians from the North Caucasus in 1864, an action many refer to as an “act of genocide,” and the Soviet ones who divided that nation up into a series of smaller ethnic communities, including the Adygei, the Kabardin, the Cherkessk and the Shapsugs, the Russian government of Vladimir Putin is devoting ever greater efforts to erasing the Circassians from the pages of history. The Kremlin’s goal appears to be to prevent the once largest Muslim nationality in the North Caucasus from recovering its sense of unity and from challenging Moscow’s control of that region. In an article entitled “Forget about the Circassians: They No Longer Exist,” Circassian activist Anzor Daur discusses just how far this process has gone since Putin became president. While some post-Soviet Russian officials earlier acknowledged that the area Russians call the Kuban was once populated by and ruled over by Circassians, today they, in lock step, refuse to even concede that fact as tensions with Kyiv have heated up over whether that region should belong to Russia or Ukraine (On Kavkaz, May 16; Windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com, May 14). But Moscow’s effort to rewrite history in this case is having exactly the opposite effect the Kremlin intends. It has provoked Circassians both in the North Caucasus and abroad to focus on Moscow’s methods and to mobilize to oppose them by speaking out and demanding that their history be recognized and their holidays celebrated. This past Sunday (May 14), for example, the Maikop city organization Adyge Khase–Circassian Council issued a declaration pointing out that neither Ukraine nor Russia should be talking about the Kuban as if it had always belonged to one or the other. In fact, the Council pointed out, it was Circassian before the Russians killed or expelled most of their ancestors (Kavkazr.com, May 15). “One should not try to divide the skin of a living ‘bear,’ ” the Council continued. It declared that the Kuban and many other parts of Circassia were emptied of their population “as a result of the genocide of the indigenous population, a genocide already partially recognized, including by the Kabardino-Balkar Republic and the Adygei Republic, which are part of the Russian Federation, as well as by Georgia and the Unrecognized Peoples Organization.” It called on Russian officials to end “the falsification of the history of the Kuban, to order the removal of monuments to tsarist generals of the Russian-Caucasus war,” and “to not forget about the rights and interests of the Circassians.” Avraam Shmulyevich, an Israeli specialist on the Caucasus, points out that “the Zaporozhian Ukrainians and the Circassians have become victims of Moscow’s policies.” They are in fact “brothers connected by a common origin,” and now Ukraine should “support both the return of Circassian lands to their lawful owners and also the construction of a democratic Circassia in which all residents will have equal rights,” both Circassians and “the descendants of Ukrainians” who were expelled from there. The latter, he says, should be allowed to “freely return” to this restored state where they will be able to “develop Ukrainian Cossack culture” (Kavkazr.com, May 15). But Moscow shows little sign that it might be willing to meet the Circassians even part way. Instead, Russian officials have been doing what they can to interfere with all efforts by Circassians to recall their history and restore their national unity, an effort that is particularly worrisome in the lead-up to May 21, when Circassians around the world—the more than 500,000 still in the North Caucasus homeland and the more than five million abroad—will mark the 153rd anniversary of the Russian expulsion of their nation to the Ottoman Empire. What Moscow is likely to do later this week is suggested by what it did on April 25, when officials in Kabardino-Balkaria interfered with the celebration of the Day of the Circassian National Flag. According to one participant in that celebration, “the powers that be react to such measures with caution […] trying not to show this openly,” because the Circassians are recovering their pride and unity and the Russian officials are afraid of triggering clashes that could make Moscow’s position in the North Caucasus even worse (Kavkazr.com, May 5).
For Family Of Tajik Police Commander Who Joined IS, ‘Constant Fear’ Life has "turned into a nightmare" for the family of a former Tajik police colonel who left the Central Asian country two years ago and joined the extremist group Islamic State (IS), hi…
BBC: Mexican mob attacks Russian over insults in Cancun (Video) A Russian man has been put into protective custody in hospital after he was attacked by a crowd of angry Mexicans in Cancun, authorities say, according to the BBC. News 21 May from UNIAN.
Russia is interested in the Belarusian army being equipped with modern technology The Russian-Belarusian military-technical cooperation (MTC) is developing dynamically, all applications of the Belarusian side are being considered. This was reported to journalists on Sunday by the head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FS of the Military-Technical Cooperation) Dmitry Shugaev. “In Russia, there is interest in ensuring that the Belarusian army has modern technology,” Interfax quoted Shugaeva as saying . In turn, the head of the Belarusian State Military-Industrial Committee, Sergei Gurulev, noted: “There is no storm in our MTC, there are no tides and tides.” Speaking about possible cases of competition between the defense industry complexes of the Russian Federation and Belarus, Dmitry Shugaev noted: “Taking into account our relations, we are coordinating all our actions in the sphere of military-technical cooperation.” Sergei Gurulev added: “Coordination is the ability to complement each other.” Bilateral military-technical cooperation is carried out on the basis of the 2010 agreement. Speaking about the prospects for the development of bilateral military-technical cooperation, Gurulev noted that they are connected with the project of the deployment of special technical centers for the repair of air defense, electronic warfare, armored vehicles. “I am sure that this project has a future … Russia is one of the undisputed leaders in the production of armored vehicles – I’m talking like a tankman. It is a fact. But there are a number of issues in which a strong Belarus. This is a fire control system, an intelligence system, an aiming system. The combination consists in the possibility of complementing each other. Let it be first in the interests of third countries, although it’s no secret that we work together on armored subjects, “said the head of the State Committee for Trade and Industry. “Other issues are also coordinated. Each head of the enterprise has an interest in entering this or that market. Our task – the leaders of competent state bodies – is to create such conditions that both the Belarusian side and the Russian side benefit more than the harm from non-interaction, “said Sergey Gurulev.
The creator of the “White Legion”: Lukashenka does not rule the country According to the founder and former leader of the White Legion, Sergei Numval, arrested persons involved in the “patriotic affairs” are tortured and exposed to psychotropic substances in the SIZO. Создатель “Белого легиона”: Страной управляет не Лукашенко In an interview with Belsat, Sergei Chislov (Bulba) said that he knew about the situation of the arrested, how the information cover of the “White Legion” case was carried out, and also about his vision of the situation in Belarus. “Figures of the case who got into the” American “, especially at first, were beaten and allowed to drink a” mineral “, after which people fell into euphoria, lost their minds and could not remember what they were doing at that time. Two months, and the wives have never been allowed to meet? Why are there difficulties in accessing lawyers? It is known that the first three interrogations of Miroslav Lozovsky were held without a lawyer, he was allowed only three days after his arrest … “, says Chislov. According to him, some were released earlier under a subscription, as they feared that they could not survive for the state of health and die after beatings and jail – to spoil the statistics. “Some of them were really released on subscription, because they almost died after being beaten in jail, but it was at the very beginning, there is no such information now, there is an impression that the authorities themselves do not know what to do with them now, since even that They wrote “under the mineralogy” – for the case is clearly not enough, “- said the founder of the White Legion. According to him, “American” and its special staff for that and exists to break a person. Since the time when political prisoners were held in 2010, nothing has changed. How then was the script developed by someone in the depths of the secret services, and now. “The information war connected with the White Legion moved from the internal space to the outside, from the direct multiple presentation of weapons to the BT switched to more, so to speak, subtle work.” Now the Foreign Ministry’s time. “The Foreign Ministry delegation recruited” beautiful, presentable “students of democratic circles Which, apparently, does not depend on whom to get money, it is this “liberal” detachment, especially in private conversations with representatives of foreign diplomatic circles, who says that in fact the White Legion is ultra- There are also “neo-Nazis” who appeared in my circle of friends and called on them to keep silent about how to forget about the arrested people, and then, God forbid, they recognize political prisoners and impose sanctions, and immediately explain that Lukashenka does not care for sanctions, but the people of Belarus From sanctions will suffer.So now our friends are actually hostages to other people’s games, “said Sergei Chislov. He noted that Europe today can help us exclusively with education – to share our experience and support new public projects (when they appear). It is new. Just sanctions or just loans in exchange for political prisoners here will not help. For the authorities – this has long been a means to knock out money. “European diplomats often ask a rhetorical question: how can Europe continue to interact with the Belarusian authorities?” The understanding is that our piece of the USSR can not be reformed, the power and the opposition are hanging in the past. “The ideology of the new system, which will be based Not on narrow nationalism, this is the primary task for the Belarusian intelligentsia.Citizen Lukashenko will die.Our concern should not be about him.The creation of a new system is what we should now do. The experience of Ukraine very eloquently shows that no revolution is worth the blood spilled for it, if it does not carry a new system, “said Chislov. There is a version that the case of the “White Legion” was initiated by the FSB through agents of its influence in the Belarusian special services. According to the founder of the White Legion, this is very likely. “The spring of 2017 clearly shows that it is not Lukashenka who manages the country.” The thesis that if there is not Lukashenko, then Russia will also have to be removed, because where is not Russia now? The school? The television? The society? Where? Once In late February, Lukashenka began talking about healthy patriotism and the need to rewrite history books from the Polotsk principality – so “his” siloviki asked him and the country another trajectory, “Sergei Chislov summed up.
Seven things we learned about WannaCry – CNET The cyberattack is one of the worst of its kind in history, disrupting businesses, hospitals and government agencies. Here’s everything we know so far.
Ransomware and Microsoft’s Legal Duty to Fix Software | Fortune.com Microsoft has no legal duty to fix old software vulnerabilities, like what was used in WannaCry, it has an ethical one.
Russia deploys six nuclear warheads in Crimea – Dzhemilev The Ukrainian president's envoy to the Crimean Tatar people and Crimean Tatar leader, Ukrainian MP Mustafa Dzhemilev has said in an interview with UATV that Russia deployed six nuclear warheads in Crimea, according to LIGA.net. News 20 May from UNIAN.
Ukraine’s Independence Is Still Essential To U.S. Security And Stability BY VICTOR RUD — Ukraine’s independence is a sine qua non for not just American security, but global security and stability. Supporting it is the safest, most effective and cheapest strategy to counterbalance accelerating Russian aggression.
A Ukrainian Comes to Washington, Urging His Nation Not Be Forgotten – The New York Times A former prime minister is warning the administration that Russia intends to “set a fire to the whole house of the free world.” Ukraine, he says, should stay on the agenda.
Ukraine seeks weapons from Ottawa to help fend off Russia-backed rebels – The Globe and MailFormer PM says new Trump administration presents fresh opportunity for his country to seek military assistance from U.S. and Canada
Poroshenko urges West to act decisively to make Russia implement Minsk agreements Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko calls on the Western partners to act more decisively to make the Russian Federation implement the Minsk agreements, an UNIAN correspondent reports following the president's joint press conference with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, held in the residence of the German Federal Government, Schloss Meseberg, in the town of Gransee, Brandenburg. News 20 May from UNIAN.
Merkel tells Poroshenko she wants new talks for Ukraine | News | DW | 20.05.2017 German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told President Petro Poroshenko that she wants to see Ukraine’s peace process restarted. Poroshenko says he sees no alternative to agreements reached in Minsk in 2014 and 2015.
Merkel wants to restart Minsk talks on eastern Ukraine – Europe – Stripes German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Ukraine’s president that she wants to initiate new talks on the stagnant peace process in his country.
US Scrutinizes Ukraine Ban on Russian Websites Crackdown on Russian web in response to ‘fake news’
Russia asks WTO to look into sanctions by Ukraine on Moscow: agencies | Reuters Russia has sent a request to the World Trade Organization asking to hold consultations over Ukraine’s sanctions against Moscow, in place since 2014, Russian Economy Minister Maxim Oreshkin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies on Saturday.Ukraine Shuts Down Putin’s FacebookPoroshenko cites Russian cyberattacks around the world.
Russian VKontakte social network sets traffic record in Ukraine | Russia Beyond The Headlines ‘Our social network became most popular internet resource in the country’
48 attacks, seven Ukrainian servicemen wounded yesterday, – ATO HQ 21.05.17 09:41 – Seven Ukrainian servicemen wounded yesterday, – ATO HQ The situation in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) zone remains tense as the militants attack Armed Forces of Ukraine with heavy artillery. View news.
Seven Ukrainian soldiers wounded in Donbas war in past 24 hours Seven Ukrainian soldiers were wounded in shelling in Donbas in the past day, according to the press center of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) headquarters. News 21 May from UNIAN.
Militants shelled Avdiivka with 122 mm guns 21.05.17 11:31 – Militants shelled Avdiivka with 122 mm guns Our soldiers did not fire back but were ready to repeal the militants’ attacks at any time. View news.
State border guard service finishing installation of ‘wall’ in Kharkiv region, works underway in Sumy, Luhansk regions Head of Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service Viktor Nazarenko has said that the authority is finishing works to create the intellectual guarding model for the state border with Russia in Kharkiv region. Works are underway in Sumy and Luhansk regions.“…
In my heart, I’m dancing.” A message from the girl who rescued over 200 wounded defenders -Euromaidan Press | Medical volunteer Yana Zinkevych, aged 21, saved over 200 lives on the frontline in Donbas but nearly lost hers in a car crash. Despite having traumas said to be incompatible with life, she survived, suffering intense spinal, rib, and internal injuries. For two months, Ukrainian and Israeli doctors fought for her life and managed to piece together her spine. It was then when Zinkevych discovered she was pregnant. Doctors told her she would have no chances of carrying out the baby, but despite all odds she gave birth to a daughter. The young woman was 19 years old and was planning to enter the Medical Faculty of Lviv National University, but the outbreak of the war in Donbas in spring 2014 changed her plans. Instead, Zinkevych left for the front and founded the Hospitaliery medical volunteer battalion, which was soon taken under the auspices of the Volunteer Ukrainian Corps, a part of the Right Sector Organization. Although she had no medical qualifications, she learned how to perform operations and have commands to a battalion of men. Together with her fellow soldiers from Hospitaliery, Zinkevych saved thousands of lives during the days of the most fierce fighting in Donbas during 2014-2015. For her bravery, she was given four awards: the Hero of the People of Ukraine award, the Order of Merit (Third Class), the For Saving Lives award, and the Martial Prowess award. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, Zinkevych manages the Hospitaliery medical volunteers battalion that she founded. The story of her love, hope, and endless will to live was condensed into a recent post, which we have translated for you.
Ukrainian PM acknowledges threats on Israel, advises Jewish state to be vigilant – Israel News – Jerusalem Post Ukrainian PM Volodymyr Groysman cautioned Israel against the threats it faces and said that he was convinced the Jewish state could identify with the Ukraine’s plight of dealing with terror.
Turkey publishes agreement with Ukraine on travel with use of ID cards The Resmi Gazete, the official publication of the Republic of Turkey, has published an agreement with Ukraine on travel of both countries' citizens with the use of ID cards, according to Chairman of the State Migration Service of Ukraine Maksym Sokoliuk. News 21 May from UNIAN.
Joseph Stalin and His Secret Police Chief to Face Charges in Ukraine Over Crimean Deportations Ukraine’s general prosecutor said it will charge Stalin and Lavrenti Beria over 70-year-old crimes, and is still investigating the mass starvation of 1932-33.
Washington can become first US state to recognize Holodomor as genocide of Ukrainian people – LB.ua news portal Washington can become first US state to recognize Holodomor as genocide of Ukrainian people. These days the Congress of the State of Washington may pass a resolution recognizing the Holodomor as an act of genocide of the Ukrainian people. If adopted, this will be the first legal recognition of this kind in the US history. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today
Ukraine Survives Without Coal From Russia-Controlled Donbas – Jamestown In spite of a blockade on shipments of anthracite coal from occupied Donbas to Ukrainian thermal power plants (TPPs) since this past winter, the country has thus far avoided blackouts. Moreover, Ukraine has managed to increase power generation by 2.1 percent year over year in January–April (Interfax-Ukraine, May 13). This was mainly thanks to heavy reliance on nuclear energy, but warm weather and lower consumption by industry also helped. Ahead of the next heating season, which kicks off in October, Ukraine is going to replace Donbas-sourced anthracite with imported coal, while also converting its thermal power plants to use alternative fuels. Ukrainian nationalists began to block roads leading into the Moscow-backed so-called Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” (DPR, LPR) at the end of January, protesting against what they saw as profiteering from the war by Ukrainian tycoon Rinat Akhmetov at consumers’ expense (see EDM, February 24, 28). They claimed that the government agreed to pay for coal extracted at Akhmetov’s mines, located in the Russia-controlled areas, according to the so-called Rotterdam-plus formula, so it was as expensive as if it were shipped from the Netherlands (Zn.ua, February 17). Because of the blockade, Ukrainian TPPs were left without anthracite from the DPR and LPR territories, and the government warned in February that almost a third of Ukraine would face blackouts by April. Still, the protests gained momentum, and in March Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko banned all cargo traffic with the occupied eastern territories. As a result, five out of the six Ukrainian TPPs that used to burn anthracite stopped operations in April (see EDM, March 29). But even with many of its TPPs offline, Ukraine was not plunged into blackouts, thanks to a combination of factors. February and March were unusually warm, so less coal was used for heating. Industry also consumed less power because the Donbas blockade not only affected power generation, but also subdued output in metallurgy and the engineering industry. For example, after growth last year and in January, metal production plunged year on year by 4.3 percent in February and by 2.2 percent in March (Ukrstat.gov.ua, accessed on May 16). Also, thermal power was partially replaced with nuclear power, so the share of nuclear plants in power generation jumped from 52 percent in 2016 to 57 percent in January–April (Interfax, May 15). However, Ukraine cannot continue to heavily rely on nuclear reactors, as it will be necessary to shut them down for scheduled maintenance later in the year. Meanwhile, domestic power consumption is likely to grow, as the economy continues to expand. To remedy this situation, Ukraine plans to increase coal imports, while adapting its TPPs to use lower-quality G-grade coal, which is extracted outside the occupied areas and can be easily imported, in place of anthracite. The Ukrainian government does not want to increase coal imports from Russia on principle, because of the war, so Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman suggested buying coal from as far as the United States, South Africa and Australia (Ukrinform.ua, March 21). However, that might be prohibitively expensive, given the transportation costs involved. On April 25, Sakhnakhshiri, a company based across the Black Sea in Georgia, won a tender to deliver 700,000 tons of coal to Ukraine to the state company Tsentrenergo, which runs two of the five power plants stopped due to the coal shortage. Sakhnakhshiri is to deliver coal to Ukraine in May–December. However, there have been doubts about this supplier, showing the pitfalls Ukraine may encounter while looking for a replacement to Donbas anthracite. Sakhnakhshiri faced only one competitor in the tender, a little-known firm registered in Poland but linked to a Ukrainian citizen, whose bid price was only $38 higher than Sakhnakhshiri’s. So there was little or no competition (Liga.net, April 26). Furthermore, Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili said on his Facebook page on April 27 that Sakhnakhshiri might end up buying coal for Ukraine in Russia, and he questioned the transparency of the deal. Georgia, said Saakashvili, could not produce so much coal of the quality asked by Tsentrenergo. Coal bought from Russia may turn out to be coal that was originally shipped to Russia by the DPR-LPR authorities. Meanwhile, both the government and Akhmetov’s DTEK, Ukraine’s biggest private energy company, are working to convert their TPPs to G-grade coal. DTEK CEO Maksym Tymchenko said in an interview that one of his firm’s TPPs was currently being converted, and conversion of another plant was already planned (Epravda.com.ua, April 27). DTEK also began to buy anthracite from South Africa (Dtek.com, April 13). Energy Minister Ihor Nasalyk told a recent government meeting that power units at two of Tsentrenergo’s TPPs would use G-grade coal by the end of 2017. Along with the construction of new power transmission lines from nuclear plants and new hydropower units, this should allow Ukraine to replace about four million tons of Donbas anthracite in power generation, Kyiv hopes (Mpe.kmu.gov.ua, April 26). Ukraine has learned to survive without natural gas purchases from Russia’s Gazprom (see EDM, February 11, 2016). This year, it is learning to live without coal from the areas controlled by Russia-backed militants. This is vital for Ukraine’s highly energy-dependent industry, which is expected to increase production this year, supporting GDP growth for the second year in a row, after deep recession in 2014–2015.
Ukraine Says No To Russian Coal, Gas – Favors Nuclear Power | OilPrice.com Despite the blockade on coal shipments, Ukraine has managed to increase power generation thanks to its reliance on nuclear energy
Euronews Ukraine to go off air on 21 May – LB.ua news portal Euronews Ukraine to go off air on 21 May. The service was opened six years ago. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today
First oyster farm in mainland Ukraine plans to ramp up production -Euromaidan Press | Skifian Oyster, the first oyster farm in mainland Ukraine, appeared in 2014. The name refers to Scythia, the ancient Greek name for the northern coast of the Black Sea and all the lands north-east of Europe. The enterprise is situated on the coast of the Black Sea. The farm employs 5 persons, 15 more persons work for the company. Today the farm produces 40 tons of oysters per year and plans to ramp up production to 100 tons per year. The enterprise was founded by a former owner of an IT company, Andre Pigulevsky. He decided to establish his new business when he learned the history of oyster farming in Ukraine. It turned out that Ukraine was a world-famous oyster exporter in the 1880’s. Co-owner of the company Serge Stakhov worked in the construction field and participated in infrastructure projects before he switched to oyster farming.
Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports
Trump seeks ‘reset’ with Islamic world amid political tumult at home | Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump, struggling to shake a brewing scandal at home, will attempt a reset on Sunday with the Islamic world after frequently attacking Muslims on the campaign trail last year and trying to ban many from the United States.
What is Ardah Dance and How Saudi King Salman Performed It? | Arabian Gulf Life King Salman performed Ardha dance during his 4 nations visit, from his four visits this is a second visit to Qatar. Emir of Qatar, royal families and public
Donald Trump lands in Saudi Arabia for ‘big foreign trip’ | Daily Mail Online Trump flew to the Saudi capital Riyadh overnight on Air Force One – becoming the only president to make Saudi Arabia, or any majority Muslim country, his first stop abroad as president.
Trump gets royal welcome during ‘tremendous’ Saudi Arabia visit | TheHill President Trump, on his first trip abroad as president, hailed a cascade of meetings and ceremonies with Saudi officials as a “tremendous” success, as controversies surrounding his administration mounted back home. Upon arriving in Riyadh – his first stop on a nine-day trip to five countries – on Saturday, the president and his wife Melania were greeted on a lush red carpet by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman. And during a meeting at the Saudi Royal Court, Trump received the country’s stop civilian honor, the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal. The visit culminated on Saturday with the signing of a pledge to “counter violent extremism, disrupt the financing of terrorism and advance defense cooperation” between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, as well as a massive arms sale to the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom worth nearly $110 billion. ADVERTISEMENT The arms sale touches broadly on bolstering Saudi air and missile defense, cybersecurity and border and maritime security, as well as modernization of the country’s air force. Among the equipment secured by Saudi Arabia was tanks, planes, helicopters and a THAAD antimissile system.
How the United States Is Turning Saudi Arabia Into a Military Juggernaut | The National Interest Blog The Trump Administraion announces over $100 Billion in arms sales to Riyadh—including some of Washington’s most advanced pieces of hardware.
As President Donald Trump begins an official visit to Saudi Arabia, the U.S. finalized a weapons deal that boosts the Kingdom’s security.
Arms Deals With Saudi Arabia Have Started As Trump Heads To Riyadh | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis – IBD Saudi Arabia has reportedly reached a deal to buy four Lockheed Littoral Combat ships for $6 billion dollars Friday.
Trumps signs $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on ‘a tremendous day’ – ABC News Trumps signs $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on ‘a tremendous day’
US-Saudi arms deal includes plan to assemble 150 Blackhawks in Saudi Arabia: official | Reuters A U.S.-Saudi arms deal to be signed on Saturday includes a pledge to assemble 150 Lockheed Martin Blackhawk helicopters in Saudi Arabia, an official statement about the deal said.
Classy and conservative: US First Lady Melania Trump praised for ‘elegantly respectful’ KSA look JEDDAH: The first lady’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia without a wearing a head covering prompted headlines across the globe on Saturday — but many in the Kingdom took to social media to comment on her classy and conservative look. Melania Trump landed in the Saudi capital of Riyadh wearing a Stella McCartney jumpsuit adorned with a statement belt, which was the most eye-catching feature of the all-black overall.
The Battle for Yemen: A Quagmire for Saudi Arabia and the UAE – Jamestown The Saudi- and Emirati-led war in Yemen has been ongoing for 26 months. The war, which began on March 26, 2015 and was ambitiously named “Operation Decisive Storm,” has achieved none of its stated intentions (al-Arabiya, March 26, 2015). The primary aim was the reinstallation of Yemen’s deeply unpopular president, Abd Raboo Mansur Hadi. However, Hadi, who many Yemenis view as a traitor, remains in exile in Saudi Arabia along with most of his government. Its other goal was to defeat Yemen’s Houthis, a Zaidi Shia organization that is now allied with many of the most capable units of what was the Yemeni Army. While the Houthis and their allies were pushed out of the port city of Aden and, most recently, the small Red Sea port of al-Mocha, the Houthis have retained control of the capital of Sanaa and most of northwest Yemen (Gulf News, February 10). For months, the frontlines in what is a complex multi-actor civil war have remained fixed. This is despite the fact that both Saudi Arabia and the Emirates have spent billions of dollars on unrelenting and devastating — at least for Yemen’s civilians — airstrikes, and backed a disparate mix of anti-Houthi forces and ground forces made up primarily of mercenaries. Rather than the short decisive intervention envisioned by Saudi Arabia’s princes and generals, the war is a quagmire with no military solution. Yemen’s physical and political terrains are unkind to outsiders. Even a cursory reading of Yemen’s history shows that both have proven fatal for invaders. Yet rather than reevaluating their intervention in this complex civil war, both Saudi Arabia and the Emirates seem poised not only to continue but also to enhance their involvement with further weapons shipments to dubious forces. It also seems likely that they will launch a possible offensive on the port of Hodeidah, at present controlled by both Houthi forces and their allies.
Why Israel Thinks Trump Is Focusing on the Wrong Enemy in Syria – Bloomberg Plenty of young Israelis still go hiking through the Golan Heights, even though there’s a war next door.
Final Rebels Leave Homs Under Syrian Evacuation Deal The last Syrian rebel fighters and their families began leaving the final opposition-held neighborhood in Homs, a move that will bring the city under full control of President Bashir al-Assad'…
Analysis: Six Takeaways From Rohani’s Victory In Iran President Hassan Rohani has won a second presidential term in Iran, comprehensively beating his main challenger, the conservative ex-prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi. A victory with over 50 percent of th…
DPRK / PRC Reports
North Korea Fires Medium-Range Ballistic Missile – The New York Times The missile took off from a location near Pukchang, northeast of Pyongyang and fell into the Sea of Japan.North Korea fires missile into waters off east coast | Reutersmin Park
The North Korean nuclear threat is very real. Time to start treating it that way. – The Washington Post Pyongyang is nuclear-armed and is determined to remain that way, despite sanctions and diplomacy.
Top diplomats offer signs of Sino-US progress on handling North Korea | South China Morning Post Undeterred by East China Sea intercept, Yang and Tillerson agree to closer cooperation between China and United States
Exclusive: North Korea’s Unit 180, the cyber warfare cell that worries the West | Reuters min Park and James Pearson
North Korean Hackers Are Scarier Than North Korean Nukes Cyberwar “has the whiff of 1945. It’s a new class of weapon, never before used.”
Finding Megumi: Michael Kirby calls for ‘peaceful initiatives’ on North KoreaAustralian judge Michael Kirby’s return to Tokyo reminds us of the human suffering behind the international debate over North Korea and its behaviour.
No, Washington did not help create the crisis in North Korea – The Washington Post Look to North Korea’s behavior on nuclear weapons, not its agreements.
Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations – The New York Times At least 18 C.I.A. sources were killed or imprisoned in China between 2010 and 2012, one of the worst intelligence breaches in decades. Investigators still disagree about how it happened.
China Imprisoned or Killed Multiple CIA Sources to the U.S. Between 2010 and 2012 The ‘New York Times’ reported that China killed or imprisoned 18 to 20 CIA sources from 2010 to 2012. Investigators remain divided over whether there was a spy within the CIA who betrayed the sources or whether the Chinese hacked the CIA’s covert communications system
Thinking the Unthinkable: Are American Organizations in China Ready for a Serious Crisis? – Jamestown Since the 2016 General Election, American relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have followed a rollercoaster-like trajectory. Days before his inauguration, President Trump briefly reversed decades of predictable American conduct in a telephone conversation with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and hinted a departure from the “one China policy,” (CNA.com.tw, December 3, 2016; Reuters, January 12). During his confirmation hearings, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson proposed blocking access to China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea and triggered an outraged response from Beijing (C-SPAN, January 11, Global Times, January 13). Then came the public reversals. With little explanation, Trump endorsed “One China” during his call with Chinese President Xi Jinping in early February (Xinhuanet, February 10). PRC Prime Minister Li Keqiang subsequently expressed optimism about the U.S.-China relationship in the lead up to the Xi-Trump meeting in early April (XinhuaNet and New York Times, March 15). During Secretary of State Tillerson’s visit to Beijing a week later, he adopted Chinese phraseology to describe the bilateral relationship, something that previous U.S. administrations had carefully avoided (Xinhuanet and Washington Post, March 19). If this was solace for some who seek signs of stability in this important bilateral relationship, the events that followed betrayed potential for future instability . The new American president appears committed to punishing China for its trade surplus, and the U.S. Navy plans to enhance “freedom of navigation operations” near China’s artificial islands in the South China Sea (Navy Times, February 12). Meanwhile, early Chinese objections to American THAAD anti-missile defenses in South Korea became a hotter topic with their rushed deployment in March, and April brought disquiet to Chinese policymakers in the form of the U.S. missile strike against Syria and the deployment of the USS Carl Vinson strike group to Northeast Asia (Hangzhou Military television, July 11; China Daily, March 15; Navy Times, April 9). Trump now views Chinese assistance with North Korea as essential.
What is Known and Unknown about Changes to the PLA’s Ground Combat Units – Jamestown The long-awaited changes in the operational and tactical units of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have begun with a formal announcement by President Xi Jinping in April 2017. After initiating major reforms in late 2015 and throughout 2016, the Central Military Commission (CMC), service headquarters, and military regions (now theater commands) have been reorganized resulting in the reallocation of many personnel and the demobilization of an unknown number of active duty personnel. But, as part of the ongoing 300,000 man reduction, even larger cuts in personnel will follow as headquarters and units at corps/army-level and below are eliminated, re-subordinated, or restructured. By 2020, when the structural changes now underway are scheduled for completion, the PLA should number two million active duty personnel. Though the reforms since 2015 are the most significant set of changes for the PLA since the 1950s, they are but an intermediate step, the 2020 milestone, in the PLA’s “three-step development strategy” initially announced in 2006. The strategy’s final goal was modified in 2008 and defined as “reach[ing] the goal of modernization of national defense and armed forces by the mid-21st century.”  As such, more adjustments to the PLA’s structure and capabilities can be expected over the next three decades as technology improves and China’s domestic and the international situations change. Throughout this process the reforms will be evaluated to determine if they meet the objectives of building a strong military to defend China’s core security requirements, capable of deterring and winning informationized wars, and accomplishing a variety of military operations other than war such as anti-terrorism, internal stability maintenance, disaster relief, and international peacekeeping and humanitarian relief operations (MOD, May 26, 2015).
China’s Global Power Projection Hit With “Strategic Overdraft” – Jamestown Despite the tough challenges facing the Chinese economy, President and “core leader” Xi Jinping is going ahead with ambitious plans to project Chinese power worldwide including the landmark One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. Xi is expected to announce a new series of projects linking China with Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa at an OBOR international forum scheduled for mid-May Beijing. Xi, who is personally supervising the scheme in via the Central Leading Group on OBOR Construction Work, apparently hopes to boost China’s agenda-setting capacity in global economic discourse. Xi and his colleagues have taken advantage of U.S. President Donald Trump’s nationalist and anti-globalization stance to emphasize Beijing’s eagerness to provide leadership in combatting protectionism and promoting free trade. While OBOR is being given top billing across the gamut of state media, a small number of relatively liberal Chinese academics are raising misgivings about the viability and sustainability of Xi’s global undertaking. Foremost among these critics is Renmin University international affairs specialist Shi Yinhong (时殷弘), who is also a counselor or advisor to the State Council. In a late 2016 article entitled “China Must Guard Against Strategic Overdraft,” Shi pointed out that the Chinese Communist Party leadership must exercise caution regarding “strategic military” (sabre rattling by the People’s Liberation Army) and “strategic economics” (projecting power through economic means such has underwriting projects along the OBOR). He argued that China must “prevent excessive expansionism, which will result in ‘strategic overdraft’” (战略透支) (Phoenix TV, October 4, 2016; Lianhe Zaobao [Singapore], September 21, 2016). 
Foreign Policy Reports
Davis warns Britain will quit talks if EU demands €100bn | News | The Times & The Sunday Times Britain will walk away from Brexit talks unless Brussels drops demands to charge it €100bn to leave the European Union, David Davis warns today.In an intervi
With Washington in Chaos, China Runs the Table in Asia Editor’s Note: This was originally published by The Interpreter, which is published by the Lowy Institute for International Policy, an independent, nonpart
US Domestic Policy Reports
EW: President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration – To Inform is to Influence US EW just got a leader. </end editorial> The White House Office of the Press Secretary For Immediate Release May 19, 2017 President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Additions to his Administration President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts President Donald J. Trump today announced his intent to nominate…
How The Trump-Russia Scandal Is Playing In Russia : NPR NPR’s Scott Simon talks with Julia Ioffe of The Atlantic about how this week’s news is being received in Russia, and the state of U.S.-Russia relations.
Even If Dana Rohrabacher Was a Russian Asset, Would He Know? | WIRED Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is totally onto the Russian spies trying to recruit him. But knowing he’s a target doesn’t necessarily protect him from their influence.
‘Am I getting money from Russia? No,’ Rep. Dana Rohrabacher says – LA Times Rep. Dana Rohrabacher laughed when a reporter from The Hill newspaper asked Friday whether he is getting paid by Russia.”Am I getting m…