Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 23 May 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting. 

In the section on US domestic reporting, some are necessary.  The Russia inquiry is on Russia influencing the US election. I have deleted all US domestic politically motivated inquiries.

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MSM orgy over Manchester tragedy, NB Harding commentary on the ghouls of the fake media “industry” monetising the misery and pain of the victims.

Russia traffic today is mostly of non-Russian origin, with a deluge of reports and analysis. Pifer studies Russian military as used in Ukraine, Kowalki looks at countering A2/AD, one of a tiny handful of contemporary analyses compared to the robust late Cold War era debate on dealing with Russian capabilities. Kulesa/Frear argument not that strong, very ELN. Maxfield’s essay should be widely distributed – oil bubble has shrunk Russian GDP by 40% making it a collapse 35% more severe than the Great Depression in the US in 1929. The import of this is that Putin will take ever increasing risks as time goes on. Kuzio essay is important – the West has lauded and helped Russian opposition groups that too often share Putin’s obsession with restoring the Empire – last week highly rated Dozd TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak attacked Ukraine over the social media ban yet Dozhd has been equally complicit with others in supporting Putin’s campaign against Ukraine. RAND report surveys current Russian delusions. Multiple reports on Russian corruption and propaganda.

IW/IO/Cyber again dominated by Russia, some of the propaganda worth Choke on Coffee Warnings, it is truly grotesque.

In Ukraine, Donbass fires continue at lower rate, Ukraine stating this is typical before Western meetings with Russia to bamboozle Western bureaucrats that the situation is improving. Ukraine’s campaign to sever remaining ties to Russia ramps up, while SBU details massive Russian campaign to form civic “fake communities” to form fifth column base inside Ukraine. More on Manafort saving the pro-Russian political camp from annihilation in the 2014 parliamentary election. FM Klimkin on Tartar deportation in WSJ.

POTUS visit to Jerusalem saturating MSM.

More on DPRK Pukguksong-2 test, while Russia nearly doubles deliveries of coal and oil to the DPRK – never miss an opportunity to spite the US and its Allies.

Manchester tragedy dominating foreign policy in the MSM.

US domestic debate on Russia remains very active.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Europe’s largest aviation drills kick off near Russian border | Defence Blog The Air Forces of Finland, Norway and Sweden today launched the third edition of multinational Arctic Challenge exercise. That was reported by More than one hundred aircraft from eleven nations participates in the air exercise carried out in the airspace over the northern areas of the host countries. This year’s Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE 17) is the third of its kind that Finland, Norway and Sweden have organised together. The exercise conducted every second year since 2013 is this time led by the Finnish Air Force that is responsible for planning and direction of the training event. Arctic Challenge exercises are part of Cross Border Training (CBT) started in 2009 between Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Air Forces of these nations conduct on almost a weekly basis combined air combat training missions that are flown from their northern home bases. The cost-effective implementation pattern of combined exercises can also be applied to large-force air exercises. The ACE17 host bases are located in Bodø in Norway, Luleå in Sweden, and Rovaniemi in Finland. Flying is conducted from Monday to Friday in two to three daily waves from 9 till 18 Finland time (from 8 till 17 Norway and Sweden time). Flight missions are carried out mainly in the areas extending over the three nations’ northern regions (see Map of Area of Operation). Also the training areas of Rovajärvi in Finland, Vidsel in Sweden and Setermoen in Norway are available. Simultaneously with ACE17, the Finnish Defence Forces Army North 17 exercise is being conducted at Rovajärvi which will enable the exercise units to have the benefit of ACE17 flight missions directed into this area to their training. In addition, aircraft will operate in Lohtaja training area in Finland where, at the same time, the Finnish Defence Forces Air Defence Exercise 1/17 is going on. Around ninety aircraft at most may participate simultaneously in individual waves in ACE17. Exercise sorties will involve flying at low altitudes and they may also include supersonic flying. Aircraft will deploy flare countermeasures that can be seen as bright spots of light in the sky.

The growing Russian military threat in Europe | Brookings Institution Steven Pifer testifies before the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on the growing Russian military threat in Europe, assessing and addressing the challenges by looking at Ukraine as a case study.

Maciej Kowalski |Restoring the balance on NATO’s eastern flank [Commentary] Russian anti-access, area denial bubbles in the Kaliningrad enclave and on the Crimean Peninsula restrict NATO’s self-defense capabilities. Placing half a dozen or so AAW interceptors in Aegis Ashore sites will be no match to Russia’s deployments in Kaliningrad or Crimea. This holds true even if more than three Mk 41 launchers were to be installed to enable the AAW capability. The sites are stationary, making them easy to target and destroy by a saturating missile strike. Therefore, AAW will not cancel Russia’s tactical advantages in Eastern Europe, let alone undermine the Kremlin’s strategic deterrence capabilities. It will, however, change the calculus for provocative actions that Russia might undertake to test NATO’s resolve. Inability to maneuver freely in the regional airspace will heavily impact Russia’s military planning and restrict opportunities for provocative endeavors. Therefore, NATO, as the integrator of national member-state assets, should encourage the United States to add AAW capabilities to Aegis Ashore sites in Poland and Romania.

Łukasz Kulesa, Thomas Frear | NATO’s Evolving Modern Deterrence Posture: Challenges and Risks NATO still has a long way to go to ensure it is credible enough to deter its adversaries Much has been made of NATO’s efforts to increase its credibility in the face of challenges from Russia and the Middle East and to reassure eastern allies that the alliance will come to their defence on the event of war. However, whilst improvements have been made to NATO’s overall deterrence policy, there is much still to do. Without further work, there is a danger NATO’s deterrence policy will turn into a Potemkin village: painted in bright colours and looking impressive at first glance but lacking substance behind the façade. In order to inform this process the European Leadership Network (ELN) convened a select group of senior alliance officials and experts in Brussels in order to identify the primary points of oversight. Based on this consultation, the ELN has produced an issue brief examining the strengths and weaknesses in NATO’s deterrence posture.

John Maxfield | A Foolish Take: Russia’s Surprisingly Small Economy — The Motley Fool How big do you think Russia’s economy is? It must be huge, right? Just look at a map. In terms of landmass, it’s almost twice as large as the second-largest country in the world, Canada. Yet it turns out that Russia’s economy is actually quite small. Its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 was half the size of California’s. You read that right. When it comes to economic might, Russia doesn’t even crack the top 10 in the world. The main reason is that Russia has a smaller population than its landmass would lead one to believe. It takes the ninth spot in the world, with 142 million people, outranked by the likes of Brazil, Nigeria, Indonesia, and Bangladesh. This matters because the size of an economy is dictated by labor and capital. The more of one or both, with all else being equal, the greater the GDP. On top of this, the sharp drop in oil prices since 2014 has crippled Russia’s economy. Its GDP has dropped 40% since the year before energy prices tanked. To put that in perspective, the U.S. economy dropped a maximum of 26% during the Great Depression.

Taras Kuzio | Why Are Russian Opposition Leaders Democrats at Home and Imperialists Abroad? Russians of all political persuasions find it impossible to understand the strength of Ukrainian patriotism because they see Ukraine as an artificial state propped up by the West. But Russian nationalists also blame Putin for the collapse of the Novorossiya project because he did not follow Crimea’s annexation with that of eastern and southern Ukraine—rather than recognizing that it had no local support and was defeated by Ukrainian patriots. The two groups differ in only one significant way: Putin’s great power imperialists have used military force against Ukraine, while Russian democrats and patriots would be more likely to follow Boris Yeltsin’s use of other forms of pressure toward Ukraine. One way or the other, the concept of pan-Russianism that prevails among all Russians, including democracy advocates, is something US government policymakers may not grasp or may fail to appreciate. And yet, if US policy goals are to be achieved, it is critical that this mindset be taken into account before funding is allocated to Russian opposition groups.

Russian Views of the International Order | RAND In this report, RAND researchers analyze Russian views of the current international order, identify Russia’s core interests, and highlight the underlying choices for U.S. policy going forward.

Marine Le Pen may have lost, but the Kremlin is winning – POLITICO Russia’s support for Europe’s far right shores up Vladimir Putin’s support at home.

Putin’s Shadow Cabinet and the Bridge to Crimea – The New Yorker Why the Russian President’s childhood judo partner is leading the country’s most ambitious construction project.

The Daily Vertical: Who’s Insulting Nemtsov’s Memory? (Transcript) You’ve gotta have a pretty creative imagination, you’ve gotta have a pretty cynical outlook, and you’ve gotta have pretty Orwellian mind to argue that naming a street in somebody’s honor is actually an insult to that person’s honor. And apparently, Maria Zakharova has such a creative imagination, such a cynical outlook, and such an Orwellian mind. Because in recent remarks to reporters, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said a move in the United States Congress to name a Washington street near the Russian Embassy after Boris Nemtsov was an insult to the slain opposition leader’s memory. Yeah, you heard that correctly. A representative of the regime that still refuses to allow a street in Russia to be named after Nemtsov; a representative of the regime that has repeatedly removed makeshift memorials erected by Nemtsov’s supporters in Moscow; a representative of the regime that continues to enable and protect the man widely believed to have orchestrated Nemtsov’s assassination; a representative of that regime is now concerned about insults to Nemtsov’s memory. And just exactly how is naming a street in Washington an insult to Nemtsov’s memory? Well, this is where Zahkarova really outdoes herself. It’s an insult to his memory, you see, because Zakharova says there are plans to build a homeless shelter on the street in question. That’s it. A homeless shelter. That’s what the spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry thinks is an insult to Boris Nemtsov’s memory. And you can take from that what you will.

Russia’s Hearts-and-Minds Campaign in Syria Is Aimed at Home | Foreign Policy The country’s latest humanitarian efforts in the Middle East are designed to win over its own increasingly testy Muslims.

‘Living Bots’: How Moscow’s Mayor Uses Stealth To Shape Public Opinion MOSCOW — For more than a month now, Moscow has been roiled by a controversial plan to demolish up to 8,000 old five-story housing blocks that were mass-produced under Soviet leader Nikita Khrushche…

Russia using criminal networks to operate in Europe – expert Organised crime groups have been used to launch cyberattacks for the Kremlin, an expert on Russia security affairs says.

The Order of Lenin: ‘Find Some Truly Hard People’ – The New York Times Was Stalin’s terror his doing alone? Or was mass violence an intrinsic part of Bolshevism? An answer in the Soviet archives.

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

Pravda Tells A Doozy Of A Lie – To Inform is to Influence Pravda means “Truth” in Russian.   But not according to their latest published fib. Actually, fib is too generous a word, it is a bold, blatant, absolutely boldly fabricated lie.  A doozy! Just published in the last 30 minutes, I almost couldn’t believe the story when I clicked on it. “New secret documents hold Ukraine…

Russian TV host says Ukraine citizens are ‘EU slaves’ in bizarre rant | World | News | THE PRESIDENT of Ukraine has been accused of turning his citizens into ‘slaves for the European Union’ by a fuming Russian TV presenter.

Exposing Fake News Trending – To Inform is to Influence Last night a tragic event occurred in Manchester, England.  A suicide bomber killed at least 22 people and wounded at least 60 others. Immediately sick people also flooded the internet with fake news: Loose gunmen Ariana Grande injured Ariana Grande quitting music Little boy missing This morning, Huffington Post put out a unique story: Don’t Believe…

Push to let companies ‘hack back’ after WannaCry – To Inform is to Influence The behind the scenes debate on this issue is raging.  Some view hacking back as a real deterrent. Once some examples are made, others may be hesitant.  Issues formerly associated with ‘pirates’, such as a letter of marque, have been suggested. Licensing is another. Comparisons to bounty hunters and mercenaries have also been made.  Some…

Leaks ‘expose peculiar Facebook moderation policy’ – To Inform is to Influence 22 May 2017 How Facebook censors what its users see has been revealed by internal documents, the Guardian newspaper says. It said the manuals revealed the criteria used to judge if posts were too violent, sexual, racist, hateful or supported terrorism. The Guardian said Facebook’s moderators were “overwhelmed” and had only seconds to decide if…

Hackers hit Russian bank customers, planned international cyber raids | Reuters Russian cyber criminals used malware planted on Android mobile devices to steal from domestic bank customers and were planning to target European lenders before their arrest, investigators and sources with knowledge of the case told Reuters.

Ukraine Reports

The Morning Vertical, May 23, 2017 ON MY MIND When the European Union granted Ukraine visa-free travel, President Petro Poroshenko said the move represented an important step in Kyiv’s “breakup from the Russian Empire.” And it wasn’t the only step. In recent weeks, Ukrainian authorities initiated a series of steps designed to sever remaining ties with Moscow. Kyiv has moved to block Russian social-media sites like VKontakte and Odnaklasniki and Russian search engines like Yandex and Legislation placing restrictions on religious organizations affiliated with an “aggressor state,” which is clearly aimed at the Moscow Patriarchate, is working its way through the Verkhovna Rada. And lawmakers are now proposing requiring visas for Russian citizens traveling to Ukraine. It all appears to add up to a not-so-velvet divorce. Russia’s war on Ukraine was intended to prevent Kyiv from leaving Moscow’s sphere of influence. But it has only resulted in an acceleration of that process.

Deception, Disinformation, and Doubt: Hybrid Warfare in Eastern Ukraine -Euromaidan Press | Travis Burke The world is undergoing a seismic shift in the speed and availability of information, changing prior rules and norms, and maybe no more so than in Ukraine. Under an onslaught of “fake news” and disinformation, Ukraine is the first battleground in this fast-paced war on truth. The following conflict analysis examines this battle—what makes this conflict unique? Why is this conflict worth studying? What are the lessons we can learn? The analysis is underpinned by the following questions regarding the Ukrainian conflict: What conditions existed to permit open warfare? How were these conditions manipulated by Russian hybrid warfare? Are there methods to strengthen communities against manipulation? Is this type of manipulation exportable beyond the immediate near-abroad for Russia?

Russian secret services created three types of “fake communities” in Ukraine to destabilize it, – SBU 23.05.17 13:31 -The secret services of the Russian Federation are behind creation of “fake communities” on the territory of Ukraine designed to destabilize the situation in the country. As reported by Censor.NET citing 112 Ukraine TV channel, spokesperson for the Security Service of Ukraine Ihor Huskov told a briefing. “The source of this virus (fake communities – Ed.) is outside Ukraine. They were artificially created by the secret services of the Russian Federation.We are the breeding grounds where they try to grow these seedlings to use them against our people. We have the relevant evidence,” he said. Huskov stressed that the first cases of the fake communities ‘ creation were recorded back in 2007 while these efforts have been intensified all across Ukraine since 2012. According to him, three types of the fake communities are currently being created. “We clearly see them, they do not overlap and do not interfere with each other. The first type includes the territorial communities of public law. They act under the guise of legal entities. The second one involves pseudo territorial communities. They are dead set against being officially registered. Cossack communities are the third type. We hear little about them, but more than 200 of them have been registered as of today,” Huskov said. The law enforcer says that absolutely conscious Ukrainian citizens, who are patriots of their country, are being dragged in such communities by means of propaganda. The stories with colorful attractive offers are used in some cases and national feelings in others. “Our enemies use three key elements – the rule of law, the principle of democracy and corruption: these are the three pillars which the policy of the Russian secret services leans on,” he stressed.

MPs to appeal to NSDC over pro-separatist websites in Ukraine First Deputy Chairperson of Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada Iryna Gerashchenko has announced the Ukrainian MPs' intention to report to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) and the relevant ministries on the pro-separatist websites openly operating&nbsp;in Ukraine, according to an UNIAN correspondent. “I have a big question: Why do pro-separatist websites operate unhindered in Ukraine? By the way, our journalists refer to them… Of course, there are questions to the NSDC on why this issue has not been considered during the rightful discussion on Russian sites… It is obvious that we will file reasonable inquiries by the people’s deputies with the NSDC and relevant ministries,” she said during the international conference Reintegration of Donbas in Conditions of Hybrid War. Gerashchenko stressed the extreme importance of appealing to the people in the temporarily occupied territories, noting that both legislative and PR activities are significant to this end. “Because of the discreditation of the humanitarian factor, the Russian side and its henchmen create the hostile image of Ukraine,” she said. Read also NSDC hopes to cut sharply share of Ukrainian audience in Russian social networks As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree on new sanctions against Russia, which include the restriction of access to Russian social networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, as well as Yandex online services. The initiator of the Yandex ban was the Security Service of Ukraine. The mechanism for blocking access to the Russian online resources and prohibiting the use of the Russian-made accounting software 1C was entrusted to the Cabinet of Ministers and the Security Service with the participation of the National Bank.

Ukraine’s Rada says 75% of TV broadcasts now must be in Ukrainian The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, has adopted a bill, setting quotas for nationwide TV channels, obliging them to ensure a 75% share of programs and movies in Ukrainian, according to an UNIAN correspondent. News 23 May from UNIAN.

Ukraine backs tough TV language rules to limit Russian –

Russia’s complaints to WTO prove Ukrainian sanctions effective The fact that Russia has sent a request to consult with the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement body over the restrictions imposed by Ukraine against the Russian Federation proves the effectiveness of Kyiv’s efforts, Ukrainian Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko has said. “Our position is crystal clear: we have the right to introduce such restrictions, and these restrictions concern national security. If Russia is hysterical that their economic rights have been violated by the fact that we imposed new sanctions and blocked part (Russia’s VKontakte, Odnoklassniki social networks)… controlled by the FSB [Russia’s security service], then probably these sanctions are effective if Russia is so disturbed by this action of the Ukrainian authorities,” Petrenko told journalists in Kyiv on Monday. At the same time, the minister said: “Their complaints to the WTO will be given proper legal assessment from Ukraine, as well as WTO members.” Yet, he said, Ukraine would continue blocking the sanctioned websites and social media. “Ukrainian citizens will do without Odnoklassniki and VKontakte – it’s no big deal for us,” he added. As was reported, Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin announced on May 20 that Russia had sent a request to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body to hold consultations in regards to the restrictions imposed on the country by Ukraine.

Bloomberg tells how Manafort brought pro-Russian party to Rada despite Crimea annexation Months after Russia annexed Crimea, former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's political advisor Paul Manafort returned to Ukraine to advise the pro-Russian party, the &quot;Opposition Bloc&quot;, for the 2014 parliamentary campaign, according to Bloomberg. Nestor Shufrych, one of the party leaders, says Manafort pushed for them to appeal as both the anti-NATO political force and the ‘voice of Russians’ in the east. Shufrych thought they had no chance but they got nearly 10%, with 29 seats, Bloomberg wrote. Manafort personally approved the list of candidates, according to another party official. Shufrych says the party paid Manafort roughly $1 million. The two celebrated over a bottle of cognac at Manafort’s Kyiv office. “The investment in Manafort paid off,” he said. “He’s a genius.” UNIAN memo. According to the investigation by The New York Times, former head of Trump campaign Manafort could receive $12.7 million from the “black ledgers” of the Party of Regions, at the times of his cooperation with Viktor Yanukovych. Before joining Trump’s election campaign, Manafort’s most prominent client was ex-President of Ukraine Vitkor Yanukovych. Manafort played the role of political adviser and advisor, eventually helped the Party of Regions and Yanukovych win several election campaigns in Ukraine.

Ukraine seeks to avoid being a bargaining chip between Washington and Moscow – Politics – CBC News Ukrainian politicians have appealed to their Canadian counterparts to help “educate” the Trump administration on the geopolitical importance of their country. It comes at a time when Canadians face troubles of their own getting through to the new American president.

Future of Normandy format, Minsk accords to be decided at G7 summit – Ukrainian diplomat Ukrainian diplomat, former Ukrainian envoy to the Minsk Trilateral Contact Group's political subgroup Roman Bezsmertny says that the future of the &quot;Normandy format&quot; (Ukraine, France, Germany and Russia) and the Minsk peace agreement on Donbas will be decided during the G7 summit in Italy, according to Radio Svoboda's Ukrainian-language service. News 22 May from UNIAN. 

Donald Trump’s EU visit offers chance to resolve Ukraine conflict Careful US diplomacy can repair relations with Moscow and hasten peace in the east

Ukraine stands firm with Crimea’s Tatars – Klimkin for WSJ The still-fresh historical wound of the 1944 deportation of 240,000 ethnic Tatars from Crimea has been reopened, with Russia&rsquo;s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian territory in 2014 and Moscow&rsquo;s continued repression of the Tatar community, according to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin's column published by The Wall Street Journal Tuesday. News 23 May from UNIAN.

Ukraine Stands Firm With Crimea’s Tatars – WSJ Our people share a long and painful history of oppression at the hands of Russia.

Historical documents detailing Vistula operation to deport 150,000 Polish Ukrainians now online -Euromaidan Press | These days Ukraine and Poland remembers the 70th anniversary of Operation Visla (Wistula in Polish) – the forced deportation of the Ukrainian minority in Poland, which on 28 April 2017 and lasted three months. The expulsion of some 150,000 Ukrainians from the south-eastern provinces of post-war Poland to its northwestern regions was viewed by the as the final solution to the “Ukrainian problem.” Carried out by the Soviet-installed Polish communist authorities, the deportation with the aim of national assimilation was comparable to the similar actions of the Soviet authorities regarding the people of Crimea, Caucasus, and Baltic states, where similar deportations were carried out by the Soviet authorities during or immediately after the Second World War, according to Volodymyr Viatrovych, Head of the Institute of National Memory.Digitized documents published by the Center for Researching Liberation Movements show that the operation was carried out by the communist regime of Poland in agreement with the USSR and Czechoslovakia. The deportation was carried out along ethnic lines, and the main reason was purported to be the fight against Ukrainian underground liberation movement. The Ukrainian insurgent army (UPA) then controlled a significant part of the Zakerzonia, protecting the Ukrainian community from the repressions of the Polish communist government, and continued to fight for independence. But its activities would not have been possible without the support of local residents, the Center for Researching Liberation movements writes.

Chief of Inter TV news service expelled from Ukraine for propagandaThe Ukrainian border guards on May 22 expelled de facto head of the news service of Ukrainian TV Channel Inter, Russian citizen Igor Shuvalov for propaganda; he was declared persona non grata for the next five years, according to an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior Minister. News 22 May from UNIAN.

Donbas militants attack Ukraine 59 times in last day, 4 WIAs Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 59 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 23 May from UNIAN.

No one killed in Donbas over past day, four Ukrainian soldiers wounded, – ATO HQ 23.05.17 09:13 – No one killed in Donbas over past day, four Ukrainian soldiers wounded, – ATO HQ Four Ukrainian servicemen were wounded in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) on May 22. View news.

Ukraine’s army advances one km closer to occupied Debaltseve in Donbas – volunteer The Ukrainian army has advanced one kilometer closer to the Russian-occupied town of Debaltseve in Donetsk region and taken new positions after Ukrainian troops had to repel enemy attacks, according to volunteer who raises funds for the Armed Forces of Ukraine Yuriy Mysiahin. News 22 May from UNIAN.

Kyiv denies Ukrainian army shelled Avdiyivka Coke and Chemical Plant Ukrainian representatives at the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) have said that Ukraine’s Armed Forces did not shell the Avdiyivka Coke and Chemical Plant in Donbas.

The Donbas syndrome: those who walked through fire  -Euromaidan Press | Myroslav Liskovych Ukraine has been at war for three long years and there’s no end in sight… Doctors are seeing more and more cases of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in soldiers who return from the front. In Ukraine, we call it the Donbas Syndrome, which includes a range of symptoms, such as depression, loss of interest, nightmares, violence, etc. Unfortunately, soldiers suffering from this psychosocial disorder often don’t realize they’re acting strangely. They’re used to solving conflicts by force and violence. After all the deaths, weapons, and bombings, many Ukrainian soldiers find it increasingly difficult to survive independently and return to a peaceful life.

White House explains converting military grants to loans, decision to affect Ukraine The Trump administration's budget proposal would convert some of the United States' foreign military grants to loans, part of a larger effort to slash spending on diplomacy,&nbsp;aid&nbsp;and programs abroad by more than 29%,&nbsp;as reported by Reuters. News 23 May from UNIAN.

Russian futuristic-looking armored vehicles spotted in Crimea | Defence Blog The new Russian Falcatus futuristic-looking armored vehicles were spotted in the largest cities in the Crimea. The Republic of Crimea, officially part of Ukraine but in early 2014 Crimea became the focus of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, after Kremlin-backed forces seized control of the Crimean peninsula, and the territory, which has a Russian-speaking majority, voted to join Russia in a referendum that Ukraine and the West deem illegal. The Falcatus, also called «Karatel», is an armored futuristic-looking personnel carrier designed for the country’s special forces. The Falcatus can carry 10 people into combat in various seating positions. Armored vehicle based on double-axle chassis KAMAZ-4911. According to some source in the Russian media, Falcatus is powered by a Cummins inline-4 diesel engine with 183bhp, through a five speed manual gearbox to all four wheels. Despite the futuristic styling, it uses traditional leaf springs and drum brakes. The Falcatus now uses by the Center for Special Purpose (CSN) of the Federal Security Service of Russia.

UkrOboronProm represents reform strategy of the military-industrial complex of Ukraine | Defence Blog SC “UkrOboronProm” launched a special website for presentation of the strategy for reforming the military-industrial complex of Ukraine. The website presents main directions of reform of the military-industrial complex of Ukraine. It will enable the integration of the Ukrainian defence industry into the global high-tech market. The reform is aimed at close international cooperation within the framework of innovative trends. It includes simultaneous operation in legal, technological, and industrial areas. For starting the reform, legislation changes in accordance with international standards are needed. The sooner the deputies approve 34 draft laws, the faster the defence industry of Ukraine integrates into the global market. The reform covers clear sequential steps: corporatization, auditing, clustering, protection of technology and launching Main goal of reform in the defense industry is building an effective network of interaction between science, business organizations and industrial enterprises for the most rapid innovation both military and civilian purposes, and increasing the competitiveness of domestic products in world markets. According to “Forbes Ukraine,” UKROBORONPROM took 9th place in the ranking of the most innovative companies of the state. According to the global ranking of Defense News, it took one year for UOP to jump up 24 positions, having taken 68th place.

Ukraine’s coffers save almost $1 bln using ProZorroThe Ukrainian nation’s coffers have saved UAH 24 billion, a little more than $900 million, since the launch of the ProZorro e-procurement system, Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman has said.

Ukraine allowed to export frozen beef to China | UNIANA protocol of veterinary requirements on exports of frozen beef from Ukraine to China has been approved by the sides, allowing Ukrainian farmers to ship this produce onto the Chinese market, according to the Ukrainian biosecurity and consumer protection service. News 22 May from UNIAN.Kurchenko’s firms smuggle over 1 mln tonnes of Donbas coal to Russia in 2016– mediaSome 940,000 tonnes of anthracite and another 95,000 tonnes of other types of coal mined in the occupied areas in Donetsk and Luhansk regions were shipped to Russia in 2016, according to News 22 May from UNIAN.Museum of Soviet monumental propaganda to open in Kyiv in fall of 2017 -Euromaidan Press |Dismantled Communist monuments from all over Ukraine are to be gathered in a Museum of Soviet monumental propaganda on the territory of Kyiv’s “Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy of the Ukrainian SSR,” now known as Expotsentr. Ever since the toppling of the Lenin monument in Kyiv during the winter of 2013 amid the Euromaidan revolution sparked “Lenin showers” around Ukraine, calls have sounded wide and far that specimens of Communist monuments ought not be demolished but collected. These calls have intensified since the adoption of decommunization laws, after which not only Lenin monuments but all other memorials from the Communist era perceived to be glorifying the Soviet regime started being dismantled, although not without controversy. Especially controversial were the Soviet mosaics who many view to be works of art.Now the decommunized monuments from all around Ukraine will find a home in what was once the “Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy of the Ukrainian SSR,” as the Kyiv City Council initiated the creation of a Museum of monumental propaganda there, Radio Svoboda reported. The opening is planned for the fall of 2017. According to project manager Maxim Bakhmatov, the museum will present examples of monumental communist propaganda gathered from all regions of Ukraine. The items will be collected through reaching out to mayors who have exhibits on their hands, as well as private collectors, and will be showcased in an open and closed exhibition.U.S. Sentences Ukrainian Hacker To 30 Months For Fraud SchemeA Ukrainian hacker was sentenced on May 22 to 30 months in a U.S. prison for a scheme using stolen unpublished news releases to make around $30 million in profits.Washington State recognizes Holodomor as genocide of UkrainiansOn Monday, May 22, the Washington State Senate unanimously approved a resolution calling Holodomor an act of genocide of the people of Ukraine, according to Voice of America. News 23 May from UNIAN.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

In Israel, Trump fits right in – if only he would stop talking about peace – Israel News – Trump is the most ‘Israeli’ U.S. president in history, but not in a good way

Trump, Benjamin Netanyahu hold press briefing at King David Hotel – Breaking News – Jerusalem Post US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Jerusalem on Monday, holding a joint press conference where the two spoke about regional security ties and the threat Iran poses to the region.

Trump visits Benjamin Netanyahu’s home | New York Post Capping his first day in Israel on his first international trip, President Trump expressed optimism Monday about a “new level of partnership” among the US,…

Trump Goes After ‘the Ultimate Deal’: Israeli-Palestinian Peace – The Atlantic The American president has surprised everyone with his enthusiasm for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But he might not understand what he’s getting into.

WATCH: Trump and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu deliver joint statement | PBS NewsHourP resident Donald Trump will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday in Jerusalem, part of his first overseas trip as president.

Trump Becomes First Sitting U.S. President to Visit Western Wall – NBC News President Donald Trump placed a note in the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to visit one of Judaism’s holiest sites.

Trump calls Nazi Holocaust ‘history’s darkest hour’ | Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump paid tribute at Israel’s Yad Vashem memorial on Tuesday to the six million Jews killed in the Nazi Holocaust, calling it an indescribable act of evil

.Trump: We must never be ‘silent in the face of evil’ – POLITICO “Words can never describe the bottomless depths of that evil or the scope of the anguish and destruction. It was history’s darkest hour,” Trump says.

Ankara Summons U.S. Ambassador In Dispute Over Washington Brawl – To Inform is to Influence Turkey summoned the U.S. ambassador on May 22 to protest what it called the “aggressive and unprofessional actions” of U.S. authorities against the bodyguards of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during his visit to Washington last week. The move prompted a rebuke from the U.S. State Department, which said the conduct of the Turkish security personnel…

DPRK / PRC Reports

Missile launched by North Korea was difficult-to-detect Pukguksong-2 : North Korea : News : The Hankyoreh New model is land-based version of the Pukguksong-1, and has now undergone final test launch before deployment North Korea has announced that the ballistic missile it launched on May 21 was the Pukguksong-2 and that it means to start deploying the missile. Since the Pukguksong-2 is a solid-fuel missile, it can be quickly prepared for launch. If the missile is actively deployed, it would likely be difficult to detect prior signs of an attack. “Another fruitful test launch of the surface-to-surface medium-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 has been carried out,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on May 22. While the KCNA did not specify the date of the launch, this appears to have been the missile launched the day before. On that day, South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff concluded that North Korea had launched a ballistic missile with a maximum altitude of 560km and a range of 500km and had speculated that this was a Pukguksong-2. “The accuracy of the attitude control system has been even more clearly confirmed by images taken with a camera installed in the warhead,” North Korea reported as it released several photos it claims were taken during flight by an onboard camera. This is the first time such photos have been released. The photos seem designed to flaunt the fact that the Pukguksong-2 warhead descended at the proper angle even during the atmospheric reentry phase. The KCNA described this as “the final test launch before deployment” and reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had given orders for the missile to be “quickly mass produced and provided to the military’s strategic units.” The Pukguksong-2 is the land-based version of the Pukguksong-1, the submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that was first unveiled last year. As a solid-fuel missile, it uses the “cold launch” technique, in which the missile is fired into the air by the launcher before its engine ignites. In contrast with a liquid-fuel missile, a solid-fuel missile does not need to be filled with fuel before launch. This means that only a few minutes are required to prepare for launch, down from the 30 minutes to an hour that a liquid-fuel missile usually requires. That makes it even harder to detect signs of a missile launch in advance, prompting concerns that this would incapacitate South Korea’s Kill Chain, which is supposed to carry out a preemptive strike within 30 minutes of indications that North Korea is going to launch a missile. “The Kill Chain already accounts for the time required to fill missiles with fuel. Shifting from liquid fuel to solid fuel would not neutralize the Kill Chain,” said South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo during a meeting of the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee on Feb. 14.

China’s imports from North Korea sink below US$100 million in April as coal ban bites China’s total imports of North Korean goods in April fell below US$100 million to a multi-year low, accelerating a months-long decline after China …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia Supplying North Korea with Ever More Coal and Oil, Moscow Business Paper Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 23 – In the face of Western efforts to isolate North Korea, Russia has almost doubled its sales of coal and oil to Pyongyang during the first quarter of this year compared to the last quarter of 2016, delivering 26.7 million US dollars’ worth of coal and 1.2 million dollars’ worth of oil, according to Moscow’s Birzhevoy lider. The business paper points out that, media claims notwithstanding, these sales do not violate the international sanctions regime because oil is not on the list of goods not to be sold to North Korea but does say that Pyongyang is not able to pay for these deliveries out of current accounts ( During the first quarter of this year, the paper continues, North Korea sold Russia goods totaling only 420,000 US dollars. Most of these were either musical instruments or chemical products. Last week, Russia began direct cargo and passenger shipping between Vladivostok and a North Korean port (

China urges North Korea to not violate U.N. resolutions again | Reuters Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged North Korea to take no further actions that violate U.N. Security Council resolutions on its nuclear and missile programs.

U.N.’s North Korea sanctions monitors hit by ‘sustained’ cyber attack | Reuters United Nations experts investigating violations of sanctions on North Korea have suffered a “sustained” cyber attack by unknown hackers with “very detailed insight” into their work, according to an email warning seen by Reuters on Monday.

U.N. agency’s dealings with North Korea on nerve gas chemical spark more concern | Fox News A United Nations agency’s go-it-alone decision to facilitate an international patent application from North Korea for production of the embargoed chemical sodium cyanide—used in making nerve gas —continues to spark concern among close observers of U.N. sanctions against the rogue regime, nearly a week after the U.N. body dismissed the issue as outside the bounds of  U.N. sanctions resolutions.

Foreign Policy Reports

Ariana Grande concert attack: Trump calls on allies to ‘obliterate this evil ideology’ after Manchester bombing | Fox News President Trump called Tuesday for “all civilized nations” to unite against terrorism and “obliterate this evil ideology,” citing the deadly Manchester attack to underscore the central message of his foreign trip as he concluded a visit to the Holy Land.

Manchester Arena Explosion: Ariana Grande Concert, Donald Trump reacts AMERICAN President Donald Trump labeled the Manchester attackers as ‘evil losers’ in an explosive tirade against terrorists.

ISIS claims responsibility for Ariana Grande concert bombing | New York Post ISIS has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing in Manchester that claimed the lives of at least 22 people, and wounded 59 others. “One of the…

LIVE: ISIS claims responsibility of Manchester bombing, says attack carried out by its member | Zee News Prime Minister Theresa May said the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack.

Manchester Concert Bombing: What We Know Tuesday : The Two-Way : NPR An explosion after an Ariana Grande concert killed 22 people Monday night. Police say they believe the bomber attacked alone. But they also report making at least one related arrest.

Details of Manchester attacker emerge as arrests are made | Daily Mail Online Pictures show non-uniform officers wearing masks to conceal their faces arresting a 23-year-old man outside a Morrisons supermarket in Chorlton, south Manchester this morning.

Trump And NATO Leaders To Talk Counterterrorism And Defense Spending U.S. President Donald Trump will attend his first NATO leaders meeting in Brussels on May 25. During the U.S. election campaign he called on NATO members states to spend more on defense and called the military alliance “obsolete”. Trump has since revised his view, saying his stance helped push the 28-nation alliance to focus more on counterterrorism. (AP, Reuters, RFE/RL)

Turkey, Russia Agree To Remove Some Sanctions In Step Toward Normalizing Relations Russia and Turkey took another step toward normalizing ties on May 22, signing a memorandum that lifts trade restrictions. Relations between Russia and Turkey, which support opposing sides in th…The Briefing: When Vladimir Meets RodrigoRadio Free Europe / Radio Liberty broadcasts in 28 languages. Most of our programs are available on FM and medium-wave frequencies of local radio stations in the countries of our broadcast area.

US Domestic Policy Reports

Nikki Haley: ‘We absolutely need’ Mueller’s Russia investigation – POLITICO Haley also responded to a report last week that Trump had shared highly sensitive intelligence with two top Russian diplomats.


The Seth Rich ‘Scandal’ Shows That Fox News Is Morally Bankrupt | Foreign PolicyThe Seth Rich ‘Scandal’ Shows That Fox News Is Morally Bankrupt « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas


U.S. Man Admits Trying To Sell Satellite Secrets To Russian Spy An engineer for a defense contractor in California has pleaded guilty to selling sensitive satellite information to a person he believed was a Russian spy, federal authorities say. Gregory Alle…