Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 24 May 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Short summary today – no dramatic developments, but plenty of good reports on all threads in the MSM, especially Ukraine and Russia. Notable essay by Malkiel on Nazi Aesthetic of Putinist Russia – a curious investment to make as the country melts down slowly from within. DNI Coats bullseye on the NPT.

Russia / Russophone Reports

The Daily Vertical: The Kremlin’s Twisted Playbook (Transcript) So suddenly, the Kremlin is really worried about hackers. No, really. I’m serious. In an interview this week with Rossiiskaya Gazeta, National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev, one of the most powerful figures in Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, called for the international community to unite to “create a safe global information environment.” Really? Now, I wonder what the Kremlin-backed hacker groups Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear would think about that. Are they also interested in a safe global information environment? WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical I mean, you truly can’t make this stuff up. And it gets better. In the same interview, Patrushev said he was deeply concerned about the danger posed by the rise of the xenophobic far right in Europe. If he’s so concerned, he probably should have a talk with his boss, who, you know, recently hosted a certain prominent leader of the European xenophobic far right in the Kremlin. And he probably should have a little chat with Kremlin-connected oligarchs like Konstantin Malofeev, who is widely believed to be backing Europe’s nationalist fringe. So what’s up here? Is Patrushev delusional? Is he clueless? No. And no. He’s cunningly duplicitous and he’s following the Kremlin playbook to the letter. First, you create a problem and blame it on somebody else. Then you express shock and horror. And then you offer your services in resolving the problem. It’s worked like a charm in the past. And we should expect this crew to keep trying it in the future.

The Morning Vertical, May 24, 2017O N MY MIND In a post on Facebook yesterday, the Moscow-based playwright and journalist Natalia Antonova offered a chilling portrait of what the police raid on the home of prominent director Kirill Serebrennikov’s home felt like to Russia’s cultural community. “Imagine waking up to news that Martin Scorsese is being terrorized and humiliatingly searched by the police. This is what it’s like in Moscow at the moment,” she wrote. Hard to imagine, right? Well that about sums it up. Serebrennikov is one of Russia’s most renowned stage and film directors. His films have been screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the Rome Film Festival, and elsewhere. But he is also an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and of the growing political influence of the Russian Orthodox Church. And that made him a target. And it also sent a message. If the authorities can come after someone as beloved and prominent as Serebrennikov, then nobody is safe. “The authorities are doing everything to make sure that everybody is on the hook,” the director Vladimir Mirzoyev told Meduza in a piece featured below.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Russian World Increasingly Informed by a Nazi Aesthetic, Moscow Specialist Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 24 – Many commentators have discussed whether Vladimir Putin is a fascist in any serious sense, but most have failed to consider one area where fascism has clearly arisen in his Russia: in the aesthetics that increasingly inform Moscow’s public life and that have obvious parallels with those of the Third Reich, Innokenty Malkiel says. “The legions of tomorrow marching through Red Square are a multitude of strong young men lacking any individual characteristics,” the art specialist says in a commentary for Open Russia. “The monochromatic, red-gold or black-white, ascetic but at the same time monumental” reflect values “from ancient Egypt to Stalin’s times,” but they are now being presented not as something from history but “as a model for the future” ( “Masculinity, militarism, monumentalism, and an appeal to antiquity are all things we have already seen and not so long ago – all of 70 or 80 years ago in Nazi Germany.” And some things we see in Russia today “shock by their similarity (is this accidental?) with the forms of Albert Speer or Arno Brecher of that period,” Malkiel says. In all too many cases, he continues, the fascist aesthetic of Leni Riefenstahl is present and “behind it stands a corresponding ideological basis.” “At first glance,” Malkiel continues, “the ideology of ‘the Eurasian Movement’ is unlike the ideology of the NSDAP. However, when one talks about ‘a Eurasian Union’ on the space of the former USSR, the question arises: by what means will ‘the reunification’ of these territories be carried out?” And when one asks that question, he says, “we see there populism and expansionism and ‘special path’ and militarism and extremism – that is, most of familiar aspects of fascism.” Fifteen years ago, Eduard Limonov, then a comrade in arms to Aleksandr Dugin, praised the Eurasianist for being in the Russian context “’the Kirill and Methodius of fascism.’” Today, Malkiel says, “the catechism of a member of the Eurasian Youth Movement” does not leave any doubt about that. “You must be a master,” that document reads. “You were born to rule Eurasia. You are more than a man. Our goal is absolute power. We are the Union of Lords, of the new overlords of Eurasia. We will turn everything back. Such is the white testament of Eurasia.” Such attitudes have spread beyond politics, Malkiel continues. They are now informing the work of many Russian artists who say these are simply a matter of “the Russian style,” an indication of just how far they have spread into the popular culture and how much that style now simply represents a recrudescence of “a fascist aesthetic” in Putin’s Russia. That is clearly seen in the posters Russian artists prepared for the Sochi Olympiad, which like their Nazi predecessors featured “’true Aryans, blond and blue eyes in front of buildings whose neo-classical architecture completely coincides with the style of the Third Reich.” It is impossible,” Malkiel continues, “not to see corresponding parallels.” (His article is especially useful because it features pictures of this new art.) Some Russian artists argue that they have the right to use fascist symbols because the Soviet Union defeated Nazi Germany and thus can appropriate its art, but “in fact,” they are using it in anything but a critical way but rather to promote a similar aesthetic and a similar political agenda. And “present-day Russian ‘stormtrooper artists’ and ideologues of extreme right views with each year see ever more in Putin and his regime ‘a common spirit.’” Dugin is among them. Almost a decade ago, he said that Putin was “returning to us the symbols of the Soviet period and respect for it” and the need to exclude all Western influence on Russia. Already at that time, he continues, “Dugin sensed the side to which the Russian powers that be were drifting. The events which have followed” have only encouraged “the ultra-right ideologues and artists” to conclude that he was right. “Today we see,” Melkiel says, “how nostalgia for the Soviet empire is being reborn along with the aesthetics of that time, the aesthetics of Stalinism which in many of their manifestations are almost indistinguishable from the aesthetics of Nazism.” Indeed, it is “more correct to say that today we see their new birth in combination with each other.” This trend, he suggests, is leading to “the complete political disorientation of the population” and thus making the rise of “ultra-right nationalism and the worldwide trend toward population” more likely and more dangerous. “To let the fascist genie out of the bottle is easy, but to put it back is difficult,” the commentator says. “The last time this required tens of millions of lives. Given the existence of nuclear weapons, how many more might be required now?” And could it be that this aesthetic may lead some Russians to demand a fuehrer who would go even further than Putin has?

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Implicitly Acknowledging Support for Putin May Be Slipping, Kremlin Drops Its 70-70 Plan Paul Goble Staunton, May 24 – In an implicit acknowledgement that public support for Vladimir Putin may be soft and in fact falling, Andrey Yarin who heads the domestic politics section of the Presidential Administration, says that getting 70 percent of Russians to take part in the upcoming presidential elections and 70 percent support for Putin are no longer priorities. Yarin made that declaration to a conference of the Foundation for the Development of Civil Society earlier this week. His remarks on this score were relayed by two participants in that meeting to Elena Mukhametshina, a Vedomosti journalist, who published them in her paper yesterday ( Up until now, the journalist says, sources in the Presidential Administration “have spoken about the necessity of achieving 70 percent participation [in the elections] and 70 percent support [for Putin].” But now, Yarin is saying that the Kremlin expects to do that well and so is focusing on other aspects of the situation. The Kremlin’s confidence may be justified given the various administrative measures at its disposal and the ability of Putin to set the agenda by actions he has or more take. But to retreat from the 70 and 70 formula suggests that the Kremlin is either lowballing the situation to make a Putin victory look better or preparing for lower levels of participation and support.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Khimki Crowd Assembles to Show Support for Arrested Long-Haul Truckers Paul Goble Staunton, May 24 – Russian officials, disturbed by the appearance of a crowd of supporters of the long-haul truckers police arrested in Khimki near Moscow on Sunday, not only organized a late-night court session to fine the three strike leaders but hustled off to some unknown location the nine others. Their fate is as yet unknown. After the three were released following the imposition of fines ranging from 10,500 to 30,500 rubles (200 to 600 US dollars), they spoke to the crowd and detailed the inhuman conditions in which they had been kept ( The strike leaders indicated that despite the fines, the truckers were going ahead with plans to establish a second location in the Moscow region for striking truckers to park and provide mutual support. And they said they would press for the release of the nine others who were scheduled to face a judge on Monday morning but did not appear before him. The fact that the detained drivers attracted a crowd of local supporters and journalists has made it more difficult for the authorities to “fabricate cases and condemn innocent people,” the Activatica portal says. Another indication of the Russian authorities’ nervousness about the long-haul drivers’ strike yesterday when the Duma took up a measure that would extend the blocking of messenger services like Zello that the drivers have used to organize the strike over the last two months (

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Long Haul Drivers Converged on Russian Capital from Five Regions Last Weekend Paul Goble Staunton, May 23 – Long haul truck drivers from Daghestan, Ryazan, Saratov, Orenburg and St. Petersburg converged on Moscow over the weekend only to be blocked near the Russian capital by the police and OMON forces, charged with failing to obey traffic officers and fined or remanded to the courts. Because the central government-controlled media have not covered this latest labor action, details are only coming to the surface now; but such reports show that Moscow’s claims that the strike has exhausted itself, is over and that there is no need for negotiations are baseless ( The drivers had come to Moscow in order to support their union representatives who were scheduled to have a meeting with transportation ministry officials under the auspices of the Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society, but at the last minute as before, the transportation ministry refused to take part. The Council’s working group on the strike issued a declaration saying that the large size of the truckers’ strike and “the general worsening” of economic conditions in the industry are “the result of insufficiently thought-through measures carried out by the government and branch agencies.” The group called for holding “in the immediate future,” a special session of the Council on the problems surrounding the resolution of the conflict” between the drivers and the government. The transportation ministry has not yet reacted to this call, but it seems unlikely that it will agree to take part. Indeed, in the past 24 hours, there has been a general hardening of the government’s position against the drivers, with some media outlets seeking to blame the truckers for the absence of repairs to the roads ( and others suggesting that the West opposes the drivers (европарламент-уничтожает-дальнобойщ/).

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Despite His Suspicions about the Internet, Putin may Soon Begin to Tweet, Gontmakher Says Paul Goble Staunton, May 23 – Vladimir Putin is deeply suspicious of the Internet, viewing it as a source of “disinformation and manipulation,” Ekho Moskvy editor Aleksey Venediktov says (( But he is also a very clever politician who recognizes that there are some things he must adapt himself to, Yevgeny Gontmakher observes. The Internet is one of those things, the sociologist insists in an interview with Roza Tsvetkova of Nezavisimaya gazeta today, and thus the Kremlin leader is likely to make use of it in various ways, including Youtube interviews and Tweets, in the future – and possibly sooner than anyone now thinks ( Before the electronic age, the sociologist begins, a politician’s success depended on his ability to use oratory and the print media to reach and mobilize voters. After television appeared, he or she had to learn how to use it. “Now there is the Internet,” something no longer “exotic” even in Russia, “a Rubicon has been crossed,” and political leaders must adapt to it. “For the new generation of Russian politicians,” Gontmakher says, “the Internet is the only variant available to promote himself … A Politicians must be able to interact with people via the Internet, to get their reactions back.” Up to now, however, the number of leaders who can do that can “be counted on one’s fingers.” Gontmakher says that he “does not exclude that in the nearest future, not in these presidential elections but for example in the next parliamentary ones, television debates, which no longer interest anyone, will be shifted to the Internet, online,” where people will be able to react and far more will watch. He says that he does not exclude that “in the Internet will be presented some exclusive materials with Putin, perhaps in the form of the Youtube.” Putin is “carefully studying the experience of the American elections,” and so are other (e.g.,, as are leaders of the LDPR and the KPRF. The Internet is one of those irreversible forces, one that has profound consequences for both society and the powers that be. It helps promote the former because “social networks are the most horizontal links, the most civic society.” But for that reason, the powers that be as a vertical find themselves “in a certain sense” at odds with this. Some among the powers may want to ban it, but doing so in Russia, with its millions of users, would provoke a crisis, Gontmakher says. And thus they must adapt because “to go against the flow would be deeply counter-productive.” And that process of adaptation will only accelerate. Why isn’t Putin on Twitter now? the sociologist asks rhetorically. The reason likely is that Putin, Medvedev, the ministers and the head of the Presidential Administration are politicians. And for them, the time when as they though politics was only in the offices of those at the top … is already passing – and doing so irreversibly!”

Russian Lawmakers Target Anticorruption Group Transparency International Transparency International is coming under renewed pressure in Russia, where senior lawmakers are calling for the global anticorruption watchdog&rsquo;s local affiliate to be investigated — or eve…

Russian Filmmaker Detained After Raid On Home A prominent Russian director who has taken part in antigovernment protests was detained after a raid on his Moscow home by the Federal Security Service (FSB). He said he was “shocked and bewildered” before being driven off. (Current Time TV)

Russian Authorities Search Theater, Home Of Director, Government Critic Investigators searched a Moscow theater and the home of a prominent director who has attended antigovernment protests and voiced concern about the increasing influence of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Tycoon Usmanov Launches New Attack On Kremlin Foe Navalny An online battle between one of Russia's richest men and its most prominent opposition politician is not going away. Uzbek-born tycoon Alisher Usmanov issued his second YouTube attack o…

Fight club: Russian spies seek EU recruits Russian intelligence services are using martial arts clubs to recruit potential troublemakers in Germany and other EU countries, security experts have warned.

Russian Official, Ozerov, Is безумный (bezumnyy) – To Inform is to Influence Viktor Ozerov, Chairman of the Defense Committee of Russia’s Federation Council, stepped on his male appendage and emasculated his formerly male self.  “Unfortunately, what happened in Manchester was a lesson to the British intelligence services that without the help of other countries, their work will fail,” Ozerov told Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency. In Ozerov’s world, Copernicus…

Russian Official Says Manchester Terror Attack Is a ‘Lesson’ to British Police for Shunning Russia

Stalin’s Grandson Aleksandr Burdonsky Dead At 75 A grandson of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, theater director Aleksandr Burdonsky, has died at age 75. Officials at the Central Theater of the Russian Army, where Burdonsky worked for many years…

Dog crashes live news broadcast in Russia | Newshub The adorable black Labrador even jumps up on the desk.

Russia’s New Tank Set to Enter Service in 2020 The T-14 Armata is the country’s first new tank design in decades.

Russia’s Science Research Sub Is Shockingly Huge The submarine will be twice as long as a jumbo jet.

US soldiers rolled out first green armored vehicles in Black Sea region | Defence Blog Soldiers from Task Force Fighting Eagles rolled out the first green armored vehicles to appear outside of Germany from 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, matching eastern Europe’s lush springtime operating environment. The crews of 1st Battalion (“Fighting Eagles”), 8th Infantry Regiment, transformed their M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and M109A6 Paladin self-propelled artillery during the first week of May, with vehicles blending into training environments in Romania and Bulgaria. Their M1A2 Abrams tanks took on a similar tinge this past week to match the rolling hills and lush forests of the Black Sea Region, where the 3/4 ABCT task force is conducting training with allies as part of U.S. Army Europe’s deterrence message, Operation Atlantic Resolve. The Fighting Eagles are continually improving their ability to conceal and survive by better blending into their surroundings, said 1st Lt. Coleman Grider, a platoon leader with Company B. “I am very excited we are painting our vehicles green. Adapting to the environment is critical to mission success. When we first arrived to Europe in Poland, we camouflaged our vehicles to conceal ourselves in the snow. In Romania and Bulgaria, we are surrounded by a lot of greenery, so it is crucial we blend into our area of operations,” said Grider, as he brought his Soldiers to the painting tent located at Mihail Kog&#2013266051;lniceanu Air Base, Romania. The platoon’s Bradley Fighting Vehicles were the first in the battalion to get a fresh coat of green paint. Staff Sgt. Richard Cardenas, a squad leader and Bradley commander within Grider’s platoon, added: “It takes some time to completely paint such a large vehicle, but this will improve our ability to conduct operations. Concealment is very important to the survivability of a Bradley and its crew.”

What does Belarus want from China? | Belarus Digest – News and Analysis of Belarusian Politics, Economy, Human Rights and Myths What does Belarus want from China? – Read on

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

The pro-Kremlin narrative about migrants in Europe -Euromaidan Press | Pro-Kremlin outlets share an often-repeated narrative about migrants in the EU Member States. It combines elements of misinformation with a factual background of refugees arriving in Europe in large numbers. The pro-Kremlin narrative focuses on stirring up alarmist sentiments and is supported by a promotion of hate-speech. As a case from Sweden illustrates, the strategic aim is to bring confusion and to stir up controversy in public debates: A Swedish freelance writer, with an established financial dependency on Russian citizens, wrote articles about migration under several aliases. Some of these argued against Sweden receiving more migrants, while others were radically pro-immigration.

Facebook to counter Kremlin-style info interventions in election campaigns -Euromaidan Press | The social network has already taken action against over 30,000 fake accounts in France.

Discord In Moscow’s Disinformation Machine – To Inform is to Influence Sputnik responded to a legal threat here.  “Sputnik has faced pushback in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia,” which indicates there is a modicum of responsibility somewhere within the propaganda outlet. “Lawfare” works, therefore, pitting attornies against propaganda.  The charges were defamation, perhaps libel and slander, more specific charges, would work. Is there a…

A change to the cyberthreat How do you make decisions when you do not know what data is real and what data has been manipulated?

Game changer’: Army wants an unmanned electronic warfare vehicle What the Army envisions is a small robot weighing 15 to 20 pounds, with enough battery power to provide intelligence to ground units for up to four hours.

Ukraine Reports

Dan Coats: Ukraine, Libya taught other countries to seek nuclear weapons The experiences of Ukraine and Libya have taught other vulnerable countries around the world not to surrender their weapons of mass destruction under pressure from the west, according to Dan Coats, President Trump’s director of national intelligence. “Unfortunately, the lessons learned have been if you have nuclear weapons, never give them up, because it’s a deterrent from other actors who may want to interfere in your country,” Dan Coats told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If you don’t have them, get them.” Coats referred specifically to Ukraine and Libya as cautionary tales for “rogue” and “marginal” states that might feel vulnerable. Ukraine agreed in 1994 to surrender its Soviet-era nuclear weapons stockpile in exchange for a pledge from the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia that none of the countries would violate Ukrainian sovereignty. But Russian President Vladimir Putin sent forces to annex Crimea, a region of Ukraine, and backed a separatist-movement in the eastern part of the country in 2014. “And so we see what’s happened in Ukraine probably would not have happened if they had maintained a nuclear weapons capability,” Coats said. And in Libya, the late dictator Moammar Gaddafi finally dismantled his weapons program, after years of sanctions and the George W. Bush-era invasion of Iraq. But Libya was eventually overthrown by western powers in 2011. He noted that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un “believes that regime survival is dependent solely on becoming a nuclear power,” and that this drives home his point around the world.

German chancellor, Ukrainian, French, Russian presidents to hold summit to reboot peace efforts 24.05.17 12:20 – German chancellor, Ukrainian, French, Russian presidents to hold summit to reboot peace efforts German Chancellor Angela Merkel invites presidents of France Emmanuel Macron, Russia Vladimir Putin, and Ukraine Petro Poroshenko to hold a summit to reboot attempts to bring peace to eastern Ukraine. View news.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Patriarchate has More Parishes in Ukraine than Its Kyiv Counterpart but Fewer Followers Paul Goble Staunton, May 23 – The Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church routinely says that it has more parishes in Ukraine than does the Kyiv Patriarchate, a statement that it true but that ignores the fact that it has far fewer followers and parishioners than does the Ukrainian church. Archhbishop Yevstraty Zoyra, the secretary of the Holy Synod of the Kyiv Patriarchate, points out to Russian specialist on religion Roman Popkov that there is “a lack of correspondence between the number of registered communities of the two patriarchates and the real quantity of [their] supporters” ( For historical reasons, there are “more than 10,000 communities” registered with the state as subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate,” the churchman says, while the number of communities attached to the Kyiv Patriarchate are only about half as many. But those statistics don’t tell the real story. “Invoking these statistics,” Archbishop Yevstraty says, “the Moscow Patriarchate asserts that it is ‘the largest church in Ukraine.’” But that is “in part untrue.” It is the case that there are 10,000 “registered” parishes but “a certain part of these communities exist only on paper and are ‘dead souls.’” The parishes loyal to the Kyiv Patriarchate are more active and larger than the Moscow ones, he continues, a reflection of the fact that Ukrainians identify with the former rather than the latter according to sociological surveys. A recent study found only 17 percent of Ukrainian believers identify with the Moscow Patriarchate while 46 percent do so as part of the Kyiv one ( Thus, the archbishop says, “when those in the Moscow Patriarchate declare that they supposedly are the largest confession [in Ukraine], this isn’t true.” They have the most parishes but “by the number of believers,” they are “at a minimum two or even two and a half times smaller confession than that of the Kyiv Patriarchate.” It is also the case that many Ukrainians in parishes registered with the state as part of the Moscow Patriarchate would change their affiliation if given the chance and that the Ukrainian government is being entirely reasonable in creating legal means for their making such changes given the Moscow Patriarchate’s opposition to any change without its sanction. (For a discussion of these draft laws and their implications, see The Kyiv Patriarchate has called on the Moscow Patriarchate to take part in dialogue on how to resolve these problems. But the Moscow church doesn’t want to because it insists that “we have no problems” and therefore have nothing to discuss, the archbishop says. And it has launched a virulent propaganda campaign against the Ukrainian church. “But in fact,” Yevstraty says, “there is a conflict within the Moscow Patriarchate between those who want to remain in [it] (typically a minority) and those who want to go over to the jurisdiction of the Kyiv Patriarchate.” If a majority in the Moscow parishes wants to remain, he continues, there will be no conflict: the minority who wants to leave will simply have to do so.” “A conflict will arise inside the communities of the Moscow Patriarchate” only when a majority wants to shift to the Kyiv Patriarchate and a minority does not. “The Moscow Patriarchate does not want to resolve this issue in any ways,” the Ukrainian churchman suggests. “From my point of view,” Yevstraty concludes, “the Moscow Patriarchate is using this objective reality in order to generate within itself a sense of a besieged fortress. There is such a psychological technology which is used in those structures certain religious specialists call sects: enemies are all around and thus their members must form up ever closer to a single center.”

Russia does not intend to end war with Ukraine, – Presidential Administration Deputy Head Pavlenko 23.05.17 15:35 – Russia lacks both the inclination and the will to stop the hybrid war with Ukraine. Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Rostyslav Pavlenko said at the Reintegration of the Donbas Under Hybrid War international conference, Censor.NET reports citing Ukrinform. “The Russian Federation shows no will, no desire to stop this war. They use this war, this hybrid influence in order to achieve their strategic geopolitical goal to subjugate Ukraine erasing it from the world map,” Pavlenko said. In this regard, he stressed that the Ukrainian side involving government authorities, civil society and international partners, should without delay develop specific mechanisms and approaches that could lead to the reintegration of both occupied territory of the Donbas and annexed Crimea under current conditions. “We must be faster, smarter and more flexible,” the official said.

Court sentences Russia’s agent Apukhtin to 6-year imprisonment for separatism 24.05.17 12:07 – Court sentences Russia’s agent Apukhtin to 6-year imprisonment for separatism The Kyiv district court of Kharkiv sentenced leader of the South-East movement Yurii Apukhtin, who headed the local Antimaidan in the spring of 2014, to six years in prison. View news.

One Ukrainian soldier, one civilian wounded in Donbas over past day, – ATO HQ 24.05.17 10:08 – One Ukrainian soldier, one civilian wounded in Donbas over past day, – ATO HQ One Ukrainian servicemen and a civilian were wounded in action in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) zone on May 23. View news.

Ukraine reports Grad attack on Avdiyivka, one civilian seriously injured Russia's hybrid military forces have mounted an attack on the old part of the Ukrainian-controlled town of Avdiyivka in Donbas, using 122mm Grad-P portable rocket launchers; one civilian has been injured, according to the local police. News 23 May from UNIAN.

“Traceless regiment”: Russian military losses in Donbas | UACRISIS.ORG In February this year, the Russians were scared by the Russian Defense Ministry’s report: the agency planned to purchase 50,000 flags for covering coffins. The announcement was posted on the website of the unified procurement system. The procurement procedure did not take place as the application of a sole supplier was found not to meet the requirements. Despite this, the question to the Defense Ministry remained: who the Russian military were going to bury in such quantities? There was no answer. There is another question lacking clear answer: how many Russian citizens have already died in three years of war with Ukraine?

Putin’s Anti-Ukrainian Propaganda Playing Role State Anti-Semitism Did in Soviet Times, Ikhlov Says – To Inform is to Influence In order to promote Rus as the predominant culture within Russia, anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism became standard practice within the Soviet Union, in order to integrate and totally subjugate any ‘independence’ by Jews as a nation or a culture within Russia. The same occurred with Ukraine as a country, a people, and a culture, which continues…

President: The map of Ukraine was purified from the names of its torturers and there is no place for communist idols in our country — Official website of the President of Ukraine Bykivnia forest is not the only place in Ukraine where the so-called limits on execution of people massively annihilated by the totalitarian communist regime were fulfilled and overfulfilled. But it is probably the biggest mass grave in Ukraine where dozens of thousands of innocent people were killed. It was stated by President Petro Poroshenko at the ceremony of honoring memory of the victims of political repression in Bykivnia Graves State Historical and Memorial Preserve. The Head of State informed that yesterday he returned from Berlin where he had a long, friendly and meaningful conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. After the negotiations, the Ukrainian delegation visited the memorial complex located on the territory of the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg. “We honored memory of the victims of Nazism there – thousands of Ukrainians and representatives of other nations held there,” the President said. “This is the camp where Oleh Olzhych was tortured to death, where Yaroslav Stetsko and Stepan Bandera were held. As a bridge over time: father of Stepan Bandera, Greek Catholic priest Father Andriy, as stated by historians, was buried in this forest. Here, in late 1930s, the communist regime of Moscow organized a living hell on five acres of land. Here, the Bolsheviks have tortured dozens of thousands of people in four years,” Petro Poroshenko said. The President noted that after the end of the World War II, Sachsenhausen was not closed. It was conveyed to the NKVD and functioned for 5 years more. “And not only former Nazis were held and tortured there, but also German social democrats and those simply dissatisfied with the introduction of communism in East Germany. And even former Soviet servicemen who had been taken prisoners and were condemned to Siberia by Stalin,” he said. “Having visited Sachsenhausen yesterday and standing here in Bykivnia today, I once again realize with every single cell a cannibalistic similarity of Nazi and Stalinist regimes,” the President emphasized. The Head of State reminded that the OSCE parliamentary assembly adopted a very important resolution 8 years ago about the identity of these regimes and even offered to introduce a common day of remembrance of the victims of Stalinism and Nazism. “That is why Ukraine carried out decommunization over the past years. That is why the so-called “fall of Lenin” occurred. That is why the map of Ukraine was purified from the names of its torturers and murderers. That is why we renewed the plates with street names. There is no place for communist idols in our country,” the President stressed. “And the Ukrainian nation can do without social networks controlled by FSB-KGB as well. By the way, I will also sign the law forbidding St.George Ribbon as soon as it is submitted by the Verkhovna Rada to me. Why? Because it is not a symbol of the World War II, it is a symbol of aggression against Ukraine of 2014-2017. Because militants carrying these ribbons kill our warriors every day and night,” Petro Poroshenko said adding that right now Russian terrorists are also aiming at Ukrainian warriors. “After all, Russia made this ribbon illegal because of its policy towards Ukraine,” he noted. According to the President, he visits Bykivnia Graves State Historical and Memorial Preserve for the third time already, but every time he is worried as if it is the first time. “And this time I am worried even more, as we commemorate the 80th anniversary of mass political repression of 1937-1938,” he said. The President emphasized that Bykivnia forest is not the only place in Ukraine where the so-called limits on execution of people massively annihilated by the totalitarian communist regime were fulfilled and overfulfilled. But it is probably the biggest mass grave in Ukraine where dozens of thousands of innocent people were killed. Columns of trucks have been transporting the dead bodies here. According to the testimony of the NKVD official, they executed people in in the basement of NKVD Kyiv regional office at night and then “loaded them on trucks, took the neck and legs with special tongs and threw the bodies in the truck”. Then they covered the bodies with tarp and transported to Bykivnia to bury them. “The Soviet leadership has been concealing a terrible secret of Bykivnia for decades. Meanwhile, there have been desperate people who dared demand the truth even under Soviet dictatorship,” Petro Poroshenko said.

Bambi in the Bloodlands. Dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Operation Vistula -Euromaidan Press | 28 April 1947 was the start of Operation Vistula, in which 150,000 Ukrainians living in southeastern Poland were deported from their homes in an operation by the Polish communist regime in a brutal operation to end the Ukrainian resistance movement. This forceful eviction resulted in the depopulation of an entire region and ghost villages standing to this day. Euromaidan Press is publishing a personal story of Mary Mycio, whose parents lived through the deportation.

Watercolors of wooden churches destroyed in Operation Vistula to be published as book -Euromaidan Press | Lemkos, a mountain people residing in what is nowadays Ukraine, Poland, and Slovakia, produced a rich folk culture including unique wooden churches built without a single nail. Sixteen of them were included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list as “outstanding examples of the once widespread Orthodox ecclesiastical timber-building tradition in the Slavic countries that survives to this day.” Unfortunately, many of these churches were destroyed during Operation Vistula of 1948, in which 150,000 Ukrainians were deported from their homeland, or decayed in the ghost villages without proper maintenance.

Ukrainian Lawmakers Approve Language Quotas For TV, Radio Lawmakers have approved a bill that would require Ukrainian television and radio stations that broadcast nationwide to have at least 75 percent of their programming in the Ukrainian language. Th…

Ukraine needs China loan deadline pushed back, Deputy PM says | Reuters Ukraine needs more time to submitproposals for coal and gas projects to China in order to securefunding worth up to $3.65 billion as Kiev is unlikely to meet aJune deadline, Deputy Prime Minister Stepan Kubiv told Reuters.

Decline of industrial output in Ukraine accelerates to 6.1% in April Ukraine has seen a decline in industrial production for the third month in a row: the decline in April 2017 accelerated to 6.1% year-over-year, from 2.7% in March 2017, according to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine. News 23 May from UNIAN.

Ukraine offers modern air defence systems and unmanned aerial vehicles to Philippines | Defence Blog UKROBORONPROM’s leading special exporter -SE “Spetstehnoeksport”, will look to provide its new precision weapons, automotive equipment and ammunition to the Philippines. According to official website of the SE “Spetstehnoeksport”, Pavlo Barbul, Director of SFTE “SpetsTechnoExport” and Oleg Hladkovskiy, First Deputy to the Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine, during the working visit to the Republic of the Philippines, held an official meeting with the Secretary of National Defense Delfin N.Lorenzana and a number of negotiations with the senior leadership of defense offices of the country. The parties discussed the potential of cooperation between the countries, particularly in the field of shipbuilding, production of air defense means, UAV’s, radar equipment and weapon systems. “In fact, the Philippines with its market and economy are opening up huge prospects for Ukrainian developers and manufacturers. Shipbuilding, various weapon systems, radars, UAVs – this is nowhere near a full list of what Ukraine can offer as part of a mutually beneficial defense cooperation”, – said the First Deputy to the Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine. This visit has to be a new starting point for the development of efficient cooperation and contribute to strengthening of national security of both states. A Ukrainian company also can offer the Philippines the new UAV unmanned aviation complex «Anser» and «Sparrow». The UAV of the «Sparrow» series are designed for tactical reconnaissance of shirt and medium range. The speed of deployment, simplicity and reliability, resistance to mechanical and thermal effects and complete protection from moisture make them indispensable for tactical reconnaissance groups.

US Supports Large-Scale Ukrainian Communities Revamp – YouTube Ukraine is on the path to give more power to local communities. As the government tries to iron out the latest details in the decentralization reform, commun…

Ukraine’s Pilots Put on Aerobatic Display at Kyiv Aviation Festival – YouTube Ukraine has opened its air sports season in style. An aircraft festival has taken place in the Kyiv Region – with some of Europe’s most talented pilots takin…

Museum Dedicated to USSR Propaganda to be Opened in Kyiv – YouTube Despite having a Soviet past, Ukraine does not have a museum dedicated to exploring this history. Until now. The National Expocenter of Ukraine will open an …

New generation for the new country In fact, two different countries coexist in Ukraine, two different generations with different values and views of the country’s past and future. One generation grew in the USSR and were brought up in a social model of paternalism with the dominating principle being, “If I am a boss then you are a fool.” This “Soviet” generation now misses cheap substandard sausages and the First of May demonstrations. People of the USSR generation often do not even know their native language very well, not to mention foreign languages; they rarely travel not only abroad, but even around the country. Some of them support the ideology of the “Russian world” and will not accept any reforms and changes in the country. Another generation is that of people who were born in the 1980s and 1990s. This generation does not remember the sumptuous Communist Party Plenums and the capital in Moscow. The first Ukrainian generation since gaining independence has no other homeland and is more responsible towards the protection of its state. This generation was the first to come out during the Maidan protests in 2004 and 2013 and the first to sign up as volunteers for Ukraine’s armed forces at the frontline in 2014. This generation travels a lot, knows at least three languages and actively uses social networks. However, both of these generations live in one institutionally inefficient state. Therefore, the new generation does not want to work for the state service for minimum wage with doubtful reputation and minimal efficiency of public service. At the same time the old generation does not want to lose their honorary positions of state officials. Of course, there are people who are ahead of their time and generation.

EUROPP – The Eurovision in Ukraine was an exercise in soft power Eurovision 2017, held in Kyiv, may have lacked overt politicisation when it came to the performances showcased on stage, especially in comparison to previous years. But as Roch Dunin-Wąsowicz argues, the contest nevertheless delivered a carefully constructed ideological message about Ukraine’s European aspirations and its pride in its cultural heritage and traditions, while also signalling comradeship with the Slavic world and Eastern Europe. The net result was a quintessential exercise in Eurovision’s enduring soft power. The Eurovision Song Contest is no stranger to political controversy. Envisioned as a means of forging cultural ties between Europe’s nations in the aftermath of World War II, the contest was closely tied to the idea of European integration taking shape in the 1950s. For a brief period, the Warsaw Pact countries hosted a competing Intervision contest, but it was Eurovision, and the idea behind it, that ultimately prevailed. And it wasn’t until the majority of Europe’s states from the continent’s east (and from its near periphery) entered the competition that it became the political playground which it is known as today.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

In Israel, Trump Slams ‘Terrible’ Iran Nuclear Accord U.S. President Donald Trump slammed a “terrible” nuclear deal signed with Iran and said the country must stop supporting “terrorists and militia” and must “never ever” acquire nuclear weapons.

The ugly truth behind Saudi Arabia’s love for Melania Trump (opinion) – It’s no surprise Melania Trump was a hit in Saudi Arabia, Anushay Hossain writes: She’s their perfect combination of quiet, fashionable femininity and fake feminism.

DPRK / PRC Reports

US attack on North Korea is imminent, George Friedman says – Business Insider The US’s strategic moves telegraph one outcome—conflict.

Democrats Warn Trump Against Pre-emptive Attack on North Korea – The New York Times Sixty-four members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump exhorting him to resolve the standoff with North Korea peacefully.

North Korea: Unidentified object flies from North Korea over border with South – South Korea’s military fired warning shots after it spotted an unidentified object flying from North Korea across the Demilitarized Zone that divides the two countries, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

South Korea’s military scrambles after unidentified object detected in airspace, renewing North Korean concerns – LA Times North Korea may have launched an unidentified object across its southern border on Tuesday afternoon, leading South Korea’s military to fire warning shots.

North Korea on trajectory to nuclear-armed ICBM: U.S. intel official | Reuters North Korea is on a clear path to obtaining a nuclear-armed missile capable of striking the United States, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart told a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

North Korea Missile Test Seen as Step to Put U.S. in Range – Bloomberg North Korea moved one step closer to its “inevitable” goal of developing a long-range, nuclear-armed missile to directly threaten the U.S. through a successful test this month, according to the Pentagon’s intelligence service.

‘Heir Dead Meat’: North Korea releases bizarre Kim assassination plot video Amid spy tales of Le Carre proportions swirling through north Asia, North Korea had its own sensational story of a plot gone wrong.

Trump could stop North Korea’s nuclear program tomorrow — but it would send the US down a dark path | Business Insider North Korea’s latest round of missile tests has…

China’s imports from North Korea sink as coal ban bites | ReutersChina’s imports of North Korean goods in April fell below $100 million to the lowest in nearly three years, data showed on Tuesday, after China stopped buying coal from the isolated country and as calls mount for further economic sanctions.

China urges North Korea talks, skirts questions on U.S. sanctions push | Reuters China on Tuesday pushed for dialogue with North Korea and the full implementation of United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang over its ballistic missile and nuclear tests, skirting questions about Beijing’s talks with the United States on possible new measures.

With the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, Will the North Be Participant or Provocateur? – The New York Times Sporting relations on the Korean Peninsula have rarely been better, but concerns about disruptions by North Korea persist.

After Shunning Taiwan, World Health Organization Cozies Up to North Korea | The Weekly Standard It’s been a banner week for the World Health Organization (WHO), the lavishly funded global health agency that somehow botched the biggest health crisis in years back in 2014, when it failed to respond to the Ebola crisis that was then ravaging west Africa. (Oh, and the AP reported this week that the WHO spends more on its travel budget than it does on the fight against AIDS.) First, the WHO barred Taiwan from attending this week’s World Health Assembly in Geneva, which it had attended previously as an observer. Eleven countries rallied to Taiwan’s defense, demanding the democratic bastion be granted entree. But the WHO sided with the two dictatorships—mainland China and Cuba—which demanded it be banned. Now, the WHO has named North Korea as one its five vice presidents for this year’s confab. It’s an odd choice, to be sure, given that North Korea has by far the lowest life expectancy in Northeast Asia; a collapsing health care system; and a raging TB problem. And indeed, what doctors North Korea does have are often sent abroad to work and send home cash to the regime. Indeed, a North Korean doctor was kidnapped in Libya, of all places, back in 2015.

China Sets An Easier Goal In Its Dangerous Maritime Contest With Japan China has revised its endgame from pressuring Japan to cede control of the Senkaku Islands. Now it wants to keep up pressure on Japan for a patriotic home audience and someday win a minor concession.

China and Russia are coming for Boeing and Airbus – May. 23, 2017 The state-owned commercial aerospace enterprises of both countries established the China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Co., to develop a new twin-aisle airliner to compete with the most advanced jets from Boeing and Airbus.

Foreign Policy Reports

Pope welcomes Trump at the Vatican despite past disagreements – The Washington Post Two of the most powerful men in the West — with nearly opposite beliefs — appeared to get along well.

Trump ditches his feud in gracious visit with the pope – POLITICO ‘I won’t forget what you said,’ the president says as their meeting came to a close.

Melania Trump minds Vatican protocol in veil decision – Melania Trump has dutifully considered every outfit she has worn during her first trip abroad as first lady — her visit with Pope Francis on Wednesday was no exception.

Manchester terrorist Salman Abedi pictured in Libya | Daily Mail Online Exclusive pictures show Salman Abedi as an innocent schoolboy, about seven years before he murdered 22 people including children as young as eight at Manchester Arena.

Manchester attack: Three more arrests in bomber investigation – BBC News More victims are named, as the home secretary says it is likely Salman Abedi did not act alone.

Manchester attack: Bomber Salman Abedi ‘likely’ had accomplices as focus turns to Libya visits – The Washington Post Britain has raised its alert level to “critical” amid concerns over a wider network of plotters.

Salman Abedi named as the Manchester suicide bomber – what we know about himThe suicide bomber who killed 22 people and injured dozens more at the Manchester Arena has been named as 22-year-old Salman Abedi.

Manchester terrorist Salman Abedi, 22, ‘chanted Islamic prayers in the street’ days before massacre The attack saw 22 people killed and more than 50 injured

British Police Name Salman Abedi As Perpetrator In Manchester Bombing British police have named Salman Abedi as the dead assailant in what Prime Minister Theresa May called a &quot;callous terrorist attack&quot; at a Manchester pop concert that killed 22 victims, man…

Ariana Grande – Wikipedia

What an Attack at an Ariana Grande Show Means for Teen Girls – The New York Times Pop concerts used to be safe places to escape the pressures of adolescence. Not anymore.

A Soft and Vulnerable Moment at Ariana Grande’s Manchester Concert, Destroyed by Terror – The New Yorker Amanda Petrusich on the spiritual wounds inflicted by last night’s terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Duterte Tells Putin The Philippines Needs Modern Arms Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says his country needs modern arms to fight Islamic State (IS) militants and that he expects Russian support. Duterte made the comments on May 23 in Mosco…

Su-30 fighter jet of Indian Air Force goes missing near border with China | Defence Blog An Indian Air Force Sukhoi-30 fighter jet with two pilots on board went missing near Tezpur in Assam during a routine training mission today. The Sukhoi took off from the IAF Tezpur air base, located only about 172 km from Indo-China border in Arunachal Pradesh, on a routine training mission. “A Sukhoi-30 aircraft airborne from Tezpur today on a routine training mission lost radar and radio contact approximately 60 km from north of Tezpur town in Assam,” said Tezpur-based Defence PRO Lt. Col. Sombit Ghosh. “The aircraft is over due and actions have been initiated,” he said. The search operations for the missing plane are on.

How Fonts Are Fueling the Culture Wars – To Inform is to Influence For your edification and, perhaps, discussion. I definitely do not subscribe to the author’s perspective on some issues.  I also believe some people put too much faith into nit-noid meaningless details.  </end editorial> Ben Hersh design @ medium May 22 Pay attention: Typography isn’t just catchy visuals. It can also be dangerous. Typography is undergoing…

US Domestic Policy Reports

Media prepare for chance that Trump-Russia probe reveals ‘nothing’ Some in the news media who have been intensely critical of the Trump administration are now anticipating a potentially anti-climactic end to the investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia, as even Democratic leaders are admitting they have seen no evidence that Trump colluded with Russia to interfere with the election. In early May, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on CNN that she saw no evidence of collusion, a statement she reiterated last Thursday when asked if anything had changed. “No, it hasn’t,” she said on CNN’s “Situation Room.” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif, who has called for Trump’s impeachment, also said in early May that there was still no proof of collusion. Asked by liberal Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart if congressional committees had found anything to “back up” accusations of collusion, Waters said, “No, we have not.

Martin Luther Was the Donald Trump of 1517 | Foreign Policy If the leader of the reformation could have tweeted the 95 theses, he would have. And he was no slouch at locker room talk, either.

Trump and Russia: The lucrative Ukraine years of Paul Manafort | The Spokesman-Review Jim Slattery arrived at the Stalin-era presidential headquarters in Kiev, Ukraine, with an unusual gift for the nation’s strongman leader: a bust of Abraham Lincoln.

Ex-CIA Chief Brennan Complained To FSB Director In August Of Election Meddling WASHINGTON — Former CIA Director John Brennan said he spoke directly to the head of Russia's main security agency last summer, complaining about the harassment of U.S. diplomats and apparen…

New DoD budget to rebuild readiness, advance tech The Pentagon’s 2018 budget signals emphasis on overhauling the U.S. military and positioning for a new era of warfare.

Trump Hires Lawyer To Represent Him In Matters Involving Russia Investigation U.S. President Donald Trump has tapped a longtime legal adviser to serve as his attorney in matters involving investigations into Russia's ties with his 2016 election campaign, media reported o…

Trump plays down personal concern about fighting in Ukraine during talks with Lavrov In early May, during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in the White House, U.S. President Donald Trump allegedly hinted he was not overly concerned over the hostilities in eastern Ukraine, while this issue remained important for the critics of his administration, Voice of America reported citing article in The New York Times published reported last week. News 23 May from UNIAN.

China Intervenes to Block Businessman From Revealing Spying Secrets on VOA – To Inform is to Influence I can attest as to the integrity of Bill Gertz. Top-notch reporter, impeccable credentials, and very reliable.  He is well known for his deep connections. This story, however, is worrisome on many levels. There are some who are spending what seems like a lifetime disparaging the BBG, VOA, RFE, and other US international broadcasting efforts…