Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 1 June 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Nobody believes Putin’s denials. 

The problem is, as in most things Russia does, is proving it. Eventually the truth will come out, but in the meantime there is no real evidence.

Eventually, screenshots of hacker exchanges, with translated transcripts, are going to leak. Eventually, emails from someone within the Russian government are going to leak.  

As for the Kathy Griffin fiasco, the image was truly horrendous. Too many on the left are too willing to overlook this egregious photo – for purely political reasons.  Why a major publication like the Washington Post asks for her forgiveness makes me wonder about their judgement and for allowing that to be published. This is one of the reasons why I prefer not to touch domestic politics in this blog.

</end editorial>

Russia’s internal crackdown / meltdown continues, with multiple meltdown reports today, notable items by Eidman, Rivkin, Nezavisimaya gazeta, Vedomosti and an inane commentary by Tishkov on how Russification of minorities will save Russia – assuming the minorities want to be Russified. Putin earns today’s Choke on Coffee Award, with Tishkov runner up.

Donbass ceasefire collapses in one day. Sen Booker in Kiyv. Dickinson essay is excellent and echoes comments by PM Yatsenyuk in 2014 on how Putin deserves an award for unifying Ukraine.  Dashkevych history essay is good and recent DNA maps support his case, as Finnic DNA is still heavily represented in North-Western Russia, despite a millennium of transmigration). Debate continues on visas for Russian entry. Natural gas dispute arbitration in Sweden favours Ukraine over Russia (evidently these treacherous Swedes rigged the ruling to favour their Goth cousins in Ukraine over glorious exalted faultless Russia).

Multiple analytical essays on DPRK arguing any and all options, while MDA release impact footage of ABM test, which is excellent viewing.

Domestic US debate on Russia remains downright ugly.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Putin Says ‘Patriotic’ Hackers Could Target Russia’s Critics, Denies State Involvement Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russian hackers might target those who criticize their country out of “patriotic” feelings, but insisted that the government has no involvement in such cyberattacks.

Putin Denies Russian State Involved In Hacking President Vladimir Putin reiterated previous comments denying Russian state involvement in hacking, in an attempt to influence the outcome of foreign elections. Putin made the comment during a meeting with foreign journalists on June 1 at the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The Russian leader said some “patriotic” hackers might operate independently, but he said “hackers can’t crucially influence an election in a foreign country.” (AP)

Putin says Russia’s never been involved in hacking – To Inform is to Influence  </end editorial> Individual ‘patriotic’ hackers could mount attacks but ‘we don’t engage in that at the state level.’ By PAUL DALLISON 6/1/17, 12:55 PM CET Updated 6/1/17, 12:57 PM CET The Russian state has never been involved in hacking, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday. Putin said individual “patriotic” hackers could mount attacks but “we don’t engage…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Regime Likely to End by Only One of Five Scenarios Now On Offer, Eidman Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 1 – Many analysts in Russia and the West are now openly talking about how the regime of Vladimir Putin could come to an end, making predictions that in many cases appear to be more an expression of their preferences than of the actual prospects of any one of them coming true. Igor Eidman, a Russian commentator for Deutsche Welle, suggests that only one of the five predictions now on offer, all based on analogies with events in Russian or European history, has much of a chance of coming true if one examines all of them with any care history ( The first prediction about the end of the Putin era is what he calls “the ‘bunker’ scenario” in which Putin is destroyed as Hitler was by “complete international isolation.” However, the West doesn’t seem prepared for such an “uncompromising” stand, and even Putin isn’t “inadequate” enough to launch a suicidal global war. The second set of predictions involves Putin being pushed aside or even killed by a palace coup, much as Paul I was, Eidman says. But that is unlikely: the Kremlin leader has had the time to select only those most loyal to his person to be in top jobs, and he has made sure that all the members of the elite know that their positions would be at risk if he were overthrown. The third is perhaps the most hopeful and most unrealistic, involving as it does the notion that Putin and his siloviki will launch a new perestroika and bring reforms. He and they hate that idea more than anything else and they know that their system, like the Soviet one, would “inevitably collapse” if it reformed to the point of not relying on violence. The fourth prediction, popular now among some Russian political emigres, is that Putin will ultimately “be forced” to take part in a roundtable with the opposition much as Marshal Jaruzelski was in Poland. But who in the Putin regime would sit down as an equal with Navalny or fail to remember that Jaruzelski was simply a half-way house to regime collapse. And the fifth prediction, the only one that has much chance, Eidman suggests, is a popular explosion on the lines of February 1917. There is growing social discontent and anger about both rising income inequality and the increasingly hereditary nature of power and property in Putin’s Russia. At some point “as was the case in 1917,” popular discontent will break out and some in the elite will decide that they can’t suppress the demonstrators and that their best chance for survival is to join them. When and how this might happen is far from clear, but the chances that it could are at least in evidence. And this has one positive consequence, Eidman says. “Under certain circumstances,” a popular revolution in Russia could but not necessarily would set “the country on the European democratic path.” Whether that would be subverted as the February 1917 revolution was, of course, remains to be seen.

Naphtali Rivkin | Russia’s thorny relationship with democracy The assassination of Boris Nemtsov in front of the Kremlin on February 27th 2015 marked the first time since the execution of Lavrentiy Beria in 1953 that a viable contender for Russian power was summarily eliminated. By the time Brezhnev forcibly ousted Khrushchev from power in 1964, the Soviet elite had tacitly agreed that power struggles between them would not result in murder; Khrushchev died eight years later, with a pension. Since 1953, the Russian political elite who came to power through illiberal and undemocratic means did not generally purge the allies of their predecessors for fear that the same would be done to them if and when they were succeeded. Perhaps, whoever ordered the assassination of Boris Nemtsov harbours no such fears. Nemtsov’s murder is emblematic and symptomatic of an increasingly bold authoritarianism in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Russia has never been a democracy, but for a fleeting generation, its governing system was in a democratising flux. The world held its breath while it searched for signs of a democratic pulse in post-Soviet Russia and exhaled resignedly when the Russian regime repeatedly and successfully repressed attempts at democratisation. Most recently, Russian democracy hinged on the faith and action of brave activists like Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Kara-Murza. But Nemtsov is dead, Kara-Murza has survived two attempted attacks on his life and most of the Russian populace does not seem to care enough to do anything about it. This begs the question: is democracy possible in Russia at all? Some say: no. The idea that Russians do not want democracy has reached American shores before. Richard Pipes, one of the US’s most noted historians on Russia and the USSR, presents one perspective on the desire for democracy in Russia when he writes, “Although actions undertaken by Putin and his associates play a large part, there is a good deal of evidence that the antidemocratic, antilibertarian actions of the current administration are not being inflicted on the Russian people but are actually supported by them. This evidence also indicates that no more than one Russian in ten cares about democratic liberties and civil rights.”

Senators Propose Stronger U.S. Sanctions Against Russia – Bloomberg Bipartisan leaders of the Senate Banking Committee announced a plan Wednesday to strengthen sanctions against Russia over its actions in Ukraine and Syria, as well as internet intrusions in the U.S.

Western Sanctions Killing Russian Economy – To Inform is to Influence The sanctions levied against Russia have had such an effect on Russia, that special planning is taking place to boost Russia’s failing economy. Interesting point, none of the submitted options included doing away with the kleptocracy, bribery, corruption, and oligarchy which drains a high percentage of funds away from the Russian economy.  </end editorial> Kremlin…

Beyond the Recession, More Problems Await Russia – To Inform is to Influence  Forecast Highlights As the Russian economy slowly pulls out of recession, low oil prices will keep it stagnant for years to come. Nonetheless, the recovery, and the return of foreign investment, will alleviate some of the Kremlin’s concerns about the economic sanctions against it.   The Russian government, meanwhile, will grow increasingly worried about the…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Many Russians Will Not Live to See End of Country’s Economic Crisis, Moscow Experts Say Paul Goble Staunton, June 1 – Most Russians will not live long enough to see the end of their country’s economic crisis. Their real incomes will continue to stagnate at least for another decade, the divergence between rich and poor will increase, and Russian pensions may not rise in real terms for two decades, according to Moscow experts. Those conclusions, offered by Nezavisimaya gazeta and Vedomosti this week, reflect both worldwide economic trends and specific Russian conditions, and they won’t be fundamentally changed by the government’s expected pump priming in advance of the presidential elections ( and In Nezavisimaya gazeta, Anastasiya Bashkatova, an economics reporter, directly asserts that “a significant part of Russians will not get out of the crisis” because what she and others call “income dystrophy”—stagnant pay and rising income inequality — is now “an illness characteristic of the Russian economy. In the “fat” years before 2008, the trends were going in the other direction. But since 2013, “the real incomes of citizens have begun to contract and this tendency has not stopped,” although it may not be quite as bad as official statistics show, Bashkatova says, because many Russians do get money from the shadow economy. “It is possible that this helps citizens to soften the consequences of the crisis but this does not reduce the risk for them that an employer may cut also those in the gray sectors, where neither pay nor bonuses are fixed.” The Moscow experts she surveyed were unanimously pessimistic about the future, although some expected an uptick next year when the Kremlin will try to boost figures in advance of the presidential elections. Kirill Yakovenko of the Alor Broker Company, says that “the reduction of real incomes of the population bears a long-term character and it is hardly likely that this problem will exhaust itself in the next 1.5 to 2 years.” And Pavel Sigal, vice president of Russia Reliance, says that he does not exclude the possibility that by 2025, the number of poor in Russia will reach 30 million. The report in Vedomosti yesterday was even more damning. Its headline says that “incomes of Russians will return to pre-crisis levels only in 2022 and pensions will never” recover to that level as far out as anyone can now predict or even as the government expects ( Indeed, the paper continues, the economic development ministry has prepared a report, a copy of which Vedomosti says it has, showing that it does not expect any growth in the real value of pensions over the next 20 years, even as it anticipates a rise in the pension ages to 65 for men and 63 for women. Importantly, the ministry report notes the demographic impact of this: “The number of pensioners will decline 23 percent by 2035,” seven million fewer than now. If pension ages aren’t raised, in contrast, the number of pensioners would go up by 5.4 million. The age increase will mean there will be one million more workers. Without it, there would be 3.2 million fewer. At the same time, the increase in pension ages will be accompanied by “a sharp fall in the level of pensions: they will decline from the current 35 percent to 22 percent” relative to wages paid, something that reduces “the burden” on workers but does nothing to boost consumer demand and thus a major reason for companies to increase investments. According to the ministry report, the Moscow paper continues, “wages and incomes for the next two decades will grow more slowly than the economy,” but the growth of the economy “also will be far from outstanding.” And the combination of these two trends may have serious consequences for Russia’s future. On the one hand, Oksana Sinyavskaya of the Moscow Institute of Social Policy, says, the notion that pensions can be “frozen” for 20 years is unrealistic and “socially dangerous.” And on the other, Vladimir Tikhomirov, an economist at the BKS Brokerage, says that the ministry’s notion that there can be economic growth while pensions are cut is unrealistic. If there is no increase in demand – and there won’t be if wages and pensions are stagnant – he says, there won’t be much investment. That is an economic truism in all countries, and Russia isn’t going to be able to escape it. He does not say, but there is one way out: the way Stalin adopted in the 1930s: totalitarian control and radical extraction of money from the people. Posted by paul goble at 3:11 AM

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Must Stress Commonality Not Diversity of Russia as a Whole but Divisions Not Unity of Each Nation within It, Tishkov Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 1 – In his latest argument for the formation of “a civic Russian nation” [rossiiskaya natsiya], Valery Tishkov argues that the only way forward is for Moscow to lay more stress on commonality rather than diversity for the Russian population as a whole and more stress on divisions within its component nations than on communalities within any of them. In a lengthy article in NG-Tsenarii, the former nationalities minister and former director of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology says that for too long many in Russia have been too “obsessed” with ethnic differences rather than with commonalities of the people of the Russian Federation as a whole ( And he says that those who say that national republics within the Russian Federation are “our inheritance from the USSR and that no one must occupy themselves with such risky things again” are wrong and that changes in such arrangements, reflecting changes in the broader society are not only inevitable but valuable in promoting broader unity. As is often the case, Tishkov stops short of drawing the obvious conclusions from his argument for Russia, preferring in almost every case to talk about them for other countries, as when he complains that no other post-Soviet state has become a federation and when he says that others are taking the lead in recognizing the complexities of ethnic identities. But from the perspective of the non-Russian nations within the borders of the Russian Federation and even what Moscow often dismissively calls “the sub-ethnoses” of the Russian nation, Tishkov’s argument here provides the intellectual basis for a new and broader attack on the integrity of both and even on the current ethno-federal structure of the country. The ethnographer begins his argument by pointing to the conclusions of a new book his institute has released, The Cultural Complexity of Contemporary Nations. That study stressed the ways that urbanization, migration, and the mixing of peoples have changed how many people see themselves, increasingly viewing themselves as of mixed ethnicity or as cosmopolitans. “This phenomenon of contemporary cultural complexity or super-complexity at the individual and collective levels … forces us to rethink the content of categories according to which the population has in the past been divided in various countries of the world,” Tishkov continues. He acknowledges that “the most powerful of these categories is of course the category of the nation,” but he insists that today the nation is the population of any state as a whole: “I do not know of any countries which have joined the UN and do not consider themselves nation states,” Tishkov says. The implications of that, of course, are that those who have states now can and should make their populations into single nations, while those nations that don’t have statehood now are to be absorbed or amalgamated into the nation defined in terms of the state they live in, a backdoor restoration of Friedrich Engels’ discredited concept of ‘history-less nations.” Tishkov talks about the value of the formula “unity in diversity” but it seems he is more supportive of that in countries beyond the borders of the Russian Federation – Ukraine should become a federal state with Russian as an official language, he says – than he is for peoples within the Russian state. “We have been held back by the creation of diversity,” he says, with many in Russia talking about the need to come up with a film about each nation and “show its distinctiveness relative to other peoples. This of course is also interesting but why are we do little itneressted in the common whole, in what makes us strong and friendly.” Might it not be the case that “it is time to speak not only about ‘friendship of the peoples,’” as the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation have, “but also about ‘a friendly people,’” thus stressing the commonality of the whole while downplaying the distinctions of the nations who make it up?

The Daily Vertical: Neighbors Know Best (Transcript) Moldova and Estonia have expelled Russian diplomats in the aftermath of major espionage cases. Estonia last month hosted the world’s largest-ever cyberdefense exercises. Ukraine is investigating the Russian Internet giant Yandex for illegally collecting data on local citizens. The Ukrainian parliament is moving to restrict the activities of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church. And the Czech Republic and Finland have set up new centers to combat Russian disinformation. Seven decades after George Kennan’s famous essay, The Sources Of Soviet Conduct, laid the groundwork for the U.S. Cold War policy of containment, a new policy of containment is beginning to take shape in Europe. And Russia’s neighbors and Moscow’s former vassal states in Eastern Europe are leading the way. Which isn’t surprising. They know best how the Kremlin operates, after all. Vladimir Putin’s regime has long been waging a shadowy, nonkinetic war on its neighbors and on the West. It has weaponized business, finance, corruption, organized crime, religion, cyberspace, and information as part of a concerted effort to undermine Western institutions. And containing this threat requires some outside-the-box thinking. This is not just a job for defense ministries and intelligence services. It requires a whole-of-government approach, including law enforcement and regulatory agencies. Russia’s 21st-century, nonkinetic political war on the West requires a 21st-century, nonkinetic form of containment. Russia’s neighbors get this. And we can all learn a lot from them.

The Morning Vertical, June 1, 2017 ON MY MIND Montenegro has joined France and Germany on the growing list of countries who were once favorably disposed toward Russia but who have been turned into foes by Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. Just days before the country is due to formally join NATO, Prime Minister Dusko Markovic, former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, parliament speaker Ivan Brajovic, and scores of other officials have been banned from entering Russia. Earlier this week, Montenegrin lawmaker Miodrag Vukovic was detained while attempting to change planes at Moscow’s Domodedovo International Airport en route to Belarus. The bans were ostensibly retaliation for Montenegro joining Western sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea. But the symbolism of the timing, on the eve of Montenegro’s accession to NATO, was impossible to miss. They also come in the aftermath of an alleged coup plot in October, that Montenegrin authorities say was orchestrated by Russia. Montenegro is another case where the Kremlin badly miscalculated a European country’s motivations. Moscow assumed that close business ties would keep Podgorica in its corner. And if that didn’t work, intimidation would.

Court Orders Release Of Russian Activist From Psychiatric Clinic A Russian court has ordered the release of an activist who was forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2015 after making online calls for the establishment of a &quot;Urals people’…

Amnesty Challenges Russia Over Abuse Of Gays In Chechnya Amnesty International says it plans to hand petitions against the abuse of gay men in Chechnya to Russian embassies around the world on June 2. In a May 31 statement, Amnesty said it had gathere…

Landlord Of Navalny’s Election Headquarters In Irkutsk Attacked Unknown assailants have attacked the landlord of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s election campaign headquarters in Irkutsk, Navalny’s staff coordinator in the Siberian city says. …

Navalny Denied Permission For Central Moscow Rally Moscow authorities have rejected opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s request to hold an anticorruption march and rally in the heart of Moscow on June 12. City security department chief Vladimi…

Russian opposition leader Navalny loses defamation case – The Washington Post A Moscow court on Wednesday ruled in favor of multi-billionaire Alisher Usmanov in his libel suit against Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Russian Opposition Leader Loses Billionaire’s Defamation Case – BloombergA Russian court sided with billionaire Alisher Usmanov in his defamation lawsuit against opposition leader Alexey Navalny on Wednesday, ordering the politician to retract allegations about Usmanov.

Court rules against Kremlin critic Navalny, orders graft allegation video redacted | Reuters A Russian court ruled on Wednesday against Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in a defamation lawsuit brought by one of Russia’s richest businessmen, ordering a popular online video detailing the offending allegations to be redacted.UN Chief To Address St. Petersburg Forum, Meet Putin UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is heading to St. Petersburg to address an economic conference and meet with the Russian president and foreign minister. UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said o…

Pilot Error Reported Likely Cause Of Russian Military Air Crash That Killed 92 The crash of a Russian military plane that killed 92 people last year, including members of Russia’s renowned army choir, was likely caused by pilot disorientation, Russian media reported on Ma…

Finland Can Teach the World How to Stand Up to Russia – Bloomberg The greatest achievement of Finland’s 100 years of independence? Survival.

Toward a New European Union Strategy for Belarus The EU’s strategy towards Belarus has become incoherent and a decision needs to be taken about whether to prioritise democratisation or support for state-building.

Belarus nuclear plant: A disaster waiting to happen Thirty one years after Chernobyl, Europe has a new nuclear problem on its hands, so why is Lithuania the only one raising the alarm?

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

RT Editor-in-Chief Responds to Macron ‘Propaganda’ Accusations – To Inform is to Influence News in the section ‘Context’ are not fakes. We publish them in order to provide you with a deeper understanding of the techniques and methods used by the Russian government in its information war. May 31, 2017 – 18:51 Context Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian state news organization RT,  has responded to accusations that RT…

Ukraine Reports

U.S. Senator Booker Says Ukraine At Fulcrum Of Russian ‘Aggression’ U.S. Senator Cory Booker said Ukraine was on the front line of a “transatlantic fight” with Russia for freedom and democracy, which Moscow was trying to undermine across the Western world. The Democratic senator was speaking with RFE/RL’s Ukrainian service during a visit to Kyiv.

Interview: U.S. Senator Booker Says Russia Trying to Destabilize Democracies Globally Russia’s interference in Ukraine is just one sign of a broad attempt to destabilize democracies around the world, U.S. Senator Cory Booker has told RFE/RL.

Peter Dickinson | How Putin Accidentally United UkraineThe shock of Russia’s 2014 attack was the catalyst for a radical acceleration of Ukraine’s post-Soviet nation-building process. Putin’s hybrid war posed a direct threat to the existence of the Ukrainian state and forced every Ukrainian to choose sides. To the surprise of the Kremlin, the vast majority chose Ukraine. This was not about politics or geopolitics—it was an affirmation of Ukraine’s fundamental right to exist. Not everyone joined in this epiphany, but the numbers were enough to prove decisive in preventing Russia’s hybrid war from spreading beyond its initial foothold in the Donbas borderlands. The Ukrainian nation had faced the ultimate test and survived. Since 2014, the Ukrainianization of Ukraine has continued to gain ground despite a toxic cocktail of war weariness, economic gloom, and political corruption. Civil society remains indefatigable in its efforts to pursue reforms and hold elected officials to account. The terrible human costs of the conflict have touched communities across the country, stiffening resolve to make sure these sacrifices are not in vain. These shared experiences have created a sense of common cause throughout Ukrainian society. The information environment has also become strikingly more Ukrainian in character. Since 2014, the country has made huge strides toward reclaiming control over its own information space. Russian TV channels can no longer broadcast in Ukraine, while Ukrainian channels are restricted in their ability to use Russian-produced content. Meanwhile, new quotas obliging Ukrainian TV channels to dedicate 75 percent of airtime to Ukrainian-language broadcasting will spur the growth of the domestic entertainment industry and further Ukrainianize the country’s information landscape. The recent ban on Kremlin-controlled social media is also an important step toward Ukraine’s information independence. As well as weakening Russia’s ability to wage information war, it forces Ukrainians to move beyond the confines of the post-Soviet comfort zone. The millions of Ukrainians who used Russian social media did not do so for political reasons. They acted out of habit, just as they routinely watched Russian TV. These habits kept post-Soviet Ukrainians psychologically anchored inside the Russian world and paved the way for the tragedies of Putin’s hybrid war. Ukraine’s efforts to limit Russian access to the country’s information space have been widely criticized as incompatible with the European values espoused during the Euromaidan, but there can be little doubt that the pre-Maidan status quo was akin to an informational occupation. With Kremlin influence now curtailed, Ukraine must rise to the challenge of creating a media landscape capable of catering to the needs of all Ukrainians. Where is Ukraine’s national awakening leading the country? Cynics will point out that patriotism usually does not improve living standards and can often have the opposite effect. Indeed, the Ukrainianization of Ukraine is a fascinating phenomenon, but it will not cure the country’s ills or make the population magically content to receive meager salaries and substandard state services. However, it is a prerequisite if Ukraine is to succeed as a modern European nation. A shared sense of identity is essential for the cohesion of any national community, and this was long lacking in post-Soviet Ukraine. Now the country has a fighting chance.

Yaroslav Dashkevych | How Moscow hijacked the history of Kyivan Rus’ -Euromaidan Press | This essay was first published in a collection by Yaroslav Dashkevych, PhD. in “Learn to Speak the Truth with Non-Lying Lips” – K:Tempora, 2011, 828pp. Yaroslav Dashkevych was a prominent Ukrainian historian, who during his long academic career wrote more than 950 works on Ukrainian historiography, source studies and special historical disciplines, Eastern Studies, Ukrainian-Armenian, Ukrainian-Turkish, and Ukrainian-Jewish relations.

France says worried by Ukraine crisis, demands guarantees for observers | Reuters France’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday it was “extremely concerned” by the situation on the ground in eastern Ukraine and demanded guarantees that international observers be allowed to carry out their mission fully.

EU-Ukraine Association Agreement Cements Ukraine’s European Future – YouTube Dutch lawmakers approved the European Union’s controversial association agreement with Ukraine on Tuesday. The Netherlands was the last country to ratify the…

Turchynov stands for snap visa regime with Russia | UNIAN Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov has spoken in favor of the introduction of a visa regime with Russia in the near future, TV Channel 112 Ukraine reports. News 01 June from UNIAN.

SBU chief wants restricted entry by Russian citizens into Ukrainian territory Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), believes it is reasonable to restrict entry into the territory of Ukraine for Russian citizens by limiting the right to visa-free entry to holders of biometric passports.

Ukraine’s SBU chief proposes e-passports instead of visas for Russians Chief of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Hrytsak proposes the introduction of biometric passports instead of visas for Russians who travel to Ukraine, according to TV Channel 112 Ukraine. News 01 June from UNIAN.

Russia’s Mail.Ru closes office in Ukraine – News about social life | UNIAN Director General of Russia’s Mail.Ru Boris Dobrodeev has said that the Ukrainian branch of Mail.Ru will be closed and its employees will be offered employment at the company’s Russian-based offices, according to Russia’s business daily Kommersant. News 01 June from UNIAN.

Moldovan-Ukrainian checkpoint on Transdniestrian border opened in disregard of Tiraspol’s opinion, this is provocative step  The first Moldovan-Ukrainian checkpoint opened in the Transdniestrian sector of the border with Ukraine is a provocation meant to escalate tensions, the Foreign Ministry of the unrecognized Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic said on Wednesday.

Militants fire on Ukrainian army positions 35 times Over the past day, militants have fired upon positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces 35 times in the Anti-Terrorist operation (ATO) area, as a result of which two servicemen have been wounded, the press service of the ATO headquarters has reported.

Two Ukrainian military wounded in combat yesterday, – ATO HQ 01.06.17 10:12 – Two Ukrainian military wounded in combat yesterday, – ATO HQ Two servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces were wounded in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) in the east of Ukraine on May 31. View news.

Turchynov in Marinka: Ukrainian soldiers act relevant to threats and are ready to repulse any provocations by enemy. PHOTOS 01.06.17 10:51 – Turchynov in Marinka: Ukrainian soldiers act relevant to threats and are ready to repulse any provocations by enemy. PHOTOS Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov arrived in Marinka and Krasnohorivka, the Donetsk region, due to the escalation of combat activities in the anti-terrorist operation area (ATO) and casualties among… View photo news.

Russian-hybrid attack on civilians in Krasnohorivka is a form of psychological warfare -Euromaidan Press | Harassing fire of Russian-hybrid forces against civilians happens on a daily basis, destroying infrastructure and demoralizing the population

Russian Military Convoys are the Lifeblood of the Occupation of Donbas -Euromaidan Press | The conflict against Russian hybrid forces in eastern Ukraine is entering its fourth year. Russia has not stopped supplying its occupational forces with military arms and equipment. 

Ukraine moves forward with issue of political hostages held by Russia -Euromaidan Press | #LetMyPeopleGo campaign is currently fighting for the freedom of 45 Ukrainians held behind bars by the Kremlin on fictitious charges.

Rada may set Ukrainian-language quotas for print media | UNIAN A bill has been tabled in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to introduce Ukrainian-language quotas for the print media, according to the Ukrainian news portal News 31 May from UNIAN.

Ukraine’s Minister of Information Policy steps down, cites health issues Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine Yuriy Stets today, May 31, submitted to the Verkhovna Rada his resignation letter, according to the ministry website. News 31 May from UNIAN.

Swedish Court Sides With Ukraine In Gas Dispute With Russia In Preliminary Rulings A Stockholm arbitration court has sided with Ukraine in three preliminary rulings in a long-running dispute between Moscow and Kyiv over natural gas. Ukraine’s Naftogaz energy company signed …

Zerkal: Stockholm court rules for Naftogaz, cancels gas re-export banThe Stockholm arbitration tribunal has upheld Naftogaz Ukrainy’s demand to cancel the ban on re-export of gas, Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Olena Zerkal said.

Stockholm arbitration rejects Gazprom’s “take-or-pay” demands to Naftogaz The Arbitral Tribunal under the auspices of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) has rendered today a separate award in the Gas Sales Arbitration between Naftogaz and Gazprom under the Gas Sales Contract of 2009, Naftogaz of Ukraine&rsquo;s press service reports. News 31 May from UNIAN.

Klimkin calls decision of Stockholm gas dispute tribunal Ukraine’s victory over Russia’s energy aggression Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has called the decision of the Stockholm Tribunal in the dispute between Naftogaz Ukrainy and Russian Gazprom, Ukraine’s victory over the energy aggression of the Russian Federation.

Slap in Gazprom’s face – news about economy | UNIAN The absolute victory for Ukraine &ndash; this is how the experts comment on yesterday’s decision of the Stockholm Arbitration in the case involving mutual claims of Ukraine&rsquo;s Naftogaz and Russian energy monopoly Gazprom, filed back in 2014. News 01 June from UNIAN.

PM Groysman opposes sale of Ukraine land to large holdings, foreigners Ukraine’s Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman strongly opposes the sale of agricultural land to large agri-businesses and foreigners in case of lifting the moratorium on the sale of arable land in Ukraine. News 01 June from UNIAN.

Ukraine Launches New Energy Strategy to Get Off Fossil Fuels – YouTube Ukraine has launched an ambitious new Energy Strategy with a roadmap to 2035 _ Follow UATV English: Facebook: Twitter: https:…

12 quotes from Ukraine’s moral compass Lyubomyr Husar that everybody should read -Euromaidan Press | Ukraine’s moral compass, ex-head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church Lyubomyr Guzar passed away on 31 May. 2017. But his wisdom lives on

Ukrainians purchase “Anna of Kyiv’s Church” in France -Euromaidan Press |

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Putin Cancels Some Sanctions Against Turkey Russia has lifted some of the sanctions it imposed on Turkey after a Turkish military jet shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border in November 2015. A decree signed by President Vladimi…

Air Force vet gets 35 years in prison for trying to join Islamic State A U.S. Air Force veteran convicted of terrorism charges for trying to join the Islamic State group and die a martyr will spend 35 years in prison.

DPRK / PRC Reports

Watch the exact moment a ‘kill vehicle’ takes out a mock ballistic missile – The Washington Post “All our systems performed exactly as designed,” said Vice Adm. Jim Syring, head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency.

US Successfully Intercepts Ballistic Missile Target in Pacific | The U.S. on Tuesday successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target in the Pacific amid rising tensions with North Korea.

The US just pulled off an important missile defense test – Vox Rocket science is hard. Really hard.

Wary Of North Korea, U.S. Destroys Mock Warhead Over The Pacific : The Two-Way : NPR The Pentagon says its interceptor shot down a missile similar to the type that North Korea could someday use to threaten the United States.

America’s Missile Defenses Against North Korea Have a Big Problem (They Only Work Half the Time) | The National Interest Blog What could go wrong—besides millions of dead Americans?

What game theory says about dealing with North Korea Game theory applies to conflict and cooperation within competitive situations.

Missile Defense Can’t Save Us From North Korea There is no more urgent threat to the global nuclear nonproliferation order than North Korea’s accelerating and unconstrained nuclear and ballistic missile 

Thornberry: House to ‘double down’ on missile defense The House will “double-down” on missile defense in the upcoming budget following a successful intercept of a dummy missile this week, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee said Wednesday. Rep. Mac Thornberry said the test Tuesday by the Missile Defense Agency that resulted in a direct hit of the unarmed U.S. intercontinental ballistic missile is a warning to North Korea. He said the committee now plans to underscore it with new interceptor investments in the annual National Defense Authorization Act. A bill recently introduced by Thornberry would put $1 billion into Terminal High Altitude Area Defense interceptors “or lower tier air and missile defense interceptors” for the Asia-Pacific region. It also includes $15 million for joint missile defense exercises with Japan to counter the North’s burgeoning ballistic missile program. “This test is a warning to the dictator in North Korea that he won’t be allowed to threaten the US and its allies,” Thornberry said in a statement. “In the NDAA this year, we will double-down on that message by making significant new investments to make good on the President’s promise to develop and deploy a ‘state of the art’ missile defense system” Thornberry led a congressional delegation this week to meet with officials in South Korea where the U.S. recently deployed a THAAD system following a spate of new ballistic missile tests by Kim Jong Un’s regime. The committee is expected to hold more hearings in the coming weeks and could complete its version of the NDAA this summer.

Trump and North Korea: Looking Towards the Future Even the Trump administration’s focus on pressuring China to help is, as Park describes it, a “hallmark of the Obama approach, which was applying political pressure on China to get China to somehow effect a breakthrough in the stalemate.” Thus, despite insistence that they are dropping “strategic patience,” Trump administration policy towards North Korea seems to be eerily similar to policy under the Obama administration. “While we’ve seen a lot of very public statements from Secretary of State Tillerson as well as from the White House that they will essentially dismantle and walk away from strategic patience, if you look at the other statements, they look very contrary to the notion of dismantling strategic patience,” says Park. The fact that President Trump and members of his cabinet are starting to stick to the rhetoric of previous U.S. foreign policy makers suggests that the future of U.S. policy may not be as unpredictable as President Trump himself. In the words of Ladha, “Donald Trump, for all of his personal convictions and constant bluster, will ultimately have to succumb to sensible, consistent, and steady U.S. foreign policy.” However, in the case of North Korea, this may mean the continuation of a strategy that allowed for the massive growth of the North Korean nuclear program.

The Latest Korean Missile Frenzy Is Another Step Toward Actual War – VICE A nifty guide to the various missiles and defense systems being tested this week and what it all means for South Korea, North Korea, and the United States.

How China’s Growing Naval Fleet Is Shaping Global Politics – Bloomberg Ship by ship, port by port, China has over the past two decades been assembling one of the essential engines of global power: a modern navy capable of projecting force far from home.

China Must Rein In Reckless North Korea, Turnbull Says – Bloomberg Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull joined the U.S. in imploring China to rein in North Korea, saying the regime was becoming increasingly reckless and must be curtailed.

Foreign Policy Reports

Montenegro Says Russia Has Blacklisted Officials In Retaliation For Sanctions Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic has said that the Kremlin has a secret list of Montenegrin officials who are banned from entering Russia due to the small Balkan nation’s participation i…

Russia Expels Moldovan, Estonian Diplomats In Retaliatory Moves Moscow has ordered five Moldovan and two Estonian diplomats to leave Russia following the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the two countries. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on May 31 tha…

Russian Pranksters Pose As Ukrainian President, PM In Calls To Montenegrin Leaders Two leading politicians in Montenegro have fallen victim to Russian pranksters who posed as the president and prime minister of Ukraine in telephone calls last week, officials in the Balkan countr…

Pomp and Circumstance: The Challenge and Complexity of Engaging India | The National Interest It is important for Washington to respect New Delhi’s role in the world.

Putin Hosts Indian PM Modi At St. Petersburg Forum Russian President Vladimir Putin is meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as Russia hosts the annual St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Modi is the guest of honor at thi…

U.S. Policy Toward the South Caucasus: Take Three – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace The United States has important but not vital interests in the South Caucasus, which include preserving regional stability; preventing the resumption of frozen conflicts; and supporting democratic change and better governance as well as the international integration of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Recent events—the breakdown of the post–Cold War European security order, changing global energy markets, instability to the region’s south, a new U.S. administration, and the European Union’s (EU) internal challenges—call for sustained U.S. engagement to advance those interests.

US Domestic Policy Reports

‘This is Fake News’: Farage Rubbishes Report He is Being Investigated by FBI Over Claimed Russia Links – Breitbart ‘This is Fake News’: Farage Rubbishes Report He is Being Investigated by FBI Over Claimed Russia Links

Nigel Farage Is Reportedly A “Person Of Interest” In The FBI’s Russia Investigation The former UKIP leader — who BuzzFeed News saw visiting Julian Assange in March of this year — is reportedly part of a wide-scale investigation into Russian involvement in the US presidential election

Trump tweeted that China is ‘trying hard’ to handle North Korea. That’s a generous way of looking at it – LA Times What’s in a tweet? We break down President Trump’s tweet about China “trying hard” to rein in North Korea.

Hillary Clinton Was the First Casualty in the New Information Wars – The Atlantic The former presidential nominee made her case that a Russian-backed “conspiracy” to “weaponize” social media took down her campaign.

Clinton Says Trump Campaign Gave ‘Guidance’ To Russian Election Hackers Hillary Clinton said on May 31 that she believes U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign gave guidance to the Russian government in its efforts to influence last year’s election. The forme…

Report: U.S. Moving Toward Returning Diplomatic Compounds To Russia The Washington Post reports that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has taken steps toward returning two diplomatic compounds that Russia was kicked out of in December. In a report o…

Kathy Griffin tweeted something stupid. We should forgive her. – The Washington Post Those who embark on social media shaming should do so with great fear and trembling.

Getting the Pentagon’s Next National Defense Strategy Right A small Pentagon team has started working on the next National Defense Strategy that, if properly scoped and staffed, will be an important tool for Secreta

Committee Report No. 5 – NDDN (42-1) – House of Commons of Canada Committee Report No. 5 – NDDN (42-1) – House of Commons of Canada

MICHAEL McKINLEY. Due diligence in the time of chaos and on the way to hell. | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations At the present time – when analysts, commentators and relevant government agencies are emphasising the dangerous trajectories of world politics, Australian defence is jeopardised undermined by profound strategic mismanagement and a lack of capability; worse, military Keynesianism is obvious and rampant. Capping it off, the recommendations of a government funded think tank to address this,…