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Russia / Strategy Media Update – 15 June 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia again leads in self-inflicted MSM flagellation, and in more disturbing domestic reports. Former Agency analyst compares political complacency on Russia to pre-911. Swedish analysts point out possibility of pre-emptive Russian use of tactical nukes against Scandinavia. Harding points out the now widely denied but obvious – Russia is now a state sponsor of terrorism and for all intents and purposes a terrorist state. Russian public rates the US and Ukraine as Russia’s top enemies, by a big margin over others they do not like – notable how this closely tracks past intensity of Russian domestic propaganda. Senate proceeds with sanctions bill over election, Ukraine and Syria. Pashkov essay on Russian overspending on defence and security is must read:  “In other words, the number of militarized structures in the foreign policy of Russia is comparable with the number of people in uniform in the former USSR, even though the population in the Russian Federation is only half as large.” – Putin has set Russia up for a crash and burn far more intensive than the bankruptcy of the USSR.  Three disturbing reports on Russia’s demographic decline – both in core Russian territory, as well as peripheral parts of Russia, and especially former Soviet republics. Masha Gessen commentaries on the youth of the protesters are very good and hit on some critical points. Tsar Vladimir the Redeemer has done his annual talkback, and earns a record for Choke on Coffee Warnings.

Some excellent IW/IO/Cyber essays, mostly courtesy of Joel Harding, and some light relief brought by the leader of the Luhansk puppet republic.

Leading news from Ukraine is the intended meeting next week between POTUS and Pres Poroshenko, leaked early, and ahead of intended POTUS meet with Putin at G20, that will produce a toxic tirade from Moscow. Donbass fires continue, and another warning of an environmental meltdown in the occupied areas.

US to supply 36 x or US$12B worth of F-15QA Advanced Eagles to Qatar. Mizokami surveys Pakistan’s nuke capabilities.

Sanctions on nations doing business with DPRK being discussed, while NSA claimed to identify the DPRK as the most likely WannaCry perpetrator, noting that a coding error prevents the ransom funds from being collected.

Macron and Turnbull leading MSM political traffic.

Scalise shooting has produced some expected and some unexpected reactions. Multiple background disclosures about the shooter present as another Brevik style psychopath who used the politically toxicity on the day to “give himself permission” to act upon his destructive fantasies. Herein indeed lies the danger in such toxic MSM discourse, as it emboldens people with personality disorders to act upon their destructive impulses. Notably this shooting is producing similar argumentation to that seen after Brevik’s much more successful massacre. Punchline is that political hostility is not good and produces collateral damage that hurts everybody.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Former CIA Analyst Warns Russia Threat Being Ignored Like Al-Qaeda Was Pre-9/11 The analyst said that the American intelligence community is “getting frustrated because they’re probably trying to get policymakers’ attention.”  Russia’s influence and propaganda “is continuing in the United States and across Europe,” said Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst and targeting officer during an interview on MSNBC ahead of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony Tuesday. Bakos said that the American intelligence community is “getting frustrated because they’re probably trying to get policymakers’ attention.” “To me it’s probably a little like pre-9/11 when there was pre-warning analysis being written and delivered to policy makers and they’re not really getting any feedback or any strategies,” she said.


Swedish experts believe Russia could use nuclear weapons in regional conflict Russia could use nuclear weapons in the event of an armed conflict in Northern Europe, according to a report released by Swedish Defense Research Agency (Swedish: Totalf&ouml;rsvarets&nbsp;forskningsinstitut, FOI). In particular, Swedish experts noted that the Russian Federation was modernizing and increasing its arsenal of short-range nuclear weapons while the West was reducing nuclear weapons, the agency reports. According to the experts, the Russian Federation is convinced that it is possible to win a local nuclear war and, therefore, the threat of a nuclear conflict can arise faster than during the Cold War. They also believe that the gradual increase in weapons in the Russian Federation and other countries affects Swedish security policy. Thus, they urge the authorities to analyze the situation more closely. As UNIAN reported, Putin said earlier that Sweden’s accession to NATO would be considered an additional threat to the security of the Kremlin.

Russian Active Measures Are Terrorist Activities By A Terrorist State – To Inform is to Influence Russia planted stories in a wide network of sources around the world, only the intelligence community (and skilled OSINT researchers) can prove that Russian Intelligence Services underwrote or supported the creation of many of these sites, and published stories specifically designed to skew a Presidential election, cause chaos, division and animosity within the ranks of the disgruntled losers, and cause them to disrupt and actively resist the routine operations of the US government at the highest levels.  #Resist supports Russian objectives. Check. Russia is an existential threat to the security of the United States of America. Why is Russia not at least considered a terrorist supporting state if Russian Active Measures and a litany of other actions supported, sponsored, and conducted by Russia are specifically aimed at harming the United States?   Is Russia, in fact, a terrorist state?

Russia deploys airborne early warning and control aircraft in Crimea | Defence Blog The Russian military has deployed Beriev A-50 (NATO reporting name: Mainstay)airborne early warning and control (AEW) Ilyushin Il-22 aircraft and Airborne Command Post aircraft on the occupied Crimean peninsula. According to, the aircraft landed at the airbase Belbek near Sevastopol in Crimea. After the Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in March 2014, a fighter regiment of the 27th Mixed Aviation Division, flying Su-27s, was established at Belbek. The A-50 aircraft was developed from the llyushin IL-76MD military transport aircraft manufactured by the Ilyushin Aviation Complex Joint Stock Company based in Moscow. The A-50 aircraft detects and identifies airborne objects, determines their coordinates and flight path data and transfers the information to command posts. The A-50 also acts as a control centre, guiding fighter-interceptors and tactical air force aircraft to combat areas in order to attack ground targets at low altitudes. The Il-22 (Coot-B) is an airborne command post variant. It was developed by the Myasischev design bureau it was converted from the Il-18D and known as Il-18D-26 Bizon. The new modification of Il-22 will be able to selectively turn off the electronics of enemy airplanes and drones, as well as ground-based air defense systems.

USA and Ukraine are Russia’s top-2 enemies, new Levada poll shows -Euromaidan Press | Russia’s top enemies are the U.S. and Ukraine, according to the latest poll by Levada-Center. U.S. citizens view Russia as an enemy, but it is just #4 on their enemies list. Almost half of Ukrainians are still positive towards Russia amid the three-year-long Russian aggression in Ukraine. Nationals of 4 NATO member countries chose Russia as a preferred ally in case of a military threat. Top enemies of Russians: the U.S., Ukraine, Germany, the Baltic states, Poland On 19-22 May 2017, the Russian non-governmental research organization Levada-Center polled 1600 people throughout all of Russia. One of the questions was “What 5 countries could you call the most unfriendly, hostile towards Russia?” On 5 June, Levada-Center published the results of the survey. The majority of the Russian respondents (69%) said that they consider the U.S.A. their worst enemy. 50% see Ukraine as an enemy state. Germany, Latvia, and Lithuania follow, with 24% each. The next adversaries in the Russian enemies’ top-10 are Poland (21%), Estonia (16%), the Great Britain (15%), Georgia (9%), France (8%).


Senate Votes To Limit Trump’s Power To Lift Russia Sanctions : NPR Secretary of State Tillerson wants flexibility as he tries to improve ties with Russia. The Senate wants to make sure the Trump administration doesn’t change course without congressional buy-in.

Senate Approves Russia Sanctions, Limiting Trump’s Oversight – The Atlantic A new bipartisan deal prohibits the president from rolling back sanctions without Congress’s approval.

Senate overwhelmingly approves new sanctions on Russia for election meddling – Fifth Domain | Cyber The Senate has voted overwhelmingly to approve new sanctions against Russia to punish Moscow for meddling in the 2016 election and its aggression in other parts of the world. The chamber passed the bipartisan sanctions legislation 97-2. The measure has been attached to a bill imposing penalties on Iran that the Senate is currently debating and also has strong support. Lawmakers are taking action against Russia in the absence of a forceful response from President Donald Trump. The president has sought to improve relations with Moscow and rejected the implication that Russian hacking of Democratic emails tipped the election his way. But Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, says he agrees with members of Congress who want Russia held accountable for its meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Senate approves new Russia sanctions – The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to enact new sanctions against Russia and make it difficult for President Donald Trump to lift them.

Senate Strikes Deal on Russia Sanctions, Stripping Power From Trump – NBC News Senators agreed that the additional sanctions on Russia would also prohibit the president from being able to lift them without Congressional approval.

Russia Sanctions: Congress Attempts to Reassert Power Over White House The Senate sent a strong, bipartisan signal this week it wants more say over President Trump’s foreign policies.

Putin Says U.S. Sanctions Aim To ‘Restrain Russia’ President Vladimir Putin said that a U.S. Senate move to increase sanctions against Moscow came “out of the blue” and were meant to “restrain Russia.” On June 14, the U.S. Senate approved further sanctions over alleged Russian meddling in the U.S. election. The measure also would prevent President Donald Trump from unilaterally easing existing sanctions imposed since 2014 over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and meddling in Ukraine. During his annual question-and-answer session with Russian citizens on June 15, Putin said Russia would remove its counter-sanctions on goods from other countries if they removed their sanctions imposed on Moscow. (Reuters)

Putin says sanctions have made Russia stronger | CTV News Russia has climbed out of recession despite continuing Western sanctions, President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, adding that the restrictions have forced the country to ‘switch on our brains’ to reduce its dependence on energy exports.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Even Direct Costs of Putin’s Aggression Unsustainable, Pashkov Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 15 – The indirect costs of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea as well as his military muscle-flexing elsewhere which include the isolation of Russia internationally and greater repression and human suffering domestically are perhaps incalculable. But the direct costs for the military can be measured, and they are growing, quite possibly beyond the level of sustainability, just one reason behind the Kremlin leader’s declaration during his Open Line program today that he plans to cut defense spending over the next few years ( Such cuts appear likely to hit personnel and especially military retirees in the first instance, places where a great deal of money can be saved – in Russia today, personnel increasingly are expensive relative to equipment – but there are limits to that given that such cuts undermine the loyalty of those in uniform ( In today’s Kyiv Segodnya, Mikhail Pashkov of the Razumkov Center argues that Russia is following in the path of the USSR in its military spending, a course that he suggests contributed to the demise of the Soviet Union and is placing ever more unbearable burdens on the latter (–1029867.html). Supporting the unrecognized republics its wars have created is costing Moscow enormous sums, something over 200 million US dollars annually for South Ossetia alone. Over its entire existence, that republic has cost Moscow about a billion US dollars and Transdniestria about six billion US dollars. At present, Ukrainian governments estimate that Moscow is spending “approximately six billion US dollars annually on its war in the Donbass, about equally divided between supporting the unrecognized republics there and backing its military operations. But Russia can’t stop because if it does, those and the other unrecognized republics will soon cease to exist. The Crimean Anschluss is also adding to the burdens the Russian state budget must bear, Pashkov continues. Moscow is currently spending approximately 1.4 billion US dollars every year on that occupied Ukrainian peninsula, an amount that accounts for 73 percent of all government budgets there. As far as Russian military operations in Syria are concerned, Moscow has spent close to a billion US dollars, according to some estimates. Just how much, however, is unknown because the Russian government has declared these figures “a military secret.” And the costs are mounting because this military action is continuing. If one sums up all the costs to the Russian budget of the wars in Syria and Ukraine and the support of occupied Crimea and the unrecognized republics, they total approximately three to four percent of the Russian state budget this year. And that figure is only “the tip of the iceberg” of Russian spending on promoting itself abroad, Pashkov says. It doesn’t include the money Moscow spends on propaganda, cyber war, secret operations, and support of agents of influence throughout the world. The Ukrainian analyst says that Kyiv estimates Moscow now spends two million US dollars a year on the Ukrainian branch of the Institute of CIS Countries alone. Sanctions add to the burden, having cost Russia some 30 billion US dollars in lost GDP growth, a figure to which one must add nine billion US dollars lost because of the Kremlin’s countersanctions program, the analyst continues. All of this is leading to the militarization of Russia: Moscow has the third largest military budget in the world, but Russia’s GDP is not even in the top ten of the economies of the world. Russia now maintains more than four million siloviki (1.9 million in the army, one million in the police, and another million in other forces). “In other words,” Pashkov says, “the number of militarized structures in the foreign policy of Russia is comparable with the number of people in uniform in the former USSR, even though the population in the Russian Federation is only half as large.” The Soviet leadership couldn’t carry this burden: ultimately neither with the Russian, he concludes.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Demographic Decline Powering Rise of Dedovshchina in Russian and Belarusian Armies Paul Goble Staunton, June 15 – Dedovshchina, the Russian term for the mistreatment of more recent draftees and recruits by their seniors or of soldiers from one ethnic group by members of another has its roots in the demographic decline of the Slavic nations which has forced the authorities to take in criminal elements that earlier it might have blocked from serving. That is the conclusion offered by an extensive new survey of this plague in the Belarusian army by the RFRM news portal, which drew parallels with the rise of dedovshchina in Soviet times and also with its continuing existence or even recrudescence in the Russian army of today ( Few want to talk about this criminal activity in Russia or Belarus, although Belarusian defense ministry officials now acknowledge that it is a real problem, albeit one that they suggest is rare rather than common. Reports about cases of dedovshchina in the Belarusian media, however, are so regular that such claims don’t withstand scrutiny. The Belarusian military inherited this form of activity from the Soviet army where it arose, according to many accounts, from three sources: First, the reduction in the length of service for draftees in 1967 which led to tension between those who were still in uniform but had to serve longer than those just drafted. Second, the demographic decline in the number of the prime draft-age cohort that forced the Soviet leadership to take in those convicted of crimes, something the military had avoided earlier. And third, changes in the rules governing military punishments that made dedovshchina an attractive technique for many commanders. When officers could punish soldiers in cruel ways, they didn’t need an alliance with the criminals as much; but when the punishments were restricted to imposing guard duty or something similar, officers found dedovshchina a useful means of controlling draftees, especially those they were using for illegal non-military purposes. The RFRM analysis is important because it suggests although it does not say specifically that the forces that led to the rise of dedovshchina in Soviet times are now at work in the Russian and Belarusian armies and that this problem, which many believed had been overcome, is likely to reemerge or even grow stronger and more dangerous in the future.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Number of Ethnic Russians in Former Union Republics Down 11 Million Since 1989 Paul Goble Staunton, June 15 – The number of ethnic Russians in what were the non-Russian republics of the former Soviet Union has fallen from 25 million in 1989 to 11 million today, but only 6.5 million of that decline consists of Russians who returned to the Russian Federation. The remainder is almost evenly divided by excess deaths over births and assimilation. According to a new report by the Russian7 channel, approximately 2.5 million ethnic Russians changed their identity from Russian to that of the titular nationality. Of these approximately two million are in Ukraine ( The other decline in the number of ethnic Russians there reflected natural population losses because the members of that community had higher death rates and lower birthrates “than representatives of the other nationalities, the station reports, sometimes because of age structure and sometimes because of the actions of the authorities as in Tajikistan and Chechnya. It is intriguing to say the least that this article on the decline of ethnic Russians in the former union republics also focuses on the decline of ethnic Russians from the non-Russian republics of the North Caucasus and the Middle Volga which at least nominally are still within the borders of the post-Soviet Russian Federation. In what was the Chechen-Ingush ASSR in Soviet times, ethnic Russians numbered 290,000. Today in the two successor republics, they number only about 23,000. In Daghestan and in Tatarstan, the situation is not as bad for ethnic Russians, the station continues, but in both places, there has been a decline in the number of ethnic Russians. With regard to Ukraine, the ethnic Russian population there has “actively been assimilated.” Only a third of the three million decline in the number of ethnic Russians in Ukraine between 1989 and now is the product of emigration. The rest involves assimilation in the first case and lower birthrates and higher death rates among ethnic Russians. Elsewhere, the picture is also bleak, the station says. In Kazakhstan, three million of the 6.5 million ethnic Russians who had lived in that Central Asian republic have emigrated. But in the Baltic countries, despite problems for ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia, few Russians have emigrated because of the relatively better economic situation there. The fewest Russians now remain in Tajikistan and Georgia. Only 30,000 of the 390,000 ethnic Russians who had been in the former in 1989 are still there. And in Georgia there has been a similar decline. As for Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan, the number of Russians has declined by more than half.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Despite Putin’s Claim, Ethnic Russians Continue to Decline in Number Paul Goble Staunton, June 14 – Vladimir Putin told Oliver Stone that Russia has “overcome” the contraction in the numbers of ethnic Russians ( But that statement isn’t true, and officials are debating whether Moscow can boost birthrates and cut mortality rates among Russians. The Kremlin leader said that “for the third year in a row, “there has been “a natural growth of the population, including in regions with primarily ethnic Russian population,” a statement that Russian demographers have called into question. (For recent reports on this, see (In the same interview, Putin made two other statements, problematic if not in fact false. On the one hand, he said Russia, unlike Western countries, doesn’t have a problem with immigrants of “a different religion,” despite all the problems it does have with Central Asian gastarbeiters. And on the other, he said that Christians and Muslims in Russia identify as Russians and therefore “we will be able to overcome all sensitive” religious and ethnic issues, again despite all the evidence of problems in both areas.) But perhaps the best evidence of Putin’s dishonesty on demographic issues is provided by an article in Vedomosti today which calls attention to a major policy fight over how best to stimulate the birthrate in Russia ( “With regard to the fall of births,” journalists Margarita Panchenkova and Tatyana Domskaya report, “the social block of the government is proposing a package of measures to stimulate it.” All existing measures would be maintained and extended further into the future, and new ones would be added. Such things would be very expensive and the finance ministry is resisting, calling for shortening the planned extension of maternal capital payments and not taking other steps. In addition to its arguments based on the availability of money, the finance ministry people stress that Russia is now in a demographic “hole” much like the one it was in during the 1990s. “After the baby boom of the 2000s,” the journalists continue, “the number of births began to fall,” with 10.1 percent fewer Russian citizens born in the first quarter of 2017 than in the same period of a year earlier. It is the waves of the number of women in prime childbearing cohorts that is most important, some experts say, not any government program. The finance ministry is prepared to extend some existing programs in maternal capital on two conditions: it will be paid “only in regions where births are lower than the average for Russia and in regions with natural outmigration,” and setting a maximum income for those receiving benefits. The article doesn’t say but these steps would mean significant shift of resources away from predominantly Russian ones to predominantly Muslim ones. The social block of the government also wants to promote programs that will lower the age of first births, but experts say that “there is a risk that a woman who before 25 is not able to receive an education and acquire a profession, will leave the labor market,” something that would hurt the economy by “sharpening the problem of the deficit of workers.” Another factor pushing down birthrates is the worldwide trend toward smaller families, but a more immediate one for Russia is the dramatic decline in the economy and the increase in poverty and fears about the future. If Moscow really wants to address the birthrate, it must focus on these issues, something the Kremlin shows no interest in doing. Appended to the article is a chart showing projected declines in the birthrate and overall population of Russia and increases in the death rate over the next several decades, all figures that most Russian experts accept as true even if Putin says something else to an American interviewer and expects to be believed.
Red – Deaths; Green – Births

Russian diplomats Chisinau expelled reportedly recruited Gagauz to fight in Ukraine | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press | The identification of a pro-Moscow Ukrainian who fought against Kyiv in the first months of Moscow’s war in Ukraine as having been among those who suppressed the anti-corruption demonstrations in Moscow on Monday calls attention to a much larger problem: Russian efforts to recruit non-Russian janissaries it can use at home and abroad. The independent Moscow television channel Dozhd reported that Sergey Kusyuk, the former commander of the Berkut unit that fought in Ukraine on Russia’s behalf, was identified as one of those who was used against the Navalny anti-corruption protesters in Moscow this week. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a one-time thing: Reuters reports that sources in the Moldovan government say that the five Russian diplomats that Chisinau expelled were undercover GRU officers and were recruiting members of the Gagauz minority for training to fight in Ukraine. Russian officials have dismissed these suggestions as anti-Russian propaganda, but they are plausible: the 200,000-strong Gagauz nation, a Turkic speaking but Orthodox Christian minority southeast of Chisinau, is historically pro-Russian and has been the object of Moscow’s attentions in the past. For Moscow, the recruitment of such people is especially useful for two reasons. On the one hand, because they have nowhere to go, they are more likely to do what the Kremlin orders than even Russian law enforcement personnel. And on the other, because they are irregulars, Moscow can disown them in order to deflect responsibility if it needs to. Further, the Reuters report suggests that Moscow which tends to apply the same policies across the board may very well be seeking to recruit other non-Russians in the so-called “frozen conflicts” of the post-Soviet space, either to use them in its wars against Russia’s neighbors or possibly, as in Kusyuk’s case, against Russia’s own population.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Diplomats Chisinau Expelled Reportedly Recruited Gagauz Men to Fight in UkrainePaul Goble Staunton, June 14 – The identification of a pro-Moscow Ukrainian who fought against Kyiv in the first months of Moscow’s war in Ukraine as having been among those who suppressed the anti-corruption demonstrations in Moscow on Monday calls attention to a much larger problem: Russian efforts to recruit non-Russian janissaries it can use at home and abroad. The independent Moscow television channel Dozhd reported that Sergey Kusyuk, the former commander of the Berkut unit that fought in Ukraine on Russia’s behalf, was identified as one of those who was used against the Navalny anti-corruption protesters in Moscow this week ( Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a one-time thing: Reuters reports that sources in the Moldovan government say that the five Russian diplomats that Chisinau expelled were undercover GRU officers and were recruiting members of the Gagauz minority for training to fight in Ukraine ( Russian officials have dismissed these suggestions as anti-Russian propaganda, but they are plausible: the 200,000-strong Gagauz nation, a Turkic speaking but Orthodox Christian minority southeast of Chisinau, is historically pro-Russian and has been the object of Moscow’s attentions in the past. For Moscow, the recruitment of such people is especially useful for two reasons. On the one hand, because they have nowhere to go, they are more likely to do what the Kremlin orders than even Russian law enforcement personnel. And on the other, because they are irregulars, Moscow can disown them in order to deflect responsibility if it needs to. Further, the Reuters report suggests that Moscow which tends to apply the same policies across the board may very well be seeking to recruit other non-Russians in the so-called “frozen conflicts” of the post-Soviet space, either to use them in its wars against Russia’s neighbors or possibly, as in Kusyuk’s case, against Russia’s own population.

One Man Dies Fighting Fire Caused By Russian Rocket Part In Kazakhstan One person has died and another was injured in a fire that officials say broke out when part of a Russian rocket fell to Earth in central Kazakhstan.

What protests in Russia mean for Putin’s reign. Masha Gessen explains why, and how hard that will be to change.

Masha Gessen | The New Face of Russian Resistance | by Masha Gessen | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books The new face of Russian protest is barely pubescent. Reports from the June 12 demonstrations, which brought hundreds and sometimes thousands of people into the streets of just about every Russian city, feature teenagers: a boy in shorts being tackled by police in riot gear, a girl charging a police line, and a paddy wagon full of adolescents. One Russian Facebook user posted a photograph of the teenagers in the paddy wagon with the caption, “Russia has a future.” He posited that “every mass arrest of young people strengthens youth protest,” which, in turn, is sure to bring about the end of the regime.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Three Views on the Consequence of This Week’s Demonstrations in Russia Paul Goble Staunton, June 14 – The anti-corruption demonstrations in Russia this week — for an interactive map on locations, numbers and arrests, see – are supported by 57 percent of all Russians, according to the Levada Center ( They have even attracted comment by Vladimir Putin who says that the problem the Russian opposition has is “not in simply struggling with the powers but showing citizens and voters that the programs [it] is proposing better correspond to the interests of the electorate” ( But precisely because these demonstrations even more than those in 2011-2012 or on March 26 this year are widely perceived as a watershed event in advance of Russia’s presidential elections next spring, they have been the subject of an enormous number of commentaries. Three of them, which consider the consequences of these protests, are especially interesting. In the first of these, Lev Gudkov, the head of the Levada Center, says that by its harsh response to the demonstrations, the authorities “have contributed to the politicization of young Russians” and thus have made it likely that there will be more protests and that these will be more political ( “As a result of the worsening of the economic situation, the very lengthy crisis and the sense that there is no way out, social tension and dissatisfaction is growing in Rusisa,” the sociologist says. Much anger is directed at the corrupt nature of the authorities, more for economic reasons than moral ones. It would be a mistake to see this just as populism, he continues. In fact, the regime’s half-hearted fight against corruption has contributed to the widely held view in the population that the entire government is corrupt. Aleksey Navalny has capitalized on this and that is the major reason for his success. “The portion of Russians who are really dissatisfied with the current regime is not too large but nonetheless notable – consisting of between 15 and 25 percent” who really want to see a change in the composition of those at the top of the state. But the number of such people is “beginning to grow: this is perfectly obvious.” What was especially interesting about this week’s demonstations was the dominance of young people among the participants. “Because the action was banned, people of older age groups were much less in evidence than usual … By their harsh position of suppression,” Gudkov says, “the authorities are contributing to the politicization of young Russians.” The Levada Center head says “it’s worth noting that the authorities have quite strong concerns relative to the growth of protest attitudes. They really fear that because massive protests are the only factor which could destroy the system. Because the movement is not egoist and mercantilist, the authorities don’t know what to do” besides using force. In the second commentary, Moscow political analyst Aleksandr Morozov argues that Navalny by his actions is opening up the political system for “extra-systemic” players but that the relationship of young people to him is more “situational” than many think and that young people could desert him over his perceived authoritarianism ( Russian society at large, Morozov continues, is still behaving in a very “passive” way. People “recognize very well the risks of entering into conflict with the authorities and they are already frightened … But this atmosphere of hopelessness and pessimism … is not entirely justified.” And this is “for one simple reason: the high political inventiveness of Navalny and the unpredictability of his political thought.” Because of that, Morozov says, the opposition leader is “constantly broadening the possibilities of the political situation,” as shown by his ability to organize a massive “unsanctioned” protest. What he will do next is by definition unpredictable, the political analyst says, but his “audience is waiting” for him to “begin to attack not only Medvedev but also Putin. Now, it is still too early to do that, but at a certain moment, it will be already too late.” Navalny has to figure out just when to shift from corruption to the slogan of “’no fourth term.’” And in the third, Rosbalt’s Sergey Shelin argues that the protests Navalny has organized this year are not just complaints and demands that the authorities do something, “but a struggle for a change in the powers that be.” That means in Russia today, there is something that hasn’t existed for “almost 20 years,” a struggle for power ( That is hardly an equal struggle, of course, but one that prompts the question just “how many divisions” does Navalny have? According to Shelin, what matters now is not so much the numbers of people and places where protests have taken place as the passion that those taking part have brought to them. He suggests that there are already “three main results” visible. First, “it is obvious that in the capitals the authorities were much more afraid this time than in March but that they had prepared for the struggle much better this time around.” Second, Russia’s “silent majority” isn’t yet ready to repeat a demonstration and that’s why many took “a pause” now. And third, “The June events have shown that a new group of young opposition activists have come into the streets.” Not yet in the millions but already in “many tens of thousands” who are prepared to oppose repression and “the archaic, anti-modern regime” of Vladimir Putin. Thus, Navalny has a serious and consolidated political base. As yet, it isn’t large, perhaps two percent or a bit more. But under Russian conditions, that is a start and something he can build on. And Navalny’s backing will only increase if the authorities try to block him from running as they have up to now. That fact, confirmed this week, makes Monday’s demonstrations a turning point. The Day of Russia this year “clearly did not become a holiday for the regime.” Instead, it became “a breakthrough day for his opponents. I call it the day of confirmation,” Shelin continues, confirmation that “the Putin era continues, but the atmosphere of the last 18 years has disappeared forever.”

Why young people are flocking to Russian protests (opinion) – (CNN)Bizarre scenes emerged Monday from Moscow as thousands of protesters chanting, “Putin is a thief!” and “Down with the Czar!” intermingled with costumed actors re-enacting scenes from Russian history to mark Russia Day, a national holiday. But that wasn’t the only unusual aspect.

Russian Elections Chief Says ‘Practically No Chance’ Navalny Can Get On Presidential Ballot Russia's top election official says Aleksei Navalny is almost certain to be barred from running in a March 2018 presidential election, citing a criminal conviction the opposition leader contend…

Russian Activist Fined After Reading Constitution On Red Square Russian political activist Ildar Dadin has been fined after reading aloud from the Russian Constitution on Red Square outside the Kremlin. A court in Moscow fined Dadin 20,000 rubles ($350) on Jun…

Russia’s Vladimir Putin Holds Annual Question-and-Answer Session – NBC News The Russian president has held the heavily choreographed call-in show most years since 2001.

Putin Compares Comey To Snowden, Offers Asylum Russian President Vladimir Putin said former FBI Director James Comey’s claim that he gave his account of a conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump to a friend to leak to the media is “odd.” Speaking on his annual call-in show on June 15, Putin compared Comey’s move to that of NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who has been living in Russia since 2013 after leaking classified information. Putin said, sarcastically, that Russia could also grant Comey political asylum like Snowden. (AP)

Vladimir Putin offers fired FBI director James Comey asylum in Russia | The Independent Vladimir Putin has joked that the fired FBI director James Comey is welcome to seek asylum in Russia. Speaking in his annual question and answer session in Moscow, the Russian President said it was “very strange” that the FBI official had leaked details of conversations with Donald Trump, and likened his actions to those of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. “If there is some kind of persecution, we would be ready to offer political asylum to Mr Comey if he is persecuted in the US”, Mr Putin told a live audience.

Putin says Russia’s economic crisis is over, inflation falling | Reuters President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia’s economic crisis was over and that inflation, already at a historic low, would fall further to 4 percent this year.

Putin claims Russia tries not to meddle in Ukraine’s internal affairs Russian President Vladimir Putin claims Russia is trying &quot;not to meddle in the internal affairs of Ukraine.&quot; Latest UNIAN news from 15 June.

Medvedchuk is Ukrainian nationalist, his father was OUN member, says Putin 15.06.17 16:19 – Medvedchuk is Ukrainian nationalist, his father was OUN member, – Putin Russian President Vladimir Putin has called his friend, Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk a Ukrainian nationalist. He said this during live Q&A conference when answering a question allegedly from a caller from Kyiv, Censor.NET reports. “I believe he is a Ukrainian nationalist. He doesn’t like this definition. He believes he is an enlightened patriot of Ukraine. It’s not a secret that his father was an active participant of OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists that was active during WWII – ed.]. He was convicted by Soviet court, imprisoned and sent into exile,” Putin said.

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

“All sabotage groups coming here and in Donetsk have been trained by US and Canada,” – “Luhansk People’s Republic” terrorist leader Plotnitsky 14.06.17 17:57 – All sabotage groups coming here and in Donetsk have been trained by US and Canada, – Luhansk People’s Republic terrorist leader Plotnitsky All Ukrainian sabotage and intelligence groups that enter Luhansk and Donetsk have been trained by the U.S. and Canada. View news.

Hybrid war’s sword arm: The Russians have found good tactical innovations – To Inform is to Influence Good article, good review of a paper by Majors Fox and Rossow.   I knew the article was going to have problems when he made a quote: “Men worry more about what they cannot see than what they can.” and tried to attribute it to an actual quote from Ceasar.  It was an over-reach, an…

The world in black and white – Disinformation Review – To Inform is to Influence Share Tweet Forward 15 June 2017 *TRENDS OF THE WEEK* The world in black and white In fairy tales, things have to be black and white and easy to understand. The villain is always cruel, horrible and insidious; the hero is pure, fair, and honest. A look at the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign shows us a…

A Cyber-Weapon Warhead Test – To Inform is to Influence By Nicholas Weaver Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 11:38 AM The Daily Beast has a story on “CrashOverride”, a computer program best described as transient anti-infrastructure warhead designed to disrupt the power grid. It was tested live against a Ukrainian substation in December 2016 creating a small blackout. Kim Zetter has another good report at Motherboard,…

Physicists use quantum memory to demonstrate quantum secure direct communication – To Inform is to Influence Two things struck me instantly.  One, the quantum secure direct communication (QSDC) protocol will mean absolutely unbreakable communications for whoever uses it. Granted, quantum memory is almost unheard of outside the computer research community.  You can bet your bottom dollar, however, this will be implemented almost instantly in the US intelligence community. Once it can be…

New RAND Research: Lessons for Future Department of Defense Social Media Analysis in Support of Information Operations – To Inform is to Influence  Monitoring Social Media Lessons for Future Department of Defense Social Media Analysis in Support of Information Operations William Marcellino, Meagan L. Smith, Christopher Paul, Lauren Skrabala DOWNLOAD THE REPORT ORDER A FREE HARD COPY Although there are compelling national security reasons to field a social media analysis capability, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)…

Trevor Noah Calls Out Media For Reporting On Donald Trump ‘Gossip’ – To Inform is to Influence I am shocked this comes from Trevor Noah. I am even more shocked this comes from Huffington Post. Both firmly embrace fairly extreme liberal perspectives.  I’m not totally convinced this is truthful, however. This was under the Comedy category at Huffington Post.  This, however, is what needs to be said about the mainstream media in…

‘Wonder Woman’ Has Far-Reaching Appeal And Effects For Good – To Inform is to Influence What lessons can we, as inform and influence professionals, learn from this? Call me sappy, naive, even juvenile, but I honestly believe in the inherent goodness of man. So when something comes along with widespread effects for good over a large area, I am supremely interested. Besides, it makes me feel good. Yes, this alpha…

Ukraine Reports

Sources: Ukraine’s Poroshenko To Meet Trump In Washington Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington sometime before next month&rsquo;s G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, three Ukrainian officials in Kyiv an…

Poroshenko to meet Trump during visit to US on June 20, – Glavkom 14.06.17 16:27 – Poroshenko to meet Trump during visit to US on June 20, – Glavkom Ukraine’s president will visit the United States on June 19-20. View news.

Ukrainian media outlet announces tentative date of Poroshenko-Trump meeting Talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are scheduled to be held in Washington, D.C., next week, according to the Ukrainian news outlet Evropeiska Pravda. “The point at issue is Poroshenko’s full-fledged state visit to Washington, which will include all meetings with key figures, including President Trump,” a diplomatic source told Evropeiska Pravda. “The date has been approved, the visit will take place in June, in the near future,” the other source said. The Ukrainian Presidential Administration is expected to announce this visit officially soon. “One more [Ukrainian] official has assured that the Poroshenko-Trump meeting is scheduled for the coming week,” the media outlet said. As was reported, phone talks between the two presidents took place on February 5, 2017.

Klimkin on Poroshenko-Trump talk: “We will work to coordinate logic of our cooperation on Russia pressure” 15.06.17 11:53 – During his visit to the U.S., President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko will meet his American counterpart Donald Trump. This was announced by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, Censor.NET reports citing Interfax-Ukraine. “The meeting will definitely take place, we are getting ready to it. But we have to keep suspense. Very soon Sviatoslav Tseholko [presidential press secretary – ed.] will make a relevant statement (at the same time as our U.S. friends), but at the moment we are working on the speech,” he said. Klimkin said the agenda will include the issue of Russia’s fulfillment of its obligations under the Minsk agreements, the issue of the occupied Crimea and access to it of foreign monitors, bilateral relations between Ukraine and U.S., and aid to Ukrainian reforms. The minister added that security cooperation between U.S. and Ukraine will also be discussed. He announced “important political decisions on this issue.”

Klimkin announced Poroshenko’s meeting with Macron, visits of Stoltenberg and Guterres: “This is period of focused and concentrated political activity” 15.06.17 16:58 – Klimkin announced Poroshenko’s meeting with Macron, visits of Stoltenberg and Guterres: This is period of focused and concentrated political activity In addition to meeting Trump in Washington, President Poroshenko will have talks with other world leaders in the next few months. View news.

Poroshenko comments on Turchynov’s idea to abolish ATO Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has responded to yesterday's statement by Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov regarding the abolition of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) in eastern Ukraine, according to the presidential press service. News 14 June from UNIAN.

Poroshenko to table Donbas reintegration bill in parliament soon – lawmaker Ukraine's humanitarian envoy in the Minsk Trilateral Contact Group for the peaceful settlement in Donbas, First Deputy Chair of the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Gerashchenko has announced that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will soon table a bill on reintegrating occupied Donbas in parliament, according to an UNIAN correspondent. News 15 June from UNIAN.

How can Russia be punished for arms supplies to Donbas | UNIAN It is no secret for the international community, what state supplies weapons and ammunition to Donbas militants in eastern Ukraine. Both the OSCE and NATO have declared openly and officially that the supplier is Russia. Special Monitoring Mission reports Russian military equipment and ammunition crossing into Ukraine. There is factual evidence that Russia has been supporting militants with arms. There are even individual statements of certain Russian public figures recognizing such military support. By the way, certain officials of the Russian defense ministry who confirm this clearly as well. Thus, the evidence is out there, and it’s not even being concealed. What’s lacking? A dot over the “i”, that is the UN Security Council resolutions. But since Russia is a member of the Council, no such resolutions can emerge. Within the OSCE and in the framework of their decisions, there can be no direct and clear definitions either because Russia remains one of the members – and sponsors – of the organization. No one has deprived Moscow of its membership status yet. In addition, the Tribunal ruling was supposed to emerge regarding Russia’s support of terrorism and separatism. There was no tribunal and, accordingly, there is no legal conclusion issued in international law, which could form the core of efforts to hold Russia liable. All the necessary evidence has been provided Ukrainian intelligence, CIA, and other agencies. There is no secret for NATO, the European Union, and the United States as regards the “identity” of supplier of weapons to militants. The question is whether there is a relevant formal recognition of the fact, or some definition, and whether it can result in some sort of legal action (sanctions, etc.) Certain sanctions have already been introduced against Russia, of course, including those in relation to Russia’s actions in Donbas. However, we shouldn’t expect anytime soon any additional sanctions against Moscow for its support of terrorism, separatism, and military operations, since this requires tough political decisions. Currently, the EU is failing to make such moves because it would be unable to maintain the sanctions regime on their own, without the United States. The package of sanctions already introduced is the maximum we can expect from Brussels. Therefore, Ukraine now needs to work on legal decisions and legal definitions which could hypothetically result in the introduction (both by international organizations and individual governments) of a new round of sanctions against Russia. Ukraine could also demand that court rulings be handed down which would lead to the prosecution of individuals responsible for the terrorist attacks on Ukraine on the part of Russia. Such rulings could be issued in relation to Vladimir Putin, the officials of the Russian Defense Ministry and structural units of the presidential administration. But these issues cannot be resolved overnight. This is a long and exhausting game involving a wide range of major diplomatic, political, and media efforts. Vitaliy Kulyk is a CEO at the Civil Society Research Center

Russian proxies attack Ukraine 55 times, 3 WIA’s in last day Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 55 times in the past 24 hours, with three Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 15 June from UNIAN.

Russian invaders redeploy troops and hardware to Vasylivka, – InfoResist 14.06.17 17:27 – Russian invaders redeploy troops and hardware to Vasylivka, – InfoResist Separatist troops in the Donbas are redeploying military personnel and hardware along E50 highway from Kruta Balka to Vasylivka. View news.

Union federations seek answers after journalist goes missing in Ukraine The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ and EFJ) on Wednesday joined their affiliates, the National Union of Journalists in Ukraine (NUJU) and the Independent Media Trade Union of Ukraine (IMTUU), in demanding the Ukrainian authorities do all they can to find the journalist Stanislav Aseyev, known as Stanislav Vasin, who went missing in the occupied part of Donbas region on Saturday, June 3, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has reported. News 15 June from UNIAN.

Attempt on Osmaev and Okueva: killer says wanted to make a gift, – Police Deputy Head Kryshchenko 15.06.17 15:55 – Investigation has enough evidence to prosecute the person who shot Adam Osmaev in Kyiv on June 1. His motives and an alleged Russian trace will be established further into investigation. This was announced by deputy head of the National Police of Ukraine, head of Kyiv police Andrii Kryshchenko in an exclusive interview with Interfax-Ukraine, Censor.NET reports. He also said the shooter told the investigation his own version of events. “He speaks short and says he wanted to make a gift,” Kryshchenko said. He said that the investigation has enough evidence to prosecute the suspect, while his motives and the alleged Russian trace will be established further into investigation. Kryshchenko said law enforcers are looking into how this person was legalized in Ukraine and got his passports. He said the main motive behind the crime is considered to be patriotic activity of the ATO volunteers Okueva and Osmaev. In the evening of June 1, an attempt was made on the lives of Chechen volunteer fighters of Ukrainian Kyiv-2 unit, Donbas war participants Adam Osmaev and Amina Okueva in Kyiv’s Podil district. The attacker passed himself as a foreign journalist who allegedly wanted to interview them, got close to them, opened fire from a gun, and wounded Osmaev. His wife Okueva, to protect herself and repulse the attacker, opened fire and gravely wounded the killer. Both men have been taken to hospital with grave wounds. Osmaev is convicted by Russia of alleged attempt on President Putin.

Netrebko, who organized attack on Tetiana Chornovol during Euromaidan, hanged in prison cell, – MP Kuprii 15.06.17 15:15 – Netrebko, who organized attack on Tetiana Chornovol during Euromaidan, hanged in prison cell, – MP Kuprii Oleh Netrebko could have told investigators about the crimes committed by law enforcers during the Revolution of Dignity three years ago in Kyiv. View news.

On the brink of catastrophe: part of Donbas territories may become uninhabitable in 5-10 years | UACRISIS.ORG On the brink of catastrophe: part of Donbas territories may become uninhabitable in 5-10 years. Donetsk region takes one of the leading places in Europe and the first place in Ukraine for the level of environmental degradation. The situation in the region has deteriorated since the beginning of the military conflict in Donbas. The consequences of the hostilities can provoke a real ecological catastrophe affecting the entire territory of Donbas, and not only Donbas, claimed Dmitriy Averin, ecologist, Zoi Environment Network expert, in an interview to “Ostrov”. UCMC publishes an abridged version of the interview. – Does the war in Donbas influence the region’s ecology? Donbas is the most technogenically loaded region of Ukraine and Europe. According to 2013 data, the amount of air emissions in the region was 44% of the total emissions in Ukraine. Military operations in the east affect virtually all the components of the environment. The natural environment is polluted as a result of both direct impact from combat operations and indirect effects, for example, during outages at large industrial enterprises, disruptions in the work of critical infrastructure facilities. – What dangerous industries are currently concentrated in Donbas? There are several large metallurgical enterprises in Donbas, which, one way or another, were damaged as a result of the conflict. These are Makiivka, Donetsk and Yenakiievo iron and steel plants, Alchevsk metallurgical plant, Avdiivka coke plant, Luhansk, Sloviansk, Vuhlehirsk and Mironivska thermal power plants. There were interruptions in the work of Starobeshivska, Kurakhivska and Zuyivska TPP. Enterprises of the chemical industry – Lysychansk oil refinery, Donetsk state chemical plant, the Severodonetsk Azot and the Horlivka Stirol – also suffered damage. Coal mining enterprises, which are the most vulnerable during the fighting, are also very ecologically dangerous, since they need uninterrupted power supply.

How Ukraine counters use of drones by Russian hybrid forces -Euromaidan Press | Enemy drones are hard to detect, but Ukraine’s servicemen manage to locate and take them down.

stailker | Odessa Testing of New BTR-3 Based C3 System [PHOTOESSAY]

Ukrainian company tests new flame-resistant clothing for tank crewmen | Defence Blog The Ukraine-based TEMP-3000 scientific-production enterprise successfully tested its new flame-resistant clothing for the crews of Armoured Fighting Vehicles. The TEMP-3000 has successfully tested its new flame-resistant clothing in under Protect Life From Fire (PLIFF) program conducted in Osaka, Japan. The tests included a life-size mannequin system equipped with 60 heat sensors dressed in flame-resistant clothing by TEMP-3000 and exposed to flash fire from 20 gas-fired burners placed around the ground. The tests showed the degree of burn involving damage to the epidermis not exceeding 4.2%, far below the level required by the international standard ISO 13506, according to a company executive spokesman. During the test, T-shirt made of cotton, which serves as a witness when exposed to fire on overall remained without damage.

Russia threatens to retaliate if Ukraine introduces visas for Russians The Russian Foreign Ministry claims that it will decide on retaliatory measures &quot;ex post&quot; if Ukraine introduces visas for Russians, according to an UNIAN correspondent in Russia. News 15 June from UNIAN.

10 myths about the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Myth #3: Bandera and Ukrainian nationalists were agents of the Nazi special services | UACRISIS.ORG 10 myths about the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). Myth #3: Bandera and Ukrainian nationalists were agents of the Nazi special services

An unrealized possibility -Euromaidan Press | Kseniya Kirillova. Anechka returned to the States from Odesa at the end of August 2016, rested, encouraged, and happy. I remember how she chirped to me about her Ukrainian friends, the bustling shore along a gentle sea, and happiness – that special happiness which occurs when you visit the land of your birth which you left many years ago and discover that you still love it. This is probably one of the most beautiful moments in the world – when you encounter pure, uncomplicated joy. Anya was always a very bright person, and she traveled to Ukraine not only for relaxation but also to work on Christian mission projects, after which she permitted herself some rest in sunny Odesa. But as I listened to her I thought of something quite different. Not the Christian children’s camps, not the spiritual sermons around the campfire, but rather about what happened quite near the city where Anya vacationed.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Qatar Crisis Mediators Expect Saudi, U.A.E. Proposals Soon – Bloomberg Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are expected to announce what they want Qatar do to in return for ending their isolation of the tiny Gulf nation, according to a Gulf official with direct knowledge of the matter.

Qatar agrees purchase of F-15QA fighters from US Qatar has signed an agreement with the United States for the procurement of Boeing F-15 Eagle combat aircraft, the country’s government announced on 14 June. The USD12 billion deal was signed during a visit to Washington, DC, by the Minister of State for Defense Affairs, Dr Khalid bin Mohammed Al Attiyah, and by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis. No numbers were given in the disclosure by the Qatar Government Communications Office, but reports say the country is to receive up to 36 F-15QA (Qatar Advanced)-variant Eagles. No timeline for deliveries was disclosed. Qatar was cleared to buy 72 F-15QA Eagles and related weapons, support, and training for USD21 billion in November 2016 following years of delay supposedly over concerns raised by Israel. While 72 F-15QAs were approved, it is believed that a portion of this requirement has already been satisfied with 24 Dassault Rafales that were ordered in May 2015. Along with the Rafales, the F-15QAs will replace the Qatar Emiri Air Force’s current 12 Dassault Mirage 2000-5 fighters. The Advanced Eagle is the latest variant of the Boeing-made fighter that has also been ordered by Saudi Arabia as the F-15SA. This variant improves on previous models in that it features two additional underwing weapons stations (increasing the number from nine to 11); the option of a large area display cockpit; fly-by-wire controls; the Raytheon AN/APG-82(V)1 or AN/APG-63(V)3 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar; General Electric GE F-110-129 engines; digital Joint Helmet – Mounted Cueing Systems in both cockpits; and a digital electronic warfare system among other enhancements. In a typical escort configuration, the Advanced Eagle can carry 16 AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs); four AIM-9X Sidewinder short-range missiles; and two High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs). For precision strike it can carry 16 Small-Diameter Bombs (SDBs); four AMRAAMs; one 2,000 lb Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM); two HARMs; and two drop tanks.

Qatar buys F-15 fighter planes in billion-dollar US deal – BBC News The $12bn purchase of fighter jets comes as tensions between the emirate and its neighbours soar.

Qatar Says $12B Fighter Jets Deal Shows Deep U.S. Support | World News | US News Deal shows Qatar still has strong ties to U.S., official says.

Trump sells Qatar $12 billion of U.S. weapons days after accusing it of funding terrorism – CBS News Mere days after accusing Qatar of funding terrorism, President Trump signed off on a $12 billion arms deal with it

Russia hopes to sign mega deal with Egypt to supply T-90 main battle tanks | Defence Blog Russian defence companies are hoping to sign the mega deal with Egyptian Armed Forces to supply T-90MS main battle tanks (MBTs). That was reported by with a reference to the Russian source. According to the source, the Egyptian Armed Forces is looking to acquire newly T-90MS main battle tanks. The Egypt’s Army can order about 400 or 500 new T-90MS MBTs, including a number of kits for local assembly from Uralvagonzavod in Russia. Russia also signed a major contract for the supply of T-90MS tanks to a country in the Middle East, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov. “Over these two years, as expected, a number of tests have been carried out in several Middle East countries. In December, a major contract was signed with one of Middle East countries. There are plans to sign another contract soon,” Manturov said at the IDEX 2017 exhibition. The T-90MS is the latest version of the Russian T-90 main battle tank. It is also referred as Tagil or Proryv. It has a number of improvements and improved operational capabilities over the original T-90. This tank was first revealed in 2011. It is being proposed for various export customers.

How Pakistan Is Planning to Fight a Nuclear War | The National Interest Blog Forget North Korea, this is the real nuclear threat the world should be thinking about.

DPRK / PRC Reports

U.S. weighs sanctions on countries doing business with North Korea | Reuters The United States is weighing imposing sanctions on countries that do business with North Korea and looking for ways to revive strained relations with Russia, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday.

U.S. Could Raise Pressure on North Korea With Sanctions on Countries That Trade With Pyongyang The United States doesn’t conduct business with North Korea directly, but could sanction those who do.

US blames N. Korea for series of cyberattacks – Fifth Domain | Cyber WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials are blaming the North Korean government for a series of cyberattacks dating to 2009 against media, aerospace, financial sectors and infrastructure in the United States and around the world. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning this week, saying the cyberattacks were carried out by actors within the North Korean government who are known as “Hidden Cobra.” “DHS and FBI assess that Hidden Cobra actors will continue to use cyber operations to advance their government’s military and strategic objectives,” the alert said. U.S. officials are distributing internet addresses to help networks defend against any attacks. The FBI said it has high confidence that the internet addresses are linked to systems infected with Hidden Cobra malware to further exploit networks. The cyberattacks targeted weaknesses in Microsoft Corp. operating systems and Adobe Systems Inc.’s Flash software, which were patched in January and June, respectively.

NSA links Wannacry worm to North Korea – BBC News Hackers known to work for the regime may be behind the virus says the spy agency, though others disagree.

The NSA has linked the WannaCry computer worm to North Korea – The Washington Post A ‘moderate confidence’ assessment points to Pyongyang’s spy agency.

The NSA reportedly believes North Korea was responsible for WannaCry ransomware attacks – The Verge North Korea increasingly appears to have been behind the ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers last month and shut down hospitals, businesses, and other systems in the…

US blames North Korea for series of cyberattacks – ABC News US blames North Korea for series of cyberattacks

US blames North Korea for hacking spree, says more attacks likely The U.S. issued a rare alert blaming North Korea for a raft of cyberattacks stretching back to 2009 and warning that more were likely.

Otto Warmbier Got an Extra Dose of Brutality From North Korea. The Mystery Is Why. – The New York Times Despite its enmity toward the United States, the North remains sensitive to outside criticism of its human rights record and generally tries to use Americans as bargaining chips.

Foreign Policy Reports

Macron, Le Terminator | The Weekly Standard Paris When Emmanuel Macron declared he would run for president of France in late 2016, the consensus was that he was a cat’s-paw of Fran&amp;ccedil;ois Hollande. Macron had been deputy chief of staff at the Elys&amp;eacute;e Palace to the Socialist Hollande, the most unpopular president in the history of modern France, or indeed of political polling. Hollande then named him economy minister, a dazzling promotion for a 36-year-old civil servant who’d never run for elective office. Tasked with modernizing the French economy, Macron took a few bites at the country’s rigid employment law (clocking in at well over 3,500 pages, it beats Obamacare in complexity). He let Uber into Paris against the violent protests of the taxi drivers, allowed Sunday openings for more categories of shops, broke the rail monopoly on regional transportation by allowing intercity bus lines (hitherto forbidden), and took to addressing colleagues and voters in management-speak, en anglais s’il vous pla&amp;icirc;t. He talked of la task force, les losers (ISIS terrorists), et le win-win. These were baby steps in the right direction, sorely needed even if somewhat cosmetic. Revolutionary it was not.

Macron Doctrine Looks Like Same Old France to Angry Italians – Bloomberg Traditional parties are crumbling and the parliament is on the brink of an unprecedented sea change, stirring hopes across Europe that Emmanuel Macron may be able to make good on his promises of revolution. But the French president is still interfering in foreign takeovers.

Macron, the 39-year-old strongman Europe needs (opinion) – French President Emmanuel Macron is poised to become the most powerful European leader in the wake of Theresa May’s stunning election blow and his party’s landslide win in first round parliamentary elections.

Emmanuel Macron’s democratic revolution WITH its nautical boutiques, trim lawns and tennis club, the seaside town of Le Touquet is the weekend refuge for the bourgeoisie of northern France.

Leak a Midwinter Balls-up for Trump-impersonating PM | Daily Telegraph PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull has risked the ire of Donald Trump by impersonating him and joking about him using a Russian guy to help him win the US election during a speech at a private dinner.

Leaked audio reveals Malcolm Turnbull roasting Donald Trump over ‘fake polls’ and Russia – Malcolm Turnbull isn’t known for being a comedian but he tried some daring Donald Trump material on Canberra’s press gallery last night.

Turnbull mocks Trump: Australian Prime Minister imitates US President in leaked audio – Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull mocked US President Donald Trump in a speech Wednesday night to a gathered crowd of journalists and politicians.

Malcolm Turnbull, Australian Leader, Pokes Fun at Trump in Leaked Recording – The New York Times “Donald and I, we are winning and winning in the polls,” the prime minister said at Australia’s equivalent of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner.

Australian PM reportedly heard mocking Trump in leaked audio tape | Fox News Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull could be heard on a leaked audio tape mocking President Trump during an address to journalists which is usually off the record, reported.

Australian leader disappointed Trump parody became public – The Washington Post Australia’s prime minister said he was disappointed that excerpts of an off-the-record speech he gave at Parliament House parodying President Donald Trump were broadcast by a television network on Thursday.

US Domestic Policy Reports

U.S. Secretary Of State Urges ‘Flexibility’ Ahead Of Russia Sanctions Vote WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has urged lawmakers not to restrict the White House's ability to negotiate with Russia, as the Senate moves closer to cementing existin…

AP-NORC poll: Most in US think Trump meddled in Russia probe – The Washington Post A clear majority of Americans believe President Donald Trump has tried to interfere with the investigation into Russia’s alleged election meddling and possible Trump campaign collusion, a new poll shows. Just one in five support his decision to oust James Comey from the FBI.

Steve Scalise shooting: Is liberal-conservative vitriol to blame? Most experts agree psychological issues, not political rhetoric, are the primary drivers of the kind of violence that tore through the Republican baseball practice.

Congressional Shooter Loved Bernie, Hated ‘Racist’ Republicans, and Beat His Daughter James Hodgkinson’s first foster daughter committed suicide by lighting herself on fire, and he beat his second foster daughter. Three months ago he took ‘target practice’ at home.

Steve Scalise: Man Who Shot GOP Lawmaker Called ‘Loner’ | The gunman who wounded a top Republican congressman during baseball practice had apparently been living out a white cargo van for months

One man’s leap from activist to shooter is a warning for all of us to step back – Chicago Tribune          A gunman from Illinois shoots into a baseball practice near Washington, D.C.

Both parties call for the easing of political hostility after Scalise shooting | Fox News          Politicians from both parties are calling for political unity in the wake of the shooting that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise in critical condition — and are looking to show that bipartisanship when the baseball game Scalise and colleagues were practicing for goes on as scheduled Thursday evening.

Steve Scalise GOP baseball shooting: Peter King, Kathleen Rice, Donald Trump, more respond | Newsday           Responses to the shooting at a Republican congressional baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia.

Steve Scalise: Virginia Shooting Captured in Video | Eyewitness video captured the gun battle between Capitol Police officers and a shooter at a Virginia baseball field Wednesday morning

The Steve Scalise shooting has already become a political football – The shooting of Rep. Steve Scalise and four others at a baseball practice for Republican members of Congress on Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia, was always going to quickly turn to politics.

Trump Allies Blame Congress Shooting on the Media’s Russia Obsession ‘Make no mistake, the media and the Left and anyone promoting TrumpRussia has blood on their hands today,’ one Trump defender wrote in the wake of the Arlington, Virginia, attack.

The Hero Cops Who Prevented a Congressional ‘Massacre’ Friends aren’t surprised by the courage officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey displayed in taking down James Hodgkinson.

Their Finest Hour – WSJ Two officers save many lives, and the politicians respond well too.

After lawmaker shooting, probe seeks clues amid trail of political anger left by attacker – The Washington Post House Majority Whip Steve Scalise remained in critical condition as colleagues planned to move ahead with traditional baseball game in show of political unity.

Political edge of Virginia shooting drives viral response | Newsday Given fast and clear indications that Virginia shooter James T. Hodgkinson was a would-be assassin of Republicans who deplored President Donald Trump, the “what about”