Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 21 June 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia’s self-destructive and destructive meltdown has produced much interesting reading today. The Russian FLANKER harrassing a RIVET JOINT continues to draw attention, while Zvezda releases a clip of an F-16 flying formation on a Russian transport, describing it as an  “Su-27 fighter chases NATO F-16 away from Shoigu’s aircraft: exclusive footage”. Maigre essay on Suwalki Gap. Lavrov makes some foolish statements. Pew Research Center poll finds that “60 percent of Russians believe that parts of neighboring countries rightfully belong to Russia. Moreover, some 52 percent back military intervention when the interests of ethnic Russians are threatened” – Whitmore makes some apt observations – the “Russia problem” will indeed persist for decades, until there is deeper cultural change.  Morozov essay on the collapse of critical thinking overlooks the global footprint of the problem, and its existence before Krymnash in Russia. Roshchin’s essay on the “deification of the state” makes some interesting points explaining why so many Russians blindly admire Putin, Stalin and indeed Kim junior. Eidman argues that Putin’s unconscious phobias are now driving his agenda and decision calculus, and producing global impacts – he may be right given what we have observed. Fascinating essay by Schlosberg.  Russia now spends 7.4% of its GDP on defense, more than twice that of the US, and up to seven times that of some EU nations – this almost guarantees insolvency. More disturbing demographic data on mortality in Russia. Latest survey shows that 30% of Russians identify as Muslim, and only 42% as Orthodox Christian, noting earlier surveys suggesting only a small fraction of the latter were actually practicing.  Srechinsky and Illiaronov on revolts against Soviet power, numbering over 200. Buzzfeed publishes the fourth installment in series on Russian assassinations.

Most interesting IW/IO/Cyber topic is the WIRED report, which earned itself a Daily Vertical OpEd. Kiselyov wins the award for unadulterated hubris.

In Donbass, Russians surprise all by not using any banned heavy weapons yesterday, exactly why is unknown. Good UATV report on Ukrainian effort to beam TV into occupied territories. Good MH17 essay by  Tsymbaliuk.

In Syria, USAF kills another Iranian armed RPV, while Pakistan kills one 59 km inside their airspace. Much debate over escalation in Syria, while the US tries to stabilize the Qatar dispute.

POTUS thanks China for trying to deal with the DPRK and failing. Sanctions proposed to close down DPRK business partners in China. Warmbier tragedy producing a strong reaction, as it should. Activity observed at DPRK nuke test site. DPRK effort to assist in Iranian IRBM development detailed.

Saravalle details Nordstream 2 issues, we note that the EU has long suffered tragedy of the commons problems, exacerbated by simple and tolerated political corruption. Miscellaneous reports on European politics and terrorism. POTUS popularity in AUS appears to mostly reflect excessive exposure to US mainstream MSM.

In the US, DEPSECDEF nominee Pat Shanahan threatened by Sen McCain during confirmation hearing over not having read in on Ukraine. New sanctions stalled on technicality. More on election hacking.

 


Russia / Russophone Reports


Armed Russian jet comes within 5 feet of US recon jet | Fox News An armed Russian fighter jet buzzed a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft in the Baltic Sea on Monday, two U.S. officials told Fox News.

 

Russian fighter comes within feet of Air Force recon plane A Russian fighter flew “within several feet” of an Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea Monday in the latest in a series of alarmingly close encounters between the two militaries.

Russian, U.S. Aircraft Fly Dangerously Close Over Baltic A Russian fighter jet and a U.S. reconnaissance plane flew dangerously close to one another over the Baltic Sea this week. The encounter, which occurred 40 kilometers from Kaliningrad Oblast, wa…

Russian Su-27 warns off NATO F-16 trying to approach defense minister’s plane over Baltic — RT News A NATO F-16 fighter jet has tried to approach the Russian defense minister’s plane above the neutral waters of the Baltic Sea. The plane was warded off by a Russian Su-27 escorting the minister’s aircraft, according to journalists who were on board.

The Aviationist » New Video Shows Close Encounter Between NATO F-16 And Su-27 Flanker Escorting Russian Defense Minister Plane Over The Baltics Zvezda has just released some interesting footage allegedly showing a NATO F-16 approaching Russian Defense Ministry Sergei Shoigu’s plane while flying over the Baltic Sea. According to the first reports and analysis of the footage, the F-16 (most probably a Polish Air Force Block 52+ aircraft supporting the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission from Lithuania – hence, armed) shadowed the Tu-154 aircraft (most probably the aircraft with registration RA-85686) carrying the defense minister en route to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad when one armed Russian Su-27 Flanker escorting Shoigu’s plane maneuvered towards the NATO aircraft, forcing it to move farther. Some minutes later, the F-16 left the area, according to the reports. Similar close encounters occur quite frequently in the Baltic region. We have published many articles in the past about Russian aircraft coming quite close to both NATO fighters in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duty and U.S. spyplanes: indeed, the latest incident comes a day after the Russian defense ministry said an RC-135 U.S. reconnaissance plane had aggressively and dangerously maneuvered in the proximity of a Russian fighter jet over the Baltic. The ministry said at the same time that another RC-135 had been intercepted by a Russian jet in the same area. Business as usual….

Истребитель Су-27 отгоняет F-16 НАТО от самолета Шойгу: эксклюзивные кадры [Su-27 fighter chases NATO F-16 away from Shoigu’s aircraft: exclusive footage] – YouTube Телеканал «Звезда» публикует кадры приближения истребителя НАТО F-16 к самолету Министра обороны РФ Сергей Шойгу над Балтийским морем. На видео видно, как ро…

Russian defense minister’s plane buzzed by NATO jet: agencies | Reuters A plane carrying Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was buzzed by a NATO F-16 fighter jet as it flew over the Baltic Sea, but was seen off by a Russian Sukhoi-27 military jet, Russian news agencies reported on Wednesday.

Russian Military Plane Confronts NATO Aircraft Over Northern Europe: Reports A Russian jet tried to intimidate a NATO jet while attempting to escort the Russian defense minister’s plane in international airspace, state news agencies claim.

NATO Drills Send ‘Strong Message’ in Face of Russian Aggression – YouTube The Iron Wolf 2017 military drill is continuing in Lithuania. Hundreds of NATO troops are taking part in the Lithuania-led exercises aimed at testing one of …

Merle Maigre | Diplomaatia – President Ilves and the Suwalki Gap When talking about security, it is important to use common terms and be on the same page.

Lavrov Accuses U.S. Of ‘Russophobic Mania’ After New Sanctions Imposed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced new sanctions the United States announced on June 20 against 38 people fighting with and backing Ukrainian separatists in eastern Ukraine. &quot;I…

Russia’s Lavrov: new U.S. sanctions ‘regrettable’, ‘Russophobia’ beyond all bounds | Reuters Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday new sanctions imposed against Russian companies and individuals were “regrettable” and that “Russophobia” in the United States was raging “beyond all bounds”.

The Daily Vertical: Not Just A Putin Problem (Transcript) “Krym Nash” was just the beginning. Crimea is not the only place and Ukraine is not the only neighbor where Russia has territorial ambitions. And this is not just a fixation of Vladimir Putin and his cronies, but for large and stable majorities of the Russian population. According to a new poll by the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Russians believe that parts of neighboring countries rightfully belong to Russia. Moreover, some 52 percent back military intervention when the interests of ethnic Russians are threatened. Now, these numbers are not new, they’ve been relatively consistent for awhile now. But they are worth noting nonetheless, because they remind us that more than a quarter of a century after the collapse of the Soviet Union, a large majority of the Russian population is not willing to let go of its dreams of empire. And this has been true even as living standards have risen over the past two decades. These figures are also worth noting because they remind us that even after the Putin regime passes from the scene — as it inevitably will someday — Russia will probably continue to have designs on the territory of its neighbors. They remind us that when a State Duma deputy like Pavel Shperov refers to Russia’s neighbors as “so-called countries” and says that “borders are not eternal,” he’s not just spouting Kremlin talking points, but is speaking to a deeply held belief of a strong majority of Russian citizens. These numbers remind us that Russia’s neighbors don’t just have a Putin problem. After a quarter of a century of independence, they still have a Russia problem.

Russians Support Putin’s Global Leadership | Pew Research Center A majority of Russians say their country has improved its international standing, and many are confident in Putin’s handling of global issues.

Poll: Fewer Russians approve of how Putin deals with U.S. – POLITICO Relations between the U.S. and Russia have devolved over the past few years.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: The Unthinkable has Become Possible in Putin’s Russia Just as in Hitler’s Germany, Morozov Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 19 – In the course of only three years, what was unthinkable for most Russians, even the most thoughtful, has become possible because of the constant repetition of the media. As a result, Russians today accept ideas about Ukraine that they would have dismissed as absurd or impossible only a brief time ago, according to Aleksandr Morozov. What is most important here, he says, is not any moves toward “’re-Stalinization’” but rather the willingness of Russians to go along with such nonsense as the notion that Ukraine “’doesn’t exist,’” that it is ruled by a junta, that Kyiv is destroying itself, and that it has “lost the ability to recognize its incompleteness” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5948119B0A5FF). In 2014, almost every Russian would have denied what today almost every Russian now accepts as “self-evident facts,” the Moscow commentator points out, noting that exactly the same thing happened in Germany in the 1930s when under the impact of Hitler’s propaganda, Germans were transformed into “political anti-Semites” who backed the Holocaust. Eighty years ago, the unthinkable became possible in Hitler’s Germany; now, something equally unthinkable has become a reality in Putin’s Russia, testimony to the power of propaganda and group think and the inability of many to stand up to this wave of hatred and duplicity.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Supporters Defend North Korea for Same Reason They Defend Stalin, Roshchin Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 19 – The reason that the most enthusiastic supporters of Vladimir Putin back the horrific actions of North Korea’s dictator is the same reason why they defend Stalin against any criticism: a deification of the state and a belief that they must support anyone who acts in its name, however brutally and murderously, according to Aleksey Roshchin. As ever more evidence seeps out that the North Korean dictator is acting in a completely arbitrary and violent way toward his subordinates, the Moscow commentator argues, “state-thinking” Russians rush to his defense just as they do to Stalin’s because “’the symbol of their faith’ is the STATE” (ng.ru/blogs/alexroschin/pochemu-rossiya-zashchishchaet-kim-chen-yna-i-emu-podobnykh.php). Unlike anyone around or under it, the state for them is something great and important in and of itself, beyond the usual questions when it acts against “the pygmies” which in their mind is what everyone else is. And they thus gain delight in speaking in support of “’the power of the state,’” which for them “replaces god” and is beyond questions of good and evil. But in their worshipful attitude toward the state, Roshchin says, they fall into a potentially dangerous “contradiction.” On the one hand, they worship the state for its power over everyone and everything and gain a certain satisfaction from that. But on the other, they are aware that the very power of such a state is ultimately a threat to themselves. The state-thinking people do everything they can to ignore this contradiction, the commentator continues; “but it breaks through into consciousness whenever there are examples of senseless cruelty by authoritarian rulers and their satraps be they of the dimes of Stalinism or those of North Korea at the present time.” Put in simplest terms, Roshchin says, the state-thinking Russians are terrified of the actions of the North Korean leader or of Stalin because such actions even as they elicit public support raise the question in their minds: “’If the good state commits such extrajudicial murders for laughable reasons, then why am I a state-thinking individual?’” But they cannot allow themselves to ask that question, he suggests, because if they were to do so, their entire world would collapse. And so they react with complete denial and enthusiastic support of the worst examples of authoritarian leaders: “’This cannot be because it can never be.’ Stalin was good and ‘killed only as needed,’ Kim Jong Il also is good and also kills ‘only as needed.’”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Most Intimate Phobias have Become All Too Real Problems for Russia, Eidman Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 20 – More than most people, Vladimir Putin has made jokes about gays, Igor Eidman says, a reflection of “his unconscious fear” of them and even at a deeper level his “own homosexual fantasies which he simultaneously seeks to exclude but shows with his homophobic jokes.” The Russian commentator for Deutsche Welle earlier discussed in detail the Kremlin leader’s response to a question about how he would react if he found himself in a shower with someone who was gay (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/06/putins-freudian-slip-in-shower.html). Now, after Putin has made more jokes about homosexuality in the interval, Eidman has returned to the subject, arguing that while such “psychological problems” are a personal matter for most, when they involve a dictator as in this case, they “always become problems for his country” as well (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5946C0C8B131A). Putin is “a neurotic,” the Russian commentator says, who all his life has “hidden from those around him his real desires, fears and inclinations. People of that kind are inclined to lies and unmotivated aggression” which in this case “have become the basic policy of the Putin leadership of Russia.” “Precisely the unconscious fears which have a sexual undertone form Putin’s attitude toward the West,” Eidman says. “He as it were is afraid of being raped by it, that is, of being put in a passive, subordinate and denigrated position to militarily and economically stronger Western countries.” “In general,” the commentator continues, Putin “conceives all world politics as a set of sado-masochistic relations where partners (they too are potential sadists and rapists) will always seek” to dominate and thus must be resisted lest they gain the opportunity that in his mind they are always seeking. What this means, Eidman continues, is that “Putin has forever remained a weak youth from a poor family who went into judo in order to defend himself against constant humiliations (and at a subconscious level, possibly also from phobias of homosexual rape, which in Soviet society was a completely real thing for example in the army or the prison).” The Russian commentator says he won’t discuss “the numerous rumors” about Putin’s supposed pedophilia. He doesn’t have any ironclad evidence about such things. “But,” he continues, Putin himself “periodically unconsciously speaks about his major problems in the sexual and psychological sphere.” And “it is becoming ever more difficult to conceal them from society,” Eidman suggests. That is why the Kremlin is doing everything it can to promote the notion of Putin’s “’normality,’” be it in repeated references to his grandchildren or suggestions that he will soon remarry. In this way, the commentator concludes, “the authorities are trying before the elections to fight the intensifying rumors about sexual deviations of Russia’s Patient Number One.”

Putin’s System: Sociologist Igor Eidman on Putin’s Russia – Meydan TV Sociologist Igor Eidman looked into the methods and individuals involved in the administration of the Russian Federation in his new book titled, Sistema Das System Putin. Wohin steuert das neue russische Reich? [Putin’s system. Where is the new “Russian world” being lead?], which has been recently released in Berlin.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia has a Tsar and a People but Not a State, Slosberg Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 21 – Vladimir Putin’s “Direct Line” program again showed that Russia today has a tsar and a people but not a state, Lev Shlosberg says, and that the Kremlin leader “runs Russia like the owner of a business or the president of a corporation would” but not someone in charge of a government. The Yabloko deputy from Pskov says that the latest iteration of this show indicates as well that “nothing is changing in the Russian state because in essence, there is no state,” but only “a president who would like to be an emperor and go down in history” and “a morally crippled zombified population” (gubernia.pskovregion.org/columns/pryamaya-liniya-vladimira-putina-snova-pokazala-strana-zhivet-v-rezhime-plohogo-ru/). There is also, of course, “a thieving and false bureaucracy and a servile press … but there is no state responsible to the people.” There is no independent court system, no freedom of speech, no honest elections, no genuine parliament and “no real politics.” Instead, there are simulacra of all these things. But “there is Putin,” Shlosberg continues, and the pictures of a pseudo-reality that he orders to be disseminated on television. His government was built precisely so everything would depend on his changing fancies and that normal “institutions and mechanism will not work” unless it suits him. In short, and this may be the secret of his attractiveness to the leaders of some other countries, “Putin runs Russia like a business owner.” But at the same time, it is becoming ever more obvious that he is tired of this game and would like to go but that he has created a system in which he does not see any way out for himself. “In a genuine state,” the deputy writes, “rules (laws) work for all” and “freedom (the right to say and do) works for all. And this system runs itself, including by changing those in power at elections.” A president in such a state focuses on defining the general path of development that reflects what the people want as reflected in elections. But “the Russia of Vladimir Putin is a country in which the state has been privatized by the existing powers that be. In the absence of honest elections, temporary people the powers of which should be strictly limited in time feel themselves not simply permanent but sometimes lifetime masters in an alien house.” “The president of Russia in such a system is not the head of a state but the head of a ruling clan. He created this clan for the struggle for personal power and for retaining it, not for displaying any concern about the well-being of the people. The people in such a system is something superfluous” and deserves only to be “zombified.” According to Shlosberg, “Putin’s ‘Direct Line’ has exhausted itself because his system and Putin himself have exhausted themselves.” He is tired “but he doesn’t want and cannot leave because the system of one man hands’ on management will work only for one specific individual,” Vladimir Putin. Putin of course understands that “sooner or later he will have to go.” But he doesn’t know how to arrange this because he doesn’t accept the idea of honest elections and honest competition because by his nature “Putin will never hand over power to the people.” For him, the people is “only a passenger” on a train that he decides where it will go. The Russian people asked some real questions but Putin didn’t and doesn’t have answers, the Pskov deputy says. As a result, his state could collapse “at any moment,” a sharp contrast to a real state which is based on “a pyramid of power” with the people integrated into it. Unfortunately for all, Putin “will never build such a state because he is incapable of that and doesn’t need it.” Only someone different “in all senses of the word” can, “a free man who “needs not subjects but citizens, not slaves but people who have real rights.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Spends More than Twice the Share of Its GDP on Military than the US Does, Beggaring Russia and Prompting Dissent Paul Goble Staunton, June 19 – Vladimir Putin has increased Russia’s defense spending to 7.4 percent of GDP, more than twice the share of such spending by the United States (3.1 percent) and nearly four times the figure for China (1.7 percent), something that has depressed much of the rest of the Russian economy more than sanctions and is now prompting dissent. Those figures, gathered by Radio Liberty analysts, are now becoming a regular feature in Russian commentaries which point out that it is this enhanced military spending has contributed to Russia’s economic decline and the impoverishment of the population(rusmonitor.com/putin-tratit-na-vojjnu-74-vvp-istoshhaya-ehkonomiku-medicinu-i-obrazovanie-smi.html). And now ever more Russians are beginning to protest, arguing that Putin’s spending on the war in Syria, for example, is depriving them of much needed infrastructure and social welfare spending at home. Opposition leader Grigory Yavlinsky points to a petition drive to demand a reordering of Moscow’s priorities (yavlinsky.ru/news/mir/domoi). In commenting upon it, he notes that Moscow has already spent at least 100 billion rubles on its war in Syria, an amount that could build 400 kindergartens, cure 360,000 cancer victims, increase the financing of universities, and boost payments for children’s needs. “One firing of the Kaliber cruise missile costs 85 million rubles,” an amount equal to the average pay of 2500 teachers or 2000 doctors,” Yavlinsky says, and to many other needs of Russians who today cannot make ends meet or get the health care or education that they and the country requires for a better future. “Today,” he continues, “the president and the government do not have the desire or political will for changing things in our country.” Therefore, he is calling “as an economist, a politician and a human being to end the war in Syria, to end Russia’s participation in any military adventures and to return the attention of the state and budget to Russia.” Petitions to that effect which circulated in Omsk, Barnaul, and Pskov in May found enormous support for that idea, Yavlinsky says. Russians overwhelmingly want “the construction of normal roads,” hospitals, schools and libraries to be kept open, and housing to be improved. They are less than completely enthusiastic about sending money abroad. The opposition leader says that he will make this a centerpiece of his campaign for president. “The time has come to act together,” to bring Russia once again “home.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Nearly 1.5 Million Russians Die Prematurely Every Year, Statistics Show Paul Goble Staunton, June 18 – A commentary intended to show that Russia is not in imminent danger of withering away because the number of births among its population are almost as large as the number of deaths unintentionally shows how large the number of those dying prematurely from unnatural causes in fact is and why Russian life expectancy isn’t going up. Svobodnaya pressa commentator Mikhail Sinelnikov-Orishak suggests that media articles suggesting that Russia is “withering away” are “strongly exaggerated,” but then he himself offers a devastating set of official statistics about premature deaths that cast doubt on his own argument (svpressa.ru/blogs/article/174812/). Among the figures he gives for premature deaths every year are the following: · 400,000 deaths from excessive use of tobacco. · 500,000 deaths from excessive use of alcohol. · 180,000 deaths from industrial accidents. · 126,000 deaths from abuse of drugs. · 45,000 murders. · 35,000 deaths from road accidents. · 20,000 deaths from fires. · 50,000 deaths from medical mistakes. · 60,000 suicides. · 15,000 deaths from drowning. · 10,000 deaths from intra-family violence. That results, he says, in a total of “more than 1,440,000” premature deaths from what statisticians call “’unnatural causes.’” In addition, there are some 960,000 deaths each year from heart disease, 300,000 from cancer, up to 80,000 deaths from early childhood diseases and birth defects, as well as more from simple old age. As of now, Sinelnikov-Orishak says, Russian women are giving birth to almost enough children that the decline in the country’s population is gradual but not immediately threatening. However, what he does not say, is that the burden of these premature deaths means that Russia will have an extremely difficult time increasing life expectancies. And that in turn represents an indictment on its socio-political system because Russia today now ranks approximately 100th among the countries of the world on that important measure (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5943783D1D80E).Window on Eurasia — New Series: Thirty Percent of Russians Now Identify as Muslims, New Survey FindsPaul Goble Staunton, June 20 – Thirty percent of Russians now identify as Muslims, according to a new survey by the ZoomMarket marketing agency, just 12 percent fewer than the 42 percent who say they are Orthodox Christians. Some 18 percent say they are atheists, with all other denominations in the single digits. Thus, three percent of Russians say they are Roman Catholics, two percent say they are Protestants or Old Believers, and one percent each identify as Buddhists, Jews, Greek Catholics or Slavic pagans (mazm.ru/article/a-2013.html and znak.com/2017-06-20/42_rossiyan_schitayut_sebya_pravoslavnymi). The most Orthodox places were Samara, where 57 percent said they were Orthodox Christians, Nizhny Novgorod and Perm (53 percent), Novosibirsk (49 percent), St. Petersburg and Krasnoyarsk (43 percent), Voronezh (41 percent). The most Muslim places were Kazan (72 percent), Krasnodar (43 percent), Voronezh (31 percent), Yekaterinburg (29 percent), Krasnoyarsk (28 percent), and Moscow (26 percent). And the most “atheist” were St. Petersburg (26 percent), Voronezh and Yekaterinburg (23 percent), Krasnoyarsk (22 percent), Moscow (21 percent), and Novosibirsk (18 percent). These figures are important for at least three reasons. First, they show just how rapidly Islam is gaining ground in Russia. Second, they cast doubt on the claims of the Kremlin and the Moscow Patriarchate about how “Orthodox” Russia in fact now is. And third, they set the stage for even more changes ahead. One indication of that: a third of all those queried said that they would vote for a religious party if one were available to them.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Century of Russian Revolts against Soviet Power Paul Goble Staunton, June 22 – In 1974, Russian émigré journalist Yuri Srechinsky reacted with horror to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s suggestion in his GULAG Archipelago that non-Russians resisted Soviet power but that ethnic Russians submitted in a pamphlet entitled How We Submitted. The Price of October that deserves to be more widely known. Instead, the Novoye Russkoye Slovo commentator insisted, Russians had resisted just as non-Russians had to Soviet oppression, although their stories are far less well-known because Moscow has done far more to suppress reports about actions by the “state-forming” nation. But Russians, Srechinsky said, should see their resistance as something to build on for the future. Perhaps the émigré historian’s arguments and those of others like him will now attract greater attention thanks to a comprehensive but admittedly incomplete listing of Russian risings against Soviet power that has been assembled by Moscow economist and commentator Andrey Illarionov (echo.msk.ru/blog/aillar/2003620-echo/). What makes his listing of more than 210 risings against Soviet power all the more impressive is the events Illarionov chose to exclude: small, peaceful demonstration that the authorities did not seek to suppress, Civil War events, conflicts among non-Russians (although conflicts between Russians and non-Russians are listed), and resistance in territories Stalin occupied during World War II. As the Moscow economist and commentator says, “the theme of revolts undoubtedly deserves detailed discussion.” But for the moment, he suggests, his list provides six obvious lessons about these popular risings: · First, “there were a lot of them in the USSR: they took place much more often than in previous periods of Russian history, the number of participants was enormous” and this in turn means that this was in effect “a hundred-year-long war in Russia between the anti-human powers and the people.” · Second, certain periods, “the first half of the 1920s, 1928-32, and the 1940s” were “in essence a total war against the communist authorities and the state security agencies which defended it.” · Third, “all the post-October risings were suppressed by the authorities in the harshest manner,” far more harshly than any previous Russian government had done. · Fourth, “the hundred-year-long civil war in Russia and the loss in it of millions and tens of millions” of Russians is a bestial tragedy for our people.” · Fifth, the number of people taking part “to a large degree” depended on whether the population had arms or not.” When it did, there were many participants; when there weren’t, there were fewer. · And sixth, “the success of risings under a totalitarian regime and of course a harshly authoritarian one as well are determined not so much on the field of battle as in the heads of the leaders of the regime against which the rising is directed.” When leaders recognize that suppression is an anachronism and counterproductive, those who have risen have won.

Russia’s Economic Security Strategy Has Become an Internal Critique | Chatham House What was conceived as a response to the West highlights the country’s weaknesses and strategic tensions over how to approach the global economy.

Putin Says Sanctions Are Helping Russia. He Might Be Right. It would be an extremely 2017 miscalculation for liberals to fall in love with sanctions just because Trump opposes them.

Russia defies oil slide and sanctions with bond sale Moscow raises $3bn from 10-year and 30-year debt issue

Russian Exporter Ready to Sell Arms to NATO States If Allowed – Rosoboronexport Russia’s Rosoboronexport intermediary is ready to supply weapons to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states if President Vladimir Putin approves the plan, Rosoboronexport Director General Alexander Mikheev said Wednesday.

Kremlin Says Report Putin Showed Stone Video Of U.S. Forces ‘Nonsense’ The Kremlin says reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin showed filmmaker Oliver Stone footage of a U.S. helicopter shooting Islamic extremists in Afghanistan and told him it was the Russian Ai…

Six children die taking ‘ultimate selfies’ in Russia | Daily Mail Online A ten-year-old girl died alongside two teenagers as they posed in front of an oncoming freight train in Russia, while three more teens were killed in separate incidents involving power lines.


Revealed: Explosive Evidence Of A Russian Assassination On British Soil That The Government Doesn’t Want You To Read When a financier dropped dead in Britain shortly after exposing a vast Russian crime, police said it was not suspicious. But with his inquest now underway, BuzzFeed News has uncovered explosive eviden

 

From Russia With Blood: 14 Suspected Hits On British Soil That The Government Ignored Lavish London mansions. A hand-painted Rolls-Royce. And eight dead friends. For the British fixer Scot Young, working for Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic meant a life of incredible luxury – bu

Scientist Who Helped Connect Litvinenko’s Murder To The Kremlin “Assassinated” In Britain His nuclear research helped a judge determine that former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko had been assassinated – likely on Putin’s orders. Just months after the verdict, the scientist himself was fo

The Death Of The Spy In The Bag Is Linked To Russia By Secret Intelligence Files After the dead body of an MI6 spy was found locked in a sports bag, London police said the death was “probably an accident” – but British and American spy agencies have secret intelligence suggesting

Mark Galeotti | It’s the Russians Wot Done It (Op-ed) The Kremlin is a convenient villain for our troubled times — and that narrative is playing right into Putin’s hands.


IW/IO/Cyber Reports


The Morning Vertical, June 21, 2017 ON MY MIND We should pay very close attention to what Russia does to its neighbors, because it often foreshadows things Moscow will try farther to the West. Andy Greenberg’s piece in Wired (featured below) on how Ukraine became a laboratory to road test the Kremlin’s cyberwar tactics makes this abundantly clear. Before Russian hackers targeted elections in the United States and France, for example, they attempted to disrupt Ukraine’s 2014 election. Before suspected Russian hackers hit a series of Western targets, including a French television station, the Polish stock exchange, and a German steelmaker, they launched a massive DDoS attack on Estonian banks, media, and government sites in 2007. Just before Christmas in 2015, what appears to be a Kremlin-backed cyberattack cut off electricity to nearly a quarter of a million Ukrainians. We should all take that as a warning. And it’s not just cyber. For decades, the Baltic states, Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova have lived with an onslaught of disinformation, fake news, and active measures aimed at destabilizing their societies. And now the West is getting a taste of this bitter medicine. Russia’s neighbors are not just far away countries of which we know little. A threat to their security is often a harbinger of a threat to everybody’s security.

 

How An Entire Nation Became Russia’s Test Lab For Cyberwar – To Inform is to Influence ANDY GREENBERG The clocks read zero when the lights went out. It was a Saturday night last December, and Oleksii Yasinsky was sitting on the couch with his wife and teenage son in the living room of their Kiev apartment. The 40-year-old Ukrainian cybersecurity researcher and his family were an hour into Oliver Stone’s film…

Russia’s Cyberwar on Ukraine Is a Blueprint For What’s to Come | WIRED Blackouts in Ukraine were just a trial run. Russian hackers are learning to sabotage infrastructure—and the US could be next.

War propaganda not covered by freedom of speech: EU Court rejects complaint by Kiselev -Euromaidan Press | The General Court of the EU has rejected an appeal of Dmitry Kiselev, the head of the Kremlin’s state news agency Rossiya Segodnya, to annul EU sanctions against him, a statement of the Court from 15 June 2017 reads. The EU imposed a travel ban and an asset freeze on Kiselev on March 21, 2014. According to the court ruling, Kiselev challenged the repeated extension of the restrictive measures’ application in March 2015, September 2015 and March 2016, and argued that the Council’s decisions were made in violation of law, claiming that they infringe his freedom of expression as a journalist and breach the Partnership Agreement between Russia and the EU. The Court ruled that the imposed restrictive measures were lawful and that the EU’s Russia sanctions do not breach the EU-Russia Partnership Agreement because Russia’s actions in Ukraine fall within the exceptions for “war or serious international tension constituting threat of war” and that they are regarded as obligations the EU has accepted for the “purpose of maintaining peace and international security.” The Court decided that “it may be considered that the actions of the Russian Federation constitute ‘war or serious international tension constituting threat of war’” in Ukraine and that the EU the Council considered that Kiselev, by his management role in Rossiya Segodya and by his statements as a journalist, had “engaged in propaganda supporting the military actions of the Russian Federation in Ukraine and was therefore one of the persons actively supporting actions or policies undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.” The EU Court underlined the significant role that Kiselev’s propaganda played in Russia’s war against Ukraine, stating that although Kiselev himself wasn’t responsible for the actions and policies of the Russian Government, he provided “active support” for the Russian Government’s actions in Ukraine in a form that is significant enough to “contribute to the continuance of” Russia’s “actions and policies destabilising Ukraine.” Regarding Kiselev’s complaint against the limitations of his freedom of expression, the Court replied that the applicant is a central figure of the propaganda actively supporting the Russian Government’s policy in Ukraine, which is substantiated by several pieces of reliable evidence. Namely, the Court took into account the decisions of Latvia and Lithuania to suspend the broadcasting of Vesti Nedeli programs which Kiselev hosted. In particular, Latvia considered that “those programs contained war propaganda justifying the Russian military intervention in Ukraine and comparing defenders of Ukrainian democracy to Nazis, sending the message that, if those defenders of democracy were in power, they would repeat the crimes committed by the Nazis.” Therefore, the Court considered the sanctions the EU Council slapped on Kiselev to be justified and proportionate, as he “had given active support by portraying events in Ukraine in a light favorable to the Russian Government.”

DoD report: Manning’s leaks to cause no harm New report shows Chelsea Manning’s 2009 releases of war documents to Wikileaks to cause less harm to national security than initially believed.


Ukraine Reports


Poroshenko, Tillerson discussed defensive weapon delivery for Ukraine. PHOTO 21.06.17 11:56 – Poroshenko, Tillerson discussed defensive weapon delivery for Ukraine. PHOTO President Petro Poroshenko had a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his working visit to the United States. View photo news.

 

President Poroshenko hands over to U.S. leadership the letters from Ukrainian captives’ relatives – 21.06.2017 10:42 — Ukrinform News 21.06.2017 10:42. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, in the scope of his official visit to the United States, handed over the U.S. leadership the letters from Ukrainian captives imprisoned in the Russian Federation and occupied territories of Ukraine.

Poroshenko awaited in Brussels after his visit to U.S. The Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine reports that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is expected to pay a visit to Brussels after his trip to Washington, U.S.

Canadian defense minister to meet with Ukrainian community today – 21.06.2017 11:13 — Ukrinform News 21.06.2017 11:13. Today, Minister&nbsp;of National&nbsp;Defence&nbsp;of Canada Harjit Sajjan meets with members of the Ukrainian community of Ottawa.

Foreign Ministry condemns militants’ attack on OSCE SMM – 21.06.2017 11:32 — Ukrinform News 21.06.2017 11:32. The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine has condemned the attack of Donetsk People's Republic&nbsp;militants&nbsp;on the observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.

Ukraine considers alternatives to ATO -Euromaidan Press | Discussions are taking place in Ukraine on cancelling ATO (Antiterrorist Operation) and exploring new options for liberating the Donbas. Ivanna Radchenko Discussions are taking place in Ukraine on cancelling ATO (Antiterrorist Operation), forming a new command structure for the Armed Forces and other military formations in the ATO zone, and declaring that portions of the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts are occupied territories. What do we know about the possible future of the Donbas? Discussions on cancelling the ATO (Antiterrorist operation). What has been proposed in the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC). On June 13, NSDC Secretary Alexander Turchynov stated that Ukraine needs to move to a new format for protecting the country from Russia’s hybrid war and that this requires legislative cancellation of ATO. The main provisions of the relevant bill would entail the determination on the legislative level of a complex of military and diplomatic steps designed to ensure the liberation of the occupied territories.

Ukraine ramps up fight against Russia’s hybrid war -Euromaidan Press | Russia’s information warfare against Ukraine goes back years before the 2014 Euromaidan revolution. But the country has only begun to take the threat seriously in the past few years. According to experts, combating the Kremlin’s hybrid war will take serious reforms. Hybrid war has been a buzzword surrounding Ukraine for more than three years. But the country has dealt with its effects for longer than that. YULIIA LAPUTINA, DEPUTY CHIEF OF CYBER DEFENCE AT THE SBU In 2007 a fund was created by Russian presidential decree. It was founded by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Science and Education. The source of financing was the state budget of Russia. From 2008 to 2012, the foundation established more than 10 Russian centers in Ukraine. Their locations are telling: Sevastopol, Simferopol, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Odesa. Their leaders were anti-Ukrainian citizens. Officials from Ukraine’s Security Service, also known as the SBU, say that people connected to Russia’s hybrid war often go unpunished. DMYTRO TYMCHUK, MEMBER OF UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT And then the question arises in the interested public: “Why are these comrades not in prison? Everyone remembers how he ran around with the Russian flag, shouting “Putin, send troops!” Law enforcement officers and intelligence services worked on these cases, but when it came to courts, judges made very strange and interesting decisions.

Ukraine to Boost TV Coverage Over Occupied Donbas – YouTube Want to know one way Ukraine can combat Russia’s hybrid war? By countering Kremlin disinformation campaigns with truth. At least, that’s what officials in Kyiv have been saying. Our correspondent has more.

Militants launched 36 attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas in last day – 21.06.2017 10:15 — Ukrinform News 21.06.2017 10:15. Militants launched 36 attacks on positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in ATO area in Donbas over the past day.

Ministry of Defense: An uncommon day in Donetsk sector | UACRISIS.ORG Kyiv, June 20, 2017. “The enemy did not use heavy weapons in Donetsk sector yesterday for the first time in long months of confrontation,” said Col. Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, Ukrainian Ministry of Defense spokesman on ATO, at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. Militants violated the ceasefire nine times in Donetsk sector, using mostly small arms, and rarely grenade launchers. The enemy was the most active near Avdiivka. Russian proxies attacked once in Novoluhanske and once in Zaitseve yesterday. “The enemy sniper was spotted at Novoluhanske, in particular,” added Col. Motuzyanyk. “In Luhansk sector, the hottest spot has been Krymske recently. Russia-backed troops fired over 60 mortar rounds at Ukrainian positions there, mostly in the daytime,” said Col. Motuzyanyk. Militants violated the ceasefire multiple times using small arms in Popasna district, near Shchastia, and in Stanytsia Luhanska. A total of 15 ceasefire violations were recorded in Luhansk sector yesterday, four of them involved mortars. In Mariupol sector, Russian proxies attacked 19 times, using heavy weapons only once in a brief mortar attack at Pavlopil. The Pavlopil-Shyrokyne frontline remained a usual hotspot. Militants also conducted armed provocations in Maryinka and near Dokuchaievsk. According to intelligence reports, last week (June 12-18) the confirmed losses of the enemy were 16 KIA and 39 WIA. No Ukrainian serviceman was killed in action yesterday, but four were wounded.

25 crime figures curated by Russia were detained in Melitopol, – Interior Minister Avakov 21.06.17 10:51 – 25 crime figures curated by Russia were detained in Melitopol, – Interior Minister Avakov The detainees are suspected of destabilization the situation in the city and other crimes. View news.

The War No One Notices in Ukraine – The New York Times While Russia continues to support separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, the Trump administration has done nothing to end the fighting.

Activist Flees Crimea Fearing For Safety Ukrainian activist Natalya Kharchenko says she has fled the Russian-annexed Ukrainian region of Crimea, fearing for her safety. Kharchenko told the Crimean Human Rights Group on June 21 that sh…

Suspects in attempt on Herashchenko facing life imprisonment, – SBU 21.06.17 16:43 – Suspects in attempt on Herashchenko facing life imprisonment, – SBU The Security Service of Ukraine has finished pretrial investigation into the criminal case of the attempt on MP Anton Herashchenko over his public activities. View news.

Poltorak: 1,000 reserve officers to serve in Donbas under contract Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak says Ukraine has completed the military conscription of reserve officers, and only those servicemen who sign a contract will go to the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) zone, according to an UNIAN correspondent. News 21 June from UNIAN.

Roman Tsymbaliuk | MH17: Mirror of Russian Terror – World news | UNIAN Russia has long ceased to conceal its participation in the conflict in and de facto occupation of Donbas. On the one hand, the old song is still being sung at the official level about “civil war” or “internal conflict”, but it’s all quite different with public moves and statements. One day it’s Vladimir Putin saying “we are compelled to protect” the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine, then it’s the Russian military authorities blocking access of Ukrainian inspectors to military facilities in Rostov region, from where the weapons and military equipment are supplied to Russian militants, that is, the Russian military disguised as such. This is all being spiced up with hysteria on Russian TV, where State Duma deputies and other officials who could hardly be called decision makers root for the occupied Donbas, calling the captured territories “historically Russian” land. For Russian citizens, the fact of Moscow’s control over parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions is anything but a secret, but the dodgiest ones stick to a traditional argument “Donbas is ours! Go try and prove otherwise…” There is nothing to prove here though. This is what the Russian leadership has successfully been doing anyway. The Russian president publicly speculates over the topic of when the time will come when “Russia takes Donbas” and analyzes the situation in order to “make a timely decision.” In the flow of such statements, there is a point that will make the international community not only look closely at the aggressor state but also consider bringing it to justice. Recently a documentary by Oliver Stone premiered in the U.S. – a series of interviews with Vladimir Putin. Conversations were recorded at different periods of time, but one of them, dated July 2015, is definitely worth attention. That was one year after the downing of the Malaysian Airlines passenger liner flight MH17. Stone asks Putin about the MH17 crash. The Russian president traditionally blames the U.S. for all sins possible, claiming Washington doesn’t intend to disclose its intelligence data about the deadly attack, since the Kremlin “understands their position in Ukraine.” “All of them wanted to blame the Donbas militia and, indirectly, Russia, which supports the militia,” Putin admitted back in 2015. He immediately adds that this would not have happened, “had the Ukrainian leadership listened to us and not started full-scale military operations.” Putin doesn’t lack logic. Really, Ukrainians (“one people with Russia as Moscow claims”) didn’t wish to meet with flowers those incoming Russian tanks. He reproaches Ukraine that it has been proving with fire and sword (not without some success) to itself and the whole world its right to its own place under the sun. However, a year later, in September 2016, a Joint Investigation Team found that the plane was shot down by a missile shot from a Russian Buk launcher brought to the militant-occupied territory of Donbas from Russia. Investigators do not specify the owner of the deadly Buk. But, no matter how many fairytales for the media are written about “volunteer soldiers on vacation,” it is unlikely that it will come to mind of anyone even in Russia to justify the existence of “privately-owned” Russian anti-aircraft missile systems. Who could that be other than the Russian defense ministry who owns the Buk missile launcher, which shot down MH17? Russian army is led by the supreme commander-in-chief. As Putin himself said a few years ago, while answering the UNIAN correspondent’s question, the Russian president and the supreme commander-in-chief “is one person”, who is responsible for the fate of Russian troops. In fact, the MH17 tragedy has become a mirror of Russian aggression. And while a detailed investigation has been carried out in relation to the deadly Buk launcher and every point of its movement has been registered, it is almost impossible to carry out such a detailed analysis regarding hundreds of tanks and other military equipment deployed from Russia. In any case, the tracks will lead first to the seized parts of Ukrainian-Russian border and then to some specific military unit or a warehouse of the Russian Defense Ministry. Moscow understands perfectly that it’s ever too close to being driven into the corner by unquestionable evidence. This is what’s they are getting prepared for. It is no accident that Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matvienko, who is the third high-ranking official in the Russian hierarchy, called the initiative to create an International MH17 Tribunal (298 people died!!!) “interference” in Russia’s internal affairs. Russia’s massive propaganda machine will continue to deny everything vigorously, while the country’s leader will be mocking everyone from behind the Kremlin wall and wave his nuclear club. The civilized world will have to make great effort to bring to justice those responsible for this act of terror. It is useless to fight terrorism alongside a terrorist. Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow.

President Poroshenko: Ukraine may start buying American coal – 21.06.2017 10:35 — Ukrinform News 21.06.2017 10:35.President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, in the scope of his official visit to the United States, discussed with the U.S. leadership opportunities to enhance the cooperation in the energy sector, particularly possible coal supplies from the state of Pennsylvania to Ukraine. President Poroshenko stated this on Tuesday following a meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, an Ukrinform correspondent reports. “We continued [to discuss] with Vice President Pence and President Trump our cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, cooperation in the oil and gas sector, the purchase of American coal from Pennsylvania, our cooperation on renewable energy sources and the support of Unites States for reforms in all sectors, including the energy one,” President Poroshenko noted. He also added that before the meeting in the White House, he discussed these issues with U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

Ukraine-Saudi alliance presents new Antonov cargo plane at Paris Air Show This year’s Paris Air Show saw the debut of the Antonov 132, a light multipurpose transport aircraft that makers Ukraine and Saudi Arabia hope will capture new markets because of its low operating costs.

World Bank approves plan of cooperation with Ukraine for 2017-2021 – 21.06.2017 12:00 — Ukrinform News 21.06.2017 12:00. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko held a meeting with President of the World Bank Jim Yong Kim.

Roshen shuts down operations in Russia Roshen’s Lipetsk confectionery factory, warehouse for finished products and LLC Roshen trading housing have completely shut down their operations in Russia, the Ukrainian confectionery company said on its website.

From Donetsk to Kyiv: Welcome to Izolyatsia Cultural Platform – YouTube Ukraine’s art scene is booming, and the Izolyatsia cultural platform is the best symbol of these changes. Our correspondent Alexander Query was there for the…


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


U.S. Shoots Down Armed, Iranian-Made Drone Over Syria Amid Russian Protests The U.S. military says it has shot down an armed, Iranian-made drone that was bearing down on its forces near a garrison in Syria's southeast. The Pentagon said a U.S. F-15 aircraft flying ove…

 

Iran Has Drone Base Near U.S. Troops in Syria – NBC News Two officials said Iran has established the base, but could not confirm it was the source of drones that have recently attacked U.S. and coalition troops.

Escalation in Syria was almost inevitable (opinion) – CNN.com Gayle Lemmon: This is a moment that was nearly inevitable, as the US has charged the military with pursuing a series of on-the-ground tactics to defeat ISIS without an overarching US policy for Syria.

Syria troops position themselves at heart of war on IS – The Washington Post Syrian government troops and their allies have steadily positioned themselves in key areas on the flanks of the U.S.-led coalition battle for the Islamic State’s self-declared capital of Raqqa.

The US and Russia may be getting closer to a military confrontation – Vox They’re not playing nice in Syria.

Is Russia Ready to Fire at U.S. Military Jets in Syria? Russia made threats to retaliate in several ways after the U.S. Navy shot down a Syrian regime aircraft Monday.

Gen. Keane: Russia’s Threat About Targeting US Jets in Syria Is Just ‘Bluster’ | Fox News Insider Russia warned members of the U.S.-led coalition that all of its aircraft, including drones, are now “targets” if they operate west of the Euphrates River in Syria.

The Aviationist » U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet Downs Syrian Su-22 Near Raqqa, Syria. And Here Is Everything We Know. A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet from Carrier Air Wing 8 on board the USS George Bush shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 ground attack aircraft near Raqqa, Syria after the aircraft struck ground troops in Ja-Din, south of Tabqah, near Raqqa. According to most sources it is the first time a U.S. combat aircraft has shot down a manned enemy aircraft in aerial combat in nine years. The pro-Assad regime Syrian Su-22 that was downed had attacked Syrian Democratic Forces aligned with the U.S. led coalition and inflicted casualties on the friendly forces as they were driving south of Tabqah before it was intercepted. The action began at approximately 4:30 PM local time on Sunday, Jun. 18 when Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launched a ground attack on anti-regime Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) aligned with the U.S. led Coalition and inflicted casualties on the anti-Assad fighters. Coalition combat aircraft immediately conducted a low-altitude “show of force” pass on the pro-Assad attackers and were successful in de-conflicting the two sides and halting the advance of pro-Assad forces on Coalition-friendly SDF positions. As a result of the contact unspecified Coalition assets utilized a secure communication “de-confliction line” to contact Russian assets with communications to both sides in an effort to compel a cease-fire for both sides. The Russian attempt at de-confliction failed at 6:43 PM local time when a pro-Assad Syrian Air Force Su-22 ground attack aircraft appeared on scene and bombed Coalition-friendly SDF positions. The attacking Syrian Su-22 was “Immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet” according to an official statement issued by the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. Navy F/A-18E was launched from the aircraft carrier USS George Bush (CVN-77) as it maintains patrol in the Mediterranean in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Senators want Congress to OK military action in Syria | Reuters U.S. senators called on Congress on Tuesday to take back its authority to determine whether the country goes to war, saying recent U.S. strikes in Syria were not covered by existing authorizations for the use of military force.

Donald Trump Risks Quagmire and Catastrophe in Syria – The Atlantic His interventionism is a betrayal of all who supported him due to his claim that the U.S. “gets nothing” from the conflict and should “stay out.”

Pentagon confirms death of ISIS leader in Syria | TheHill

JF-17 fighter jet of Pakistan Air Force shoots down Iran-made spy drone | Defence Blog Pakistan Air Force shot down an Iranian spy drone flying in Panjgur airspace. The incident is first of its kind in the history of two Islamic countries, which share a 900-km-long porous border. A JF-17 fighter jet shot down a spy drone belonging to the Iranian regime. Pakistan Defence, a military analysis group, reported, “Air Force JF-17 Thunder fighter intercepted an armed Government of Iran drone 49km inside Pakistan & shot it down for showing hostile intent.” Security forces took custody of the debris after discovering the wreckage, but it is still unclear when the drone was shot down.

US ‘mystified’ over Gulf states’ position towards Qatar | USA News | Al Jazeera Claimed grievances against Qatar are still not listed, prompting ‘more doubts’ about reasons behind Gulf rift, US says.

US State Department questions Gulf motives on Qatar boycott The US State Department questioned the motives of Saudi Arabia and the UAE for their boycott of Doha, saying it was “mystified” the Gulf had not released their grievances over Qatar.

Qatar says it will not negotiate unless neighbors lift ‘blockade’ | Reuters Qatar will not negotiate with its neighbors to resolve the Gulf dispute unless they first lift the trade and travel boycott they imposed two weeks ago, its foreign minister said, but added Doha still believed a solution was possible.

Qatar Rift Risks Raising Cost for Gulf Debt Issuers and Slowing Saudi Reforms – The New York Times Qatar’s rift with its Arab neighbours is threatening to puncture investor appetite for the Gulf region as a whole, translating into potentially higher debt costs for governments and possibly slowing the pace of Saudi Arabia’s economic reforms.

Qatar: QNA hacking linked to countries boycotting Doha | Qatar News | Al Jazeera Attorney general says evidence shows cyberattack on state-run news agency is linked to states that cut ties with Qatar.

64 Years Later, CIA Finally Releases Details of Iranian Coup | Foreign Policy New documents reveal how the CIA attempted to call off the failing coup — only to be salvaged at the last minute by an insubordinate spy.


DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports


Donald J. Trump on Twitter: “While I greatly appreciate the efforts of President Xi & China to help with North Korea, it has not worked out. At least I know China tried!”

 

Trump: China’s pressure on North Korea hasn’t worked | PBS NewsHour His tweet comes a day after learning that Otto Warmbier, an American student who was returned from North Korea to the U.S. in a coma last week, had died.

Donald Trump says China’s efforts to rein in North Korea have ‘not worked’ President Donald Trump said efforts by China to rein in North Korea have &quot;not worked,&quot; signaling he may take a more aggressive approach to counter the hermit kingdom and its nuclear ambitions.

China Falls Short on Curbing North Korea, Trump Says – The New York Times The president’s statement was an extraordinary admission of failure of his strategy for dealing with the North, leaving him with unpalatable options.

U.S. Sanctions Against China Could Target Secret North Korea Business Ties Ahead of a critical meeting with China, the U.S. said it would consider implementing sanctions against China if Beijing did not address North Korea.

Rep: Pass Sanctions Bill To Choke Off North Korean Currency | The Daily Caller ‘I’ve been pushing it’

North Korea’s illicit revenue streams: The secrets behind Kim Jong Un’s personal piggy bank – CNNPolitics.com   When the world’s most mysterious leader arrives for a parade, he steps out of a black Mercedes Benz and onto a red carpet.

How To Deal With North Korea? Some Options Are Worse Than Others : NPR Rachel Martin talks to Mark Bowden, national correspondent for The Atlantic, about how to deal with the nuclear threat from North Korea. Bowden says the U.S. has four broad strategic options.

Trump: American student’s death a ‘total disgrace’ | TheHill  Trump’s comments appeared to echo criticism of President Obama’s administration from the family of Otto Warmbier.

Otto Warmbier’s death prompts US to weigh options vs. North Korea | Fox News A growing chorus of U.S. lawmakers are declaring the death of American college student Otto Warmbier just days after he was released from a North Korean prison murder, and all eyes are on the White House as the Trump administration weighs possible responses.

North Korea & Otto Warmbier — Brutal Murder Deserves U.S. Response | National Review In a previous era, the death of Otto Warmbier, a 22-year-old American student, at the hands of the regime in North Korea likely would have been considered an act of war. On January 2, 2016, Warmbier was detained by regime officials, allegedly for attempting to steal a propaganda poster. Convicted of a “hostile act” against the state, he was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Upon his release into U.S. custody last week, regime officials said that he had been in a coma for nearly 15 months, and blamed a case of botulism. In reality, Warmbier was almost certainly tortured to death by the regime. What happened to Otto Warmbier is what has been happening to North Korean citizens for more than 70 years, since Kim Il-sung transformed the new country into what it is today: a hermetically sealed prison state operated by a hereditary dictatorship that some scholars estimate has murdered around 1.5 million people in its network of concentration camps. Those not executed by the regime have fared little better: The country is beset by malnourishment and starvation (a famine in the mid 1990s killed half a million people); its GDP per capita is somewhere south of $1,000, putting North Korea behind Rwanda, Haiti, and Sierra Leone globally; and its shoddy infrastructure causes fires that can be seen from space.

North Korea Would Not Hesitate to Kill You | Foreign Policy The scariest thing about the death of Otto Warmbier is that the Kim regime doesn’t feel even an ounce of remorse.

North Korea’s Nuclear Tunnels See Activity, Trump Says Chinese Pressure Failed | International Business TimesU.S. efforts to urge China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear activities seem to have failed even as the relationship between the U.S. and Korea is rapidly souring.

US detects new activity at North Korean nuclear test site: report | TheHill

North Korea helping Iran grow its ballistic missile program, details revealed in report | Fox News An Iranian opposition group has found 12 sites, not previously disclosed, where the Islamic government is developing ballistic missiles with the help of North Korean experts.

North Korea helps Iran accelerate ballistic missile buildup, testing – Washington Times Iran has increased production and testing of ballistic missiles since the 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. while playing permanent host to scientists from North Korea, which has the know-how to build and launch atomic weapons, a leading Iranian opposition group said Tuesday.

North Korean drone a ‘grave provocation’ of war armistice, says South Korea A North Korean drone that crashed near the Demilitarized Zone border is a “grave provocation” that violated the Korean War truce, says the South.

U.S. dispatches supersonic bombers in show of force against North Korea – LA Times The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday in a show of force against North Korea.

When it comes to North Korea, the best offense is a good defense – Baltimore Sun When it comes to North Korea, the best offense is a good defense

What can the U.S. possibly do about North Korea? “We are talking about a potential exchange of weapons that could kill millions of people. Millions.”

Japan to test missile defense system following North Korea launches | TheHill

Why the West treats China with kid gloves – POLITICO When Beijing put Spain ‘in the fridge,’ and other lessons on China’s tough tactics in response to challenges to its human rights record.


Foreign Policy Reports


Edoardo Saravalle | Russia’s pipeline power Washington is focused on Russia’s political interference but Moscow’s campaign against the U.S. extends beyond the ballot box.

Abortive Brussels attack could have been much worse: PM | Reuters A suitcase bomb packed with nails and gas bottles could have caused heavy casualties, Belgium’s prime minister said on Wednesday, a day after a soldier shot dead a Moroccan national attempting an attack on Brussels’ Central Station.

Brussels explosion: Station attack suspect was Moroccan – CNN.com A man who detonated a suitcase at Brussels Central Station in a failed terror attack has been identified as a Moroccan national in his 30s, Belgium Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt said Wednesday.

The lessons of a terrorist attack at a London mosque IT COULD have been London Bridge, Westminster, Berlin or Nice. A man in a van, mowing down pedestrians, spewing hate: the ritual is sadly familiar. But this time the victims were Muslims, worshippers who had been at prayer after breaking their Ramadan fast.

Muslims ‘absolutely’ the group most victimized by global terrorism, researchers say – KTSA (NEW YORK) — This week’s terrorist attack targeting people leaving a London mosque after Ramadan prayers is part of a wider phenomenon, in which Muslims are the most affected by terrorism around the world, researchers told ABC News. While attacks by Muslims against non-Muslims in Europe have dominated headlines recently, researchers from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), a research and education center at the University of Maryland, believe that Muslims are in fact the most likely victims of terrorism worldwide. Attacks target Muslims in the Middle East and beyond START Executive Director William Braniff and his team studied the causes and human consequences of terrorism, compiling details about attacks like the one that took place in London on Monday. What they found is that — although they did not always have information about the religious beliefs of the victims — Muslims were the most affected overall. “In the Middle East, Muslims are the most likely victims of both terrorism and counterterrorism efforts,” Braniff told ABC News. His point of view may come as a surprise to Westerners who think about terrorism only as high-profile attacks carried out in the U.S. and Europe, such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year. But when he and his team looked at terrorism more comprehensively, including regions like the Middle East and Africa, it became clear that Muslims are most frequently targeted, he said.

Britain’s May promises to listen harder on Brexit: Queen’s Speech | Reuters Prime Minister Theresa May promised on Wednesday to listen more closely to businesses’ concerns about Britain leaving the European Union as she set out a Brexit-focused government program, pared-back to reflect her weakened authority.

France’s Macron faces balancing act after losing MoDem allies | Reuters President Emmanuel Macron’s allies from the under-fire MoDem party quit the government, complicating what had been billed as a routine ministerial reshuffle days after his party emphatically won parliamentary elections.

Romanian Premier Ousted by His Own Party in Confidence Vote – Bloomberg Romania’s governing coalition toppled its own prime minister after he clashed with the leader of the ruling party, paving the way for a new cabinet just six months after elections.

Romanian PM ousted in MPs revolt – BBC News Romanian PM Sorin Grindeanu is forced out of power in a vote of no confidence by his own party.

Australians shy away from Trump but strongly embrace the alliance: Lowy poll Only 20% trust the US ‘a great deal’ to act responsibly. This is a big fall from the 40% level in 2011, when the question was last asked.

Australians May Not Like Trump, But They Value the U.S. – Bloomberg Australians may not like Donald Trump but they still value strong relations with the U.S., amid mounting perceptions that China poses a military threat, according to a poll released Wednesday.

America’s Staunchest Ally Likes Uncle Sam, Dislikes Donald Trump – WSJ Most Australians harbor a broad dislike for U.S. President Donald Trump and see China as an economic blessing rather than a threat, according to a survey, despite concerns about espionage and political meddling by Beijing.


US Domestic Policy Reports


John McCain threatens to block Trump’s deputy defense secretary nominee over Ukraine Sen. John McCain on Tuesday threatened to block President Trump’s deputy defense secretary nominee during a tense exchange over providing weapons to Ukraine. McCain took issue with Boeing executive Pat Shanahan’s written response to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he would need to take a look at equipping Ukrainian allies with lethal arms, something McCain has long advocated. The chairman hammered Shanahan with pointed questions over his time at Boeing and whether he did his homework on the Ukraine question during the opening minutes of what was expected to be a smooth confirmation hearing. “Have you not been aware of the issue? You’re not aware of the actions of the Senate Armed Services cCommittee? Have you not been aware of the thousands of people who have been killed by Vladimir Putin? Have you missed all that in your duties at one of the major defense corporations in this country?” Shanahan, a vice president who helped improve Boeing’s troubled 787 Dreamliner program, changed his earlier submitted answer under McCain’s withering questioning. “I support equipping the Ukrainians,” he told the Arizona Republican. McCain continued with the line of questioning, still not satisfied. “Not a good beginning, not a good beginning,” McCain said. “Do not do that again, Mr. Shanahan, or I will not take your name up for a vote before this committee. Am I perfectly clear?” Shanahan responded by simply saying “very clear.” The hearing continued on a rocky footing with McCain later claiming Shanahan was ducking questions from senators. Shanahan would help fill a key position under Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the Pentagon if he is confirmed. But he must first pass a vote in the Armed Services Committee, then his nomination would be taken up for a final vote on the Senate floor.

House Republicans block Russia sanctions bill | TheHill A bill that slaps new sanctions on Russia, and passed the Senate almost unanimously, has hit a major stumbling block in the House. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said the legislation has been flagged by the House parliamentarian as a “blue slip” violation, referring to the constitutional requirement that revenue bills originate in the House. “The House obviously will act to preserve the Constitution. Or the Senate can take the bill back, make the updates to it, and bring it back and move forward from that direction,” Brady told reporters on Tuesday. ADVERTISEMENT The development marks a major setback after the Senate overwhelmingly passed the legislation, which also includes new sanctions against Iran, last week in a 98-2 vote. Brady, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, pushed back against suggestions that House GOP leadership is trying to delay the bill, stressing that he thought the Senate legislation was “sound policy.”

New sanctions on Russia and Iran hit House roadblock – The Washington Post Fixing the issue might not be a simple matter, with unanimous consent required to expedite any Senate legislation and Republicans preparing to bring complex health-care legislation to the Senate floor.

U.S. Official: Russian Hackers Targeted Election Systems In 21 States WASHINGTON – A U.S. official says Russian government-linked hackers targeted election systems in at least 21 U.S. states during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.&nbsp; Jeanette Manfra…

The Trump Administration Has A New Plan For Dealing With Russia A classified document by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson lays out a new path for Russia and the US. But does the president, weighed down by scandal and investigation, support it?

Warner calls for full, public disclosure on election hacking – Fifth Domain | Cyber Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, wrote a letter addressed to Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly, urging a full and public disclosure on the foreign attempts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Warner wrote that, despite his limited knowledge of the evidence pertaining to the manipulation of the 2016 election, he is aware that “DHS and the FBI have confirmed two intrusions into voter registration databases in Arizona and Illinois by foreign-based hackers, though no data was modified or deleted,” while other suspicious activity was found aimed at more states’ election data bases. “We are not made safer by keeping the scope and breadth of these attacks secret,” Warner wrote, underscoring his deep concern. He continued, saying that the attempted cyberattack on the 2016 elections gives a clear indication of the Russian government’s intentions to undermine America’s confidence in the democratic government.

The Daily 202: Democrats despondent, Trump emboldened after GOP victory in Georgia special election – The Washington Post Nancy Pelosi was a real drag on Jon Ossoff and other takeaways from last night’s results in Atlanta.

After four special-election losses, Democrats need more than moral victories – LA Times Democrats have lost four special congressional elections and face an uphill fight to regain the House majority in 2018.

 

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