Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 27 June 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

On the murder of Colonel GU Intelligence Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Maxim Shapoval, the Russian comments are already hateful on LiveLeak.

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NATO Gen Pavel warns about the Russian buildup against NATO. Ballistic and cruise missile risks finally being elevated in the debate, after a decade of complacency. Agency vets warn on Russian duplicity, citing a long list of deceitful engagements by the Russians since the fall of the Evil Empire – the proverb about “a leopard changing its spots, but not its appetite” comes to mind.

Russia’s ongoing meltdown continues, with reports ranging from the disturbing, to the grotesque and even the absurd. The bizarre: Russians trying to suppress historical evidence of WW2 Russian collaboration with Nazis and desertions, poll on the greatest man in history won decisively by Stalin in the opinion of the Russian public, Russian media propagating fake news claims that the US is plotting to dismember Russia (aside from loose nukes, a 21st century Morgenthau Plan for Russia would be an easy sale in former Soviet republics), Putin brutally chops military pensions and benefits that explains Zolotov’s Waffen-SS-ski NatGuard force, Putin regime aims to shut down encrypted messaging aps, and sever contacts between diaspora and Russian relations, more on shipbuilding collapse, and bizarre history report on Stalin propagating.

Much happening in Cyber/IO/IW, multiple essays courtesy of Harding. Oxford report on social media bots is notable, as are several others.

Multiple threads in Ukraine, aside from ceasefire breaches by Russia. Poroshenko debriefs the public on US visit – his comments on SECDEF Mattis and Pentagon are notable. Poroshenko visits Macron, and they both to spite the Russians laud Queen Anne of Kyiv, and state their mutual national ties go back to the 1051AD (predating the founding of Muscovy, and the Battle of Hastings for us “Anglophones). Sigmar Gabriel despairs over the difficulty in dealing with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but then reserving Gazprom board seats for retired SDP politicians will always be a challenge if they cross Putin. Prof Karber in Kyiv briefs MSM on the Russian buildup and reiterates his past praise for Ukraine’s military accomplishment. In Kyiv, the Russians assassinate GUR Colonel Maksym Shapoval, widely renowned for intelligence collection that was decisive in the Hague complaint against Russia, making him a high value target – killed with a bomb in his SUV (third successful car bomb murder by Russian agents). AFU may reactivate the Bolhrad airbase, in Bessarabia, close the the Moldovan border, further complicating Russian ops in Moldova and Transnistria – former garrison of the Soviet 98th Guards Division VDV  ( Language debate continues – aside from ~20% ethnic non-Ukrainians, only 10% think Russian should be accepted as a second official language.

US warns Assad over another CW attack, Iran and Russia lambast the US – Amb Haley is right, Russian and Iran OWN every victim of every Syrian CW attack now. SECSTATE advocates regime change in Iran, political Left in the US gets upset (this nullifies the grandiose accomplishment of the dubious Iran deal). More ISIS atrocities against non-Muslim Yazidis reported.

Good essay by Kazianis on China vs. DPRK – the Chinese have been paralytic on DPRK problems for at least a decade. Warmbier victim blamer fired. China stiffs the Russians on the Silk Road deal – most operators will bypass the Russian segment to save costs.  Liu Xiaobo ill with terminal cancer. WSJ reports on Chinese video surveillance using face recognition robots. Mongolian election arguments around reducing Chinese influence.

WashPost essay on Europeans fighting against Russian meddling has a poor headline, that should exclude Germany, France, UK and indeed most of Western Europe who only now seem to be accepting what Eastern Europe has said for a decade now.

US domestic debate continues.

Russia / Russophone Reports

NATO’s senior military officer: Russia threat growing on all fronts – POLITICO General Petr Pavel said Russia’s increasing military presence was clear, even if its intentions were not.

Pentagon: missile advances threaten to leave West defenceless | World | The Times & The Sunday Times The West is under threat from “dramatic” advances in missile technology by hostile powers, allowing them to overcome defence systems even without the use of nuc

Why CIA Vets Say Putin Hates America—And Why President Trump Can’t Trust Him – To Inform is to Influence The White House wants to warm up to Moscow, eventually. But CIA veterans say we tried that. By Kimberly Dozier 06.25.17 12:00 AM ET SEA ISLAND, Georgia — The Russian intelligence officers picked up the American spies from Moscow’s Metropole Hotel and drove them a few short blocks to an ornate, lushly appointed guest house.…

How Moscow’s Spies Keep Duping America—Over and Over Again The White House wants to warm up to Moscow, eventually. But CIA veterans say we tried that.

Putin admits he once ran an international spy network | New York Post Vladimir Putin has finally admitted to being a spymaster. The Russian president confessed to running an “illegal” spy network abroad while he…

The Daily Vertical: Dr. Evil? More Like Mini-Me (Transcript) So Vladimir Putin is at it again, playing his favorite role as a Bond villain. In a recent interview with Russian state television, the Kremlin leader boasted that back in his KGB days he ran an international network of “illegals” — spies who work abroad without official diplomatic cover. Putin then proceeded to troll the West by sending out a message to all those illegals working abroad for Russia right now, saying: “I wish them happiness and prosperity. I am sure they will hear my words.” WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical Part of this, of course, is for domestic consumption. With elections less than a year away, the Kremlin’s spinmeisters are busy trying to make Putin look as badass as possible. It’s basically the functional equivalent of yet another shot of him shirtless on horseback. But by taunting the West at a time when Russia is being accused of interfering in foreign elections and running influence operations abroad, by making himself look as menacing as possible, Putin is also beefing up his international brand as a global bad guy. But this posing and this preening actually betrays a fundamental weakness. Russia has no soft power to speak of. It has no moral authority. It doesn’t have a political model that anybody wants to emulate. It doesn’t have an ideology or a set of values that inspire. So it has to find substitutes. And one of these is brand Putin — the global rogue and villain. But after 17 years, Putin’s Dr. Evil act is wearing a bit thin.

Putin-Era Taboo: Telling Why Some Soviets Aided Nazis – The New York Times A former Soviet factory director operates a museum dedicated to the history of “anti-Bolshevik resistance.” It has enraged the authorities.

Levada Center: Joseph Stalin Considered Greatest Person of All Time in Russia – YouTube A new poll released by the Levada Center, a sociological research organization, has revealed Russian’s preferences for who they consider to have been the gre…

Stalin tops Putin in Russian poll of greatest historical figures – To Inform is to Influence There is something terribly wrong with Russia and Russians. </end editorial> Russians have picked Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin as the greatest figure in history, a new poll said Monday, beating President Vladimir Putin into joint second alongside poet Alexander Pushkin. In the poll conducted in April by the Levada Centre independent pollster, Russians were asked…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Media Report that West Wants to Dismember Russia Dismissed by Russian Experts Paul Goble Staunton, June 26 – On Saturday, a Russian television program featured a claim by an unnamed Russian intelligence officer that NATO viewed the destruction of the USSR as “only the first step” and then planned “to create a Middle Volga Republic” in order to reduce “all of Russia to the size and power of the Muscovite principality” of medieval times. The unnamed “illegal” said there were documents in the SVR archive that confirmed his words, but Russian experts in comments to Svobodnaya pressa suggested that this report was no more significant that Russian “plans” to dismember the US by promoting Texan or Mormon separatism ( Moreover, they argue that NATO did not destroy the USSR but rather that the Soviet Union destroyed itself, adding that for all his shortcomings and errors, Boris Yeltsin did almost everything he could to maintain rather than call into question the territorial integrity of its successor, the Russian Federation. Dmitry Rodionov of Svobodnaya pressa interviewed three of these people: Viktor Marakhovsky of the “On Line” media outlet, Vladimir Lepekhin of the Moscow Institute for Eurasian Economic Community, and Stanislav Byshok of the CIS-EMO International Monitoring Organization. Marakhovsky observes that “any military-political structure which is pursing the goal of the political destruction of its opponent undoubtedly has in its archives numerous scenarios for harming that opponent.” Indeed, there is no reason not to think that “somewhere in the brain centers” of Moscow are not “specialists on Californian, Mormon and Texan separatism.” But the existence of such documents doesn’t necessarily define either what the paymasters of those ideas actually do or even more what those who employ them are actually able to achieve on their own, he continues. NATO, for example “did not have the powers to destroy” the USSR in the past or Russia now. Nonetheless, Marakhovsky says, that fact “does not exclude the revival of Western scenarios of ‘controlled disintegration’ to be used if we again ourselves begin to pull it off,” just as Soviet leaders did at the end of USSR times. Lepekhin is equally dismissive of the latest report. Obviously, he says, the West has long been interested in reducing Russian power to that of Muscovy or even destroying it altogether. And it will use whatever means it can to weaken Russia just as it did the USSR. Ethno-territorial divisions are one of the aspects of the situation of Russia now just as the USSR earlier. But Russians should be asking themselves why the Soviet Union fell apart only into 15 parts and “not 30 or 40 fragments.” On the one hand, the West wasn’t interested in promoting more than that. And on the other, Boris Yeltsin, having become Russian president, did what he could to stop any further disintegration. The West was “satisfied by Yeltsin’s willingness to organize the rapid and relatively non-violent demise of the Soviet Union and it recognized that Russia would resist with force anything more, as Yeltsin himself proved in declaring war against Chechen separatism. That put an end to separatism until “a new revolution,” one that won’t happen sooner than 70 years from now. And Byshok too is dismissive of the new report. Obviously, the West would think about dismembering Russia but that doesn’t mean it could do it. “’The Cold War,’” he writes “have birth to numerous institutions and conceptions involving the weakening of complete destruction of the opponent. That a plan existed hardly means that it was the only or main one.” There were “a multitude” of such ideas floating around on both sides because people got paid for coming up with them and because “individuals of a certain psychological disposition were more than others included to the development of such kinds of doctrines.” That doesn’t mean they defined state or alliance policy. “There is the common phrase, ‘The Dulles Plan doesn’t exist but it is being carried out.’ Concerning the conception eing discussed one can say that it existed and operated but thanks more to the domestic Soviet crises than to the work of these very American institutes who were ‘prisoners’ of ‘the Cold War.’” The West was “undoubtedly interested in the weakening of the USSR and did what it could by using ethno-nationalism in the borderlands.” But it couldn’t have achieved anything in this regard if it hadn’t been the policies of Mikhail Gorbachev and his regime in Moscow. He gave the West the chance “to play on” these issues. Thinking about the present, Bushok continues, “one should not fail to recognize that in the relations of the West and present-day Russia, there is an obvious element of inertia. Neither ideological, economic or demographic causes to divide up Russia exist among the collective West. The same thing is true of Russia. But the conflict goes on.” “For the support of its own identity and integrity, an enemy with capital letters is required.” ISIS isn’t enough, he says, so each side has gone back to the past, “’singing the old songs about the main opponent.’”

The Morning Vertical, June 27, 2017 ON MY MIND It happened in 2011-12. It happened again in 2013-14. And it appears to be happening now. Periodically, in recent years, Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin has lost control of the narrative and appeared to be on the defensive. This was the case with the Bolotnaya protests in 2011. It was the case with Aleksei Navalny’s surprisingly strong mayoral campaign in 2013 which was followed by the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine. And it appears to be the case with the current round of nationwide anticorruption protests. But the important thing is what happened next. The protests of late 2011 and early 2012 were followed by a fierce crackdown on dissent and a turn by the Kremlin to so-called traditional values. And the challenge from Navalny and the example of the Euromaidan were followed by the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas. Which leaves the question: What will Putin’s Kremlin do now? What drastic measures will the regime take to regain control of the narrative. Putin appears to have run out of stories to tell the Russian people to justify his rule. And if recent experience is any guide, that means this is a very dangerous moment.

The Daily Vertical: Making Corruption Top-Secret (Transcript) So, don’t look now, but high-level corruption is about to become a state secret in Russia. Last week, the State Duma passed a bill that would classify the personal financial information of all top officials who are guarded by the Federal Protection Service. So if you’re protected by the state’s bodyguards, your bank accounts, real estate holdings, and business activities will all become top-secret once this bill clears the Federation Council and is signed into law by Vladimir Putin. Now, the obvious motive for this is to complicate the work of anticorruption activists like opposition leader Aleksei Navalny. But when you think about it, there is also a deeper and more perverse logic. As I’ve noted on numerous occasions, corruption is something that the Putin regime has effectively weaponized. It’s used domestically as a carrot and a stick to motivate and control the elite. The loyal are allowed to steal, and they’re only prosecuted if they step out of line politically. And it is also deployed as a weapon abroad, where the Kremlin uses shady financial schemes to build and maintain networks of influence and establish Trojan horses and fifth columns. Russia’s banks are as important a weapon as its tanks. It’s pretty much standard practice for the development, and deployment of a weapons system — be it a tank, a warplane, or a missile — to be classified. So in this sense, for the Kremlin it makes perfect sense to turn the corrupt dealings of the regime’s top officials into a state secret.

The Morning Vertical, June 26, 2017 ON MY MIND The Kremlin’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, demands that the messaging application Telegram turn over its data to Russian authorities. The State Duma passes a bill that would make the financial information of top Russian officials a state secret. Both of these stories broke last week. And their juxtaposition speaks volumes. On one hand, the Kremlin is continuing its campaign to pressure Internet companies to make it easier for the Russian authorities to eavesdrop on private citizens. And on the other, as I discuss on today’s Daily Vertical, the regime is moving to make it more difficult for private citizens to learn about the — often corrupt — financial dealings of their rulers. Meet the Kremlin’s double standard for the age of big data.

Russia’s Federal Protective Service is getting the right to classify information about property owned by officials like Putin and Medvedev. Does it matter? — Meduza Russia’s State Duma has adopted the second reading of draft legislation that will allow key government officials to hide information about their bank accounts and property.

9 Vladimir Putin quotes that offer terrifying insights into his mind | The Independent Vladimir Putin i has been in the US news lately due to — among other things — an investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign, tensions around Syria, and the US Senate conversations around imposing new sanctions on the Russia.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s Plans to Cut Military Pensions Seen Driving Military Retirees to Back Opposition Paul Goble Staunton, June 26 – The first rule of any government is that the state pays the people with guns charged with protecting the state first. A corollary of this is that the state keeps its word to military retirees, lest they, often an extremely large group, get angry and even more lest serving soldiers wonder what the future holds for them if the government doesn’t live up to its promises. The Russian government is now violating this principle, having cut military retiree benefits over the last decade, failed to index military pensions for the last five years, and now talking about increasing the number of years an officer must serve before getting a pension from 25 to 30. As a result, Anatoly Tsyganovk, head of the Moscow Center for Military Prognostications, says, it is likely that many of the ten to twelve million Russian military retirees will decide to join opposition protest actions and vote against the government, steps that could cause serious problems for the regime ( Boosting the retirement age alone would save the Russian government 350 to 400 billion rubles (six to eight billion US dollars) a year, the backers of new draft legislation say and would be completely consistent with broader plans to increase the retirement age of Russians in all sectors, Versiya journalist Aleksandr Stepanov reports. According to him, the political sensitivity of cutting military pension costs means that it is unlikely to happen before the 2018 presidential vote; but Stepanov points out that the government has failed for five years to meet its obligations to adjust military pensions for retirement, thus cutting the incomes of this group significantly. One of the reasons the number of military pensioners in Russia is so large – roughly ten times as numerous as those in the US – is that so many positions in the state are occupied by people in uniform. Consequently, they constitute a major burden on the Russian budget and for some time have been the target of budget hawks. Despite that, military pensions as of the start of 2017 averaged 21,300 rubles (350 US dollars) a month, far higher than the average Russian pension of 12,890 rubles (210 US dollars), thus allowing the government to believe that it would have popular support for cutting the pensions costs imposed by the military. Any more to increase the retirement age would likely to imposed incrementally and would have to deal with yet another problem: “almost a quarter of military personnel take their pensions early.” They receive less and some officials would like to prevent them from receiving even what they do until they reach the civilian retirement age. Military pensioners have been complaining to the government about past cuts – including to promised cuts like housing and the absence of inflation adjustments – and are certain to oppose any such broader reduction in benefits achieve by increasing the retirement age as the government apparently plans. But so far, they have not been heard, Stepanov says. As a result and as Tsygankov points out, they are increasingly angry not just about these specifics but about the government as a whole and may soon take their places in any new opposition demonstrations against the regime. More seriously, however, although it is not a point Stepanov or Tsygankov address, some now serving in the Russian military may begin to ask questions about just how loyal they should be to a government than has shown that it is not prepared to meet its promises to them. If such attitudes spread, that could threaten the regime more than any new pensioner protests alone.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘If a Bourgeois Revolution is to Start in Russia, It will Begin with Tatarstan,’ Kazan Historian Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 25 – Just as jadidist writers like Yosef Akchura played a key role in elaborating “the Tatar model” that became the basis for Turkey’s post-Ottoman transformation, “if a bourgeois revolution does begin in Russia, it will start with Tatarstan,” according to Kazan historian Rafael Mukhametdinov. In thinking about the future, the long-time specialist of Turkic societies at the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences argues in a major article in Kazan’s Business-Gazeta, many are inclined to forget two things: religion plays a continuing role in many societies even now and revolutionary change typically starts from one point and spreads ( A major reason that the Arab world and Russia have not made the transition to modernity, however great their incomes from the sale of raw materials, is that they have not modernized religion and transformed it from a force ruling society into one that is something personal for each individual, the historian argues. “In the Arab world,” for example, “an industrial society and a bourgeoisie as a class have still not been formed,” Mukhametshin says. As a result, “if you discount the income from oil and gas, the GDP of Spain with its 35 million people is greater than the combined GDP of all Arab countries with a population of more than 200 million.” The transition to modernity and the rise of the bourgeoisie spread from Holland to the rest of western Europe four and five centuries ago, and the same thing happened further east but still only in part. In a similar way, “the precursor of the transition to the bourgeois model of society and nationalism in Turkey … was the Tatar bourgeois model of development.” This Tatar model, the historian says, was a new form of nationalism which combined via jadidism Islamic culture and a commitment to national development and was most importantly promoted by Yusuf Akchura who insisted that religion must shift from a societal regulator to an individual one for a modern industrial nation and economy to emerge. In the decades preceding the 1917 revolution in Russia, Mukhametshin points out, “Tatar society from the point of view of the development of bourgeois style of life and modernization was the leader of the Muslim world and its leading intellectuals – men like Musa Bigiyev, Zyya Kamali, Rizaetdin Fakhretdinov and Galimdzhan Barudi – set the pace for Turkey and for many in the Arab world. Tragically, this rich intellectual tradition was interrupted by “the Bolshevik genocide against Muslims,” an action which has left many Muslims in Russia with the sense that the Islam they see around them began “from a blank slate.” But that is beginning to change as many Muslims in Russia recover the pre-1917 past. A major contribution to this recovery, Mukhametshin says, is the preparation, which is near completion, of a 12-volume set of the works of the jadidist thinkers of pre-1917 Tatarstan translated from the Arabic and Old Tatar and that will hopefully be translated into modern Tatar in the near future. This publication and the growth of interest in the ideas of Akchura and the others will naturally play a major role in the future direction of thinking in Tatarstan, but these things will also have a significant impact on other countries like Russia and the Arab East which have not escape from the pre-modern status of religion and thus moved into modernity. “If a bourgeois revolution is to begin in Russia, then it will start in Tatarstan, just as in Europe, a similar revolution began with little Holland,” Mukhametshin argues. “We Tatars desperately need an influx of new intellectual forces in the sphere of Islam.” Rereading the classics will help; applying them will make all the difference.

Jadid – Wikipedia

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Feuding Fetwas Creating Problems for Russia’s Muslims and Russian State Paul Goble Staunton, June 26 – In many federal subjects of the Russian Federation, there are now multiple Muslim Spiritual Directorates each headed by a more or less independent mufti who has the authority to issue fetwas, the Arabic term for “legal opinions,” that are intended to guide the lives of Muslims. But as Islam has become more important in the lives of the Muslims of Russia, that has created a problem for them as well as one for the Russian state. Muslims have the option to choose among the fetwas on offer, many of which contradict each other, and the Russian state is faced with uncertainty about just what advice even Russian-based muftis are giving. That is not a new problem or exclusively a Russian one. Within Islam, believers are remarkably free to choose which fetwas they consider authoritative; and in Russia, there have long been complaints about the absence of any one single Muslim “patriarch” or “pope” who alone can speak with legal authority. However, this problem has been compounded in Russia by three factors: the remarkable and largely uncontrolled growth in the number of MSDs which has meant that in most federal subjects there is more than one, the impact of foreign missionaries and scholars on the Muslims of Russia, and the low – thanks to Soviet oppression – level of religious knowledge among them. In a comment for Radio Liberty, journalist Lyubov Merenkova describes the problem this way: Within Islam, “there is no clear structure in which one body is subordinate to another and fulfills the directives of the one above it. No one has the right to issue fetwas which operate on the entire territory of the country. And while there is a supreme mufti, he is no more ‘supreme’ than the leaders of other major Muslim organizations of Russia” ( Further complicating this situation, she continues, is the fact that it is enshrined in state law which allows believers to form a primary organization and then any three of these have the right to form a superordinate one on their own. At present, according to the MSD of the Russian Federation which is within the Council of Muftis of Russia (SMR), there are 136 superordinate Muslim organizations or MSDs of various titles ( But that list is clearly incomplete. It doesn’t include, for example, the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia which was set up in November 2016. Four institutions, what some call the super-MSDs because they include other MSDs as members, are recognized as especially authoritative: the SMR, the Central MSD, the Coordination Center for Muslims of the North Caucasus and the Spiritual Assembly of Muslims of Russia – although one commentator says there are now really seven that deserve that ranking ( “From a legal point of view,” Merenkova continues, “all these structures are parallel and their leaders have equal rights.” But in reality, they don’t even control the actions of their subordinate MSDs and muftis in many cases. (The head of the Central MSD calls himself and is called by others “the supreme mufti” only because his body is the heir to the original MSD created in tsarist times.) That is creating legal chaos within the Muslim community. In some small places, there may be several MSDs represented and their muftis may have issued fetwas which contradict one another. In one village, the journalist there, there often are “three organizations” and so Muslims are free to choose which fetwa they will be guided by. And there is no clear way out, Marenkova says. Not only are Muslim parishes free to exit existing MSDs and create new ones, but existing MSDs are free to ignore the super-MSDs of which they are a part or even shift from one of these to another at their complete discretion. There is little those above can do to stop that.

Vladimir Putin is suddenly on the defensive against corruption – The Washington Post The criticisms of Russian anti-corruption activists appear to be hitting home.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Internet More Influential in Russian Regions than in Moscow, Schulmann Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 27 – Although the Internet came first to Moscow and the major cities, Yekaterina Schulmann says, now, “people in Russian regions spend more time on the Internet and on social media than do residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg,” exactly the opposite of what most people in the Russian capitals think. The senior scholar at the Presidential Academy of Economics and State Administration says on Radio Sol that “in the regions, the audience is larger than in the capitals and it spends more time there as well,” largely because “in the regions, there are many fewer means of obtaining information or finding entertainment” ( And in this absence of numerous public spaces, Schulmann continues, “precisely the regional user” – especially in northern parts of the country – “is becoming more attentive, selective and thoughtful,” again exactly the opposite of the image of Russia beyond the ring road in the minds of Muscovites and most Western observers.

‘Pavel Durov is an anarchist’: How network television is preparing Russians for the banning of Telegram — Meduza On June 23, Russia’s federal censor warned the instant messenger Telegram that it would be blocked, if the app doesn’t start obeying Russian laws requiring “informational distribution organizers” to store all user communications and share “encryption keys” with Russia’s intelligence agencies. Pavel Durov, Telegram’s creator, flatly refused. Over the weekend, the country’s three biggest TV networks aired news segments about the conflict between Roskomnadzor and Pavel Durov. Meduza briefly summarizes what national television is telling Russians about Telegram.

Russia, upping pressure on Telegram app, says it was used to plot bombing – To Inform is to Influence By Andrew Osborn and Dmitry Solovyov | MOSCOW Russia’s FSB security service said on Monday that terrorists had used the Telegram messaging app to carry out a deadly suicide bombing on Russian soil, increasing pressure on the app days after the authorities accused it of breaking data laws. Russia’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor said on Friday…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: FSB Seeking to Block or Control All Links Between Russians and Emigration, Melikhov Says Paul Goble Staunton, June 26 – Like the KGB in Soviet times, the Russian FSB is seeking to block or take control of any links between Russians inside the Russian Federation and the emigration, according to Vladimir Melikhov who was recently convicted and sentenced for trying to promote such connections. Melikhov, an entrepreneur who founded two museums about the anti-Bolshevik resistance and has promoted the revival of Cossack identity, was convicted on June 13 of illegal possession of firearms even though the gun he had could not be fired and the bullets the authorities found were likely planted. The subject of a major profile in the New York Times five days ago (, Melikhov has now provided additional details about his views in an extensive interview taken by Boris Tseytlin for Moscow’s Rufabula portal ( Three of his comments are especially noteworthy: First, Melikhov says that while he does not know the names of his persecutors, he is certain that they form “a group of FSB officials who are united about three main goals:” to break or take control of any ties between Russians inside the Russian Federation and Russians abroad, to “completely subordinate the Cossacks,” and to promote “a new Russian (or more precisely neo-Soviet) ideology” in which the state and its power are the central articles of faith. “After visiting our museums and memorials, people are left with no doubt that such an ideology will lead only to the degradation of society and the human personality and that it will be possible to avoid this degradation only when the Individual is put at the center of the construction of the state.” Given those goals, he says, it was absolutely impossible that he would not be targeted; and the state’s campaign against him began long before he erected the statue at Lienz, Austria, in memory of the forcible deportation of the Cossacks to Stalin’s Russia. That was simply the last straw. Second, Melikhov argues that suggestions that young people “are ceasing to consider themselves ethnic Russians … is not entirely so.” What they are rejecting is the Russianness as defined and offered by the existing regime. That is something “many young people” simply won’t accept. Unfortunately, “they do not know any other ‘Russianness’ because the education of our society including of young people does not allow anyone to seriously focus on this. On the contrary.” The state with its siloviki and secret services does everything it can to make sure that people within the borders of the Russian Federation have only one definition. Young people will return to that identity when it is redefined, when “conditions are established for creative activity and for the education of the young” about “that tragic path and the clarification of the errors which were committed in the preceding century, Melikhov concludes. And third, he argues, precisely because “the state of semi-collapse” was built into the Russian Federation from the very beginning by its authoritarian and hyper-centralist approach, “the Kremlin vertical is creating the very conditions that will make this collapse happen ever sooner.” But what is especially tragic, he says, is that “the longer this structure of administration will exist in Russia, the greater will be the probability of this collapse.”

The Gay Men Who Fled Chechnya’s Purge | The New Yorker The stories of those who survived detention and torture and are now living undercover in Putin’s Russia.

Jury Expected To Issue Verdict In Trial Of Accused Nemtsov Killers Jury deliberations in the trial of five men who are charged in connection with the 2015 killing of former Russian Deputy Prime Minister and opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has resumed.&nbsp; …

Russia Denies Its Soccer Players Are Doped Up – To Inform is to Influence That Russia is even denying these charges means there is serious trouble.  That Russia is being accused, once again, means Russia’s longstanding tradition of cheating is, yet again, affecting the perception of Russia in the world of international sports.  The bigger problem is Russia seems to lie, cheat, and steal no matter what it does. History,…

How a U.S.-Russia Back Channel Came to Life – POLITICO Magazine American and Russian officials are quietly working together to bury Cold War ghosts.

U.S. Army Chief Wants Vladimir Putin to Let Russia’s Nervous Neighbors Watch His War Games The top U.S. Army commander in Europe complained that Russia is being too secretive about upcoming large-scale military drills.

Russia Scuttles Its Grand Maritime Dreams | RealClearWorld Russia’s military modernization efforts are entering a critical stage. The state armaments program (GPV), covering 2018-2025, is due to be finalized in September. The plan will determine not only the…

Amazon Founder Bezos Aims To Replace Russian Engines In U.S. Launches A private space company owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced on June 26 that it plans to build a new rocket engine for space flights to replace engines now provided by Russia. Blue Origi…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Stalin Wanted to ‘Drain’ the Caspian Sea But Was Talked Out of It Paul Goble Staunton, June 25 – In 1952, shortly before his death, Joseph Stalin came up with the idea of “draining” the Caspian Sea so as to be able to get to the oil and gas resources on its bed; but he was dissuaded from trying by water specialists who pointed out that redirecting the Volga, Terek and Kura rivers would be insufficient and that Moscow didn’t have enough pumps. This week, the Tolkovatel portal offers a glimpse into this intriguing story by drawing on the comments of Nikolay Baybakov, onetime Soviet oil minister and Gosplan director, and KGB head Ivan Serov in memoirs that were published by Prosveshechniye last year (зачем-сталин-хотел-осушить-каспийско/). They are intriguing both as an example of the way in which Stalin was on occasion at least dissuaded from doing something he thought he wanted to do by experts who pointed out the obstacles and costs and as an indication that in that regard he was less willful than some of his successors who became backers of the ill-fated but much-discussed Siberian river diversion plan. The idea of draining the Caspian to get at the oil on its seabed arose almost as soon as oil was discovered there, with companies and officials working to reclaim for the land small portions of the sea already at the end of the 19th century and making plans for a bigger “draining” operation in 1909-1912. Those plans were never realized because of the revolutionary turmoil, although in 1927, some 300 hectares were reclaimed from the Caspian Sea and rapidly filled with oil wells. Such small efforts might have continued, but the launch of the first Soviet oil drilling platform in the Caspian in 1949 changed the thinking of some in Moscow. That platform proved so expensive and could be used only in shallow water that Soviet planners began to consider more radical solutions. One of these involved “draining” the entire sea so that the Soviet Union could get more oil given that the Western Siberian fields had not yet come on line. Ivan Serov describes what happened in 1952 in his recently published memoirs. At that time, Serov was deputy minister of state security and curator of the Volga-Don canal construction project. His deputy told him that Stalin had called him to come with a map of the Caspian to discuss the future of the sea. On his return, the deputy said that Stalin had ordered the preparation of plans to “drain” the Caspian Sea. “I looked at him with surprise,” Sergov says, “but he looked at me seriously.” His deputy said he had told Stalin that this was “possible” but that he would have to “calculate” how much it would cost. He noted that Stalin had dismissed Mikoyan’s objections that this would cost the Soviet Union hard currency from caviar exports. Stalin said that was irrelevant: “’we need oil.’” Soviet government exports got to work, calculated the enormous cost of diverting or damming the rivers feeding the Caspian, and recognized that even if that step were taken, there weren’t enough pumps in the USSR at that time to drain the remaining water from the bottom of the sea. They reported this to Stalin who said that clearly it wasn’t an idea whose time had come. Everyone supported that, and Serov says that he “thought to himself: ‘Thank God that he didn’t decide to drain the sea.’”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Journal Offers Rare Russian Glimpse of Fate of Vlasovites Forcibly Returned to USSR Paul Goble Staunton, June 26 – There are many Stalinist crimes Russian writers either pass over in silence or minimize, but one that is especially rarely discussed is the fate of those Russians who fought on the side of the Germans against the Soviet Union and of White Russian emigres who were lumped together with them and forcibly returned to Moscow by the Western allies. Many Russians and indeed many in the West feel that the decision of the allies to send these people to the USSR and that any punishments that Moscow meted out to them were justified. As a result, their fate has rarely been discussed in the West either, and it is no surprise that Lord Nicholas Bethell entitled his 1974 study of this process, The Last Secret. That makes the appearance of an article by Pavel Zhukov in this week’s Diletant especially important because it calls Russian attention to this neglected chapter and signals how at least some Russians now view the fate of those that they have long been accustomed to view exclusively as Nazi hirelings and traitors ( Few of the Soviet citizens who fought for Hitler wanted to be returned to the USSR, but as Zhukov points out, the Western allies “without a twinge of conscience handed them over.” The most senior Russian commanders involved were shot more or less immediately. But he says, “for ordinary soldiers,” the Soviets offered them “unexpectedly” a better fate. Fearful that Stalin would not repatriate Western fliers in the camps in eastern Europe – a fact that Bethell documents but that Zhukov doesn’t mention – the Western allies quickly handed the Russian Liberation Army soldiers and many Russian emigres over to Moscow. Only the French, for a brief time, objected: they wanted to guillotine the Russians involved. Those returned or sent to the USSR had to pass through filtration camps, but those who were judged no longer a threat were sent to live in special settlements. “A harsh and agony-filled life,” Zhukov acknowledges, but “all the same a life.” The reason for what he calls this “soft attitude toward traitors” was the shortage of workers in the USSR as a result of the war. “There was a logic in this,” the Diletant writer says. “By means of heavy physical labor, balancing between life and death, the former soldiers of the Russian Liberation Army redeemed themselves.” According to him, “more than 45,000 Vlasovites were distributed in special settlements throughout Western Siberia. The officers and White emigres were settled in a special camp near Kemerovo, a facility that had an especially notorious reputation. “More than half of those confined there tried to flee, there was the constant threat of risings, and the percentage of mortality exceeded all imaginable limits.” Between 1946 and 1952, Zhukov says, approximately 9,000 Vlasovite soldiers died in these special settlements. In some places, they were treated especially harshly; in others, they were treated more or less the same way as the surrounding Soviet population. They were more restricted in terms of moving to major cities or western border regions. The special settlements were disbanded in 1955, and later in the same year, those Vlasovite soldiers who had managed to survive, Zhukov says, were given a Soviet passport and the chance “to begin life anew.”

Russian Army Again Threatening Georgia From the Occupied Territories – Jamestown

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

A Ransomware Outbreak Is Infecting Computers Across the World Right Now – Motherboard A quickly-spreading, world-wide ransomware outbreak has reportedly hit targets in Spain, France, Ukraine, Russia, and other countries.

Reuters: Ukrainian aircraft maker Antonov hit by cyber attack | KyivPost Ukrainian state-run aircraft manufacturer Antonov has been hit by a cyber attack, a spokeswoman said on June 27 as many other companies, including banks and the state power distributor, were affected by cyber attacks.

Internet bots are key players in propelling disinformation: study of 9 countries -Euromaidan Press | Computers can manipulate public opinion. This is the conclusion of a new study by the Oxford Internet Institute, which highlights the significant spread of computer-generated political messages on social media. A group of researchers gathered empirical evidence on the size of automated relaying of messages on social media in “attempts to artificially shape public life”. The authors conclude that bots – software designed to artificially amplify messages on social networks – “are often key tools in propelling disinformation across sites like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and beyond”. Russia: 45% of Twitter accounts automated According to the authors, “in authoritarian countries, social media are a primary means of social control” while in democracies, automated amplification is used to “manipulate public opinion” or particular segments of society. The study contains examples based on the analysis of large samples of online activity, in particular on Twitter, in various countries. The findings include that in Russia, 45% of the Twitter accounts are automated. See the chapter on Russia in the study. Ukraine: most advanced use of computational propaganda The researchers say that Ukraine is “the most globally advanced case of computational propaganda”, with the country being “the frontline of numerous disinformation campaigns in Europe”. The analysis showed that manually maintained fake accounts were more prevalent in Ukrainian online campaigns than automated relaying of messages. At the same time, bots were used for a wide variety of functions: increasing social media audiences, faking engagement to amplify messages, automatically registering new accounts and reporting other accounts to the networks to block them. Around 15% of all Twitter accounts in Ukraine are generated by bots rather than people, the study notes. The disinformation around the downing of flight MH17 over Ukraine is an example of such combination of tools: a fake Twitter account of an alleged Spanish air traffic controlled named Carlos at the Kyiv airport claimed to have seen a Ukrainian military aircraft near the area of the catastrophe. In the wake of this tweet, Russian media and official sources alleged that the Malaysian plane had been shot down by the Ukrainian army. Ukrainian fact checkers were able to show that the story was a fake since only Ukrainian nationals are permitted to work at the Ukrainian traffic control. Bots were programmed to report Facebook accounts of journalists posting about MH17 and thus have helped block their accounts. Bot activity increased again when the results of the joint investigation on the downing of MH17 were presented in September 2016: each time someone used the #MH17 hashtag in Russian, “a bot would join the conversation and reply with a link to a fake article questioning the results of the investigation”. This occurred even when the tweet text had nothing to do with MH17.See the chapter on Ukraine in the study.

Computational Propaganda Worldwide | University of Oxford Executive Summary The Computational Propaganda Research Project at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, has researched the use of social media for public opinion manipulation. The team involved 12 researchers across nine countries who, altogether, interviewed 65 experts, analyzed tens of millions posts on seven different social media platforms during scores of elections, political crises, and national security incidents. Each case study analyzes qualitative, quantitative, and computational evidence collected between 2015 and 2017 from Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Poland, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States. Computational propaganda is the use of algorithms, automation, and human curation to purposefully distribute misleading information over social media networks. We find several distinct global trends in computational propaganda.

The Primer on Russia’s “Active Measures,” Its Information Warfare Strategy | Big Think KGB-era “active measures” are still being used by Russian intelligence agencies today, according to experts.

Top-5 Russian Fakes about US – To Inform is to Influence June 17, 2017 – 16:54 – Tillerson Names Conditions under Which Crimea Would Be Recognized as Russian ( Scores of Russian media manipulated statements made by US Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson during his congressional confirmation hearing, claiming that Tillerson named the conditions under which America would be prepared to recognize Crimea as Russian territory. They…

More Russian Lies: CAF on Reported “Instructors” in Eastern Ukraine: They’re Not Ours – To Inform is to Influence Tidbits from Both Sides of the Fight CAF on Reported “Instructors” in Eastern Ukraine: They’re Not Ours The Russian military TV network says Canadian and U.S. “instructors” are close to the line between Ukrainian forces and Russian-supported separatists in eastern Ukraine. I checked with the CAF Info-machine, and Canadian Joint Operations Command spokesperson Major Steve Neta,…

How Putin Seduced Oliver Stone — and Trump – The New York Times “The Putin Interviews” on Showtime tell us a lot about what would make someone admire Russia’s autocratic president so much.

Pussy Riot Criticizes Oliver Stone for Vladimir Putin Interview | Hollywood Reporter “It was very obvious that he is very comfortable in this position and he doesn’t want any critics,” said member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of the Oscar-winner’s friendship with the Russian president.

Oliver Stone’s Vladimir Putin interviews are accidentally revelatory – Vox The director wants to find the humanity in the Russian leader. Too bad he’s not a better interviewer.

Putin’s Alternative Perspective On Journalists – To Inform is to Influence The Seattle Times published an article today, Russia’s Putin: Top goal for journalists is ‘do not offend’. MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin says the most important principle for journalists is to avoid upsetting those featured in their articles and television broadcasts. Journalists should ensure their work “won’t be offensive to those about whom they…

Is NPR A Russian Tool? – To Inform is to Influence Tools are used hard, then put into a kit box and only used again when needed. NPR, using that definition, is and was used by Russia as a propaganda tool.  Plain and simple. Here is an article, published by NPR yesterday. Many In Eastern Ukraine Want To Join Russia Bullcrap. Vladimir Putin insists Russia doesn’t want…

Three journalists quit CNN in fallout from retracted Russia story – To Inform is to Influence This story would not be getting headlines if it was not CNN, did not involve the President Trump administration, and ‘the media’ and especially CNN is widely believed to be fabricating many news stories.  Why is CNN holding their reporters and editorial staff accountable? Perhaps CNN is sending a signal to its reporting and editorial…

CNN imposing new rules on Russia stories | TheHill

CNN Imposing Rules On Russia Coverage After R | The Daily Caller Higher-ups at CNN are cracking down after another botched story regarding President Donald Trump and Russia.

CNN Is Imposing Strict New Rules On Its Russia Coverage The decision came after the network deleted and retracted a post on Friday.

Why Are IBM and Cisco Sharing Cyber Security Secrets With Russia? Russian authorities are asking Western tech companies to allow them to review source code for security products before they’re sold in the country.

NATO Alternative Analysis Handbook – April 2017 – To Inform is to Influence The Alliance relies on thoroughly considered and well-implemented plans, policies and procedures created with an understanding of the unique strategic and operational issues it faces. For a number of reasons, our processes necessarily drive towards a consensus opinion, often at the expense of unique or divergent perspectives. The application of independent critical thought to a…

Ukraine Reports

Poroshenko announces finalization of agreement with U.S. on arming Ukraine Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has announced understanding was reached with U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis on the finalization of an agreement on providing Ukraine with defensive weapons. “We’ve agreed that an agreement on the supply of defensive weapons is now being finalized along with an agreement on military and technical cooperation, cooperation in research and development, and many other agreements with the U.S. Department of Defense, and it would have taken much more time if not the [recent] visit [to the United States],” Poroshenko told Ukrainian TV channels on Sunday, June 25. “I’d like to particularly mention a meeting at the Pentagon. It’s just emotional: as you arrive – the Ukrainian national anthem is played at the Pentagon’s entrance first, Ukrainian flags are flying, representatives of all the armed forces of the United States are lining up. And when our delegation was at the Pentagon, we heard the inspiring words of U.S. Secretary of Defense … Mattis,” he said. Read also Poroshenko discusses situation in Donbas with U.S. Secretary of Defense According to the president, the chief of the Pentagon is very well informed about the state of affairs in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “We are proud of what you’ve managed to do, and we are proud of your armed forces,” Poroshenko quoted Mattis as saying. The talks at the Pentagon were also attended by chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko. “He [Mattis] says: we know Victor, this is a real hero, we are very happy with what you’ve managed to achieve within three years, you should be proud of this. He [Mattis] said it was not just a polite gesture, it is the opinion of all American experts, advisers who are currently working, including four-star generals, namely General Mattis’ former heads working with the Armed Forces of Ukraine now. He [Mattis] says he will do everything possible to expand our defense cooperation, tackle the issue of providing Ukraine with defensive weapons, and that was a great success,” Poroshenko said. As UNIAN reported earlier, Poroshenko met with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump on June 20. Following the meeting, the Ukrainian president announced that the two had discussed the support of Ukraine in countering Russian aggression and further sanction policy against Moscow. The White House in turn reported that the presidents had met to discuss the support of a peaceful resolution to the Donbas crisis.

Poroshenko expects U.S. decision on defensive arms for Ukraine by October Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he expects a decision on providing Ukraine with defensive weapons will be taken by October. Latest UNIAN news from 26 June.

Agreement on weapons from the US can be signed in October – Poroshenko – 26.06.2017 11:00 — Ukrinform News 26.06.2017 11:00. The issue of providing Ukraine with U.S. defense weapons can be resolved in October.

President Poroshenko: Ukraine intends to purchase 55% of nuclear fuel from Westinghouse – 26.06.2017 11:36 — Ukrinform News 26.06.2017 11:36. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has stated that Ukraine intends to purchase up to 55% of nuclear fuel from the U.S. Westinghouse&nbsp;Electric&nbsp;Company.

Ukraine to buy at least 2 mln tonnes of coal from USA – 26.06.2017 10:07 — Ukrinform News 26.06.2017 10:07. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has stated that Ukraine will purchase at least 2 million tonnes of coal from the United States.

AndersFogh Rasmussen on Twitter: “Distinguished group of US experts including my colleague @ARVershbow list the defensive weapons Congress & @POTUS should provide to #Ukraine”

Macron, Poroshenko Voice Hope Of Progress In Resolving Ukraine Crisis After meeting in Paris, the French and Ukrainian presidents have voiced hope of making progress in resolving the conflict between government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. …

President Macron: Anna of Kyiv unites Ukraine and France -Euromaidan Press | Emmanuel Macron has effectively repudiated the claim by Vladimir Putin to 11th-century French Queen Anna, a daughter of the Great Prince of Kyiv, as allegedly “Russian” and belonging to Russia’s history. At the meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko this Monday, Macron pointed to the “deeply rooted” relations between France and Ukraine, tracing them back to the time when in 1051, Anna arrived in Paris from Kyiv to marry French King Henry I. Macron said that the Ukrainian president and he had paid tribute to the role of Queen Anna in their common history. At the end of May, Ukrainian officials and social media users mocked Putin’s attempt to “appropriate” Anna, her father, Great Prince Yaroslav the Wise, and the whole reigning house of medieval Kyiv made during his visit to Versailles. As a number of commentators rightly wrote, there had not been such a town (or even village) as Moscow in the lifetime of Anna of Kyiv (circa 1032 — after 1075). Twitter witnessed a short but stubborn quarrel between the accounts of Russia and Ukraine, each claiming their “rights” to the princess. Meanwhile, political scientists noticed the geopolitical implications of Putin’s historical somersault in France. Saying that the dynasty ruling over Kyiv a thousand years ago was “Russian” meant the denial of separate political history to Ukraine and a bid for its territory, they stressed. Following the meetings with French statesmen on 26 June, Poroshenko arrived at the commune of Senlis (north of Paris), the final resting place of Queen Anna. There he met with the members of the Ukrainian community in France and laid flowers at the monument to Anna presented to Senlis by Ukraine in 2015.

President met with the Ukrainian community of France and honored memory of Anne of Kiev – Queen of France — Official website of the President of Ukraine In the course of the working trip to France, President Petro Poroshenko visited Senlis to meet with the Ukrainian community of France and honor memory of Anne of Kiev – Queen of France.

“Russians tried to steal our history, we didn’t allow that,” – Poroshenko met Ukrainians living in France. PHOTOS 27.06.17 12:45 – Russians tried to steal our history, we didn’t allow that, – Poroshenko met Ukrainians living in France. PHOTOS During his visit to France on June 26, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko visited Senlis to meet the Ukrainian community of France and honor memory of Anne of Kiev – Queen of France. View photo news.

Macron states that Russia is aggressor against Ukraine – 26.06.2017 14:28 — Ukrinform News 26.06.2017 14:28. Ukraine did not unleash a conflict with Russia; on the contrary, Russia is an aggressor that&nbsp;also occupied Crimea.

Germany sees ‘very difficult’ situation in eastern Ukraine | Reuters German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Monday that both Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists were violating a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ukraine and it would likely be difficult to resolve the crisis in the short term.

Russia forms three armies on the border with Ukraine – American expert [Dr Phillip Karber] Russia forms three armies on the border with Ukraine. As UNIAN correspondent reports, US military expert Philip Karber said this at a press conference in Kiev. “For three years we had the opportunity to observe this conflict, and we saw the rise of this (Ukrainian) army, which was destroyed for 20 years. We saw colossal progress as it confronts this (Russian) army, has technological and numerical superiority, “the expert said.  According to him, the Russian aggression against Ukraine began with the seizure of the Crimea and continued support of the “hybrid forces” in the Donbass. “Now we are witnessing the creation of three armies around the borders of Ukraine. The first of these armies is the Guards Tank Army, which relocates from Smolensk and moved closer to the Ukrainian and Belarusian borders. This first Guards Tank Army has more tanks than all the Baltic countries together than Poland, than West Germany and France, “Karber said. “This is not a surprise, because Russia last month announced that the first Guards Tank Army would be a massive, shocking shock fist. The Russians also announced that they will conduct strategic exercises “West” in late August and early September, when some of the units of this Guards Tank Army will be moved to the territory of Belarus, “Karber added.

People of Ukraine buried ‘Novorossiya’ project over past three years, – Poroshenko 26.06.17 09:58 – People of Ukraine buried ‘Novorossiya’ project over past three years, – Poroshenko The Kremlin’s project to create the so-called ‘Novorossiya’ (areas of southeastern Ukraine, part of the Donbas) has been buried. View news.

Ukraine re-thinking its approach to Donbas war. Key things to know -Euromaidan Press | Vitalii Rybak After more than three years which have passed since the start of the war in eastern Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has come up with ideas about a new plan for de-occupation of Donbas and its reintegration into Ukraine. Oleksandr Turchynov, the Secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, stressed on 13 June that Ukraine has developed a draft new strategy on Donbas in order to protect the country from Russian aggression. In his opinion, the so-called “Anti-Terror Operation” (ATO), an expression used until now by Ukrainian authorities in its official documents to designate the war in Eastern Ukraine, is no longer a viable option in its current shape.

New format of military operation in Donbas should provide for carrying out democratic procedures – Parubiy – 27.06.2017 14:42 — Ukrinform News 27.06.2017 14:42. A new format of the military operation in Donbas should provide for the opportunity to conduct these operations without violating democratic procedures.

Andreas Umland | What Happens if Russia Turns Up the Heat Again in Ukraine? Will the low-intensity war in the Donbas continue its current course in the coming years, or will Moscow turn up the heat there, as it occasionally does? It’s hard to say. “It all comes down to geopolitics and what Putin wants to do,” said Ihor Kozak, an independent Canadian defense and security expert who visited Ukraine’s frontlines in June, in a recent interview. Russia is purposefully building up its military capacity and installations, including a railway line along the Russian-Ukrainian border from Zhuravka to Millerovo—new infrastructure that would make possible the quick movement of troops in the region. Renowned Russian military expert Pavel Felgenhauer, who in June 2008 predicted Russia’s August 2008 assault on Georgia, warns that this project and the general buildup of the Russian army could lead to an open Russian invasion into mainland Ukraine. The aim of such a foray could be to create a land connection between the occupied parts of the Donbas and Crimea that runs along the shores of the Azov Sea. This need may become especially acute if the Russian bridge through the Kerch Strait, which is currently under construction, turns out to be impossible to complete. In such a case, Putin’s annexation of Crimea may be questioned by the Russian public if propping up Crimea becomes too expensive. Such a risk may trigger further Russian military aggression against Ukraine, beginning with some engineered incident that would provide a pretext and secure public approval for further action. With Russian elections slated for next year, Putin could decide he would benefit from a new military stunt to give him an electoral boost. An all-out war would have far-reaching repercussions for European security, including large new refugee flows into the European Union. In connection with these risks, an intensification of negotiations within the Normandy Format, as one of the few continuing frameworks allowing contact between Ukraine, Germany, France, and Russia, is paramount. On June 14, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested that the United States doesn’t want to be “handcuffed” to the Minsk Agreements and wants to maintain flexibility. Yet such an approach could be wrong, if the United States is consumed by internal political strife in the foreseeable future. The recent rise of Emmanuel Macron in France, and probable confirmation of Angela Merkel as chancellor after Germany’s September elections, make the continuation of Minsk the best available path forward. Recent hawkish statements by both Merkel and Macron toward the Kremlin indicate a high likelihood of unity and steadiness of their positions. Eastern and Central European EU member states have a great interest in a de-escalation of tensions in eastern Ukraine. Therefore, the EU should signal to the Kremlin that it will introduce tougher sanctions if Russia makes new advances into mainland Ukraine or the situation in the Donbas declines. Brussels should make clear to Moscow its readiness to not only impose, in such a case, more export restrictions, but also to introduce a large-scale embargo on Russia’s voluminous pipeline oil deliveries into the EU. In the meantime, European states both inside and outside of the EU should take more resolute individual actions against select members of the Russian political and economic elite. Often, this can be done by simply more consistently applying EU and national anticorruption legislation to Russian holders of bank accounts and property throughout Europe. The West will also have to think more seriously about the development of additional security structures for Eastern Europe—especially Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia. The deep structural hole in post-Soviet international relations is a major reason for the current crisis within Europe’s geopolitical nowhere-land. Without a comprehensive solution to the security problems of Chisinau, Kyiv, and Tbilisi, there can be no lasting stability, sustainable peace, or economic prosperity along the eastern borders of the EU and NATO. As is well known, however, those two organizations are unlikely to enlarge eastward in the next few years. Therefore, Brussels, Washington, Berlin, Paris, Warsaw, and London should find alternative ways to provide at least some inclusion of Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine into the European security system. A model for a possible solution exists in the 2010 Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Mutual Assistance between Turkey and Azerbaijan. In Article 2 of this ratified treaty between a NATO member and an Eastern Partnership country, both parties agreed to “swiftly” help each other in case of an armed attack by a third side—support that explicitly includes “the use of military means and capabilities.” NATO could signal to its eastern member states that they are free to make similar commitments toward Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, if they wish to do so. Ideally, this could lead to a new multilateral security coalition in Eastern Europe that would follow the example of the abortive Intermarium project proposed by Poland after World War I. It is in the core national interests of all Western states to send louder, clearer, and bolder signals to both the embattled Central and East European nations and to Moscow.

Individuals recruited by Russia attempted attack at Batkivshchyna party office, – SBU (updated) 26.06.17 14:01 – Individuals recruited by Russia attempted attack at Batkivshchyna party office, – SBU (updated) Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) prevented an attack on Batkivshchyna party office in Kyiv. View news.

Top intelligence officer Maksym Shapoval killed in Mercedes explosion in Kyiv, – media 27.06.17 11:13 – Top intelligence officer Maksym Shapoval killed in Mercedes explosion in Kyiv, – media The explosion of a Mercedes vehicle at Solomianska Street in the morning of June 27 in Kyiv killed head of a special purpose unit of Main Intelligence Directorate (HUR) of Ukraine’s MoD Maksym Shapoval. View news.

GUR Colonel blown up in Kiev worked on evidence of Russian aggression: victory in The Hague was achieved thanks to his work The deceased conducted unique reconnaissance operations in the rear of militants in the Donbas. Colonel GU Intelligence Ministry of Defense of Ukraine Maxim Shapoval, who was blown up in the car on June 27, was commander of the deep intelligence unit and provided evidence of Russia’s involvement in armed aggression against Ukraine. This is with reference to a source in law enforcement agencies, writes Read also In the Ministry of Internal Affairs believe that the undermining of the Colonel GUR in Kiev was organized by the Russian special services “Thanks to him, Ukraine justified its position in The Hague about Russia’s involvement in the armed aggression, and before it provided all such documented facts through diplomatic channels and through intelligence exchange channels with Allied intelligence agencies,” the source said. According to the source, Maxim Shapoval directly participated not only in planning, but also in carrying out reconnaissance raids into the deep rear of the occupied territories. “The uniqueness of reconnaissance operations was that the means of documenting the Russian occupation forces, their movements, the availability of modern models of EW systems and weapons of destruction were used. Including in such a way that this could serve as an unconditional proof of the armed aggression of Russia against Ukraine, especially in the use of regular BTRGs and the newest systems of destruction that are produced only in Russia, “he said. It is also reported that some reconnaissance operations concerned timely notification of the deployment of Russian artillery, including long-range artillery, which significantly reduced losses among Ukrainian military and civilians. “Maxim destroyed enemies demonstratively, including as an element of intimidation and as an element of an information operation to discredit the most devoted sons of Ukraine,” – the interlocutor believes. As UNIAN reported, in Kiev on the corner of Solomenskaya and Alekseevskaya streets today, on June 27, the Mercedes car exploded in the morning, the driver was killed. The event is qualified as a terrorist act. The press service of the Defense Ministry said that the explosion killed an employee of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense Colonel Maxim Shapoval. It was also reported that he was engaged in the protection of the murdered State Duma Deputy Voronenkov.

Ukrainian serviceman killed in car blast in Kyiv (Photo, video) A car has exploded in Kyiv's&nbsp;Solomyansky&nbsp;district on June 27, Kyiv police spokesperson Oksana&nbsp;Blyschyk&nbsp;wrote on Facebook. Latest UNIAN news from 27 June.

Colonel In Ukrainian Military Intelligence Killed In Kyiv Car Bomb A colonel in Ukraine&rsquo;s armed forces has been killed in a car bomb in Kyiv that authorities are investigating as a &ldquo;terrorist attack.&rdquo; A Defense Ministry statement on the June 2…

The Moment A Car Bomb Exploded In Kyiv CCTV pictures captured the moment a car bomb exploded in Kyiv, killing a Ukrainian army colonel. (Reuters)

Militants violated ceasefire in Donbas 18 times in last day – 27.06.2017 09:30 — Ukrinform News 27.06.2017 09:30. Militants launched 18 attacks on positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in ATO area in Donbas over the past day in violation of the ceasefire, declared due to crop harvesting.

No casualties among Ukrainian soldiers in ATO zone in past day – 27.06.2017 13:37 — Ukrinform News 27.06.2017 13:37. The Ukrainian army sustained no losses over the past 24 hours in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) zone in Donbas, eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine reports 23 enemy attacks, 1 WIA in last day | UNIAN Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 23 times in the past 24 hours, with one Ukrainian soldier reported as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 26 June from UNIAN.

Russian snipers arrive in Donetsk – Tymchuk – War news | UNIAN The arrival of sniper groups from the Russian Federation has been recorded in the village of Oleksandrivka (western outskirts of the city of Donetsk) and the&nbsp;Trudivske&nbsp;residential area of the Donetsk's Petrivskiy district, according to Ukrainian MP and military expert Dmytro Tymchuk, who is also a coordinator of the analytical group Information Resistance. News 26 June from UNIAN.

Ukrainian military trained to make assault river crossing in Donetsk region. VIDEO 27.06.17 13:59 – Ukrainian military trained to make assault river crossing in Donetsk region. VIDEO Ukraine Armed Forces’ tankmen and fighters of pontoon bridge battalion trained to conduct assault river crossing in the Donetsk region. View video news.

“We look into possibility of expanding troops in the south of Odesa region” – Stepan Poltorak | Міністерство оборони України Friday, June 23. ODESSA OBLAST – “The previous military and political leadership made decisions, resulting in a full absence of military units in this region. We plan to beef up the military presence here, build up the necessary infrastructure and the military base. Today we have military units in Bolgrad, Sarata, another one in Artsyz to be deployed. “Where the military presents, the region is developing. But above all, it ensures the security and territorial integrity of our country,” General of the Army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak said.

Minister of Defense of Ukraine studies military airfield in Bolgrad, visits location of 88th Airborne Battalion | Міністерство оборони України Friday, June 23. ODESSA OBLAST – As part of his visit to the Odessa garrison, the Defense Minister of Ukraine, General of the Army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak arrived at the military airfield in Bolgrad. The Minister of Defense heard the report of the Airborne Troops Commander Lieutenant General Mikhail Zabrodsky on the current state of the airfield and discussed the possibility of rebuilding the military facility. The head of the Defense Department inspected the technical condition of the runway, buildings and facilities of the airfield, as well as the location of the 88th Detached Battalion of the 79th Detached Airborne Brigade of the Airborne Troops. General of the Army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak ordered to send an expert group to study the needs and identify the priority tasks to be implemented. “Once the visit is completed, crucial decisions will be taken and enforced. This unit is expanding, and therefore, above all, we must work to ensure the appropriate environment and conditions for its functioning. It is about restoring the infrastructure and solving the housing issues of the servicemen. The necessary funding will be provided,” the Minister of Defense of Ukraine said.

Bolhrad AB – UA Army Aviation Corps Find local businesses, view maps and get driving directions in Google Maps.

Social Policy Ministry registers more than 1.5 mln IDPs from Donbas and Crimea – 27.06.2017 15:13 — Ukrinform News 27.06.2017 15:13. As of June 27, 2017, the Social Policy Ministry registered 1,584,859 internally displaced persons (IDPs) from Donbas and Crimea, the ministry&rsquo;s press service reports.

Ukrainian army to get 10 Oplot tanks next year (Photos) Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov says that the state defense order for 2018 provides for the purchase of at least 10 Ukrainian-made Oplot main battle tanks for the army.&nbsp; News 25 June from UNIAN.

Trial of Yanukovych adjourned until June 29 – News about politics | UNIAN The hearing on former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's treason case on its merits has been adjourned until 10:00 on Thursday, June 29. Latest UNIAN news from 26 June.

Authors of Donbas blockade sent billions from Ukrainian budget to Russian, – PM Hroisman 26.06.17 13:29 – Authors of Donbas blockade sent billions from Ukrainian budget to Russian, – PM Hroisman Organizers of the Donbas blockade initiated in January 2017 were acting in coordination with Russians and in fact assisted in transferring industrial assets and mineral wealth from Ukrainian mine to the Russian party. View news.

Crimean Tatar activist Zair Smedlyaev: “Russian guests” massively replace indigenous population of Crimea -Euromaidan Press | The Crimean News Agency (QHA) website recently published information on how Crimea is being taken over by Russians. Most of these “visitors” are from the Russian Federation – customs officers, Federal Migration employees, judges, prosecutors, Interior Ministry officials and government officials, as well as recruited health workers, construction workers, and military and FSB officers. In total, 120-130,000 people from Russia – counting the families of contract soldiers, officers and military specialists – have settled in Crimea.

Native language in Ukraine – Russian

30% of Ukrainians want Russian to be official language, over 65% against – poll Some 30% of the Ukrainians polled claim they support the idea of making Russian an official language, according to an opinion poll conducted by Rating Group Ukraine. News 27 June from UNIAN.

Timothy Snyder on Germany’s Historical Responsibility towards Ukraine + Discussion – YouTubeLecture of Timothy Snyder from Yale University at a conference on Germany’s Historical Responsibility towards Ukraine in the German Bundestag, 20th of June 2…

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Nikki Haley on Twitter: “Any further attacks done to the people of Syria will be blamed on Assad, but also on Russia & Iran who support him killing his own people.”

Sean Spicer on Twitter: “Statements from @PressSec on #syria”

U.S. threatens Syria, says Assad is planning chemical weapons attack | Reuters The White House warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Monday that he and his military would “pay a heavy price” if it conducted a chemical weapons attack and said the United States had reason to believe such preparations were underway.U.S. Warns Syria Against Chemical AttackThe United States says it has identified &quot;potential preparations&quot; for another chemical attack in Syria and warned the Syrian government it would pay a &quot;heavy price&quot; if it wen…

Russia Denounces Trump Chemical Attack Warning to Syria – WSJ The Kremlin’s spokesman calls ‘unacceptable’ the White House warning to the Syrian government against carrying out another chemical attack.

Vladimir Kara-Murza | Russia’s Poisonous Tactics BY VLADIMIR KARA-MURZA — Whether dropped on entire villages or injected in a targeted fashion, the deliberate use of poisons on human beings is an unacceptable practice that cannot be tolerated—in Syria, in Russia, or anywhere else.

Russian FM Asks Tillerson To Help Stop ‘Provocations’ Against Syrian Forces Russia says&nbsp;Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told his American counterpart to &quot;take measures to prevent provocations&quot; against Syrian government forces.&nbsp; The Foreign Ministr…

Tillerson Lets Slip He Wants Regime Change in Iran And Rouhani is furious.

The Iran Puzzle – The New York Times President Trump insists on demonizing Iran, turning a complicated relationship into a volatile one.

Trump Is Tripping Over Iran and Russia’s Red Lines in Syria | Foreign Policy Moscow and Tehran know what they’re fighting for. Does Washington?

This Is How Great-Power Wars Get Started | Foreign Policy Not with a bang, but basic strategic confusion in Washington about the links between Syria, Qatar, Iran, and Russia.

Why Macron is wrong about Assad | Europe | Al Jazeera Bashar al-Assad is the enemy of all humanity, not just Syrians.

Yazidi unwittingly ate her son after ISIS cooked the child | Daily Mail Online The starving Yazidi woman had been kept captive in a cellar for days without food or water before she was tricked by her evil guards, according to MP Vian Dakhill.

Iraqi Forces Squeeze IS Into Final Streets As Mosul Residents Celebrate Eid U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have closed in on the final Islamic State (IS) militant holdouts in the Old City section of Mosul, as the culmination of an eight-month battle appeared to be near. …

U.S.-Backed SDF Captures District In Campaign Against IS In Raqqa A U.S.-backed Arab-Kurd coalition fighting Islamic State (IS) militants near Raqqa has captured the district of Al-Qadisia outside of the extremists' self-declared capital in Syria, militar…

A Military Assessment of the Islamic State’s Evolving Theory of Victory Brace for it, America. Terrorist attacks like those seen over the past 19 months in Western Europe will soon be occurring within the borders of the United


Harry J. Kazianis | Don’t Count on China to ‘Solve’ America’s North Korea Problem | The National Interest Blog While we hate the status quo on the Korean Peninsula, there are far worse outcomes, especially if America pressures China to “solve” North Korea.

Professor who criticized Otto Warmbier gets canned | New York Post A University of Delaware professor who caused outrage by criticizing the college student who died after being held prisoner in North Korea lost her adjunct…

How Did a Dead Otto Warmbier Get ‘Exactly What He Deserved’? An academic has been fired after heaping criticism on the student, who was declared dead on June 19 after being held captive in North Korea for 17 months.

Commentary: Trump should go easy on North Korea over Warmbier death | Reuters By Dan DePetrisOtto Warmbier was the quintessential American college student. He faced a promising future and was keen to broaden his view of the wor

Russia Settles For Undersized Role In China’s Flagship Trade Initiative  It's a &quot;great gift to humanity&quot; in the bumptious parlance of Beijing. China's grand plan to revamp trade corridors to Europe involves around 60 countries and hundreds of billion…

What China’s treatment of its most famous dissident says about its claim to global leadership – The Washington Post Politically, China is still more North Korea than the Netherlands.

Nobel Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo released from prison to hospital with terminal cancer: Shanghaiist

Liu Xiaobo: China’s mild-mannered political firebrand – Despite being one of China’s most famous political dissidents, Liu Xiaobo has rarely struck those who know him as a firebrand.

China’s All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens’ Faces – WSJ Facial-recognition systems crunch data from ubiquitous cameras in a vast social-engineering experiment. Petty offenders face public shaming.

Mongolia’s ruling party candidate loses in presidential race – The Washington Post The Mongolian ruling party’s candidate lost in presidential elections to a populist business tycoon and a nationalist wanting the country to benefit more from its mineral wealth, preliminary results early Tuesday showed. The election was headed for a runoff.

Mongolians Fret Over China Investment as They Prepare to Vote | World News | US News US News is a recognized leader in college, grad school, hospital, mutual fund, and car rankings. Track elected officials, research health conditions, and find news you can use in politics, business, health, and education.

Mongolians fret over China investment as they prepare to vote – By Terrence Edwards TSOGTTSETSII, Mongolia, June 25- A few miles from Mongolia’s giant Tavan Tolgoi mine, about 2,000 trucks a day set off across the.

Weary Mongolians vote after ‘dark’ campaigns | The Indian Express Voters have heard little from the three candidates about unemployment and jobs. The campaign was also marked by moments of anti-Chinese sentiment

How America and China Almost Started a Nuclear War over Taiwan | The National Interest Blog A forgotten Cold War tale. 

Foreign Policy Reports

Europe has been working to expose Russian meddling for years – To Inform is to Influence Full disclosure, I was one of those called about this article, as I’m sure many of my friends, colleagues, and acquaintances were, also.  Dana Priest, Michael Birnbaum, and Ellen Nakashima did an excellent job covering this challenging subject, I think. </end editorial> Participants of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum gather near an electronic screen…

Europe has been working to expose Russian meddling for years – The Washington Post Official and unofficial groups use a variety of tactics to counter fake news promulgated by Moscow.

Science Won’t Save Vaccines From Lawsuits Anymore | Foreign Policy Science Won’t Save Vaccines From Lawsuits Anymore « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas

US Domestic Policy Reports

Inside the West Wing Tug-of-War Over Russia and Ukraine – Defense One The president has been all over the map on Ukraine. The people around him have been much more consistent.

Russian Ambassador To US Sergey Kislyak Leaving – To Inform is to Influence I have different sources confirming that Sergey Kislyak is leaving the post of Ambassador to the United States. McFaul told about the imminent resignation of the Russian Ambassador Kislyak Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, according to some estimates, in the coming days will leave the diplomatic mission He’s not going far, however. I also…

Bill on new sanctions against Russia adopted in violation of procedure – White House The U.S. Senate adopted the bill on the introduction of new sanctions against Russia with procedural violations, so there is no new bill at this time, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told journalists at a briefing on June 26. News 27 June from UNIAN.

The truth about Russia, ‘hacking’ and the 2016 election | TheHill OPINION | If we convince our own voters that their votes don’t matter, we will have done the hackers work for them.

White House blames Obama for failing to stop Russia collusion – The Washington Post “They did absolutely nothing,” Kellyanne Conway said of the previous administration.

Transcript: Sen. Joe Manchin on “Face the Nation,” June 25, 2017 – CBS News Joe Manchin discusses latest on Russian efforts to undermine U.S. election system, new GOP health care bill

Trump: Clinton ‘colluded’ with party to beat Sanders – President Donald Trump lashed out at Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party in a tweet Sunday morning, saying the former secretary of state “colluded” with the party in the presidential primary to defeat Sen. Bernie Sanders.

SACPO finds no evidence of Manafort’s involvement in Yanukovych’s “black accounts”Head of the Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SACPO) Nazar Kholodnytskiy has said there is no signature of the ousted Ukrainian president's former adviser Paul Manafort on any page of the &quot;black accounts&quot; of Yanukovych's Regions Party, and information about his fault is just PR technology. News 27 June from UNIAN.

FBI has questioned Trump campaign adviser Carter Page at length in Russia probe – The Washington Post Former Trump campaign adviser denied wrongdoing during hours of interviews in March.

The FBI appears to be taking cues from the explosive Russia dossier that Trump called ‘phony’ | Business Insider The FBI extensively questioned Carter Page, an…

CIA chief: Intel leaks on the rise, cites leaker ‘worship’ – Fifth Domain | Cyber WASHINGTON (AP) — CIA Director Mike Pompeo says he thinks disclosure of America’s secret intelligence is on the rise, fueled partly by the “worship” of leakers like Edward Snowden. “In some ways, I do think it’s accelerated,” Pompeo told MSNBC in an interview that aired Saturday. “I think there is a phenomenon, the worship of Edward Snowden, and those who steal American secrets for the purpose of self-aggrandizement or money or for whatever their motivation may be, does seem to be on the increase.” Pompeo said the United States needs to redouble its efforts to stem leaks of classified information. “It’s tough. You now have not only nation states trying to steal our stuff, but non-state, hostile intelligence services, well-funded — folks like WikiLeaks, out there trying to steal American secrets for the sole purpose of undermining the United States and democracy,” Pompeo said. Besides Snowden, who leaked documents revealing extensive U.S. government surveillance, WikiLeaks recently released nearly 8,000 documents that it says reveal secrets about the CIA’s cyberespionage tools for breaking into computers. WikiLeaks previously published 250,000 State Department cables and embarrassed the U.S. military with hundreds of thousands of logs from Iraq and Afghanistan. There are several other recent cases, including Chelsea Manning, the Army private formerly known as Bradley Manning. She was convicted in a 2013 court-martial of leaking more than 700,000 secret military and State Department documents to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. Manning said she leaked the documents to raise awareness about the war’s impact on innocent civilians. Last year, former NSA contractor Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, was accused of removing highly classified information, storing it in an unlocked shed and in his car and home. Court documents say investigators seized, conservatively, 50 terabytes of information, or enough to fill roughly 200 laptop computers.

The Assault On A Soldier’s Right To Self-Defense – To Inform is to Influence On Thursday, 22 June 2017, Erica Gaston published a story on the Lawfare blog entitled Soldier Self-Defense and the Strikes in Syria. In the article, she describes the “lower barriers on use of force and can also potentially undermine domestic restrictions on engaging in armed conflict.” I am not a lawyer, nor do I pretend to…

US Preps for Limitless War With Proposed New ‘Space Corps’ Lawmakers in Washington are seeking to create a brand-new military branch – the first since the establishment of the US Air Force in 1947 – to make sure the country can wage war in space.



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