Kommersant Daily, Russia’s answer to the WSJ, observes that: “The US Congress has Included Russia in the World ‘Axis of Evil’ Together with Iran and North Korea,” noting that this is what offended Russians are saying! Russia only has itself to blame here. Russian aerial harassment in the media again. POTUS agrees to support new sanctions bill. EU objects and threatens counter-sanctions. Germany reacts badly to Siemens scandal. Swedish trial of Russia supported urban terrorists captures MSM interest. GRU recruitment of military personnel in AFU leads to discussion of similar risks in NATO nations formerly of the WarPac. Arrasmith and Avdaliana on the Russian strategy of partition and maintaining footholds in nations they are trying to hold on to – an expensive game that only works some of the time. More on Russia’s neo-Stalinism. Bashkir historian Kulsharipov observes that Russia at risk of the “a Yugoslav scenario” of internal inter-ethnic wars. More on “Zolotov’s Army”. Pussy Riot crowdfunding latest venture. More meltdown reports. Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe holds hearings on “Kleptocrats of the Kremlin”. More on MAKS-2017.
Lukashenko lambasted over Kyiv visit, by Belarusian opposition and Ukrainian critics.
Pro-Russian Moldovan President Dodon blames the West for its troubles on Russian TV.
Half a dozen more essays on Malorossiya – this item has genuine staying power, and most critics put the blame on Surkov in Moscow.
Amb Volker’s ‘Hot War’ comment producing a lot of MSM commentary, and lauded in Ukraine. Poroshenko engages in another fruitless Normandy meeting by phone. Gen Muzhenko and DEFMIN Poltorac detail the Russian buildup along Ukraine’s northern border. Over the weekend Russians attempt assaults at Svitlodarska Duha bulge (mouth of Debaltsevo salient), with 7 Russians KIA and 16 WIA. Latest Russian EPW claims that GRU Spetsnaz Capt. Evgeniy Erofeyev, swapped for Savchenko last year, was executed by Russia for saying too much whilst in custody.
Gen Thomas testifies that ISIS is broken, and al-Baghdadi exploited MSM leak to vanish. Russian language ISIS propagandists highly active.
China-India dispute continues.
Polish Pres Duda vetos two disputed bills in judiciary reform.
Prof Gregory report on Steele dossier is very good.
Russia / Russophone Reports
Paul Goble Staunton, July 24 – In his State of the Union address in January 2002, then-US President George W. Bush said Iran, Iraq and North Korea constituted “an axis of evil” because of their efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Now, a Moscow newspaper says, the US Congress has dropped Iraq from the list and put Russia in its place. In an article today entitled “The US Congress has Included Russia in the World ‘Axis of Evil’ Together with Iran and North Korea,” a group of journalists at Kommersant says that the House of Representatives has taken this step because of its opposition to a whole range of Russian actions (kommersant.ru/doc/3365795). These include, the paper says, Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea, its intervention in the Donbass and Syria, its attacks on the cybersecurity of the United States and other countries, a pattern of actions that House leaders say constitutes evidence that Moscow “by various means is threatening its neihgbors and trying actively to undermine American interests.” Not surprisingly, the Moscow paper speculates about how the Trump Administration will likely try to get around any measure the Congress passes and how Moscow may make use of this action, scheduled for a vote tomorrow, to exploit US-EU tensions and to bring a case against Washington at the World Trade Organization. But it acknowledges that the House measure which the Senate is likely to approve as well and which President Donald Trump, because of his domestic political difficulties, will have no choice but to sign not only strengthens the West’s sanctions regime against Russia but makes the a matter of law rather than policy, thus restricting Trump’s freedom of action. What the article doesn’t say but clearly suggests is that the inclusion of Russia on the “axis of evil” countries is something that will deeply offend most Russians and will only underscore the failure of the Kremlin to achieve a change in American policy by its interference in last year’s US elections. Moreover, this article does not mention something that may matter even more for the future. For the first time since the early years of Gorbachev’s times, American media outlets and American politicians are now routinely referring to Russia as “a hostile foreign power,” a sea change for which Vladimir Putin has only himself to blame.
Such actions could lead to a larger conflict. Last month, a Russian jet flew within five feet of a U.S. reconnaissance plane near the Baltic Sea. According to U.S. officials, the Russian Su-27 “rapidly” approached the U.S. RC-135 plane and acted “provocatively” by performing “unsafe” maneuvers. Russia’s Defense Ministry, for its part, blamed the U.S. plane for “making a provocative turn towards the Su-27” while being escorted away from Russia’s borders. Whatever the truth about this incident, it serves as a reminder of Moscow’s ceaseless belligerence toward NATO. Earlier this year, NATO reported an increase in European Quick Reaction Alert aircraft ‘Alpha’ (Air Policing) launches in response to Russian military aircraft from 400 (of a total of 480) in 2014 to 780 (of a total of 807) in 2016. Admittedly, a change in the way that NATO records such events accounts for some of this increase. But there was, nevertheless, a marked increase in Russian military air activity being monitored and responded to across NATO’s two Combined Air Operations Centres (CAOCs) in Europe—at Uedem in Germany, which covers northern Europe north of the Alps, and at Torrejon in Spain, which covers southern Europe south of the Alps. It is not just in Europe that Russian jets are buzzing the airspaces of NATO members. In April, two nuclear-capable Tu-95 Bear bombers were intercepted by two CF-18 fighter jets as they approached Canadian airspace. The following month, Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed that two Tu-95 Bear bombers, flanked by two multirole Su-35 fighter jets, had been intercepted by U.S. aircraft flying over the Alaska Air Defense Zone. This was not a one-off incident. In 2014, the U.S. intercepted Russian aircraft on fifteen occasions; and since then it has averaged around ten intercepts each year. During the Cold War, Soviet military activity in the vicinity of NATO members’ air space was commonplace. The point was to test out the defense systems of NATO members in the case of war. Today, the idea of war between Russia and NATO seems farfetched. So why does Russia rehearse such a scenario? Russia’s military activities serve a propaganda purpose. By demonstrating that its military can come so close to the air spaces of NATO members states, with little (if any) consequence, Moscow is able to showcase its apparent strength and the alliance’s apparent weakness. Such activities are one of few things that allows the Kremlin to look strong at home as well as abroad. They also serve a military purpose. Through them, Russia has been able to gain valuable information about the chain of command within the defense systems of NATO member states; the reaction times of various countries’ air forces and the capabilities of their pilots; and, the levels of cooperation between NATO members. Such intelligence-gathering is supplemented by the work of Russia’s human intelligence assets who recruit and run sources in the defense establishments of NATO countries. Knowing how NATO members react in an emergency gives Russia crucial insights into how they will behave in war. But Russia’s activities are not only a test of the West’s military readiness and preparedness; they are also a test of its own abilities to meet the various threats identified by the Kremlin. The modernization of Russia’s military, which began in 2008, includes not only a substantial investment in arms procurement, but also an improvement of the command-and-control systems, enhanced coordination between ministries and an intense program of exercises.
The White House says it is open to new legislation that would slap new sanctions on Russia and limit U.S. President Donald Trump's ability to ease or lift them by himself. The comments by Whit…
President Trump will support legislation slapping new sanctions on Russia, spokesperson Sarah Sanders said on "This Week" Sunday, according to ABC News. News 23 July from UNIAN.
Brussels fears effort to punish Moscow’s election meddling will hurt energy companies 4 HOURS AGO by: Jim Brunsden in Brussels and Courtney Weaver in Washington Brussels is preparing to retaliate against the US if Washington pushes ahead with far-reaching new sanctions on Russia that hit European companies. Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, has called…
Russia and the European Union are both expressing concern about proposed new U.S. sanctions against Moscow, focusing in particular on how they might affect joint energy projects. Russian Presiden…
‘The measures risk breaking the transatlantic and G7 unity,’ European Commission said in internal note.
Germany is urging the European Union to add up to four more Russian nationals and companies to the bloc’s sanctions blacklist over Siemens gas turbines delivered to Moscow-annexed Crimea, two sources in Brussels said.
Siemens management believed the Kremlin's promises that German turbines would not be delivered to the occupied Crimea, and as a result the company suffered irreparable damage, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin wrote in his op-ed for the Ukrainian media outlet, Europeiska Pravda. News 24 July from UNIAN.
Buzzfeed reporters obtained evidence earlier presented by Swedish prosecutors before the court in a trial against two Swedish Nazis, Viktor Melin and Anton Thulin, charged with committing a terrorist act against asylum seekers that the perpetrators had undergone training in Russia prior to the attack. Moreover, it was revealed that the two men had trained with paramilitaries who had fought alongside pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, Buzzfeed reports. The attackers weer spotted on a picture standing side by side holding machine guns and wearing fatigues, posted on the Russian social media network VK by the account belonging to the Partizan paramilitary training program in St. Petersburg. The course the Swedes have undergone likely included weapons training and mock military exercises with airsoft guns. Prosecutors also said geolocation data from the men’s phones showed they spent 11 days in Russia — giving them enough time to do the course — and police seized Russian-language notes on weapons and explosives when they raided one of the men’s apartment. The evidence prosecutors laid out to the judge could have far-reaching consequences throughout Europe. They showed how a war in Ukraine that has claimed thousands of lives had emboldened fringe nationalists deep inside the EU and built networks into Russia. Read also BBC: British man jailed for Ukraine terror offence Security analysts worry that the Ukraine conflict fueled a transformation of right-wing extremist groups across the West. “There’s a state actor or proxies for a state actor that is supporting these networks, and that’s a game changer,” said Alina Polyakova, director of research on Europe and Eurasia at the Atlantic Council. “I think that is the problem.” The case in Sweden shows just how these new international networks have unpredictable and dangerous consequences. The evidence suggests that the Swedish Nazis sought training in Russia precisely because they believed the current leaders of their Swedish Nazi organization were growing soft.
NATO now says it is alert to Russian attempts to undermine military loyalty in its eastern European members as Russian intelligence is trying to recruit ethnic Russians serving in the militaries of countries on its borders, one NATO commander told Reuters. News 24 July from UNIAN.
The career of Sergei Yeliseyev helps to explain why Ukraine’s armed forces gave up Crimea almost without a fight – and why NATO now says it is alert to Russian attempts to undermine military loyalty in its eastern European members.
On June 5, 2017, Montenegro became the 29th nation to join NATO. For the tiny Balkan nation of less than a million people, the hardships overcome in joining the international defense organization cannot be exaggerated. Less than a year earlier, the country reportedly averted a Russian-backed coup targeting the pro-Western government. Moreover, since their entrance into NATO, Russia has warned Montenegro of “negative consequences.” For Russia’s revanchist government, the slow drift of nations under their historical influence towards the West represents a challenge to its perceived prerogatives as a superpower. When dealing with these neighbors, Russia has adopted a curious policy unlike those of many other major powers. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has supported new “shadow states” carved from neighboring countries unfriendly to its interests. Instead of replacing an uncooperative regime, Russia partitions the country in the hopes of making it easier to subjugate. The practice is intended to reward foreign governments friendly to the Kremlin and punish those that are not, but as recent history would indicate, it has had varying degrees of effectiveness in different circumstances.
In recent weeks, interesting political and military developments have been taking place in the breakaway territories across the former Soviet Union. Military escalation in east Ukraine, continuing “border” movements in South Ossetia, and the coordinated actions of Kiev and Chisinau in Transnistria to strangle the Russian presence there, are good tools for Moscow to control the behavior of those countries trying to join the EU/NATO. However, it remains doubtful how successful Russia can be at pulling the strings in so many “theaters,” particularly as acting simultaneously on several fronts is so complicated militarily as well as financially. Exercising the Grand Strategy If Russia has a grand strategy in its foreign policy realm, it certainly involves the purposeful creation of conflict zones and their management across the post-Soviet space.The fall of the Soviet Union was indeed the biggest geopolitical setback for Moscow as the country instantly lost such large portions of land on a scale rarely, if ever, seen in recorded history. But keeping 11 buffer states around Russia has remained a cornerstone of the Kremlin’s foreign policy against Western influence. Politicians in Russia clearly saw that because of Russia’s low economic potential, the South Caucasus states would inevitably turn to Europe. The same would happen on Russia’s western frontier in Moldova and Ukraine, which have been more susceptible to Western economic and military potential because of geographic proximity and historical interconnections. And it can be rightly said that Russia has been quite successful in fomenting and managing Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and east Ukraine conflicts in the last 25 years. From Moscow’s perspective, through these conflicts Moldova’s, Georgia’s and Ukraine’s pro-western aspirations would be stopped if not permanently, then at least significantly hampered. Even in “Nagorno Karabakh,” where Russia was not an active player at the beginning, now sees Russia having the highest biggest stakes through which it exercises influence on Azerbaijan’s foreign policy and thus limits Baku’s potential to be more influential in such. However, it is becoming more and more difficult to manage five breakaway conflicts together. First, financial support for the regimes (except for “Nagorno Karabakh”) comes from Moscow. To this should be added military expenses related to the stationing of military bases there. Third, Russian support for breakaway regimes has created a veritable arc of anti-Russian states along almost the entirety of Russia’s southern and western borders.
Paul Goble Staunton, July 23 – Many expected that with the passage of time, new generations of Russians would reject the worst aspects of their country’s past such as Stalinism, but new polls show that support for Stalin and forgiveness of his crimes is greater among young people than among older groups. There are two explanations for this pattern, Moscow commentator Anton Orekh says. The first is the historical cruelty of the Russian people and their willingness to celebrate even the most horrific leaders if they are prepared to act in a cruel fashion toward those they identify as enemies (echo.msk.ru/blog/oreh/2022210-echo/). The second, he says, is that Russians even when they know the specific facts about the past – and some three-quarters of Russian young people who celebrate Stalin as a great leader do know such facts – subsume them under the Kremlin-promoted mythology about the Russian past as one great triumph after another, interrupted only occasionally by wreckers and foreigners. Consequently, young Russians who know something about the horrors of the GULAG and who even acknowledge specific crimes by Stalin are inclined to ignore these things as unimportant compared to the magisterial march forward of the Russian state and its cruel power over others. Thus, young people “simply do not understand what they in fact are approving [because] history in our country always is taught as something out of a comic book or poster. A history of victories, triumphs and achievements” in which “the powers are always inerrant and wise,” the Moscow commentator says. That means, he continues, that just providing younger Russians with more information about their country’s past will be insufficient to change their assessments of even its worst aspects, Orekh says; and it also means that the Kremlin by the historical images it promotes is opening the way for the rise of a new Stalin and a new Stalinist system.
Paul Goble Staunton, July 23 – At the end of Gorbachev’s times, the greatest fear in Western capitals was that the Soviet Union would, in the words of US Secretary of State James Baker, become “a Yugoslavia with nukes,” that is, a country that would fall apart in a series of violent spasms that would likely draw in other powers. The nations that then lay within the borders of the USSR and the world at large were remarkably fortunate that, thanks to the restraint of most in Moscow and the statesmanship of most non-Russian leaders and Western officials, such a horrific outcome did not occur and that the demise of the Soviet Union was relatively non-violent. Tragically, the Russian Federation is now led by an openly revanchist president who has called for a revision of the 1991 settlement, shown his willingness to use force in pursuit of that goal and displayed the kind of arrogant contempt for the more than a quarter of the population of the Russian Federation which is not ethnically Russian. Consequently, at a time when Vladimir Putin’s statements about the Russian language, the Russian nation and the supremacy over everything else of his power vertical, it is perhaps not surprising that some non-Russians are worried that the Kremlin leader is acting in ways that could make “a Yugoslav scenario” possible within the current borders of the Russian Federation. One is Marat Kulsharipov, an historian at Bashkir State University in Ufa, who told RFE/RL’s Tatar Service that Putin’s latest comments about the Russian language are simply “the latest step in his efforts to establish a civic Russian nation” and that it is sad that a senior official should “succumb” to such notions (azatliq.org/a/28630082.html in Tatar; idelreal.org/a/reaction-tatarstana-na-slova-putina-o-russkom-yazike/28630471.html in Russian). And he makes the following additional and disturbing point: “Russia [now] is going along the path of the former Yugoslavia, conducting a policy against the preservation of language, history and traditions of the non-Russian peoples. This is being done on the sly,” but nonetheless consistently and thus dangerously. Just how explosive the situation may be thanks to Putin’s insensitive chauvinism is shown by the comments of two senior figures in Tatarstan, which suggest that Kazan is in no mood prepared to back down in the face of Putin’s drive, and by those of Sakha parliamentarian which underscores how other non-Russians are viewing the current Moscow-Kazan clash. Tatarstan’s education minister Engel Fttakhov declared that “In Tatarstan, Tatar is the state language for everyone. This is written black on white in our Constitution. We are acting in the framework of the law. A consensus has been achieved. [Our] educational programs correspond to federal standards.” And Rafael Khakimov, former advisor to former Tatarstan President Mintimir Shaymiyev and currently vice president of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences, was even more pointed: “Tatarstan has its own constitution and its own law on state languages … the Supreme Court of Russia … recognizes this as absolutely lawful.” “In order to exclude instruction in Tatar, it would be necessary to change the [Tatarstan] Constitution,” the academician said. “We hope things will not go that far.” Meanwhile, Ivan Shamayev, a Sakha parliamentarian, told RFE/RL’s Tatar Service that Putin’s comments on language instruction were directed “above all at Tatarstan. It turns out that only in that republic does instruction of the national language remain [a requirement]. If Tatarstan will be able to respond to this pressure in a worthy manner, we will applaud, standing.” “In the national republics, instruction in state languages should be obligatory,” Shamayev said. “But de facto, for a long time already, this has not been the case in all republics. [What Putin said] is what he really wants. The national republics will be forced to bear the burden of preserving their own languages by themselves.” And he continued, “In the Komi republic, Komi isn’t taught; in Buryatia, the same thing is true and these languages are at risk of disappearing. But in Tatarstan, the situation is different. It provides an example to many. I hope that the republics will defend their national rights.”
How Putin’s ‘personal army’ is evolving one year after its creation. Pavel Luzin Russia’s National Guard (Ros Gvardia) – has been in existence for just over a year. It is already well known for regularly buying new weapons and for its brutal tactics when dispersing civil demonstrations. National Guard comprises between 350-400 thousand people, which exceeds the number of Russian land forces (which amount to at most 290 thousand). At the same time, the power of the president’s ‘personal army’ can be used not just within the country but also abroad. In this context, a question arises: can Vladimir Putin rely on these forces to keep him in power? A new pillar of power The creation of National Guard in the spring of 2016 was perceived by some experts as an attempt by Vladimir Putin to weaken the position of the existing special services in Russia’s hierarchy. The creation of a new ‘power agency’, headed by Viktor Zolotov, who had been the chief of the Putin’s security guards for a long time, seemed to verify this explanation. However, let us not forget that Zolotov had commanded internal troops since May 2014 under the Ministry of Internal Affairs (and had been the deputy commander since September 2013). His formal position did not interfere with his informal status as Putin’s trusted accomplice. According to another interpretation, the creation of the national guard enabled the withdrawal of the most combat-capable Chechen units of the internal troops out of Ramzan Kadyrov’s control. Allegedly, the cumbersome management structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not allow the Kremlin to fully control them. However, this version does not add up: today, the national guard units in Chechnya are headed by Sharip Delimkhanov, the younger brother of Adam Delimkhanov, Kadyrov’s right hand. In fact, the Chechen dictator still has his own army. The internal troops were originally created by the Bolsheviks in 1918-1919 to retain and strengthen their power in territories under their control. Later on, the main goal of their existence remained unchanged: to ensure the suppression of any mass civil resistance. Interestingly, after the collapse of the USSR, the new Russian government did not dissolve the internal troops. They continued to be equipped with heavy firearms, armoured vehicles, artillery and aircraft, and carried out a wide range of tasks, ranging from dispersals of demonstrations to wars in Chechnya. Therefore, their separation as an independent special service in 2016 must have been caused by more complex considerations than the competition among the rank and file of the Kremlin’s siloviki. First of all, already by 2013 the Kremlin started to believe in an illusion of ‘colour revolutions’ organised from the outside. However, this irrational fear a partial basis in reality. Russia’s development was no longer possible without a change in its power structures. However, any change of power would inevitably lead to a situation where a significant part of the Russian ruling class would lose its immense wealth and privileges, and some might also lose their freedom.
The Russian punk group aims to raise $80,000 for an “immersive theater experience” in November.
23/07/2017 Hundreds of people have marched through central Moscow calling for internet freedom. Protesters from various social movements including the opposition Parnas party carried posters and chanted slogans against Russia’s censorship rules and hard line on what it calls, extremist propaganda. Some people also shouted ‘Russia without Putin’. When asked why he attended the march,…
Yuri Dmitriev dedicated his life to finding the mass graves of thousands of Stalin’s victims. Now, friends and colleagues say the government is trying to silence him with trumped-up criminal charges.
A Russian opposition activist who is in prison after being convicted of assaulting police during a protest has started a hunger strike. Rights activist Yelena Efros told Ekho Moskvy radio on Jul…
Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak says Nigeria and Libya should join an agreement brokered by OPEC, Russia, and others to cut oil output as soon as the two countries’ output stabilizes. …
By Paul Goble 2017/07/24 – 00:51 “There are achievements which it would be better not to have,” opposition Russian politician Gennady Gudkov says, and over the last two decades of Vladimir Putin, Russia has “achieved” ever more of these, something Russians should reflect upon when thinking about the current ruler and the future. Among the worst, he says, is that…
Since its first appearance at MAKS in 2011, the Sukhoi PAK FA T-50 has continued to raise the bar in terms of aerobatic performance—which it continued at this year’s air show in Zhukovsky. The flying display also included the Mikoyan MiG-35 and Yakovlev Yak-152.
Paul Goble Staunton, July 23 – Like their Russian counterparts, Kazakh experts have long debated the relative strength of civic and ethnic attachments, Gulmira Ileuova says; but in many ways doing so has distracted attention from a far more important development: the rise and intensification of a wide variety of identities from familial and local to more global ones. Commenting on a recent Almaty roundtable on “Traditional Mentality and Modernization: Pitfalls and Possibilities,” the Kazakh sociologist says her colleagues in the 1990s focused primarily on how strong Soviet identities had remained in Kazakhstan and only later on the balance between civic and ethnic ones (365info.kz/2017/07/kuda-idet-kazahstanskaya-natsiya-ili-kem-sebya-schitayut-kazahstantsy/). In the first decade after independence, Kazakhs shifted from identifying with “one large identity” – as Soviets – to another one – as Kazakhstantsy. But over time, “significant changes occurred, migration increased, and local identities strengthened. As a result, the most important question became “’where are you from?’ not ‘who are you?’” She argues that this diversity of self-identifications will only increase, something that may open the way to “consolidation on some entirely new basis. But this will happen only after another ten years.” In 2004, Ileuova says she found that 57 percent of citizens of Kazakhstan identified in the first instance as such, 26 percent listed their local identity first, and only 4.9 percent listed ethnic identification. Religion was only rarely a primary identity. Civic national identity rose to 71 percent in 2012 before falling back to 62 percent in 2016; local identity fell to 17 percent in the first of these years and then recovered to 23 percent in the latter. Ethnic and religious identities remained relative low, the sociologist reports. But she does note that Kazakhs more than other ethnic groups there are interested in how people identify. Ileuova concludes with the following observation: “With time we may encounter definite challenges from the point of view of issues of integrating various groups of the population of the country. At the same time, one cannot fail to note that the developing multiplicity of identities still hasn’t changed interethnic relations.” But clearly identities will continue to change rather than shift permanently from one thing to another, the sociologist suggests.
The arrival of the Russian military is reported by the Ministry of Defense of Belarus. On July 23, the Russian military started to arrive in Belarus. This is happening as part of planned preparations for the joint Belarusian-Russian strategic exercises West-2017. The Belarusian Defense Ministry press service clarifies that the first to arrive are the materiel support units of the Western Military District of the Russian Armed Forces. Military authorities, formations, military and materiel support units of Belarus and Russia will take part in the joint special exercises. Together, the Belarusian and Russian military will prepare the points and facilities for managing the formations, military units and technical support organizations of the armed forces of the two countries. They also need to equip the areas of practical operations of the troops.
Ridiculous attempts to explain the visit of Lukashenka to Kyiv. It was fun to observe the way our experts tried to logically explain the visit of Lukashenka to Ukraine. I know a holiday is what they lust after. But even an expectation of a miracle in a foreign policy should not deprive those who call themselves experts of the ability to think. For that matter, all those who are trying to trumpet the latest foreign political holiday appeal to two “victories”/pluses based on results of the action: – Ukraine made Russia worry while carrying on a scheme with Minsk behind the back of Moscow. And this, allegedly, has promoted the country’s own security also against the background of upcoming Russia-Belarus military exercises and Belarusians’ concerns about the Russian expansion; – The visit works in favor of the economy and the trade. A desire of independent experts to help the Ukrainian authority to explain its policy is good. But it should be done wisely. Otherwise, the result will be opposite to the one expected. For example, on pages of Ukrainskaya Pravda Olesya Yakhno concludes that only citizens of Belarus with their internal political reasons could oppose the visit of Lukashenka. “Internal political reasons” include the use of the death penalty, persecution and neutralization of the opposition, the silencing of dissent. Well, really, why should Ukrainians be concerned about internal political problems of Belarus? However, reasons exist. First of all, it is extremely bad when experts who sometimes can be suspected of Ukrainian leanings (some representatives in power) try to minimize the role and meaning of the situation with freedoms in the neighbouring country. No, it does not damage bilateral Belarus-Ukraine relations, but the Ukrainian domestic policy. Suspicions, you know, start to rise. And it promotes lower rating of the power. Thus, that’s why I insist on a wise help. Second, the situation with human rights and freedoms in Belarus cannot be ignored by Ukraine because we should pursue a coherent foreign policy stipulated by the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU. As we know, Lukashenka and Belarus still fall under European sanctions under which the Belarusian leader is not welcomed in Europe. Especially with official visits. Third, murders in the Maidan could also be called “internal political reasons”. But we had hope on support and solidarity of the world, didn’t we? So does it entitle us to ignore the same needs of the Belarusians? The status of the Lukashenka’s visit is the issue of a small circle. An official one is a very high status of a visit. It requires good reasons and an extremely high level of political relations. What do our relations with Belarus look like? Like an empty space. Belarus does not recognize the territorial integrity of Ukraine. The position is fixed at the level of the UN resolution. And, of course, on the same web pages of the Ukrainskaya Pravda a younger generation of experts can enjoy Belarus-Ukraine relations as much as wish within the framework of the next session of the PA OSCE, but this does not change the result of the UN voting in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine in 2014. And it’s a shameless lie in favor of Minsk to state that Belarus has not recognized the annexation of the Crimea. The current state of political relations in its entirety (and not only in the context of Poroshenko’s statement that Lukashenka is his friend) is rather a reason to dissolve diplomatic relations than to welcome the leader of the foreign enemy with an official visit. Moreover, the “coincidence” of the visit with the murder anniversary of Pavel Sheremet is unique and idiotic. Our diplomats fail to see an entire gamut. Perhaps, some Ukrainian experts really believe that the security of northern borders of Ukraine is guaranteed by two-hour tete-a-tete negotiations between Poroshenko and Lukashenka. I think that the military threat is more about intentions and resources, and also about the balance of forces and interests. I would not hurry to fall for some promises of Lukashenka regarding future military maneuvers with the Russians because of two reasons: – First, these maneuvers are the threat to NATO countries (and, apparently, NATO understands this well without such “tricky” Ukrainian tips and signals such as Lukashenka’s official visit to Kyiv) – Second, there is no reason to believe that Aliaksandr Lukashenka will be able to resist if Russia decides to use Belarus as a springboard for aggression against Ukraine (or other states). Neither Aliaksandr Lukashenka, nor his state are independent political, economic and military players. Therefore, a sincere joy of any assurances from Lukashenka can only testify to poor judgement of his Ukrainian respondents. And I will never believe that Ukrainians somehow “tear off” Lukashenka and Belarus from Russia through such simple manipulations (friendly gatherings in Kyiv). In fact, they only play up to the ruler of Belarus in his endless game of begging Russians to save his regime.
The Russian puppet only pretends independent. Aliaksandr Lukashenka uses his visit to Kyiv to demonstrate his relations with the Ukrainian side to the West, coordinator of the European Belarus civil campaign Zmitser Bandarenka stated in the commentary to the Gordon publication . “Belarus has a very difficult economic situation. GDP has not been growing for six years. And, of course, the war in the Donbass has reduced the trade turnover between Ukraine and Belarus. And the situation requires resolution. In my opinion, Lukashenka represents, among other things, the Russian side on these negotiations. After all, the trade turnover between Ukraine and the Russian Federation has also declined. And some of deals that Kyiv and Moscow used to make directly, now go through Minsk. Plus, Lukashenka demonstrates his relations with Ukraine to the West. And don’t pay attention to the fact that Russian troops are in Belarus. Paratroopers, tankmen and artillerymen from Russia deploy near Brest and Hrodna, Bandarenka noted. According to him, Russian-Belarusian exercises West-2017 jeopardize the security of Ukraine and the Baltic States. “Belarus is not a donor of the regional security now. Large-scale joint exercises with Russia are a direct threat primarily to the Baltic countries, as well as to Ukraine. In reality Lukashenka is a Russian puppet. But he needs to play independence. In fact, Lukashenka is more interested in Russia than in Belarus in negotiating in Ukraine. (All 4.5 million tons of Belarusian oil products supplied to Ukraine are made from Russian oil). In general, I want to warn Ukrainians that the dictatorship is contagious. The phrase “your father” sounds insulting to us. I am delighted with the action of Belarusians in Kyiv, and the slogan “To Some Luka Is Father, To Others Is Uncle D*ckhead. ” They voiced the point of view of patriots of Belarus. Lukashenka made millions of Belarusians leave their country. So be careful,” – Bandarenka stressed.
A democratic society could have given Lukashenka a worse quarter in Kyiv. Former Ukrainian ambassador to Belarus, a famous Ukrainian politician Roman Bezsmertny stated that. “Why is there Femen in the Presidential Administration?” It is a revenge! This is the revenge for the action in December 2011 in Minsk. I worked as ambassador of Ukraine in Belarus then. I remember how a consul and I were looking for girls in district police departments, in the KGB. They hid them from us. But for the pressure of the embassy, I could not even imagine what it would end with. Girls were found painted with brilliant green paint in the forest near the border! Does Lukashenka deserve such a reception? Yes! This is too gentle option for the dictator! I do not know how the Femen representative found herself in the Administration… A democratic society could have given Lukashenka a worse quarter! I have always supported and respected friends-Belarusians, presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, Natallia Radzina, Zmitser Bandarenka and many others!” Roman Bezsmertny wrote on Facebook. When commenting on Lukashenka’s visit to Kyiv the politician said in the interview to Radio Svaboda: “The visit was official. According to the protocol, the date was determined as least six months before the event. This is not a today-tomorrow visit. The circumstances of the visit of the person with “collective farm” syndrome are clear. Ukraine has other problems and priorities. This is the situation when the Ukrainian party finds its reasonable to consider Lukashenka “pseudo-president”: the control over the economy, the policy, the army is not in his but in the Kremlin’s hands. On the other hand, Ukraine today has colossal needs for military-technical cooperation because of the war. Ukraine lacks components of weapons, spare parts, details to equipment, which both countries inherited from the USSR. These inconsistencies, insignificant phrases at the joint briefing have their ground. Most likely, the issue of military-technical cooperation was discussed separately. Let’s pay attention to the route – Minsk-Moscow, Minsk-Kyiv. Lukashenka saves himself. His rating is all-time low. I would not recommend Ukrainian presidents call Lukashenka “a friend.” All his assurances that “the war will not begin” … He himself must be afraid. A part of troops that come from Russia to exercises West-2017 will not leave Belarus. Russia’s strategic calculations are based on confrontation with NATO forces. New tactical units and personnel of NATO countries are deployed in Lithuania, Poland and other Baltic States. It is obvious that now Putin will deploy equipment and personnel at two military bases at the forefront. Knowing this, both sides have been silent today and only talked about things causing no argues. In 2011 the trade turnover amounted to $7 billion and today it hardly exceeds $2 billion. The largest joint Ukrainian-Belarusian projects – electricity export, cooperation on oil refining – are failed. What kind of trust can we talk about?” Bezsmertny wonders.
Angelika explained. Angelika Diash is the activist, who on July 21 laid her breast with the inscription “Long Live Belarus” bare at the meeting of Lukashenka and Petro Poroshenko in Kiev. The girl was kept in the police for a night and released under a written undertaking not to leave the place only in the evening of July 22. Angelika toldnn.by about the reasons of her extraordinary behavior. – Where are you now, how are you? – I’m finally at large. Yesterday I was kept at the Administration for 2 hours, then the lawyer was not allowed at the police station for a long time. The police did not know what to do with me, they asked different questions … In principle, they treated me normally, there was no violence. But it was psychologically difficult. – Were you ready to spend a night at the police? – No, I did not think and did not expect that I would spend the night at the police station. – And what about the fake journalist’s ID? Did you make it yourself, or where it came from? – I am not giving any comments on this topic. – Was your aim to protest in front of Lukashenka? Why? – Yes, in front of Lukashenka, but not only in front of him, it was a protest in front of the Ukrainians, in front of everyone. Lukashenka is a people’s traitor, a dictator. The Belarusian people are unconsenting in their own state: there’s a million of restrictions … Dictators are not to exist in the world. I have always been and always will be against the dictatorship. – Have you ever been to Belarus? – Yes. About three or four years I visited Homel on business-related matters. – And what were your impressions? – I was amazed that the city just died at night. – And what do you do? How do you keep yourself? – By teaching English, I’m a teacher by training. I am engaged in photo sessions – I have my photographs taken, I take photos myself … I am engaged in various creative work. – It is often said that FEMEN pays money to activists. – It’s a lie, it doesn’t pay money. I did not do it for money. What I did is coming from my beliefs. – You have been in FEMEN since 2009 – that is, in fact, from the age of 18? – For the first time I heard about it in my hometown, in Khmelnitsky. I have always been fighting against injustice. And then just joined the women’s movement to continue this fight.
The escalation of the conflict in Transnistria benefits Western forces who may wish to involve Russia in the crisis. This opinion was voiced on Saturday by Moldovan President Igor Dodon on Rossiya 24 TV channel. “The destabilization of the situation in this region would be interesting for someone in the West trying to drag Russia into some kind of conflict here. But I, as the President of the Republic of Moldova, will do everything possible to ensure that there is no destabilization,” he said. Furthermore, Dodon promised to oppose the installation of Moldovan-Ukrainian checkpoints at the border with Transnistria if they would cause economic damage to Tiraspol. “For my part, as the President of the Republic of Moldova, I can guarantee that we will do everything possible to keep Transnistria from this loss. If this leads to economic loss, I will advocate that these checkpoints never exist,” the President stressed. Earlier, Russia expressed regret for the official launch of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border and customs control checkpoint Kuchurgan-Pervomaisk. According to Artem Kozhin, the Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the launch of the checkpoint ignores “known concerns of Transnistria regarding the steps that Chisinau and Kyiv made without consulting with Tiraspol.” The Kuchurgan-Pervomaisk checkpoint was opened by President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister of Moldova Pavel Filip on July 17. Officials guaranteed that this would improve security on this section of the border and bring more convenience for businessmen and residents of Transnistria. It is expected that more such joint checkpoints will be opened in the near future. However, Transnistrian authorities fear that border control on the part of Chisinau, with which Tiraspol conducts negotiations on the settlement of the conflict, will make it possible to exert pressure on the unrecognized republic.
Republicii Moldova Historical Statement: MEPs demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova
Monday, July 24, 2017 The Prime Minister of the Government of Moldova, Pavel Filip on Friday had a conversation with visiting Romanian counterpart, Mihai Tudose about the privatisation programme of the Moldovan state-run companies and launched an invitation to the Romanian companies to invest in his country. “We have reiterated our interest in furthering the Romanian investments in Moldova. We’ve talked about the privatisation programme we have here in Chisinau and …
EVENT On 21 July 2017, Moldova’s Monitorul Oficial published the new law to introduce a mixed electoral system. The law, which takes immediate effect, was approved by the Moldovan parliament on 20 July, by 74 out of 101 votes, and obtained prompt ratification from the President, Igor Dodon of PRSM.
A recent declaration of independence in Ukraine’s eastern occupied territories, while far from credible, provides some clues about the political situation in the region.
The Donetsk journalist tells about the new joint name of unrecognised LNR and DNR
Whenever the Kremlin or its proxies dream up a new name for Ukraine, it’s often a sure sign that trouble is on the way. Russia’s war in the Donbas of course commenced as Kremlin spinmeisters coined the term Novorossia to refer to the crescent-shaped strip of land stretching from Kharkiv in the north to Odesa in the south. Now, it’s tempting to dismiss as absurd calls last week by the Moscow-backed separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko to replace Ukraine with a new state called Malorossia, with its capital in Donetsk. WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical But while it may be tempting, it’s probably not a good idea. Because this little effort at rebranding comes at a time when Moscow is desperately trying to reset the war in Ukraine. It comes as SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak said Russia is escalating its efforts to destabilize Ukraine by “organizing artificial provocative protests.” It comes in the aftermath of the assassination of two Ukrainian military intelligence officers. And perhaps most significantly, it’s been blessed by Vladislav Surkov, the Kremlin’s point man on Ukraine policy. Russia doesn’t want or need a frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine. The war in the Donbas has always been a means to the end of crippling and controlling the entire country. And the Malorossia gambit is a clear signal that Moscow is unhappy with the status quo and is preparing to shake it up. Whenever Russia dreams up new names for Ukraine, we should always pay attention.
ON MY MIND Russia appears ready to switch to Plan C on Ukraine. Plan A, of course, was to seize all of that which Moscow called Novorossia, the crescent-shaped strip of land stretching from Kharkiv to Odesa, creating a land bridge to Crimea. That plan failed when locals in much of eastern Ukraine proved more loyal to Kyiv than expected and the Ukrainian armed forces performed much better than anybody dared hope. The Kremlin then switched to Plan B: Force Kyiv to reintegrate the Moscow-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts into a decentralized (and dysfunctional) Ukraine. But Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has played a very bad hand very well and has prevented Moscow from getting its way in implementing the Minsk peace deal. And now, with the call by Moscow-backed separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko for a new state called Malorossia, with its capital in Donetsk, to replace Ukraine, it appears Russia is shifting to Plan C: a fresh effort to destabilize Ukraine.As I note on today’s Daily Vertical, when Russia starts dreaming up new names for Ukraine, it’s usually a sign that trouble is on the way.
The West seeks to revive peace talks on Ukraine. And Russia moves to rebrand the war. On this week’s Power Vertical Briefing, we look ahead to efforts by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to revive the Minsk peace process; and at the call by Moscow-backed separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko to replace Ukraine with a new state called Malorossia, with its capital in Donetsk. Joining me is RFE/RL News Editor Steve Gutterman.
This week (July 18), Alexander Zakharchenko, the Russia-backed leader of the self-proclaimed and Moscow-supported “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DPR), declared that a new state—“Malorossia” or “Little Russia”—must be created to replace the present Ukrainian “failed state.” According to Zakharchenko, the regime in Kyiv has failed, and the only way to stop the conflict in Donbas and to maintain Ukrainian territorial unity is to reinvigorate the failed state as a federalized Malorossia that will have two official languages—Russian and “Malorossian” (Ukrainian). This new country would then become part of a joint union state with Russia and Belarus “while continuing to be independent and sovereign.” All attempts to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the European Union would be repudiated by the new Malorossia government. The capital of the new state would be Donetsk instead of Kyiv. Selected delegates from different regions of Ukraine will be gathered to form a constitutional assembly to inaugurate Malorossia (RIA Novosti, July 18). The Malorossia declaration by Zakharchenko was condemned in Kyiv and in the West for undermining the Minsk Two (signed in February 2015) roadmap to peace in Donbas. France and Germany called on Russia to condemn the Malorossia project as “unacceptable” and to concentrate on implementing the Minsk Two protocols. The initial reaction in Moscow was mixed. The Russian representative in the Minsk “Contact Group”—Boris Grizlov, an old-time Kremlin insider from St. Petersburg—told reporters the Malorossia initiative “does not comply with the Minsk process and could be treated as a discussion point as part of information warfare and a reaction to provocative statements coming from Kyiv.” Some Russian parliamentarians supported Zakharchenko, while others expressed doubts, insisting the Malorossia idea is “impractical and badly thought through.” Within the Russian-controlled part of Donbas, different pro-Russia separatist leaders also expressed misgivings about Malorossia (RIA Novosti, July 18). An opinion seems to have formed in the Russian media that Zakharchenko is a crazy separatist, who does not really know what he is talking about and has embarrassed the Russian authorities by publicly undermining the Minsk Two protocols, which Russia officially supports (Kommersant, July 20). Ukrainian observers insisted the Malorossia plan was a “provocation” invented in the Kremlin—it was a way for Zakharchenko and the Russia-backed rebels in Donbas to remind the West about their existence and possibly instigate some Western pressure on the Ukrainian authorities to make concessions. Ukrainian experts seem to believe the provocative statement by Zakharchenko about a fictitious Malorossia cannot be a prelude to a serious escalation in the Donbas fighting, “since this would destroy the Russian diplomatic game of portraying Kyiv as the bad guy that is failing to implement Minsk Two” (Segodnya.ua, July 18). The situation has turned out to be more complicated, however. President Vladimir Putin’s aide Vladislav Surkov is the Kremlin’s point man on everything concerning Ukraine. He is a true decision maker (together with Putin), unlike Grizlov or any Russian parliamentarians. On July 19, he was reported to have actually supported Zakharchenko at a meeting with experts in the Kremlin. Surkov reportedly said, “All this hype about the fantasy Malorossia state is good—it emphasizes that Donbas is fighting not to separate from Ukraine but for its territorial integrity, for all of Ukraine and not for a part. There is a civil war in Ukraine between forces that see its future differently: Kyiv wants a pro-European utopia, Donbas replies with the idea of Malorossia” (RIA Novosti, July 19). Surkov’s spin of the Malorossia idea seems to be more than just a way to cover up the embarrassment of a faulty move by Zakharchenko. It is in line with the Kremlin’s longstanding strategic goal to take back all of Ukraine under Russian domination as part of the so-called “Russkiy Mir” (“Russian World”). In essence, Zakharchenko followed up with what the Kremlin has been seeking to obtain all along. Speaking to reporters in Hamburg this month, after meeting President Donald Trump during the G20 summit, Putin once again insisted: “I am absolutely sure the interests of Ukraine and Russia, of the Ukrainian and Russian people fully match, but the interests of Ukrainian leaders and some political forces in Ukraine are different.” Putin accused the Ukrainian leadership of deliberately trying to separate the Ukrainian and Russian people and states, which need and want to be together to jointly develop and build a future. Putin accused Ukraine’s leaders of “trading in Russophobia” to please the West, which appears intent not to allow Russia and Ukraine to move any closer, at any cost. “I believe this situation will end eventually, and we are interested in it ending as soon as possible,” continued Putin (Kremlin.ru, July 8). The fighting in Donbas has been increasing after the Putin-Trump summit. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) special observer mission in Donbas, there has been a 20 percent increase in ceasefire violations in the week after the G20 summit (Militarynews.ru, July 18). According to official Ukrainian military sources, on July 19 alone, nine Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five more wounded in renewed clashes along the eastern frontline. These losses seem to indicate a dramatic increase in violence (Militarynews.ru, July 20). Meanwhile, the cost of keeping part of Donbas as a Russia-controlled enclave is growing for Moscow, as the fighting continues to simmer while its social and economic infrastructure degrades. But the Kremlin does not need a “frozen conflict” in Donbas with an ever-growing price tag, when the real goal is to take and “integrate” the entirety (or most) of Ukraine. According to Putin, the true enemy is the regime in Kyiv and its Western backers. And it seems increasingly unlikely that these enemies can be defeated by Russia simply maintaining the status quo in eastern Ukraine, instead of going all in to end “this situation as soon as possible,” to quote Putin (Kremlin.ru, July 8).
The new U.S. special envoy for Ukraine peace negotiations said he was stunned by the number of cease-fire violations in the ex-Soviet nation’s war-torn east after making his first visit to th…
United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker says that it is a hot war in Donbas rather than a frozen conflict, according to the press center of the ATO Headquarters. News 23 July from UNIAN.
By Natalia Zinets and Matthias Williams KIEV (Reuters) – Russian aggression is to blame for violence in eastern Ukraine, where people are dying in what should be seen as a “hot war” rather than a “frozen conflict”, the U.S. special envoy to the Ukraine peace talks said on a visit to Ukraine on Sunday. Kurt…
The world community should impartially evaluate the situation in east of Ukraine and support the Ukrainian efforts to defend territorial integrity and sovereignty. Minister of Defence of Ukraine General of the Army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak wrote on his FB page. “Situation in Donbas is not a frozen conflict. Every day, people die and suffer in east of Ukraine. Professional Russian military orchestrate the militants’ actions. For example, we have detained Russian service member Aheyev recently,” he wrote. General Poltorak reiterated his concerns about upcoming Russian Exercise Zapad 2017, “We do not rule out RF possible provocations. In these cases Ukraine will have to respond.” Minister of Defence valued constructive work of experts and US Special Envoy in Ukraine Kurt Volker during visit.
Defense Minister of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak is pleased with the assessment of the events in Donbas by U.S. State Department’s Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker. “I note the constructive work of U.S. Special Representative Kurt Volker during his visit. The world community fairly assesses the events in Ukraine,” Poltorak wrote on his Twitter on Monday. As reported, on July 7, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appointed former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker the special representative for Ukraine. He coordinates the efforts of the State Department to resolve the conflict in Ukraine. His first visit to Ukraine took place on July 9-11, during which he held a number of meetings with the leadership of the country in Kyiv.
24.07.17 12:49 – Armed conflict in Donbas is not frozen, – Poltorak The Donbas events have received a fair assessment by U.S. Special Envoy on Ukraine Kurt Volker. View news.
US envoy called Donbas conflict a war. Kurt Volker of the State Department visited Avdiyivka. Main – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today
The President called the last days of July one of the bloodiest in 2017 and urged Russia to immediately cease aggressive actions and supply of weapons to the occupied territories.
Poroshenko held phone conversation in Normandy format. Macron and Merkel condemned the statement on the creation of “Malorossiya” unacceptable. Main – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today
During talks between the leaders of the so-called Normandy Four (Ukraine, Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia) Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on the Russian side to immediately stop aggression and supplies of arms to occupied territories in eastern Ukraine.
24.07.2017 16:00. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has participated in the phone conversation in the Normandy format and called on Russia to immediately stop its aggressive actions and supplies of weapons to the occupied territories of Ukraine.
A Skype conference for the contact group on the release of hostages, as well as all other groups of the Tripartite Contact Group (TCG) on the …
Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko has announced that Russia has recently increased its military presence on the Ukrainian border, having massed three divisions of motorized rifle troops capable of conducting rapid offensive operations. “These are the 3rd (permanently based in Valuyki, Russia’s Belgorod Oblast), the 144th (Smolensk, Smolensk Oblast) and the 150th (Novocherkassk, Rostov Oblast) divisions of motorized rifle troops. It is very symbolic that the Russian leaders have chosen to deploy these units near the eastern borders of Ukraine on a permanent basis,” the General Staff’s press service quoted Muzhenko as saying on Facebook on Sunday, July 23. According to him, their organization and establishment, as well as the armament and military equipment they have in use indicate that these Russian divisions are strike forces and are capable of conducting rapid offensive operations. One division consists of from 5,000 to 20,000 servicemen.
The Russian Federation has increased its military presence on the border with Ukraine by three motorized rifle divisions, the press service of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on its Facebook page on Sunday.
Ukrainian Minister of Defense Stepan Poltorak claims that the joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise Zapad 2017 scheduled for September could be used by Russia to stage an actual invasion of any neighboring country. “Ukraine and the world have a common vision of the prospects for the exercise conducted by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The forthcoming West-2017 exercises will be extremely powerful. They could be used to launch an aggressive action not only against Ukraine but against any country in Europe that has a common border with Russia,” he wrote on Facebook. Poltorak stressed that he will “respond adequately” to the conduct of these exercises. Ukraine and the eastern European countries of NATO fear that Zapad-2017 might be used as a “Trojan horse” that would allow Russia to leave transported military equipment in key positions. NATO officials believe that Russia has already used such tactics during the annexation of the Crimea, in the Donbas and in Syria. Earlier, Estonian Defense Minister Margus Tsahkna also said that Russian troops could remain stationed in Belarus after the September exercises. Zapad-2017 exercises will be held simultaneously on several training grounds in Russia and Belarus from September 14 to September 20 this year. Announcing the maneuvers, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu called them “the main event of joint training of Russian and Belarusian armed forces in 2017.”
24.07.2017 12:57. Defense Minister of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak says he doesn’t rule out possible provocations from the side of the Russian Federation during the Russian-Belarusian military exercise Zapad 2017.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak has said that the armed conflict in Donbas is not a frozen one, adding that he does not rule out provocations by the Russian Federation under far-fetched pretexts. News 24 July from UNIAN.
After 18:00 on Sunday, July 23, Russian-backed illegal armed groups intensified their attacks on Ukrainian positions across the zone of the Anti-Terrorist Operation in Donbas, the press center of the ATO Headquarters reports. News 24 July from UNIAN.
The militants have suffered losses at the Svitlodarska Duha bulge as bodies of seven terrorists were brought to the morgue in the town of Stakhanov, a volunteer Yuriy Mysiahin wrote on Facebook. News 24 July from UNIAN.
24.07.2017 13:35. Today special teams of power engineers have started to restore electricity supply in the city of Avdiivka.
Donbas occupiers are trying to influence the situation in the metallurgical industry in the controlled part of Donetsk region through their proxies from among industry representatives dissatisfied with the pension reform, according to Information Resistance, a non-government information security project. News 24 July from UNIAN.
Russian special officer of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian General Staff Evgeniy Erofeyev, who was captured in Donbas in 2015 and returned in a prisoner swap for Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko in 2016, was killed shortly after he returned to Russia, according to Russian serviceman Viktor Ageyev, who is under arrest in Donbas. “Have you heard what happened to GRU Erofeyev after he returned? They took him out. They killed him. I know this for a fact. Everyone is talking about this, here, there, on that side. Everyone knows they took him out. Because he said too much,” Ageyev said in an interview with Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper published on Sunday. Asked whether the incident was raised in order to scare him, Ageyev responded, “No. They wouldn’t have started to talk about it. I am sure, although I am not sure of anything. I just want them to get me out of here.” As earlier reported, Russian serviceman Evgeniy Erofeyev and Aleksandr Aleksandrov were captured by Ukrainian soldier on May 16, 2015 near Schastia in Luhansk region while attempting to seize a strategic bridge after a skirmish with Ukrainian soldiers. As a result of the fighting, one Ukrainian soldier died. Ukrainian soldiers on June 24, 2017 near Zholobok in Slavianoserbsky district, Luhansk region battled a militant reconnaissance group. They took four militants prisoner, including Ageyev, who is a contract soldier in the Russian armed forces. Head of Ukraine’s SBU Security Service Vasyl Hrytsak has said Ageyev’s activities in Ukraine qualify as terrorism. According to media reports, Ageyev’s mother has travelled to Ukraine to meet with her son.
Deputy Chairperson of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's humanitarian representative in the Tripartite Contact Group for Donbas settlement Iryna Gerashchenko said that the Russian consul had so far failed to visit Viktor Ageyev, the Russian contracted soldier earlier captured by Ukrainian forces in Luhansk region. News 24 July from UNIAN.
Pro-Russian militants in Donbas are holding 134 Ukrainians in captivity, while 411 citizens of Ukraine are considered to be missing, head of the security service of Ukraine, Vasyl Hrytsak told TSN. News 24 July from UNIAN.
GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (July 24, 2017) – Fifteen senior leaders from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and General Staff, as well as two Ukrainian parliamentarians, traveled to the George C. Marshall European Center July 19-20, for a sixth seminar in a series of executive-level meetings to improve defense reform in that nation. The primary purpose of this seminar was to increase communications and cooperation between the Ministry of Defense, General Staff and Parliament. The agenda included discussions on key reform challenges between the military and parliament and examining ways to propose and adopt solutions for improving cooperation. Attendees included First Deputy Minister of Defense Gen. Ivan Rusnak and Deputy Chief of Defense Gen. Lt. Serhii Bessarab. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Oksana Syroyid and Taras Pastukh represented the Ukrainian parliament. Several colonels from the Ukraine Ministry of Defense and General Staff attended as did representatives from U.S. Embassy Kiev, U.S. European Command and U.S. Army Europe. Syroyid, a Marshall Center alumnus, has been an active participant in each of the six senior leader seminars. She said defense reforms are difficult because of a lack of trust between the military and parliament. Marshall Center seminars help provide a venue to build trust and find solutions. “I think that the impact of this seminar and the others is enormous. Reform takes time and effort. If you consider what we can do to improve the relations between the politicians and the General Staff, it is time and effort. You have to work. You should not give up. You have to find a compromise. We have to look to find new people. You have to look for the new model for new solutions. This is the only way to do this. There is no other way,” said Syroyid. Marshall Center Associate Dean Rick Steinke has been one of the key players in each of the Marshall Center senior leader seminars. He said this seminar built on the accomplishments made in the five previous seminars and helped the overall efforts in Ukrainian defense reforms with a new group of participants. “This seminar not only provided a communications ice breaker for some key members of the Ukrainian government defense sector and parliament but it also produced some much-needed focus and measures on how to sustain effective communications in the future. We also touched on some new topics such as drafting National Security Law and Ukrainian soldier quality of life issues,” said Steinke. The next Ukraine Senior Leader Seminar will be held later this year.
During 17 days Romania hosted Multinational Tactical Exercise Saber Guardian 2017 gathering together about 4,000 troops from Ukraine, Romania, the United States, Croatia, Portugal. and Armenia. Participants worked out field firing, enhanced skills in immobile defence, counteroffensive actions, planning skills under NATO standards and procedures. Ukrainian paratrooper assault company and mortar platoon participated in manoeuvres. “Saber Guardian is a complex of eight operations conducted in three countries in Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary,” Lt. Gen. Mykhailo Zabrodskyi, Commander of High Mobile Airborne Forces, said and stressed that the main goal of participation of the Ukrainian troops was to work out joint operations on security in Euroatlantic region, increase interoperability of units and develop military cooperation.
24.07.2017 12:40. The ships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group have entered today the port of Odesa, southern Ukraine.
A Soviet-era VAZ-2102 vehicle parked at the intersection of Bunin Street and Oleksandrivsky Avenue outside the office of the Rada Hromadskoi Bezpeky (Public Safety Council) in the city of Odesa exploded around 10:30 on Monday, July 24, according to USIonline (Ukrainian Information Service) media outlet. News 24 July from UNIAN.
24.07.2017 16:15. Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman says Ukraine will be fully energy independent by 2020.
Ukraine's largest private energy holding DTEK has received 75,000 tonnes of deficient anthracite coal delivered by a cargo ship to the port of Yuzhny near Odesa, according to the company's press service. News 24 July from UNIAN.
A second ship this year with 75,000 tonnes of anthracite for Prydniprovska and Kryvy Rih thermal power plants (TPPs) of DTEK Energo arrived to the Yuzhny port on July 23, the company’s press service has reported.
Ukraine’s prospects are looking up.
Industrial production in Ukraine in June 2017 not adjusted for the calendar effect grew by 3.8% year-over-year (y-o-y) against 1.2% in May 2017 from May 2016, according to the State Statistics Service of Ukraine. News 23 July from UNIAN.
Serbian filmmaker, actor and musician Emir Kusturica arrived in Russian-occupied Crimea on Sunday, July 23, in violation of Ukrainian laws, to perform the only concert with his No Smoking Orchestra band in Yalta. News 23 July from UNIAN.
24.07.2017 14:58. Ukrainian schoolchildren have won five medals at the 58th International Mathematical Olympiad, held in Rio de Janeiro on July 12-July 23, 2017.
Several Americans and Brits are using crowdfunding websites to finance pro-separatist efforts in eastern Ukraine.
Rising Anti-Semitism, Ultra-nationalism in Ukraine Raises Concerns. Non-governmental organizations, civil libertarians, and business leaders warn that Ukraine appears to be sliding toward an increasingly nationalistic, anti-Semitic era characterized by hooliganism, threats, and i,n some cases, outright violence to Jews. The precise degree of the culture’s drift toward a nationalism bordering on fascism — with a strong anti-Jewish drift — is difficult to determine. The situation there has been clouded by Russia’s recent invasion and annexation of Crimea, an act that has drawn support for the Kiev government across Europe and the United States. But the Simon Wiesenthal Center has complained about the growing anti-Semitism in Ukraine and filed several protests in recent months over the direction this nation of 42.5 million souls appears to be taking. In May, anti-Semitic Facebook posts attributed to a retired Ukrainian general, Vasily Vovk, shook Ukrainian society and triggered alarm bells in democratic nations around the globe. “I am completely against Jews,” Vovk stated. “You are not Ukrainians and I will destroy you along with Rabinovich.” “Rabinovitch” is believed to be a reference to the respected Jewish Ukrainian businessman and politician, Vadim Rabinovich. The promise to destroy Jews generally recalled the dark era of Nazi persecution and the Holocaust. The Simon Wiesenthal Center responded to that broadside with a letter to Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, urging the Ukrainian government “to send a clear message that in democratic Ukraine there will be no tolerance whatsoever for anti-Semites and bigots of any type.” The ADL joined calls for Vovk, who holds a senior reserve rank with Ukraine security forces, to be fired. Concern over rising anti-Jewish bigotry in Ukraine escalated further with the news the Ukrainian capital of Kiev intended to name city streets after Ukrainian nationalists Stefan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych.
The University of Oxford’s academic reputation is being exploited by Ukrainian businessmen selling millions of pounds worth of fake awards and honours, The Time
Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports
ISIS in Iraq and Syria has been “dismantled,” with tens of thousands of its jihadist fighters dead, but a promising and lead on its leader “went dead” after a media leak, according to a key U.S. military official.
Assessment comes as some IS propaganda operations appear to be in decline
A German teen who was found in Mosul after running away from home following her conversion to Islam a year ago says she regrets her decision and just wants “to go home to my family,” German media reported.
Iranian lawmakers have proposed changes to the country’s tough antidrugs laws, a move that could abolish the death penalty for some drug-related crimes. If approved by parliament, a propose…
Turkey’s president has arrived in Qatar on the final leg of a Gulf tour aimed at forging a resolution to the diplomatic standoff gripping the nation and four fellow Arab countries.
DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports
The student reportedly injured a taxi driver who was roughing up his mother in a fare dispute.
Chinese and Russian warships will engage in military exercises off the coast of Europe this week as the two nations continue to strengthen ties. The drills ar
Border guards of the two countries are locked in a standoff since June 16, with China accusing India of trespass and preventing its soldiers from building a road.
India brought in more troops after the destruction of two of its bunkers and ‘aggressive tactics’ adopted by Chinese army.
A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:
Foreign Policy Reports
The decision by President Andrzej Duda was a surprising setback for the far-right governing party.
On Saturday, July 22, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban expressed his country’s solidarity with the Polish government, reported Deutsche …
French President Emmanuel Macron has announced the armed forces will be the only government ministry to receive a spending increase next year.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will begin talks with Britain Trade Secretary Liam Fox for a new trade deal.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and his team are busy working on the National Defense Strategy. A rite of passage for every new administration, his band of
The U.S. warning about Kaspersky leaves officials in the dark about possible risks.
Ben Farmer, defence correspondent 21 JULY 2017 • 10:40PM YouTube says it will crack down on online Islamist extremism by redirecting anyone who searches for terrorist videos to instead show them films countering the propaganda. Anyone searching for terms relating to the Islamic State group will be offered playlists of videos “debunking its mythology”, the company…
US Domestic Policy Reports
Allegations the Kremlin is bankrolling U.S. anti-fracking activists are ludicrous, groups say. But lawmakers want Treasury to investigate.
The media has turned a ham-handed lobbying effort by unregistered Russian lobbyists into a dark conspiracy while ignoring the real story of Russian involvement in Trump dossier.
President Donald Trump’s new communications…
The president sent out several tweets on Sunday.
Trump spokeswoman dismisses ‘Russia fever’ as attempt to take away legitimacy of his victory
U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, says that he has not colluded with any foreign government and had "no improper contacts" with Russians during the U.S…
Democrats said they will counter President Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” with “A Better Deal.” Party leaders will unveil a new…