Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 27 July 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

SUMMARY INFORMATION FROM ATO – 27.07.2017 (VIDEO)

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RAF intercept from Romania elicits Russian response: “…how dare you intercept our bombers, peacefully going about their business of practising air strikes on Romania ….” – every NATO reaction is always a new threat that must be countered, as the only good NATO from the Russian perspective is a catatonic or dead NATO. Nordstream now seen to be at risk, Russia’s paid for “agenty vliyaniya” complain loudly. Connolly overestimates their influence. Good Whitmore OpEds on Russia’s inability to apprehend how Western societies work internally, and on Putin alleged election campaign theme of promoting social justice and overcoming poverty! Nationalist essay on how to deal with Russia’s Tartars is a must read, the conclusions show exactly how toxic and destructive Russian nationalism has become. The Nation earns the COCW Award today.

In Belarus, Kyiv visit still resonating, while in Moldova Comrade Dodon is hammered over two ill considered pursuits.

Whitmore on Malorossia. Ukraine MSM dominated by two themes – Saakashvili being stripped of Ukrainian citizenship, now a stateless ex-President, and the weapons demonstration with the FFAR shooting UGV and thermobarics getting a lot of attention (Russia used lots of thermobarics in Donbass, Ukraine had none). Good footage from 40th Tac Air Bde, FULCRUMs and Malakhit (digital new build SPOON REST spinoff). Russian trade embargo has shifted most Ukrainian exports to EU who are now largest trading partner.

Iran cyber capability and Mosul damage of interest.

Much on DPRK, notable Bolton and Portman comments, impending ICBM test, 160 photos from DPRK missile program released, DPRK hackers shift from espionage to bank heists, Russia’s play to exploit DPRK against US, more on Kim Jong Nam murder, and other topics.

EU sanctions debate continues, while Venezuela is sanctioned by US.

Russian naval doctrine, LRASM enters production, hypersonics.

Russia debate shifts to FARA and Ukraine, but debate remains quite toxic.


Russia / Russophone Reports

Russia to Raise Firepower in South to Neuter NATO Air ‘Threat’

NATO allies have deployed a limited number of aircraft in Romania, which borders Ukraine, to assist with its air patrols. Russia is not happy.

Russia says its Baltic Sea war games with Chinese Navy not a threat

Russia said late on Tuesday that war games it is conducting with the Chinese Navy in the Baltic Sea, which has become a zone of heightened tensions between Moscow and the West, do not pose a threat to anyone.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia can be explained by ‘Long Telegram’ – Washington Times

Russian experts, politicians and television’s talking heads are constantly wondering whether Vladimir Putin’s Russia is trying to reconstruct the old Soviet Union with its extended empire and aspirations, asking why else the country that gave up communism would invade Ukraine, threaten the Baltic states, interfere in Syria and even try to sabotage an American election.

Russia’s EU pipeline at ‘risk’ after US vote

Five EU firms taking part in Russia’s Nord Stream II gas pipeline could face US fines under new sanctions approved by Congress.

Germany may abandon five projects related to Russian Nord Stream-2

The Federal Network Agency in Bonn has demanded the exclusion of five projects related to the expansion of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project from the German gas transmission network development plan. The agency claims that the prospects for their implementation are too vague. They will be reinstated in the plan when the necessary permits for the construction of the Nord Stream-2 have been obtained, reads the regulator’s press release. At the same time, three of these projects have not been sufficiently developed, therefore the agency cannot approve them yet. According to the information of operators of main pipeline networks, there is no longer any need to implement another two projects due to changed plans, the ministry said. Read also EU Commission seeks mandate to negotiate Nord Stream-2 deal with Russia According to Jochen Homann, the head of the agency, by such amendments, the government protects German gas consumers from unnecessary expenses. Such expensive projects to expand the German gas transmission network should be implemented only if they are really needed, he said. The plan for the development of the gas transmission network is drawn up by the operators of the main pipelines every two years and then checked by the Federal Network Agency. The decision by the agency on the necessary measures for the development of gas transmission networks are mandatory for execution by operators.

Russia has waited three years for a way to divide the West (Opinion) – CNN.com

Fresh sanctions on Russia risk driving a wedge between the United States and key European allies, Richard Connolly says.

Gazprom: Russia’s Corporate Diamond – PJSC Gazprom ADR (OTCMKTS:OGZPY) | Seeking Alpha

Gazprom maintains expansive growth potential, relatively healthy margins, liquidity, and a multitude of financing options. With market conditions being unfavora

Trump just played straight into Vladimir Putin’s hands on Ukraine

‘What is going on in soulless USA?’: Russian media fawned over Trump’s transgender ban | Business Insider

In a country where a TV station once said it’d…

UAWire – Russia сonsiders imposing sanctions against Poland in response to decision to demolish Soviet monuments

The Federation Council of Russia appealed to President Vladimir Putin with a request to instruct the relevant Russian departments to develop …

Putin Travels To Finland For Talks Amid Naval Exercises

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit neighboring Finland on July 27 on a one-day trip.&nbsp; Putin will hold talks with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and the two leaders will atten…

How pragmatic Finland deals with its Russian neighbour – BBC News

It has achieved a century of independence by carefully manoeuvring around its massive neighbour.

The Daily Vertical: The Limits Of Dark Power (Transcript)

Agitprop has its limits. Active measures have a downside. Influence operations often result in blowback. And if these lessons aren’t yet obvious to Vladimir Putin and his cronies, they aren’t paying attention. As the sanctions bill currently before the United States Congress starkly illustrates, Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election have resulted in a systemic backlash. Likewise, Moscow’s meddling in the French election has alienated the European country most favorably disposed toward Russia. And Kremlin efforts to spread fake news in Germany have turned Moscow’s most important trading partner into a staunch critic. And the underlying reason for this is simple. WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical For all its apparent skill at exploiting and manipulating the vulnerable spots in Western democracy, the Putin regime simply doesn’t understand how Western societies work. When a Western media outlet runs a story critical of Russia, the Kremlin tends to view this as an information attack launched from some shadowy basement in Langley — when in reality, it’s just journalists doing their job. When Western NGOs promote human rights abroad, the Putin regime sees it as part of a dark plot to undermine Russia — when in reality, it’s just Western civil society doing what Western civil society does. But things like a free press and an independent civil society are alien concepts for this Kremlin. It’s inconceivable to Moscow that they aren’t directed and controlled by the state. So what the Putin regime has done is to create a parallel structure. It’s created Western soft power’s shadowy twin. My co-host on the Power Vertical Podcast, Mark Galeotti calls this “dark power.” And dark power has its limits.

The Morning Vertical, July 27, 2017

ON MY MIND It appears that Vladimir Putin is about to try the oldest trick in the Russian playbook: playing the role of the “good Tsar” against the “bad boyars.” According to a piece by Yekaterina Vinokurova (featured below), Putin plans to mobilize the Russian electorate against local and regional elites and to make the “struggle against poverty and social injustice” the centerpiece of his election campaign. This indicates that the Kremlin is becoming aware that Russia is not immune to the populist antiestablishment wave that has swept the West in recent years. Putin is apparently also attempting to co-opt the popular anger against corruption and cronyism that opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has tapped into. But as Vinokurova notes, the strategy is not without risks. For 17 years, Putin has been concentrating power in a narrow circle and his cronies have been monetizing their positions. And the populist strategy could backfire if the public turns its anger not only toward local elites, but toward Putin and his entourage as well.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Plan to Make Fight for Justice Centerpiece of Putin Campaign Seen Backfiring

Paul Goble Staunton, July 26 – Two anonymous sources “close to the Presidential Administration” tell the Znak news agency that Vladimir Putin plans to fight “the struggle against poverty and social injustice” a centerpiece of his re-election campaign in order to mobilize Russians against local and regional elites. But Znak commentator Yekaterina Vinokurova warns that this program may backfire if Russians focus not as Putin wants but on the Moscow elite in general, Putin’s immediate entourage and even the Kremlin leader personally (znak.com/2017-07-25/putin_sobiraetsya_sdelat_stavku_na_borbu_s_nespravedlivostyu_no_eto_opasnaya_tema). The Kremlin has been trying to come up with some agenda for the campaign that will allow him to pose as the people’s champion against entrenched elites even though he has been in power for 17 years and is responsible for the division of the spoils among elites and the increasing impoverishment of Russians. Vinokurova notes that experts with whom she has spoken agree that “the demand for social justice and the struggle against poverty really exists in society,” but they warn that “if the powers take this up, it is not certain that they will be able to keep it under control.” Indeed, they say there are real risks that it could lead to a social explosion. Tatyana Stanovaya of the Moscow Center for Political Technologies says that protests five years ago were about politics and human rights. “Now at the foundation of protest is the problem of social injustice.” Consequently, “even if ‘the sauce’ remains the same – ‘the struggle with corruption’” it has an immediate rather than long-term political meaning. “Six years ago, this concerned the issue of equal opportunities and prospects,” Stanovaya continues, but now” it is about what the country can do about a closed elite of “new ‘Putin oligarchs,’” when there is no clear signal from the top as to what can be done about that to benefit the bottom part of society. Moreover, she says, “if earlier the powers were inclined to underrate the problem of social injustice and tried not to notice it, fearing the growth of social expectations and demands, then now it is just the reverse: the powers are trying to seize the initiative from the non-systemic opposition.” According to Stanovaya, “now we are witnessing ‘how over the strategy for the development of the country are involved not so much economists as political technologists.’ However, there is a risk: recognizing social injustice may increase its social and political sharpness.” Other commentators agree about the risks. According to political analyst Abbas Gallyamov, “if Putin is able to show that he is seriously involved” in trying to address poverty and injustice, then people will believe him. However, the credit of trust he has is not infinite” and could run out. The problem, however, is this, he says: such a use of this theme is “the last line of the Kremlin’s defenses against growing general disappointment.” If Putin makes promises and then doesn’t or can’t deliver, his credit with the population will be “exhausted,” and there could be an explosion in two or three years. Aleksey Makarkin, vice president of the Moscow Center for Political Technologies, says that Russians traditionally have “gone to the tsar” to get justice, but the current powers that be “don’t want to disturb the situation in the elites.” They can arrest low-level officials but only if these don’t have ties close to the Kremlin. “The struggle for justice,” he continues, “is the reverse side of settling accounts because of economic competition,” but how that can be done under conditions of “systemic corruption” is a large and still open question. “The opposition has it easer: it can criticize the entire system.” For the incumbents, that is dangerous as “the Uzbek affair” proved in the late 1980s. And finally, Gleb Pavlovsky, head of the Effective Politics Foundation, said that Putin had always made the struggle with poverty part of his program, even though he has surrounded himself will billionaires. What is going on now, he suggests, is that people around Putin are trying to force him to run again, something he hasn’t made a final decision about. That is because a fourth term could prove dangerous for Putin given that those pushing him forward now want to “transform Putin into the successor of Putin who will simply sign papers put in front of him.” Running again would thus be a mistake, even though there is no doubt Putin would win. One thing is clear: Russia’s poor aren’t going to be among the winners.

“The Last Frontier of the Kremlin Defense”

Putin is going to bet on the fight against injustice. But this is a dangerous topic

Transformation of Putin’s elites: 2014-2024

Four years after the election of Vladimir Putin for the third term within the political regime, the process of cardinal personnel restructuring began. The waves of permutations affected the administration of the president, governors, law enforcement agencies, state corporations. In 2017-2018, a new wave is expected: in connection with the presidential elections, a shake-up of the government is inevitable. The regime has experienced major personnel changes before, but never before have they been a reflection of the deep internal political and even psychological transformations of the elite. If the personnel changes in 2004, 2007 or 2011-2012 could be called managed adaptation, then the similar processes observed in 2016-2017, indicate a significant change in the system of government.

Russia Risks Decades of Low Growth Under U.S. Sanctions: Putin Adviser | 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.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Visit to Human Rights Pioneer a Kremlin Psy Op against the West, Kirillova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 26 – Putin’s visit with Russian human rights leader Lyudmila Alekseyeva on her 90th birthday last week and her generous reception of the Kremlin leader with whom she has regularly crossed swords triggered a sharp debate among many in Russia, with some critical of her for her politesse and others defending her actions as a means of getting things done. But Russian journalist Kseniya Kirillova says such discussions miss the point. What happened, she argues, was a carefully planned Kremlin psychological operation directed at the West intended to show the “idyllic” accord “between the Russian dictator and someone who has to defend his victims” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=597730E780744). Such an image disarms many of Putin’s critics in the West and makes it more difficult for them to build support for even tougher measures against the Kremlin leader’s increasing repression at home and aggression abroad, the US-based Kirillova says; and so no one must be misled as to what occurred and why. Kirillova says that she is not interested in explaining why Alekseyeva acted as she did because “observing from the side, it is extremely difficult or even impossible to understand what percentage of [her] actions is to be explained by age, what by good intentions, and what by ‘fondness’ for the authorities.” That is for Alekseyeva and others to say. But, she continues, she is convinced that her actions, however much structured by the way in which Putin planned “have inflicted enormous harm and have far-reaching consequences not only for the Russian opposition but also for Ukraine and other countries in one way or another suffering from Russian aggression.” The Kremlin leader recognized what was at stake and made use of this possibility not because he was addressing “’the Putin majority’” in whose eyes his actions “if not treason then an act of unforgivable weakness.” Indeed, Russia’s “hurrah patriots” denounced his meeting as kowtowing to a Western agent. “Of course,” Kirillova points out, Putin wasn’t going to lose their support by meeting with Alekseyeva. “One must not forget that a large part of his electorate are obedient conformists who will approve any act of ‘the leader.’” And those who might be put off can be persuaded by the argument that “’the eternal chekist’” is simply playing a double game that he will win. But the more important thing is that Putin’s meeting with Alekseyeva was designed to send a message to the West, one that will help him not only domestically but internationally as well. There are three reasons for that conclusion, Kirillova suggests. First of all, Putin very much wants to undercut the image of human rights activists in Russia in the eyes of Western leaders and by suggesting that he has good relations with Alekseyeva and can even negotiate with her about problems will do just that. Consequently, he will use the meeting to suggest that things aren’t as bad in his Russia as many think. Second, Alekseyeva undercut her own activities by making a dismissive comment about her own personal actions and saying how much she viewed “the recognition of the president as an undeserved gift of fate.” That too will harm the human rights cause in Russia and reduce the support for that cause in the West. “Now, it will always be possible to say that even veterans of the human rights movement recognize that their activity is unnecessary and marginal, even more in comparison to the powerful Putin who is ready to solve any problem himself.” And thus some in Russia and the West will ask whether a human rights movement in Russia is really necessary. And third, the person Alekseyeva asked Putin to intervene on behalf of, Igor Imestyev, a former senator, raider and even murderer, is extremely suspicious given all those she might have called on the Kremlin leader to help. There can hardly be any doubt that Imestyev was chosen in advance and in coordination between the Kremlin and Alekseyeva’s people. “Thus,” Kirillova argues, “all who try to get the attention of Western officials on the issue of Russian political prisoners … are going to find it quite difficult to explain why ‘Alekseyeva herself’ did not ask about them, including the illegally arrested Ukrainians.” And that will only make their fate and those of others far harder. It is of course true that those who “speak the truth about what is taking place in Russia and about the crimes of the Kremlin inside and outside the country will continue to do so, despite the confluence of compromises of particular individuals,” the Russian journalist continues. But unfortunately, it is “not the case that many in the West want to hear them.” Given Russian influence in Europe and the US, “many politicians will be glad of any opportunity ‘not to know’ abut the real situation in Russia,” Kirillova concludes, and thus unfortunately “Alekseyeva has given them such an opportunity.” The old KGB officer’s psychological operation in her case may thus pay him but not her big dividends.

How should we deal with the Tatars: facts, figures and action plan for the Russian national government

Tatars – and it shows – will not last long in the current scale. But this does not mean that good Russian people can not help the natural processes.

  1. It is necessary to promote the restoration of its otherness ethnicity Tatars regional groups in order to preserve the multi-ethnic diversity of the Russian Federation.
  2. Kryashens should be considered a separate ethnic group and be properly accounted for.
  3. Tatarstan as a separate republic, should not be – and naturally. When a country is not 86, but 99 percent of the population recognize themselves as Russian, of which all the national republics may be involved.
  4. Rural hotbed of Islamism need to burn, destroy terrorists before they fly away in Raqqa.
  5. Urbanization Tatars and all involved also contribute. Russian language will take its place without alternative.
  6. Children with Métis do not slack off, squeezing in the non-Russian identity, and in every possible way to explain to them that my father-Tatar does not prevent you, Arthur, to be a Russian soldier. Liberate Kiev – and it is your duty and your future victory.

Will all of this contribute to the radicalization of the remaining Tatars-Muslims? Hardly. On the contrary, to encourage Russian symbiosis with what is happening now. After all, even the Muslim Tatars can be de-facto Russian nationalists, though sometimes in an exotic way. So, a couple of years ago, the famous Tatar writer and theologian Rais Suleimanov wrote about Tatars volunteers in the Donbas: Tatars, who in the ranks of volunteers from the Russian Volga region went to New Russia, share the ideology of the Russian world, under which one understands a return to the Soviet model, however, in a new format (the concept of ‘USSR 2.0 “), the other – a reunion with Russian territories inhabited by ethnic Russian, which is ideal for the Russian empire. Tatar volunteers often have a dual national identity: without denying their Tatar origin, they consider themselves Russian. And this is quite compatible dvuetnicheskoe identity in their worldview. For example, a volunteer-tanker, a graduate of the Kazan Suvorov Military School Jalil Fagizov located in the militia LNR, explains this by saying that the Tatars – is part of the Russian people, and the concept of “Russian” itself includes other peoples of Russia. The same policy of deconstruction and integration concerns and Bashkirs and Chuvash and Mordovian, and Mari … however, about every ethnic group can and should be discussed separately. All these simple steps in the long run securely tightened inoetnichnuyu hole in the logistics center of the Russian world, the Middle Volga and Urals. That, of course, will be the fundamental Russian victory.

Relatives Sue Russian FSB For Details On Wallenberg’s Death

Relatives of Raoul Wallenberg have filed a lawsuit against Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) to provide uncensored documentation that could help determine the fate of the former Swedis…

Russian Former Economy Minister Ulyukayev Indicted On Bribery Charges

The Russian Prosecutor General's Office approved an indictment against Russian former minister of economic development Aleksei Ulyukayev and sent the case to court, Russian news agencies reporte…

Russian Authorities Increase Crackdown on Cultural Dissent | Best Countries | US News

Criminal prosecution is part of the government’s toolbox for dealing with dissent from the country’s artists.

The family of Vladimir Yakunin, a US-sanctioned ally of Vladimir Putin, uses these British companies to burnish their reputation — Quartz

The journey of a member of the global super-rich often traverses three main stages, as he (these are pretty much all men) moves from a position of power at home to a life of wealth and luxury abroad. The stages were outlined by writer and journalist Oliver Bullough. In stage one, he gets his money…

Russian Arrested For Allegedly Masterminding $4 Billion Bitcoin Fraud

Greek police said on July 26 that they have arrested a Russian man who allegedly masterminded a $4 billion money laundering scheme using the virtual currency Bitcoins. Police said Aleksandr Vinnik…

U.S. indicts suspected Russian ‘mastermind’ of $4 billion bitcoin laundering scheme

A U.S. jury indicted a Russian man on Wednesday as the operator of a digital currency exchange he allegedly used to launder more than $4 billion for people involved in crimes ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking.

MAD magazine looks at what’s on Vladimir Putin’s desk / Boing Boing

Realism on Russia | The Nation

We must investigate claims of Russian interference in the election, while also de-escalating a dangerous crisis.

Belarus Reports

Liavon Barshcheuski: Lukashenka Looks Back At Kremlin In Relations With Ukraine – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

The Belarusian dictator only imitates independence. Public figure Liavon Barshcheuski told in an interview to Radio Racyja that politicians’ words do not meet their actions. During a recent meeting in Kiev, Lukashenka promised Peter Poroshenko to allow studying of the Ukrainian language in Belarus. Meantime, after the meeting between Lukashenka and Poroshenko in December 2014, it was stated that “one of the results of the meeting was an agreement to include the Ukrainian TV channel in the Belarusian line-up.” However, those agreements have remained on paper only. There is no Ukrainian TV channel in Belarus so far: – It’s always easy to talk idly, while to do something concrete is more difficult. And most importantly, the Belarusian authorities do not really care about this issue (the launch of Ukrainian television) and about the rights of Ukrainians. On the one hand, they are concerned not to anger Moscow, and on the other hand, they believe that the best thing is not doing anything. If they don’t plan and don’t establish a special institution that will deal with this problem, then everything will remain on paper. And the plans to study the Ukrainian language in Belarus may appear at the same stage at which the project to broadcast the Ukrainian television channel in our country is now. However, Lukashenka does not remember about it and does not talk about it. Three years have passed – new ideas have appeared. – Would the broadcasting of the Ukrainian TV channel be a good thing? – Of course, because quite a lot of people would watch it. Belarusians would have learned what is happening in Ukraine, not from Russian TV channels, but from primary sources. Although Russian propaganda has much greater potential, and one Ukrainian TV channel could not create a balance.

Belarus Reduced Oil Imports From Russian Federation By Quarter – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

In January-May, Russian oil imports fell by 23.5%.

Enterprises Have Been Actively Cutting Workers For Eight Month – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

In June, most of all employees were fired, than hired in the sphere of education.

Transnistria Reports

Moldovan Court Finds President Dodon’s Referendum Plan Unconstitutional

CHISINAU — Moldova's Constitutional Court has ruled that a move by President Igor Dodon to hold a referendum that could broaden his powers is unconstitutional. Constitutional Court judge Tudo…

UAWire – Moldovan parliament speaker condemns President Dodon for plans to reward Russian peacekeepers

Moldovan Speaker of the Parliament Andrian Candu has criticized the intentions of President Igor Dodon to present official awards to Russian peacekeepers, urging him not to confuse official awards with protocol gifts. The Speaker wrote about this on his Facebook page. “On one of the Russian TV channels, President Dodon, in order to show his support for Moscow, boasts that he violates and will violate the Constitution. Angry at the tough position of the Parliament, which is expressed in a Declaration on the withdrawal of Russian troops and weapons, Igor Dodon has promised medals to Russian and Transnistrian soldiers, thus opening a wound that bleeds to this day. Dodon is confusing official awards with protocol gifts,” Candu wrote. The Speaker of the Moldovan parliament believes that with his gesture “the president wants to prove that he has more powers than those prescribed in the Constitution.” The day before, in an interview with Russian media, Igor Dodon promised to present Moldova’s official award to Moldovan, Russian and Transnistrian servicemen on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the beginning of the work of the peacekeeping contingent on the Dniester. On July 21, the Moldovan parliament demanded that Russia withdraw its troops from Transnistria. A limited group of Russian troops (about 1,600 servicemen) is stationed on the territory of the unrecognized Transnistria, and more than 20,000 tons of ammunition are stored at military depots in the village of Cobasna in the Rybnitsa district. The Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika (PMR) declared its independence in 1990. At the same time, no UN member state recognized the PMR as a sovereign state. The “authorities” of the republic have repeatedly asked Moscow to include it in Russia. For example, in 2006, a referendum was held in the country in which 97.2% of local residents voted to join Russia, but the vote was only recognized as legitimate by the Russian Federation.

Malorossiya Reports

Playing The ‘Little Russia’ Card

When the Kremlin or its proxies start dreaming up new names for Ukraine it’s often a sign that trouble is on the way. Switching To Plan C The Malorossia initiative needs to be viewed not in isolation, but in this broader context. “The Kremlin never was interested in the Donbas. Instead, it triggered the conflict in 2014 because it thought this would swiftly force Kyiv to capitulate and accept Moscow’s hegemony,” Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague wrote in BNE Intellinews. “Since this failed, the Russians have found themselves stuck with recalcitrant bandit kingdoms dependent on support from their already-overstretched federal budget.” Russia appears ready to switch to Plan C on Ukraine. Plan A, of course, was to seize all of so-called Novorossia, establish a land bridge to Crimea, and use the eastern Ukraine as a beachhead, 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. So it appears to be on to Plan C: a fresh effort to destabilize Ukraine on multiple fronts.

Ukraine Reports

NATO, US Department of State seriously concerned about situation in eastern Ukraine and Crimea – 27.07.2017 12:18 — Ukrinform News

27.07.2017 12:18. NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller and U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker have expressed great concern over the situation in eastern Ukraine and build-up of Russia’s military presence in the annexed Crimea. The NATO Deputy Secretary General held a meeting with the US Special Representative at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels on Wednesday. Ms. Gottemoeller and Ambassador Volker discussed the security situation in eastern Ukraine, Kyiv’s reforms, and NATO’s support for Ukraine, the Alliance press service reports. “I was pleased to meet with Kurt Volker today. We agreed that the situation in eastern Ukraine and Russia’s military build-up in Crimea continue to be of great concern. Russia must respect the Minsk Agreements, which are vital for Ukraine’s security and stability,” said the Deputy Secretary General. As noted, NATO continues to provide strong political and practical support for Ukraine. “Through ten different Trust Funds, NATO Allies have pledged almost forty million euros to support Ukraine – in areas such as command and control, cyber defence and medical rehabilitation,” the statement reads. As a reminder, Ambassador Volker previously served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO from 2008 to 2009.

Donbas conflict becoming expensive problem for Russia, – Special Envoy Volker

27.07.17 11:40 – Donbas conflict becoming expensive problem for Russia, – Special Envoy Volker The U.S. authorities are willing to help settle the conflict in the Donbas.Volker said the U.S. felt it an important task to solve this active conflict. The U.S. is trying to be more involved in the issue, that’s why Secretary of State Tillerson asked Volker to hold a meeting and to find out where they are and what to do, Volker said. He would report about the subsequent steps and work on involving the U.S. into the matter, he said. Read more: No recognition of Russian activities in Donbas and Crimea ever possible, – US envoy Volker The special envoy believes that the ongoing conflict is becoming an expensive problem for Russia. Volker said the status quo needs to be changed. President Trump told President Putin when the two met that solving the Ukrainian issue is important for the United States as long as it is an obstacle to Russia-U.S. relationship improvement. Secretary Tillerson also made the U.S. goals in this direction clear when he was in Kyiv. The U.S. and its allies, as well as Russia, also agreed to that through singing the Minsk agreement. The goal of the United States is to restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as security of all Ukrainian citizens, regardless of nationality or religion, Volker said.

Russian Security Forces Say Ukraine’s Spies Are Ruining Summer In Crimea

Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 with lofty tourism targets, but bookings for 2017 are reportedly down 30 percent.

Militants staging terrorist attacks in Donbas, to blame UA forces – Intel

Donbas militants are staging terrorist attacks, aiming to blame the Ukrainian side for disrupting Minsk accords and seal their claims with a corresponding coverage in Rusian propaganda media, the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry reports. News 27 July from UNIAN.

 

Air force tactical brigade pilots show off skills

The 40th brigade of tactical aviation is based outside Kyiv, where the pilots test-fly MiG-29 fighters to perfect individual maneuvers and group aerobatics, TSN reported. News 26 July from UNIAN.

Ukrainian Air Force Show Off their Skills and Equipment – YouTube

Detect, track and neutralize an enemy target tens of kilometers from the earth. The Ukrainian Air Force guards the sky over the country day and night. How do…

 

Donbas militants boost recon efforts, Ukraine army officials say

Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 17 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 27 July from UNIAN.

Militants ramp up reconnaissance activity in eastern Ukraine – 27.07.2017 09:54 — Ukrinform News

27.07.2017 09:54. The situation in the ATO area in eastern Ukraine was relatively calm last day. From 18:00 till midnight, the number of attacks launched by Russian-terrorist groups was small. However, the enemy ramped up the reconnaissance activity with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles.

One Ukrainian military wounded yesterday, – ATO HQ

27.07.17 12:46 – One Ukrainian military wounded yesterday, – ATO HQ On July 26, one serviceman of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was wounded in shelling in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) area. View news.

Ukrainian army getting stronger every day – Poroshenko after testing military equipment

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko is pleased with the check out of Ukrainian military equipment – the unmanned armored personnel carrier Phantom-2, the anti-tank missile system Stugna-P and the light portable missile system Corsair.

President: Brand new Ukrainian military equipment successfully tested. Video – 27.07.2017 11:24 — Ukrinform News

27.07.2017 11:24. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko congratulated the military on successful testing domestic military equipment.

Петро Порошенко – Unmanned BTR “Phantom-2”: More Powerful and Efficient.[VIDEO – RS-80 FFAR Launch]

Unmanned BTR “Phantom” -2: More Powerful and Efficient. Able to create the “Grad” effect on the battlefield, and has already confirmed its reliability during successful tests. Also, during the tests, an anti-tank missile complex “Stugna-P” and a light portable missile complex “Corsair” were tested. The Ukrainian army is getting stronger every day.

UAWire – Turchynov: Ukrainian army to receive thermobaric grenades and rocket-propelled infantry flamethrowers

Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine, visited the armed forces’ Honcharovskyi training ground, where new weaponry and military equipment designs were being tested. As reported by the NSDC’s press service, Turchynov was shown machine guns, sniper rifles, hand-held anti-tank grenade launchers, mortars, anti-tank missile systems and their ammunition. He drew special attention to the thermobaric ammunition (which disperse combustible material and detonate the resulting gas cloud). According to the NSDC, demonstrations were made to Turchynov of the effective destruction of targets during tests of hand-held thermobaric grenades and rocket-propelled infantry flamethrowers. “The Armed Forces of Ukraine are due to receive them in the near future,” Turchynov said. The NSDC secretary also reported on the rectification of shortcomings noted by soldiers while operating the new 120-mm mortars under combat conditions. Turchynov also said that 60mm mortars may be used in the Donbas, as they are capable of taking out targets accurately, and are not prohibited by the Minsk agreements. A Horlytsia unmanned aircraft system and a Phantom 2 unmanned combat transportation vehicle equipped with missile weaponry were also exhibited at the training ground.

US spent more than $600 million on Ukraine Army since 2014

27.07.17 14:01 – US spent more than $600 million on Ukraine Army since 2014 The United States government has spent $600 million on equipment and training for the Ukrainian Armed Forces since 2014. View news.

U.S. provides equipment to Yavoriv training ground – Poltorak – 27.07.2017 10:19 — Ukrinform News

27.07.2017 10:19. The United States of America has provided equipment to the instruction building of the&nbsp;International Peacekeeping and Security Centre&nbsp;(Yavoriv, Lviv region).

51st Separate Mechanized Brigade survivors of Ilovaisk tragedy accused of desertion

Some 20 soldiers from the 51st Separate Mechanized Brigade (SMB) who in July 2014 were forced to surrender and returned to Ukraine via Russia continue to be charged by Ukrainian courts of dereliction of duty, according to defenders of the servicemen. “[Ukraine’s] Military Prosecutor’s Office for three years has been attempting to prove that they are criminals. Unfortunately, we are not talking about fair court trials or about justice regarding these defenders of Ukraine,” Oleksandr Olenchenko said on Wednesday during a press conference hosted by the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency. Olenchneko said military prosecutors were predisposed negatively towards SMB members during their investigation of the tragedy. “Political shenanigans involving the Ilovaisk tragedy and SMB have reached the point where they are trying to convict the soldiers in court. Prosecutors, instead of putting an end to the disgrace and refusing to present state charges in court, continue to press their case stubbornly,” the lawyers said. Olenchenko said chief of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office (PGO) Yuriy Lutsenko earlier said criminal charges brought against SMB soldiers would be dropped. “He kept the promise, with the exception of 42 soldiers from the brigade,” Olenchenko said, noting that 20 of the 40 soldiers were sentenced after acknowledging their guilt in plea bargains with military prosecutors. They were officials found guilty and given three-year suspended sentences,” Olenchenko said. Lawyer Serhiy Hryshko said currently 20 servicemen from the unit are accused of shirking their military responsibilities. As earlier reported, Ukrainian soldiers from the unit entered Russian territory in June 2014 after they ran out of ammunition, food and water. According to SMB commanders and the soldiers, the soldiers did so after being shelled with GRAD rockets and mortars and after they ran out of food and water. In order not to be taken prisoner by Russia-backed militants, the servicemen were forced to cross the Ukraine-Russia border at the Izvarino border crossing point. The PGO announced on May 20 [2016] that it had dropped criminal charges against almost 150 members of the brigade from Volodymyr-Volynskoho, Volyn region, who in 2014 absented the unit. The PGO at the time said “it is necessary to conduct additional investigatory work, including receiving explanations for why the servicemen absented their unit.” “We call on servicemen wanted by law-enforcement agencies for dereliction of military duty and ask that they independently and willingly report to the nearest military prosecutor’s office,” the PGO said then. In May 2016 Lutsenko said investigators had asked soldiers from the unit to explain why they entered Russian territory in order to close the case against them. “Investigators as of today have made this appeal, and I want to repeat it for 170 soldiers of the Volyn SMB, so that they go to Lutsk [Volyn region] and provide an explanation of what happened during June 2014. The case will then be closed,” Lutsenko said on Monday during a press briefing in Kyiv.

Oklahoma National Guardsmen return from Ukraine | KOKH

One hundred members of the Oklahoma National Guard are returning home Wednesday. The Guardsmen returning home are the second and final wave of an initial 250 member deployment to Ukraine. The members of the Oklahoma National Guard’s 179th infantry regiment

Correction: Ukraine-Journalist Killed story – ABC News

Correction: Ukraine-Journalist Killed story

Another major gas player to enter Ukraine market | UNIAN

The National Energy and Utilities Regulations Commission (NEURC) intends to grant a gas supplier license to the Ukrainian subsidiary of the French-based Engie, according to the agenda of the meeting on August 1, OilNews reported. News 27 July from UNIAN.

Ukraine Says UK Court Suspends Judgment Until Kiev Appeal of $3 Billion Russia Bond Ruling – The New York Times

A London court has agreed to a request from Ukraine to suspend judgment in a $3 billion Eurobond case brought by Russia until Kiev’s appeal against the verdict is concluded, the Ukrainian finance ministry said on Wednesday.

EU turning into Ukraine’s main trading partner – media | UNIAN

The closure of the Russian market for Ukrainian goods led to the fact that Ukraine&rsquo;s major businesses had already reoriented their sales to the West, and today in terms of money, they are much more dependent on the EU than on the Russian Federation, with steelmaking industry being a perfect example, according to the Novoe Vremya weekly. Over the past year, Ukrainian exports to the EU as a whole grew by 3.7%. And in 2017, the increase will become even more noticeable: only for the first quarter, exports to the EU increased by 24.5% compared to the same period in 2016, NV reports. Over the first four months of the year, the European Union accounts for 38% of all domestic exports, the journalists said. Since the launch of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the EU in 2014, the total volume of Ukrainian berries export to the EU countries has grown fivefold. Read also Ukraine initiates consultations on setting up FTA with UK – PM Groysman Sales of Ukrainian honey during this time increased by 2.3 times, snails – in 10 times, processed tomatoes – in 19 times. A supply of poultry meat in the euro market jumped 65.7 times. Exports of confectionery and bakery products, cocoa paste, chocolate, pasta are still growing, albeit not at a fast pace. But the European Union has become the main market not only for small farmers. The top five most popular products that Ukrainian producers sold to Europe in 2016 were products of the agro-industrial complex and the food industry ($4.1 billion), steel and rolled metal ($3 billion), engineering products ($ 2.1 billion), ore and mineral raw materials ($1.4 billion), wood and products from it ($0.9 billion). According to Ukraine’s Trade Envoy Natalia Mykolska, the dramatic decline occurred with the outbreak of the war in Donbas when Ukraine lost a fifth of its industry. The decline in world prices for iron ore and grains, the main products traded by Ukraine in foreign markets, also hit the country’s exports. Read also Ukraine’s trade with EU boosted by 1st full year of Association deal – EU Delegation to Ukraine But in the first quarter of 2017, the volume of sales to the EU returned to the level of the first three months of the pre-crisis 2013. If the trend prevails, the country will fully restore the volume of its pre-war supplies to Europe by the end of the year. And it will do this without Crimea and the most industrialized region – Donbas, the article says. One of the reasons for success is the autonomous trade preferences that the European Union has granted to Ukraine. The Association Agreement was the impetus for increasing the export of agricultural products not only to the EU, but also to India, Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. It turns out that entering the European markets helped diversify trade flows and expand the geography of exports, Mykolska said.

“Ukraine finally to have independent judiciary.” Interview with Head of Qualification Commission of Judges -Euromaidan Press |

It’s an open secret that an effective and unbiased judicial system is a must for attracting investments into a country, No one would invest knowing that his property may be easily taken away. The post-Maidan authorities in Ukraine initiated one the most important reforms – the judicial one. This reform has two stages: an overall reboot of the highly corrupted system through an open competition conducted by the High Qualification Council of Judges (HQCJ) with the involvement of the general public represented by the Public Integrity Council (PIC). the dismantling of the four-element system set up by Yanukovych with the creation of the High Specialized Courts which practically replaced the Supreme Court. The process of judicial reform was plagued by scandals from the very start. Civic activists accused the HQCJ of being biased in its work. Euromaidan Press decided to look into the latest developments regarding the judicial reform by interviewing Serhiy Koziakov, the Chairman of the HQCJ, on the critical issues concerning the main elements of the reform, the relations between the HQCJ and the PIC, Anti-Corruption Court and much more.

Russian Supreme Court Extends Crimean Tatar’s Prison Term

Russia's Supreme Court has prolonged to 15 years the prison term for a jailed Crimean Tatar man, who was earlier sentenced to 12 years in April after a court found him guilty of creating a cell o…

UAWire – European Court hears 3000 claims of violations of the rights of Ukrainians as a result of Russia’s aggression

Ukrainian Minister of Justice Pavlo Petrenko has announced that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is hearing 3,000 lawsuits from …

Road traffic restricted in Kyiv over celebration of Kyiv Rus Christianization. INFOGRAPHICS

27.07.17 12:12 – Road traffic restricted in Kyiv over celebration of Kyiv Rus Christianization. INFOGRAPHICS On July 27, Kyiv downtown will see road traffic restrictions for all types of transport over celebration of the anniversary of Kyiv Rus Christianization. View photo news.

Saakashvili Lashes Out, Vows To Seek Return To Ukraine

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and Odesa regional governor who has been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship, is vowing to resist what he called the &quot;cowardly&quot; move an…

Saakashvili May Be Forced To Seek Asylum In United States, Legislator Says

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president and Ukrainian governor who was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship on July 26, may be forced to seek asylum in the United States, a Ukrainia…

Stateless Ex-Georgian President Is Headed To New York City

The polarizing politician who fought a war with Russia in 2008 and later moved to Ukraine has been stripped of his Ukrainian and Georgian citizenship. Now he’s headed to New York City.

Ukraine President Strips One-Time Ally Saakashvili of Citizenship | 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.

Presidential Administration confirms suspension of Saakashvili’s citizenship (UPDATES) | KyivPost

President Petro Poroshenko has signed a decree to suspend ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s Ukrainian citizenship, Yarema Dukh, a spokesman for the Presidential Administration, told the Kyiv Post. The State Migration Service has submitted evidence that Saakashvili had given incorrect information when he applied for citizenship in 2015, and the Commission on Citizenship approved suspending his citizenship, Dukh said. Under the law on the protection of personal data, the decree cannot be published because it contains confidential information, he added.

Poroshenko strips political opponent Mikheil Saakashvili of his Ukrainian citizenship – Human Rights in Ukraine

The official reason why Mikheil Saakashvili has been stripped of the Ukrainian citizenship he was ceremoniously granted in May 2015 is that he concealed criminal proceedings against him in his native Georgia –

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Russia’s Putin, Iraqi VP discuss tanks supply deal

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iraqi Vice President Nuri al-Maliki discussed supplies of Russian T-90 battle tanks at a meeting in St Petersburg on Tuesday, according to a Russian military official present at the meeting.

The Iranian Cyberthreat Is Real | Foreign Policy

As Trump increasingly boxes in Tehran, U.S. allies should be worried about the potential for a devastating cyberattack from the Islamic Republic.

From the Rise of the Caliphate to the Fall of Mosul, One Family’s Journey | Foreign Policy

Residents of this shattered city initially welcomed the Islamic State, but the honeymoon was short. The damage left behind will take generations to heal.

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

Bolton: Trump Admin Must Convince China to Eliminate North Korea | Fox News Insider

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton assessed the limited options for the Trump administration in the wake of new reports that North Korea could have a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as next year.

Bolton: Eliminate nuke program by eliminating North Korea – YouTube

The rogue regime threatens to hit the U.S. with a ‘powerful nuclear hammer;’ reaction on ‘Outnumbered’

North Korea could test another ICBM as early as Wednesday night, US official says – ABC News

If they launch an ICBM, it will be the 11th ballistic missile test this year.

North Korea reveals never-before seen images of missile program – CNN.com

New images revealed after July 4 long-range missile test show new details of North Korean missile program including rare pictures of failed test, close-ups of engines and missile storage facilities.

Concert to Contributors to ICBM Hwasong-14 | Flickr

Explore this photo album by Dave Schmerler on Flickr!

Everything we know about North Korea’s bioweapons program | Business Insider

North Korea’s successful launch of an…

North Korea’s Army of Hackers Has a New Target: Bank Accounts – WSJ

Pyongyang’s cyberarmy has splintered into multiple groups and is unleashing orchestrated attacks increasingly focused on funneling stolen funds to the secretive nation, according to a government-backed South Korean report.

Why is Putin backing North Korea? To build up Russia as a great power. – The Washington Post

Moscow’s alignment with North Korea will likely get stronger in the near future.

Vladimir Putin defies Donald Trump on North Korea – The Denver Post

In retrospect, said Vladimir Bogdanov, it wasn’t the best time to start the first passenger-ship service between Russia and North Korea shortly before Kim Jong Un shocked the world by announcing he’s successfully tested a missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.

North Korea warns Russia: ‘We will NOT give up our nuclear missiles’ as US tensions worsen | Daily Star

NORTH Korea has warned Russia it will not back down from a nuclear war if tensions continue to rise with the US.

Top U.S. General Hints at Military Action Against North Korea in a ‘Few More Months’

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff says the U.S. might use force against North Korea as early as this fall. Did you hear that, Pyongyang? How about you, Beijing?

Sen. Portman: Redesignate North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terrorism

Sen. Rob Portman urged the State Department to redesignate North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism during a Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing.

OPINION | North Korea must feel full weight of US sanctions, pressure — now | TheHill

OPINION | We must break North Korea’s will like sanctions broke Iran. In its latest assessment, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) concludes that North Korea could field a reliable, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in 2018, two years earlier than its previous estimate of 2020. The new assessment from DIA should be a wakeup call for anyone who still believes that Pyongyang will negotiate away its nuclear program or the U.S. can rely on China to restrain North Korea. Instead, it is time for the U.S. to finally put in place the kind of aggressive sanctions that forced Iran to negotiate the future of its own illicit nuclear program. Last week, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva (USAF), told the Senate Armed Services Committee that North Korea’s missiles already have the range to reach the United States but lack “any degree of accuracy.” ADVERTISEMENT While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants to build missiles that can take out American cities, he is also perfectly glad to field less accurate weapons that may hit the suburbs instead. Pyongyang has already said it would deploy a new medium-range missile, the Pukguksong-2, which may not be combat ready. The Pukguksong-2 has only been through two successful flight tests and North Korea has little experience with solid-fueled missiles, but that is not holding back the regime.

Kim Jong Nam: The plot to murder North Korea’s exiled son – CNN.com

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong are expected to plead not guilty to murdering the brother of North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at a Malaysian airport with VX nerve agent.

Why North Korea still hates the United States: The Korean War – CNN.com

The pause button was hit on the Korean War 64 years ago Thursday. Its legacy of destruction lives on.

We saved South Korea once, but not again | Guest columnists | stltoday.com

July 27, 1953, is the day the killing stopped in the Korean War 64 years ago. On this anniversary occasion, it is timely to contemplate a solution to the North

The strange role North Korea is playing in the Persian Gulf crisis – The Washington Post

Both the UAE and Qatar stand accused of profitable relationships with Pyongyang.

Why Would a Defector Return to North Korea? It’s Complicated

South Korea is talking about Lim Ji-hyun, who fled from North Korea in 2014 but who now appears to have returned there; she disappeared three months ago on a trip to China and may have been kidnapped

Britain and Australia urge China to do more on North Korea threat

Britain and Australia urged China on Thursday to do more to persuade North Korea to drop its nuclear and missile programs.

Australia refuses to connect to undersea cable built by Chinese company

Australia’s top spy has warned a 4000 kilometre-long cable could be torpedoed over Chinese firm Huawei’s involvement.

Foreign Policy Reports

Exclusive: Russia used Facebook to try to spy on Macron campaign – sources

Russian intelligence agents attempted to spy on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign earlier this year by creating phony Facebook personas, according to a U.S. congressman and two other people briefed on the effort.

EU Adds Russians, Entities To Crimea Sanctions Over Siemens Case 

BRUSSELS — European Union ambassadors have agreed to impose sanctions on four additional Russian individuals and three Russian entities after the revelation earlier this month that four gas turbine…

New US Sanctions Bill on Russia is not the Trojan Horse Europeans fear – Rasmussen Global

The US House of Representatives is expected to pass, later today, the Sanctions Bill, which seeks to strengthen economic sanctions against Iran, North Korea and Russia. The Bill first and foremost codifies existing executive orders placing sanctions on Moscow into law and proposes additional measures. However, these new sanctions, including those on Russian energy projects, are left to the discretion of the president and should be imposed in ‘coordination with allies.’ As the European Commission plans to discuss the Russian aspects of the Bill tomorrow, Rasmussen Global has published a background briefing.European governments – especially the Germans and Austrians – have expressed concerns that the Bill could impact on their energy interests, including the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. However, the revised legislation to be adopted specifically invites the US President to, “continue to uphold and seek unity with European and other key partners on sanctions.”

White House Imposes New Sanctions to Punish Venezuela’s President | Foreign Policy

White House Imposes New Sanctions to Punish Venezuela’s President « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas

Treasury sanctions target Venezuela president’s allies | TheHill

The Treasury Department targeted on Wednesday 13 current and former Venezuelan government officials with economic sanctions ahead of the country’s upcoming election, widely feared as a power grab by the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the department’s sanctions arm, specifically went after those involved with the upcoming election and the alleged violent suppression of protests, corruption and currency manipulation. All assets of those officials subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen, and U.S. residents are prohibited from financial transactions with them. The sanctions come ahead of a vote Sunday to choose a National Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente, or ANC), widely viewed as an attempt by the ruling Maduro government to solidify its control over Venezuela as protests against his administration and the country’s devastated economy continue to rage. “What is happening in Venezuela right now is that the regime is trying to eliminate the few democratic institutions that are left there, including the parliament,” Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (R-Fla.) told The Hill. Venezuela’s unicameral parliament, the National Assembly, has been in control of the opposition since elections in 2015, but its powers have been largely curbed by Maduro and the supreme court, which Maduro controls. Protests against Maduro’s power grab have prompted a violent response from the government. According to Foro Penal, a non-governmental organization that keeps track of the violence, at least 67 people have died as a result of the repression and 403 have been jailed as political prisoners. And the crisis in the country is taking effects throughout the hemisphere. On Tuesday, the Venezuelan government accused the U.S. of conspiring with Colombia and Mexico to overthrow it. “The United States will not ignore the Maduro regime’s ongoing efforts to undermine democracy, freedom, and the rule of law,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday. “As our sanctions demonstrate, the United States is standing by the Venezuelan people in their quest to restore their country to a full and prosperous democracy.” The new sanctions ahead of the Sunday vote on the Constituent Assembly received bipartisan praise in Congress. “I’m pleased to see an administration that is really paying attention — to the hemisphere, to this hemisphere and they’re showing solidarity with the Venezuelan people,” said Díaz-Balart. “I’m glad the president has made a first attempt. Whether it’s enough or not I’m going to have to study it and decide,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking member in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. “What is enough, in my opinion, is that the Venezuelan people have had enough of Maduro,” Engel added. It’s unclear whether the sanctions will be enough to derail Maduro’s has scheduled Constituent Assembly election. “If Maduro imposes the assembly, the United States will take economic action,” said a top administration official on a background call. “Today’s actions are more part of the steady drumbeat that we’ve been following and of course a reminder [for bad actors].” Administration officials added that more sanctions could be expected against Venezuelan officials who choose to participate in Sunday’s election.

The Next AIDS Pandemic | Foreign Policy

The Next AIDS Pandemic « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas

Exclusive: Only ‘military solutions’ can stop extremists, says Libya’s Haftar – France 24

There will be no dialogue with “extremists” in Libya, the country’s eastern commander General Khalifa Haftar vowed in an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 on Wednesday, saying that only “military solutions” could be used to defeat such groups.

Strategy / Capability Publications

Russia’s New and Unrealistic Naval Doctrine

The Russian Navy is keen on showy demonstrations of strength. Just in the last week, it has begun an exercise with the Chinese navy in the Baltic Sea and s

US Navy, Air Force award Lockheed first Long Range Anti-Ship Missile production contract | Naval Today

The U.S. Navy and Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin the first production contract for the air-launched variant of the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) on July 25. Worth $86.5 million, the contract will see the company deliver 23 missiles and engineering support. Low-rate initial production Lot 1 is the first of several expected annual production lots that will deliver next-generation anti-ship missiles to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force. “This first production lot of LRASM brings a new level of capability to both the U.S. Air Force and the Navy,” said Mike Fleming, LRASM director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. “LRASM enables our warfighters to prosecute even the most advanced enemy ships.” LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships by employing technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. It is a precision-guided, anti-ship standoff missile based on the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile – Extended Range (JASSM-ER). The air-launched variant provides an early operational capability for the U.S. Navy’s offensive anti-surface warfare Increment I requirement to be integrated onboard the U.S. Air Force’s B-1B in 2018 and on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 2019.

U.S. Air Force Plans Road Map To Operational Hypersonics | Aviation Week & Space Technology content from Aviation Week

Hypersonic technology is on the verge of operational capability as the U.S. Air Force lays out high-speed requirements underpinned by a growing R&D budget.

US Domestic Policy Reports

Russia mulls retaliation to U.S. sanctions: 35 U.S. diplomats could be expelled

Russia is considering expelling 35 U.S. diplomats in a retaliation move against a possible new set of Washington&rsquo;s sanctions against Moscow, Prime business news agency reported with reference to the Kommersant business daily. News 27 July from UNIAN.

This Is How the Russians Recruit You

In many ways, their job is akin to a job in sales: They must chase down leads and then try to close out a big deal. The meetings were so intense that afterward I would dry heave.

Senate, House leaders strike a deal on sanctions – The Washington Post

The Senate will vote on the House-passed measure stepping up sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea, in exchange for a promise to consider expanding congressional checks on the president later.

U.S. Congress Reaches Deal Clearing Way For Russian Sanctions Bill

Republican leaders in the U.S. Congress late on July 26 said they had reached an agreement clearing the way for final action on a bill that would impose new sanctions on Russia and put them into law…

Sanctions Bill Hits Hurdle in Senate Over North Korea Penalties – NBC News

WASHINGTON — A new package of financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea has a hit a snag in the Senate, where the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee has objected to the House’s decision to include penalties targeting Pyongyang in the legislation.

Senators alarmed by Russian influence on U.S. politics – POLITICO

High-profile Trump campaign witnesses were absent from the hearing after agreeing to behind-the-scenes interviews.

Russia probes: Enough, comrades. Do your jobs and stop your immature, partisan posturing | Fox News

It’s time for the Trump haters to back off. The leap to judgment that many elected officials are making is immature, partisan posturing.

Chuck Grassley Wants to Know More About Ukraine’s Influence During the Election on Behalf of Hillary Clinton – Katie Pavlich

Chuck Grassley Wants to Know More About Ukraine’s Influence During the Election on Behalf of Hillary Clinton – Katie Pavlich: Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley wants to know more .07/27/2017 0:02:49AM EST.

Trump’s not alone: Congress digging into DNC-Ukraine connection | Fox News

Republicans in Congress have joined the White House in asking questions about the extent to which a Democratic Party consultant may have worked with Ukrainian officials to hurt then-candidate Donald Trump’s presidential bid last year.

U.S. Senators Question FBI About Foreign Agents Law, Russia Lobbying Efforts

WASHINGTON — U.S. senators have questioned Justice Department and FBI officials on the enforcement of a key law regulating lobbying activities by people who work on behalf of foreign government…

Foreign Agents Take Center Stage In Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing – To Inform is to Influence

July 26, 201710:01 AM ET BRIAN NAYLOR A senior FBI official said Wednesday the nation is “under relentless assault” from foreign adversaries, as the Senate Judiciary Committee continued its probe into Russia’s interference with last year’s presidential election. Bill Priestap, assistant director of counterintelligence at the FBI, painted a bleak picture of efforts — both…

Donald Trump Jr.’s Russia Meeting Was Allegedly About the Magnitsky Act. What the Hell Is the Magnitsky Act? – Mother Jones

 

Senate hearing proceeds without anticipated testimony from Paul Manafort, Donald Trump Jr. – CBS News

Donald Trump Jr. and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort were expected to testify

Paul Manafort Strikes Deal to Avoid Public Testimony – WSJ

President Donald Trump’s former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort reached an agreement with Capitol Hill investigators Tuesday to avoid public testimony about Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump’s New Ukraine Envoy Changes the Tune – Bloomberg

Getting tough with Russia over Ukraine but not Syria makes no strategic sense.

Pentagon ‘worried Trump was going to declare war on North Korea’ during today’s tweets about military | The Independent

Some officials at the Pentagon where reportedly concerned Donald Trump was set to declare war on North Korea when he started tweeting about his plans for the military.

Trump’s transgender tweets are an affront to the all-volunteer military (Opinion) – CNN.com

Trump’s new policy banning transgender service members violates the very ideals behind our all-volunteer force and deprives us of much-needed talent, write John Kirby and Mark Hertling.

Transgender ban resonates in Danica Roem’s race against Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall – The Washington Post

Danica Roem is vying to oust incumbent Robert Marshall, who called for a ban on LGBT members of the National Guard.

Trump tweets fuel Tillerson frustration – CNNPolitics.com

How hard is it to be President Donald Trump’s top diplomat?

Foxconn announces U.S. manufacturing plant in Wisconsin

Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn on Wednesday announced plans to build a $10 billion LCD display panel screen plant in Wisconsin, a deal President Donald Trump asserted would not have happened without his efforts.

 

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