Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 3 August 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Provision of lethal aid to Ukraine has produced significant debate in US media, and a favourable main OpEd in the WSJ. There has been a deluge of nonsensical complaints from Moscow about the H.R. 3364 “New Axis of Evil” sanctions act, mostly displaying blind ignorance of how the US (and West in general) works. Good analysis by Mashovets on Zapad 2017, and good DW essay on Baltics learning from Ukraine. Polish DefMin hits Russia on WW2 collusion with Hitler. More on neo-Stalinism in Russia. In Chechnya, gays accused of being part of ISIS.

In Belarus missing blogger was extradited to Russia. Spat between Moldova and Russia escalates. Jamestown analyse vulnerability of Moldova’s sole riverine major port.

Ukraine lobbying Canada for weapons. A Zhytomyr blogger caught disseminating Russia propaganda and being investigated for high treason. Donbass fires continue. RoK and Ukraine discussing possible collaborations in military tech.

Much debate on Iran, as with Russia and the DPRK,  H.R. 3364 has the respective appeaser camps out in strength. Qatar, Libya and Pakistan reports. Debate over Afghanistan strategy intensifies.

DPRK debate continues. PLA fighters and RPVs analysed. Nuclear weapons acquisition debate reignites in Japan.

German election meddling. EU being lobbied over Nordstream 2. Crimea sanction busters investigated. Venezuela reports.

Hacohen paper on Russian strategy is interesting but does not reflect all campaigns, as often the Russians will go to extraordinary lengths to find out everything before moving. Fukuyama interviewed. Good paper by Mitchell Inst on stealth.

New Hamilton 68 website tracks Russian Twitter campaigns. WW2 as a propaganda tool in Russia. Cyber reports including Ukraine.

H.R. 3364 remains a major MSM topic, statements by POTUS and Sen McCain. More on WH shuffles.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Pentagon and State Department Said to Propose Arming Ukraine – The New York Times

While President Obama decided against providing such assistance to the beleaguered country, the issue was rekindled when President Trump took office.

Pentagon Offers Plan to Arm Ukraine – WSJ

The Pentagon and State Department have devised plans to supply Ukraine with antitank missiles and other weaponry, as Kiev battles Russia-backed separatists and ties between Moscow and Washington fray.

US considers option of arming Ukraine – CNNPolitics.com

The Pentagon and State Department have sent plans to supply arms to Ukraine to the White House for approval, according to reports by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal — a prospect that would deeply unsettle Moscow at a time of chilled relations between the US and Russia.

A Trump Card in Ukraine – WSJ

Lethal aid would raise the cost of Putin’s military aggression.

US arming Ukraine? A look at how Moscow might respond

There exists the risk that Ukraine takes U.S. weapons deliveries as approval for a renewed offensive on separatist positions — a move that could prompt Moscow to surge into the region to stabilize separatist positions.

Will Donald Trump Arm Ukraine? – The American Interest

The Pentagon and State Department have a plan to provide lethal aid to Ukraine—but it’s a risky gamble for the White House.

How the U.S. Can Help Ukraine Help — and Defend — Itself – Defense One

When Secretary Mattis arrives for his upcoming visit, he should bring promises of arms for the military and support for anti-corruption forces and the …

Leonid Bershidsky | Sending ‘Defensive’ Arms to Ukraine Would Be Deadly – Bloomberg

Both Russian and U.S. generals have an interest in testing their newer weapons against each other.

NATO in Baltics learns from Ukraine′s mistakes | Europe | DW | 02.08.2017

As Russian-backed forces wreaked havoc among disorganized, often lightly armored and mostly ad-hoc Ukrainian troops, the Baltic states watched. Now NATO allies are implementing blood-stained lessons from Ukraine.

Baltic defenses against Russian aggression should apply “porcupine” approach – expert

Having closely observed the painful trial-and-error process of refuting Russian aggression by Ukraine, the three Baltic states at the forefront of renewed Russia-NATO confrontation are hoping to avoid treading in the same footsteps, Deutsche Welle reported in its article titled &ldquo;NATO in Baltics learns from Ukraine's mistakes.&rdquo; News 02 August from UNIAN.

Dangers of joint “exercises” of Russian army and Donbas militants

A recent report by the “Information Resistance” OSINT community said that in the operational departments of the headquarters of the “1st Army Corps of the Donetsk People’s Republic” and the “2nd Army Corps of the Luhansk People’s Republic” are preparing to take part in the exercises that the armed forces of the Russian Federation will hold in August-September. First of all, thanks to such exercises, the occupation forces will train their interoperability and joint operations with the Russian armed forces (units of both “LPR” and “DPR” will operate alongside the 8th Combined Army of the Russian armed forces, to which they are currently subordinate). And this pushes us to reflect on the issue. After all, the aggressor state (Russia) today is hardly considering such an option as withdrawing from the occupied areas or allowing their reintegration back into Ukraine. Otherwise, there would be no joint exercises planned with the militant forces. Of course, under the guise of these drills, much can be done from a military perspective. Under the cover of conducting exercises, the enemy can regroup its forces and equipment in certain directions, increase or rotate its personnel, etc. Actually, we have already seen something like this back in 2014 when literally ahead of the expected military defeat of the quasi-state formations of the “LPR” and “DPR”, the regular Russian army intervened. This army was disguised as local “militia,” while any presence of Russian troops in Donbas was categorically denied. But everyone on both sides of the front line perfectly understood that had it not been for the Russian regular army, these two fake “republics” would have ceased to exist. However, in 2014, this was an “alarm” act on the part of the enemy – it was done in a great rush. When the Russian military and political leadership decided to use its regular army, they had to pull troops and equipment into the area from virtually all military districts. Today, Russia is systemically increasing its military presence. The 8th Combined Army with a headquarters in Novocherkassk has been established. It includes a new 150th Idrick-Berlin motorized rifle division, while the 20th motorized rifle division and artillery and missile brigades are being formed. That is, we see a full-blown army kit. In fact, they are building up a new instrument on our south-eastern border. And the “1st DPR Army Corps” and the “2nd LPR Ary Corps” are subordinated to the headquarters of the 8th Combined Army. Thus, a clear structure is being created at the operational-tactical level, with a clear command vertical able to ensure control at all levels. But it is up to the Kremlin to decide, in what form, when, why, and in what capacity these troops will be used. Besides, we should not forget that considerable enemy forces are being amassed along other sections of the Russian-Ukrainian border. For example, the 20th Army and the 1st Guards Tank Division are deploying additional units. We are talking about the sections of the border overlooking Sumy, Kharkiv, and Chernihiv regions. Only the Main Intelligence Directorate can suggest whether there will be any spike in Donbas hostilities in connection with these exercises. But, based on open source intelligence, it will hardly be the case. If there is any kind of aggravation (which I highly doubt), it will not be a full-scale invasion in all directions and fronts. If the Kremlin throws its regular army into Ukraine under the guise of “little green men,” “polite people,” “Cheburashkas”, or “teletubbies” (it does not matter how they will do it technically), they will be able to carry out terrorist attacks across Ukraine, sow instability and chaos, and further destabilize the situation. But a full-scale invasion of Ukraine will mean that the current Kremlin regime will go for a final breakup with the entire civilized world. And this will open the door for the Kremlin regime to a modern version of Nuremberg. Even now, amid the latest package of U.S. sanctions, Russia is balancing on the brink. In turn, it’s no coincidence that the civilized world chose such a method of communication with inadequate comrades from the Kremlin as “slow strangulation.” Given that Russia is a nuclear power, with plenty of nuclear power plants, with its vast territories, so far managed from Moscow, a lightning-fast peacekeeping operation or something like this will not stand a chance. This is similar to the way a bull is taken to a slaughterhouse: he is gently petted not to make him nervous and make him enter calmly the stall where he will be electrocuted. Same thing here. Russia is being petted gently, but the grip of a civilized society is getting stronger. Kostyantyn Mashovets is a coordinator at the Information Resistance OSINT community and a military journalist

Is the U.S. Ready for Russia’s Largest Military Exercises Since the Cold War? | Foreign Policy

Before his visit to Estonia, Vice President Mike Pence probably didn’t know the Russian word for “west” — zapad. But he knows it now, because it is the codename for one of the largest military exercises that Russia traditionally undertakes in the Baltic region. Estonia, along with Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland are bracing for the appearance of up to 100,000 Russian troops in Belarus and western Russia, including the imposing 1st Guards Tank Army, ahead of the September exercise. Alarmed at the size of the exercise, set to take place so close to the Baltics, the United States has sent additional forces to the region to reinforce NATO forces already deployed there. The vice president now seems to be the administration’s “go to” person for reassuring allies in Europe that the United States is committed to NATO and to the defense of the continent. He said all the right things in Estonia, visited NATO forces there, and met with Baltic heads of state and government. But unfortunately, both his words and the 600 or so U.S. reinforcements are thin gruel when bets are being placed on the Russians doing something mischievous in September. The Russians may do nothing more than leave behind in Belarus a substantial troop presence to bring that nation to heel and to further intimidate the Baltics. Such a repositioning would also put Russian forces in an advantageous position for an aggressive move against the Baltics later on. Or it could be something worse. All eyes will be watching the Russian exercise buildup in August to anticipate what is in store for September. Thus far, the Russians are not allowing allied observers to monitor the exercise, which is the standard procedure for exercises of a certain magnitude in order to ensure transparency and confidence building. But confidence building is not in the Russian playbook.

Fellow travellers: Russia, anti-Westernism, and Europe’s political parties | European Council on Foreign Relations

Anti-Western elements, exploitable by the Kremlin, exist not only on the fringes of European politics, but reach right into the heart of established parties.

The Morning Vertical, August 3, 2017

ON MY MIND Dmitry Medvedev’s remarks about new U.S. sanctions against Russia were telling for a number of reasons. First, the Russian prime minister said that by imposing additional punitive sanctions, Washington has declared a “full-scale trade war” on Moscow. But a trade war assumes that there is some level of trade to speak of. And in fact, U.S. exports to Russia account for less than 0.1 percent of America’s GDP and U.S. imports from Russia are less than 0.2 percent of America’s GDP. But it wasn’t just a lack of knowledge of the U.S.-Russian trade relationship that Medvedev demonstrated in his comments. Medvedev said that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration “has demonstrated total impotence by surrendering its executive authority to Congress in the most humiliating way.”This remark betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of the separation of powers and of how U.S. democracy works. As the Kennan Institute’s Maxim Trudolyubov writes in a piece featured below, a “key to understanding Moscow’s approach” is the Kremlin’s “assumption that the executive is by far the most important force in any government.” Trudolyubov adds that “Russia is realizing that the constellation of forces it has to deal with in the U.S. includes Congress, the intelligence agencies, law enforcement, and the media — not just the executive.”

Russian Officials See Decades of Conflict With U.S. After Trump Signed Sanctions

In Moscow, the reactions to the signing showed disillusionment with the U.S. president’s apparent inability to change the downward spiral of U.S.-Russian relations. “This is a very short-sighted and even dangerous line, which threatens the stability that Moscow and Washington are especially responsible for,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Reacting to the news on Wednesday, the head of the Federation Council’s international affairs committee Konstantin Kosachyov, wrote that Trump had “surrendered” to pressure from the U.S. Congress. “Out of the three options: confronting Congress (by vetoing the law), refusing to sign (“I don’t agree, but there is nothing I can do”) or sign, the president has chosen the third option,” he wrote. “The U.S. has not left any opportunity for constructive cooperation with Russia,” he added. In his own bilingual post on Facebook, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called the new sanctions “a full-fledged economic war on Russia,” saying Trump’s signing had shown his administration’s “total weakness.” “It ends hopes for improving our relations with the new U.S. administration,” he wrote. “The sanctions regime has been codified and will remain in effect for decades unless a miracle happens. This legislation is going to be harsher than the Jackson-Vanik amendment.” That Cold War-era law from 1974 introduced trade sanctions on the Soviet Union for its restrictions on emigration and freedom of movement. The law was only repealed in 2012 when President Barack Obama signed the Magnitsky Act, which carried its own sanctions against certain Russian officials who were implicated in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. But Medvedev also downplayed the significance of the measures, calling them “meaningless” and even to Russia’s “advantage” because they would encourage the country to become self-sufficient. “What does it mean for us? We will steadily continue our work on developing the economy and social sector, take efforts to substitute imports, and solve major national tasks, relying mostly on ourselves,” he wrote. “We will cope.”

Russia Says Donald Trump Sanctions Amount to ‘Trade War’ | Time.com

Russian officials and lawmakers vented their frustration with President Trump’s decision to sign a bill imposing new sanctions on Russia

Russian Premier Says U.S. Sanctions Bill Ends Hope For Better Ties

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sharply denounced the sanctions bill signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump on August 2, saying it ends hope for improving relations and ignites &quot;a…

Trump sanctions are ‘trade war’ against Russia, Dmitry Medvedev says | Daily Star

FRESH US sanctions reluctantly signed off by Donald Trump amount to a “fully-fledged trade war” against Russia, the Russian Prime Minister has explosively declared.

US sanctions are ‘trade war’ on Russia, says PM Medvedev – BBC News

Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev also says the US sanctions end hopes for improving bilateral relations.

US President Trump signs Russia sanctions bill, Moscow calls it ‘trade war’ – The Financial Express

U.S. President Donald Trump grudgingly signed into law new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday.

Russia blasts US sanctions as ‘economic war’ | world-news | Hindustan Times

The new US sanctions seek to penalise the Kremlin for allegedly meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and for Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

US, Russia hurtle towards dangerous escalation – CNNPolitics.com

The United States and Russia are plunging deeper into their worst crisis since the Cold War, with politics in both nations outpacing the capacity of either government to mitigate the danger.

With Trump’s Hands Tied, Putin Is Free to Act – The Russia File

Today, Russian officials routinely call the U.S. Congress Russophobic while stopping short of criticizing Trump. Yet another round of anti-Russia sanctions signed into a law is a major debacle, considering Russia’s policy goal was to have sanctions lifted altogether through influencing the U.S. executive. It is highly unlikely that Moscow will just leave the situation where it is. One obvious avenue for Moscow is further exploiting the discord between the American executive, the Congress, and other institutions of government and society. This might not bring Russia major victories any time soon, but it would give Russia’s politicians the satisfaction of proving their political thinking right. It is a safe bet that the executive-legislative relations in the U.S. will be so rocky that Moscow will have plenty of chances to point out disagreements and mock America’s political “schizophrenia.” Putin’s spokesperson has done so already. Russian ideologues maintain that viable governance demands the subordination of all branches of government to the executive. Free the executive from the shackles of parliament and the press, and you, too, can be saved. I wonder where Trump stands on that credo.

US establishment will remove ‘non-systemic player’ Trump from power, Russian PM warns

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s remarks came after US President Donald Trump reluctantly signed the new sanctions bill.

UAWire – Polish Minister of Defense: Soviet Union was in collusion with Nazi Germany

Minister of National Defence for Poland Antoni Macierewicz believes that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was guilty of collusion with Nazi Germany. According to him, the goal of this “deal” was the extermination of the Poles. In his speech on the occasion of the 73rd anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising, he stated that “independent Poland was crushed because of the criminal German and Soviet regimes.” According to local media, Macierewicz also said that the desire to restore the “independent, national Polish state” was the main motive of the Warsaw Uprising in 1944. “This idea united all the Poles who opposed German and Soviet barbarism. They had to repel two enemies who conspired against the Polish people,” Antoni Macierewicz claimed. According to him, “this part of history began with the conclusion of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.”

Forget Ukraine, Britain is at the heart of Russia’s new Arctic showdown with the West

The world is not short of hotspots:

The New American Way of Countering Putin Is a Gas, Gas, Gas

The U.S. is taking a leadership role to challenge Russian energy dominance over Europe.

Ukraine Ready to Fight Russia in Court Over First Land Link to Annexed Crimea

Moscow has poured billions into a bridge set to open next year, but Ukraine is preparing a lawsuit against it.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Elites Want ‘Stalinism without Stalin’ and ‘Repression with a Human Face,’ Rubtsov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 2 – Russians do not by their nature “love Stalin,” Novaya gazeta commentator Aleksandr Rubtsov says; instead, they “are being taught to love Stalin because the [Putin] regime really is functioning according to this regime prototype and has not found any other legitimation for itself in history.” This becomes obvious, he says, if one considers that “genetically and functionally, the Russia of the 2000s arose out of the 1990s” and that Putin and his team “assert that everything good that they began in [the first decade of this century] is in no way obliged to Yeltsinism” (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/08/02/73312-stalinizm-bez-stalina). As a result, the Putin regime has had to look past “the pit of the 1990s” to a more distant past, but the question has been to just which past. “As far as ‘cadres’ are concerned, all the persons of the post-Stalin era – Yeltsin, Gorbachev, Andropov, Brezhnev and Khrushchev have been stricken from the record.” “Stalin is the first with whom Putin meets in this retrospective toward the past. And the past: before him is again a fiasco. Lenin and the great tsars, the victors and the reforms fall away. Somewhere in the shadow of the mustaschioed one looms Ivan the Terrible but only as ‘the Stalin of his day.’” As a result of this subtraction, Putin is left alone with Stalin. There are, of course, important distinctions between the two: Today, “there are no mass purges and bloody rotations, not to mention incidents of sadism … the purge of the political field [under Putin] has become incomparably more humane.” There are “show trials” but they don’t end in shooting or torture. Moreover, Rubtsov says, “the techniques of neutralization of hostile classes have been significantly softened.” Small and mid-sized business “like the middle class as a whole” is gradually squeezed but it isn’t suppressed. And the peasantry isn’t facing wholesale expropriation and dekulakization. The methods of “’soft terror’” are employed, but to the same ends: the isolation and ultimate nullification of those the regime objects to. And this process now is much more severe than it was during Brezhnevite stagnation, Rubtsov argues. Indeed, one can only call it “Stalinist.” “History is like a pendulum,” the commentator continues. “Under Stalin, the class struggle sharped; the enemy was everywhere. In the period of ‘stagnation,’ on the contrary, the internal enemy became ‘ideologically non-existent,’ and prison was replaced by punitive psychiatry with the deportation” of the especially recalcitrant. Now under Putin, “the domestic enemy is growing more active with each new victory of ours in the world. Therefore, a new political geography has been established. The state border has been imposed within the country: the opponents of the regime are ‘deported’ politically and broadcast as it were from beyond that border.” Putin moreover is “re-Stalinizing branch by branch.” The regime is increasingly hostile to science, art and culture. “The authorities have always viewed scholars as suspicious ‘specialists,’ but now they threaten the scientific community as a class. The professions are being neutralized and people will say: Putin received a Russia with a hydrogen bomb and left it without an academy and without science. [stress added] The same is true for artists and cultural figures. Putin’s siloviki “also are reviving traditional values” not in pursuit of blood as under Stalin but for money. Reversing the events of two decades ago but recalling Stalin’s destruction of NEP, they are dragging back into the state sector all that was productive when it was in the private o There has been a similar return to Stalinism as far as the relationship between domestic and foreign policy is concerned, Rubtsov says. “In personalist regimes, foreign policy is subordinate to the main goal of the consolidation and strengthening of personal power.” Anything that doesn’t do that is quickly jettisoned. The big difference here, the commentator continues, is that “now the status of power and the meaning of ‘influence’ are much closer to ritual symbolism and the simulacra of propaganda” than to actual events and real power. And this pattern highlights something else, Rubtsov argues. If one examines the situation case by case, Russia under Putin is closer to Brezhnevite stagnation than to Stalinism; but if one considers the direction in which things are moving, then “the vector is closer to Stalinism” than to that of Leonid Brezhnev. But this is “not the most evil irony: the lightened version of Stalinism in a number of regards is turning out to be freer and softer even than in comparison with the era of the 20th Congress. At least so far.” But if things continue in the direction the Kremlin leader has indicated, that will not long remain the case. “Putin needs a dictatorship to prepare for war with America just as Stalin did for the preparation of war with Germany.” The model must be repeated step by step in its latest incarnation. That requires moral re-Stalinization and making the original model more attractive in the eyes of the population.

Effective manager and outstanding historical personality Economist Oleg Vyugin with a macro evaluation of two popular myths about Stalin

A surge of interest in the Stalinist period of the history of the country arose for a reason, and one can hardly say that it happened solely under the influence of state propaganda. There is also a certain movement “from below.” The appeal to one’s own history for better understanding, and most importantly, for justifying the choice of the further path of social development, looks natural. The current one-sided attempts to revive the authority of Stalinism testify to the growing relevance of the choice, which is connected in many respects with the current foreign policy situation and the entry of the domestic economy to known financial and technological constraints. After the Soviet Union ceased to exist, the “orphaned” Russian society on the wave of denial of the totalitarian state and the imperial ambitions of the outgoing power, which brought the country to the brink of disaster, tried to find a fundamentally different model of its political economy, hoping to gain in it other universal values, Spiritual freedom, real opportunities for material and cultural development. However, this search did not come to an end, returning society to questions that remained all this time without a definite answer. This, in particular, speaks about the nature of how the Stalin period of our history was primarily interpreted. Here we find a preference for some popular print of historical truth, and even a tendency to apologize for those events. But this truth is clearly and unequivocally fixed in the materials of the archives, in the works of authoritative domestic historians and the testimonies of contemporaries. It is for these reasons that the image of Generalissimo Stalin, an effective manager and an outstanding historical figure, emerged, corrected under the realities of a market economy, in the modern public sphere.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Russian Civic Nation’ Concept to Be Delivered to Putin Four Weeks Late

Paul Goble Staunton, August 3 – In yet another indication of controversies surrounding the concept paper for a new law on strengthening the unity of the civic Russian nation, Leokadiya Drobizheva says that it will be presented to President Vladimir Putin on August 28 (nazaccent.ru/content/24917-koncepciyu-zakona-o-edinstve-nacii-predstavyat.html). That is four weeks later than the August 1 deadline Putin himself set when he called for the drafting of this concept paper and the latest indication that the entire process remains mired in controversy (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/06/civic-russian-nation-now-defined-in.html). Drobizheva, who is a member of the drafting group and head of the Center for Research on Inter-Ethnic Relations at the Moscow Institute of Sociology, told the Nazaccent portal that “the conception is practically ready: it has passed through discussion in varioius stages both in the republics and in the federal districts.” But she said that discussions continue on the glossary of terms employed in the concept paper and expected to be enshrined in the new law. Among these are “the civic Russian nation,” “civic identity,” “ethnos,” “inter-ethnic accord,” “international relations,” “and others.” All of these are controversial (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/05/proposed-civic-russian-nation-is.html andwindowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/03/putin-tishkov-push-to-define-civic.html).

Single-candidate elections: boycott or sabotage? | Intersection

What can Russian society do in a situation where presidential elections have become a meaningless ritual with an orchestrated finale?

Navalny and the Left

Yesterday, Jacobin published an article Ilya Budriatskis, Ilya Matveev, and I wrote on where the Russian left should stand in regard to Alexey Navalny. The Jacobin asked that I write it after reading my criticism of Alexey Sakhnin and Per Leander’s article “Russia’s Trump.” I approached Budraitskis and Matveev if they wanted to collaborate since the “Navalny Question” is being much debated in Russian left circles, and because they, not me, are on the ground in Russia and have to deal with the political realities and challenges Navalny’s movement presents. Also, I thought that leftists, particularly American leftists, would profit from hearing voices from Russia given the current toxicity between our two countries. Like I said, Russian leftists are thinking about where they stand on Navalny. They recognize his Russian ethno-nationalism and xenophobia. They are perfectly aware of his slurs against people from the Caucuses and Central Asia. They understand his program is a kind of neoliberalism. But despite all of this, the current political conjecture in Russia is such that Navalny’s anti-corruption message mobilizes thousands, particularly young people, to protest. He has politicized tens of thousands. And not just in Moscow, but also in the provinces. Many Russian leftists also recognize that those protesting often retune Navalny’s message to their own particular grievances. So yes, Navalny is a nationalist, but should Russian leftists ignore the political space that he’s opened up? Should they just stand on the sidelines of this movement and hurl condemnations? And for the international left, and the American left in particular, should we remain ignorant of Russian realities, and instead of thinking about them as they concern the citizens of the Russian Federation impose our political frames and our anxieties, thus making Russia just another mirror for our narcissism? Sakhnin and Per Leander’s Jacobin article is one response: Navalny is Russia’s Trump and should be condemned. The Russian left should wait for the “Russian equivalent to Bernie Sanders” to appear.

Russia’s Novaya Gazeta Publishes New Details Of Allegedly Missing, ‘Executed’ Chechens – To Inform is to Influence

The lies and coverups for Russian/Chechnyan crimes, including murder, are horrific. They appear to be officially sanctioned, standard operating procedure, and deniable on purpose. When I first read this I remembered the word Katsap was used in this sort of situation.  Perhaps mongrel might be more appropriate, but the word is probably meaningless in Russian.…

UAWire – Media: Chechen gays hunted as terrorism suspects in Chechnya

Chechen police have announced a search for several homosexuals suspected of involvement in the terrorist group “Islamic State” (ISIS), as …

Trial Of Crimean Journalist Semena Set To Resume In Simferopol

Russian-appointed judges at a court in Ukraine's occupied Crimea region are scheduled to conduct a new hearing on August 3 in the trial of Mykola Semena, an RFE/RL contributor who is fighting wha…

The Daily Vertical: Russia’s Quiet War On Georgia (Transcript)

It’s happening below the radar. It’s not making international headlines. And with everything else going on, it’s easy to miss. But it is nevertheless a good idea to keep a close eye on the quiet, stealthy pressure Russia is applying to Georgia. Russia’s quiet war on Georgia takes many forms. Last week, for example, pro-Kremlin leaders in Russian-occupied South Ossetia announced that they would shut down the remaining Georgian-language schools in the region. The Russification of South Ossetia follows a pattern established in occupied Abkhazia, where all Georgian-language schools in the predominantly Georgian speaking Gali district were closed in 2015. According to a report last month by the U.K. Foreign Office, pro-Moscow authorities have also systematically restricted the freedom of movement, residency, and property rights of ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical The two Russian protectorates have also been thoroughly militarized, with approximately 8,000 Russian troops and hundreds of tanks based there. Russian troops in South Ossetia have been periodically and persistently moving the boundary line in the dead of night, erecting razor-wire fences, putting up so-called border posts, and effectively annexing more Georgian territory. And according to media reports, Vladimir Putin plans to make a provocative visit to Abkhazia on August 8, which is the ninth anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Georgia. And bear in mind that Russia’s quiet war on Georgia is happening with a government in power in Tbilisi that has actively sought to reduce tensions and improve relations with Moscow. Russia’s war on Georgia never really stopped. It just became stealthier.

Explosions At Munitions Depot In Abkhazia Kill Two Russians

Two Russian citizens were killed by explosions that ripped through a munitions depot in Georgia's breakaway region of Abkhazia on August 2. Abkhazia's de facto interior minister, Asla…

Georgian President Says Pence Reassured Tbilisi Over NATO Bid

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili says his country&rsquo;s territorial integrity and its eventual membership in NATO were &ldquo;clearly defined&rdquo; during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence&#3…

President Ponders Saakashvili Regaining Georgian Citizenship

Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili said his predecessor Mikheil Saakashvili needs to decide whether he wants to become a Georgian again. Saakashvili, who was Georgian president in 2004-2013, was stripped of his citizenship in 2015 soon after becoming governor of Ukraine’s Odesa region. That post required him to take Ukrainian citizenship. That was recently annulled by Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, leaving Saakashvili effectively stateless. In an interview with VOA, Margvelashvili appeared to leave the door open to Saakashvili restoring his Georgian citizenship. (VOA)

Belarus Reports

Belarus Extradites Russian Activist Wanted For Alleged Extremism

Russian opposition activist Vladimir Yegorov has been extradited from Belarus to Russia, his lawyer says.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: On Eve of Zapad 2017 Exercise, Lukashenka Names Belarusian Military Inspection Head

Paul Goble Staunton, August 2 – Yesterday, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka replaced the chief of the inspectorate of the Belarusian Armed Forces, the individual who is charged with ensuring that orders from the president are carried out by the country’s military – an especially important post as the beginning of the joint Russian-Belarusian Zapad 2017 exercises approaches. The appointment of Colonel Ivan Boguslavsky was announced yesterday by the Belarusian state news agency. Earlier, he had been acting head of this inspectorate but his appointment gives him significantly more authority in dealing with commanders (belta.by/president/view/boguslavskij-naznachen-nachalnikom-glavnoj-voennoj-inspektsii-vooruzhennyh-sil-belarusi-259745-2017/). In its commentary on this development, the Charter 97 portal notes that “the chief military inspectorate of the Armed Forces of Belarus was founded 25 years ago” and is particularly charged with ensuring that all Lukashenka orders are carried out (charter97.org/ru/news/2017/8/2/258386/). Making this appointment now may give the Belarusian leader a better handle on the situation as the exercises go forward.

Under New Belarus Law, ‘Little Green Men’ Would Mean War

MINSK — Belarus has adopted legislation under which the appearance of armed foreign forces on the country's soil will be considered an act of aggression regardless of whether they are regula…

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

“Wait for an answer, bastards.” What can Russia do to Romania? – LB.ua news portal

“Wait for an answer, bastards.” What can Russia do to Romania?. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin promised to take revenge on Romania after its authorities did not let his flight to Chisinau enter its airspace. “Wait for an answer, bastards,” he tweeted immediately after the incident. How can Moscow answer Bucharest? Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Russia Summons Moldovan Ambassador Over Rogozin Flight Ban

Moldova’s ambassador to Moscow Andrei Neguta was summoned to Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday after his government declared Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin a persona non grata. Rogozin was forced in mid-air on Friday to cancel his official visit Moldova to meet with the country’s president, Igor Dodon. As the S7 airlines plane carrying Rogozin approached Romania, that country unexpectedly denied it entry into its airspace, the deputy prime minister said in an interview with pro-Kremlin channel NTV. Rogozin’s plane, low on fuel, was forced to land in Belarus. On Wednesday, Rogozin lashed out at businessman Vladimir Plahotnius, leader of Moldova’s Democratic Party of Moldova, accusing him of masterminding the incident with Romania. Plahotnius, a pro-European politician, has called for the removal of Russian troops from the breakaway region of Transdnestr in eastern Moldova. The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was concerned that “not only high-ranking Russian representatives and peacekeepers, but also ordinary citizens of both countries are targets of provocations.” The ministry concluded by saying that “such dangerous actions can have a serious destabilizing impact on the overall situation in the region and in Europe as a whole,” adding that certain forces inside Moldova’s political establishment were trying to thwart a peaceful settlement in Transdnestr. Following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin was among top Russian officials impacted by an EU travel ban.

Moldova-Russia diplomatic row escalates over ban – BBC News

Moldova declares Russia’s deputy prime minister persona non grata, Moscow threatens to retaliate.

Moldova declares Russian deputy premier persona non grata – The Washington Post

Moldova has declared a Russian deputy prime minister persona non grata, following remarks he made after an aborted visit to the ex-Soviet republic.

Moldova Declares Russian Deputy PM Rogozin Persona Non Grata

CHISINAU — The Moldovan government has declared Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to be persona non grata. The government approved the move initiated by Foreign Minister Andrei Galbu…

How Vulnerable is Moldova to a Russian Invasion Through Its Only Port? | Jamestown

Moldova is a landlocked country, but unbeknownst to many, it has an international port on the Danube that is accessible to seagoing vessels. The Port of Giurgiulești (some 130 kilometers from the Black Sea) presents large economic opportunities as well as significant security vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities increase as the security situation in the region worsens. On July 17, after almost two decades of negotiations, Ukraine finally agreed to allow Moldovan customs and border police onto its checkpoints along the Transnistrian segment of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border (Europalibera.org, July 17). In response, Tiraspol threatened to escalate the conflict with Chisinau (Novostipmr.com, July 17). Subsequently, Moldova’s government banned Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Rogozin from landing in Moldova on a military plane en route to Transnistria. Rogozin was further annoyed by the Moldovan parliament’s almost traditional call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the separatist region, prompting him to issue a veiled threat by comparing the current situation in Moldova to that of Georgia prior to the 2008 war (Timpul.md, July 21). All the while, Russian soldiers in Transnistria were practicing crossing the Nistru River, which divides the separatist region from Moldova proper (Mil.ru, July 20). Ironically, during the same time, Moldovan soldiers appear to have been barred yet again by their own government from taking part in a major international exercise, “Sea Breeze 2017,” which could have included a scenario of defending the Giurgiulești port from an enemy takeover. The Giurgiulești port became possible following a 1999 land exchange agreement with Ukraine, which offered Moldova 430 meters of Danube shore. Following the opening of an oil terminal in 2006, the Moldovan government had high hopes for the port to help reduce the country’s energy dependence on Russia (BBC News, February 21, 2006). Yet, even after the opening of terminals for passengers, grain, vegetable oil and cargo, the port’s economic output failed to meet expectations. Instead, it became a source of scandals beginning with the lease agreement of the port’s general investor and operator ICS Danube Logistics LLC, the controversial practice of foreign vessels registration, including of Iranian vessels under international sanction, and strained relations with Ukraine as Moldovan-flagged vessels continued to anchor in annexed Crimea (Anticoruptie.md, April 1, 2016). Nonetheless, both the government and the private port operator continue to have grand plans for the port and the surrounding free economic zone. However, poor infrastructure connecting the port to the rest of the country, as well as the narrow shore strip and shallow waters in that portion of the Danube, make a future port extension project a tall order (Canal3.md, November 29, 2015).

Ukraine Reports

Ukraine still hopes to get Canadian weapons – ambassador – 03.08.2017 09:53 — Ukrinform News

03.08.2017 09:53. Ukraine hopes to break the deadlock in talks with Canada on the provision of lethal defensive weapons and the strengthening of sanctions against Russia, Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko has said.&nbsp;

In Kiev, Russia-blamed assassinations are becoming commonplace in ‘hybrid war’ amid eastern Ukraine’s uprising | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

At least five attempted or successful assassinations have targeted Ukrainian officials or other prominent figures in Ukraine in the past year.

Spotlight: Ukraine strengthens dialogue with West, but EU, NATO memberships not on agenda – Xinhua | English.news.cn

KIEV, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) — Frequent visits by senior officials of the UN and the West to Ukraine last month were seen as signals of continuing support to Kiev amid the crisis. Seen as Kiev’s diplomatic climax, the visits, however, showed that the East European country may only count on the partnership with NATO and the EU, without near-term membership prospects.

Ukrainian blogger suspected of high treason

Officers of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) branch in the Zhytomyr region say they have suppressed activities of a local blogger and journalist who was allegedly preparing and disseminating materials that the special service believes were anti-Ukrainian and produced ‘as directed by Russian handlers’. The journalist was updated on the scope and desirable content of the materials he should prepare by mail or via an online messaging service, the SBU press center said on Wednesday. Sometimes he was allowed to pick up a topic by himself, the SBU said. He received the money for his publications via international systems of online payments, it said. The journalist published his articles on six websites which were administered from Russia and those Ukrainian territories not controlled by Kyiv, the SBU said. The experts that studied the texts by the Zhytomyr journalist have “exposed their manipulative influence on the consciousness of readers and the fact that they incited the audience to commit specific actions to the detriment of the sovereignty and independence of the Ukrainian state”, it said. SBU officers searched the blogger’s home, where they seized copies of some contracts on the fabrication of articles, alongside acts of acceptance of the works in exchange for the agreed remuneration and the bank cards to which the money was transmitted, the SBU said. “The blogger-journalist was told that he is suspected of committing the crimes specified in Article 111 Part 1, Article 110 Part 2, Article 161 Part 2, and Article 258-3 Part 1 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code. The question of selecting the measure of restraint against him is under consideration. The pretrial inquiry is ongoing,” the SBU said.

Russian proxies attack Ukraine 30 times in last day, use heavy weapons

Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 30 times in the past 24 hours, according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 03 August from UNIAN.

Ukraine’s infantry was forced to advance in Svitlodarsk area due to constant Russian provocations, – Mysiahin

03.08.17 11:21 – Ukraine’s infantry was forced to advance in Svitlodarsk area due to constant Russian provocations, – Mysiahin Ukrainian military were forced to advance into the occupied territory and take new positions due to constant provocations by the Russian troops. View news.

Poltorak arrived in ATO zone to check condition of military equipment – 03.08.2017 11:48 — Ukrinform News

03.08.2017 11:48. Defense Minister of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak notes a proper condition of military equipment and living conditions of our soldiers from artillery and tank units in the ATO zone.

Ukraine, South Korea discuss strengthening of military cooperation – 03.08.2017 10:11 — Ukrinform News

03.08.2017 10:11. Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov has initiated a meeting of the Ukrainian-South Korean commission on military and technical cooperation, according to a report posted on his official website.&nbsp;

Ukraine, Korea may hold joint commission meeting on military-technical cooperation

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov and Korean Ambassador to Ukraine Lee Yang-goo have discussed issues at a meeting in Kyiv to deepen bilateral cooperation in the military-technical and space spheres.

UAWire – Head of DPR Zacharchenko wants to introduce death penalty for corruption

The head of the separatist, self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Alexander Zakharchenko, said during the broadcast of Donetsk Format …

UAWire – Resident of Crimea to be sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for hanging Ukrainian flag over his house

The authorities want to sentence Crimean activist, Vladimir Balukh, to five years in prison for hanging the Ukrainian flag over his house, as …

Pennsylvania coal company wins $79 million deal to supply Ukraine – The Boston Globe

Officials said the deal would bolster a key US ally often threatened by Russia.

Forget Saakashvili’s political career. Ukrainian democracy is in danger. – The Washington Post

Ukraine’s latest political scandal is transfixing experts. But they may be missing the bigger story.

Former Ukrainian President’s Treason Trial Adjourned Again

KYIV — A Ukrainian judge has adjourned the in-absentia treason trial of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Judge Vladyslav Devyatko rejected a request by Yanukovych to give him anothe…

A hot destination: Radioactive Ukraine | National Post

Once unthinkable, guided tours of Pripyat — once a closed Soviet city for Chernobyl workers — and a former missile base are in growing demand

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

It’s time to take on the Iran-North Korea nuke alliance | New York Post

Iran or North Korea? Which threat should America confront first? Here’s a thought: both. Save for the weather, North Korea would’ve tested an…

Trump’s misguided rush to scrap the Iran deal – The Washington Post

In his zeal to dismantle Obama’s legacy, Trump risks a destabilizing war.

Trump’s Stumbling Toward War With Iran

While Iran and the other signatories of the nuclear deal will uphold it, Trump seems determined to renege, even if that means ignoring evidence and sidelining his administration.

Iran: US sanctions designed to derail nuclear deal – CNN.com

The US is undermining the Iran nuclear deal by imposing sanctions on the country, a ranking Iranian official has said on state TV.

Iran says new US sanctions violate nuclear deal, vows ‘proportional reaction’

Iran said new sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday break the terms of its nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, and vowed an “appropriate and proportional” response.

US Accuses Iran of Destabilizing Afghanistan | TOLOnews

Tillerson said Washington was working with its allies in the region to minimize Iran’s efforts to destabilize certain countries including Afghanistan.

The Iran nuclear deal remains the best of a few bad options – Opinion – Israel News | Haaretz.com

Netanyahu repeatedly sets goals that may be desirable but are unattainable. It is to be hoped that at least in regard to Iran, he will adopt a different approach

Iran Brags about Killing Americans | commentary

A commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps bragged about the Islamic Republic’s role in killing Americans in Iraq.

Amnesty International: Iran Vilifies Rights Activists As ‘Enemies Of The State’

Amnesty International says Iran's judicial and security bodies have waged a vicious clampdown on human rights defenders, vilifying and imprisoning activists who dare to stand up for people&rsquo;…

Iran’s supreme leader endorses Rouhani as president for second term

Iran’s supreme leader formally endorsed Hassan Rouhani as president in a ceremony broadcast on state television on Thursday, after Rouhani secured a second term in a landslide election win on May 19.

Amazon says it is under investigation for selling goods to Iranian embassy, others – The Washington Post

Amazon said it has “voluntarily reported” those transactions to the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments, which are leading the investigation, and that the review could lead to “the imposition of penalties.”

Qatar is worst in the region on counterterrorism, but other Gulf monarchies are not off the hook | HuffPost

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly signed a U.S. cable in 2009 stating that Qatar’s counterterrorism cooperation ranked “worst in the r…

Qatar Buys Italian Warships as Persian Gulf Crisis Deepens – The New York Times

The foreign ministers of Qatar and Italy reached a deal for seven warships on Wednesday, as the two-month-old Gulf crisis appears unlikely to abate.

Qatar and Italy sign a nearly $6B deal for naval vessels – The Washington Post

Qatar on Wednesday signed a 5 billion euro ($5.9 billion) deal to purchase seven naval vessels from Italy, a reminder of the small Gulf state’s purchasing power despite a blockade from neighboring countries.

Qatar to buy seven navy vessels from Italy for €5bn | Qatar News | Al Jazeera

Italy’s foreign minister hails ‘excellent’ ties with Qatar and voices support for its plans in the international arena.

Russia in Libya: War or Peace? | European Council on Foreign Relations

Europe must use its diplomatic leverage to ensure that increased Russian involvement does not come at the cost of further destabilisation on Europe’s southern border.

Trump Says U.S. ‘Losing’ Afghan War in Tense Meeting With Generals – NBC News

Trump compared Afghanistan to the ’21’ Club, pushed to fire the U.S. commander, and also said the U.S. should get some of the country’s mineral wealth.

Blackwater founder wants to boost the Afghan air war with his private air force

Erik Prince, the former CEO of the private military company formerly known as Blackwater, wants to run the Afghan air war with a private air force capable of intelligence collection and close-air support, according to a recent proposal submitted to the Afghan government.

A private air force for Afghanistan?

A private security firm known as Lancaster6 has offered to provide the government of Afghanistan with a “turnkey air wing” with range of aviation assets.

Pakistan democracy at risk after removal of Nawaz Sharif

Pakistan’s democracy may be in danger following the removal of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — a move set to widen uncertainty and boost the military.

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

The Air Force test firing a ballistic missile today was routine. Growing tension with North Korea is not. – The Washington Post

Officials stressed this was a routine launch and not a response to North Korean missile tests.

North Korea threat requires some help from China – Washington Times

On April 23, 2003, China, at the request of the U.S., hosted three party talks with North Korea and the U.S. Early that month, when bilateral relations with North Korea were tense, Secretary of State Colin Powell asked China to intercede with North Korea to convene direct talks between the U.S. and North Korea. China complied and got North Korea to the negotiation table.

McMaster stresses ‘grave threat’ posed by North Korean missiles | TheHill

White House National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster in a new interview emphasized the “grave threat” North Korea’s nuclear ambitions pose to the United States.

US Assures ASEAN: North Korea Will Not Overshadow South China Sea Talks

Washington continues to press for a legally binding and effective mechanism on South China Sea disputes

Tillerson to press China and ASEAN states on North Korea in Manila

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will press China and other Asian countries to take tougher action against North Korea when he attends regional meetings in Manila starting this week, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Re-Entry Vehicle Failed During North Korea’s 2nd ICBM Test, Video Suggests

North Korea's recent intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test apparently wasn't a complete success.

US bans travel to North Korea from September, says Americans should leave

The U.S. has ordered a ban on travel to North Korea by U.S. passport holders effective Sept. 1, and advised all nationals to leave by that date.

19 photos of North Korea’s ‘Hotel of Doom’ | Business Insider

Much confusion and mystery surrounds the…

China Shows New Fighters, Missiles and Drones | Defense News: Aviation International News

The appearance of new Chinese fighters, missiles and drones in a big military parade suggests that entry into service has already occurred.

Would Japanese nukes stop North Korean aggression? Tokyo taboo weakens amid NK testing | Fox News

As North Korea advances its nuclear ambitions with yet another test of a long-range missile system, the once unthinkable has started to go mainstream in Japan: a discussion of the idea that Japan needs to have a nuclear deterrent of its own to survive in an increasingly unstable region.

Foreign Policy Reports

German Election: Waiting For Leaks – DFRLab – Medium

Hackers already targeted elections in the United States and France. Are they building the infrastructure to attempt the same in Germany? Germans go to the polls in September to elect a new parliament…

Juncker: New U.S. sanctions on Russia only after consultation with allies

A top European Union official said Wednesday he is broadly satisfied that changes made to the U.S. Russia&nbsp;sanctions&nbsp;bill will protect European interests, The Wall Street Journal reports. News 02 August from UNIAN.

Why Europe Opposes the U.S.’s New Russia Sanctions – The Atlantic

Moscow isn’t the only one that could be negatively impacted.

EU seeks negotiating directives from member states for Nord Stream 2 talks with Russia

The European Commission has adopted its proposal for mandate from the European Union member states for talks with Russia on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project and is now discussing it with the member states, Peter Wagner, the head of the Support Group for Ukraine, has said.

UAWire – Lithuania to investigate local companies doing business in Crimea

The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement appealing to the Prosecutor General's Office in case of media reports about …

UAWire – Ex-Deputy of German Bundestag is being investigated over his visit to Crimea

The prosecutor's office of the German city of Karlsruhe began an investigation against a former member of the Bundestag, Jörg Tauss, who visited …

Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro Denies Vote Count Tampering | Time.com

Maduro dismissed claims that voter turnout figures were manipulated, accusing the software firm behind the claim of bowing to U.S. pressure

Venezuela vote on Nicolas Maduro’s constituent assembly to rewrite constitution inflated says Smartmatic voting machine CEO – CBS News

Lending credence to President Nicolas Maduro's opponents, voting tech company says numbers inflated by at least 1 million

Venezuela opposition has few options to combat Nicolás Maduro’s power grab | World news | The Guardian

Amid Venezuala’s escalating violence and political turmoil, Maduro’s opponents face limited options, most of them unpalatable and likely to cause turbulence

Boris Johnson accuses Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro of acting like ‘dictator’ as UK embassy staff evacuated | The Independent

Boris Johnson accused Venezuela’s president of behaving like the “dictator of an evil regime” after two of the country’s leading opposition leaders were seized from their homes at night by state security agents. The Foreign Secretary stepped up his attacks on Nicolas Maduro as he appeared to crack down on his enemies after a widely disputed vote to give his ruling socialist party nearly unlimited powers.

Strategy / Capability Publications

Russian Strategic Logic – To Inform is to Influence

By Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen August 2, 2017 BESA Center Perspectives No. 549, August 2, 2017 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Western observers are often astonished by Russian military decision-making, which defies the principle of waiting for full knowledge of the enemy before acting. The Russian approach holds that it is in engagement of the enemy that knowledge will emerge that can advance an ultimate strategic design. The decision-making of Russian leadership and the logic informing it, particularly in the use of military force in operations outside the borders of Russia, has baffled Western onlookers over the past decade. In three events of global strategic import, Russian actions took the West by surprise: the large-scale maneuver in Georgia in the summer of 2008; the operation in Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea; and the intervention in Syria. What is the strategic rationale behind these moves? What, for example, is the aim of the Russian intervention in Syria? Has Russia defined an end-state in light of which it calculates its steps in the campaign?

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen | Russian Strategic Logic

BESA Center Perspectives No. 549, August 2, 2017 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Western observers are often astonished by Russian military decision-making, which defies the principle of waiting for full knowledge of the enemy before acting. The Russian approach holds that it is in engagement of the enemy that knowledge will emerge that can advance an ultimate strategic design. The decision-making of Russian leadership and the logic informing it, particularly in the use of military force in operations outside the borders of Russia, has baffled Western onlookers over the past decade. In three events of global strategic import, Russian actions took the West by surprise: the large-scale maneuver in Georgia in the summer of 2008; the operation in Ukraine, including the annexation of Crimea; and the intervention in Syria. What is the strategic rationale behind these moves? What, for example, is the aim of the Russian intervention in Syria? Has Russia defined an end-state in light of which it calculates its steps in the campaign?

[EWB Interview] Fukuyama: Populism will not undermine global democracy – European Western Balkans

EWB Interview with Francis Fukuyama, world-famous political scientist and the author of the book “The End of History and the Last Man” (1992), widely known for claiming that the end of the Cold War left liberal democracy as the only remaining ideology and the final stage of evolution of human societies. The interview was conducted in Sarajevo, after the workshop “Western Balkans – The Future of Integration”, which European Western Balkans organized with support of the Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, and with the help of Networks and Why Not.European Western Balkans: You wrote in 1989 and 1992 about the “End of History” and the victory of liberal democracy as the final form of humanity’s social evolution. What do you see as the main challenges to liberal democracy today? You previously mentioned authoritarianism, Islamism, populism… Francis Fukuyama: There are several different categories. There is a category of an external threat from authoritarian countries like Russia and China, which are large non-democratic entities that are in different ways challenging the global order and also trying to interfere – particularly the Russians – in the internal politics of democracies. You have an internal challenge that expresses itself in terms of populist nationalism, where you have democratically elected leaders who want to undermine the liberal part of liberal democracy, challenge the rule of law, the independence of the courts and the independent media, and try to delegitimate opponents who get in the way of their agendas. You have to step back and look at what is standing behind this challenge, and I think part of that has to do with inequality and the fact that with globalisation there has been a vast increase in the wealth of countries, and it has not been distributed particularly well. For example, in the United States half of Americans are actually less rich in real terms than they were 20 years ago, because of the deindustrialisation, wages that have not kept up with the cost of living, that sort of thing. That is the core of the support for populist leaders, because they tend to blame the system as a whole and blame the elites for having created this situation.

Mitchell Institute Releases New Study: Survivability in the Digital Age

ARLINGTON, Va (August 2, 2017) —The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the release its latest research study, Survivability in the Digital Age: The Imperative for Stealth by Maj Gen Mark Barrett, USAF (Ret.) and Col Mace Carpenter, USAF (Ret.). Both authors have extensive experiences in modern stealth aircraft operations, which inform this study: Barrett is an F-22 pilot and former F-22 wing commander, and Carpenter served as an F-117 pilot. This Mitchell study about stealth provides a comprehensive unclassified assessment regarding the present-day and long-term viability of stealth technology, including a review of counter stealth capabilities. Barrett and Carpenter highlight that the ability to project power, without exposing undue vulnerability, is a tremendous advantage for the United States at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels of conflict. However, with 25 years now passed since the famed initial night sorties of Operation Desert Storm, it is time to assess how stealth fits into the military power equation for today and tomorrow. Barrett and Carpenter state that stealth is not a binary capability that either works or doesn’t. Instead, the technology has advanced over the years since its initial operational use, and is paired with a range of tactics to maximize its effectiveness in specific scenarios. While adversaries have invested in new technologies that seek to minimize the advantages of stealth, the threat environment has escalated similarly for traditional non-stealth aircraft. Because of this, and other factors, stealth is likely to serve as an invaluable military instrument for decades to come. The Mitchell Institute Research Studies serve as an avenue for innovative, insightful, and effective ideas and solutions that strengthen and enhance aerospace power’s role in securing America’s interests. For more information on the studies, contact Mitchell’s Director of Publications Marc V. Schanz at mschanz@afa.org or visit our website, atwww.mitchellaerospacepower.org.

Report available here: Survivability in the Digital Age: The Imperative for Stealth 

Croatia Begins Hunt For New Fighter | Defense content from Aviation Week

The Croatian government has issued requests for fighter aircraft proposals from five countries as it seeks a more modern, Western-type replacement for its aging Mikoyan MiG-21s.

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

New U.S. Website Aims To Track Russian ‘Disinformation’ On Twitter

WASHINGTON — A pro-democracy group has launched a new website&nbsp;to monitor and highlight what it says is Russian-backed disinformation on Twitter.&nbsp; The site, called Hamilton 68, which wa…

New website aims to track Russian-backed propaganda on Twitter

A website launched on Wednesday seeks to track Russian-supported propaganda and disinformation on Twitter, part of a growing non-governmental effort to diminish Moscow’s ability to meddle in future elections in the United States and Europe.

New Web tool tracks Russian “influence ops” on Twitter – To Inform is to Influence

Hamilton 68 tracks Russian state news and Twitter trolls, shows propaganda trends. SEAN GALLAGHER – 8/2/2017, 6:10 PM The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a bipartisan project backed by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), has launched a Web tool to keep tabs on Russia’s ongoing efforts to influence public opinion in the United States…

Event, 3 August 2017: In Defense of the Fatherland: Russian WWII Narratives as Tools of the Kremlin – To Inform is to Influence

In Defense of the Fatherland: Russian WWII Narratives as Tools of the Kremlin You are cordially invited to a lecture on the topic of In Defense of the Fatherland: Russian WWII Narratives as Tools of the Kremlin with Rachel Bauman M.A. Candidate, IWP Thursday, August 3 4:00 PM The Institute of World Politics 1521 16th…

Review: State Department dysfunction reaches new highs – To Inform is to Influence

@JRubinBlogger This incredibly important article was published in the opinion section of the Washington Post, and it truly is Jennifer Rubin’s opinion. Somehow she must know what Secretary Tillerson is doing and, more importantly, thinking because she is making judgment calls on decisions he has not yet made. He is simultaneously running the Department of…

What do DoD officials think of splitting NSA/CYBERCOM dual hat? – To Inform is to Influence

c4isrnet.com · by Mark Pomerleau · August 1, 2017 A new wide-ranging report issued from the Government Accountability Office examines what the advantages and disadvantages are of the dual-hat arrangement for the head of the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, among other things. For the past few years, there has been much discussion regarding the separation of…

Defending against cyberwar: How the cybersecurity elite are working to prevent a digital apocalypse – TechRepublic

Cyberwar has evolved from the theoretical to the ominous. TechRepublic went inside one of the defenders vs. hackers war games that’s helping countries prepare to defend themselves.

Under Near-Constant Assault, Ukraine Is Desperately Trying to Bolster Its Cyber Defenses – MIT Technology Review

A target of infrastructure hacks, the nation’s government has a long way to go if it’s to protect itself in the future.

Ukraine finally battens down its leaky cyber hatches after attacks

When the chief of Microsoft Ukraine switched jobs to work for President Petro Poroshenko, he found that everyone in the office used the same login password. It wasn’t the only symptom of lax IT security in a country suffering crippling cyber attacks.

US Domestic Policy Reports

Congress readies Round 2 with Trump on Russia – POLITICO

Language in key defense bills would make the administration revive a type of missile banned by a 1987 treaty.

Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Signing of H.R. 3364 | whitehouse.gov

Today, I have signed into law H.R. 3364, the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act.” While I favor tough measures to punish and deter aggressive and destabilizing behavior by Iran, North Korea, and Russia, this legislation is significantly flawed. In its haste to pass this legislation, the Congress included a number of clearly unconstitutional provisions. For instance, although I share the policy views of sections 253 and 257, those provisions purport to displace the President’s exclusive constitutional authority to recognize foreign governments, including their territorial bounds, in conflict with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry. Additionally, section 216 seeks to grant the Congress the ability to change the law outside the constitutionally required process. The bill prescribes a review period that precludes the President from taking certain actions. Certain provisions in section 216, however, conflict with the Supreme Court’s decision in INS v. Chadha, because they purport to allow the Congress to extend the review period through procedures that do not satisfy the requirements for changing the law under Article I, section 7 of the Constitution. I nevertheless expect to honor the bill’s extended waiting periods to ensure that the Congress will have a full opportunity to avail itself of the bill’s review procedures. Further, certain provisions, such as sections 254 and 257, purport to direct my subordinates in the executive branch to undertake certain diplomatic initiatives, in contravention of the President’s exclusive constitutional authority to determine the time, scope, and objectives of international negotiations. And other provisions, such as sections 104, 107, 222, 224, 227, 228, and 234, would require me to deny certain individuals entry into the United States, without an exception for the President’s responsibility to receive ambassadors under Article II, section 3 of the Constitution. My Administration will give careful and respectful consideration to the preferences expressed by the Congress in these various provisions and will implement them in a manner consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign relations. Finally, my Administration particularly expects the Congress to refrain from using this flawed bill to hinder our important work with European allies to resolve the conflict in Ukraine, and from using it to hinder our efforts to address any unintended consequences it may have for American businesses, our friends, or our allies.

Trump says the Russia sanctions bill is unconstitutional. He’s mostly right.

President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Act, passed by the House and Senate last week with the aim o …

In Taking Issues With Russia Sanctions Bill, Trump Follows A Presidential Trend : NPR

President Trump released a scathing signing statement about the Russia sanctions bill he signed into law on Wednesday. Legal and political experts weren’t surprised.

STATEMENT BY SASC CHAIRMAN JOHN McCAIN ON PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNING INTO LAW RUSSIA, IRAN & NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS BILL – Press Releases – United States Senator John McCain

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on President Trump signing into law the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, legislation that strengthens and expands sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea: “I welcome President Trump’s decision to sign legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. The enactment of this legislation, which enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of Congress, sends a strong message to friend and foe alike that the United States will hold nations accountable for aggressive and destabilizing behavior that threatens our national interests and those of our allies and partners. “The concerns expressed in the President’s signing statement are hardly surprising, though misplaced. The Framers of our Constitution made the Congress and the President coequal branches of government. This bill has already proven the wisdom of that choice. “While the American people surely hope for better relations with Russia, what this legislation truly represents is their insistence that Vladimir Putin and his regime must pay a real price for attacking our democracy, violating human rights, occupying Crimea, and destabilizing Ukraine. On this critical issue of national security policy, it was the Congress that acted in the spirit of national unity to carry out the will of the American people. And that is why it is critical that the President comply with the letter and spirit of this legislation and fully implement all of its provisions. Going forward, I hope the President will be as vocal about Russia’s aggressive behavior as he was about his concerns with this legislation.”

Trump is stuck with only hard choices on Russia – LA Times

Russian President Vladimir V. Putin has maneuvered President Trump into a corner, leaving Trump with only bad options on Russia.

New GI Bill passes Senate

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have unanimously passed legislation to make major changes to education benefits for military veterans. Now all that’s left is for President Trump to sign it into law.

White House Purging Michael Flynn Allies From National Security Council – The New York Times

Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who succeeded Mr. Flynn as national security adviser, has slowly been removing some of his appointees, angering conservatives.

White House fires a top intelligence adviser

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says one of President Donald Trump’s top intelligence directors has been fired from his role at the National Security Council.

NSC official Ezra Cohen-Watnick removed – CNNPolitics.com

A controversial national security aide to President Donald Trump has been removed from his post, the White House said on Wednesday.

Senior director Ezra Cohen-Watnick out at National Security Council | TheHill

The senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council has departed his role.

How Trump could lose his base – The Washington Post

It’s made up of people who disagree with each other.

More than ‘slacktivism’: we dismiss the power of politics online at our peril

Each individual act of posting, linking, commenting and liking may look insignificant up close, but they add up. There is enormous power here for mass persuasion, one viral share at a time.

 

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