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Russia / Strategy Media Update – 22 August 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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No disclosures as yet on Volker-Surkov meeting, but no shortage of speculation. Zapad 2017 continues to generate a lot of traffic, and some apt observations by Turchenov. Lucas@CEPA on Russian denial of past sins. Whitmore@RFE/RL on the current frenzy of speculation on who might replace Putin – Volodin’s now famous “there is no Russia today if there is no Putin” sounds a lot like the famous Rudolf Hess line: “Hitler aber ist Deutschland wie Deutschland Hitler ist!”, and we all know how that ended.  Krasheninnikov speculates on whether Russia’s siloviki would back Putin in any real crisis. A multiplicity of reports depicting Russia’s descent into the abyss. Another self-inflicted environmental disaster as Chinese moths devour ancient forests.

Ongoing spats between Belarus and Russia. Moldovan civil society vs. the state.

In Ukraine, SECDEF visit starting tomorrow is a major MSM theme. First Pres Leonid Kravchuk observes Ukraine is jumping off the sinking ship of Russia. Donbass fires continue, as does incendiary campaign against crops. Important new bridge opened across Siversky Donets River at Izium, Kharkiv Oblast. First US coal shipment departs for Ukraine. Portnikov on the  “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine. Six interesting reports on Crimea, especially broadcasting and the Kerch bridge.

Two shipments from DPRK to Syrian chemical weps program intercepted. POTUS Afghanistan speech (very good) produces much MSM traffic.

Two articles on Russian support for DPRK. Debate continues, including obligatory appeasement argumentation. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin write OpEd for NYT obliquely fingering Russia for the ICBM tech – he is an aerospace engineer and graduate of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, holds a master’s degree in physics and mathematics, and worked in arms control. NYT publishes decent primer on DPRK ICBM issues.

SDP hits at Erdogan, while Poland blames Germany for EU terrorism wave – unfair as most of the terrorists are home grown.

Two excellent essays on Russian propaganda production, up close.

Russians apoplectic over US restrictions on visas.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Kremlin Aide Upbeat After First Meeting With U.S. Envoy for Ukraine | World News | US News

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Kremlin Aide Says Discussed ‘Fresh Ideas’ With U.S. Envoy To End Ukraine Conflict

A Kremlin aide has made upbeat remarks after talking with the new U.S. special envoy for efforts to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine, saying they discussed &quot;fresh ideas&quot; in a &quo…

Asta Andrijauskienė on Twitter: “Lithuania welcomes growing #US support for #Ukraine: meeting with US Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations”

Volker, Linkevicius meet in Vilnius – 22.08.2017 17:06 — Ukrinform News

U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker has met with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius in Vilnius.

Klimkin sees results of Volker-Surkov meeting as positive – 22.08.2017 14:57 — Ukrinform News

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has described as positive the results of yesterday's meeting in Minsk between U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker and Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov.

Deputy minister on Volker-Surkov meeting: I believe decision on Donbas has been taken

The Russian Federation will be forced to withdraw its forces from the now-occupied areas of Donbas, Ukrainian Deputy Minister for temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons Yuriy Hrymchak told TV Channel 5, commenting on the meeting of U.S. special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker and Putin's aide Vladislav Surkov. Hrymchak said that the decision to withdraw Russian troops from Donbas had already been taken. According to the official, the only thing being discussed now, is how exactly the Russian troops will leave eastern Ukraine. Read also Putin’s aide Surkov playing central role in supervising Donbas militants – media “Some might have thought that Surkov was to go out after the talks, pulling his hair and whining that everything was falling apart [for Russia]. But this just does not happen that way, because he is a grown-up boy and if he has been given five positions that they [Moscow] must fulfill, otherwise there will be a big badaboom to them. SO he just goes out and says that they have almost agreed on everything. The only thing that is surprising is that he hasn’t said a word about imposing sanctions if Ukraine did not comply with Minsk agreements. I think that the decision on Donbas has already been taken, and they will withdraw. The only thing being discussed today is how they will leave, on what terms, and so on,” Hrymchak said.

Russia will have to withdraw troops from Donbas , – deputy minister –

Conclusions that were reached at the meeting between Volker and Surkov, will become known during the visit of the U.S. State Department’s special representative to Ukraine. The decision to withdraw the troops of Russian Federation from Donbas has already been taken, and it will have to take this step. This opinion was stated Deputy Minister of temporarily occupied territories and IDPs of Ukraine Yury Hrymchak on air of 5 channel commenting the results of the meeting between U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker with assistant of Russian president Vladislav Surkov. “I think that the decision on Donbas has already been taken – they will leave. The only thing discussed today is how they will leave, on what terms and so on,” Hrymchak said. In his opinion, Surkov’s behavior after the meeting with Volker was quite natural in this situation, and it would be possible to understand what actually happened at the meeting upon Volcker’s arrival in Kyiv.

Hrymchak: Russia will leave Donbas – 22.08.2017 09:44 — Ukrinform News

The decision on the withdrawal by Russia of its troops from Donbas has already been made, Deputy Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine Yuriy Hrymchak has said. “I think that the decision on Donbas, to a great extent, has already been made. They will go away. The only thing that is being discussed now is how they go away, under what conditions, etc.,” he told Ukraine’s Channel 5, when asked to comment on the results of a meeting between U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker and Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov. In his opinion, Surkov’s behavior after the meeting with Volker was quite natural in this situation. What actually happened at the meeting will be made clear after Volker arrives in Kyiv, he said. “I think he [Volker] will be here [in Kyiv] with the U.S. Secretary of Defense, at our [Independence Day] parade. Let me remind you that the Ukrainian president said in Munich that no decision will be taken without us. So Volker flew first to Ukraine and was on the contact line. Then he visited all of our allies and departed to tell what the Russians need to do. I think everything will be fine,” Hrymchak said. Surkov and Volker met in Minsk on August 21. The sides discussed the settlement of the conflict in east Ukraine.

When Moscow Plays War Games, It Thinks a Few Steps Ahead – Stratfor Worldview

The Zapad exercises, Russia’s largest military drills, have a history of shedding light on the country’s relationship with the West. As this year’s events approach, the West is readying itself for a big statement from the Kremlin.

Russia tests its readiness for major war with west using West 2017 drills –

Russian railway will be used for the transfer of troops and cyber-potential of the country also cannot be ignored. The Kremlin uses the West 2017 military drills to test if Russia is ready for a large-scale war with the West. This was stated by Ukraine’s Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov in his comment concerning joint Russia-Belarus military exercises. “It’s not Russian Armed Forces that prepare for the great war, but a whole Russian state with the such material and other resources. Thus, during the West 2017 drills, the Kremlin checks how much the Russian Armed Forces and the state as a whole are ready for a big war with the West,” he said. Russian railway is involved in the exercises. In particular, it is planned to transfer the control over the railway traffic to Military Communications Department of Russian Defense Ministry in areas of troops deployment. At the same time, military railway transportation is of priority importance and does not account trade and economic activity. The total number of wagons for the transfer of equipment and personnel only in the interests of the Ministry of Defense will exceed 7 thousand units. Only diesel locomotives will be used for military transportations (including on electrified sections of the railway) in order to prevent the disruption of military traffic in case of targeted cyber-attack or other unauthorized influences on the power network. “We cannot exlude the use of offensive cyber-potential of the Russian Federation, in particular the relevant units of the Russian Armed Forces and the FSB, those that disguise themselves as criminal groups to implement a common strategic plan,” Turchynov said. As it was reported earlier Ukraine and member countries of the NATO’s eastern flank are concerned about West 2017, the Russian military exercise slated for September in Belarus. Ben Hodges, the U.S. Army Europe commanding general said.

Russia prepping for “big war” with West – Ukraine NSDC secretary

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov says that with the Russian-Belarusian joint military exercise &quot;Zapad -2017&quot; (West-2017) the Kremlin will test ground regarding the general readiness of its armed forces and the nation as a whole for a &quot;big war&quot; with the West. “It’s not only the Russian armed forces who are preparing for the war but the entire Russian state, along wit the corresponding expenditures of material and other types of resources. Thus, the Kremlin during the Russian-Belarusian joint military exercises Zapad -2017 is testing ground on how its armed forces and the nation as a whole are ready for a “big war” with the West,” the NSDC’s press service quoted Turchynov. In his opinion, against the backdrop of the difficult economic situation, which earlier forced the Kremlin to resort to a defense budget cut, such large-scale exercises cannot be simply an ordinary combat training routine. Read also Poroshenko says Russia may provoke hot phase of war “On the contrary, it is a demonstration of the determination of the Russian military and political leadership toward a tough response to any attempts by NATO/U.S. to react to the Kremlin’s military endeavors in the post-Soviet space. Low attractiveness of socio-political and socio-economic model of modern Russia and growing restraints to its economic potential are forcing the Kremlin to resort to the ‘last argument of kings’ – military force. Consequently, new attempts of the Russian military intervention in the affairs of Ukraine, Belarus, South Caucasus and Central Asia countries cannot be ruled out in the outlined perspective,” the NSDC secretary said. “Zapad-2017 exercise is yet another step by Russia toward the intensification of confrontation across the European continent, requiring a very serious reaction from both the West and Ukraine,” Turchynov said. He assured that the leadership of Ukraine, its Armed Forces, and other security and defense agencies sector had been taking all necessary measures to protect the state.

Turchynov: Russia may create strike groups for invading Ukraine amid “Zapad-2017” drills

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov does not rule out that Russia will create strike groups for invading Ukraine during the Russian-Belarusian joint military exercises &quot;Zapad -2017&quot; (West-2017), the NSDC's press service said. News 22 August from UNIAN.

Turchynov supposes creation of Russian shock groups for invasion of Ukraine – 22.08.2017 12:29 — Ukrinform News

Under the guise of the Zapad-2017 exercises held by the Russian Armed Forces, shock groups of Russian troops might be created for the crossing of the state border and military invasion into Ukrainian territory, National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov has said.&nbsp;

Sweden increases military spending and reintroduces conscription as Russia tensions mount | The Independent

Sweden’s centre-left minority government has agreed with two opposition parties to boost military spending in the 2018 budget as the country faces increased tension with Russia in the Baltics.

Vatican Envoy, Lavrov To Discuss Crises In Middle East Conflict Zones

The Vatican's secretary of state will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on August 22 to discuss preventing humanitarian catastrophes and protecting Christians in Middle Easter…

Congress’s Russia Sanctions: Why Europe Is Furious |

In punishing Vladimir Putin with sanctions on Russia, Congress could also benefit U.S. gas interests. EU leaders question U.S. motives.

So… two @BritishArmy Challenger 2 MBT rpt observed departed Bovington Camp yesterday in famous 80’s Berlin Brigade Urban camo

— Joseph Dempsey (@JosephHDempsey) August 22, 2017

Two columns of British Army Fox armored combat reconnaissance vehicles drive along 17th of June Street during the annual Allied Forces Day parade. The “Siegessaulte” (Victory Column) is in the background.

UK Defence Journal on Twitter: “Images emerge showing Challenger 2 Tanks in urban camouflage similar to the old Berlin pattern, the image was taken in Estonia.”

Edward Lucas | It’s time for Russia to come to terms with the past | CEPA

August marks the 26th anniversary of the failed putsch that led to the breakup of the Soviet Union. That is normally seen as a disaster for the hardliners: they tried to topple Mikhail Gorbachev but failed, meaning that the country broke up, and Russia under Boris Yeltsin emerged onto the world stage—a country which explicitly adopted multiparty democracy and capitalism, as well as Western principles of sovereignty and legality in international relations. The years since have been disappointing in many senses. For a start, Russia has gone from being a country that enjoyed worldwide acclaim for overcoming communism, to one that, under the nearly 18 years of rule by Vladimir Putin, is disliked and distrusted. The latest Pew Research findings show that 60 percent of people around the world, on average, express no confidence in the Russian leader. Only in Vietnam (83 percent), Greece (64 percent) and the Philippines (55 percent) does Russia have a positive rating. The Russian state is now mostly seen as a bully both at home and abroad. Only the current unpopularity of the United States masks the bleakness of the picture; most people polled by Pew said they disliked Donald Trump even more than Putin. Russia is seen as a cautionary tale in economic terms: a country that squandered its chances of economic modernization because it depended too much on natural resource industries. It has built no strong alliances abroad; it has failed to build institutions at home. Its soft power is based on a nihilist anti-Westernism, decrying other countries’ political systems as abusive, failing and hypocritical, but offering nothing positive in return. The anniversary of the 1991 putsch is also a chance to ask some hard questions about what really happened. An excellent new book by Andrei Kovalev, a senior Soviet and then Russian diplomat—“Russia’s Dead End”—highlights some of the mysteries. Why was the coup so shambolic? What happened to the Communist Party’s money? Kovalev’s controversial contention is that far from being a defeat for the hardliners and the old KGB, the 1991 events in fact cleared the ground for their return. The Soviet Union was unmanageably large; Russia was easier to control. Capitalism offered more opportunities than communism. The destruction of the Communist Party allowed concentration of power elsewhere.

The Morning Vertical, August 22, 2017

ON MY MIND It is striking the degree to which Russian pundits and the Russian media are beginning to wade into the topic of life after Vladimir Putin. Not so long ago, the topic was practically taboo. It was less than three years ago, after all, when Vyacheslav Volodin famously said that “there is no Russia today if there is no Putin.” Now, suddenly, we have prominent sociologists like Sergei Belanovsky (in an interview and in a Facebook post, both featured below) proclaiming that “the Putin era is coming to an end” and that “this is an incontrovertible fact which doesn’t depend on how much longer he remains president.” And suddenly we have the St. Petersburg Politics Foundation publishing rankings of Putin’s potential successors — and major Russian newspapers amplifying them (see stories by, Vedomosti, and Kommersant featured below). It’s all a bit odd given that Putin is widely expected to seek — and all but certain to win — a fourth term in the Kremlin in March. And it’s odder still given that, despite a growing protest mood in the country and the rise of Aleksei Navalny as an opposition force, there appears to be no clear and present threat to Putin’s rule, at least in the short term.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Men No More Likely to Defend His System in a Crisis than Gorbachev’s Were in 1991, Krasheninnikov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 21 – Those who mourn the demise of the USSR, especially on anniversaries of the August 1991 coup, should be asking themselves, Fyodor Krasheninnikov says, why “if the USSR was such a great and happy country … how did it happen that in 1991 there turned out to be traitors or incompetents?” If they do so, he argues, they will quickly be forced to recognize that the greatest enemy of an authoritarian state is itself and that in some future crisis, Vladimir Putin’s people however loyal they may appear to be will turn on him and his system just as readily as did the CPSU and Soviet siloviki 26 years ago ( And such admirers of the Soviet system should also be asking how it happened that “the quality of human material who turned out to be at the top of the Soviet power hierarchy” was so pathetic that few if any of those who had pledged their lives to that system came to its defense at all. Instead, they allowed it to collapse without a fight. “Not a single regional party or Komsomol worker could or more likely wanted to call into the streets soviet patriots about the existence of which for decades [Soviet leaders] had talked about from the highest tribunes.” Instead, they showed themselves wavering, indecisive, or incompetent, as did the commanders of the Soviet military and the Soviet KGB. Indeed, Krasheninnikov continues, “when Gorbachev refused to publicly support the clutch of putschists, this led them into a funk. They didn’t have any Plan B. [And] when Marshal Yazov … found out about three accidently killed people, he personally decided to withdraw from Moscow the forces” intended to defend the Soviet system. It is absolutely impossible to imagine Chilean General Pinochet responding in the same way to a refusal by President Allende to join the former’s putsch. For that difference, Russians should be grateful rather than appalled; but they should also reflect on what it says about the systems of rule under which they have lived. Just think about it, he continues. “In 1987, Lenin’s cause still lived and triumphed but after only for years there wasn’t to be found anyone who would do anything for the salvation of his party and his state.” This was truly “a unique situation in world history: the rapid collapse and disintegration of a state without foreign intervention and civil war, exclusively as a result of internal contradictions, ambitions, and the incompetence of the leadership.” Thus, he says, “the greatest catastrophe wasn’t that the Soviet Union disappeared but that it existed and lasted as long as it did. The greatest catastrophe is that millions of people lived and died under repression and poverty for ideas and goals which in the final event no one was prepared to defend.” At that time, “our current rulers came out against the Soviet system” which had raised them up: “the future commander of the Russian Guard stood on a tank alongside Yeltsin, and the future President Putin together with the late Sobchak opposed the putsch in St. Petersburg,” the Yekaterinburg political analyst says. But now “aging in their completely capitalist villas, they regret not about Soviet social guarantees but about that which shouldn’t be regretted – about the imaginary geopolitical greatness, which ‘everyone feared’ because it ‘cold transform the world into nuclear ashes.” They do not recognize that “the main enemy of any authoritarian regime is itself,” including its inability to react adequately to a changing environment, the passivity of its officials which arises because they aren’t subject to competition, and the inevitable disaster that arises when loyalty is more important than active work. But there is a good reason why they don’t want to ask that question, Krasheninnikov says. It cuts too close to the bone. They would soon recognize that “the party apparatus of United Russia is hardly more capable than that of the CPSU” and that the governors the center imposes will not behave any differently that did “Soviet obkom secretaries or tsarist governors.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Anger at Kremlin’s Nationality Policies Bubbles Up at Turkic Cultural Event

Paul Goble Staunton, August 21 – For the first time in 20 years, the Turkic-language peoples assembled last week to share their common cultures; but the event became an occasion for sharp exchanges between those from Moscow who want to elevate the Russian language and a common civic Russian identity above all others and those who want to defend their nations. The meeting was organized by Moscow and Chuvash officials with the explicit purpose of promoting cultural links among the more than 12 million people in Russia who speak closely related Turkic languages, but it rapidly became something more, an indication that the Turks of Russia, long divided by Moscow, may be uniting to defend their common culture. And while there is a long road between expressions of anger at Moscow and of friendship among the Turkic peoples to political unity, this meeting served notice that the Russian authorities cannot count on their past divide-and-rule policies to keep these peoples and their eleven republics apart and thus easier targets for the Kremlin. Moscow’s policies and hopes were presented by Vladimir Zorin, a prominent Russian ethnographer, who began by admitting Moscow’s nationality policy is “often criticized” for being either about festivals or the suppression of conflicts and suggesting that it must focus on “everything in between as well” ( Asked whether meetings like last weekend’s might lead to greater divisions among the peoples of Russia and particularly between large linguistic communities like the Slavic, the Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples, Zorin insisted that was not possible: “we already from the times of the formation of the state have lived together.” “We all together are today solving a two-in-one task: the formation of an all-Russian civic unity and the ethno-cultural development of all peoples who populate our country.” According to Zorin, “the term ‘civic Russian nation’ ‘does not in any case contradict or reduce the meaning of the nation as an ethnos.” He added that he “very much likes the expression that Russia is a nation of nations. It objectively reflects the current moment.” But if the Moscow ethnographer likes it, many of the participants suggested that the promotion of a civic Russian nation is “the beginning of the end” of the country. Alfinur Dibayeva from Orenburg asked “How can we all be joined together if we are different nations? I am against this. Each nation has its own traditions, its own customs, its own language. The variant ‘nation of nations’ is absolutely inappropriate. In the Russian nation, all our nations will be dissolved.” “I am not against Russia and am not opposed to be a civic Russian. But I am against one nation. I am a Tatar and will be a Tatar. I will always represent the Tatar nation,” she said. “But how will I teach Tatar if we will all have a Russian nation? What will be the national language” in that event? According to her, “we have lived in a fraternal fashion and will do so in the future without a civic Russian nation,” however much some people want that. Indeed, she continued, “the civic Russian nation is the very same thing that the Soviet people was: we are turning back to the past and thus may repeat the fate of the Soviet Union.” [stress supplied] Elvira Khasanova, a Nogay from Astrakhan, said that from what she can see, Moscow is “afraid that each nation will defend its rights and its sovereignty. But why shouldn’t this be the case? Now the self-consciousness of peoples has become higher and they want to acquire sovereignty.” What then will remain of Russia? “Only ‘the Golden ring’?” The Nogays, she pointed out, have not been allowed to organize “their own sovereign territory. We have a Nogay autonomous district in Daghestan but it isn’t allowed to unit with the Astrakhan Nogays.” Moscow today is continuing the oppression of the Nogay people that dates to Catherine’s times. But today, she added, “the Nogays have the resources in order to form a Nogay Republic within the Russian Federation.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Drops the People from Uvarov’s Russian Nationalist Trinity

Paul Goble Staunton, August 21 – Russian nationalists of almost all stripes have taken as their touchstone Count Sergey Uvarov’s classical trinity, “Orthodoxy, Autocracy, and People.” But now Vladimir Putin has defined the unity of Russian nationality in a new way, one that drops the third element and leaves Russia as “Orthodoxy plus State Power.” Speaking in Russian-occupied Crimea on Friday, the Kremlin leader argued that Russians now sould make Khersones “a Russian ‘mecca,’” because it was there, in his view, that “the strengthening of the centralized Russian state began,” even though there had been other Russian state projects elsewhere such as Novgorod ( “Here is the ideological basis for the unification of the Slavic tribes into a single Rusisan nation and the strengthening of a single national Russian state on the basis of several components, including a common market, a common language, a common faith, and the power of the prince.” According to Putin, “these are the four main components which led generally speaking to the establishment of a relatively contemporary by the measures of the times of a contemporary unified national Russian state and the establishment in its essential featues of the Russian nation as such.” Many commentators have pointed out just how historically inaccurate Putin’s words about Khersones are – see, for example, Andrey Kurayev’s remarks at — but Russian analyst Andrey Illarionov makes an important point about what Putin’s words say about his understanding of Russia and its nation. “The Putin ideological formula of ‘a single national Russian state’ looks like a common faith and the power of the prince, that is, ‘Orthodoxy plus Autocracy.’” The third element of Uvarov’s trinity – the people – is for the current Kremlin leader “completely superfluous” and thus has been dropped ( Such a statist approach precludes the development of modern nationalism among Russians and means either that they will break out of Putin’s ideological straightjacket or find themselves stunted for yet another century or more while other nations based precisely on the people rather than the state or religion alone will be able to move forward.

Many Russians aren’t protesting against Putin — they want his help – The Washington Post

These are protests of policies, not the government.

UAWire – Putin in Crimea: the influence of the government on the media in Russia has to be minimized

The creative community must itself filter TV and Internet content, and the state’s influence should be minimized in this sphere, declared Russian President Vladimir Putin on August 20 at the Tavidra forum that took place in the annexed Crimea. “It would be right if the community itself developed a system of moral and ethical filters, to minimize if not to exclude, but it would be better, of course, to exclude the state’s influence on this process [the media],” Russian News Agency TASS quoted Putin as saying. He added that he is in contact with the leaders of the country’s main television channels, as well as “with those people who somehow influence what is happening in the Internet.” “I can say that they understand it themselves and try to change this situation for the better somehow. But in the modern world it is difficult to do so, to “filter” the stream of information, there are concerns that this filtration will become ideological and that society will be deprived of the opportunity to gain reliable, open, direct information,” the Russian president said. This is the third Tavrida forum to be held in the Crimea. According to its organizers, the event attracts specialists from various industries: design and architecture, literature, visual arts and music, cinema and animation, journalism, museum issues and history teaching. The event is organized by the Russian Federal Agency for Youth Affairs and its subordinate institution Rospatriotcentr in partnership with the Moscow State Art and Culture University. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the Crimea on August 18. They visited the Cossack Cove educational center, the Chersonese Taurian museum-reserve and the Opera in Chersonese music festival. Putin also met with Dmitry Ovsyannikov, the governor of Sevastopol appointed by Russia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine sent a note of protest to the Russian

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Anti-Extremism Law ‘Most Horrible Thing in Russia Today,’ Moscow Blogger Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 21 – “The most horrific thing in Russia today is not corruption, the poverty or the regions or even poor health care,” Pavel Gladkov says. That is because everyone is at risk of criminal charges for reasons that no one can know in advance or often defend after they are advanced. In Soviet times, everything was clear and understandable, the Moscow blogger continues. One risked charges if one said that he or she didn’t accept Soviet power or its policies. In the US and Europe, the situation is equally clear. There are rules that define what one can do and what one can’t and thus one knows how to act ( But in present-day Russia, nothing of the kind is clear. No one can be sure whether declaring “Orthodoxy or death” will meet with approval or be the basis of criminal charges. No one is certain what can be said about Syria without landing in difficulties with the Russian authorities. Everything in this area is confused and undefined. And something that may be perfectly fine at one moment can land one in prison in another. Posts five or more years ago online can come back to haunt the unwary – and what is especially worrisome anyone at all. As a result, one is afraid to even go on line or post anything there, Gladkov says. “If the state likes such ‘hybrid’ censorship – direct censorship as is well-known is prohibited by the Constitution,” then it needs to be clear so that people will know what they can and cannot do. If the state doesn’t do that, it and not the population is guilty of “the real extremism.”

Russian Theater Director Serebrennikov Detained On Suspicion Of Fraud

Kirill Serebrennikov, a prominent Moscow theater figure who has protested against the government, has been detained on suspicion of fraud, Russian officials say. The Investigative Committee said o…

Russian Activist Arrested Over March 26 Protest Recognized As Political Prisoner

The Moscow-based human rights group Memorial has recognized an activist who is charged with attacking a police officer during an antigovernment protest in March as a political prisoner. Memoria…

Russian ‘Bolotnaya’ Protester In Solitary Confinement Days Before Release

The last Russian activist imprisoned following clashes at a protest on the eve of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration to his current term has been placed in solitary confinement days befor…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: The High Price of Putin’s Sochi Olympiad Keeps on Growing

Paul Goble Staunton, August 22 – Vladimir Putin’s Sochi Olympiad was by all accounts the most expensive such competition in history, costing by some estimates more than 50 billion US dollars. But while the world has looked away, the real costs of that public relations spectacular have continued to grow and in ways far more serious than can be measured by money alone. According to a report by three Krasnodar journalists which appeared in yesterday’s Kommersant, the failure of officials to check for infestations of a particular kind of moth in wood imported for Sochi Olympic construction now means that the entire region is at risk of losing possibly forever its unique stands of a rare tree ( The Colchid boxwood (Buxus colchica) had been growing in what is now southern Russia, Abkhazia, Georgia and portions of Turkey for more than 1.8 million years. Ecologists say it played a key role in regulating the chemistry of the water supply there and thus helped keep alive a variety of plants and animals. But because of official greed and incompetence and the push to build infrastructure for Putin’s Olympiad at any cost, these trees are being killed off throughout the region a moth that came to Western Europe from China in 2006, one that EU countries have successfully countered, but that jumped to the North Caucasus beginning in 2012. In only five years, stands of this ancient tree have been left “at the edge of complete disappearance,” according to Kommersant. Greed and a desire to show progress on a Kremlin-backed project is largely to blame for the death of many and the dying off of the rest, Boris Tuniyev, a Sochi ecologist says Especially unfortunate is the fact that the subtropical climate of the region where Putin chose to organize a winter Olympics gives the moths that eat the boxwoods greater chance opportunities to do their destructive work. Elsewhere, these moths may have only one generation per year; but in the North Caucasus, they have as many as four. Moreover, experts say – and they warned about this five years ago – the moths in question have no natural enemies in the Caucasus. Consequently, as they have multiplied, they have been able to eat the leaves of the boxwood and kill it with few chances that they can be stopped without human intervention. But that hasn’t happened in an effective way, environmental activists say, because “in this case, legislation designed to protect the environment has interfered with nature.” Russian laws block the use of chemical pesticides in protected areas, and so no one in the North Caucasus has been able to legally use them against the boxwood-destroying moths. People in the region have complained and asked for an exemption, but officials have simply folded their hands and said there is nothing they can do. This situation is further worsened by the fact that there are several countries and regions involved and little coordination among them. Killing the moths one place won’t stop them if they flourish elsewhere. Despairing of being able to save the boxwoods in the wild, activists and government scientists are now trying to raise new trees in greenhouses where they can prevent the moths from doing their worst. But that is a long-term strategy and one that will do little to stem the rising costs of the Putin Games. “Even if they are able to save the boxwood” in this way, one expert points out, that “won’t correct the harm to nature already inflicted.” Moreover, the boxwood “grows very very slowly. In 70 years, it increases in height only by two or three meters.” One will have to wait 500 years to see the trees at the same height many of them were before the Olympiad. “Neither we nor our children will have see boxwood forests again,” he says.

Buxus – Wikipedia

Court Upholds Life Bans On Two Russian Athletics Officials In Doping Scandal

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Russia has finally paid off the last of its Soviet debts — Meduza

The Russian Finance Ministry says it’s transferred $125 million to Bosnia and Herzegovina, meaning that Moscow has now finally paid off all its Soviet debts.

Russia Says Clears Last Soviet Debt With Payment To Bosnia

Russia says it has settled the last of the foreign debt it inherited from the Soviet Union when the U.S.S.R. collapsed more than a quarter-century ago. The Finance Ministry said on August 22 tha…

On Birthright, Russians and Ukrainians bond over Jewish identity – Diaspora – Jerusalem Post

Of the 3,100 Russian-speaking Birthright participants who visited Israel this summer, 800 were Ukrainian and 1,800 were Russian.

Belarus Reports

The Daily Vertical: Best Frenemies Forever (Transcript)

They’re arguing about milk. They’re quarreling about customs. And they’re squabbling about ports. For two countries that are supposed to be close allies, who are part of a “union state,” and who are about to hold massive joint military exercises, Russia and Belarus sure do seem to be bickering a lot. As Russian troops arrived in Belarus for next month’s Zapad-2017 war games, Russia banned some Belarusian dairy products. Vladimir Putin also publicly pressured Belarus to export its refined petroleum products via Russian ports, rather than those in the Baltic states, as Minsk prefers. And Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka used a recent interview on the Kremlin-controlled Rossia-24 state television channel to lash out at Moscow over the behavior of Russian customs officials and border guards. Meanwhile, rather than showcasing unity between Moscow and Minsk, the upcoming Zapad-2017 war games seem to be highlighting their differences. Belarus appears to be bending over backwards to make the exercises as transparent as possible and to reassure Minsk’s Western neighbors that they won’t be used as a platform for mischief. Russia appears intent on using the war games as a psyop. The ongoing discord between Minsk and Moscow is a stark barometer of the widening gap between Russia and its neighbors. Because, let’s face it, Belarus ain’t Ukraine and it ain’t Georgia. It’s a Russian client and it’s pretty safe to say that it won’t be seeking NATO or EU membership anytime soon. In fact, it’s often said that Russia wants to turn Ukraine and Georgia into Belarus. Well, Belarus already is Belarus. And the fact that its relations with Moscow are so persistently rocky speaks volumes.

Belarus vs. Russia: the Battle for the Baltic States

Moscow actually presented an ultimatum to Minsk, forcing to refocus the transit of refinery products to the Russian ports. Riga and Klaipeda can stay on a starvation ration. “It is very significant that Vladimir Putin actually issued an ultimatum about switching the Belarusian transit routes just one month before the start of the Zapad-2017 exercise, that is, on the eve of the moment when Russian troops enter Belarus. That in itself has long caused great tension in the region, “Andrei Aksenov, expert on economy of the civil campaign” Our House “commented on the situation to Rosbalt. – But Minsk also has arguments to defend itself. For example, last year, at the height of the “oil and gas conflict”, Minsk raised the tariffs for the transit of Russian oil through its territory 1.5 times. And only when the problem issue in the sphere of energy supplies was settled, Belarus returned the previous tariffs for the transit of Russian oil. ” Indeed, today through Belarus transit is 25% of Russian gas supplied to Europe and 30% of Russian oil exported. That is, the “transit war”, if it inflames, will be extremely unprofitable for both sides – both Moscow and Minsk. Another thing is that for Russia it will be just temporary troubles, but the Belarusian economy in such a situation can quite suddenly die. Denis Lavnekevich, Minsk

Russian General: We Are Going To Use Syrian Experience At Military Exercises With Belarusians – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

Particular attention will be paid to installing railway and road bridges and crossings. Special exercises of logistic support forces of the Russian Federation and Belarus are taking place in Luga (Leningrad region). The maneuvers are being conducted taking into account the experience gained in Syria, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Dmitry Bulgakov says. “These are planned exercises and they are being conducted considering the experience of modern local wars and armed conflicts, including the Syrian one,” – the military leader specifies. The exercises focus on building railway and road bridges, putting bridge and pontoon crossings across water barriers, restoring airfield infrastructure and organizing airfield support. The particular attention is paid to logistic support of soldiers and repair of machinery. The Russian-Belarusian exercises West-2017 will start on the territory of Belarus on September 14. Many Belarusian and European politicians, as well as some military, believe that Russian troops might stay in Belarus after the exercises. We remind that the prevention rally demanding to abolish the West-2017 exercises will begin on Kastrychnitskaya Square in Minsk at 19.00 on September 8.

Belarusian Blogger Calls For Monitoring Over West-2017 Exercises – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

Eduard Palchys calls to record observations over Russian military maneuvers in Belarus by taking photos and making videos. Blogger and creator of the project Eduard Palchys calls to join the civil campaign for organizing public monitoring over the West-2017exercises. He has posted his call on Facebook. “All the not indifferent inhabitants of Belarus living in the area of exercises can record everything by taking photos, making videos and writing reports. And then these data can be shared on the Internet under a hashtag or sent to the media. This information will allow specialists to take an unbiased look at what is happening,” – Palchys told Belsat. The blogger suggests using hashtags # West2017, # Zahad2017 and # Zapad2017. You can also send the information to the website. This year from September 14 to September 20, the exercises will be held at 6 training ranges: Lepelski, Barysauski, Lasvida (Vitsebsk Region), Asipovichski, Ruzhanski and Damanauski (Brest Region), as well as in one section of the locality near the village of Dretun (30 km from Polatsk). International observers are also invited to attend them.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

Moldova’s civil society braces for another attack | openDemocracy

Alongside Georgia and Ukraine, Moldova has one of the most liberal and vibrant civil societies in the post-Soviet space. Just remember the so-called “Twitter Revolution” in April 2009. The revolution, which spelt the beginning of the end for Vladimir Voronin’s Communist Party, indicated the strength and capacity for mobilisation of Moldova’s civil society groups. But almost a decade later, the country’s non-governmental sector finds itself under increasing pressure from the government. Much like Moldova’s Communist Party did during the 2000s, the country’s current ruling establishment, first and foremost the Democratic Party, coopts the church, divides trade unions and de-legitimises prominent civil society leaders by labeling them agents of the opposition. Things took a turn for the worse in June, when the Ministry of Justice proposed adding several controversial provisions to a draft law on non-commercial organisations. These proposed amendments contain stronger regulations that would restrict the right to freedom of association and the independence of non-governmental organisations.

Romania – High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and Related Support and Equipment

WASHINGTON — The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Romania for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and related support and equipment. The estimated cost is $1.25 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale on August 17, 2017. The Government of Romania has requested the possible sale of fifty-four (54) High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) Launchers, eighty-one (81) Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) M31A1 Unitary, eighty-one (81) Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) M30A1 Alternative Warhead, fifty-four (54) Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) M57 Unitary, twenty-four (24) Advanced Field Artillery Tactical Data Systems (AFATDS), fifteen (15) M1151A1 HMMWVs, Utility, Armored, and fifteen (15) M1151A1 HMMWVs, Armor Ready 2-Man. Also included with this request are: fifty-four (54) M1084A1P2 HIMARS Resupply Vehicles (RSVs) (5 ton, Medium Tactical Cargo Vehicle with Material Handling Equipment), fifty-four (54) M1095 MTV Cargo Trailer with RSV kit, and ten (10) M1089A1P2 FMTV Wreckers (5 Ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Wrecker with Winch), thirty (30) Low Cost Reduced Range (LCRR) practice rockets, support equipment, communications equipment, sensors, spare and repair parts, test sets, batteries, laptop computers, publications and technical data, facility design, training and training equipment, systems integration support, Quality Assurance Teams and a Technical Assistance Fielding Team, U.S. Government and contractor technical, engineering, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The total estimated program cost is $1.25 billion.

Ukraine Reports

US Defense Secretary James Mattis to arrive in Ukraine tomorrow – 22.08.2017 11:06 — Ukrinform News

The US delegation headed by US Secretary of Defense James Mattis will arrive in Ukraine on August 23 to take part in celebrations dedicated to the 26th anniversary of Ukraine&rsquo;s Independence.

“Ukraine highly appreciates arrival of U.S. delegation to participate in celebrations of Independence Day” – Stepan Poltorak | Міністерство оборони України

“Participation in the celebrations is an extremely powerful signal from the United States to continue consistent support of Ukraine,” Defense Minister of Ukraine said. According to General of the Army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak, the USA is the main strategic partner for Ukraine in all areas: political, military and economic. “Comprehensive assistance from the United States is a decisive factor for the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in internationally recognized borders. For Ukraine, this is especially important given the development of a security situation in Europe and in the world,” Stepan Poltorak said.

UAWire – Pentagon: US is committed to partnership with Ukraine

The head of the Pentagon, James Mattis, told reporters on August 20 that during his visit to Ukraine he intends to confirm Washington's …

International community should retain diplomatic pressure on Russia, – Pentagon chief Mattis

22.08.17 10:32 – International community should retain diplomatic pressure on Russia, – Pentagon chief Mattis The international community needs to continue to exert diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation to compel it to implement the Minsk agreements. View news.

Breaking away from Moscow due to Russia’s futility – Kravchuk on Ukraine’s vector

First&nbsp;president of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk says Ukraine is breaking away from Russia because Russian future has no prospects, according to&nbsp;an UNIAN&nbsp;correspondent. “We are gradually breaking away from Russia. I think this is important because there are no prospect for us there,” Kravchuk told journalists. At the same time, more and more people start to understand this, he said. Read also Deputy minister on Volker-Surkov meeting: I believe decision on Donbas has been taken He also wished that Ukrainians appreciate the holiday of national independence, which will be celebrated on August 24. “Because this is the very first, the biggest national holiday in Ukraine… There are problems, a lot of them — life, corruption, national problems, poverty – we all see this… But if we look closely, beyond these layers, then we can see how we are changing,” Kravchuk said.

One Ukrainian soldier killed, another injured in Donbas –

The main tension remains in the Donetsk area. Militants shelled Ukraine Army’s positions 30 times in Donbas over the past 24 hours. Due to the attcks, one Ukrainian soldier was killed, and another one was injured. This was reported by the press service of the Ukraine’s Army HQ in Facebook. “Past day ended with a certain escalation of the situation in the occupied territories of Donbas. After 18:00 Russian occupation groups intensified shelling of our positions, using mainly mortars and grenade launchers,” the message says. The main tension remained in Donetsk area. In Avdiivka industrial zone, the illegal armed forces shelled Ukrainian positions in different areas from mortars, grenade launchers, antiaircraft system and small arms till midnight. In Luhansk area, the militants used 120-mm mortars in Krymske and Novotoshkivske. Also Stanytsa Luhanska and Novooleksandrivka were shelled from large-caliber machine guns. In Mariupol area, the enemy attacked twice from 82-mm mortars near Vodyane and once at the approaches to Shyrokyne.

Militants launched 30 attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas in last day – 22.08.2017 09:30 — Ukrinform News

Militants launched 30 attacks on positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in ATO area in Donbas over the past day. One Ukrainian soldier was killed and one soldier was wounded.

Militants destroy infrastructure, crops near Mariupol – ATO HQ

Russian-backed mercenaries resort to the&nbsp;scorched earth&nbsp;tactics, setting fire to infrastructure and crops, polluting and poisoning drinking water sources in the Ukrainian-controlled settlements near the strategic port city of Mariupol, according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 22 August from UNIAN.

Donbas militants actively shell Avdiyivka industrial zone, 1 KIA, 1 WIA in last day

Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 30 times in the past 24 hours, with one Ukrainian soldier reported as killed in action (KIA) and one&nbsp;as&nbsp;wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 22 August from UNIAN.

OSCE: “DPR” militants trying to shoot down SMM’s UAV in Donbas

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine says Russian-backed militants of the called &quot;DPR&quot; (self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic) were trying to shoot down an SMM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), according to the OSCE SMM report based on information received as of 19:30, 20 August 2017. News 21 August from UNIAN.

Almost 4 mln residents of eastern Ukraine in need of health care – WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) says almost 4 million people in the eastern Ukraine are in need of&nbsp;health care&nbsp;and humanitarian assistance, as health-care resources in conflict-affected areas of Ukraine are severely stretched and humanitarian funding is plummeting. News 21 August from UNIAN.

Poroshenko opens strategic bridge in Kharkiv region – 22.08.2017 14:44 — Ukrinform News

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has opened a repaired strategic bridge across the Siversky Donets River in Izium, Kharkiv region, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

UAWire – Ukrainian military command: Ukrainian Armed Forces do not capture territories specified in the Minsk Agreements

Information about the alleged advancement of the units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbas is false, according to the statement of …

Kyiv Armored Plant upgrades T-72A tank for Ukrainian army

Ukraine has completed the modernization of its T-72A tanks and is planning to buy Oplot fighting vehicles before the end of 2017, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said.

First batch of U.S. coal on its way to Ukraine | UNIAN

The first shipment of anthracite coal from the United States, supplied by XCoal Energy and Resources, totaling 85,000 tonnes should arrive in Ukraine in early September, the embassy of Ukraine in the United States wrote on Facebook. News 22 August from UNIAN.

Trump officials celebrate first coal shipment to Ukraine

 Vitaly Portnikov | Why Europe should support a “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine -Euromaidan Press |

By helping Ukraine Europe will be helping itself as well. Why should Europeans allocate money for the renovation of Ukraine’s infrastructure? The proposal by the Seimas (Parliament) of the Republic of Lithuania for a “new European plan” for Ukraine based on the “Marshall Plan” may seem too ambitious and even useless for the European Union. But, in reality, Europe should help Ukraine not only for the benefit of Ukrainians. It should help Ukraine primarily for itself The “Marshall Plan” provided enormous sums for the restoration of the European continent destroyed by war. But it was not charity. It was, in fact, genuine selfishness. The United States had been drawn into two world wars in the 20th century. It was in its interest to prevent the repetition of the past and to help transform Europe into a continent of well-being and mutual support. The results have exceeded all expectations. Today Germany and France — the main adversaries in two world wars — are the locomotives of the European Union and supporters of European unity. It is the countries that were not included in the “Marshall Plan” because of the Soviet occupation, whose citizens have spent decades in poverty and who still cannot reach the living standards of “old Europe,” that are increasingly returning to the past. So was American money spent in vain? European aid for Ukraine should be linked to the success of reforms in this second largest former Soviet republic after Russia. The experience of Georgia or Moldova does not need to be taken into account. They are small agrarian patriarchal countries whose successes and failures do not offer serious lessons. But Ukraine’s experience would serve as an example for the entire post-Soviet space, including Russia. Ukraine’s failure would demonstrate that this region cannot be reformed, and Ukraine’s success would show that even Russia can be reformed. And doesn’t the West want this? However, the one thing that the experience of Georgia or Moldova has shown is that without a noticeable improvement in the standard of living reforms decline rapidly and openly populist or pro-Russian forces become popular. Even if the Ukrainian government adopts all the necessary laws, changes the rules of the game, and creates opportunities for the free development of private initiative, Ukraine with its current economy will remain a poor country for several more decades. And in such a country citizens invariably vote for populists and demagogues. Only if Ukrainians see real changes for the better will they be capable of voting for reformers. And if they vote for reformers, this means that reforms will continue in the country. And if the reforms continue and succeed, Ukraine will provide a lesson for the entire post-Soviet space and advance its transformation. And this means that the border for Western values, democracy, and the free market will move steadily eastward. Don’t the sensible people in the West want this? And is this not reason enough to help Ukraine ?

Ukrainian Citizen Kidnapped and Tortured in Russian Jail – YouTube

In early August 2016, Russia’s Security Services detained and tortured Yevhen Panov, a Ukrainian citizen, who had allegedly crossed into occupied Crimea. The…

Ukraine mulling cooperation with Israel in creating online education platform | KyivPost

Ukraine considers the possibility of cooperation with Israel in the formation of the National Online Education Platform, Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Lilia Hrynevych said during a meeting with Minister for Environmental Protection and for Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage of Israel Zeev Elkin. “Ukraine considers the possibility of cooperation with Israel in creating a national education online platform, which will store educational materials for schoolchildren, teachers and parents,” the press service of the Education Ministry said on August 21. According to Hrynevych, the electronic platform is required to fully support the education reform in order to provide teachers with online interactive materials that will help to use efficient teaching methods.

Klimkin, Pasternak agree to prepare official visit of Romanian president to Ukraine | KyivPost

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and Romanian minister in charge of Romanians living abroad Andrea Pasternak have discussed a number of issues related to ensuring the rights of the Romanian national minority in Ukraine and the Ukrainian national minority in Romania. The two came to a common opinion that both communities should remain a key element of cooperation between the countries, the press service of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry reported. Pasternak said Romania is interested in preserving the identity of ethnic Romanians living in Ukraine. “At the same time, we urge them to be loyal citizens of their state and believe all citizens of Ukraine should speak Ukrainian,” the minister said.

Carpenter: West must get tougher on Russia – and on Ukraine’s corruption | KyivPost

Michael Carpenter, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense and a key adviser to ex-U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, hopes that Secretary of Defense James Mattis in Kyiv this week will be in a position to correct some of the Obama administration’s mistakes on Ukraine. One of the key mistakes, in Carpenter’s opinion, was the refusal of U.S. President Barack Obama to supply Ukraine with modern defensive weapons to help it prevail against the war that Russia launched in 2014 with the takeover of Crimea and invasion of the eastern Donbas. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t provide weapons to Ukraine,” Carpenter told the Kyiv Post in an interview ahead of Mattis’ visit to Ukraine. “In effect, it places a de facto arms embargo against Ukraine, just as (the U.S. refusal) after Russia’s war against Georgia in 2008. It sends the wrong message that if you are the victim of Russian aggression, NATO countries will be reluctant to provide you with weapons to defend yourself.”

Nadiya Savchenko: I Dream of a Great Ukraine –

Joe Biden, former US vice-president, said of you that “your strength sets the example for Ukrainians and for the world”. After you had been set free and come back to the country, you were honoured with the Order of the Gold Star as a Hero of Ukraine. How has all of what you endured – imprisonment, threatening, isolation – changed you? Do you still have aversion or suspicions towards others? Imprisonment and war make people more brutal, and tougher. But the most important thing is to remain human and not become an animal. Yes, I still feel some discomfort and what I have experienced is still in me. But when I am with other people, I try not to show anger. Quite the contrary – I want to show good feelings. I go to people with an optimistic attitude. I have something that is of the utmost importance in my heart: love for Ukraine and a dream that it remains great and wonderful.

Meanwhile in Statue Removal: Ukraine Has Removed All 1,320 Statues of Lenin – Christine Rousselle

Goodbye. .08/22/2017 11:03:45AM EST.

Mattis Will Back Ukraine on Crimea

Tensions with Russia will get ratcheted up this week when Secretary of Defense will travel to Ukraine to deliver a message on behalf of President Donald Trump: the U.S. still backs Ukraine’s claim to Crimea.

Vladimir Putin’s Trip to Crimea Jazz Festival Angers Ukraine

Putin welcomed the audience to the 15th annual jazz festival in Crimea—an event that his annexation drove out of the region.

Crimeans must go to Kyiv to apply for American visa, – US Embassy in Russia

22.08.17 14:25 – Crimeans must go to Kyiv to apply for American visa, – US Embassy in Russia Crimea falls within the consular district of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. View news.

Ukrainian broadcasting in Crimea: do Crimeans need it and how Russia will respond

I think that the local residents will gradually begin to return to watching Ukrainian TV. That’s because the Ukrainian media are seeing a gradual decrease in the level of ideological fascination with Russia. We also struggle to get tiny bits of information from Crimea, obviously because the peninsula has been occupied by Russia. But even the amount of information that we are able to obtain shows one simple thing: after it became clear that Russia only needed Crimea to transform it into a military base, and nobody in Moscow cares about the actual interests of Crimeans, there has been some sobering up among the locals. Ukrainian TV channels traditionally offer a much better-built content than that produced by the Russians. So part of Crimeans, including Crimean Tatars, will watch Ukrainian TV channels just to get a breath of freedom. And those who are indifferent to Ukraine, who don’t care whose flag to fly just to avoid hostilities, those who called for Putin to come and now feel that everything is not quite as they expected, will simply be watching Ukrainian shows out of curiosity. It remains unclear how exactly Russia will respond to the start of Ukrainian broadcasting in Crimea. Russia has always made great bets on information wars. In this case, as a countermeasure, it is highly probable that Moscow will start jamming the signal. But we should not forget that jamming is a rather costly endeavor, even more expensive than the broadcast itself. In addition, jamming is a practice of the Soviet era, when “enemy voices” were silenced. Today, Russia’s return to an actual jamming of the signal, in my opinion, would be too much of self-humiliation and too much of a spit in the West’s face. So I don’t believe they will act this way. At the same time, I don’t rule out Russia acting on the principle of an unplanned signal. That is, they may launch broadcast of minor local channels and stations at the same frequencies with Ukrainian media, without even counting on whether anyone will watch or listen to them. This would be much cheaper, because this is not a total jamming. Taras Chornovil is a Ukraine-based political analyst

Crimean Tatars ready to escape Russia’s draft in favor of Ukraine’s army, – Dzhemilev

22.08.17 11:15 – Crimean Tatars ready to escape Russia’s draft in favor of Ukraine’s army, – Dzhemilev The Crimean Tatars living in the occupied peninsula are ready to cross the administrative border with the mainland Kherson region to join the Ukrainian military. View news.

Closure of Kerch Strait Is Russia’s Latest Attack on Ukrainian Sovereignty

Russia is building a bridge across the strait to tighten its grip on the Crimean Peninsula.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

North Korea shipments to Syria chemical arms agency intercepted: U.N. report

Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country’s chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations.

Iran: How We Can Keep It From Becoming the Next North Korea |

Donald Trump has threatened to rip up the Iran nuclear deal. Doing so risks a North Korea-type crisis and possibly war.

Russia Claims Progress In Ousting IS From Syrian Strongholds

A top Russian commander has said that Moscow and Syrian government forces have made swift progress in the last month driving Islamic State (IS) militants from central Syria and a last major stronghol…

Russia Boosts Air Campaign to Help Recapture Key Syrian City | World News | US News

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has boosted its air campaign in Syria to help President Bashar Assad’s forces drive Islamic State militants from Deir el-Zour, the largest city in which they still have a major presence.

President Trump’s Speech on Afghanistan – Full – YouTube

President Trump gives a speech on the new strategy in Afghanistan, which includes a troop increase and calls on Pakistan and India to do more to end the prob…

President Trump Begins Familiar Strategic Process – Pakistan Assigned Ownership of Afghanistan Extremism… | The Last Refuge

A very familiar pattern is emerging as President Trump turns his attention toward solving the ongoing issues within Afghanistan. A very uniquely Trumpian geopolitical strategy based on assigned ownership, economics and self-interest. Last night as President Trump addressed the nation to discuss the ongoing conflict within Afghanistan he took the first step: Trump assigned strategic…

How New is the New Afghanistan Strategy? – Modern War Institute

President Donald Trump just finished outlining his new Afghanistan strategy to the American public in a nationally televised speech. The long-awaited result of a review the president ordered shortly after taking office is being billed by the administration as something fundamentally different from the strategies that have guided US involvement in the nearly sixteen-year-long war to date. Specifically, the president highlighted four ways in which the new strategy differs from past American efforts in Afghanistan:

What Does America Consider Success in Afghanistan? | The National Interest

America must start measuring success in Afghanistan by achievements on the ground and not by unrealistic expectations.

Trump’s Strategy May Help in Afghanistan, but Few Expect ‘Outright Victory’ – The New York Times

Additional troops are likely to help on the battlefield, but other parts of the president’s strategy, including putting pressure on Pakistan, are unproven.

The Latest: Pence says Trump favors ‘resolve and commitment’ – The Washington Post

The Latest on President Donald Trump and US policy in Afghanistan (all times local):


Why Russia holds the key to resolving the North Korea crisis

China is propping up North Korea’s economy, but it seems to get little influence in return.

Putin’s ‘Dangerous’ Game With North Korea

While the world wonders who supplies North Korea’s massive intercontinental ballistic missile engines, Putin sees an opportunity to ‘mediate.’

North Korea criticizes joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises.

A 10-day annual military exercise with the United States and South Korea that starts Monday will involve 17,500 U.S. troops.

Countering North Korean threat is Trump’s ‘top priority’, envoy says

President Donald Trump’s top priority is to protect the United States and its allies against the “growing threat” from North Korea, and America is ready to use “the full range of capabilities at our disposal,” a U.S. envoy said on Tuesday.

US admiral says diplomacy key to resolving North Korea crisis

The head of the U.S. military’s Pacific Command said on Tuesday it was more important to use diplomacy to counter North Korea’s missile threat.

North Korea Crisis on Hold? 5 Ways Things Could Go Wrong |

Here’s a quick look at some of the ways the current U.S.-North Korea détente can go sideways

US, South Korea war games: Here’s how North Korea might respond

America’s annual joint military exercises with South Korea begin Monday, and they may hold more potential to provoke than ever.

North Korea Releases New Video Of Simulated Missile Attack Against Guam | Gizmodo Australia

Fox News declared President Trump victorious last week, insisting that his unhinged threats against North Korea had deterred the country from planning a…

New sanctions could scare off North Korea’s previous customers

Countries who previously did business with North Korea may be less inclined to make repeat purchases amid greater pressure to comply with U.N. sanctions.

David A. Andelman | North Korea will be a nuclear power. We need to accept that now (Opinion) – CNN

Forget about putting the nuclear genie back in any bottle. North Korea will have — and will not be dissuaded from possessing — a deliverable nuclear weapon, David A. Andelman says.

For Asians Used to North Korean Threats, Guam Is Still a Getaway – The New York Times

The island’s tourist trade has remained strong, aided by visitors from places like Japan and South Korea, where the threat from North Korea is old news.

Pavlo Kilmkin | Ukraine and North Korea – The New York Times

The foreign minister of Ukraine rejects suggestions that his country supplied rocket technology to North Korea.

Ukraine could not aid N.Korea’s missile program – FM Klimkin

Ukraine could not have contributed to the development of North Korea&rsquo;s missile program, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin wrote in an op-ed published by The New York Times as a&nbsp;response to the report of August 14 alleging supplies of missile technology from Ukraine to DPRK. News 22 August from UNIAN.

Ukraine Says Its Rocket Engines Not Behind North Korea’s Missile Success

“Ukraine has never supplied rocket engines or any kind of missile technology to North Korea,” Oleksandr Turchynov says.

NK ICBM failed to re-enter atmosphere: expert

North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile appeared to be a failure, a Seoul-based missile expert claimed Thursday, suggesting that the Hwasong-14 was not equipped with a stable re-entry system that would allow it to survive the heat-intensive process of re-entering the atmosphere. Lee Sang-min, a researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said there are “three pieces of sc…

WILLIAM J. BROAD, MIKA GRÖNDAHL, JOSH KELLER, ALICIA PARLAPIANO, ANJALI SINGHVI and KAREN YOURISH | Can North Korea Actually Hit the United States With a Nuclear Weapon? – The New York Times

Six systems that North Korea needs to master to achieve a long-sought goal: being able to reliably hit the United States.

North Korea’s Hwasong-14, at a glance | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Figure 1. This graphic shows the maximum altitudes and corresponding projected ranges of the two Hwasong-14 missiles that North Korea tested in July. The highly lofted rocket trajectories achieved in the July 4 and the July 28 tests are shown on the left side of the figure. The center and right side of the figure show alternative rocket trajectories that could instead have been flown with loft angles optimized for maximum range instead of for maximum altitude.

Foreign Policy Reports

Germany’s Gabriel hits back at Erdogan with call to back Turkish democracy

Germany’s foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said Berlin and the rest of Europe should back the “democratically minded” majority of Turks who did not support President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a dramatic hardening of Germany’s position towards Ankara.

Serbia Recalls Entire Embassy Staff From Skopje, Citing ‘Offensive Intelligence Activities’

Serbia has abruptly recalled all staff from its embassy in Macedonia for consultations regarding &quot;offensive intelligence activities&quot; against Serbia, President Aleksandar Vucic has said. …

UAWire – Poland: Merkel to blame for terrorism outburst

The current European migration policy, especially pursued by Angela Merkel, plays into the hands of those who “sow death among the people”, said …

Strategy / History / Capability Publications

Elon Musk calls for ban on killer robots before ‘weapons of terror’ are unleashed – The Washington Post

Musk was joined by more than 100 other experts from dozens of nations in a letter to the United Nations.

How Buying Light Attack Fleet Would Help USAF’s Pilot Shortage | Defense content from Aviation Week

The U.S. Air Force is weighing buying a new light attack aircraft to fight terrorists, and the investment would also help retain fighter pilots who are leaving in droves.

Back to Basics: The Light Attack Experiment Begins

This month at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, an unusual event is occurring. For the first time since the end of the Vietnam era, the Air Force is c

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

My Life at a Russian Propaganda Network – POLITICO Magazine

I thought they’d let me be a real journalist at Sputnik news. I was wrong.

‘Rough Translation’: What Americans Can Learn From Fake News In Ukraine : NPR

Ukraine is where some of Russia’s fake news tactics were first developed. We go to Eastern Ukraine to find out how the information war has changed how people watch the news and talk to each other.

Invisible Artillery: Army Wants Electronic Warfare At All Levels – To Inform is to Influence

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR. on August 21, 2017 at 11:01 AM Learn more about Raytheon’s Land Warfare Overmatch Solutions Both centers are involved in the network review as well as the EW review. But “they are really separate … occurring in parallel,” said Col. Sean Keenan, the chief of staff of the Army’s cyber & electronic…

AI fighter pilot wins in combat simulation – BBC News

An artificial intelligence system developed in the US successfully intercepts two attacking fighter jets in a combat simulation.

US Domestic Policy Reports

Russia condemns US decision to restrict issuing of visas – To Inform is to Influence

Russia’s latest reaction, admonishment, is amusing.  </end editorial> By bne IntelliNews August 22, 2017 The US embassy in Russia has retaliated to the cutting of its diplomatic mission by restricting the issuance of visas to Russians, prompting a swift condemnation by the Kremlin. A US embassy statement said non-immigrant visas would no longer be issued at the three US consulates in…

U.S. Institutes Visa Restrictions At Its Missions Across Russia, Blames Kremlin Order

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow says that &quot;all nonimmigrant visa operations&quot; at U.S. missions across Russia will be suspended as of August 23 due to a Kremlin-imposed cap on staff at U.S…

USA Reviews Visas for Russian Citizens in Response to Diplomatic Expulsions – YouTube

The United States suspends issuing of non-immigrant visas to Russians. They also canceled previously scheduled interviews throughout the country. The decisio…

Putin Names EU-Sanctioned Diplomat Antonov Ambassador To U.S.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has appointed Anatoly Antonov, a veteran diplomat who is under European Union sanctions for his role in Moscow's interference in Ukraine, as ambassador to th…


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