Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Media Update – 31 August 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Some excellent commentary and analysis on Russia published today. Volker DW interview is exceptional, whether it sinks in is another matter. Merkel may be softening on Russia. Whitmore and Rogan point out the same ground truth – Russia’s agendas are mostly diametrically opposed to those of the West. Aaronovitch on beating propaganda. Excellent argument by BGen Zwack on Zapad 2017 risks, while Zapad 2017 threat naming generates blowback. Much Russian ranting about Zapad 2017. Hungarian appeasement, sanctions, Smolensk crash and Russian PMCs in the MSM.

Excellent discussion by Satter on Russia’s staged 1990s terrorism incidents, and why the West’s turning a blind eye facilitated Russia’s turn back to ossified imperialism.  Whitmore and Jensen on infighting over Putin succession. Troitsky on “Russophobia”, Goble on the Russian campaign against indigenous languages, and multiple articles on Russia’s descent into the abyss. Armata MBT production downscaled to 100 hulls.

Belarus Zapad 2017 debate, and abduction of Ukrainian teenager. Romania backs Moldovan EU accession, and treason complaint against Putinist Pres Dodon propagates in media.

SBU investigates two assassination plots against Poroshenko, no doubt funded by Russia. Former NATO SECGEN Rasmussen chastises Juncker for his foolish comments about Ukraine, i.e. feeding the Russian propaganda machine. Excellent essay on Russian propaganda and hypocrisy by Tsymbaliuk. Lethal aid debate continues. Donbass fires continue. First COCW Award today shared by former DNR official commenting on Russian betrayal, and sitting LNR official, who declares the Jehovah’s Witness church in occupied Luhansk to be “an active agent of the Security Service’s [SBU] influence in the LPR.” Russian business owners charged with sabotage after wrecking Ukrainian Aluminium plant. More disturbing reports from occupied Crimea.

Excellent observations by Amb Bolton on Iran, and Iranian opposition on nuke deal. ISIS collapse continues. More persection of Rohingya Muslims.

Russia publicly opposes more sanctions on the DPRK. DPRK nuke test preparations disputed. MDA tests SM-6 as endo-atmospheric ABM with good result. DPRK Hokkaido shot debate continues. Japan to deploy more ABMs, and signs defense cooperation agreement with UK.

Russian proxy and former SDP leader Schröder wins second COCW Award today, for the possibly most absurd comment made in European politics this year. Gabriel continues to argue for appeasement.

Propaganda case study today is Bandow’s colleague Thompson also arguing against lethal aid to Ukraine. German measure against fake news analysed. Leading pro-Brexit Twitter account may be Russian proxy – something for the Brexit camp to contemplate.

More on the “Russian Bund” youth groups in the US, and their siblings in EU nations. US domestic debate remains toxic.


Russia / Russophone Reports


Russian invasion created more nationalist, unified and pro-Western Ukraine – Volker

Russian intervention in Ukraine has led to the unification of the Ukrainian society, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker told Deutsche Welle. News 30 August from UNIAN.

Russian-speaking people in Ukraine suffer only in the occupied territories, – Volker – 112.international

U.S. special representative on Donbas noted that a fresh approach needed to resolve the situation in the East of Ukraine. United States special representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker said that Russian-speaking people in Ukraine suffer only in the territories occupied by Russia. He said this in his interview for DW. “We need a fresh approach to the issue of security. Russia has expressed concerns about the security of Russian-speaking population of the East of Ukraine, but frankly speaking, the only territory where Russian-speaking people suffer is the territory that is under control of Russian troops, so if there is another way to guarantee security people without the presence of Russian troops, it would probably be better for everyone, ” Volker said.

US Special Rep to Ukrainian negotiations Kurt Volker: ′The status quo is not good for anybody′ | Europe | DW | 29.08.2017

In a DW interview, Kurt Volker pledges that Washington will not strike a separate deal with Moscow over the heads of Europeans and Ukrainians – but says it is good that all agree the current situation must improve. You’ve recently said that the US administration is reevaluating its stance towards providing Ukraine with lethal defense weaponry. This prompted critical comments from Moscow. Have the Russians raised this issue in their private conversations with you? I’m not surprised that Russia is raising concerns about it. They had an opportunity to move into Ukraine and take territory and annex Crimea without really much opposition. So obviously they’re going to raise concerns about Ukraine being better able to defend itself. Having been invaded and part of its territory taken it’s quite reasonable for Ukrainians to want to be better able to defend themselves. I’m not surprised that Russia is raising concerns about it. I think Russia was hoping that it would be able to keep Ukraine in its orbit as part of the Russian sphere of influence, the greater Russian identity. The reality is that their invasion and occupation has created a more nationalist and a more unified and more pro-Western Ukraine. So it hasn’t really done much for Russian interests. In fact, it’s probably hurt them. And that’s the reality, that it’s likely to continue to get worse. Clearly it’s possible this could be dug in by Russia or it could become another frozen conflict. I don’t think anybody wants that. I think we should be working to come up with a way to actually resolve it, to see Ukraine get its territory back and to see that the safety and security of all Ukrainian citizens is preserved. Speaking about getting the territories back: there are suggestions, like the one coming from head of the German FDP Christian Lindner, to “freeze” the Crimean problem until the right momentum arrives. Do you agree? I would not agree with that. The way I see it is that there is no distinction between Russia’s invasion, occupation of either Crimea or the Donbass. In the case of Crimea, however, they have also claimed to annex the territories – not only occupying it, but taking it for themselves. I don’t think we should be accepting or legitimizing any of that. That being said, the Minsk agreements are only about eastern Ukraine. And if we can make progress there, we should try to make progress everywhere, but I don’t think progress in one place should be hostage to progress in another. In one of your recent interviews you called the suggestion that Ukraine might re-establish its nuclear program “a bad idea.” It’s clearly a bad idea. Having nuclear weapons is simply not a realistic option for Ukraine and it would do nothing to enhance Ukraine’s security. Probably just the opposite. I think it’s a failure of the international community and first on the part of Russia to invade and take a part of Ukraine territory in violation of the Budapest memorandum, but also for the United States, UK, France and the broader international community to have given a security guarantee like that and then not have stood by it. And so it is important that we don’t give up on that and try to actually restore Ukraine’s integrity and to ensure the safety and security of its citizens.

Angela Merkel: Russia sanctions to be lifted once Ukraine ceasefire is agreed

Sanctions on Russia will be lifted once Moscow agrees to bring an end to the conflict in Ukraine and no sooner, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday.

Remember Those Funny European Sanctions Against Russia?

Russia’s proposed anti-Ukraine pipeline receives hundreds of millions of dollars from European energy companies.

The Daily Vertical: The West’s Values And Moscow’s Ambitions (Transcript)

Sometimes, one simple statement can encapsulate the dilemma of an era. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s remarks this week that Brussels should seek better relations with Russia “without renouncing our values and principles” is a perfect illustration of the paradox the West faces with Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. Because, while it may be possible to achieve cooperative relations with some future Russia without sacrificing Western values and principles, it appears all but impossible with this Russia; it appears all but undoable with Putin’s Russia. Because, as a price for more cooperative relations, Putin wants things the West cannot give him. He wants a free hand in the former Soviet space. He wants Western recognition that Ukraine’s sovereignty, Georgia’s sovereignty, and Moldova’s sovereignty are limited and conditional; He wants implicit Western endorsement of a revived Russian empire. WATCH Today’s Daily Vertical All of these things are inconsistent with Western values and giving them to Putin — either explicitly or implicitly — would be a renunciation and violation of Western values. There just isn’t much wiggle room here. The price of cooperative relations with Russia is selling out the aspirations and the independence of Russia’s neighbors. So the West can either have better relations with Putin’s Russia or it can stick to its values. It can’t have both — at least not at this time. It really is that simple.

Tom Rogan | America can’t work with Russia

As I say, on paper, Russia and the U.S. have shared interests in working together. The problem is that when we see what actually happens around the world, it becomes clear that Russia has very few interests that align with ours.

David Aaronovitch | How the West can defeat the Kremlin’s lies | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

For all the propaganda thrown at us on TV and social media, we can be confident of winning the battle of ideas. We could and should be less dumb and more discriminating. Schools and parents have their work cut out teaching the young the difference between information and dezinformatsiya. It’s the equivalent of knowing which adults to trust and which to avoid at all costs. Yet we have one big thing going for us. A while ago I interviewed a woman who had been in China during the Cultural Revolution and had waved the Little Red Book with the other Maoist militants. But something happened when she saw Chinese propaganda newsreels of westerners doing the same thing. What a society, she thought, that permitted those who opposed the government to speak out! She became a dissident. Marx glowers in Highgate cemetery because our society could easily cope with his ideas being expressed and debated. Putin’s opponents fear for their lives because his society is too fragile and frightened for him to risk their free expression. He is far more scared of us than we need be of him. Oppose him, yes. Quake because of him? No. The second night we were in Prague all those years ago, the aged student leaders took us as a treat to a nightclub. I had never been to one before. It was Le Carré, really. There, under a silver ball, the gloomy but privileged nomenklatura of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic drank champagne and ogled young female graduates of the people’s education system. There is only so long you can keep a pretence going.

BGen (Rtd) Peter Zwack | Zapad 2017: Should We Fear Russia’s Latest Military Dress Rehearsal? | The National Interest

The Russian military is now a sharpened policy tool of choice for an emboldened but strategically defensive regime that relies on preemption.

Russia and Belarus War Games Place Enemy in Poland and Baltics

Russia has said its new military drill is not aimed at any particular state, but the planned map shows the hypothetical enemy is in Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Belarus at ‘war’ with imaginary country of Veyshnoria – BBC News

Nation of Veyshnoria invented for military drills catches the imagination of locals.

TASS: Military & Defense – Envoy cautions Latvia against any hysterics over upcoming West-2017 drills

Moscow has stressed that the drills are purely defensive in nature

Russia Says War Games Don’t Threaten Poland, Other Neighbors – Bloomberg

Russia said major war games planned next month with Belarus, on NATO’s eastern flank, don’t threaten other countries and aren’t a cover for invading neighboring states.

OSCE Calls On Estonia To Reconsider Ban On Three Russian Reporters

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on August 30 called on Estonia to reverse its decision to bar three Russian journalists from covering an EU meeting in Tallinn next month. …

Estonia defends Russian media ban at EU event

Estonia’s EU presidency has reserved the right to ban Russian reporters from its events if it deemed them guilty of “subversive activities”.

Putin in Hungary: Strategic negotiations dressed up as sports diplomacy

Flash Report on Putin’s visit. Background Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Hungary for the second time this year and held a meeting with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the venue of the Judo World Championship. Since 2010 this was the seventh bilateral meeting between the two politicians and the fourth since the annexation of Crimea, which is unparalleled among European leaders. While the Hungarian government justifies the unusually intensive bilateral relations by referring to pragmatism necessitated by the country’s energy dependence, the deepening ties aggravates Hungary’s vulnerability to Russian influence. Hungary has become a permanent point of entry to the European Union for Putin, allowing him to rid himself of the appearance of international isolation. Meanwhile, Viktor Orbán wants to win the general election in 2018, and the utility cost cuts made possible by low energy prices has helped him to victory once already.

UAWire – Poland demands access to site of Smolensk air crash from Russia

Polish Undersecretary of State Bartosz Cichocki handed a note of protest to the Russian Ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreev, over impediments …

Private Military Companies in Russia: Carrying Out Criminal Orders of the Kremlin

Private military companies (PMCs) are not something new in the modern world full of local conflicts and unstable regions.

‘People think it doesn’t affect them. But it affects everyone.’: Meduza interviews the reporter who blew the lid on Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria — Meduza

On August 24, the St. Petersburg publication Fontanka announced that threats have been made against its reporter, former police officer Denis Korotkov. The messages have appeared in comments on numerous blog posts calling Korotkov a “traitor,” among other things. Internet users have promised promised to “knock some sense” into him and “get him by the balls,” sharing a home address that Fontanka confirms “is linked” to Korotkov. The publication suspects the threats are a response to Korotkov’s reporting on operations in Syria by the “Wagner group,” a private military contractor staffed by mercenaries from Russia and Ukraine. The organization has possible financial ties to the Kremlin-connected entrepreneur Evgeny Prigozhin, and its commanders have received awards from the Russian government. Fontanka has been reporting on “Wagner” since 2013, and in August 2017 it published photographs from the company’s “recruiting center,” along with the personnel records of several dozen mercenaries filed during hiring procedures. To learn more about this story, Meduza’s Evgeny Berg spoke to Denis Korotkov.

David Satter | How America Helped Make Vladimir Putin Dictator for Life – Tablet Magazine

Did the U.S. choose to ignore the source of 1999 bombings that propelled the security-agency bureaucrat to the top post he has never relinquished? It is impossible to evaluate events in Russia today without understanding the mysterious series of bombings in 1999 that killed 300 civilians and created the conditions for Vladimir Putin to become Russia’s dictator for life. The bombings changed the course of Russia’s post-Soviet history. They were blamed on the Chechens, who denied involvement. In the wake of initial success, Russia launched a new invasion of Chechnya. Putin, who had just been appointed prime minister, was put in charge of the invasion and his popularity soared. Six months later, he was elected president. On July 14, 2016, I filed a request for documents on the bombings from the State Department, the CIA and the FBI under the Freedom of Information Act. I wanted to know whether the U.S. had information to support the view—which is widespread in Russia—that the Russian authorities themselves blew up the bombings in order to bring Putin to power. The responses I received showed that the United States had considerable evidence that the Russian authorities were responsible for the bombings, but chose to ignore it. The bombings have influenced U.S.-Russian relations to this day. The policy of self-censorship in the case of the bombings has been applied to every one of the Putin era crimes in which there was evidence that the real author was the regime. The 1999 apartment bombings were followed by the 2002 Dubrovka Theater hostage siege, the 2004 Beslan school massacre, the murder of former Federal Security Service (FSB) agent Alexander Litvinenko in London and the murders of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow. In each instance, U.S. policy was to ignore the evidence of official involvement and move on. It was this that made possible the Obama “reset” policy and helps to explain why President Donald Trump, as a candidate, questioned Putin’s responsibility for the murder of journalists and oppositionists and later, as president, justified Russian crimes with the statement, “We kill people too.” – Adapted from The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship Under Yeltsin and Putin by David Satter. Copyright © 2017 David Satter. Reprinted by permission of Yale University Press.

The Morning Vertical, August 31, 2017

ON MY MIND There is a specter haunting the Kremlin — the specter of Vladimir Putin as a lame duck. Sure Putin is all but certain to seek and win a fourth term in the Kremlin next March. But then what? The Kremlin leader, after all, will turn 65 in October. If he completes another six year term as president, he’ll be 71. Will he then change or ignore the Russian Constitution and seek a third consecutive term — a move that would effectively amount to declaring himself president for life? Will he try to repeat the so-called “castling” and anoint a placeholder president as he did with Dmitry Medvedev in 2008-12 — and triumphantly return to the Kremlin at the age of 77? Either is possible, but probably unlikely. And there appears to be a growing realization that, while Putin isn’t going anywhere right now, his next term in the Kremlin will probably be his last. And what that probably means is that — like in 1999 and in 2007-8, when the prospect of a transition loomed — we are probably in for a period of high-stakes court politics, intensified intrigue, and elite instability. In fact, as Nikolai Petrov and Donald Jensen note in separate pieces featured below (and as Yevgeny Minchenko noted in his latest Politburo 2.0 report featured in the Morning Vertical earlier this week), we are seeing evidence that this is already happening.

Donald Jensen | Kremlin leadership politics: No longer ‘bulldogs fighting under a rug?’ – CEPA STRATCOM PROGRAM.

The 2017 edition of “Politburo 2.0” the biannual overview of power in the Kremlin published by Moscow’s Minchenko Consulting Group, came out 23 August at an especially timely moment. First, with presidential elections scheduled for March 2018 and Russia’s Vladimir Putin not yet having formally declared his intention to serve another term, members of the elite are uncertain about their political prospects, which largely depend on the status quo—although there is little reason to doubt Putin will not run. Second, in the face of Russia’s economic prospects, intraleadership competition over increasingly scarce resources is intensifying. These strains are evident in the high-profile corruption case against former Economy Minister Aleksey Ulyukaev, which has thrust into the open the simmering tensions between rival Kremlin clans—a public spectacle of elite infighting rarely seen so overtly in the 17 years since Putin became president. On 16 August, Ulyukayev stated at his trial that he had been framed by Igor Sechin, a close lieutenant of Putin and head of Rosneft—Russia’s biggest oil company—into accepting an illegal payment of $2 million. Most observers had expected Ulyukaev would go to jail quietly. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev seems to be under attack again. In the cultural realm, noted stage and film director Kirill Serebrennikov has been arrested for allegedly masterminding a fraudulent scheme involving Russian government subsidies he received for a film studio between 2011 and 2014.

Sean Guillory | Arrested Development – bookforum.com / current issue

Masha Gessen offers a familiar diagnosis of her home country. The word totalitarianism has an ominous ring. At the height of the Cold War, in the 1950s and ’60s, Western social scientists began using it to describe the political structure of the USSR, as part of an ideological effort to equate the Soviet system in general, and Stalinism in particular, with Nazism. That effort was very successful. The “totalitarian model” gained such a powerful grip on people’s imaginations that when, in the ’80s, a new generation of scholars began poking holes in it, they took a pummeling, accused of being Communist sympathizers or apologists for Stalin’s crimes. As early as 1972, the great Sovietologist T. H. Rigby pointed out that totalitarianism had “acquired such conflicting and misleading connotations and become embedded in such dubious social attitudes that its use tends to obscure rather than to communicate the reality behind it.” Yet it was only when Soviet archives opened up in the ’90s that people began to abandon the model. It became clear that while the Soviet regime may have aspired to be totalitarian—to exercise complete control over a helpless population—actually existing socialism was something else entirely. The state did deploy violence in order to govern, but it did so because it was fragmented and weak, not all-powerful. And the Soviet citizens portrayed in the archival record were also very different from the numb, brainwashed, passive figures of dark totalitarian fantasies. Many managed to live active, creative, and purposeful lives, even in the shadow of large-scale state violence and coercion. Among historians today, the totalitarian model has been mostly discredited as a way to understand the Soviet experience—it has been passé for at least twenty years. So it’s rather surprising that the journalist Masha Gessen is now seeking to rehabilitate the concept and apply it to the Putin era in her new book, The Future Is History. If you have been paying any attention at all to post-Soviet Russia, you will be familiar with Gessen’s work. Best known for The Man Without a Face, her 2012 biography of Vladimir Putin, Gessen has written books on all sorts of topics, including Pussy Riot, the Tsarnaev brothers, and even the Soviet authorities’ failed attempt to create a Jewish national homeland in Siberia. A consistent critic of the Putin regime over many years, she writes frequent op-eds for the New York Times that serve as one of the main sources of Russia analysis for American readers.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin’s Efforts to Use Russophobia as the ‘Anti-Sovietism’ of Today Don’t Quite Work, Troitsky Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 31 – When the USSR existed, calling someone “anti-Soviet” was one of the most damning labels, even if some wore that as a badge of honor, Artemy Troitsky says; but now that it has ceased to exist, efforts to use “Russophobia” in the same way don’t work nearly as well. In an essay for Novaya gazeta, the music critic who has lived for many years in the West says that he well remembers the application of “anti-Soviet” to any critic of the Soviet system and thus is in a position to understand what the current regime’s use “Russophobia” is actually about (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/08/30/73642-novoe-staroe-slovo). Russophobia as a charge appeared at the end of the 1990s ostensibly to serve as a replacement for anti-Soviet, a term that ceased to exist when the Soviet system did. Such an attempt was based on the assumption that “you don’t love the Soviet Union, then you are an anti-Soviet; you don’t love Russia, then you are a Russophobe!” “What could be simpler?” But there is a problem: the first term concerns attitudes toward Soviet power, a state system, while the latter concerns supposed negative attitudes toward the Russian people, their culture and ethnicity, as such. Thus, many critics of the Russian government are denounced as haters of Russians, something they as Russians reject. Russophobes, Troitsky continues, “are a mysterious breed! I suspect that in my entire life I have not met or seen even one.” Many emigres and many in Russia “do not like the Kremlin and condemn the policies it is carrying out. But the Kremlin whatever its lackeys say is far from Russia as a whole!” One Russian punk rock group sings “I love my country but hate the government,” he says, echoing an attitude that is to be found in many countries and reflecting a distinction that must be maintained “between a country and its government” or “between religion and the church.” And there is the secret of what the current charges of Russophobia are really about: a desire by the regime and its supporters to impose on people the notion that any criticism of the government is a criticism of the nation because the two are supposedly the same – an equation that is not true and that must not be accepted as true. The charge thus doesn’t really work for “’internal consumption,’” the critic says. But it doesn’t work abroad either. The Russian government may assert that people in the West hate Russians but it is obvious to anyone who has lived there that Westerners don’t hate Russians but they do oppose Kremlin policies. The Kremlin of course would like to get everyone to forget that both to unite Russians behind itself and also to shut up any critics of the crimes of the Kremlin. That is what the powers that be want, but it is precisely why people should reject the term Russophobia just as they have dispensed with the term anti-Soviet. Even more than its predecessor, it is fundamentally false and imaginary, an effort to revive in the 21st century a term under false pretenses, “to equate the suffering Russian people and the Russian state and the great Russian language, culture and character and the crimes of Russian aggression, corruption and hypocrisy.” Indeed, Troitsky suggests, the real Russophobes are not those the Kremlin and its minions describe as such but the Kremlin and its minions themselves.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Is Putin Attacking Non-Russian Languages Because of Decline in Number of Russian Speakers in the World?

Paul Goble Staunton, August 30 – Two developments this week may be more connected than it would seem at first glance: On the one hand, Vladimir Putin has ordered prosecutors to investigate cases in which Russians have been compelled to study non-Russian languages in the country’s republics (kremlin.ru/acts/assignments/orders/55464). And on the other, statistics have been released showing that the number of Russian speakers in the world has declined by 50 million over the past 25 years, with the number of Russian speakers beyond the borders of the Russian Federation now roughly equal to those inside it. Given that the number of Russian speakers outside Russia is likely to continue to decline – or at least that the trend in that regard is much subject to what Moscow may do – it is at least plausible that Putin’s push against non-Russian languages this summer in part reflects his desire to ensure that the number of Russian speakers in the world doesn’t fall any faster than it has. That these two developments may be linked is explicitly suggested by experts Dmitry Rodionov of Svobodnaya pressa surveyed about the decline in the number of Russian speakers who collectively suggest that “Russia itself is guilty in the downfall of the Russian language” (svpressa.ru/society/article/180317/). Not only has a large part of the older generation which was compelled to learn Russian in Soviet times in the former republics and Warsaw Pact countries passed away with younger people choosing not to learn Russian but rather English and other languages, they say, but Russia no longer offers the kind of ideological attractions that caused some to learn Russian in the past. And Stanislav Byshok, an analyst with the CIS-EMO monitoring group, adds the following which may go a long way to explaining what Putin intends as far as the non-Russian languages inside the Russian Federation, a factor that “is no less important” than the falling away of people speaking Russian abroad. “The primary bearers of Russian are ethnic Russians and peoples tied to them,” the political analyst says. “Consequently, in the frameworks of Russia, the study of Russia must not be limited by anything, including the imposed need to study ‘national’ languages.” And he adds: “In Russia we are united not by a kaleidoscope of mutually unintelligible languages, dialects and archaic traditions but by the Russian language and Russian, primarily literary, culture.” Such reflections go a long way to explain the passion Putin brings to this idea and the fears many non-Russians have about how their languages will be treated now that the Kremlin leader has focused his attention on this issue.

Tatar Activists Demand Renewal Of Moscow-Kazan Power-Sharing Treaty

KAZAN — Some 15 members of the Tatar Public Center (TIU) NGO rallied in the capital of Russia’s Tatarstan region, Kazan, on August 30, demanding the renewal of the Kazan-Moscow treaty on powe…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: How Tolerant are the Russians Today?

Paul Goble Staunton, August 30 – The Moscow media this week have celebrated survey results suggesting that Russians are becoming ever more tolerant; but the findings of these polls in fact suggest that the situation is rather more complicated than that and any celebration is at a minimum premature. An article in today’s Izvestiya, for example, reports that “Russians have demonstrated religious tolerance.” One of the figures the paper offers does suggest that; but others indicate that it would be a mistake to conclude that the Russians are as tolerant as the author of that piece suggests (iz.ru/638716/mariia-nediuk/bolshinstvo-zhitelei-rossii-tolerantny-v-voprosakh-religii). Indeed, the newspaper’s journalist, Mariya Nedyuk, admits as much when she writes that “it is shown in Russia that our compatriots are tolerant toward religions but on issues of nationality and culture, the population is divided in half” between those who show tolerance and those who don’t. She notes that “only 32 percent” of Russians say they think any religion is superior to any other, implicitly suggesting that far more have a different position. She says that 48 percent do not believe in the superiority of one race over others but also that 49 percent think that some cultures, including presumably their own, are superior to others. Further, Nedyuk quotes Moscow sociologist Leokadiya Drobizheva to the effect that “only 30 percent” of Russians have a negative attitude toward non-Russians in general but that those who oppose immigration are much more numerous and that “people are much more tolerant on nationality issues in the republics than in the megalopolises.” And she cites another Moscow sociologist, Vladimir Mukomel, who says that the reduction in xenophobic attitudes among Russians found in surveys since 2013 is connected above all not so much with a change of heart as with “a falloff in the intensify of the information flow which could trigger xenophobia.” In support of that, Nedyuk concludes her article by pointing to a new finding by the Levada Center that the share of Russians who want to limit the numbers of other nationalities living in Russia has fallen to its lowest level over the last 13 years. But she acknowledges that those who want to impose such limits is still over half at 54 percent.

Navalny Punches Even Higher With New Video Alleging Secret Island Dacha Used By Putin

Aleksei Navalny, the charismatic anticorruption crusader and persistent thorn in the Kremlin&rsquo;s side, has published exposés exploring the wealth of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Defens…

Секретная дача Путина – YouTube

The secret dacha of Putin

Reports: Molotov Cocktails Thrown At Studio Of Embattled Russian Director

The studio of Russian director Aleksei Uchitel, who has been under pressure from conservative activists for his film highlighting the romantic youth of Tsar Nicholas II, has reportedly been attacked….

Moscow Court Rejects Bid To End House Arrest Of Ex-Economics Minister Ulyukayev

A Moscow court has rejected an appeal to end the house arrest of former Economic Development Minister Aleksei Ulyukayev, who is facing bribery charges. &quot;The ruling of the Zamoskvoretsky Cour…

Traitors of Ukraine from Crimea’s task force killed in Dagestan

On August 28, two members of the Russian FSB&rsquo;s special operations force were killed by local guerillas on the outskirts of Khasavyurt (Dagestan). The two operatives killed on a raid appeared to be Sevastopol-born former members of the Ukrainian SBU’s special force Alpha, who had been put on the wanted list by Ukrainian law enforcers for desertion, Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Baybutlov and Lieutenant-Colonel Denis Rakitsky, journalist Yury Butusov wrote on Facebook. “Both traitors graduated from the Sevastopol Naval Institute named after Nakhimov, and in March 2014 served in the SBU’s Center for Special Operations in Sevastopol. Rakitsky was a commander of the group and Baybutlov – a chief specialist,” Butusov reported. In March 2014, in the wake of the Russian invasion of the Crimean peninsula, Rakitsky and Baybutlov refused to comply with the orders of the higher command, and turned to the side of the enemy. In 2016, as a Russian reward for betrayal, they were awarded the Medal of the Russian Ministry of Defense “For the Return of Crimea.” Read also Moscow’s mercenaries reveal privatization of Russian geopolitics – media To verify their loyalty to the invaders, their unit, which became part of the FSB of the Russian Federation, was systematically deployed to take part in punitive operations in Chechnya and Dagestan. “Now the Crimeans, who exchanged their homeland for handouts from the enemy, became cannon fodder, while the ‘Russian world’ turned into ‘Russian death’ for these traitors,” the journalist wrote.

Russian Who Served Time For Reposting Crimea Article Leaves Russia

A Russian man who was recently released from prison after serving time for reposting an article advocating the return of Crimea to Ukraine has reportedly left Russia.

Russia bailout stokes fears of a systemic banking crisis

Russia’s central bank stepped in to launch one of the largest bank rescues in the country’s history, stoking fears of a possible systemic crisis in its banking sector.

Russia hoping to boost arms sales after Syrian usage – ABC News

Russia hoping to boost arms sales after Syrian usage

Russia’s bridge link with Crimea moves nearer to completion | World news | The Guardian

Installation of railway arch above Kerch Strait is key phase in Kremlin’s plan to integrate peninsula seized from Ukraine

Russia plans to build 100 of its next generation Armata tank | Business Insider

The Russian deputy defence minister said last…


Belarus Reports


UAWire – Belarus: hype around Zapad-2017 military exercises incomprehensible

Belarusian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Oleg Belokonev called the excitement around the Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2017 exercises, which will be held in September, incomprehensible. He assured that the Russian group participating in the exercises in the territory of the Republic of Belarus would return to Russia by September 30, BelaPAN news website reports. “The exercise will allow us in practice to improve infrastructure sharing arrangements in the interest of ensuring the military security of the Union State and creating conditions for more effective provision of the national security, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Belarus. In addition, bear in mind that at its end, by 30 September, the personnel, weapons and special equipment of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus will return to their points of permanent deployment. Those of the Russian Federation will return to their territory. I’m interested to know: what will they say next?” he said. Belokonev drew attention to the fact that similar exercises are regularly held in Russia. Groups of several thousand people from the Armed Forces of Belarus constantly participate in them. “At the same time, no one, neither in Russia, nor in other countries, is outraged and does not predict the mythical occupation of Russian regions, as is done today by individual analysts and the media in regard to the several thousands of Russian soldiers who are arriving or who arrived in Belarus to participate in last year’s announced exercise,” said the head of the Belarusian General Staff. The NSDC (National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine) secretary, Oleksandr Turchynov believes that the Zapad-2017 exercise will test Russia’s readiness for a big war with NATO countries. At the same time, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko guaranteed during his visit to Kyiv that the territory of his country would not be used to invade Ukraine.

Ynetnews Jewish Scene – Belarus court approves construction over two demolished Jewish cemet…

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Belarus confirmed Ukrainian Pavlo Hryb crossed its border

31.08.17 12:11 – Belarus confirmed Ukrainian Pavlo Hryb crossed its border The Ukrainian citizen crossed the state border of Belarus on Aug. 24. View news.


Transnistria / Moldova Reports


Iohannis: Romania will continue to support Moldova’s accession to the European Union

Iohannis: Romania will continue to support Moldova’s accession to the European Union

Moldovan Party Accuses President Of Treason, Files Lawsuit

CHISINAU — A Moldovan political party says it has filed a criminal complaint accusing President Igor Dodon of treason and of fomenting divisions in the interest of Russia. In a statement posted o…

UAWire – Moldovan opposition accuses Dodon of treason and promoting interests of Russia

The Moldovan opposition party, the Action and Solidarity Party, appealed to the Prosecutor General’s Office to prosecute the country’s President …


Ukraine Reports


Security service investigates two assassination attempts on president – LB.ua news portal

The Security Service of Ukraine is investigating two criminal cases in connection with the attempted assassination of President Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian News agency learned. The SBU told the agency on its request that as of 29 August, the special service was investigating two cases initiated under Article 112 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine regarding possible encroachment on the life of the head of state. The circumstances of the cases are not disclosed. On 22 August, during a working visit of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to Kharkiv Region, the SBU received a phone call about alleged preparations of an attempt on the president, the government agency Ukrinform reported with reference to a source in the SBU office in Kharkiv. The identity of the called could not be identified. The data about the incident was included in the Single Register of Pre-trial Investigations under as an attempt on the life of a statesman.

Ex-NATO General Secretary criticizes Juncker’s statement on EU-Ukraine – Ex-NATO General Secretary criticizes Juncker’s statement on EU-Ukraine – 112.international

Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes that President of the European Commission pushes away those seeking a European future. Ex-NATO General Secretary Anders Fogh Rasmussen criticized the statement by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on his Twitter page. “Worrying Ukraine comments by Juncker. Pushing away those seeking a European future undermines EU power to transform neighbourhood,” Rasmussen wrote. As it was reported earlier in his speech at the EU Ambassadors conference Juncker said: “I have seen that my friend Poroshenko said a few days ago: Ukraine is a member of the EU and NATO. At the moment it’s neither. Everyone should take that into account”.

Ukraine asks for EC clarification of Juncker’s words on Ukraine being EU, NATO member – Ukraine asks for EC clarification of Juncker’s words on Ukraine being EU, NATO member – 112.international

Representative of Ukraine to the EU Mykola Tochytskyi phrased his concern over the words of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker about Ukraine, which don’t correspond to reality, as UNIAN reports. President of the European Commission, in his speech at the EU Ambassadors conference, said: “I have seen that my friend Poroshenko said a few days ago: Ukraine is a member of the EU and NATO. At the moment it’s neither. Everyone should take that into account”. Tochytskyi addressed the European Commission for clarification of these words, drawing attention to the actual words of Ukraine’s president. During his speech at the celebration of the 26th Independence of Ukraine, Poroshenko noted the consistency of Ukraine’s strategic direction towards the EU and NATO. The allegation that the president said Ukraine is the EU and NATO member doesn’t correspond to reality.

British Armed Forces Minister arrives in Ukraine – British Armed Forces Minister arrives in Ukraine – 112.international

British Armed Forces Minister arrives in Ukraine

UK armed forces minister arrives in Ukraine – 31.08.2017 15:15 — Ukrinform News

British Minister of State for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster begins his visit to Ukraine on Thursday, August 31, the British Embassy in Ukraine has reported on Twitter.&nbsp;

Roman Tsymbaliuk | Concentration camp for Russian consciousness – News about politics | UNIAN

Russia has long ceased to conceal the fact of aggression against Ukraine. That is, the Kremlin’s official policy has not changed from the “we are not there” and “where is your proof” mantra but there have been much more public discussions on the topic. It’s personally President Putin who is setting the tone, naturally. In 2014, having occupied Crimea, he called his army “people’s self-defense,” but a few months later a new narrative was chosen: “we have never concealed” that it was the Russian military who occupied the peninsula. A little later, Putin contemplated deploying Russians “to solve military issues in Donbas.” And more recently, in response to the question on when he “will seize Donbas,” he said that he was analyzing the situation in order to “make a timely decision.” And now the dam has finally broken. Foreign Minister Lavrov said that the situation in Donbas cannot be changed with new shellings, while major Russian state television broadcasters regret in their broadcasts that Russia did not seize Mariupol as early as 2014, and now they just don’t want it. But as soon as Russia is about to be called an aggressor state and occupier in Ukrainian legislation, the entire propaganda machine starts dodging, fidgeting, and yelling from TV screens: “It’s not us!” This time, the reason was the announcement by the president’s representative in the Verkhovna Rada, Iryna Lutsenko, about the completion of the bill on Donbas reintegration, where Russia for the first time is legislatively branded an aggressor state. Moscow’s first and main reaction is a show-off surprise and curses toward Ukraine and its “masters” either across the ocean or in Europe. The Russians have used every argument to prove, first of all to themselves, that they are no invaders but a great peacemaking nation and an intermediary in settling territorial disputes. However, none of the frozen conflicts in the post-Soviet space has been resolved and they won’t be, since it’s not for this reason that they are being incited by the Kremlin. The Federation Council believes that with the new law calling Russia an aggressor state the Kyiv government wants to distract Ukrainians from domestic problems. The State Duma believes that these initiatives are “inhuman” and they are for “internal use,” while their goal is to break the last remaining ties between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. Russian deputies speak so much on the subject that they sometimes get overwhelmed and contradict Putin’s mantra about “one people.” And here is where the Russian propaganda media kick in, as usual. Russia-24 invented a new meme, similar to “crucified Slavic boy” and “repression against bullfinches.” In their version, there is no Russian aggression because in Ukraine everyone wants early elections, while the president of Ukraine needs to introduce martial law in order to arrest opposition leaders and put them in concentration camps (!!!). Naturally, first of all, Russian speakers… It’s been three years already that the “junta” is in power, while they have not yet set up concentration camps. Some poor quality fascism it is, isn’t it? But if you drop the Russian propaganda peel, it’s all quite different in practice. Indeed, the law on reintegration, or rather on the occupied territories, has long been overdue. For the Kremlin, the ability to continue torturing citizens of Ukraine in the occupied Donbas is a kind of self-assertion in their own eyes and an opportunity to harass the West. Moscow is not going to withdraw from the seized parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, while Minsk-2 will be used to impose endless and fruitless negotiations. When all sensible parties try to avoid a big war, it remains to call things what they are. Not so long ago, it was done in the U.S. and France. It’s time for Ukraine to fix this legislatively. Roman Tsymbaliuk, Moscow

Poroshenko urges US to increase aid to Ukraine – LB.ua news portal

Poroshenko urges US to increase aid to Ukraine. Members of the US Congress pledged continue further support political and financial support to Ukraine. Main – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Poroshenko calls on U.S. Congress to facilitate lethal aid to Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during his Wednesday meeting with the U.S. Congress&nbsp;delegation in Kyiv urged the legislators to consider an opportunity of increasing allocations for the program of security assistance to the Ukrainian state, including the provision of defensive armaments, as well as treatment and rehabilitation of the Ukrainian servicemen, Poroshenko&rsquo;s press service reports. Addressing the delegation headed by chairman of the subcommittee on foreign affairs, foreign operations and related programs of the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives of the Congress Harold Rogers, Petro Poroshenko expressed gratitude to the U.S. Congress for the leading role in the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Particularly, he noted a favorable position of the representatives of the Committee on allocations in the issue of the allocation of funds for the programs of support of Ukraine in the draft budget of the United States for 2018.

Parubiy hopes for positive decision on arms supplies to Ukraine – 31.08.2017 09:32 — Ukrinform News

Verkhovna Rada Chairman Andriy Parubiy has said he hopes that the Ukrainian diaspora will lobby the issue of providing Ukraine with weapons.

Ukraine reports 19 instances of Donbas ceasefire violation in last day

Russia’s hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 19 times in the past 24 hours, according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 31 August from UNIAN.

No casualties in Ukrainian army yesterday, 19 provocative attacks by terrorists recorded, – HQ

31.08.17 12:44 – No casualties in Ukrainian army yesterday, 19 provocative attacks by terrorists recorded, – HQ The situation in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) area in the Donbas remains controlled by the Ukrainian army. View news.

Militants shell Avdiivka industrial zone from grenade launchers in Donbas – Militants shell Avdiivka industrial zone from grenade launchers in Donbas – 112.international

The enemy attacked Ukrainian positions 19 times during the past 24 hours

OSCE spots buses with children from occupied Donbas on Russia-Ukraine border

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, which is based at the Russian Gukovo and Donetsk Border Crossing Points (BCPs), has recorded buses with children from the occupied territories of Donbas, which crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border. News 30 August from UNIAN.

Over 400 people are listed missing in combat zone of Donbas – Over 400 people are listed missing in combat zone of Donbas – 112.international

Search and investigation operations are impossible due to the obstacles created by the militants, – Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry

Former head of “DPR” “central election committee”: Russia abandoned us, return to Ukraine inevitable

31.08.17 14:08 – Former head of DPR central election committee: Russia abandoned us, return to Ukraine inevitable Former head of self-styled central election committee of unrecognized Donetsk people’s republic Roman Lyagin has acknowledged that Donbas residents were fooled back in 2014. View news.

UAWire – Authorities of separatist LPR called Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘Ukrainian agents’

Alexander Basov, the so-called Minister of State Security of the Luhansk People’s Republic stated that members of the religious organization Jehovah’s Witnesses who are in the uncontrolled areas of Luhansk region are really agents of the Security Service of Ukraine. The LPR officials claim that the religious organization was “an active agent of the Security Service’s influence in the LPR.” According to separatist authorities, searches conducted on the premises belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization in Luhansk and Alchevsk and revealed pro-Ukrainian propaganda materials. In addition, the separatists reported that the organization transferred ownership of one of its offices to the Ukrainian Pravy (Right) Sector free of charge. Earlier, Russia added Jehovah’s Witnesses to the list of banned organizations.

Ukrainian Army in Top 30 of world’s best armies – Defense Ministry – 31.08.2017 09:40 — Ukrinform News

The Armed Forces of Ukraine have entered the list of world&rsquo;s 30 best armies, the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry reports.&nbsp;

UAWire – Ukraine ready to deliver new shipment of rocket engines to its European partners

The State-owned enterprise, Makarov Pivdenny Machine Building Plant, is preparing to send the next batch of rocket engines to European partners …

Russian oligarch suspected of destroying Ukrainian aluminum producer – Russian oligarch suspected of destroying Ukrainian aluminum producer – 112.international

Oleg Deripaska is accused of causing damage of over 40 million dollars to Ukraine. Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) press charges against Russian oligarch and co-owner of Rusal company Oleg Deripaska. He is accused of destroying the only manufacturer of primary aluminum in Ukraine PAO ZAlK in the interests of competitors from Russia. This was reported by the Ukrainian News agency. “Security Service investigators issued notes of suspect to the members of international criminal group who are accused of intentional damaging the integral production complex of Zaporizhia aluminum plant in the interests of Russian competitors,” the message says. According to experts, as a result of the criminal activities, Ukraine lost over 40 million dollars. SBU investigators reported suspicion to 9 members of an organized group in committing crimes under articles 113 (sabotage), 191 (misappropriation, embezzlement or possession of property by abuse of official position), 255 (creation of a criminal organization) and 364 (abuse of power or official position) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Ukraine: The Enemy From Within

BY WES MARTIN — Until the government of Ukraine successfully takes aggressive action to fix itself, it is guaranteed to retain its designation of one the world’s most corrupt governments.

Ukraine left joint enterprise with Russia and Kazakhstan of nuclear fuel production – Ukraine left joint enterprise with Russia and Kazakhstan of nuclear fuel production – 112.international

Ukraine left joint enterprise with Russia and Kazakhstan of nuclear fuel production

UAWire – Security Service of Ukraine: Zaporizhya Aluminium Plant deliberately destroyed to serve Russian interests

Investors deliberately destroyed the Zaporizhya Aluminum Plant (ZALK) in the interests of Russian metal producers, the SBU (Security Service of …

Austrian Court Rejects Spanish Extradition Request For Ukrainian Tycoon Firtash

A court in Austria has rejected a Spanish extradition request for Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash. The move paves the way for the businessman to potentially face bribery charges in the Unite…

Ukrainian Politician’s Son Escapes Pretrial Detention After Injuring Pedestrian

KYIV — A Ukrainian politician’s son charged with hitting and seriously injuring a pedestrian while driving a car has avoided pretrial detention. The Shevchenko district court in Kyiv ruled o…

Memorandum with Netherlands in MH17 case to help Ukraine in suit against Russia – Memorandum with Netherlands in MH17 case to help Ukraine in suit against Russia – 112.international

The parties work on signing a memorandum on the information exchange

Russian journalist barred from Ukraine for three years – LB.ua news portal

Russian journalist barred from Ukraine for three years. Her work is considered damaging to Ukraine. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Ukraine preparing to deport Russian journalist for ‘propaganda’ – To Inform is to Influence

Of course, Russia is protesting, albeit through the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir.  Harlem Jean-Philippe Désir is a French politician who served in the government of France as Secretary of State for European Affairs from 2014 to 2017. Previously he was First Secretary of the French Socialist Party.  TASS and Sputnik…

Russia calls Ukraine’s deportation of Russian journalist ‘deliberate provocation’

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday accused Ukraine of abducting a Russian journalist before announcing it was deporting her, calling the move a “deliberate provocation” by the Ukrainian security service and nationalist radicals.

Oscars: Ukraine Selects ‘Black Level’ for Foreign-Language Category | Hollywood Reporter

The film, a dark story of a man’s midlife crisis, won an award at the Odessa film festival in July.

Facing facts: Why the Great Famine in Ukraine still matters today

Struggle against fake information about events in Ukraine

Lithuania will never recognize Russian aggression, – Pranckietis to visit administrative border with occupied Crimea

31.08.17 13:22 – Lithuania will never recognize Russian aggression, – Pranckietis to visit administrative border with occupied Crimea Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktoras Pranckietis will visit the administrative border with the occupied Crimea on Sept. 1 to confirm the stance of the civilized world, which will never recognize the occupation of the peninsula. View news.

44 Ukrainians disappeared in Crimea since its annexation – 44 Ukrainians disappeared in Crimea since its annexation – 112.international

18 of these people are reported missing. 44 Ukrainians have disappeared in Crimea after its annexation since 2014, and the occupation authorities have been involved in the forced disappearance of 38 of them. This was stated by human rights activist and coordinator of the public organization Crimea.SOS Tamila Tasheva, reports Ukrainian News agency. According to her, 17 Ukrainian citizens were later released, two were convicted by the occupation authorities and serve sentences, and six were found dead. “In general, if we talk about the facts of forced disappearances, there are 18 people who disappeared up until now in Crimea, most of them are Crimean Tatars. Since the beginning of the occupation of Crimea, there have been 44 cases of involuntary disappearances in the territory of peninsula. In 38 cases there are facts that indicate involvement of Russian government agencies in the commission of these crimes, “she said.

Missing In Crimea

Political Activists Who Were Killed, Kidnapped, Or Went Missing In Crimea. After Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian region of Crimea in March 2014, kidnappings and suspicious disappearances have become common. The abductions of Reshat Akhmetov and Ervin Ibragimov were even recorded on video but still not fully investigated. Various human rights groups have given different numbers for Crimean residents who have gone missing or who have died in a suspicious manner. According to the CrimeaSOS website and the Crimean Human Rights Group, eight to 17 residents of Crimea disappeared over the last three years. At least six of them were later found dead. Some activists say the true number is higher. In marking the United Nations’ International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on August 30, below is a list of some of those who have gone missing in Crimea or who were found dead under unclear circumstances in the years since annexation. (Stylized images provided by Crimean Human Rights Group)

As Trial Resumes In Crimea, Semena Hopes For Acquittal

A court in Russian-occupied Crimea is to hold a new hearing on August 31 in the trial of Mykola Semena, an RFE/RL contributor who is fighting what he says is a politically motivated separatism charge…

Greek delegation to visit occupied Crimea in Sept – Ukrainian NGO

A delegation of Greek politicians will visit Russian-occupied Crimea on September 20-30, according to Information Resistance, a Ukrainian non-governmental project on information security. News 30 August from UNIAN.


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


John R. Bolton | Iran Nuclear Deal Exit Strategy — John Bolton Memo to Trump | National Review

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton prepared this memo for President Trump on how to exit the Iran deal …

The Iran nuclear deal is a ticking time bomb — this radical change will fix it

Last week, Iran’s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi warned that the Islamic Republic can ramp up its uranium enrichment level to 20 percent in a matter of days, a short step away from weapons-grade material. Many will dismiss Salehi’s comments as an attempt to up the ante a day before U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley met with International Atomic Energy Agency officials in Vienna to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. But for two distinct reasons, there’s no definitive way to make sure Salehi is bluffing: First, Iran’s history in hiding its illicit nuclear program, and second, the porous agreement that is supposed to prevent Iran from obtaining atomic weapons. In 2015, the international community missed an exceptional opportunity to solve Iran’s nuclear threat in a lasting manner. Instead, led by President Barack Obama, the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany achieved the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an accord that gave too many concessions to the Iranian regime, legitimized its uranium enrichment program, and only managed to extend its breakout time (the duration it would take for Tehran to produce a nuclear bomb) for a limited period. Obama was under no illusion about JCPOA’s effectiveness in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions or other nefarious activities, including its terrorist ventures and gross human rights violations. In an interview with NPR, he acknowledged that by the time the accord expires, Iran’s nuclear breakout time will have been significantly reduced. He also made it clear that he placed his bets on moderating Iran’s behavior before the nuclear deal runs its course.

U.S. Airstrikes Block Convoy Transferring ISIS Fighters – The New York Times

American airstrikes stranded a convoy of 670 ISIS militants in the middle of Syria, as other warplanes bombed fighters coming to their rescue.

Iraq Declares Victory Over ISIS in Tal Afar – The New York Times

The battle, which lasted just 11 days, was another sign that the militant group’s days of administering territory are rapidly coming to a close.

Pervez Musharraf: Former Pakistan leader declared fugitive in Bhutto murder case – CNN

A court in Pakistan on Thursday named Pervez Musharraf, the country’s former President and army chief, a fugitive from justice in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed while campaigning in 2007.

Myanmar violence: Bodies of 20 Rohingya Muslims pulled from river on Bangladesh border – CNN

The bodies of 20 Rohingya Muslims were pulled out of a river Thursday along the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh, across which thousands have fled this week.


DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports


Russia Opposes Hitting North Korea With More Sanctions, Military Action

Russia on August 30 urged against further sanctions or military action against North Korea even as U.S. allies called for more sanctions stiffening limits on Pyongyang’s workers in Russia an…

Russia warns US against new sanctions on North Korea – ABC News

Russia warns US against new sanctions on North Korea

US picks up another UN victory as Security Council may seek new resolution against North Korea – To Inform is to Influence

By Ben EvanskyPublished August 30, 2017 Fox News  Japan’s United Nations ambassador told reporters today that a new U.S.-backed resolution could be in the works to further isolate North Korea, following a resounding Security Council condemnation last night of North Korea’s latest missile launch over Japan. Earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley,…

North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site: New Media Reports of an Imminent Sixth Test Again Cannot be Corroborated | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu On Monday, August 28, 2017, media reports began surfacing which claimed that South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) had informed South Korean officials (in a closed-door session) that the NIS detected indications of preparations for another nuclear test at the DPRK’s Punggye-ri underground nuclear test site.[1] One report more specifically stated that another test could fall on September 9, which is both a North Korean national holiday (the Day of the Foundation of the Republic) and coincident with the date chosen by North Korea to conduct it most recent, and fifth, nuclear test last year.[2] However, commercial satellite imagery from August 27, 2017 does not provide observable corroborative evidence that the DPRK is about to conduct another underground nuclear test immediately. The situation is reminiscent of when we responded to similar reports in mid-June that a nuclear test was imminent at that time.[3] Nonetheless, we remain firm in our previous assessments that the DPRK has, since April 2017, continued to maintain the site at a high state of readiness such that it could conduct a test on short notice, whenever the political decision is made to proceed with another test or tests. It is just that we cannot report that there is any observable evidence on the most recent commercial satellite imagery to show that such a decision has already been made.

North Korea nuclear test signs detected by U.S. – Washington Times

Amid the latest North Korean missile test that overflew Japan, U.S. intelligence agencies recently detected increased activity at the North’s main underground nuclear testing facility in the northeastern part of the country that signal preparations for a sixth underground test blast.

Analysis: Pyongyang’s view of the North Korea-U.S. crisis – CBS News

Here’s how North Korea sees its storyline with the U.S. since the beginning of the Trump administration

Did North Korea’s Latest Missile Not Fly As Far As Intended? | The Diplomat

The missile that flew over Japan may not have flown to its intended impact point.

Don’t be surprised by North Korea’s missiles. They’re doing what they said they would. – The Washington Post

It’s Washington’s message that’s “incoherent,” analysts say.

North Korea launch increases focus on risky U.S. shootdown option

Moscow and Washington should re-establish direct contacts between their military and foreign policy chiefs, Russia’s new ambassador to Washington, Anatoly Antonov, said on Wednesday.

US successfully tests shooting down ballistic missile – CNNPolitics

The United States conducted a successful missile defense test that intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii early Wednesday morning, according to a statement from the US Missile Defense Agency.

U.S. Tests New SM-6 Variant Against Missile Target | AWIN_Defense content from Aviation Week

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has performed successful interceptor test against a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target in the wake of North Korea’s missile launch over …

Aegis BMD System Intercepts Target Missile – MDA News Releases

Aug. 29, 2017 The Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully conducted a complex missile defense flight test, resulting in the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target using Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) guided missiles during a test off the coast of Hawaii today. John Paul Jones detected and tracked a target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar, and onboard SM-6 missiles executed the intercept. “We are working closely with the fleet to develop this important new capability, and this was a key milestone in giving our Aegis BMD ships an enhanced capability to defeat ballistic missiles in their terminal phase,” said MDA Director Lt. Gen. Sam Greaves. “We will continue developing ballistic missile defense technologies to stay ahead of the threat as it evolves.” This test, designated Flight Test Standard Missile-27 Event 2 (FTM-27 E2), marks the second time that an SM-6 missile has successfully intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile target. Aegis BMD is the naval component of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. MDA and the U.S. Navy cooperatively manage the Aegis BMD program. Additional information about all elements of the ballistic missile defense system can be found here.

U.S., South Korean and Japanese warplanes carry out show of force against North Korea

American and South Korean aircraft practiced their attack capabilities.

US stealth fighters show of force over Korean Peninsula – CNNPolitics

Two days after North Korea flew a missile over Japan, the United States and South Korea staged their own show of force with state-of-the-art stealth fighters Thursday.

North Korea just showed the world how it could start a war | Fox News

Well, it looks as if North Korea is once again up to its usual tricks—firing missiles and scaring the world half to death.

Trump Says He Will Not Talk to North Korea. Experts Fear He Will. – The New York Times

While Mr. Trump’s threats against North Korea have been unnerving, it is the prospect of a risky dialogue that most unsettles former officials.

As U.S. ban on travel to North Korea kicks in, tourists say their farewells

French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview he had major differences with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine and “won’t let him get away with anything.”

North Korea’s First Family Grows After Kim Jong Un ‘Fathered Third Child’, South Korean Spies Say

North Korea’s ruling Kim dynasty grew in February, according to South Korean secret services. Kim Jong Un reportedly fathered a third child with his wife Ri Sol Ju in February, the South Korean National Intelligence Service claimed in a parliamentary intelligence briefing Tuesday, reported in local

Japan Defense Ministry seeks missile interceptors in budget – The Washington Post

Japan’s Defense Ministry is seeking a record-high budget to add missile interceptors and other equipment to defend the country from more North Korean weapons launches.

After North Korea missile, Britain and Japan agree closer security ties

Britain and Japan will pledge closer cooperation on Thursday on defense, cyber security and counter-terrorism as Prime Minster Theresa May looks to strengthen relations with one of her closest allies ahead of Brexit.


Foreign Policy Reports


Ex-Chancellor of Germany Schröder explains striving to take up upper post in Rosneft – Ex-Chancellor of Germany Schröder explains striving to take up upper post in Rosneft – 112.international

Ex-Chancellor of Germany Schröder explains striving to take up upper post in Rosneft. The former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Gerhard Schröder does not intend to refuse from the joining of the supervisory board of the Rosneft Company despite the intense criticism towards him. He claimed this at the pre-election event of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SDPG) in the Lower Saxony state a DW.com reported. Schröder explained his striving to take up the upper post in Rosneft by his desire to make Germany and Europe energy-independent. He left the matter open whether he will take up a post of the chairman of the supervisory board of Rosneft or not. Also, the politician called the attempts to isolate Russia to be irrational. ‘The demonization of Russia will not be helpful for anyone’, he noted. Schröder rejected the opinion that Rosneft is the Russian government hand, reminding that the British Petroleum, Katmar and Glencore are also the stockholders of the biggest petroleum company in the world. He also noted that the representatives of Russia are not prevalent in the supervisory board of Rosneft.

UAWire – German Foreign Minister: Germany does not want to completely ruin relations with Russia

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel urged the US to pursue a more sensible treatment of Russia, after meeting with the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, in Washington on Tuesday August 28th, Deutschlandfunk reported. Gabriel noted that the new sanctions issued by the US Congress caused concern in Europe due to “unpredictable side effects.” According to him, “we would not want to completely destroy economic relations with Russia.” It should be noted that the German Foreign Minister has repeatedly criticized the US for the newly approved sanctions issued against the Russian Federation. The German government claims that the new US sanctions against Russia violate international law. The German Foreign Ministry said that Berlin would not accept the new US sanctions against European companies. Both chambers of the US Congress supported the bill “Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act.” An important part of the bill specifies the support of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as the strengthening of sanctions against the Russian Federation. The document limits President Trump’s ability to lift sanctions on Russia, and also confirms the effect of restrictions imposed by the previous administration. US President Donald Trump signed the approved law.

Third World War II-era bomb discovered near British nuclear power plant | Fox News

An unexploded World War II-era bomb was discovered in the water near a British nuclear power station Wednesday, the third such bomb found this month in the same area of water.

Frankfurt to evacuate 70,000 while World War II bomb defused | News | DW | 30.08.2017

In one of the biggest evacuations in Germany since World War II, 70,000 residents of the city of Frankfurt are to move out of their homes while a bomb is defused. It was found at a construction site in the city center.

UAWire – Ukraine outraged at Putin’s Debrecen award

Ukraine considers it unacceptable that the University of Debrecen is awarding Russian President Vladimir Putin the title “honorary citizen”. This was the conclusion of the article which Ukrainian Ambassador to Hungary Liubov Nepop sent to a Hungarian news outlet, Evropeyskaya Pravda reported. According to the ambassador, perhaps a few years ago nobody would have paid any attention to this, but in the light of recent developments in Ukraine, it is unacceptable. “Since 2014, the name Vladimir Putin has been synonymous with violations of international law, including the Budapest Memorandum, the illegal annexation of the Crimea, and waging a hybrid war against the friendly neighboring power, Ukraine, a war which up to now has cost more than ten thousand of our countrymen their lives,” Nepop wrote. She also pointed out that Peter Korosparta, a member of the university senate and chairman of the doctoral and student staff who was among those who voted to award the Russian president this title, approves of the annexation of the Crimea, and does not agree with supporting the Ukrainian government, saying that “one needs to go to Zakarpattia to see what the reality is”. “In his opinion, Putin is not recognized as a military criminal, and countries sometimes change their borders through war. Furthermore, the only thing Russia has done is taking back territory which has always belonged to it,” the ambassador wrote. The ambassador hopes than neither the committee nor other members of the senate agree with their colleague’s position. Putin was awarded the title “Civis Honoris Causa” by the University of Debrecen during his recent official visit to Hungary. As the article states, the university based this decision on the fact that “the Hungarian and Russian governments are assigning a significant role to the University of Debrecen in the construction program of the second phase of the Paks II Nuclear Power Plant”. The University of Debrecen is collaborating with Rosatom to construct a nuclear power plant which will cost an estimated 12.5 billion euros. Budapest may receive these funds as a loan from Russia. Earlier photographs of Putin’s holiday home near the Finnish border were circulating online. Officially the house is registered to Putin’s close friends, but locals claim that this property belongs to the Russian President himself.


Strategy / History / Capability Publications


Defense Contractors Tackle U.S. Air Force’s Next Nuclear Missiles | Defense content from Aviation Week

Lockheed concedes defeat in next-gen ICBM competition as Boeing reviews options after LRSO loss.


IW/IO/Cyber Reports


Julie Thompson | Why Lethal Aid Can’t Help Ukraine | The National Interest

Arming Ukraine could put the United States in an awkward position vis-à-vis its NATO allies.

Germany’s Fight Against Fake News: Can it Work? | Center for International Media Assistance

Niko Efstathiou and Bebe Santa-Wood The fight against misinformation in media continues to ramp up. We are witnessing an explosion of proposed solutions and approaches in how to best filter “fake news.” Many foundations, NGOs, and tech platforms are putting money into media literacy, fact-checking and financial support for news outlets as ways to combat the spread of misinformation. In Europe, citizens and lawmakers are feeling the pressure, as the trifecta of populism, fake news, and threats of Russian interference increase the sense of urgency. Amid worries surrounding upcoming elections in Germany, the country has taken an especially proactive approach in stopping the spread of fake news. The response to fake news in Germany is an interesting case study as a policy experiment–it is the first time that a government has attempted to hold technology and social network companies responsible for the content shared on their platforms. In January 2017, government officials first stated their intentions to fine Facebook for any fake stories that went viral. On June 26, the German Bundestag officially passed the “Network Enforcement Act,” which goes into effect in October 2017. This law would enforce fines from €5- €50 million on social media companies who fail to take down “obviously illegal” content (which includes defamation, hate speech, or violent rhetoric) within 24 hours. Unsurprisingly, Facebook has been openly critical of the law. It has been joined by many press freedom and civil rights groups who fear the law could have unintended negative consequences, such as encouraging self-censorship or putting greater pressure on tech companies to preemptively censor any story. But Facebook has its critics too. In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. elections, Facebook and other social media networks faced a growing wave of accusations that they had done little to stop the spread of misinformation and which may have helped it spread. In part this is because social media platforms rely heavily on algorithms to determine what users see on their timelines. This means that the “virality” of a post is rewarded with greater visibility, whether the story shared is credible or not.

Pro-Brexit Twitter account with 100,000 followers could be part of Russian ‘disinformation campaign – To Inform is to Influence

Experts warn thousands of fake and automated accounts are currently online Lizzie Dearden Home Affairs Correspondent @lizziedearden The person operating the account has denied allegations of links with Russia A “passionate Brexit supporter” with more than 100,000 Twitter followers could be in the pay of the Russian government as part of an international disinformation campaign, analysts have said. “David Jones”…

Russia’s Improved Information Operations: From Georgia to Crimea – To Inform is to Influence

Russia’s Improved Information Operations: From Georgia to Crimea Emilio J. Iasiello ©2017 Emilio J. Iasiello Mr. Emilio J. Iasiello provides cyberintelligence to Fortune 100 clients and analyzes cyberthreats for domestic and international audiences based upon his 15 years’ experience as a strategic cyberintelligence analyst. ABSTRACT: After a series of military reforms resulting from the 2008…

Notorious spambot accidentally leaks 700 million email addresses and passwords – BGR

An email spambot just accidentally leaked its own mailing lists, revealing over 700 million email addresses along with many passwords. The leak is being called one of the largest of all time, and it was discovered thanks to a poorly configured web server which was hosting the files in a way that all…

Small defense contractors: Get ready to meet new NIST standards [Commentary]

Organizations must comply so they are not barred from doing military business.


US Domestic Policy Reports


UAWire – Media: Russia is creating paramilitary youth groups in the US

Employees of Russian consulates are engaged in the creation of a network of pro-Russian youth paramilitary detachments in the USA, reported SlavicSac.com. The article’s author writes that ahead of Russia’s invasion of the Donbas and the Crimea, representatives of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs, Rosmolodyozh, an organization that is one of the Kremlin’s main tools for patriotic influence on the minds of young Russians, had become frequent guests in American cities. They began to massively organize youth cells and patriotic camps following the example of Soviet pioneer camps. So-called children’s pro-Russian paramilitary “boot camps” began to be organized in California. One of the local Orthodox parishes in Sacramento announced that they would take in those wishing to undergo a kind of “young fighter’s course” that includes handling small arms, a sports bow and throwing knives, as well as drills and patriotic training. Similar youth training camps under clearly Russian names like “Scythian” or “Rusichi” have spread widely throughout the United States. Militarized musters are regularly held in the states of Washington and Oregon. In neighboring California, a “sports-patriotic camp dedicated to the Paratrooper’s Day, a Russian military holiday” had been organized from 2012 to 2015. In some California schools, Russian Cossacks conduct patriotic morning performances, organize something like “Zarnitsa games,” demonstration battles and performances of Cossack circles. One of the main organizers of the Cossack movement on the West Coast of the United States is the ataman Stanislav Kholodkov. He served in the Soviet Special Forces in Afghanistan and was the first commander of the Scorpion Squad, the elite formation of the Armed Forces of Kyrgyzstan. The journalist notes that even though the goal of teaching American children and teenagers is presented as exclusively “sports-patriotic”, many representatives of the diaspora, as well as Native Americans suspect that a widely-ramified network of Kremlin agents lies behind such fighting squads in the United States. After the annexation of the Crimea and the imposition of sanctions against Russia, the activity of such institutions has significantly slowed down. Similar trends have also been observed throughout Europe, where the Kremlin has organized secret paramilitary squads founded with the help of the Systema Russian Martial Arts Schools. German magazine Bild reported on a whole network of select paramilitary groups of the Kremlin based in Europe that could act on Moscow’s orders at any time. They have been organizing campaigns to disseminate false information among Russian Germans. There is a similar trend in Spain. Employees of the Russian embassy are trying to put all the public activities of compatriots under their control.

Russian Envoy To U.S. Suggests Reestablishing Military, Intelligence Contacts

Russia’s new ambassador to the United States on August 30 called for re-establishing regular, direct contacts between Moscow’s and Washington’s military, intelligence, and foreign polic…

Trump Lawyer ‘Vehemently’ Denies Russian Collusion – The New York Times

In a letter to Congress, Michael Cohen disputed allegations about him contained in a dossier compiled by a former British spy.

Mueller teams up with New York attorney general in Manafort probe – POLITICO

The cooperation is the latest sign that the investigation into Trump’s former campaign chairman is intensifying.

Russian lobbyist testifies to Mueller grand jury

Rinat Akhmetshin gave evidence for several hours about meeting with Donald Trump Jr

Michael Cohen Speaks: Trump Exec Admits Russia Dealings Were Gross, But Not Illegal

Plus: The three times he spoke with Trump about a potential Moscow deal.

The Curious Link Between Trump’s Moscow Tower Deal and a Ukraine “Peace Plan” – Mother Jones

Both involved Trump associates Michael Cohen and Felix Sater—and US sanctions.

Hillary Clinton’s Ukrainian connection a question worth exploring | TheHill

OPINION | An ethics watchdog is asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate the issue.

Yes, we must talk about Politico’s awful, smug insult to Texans and faith – Hot Air Hot Air

Or maybe we don’t have to discuss the sneering ridicule of Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas, at least not much. Res ipsa loquitur applies here, a fact that was immediately apparent across the political and media spectrum.

U.S. and Russia Agree: Nuclear Weapons Use Feared In the Hands of Donald Trump

A majority of 58 percent polled by Pew Research Center said they did not have confidence President Donald Trump would make wise nuclear decisions.

Trump says Finland is buying Boeing fighter jets. The Finnish president called that news a ‘duck.’ – The Washington Post

Trump and the Finnish president offer conflicting statements about Boeing’s chances to sell planes to Finland.

 

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