Some good forensics essays on Zapad 2017 – bigger, badder and nastier than initially stated, designed as a dress rehearsal for a major war against NATO, and lots of accidents, some fatal. More on Donbass peacekeepers, and Medvedev complains about US and EU objections to Nordstream 2.
Russian propaganda effort against Morgan Freeman ramps up, to the extent of throwing inconsistent and incoherent insults – Hollywood Reporter writing about it shows that Russia’s folly is gathering visibility. Bomb hoax campaign continues. More on ethnic, regional and religious divisions. USSR nostalgia survey shows distress resulting from growing inequity, and declining quality of life, below Soviet standards. More on Russia’s descent. COCW Award today goes to the authors of the Kalashnikov statue in Moscow, this author’s earlier assertion that Hugo Schmeisser and his StG-44 were not acknowledged was in fact not correct, as the statue pedestal had been decorated with AK derivative guns in relief, but these also include its ancestral StG-44, which will be removed from the statue now that somebody noticed it was not a Russian gun!
Belarus to further restrict Internet. Wood analysis of Moldova is very good, and he poses the question whether Russia’s elaborate meddling is not blowing up in their faces now – the destructive yet bungled 2014 play in Ukraine has left the Russian garrison in Transnistria effectively enveloped by nations toxic to Russia.
In Canada, Trudeau states intent to allow weapons export to Ukraine. More media reports on Poroshenko in NY. Donbass fires continue, while red-on-red assassinations in Donbass also continue. Ammunition storage site in free Donbass burns, arson suspected.
Iran test launches the new ‘Khorramshahr’ IRBM. Lavrov grandstands in UN on Syria.
DPRK continues to devour MSM bandwidth, with now distinct themes – catastrophising, fearmongering, bashing POTUS, inflating the prowess of the DPRK, and a minority actually reporting facts. Russians continue to grandstand on the DPRK. POTUS is being attacked for playing rhetorical tit-for-tat, yet this is not an unreasonable play against an extortionist raising the stakes yet not being able to cover his position – Kim is already overstating his available options, and alienating the few remaining supporters he has, and at some stage he will make the DPRK so toxic politically that even Russia and Chinese hardliners will bail, although that point is some distance away. Fox News surveys Kim’s creative endeavours in killing his enemies in gruesome ways.
A great many articles on the German election, tomorrow. The big questions revolve around how many seats will be won by Russian proxies such as the SDP and AfD. Merkel threatens Russia with more sanctions if they escalate further in Donbass. Multiple essays on Turkey’s descent.
More disclosures on Russian hacking of election systems. Much on Manafort.
Russia / Russophone Reports
Although a great deal of attention has been focused on Russia’s Zapad ’17 exercises in and around the nation of Belarus in recent weeks, the Russian military …
NATO is confident that its suspicions concerning the Zapad 2017 Russian-Belarusian exercises were justified. “It will take several weeks for a full assessment, but it is already clear that the scale and the geographic coverage of the Zapad 2017 exercise turned out to be substantially larger than those declared initially by Moscow and Minsk,” as relayed by NATO spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, to Süddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday, September 21st.According to her, these maneuvers were held not only in Belarus, Kaliningrad, the Leningrad region, and the Baltic Sea, as it had been announced before the beginning of the exercises. Simultaneously, “significant” drills were held in the Arctic, the Far East, the Black Sea near the border with Ukraine, as well as in Abkhazia. Russian authorities officially associated some of these drills with the Zapad 2017 maneuvers, Lungescu added. The North Atlantic Alliance believes that the Zapad-2017 exercise simulated a “vast conflict between the states” and that they used “a full range of Russian and Belarusian weapons,” including the Navy, submarines, fighter jets, tanks, artillery, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. NATO believes that, in fact, much more servicemen took part in the maneuvers than had been officially announced. Earlier, Minsk and Moscow reported about 12,700 military men. The alliance has not yet provided specific numbers, but they have mentioned “several tens of thousands of soldiers” involved in Zapad-2017. The Vienna Document of the OSCE obliges the host countries of military maneuvers to admit foreign observers if the number of personnel participating in them exceeds 13,000. The Zapad-2017 exercise was held from September 14th to 20th. Before it began, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin, claimed in an interview with DW that the maneuvers were exclusively defensive in nature and aimed at “working out the appropriate methods and use of the armed forces to combat terrorism.”
The Ministry of Defense of Latvia has not yet released an official assessment of the Russia-Belarus joint exercises but Latvian Minister of Defense Raimonds Bergmanis informed Delfi news agency that many facts point to the Baltic blockade scenario being worked out already. Zapad 2017 officially ended on September 20. Although the active phase of the exercises is over, the Russian armed forces activities will continue, Bergmanis said. He noted that much attention was drawn to the exercises and, more importantly, to what happened before and after them. “Assessing the overall picture, in my opinion, many elements of the Baltic region blockade were being worked out,” the minister said. He added that the official analysis of the exercises has not yet been conducted so there was no need to rush to premature conclusions.
The Russian military on Wednesday concluded its much-hyped Zapad exercise, which provoked months of hand-wringing among Western officials concerned about thousands of troops conducting war games near NATO territory.
NPR’s Ailsa Chang talks with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid about military exercises Russia carried out this week near Estonia’s border, and what they mean for security in the region and for NATO.
On September 18, the same Luzsky firing range was visited by President Vladimir Putin, together with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, top Russian military brass, multiple foreign journalists, and military attachés accredited in Moscow as observers. They arrived to witness Russian tanks, heavy guns, missiles, heavy flamethrowers, jet bombers and attack helicopters (including Ka-52s) firing live ammunition as part of the Zapad exercise. The visit by Putin and the other VIPs was officially declared a total success despite heavy rain and low cloud cover in Leningrad oblast. The one-day presence of 95 foreign military attachés at the live-fire show at the Luzsky range was affirmed as an act of openness—Russia allowing foreign observers to monitor Zapad 2017 (Militarynews.ru, September 18). Of course, due to the heavy rain and because they stayed for only several hours, those observers could hardly see much. Nonetheless, the overwhelming firepower of the Russian military was on full display. No other foreign observers were allowed to any other Zapad 2017–linked events inside Russia. But in Belarus, which unlike Russia is still a party to the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, foreign observers were allowed extended access to different locations during the entirety of the war game. The aforementioned Ka-52 incident was not reported by the Russian military. On September 17, the press service of the Western military district (ZVO) issued an upbeat statement about attack helicopters (including Ka-52s) successfully firing live ammo at decoys of enemy troops and vehicles (Militarynews.ru, September 17). The friendly-fire story became public only on September 19, when an Internet site published video evidence of the attack, apparently filmed by chance by an anonymous bystander (66.ru, September 19). The posted video shows two Ka-52s coming in hot at treetop level; the second helicopter suddenly fires a missile seemingly targeting real people and vehicles instead of decoys. The Russian military, after initial denials, acknowledged that the “the targeting system of one of the helicopters took on a wrong target.” A special commission was announced, which will investigate what went wrong: Was this the Ka-52 crew’s mistake or, as had been reported, did the attack chopper’s electronic command-and-control (C2) system fire “unintentionally” (Kommersant, September 20)? The Ka-52 is one of the most modern and electronically savvy Russian attack aircraft. It would be highly disturbing if it turns out to be true that its C2 system can indeed select and fire on wrong targets at will. Russian aircraft often buzz by Western warships and aircraft in the Baltic. If a missile is “unintentionally” fired during such a flyby, a war on Russia’s Western borders could become a reality. The actual cause of the Ka-52 incident is still unclear, and this has already had international ramifications. Belarus’s President Alyaksandr Lukashenka apparently refused to travel “to the north” to join Putin at the Luzsky firing range. The Belarusian leader told reporters, “What if a projectile hits us both [Putin and Lukashenka]?” On the last day of Zapad 2017, Lukashenka visited the troops together with reporters and foreign observers. Putin was absent; Shoigu had been expected but did not come, reportedly because of complications in Syria (Kommersant, September 21). On the last day of the war game, intense military activity was spread out to include the Barents Sea in the north and the Black Sea in the south, apparently mimicking an escalation of a conflict in the Baltic region into a major clash between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Though, the Russian military insists that any other military activity outside the official Zapad 2017 training areas was purely coincidental (see EDM, September 14). A ground-mobile RC-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was test-fired from the Plisetsk firing range, on September 20 (Militarynews.ru, September 20). Moreover, two supersonic Tu-22M3 Backfire jet bombers overflew the Baltic and Norwegian Seas (Militarynews.ru, September 21). These deployments would seem to indicate an escalation of the conflict with “Western forces,” as described in the Zapad 2017 scenario, going nuclear, but possibly in a limited fashion, to scare the West into submission and retreat—a potential deterrent tactic long embedded in Russian military thinking, though never announced publicly.
The massive Zapad 2017 military exercise proves once again that Putin never does anything small. But what’s he really after here?
The Zapad 2017 military exercises, carried out by Russia and Belarus, have recently concluded. Russian media reported that not everything went smoothly — and that there were a number of accidents. (RFE/RL’s Russian Service)
Why the Kremlin wants peacekeepers in the Donbas Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to actively seek support for his initiative to send UN peacekeepers to the Donbas zones of conflict. After his telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he had a conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron. Obviously, Putin’s efforts will continue, if only because of the attendance of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at the UN General Assembly. Of course, it is easier to try to convince oneself that all these actions by Putin are just another maneuver designed to legitimize the presence of Russian troops and mercenaries in the Donbas. And that no decision on deploying peacekeeping forces will be taken because, at a critical moment, Putin will inevitably “insist” on something. And in the best case scenario, everything will remain as it is– with permanent shelling of our territory and sanctions against the invader. And in the worst case, Putin will launch another war just before elections in Russia. After all, it is not by accident that Russia has organized the Zapad-2017 military exercises right by our and Europe’s borders. In this situation, everything is absolutely clear. We have already become used to the current conditions, and war must be prevented, or if it begins, it must be won. Nevertheless, I propose that we consider a more likely development — that Putin really is preparing to “withdraw” from the Donbas. But he will do so in way that prevents the restoration of Ukrainian control over the occupied territory. So far, nobody is preparing for such a development in Ukraine, even though this could turn out to be the perfect trap for our country’s future. However, let us just try to imagine a likely development: a compromise is reached on the issue of peacekeepers. They are placed throughout the occupied territory, including that part of the border that is currently under Moscow’s control. Shooting stops. Russian troops and mercenaries leave the area. The “people’s republics” self liquidate, giving way to the interim administrations of the “separate districts.” Russia ends all aid to the Donbas, but, at the same time, the financial support of the region, including the payment of salaries, pensions, and infrastructure maintenance, falls on Ukraine. Does this mean that Ukrainian control has been restored? Not at all. I would like to point out that all the efforts to introduce the UN peacekeeping force, to protect the OSCE observers, and, in general, to ensure security are linked to the desire to begin implementing the Minsk agreements. Actually, this is what the leaders of the member countries of the Normandy format have been discussing during their consultations. This is precisely what Merkel and Macron are requesting, not only from Putin but also from Poroshenko. And the Ukrainian president quite rightly keeps responding that there can be no discussion about implementing the Minsk agreements as long as there are occupation forces and shelling in the Donbas. And then the occupying forces leave and there is no more shelling either. Of course, we can imagine that, at that moment, Ukraine could ignore any agreements and liberate the occupied territories — all the more so, if the occupier is gone. But this is an illusion. The residents of the “separate regions” will be under the protection of the UN peacekeepers. After all, their presence, no matter what we may think, will legitimize what is no longer an external but an internal conflict.
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko assured that the UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas will not be conducted under the Russian scenario. Poroshenko said this during a joint press conference with Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, as the press service of Ukraine’s President informs. “I think we have a unique chance. Of course, it won’t be a Russian scenario. The UN peacekeeping mission must be deployed all over Donbas, including the Ukraine-Russia border to prevent the infiltration of Russian troops and weapons. Certainly, we will welcome the increase of the role of our partners in this issue,” Petro Poroshenko stressed. As it was reported earlier, Poroshenko is on a working visit to Canada. Poroshenko is to meet Canadian MPs and business representatives. He will also take part in the festive ceremony of opening the Invictus Games where the national Ukrainian team will participate for the first time.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dismissed a Russian proposal to deploy U.N. peacekeepers in eastern Ukraine as an effort to legalize its proxies and freeze the conflict.
Accession of the United States to the Normandy format is inexpedient. Germany and France should remain the key participants in the Minsk negotiation process. United States Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker said this in an interview with DT.UA news site. “It is important that Germany and France remain the leading participants in this process. This is convenient. Berlin and Paris use their capabilities within the framework of the Minsk process to discuss specific details: where the ceasefire line should lie; how, where and when heavy weapons should be withdrawn; how to counteract escalation in specific hot spots, etc. These are certainly important things. However, in my opinion, direct participation of the US would not add anything when dealing with these issues,” the diplomat said. In his view, the United States can play an important role in focusing the vision of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the strategic dimension of the problem he faced in Ukraine. “The US can tell Putin: if you want, we can help; if you do not want to, we can guarantee you will find yourself even in a worse situation,” Volker added. Earlier it was reported that the US Department of State explored the options for joining the Normandy format and negotiations on the implementation of the Minsk agreements with a view to settle the situation in Ukraine.
The U.S. wants to bury the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline, as stated by Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev at a press conference following a meeting with his Finnish counterpart Juha Sipila, Interfax reports. “The most pragmatic is the position of the United States, which wants to bury this project with all sorts of legal decisions, instruments, sanctions, having an ambiguous impact on the European Union,” said Medvedev. He noted that the European Commission’s position on Nord Stream-2 is also unacceptable for Russia. “As for the position of the European Commission, it is only being formulated, but it is probably not as pragmatic as the position of Finland, and it is intended to invite the Russian Federation to sign a separate agreement on Nord Stream-2. In our view, this is unacceptable from the point of view of equality towards all investors, since such projects were implemented outside all agreements on the basis of bilateral arrangements,” Medvedev said. In July, Germany rejected five projects for the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline due to “uncertainty.”
Veteran Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman, who made a video calling on the Americans to defend themselves from Russia, was actually roped into the anti-Russia crusade
The actor was featured in a video accusing the Kremlin of an “attack” on the U.S.
A Russian news outlet called the actor an “American propaganda loudspeaker” after he appeared in a video accusing Russia of undermining last year’s election.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 22 – Over the last 12 days, 400,000 Russians have been evacuated from approximately 1,000 facilities in 80 cities after anonymous callers had warned that bombs were set to go off in them. Officials, who so far haven’t identified let alone arrested those responsible, say there are no signs the bomb scares are letting up (tass.ru/proisshestviya/4583551). The central government media have devoted relatively little attention to this wave, although a Duma committee is considering tougher penalties for what has now come to be known as “telephone terrorism” and the Kremlin has been forced today to say that it is too early to say anything about what is going on (fedpress.ru/news/77/policy/1861027). What makes this such a big and serious problem as the emergency services minister said (themoscowtimes.com/news/the-mass-evacuations-in-numbers-59017) is that the authorities have little choice but to evacuate buildings if they receive warnings and that whoever started the calls, others may join in a kind of copycat crime. Consequently, even if the authorities do identify one or another of the callers or those behind that individual or group, others are likely to make use of the same tactic, against which at least for the time being the Russian authorities appear powerless to stop, however much economic damage these evacuations may cause. But far more significant than any economic costs, of course, are the political ones. Vladimir Putin has sold himself to the Russian people as a guarantor of order, as someone who ended the “lawless 1990s.” If Russians conclude that he is no longer able to do that, they may conclude that their version of “the mandate of heaven” has passed from him. And that in turn suggests that some opponents of Putin and his regime may continue to make such calls, even if the risks of engaging in “telephone terrorism” are increased, as Russia edges closer to the presidential elections early next year and enters a new and more complicated political season.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 22 – Moscow has challenged Tatarstan in two serious ways in the past quarter: it has not extended the power-sharing agreement that Kazan saw as the basis of relations between Tatarstan and Russia, and it has insisted that the study of Russian be compulsory but that the study of non-Russian languages like Tatar completely voluntary. There have been numerous commentaries on both sides of these two controversies. But a speech on the state of the republic yesterday by President Rustam Minnikhanov provides the clearest indication yet of how Kazan plans to behave in the future, deferential to Moscow but perhaps not as subservient as the Kremlin would like. In a discussion of the speech, Natalya Goloburdova and Elena Chernobrovkina of Kazan’s Business-Gazeta suggest that the speech shows the Tatarstan president has become “Putin’s foot soldier.” But if that is so, it does not appear that he will be one who doesn’t question and challenge his commander (business-gazeta.ru/article/358312). Unlike in his earlier addresses where he spoke almost exclusively about economics, Minnikhanov this time focused on politics. He reminded his audience that there are growing risks in the world and that these “dictate the need for the all-possible strengthening of the Russian Federation as the common home of the many peoples of our country.” “We are integrated in Russian statehood over many centuries. There is a complete understanding that only a strong Russian can serve as a guarantor of the successful development of our republic and of all Tatars wherever they live.” But then he added “life itself constantly shows that strong regions made for a strong Russia.” Minnikhanov then focused on the two issues most riling Tatarstan now: the non-extension of the power-sharing agreement and preference for Russian language instruction at the possible expense of the requirement for study or at a minimum the reduction in the amount of non-Russian language instruction. As for the former, the Tatarstan president said: “For about a quarter of a century, the content of our relations with the federal center was defined by agreements on the delimitation of authority …. But in present-day conditions, the leading factor is not so much the form of relations of the republic and the federal center than their content.” In short, there is not going to be an extension of the power-sharing accord, and Kazan is not going to press Moscow on that issue, the two journalists say. But there are going to be fights about Kazan’s powers that may address many of the things that earlier power-sharing accords had defined. And as for the latter, Minnikhanov again straddled the issue. On the one hand, he said that “it is necessary to place the accent on security the level of knowledge and mastery of the Russian language,” but on the other, “there is a need to improve the methods of teaching Tatar as the state language of the Republic of Tatarstan.” Among the steps he mentioned with regard to Tatar was a call for the restoration of a national pedagogical institute, apparently an indication that Minnikhanov plans to have a Tatar language teacher training institute soon. Summing up, the two journalists say, “Minnikhanov really spoke as a politician” rather than as an economic functionary,” thus recapitulating the course that his predecessor Mintimir Shaymiyev did 30 years ago and becoming “a real politician” who can deal with other politicians including those in Moscow.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 22 – On March 13, 1988, a previously unknown chemistry teacher named Nina Andreyeva published in Sovetskaya Rossiya – or at least it was published over her name – an attack on Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika under the title “I cannot give up my principles.” Because of Gorbachev’s absence at that moment, it was distributed by the Soviet news agency and published in most newspapers in the USSR, an indication that it represented an important point of view supported by many in the Kremlin rather than simply the opinion of one chemistry instructor. Andreyeva’s article, Yevgeny Ikhlov notes in a commentary yesterday, called into question the efforts of Gorbachev and Aleksandr Yakovlev to make use of Lenin to push aside Stalin and thereby open the way for what they hoped would be a renewal of socialism (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=59C3DF31C982C). According to the Moscow commentator, “Andreyeva destroyed the ideological consensus around ‘the renewal of socialism’ in exactly the same way that the Kornilov attack destroyed the unity of the ‘February’ revolutionaries” in 1917. But it did far more than that, and its broader impact is why it is worth recalling now. “The split of the perestroika people gave the opportunity to radicals (crypto-anti-communists) legally to create their own extra-party social-political movements, ‘peoples fronts in defense of perestroika,’ in the first instance in the Baltic republics,” with all the follow on from that, Ikhlov says. Moreover, Andreyeva’s article provided the occasion for a Politburo declaration in Pravda on April 5, 1988, entitled “Principles of Perestroika: Revolutionary Thought and Actions,” that laid down more clearly than anything up to then exactly where Gorbachev and his team hoped to take the USSR. Today, Ikhlov continues, a similar situation has emerged. Duma Deputy Natalya Poklonskaya has called into question yet another “’perestroika’ but already a ‘monarchical’ one.” The Putin regime wants to promote a return to traditionalist values including many taken from the Russian monarchy. To that end, it has promoted articles, books, television programs, and films about various Russian leaders from the beginning through 1917. But to make a film about the last tsar which paints him in an entirely positive light is impossible not only because of the historical record but because he was overthrown by the Bolsheviks among whose heirs Putin sees himself. But “happily” someone recalled that there was the story of the romance between the future Nicholas II and the ballerina Mathilda Kshesinskaya, and someone decided that would make the perfect subject for a popular film that would offer the image of “monarchism with a human face.” What the present-day “’engineers of political souls’ did not expect” was how the Russian people would react to a portrayal of a tsar (or in this case future tsar) as a human being because in the very archaic world that the Putin regime has promoted, Russians want their rulers to be not human but more than human. As a result, yet another “clever plan of the rulers to stupefy the population” failed, and it failed because Poklonskaya spoke to what the popular masses wanted and believed rather than what the Kremlin hoped they would want and believe. The regime has thus put itself in a difficult position. What remains to be seen is whether it will lead to the formation of genuinely competing groups, as Andreyeva’s article did, and threaten those behind “Mathilda” as much as the Soviet chemistry teacher’s did those behind perestroika.
Paul Goble Staunton, September 22 – Many Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians express nostalgia for Soviet times, but their reasons for doing so may not be exactly the same as the ones Vladimir Putin might wish for. Indeed, Belarusian blogger Maksim Mirovich says, some of them are very much at odds with what their leaders would like them to focus on. In a post yesterday, he lists what he calls five “basic arguments why people so much like the USSR and don’t like their present-day countries,” all based on the believe that they in fact “really live worse” now than in the Soviet past (maxim-nm.livejournal.com/357466.html; reposted atcharter97.org/ru/news/2017/9/22/263673/).
- “The poor quality of today’s products,” especially foodstuffs.
- “The sad situation with work in company towns.”
- “Bad roads.”
- “The loss of status of [formerly] ‘honored professions’” like teaching.
- And “hatred for the rich.” The last is especially important.
In Soviet times, the communist authorities encouraged people to have a negative view of anyone with money; and many Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians have not adapted to the shift in values their leaders promote to the notion that gaining wealth is a positive thing. But what is striking about Mirovich’s list is less what is on it than what is not. Based on the comments of people to his blog posts, he finds little of the nostalgia for the past based on the idea that the Soviet Union was a great power, feared if not always respected by others, while Russia and even more her two Slavic neighbors are far less so. While the Belarusian blogger’s list is hardly conclusion, it is a useful reminder that not all nostalgia is for what Vladimir Putin or other leaders might like to see brought back and that some of what powers that positive view of the past involves values that may even threaten those in power now.
On September 22, opposition politician Alexey Navalny held a mass rally in Novosibirsk. For the past two weekends, the anti-corruption activist has been traveling the country, campaigning in new cities daily. Last weekend, Navalny hit Murmansk, Yekaterinburg, and Omsk. Now he’s headed to Novosibirsk, Vladivostok, and Khabarovsk. Each of his rallies attracts anywhere from a thousand to several thousand people. Local officials have been granting permits for these assemblies, albeit with various restrictions on crowd size and location. Meduza reports on Navalny’s gathering in Novosibirsk.
Some 3,500 supporters attended a rally by Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in Novosibirsk on September 22. The city authorities sanctioned the rally that took place in the Siberia…
Russian police have detained opposition activist Sergei Udaltsov and some 30 others during an anticapitalism rally in central Moscow. Writer and nationalist politician Eduard Limonov was also amon…
SARANSK, Russia — During Russian regional elections earlier this month, pro-Kremlin candidates handily won all 15 of the gubernatorial elections that were held. In the western region of Mordovia…
A court in Russia-occupied Crimea gave RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena a 2 1/2 year suspended sentence on a charge of separatism for allegedly calling for the violation of Russia’s territory integrity in one of his articles. Following the verdict in Simferopol on September 22, Semena’s lawyer, Emil Kurbedinov, promised to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. (RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service)
A court in Russia-occupied Crimea found RFE/RL contributor Mykola Semena guilty on a charge of separatism and handed him a 2 1/2 year suspended sentence on September 22. According to the prosecutor, Semena had called for the violation of Russia’s territory integrity in his writing. Outside the court in Simferopol, Semena told RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service that the Russian law under which he was sentenced presents a threat to journalism in Russia.
A report presented at the 83d congress of PEN International calls on Russia to release prisoners of conscience, among which are Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, journalist Mykola Semena, Crimean Tatar leaders Ilmi Umerov and Refat Chubarov.
A new Russian memorial to fabled gun maker Mikhail Kalashnikov unveiled with pomp this week is hurriedly being modified by its sculptor after a rifle depicted on the ensemble was found to be a likeness of a rifle developed by the Nazis.
The monument to Kalashnikov was unveiled in downtown Moscow on September 19
A statue to Russia’s creator of the famed AK-47 rifle is to be changed as it shows the wrong weapon.
MINSK – Belarus is going to make adjustments to the documents that regulate the Internet, Belarusian Communications and Informatization Minister Sergei Popkov said. “There will be nothing super-tough […] You know that it’s impossible to close the Internet […] There are absolutely no new approaches here […] All countries have the same approaches now: to protect citizens against the influence of negative information as much as possible,” Popkov told a press conference in Minsk. He said it is now too early to speak about the details.
Some of the Russian soldiers told they had spent a month in Belarus already. In Veraitsy, which is the junction station near Asipovichy, an echelon with the Russian armoured vehicles, involved in the West-2017 exercises, was formed. Five dozen carriers and tanks of various modifications moved on platforms towards Asipovichy. The armoured vehicles had been brought to the same station, and then it was moved to the Asipovichy firing ground, one of the six in Belarus where maneuvers took place. It is located less than five kilometers away from the Veraitsy station, Radio Liberty reports. It’s like at war: one shot, no house The locals tell, the military vehicles that should be transported to Russia, came from the firing ground in self-propelled mode the previous night. They have been loaded for more than twelve hours. “It was terrible in the house. The house shook with the roar of those vehicles. I thought, it would fall apart log by log. I recalled the war, ” — one of the women said.
Hoaxes that have appeared on the Internet in Slovak over the past month
Transnistria / Moldova Reports
Four years ago, 20 percent of the banking assets of the tiny, landlocked nation of Moldova simply disappeared. In Europe’s poorest country, this was a lot of money and a very big deal. The loss of the money to an intricate looting scheme angered ordinary Moldovans who marched in the streets and put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the pro-European Union government.
Socialist supporters of the President in Moldova are set to take to the streets to protest over a Constitutional Court ruling, scrapping a referendum that aimed to allow the pro-Russian President to dissolve the pro-Western parliament.
Moldova has called for the United Nations to discuss withdrawing Russian troops from its breakaway Transdniester region at its current General Assembly session. “We reaffirm that we insist o…
President Donald Trump pledged to provide both defense and technical support to Ukraine in its years-long conflict with Russia that’s resulted in the deaths of thousands during a meeting with the Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko in New York City on Thursday.
The United States still has no final decision on the issue of supply of protective weapons to Ukraine. The United States still has no final decision on the issue of supply of protective weapons to Ukraine. This is reported by Deutsche Welle, referring to the words of an unnamed representative of the White House. As the representative of the US presidential administration noted, the question of providing Ukraine with defensive weapons is still at the stage of elaboration, and no final decision has been taken on it. We recall, President Petro Poroshenko said that provision of defensive weapons to Ukraine by the United States will allow resolving the conflict in Donbas and will increase the cost of Russian aggression. According to Poroshenko, providing the Ukrainian armed forces with US defensive weapons, together with the sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Russia, will liberate the occupied territories. “The first myth is that American weapons will force Russia to send its weapons to Donbas, but Russia never stopped doing this, and secondly, American weapons will not solve the situation as a whole, but this will definitely help to resolve the situation along with sanctions and diplomatic pressure. American weapons will increase the tension, but this will increase the cost of Russian aggression. In the face of such a strong deterrence, Moscow should think twice before allowing a new offensive, “Poroshenko said during the speech. Earlier we reported that “the US Senate approved a draft law on the U.S. national security budget 2018, which provides for the allocation of 500 million dollars to support Ukraine in the security and defense spheres,” the head of state wrote. According to him, the draft law authorizes the provision of lethal arms of a defensive character to our state. It also includes provisions that allow U.S. defense budgets to be used to rehabilitate wounded Ukrainian servicemen in the United States medical facilities, and to strengthen the capabilities of our state’s air and naval forces.
Placing Ukraine on the list would allow exporters of certain prohibited firearms to submit permit applications to the government for the export of the weapons to the country
Canada is elaborating legislation to lift the current ban on arms exports to Ukraine. Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau said this after the talks with President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, an Ukrinform correspondent reports. “We are moving forward regarding the mechanism of the Automatic Firearms Country Control List,” Trudeau said. However, he stressed that Ukraine should meet a number of criteria to be put on this list. “There is a process which requires meeting a number of criteria, but we are working on it,” the Canadian Prime Minister said. At the same time, Trudeau did not mention specific dates when this process could end. The Automatic Firearms Country Control List defines the countries, which Canada allows its domestic producers to supply weapons to. Currently, there are 35 countries on the list, including Botswana, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Colombia. Ukraine is not on the list so far. In April 2017, Canadian National Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan stated that opening of the arms market would become the next step in the defense cooperation between Canada and Ukraine.
In the course of the talks with Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, President Petro Poroshenko presented Ukraine's vision on how the two countries could level up their security and defense partnership with new initiatives, according to the presidential press service. News 23 September from UNIAN.
Transnational terrorism and use of force international relations, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, human rights violations and environmental fragility are but a few of today’s global challenges, the President of Ukraine to the United Nations General Assembly, calling on the world body to “act now” to tackle those and pressing concerns
Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 27 times in the past 24 hours, with one Ukrainian soldier reported as wounded in action (WIA), according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 23 September from UNIAN.
Croatia has practical experience in armed conflict on its territory from the 1990s that can be used to resolve the situation in Ukraine, said …
The situation in the Donbas conflict zone remained tense until the end of the day on September 22, the Ukrainian Army HQ reports. In Donetsk sector, the militants used grenade launchers, heavy machine guns, and small arms near Avdiivka industrial zone and Kamianka. The same arms were used near Zaitseve and Nevelske. Ukrainian strongholds near Butovka mine and Pisky were also attacked.
The end of the last day in the zone of the Anti-Terrorist Operation was marked with an increase in the number of shellings of Ukrainian positions by Russian-occupation forces, the press center of the Anti-Terrorist Operation headquarters reports. News 22 September from UNIAN.
A criminal case was opened on the fire that occurred near Novoyanysol, Donetsk region, which caused further ignition and detonation of ammunition at a depot of one of military units of the Ukraine’s Armed Forces, according to the press service of the Donetsk Department of National Police. The crime is investigated as intentional destruction or damaging of property. The military prosecution of the region is heading the pre-trial investigation.
In Novoyanosil, Donetsk region, explosions occurred at ammunition depots, according to the press service of the Donetsk Department of the National Police. According to the preliminary information, a few explosions were heard at ammunition depots at around 4:20 pm. Almost right after the explosions, a fire started. “Employees of the Nikopol police department went to the sire, as well as the responsible officials from the Donetsk Police, and military prosecution. The law enforcers surrounded the territory, so that people don’t get trapped in the fire,” the message says.
The militants of the so-called "DPR" (self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic) in eastern Ukraine say the "DPR" Revenues and Duties Minister has been assassinated by a car bomb in the occupied city of Donetsk on Saturday morning, September 23, according to the militants' information resources. Two explosions occurred near Myru Avenue in the city center at around 8:30. Employees of the “DPR” law enforcement agencies cordoned off the incident site, the Russian media reported. Read also Expert says Putin prepares plan B for Donbas According to the militants, eight people have been injured in Donetsk as a result of an assassination attempt on the so-called Deputy Chairman of the “DPR” Council of Ministers, Revenues and Duties Minister Alexander Timofeyev. The explosion occurred at the intersection of Myru Avenue and Ulrikh Street in Donetsk at 08:30, September 23.
Two explosions occurred in Donetsk Saturday morning, according to Interfax. The explosions happened at around 8:30 am, in the downtown of the city. The site was surrounded by security forces of so-called Donetsk Peoples’ Republic. The “law enforcers” of the militants say that it was the car of the Head of the so-called Ministry of income and taxes, Oleksandr Timofeev, according to the militant media. They say no casualties occurred in the explosions.
The Assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladislav Surkov, who oversees the separatist republics in the Donbas, became a …
The Rapid Trident 2017 Ukrainian-U.S. command and staff exercises have ended at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center of the Hetman Petro Sahaidachny National Academy of the Land Forces of Ukraine in Lviv region.
UATV English Published on Sep 22, 2017 “Do you speak English?” 600 Kyiv patrol police officers are now able to answer this question with a confident “Yes, I do!”. The British and American Embassies have sponsored an intensive 7-month English language course for Kyiv patrol police forces. _ Follow UATV English: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UATVEN Twitter: https://twitter.com/UATV_en Instagram:https://www.instagram.com/uatv.en Medium: https://medium.com/@UATV_English Watch UATV live: http://uatv.pro/
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary Péter Szijjártó, during his speech at the 72nd United Nations General Assembly, said that the education law previously adopted in Ukraine violates the right to use the language of national minorities. He addressed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the law, according to Ukrinform. “Regretfully, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted the new education law on September 5. This law substantially limits the right (to use the language of ethnic minorities), doesn’t allow children younger than ten years old to receive education in their mother tongue,” Szijjártó said.
MUCH has changed since Ukraine last tapped global debt markets in 2013. The next year the “Maidan revolution” drove out the corrupt regime of Viktor Yanukovych; and Russia annexed Crimea and stoked a war in Ukraine’s east. The economy languished, with GDP contracting by 16% in 2014-15; only an IMF rescue staved off collapse.
Ukraine’s state-controlled energy giant, Naftogaz, filed yet another massive lawsuit against its former client Gazprom, the EU’s top foreign gas supplier.
LVIV — A court in Ukraine has resumed a hearing on Mikheil Saakashvili's return to Ukraine, which the authorities have deemed illegal. The former Georgian president and Ukrainian regiona…
Mostysky district court of Lviv region found Mikheil Saakashvili guilty of illegal crossing of Ukraine’s border, and obliged him to pay a $130 fine, as Interfax-Ukraine reports. Saakashvili is also to pay the court fee of $12. The hearing began at 11 am, then the judge announced a break, and announced the court’s decision at 9 pm. Four witnesses gave testimony on the case: one activist and three border guard officers. The video of Saakashvili’s crossing of the border was also shown.
DNIPRO/ZAPORIZHIA, Ukraine — If politics is a circus, then Mikheil Saakashvili is a ringmaster. It's a sweltering 33 degrees Celsius on an Indian summer evening in Dnipro and the forme…
Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports
TEHRAN, Sep. 23 (MNA) – Iran has successfully test-fired a new long-range ballistic missile called the ‘Khorramshahr’ missile on Friday.
Iran tested a new ballistic missile that is reportedly capable of carrying multiple warheads, the nation’s state-run broadcaster announced Saturday.
Iran unveiled a new medium-range ballistic missile on Friday as President Hassan Rouhani vowed that his country would defend itself at …
Russia is looking to work with the U.S. on some of the dangerous issues in world affairs, Lavrov told reporters at the U.N.
Kurban Kasumov, Captain of the Main Intelligence Agency (GRU) of Russia, was killed in Syria on August 2. This was reported in the community " …
DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports
The president addressed the recent threat from North Korea during a speech in Alabama.
A reader warns against the bellicose talk.
Experts are concerned the pair are edging dangerously close to war.
U.S. intelligence officials warned Trump not to attack North Korea’s leader personally, saying doing so would irreparably escalate tensions and shut off any chance for talks.
Progressives have shown an increasing willingness to embrace North Korea’s brutal dictator as a means of attacking President Donald Trump
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he believes an exchange of insults and threats between the United States and North Korea is "unacceptable" and both sides need to take a step bac…
Russia’s foreign minister says Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are acting like fighting schoolchildren.
WRAPUP 9-U.S. Challenged by Rising North Korea Tensions, Russia Urges Calm
Would exploding a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific, as North Korea has threatened, push the current war of words between the U.S. and North Korea closer to actual war?
Bombs and earthquakes shake the earth in fundamentally different ways. A large enough explosion may feel like an earthquake, though.
Rhetoric between President Donald Trump and…
Donald Trump has threatened to “totally destroy North Korea” if forced to defend the U.S. and its allies, as Kim Jong Un’s reckless behavior with nuclear missiles continues. This …
Beijing says sanctions alone won’t work and urges Washington and Pyongyang to stop adding fuel to the fire.
Hawaiian officials are reportedly preparing for a nuclear attack by North Korea while trying not to worry residents and tourists.
Kim seems to save his most gruesome indulgences for the way he deals with people he considers enemies, traitors or subordinates.
Foreign Policy Reports
The best result for Moscow would be a further relaunch of the Grand Coalition. In Moscow, the SPD is considered to be the party with which one can do business best. Angela Merkel, too, demonstrated her willingness to take a moderate stance on the recent US sanctions against Russia. The Grand Coalition also supports Nord Stream 2. From a Russian perspective, maintaining the political status quo in Germany would be the best possible outcome of the election.
Opinion polls have confirmed the far-right populist AfD’s challenge to the Left party for third place in Germany’s federal elections. Chancellor Merkel has called on people to vote as concerns about abstention grow.
After Sunday’s elections, a far-right populist party will be in Parliament for the first time since the Nazis.
Polls show the Alternative fuer Deutschland (Alternative for Germany) party is in third place and poised to lead the opposition in Parliament. Here’s what to know about its agenda and prospects.
In the last week of what is expected to be Angela Merkel’s successful bid for re-election, the Alternative for Germany is creeping up in the polls as it sounds the alarm about what it says is an existential threat posed by Muslim immigration.
With SPD support down, the far-right AfD is almost certain to enter parliament in the upcoming German election. Meanwhile, a leading party figure has reiterated calls for Germany to stop apologizing for its Nazi past.
A nationalist party looks set to enter Germany’s parliament after Sunday’s election, smashing taboos and pushing the country to the right. Will its success embolden a growing neo-Nazi movement?
BERLIN — “My name is Shahak Shapira,” a young blond man announces in German, deadly serious as he delivers a video address to tens of thousands of Alternative for Germany (AfD) supporters. “Don’t worry; it’s an old Prussian name.” Shapira’s eyes twinkle as he informs his audience he’s hijacked dozens of […]
The SPD’s Martin Schulz trails Angela Merkel in the upcoming election. So he is attacking her promise to increase military spending, even though Germany lags far behind other NATO members. Instead of pressing Berlin to do more, Washington should do less, and let Germany deal with the consequences.
In the picturesque German city of Potsdam, a crowd gathers at the main square where a band is playing innocuous 1980s covers. The friendly-looking
Germany’s Angela Merkel is poised to cruise through re-election for a record fourth term as chancellor, USA Today reports.
With Angela Merkel a veritable shoo-in to win a fourth term as chancellor when Germans vote on Sunday, the big question is whether she can build a coalition that favors the wide-ranging measures to shore up the euro that the rest of the currency union is preparing.
Cabaret theater, an old Berlin art form, is giving new insight into how Germans see Angela Merkel as they prepare for Sunday elections that will decide whether her 12-year run in office extends to 16.
Where would Europe be without Angela Merkel? The staid force in global politics, who’s headed up Germany for twelve years, has earned the nickname mutti (“mommy” in German) and won countless accolades for her political savvy. But her particular brand of leadership remains elusive. On the eve of Germany’s national election, which she’s widely expected to win,…
Chancellor Angela Merkel may owe a debt of gratitude to Donald Trump for her commanding lead in the German general election. WSJ’s Anton Troianovski explains. Photo: Reuters
Political cartoonist Heiko Sakurai has learned a lot about Angela Merkel after sketching the German Chancellor for more than a decade.
A new “Street Fighter” parody video game allows voters to fight as Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and other political candidates ahead of the country’s federal election on Sept. 24.
Leaders of the G-7 countries can decide to strengthen sanctions against Russia if the situation in the conflict zone of Donbas again worsens – Merkel threatens Russia with tightening sanctions by G7 countries – 112.international
Leaders of the G-7 countries can decide to strengthen sanctions against Russia if the situation in the conflict zone of Donbas again worsens
In blazing sunlight, two dozen U.S. and Turkish sailors on a NATO exercise lower an American diving bell from an advanced Turkish rescue ship, sending it deep under the Aegean Sea where it is secured to a submarine.
Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım warned Saturday that the steps Turkey has decided to take against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s planned…
Turkey sent a final warning to Iraq’s Kurdish provinces to drop plans for a referendum on independence scheduled for Monday, calling the vote a direct threat to its national security.
ANKARA, Turkey — Organizers have stripped Miss Turkey 2017 of her crown over a social media posting that was deemed insulting to the memory of the 250 people…
President Erdoğan has taken steps that have alarmed his NATO allies. Until recently, Turkey has pursued policies directly opposed to those of Russia and Iran.
The world must recognize that the government of Recip Tayyip Erdoğan is against Western values.
Strategy / History / Capability Publications
Russia and China are actively pursuing new weapons and capabilities to counter America’s dominance of space according a U.S. Intelligence Community assessment.
The Experimental Aircraft Association runs flights like this on its B-17 to promote and preserve aviation for future generations.
In 1780, the great neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David completed one of his finest works. Entitled “Belisarius Begging for Alms,” the oil painting depicts an aging warrior, blinded with a hand outstretched, seated at the base of a colossal Roman monument. His feet are bare, his beard unkempt, and his armor draped in coarse rags, dull in sheen. A slender walking cane rests to his side, propped against a stone slab bearing the name of a famous former general — Belisario, or Belisarius. A beautiful woman, her face etched in concern, drops a few coins into an upturned helmet, and whispers words of consolation. Her husband, a man in the vigor of youth and full military regalia, is in shock, his arms raised and his mouth open. He has just realized that the stricken veteran is his former commander, the legendary Belisarius himself. Although his name is not as well known as it once was, Belisarius has long been considered one of history’s finest tacticians. Under the orders of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I, the sixth century general reclaimed vast tracts of Western Roman territory, from northern Africa to the Italian peninsula. Frequently outnumbered and leading an eclectic grouping of warriors composed of romaioi (Eastern Romans), foederati (Barbarian allies), and ethnikoi (specialist ethnic troops), the Thracian commander greatly expanded the footprint of the Byzantine empire at a time when many thought that Rome’s ancestral lands had been irredeemably lost. The fact that many of these conquests, as we shall see, only proved fleeting, has, if anything, only burnished his myth, transmogrifying the soldier into something of a crepuscular icon — Western Europe’s last great Roman protector before the advent of the so-called Dark Ages.
US Domestic Policy Reports
The president has not acknowledged the intelligence failures that occurred during the 2016 election, nor has he sought to fix them. The result: Russia is winning.
On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security notified nearly half of the U.S. states that their election systems were targeted by Russia-affiliated hackers..
The U.S. government on September 22 notified 21 states that their voting systems were targeted by hackers in last year's presidential election, and several of the most closely contested state…
The United States sees value in the New START arms control treaty with Russia, despite Washington’s concerns about Moscow’s track record on arms control and other issues, senior U.S. officials said on Friday.
Trump’s lawyer says it would be “truly shocking” if Manafort tried to profit from working for Trump. Is it on?
The intensity of the focus on Paul Manafort is widely seen as a potential effort by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team to pressure him into providing information on others in the Russia probe. But the “brass-knuckle” tactics have raised eyebrows in the legal community.
Paul Manafort’s longtime employee…
WASHINGTON — Paul Manafort was looking for an investor, and Oleg Deripaska was his man. It was 2008, and a famed Manhattan building known as the Drake Hotel was being eyed by the American lobbyist and political adviser Manafort for purchase and development. On June 30, Manafort met with Deripaska, a Russian who had earned his fortune and reputation as a hard-knuckled, take-no-prisoners businessman in the 1990s consolidating control over Russia’s metals industry. According to a memo generated by Manafort’s then-partner Rick Gates to two Deripaska associates, the Russian billionaire was definitely interested in investing, telling Manafort “to lock the other financing elements and then come back to him for the final piece of investment.”
Who’s paying for the attorneys representing President Donald Trump in the federal probe of Russian election interference? His legal defense is in part funded through a Republican Party account with a number of rich donors. Among them are a “billionaire investor, a property developer seeking U.S. government visas and a Ukrainian-born American who has made billions of dollars doing business with Russian oligarchs,” reports the WSJ. Oh, and there’s a Rosneft connection, you Putin conspiracy hounds. The RNC account in question has been historically used to pay for the RNC’s own legal bills, but just last month paid over $300,000 to help cover Trump’s personal legal expenses, Federal Election Commission filings reveal. Oh, and that same fund also paid about $200,000 to attorneys representing the President’s dumbest son, Don Jr.
Adam Davidson on how the latest revelations about Paul Manafort from Robert Mueller’s investigation fit into Trump’s track record.
The Trump campaign’s national-security policy…
Paul Manafort is working with allies linked…
The former Trump campaign chairman remains at the center of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
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