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Russia / Strategy Media Update (337) – 16 October 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Good essay by Umland on the head in sand regional politics of Central / Eastern Europe, where 40+ years of Soviet occupation and exploitation appears to have been forgotten in half that time. Interesting essay on Russian cultivation of Neonazis, and Felgenhauer, even the Russian nationalist, bemoans the diving Russian defence budget.

Many reports today on Russia’s descent into the abyss, Prof Goble’s “A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 104” – as always a must read, carries multiple COCW!

Two articles on Lukashenko’s invite from the EU, Moldovan government seeks to replace the Moldovan langauge, a dialect of Romanian, with Romanian as official language. Reports on Dodon’s effort to return Moldova to the Russian fold.

In Kyiv, Yanukovich trial shows Russians initiated invasion planning before receiving letter inviting them to invade. Donbass bill progresses, while attacks continue in Donbass. More reports on Arms and Security 2017 show. Russian plot to attack nationalist march interdicted by SBU.

Iran debate continues. Israel destroys S-200V / SA-5B GAMMON battery near Damascus after it launches against an Israeli aircraft over Lebanon. Shia militias invade Kurdistan

DPRK debate continues. Some recent and past articles on the breakdown of the socialist economy in the  DPRK.

Austria and Venezuela.

Four reports on cyber.

Trolls and HRC in US domestic politics.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Andreas Umland | Eastern and Central Europe’s Strategic Provincialism – Carnegie Europe – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Geopolitical myopia among the elites of NATO’s new member states is helping to preserve an unstable “gray zone” in post-Soviet Europe. During the last 15 years, a geopolitical “gray zone” has emerged between NATO and the EU on the one side, and Moscow’s Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Eurasian Economic Union, on the other. While the Kremlin meddles in many fields across the world, Putin’s growing appetite for confrontation is above all focused on Eastern Europe and the Southern Caucasus. Russia is instilling anxiety, fear, and instability across the entire region reaching from Scandinavia to Asia Minor. Yet, for some reason, countries that are targets of the Kremlin’s meddling are only selectively coordinating against Moscow’s use of soft and hard power—or are not responding at all. This is because the nations being attacked by Russia (with increasing military and non-military means) are divided: on the one hand by their inclusion in NATO, and on the other by their exclusion from the alliance and the EU. Most of the Kremlin’s target countries, the Baltic States in particular, were lucky enough to have become members of the EU and NATO since 2004. Yet the lack of international embeddedness and the partial failure of the remaining states in what has become the new Zwischeneuropa (in-between Europe)—that is, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and (to some degree) Azerbaijan—is not only a problem for these nations themselves. It also constitutes a serious security threat, and causes political, economic, and social challenges for the new EU and NATO members.

Latvia hosts the Silver Arrow 2017, the multinational military drills involving eleven NATO member countries – Silver Arrow 2017 military exercise kicks off in Latvia –

Latvia hosts the Silver Arrow 2017, the multinational military drills involving eleven NATO member countries

UAWire – Poland says it has discovered a recording of an explosion aboard crashed Kaczynski’s plane

On Saturday, during a meeting with the representatives of Polish media, Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said that the commission to …

Inside Russia’s alliance with white nationalists across the globe – ThinkProgress

“I truly believe that within these more extreme neo-Nazi circles, their education is quite low, and they simply don’t understand what Russia is.”

Russian Military Strategy, Stuck in the Past

Russian generals’ real enemy is not Washington, but those in Moscow who want to trim defense spending

The Daily Vertical: Will You Still Need Him When He’s 130? (Transcript)

Wishful thinking can be quite revealing. In a recent post on Facebook, the former State Duma deputy and pro-Kremlin political commentator Sergei Markov predicted that Vladimir Putin would live to be 130 years old. He’ll be president until he’s 71, Markov wrote, and then he’ll continue to rule Russia for decades as some sort of supreme national leader — a sort of Russian Deng Xiaoping. WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical Now we, of course, know — and Markov, of course, knows — that Putin isn’t going to live to be 130. No matter how many times he rides a horse shirtless, he’s mortal just like the rest of us. But Markov’s comment — which he made on the occasion of Putin’s 65th birthday — speaks volumes about the Russian elite’s anxiety over the fact of the Kremlin leader’s mortality. It speaks volumes about the very real fears about life after Putin. Part of this is related to the age-old Russian problem of succession. In the absence of viable institutions, power in Russia tends to become personalized and power transfers tend to turn into potentially violent and destabilizing power struggles. And the post-Putin transition promises to be particularly messy because you really need to go back to the Stalin period to find a Kremlin regime that is so centered on — and dependent upon — one man. But sooner or later, the Putin period is going to end. No amount of wishful thinking and predictions of superhuman longevity are going to change this. And the courtiers who became rich and powerful under his rule are living in fear of what happens next.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin has Promoted Russians’ Readiness to Shift Instantly from One Position to Another, Kirillova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 15 – “The single real consequences of the Putin regime” is the promotion in the population not so much of overwhelming support for an imperial ideology but rather for the kind of baseness and cynicism that allows them to “change their values, politics and even facts” overnight as the Kremlin line changes. “To correct this part of the [Russian] mentality,” one the reflects an increasingly short-term memory and the willingness to go along with anything the supreme leader calls for, however different it may be from today from what it was yesterday, will be a far more difficult task than rooting out any particular ideology ( Many were surprised by how quickly Russians changed their view of Ukraine from a “fraternal people” to “a hostile state” in the space of a few days, she writes. But “there was nothing surprising in this” for anyone who remembered the numerous cases when the Kremlin changed course on Lukashenka and other issues. “The memory of the majority of consumers of television propaganda is surprisingly short,” Kirillova says. Still worse, it is one in which the recipients of that propaganda are quite happy to keep in their heads completely contradictory ideas and facts, thus opening the way for them to change their position when that is required. Indeed, today, the US-based Russian analyst argues, one can say that “’the Putin majority’ overwhelmingly consists of conformists but not of convinced imperialists” and that “these conformists as the last decade has shown can easily change one reality for another” on demand. Some may view this as something positive, as opening the possibility for a radical break with the authoritarianism and imperialism that have characterized Putin’s last term. Indeed, such a break may be possible – and could even be led by him. But the habits of the mass population he has inculcated will be far harder to change. And consequently, any positive shift, one that many in both Russia and the West will be quite ready to grasp onto as an indication of a fundamental change in direction, is unlikely to last because it will have not deeper roots than whatever Russian television has planted in the last news cycle.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Tatar Activist Calls on All Non-Russians to Vote Against Putin

Paul Goble Staunton, October 15 – Fauziya Bayramova, the founder of the Tatar nationalist Ittifaq Party, yesterday called on all non-Russians to vote against Vladimir Putin in the upcoming Russian presidential elections because of the Kremlin leader’s language policies which threaten the future of the country’s non-Russian nations. At the annual commemoration of the anniversary of the 1552 sacking of Kazan by the forces of Ivan the terrible, she urged that even before the March elections, non-Russians work to reverse Putin’s policies which will allow Russian speakers not to study non-Russian languages even if they live in one of the republics ( Three things make Bayramova’s remarks especially important. First, when officials gave permission for this year’s anniversary meeting, they specified that there was to be no talk about the language issue. By going ahead, the activist and the 300 others at the event showed their contempt for any efforts to deprive them of their right to protest ( Second, her words underscore the centrality of the language issue for the non-Russians and demonstrate that Putin by his incautious language concerning the rights of Russian speakers not to study non-Russian languages may have played to his nationalist base but only at the cost of infuriating the non-Russians and politicizing the issue. And third, by taking this stand, Bayramova has restored Tatarstan’s role not only as a bellwether of non-Russian thought and action but as a leader of the non-Russian nations that Kazan was under former president Mintimir Shaymiyev but has become less so under his successor.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 104

Paul Goble  Staunton, October 14– The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be is far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore. Consequently, Windows on Eurasia each week presents a selection of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 104th such compilation, and it is again a double issue with 26 from Russia and 13 from Russia’s neighbors. Even then, it is far from complete, but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest.


  1. Putin Will Live to 130, Markov Says.Many people are talking about Putin entering old age now that he has turned 65, but Moscow commentator Sergey Markov says that is a mistake. According to him, Putin will live to 130, allowing him to serve as Russian president for many more terms even if with Medvedev-like intervals ( Meanwhile, more than half of Russians say they wouldn’t know whom to vote for if Putin doesn’t run for re-election as many are petitioning him to do ( and But at least one analyst says that Putin’s real support among voters is no more than 25 percent ( There is another indication that his appeal may be ebbing: pictures of Putin are now being offered at a deep discount, at least in Kazan ( However that may be, Russians seem to be competing with each other to come up with an epithet for the Kremlin leader. Among the ideas offered this week: “lord of the superpower of chaos” (, a new Brezhnev (, someone who could be caricatured as a bear (, and a warning that he is on the way to becoming a new Stalin (


  1. Putin’s Russia Exporting Kleptocratic Norms to West.  Ilya Zaslavsky says that among the most important “exports” of Putin’s Russia are “kleptocratic norms,” something that may be even more significant than hacking or compromising foreigners by bribery or other means ( As far as the US is concerned, a Moscow commentator has suggested that Donald Trump has gone from being a successful businessman to being “a political loser” (  A major reason for that conclusion appears to be that Russians believe that Trump’s positive statements on Russia notwithstanding, the US is “killing Russia with a thousand cuts” (  Other developments on the US-Russia relationship this week include white supremacists chanting “Russia is our fried” at a demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia (, a media firestorm in Moscow over the handling of flags over closed Russian facilities in the United States (, an annulment by Moscow of its accord with the US on adoptions followed by a statement that Moscow expects the US to continue to live up to the agreement’s provisions (, and intense interest in the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, with some Russians insisting that such things could never happen in Russia ( and others welcoming it because it will make it more difficult for Hollywood to support Democrats in American elections (


  1. Krasnoyarsk Governor Found Out about His Request to Retire from Media. The former governor of Krasnoyarsk said he “experienced shock” when he found out that he was retiring at his own request (, just one of the reasons that has sparked discussion about why the governors were changed and for what purposes (,, with many concluding that the biggest reason for the replacements was to give the Kremlin the appearance of being actively involved in domestic affairs (  Stories suggesting that potential governors had to jump seven meters into water to test their meddle only added to skepticism ( The parallels with the Soviet past were also underscored by a discussion between a former Soviet dissident and a Russian one who concluded they had many similar experiences ( New studies also concluded that despite the hopes of some and the fears of other, the younger generation in Russia is increasingly apolitical (российское-поколение-z-аполитичное-и-п/ and Another analyst said that Russians should recognize that their deputies are much richer than even they appear (, the result among other things of massive budgetary falsification and diversion (  The Duma does plan to inform the Russian people better about the laws it adopts by creating three new information services to explain what new legislation means ( and


  1. Russia’s Foreign Debt, Capital Flight Accelerating. Russia has increased its foreign borrowing at a record pace compared to the last four years (, as officials report that capital flight has doubled since the beginning of 2017 ( Despite much talk about import substitution and modernization, only 18 percent of Russian firms have plans to go digital in the next five years ( The Russian middle class is increasingly uncertain about its prospects (, income inequality continues to increase with no end in sight (, more factories are using bankruptcy protection to avoid paying their workers ( And the number of Russian children living in poverty has doubled over the last five years (


  1. Economic Crisis Driving School Children to Seek Work, Their Parents to Look for Food in Forests. As Russia’s economic crisis deepens for the population if not for the Putin elite, ever more schoolchildren are seeking to find after school jobs to help make ends meet (, while ever more of their parents are searching for what food they can in forests near their homes ( Russians cut their spending by 1.3 percent in September, twice the rate they reduced it in August ( And a new survey found that Russians say they need far more each month to live adequately than they are now receiving with the gap varying widely from region to region ( To try to maintain their standard of living, Russians are doing what their governments are: borrowing more and more, with the greatest increases in personal debt now found in the poorest regions ( As a result, personal bankruptcies have doubled in the last year ( And recognizing that the Russian market is contracting, ever more foreign retailers are pulling out (


  1. Russian Educational System Failing to Produce People Prepared for Future.The rector of the Moscow Higher School of Economics says that the Russian educational system is failing to produce people adequately prepared for the future ( Two other school problems this week: educational authorities in some regions are forcing special needs children to exercise in the basement so that they “won’t frighten” the others (, and the education minister says she has found 700 additional schools without indoor plumbing, bringing the current reported number to 3400 (


  1. Most Russians Are Second Class Citizens and Think That’s The Way It has to Be. One of Russia’s biggest problems is that the many residents who are treated as second class citizens think that is appropriate, some observers suggest ( Another is that Russians have almost no understanding of what property is about ( Some Russians have gone to bat to protect animals, overriding a governor who banned feeding homeless animals but not yet blocking a new Duma measure that would require them to register and pay fees for their pets ( and  On the transportation front, the government says it will build a total of only 1500 kilometers of new federal highways by 2020 (, Russian rail has hiked prices for many routes pricing them beyond the means of many Russians ( In other social news, officials say that nearly a third of all Russians in prison were convicted of drug-related crimes (, the Sakha Republic wants to reintroduce Soviet-style sobering up stations because half of all crimes there are alcohol-related (, and despite reports about a record harvest, experts say that Russia is lagging behind in the development of advanced types of seed and biotechnology and so will suffer more losses in the future ( and


  1. Putin’s Health Optimization Program Killing Hundreds of Russians Outside of Moscow, Doctors Say. Doctors say that significant cutbacks in health care delivery systems outside of Moscow has already resulted in hundreds of deaths and will claim even more unless something is done ( Thousands of Russian women aren’t getting mammograms and thus many are dying of breast cancer (, and pupils are dying in physical education classes because there are no health care facilities nearby ( Putin’s cost-cutting measures are not the only cause, however. Forty percent of Russian adults are skeptical about vaccines and many don’t have their children immunized (, air quality is bad in many places (, and in St. Petersburg, the ground is even more heavily contaminated and dangerous to health than water or air ( Moreover, to save money, the government is reducing the amount of iodized salt on the market, thus opening the way to more thyroid-related diseased (


  1. One Moscow Marriage in Four is Now Ethnically Mixed.Statistics show that Muscovites are increasingly intermarrying across ethnic lines, a trend that some will see as promoting stability in an ever more multi-ethnic and poly-confessional city but that others will view as a threat to Russian national identity ( The commitment of the new head of Daghestan to ignore ethnicity in appointing people to positions is one of the reasons he is likely to fail there and even more a reason why his approach could destabilize the situation in many multi-national republics ( and There was a lot of Circassian news this week: the Circassian Cultural Center in Moscow burned (, regional officials sought to suppress Circassian commemorations of history but faced resistance from the population ( and, and a leading Circassian activist said he was ending his hunger strike because he had achieved his goal of attracting attention to the travails of the Circassians (  The situation of the peoples of the North also became more tense with another criminal case involving a member of an indigenous nationality accused of killing Russian oil field workers ( and a new bureaucratic and political fight broke out over who will control the registries of northern peoples that will in turn determine who gets special subsidies and who doesn’t ( and


  1. Putin’s New Secularism Isn’t, Lunkin Says. Roman Lunkin of the Slavic Center for Law and Justice says that Vladimir Putin’s much ballyhooed talk about Russia remaining a secular state is just that, talk, and that in fact, the role of Russian Orthodoxy in government affairs has made a mockery of the Constitution’s declaration (


  1. On Language Issue, Shaymiyev Warns Putin that Tatarstan is a State.  Mintimir Shaymiyev, the former president of Tatarstan, warned Vladimir Putin that Tatarstan is a state and that the Kremlin leader should approach language issues, properly the affair of such a state, with much greater care than he has shown so far ( Meanwhile, Moscow appears to have dug in on the language issue with officials now calling for a language section to be added to the country’s nationality policy program (, protesters against the Russian first language policy arrested (, and decisions being taken by regional officials because Moscow has not yet been able to articulate a coherent policy ( One commentator has suggested that Putin has achieved something remarkable: both sides on the language fight in Russia feel that their rights have been violated (


  1. Putin has Completed Destruction of Russian Federalism, Shelin Says. Vladimir Putin has achieved one of his goals by destroying Russian federalism, Rosbalt commentator Sergey Shelin says ( In fact, however, the fight goes on. One Karelian portal says that news from that republic increasingly sounds like combat reports from an occupied territory (, and the Russian procuracy has found that 94,000 laws in the regions and republics still are not in correspondence with federal ones as they are required to be ( But attacks on regionalism continue ( Moscow’s population continues to expand, by 50,000 in the first seven months of the year, while many cities not just villages are now being abandoned ( and And experts warn that beyond the ring road, there are many areas of poverty and demographic collapse which are larger than European countries ( One group of regions has complained about the micromanagement they are subjected to from Moscow by demanding that the country at least have “alcohol federalism,” where regions would decide how much people can drink (


  1. Protests Spread Across Russia — and Moscow Risks Restarting Anti-Plato Truckers Strike.Russians this week organized demonstrations against high gas prices, non-payment of wages, back pay, official malfeasance, and fishing rights (,,  But the Russian government has now set the stage for a re-start of the large long-haul truckers strike it faced earlier as Moscow has announced that it wants to quadruple fines for those who don’t pay the Plato fees (


  1. As in Stalin’s Time, Moscow Wants to Punish 12-Year-Olds as Adults. A group of Duma deputies has called for lowering the age at which children can be punished for crimes as adults to 12, the same year it was in Stalin’s time ( Russian officials also want to limit or even shut down Radio Liberty’s activities in Russia ( More information has come out about Moscow’s moves against all things Navalny, with his supporters losing their jobs or positions in universities and facing violence and the planting of evidence (, In other repressive moves, officials want each kiosk owner to be given a list of extremist materials (, the Central Bank wants to limit websites offering crypto-currencies (, and Russia continues to help CIS countreis arrest and deport dissidents back to their homelands ( Unfortunately, a new poll shows that half of Russians favor placing severe limits on Internet social networks (


  1. One Place Bomb Threats Haven’t Emptied – Lenin’s Mausoleum. Telephone terrorism continues across the Russian Federation, but there is one place where despite bomb threats, officials have not chosen to evacuate even once: Lenin’s mausoleum on Red Square ( Other developments affecting Russia’s domestic security: One commentator notes that progress in Putin’s Russia means that the FSB now does openly what the KGB used to do secretly ( In addition, there are ever more reports of violence in various parts of the country, including organized violence over large numbers of people (, In some places, police are resigning in large numbers because they feel they have lost control of the situation and aren’t getting the support they need (/  The Russian media is reporting that in recent dedovshchina cases, military courts are punishing soldiers but not officers (, although a Chechen commander was removed from a Russian Guard unit when it was discovered that he was withholding the pay of the soldiers under his command and pocketing it for himself ( But perhaps the most worrisome development was a combination of two reports: the government says it is being forced to cut more social spending to finance the ministry, but the finance ministry has refused to raise the pay of soldiers and officers (


  1. Girkin Says Russia Suffered 100 Combat Deaths in Syria in Last Two Weeks. The former Donbass leader say that Russian forces in Syria have lost at least 100 men in combat over the last two weeks (, a report that has reignited discussions about whether Moscow really cares about those who fight for it or not (, One commentator has pointed out that Putin is using his portrait of a highly threatening outside world to restore the USSR not just territorially but functionally, turning it into military camp with 3.3 percent of GDP now going to the armed forces (, and In other foreign security developments, Russian officials are calling for for a new law on dual citizenship for CIS countries ( Moscow says it won’t establish a second base in Kyrgyzstan ( and for the first time in five years cuts its foreign aid program ( Problems are mounting at Russia’s cosmodrome both with equipment and with workers who are striking for unpaid wages (  and


  1. Moscow, Pyongyang Cozy Up. A Russian Duma delegation consisting of representatives from all parliamentary parties travelled to Pyongyang (, and partially as a reward, the North Koreans have announced that they recognize Crimea as legitimately part of Russia (


  1. A Million Russians in 50 Cities March Against Mathilda, Russian Orthodox Activists Say. A  million Russians marched against Mathilda the same weekend of the Navalny protests, a figure that independent experts say is an exaggeration ( Patriarch Kirill gave them implicit backing by denouncing the film as a falsification ( Some people are even pushing for the canonization of Natalya Poklonskaya, the leader of the anti-Mathilda actions, but the hierarchy has rejected that idea ( One MGIMO analyst argued that the film was all about “delegitimizing the Crimean consensus” ( Russia’s central television channels announced they will not carry advertising about the film ( Meanwhile, pro-Nicholas II billboards are going up in Yekaterinburg. They had earlier appeared in Moscow ( and


  1. Monuments Wars Continue Elsewhere Unabated.There is a controversy over the renaming of Tutuyev to restore its tsarist name ( SERB activists again pulled down the memorial sign to Boris Nemtsov ( A Donbass heroes statue has gone up in Rostov ( Conflicts over Soviet statues have expanded in Ryazan and Novosibirsk ( and And the first over whether to build a cathedral on the waters in Yekaterinburg continue unabated ( Meanwhile, in what may be a diversion, Russian officials have approved the erection of a Shakespeare monument in the center of Moscow but only at the end of 2019 (


  1. US Olympic Committee Head Calls on IOC to Take Action Now on Russian Doping. The head of the US Olympic Committee has asked the IOC to take action against Russian doping in an apparent effort to put pressure on that body before next year’s Olympiad ( In an apparent response, the IOC says it will test any and all Russians who do take part in those games (  Problems continue with the construction of venues for the 2018 World Cup still scheduled for Russia ( Russian football fans remain among the most violent in the world, according to observers, and include many who are openly racist ( St. Petersburg officials are worrying about how to keep visitors to the competition occupied between matches ( Officials in the Northern capital are also resisting demands that they tear down yet another building to prepare for the World Cup ( Meanwhile, Poland announced that it will not simplify border crossing for the World Cup period (


  1. Moscow’s New Ruble Bills Cause Problems.  Not only does one of the new Russian bills show occupied Sevastopol, something that has outraged many Ukrainians, but another shows Sakhalin as a peninsula rather than the island it is, something that has led to often bitter jokes on Russian social networks (


  1. Russian Textbooks Often Neglect to Show Kaliningrad, Crimea and Kuriles.Russian commentators are complaining that many school textbooks fail to provide accurate maps, dropping Kaliningrad, Crimea or the Kuriles because they are not directly connected with Russia proper. That only encourages young Russians to ignore them, some say (


  1. Sergey Markov Says Moscow Doesn’t Produce Anti-Ukrainian Propaganda. In the most sweeping lie of the week, Sergey Markov, a former Duma deputy and Moscow commentator, says that the Russian government has not ever and does not now produce any anti-Ukrainian propaganda whatever anyone says (


  1. ‘Oil Apocalypse’ Spreads Across Russian Far North.  Ever more oil leaks are destroying the land and water of Russia’s Far North and thus making it impossible for many of the indigenous peoples there to survive or even to continue to live where they have been since time immemorial (


  1. ‘Muscovization of Russia’ Said Leading to ‘Greatest Geopolitical Catastrophe of 21stCentury.’  Many blame Lenin’s creation of the union republics for setting the stage for the disintegration of the USSR; now some analysts are suggesting that the hypercentralization of institutions and power in Moscow will have the same effect on the Russian Federation (,1,100157-doktrina-razmoskvichivaniya.html).


  1. Russia’s Claim to Be USSR’s Legal Successor Set the Stage for Putin’s Actions.  The Russian government’s claim from the very beginning to be the legal successor to the Soviet regime, a claim that was accepted by most governments around the world, has the unintended consequence of setting the stage for Vladimir Putin’s revanchist policies, according to one Moscow commentator (


And 13 others from countries in Russia’s neighborhood:


  1. Ukraine, Georgia Recommit to Eventually Joining NATO. The presidents of Ukraine and Belarus both said this week that they remain committed to having their countries become members of the Western alliance (


  1. Trade Among CIS Countries Down Sharply, Reducing Organization’s Importance.  Trade between members of the CIS has fallen sharply as a result of the economic crisis, a trend that not only reduces the importance of the CIS but also makes the region as an entity less important to most of its members ( and


  1. GUAM Plans to Set Up Its Own Free Trade Zone. GUAM, the organization that unites Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova, having just marked its 20thanniversary, has committed itself to organizing a free trade area among its members, something Moscow very much opposes ( and


  1. Kyiv’s Language Law Goes into Force. A Ukrainian law requiring that television stations broadcast at least 75 percent of their programs in the national language and that restricts the use of minority languages, including Russian, in schools and other institutions has gone into effect, sparking complaints from Moscow which imposes even more draconian rules on languages in the Russian Federation and from Europeans who appear not to understand the difference between multi-culturalism that arises on its own and language policies needed to overcome imperial occupation (


  1. Russian Security Agencies Said Increasing Recruitment of Ukrainians. The Ukrainian security service says that Russian operatives have radically increased their recruitment of Ukrainians in recent months, thus threatening the security of the country (


  1. Crimean Occupiers Keeping Russians from Russia from Becoming Officials There. The occupation authorities in Ukraine’s Crimea not only are working hard to maintain their control of the situation by excluding Russians from the Russian Federation from key government positions ( have stepped up their repression of ethnic and religious minorities there, this week attacking the use of Gideon Bibles ( Other related developments include the emergence of Kherson Oblast as a de facto Crimean Tatar autonomy within Ukraine ( and a decision by Volkswagen to ban the sale of its car in the Russian occupied Ukrainian peninsula (


  1. Ukrainian Deputy Says Kyiv Ready to Help Sakha Separate from Russia. A Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada deputy says Ukraine will help the Republic of Sakha achieve independence from Russia, a statement that has drawn fire from both Moscow and Yakutsk (


  1. Belarus Ranks Only 13thAmong Recipients of Russian Aid … According to new data, Belarus ranks only 13th in the receipt of Russian assistance, despite being part of the union state and Moscow’s closest ally on my issues (


  1. … But Despite That, Minsk Ranks First in Providing Russia with Sanctioned Products.  Belarus is nonetheless proving to be the largest channel for goods Russia cannot purchase directly (


  1. Belarusians Trust the EU More than the Eurasian Economic Union. Polls show that whatever the Lukashenka may be doing, Belarusians trust the European Union more than the Moscow-dominated Eurasian Economic Union (


  1. Latvia’s Harmony Party Ends Cooperation with Russia’s United Russia.  Latvia’s Harmony Party which promotes inter-ethnic concord has ended a cooperation agreement it had with Russia’s ruling United Russia Party (


  1. Moscow Supplies 90 Percent of South Ossetian State Budget. The Russian authorities provide 90 percent of the state budget of the unrecognized breakaway South Ossetian government (


  1. Kazakhstan Confronts ‘Specter of Separatism.’Astana, facing what some officials there view as “the specter of separatism,” has imposed new rules to regulate movement of people from one region to another and blocked Russia Today broadcasts inside Kazakhstan ( and

Navalny Organizes Another Round of Protests Against Putin – Jamestown

Ostensibly to celebrate Vladimir Putin’s birthday on Saturday, October 7, supporters of the detained opposition politician and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny and his staff organized protests across Russia, calling on the Russian president to leave office. Navalny himself has been under administrative arrest since September 29, and so was unable to attend the protests. These latest were the third sizeable protests this year under Navalny’s opposition umbrella—the first being in March (see EDM, March 27) and the second occurring on June 12. As usual, the largest protests took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg. “[O]n behalf of the 163,171 campaigners and 623,621 petition signers for the nomination of Navalny,” his staff called for “all those, who want a better future for our country, regardless of political views and agreement with Alexei Navalny’s program, to act as a united front for political competition and the right of all citizens to support the campaign that they like” by coming out onto the street for the latest protests (, October 5). First among the protesters’ formal concrete demands was a call to have Alexei Navalny’s candidacy admitted to the March 2018 presidential election. Although numbers attending the demonstrations were significantly lower than previous rallies, they nevertheless achieved a truly country-wide presence.

Russia Fines Telegram App Over Encryption-Key Demand

A Russian court has imposed an 800,000 ruble ($14,000) fine on Telegram for refusing to provide the Federal Security Service (FSB) with encryption keys to the popular messaging app. Judge Yuli…

Russian Protest Artist Pavlensky Sets Fire To Entrance Of Paris Bank

By RFE/RL Russian protest performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky set fire to an entrance of the Bank of France in Paris, according to photographs and accounts on social media. Photos of th…

Azerbaijani, Armenian Presidents To Meet In Geneva Over Nagorno-Karabakh

The Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents are set to meet on October 16 to discuss a possible settlement of the conflict over Azerbaijan&rsquo;s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Serzh Sarkisia…

Belarus Reports

The Briefing: Lukashenka And The West

A senior EU official heads to Minsk amid reports that Alyaksandr Lukashenka will be invited to Brussels. And Vladimir Putin prepares to give what the Kremlin is describing as an important speech. Listen to the new Power Vertical Briefing.

The Morning Vertical, October 16, 2017

ON MY MINDHow far can Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s flirtation with the West go? How far will Moscow allow it to go? How much will the West embrace a man who is essentially a dictator for geopolitical gain? Johannes Hahn, the EU’s enlargement commissioner, is due to to visit Minsk this week amid reports that Lukashenka is about to be invited to the EU’s Eastern Partnership summit for the first time. Hahn’s visit also comes as relations between Minsk and Moscow are skidding to new lows in the wake of the Zapad 2017 military exercises. (See the Power Vertical blog post, The Zapad Hangover, featured below.) On this week’s Power Vertical Briefing (also featured below), we discuss these issues and also look ahead to Vladimir Putin’s speech this week at the Valdai Discussion Forum. So be sure to tune in to get a jump-start on this week’s events!

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

Moldova MPs Push to Make Romanian Official Tongue :: Balkan Insight

Moldovan MPs are moving to change the constitution to replace the Moldovan language with Romanian, despite opposition from pro-Russian president.

Moldova’s Foreign Policy: Heading East? | Geopolitical Monitor

Moldova’s foreign policy could swing toward Russia when pro-EU parties face angry voters in elections next spring.

Is Moldova drifting from EU towards Russia? – New Delhi Times – India’s Only International Newspaper

By NDT Special Bureau Moldova lies on the borderland between Russia and the European Union (EU). Although Western financial assistance and an increasing EU presence has been a constant feature in Moldova, yet in recent years, there is a perceptible shift in the Moldovan policy towards Russia, particularly since Igor Dodon won the country’s presidential…

Transnistria — not on the international community′s map | Europe | DW | 15.10.2017

What is it like to be born in a country not recognized by the international community? Welcome to Transnistria, a disputed region in the east of Moldova, where DW talked to photographer and native Anton Polyakov.

Ukraine Reports

Russia decided to send troops to Crimea before receiving Yanukovych’s appeal, – media –

Former MP of Russian Duma Ilya Ponomarev, one of the main witnesses in the case of Viktor Yanukovych’s state treason, testified that the invitations to the members of the Federation Council (upper house of the Russian parliament) were being sent before Yanukovych’s letter to Putin, which pleaded to use Russian military on Ukraine’s territory, appeared. While Russia justifies sending troops to Ukraine due to Yanukovych’s appeal and support of the Federation Council, Ponomarev says actions were being taken before the letter was even written. The information comes from Ilya Ponomarev’s testimony, a copy of which was published by the UNIAN. This way, according to Ponomarev, Russian aggression was inevitable. “As far as I understand in terms of chronology, the decision to convene a Federation Council assembly came before the mentioned appeal by Yanukovych. I know from senators I’m acquainted with, now I don’t remember who exactly told me, phone calls about this extraordinary meeting were made and invitations sent to the members of the Federation Council on February 28, 2014”. Yanukovych’s letter is dated March 1, 2014. In his testimony, Ponomarev goes on to say that he found out about Yanukovych’s letter from the media, and he saw its copy on March 3, 2014, during a broadcast of the UN Security Council Assembly. “I personally didn’t see Yanukovych’s appeal. I read about it in the media, and saw Churkin, Russian Permanent Representative to the UN, show the copy of this statement at the UN Security Council Assembly on March 3, 2014. At the same time, many of Ponomarev’s public addresses somewhat contradict his testimony. In particular, in one of his recent interviews, he says that he knew about the letter and that it was shown at the Federation Council assembly. Ponomarev’s testimony is similar to the previously published copy of the testimony of another former Duma MP Denis Voronenkov, who was killed in Kyiv. The prosecution also called him one of the main witnesses in the case. Voronekov referred to the media announcements a lot.

Russia decided to send troops to Crimea even before receiving Yanukovych letter – witness testimony

Russia&rsquo;s ex-MP Ilya Ponomarev, who is considered one of the key witnesses of the Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine in the treason case of Viktor Yanukovich, testified that the members of the Federation Council had received invitations to convene before the letter emerged of the runaway Ukrainian president to Vladimir Putin &quot;on the use of Russian troops on the territory of Ukraine,&quot; Glavcom reported citing its source in the PGO familiar with the probe. News 16 October from UNIAN.

Bill on Donbas de-occupation: notes ahead of second reading

Much has been said about the presidential bill “On the features of state policy on ensuring Ukraine’s state sovereignty over the occupied territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.” However, the question remained beyond the discussion framework on how this bill had been drafted and then submitted to Parliament. Besides, much less focus was made on the decision to prolong the law on a special order of local self-governance in the occupied Donbas that had already entered into force. Also, the bill put forward by a group of deputies led by the Rada vice-speaker, with a name similar to the presidential version, “On the features of state policy…” remained behind the scenes.

Iryna Gerashchenko plans on Tuesday to register in parliament amendments to bill on Donbas reintegration – 16.10.2017 14:12 — Ukrinform News

First Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Iryna Gerashchenko plans on Tuesday, October 17, to register amendments to the bill on reintegration of Donbas in the Parliament.

Carl Bildt | Is peace in Donbas possible? | European Council on Foreign Relations

An ambitious international peacekeeping and transition operation is badly needed in the Donbas.

UAWire – Ukrainian President Poroshenko promises that Ukraine will join NATO

Ukraine will definitely become a member of NATO and, perhaps, will even be able to offer its representative to the post of Secretary General, as …

Two Ukrainian military wounded in combat yesterday, 16 attacks by Russian troops recorded in Donbas, – ATO HQ

16.10.17 09:31 – Two Ukrainian military wounded in combat yesterday, 16 attacks by Russian troops recorded in Donbas, – ATO HQ On Oct. 15, the illegal armed gangs in the Donbas violated the cease-fire 16 times, wounding two Ukrainian fighters. View news.

Ukraine says 2 wounded in ATO zone in past 24 hours | UNIAN

At the end of the past day, the situation in the area of the Anti-Terrorist Operation remained tense, according to the ATO press center. Latest UNIAN news from 16 October.

Russian officer shoots dead pregnant resident of Luhansk region – Lysenko – 16.10.2017 13:38 — Ukrinform News

A Russian officer has shot dead a pregnant resident of Brianka in Luhansk region, Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Andriy Lysenko has said.

Donbas mercenary Yury Sviridov, call sign Machete, killed pregnant woman on occupied territory

16.10.17 12:28 – Donbas mercenary Yury Sviridov, call sign Machete, killed pregnant woman on occupied territory Commander of the 3rd brigade of the 1st corps of the Russian army in the Donbas Yury Sviridov, call sign Machete, killed a pregnant woman in occupied Donbas. View news.

In Chernihiv, the Ground Forces championship continues to choose the best artillery battery | Flickr

The active actions of the artillery units began yesterday at 03.00 when, at an alarm, two competitive batteries received a tactical task and pushed into designated areas.Recall that the competition will be evaluated in four nominations – tactical, individual fire and fire nomination, special and sports nomination. During the tactical nomination units, in the battery, showed the commissions the ability to coordinate actions, readiness to perform tasks from enemy fire in conditions of modern combat, the use of weapons and military equipment in the artillery unit, etc. Military-fighting and psychological qualities, military fraternity and physical endurance of fighters were also subject to evaluation. The tactical nomination assumes the actions of the units both day and night. Press service of the operational command “North”


На Чернігівщині триває першість Сухопутних військ на кращу артилерійську батарею

На Чернігівщині триває першість Сухопутних військ на кращу артилерійську батарею

UAWire – Ukraine tests new anti-tank missile system

The tests of the new Skif anti-tank guided missile system, which took place both in Ukraine and abroad, in particular, in the ultra-high …

UkrOboronProm unveils model of new MR18 radar can detect stealth aircraft | Defence Blog

State-owned Ukrainian defence manufacturer UkrOboronProm has unveiled its new MR18 high-mobility surveillance metric wave radar during the Arms and Security 2017 exhibition in Kyiv. The new MR18 high-mobility surveillance metric wave radar is developing by Iskra Scientific and Production Complex, a part of UkrOboronProm. The radar is based on a digital phased array and allows to detect Stealth airborne objects. The MR18 high-mobility surveillance metric wave radar is designed to enlarge radar detection field of air defense system. The new MR18 radar system is based on the one chassis of KrAZ high-mobility cross-country truck chassis. BASIC TECHNICAL DATA: Operating frequency range UHF Maximum radar operation limits in range, 400 km Scanning interval, 10, 20 s Clutter suppression, 50 dB Amming cancelling, 20 dB Track throughput, more than 300 Number of transport units 1 Deployment/closing time, 5/3 min The new Ukrainian MR18 radar is capable of detecting and tracking the stealth fifth-generation plane or any other fighter jets or aircraft. Also, MR18 radar can be used in air-defense missile systems, for fighter guidance or for Air Force combat training.

UkrOboronProm unveils new BRDM-NIK armored reconnaissance and patrol vehicle | Defence Blog

The SE “Mykolayiv Armoured Plant”, part of UkrOboronProm, has developed an upgrade package for the BRDM-2 amphibious armoured patrol vehicle, which was originally manufactured at the Gorkovsky Avtomobilny Zavod (GAZ) in Nizhny Novgorod. The upgraded BRDM-2 is designated the BRDM-NIK by SE “Mykolayiv Armoured Plant”, and the enhancements are focused on improving the armor protection of the crew. It differs from the previous versions mostly in a modified configuration of the vehicle’s hull, which makes it possible to install additional types of protection. The BRDM-NIK received the enhanced protection of the frontal zone. According to UkrOboronProm, the BRDM-NIK has a curb weight of 8,200 kg. The vehicle is powered by an FPT IVECO Tector (Euro-3) diesel engine with a power output of 150hp providing a maximum speed of 100 km/h and a cruising range of 1,100km. The vehicle is fitted with the “Falkonet” combat module fitted with a 14,5mm KPVT machine-gun (500 rounds) and one 7,62mm PKT (2000 rounds). In addition, BRDM-NIK is equipped with new digital radios that provide reliable and secure communication.

Ukrainian company unveils new Hortyca-M signals intelligence system | Defence Blog

Ukrainian “Infozahyst” company has unveiled its new mobile signals intelligence system at the Arms and Security exhibition in Kyiv. The new Hortyca-M mobile signals intelligence system is designed for search, detection, determination of ground-based, airborne and marine radio emission system type, operation mode and commodity, positioning and tracking of detected objects by their on-board system emissions. The Hortyca-M mobile signals intelligence system provide: Decoding of digital signals in standards DMR, DPMR, AMR, FLEX, P25, A25, etc; Automatic determination of coordinates and spatial orientation of the systems; Automated determination of the sources of radio emission; Establishing a secure connection with similar complexes by means of a satellite communication channel, wired connection with the connection to the data exchange systems Dnipro, Lavina, Pelena (or with the help of a radio relay communication line); High level of masking; Comfortable work and accommodation of the crew of 4 people. The Hortyca-M provides actionable intelligence, situational understanding, and force protection. It is interoperable on the global signals intelligence enterprise, delivering collected data to common databases for access by the intelligence community. Hortyca-M’s tactical mobility allows supported units to easily reposition its collection capability on the battlefield to support evolving situations. The Hortyca-M system is based on an Italian EuroTrakker chassis. The complex can be powered by an autonomous power supply for 12 hours, as well as from the industrial network.

UkrOboronService unveils new Mobile Mortar Complex at Arms and Security exhibition | Defence Blog

The State Enterprise “UkrOboronService”, part of UkrOboronProm, has unveiled its new UKR-MMC Mobile Mortar Complex at the Arms and Security exhibition in Kyiv, Ukraine. The new UKR-MMC Mobile Mortar Complex (also named “Bars-8MMK”) is a 120 mm mortar carrier based on the Bars-8 multi-purpose armoured vehicle chassis. The advantage of this systems is the ability to relocate not only allows fire support to be provided where it is needed faster but also allows these units to avoid counter-battery fire. High accuracy thanks to its automatic aiming, high firepower (6 shots per minute – manual loading). According to the “UkrOboronService”, the new light mortar system is designed around a battery of six mortar vehicles, a single command-and-control platform, and a supporting logistics vehicle. The UKR-MMC needs 12 seconds to deliver firepower and only 5 seconds to be out of action. This extraordinary capability together with its logistic vehicle appearance makes Alakran a formidable weapon system. The UKR-MMC is integrated into information exchange system on the battlefield, when mobile mortar complex gets the exact coordinates of the enemy in real time. This information can simultaneously come from drones, counterbattery radar, as well as other surveillance systems. This allows the soldiers come out to firing position, open precise fire and leave the position in a matter of minutes. The mortar is mounted at the rear of the vehicle, in fire position the mortar is deployed at the rear of the chassis on a base-plate platform, firing 120mm rounds and sending the recoil energy directly into the ground.

Techimpex develops new ultra-light tactical vehicle | Defence Blog

Ukrainian vehicle manufacturer Techimpex displayed new LTA ultra-light tactical vehicle at the Arms and Security 2017 defence exhibition in Kyiv, Ukraine. The new LTA (Lehkyy Taktychnyy Avtomobil or in English Light Tactical Vehicle) is a new 4×2 off-road vehicle developed by Techimpex with experts of Vinnitsa National Technical University as a private venture. The curb weight of the LTA vehicle is 1270kg. The LTA is powered by a 2,0l, four-stroke 4-cylinder diesel turbocharged engine with a power output of 240 hp, giving the vehicle a cruising range of 570 km and a maximum speed of 130 km/h. The vehicle can be fitted with optional equipment and systems, such as smoke grenade launchers, a remote weapons station, weapon mounts. Also, the LTA can be equipped with a 12,7 mm DShKM (DShKM-T) heavy machine gun; a 7,62 mm PKM machine gun; a 30 mm AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher; or a 40 mm UAG-40 automatic grenade launcher. The vehicle is air transportable by the Mi-8 helicopter or the An-26, An-72 and An-178 cargo aircraft.

Stiletto Systems unveiled improved rifles at Arms and Security 2017 | Defence Blog

Ukrainian-British company Stiletto Systems Limited presented a number of improved small arms system at the Arms and Security 2017 defence exhibition in Kyiv, Ukraine. Stiletto Systems Ltd. is introduced its latest improved series of tactical rifles, which comprise the KSO-2008 sniper rifle and the KO-016 assault rifle. According to Oleksandr Kalachev, one of the founders and chief designer of European company Stiletto Systems Limited, this range of tactical rifles takes the precision and accuracy of its products to a new level. The KO-016 is a modernized version of the Kalashnikov AK47 assault rifle and is a hand-held, mobile, universal weapon with a target range (ground and air) up to 800 meters. The KO-016 design uses the latest technology from Stiletto Systems concerning the barrel, receiver and shutter. Sighting range (depends on the sight) – 800 m Rate of fire – Up to 100 rounds per minute. The range of a direct shot at the chest figure of 0.5 (m) – 350 m The accuracy of the battle of the carbine R 100 at a distance of 100 meters, no more than 2.5 cm. KO-016 assault rifle by Stiletto Systems at the Arms and Security exhibition

Arms and Security exhibition is promoting Ukrainian defence industry to the world market | Defence Blog

Ukrainian defence enterprises of the public and private segments of the defense industry showed the potential of the Ukrainian defence and industrial complex at the Arms and Security exhibition. Around 300 companies from 13 countries were showcased their products in the interests of the security and defense sector at the 14th specialized exhibition Arms and Security 2017 in Kyiv on October 10 through October 13. Among foreign participants are Turkey’s Aselsan and Roketsan, U.S. Night Vision Devices, China’s BACEI, France’s Rockwell Collins France and Ouvry, Poland’s WB Electronics, Israel’s Opgal Optronic Industries, Italy’s CMS Industries, Germany’s Rohde & Shwarz, Pakistan’s DEPO and Heavy Industries Taxila and UAE’s International Armored Group. Leading professional military journalists from JANE’S INFORMATION GROUP (Great Britain), ARMY RECOGNITION (Belgium), AZERI DEFENSE (Azerbaijan), DEFENSE24 (Poland) came to the exhibition for the first time.

Four gunboats of Ukraine Armed Forces tested in Odesa waters. VIDEO

16.10.17 12:59 – Four gunboats of Ukraine Armed Forces tested in Odesa waters. VIDEO Four small armored gun boats of Ukraine’s Navy Force have put to sea on trial. View video news.

Torchlights march participants: What is patriotism for nationalists? – Torchlights march participants: What is patriotism for nationalists? –

Photographer Zoya Shu went to the march to find out why people travelled here hundreds of kilometers and what they put in the concept of patriotism

SBU prevented possible provocation during mass events in Kyiv on Oct. 17. PHOTOS

16.10.17 11:01 – SBU prevented possible provocation during mass events in Kyiv on Oct. 17. PHOTOS The Security Service of Ukraine has prevented an illegal intent to conduct a provocation during mass protest events scheduled for Oct. 17 in Kyiv. View photo news.

Hungary seeks to recognize Ukraine violator of Association Agreement over education law

The passing by the Ukrainian parliament of the latest law on education in terms of language of instruction in schools for national minorities is a brutal violation of human rights, so the issue should be addressed at the next Ukraine-EU Association Council&rsquo;s meeting, according to the Hungarian Foreign Minister, Peter Szijjarto who spoke to journalists ahead of the EU Foreign Affairs Council Monday. News 16 October from UNIAN.

Symon Petliura monument unveiled in Vinnytsia. PHOTOS

16.10.17 09:55 – Symon Petliura monument unveiled in Vinnytsia. PHOTOS The first full-fledged monument to hetman of Ukrainian People’s Republic army Symon Petliura in Ukraine was unveiled in Vinnytsia on Oct. 14, the National Defenders Holiday. View photo news.

Monument to deported Ukrainians opened in Kazakhstan – 16.10.2017 13:55 — Ukrinform News

On October 15, a monument to deported Ukrainians was consecrated in the city of Karaganda, Kazakhstan.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

The Questions Raised By Trump’s Iran Deal Decision – Defense One

The U.S. will stick to the nuclear agreement—for now.

Trump Administration Gambles On Iran Nuclear Deal – Defense One

White House staffers say the president will decertify the 2015 seven-party agreement, introducing uncertainty and worrying arms control watchers.

Iran’s hardliners say Trump has done them ‘great favors’ – CNN

US President Donald Trump’s recent remarks on Iran have infuriated Iranians across the political spectrum, and forced the heavily politicized society to close ranks

Israeli military strikes anti-aircraft battery in Syria amid tensions | Fox News

The Israeli military said on Monday that it struck and destroyed an anti-aircraft battery deep in Syria after it had opened fire on Israeli jets flying over Lebanon — the first such incident of Syrian forces targeting Israeli planes since the civil war began in 2011.

Israel strikes deep in Syria after missile targets Israeli air force planes – Israel News –

Israel updated Russians about attack, army says, adding that Syrian regime responsible for ‘provocation’

Israel targets Syrian anti-aircraft battery that fired at its planes over Lebanon – CNN

Israel’s military says its warplanes struck a Syrian anti-aircraft battery near Damascus on Monday after the battery fired on its planes.

Peshmerga command: Iraqi military attack on Kirkuk is ‘declaration of war’

“Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanded the military incursion. ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Peshmerga General Command has said in a statement that the attack on Kirkuk by the Iranian Quds-backed Iraqi forces and the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi is “a flagrant declaration of war against the nation of Kurdistan,” and warned that the government of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi should pay a “heavy price” for initiating the conflict. It said that the military incursion into the Peshmerga controlled areas in the oil-province of Kirkuk is in retaliation against the right of the people to vote on their fate, a reference to the Kurdish independence vote held last month that saw 92.7 percent of the people voting to leave Iraq. The Peshmerga command also accused some of the Kurdish commanders of the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) whom it said were complicit when the Iraqi forces made rapid advances against the positions of Kurdish security forces, including an oil field and key infrastructure in the province. The PUK has denied the accusations. It continued to say that the Iraqi forces, including the Hashd, used American weapons they received for the war against ISIS. Following is the full text of the statement published by the Peshmerga General Command on Monday afternoon:

Beloved citizens of Kurdistan

Public opinion inside and outside Kurdistan

The Hashd al-Shaabi forces affiliated with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force led by Eqbalpur, in cooperation with Iraqi forces started a broad attack on Kirkuk and its surrounding areas this morning, October 16, 2017. This attack is a flagrant declaration of war against the nation of Kurdistan. This attack, waged by the Iraqi government, Hashd al-Shaabi and forces associated with the Headquarters of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force, is in retaliation against the people of Kurdistan who have asked for freedom. It is revenge against the honorable people of Kirkuk who have shown bravery. Unfortunately, some officials from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) helped this plot against the Kurdistan nation and committed a great and historic treason against Kurdistan and the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for Kurdistan under the PUK flag. These officials have left some sensitive places for the Hashd forces and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards without fighting and have abandoned Mr. Kosrat [Rasul] alone. We declare this to every party that this attack by the Hashd and Iraqi forces was launched by American weapons, armored vehicles, tanks and other coalition weapons. These American weapons have been given to the Iraqi army and Hashd under the name of the war on ISIS. This was done at a time when the Peshmerga, also in the fight against ISIS, were not given necessary weapons to defend themselves against the terrorists. We hereby reassure the people of Kurdistan that Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces is defending bravely with high morale on every front despite having some impurity on the part of some officials and plots by the Iraqi government and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. We also reiterate that it is impossible for the will of the people of Kurdistan to be broken by these plots and also impossible for us to allow the enemies of the people of Kurdistan to succeed. We call upon all the real Peshmerga of the country and the resilient and enemy-defeating people to do all they can to resist and defeat the attackers. The first person responsible for selling this war to the people of Kurdistan is Abadi’s government that should pay a heavy price for this unfairness. General Command of Kurdistan’s Peshmerga Forces

Ankara offers cooperation to Baghdad to end PKK in Iraq

Turkish Foreign Ministry warns regional government in northern Iraq against adding to its ‘grave mistakes’ – Anadolu Agency

Kirkuk: A crisis in waiting, with regional consequences – CNN

Two armies funded and trained by the United States are facing off in Iraq, a confrontation that could have lasting consequences for the country and the region.

The Latest: Iraqi military seizes oil fields near Kirkuk – The Washington Post

The Latest on Iraq, where federal forces have attacked the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk (all times local):

Iraqi forces launch operation for Kurdish-held oil fields, military base – The Washington Post

Iraq’s U.S. trained special forces were part of the advance on Kurdish positions.

Iraqi forces secure strategic airbase in Kirkuk

Move comes as Iraqi government scrambles to take control of areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil – Anadolu Agency

Iraq Seizes Oil Fields as Fighting Flares Over Kurds’ State Push – Bloomberg

LIVE: Iraqi forces, Shiite militia engage in fighting with Peshm

Iraqi forces which include the US-trained Counter Terrorism Service and the Iranian-backed mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi have attacked the Peshmerga-controlled areas south and west of Kirkuk since Sunday midnight, and have since taken control of some key areas, including infrastructure and the K-1 military base near Kirkuk. The Kurdish Peshmerga is still in control of Kirkuk city where reinforcements have been sent. The attack by the Iraqi forces ordered by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is part of the punitive measures taken by Baghdad against Erbil in response to the September 25 independence referendum that saw 92.7 percent of people voting to leave Iraq, despite Iraqi opposition. The following is a live timeline for the unfolding events.

The Latest: State-backed Iraqi militias seen inside Kirkuk – The Washington Post

The Latest on Iraq, where federal forces have attacked the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk (all times local):

The last thing Iraq needs is another war |

The Kirkuk situation is so delicate that any miscalculation can ignite fires that will be very hard to douse. Iraq’s fight against Daesh has been a monumental one, and it is clearly bearing fruit. The terrorists have now lost almost all territory they had seized in the country. This is a time for Iraq to consolidate its gains and turn a new page in its painful history of the past few decades. The Kurds, both in Syria and Iraq, have played a key role in combating Daesh, too. Hence, it is very important that Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) do not get entangled in a potentially disastrous conflict over the future of oil-rich Kirkuk. Kirkuk, a city of more than a million, lies just outside the territory controlled by the KRG. In 2014, when Iraqi security forces collapsed in the face of a full-blown Daesh assault, Kurdish Peshmerga forces deployed there helped prevent a takeover of the city and its oilfields. The Iraqi government wants the Kurdish forces to return the city to Baghdad’s control. In the latest flare-up, Kurdish forces had also taken positions southwest of Kirkuk, but later withdrew. That is an encouraging sign. Iraqi army units continue to assemble around the area. The current tensions must be seen in the context of last month’s independence referendum in Kurdistan. Iraq is an ancient land that has always been a mosaic of various religious, ethnic, and linguistic groups. Its greatness is its unity in diversity.

Thousands of new Rohingya refugees flee violence, hunger in Myanmar to Bangladesh

Hungry, destitute and scared, thousands of new Rohingya refugees crossed the border into Bangladesh from Myanmar early on Monday, Reuters witnesses said, fleeing hunger and attacks by Buddhist mobs that the United Nations has called ethnic cleansing.


U.S. will continue talks with North Korea ‘until the first bomb drops,’ Tillerson says – World – CBC News

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that President Donald Trump had instructed him to continue diplomatic efforts to calm rising tensions with North Korea, saying “those diplomatic efforts will continue until the first bomb drops.”

Haley: North Korea is the ‘whole reason’ for revisiting Iran deal – POLITICO

“What we’re saying now with Iran is don’t let it become the next North Korea.”

Joe Lieberman: “North Korea And Iran Are An Alliance Of Evil Aimed At The United States” | Video | RealClearPolitics

‘United Against Nuclear Iran’ chairman Joe Lieberman joins FNC’s Maria Bartiromo to discuss the president’s choice to leave the Iran nuclear deal up to Congress and the extent to which North Korea and Iran are working together. “I think the president made the right decision, he did it in the right way,” the former Democratic vice presidential candidate said. “He could have withdrawn from the whole thing the other day.” “He basically said to Congress and our allies, and the Iranians, we’re going to pull out of this agreement unless it changes… One, we’re asking the Iranians to agree not to develop nuclear weapons. That was the whole purpose of the sanctions, and the deal only puts a pause, saying that in eight or ten years they can start doing things that will allow you to build nuclear weapons again.” “The Supreme Leader in Iran says he doesn’t want to build nuclear weapons anyway,” Lieberman said. “Let’s make that happen.” “Second, how can you have an agreement you have any trust in on something this important? If you can’t really inspect the military sites where they would be cheating if they were cheating… And this Iranian regime has a bad record of cheating an awful lot on agreements.” “The extent to which Iran and North Korea are working together is the only question. It is not whether they are working together, it is how much they are working together,” he explained. “We know that North Korean designs for intercontinental ballistic missiles have been reflected in the intercontinental ballistic missiles Iran has put up.”

Tense US-North Korea Standoff Slowly Escalates 

Neither side is acting to reduce tensions, as they remain locked in what seems to be a deadly game of brinksmanship

Could North Korea Use Its Russian MiG-29 Fighters to Take Down a U.S. Bomber? | The National Interest Blog

Could Kim take out a B-1?

This Weapon from North Korea Could Kill Up to 90 percent of Americans, Experts Warn Congress | Big Think

U.S. Congress hears expert testimony on a potentially devastating military threat from North Korea.

This North Korean doomsday weapon could kill up to 90% of Americans, experts warn – Mirror Online

The US House of Representatives has been given a stark warning about a potentially deadly strike

The World Once Laughed at North Korean Cyberpower. No More. – The New York Times

While the world is fixated on its nuclear missiles, North Korea has also developed a cyberattack program that is stealing millions and unleashing havoc.

North Korea owes its nukes to the amazing, flexible CNC mill / Boing Boing

Decoding Dress in North Korea – The New York Times

Uniformity may be the rule, but there are signs that personal expression has not been entirely crushed.

‘Mad Dog’ Anti-Trump Leaflets, Suspected Floated in From North Korea, Turn up in Seoul | World News | US News

US News is a recognized leader in college, grad school, hospital, mutual fund, and car rankings. Track elected officials, research health conditions, and find news you can use in politics, business, health, and education.

China’s ruling Communist Party reasserts itself under Xi – The Washington Post

Officials from the Communist Youth League of China felt they had to act: Busy with their education and careers, young Chinese were struggling in the romance department, with tens of millions unable to find partners.

How to Succeed in Business in North Korea | Foreign Policy

How to Succeed in Business in North Korea « | Foreign Policy | the Global Magazine of News and Ideas

North Korea begins journey from feudalism to crony capitalism

Kim’s reforms have led to higher wages and private enterprise — making it harder to pressure the state with sanctions

Capitalism in North Korea: Meet Mr X, one of the new business elite | World news | The Guardian

Capitalism is not meant to exist in the communist country, but since the early 2000s private enterprises have been quietly booming, writes Andrei Lankov

A quiet revolution in North Korea – BBC News

Capitalism seems to be growing in North Korea – quietly, of course.

Inside North Korea’s not so isolated, free-enterprise economy

As Dennis Rodman was scheduled to return to North Korea, hoping to secure the release of a captive American, the NBA star’s trip sheds light on the world’s most totalitarian state, where—surprise!—pockets of capitalism have emerged.

Who owns North Korea’s businesses? | NK News – North Korea News

A couple of years ago, I spoke to a small group of North Korean refugees who described the topography of their native town. Among other things, they mentioned a

Kim Jong-un’s recipe for success: private enterprise and public executions | World news | The Guardian

Reforms have brought record harvests and economic growth, but the leader won’t risk giving North Koreans more personal freedom

How North Korea keeps its economy humming despite the sanctions | South China Morning Post

While a total Chinese shutdown of trade would bring the country to its knees, at the moment it’s not doing too badly, writes Justin Hastings

Foreign Policy Reports

Austria turns sharply to the right in an election shaped by immigration – The Washington Post

Sebastian Kurz, the 31-year-old foreign minister, was positioned to become the next chancellor.

An independent Catalonia? Leader still refusing to reveal intentions – The Washington Post

As the deadline for clarification approaches, Spain could evoke measures to take over Catalonia.

Nicolás Maduro’s Party Defies Polls in Venezuela Election – The New York Times

Allies of the president of Venezuela won a lopsided victory, taking 17 governorships, compared to 5 for the opposition. But some are crying foul.

Strategy / History / Capability Publications

Trump’s Threat to Nuclear Order

If you thought “repeal and replace,” or perhaps, “repeal and not replace,” was only a strategy for the botched Obamacare repeal effort, you’d be wrong. It

The Real Lessons of Vietnam — and Afghanistan – Defense One

As the Trump administration reshapes American strategy, they should look to history for guidance, yet understand that it offers no blueprint.

Army researchers are working on mapping tech that can help you see the battlefield

Army researchers are developing sophisticated battlespace mapping technologies that allow soldiers to predict wave patterns for beach assaults and create instant 3D models of urban areas — with resolution high enough to identify sniper hideouts.

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

Poland says it repelled 3rd Russian hacking attack

Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said Friday the recent attack targeted companies in Ukraine that also have offices in other countries, including Poland.

If Kaspersky Bothers You, So Must Its Rivals – Bloomberg

Anti-virus software is an obvious target for intelligence services; but most consumers have different concerns.

Non-Classified F-35, P-8 Data Stolen In Cyber Breach | Defense content from Aviation Week

F-35 data stolen in Australian hack … but no classified info

The 2016 hacking of an Australian company, which resulted in the theft of data from military programs like the F-35 and P-8 surveillance aircraft, did not compromise any classified information linked to the joint strike fighter.

US Domestic Policy Reports

An ex St. Petersburg ‘troll’ speaks out: Russian independent TV network interviews former troll at the Internet Research Agency — Meduza

One of the many remarkable things about 2017 is that American journalists no longer have the Irish Republican Army in mind when writing “IRA,” which is now used most often to mean the Internet Research Agency — the “troll factory” responsible for buying ads on social media and polluting American online news discussion in an apparent effort to destabilize U.S. democracy. On October 15, the Russian independent news network Dozhd published the latest development in this ongoing story: an interview with a man who allegedly worked for the IRA from 2014-2015. Meduza summarizes that interview here.

Hillary Clinton: ‘Keep an eye on’ Putin – CNNPolitics

Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Russian President Vladimir Putin has notched some victories against the US and issued a warning that he still poses a significant threat.

Wikileaks run by the Russians, says Hillary Clinton | News | The Times & The Sunday Times

Hillary Clinton claimed yesterday that Wikileaks was an arm of Russian intelligence and that a new Cold War was descending on Europe through the weaponising of

Hillary Clinton says Julian Assange colluded with Russia to help Donald Trump win US election – Donald Trump’s America – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Julian Assange launches a personal attack on Hillary Clinton, accusing her of lying and displaying a cold creepiness after the former Democratic presidential candidate tells the ABC the WikiLeaks founder is a tool of Russian intelligence.

Excuses aplenty from not‑so‑humble Hillary | News | The Times & The Sunday Times

It must be a bit embarrassing. Not just missing out on the top job, but losing out to him. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she was “surprised”, “devastated” and “st