Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Russia / Strategy Media Update (340) – 19 October 2017


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Media finally discover the new USN SLCM accurate fuses. Sanctions biting hard. Poland pushes to kill Nordstream 2 legally. Lithuania follows Ukraine publishing KGB records. New missile for Iskander / SS-26 STONE system.

Biggest Russia news is Ksenia Sobchak to stand against Putin in election – she is much smarter than Western media give her credit for, and the daughter of Putin’s former mentor – many allege Putin had him killed. Whitmore is right, the outcome could be unpredictable. Russia to sustain suicidal defense expenditures. More on the ROC and Putin. Eight interesting reports on Russia’s descent.

In Belarus, more reports on Russian kidnapping of Ukrainian teenager. Moldova’s Putinist Pres Dodon tries to effect what in Russophone media is being called a  “soft coup”  against the Parliament.

Chatham House release major report on Ukraine. Wagner PMC involvement in Donbass detailed. Donbass fires escalated. More reports on domestic political turbulence.

Iran a major theme, with multiple reports on Iran’s meddling in Iraq and Syria – a consequence of having the spare cash to do mayhem, thanks to the nuclear deal. Kurdish civilians flee following Shia militia attacks. Rosneft signs oil deal with Kurdistan.

Multiple background reports on DPRK and aerial video footage of Pyongyang. Psych profile of LRM. UK tabloids report LRM threatens PRC with 30 missile launches, likely intended to induce loss of face for Xi at the Beijing CCP congress. Reports from ADEX 2017 in RoK, esp. new TBM. Clueless assassin trial not looking promising for the defendents. Multiple reports on CCP congress.

Lt Gen Deptula, USAF (Ret) interviewed. Saryusz-Wolski critiques Intermarium. JASSM-ER update.

Salvo on Russian influence ops, and cyber reports.

US domestic Russia debate mainly on manipulation of gullible US activists, and exploitation of no less gullible social media giants. Champion on Russian upset over US not mirroring Russian expectations – sow the wind, reap the blowback whirlwind.


Russia / Russophone Reports


The “Super-Fuze”: The Big Upgrade to America’s Nuclear Arsenal That Russia Fears

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA)—which develops and builds America’s nuclear arsenal—has completed production of the U.S. Navy’s Arming Fuzing Subsystem for the W76-1/Mk4A [3] Life Extension Program (LEP) warhead. The new fuze is a key subsystem of the W76-1 LEP [4], which should extend the life of the original warhead from 20 to 60 years. That gives the 39-year-old weapon a new lease on life. However, arms control experts suggest that the refurbished warheads do not just extend the life of those weapons, instead, they substantially enhance the capability of the 100KT W76-1, which is mounted on the U.S. Navy’s Trident II D5 submarine launched ballistic missile. That means the refurbished weapon is highly destabilizing.

Russian Desperation Grows, Spurious Programs Tied Into Threats – To Inform is to Influence

Because of poor editing, in Ole Artyukov’s story, USA knows: If Russia responds to sanctions, she may fall into a toilet, it is unclear who “she” is. Obviously it is supposed to be the US, but Russia is now tieing more and more remote measures to a Russian response to US sanctions. Rocket engines, ISS parts, Boeing orders, other things are being considered, and the Russian language is flailing to tie more things into the repeal of the sanctions. It is also obvious that Russia feels no shame, no fear, and no respect for the measures arrayed against Russia. Their words are written as if the US is their inferior, but, then again, this is typical Russia behavior. It is equally obvious that the sanctions on Russia by the US and the West are having a serious effect. Russia’s threats, in this context, appear more desperate. Perhaps the US should suggest the ISS be pushed into a higher orbit for a decade or two and parked, that might take away a Russian armbar. The solution to most of Russia’s woes is easy: return Crimea and leave Donbas, but Russia refuses to take the easy way out. It would be a death knell for Putin’s legacy. </end editorial/

Poland smashes Nord Stream 2. We reveal legal opinions – BiznesAlert EN

I have previously published Polish government’s documents, that concluded that controversial pipelines from Russia to Germany should be a subject to EU legislation. This may reduce its harmfulness for Central and Eastern Europe markets or even – in case of Nord Stream 2 – block the construction. Poles’ new opinion confirms it – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, BiznesAlert.pl’s editor-in-chief. In the text „Outlaw pipeline. Poland may torpedo Nord Stream 2” from 2015 I described a legal analysis prepared four years earlier for Donald Tusk’s government that clearly states that the existing Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany should be a subject to EU’s legislation despite argumentation of followers of deliveries transport on this route. Beata Szydło’s government prepared a new analyses that states exactly the same. According to Polish lawyers, the Third Energy Package that limits monopolies and could force Russia to change the legislation for the needs of building a new pipeline to Germany, that is Nord Stream 2, applies to investments on Baltic Sea. Poles also suggest a way of applying this law towards Nord Stream 2. Polish lawyers say that the European Union has a right along its member states for jurisdiction in energy fields. The Third Energy Package should be applied directly for sea parts of Nord Stream 2 on territorial waters of EU member states. In this area, lawyers refer to International Court of Justice and the EU Court of Justice legislature. They also confirm that EU jurisdiction extents to exclusive economic zones. On the Baltic Sea, Nord Stream 2 is supposed to be constructed on those. Lawyers give another examples of EU and international legislature. According to them, the member states on whose zone the pipeline will be built, are obliged to guarantee that the investment will be a subject to EU regulations. They admit that the third package does not apply to those parts of Nord Stream 2 that will be outside of EU jurisdiction and in order to change that, extending it outside of the EU would be necessary. Though there is something like exterritorial jurisdiction that allows applying EU law outside of EU jurisdiction if effects of not using it would bring effects on EU territory

UAWire – Lithuania starts publishing KGB communications

The Genocide and Resistance Research Centre of Lithuania began to publish intelligence messages from agents of the KGB Soviet special service, …

UAWire – Russia tests new missile for Iskander complex

The Russian Ministry of Defense reported on the completion of tests of the new missile for the Iskander short-range ballistic missile system, as …

The Daily Vertical: Just A Kremlin Patsy? (Transcript)

So who exactly is playing whom here? The conventional wisdom on Ksenia Sobchak’s decision to run in next year’s presidential elections is as clear as it is cynical. Sobchak cut a deal with the Kremlin and agreed to be the token liberal candidate in exchange for being allowed back on state-controlled television channels. Her candidacy will help legitimize Vladimir Putin’s inevitable coronation by generating excitement and boosting turnout in what everybody understands are stage-managed elections. It also appears designed to neutralize Aleksei Navalny, who will not be allowed on the ballot, but who nonetheless promises to be a factor by campaigning anyway and mocking the fake election from the sidelines. So Sobchak has agreed to be the Kremlin’s patsy, right? Well, not so fast. Because I’m not ready to rule out that she’s playing her own game here — and it is a game that could turn out to be dangerous for the Putin regime. One hint of this came when Sobchak told Dozhd-TV that she was ready to withdraw her candidacy if Navalny were allowed to run. Now, elections in Russia are not about the result, which is pretty much preordained. They’re legitimization rituals. They’re all about the Kremlin putting on a good show and telling a compelling story. Navalny’s virtual campaign from the sidelines was already threatening to spoil the party from the outside. And now by introducing somebody like Sobchak into the equation, somebody who knows a thing or two about putting on a show, the Kremlin may turn out to have been too clever by half. Because, combined with the Navalny factor, the Sobchak factor could end up spinning this thing in unpredictable — and potentially unmanageable — directions. Putin will win, of course. But it may turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory.

The Morning Vertical, October 19, 2017

Ksenia Sobchak’s announcement that she will run for president next year is dominating the conversation among Russia watchers today. On today’s Daily Vertical, I give my initial take, arguing that even if Sobchak’s candidacy is a Kremlin-sanctioned ploy to create the appearance of a legitimate election, it also carries big risks as well. I also don’t rule out that Sobchak is probably playing her own game, even if she did cut a deal with the regime. A few thoughts and data points jump out at me so far. First, by framing her candidacy as a vote “against all” — an option that was actually on the Russian ballot in the 1990s but was removed during Vladimir Putin’s rule — Sobchak is lowering the threshold for claiming a moral victory. She’s, of course, not going to win and she knows it. But Russian elections are about the ritual, the optics, and the story. In her initial campaign video on her website (featured below), Sobchak makes a fairly compelling case for why this matters. Second, by clearly saying that she would drop out of the race if Aleksei Navalny were allowed on the ballot (see video featured below), Sobchak is sending a pretty clear message that she does not want to be used as a foil against the opposition leader and anticorruption activist, who has been barred from running by the Kremlin. Third, the dynamic between Navalny and Sobchak going forward will be fascinating — and very telling — to watch. If they act in tandem — Sobchak on the inside and Navalny on the outside — they could create a powerful force that could — while not threatening Putin’s reelection, which is a foregone conclusion — severely damage the Kremlin’s narrative and undermine the regime’s legitimacy. If they operate at cross purposes, they will play right into the Kremlin’s hands. Next year’s presidential election was already promising to be like nothing we’ve seen in the long Putin era. The rising discontent in society, the rise of a generation yearning for new political “products,” and Navalny’s unauthorized campaign from the sidelines already assured this. Sobchak’s entry into the show makes it even more so. Of course, Putin is going to “win” and the result is preordained. But this election is also about setting the stage for Russia beyond 2018.

Mark Galeotti on Sobchak Candidacy – YouTube

Mark Galeotti Published on Oct 18, 2017 First thoughts on Ksenia Sobchak’s announcement that she is entering the Russian presidential elections

Socialite Ksenia Sobchak Announces Bid for Russian Presidency

Socialite Ksenia Sobchak Announces Bid for Russian Presidency. Russian journalist and socialite Ksenia Sobchak announced on Wednesday she will run in presidential elections next year. Sobchak made the announcement Wednesday on a special episode of her “Sobchak Live” show on opposition-leaning Dozhd TV news channel. The former reality television host is the daughter of Anatoly Sobchak, the first democratically elected mayor of St. Petersburg and the former boss of President Vladimir Putin. She also sent a letter to the daily Vedomosti news site outlining her reasons for running against Putin, who is expected to confirm his candidacy at the Valdai conference Oct. 19, where the Kremlin said he will make “an important announcement.” Sobchak said elections in which prominent opposition leader Alexei Navalny — barred from running over fraud convictions — was not allowed to participate should not be boycotted. “By rejecting the legal and safe but still significant manifestation of our will as participants in controlled, imperfect, even dishonest elections, we do not leave ourselves any out except street resistance,” said Sobchak, adding that protests were not for everyone. History shows that even elections controlled by authoritarian governments “turned into reasons and instruments for authentic democratic changes,” she said. “This always occurred when the opposition took part in elections, and never with its silent non-participation,” she added. Sobchak’s name first surfaced last month when a Kremlin source said she would be an “ideal” candidate to challenge Vladimir Putin in the March 18, 2018, vote. Sobchak then did not deny her potential candidacy in a recent interview with the Russian edition of U.S. fashion magazine Glamour. Sobchak’s presidential ambitions have been well-known, with her friends saying she opted to run in earnest after initially considering it as a part of a political show. The New Times news website preempted her announcement by several hours, citing sources as saying that Sobchak will act as a spoiler candidate for the liberal vote. In exchange for running the spoiler campaign, the news website wrote that Sobchak would be offered to return to state-controlled television or even take the helm at Kremlin-funded RT. It is widely reported that Sobchak had been effectively banned from appearing on federal channels after her participation in 2011-2012 anti-government protests. Her campaign will be staffed by liberal politicians, strategists, experts and journalists, including former and current Dozhd TV colleagues, according to The New Times. The Bell outlet cited two sources as saying that Vitaly Shkliarov, a political consultant who worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign in the 2016 U.S. presidential race will work on Sobchak’s campaign. Shkliarov recently helped two opposition politicians gain an unprecedented number of seats in the Moscow municipal elections.

Russia gets a new candidate for president. Is she serious? – The Washington Post

Ksenia Sobchak is a former protest leader and the daughter of Putin’s political mentor. The Kremlin may see her as a safe protest vote.

Ksenia Sobchak: ‘Russia’s Paris Hilton’ to challenge Vladimir Putin for presidency but risks splitting opposition | The Independent

“The decision is made,” reads the text Ksenia Sobchak is due to deliver on Russian TV. “Enough silence, I’ve thought about it for months … I intend to be the candidate for those who want to vote against everyone.”

TV Star Launches Bid For Russia’s Presidency

Ksenia Sobchak denies accusations that her candidacy is part of a plot to help Vladimir Putin.

Socialite Ksenia Sobchak Announces Candidacy For Russian Presidency

Ksenia Sobchak, the Russian socialite, TV personality, opposition activist, and daughter of a former St. Petersburg mayor, said she will run in Russia’s presidential election in March, a challeng…

Ксения Собчак — кандидат «против всех»

Ксения Собчак — кандидат «против всех» – YouTube

Get ready for the smoke and mirrors of Putin 2018 – The Washington Post

How the Russian leader may be trying to lend a veneer of democracy to next year’s presidential vote.

UAWire – Kremlin: Russia cannot give up current defense spending ‘in present situation’

Russian Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov has stated that Russia cannot give up current defense spending in the present situation, RIA Novosti …

Russia: The Orthodox connection | Russia | Al Jazeera

What lies behind the close relationship between the Russian Orthodox Church and President Vladimir Putin?

Russia’s Economic Lost Chance

We weren’t able to transform the Soviet economy. In the fall of 1992, Russia was just starting on its path of economic transformation. For 75 years, the Soviet Union had built an economic system based on state ownership of production, central planning and fixed prices. Changing the system through minor tweaking, as the Soviet leadership had wanted to do, was impossible. The system had to be destroyed. It seemed easy: “all” they had to do was release price controls and the ruble exchange rate. But the destruction was very painful. Hyperinflation took years to overcome — in fact, Russia got to “normal inflation” (under 5 percent) only in 2016. At the end of the 1980s people thought that the main problem for the market economy would be the lack of specialists. But, although working in a market environment did require different skills and knowledge, as so often happens, you just roll your sleeves up and get down to work — despite your fear. Free market prices and privatization quickly put everything and everyone in their place. On the other hand, a task that seemed easy turned out to be the most difficult and it is still not solved. The Soviet economy was guided by the ideological dogma that it could produce everything it needed. In the early 1990s, it seemed that the Soviet economy had enormous intellectual and technological potential. The doors to international cooperation would open and Russia would become a full-fledged member of the global economy. But that didn’t happen. At first the obstacle was the country’s macro-economic instability — few people wanted to invest in a country with an inflation rate topping 10 percent a month. Then, while Russia conducted long and substance-less negotiations over joining (or to be more precise, not joining) the World Trade Organization, Southeast Asia and then China became magnets for direct foreign investment. Just when the Russian economy entered a phase of rapid growth, the Kremlin decided to strictly limit access to foreign capital. Russia voluntarily stepped off the road to globalization: the share of raw and simply processed materials topped 80 percent of all Russian exports. Finally, the crisis of 2008 hit, bringing down with it the price of oil — and Russian prosperity. When the country recovered, it turned out that the economy didn’t have any drivers. Furthermore, the annexation of Crimea and presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine led to far-reaching economic sanctions against Russia. Oil prices fell even more. The Kremlin’s response to this was, softly put, strange: It isolated the economy even more. In the modern world, economic self-isolation cannot lead to positive results.

UAWire – Kremlin calls 11 foreign organizations ‘undesirable’ in Russia

The Prosecutor General's Office (GPO) of the Russian Federation has recognized 11 foreign organizations on the territory of the Russian …

UAWire – Russia puts together a list of undesirable Western media sources

The Commission of the Russian Federation Council on the Protection of State Sovereignty and the Prevention of Interference in Internal Russian …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin TV Not about Propaganda but about Dehumanizing Its Viewers, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 18 – It is long past time calling “the content of Russia media propaganda,” Igor Yakovenko says. Propaganda is about promoting and spreading an ideology, “a system of ideas concerning the future and ways of achieving them.” But there is no Putinist ideology, and there isn’t going to be any. In an article in Yezhednevny zhurnal, the Russian commentator says that the immediate goal of Putin television is “to cover with dirt the opponents of the regime, foreign and domestic.” That puts it in sharp contrast with Soviet propaganda which despite its hypocrisy and falseness at least had a broader message (ej.ru/?a=note&id=31699). For the hosts of state television programs now, he continues, there is no broader message. Attacking and destroying the reputation of anyone the Kremlin doesn’t like is sufficient because “the goal of Putin television is the establishment of an industry of the de-humanization of the population” by destroying all norms and values. Many opponents of the regime willingly participate in such programs confident that their arguments are stronger and that that will make a difference. In many cases, as Yakovenko documents, they are right about the arguments but wrong about their ability to have an impact given that the hosts don’t want a debate but a show and don’t engage in genuine discussions. “Exceptionally rare are the cases when a second point of view in practice looks justified,” he argues. And consequently, those who do agree to take part in such programs are in fact “helping to achieve the plan of the organizers of these shows, to raise the level of hatred toward enemies of the powers foreign and domestic,” and to belittle anyone who disagrees. As result, “opponents of the powers may speak wisely and even completely convincingly” from the point of view of practice, but that doesn’t matter because that is not why they are invite to take part in shows that are not about propaganda in the usual sense but about the destruction of all decent norms of human behavior.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A ‘Small Color Revolution’ Breaks Out inside Russia – Among the Circassians

Paul Goble Staunton, October 18 – One of the defining characteristics of the Putin years has been Moscow’s fear that someone somewhere will succeed in launching a color revolution within the borders of the Russian Federation and thus undermine or even overthrow the existing regime. Now, a Nezavisimaya gazeta journalist suggests, such a revolution may have started. In an article in today’s edition entitled “The Small ‘Tulip Revolution of the Circassians,” Artur Priymak says that Circassian efforts to defend their holy tree and their anger at official treatment of Ruslan Gvashev who has led that effort have attracted attention “at the highest levels” (ng.ru/events/2017-10-18/11_430_revolution.html). Gvashev points out that Circassians from across the North Caucasus decided to say a prayer in May at a tulip tree in Sochi for their ancestors who fought the Russian advance in tsarist times. But officials weren’t prepared to allow that because the tree is not listed in the kray’s register of holy places. For going ahead anywhere, Gvashev was arrested and charged. He declared and then ended a hunger strike against his mistreatment, Priymak says; and he attracted broad support from Circassians. When officials refused his appeals, the journalist says, “many citizens of Abkhazia were ready as a mark of protest to give up their Russian passports.” Abakhaz officials flew to Moscow and Sochi to discuss the situation and to point out the significance of the tulip tree in Circassian life, according to Abkhaz political scientist David Dasania. He added that as a result, the views of Russian officials had changed and that they will consult more broadly with the Circassians. “Now the Sochi authorities will consult in the first instance with respected Shapsugs [a subgroup of the Circassians] and of course with Ruslan Gvashev,” Dasania says. Others including some in the Adyge Khase organization “will lose status as negotiators” even if they retain their positions in that organization. According to Dasania, what has taken place with Gvashev is entirely the work of local officials and there has not been any “’order’ from Moscow” in his case. The local bureaucrats understood the actions at the tree not as a prayer which they would have had to respect but as a meeting whose participants could be arrested for failing to get approval in advance. So far, the Circassians have not succeeded in convincing the local officials that they are wrong, and consequently, on Monday of this week, the court of first instance left Gvashev’s conviction in place even after a kray court reversed its original finding, something that has clearly outraged the Circassians and created a situation no one in Moscow wants. And while the Russian journalist’s application of the term “tulip revolution” to this series of events may be overblown, it is clearly the case that yet another people has found its voice and a way to use the contradictions within the powers that be to advance its agenda, thus meeting one of the key parts of the definition of a color revolution. This case and this “revolution” are clearly not over.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Is Putin about to Build an Expensive Bridge to a Nowhere He’s Creating?

Paul Goble Staunton, October 18 – Vladimir Putin has announced plans to build a bridge from the mainland to Sakhalin Island, an enormous expensive undertaking; but at the same time, he and his regime are taking ever more money away from that oblast, now one of Russia’s wealthiest, leading to economic decline and population loss. But what is still worse, commentator Lyubov Barabashova writes on the OpenRussia portal, what Putin is doing on Sakhalin, he is also doing with regard to the Kuriles and many other of the country’s most distant regions: he is taking more money from them to make up for the growing deficit in Moscow (openrussia.org/notes/714962/). As a result of the development of oil fields by foreign companies, Sakhalin oblast today “is one of the wealthiest in Russia,” she says; but that is about to come to a screeching half if Moscow goes through with its plans to take 68 billion rubles (1.1 billion US dollars) out of the regional budget over the course of the next three years. As the money came in, the regional authorities invested much of it in subsidies and benefit packages for the population, actions that slowed the outmigration of Russians from the island: In the 25 years after the end of Soviet controls on movement, Sakhalin’s population declined from just over 700,000 residents to 480,000. People are still leaving but at a much slower pace because of the benefits that the regional government has been able to afford up to now. But if Moscow goes through with its plans to cut the amount the region retains or gets back from the center, many fear that outmigration will accelerate creating a security problem for the country. The amount the central government wants to take from Sakhalin’s budget is twice what the island’s authorities spend on social supports for the population, medical care and education. All those programs will have to be cut back, people will suffer, and those who can, the most educated and the youngest, will then leave. Cultural programs are already slated to be cut back and there soon won’t be any money for veterans and pensioners, Barabashova says. People are angry: the residents of Sakhalin have already collected 17,000 signatures on a petition in defense of the existing budget, and regional officials are appealing to Moscow via the Duma. The regional government has not begun to prepare adjusted budgets to take into account the cuts, she says, hoping against hope that Moscow won’t do what it says it will. But the odds are against them in that regard. Perhaps still more important, what Moscow is doing to Sakhalin is echoing elsewhere in Russia, Barabashova says. A representative of another petroleum center, the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, says that if Moscow cuts funds for Sakhalin, “then there is no sense for other regions to work well and earn money.” They will see, the Yamal deputy says, that if people work well, Moscow will simply take everything away from them; and so they will decide that it isn’t worth working well. Better to do nothing and take what crumbs the center will in fact give.

Amnesty Assails Verdict Against Gay Activist, Urges Repeal Of ‘Absurd’ Law

International rights group Amnesty International has urged Russian authorities to abolish their “absurd” legislation used to punish an activist who shared LGBT-related articles on Facebook.

Russian School Director Warns FSB Will ‘Look Into’ 15-Year-Old Navalny Fan

A school official in Russia’s Far East has warned a 9th-grader and his family over his support for opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, the latest incident showing pressure on dissenting voices in sc…


Belarus Reports


‘Quickly Covered Up’: Suspicious Suicides Focus Spotlight On Hazing In Belarusian Army

After complaining about hazing in the Belarusian Army, a young conscript was found hanged, the second such suspicious case in recent months.

Dzmitry Bandarenka: No Lukashenka’s Allies In Belarus – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

The system is visibly falling into pieces.

Belarus still ‘silent’ about circumstances of Hryb’s disappearance – Foreign Ministry – 18.10.2017 17:30 — Ukrinform News

The Ukrainian Embassy in Belarus in late September again asked the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to provide information on the circumstances of the disappearance of Ukrainian citizen Pavlo Hryb in Gomel, due to the absence of any official response from the Belarusian side.&nbsp;

Kyiv lays responsibility for life of detained 19-year-old Ukrainian on Russia

The recent move by the Russian authorities to deny access of Ukrainian doctors to the 19-year-old Ukrainian citizen Pavo Hryb, who is being held in custody in Krasnodar after his abduction from&nbsp;Belarus,&nbsp;makes Russia fully responsible for his life, the Ukrainian foreign ministry stated in a comment on the extension of the teenager&rsquo;s arrest. News 19 October from UNIAN.


Transnistria / Moldova Reports


UAWire – President of Moldova demands dissolution of parliament and transition to presidential form of government

The President of Moldova, Igor Dodon, in a public appeal to citizens, stated the need for early parliamentary elections and an early transition …

Moldova: President Announces Campaign For A Presidential Republic – Stratfor Worldview

In an address to the nation, Moldovan President Igor Dodon announced the start of a nationwide campaign to turn the country into a presidential republic, BBC monitoring reported Oct. 18. Dodon added that the move is warranted because of current constraints to his powers, most recently the Oct. 17 ruling that the prime minister or the speaker has the right to appoint ministers or sign laws if the president rejects them twice. On Oct. 17, Moldova’s Constitutional Court said Dodon could be temporarily suspended from his duties for refusing to swear in the defense minister. In July, Moldova’s Constitutional Court blocked Dodon’s attempt to broaden his presidential powers.


Ukraine Reports


The Struggle for Ukraine | Chatham House

Four years on from its Euromaidan revolution, Ukraine is fighting for survival as an independent and viable state. This report makes the case for increased Western support, and argues the EU has been too timid in applying its unprecedented political mandate to drive forward post-2014 reforms in the country. The report, which includes policy recommendations, assesses Ukraine’s position and prospects, and examines its double existential threat: resisting Russian interference, and the fierce internal contest to determine its own political, institutional and civic future. It states it is an illusion to believe diplomatic formulas alone will diminish Russia’s determination to dominate Ukraine, suggesting the West must work inside and outside international negotiation frameworks, the Normandy Format and Minsk process, to resolve the war between Ukraine and Russia and strengthen European security.‪ The West should provide increased defence assistance and training; funding for the modernization of the Kyiv-controlled parts of Donbas and NATO advisory programmes in the security and law enforcement sectors, it says.‪ The report covers six critical areas: geopolitics and security in the context of the conflict with Russia; European integration and the demands of the Association Agreement; economic reform; governance, democratization and the media; the role of civil society in reforms; and efforts to combat corruption. Summary of findings and policy recommendations

Wagner mercenaries Putin’s private army in Donbas – media

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) recently unveiled a sensational report &ndash; the operation in Crimea, the shooting down of an IL-76 above Luhansk Airport, and the capture of Debaltseve, a crucial railway hub that Russian-separatist forces wrestled from the Ukrainian army in the winter of 2015 &ndash; were all done with the participation of a Russian Private Military Company called Wagner. Wagner is President Putin's private army, used in places where no laws exist, according to Euromaidan Press. Special Forces Colonel Dmytro Utkin – call-sign “Wagner” – is the commander of the mercenary company. In 2016 a photo briefly emerged on the internet in which Utkin appeared together with Russian President Vladimir Putin. All who saw it treated it like proof that Putin has a state army, and his own private army. An army for all circumstances – even a sudden palace rebellion, Euromaidan Press reported. Read also Over 500 Russian mercenaries, who earlier fought in Donbas, now taking part in Syria war Russian journalist Denys Korotkov since 2013 has reported on the Wagner private army, gradually gathering together the terrible truth. Mercenaries in Ukraine were paid 120,000 rubles per month (approximately $2,000 USD). In Syria, Wagner operatives are paid double that. Denys first unveiled personal applications of Wagner operatives, stating that he had nearly 2,000 of such documents. After publishing his investigation on the Saint Petersburg site “Fontanka,” the journalist’s address and other personal information appeared online. He received threats. On October 7, chief of the Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Hrytsak unveiled a sensational investigation into the part Wagner played in the majority of Russian military operations on Ukrainian soil from 2014 to 2015, beginning with the occupation of Crimea. The Wagner company, according to the information provided by the SBU and published by Russian journalists, consists of between 2,000 and 5,000 well-trained professional soldiers, as well as tanks, howitzers, and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems. They train in a special, secret training ground in Rostov Oblast. According to Russian journalists, Dmytro Utkin answers to only one person: the businessman Yevhen Prihozhyn, who is Putin’s restaurateur. Appart from restaurants, Prihozhyn is connected to entities which secured a monopoly on provisions for the Russian army, and also with firms which defend Syrian oil and gas extraction. Prihozhyn takes for himself a quarter of the extracted fuel.

Wagner mercenaries: what we know about Putin’s private army in Donbas -Euromaidan Press |

Stanislav Iasynskyi Russian mercenaries in Ukraine earned RUB 120,000 per month (approximately UAH 55,000, or $2,000) The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) recently unveiled a sensational report – the operation in Crimea, the shooting down of an IL-76 above Luhansk Airport, and the capture of Debaltseve, a crucial railway hub that Russian-separatist forces wrestled from the Ukrainian army in the winter of 2015 – were all done with the participation of a Russian Private Military Company called Wagner. Wagner is President Putin’s private army, used in places where no laws exist.

Militants launched 53 attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas in last day – 19.10.2017 09:30 — Ukrinform News

Russian-backed militants launched 53 attacks on positions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in ATO area in Donbas in last day.&nbsp;

Donbas escalation: Ukraine reports 3 WIAs amid 53 militant attacks in last day

Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 53 times in the past 24 hours, with two Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action (WIA) and one as injured while stepping on an unknown explosive device, according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 19 October from UNIAN.

152 hostages illegally held in ORDLO – spokesperson for Ukraine’s representative in TCG – 19.10.2017 12:25 — Ukrinform News

A total of 152 hostages are illegally held in separate regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions (ORDLO).

The mobile mortar complex Bars-8MMK demonstrated its capabilities at the “Arms and Security 2017”

The mobile mortar complex Bars-8MMK, developed by UKROBORONPROM SE “Ukroboronservice”, demonstrated its capabilities at the international exhibition “Arms and Security 2017”. “Bars-8MMK”, equipped with 120-mm mortar, is intended for ground units fire support under conditions of modern maneuvering war. It takes only 30 seconds to bring the complex to combat readiness condition, and in 20 seconds after the last shot to leave the position. During the exhibition, all components of the complex were demonstrated.

Top EU Court Upholds Sanctions On Ukraine’s Yanukovych

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has upheld sanctions imposed by the European Union on former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his son Oleksandr.

UAWire – Ukraine and Poland prepare joint declaration to guarantee that Polish minority will be able to study in their native language

Ukraine and Poland intend to sign a declaration confirming their commitment to ensure and guarantee the rights of the Polish minority to study …

First mass protest against Poroshenko’s policies after Maidan-2014 – 112 International

October 17, three political oppositions appeared in Ukraine simultaneously

Three demands of the opposition: Is Ukraine’s government ready to fulfill them? – 112 International

The protesters near the Verkhovna Rada demand to create Anti-Corruption court, change the voting system, and remove parliamentary immunity

Anticorruption Protests Continue In Ukraine As Lawmakers Consider Reforms

Ukrainian lawmakers were set to debate reforms as protesters camped outside parliament for a third day demanding the government clamp down on corruption. (RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service)

Ukrainian Parliament Set To Consider Lifting Lawmakers’ Immunity Amid Protests

Ukraine’s parliament is set to consider changes in electoral law and the immunity of lawmakers from prosecution amid demands from protesters camped in front of the legislature to clamp down on co…

Direct Vienna-Kyiv train to be launched on 10 December -Euromaidan Press |

The route of the direct train between the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and the Austrian capital Vienna is already visible online in Austria’s federal railway system Österreichische Bundesbahnen. The first train is expected to depart on 10 December 2017, Hromadske reported. The new train will depart from Kyiv at 14:07, arrive in Lviv at 19:50, and in Vienna – at 11:21 of the next day. The total time of the journey is 22 hours and 14 minutes. On the return route, the train will leave Vienna at 16:42, arrive in Lviv at 10:10, and in Kyiv – at 17:11. The return route will last 23 hours 29 minutes. The connection with Austria was announced in June, when a train connecting Lviv and the Bulgarian city of Varna was launched. As well, the Ukrainian state railway operator Ukrzaliznytsia has routes to Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, Warsaw, and Bucharest, as well as a route between Ukraine’s Kovel and the Polish Chelm.

Five Killed As SUV Plows Into Crowd In Ukraine’s Kharkiv; Extremism Not Suspected

Five people have been killed after a car plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said in a statement that cited traffic-safety violations rather than an extremist…


Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports


Iran’s Ayatollah says Trump is “foul-mouthed” and “pretends to be an idiot” – CNN

In his first comments after Donald Trump said he intended to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, on Wednesday called the US president “foul-mouthed” and someone who “pretends to be an idiot.”

America Has Become Dispensable in Iraq – Defense One

The conflict in Kirkuk offers further evidence of Iran’s steady rise.

Opposing the Nuke Deal is a Sideshow that Distracts from Iran’s Expansionism in Syria and Iraq

Substituting tough talk about JCPOA for hand-wringing about civilian slaughter in Syria is business as usual.

Iraq’s Shiite Militias Are Just Getting Started – Foreign Policy

The Iranian-backed forces that took control of Kirkuk from the Kurds are setting their sights on Baghdad.

100,000 Kurds Flee Kirkuk Since Iraqi Army Takeover: Kurdish Officials | World News | US News

By Raya Jalabi and Maher Chmaytelli ERBIL/BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) – About 100,000 Kurds have fled Kirkuk for fear of sectarian reprisals since Iraqi government forces took over the city after a Kurdish independence referendum condemned by Baghdad, regional Kurdish officials said on Thursday. Baghdad’s forces swept into the multi-ethnic city of more than 1 million people, hub of a major oil-producing area, largely unopposed on Monday after most Kurdish Peshmerga forces withdrew rather than fight.

Anfal survivor: My house set on fire following Iraq’s takeover of Kirkuk

I used to live in a small house in Khurmatu. They destroyed it and burned it

US urges UN to adopt Trump’s comprehensive approach to Iran – The Washington Post

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to adopt the Trump administration’s comprehensive approach to Iran and address all aspects of its “destructive conduct” — not just the 2015 nuclear deal.

U.S. Urges UN Council To Address Iran’s ‘Destabilizing’ Conduct In Middle East

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the UN Security Council on October 18 to follow the United States’ example and address what she called Iran’s “destructive conduct” in the Middle East rather than …

U.S. Pushes For Quick UN Vote On Syrian Gas-Attack Inspections, Defying Russia

The United States is pushing for a quick vote by the United Nations Security Council on extending the authority of an inspection team charged with determining who is responsible for chemical weapon…

Russian Oil Giant Rosneft Says Signs Production Deal With Iraq’s Kurdistan Region

Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft says it has signed a production-sharing agreement with Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region worth up to $400 million.

UAWire – Syria invites Russia to build railway to Palmyra deposits

During a bilateral meeting of Syrian and Russian diplomats and officials which took place last week in Sochi as part of the Syrian-Russian …

Struggle Over Kirkuk Puts the U.S. and Iran on the Same Side – The New York Times

Kurdish and Iraqi forces, both armed by the Americans, fought each other in Kirkuk. Analysts think Iran played a key role in the dispute’s resolution.


DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports


United States prepares for the worst with North Korea | New York Post

The Trump administration has not ruled out direct talks with North Korea but the United States and its allies must be “prepared for the worst” if…

North Korea: U.S., Japan and South Korean diplomats meet in Seoul

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan said Washington views diplomacy as the primary means for solving the crisis.

Remarks on “Defining Our Relationship with India for the Next Century”

Rex W. Tillerson Secretary of State John J. Hamre, CEO for the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Center for Strategic & International Studies Washington, DC October 18, 2017 SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, thank you so much, John, and it is a real pleasure to be back in the building. And I was asking John if the building was meeting all the expectations that we had when this project was undertaken, and I see so many faces in the room that were a big part of bringing this to a reality. I think he told me there’s four simultaneous events going on today, and I said, “Perfect. That’s exactly what we had in mind.” So I also want to thank many of you in the room for the 11 years, great years I had serving on the board of trustees here, and your mentorship of me. And I learned so much during the time I was here in those engagements. And I thank John for his friendship. He was a dear friend throughout that time. And it really has been important to my ability to do what I’ve been asked to do to serve the country. So again, it is a real pleasure to be here, and thankful for the opportunity to be back in this building.

Tillerson Knocks China, Courts India Ahead of South Asia Trip – Foreign Policy

Tough words for “One Belt, One Road” and praise for a deepening defense partnership.

Tillerson Hails Ties With India, but Criticizes China and Pakistan – The New York Times

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson called for warmer ties with India while sharply criticizing China and urging Pakistan to do more against terrorism.

Trump White House debates presidential visit to demilitarized zone along North Korean border – The Washington Post

South Korea and the U.S. State Department are concerned that a Trump trip to ‘freedom’s frontier’ could escalate tensions with dictator Kim Jong Un

The Party Roundup: Preliminary Look at North Korea’s October 7 Central Committee Plenum | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

The 7th Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee held its second plenary meeting on October 7, 2017. Although the gathering had no major policy implications, it was most likely the DPRK’s most significant domestic political event in 2017 because of a series of notable personnel appointments to the WPK’s power organizations and to the Central Committee itself. The most significant changes were the elevation of economic officials to more influential positions in the party hierarchy, demonstrating Kim Jong Un’s commitment to economic development. It is also significant that the status of the new North Korean Foreign Minister, has been elevated within the party structure, giving him a more direct role in key decision-making bodies.

Let’s Walk This Through: If North Korea Launches An ICBM, Then… – Defense One

It takes a lot of rosy assumptions to get to President Trump’s 97% chance of success.

Armageddon by Accident – Foreign Policy

Trump and Kim’s brinkmanship raises the danger of an accidental conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea news: Kim Jong-un ready to fire ’30 missiles’ towards China TONIGHT | Daily Star

NORTH Korea are feared to be on the brink of a major missile test within hours in a show of force against their old-ally China.

Kim Jong-un’s Political Psychology Profile | The Diplomat

Insights from Ken Dekleva. Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. Kenneth Dekleva – Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Director, Psychiatry Medicine Integration, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas; formerly Regional Medical Officer/Psychiatrist with the U.S. Dept. of State from 2002-2016; and author of published political psychology/leadership profiles of Radovan Karadzic, Slobodan Milosevic, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, and Kim Jong Il – is the 111th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.” The views expressed in this interview are entirely Dr. Dekleva’s own and do not represent the official views of the U.S. Government, U.S. Dept. of State, or UT Southwestern Medical Center.

North Korea Military Capability Knowns and Unknowns | National Review

We are in the middle, not at the end, of a long North Korean crisis …

North Korea is Building a Bigger, Better Missile Submarine

The Sinpo-C class will bring Pyongyang’s nukes to sea.

Just Remember North Korea Can Destroy Low Earth Orbit For Everyone On A Whim – The Drive

Kim Jong Un could use his ballistic missiles to create clouds of orbital debris, destroying US and allied military satellites and much, much more.

A Look At The Parallels Between U.S. Relations With North Korea And Iraq : NPR

NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Charles Duelfer, who led the Iraq Survey Group, about parallels between Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush’s assumptions about each other, and Kim Jong Un and Trump’s.

North Korea’s cyber-army should worry us all – The Washington Post

Americans think technological superiority works to our benefit. The opposite may be true.

North Koreans are taught that Americans are hairy wolves, defectors tell the BBC

Official site of The Week Magazine, offering commentary and analysis of the day’s breaking news and current events as well as arts, entertainment, people and gossip, and political cartoons.

ADEX 2017: Hanwha debuts KTSSM missile, known as artillery killer | Defence Blog

South Korea’s Hanwha Systems displayed its new tactical surface-to-surface missile, called KTSSM and known as artillery killer. The Korea Tactical Surface-to-Surface Missile (KTSSM) is a new type of ballistic guided weapon system. The missile has a range of over 120 kilometres. The tactical ground-guided weapon, which was first publicly released this time, has four missiles in one fixed launch pad. Four missiles are launched in succession. It is regarded as a powerful weapon system capable of neutralizing the enemy ‘s gunfire in the shortest time in the emergency. The KTSSM can penetrate underground targets with its powerful warhead. The new missiles can provide South Korea’s military with the capacity to destroy hardened artillery sites equipped with hundreds of long-range guns.

South Korea unveils new Bigung missile systems at ADEX 2017 | Defence Blog

LIG Nex1 has unveiled the new short-range guided missile system at the ADEX 2017, Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition. The Bigung is a new South Korea’s short-range guided missile system based on a high-mobility cross-country chassis. The 70-millimeter guided missile Bigung have weighs 15 kilograms and is 1.9 meters long. The Bigung is essentially a mobile coastal defense system. The main task of the Bigung missile complex is the fight against various combat and landing craft and landing vehicles of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (abbreviated DPRK), and first of all with airborne landing boats being built in the DPRK in series. Bigung, which means flying arrow, can be mounted on a truck, it is very mobile and much more versatile and potent compared to coastal artillery used by troops at present. If fully loaded, a truck-mounted launcher can fire up to 40 missiles at once, the official explained. Each Bigung system is capable of engaging multiple LCACs, with the missiles able to independently track and strike different targets, he said. The military began the Bigung development project in 2010 when tensions on the Korean Peninsula escalated following the North’s deadly shelling of Yeongpyeong Island and torpedo attack on the South’s Cheonan corvette, which claimed the lives of 46 sailors on board.

Japanese People Don’t Want Nukes Despite North Korea’s Threats – NBC News

Japan remains steadfast in its opposition to nuclear weapons despite threats made by Kim Jong Un and the country’s proximity to North Korea.

‘Nowhere to Hide’: North Korean Missiles Spur Anxiety in Japan Fishing Town | World News | US News

By Malcolm Foster ERIMO, Japan (Reuters) – Ever since North Korea lobbed two missiles far above this windswept fishing town on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, seaweed farmer Mitsuyo Kawamura says she’s been on edge. “Now when I hear a loud sound, I look outside, I look out at the ocean,” 68-year-old Kawamura said from her seaside cottage in Erimo, where she lays out long dark strands of kombu seaweed on stones to dry in the sun. “I feel anxious, like I never know when it will come again.” As Japan prepares to vote in Sunday’s national election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called North Korea’s escalating threats — it also conducted a sixth nuclear test last month — a “national crisis” that only he can lead Japan through. Yet the missiles that flew over Erimo on Aug. 29 and Sept. 15 created an eerie threat: No one saw or heard them. They streaked by several hundred kilometers above land, too high to see with the naked eye, before splashing into the Pacific more than 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) to the east.

World’s First Aerial 360 Video Over North Korea 2017 – YouTube

nknewsorg Published on Oct 18, 2017 Read about this photographer’s experience filming the world’s first 360 aerial video of Pyongyang: https://www.nknews.org/gallery/come-f… Ever wondered what North Korea looks like from above? Singaporean photographer Aram Pan flew over the North Korean capital with a 360 camera attached to the bottom of a microplane. Navigate the streets and landmarks of Pyongyang from this never-before-seen angle, in this exclusive 360 video. You can also check out our newly launched Holiday Shop for North Korea-inspired merchandise! We have t-shirts, mugs, towels and calendars featuring iconic North Korean landmarks, sanctioned North Korean banks, and more!

From the skies, the North Korean capital looks just like the Potemkin village the Kim regime wants it to be – The Washington Post

A 360-degree video shot from a plane offers sweeping views over the showcase North Korean capital, except for the parts you’re not allowed to see.

First ever 360-degree aerial video of Pyongyang shows North Korea’s bizarre capital like never before | Business Insider

A photographer took a 360-degree aerial video…

VIDEO: Flyover of North Korea’s capital city is surprisingly colourful

So many colours.

The women who killed Kim Jong Un’s half-brother say they thought it was just a TV show prank — but new details seem to show they were in on the plot | Business Insider

New details presented by the prosecution in the…

Evidence presented in Kim Jong Nam death case doesn’t ruffle defence | CTV News

Evidence has accumulated against the two suspects in the murder of the half-brother of North Korea’s leader in the first two weeks of their trial.

Malaysia gives Pyongyang a pass on Kim Jong-nam murder | Asia Times

Ongoing trial of two women accused of killing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s half-brother will ultimately not convict the assassination’s true plotters

After the Party Congress, Will Xi Jinping Finally Get Tough on North Korea? | Council on Foreign Relations

The importance of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th party congress to the future of Xi Jinping’s leadership and the direction of China has paralyzed…

China’s conflicted goals: Freer markets, more party control – The Washington Post

China’s ruling Communist Party is expanding its role in business even as it promises freer markets and support for entrepreneurs on the eve of President Xi Jinping’s second five-year term as leader.

One Nation Under Xi Jinping – WSJ

Ever since China buried Mao Zedong four decades ago, conventional wisdom held that subsequent Communist Party leaders would grow weaker with each generation. President Xi Jinping has shattered that thinking.

Xi Jinping celebrates China’s rising power — and his own | PBS NewsHour

President Xi Jinping opened China’s twice-per decade Communist Party Congress on Wednesday hailing the reforms he put in place during his first five-year term and sharing his vision for where he hopes to take the nation. William Brangham reports on the congress as it prepares to announce Xi’s successor and how new leadership may transform China’s role as a global economic partner.

5 Years Ago, China’s Xi Jinping Was Largely Unknown. Now He’s Poised To Reshape China : Parallels : NPR

China’s president has embraced a strongman style of personal rule. The 19th Communist Party Congress, now underway in Beijing, is expected to strengthen his ability to bend the system to his will.

Xi Jinping Cracking Down on Golf Courses, Other Luxuries Ahead of His ‘Re-Election’ | The Weekly Standard

Donald Trump may have played golf with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe earlier this year, but when Chinese president Xi Jinping made his own visit to Mar-a-Lago, a visit to the links was decidedly not on the agenda. The Chinese dictator has taken aim at golf. In January, 111 Chinese courses were shuttered, with the government citing the misuse of arable land and the need for water conservation as justification. (There were only about 700 golf across China’s 3.7 million square mile area before the crackdown began.) Now, two courses owned by the Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda have been closed.

China’s Plan to Buy Influence and Undermine Democracy – The Atlantic

By lavishing infrastructure dollars on illiberal governments, Beijing is supplanting American soft power.

Xi Jinping Presses Military Overhaul, and Two Generals Disappear – The New York Times

Ahead of a Communist Party congress that will install a new generation of military leaders, China’s president moves to cement his influence and make changes.

China Is Quietly Reshaping the World – Defense One

The staggering scope of the country’s infrastructure initiative—and what it means for the international order.

China’s War Timing Firming Up

Part of Obama’s baleful legacy is that during the Scarborough Shoal Incident of April to June 2012, the Filipino president travelled to Washington to ask Obama for U.S. support. Obama didn’t offer support, no operational support followed and China read that as the signal to seize territory from a U.S. ally. As is the usual pattern, the consequence of not dealing forcefully against a minor aggression will lead to a much bigger war down the track. The Chinese leader that organised the seizure of Scarborough Shoal, Xi Jinping, became a national hero and that gave him the political momentum to see off rivals to become president of the People’s Republic of China the following year. As retired U.S. Navy captain James Fanell noted, while in the West the Scarborough seizure was treated as a minor fisheries dispute, Chinese scholars recognized the significance of Xi’s template for mooting U.S. alliances by undercutting confidence in defense agreements, calling it the ‘Scarborough Model’.

Why Mao’s Cultural Revolution still haunts Xi Jinping’s China – RN – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Xi Jinping’s uneasy relationship with Mao’s legacy, and the Communist Party’s fear of a repeat of the Cultural Revolution help to explain the President’s authoritarian stance, writes Antony Funnell.


Foreign Policy Reports


Anti-Fake News Center Doesn’t Czech

The Czech government is on the defensive over its efforts to combat Russian disinformation before this weekend’s elections.

The group of the Members of the Parliament of Europe from the Czech Republic addressed a letter to the president of country Milos Zeman – Czech MPs urge Zeman to apologize to Ukraine – 112.international

Czech MPs urge Zeman to apologize to Ukraine

Spain Sets Stage to Take Control of Catalonia in Independence Fight – The New York Times

Carles Puigdemont said in a letter to the Spanish prime minister that the regional Parliament could vote to break away if Madrid tried to take administrative control.

Spain threatens to take over Catalonia’s government as constitutional crisis looms – The Washington Post

The Catalan president won’t clarify independence plans and urges more dialogue with an increasingly impatient Madrid.

Spain Moves To Strip Catalonia’s Autonomy After Secession Showdown : The Two-Way : NPR

Spain said it would invoke a constitutional clause allowing it to impose direct rule over semi-autonomous Catalonia after the region’s leader refused to categorically renounce independence.


Strategy / History / Capability Publications


OTH Interview of Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (Ret): Part 1 – Over the Horizon

OTH Interviewers: Maj Jerry “Marvin” Gay, Maj Jay Patrich, Maj Sean Atkins, Maj Marcus McNabb Editor’s note: This is the first article in a two-part interview of Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (Ret). In the first part, Lt Gen Deptula, currently Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, shares his insightful perspective on current and future challenges for Air Force and broader Joint Force leaders. In the second part of the interview to be published separately, Lt Gen Deptula will share his views on the combat cloud, data analytics, command and control, and several other topics related to the future of warfare. Over the Horizon (OTH): Over the Horizon is excited and quite fortunate to have with us today Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Lt Gen David Deptula. Sir, first and foremost, thank you for your time. The OTH team appreciates your willingness to speak with us today on the challenges facing our nation and their implications for the Joint Force.

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski | In Between Security Arrangements: The Trojan Horse of Military Intermarium

“Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; who rules the World-Island commands the world.” Every sch

Blocking resolution: How external states can prolong civil warsJournal of Peace Research – David E. Cunningham, 2010

Abstract What explains the effect of external intervention on the duration of civil war? The literature on intervention has made some progress in addressing this question, but it has been hindered by an assumption that states intervene in civil wars either to help one side win or to facilitate negotiations. Often, however, external states become involved in civil war to pursue an agenda which is separate from the goals of the internal combatants. When states intervene in this fashion, they make wars more difficult to resolve for two reasons. First, doing so introduces another actor that must approve any settlement to end the war. Second, external states generally have less incentive to negotiate than internal actors because they bear lower costs of fighting and they can anticipate gaining less benefit from negotiation than domestic insurgents. Through Cox regressions using data on the goals of all interventions in civil wars since World War II, this article shows that when states intervene with an independent agenda, they make wars substantially longer. The effect of independent interventions is much larger than that of external interventions generally, suggesting that the established finding that external interventions prolong civil war is driven by a subset of cases where states have intervened in conflicts to pursue independent goals.

More Fighters, Bombers Receiving Jassm-ER Cruise Missile | AWIN_Defense content from Aviation Week

The Lockheed Martin F-16, Boeing B-52 and Northrop Grumman B-2 are next in line to receive the U.S. Air Force’s newest non-nuclear cruise missile, the Jassm-ER.

Stealthy Super Hornet In Cards As Boeing Plans Major Overhaul | Defense content from Aviation Week

As the U.S. Navy’s Super Hornets reach the end of their planned service life, Boeing is eyeing an exhaustive overhaul that will involve structural upgrades and potentially a new stealth coating to keep the F/A-18Es and Fs relevant well into the future. Boeing hopes to induct the first Super Hornet into a planned service life modification (SLM) program in April 2018, Mark Sears, the company’s SLM director, told Aviation Week Oct. 17. Once on contract, Boeing will begin the work necessary to extend the life of each aircraft from its 6,000-flight-hour limit by another 3,000 hr. The work primarily will focus on structural upgrades to the airframe and certain subsystems, but also could include capability enhancements to bring the older aircraft up to the newest Block III standard, Sears said. One option is a new low-observable (LO) coating and radar-absorbent material (RAM) improvements in certain locations on the aircraft to increase its stealth, Sears said. “There are various degrees of LO enhancement,” Sears said of the upgrade. “We’ve played within that spectrum, but there’s certainly an LO piece of Block III.” It is not clear just how stealthy the newest Block III Super Hornets that roll off the production line in 2020 will be compared to the fleet’s primary stealth fighters, Lockheed Martin’s F-22 and F-35. The Navy funded “advanced signature enhancements” in its fiscal 2018 budget request, but Boeing has said the Block III upgrade is not primarily focused on LO. “At some point we drew a line that would allow us to be stealthy enough in a balanced survivable way to be effective, and that is what we think we have,” said Dan Gillian, Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18 program manager. “The F-35 is a stealthier airplane, but we have a balanced approach to survivability, including electronic warfare and self-protection.”

Finnish M62 Camouflage Effectiveness – YouTube

In this video we look at the effectiveness of Finnish M62 camouflage pattern. One thing to note about this pattern is that there were several different shades of the pattern produced for the Finnish armed forces. Trying to find a “matching” jacket and trousers can be a challenge. With that being said, we will be testing this Camouflage in a Woodland Environment during Summer time (North Texas woods). This video will consist of numerous scenes where each will begin with a concealed stationary position (both with & without the use of vegetation), followed by a movement phase out of the initial position. The purpose of the video is to give the viewer a chance to see the individual camouflage pattern and how it looks and blends into this environment. There will be varying degrees of how much of the uniform will be exposed to the viewer. Some scenes will only expose little more than perhaps a boonie hat, while other scenes will have virtually no vegetation covering.

‘Death Island’: Britain’s ‘concentration camp’ in Russia – BBC News

British soldiers opened the first concentration camp in Russia in 1918, during World War One. To locals it was known as “Death Island”.

Unnerving Historical Photos That Will Leave You Speechless

If “A picture speaks a 1,000 words,” these photos speak volumes and capture history’s most famous faces in places that you’ve likely never seen them before.


IW/IO/Cyber Reports


The Active Measures Orchestra: An Examination of Russian Influence Operations Abroad – To Inform is to Influence

October 10, 2017 By David Salvo Resident Fellow, Alliance for Securing Democracy “The approaches used by Moscow include control of the press in foreign countries; outright and partial forgery of documents; use of rumors, insinuation, altered facts, and lies; use of international and local front organizations; clandestine operation of radio stations; exploitation of a nation’s academic, political, economic, and media figures as collaborators to influence policies of the nation.”

Hackers Stole Information on Windows Vulnerabilities from Microsoft in 2013 – Nextgov.com

The theft occurred amid a string of attacks on other big tech companies like Apple and Facebook.

DHS issues mandate for agencies to beef up their email, web security

DHS plans for agencies to adopt email and web security standards akin to ones found in the private sector, specifically when it comes to phishing emails, spam minimization and the protection of the confidentiality and integrity of internet delivered data.

Blockchains: How They Work and Why They’ll Change the World – IEEE Spectrum

The technology behind Bitcoin could touch every transaction you ever make


US Domestic Policy Reports


Marc Champion | America’s Unpredictability Is Worrying Russia – Bloomberg

Russia may have got what it wished for with the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, but almost a year later Moscow’s foreign policy community shows more signs of alarm than triumph.

In attempt to sow fear, Russian trolls paid for self-defense classes for African Americans – Oct. 18, 2017

A group linked to a Russian troll farm paid personal trainers across the U.S. to run self-defense classes for African Americans in an apparent attempt to stoke fear — and gather Americans’ contact details.

Russian internet trolls sought to co-opt unwitting American activists – ABC News

From their desks in St. Petersburg, Russian Internet trolls at a company with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to co-opt American civil rights activists.

Russia Deceived Black Activists Into Aiding Their Election Interference Scheme | Gizmodo Australia

A landmark investigation from Russian news outlet RBC uncovered a Kremlin-sponsored scheme that used Facebook to recruit black activists in the US as…

How the Russians pretended to be Texans and Texans believed them  | Commentary | Dallas News

In early 2016, while researching some of the most popular U.S. secession groups online, I stumbled across one of the Russian-controlled Facebook…

Twitter Was Warned Repeatedly About This Fake Account Run By A Russian Troll Farm And Refused To Take It Down

The account was one of hundreds created by Russia’s Internet Research Agency and drew 136,000 followers by tweeting divisive messages in the name of the Tennessee Republican Party.

Facebook’s General Counsel to Testify to Congress in Russia Probe – NBC News

Google and Twitter executives are also expected to testify before the House and Senate intelligence committees on Nov. 1.

Facebook admits Russia agents used Messenger to disrupt U.S. presidential election – Recode

That’s according to David Marcus, Facebook’s messaging VP.

New bill on election meddling aims to increase ad transparency from social media – To Inform is to Influence

BY ALI BRELAND – 10/18/17 02:53 PM EDT Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Mark Warner (Va.) will unveil legislation on Thursday aimed at preventing foreign election interference by increasing digital ad transparency. Their new bill, called the Honest Ads Act, would make political ads on social media subject to the same transparency and disclosure laws as TV and radio ads. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who helped co-write the legislation, is the first Republican to sign on as a co-sponsor. In a release from Warner and Klobuchar’s offices, the lawmakers blamed a lack of ad disclosure laws on social media as a contributing factor in how Russian actors may have taken advantage of the platforms. Since Facebook revealed that a Kremlin-linked group purchased $100,000 worth of ads around the time of the 2016 election, Warner and Klobuchar have floated revised Federal Election Commission regulations that would force social media companies like Facebook and Twitter to disclose who is buying political ads on their platforms.

Senator Seeks Probe Into Russian Bribery Plot Before Obama Inked Nuclear Deal With Putin

Senators are expected to grill Attorney General Jeff Sessions today.

Trump Campaign Staffers Pushed Russian Propaganda Days Before the Election

Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr. pushed messages from an account operated from Russia’s ‘troll farm’—including allegations of voter fraud a week before Election Day.

U.S. Attorney General Says He Answered Russia-Related Questions ‘Honestly’

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions insisted he answered truthfully when he earlier said that he had no contacts with “anyone connected to the Russian government” about the 2016 U.S. presidential e…

Trump-Russia ‘Golden Shower’ Dossier Firm Officials Refuse to Testify About Who Financed Salacious Report

Fusion GPS has accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes of an “abuse of power.”

Grassley probes Clinton ‘conflicts of interest’ amid new questions in Russia uranium deal | Fox News

A top Senate Republican is probing potential “conflicts of interest” for Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration regarding the 2010 approval of a controversial uranium deal with a Russian company, amid new details about donations from “interested parties” and an FBI corruption probe involving employees of the same Russian firm.

Hillary Clinton: Trump North Korea threats ‘dangerous,’ ‘short-sighted’ – Business Insider

Hillary Clinton also called on China to take a “more out-front role” in enforcing sanctions against North Korea aimed at curbing missile and nuclear…

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