Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (1) – 20 October 2017

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Plokhy makes a good point, not that Muscovy will pay any attention, the relationship is so damaged now it could take several generations to normalise, when Ukrainians describe it as “Eternal War”. COCW Award today go to the Kremlin leadership for some truly bizarre alternate reality statements. Rezchikov comments on the Potemkin Village of Kaliningrad’s defenses.

Sobchak criticised for ostensibly legitimising a sham election in a quid-pro-quo deal, whether this is true remains to be seen. FP on Russia’s demographic collapse, which is not the result of sanctions, but not helped by sanctions and brain drain. Inozemtsev ever the optimist. Bayramova spells out the russification game of Muscovy, in many ways a return to failed Tsarist era thinking. Other miscellaneous reports on the descent into the abyss.

Zapad precipitates further toxicity between Muscovy and Minsk. In Moldova, Constitutional Court seeks to bypass Putinist Pres Dodon.

Russia again plays to intimidate Ukraine with a Sinkex involving a decommissioned missile boat and an AV-MF Su-30SM FLANKER H. Whitmore on the evolution of Ukrainian politics. Donbass fires continue. Biletsky complains Azov Regiment withdrawn to appease Putin. Ukraine to soon receive forty medevac Humvees.

More posturing by Iran. Israel backs Kurds. More on Afghanistan.

Cowen makes a good point on DPRK agendas – LRM is in many ways a medieval potentate. Russia promotes DPRK agenda. US MSM convince public that ISIS and DPRK present bigger risks than Russia. More DPRK nuclear strike threats. Silberstein on DPRK food security. China’s superpower ambitions declared – 25 years after the military retooling program was launched. China declares IOC on J-20 stealth fighter.

Nordtream 2, Russian meddling in the Philippines, and Catalonia.

Stimson Center on submarine warfare in Southern Asia, and Mitchell Inst on CAS.

Amb Haley equates Russian cyber – interference in American elections to  “Warfare”, which it is, and when riots are organised, could qualify as kinetic. Domestic Russia debate continues ….

Russia / Russophone Reports

What should Putin do about the war in Ukraine? Learn from Lenin | Serhii Plokhy | Opinion | The Guardian

As the revolution’s centenary nears, Russia must accept that its neighbour is an independent nation, writes Serhii Plokhy, author of Lost Kingdom: A History of Russian Nationalism

Putin Vows ‘Immediate and Symmetrical’ Response If U.S. Withdraws From Cold War Arms Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow will respond “immediately and symmetrically” if the United States withdraws from a key Cold War arms-control treaty.

Putin Accuses U.S. Of Military Buildup In Baltics, But Says ‘It Doesn’t Worry Us’

President Vladimir Putin has accused the United States of building up military forces in the Baltics, but said that it wasn’t something of concern to Moscow.

Vladimir Putin Says He Fears ‘Srebrenica-like’ Massacre in Ukraine

Russia has long been accused of sending support for insurgents in Ukraine via the porous border.

UPDATE 1-Washington ‘trying to squeeze Russian gas out of Europe’: Putin

President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Thursday of trying to squeeze Russia out of European energy markets, saying the latest round of U.S. sanctions was designed to force Europe to buy U.S.liquefied natural gas instead.

Russia’s Lavrov Pessimistic About Bilateral Security Talks With U.S.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the world should not expect “considerable results in the foreseeable future” from strategic stability talks between Russia and the United States.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Faces Enormous Obstacles in Restoring Kaliningrad as a Military Outpost

Paul Goble Staunton, October 19 – The presence of NATO forces in the Baltic Sea region has sparked discussions about the need to restore Russia’s military capacity in Kaliningrad, but “to restore what Russia itself for decades has destroyed will require enormous efforts,” possibly more than Moscow can currently afford, according to Andrey Rezchikov. In Moscow’s Vzglyad today, the Russian analyst says that Western officials have long talked about Russia’s “militarization of Kaliningrad,” talk that reached a crescendo during the recent Zapad-2017 exercises and that has been used to justify the presence of NATO forces in the region ( “In reality,” Rezchikov continues, “Russian forces in the region” are far fewer than NATO’s in the same theater and vastly fewer than they were in the early 1990s. At that time, for example, there were 32 submarines in the Baltic Fleet; now, there are “only two” remaining. There were then 90,000 Russian soldiers; now, there are a total of 11,600. And almost 900 tanks were withdrawn in 2008 alone. According to the newspaper’s sources, in the early years of this century, the relationship of forces between NATO and Russia was 21 to 1 in the Western alliance’s favor. By the middle of the first decade, it has become 32 to 1 in favor of NATO. With the arrival of NATO forces in the region this year, the relationship may be even more lopsided against Russia. Moscow failed to consider this possibility and to begin the building up of forces. Now, Rezchikov says, it faces many bottlenecks: there aren’t enough pilots to man the planes Moscow wants to play the primary defense force of the oblast because there aren’t enough being trained, and Lithuania has blocked the introduction of tanks by land. (They can still come by sea.) As a result, according to one retired Russian general with whom the journalist spoke, “aviation regiments will be restored only on paper.” In reality, they will be hollow. Moscow officials and Duma members talk tough about building up defenses, the general says; but they aren’t committing the enormous resources needed according to a long-term plan. Unless that changes, Kaliningrad will remain in a militarily weak position for some time to come.

Russia-NATO Council To Meet For Second Time This Year

The joint Russia-NATO Council will meet in Brussels on October 26, the second time the body has convened this year.

Canada Passes Version Of Magnitsky Act, Raising Moscow’s Ire

The Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), which earlier passed both houses of the Canadian Parliament, on October 19 received royal assent, which is required …

What’s Behind Ksenia Sobchak’s ‘Against All’ Bid for the Presidency?

“She was chosen to show that it is a real election.”

Critics See Kremlin’s Hand In Liberal Russian TV Personality’s Presidential Bid

The announcement by a Russian journalist and daughter of Vladimir Putin’s political mentor that she will run for president has triggered accusations that Ksenia Sobchak is taking a role in an elect…

Putin talks like Russia’s next president, but stays silent on whether he’ll run – The Washington Post

The Russian leader used a major speech to list the Kremlin’s grievances against the U.S.

Western Sanctions Are Shrinking Russia’s Population – Foreign Policy

Vladimir Putin is fond of claiming that demographics are destiny – which may be why he’s so angry about his country’s financial straitjacket.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia Might Cure Its Imperial Drive by Joining Another and Broader Empire, Inozemtsev Suggests

Paul Goble Staunton, October 19 – The experience of the European countries may provide a useful model for Russia to overcome its imperial complexes, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. As they yielded their colonies, they formed a new “empire” in the form of what is today known as the European Union. “The formation of the institutions of a united Europe not accidently corresponded in time with the most active phase of decolonization,” the Russian commentator says. “Having lost their empires, the Europeans had an additional reason for coming together and forming a substitute for a powerful super-state” ( The Europeans recognized that without their former empires and without some new structure, they would face the threat of being “driven to the political periphery” of the world by other powers such as the US, Russia and China. To that end, Inozemtsev says, they developed a “seduction-based Empire” designed to attract others not as subjects of themselves but as partners. “At the beginning of the 21st century, the two most important continental countries – Germany and France – became the owners of ‘a controlling interest’ in an all-European ‘empire,’ having buried in this way their own imperial ambitions. Something similar,” the commentator says, “could be the only ‘good outcome’ for the Russian empire as well.” Inozemtsev continues: “For this Russia itself and its ‘partners’ (as correctly President Putin puts in quotation marks) must consider several historical and factual circumstances.” Among the most important of these is that Russia, like the US, is both part and an extensive of Europe. Those two “’borderlands’ of Europe,” he argues, “could not fail to clash as soon as they felt in themselves military and economic superiority over the metropolis.” Russians argue whether they are East or West, but in reality, they are first of all part of the North – “for a long time, like other European empires was an instrument of the North’s dominance over the South.” That could become the source of “a new ‘imperial strategy’” for Russia, Europe and the US in the coming century, Inozemtsev says. Such a combination could unite the North and ensure its continuing domination over the South and the ability to counter challenges emanating from that region. “Russia and the US/Canada could become countries which would dominate the Pacific from the North. Europe would retain its military political defense as provided by the US and could at the same time gain access to Russia’s resources. “In other words,” he continues, “if Russia can’t escape from dreams about its imperial nature and from the sufferings over the loss of empire, the single way out of the existing situation as the experiences of the former European empires show is integration in or the creation from nothing of a still larger empire.” Russia’s participation in such a new “imperial” project would “make it more prepared to meet the challenges which can come from the South,” challenges that Russia is confronted by more directly than the other two parts of such a project. But “the synergy” of such a system could be useful for the other two participants. Not only would they gain mutual support but they would find that Russia would be able to change in ways that they have indicated they want it to. If Russia can’t stop being attached to an imperial vision of itself, it might be led to redefine this in order that it not decay into an entity on the periphery of the other powers.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Goal for Russia is ‘One People, One Language, and One Religion,’ Tatar Activist Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 19 – Vladimir Putin and his regime are pursuing a goal for Russia that can best be summed up by the phrase “one people, one language, and one religion,” Fauziya Bayramova says; and that will spend disaster or even death of the non-Russian nations of the country. The Putin regime, the Ittifaq Tatar Independence Party founder says, has pursued a multi-move and in some cases indirect campaign to achieve its goal. It has not always succeeded. Moscow tried to promote the idea of a single ethnic Russian nation, but “the people opposed this” ( Consequently, she continues, the Kremlin has pursued an indirect approach, “baptism through language,” an approach that involves “language first and then Orthodoxy.” Putin is not alone in pushing this, Bayramova says. The Russian Orthodox Church, Russian chauvinists like Mikhalkov and Rogozin and the force structures are all involved. Putin is doing this now because he has achieved many of his goals in foreign affairs: he already looks “like a conqueror” to many Russians, even though he may he may restart in campaigns against Ukraine, the Baltic countries and so on in the near future. But now he wants to focus on domestic issues. A major “domestic problem” that Putin has to address is that of the nations of the country. “After the elections or even during them national republics will be no more as a result of the amalgamation of regions. But there are and will be nations: We exist!” Putin thus decided to attack via the schools rather than via laws. If Putin had used law, Bayramova argues, “international organizations would have complained because that would have affected national minorities” about which they have strong views. The Kremlin leader is thus being clever, but he has other reasons to be moving in this direction. He is confident that he can do what he wants because in the past “the national republics have given him 90 percent of their votes. But it is not the people who have done so but rather the leaders of the regions: They will give however many are required.” And he moved on language to “show” to Russians that he is “the Russian little father tsar.” For Putin, the existence of republics is even more of a problem as far as his vision is concerned than is the existence of nations, Bayramova suggests. That is why he and his team began their attack on Tatarstan by going after Tatneft and then Tatfondbank. But now he attacking language, and “no one expected that” because the school year had already begun. On the one hand, that has meant that fewer people have been able to mobilize against this move; and on the other, it means that Putin has created a kind of chaos about which outsiders will find it difficult to judge, thus allowing Putin the opportunity to move forward toward his goal more easily. The leaders of the republic should be speaking out, Bayramova says. They need to tell the people the truth that “soon the republic can disappear, along with Tatar literature, Tatar culture, and the Tatar nation itself.” They must declare that we won’t be able to save these things only by speaking the languages at home in our kitchens. The powers that be in the republic have something to lose, and Moscow can exploit that. They are their children and grandchildren,” the Ittifaq leader says, long ago became Russian speakers. Their own fear is that they will lose their positions or their wealth. But ordinary Tatars have even more to lose: their language and their nation. Consequently, it is critically important to say openly to the federal authorities and the people: “The disappearance of the Tatar language in the schools will lead to the disappearance of the Tatar nation. Do you want this?”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow to Shift Focus from Blocking Internet Sites to Tracking Users, Nikiforov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 19 – Russia’s communication minister, Nikolay Nikoforov, says that the existing Russian system of blocking objectionable websites isn’t working because users find it too easy to employ workarounds and, as a result, Moscow is considering putting in place a system that will track all users of all sites. Nikiforov made that declaration about what would be a fundamental, difficult and likely enormously expensive shift in Russian policy to the Duma yesterday during the government hour, Anatoly Komrakov reports in today’s Nezavisimaya gazeta ( “We are still acting in an outdated way,” the minister said. “The internet and digital technologies are developing in such a way that the method of blocking does not allow us to achieve the desired result and for every case of blocking, people will always think up technologies that will allow them to go around it.” The government recognizes, as was announced by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in July, that it needs to be more “pro-active” and effective, Nikoforov continued. It needs in real time to know which people are looking at which sites and thus getting information that violates Russian law and threatens the national security of the country. Such an approach will require the development of new technologies. Along with this, Nikiforov says, by 2024, the Russian government hopes to reduce to under five percent the share of domestic Russian traffic which passes through servers based abroad. That will cost an estimated 100 billion rubles (1.6 billion US dollars). Pavel Butenko of the Intouch innovation company, told Nezavisimaya gazeta that Nikiforov “in essence” has said that he and his ministry want “to concentrate attention not on the blocking of resources but on citizens who gain access to prohibited content.” Once such people are identified, he said, the government can impose sanctions on them. The expert suggested that it will be some time before the regime can make a transition to this approach. Another specialist, Ilyas Sharapov of the TSS Security Company, says that this will involve using Big Data and then using that to draw conclusions about what is getting through to Russians. Sharapov said that he would expect the future policy to involve both blocking and tracking rather than the replacement of one by the other. He and other specialists suggested that this approach would be extremely expensive, something that could be a problem in the current period of budgetary stringency. And the cost may be a serious obstacle unless it can somehow be passed on to users. Indeed, budget problems are already forcing Moscow to consider cutting the staff of the notorious Center E which fights extremism ( and

Pro-Ukrainian Russian Activist Released After Two Years At Penal Colony

A Russian activist imprisoned for Internet posts criticizing Russia’s interference in Ukraine has been released from a penal colony after serving her two-year sentence.

Russian Poet Caught Up In Criminal Case For ‘Insulting Atheists’ Feelings’

Russia’s law against offending religious feelings has typically been used to defend the Orthodox Church. But in an apparent first, a criminal case has been opened against a man for offending the …

Moscow Mufti Summons Tajik Clerics For Terrorism Talks

Members of Tajikistan’s Ulema Council showed up suddenly in Russia on October 18. The visit came one day after the chief mufti of Moscow and Central Russia, Albir Krganov, expressed concerns abou…

Indigenous – means guilty

As in the North Caucasus, the authorities promise to return militants to peaceful life – and then pursue their relatives. Sasha Sulim’s reportage. Indigenous – means guilty As in the North Caucasus, the authorities promise to return militants to peaceful life – and then pursue their relatives. Sasha Sulim’s reportage.

Why Russian Women Don’t Want to Talk About Harvey Weinstein (Op-ed)

Harassment is also widespread in Russia. But Russians would rather not frame it that way

Friends Of Russia’s Lake Baikal Mark Small Victory Over Dam Project, Vow To Fight On

Last month, the World Bank suspended feasibility-study tenders for a controversial Mongolian dam project that environmentalists say endangers Siberia’s unique Lake Baikal. The move could give activ…

Belarus Reports

Belarus after “Zapad”: a new crisis in relations with Russia?

Moscow no longer regards Minsk as a special partner in the sphere of ensuring the security of the Union State, as was originally envisaged by its architecture. A complex dilemma Initially, when planning the joint Belarusian-Russian strategic exercise “Zapad-2017”, Minsk tried to solve a complex dilemma: on the one hand, it was necessary to conduct military maneuvers in such a way that they did not become a destabilizing factor undermining regional security (hence the limited scale and emphasis on purely defensive scenarios). On the other hand, the strategic doctrine was intended to demonstrate to the Kremlin the fulfillment of Minsk’s allied commitments within the military-political alliance with Russia. Apparently, Minsk performed the first task perfectly, which was largely due to the unprecedented regime of transparency and openness during the West-2017 maneuvers themselves, their modest parameters and the non-aggressive military plan. And this is despite the inability of the Belarusian side to distance itself from the sufficiently large-scale and provocative parallel exercises “Zapad” on the territory of Russia in the information plan, as well as to promptly respond to the information provocations of the Russian side. Unfortunately, very often external Western observers, not carrying out thematic and structural differences, mixed the joint Belarusian-Russian strategic doctrine “Zapad-2017” in Belarus and the parallel maneuvers “Zapad” in the Russian territory, which, it must be said, began at the end of July and, by all appearances, will end at the end of the autumn with a large-scale check of the combat readiness of the Russian Armed Forces. And only at the level of international observers, who most directly observed the progress of maneuvers on Belarusian ranges, it was possible to catch this difference. Therefore, it can be said with a high degree of probability that both the OSCE and NATO made positive conclusions on the results of the exercises that will positively affect the international image of Belarus.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

UAWire – Moldovan government asks Constitutional Court who, instead of President Dodon, can appoint Minister of Defense

The Moldovan government appealed to the Constitutional Court with a request to determine who will appoint the Minister of Defense instead of the …

Ukraine Reports

Russia simulates airstrike on Ukraine Navy warning against attempts to recover seized oil rigs off Crimea coast

Russia&rsquo;s REN TV showed a video of an airstrike on a decommissioned boat in the open sea in a blunt threat to apply the same force to the actual Ukrainian Navy warships once Kyiv attempts to regain control over its assets seized by Russia in the Black Sea as a result of Crimea occupation or attack vessels under the Russian flag. News 20 October from UNIAN.

The Daily Vertical: The Third Time’s The Hardest (Transcript)

Whenever tents start to appear on the streets of Kyiv, you know things are getting pretty serious. This week’s demonstrations in the Ukrainian capital, which saw protesters block the entrance to parliament, clash with police, and erect a makeshift tent city for the first time since the Euromaidan uprising, was just the latest sign that the postrevolutionary honeymoon is long over. Pro-Western politicians are squabbling. Judicial reform is stalled. Pessimism and tension is rising. So I guess it’s time to get cynical about Ukraine again, right? Well, actually no. Because the way I see it, Ukraine has been making very slow — but very steady — progress since independence. Ukraine has effectively had three revolutions, each of which has built on the previous one. The first occurred in the summer of 1994 when incumbent president Leonid Kravchuk lost an election, and then did something remarkable: he stepped down and let the victor, Leonid Kuchma, take office. This set the precedent that Ukraine’s elections are competitive and its power transfers are peaceful. The second revolution — popularly known as the Orange Revolution — occurred a decade later and it basically established the principle of oligarchic pluralism. After serving two terms as president, Kuchma and his handpicked successor Viktor Yanukovych tried to cement their own clan in power through a fraudulent election — and civil society, backed by rival oligarchic clans, balked. And Ukraine’s third revolution was of course the Euromaidan. This was when Ukrainian civil society basically said it’s time to move from oligarchic pluralism to real pluralism — and made it clear it was not going to take no for an answer. But this is the hardest step for an oligarchic elite to take because it means having the vision, the foresight, and the confidence to legislate away its own privilege and impunity for the good of society. So what we are witnessing now are simply the growing pains of Ukraine’s third and most difficult revolution.

The Morning Vertical, October 20, 2017

A tent city has appeared in Kyiv for the first time since the Euromaidan. Protesters are demanding that President Petro Poroshenko enact anticorruption reforms or step down. Pro-Western politicians are squabbling. Judicial reform is stalled. Pessimism and tension are rising. Welcome to the growing pains of something I call Ukraine’s Third Revolution. On today’s Power Vertical Podcast, we take a look at Ukraine’s efforts to move from oligarchic pluralism to real pluralism (for a teaser, check out today’s Daily Vertical, featured below). Joining me will be co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague and author of the blog In Moscow’s Shadows; and RFE/RL’s Kyiv correspondent, Christopher Miller. Also on the Podcast, Mark, Chris, and I will talk about the changing tactics in both Kyiv and Moscow toward the war in the Donbas. So be sure to tune in later today….

Ukrainian Deputies Send Immunity Bill To Constitutional Court In ‘Small Victory’ For Protesters

Protesters calling for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to enact anticorruption reforms or step down notched a small victory on October 19 as parliament sent a bill on lifting lawmakers’ immunity from prosecution to the Constitutional Court for review.

Ukraine reports 15 enemy attacks in Donbas over last day

Russia's hybrid military forces attacked Ukrainian army positions in Donbas 15 times in the past 24 hours, with no Ukrainian soldiers reported as killed or wounded in action, according to the press service of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) Headquarters. News 20 October from UNIAN.

No casualties in Ukrainian army yesterday, 15 attacks by Russian troops recorded, – ATO HQ

20.10.17 09:39 – No casualties in Ukrainian army yesterday, 15 attacks by Russian troops recorded, – ATO HQ In the end of the day yesterday, the situation in the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) area didn’t change much. Russian hybrid troops in the Donbas decreased the number of attacks upon Ukrainian army. View news.

UAWire – Biletsky: Azov Battalion was removed from the front line in eastern Ukraine at Putin’s request

The order to withdraw Azov regiment from Shyrokyne was given at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin, as stated by the founder and former commander of the Azov regiment, People’s Deputy Andriy Biletsky in an interview with Apostrophe. He believes that the decision to remove Azov from the front line was directed against him personally and against the soldiers and argued that “this is a classic meanness” by the Ukrainian authorities. “This was a decision directed both against me and against the soldiers, people who returned to this President a city inhabited by a half million people [Mariupol],” he says. At the same time, the People’s Deputy believes that one of the reasons for the withdrawal of the regiment from Shyrokyne was pressure exerted by the Russian President Putin. “This is a foreign policy crisis, first and foremost [Russian President Vladimir] Putin applied pressure here. When the negotiations on Shyrokyne were going on, when they actively persuaded me, including Muzhenko, to leave Shyrokyne and hand it over, saying that our presence there violates the agreements, during that time, I know for sure that Putin directly demanded the withdrawal of Azov from Shyrokyne,” he said. The second reason is the authorities’ hatred of volunteer military units. The demilitarization of Shyrokyne, which is situated next to Mariupol, began in 2015. The Azov and Donbas regiments were withdrawn from the area. The withdrawal of volunteer battalions caused a wave of protests in Ukraine.

Alexander Hug: 400 civilians killed in Donbas in 2017 – 20.10.2017 14:45 — Ukrinform News

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has confirmed 400 civilian casualties in Donbas since the beginning of the year.

Boxer Oleksandr Usyk visits border guards in eastern Ukraine. Photos – 20.10.2017 16:25 — Ukrinform News

Famous Ukrainian boxer Oleksandr Usyk visited units of the Kramatorsk border guard detachment within the framework of his trip to the ATO area in eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian military to receive 40 medical Humvees –

The cars have been sent this month and are to arrive soon

Ukrainian army to get 40 medical Humvees from U.S. in October

The American company AM General in October will transfer additional 40 medical Humvees to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Embassy of Ukraine in the USA reported on Facebook. News 20 October from UNIAN.

Ukraine Passes Long-Delayed Health Reforms Sought By West

Lawmakers in Ukraine have approved a long-awaited law reforming the health-care system replacing broken-down Soviet-era arrangements with a Western-style, tax-funded healthcare insurance system.

Ukraine to not change education model in Hungarian schools for now, – Hrynevych –

Changes to the educational process of Hungarian schools in Ukraine are postponed until the Venice Commission comments on the “language article” of the law

Deadly road accident in Kharkiv: Driver faces charges, might get 10 years in jail –

Kharkiv City Prosecutor’s Office officially filed charges against Alyona Zaitseva, the 20-year-old driver who drove Lexus RX during road accident, which claimed five lives in Kharkiv on Wednesday evening

Deadly road accident in Kharkiv: driver used opiates before the tragedy, – Prosecution –

A representative of the prosecution gave the information during the hearing on the preventive measure for the suspect, based on the results of blood tests

Ukrainian Parliament Speaker Calls For ‘Objective’ Probe Into Deadly Traffic Accident In Kharkiv

Ukrainian parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy has called on law enforcement authorities to “immediately and objectively investigate” a deadly traffic accident in the eastern city of Kharkiv.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Donald J. Trump on Twitter: “”Iran hides behind its assertion of technical compliance w/the nuclear deal, while it brazenly violates the other limits..” Amb. @NikkiHaley”

Iran’s Not a Totally Fake Democracy, Study Says – Foreign Policy

A new survey shows a country with a constrained but active body politic, contrary to plenty of D.C. conventional wisdom.

Khamenei Warns Iran Will ‘Shred’ Nuclear Deal If U.S. Quits It

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is threatening to “shred” the nuclear deal between Tehran and global powers if the United States pulls out.

Russian neo-Nazi who fought against Ukraine in Donbas now seen in Syria – media

Russian national Oleksiy Milchakov, who headed the &quot;Rusich&quot; neo-Nazi battalion fighting alongside Donbas militants, is now hired by &quot;Wagner,&quot; Russia's major private military company, and deployed in Syria, according to the Russian outlet Fontanka, Ukrayinska Pravda reports. News 20 October from UNIAN.

The Aviationist » Israeli Air Force F-35I “Adir” Involved In A Bird Strike Incident Gets Grounded

An Israeli Air Force F-35I “Adir” (Mighty) was involved in a bird strike incident during a training sortie two weeks ago, the Israeli Defense Forces said on Oct. 16. The pilot managed to land the plane safely back at Nevatim Air Force Base in the Negev Desert and no casualties were reported. This is the first incident to an F-35 in IAF service since the first two aircraft have been taken on charge by the 140 “Golden Eagle” squadron in December last year. The IDF confirmed those details to Israeli media outlets: “During a training sortie two hits were found on the plane, following to a collision with a bird. After an evaluation and assessment of the damage conducted together with the manufacturer – Lockheed Martin, the plane was sent to a normal maintenance and repair. It will return to full service in the next few days.” Seven “Adir” aircraft have been delivered to the Israeli Air Force since December 2016. In August, a deal was completed for the purchase of another 17 such aircraft: therefore 50 such aircraft will be operated by the IAF equipping two squadrons. The total amount of the deal to purchase the 50 aircraft is estimated at 6B USD. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagle Squadron continues to perform a wide array of flight tests to verify the 5th generation aircraft capabilities. The Squadron is scheduled to become operational by the end of this year. The news of the birdstrike incident was released on the very same day the Israeli targeted a Syrian SAM battery that had attacked IDF aircraft during a routine flight over Lebanon fueling speculations that the F-35 was not grounded by a birdstrike but because it was hit by the Syrian air defenses. In fact, the Syrian Defense Ministry said in its statement that government forces responded to the violation of the airspace and “directly hit one of the jets, forcing [Israeli aircraft] to retreat.” On the other side the Israeli denied any aircraft was hit by the Syrian air defenses (S-200 battery) and this sounds quite reasonable considered that the Israeli have often shown their ability to operate freely in the Syrian airspace and there would have been no reason to disclose a fake birdstrike at all to cover a Syrian hit.

Netanyahu lobbies world powers to stem Iraqi Kurd setbacks

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is lobbying world powers to prevent further setbacks to Iraqi Kurds as they lose ground to Baghdad’s army, Israeli officials say.

“A colossal miscalculation”: why the Kurds’ independence bid might lead to civil war in Iraq – Vox

America’s allies are shooting at each other. It could get much worse.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: New Post-ISIS Islamist Militant Group Reported Forming on Afghan-Central Asian Border

Paul Goble Staunton, October 19 – With the destruction of the territorial base of the Islamic State, many have wondered how its followers will metasticize into new terrorist groups. One such organization, reportedly including several thousand fighters, has now arisen in the border regions between Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, on the one hand, and Afghanistan, on the other. Moscow Mufti Albir Krganov, the head of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Russia, told Sputnik Tajikistan, a Moscow-controlled outlet there, earlier this week that this group known as Khorasan may in fact be a successor to ISIS and may threaten not only Central Asia directly but Russia via migrants as well ( The Muslim leader said that he and Moscow were interested in doing everything they can to block the rise of this group before it can become fully formed and operational, but Krganov complained that Tajik Muslim leaders had so far shown little or no inclination to cooperate with their Russian co-religionists in such an effort. Krganov’s statement about the new group cannot be independently confirmed, and in the murky world of such terrorist groups, Khorasan may simply represent the renaming of other pre-existing organizations. But the timing and venue of his announcement suggest that many in Moscow don’t think that is the case. Thus, yet another Islamist radical organization has likely emerged and bears close watching.

Afghan Army Unit Nearly Wiped Out as New Taliban Tactic Takes Toll – The New York Times

Forty-three soldiers were killed after militants drove stolen Humvees packed with explosives into an army base, mirroring a tactic used in two recent attacks.

Recent attacks beyond Taliban’s ability: Waziri | Pajhwok Afghan News

KABUL (Pajhwok): The Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Thursday accused Pakistan intelligence agencies of being behind recent attacks in Afghanistan, saying the assaults were beyond Taliban’s ability.

Rohingya Refugees Still Streaming Into Bangladesh

Hundreds of Rohingya Muslims arrived in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, on October 19. Almost 600,000 Rohingya refugees — more than half of them children — have left northern Rakhine state in Burma, also known as Myanmar. The crisis began in late August, when the army began a campaign of what the UN has called “ethnic cleansing” following insurgent attacks. UNICEF, the UN children’s fund, says refugee camps in Bangladesh are lacking basic shelter, drinking water, and toilets. (Reuters)


Tyler Cowen | North Korea playing a longer nuclear game than the U.S. – Chicago Tribune

North Korea playing a longer nuclear game than the U.S.

Putin warns against backing North Korea into a corner | TheHill

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday warned the United States not to back North Korea “into a corner,” while urging dialogue amid heightened tensions, NBC News reported.

Forget Putin, Americans Fear North Korea and ISIS More

A majority of Americans see North Korea as a more immediate threat than ISIS or Russia, but they do not see eye-to-eye with the White House’s strategy.

Poll: America’s Fear of North Korea Is on the Rise – NBC News

A majority of Americans — regardless of their partisanship — view North Korea as the most immediate threat to the U.S., says a new NBC News|SurveyMonkey poll.

Donald Trump’s North Korea Border Visit Raises Fears for President’s Safety

Administration officials have yet to decide whether the president will follow in his predecessors’ steps.

North Korea threatens to go nuclear over US military exercises | New York Post

North Korea threatened the United States with an “unimaginable” nuclear strike for conducting military exercises with South Korea in the waters off…

North Korea threatens ‘unimaginable’ strike on United States

North Korea conducted its sixth, and most powerful, nuclear test last month.

North Korea threatened an “unimaginable strike” on the US. Here’s why you shouldn’t panic. – Vox

North Korea is definitely on edge over a US military exercise. But its language shouldn’t be taken literally.

Sanctions and North Korea’s Precarious Food Security | The Diplomat

Are sanctions causing food shortages in North Korea? It’s more complicated than that.

Forget ‘Rocket Man’: This Is The Real North Korean Problem

With all of the attention on North Korea’s nuclear program advancement, the world is seemingly uninformed on the immediate threat of the country’s nefarious hacking methods

After six tests, the mountain hosting North Korea’s nuclear blasts may be exhausted – The Washington Post

The nuclear tests are getting so big, they’re causing structural damage with dire environmental consequences.

China’s 30-year deadline to rule the world

BEIJING has outlined plans to become the world’s biggest superpower within the next 30 years.

The Resistible Rise of Xi Jinping – Foreign Policy

China’s president radically changed his country, and the Communist Party, through skill, determination — and a series of lucky breaks.

Ousted Chinese Official Is Accused of Plotting Against Communist Party – The New York Times

Allegations offer new details of charges against Sun Zhengcai and pit him against not just the Communist Party but China’s leader, Xi Jinping.

China’s J-20 stealth fighter a giant leap forward in Asian arms race

CHINA’s made a significant step forward in its bid to equal — and eventually surpass — United States air superiority.

Foreign Policy Reports

Divided EU Declines To Act On Objections To Russian Gas Project

Some European Union leaders raised objections to Russia’s plan to build a new gas pipeline to Germany at a summit in Brussels on October 19, but the bloc was divided on the matter and took no actio…

Russian Ships Visit Philippines As President Vows To Diversify Away From U.S.

Three Russian navy ships arrived in the Philippines on October 20 and two others are expected over the weekend to deliver donated military equipment, officials said.

Spain plans new elections in Catalonia to end independence bid: opposition

The Spanish government has secured opposition support for dissolving Catalonia’s parliament and holding new elections there in January in its bid to defuse the regional government’s push for independence.

Strategy / History / Capability Publications

Through a Periscope Darkly: The Nuclear Undersea Competition in Southern Asia Is Just Beginning

Editor’s Note: This is the eleventh installment of “Southern (Dis)Comfort,” a new series from War on the Rocks and the Stimson Center. The series seeks to…

Mitchell Institute Releases New Policy Paper: Close Air Support for the 21st Century

ARLINGTON, Va (October 18, 2017) —The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce the release of its newest Policy Paper, Full Spectrum Close Air Support for the 21st Century: Leveraging Air Operations with Ground Forces, by Lt Col Michael Buck, USAF (Ret.). A non-resident senior visiting fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, Buck is a retired F-15C Eagle squadron commander, and command pilot with more than 5,000 flight hours. He has experience flying both the F-16 and F-15C, and flew combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Southern Watch.In his policy paper, Buck proposes the development of a new approach to close air support (CAS) in order for US and allied air and ground forces to operate across all levels of conflict. Counterinsurgency and irregular warfare campaigns, similar to the wars fought since September 2001, will continue to persist, presenting a low threat environment for aircraft prosecuting CAS missions for the foreseeable future. But future conflicts will also take place in highly contested anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) environments, he warns, with far more dangerous threats to aircraft. “Although aircraft optimized for low threat CAS environments will have ongoing value, providing desired effects at lower operating costs, a full-spectrum approach to CAS will also require the capability to engage in high threat scenarios,” Buck notes. The capability for aircraft to engage in high threat environments while producing desired CAS effects calls for aircraft with the highest levels of survivability and combat capability. Fifth generation aircraft afford survivability in A2/AD environments via stealth and other tools, which allow them to respond to threats quickly. New methods of command and control (C2) that capitalize on situational awareness created via the “combat cloud” will permit efficient, decentralized execution at the tactical level, Buck writes. To optimize the effectiveness of ground forces, sensor-effector aircraft will make on the- spot decisions in these environments, and rapidly coordinate weapons effects across all domains to target enemy forces before they can target US or allied forces, he adds.

The Aviationist » Interesting Photo Shows F-22 Raptor Landing At RAF Lakenheath With Open Missile Bay

This Is Something You Don’t See Too Often. The photographs in this post were taken by our contributor Alessandro Fucito on Oct. 12, 2017. They show a U.S. Air Force Raptor jet, belonging to the 1st FW, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, deployed to the UK, since Oct. 8, landing at RAF Lakenheath with the side weapon bay open. The stealth multirole jet AF 08-154 is one of the six involved in a FTD (Flying Training Deployment) in Europe. The aircraft have just completed a tour of duty at Al Dhafra airbase, UAE, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq. Noteworthy, an AIM-9X Sidewinder can be seen inside the open weapon bay.

Under a B-52 with Gen. Goldfein; 11% cut to USAF budget request?; New Mideast arms-export numbers, and more… – Defense One

Government news resource covering technology, performance, employment, telework, cybersecurity, and more for federal employees.

US Domestic Policy Reports

Nikki Haley: Russian cyberinterference into US elections is ‘warfare’ – CNNPolitics

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Thursday that Russian cyberinterference in American elections is “warfare.”

Donald J. Trump on Twitter: “Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!”

Donald J. Trump on Twitter: “”46% of Americans think the Media is inventing stories about Trump & his Administration.” @FoxNews It is actually much worse than this!”

Donald J. Trump on Twitter: “Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?”

Putin Threatens Restrictions On U.S. Media If Washington Pressures Russian Media

President Vladimir Putin has threatened U.S. media operating in Russia, saying Moscow would retaliate if U.S. officials put restrictions on Russian media in the United States.

U.S. Senators Single Out Russia In Push Against Anonymous Online Political Ads

A bipartisan trio of U.S. senators has introduced legislation to regulate paid political ads that appear on Facebook, Google, and other social media in an effort to prevent foreign interference in …

On Trump dossier, the President just suggested the FBI, Democrats and Russia might all be co-conspirators – CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump sent this tweet on Thursday morning: “Workers of firm involved with the discredited and Fake Dossier take the 5th. Who paid for it, Russia, the FBI or the Dems (or all)?”

FBI informant blocked from telling Congress about Russia nuclear corruption case, lawyer says | TheHill

An American businessman who worked for years undercover as an FBI confidential witness was blocked by the Obama Justice Department from telling Congress about conversations and transactions he witnessed related to the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to win favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton and influence Obama administration decisions, his lawyer tells The Hill.

Bush Slams Russian Effort to ‘Exploit Our Country’s Divisions’ – NBC News

Former President George W. Bush said Thursday that Russian cyber-attacks during the 2016 election were an effort to turn “Americans against each other” as Moscow sought to exploit “our country’s divisions.

George W. slams Trumpism, without mentioning president by name – POLITICO

‘Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication,’ Bush declared.