Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update – 28 October 2017

Expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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NATO to form new maritime and logistical commands to offset Russian threat. NATO vs. Russia debate continues. Focus report on bizarre non-reasoning about Russia in post-Soviet/former-Warpac nations. Russian military numbers contracting due to demographics, declining earnings, and poor treatment. Baltic pushback against Russia.  Treisman paper on the collapses of autocracies and Russia’s exposure. Russian election debate dominated by Sobchak and Navalniy. Economist depicts Putin as the new Tsar.

More Putin nuclear grandstanding. Bechev on Balkans meddling. Kirillova on propaganda blameshifting against the West – disagree with Putin and you are an Agency asset. Butakov, Smagin, Samigullin on fragmentation risk, Krasheninnikov on bogus Orthodoxy, NG on stagnation, Novocherkassk massacre remembered, Babchenko on homicidal propaganda zombies in Russia, many reports on attacks against media, and other reports on domestic meltdown – Russia’s descent into the abyss continues unabated. Two Crimean Tartar leaders released and expelled from Russia.

Belarus protests restart, while Moldovan mess continues.

Biggest news topic in Ukraine was failed assassination by remote control bomb of nationalist politician Mosiychuk of the Radical Party, almost universally credited to Russia. Lethal aid debate continues with FP essay, and Amb Yovanovitch comments. Donbass fires continue. Multiple reports from Russian occupied Donbass proving Russia staged managed everything. Kidnapped border guards were grabbed for an EPW swap. Head of the Central Research Institute for Arms and Military Equipment states Ukraine needs to update much of its military capabilities to produce real deterrence. Obsolescence of military transport vehicle fleet debated. Further reports on Arms and Security innovations. Tymoshenko/Saakashvili protests flop. Five reports on decommunisation and Soviet atrocities.

Russia sabotages UN action on Syrian CW. Nesmiyan on Russia’s failed attempts to conceal Syria KIAs. More on Raqqa and the huge proportions of Russians and FSU nationals in ISIS. LtGen McMaster on Iran, and multiple reports on Iran topics, some very disturbing. Kurdistan mayhem continues but may be stabilising. Saudi reform drive detailed.

Russian meddling in Brexit and Balkans detailed. Catalonia mess further escalates, no doubt pleasing Muscovy.

Katz report on great power alignment, Reformation reviewed, and two good essays by MWI.

A fascinating debate on the nature of propaganda, more on Russian trolling, malware, ransomware and Kaspersky.

US domestic debate on Russia following multiple threads, including threats to democracy, troll farms activities through the election campaign, Russian/Soviet efforts to stoke racial discord, Pussy Riot in NY, Manafort, and many other topics.

Russia / Russophone Reports

NATO Plans to Create Two New Commands Amid Russia Tensions – WSJ

NATO is poised to approve the creation of two new commands to improve allied logistics and protect supply lines, aiming to shore up weaknesses in any potential conflict with Russia, allied officials said.

Report: NATO Insufficiently Ready In Case Of Russian Attack

NATO would not be able to rebuff a potential Russian attack on its eastern flank, according to an internal report cited on October 20 by German weekly Der Spiegel.

‘Fundamental Differences’ Remain After NATO-Russia Council Meeting

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says the Western military alliance and Russia “continue to have fundamental differences,” particularly regarding the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

NATO Challenges Russia on Scope of War Games – To Inform is to Influence

Russia’s response? Deny, deny, deny. Prove it. </end editorial> October 26, 2017 5:22 PM Smita Nordwall NATO has accused Russia of misleading the Western military alliance about the military exercises it held last month with Belarus. “There is a discrepancy between what Russia briefed before the exercise … and the actual numbers and the scale…

NATO Leaders Set To Meet In July 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump and his NATO counterparts will meet for a summit in Brussels in July 2018.

A Russian Ghost Submarine, Its U.S. Pursuers and a Deadly New Cold War – WSJ

A resurgence in Moscow’s submarine fleet has reignited the undersea arms race of the Cold War. It’s played out recently in a cat-and-mouse sea hunt across the Mediterranean that pit the U.S. Navy against one of Russia’s newest and most sophisticated attack subs.

American army is in decline. Poles are worried about security –

It’s not just about obsolete weapons, which in many areas are inferior to technology that is in service of the main opponents of Americans. First of all, this is a question of the combat readiness and strength of the army

East-Central Europe’s “Galactic” Imagining of Post-Soviet Security – Focus Ukraine

Many politicians, diplomats, and analysts in East-Central Europe imagine their region as being divided into two planets, one with EU and NATO member countries, the second with all the rest. This reflexive view leads to widespread denial of some plain geographic facts about, and the resulting security challenges for, NATO’s eastern member states. The surprisingly common “galactic” misperception of European geopolitics is a major reason for the continuing persistence of the post-Soviet institutional gray zone between Russia and the West. It is no secret that the current international crisis in East-Central Europe has arisen, first and foremost, because of the Eastern European institutional structure—or lack thereof. One can easily explain and assess the current tensions between Moscow and its western neighbors without much knowledge of the region by simply pointing to the organizational underdevelopment of post-Soviet international relations. To be sure, contemporary Russian domestic affairs, the national histories of the countries between the Baltic, Adriatic, and Black Seas, and the pathological obsession of many Moscow decision makers with Ukrainian internal matters are important corollaries of the so-called Ukraine crisis. Yet at its heart, Europe’s East is insecure because there is no comprehensive Central and Eastern European mutual aid, common defense, and conflict prevention structure. It is thus no surprise that the resulting geopolitical gray zone between the West’s NATO and EU, on the one side, and the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), on the other, consists of partially failed states—Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The continuing instability and insecurity of these states, in turn, pose problems not only for them but also for their neighbors within NATO and the EU—above all Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania, which have common borders with Ukraine. Yet despite the escalation of Kremlin-fueled tensions in their region, most of the elites of East-Central Europe have remained more or less inactive with regard to searching for and providing at least a partial solution to the security dilemma of the gray zone countries.

Poland to increase number of armed forces to 200 thousand people – Poland to increase number of armed forces to 200,000 people –

In addition, the country will gradually increase defense spending to at least 2,5% of GDP in 2030

State Department Says ‘Working On’ Russia Sanctions, Contrasts ‘Foreign Agent’ Laws

The U.S. State Department says it is still “working on” steps to implement legislation that Congress passed in July in an effort to strengthen sanctions against Russia.

The Daily Vertical: Steal Locally, Corrupt Globally

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

The West is ruled by weak leaders – EL PAIS – The West is ruled by weak leaders –

Political horizon of the West is quite gloomy; only few leaders could be called really strong – Emmanuel Macron, Shinzo Abe, Justin Trudeau, Mauricio Macri

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Military Having Serious Problems Retaining Contract Soldiers, New Data Show

Paul Goble Staunton, October 27 – Vladimir Putin said this week that he remains committed to moving to an all-volunteer military, even though budgetary stringencies have slowed the process. But figures from the military itself show that Moscow faces an even more serious task, given demographic problems and the army’s inability to get contract soldiers to sign on for new tours. In Yezhednevny zhurnal, Russian military expert Aleksandr Golts says that Putin’s words contradicted the statements of his generals earlier this month at the start of the fall draft. Many of them said they wanted the draft to continue forever, even though the Kremlin leader wants to do away with it ( Although if Putin is as committed and certain as he says, the military commentator continues, that raise the question as to why he not long ago signed a law prohibiting those who manage to avoid military service “without respectable causes” to serve in the government until after ten years have elapsed. Putin is quite right that the transition to an all-volunteer military has slowed, but his words do not convey just how serious the problem may be. That is suggested by a report of Col.Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev to the social council of the defense ministry. His words were truly “sensational,” Golts says. The general said that this year the number of contract service personnel equaled 354,000, a number that if true means that the number of such soldiers has in fact declined, given that at the end of 2016, Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu reported that there were already 384,000 contractor soldiers in uniform. If Mizintsev’s numbers are correct, the journalist said, that means that the transition to a contract army has stalled at the level of 2015, the “only explanation” for which is that “approximately the same number of [contract soldiers] left the service” as joined it in the last two years. Having served their original three-year term, “they have not begun to conclude new contracts,” something that means that the conditions of service are “not as attractive as the propagandists of the military agency describes them.” Pay hasn’t risen for five years, inflation has cut into that, and not all of the contractors are happy to be sent to “secret” wars. “The secret burials of those who have been killed, the shameful explanations” about the war in Ukraine, and “the cynical refusal to acknowledge the country’s own soldiers who have been taken prisoner all have a negative impact on the attitudes of many toward service,” Golts says. But such a state suggests an even bigger problem. If the number of contractors hasn’t increased over the last two years, then Shoygu’s claim that Moscow was able to cut the number of draftees this fall by 18,000 from a year earlier because of the increased number of contract soldiers is meaningless, Golts says. What that cutback actually reflects, the military analyst continues, is the demographic bottleneck Russia now faces. Those being drafted this year were born in 1999, “when the number of births was the very lowest for all of post-Soviet history.” But there will be no quick turnaround: the number of births in each of the next seven years weren’t much better. (“But there is no bad news without good,” he continues. Shoygu said that “only 13,000 draftees” will be sent to force structures other than the army. Most of these will go to the Russian Guard. But the other siloviki forces are “learning to live without draftees.” The emergency services ministry has been doing so for two years already.) And looming behind all these figures is yet another the Kremlin is certain to be concerned about. If one adds up the total number of draftees, contract soldiers and officers in the army, one gets a total of 850,000. That is 160,000 less than Putin has confirmed in a recent decree. Such a shortfall “inevitably will lead to a decline in military readiness,” Golts says. But the numbers may be less important in reality than as confirmation of the Kremlin’s belief that “only a million-man army corresponds to the status of a great power.” The only way to get to that number quickly, however, is to call up reserves. And to avoid doing that, military commanders are certainly telling their civilian superiors, will require keeping the draft in place for far more years ahead than Putin and his team have suggested. Thus, “ambitions are harming the transition to a contract army no less than budget reductions.”

Russia Has Grand Designs For the International Order (Op-ed)

Moscow’s new grand strategy is still in gestation

Why does Putin want to control Ukraine? Ask Stalin. – The Washington Post

Russia’s attitude has roots in the revolution — and in the famine that killed 13 percent of Ukrainians.

How big is Russia’s influence in Estonia? -Euromaidan Press |

Olena Makarenko There are different ways in which Russia tries to spread its influence in Estonia. As a former member of the Soviet Union, Russia’s current neighbor, and a country where 25% of the population is Russian, Estonia is attacked with different kinds of propaganda. Euromaidan Press talked to Dmitri Teperik, Chief Executive of International Center for Defense and Security in Estonia, to find out what kinds of approaches the Russian Federation practices in the Baltic state, how deep Estonia’s dependence on Russia is, and what Ukraine can learn from Estonia’s experience. Teperik often comes to Ukraine, in particular its eastern part, so he is also familiar with the situation in the country.

Explaining why those monuments are lying | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

Across the former Soviet empire, non-Russians have been taking down the Soviet-era statues that Moscow had imposed on them. The Baltic countries did so in 1991. Ukraine recently eliminated all Lenin statues, and now Poland is being sharply criticized by the Russian government for eliminating monuments to the Red Army. But now a district in Lithuania has come up with a clever strategy, one that moves between the Scylla of leaving these monuments and their messages in place and the Charybdis of taking them down and being attacked by Moscow or by others who decry the destruction of something that they view as part of the historical record. At a cemetery in a district in northern Lithuania, local officials have not taken down the monuments Moscow erected near the graves of Red Army soldiers but rather put up new signs indicating that “the ideological inscriptions of the Soviet period do not correspond to historical truth.”

The Daily Vertical: Correcting History In Lithuania (Transcript)

The battle over history is about more than just history. The struggle over memory is about more than memory. Correcting the historical record about what happened in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states seven decades ago is more than just an academic exercise. And the northern Lithuanian town of Birzai has just come up with a simple, creative, and elegant way to deal with the controversial issue of Soviet-era World War II monuments. Rather than tearing them down, local authorities have decided to put up signs next to them with a simple straightforward text reading: “the ideological inscriptions on these Soviet-era monuments do not correspond to historical truth.” The move is certain to irk Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin regime, which acts like it owns the memory and the narrative of the Second World War and has the right to dictate how other countries mark, remember, and commemorate it. The World War II narrative Moscow is trying to preserve — that the Red Army liberated Poland, the Baltic states, and Eastern Europe from the Nazis — conveniently overlooks the inconvenient fact that for these countries, the Red Army was not a liberator, but an occupier. It conveniently ignores the pesky truth that before Moscow fought against the Nazis, it collaborated with them to invade and partition Poland and to occupy the Baltics. And it is willfully indifferent to the fact that for these countries, World War II was a battle against two of history’s most nefarious regimes, Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Josef Stalin’s Soviet Union. The Kremlin’s attempts to control the narrative about World War II is about more than just preserving Russia’s national pride. It’s an attempt to legitimize Moscow’s postwar occupation and dominance of its neighbors and an attempt to sanctify an autocratic empire. And the little Lithuanian town of Birzai has come up with a clever and elegant way to push back Keep telling me what you think in the comments section, on The Power Vertical’s Twitter feed, and on our Facebook page.

The Morning Vertical, October 26, 2017

Authoritarian states become democratic for a number of reasons. According to research conducted by UCLA political scientist Daniel Treisman (featured below), in about a third of the cases from 1800-2015, liberalization is intentional. But in the vast majority of cases, it is an accident resulting from the mistakes, miscalculations, and hubris of autocrats. And in 85 percent of the cases Treisman examined over a 205-year period, liberalization was preceded by mass unrest. And as political commentator Leonid Bershidsky points out in his column (also featured below), Treisman’s research is highly relevant today as authoritarian regimes like Vladimir Putin’s appear ascendant — and liberal democracy appears on the defensive. Today, the Kremlin leader appears to be firmly in charge. “But even Putin, after 17 years in power, is in danger of making a miscalculation one day, perhaps finally misreading the mood of the increasingly cynical Russian public that keeps registering support for him in largely worthless polls,” Bershidsky notes. After it’s heady expansion at the end of the 20th century, liberal democracy has been under assault in the 21st. Treisman’s research is recommended reading for anybody seeking to understand how the tide will turn again.

Most Dictators Self Destruct. Why? – Bloomberg

In most cases, democratization has followed an authoritarian ruler’s mistake.

Daniel Treisman | Democracy by mistake

How does democracy emerge from authoritarian rule? Influential theories contend that incumbents deliberately choose to share or surrender power. They do so to prevent revolution, motivate citizens to fight wars, incentivize governments to provide public goods, outbid elite rivals, or limit factional violence. Examining the history of all democratizations since 1800, I show that such deliberate choice arguments may help explain up to one third of cases. In about two thirds, democratization occurred not because incumbent elites chose it but because, in trying to prevent it, they made mistakes that weakened their hold on power. Common mistakes include: calling elections or starting military conflicts, only to lose them; ignoring popular unrest and being overthrown; initiating limited reforms that get out of hand; and selecting a covert democrat as leader. These mistakes reflect well-known cognitive biases such as overconfidence and the illusion of control.

Mark Galeotti | Sobchak and the presidential reality show

Why does the Kremlin allow socialite Ksenia Sobchak to take part in the presidential elections? Distraction? Theatricality? According to security expert Mark Galeotti it reflects the limitations of Putin’s hyper-presidential system. ‘Vote against all’ is a way out for the population.

Podcast: The Reality-Show Election

Aleksei Navalny once called Ksenia Sobchak “a caricature of a liberal candidate” — but now says he won’t criticize her because it would be a gift to the Kremlin. Sobchak has praised Navalny as a brave and important political figure, and says she would withdraw her candidacy in the unlikely event that the anticorruption blogger were allowed on the ballot. Both Sobchak and Navalny emerged as political figures during the Bolotnaya protests, the mass demonstrations that engulfed Moscow in the winter of 2011-12. Both came to Russia’s opposition movement as outsiders and had to overcome skepticism. Both appeal to the young generation and both have built large and loyal followings on social media. And now the dynamic and political relationship between them is ground zero for Russia’s opposition. On this week’s Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss Sobchak’s plan to run for president in light of Navalny’s outsider campaign — and amid speculation that her candidacy is part of a Kremlin operation. Joining me will be co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, head of its center for European Security, and author of the forthcoming book The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia, which will be published next year; and Moscow-based journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique: Inside Russia’s Power Cult.

The Morning Vertical, October 27, 2017

Aleksei Navalny once called Ksenia Sobchak “a caricature of a liberal candidate” — but now says he won’t criticize her because it would be a gift to the Kremlin. Sobchak has praised Navalny as a brave and important political figure, and says she would withdraw her candidacy in the unlikely event that the anticorruption blogger were allowed on the ballot. Both Sobchak and Navalny emerged as political figures during the Bolotnaya protests, the mass demonstrations that engulfed Moscow in the winter of 2011-12. Both came to Russia’s opposition movement as outsiders and had to overcome skepticism. Both appeal to the young generation and both have built large and loyal followings on social media. And the dynamic and political relationship between them is now ground zero for Russia’s opposition. On this week’s Power Vertical Podcast, we discuss Sobchak’s plan to run for president in light of Navalny’s outsider campaign — and amid speculation that her candidacy is part of a Kremlin operation. Joining me will be co-host co-host Mark Galeotti, a senior research fellow at the Institute of International Relations in Prague, head of its center for European Security, and author of the forthcoming book The Vory, which will be published next year; and Moscow-based journalist Anna Arutunyan, author of the book The Putin Mystique. Be sure to tune in to what promises to be a lively show later today!

Navalny Won’t Hand the Kremlin Freebies by Criticizing Sobchak

Navalny Won’t Hand the Kremlin Freebies by Criticizing Sobchak

The Daily Vertical: Sobchak Says The Unsayable (Transcript)

Crimea is Ukrainian territory. Full stop. Russia violated international law when it annexed the peninsula. And the Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov — a resident of Crimea who publicly opposed the annexation and was subsequently imprisoned for “terrorism” — is a political prisoner who should be released. Saying any of these things — or even reposting or liking such remarks on social media — could get most Russians prosecuted for supporting separatism and extremism. But Ksenia Sobchak said all of them; and she said them live and on camera in her first press conference as a presidential candidate. WATCH Today’s Daily Vertical In a separate interview, Sobchak also said that Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov “has blood on his hands” for his role in Russia’s intervention in the Donbas. It is, of course, highly unlikely that Sobchak will be prosecuted for separatism or extremism. It’s also unlikely that such positions will win her many votes. And those taking a cynical view of her candidacy will be quick to point out that Sobchak is playing the role of Kremlin foil and patsy to a tee; that she is being the perfect caricature of a liberal opponent to Vladimir Putin. But this all misses an important point. By saying these true but forbidden facts openly, plainly, and publicly, Sobchak — who, by the way, has more than 1.6 million Twitter followers — is making them a legitimate part of the public discourse. And that is long overdue.

Sobchak Stirs Controversy In Russia By Saying Crimea Is Part Of Ukraine

The Kremlin has criticized Russian presidential hopeful Ksenia Sobchak for saying that Crimea is legally part of Ukraine, while flamboyant nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky said she should …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Sobchak’s Statement on Crimea May Not Matter Now But It has Profound Consequences for the Future, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 25 – Kseniya Sobchak’s statement that Crimea is Ukrainian under international law may not matter too much in the short term, Vitaly Portnikov says. On the one hand, it may all be part of a Kremlin game to appear tolerant. And on the other, she won’t have the chance to implement it because she isn’t going to be elected Russian president. Those twin realities have led many to dismiss her words, but that is a mistake, the Ukrainian commentator says, because by making them, Sobchak has returned the discussion of the status of Crimea to open political discussion in Russia, something that had previously been impossible because of a legal ban on call for changes in Russia’s external borders. She has found a way to express something that no one could before. Admittedly, Portnikov continues, her position “will not influence the majority of Russians” at least not today. “But what is important is not the number of people” who support her or this position. What matters is that it is now again in Russia’s public space ( Most opposition leaders, including Aleksey Navalny, have felt that they cannot challenge the “Crimea is Ours” majority head one even if they are so inclined; and Navalny by all the evidence isn’t. Instead, he is quite prepared to play to the imperialist majority because that is a way to get votes now. But “sooner or later,” Portnikov says, “with Putin or without this aging ruler, Russian society will be forced to come to an understanding of the necessity of normalizing relations with Ukraine, with the return of the territories it has seized, with a final rejection of an expansionist foreign policy, and with a condemnation of chauvinism and aggression.” Sobchak’s words, however little they affect Russia right now, help bring that day closer, the analyst says, because “Russia is a country in which three percent support for this or that position can easily be transformed into 73 percent by actions of the authorities or television. That is something that must always be remembered.”

Sobchak’s statement on Crimea has profound consequences for the future, Portnikov says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

Kseniya Sobchak’s statement that Crimea is Ukrainian under international law may not matter too much in the short term, Vitaly Portnikov says. On the one hand, it may all be part of a Kremlin game to appear tolerant. And on the other, she won’t have the chance to implement it because she isn’t going to be elected Russian president. Those twin realities have led many to dismiss her words, but that is a mistake, the Ukrainian commentator says, because by making them, Sobchak has returned the discussion of the status of Crimea to open political discussion in Russia, something that had previously been impossible because of a legal ban on call for changes in Russia’s external borders.

Kremlin thinks that the issue of ‘the territorial belonging of Crimea’ is out of the question –

Kremlin responds on Sobchak statement about Ukrainian Crimea

Russian Celebrity Opens Presidential Campaign – The New York Times

At a packed news conference, Ksenia Sobchak said she spoke of a generation itching to challenge a corrupt political system and ultimately gain power.

‘This Myth About the Great and Horrible Putin’ – POLITICO Magazine

How to think about Russia’s America-bashing, opposition-crushing president.

A tsar is born

SEVENTEEN years after Vladimir Putin first became president, his grip on Russia is stronger than ever. The West, which still sees Russia in post-Soviet terms, sometimes ranks him as his country’s most powerful leader since Stalin. Russians are increasingly looking to an earlier period of history.

The Economist put the image of Russian president Putin on the cover, depicting him as the new Tsar of Russia – Putin portrayed as ‘new tsar of Russia’ on The Economist’s cover –

The Economist put the image of Russian president Putin on the cover, depicting him as the new Tsar of Russia

Putin at the Crossroads

The last Putin’s term is a time to reflect on the future of the country. The elite has four choices Less than six months later, Vladimir Putin will be triumphantly re-elected head of the Russian state. Experts who observe the domestic political life give diametrically opposite assessments for the next six years: from a story about practically inevitable reforms to a scenario of a complete socio-political catastrophe. Which of the forecasts will be closer to the truth, now no one knows. However, I would like to focus on a slightly different aspect.

Vladimir Putin Launches Four Ballistic Missiles in Nuclear Forces Drill Across Russia

The missiles flew almost the full length of Russia, hitting targets both in the far-east and northwest, as Russian warplanes practiced fire on ground targets nearby.

Putin personally launches four ballistic missiles: Kremlin

Russia’s Defense Ministry said bombers took off from three airbases and launched cruise missiles against ground targets.

Russia Conducts Ballistic Missile Tests

Russia conducted several ballistic missile tests on October 26 from “land, air and sea” as part of its strategic nuclear program, the Defense Ministry said.

The Daily Vertical: Pay-To-Play Diplomacy (Transcript)

Sometimes an offhand remark can unintentionally be awkwardly timed. And sometimes that offhand remark — and its awkward timing — can speak volumes. In comments after meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier yesterday, Vladimir Putin said that “despite certain political difficulties” relations between Moscow and Berlin were “not at a standstill.” The Kremlin leader then added that German companies were eager to expand their business with Russia. As Putin and Steinmeier met, the magazine Stern gave us a hint about just how eager they are. Stern reported that prosecutors in Mannheim were opening an investigation into whether a German engineering firm paid 8 million euros in bribes to Russia in return for contracts on the Nord Stream-1 gas pipeline. This, apparently, is what Putin means by expanding business ties. And this is presumably an example of relations not being at a standstill. Putin’s remark and the Stern report are actually two sides of the same coin. The Kremlin leader was effectively offering a bribe — end those pesky sanctions and your business community can make a lot of money with us, never mind that a lot of it will end up off the books. And for Putin, this has the added benefit of using graft and shady deals to establish a network of influence. It’s just another example of how Putin’s Kremlin has weaponized corruption.

Dimitar Bechev | The Reach and Limits of Russian Influence – The American Interest

Everywhere it plays its games, Russia is more an opportunist than a puppet-master. Southeast Europe provides a good case study.

Putin Takes Aim at U.S., West; Threatens New Arms Race, U.S. Media In Russia

President Vladimir Putin threatened a potential new arms race, accusing Washington of wanting out of a key Cold War treaty and warned of new restrictions of U.S. media if American officials pressur…

U.S. Congress Receives List Of Russians Targeted By New Sanctions

The U.S. State Department has provided Congress with a list of Russian companies and intelligence agencies that are likely to be hit with sanctions under a new U.S. law punishing Russia for alleged…

Moscow decries ‘hostility’ as Trump moves toward new Russia sanctions – Chicago Tribune

The Trump administration belatedly took the first steps toward new sanctions on Russian officials to punish Moscow for interfering in the 2016 election. The sanctions were required by a law Trump signed in August. The administration was facing increased criticism after missing an Oct. 1 deadline.

Kremlin: Possible new U.S. sanctions against Russia cause for concern

Possible new U.S. sanctions against Russia are a cause for concern and a reflection of Washington’s unfriendly and even hostile attitude towards Moscow, the Kremlin said on Friday.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s ‘Sleepers’ TV Serial a Disturbing Wake Up Call for Russians, Kirillova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 21 – A new Russian television series, “The Sleepers,” which suggests the CIA is behind murders and terrorist acts in Russia and elsewhere and that its actions justify, indeed require an equally forceful response by the FSB is far more disturbing than programs like “The Anatomy of Protest,” Kseniya Kirillova says. In an essay for Ukraine’s Gulyai Pole, the US-based Russian journalist and commentator says that this latest case of Russian “’agitation via films’ is “not simply to strengthen already existing ‘rules of the game’ but to warn there are going to be new ‘games’ and in the future they will be conducted by [new] rules” ( The premise of this series is that “Russia is flooded with ‘sleeper’ agents of the CIA” who are operating as officials of the foreign and energy ministries and as “’moles’” in the FSB, as teachers and students at MGIMO, and “what is most important practically all opposition bloggers, journalists and human rights activists.” These agents are involved not in the “’banal’ theft of secrets,” she continues, but rather with “constant murders, terrorist actions, kidnappings and torturing of people, the overthrow of regimes, and other evil actions.” The series says the CIA “trains terrorists,” and kills people to create “’sacred victims,’” and is limited only by the heroic actions of the FSB. Any reports that blame the FSB for these crimes, the series insists, is “fake news, created in the CIA to discredit the Chekists and undermine international contracts which completely correspond to the interests of the much-suffering motherland.” The real culprits in all cases are the CIA “sleeper” agents, it says. Indeed, Kirillova continues, it is the CIA “and not the Kremlin” which uses troll factories to stir up trouble and then blames the Kremlin for everything. As one can see, “in this series, literally everything is turned upside down,” and that extends to bloggers and opposition figures who are shown to be fabulously wealthy and beyond the reach of the Russian authorities. The FSB of course is just the opposite too. It is full of real knights who fight for Russia “without fear or favor and are prepared to defend at the price of their own lives to defend the ‘liberals’ who hate them from the cynical American intelligence service, the Russian journalist writes. The writers of the new serial – and it is not the first of its kind although it does go further than earlier ones – insist that “’the story is based on real events,’” thus suggesting that Russians should view what it says not as fantasy but as lightly fictionalized reality and thus act and support those who act on the basis accordingly. And those who have created this series go further: they suggest to viewers that “if you enclunter such things in reality, don’t believe your eyes!” Everything that looks real is in fact manufactured by the CIA to promote dissatisfaction and disloyalty. Its sleepers and not the FSB are killing people for its purposes. It turns out, Kirillova continues, “in Russia where the special services track even the Internet mail of single mothers and sales clerks inclined to opposition, the American intelligence officers feel themselves at home: they kill, they kidnap, they blow up, they torture and they lie.” If one “decodes” the series, then its message is truly frightening. That is because, the commentator concludes, the implication is that in this brave new world, the FSB can use such things confident that it can blame them on the CIA and that it is even justified in doing so because its opponents did these things first.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Only Creation of Multiple Ethnic Russian Republics Can Save Russian Federation, Butakov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 24 – Only the formation of multiple ethnic Russian republics alongside existing and some new non-Russian republics on the territory of the Russian Federation would give that country a chance to survive and to become a democratic federation, according to regionalist Yaroslav Butakov. Many assume no Russian republic could be created because its borders would be extremely complicated and gerrymander much of the country, and others are concerned that any such a republic would not only be “a counterweight to the federal center” but would become a miniature version of the authoritarian system that now exists. But those concerns, he says, can be mitigated if there is not one ethnic Russian republic but seven or eight, something that would seem to be required given that its borders would spread across much of the Russian Federation. Otherwise, he says, “it would inevitably repeat the fate of the existing ‘federation’” ( If there were to be established only a single ethnic Russian republic, Butakov continues, “there are no guarantees that the power center of [such] a republic even if it replaced the existing ‘federal center’ or especially if it did would not begin to conduct [Moscow’s] previous imperial policy toward all the Russian space and its environs.” There is no reason in principle to think that such ethnic Russian republics could not be created, but “there is a very important question: by what path would we come” to such a set of ethnic Russian republics? According to Butakov, this could be avoided only by a complex series of referenda that would govern the voluntary formation of such places. The legal basis for such reformation of the Russian Federation exists: no fundamental constitutional or legal changes would be required beyond the introduction of new names in the list of federal subjects. At present, that happens when two or more subjects combine, but it could be extended to “any existing subject” which would have the right to raise its status to a republic. Such republics could help keep the country together while allowing for more freedom and diversity. Thus, “the Voronezh and Kuban republics could adopt Ukrainian as their second state language. The Yuga Republic could do the same with the languages of the Khants and Mansis.” “And any republic in Siberia could by law establish Siberian as its state language.” “Only by such a path,” Butakov argues, could the common state be preserved for long as a genuinely federal and democratic one” because it would extend “to Russians and at the same time other unrecognized peoples ascribed to Russians” the right to “acquire in this state the status of political subjects.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia’s Next Round of Disintegration Likely to Be More Like 1917 than 1991, Smagin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 24 – The next round of the disintegration of the Russian state, Stanislav Smagin says, is far more likely to resemble what happened in 1917 than what occurred in 1991. That is, the collapse of central authority will lead to regional and not just ethnic secessions and may be followed by the partial and even rapid re-assembly of the country. That is because, the Moscow commentator argues, in 1917, ethnic identities were in most cases relatively weak at least in comparison to 1991 when, because of Soviet promotion of ethnic identities, they were far stronger except for the ethnic Russians who by 1991 identified not ethnically but as Soviets ( Smagin cites the research of A. Savedyev and B. Vingogradov who reported in their boo, “Becoming Russian in Russia,” no more than 30 percent of those the state counted as Russians by nationality were in fact “ethnic Russians” who knew little of “the history, culture, traditions and faith of the Russian people.” That figure was far lower that the case of the non-Russians, especially in the union republics, who were encouraged by their own officials more or less all the time and by Moscow on occasion to think in ethnic terms as well as Soviet ones. But even among these groups, there were many who were effectively not ethnically tied to their nations. As a result, when the central government of the USSR weakened, the Russians were too weak in self-identification to hold the country together or try to reconquer it immediately while the non-Russians in the union republics at least were largely if not completely mobilized on ethnic grounds and claimed independent statehood. Within the Russian Federation, there were some regional movements, most prominently in the Urals, but they did not really take off, Smagin says; and Moscow was gradually able to tighten the noose against them, although it has never completely eliminated regionalist attachments and goals. The situation in Russia 74 years earlier was entirely different, he argues. Russian identity was state focused but when the state disintegrated, Russians split into warring camps and to a large extent moved to promote regional identities like Siberia or Cossack, and most non-Russians, the Balts, Finns, and Poles are the exceptions, were unable to mobilize as effectively. Some were independent for a time, as in the case of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, but they were reconquered by the ideologically driven Red Army (but not by an ideologically defined ethnic Russian nation) as were within four or five years almost all of the former Russian Imperial space. The situation now is more like 1917 than 1991 with respect to ethnic issues, Smagin continues; but the crisis is still some time away because despite the decay of nationality policy, “the situation with regard to national separatism in Russia has still not achieved the level of 1990-1991.” There are three reasons that is the case. First, “the general state crisis has not reached the level” of 26 years ago. Second, “the share of Russians in the Russian Federation is significantly higher than was the case in the USSR,” and despite their passivity, their self-consciousness is greater than it was in 1991 and thus can serve as the basis for moves against the non-Russians. And third, “the former autonomies and republics inside the RSFSR became in the Russian Federation became in the Russian Federation analogues of ‘first-rank’ Soviet republics only a quarter of a century ago,” a third of the time given to the union republics to promote identity and the demand for independence. Chechnya and Tatarstan were partial exceptions, but they have been reined in by force and by geography and clever policies. As a result, he argues, separatism is less an immediate threat than a long-term one, something that Moscow may have to deal with not this year or next but sometime in the future. He makes two further points which again suggest that the future will be more like 1917 than 1991 as far as disintegration is concerned. On the one hand, the government itself is increasingly showing itself incapable of running the country. And on the other, regions are emerging as an even more important factor than ethnic republics. Smagin points to three in particular: Kaliningrad, the Cossack North Caucasus, and the Urals in general and Sverdlovsk Oblast in particular. All of these pose challenges to the territorial integrity of Russia because they are supporting alternate paths of development and even more important alternate identities, not so much ethnic as regional.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Muslims have No Choice but to Defend Non-Russian Languages, Mufti Suggests

Paul Goble Staunton, October 24 – Vladimir Putin has managed to provoke into opposition to his language policies not just civic activists and republic governments but also Islamic leaders: The mufti of Tatarstan has declared that his Muslim Spiritual Directorate “has decided to get involved in the struggle for the preservation of the Tatar language.” Kamil Samigullin says that “Islam as has been the case in the most difficult moments in the life of the Tatar people is again forced to stand in defense of the Tatar language. I am deeply convinced,” he adds, “that native language is one of the greatest gifts of the Most High” ( Today, because it is under attack and at risk, the mufti argues, it “again needs our defense.” On the one hand, the Tatar mufti’s words reflect the very special position of the Tatar language in Russian Islam. For decades, the mosques in Moscow and many other places were known as “Tatar mosques” because the language used in them was Tatar rather than Russian or Arabic. However, they are likely to be echoed by other muftis in other republics as well. But on the other hand, the mufti’s words mean that the opponents of Putin’s language policy have acquired an important new ally, one whose strength may pose an even greater challenge to him that the civic activists and transform what had been a secular issue into a religious one, especially give Russian Orthodox support for Putin’s ideas. And thus, as a result of his clumsy and heavy-handed approach, the Kremlin leader has set the stage for a religious conflict in Russia far more serious than any it has seen in the last century, a fight that will likely do more to transform the political and social life of Russia than many of the other developments that routinely receive more attention.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia Will Never Be an Orthodox Iran Because It has ‘Traditionalism without Traditions,’ Krashennnikov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 21 – Many Russians fear that nationalist radicals are on their way to transforming Russia into an Orthodox Christian version of Iran; but their fears are misplaced, Fyodor Krasheninnikov says, Russia has officially promoted “traditionalism” without the traditions in the population such a state would require. In a Snob commentary, the Yekaterinburg analyst says that “throughout the world, conservatism is the struggle for all that remains of what was the case in the good old days.” It agenda is relatively fixed over long periods of time because it reflects the values, views and agendas of a significant segment of the population ( But because of the Soviet system’s attack over seven decades on what might be traditional values, Krasheninnikov says, the situation in Russia is very different. There isn’t the widespread support for traditional values; instead, there is the promotion of traditionalism by elites to defend their own power positions. And that explains, he continues, why those behind the promotion of traditionalism, Russian clericals and conservative intellectuals, have not been able to come up with any clearly defined or attractive political program. They can offer “fantasies about the rebirth of monarchy,” but “there is no program, only a desire to continue to dominate society.” What is going on can be easily seen if one considers the nature of traditionalism and conservatism in the US and the nature of the 1979 Iranian revolution and its consequences, Krasheninnikov says. “In the US, traditionalists of all kinds operate not on bureaucrats and ‘siloviki’ but on millions of those who in the evenings read the Bible and each Sunday go to church, perhaps with a gun in a holster but at the time of elections vote for conservatively inclined politicians.” They have values, and they support them. “In Russia,” in contrast, the commentator continues, “there are hardly any clerical conservatives in the form of a multi-million-strong community of socially active people.” What does exist are attempts by those in power to link post-Soviet behavior with religious ideas. Not surprisingly, this kind of conservatism is “fruitless” despite enormous effort by the authorities. That can be clearly seen in what is happening now: those opposed to the film Mathilda are calling on prosecutors and officials to stop it because they appear to understand that ordinary people are completely uninterested in this “monarchist cargo cult” and would not respond to appeals to block its showing in theaters. But the appeals of the opponents of Mathilda have been so dramatic and have been given so much coverage by the government’s media, that ever more Russians and perhaps others fear that “soon Russia will become ‘an Orthodox Iran.’” People who say that only display their ignorance of Iran and of Russia as well, the Yekaterinburg analyst says. “The truth consists of this: in Iran at the times of the pro-Western Shah Mohammed Rez Pahlevi, the absolute majority of the population consisted of practicing Muslims. Feel the difference: it was not Ayatollah Khomeini who on coming to power forced Iranians to go to the mosques. It was just the reverse” because the Iranians were committed Shiites. “The Iranian revolution occurred not because the religious leaders called the population to submit to the shah and his regime and it imposed Islam on the people from above. On the contrary, Islam in the shah’s Iran became a banner of mass social, political and even moral protest against the shah’s corrupted, westernized and repressive regime.” According to Krasheninnikov, “present-day Russia is more the shah’s Iran in reverse: we have a small stratum of churched officials, siloviki, major enterprises, and clerics drowning in wealth who … are calling millions of their fellow citizens who are scarcely making ends meet to repent before the emperor who was overthrown a century ago.” Orthodoxy, of course, is full of martyrs and saints, “who lived all their lives in poverty and squalor, but the oligarchs and the prosecutors aren’t trying to unite people in emulation of them.” Moreover, as some appear to have forgotten, “in the final analysis, the symbol of Christianity, including Orthodoxy is not the last emperor but Jesus Christ.” Those living in luxury today prefer to forget that but it may be that “perhaps they themselves do not understand that the clerical-conservative version of Imperial Orthodoxy with all this carnival cult of the overthrown tsar, rickety Cossacks and officials who have only recently been baptized is least of all suitable for mass consumption?” In some respects, their lack of understanding is a good thing. “If after 20 years of fat life in a regime of maximum well-being, our clericals and conservatives can offer society only a caricature scandal about the intimate life of Nicholas II, there really isn’t anything to be afraid of” from that direction. Instead, all this deserves only bitter laughter.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ten ‘Shocking Predictions’ for Russia over the Next Six Months

Paul Goble Staunton, October 27 – In Russia, no one can be certain of the past let alone the future, but Moscow writer Dmitry Milin today offers what he calls “10 shocking predictions” about Russia in the near future. Even if he is wrong on one or more of these — and he almost certainly will be– they make a useful checklist of possibilities ( The ten, some of which appear completely fantastic but some of which seem not entirely improbable, include: 1. Putin wins re-election with 35 to 38 million votes, the smallest number in the history of Russian presidential elections because of low turnout. Kseniya Sobchak finishes second, and her support throws the existing political parties of the country into crisis. 2. During the upcoming presidential campaign, so much compromising material will be published about Putin and his entourage that he will be seriously weakened, possibly leading him to leave office before the end of his new term. 3. Aleksey Navalny won’t be allowed to but, but after the March 2018 election, he will be allowed to “register his marginal opposition party.” 4. “Medvedev will move to St. Petersburg after the elections where he will head a unified Constitutional-Supreme Court and carry out judicial reform which will most likely be more successful than not.” 5. One of Medvedev’s people will replace Poltavchenko as governor of St. Petersburg, and that city “will become ‘the liberal capital’ of Russia, a place of growth in an otherwise stagnating Russia and thus a point of attraction for investment and cadres “from throughout Northern Europe.” 6. The crisis of the existing political parties will lead to the appearance of a strong new party, “the Russian analogue to ‘the Party of the Regions,’” and its rise will push Russia in the direction of being “a real federation,” something which “to the surprise of many will strengthen the unity of the country.” 7. “Moscow will lose the status of being the only capital city: judicial power will pass to St. Petersburg, the State Duma to Nizhny Novgorod, and the Federation Council (which will be directly elected) to Kazan.” 8. The US will introduce investment sanctions on Russia which will lead to a rise in interest rates, a devaluation of the ruble, and money reforms. 9. The Russian stock mark will fall to about 500, but having reached that “’bottom’” will then began a slow by confident growth fueled by private investments by the population. 10. The pension age will rise to 65 for both men and women. Efforts to get Russians to save for retirement through state accounts will fail but instead lead to the rebirth of independent investment banks, “which in turn will lead to the growth of long-term investments in the economy of Russia.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Many Russians Back Existing System but Fear Putin’s Policies are Too Risky, Morozov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 22 – Most commentators accept that Vladimir Putin will easily win re-election as president but suggest that both the level of participation and the number of votes cast for him and his opponent will reflect a division between those who support the Kremlin leader and his system and those who oppose both. But Russian blogger Aleksandr Morozov suggests there is a third group that is going to play a major role in determining the level of participation and the mix of votes: Russians who generally support the existing system in Russia but fear that Putin is taking too many risks to maintain it ( The democratic opposition will vote for the opposition candidates because no boycott can or will be organized, the blogger says. But any significantly low turnout would necessarily reflect something besides their opposition. It would reflect a decision by those loyal to the system but afraid of Putin’s actions to not take part in supporting him despite knowing he’ll win. That won’t “inflict any serious harm on t eh so-called legitimation of the regime because it is legitimated in other ways than via elections,” Morozov says. But it would have consequences because it would signal how many loyalists actually feel and point to their desire for a change in Putin’s policies in the future. Such people aren’t going to want to vote for Putin’s opponents – no one will remember them or the tiny percentages they will gain from the voters, he says – but they may not want to remain unquestioning backers of the incumbent Kremlin leader even if they broadly support the existing Russian system to which they owe their well-being. And there are a lot of such people: “Without any sociology but simply on the basis of personal experience, we know that there exist many people who consider that ‘the system on the whole is good’ but that the policies of Putin personally have become too risky.” Such Russians, he continues, “are not supporters of ‘normative democracy,’ they consider that ‘Crimea is Russian’ and that the conflict with the West has its own deep roots. Precisely they are the basis of Putinism for the entire period between 2000 and 2014,” the Russian blogger continues. That system “continues to provide them with significant economic benefits, and they are grateful to Putin for the entire period of his rule, during which they have achieved a standard of living which allows them ‘to live in a worthy fashion,’” Morozov argues. And these people, many paid by the state directly, form “no less than 20 million voters.” But if they had no questions for the powers earlier, now they do, he says. Why does Russia need to continue to fight in Ukraine and Syria? Why does it have to set itself against the West in all things? And so on. For them, “the risks are becoming too great and there is no sense of a secure future.” That is why some of them may not want to vote for Putin even if they won’t vote for his opponents, Morozov says. For personal and corporate reasons, they aren’t going to become oppositionists; but at least some of them are going to be less willing to sing on as continuing supporters of someone whose actions they fear will hurt them. Such people, the blogger argues, simultaneously “continue to support Putin (so to speak, the Putin of their youth), but understand that they must not ‘invest’ in him in the future. That reflects the fact that “Putin has not created a comfortable ‘Brezhnevistm’ in which ever more of the masses could over 10 to 15 years become successful.” “On the contrary,” Morozov says. Putin is undermining the basis of his earlier contract with the population – non-participation in politics in exchange for a better life – and taking actions that in the minds of many Russians point to the inevitability of a catastrophe in which they will suffer. Such people mostly can’t emigrate or quick their jobs, but they very much “would like to return to the old social contract of ‘loyalty in exchange for stability’” and an agreement by the powers that be – Putin in particular – not to rock the board and threaten what they have achieved since 2000. They have only a single good option, Morozov says. They know they must “accept the further common fate” of living with Putin but at the same time they want to send a signal that the risk taking must end. And they can do that only by not voting and thus driving down the level of participation in the March 2018 elections.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Rejection of Revolution Not a Mandate for Stagnation,’ Nezavisimaya Gazeta Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 24 – Vladimir Putin twice last week spoke of evolution as “a positive alternative to revolution,” the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta say; but in fact, he has taken the rejection of revolution as an alternative to be de facto a mandate for stagnation in Russia rather than a call for gradual change. Putin’s speech to the Valdai Conference was promoted in advance as something that would contain “very important and interesting” things, the editors say; but his “words about revolution and evolution are possibly the only significant message addressed to the audience inside the country” ( The Russian authorities, the paper continues, are worried about “two revolutions” – a technological one which Putin ever more frequently says Russia must prepare for and adapt to, and an “orange” one that the powers that be are doing everything they can to suppress by repressing various groups in the population. The Kremlin doesn’t assert that the dissatisfaction many Russians feel is baseless; it only insists that the mobilization of that dissatisfaction is the work of “’enemies of Russia’ and is being used by them to destabilize the situation in the country,” the editors of the independent Moscow daily say. If one starts with those assumptions, they continue, “Putin’s message sounds approximately like this: it isn’t necessary to repeat the mistakes of the past, that is, of 1917. Instead of a revolutionary, that is a radical, change of the powers that be, what is needed is constructive dialogue. The authorities are listening, Putin suggested, and “they will gradually solve” all the problems. The current regime may not be “ideal or correspond” to democratic norms but give those in power time and the society the chance to grow up and mature, and everything will work out. Nezavisimaya gazeta acknowledges that “many reforms in Russia have really been achieved from above. But this hardly means that those who dissatisfied with the authorities will find the president’s message convincing,” given that many of them want not specific outcomes but rights, freedoms and the genuine functioning of the Russian Constitution. Such people, the editors continues, want the authorities to respect and implement those rights and they won’t see the authorities’ call for putting things off and allowing the government to solve everything as a solution. Rather the reverse. They want to be subjects of political life and not just objects of the politics of others. Unfortunately, the editors conclude, “the governmental, political and institutional system in Russia is in a state when its transformation almost completely depends on the will of the ruling elite. But the longer it rules, the fewer will remain the stimuli directing this will and the more the promised evolution will resemble stagnation.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Are We Worse than Muscovites?’ Russians Beyond Ring Road Angred by Pension Boost in Capital

Paul Goble Staunton, October 25 — Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s announcement that Muscovites will get bigger pensions, something experts say the government lacks the funds to match for those outside the capital, has sparked outrage among Russians in the oblasts, krays, and republics outside of Moscow and may even provoke a new round of protests. The Urals news agency,, announced today that Sobyanin’s action is only intensifying the stereotype in much of Russia that “Moscow is stealing from the regions” and that the government can’t or doesn’t want to “improve the life of elderly people” unless they live in the capital ( In a recent interview in Vedomosti, Sobyanin said that the real incomes of Muscovites had fallen and that this had hit those in the lowest income groups level. He said that it is absolutely necessary that pensions and other benefits for these groups go up, something that will require the infusion of massive federal government funds. Natalya Zubarevich, head of regional programs at the Independent Institute of Social Policy, says that no other region of Russia could get away with making such proposals and having a chance that they will be funded either from its own tax base or from the federal government concerned about attitudes in the capital. Nikita Maslennikov at the Institute of Contemporary Development says that Moscow lives in “a totally different economic reality” than other regions do. Its tax base is twice that of St. Petersburg’s and vastly more than any other region. But the city has problems in funding as well, and boosting pensions the extent Sobyanin proposes may be hard or even impossible. The central government may want to increase pensions in Moscow for political reasons, but doing so, Yevgeny Fedorov of the Duma’s budget committee says, Russians in the regions are asking some entirely reasonable questions: Why are we being treated worse? And how much more will our regions be robbed? “It is obvious,” the deputy says, “that the principle of government arrangements and the system of relations which have emerged between Moscow and the federal center must be changed.” Oleg Ivanov, head of the Center for Managing Social Conflicts, said that “the Moscow initiative may play the role of a spark” in an already tense social situation. “When all are doing badly, it is psychologically easier to take. But when one gets money, even not very much, and the others don’t, this inevitably leads to a crisis.” Initiatives like Sobyanin’s, Ivanov says, “intensify the divisions in society and strengthen the stereotype according to which Moscow is a separate state within the country.”

Second Katyn | How the Soviet authorities fired on a peaceful demonstration in Novocherkassk – and who kept the memory of these events. Report by Daniel Turovsky

June 2, 1962 in Novocherkassk – a factory town near Rostov-on-Don – the military shot a demonstration of workers who demanded better living conditions and lower prices. Killed more than 25 people; more than 85 were injured. For decades, the Soviet authorities hid information about what happened; seven demonstrators were shot, more than a hundred – sentenced to ten years in prison. The truth about Novocherkassk began to seep into the press only during perestroika, and the investigation of the events surrounding the shooting was carried out after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The special medal “Medusa” Daniil Turovsky went to Novocherkassk, met with people who for 55 years kept the memory of the events of 1962, studied the materials of the criminal case, books, films and documents – and told the full story of the Novocherkassk shooting: from terrible events in the square in front of the city committee to attempts to find the graves of the dead and rebury their remains.

‘Desperate Pensioner Asks Putin to Send Him a Coffin’ and other neglected Russian stories | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

The flood of news stories from a country as large, diverse and strange as the Russian Federation often appears to be far too large for anyone to keep up with. But there needs to be a way to mark those which can’t be discussed in detail but which are too indicative of broader developments to ignore. Consequently, Windows on Eurasia each week presents a selection of these other and typically neglected stories at the end of each week. This is the 105th such compilation, and it is again a double issue with 26 from Russia and 13 from Russia’s neighbors. Even then, it is far from complete, but perhaps one or more of these stories will prove of broader interest. 1. Putin Says West Won 1917 Russian Revolution Vladimir Putin finally found a way to deal with the 1917 revolutions in Russia: he told the Valdai Club conference that the West had won them because they had weakened Russia, on the one hand, and introduced a certain social discipline into Western capitalism, on the other ( While Putin is set for re-election, ever more commentators in Russia say that the interesting question is what Russia will be like in 2024 and who will finally succeed him then ( Meanwhile, some Russians are taking advantage of his incumbency by monetarizing his image and even, according to one report, his distinctive smell (

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s Archaic Values Behind HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Russia, Experts Say

Paul Goble Staunton, October 23 – The Russian government’s promotion of “obscurantism” and discrimination against high risk groups is why there are an estimated two million people are suffering from HIV and AIDS in that country, and Moscow’s opposition to changing course is why their number is likely to increase and more will die, Ilya Varlamov says. In an Ekho Moskvy commentary entitled “How the Obscurantists are Destroying Russia,” the Moscow writer says that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is the product of hostility to homosexuals and drug users and the presence in senior government positions who call for “curing people with holy water” rather than medicines ( A recent conference in Berlin of HIV/AIDS experts noted that last year, the number of new HIV cases in Russia registered with the authorities had passed the 100,000 mark. The Western specialists said they were convinced that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe now threatens those countries and Western European ones as well. The experts drew on UN figures which show that between 2010 and 2016, the number of HIV/AIDS cases fell by 29 percent in Africa and by nine percent in North America and Western Europe but in Eastern Europe and Russia and Ukraine dominated that figure, it rose by 60 percent over the same period. The specialists described this as “a catastrophe’ and offered to lend their expertise, something the Russian government has rejected or at least restricted. Russia under Putin “prefers to struggle with the illness by propagandizing family values,” something that statistics show does not work nearly as well as medical intervention. “The root of all problems, the specialists see in discrimination against those in high risk groups, above all drug users and homosexuals. [In Russia] hatred to these groups is pushed almost at the state level. And therefore it would be strange in such a situation to expect any real help from bureaucrats.” Some Russian officials are aware of this problem. Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal Center for Combatting HIV/AIDS, says that “recently in Russia, the religiosity of the population has intensified and sometimes taken very conservative forms which do not correspond to the contemporary development of society.” Western experts concur. It seems to be the case, Varlamov says, that “Russian bureaucrats think that if you’re not a gay or a drug user, then HIV will pass you by,” and that if Russia gets rid of these groups, it will “again become healthy and happy.” But that is nonsense: During the first half of this year, more Russians became infected by heterosexual contact than by other means combined. Officially, there are a million people in Russia infected with HIV and AIDS, one in every 140. But in some places, the number is as great as one in every 20 or five percent. Many don’t know they are infected and so do not seek treatment early on when a cure is most possible. And so the best estimates are that there are about two million Russians suffering from this disease. If they had a government that was concerned about their fate rather than pushing obscurantism, far more of them would live.

Russian Journalists To Sue Security Service Over Demand For Telegram Encryption Keys

Two prominent Russian journalists say they will sue their country’s main security agency over its demand that Telegram hand over encryption keys enabling authorities to decipher encoded messages tr…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Greatest Threat to Russians Now Comes from Zombified Lumpen Putin Regime has Created and Supported, Babchenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 25 – Russian realities have changed, Arkady Babchenko says, and now the greatest threat to life and limb of those with independent views comes not from the FSB or other force structures but from the zombified lumpen the Putin regime has encouraged to take out its aggression on those the Kremlin doesn’t like, Arkady Babchenko says. After September 11, Americans recognized that the situation had changed and took actions to improve their security; but Russians have failed to see that their situation has changed as well as a result of the Putin regime’s cultivation and legitimation of hatred and aggression ( Indeed, the rise of this group of people quite capable of attacking anyone the Kremlin doesn’t like at any time and in ways that allows the regime some plausible deniability has pushed the FSB and other security agencies into second place as far as threats to the personal security of Russians, the journalist says. In Russia today, Babchenko continues, “the chief ideology … has become hatred and aggression,” and the lumpen has accepted that and is now acting upon it. Other Russians must protect themselves at work and at home and demand that their employers protect them rather than continue to act on the basis of the false premise that everything is just as it was. There are all kinds of things that employers and individuals can do to protect themselves, and Russians should avail themselves of all the legal means of self-defense and insist that their employers, if they are like Ekho Moskvy and likely to be targeted by the lumpen, do the same. Those who work for government outlets don’t face the same threats, at least so far. “Defending one’s life and health is the primary obligation of every individual,” Babchenko continues, even when that requires when circumstances change, adding to one’s own burdens. That is something Russians should have seen coming and acted upon at least after conditions began to change a few years ago. Given the drumbeat of attacks on people in Moscow and elsewhere, this is not paranoia, as some might think, the Russian journalist says; it is experience. And Russians need to recognize that “reality has changed” and they must change with it or face ever more disasters ahead.

Freedom of speech and Russia Today | Coffee House

Freedom of speech and Russia Today on Coffee House | Russia does much worse than suppressing dissident opinion and manufacturing fake news. Putin has aided…

Fights in Russia: Putin’s Acolytes Are Determined to Crush the Opposition, One Activist at a Time

Kremlin loyalists are attacking activists campaigning against Putin before next year’s election with impunity.

‘Atmosphere Of Hate’ Or ‘Psycho’ Attack? Russian Journalist’s Stabbing Triggers Debate Over Vilification Of Critical Voices

The stabbing of Russian journalist Tatyana Felgengauer by a purportedly mentally unstable assailant has prompted renewed controversy over what Kremlin critics call state-sanctioned vilification of …

Russian Journalist Out Of Coma; Kremlin Blames Attack On ‘Madman’

Russia’s Ekho Moskvy radio says a prominent journalist who was stabbed in the throat by an attacker has been operated on and transferred to an intensive-care unit of a Moscow hospital.

Journalist With Russia’s Ekho Moskvy Stabbed, Hospitalized

An unidentified male assailant has rushed into the Moscow headquarters of news radio station Ekho Moskvy and stabbed a deputy editor in chief and anchor, Tatyana Felgengauer.

The Daily Vertical: Declaring Open Season On Journalists (Transcript)

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.

Novaya Gazeta, Citing Attacks On Journalists, To Arm Its Newsroom Staff

The editor of Russia’s most prominent opposition newspaper says he intends to arm his staff with guns that fire rubber bullets in light of recent attacks on journalists.

Russian independent newspaper says it will arm its staff to guard against further attacks — Meduza

Following a shocking attack at an independent radio station earlier this week, the chief editor of the newspaper Novaya Gazeta announced on Wednesday that he plans to “arm” his newsroom with air guns to protect itself.

Stabbed Russian Radio Journalist In Coma After Attack |

Tatyana Felgenhauer, 32, was stabbed in the throat Monday after an assailant broke into independent radio broadcaster Ekho Moskvy’s office.

A man walked into a Moscow radio station and stabbed a famous Russian journalist in the neck. How’s how it happened — Meduza

Sergey Buntman, another deputy chief editor at Ekho Moskvy, told Meduza that the man entered the building from Novyi Arbat, where he sprayed gas from a cannister into the security guard’s face (injuring one of his eyes), and made his way to the 14th floor, where Ekho’s studio is located. According to the station’s chief editor, Alexey Venediktov, the assailant then stabbed Felgenhauer in the neck. “The attacker didn’t scream anything. Everything was quiet and he was silent. He walked up, grabbed her, and delivered the blow,” Buntman says. The radio station’s security guards then detained the man. Buntman says the assailant managed to injure one of the guards when they were subduing him, inflicting a small flesh wound.

Moscow Theater Director Said Detained In Serebrennikov Case

The head of a theater in the heart of Moscow has been detained in connection with a high-profile case in which another prominent Russian director has been charged with embezzlement.

Russian police officer gets into heated argument with Navalny supporter and threatens to murder him — Meduza

A police officer in Korolyov, outside Moscow, threatened to murder a Navalny campaign worker earlier this week, after a heated political debate at a police station.

The Weinstein Scandal, Seen Through Russian Eyes, Is a Lesson in Conspiracy Thinking | The New Yorker

Masha Gessen on Russian television’s response to the Harvey Weinstein sexual-harassment scandal, and what it says about conspiracy theories in Russia and the U.S.

Russia’s Favored Outlet Is an Online News Giant. YouTube Helped. – To Inform is to Influence

By DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI and NICHOLAS CONFESSORE OCT. 23, 2017 SAN FRANCISCO — When the state-backed Russian news channel RT became the first news organization to surpass one billion views on YouTube in 2013, it marked the achievement with a retrospective of its most popular videos and a special guest — one of the Google-owned site’s senior executives. Robert Kyncl, a YouTube…

Russian Orthodox Faithful Hold Prayer Vigil At Gala Premiere Of Matilda

About a dozen conservative Russian Orthodox protesters have prayed outside St. Petersburg’s famed Mariinsky Theater to protest the showing of a film depicting an affair between a teenaged ballerina…

Russian Soldier Kills Four Comrades In Chechnya

A Russian soldier has killed four of his colleagues at a base in Chechnya before being shot dead, the National Guard has said.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: 150 Years Ago, Tyutchev Invented ‘Russophobia’ to Describe the Attitudes of Some Russians to Other Russians

The Morning Vertical, October 25, 2017

Prominent Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin says that a fellow activist has died two months after an attack in which he was beaten with a metal pipe. A court in the Russian city of Sochi has jailed two activists supporting opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s presidential election campaign. Vladimir Putin’s circle of close friends and relatives controls a combined wealth of nearly $24 billion, although Putin has kept himself “officially” clean in terms of financial assets, says a joint report by a global investigative group and an independent Russian newspaper. Socialite and opposition-minded journalist Ksenia Sobchak has called on the authorities to release all political prisoners as she gave her first press conference since announcing she will run in the presidential election set for March. Russia’s Ekho Moskvy radio says Tatyana Felgengauer, a prominent journalist who was stabbed in the throat by an attacker, has been operated on, has come out of a coma, and has been transferred to an intensive-care unit of a Moscow hospital. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is set to meet separately with Russian Putin, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and human rights activists when he visits Moscow today. A U.S.-based security research firm says Russia, and the former Soviet region more broadly, is the single largest source for foreign militants fighting in Syria and Iraq. Russia has vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have extended for one year the work of international inspectors investigating chemical-weapons attacks in Syria. A new wave of cyberattacks seeking to extract ransoms from computer users hit a major Ukrainian international airport as well as the Kyiv subway ticketing system, and three Russian media outlets. Republicans in the U.S. Congress have announced a new investigation into an Obama-era deal in which a Russian company bought a Canadian firm that owned some 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies. Members of the Russian performance-art collective Pussy Riot have carried out a protest in support of jailed Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov at Trump Tower in New York City. Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika has urged U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a criminal case against British investor William Browder, the man who had initiated the Magnitsky Act, which sanctions Russians for alleged human rights abuses. Some Bulgarian Air Force pilots have refused to fly their Soviet-built MiG-29 jets in planned training exercises, citing safety concerns with the outdated aircraft. Former Georgian President and ex-Odesa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili has called upon his supporters in Ukraine to protect him from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Kremlin Foe Yashin Says Russian Opposition Activist Dies After Attack

A prominent Russian opposition politician says that a fellow activist has died two months after an attack in which he was beaten with a metal pipe.

Navalny Campaign Activists Jailed In Sochi

A court in the Russian city of Sochi has jailed two activists supporting opposition politician Aleksei Navalny’s presidential election campaign.

Report: Putin’s ‘Inner Circle’ Worth Nearly $24 Billion

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s circle of close friends and relatives controls a combined wealth of nearly $24 billion, although Putin has kept himself “officially” clean in terms of financial a…

German, Russian Presidents To Hold Talks In Moscow

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is set to meet separately with Russian President Vladimir Putin, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and human rights activists when he visits Moscow on…

Russia’s Incredibly Shrinking Banking Sector

Russia’s zombie banks will be taken out, one by one.

Philippines, Russia sign two military deals

Thousands of assault rifles and helmets were among the military gear Russia donated to the Philippines in a bid to widen its arms market in Southeast Asia at a time when Manila is seeking to diversify weapons systems, officials said on Wednesday.

Russians Mark 15 Years Since Theater Siege, Botched Rescue

A few hundred people gathered near a Moscow theater to commemorate victims of a deadly hostage crisis in 2002, with some still-grieving relatives bitterly criticizing the state over a botched rescue operation.

That Was the Moscow That Was

If you lived in Moscow in the 90s, you’ll remember this

Wreckage Of Russian Helicopter Lost In Arctic With Eight Aboard Possibly Found

Norwegian rescuers believe they may have located the sunken wreckage of a Russian helicopter that went missing on October 26 with eight people aboard off the coast of the Arctic Svalbard archipelag…

Woman boiled alive in a tank of caramel | New York Post

A Russian woman was boiled alive in caramel after the sticky substance gushed into a tank she was cleaning at a candy factory, a report said Tuesday. Natalia…

UAWire – Kremlin believes Russia’s new Iskander missiles will help to contain nuclear threats

The capabilities of the Iskander-M ballistic missile system make it possible to repel even a nuclear threat, which is relevant in light the …

Pictures: Effects of Nuclear Bomb Testing in Kazakhstan

A remote area of Kazakhstan was once home to nearly a quarter of the world’s nuclear testing. The impact on its inhabitants has been devastating.

Crimean Tatar Leaders ‘Freed,’ Fly To Turkey

Crimean Tatar leaders Akhtem Chiygoz and Ilmi Umerov, who were sentenced to prison by Russian courts on the occupied peninsula in September, have been released from custody and traveled to Turkey, …

Crimean Tatar Leader Vows To Return To Russian-Held Homeland

Crimean Tatar leader Ilmi Umerov, who was released from custody in his Russian-occupied homeland this week along with colleague Akhtem Chiygoz, has vowed to “try to return” to the Black Sea peninsula.

Freed From Russian Custody, Crimean Tatar Leader Vows To Fight On

Crimean Tatar leader Akhtem Chiygoz has vowed to press on with his fight to end the detainment of political prisoners in Russia and the annexed region of Crimea less than a day after his own release.

Putin’s approach to Crimean Tatar leaders like Brezhnev’s toward Soviet refuseniks, Portnikov says | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

Vladimir Putin’s freeing and then expulsion abroad of Ilmi Umerov and Akhtem Chiygoz, two leaders of the Crimean Tatar Milli Mejlis, follows the scenario the Soviet Union used under Leonid Brezhnev when it expelled political opponents and Jewish refuseniks, Vitaly Portnikov says. That is, the Ukrainian commentator continues, Moscow did so “secretly, by secret decrees and to that Western country which was prepared to serve as a place of asylum or transit.” Indeed, one can say, Portnikov argues that Umerov and Chizygoz are also ‘prisoners of Zion,’ with this difference: their people is already in its historical motherland and seeks recognition of its right to determine the fate of Crimea without ‘polite little green men’” and other Putinist inventions.

Belarus Reports

Ukrainian Armed Forces’ General Staff: 5,8 Thousand Russian Soldiers Remained In Belarus After West-2017 Drills – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

Russian military entered the joint Russian-Belarusian military teams.

Hundreds Rally In Minsk To Condemn Hazing In Army And Tax On ‘Social Parasites’

Several hundred people took part in a protest rally in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on October 21 to condemn hazing in the armed forces.

Russian Priest Goes on Trial In Belarus On Pimping Charge

A Russian Orthodox priest charged with attempted pimping and human-trafficking goes on trial in Belarus on October 25.

Making Money In Minsk: Belarus Brushes Up Soviet Image

With its Soviet-style economy in shambles, Belarus has begun welcoming private investors — once called “leeches” by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. (Reuters)

Russia To Supply Air-Defense Missile System Tor-M2 [SA-15 GAUNTLET] To Belarus – Charter’97 :: News from Belarus – Belarusian News – Republic of Belarus – Minsk

The air-defense missile system Thor-M2 is an effective means of destruction of aircraft, helicopters, guided missiles and other precision weapons. The Ministry of Defense of Belarus has signed a contract with the Russian concern Almaz-Antey for the supply of one more battery of the Thor-M2 air-defense missile system, “according to the Agreement between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus on the development of military-technical cooperation as of December 10, 2009,” Radio Svaboda reports. According to the ministry, the first batteries of the Thor-M2 air-defense missile system were put into service by the 120th air defense missile brigade of the Air Force and air defense forces in 2011 and 2012. In early 2014, the Thor-M2 air-defense missile system consisted of three batteries. At the end of last year, 740th anti-aircraft missile brigade got this air-defense missile system into service. The Thor-M2 air-defense missile system is an effective means of destruction of aircraft, helicopters, aerodynamic unmanned aerial vehicles, guided missiles and other elements of precision weapons that fly at medium, small and extremely low altitudes, in a complex air environment. Distinctive features of Thor-M2 – high maneuverability, mobility, short reaction times, automation of combat operations, efficiency of shooting at a wide range of aims.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

Frozen Conflict Keeps Moldovan Farmers From Their Land

The frozen conflict over Moldova’s breakaway region of Transdniester has taken a heavy toll on people on both sides of the boundary. For thousands of people on the Chisinau-controlled side, the ongoing dispute has cut off access to the farmland that provides their livelihoods. (RFE/RL’s Moldovan Service)

Video Shows ‘Fatal’ Beating Of Moldovan Traffic Violator

When traffic cops stopped him for speeding in Moldova back in August, Andrei Braguta’s ordeal was just beginning.

Ukraine Reports

Bombing In Kyiv Kills Two, Wounds Lawmaker

An explosion in the Ukrainian capital late on October 25 killed two people and wounded several others, including lawmaker Ihor Mosiychuk of the nationalist opposition Radical Party. The head of the party called the bombing a “terrorist attack.” (RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service)

Lawmaker Injured, Two Killed In ‘Terrorist’ Bombing In Kyiv, Police Say

A bomb blast that Ukrainian authorities have described as a terrorist act killed two people and injured five others in Kyiv, including lawmaker Ihor Mosiychuk of the nationalist opposition Radical …

Second victim of Oct 25 bomb blast in Kyiv dies | UNIAN

A second victim of a bomb blast in Kyiv on Wednesday, October 25, which is considered to be an assassination attempt on Member of Parliament from the Radical Party Ihor Mosiychuk's life, as a result of which his bodyguard died of wounds, has also died, according to ex-MP Vasyl Horbal. News 26 October from UNIAN.

Assassination attempt on Mosiychuk: video of the blast published, – – Assassination attempt on Mosiychuk: video of the blast published –

CCTV-video spots the moment of the deadly blast

Assassination attempt on Mosiychuk: prosecutor voices major versions of the deadly blast, – – Assassination attempt on Mosiychuk: prosecutor voices major versions of the deadly blast –

One of the versions is that the assassination attempt was organized by the Russian special services agencies

MP Mosiychuk: Contractors of attempt on my life are based in Moscow – Perpetrators of attempt on my life based in Moscow, – Mosiychuk –

MP Mosiychuk: Contractors of attempt on my life are based in Moscow

“I believe the masterminds are in Moscow, doers are in Kyiv,” – MP Mosiichuk made a statement

26.10.17 11:53 – I believe the masterminds are in Moscow, doers are in Kyiv, – MP Mosiichuk made a statement Radical Party MP Ihor Mosiichuk regained consciousness after a surgery and made an official statement. View news.

Investigators name three major scenarios behind terrorist attack in Kyiv – 26.10.2017 14:00 — Ukrinform News

Investigators are considering three major scenarios behind a terrorist attack outside the office of the Espreso.TV channel in Kyiv, in which two people were killed.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine asks Russia to extradite the suspect of the contract murder of former MP of Russia State Duma Denis Voronenkov Vladimir Tyurin to Ukraine –

Prosecutor General’s Office applies for extradition of Voronenkov’s murder contractor

Ukraine Expects Trump to Approve Arms Deliveries – Foreign Policy

Ukrainian lawmakers are optimistic that the White House will give the green light for long-sought weapons.

U.S. wants Ukraine to prevail in its war, – Yovanovitch –

U.S. wants Ukraine to prevail in its war, – Yovanovitch

The US provided Ukraine with the military support in the amount of 750 million dollars during last three years –

US provided Ukraine with military support in amount of 750 million dollars

OSCE observers record transport “Cargo 200” leaving for Russia –

The funeral van proceeded to the Russian Federation from the territory of the republics

Russia Warns Ukraine Against Recovering Oil Off The Coast Of Crimea |

Russia aired a video of an air strike drill meant to warn Ukraine against attempts to recover oil rigs off the coast of Crimea

Ukraine to enhance security at military bases to protect assets from aerial threats

Ukraine plans to create an enhanced aerial reconnaissance system to boost security measures at military facilities at risk of attack, according to the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. News 20 October from UNIAN.

InformNapalm identifies over 1,000 Russian military personnel in Donbas – 26.10.2017 14:34 — Ukrinform News

InformNapalm international volunteer intelligence community identified more than 1,000 regular soldiers and officers of the Russian Armed Forces who have been involved in the aggression against Ukraine in Donbas.

Ukraine rebuilds Tomashevsky Bridge destroyed in Donbas war

Tomashevsky Bridge over the Siverskyi Donets river in Luhansk region, which was destroyed by Russian-backed militants in 2014, was rebuilt and opened on Thursday, October 26, according to the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry. News 27 October from UNIAN.

“Donetsk People’s Republic” ex-PM inadvertently admits he carried out Kremlin plans -Euromaidan Press |

Yuri Zoria, Alya Shandra The ex-Prime Minister of the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” Russian national Aleksandr Borodai has admitted that he was involved in setting up Russia’s puppet republics in Donbas before they were officially proclaimed and that in doing so, he was carrying out Kremlin plans. He also accused Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov in cooperating with Donetsk terrorists and supporting one of the armed gangs. As Crimea was occupied by Russia at the end of February 2014, Russia established several training camps in Crimea for its militants who were later used to instigate and wage war in the Donbas. After training in one of such camps, an armed gang led by Russian national Igor Girkin (“Strelkov”) captured the Donbas cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in April 2014, later in early June Ukrainian army and special forces recaptured the cities as Girkin’s group retreated to Donetsk. In his interview with, another Russian national, Aleksandr Borodai, one of the founders of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DNR”) and its former “prime minister“ has admitted that he “was resolving personnel matters” of the “DNR” long before the organization started to control parts of Ukrainian territory. He said that his key mistake was Igor Girkin. Borodai probably implied that it was he who appointed Girkin as a head of the subversive group to capture Sloviansk. “He [Girkin] wouldn’t get in either Crimea and Sloviansk without me,” said Borodai. In the interview, Borodai laments losing a number of Donbas cities and puts the blame on Girkin.

Two Ukrainian border guards abducted by Russia delivered to Moscow prison

Two Ukrainian border guards who have been abducted on the border with Russia in Sumy region, Ukraine's north, have been delivered to Moscow's Lefortovo detention center, according to a source. News 26 October from UNIAN.

Russia intends exchanging kidnapped Ukrainian border guards for FSB officers, – Slobodian

25.10.17 11:17 – Russia intends exchanging kidnapped Ukrainian border guards for FSB officers, – Slobodian The State Border Service of Ukraine says Russians might want to exchange the two Ukrainian border guards it kidnapped in the Sumy region for two FSB officers detained in the Kherson region of Ukraine. View news.

Russia wants to exchange Ukrainian border guards for FSB officers –

Russians were detained in June on the administrative border with the Crimea

NATO standards as a heal-all for Ukrainian army – 112 International – NATO standards as a heal-all for Ukrainian army –

As of September 27, 2017 Ukraine’s national regulations took into account the norms of 126 NATO documents

The achieved level of technical equipment of the Armed Forces does not guarantee the preservation of state sovereignty – the head of the Central Research Institute for Arms and Military Equipment of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

he achieved level of technical equipment of the Armed Forces does not ensure their sufficient combat capability, which does not guarantee the solution of the tasks of preserving state sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. The head of the Central Research Institute for Arms and Military Equipment (Central Scientific Research Institute of Arms) of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Igor Chapkov concluded in this article in his article prepared in the collection of the Fourteenth International Specialized Exhibition “Weapons and Security” held in Kyiv. “The defense industry of Ukraine (ОПК) is not able to recreate the necessary nomenclature of the means of armed struggle of the given quality and in the necessary quantity”, – I. Chapkov added in the article. The Chief of the Central Organizing Agency of the Armed Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stressed that now there is a significant lag of the OPK from the generally accepted indicators of the efficiency of industrial production in the world. The expert, moreover, expressed the opinion that now they demand an immediate reform of the Armed Forces and the Defense Forces and improve the functional interrelationship between them.

Most of the motor pool of the Ukrainian military is outdated; next year, the Armed Forces plan buying 1,000 more vehicles, mostly the cargo vehicles for artillery and supply units – 80 percent of cargo, transport vehicles obsolete, – Ukrainian Army –

Most of the motor pool of the Ukrainian military is outdated; next year, the Armed Forces plan buying 1,000 more vehicles, mostly the cargo vehicles for artillery and supply units

The Polish-Ukrainian kamikaze may be much more interesting than Javelin

The International Specialized Exhibition “Weapons and Security – 2017” was held in Kyiv on October 10-13. The Chernihiv “CheZaRa” also participated in the exhibition, presenting the Sokil reconnaissance and shock complex with the Polish-Ukrainian reconnaissance drone “Fly Eye” (“flying eye”) and the shock-proof drone-kamikaze “Warmate”. Warmate (from the English war mate – combat comrade) – a drone unmanned aerial system designed to defeat the enemy by self-destruction. It can be classified as a “projectile” or a “lootering munition” (English loitering munition). Designed by the Polish company WB Electronics, the concept is first presented in 2014. It is known that Ukraine and Poland implement military-technical cooperation under the Warmate mini-shock Battalion program from 2016: in the framework of the signed license agreement between WB Electronics and PJSC “ChEZaRa” (Chernihiv) signed in March 2016, a certain quantity has already been procured these BPLAs, as well as mass production of the Warmate UAV in Ukraine. To date, the testing of a state customer made in Ukraine, Warmate BPLA Warmate with a refined shock component is in the final stage. In September, these BPLA members of the Sokil reconnaissance and drone complex were demonstrated at a landfill near the village of Goncharivsk with the participation of Oleksandr Turchinov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. “The tests were successful, they demonstrated the effectiveness of these unmanned systems. The next step is to put them on an armory and to use it effectively in combat conditions, “Turchinov said. “Sokil” – a universal complex – can round-the-clock to monitor, detect, track and destroy equipment and live forces of the enemy within a radius of ten kilometers. The complex consists of two unmanned systems with Polish roots (the reconnaissance FlyEue, which is already used by the Ukrainian military and strike force Warmate) and a joint control system. It was placed on two armored cars “Kozak-2M”. A reconnaissance vehicle is operated by a team of five people: commander, driver, operator, weapon operator and analyst. Each vehicle has up to three FlyEye bundles, developed by WB Electronics from the WB Group. FlyEye has been tested in combat operations since March 2015. He has already completed more than 1,000 flight hours, with the discovery and control of 700 groups and individual goals. The strike machine is operated by a team of four people: a commander, a driver, an operator and a shock drum operator. In addition to the portable radio station, the GCS, the generator and the telescopic antenna, the car transports up to 20 pieces of disposable Warmate BPWAs as well as 40 warheads. Warmate, manufactured under the license of CheZaRa in Ukraine, has a working range of 10 km, a flight time of 30 minutes and a maximum speed of 150 km / h. It can be armed with four types of warheads: explosive, commutative, torn and inflammable warheads. Warmate is capable of being driven and hit by live force, missile artillery services (GRADI, etc.), easily armored transport of the enemy, and also hit the upper unprotected section of the tank. Technical characteristics of the shock drill “Warmate” The start of the machine is due to the pneumatic start from the container launcher. The device has an electric motor and a folding wing, providing a range of 10 km, the length of barezhany in half an hour, allows you to develop a maximum speed of 150 km / h and rise to a maximum height of 500 m at normal flight height of 30-200 m. Maximum the take-off mass of the complex – 4 kg, with the device can be equipped with a variety of type of defeat warheads with a mass of explosive to 800g. The aircraft has an automatic flight control mode and a return system when it is not broken. During the attack, the UAV reaches the target at its peak, reaching its maximum speed of 150 km / h. The operator controls the attack using the appropriate optics and can cancel the mission already during the shock maneuver, having ordered “Comrade” to return to the base.

Kharkiv Special Machine Plant (photos)

Kharkiv Special Machine Plant (KSMP) – State Enterprise of the Military-Industrial Complex of Ukraine

3D Radar 80K6T from Iskra – Ukroboronprom at the Arms and Security 2017

The 3D observation radar 80K6T is an advanced development of UKROBORONPROM SE “Scientific And Production Complex “Iskra” – a target designator for air defense means

The Artillery Detachment Automated Control Vehicle

This control vehicle are part of the Obolon-A automated control complex

The Vehicle of the Chief of Staff of the Division on the wheeled chassis

This vehicle are part of the Obolon-A automated control complex

European Commissioner Johannes Hahn confirmed the getting of the ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine –

European Commission claims about getting of Marshall Plan for Ukraine

It is highly likely that the ‘Marshall Plan’ for Ukraine will not be represented at the ‘Eastern Partnership’ summit in November –

Marshall Plan for Ukraine is not mentioned at documents of Eastern Partnership summit

Poroshenko Vows Push To Create Anticorruption Court By Year’s End

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has vowed to push for legislation creating an anticorruption court by the end of the year, in an apparent response to demands from Western allies as well as pro…

Why Ukraine’s Week of Protests Quickly Fizzled

A week of protests on behalf of needed reforms in Ukraine have rapidly fizzled having made limited headway in pressing for legislative action while discrediting a segment of liberal reformers with its populist rhetoric and aggressive tactics. The protest outside parliament, which some organizers had expected would bring at least 10,000 to the streets, peaked on October 17 at around four thousand. By October 20, the fourth day of mass action, the ranks had fallen to a few hundred, and the tent city they had constructed was largely empty, with almost as many tents as protestors. On October 22, crowds gathered again, peaking at 1,500, around a third of those who had come out at the onset of protests; on October 23, a small band of protestors remained in the tent city around the parliament. The demonstrators had three demands: lifting parliamentary immunity, changing the electoral system to an open-party list, and creating a National Anticorruption Court. But these demands were lost amid the insurrectionist tenor of the protests, including some acts of violence by some in the crowd. The creation of a gauntlet of shame for the degradation of one pro-government parliamentary leader and the pelting of another with eggs further detracted from the message. Mustafa Nayyem, an opposition parliamentarian and protest organizer, readily admitted that the police had acted professionally and with restraint. But the same could not be said for part of the crowd, which stole scores of police shields and engaged in occasional fistfights with the authorities. Mikheil Saakashvili, the public face of the protest resembled more a rabble rouser than the respected former president of a country, as he shouted demands to ”throw the goat out” in calling for a movement to force President Petro Poroshenko from office. Saakashvili, who fell out with Poroshenko and later was stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship in the summer, broke through Ukraine’s border in mid-September surrounded by bodyguards and supporters. These days, he is accompanied by a cohort of “toughs” who some say are his former Georgian bodyguards while others are said to be former Georgian volunteers in Ukraine’s war in the east. His entourage notwithstanding, Saakashvili emerged as a major liability for the well-intentioned protest. No less worrying, was the presence of the “Donbas Battalion” at the protests. This splinter from the original armed formation that bravely fought against the Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine in early 2014, is led by the erratic former convict Semen Semenchenko, and it has behaved like a paramilitary group. It engaged in an armed direct action blockade of trade routes between Ukraine and the Russian-occupied areas of the Donbas last spring. Others included the far-right Svoboda party and the ultranationalist National Corps, a political outgrowth of the Azov battalion, and the pro-reform coalition of reformist NGOs and conservative and liberal politicians of a European stripe. No less damaging was the stance adopted by several deputies who have a strong reputation in the United States and Europe. MP Sergii Leshchenko appeared to be carried away by a desire for vengeance and partisan political advantage. Once a careful chronicler of graft based on detailed investigative journalism, Leshchenko today is a politician who makes sweeping charges against Poroshenko and his inner circle, often without specific evidence. This combination of over-the-top rhetoric and aggressive crowd behavior was bound to create fissures in the odd coalition that had assembled to advance a worthy agenda. It also was fated to create a backlash from respected civil society leaders. On Facebook, Yevhen Hlibovystky, a leader of the liberal Nestor group of public intellectuals, criticized the aggressive and violent nature of the protests. Irina Bekeshkina who heads the Democratic Initiatives Foundation condemned the intolerance present at the protests. Within hours of displays of violence on October 17, Vitaliy Shabunin, a sharp critic of Ukraine’s president and leader of the Anti-Corruption Action Center joined leaders of Chesno, a respected monitor of government, parliament, and politicians, to announce they were dissociating themselves from the gathering. While the protests rapidly faded, there are a number of lessons that should be drawn from the week’s events. Importantly, the president and the government majority were pressed into indicating their willingness to speed up the legislative process that had long been stalled on the three items protestors had raised. Moreover, the president and his ruling majority cannot be complacent in furthering reforms. While the protests were weak, they reflect a deep dissatisfaction in society over the failure to prosecute and convict wrongdoers guilty of corruption at the highest levels as well as with impunity for former members of the Yanukovych regime. Perhaps most importantly, the protests exposed a series of mistakes by reform advocates, NGOs, and politicians. First, is the reformers’ alliance with Mikheil Saakashvili, who seems hell-bent on provoking confrontation with the authorities as he seeks personal revenge against Poroshenko. Liberal politicians like Nayyem and Leshchenko cannot escape scrutiny for their flirtation with Saakashvili and their adoption of his rhetoric and political style. Second, there is the reputation risk for the Samopomich party for its association with Semenchenko, who heads what is a de facto paramilitary group, although Semenchenko was clear to state that he didn’t represent the party but a split-off movement. A conservative European party such as Samopomich cannot mar its reputation for professionalism and probity with firebrand rhetoric and sometime-armed bands that violate Ukrainian law. Its tolerance for Semenchenko’s tactics is in sharp contrast with its strict discipline on the voting of its parliamentarians, several of whom including the respected MP Hanna Hopko, who heads the Rada’s Foreign Affairs Committttee, have been expelled from the faction for voting against the party’s position on legislation related to the occupied Donbas. The basic point is this: tactics appropriate to mobilizing against an authoritarian government which shoots and violently beats protestors must differ fundamentally from those in the case of a slow moving, but largely reformist parliament and government, which in the last months has passed a sweeping educational reform, reformed pensions in line with recommendations from international financial institutions, and voted in progressive health care reform. This is the main lesson one hopes will be taken by activists and politicians who should be the bedrock of much-needed centrist liberal and conservative forces. Failure to do so will sow chaos, weaken Ukraine’s path to reform, and erode its national cohesiveness at a time when the country is partly under Russian occupation with the threat of aggression, terrorism, and externally-funded subversion ever-looming.

Why the populist demonstration in Kyiv will not result in “great political reform” -Euromaidan Press |

Despite populist slogans, life will improve in Ukraine only after serious structural reforms are undertaken and the conflict with Russia is resolved. Vitaly Portnikov Do not expect the “immediate improvement of life” in Ukraine either today or tomorrow. It is interesting to observe the political battles in Ukraine through the prism of events in the neighboring Republic of Moldova. At the same time that demonstrators were gathering by the walls of the Ukrainian parliament building and speakers were demanding voting for laws that they ambitiously called the ”great political reform,” the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova adopted another historic decision. According to this decision, the president of the country does not have the constitutional right to refuse to appoint ministers presented by the government. And in the event of his repeated refusals, the right to appoint passes on by decree to the speaker of parliament and the prime minister of the country. The outraged President Igor Dodon was forced to accept this decision by the Constitutional Court but promised to “sort things out” with the judges after the parliamentary elections. What does all this have to do with Ukraine? Everything. Until recently, mass oppositional demonstrations were held in Chisinau and not in Kyiv. In their makeup, the Chisinau organizers were similar to the ones in Kyiv. They represented a real alliance of the dissatisfied — a segment of the parliamentary opposition, the non-parliamentary opposition, and social and anti-corruption activists.

Yanukovych Treason Trial Adjourned Until December

The treason trial of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in absentia has been adjourned until December 4 after his new lawyer asked for more time to prepare.

Experts see Ukraine’s membership in UN Human Rights Council as “counterweight against Russia” -Euromaidan Press |

The election of Ukraine to become a member in the United Nations Human Rights Council on 17 October 2017 allows Ukraine to carry its position in yet another forum, Stanislav Shevchuk, a former judge at the European Court of Human Rights, told the Ukrainian desk of Radio Liberty. However, Vitiliy Tytych, a lawyer for the families of the “Heavenly Hundred,” recalled that Ukraine had already been a part of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). The UN as a structure, including its committees and councils, are extremely bureaucratic, Tytych remarked.

Ukraine honors 80th anniversary of Intelligentsia mass murder in Russian Sandarmoh –

Ukraine honors the 80th anniversary of mass murder of Intelligentsia who were shot dead in Sandarmoh Tract (Russia) on October 27 in 1937. This place in Karelia became the grave of the murdered prisoners of the White Sea Canal and Solovki camps. It is known that Sandarmoh is a special territory, which was used by the NKVD of the USSR to conduct mass executions of civilians. In particular, the Sandarmoh facility was the scene of execution of the Solovki prisoner transport in 1937, in which there were famous cultural figures, scientists, military, technical intelligentsia, the priesthood. Related: Georgians mark ninth anniversary of Russia-Georgia conflict Among the murdered – a priest from the Vatican, who collected data on human rights violations in the Soviet Union, outstanding masters of culture, scientists, soldiers, statesmen, clergymen from countries occupied by the USSR, 198 people – immigrants from Ukraine, in particular artists Les Kurbas, Mykola Kulish, Mykola Zerov, Marko Voronyi, Valeryan Pidmohylny, professors-historians Oleksandr Badan-Yavorenko, Serhiy Hrushevsky, Volodymyr Chekhivsky, writer and Minister of Education of the UNR Anton Krushelnytsky. The mass shootings of people took place on October 27- November 4, 1937. There were 1116 prisoners in total: five sentences were not executed, for one prisoner died, and four were sent to other places. The bodies of NKVD, and then MGB, KGB of the USSR and FSB of Russian Federation, were hiding the place of mass killings from relatives of the deceased and the public. As a result of chekhists’ special operation in autumn of 1937, the trace of Solovki was “lost” altogether. For many years there was a suggestion that people were drowned in the White Sea. However, on July 2, 1997, a joint expedition of the Karelian and Petersburg Memorials, which included Yuri Dmitriev (Petrozavodsk), Irina Flige and Veniamin Ioffe, discovered the crime scene of the Stalinists near the Medvezhyegorsk-Povenets highway. All those who were shot were subsequently rehabilitated and recognized as victims of Stalinist terror.

Life without Lenin – Ukraine is parting with its Soviet heritage – Serhiy Zhadan –

Serhiy Zhadan: After almost 100 years of Soviet-Russian rule and Maidan (2014), Ukraine today succeeds in building its own independent state. Decolonization of consciousness is in progress

EU Eastern Partnership experts say Ukraine’s opening of KGB archives is exemplary -Euromaidan Press |

Ukraine’s decommunization laws sparked controversy when they were adopted in 2015. Two years later, one of the laws has proven to yield excellent results – the opening of the KGB archives. The way Ukraine is exposing the workings of its repressive apparatus is being praised by experts from EU Eastern Partnership countries, the societies of which were deeply permeated and controlled by the Soviet secret police. Experts from the countries of the Eastern Partnership spoke about access to the archives of the communist secret services in their countries during a press conference held at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv. The experts in the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center

Former UPA liason officer receives copy of her criminal case as recorded by Soviet NKVD -Euromaidan Press |

Halyna Tereshchuk On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) celebrated on October 14, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) handed copies of criminal cases to two former liason officers: 97-year-old Olha Ilkiv from Lviv and 94-year-old Anastasiya Zakydalska-Petrychkovych from Boryslav. Both women were arrested by the NKVD and brutally interrogated in Lviv and Drohobych prisons. Seventy years later, they will be able to examine the materials of the criminal case against them and read about their lives, as described by the NKVD.

October 21: 70th anniversary of Soviet Operation Zapad -Euromaidan Press |

Operation Zapad (West) was one of the most massive and short-term deportations of the civilian population of Western Ukraine by Stalin and his regime in order to destroy the “social base” of the Ukrainian liberation movement. Members of OUN and UPA families and partisans were forcibly evicted and deported from their homes. Their property was confiscated and all their personal belongings, livestock and crops were taken away by the Soviet authorities.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Russia undermining action against chemical weapons, says UK, citing Syria ‘cover up’

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Friday accused Russia of trying to hide the use of sarin gas by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government, and said Moscow’s behaviour was undermining the consensus against chemical weapons.

Russia vetoes U.N. resolution to continue Syria chemical weapons investigation – The Washington Post

It was the ninth such vote by Moscow, a key ally of the Syrian government, to block Security Council action on Syria.

Assad forces behind deadly Syria sarin attack – UN – BBC News

The Syrian regime carried out a gas attack in April which killed more than 80 people, the UN says.

Tillerson Says ‘No Role’ For Assad In Future, But Removal Not A Prerequisite

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the United States sees no role for President Bashar al-Assad in any future Syrian government.

Syria’s largest oil field captured by US-backed forces – CNN

US-backed forces say they have captured Syria’s largest oil field from ISIS, the latest in a series of recent setbacks for the jihadists in the country’s east.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Can No Longer Hide Mounting Russian Combat Losses in Syria, Nesmiyan Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 23 – It is already “impossible” for the Kremlin to hide from the Russian people the dozens or “more likely hundreds” of combat losses Russian forces have suffered in Syria because “many are dying in one place and at one time” for the authorities to be able to hide them, Rosbalt commentator Anatoly Nesmiyan says. Government media have gone through all the stages of denial they usually employ, he says. First, they have called those who suggest the losses are large liars, then they insist that these are only rare cases, then they declare the soldiers “knew what they were getting into” and finally that “this is in the interests of Russia” ( “Nevertheless, losses are really growing, and only a policy of silence and complete denial by the powers that be can try to conceal them,” Nesmiyan says. According to him, there are three reasons why Russian combat losses in Syria have gone up in recent weeks, and all of them are disturbing. First of all, the Syrian army is disintegrating, and Russian units are having to play a larger role. Second, Moscow wants results and wants them sooner rather than later, forcing Russian commanders to become more aggressive and to take more losses. And third, Russia’s reliance on mercenaries means commanders are more willing to sacrifice such forces than their own men. Everywhere there are reports about losses, although their number is unspecified and it is impossible now to say just how many, but there are certainly dozens of combat deaths and even more wounded. “The question of what this is in aid of is inevitable,” all the more so because of the internal inconsistencies in Russian government propaganda about this. Moscow describes what it is doing as a counter-terrorist operation, but when one fights terrorists, one encounters groups of perhaps up to a hundred. When there are “tens of thousands,” that means something else is going on, needs to be acknowledged and new and different strategies adopted. All this is creating a problem for the Russian regime, Nesmiyan concludes, because the Russian people can increasingly see they are taking losses for a cause whose real purpose they can also see they aren’t being told.

Isis stronghold falls after final bout of savagery and torture in Raqqa | News | The Times & The Sunday Times

By the end, cats and dogs were feeding on shredded human flesh in the streets. But when the siege first closed in, life in Raqqa went on much as before. There w

Foreigners who joined IS faced almost certain death in Raqqa – The Washington Post

The forces fighting the remnants of the Islamic State group in Syria have tacit instructions on dealing with the foreigners who joined the extremist group by the thousands: Kill them on the battlefield.

Report: Russia, Former Soviet Region Largest Source For Foreign Fighters In Syria, Iraq

A U.S.-based security research firm says Russia, and the former Soviet region more broadly, is the single largest source for foreign militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Dunford: Time to Cut the Connections that Link ISIS’ Global Network – Defense One

With the extremist group on its heels, coalition members must block its paths to Africa, Southeast Asia and elsewhere, the top US officer said.

U.S. Security Adviser Slams Iran’s ‘Malign, Destructive’ Regional Influence

U.S. President Donald Trump’s top security adviser has told a television interview that the “malign, destructive” influence of Iran and its “proxies” must be removed from Iraq, Syria, and els…

US concerned about Iranian influence but in Iraq at will of Bagh

Iranian General Reportedly Played Key Role In Swift Takeover Of Iraq’s Kirkuk

A top Iranian military commander traveled to northern Iraq to urge Kurdish leaders to withdraw from Kirkuk in a move that Kurdish officials said played an important role in enabling Iraq’s governme…

Talking North Korea and Iran With Israel’s Rocket Man – Bloomberg

Yitzhak Ben-Israel thinks Kim’s cyberwarriors are third-rate, U.S. missile defense is good, and the Iran deal is a keeper.

Iran Cannot Manufacture Nuclear Bombs After the “Nuclear Deal” Expires | HuffPost

In the debate over the fate of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA—the “Iran Nuclear Deal”) those wishing to torpedo the Deal have frequently s…

Former Intelligence Official On Iran Nuclear Deal : NPR

NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly speaks about the Iran nuclear deal — which President Trump has called a “bad” deal — with Norman Roule, who retired last week as Iran mission manager for the director of national intelligence.

U.K. Foreign Minister Sees ‘No Doubt’ Iran Nuclear Deal Will Survive Despite Trump Move

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson says there is “absolutely no doubt” the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers will survive despite the decision by U.S. President Donald Tr…

‘Satanic’ Blue Whale Game Under Spotlight In Iran After Teenager’s Death

The suicide of an Iranian teenager has put the spotlight on the shadowy online phenomenon known as Blue Whale.

Iran ‘sentences Sweden resident to death’ for spying – BBC News

The family of Ahmadreza Djalali says he has been convicted of spying for the Israeli government.

Iran sentences ‘Mossad agent’ to death over scientist killings

Iran has sentenced to death a person found guilty of providing information to Israel to help it assassinate several senior nuclear scientists, Tehran’s prosecutor said on Tuesday.

Iraqi And Kurdish Forces Agree To Pause Fighting : The Two-Way : NPR

This has the potential to open the door for talks, after Iraqi forces moved to wrest territory from the Kurds, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Iraq opposed a Kurdish independence referendum.

Iraq orders truce with Kurds to allow peaceful deployment at border crossings

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered a 24-hour suspension to military operations against Kurdish forces in northern Iraq, to allow for the peaceful deployment of Iraqi troops at the border crossings with the Kurdistan region.

Khamenei calls Kurdish independence threat to Iran, supporting A

“We will protect the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq with great care

The Latest: Turkey: Iraqi Kurdish vote caused ‘devastation’ – The Washington Post

The Latest on developments in Iraq (all times local):

Tillerson Urges Iraqis, Kurds To Settle Differences, Commit To Country’s Unity

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, during a surprise visit to Baghdad, urged Iraqi and Kurdish leaders to enter into dialogue to end their bitter dispute and ease tensions in the country.

Tillerson Tells Iranian-Backed Militia In Iraq To ‘Go Home’

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says it is time for Iranian-backed fighters who helped Iraq defeat the Islamic State (IS) extremist group to “go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain cont…

Kurds propose halt on independence plans to prevent further violence – CNN

The leaders of Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan have proposed holding off on acting on its September independence referendum in an effort to “act responsibly in order to prevent further violence,” in the face of the Iraqi government’s military response to the vote, a statement says.

Iraq’s New War: Kurdish Leader Barzani May Step Down, A Potential Blow to His Ruling Family

The controversial history of the Barzani family has taken a series of major blows lately, and its Kurdish rivals blame the current leader for recent chaos.

Iraq paramilitaries battle Kurds in push towards Turkish border oil hub

Iraqi pro-government paramilitaries launched an offensive against Kurdish troops on Tuesday near the Turkish frontier, pushing towards a strategic border crossing and oil export pipeline hub that Baghdad says must come under its control.

Iraqi forces complete Kirkuk province takeover after clashes with Kurds

Iraqi forces on Friday took control of the last district in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk still in the hands of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters following a three-hour battle, security sources said.

Russia’s Rosneft To Take Controlling Stake Of Iraqi Kurdish Oil Pipeline

Russia’s state-owned Rosneft oil company says it has agreed with the government of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region to take a controlling stake in the region’s main oil export pipeline.

Balance of Power: A Saudi Prince Wants to Reinvent His Kingdom – Bloomberg

It’s been a headline-grabbing week in Riyadh, even by Saudi Arabia’s recent standards.Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled plans to build a city from scratch on the Red Sea coast, offering a lifestyle he said would be unmatched in the kingdom — and even the world. It’s an outsized project in keeping with the prince’s known ambitions, from creating a sovereign wealth fund to dwarf all rivals and selling a stake in the world’s biggest oil company.Yet the prince didn’t stop there. He vowed to

Saudi crown prince promises ‘a more moderate Islam’ – CNN

As his country experiences the early pangs of a cultural and economic transformation, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince vowed Tuesday to destroy “extremist ideologies” in a bid to return to “a more moderate Islam.”

Saudi Crown Prince pledges elimination of ‘what is left of extremism’ in near future | Arab News

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pledged on Tuesday a return to a moderate past and looked forward to a technology-driven future. “We are returning to what we were before — a country of moderate Islam that is open to all religions and to the world,” he told the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh. “We will not spend the next 30 years of our lives dealing with destructive ideas. We will destroy them today,” he added.

Saudi Arabia bestows humanoid robot with citizenship – NY Daily News

A humanoid named Sophia has made history by becoming the first robot in the world to be granted citizenship.

The U.S. military is conducting secret missions all over Africa – VICE News

<p>U.S. military presence in Africa is already huge and still growing.</p>

Philippines says ISIS defeated in Marawi city battle as last Mautes militants caught – CBS News

Philippine officials say battle for Marawi City over after more than 1,100 killed retaking it from Islamic extremists

Across Myanmar, Denial of Ethnic Cleansing and Loathing of Rohingya – The New York Times

Claims that atrocities were staged, along with stark hate speech against Rohingya Muslims, are blaring out from social media and official statements.

Foreign Policy Reports

Beastly News: Deutsche Welle Launches Russian Satirical Show – To Inform is to Influence

This should be interesting, seeing as it is illegal in Russia to make fun of their politicians. </end editorial> By EU vs Disinfo Bored with politics? Tired of all the bad news on TV? If you are a Russian speaker, Germany’s broadcaster Deutsche Welle may have just what you need: Zapovednik, a new Russian-language satirical show…

A Suspected Network Of 13,000 Twitter Bots Pumped Out Pro-Brexit Messages In The Run-Up To The EU Vote

The social media giant has been urged by a senior MP to reveal what it knows about potential interference in the referendum after researchers discovered a bot network that vanished within weeks of the

Brexit: MPs quiz Facebook over Russian-linked ‘fake news’ – BBC News

Does Facebook have evidence of paid-for activity by Russian-linked accounts at the time of the referendum?

How did Arron Banks afford Brexit? | openDemocracy

Serbian Defense Minister Denounces U.S. Official’s ‘Unfriendly’ Remarks

Serbian Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin has criticized as unfriendly remarks by a senior U.S. diplomat who suggested that Belgrade’s balancing act between Moscow and the West is unsustainable.

Some Bulgarian Pilots Refuse To Fly Russian MiG-29 Jets, Citing Safety Concerns

Some Bulgarian air force pilots have refused to fly their Soviet-built MiG-29 jets in planned training exercises, citing safety concerns with the outdated aircraft.

Russia Formally Hands Over MiG-29 Fighter Jets To Serbia

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu attended a ceremony in Belgrade to formally present six MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia. Russia donated the jets at no charge, but Serbia is funding their repair and modernization. (RFE/RL’s Balkan Service)

Russia Formally Hands Over MiG Warplanes To Serbia To Mark Liberation Day

Russia has formally handed over six MiG-29 fighter jets to Serbia, as part of ceremonies marking the World War II liberation of Belgrade.

Catalonia And The Staggering Failure Of Politics | HuffPost

Today was a dark day for Catalonia, Spain, and Europe.

Spain Dismisses Catalonia Government After Region Declares Independence – The New York Times

Spain’s prime minister said the central government would take control of Catalonia, and he dissolved the regional parliament and ordered new elections.

Catalonia lawmakers declare independence from Spanish in defiant vote – The Washington Post

PThe vote in Barcelona sharply escalated a crisis brewing since a referendum earlier this month backed the region’s break from Spain.

Spanish leader asks Senate for power to take over Catalonia – The Washington Post

Parliaments in Madrid and Barcelona debate the future of Spain and Catalonia.

Catalan Brinkmanship Enters Crunch Time as Spain Readies to Act – Bloomberg

Spain entered a critical 48 hours as Catalan separatists either succumb to the authority of Madrid or escalate their push for independence.

Catalonia independence crisis: Everything you need to know to catch up — Quartz

Catalonia’s push for independence from Spain is getting messier by the day. Given that there’s 1,000 years of history underlying this fight, its complexity is unsurprising. It’s been almost a month since Catalans voted for independence in a referendum that Spain’s central government considered illegal. Later this week, the regional parliament of Catalonia will meet to…

Australia’s Deputy Leader, Barnaby Joyce, Loses Seat Over Citizenship – The New York Times

The country’s high court ruled that Mr. Joyce and four other lawmakers had been ineligible to run for Parliament because they held dual citizenship.

Strategy / History / Capability Publications

Mark Katz | Working Paper – Fluid Dynamics: Global Great Powers in the 21st Century – The Finnish institute of International Affairs

The great power dynamics of the 21st century is often envisioned as an emerging multipolar world in which US power is declining and that of others is rising. Yet while US power and influence may indeed be in decline, this does not necessarily mean that the power and influence of others is on the rise. This study examines the strengths and weaknesses of what are currently the actual or potential global great powers: the United States, China, India, Russia, and the European Union. Each of these has impressive abilities, but also significant limitations. None appears to have the capacity to be “primus inter pares”. Thus, something of a multipolar world order is indeed emerging. But what will this actually be like? It is argued here that there are several possible great power configurations in which some great powers ally with each other to counter one or more other great powers. The least likely of these is Vladimir Putin’s vision of a multipolar order in which the “others” all work together to contain the US. There are simply too many differences among these others for this to occur. Other unlikely possibilities are a cohesive alliance of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) or a “G-2” bipolar arrangement between the US and China. More likely, it is argued here, is a great power configuration involving a Sino-Russian alliance on the one hand, and EU-US as well as India-US alliances, on the other. Such a configuration is not inevitable, however.

Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation: 500 Years Later : NPR

Tuesday marks the anniversary of the Reformation, which began when German monk Martin Luther denounced Roman Catholicism. Most of the concerns he raised have been resolved, but divisive issues remain.

The Intelligence Cycle is Broken. Here’s How to Fix it. – Modern War Institute

Today’s American military is, arguably, the most tactically adept fighting force in the world—perhaps of all time. It is, without question, the best-resourced military in human history. Our technological advantage is unprecedented, as cutting edge hardware and software platforms deliver extraordinary capabilities in areas ranging from SIGINT to targeting to command and control. Taken together, the United States wields a tactically, financially, and technologically superior warfighting machine. Why do we have so little to show for it? What accounts for our twenty-first-century inability to translate tactical excellence, technological dominance, and near-boundless resources into durable strategic outcomes in our post-9/11 “long war”? There is a long list of potential scapegoats. Misguided political leadership. Imperial over-reach. The proliferation of complex asymmetric threats. Hyper-partisan domestic politics. The horizon-lowering influence of the twenty-four-hour news cycle. The list goes on. However, when confronting our recent strategic woes—from Afghanistan to Iraq and beyond—the defense establishment must step forward to shoulder its share of the burden. We are present en masse from the front lines of conflict to the inner corridors of power. We have opportunities to shape debates and affect outcomes at every level. A problem of this sort, and of this magnitude, is one that we must own and confront within our ranks. The Intelligence Cycle is Broken A key part of the answer lies in what’s known as the “intelligence cycle”—the process through which we investigate, analyze, and decide to act upon the world around us. This process has developed systemic, structural flaws. The platforms through which we gather information, and the processes and mediums through which we conduct analysis, are not adequately capturing ground truth. We are not integrating a granular, nuanced understanding of locality—and the potential strategic implications thereof—into the intellectual foundations of our strategic thinking. This has corrupted our ability to root strategic thinking in the realities of the battlefield. Instead, when strategic decisions are made (by men and women who are, inevitably, both physically and psychologically isolated from the front lines), debate takes place in a virtual reality that has been constructed by the intelligence cycle—and that may bear only a passing resemblance to the facts on the ground.

The US Army’s High-Intensity Problem – Modern War Institute

Military history is replete with examples of armies seeking some advantage (technological, organizational, or doctrinal) that will give them the ability to easily defeat their enemies. Unfortunately, while there are several examples of militaries succeeding in finding this edge, every single one eventually found their advantages countered or balanced. Any battlefield advantage, it seems, has a shelf life. This is not to say that these armies failed, but rather they had to win against a peer opponent, and suffered the attendant casualties as well. For nearly forty years the United States military has relied upon technological superiority to make up for numerical weakness. Particularly in the quarter-century since Operation DESERT STORM, the Army has assumed technological superiority will assure it victory. However, history tells us that is an unrealistic expectation. As the Army advances into the future, while it must always strive to find the advantages to win cheaply, it must be prepared to win in any circumstance. Simply put, any technological edge is fleeting, and a continued reliance on technology to mask weakness in numbers is fraught with danger. What this necessarily means is that, in future wars, the Army must be prepared to take significant casualties and losses in equipment, replace them, and win. Why are decisive advantages so fleeting? Warfare is the most competitive realm in human existence; the stakes are literally life and death. Therefore, while every side is seeking an advantage, every side is also seeking to counter the advantages of their enemies. These counters range across the spectrum from full mimicry to using technology, terrain, or tactics to negate an opponent’s edge. The result is that any advantage is situational and fleeting, and thus cannot be relied upon in the long term.

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

Twitter Bans Ads From Two Russian Media Companies

Twitter has banned advertisements from the accounts of state-supported Russian media outlets Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, citing assertions by U.S. intelligence agencies that these networkd inter…

How NATO Is Preparing to Fight Tomorrow’s Information Wars – Defense One

As members fight off cyber attacks from Russia, here’s a deep dive into spending goals, partnerships, and policy debates about going on the offensive.

What Is Propaganda? – To Inform is to Influence

A friend sent me a link today, to Is Foreign Propaganda Even Effective?, in The American Conservative, by Leon Hadar, published on 25 September 2017. Mr. Hadar has a Ph.D. from American University. My friend attached the following comment. “Not sure the author understands the various ways propaganda works.” This friend is an expert in information…

Is Foreign Propaganda Even Effective? | The American Conservative

Russian TV is not about Russia: Ukraine, US, EU get six times more attention in last week’s most watched shows -Euromaidan Press |

If you decide to spend a week watching Russian television, you should expect exposure to a massive coverage of the world outside Russia. You will dwell into lengthy analyses of international relations and political affairs in the EU and the US, and you can be sure to be told a lot about Ukraine. But when you switch off your TV and start to reflect, you will also realize that you have heard very little about Russia and that all the detailed discussions about events abroad repeat a monotonous and well-coordinated message about ruptures and rifts. In this issue of our weekly overview of Russian television, we decided to use the quantitative approach and look at how important the narrative about the world outside is in Russia’s most popular media.

The Woman Taking On Russia’s Trolling Machine | WIRED

When Anna Zhavnerovich publicized the details of her assault, she joined a growing movement of survivors fighting back against Russia’s trolling machine.

Russia’s Election Hackers Use D.C. Cyber Warfare Conference as Bait – To Inform is to Influence

By Kevin Poulsen, October 22nd, 2017 The Russian military hackers behind last year’s election meddling are using an upcoming cyber warfare conference in Washington D.C. as a lure to infect a new crop of victims with malware, security researchers said Sunday, effectively turning a high-level gathering packed with NATO and U.S. military cyber defenders into an opportunity…

Czech office says election result websites were hacked

The office described the problem as “massive and sophisticated” attacks that were stopped.

Quarter of emails claiming to be from feds are malicious, unauthenticated, says cyber firm

Some 25 percent of emails claiming to be from the federal government are either unauthenticated or malicious, according to a new report from cybersecurity firm Agari.

FBI couldn’t access nearly 7K devices because of encryption

The FBI hasn’t been able to retrieve data from more than half of the mobile devices it tried to access in less than a year, FBI Director Christopher Wray said Sunday, turning up the heat on a debate between technology companies and law enforcement officials trying to recover encrypted communications.

Companies in Ukraine, Russia come under new cyberattack

A new strain of malicious software has paralyzed computers at a Ukrainian airport, the Ukrainian capital’s subway and at some independent Russian media.

New BadRabbit ransomware spreads through Eastern Europe – The Verge

With a demand of .05 Bitcoins to decrypt affected data

New Cyberattacks Hit Ukraine, Russia; U.S. Issues Warning

A new wave of cyberattacks seeking to extract ransoms from computer users hit a major Ukrainian international airport as well as the Kyiv subway ticketing system, and three Russian media outlets.

Are smartphones the new cyber threat vector?

Smartphones are presenting a unique cybersecurity vulnerability, according to panelists at the annual MilCom conference hosted by AFCEA.

Kaspersky says it obtained suspected NSA hacking code from US computer – Channel NewsAsia

Pentagon Scrubbing Kaspersky Software from Its Networks – Defense One

Last month, DHS ordered civilian agencies to remove anti-virus tools made by the Russian company. Now DOD is following suit.

Kaspersky Lab to open anti-virus software to outside review

The move comes a month after the U.S. government barred agencies from using the company’s anti-virus products, citing security concerns.

Researchers Have Found an Unexpected Axis of North Korea’s Cyber Activity: India –

The country’s suspect cyber activities are unlikely to be coming only from inside North Korea itself.

US Domestic Policy Reports

Communism is every bit as evil as fascism | Comment | The Times & The Sunday Times

Had he still been alive, the Marxist professor Eric Hobsbawm would almost certainly have been asked for his thoughts on the centenary of the Russian revolution.

Disinformation and the Decay of Nations – The American Interest

To deal with the rising Nationalist Internationale, we are first going to have to reimagine how we engage with each other.

Liberal Democracy’s Fading Allure | Journal of Democracy

Author/Editor(s): Marc F. Plattner What accounts for the troubled condition of liberal democracy today? Standard explanations cite factors such as slowing economic growth and rising economic inequality, political polarization and gridlock, globalization, and moral and cultural decadence. Yet such explanations cannot account for the speed with which democracy’s decline has surged to the forefront of political discourse around the world. And it can hardly be a coincidence that disaffection with liberal democracy and support for populist parties are growing in both new and longstanding democracies alike. Simultaneously, authoritarian regimes of various stripes are showing a new boldness as the confidence and vigor of the democracies wane. Liberal democracy will regain its former health only if voters become convinced not only of democracy’s intrinsic merits but also of its superiority to all possible alternatives.

At Valdai Putin Treats Trump Respectfully | The National Interest

Putin says that Trump should be treated with respect as the legitimately elected leader of the United States and that Congress and the courts have obstructed his ability to implement his legislative agenda.

Event: Russian Perception of America in Turmoil: A Russia-Eurasia Forum with Dr. Fyodor Lukyanov – To Inform is to Influence

Russian Perception of America in Turmoil: A Russia-Eurasia Forum with Dr. Fyodor Lukyanov WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2017, 12:30 – 1:45PM The European and Eurasian Studies Program invites you to a Russia-Eurasia Forum with Dr. Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, on “Russian perceptions of American in Turmoil.” Moderated by Professor Charles Gati. Light Lunch provided. RSVP…

A Russian troll farm made a fake Hillary Clinton sex tape – To Inform is to Influence

by Maggie Serota / October 27, 2017 An interview with a propagandist working for one of the various Russian “troll factories” generating fake news designed to influence the 2016 election recently ran on an independent Russian TV channel and was picked up by The Daily Beast. Alan Baskaev told TV Rain that he spent six months working the graveyard shift at a glorified click farm called Internet Research Agency. Baskaev said that one of his projects entailed hiring a black man and a Hillary Clinton decoy to record a sex tape. According to Baskaev, most of the night shift employees were just churning out fake Pro-Trump content for cash and weren’t driven by any particularly ideology. In fact, he said that most of his colleagues didn’t take the job seriously and used to to make ridiculous content for the fun of it. When he was hired two years ago, Baskaev says he was just a college student tasked with providing impersonations of black men and “Kentucky rednecks” for their propaganda videos. From The Daily Beast:

Former Russian Troll Describes Night Shift as ‘Bacchanalia’ – To Inform is to Influence

Oct 27, 2017 — 17:48 The first employee of Russia’s infamous troll factory to reveal his identity has emerged to describe how the agency riled social media in the U.S. in the lead up to last year’s presidential elections. The St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency is thought to have launched a massive social media campaign to stoke…

Russian Troll Efforts Extended To Standing Rock – To Inform is to Influence

The interest in what Russia actually did has not waned, it is just getting more difficult to uncover what was actually done. Now researchers are connecting the Russian trolls to the Standing Rock protests. </end editorial> “DEAR RACISTS IN AMERICA,” began one Instagram meme shared by the since suspended account @Native_Americans_United, which is believed to…

Russian Propaganda Hosted by Man on Staten Island, New York – To Inform is to Influence

Moscow may have paid for the memes, but a man in a quiet Staten Island neighborhood hosted them. It’s further evidence of how deep into America the Russian campaign extended. KATIE ZAVADSKI BEN COLLINS KEVIN POULSEN SPENCER ACKERMAN 10.23.17 9:57 PM ET Russia’s propaganda campaign targeting Americans was hosted, at least in part, on American…

Russian propaganda websites connected to mysterious Florida company – To Inform is to Influence

Here’s what we know about the American company tied to the Russian sites. CASEY MICHEL OCT 23, 2017, 9:39 AM On Tuesday, the Russian RBC outlet dropped a bombshell report regarding Russia’s fake social media operations during and after the U.S. election. Confirming dozens of accounts as Russian, and revealing even more accounts that haven’t yet been named, the…

The History of Russian Involvement in America’s Race Wars – The Atlantic

How Rex Tillerson Is Remaking the State Department – Bloomberg

The former CEO is bent on a full private-sector-style redesign even as trouble brews abroad.

Conservative website first paid Fusion GPS for Trump research – The Washington Post

The website is supported by billionaire GOP donor Paul Singer, sources say.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for dirty dossier on Trump | Daily Mail Online

Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer Marc E. Elias hired a research firm in April 2016 to look into allegations of Trump’s ties to Russia, the Washington Post reports.

Russia’s Pussy Riot Protests For Imprisoned Ukrainian Filmmaker Inside Trump Tower

Members of the Russian performance-art collective Pussy Riot have carried out a protest in support of jailed Ukrainian filmmaker Oleh Sentsov at Trump Tower in New York City.

Russian Prosecutor-General Urges U.S. Attorney General To Probe Browder

Russian Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika has urged U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a criminal case against British investor William Browder, the man who had initiated the Magnitsky Act,…

Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort investigated for possible money laundering: report – CBS News

Manhattan U.S. attorney's office is launching the probe which now joins other state and federal probes connected to Manafort

Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Faces Another Money-Laundering Probe – WSJ

The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office is pursuing an investigation into possible money-laundering by Paul Manafort, said three people familiar with the matter, adding to the federal and state probes concerning the former Trump campaign chairman.

Jimmy Carter interview: Five memorable lines – CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump may have found an unlikely ally in the presidents’ club.

Washington Resumes Talking About Nuclear War – Defense –

As the North Korean crisis escalates, the unthinkable has suddenly become discussable.

Trump executive order lets Air Force recall up to 1,000 retired pilots

The U.S. military has been suffering a pilot shortage for some time now, as does the commercial air industry.

U.S. Republicans Launch Probe Of Obama-Era Uranium Deal With Russia’s Rosatom

Republicans in the U.S. Congress have announced a new investigation into an Obama-era deal in which a Russian company bought a Canadian firm that owned some 20 percent of U.S. uranium supplies.

The Air Force now has the power to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots to address its personnel crisis | Business Insider

The Air Force’s protracted personnel shortage…

Majority Of White Americans Say They Believe Whites Face Discrimination : NPR

A new NPR poll finds 55 percent of whites believe the discrimination against white people exists, echoing a sentiment heard repeatedly on the 2016 campaign trail.

Do You Live in One of the Happiest American States?

How happy, healthy, and secure are Americans? A Gallup survey reveals how Americans rate their well-being.

Trump delays release of some JFK assassination documents, bowing to national security concerns – The Washington Post

The withheld records will be subject to a 180-day security review, the White House said. But 2,800 records were released in full Thursday evening.

JFK files: Mob hits on Castro, a threat on Oswald – CNNPolitics

The CIA mulled mafia hits on Cuban President Fidel Castro. Someone called the FBI threatening to kill Lee Harvey Oswald a day before Oswald’s murder.

Documents Offer Insight Into Soviet View Of JFK Assassination : The Two-Way : NPR

The Communist Party was reportedly alarmed and believed that the killing of President Kennedy was part of a larger “ultraright” coup to overthrow the U.S. government.

Hon. Kathleen Hicks, PhD | Now What? The American Citizen, World Order, and Building a New Foreign Policy Consensus

In order for the United States to adapt to current and future international challenges, it needs a foreign policy that can unite the American public and bring back bipartisan consensus on America’s role in the world.


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