Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Much in the media on Russia over the last week. DPP at State observes that “The threat to [the West’s] collective security posed by Russia is clear, and we on both sides of the Atlantic cannot ignore it”. Pres Macron states much the same. Sen Portman comments on Russia vs. Ukraine. NDAA vote gives Ukraine USD350M. Yakovenko compares Russia’s trajectory to the fall of the Evil Empire. Nejman is correct. UK PM May slams Russia for meddling and aggression. Russia refuses to agree on Donbass peacekeepers, other reports suggest they are preparing for long term occupation as in Crimea. Excellent analyses by Pointkovsky and Dickinson.
Excellent observations also by Shelin, Preobrazhensky, Falyakhov, Kučík, Nebozhenko and Aleksandrov: Russia dives deeper into the abyss by the day. Unemployment expected to hit 10% soon. Miller on irredentism. Latynina on IW. Tyagachev proposes to shoot Russia’s leading doping whistleblower. More on Russia’s demographic collapse, Islamicisation, and emerging separatist sentiments in remoter regions. More reports on internal repression.
Belarus detains Ukrainian journalist for “espionage”, while Putinist Pres Dodon in Moldova floats bizarre proposal to join Transnistria with Ukraine, no doubt a cause for much mirth in Kyiv, as most of the Russian “rent-a-crowd” rioters in Odessa were bussed in from Transnistria in 2014.
Brilliant speech in the House by Rep Marcy Kaptur on Okuyeva and Russian state sponsored terrorism. Mitchell from State visits Kyiv. More reports on Russia’s play to fence off Crimea, while the Kerch Strait bridge appears non-viable, and Russia pursues a strategy of defacto annexation of occupied Donbass. DNR puppet “republic” leader proposes the Stalinist Holodomor policy of confiscating all farm produce in occupied Donbass. Russians playing more games with Ukrainian hostages. Donbass fires continue. Chubenko murderers sentenced in absentia. Youtube clips from recent Kherson SAM LFX, Ukrainian media figure out that the S-300V1 / SA-12A/B GIANT/GLADIATOR was deployed. It appears the proposal to mate the licenced Polish AS-90 Braveheart 155mm turret to the Ukrainian Oplot hull will proceed. Another refurbished Su-27 FLANKER returned to service, and a contract let for further deep overhauls on Su-24M FENCER. An-70 and An-132D airlifters, and Mi-8MSB HIP and Mi-2MSB HOPLITE helos, displayed at Dubai airshow, Antonov stating intent to produce a “Russian component free” An-70 for the international market. US Oriole Capital Group invests in Kharkiv aviation factory, to return to mass production the An-74 COALER AKA “Cheburashka”. October Revolution essays, and another mass grave of NKVD victims excavated.
Israel declares its intent to collaborate with Saudi Arabia against Iran. Russia vetoes US Syria CW investigation. More on Russian meddling in Syria. Good essay by Ghattas.
UK globalism. Ultranationalists and Nazis in Poland. Venezuela now in defacto default. Zimbabwe coup. AUS loses eight legislators over dual citizenship.
Sharpe essay on Dugin is a good primer. DO on killer robots control regime, while Russia forges ahead with intend to deploy autonomous killer robots (notable is that many Soviet weapons aimed for this but their tech was not good enough). LRASM and BUFF PGM upgrades. More on Dubai.
Much interesting reading on IW/IO and cyber. Harrington analysis is good, noting that the dumbing-down of Western media needs better treatment.
US domestic debate on Russia remains toxic.
Russia / Russophone Reports
A senior U.S. State Department official says Russia’s actions over the past decade have shown that Moscow’s willingness to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other nations is …
The Kremlin's foreign policy and interference in the processes in other countries still pose a serious threat to democracies in the world.
The U.S. defense budget for 2018, which envisages $350 million in security assistance to Ukraine, has been sent for signature by the U.S. president, Ukraine's Embassy in the United States has reported.
Congressional negotiators approved a series of measures to counter Russian activities and influence in this year’s annual defense bill, including an authorization for providing Ukraine with lethal defensive aid and an initiative to bolster counter-propaganda efforts. The Ukraine security assistance reauthorization comes as the State and Defense departments continue to push President Donald Trump to approve a lethal defensive aid package to Kiev. The provision of the National Defense Authorization Act allocates $350 million for lethal and non-lethal aid, as well as training and assistance, to Ukraine and lasts for two years.
The almost certain approval of a US defense budget that will provide assistance to Ukraine, including lethal arms, while restricting US-Russian contacts and the EU’s moves toward a five billion US dollar Marshall Plan aid package for Kyiv represent a partial remake of the Western strategy that hastened the end of the USSR, Igor Yakovenko says.
PM talks tough on fake news as risk rises that the issue will hit closer to home
The UK PM said Russia was trying to “undermine free societies” in the West and “sow discord”.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Russia “is seeking to weaponize information” in an attempt “to sow discord in the West and undermine our institutions.” In a speech to business leaders on November 13 in London, May offered “a very simple message” to Russia: “We know what you are doing, and you will not succeed.” (Reuters)
Russia’s efforts to sow discord in the West will not succeed, and they already are prompting Western allies to work together to counter Moscow’s meddling, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has said.
Theresa May accuses Putin’s regime of seeking…
Kremlin fears Ukraine to turn UN peacekeepers into “occupation troops” in Donbas. Current news and events for 15 November from UNIAN Information Agency
Russia rejects 26 of 29 U.S. proposals for UN peacekeeping force in Donbas. View news feed in news about politics for 14 November from UNIAN Information Agency
Moscow on the eve of presidential elections can be beneficial compromise on the format of the peacekeeping operation
Russia must not be among UN peacekeepers in Donbas – Ukraine defense minister. View news feed in news about politics for 15 November from UNIAN Information Agency
Belarus offers to deploy its peacekeepers in Donbas. View news feed in news about politics for 15 November from UNIAN Information Agency
Canada is making a significant diplomatic push to gather international support behind Ukraine’s UN peacekeeping plan, its foreign minister has announced.
After talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine, U.S. and Russian envoys say their countries have “different concepts for how to make peace” but will continue to work to achieve that goal.
The Americans have proposed to expand the powers and the zone of presence of UN peacekeepers in the Donbas, as reported by Interfax citing a …
It is impossible to allow freeze of Donbas Conflict, – Finnish Defense Minister
As soon as talks on the introduction of the UN peacekeeping mission to Donbas go to the finish line, shelling on the front line becomes more intensive
Pavel Grod, the President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress claimed urged Ottawa to head the UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas – Ukrainian diaspora urges Canada to head UN peacekeepers in Donbas – 112.international
Ukrainian diaspora urges Canada to head UN peacekeepers in Donbas
Paul Goble Staunton, November 12 – The failure of Vladimir Putin to get a sit down with Donald Trump represents “the agony of [the Kremlin’s] ‘Trump is Ours’ special operation” and is leading some in Putin’s entourage to think about some kind of “hybrid capitulation” that both the US and the Russian people will accept, according to Andrey Piontkovsky. Ever more people in the Russian capital, the commentator says, recognize that Putin’s play for Trump has “turned out to be a very big mistake. Had Clinton won, everything would have ended with another rest. In any case, the attitude of the US toward the Putin regime would be much more positive” (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/2017-11-11/v-moskve-dumayut-ob-uhode-iz-ukrainyi-idut-ochen-sereznyie-protsessyi—andrey-piontkovskiy/15473). That is because, Piontkovsky continues, the closeness between Putin and Trump at a time of Russian aggressiveness has mobilized “the majority of the military-political establishment” against Moscow. As a result, “Trump and [US Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson are not players on the Ukrainian issue.” Others are setting the American agenda, and if Trump tries to be more upbeat, he will either be reined in or ignored, the Russian analyst suggests. All this has been clear since the July Black Hat Information Security conference at which participants stressed that “Putin has practically declared a hybrid war against the West and above all against the US.” The US had no choice but to respond, those taking part said, Piontkovsky argues; and that is what has happened in the months since that time, with Congress pushing for more military assistance to Europe and Ukraine and taking a tougher line on sanctions and other restrictions on Russian activities. The US and the West more generally has been “very slow” in reacting to Russian aggression, but now that it has, it is behaving more consistently and in a far tougher way than the Kremlin thought was possible, Piontkovsky says. But what is obvious is that the Kremlin does not have the resources to respond. Its reliance on boldness alone has now run out of steam. Many in Putin’s entourage can see this, and they can see something else: Under the new sanctions package, their personal wealth largely kept abroad is now at risk. And they are thinking, Piontkovsky insists, on how they can keep that wealth without losing power in Russia by appearing to cave in to the US on Ukraine. Unfortunately for them, there is no obvious way forward as long as Putin is in power. They would be ready to withdraw from the Donbass if “the West would close its eyes on Crimea. But the West has made its position clear: “’we will never recognize the annexation of Crimea,’” just as the West never recognized the forcible annexation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by Stalin. Putin isn’t going to agree to US peacekeepers on the Russian border as some have proposed, and he isn’t going to escalate in any serious way the military conflict in Ukraine because if he does the West will provide Kyiv with lethal weapons, take Russia off the SWIFT system, and impose other tools from its “large arsenal of sanctions.” Consequently, what is being talked about in Moscow, is the possibility of some form of “hybrid capitulation – to find a formula for Moscow which the West would accept as capitulation” and drop plans for individual sanctions ‘but which the Kremlin could sell to its own population by TV as the latest victory.” Whether this is possible with Putin or even possible at all remain open questions.
Imagine the scene: a patch of overgrown wasteland on the outskirts of an east Ukrainian rust belt town. Emergency services personnel are methodically excavating a large plot of earth while a huddle of journalists and aid workers look on. The date is October 2019. Another mass grave has just been uncovered. This grim but all-too-conceivable scenario is perhaps the most compelling reason why Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent UN peacekeeper posturing over Ukraine is hard to take seriously. The desire to keep evidence of war crimes from reaching international audiences is just one of many reasons why the prospect of peace is not only impractical but also unpalatable from Putin’s perspective. While the Russian leader may genuinely wish to extricate himself from the quagmire he has created, it is difficult to see how he could do so without courting disaster. First and foremost, any Russian withdrawal from the Donbas would open up a veritable Pandora’s box of revelations. The Kremlin’s general involvement in eastern Ukraine has long been the world’s worst kept secret, but details of Russia’s exact role remain clouded in hearsay and are subject to furious denial. This would change dramatically if Moscow pulled its troops out. An intricate picture of Putin’s secret war would soon emerge, leaving him hopelessly exposed and facing demands to answer for both the loss of life and the endless lies. Even the most ancient of battlefields is still capable of yielding clues, so it is reasonable to assume that evidence of Russian war crimes litters the towns and cities of the Donbas. Armies of journalists and civil society activists are already poised to comb the entire region as soon as they receive access. Alongside them would be families from both sides of the conflict searching for signs of missing loved ones. We have already had a foretaste of what to expect thanks to the steady trickle of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17-related photos and videos that have emerged from eastern Ukraine since 2014. This information has proved crucial in identifying the Russian army unit responsible for downing the civilian airliner, but it is merely the tip of the iceberg. As well as mass graves, a Russian pullback would reveal everything from torture chambers to looted factories. Russia has managed to prevent any definitive exposure of its activities in eastern Ukraine by tightly restricting all information flowing in and out of the region. A blanket ban on Ukrainian media dates back to the early days of the conflict, while over the past year it has become increasingly impossible for even the most accommodating international journalists to gain access. If Russia cedes physical control over the conflict zone, war crimes accusations and other damaging revelations will come thick and fast. At that point, international outrage will be a given. However, the Kremlin is probably more concerned about the potential reaction from within Russia itself. Even a public as conditioned to everyday disinformation as modern Russians may object to the news that their leaders have spent the past four years secretly waging an illegal war against the country’s closest neighbor. As evidence of atrocities emerges, Moscow risks sparking a smaller scale repeat of the late Soviet era, when the perestroika thaw allowed the long-suppressed crimes of the Communist authorities to resurface and seal the fate of the dying empire. Putin has spent much of the past seventeen years repairing this damage and rebuilding Russia’s battered sense of national pride. He is unlikely to invite an encore. Beyond these immediate concerns looms the broader issue of war aims. A victor can expect to receive the benefit of the doubt, but any peace agreement that leaves Ukraine firmly entrenched in the Western camp would represent a catastrophic setback for Russian interests. In this respect, Putin’s war has been disastrously self-defeating, serving to alienate an entire generation of Ukrainians while accelerating Ukraine’s post-Soviet nation-building process at the expense of Russia’s imperial ambitions. As long as the war smolders on, Putin can postpone the inevitable domestic debate over the loss of Ukraine. Once peace is established, it will no longer be possible to ignore this awkward reality. Any subsequent recriminations would be particularly dangerous for Putin, precisely because he has been so successful in exploiting the attack on Ukraine to mobilize nationalistic sentiment within Russian society. Since 2014, tens of thousands of Russians have flocked to eastern Ukraine. Many members of the Kremlin’s hybrid forces are mercenaries and “vacationing” soldiers from the regular Russian army, but a significant portion are fanatics and true believers inspired by Putin’s talk of defending the “Russian world” from Western encroachment. Millions more have bought into the revivalist narrative of a resurgent Russia, accepting material hardships and political passivity as a price worth paying for the nation’s return to great power status. They are unlikely to be pleased if the dust settles to reveal an increasingly European Ukraine in full control of the Russian-speaking Donbas, while Russia picks up the pieces of its shattered international standing. Putin has thus far ridden the patriotic tiger with great skill, but it might be an entirely different matter if he tries to dismount. These Russian realities cannot but erode the initial optimism generated by Putin’s sudden willingness to entertain the idea of a UN mission. Numerous commentators and government ministers responded to Putin’s September suggestion with enthusiasm, but any sober assessment of the situation must conclude that a lasting peace settlement along these lines remains unlikely. Putin’s peacekeeper proposal fails to meet the minimum requirements for a serious settlement of the conflict and bears all the hallmarks of an opportunistic gesture. It could be an attempt to discourage America from arming Ukraine while positioning Moscow in a more favorable light. It may be a ploy to fully freeze the conflict and solidify de facto Kremlin control over the Russian-occupied regions of eastern Ukraine. It is almost certainly not the first step on the road to peace. This does not mean that all is lost. Ukraine and its international partners can still work productively to reduce the immediate threat of large-scale bloodshed by negotiating with Russia over the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the line of contact. Humanitarian efforts can return a semblance of normality to frontline communities and support the integration of displaced persons and combat veterans into wider Ukrainian society. Kyiv can focus on building up its defensive capabilities, with or without the aid of lethal weapons from the United States, while also strengthening its soft power arsenal and pursuing further Euro-Atlantic integration. As Ukraine becomes a better country for its citizens to live in, it will move closer to a victory more decisive and sustainable than anything achieved by bayonets alone. All this will take place against a backdrop of continuing low-level conflict. The current hybrid war looks set to remain the new normal for some time, with its daily toll of fatalities, political assassinations, and cyber-attacks, along with any other acts of unconventional aggression the Kremlin can conjure up. This is an understandably unappealing prospect for ordinary Ukrainians, but they will not be the first nation forced to come to terms with a hostile neighbor. Once the immediate military threat is contained, there is no reason why the country cannot prosper as long as appropriate security measures can minimize the Russian hybrid threat. It will be hard for Ukraine, but Putin’s predicament makes it virtually inevitable. The Russian leader finds himself hopelessly entangled in his own web of deceit and appears to be stuck fast in eastern Ukraine, unable to either advance or retreat. He may no longer be able to win the war, but he dare not risk peace.
A year after Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, the furor around his approach to transatlantic security has predictably calmed. Part of the reason
Peacekeepers? What peacekeepers? Speaking at a press conference at the APEC summit in Vietnam last week, Vladimir Putin said he was unaware of any specific proposals to send peacekeepers to the Donbas. The Kremlin leader said he had “not heard anything about it,” knows “nothing about it,” and that “it doesn’t exist.” Now, back in September, of course, it was Putin himself who proposed sending a very limited contingent of peacekeepers to the Donbas. WATCH: Today’s Daily Vertical But he proposed deploying them only along the line of contact and not throughout the occupied territories and on the Russian-Ukrainian border, as Kyiv had long been demanding. It was a clever ploy that created the impression that Russia was giving in to a key Ukrainian demand — when, in fact, it was doing nothing of the sort. But since then, the idea of sending peacekeepers to Ukraine has taken on a life of its own. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin says a Security Council resolution on peacekeepers is pretty much ready. And The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, plans to propose a contingent of 20,000 peacekeepers when he meets with Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov in Belgrade today. If peacekeepers are ever sent to Ukraine, the significance of where they are deployed is important — and not just because this would determine the mission’s effectiveness. Where a peacekeeping mission is deployed will send a powerful signal about how the international community views the war in eastern Ukraine. If it’s deployed along the line of contact, it would perpetuate Moscow’s preferred myth that the war in Ukraine is an internal affair and Russia is simply a mediator. But if they are deployed throughout the occupied areas and on the Russian-Ukrainian border, it would recognize the conflict in the Donbas for what it is: a Russian war of aggression. So stay tuned. Keep telling me what you think in the comments section, on The Power Vertical’s Twitter feed, and on our Facebook page.
Is momentum building for peacekeepers in Ukraine? Listen to The Power Vertical Briefing.
One has to wonder why Vladimir Putin proposed sending international peacekeepers to Ukraine back in September. Putin’s proposal, of course, limited any peacekeeping mission to the line of contact between the war zone in the Donbas and the rest of Ukraine. And as I argued on today’s Daily Vertical, this created the false impression that Russia was giving in to a key Ukrainian demand (Kyiv has long called for international peacekeepers throughout the Donbas and on the Russian-Ukrainian border). It also appeared to be an effort to legitimize Moscow’s narrative that the conflict is an internal Ukrainian affair and not a Russian war of aggression. But did Putin anticipate that his proposal would reanimate discussion on a real peacekeeping mission with actual teeth? Did he anticipate the United States proposing a 20,000-strong mission as some media reports are suggesting? If not, it was a major miscalculation. And if so, one has to wonder what the Kremlin leader’s endgame is? We should get some hints today when Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for Ukraine meets with Kremlin aide Vladislav Surkov in Belgrade. On today’s Power Vertical Briefing (featured below), we preview that meeting. So be sure to tune in!
The US wants to exclude the Cypriot option from the agenda of solving Donbas issue
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the European Union’s attempts to regulate the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline project appear to be aimed at complicating its implementation or at forcing Mosc…
Dmitry Medvedev is taking issue with the European Union’s efforts to enforce its own laws on its own territory. The Russian prime minister claims that the EU’s attempts to regulate the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline are aimed at complicating its implementation and forcing Moscow to abandon it. Medvedev’s remarks were in response to regulations proposed last week by the European Commission requiring all major gas pipelines entering EU territory to comply with the bloc’s rules on transparency, accessibility, and efficiency. The fact that the Russian prime minister is making an issue of the fact that the EU wants pipelines on EU territory to comply with EU rules speaks volumes about the gap between Russia and the West on the primacy of the rule of law. And the fact that this is even controversial speaks volumes about what Russian energy companies have been able to get away with in the past.
Speaking at the Hanns-Seidel-Stiftung Foundation in Munich, he said it would be difficult in the future, DW reported citing a Suddeutsche Zeitung’s Nov. 14 report. Kahl warned that “there is no need to cherish hopes for Crimea,” adding that “Russia’s power ambitions will grow.” After large-scale joint Russian-Belarusian military maneuvers, the Federal Intelligence Service stated “impressive” modernization of weapons and Russia’s capacity to control troops. Kahl has noted that this “causes concern.” According to him, Russia seeks to regain the role of leader on the European continent, in particular, “to weaken the European Union and push the United States away, and especially to drive a wedge between them.” “Instead of a partner in the field of European security, in Russia we see rather a potential threat,” the head of the German special service said, pointing to the return of Russia as a player in the global political arena. Read also British PM accuses Russia of threatening world order According to Kahl, this will be an “uncomfortable neighbor.” The country has increased the range of action in the security policy, so he considers a real threat the short-range missiles deployed around the Russian exclave in Europe, Kaliningrad. At the same time, the head of the Federal Intelligence Service called for establishing “close ties” with Moscow, keeping communication channels open and making sure that contacts with Russia are not fully exhausted.
Lithuania’s parliament has passed new human rights legislation modeled on the U.S. Magnitsky Act, the 2012 law that infuriated Moscow and prompted a ban on Americans adopting Russian children.
Sweden and Romania announced plans to acquire Patriot surface-to-air missile defense system manufactured by U.S. defense contractor Raytheon. Romania’s Government adopted on Nov. 8 a draft bill for the acquisition of the first Patriot missile system for equipping the Romanian army. The draft law will be sent to the Parliament for approval. The total cost of this endowment program is USD 3.9 billion without VAT. The first system, which is worth USD 765 million, will be purchased by the end of this year. As for Sweden, it announced on Nov. 7 it has chosen the US Patriot missile defense system over that of a Franco-Italian rival Eurosam’s SAMP/T rival, in an estimated one billion-euro deal. No details of the deal were given by the ministry, but the body in charge of military acquisitions has valued the contract at 10 billion krona (1 billion euros, $ 1.3 billion). The Patriot is a longer-range truck-mounted air defense system with a firing range of 70 kilometers and a peak altitude of 23 kilometers. It is currently in use in 13 countries.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 11 – However much Moscow suggests otherwise and however much inertia still leads others to share its conclusions, the United States and China now have more in common with each other than either has with Russia, regardless of the personal feelings of the leaders of the three countries, Sergey Shelin says. The Russian and to a lesser extent the Western media have been obsessing about the contacts between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump at the Asia-Pacific Economic Summit in Danang, discussing personalities and personal relationships rather than the geopolitical situation of the countries they head (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2017/11/10/1659897.html). At the Danang summit, Shelin continues, are “the three most influential powerholders of the planet – President Si and President Trump as leaders of superpowers, and Putin as head of a military machine with the second largest if not the largest nuclear potential.” And some might expect them to unite in an alliance given their shared interests. But such an alliance isn’t going to happen, the Rosbalt commentator continues, because such things don’t depend on the personalities of leaders as much as they do on underlying social and economic relationships. Those point toward a duumvirate of Si and Trump, not toward a triumvirate that would include Putin as well. China’s Si has established himself as an autocrat by Chinese standards, plans to rule for many years yet, and is perhaps “the most powerful man on earth,” Shelin says. Trump is also an autocrat at least by American standards and, like his Chinese counterpart, relies on the simple people to support him against elites. “But Trump’s departure from his post after seven years at the latest is inevitable, and after three is quite probable.” And even the support he has from the population is insufficient to allow him to fulfill his autocratic propensities even to the degree of John Kennedy, let alone FDR. Putin’s position would seem to be “simplest of all.” He will continue to rule without any clear end in sight. But “his problem is that besides the servility of his subordinates and his nuclear rockets, he doesn’t have any other cards to play.” And that is something both the other leaders and their governments understand. Some aspects of their biographies are nonetheless suggestive of where things might go, Shelin continues. Both Putin and Trump seemed to come out of nowhere to achieve the top position, something that draws them together, whereas Si worked his way up through the system that he now dominates. “Trump is sympathetic to Putin” and doesn’t conceal this, the Moscow commentator says. But that alone doesn’t drive relations. Trump himself has said that relations with Russia needn’t deteriorate but he has clearly avoided meetings with Putin. As for Si, he received Putin simply “but does not give anything” when he does. But when Si meets Trump, it is an occasion for pageantry, something that clearly appeals to the US leader. More than that, however, it reflects the deep interconnectedness of their two countries in terms of economics and geopolitics. The economic power of the US and China are at a completely different level than any other country, including Russia. “China is the most important exporter of goods to the US and the third (after Canada and Mexico) importer of American goods.” The total trade between them exceeds half a trillion US dollars. The US and China also have geopolitical interests in dealing with North Korea, Shelin says. If Si thinks it necessary to maintain or get trade concessions from Trump, he has the leverage to do something about the leadership in Pyongyang, something Russia for all its braggadocio does not. As far as Putin is concerned, the situation is completely different. It is possible that Si and Trump relate to the Russian leader “no worse and perhaps even better than they do to one another. But in order to become a member of a triumvirate, [Putin] must bring something to the table.” The question is, Shelin says, what might that be? The Russian economy is 50 percent to 90 percent smaller than the Chinese or American, depending on how it is measured. The US isn’t going to make concessions to Russia on Syria and Ukraine, despite Putin’s expectations that the American president would. Some improvement in ties is possible but nothing more. As far as China is concerned, it is “the largest purchaser of Russian exports (mostly oil) and the first supplier of goods to Russia. But our dependence is one-sided.” The total trade between the two countries is about 70 billion US dollars a year, which is only two percent of China’s trade with foreign countries. Technologically, Russia is far behind the other two and continues to fall further, Shelin continues. In the past, China has borrowed what it could but there is less and less of that now. And China is promoting transportation corridors which bypass Russia rather than pass through it as Putin hoped. In addition, Shelin says, “Moscow’s influence on the resolution or non-resolution of the North Korean issue is also secondary. Unlike his colleague Si, Putin doesn’t have ht levers to force Kim to behave differently.” These realities show, he argues, that “Russian policy in recent years has been built on two incorrect notions – that the break with the US can be overcome … and that this break if it turns out to be irreversible can be compensated with the conclusion of a fraternal alliance with China.” Both are wrong. “It turns out that the world is constructed differently. The mutual attraction of the Moscow and Washington leaders is not leading to a rapprochement of Russia and the US but further dividing them. And Si is not willing even to take in [Russia] as a vassal.” That isn’t on now or ever. Perhaps, Shelin concludes, the duumvirate of Trump and Si will prove ephemeral, “but there isn’t going to be the triumvirate” Putin and his regime expect. Russia isn’t up to it; and both China and the US increasingly recognize that.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 15 – Now that some are describing British Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on the Russian threat as an update of Churchill’s Fulton speech, that began the Cold War, the Kremlin is about to learn that it is quite easy to become a universal outcast but far more difficult to recover from that status, at least without a change at the top. Yevgeny Platon, a Ukrainian businessman and commentator, has put the former proposition most clearly: May’s speech, he writes, is “in essence the Fulton speech of Churchill” and thus constitutes “an official declaration of Cold War 2.0 on the Russian Federation” (gordonua.com/blogs/platon/vcherashnyaya-rech-mey-po-suti-fultonskaya-rech-cherchillya-oficialnoe-obyavlenie-rossii-holodnoy-voyny-20-217292.html). Rosbalt commentator Ivan Preobrazhensky expands on this point. He notes that May accused the Russian authorities “and Vladimir Putin personally” of seeking to use “information as a weapon,” annexing Crimea, “unleashing war in Ukraine, and conducting cyber-war” there and elsewhere (rosbalt.ru/russia/2017/11/14/1660742.html). The Kremlin has done all this because it “underrates the firmness of contemporary democracies and open societies” and thus will become ever more isolated from them unless and until it changes is policies. But already, May suggested and Preobrazhensky agrees, Russia is in a very different place than it was. “Earlier Russia was one of the world centers of attraction, often more military and cultural than economic but all the same a center.” Now, however, “this picture is rapidly changing. By its inept foreign policy, the Kremlin has allowed for the transformation of Russia into ‘a universal threat.’” Preobrazhensky continues: “Now whenever anyone needs to distract attention from its own inept or aggression policy, all he has to do is mention Russia. That is how the Bulgarians, Poles, Czechs, Dutch, French, British, and Americans are already actin. And soon, to judge from everything, this trend will go beyond the limits of ‘the Euro-Atlantic community.’” “All powers sometimes make mistakes. And it is very convenient when there is one universal threat for the entire world to which all problems can be ascribed.” Such a stereotype can be employed without much argument precisely because it is so widely accepted, the Rosbalt commentator says. But for Russia and its future, “with or without Putin,” this is “a very dangerous development. To gain the reputation of ‘a universal evil,’ it turns out, isn’t too difficult. But to escape from it certainly will take years and more likely decades.”
Paul Goble Staunton, November 10 – Twenty-eight years ago, on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, an event that for many promised the end of a divided Europe and the possibility of a continent united whole and free. But today, walls, fences, and barbed wire are going up along Russia’s western border, a process that experts say will be completed by 2020. The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961 by the East German government to stem the massive exodus of its population to the west. It succeeded in reducing the outflow to a trickle, although at least 5,000 people made it to the West alive while many others were killed in the attempt. In June 1987, US President Ronald Reagan called on Mikhail Gorbachev to show his good faith by tearing down the wall; and just over two years later, the wall was breached and then abandoned after many East Germans made a successful end run around in through other East European countries. Many assumed that the fall of the Berlin Wall would mark the end of efforts to divide people by such constructions, but that has not been the case. According to Gazeta journalist Rustm Falyakhov, there are now “new fewer than 70 artificial barriers” at borders between countries around the world (gazeta.ru/business/2017/11/09/10976528.shtml). These barriers, which include walls, chain-link fences, and barbed wire emplacements, are often extremely expensive and what is more extremely ineffective given that people rapidly learn how to go around or even through them. But many governments playing on the fears of their populations continue to press for the construction of more such barriers. What is especially striking to the Moscow journalist is that Russia’s western neighbors from Finland and Estonia in the north to Ukraine in the south are actively building these barriers and that despite the expense and the likelihood that people will find ways around them, “by 2020, the western borders of Russia will be fenced off along their entire perimeter.” In response, Russia has enhanced its border defenses with similar kinds of walls and fences and plans to do even more. All of this does not constitute a new Berlin Wall, but it does underscore the rise of a new division in Europe, this time not between the Soviet Union and the West but between the Russian Federation and its western neighbors. What is interesting, Falyakhov says, is that numerous commercial enterprises, advertised on the Internet, have emerged to help people get through these barriers and then return. The existence of such services will likely lead some to demand even higher walls and more barbed wire, but they suggest human ingenuity will likely prevent any wall from being totally effective.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 11 – Russia, Czech analyst Vít Kučík argues, “the last survival of the past of European feudal and colonial empires … an archaic territorial entity which can be preserved only with the assistance of a strong authoritarian regime,” something that “threatens both its near neighbors and others further away. “One can expect a liberal and economically effective system only after the collapse of Muscovite centralism and the fragmentation of the country into small national units,” he says (ceskapozice.lidovky.cz/rusko-neni-moderni-narodni-stat-ale-posledni-evropska-rise-po4-/tema.aspx?c=A171103_004319_pozice-tema_lube; in Russian atinosmi.ru/politic/20171112/240718281.html). He points out that “the centralism of power in the empire has an authoritarian and not liberal character” because “liberal mechanisms would quickly weal the power centralism, and the empire would begin to call into pieces.” But the authoritarian power now in its place relies on individuals rather than institutions, something that is reinforcing until it leads to collapse. Moreover, in the Russian case, “the empire is the political peak of the era of a feudal agrarian economy of the village, while a nation state in turn reflects the industrial economy of the city. Present-day nationalism,” Kučík continues, “is an urban phenomenon and it is not widely distributed in the villages.” All European empires ended their existence at the start or in the middle of the 20th century except for Russia where the formally imperial government was replaced by the Bolsheviks who “destroyed the national and liberal forces which led to the end of the European empires and with the assistance of a harsh dictatorship conserved the tsarist empire up to now.” “In the 1990s,” Kučík says, “Russian lost its buffer zone of security in the form of its central European satellites and an outer belt of its own territory: the Baltic states, Belarus, Ukraine, the Trans-Caucasus and the Central Asian republics.” Only the coming to power of the authoritarian Vladimir Putin prevented Russia from continuing to fall into pieces. But having decided to rely on the export of raw materials rather than the development of a diverse modern economy, the Kremlin leader preserved Russia as something other than a contemporary nation state. Indeed, “one can say that Russia is a European colonial power which still controls large but underpopulated colonies in Siberia and in the Far East.” The Czech analyst insists that Russians are fully capable of developing a liberal democratic state, but they are prevented from doing so by a state that views all conquests as permanent and irreversible and is prepared to repress its own population in order to hold on to the empire. The leaders of the Russian state know and the Russian people suspect that under conditions of democracy many non-Russian republics and large swaths of what they view as predominantly ethnic Russian territories would elect to cut their ties with Moscow. Consequently, they oppose any liberalization lest that happen. To prevent it, Moscow must use carrots and sticks. Under the Soviets, sticks predominated; now, because the current regime is more “shaky,” the Kremlin prefers to use carrots, although it is rapidly running out of these – and both its supporters and opponents are well aware of that fact, Kučík says. According to the Czech analyst, Russian foreign policy, “which always was active and at times even aggressively expansionist,” is defined by three factors: military, economic, and domestic political. Militarily, Moscow must cope with the fact that its European core has no natural geographic boundaries, and thus it feels always threatened. Economically, it wants to dictate conditions and prices for the transit and sale of the raw materials on whose sale Moscow depends to survive. And domestic politics requires that Moscow ensure that the neighboring regimes are either like the Russian one or in chaos and thus not an attractive model for Russians to emulate. Moscow’s ideal world would include “a belt of unstable and also poorer countries among which Russia would be set apart as a stable and flourishing state. This domestic political motive of Russian foreign policy is more important than all the others because so-called color revolutions can sweep away Russia from the map of the world.” And because this is so, Kučík says, “the Russian empire will always represent a threat or at least a problem for neighboring states, including Eastern and Central Europe. Russian influence will spread ever further to the West until it encounters a balancing force which will be Germany or the European Union.” He continues: “the post-Soviet countries with a successful liberal system near Russia have a negative impact on Muscovite authoritarian centralism which preserves the integrity of the empire. Such a system would give a difficult answer to the question of the internal opposition: ‘why don’t we have that if it is possible for them?’” Because such countries can make their own choices about their relations with others, Kucik says, they are especially threatening to Moscow. It can have good relations only with the dictatorships around its current borders. With democracies, like Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic states, it will inevitably be in conflict. Given this, he continues, “Russia will cease to be a threat only when it disintegrates into smaller formations.” Such states “will be able “to construct more effective economies and be less dependent on the sale of raw materials” and thus will seek to stimulate other forms of economic growth and cooperation. Moscow will try to prevent this, of course, but it lacks the carrots to keep people in line and, if it tries to continue to hold regions in by force alone, it will alienate the population still further and block economic development for all. As a result, the collapse could occur quite quickly. “The West is afraid of instability on such an enormous territory and therefore it will help the Kremlin leader to preserve unity, but just as in 1991,” Kucik says, “all these efforts will be for naught. The local liberation forces will turn out to be stronger, and besides, they will be supported by powers like Turkey, Iran, China and Japan which will see an opportunity for themselves to bring the new states into their spheres of influence.” The collapse of the last empire, albeit “a century late, will simplify the life of Europe and of the Russians themselves,” the Czech analyst concludes.
Russian President Vladimir Putin had three main tasks within the framework of national leader’s mission
Paul Goble Staunton, November 16 – Yesterday marked the 110th anniversary of the birth of Klaus von Stauffenberg, the German officer who, as part of a broader conspiracy of military officers coded named Valkyrie, unsuccessfully attempted to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944 and was executed the following day, Viktor Aleksandrov recounts. Stauffenberg’s actions, the Russian commentator says, “are a clear example of the fact that love for the Fatherland and loyalty to the authorities are not one and the same thing. When a conflict between [them] arises, there is no question for a real patriot as to which side he should be on” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A0C178AA3BF4). In recalling these events, Aleksandrov says, “it is impossible not to notice that the regime” which Stauffenberg sought to overthrow was “by its nature very similar to the regime which exists now in Russia,” albeit with one significant difference that makes the appearance of any Russian counterpart to the German officer unlikely. Hitler came to power not only because he played to German feelings about the need for revenge after the defeat of their country in World War I but also because he pledged to promote the well-being of ordinary Germans. It was no accident that his party was called the German National Socialist Workers Party, Aleksandrov says. It is one of the signal successes of Soviet ideologists that most people now call Hitler’s movement fascist, thus ignoring the socialist component of his actions, and that they have succeeded in suggesting that he and the Nazis occupied the extreme right on the political spectrum rather than being a fusion of various elements from across the spectrum. Hitler was prepared to compromise with business, allowing it to retain de jure control of property while requiring de facto support of himself and the state, a compromise very much like the one Putin has made with the oligarchs. But at the same time, Hitler transformed himself into the embodiment of the state and “not simply its head.” That too has some Russian analogies. Under Hitler, there was no place for any independent institutions and the fuehrer based his unique power on direct communication with the population rather than having it mediated through any other arrangement, Aleksandrov continues. In this way too, Putin resembles the German leader. Putin rose to power when he was anointed by the Yeltsin “family” who very much feared the neo-Sovietism of Primakov and his allies would threaten their property and their lives. But those who thought they would be the puppet master of the new leader were rapidly outplayed by him and lost out as well. Drawing on nostalgia for the Soviet past and anger about the rise of income inequality in the 1990s, the nationalism and socialism of Russian conditions, Aleksandrov continues, Putin moved to create “a personalist regime in which ‘the national leader’ appeals to the masses directly” and in which institutions are largely irrelevant. Even the presidency as an institution was rendered irrelevant when Putin installed Medvedev as a placeholder for himself and ran the country from the supposed office of prime minister. “Like Hitler,” Aleksandrov continues, “Putin successfully plays on both these components,” nationalist and socialist, talking about having Russia “rise from its knees” and showing himself willing to put the oligarchs in their place. And in the latter case, Putin has behaved much like Hitler, allowing businesses to retain their property in exchange for total loyalty and willingness to contribute to his causes. But despite all these similarities between “the two personalist regimes,” he says, “there is one important distinction which permits Putin to avoid having any fear of a conspiracy against him.” Knowing that he needed the military for his plans, Hitler didn’t destroy the old German office corps, many of whose members were from the nobility and had their own patriotism. They were prepared to compromise with Hitler but only to a certain point as most were offended by his ideas and knew very well that the fuehrer was leading Germany toward a catastrophe. There is no such group in the Russian military, Aleksandrov says. “Seven decades of Soviet power has destroyed any will to resistance.” Consequently, he concludes, no Russian “Valkyrie” is going to fly, and Putin needn’t fear a threat from that quarter.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 14 – Despite all the ways Russian firms and officials have of minimizing unemployment – cutting hours, not paying workers and simply lying – independent Moscow economic experts say that the condition of the economy is now so dire that unemployment may double to ten percent by the beginning of next year. Anna Pestevera of Kommersant reports that these cuts are likely because it is at the end of the year that companies compile their earnings and losses for the year and make plans for the year ahead, including for the new range of sanctions that the United States is set to impose on February 2 (kommersant.ru/doc/3466194?tw). Alena Vladimirskaya of the Anti-Slavery Project said that major reductions “from five to fifteen percent” are now expected in companies in various branches as a result of the changing economic situation. “Traditionally,” she adds, “reductions in force take place when organizations sum up their financial results,” something that happens from December through March. Georgy Dzagurov of Penny Lane Realty says cutbacks are likely among workers like Uber and other taxi drivers but now among those in the IT sector. Irina Rys of Lanta Bank says they will occur in firms doing business abroad who can tell that their activities are likely to decline in the new year. And Sergey Vikulin, director of the Raschini Fashion House, says that as economic conditions have deteriorated, managers are looking to weed out people who are not being as productive as needed for their companies to survive.
Every country attempts to influence every other country’s elections, on some level. Putin’s statement to Trump is, on many levels, a bold lie. As a longtime technical observer of Russian information warfare, Putin’s statement is a repeat of similar statements he’s made since 2007. ‘We responded to provocation(s) in South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Crimea, Donbas, and Transnistria.’ ‘We didn’t shoot down MH17’. ‘We don’t have troops inside Crimea’. ‘We didn’t cheat at doping in Sochi’. The list is lengthy, the intent is to deceive, his credibility is negligible. Perhaps Putin’s intent is not to deceive, but to deny. “Prove it” has become a reliable fallback position. Cyber attacks against Estonia. Cyber attacks against the US. Against Ukraine. Against all the countries of the world. “Prove it”, and we can’t, don’t, or won’t. The most likely answer is that we will not, we won’t, make an audacious accusation with evidence in hand. That would intimidate the bear, who rattles the nuclear saber whenever confronted. On Monday, Russia is going to announce a response to the US telling Sputnik and RT to register as agents of foreign influence by censuring RFE, VOA, and CNN. Nevermind that CNN is a commercial entity. Russia does these brash, bold, and brazen actions because it can. It continues because the West is incapable of holding up an iron glove that says ‘stop’. We are too weak, too feckless, and too timid to stand up to a playground bully. Our leaders lack the guts, the temerity, and the resolve, all exacerbated by a politically correct culture.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 10 – “The identity of a great power and historical memory about its imperial inheritance in combination with the desire to bring together ‘a divided nation’ can be a dangerous cocktail, especially if people propose a forcible solution of the issue,” according to Aleksey Miller, a professor of St. Petersburg’s European University. That combination already exists in Russia, has been encouraged if not actively promoted by Vladimir Putin, and is gaining acceptance among many Russians, a situation that obviously threatens Russia’s neighbors but also if less obviously Russia itself, the scholar continues (globalaffairs.ru/number/Irredentizm-i-krizis-natcionalnoi-identichnosti-19125). In an interview in the current issue of Rossiya v globalnoy politike, Miller discusses the irredentism and argues that in Russia’s case, “all the dangers arising from a powerful identity of a great power and from its imperial heritage which tempts some to view present-day borders as ‘accidental’ and ‘unjust’ are combined with nationalism. And this is a very dangerous mix.” “When such strivings become an important part of ideology and play a role in the construction of identity,” the St. Petersburg scholar continues, “then at a certain moment it is possible to simply lose control over them.” And that is especially true if leaders appear to be giving such views legitimacy either by their statements or their actions. After his 2007 Munich speech, Puitn was asked by Dmitry Kiselyov whether it was not time to declare Russians “a divided nation” and take action. Putin responded not by saying that people should stop talking such nonsense but rather by suggesting that “one need not talk about this at the top of one’s voice.” That encouraged many. And the Kremlin leader’s actions regarding Crimea did even more, Miller suggests. That event also led to a redefinition for many of the Russian world. Prior to Crimea, many had accepted Patriarch Kirill’s definition of that as a region where Moscow should promote cultural values by soft power. After Crimea, “there was no place for such talk.” But there was another side to this question as well, and it has created problems in Russia, Miller says. “In 2014, many considered that Crimea was the beginning of a big move, ‘a Russian spring’ but with time it became clear that this is not the case.” And consequently, it became obvious that there needed to be a reformulation of the concept of “’the Russian world.’” What was needed but what many have resisted is a return to the definition Patriarch Kirill had offered earlier, of the Russian world as a cultural and non-aggressive construction. But many were not interested in going back to that, and this has become a problem for the Russian state. That is especially the case because of the promotion by the authorities of World War II as the center of national identity, a militant position that means the Russian world has become like a suitcase without a handle, too important to discard but too difficult to carry. What is needed, Miller suggests, is to look inside the suitcase and find out what should be saved and what let go. The issue of a union of Russia and Belarus is “in part an irredentist problem, but in general, this issue is much wider.” It involves “nationalism, identity, relations to the past, historical memory, and much else besides. Addressing Russian communities elsewhere by territorial change is another matter altogether as Ukraine has shown. Any Russian policy of reuniting irredentas in a territorial way, especially when there are “notes in the spirit of Molotov,” clashes with Russia’s interests in cooperating with China or the West. At the very least, it will make it extremely difficult for Russia to present itself as “a supplier of security in Central Asia” and elsewhere. Promoting the resettlement of Russians from abroad into Russia is another matter, but going beyond that to challenge borders entails real risks, the European University professor says. Unfortunately, Moscow has done a very poor job in promoting the return of compatriots from abroad because it demands that they show how they will be “needed” by Russia. That shouldn’t be done, Miller says. Someone who applies to return “simply has the right to do so because he is a Russian. No tin the sense that his father and mother are Russians but that he himself is Russian.” Jews who want to resettle in Israel aren’t asked to show how they are “needed” by Israel, and Russians who want to resettle in Russia shouldn’t be asked that either. If one defines irredentism “in the very broadest sense” as “a striving to ‘save’ the members of one’s people who are located beyond state borders, then this is a type of irredentism, but it is about resettlement” rather than changing borders. That is something Russians need to understand and act upon.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 12 – Donald Trump’s on-again, off-again acceptance of Vladimir Putin’s claim that Moscow didn’t interfere in the 2016 US presidential elections has the effect, like the focus on Watergate during the Nixon Administration of distracting attention from something much larger and more evil. In the case of what has come to be known as Watergate, the White House deployed the plumbers not so much to affect the outcome of the 1972 election, something that Nixon in fact had in the bag but rather to hide all the other illegal actions that the Nixon regime had engaged in earlier. Something similar is happening again but this time concerning a foreign power’s interference in the United States. Most observers are focusing on the election alone, Russian likely at the Kremlin’s insistence and American because as in 1972 that seems 2016 seems the most important thing. But in fact, as Russian commentator Yuliya Latynina, now living in exile, points out, Russia’s interference in last year’s elections in the United States was but a part of a larger “massive, systematic, and long-standing terrorist act” against the Americans and their political system (echo.msk.ru/programs/code/2090088-echo/). At the Kremlin’s direction, Russia “has tried to rape the very fabric of social life of the US,” interfering not only in the elections but in race relations and any other place where Moscow felt it could exploit divisions within American society to weaken its adversary, even as it continued to call for “business as usual” between Moscow and Washington. “Someone advised Putin to conduct information war directly on the territory of the US,” much as it has for decades in the Third World and Europe. “Why is a senseless question,” she continues, for which there is no clearer answer than to one about why “Jack the Ripper killed prostitutes.” It is a question for psychologists. But part of the reason lies in Russia’s fundamental weakness relative to the West and Putin’s desire to obscure this and even turn things upside down. Russia’s economy today is “smaller than the economy of [the US state of] California.” And anyone who travels even 50 kilometers outside of Moscow will see a backward world in which no one would want to live. However, by its very brazenness, the Kremlin “has achieved a miracle: a consensus between Republicans and Democrats about Russia” as a danger to the world and a widespread feeling among the American people if not the occupant of the White House that Russia today has attacked the US in ways analogous to Osama bin Laden’s attacks on 9/11.
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Paul Goble Staunton, November 14 – The situation with regard to Russia’s birthrate is much worse than officials say, Igor Gundarov says. It is not easily correctible as some think but rather reflects a “cascading demographic” decline that now represents the main threat to the national security” of the country. The specialist on health care administration at the Sechenov Moscow State Medical University says that officials want Russians to believe that the reduction in births this year reflects “economic factors” like Western sanction, falling incomes, and the deteriorating situation in health care (ng.ru/kartblansh/2017-11-14/3_7114_kartblansh.html). If that were the case, Gundarov continues, correcting the situation would be relatively easy; but in fact, the situation reflects a deeper set of problems that no one can reverse quickly. Low birth numbers now reflect low numbers of births 18 to 20 years ago when those who now should be giving birth were born. Because the size of that cohort was small, that alone, he points out, “leads to a reduction in the number of marriages and a consequent reduction of births, the first cascade.” That in turn sets the stage for another decline 18 to 20 years from now. And so on and so forth every two decades for as far into the future as experts can project. And that in turn has a devastating impact on the number of working age Russians who are declining by a million a year at present. “If in 2010,” Gundarov says, “there were 88.9 million” working age Russians, in 2016, there were only 82.3 million.” Losses of a million workers a year represents “the most fundamental form of demographic [and hence economic] collapse.” Another sign of this collapse is the striking reduction in the number of unemployed from 6.3 million in 2009 to 4.1 million in 2016. Given the large number of firms that have gone bankrupt and reductions in the number of employed at many others, one would have expected the number of unemployed to go up rather than down. But because the number in prime working-ago cohorts have declined, there are now two advertised vacancies for every unemployed. Many union leaders don’t want to believe this but it is a fact: “unemployment is falling while vacancies are growing,” an indication of a fundamental demographic problem. Leaders like Dmitry Medvedev present these figures with pride, Gundarov says; but if they were being honest, they would be forced to recognize that the working-age population is disappearing more rapidly than are workplaces. If that were not the case, he argues, “the number of unemployed would be 10 to 12 million,” not four. Doing anything about the demographic “cascade” Russia finds itself in “will be extraordinarily difficult.” As a result, Gundarov continues, one must face the fact that the country faces “demographic and socio-economic degradation.” By mid-century, there will be five times fewer Russians in their 20s than there were in 1988. “The Russian people will exist for long years beyond that,” he says, “but not with the status of a geopolitical subject. It will live in a hospice,” and the international community will enter the indigenous population of Russia “into the Red Book of History” for those who are at risk of dying out. Ever more people are beginning to recognize this problem, but they don’t know what to do. Migration is no solution, not least because other CIS countries face the same problems Russia does and will work hard not to let their people leave and work elsewhere. Maternal capital won’t work either. And “even our official pride – the increase in life expectancy to 71.9 years elicits a smile in comparison with our nearby neighbors: Azerbaijan and Armenia have life expectancies of 75, Belarus 74, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan 73, and Kazakhstan and Moldova 72. “After us,” Gondarov says, “is only Ukraine with a life expectancy figure of 71.9.”
Paul Goble Staunton, November 13 – Despite the Kremlin’s upbeat reports about declines in infant mortality and improvements in life expectancy, the past few days have brought five reports about demographic data that are anything but positive and that indeed promise to have an increasingly negative impact on Russia until the Putin system is replaced. They are: 1. Komsomolskaya Pravda today documents that under Putin, Russia has far too many people in the force structures and in government offices and far too few workers to ensure economic growth (kp.ru/daily/26756.5/3786426/). 2. Kommersant reports that the inequality of property ownership in Russia is now just as high as it was in 1905 at the time for the first Russian revolution (kommersant.ru/doc/3462081). 3. Vzglyad notes that divorces are now so numerous in Russia that they are by themselves having a negative impact on birthrates and social stability in Russia (vz.ru/society/2017/11/13/889977.html). 4. Regional news agencies are reporting that migrants are no longer making up for natural declines and outmigration from the millionaire cities of Russia, depressing the amount of funds they get from Moscow and calling into question their futures as centers of development (afterempire.info/2017/11/13/babkina/ and kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5A042202234AE). 5. Demoscope Weekly reports that no nations in the Russian Federation now have birthrates more than twice those of ethnic Russians but that more than 30 of these ethnic groups have higher birthrates than Russians do and that most of these are traditionally Muslim (demoscope.ru/weekly/2017/0711/tema04.php), a pattern compounded by the fact that many of these Muslim groups because rates of alcohol consumption are so much lower than among Russians have far greater life expectancies than Russians do with people in Daghestan, one of the poorest republics, living on average five years more than Russians do (newstracker.ru/news/society/10-11-2017/prodolzhitelnost-zhizni-v-dagestane-dostigla-istoricheskogo-maksimuma-a7b997af-3734-437a-96a6-5a8bd62ec01a).
Paul Goble Staunton, November 15 – A major reason that Moscow has to struggle to find symmetrical responses to anything other countries do is because it lacks many of the institutions that they have but that Russia does not, ranging from media environments open to almost anyone to schools in the languages of many minorities. Consequently, the Kremlin is forced to identify “asymmetrical” replies that often put it even more at odds with others and that at the very least call attention to the lack of institutions on its own territory equivalent to those its government-controlled media complain about when other governments restrict them in any way. A classical example of this involves schools in the languages of minority nationalities in other countries and in Russia. As Radio Liberty’s Pavel Kazarin says, Moscow isn’t in a position to close Ukrainian language schools in response to Kyiv’s promotion of Ukrainian because there aren’t any Ukrainian-language schools in Russia (ru.krymr.com/a/28852778.html). Russia is currently threatening to “limit the activities of Ukrainian media on its territory,” the commentator says; but one is compelled to ask, Kazarin continues, “just what responsive actions is Moscow talking about?” Almost all Ukrainian media already have closed their bureaus and activities in Russia. Russia with remarkable success in many quarters “is conducting itself as if it were the victim of Ukrainian aggression,” when in fact the situation is just the reverse. And it can complain as much as it wants to about Ukraine’s language law, but it can’t symmetrically response because “Ukrainian schools in Russia don’t exist” for the millions of Ukrainians there. Moscow can also complain about the ban on Russian TV channels in Ukraine, but it can’t respond by shuttering Ukrainian broadcasts to Russia because they were long ago shut out of Russian cable networks, except of course for pro-Moscow channels like Intera which by itself is “indicative.” This list of places where Russia has no possible symmetric response because it has already closed out Ukrainian language, information and goods could be extended almost infinitely, Kazarin says. But everyone needs to remember that “the initiator of the divorce of the two countries from the very beginning was Moscow,” not Kyiv. The Ukrainian authorities in recent months have begun to restore the balance to where Russian moves have brought their country, even though Moscow continues to act and some continue to believe that Ukraine is the problem, something that even the most cursory examination of the situation will demonstrate is not the case.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 13 – Russia’s Muslims cannot develop without a reformation of Islamic discourse which unfortunately today remains “in the clutches of an unnatural and unscientific dichotomy of ‘traditional’ and ‘untraditional’ Islam, according to Damir Mukhetdinov, the first deputy head of the Muslim Spiritual Directorate (MSD) of Russia. Speaking at a conference at Kazan Federal University on “Islam in a Multi-Cultural World” timed to coincide with the opening of the Bolgar Islamic Academy, the prominent Muslim modernist calls for “a democratization of discussions and the rejection of the term ‘traditional Islam’” (business-gazeta.ru/article/363580). “Such crude generalizations not only do not reflect all the complexity and diversity of the Islamic intellectual and theological landscape, but they lead us away from an understanding of the essence of problems and the paths of their resolution,” Mukhetdinov says. Indeed, the term “’traditional Islam’” backed by the authorities serves as “an instrument of pressure” on Muslims. According to the mufti, the notion of some “’Islamic gold standard’ is nothing more than an illusion. The Islamic world has developed via many paradigms” and now “under conditions of a pluralism of opinions,” the way is open for “various interpretations of the postulates” of the faith, including those some think cannot be questioned. What is needed, Mukhetdinov says, is the development of “a new methodology and a new conceptual framework for making sense of the Islamic tradition and the construction of Islamic spheres of knowledge. Even the classical division of spheres of knowledge … may be considered out of date.” The modern and post-modern era puts before Muslims challenges very different than those which the Jadids addressed a century ago and indeed may lead to “the second formative period of Islamic thought” (the first being in the seventh to tenth centuries of the common era), he continues. This won’t be easy because it will be necessary to work out a new interrelationship between the classical Islamic tradition and the recent developments of academic Islamic studies. But it is critical that happens, the mufti says, because the latter all too often until recently was “consciously or unconsciously” dominated by the response to the experience of being colonized. “In the last half century,” Mukhetdinov argues, “the situation has changed in a significant way, as a result of the entrance of a new generation of researchers who combine both Western and Islamic traditions.” To date, Islam has been the recipient of this cooperation; with a change in attitude, it can become a contributor. Mukhetdinov’s words may seem precious or marginal, but in fact, they constitute a declaration equivalent to the ones the Jadids made more than a century ago when they too called for the modernization of Islam and Islamic education. Indeed, his call may be even more important. That is because his program represents not only a challenge to the Muslim umma within Russia but to the Russian state which wants to keep Islam within the mosque under the guise that that is what “traditional” – read in this case, Soviet-defined – Islam is all about. And even more it represents an effort by a Russian mufti to reclaim for Russia a leading role in the Muslim world. Resistance from many Muslims and from the Russian state is certain to be intense, but Mukhetdinov’s argument represent a kind of Protestantism within Islam that is likely to be far more attractive than its opponents suspect, especially at a time when the only alternative to “traditional” Islam on offer is Islamist radicalism. And while the mufti does not make this point, it is entirely possible that he sees what he is calling for as representing the golden mean that is highly valued among Muslims between the traditionalists who are losing support and the radicals who are a threat not only to the Russian umma but to the Russian state.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 11 – The Central Asia Policy Group, with funding from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, has released a 52-page report about four of the five countries in Central Asia – Turkmenistan is not included – that details the explosive growth of Islam in the region and the efforts of the governments there to cope. Most of the report is devoted to tracing the history of relations between Muslims and the state in the four countries, but perhaps the most useful information the report offers concerns the current size of the Muslim presence in each of the them and the CAPG’s recommendation for the future. (The entire report, which was just published in Russian in Almaty, is available online atdrive.google.com/file/d/0B_Or2oBlCdPVQmRtU1NQOU4xcEU/view. It has been usefully summarized by the Fergana News Agency at fergananews.com/articles/9618.) The key state institutions supervising Islam in these countries vary as do the non-governmental bodies that supervise mosques and other religious activities. In Kazakhstan, there is a ministry for religious affairs; in Kyrgyzstan a commission; and in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan a committee on religious affairs. Religious parties are banned in all four. The main religious body in Tajikistan is the Islamic Center and Council of Ulema; in all three of the others, there exist Muslim Spiritual Directorates (MSDs) modelled on the institutions, the tsars and communists used to supervise and control religious life. These bodies replaced the MSD for Central Asia and Kazakhstan that existed in Soviet times. The number of mosques and their rate of increase is impressive. In Kazakhstan last year, there were 2516 mosques, up from 68 in 1991; in Kyrgyzstan, there were 2669 mosques, up from 1973 in 2009; in Tajikistan in 2016, 3930; and in Uzbekistan, 2065 mosques. As for religious leaders, there is one imam for every 2210 people in Tajikistan, one for every 7824 in Uzbekistan; one for every 4915, and one for every 2407 in Kyrgyzstan. Thus, respectively, there are now 3914 in Tajikistan, 4100 in Uzbekistan, 3611 in Kazakhstan and 2500 in Kyrgyzstan. There are also an increasing number of religious educational institutions. In Kyrgyzstan. There are 112 registered Islamic schools, including one Islamic university, nine Islamic institutes, and 88 functioning medrassahs. In Kazakhstan, there are a total of 13 such schools; in Uzbekistan, there are 11; but in Tajikistan, there is only one, a major bottleneck. The authors of the report, who come from these four countries, conclude by making five comments about the situation of state-Islam relations in the region: · First, they say, the MSDs are “a continuation of Soviet practice.” · Second, the evolution of state policy toward Islam reflects two vectors which may be called “the struggle for hearts and minds” to legitimate the state and the struggle for votes in elections there. · Third, there has been a continuing and sometimes explosive growth in the number of Muslim institutions, initially chaotic but increasingly controlled and regulated by the state. · Fourth, the prospects for any Islamic political party in any of these countries are non-existent at present. · And fifth, all of the governments in the region and all of the Muslim organizations there are groping toward new principles for creating greater trust between the two sides.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 13 – Russian scholars and officials are proud of the fact that the share of Russian residents who identify with non-ethnic civic Russian identity has risen from 65 percent to 75 percent over the last 12 years, Igor Yakovenko says, forgetting that this is only one of the identities people have and can dissipate faster than any of the others. In an essay for the AfterEmpire portal, the Russian commentator points out that people identify with their country, their region, their nationality and their religion. Sometimes one is more important than another, and sometimes it can disappear overnight as the antecedent of the non-ethnic Russian nation, the Soviet people, did in 1991 (afterempire.info/2017/11/13/monolit/). As Benedict Anderson pointed out, “a nation is an imagined community. [It] exists when people have in their consciousness a mental image of the community as something united within itself and different from all other communities.” Such a definition means that nations are not linked only to the state, as Moscow imagines, but to other things, including regions. Regional identities are powerful in many parts of Russia, but they remain largely under the radar because any push for a regional identity is blocked by legal restrictions and punishments and by the degradation of those, the regional heads, who might otherwise be expected to play a leading role in its articulation, Yakovenko says. “The differences among various regions of Russia are greater than between European countries,” he continues; but the Kremlin seems to think it can run them with people trained cookie-cutter fashion to be one and the same, as if the only way to administer the country is “as a military unit.” But this is what the Kremlin has forgotten: efforts to run all the regions in their diversity in exactly the same way is “the most reliable means of destroying the country” and that the Moscow leaders by their actions “are doing more than ever before for the disintegration of Russia,” making that outcome in fact, “the only possible scenario for the future.” “The unity of the Soviet people turned out to be a fiction. [That] imagined community disappeared and no one wanted to fight for its preservation except for professional communists who di and do this in such a cowardly and unwilling fashion … that even their supporters understood” that their actions were meaningless. Why is regionalism even more than nationalism so powerful? Because, Yakovenko argues, at its basis “lies the desire of the individual to live in that community which consists of people close to him by culture, language and norms of behavior. Such people are inclined to believe that they will be comfortable in such a community.” Democratic nation states make provision for these regional identities in various ways because otherwise they grow into threats to the integrity of these countries. But “imperial regimes – and in Putin’s Russia, there is a clearly expressed regime of an imperial dictatorship – they do not give people the slightest chance to realize their right to self-determination.” Denied the chance to do so within the system, these regional identities become the basis for demands to exit, for the right to create their own state in “parallel” to the one they have been living in. In the past, that meant secession. But now it may mean something entirely different – that that, Yakovenko suggests, may prove an even greater challenge to such empires. Evidence of the growth of “an alternative Russia” are in evidence already, he says. “Ever more people as their chief identity choose not so much the citizenship of the Russian Federation as a virtual community of those people close in spirit to themselves, in communion with which they acquire comfort.” Ever more Russians are learning to earn their incomes online and to make use of virtual currencies like Bitkoin. Indeed, “the Bitnation platform, based on the blockchain technology, allows for the creation of virtual states and virtual peoples” whose “imagined communities” increasingly often “do not correspond with those who have the same citizenship.” “The state as an institution arose when the main source of wealth was land; and therefore the most important function of the state was the protection of its territory and in some cases, its expansion,” Yakovenko says. But now, “the structure of social wealth has changed in a cardinal way.” He continues: “The lion’s share of it consists of the brains of people, their intellects and the technologies established by them … Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jack Ma are much stronger than any state for the simple reason that each of them feeds this state, and if the state acts badly, then each of them has the chance to move” himself and his wealth to another. That has serious consequences for states: “Contemporary states,” Yakovenko continues, “understanding this consider as their main function not so much the protection and growth of territory as the saving and growth of intellect.” An increasing number of Russians in the regions understand this even if Moscow doesn’t yet. But time is very much on their side.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 14 – Most Russians and many others besides when focusing on the demise of the Soviet Union talk primarily about the role of the non-Russian republics or the way in which Lenin, by creating them, laid a delayed action mine under the entire structure and doomed it to eventual failure. And such people when they talk about the possibility that the Russian Federation will go the way of the USSR again focus on the non-Russian republics as the primary threat and argue that if another collapse is to be prevented, Moscow must do away with these “survivals of the past.” But both in their discussion of 1991 and their speculation about the future, most ignore “the big ‘nationality question,’ that is, the role of Russians and Russian nationalism in the demise of the Soviet Union. A new article by Rafael Sattarov on the CAA-Network represents a happy exception (caa-network.org/archives/10749). Sattarov traces the ideas and evolution of what came to be called “the Russian party,” the collective name for “various social groups of Russia who spoke out in defense of the rights and interests of the ethnic Russian people” and who believed that the Russians were subject to move discrimination than any other nation within the USSR. These ideas began to take shape at the so-called Russian Club at the Moscow Society for the Preservation of Cultural Monuments and then spread in the 1970s to include a wide spectrum of people with “predominantly conservative views, including Stalinists and anti-Westernists,” who were famously attacked by Aleksandr Yakovlev in 1972. Historian Leonid Mlechin has pointed out that by that time many in the Russian Party rejected “not only the October but the February revolution” and argued that both were the work of “world Jewry” and aimed at “the destruction of Russia and Russian culture.” Yakovlev’s attack reflected the fears in part of the CPSU about the danger of “open nationalism.” By the 1980s, the Russian Party had “significantly evolved,” Sattarov says. It moved from being anti-Western, anti-Semitic and ruralist to being openly anti-communist. Among its most prominent exponents were the painter Ilya Glazunov and the writer Vladimir Soloukhin, both of whom enjoyed support from senior Komsomol officials. Andrey Amalrik, in the preface to the third edition of his essay, Will the Soviet Union Survive until 1984? noted the communist regime distrusted the Russian nationalists but treated them with a great deal of patience. He warned that “Russian nationalism will give the regime support for a certain time but in the end it will become a threat to the integrity of the country.” By the late 1980s, anti-communists were joined by pro-market forces at the top of the Russian Party, Sattarov says. And they began to promote the idea that the RSFSR needed independence in order to stop bearing the burdens of empire. Boris Yeltsin took up that cause and spread it, winning support among Russians for saying it was time to focus on Russia. Yeltsin’s campaign had the effect of dividing the soviet and party elite in Moscow into two camps, the Soviet and the Russian; and as perestroika spun out of control, the latter became predominant especially after the August 1991 coup and after the West made clear that the republics should have access to the world economy. As one KGB senior officer put it, “the bitter truth is that it was not the American CIA and its ‘agents of influence in the USSR’ that destroyed our great state, but we ourselves.” And it was not the non-Russians but the Russians themselves who took the lead in doing that whatever anyone thinks. “In the disintegration of major empires,” Sattarov argues, “internal events in the metropolitan center play the key role.” When central elites begin to think that the empire is keeping them from achieving their goals, they will act in ways that will trigger the end of empire regardless of what the periphery does. “Today,” he continues, “in Russia itself, it has become fashionable to be nostalgic about the Soviet Union and to regret the collapse of the USSR.’ But those who fall into that trap need to recognize that it was “the Russian question” that played the central role in the demise of that empire and not any other, however much they may have deceived themselves.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 10 – Arguing that if the dispute over the study of Tatar “is not a crisis,” Moscow commentator Oleg Kashin asks rhetorically “then what is a crisis?” and suggests that the language dispute has transformed Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, into Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. By virtue of its size and importance, he says, “Kazan has the right to call itself the Russian Barcelona. Perhaps in the context of events in Catalonia, such a comparison makes a somewhat ominous impression” but under the circumstances, that is just as well given what is at stake (republic.ru/posts/87580). Earlier this year, Moscow offended Kazan by not extending the power-sharing agreement Tatarstan had had with the center since the 1990s, an agreement more symbolic than real but important all the same for that. But the Kremlin clearly feels it can do what it wants and can ignore the Tatars and this history., But even before that conflict could cool down, “Moscow and Kazan got into an argument again,” Kashin says, but this time not about a symbolic agreement but about language which is “vitally important for nation building, statehood, and means power as such.” History should have taught Moscow that touching this issue was dangerous. At the end of Soviet times, Moscow tried to strip Georgia’s constitutional provisions about language but in the face of protests had to back down. And more recently, the language issue in Moldova stood behind and exacerbated the controversy between Chisinau and Transdniestria. However, “in the 27th year of its post-Soviet existence, the federal center suddenly focused on the problem of requiring Russian pupils in the republics to study the local language and chose Tatarstan in which to restore order, precisely the most complicated and potentially conflictual republic with the greatest traditions of soft … and yet very insistent separatism.” If these two events, the refusal of Moscow to extend the power-sharing agreement and the challenge to non-Russian languages, had not occurred so close to each other, one might have considered these accidental “excesses which would not “violate the general course of Russian and Tatarstan history.” But Kashin continues, “when these happened one right after the other without a break, both conflicts look like two parts of some greater process indicating a sharp change in the policy of the Kremlin toward the republics within the Russian Federation.” Clearly, if Moscow gets its way in Tatarstan, the other republics face the same or worse. The Moscow commentator says that two “mutually exclusive remarks” need to be made. First, the administrative territorial system of Russia inherited from Soviet times is “unjust in regard to the Russian majority of citizens of the country who unlike Tatars, Sakha, Maris and others do not have any institutions of a nation state.” “’I am a Tatar is the foundation not only of ethnic but of a regional identification of Tatars who in fact have their own state albeit within Russia … ‘I am a Russian’” has none of those meanings because the oblasts and krays are not charged with supporting the culture and identities of the Russian majorities. The creation of a genuinely equal federal system would be difficult, Kashin says; but it is perhaps the case that Putin with his “practically absolute power” is the only one who could do it. But conflicts like the one he has launched are likely to set that process back or possibly block it altogether. And second, Kashin points out, “neither Tatarstan nor even the less significant republics have lived through the 26 years of the post-Soviet era to no purpose.” They have been cultivating their mythologies and ambitions. “Depriving peoples even of certain signs of statehood is an obvious provocation, the result of which will be national radicalism up to separatism.” “It is possible that no peaceful means of liquidating ethnic autonomies or limiting their rights exist and that a Kazan Gubernia – or even a Petrozavodsk one where there is a Russian majority and where the ‘titular’ nation doesn’t seriously aspire to power – is impossible” and the only way forward is not to tamper with existing arrangements. But the current case suggests Moscow hasn’t thought this through and isn’t as interested in defending the rights of Russians as it is pleased to suggest, Kashin argues. Clearly what is at work are the ambitions of Sergey Kiriyenko, the presidential aide who used to be plenipotentiary in the Middle Volga, and the desire of Rosneft to take over Tatneft. To the extent that is the case, the Moscow commentator concludes, “the final responsibility for both the conflict itself and its results always lies on the center simply because it has much greater chances, resources and experience. Thus, the position of Kazan looks logical and even a compromise, while the behavior of Moscow appears strange and irresponsible.”
Paul Goble Staunton, November 10 – “In comparison with the complete submission of the regional authorities over the last 10 to 12 years, a real parade of sovereignties has brown out, Andrey Pertsev says, with regional officials making it clear that they are not prepared to simply go along with “the new economic and political expansion of Moscow.” The Kommersant journalist in an article for the Carnegie Moscow Center says that these officials “are demanding not money but more freedom of action and are citing the opinion of the people” and reminding the Kremlin that “Russia is a federative state” according to its constitution and laws (carnegie.ru/commentary/74685). Across the country, Pertsev says, “the regions are raising their voices,” complaining about official pressure, Moscow’s imposition of unfunded liabilities, and the center’s taking ever more revenue from them without giving as much back. And both deputies in regional parliaments and some governors are becoming more direct in their criticism and demands. “The re-distribution of income in favor of the center and the reduced regional budgets as a result are calling forth mini-revolts,” he continues. For understandable reasons, “the appeals of the deputies and heads of subjects to the center are extremely polite and soft, but their very existence shows residents” that the regional government is on their side against Moscow. By making such comments and declarations to the center, the regional elites are in effect “washing their hands” and declaring to Moscow “we warned you” how people in the regions feel. Indeed, “the present parade of sovereignties has an important characteristic – in the majority of cases, local officials refer to the opinion of the population or the worsening of its situation.” In this way, Pertsev says, “they remind Moscow in a soft way: Russia by law is a federation, and governors have not a few rights which they haven’t used up to now. Finally, the population has the right to dictate to the powers their opinion – via referendum or even a poll – and that must be taken into account.” “So far,” he continues, “the regional leadership has shown only that it ‘remembers’ its authority and is reflecting how to use it. References to the opinion of the population are also symptomatic. The Center has for many years blocked expressions like ‘stop feeding Moscow’” and taken so much money that the regional elites are now responding in this new way. Their timing is no accident: in a few months, Russia will have presidential elections. “Regional deputies are closer to the ground and know the attitudes of electors more than do official polls. You can’t demand much from a strong and popular power, but a power which is starting to lose its support can face demands.” As Tatarstan’s president “directly said, “we still have to ‘organize elections;’ think and stop what you are doing.” That is a warning to Putin directly if nothing else. And the regions clearly expect that Moscow will have little choice but to show some flexibility and compromise in their direction as a result. But Pertsev continues, “the reaction of Moscow to the parade of sovereignties can hardly be called adequate: this can be seen in Tatarstan where the situation continues to get become more tense, although the region has given consistently high percentages of the vote to the party of power and to Vladimir Putin.” Moscow has offered cheap credits to the regions but it hasn’t returned the share of tax revenues the regions are calling for. According to the Kommersant journalist, “the parade of sovereignties” won’t be stopped by what Moscow has done so far. Instead, this is likely to lead to the voicing of “qualitatively new demands” not for more aid but for more authority.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 11 – Since the beginning of the oblastniki movement in the middle of the nineteenth century, Siberian activists have frequently defined their land as “’Russian America’” because it began to be settled by Europeans at about the same time although it has not yet become independent. That analogy always disturbed tsarist and Soviet officials, Siberian activist Yaroslav Zolotaryev says, and calls in the last five years for the formation of “’a United States of Siberia’” have had the same impact on Moscow officials of the post-communist Russian Federation (afterempire.info/2017/11/10/uss/). On the one hand, it has raised the specter that an enormous portion of Russia was not only seeking independence but doing so in order to copy or even be absorbed by Moscow’s chief geopolitical enemy. And on the other, it has suggested that the Siberians even if they don’t become independent will promote a genuine federal system that would limit Moscow’s power. But now some Siberian regionalists have adopted another model for their future. The US given its enormous wealth and power seems unattainable, but there is a model that they can use that might prove more attractive because more accessible and that is for Siberia to become “a second Canada.”
Paul Goble Staunton, November 12 – It is an article of faith among many Russians that Lenin and the Bolsheviks set the stage for the demise of the USSR by their creation of the non-Russian republics; but such a view, historians say, overstates the ability of the center to define the situation and underrates the role of others including the peoples themselves. No one disputes that the territorial divisions in the former Soviet space lie behind many of the region’s current problems – for a discussion of that, see kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/312123/ — but there is now a lively debate on how those divisions and the territorialization of nationality came into existence (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/312239/). At a regular seminar on “The Caucasus in the Past and Present” held at MGIMO earlier this week, Russian specialists discussed the process by which the three union republics in the south Caucasus and the non-Russian autonomies in the north Caucasus came into existence in the first years after the 1917 revolution. All of them underscored a point that is often lost: the Bolsheviks did not have the chance to draw whatever borders they wanted but rather had to accept or at least seriously take into account the actions of others, ranging from the local Muslim and Christian populations to the anti-Bolshevik movement led in South Russia by General Anton Denikin. Vadim Mukhanov, a specialist on the region at MGIMO, pointed out that “the northern border of Georgia and now of Abkhazia” was drawn not by the Bolsheviks but follows the ceasefire line between the forces of the Georgian Mensheviks and Denikin’s White Armies. Other borders have a similarly complex origin. Some followed the borders of pre-1917 gubernias, others reflected religious divisions that were transformed during the Russian Civil War into ethnic ones. Indeed, in the words of one speaker, Oleg Ayrapetov of Moscow State University, at that time “the words Bolshevik and ethnic Russian were synonyms” for many in the Caucasus. Lyudmila Gatagova of the Moscow Institute of Russian History told the seminar that “after the Great October Socialist Revolution, the center for a time was weak. Until then, the representatives of the national movements simply didn’t have the physical opportunity to manifest their separatism. They were not insane.” As a result, she continued, “1917 was the beginning of a process of establishing nation states on the territory of the empire. Therefore, the conflicts too acquired an inter-ethnic character” although “earlier they were religious and feudal” in their definition. Sergey Manyshev, a Daghestani who also works at the Institute of History, said that Islam played a key role in defining some of the states in the North Caucasus, especially Chechnya and Daghestan, where Muslim leaders found themselves locked in a struggle with socialists. Mkihail Volkonsky, another Moscow historian, agreed and stressed that in 1917, “the Muslims acted as a political subject,” but later what were in fact “Muslim autonomies” were “divided by ethnicity” and it was that redefinition rather than redrawing of lines that created today’s “administrative-political subjects, the national republics.” Unfortunately, Manyshev said, discussing such things in Daghestan has been made difficult by the insistence of officials there that scholars should focus on the Caucasian War of the 18th and 19th centuries rather than on the first years of Soviet power. That needs to change if people are to understand just who created the republics and why.
A Russian judge has summoned state oil company chief Igor Sechin to court a second time after the powerful ally of President Vladimir Putin failed to show up to testify in a high-profile extortion …
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.
Dozens of activists across Russia’s region of Bashkortostan picketed various sites in the region’s capital on November 14, demanding that mandatory Bashkir language classes be continued in schools.
Presidential election campaigns here are normally dry, dull and entirely predictable affairs that end with another resounding victory for Vladimir Putin over a handful of hapless, Kremlin-approved “opponents.”
The Russian president joked that reprisals will follow.
The Kremlin wants good news.
A prominent Russian political scientist says the Kremlin’s demand that companies provide good news to feed state-run media ahead of next year’s presidential elections is “funny” and “absurd.” The Reuters news agency on Tuesday reported that the Kremlin sent a seven-page document to 45 Russian companies in the energy and utilities sector last month, detailing how they should feed the Kremlin news items that would paint the government positively. “Even in the Soviet Union there was not such an idiotic practice,” Gleb Pavlovsky told The Moscow Times on Tuesday. “The Soviet Union had a gigantic propaganda machine that worked on its own to find the right information and prepare it, so it of course didn’t need any help,” the political analyst said. “This is just funny.”
U.S. Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman on November 17 visited the Moscow bureau of RFE/RL, where he told journalists that new Russian legislation targeting foreign media is a “big concern” for the United States. Huntsman said the Russian legislation cannot be considered reciprocation for U.S. actions against the state-controlled RT network under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
The U.S. ambassador to Russia has visited the Moscow bureau of RFE/RL in a gesture of support for American media that could be targeted by new Russian legislation.
The lower house of Russia’s parliament has unanimously approved legislation that would authorize the government to designate media outlets receiving funding from abroad as “foreign agents.”
The Russian parliament is expected to amend the country’s media law on Wednesday to allow the Kremlin to register international media outlets as “foreign agents.”
Russia’s lower house of parliament approved legislation on November 15 that would authorize the government to designate media outlets receiving funding from abroad as “foreign agents.” If President Vladimir Putin signs the measure, articles and broadcasts by registered media must be accompanied by a disclaimer informing audiences of the outlet’s status as a “foreign agent.” RFE/RL’s Russian Service asked people on the streets of Moscow what this label would mean to them.
In Vladimir Putin’s economic pecking order, investors in state-run Russian companies often come after church, country and even sports.
Russia’s Justice Ministry has issued warnings to at least two RFE/RL news services, as Russia’s lower house of parliament passed legislation targeting foreign-funded media outlets in the country.
Russian-appointed court officials in Ukraine’s occupied Crimean Peninsula have convicted a Ukrainian citizen on charges of attempted sabotage and illegally possessing weapons, sentencing the man to five years in prison.
Russia’s Supreme Court has reduced by almost two years the prison sentence for Inga Tutisan, a Russian woman convicted of high treason for sending text messages to Georgian acquaintances about the movement of Russian Navy ships in the Black Sea after the brief 2008 Russian-Georgian war.
Vyacheslav Maltsev, an outspoken Kremlin critic and leader of an outlawed Russian nationalist opposition movement, says he has become a “political refugee” in the European Union.
Kalashnikov which has been owned by state holding company Rostec, will soon be in the hands of private investors.
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect the views of RFE/RL.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea have “intensified persecution” of Crimean Tatars for their opposition to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian region in 2014.
The longtime editor of Russia’s respected Novaya Gazeta newspaper will step down from his post this week.
Dmitry Muratov has accomplished mission impossible. As editor in chief of Novaya Gazeta for the past 22 years, he has guided one of Russia’s only independent media outlets through the hazardous terrain of Vladimir Putin’s rule. From its fearless reporting during the war in Chechnya to its exposés of corruption in Putin’s inner circle to its investigative reports on Ramzan Kadyrov’s brutal suppression of homosexuals, the newspaper has been a beacon for human rights activists and a must-read for Russia-watchers for decades. When much of the Russian media was in denial about Moscow’s complicity in the downing of Flight MH17 back in the summer of 2014, Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta ran the bold headline — in Dutch and Russian — that read: “Forgive Us, Netherlands.” All of this was, of course, not without costs. Six Novaya Gazeta journalists have been killed during Muratov’s tenure — including internationally renowned investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who was assassinated in Moscow in October 2006. In announcing his retirement yesterday, Muratov said that “22 years is too much.” And a colleague simply added that “Dmitry Andreyevich is tired.” Muratov has certainly earned a peaceful retirement. But his stewardship of one of Russia’s most important newspapers will be sorely missed.
The possibility that many Russian athletes could be banned once again from the Olympics, which are due to start in South Korea in February, has become an issue in the run-up to Russia’s presidentia…
A life-size sculpture of President Vladimir Putin has appeared at a ski resort in the Urals region of Chelyabinsk.
Education officials in several Russian cities have begun rescheduling exams and other academic programs for the spring of 2018 because the government plans to use dormitories to house police and se…
Russian state oil company chief Igor Sechin, who was summoned twice this week to testify in an ex-economy minister’s extortion trial but failed to show up, says he will appear when “we can agree on…
Belarus detains UA: Ukrainian Radio correspondent on espionage charges – National TV Company head. Current news and events for 17 November from UNIAN Information Agency
According to unofficial information, he is accused of espionage, – 112
Берасцейскі журналіст Алесь Ляўчук папрасіў міліцыю адшукаць аўтараў каментароў размешчаных на The Brest police have failed to find any harm in comments made by unknown users on a local news website. According to journalist Ales Lyauchuk, they, however, violate the law of Belarus.
A Belarusian court has sentenced a Russian Orthodox priest to 5 1/2 years in prison on attempted pimping and human trafficking charges.
Transnistria / Moldova Reports
Moldovan President Igor Dodon stated in an interview with the Russian “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” that he believes that Transnistria has two paths …
During an interview with the Russian publication Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Moldovan President Igor Dodon expressed the belief that Moldova does not …
Romania has expelled a pro-Russian Serbian nationalist and banned him from entering the NATO country for 15 years after he allegedly attempted to obtain classified information on military installat…
Ukraine ranks 17th in Global Terrorism Index 2017. View news feed from Ukrainian Independent Information Agency UNIAN – news about social life for 15 November
Ukraine’s President and Wess Mitchell discussed progress of reforms in Ukraine
Wess Mitchell, the representative of the US Department of State who pays the visit to Ukraine claimed on the support of the US in the fight against Russian aggression – US is solid for Ukraine in fight against Russian aggression, – Wess Mitchell – 112.international
US is solid for Ukraine in fight against Russian aggression, – Wess Mitchell
Ukraine wants a simple message: “Once you’re ready – you’re in”. Our job would be to get ready.
Ukraine to EU: Tell us what we’re fighting for. View news feed from Ukrainian Independent Information Agency UNIAN – news about politics for 15 November
President Petro Poroshenko welcomed the recent decision of the Third Committee of UN General Assembly, as the authority approved the updated draft resolution on human rights in Crimea
The defence ministers of Canada and Ukraine will meet during the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference to be held next week in Vancouver, Canada.
Kuchma: Russia suggests redrawing Ukraine border in east. View news feed in news about politics for 17 November from UNIAN Information Agency
Russia seeks to fence off occupied Crimea from Ukraine before July 2018. View news feed in news about politics for 17 November from UNIAN Information Agency
The $7 billion megaproject is the latest in a series of the type much beloved by President Vladimir V. Putin, broadcasting his claim to the Crimean peninsula and touting Russian engineering.
Paul Goble Staunton, November 14 – Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the self-proclaimed leader of the Russian client statelet, the Donetsk Peoples Republic, has called for the confiscation of all agricultural food products and their being handed over to his regime, an ugly order in and of itself and especially ugly given Ukraine’s experience with the Holodomor in 1932-1933. The order, dated November 3 and posted on his regime’s website at old.dnr-online.ru/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Ukaz_N291_03112017.pdf, specifies that “cereals and grains, as well as fruits growing on bushes, trees and vines that have been harvested without permission on state and municipal plots are the property of the Donetsk Peoples Republic.” As the Euromaidan Press points out, similar measures were “in effect during the 1932-1933 Holodomor in Ukraine when … Stalin imposed a repressive new law on the protection of state property” and used it to confiscate food from those who were already starving (euromaidanpress.com/2017/11/13/dnr-leader-zakharchenko-orders-confiscation-of-local-crops). And the analogy is made even more compelling because, as the news service points out, “previously OSCE observers [had] reported seeing trucks full of cereals and grains on Russian-controlled territories in Ukraine moving towards the Russian-Ukrainian border and into the Russian Federation,” just as happened under Stalin. This report raises three questions: Who in fact ordered it? Why did that person do so? And what should be the reaction of Ukrainians and people of good will around the world? The answers to each are obvious. First, it is clear that this order originated not in the mind of Zakharchenko but from Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. As Kurt Volker pointed out last week, Moscow controls “100 percent” of what happens in the Donbass (thinktanks.by/publication/2017/11/05/kurt-volker-rossiya-na-100-kontroliruet-proishodyaschee-na-donbasse.html). Putin thus has to be held responsible for this horrific action and not allowed to escape public censure and, one hopes, eventual punishment for this crime against humanity as well as so many others. Second, Putin ordered it both to shore up morale among his fighters and to provoke Ukrainians into actions that will isolate it from the West. By issuing an order like this, Putin has sent a clear message to his fighters that they can expect no quarter if they are defeated and thus must be prepared to fight to the very end. And he clearly hopes as he has so often to provoke his opponents, in this case, the Ukrainians, into taking actions or making statements in response for which they will be condemned and thus allow him to escape responsibility for what he has initiated. Putin knows how central the Holodomor is to Ukrainians and how many of them will respond. Finally, third, Ukrainians and their many friends and supporters around the world must recognize that this order and its Kremlin origins can best be countered not by violence or dramatic actions but rather by a calm insistence that everyone recognize just what the world is up against as long as Putin remains in power.
Kremlin says swap of Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia not on agenda. View news feed in news about politics for 17 November from UNIAN Information Agency
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told leaders of Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk that he favors a plan for a prisoner swap with Kyiv, in a rare ack…
Ukraine’s main security agency says it welcomes “any steps” by Russia that would facilitate exchanges of people held by Kyiv and the Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says that regardless of a potential UN peacekeeping operation in eastern Ukraine — where government forces have been battling pro-Russia separatists since 2014 — both sides must implement the full range of measures in the Minsk peace agreements. In an interview with RFE/RL’s Balkan Service during a visit to Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, on November 16, OSCE Secretary-General Thomas Greminger also said the organization is routinely discussing the human rights situation in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that was annexed by Russia in 2014. (RFE/RL’s Balkan Service)
Russia deployed four times as many tanks in Donbas than British army has – Klimkin. Current news and events for 16 November from UNIAN Information Agency
Four years since Russia incited an uprising, Europe’s focus has moved on to Brexit, Isis and migration
The Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Andriy Parubiy addressed Wess Mitchell, the new Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian …
17.11.17 13:47 – No Ukrainian soldier killed or injured Nov. 16, over 90 mortar shells hit positions at Svitlodarsk salient, – ATO HQ The combined Russian and terrorist forces keep committing attacks on the anti-terrorist operation (ATO) soldiers traditionally after dark using heavy weapons in violation of the Minsk peace deal. View news.
It is reported that the verdict came into force
Three militants have been sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for killing Stepan Chubenko, a 16-year-old teenager from Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, the press service of the Donetsk Regional Prosecutor's Office has reported.
Who will be responsible for running things in the Ukrainian army, and how the Armed Forces abandon the Soviet model of management, accepting the NATO model instead?
For nearly a month, Russian authorities are keeping two Ukrainian border guards in a Moscow jail, denying them any contact with the consul or relatives. Ukrainian law enforcement agencies tend to believe they were abducted in order to trade them for two FSB officers captured after an illegal border crossing in South Ukraine. Meanwhile, Ukrainian media write that that Russian special task forces may prepare to catch more victims from the Ukrainian military.
The buildings are checked by service dogs and explosives experts 112
General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Published on Nov 7, 2017 A complex of pilot flight tests of anti-aircraft guided mid-range missiles has successfully completed in the Kherson region. In total, 23 rounds were fired by the Buk-M1 and S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, 11 unmanned aerial vehicles of the type “BP-3” Reis “and at definite airspeed coordinates. In addition, more than 20 launches were carried out by units of the Ground Forces from the anti-aircraft missile complexes “OSA”.
The command of the Air Forces of Ukraine reported about 23 rounds of anti-aircraft missiles in the Kherson region. In addition, it is indicated that the launches were made from anti-aircraft systems Buk-M1 and S-300 (without specifying the modification). The editorial board of MIL.IN.UA drew attention to a photo published a day earlier on the website of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine in the news “In the Kherson region, practical measures of pilot flight tests are continuing”. Attention has attracted an object located in the background. The editors came to the conclusion that this is a mast of the launcher 9A83 rocket system S-300V1. On October 1, we already reported on the noticed transportation of these systems by the roads of Ukraine. According to the available online information, it is known that in the Armed Forces Air Forces the S-300V1 units were in storage before the war with Russia. After 2014, at least 1 separate anti-aircraft missile division was restored. In particular, one of the launchers was on duty at the ATO headquarters in the Donetsk region.
Ukraine is interested in purchasing Polish 155-mm artillery units “Krab”, a Polish turret plan to install on the Ukrainian chassis of the “Oplot” tank. This was stated in an interview with Uriadovyi Kurier, the commander of missile forces and artillery of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Vyacheslav Gorbilov. Informs the National Industrial Portal. He said that the plan for the development of artillery in the armed forces is a gradual transition to a 155-mm caliber, used by NATO countries. “We are not interested in the dynamic development of the Polish CMU of 155 mm Krab … 155 kg Krab … Polish colleagues offer Krab as the best alternative to replacing the Soviet-style SPH, despite the high cost of such a platform,” the commander said. According to Vyacheslav Gorbilov, the Polish SAC has a fast pace and a high range of shooting. In addition, the system of artillery fire control developed in Poland is installed in this SPH.
Recently, the photo appeared on the photo of another fighter Su-27, after repairs ready to join the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The flight number of this machine is number 23. She still did not appear in the ranks ready for her direct tasks. Taking into account the installed submarine SU-27, this machine will be at least 36th by the account. It is noteworthy that the photo shows not only the finished machine, but the next tail, on which work is under way. And so – it will continue!
On November 12, 2017, Dubai Air Show began. Two Antonov airplanes are exhibited here: AN-132D aircraft-demonstrator, prototype of the AN-132 multipurpose transport and AN-70 military STOL transport. ANTONOV Company presents the AN-132 program together with Saudi partners. The AN-132D took part in the demo flights program. Test crew captained by Bohdan Zagorulko, test pilot of the 2nd class, co-piloted by Andrii Gorin, test pilot of the 3rd class, showed maneuverable characteristics of the aircraft in the sky over Dubai. According to Oleksandr Kryvokon, Acting President of ANTONOV Company, «participation in Dubai Air Show is very important for our enterprise. This is good opportunity to present modern programs, our aircraft to potential customers from Middle East». Negotiations on delivery of components for AN-132 series production, design of new modifications of the airplane, after-sale support of Antonov aircraft operated in the MENA countries were also conducted.
The Antonov aviation design and aircraft manufacturing company headquartered in Kyiv and part of the Ukrainian Ukroboronprom state-run defense industrial enterprise, intends to upgrade its An-70 military transport aircraft. The press service of Ukroboronprom stated that the company intended to attract aviation companies from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey to help implement the required changes. As part of the enhancements, the An-70 will receive new aviation electronics and will eliminate Russian-manufactured parts, becoming the second aircraft in the country after the An-132 to not have any parts supplied from its neighbor. In 2016, the First Deputy President of the Antonov aviation company, Oleksandr Kotsiuba, in an interview with Liga.net, admitted that the An-70 is approximately 50% is reliant on Russian spare parts. “For example, propfan engine propellers for the An-70 are produced only in Stupino, Russia. This is a unique mechanism, vital to An-70’s operability in its current design. We have an option either to produce the exact propellers or to install a new engine,” Kotsiuba said. The An-70 is one of latest aircraft models designed by the Antonov aviation company. The project started back in early 1990’s, and the last tests just ended in the spring of 2014. The aircraft has a cruise speed of up to 780 km/h, a flight range of up to 7,800 km, and is able to land on a 600-800m grass strip. The aircraft has short take-off and landing configurations and impressive weight-lift characteristics allowing it to carry up to 300 airborne troops or 47 tons of cargo. The price for the An-70 is $67 million USD. Until now, there have been only two test An-70s produced. The An-70 is the main competitor to the Russian Il-476 aircraft and the French Airbus A400M aircraft.
Ukrainian aero-engine manufacturer MOTOR SICH unveiled a new upgraded variant of the Mi-8MSB and Mi-2MSB helicopters at the Dubai Airshow 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Ukraine’s Motor Sich is offering a number of indigenously developed enhancements for the Mi-8 medium multirole and Mi-2 lightly transport helicopters. The new version Mi-8MSB and Mi-2MSB helicopters are Ukrainian re-motorized versions of the Soviet multipurpose Mi-8T and Mi-2 helicopters, modernization of which is performed by the Zaporozhe-based MOTOR SICH company. The Mi-8MSB helicopters are equipped with the new TV3-117VMA-SBM1-4E turbo-shaft engine with a capacity of 1,000 horsepower. The Mi-2MSB helicopter is equipped with a new AI-450M engine with a capacity of 465 horsepower.
The UkrOboronProm SC, Kharkiv State Aircraft Manufacturing Company and U.S.-based Oriole Capital Group reached an agreement on powerful investment into the Kharkiv enterprise. Under the terms of the agreement, UKROBORONPROM (UOP) enterprise “Kharkiv State Aircraft Manufacturing Company” will receive the order for aircraft mass production in the amount of 150 million USD. The agreement was reached during the international exhibition Dubai Airshow 2017, currently held in the United Arab Emirates. First of all, this involves mass production of Ukrainian An-74 aircraft of various modifications at the facilities of the Kharkiv State Aircraft Manufacturing Company. In turn, Oriole Capital Group will invest in the production, modernization, and sales of AN-74 aircraft. Key to the strategic partnership is a focus on modernizing existing production and processes, re-employment of the plant’s workforce of 3,000 people, and an aircraft and avionics modernization program that will further differentiate the unique performance capabilities of the AN-74. In addition, Kharkiv State Aircraft Manufacturing Company will receive orders for the manufacture of spare parts for aircraft, maintenance and pilot training.
U.S. company to invest $150 mln in production of An-74 aircraft – Ukroboronprom. View news feed in news about economy for 14 November from UNIAN Information Agency
The main advantages of Ukrainian APCs are reliability, multi-purpose capability and ease of use
Protesters criticized the dismantling of the monument and named those who demolished it fascists and banderivtsi
Ukraine has a good fundamental scientific base, in particular, in the space, mathematical, and other fields
13.11.17 18:35 – Law enforcers believe death of political analysts in deadly road accident last September was premeditated murder The pretrial investigation of the deadly road accident in the Rivne region on Sept. 6, 2017 that caused death of five political analysts has found that the truck driver deliberately collided with their car. View news.
The conditions for a possible tranche are land reform and the establishment of the Anti-Corruption Court
Johannes Hahn, the EU’s European neighborhood policy and enlargement negotiations commissioner, says he is working on lowering the roaming tariffs between the EU and Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine, …
Ukraine’s population to drastically shrink by 2050 – scientists. View news feed in news about social life for 12 November from UNIAN Information Agency
The anti-Ukrainian rhetoric of Polish officials plays into Russia’s hands; it undermines the unity within the EU with regard to anti-Russian sanctions
Ukrainian investigators have opened a criminal probe into suspected extortion by members of a sister anticorruption body.
New York Times depicts Crimea as disputed territory
Ukraine’s ambassador: Austrian “friends” visiting occupied Crimea violate EU norms. Current news and events for 12 November from UNIAN Information Agency
Expulsion, but not liberation – this way it is correct today to evaluate the day of November 6 in the history of Ukraine, although it is not customary for the whole society
The October Revolution signifies different things for Russians and Ukrainians. A Russian thinks not of himself but of the power of the state that can conquer and humiliate other nations. For a Ukrainian, the state is simply the possibility of safeguarding his own freedom and prosperity. During Soviet times, each anniversary of the October coup in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) was marked exactly the same way in all the union republics — in standardized fashion, as a continuing great holiday accompanying the “triumphant march of Soviet power.” Apart from these celebrations, the histories of the nations that formed the Russian Empire developed along different paths that diverged not simply from October 1917, but from February 1917 as well. The fact is that the Bolsheviks ensured the unity of this empire not simply with ideology but with blood. And, as the new state developed, this inhuman ideology turned into a cover for traditional Great Russian chauvinism. And we continued to live a fake history, in a falsified, fictitious reality. It was the October 1917 coup that marked the difference between the fates of Russians and Ukrainians, the difference between their past and their future.
On Thursday, November 2, a press conference was held at the Ivano-Frankivsk Regional State Administration on the final excavation of human remains on Lenkavsky Street, not far from the city’s central lake. Specialists of the municipal enterprise “Pamyat” (Memory) discovered and exhumed 134 bodies, as well as many personal belongings. Press conference in Ivano-Frankivsk
Kyiv animal rights activists in defense of wolves, ferrets, badgers. UNIAN pictures
For many years, fundamental human rights of Ukrainians have been violated, but from now onward the dignity of Ukrainian Christians is not offended
Ukrainian anticorruption investigators have opened a criminal case into suspected unlawful enrichment by the country’s powerful prosecutor-general, Yuriy Lutsenko.
Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports
Israel and Saudi Arabia are in full agreement about Iran’s intentions, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot tells Elaph, noting the two states have never fought each other
They are united by their desire to contain Iranian influence, even if the Saudis don’t want to go public with their relationship.
The head of the armed forces said there was a “complete consensus” between Israel and Saudi Arabia in tackling their mutual foe, Iran.
IDF Chief of Staff Lt.Gen. Gadi Eisenkot took secret trip to Brussels to meet with top US general to discuss Iranian moves in Syria.
Russia cast its 10th veto on Thursday of United Nations Security Council action on Syria since the war began in 2011, blocking a U.S.-drafted resolution to renew an international inquiry into who is to blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
Russia, Syria’s most important ally, vetoed a resolution to extend investigators’ mandate
The United Nations Security Council is due to vote November 16 on rival U.S. and Russian proposals to renew an international investigation into who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks in Sy…
Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts in Sochi next week to discuss the yearslong civil war in Syria, the Kremlin says.
The U.S. is keeping its troops in Syria and continues to press for a political settlement to that country’s civil war. It’s far from clear the U.S. has sufficient leverage to achieve that.
In-depth: Iran is arming anti-American Shia militias, including one labeled a terrorist organization, through the Iraqi government, an American ally, writes Austin Bodetti.
Six long-range bombers taking off from home bases in Russia overflew Iran and Iraq to strike sites held by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria’s Deir al-Zor Province, the Russian military says.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin met briefly on the sidelines of a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in Vietnam on Saturday and agreed on the need for a political solution to Syria’s conflict.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump expressed their determination to defeat the extremist group Islamic State in Syria in a joint statement approved on the sidelines of…
About six weeks ago a "close call" took place between planes of the Russian Air Force and the US-led international coalition. The military was …
Russian President Vladimir Putin is to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on November 13.
Turkey has completed the procedure of purchasing S-400 anti-air missile systems from Russia, Turkish Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli announced, …
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reaffirmed his country’s interest in purchasing a missile defense system from Russia despite concern about the deal among Ankara’s NATO allies.
A brave new book describes how Pakistan unraveled — and provides a blueprint for understanding declining pluralism across the Middle East.
Foreign Policy Reports
Despite the daily commentary on the divisions within Cabinet and the Conservative Party at large over Britain’s future relationship with the European Union
European Parliament lawmakers overwhelmingly passed a resolution praising reforms in Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova and said the three former Soviet republics could eventually be considered for memb…
“Pray for an Islamic Holocaust,” read one poster seen at the march.
The Serbian Prosecutor’s Office filed 45 cases against mercenaries who fought in eastern Ukraine and Syria, reported the Serbian newspaper …
It comes as the country teeters on the brink of a default.
Russia said it had agreed to minimal repayments over six years on more than $3bn in debts.
President Robert G. Mugabe was in custody, military officials said, adding that they would be “targeting criminals around him” as “the situation in our country has moved to another level.”
The military takeover comes amid heightened tensions between factions of the ruling party.
Analysts have described the Zimbabwean military’s house arrest of President Robert Mugabe, his wife Grace, and other top state officials as a coup d’état, despite military leaders denying that it has usurped the presidency.
A dual-citizenship crisis roiling Australian politics has claimed its eighth lawmaker, with independent Senator Jacqui Lambie resigning after revealing she contravened the constitution.
Federal politicians will be required to publicly disclose their citizenship history and status by December 1 under a deal agreed to by the government and opposition.
Strategy / History / Capability Publications
Alexander Diugin (“Putin’s brain”) justifies far-reaching Russian interferene in Western democracies, on the basis of a radical neofascist worldview-and his views are being taken very seriously.
After four years of nearly fruitless debate, nations are gathering once more to talk AI and autonomous weapons.
The Russian military is putting several different unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) through tests to see which design offers the most utility.
I’ll hear the bass percussion thump of mortar rounds and rockets exploding as long as I live. – Anonymous West Point graduate Imagine yourself among 35,000 people at West Point’s Michie Stadium, home of the Army football team. It is overtime and the Black Knights need to protect their tenuous three-point lead to beat the Temple University Owls. After calling a timeout to freeze the Temple kicker, the teams once again line up for the field goal attempt that, if successful, will send the game into a second overtime. Brig. Gen. Steve Gilland, commandant of cadets, grabs the “Noise” sign and the entire corps of cadets, the cadet spirit band, the West Point band, and thousands in the crowd oblige with a deafening roar of screaming voices, pounding drums, and blasting instruments. Is this sound merely a means by which fans can feel closer to the action, becoming a part of the effort to win? Or does it have an effect on the athletes? In 2013, Kansas City Chiefs fans reached a then-record 137.5 peak decibels. The opposing team had several false starts and delay of game penalties, because they could not hear during team huddles or on the line of scrimmage. Fans who are engaged in a game cheer louder and longer and feel connected to the players. Can players use this sound to their advantage, or are they helpless to overcome the distraction?
The new long-range missile sensors will have improved targeting tech.
The U.S. Air Force B-52 squadron fighting Islamic State terrorists in the Middle East soon will be the first to field a key upgrade that will allow the venerable “BUFF” to carry eight additional smart weapons into battle.
Sierra Nevada Corp. plans to conduct a series of progressively higher-altitude drop tests of its Dream Chaser spacecraft after the success of this flight.
Japan’s Kawasaki C-2 airlifter begins a hunt for orders in the Middle East. Two General Electric CF6-80 turbofans power the 69-metric ton aircraft.
Lockheed Martin’s radar experts in Syracuse are introducing new air surveillance technologies to counter emerging threats from quadcopters to reentry vehicles.
The United Arab Emirates appears to be all-in on the Joint Strike Fighter, but has yet to allay concerns over protecting sensitive information.
For the first time, doctors test an in-body DNA-editing therapy in an attempt to rid a 44-year old man of Hunter syndrome, an incurable genetic disease.
Social media moguls’ disregard for facts may have facilitated Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. But Russia’s success in peddling bogus news via Twitter and Facebook exposed more fundamental problems: a poorly educated electorate and a news industry that has become concentrated in ever-fewer hands.
A Russian “troll factory” is working with rebels in eastern Ukraine to discredit pro-Ukrainian elements, BBC Russian has learned.
Should in-theatre commanders be allowed to launch attacks that currently require approval from the national command authority?
Industry leaders meeting at Techonomy17 say the information war has begun—and the tech community must try to fight back
To the best of my knowledge, the United States government does not employ “opinion shapers”, or paid trolls. At least in the conventional world. I know of several projects where up to 40 fake personalities were created per user. I do not know the classification of their use, however, but the initial RFI was unclassified.…
The evidence was “irrefutible,” the Russian defence ministry claimed: The US is supporting ISIS. The proof: a series of photos it posted on its social feeds. The only problem: they’re fake.
Here is yet more evidence that Russia is manufacturing disinformation. Irrefutable proof, if I may. Pun intended. Russia is manufacturing disinformation and is doing a damn terrible job of it. Not only are the pictures of known events, but they are using screenshots from popular video games. This puts doubt on any evidence that Russia…
Russia’s Defense Ministry presents video game footage as ‘irrefutable evidence’ of U.S.-ISIS ties – media. Current news and events for 14 November from UNIAN Information Agency
Governments worldwide are increasing efforts to manipulate information on social media, undermining democracy and creating an overall decline in Internet freedom, according to Freedom House.
Diplomats doubt that additional funds will make a change
Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Kasperksy Lab is releasing new details about how its software uploaded classified U.S. documents several years ago.
UK spymasters raise suspicions over Kaspersky’s Russia links – FT. View news feed in world news for 13 November from UNIAN Information Agency
A serial leak of the agency’s cyberweapons has damaged morale, slowed intelligence operations and resulted in hacking attacks on businesses and civilians worldwide.
The team of researchers needed only two days in September 2016 to remotely hack into the passenger plane
Robert Hickey, a Homeland Security cyber investigator, managed to take over the passenger jet at Atlantic City airport, New Jersey (stock image).
US Domestic Policy Reports
Gazprom says new U.S. sanctions pose risks for gas pipelines bypassing Ukraine. View news feed in news about economy for 14 November from UNIAN Information Agency
The President insisting that he believes Vladimir Putin’s claim of not meddling in the US election overshadowed any positives from the Asia trip, Julian Zelizer says.
The presidents of the US and Russia did not have a formal meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in …
President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will not hold a formal meeting at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit here in Vietnam, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has told reporters. But the two world leaders did informally speak a couple times during the two-day meeting.
Amid five-state tour of Asia, the president fired off a series of unfettered tweets Saturday about foreign leaders
U.S. President Donald Trump, in a stream of Twitter postings on November 12, says having a positive relationship with Russia is “a good thing” and that Moscow can “greatly help” solve crise…
What the U.S. president may have in mind when he tweets about teaming up with Putin “to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism.\”
In any other administration, this awkward and silly man would be at the bottom of the barrel. In Trump world, he’s in the middle quintile.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he might soon appoint a special counsel to investigate an Obama-era deal in which a Russian company bought a Canadian firm that owned about 20 percent of U….
The sale to a Russian company of a Canadian firm with rights to mine U.S. uranium is once again in the news with the Department of Justice signaling it could appoint a special counsel to look into the matter.
His Wife’s Campaign Received $700,000 from Clinton Friends (Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released Justice Department records showing that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe did not recuse himself from the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unsecure, non-government email server until Tuesday, November 1, 2016, one week prior to the presidential election. The Clinton email probe was codenamed “Midyear Exam.” While working as Assistant Director in Charge of the Washington Field Office, McCabe controlled resources supporting the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. An October 2016 internal FBI memorandum labeled “Overview of Deputy Director McCabe’s Recusal Related To Dr. McCabe’s Campaign for Political Office,” details talking points about McCabe’s various potential conflicts of interest, including the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s illicit server, which officially began in July 2015: While at [Washington Field Office] did Mr. McCabe provide assistance to the Clinton investigation? After the referral was made, FBI Headquarters asked the Washington Field Office for personnel to conduct a special investigation. McCabe was serving as [Assistant Director] and provided personnel resources. However, he was not told what the investigation was about. In February 2016 McCabe became Deputy Director and began overseeing the Clinton investigation.
Advisor Sid Blumenthal Writes: ‘Serious Trouble for Libyan Rebels’ (Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch today released 109 pages of new Hillary Clinton emails from her tenure as secretary of state. The documents include two email exchanges classified confidential and a 2011 exchange with Sid Blumenthal about “serious trouble for the Libyan rebels.” The newly-produced emails were part of 72,000 pages of documents the FBI recovered last year in its investigation into Clinton’s use of an unsecure, non-government email system. The records include emails Hillary Clinton attempted to delete or did not otherwise disclose. Two heavily redacted emails marked Classified Confidential included a November 2011 exchange under the Subject: “Egyptian MFA on Hamas-PLO talks,” and a June 28, 2011 email from Clinton to Abedin in which Clinton writes “I have now promised the Kuwaiti PM 3 times that I will deliver an address at the Oxford Islamic Center. Pls be sure that’s on the list for next Fall/next year.” On March 9, 2011, Sid Blumenthal emailed Clinton about the situation in Libya, with the subject line “H: serious trouble for Libyan rebels. Sid” The email discusses urging leaders of the National Libyan Council (NLC) “to consider hiring private troops (mercenaries) to support, organize, and train the rebel forces in Libya.” Blumenthal adds that “a small number of private troops could turn the battle against Qaddafi’s forces, particularly if they are equipped with sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons.” Clinton asks former aide Huma Abedin to “print for me w/o any identifiers”. The Washington Times reported Libyan officials were deeply concerned in 2011 that Clinton was responsible for weapons being funneled to NATO-backed rebels in Libya with ties to al Qaeda.
Marking eight years since whistle-blowing lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in a Moscow jail, the United States has pledged to continue enforcing legislation imposing sanctions on Russians over human ri…
About 15 percent of U.S. government agencies have detected Kaspersky Lab’s software on their systems in a review prompted by concerns that the Russian antivirus firm is vulnerable to Kremlin influe…
As senators raise concerns about ‘unstable’ Donald Trump’s decision-making, former commander says military is ‘not obligated to follow illegal orders’
Just say no to regime change. It hasn’t worked in the past and it won’t now.
The July 2016 accident came at a critical time in the controversial littoral combat ship program, following engineering mishaps bedeviling the Milwaukee and Fort Worth.
Though lawmakers revised the so-called \”Amazon amendment,\” only a small number of companies could provide the government with an e-commerce site.
A new Congressional Budget Office report sheds light on the issue.
Last year the Battle of Jutland was all the rage, with the 100-year anniversary and renewed interest in a book about the lead up to naval war at the start
Some people are upset with the recent contrail pattern they say is obscene that was left in the sky by Navy aircraft in Okanogan County, Washington.