Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (26)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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While Salisbury and the Syrian CW attack have dominated media this week, other interesting developments took place:

  1. Ukrainian intel reporting evidence of possible intent by Russians to launch full scale invasion in Q3 2018, being supported by sustained buildup, while NATO actively encourages Ukraine to join the alliance;
  2. Sanctions produce major impacts in Russia with Rouble and stocks in difficulty, while Russian counter-sanctions appear to be at best of nuisance value to the US and possibly more damaging to Russia than to the US;
  3. A great many reports showing Russia’s continuing descent down the abyss, Portnikov predicting a possible Yugoslavia scenario (which is entirely possible if the marginalisation of minorities continues), reports of legislation to build a new Iron Curtain between Russia and its neighbours, erupting permafrost “Pingo” problem may be more severe than reported putting Russia’s ability to export gas at risk, curious historical report on Ivan the Terrible telling all and sundry he was a German rather than Russian (the last of the Rurik dynasty he was of Finnish, Swedish, Greek and Tartar descent), finally the single biggest Russia story in the West dealing with Russia domestically was a horrific medical blunder in a Russian hospital;
  4. Interesting reports from Belarus and Kazakhstan;
  5. Ukraine to exit the CIS, revoke much of the Friendship Treaty with Russia, Turchenov describes the denuclearisation of Ukraine to be a “historical mistake” (hard to dispute given the West’s failure to defend Ukraine in 2014), Donbass fires continue, Russians flooding a Donbass mine used for a nuclear test risking bomb residue entering the water table, Vilkha GMLRS testing being finalised, more on space industry, Savchenko troubles continue;
  6. Other than the CW attack, a new paper by Dr Cordesman, and many reports on Iran and Israel;
  7. DPRK talking about denuclearising, argumentation on Russia-PRC alliance, Chinese naval parade, influence ops, Sth China Sea, new CV, and intensive argument over basing in Vanuatu (replaying Japan’s WW2 strategy);
  8. In the foreign policy domain, Pres Poroshenko wants to strip Russia of its UNSC veto powers (and many will agree with him), Nordstream 2 debate intensifies, and Putinist Orban wins an increased majority in Hungary and now intent on dismantling democracy altogether;
  9. Tech reporting mostly on programs;
  10. IW/IO/Cyber reports dominated by Facebook and Russian hacking;
  11. US domestic arguments destabilised by what is described as “Donald Trump has apparently flipped on Vladimir Putin”

NATO / EU / Russia Reports

Putin mulling new invasion of Ukraine in autumn – SBU | UNIAN

First Deputy Head of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine Viktor Kononenko has said the leadership of the Russian Federation plans another attempt to destabilize Ukraine in autumn under the old pretext of “protecting Russian-speaking population,” which involves a subsequent invasion by the Russian regular troops. Moscow allegedly plans to involve criminals, “athletes” and other criminal-related structures “for beating participants of pro-Russian events and religious processions” to use it as a pretext. First Deputy Head of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine Viktor Kononenko has said the leadership of the Russian Federation plans another attempt to destabilize Ukraine in autumn under the old pretext of “protecting Russian-speaking population,” which involves a subsequent invasion by the Russian regular troops. Speaking at a briefing in Kyiv, Kononenko said the SBU has information on the Kremlin’s plans, including “the existence of a group in Putin’s entourage, which has a goal to create prerequisites for the introduction of the Russian troops to Ukraine in autumn under the pretext of protecting the Russian-speaking population,” the Ukrainian news outlet Liga.net reported. Read alsoPoroshenko: Several divisions of Russian army at Ukrainian border fully set for intervention Kononenko says that to make the idea a reality, Moscow allegedly plans to use criminals, “athletes” and other criminal-related structures “for beating participants of pro-Russian events and religious processions.” Earlier, chief of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Hrytsak said the SBU officers had blocked the Russian security services’ plans to conduct latent federalization and autonomization in several Ukrainian regions.

Ukraine’s Security Council Secretary: Russian troops on border with Ukraine ready for large-scale continental war – 13.04.2018 14:37 — Ukrinform News

Ukraine&rsquo;s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksandr Turchynov says that Russian troops deployed on the border with Ukraine are ready for waging large-scale continental war.

Russia concentrates a military force ready for full-scale continental war on Ukrainian border – Turchynov – 112.international

Two groups are trying to cover and win time for the unfolding of the main military force, which are concentrated on the Ukrainian border today. The General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces is trying to win time in order to unfold its main forces on the Ukrainian border, the Secretary of the National Security Council of Ukraine Olexandr Turchynov has claimed, Interfax-Ukraine reports. Related: Disposition of Russia’s missile forces at border with Ukraine threatens Europe, – Turchynov “What has reversed the Russian General Staff’s strategy? Two groups are trying to cover and win time for the unfolding of the main military force, which are concentrated on the Ukrainian border today”, – he said during the XI Security forum in Kyiv on Friday. Olexandr Turchynov pointed out that Ukraine is facing the 8th army on the Donetsk direction, and one of its divisions is ready to fire at any time. He pointed out that these are “forces that are ready for full use, for a full-scale continental war”. Related: Russian combat helicopter crashes in Baltic Sea, two pilots die “Some 260,000 Russian servicemen, 3,500 tanks, 11,000 of armored vehicles, around 4,000 of artillery systems and over 1,000 multiple launch rocket systems may be used against our country. All of these units would be supported by the 4th and the 6th armies of the Russian Air Force”, – Turchynov said.

Disposition of Russia’s missile forces at border with Ukraine threatens Europe, – Turchynov – 112.international

Disposition of Russia’s missile forces at border with Ukraine threatens Europe, – Turchynov. The disposition of the missile forces of Russia at the border with Ukraine threatens whole Europe. Oleksandr Turchynov, the Secretary of the National Security Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) claimed this at the 11th Kyiv Security Council broadcasted by 112 Ukraine. ‘I want to draw the attention to Russia’s missile forces located near our border. It is four missile units. They are armed with the modern missile system Iskander. There are two modifications of it – ballistic missile hits the targets at 500 km distance but Iskander-K possesses cruise missiles that can hit the target within 2, 500 km’, Turchynov noted.

Russia deploys 30,000 troops in Crimea, Iskander missile systems near border with Ukraine – 13.04.2018 12:50 — Ukrinform News

Russia builds up its military power in Crimea and Donbas.

Russia’s Su-35 and Su-34 Nuclear Bombers Just Practiced a War with NATO | The National Interest Blog

The big event the media missed—until now.

The strengths and weaknesses of Russia′s military | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 07.04.2018

Russian armed forces provide Moscow with clear military superiority in the post-Soviet region, despite Russia’s troops not being able to match the whole of NATO. The Kremlin is busy modernizing its army, experts told DW.

NATO wants to adopt Ukraine’s experience of countering hybrid aggression – 13.04.2018 15:22 — Ukrinform News

NATO highly appreciates Ukraine's actions in confronting Russian hybrid aggression and wants to adopt its experience and best practices.

NATO says Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations realistic | UNIAN

Deputy Secretary General of NATO Rose Gottemoeller has said Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations are not idealistic, but realistic. Gottemoeller stresses Ukraine should carry out important reforms.

Aspirant-country status is mark, not step toward full integration, – NATO Deputy Secretary General – 112.international

Aspirant-country status is mark, not step toward full integration, – NATO Deputy Secretary General. The status of the aspirant-country received by Ukraine is not a step toward the membership in the NATO but only the recognition of the aspiration. Rose Gottemoeller, the NATO Deputy Secretary General claimed this to Kommersant. ‘Countries decided themselves whether to achieve the membership in the NATO or no. Ukraine officially accepted such decision and we noted this, amending our website. I emphasize: the issue is about the mark on the NATO website’, she specified.

Baltic Trainspotting: Railways and NATO’s Logistics Problem in Northeastern Europe – Modern War Institute

Though the first Supreme Allied Commander–Europe faced different circumstances, Eisenhower’s words still ring true and bear relevance to current European security. NATO’s eastern flank, specifically the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania find themselves directly opposite a revanchist Russia, whose superior military forces in the event of escalation could subdue the three NATO members in a matter of days. NATO has augmented the Baltic states with one multinational battalion battlegroup apiece, but these forces amount to a little more than 3,200 soldiers and represent a tripwire deterrent more than a force capable of matching Russian conventional capabilities in the region. In the event of a major conflict in the Baltic states, NATO would have to surge heavier military capabilities from neighboring nations with speed and efficiency. Sound logistics, especially rail, could make or break deterrence and response to Russian aggression. The landscape of northeastern Europe has always been a significant contributing factor to the geopolitical tensions in the area. The East European Plain (sometimes referred to as Russian Plain by Russian geographers) stretches out from the Ural Mountains in the east to Black Sea in the south, and the Baltic Sea in the west. Though occasionally broken by hills and rivers, this area is largely flat. A general lack of significant natural barriers makes rail lines of communication and junctions strategically paramount.

Polish investigator: Blast seen as official cause behind death of Smolensk plane crash victims | UNIAN

Poland’s ex-Minister of National Defense Antoni Macierewicz, who now heads the Polish sub-commission to investigate the crash of a Tu-154 plane with former Polish President Lech Kaczynski and other senior officials of Poland in Russia’s Smolensk in 2010, has said the official cause behind the death of the crash victims was an explosion that occurred before the plane hit the ground. An official report may be published in the coming days.

UAWire – Russia promises responding to Poland over demolition of Soviet monuments

Russian ambassador to Poland, Sergey Andreyev, discussed the measures to be taken by Moscow against Warsaw in response to the demolition of …

USA returns AVENGER surface-to-air missile systems to operability – Defence Blog

The availability of U.S. short-range air defence system was an increase on 14 March when a newly restored, AVENGER air defence systems rejoined the back to operability. A March 14 ceremony at Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) unveiled the latest group of newly restored Avenger Air Defense Systems, culminating a 16-month joint project between the depot and the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime. That was reported by Craig Rader. “We were able to fulfill LEAD’s requirements in part by leveraging DLA’s established worldwide distribution system,” said Navy Rear Adm. Michelle Skubic, DLA Land and Maritime commander. “By maintaining strong relationships with our industry partners we can efficiently respond to the constantly changing and often urgent demands of our military customers.” The Avenger is a surface-to-air missile system often mounted on a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, commonly known as the Humvee. The combined weapon system provides mobile protection against missiles, low-flying aircraft and most recently – unmanned aerial vehicles. Avengers have been an asset in the U.S. arsenal since their first deployment in 1989, but evolving priorities reduced their inventory to less than 400 in regular service by 2016. By that time, only nine American battalions worldwide had Avenger Short Range Air Defense capabilities, including two active duty units and seven in the Army National Guard. According to an Oct. 2017 assessment by Nicole Bier and Patrick Madden on behalf of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, UAVs from countries including North Korea, Iran and Russia have advanced steadily during the past five years. These advances in technology required an evolution of U.S. countermeasures. In late 2016, senior Pentagon leaders called on military logisticians to formulate a plan that was both expedient and fiscally responsible.

U.S. Army soldiers tests newly received M1A1-SA Abrams tanks – Defence Blog

U.S. Army soldiers with Delta Tank Company, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart in Georgia have started field training with the new M1A1-SA Abrams tanks. According to Spc. Jonathan Wallace, Since 2nd ABCT’s conversion from a light to an armored brigade combat team last fall, units within the brigade have been fielding and training on their new ground combat platforms. Delta Tank, 6-8 Cav’s only tank company, was the first unit in the brigade’s firing line to test their crew’s abilities. “Gunnery is beyond critical,” said Capt. Freddy Mitchell, commander of Delta Tank. “It is a necessary event to create lethal crews. Training like this is advantageous to the unit’s lethality.” Table six is a live gunnery table that certifies each combat vehicle crew. Crew certification is a critical milestone that the three-person team must hit in order to progress onto larger and more complex gunnery tables.

With the rise of hypersonics, the Missile Defense Agency wants more sensors

The head of the Missile Defense Agency said that a new and improved sensor layer is the first step to defending against innovative missile technology.

Russia / Russophone Reports

Double t-rouble: Russian currency hammered as markets reel from souring relations with West over Skripal poisoning and Syria chemical attack | City A.M.

The Russian rouble took another dive yesterday to hit its lowest point in over a year after a fresh round of US sanctions on individuals close to Russian

Russia Calls U.S. Sanctions ‘Unacceptable’ As Stocks, Ruble Plunge

Russia has lashed out at the United States over new sanctions announced by Washington at the end of last week, calling the measures “unacceptable” and illegal and saying it reserves the right to retaliate.

Medvedev Says Russia Will Cope With New U.S. Sanctions Amid Ruble Slide

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the country will cope with the latest round of U.S. sanctions, as the ruble fell for a third straight day following the imposition of the new restrictions.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Sanctions Mean Putin Can’t Keep His Promises But Russians May Not Have Expected Him to

Paul Goble Staunton, April 11 – The new US sanctions ensure that Vladimir Putin will not be able to keep his March 1 promises about economic growth and an improved standard of living for the Russian people, Georgy Maksimov says; but the Kremlin leader may not pay any price because the population overwhelmingly didn’t expect him to in any event. In a FedPress commentary, Maksimov points out that the losses on the Russian exchange on just the first day after the new sanctions were imposed amounted to a sum equal to 0.8 percent of GDP, a figure that ensures there won’t be the level of growth Putin promised, according to economist Vlad Zhukovsky (fedpress.ru/article/2015942). Naturally, government officials offer “more optimistic predictions,” the FedPress writer says. But even they caveat their projections by saying that the results will be achieved only if Russia attracts more outside investment, something that won’t in fact happen if the sanctions regime is maintained. “This means that Putin’s opponents within the country will have yet another good example to ‘rock the boat’ and solemnly declare that Putin has not been able to fulfill his promises even in his last presidential term,” political analyst Abbas Gallyamov says. “With time this will weaken Putin’s position.” But – and this is the important thing, the analyst says – “one must remember that on the whole people in Russia have become accustomed to the idea that the authorities will not keep their promises and therefore their being exposed in this will not become a sensation. Rather it is something that must be repeated again and again before it will sink in. Blogger Yakov Mirkin agrees, pointing out that except in the first crisis year – 2008 – more than 80 percent of the Rusisan population has said it is completely satisfied or more satisfied than not with its standard of living (newizv.ru/news/society/11-04-2018/yakov-mirkin-85-grazhdan-rossii-vlyubleny-v-gosudarstvo). These figures “in a surprising way correspond with the 85 to 90 percent of the population which is in love with the state and wants it to occupy a larger role, in property, administration, and in concern for the small of this world. And only ten to 15 percent are prepared to live on their own independent of it,” Mirkin says. The figures show that there isn’t going to be a demand for change from below as long as “hunger and cold don’t come. We in a remarkable way are building a vertical and under its power, while experiencing a feeling of great satisfaction” not because of ourselves but because of the power of the state. In this of course, the blogger concludes, “we are deeply mistaken,” something everyone will learn when life as it sometimes happens leads to an explosion when everyone is simply trying to make sure that nothing changes at all.

Russia suffering under new US sanctions – 112.international

“Sanctions? Our nuclear missiles are laughing themselves silly.” That was a common slogan on Russian T-shirts in 2014, as economic pressure mounted following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Initially, sanctions were applied cautiously by the United States and its allies and were very limited in scope. Russia adjusted to the “new economic reality,” a euphemism for the confrontation. In 2017, the economy began to grow once again. It is questionable whether the same will happen after the latest round of sanctions. New punitive measures introduced by the United States on April 6 have led to a massive crash in Russia’s stock and currency markets. Media report that new US sanctions on seven oligarchs, 17 top officials and 12 companies led to tens of billions of dollars in losses on Russian markets within just a few hours on Monday. The slide continued on Tuesday, and there is no end in sight. Pressure exerted on bonds and Russia’s currency, the ruble, has also increased as further sanctions are discussed in response to the poisoning of the former Russian-British double agent Sergei Skripal. A proposal currently making the rounds in the US Congress would expand sanctions to target Russian sovereign debt. Should that happen, it would be “economic warfare,” warned Alexander Shoshin, chairman of the Russian business association RSPP. But targeted individuals and their companies are not the only ones suffering from the latest US sanctions: Other corporations and banks are feeling the heat as well. Stock losses, for instance, are hitting Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank. Meanwhile, the government has claimed that the situation is under control and promised financial assistance.

Russian lawmakers mull stealing American intellectual property as response to U.S. sanctions | UNIAN

Draft legislation submitted to the State Duma on Friday would give the government the authority to waive copyright restrictions on select foreign products, “allowing” Russian enterprises to produce those goods without the consent of their patent holders abroad. Russian legislators have developed a plan to retaliate against the latest U.S. sanctions: transform Russia into a pirate state. Draft legislation submitted to the State Duma on Friday would give the government the authority to waive copyright restrictions on select foreign products, “allowing” Russian enterprises to produce those goods without the consent of their patent holders abroad. “The exhaustion of exclusive rights,” lawmakers say, could be used against the U.S. and other hostile states, according to Meduza. “In other words, we’ll gut-punch the Americans, since it’s precisely intellectual property that is responsible for all their success and, above all, the domination of the Anglo-Saxon and Western world. And we’d strike a blow against this right,” explained Mikhail Emelyanov, the deputy chairman of the Duma’s Legislation Committee.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow has No Symmetrical Answers to US Sanctions, Russian Analysts Say

Paul Goble Staunton, April 10 – Three Moscow analysts say that the Kremlin has no clear symmetrical answers to the imposition of new US sanctions that do not do as much harm to Russia as to the United States, and thus it may pause for a time while deciding what it in fact will do. Meanwhile, a Chinese analyst argues that precisely because Vladimir Putin doesn’t have any symmetrical responses at hand, the Kremlin leader is likely to engage in aggressive actions somewhere in order to demonstrate that he has not been put into a corner by the West and deprived of his freedom of action. Rosbalt commentator Aleksandr Zhelyenin spoke with Aleksey Makarkin of the Moscow Center for Political Technologies, Nikolay Petrov of the Higher School of Economics, and Igor Nikolayev of the Institute for Strategic Analysis to get their views on how Putin is likely to respond to the new sanctions regime (rosbalt.ru/russia/2018/04/10/1695231.html). Makarkin says “Russia today does not have the economic levels for influencing other countries which the US has.” Moscow has already expelled most American NGOs and recently expelled a group of American diplomats. It could stop selling rocket engines but that would effectively kill Russia’s space program. Moscow could also stop purchasing US-manufactured civilian aircraft but that would hit Russia’s airlines hard because Russian companies don’t yet manufacture enough to provide a substitute. Thus, he says, any effort to use economic levers would end up hurting Russia more than the US. In his view, the Moscow analyst says, the Russian authorities will “now take a time out” and try to figure out “how to answer; but answers aren’t visible.” Petrov agrees, adding that “we do not have any variants of symmetrical response.” Moscow may elect to do things like close American structures like Voice of America and Radio Svoboda or stop selling the US titanium. But “we cannot present the US with anything analogous to the American business sanctions.” And Nikolayev echoes that position. “Moscow doesn’t have the opportunities” because the Russian economy is “ten times smaller” than the American. And as result, anything in the economic realm such as blocking purchase of American shares or government bonds, will end up hurting Russia more than it could ever hurt the United States. But a Chinese commentator in an article that has been translated by INOSMI and widely reposted in Russian outlets says that precisely because Russia has no economic responses at hand, Moscow almost certainly will look for asymmetrical ones and they are likely to involve some new use of force (inosmi.ru/politic/20180409/241934565.html). The last two weeks have been very tough for Putin, the Beijing commentator says; and he will certainly be looking for ways to turn the tables. Using force in one direction or another is what he has done in the past; and consequently, it is what he is likely to do now. Indeed, the worse things become in relations with the West, the more likely that becomes. Putin is certain that the West won’t go to the level of a world war. Its leaders don’t like or approve of him, but they will be restrained in their response. Consequently, there is room for Putin to cause trouble as he has before, confident that the penalties the West will impose are things he can survive and that the laurels he will win will be far greater.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Many Russians Will Welcome Harsh Western Actions Against Oligarchs, Skobov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 8 – One of the “most popular” arguments Putin supporters in the West use against the imposition of sanctions against the Russian oligarchs is that this will intensify anti-Western attitudes among Russians and lead ever more of them to unite around the Kremlin leader against the West, Oleg Skobov says. But in fact, the Russian commentator points out, “a significant part of Russians animated by anti-Western attitudes do not have any warm feelings for the Putinist kleptocracy.” Moreover, their anti-Western attitudes are in many cases the result of their judgment that the West has allowed the oligarchs to live so well abroad (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5AC9977813369). Consequently, Skobov continues, “if the ruling circles of European countries decide to adopt real measures against the Russian kleptocrats who have settled among them, this could change the opinion of many Russians about the West to the better” and not to the West as those opposed to sanctions routinely insist. As ever more Europeans especially on the left are beginning to understand, the introduction of “Russian criminal-oligarchic capital” into Western economies “is stimulating the rebirth of the most archaic and reactionary forms of capitalism.” And that shift means the anti-Putin opposition should rethink its relationship to the European left. Some Western analysts especially in the United States have focused on the corrupting influence of Russian money on political life; but Skobov is pointing to something even larger, the way in which this massive influx of illegally acquired Russian wealth is corrupting capitalism itself, dragging it back to an ugly and unregulated past. And that in turn means, although the Russian commentator does not mention it, that sanctions even if they hurt some Western capitalists as they are certain to do, will not only send the right signal to the Kremlin but make a serious contribution to the recovery of a more socially inclined public policy in the US and Western Europe. To the extent that comes to be understood, liberals in the West should welcome sanctions on the Russian oligarchs rather than oppose them and should in fact be the leading sponsors of harsh treatment of the criminal class led by Putin under the old and still true Polish slogan, “for your freedom and ours!”

On target | KyivPost

Western sanctions have not spurred Russia to meet its obligations under the Minsk peace accords. This means they were ill-targeted, and not broad enough. No it does not. It means that these sanctions were ill-targeted, and not strong enough. Proof of this came on April 9, when the results of the latest set of U.S. sanctions, announced on April 6, started to be felt in Russia. The ruble dropped in value (by 3 percent over two days) and about $16 billion was wiped off the net worth of some of Russia’s top oligarchs. Russia has in the past reacted to the imposition of sanctions by the West with sneering disdain, and imposed its own counter-sanctions, ostentatiously and absurdly depriving Muscovites of expensive imported cheese by crushing it under bulldozers, or steamrollering imported fruit and burning foreign bacon. But the Kremlin’s reaction was muted and subdued to this latest round of U.S. sanctions, imposed because of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As this newspaper has long argued, to hurt the Putin regime, sanctions must target the only thing these gangsters care about – their vast, stolen fortunes. And that’s what these sanctions did. Contrast, now, the Russian reaction to the United Kingdom’s decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats following the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergey Skripal in Salisbury on March 4. That measure was met by the Kremlin with sarcasm and derision: Russia expelled an equal number of U.K. diplomats, and shut down the British Council, a cultural organization. Arguably, the U.K. came off worse in the exchange. It needn’t have. London is the city of choice for Russia’s corrupt elite to launder its dirty cash, and store value in the form of luxury real estate. U.K. offshore zones, lax company laws and weak banking regulations allow Russian oligarchs to construct webs of shell companies to conceal their ownership of valuable assets. London’s financial sector is thus a target-rich environment for smart, precision-guided sanctions that would inflict serious damage on Russia’s wealthy elite. It’s time for the U.K. to follow the U.S. lead and start hitting Putin’s cronies where it hurts – their pockets. That means imposing well-targeted, powerful sanctions, propelled by a sufficient charge of political will.

Recent Russia Sanctions Designations: A Rundown – To Inform is to Influence

By Ed Stein Thursday, April 12, 2018, 9:00 AM On Friday, April 6, the Treasury Department announced sanctions on a variety of Russian entities, including “seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank.” Although it will likely take…

Russian Legislators Propose Ban On U.S. Goods, Services

A group of Russian State Duma members has proposed banning the import of a raft of U.S. goods and services in response to fresh U.S. sanctions.

Russian Billionaires’ Corporate Websites Go Dark After U.S. Sanctions

The websites of several Russian companies have gone down after the United States announced sanctions against them and their billionaire owners due to their purported close ties to President Vladimi…

US punishes key Putin allies over worldwide ‘malign activity’ – BBC News

Aluminium billionaire Oleg Deripaska is among seven oligarchs and 17 top government officials targeted.

Taking on Russia’s ‘oligarchs’: Meduza looks at the businessmen, state officials, and companies targeted in the latest U.S. sanctions — Meduza

On Friday, the world got a look at the latest U.S. sanctions against Russia. The U.S. Treasury Department’s new “designations” target seven Russian “oligarchs” and 12 companies they own or control, 17 senior Russian government officials, and a state-owned Russian weapons trading company and its subsidiary, a Russian bank. Washington says the measures are a response to “a range of malign activity around the globe” conducted by the Russian government, which operates “for the disproportionate benefit of oligarchs and government elites,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a press release.

What, U.S. Worry? Russia Threatens Retaliation For Latest Sanctions

Russia is fuming and threatening harsh measures in retaliation for the latest round of U.S. sanctions. But experts say Russia has few, if any, economic levers it can pull.

Russia Takes Aim at Rockets, Workers, Drugs in Counter-Sanctions – Bloomberg

Russia outlined a broad range of potential retaliatory moves against new U.S. sanctions, including curbs on imports of American farm products and cooperation in nuclear energy and rocket engines.

Russia May Withhold Titanium Sales From Boeing – Real Or No Real? – To Inform is to Influence

American television used to have a show, “Deal or no deal”. Changing the title a wee bit to ask if this is propaganda or fake news, is this “Real or No Real?”  RIA Novosti and RT quote a Russian senator, so there is a good chance this is propaganda at this point. Russia is flailing about for…

Boeing studying impact of ‘anti-American’ legislation in Russia

Boeing Co said on Friday it was aware of an “anti-American” legislation proposal in Russia and was studying the possible impact on its business in the country.

Russia could stop exporting titanium to Boeing in retaliation to Trump sanctions

The Kremlin can now consider a list of possible measures after action in the State Duma.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ukrainians Should Pray for the Survival of Russia, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 8 – On this Easter, Ukrainians must pray for the survival of the Russian Federation because if it disintegrates, that will lead not only to massive refugee flows into Ukraine but technogenic disasters that will make Russia’s current aggressive actions against Ukraine look like a time of peace, according to Ukrainian commentator Vitaly Portnikov. Some Ukrainians have placed their hopes in the demise of Russia as the basis for the restoration of Ukrainian control of Crimea and the Donbass, but Portnikov in a Facebook video says that it would be a disaster for Ukraine and for Russia’s other neighbors (facebook.com/portnikov/videos/2125473177479071/ and newsland.com/community/4109/content/ukraintsy-dolzhny-molitsia-za-sokhranenie-rossii/6289736). But he says that Russia may come apart and that Moscow will be to blame for that outcome even as it struggles to prevent it. Nationality problems are the main threat to Russia, but “over the last 25 years, the Russians have done more to assimilate non-Russian peoples than the Bolsheviks did over 70 years.” The kind of “aggressive chauvinism” one sees in Russia today was never in evidence during Soviet times or even those of the Russian Empire. And that policy, Portnikov argues, means there are “ever fewer chances” that Russia will come apart and “ever more” that that country will be “transformed into a unitary state of guberniyas.” Whether that will be sufficient to keep Russia together is uncertain, but it likely means that if Russia comes apart, it will do so more violently like Yugoslavia rather than largely peacefully as did the USSR. On another Facebook post, Vadim Shtepa, editor of After Empire, explains why this is likely to be the case (facebook.com/vadim.shtepa/posts/1835878066463175). The Russian regionalist says that he was recently asked by St. Petersburg journalists whether regionalism inevitably means separatism. He responded by pointing out what happened in Yugoslavia before and after Tito’s death. Under Tito, the Kosovars asked only to be a republic like Serbia or Slovenia rather than remain “’an autonomous kray.’” “But the federalist Tito died in 1980, and in 1984, Yugoslavia hosted a remarkable winter Olympiad.” After that disaster struck the country. “In 1989, Milosevich committed a great crime: he replaced the idea of Yugoslavia as an international federation as it was under Tito with the idea of Serbian national imperialism.” Imagine what would have happened had Gorbachev in the spring of 1991 done the same thing, proposing that all the republics within the USSR should accept diminished status within a new “Russian nation state.” They would have declared independence immediately and fought their way out in much the same way the republics of Milosevich’s national empire did. Indeed, Shtepa continues, it was that vision of Yugoslavia which led the Kosovars to shift from federalist aspirations to demands for independence, a pattern that can be repeated whenever and wherever the central government tries to reduce the status of republics and regions in the name of transforming a federal system into a unitary nation state.

Sanctions for Russian oligarchs unlikely to seriously impact Putin, experts say

The theory behind recent U.S. sanctions is that pressuring Putin’s rich friends equates to pressuring Putin.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin will Stay in Power Until His Death and Putinism Even Longer if Opposition and West Don’t Change Course, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 12 – Vladimir Putin will remain in power until his death because there are no forces in Russia capable of pushing him aside, Vladislav Inozemtsev says; but there is a great danger that Putinism will survive even his passing unless and until the Russian opposition and the West adopt an agenda for overcoming it. Speaking on the sidelines of the Free Russia Forum in Vilnius, the Russian economist says that it is “senseless” to think that Putin will leave office before he dies or that Putinism will die with him. When the first will occur is unknown, but both the opposition and the West must prepare for that event (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5ACF4264CF3D6). The West must be ready to say to the Russian people that “it is ready to see in Russia part of the Western world and that it does not want new hostilities.” It mustn’t repeat past mistakes: The West is guilty in the rise of Putinism no less than Russia is because it did not take Russia into its ranks as it did Germany” and other Eastern European countries. “This was its most stupid mistake,” Inozemtsev says, “one that repeated the mistake which was committed at Versailles toward the Weimar Republic” and to wait now for the opposition to overthrow Putin or for sanctions to lead to a revolt of the oligarchs is simply an impossible dream. But the West is not the only one unprepared for a post-Putin world, he continues. The Russian “opposition” isn’t either – and the reason is simple: it doesn’t exist. “When we look at any other European country we see a situation when there are serious political parties with people prepared to take responsibility for political administration.” These parties and politicians hold meetings and come up with plans and programs. They are ready to respond if the chief of state does something. But in Russia there is nothing like that, there are no programs and no real politicians at least in the Western sense of the word. And without them, Putinism will survive long after Putin. This “in fact” is a very large problem “because if the window of opportunities opens, it will be filled by today’s Putinoids who are very much in solidarity with each other. They may be stupid or inadequate but they support one another and have the desire to steal the country blind. And that keeps them together. In contrast, he continues, “the democrats have not single idea. This could be the European idea or something else. But it must be a clearly expressed one.” Just saying that “everything will be fine and that we will have democratic elections and an independent judiciary” isn’t going to inspire anyone. “No one in Ukraine came out to the Maidan for independent courts,” Inozemtsev says. “They came out instead for immediate elections, but in Russia, there isn’t a single individual who could compete with Medvedev and win 49 to 48 percent. Medvedev would defeat Navalny 85 percent to 10 percent even in a perfectly open election.” “In Russia, there isn’t anyone who could put forward the idea ‘let’s go to Europe’ and say that the Europeans will support us.” Europe and the West generally must change so that they can, Inozemtsev argues. Russians want to live in a normal civilized country: they must be certain that if they take certain steps, they will be received as such. “There is no obligation to shout about democracy; instead, people must speak about a system where there is competition and small business gets support. We are Europeans. We want to live in a European way and we know that there are people in Europe who are prepared to support us” – that must be the message of the Russian opposition. Otherwise, Inozemtsev says, he doesn’t see any prospects for positive change.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Moves toward Having a New Iron Curtain around Russia

Paul Goble Staunton, April 6 – The Russian National Security Council under the chairmanship of Vladimir Putin today discussed and moved to approve a new law on state border policy, one that replaces the policy Boris Yeltsin promulgated in 1996 and that will significantly tighten controls along the border of the Russian Federation. The new document was prepared by the FSB “in connection with the changing geopolitical situation” and the increase in the number and size of threats to Russian national security from abroad, that is, to defend the country from people crossing the border into the Russian Federation (kommersant.ru/doc/3594294). The new policy specifies that expanded border security will help secure Russia’s sovereignty, the exclusive right of Russians to water areas, “political and social stability, the personal security of citizens, and ‘also the establishment of conditions’ for their socio-economic, spiritual-moral and cultural development.” The new border will ensure the defense of Russia’s natural resources, ecological and epidemiological security, and the maintenance of good-neighborly relations with adjoining countries. But the document, Kommersant reports, devotes particular attention to blocking efforts at “destabilizing the socio-political situation on territories bordering the Russian Federation on the basis of unresolved socio-economic problems, religious-ethnic conflicts, and manifestations of separatism and also among the population living in the border regions.” And it notes that “a number of foreign states” have territorial claims against Russia and attempts at penetrating the country by terrorists and extremists. In addition, it says that there are particular risks in Russian regions which have low population density and are isolated in terms of transportation networks. Soviet officials justified the tight border controls they imposed in the same way, in order to prevent outsiders from coming in. But in reality, Soviet borders were intended as a control mechanism to keep people in. And at a time when Putin is talking about Russia as a besieged fortress, it appears that the new document will lead to border controls with the same impact. Curiously, as Putin and his security officials were meeting, two articles appeared that suggest at least some Russians are thinking about the possibility of living with “a new iron curtain.” In the first, Vzglyad reported that young Russians are not disturbed by that prospect (vz.ru/news/2018/4/5/916167.html). And in the second, the Znak portal published a long article on the iron curtain in Soviet times entitled “How Our Country Separated Itself from the World and was Converted into a Big Concentration Camp” (znak.com/2018-04-06/zheleznyy_zanaves_kak_nasha_strana_otgorodilas_ot_mira_i_prevratilas_v_bolshoy_konclager).

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia Suffers from Kremlin-Orchestrated Shortage of Politicians, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 12 – The failure of social protests to grow into political ones reflects not only the fears of the Russian population as to what the authorities will do if they make that transition but also the lack of politicians capable of moving from local to national problems, a shortage the Kremlin has taken great pains to create, according to Igor Yakovenko. On the one hand, the Moscow commentator says, opposition figures like Aleksey Navalny consider most of the protests “local and secondary” and thus not deserving their attention as self-identified all-Russian politicians with aspirations exclusively at the national level (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5ACF50756B640). And on the other, the Kremlin has worked hard not only to define any political figure who does get involved with protests as a parasite trying to exploit rather than lead any protest but also to block the kind of local and regional political arenas in which it would be entirely natural for political figures and social protesters to work together. “In Russia, the creation of regional parties is prohibited,” Yakovenko points out; and this means that local and regional politics from the outset must either become part of federal politics,” subordinating itself to how political life is defined in Moscow “or mimic that by presenting itself as non-political protest.” Moreover, the authorities have made clear that any efforts to politicize civic protest will make it impossible for those behind it to get any concessions from the powers that be, a major reason besides fear of repression that keeps those engaged in civic protests from being willing to cooperate with anyone in the political sphere. Indeed, in the current situation, that is a rational choice for those who want their problems solved; and Moscow wants to keep things that way. In Russia today, Yakovenko continues, “there is not a single politician who has ‘grown’ to the federal level by solving the problems of his region or the specific problems raised by civic protest. Such politicians have not appeared from among the environmental activists, the long-haul truckers or from the milieu of the deceived depositors.” The Kremlin has done everything it can to block that possibility, by banning regional political parties and promoting the notion among political figures in Moscow that what goes on in the regions and localities must be subordinated to “commands from the center” rather than the other way around. The country suffers from “a deficit of politicians who have a clear understanding of the extent of problems raised by the protest movement and who are capable of offering society a road map for the resolution of these problems,” Yakovenko says. “It is possible that this is the main problem” of Russia now.

ISIS threatens to attack World Cup in Russia – media | UNIAN

ISIS has threatened that Russian President Vladimir Putin will ‘pay the price for killing Muslims’, in the diminishing terror group’s latest poster targeting the World Cup. The threat is likely to be linked to Putin’s support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in his government’s fight against ISIS.

Some EU states may boycott World Cup 2018 in Russia – journalist | UNIAN

A number of EU member states may announce a diplomatic boycott on the World Cup 2018 in Russia, according to RFE/RL’s correspondent in Brussels Rikard Jozwiak. The EU member states are also in talks on rolling over economic sanctions on Russia for another 12 months.

Don’t Blame Russia. Blame Putin. – Foreign Policy

The U.S. president has strong personal reasons to remain in the Russian leader’s good graces.

Putin Fires 11 Officers In Law Enforcement, Prisons

Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired 11 top officers in two of Russia’s main law enforcement agencies and other ministries, in the latest shuffle of the agencies.

UAWire – Putin dismisses 11 generals from different agencies

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed 11 generals. The corresponding document was published on the official website of legal …

Russia’s Antifa Is Being Tortured and Detained by Putin’s Shadowy Security Service, Sources Say

One victim told Newsweek he was forced into a minivan at night and tortured for over three hours with an electrical cattle prod.

Russian Opposition Politician Yashin To Contest Moscow Mayoral Election

Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin says he will contest an election for mayor of Moscow in September.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Soviet Government Classified Nations of USSR as ‘Loyal’ or ‘Disloyal,’ Butakov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 8 – Despite the widespread view that the Soviet government drew on the entire population of the USSR to defeat the German invaders, in fact, Yaroslav Butakov says, “the Soviet government divided peoples into those who were more loyal and those who were less so” both among indigenous peoples and immigrants. In addition, it divided them according to its judgment of their level of readiness to take part in the war because of differences in their level of cultural and civilizational development with those judged too far behind not drafted although sometimes allowed to serve as volunteers (russian7.ru/post/kakie-sovetskie-narody-ne-prizyvali-n/). During the war, the Soviet government did not draft USSR citizens of nationalities which had their own states outside the borders of the Soviet Union, including but not limited to the Germans, Japanese, Romanians, Hungarians, Finns, Bulgarians, Turks, Greeks, Koreans and Chinese. Such people were sometime impressed into service in rear units but not in the frontlines, Butakov says. “It is curious,” he continues, “that in this list do not figure Slovaks, Croatians, Italians and Spaniards” apparently because the Kremlin judged that any of these who had become Soviet citizens were going to be loyal. But more interesting that this division of those with possible links to foreign states was the one Moscow made among nationalities without such links but that were judged for one reason or another potentially or actually disloyal or generally unprepared for active military service. On October 13, 1943, the State Defense Committee announced that the Soviet Army would not draft young people born in 1926 who were members of “the indigenous nationalities of all the union republics of the Trans-Caucasus and Central Asia, Kazakhstan and also all the autonomous republics and oblasts of the North Caucasus.” The next day, Butakov continues, the State Defense committee said that in the following draft in 1944, it would take such people into the reserves but not into the standing army. However, that order was interpreted in many localities as the end of the draft of nationalities in general even though it was restricted to a particular year of birth. Moscow took a special approach to the numerically small nationalities of the North, Siberia, and the Far East, exempting them from service not so much because of questions of loyalty but because of their lack of education and ability to speak Russian, the Russian analyst continues. Until the adoption of the Soviet law on universal military service in September 1939, representatives of these groups were not drafted. But the experience of their first draft in the fall of that year was not a happy one. Many who were drafted deserted after proving incapable of living with military discipline. During the first weeks of the war, there reportedly was an order issued by the State Defense Council freeing these nationalities from the draft, although no copy of this order has surfaced in the archives now open. But it is possible that it exists and was never disseminated in public form. Far from all orders at that time were ever published, Butakov says. Some members of these groups did volunteer and even served in “ethnic” units. But the conclusion seems inescapable that “a general obligatory draft into the standing army among the numerically small peoples of het North, Siberia and the Far East … did not take place,” although there were some exceptions as a result of decisions by local officials. Members of these nationalities were included in rear units; but even these were carefully screened. Those who wanted to volunteer for the frontlines had to show that they spoke Russian, had at least primary education, and were in good health, qualities seldom found altogether in any one of the representatives of these people at that time. That Soviet leaders had what American political scientist Cynthia Enloe has called “an ethnic security map” has long been assumed, but Butakov’s investigation provides fresh evidence that it really existed and that Moscow viewed as disloyal or unprepared for national service a large fraction of the non-Russian population of the Soviet Union.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Employers in Capitals Discriminate Against Non-Russians; Those in Middle Volga Cities Don’t

Paul Goble Staunton, April 11 – In Moscow and St. Petersburg, companies routinely discriminate against potential employees from Central Asia and the Caucasus, while in Ufa and Kazan, companies treat them equally, according to a new study by scholars from the University of Exeter and Moscow’s Higher School of Economics. Aleksey Besssudnov and Andrey Shcherbak reached these conclusions on the basis of an experiment in which they sent fictional resumes with obviously Slavic and equally obviously non-Slavic names and measured the percentage of applicants who received invitations for interviews (iq.hse.ru/news/218021491.html). The investigators sent in applications to more than 9,000 advertised vacancies in the name of representatives of 14 ethnic groups. Moscow and Petersburg companies invited 41 percent of the applicants with Russian names for an interview and only a slightly lower share of Ukrainians, Jews and Germans (40 percent, 39 percent and 37 percent respectively.) But companies in the capital responded to applicants with Caucasian and Central Asian names in a far different and less positive ways. Nominal Georgians were invited in 26 percent of all cases, Armenians, 27 percent, Chechens, Azerbaijanis, Tajiks and Uzbeks, 28 percent, and Tatars, 29 percent. Given that the only differences among the resumes were the names of the candidates, this pattern suggests, the two scholars say, that “in Moscow and Petersburg, employers discriminate against representatives of ethnic groups from the southern countries and regions of Russia,” but not against Jews or Ukrainians. For groups from the south, they continue, employers in the capital discriminate more against men than from women, Bessudnov and Shcherbak say. Men, they say, are more often viewed as threatening. The situation in Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, and Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, is very different. There, “all ethnic groups received about 40 percent” positive responses. And the authors did not find any “statistically significant differences” in how employers treated people of different ethnic groups. “It is possible,” the scholars say, “that the absence of discrimination in Kazan and Ufa is connected with the fact that in these cities there is an ethnically mixed population and urban residents are accustomed to interacting with representatives of other ethnoses.” But of course, Moscow and St. Petersburg are ethnically mixed as well. The explanation may lie, the two suggest, in the fact that “ethnic minorities in the capitals of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan are not viewed as a threat to the culture of the indigenous population” while minorities in the two capitals quite often are.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Pingos – A Phenomenon that May Hurt Putin More than Sanctions

Paul Goble Staunton, April 4 – Pingo, an Inuit word meaning “small hill,” refers to land in the far north that has been pushed up by methane released from melting permafrost or by gas leaks from human exploitation of fields in the region. According to satellite imagery, there are more than 7,000 of these in the Russian North. They represent the extreme form of land change that threatens all human construction in the region, including not unimportantly gas and oil pipelines and military bases. And if they explode as ever more of them appear to be doing, they could damage such key infrastructure (siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/crater-formed-by-exploding-pingo-in-arctic-erupts-a-second-time-from-methane-emissions/; cf. windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/10/global-warming-threatens-moscows-arctic.html). Vasily Bogoyavlensky, deputy head of the Moscow Oil and Gas Research Institute, warns that the problem may be far more serious than many had thought up to now. The pingos not only explode like volcanoes but may cause the leakage of natural gas that could damage the environment. Over the last several years, he has warned that pingos are set to damage pipelines, industry and housing in the North. Now, he is arguing that human exploitation of natural gas may have caused some of the pingos to appear. “It is possible,” he says, “that some are technogenic in nature.”” If that theory catches on, it will undoubtedly attract the attention of both Russian and international environmental protection organizations and also members of the numerically small peoples of the North who will see these pingos not as something natural but rather the work of Russian development, something that could trigger new conflicts. But the most serious threat – and certainly the one Putin will be most worried about – is that one or more pingos may destroy gas pipelines and limit Russia’s ability to earn money from exports or even supply its own population with heat during the winter. Either of those could be a greater threat than any sanctions applied up to do.

Did Ivan the Terrible consider himself Russian?

The steadfast belief that Ivan IV, later nicknamed Grozny, in every possible way distanced himself from belonging to the Russian nation, was introduced into the minds of the general public by Russian and foreign historians. And what did the first tsar of all Russia think on this score? Ivan IV – purebred German All supporters of the “German” origin of Ivan the Terrible were in their written research to the king with undisguised antipathy, which is already talking about their bias in judgments. In the opinion of these historians, the autocrat profoundly despised the Russian people.In the memoirs of the English diplomat Giles Fletcher, who came to Moscow, when Fyodor Ioannovich reigned in Russia, there are indications to the testimonies of fellow Englishmen who at that time permanently lived in the Russian capital. Jacobs Ivan Vasilyevich in his conversations constantly reminded him of his non-Russian background and spoke about his ancestors-Germans. Fletcher echoed another foreigner, a native of Saxony Hans Schlitte, sent in 1547 by Ivan the Terrible to Europe to recruit overseas craftsmen. Saxon argues that, on behalf of and on behalf of Grozny, an appeal was made to the then Roman emperor Charles V. And in this letter there is a reference to the kinship of the blood of the Russian people and the Romans-supposedly both originated from the Germans.He noted the theme of German roots in Ivan IV and the Russian historian Nikolai Karamzin. He wrote that the king was surprisingly gentle towards the captivity of the Livonian captives, he allowed many things and was “famous for his German origin.” Karamzin has several more references to documents in which the authors report that Ivan the Terrible loved to emphasize his belonging to the Germans. But all these written testimonies – records from other people’s words, the authors’ own conclusions, and what opinion did Ivan IV himself adhere to about belonging to this or that nation?

Crater formed by exploding pingo in Arctic erupts a second time from methane emissions

Man ‘caused some of the tundra blasts forming the large holes’, says leading scientist in surprising new theory.

A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories – No. 119 – To Inform is to Influence

More than any other writer, Paul Goble has shone the light of truth onto Russia and ably written about Russia’s foibles, corruption, and ironies.  I actually suggested to the US Department of State, over one year ago, that they bestow a lifetime achievement award to Paul for his excellent and prolific writing. Once again, I…

Russian Court Bans Telegram App After 18-Minute Hearing – The New York Times

A Moscow judge blocked the messaging app after it refused to give the security services its encryption keys. But the company says they don’t exist.

Moscow Court Blocks Telegram Chat App After $1.7 Billion ICO – Bloomberg

A Moscow court ordered telecommunications companies to block Telegram in Russia after the chat app refused to grant intelligence authorities access to users’ encrypted messages, in a blow to the company just weeks after it raised $1.7 billion from investors.

Russian Court To Hear Request To Block Telegram

A Russian court says it will begin considering this week a request by state media regulator Roskomnadzor to block the messaging app Telegram.

Activists Cry Foul As Russian Court Orders Telegram App Blocked

A Russian court has ordered that access to the Telegram messaging app should be blocked in Russia, state-run media reported.

Russian lawmakers drafted a new version of their latest lousy idea to regulate social media. But just how bad is it? — Meduza

Deputies in Russia’s State Duma have drafted a new version of legislation that would impose additional regulations on social networks. This is an important document.

Russia Never Prosecutes Mercenaries who Fight for Moscow-Backed Causes, Only Those who Fight for Others – To Inform is to Influence

Sunday, April 8, 2018 Paul Goble             Staunton, April 8 – Engaging in mercenary activity is illegal under Russian law, and Moscow routinely claims that any Russian who fights as a mercenary is doing so entirely independently. But that claim, already problematic given Vladimir Putin’s association with the Vagner Group and its financier, no longer deserves…

Russian Governor Who Resigned After Mall Fire May Head Regional Parliament

A week after he resigned as Kemerovo governor, citing an unbearable “moral” burden following a shopping-mall fire that killed 64 people, veteran Russian politician Aman Tuleyev is expected to be el…

UAWire – US Treasury Department confirms that Yekaterina Tikhonova is Putin’s daughter

The United States Department of the Treasury confirmed that Katerina Tikhonova is a daughter of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The …

Following Protests, Russian Town Plans Referendum Over Garbage Dump

Lawmakers in the town of Volokolamsk, near Moscow, have decided to hold a referendum on the future of a garbage dump that has been emitting toxic fumes and prompting protests by residents.

Trial Date Set For Man Accused Of Stabbing Ekho Moskvy Radio Journalist

A court in Moscow has scheduled April 18 for the start of a trial for a man accused of stabbing an Ekho Mosky radio journalist in the neck.

Six Killed In Helicopter Crash In Russia’s Far East

Six people have died in a helicopter crash in the Russian Far East city of Khabarovsk.

Russia Fines 539 Hotels For Hiking Prices Ahead Of World Cup

Russia’s consumer protection agency, Rospotrebnadzor, says 539 hotels have been fined for inflating their prices in Russian cities that are hosting 2018 FIFA World Cup matches.

‘One Good Thing Every Day’ — A Russian Plumber’s Advice For A Better World

A dawn trek through the snow, helping out at the post office, paying an elderly neighbor’s bills, and delivering food — it’s all part of a day’s work for Anatoly Kartashov. The 59-year-old plumber in Russia’s Smolensk Oblast spends his spare moments looking out for everyone in his community.

‘Holy Fire’ Ceremony Helps Orthodox Christians Usher In Easter

The “Holy Fire” ceremony in Jerusalem helped Eastern Orthodox Christians usher in Easter, one week after Christians in the West also celebrated the religion’s holiest day.

The Wildest Rides Of The U.S.S.R.

Five of the weirdest creations that ever flew, skimmed, or twisted their way across the Soviet Union.

Let’s Go, Yury! Celebrating Cosmonautics Day In Russia

Cosmonautics Day is celebrated on April 12 each year in Russia. It is a holiday dedicated to the first manned space flight in 1961, when Yury Gagarin orbited the Earth on board the Vostok-1 spaceship.

Russian Hospital Staff To Face Trial Over ‘Horrific’ Formaldehyde Death

Russian hospital personnel will be prosecuted for the “horrific” death of a patient who was mistakenly injected with formaldehyde, which is used to embalm corpses, an official says.

Shocking: Woman dies after given formaldehyde instead of saline drip – YouTube

Fox News Published on Apr 9, 2018 After a routine surgery, doctors accidentally gave one Russian woman a formaldehyde drip causing her death. Suffering tremendously, the victim’s mother is speaking out and a criminal investigation is underway.

Russian woman dies after she was ’embalmed alive’ | Daily Mail Online

A 27 year old woman has died in excruciating agony after she was embalmed alive due to a horrific medical blunder. Ekaterina Fedyaeva’s mother has accused medics of ‘murder’ after they put her daughter on a formalin drip – a solution contain formaldehyde – instead of saline. The woman had been in hospital in her home city of Ulyanovsk in Russia for routine surgery. She was given a drip normally infused into the veins of the dead to prevent decomposition. Ekaterina suffered horrible pains and convulsions for two days before falling into a coma. She was attached to a life support machine and her heart stopped several times. After being flown to a top Moscow hospital, she woke up from her coma – but finally died of multiple organ failure.

Woman dies after being given formaldehyde instead of saline drip during routine surgery – AOL News

A Russian woman tragically died after she was administered embalming fluids instead of saline during a routine surgical procedure, according to reports.

Russian woman died in agony after being given deadly formaldehyde drip | Metro News

A woman died after being embalmed alive due to a medical blunder in a Russian hospital, her mother claims.

Woman Embalmed Alive, Dies Painfully Due To Hospital’s Bizarre Error

The woman’s mother accused the medical team of “murder” after her daughter suffered horrible pains and convulsions for two days before going into coma.

Formaldehyde – Wikipedia

 

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Will Kazakhstan’s Becoming a Mono-Ethnic Country Be a Positive Development?

Paul Goble Staunton, April 7 – Within living memory, Kazakhs were outnumbered in their own republic by ethnic Russians; but now that ethnic balance has shifted so far in the other direction that at least some members of the titular nationality can imagine that their country might ultimately become mono-ethnic. Central Asia Monitor asked two Kazakh intellectuals, Aydos Sarym, a political scientist, and Dzhanibek Suleyev, a web publisher, for their views on whether this was a real possibility or only a pipedream and whether it would be a good thing or a bad one for their Central Asian country (camonitor.kz/30947-chto-budet-esli-v-strane-ostanutsya-odni-kazahi.html). Sarym, for his part, suggests that “in itself, mono-ethnicity is neither good nor bad;” but it will change Kazakhstan because the republic has never been mono-ethnic. Now, the ethnic Kazakhs are dominant but not so long ago, they were in a minority. But what is going on is not simply the rise of the Kazakhs and the departure of the Russians. In the past, the country was dominated by Kazakhs and Slavs, but now, that pattern is being replaced by “a Kazakh-Turkic or Turkic-Muslim” domination. Indeed, in the relatively near future, Uzbeks will replace the ethnic Russians as the second most numerous ethnic group in the country. It is important to remember, Sarym says, that Kazakhstan’s “poly-ethnic quality was not a natural process. If it hadn’t been for the policy of the Russian empire, tsarist and Soviet, which were actively involved in the colonization of the steppe … then the current situation would have turned out to be completely different.” “Today,” he continues, “as we see, history is reversing court. And as soon as the empire ceased to exist and its ideological, political and other constructions collapsed, everything fell apart.” When this process is finally completed, then and only then will it be possible to discuss on the structure and prospects of a poly-ethnic Kazakhstan. “The melting pot didn’t work in our country, and we didn’t obtain a new ‘Soviet’ man. Not have we obtained any abstract ‘Kazakhstan’ man. Those who are rushing to bury the factors of ethnicity and the nation state risk being fatally mistaken many times over or even dying from physical exhaustion.” Considering where Kazakhstan is now, Sarym concludes, “only a Kazakh political nation with a strong civil society and institutions is possible in Kazakhstan. Kazakhs have been and will be the chief core of this, the axis of our statehood, around which will be able to live and flourish all remaining ethnoses who accept the new realities and the common rules of the game.” Suleyev offers a slightly different take. He says that there is support within Kazakhstan for the creation of a mono-ethnic country and that it even has supporters within the government, which for instance has promoted the return of ethnic Kazakhs from abroad and has done little to seek to hold ethnic Russians and other minorities from leaving. That has made Kazakhstan more Kazakh, but it has come at a price: the de-industrialization of the country and the increasing archaicization of Kazakh society. In Soviet times, Kazakhs remained largely rural and Russians came as workers. With the shutting down of many industrial plants, the Russians left. Indeed, that was the primary cause. But as the Russians left, many Kazakhs came into the cities, not to become workers or with already formed worker attitudes. Instead, they brought their traditional rural values into the city and those values increasingly have defined public opinion in the republic, not always for the better, Suleyev says. Indeed, this pattern became the basis for a joke among Kazakhs: “Alma-Ata was the capital of the Kazakhs, the apartment of the ethnic Russians and the restaurant of the Uyghurs.” Today, the issue is not whether the Kazakhs can form a working class but rather whether they can form an information-based economy. That has an ethnic dimension because now, in addition to ethnic Russians, many young Kazakhs are going abroad to study and then work. Unless they return, the country’s prospects are anything but rosy. And that is the critical question, Suleyev says, because the country has already “passed the point of no return” as far as retaining the non-Kazakh population. With its departure, Kazakhstan will become mono-ethnic: the real question is what kind of a nation will that be, an archaic one based on its peasant past or a modern IT country?

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Continues to Expand Its Influence and Control in Kyrgyzstan, Dukenbayev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 6 – Even though the percentage of ethnic Russians in Kyrgyzstan’s population has declined to six percent, Moscow continues to expand its influence and control in that Central Asian republic, with the Russian language retaining a disproportionate role and the FSB controlling the country’s security services, according to Askat Dukenbayev. The former representative of Freedom House in Kyrgyzstan tells Radio Svoboda’s Kseniya Kirillova that almost as many Kyrgyz watch Russian television as watch their national television and that the latter in many cases follow the Russian lead, especially on international news (ru.krymr.com/a/29144695.html). One consequence of this is that “more than 90 percent” of the Kyrgyz population views Russia as the chief friend and partner of their country – only 10 percent name the US as occupying that role – and have a more positive attitude toward Vladimir Putin than toward any of their domestic political figures. Another, Dukenbayev says, is that Russian continues to be “a social marker of belonging to the elite,” dominates public discourse in the Kyrgyz capital, and is the language in which many government offices and agencies operate. In many cases, the government follows Moscow’s increasingly repressive line, but local civic activists resist sometimes successfully. Beginning in 2014 after the Crimean Anschluss, Moscow-supported pressure on the opposition increased, and the Kremlin’s role as an advisor of the Kyrgyz leadership became ever more obvious even to the point of coordinating with the country’s president on who his successor would be. Moreover, Dukenbayev continues, “citizens who expressed support for Ukraine and disagreement with the increased dependence of Kyrgyzstan on Putin’s Russia were the first to be subjected to repressions and persecutions,” with Bishkek opening criminal cases against opposition figures and closing down numerous civic organizations, including Freedom House. Despite this, Dukenbayev says, “the new political forces have a chance to win the parliamentary elections in2020 because the electoral system is now more transparent and the level of falsification in Kyrgyzstan is not so high as to be in a position to influence the overall result.” But Moscow has not limited its efforts to expand its influence in Kyrgyzstan to language and politics. Gazprom, which now controls 22 percent of the country’s gas infrastructure has plans to expand this to 69 percent. Moscow has opposed the development of a rail link to China and it has promised to give military contracts to Kyrgyz firms. Russia has one military base in Kyrgyzstan and negotiations about opening a second are continuing. And Moscow has recovered its dominant position of control over Kyrgyz intelligence and security services: Now all officers recruited to serve in them are trained not domestically but in Moscow and the FSB has “a curator” in their offices.

Tajikistan Expects Russia At Regional Water Conference In June

Tajikistan’s foreign minister says Dushanbe is expecting a Russian delegation to attend an international conference on water resources in Central Asia that it is hosting in June.

Opponents Sing Incumbent’s Praises In Azerbaijani Election

No debate here: As Azerbaijan prepared to hold an early presidential election, even the challengers were singing the incumbent’s praises.

Belarus Reports

Lukashenka Hints At Shift In Belarusian Power Structure, But Not Yet

Authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka has dangled the prospect of decreasing the ample powers of the president in Belarus, but suggested that such a change should not be expected in the near f…

Putin planning to interfere in Belarusian elections to replace Lukashenka, Sivitsky saysEuromaidan Press |

Russians already now are “considering scenarios of a so-called ‘transit of power’ in Belarus” in the parliamentary and presidential elections slated for 2019 and 2020 and “will try to interfere … in order to bring to power someone who will be able to completely fulfill [Moscow’s] strategic interests,” Arseny Sivitsky says.

Belarusian ‘Chainsaw Killer’ Faces Life In Prison On New Charges

A Belarusian teenager serving a 15-year prison term after being convicted of killing a woman with a chainsaw in an attack on a shopping mall faces new charges and could be sentenced to life in prison.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

Moldovan Court Demotes, But Doesn’t Abolish, Polygraphs In Anticorruption Hiring

Moldova’s Constitutional Court has ruled that polygraph tests may continue as part of job interviews for managers of a top anticorruption body but their results should not be the determining factor.

Ukraine Reports

Defense council secretary Turchynov: Nuclear disarmament of Ukraine was historical mistake – 11.04.2018 15:56 — Ukrinform News

Oleksandr Turchynov, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, has called the nuclear disarmament of Ukraine “a historical mistake” and stressed that only powerful modern deterrent weapons can prevent an aggressive nuclear country from large-scale invading. Turchynov said this in an interview with the Gordon Ukrainian online newspaper, the press service of the National Security and Defense Council reported on Wednesday. “In today’s world, everyone has to be self-reliant. Nobody pays attention to the weak. The weak are being humiliated and used! Only a strong Ukraine can make others respect it and reckon with its national interests! We must build such a Ukraine together,” Turchynov said. He added that nuclear disarmament was Ukraine’s historical mistake. “The security guarantees given to us were not even worth the paper which they were written on,” the NSDC secretary said. Ukraine should rely on its own forces until it joins NATO, Turchynov explained “What can prevent an aggressive nuclear country from large-scale invading? Only the powerful modern deterrent weapons capable of hitting the enemy at any distance. In my opinion, this matter should be settled as a priority. No one in the world has moral or legal right to disagree with this stance,” he said.

Ukraine Announces Plans To Quit CIS, Terminate Parts Of Russia Friendship Treaty

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has announced plans to quit the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and terminate parts of a friendship treaty with Russia.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Poroshenko Calls for Ukraine to Formally Leave the CIS

Paul Goble Staunton, April 12 – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that Kyiv is preparing the documents necessary to formally leave the Russian-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States, thus making official what has long been a de facto condition and reducing still further the size of a structure Moscow has long counted on to advance its interests. In 1991, 11 former Soviet republics formed the CIS and shortly thereafter Georgia was forced to join, a decision it reversed after Vladimir Putin invaded that country in 2008. Moldova is on the way out as well, and with Ukraine’s departure, the CIS will be reduced to nine – Russia plus Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Central Asian countries. Even some of them are less than full-fledged allies of Moscow either because they are trying to balance east and West as Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have been doing or because they have been going their own way like Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. And so yet another Russian project is falling apart. That Ukraine, the largest and most important non-Russian member, was going to withdraw following the Russian invasion had been signaled by the country’s foreign ministry (segodnya.ua/politics/mid-ukrainy-podgotovil-predlozheniya-po-vyhodu-iz-sng-i-denonsacii-bolshogo-dogovora-s-rf-1122343.html). But the actual move had been delayed for at least three reasons: First, the issue of leaving the CIS had become entangled with that of denouncing the Russian-Ukrainian friendship pact of 1997 in which Moscow had acknowledged Kyiv’s control over Kyiv and that thus in part still serves Ukraine’s interests. Second, many in Kyiv and the West have been worried about how Moscow might react if Ukraine took this formal step and counselled against it arguing that Ukraine hasn’t really been part of the organization for some time and that withdrawing won’t really change very much except infuriate Moscow and thus make the situation worse. And third, the foreign ministry earlier made clear that it was waiting for Poroshenko to act. He now has, and consequently, at a time when most people are focusing on Syria and Western sanctions, Ukraine is now ready to take this step (segodnya.ua/politics/poroshenko-predlozhil-oficialno-vyvesti-ukrainu-iz-sng-1130143.html). As the CIS heads toward a new a diminished status, it is worth recalling how and why it came into existence in the first place. Many view it as simply a product of the Beloveshchaya accords. But that is incorrect. Instead, it was a response by Moscow to the actions of the then-newly independent Central Asian countries. After the leaders of the three Slavic republics agreed to disband the USSR, the leaders of the Central Asian countries met to discuss forming a new union among themselves. The prospect of some larger Muslim entity to the east was enough to prompt the Russian government to push for what became the CIS. Some of those taking part saw it as little more than a divorce court to divide up the spoils of the empire; others hoped it would be something more, the skeleton around which a new political entity could be constructed. Ukraine’s departure more clearly than the exit of anyone else shows that the former were right and the latter are doomed to be disappointed.

Poroshenko to submit bill on stop of some points of Friendship Treaty with Russia – 112.international

Poroshenko to submit bill on stop of some points of Friendship Treaty with Russia

Alliance interested in Ukraine’s membership, – U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO – 112.international

Alliance interested in Ukraine’s membership, – U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO claimed that NATO is interested in the membership of Ukraine in the alliance. She claimed this during Kyiv Security Forum as Ukrainian News reported. ‘We want Ukraine to become a member of the alliance, I assure you’, Hutchison claimed.

UAWire – Ukraine accuses Russia of organizing a terrorist attack in Kyiv

The Security Service of Ukraine accused the General Staff of the Russian Federation of organizing terrorist attacks in Kyiv near Espreso TV, where the Deputy of the Verkhovna Rada, Ihor Mosiychuk was injured. Two people died and four were injured at an explosion at the building exit of the Espreso TV station in Kyiv at the end of October 2017. The deceased were former employee of the Ministry of Internal affairs Mykhailo Mormil, walking nearby and Police Staff Sergeant Ruslan Kushnir. Mosiychuk, well-known Ukrainian political analyst Vitaliy Bala and two others were injured. Earlier, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), Vasyl Hrytsak spoke about solving the case of the terrorist attack in which Mosiychuk was injured. “The organizer of the crime, an unidentified male, a representative of the main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation visited Ukraine from September 9 to 11, and from October 10 to 15, 2017,” the SBU Deputy Head Viktor Kononenko stated at the briefing on Thursday. According to Kononenko, there are currently four defendants in this case: a Russian citizen and three Ukrainians whose identities have now been established. According to the investigation, two of them were direct perpetrators of the terrorist attack and they are now evading Ukrainian justice by staying in Russian territory. Another suspect, an accomplice of a terrorist organization has been detained and is in custody. The representative of the Prosecutor’s office stated that all three Ukrainians are now officially suspects in the case. In particular, the detained defendant of the case is charged with “being an accessory to terrorist attacks that led to the loss of human lives” and “unlawful possession and production of explosive devices.” Two other Ukrainians are now suspects in absentia, wanted under the articles “Attempt on the life of a public figure,” “terrorist attack” and “illegal possession of weapons.” The investigation will appeal to the Russian Federation regarding the extradition of defendants of the case to Ukraine for criminal prosecution. The Deputy Prosecutor of Kyiv did not mention specific motives for crime, however, in replying to the clarifying question of whether the attack was targeted specifically against Mosiychuk, he noted that “based on the information received, Mosiychuk was who they wanted.”

Escalation in Donbas: Ukraine reports 66 enemy attacks, 1 KIA, 1 WIA in last day | UNIAN

Russia’s hybrid military forces mounted 66 attacks on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas in the past 24 hours, with one Ukrainian soldier reported as killed in action (KIA) and another one as wounded in action (WIA). The enemy continued to use proscribed weapons, including mortars, grenade launchers and anti-aircraft guns.

UAWire – Turchynov: Ukraine will return the entire Donbas first and then the Crimea

Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, stated in an interview with Gordonua.com that he is …

Joint Forces Operation to be launched in Donbas April 30 – Poroshenko | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in an interview with Ukrainian TV channels that the Anti-Terrorist Operation would be changing its format to become the Operation of Joint Forces in Donbass as early as April 30. According to Poroshenko, parts of the National Guard, SBU, border guards, and National Police will become subordinate to the AFU.

Ukraine’s interior minister: Police, guardsmen to join peacekeepers to end Donbas occupation | UNIAN

Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has announced that Ukrainian police and the National Guard will join a peacekeeping mission to end the Russian occupation of Donbas. The Ukrainian authorities are considering several scenarios for the east of Ukraine.

UAWire – Klimkin: Ukraine has agreed with France on peacekeeper tactics, Germany and US next in line

Ukraine has already come to an agreement with France on tactics to implement the introduction of a peacekeeping mission in the Donbas. Germany …

Turkey ready to join UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas, – Poroshenko – 112.international

Turkey claimed it is ready to join the UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas. Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian leader, posted this on Facebook after his meeting with Turkish coleague Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foregin Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu. ‘Turkey supported the deployment of UN peacekeeping mission in the occupied part of Donbas and claimed it was ready to join it. We also discussed the situation in the Russian-occupied Crimea, specifically the release of Ukrainian political prisoners from Russian jails’, reads the message. Earlier, Poroshenko said Russia has a chance to show readiness for a compromise, agreeing to the deployment of UN peacekeepers all over occupied Donbas.

Ukraine anticipates Russian provocation in Azov Sea – LB.ua news portal

Ukraine anticipates Russian provocation in Azov Sea. Russia may provoke a collision of its boat with a Ukrainian patrol cutter. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Poroshenko, Merkel to agree upon details of peacekeeping mission in Donbas – 07.04.2018 13:28 — Ukrinform News

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko during his visit to Berlin will agree with German Chancellor Angela Merkel upon the details of possible deployment of the UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas.

U.S. envoy Volker calls on Russia, its proxies to stop threatening OSCE monitors | UNIAN

U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker has called on Russia and its proxies to stop threatening or intimidating the OSCE monitors. Armed men near the village of Kreminets on April 5 charged weapons in front of the OSCE SMM patrol and threatened monitors.

Poroshenko wants Ukraine’s anti-Russian sanctions to be synchronized with U.S. ones | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has welcomed the expansion of U.S. sanctions against figures on the so-called ‘Putin list’ and expects that the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine will submit its comprehensive proposals to synchronize Ukrainian sanctions with the U.S. ones. “I welcome the unprecedented expansion of U.S. sanctions against those on the ‘Putin list!’ A decent response to the aggressor through its oligarchs and the Kremlin allies for aggression against Ukraine, interference in the internal affairs of independent states and disrespect for international law,” Poroshenko wrote on Facebook on April 6. “The free world further strengthens its anti-Moscow coalition, with Washington in the clear lead and on the basis of a strong transatlantic unity and common values. I believe the EU will similarly strengthen its restrictive measures against the Kremlin’s governing elite,” Poroshenko said.

Strelkov aka Girkin draws three possible scenarios for Donbas | UNIAN

Former “Defense Minister” of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (“DPR”) Igor Girkin, nom de guerre Strelkov, has drawn three possible scenarios of developments for the self-proclaimed republics in Russian-occupied Donbas. “The republics cannot exist on their own for a long time. There are three scenarios. Either they will have to be taken over by Russia, i.e. formally taken under protection. Or the Novorossia project will be implemented when a completely new, friendly, but independent state appears. There is a third option: Ukraine will win with U.S. support… If the Russian Federation, God forbid, closes the border, then the ‘DPR’ and ‘LPR’ [“Luhansk People’s Republic”] will cease to exist in a few days,” the Donbas news portal DonPress quoted Girkin as saying.

Kyiv-2 battalion commander on Girkin’s statement: “Just talks and wishful thinking” | UNIAN

Commander of Ukraine’s Kyiv-2 battalion Bohdan Voitsekhovsky has said statements recently made by former “Defense Minister” of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (“DPR”) Igor Girkin, nom de guerre Strelkov, about Russia’s big mistake to stop large-scale military actions against Ukraine and the need to go as far as to Dnipro are “just talks and wishful thinking.” The battalion commander is confident in the Ukrainian army’s combat effectiveness. Commander of Ukraine’s Kyiv-2 battalion Bohdan Voitsekhovsky has said statements recently made by former “Defense Minister” of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (“DPR”) Igor Girkin, nom de guerre Strelkov, about Russia’s big mistake to stop large-scale military actions against Ukraine and the need to go as far as to Dnipro are “just talks and wishful thinking.” “It’s all talks and wishful thinking. What kind of threat Girkin poses if our army is strong enough, in full gear and combat-ready,” he told the Ukrainian news outlet Obozrevatel. According to him, the Russian-backed militants and the former leaders controlled by the Russian FSB may influence the situation only as much as the Ukrainian army lets them. The battalion commander is confident in the Ukrainian army’s combat effectiveness. “We may lose the battle but not the war. We may lose a battle for Kharkiv, even for Kyiv, but still we will win the war, because capturing does not mean keeping. They will have no strength or ability. They must not only capture, but also keep, and they have already failed to,” he said. As UNIAN reported earlier, Girkin drew three possible scenarios of developments for the self-proclaimed republics in Russian-occupied Donbas. According to him, if the Russian Federation closes the border, then the so-called Donbas republics will cease to exist in a few days.

“Pavlo’s life in danger!” – Father of Kremlin’s teen prisoner says son’s health deteriorating dramatically | UNIAN

Ihor Hryb, father of a Ukrainian teenager Pavlo Hryb who has been illegally kept in custody in Russia’s Krasnodar on trumped-up terror charges, says his son’s health has deteriorated significantly. “April 9, 2018. Easter. Day 2. The repression machine of the Russian Federation, despite Holiday, keeps working. Marina Dubrovina, Pavlo’s lawyer from Russia, is currently in pretrial detention facility No. 5 in Krasnodar, witnessing investigative actions. Pavlo feels very bad. There was vomiting and severe pain in the abdominal region. The administration of the remand center is not responding to Pavlo’s complaints about the deterioration of health, while medical assistance is not being provided,” the father wrote on Facebook. According to Ihor Hryb, internal bleeding could start at any time. “Pavlo’s life is in danger!” he wrote. As UNIAN reported earlier, on August 28, 2017, a member of the public council of the State Border Service of Ukraine Ihor Hryb reported that his 19-year-old son went missing in Gomel (Belarus) where he had traveled August 24 to meet with a girl he got to know via an online chat. Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/10073978-pavlo-s-life-in-danger-father-of-kremlin-s-teen-prisoner-says-son-s-health-deteriorating-dramatically.html

Missing Family Of Four In Eastern Ukraine Found Dead, Killed In Mine Blast

Ukrainian police say a missing family of four has been killed in an antitank mine explosion near the front line in the eastern region of Luhansk, an area the United Nations has called one of the mo…

Fears of radioactive disaster as Russian proxies plan to flood nuclear test site in Donbas -Euromaidan Press |

On 14 April, the occupation authorities of the “Donetsk People’s Republic,” a Russian-backed statelet in eastern Ukraine, are going to stop pumping shaft waters out of the defunct coal mine “Yunkom,” which was transformed into a Soviet underground nuclear test site back in 1979. The decision threatens to cause a nuclear disaster in the region. Within the worst-case scenario, the forthcoming filling of the mine with water may pollute soil, surface and ground waters with radiocontaminants reaching the Azov Sea. In total, the USSR conducted 239 peaceful nuclear explosions on its territory during in 1965–1988 under the auspices of the so-called Program 6 (“Employment of Nuclear Explosive Technologies in the Interests of National Economy“) and Program 7 (“Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy”). Two underground nuclear tests were held in Ukraine (then, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic) in the 1970s. Firstly, a 3.8-kiloton nuclear charge was detonated at a depth of about 2,500 meters in the west of Kharkiv Oblast to extinguish a fire at a natural gas field in 1972. It was the 28th Soviet peaceful nuclear test. The explosion codenamed Fakel (“Torch”) didn’t yield the desired results and the fire was later extinguished using usual methods. In 1979, another industrial underground nuclear explosion rocked Ukraine, number 73 in the “peaceful atom” program. This time, a densely populated coalmining district in Donetsk Oblast was chosen for the test. A 0.3-kiloton nuclear charge was set off at the 903-meter underground operations horizon of the “Yunkom” coal mine. The explosion formed a glass chamber known as Object Klivazh. The third nuclear explosion in Ukraine, this time an uncontrolled one, could have taken place at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant amid the 1988 nuclear disaster. As some scientists believe, after the initial steam explosion which destroyed the reactor’s core, there could be a chain reaction of the nuclear fuel that caused the devastating second explosion which destroyed the roof of the containment building and released most of the nuclear fuel and fission products into the atmosphere. However, according to other theories, it could be either another steam explosion or an explosion of the huge amount of hydrogen, which could have been produced from the overheated water from the damaged cooling system of the reactor.

OSCE: Militants in Donbas want to flood coal mine, one of 1979 Soviet nuclear test sites | UNIAN

Monitors from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine have reported the militants want to flood the Yunkom mine in the town of Bunhe, which is 43 kilometers north-east of the temporarily occupied city of Donetsk. Some of the mine’s pumps would be shut off tentatively on April 14, and thus the mine would be gradually flooded. “Staff at the Yunkom mine in Bunhe (former Yunokomunarivsk, non-government-controlled, 43km north-east of Donetsk) told the SMM that some of the mine’s pumps would be shut off around April 14, and thus the mine would be gradually flooded. (In 1979, a nuclear device was reportedly detonated in a capsule inside the mine. Staff from the mine also told the SMM that it is not clear how possible leakages or increased pressure from the flooding of the mineshaft could threaten the integrity of the capsule),” the mission said in an update based on information received as of 19:30, April 11, 2018. “However, the deputy chief engineer and three other persons (man and two women) said the current status of the capsule is not known, and it is not clear how possible leakages or increased pressure from the flooding of the mineshaft would affect the capsule’s integrity,” the monitors said.

MH17 downing: Media shed light on involvement of Russian Colonel | UNIAN

Journalists managed to obtain new data on the involvement of the Russian military officer, Sergei Dubinsky, in the downing of the Malaysian passenger jet flight MH17 in the summer of 2014, killing 298 people on board. Colonel Sergei Dubinsky, who also goes by a nomme de guerre “Khmuryi” [“Gloomy”] worked for the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of Russia.

Crew of seized Crimean vessel at large – media | UNIAN

The crew of the Crimean-registered Nord fishing vessel seized by the Ukrainian Border Guard Service in the Sea of Azov on March 25 is at large. The crew must come for questioning to the SBU Security Service department on April 10 in connection with the captain’s case.

Court arrests ship for illegal sand extraction in Sea of Azov – 112.international

Court arrests ship for illegal sand extraction in Sea of Azov

Nord fishing ship crew is released – 112.international

Nord fishing ship crew is released

Ukrainian border guards do not let Nord ship crew into Crimea – LB.ua news portal

Ukrainian border guards do not let Nord ship crew into Crimea. “We can let the citizens of Ukraine in, but this would require internal documents.” Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Recruits from Crimea to serve in Russian Strategic Missile Forces – 112.international

In total, over 8,000 recruits will be sent to Russian Army

UAWire – Ukraine to use information from US tactical drones for its military operation in Donbas

Specialists from the Ukrainian military trained in the use of information from MQ-9 Reaper drones, one of the latest US reconnaissance-strike unmanned aerial vehicles, according to presentation slides published by the press service of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The images describe the operation of the Gorgon Stare video capture system used by the MQ-9 Reaper drone. This technology allows the collection of data on the operational status of the enemy. The information received by Gorgon Stare is subsequently analyzed by artificial intelligence systems. “During the course, the students received theoretical knowledge and practical skills in planning special operations in accordance with NATO standards and procedures,” the press release stated as it reported on the Ukrainian military successful passing relevant courses. Presently, Ukraine does not have its own medium or large military drones. Flights over the country are currently being carried out by American drones, mainly in the Donbas region. American drones were also sighted several times in the Crimea. Depending on the tasks assigned, the MQ-9 Reaper is capable of recording in normal light and infrared, and can also be equipped with a laser range finder. The drone is designed and mass-produced by the American company General Dynamics.

Ukraine washes its hands of civilian victims of Russian-sponsored war in Donbas – 112.international

Ukraine washes its hands of civilian victims of Russian-sponsored war in Donbas

UA|TV begins broadcasting in occupied Luhansk region – 112.international

UA|TV begins broadcasting in occupied Luhansk region

Oleksandr Turchynov: The state tests of new missile weapons have been launched – National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine

The state tests of the “Vilkha” missile system were carried out today in the Odesa region. According to Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov, the current tests are “the final stage of a large-scale project of Ukrainian scientists, designers and manufacturers”. “Thanks to the efforts of all those who worked on this project, we received powerful missilery, which in all respects is better than the Russian analog “Smerch”, – Mr. Turchynov noticed. The NSDC Secretary informed that the state tests would go through several stages, during which the customer will check all the tactical and technical characteristics of missiles for compliance with the parameters set. He explained that the missiles would be launched in full combat equipment at predefined targets. “Taking into account the missiles’ handling, a separate target will be set for each of them”, – the NSDC Secretary added. Oleksandr Turchynov stressed that after the completion of these large-scale state tests, the “Vilkha” missile system would be taken on armament, and the Ukrainian defense-industrial complex will launch their mass production. “I want to emphasize that the first stage of the state tests, during which the missiles struck particular targets at the maximum shooting range, was successful – the test program was fully implemented”, – Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine said.

Ukraine finalises testing of new 300mm guided rockets – Defence Blog

The state tests of the new Ukrainian VILKHA 300mm guided rockets were carried out today in the Odesa region. According to Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov, the current tests are “the final stage of a large-scale project of Ukrainian scientists, designers and manufacturers”. “Thanks to the efforts of all those who worked on this project, we received powerful missilery, which in all respects is better than the Russian analog “Smerch”, – Mr. Turchynov noticed. The NSDC Secretary informed that the state tests would go through several stages, during which the customer will check all the tactical and technical characteristics of missiles for compliance with the parameters set. He explained that the missiles would be launched in full combat equipment at predefined targets. “Taking into account the missiles’ handling, a separate target will be set for each of them”, – the NSDC Secretary added. More: US State Department approves HIMARS rockets sale to Poland Oleksandr Turchynov stressed that after the completion of these large-scale state tests, the “Vilkha” missile system would be taken on armament, and the Ukrainian defense-industrial complex will launch their mass production. “I want to emphasize that the first stage of the state tests, during which the missiles struck particular targets at the maximum shooting range, was successful – the test program was fully implemented”, – Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine said.

Turchynov: Ukraine tests Vilkha missile system (Photo) | UNIAN

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov has said Ukraine tested the Vilkha missile system in Odesa region on April 10. Turchynov says Vilkha is better than the Russian analog Smerch by all odds.

Ukraine tests Vilkha missile system – UNIAN Photoreport

Ukraine tests Vilkha missile system. UNIAN pictures

The State Tests of New Missile Weapons Have Been Launched (VIDEO)

state tests would go through several stages

Views on Problematic Issues of Application of Air Force in Air Defense

It analyses various options to be considered for the best choice of an efficient Air Force control system

Poland to procure Ukrainian active protection systems for T-72 tanks modernization

Poland is set to purchase more than 500 Ukrainian dynamic defense systems

Ukraine acquires BMP-1AK infantry fighting vehicles from Poland – Defence Blog

The Armed Forces of Ukraine took delivery of an unspecified number of newly overhauled BMP-1AK infantry fighting vehicles from Polish company Wtorplast, a senior military source told the Defence Blog. Ukraine has ordered an unspecified number of overhauled infantry fighting vehicles from Polish Wtorplast company, a manufacturer of products and special vehicles for military purposes dates. The first batch of the BMP-1AK has already arrived in Ukraine and was handed over to Ukraine’s Ground Forces. According to a military source, the purchase of a batch of overhauled BMP-1AK infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) is intended for operational strengthening the combat capacity of the Ukrainian Ground Forces. The BMP-1AK (AK – Anti Kumulyativnaya or protect against HEAT attacks in English) is a special variant of Soviet-made infantry fighting vehicle developed for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Externally, the BMP-1AK is almost no different from the Soviet one. The major differences between BMP-1AK and bases version in the assembly quality and onboard equipment. More: Practika offers BMP-1 tracked infantry fighting vehicle upgrade The BMP-1AK is amphibian waterproof track vehicle designed to increase infantry squad mobility, provide fire support to them, and also be able to fight alongside main battle tanks. BMP-1 IFV is equipped with heavy 73 mm 2A28 Grom low pressure smoothbore short-recoil semi-automatic gun which has proven their worth under armed conflict in the Donbass region of Ukraine and coupled machinegun of 7,62 mm calibre.

Ukraine acquires BMP-1AK infantry fighting vehicles from Poland

The BMP-1AK is amphibian waterproof track vehicle designed to increase infantry squad mobility

Ukrainian army receives new batch of MT-LB-S armored medical evacuation vehicle – Defence Blog

The Ukrainian Ground Forces have received the next batch of the new MT-LB-S armored medical evacuation vehicle, according to the Ukrainian Military Page media reports. According to reports published in local media, another batch of armored medical evacuation vehicles on the basis of the MT-LB for the Ukrainian troops was handed over by the “VK Sistema” company. The MT-LB-S is designed to medical evacuation role by providing room for the medical attendant to monitor patient condition en-route, access stored medical equipment, and improved medical capabilities. The new MT-LBS is an updated version of MT-LB multi-purpose fully amphibious auxiliary armoured tracked vehicle. The high-mobility stretch chassis provides excellent cross-country capability and ride characteristics particularly important in this unique mission.

Poland to procure Ukrainian active protection systems for T-72 tanks modernization | UNIAN

Poland is set to purchase more than 500 Ukrainian dynamic defense systems in the framework of the Warsaw’s efforts to modernize the country’s T-72 tank fleet, according to Serhiy Shvydkyi, CEO of SE Microtek. The official says that due to Poland’s transition to NATO-produced equipment, “they intend to upgrade 500 of them and sell them to a third party.

Ukraine exports $400 mln in military products to India in three years – Ukroboronprom | UNIAN

CEO of Ukraine’s state-run military-industrial concern Ukroboronprom Pavlo Bukin says Ukrainian enterprises of the military-industrial complex in the past three years exported military products to India to the tune of about US$400 million. Mykolaiv-based Zorya-Mashproekt has sold gas turbines worth $200 million to the Indian Navy.

Ukrainian Army takes delivery of first Bogdan 2351 light utility vehicles – Defence Blog

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has taken delivery of the first batch of new Bogdan 2351 light utility vehicles to replace the Soviet-era UAZ-469, said in press service of the Bogdan Motors. The Bogdan Motors company has developed the new multi-purpose military vehicle, called the Bogdan 2351, to replace ageing UAZ-469s that do not meet the present requirements of a battlefield. According to the company, the new light utility vehicles has a more powerful and more efficient engine with a capacity of 143 hp (volume of 2.0 liters), high maximum speed and load capacity. The Bogdan 2351 can carry a payload of 1,100 kg and a crew of two-person with accommodation for up to three fully equipped troops.

The Association of high-tech enterprises and organizations “Cosmos” was established in Ukraine

The constituent meeting of the Association members is planned to take place in June 2018

Turchynov: Ukraine keeps its place among space-faring nations | UNIAN

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov has said Ukraine has kept its place in the “space-faring nations’ club.” Turchynov said Ukraine fruitfully cooperates with international partners under joint projects.

Ukrainian news – Ukraine wants to build cosmodrome in Australia. Are you serious? – 112.international

The space industry in Ukraine has always been perceived as a cash cow, but it has never been regarded as an industry of perspective, strategic development. The space industry in Ukraine has always been perceived as a cash cow, but it has never been regarded as an industry of perspective, strategic development. It was only about developing the old scientific and technical potential practically “to the end”. Now our space and aviation are still relying on the “last of the Mohicans”, many of which no longer stand morally and physically and leave either for rest or for other countries – Azerbaijan, China, Saudi Arabia. “And why shouldn’t we make a breakthrough?” Approximately in this vein, Ukrainian officials from the space industry argued, offering Australia to build a cosmodrome in the desert western part of the continent. Of course, the “Kosmozoo” could be a better name, but, apparently, it is decided not to contact the Australian Society for the Protection of Space Animals. It should be noted that at the moment, the scalps of several cosmodromes are already hanging in the corridors of the Ukrainian space agency: for example, the bankrupt Sea Launch project, the Brazilian cosmodrome Alcantara, from which the new Ukrainian Cyclone-4 rocket carriers did not take off, and the cosmodrome in Canada, which might be built in the near future. “This proposal is very realistic. Ukraine can start [launch missiles] at least tomorrow morning if we have a platform … We offer our people and our experience if Australia has land for use, “according to the Australian press, said the Ukrainian ambassador in this country, Mykola Kulinich, in one fell swoop “lowering” the interlocutors to the level of a tree kangaroo. Like “we have rockets, you have land, – open the gate.” Judging by the publications in The West Australian, Australians took this proposal very seriously. It affects the age-old Anglo-Saxon diligence: what if they really could build, and we refused. Such proposals do not come every day. Or rather, for the first time in history. After all, how long they have been in British Commonwealth, but such a proposal was never received. Such heavy echoes of colonialism. And then unexpectedly, receiving of the message from a distant country, which many Australians knew only because of Eurovision song contest. Under the future project on the green continent, they decided to allocate land near the air base Curtin near Derby. The construction of the facility will require an area of 5-7 thousand square km (well, this is because the rocket could be accidentally knocked down by a tomahawk). The desert places factor simplifies the procedure of public discussion with locals.

Ukrainians’ attitude towards Stalin: Latest opinion poll – 112.international

The attitude to Stalin varies depending on the level of prosperity of the respondent’s family.

Police Investigate Rocket-Propelled Grenade Attack On Kyiv Office Building

Ukrainian authorities say they are investigating a rocket-propelled-grenade attack on a building that houses the offices of two of Ukraine’s top independent news outlets in central Kyiv as “hooliga…

In Ukraine’s Language Battleground, Some Soldiers Switching Sides

Language has long been one of the key battlegrounds in the struggle to determine Ukraine’s post-Soviet identity. Yehor Huskov has become an unlikely frontline soldier. The 33-year-old was born in Soviet Russia to a Russian father and Ukrainian mother before moving when he was a small boy to Dnipropetrovsk. Renamed Dnipro in 2016 as part of Ukraine’s decommunization drive, the country’s third-largest city remains dominated by Russian speakers. The family’s first language was always Russian. But today, Huskov eschews his mother tongue in favor of speaking his mother’s tongue, Ukrainian, a move prompted by both historical and recent events. “I realized that communicating in Russian in Ukraine was actually a continuation of the work of communist Russifiers who tried in every way to destroy the Ukrainian language and Ukrainian culture,” he told RFE/RL in an interview. While language has long been a hot-button issue across the country, it has become an even thornier issue since Russia’s 2014 seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and intervention in a conflict in eastern regions of Ukraine where the majority of the population speaks Russian as its first language. “Since then, I basically don’t communicate in Russian. Even with Russians, I speak Ukrainian,” Huskov added.

Ukraine first invited to G7 meeting of foreign ministers | UNIAN

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin was invited for the first time to attend at the meeting of G7 top diplomats that will launch in Toronto April 22, according to Ukrainian Ambassador to Canada Andriy Shevchenko. Ukraine hopes that the discussion will continue at the upcoming summit of G7 leaders in Canada’s Charlevoix scheduled for June.

Holy Fire delivered to Ukraine from Jerusalem – 112.international

Holy Fire has been delivered to Ukraine from Jerusalem

Ukraine less westernized than Baltic States, Moldova, Georgia – research -Euromaidan Press |

Ukraine ranks 6th among 14 former Soviet republics by its level of integration into the western political, economic, and cultural space. The first annual «Westernization Index 2018» was released by the StrategEast in collaboration with the experts of the New Europe Center. The Index measures the level to which 14 post-Soviet countries, sans the Russian Federation (post-Soviet, non-Russia), have adopted the Western model by looking at five key areas:

Journalistic probe suggests corruption in licensing development of huge lithium ore deposits amid electric cars boom | UNIAN

The permit for extraction of some 14 million tonnes of lithium ore was granted without a due tender procedure, journalists claim. With a 1% share of lithium in the ore, the cost of the deposit is estimated at over $2.5 billion. The permit for extraction of some 14 million tonnes of lithium ore was granted without a due tender procedure, journalists claim. Special permit for the development of the Shevchenko deposit (in the government-controlled part of Donetsk region) was issued without competition to Petro-Consulting, a company Ukrainian journalists say close to Energy Minister Ihor Nasalyk, MP Ihor Kononenko and Ihor Hladkovsky, son of the first deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, according to Bihus.info. While the SBU security service classified data on lithium ore deposits in Ukraine, the company reported on the reserves of the field it would be operating at 14 million tonnes. With a 1% share of lithium in the ore, the cost of the deposit is estimated at over $2.5 billion. Nominal owners of Petro-Consulting are two Ukrainian nationals – a Lviv-based restaurateur Oleh Bolshakov and a Kyiv sculptor Mykola Yesypenko.

How Russia tried to legitimize illegal election in Crimea – Hromadske International | UNIAN

On March 18, Crimea went to polls alongside Russia in an illegitimate election that saw President Vladimir Putin win another six-year term. Purposely scheduled for the anniversary of Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, the election, like Russia’s 2014 referendum in Crimea, was not recognized internationally. In a bid to validate both the election and its annexation of Crimea, Russia brought over its own international monitors to the peninsula – including former OSCE electoral observers and a Ukrainian woman.

Nine in ten Poles positive about Ukrainian workers – Polish media | UNIAN

Ninety percent of Poles are in favor of Ukrainians working on the Polish labor market, according to a survey. Seven percent of Poles, however, perceive Ukrainians as a threat.

Ukraine reveals over 15,000 fire safety violations amid large-scale inspection of public places | UNIAN

Chairman of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine Mykola Chechotkin has said over 15,000 fire safety violations were revealed in the course of a large-scale inspection of public places. The worst situation is in Donetsk, Sumy and Ternopil regions.

Ambassador Pieklo: Poland is genuine ally of Ukraine – 12.04.2018 12:28 — Ukrinform News

Poland is a genuine ally of Ukraine and is trying to provide the greatest possible assistance, so Ukrainian politicians should focus more on common interests and maintaining unity between the countries.

Almost 79 percent of Ukraine’s anthracite coal imports in 2017 came from Russia – 112.international

In 2017, Ukraine imported 2.66 million tons of anthracite from Russia, which made 78.6 percent of the entire annual import volume

UAWire – Media: Russia’s Gazprom and Ukraine’s Naftogaz negotiate new contract

The newspaper Vedomosti has reported that Gazprom and Naftogaz Ukraine are discussing terms for a new gas transit contract through Ukraine to …

Savchenko loses 15 kg during hunger strike – news about politics

Ukrainian Member of Parliament Nadiia Savchenko, who is suspected of plotting terrorist attacks and seizing state power, has been on hunger strike for 20 days and has reportedly lost 15 kilograms. Savchenko will not be hospitalized today as investigative actions are planned.

Savchenko transferred from remand center to hospital for examination – 112.international

Savchenko transferred from remand center to hospital for examination

Arrested Ukrainian Lawmaker Savchenko’s Home, Office Searched

Ukrainian law enforcement officers have searched the home and office of lawmaker Nadia Savchenko, who is in jail pending trial on charges of plotting a terrorist attack on parliament with grenades …

SBU confiscates pistol, PC server during search at Savchenko’s apartment – 112.international

SBU confiscates pistol, PC server during search at Savchenko’s apartment

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

Anthony H. Cordesman | Syria: When and How Does This War End? | Center for Strategic and International Studies

In early 2003, when he was still commander of the 101st Airborne Division and still preparing for the invasion of Iraq, General David Petraeus asked a key question: “How does this war end?” Some fifteen years later, we are no closer to an answer than we were then in Iraq, and we seem to be no closer in Syria. The purpose of war is never to win military victories. The purpose is to shape a peace that serves the lasting strategic objectives of the nation that fights it. We have not been able to focus on this goal in any of our “wars”.

Assessing chances of U.S. military operation in Syria | UNIAN

U.S. President’s statement on Twitter on an upcoming missile strike emerged just ahead of his consultations with the Defense Secretary and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Thus, Donald Trump’s message came against the lack of a specific action plan, calculations and risk assessment of the military campaign. …. Today, the entire decision-making system at the level of the Syrian military command depends on representatives of the Russian Ministry of Defense. According to our estimates, implementation of any military operations, including the use of chemical weapons, is coordinated with the Russian representatives in Syria. Thus, any further use of chemical weapons in Syria is directly linked to Russia’s presence in the country and Russia’s overall ability to maintain it beyond own borders. It is likely that the sites where Syrian chemical weapons are stored mostly coincide with the locations where Russian units are based or deployed. According to our estimates, Syrian government forces have a certain stock of chemical weapons, which does not guarantee that they will be deprived of an ability to repeat chemical attacks in the event of destruction of weapons manufacturing sites. Thus, carrying out a U.S. military operation to guarantee the cessation of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime is associated with high risk of a strike on Russian units. In this regard, only a limited on-target operation appears to be justified. Given the risks involved, it would make sense if – The Pentagon has accurate data on the location of chemical weapons warehouses and they are not located at the sites where the Russian contingent is based or not reinforced by Russian units. – The operation will be limited to a missile strike without the use of warplanes, (reducing the likelihood of losses given a multi-level Russian air defense system). – At the same time, limiting the operation to a missile strike without the use of aircraft reduces its effectiveness, therefore it cannot ensure the suppression of all potential targets. This will make the operation a demonstration of strength without achieving strategic goals. – In such a scenario, the expected result of limited missile attacks will not cover the present risks and will have, for the most part, only a political effect. At the same time, such scenario is more acceptable to the U.S. Administration in case they decide to go for a military action. Anatolii Baronin is a director of Da Vinci analytical group

Abandoning Syria hands the Middle East to US adversaries | TheHill

If not the U.S., then which nation will assert power in this violent region and to what ends?

UAWire – Stoltenberg: international coalition to stay in Syria until ISIS is destroyed

The international coalition led by the United States will be in Syria for as long as it takes to completely destroy the militants of Islamic …

Syria chemical attack: Trump threatens “Animal Assad,” Putin after suspected chemical weapons strike – CBS News

&quot;Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!&quot; the president tweeted on Sunday

Between a Rock and Dynamite: American Options in the Face of the Turkish-YPG Crisis

Since mid-2014, America’s main enemy in Syria and Iraq has been the self-proclaimed Islamic State. ISIL is down for the count in both countries, but U.S. decision-makers now face a new challenge: Washington’s long-time NATO ally, Turkey, is fighting with the U.S. military’s key local ally in its fight against ISIL —

Dying for a paycheck: the Russian civilians fighting in Syria

When Vladimir Kabunin signed up as a private military contractor, he saw a chance to make a wage much higher than any he could earn in his provincial Russian hometown.

With eyes on Iran, U.K. opens permanent military base in Bahrain – Middle East News – Haaretz.com

Britain announced in 2014 it had sealed a deal to expand and reinforce its naval presence in Bahrain, allowing it to operate more and bigger ships in the Gulf

UAWire – Media: Ankara negotiates with Moscow the purchase of Kornet anti-tank missile systems

On Sunday, Yeni Safak newspaper reported that Turkey is negotiating with Russia for the possible purchase of Kornet anti-tank guided missile …

Iran Threatens Trump With Strong Response if Nuclear Deal Fails as Arch-Hawk Bolton Begins National Security Tenure

National security adviser John Bolton’s arrival at the White House increases the chances of a harder line on Iran.

Iran tells Trump he would regret dropping nuclear deal

Donald Trump will regret it if he pulls out of the nuclear deal with Iran, President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday, warning the U.S. president that Tehran’s response would be stronger than he thinks.

Some Bristle At Iran’s Offer Of Unfiltered Internet To A Select Few

Iranian journalists have criticized a government offer to provide 100 of them with free Internet, saying they’d reject such a privilege because unrestricted Internet is everyone’s right.

Syrian Forces Intensify Attacks On Rebel Pocket Near Damascus

The Syrian army and allies have intensified shelling and air raids on the town of Douma in eastern Ghouta, a day after air strikes killed at least 40 people in the last rebel holdout near Damascus.

Israel Wages a Growing War in Syria | The New Yorker

Robin Wright on the ongoing Syrian civil war and Israel’s growing role in the conflict.

The Israeli Airstrike on Syria Monday: A Message to Iran, Russia—and Trump

The days of ‘rolling back’ Iran in Syria are gone. Containment and deterrence may be all that is left. And the situation is too dangerous for Trump to kick down the road.

Israel Is Said to Strike Syrian Airbase Where Iran Is Active – The Atlantic

Israel is said to be behind the attack on the T4 airbase where Iran is active.

Israel Blamed For Missile Strike On Syrian Airfield

Syria and its ally Russia have accused Israel of staging an overnight air strike on a Syrian military air base, as tension rises amid international outrage over a suspected chemical attack that lef…

Syria Reports Missile Strike On Homs Airfield; U.S. Says Not Conducting Attack

Syrian state media are reporting that “missiles” have struck a military airfield in the center of the country, killing and wounding several people, although U.S. forces say they are not conduct…

Syria strikes spotlight Israel’s nightmare: an entrenched Iran

Yossi Mekelberg, head of international relations at London’s Regent’s University, says that the Israeli government fears “the Iranians are getting too close.”

Israeli Leader Warns Iran, Days After Air Strike On Syrian Base

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran not to test Israel and compared Tehran to Nazi Germany on the day Israel commemorates the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran not to test Israel and compared Tehran to Nazi Germany on the day Israel commemorates the murder of 6 million Jews during the Holocaust. “I have a message to the Iranian rulers: Do not test the determination of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu said on April 11 at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem. “These are not empty words. “During the Holocaust, we were helpless, defenseless, and voiceless. In truth, our voice was not heard at all. Today, we have a strong country, a strong army, and our voice is heard among the nations,” Netanyahu said. The Israeli leader’s speech came two days after an air strike on a Syrian military base that Syria and Iran blamed on Israel. The strike killed at least 14 pro-government fighters, including seven Iranian soldiers.

Israel’s Syria Strikes Revealed Its Red Lines | The National Interest Blog

The strikes in Syria demonstrate to Iran, Assad, Hezbollah and any other anti-Israel party that Israel has red lines it will enforce.

Iran Threatens Israel: Syria Strike ‘Will Not Go Unanswered’

A senior Iranian official threatened Israel with retribution, warning its airstrike on a Syrian air base that killed seven Iranians “will not go unanswered.”

Israel has misjudged Russia in Syria. The consequences could be grave | Peter Beaumont | Opinion | The Guardian

Netanyahu built his career on promising to be a bulwark against Iran, but instead his failures are contributing to a regional escalation, writes Guardian reporter Peter Beaumont

Iran Vows to Halt Currency Slump as Rial Weakens to Record – Bloomberg

Iran’s government said it will step up efforts to steady the currency after it weakened to a record, a slide that has rattled businesses and prompted some dealers to stop selling dollars and euros.

Iran Tries To Unify Exchange Rates To Halt Currency Decline

Iranian authorities have vowed to enforce a single exchange rate to the U.S. dollar in a bid to stop a slide that has seen Iran’s rial currency fall by more than one-third in seven months.

Iran-Israel Conflict Escalates in Shadow of Syrian Civil War – The New York Times

Airstrikes on a Syrian military base killed four Iranian advisers, part of the Iranian military presence in Syria that Israel is trying to block.

The Latest: Turkey calls on US, Russia to heal Syria wounds – seattlepi.com

Executions Down Globally In 2017, But Remain High In Iran, Pakistan

Executions and death sentences continued to drop globally in 2017 after hitting record-high levels in previous years, with Iran and Pakistan remaining among the world’s top five executioners, Amnesty International said on April 12.

Russian Military Police Deployed To Syria’s Douma

Syrian rebel fighters and their families continued to leave the Syrian town of Douma on April 12 through the Al-Wafideen crossing point, as Russian military police units prepared to enter the town. A withdrawal agreement was reached with the rebel group Jaish al-Islam hours after a suspected chemical weapons attack on the town. The Syrian and Russian governments deny such an attack took place. (Reuters)

Air Service To Resume Between Russia, Egypt After Two-Year Suspension

Russia and Egypt are slated to resume direct flights on April 11 after a more than two-year suspension prompted by the bombing of a Russian charter plane over the Sinai Peninsula in 2015.

UAWire – Pakistan intends to purchase Russian T-90 tanks

The Defense Minister of Pakistan, Khurram Dastgir Khan, stated that Pakistani authorities are interested in conducting a long-term purchase …

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

US reportedly confirmed Kim Jong Un is willing to discuss denuclearisation | Business Insider

 

U.S. official: Kim Jong Un ready to discuss nukes – POLITICO

North Korea’s government has not said anything publicly at all about a meeting with Trump.

Secret, direct talks underway between US and North Korea – CNNPolitics

The United States and North Korea have been holding secret, direct talks to prepare for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, a sign that planning for the highly anticipated meeting is progressing, several administration officials familiar with the discussions tell CNN.

Beware! North Korean invasion under way

An attack by North Korea is under way but not in the way we have feared most. Instead of employing guns and rockets, this one involves an elaborate set of public relations (PR) moves, which, when lumped together, proves a major charm offensive that can disarm the South and corner other stakeholder countries. And its effects can be as devastating as conventional war. The spearhead of this charm offensive was revealed after South Korean musicians performed in Pyongyang, Monday. The North’s leader Kim Jong-un made a surprise visit.

Syria, North Korea, ‘Mean Girls’: Your Monday Briefing – The New York Times

Here’s what you need to know to start your day.

In North Korea, balloons may still be more effective than drones

Balloon propaganda between the Koreas dates back to the Korean War. Drones may not be an improvement.

Mr. and Mrs. Kim Go to Beijing | Center for Strategic and International Studies

On March 25-28, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un traveled with his wife Ri Sol-ju to Beijing to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping.

China Hasn’t Been Trading Much With NK | The Daily Caller

Bilateral trade between China and N. Korea dropped significantly in the first 2 months of this year, putting increased pressure on cash-strapped North Korea.

15 Big Ideas to Operationalize America’s Indo-Pacific Strategy

The Trump administration has offered a strong vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific, but without a bold set of policy and budget initiatives to make it real, it risks becoming yet another empty concept. The first year of the administration saw a reaffirmation of Bush and Obama-era policies that the Indo-Pacific region should continue to become a central priority for U.S. national security planning. This pattern began early in 2017, with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis’ trip to the region, and continued into the summer and fall with then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s CSIS speech, the president’s own trip to the region, and the release of the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy. But despite the administration closing out the year by talking routinely about an Indo-Pacific strategy, beyond major changes to trade policy and the reemergence of the “quad,” there have been few details to explain just how that new strategy will be operationalized. When President Barack Obama announced his intention to “rebalance” U.S. time, energy, and resources Asia in 2012, the stranglehold of sequestration and a series of other factors prevented real material resources from ever following the lofty rhetoric. The result was a strategy that was long on promises and hollow on resourcing, leaving many in the region to question the intent and commitment of the U.S. government. With new leadership incoming at the National Security Council and State Department, a budget deal in place, and another budget planning cycle just around the corner, the time is ripe for an interagency planning process to consider a range of ideas for jump-starting the administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

China’s alignment with Russia is a fait accompli – Modern Diplomacy

If we take the term of alliance defined by Stephen Walt, it is clear that Beijing and Moscow perceive the United States and its allies as “the significant external threat that is increasingly impairing their individual and common core interests as well.”

Only Asia can save Russia and the West from themselves | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post

The long-held strategy of sitting on the sidelines as Washington, Nato and Moscow clash is growing stale for Beijing, New Delhi, Tokyo and other Asian power centres

The Global Dimension of China’s Influence Operations – To Inform is to Influence

realcleardefense.com · by Bates Gill & Benjamin Schreer April 11, 2018 The current debate in Australia about China’s influence operations is critically important to protect our interests and way of life. However, we need to avoid an overwhelmingly Australia-centric focus in seeking to understand the global nature of China’s ‘sharp power’. This will enable a better grasp of…

China Stages Its Biggest Parade of Navy Vessels and Aircraft – WSJ

China staged a show of force in the disputed South China Sea, with President Xi Jinping presiding over the country’s biggest ever parade of naval ships, submarines and aircraft.

Beijing Will Launch ‘Short, Sharp War’ To Take Senkaku Islands from Japan, Report Says | China-Japan relations | Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands | The Epoch Times

 

This Pentagon Paper Explains Why the Trump Administration Is Reining In Tech Trade with China – Defense One

The newly released paper describes how technological progress fits into China’s long-term strategic plans.

New Target for China’s Censors: Content Driven by Artificial Intelligence – WSJ

A new battle over censorship is playing out in China, one that underscores the differences in how the world’s two largest economies are dealing with advances in technology that are upending the news business and social media.

Asia’s Hottest Stock, AviChina, Is a Bet on China’s Military Rise – Bloomberg

 

China’s First ‘Homemade’ Aircraft Carrier Could Start Sea Trials Next Month | The National Interest Blog

Should the U.S. Navy be worried?

Noshir Gowadia father of Chinese stealth technology – Defence Aviation

 

China’s Strengths in a Trade War Are Also Its Weaknesses – Bloomberg

The nation has had a precious run of political unity, relative peace and economic expansion. Why risk that?

Expose — and Hinder — China’s Actions in the South China Sea – Defense One

The U.S. needs to systematically collect and publicize data on China’s efforts to expand and consolidate its control in the area.

China wary as Japan unveils first marine unit since World War II – The New Indian Express

Relations between Beijing and Tokyo have been strained since the end of the Second World War, stemming from Japan’s wartime occupation of mainland China.

Japan activates first marines since WW2 to bolster defenses against China

Japan on Saturday activated its first marine unit since World War Two trained to counter invaders occupying Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea that Tokyo fears are vulnerable to attack by China.

A Constructive Year for Chinese Base Building | Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative

Published: December 14, 2017 International attention has shifted away from the slow-moving crisis in the South China Sea over the course of 2017, but the situation on the water has not remained static. While pursuing diplomatic outreach toward its Southeast Asian neighbors, Beijing continued substantial construction activities on its dual-use outposts in the Spratly and Paracel Islands. China completed the dredging and landfilling operations to create its seven new islands in the Spratlys by early 2016, and seems to have halted such operations to expand islets in the Paracels by mid-2017. But Beijing remains committed to advancing the next phase of its build-up—construction of the infrastructure necessary for fully-functioning air and naval bases on the larger outposts. AMTI has identified all the permanent facilities on which China completed or began work since the start of the year. These include buildings ranging from underground storage areas and administrative buildings to large radar and sensor arrays. These facilities account for about 72 acres, or 290,000 square meters, of new real estate at Fiery Cross, Subi, and Mischief Reefs in the Spratlys, and North, Tree, and Triton Islands in the Paracels. This does not include temporary structures like storage containers or cement plants, or work other than construction, such as the spreading of soil and planting of grass at the new outposts.

China eyes Vanuatu military base in plan with global ramifications

Fairfax Media can reveal Beijing’s plan could culminate in a full military base on Australia’s doorstep.

Australia Affirms Vanuatu Ties Amid Report of Chinese Base – Bloomberg

 

Explainer: Possible Chinese military base in South Pacific fills gap, sends strong message to U.S. and allies

The islands of Vanuatu may appear as relative specks in the South Pacific Ocean, but for China’s military strategists, they could provide a significant boost in Beijing’s ability to project naval power.

Australian PM dismisses reports of Chinese military base talks with Vanuatu – CNN

China’s growing influence in the South Pacific is arousing concerns following reports Beijing has approached Vanuatu with the aim of building a permanent military installation, in a move that could see Chinese warships less than 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) from Australia’s coast.

A ‘clever’ Australia needs a larger, more potent navy | The Strategist

Foreign Policy Reports

Poroshenko intends to deprive Russia of veto right in UN – 112.international

Poroshenko intends to deprive Russia of veto right in UN

Poroshenko calls for stripping Russia of veto right in UNSC | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declares the need for reforming the United Nations and depriving Russia of its veto right in the Security Council. On Tuesday, Russia vetoed a U.S.-drafted UN Security Council resolution that would have set up a new inquiry to ascertain blame for chemical weapons attacks in Syria.Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declares the need for reforming the United Nations and depriving Russia of its veto right in the Security Council. “The UN requires immediate reform: to deprive the aggressor state of its veto right. And another question is that we need to increase the effectiveness of security of other alliances, including NATO, including further opening the door to Ukraine into this security alliance,” the president said in an interview with Ukrainian TV channels.

The Threat Within NATO – Defense One

An alliance built on democratic ideals is seeing the rise of strongmen in its midst.

‘Dramatic Change’ As Democracy Undermined Across Europe, Eurasia, Freedom House Finds

Contempt shown by governments for independent institutions and civil society, attacks on the political opposition and independent media, as well as an incessant push to blend the ruling party with the state, are becoming the new normal in postcommunist Europe and Eurasia, U.S.-based democracy monitor Freedom House warns in its latest report.

Why Expelling Russian Diplomats Isn’t Enough – To Inform is to Influence

5 things we must do now to stop Putin, according to Jakub Janda: Every Western parliament should start an investigative committee to map hostile foreign influence activities within its borders     Nord Stream 2 enables pure Russian political blackmail and must be stopped Influence linkages in the lobbying for Nord Stream 2 must be…

European Union intends to preserve gas transit via Ukraine – 07.04.2018 12:36 — Ukrinform News

The energy cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union is at its height, and the EU fully supports the Ukrainian government's stance on the gas market and the electricity market reforms and ensuring the transparent and independent activity of regulators.

Ukrainian Lawmakers Urge World to Reject Russo-German Nord Stream Two Gas Pipeline – Jamestown

The Ukrainian legislature, on April 5, appealed to the international community to stop the construction of the Nord Stream Two natural gas pipeline, which is to carry Russian gas to Germany, bypassing Ukraine. The lawmakers said that the European Commission (EC) should consult with Ukraine on the matter, in line with the European Union–Ukraine association and free trade deal and the European Energy Community treaty. Ukrainian deputies also urged the West to expand the sanctions imposed on Moscow for its armed aggression against Ukraine to additionally cover Gazprom and affiliated persons, and to take regulatory and infrastructural measures to cut the influence of Russian firms on international markets. Nord Stream Two would lead to establishing a Russian monopoly on the European gas market and eventually destabilize Europe, the lawmakers warned (UNIAN, April 5). Kyiv’s concern was partially addressed last week (April 6) by the United States, which added Gazprom chief Alexei Miller to its list of sanctioned Russian officials, in line with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). Also, in mid-March, 39 US senators called on the Department of Treasury and the Department of State to apply sanctions on Nord Stream Two (Naftogaz.com, March 20). But Ukraine clearly wants the West to toughen its response to Gazprom in particular.

Is Germany Souring on Russia’s Nord Stream? – Foreign Policy

Merkel now talks of protecting Ukraine’s interests as Russia’s $12 billion gas pipeline seeks to bypass Kiev.

Merkel: New Pipeline Impossible Without Clarity For Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that a new natural-gas pipeline linking Russia with Germany cannot go ahead without clarity on Ukraine’s role as a gas transit route.

Denmark to greenlight Nord Stream 2 if gas transit through Ukraine is guaranteed – 13.04.2018 12:28 — Ukrinform News

Denmark has decided to link the permit for the construction of Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia's guarantees for the continuation of gas transit to Europe via Ukraine.

Finland grants all required permits for Nord Stream 2 construction | UNIAN

The Regional State Administrative Agency for Southern Finland has granted a second permit for construction of the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipelines between Russia and Germany within the Finnish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Finnish government issued the first permit for the use of the Finish EEZ last week.

It is necessary to keep gas transit through Ukraine, – Merkel on Nord Stream 2 – 112.international

The German side took into consideration the position of Ukraine towards the construction of ‘Nord Stream 2’ gas pipeline and thinks that it is necessary to keep gas transit through Ukraine. Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany claimed this at the joint briefing with Petro Poroshenko as 112 Ukraine broadcasted. ‘We have already discussed this topic, we took into consideration the opinion of Ukraine’s President on this issue. We also talked to the President of Russia and expressed the embarrassment of Ukraine. But, of course, the issue is about that the part of the gas will be transited through the Ukrainian territory, in other words, transit through Ukraine remains to be important. Of course, the political component of this issue must be taken into account’, Merkel noted.

Poroshenko: Nord Stream 2 “political bribe” for Germany’s loyalty to Russia | UNIAN

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko warned Germany against the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and called the project “a political bribe for loyalty to Russia.” The Ukrainian leader called Moscow “an extremely unreliable partner” and said that the implementation of the Nord Stream 2 project would lead to an economic and energy blockade of Ukraine.

Poroshenko offers Germany alternative to Nord Stream II – 112.international

Germany could benefit much more from gas supplies through Ukraine than from building Nord Stream II, which is economically unsound. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said this in the interview with Handelsblatt newspaper, as quoted by DW. In particular, Poroshenko warned Germany against further construction of Nord Stream II pipeline, calling it ‘purely political project funded by Russia’. ‘Excuse my acridity, but Nord Stream II is a political bribe, given for the loyalty to Russia,’ he said.

UAWire – Ukraine calls Nord Stream 2 pipeline a military threat

Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andriy Parubiy stated that the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline poses a military threat to Ukraine and Europe. According to him, the launch of the gas pipeline shows “Moscow’s aggressive intentions to exert pressure on the European Union.” UNIAN news agency quotes him as saying that “The launch of Nord Stream 2 can also pose direct military threats that could trigger a new all-out attack of the Russian forces against Ukraine.” Parubiy explained that the transit pipelines that are in the territory of the country and through which gas is transported to Europe from Russia, are still a constraining factor for “the Russian aggression.”

UAWire – Ukrainian energy expert: only US can prevent construction of Nord Stream 2 pipleline

Ukraine’s call to the global community to not participate in the preparation, financing or lobbying of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline will not affect the situation in any way. This opinion was expressed in commentary by Valentin Zemlyansky, an independent energy issues expert and former head of the Public Relations Department of NJSC Naftogaz Ukraine, on the website InfoResist. “We [Ukraine] are not participants in the process. As such, we are not the subjects of geopolitical layouts. [Only] the United States can really intervene in this, and it actively intervenes. And we form a backdrop for this. That’s our treatment; [we are treated] as nothing more than a backdrop for Washington’s actions to counteract Nord Stream 2. Same as with Poland and the Baltic States,” he said. The expert pointed out that Ukraine’s argument is that Nord Stream 2 will increase the dependence of European countries on the supply of Russian gas. However, says Zemlyansky, this is not the case. “This is the same gas, the same volumes that are supplied on the Ukrainian route. It’s about changing the route, not about increasing the presence of Russian Gazprom in the European market,” Zemlyansky said. At the same time, he said, Europe does care how the gas will be delivered: “For Europe, this is a concrete business project, one. This is the political influence of Germany, two. And this is an opportunity for Ukraine, from the point of view of the gas transportation system management, to go ahead further with upgrades to the remaining pipes, so to speak.” The Verkhovna Rada earlier passed an appeal to the international community regarding the inadmissibility of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline and Russia’s monopoly in global gas markets.

Representative of European Commission supports Ukraine’s stance on Nord Stream 2 – 09.04.2018 12:16 — Ukrinform News

Dominique Ristori, the Director General of the Directorate-General for Energy within the European Commission, has expressed its support for Ukraine’s stance on construction of Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2. Mr. Ristori said this during a briefing upon the meeting with Energy and Coal Industry Minister of Ukraine Ihor Nasalyk, the Government portal reports. “Mr. Ristori has assured that he supports Ukraine’s stance on the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2, which bypasses Ukraine,” the statement reads. “We believe that Nord Stream 2 does not contribute to the diversification of sources and routes of gas supplies. EU will not support it financially,” Ristori said. During the meeting with the Ukrainian minister, the European Commission representatives also discussed the progress of reforming of the energy sector, the adoption of the annual working plan for 2018, the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding of 2016, the issues of energy efficiency, climate protection and development of the renewable energy.

Poroshenko calls on European partners to modernize transit pipeline via Ukraine instead of participating in Nord Stream 2 – 09.04.2018 14:45 — Ukrinform News

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko invites European partners to manage the Ukrainian transit gas pipeline by joint efforts, noting that Nord Stream 2 is an economically unjustified project and is just a bribe for loyalty. The Head of the Ukrainian State said this in an interview with the Handelsblatt on the eve of his visit to Germany. “There is a Ukrainian transit pipeline. It is much cheaper. It can be easily modernized and it won’t be expensive. It is capable of transiting up to 100 billion cubic meters of raw materials annually. In 2017, it was about 94-97 billion, which corresponded to an increase in transit volumes by 15%. It can be easily modernized. We would be glad to involve our European partners in managing the gas company,” the President said. He once again expressed the opinion that German politicians and German companies should carefully re-examine the attitude towards the Nord Stream 2, which “is a purely political project financed by Russia.” “Excuse me for harsh words, but Nord Stream 2 is a political bribe in exchange for loyalty to the Russian Federation, which aims to impose the economic and energy blockade on Ukraine, thus causing significant damage to my country,” Petro Poroshenko emphasized. When asked to comment on the statement of certain companies that gas transit would be cheaper due to Nord Stream 2, Poroshenko stressed that the transit route via Ukraine could be built without significant investment “instead of spending EUR 10 billion on Nord Stream 2.” Ukraine is the reliable partner, the Head of State assured. “When Russia suspended gas deliveries in early March and no longer supplies gas in spite of the made advanced payments, I, as the President, called on my people to consume less gas in order not to harm the gas transit to Europe and not to cause criticism. We adhere to our commitments. We are the absolutely reliable partner. Meanwhile, the Nord Stream 2 is a purely politically motivated project,” Poroshenko said.

President of Ukraine, PM of Lithuania discuss ways to prevent Nord Stream 2 project implementation – 12.04.2018 15:34 — Ukrinform News

Ukraine and Lithuania have agreed to intensify efforts to ensure European energy security and confirmed the need to prevent the Nord Stream 2 project implementation.

Poroshenko on Russian aggression in Ukraine, Syria: World no longer accepts “we are not there” claim | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko during his Germany visit emphasized that Russia is involved in the chemical attack in Syria and continues its aggression against Ukraine in Donbas, at the same time constantly rejecting its wrongdoings. The Head of State underlined the importance of immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied Ukrainian territory and implementation of Minsk agreements, including support for the peacekeeping operation in Donbas.

The former head of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, had previously considered the possibility of traveling to Russia to escape the persecution – Puigdemont wanted to hide from persecution in Russia, – media – 112.international

The former head of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, had previously considered the possibility of traveling to Russia to escape the persecution

Russia’s Inroads In Africa : NPR

The U.N. recently allowed Russia to start selling weapons to the Central African Republic. It’s just one way Russia is trying to build up influence on the continent again, as the U.S. turns inward.

Shock of communism can be a spur for growth | Comment | The Times

Communism doesn’t work, and efforts to achieve it involve lies and terror. The evidence is so overwhelming that anyone who tries Corbynesque equivocations about one-party rule, the KGB’s slave labour camps and the planned economy deserves only scorn and ridicule.Yet the truth, at least from an econo

DOES THE WEST HAVE A VISION FOR THE WESTERN BALKANS? – To Inform is to Influence

Russia has a long history of destabilization, forcible regime changes, and strong arm influence techniques beyond their sphere of control, reaching into their sphere of influence.  </end editorial> MICHAEL CARPENTER AND MIECZYSŁAW P. BODUSZYŃSKI APRIL 13, 2018 COMMENTARY Large, burly men sat in the front rows of the parliament building in Banja Luka last December, their bulging…

World Biathlon Chief Resigns Amid Charges Of Taking Russian Bribes

Biathlon’s world governing body has said that its president is stepping down amid allegations that he and other union officials took some $300,000 in bribes to cover up doping by Russian athletes.

Twenty-two percent of U.S. millennials are not sure if they have heard of the Holocaust, study finds – Holocaust Remembrance Day – Holocaust Remembrance Day

While 6 million Jews are estimated killed in the Holocaust, 31 percent of all respondents and 41 percent of millennials, aged 18 to 34, believe that number is 2 million or less, according to the survey

Hungary’s war on democracy is a war on democracy everywhere | GulfNews.com

Is Hungary still a democracy? It was a question I posed to Nora Koves, an activist with the pro-democracy Eotvos Karoly Institute, in the Castro Bistro cafe in central Budapest. “I wouldn’t say that, no. Not, I think, any more. We are heading to a kind of dictatorship, but we are not there yet. We are somewhere between.” That was in the winter of 2016, a few months after the institute had discovered that it had been professionally bugged. A year-and-a-half later, on the eve of Hungary’s general election today, the situation has only deteriorated further. Hungary has been ruled by the authoritarian Fidesz and its leader Viktor Orban for eight years. Fidesz is a party that combines contempt for democracy with xenophobia and crude antisemitic tropes. George Soros has long been a demonic figure for the far-Right, playing the traditional caricatured role of sinister Jewish puppetmaster. In Hungary, Soros adorns pro-government billboards, accused by Orban of conspiring to overwhelm the country with immigrants and refugees. His regime is cracking down on foreign-funded NGOs — particularly those linked to Soros. BuzzFeed has just exposed how an undercover operation is seeking to undermine and neutralise Soros-linked NGOs. It’s not surprising: Soros-funded NGOS “must be pushed back with all available tools”, says Fidesz deputy chairman Szilard Nemeth, “and I think they must be swept out”. The use of state-sanctioned antisemitic tropes is profoundly disturbing in a country in which nearly a third hold “strong or moderate” antisemitic views, against a backdrop of 400,000 Hungarian Jews having been exterminated in the Holocaust.

Hungary election: Victorious Orban vows to stamp out refugee charities | World | The Times

Emboldened by a landslide election victory in Hungary, Viktor Orban’s hardline anti-migrant party has said that it wants powers to shut down refugee charities backed by George Soros, the billionaire financier.The planned “Stop Soros” law is part of the prime minister’s crackdown on civil society, wh

PORTFOLIO.HU | Hungary’s slide into autocracy to continue after Orbán’s victory

Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party winning supermajority again in Hungary’s election forebodes further erosion of independent institutions, warned Phoenix Kalen, a London-based analyst at Societe Generale in a research note on Monday, but she also noted that the course has already been determined…

Viktor Orban victory in Hungary: German minister warns EU – BBC News

Voters back Hungarian right-winger Viktor Orban, who wants to keep Muslim migrants out.

Orban Wins Sweeping Majority, and Control of Hungary’s Constitution – The New York Times

Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has set about transforming Hungary from a vibrant democracy into a semi-autocratic state, appeared to have won two-thirds of the seats in Parliament.

Hungary’s Viktor Orbán Sweeps To Re-Election, Securing Populist Party Majority : The Two-Way : NPR

Orbán, 54, handily secured his third consecutive term on an anti-migration platform in an election with a record-high turnout. His right-wing Fidesz party is poised to regain majority in parliament.

Hungarian PM could target Soros organizations right after election win

Prime Minister Viktor Orban could use his sweeping new political mandate to extend Hungary’s crackdown on civil organizations that have been critical of his anti-immigration policies.

Hungary’s Fidesz signals swift NGO crackdown after Orban election win

Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party signaled on Monday it could push on quickly with legislation to crack down on organizations promoting migrant rights as soon as parliament reconvenes after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s sweeping election victory.

Hungary’s Strange And Vicious Election Brings Fears For The Future

As Viktor Orbán looks set for a third consecutive term in power, there is widespread concern about hateful rhetoric and threats to rule of law.

Viktor Orban poised to win Hungary poll after anti-EU campaign | World | The Times

Hungary is preparing to elect Viktor Orban tomorrow for his fourth term as prime minister after a poll campaign characterised by his anti-Brussels rhetoric, xenophobia and a demonisation of George Soros, the billionaire financier.Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland’s governing party, flew to

Viktor Orbán: Only Fidesz can protect Hungary from Brussels, the UN, and George Soros – The Budapest Beacon

“They want to take our country away. Opposition parties in the service of foreign interests want to come to power. They want to give power to opposition politicians in the pay of foreigners so that they can demolish the fence and accept from the hand of Brussels the compulsory settlement quota, and in this way turn Hungary into a country of immigrants in order to serve the financial and power interests of their clients.” “Tell everyone that they want to settle the first ten thousand migrants in Hungary yet this year. Tell everyone that they have made a pact with everyone from (DK chairman Ferenc) Gyurcsány to (Jobbik chairman Gábor) Vona. Tell everyone that immigration is the blight that slowly but surely devours our homeland. Tell everyone that we have to support migrants. If the settlement (of migrants) takes place, in vain will there be economic growth, there will be nothing with which to support families or to pay pensions. Tell everyone that mass migration threatens the everyday security to which we are accustomed. With mass migration comes a greater threat of terror. It is as clear as day that where there is mass migration, women are threatened with violent attacks.” – Viktor Orbán in his final speech of the campaign, April 6th, 2018 The following is a rough English translation of the campaign speech delivered by Fidesz chairman Viktor Orbán in Székesfehérvâr on Friday, April 6th. You can watch the speech in the original Hungarian here: Ladies and Gentlemen, people of Székesfehérvár!

How Europe’s taxpayers will bankroll Viktor Orban’s friends and family

A lakeside development shows how Hungary’s leader enriches those who stand behind him.

Godfather of European Populism Faces Judgment in Hungarian Vote – Bloomberg

Hungarians are deciding whether to give Prime Minister Viktor Orban another four-year term in parliamentary elections, where he’s facing a resurgent opposition that’s hoping to unseat the poster child of Europe’s populist movement.

Hungarians expected to grant third term to nationalist PM Orban in election

Hungarians are set to reelect Viktor Orban, a hard-liner on immigration, for a third straight term in a Sunday election that could help solidify anti-migrant positions in Central European governments.

The Latest: High Turnout, Long Lines of Voters in Hungary | World News | US News

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The Latest on Hungary’s parliamentary election (all times local): 2:40 p.m. Figures from Hungary’s National Election Office show that voters are turning out in very high numbers for the country’s parliamentary election. Opposition leaders hope a large turnout improves their chances against Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is seeking his third consecutive term and fourth overall since 1998 in Sunday’s vote. Over 3.3 million voters had taken part by 1 p.m. (1100 GMT), for a turnout rate of 42.3 percent six hours before the end of voting. Long lines of voters waited to cast ballots at some Budapest polling stations. The opposition Socialist Party urged authorities to “at least distribute water” in districts where voters were waiting in line, sometimes for hours.

Hungary’s Strongman Has a Weak Spot – Foreign Policy

Viktor Orban may have won, but a narrow loss in the countryside suggests that corruption could one day be his undoing.

Strategy / History / Capability Publications

DoD official: US not part of AI arms race

Dr. Michael Griffin, the under secretary of defense for research and engineering, has expressed concern that Pentagon acquisition practices are causing the U.S. to fall behind in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.

New undersea drones are smaller, cheaper and can be refueled deep under water

The featured AUV technology included a new high-speed, micro-sized vehicle and a seafloor power system.

Here’s how air and ground robots working together will change infantry tactics

Robots in the air and on the ground will give dismounted troops a standoff capability they’ve never had at such a low level before, experts say.

Robots Replace Soldiers in First Breaching Exercise of its Kind | Military.com

The Robotic Complex Breach Concept shows how remote-controlled vehicles can perform tasks usually carried out by soldiers.

The US Army Is Developing Artillery That Has GPS Precision—Without GPS

The artillery rounds are designed to operate in GPS-denied environments.

Future plans emerge for Navy’s Triton surveillance drones

The Navy may not have full orbits of the MQ-4C Triton ISR platform until 2021.

DARPA official: To build trust in AI, machines must explain themselves

A DARPA official described the the inexplicable algorithms powering artificial intelligence as a strain on human-machine relationships.

How The Military Could Use A.I. To Solve Pilot Oxygen Problem | Defense content from Aviation Week

What if the U.S. military had a system installed on its strike fighters and trainers that could monitor the cockpit environment and pilots’ breathing patterns to predict a physiological event (PE) before it even occurs? Cobham’s new breathing sensor, recently re-named VigilOx, might one day be able to do just that, using sophisticated predictive algorithms and possibly even artificial intelligence (A.I.) technology. VigilOx, previously known as the Aircrew Mounted Physiological Sensing System, is a unique sensor suite that monitors a pilot’s inhalation and exhalation throughout flight. The pilot-worn sensor—which measures real-time breathing gas, cockpit environmental and pilot physiological data—recently flew three test flights on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 and T-45.

Lockheed Martin and Cobham Team to develop next generation jammer low band – Defence Blog

Lockheed Martin and Cobham are joining forces for the Next Generation Jammer Low Band (NGJ-LB) competition to replace the U.S. Navy’s ALQ-99 tactical jamming system currently on the E/A-18 Growler aircraft. “The Lockheed Martin and Cobham team will leverage expertise in both companies to offer the U.S. Navy a critically important system with increased capability and reduced risk,” said Joe Ottaviano, director of electronic warfare at Lockheed Martin. “Our team is confident we can meet the Navy’s need for improved jamming capabilities with a scalable, open architecture design that balances capabilities with size, weight and power constraints.” Both partners on the team bring critical capabilities and areas of expertise. Cobham developed and was the only production partner to the U.S. Navy for the ALQ-99 Low Band Transmitter/Antenna Group (LBT/AG) and has been supporting the LBT/AG program for more than 20 years. Lockheed Martin has been developing electronic warfare solutions for more than 40 years and has experience with various airborne and naval electronic warfare programs, including the Advanced Off-Board Electronic Warfare (AOEW) system and the multi-mission AN/ALQ-210 and AN/ALQ-217 Electronic Support Measures (ESM) systems for the U.S. Navy. These Lockheed Martin products provide situational awareness, threat warning and proven electronic warfare solutions to detect, track and deter incoming threats.

The Navy Wants More Ford-Class Aircraft Carriers. But We Don’t Even Know If They Work. | The National Interest Blog

A big mistake?

F-35 Completes Flight Trials, Now On To Final Test | Defense content from Aviation Week

 

France, Germany Agree Future Fighter Requirements

 

Russia’s Su-25 Is Moscow’s Very Own ‘A-10’ Style Tank Killer | The National Interest Blog

She might be old, but she can do the job.

Orbital ATK tests partially-3D printed warhead for hypersonic weapons

Orbital ATK tested a partially 3D printed warhead that it built in 60 days meant for hypersonic applications on a test range in Burnet, Texas, on March 29.

The Aviationist » The Historic Thanh Hóa Bridge Raid: A Historic Lesson in Adaptive Air Combat and The Cost of Getting It Wrong.

4 April, 1965. Above Thanh Hóa, (then) North Vietnam. It was like trying to hit a needle in a haystack, kill a fly with a sledgehammer, or whatever analogy you prefer for using brute force to apply surgical precision in the middle of a swirling ambush. By analogy and history, the attack on Dragon’s Jaw is a bizarre mismatch of weapons to mission. It is another hard lesson for U.S. air power in the ‘60’s. Several decades of evolving doctrine and aircraft development have led the U.S. Air Force in a different direction from how air wars will actually be fought in the future. Instead of long range strategic nuclear attack, tactical precision anti-insurgent strike is the emerging mission. The U.S. will continue to learn that hard lesson on this day. By any measure this is an impressive air armada: Sixty-six advanced supersonic fighters and strike aircraft from America’s “Century Series”. The main strike package is 46 Republic F-105 Thunderchiefs with massive bomb loads. The defensive escort is 21 North American F-100 Super Sabres holstering a covey of air-to-air missiles. The strike and escort fighters are supported by an enormous number of tanker, surveillance, rescue and reconnaissance planes. They all have one objective: to kill “The Dragon”. The Dragon is the Thanh Hóa Bridge, near the geographic center of North Vietnam. The North Vietnamese nicknamed the bridge “Hàm Rồng” or “Dragon’s Jaw” since its massive steel and concrete construction seem like a row of sturdy teeth set in the mouth of a deadly dragon. The Dragon itself is made up of one of the most sophisticated integrated air defense networks on earth modeled closely after the most sophisticated, the Soviet Union’s. Ironically, if this same task force had been attacking the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons their results would have almost certainly been better. That is the mission these aircraft were actually designed for. But the Dragon is a small, critical target, and an elusive one. Even though it’s not an all-out nuclear war with the Red Menace, the Dragon must be slayed in the ongoing proxy war that is Vietnam.

This NASA Video Tour of the Moon in 4K Is Simply Breathtaking

Images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter are not only helping planners with future human missions to the moon, but are also revealing new information about the moon's evolution and structure.

Here’s what a carpet-cleaning robot could do for a bombed out airfield

Long used for explosives detection and disposal, robots of all kinds are being brought into the Air Forces’s civil engineering arena.

IW/IO/Cyber Reports

The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News – To Inform is to Influence

Huge MIT study of fake news. </end editorial> Falsehoods almost always beat out the truth on Twitter, penetrating further, faster, and deeper into the social network than accurate information. ROBINSON MEYER MAR 8, 2018 “Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it,” Jonathan Swift once wrote. It was hyperbole three centuries ago. But it…

The spread of true and false news online | Science

Disinformation Review – How to make 500 victims of a suspected chemical attack disappear? – To Inform is to Influence

12 April 2018 *TRENDS OF THE WEEK* How to make 500 victims of a suspected chemical attack disappear? When you monitor and counter the constant flow of disinformation, even the wildest made-up stories hardly surprise you after time. But sometimes it really manages to get under your skin. How would you measure the level of cynicism…

Military Set for Cyber Attacks on Foreign Infrastructure – To Inform is to Influence

The very public disclosures of US cyber operations is as much a warning to China and Russia as anything else.  Everything LTG Nakasone brought up was common sense, such as performing reconnaissance on Russian and Chinese power infrastructure. The disclosures about Huawei were also intended to instill a wee bit of paranoia into Chinese minds,…

Russia Wants To Hack the Grid and We Need To Get Serious About Stopping Them

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI recently disclosed that Russia has infiltrated “critical infrastructure” like American power plants, water facilities and gas pipelines.

Hackers Can Stealthily Exfiltrate Data via Power Lines – To Inform is to Influence

I’m not going to say “I told you so”, but I told you so in 2001.  Anything beyond this, I may not share. It must suffice, I told the right people. </end editorial> By Eduard Kovacs on April 13, 2018 Researchers have created proof-of-concept (PoC) malware that can stealthily exfiltrate data from air-gapped computers using power lines.…

New cyber weapons are here and no one is prepared, experts say

The experts say government, military and industry are not prepared for current or future cyber threats and must do more to deter bad actors.

Report: Internet ‘noise’ can mask increasing dangers to federal networks

A complex mix of traffic and services on federal networks provides hackers with an increasing number of exploitable opportunities as the government migrates to the cloud, a Cisco report found.

The biggest Black Lives Matter page on Facebook is fake

For at least a year, the biggest page on Facebook purporting to be part of the Black Lives Matter movement was a scam with ties to a middle-aged white man in Australia.

Homeland Security says it can’t counter a popular spy tool. Really?

StingRays gather information from cellphones by sending out a signal that tricks them into connecting to it, but the Department of Homeland Security says it has no solution to countering the technology.

Department Of Homeland Security Compiling Database Of Journalists And ‘Media Influencers’ – To Inform is to Influence

I honestly believe the author is misinterpreting this situation. This is not part of an attack on the freedom of the press.  This appears to be a program designed to monitor developing issues, themes, and memes so that a proper media response can be formulated at the highest levels of the government.  This is actually a very…

Hackers leave Iran message from US: ‘Don’t mess with our elections’ | TheHill

Hackers attacked networks in various countries, including Iran, where they left a message warning against interference in U.S.

The trolls are not only Russian | afr.com

General cynicism is the biggest source of disinformation

How Every Campaign Will Have a Troll Farm of Its Own – To Inform is to Influence

I literally stumbled across my first political trolling operation in 2009.  I was touring a political ‘think tank’ and we walked through a room with rows of computers with people sitting in front. I stopped and asked one of the operators what they were doing. He simply said he cruises comment sections and puts in…

Russia-linked account pushed fake Hillary Clinton sex video

A pornographic video that falsely claimed to show Hillary Clinton engaged in a sex act has been traced back to an account that Reddit acknowledged on Tuesday is linked to Russia’ Internet Research Agency.

Disinfo News: Doing the Kremlin’s work: a fake Twitter troll pushes many opinions – To Inform is to Influence

Excellent article by StopFake.  </end editorial> April 07, 2018 By Polygraph On one day in late March, Twitter followers curious about Syria, Yemen and Libya could find a tweeter who calls himself “Ian56” tweeting about all those topics and more. “Ian56” also had things to say about U.S foreign policy, the Manchester bombing and the Islamic…

TED 2018: Ukrainian journalist fights fake news – To Inform is to Influence

By Jane WakefieldTechnology reporter, Vancouver 11 April 2018 A powerful talk about the need to do more to counter fake news has opened the TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) 2018 conference in Vancouver. Journalist Olga Yurkova described a false story in which the Ukrainian army had supposedly “crucified” a three-year-old child. The story, reported by…

Zuckerberg survived 5 hours of relentless questioning from Congress — here’s what you need to know | Business Insider

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before the US Senate in a gruelling five-hour session on Tuesday. Zuckerberg’s delivery was wooden, and stuck closely to company talking points – but didn’t make any major mistakes. Many of the senators were painfully tech illiterate, and the 33-year-old exec found himself explaining basic features of Facebook. His answers to some of the tougher questions were less satisfying, but he was never pushed as hard as he could have been.

Mark Zuckerberg’s Washington Mission: Stay Cool in a Very Hot Seat – WSJ

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faces lawmakers this week in what are likely to be contentious hearings about privacy that will be a broader test of how effectively he can guide his social-media giant.

Zuckerberg: Facebook In ‘Arms Race’ With Russia-Backed Groups

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told U.S. lawmakers that the company is fighting an “arms race” against Russia-sponsored groups trying to use the social network to manipulate elections and…

Zuckerberg: Facebook Was ‘Slow In Identifying Russian Information Operations’

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he regrets that “we were slow in identifying the Russian information operations” during the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign. Zuckerberg testified on April 10 at a joint hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary and the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation in Washington. He repeatedly referred to the Internet Research Agency — a St. Petersburg-based entity connected with the Kremlin — as running not only fake accounts on Facebook, but also the official accounts of “a number of Russian media organizations.” (Reuters)

Int’l rules of conduct needed to prevent situations like blocking of Russian media outlets’ Facebook accounts – Nikiforov – To Inform is to Influence

Let’s be clear about what Russia is trying to do and say here.  The Russian troll farm established fake Facebook identities, Facebook deleted them. The Russian troll farm bought Facebook ads during the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook deleted them. The same occurred on Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, and so on. Russia will claim the same…

Zuckerberg runs rings round the political class | Comment | The Times

Like Pinocchio, but a whole lot richer, Mark Zuckerberg is learning how to be a normal boy. For the next two days, the founder of Facebook will be testifying to US lawmakers on Capitol Hill. In preparation, according to reports, Zuck has been facing daily mock hearings deep in the impenetrable Cali

Zuckerberg: Facebook Should Have Spotted Russian Election Meddling Earlier

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will tell Congress in scheduled appearances this week that his company should have spotted Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election earlier, a transcr…

Zuckerberg refuses to curb data collection from Facebook users | News | The Times

Mark Zuckerberg dismissed calls yesterday to cut the amount of personal information that Facebook collects from its users.At a hearing on Capitol Hill the co-founder and chief executive of the social network declined requests to change Facebook’s default settings so that it did not automatically

Facebook To Start Disclosing Identity Of Political Advertisers

Facebook says it will start requiring political advertisements on its network to state who is paying for the message and it will verify the identity of the advertiser in a bid to curb outside inter…

Wylie: Data could have come from more than 87 million users – CNNPolitics

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie says the data the firm gathered from Facebook could have come from more than 87 million users and could be stored in Russia.

How the Facebook fallout could hurt intel agencies

Many government organizations have come to rely on social media aggregators for mission critical Open Source Intelligence. What happens if new legal restrictions are put in place?

How to stop haemorrhaging data on Facebook

If you’re concerned about privacy, but you’re not ready to #deletefacebook here’s what you can do, step by step, to minimise the amount of data you share.

The free-for-all with our data couldn’t go on | Comment | The Times

Can I tell you about something that can get those dodgy pictures off the internet for you at the same time as wiping the self-satisfied smile off Mark Zuckerberg’s face? That’s a slightly dishonest way of introducing the topic of a vast piece of EU legislation, but I thought that if I kicked off wit

What You Don’t Know About How Facebook Uses Your Data – The New York Times

A public scolding on Capitol Hill will do little to change how Facebook powers its $40.6 billion business: meticulously monitoring what you do online.

US Domestic Policy Reports

Donald Trump has apparently flipped on Vladimir Putin, but it’s not just about Syria – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Wasn’t Trump just talking up the possibility of a great relationship with Russia? For a President facing trouble at home, there’s never been a better time to stand up to Russian aggression, writes Philip Williams.

Trump Loses Russian Warrior Status As Cossacks Threaten to Burn His Effigy

The Irbus Cossacks of St. Petersburg named him an honorary member when Trump became president.

Trump’s new national security adviser knows how to talk with Russia – Klimkin | UNIAN

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has said U.S. new national security adviser John Bolton knows how to talk with Russia. Bolton understands that it is possible to talk with Russia only from a position of coordinated force.

Pompeo To Signal Tough Policy Toward Russia In Confirmation Hearing

CIA Director Mike Pompeo will say he intends to take a harder line toward Russia during his confirmation hearing to become U.S. President Donald Trump’s new secretary of state, according to excerpt…

Pompeo will say softer U.S. policy toward Russia is ‘now over’ – Bloomberg | UNIAN

President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, CIA director Mike Pompeo, will say at his confirmation hearing Thursday that a milder American policy toward Russia is “now over” and promise that the State Department will find its “swagger once again,” according to his prepared remarks. Pompeo’s remarks touch on the biggest foreign policy issues faced by the U.S., a reflection of how many daunting challenges the administration faces.

Nikki Haley on John Bolton: ‘I Know His Disdain For The UN; I Share It’

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley says she believes she will work well with incoming national security advisor John Bolton – himself a former ambassador to the U.N. – saying that she shares his “disdain for the U.N.”

Lindsey Graham Has a Decision to Make About Trump – Bloomberg

Trump scourge or Trump sycophant? If the Russia probe reaches a crisis stage, the South Carolina lawmaker will have to decide.

Draft law about sanctions against Russia submitted at U.S. Congress – 112.international

A bill called ‘Stand with the UK against Russian Violations Act’ appeared on the database of the documents of the U.S. Congress. The draft law aims to ‘impose sanctions on certain persons responsible for the March 12, 2018, attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and for other purposes’. Under the bill, the U.S. citizens cannot participate in financial deals connected to the Russian state debt. Among the entities that face sanctions are Sberbank, VTB Bank, Gazprombank, Bank of Moscow, Rosselkhozbank, Promsvyazbank, Vnesheconombank. U.S. Donald Trump is to enact the sanctions within 60 days after the document is passed.

Russia sanctions highlight need for United States to fight illicit finance | TheHill

To get cooperation from someone like Vladimir Putin, the United States must show raw power.

UAWire – Fortune of Russian oligarch Deripska shrinks by $2.5 billion after US puts him on sanctions list

On Friday, April 6, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed new sanctions against Russian businessmen, officials and managers of state …

The ‘collusion’ narrative is doing the Russians’ dirty work for them | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

James Kirchick is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of “The End of Europe: Dictators, Demagogues, and the Coming Dark Age.” He …

The Russia Investigations: On The Hunt For Duffel Bags Full Of Cash : NPR

Investigators for Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller go out to greet arriving Russian oligarchs while others now are under sanctions. And Mr. Zuckerberg comes to #ThisTown.

The NRA May Have More Russian Contributors Than It First Said : NPR

A lawyer for the National Rifle Association said the gun rights group had only one Russian contributor, but new documents suggest the number is higher.

Trump Calls Probe Of Campaign Ties With Russia ‘Attack On Our Country’

FBI agents have raided the office of U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, seizing records on various topics in a move that prompted an angry presidential response.

‘Person A’ In His Own Words: On The Record With Shadowy Operative In Russia Probe 

Before he was dubbed the elusive ‘Person A’ by U.S. prosecutors investigating Kremlin interference, a Russian-Ukrainian political operative and alleged spy spoke exclusively on the record to RFE/RL about Paul Manafort and more.

A Suspected Russian Spy, With Curious Ties to Washington – The Atlantic

A longtime Republican operative has been in contact with a suspected Russian intelligence agent for nearly two decades. What does it mean for Robert Mueller’s investigation?

Paul Manafort moves to suppress potentially explosive evidence against him in the Russia investigation | Business Insider

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a motion Friday to suppress key evidence the special counsel Robert Mueller obtained against him last May. Manafort’s lawyers argue that the evidence was obtained unlawfully and its seizure violated Manafort’s constitutional rights. One legal expert said it is highly unlikely Manafort’s motion will succeed, given an important exception, called “inevitable discovery,” to the rules governing searches and seizures. Friday’s motion comes after Mueller’s office threw a wrench last week into the two main pillars of Manafort’s defence strategy.

NRA, In New Document, Acknowledges More Than 20 Russian-Linked Contributors : NPR

The National Rifle Association now tells Congress it received a small amount of money from fewer than two dozen Russians or people in Russia since 2015.

Here Are All the Fighting Submarines of the U.S. Navy

The infographic includes attack submarines, guided missile submarines, and ballistic missile subs…all nuclear powered.

 

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