Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine Ad Hoc Media Update (46)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russians conducting a classic full-scale high tempo Soviet-style propaganda and deception campaign, mostly it appears modeled on the 2014 campaign. Concurrently deploying another S-400 Triumf battery to Crimea and redeploying Bal / Kharpunski batteries across Crimea to the Kerch Strait. Much effort is put into talking up the previously mooted G-20 meet with POTUS and making a lot of condescending comments that are unlikely to sell well in DC. It appears the Russian campaign is having some success in Western European political circles (fear of losing Russian money is evidently a paralyzing force), and possibly some effect in gullible parts of the Ukrainian public – otherwise it is being greeted with skepticism and disdain.

POTUS states his concerns about Russian behavior, SECDEF Mattis makes some apt observations.

Some excellent analysis by Blank, Hoffmann, and Lucas, and multiple editorials arguing the West should take a hard line with Russia. Increasingly commentators and analysts are arguing for lethal military aid supply to Ukraine. Clearly, the futility of non-persistent measures and messaging is becoming obvious, and lethal military aid is unambiguous and persistent messaging. Solovey argues that an increasing number of Russian analysts are seeing the regime collapsing, possibly within a small number of years – this is not surprising, as the regime goes broke and its internal social mechanisms decay, it will pursue ever riskier and more dangerous foreign and domestic policies to distract the population and divert its anger. Pastukhov argues that a lack of backbone in the West will drive Ukraine to build nuclear weapons – many in Ukraine have advocated this since 2014. This of course again makes a good case for a massive deluge of lethal military aid to Ukraine to make that risk vanish.

The Russians are continuing with the show trials and media circus in Crimea, to aggravate the detested Ukrops, thumb their noses at the West, and produce Krymnash feelgood inside Russia.

Poroshenko argues in the German media that NATO should consider deploying a naval flotilla into the Black and Azov Seas to safeguard navigation, and spells out some ground truths on Russian deceit. Adm Voronchenko argues the case for NATO retaliation by closing the Bosporus Strait to Russian shipping and naval traffic – this would cost Russia immensely as it relies heavily on Novorossiysk for commercial and especially military logistical traffic to Syria.

No major developments related to martial law in Ukraine, but lots of Russian propaganda.


Ukraine maritime crisis: Russia stands firm against Western pressure – The Washington Post

As Ukraine prepares for martial law, Russian officials move ahead with court proceedings against detained sailors.

Poroshenko Ignited Kerch Row to Bolster Image as Ukraine’s ‘Protector’ – Sputnik International

In the aftermath of the Kerch Strait incident Sunday, NATO has pledged unconditional support for Ukraine. Meanwhile Russian military intelligence released footage in which a detained Ukrainian naval officer admits to provocative actions in the waterway. A political analyst told Sputnik Tuesday Russia showed restraint in the row.

Putin comments on Russia’s attack near Kerch Strait, accuses Poroshenko of “provocation” | UNIAN

Russian President Vladimir Putin has broken silence as regards Russia’s attack on Ukrainian Navz boats near the Kerch Strait. He accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of organizing a “provocation.” Putin claims there was a “border incident, nothing more.” Russian President Vladimir Putin has broken silence as regards Russia’s attack on Ukrainian Navz boats near the Kerch Strait. He accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of organizing a “provocation.” “As for the incident in the Black Sea. This is certainly a provocation organized by the current government, I think, including the current president, on the eve of presidential elections in Ukraine in March next year. The current president is about fifth in [presidential] ratings, and there is a chance he won’t make it to the second round, so he needs to do something to aggravate the situation and create insurmountable obstacles for his competitors, first of all, from the opposition,” Putin said at the 10th annual VTB Capital “RUSSIA CALLING!” Investment Forum, according to an UNIAN correspondent in the Russian Federation. He claims there was a “border incident, nothing more.”

Russia Rebukes Trump, Says He Should Talk Through ‘Appropriate Channels,’ Not the Media

Kremlin foreign policy aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters that Putin and Trump will meet on December 1 in Argentina, disregarding the president’s suggestion that the meeting may be canceled.

Putin-Trump Talks Scheduled for 1 December, Set to Last About 2 Hours – Source – Sputnik International

BUENOS AIRES (Sputnik) – Talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina are scheduled for 1 December and expected to last more than two hours, a source in one of the delegations told Sputnik.

Washington confirms Putin-Trump tete-a-tete meeting at G20 – Kremlin — RT World News

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump will have a brief tete-a-tete conversation followed by an hour-long extended meeting at the G20 summit in Argentina, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Kremlin says Trump, Putin have agreed to meet at G-20 summit on Saturday – The Washington Post

The announcement comes after Trump cast the meeting into doubt over Ukraine crisis

Putin, Trump due to meet at G20 on December 1: Kremlin document | Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump are scheduled to meet for talks at 1430 GMT on Dec. 1 on the sidelines of the G20 in Argentina, a Kremlin document seen by Reuters on Thursday showed.

Trump and Putin will meet at G20 summit, says Russian official – CNNPolitics

US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet Saturday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina, Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov told the state news agency RIA Novosti.

Kremlin still planning on Trump-Putin meeting at G-20 | Fox News

The Kremlin said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is still planning to meet with President Trump on Saturday at the G-20 summit in Argentina, even after Trump said he may not meet with his Russian counterpart after Russia seized Ukrainian naval vessels on Sunday.

Kremlin says Putin-Trump meeting will explore ways out of deadlock

The Kremlin said on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump would look for ways to break out of a deadlock in relations when they meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina this month. The meeting was thrown into doubt on Tuesday. Trump said in an interview

Putin just spoke on G20 and revealed the MOST IMPORTANT thing he intends to do | World | News | Express.co.uk

VLADIMIR Putin has expressed his hopes for the G20 summit in Argentina which kicks off tomorrow.

Russian anti-ship missiles filmed moving towards Kerch after flare-up with Ukraine (VIDEO) — RT Russia

A large column of Russian military hardware, including anti-ship missile systems, has been spotted moving towards the Crimean city of Kerch, after Russian border guards faced off with Ukrainian ships violating Russia’s border.

Russia amassing Bal anti-ship missile systems in Crimea (Video) | UNIAN

Russia is amassing Bal anti-ship missile systems in Crimea. The occupiers were seen deploying military equipment in littoral areas of the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula.

Russia to enhance Crimean anti-aircraft warfare with fourth battery of S-400 – 112.international

S-400 Triumf missile system will be sent to the place of permanent location in Crimea after the shooting at the firing range in Astrakhan Oblast

Chinese State Media Advises Ukraine to Cooperate with Russia

China’s state-run media advises Ukraine to reach an understanding with Russia instead of hoping the West will ride to its rescue.

Doug Bandow | Ukraine Should Not Be a Member of NATO

Washington should stop adding to the Alliance new members who are security liabilities.

How Russian Propaganda Works WRT Ukraine Kerch Straits – To Inform is to Influence

The BBC just published an article which contains quite a few examples of Russian argumentative techniques, propaganda ploys, and disinformation. In “Ukraine-Russia sea clash staged, says Putin“, even the headline shows Putin shifting the blame to an alleged Ukraine planned and executed operation. “Blameshifting” appears to be Russia’s best weapon in the war of words over the naval incident between Ukraine and Russia near the Kerch Straits. Many, if not most, of what Russia blames Ukraine has, in fact, been done by Russia. Recently released signals intelligence intercepts shows that Russia, as a matter of fact, organized, planned, and executed this highly aggressive operation.

Wave Of Disinformation From The Azov Sea – Disinformation Review – To Inform is to Influence

Share Tweet Forward 29 November 2018 *TRENDS OF THE WEEK* Wave Of Disinformation From The Azov Sea The main wave of disinformation narratives this week is unsurprisingly connected to the attack on Ukrainian ships near the Azov Sea. But let’s not rush straight into the examples. Instead, let’s filter them using the approach created by Ben…

EU StratCom Task Force elaborates on wave of Russian disinformation around Kerch Strait incident | UNIAN

A new Disinformation review from the EU East StratCom Task Force notes that the main wave of disinformation narratives this week is connected to the attack on Ukrainian vessels near the Azov Sea. Russian propaganda largely relies on four tactics: to distort, distract, dismiss, and dismay.

Russia massively employing social networks to sow panic as Ukraine introduces martial law | UNIAN

Ukrainian users of social networks are being exposed to thousands of shared posts, initially launched by Russian trolls to destabilize the country, sow panic, discord, and public discontent against the background of the introduction of martial law. Messages are being disseminated via Facebook and chat messengers, spreading disinformation and calling on Ukrainians to rally against the authorities in defiance of the latest move to introduce the special regime. Ukrainian users of social networks are being exposed to thousands of shared posts, initially launched by Russian trolls to destabilize the country, sow panic, discord, and public discontent against the background of the introduction of martial law. Ukraine has long been a testing ground for various means of propaganda infowars, involving an extended use of social networks and other communication channels, and the latest wave of disinformation is another example of how effective such tools of influence can be when they exploit existing controversies, waging further splits in targeted societies, as was in the case of the U.S. presidential elections. A Ukrainian blogger Andriy Ganus noted that a message with outright false information about martial law aimed at confusing and angering Ukrainians is being shared at a rate of 12,000 reposts per hour, thus reaching out to millions of Ukrainians. The message, which is accompanied with a call for a “maximum repost,” claims that the original poster “recently contacted two military units and a lieutenant colonel said, quote, ‘martial law has no expiry date, Poroshenko has tricked everyone as there is nothing said in the Constitution about 30 days, so martial law can now be lifted only if there is no threat to Ukraine’s integrity, that is, Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk are returned. Also, the Constitution claims that martial law is enforced throughout the country so the statement about its introduction only in several regions is only dust in the face to that the people don’t set up a rebellion.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Telephone Bomb Threats Again Empty Facilities in Moscow; FSB Blames Ukraine

Paul Goble Staunton, November 28 – Early this morning, several thousand people were evacuated from 10 shopping centers and 12 large stores in Moscow after someone telephoned the authorities to say bombs had been planted in them. No bombs were found, but the FSB blamed this new outburst of “telephone terrorism” on the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. A source close to the Russian security service told the RBC news agency that the phone calls had come from Ukraine. The source said that a similar bomb threat had forced the evacuation of 407 pupils and 27 teachers and staff from a Moscow school as well (rbc.ru/society/28/11/2018/5bfe9ffa9a7947ca3ac69a92?from=main). A year ago, Russia faced a wave of such telephone calls and evacuations. In September and October 2017 alone, more than a million people were evacuated from almost 2500 buildings in 170 Russian cities and towns (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2017/10/13/74180-vremya-ryt-okopy and windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/10/telephone-terrorism-continuing-pushing.html). The Russian authorities did not report many of these in the central media; nor have they reported sporadic cases of telephone terrorism since that time. But it now may be the case that they will play up these events in an effort to stir up war hysteria and anti-Ukrainian feelings among Russians.

Trump threatens to cancel Putin meeting after Kerch Strait incident – YouTube

Fox Business Published on Nov 28, 2018 Heritage Foundation senior fellow Peter Brookes on how Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the Trump administration’s stance on Saudi Arabia and how President Trump is threatening to cancel his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Huckabee on Trump Threatening to Cancel Putin Meeting: ‘Toughness’ Is All Russian Leader Understands | Fox News Insider

Mike Huckabee said President Trump is “dead serious” with his threat to cancel an upcoming meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin amid fresh tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Trump expresses ‘deep concern’ over Russian seizure of Ukrainian ships

President Donald Trump has “deep concern” over Russia’s armed seizure of three Ukrainian ships, the White House said Wednesday as Trump decides whether to cancel planned talks with President Vladimir Putin. During a phone call between Trump and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Trump ‘didn’t like’ Russia’s capture of Ukrainian naval vessels

President Trump said Wednesday that he “didn’t like” Russia’s capture of three Ukraine naval vessels and called on European leaders to “get involved.”

Trump comments on Azov crisis escalation, 112.international – There was a question — was a warning given? – Trump on Azov crisis – 112.international

There was a question — was a warning given? – Trump on Azov crisis

Mattis: Actions in Ukraine Show Russia’s Word Cannot Be Trusted > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Article

Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov in contradiction to signed treaties and the Law of the Sea show that Russia cannot be counted on to keep its word, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said at the Pentagon.,

Mattis: Actions in Ukraine Show Russia’s Word Cannot Be Trusted – To Inform is to Influence

WASHINGTON — Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov in contradiction to signed treaties and the Law of the Sea show that Russia cannot be counted on to keep its word, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said at the Pentagon today. The secretary spoke to reporters while awaiting the arrival of…

Russia’s actions against Ukraine show it cannot be trusted, – US Defense Secretary Mattis

29.11.18 11:45 – Russia’s actions against Ukraine show it cannot be trusted, – US Defense Secretary Mattis Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov in contradiction to signed treaties and the Law of the Sea show that Russia cannot be counted on to keep its word. View news.

Naval Clash Raises the Stakes for Trump’s Meeting With Putin – The New York Times

Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships has complicated President Trump’s plan to meet with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia while the two are in Buenos Aires this week.

Trade Tensions With China, Putin Meeting To Dominate Trump’s G-20 Trip : NPR

President Trump heads to the international summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this week. The answers to a number of looming questions could determine whether the visit is a success.

Merkel to address Sea of Azov with Putin at G20 summit | UNIAN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the West was imposing sanctions on Russia to stand up for international law and added that she would address the Sea of Azov issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin at an upcoming G20 summit. The West sanctions Russia for the sake of international law, says Merkel.

Germany has no plans to deploy warships toward Crimean coast – Merkel’s spox | UNIAN

German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert reiterated Berlin’s position on the situation in the Kerch Strait, stating that the government wants to see “dialogue and caution on both sides.” Earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on the EU to take real steps to stop Russia’s “creeping annexation” of the Sea of Azov.

Stephen Blank | Russia’s Provocations in the Sea of Azov: What Should Be Done?

On November 25 Russian vessels blocked Ukrainian ones from entering the Sea of Azov, fired on Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea, rammed some of those ships, seized three Ukrainian ships, and wounded six in these exchanges. Russia also dispatched helicopters to the area to maintain surveillance and fire capability over any approaching Ukrainian vessels. By any standard, these are acts of war. We should remember that the United States went to war with Great Britain in 1812 because of such incidents. Second, Moscow’s claim to own Crimea, the Sea of Azov, and the Kerch Strait as inviolate Russian territory is wholly illegal. Russia’s claims rest on nothing more than force directed against supposedly weaker targets. We can be sure that it would not behave this way toward a NATO ally. These actions are also part of its intention to close the Black Sea to foreign shipping in defiance of international convention. They also mark a significant violation of the concept of Freedom of the Seas, a bedrock principle of the international order and US policy for two centuries. Lastly, these actions reflect Moscow’s ongoing efforts to use force and the threat thereof to force Ukraine into submission. Russia’s actions closely resemble China’s in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. In those cases, Beijing has unilaterally declared sovereignty over these territories, seized plots of land, built up artificial islands, heavily militarized them (as Russia has done in Crimea), and then refused to accept international juridical tribunals’ findings. Now Beijing is using its strengthened hand to coerce other Southeast Asian states into economic agreements on China’s terms in order to explore those areas for potential energy deposits. In the same way, Moscow seized Ukrainian energy platforms in the Black Sea immediately upon invading Crimea and is profiting from them while trying to suffocate the Ukrainian coastline. What should be done to counter Russia’s activities? Ukraine is the victim of Russian aggression and has been since February 2014, when Russia invaded Crimea. Before that invasion, both Russia and Ukraine regarded the waters of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait as internal waters, an anomalous but internationally accepted legal status. Russia’s claim today that it has total sovereignty over them is baseless and founded merely on force. Even though Ukraine is outgunned, it does have options. It can undertake operations to break the blockade, though they would likely be fruitless given the forces Moscow has sent there. Nevertheless, it cannot accept this attack on its sovereignty and integrity passively. Ukraine should give careful consideration to a special operation that might disrupt the bridge that Moscow built over the Kerch Strait that joins Crimea to Russia. But that’s not all. Ukraine should invite the United States and NATO to send a fleet of armed ships to visit Mariupol, the main city on the Sea of Azov coast and defy Russia to fire on or block NATO from exercising the right to visit Ukraine’s ports. Those ships should be armed and have air cover but be instructed not to fire unless fired upon. Many will object that such an action constitutes a provocation of Russia. Let’s be clear: Moscow not Kyiv, and certainly not Brussels or Washington, is the provocateur and has raised the stakes. Moscow may be willing to threaten Ukraine in the delusion that more force can give it some concept of victory in Ukraine. But it is in no condition to threaten NATO with such actions. Apart from its economic stagnation and the pressure of sanctions that will be increased due to this action, the Russian public does not want a protracted war against Ukraine. Neither Russia’s military nor its economy can bear those burdens without incurring serious costs that cannot and will not be hidden from ordinary Russians. Given the regime’s fear of an informed public and further economic unrest at home, such a NATO action calls Moscow’s bluff and will go a long way to restoring opportunities for a general reduction in violence. Bringing NATO directly into Ukrainian waters would demonstrate that Putin has not gained Russian lands but lost Ukraine for good and brought NATO into the bargain. It strikes at the political foundations of Putin’s power and belief in NATO’s irresolution without escalating a military challenge. It would also restore escalation control to Ukraine and its allies and drive a dagger into the heart of Russian strategy without resorting to war. It is time for the costs of Putin’s adventurism to be brought home graphically to him, his entourage, and the Russian people.

Daniel Hoffman | US, allies must check Putin’s latest move against Ukraine | TheHill

The US and its European allies might consider persona non grata against Russian officials, a NATO deployment, and provision of lethal maritime equipment and weapons to Ukraine.

With Azov escalation, Moscow tests West’s response – Edward Lucas | UNIAN

As Russia has once again pushed the line in Ukraine, Edward Lucas, a Senior Vice President at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), suggested what the West should have done in response. A NATO naval flotilla in the Black Sea could “pay a friendly visit to Mariupol,” Edward Lucas suggests, noting a weak response the West has provided to the latest incident near the Kerch Strait.

How the US must respond to Putin’s latest outrage

ensions have grown for months as both nations ramped up their military presence in the Sea of Azov. Now Putin is claiming Russian control of the whole thing — though Moscow has no ownership rights over the strait or the sea. No one, certainly not the United States, wants an all-out war with Russia. But Putin must be stopped, or at least made to pay a steep price until he returns the captive sailors and drops his Sea of Azov claims. Washington should stand staunchly behind Kiev, boosting lethal military assistance. The West as a whole needs to squeeze Putin with new, tougher sanctions — target the strongman and his inner circle. Heck, hit his outer circle, too. President Trump hoped for better relations with Moscow, but Putin clearly doesn’t want them. Trump’s only course now is to slam Putin until he changes course.

The Guardian view on Ukraine: a forgotten crisis flares up | Editorial | Opinion | The Guardian

Editorial: The Kerch strait clash is an ominous development. As Moscow seeks to extend its control, solidarity is needed in the west

European politicians call for new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine

A Russian minister said further sanctions would solve nothing and that the incident should not be used to derail the Minsk accord, which aims to end fighting in eastern Ukraine between Kiev’s forces and pro-Russian separatist rebels. Russian assets have come under pressure on financial markets

Why Putin Is Pressuring Ukraine | The National Interest

The United States needs to decide how much of a threat Moscow’s regional revision is to U.S. interests.

Russia vs. Ukraine War: This Is How West Would Respond to Russian Invasion

Would NATO or the U.S. step in to stop a conflict in Eastern Europe? Michal Baranowski, the director of the German Marshall Fund’s office in Warsaw, Poland, said it’s now up to the West to ensure that the situation de-escalates. “Russia’s latest actions should be seen as more of a test of the West than anything else—though the economic importance of the Azov Sea to Ukraine should not be discounted,” Baranowski told Newsweek. “The challenge for the international community—especially with strong support from the US—will be to make very clear that there is a price to be paid for this behavior by Russia. The U.S. and Europe should focus on tools such as targeted economic sanctions and increased support for Ukraine.” On Monday evening, the State Department released a statement condemning the “aggressive Russian action.” “We call on both parties to exercise restraint and abide by their international obligations and commitments. We urge Presidents Poroshenko and Putin to engage directly to resolve this situation,” the statement read. “The United States supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters, as well as the right of its vessels to traverse international waters.” Also on Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the incident in the Sea of Azov is a reminder that “there is a war going on in Ukraine” and Russia “has to understand that its actions have consequences.” Farkas, who helped oversee the Obama administration’s Russia policy, said Washington should be “leading the charge against an overt military open war against Ukraine.” “We’re the largest military power, the largest democracy, we have the most at stake in ensuring that international borders are sacrosanct,” Farkas said. “This is directly in the U.S. national security interest.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ever More Russian Analysts See Putin Regime Running Out of Time, Solovey Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 28 – Over the last eight to ten months, Valery Solovey says, most analysts in Russia have sharply reduced their assessment of just how long the Putin regime has to right itself. In the spring, most thought it had “from five to ten years;” now, “the very same people assess its safety margin at two to three years.” In a comment for the Nezygar telegram channel, the MGIMO professor and frequent commentator on Russian politics suggests that the reason for that has been the obvious declinein “the quality of rule” at all levels and “the growth in the number of administrative errors and stupidities” officials have committed (https://t.me/russica2/11727). That has been accompanied, Solovey continues, by a sharp decline in the popularity of the regime among the Russian populace and by a growing sense among in the analytic community that this is not only irreversible but also represents a serious danger because it deprives the regime of its chief support. At the same time, he says, officials and those in the economic and financial sector have begun to display if “not yet apocalyptic but extremely worrying expectations” that the existing system is “approaching its historical end.” Such feelings have become both widespread and obvious “for the first time,” the analyst says. “No one seriously believes in the possibility of changing these negative trends and saving the system,” although various efforts are being made to try to suggest that this is possible. But all of them bear the marks of “imitation,” cynicism, and even desperation, Solovey argues. And the behavior of those in positions of authority has only called attention to this by “the conscious and unconscious ignoring of any social conventions” and the willingness to say and do things that reflect the fears of those who do so that they have no way to win back the population and so must celebrate while they still can. If a capable opposition movement were to emerge, Solovey says, “the development of [these] negative trends will sharply accelerate.” Solovey is correctly describing a trend in the Russian commentariat. Whether he or they are in fact correct or whether there is in this case as there has been before a kind of group think that leads many or even most to go now in one direction and now in another is less certain; and consequently, one must beware of viewing this mirror of Russian reality as without distortion. But to the extent that so many are shifting their assessments in the direction the MGIMO professor points to, it is important to take note of that, however often the commentariat in Moscow has been wrong before.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Pushing Ukraine toward Becoming a Nuclear Power, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 28 – Despite Russian military actions, Ukraine has shown itself unprepared for total war, hoping against hope that the West will come to its rescue. But ever more open Russian aggression and ever greater recognition in Ukraine that the West isn’t going to may soon force Ukrainians to consider what they have to do on their own to avoid total defeat. At present, Vladimir Pastukhov, a UK-based Russian historian, says, “Russia [thus] supposes that it can allow itself to carry out practically any act of aggression without facing punishment except a really direct mass invasion of regular forces in Ukraine and the seizure of its main industrial centers” (mbk.news/sences/kogda-ukraina-vosstanovit-status-yadernoj-derzhavy/). Moscow believes that this situation will continue more or less forever, but, the historian says, “the Kremlin is playing with fire. The present weakness of Ukraine is conditional. At its basis is the paralysis of the political will of the nation and not the absence of real resources for resistance.” Specifically, he says, “the unreadiness to fight must not be confused with the inability to do so.” Ukraine has options. “It is sufficient to recall,” Pastukhov says, “that for three years, from 1991 to 1994, it was a nuclear power, possessing the third largest arsenal of nuclear weapons in the world, an arsenal left to it from the USSR.” That situation ended only in November 1994 when Ukraine ratified the non-proliferation accord and sent these weapons to Russia. “The idea of Ukraine’s exit from the non-proliferation treaty is not new,” the historian says. Former Ukrainian Leonid Kuchma who signed it proposed doing so in 2015. The reason for his position and the justification for considering this possibility is that Ukraine’s decision to hand over the weapons to the Russian Federation was the Budapest Memorandum. Under the terms of that agreement, Russia, the US and the UK agreed to be guarantors of Ukraine’s borders as they existed in 1994 and to defend Ukraine against economic blackmail. Under its terms, Boris Yeltsin’s Russia “exchanged its historic interest in Crimea for several thousand Ukrainian nuclear warheads.” And the UK and the US became guarantors. None of the three powers has behaved as that memorandum requires. Russia has seized Crimea, invaded the Donbass and used economic pressure to try to break Ukraine. Meanwhile, the US and the UK have failed to take any serious steps to force Ukraine to live up to its commitments. “Purely theoretically and despite its unenviable situation,” Pastukhov continues, “Ukraine has sufficient scientific and industrial potential for creating nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them, although this, of course, would require from it an enormous commitment of effort.” “On the territory of the country are the necessary supplies of uranium, there are reactors which permit processing it into plutonium, and there are enterprises capable of producing inter-continental rockets and heavy jets, although to deliver something from Kyiv to Moscow, no inter-continental rocket is needed,” the historian points out. “Thus,” Pastukhov says, “Ukraine if it devoted the necessary effort could create a situation when it would be capable of inflicting on Russia unacceptable harm.” That possibility is going to become an increasing subject of discussion as Ukrainians recognize that the West isn’t coming. Once they do, he says, “the situation could change in a significant way – and not at all in the direction Moscow assumes.” “But for this, three conditions must be met,” Pastukhov says. First, “the nation must experience the unbearable pain and shame of a catastrophic defeat,” the kind Moscow seems to want to inflict. Second, Ukrainians must “stop waiting for help from abroad.” That isn’t likely to come. And third, there must appear in Ukraine “a leader who is not going to compromise.” Russian actions like those in the Kerch Straits in the last few days “are pushing Ukraine precisely toward that ‘policy of despaire,’ the consequences of which are very difficult to predict. The absence of punishment for the aggressor may turn out to be an illusory dream,” the historian continues. By its actions, he concludes, Moscow may thus create a Ukraine it not only cannot defeat but cannot influence or control. Although Pastukhov does not address the following aspect of the situation in this essay, it is obvious: If the West wants to avoid a nuclear Ukraine, it must take action to effectively defend Ukraine. If the West doesn’t, it will not only have failed to fulfill its obligations under the Budapest memorandum; it will have played a role in creating something it doesn’t want either.

Russia Moves Fast to Deepen Kerch Crisis

Sunday’s clash marks stepping up of Kremlin campaign to destabilize Ukraine

Russia blocks Ukrainian Azov Sea ports: minister | Reuters

Two Ukrainian Azov Sea ports, Berdyansk and Mariupol, are effectively under blockade by Russia as vessels are being barred from leaving and entering, Ukraine’s infrastructure minister, Volodymyr Omelyan, said on Thursday.

Russian warship moves towards Sea of Azov, – Reuters – 112.international

The Russian warship has set off from the Black Sea towards the Sea of Azov on November 28 as Reuters reported. “On Wednesday, the Russian naval vessel “Vice-admiral Zakharian” has set off towards the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea,” the message said.

Russia threatens Ukrainian sailors with six years in prison | News | The Times

Martial law came into effect across swathes of Ukraine today after President Poroshenko warned that Russia was risking “full scale war” by seizing its neighbour’s naval ships and sailors.Mr Poroshenko signed an act introducing the state of emergency along Ukraine’s borders with Russia, Crimea, and

Russia To Put Captured Ukrainian Sailors On Trial As European Lawmakers Call For Sanctions – The Drive

There is no sign of de-escalation days after the conflict begun and both sides are surging forces toward the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov.

Russia Charges Captured Ukrainian Sailors

A court in Russian-controlled Crimea has charged all 24 captured Ukrainian sailors of illegally crossing Russia’s maritime border.

Captured Ukrainian sailors broadcast giving ‘confessions’ on Russian television

Ukrainian sailors were on Tuesday filmed giving what Kiev said were forced confessions and brought to court after Russia seized their ships off the coast of Crimea in a major escalation of tensions.

Crimean court places half the FSB’s captured Ukrainian sailors under arrest. They face up to six years in prison for ‘entering Russia’ illegally. — Meduza

On the first day in the trial against the 24 Ukrainian sailors captured after trying to pass through the Kerch Strait, a Russian court placed half the defendants under arrest until at least January 25. The men face up to six years in prison for allegedly crossing the Russian border illegally. The rest of the sailors (except for the three hospitalized wounded crewmen) are being held at a military compound in Kerch, though a Novaya Gazeta reporter says they’re at a temporary detention center.

Russia does not admit Ukraine’s representatives to wounded war prisoners in Kerch, – ombudswoman – 112.international

According to Denisova, she possess only unverified information on their current state of health

Russia refuses to hold meeting of Trilateral Contact Group on Azov crisis on Skype, – official – 112.international

It is the second refusal of Russia in a row to come to the negotiating table and answer the questions about aggression

Ukraine’s infrastructure minister: Ukrainian ports on Sea of Azov effectively under blockade by Russia | UNIAN

Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan says that the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdiansk on the Sea of Azov are effectively under blockade by the Russian Federation. A total of 35 vessels have been blocked.

Russia neglects immunity of Ukrainian navy vessels on high seas (Map) | UNIAN

Russia attacked and seized Ukrainian navy boats in the international waters of the Black Sea, outside the line of the state border of Ukraine at sea, which is temporarily beyond Ukraine’s control as a result of the occupation of Crimea, the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine says. According to Art. 95 of the Convention on the Law of the Sea, warships on the high seas have complete immunity from the jurisdiction of any State other than the flag State, the infrastructure ministry recalls.

President counts on the support of the Naval Forces of the NATO countries for the security of navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov — Official website of the President of Ukraine

In the interview to Bild, President Petro Poroshenko expressed hope that NATO nations would help ensure security of navigation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov after the aggressive Russian attack on Ukrainian sailors. “Germany is one of our closest allies, and we hope that NATO countries are willing to send ships to the Sea of Azov to help Ukraine. Putin wants to annex the Sea of Azov. The only language he understands is the unity of the western world. We simply cannot accept this aggressive policy, originally there was Crimea, then eastern Ukraine, now the Sea of Azov. Germany also has to ask itself: what will Putin want after if we do not stop him?” Petro Poroshenko noted. “The world needs to speak in one voice, and we must immediately impose additional sanctions in conditions of possible Russian aggression. Putin must immediately release our soldiers and simultaneously open the sea for the passage of international vessels,” the President stressed and noted that among the ships that cannot freely navigate were not only Ukrainian, but also German vessels.

Putin wants to annex another part of Ukraine and behaves as in 2014 – President in the interview to Bild — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President Petro Poroshenko warns the world against Russia’s aggressive policy and emphasizes that the Russian president behaves in the same way as in 2014. The Head of State told that in the interview to Bild. “We were supposed to react after this act of aggression, therefore I imposed martial law in some regions. Because we have to defend our country. It’s like in 2014: Putin wants to annex another part of Ukraine, he acts in the same way as then,” the President said. “Putin wants the return of the old Russian empire. In Crimea, in Donbas, he wants the whole country. As a Russian emperor, as he considers himself. His empire cannot function without Ukraine, he considers us a colony. He wanted this at the beginning of the conflict and he still wants this,” Petro Poroshenko noted. The President stressed that the Russian leader “hates the idea that Ukraine wants to become part of the EU and part of NATO”. “Thus, there is a new Russian aggression where we have signs that Putin may plan a new ground attack,” the President noted and demonstrated the satellite intelligence data provided by the international partners of Ukraine.

Don’t trust. Putin tells fairy tales to the world again – President in the interview to Bild — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko in the interview to Bild commented on the Russian statements that he allegedly wants to conduct a political campaign using the escalation of the situation in the Kerch Strait. The President said: “Do not believe a single lie of Putin. This is ridiculous! Do you remember how he told the world that there were no Russian soldiers in Crimea? Do you remember that there have never been Russian soldiers in east Ukraine? Or the poisoning of the former agent in Salisbury? Putin tells fairy tales to the world again”. The Head of State also spoke in detail about the attack of Russian ships on Ukrainian boats in the neutral waters of the Black Sea and the seizure of our sailors and ships. “We have all the evidence on the table, and everyone sees that Russian soldiers attacked our fleet,” Petro Poroshenko stressed. At the same time, he once again emphasized that the Ukrainian fleet adheres to international law.

NATO can support Ukraine by sending of a few vessels to Black Sea, – Poroshenko – 112.international

According to Poroshenko, the issue, which countries can provided such vessels can be discussed but it should be the NATO countries

Poroshenko Asks NATO To Send Ships To Azov Sea To Help Protect Ukraine

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is calling on NATO to send ships to the Sea of Azov to help protect Ukraine after Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crew off Crimea.

Poroshenko hopes NATO countries will send ships to Azov Sea – 29.11.2018 12:47 — Ukrinform News

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has expressed hope that NATO countries are ready to send their warships to the Sea of Azov in order to support Ukraine and guarantee security in the region.

Poroshenko calls on EU to take real steps to stop “creeping annexation” of Azov by Russia | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called on the European Union to take real steps to stop the “creeping annexation” of the Sea of Azov by the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian president says that the Kremlin’s active global disinformation campaign for making Ukraine responsible for the Kerch incident has failed.

Closing of Bosphorus Strait for Russian ships discussed at NATO HQ

The closing of the Bosphorus Strait for Russian ships could be an adequate response to Russia’s violation of international maritime law in the Sea of ​​Azov, Ukraine’s Naval Forces Commander Ihor Voronchenko has said. “The Montreux Convention clearly states: if a conflict occurs between two countries, and one of them is the aggressor, then the Bosphorus automatically closes for ships flying its flag,” said Voronchenko told the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency during the 2nd international conference on maritime security in in Kyiv on Thursday. The commander of the Naval Forces of the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine noted that the topic had already been raised previously in the fall at NATO headquarters. “In September, at NATO’s office in Naples, I asked the commander of the Turkish Navy: if there is Russian aggression against Ukraine, will you close the Bosphorus for the aggressor country. The commander replied: we will comply with the convention,” Voronchenko said. According to Turkish media, Turkish President Erdogan on Wednesday expressed willingness to act as a mediator to resolve the situation in the Azov-Black Sea basin in connection with Russia’s shelling and the seizure of Ukrainian warships. . Voronchenko earlier said Ukraine intends to ask for the closure of the Bosphorus Strait for passage by Russian ships in connection with the Russian aggression against the Ukrainian military vessels in the Kerch Strait area.

Ukraine to insist on closing Bosphorus to Russian ships – Navy commander – 29.11.2018 11:50 — Ukrinform News

Ukraine will insist on closing the Bosphorus Strait to Russian ships, Ukrainian Navy Commander Ihor Voronchenko has said.

Navy Commander Voronchenko: Ukraine to ask Turkey to close Bosphorus to Russian vessels

29.11.18 14:29 – Navy Commander Voronchenko: Ukraine to ask Turkey to close Bosphorus to Russian vessels Ukraine is going to ask to close the Bosphorus Strait to Russian ships in response to the Kerch Strait incident. View news.

Ukraine to ask for shut-down of Bosphorus Strait amid Russia’s aggression – Navy Commander | UNIAN

Ukraine Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko has said Ukraine will appeal to the international community regarding the closure of the Bosporus Strait in the wake of the recent attack on and seizure of Ukrainian naval boats and sailors by the Russian coast guards near the Kerch Strait. Voroncheko seeks to hear the international community recognize that Russia committed an act of aggression against the state of Ukraine.

‘Put Putin in his place’, Ukrainian ambassador tells Germany – media | UNIAN

Ukraine’s top diplomat in Germany urged Berlin and other Western states to punish Russia by extending sanctions, banning energy imports and putting the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline on hold after Moscow seized three Ukrainian ships near Crimea. The ambassador even raised the possibility of sending German marines to the region.

‘Put Putin in his place’, Ukrainian ambassador tells Germany | Reuters

Ukraine’s top diplomat in Germany urged Berlin and other Western states to punish Russia by extending sanctions, banning energy imports and putting the NordStream 2 gas pipeline on hold after Moscow seized three Ukrainian ships near Crimea.

Poroshenko explains timing of Russia’s attack on Ukrainian ships near Kerch Strait | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that an act of Russian aggression against Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait is aimed at depriving Ukraine of autocephaly and blocking international support. Poroshenko says Putin miscalculated the effect of the act of aggression. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that an act of Russian aggression against Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait is aimed at depriving Ukraine of autocephaly and blocking international support. “Why has Putin done this right now? Not to let [Ukraine] have the tomos [an official document on the Ukrainian-based church’s independence], to make the church think that if there’s martial law, then His Holiness will not give us anything. He’s miscalculated. We’ll be praying, and everything will be fine,” Poroshenko said, the news outlet espreso.tv reported. “And the second reason is to deprive us of international assistance. Supposedly, a country that is at war will not get financing. Yesterday I conducted intensive international consultations and stated it is not us who are at war. We are doing our duty to protect our native land. And we heard the answer: ‘Mr. President, we believe you,'” Poroshenko said.

British Ambassador: Ukraine facing threats to territorial integrity – 29.11.2018 14:22 — Ukrinform News

The UK condemns the Russian aggression in the Kerch Strait and will continue to assist Ukraine in the development of its Navy.

Ukraine to eventually get Russia-seized boats back, Navy Commander says | UNIAN

Ukraine Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko is positive that Ukraine will eventually return the naval boats attacked and seized by the Russian coast guards in neutral waters off the Crimea coast on Nov 25 after Russia illegally rejected their passage through the Kerch Strait. Asked whether he believes the move to redeploy the boats to the Azov Sea through the Kerch strait instead of transporting them by land was an erroneous decision, Voronchenko said: “No, I don’t.”

Radio communication between the Russian leadership and border guard ships

Radio interception, as an evidence of purposeful aggressive escalation of the situation

Russia: Ukraine’s Martial Law Could Lead to Hostilities

Ukraine has approved 30 days of martial law in 10 regions after Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Black Sea. The incident comes as Ukrainians prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

Ukraine leader warns of threat of full-scale confrontation with Russia – CNN

Ukraine’s President said late Tuesday he’s concerned about a possible full-scale confrontation with Russia following a maritime clash between the two countries over the weekend.

Ukraine Warns of ‘Full-Scale War’ As Russia Makes Sure Troops Ready Near Border

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said that the number of Russia forces at the border had “grown dramatically.”

Martial Law Is a Test. Will Ukraine’s Democracy Pass? – Foreign Policy

Ukraine’s parliament resisted President Petro Poroshenko’s call for an extended state of emergency—but the battle isn’t over yet.

In Standoff With Russia, What Does Ukraine’s Martial Law Decree Mean? – The New York Times

Here are some important questions, and answers, in the latest confrontation between Russia and Ukraine.

National Guard to be partially subordinated to Armed Forces – Defense Ministry – 28.11.2018 17:32 — Ukrinform News

Some units of Ukraine’s National Guard will be partially subordinated to the Armed Forces.

People should call police if people in camouflage came around to withdraw property – 112.international

People should appeal law enforcement agencies in case people in military uniform engaged in arbitrariness in Ukraine during martial law. Deputy Head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Rodion Tymoshenko claimed this during the briefing, reports 112 Ukraine. ‘Today, I have been asked a question, why do the representatives of the city administration in Mariupol and Berdyansk are in a camouflage suit in downtown. I gave a task to local chief enlistment officers to check the information, they reported that no one is in a suit. It means that someone is engaged in such work and giving people false information. If someone in the camouflage suit came to take away a cow or a car – remember, you always have police. Address the police, such bad people have to be arrested,’ Tymoshenko claimed.

Poroshenko promises to regulate issue of holding elections in merged territorial communities during martial law | KyivPost

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko promises to resolve at the legislative level the issue of holding elections in the merged territorial communities during the martial law. “I will do everything that depends on me, so that at the next plenary session of the Verkhovna Rada to prepare the necessary legislative initiatives that will have a limited period – by the end of this year, but which would allow holding elections in the merged territorial communities,” he said in an interview with Ukrainian TV channels on Nov. 27. He stressed that the implementation of this initiative is important for the normal life of Ukrainian citizens.

A Bear of a Problem: Russian Special Forces Perfecting Their Cyber Capabilities – To Inform is to Influence

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 On the front lines in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine—an area known as the Joint Forces Operation, formerly the Anti-Terrorist Operation zone—ground combat operations are evolving and incorporating new features. Previous installments of this column have examined information operations and electronic warfare in this context. But increasingly, cyber is also…

 

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