Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (56)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The “firehose” barrage against Ukraine and the West splits into INF and Kerch threads, the former interesting as retired Gen Shamanov accusses Pres Gorbachev, Shevardnadze and Yakovlev of high treason for signing the INF and pulling Soviet forces out of Germany, the latter interesting as the Kerch attack is now being re-intepreted and new explanations contrived. CRS report on INF, update on B61-12 program.

In Russia, Kortunov states that POTUS is unreliable, and with remarkable hubris concludes that: “Russian patience is coming to an end” in dealing with the US. Multiple reports showing the remarkable shifts taking place in recent weeks, notable comments by Rothrock, Nemtsova, Shtepa, Hopko (Russia’s long downtrodden ethnic minorities may finally gain an international public advocate), Koryagin, Kudrin, and others.

In Kyiv, the SBU provides a public brief on Russia’s covert involvement in supporting the “Gilets jaunes” radical movement in France, and its siblings elsewhere in the EU. In the UK, SO15 “uncover evidence that links the Kremlin to two more killings on British soil”, while the visa system for wealthy Russians is suspended.

Reports that Russia conducted a major cyberattack on Ukrainian government agencies while attacking the Ukrainian boats in the Black Sea. Portnikov on the zombification of Russia. More on the buildup in Crimea – the Dzhankoy S-400 battery produces an A2/AD effect in a arc encompassing Rostov-on-Don, Dnipro City, Kryviy Rih, past Odessa into Moldovan airspace. Land and naval assets being further reinforced. Aksyonov, head of the pupper government in Crimea, praises the deployment of Pskov VDV and Spetsnaz assets during the 2014 invasion. Five analysis essays.

In Kyiv, retired ambassador to NATO, MGen Garashchuk, publicly argues the case for Ukraine to re-equip itself with nuclear weapons, and points out how quickly and easily Ukraine could reconstitute a nuclear strike force, given the immense pool of Soviet era experience in the design, manufacture and operation of nuclear warheads and ICBMs. The notion of a nuclear armed Ukraine has been unpalatable to both the US and Russia, and there is a real risk that Russia would pre-emptively use nuclear weapons to prevent Ukraine acquiring and deploying this capability. Equally so, the level of Western support for Israel increased dramatically once Israel acquired nuclear weapons. As long as Western lethal aid support for Ukraine remains at trickle level, and NATO dithers on Ukraine’s accession, this idea will continue to find its advocates in Kyiv, and put bluntly, who can blame them?

A great many political reports from Ukraine, including an effort reported by the WSJ by leading presidential candidate Tymoshenko to make friends in DC political circles. Pres Poroshenko interview on Fox News @ Night posted on Youtube. Pres Poroshenko engages new CDU leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. UkrOroronProm head publishes OpEd in US Defense News. SBU detains a retired PSU colonel working for the GRU.


US Puts Cold War-Era INF Treaty on Chopping Block – A Closer Look 31 Years Later – Sputnik International

On December 8 1987, the USSR and the United States sealed the first deal of its kind to reduce nuclear missile arsenals instead of simply placing a cap on them. While Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement cast a shadow over its future, we are looking into what made it so special.

INF ‘A Landmark Treaty’ That Decreased Global Nuclear Threat – Scholar – Sputnik International

Russia must scrap its nuclear-capable cruise missiles and launchers or modify the weapons’ range to comply with the INF treaty. This is what a senior US official said on Thursday. Previously, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the US attempt to “bury” the treaty creates new risks for Europe.

Czech President: Arms Race to Start if Deals Like INF Abandoned – Sputnik International

BLAGOVESHCHENSK (Sputnik) – Czech President Milos Zeman believes that there is a solution for the Russian-US standoff around the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

UAWire – Russian general: withdrawal of Soviet troops from Germany was a ‘state treachery’

The decision of the leadership of the USSR to end the arms race with the USA and withdraw Soviet troops from Germany was a state treachery and must receive an official assessment, said the chairman of the defense committee, the former commander of the Russian Airborne Forces Vladimir Shamanov at the plenary meeting of the State Duma on Friday. Shamanov said that Mikhail Gorbachev, together with Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze and Alexander Yakovlev, Politburo member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, betrayed national interests by signing an agreement on the elimination of medium-range missiles which prohibited deploying and targeting these missiles at Europe. “By 1991, Russia destroyed 1846 missiles while Americans destroyed only 846. Only God knows where Gorbachev and his comrades were hurrying to,” Shamanov said. “The same way we left Germany. While it takes Americans from 5 to 10 years to take out one squadron, we threw a group of troops out, we threw them out into an open field to please Americans and then fulfill their wish.” “National traitors must receive a state assessment,” Shamanov concluded. In his book “Life and Reforms”, Gorbachev wrote in 1995 that by signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, he managed to “take the pistol away from the country’s temple” and pointed to the huge and, in his opinion, unjustified costs associated with the production and maintenance of the arsenal of medium and shorter range missiles. In November, US President Donald Trump said that the United State planned to withdraw from the INF Treaty, citing the fact that Russia has been violating it for years.

Trump ultimatum sparks fears of new arms race | TheHill

President Trump’s ultimatum to Russia over a landmark arms control treaty could potentially kill the pact and set the stage for more land-based cruise missiles and nuclear warheads in Europe, experts and Democrat lawmakers warn.

The Trump administration says it will walk away from a nuclear treaty. Then what? – The Washington Post

The plan to abandon the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty leaves no restraints.

A Cold War Arms Treaty Is Unraveling. But the Problem Is Much Bigger. – The New York Times

Instead of trying to renegotiate the I.N.F. treaty to embrace countries like China that now have the weapons covered by the accord, the United States wants to build up its forces to counter Beijing.

The US and Russia are fighting over these key missiles – We Are The Mighty

Russia must scrap its Novator 9M729 missile systems and launchers or reduce their range to comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

CRS Report: Russian Compliance with the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty: Background and Issues for Congress – To Inform is to Influence

https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R43832  Summary: The United States and Soviet Union signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in December 1987. Negotiations on this treaty were the result of a “dual-track” decision taken by NATO in 1979. At that time, in response to concerns about the Soviet Union’s deployment of new intermediate-range nuclear missiles, NATO agreed both to accept deployment of new U.S. intermediate-range ballistic and cruise missiles and to support U.S. efforts to negotiate with the Soviet Union to limit these missiles. In the INF Treaty, the United States and Soviet Union agreed that they would ban all land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. The ban would apply to missiles with nuclear or conventional warheads, but would not apply to sea-based or air-delivered missiles. The U.S. State Department, in the 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 editions of its report Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments, stated that the United States has determined that “the Russian Federation is in violation of its obligations under the [1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces] INF Treaty not to possess, produce, or flight-test a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles.” In the 2016 report, it noted that “the cruise missile developed by Russia meets the INF Treaty definition of a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km, and as such, all missiles of that type, and all launchers of the type used or tested to launch such a missile, are prohibited under the provisions of the INF Treaty.” In late 2017, the United States released the Russian designator for the missile—9M729. The United States has also noted that Russia has deployed several battalions with the missile. In late 2018, the Office of the Director for National Intelligence provided further details on the violation. The Obama Administration raised its concerns about Russian compliance with the INF Treaty in a number of meetings since 2013. These meetings made little progress because Russia continued to deny that it had violated the treaty. In October 2016, the United States called a meeting of the Special Verification Commission, which was established by the INF Treaty to address compliance concerns. During this meeting, in mid-November, both sides raised their concerns, but they failed to make any progress in resolving them. A second SVC meeting was held in December 2017. The United States has also begun to consider a number of military responses, which might include new land-based INF-range systems or new sea-launched cruise missiles, both to provide Russia with an incentive to reach a resolution and to provide the United States with options for future programs if Russia eventually deploys new missiles and the treaty regime collapses. It might also suspend or withdraw from arms control agreements, although several analysts have noted that this might harm U.S. security interests, as it would remove all constraints on Russia’s nuclear forces. The Trump Administration conducted an extensive review of the INF Treaty during 2017 to assess the potential security implications of Russia’s violation and to determine how the United States would respond going forward. On December 8, 2017—the 30th anniversary of the date when the treaty was signed—the Administration announced that the United States would implement an integrated response that included diplomatic, military, and economic measures. On October 20, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from INF, citing Russia’s noncompliance as a key factor in that decision. Congress is likely to continue to conduct oversight hearings on this issue, and to receive briefings on the status of Russia’s cruise missile program. It may also consider legislation authorizing U.S. military responses and supporting alternative diplomatic approaches. This report will be updated as needed.

U.S. Air Force approves production of new nuclear bomb kits – Defence Blog

The U.S. Air Force has announced that the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC) received formal approval in late October to enter the production phase for the B61-12 nuclear gravity bomb’s new guided tail-kit assembly, or TKA. According to a news release put out by U.S. Air Forces, the AFNWC received approval to end its engineering and manufacturing development phase and enter the next phase. “This marks the completion of a highly successful development effort for the tail kit,” said Col. Dustin Ziegler, AFNWC director for air-delivered capabilities, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. The AFNWC program office recently passed the Air Force review of the weapon system’s development and received approval to end its engineering and manufacturing development phase and enter the next phase for production of the tail kit. In the production phase, the testing environment will more closely approach real-world environments. Known as Milestone C, the decision to enter this next phase marked the completion of a series of developmental flight tests. The program office completed a 27-month test program in less than 11 months, with 100 percent success for all of its 31 bomb drops. The accelerated schedule, as well as other risk mitigation strategies, enabled the program office to save more than $280 million in development costs, according to Ziegler. “The flight tests demonstrated the system works very well in its intended environment,” said Col. Paul Rounsavall, AFNWC senior materiel leader for the B61-12 TKA, Eglin AFB, Florida. “This development effort brought the first-ever digital interface to the B61 family of weapons and demonstrated the B61-12 TKA’s compatibility with the Air Force’s B-2 and F-15 aircraft. In addition, the TKA achieved greater than five times its required performance during developmental testing and is ready to start initial operational test and evaluation.” The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration is responsible for the B61-12 nuclear bomb assembly. The Air Force is responsible for the B61-12 TKA, joint integration of the bomb assembly and TKA into the “all-up-round” of the weapon, and its integration with aircraft.

 

Russia news: Moscow ‘LOSING PATIENCE’ with Donald Trump as relations with US sour | World | News | Express.co.uk

THE ARREST of a top executive from Chinese tech giant Huawei illustrates the “arrogance” of US policy, Russia has warned, as relations between Moscow and Washington continue to sour….. Andrey Kortunov, head of the Russian International Affairs Council, a research group set up by the Kremlin, said: “This is a signal for us that it’s difficult to deal with this person, that he’s unreliable and unsuitable as a partner. “Russian patience is coming to an end.”

Trump brand now toxic in Putin’s Kremlin – CNN

Gatherings of world leaders are often about the absence of substance. Several news cycles from now, few will remember what was discussed at the recent G20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Russia pitched political ‘synergy’ to Trump’s campaign, Putin’s approval on Moscow tower, Mueller says – NY Daily News

Less than five months after President Trump announced his White House bid, a “trusted” Kremlin operative approached Michael Cohen with promises of political “synergy” and Vladimir Putin’s rubber stamp on a Trump-branded tower in Moscow, special counsel Robert Mueller charged Friday.

Kevin Rothrock on Twitter: “Russian SVR spy chief Sergey Naryshkin says he doesn’t bring his cell phone into his office or use the Internet at work. But he does watch TV. 🤷‍♂️ https://t.co/kUZumrTTAZ”

 

Anna Nemtsova on Twitter: “Meet Russian “cyber volunteers” who are supposed to read comments on social media and report “extremist” users to authorities. Except that, when asked, they struggle to answer what the word “extremism” means.… https://t.co/4kdhSUNfg2″

 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin has Become a Victim of His Own Power Vertical, Shtepa Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 8 – By imposing total control on the officials of the Russian government at all levels, Vladimir Putin has left himself open to being held responsible for everything that goes on in his country, Vadim Shtepa says. When conditions are good, he gets the credit; when they aren’t, he gets the blame. That, more than the evaporation of the so-called “Crimean consensus,” explains why the Kremlin leader’s approval ratings have sunk and are unlikely to improve until the situation in the country improves, something the prospects for which are not promising, according to the Russian regionalist now living in exile in Estonia (icds.ee/ru/istoricheskij-majatnik-kachnulsja/). Had Putin allowed other officials to have more independent responsibility, they would have had to shoulder the blame; but because his power vertical concentrates all powers in his hands, he gets the blame rather more than in the past. As a result, the old paradigm of the good tsar with bad boyars has been replaced by the bad tsar. At the same time, Shtepa says, there has been two other shifts in Russian attitudes that affect Putin’s standing, again one of his own making because of his continuing promises, left unfulfilled, that Russians will live ever better as seemed possible in the period before the 2008 crisis. The first involves a shift away from the idea that Russians were prepared to live poorly as long as their country was powerful, an attitude political scientist Ivan Davydov characterizes as “bread and rockets.” That is because ever more Russians have come to recognize that the rockets are eating into their bread and leaving them less well off. And the second concerns a revision in Russians’ understanding of what it means to be a great power. Prior to 2014, Russians viewed the status of being a great power exclusively in terms of military might. Now, ever more of them feel that being a great power means having a population with a high standard of living. That too works against Putin. It appears, Shtepa suggests, that today “we are observing a certain repetition of the history of the start of the 20th century. In 1914 … imperial and militarist attitudes were widespread and support for the tsar high. But less than three years later, the compass shifted – and those very same people came into the streets demanding the overthrow of the autocracy.”

Russian opposition gathers in Vilnius, supports Ukraine | KyivPost

VILNIUS, Lithuania – A forum of Russian liberal intellectuals organized by Garry Kasparov, a renowned chess champion and a leader of the Russian opposition, opened on Dec. 7, in Vilnius. Ukraine became one of the main topics, with both Ukrainian speakers and their Russian counterparts fearing a full-scale conflict between the two neighboring countries after Russia’s attack in the Kerch Strait. The 6th Free Russia Forum gathered politicians, journalists and activists from both Ukraine and Russia for a two-day conference to talk about Russia, its political future and its military aggression in Ukraine. For many, Russian aggression in the Black Sea, which culminated with the attack on Nov. 25, marked a new, scary, chapter in the ongoing war.

Half of Europe in crosshairs of Russian missile attack – Ukraine intel | UNIAN

Ukrainian intelligence has many times spotted Russian Iskander missile launchers near the Ukrainian border and on the territory of the illegally annexed Crimea. Russian Iskander complexes were many times spotted along the border.

The U.S. Air Force Deployed a Surveillance Plane to Ukraine. Here’s Why It Matters. | The National Interest

The OC-135 that flew over Ukraine is one of two surveillance planes that the Air Force operates under the auspices of the 1992 Open Skies Treaty. But the treaty is under attack.

US military flexes muscles in message to Russia – CNNPolitics

The US military responded this week to what it calls Russia’s “unlawful and destabilizing actions” in Ukraine and elsewhere by pushing back against Moscow on the seas and in the air.

Pentagon Challenges Russian Expansion In Rare Solidarity Commitment To Ukraine | The Republican Standard

Under the international Open Skies Treaty – of which the U.S., Ukraine, the Russian Federation, and 31 other nations are a part – the Pentagon is rumored to have flown an unarmed Air Force OC-135 observation plane near Crimea, the Ukrainian region seized by Russia in a 2014 invasion.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kyiv to Focus Attention on Moscow’s Violations of Rights of Peoples inside Russian Federation

Paul Goble Staunton, December 9 – The International Affairs Committee of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada held a roundtable on Friday devoted to “the violations of the rights of the indigenous peoples in the Russian Federation” and plans to take additional steps to call to the attention of the international community these violations. Hanna Hopko, the chairman of the committee, told the meeting that “Ukraine as a country and Ukrainians as a political nation which has been able to break out of imperial imprisonment must help those who also desire such freedom” (afterempire.info/2018/12/09/krygliystol/). “The significance of this event,” she continued, “is hard to overrate because since the annexation of Crimea and the beginning of military actions in the Donbass, the view that in general we aren’t concerned with what happens there ‘beyond the line’ has been very widespread.” Thus, this roundtable, Hopko said, “is the beginning of a new era in the foreign policy of Ukraine. And this is a very important continuation of the revolution of Dignity. You ask what kind of help can this be? The most important thing Ukraine can offer is the dissemination of information about those crimes which the Kremlin clique has committed.” The chairman added that the presence of Sergey Vystosky, a member of the parliamentary delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe underscored that intention. At the session, participants talked about the history and current stae of the indigenous peoples and national minorities in Russia and also about the national liberation movements in many of them. Rafis Kashapov, who has received political asylum in Britain, talked about the Idel-Ural movement. Others talked about the North Caucasus. The meeting also focused on the rights of ethnic Russians and their violation in various regions by the Kremlin. The Ukrainian parliamentarian concluded the session by saying that her committee would prepare draft legislation to ensure that the work of the roundtable will continue and expand.

Aric Toler on Twitter: “Dugin is not Putin’s advisor and he lost his job at Moscow State University in 2014. He hasn’t really had much of any power/influence in Russia since then. Op-ed writers like this think and spill more ink about Dugin than pretty much every pro-Russia person combined.… https://t.co/Fzl140OQtF”

 

Russia postponed the development of a smart bullet – Defence Blog

Russia officially postponed the development of a new self-guided ammunition or ‘smart bullet’, according to Lenta.ru newspaper reports. A self-guided ammunition or smart bullet is a bullet that is able to correct the trajectory, changed speed in order to snipers be able to engage targets faster, and with better accuracy. The report, which was released on 9 December, said that development of new generation of Russian self-guided ammunition for sniper rifles had been postponed indefinitely owing to technological reasons. “Russian engineers have postponed the development of domestic self-guided bullets for an indefinite period,” said Lenta.ru. Meanwhile, the TASS Russian News Agency in 2016 reported that Russia’s Advanced Research Foundation, or ARF, has started testing of a ‘smart bullet’. “The work in this direction continues. The stages of the product’s design and experimental development in an unguided regime have been completed, and the guided flight tests have started,” ARF deputy director General Vitaly Davydov stated TASS in an interview. The following year, Sergei Abramov, director of the Rostec cluster of conventional weapons, ammunition and special chemistry, stated that the joint laboratory of the ARF and the Central Scientific Research Institute of Precision Engineering (TsNIITOCHMASH) was engaged in developing ‘smart bullets’. It was planned that the experimental samples will be produced in the 2020s.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Lenta News Agency Forced to Take Down Damning Report on Deteriorating State of Roskosmos

Paul Goble Staunton, December 9 – Lenta investigative journalist Vladimir Koryagin prepared a devastating portrait of Roskosmos which spends billions on space but kopecks for the engineering talent that make progress in that or any other sector possible. But the news agency was forced to delete the report, likely because of complaints from above. But nothing is ever completely lost on the Internet. A cached copy remains available (webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:P653tQUhkfsJ:https://lenta.ru/articles/2018/12/07/space_xxx/+&cd=1&hl=ru&ct=clnk&gl=ru), and that has been republished in its entirety by the Russian Monitor portal (rusmonitor.com/polet-v-nikuda-rossiya-tratit-milliardy-na-kosmos-i-kopejjki-na-inzhenerov-kuda-ukhodyat-dengi-udalennyjj-material-lenta-ru.html). Entitled “A Flight to Nowhere: Russia Spends Billions on Space and Kopecks for Engineers. Where is the Money Going,” Koryagin’s report details the way in which corruption, mismanagement, underfunding, and ignoring the basic requirements for training and especially retaining engineering talent, Russia has lost the advantages it inherited from Soviet times. It is launching ever fewer rockets each year, it has fewer and fewer successful satellites, and it seems to worry most of all about keeping the prices of its rockets low to attract some buyers and to maintaining ties with the US so as to get money coming in for Russia’s role in the international space station. What it is not doing, Koryagin documents, is training enough new engineers or paying them sufficiently to retain them in the branch. As a result, the skills of people in the branch are declining, its research staff is aging and not being replaced, and the entire system is falling ever further behind other countries and even private corporations now involved in space work. Moscow must decide what it wants more – “to fly into space or to save on the people and scientific research which makes this possible. If it wants to remain a space power,” Koryagin says, it will have to spend more money not just on the branch as a whole but especially on the training of new cadres. “The most valuable capital is people,” the journalist concludes, “and cadres decide everything. Therefore, the rocket-space industry must have competent, able and really motivated professionals of all kinds, from workers to the heads of enterprises.” Unless it provides better pay to keep and attract the best of these, “this task is utopian.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: The Russian Federation Will Disintegrate but Not ‘Just Like the Soviet Union Did’

Paul Goble Staunton, December 8 – Twenty-seven years ago today, the presidents of the RSFSR, the Belarusian SSR and the Ukrainian SSR signed the Belovezhskaya accords that annulled the 1922 union treaty and thus put a de jure end to the de facto disintegration of the USSR which had taken place following the August 1991 coup attempt. This anniversary is not one Russians generally mark especially as Vladimir Putin has described the disintegration of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” But it was “marked” as it were this year by Aleksey Kudrin’s suggestion that if Russia doesn’t change course, it will disintegration just like the USSR did. The head of the Russian Audit Chamber said, Interfax reports today, that “if Russia is not distracted from foreign policy successes and does not devote attention to international problems, the resolution of which would lead the country to genuine greatness, then it could go along the path which led to the disintegration of the USSR (interfax.ru/russia/641399). Ever more Russian analysts and politicians, especially among the opposition, are saying much the same thing; and Kudrin’s words are significant only because of his high rank. But they like the predictions of many others reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the situation, one that needs to be cleared up if one is to understand what is likely to happen in the coming months. And that is this: the Russian Federation, however much Putin and some others might like it, is not the Soviet Union; and its approaching end – and that its end is approaching there can be little doubt – will not be like the end of the USSR. It will be far more difficult for the peoples involved and likely far more violent as well. The Soviet Union ended peacefully for three major reasons, none of which is true in the case of the Russian Federation now. First, the republics had more or less legitimately elected leaders while the Soviet Union did not. As a result, there were ready-made entities for the Soviet empire to disintegrate into. Neither of those things is true for the Russian Federation now. As a result of Putin’s policies, the leaders of the republics are probably even less legitimate than he is, being appointed by the Kremlin rather than chosen by the people. And Putin’s regime is far more like the August putsch plotters than that of Mikhail Gorbachev. The current Kremlin leader is prepared to drown the country in blood to prevent its disintegration. In the end, he is unlikely to be able to stop the fissiparousness of the regions and nations now within the borders of the Russian Federation from having its way; but Putin will ensure that those leaving will pay a far higher price at least for as long as he can. But there are at least three other reasons why the approaching end of the Russian Federation will be different than the end of the USSR. First, the most important players in the coming drama are likely to be regions rather than republics, given that the autonomous republics have only about a fifth of the population rather than the half the union republics did in 1991. Instead, the country is likely to disintegrate along still-to-be established regional lines within a fragmenting Russian nation; and the process of drawing those lines will be difficult and likely bloody as well. (On that issue, see this author’s “Regionalism is the Nationalism of the Next Russian Revolution” at afterempire.info/2016/12/28/regionalism/.) Second, the international environment is different. There is even less support for national self-determination in the West now than there was in 1991, and there is even more fear of what could happen if control of the Russian nuclear arsenal becomes an open question. As the Soviet Union headed toward collapse, many in the West feared “a Yugoslavia with nukes.” Now, such fears are far greater and more justified given the increasing divides within the West, the absence of a paramount power prepared to intervene to say when the process is over, and the likelihood that terrorist groups or some rogue states may seek to acquire those weapons, making Western opposition to any change more likely if ultimately ineffectual. And third – and this may be the most important thing of all – the collapse of the USSR was largely contained within its borders. The coming disintegration of the Russian Federation won’t be. As the Russian empire within those borders falls apart, the Russian empire beyond those borders will be drawn in whether it wants to or not. These things do not mean that the Russian Federation will not fall apart: the forces moving in that direction are too great to prevent the demise of the last empire. But they do mean that it will be different and more dangerous – and those concerned about the peoples now living in that empire and hoping for a better future must begin by acknowledging that reality. Continuing to say that the coming demise of the Russian Federation will be just like that of the Soviet Union is in fact dangerous because it will distract attention from the real problems this cataclysmic event will entail and almost certainly guarantee that the peoples of the empire, their neighbors and the entire world will suffer more than need be.

Russia’s New Radar Can Track 5,000 Objects (Including Hypersonic Missiles) | The National Interest

A threat to NATO?

I was a CIA spy in Russia – and now my family is in danger. But Trump can help | Yevgeny Chistov | Opinion | The Guardian

In Russia there are people who, like me, risked our lives to help the US, and in the US there are people imprisoned for helping Russia. Trump can conduct an exchange

UAWire – Philippines cancels purchase of Russian helicopters because of US sanctions

The Philippines decided to buy 16 UH-60 Black Hawk multipurpose helicopters from the American Sikorsky Aircraft Corp for $240 million and refused cheaper Russian helicopters due to the US sanctions imposed on Russian military exports, Reuters reported, referring to the statement by the head of the Ministry of Defense of the Philippines, Delfin Lorenzana. The minister said that the contract for the purchase of 16 American Black Hawk helicopters will be signed early next year, despite the fact that Russia offered the lowest price. “But it’s very difficult to pay for them because of the US sanctions,” said Lorenzana. The bill on Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) was adopted in 2017. According to the bill, countries and companies that cooperate with Russian enterprises and organizations included on the sanctions list can be sanctioned. Initially, the Philippines planned to buy 16 Bell 412 helicopters manufactured in Canada. However, the deal was scrapped in February. Canadian authorities expressed concern that helicopters could be used to fight rebels. In the future, the Philippines started considering other options for purchase, including the Russian Mi-171, American Black Hawk, South Korean Surion and Anglo-Italian Agusta Westland AW139. In November, Lorenzana told the defense exhibition in Indonesia that Manila was considering the acquisition of several types of weapons from Russia, including attack and transport helicopters. The official representative of the FSMTC (Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation) of Russia Maria Vorobyova spoke about the interest of the Philippines in the Russian weapons, including helicopters, in an interview with Interfax in 2017. She clarified that the Mi-17B-5, Mi-17Sh and Mi-35 helicopters had been shown to the representatives of the Philippines.

Jane’s: Can Russia defeat NATO with Soviet era armour? – Defence Blog

Jane’s Information Group, a British publishing company specialising in military, aerospace and transportation topics, have released an exclusive analysis of Russia’s ambitious modernisation of its armed forces. Samuel Cranny-Evans, Editor, Jane’s Armoured Fighting Vehicles provides exclusive analysis of Russia’s modernisation of its armed forces, and NATO’s response to re arm and return its attention to the potential for a conventional conflict on a scale thought improbable, since the end of the Cold War. According to Samuel Cranny-Evans, from 2008 Russia has embarked on an ambitious modernization of its Armed Forces. There has been considerable progress towards this goal nevertheless the majority of Russia’s ground forces are equipped with Soviet-era equipment that has been upgraded. Russia has adopted a new attitude towards its foreign policy and this combined with the modernization of thousands of armored vehicles has once again raised the prospect of conflict in Europe. This is forced NATO to rearm after more than a decade of counterinsurgency warfare and return its attention to the potential for a conventional conflict on a scale for improbable since the end of the Cold War. In the exclusive analysis, Samuel Cranny-Evans outlines critical moments of Russia’s plan of modernisation of its armed forces.

 

Ukraine’s SBU on “yellow vest” riots in Paris: “Practical examination” of Russia’s foreign agents | UNIAN

Latest large-scale “yellow vest” riots in Paris, France, accompanied by looting, vandalism and clashes of activists and law enforcement officers is a “practical examination” of European radicals trained by the secret services of the Russian Federation, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has said. The SBU has information that Russian intelligence services have to organize similar acts of provocation in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, and other European countries. Latest large-scale “yellow vest” riots in Paris, France, accompanied by looting, vandalism and clashes of activists and law enforcement officers is a “practical examination” of European radicals trained by the secret services of the Russian Federation, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has said. “International borders are not an obstacle to Russian hybrid aggression. The Kremlin uses dirty methods to destroy European stability, which it sees as a threat,” the SBU quoted Chief Vasyl Hrytsak as saying in a statement posted on the SBU’s Facebook page on December 9. According to information available to the Ukrainian special services, Moscow has intensified efforts to seize control of the radical movements of Europe in recent years. Every year, various “conferences” and “forums” are held in Russia where the ideologists of the “Russian world (Russiky Mir)” Alexander Dugin, Sergey Glazyev and others call on foreign “attendees” to forcefully overthrow European democracies.

SBU says Russian secret services organize protests in France, plot similar actions in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, and other European countries

10.12.18 12:48 – Ukraine’s SBU Security Service has evidence that the latest large-scale “yellow vest” riots in Paris, France, accompanied by looting, vandalism and clashes of activists and law enforcement officers is a “practical examination” of European radicals trained by the secret services of the Russian Federation. “International borders are not an obstacle to Russian hybrid aggression. The Kremlin uses dirty methods to destroy European stability, which it sees as a threat,” the SBU quoted Chief Vasyl Hrytsak as saying in a statement posted on the SBU’s Facebook page on Dec. 9, Censor.NET reports citing UNIAN. According to information available to the Ukrainian special services, Moscow has intensified efforts to seize control of the radical movements of Europe in recent years. Every year, various “conferences” and “forums” are held in Russia where the ideologists of the “Russian world (Russiky Mir)” Alexander Dugin, Sergey Glazyev and others call on foreign “attendees” to forcefully overthrow European democracies. And to let them gain “practical experience,” radicals were taken as “European observers” to “monitor” fake “elections” organized by the Russian Federation in Russian-occupied Crimea and Donbas. “Today, the same radicals under the banners of the so-called ‘DPR’ [‘Donetsk People’s Republic’] and under the guidance of Russia’s FSB and Directorate of General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces, are passing a “practical exam.” Read more: Kremlin-sponsored Channel One apologizes for fake story about Euromaidan anniversary “They have started to create unrest and violence in France behind the backs of peaceful protesters,” the SBU said. In particular, several participants in the “yellow vests” rallies who are seen on a photo holding the banner of the Russian-controlled terrorist group “DPR” are Fabrice Sorlin (left) and Xavier Moreau (right), the SBU said. Fabrice Sorlin is a member of the “Katehon International Analytical Center,” which acts under the auspices of the ideologists of the “Russian world”: Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, Vladimir Putin’s adviser Sergey Glazyev, leader of the “International Eurasian Movement” Alexander Dugin. Sorlin is a member of the “Russia-Donbass Integration Committee,” which was created and is funded by the special services of the Russian Federation. Xavier Moreau is the founder of the Stratpol think tank, the Kremlin’s propaganda outlet in France. He is a member of NGO “East France-Solidarity Donbass,” which is controlled by the Russian special services. Moreau has been living in Russia for 17 years and acquired Russian citizenship in 2013. The SBU has information that Russian intelligence services have to organize similar acts of provocation in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria, and other European countries. Source: https://censor.net.ua/en/n3101392

“Russian World” supporters fly “DPR” flag at yellow vest protest in Paris | UNIAN

During a yellow vest rally in Paris, two Frenchmen were photographed boasting the flag of the so-called “Donetsk People’s Republic” terrorist organization. The two men holding the flag were identified as French nationals Fabrice Sorlin and Xavier Moreau – both supporters of Russia-backed militants in the occupied Donbas.

Skripal detectives ‘uncover evidence that links the Kremlin to TWO more killings on British soil’  | Daily Mail Online

Circumstances around the deaths of Alexander Perepilichnyy and Scot Young are being probed by Scotland Yard over suggestions they may have been linked to Russian hitmen.

Skripal detectives uncover evidence linking Kremlin to at least two more killings in UK – media | UNIAN

Skripal detectives have uncovered evidence that links the Kremlin to at least two more killings in the United Kingdom including a poisoned jogger and the ‘suicide’ of a tycoon. At the time of both deaths agents from the GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency, were in Britain, according to evidence from SO15.

Czech counterintel says it paralyzed Russian spying network – media | UNIAN

The head of the Czech Republic’s counter-intelligence service says his agency broke a Russian spying network earlier this year and completely paralyzed its activities. President Zeman, known for his pro-Russian stance, has earlier dismissed the agency’s report.

Britain is reviewing the “golden visa” mechanism because of concerns about corruption and Russians

The British government suspends granting foreign investors privileged visas after December 7, allowing the rich to settle in the UK. The level-1 visa requirement was investment in Britain at least two million pounds ($ 2.5 million), which also gave the right to individuals to carry family members for an initial period of more than 3 years with the possibility of renewal and subsequently obtaining a permanent right for residence and citizenship. After the introduction of the 2008 system, such visas were received from a few hundred to more than a thousand people a year, including many Russian oligarchs, as well as wealthy people from the United Arab Emirates. About half of the recipients were from China.

UAWire – UK suspending ‘golden visa’ program for wealthy Russians over corruption and money laundering concerns

After December 7, the British government will suspend granting of privileged visas to foreign investors, which allowed rich people to reside in the United Kingdom. The Voice of America writes that, initially, the condition for obtaining a Level 1 visa was an investment of at least two million pounds sterling ($ 2.5 million) in the UK. This also gave such persons the right to bring family members to the country for an initial term of more than three years with the possibility of renewal, and subsequently receive permanent residence rights and citizenship. After this system’s introduction in 2008, several hundred to over a thousand people per year received such visas, including many Russian businessmen, as well as wealthy individuals from the United Arab Emirates. Approximately half of the recipients were from China. New rules for applicants will include a compulsory financial review by one of the audit firms registered in the UK. The Theresa May’s government announced that it acts in response to the allegations that London has become the main center for money laundering, as well as due to national security reasons, after the poisoning of the former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, in March 2018.

UK intel targets six Russian oligarchs with ties to Putin | UNIAN

Roman Abramovich is on a list of six Putin-linked Russian oligarchs being targeted by UK intelligence to disrupt their ability to travel in retaliation for Skripal nerve agent attack. The aim of the measures is to limit their maneuverability and ability to travel and operate freely in Britain, Europe and elsewhere.

 

UAWire – Russia changes its explanation of attack on Ukrainian ships in Kerch Strait

Russia closed the Kerch Strait before the attack on the Ukrainian ships in order to “the prevent provocative actions” which could been directed at the Kerch Bridge, stated Alexei Volsky, the Head of the Coast Guard Department of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Interfax-Ukraine reports. “It is related to the prevention of provocative action that could be committed by the Ukrainian Navy ships near the Kerch Bridge and undermine the safety of navigation in the Kerch–Yenikale canal,” Volsky stated. He believes it is wrong to talk about Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports. “There can be no question of the so-called blockade of Ukrainian ports. There were no bias or abuses of authority,” he insisted. Russian border ships attacked and seized Ukrainian ships and a tugboat in the Kerch Strait on November 25. Twenty-four sailors are accused of violating the Russian border. On November 25th, the Russian military captured three Ukrainian ships in the neutral waters of the Black Sea. The two boats, a tug boat and their crew of 24 people were taken to Simferopol where a Russian-controlled court arrested all Ukrainians for two months. The next day, the sailors were transported to Moscow, where they are now being detained. The US State Department called on Russia to release the Ukrainian sailors detained in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait, “otherwise the consequences and pain will only increase with time.” High Representative of the EU Federica Mogherini also called on Russia to release the Ukrainians without any conditions.

UAWire – Russia refuses to recognize captured Ukrainian sailors as prisoners of war

On Saturday, the Head of the Russian Investigative Department of the FSB, Mikhail Shishov stated at a broadcasted briefing that Russia would not recognize the Ukrainian sailors detained on November 25 in the Kerch Strait as prisoners of war. “The Ukrainians are trying to present their soldiers as prisoners of war, but these Ukrainian citizens were accused of a criminal offense. In accordance with the Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War, signed at Geneva on August 12, 1949, they cannot be considered prisoners of war as the Russian Federation and Ukraine are not in state of military conflict or war,” Shishov explained. First Deputy Head of the Coast Guard Department of the Border Guard Service of the Federal Security Service of Russia Alexei Volsky also stated that the Ukrainian ships captured on November 25 had violated the passage requirements of the Kerch Strait and were moving with ready-to-fire artillery systems. “One can only guess what even accidentally opened artillery fire in such a saturated navigable area could lead to,” Volsky emphasized.

Russia ready to discuss fate of detained Ukrainian sailors after their trial | Reuters

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow would only be ready to discuss the fate of a group of Ukrainian sailors it captured last month after their trial was finished.

FSB: Ukrainian ships’ actions in Kerch Strait could have targeted Crimea Bridge | KyivPost

MOSCOW – The closure of the Kerch Strait prior to the incident with the Ukrainian navy ships was been linked with the prevention of a provocative action, which could have been carried out against the Crimea Bridge among other targets, Alexei Volsky, the first deputy head of the Coastguard Department of the Russian Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Border Guard Service, said. “Primarily, it was linked with the prevention of a provocation, a provocative action, which could have been carried out by the Ukrainian Navy ships both against the Crimea Bridge and navigation security in the Kerch-Yenikale Canal,” Volsky said at a briefing on Dec. 8. The Ukrainian sailors, detained during the incident in the Kerch Strait, did not sustain any direct gunshot wounds, Mikhail Shishov, the director of the investigative department of …

Seized Ukrainian warships were armed beyond regular loadout & planned moving ‘stealthily’ – Moscow — RT World News

Ukrainian ships that were seized last month carried more ammunition than usual, had guns in combat ready-mode and planned to ‘stealthily’ pass the Kerch Strait in violation of rules, Russian border and security officials said.

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Ukrainian ships violated rules of passage of Kerch Strait, operating for 20 years – FSB

Furhermore the weapons found on them exceed standard, FSB Border Service representative stressed

Inspection Found Artillery Pieces on Ukrainian Ships Loaded, Combat-Ready – Russia’s FSB

Uniindia: Moscow, Dec 8 (Sputnik) An inspection of the Ukrainian Navy boats after the Kerch Strait incident revealed that their artillery pieces had been charged and combat-ready, Mikhail Shishov, the head of the investigations office of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), said on Saturday.

WW3 news: Ukraine ‘threatened to OPEN FIRE on Russian ships’ as naval crisis deepens | Daily Star

UKRAINE warships threatened to open fire on Russian during the confrontation a month before the recent Kerch Strait incident, it has been claimed.

Russia Launched Cyber Attacks Against Ukraine Before Ship Seizures, Firm Says – Nextgov

Researchers claim to have uncovered Russian cyber attacks aimed at the Ukrainian military and government before and during the Sea of Azov captures.

Russia Launched Cyber Attacks Against Ukraine Before Ship Seizures, Firm Says – Defense One

Researchers claim to have uncovered Russian cyber attacks aimed at the Ukrainian military and government before and during the Sea of Azov captures.

 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Will Celebrate Return of Crimea to Ukraine If Putin Tells Them To, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 8 – The possibility that Vladimir Putin will return two or more of the Kurile Islands the Soviet Union seized at the end of World War II in exchange for a peace treaty with Japan has an important lesson for the world about Crimea: Russians will celebrate its return to Ukraine if Putin or his successor in the Kremlin tells them to, Vitaly Portnikov says. Too many people assume that Russians have always wanted to “take back” Crimea and that they will never yield territory to Japan or anyone else, the Ukrainian analyst continues. But in fact, while a few do care about these things, most will follow the Kremlin line wherever it leads (espreso.tv/article/2018/12/07/vitaliy_portnykov_rosiyany_raditymut_povernennyu_krymu). If Putin does decide to hand back the Kuriles to Japan, he continues, “the population will have to unanimously approve this decision of the boss and not protest. And they will approve it, have no doubt,” Portnikov says. They will celebrate this great act of statesmanship and dismiss the questions of any foreign journalist who may inquire about how they feel. To the question as to how they can put up with a loss of territory, they will answer “’on the other hand, we have peace with Japan,’ ‘on the other hand, we have investments,’” or simply “’you are a provocateur,’ ‘Russia is a generous soul,’ and what is most important, ‘this isn’t ours!’” Exactly the same thing would occur with Crimea, Portnikov continues. “No one should doubt it.” When Putin or his successor decide to return Crimea to Ukraine “to achieve the normalization of relations with the West and ‘the eternal friendship with a fraternal country,’” a few will protest and they will be dispersed by force. Despite expectations, “the rating of the ruler on the day of handing over Crimea to Ukraine will rise to the heavens,” and Russians will celebrate what he has done – and they’ll use exactly the same terms that will be used about the Kuriles. After all, that is what Russians will be told to think by television.

Russian Black Sea Fleet will get 12 new warships in 2019 – Defence Blog

Russian Black Sea Fleet is planning to add 12 new ships in 2019, Fleet Commander Vice-Admiral Alexander Moiseyev announced on Monday. According to Alexander Moiseyev, the Russian Black Sea Fleet is expected to get six warships of various classes and six support vessels in 2019. “The delivery of 12 warships and vessels is planned for 2019: six combat ships and six support vessels,” Moiseyev said. Also added that in 2019, the patrol ship Dmitry Rogachev, the ocean minesweeper Ivan Antonov and a fast-speed amphibious assault ship of a new Project are to enter service with the Black Sea Fleet. As the Black Sea Fleet’s press office reported, the new warships acceptance for service is part of the plans to modernize the Fleet. Russian Black Sea Fleet’s rearming comes against the backdrop of escalates the conflict with Ukraine in Black and Azov Sea.

Russia building up forces near Crimea amid tensions with Ukraine, satellite photos show | Fox News

Two weeks after Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels in the contested Kerch Strait, satellite images obtained exclusively by Fox News on Sunday show that additional forces may be headed to the region.

Convoy of military equipment spotted moving into Crimea across Kerch Strait Bridge (photo, video) | UNIAN

A large convoy of trucks carrying military equipment into the Russian-occupied Crimea was spotted moving across the Kerch Strait Bridge on December 8. Russia has been turning the occupied Crimea into a major military base.

Crimea’s “head” Aksyonov admits Russia’s Pskov paratroopers helped Kremlin seize peninsula | UNIAN

The Russia-imposed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, has met with Pskov Mayor Ivan Tsetsersky and thanked the Russian military for their help in annexing the peninsula. The controversial posting was shortly deleted from Facebook. The Russia-imposed head of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, has met with Pskov Mayor Ivan Tsetsersky and thanked the Russian military for their help in annexing the peninsula. A screenshot of Tsetsersky’s message about his conversation with Aksyonov was published on Facebook by the Russian edition Moskovsky Komsomolets in Pskov. Tsetsersky posted his photo with Aksyonov with a caption saying that the latter “once again thanked Pskov paratroopers and special forces for their skillful actions in the spring of 2014 to reunite Crimea with Russia.” “Pskov Mayor Ivan Tsetsersky rather routinely and yet unexpectedly shared details of a special operation in Crimea,” the edition said.

“Head of Crimea” thanks Pskov Mayor “for paratroopers and special forces soldiers in spring, 2014” – 112.international

Self-proclaimed “Head of Crimea” Sergey Aksyonov thanked Ivan Tsetsersky, the Mayor of Russian city Pskov for “all Pskov paratroopers and special forces soldiers” and their skilled actions in spring 2014 during the annexation of the peninsula as “Moscow Komsomolets in Pskov” reported publishing the screenshot of the proper post of Tsetsersky on the social network. It is noteworthy, that the post is not displayed on the page of Pskov Mayor, possibly, due to the peculiarities of the privacy settings of the account. However, according to the Russian mass media, Tsetsersky has edited the post, removing the information about paratroopers. “With Head of Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov, who thanked one more time all Pskov paratroopers and special forces soldiers for the skilled actions in spring 2014 on “the reunion of Crimea with Russia”,” firstly the post said. Later only words “With Head of Republic of Crimea Sergey Aksyonov” were left. “Head of Pskov Ivan Tsetsersky edited his post after our day-old message on his revelations on the special operation in Crimea. He even came to the social networks to comment on our message: “What is this?!”,” “Moscow Komsomolets in Pskov” reported. Even more remarkable that Tsetsersky, according to the information on his page, studied at Lviv Senior Military-Political Academy.

Crimean Tatar leader names scenarios for Putin’s ousting | UNIAN

Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, MP Refat Chubarov has said Russian President Vladimir Putin may lose power as a result of either a coup of his close allies and businessmen or mass protests. Chubarov says Russians will massively take to the streets only if their living conditions become unbearable. Head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, MP Refat Chubarov has said Russian President Vladimir Putin may lose power as a result of either a coup of his close allies and businessmen or mass protests. “There are two segments of Russian society that could, say, make Putin make a U-turn, and if he doesn’t comply, they could physically eliminate him. It’s his inner circle, especially business elite, who are already anxious of losing tens of billions of dollars they have managed to amass over the years,” he told ATR Crimean Tatar TV channel, according to Channel 24. Another threat to Putin is Russian people, who could resort to mass riots. At the same time, Chubarov admitted that Russians would protest only if their living conditions were unbearable.

Satellite spots hundreds of Russian tanks near border with Ukraine – 10.12.2018 11:06 — Ukrinform News

Russia has deployed a significant number of military hardware on the border with Ukraine, including hundreds of tanks, which was recorded on satellite images, according to online military magazine Defense Blog.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin has Assembled an Invasion Force 18 km from Ukrainian Border and West is Ignoring It, Eidman Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 9 – Vladimir Putin has assembled “hundreds of Russian T-64 ad T-62M tanks and thousands of military vehicles” only 18 kilometers from the Russian-Ukrainian border in the environs of Kamensk-Shakhtinsk of Rostov Oblast. All this can be seen on Google Earth photographs, Igor Eidman says on Facebook a few hours ago. “At any moment,” the Russian sociologist and commentator for Deutsche Welle says, this force can “move into Ukraine.” But as this is happening, the West is continuing to deal with Moscow as if nothing out of the ordinary were occurring, talking about North Flow, American sanctions, and recent contacts between Trump and Putin at the G20 meeting (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2152134674849500&id=100001589654713). This is an old, old story as Winston Churchill might have put it and in fact did. The same pattern occurred “before the beginning of Nazi miliary expansion in Europe. Everyone saw what was happening but gave the impression that nothing extraordinary was happening. They feared to look truth in the face.” Tragically, it appears, exactly the same thing is happening again, Eidman suggests.

 

Jill Dougherty and Thomas Zamostny | U.S. Security and Russia: Choices and Consequences | The National Interest

America’s current strategy toward Russia, simply put, is not working; instead, it’s tying our hands.

Taras Chornovil | End of Friendship Treaty with Russia: How will “Kremlin Bear” react? | UNIAN

The Verkhovna Rada passed a draft law, submitted by President Poroshenko, on non-prolongation of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Earlier in September, Kyiv sent Moscow a corresponding notice, thus, properly informing the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Verkhovna Rada passed a draft law, submitted by President Poroshenko, on non-prolongation of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Earlier in September, Kyiv sent Moscow a corresponding notice, thus, properly informing the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What consequences will this step entail? As my senior sergeant in the army once said, “You are not kidding with a smart one.” We have in an absolutely uncivilized neighbor ruled by a dictator. The dictator decides what to do: if he wants to wage war, he sends tanks and planes to the Ukrainian border; or if he wants to attack Ukrainian ships in neutral waters, he just does it. Our enemy proceeds from its own point of view, and no legal nuances here are of any significance. What consequences will this step entail? As my senior sergeant in the army once said, “You are not kidding with a smart one” Putin is not a civilized man. It’s like talking about the rules of international law with Adolf Hitler. Some tried to talk about this with him in 1938, but they paid a very high price for that. The same is now happening with Putin. Therefore, no one knows exactly what the consequences there will be. I think that the actual consequences will not be a result of the abolition of the Treaty, but of Putin being nervous about the fact that Ukraine is increasingly shifting away from under his influence. It is extremely annoying to him that the Ukrainian church is becoming independent – I hope this procedure will be completed in December, and then we will witness a massive transition of Orthodox parishes from the Moscow Patriarchate to a new local church. This might actually cause Putin’s mental breakdown. A similar reaction we may see over the Rada amending the Constitution regarding Ukraine’s aspirations toward the EU and NATO, or maybe an outcome of the presidential election in Ukraine which would not be in Putin’s favor. That is, aggression could be provoked by pretty much anything.

Antoine Dewaest | NATO Experts on Kerch Strait “First Russian Aggression under its Own Flag” – Georgia Today on the Web

On December 7, Romania hosted the conference ‘Securing NATO’s Eastern Frontier and its Neighboring Regions’ in Bucharest. The main purpose was to discuss publicly the security stakes that NATO, Ukraine, The Republic of Moldova and Romania are facing regarding Russian destabilization in the region. In that way, the conference tried to bring about trans-Atlantic cooperation by gathering public officials from these countries. The discussion has been much-awaited, all the more since two weeks ago Russia violated once again international laws. On November 25, the Russian Federation fired at three Ukrainian ships sailing to Odessa via the Kerch Strait. Six sailors were injured and 24 were detained. The Russian Court of Justice jailed some of them for two months. Ukraine has been under the shadow of Russia since the 2014 civil war in Donbass and Luhansk backed by Moscow led to the annexation of Crimea. However, Russia has never directly or officialy attacked Kiev. The recent case was a step further in Russian aggression as Moscow’s officials recognized and justify the attack. For the first time in this conflict, a unit under the Russian flag fired another under the Ukrainian flag, which is official aggression according to Hryhory Perepelytsia, Researcher from the Diplomatic Academy of Kiev and author of many reports on Ukraine’s foreign policy. Russia seems each day more of a threat to Ukraine. Oleksandr Bankov, Ukrainian Ambassador in Romania, reminded the audience that Russia had mobilized several military units in the eastern border of Ukraine, and raised the question of Transnistria as another threat. “Moldova must be blamed for allowing the Russian soldiers and special forces to reach Transnistria by the Chișinău airport,” he said. Therefore, among the regions under martial state are the areas bordering Russia, Crimea and Moldova. The Ukrainian official highlighted the economic consequences of the Russian deeds. The annexation of Crimea and the building of the Crimean bridge led to economic losses for Ukraine. First, because the bridge is too low and deters ships from reaching the Port of Odessa, the largest in Ukraine. Then, because Russia also took control of at least three off-shore platforms. Finally, according to one of the speakers, Russia tries to renegotiate the post-cold war situation, advocating for an outdated understanding of geopolitics, fighting against cooperation promoted by the EU. Russia these days, is looking at how the international community and NATO react. Yet, once more, NATO spoke up loudly against the Russian aggression, but hardly took any significant actions. This was the 3rd conference on this theme organized by Asociația “Ține de Noi”, Fundația Hanns Seidel and Center for Conflict Prevention and Early Warning.

Anatomy of a Russian media escalation | StopFake.org

The latest escalation in the Sea of Azov provides a case study of how Russia’s vast state disinformation apparatus is employed to muddy the waters and curb Western attempts to halt Russian aggression. What we know: Three Ukrainian ships were fired upon and then captured by Russian vessels as the Ukrainians were preparing to transit through the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov on Sunday, November 25. Earlier that day, a Ukrainian tugboat was rammed by a Russian coast guard ship.

American blogger’s Ukraine martial law theory, shared on RT is flawed

On Wednesday, December 5, video blogger Patrick Lancaster appeared on Going Underground, a talk show on RT. The show’s host, Afshin Rattansi, described Lancaster as having been “on the front lines of the British-backed war in Ukraine since 2014.”

 

Ukraine Can Create Its Own Nukes, Former Envoy to NATO Claims – Sputnik International

On December 5, 1994, the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus, the US and the UK signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, which obliged Kiev to give up nuclear weapons. It was followed by the process of Ukraine entering Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).

UAWire – Ukrainian General: Ukraine has unique opportunity to create nuclear weapons

The former Ukrainian envoy to NATO, Major General Petro Garashchuk stated in an interview with Obozrevatel TV that Ukraine has unique capabilities- intellectual, organizational and financial, to create nuclear weapons. “I’ll say it once more. We have the capability to develop and produce our own nuclear weapons,” claims Garashchuk. The General also believes that Kyiv has the capability to create not only nuclear bombs but also full-fledged nuclear warheads for missiles. “Currently, there is no such production facility in the world, such as the one which was built in the former USSR and which is now in independent Ukraine, located in the city of Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk) that can produce these kinds of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Neither the United States, nor Russia, nor China have produced a missile named Satan, said the General. At the same time, in the current situation, Ukraine does not have to worry about international sanctions when creating these nuclear weapons, concluded Garashchuk. The Budapest Memorandum, signed on December 5th, 1994 by the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and Britain, practically became a document that deprived Kyiv of nuclear weapons, after which Ukraine’s accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty began.

” We are not afraid of anything ”: the diplomat spoke about Ukraine’s nuclear weapons

Ukraine has all the necessary capacities, both intellectual and organizational, in order to create its own nuclear weapons. Finding the necessary finances for the state is also not a problem. Such an opinion in the program “Burchuk LIVE” expressed military diplomat Peter Garashchuk. According to him, in Ukraine it is possible to manufacture not only atomic bombs, but also high-grade nuclear warheads for ballistic missiles. “In the world today there is no such plant for the production of intercontinental ballistic missiles, which was in the USSR, and then in independent Ukraine, in Dnieper. Neither the USA, nor China, nor Russia could produce an analogue for the Satan class rocket,” Garashchuk. He stressed that in the conditions of the current Russian aggression, after the violation of the Budapest Memorandum, on the issue of creating nuclear weapons, Ukraine should not be afraid of potential international sanctions. “We are not afraid of anything. Our soldier at the front is not afraid of anything. And the whole system – political, economic and security policy – of our state, must work for our soldier. Not only the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff. This is the whole state is at war!” – summed up the diplomat. As reported by OBOZREVATEL, Ukraine urgently convenes the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum. The purpose of these consultations is to ensure full compliance with the obligations and the immediate cessation of Russia’s aggression.

World War 3: Ukraine could ‘develop nuclear weapons’ says NATO envoy | Daily Star

UKRAINE can create its own nuclear weapons, according to shocking claims made by former Ukrainian envoy to NATO Peter Garashchuk.

 

Ukraine’s Yulia Tymoshenko Courts Washington After Manafort Revelations – WSJ

Ukraine’s controversial former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, once again a leading presidential candidate at home, arrived in Washington this week on a rebranding exercise of sorts.

EU Foreign Ministers to discuss sanctions against Russia over Kerch Strait aggression | UNIAN

On Monday, December 10, the EU Foreign Affairs Council will hold a meeting, dedicated to Russia’s aggressive actions in the Black and Azov Seas and EU’s response to the Kremlin’s moves. The EU Council should also agree on steps to support the Ukrainian Azov Sea coastal region, which has been suffering from the consequences of Russian aggression both on land and at sea. On Monday, December 10, the EU Foreign Affairs Council will hold a meeting, dedicated to Russia’s aggressive actions in the Black and Azov Seas and EU’s response to the Kremlin’s moves. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin will attend the meeting, according to the press service of Ukraine’s foreign ministry. It was the head of European diplomacy, Federica Mogherini, who invited Klimkin to Brussels as the issue of the rising tensions in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov was put on the EU Council meeting agenda.

Ukrainian president speaks out on Russia’s ‘aggression’ – Fox News – YouTube

Fox News Published on Dec 8, 2018 Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks out on recent tensions with Russia on ‘Fox News @ Night.’

UAWire – Putin’s aide Surkov to represent Russia at the Normandy Four meeting

Vladislav Surkov, aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin will represent Russia at the meeting of advisers on international affairs of the Normandy Four leaders, according Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, Interfax reports. “Surkov should represent us,” Peskov said. Earlier, Russia and Germany agreed to resolve the Kerch Crisis through the Normandy format, a diplomatic group of the representatives of four countries: Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and France.

Poroshenko: Major NATO presence in Black Sea, sanctions against Russia, supplies of lethal weapons needed after Russia’s aggression near Kerch Strait

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said that after Russia’s aggression near the Kerch Strait major NATO presence in the Black Sea should be seen, the sanction package against Russia should be introduced, and military and technical upgrades should be done, including lethal weapon supplies for Ukraine. According to a posting on the website of the head of state on Saturday, Poroshenko recalled in an interview with the U.S. Fox News TV channel about the events in the neutral waters of the Blacks Sea on November 25 when 10 Russian military vessels shot at and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and wounded six Ukrainian sailors. Poroshenko said that this is the act of aggression and it aroused the quite strong reaction of the world, in particular, the U.S. president, the European Union, G7, G20 and other officials. But these are statements, these are only words, and in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions it is extremely important for us to also act, he said. For example, first, we need a NATO presence in the Black Sea to prevent Russian troops from occupying the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov region, which is happening now, Poroshenko said. The Ukrainian president said that the Azov package of sanctions is very important, and when he met with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite in Lithuania, Lithuania presented a national package of sanctions over an act of aggression in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait.

Poroshenko urges to ban Russian ships from entering ports of Europe and US – 08.12.2018 13:50 — Ukrinform News

Ukraine adheres to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Ukraine-Russia agreement on the special status of the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, while Russia opposes the entire world by blocking the freedom of navigation in Ukrainian territorial waters.

Poroshenko held phone conversation with new leader of Germany’s CDU – 10.12.2018 13:50 — Ukrinform News

President Petro Poroshenko held a phone conversation with the newly elected chairperson of Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the president&rsquo;s press service reports. “President Petro Poroshenko held a telephone conversation with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, during which the Head of State congratulated her on her election as Head of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union,” reads the report. According to the Presidential Administration, the parties discussed the dynamic development of the political dialogue between Ukraine and Germany. The President also stressed the active role of Germany in finding ways to stop the Russian aggression in Donbas and the Sea of Azov. “Special attention was paid to the issue of the immediate and unconditional release of Ukrainian sailors and political prisoners illegally captured by Russia,” reads the report.

UAWire – President Poroshenko warns of resurgence of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine

The Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, during a working visit to the Lviv region on December 8, said that the resurgence of pro-Russian forces in Ukraine can turn Ukraine’s movement to the European Union and NATO in the opposite direction, reports the head of the state’s press service. “Away from Moscow, Europe now,” Poroshenko recalled the words of the Ukrainian poet, Khvylovy. “Away from Moscow!” is a visa-free regime, the association agreement with the EU, this is Tomos, a strong Ukrainian army, a rejection of Russian gas, return to Ukrainian-language culture, return to our own history, ” noted the president. “This is also my proposal made to the Verkhovna Rada to consolidate the course to the EU and NATO in the Constitution of Ukraine as an inevitable process. Only membership in the EU and NATO irrevocably and finally guarantees our independence from Russia. Unfortunately, this is clearly understood by our enemies. Therefore, they are planning a rematch on the presidential and parliamentary elections in order to block our movement to Europe. And if they are lucky enough, turn Ukraine backwards,” said Poroshenko. He added that “even a short stop on the way to the EU and NATO would automatically mean our return to Russia’s influence.” “To prevent such a scenario is the sacred duty of all Ukrainian patriots. I will do everything possible, but I also count on your support. Because it’s not only the President’s business, it’s a common, all-Ukrainian cause and a common, all-Ukrainian responsibility”, stressed the president.

Poroshenko: Evidence of Russia’s crimes against Ukrainians to be submitted to The Hague – 10.12.2018 12:28 — Ukrinform News

The Russian Federation is fully responsible for the human rights violations in the occupied territories.

UAWire – Ukrainian Army Commander: Russian military threat highest since 2014

The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Victor Muzhenko, believes that Russia is increasing its military presence in the border areas, reports Reuters. Russia is increasing its military presence near the border with Ukraine since August, and now the military threat is the highest since 2014 when Moscow annexed the Crimea. Muzhenko refers to a series of satellite images, which according to him shows the Russian T-62M tanks stationed 18 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. Their number more than doubled from 93 to 250 within two weeks from mid-September to 1 October. Muzhenko sees this as the evidence of a concerted build-up of the Russian military forces prior to November 25, when Russia opened fire and captured three Ukrainian vessels at the Kerch Strait. Kyiv fears that these events can be a precursor to a full-scale invasion. According to Muzhenko, the concentration of Russian troops is at “the highest level” since 2014, when Moscow annexed the Crimea and deployed its forces in eastern Ukraine. “We are facing an aggressor who has no legal, moral or any other limits,” he said. “It is very difficult to predict when it will occur to him to begin active hostilities against Ukraine.”

Ukrainian Navy commander dismisses Russia’s provocation charge | Ukraine News | Al Jazeera

Talking to Al Jazeera, Admiral Ihor Voronchenko says Russia has no right to put captured sailors on trial.

Ukraine says will send naval ships through Kerch Strait soon – ABC News

Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.

Ukraine vows to send naval ships through Kerch Strait soon

Ukraine has ports both on the Black Sea and on the Sea of Azov which are linked by the Kerch Strait that separates Crimea from Russia.

UAWire – Poland: by attacking Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait Russia proves it is part of the conflict

During a discussion regarding the militarization of the Crimea, the Black and Azov Sea, at the OSCE meeting, the Polish Foreign Minister, Jacek Czaputowicz stated that the attack by attacking Ukrainian military ships in the Kerch Strait, Russia had proven that it is a part of the ongoing conflict, Evropeyska Pravda reports. Czaputowicz noted the legal importance of Russia officially recognizing the attack of their military on Ukrainian ships. “Now Russia cannot deny that it is not a part of the conflict. Now they cannot hide behind some kind “green people,” he noted. The Polish Minister also assured that the reasons that Russia used to justify the attack are not convincing. “Russia’s explanation that it has to defend a critical piece of infrastructure, which is an illegally built bridge to the unlawfully annexed Crimea; they can’t be serious,” he said. The US Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell, who also participated in the discussion, recalled that Russia fired on and seized the Ukrainian ships when they were already heading away from the Crimean Bridge and were in international waters. As reported, Mitchell, who heads the US delegation at the OSCE meeting of ministers, also declared at this event that it is unacceptable to blame Kyiv for the Azov crisis, in which Russia is exclusively at fault.

Ukraine, Donbass War update: Signs of escalation | NEWSREP

Russia’s hybrid military forces mounted 24 attacks on Ukrainian Forces positions in the Donbas region in the last 24 hours, with one Ukrainian soldier

Units of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine switched to enhanced duty mode – Units of Ministry of Internal Affairs switch to enhanced mode – 112.international

Units of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine switched to enhanced duty mode

From fiscal drain to economic engine: Case for reforming Ukraine’s energy sector | UNIAN

At this crucial moment of Russian aggression in the Kerch Strait and the five-year anniversary of the Euromaidan Revolution, there is much U.S. policy makers can do to help Ukraine make further progress on its energy reforms. The United States and European allies benefit when Kyiv is a self-reliant, energy-secure Ukraine, capable of standing up to Russian interventionism.

TASS: World – Russian journalists heading for conference barred from entering Ukraine

Entry was denied to senior editor of St. Petersburg-based Fontanka.ru e-newspaper Yulia Nikitina, Moi Rayon correspondent Yelena Vladykina, and a journalist from the Staraya Rus periodical

Pavlo Bukin | Head of Ukroboronprom: Ukraine’s defense industry is adapting to the global security environment | Defense News

 

            In 2014, the international security environment was fundamentally transformed when Russia invaded Ukraine. Moscow’s illegal annexation of Crimea and subsequent hybrid warfare in eastern Ukraine shifted defense postures and relationships across the globe. The Ukrainian army passed a test of strength in the face of Russian military aggression. It has restored combat readiness and begun to qualitatively upgrade its capabilities. In the post-2014 global security environment, the ability of military units to be effective depends to a large extent on combat equipment and the pace of transition to new and upgraded systems. More than ever, it is about more firepower, security, mobility and team management. In this context, Ukraine’s rearmament has been meticulously planned and systematic. This past year has been a pivotal one in this regard. The army of Ukraine now receives new Ukrainian weapons, which are produced serially. These new models of Ukrainian weapons are made by both state and private enterprises, including over a hundred defense enterprises that are part of the Ukroboronprom state concern. Ukroboronprom has transitioned from repairing, modernizing and selling arms and military equipment of Soviet origin to the development of its own weapons systems. Since the emergence of the new global security environment in 2014, Ukraine has managed to stabilize its defense industry and create the conditions for increasing exports.

Ukraine’s “Ukroboronprom” takes 81st place in top-100 major arms producers – 112.international

Russia beats Great Britain in 2017 and took the second place in the world of a weapons sale, as the report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) says. “The total for the SIPRI Top 100 in 2017 is 2.5 per cent higher than in 2016 and represents an increase of 44 per cent since 2002 (the first year for which comparable data is available; figures exclude China). This is the third consecutive year of growth in Top 100 arms sales,” the report reads. The U.S. continue to dominate in the rating. the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute prepares its report using the data of a hundred world’s leading weapons producers, 42 of which are American. Five American major armory industries are in the top-10. Lockheed Martin and Boeing are the largest weapons producers. “Taken together, the arms sales of US companies grew by 2.0 per cent in 2017, to $226.6 billion, which accounted for 57 per cent of total Top 100 arms sales. Five US companies were listed in the top 10 in 2017,” the report says.

US ambassador says US, Ukraine come long way to gender equality | KyivPost

Ukraine has achieved a lot on the way to gender equality, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has said. Speaking on Dec. 8 at the Second Ukrainian Women’s Congress in Kyiv, she said that both America and Ukraine had achieved a lot in the pursuit of gender equality. She said that the first time she was in Ukraine from 2001 to 2004 she mostly dealt only with men. In 2016, when she came back to Ukraine,

Ukraine counterintel exposes ex-defense official spying for Russia | UNIAN

The SBU has exposed a Russian spy who had earlier worked in the ranks of the Ukrainian Air Force, Colonel Serhiy Lazarev. The investigation has confirmed that Lazarev (codename “Socrates”), who is now remanded in custody, has been working for Russia’s GRU military intelligence for three years. The colonel of the Ukrainian Air Forces has been working for Russians for three years. The SBU has exposed a Russian spy who had earlier worked in the ranks of the Ukrainian Air Force, Colonel Serhiy Lazarev. The investigation has confirmed that Lazarev (codename “Socrates”), who is now remanded in custody, has been working for Russia’s GRU military intelligence for three years. Now, Lazarev harbors hope to be exchanged, as he says in an interview with TSN.Tyzhden. The precise volume of data Socrates transferred to Russians via an encrypted communication channel remains unclear. Russian intelligence sought to purchase through their agent Socrates one of the most successful UAV models operating on the Donbas frontline. Several times the drones of this model revealed modern Russian equipment in the occupied Donbas and spotted artillery fire to effectively destroy Russian weapons. “Russian intelligence could be interested in what kind of devices we can build or what world technologies we could borrow,” said Yaroslav Tropinov, a testing operator of unmanned aerial vehicles. The Ukrainian turncoat officer’s curator from the GRU, known to him as Denis Yushin, has severed all contacts with him after GRU apparently learned of the agent’s failure. However, one more communication channel remains. It is via Lazarev’s sister who lives in Russia, who once helped GRU recruit him. “Your president said that Russia is ready to exchange all for all. You try to reach out to Denis,” the agent asked his sister in a phone conversation. The investigation still continues as it was another person who was supposed to smuggle the UAV out of Ukraine once Socrates purchased it. This person is still at large.

Counter-intelligence reveals former Defence Ministry official leaking data to Russia – 112.international

Sergiy Lazarev, a former official of the Defence Ministry, stated that he has been leaking data about the Ukrainian planes to Russian Security Service, as TSN reported. Counterintelligence revealed GRU undercover agent “Sokrat”. He hopes for exchange. Lazarev was recruited in Russia, where he visited his sister. Russians were interested in the secret information of the Ukrainian military aviation, and Lazarev exchanged military secrets for a residence permit in Russia. “Sokrat” was leaking information about Ukraine’s planes to Russia for three years in a row. The amount of the information he shared remains unknown. The laptop the Russian intelligence gave him looks like a cheap computer. But the software it has destroys all the traces of the contacts. “After data transmission, it eliminated the data and the route it followed. We failed to restore its route,” Oleksandr Tkachuk, a cybersecurity expert, says. “Sokrat” slipped up when he expressed interest in the airbase near Kyiv. His operation failed. Now, “Sokrat” is kept in Lukyanivska prison.

Russia’s sanctions-hit Sberbank, VEB winding down business in Ukraine: central bank | Reuters

The Ukrainian subsidiaries of the Russian banks Sberbank and VEB – under sanction, unable to take on new business and legally barred from transferring assets out of Ukraine — appear to be winding down their operations, the head of Ukraine’s central bank said.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: More Ukrainians Back European-Type Reforms than Membership in EU, Study Finds

Paul Goble Staunton, December 8 – Sixty percent of Ukrainians say they believe their country should pursue the reforms that will transform their country into a European one, nine percent more than say they want Ukraine to be taken in as a member, an indication European values are spreading there even though prospects for EU membership remain distant, Ruslan Kermach says. Kermach, an analyst at Kyiv’s Democratic Initiatives Foundation, told a group of visiting Belarusian journalists about this and other ways in which the war in Ukraine has changed the geopolitical consciousness of Ukrainians in rapid and sometimes surprising ways (thinktanks.by/publication/2018/12/05/kak-voyna-izmenila-geopoliticheskoe-soznanie-ukraintsev.html). Russian aggression, he points out, “has not turned Ukraine toward the east.” Instead, it “has stimulated the growth of European integration attitudes,” with ever more Ukrainians wanting to be like Western countries and ever more wanting to join the key Western institutions, the European Union and NATO. Of course. Kermach continues, “one should not forget that the figure of support for European integration of 51 percent is as it were ‘the average temperature in the hospital.’ When we consider the regions, then in the West, support for European reaches 80 percent, in the center, 58 percent, and at the same time both in the east and the south … about a fifth of the population.” But playing upon these differences in the upcoming presidential election campaign is likely to be counterproductive, the analyst says, although he says that pro-Russian groups are likely to support neutrality rather than pro-Russian policies, itself a remarkable shift that has attracted less attention than it should. Another measure of the turn to the west is that a growing share of Ukrainians has a foreign passport and plans to visit EU countries, although on this measure too there are important differences regionally with far more in the west than in the center or the east saying they have passports and plan to travel there. “Only 17 percent” of Ukrainians now tells pollsters that Ukraine should not seek to integrate with Europe; and only seven percent say that the country should instead integrate with the Russian-dominated Eurasian Economic Community. That is the likely size of support for any pro-Russian group. All these changes are the result of the war, Kermach says, an indication that Moscow has produced exactly the opposite effect that it wanted by engaging in military action against Ukraine. Not only are more Ukrainians looking westward now than before, but they are also identifying more closely with their own state as a unified whole. Before 2014, regional and local identities were stronger than this national identity, which was typically at fourth or fifth place. Now, it is national identity that is strongest with the other identities trailing behind.