Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (57)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia plays a propaganda stunt in Venezuela, evidently the prospect of Maduro’s regime collapsing and Venezuela’s debt to Russia not being repaid by a successor regime is not attractive to Muscovy. More Russian reinforcement in the Black Sea. Portnikov on Russia’s defacto sale of the Kuriles back to Japan, and the zombification of the Russian populace. Milin compares the Putin regime to Brezhnev’s Evil Empire. Some excellent observations by Yakovenko, noting that the regime does have an ideology, which is very simple – it has been dubbed as “moral inversion”.

Ukraine quietly launches a political offensive against Russia, championing its ethnic minorities, now under direct assault by the regime with its campaign of Russification – Ukraine was a vested interest as DNA testing has shown that around 20% of “ethnic Russians” are descendents of Ukrainian deportees, prisoners and immigrants, especially in Siberia.

Updates on Nordstream 2, and Butina investigation. France reacts to SBU brief on Russian meddling in unrest, while Russia blameshifts and denies. EU security commissioner King briefs on the Russian Azov Sea propaganda campaign predating the Kerch attack, initiated over a year ago. Tymchuk on the CW attack propaganda campaign. The “Fakescape” game. Warrick and Troianovski on the vast scope of the Russian propaganda effort.

Multiple reports on Azov debate, noting that Carpenter’s argument is validated by King’s briefing.

Poroshenko enacts legislation to kill friendship treaty with Russia. Good brief by Holubeva on the economic damage Russia has inflicted on the Azov Sea ports. AFU GenStaff declares 200,000 reservists available in a contingency, in addition to 250,000 uniformed AFU personnel. Multiple reports on politics and economy, including a peculiar poll in which the public are asked to assess the chance that Russia will invade!

Two Russian Long-Range Bombers Arrive In Venezuela

The bombers’ arrival came just days after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro visited Moscow, seeking Kremlin support for his country, whose economy is in shambles and which is deeply in debt to Ru…

Russia sends 2 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela – ABC News

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

Russia mum after sending 2 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela | Fox News

The Russian government is silent on how long the two nuclear-capable strategic bombers will stay in Venezuela, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decrying the collaboration between “two corrupt governments.”

Two Russian Tu-160 Strategic Bombers Arrive To Venezuela | TIME – YouTube

TIME Published on Dec 10, 2018 A pair of Tu-160 bombers reportedly landed at Maiquetia airport, in Venezuela, on Monday following a more than 6-thousand mile flight.

Russia deploys latest cruise missile corvette in occupied Crimea – media | UNIAN

The latest corvette Orekhovo-Zuyevo armed with Kalibr cruise missiles was accepted for service in the Russian Black Sea Fleet in a solemn ceremony held in the occupied Sevastopol, Crimea, on Monday. The missile corvette Orekhovo-Zuyevo is a multipurpose warship, the seventh in the series of Buyan-M vessels and the second built for the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Russia now second-largest global arms producer, overtaking UK – CNN

Russia’s arms industry has become the second-largest in the world, knocking the UK into third place, according to a new report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Russia becomes world’s second-largest arms producer: analysis | TheHill

Russia was the world’s second-largest arms producer in 2017, behind only the United States, international researchers said Monday.

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.

Russia Will Return Kurile Islands, Should Return Crimea – To Inform is to Influence

Paul Goble reported on a Vitaly Portnikov article which states that Putin or his successor should return Crimea to Ukraine. Portnikov gives examples of the good feelings and benefits from returning two or more Kurile Islands to Japan, seized at the end of World War II.  In the same frame of mind, these are just a…

Crimean Lawyer Released After Serving 5-Day Term For 2013 Social Media Post

Prominent Crimean lawyer Emil Kurbedinov has been released from jail after serving a five-day term.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: 12 Ways Putin’s Russia is Like Brezhnev’s Soviet Union; 10 Ways It Isn’t

Paul Goble Staunton, December 10 – Ever more commentators, especially among the intellectual opposition, are suggesting that Vladimir Putin is restoring an increasing number of features characteristic of Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union, a trend his supporters in some cases welcome and in others deny. Russian blogger Dmitry Milin provides a useful checklist of twelve ways in which the two political systems are similar and ten in which they are fundamentally different ( at 

The 12 ways the two systems resemble one another, he says, include: 

  1. The extreme cynicism of officials and their contempt for all values. 
  2. Widespread corruption 
  3. The existence of dissidents and the regime’s struggle against them 
  4. The increasing tendency of honest and intelligent people to go into “internal emigration” 
  5. Widespread conformism 
  6. A rubber stamp parliament 
  7. Wars abroad 
  8. Economic stagnation 
  9. A large shadow economy 
  10. The forced emigration of scientists and cultural figures 
  11. Brainwashing via television 
  12. State imposition of atheism 

The 10 ways in which they are different are as follows: 

  1. The existence of a market economy and private property now as compared to then 
  2. The war with Ukraine 
  3. Freedom of emigration now 
  4. Free access to the Internet 
  5. Officials can buy property abroad and live there. 
  6. Enormous wealth among officials and their willingness to flaunt it 
  7. Officials can leave the wealth they have stolen to their heirs 
  8. War propaganda is permitted now; it wasn’t in the USSR. 
  9. Officially promoted hostility to scholars, engineers and the value of knowledge. 
  10. Forcible imposition of Orthodoxy

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putinism a Greater Threat to Humanity than Anything the West has Faced Before, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 10 – Speaking to the Forum of Free Russia in Vilnius, Igor Yakovenko says that “over its many thousand years of history, humanity has not once been faced with any challenge and mortal threat comparable to the Putin regime,” a regime that exploits the strengths of Western countries against themselves. The Putin regime, the Russian commentator says, is “a new threat” that is especially dangerous because few know how to describe or classify it, preferring instead like old generals to use terms from the past even though “not one of them” is appropriate for describing the state Putin has put in place ( The Putin regime has no ideology. “We know the ideology of communism, Nazism, fascism and liberalism.” But try to imagine a book with the title “Putinism.” “Inside it, you would find only blank pages.” The Kremlin leader uses whatever seems to work for whatever aggression he is carrying out at the time, unconstrained by any ideological principles. Because that is so, Yakovenko continues, it is vitally important to convene an international tribunal to make clear what Putin and his regime are about, a tribunal that in the nature of things will combine both the arrangements of the Nuremburg trials of the Nazi leadership and the Russell-Sartre intellectual tribunal of Western crimes. On the one hand, the tribunal will include mostly non-governmental experts and activists, he says; but on the other, it will be able to define the nature of the Putin system and its crimes and thus involve governments to take actions against them in order to defend the values that inform Western countries. The tribunal should focus on three categories of crimes by Putin and his entourage: the usurpation of power, the war against Ukraine, the war in Syria, and crimes in the information sphere including but not limited to the subversion of the electoral process in Western countries, Yakovenko says. In each case, it will become obvious that Putinism does not fit into any of the categories Western analysts typically use for it. Instead, “it speculates on the values of the civilization of the West and uses them in the ways a parasite does against a host. In this it resembles international terrorism.” Today, the commentator continues, the Putin regime is able to maintain itself because “world public opinion and in the heads of world leaders there exists a false picture of the world,” one which talks about the importance of Russia rather than the criminal nature of the Putin regime. A tribunal even with limited powers can help change that. “Our task,” Yakovenko says, “with the help of an open public process, is to show the entire world the falseness” of the picture people have of Russia and to “show that Putin’s gas and oil are toxic and that with their help Putin corrupts Europe, America and the entire world and that to deal with Putin and his appointees is to bring the world closer to catastrophe.”

China, Russia, and the greater morality of American realism

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping’s comfort with Venezuela’s dystopia encapsulates their utter disinterest in basic human interests. But that speaks to something broader: the contrast between Russia and China’s foreign policy doctrine, and that of America, is defining.

Ukrainian Parliament discusses situation of native peoples of Russia – 11.12.2018 10:56 — Ukrinform News

The event gathered members of the Ukrainian parliament, diplomats, scientists, human rights advocates and political emigrants from Russia. Activists of Free Idel-Ural civic movement presented special lectures about the political situation in the republics of Idel-Ural (rus. Povolzhye). Round table participants noted systematic violations of civic, national, religious and political rights of representatives of native peoples in Russia, pursuit and intimidation of civic activists for not being loyal enough to authorities. “In 2017, on the initiative of President Putin, a large-scale campaign was organized in order to squeeze national languages out of the system of school education. The State Duma (parliament) of the Russian Federation made amendments to federal law “On Education,” and nowadays study of official languages in national republics became optional. Under the guise of educational reform we have a reduction of teachers able to teach mother tongues of native peoples. Conditions for artificial depreciation of the status of official languages are being created in national republics,” comments Syres Boliayen, co-founder of Free Idel-Ural movement. National movements activists, pursued in Russia for their political beliefs, were named during the discussion. Free Idel-Ural activists paid special attention to the case of Tatar activist Danis Safarghali, acknowledged by human rights organizations as a political prisoner. Facts of obstruction of activity of such organizations as “Botentatar ictimagi Uzage,” “Azatlyk” and “Basqort” were also reported to the audience. Rafis Kashapov, political refugee from Tatarstan, who served three years in Russian prison for condemnation of Crimea annexation, addressed round table participants via Internet from London, where he received political asylum from the British government. Kashapov thanked Ukrainian politicians and scientists for their attention to problems of native peoples in Russia and wished speedy liberation to Ukrainian military seaman in Russian captivity. Some 60 persons participated in the event, Ukrainian MPs Refat Chubarov, Borys Tarasiuk, Ihor Lutsenko and Serhiy Vysotsky among them. Hanna Hopko, chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs, reported that at the next sessions of international organizations Ukrainian delegates will raise the question of oppression of rights of native peoples in Russia. Refat Chubarov appealed to his colleagues with the initiative to form an inter-factional group in the Ukrainian parliament, which will engage in defense of rights for the native peoples in the Russian Federation.

UAWire – UK ratifies Kremlin-linked oligarch blacklist

The British government has made and approved a blacklist of oligarchs close to the Kremlin whose freedom of movement in the UK and the rest of Europe will be restricted. The list, which was recently signed by British Prime Minister Theresa May, includes Rosneft executive chairman Igor Sechin, Evraz co-owner Arkadiy Abramovich, MegaFon primary shareholder Alisher Usmanov, Rusal owner Oleg Deripaska, as well as the brothers Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, who have all amassed wealth from Russian government contracts during Vladimir Putin’s presidency. The document will be circulated among the government organs of the UK and of London’s allies in Europe and North America, high-ranking British officials told The Telegraph. According to one of the officials, the freedom of movement of the blacklisted Russians will be restricted in the UK, Europe and “anywhere else”. “These people have been identified as having extremely close professional and financial ties to President Vladimir Putin. We assume that they support the Kremlin in a whole range of areas, including using their financial capabilities in the interests of the Russian government,” the official explained. The steps taken against the blacklisted Russians will constitute an important part of London’s response to the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury earlier this year, he noted.

U.S. Diplomat Warns Russia Will Use Gas Pipeline To Tighten Grip On Europe

The comments were the latest push by U.S. officials to try and persuade European leaders to block or modify the pipeline deal. A top U.S. energy diplomat has warned that Russia wants to increase leverage over Europe and its grip over Ukraine, using the proposed Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea. The comments on December 10 by Francis Fannon, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for energy resources, were the latest push by U.S. officials to try and persuade European leaders to block or modify the pipeline deal. Nord Stream 2 would bring Russian gas directly to Western Europe and bypass the existing networks running through Ukraine. Leaders of some of the largest industries in Germany and elsewhere have backed the pipeline as a way to diversify gas supplies.

Russia gas pipeline to boost grip on Ukraine, Europe: U.S. diplomat – media | UNIAN

Russia is seeking to boost its power in Europe and grip over Ukraine with the proposed Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, the top U.S. energy diplomat said on Monday, in a step-up of Washington’s rhetoric against the pipeline. The pipeline has been opposed both by President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, as a political tool for Russia to consolidate power over Europe.

Nord Stream 2: Is Europe aware of the Russian noose? | UNIAN

The incident with the seizure of Russian Ukrainian naval boats in the Kerch Strait raised another wave of opposition to the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine. The first country to voice a categorical statement was the United States who called on European countries to finally stop supporting the Gazprom project, set to link the Russian coast with Germany via the Baltic Sea, while leaving the Ukrainian gas transmission system with nothing. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the Black Sea has raised to another level in the international arena the issue of the construction of the Nord Stream-2, the Kremlin’s noose for the European Union. European officials have already submitted to Parliament a resolution on halting support for the Russian project, but it is only scheduled to be heard in March. UNIAN figured out what Ukraine should expect from a Europe that is constantly “in doubt.”

Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina changes plea in conspiracy case – Business Insider

Alleged Russian agent Maria Butina is suspected of trying to infiltrate the NRA and influence US policy toward Russia.

Maria Butina, accused Russian agent, reaches plea deal with prosecutors that includes cooperation – ABC News

Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist who stands accused developing a covert influence operation in the United States, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy.

Maria Butina, accused Russian spy cooperating with federal prosecutors as part of plea deal – CNNPolitics

Butina is accused of trying to infiltrate Republican political circles and party leaders during the 2016 campaign in order to advance Russian interests,

Woman Accused By U.S. Of Working As Russian Agent May Plead Guilty

A Russian woman accused of working as a foreign agent in the United States has reached a deal to plead guilty, a court filing by her lawyers indicated on December 10.

Russian spy Butina cooperating with U.S. prosecutors as part of plea deal | UNIAN

Maria Butina, an accused Russian spy who nuzzled up to the National Rifle Association before the 2016 election, has begun cooperating with federal prosecutors after agreeing to a plea deal in recent days, according to a source familiar with the matter. “We should let them express their gratitude now, we will put pressure on them quietly later,” she wrote to her handler after setting up for NRA officials a meeting with powerful Russian officials in December 2015.

Russia denies meddling in France’s ‘Yellow vest’ protests – The Local

The Kremlin on Monday denied involvement in the “yellow vest” protests that have rocked France, after reports that Russia-linked social media accounts are waging a campaign to encourage unrest.

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Kremlin slams rumors about Russia’s alleged involvement in France’s Yellow Vests

Peskov also pointed out that Russia respected France’s sovereignty

Kremlin claims “not involved” in organizing protests in France | UNIAN

Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov has called “slander” reports on Russia’s involvement in organizing protests in France, stating respect for the sovereignty of this country. Russia “respects the sovereignty of France” and is grateful when the French side reciprocates in this regard, according to Peskov.

Gilets Jaunes: US Calling the Shots While France Searches for ‘Russian Meddling’ – Sputnik International

Moscow has dismissed France’s probe into alleged Russian meddling in the yellow vest protests, calling the allegations “pure slander.” Meanwhile, an anxious Paris has also asked its US allies to stay out of its internal affairs. Sputnik contributor Ivan Danilov explains who or what really stands behind the ‘spontaneous’ protest movement.

France to Probe Possible Russian Influence on Yellow Vest Riots – Bloomberg

Among 600 Twitter accounts known to promote Kremlin views, the top hashtag now is #giletsjaunes, the French name for the so-called Yellow Vests protest movement, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a unit of the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. that monitors those accounts and other pro-Kremlin activity.

France Investigates Possible Russian Influence on Yellow Vest Riots

France opened a probe into possible Russian interference behind the country’s Yellow Vest protests, after reports that social-media accounts linked to Moscow have increasingly targeted the movement. According to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, about 600 Twitter accounts known to promote Kremlin views have begun focusing on France, boosting their use of the hashtag #giletsjaunes, the French name for the Yellow Vest movement. French security services are looking at the situation, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Sunday in a radio interview with RTL. Russia has been criticized for using social media to influence elections in the U.S. and elsewhere. Attempts to use fake news reports and cyberattacks to undercut the 2017 campaign of French President Emmanuel Macron failed, but Russian-linked sites have pushed questionable reports of a mutiny among police, and of officers’ support for the protests. “An investigation is now underway,” Le Drian said. “I will not make comments before the investigation has brought conclusions.” The Twitter accounts monitored by the alliance usually feature U.S. or British news. But the French protests “have been at or near the top” of their activity for at least a week, according to Bret Schafer, the alliance’s Washington-based social media analyst. “That’s a pretty strong indication that there is interest in amplifying the conflict” for audiences outside France.

UAWire – Media: France looking into Russia’s involvement in the organization of ‘Yellow vest’ protests

Interfax-Ukraine quoting an issue of “Eco” reports that the French government is researching multiple messages by the media about Russia’s involvement in organizing protests by the “Yellow vest,” however, no conclusions have been made yet. Eco notes that this issue is being dealt with by the Secretariat-General for National Defense and Security, which is reporting to the Prime Minister, Edouard Phillipe. The investigation began due to reports of numerous fake accounts in social networks that were used to express support for demonstrators. On November 17th, protests broke out in France against the rise in the price of fuel. In Paris, protestors erected barricades, burned cars, smashed store windows, and are clashing with law enforcement officers and groups of other protesters. There are dozens injured, and the number of detained exceeds 1.5 thousand people. On December 4th, the Elysee Palace decided to introduce a moratorium on increase fuel taxes. However, the protesters were not satisfied with this decision, expanded the list of requirements to 40 points and refused to stop actions. They demand across-the-board tax cuts, higher wages, and pensions.

France opens probe into possible Russian interference behind “yellow vest” protests – media | UNIAN

France opened a probe into possible Russian interference behind the country’s Yellow Vest protests, after reports that social-media accounts linked to Moscow have increasingly targeted the movement. About 600 Twitter accounts known to promote Kremlin views have begun focusing on France.

UAWire – Ukrainian Security Service accuses Russia of organizing protests in France

Russian intelligence may have organized the protests in France, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said in a post on Facebook. As evidence, the SBU cites a photograph from Paris showing two men in yellow jackets (a defining characteristic of protesters against the increase in petrol tax) holding the flag of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. According to the SBU, the people in the photo are none other than Sorlin Fabris, a member of the Katehon think tank (which is chaired by the Russian politician Konstantin Malofeev) and Xavier Moro, a Russian citizen since 2013 who belongs to the public organization “East France – Solidarity Donbas”. The SBU believes that these “right-wing radicals” are operating in France under the supervision of Russia’s FSB and GRU. “Behind the back of world protesters, they are resorting to organizing riots and acts of violence in France. The Russian intelligence agency could organize similar provocations in Belgium, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria and other European countries,” the SBU warned.

Russia ‘paved way for Ukraine ship seizures with fake news drive’ | World news | The Guardian

The Kremlin launched a year-long disinformation campaign to soften up public opinion before its recent seizure of three Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Sea of Azov, the EU’s security commissioner has alleged. Julian King said Russia had paved the way for its decision to fire on and board two artillery ships and a tug boat through the dissemination of fake news. The false claims, said to have been spread for “more than a year”, included that Ukraine had infected the sea with cholera and that its secret services had been trying to transport a nuclear bomb to occupied Crimea, the British commissioner said. King said the European commission’s East StratCom unit, responsible for highlighting disinformation, had discovered a complicated web of untruths emanating from Russian sources. “If you thought that incident came out of nowhere, you would be wrong,” King told an audience in Brussels. “The disinformation campaign began much earlier, more than a year ago, when Russian media started pushing claims that the authorities in Kiev were dredging the seabed in the Sea of Azov in preparation for a Nato fleet to take up residence. “Then in the summer there were claims that Ukraine had infected the sea with cholera,” King added. “This was followed up in September with dark mutterings in the Russia media forecasting ‘west-inspired provocations’ on the Azov Sea shore, and reporting that the US has been ‘planning for clashes between Ukrainian and Russian naval forces in the Black Sea since the 1990s’.”

The Guardian: Russia ‘paved way for Ukraine ship seizures with fake news drive’ | UNIAN

The Kremlin launched a year-long disinformation campaign to soften up public opinion before its recent seizure of three Ukrainian ships and their crews in the Sea of Azov, the EU’s security commissioner has alleged. Last week the European commission announced it would set up a rapid alert system to help EU member states recognise disinformation campaigns.

Kremlin started spreading fake news a year before Kerch Strait incident to mitigate public response, EU commissioner says

11.12.18 12:25 – Kremlin started spreading fake news a year before Kerch Strait incident to mitigate public response, EU commissioner says EU Security Commissioner Julian King said Russia had paved the way for its decision to fire on and board two artillery ships and a tug boat through the dissemination of fake news. View news.

Kremlin’s persistent claim of “expected chemical attack by Ukraine Armed Forces in Donbas” worrying – MP | UNIAN

Moscow’s persistence in claiming that Ukraine is plotting a chemical attack in the occupied Donbas raises serious concerns, says Ukrainian MP Dmytro Tymchuk, who is also a coordinator of the Information Resistance OSINT group. The deputy draws parallels with the latest Russian provocation involving chemical weapons in Syria’s Aleppo. Moscow’s persistence in claiming that Ukraine is plotting a chemical attack in the occupied Donbas raises serious concerns, says Ukrainian MP Dmytro Tymchuk, who is also a coordinator of the Information Resistance OSINT group. Even more worrying is the timing of Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova revisiting the issue on the eve of the two major events that will take place in December this year – the holding of the Unification Council for the creation of the United Local Orthodox Church in Ukraine and consideration by the UN General Assembly of the draft resolution on militarization of the occupied Crimea and Sevastopol, as well as parts of the Black and Azov Seas, Tymchuk wrote on Facebook. The deputy briefly recalls the way Russia legalized its “information” about the “upcoming chemical attack.” On November 22, “DPR intel” reported that “a group of British military experts arrived to participate in a chemical attack in the north of ‘DPR’ arrived in Artemivsk, the town in Donetsk region controlled by Ukraine forces. On November 26, a statement was made by Russian ambassador to the OSCE, A. Lukashevich, that the Ukrainian Armed Forces “are preparing a provocation with the use of chemical weapons in Donbas.” On December 5, at a briefing of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Zakharova told the same thing, adding: “Such actions can lead to civilian casualties and contradict not only the Minsk Agreements, but also international agreements on the prohibition and restriction of weapons of mass destruction…” Read alsoEnvironmental hazard: Donbas militants burying Russian radioactive waste

Fakescape: Czech Game Fights ‘Fake News’

Czech students have developed a game to teach teenagers how to distinguish between reliable sources and disinformation. It’s being played at schools across the country, as part of wider efforts to combat “fake news.”

Agents of doubt: How a powerful Russian propaganda machine chips away at Western notions of truth – To Inform is to Influence

Russia spends $1.3 billion per year telling disinformation, propaganda, lies, fake news, distortions, deceptions, and muddying the truth. The United States doesn’t spend nearly that much telling the truth. Guess who has more impact? </end editorial> Joby Warrick and Anton Troianovski, The Washington Post  Published 8:56 am PST, Monday, December 10, 2018 SALISBURY, England – The initial…

Agents of doubt: How a powerful Russian propaganda machine chips away at Western notions of truth – SFGate

SALISBURY, England – The initial plan was a Cold War classic – brutal yet simple. Two Russian agents would slip onto the property of a turncoat spy in Britain and daub his front door with a rare military-grade poison designed to produce an agonizing and untraceable death. But when the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal was botched, the mission quickly shifted. Within hours, according to British and U.S. officials who closely followed the events, a very different kind of intelligence operation was underway, this one involving scores of operatives and accomplices and a scheme straight out of the Kremlin’s 21st-century communications playbook – the construction of an elaborate fog machine to make the initial crime disappear.

Ex-U.S. foreign policy advisor says Russia’s attack on Ukrainian boats was ‘pre-planned ambush’ | UNIAN

Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council Michael Carpenter, who served in the White House as a foreign policy advisor to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden as well as on the National Security Council as Director for Russia, says that Russia’s attack on three Ukrainian vessels near the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea on November 25 was a pre-planned ambush. Russia’s FSB reportedly instructed the Kerch Maritime Authority not to reply to the Ukrainian request for passage until the FSB boats were positioned to attack.

Russia seeking to transform Azov Sea into “internal lake” – MEP | UNIAN

MEP Michael Gahler in his report said Russia sought to transform the Sea of Azov into a Russian “internal lake” and exclusive military zone. The European Parliament also demands the immediate and unconditional release of all Ukrainian vessels and sailors. MEP Michael Gahler in his report said Russia sought to transform the Sea of Azov into a Russian “internal lake” and exclusive military zone. “The European Parliament expresses serious concern that this may constitute a creeping attempt to annex Ukraine’s sovereign rights in the Sea of Azov with the aim of transforming it into a Russian ‘internal lake’ and exclusive military zone, and to put a stranglehold on the economy of south-east Ukraine,” he said in a report with amendments ahead of the voting for a resolution on the EU-Ukraine Association Implementation. “The European Parliament strongly condemns the deliberate act of aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine on November 25 in the Kerch Strait, demands the immediate and unconditional release of all Ukrainian vessels and sailors, who in the meantime should be treated as prisoners of war, calls on the EU and its Member States to introduce targeted sanctions if the Ukrainian servicemen are not released and if there is any further military escalation, underlines that there is no justification for such use of military might by Russia,” the report says.

Merkel calls on Putin to free 24 captive Ukrainian sailors | UNIAN

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to free 24 Ukrainian sailors who were captured near the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea on November 25. The main subject of the conversation was the situation in the Kerch Strait.

UAWire – Ukrainian Foreign Minister to discuss the Azov Sea crisis with the EU Council

On December 10, 2018, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin will attend a working meeting in Brussels, during which he will discuss with the Foreign Ministers of the EU countries the escalation of the situation in the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, RBC-Ukraine reported, citing the press service of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. The possible escalation of the Kerch Strait situation has been added to the EU Council’s meeting agenda on foreign affairs. Klimkin will visit Brussels at the invitation of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini.

EU Blacklists Nine People Over Ukraine Separatist Vote

The European Union has blacklisted nine individuals involved in the organization of last month’s elections in the areas controlled by Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Poroshenko Signs Law Terminating Ukrainian-Russian Friendship Treaty

President Petro Poroshenko has signed into law a bill to terminate Ukraine’s friendship treaty with Russia.

Law on termination of Ukraine-Russia friendship treaty published in parliament newspaper – 11.12.2018 12:43 — Ukrinform News

The law &quot;On termination of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation&rdquo; has been published in the Ukrainian parliament’s Holos Ukrainy newspaper.

Poroshenko enacts law on termination of Ukraine-Russia friendship deal | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed bill No. 0206 “On the Termination of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation.” The move is the result of Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine.

Poroshenko demands FM complete inventory of treaty framework with Russian Federation

President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine has demanded the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry complete its work on compiling an inventory of the treaty and agreement framework with the Russian Federation, a statement on the website of the Ukrainian head of states says.

Over 80 Russian lawyers ready to defend 24 captive Ukrainian sailors | UNIAN

Russian lawyer Nikolay Polozov says that more than 80 Russian lawyers are ready to defend 24 captive Ukrainian sailors in court in Russia. Over 30 lawyers have been shortlisted.

Olena Holubeva | Russia is doing everything to close Ukraine’s Azov ports – How Russian aggression and martial law strike Ukraine’s ports in Sea of Azov –

If Ukraine fails to defend its position in the Sea of Azov and Russia finally closes it for the passage of foreign ships to Ukraine, the existence of Berdyansk and Mariupol ports will be questionable. After the Russian ships attacked the Ukrainian boats near the Kerch Strait and introducing martial law in Ukraine, freight rates for the ships sailing to the Azov ports of Ukraine’s Berdyansk and Mariupol have increased significantly. The main consignors of the two ports have already experienced this: grain traders and metallurgists. We have found out that large companies are preparing to redirect their cargo flows to the Black Sea ports. If the situation does not change and Ukraine fails to unlock the Azov direction, the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol might even cease to exist, experts assure The situation in the Sea of Azov hits the Ukrainian ports After Russia captured Ukrainian ships and sailors at the entrance to the Kerch Strait and then introduced martial law in Ukraine, the freight rates on ships sailing to the ports of the Sea of Azov have significantly increased. This was due to an increase in insurance payments, which are components of the transport tariff, said Captain Vyacheslav Kislovsky, general director of the Association of Crewing Companies All-Ukrainian Association. According to information received from shipowners’ representatives, the freight rates for vessels traveling to the ports of Ukraine in the Sea of Azov increased by 20–30% after martial law was introduced, Maksym Streletsky, head of the external communications and marketing department of the Seaport Administration, confirmed it to the agency. In addition, the shipowners began to shift all costs associated with regular downtime of ships in the Kerch-Yenikalya Canal to charterers, Streletsky said. According to the State Border Service, as of the morning of December 7, more than 140 vessels, 98 of which came from the Black Sea, were kept in the anchorages and raids, waiting for passage through the Kerch Strait. At the end of November, the number of ships in the Kerch Strait was over 400. In the first days of December, the situation stabilized somewhat, and their number dropped to 105, but in recent days it has increased again. The State Border Service noted that Russia deliberately continues to violate the provisions of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait of 2003, so Ukrainian and foreign merchant ships are forced to wait for a long time. Interestingly, interference is created precisely by those merchant ships that are sent to the Ukrainian ports. The Ukrainian trade ports on the Azov Sea (Mariupol and Berdyansk) have been losing cargo flows since 2014, Maksym Streletsky noted: “Three main factors affected the transshipment in the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol. Military operations in Donbas led to a significant reduction in the cargo base at the expense of enterprises, caught in the uncontrolled territory, as well as deterioration of logistics in the region, as a result, some shippers were unable to deliver their cargoes to the port of Mariupol. Construction of the Kerch bridge in 2017 complicated navigation in the Kerch Strait and created additional restrictions on the size of vessels that can pass under the arch of the bridge. Therefore, Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov cannot now accept Panamax-class vessels, previously used to export products of Ukrainian enterprises to Latin America and South-East Asia. Finally, from April 2018, unreasonable inspections and delays of vessels sailing to and from the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk through the Kerch Strait began.” Another negative factor affecting cargo traffic in the ports of the Sea of Azov, was that since the beginning of the Russian aggression they were cut off from suppliers in the north of the country, Andriy Isaev, senior consultant of the Center for Transport Strategies, claims. According to him, cumulatively, the transshipment base of the two ports fell from the pre-war 17.7 million tons of cargo in 2013 to the current 9-10 million tons per year.

Ukraine starts preparing for Sea Breeze 2019 – 11.12.2018 14:05 — Ukrinform News

A preparatory conference for the Ukrainian-U.S. Sea Breeze 2019 exercises has started in Kyiv, the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has reported, with reference to the director of the exercise from the Ukrainian side, Deputy Commander of the Ukrainian Navy Oleksandr Neizhpapa.

Owners of ships that blocked Kerch Strait do business in Ukraine – media investigation | UNIAN

Owners of ships that blocked the passage of Ukrainian vessels through the Kerch Strait do business in Ukraine, according to an investigation by InformNapalm. The Neyma tanker and tug boats Bystry, Gandvik and Eltigen were used in blocking the passage near the bridge’s arc, InformNapalm reports. All vessels are owned by the company Yuvas-Trans, whose founders are Yaroslav Anatolyovych Narodytsky (65%), Anatoliy Leonydovych Narodytsky (25%), and Oleh Volodymyrovych Vasenko (10%). All three reside in Kerch (Russia-occupied Crimea). The Narodytsky brothers are also founders of many companies in Russia and Ukraine. InformNapalm claims that Yuvans-Trans is engaged in smuggling, systematically violating the sanctions regime against the occupied Crimea. Read more on UNIAN:

Vessels involved in preventing Ukrainian ships from passing through Kerch Strait belong to persons running business in Ukraine, – InformNapalm. PHOTOS

11.12.18 11:43 – Vessels involved in preventing Ukrainian ships from passing through Kerch Strait belong to persons running business in Ukraine, – InformNapalm. PHOTOS The Neyma tanker and tug boats Bystryi, Gandvik and Eltigen, which were deployed near the Kerch Strait bridge’s arc to block the passage of Ukrainian ships, belong to individuals doing business in Ukraine. View news.

Ukraine reports 12 enemy attacks in Donbas in past 24 hours | UNIAN

Russian-led forces mounted 12 attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, in the last 24 hours. The Ukrainian Army reported no casualties in the past day.

UAWire – After the introduction of martial law Ukraine banned entry to 900 Russians

Since the introduction of martial law in Ukraine, 900 citizens of Russia were banned from visiting Ukraine, stated Andriy Demchenko, the head of …

Operational reserve of Ukraine’s Armed Forces more than 200,000, most ready to report for duty

The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces has said its operational reserve is more than 200,000 with the overwhelming majority of reservists ready and willing to arrive at military units in the event of open aggression by the enemy. “Today, the operational reserve of the first line is more than 200,000 people, of which the overwhelming majority, according to the results of sociological surveys, have expressed readiness to arrive in their military units in the event of open aggression by the enemy,” Deputy Chief of the General Staff Artur Artemenko said on December 10 in Kyiv. He noted the positive trend of members of the volunteer military to report to their military units, adding that reservists and military servicemen with combat experience have also been notified.

Over 17,000 citizens drafted into Ukrainian army in 2018 – General Staff – 11.12.2018 11:05 — Ukrinform News

Over 17,000 people have been drafted into the Ukrainian army in 2018, which is 98% of the plan.

“Over 17,000 conscripts drafted into Ukrainian army, 98 percent of planned number,”- Defense Ministry on recent draft

11.12.18 13:51 – “Over 17,000 conscripts drafted into Ukrainian army, 98 percent of planned number,”- Defense Ministry on recent draft Conscription for compulsory military service has been almost completed in Ukraine. View news.

General Staff slams manhunt for conscripts – news portal

General Staff slams manhunt for conscripts. “Conscription targets have been met in full. We are not short of resources.” Political – news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Russian army may set up another “Ilovaisk pocket” in Ukraine, expert warns | UNIAN

Military columnist and expert with the Information Resistance OSINT community, Yuriy Karin, has said Russia, to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, may set up another “Ilovaisk pocket.” The expert referred to the tragic events of the Battle of Ilovaisk (2014) where Vladimir Putin promised to allow retreat of the besieged Ukrainian soldiers through the so-called “humanitarian corridor,” but this turned into a major trap where Ukrainian convoy was ambushed and the Ukrainian army suffered significant losses. Such special operations are particularly relevant on the eve of elections – both presidential and parliamentary, the expert said in an interview to Fakty.

Ukraine police to receive Airbus H145 helicopters with modern avionics – Minister | UNIAN

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says Ukraine will receive Airbus H145 helicopters for police operations with modern avionics. The minister inspected the assembly of H145 helicopters for Ukraine at a Munich plant.

PM Groysman: Ukraine-Israel FTA talks completed – 11.12.2018 12:30 — Ukrinform News

Ukraine and Israel have already completed the talks and get ready to sign a free trade agreement in the near future.

Environmental Performance Index: Ukraine leader among post-Soviet states | UNIAN

Ukraine is the leader among the post-Soviet states in the global 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), according to a study by German environmental organizations Germanwatch and NewClimate Institute. The world’s best performing states are Sweden, Morocco, and Lithuania.

Russia puts on Interpol wanted list Ukrainian national who prosecutors claim is Pavlo Hryb’s accomplice | UNIAN

Interpol has put on its wanted list on Russia’s warrant a 20-year-old citizen of Ukraine Stefan Kapinos, who the prosecutors claim is an accomplice of Pavlo Hryb, a Ukrainian national who is being tried in Russia on trumped up charges of “abetting terrorism.” Kapinos allegedly taught Hryb how to make improvised explosive devices.

UAWire – Kyiv: Ukraine has to pay 12 billion dollars to foreign lenders

The Head of the National Bank, Yakiv Smolii stated in an interview with Vox Ukraine that the Ukrainian government will have to pay about $12 …

Poll ahead of forthcoming presidential race shows Tymoshenko, Zelenskyi, Poroshenko, Liashko, Boiko as top candidates

11.12.18 13:35 – Poll ahead of forthcoming presidential race shows Tymoshenko, Zelenskyi, Poroshenko, Liashko, Boiko as top candidates A poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology shows Yulia Tymoshenko, leader of the Batkivschyna party, has been taking the lead in the presidential ratings, with showman Volodymyr Zelenskyi coming second and the incumbent… View news.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Most Ukrainians Oppose Special Status for Donbass But Some Ready to Offer Some Autonomy, New Poll Shows

Paul Goble Staunton, December 10 – The majority of Ukrainians remain against giving special status to the Donbass as Moscow demands but over the last year, an ever larger share are prepared to consider expanding autonomy for the region along with others, something the Donbass once brought back under Ukrainian control would presumably benefit from as well. That is the finding of a new poll by Berlin’s Center for East European and International Studies ( and reported by Deutsche Welle (исследование-большинство-украинцев-отвергают-идею-особого-статуса-донбасса/a-46621373). According to the poll, the share of Ukrainians favoring a return to the status quo ante as far as the center’s control over the Donbass is concerned fell from 59 percent last year to 53 percent this, while the share backing more autonomy to the region once it is back under Ukrainian control rose from 3.9 percent to 6.6 percent. Last year, the Berlin center found, only 16 percent were ready to offer autonomy of any kind to the Donbass. This year, that figure had risen to 25 percent. Four other results of the poll are noteworthy: · The share of Ukrainians opposed to including the US in talks about the Donbass crisis rose from 15 percent a year ago to 25 percent this year, while 72 percent said that they supported the introduction of UN peacekeepers as a means of resolving the dispute with Russia. (That question was not asked in 2017.) · Ukrainians increasingly identify as members of a civic nation rather than an ethnic one. Last year, 37 percent said they were part of a civic nation; now 49 percent do. Over the same period those identifying primarily as ethnic Ukrainians fell from 46 percent to 36.9 percent. · The share of Ukrainians saying that Ukrainian is their native language fell from 67 percent last year to 58 percent this, with those identifying Russian as that language rising from 13 percent to 19 percent, reflecting more willingness to identify Russian in this way and also in response to government efforts to exclude Russian from many aspects of life. · Ever more Ukrainians say they have friends in the EU, 31 percent this year as opposed to 24 percent in 2017, a reflection of travel and also a statement in support of the idea that Ukraine is part of Europe and not part of Eurasia.

Ukrainians assess likelihood of full-scale ground invasion by Russian forces (Poll) | UNIAN

Some 22% of Ukrainians estimate the likelihood of a full-scale ground military invasion of Russia into Ukraine as high, 29% think it is “average,” while 17% consider it low. Only every fifth respondent believes there is no threat, while every tenth has not come up with a clear answer. Some 22% of Ukrainians estimate the likelihood of a full-scale ground military invasion of Russia into Ukraine as high, 29% think it is “average,” while 17% consider it low. Respondents in the west and the center of the country most tend to believe that the threat is the highest, while those thinking it is unlikely mostly live the south and east, according to a survey conducted by the Rating sociological group, an UNIAN correspondent has reported. Only every fifth respondent believes there is no threat, while every tenth has not decided.

Ukraine’s Security Service confirms Russian citizenship of wife of Foreign Intelligence Service’s Deputy Head –

Counterintelligence of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) confirms the Russian citizenship of common-law wife of First Deputy Head of Foreign Intelligence Service Serhy Semochko as Ukrainian News reported citing the materials of the court. Thus, the Chief Investigative Department of SBU investigates the criminal proceeding opened due to the state treason since October 16. The case was opened due to the application of the chair of the board of public organization “TOM14” dated October 4 which stated that the journalist established the fact, which can be indicative of the connection of First Deputy Head of Foreign Intelligence Service with the foreign state-aggressor the Russian Federation through the family. And this state can finance the mentioned official to get the information from him. According to the information of the Counterintelligence Department of SBU dated October 26, the common-law wife of Semochko and her daughter have the Russian citizenship. Due to this, the investigation applied to the court to get an access to the information about the phone talks of Semochko and his relatives. The court granted the application and provided the access to the information about the phone talks of First Deputy Head of Foreign Intelligence Service Semochko, his wife and daughter since January 1, 2014 up to November 23, 2018 to the SBU. Particularly, the investigation got the access to the documents, which contain the information on the duration, content, routes of the transmission of the telecommunications services and to the detailed information about the owners of the phone numbers, dates, time and duration of the incoming and outgoing phone connections; date, time of incoming and outgoing messages; data about the use of IMEI-terminals and IP-addresses and GPRS-traffic.