Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (58)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting

Russia is already setting the stage for offensive operations in Donbas, declaring Ukraine is about to attack. Russia can say their attack on Donbas and Ukraine is pre-emptive. Our job should be to point this out, loudly, clearly, and often.

Rossia-24 report about a fake robot is being widely ridiculed, when the “robot” turned out to be a man in costume. 

Update: I have been assured that Russia did not transfer two TU-160 bombers to Venezuela, it’s a problem with translation.  The word should be deployed 

</end editorial>



Russia’s Venezuelan strategic bomber propaganda stunt might be working in Russia, but appears to be producing more blowback than effect elsewhere. Russians alleging a Ukrainian offensive in Donbas shortly, suggesting a Russian offensive may be imminent. Golts comments on the extremely unstable dynamic of the “New Cold War” resulting from Putin’s conventional weakness and propensity to rely on nuclear threats when he is unable to hold his ground.  Nezavisimaya gazeta on the regime’s loss of credibility inside Russia. Russia makes unfounded allegations on the treatment of Ms Butina. Russians jail an alleged “Ukrainian spy”. Cylance on the fuzzy boundaries between Russian organised crime and state behaviours. Four excellent digests by Prof Goble on Russia’s internal meltdown. Russia’s fake robot publicity stunt.

European Parliament makes multiple resolutions, on Ukraine, Azov Sea, Nordstream 2, producing complaints from Muscovy, while the EU commits to provide aid to Eastern Ukrainian regions impacted by the Azov blockade, nullifying one of the major strategic objectives of the Russian campaign. Tymchuk on Russia’s involvement in the “Gilets jaunes” radical movement in France. HoR in Congress makes resolution on Nordstream 2, and recognises the the Soviet Holodomor of 1932-1933 as a genocide of the Ukrainian people. Six analysis essays, and one Ukraine-bashing commentary.

Pres Poroshenko visits Brussels and meets with EU and NATO leadership.

Ukraine bails from CIS Intelligence Services Cooperation Agreement of 1992, and the Protocol on Cooperation with the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation. Ukrainian media on Fox interview. Updates on Kerch, Crimea and Donbas. JFO releases video showing an S-300PS / SA-10B shoot and scoot AD EX, practicing against Ukrainian AF fighters. Political and economic media reports.


UAWire – Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers fly over Caribbean Sea with Venezuelan F-16 fighter jets

The two Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers which arrived in Venezuela earlier this week have made a roughly 10-hour flight over the Caribbean Sea, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday evening. The Defense Ministry’s report notes that the Tu-160 missile carriers were accompanied at certain stages of the route by Su-30 fighters as well as F-16s from the Venezuelan Air Force. During the flights, pilots from both countries practiced cooperating in the air. The Russian military department emphasizes that the flight was made “in strict compliance with the international rules for airspace use”. News that Russia was transferring two Tu-160 strategic bombers to Venezuela came out on Monday. The Russian Defense Ministry also announced that an An-124 Ruslan heavy military transport plane and a long-range Il-62 plane were being sent to the Latin American country. The Russian aircraft flew through airspace over the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Barents, Norwegian and Caribbean seas, a total distance in excess of 10,000 km. The planes were supposedly transferred in order to carry out “military exercises”. The relocation of the Russian military aircraft to the South American continent has caught the attention of the US. The Washington Free Beacon, citing anonymous sources in the Pentagon, called the transfer of the Tu-160s a “provocative flight”, and noted that Washington will be closely monitoring the movement of the Russian strategic planes “in view of their capability to fire cruise missiles with nuclear warheads at American targets”. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented later, calling the transfer of the Tu-160s to Venezuela a “squandering of state funds”. The Kremlin responded that this statement was “undiplomatic” and a “serious accusation”. “Especially, perhaps, to make such statements in a country where half of its defense budget could feed all of Africa, but also, perhaps, it is not quite appropriate,” remarked Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

Russian Bombers Spark Diplomatic Dogfight

After two Russian warplanes landed in Venezuela, the United States accused the two countries of “squelching liberty.” The Kremlin called the comments “completely inappropriate.”

Russia sends bombers to Venezuela and then balks at Mike Pompeo’s response to Tu-160 nuclear-capable planes presence – CBS News

Mike Pompeo sent an angry tweet in response to the arrival of the pair of Russian Tu-160 nuclear-capable bombers

Kremlin scoffs at US criticism of bombers in Venezuela – ABC News

Russia sent 2 Tu-160 nuclear-capable bombers to Venezuela on Monday.

US-Russian spat over bombers landing in Venezuela – BBC News

Two Russian bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons land in Venezuela, angering US officials.

U.S. reacted strongly to deployment Russian strategic bombers to Venezuela – Defence Blog

United States officials have reacted strongly to the deployment Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers to Venezuela. Pentagon officials said two Russian heavy strategic bombers — Tupolev TU-160 Blackjacks, which can fly at supersonic speeds — are in Venezuela, along with all of the required maintenance and refueling capabilities. The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has condemned the Moscow decision to send two Tupolev TU-160 Blackjacks heavy strategic bombers to Venezuela. “Russia’s government has sent bombers halfway around the world to Venezuela. The Russian and Venezuelan people should see this for what it is: two corrupt governments squandering public funds, and squelching liberty and freedom while their people suffer,” – Mike Pompeo said. According to Reuters, the Kremlin on Tuesday rejected U.S. criticism of Russian military flights to Venezuela, saying it had been inappropriate and wrong for U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to condemn the flight of two nuclear-capable strategic bombers to Caracas. Also, U.S. Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, adde that in this time U.S. medical personnel aboard the hospital ship USNS Comfort have thus far treated more than 20,000 civilians, and performed more than 600 surgeries in several Central and South American nations. A number of people who were treated are refugees from Venezuela who fled to neighboring nations, Manning said. “Contrast this with Russia, whose approach to the man-made disaster in Venezuela is to send strategic bomber aircraft instead of humanitarian assistance,” he said. “The Venezuelan government should be focusing on providing humanitarian assistance and aid to lessen the suffering of its people, and not on Russian warplanes.” “This is medical aid that civilians would not otherwise have access to,” he added. “Their presence speaks to how we see being a neighbor in the Western Hemisphere and how we see the importance of providing humanitarian assistance to those that otherwise would not have it.” The Venezuelan health care system is all but collapsed and can’t provide aid to its citizens, Manning said. “We stand with the Venezuelan citizen during their time of need,” he told reporters. “That’s what the symbol of the Comfort means.”

OAS Expresses ‘Greatest Concern’ Over Arrival Of Russian Military Planes In Venezuela

The Organization of American States (OAS) has expressed the “greatest concern” about the arrival of nuclear-capable Russian aircraft in Venezuela.

Satellite photos reveal Russian bombers in Venezuela

These two satellite photos, provided by DigitalGlobe, show four Russian military aircraft in Venezuela.

This reporter got way too close to a Russian bomber as it landed – Business Insider

Watch a reporter venture out onto the runway and get way too close to a Russian nuclear-capable bomber as it touches down in Venezuela.

Pentagon knocks Russia’s bomber deployment to Venezuela amid economic turmoil

The Pentagon knocked the recent Russian deployment of warplanes to Venezuela amid the oil-rich nation’s economic crisis.

Kyiv prepares offensive in Donbas with access to Russian borders, – Russia’s Foreign Ministry – 112.international

Spokeswoman of Russia’s Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova claimed that “Ukraine prepares armed provocation at the contact line in Donbas for rapid offensive on Mariupol direction with the access to the border with Russia” as Interfax reported. “According to the present information, in the next few days Kyiv is going to arrange the armed provocation at the contact line in order, using martial law, which is also imposed in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, to organize the rapid offensive on Mariupol directon to seize (the occupied territories of Donbas,- 112.international) the territories of Azov region and access to the border with Russia,” Zakharova said. Related: Russia built Crimean Bridge to close Sea of Azov for Ukraine According to her, “it is planned to use the focused military grouping for the fulfillment of the military tasks; it was reinforced by forces and hardware by the Armed Forces of Ukraine during a few past months”. “Only in the period of time from December 1 until December 7, the OSCE observers spotted 190 units of the heavy weapons and hardware banned by the Minsk Agreements beyond established storages,” Zakharova stated.

Paul Gregory | Putin’s latest Ukraine stunt may blow up in his face | TheHill

Putin himself, not Germany, reopened the NS2 debate with his blocking the Sea of Azov, seizing Ukrainian naval vessels and charging Ukrainian navy men with criminal acts.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: New Cold War Could Go Hot Far Easier than the Old One, Golts Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 12 – There are many ways in which the new Cold War between Russia and the West is different from the old one, but for a variety of reasons, it has a far greater potential to go hot and lead to Armageddon than its predecessor, according to independent Russian security analyst Aleksandr Golts. “A direct military standoff between Russia and the West today is an indisputable fact,” he says. “It is taking place along the entire perimeter” of Russia, as a result of disputes between Russia and its neighbors into which “inevitably” are being drawn “not only individual Western countries but the North Atlantic alliance as a whole” (openmedia.io/exclusive/chem-grozit-novaya-xolodnaya-vojna/). In response, Moscow has sent strategic bombers to Venezuela, something that has revived the memory of Khrushchev’s placement of Soviet rockets in Cuba in 1962. In short, Golts says, “Russia and the West are already repeating the confrontational stereotypes of behavior well-known from the history of the Cold War.” But what is disturbing is that “such escapades can become much more dangerous than in the 1970s and 1980s when the participants of the standoff were quite clear in their understanding of ‘the red lines’ which must not be crossed.” Then, for example, “the unleashing of war on the European continent was an obvious tabu.” “Now, however, the sides are moving decisively to free themselves not only from unwritten rules but also from longstanding agreements which allowed for the control of military activity,” such as the American withdrawal from the agreement restricting the use of short- and intermediate-range rockets. One can take no comfort from the fact that in the new cold war there won’t be the mass armies of the earlier one. That is because “the very same factors” which threatened to turn that conflict into a hot one continue despite that and other differences – and many of the differences make a hot war more likely, the military analyst argues. “If the earlier Cold War was called forth by the conflict of two socio-political systems, then the present one is the result of the conflict of the West’s actions today as understood by Vladimir Putin, an understanding which is shared by a majority of Russians as to how the world is organized. And this is something more than a prejudice; it is a completely clear ideology.” According to Golts, “this world has only an indirect relationship to reality. This is the world of Realpolitik,” not the refined kind represented by Henry Kissinger, with its balance of interests but rather “the simple, if not primitive Realpolitik of Bismarck, Metternich and … Stalin.” This in Putin’s mind and the mind of most Russians is the world of Yalta, a world in which “the militarily weaker countries … are condemned to be subordinate to the great powers. It is no accident that in his desire to control European states, the Russian leader periodically speaks about their ‘limited sovereignty.’” Putin is convinced that “any popular movement is the result of a conspiracy of foreign intelligence services.” That is how he views the Maidan in Ukraine and that is why he has responded “in his own way.” “To resolve such a conflict by diplomacy is impossible,” Golts says. “Putin will never believe Western ‘counter-partners’ if the latter seek to explain to him that the times when Churchill and Stalin redrew the borders of other countries according to their visions has passed and will not return.” He will view any such explanations as “hypocrisy” or worse. At the same time, the analyst continues, Russia today doesn’t have the resources the Soviet Union did in the first Cold War. In fact, it doesn’t have any allies either. It has an aging population and cannot field a large army. It has a weak economy. And it cannot maintain a military buildup for long periods of time. It has only one means of restraining the West: “a gigantic nuclear arsenal.” And consequently, “during crises, the Kremlin will carry out a forced nuclear rearmament.” But having nuclear weapons “does not give Putin the weight he wants” for the resolution of world problems. “The only means of transforming this nuclear potential into a political instrument is to show the West that in the Kremlin there sit not completely adequate people” but rather those who “are capable of ‘pushing the button’ not just in response to nuclear aggression.” “Being much weaker than its potential opponent, the Kremlin is condemned to act in a maximally adventurist fashion, constantly raising the stakes and balancing on the edge of military confrontation,” Golts says. “In such circumstances, any incident … can end in catastrophe,” one that will destroy the planet. Another difference from the first Cold War also makes this one more dangerous, Golts says. “Soviet leaders who ruled the country after Stalin … had passed through a horrific war and really feared it.” That acted as a constraint. But “the current leader evidently does not recognize how his unending game of raising the threat of the use of nuclear weapons could end.” Thus, Golts argues, there are two possible scenarios: “the completely horrific” and “the very bad.” The first would involve a direct military conflict with the West that would lead to the mass exchange of nuclear weapons. The second to “a return to the state of constant military confrontation with an arms race that will exhaust the economy” of Russia. Consequently, he says, “today it is time to recall the positive experience of the previous confrontation of Russia and the West. This experience is called peaceful coexistence.” And that requires sitting down at the negotiating table and “beginning work on new agreements and new means of establishing trust.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians No Longer Simply Accept Kremlin Argument that Clash with West was Inevitable, ‘Nezavisimaya gazeta’ Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 11 – In the last few months, Russians have stopped accepting the Kremlin’s argument that a clash with the West was inevitable and have begun to question why Moscow has adopted the policies that are isolating Russia and leading to an increasingly hurtful sanctions regime, according to the editors of Moscow’s Nezavisimaya gazeta. Until recently, most Russians had accepted the Kremlin’s suggestion that Russia is not and cannot be isolated, that the Crimean Anschluss was “not a cause but an occasion for sanction pressure,” and that Russia is in “a state of quasi-war with the West” because such a war was “inevitable” (ng.ru/editorial/2018-12-10/2_7459_red.html). That argument, for those who accepted it, also meant that changing the supreme commander in such circumstances was “neither necessary nor timely” and therefore Putin must remain in power for as long as necessary, a period that extends ever further into the future because of the requirements of “the rhetoric of confrontation with the West.” For most of the last four years, the editors say, Russians did accept it; bu9t “after the presidential elections, one could observe if not a change of the social-political paradigm then at the very least a change of accents in ways that were far from always controlled by the powers that be” or supporting its claims. “One can say,” they continue, “that the focus began to shift after the government announced the pension reform and the raising of the VAT. During the presidential campaign, these measures had not been announced. The September elections in the regions generated the interest of citizens and were dominated by a social-economic agenda.” At the end of fall, the editors argue, the rise in prices for gas became a serious issue. This was hardly the first such jump in gas prices, but now, as things turned out, citizens are ready to discuss the problem more concreted and specifically than earlier.” And that has political consequences for the Kremlin. That is because “almost for the first time in the last 18 years, the economy is beginning to rise to first place in political discussions. And from this will come a change in attitudes toward sanctions. The rhetoric of war is ceasing to be a subject of interest. Instead, of interest are actions intended either to end Russia’s isolation or to overcome the consequences of foreign limitations.”

TASS: World – Poroshenko has no chances to win Ukraine’s 2019 presidential election, poll shows

The survey covered an audience of 2,000 respondents in Ukraine’s 110 cities and communities

VoxUkraine: How Russian ‘Troll factory’ tried to effect on Ukraine’s agenda | KyivPost

VoxUkraine analyzed over 755 000 tweets that are connected with Russian “Internet Research Agency” and found the evidence of multiple mud-slinging. How is Russian propaganda working?

Russian government claims accused spy Maria Butina was ‘tortured’ in US custody, but doesn’t provide any evidence – CNN

The Russian government alleged in an exclusive interview that Maria Butina, who had cultivated connections with the National Rifle Association before the 2016 US election, was “tortured” while in US custody.

Putin Says He Only Heard Of Alleged Agent Butina After Her Arrest

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he had never heard of a woman who is accused of working as an unregistered foreign agent in the United States until her July arrest.

UAWire – Putin expresses sympathy for Russian agent Butina detained in the US

At a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin commented on the case of the Russian woman Maria Butina arrested in the USA. According to Putin, Russian special services do not know anything about her. “But this girl Butina, how unfortunate, she is in prison, she faces 15 years. For what?” stated the Russian President. He added that after he heard about Butina’s arrest, he asked Russian special services leaders about her. “Who is she? Nobody knows anything about her at all,” he stressed. According to Putin, the only thing known about Butina is that “she worked as a deputy for someone in the Federation Council.” “She might receive a 15-year prison term. What’s that about? I don’t know what else they will come up with or what they will add to these 15 years,” added Putin.

Maria Butina’s boyfriend claimed he set up Trump-Russia NRA “conduit” as campaign funds flowed | Salon.com

Republican operative Paul Erickson claimed in an email he’d set up a private Russia-GOP channel through the NRA

Democrats signal growing interest in examining ties between NRA, Russia | TheHill

House Democrats are signaling a growing interest in examining possible ties between the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Russia during the 2016 election amid news that an alleged Russian agent with ties to the gun rights lobbying group is

Former Russian Navy Officer Sentenced To 14 Years On Charge Of Spying For Ukraine

Retired Russian navy officer Leonid Parkhomenko has been sentenced to 14 years in prison after a military tribunal in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don found him guilty of passing classified documents to Ukrainian intelligence. The North Caucasus Regional Military Court on December 11 also stripped Parkhomenko of his military rank. Parkhomenko was detained in 2016 in the port of Sevastopol on Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula that was annexed by Russia in 2014. He used to serve as an officer in Russia’s naval fleet based in Sevastopol. Investigators say Parkhomenko collected classified information about Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and handed it to Ukraine in return for money between 2003-05. The Federal Security Service (FSB) said Parkhomenko was receiving orders from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. After annexing Crimea in March 2014, Russia has provided military, political, and economic support to separatists in eastern Ukraine. The conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine has claimed more than 10,300 lives since April 2014.

Russia’s New Arctic Drones Are Built to Spot Ships – Defense One

Its maker says the two aircraft can ID vessels approaching oil and gas facilities from 100 kilometers away.

Russia: Online Criminal Behavior May Be Mistaken For State Espionage [Poking the Bear: Three-Year Campaign Targets Russian Critical Infrastructure] – To Inform is to Influence

This well researched and documented article [by Cylance] shows a criminal behavior, using virtually identical websites to Russian critical infrastructure, continuously changes targets, and uses many techniques which make it almost indistinguishable from state and state-sponsored cyber efforts. I include only the introduction here, it is well worth reading the entire article online. But wait, this article is all about cyber, that is, unless you’re familiar with Russian “corporations”. I turned to the article for one thing, and found something else… What really seized my attention, beside the cyber aspect, was the “privatization” of Rosneft. The article doesn’t fully expand on that topic, so I did some digging. In the article it mentions 20% of Russia’s largest publicly-held oil company was being privatized, purchased by two entities. To me this screams of corruption within Rosneft. I found this, from May 2018. Just eight months after announcing its “privatization” sale to Glencore and a Qatari sovereign wealth fund, one of them jumped ship. Over the weekend, the Chinese company that Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin was touting as Glencore’s replacement followed suit. They’re out too. Six Months After ‘Privatization’ Sale, Russia’s Rosneft Loses Two Big Buyers Allegedly Rosneft needed the cash to pay off debts. There is a little issue of trust. Nobody trusts Rosneft, everybody seems to believe it’s corrupt. This is why the Glencore-Qatari consortium folded. Part of that distrust also stems from US sanctions against Russia, the two buyers possibly did not want to run counter to them and be targeted by the US. By the way, Rosneft President and Chairman of the Management Board Igor Sechin is allegedly the second most powerful man in Russia. That indicates how much Russia depends on oil income. Returning to the cyber aspect, the article is really good! </end editorial>

US, Ukrainian tanks fight through mud and rain during war games – News – Stripes

Troops and tanks from Texas and choppers from Colorado fought a mock battle in a freezing, muddy German forest on Tuesday, alongside units from 15 allies and partner nations, including Ukraine.

In a Message to Russia, Ukraine Invites U.S. Air Force Overflight | War Is Boring

The U.S. Air Force deployed a surveillance plane to Ukraine on an “extraordinary” mission apparently to inspect Russian forces, the U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 6, 2018. A four-engine OC-135 carried observers from the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Romania and the United Kingdom, according to the State Department.

Test Validates New US Interceptor for European, Japanese Missile Shields – Defense One

In a first, an SM-3 shot down an intermediate-range ballistic target.

Russian test of missile fails at Kapustin Yar – Defence Blog

At least one newest Russian made missile launched at Kapustin Yar range failed during a launch test. On 10 December, in social media was released a video, which included footages that confirmed it one Russian missile to have failed shortly after launch. Video shot on the ground by firefighting units shows unknown missile apparently failed, with flaming debris falling to the ground. The missile was launched from the Kapustin Yar rocket launch and development site in Astrakhan Oblast, between Volgograd and Astrakhan near the town of Znamensk. It is hard to determine the exact date and test location. The type of missile is still being assessed. According to Lenta.ru, the launches took place on Sunday, December 9, at the Kapustin Yar. It is assumed that it was S-300 surface-to-air defense missile. Kapustin Yar – rocket military range in the north-western part of the Astrakhan region. Official name: 4th State Central Interdepartmental Test Site of the Russian Federation (4 GPC). Not only strategic missiles began their journey here at the test site, but also operational tactical complexes, as well as missile systems for the Air Defense Forces, including the famous S-300 complex. At the present time, tests of the newest intercontinental ballistic missile test and interceptor missiles, are being completed at the test site.

Russian Federal News Agency, The Russian Troll Farm, And Yevgeny Prigozhin – To Inform is to Influence

I cannot agree with the characterization that Yevgeny Prigozhin is Russia’s “disinformation chief”. I believe that Prigozhin finances the Russian Troll Farm in St. Petersburg and runs the Wagner PMC, but there is direct evidence of a more central information center overseen by Vladislov Surkov, which provides Temniki or guidance sheets to places like the Russian Troll Farm, as well as to media outlets all over Russia. Surkov oversees the entire Russian information warfare machine, coordinating, synchronizing, and directing organizations like RT, Sputnik, RIA Novosti, which are State-sponsored and State-controlled entities. The Russian Troll Farm is clearly separate from state-sponsored and state-controlled entities but is included in the Temniki distribution. Besides this relatively minor point, this is one of the best comprehensive views of FAN, the Russian troll farm, their methods, and examples of their work in recent years. A point of clarification is in order, as well. The Russian Federal News Agency, or FAN, is not an official Russian organization. It is just a name, like National News, or US News and World Report. </end editorial>

‘Altered Beyond Recognition’: Solzhenitsyn Came Home To A Different Country In 1994

In 1994, Nobel literature laureate and former gulag prisoner Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn came back to Russia after two decades in exile in the West. RFE/RL correspondent Steve Gutterman recalls the writ…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Russian Society’s Development Ever More in Conflict with Russian State’s Degradation,’ Sociologist Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 11 – Russian society is developing in ways that ever more frequently bring it into conflict with the degradation of the Russian state, sociologist Ella Paneyakh says. Up to now, the state has had the advantage but that is beginning to change with society more often able to win out against state interference. The St. Petersburg Higher School of Economics scholar says that these trends “may lead to an escalation of repression and the further tightening of the screws,” but they may also lead to “’a thaw,’” depending on which side wins out more often during the coming months (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/174514). And that highlights something few have been willing to acknowledge the full implications of, Paneyakh says: “The enemy of the authorities now does not consist of dissidents and human rights defenders but rather the very milieu in which easy coordination and mobilization of people who do not know one another has become possible.” Defeating that development, she continues, would require actions that would destroy far more than the regime wants to destroy. And the situation from the state’s perspective is only going to get worse given that ever more people are being swept up into this new communications revolution that the regime has promoted even though it fears the results. “Those who were apolitical yesterday massively go to the polls, having discovered the chance to oppose the outsiders the Kremlin has imposed in the second round: the public in the Internet, which yesterday hardly engaged in charity, in the course of a few days collects millions to cover the fine against The New Times, and the arrest of a well-known rapper” mobilizes millions more. According to Paneyakh, “tension is growing from two sides. “On the one hand, the government is increasing its pressure on society.” But on the other, while the regime is focusing on the conventional political opposition, parents of school children and other groups outside of politics in the past are becoming political. “People living in Russia have become less ready to tolerate injustice and arrogance deployed against their interests” and are using social media to mobilize and take action. That and not some group of opposition figures is the real threat to the powers that be in Putin’s Russia at present, the sociologist continues. “The post-Crimea mobilization ‘around the flag’ has exhausted its potential,” and ever more people are displaying the attitudes which powered the protests of 2011-2012. “While the regime struggles with Navalny and the network of his supporters,” the internet in all its forms has changed the population and its ability to respond. The problem for the powers that be, Paneyakh says, is that this infrastructure “is not the infrastructure of specific protest but the infrastructure of contemporary society and its economy as well.” Going after that to kill off protests will damage more than just the protester and that leaves the regime with few good choices. Nearly ever second Russian now has an account in social networks. Two out of three go to YouTube at least once a week; and any attack on their possibilities will redound against those who attack them because it will harm “the economy directly and the quality of life of all, both loyal and disloyal, as well as the future development of the country.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Nationalist Says Non-Russian Republics with Ethnic Russian Majorities Must be Disbanded While Others Must be Supported

Paul Goble Staunton, December 11 – A Russian nationalist has floated an idea that is superficially “democratic” but fundamentally imperialist and therefore remarkably like those hybrid ideas Vladimir Putin prefers. He says all non-Russian republics in which ethnic Russians form a majority must be disbanded while those with non-Russian majorities must be respected. Vladimir Basmanov, head of the Nation and Freedom Committee and secretary of the Central Organizing Committee for the Russian March, says that would be a democratic solution to the current intolerable situation because it would recognize the rights of the majority to run its own affairs in the federal subjects (idelreal.org/a/29608844.html). Under the terms of his proposal, the following non-Russian republics would be disbanded and their territories and populations amalgamated with neighboring predominantly ethnic Russian areas: Adygeya, Altai, Buryatia, Karelia, Khakassia, Komi, Mordvinia and Udmurtia. The other non-Russian republics would gain more state support and more autonomy. Basmanov is a frequent and harsh critic of Putin, but his idea is worthy of note because it is something that Putin might very well adopt in order to restart his currently stalled program to amalgamate the federal subjects, especially because its ostensibly democratic features would make it more difficult for democrats to criticize. But while it would be superficially democratic, such a program would in fact be profoundly imperialist, destroying the only protections some of these ethnic groups have and calling into the question the existence of other non-Russian republics as populations change or as the standard of “democracy” is applied. At the very least, radically multi-ethnic republics like Daghestan and all remaining bi-national republics (Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachayevo-Cherkessia) would be at risk as would those where the non-titular nationalities form a majority even if no one of them does as is the case in Bashkortostan. As such, Basmanov’s notion is worth keeping in mind because it is entirely possible that Putin or those close to him will pick up on it in the coming months, allowing the Kremlin leader to pick up support among some Russian nationalists by giving them something tangible as a result of coming down hard against the increasingly embattled non-Russians.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia Lacks Sufficient Jail Space to House All Siloviki Convicted of Crimes, Official Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 11 – Despite the fact that most Russian officials get away with any number of crimes, Russian penal system officials say that they currently lack enough jail space to house all those in the judicial and force structures who have been charged and convicted, despite having opened two new camps for such official convicts in the last year alone. On the one hand, many Russians may see this report as an indication that the regime is finally trying to impose some kind of order on “the bad boyars;” but on the other, far more are likely to see this as another example of official actions for show and as evidence of rampant criminality in the Putin regime. Lt.Gen. Valery Maksimenko, the deputy head of the Russian penal system says that the influx of ever more officials who have been convicted of crimes has overwhelmed the capacity of Russia’s jails, prisons and camps, forcing his institution to “open ever more new ones” (versia.ru/v-rossii-katastroficheski-ne-xvataet-mest-zaklyucheniya-dlya-policejskix-i-deputatov). Versiya commentator Vladimir Pozharsky says Maksimenko’s announcement raises aserious questions such as “why do we in the country organize special zones” for such people? Aren’t they criminals like everyone else in the system? Why should they be treated any differently? Or protected from the anger of those they put away in their earlier lives? And perhaps most importantly: how far is the current regime prepared to go to protect these officials who have been convicted of crimes? Are there to be special camps for prosecutors? Others for investigators? And still others for policemen? What becomes of the slogan that “before the law all are equal” if this goes on? But behind all of these is an even larger one, although it is one Pozharsky is careful not to raise even in his critical article: what kind of a system do Russians live in where such questions once raised are not addressed and where ever more people in power consider it their right to have one set of rules for the powerful and another for everyone else?

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Making Same Mistake with Non-Russians Alexander III Did, Venediktov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 12 – With its push to make non-Russians learn Russian but not have the chance to learn their own, the Putin regime is repeating the mistakes the last tsars did, mistakes that mobilized all the non-Russians against them and contributed to the revolutions of the early 20th century, according to Aleksey Venediktov, the editor in chief of Ekho Moskvy. And the Kremlin is making these mistakes at a time when the non-Russians and especially the Muslims are increasing in number and commitment to their faith. As a result of the center’s policies, the national minorities and republics are becoming “’the main threat’ to Russia” (esquire.ru/hero/74212-aleksey-venediktov-lyudi-kotorye-otnosyatsya-k-sebe-so-zverinoy-sereznostyu-vedut-stranu-k-gibeli/#part7 and idelreal.org/a/29650666.html). About two years ago, he told Sergey Minayev of the Russian version of Esquire, a senior law enforcement official said to him the following, Venediktov continues. “Do you know how quickly they are building mosques in the Middle Volga? Do you now that only young people go there?” while in Russia only “grandmothers in kerchiefs” go to church. As a result, the editor said, he can easily imagine the formation of a large state, “Volga Bulgaria” in the Middle Volga region. “The main thing,” he argued, “is current administration’s struggle against national languages is a mistake. I have said this publicly. For people this is a very sensitive issue. Remember 1917: the policy of Aleksandr III toward languages led 20 years later to a revolution which was supported by all national minorities in the country.” “They saw in Russian imperialism a threat to their culture. And the very same thing happened in the 1990s,” Venediktov suggested. For better or worse, Vladimir Putin “always was an imperialist and not a nationalist.” There is “a big difference” between the two. I too am an imperialist and a conservative; therefore, I understand him very well. I have always said that nationalism – Russian, Jewish, Tatar – could break up Russia.” “We ourselves demand from the Latvians: ‘Guys! Russians who live with you must have the chance to study in Russian.’ At the same time, they must know Latvian, the state language. The same thing, we are demanding from Ukrainians. Why do we ourselves take a different position in our own country? That is where the chief threat lies.”

Diplomats from Baltic states discuss counteraction to Russian propaganda. Photos – 13.12.2018 14:54 — Ukrinform News

In Mariupol, the representatives of the embassies of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in Ukraine have discussed the joint counteraction to Russian propaganda and outlined the areas of cultural cooperation.

Man Or Machine? Story On ‘Robot’ At Russian Youth Forum Breaks Down

Russian state TV has come in for ridicule after failing to report that a robot at a high-tech career forum was nothing more than a man in costume.

Robot turns out to be man in suit – BBC News

A robot has featured on Russian TV but turns out to be a man in a suit.

‘Hi-tech robot’ at Russia forum turns out to be man in suit | World news | The Guardian

State television praised the ‘modern’ tech despite photos revealing actor in costume

Russia Criticizes U.S., EU Calls To Block Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

Russia has rejected renewed U.S. and European calls to block the Moscow-backed Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline project under the Baltic Sea.

Mogherini welcomes success of Ukrainian reforms, draws attention to remaining numerous problems | KyivPost

Ukraine over the past five years, despite the extremely difficult conditions, has implemented a number of very important reforms, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini said at a meeting of the European Parliament dedicated to the implementation of the EU-Ukraine association agreement. At the same time, she dwelt on the numerous problems facing Ukraine, which were not resolved in the process of implementing the reforms. According to her, the fight against corruption remains a serious issue. Brussels is waiting for an anti-corruption court to become a reality. Anti-corruption bodies should be independent, not subject to political pressure. The same, Mogherini added,

European Parliament calls on Russia to free Ukrainian sailors, political prisoners | UNIAN

The European Parliament has called on the Russian Federation to free the Ukrainian sailors captured near the Kerch Strait on November 25 and all Ukrainian political prisoners, in particular, illegally convicted film director Oleh Sentsov. “There should be sanctions if this does not happen.”

European Parliament To Award Sakharov Prize To Ukrainian Director Sentsov

The European Parliament is scheduled to award imprisoned Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov with its 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

‘Sentsov has won,’ cousin tells Sakharov Prize ceremony – media (Video) | UNIAN

The European Parliament has awarded imprisoned Ukrainian film director Oleh Sentsov its 2018 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. Sentsov’s absence at the Strasbourg ceremony was marked by an empty chair at the center of the plenary session.

European Parliament calls on EU to close access to EU ports for Russian ships from Azov | UNIAN

The European Parliament has called on the European Union to close access to EU ports for Russian ships coming from the Sea of Azov. Members of the European Parliament also urged Russia to free 24 captive Ukrainian sailors.

EU to support Ukraine while no new sanctions on Russia expected over Azov Sea – media | UNIAN

European Union leaders will offer Ukraine help for its regions affected by Russia’s actions in the Azov Sea when they meet on Thursday (December 13), but no new sanctions on Russia will be imposed. There is no consensus in the European Union on imposing new sanctions against Russia over its aggressive actions in the Sea of Azov.

European Parliament condemns construction of Nord Stream 2 – 112.international

EP condemns Nord Stream 2, urges to cancel project

Poroshenko welcomes adoption of European Parliament resolution on implementation of Association Agreement – 13.12.2018 10:48 — Ukrinform News

A European Parliament report on the state of implementation of the Association Agreement with Ukraine testifies to steadfast support for Ukraine in its struggle for a European choice and the result of an unprecedented level of relations between Ukraine and the EU, President Petro Poroshenko has reported on Facebook.

MEPs pass resolution stiffening sanctions on Russia over aggression in Kerch Strait

13.12.18 13:25 – MEPs pass resolution stiffening sanctions on Russia over aggression in Kerch Strait The European Parliament called on the European Union to impose stronger sanctions on the Russian Federation if the captured Ukrainian sailors are not released and if there is any further military escalation. View news.

EU to offer assistance to Ukrainian regions affected by Russia’s actions in Azov Sea – media – 13.12.2018 12:42 — Ukrinform News

The EU leaders will offer Ukraine help for its regions affected by Russia&rsquo;s actions in the Sea of Azov, but no new sanctions on Russia will be imposed.

Pompeo: US works closely with Europe in responding to Russian aggression in Kerch Strait area – 13.12.2018 10:49 — Ukrinform News

The current US administration works closely with European partners to effectively respond to Russian aggression in the Kerch Strait area.

Morawiecki: Poland and its partners looking for tools of pressure on Russia – 13.12.2018 11:35 — Ukrinform News

Warsaw maintains a constant contact with the international partners to develop effective tools of pressure on Moscow in view of its aggressive actions in Ukraine.

UAWire – Putin to appoint a new chief of military intelligence

Russian President Vladimir Putin will appoint a new Chief of Military Intelligence instead of the recently deceased Igor Korobov. Russian President Vladimir Putin will appoint a new Chief of Military Intelligence instead of the recently deceased Igor Korobov. According to several Russian media outlets, the successor will become Vice-Admiral Igor Kostyukov, who after the death of Korobov, served as the head of the main intelligence directorate of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. As reported by the newspaper Kommersant, Kostyukov was born on February 21, 1961, in the Amur region of Russia. He received a naval education. Later he graduated from the Military-Diplomatic Academy. After graduating from the academy, he served as a military attaché, then in the GRU (Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation). As one of the military intelligence leaders, he was directly involved in the management of the operation in Syria. In December 2016 and later in September 2018 Kostyukov was added to the US sanctions list, in connection with subverting democracy in the USA while tampering with US elections in 2016. According to  …

New chief of Russian GRU engaged in inciting riots in France – OSINT expert | UNIAN

Dmytro Tymchuk, the coordinator of the Ukrainian-based Information Resistance OSINT community, has said head of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of Russia (formerly known as the GRU), Igor Kostyukov, who was appointed to the post on December 10, had to prove himself by fulfilling a task to destabilize the situation around the protests in France. The top spy has failed the task, Tymchuk notes, as the world has become aware of Russia’s involvement in radicalizing mass protests. Dmytro Tymchuk, the coordinator of the Ukrainian-based Information Resistance OSINT community, has said head of the Main Directorate of the General Staff of Russia (formerly known as the GRU), Igor Kostyukov, who was appointed to the post on December 10, had to prove himself by fulfilling a task to destabilize the situation around the protests in France. The new top spy has failed, Tymchuk notes, as the world has become aware of Russia’s involvement in radicalizing mass actions, TSN reports. Kostyukov replaced former leader Igor Korobov who had recently died, reportedly of a long illness. He was acting head of the Main Directorate for some time. Under Korobov’s leadership, the agency had been shamed with numerous failures, such as a foiled coup in Montenegro or a Petrov-Boshirov failure in Salisbury. However, the France developments were going rather well for Russia. “The sky seemed to be clear for Kostyukov ahead of his appointment: Korobov was appointed a scapegoat for the agency’s old failures and sins, while Putin promised to return the letter ‘R’ [‘razvedyvatelnoye’ – intelligence] to the official name of the structure. In addition, the GRU was successfully riding the wave of French protests – the trolls were reoriented from the American and British directions to the French one, to slam down on Macron, change the protests’ agenda from economic to political issues, and shape up the ‘necessary’ public opinion. The GRU has also deployed scores of its operatives and assets. And, of course, they also attracted all sorts of radical scum, financed by Russian military intelligence, to radicalize protest sentiments and provoke confrontations [with law enforcement],” Tymchuk wrote on Facebook. The GRU was already expecting Macron to be forced to step down when a pair of Frenchmen spoiled everything on Saturday, December 8, when they were photographed during Paris protests boasting a flag of the so-called “DPR” and exposed Russia’s involvement in the riots. “Despite the fact that the Kremlin and its entire propaganda army are now trying to absurdly justify and vindicate themselves, we can be sure that the French intelligence services, which have launched an investigation, will prove that Russian intel meddled in France’s internal affairs, as it did before in Montenegro, the United States, and Britain,” Tymchuk said.

UAWire – US House of Representatives supports sanctions against Nord Stream 2 pipleline

On Tuesday, December 11, the House of Representatives of the United States Congress approved the resolution condemning the construction of Nord Stream 2, the main gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, and supported the imposition of sanctions to counteract this project. Laying the pipeline would be “a dramatic step backward in the issue of European energy security and interests of the United States,” the document noted. “Russia’s geopolitical interest in Nord Stream 2 is not about increasing European security, but rather about the attempt to drive a wedge between the countries in Europe and to seriously diminish the role of the Ukrainian existing gas transport system.” Members of the House of Representatives supported the adoption of the restrictive measures within the “Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act” signed by US President Donald Trump in 2017. These sanctions would be directed against European companies participating in the project. Despite the resolution being non-binding, it shows the growing opposition of American legislators to the Russian gas pipeline’s implementation in Europe. Link: https://www.congress.gov/115/bills/hres1035/BILLS-115hres1035ih.pdf

U.S. House Of Representatives Condemns Russia’s Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

The U.S. House of Representatives has condemned the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline, saying the undersea project will boost Russian control over Europe’s energy supplies.

U.S. House passes resolution opposing Nord Stream 2 | UNIAN

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a largely symbolic resolution expressing opposition to Gazprom PJSC’s $11 billion Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, on concerns that the project will boost the Kremlin’s control over Europe’s energy supplies. The pipeline is one of several Russian projects that would circumvent Ukraine and give the world’s top gas producer direct access to its biggest European markets.

US House Passes Resolution in Support of Ukraine   

Lawmakers reaffirm ‘commitment to Ukraine’s independence and security’

U.S. House passes resolution in support of Ukraine – media | UNIAN

The U.S. House of Representatives has again called on Russia to end its hostilities against Ukraine.  The resolution also called on U.S. President Donald Trump to hold Russia accountable for its aggression.

U.S. House of Representatives recognizes Holodomor as genocide of Ukrainian people – 12.12.2018 10:00 — Ukrinform News

The U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously adopted a resolution recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-1933 in Ukraine as the genocide of Ukrainian people.

U.S. House unanimously passes Ukraine Holodomor resolution | UNIAN

The U.S. House of Representatives has unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the Holodomor in Ukraine in 1932-1933 as genocide against the Ukrainian people. More than thirty members from the Democratic and Republican Parties acted as co-authors of the resolution.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind | Does Brexit Mean the West is in Decline? | The National Interest

The European Union was not just created to ensure that never again would the nations of Western Europe go to war with each other. It was also created to bring about a new Europe that embraced democracy and the “rule of law.”

Norbert Röttgen | The EU’s response to Russia must be bold and unanimous | Norbert Röttgen | Opinion | The Guardian

All measures short of war should be taken into account, says German Bundestag foreign affairs committee chairman Norbert Röttgen

EU negotiators agree on Europe’s Cybersecurity Act

The European Parliament, the Council and the European Commission have reached a political agreement on the Cybersecurity Act which reinforces the mandate of the EU Agency for Cybersecurity

Competing in the Gray Zone | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Gray zone actions are increasing from countries seeking to challenge the United States. These actions, which seek to gain advantage without provoking a conventional military response, are often difficult for free-market democracies to counter. The CSIS International Security Program is undertaking work to examine the challenge the United States faces and to explore options for how to better organize itself and respond to these gray zone challenges.

How 5G Will Shape Innovation and Security | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Download the Report  Executive Summary The fifth generation of mobile network technologies, known as “5G,” promises greater speed, security, and capacity. 5G will underpin the internet economy and provide the backbone for the next generation of digital technologies. So, it is unsurprising that there is intense competition among companies and countries for 5G leadership.

Russia – Ukraine warfare: “Complex forecast”

Judging by what is happening, including an alleged attack on Mariupol by the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced in the “DPR”, I think that this can be the launch of the Azov-Crimean isthmus scenario. Russians have long been prepared to launch it, but with no dates set for it so far. Dangerous processes can begin in Ukraine at the end of this week. They can assume a threatening nature from the third decade of the month. The Kremlin may try to realize their long-standing “isthmus scenario,” using several pretexts at once. Such “complex forecasts” were made by military columnist and blogger Oleksiy Arestovich on the UAportal. Judging by what is happening, including an alleged attack on Mariupol by the Armed Forces of Ukraine announced in the “DPR”, I think that this can be the launch of the Azov-Crimean isthmus scenario. Russians have long been prepared to launch it, but with no dates set for it so far. Now, when there is a date of the Unifying Orthodox Council, I think we can expect that around December 15, some actions will begin in our country, such as members of the Orthodox Church will revolt; they will not allow a schism, and so on. If these scenarios are successful, then around December 20, perhaps, the actions in Donbas will be taken. These actions will be taken on a bright shining lie that ‘the Armed Forces of Ukraine are provoking, and we are only responding to their provocation’. And, perhaps, Russia will try to use some chess moves near Berdyansk, Mariupol and the Crimean isthmus, because the problem of water and water supply of Crimea is very acute. I do not think they will resort to an open invasion. But the following scenario is possible: local self-defense forces will begin to establish other “people’s republics” under the pretext of tiredness from a religious conflict and economic lawlessness of the Kyiv’s authorities. And Russia will come to the rescue of its Orthodox brothers. That is, a key question is: what will Russians do in connection with Tomos in our country by the end of December? It is not strange that Hrytsak says that in the event of a religious conflict in Ukraine, there is a threat of open Russia’s invasion (SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak said that “Russian special services resort to targeted inspirations for inter-confessional conflicts in Ukraine in conjunction with provocations of direct terrorist action,” which according to him, “may set a context for the open military invasion of the RF armed forces into our country,” UAportal). By the way, this preventive measure – a ban on adult Russian males from entering Ukraine – is also intended to keep Orthodox monks and infiltrators away from Ukraine. Therefore, a very serious aggravation may happen in Kherson, Zaporizhzhya and Donetsk regions by the end of December. And then the logic of all Russia’s actions, including the seizure of seamen, will fit into this scenario. And the reason will be religious unrest in Ukraine. So, the forecasts are complex. And the scenario of a military and civil aggravation is highly probable. Riots, seizures of administrative buildings, showdowns, etc.

Ted Galen Carpenter [Cato] | Don’t Let Ukraine Drag America into War | The National Interest

The adage to not let a weak ally make major decisions still rings true.

NATO – Opinion: Joint press point by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, 13-Dec.-2018

President Poroshenko, dear Petro, Welcome back to NATO Headquarters. It’s always great to meet you and always a great honour and pleasure to welcome you to NATO. Ukraine is really a highly valued partner of NATO. And I very much appreciate our close cooperation and our friendship. We just had a substantial discussion about NATO’s strong support to Ukraine and Russia’s aggressive actions in the Black Sea. We remain concerned by the heightened tensions in and around the Sea of Azov. There can be no justification for Russia’s use of military force against Ukrainian ships and sailors. Russia must immediately release the sailors and ships they seized and allow freedom of navigation including free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov. We strongly condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, which we do not and will not recognise. The building of the Kerch Strait bridge is another violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is part of Russia’s pattern of destabilising behaviour. We see that in eastern Ukraine where ceasefire violations are reported daily. Including with weapons banned under the Minsk Agreements. The OSCE monitoring mission still faces restrictions to doing their job. They are regularly prevented from moving freely. And their observation drones are jammed and shot down. The so-called “elections” in the Donbas last month ran contrary to the letter and spirit of the Minsk Agreements and undermine efforts towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict. NATO provides Ukraine with strong political and practical support. This includes around 40 million euros pledged by Allies for NATO-Ukraine Trust Funds. One such Trust Fund is helping Ukraine improve command and control, and communications. And today I told President Poroshenko that we will deliver secure communications equipment for the Ukrainian Armed Forces by the end of this year. We are also supporting Ukraine to improve its naval capabilities, logistics and cyber defence. In response to Russia’s aggressive actions, NATO has stepped up its presence in the Black Sea region over the past few years. And we will continue to assess our posture there. President Poroshenko, I appreciate the calm and restraint Ukraine has demonstrated during the developments near the Sea of Azov. Escalation would be in no-one’s interest now. I also commend you for your commitment to the democratic process in view of next year’s elections in Ukraine. Good governance and reform will bring Ukraine closer to the Euro-Atlantic family. Important progress has already been made and we encourage Ukraine to continue on the path of reform. Including toward greater civilian control over the security and intelligence services, anti-corruption and minority rights. Allies recognise Ukraine’s aspirations to join the Alliance. We want to see your country succeed. And we are committed to helping you do so. So once again President Poroshenko, dear Petro, welcome to NATO, it’s always great to have you here.

NATO will provide regional security in the Sea of Azov – Poroshenko – 112.international

NATO will provide regional security in the Sea of Azov. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said that during his joint press conference with the Alliance Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. ‘NATO will follow the course of events in the Sea of Azov, providing the security in the region. This is what we need now’, he said. Poroshenko stressed that Ukraine supports the NATO mission’s deployment in the Sea of Azov. ‘It is very important that Ukraine participates in the RASP program, and we accept this support to increase the security level in the Sea of Azov waters’, the president said. He added that NATO should increase its permanent presence in the Black Sea. As is known, in late November, the Russian Navy attacked the Ukrainian sailors. Three Ukrainian ships were on their way from Odesa to Mariupol to join the newly created Ukrainian naval base in the Sea of Azov. Russian naval vessels and aviation opened fire and wounded three Ukrainian servicemen. The ships and their crews were captured. Currently, 24 Ukrainian sailors face charges with the ‘illegal border crossing’, as they stay in detention centers in Moscow.

NATO to keep an eye on situation in Sea of Azov — Poroshenko

President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine has said an agreement has been reached with NATO to arrange an effort by the Alliance to monitor the situation in the Sea of Azov from the air and the sea.

Ukraine welcomes NATO’s increased presence in Black Sea – president – 13.12.2018 15:26 — Ukrinform News

Russia&rsquo;s attack on Ukrainian vessels and crews in the Sea of Azov was aimed not only at Ukraine; it was an attempt to test the entire system of Euro-Atlantic security.

Ukraine, NATO have common view on situation in Kerch Strait region – Poroshenko – 13.12.2018 14:37 — Ukrinform News

Ukraine and NATO have a common view on the situation in the Kerch Strait region and consider such actions as an act of Russian aggression.

Stoltenberg, Poroshenko meet in Brussels – 112.international

Joint press point by the Secretary General and the President of Ukraine

Poroshenko has meeting with EU leadership in Brussels – 112.international

Poroshenko has meeting with EU leadership in Brussels

EC President Tusk receives lists of Russian citizens, ships involved in attack on Ukraine’s navy | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has given President of the European Council Donald Tusk the lists of citizens and ships of Russia involved in an attack on three Ukrainian navy vessels in the Kerch Strait on November 25. Poroshenko also handed over a list of humanitarian and infrastructure projects that could be supported by European partners.

Poroshenko calls on EU, U.S. to stop Nord Stream 2 in response to Russian aggression in Black Sea | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called on the European Union and the United States to stop the Nord Stream 2 project as a reaction to the act of aggression in the Black Sea. Nobody knows where Putin next decides to “protect Russian interests,” Poroshenko said.

Poroshenko gives Tusk, Stoltenberg lists of Russians involved in capture of Ukrainian sailors – 13.12.2018 14:38 — Ukrinform News

Ukrainians President Petro Poroshenko has handed over to European Council President Donald Tusk and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg the lists of Russian military, FSB officers and other persons involved in the capture of Ukrainian sailors.

Ukraine to pull out of CIS Intelligence Services Cooperation Agreement | UNIAN

Ukraine’s Foreign Intelligence Service has started the procedure of pulling out of the CIS Intelligence Services Cooperation Agreement of 1992. “On the instructions of the President of Ukraine, the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine has started the procedure for withdrawal from the Agreement on the principles and basic directions of cooperation between security agencies and intelligence services of the CIS member states in intelligence activities since 1992,” the Ukrainian agency said on its website. The participation of the Ukrainian intelligence in this agreement, along with Russian special services, is absurd in view of the Russian Federation’s armed aggression against Ukraine, it said. Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/society/10373040-ukraine-to-pull-out-of-cis-intelligence-services-cooperation-agreement.html

UAWire – Ukrainian Foreign Minister: Germany’s initiative on Azov is a sanction against Russia

The idea to establish international monitoring of navigation in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, which was proposed by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, can be interpreted as a type of sanction against Russia, stated Foreign Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Klimkin after the working meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the EU countries in Brussels, UNIAN reports. “Germany wants to introduce the mechanism of international monitoring. I believe that it is itself a sort of sanction against Russia. I will discuss this with Heiko Maas in a few days,” Klimkin stated. Maas proposed to extend the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine to the Sea of Azov: a move that could be discussed this week during the meeting of the representatives of Ukraine and Russia mediated by France and Germany.

UAWire – Kremlin expresses regret over the termination of the Friendship Treaty with ‘brotherly Ukraine’

Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the Kremlin regretted that Kyiv had not renewed the Friendship Treaty with the Russian Federation because Russians and Ukrainians “have ties of kinship and fraternal relations,” TASS reports. The decree “On the termination of the Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation,” signed by President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko on December 10th was described by Peskov as “a manifestation of disrespect for the citizens of Ukraine.” “One thing is obvious. It is unlikely that this [decision not to extend the treaty with the Russian Federation] can be considered a step in the interests of Ukrainians, the very Ukrainians with whom we have ties of kinship and fraternal relations, despite everything,” said the press secretary of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Only regrets can be expressed for the Ukrainian leadership making such hasty decisions. From our point of view, this is a manifestation of disrespect towards one’s own people and their interests,” added Peskov.

Bill terminating Ukraine-Russia friendship treaty enters into force

12.12.18 13:07 – Bill terminating Ukraine-Russia friendship treaty enters into force The law on termination of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, effective April 1, 2019, entered into force on Dec. 12. View news.

CEC of Ukraine terminates Protocol on Cooperation with CEC of Russia – 13.12.2018 13:55 — Ukrinform News

The Central Election Commission of Ukraine stated about the termination of the Protocol on Cooperation with the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation due to the termination of the Treaty on Friendship between Ukraine and Russia, the commission&rsquo;s press service reports.

Ukraine at UN provides evidence of Russia’s violations of international law in Azov and Black Seas – 12.12.2018 11:35 — Ukrinform News

Ukraine’s delegation has informed UN member states of Russia’s consistent and gross violations of international law in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the United Nations has reported.

This is no joke and no incident. This is war: Poroshenko addresses Putin over attack in Kerch Strait (video) | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in an interview with Fox News has openly addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin and called and act of “war” the attack of the Russian military on Ukrainian sailors in the Kerch Strait. Poroshenko said the reaction of the world was quite strong, adding that words are not enough. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in an interview with Fox News has openly addressed Russian President Vladimir Putin and called and act of “war” the attack of the Russian military on Ukrainian sailors in the Kerch Strait. “Mr. Putin, this is the act of aggression. Mr. Putin, this is the war. And this is not a joke, and not an incident, and not a crisis,” Poroshenko said, explaining that this is because Russia’s regular forces under the Russian flag attacked Ukrainian military vessels in international waters.

“Mr. Putin, this is no joke, no incident, no crisis, this is war,” – Poroshenko on unprovoked attack on Ukrainian warships. VIDEO

12.12.18 12:34 – “Mr. Putin, this is no joke, no incident, no crisis, this is war,” – Poroshenko on unprovoked attack on Ukrainian warships. VIDEO President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko stresses the need for a NATO presence in the Black Sea and fresh U.S. and EU sanctions that would stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline amid growing tensions in the Black and Azov Sea regions. View news.

Russia Launched Cyber Attacks Against Ukraine Before Ship Seizures, Firm Says – To Inform is to Influence

DECEMBER 8, 2018 Researchers claim to have uncovered Russian cyber attacks aimed at the Ukrainian military and government before and during the Sea of Azov captures. Russian government-affiliated actors launched coordinated cyber attacks against Ukrainian government and military targets before and during the attack and seizure of Ukrainian ships and sailors on November 25, a private…

Poroshenko: Russia can launch ground operation against Ukraine any moment | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko does not rule out Russia’s move to launch ground operation against Ukraine any moment. Ukraine needs to enhance military and technical cooperation with its partners, including on the supply the lethal weapons helping the country protect itself from the possible “huge” ground operation “we do not exclude Russia can launch any moment,” Poroshenko said in an interview with Fox News. The video clip of the interview has been posted on the president’s Facebook page.

Ukrainian captain captured by Russia refuses to testify – LB.ua news portal

Ukrainian captain captured by Russia refuses to testify. He says his crew is not liable for orders from senior command. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Ukrainian tug commander refuses to testify, tells Russian investigators he’s war prisoner | UNIAN

Commander of the Ukrainian Navy’s tugboat Yany Kapu Oleh Melnychuk, who was captured by Russian special services together with other 23 Ukrainian sailors near the Kerch Strait on November 25, has refused to testify, telling Russian investigators he is a prisoner of war. The lawyer met with Melnychuk on December 12.

Another Russian military involved in attack on Ukraine’s naval boats identified (Photo) | UNIAN

The name has been revealed of another Russian military who participated in the attack on three Ukrainian navy vessels and their capture by Russia’s Black Sea Fleet crews in the Kerch Strait on November 25. As the Ukrainian boats were heading in the Odesa direction after being rejected passage via the Kerch Strait, Russian coast guards opened aimed fire on them.

Kerch Strait Bridge to “snap in one moment”: Expert explains “point of no return” | UNIAN

Long before the Kerch crisis and aggression against Ukraine in the Black Sea, Russia had been preparing information-wise for the escalation of the conflict and justification of its maritime aggression through various fake stories, including around the problematic Kerch Strait bridge, according to Taras Berezovets, a political technologist, head of Berta Communications and co-founder of Ukrainian Institute for the Future. Moscow would not recognize reports of technology violations during bridge construction, while it’s much more convenient for Russia to accuse Ukraine, claiming that the Ukrainians “mined” it, “taking this as a pretext for declaring war.” Long before the Kerch crisis and aggression against Ukraine in the Black Sea, Russia had been preparing information-wise for the escalation of the conflict and justification of its maritime aggression through various fake stories, including around the problematic Kerch Strait bridge, according to Taras Berezovets, a political technologist, head of Berta Communications and co-founder of Ukrainian Institute for the Future. “This is absolutely true. In fact, these fakes began to appear back during the construction of the Kerch Bridge, starting from 2015, when Russian television, Russian speakers, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, started claiming that Ukraine had allegedly been plotting terror attacks, even training ‘combat divers,’ and that mines would be planted under the bridge, etc,” the expert told the Segodnya newspaper, commenting on the relevant publication in The Guardian. “In my opinion, the Russian Federation does this primarily because it is looking for a pretext to declare war. The bridge itself, according to satellite data, began to shift. Tectonic plates running along the bottom of the Kerch Strait is as if your two legs stand on two different shores: one is on the Kerch peninsula, and the other – on the Taman one. Then the upper platform on which you are standing starts to move upwards, while another one – downwards. Almost the same is happening with the bridge, that is, it will simply snap in one moment,” he said. At the same time, explaining the Kremlin’s propaganda logic, Berezovets noted that Russia would not recognize reports of technology violations during bridge construction, while it’s much more convenient for the Russian Federation to accuse Ukraine, claiming that the Ukrainians “mined” it, “taking this as a pretext for declaring war.” The political consultant added the Azov Sea was of interest to Russia, first of all, in terms of blocking ports in Berdyansk and Mariupol, incurring economic damage on Ukraine and its economy. Secondly, this is about causing social discontent, since thousands of people are losing their jobs. And thirdly, this is about resolving the critical situation of drinking water in the occupied Crimea.

Journalist names Putin’s potential targets in Ukraine | UNIAN

Journalist Arkady Babchenko has said Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue to squeeze Ukraine out of the Sea of Azov to re-open water supply to the occupied Crimea from mainland Ukraine. Putin may attack the Crimean channel, Mariupol, and Berdyansk. Journalist Arkady Babchenko has said Russian President Vladimir Putin will continue to squeeze Ukraine out of the Sea of Azov to re-open water supply to the occupied Crimea from mainland Ukraine. “It is critical for Putin to open the supply of drinking water to Crimea since water is running out there. Therefore, he may attack the Crimean channel, Mariupol, and Berdyansk,” Babchenko said in an interview with the Ukrainian news outlet Obozrevatel.

Russian MFA threatening Ukrainian diplomats working in Russia | UNIAN

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Russian Federation has once again threatened Ukrainian diplomats working in Russia, arguing that Kyiv is failing to ensure safety of Russian diplomats in Ukraine. Two Russian diplomats working in Ukraine have been recently added to the so-called “Myrotvorets” [Peacemaker] database, which apparently infuriated Moscow.

Ukraine forces “close Donbas sky” with S-300 systems (video) | UNIAN

Yesterday, December 12, on the order of Joint Forces Commander Serhiy Naiev, Ukraine’s anti-aircraft forces conducted training exercises in the front-line zone, involving S-300 missile systems. Ukraine Air Force’s fighter jets were simulating sorties of enemy aviation.

Russian tank formation near border with Ukraine received modernized T-72B3 tanks – Defence Blog

In the second half of 2018, the motorized rifle brigade of the Russian Western MD tank formation in the Bryansk Region have received another batch of upgraded T-72B3 main battle tanks (MBTs). On 12 December, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has reported that another batch of upgraded T-72B3 MBTs entered the arsenal of the Western MD tank formation in the Bryansk Region, which is located near a border with Ukraine. More than 20 advanced tanks after getting latest technologies and passing through control tests included in the combat strength of a combined-arms association stationed in the border area. The modernized version of the T-72, which was a main second-generation battle tank produced in the Soviet Union since the 1970s. Refurbished and upgraded T-72B3 is equipped with a more powerful engine of 1,130 horsepower, as well as an improved armament system. In addition, the vehicle received a new aiming digital display system, as well as a television rear view camera.

Another convoy of Russian military hardware spotted moving across Kerch Strait Bridge (Video) | UNIAN

Another convoy of Russian military hardware was spotted moving between the occupied Crimea and mainland Russia across the recently built Kerch Strait Bridge on December 10. Russia has been further militarizing the occupied peninsula, turning the territory it seized from Ukraine into a major military base and a springboard for potential war campaigns.

During martial law period, Army to receive over 200 units of new equipment – Defense minister | UNIAN

Before martial law period expires, Ukrainian troops are expected to have received more than 200 units of military equipment, according to Defense of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak. Martial law is introduced for two main reasons. The first is aggression against Ukraine. The second is a threat of open aggression.

Ukrainian army to receive over 300 units of equipment, – Defence Minister – 112.international

Ukrainian army to receive over 300 units of equipment, – Defence Minister

Ukraine, Italy discuss joint training of cyber security experts. Photos – 12.12.2018 12:30 — Ukrinform News

The specialists of the Main Directorate of Communications and Information Systems of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and representative of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Italy, Colonel Felice de Rosa discussed the prospects of joint training of cyber security experts.

Ukraine’s Former Prime Minister Proposes to Tackle Corruption Using Blockchain

Ukraine’s former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is planning to participate in the 2019 presidential elections, wants to combat corruption using blockchain…

‘Hard Times Produce Strong People’: Ukraine’s Women Warriors

The number of female soldiers in Ukraine’s military has risen sharply since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea. About one-third are officers like Olena Belska, who commands a mortar unit in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.

UAWire – Ukraine refuses to sign UN Migration Pact

The press service of Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported that Ukraine refused to sign the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and …

Ukrainian Court Reinstates Nasirov After He Was Charged With Embezzlement

A court in Kyiv has reinstated Roman Nasirov to the position of head of the State Fiscal Service after he was fired in January following his arrest on suspicion of embezzlement.

Ukraine paid $1.67 billion to Russia for coal supplies – 112.international

Despite the annexation of Crimea and armed aggression in Donbas, Russia remains to be the main coal supplier

State Investigation Bureau makes first detention – LB.ua news portal

State Investigation Bureau makes first detention. An official is suspected of accepting a bribe of 2,000 dollars. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Half of Ukrainians say AI would ensure fair elections – survey – LB.ua news portal

Half of Ukrainians say AI would ensure fair elections – survey. They would like to see more robots in construction, manufacturing and education. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today