Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (62)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia’s internal state fundamentally contradicts the MRGA image central to their propaganda campaign.  Interesting China developments, but even more interesting reports from Europe, especially Hungary (it does need its very own Maidan).


NATO / EU / Russia Reports



EU Formally Extends Sanctions Against Russia For Six Months – To Inform is to Influence
December 21, 2018 17:10 GMT By RFE/RL BRUSSELS — The European Union has formally extended economic sanctions against Russia, first imposed more than four years ago for Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula. The European Council said on December 21 that the measures would remain in place for another six months, until July 2019. The council, which is the grouping of the governments of 28 EU member countries, said it had adopted its decision unanimously. EU leaders had agreed on the extension last week to do so, and also considered imposing more sanctions over Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships off Crimea, but in the end, opted not to. The measures target Russia’s banking, energy, and defense sectors. Earlier this week, EU diplomats agreed to impose asset freezes and visa bans on five Russians whom the EU believe are responsible for the March poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England. The five are believed to be Russian military intelligence agents.
Britain eyes a more lethal force in newly revealed defense modernization review
Britain is to rebuild weapon stockpiles, strengthen Joint Forces Command and earmark cash to rapidly innovate as part of a long-awaited defense modernization review.

Russia / Russophone Reports



Steve Gutterman’s Week In Russia — December 21, 2018 – To Inform is to Influence
Editor’s Note: The Week In Russia will not appear on December 28. It will resume on January 4. Russian President Vladimir Putin fielded 66 questions at his annual press conference, holding forth for nearly four hours with a record number of journalists accredited for an event he first held in 2001. He didn’t make much news. Here are some of the key developments in Russia over the past week and some of the takeaways going forward.
Annual news conference: Despite the evidence, Putin calls Skripal poisoning a pretext to attack Russia – To Inform is to Influence
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been exposed as lying during yesterday’s annual Presidential press conference about the attempted GRU assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England. Not only did Putin twist the facts around to imply this was a British assassination attempt designed as a provocation against Russia, but Putin also lied about the Kashoggi assassination. StopFake does an excellent job laying out the facts and exposing where the Russian president recounts Russian propaganda, replete with fabrications, distortions, and obfuscations. Putin is repeating the big lie, a la Hitler and Goebbels. The Russian people seem to believe him. No wonder Russia is closing off access to sources of information which might contain the truth. If the Russian people ever discover he has been lying to them for decades, his career and perhaps his life would be violently shortened. </end editorial>
Putin was asked if he wants to rule the world. If his answer doesn’t scare you, nothing will – To Inform is to Influence
In yesterday’s annual press conference, Putin’s response to the question does he seek to rule the world? Well, of course. Putin later backs off this statement and tries to blame the U.S. for their imperialism. In the end, Putin flirts with a female reporter. I love the ending statement by Louis Staples: “So if he’s as bad at world domination as he is [at] flirting, we’re probably safe for now.” </end editorial>
Moscow Court Rejects Russian National Guard Chief’s Libel Lawsuit Against Navalny
A court in Moscow has rejected a libel lawsuit filed by the head of Russia’s National Guard, Viktor Zolotov, against opposition politician and anticorruption activist Aleksei Navalny.
The Russian federal official who wants to beat Alexey Navalny to a pulp has messed up the paperwork in his defamation lawsuit against Navalny — Meduza
Moscow’s Lublin District Court has delayed the hearing of a defamation lawsuit brought by National Guard chief Viktor Zolotov against anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, finding that Zolotov’s paperwork is incomplete. The pugilistic federal official has until January 9 to fill in the blanks, or the court will throw out the case.
Kashin and Navalny are at each other’s throats over Zolotov’s sausages — Meduza
Columnist Oleg Kashin and anti-corruption activist and politician Alexey Navalny are at each other’s throats this week, following Kashin’s latest op-ed in Republic, where he speculates that Russia’s Federal Security Service leaked data from its investigation into corruption at the National Guard to Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. Kashin says Navalny might have received this information anonymously, meaning that even he might be unaware about its origins, and the data could have come from anyone in the government: from a frustrated secretary at the Federal Antimonopoly Service to the very head of the FSB, perhaps wishing to “fight in silence.”
Putin’s Press Conference Through The Eyes Of ‘Navalny Live’
As Russian state media outlets began their live coverage of President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference, the YouTube channel of opposition leader and anticorruption activist Aleksei Navalny …
Navalny’s ‘Smart Voting’ Website Blocked In Russia
A Moscow court has ordered the blocking of Russian opposition politician and anticorruption campaigner Aleksei Navalny’s Smart Voting website.
Stalin Time: Dictator’s Calendars Sell Well In Yekaterinburg
Young Bolsheviks in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg have published their 2019 Josef Stalin calendar. Though the print run is just a few thousand copies, they’re selling fast. Stalin killed millions, but the publishers hope the calendar’s images and quotes will get people to rethink his legacy.
‘Insider’ Out: Journalist Who Helped Expose Novichok Suspects Barred From Putin Press Conference
The Kremlin had accredited investigative journalist Roman Dobrokhotov for President Vladimir Putin’s annual press conference — but backtracked at the last second and turned him away at the door.
How Much Is That Ruble In The Window? Russia Bans Currency Exchange Signs
Russian President Vladimir Putin has approved a law banning boards showing currency exchange rates in public places, outlawing the signs that have been a familiar feature on city streets since the …
Kennan Cable No. 39: A Traditional State and a Modern Problem: Russia Rewrites its Internet Extremism Laws – To Inform is to Influence
The debate over reposts on the internet suggests that Russian law is not immune to criticism from within the legal system and Russian society. Yet it appears that the Russian state’s response is less a matter of bending to public opinion and more a case of reacting to embarrassing examples of a dysfunctional status quo. The absurdity of some of the charges, and the evident disproportionality of the punishments, made the state look foolish and paranoid, not strong and decisive. </end editorial>
Russian Duma Passes Bill To Punish Organizers Of Protests That Include Children
The lower chamber of the Russian parliament has passed a bill setting out punishment for people who involve minors in unauthorized protests, rallies, and demonstrations.
Russian lawmakers pass draft legislation that could jail people for 30 days if they invite minors to unpermitted protests — Meduza
The State Duma has adopted the third and final reading of legislation that imposes extra penalties on people who encourage minors to attend unpermitted demonstrations. Three hundred and forty-two deputies voted for the bill, and just 42 voted against it.
Russia has ‘decriminalized’ one of its most controversial anti-extremism charges. Here’s what that means in practice. — Meduza
On December 19, the State Duma adopted a law that will partially decriminalize the controversial Criminal Code Article 282, which courts have increasingly used to prosecute Internet users for “reposts.” First-time offenders will now face only misdemeanor charges, risking a 20,000-ruble ($300) fine or a 15-day jail sentence, instead of felony charges and a prison sentence. Repeated violations within a 12-month period, however, can still lead to a felony charge.
Russia Gives Reposting A Rethink, Duma OKs Bill Softening Punishment For Memes
Russian legislation that will soften the punishment in some hate-crime cases has advanced amid concerns over prison terms handed down to people for “liking” or reposting memes on the Internet.
Russian Investigative Committee Officer Detained On Bribery Charge
A Russian Investigative Committee colonel has been detained on a bribery charge in the Samara region.
OSCE Cites Torture, Executions Among ‘Grave’ Rights Violations In Chechnya
Authorities in Russia’s Chechnya region have committed torture, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and other “very serious” human rights violations and abuses, an expert report …
Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Very Dangerous Development: Unregistered Group Attacking Tatar Language Taken Seriously
Paul Goble Staunton, December 14 – In what appears to be a case of Vladimir Putin’s “hybrid” war tactics applied to domestic affairs within the Russian Federation a group styling itself as the Parents’ Community of Tatarstan which is opposed to Tatar language training in schools is being taken seriously by officials even though it is completely anonymous and unregistered. The existence of such a group is a violation of the law at least to the extent that it expects to be taken seriously by the authorities, but it is potentially extremely useful for the Kremlin because like “’the little green men’” in Crimea, this group offers the regime plausible deniability for actions intended to go beyond what the Russian regime says it is doing. Only if this group is exposed as illegal and the authorities’ treatment of it as otherwise as a violation of the law is there a chance that Moscow will not use this tactic elsewhere. If it is not, what is taking place today against Tatar language instruction can be expected to occur in other non-Russian republics in the coming weeks or months. On the IdelReal portal today, journalist Ramazan Alpaut describes this case, unusual now but a reflection of the general approach of the Putin regime of advancing its goals under false pretenses or at least by institutions which the Russian government can claim it has nothing to do with ( In an article entitled “The Community of Anonymous Parents: A Secret Organization Declares War on Tatar,” the journalist says that the Parents’ Community of Tatarstan does not have any of the attributes or registration that social organizations are supposed to. Nonetheless, it is “successfully flooding” the Tatarstan procuracy and the latter is doing what it wants. This “community,” Alpaut continues, “was formed out of the Committee of Russian-Speaking Parents of Tataria in October 2017 – that is after Putin declared that the study of non-Russian languages must be voluntary even though the study of Russian is to remain compulsory for all. The group then launched attacks on any study of Tatar in Tatarstan, demanding that the authorities in Kazan investigate each of its complaints. But the Parents’ Community had no right to do that: it is not registered as an NGO, and therefore does not have the right to interact with the authorities as it has been doing. Moreover, all its letters and appeals to the Procuracy of the Republic of Tatarstan were anonymous. No names or contact information was given. And when Alpaut tried to track them down, those who answered the phone refused to answer any of his questions as soon as they knew what he was trying to find out. Pavel Chikov, the head of the Agora Human Rights Group says that “such behavior by a public organization violates Russian law.” That law allows groups to operate “without registration,” he says, “but this does not mean that there is no charter, no leader, no administration and no internal documentation.” All of that is required because “any individual can have an interest in these documents. They must be accessible for society. That I, there must be some contact information.” That is required by law” and “refusal to provide this information is illegal,” Chikov says. If these conditions are not met, he continues, the group cannot be considered a public organization. And that means this: “it does not have the right to appeal to any law enforcement organs with demand for checking legality or other things.” That officials in Tatarstan are ignoring these legal requirements and accepting complaints from this group suggests that Kazan fears who is behind it, yet another indication that it is a kind of “hybrid” attack on the republic.
Voters Try Again In Russia’s Far East Primorye Gubernatorial Election
Voting stations have opened in Russia’s Far Eastern Primorsky region in a rerun of a scandal-hit gubernatorial election.
Activist Jailed For Burning Russian Constitution In Front Of Local FSB Offices
Yaroslav Lobanov, a Russian activist in the Urals city of Kurgan, has been sentenced to 10 days in jail for publicly burning a copy of the Russian Constitution.
Historian Of Stalin-Era Crimes In Court For Sexual Assault, His Second Trial This Year
The trial of Yury Dmitriyev, a Russian historian charged with sexually assaulting his adopted daughter, has started in the northwestern region of Karelia.
UAWire – Former Russian Deputy Prime Minister owns eight-million-dollar villa in Dubai
The family of the former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, now head of state-owned bank Vnesheconombank, Igor Shuvalov owns a villa in Dubai …
Notorious Moscow Detention Center To Close Before Its 250th Anniversary
Moscow’s notorious Butyrka detention center will be shut down by its 250th anniversary, the deputy chief of the Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) has announced.
Disgruntled driver attacks ‘Ekho Moskvy’ deputy chief editor, putting a gun to his head — Meduza
Someone grabbed Ekho Moskvy deputy chief editor Sergey Buntman and put a gun to his head, after the journalist caught his coat on the bumper of the man’s parked car. The incident took place on the evening of December 18, outside the “Shinok” restaurant near the Ulitsa 1905 Goda subway station in Moscow, where friends celebrated Ekho Moskvy chief editor Alexey Venediktov’s birthday.
Moscow Welcomes Invitation Of Russian Businessmen To Davos
Moscow has welcomed a decision by the organizers of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to allow the participation of Russian businessmen at the event, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in …
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Fewer than Half of All Books Now Published in Russia have Print Runs over 500 Copies
Paul Goble Staunton, December 18 – Forty-seven percent of all books published in the Russian Federation have print runs of under 500 copies, an especially dramatic decline from Soviet times when books were published in enormous tirages and one that highlights the decline in reading in a country that has long prided itself as “the most reading country in the world.” In an article on the Babr24 portal, Dmitry Verkhoturov notes that while in 2003, the total print runs of all books and brochures in Russia ran to 707 million copies, in 2016, that figure had fallen to 471 million in 2017. The average tirage fell from 8600 copies to 4070 copies over this period ( That means that the number of books per capita fell from 5.3 copies in 2003 to 3 in 2016, the Siberian journalist says. And the books have become shorter as well with the average size falling by “more than 50 percent” over that period. In short, “books are becoming ever less needed by Russian society, an indication of its gradual intellectual degradation.” Some observers say the printed book is being displaced by the electronic one, but the statistics do not bear that out, the journalist continues. Electronic books currently number only 2.5 percent of that of printed ones. And because reading is confined to those with less education and money, that figure is unlikely to grow rapidly. In the past, Verkhoturov says, the intelligentsia was the chief consumer of books; but now the country has “decided to get along without an intelligentsia. That is to say, “it has decided to get along without a special social structure which seeks and concentrates knowledge and transmits it in a ready to use form.” “Books,” he says, are a means of concentrating and transmitting knowledge,” and if they are rejected, then society is rejecting what they contain as well. That is what is happening in Russia today, and there is no sign that the trend will do anything but accelerate in the coming years. Indeed, there is every reason to believe, Verkhoturov concludes, that it will become irreversible with “the dying out of the remains of the Soviet intelligentsia and the contraction in the number of those who fill the thinning ranks of the intelligentsia now.”
Veteran Russian Rights Defender Released After Serving 16-Day Jail Term
Veteran Russian human rights defender Lev Ponomaryov has been released after serving a 16-day jail term for organizing via the Internet a protest against the arrests of activists.
Russian Soldier Charged In Death Of Armenian Woman, Lawyers Say
A 23-year-old soldier serving at a Russian military base in Armenia has been charged with beating an Armenian woman to death, lawyers for the victims’ daughter say.
Moscow Artist Turns To Life Of Grime
When winter weather leaves soot and mud on cars in Moscow, illustrator Nikita Golubev uses the layers of filth to make art.
Roof Collapses At Factory Near Moscow Killing At Least One
A roof has collapsed at a factory in the town of Dzerzhinsk near Moscow, killing at least one person.
Lives In Ruins: Family Homes Razed In Russia
Families in Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan are demanding full compensation after their apartments were demolished as part of a rebuilding scheme in the city if Almetyevsk.
Rebuilding Russia’s ‘Red Zion’
Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region suffered from mass emigration to Israel in the 1990s, but efforts are underway to restore its identity.
Siberian City Fights Melting Permafrost
One of the world’s coldest cities is warming up, and officials are not happy. Yakutsk, Russia, is built on permafrost — which is now starting to melt.
St. Petersburg’s Freegans Feast On Forsaken Food
In order to reduce waste, St. Petersburg freegans not only find food to eat for themselves at garbage dumps. They also arrange charity dinners made from discarded food.
Russian Teen Gets Nearly 10 Years In Prison For School Stabbing Attack
A 17-year-old Russian boy has been sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison after being convicted over a knife attack at his former school that left 12 people hospitalized with stab wounds.
Russian Cargo Ship Refloated After Running Aground Off English Coast
A Russian cargo ship was refloated and towed back to sea, hours after it ran aground off southwestern England in bad weather.
Someone set fire to a hospital outside Moscow, hours after Navalny published an investigative report about corruption at the clinic — Meduza
In the town of Yegoryevsk, outside Moscow, someone set fire to the front door of the Central District Hospital, hours after Alexey Navalny’s live YouTube channel aired an investigative report about the facility.
WADA To Retrieve Data From Moscow Anti-Doping Lab Next Week
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says it will send a team next week to retrieve data from a Moscow anti-doping laboratory, a key requirement for the full reinstatement of the Russian anti-doping…
Russian Court Releases Jailed Russian Activist Who Faces New Charge
A court in Russia has canceled the pretrial arrest of an opposition activist who finished his 4 1/2-year prison term on December 2 but was remanded in custody after he was charged with disrupting p…
Car-Wash Clash Lands Russian Traffic Cops In Hot Water
Two Russian traffic police officers in the Siberian region of Buryatia have been charged with violent behavior and abuse of power after CCTV videos showing them beating a car wash director were pos…
Member Of Russia’s ‘FSB Killers’ Gang Sentenced To 24 Years In Prison
A member of an organized crime group that terrorized residents of the Siberian city of Tyumen for years has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Opinion | Yo, Putin – The New York Times
The Russian leader is down with rappers’ freedom of expression. To a point.
Putin is right to fear rappers’ revolution | Comment | The Times
Vladimir Putin fears he has met his match in rap. Although not our rap. Nor even American rap. Russian rap. He will face down the United Nations, is unafraid of the twitchy red-button finger of Donald Trump and murder on the streets of Salisbury is not something that keeps him up at nights, but the
Putin says Russia must control rap music to avoid ‘degradation of the nation’ – Story | WFLD
The explosion of rap music in Russia spurred President Vladimir Putin to call for cultural leaders on Saturday to devise a means of controlling its role for youth culture instead of an outright…
Vladimir Putin declares war on rap music
Vlad’s got 99 problems — and rap is one. Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin, facing poverty, protests and allegations of attacking U.S. elections, declared war…
Vladimir Putin Makes Moves To Control Rap Music In Russia | HuffPost
The Russian president said “if it is impossible to stop, then we must lead it and direct it.”
Putin Wants to Control Rap as Its Popularity Rises in Russia | Time
Russian President Putin wants to devise a means of controlling, rather than banning, rap music as its popularity rises with Russian youth.
Putin sees a new threat and a target for crackdown: rap music – Chicago Tribune
Russian President Vladimir Putin wants cultural leaders to try to control rap music.
Vladimir Putin says rap music should be state controlled – YouTube
CNN Published on Dec 17, 2018 Russian President Vladimir Putin is cracking down on rap music, saying it is an important part of pop culture but needs to be guided by the state. CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen reports from Moscow. #CNN #News
Putin defends rappers over police – YouTube

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports



Georgia’s First Woman President Sworn In Amid Opposition Protests
Salome Zurabishvili has been sworn into office as Georgia’s first woman president amid continued denunciations by the opposition that her election was rigged.
U.S. Extends Sanctions On Russian Prosecutor’s Son, Daughter Of Late Uzbek President
The White House has extended financial and travel restrictions on government-linked people from Uzbekistan, Russia, Ukraine, and elsewhere, under a U.S. law aimed at human rights abusers and corrupt officials worldwide.

Belarus Reports



Belarus Court Cancels Opposition Spokeswoman’s Expulsion
A court in Minsk has reversed a decision to expel the press secretary of an opposition party in Belarus.



Ukraine Reports



Pressure Petro Poroshenko for ignoring Ukraine’s massive corruption problem
The West is rightly increasing its support for Ukraine in face of escalating aggression from Russia. But we should not close our eyes to the systemic challenge of corruption in Ukraine. After all, it’s a challenge that President Petro Poroshenko’s government has done very little to address.
Israeli ambassador bemoans glorification of Ukrainian leader | FOX13
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) – The Israeli ambassador to Ukraine has sharply criticized local legislators’ move to honor a Ukrainian nationalist leader.
Inside Ukraine’s surrogacy industry where Australians are travelling to have a family – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The baby business is booming in Ukraine and the number of Australian children born through the country’s surrogates tripled in the past year — so how does the industry handle the ethics, the demand and the politicians wanting to shut it all down?

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports



Russia praises US decision to pull troops out of Syria | TheHill
Russia praised President Trump’s decision to start withdrawing American forces from Syria, saying that the move creates hopes for “a political solution.”
To Succeed in Syria, Don’t Withdraw — Rebrand – Defense One
The president’s plan is a disaster. If he wants to claim victory, there’s a better way.
UAWire – Russian officer killed in Syria
Astrakhan-24 news website reported, with reference to the public group “Airborne Brotherhood, that the former senior intelligence officer of the …
Don’t Be Surprised the Next Time Trump Ends a US Mission – Defense One
No one knows why the president pulled the plug on Syria now, but NATO and South Korea should be worried.
Trump’s withdrawal from Syria is victory for Iran and Russia, experts say
Russia and Iran stand to emerge as the dominant players in a country that shares a border with Israel.
Trump Just Screwed Up the One Thing He Did Better Than Obama – Defense One
His capricious decision to withdraw troops from Syria will create havoc.
Trump’s Syria Withdrawal Announcement Criticized By Allies, Praised By Putin
U.S. President Donald Trump says in a Twitter video message that “after historic victories” against Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria, U.S. troops are “all coming back and they’re all coming …
ISIS Is Not Defeated. Pulling US Troops From Syria Would Jeopardize Everything – Defense One
I just returned from my fifth trip to Northeast Syria in 18 months. If the US quits now, there are four winners: ISIS, Assad, Russia, and Iran.
Syria: SDF fighters capture ISIL pocket in Deir Az Zor | Syria News | Al Jazeera
US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have pushed ISIL fighters out of Hajin in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Az Zor.
U.S.-led coalition destroys Syrian mosque used as ISIS command center | Reuters
The U.S.-led coalition in Syria destroyed on Saturday a mosque in the town of Hajin which had been used as an Islamic State command and control center, the U.S. military said.

UAWire – Russia joins in sanctions against Iran
Rosneft has decided not to participate in the oil extraction projects in Iran that were announced last year, anticipating $30 billion in …
Thanks to US Sanctions, Iranians Are Turning to Bitcoin Mining
Ali Hosseini is a 26-year-old with a normal nine-to-five job in Tehran. He has a bachelor’s degree in information technology and mostly works in social media and public relations. Two months ago, he bought a Bitcoin mining device with his cousin and has been mining since. Hosseini had no prior knowledge of blockchains and distributed ledger technologies prior to purchasing the device. Hosseini had only heard in passing about cryptocurrencies five years ago, but forgot all about them until last year when they became all the rage globally. “At the time we bought the mining device, the rate of the US dollar in Iran was still quite high, so we figured we would make about $90 to $100 a month,” explained Hosseini. “The cost of electricity is relatively low in Iran, so the math seemed viable.”
Iran Guards general dies of self-inflicted accidental gunshot: report | Reuters
A Revolutionary Guards general, who headed a military base in a sensitive security area in northeastern Iran, died on Sunday after he accidentally shot himself in the head while cleaning his gun, the official news agency IRNA reported.
Iran says general fatally shot himself by accident | Fox News
The website of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is reporting that a general who fought in Syria and Iraq has allegedly accidentally killed himself while cleaning a gun.
Israel says fourth Hezbollah tunnel found near Lebanon border | Israel News | Al Jazeera
Israel says the tunnel is under its control and does not pose a threat to Israelis anymore.
Saudi Arabia rejects Senate’s ‘interference’ over Khashoggi case
Saudi Arabia issued a rebuke of the U.S. Senate, rejecting a bipartisan resolution that put the blame for killing Jamal Khashoggi squarely on the crown prince.
Russian disinformation campaign targets Syria’s beleaguered rescue workers – The Washington Post
Moscow has mounted a “brutal and unrelenting” drive against the White Helmets, an international research group says in a new report.
Nikki Haley: Saudi Crown prince must stop ‘thuggish’ behavior | TheHill
Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Tuesday that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must shed the “thuggish nature in which he has been acting.”
US military sends $331 million bill to Saudis, UAE after refueling ‘accounting error’ – CNNPolitics
The US military is seeking a $331 million reimbursement from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates after discovering it failed to properly charge the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen for aerial refueling services due to an “accounting error,” the Pentagon said Thursday.

🇹🇷🇮🇷Turkey, Iran vow to work closer on Syria after US announcement | Al Jazeera English – YouTube
Al Jazeera English Published on Dec 20, 2018 Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani on Thursday vowed to work closer to end the fighting in Syria. But the two leaders made no comment on US President Donald Trump’s announcement that he was pulling US troops out of the war-ravaged nation, declaring a victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). Iran and Turkey have not been on the same side in Syria, but have been working together and Rouhani and Erdogan stressed their cooperation in the so-called “Astana track” negotiations. Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr reports from Ankara.
U.S. Is ‘Working On’ Extraditing Gulen, Top Turkish Official Says – The New York Times
“We need to see concrete steps because it has been already two years,” Turkey’s foreign minister said. He said Turkey had also requested the extradition of more than 8o Gulen followers in America.
U.S. Proposes Sale Of Patriot Missile System To Turkey
The State Department says the United States has proposed the sale of a $3.5 billion Patriot missile system to Turkey.
Turkey cleared by US for $3.5 billion Patriot missile deal, despite S-400 row
How the system will work with the Russian S-400 will be a challenge.
Trump’s Gifts to Turkey Repeat Mistakes and Set Bad Precedents – Defense One
The withdrawal from Syria and sale of missiles to Ankara will undermine U.S. efforts to work with partners and rebuff Russian influence.
Multibillion-dollar weapon sale between Turkey, Russia, US just got more complicated
Russia will deliver its S-400 missile defense system to Turkey despite the U.S. State Department’s decision to sell a rival platform to Ankara for $3.5 billion.
US approves possible Patriot missile sale to Turkey in bid to block Russian purchase – CNNPolitics
Amid diplomatic tensions between the US and Turkey on a range of issues, the US State Department announced Tuesday that it approved the possible sale of a $3.5 billion Patriot missile system to Turkey.

62 al-Shabab fighters in Somalia killed in two days of airstrikes, U.S. military says – The Washington Post
Under the Trump administration, airstrikes in Somalia have become more frequent.
Assessing Outcomes of Online Campaigns Countering Violent Extremism: A Case Study of the Redirect Method | RAND
This report reviews prior assessments of online programs dedicated to countering violent extremism (CVE), offers recommendations for future assessments, and provides a case study of one particular CVE campaign.
Australia recognises West Jerusalem as Israel capital | Jerusalem News | Al Jazeera
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says embassy will not move until a peace settlement is achieved.



Sakkanmol (삭간몰) is an undeclared operational missile base for short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs). It is one of 13, out of an estimated total of 20, undeclared North Korean missile operating bases identified by Beyond Parallel research.1 Sakkanmol currently houses a unit equipped with SRBMs but could easily accommodate more capable medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBMs). The base is also one of the closest to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) and Seoul, giving it the shortest flight time. North Korea’s decommissioning of the Sohae satellite launch facility, while gaining much media attention, obscures the military threat to U.S. forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases.

North Korea Says It Will Never Denuclearize Unless U.S. Removes Its Nuclear Threat | HuffPost
Pyongyang’s statement raises further doubts on whether leader Kim Jong Un will ever relinquish his arsenal.
North Korea condemns U.S. sanctions, warns denuclearization is at risk
North Korea on Sunday condemned the Trump administration for stepping up sanctions and pressure on the nuclear-armed country.
North Korea warns US sanctions could ‘block the path to denuclearization forever’
The North’s warning came days after the Treasury Department imposed fresh sanctions on three top officials, including Choe Ryong Hae – who is seen as Kim Jong Un’s right-hand man.
US, South Korea can’t agree on bill for troops after Trump’s criticism – Business Insider
President Donald Trump has repeatedly complained that the US foots too much of the bill for its military cooperation with South Korea.

“Threat from Russia paled in comparison to China” – BBC News – YouTube
BBC News Published on Dec 19, 2018 China is the number one national security threat the US faces by far, Bill Evanina the Director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center told the BBC’s Security Correspondent Gordon Corera. . It comes amid growing pressure from Washington on Beijing and claims of economic espionage. And Washington’s concern extends beyond espionage to the influence China is exerting (even in Hollywood)– with similar concerns in the UK.
How Beijing won’t back down over the South China Sea – CNN
The Chinese warship Lanzhou approached from behind, swiftly turning to starboard as it tried to cut across the USS Decatur’s bow.
Senate Bill Targets Chinese Economic Espionage – Foreign Policy
China’s Military Has No Combat Experience: Does It Matter? | RAND
China’s military has an impressive high-tech arsenal, but its ability to use these weapons and equipment remains unclear. The one asset that the People’s Liberation Army lacks is combat experience. But there is no consensus—either within Chinese military circles or among foreign analysts—on how much that matters.
The US & China: A Colder Peace or Thucydides’ Trap? « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary
As President Trump pushes Beijing on trade and cyber espionage, the United States and China are on a collision course. The U.S. urgently needs a new strategy to avoid the traditional fate of rising and status quo powers: catastrophic war.
DOJ Hits Chinese Hackers For Attacking U.S. Navy, Agencies, Companies – Defense One
Hackers with the Chinese government hit 45 targets in campaign going back years.
The NSA and China feuded in cyberspace in 2014. Will they again?
Events that occurred in 2014 which may provide key clues to the Chinese and American cyber relationship of today.

Xi Jinping promises miracles, but fails to deliver – CNN
China’s economy will produce “miracles that will impress the world” in the coming years, President Xi Jinping promised in a high-profile speech Tuesday marking four decades since the country embarked on its earthshaking economic transformation.
4 Takeaways from Xi Jinping’s Speech Defending Communist Party Control – The New York Times
China’s president emphasized a singular message: Don’t question the wisdom, foresight and omnipotence of the Communist Party.
Xi Jinping heads into battle over the legacy of China’s Reform and Opening – CNN
When Victor Gao was growing up in rural China in 1970s, cars and trucks were so rare he would chase them with the other children through the dirt roads, overjoyed by the strange sight.
Xi Jinping says no one should ‘dictate’ to China amid tensions – YouTube
Daily Mail Published on Dec 18, 2018 President Xi Jinping warned Tuesday that no one can ‘dictate’ China’s economic development path as the Communist Party marked 40 years of its historic ‘reform and opening up’ policy amid a stern challenge from the United States. In a speech at the grandiose Great Hall of the People, Xi vowed to press ahead with economic reforms but made clear that Beijing will not deviate from its one-party system or take orders from any other country. Without directly referring to the United States, Xi said China ‘poses no threat’ to any country but warned that it would not be pushed around.

Beijing Could Choke The World Or Save It – Foreign Policy
China Seeks to Defuse Trade War With Reversals on Cars, Corn – Bloomberg
China took more steps to defuse trade tensions with the U.S., confirming it will remove the retaliatory duty on automobiles imported from America and preparing to restart purchases of American corn.
Canada warns Trump: Huawei extradition shouldn’t be ‘politicized’ | TheHill
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland cautioned the Trump administration Friday against seeking to leverage the pending extradition of Chinese technology executive Meng Wanzhou.
China says Canadian woman being punished for working illegally | Reuters
China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday that a Canadian woman is undergoing “administrative punishment” for working illegally, after Canada’s government said a third Canadian had been detained in China.

U.S. reviews whether imports came from Chinese forced labor camp
The AP tracked shipments from a factory in a camp in China’s far western Xinjiang region to Badger Sportswear in North Carolina.
China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor – The New York Times
Mounting evidence suggests ethnic minorities caught in the mass internment drive in Xinjiang are being assigned to new factories making clothes.
US sportswear traced to factory in China’s internment camps – ABC News
Ethnic minorities sew sportswear that can end up on U.S. college campuses.
US sportswear traced to factory in China’s internment camps | Fox News
Chinese men and women locked in a mass detention camp where authorities are “re-educating” ethnic minorities are sewing clothes that have been imported all year by a U.S. sportswear company.
US Sportswear Traced To Internment Camps Holding Detained Chinese Muslims | HuffPost
Chinese authorities are forcing some detained Uighurs and Kazakhs to work in factories, the AP reports.
A Chinese internment camp in Xianjing made clothes for a US college sportswear brand — Quartz
The AP tracked clothing made at one of many internment camps in far-west China to a North Carolina company that supplies numerous US colleges.

China is driving use of armed drones in Mideast, says British think tank
China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering UAVs at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the United States.
A Vietnamese Fisherman Reeled In A Chinese Torpedo In The South China Sea – The Drive
It’s now in the hands of the Vietnamese military and they will likely pick it apart for any intelligence value.
Japan unveiled new plans for an F-35 aircraft carrier — and it’s a Chinese navy killer | Business Insider
Japan on Tuesday announced what everyone had long suspected: Its Izumo-class “helicopter carriers” would host F-35B short-takeoff, vertical-launch stealth jets, and the platform will be transformed into a weapon Tokyo hasn’t wielded since 1945.
Japan Will Have the Military Capabilities to Attack Enemy Bases for the First Time Since WWII
Fellow Asian nations, including U.S. rivals China and North Korea as well as Washington ally South Korea, have expressed their concern.
Japan is now the biggest foreign buyer of Lockheed’s F-35 fighters — Quartz
Japan’s upgraded self-defense spending involve buying dozens of stealth fighter jets from Lockheed Martin, and plans to deploy an aircraft carrier.
Japan to buy more U.S.-made stealth jets, radar to counter China, Russia | Reuters
Japan will accelerate spending on advanced stealth fighters, long-range missiles and other equipment over the next five years to support U.S. forces facing China’s military in the Western Pacific, two new government defense papers said.

Foreign Policy Reports



The Observer view on why the only sensible option for Britain is a second vote | Observer editorial | Opinion | The Guardian
There’s one way out of this morass, but politicians must rise to the challenge
Brexit Revote? Calls for a Second Referendum Grow Louder – WSJ
More than two years after Britons voted to leave the European Union, the U.K.’s politicians still can’t agree on what kind of Brexit they want. Now more lawmakers are calling for a do-over, a second referendum that could potentially reverse the results of the first.
How Britain Botched Brexit—And How It Can Still Succeed | The National Interest
British Prime Minister Theresa May has one last card to play in an exodus game that could be quite costly for the Britain’s citizens.
New EU referendum would break faith with Britons, May to warn MPs – BBC News
Theresa May will warn MPs against having a new referendum if Parliament is deadlocked over Brexit.
May Attacks Second Brexit Referendum Plan as a Breach of Trust – Bloomberg
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May will attack supporters of a second Brexit referendum on Monday as she explains to Parliament why European Union leaders rebuffed her attempt to make her divorce deal more attractive to lawmakers.
Brexit pressure rises, but UK government says no to second vote | Reuters
Britain’s government is not preparing for a second referendum on Brexit, ministers said on Sunday, sticking to the script that Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal could still pass through parliament with a few changes.
Theresa May angrily confronts Jean-Claude Juncker after he publicly criticised her Brexit demands | Business Insider
LONDON – An angry-looking Theresa May confronted the European Commission’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker, on Friday after European Union leaders rejected her latest Brexit proposals and he publicly chastised the UK’s approach to negotiations.
May Said to Warn Merkel, Macron Their Brexit Deal Is Nearly Dead – Bloomberg
Theresa May privately warned Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel that the Brexit deal is dead unless they compromise, after European leaders rebuffed her requests for help selling the agreement to politicians in London.
British minister warns Brexit is stuck as no-deal or referendum loom | Reuters
Britain’s exit from the European Union was heading for an impasse, one senior minister said on Saturday, after a week in which Prime Minister Theresa May failed to win EU assurances on her deal and pulled a vote because UK lawmakers would defeat it.
Brexit vote, round II? Amid chaos, the once unthinkable is now debated. – The Washington Post
Support for a do-over has been growing.
How Trump Made War on Angela Merkel and Europe | The New Yorker
The German Chancellor and other European leaders have run out of patience with the President, Susan B. Glasser writes.
How two angry protests sum up Europe’s politics – The Washington Post
Europeans may have greater political concerns than hysteria over immigration.

It’s Macron’s Destiny to Be Hated – Foreign Policy
The French president can make all the concessions he wants, but he can’t make the public like him.
The Miseducation of France’s President Emmanuel Macron – Bloomberg
Stunned by December’s vehement protests, France’s president takes refuge in the past.
End of Macron: Why is SARKOZY stepping in to save French government in CRISIS? | World | News |
THE “yellow vest” protest movement is not showing signs of slowing down, so amid rising tension in France why has President Macron called in his predecessor Nicholas Sarkozy?
Macron’s Popularity Slides Despite Yellow Vest Concessions – Bloomberg
Emmanuel Macron’s popularity continued to slide in December despite concessions announced by the French president in response to weeks of protests by the so-called Yellow Vest movement.
France ‘yellow vest’ protesters defy government to gather – BBC News
Dozens are arrested across France, as fewer protesters than in recent weeks defy the government.
‘Yellow vest’ protests in France draw fewer demonstrators, less violence in latest round of weekend demonstrations – ABC News
The “yellow vest” movement first protested in France five weeks ago.

Hungary’s prime minister stole democracy. Hungarians are rising up. – Vox
Protests threaten Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s hold on power. They started over a labor law.
Hungary’s opposition plans more protests after ‘slave law’ passes | World news | The Guardian
Opposition parties collaborate on joint strategy to put pressure on PM Viktor Orbán
Hungary Protests Spark Opposition Coalition — but Will It Last?
It is unclear whether the fledgling cooperation can last long enough to solidify and offer viable opposition to Orban, a politician adept at side-lining dissent
Hungary protests spark opposition coalition – but will it last? | Reuters
Week-long protests in Budapest have forged fragmented opposition parties into a rare coalition against Viktor Orban, drawing young Hungarians into the streets to demonstrate against what they see as his increasingly authoritarian rule.
Hungary’s protests unite the country’s opposition against Viktor Orban – CNN
From the far-right to the left, opposition parties across Hungary’s political spectrum have been showing political unity against what they consider the increasingly authoritarian rule of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his ruling Fidesz Party.
‘All I Want For Christmas Is Democracy,’ Say Hungary Protesters | HuffPost
Hundreds of police in riot gear shepherded what was one of the biggest demonstrations Viktor Orban has faced since he rose to power in 2010.
I occupied Hungary’s state TV offices with other MPs. This is only the start | Ágnes Vadai | Opinion | The Guardian
Hungarians will continue to resist until the Orbán regime is gone, says the Democratic Coalition MP Ágnes Vadai
Outside Hungary’s State Television: A Protest. On Air: Pigeon Talk. – The New York Times
Under Viktor Orban, Hungary has become a place of two parallel realities. But rarely have these two bubbles seemed so surreally far apart than during the past week of protests.
4 Lawmakers Assaulted in Hungary, as Protests Against Orban Continue – The New York Times
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has eroded Hungary’s democratic institutions, but largely avoided acts of state-led violence. That changed on Monday.
Protests Grip Hungary In Response To Overtime Measure That Critics Call A ‘Slave Law’ : NPR
The new law allows employers to ask staff to work up to 400 hours per year of overtime — but employers can delay payment for up to three years.
Juncker Lashes Out at Hungary’s Orban for Spreading Fake News – Bloomberg
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker accused Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban — who’s drawn the ire of the European Union for testing the boundaries of the rule of law — of spreading disinformation.
EU’s Juncker takes aim at Hungary’s Orban over fake news | Reuters
European Union leaders on Friday backed a plan to tackle fake news on the internet and the bloc’s chief executive rounded on one of the EU chiefs, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, as one of the main culprits in spreading disinformation.
Budapest rocked by second night of protests over ‘slave law’ – CNN
Thousands of demonstrators hit the streets of Budapest for a second night over the passing of a series of bills that critics argue will cement Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s grip on power.
Hungary: Anti-govt protesters confront police at Parliament | Fox News
A few thousand anti-government protesters confronted police Thursday night outside Hungary’s Parliament, temporarily retreating when officers used pepper spray and tear gas to drive them back.
Hungary Protests: Viktor Orban Suffers for His Overconfidence – Bloomberg
Unless he takes a step back, he risks losing his dominance.
People are protesting in authoritarian Hungary: Here’s what to expect
Hungary has become the go-to example for democracy in demise. Recent protests, however, have highlighted a fatal flaw in strongman President Viktor Orban’s model.
Tycoon Allies Join Orban to Build Hungary’s Balkan Influence – Bloomberg
Long at the mercy of geopolitical forces, Hungary under Viktor Orban is looking to carve out its own sphere of influence.

EU Criticizes Western Balkans, Eastern Neighbors Over Migration
The European Union has asked Western Balkans and EU Eastern Partnership countries that have visa-free regimes with the bloc’s Schengen Area to take further measures to address irregular migration.
Thousands brave snow to rally against Serbian leader Vucic – ABC News
Outpouring of discontent with the autocratic rule of President Aleksandar Vucic.
Thousands Rally In Belgrade Against Serbian President
Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of the Serbian capital of Belgrade to express their discontent with the rule of President Aleksandar Vucic and his government.
Skopje, Sofia Not Speaking Same Language When It Comes To Macedonian
A Bulgarian minister has threatened to try to block Macedonia’s bids to join the EU and NATO over Skopje’s insistence that Macedonian is its own language.

Germany to compensate those who fled Nazis as children | Fox News
Germany has agreed to one-time payments for survivors, primarily Jews, who were evacuated from Nazi Germany as children, many of whom never saw their parents again, the organization that negotiates compensation with the German government said Monday.
Jewish Cemetery In France Desecrated With Swastikas Amid Growing Anti-Semitism | HuffPost Australia
Thirty-seven tombstones and a monument to Holocaust victims were desecrated this week in the Herrlisheim Jewish cemetery near Strasbourg.
Most Nazis escaped justice. Now Germany is racing to convict those who got away – CNN
With the last surviving perpetrators of Nazi war crimes now well into old age, Germany is racing against time to bring them to justice.

Australian Gag Order Stokes Global Debate on Secrecy – The New York Times
When a local judge placed a gag order on a high-profile criminal case, it muzzled journalists and publishers around the world from reporting on a subject of international interest.

Venezuela’s last anti-Maduro newspaper publishes final print edition | Reuters
Venezuela’s El Nacional newspaper, which has been heavily critical of the ruling Socialist Party, on Friday published its last print edition after struggling for years under government pressure and a collapsing economy.
For Goodness’ Sake: Those Who Inspired Us In 2018
From the Afghan boy working hard so his sisters can go to school, to the Siberian pensioner who loves the solitude of ice skating on Lake Baikal, here are some of the inspiring people RFE/RL journalists have met over the past year.
Financial Times selects George Soros as its ‘Person of the Year’ | TheHill
The Financial Times has named George Soros as its person of the year for 2018, citing the prominent liberal activist and billionaire as a “standard bearer of liberal democracy and open society.”



Capability / Strategy / History Publications



Technology Is Making Warfare in Cities Even Deadlier – Defense One
From airports to undergrounds, new weapons and brutal tactics will make things worse for urban dwellers.
Project Maven Overseer Will Lead Pentagon’s New AI Center – Defense One
DOD rewards three-star with the lead on its new AI-development center.
Why DARPA thinks air assets will be the last to get laser weapons
Issues related to weight and cooling may slow down the deployment of directed energy onto Air Force platforms.
Introducing China’s J-20 Stealth Fighter (And All Of Its Deadly Missiles) | The National Interest
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force made waves at the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow with the latest showing of their flagship fifth-generation stealth fighter, the J-20.
Russia’s Carnivora is designed for a drone-eat-drone world
Russia’s new counterdrone vehicle is designed to operate in denied environments.
US Army Narrows Search For Light Tank to Two Companies – Defense One
General Dynamics and BAE Systems will each build 12 prototypes of an up-to-40-ton armored vehicle.
Start of US Air Force’s light-attack plane competition pushed back until next year
Those wondering if the Air Force will start a new program of record will have to wait a little longer.
U.S. Air Force releases details of large-scale Joint Forcible Entry exercise – Defence Blog
The U.S. Air Force released details of this year large-scale airdrop and land mobility exercise, called the Joint Forcible Entry. The Joint Forcible Entry (JFE) exercise is an annual large-scale airdrop and land mobility mission that simulates a contested battlefield scenario as a way of training units for the dangerous airdrop situations that can occur while deployed. The massive aerial formation consists of more than 99 aircraft, including C-130 Hercules, C-130 J’s, and C-17 Globemasters, from all over the country. The planes meet up in the air at different points, dropping scores of paratroopers and military combat equipment over a drop zone near Nellis. “The Joint Forcible Entry is one of the most important capabilities the United States has within its armed forces,” said Lt. Col. Jeremy Reich, the director of operations for the 156th Airlift Squadron of the 145th Airlift Wing. “It’s also one of the most difficult and complicated, [as it] consists of large multi-element formations and airdrop operations, command and control integration, blue force integration, complex threat mitigation, and semi-prepared dirt runway operations.” As one of the most challenging and complex missions of the year, JFE integrates decisive action while demonstrating crisis response and global mobility. According to the U.S. Army, JFE exercises train the global response force, and demonstrate their readiness to deploy within hours and fight globally. The objective of this exercise is to integrate Army airborne and land operations, with joint air support, and special operations against an opposing enemy force.

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports



How the European Union was stymied by phishing
Chinese government hackers using basic phishing methods were able to infiltrate the European Union’s communication network, possibly for years, according to a Dec. 19 report by Area 1.
Report Describes Thousands of Hacked EU Diplomatic Cables
Messages included discussion of Trump administration policies and its relations with the EU and China
Hackers Infiltrated Thousands of EU Diplomatic Cables Over Several Years: Report – The Daily Beast
Secret communications reveal concerns about Trump, Russia, China, and Iran.
Hacked European Cables Reveal a World of Anxiety About Trump, Russia and Iran – The New York Times
The cables quote China’s president calling America a bully, show concerns about Russian nuclear weapons in Crimea and detail the White House walking back President Trump’s words.
Audit finds cyber vulnerabilities in US missile defense system
A Defense Department Inspector General report raises more questions about the military’s shoddy cybersecurity.
Alliance for Securing Democracy: 21 December 2018 Securing Democracy Dispatch – To Inform is to Influence
Dear readers, we will resume our newsletter after the holidays, on January 7, 2019. As the year comes to a close, please consider donating to the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD). Your financial support is critical to our efforts to defend democracy around the world against authoritarian interference. We wish you a happy and safe holiday break and New Year.

Writer touted by CNN as ‘Journalist of the Year’ forced to resign for fabricating stories | Fox News
The German magazine Der Spiegel revealed Wednesday that one of its top award-winning journalists fabricated many of his articles, inventing characters, sources, and their quotes “on a grand scale” for many years.
Der Spiegel Fires Award-Winning Writer, Citing Fabrication on ‘Grand Scale’ – The New York Times
Claas Relotius, a writer for the German magazine Der Spiegel, was fired after he admitted inventing quotations and characters in at least 14 articles.

US Domestic Policy Reports



READ: James Mattis’ resignation letter – CNNPolitics
Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned Thursday, a day after President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw troops from Syria became public.
Mattis was ‘livid’ before Trump meeting – YouTube
CNN Published on Dec 20, 2018 Two defense officials tell CNN that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis went to the White House to discuss Syria, and that Mattis was upset and “livid” after reading reports this morning about US local allies in Syria being targeted by Turkey following a withdrawal of US troops from Syria.
Jim Mattis’ resignation letter is an absolutely stunning rejection of Trumpism – CNNPolitics
Lots of Cabinet officials — and I mean LOTS — have either resigned or been fired by President Donald Trump in his first 20 months in office. But no one has quit in quite the same way as Defense Secretary James Mattis did Thursday night.
U.S. Defense Chief Mattis To Leave, Says Views Not Fully ‘Aligned’ With Trump
U.S. Defense Chief Jim Mattis will be leaving his post early next year, saying in his resignation letter that his views are not fully “aligned” with President Donald Trump and citing policies t…
Mattis Resigns Over Disagreements with Trump – Defense One
In two-page resignation letter, defense secretary cites need to treat allies with respect, potential adversaries with resolve.
Mattis out: Defense secretary says his views no longer aligned with Trump
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will retire
Read Defense Secretary Mattis’ resignation letter
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will step down at the end of February.
Trump pulling out of Syria. Might Afghanistan be next?
Against the advice of many in his own administration, President Donald Trump is pulling U.S. troops out of Syria. Could a withdrawal from Afghanistan be far behind?
Lawmakers tell Trump his decision to pull troops out of Syria is a ‘costly mistake’
Both Republicans and Democrats criticized the move, saying it ignores advice from military and intelligence leaders.
Trump move to pull US troops from Syria opens way to turmoil
The United States’ Kurdish allies had been gearing up for a new fight for weeks, digging trenches and defense tunnels in northeastern Syria in preparation for an offensive Turkey’s president warned was imminent.

Will the Space Force sit under the Department of the Air Force? The Pentagon finally has an answer.
President Donald Trump has been briefed on the way forward.
Trump plans to create unified US Space Command
The move is separate from Trump’s goal of creating a
The Divide Between Silicon Valley and Washington Is a National-Security Threat – To Inform is to Influence
Civil-military gap, knowledge gap, training gap, memory gap …. and the national security imperative of closing them. Closing the gap between technology leaders and policy makers will require a radically different approach from the defense establishment. DEC 13, 2018   Amy Zegart, Contributing editor at The Atlantic  Kevin Childs, Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force…
Pentagon Needs Better System to Track Fraudulent Spending – Defense One
The incoming Congress should tie defense budgets to accounting improvements.
Civilians Are Cheaper Than Contractors for Most Defense Jobs, Internal Report Finds – Defense One
Contractors are particularly more expensive in the capital and Southeastern regions, according to a report obtained exclusively by Government Executive.

Trump will likely win reelection in 2020 | TheHill
Assuming Donald Trump runs for reelection, he is the favorite to win.
Trump admin to lift sanctions on firms owned by Russian oligarch Deripaska | TheHill
The Treasury Department announced Wednesday that it would lift financial sanctions on Deripaska’s aluminum company, United Co. Rusal, in 30 days after Deripaska agreed to signficantly reduce his ownership.
Trump Security Adviser To Be Sentenced For Lying About Talks With Russian Diplomat
Michael Flynn’s sentencing hearing is the latest chapter in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s continuing legal drama, a drama that has inched closer to President Donald Trump himself.
Mueller releases Flynn files showing FBI doubts over ‘lying,’ tensions over interview | Fox News
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team on Friday released key documents relating to the FBI’s questioning of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, confirming agents did not believe at the time Flynn intentionally lied to them — though he was later charged with making false statements in that interview.
Russia Investigations: Collusion Case Looks Weaker Amid Focus On Cohen : NPR
This week in the Russia investigations: Headlines and courtroom action are coming thick and fast in the final weeks of the year, but a core “collusion” case remains unproven.
Michael Flynn Biz Partner Bijan Kian Charged in Scheme to Send Cleric Back to Turkey
He is accused of trying to get cleric Fethullah Gulen extradited from the U.S. to Turkey.
Two ex-associates of Michael Flynn charged with illegal lobbying for Turkey | Fox News
Two ex-business associates of former national security adviser Michael Flynn have been charged over alleged illegal lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government in the United States and making false statements to the FBI, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.
Jonathan Turley: Judge surprises Flynn at sentencing hearing – Here’s what to expect next | Fox News
One could well understand if President Trump’s fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was a tad confused Tuesday at his sentencing hearing on his guilty plea to a single count of making false statements to federal investigators.
Michael Flynn Sentencing: Washington Owes Him an Apology – Bloomberg
One year after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, there is still no evidence that he is a traitor.
Michael Flynn’s sentencing delayed by judge after dramatic hearing for ex-national security adviser | Fox News
A federal judge delayed sentencing once again for former national security adviser Michael Flynn on Tuesday, pushing off the case after a dramatic hearing.  
Judge asks prosecutors: Could Flynn have been charged with treason? – YouTube
CNN Published on Dec 18, 2018 President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn expected to be sentenced Tuesday by a federal judge. But after almost two dramatic hours in a courtroom discussing his crimes, he asked to postpone his sentencing for several months so he can have more of an opportunity to cooperate in federal investigations and attempt to mitigate the judge’s disgust with his actions.
Two ex-business associates of Michael Flynn charged in plot centered on Turkish cleric – ABC News
Former Michael Flynn associates Bijan Kian and Kamil Alptekin are accused of illegally lobbying for the Turkey government to expel political rival Fethullah Gulen.
Former business associate pleaded not guilty – CNNPolitics
A former business associate of ex-Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn who was indicted by the Justice Department on charges of trying to influence American politicians to seek the extradition of a Turkish cleric pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.
Michael Flynn sentencing delayed: Why Judge Sullivan has leeway – The Washington Post
A federal judge rejected Mueller’s sentence recommendation.
Trump attorney general choice, William Barr, on Mueller probe: Report
U.S. President Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general, William Barr, said in a memo earlier this year that part of Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is “fatally misconceived,” The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
Trump’s Attorney General Pick Criticized an Aspect of Mueller Probe in Memo to Justice Department – WSJ
William Barr, President Trump’s attorney general pick, has criticized Robert Mueller’s inquiry into potential obstruction of justice by Mr. Trump, saying in a June memo to the Justice Department that it is based on a “fatally misconceived” theory.
BuzzFeed Wins Defamation Lawsuit Filed by Executive Named in Trump Dossier – The New York Times
A federal judge ruled in favor of the news site, which took a risk in publishing the unverified document on alleged connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Federal judge deals setback to BuzzFeed in Russia dossier lawsuit – POLITICO
The judge that Aleksej Gubarev is not a public figure for purposes of the defamation suit he filed last year.