Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (66)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Of note, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ twitter account is bearing the picture of Maria Butina, with her name.  Is this official recognition? No, but it is interesting after all the Russian denials.

No, Ms. Zakharova, we believe Russia will drop the chemical weapons.  After all, Russia has helicopters and history. But if you insist, okay, helicopters from LNR and DPR will drop chemical weapons on Donbas and blame Ukraine. But it’s really Russia, posing a faked provocation, blaming Ukraine. Besides, Russia is doing all the predictive reporting, which always, somehow, seems to actually be a Russian action. 

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The Russian propaganda offensive appears to be following the same threads as earlier in the week – INF, nuclear armageddon, impending Ukrainian CW attack, now flipped to indignation over Ukrainians warning of a impending Russian CW attack. Russia reboots the ISIS canard. Never a dull day in the Muscovian alternate reality world. Felgenhauer argues that Ukraine and Russia are ready for a major war. Portnikov catches a Freudian slip by Lavrov. More on Russia’s fiscal woes. Four essays on the regime’s loss of domestic credibility.

Update on Salisbury and related matters.

Amb Volker on Russia and Ukraine. Multiple analysts on the Russian buildup.

AFU supplied with 2,500 PGMs and GWs this year. New Ukrainian Kolibri (Hummingbird) MANPADS to enter production in 2019. Political, economic, cultural reports.


MFA Russia 🇷🇺 on Twitter: “#Lavrov: We are confident that the scrapping of the INF Treaty could’ve a serious impact on international security and stability. We are forced to issue a warning that we cannot and will not ignore the deployment of new US missiles threatening Russia https://t.co/k4HGzTrtTy… https://t.co/Uwrb0IdBOm”

Russia Warns War with U.S. Could Break Out Due to ‘Fatal’ Misunderstanding

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “there is no doubt that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Era of Russian-American Nuclear Parity Rapidly Coming to an End’ and Not in Russia’s Favor, Vorobyev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 23 – Despite all of Vladimir Putin’s talk about super weapons that no opponent can stop, the aging of Soviet-era missiles and growing delays in bringing new Russian missiles on line mean that “the era of nuclear parity between Russia and the US is rapidly coming to an end,” Stanislav Vorobyev says. And it is ending in a way that leaves the Russian Federation in an ever worse position, one that will call into question its pretensions as more than a regional power given that the only basis for its claims to be a super power is its nuclear arsenal, the Moscow commentator says (svpressa.ru/blogs/article/220022/). That in turn, Vorobyev suggests, will have ever more significant consequences for what Moscow can and cannot do internationally and may go a long way to explaining why the Kremlin is talking about nuclear war now, given that it is likely to be far less capable of waging one in only a year or two. In his article, the commentator provides a detailed description of the fact that many of the delivery systems on which the Russian nuclear weapons depend are in danger of going out of service before new ones can come on line. Missiles and submarines from Soviet times are aging and ever less capable, and the production of replacements is plagued by ever greater delays. Vorobyev lists the ships which will soon have to be refitted or retired and documents that the time between announcement of a new weapons system and its being made operational has more than doubled between the Brezhnev era and the Putin one. This has three major consequences, he suggests. First, it is leading to “a sharp imbalance between Northern Eurasia and North America in the sphere of strategic arms. The Russian Federation will be forced to reduce by almost a third the number of its nuclear weapons” that are ready to be used. “Put in simplest terms,” the commentator says, “the era of nuclear parity is receding into the past.” Second, he continues, “the Russian Federation is losing its most threatening weapon; the only argument which is has to present itself as ‘a strategic partner’ for the US. And third, the lengthening delays in putting new weapons systems on line may mean that they will never go operational at all. Statements by Russian military officials about just how long this is going to take suggest that “at a minimum,” there will be several years in which Russia will see a decline in the number of nuclear weapons it can actually and credibly threaten to deliver. And that number may in fact grow over time if factories can’t produce more and tests can’t be conducted more rapidly. “In the best case,” Vorobyev says, “we are now at the edge of serious changes in the balance of nuclear forces between the Russian Federation and the US, something which inevitably will have an impact on future developments.” If Russia is unable to replace the Soviet nuclear weapons delivery systems on which it now relies, it will be reduced in importance. Possibly reduced even to the rank of a regional or local power like “present-day Iran,” the commentator says. “This may look extraordinarily categorical,” he says, “but there are practically no chances for changing this trend.”

Ukrainian official invites British warship to cross Kerch Strait & see how Russia reacts — RT World News

A deputy minister in Kiev suggested that the British Navy should send its warship to the Sea of Azov to test Russia’s response. Moscow described the idea as ‘bonkers.’

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Both Russia and Ukraine Ready for New Expansion of War, Felgengauer Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 24 – If Moscow wants to expand its aggression in Ukraine, it will easily find a “formal” justification for this because both Russia and Ukraine are prepared for “an escalation of military action” between them, according to independent Russian military analyst Pavel Felgengauer. He made his comments to Ukraine’s Gordon news agency in response to those of Kurt Volker, the US special representative on Ukraine, who said that Russia “needed an occasion for aggression” (gordonua.com/news/war/felgengauer-k-voyne-seychas-gotovy-vse-i-rossiya-i-ukraina-606756.html). Whether there will be “a winter war” or not remains to be seen, Felgengauer says; but “the possibility exists” given the concentration of forces on both sides. “Thus, the escalation of the conflict is not excluded. But if this doesn’t happen before the end of January, it means that there will not be a winter campaign.” Given the poor state of roads in the Donbass, the best times for launching an attack are either in the summer when drought makes the roads passable or in the winter when freezing weather does the same thing, the military analyst says. He adds that a Russian attack via the Sea of Azov is improbable given that its shallow waters create difficulties for the Russian fleet. If Russia wants to start a new wave of aggression, Felgengauer says, it will not be difficult for it to find an occasion. That raises tensions on both sides, especially given that it isn’t clear whether Moscow will use regular forces or hybrid ones as it has in the course of earlier moves against Ukraine. What makes things especially worrisome, the military analyst says, is that Russian officials, like foreign ministry spokesperson Mariya Zakharova have been suggesting that Kyiv is preparation “provocations in the Donbass,” exactly the kind of thing Moscow accuses others of doing before it does so itself.

UAWire – Russia warns of a global conflict if US withdraws from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty 

On December 21, the UN General Assembly did not approve the Russian resolution  aimed at preserving the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty …

UAWire – Russian Defense Minister: the army has received record-high number of modern weapons

According to the Defense Ministry’s website, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu stated that the Russian Army saw an unprecedented increase in equipment with modern weaponry this year, a level not achieved by any army in the world. The minister also stated that Russian army has received a total of more than 1,500 weapons and more than 80,000 pieces of military equipment. “In general, we reached the point of 61.5% in modern weapon armaments. Such an availability of modern technology is not specific or has not been achieved by any army in today’s world,” said Shoygu. He also added that in 2019, the Russian military plan to reach 67% and then 70% the following year. Earlier in December, the commander of long-range aviation, Lieutenant General Sergey Kobylash said that in the future, the Air Force would receive Tu-160 M2 combat aircraft with improved characteristics. It was announced in September that the new state program of armaments would be adopted in Russian in 2023 and would last from 2024 to 2033. The current program was launched in Russia this year, which will last until 2027.

MFA Russia 🇷🇺 on Twitter: “#Zakharova: We are deeply concerned about claims in Ukrainian media coming from so-called “experts” about the possible use of #chemical #weapons by armed units of the #Lugansk and #Donetsk People’s Republics. https://t.co/juDgmeNj5Q #Ukraine #Kiev #Donbass… https://t.co/OYYK2ly0g2”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Media Outlets Today with Disturbing Unanimity Say Ukraine Readying Chemical Weapons Attack against Donbass

Paul Goble Staunton, December 25 – On Western Christmas when too few outside of Moscow and Kyiv are paying close attention, the Moscow media has filled up with stories that the Ukrainian military is preparing to launch a chemical weapons attack against the breakaway regions of Ukraine’s Donbass. Yandex news lists 82 such stories as of 1400 EST. All of the stories rely on a report from Eduard Basurin, the deputy chief of the popular militia of the DNR (youtube.com/watch?v=XcIbdfSLLGI), and almost without exception they appear to have been written or broadcast to stir up anti-Ukrainian hysteria. (For examples, see.)rg.ru/2018/12/25/poezd-s-toksichnym-veshchestvom-zametili-pod-doneckom.htmlgazeta.ru/politics/2018/12/25_a_12107827.shtml, новости-донбасса.ru-an.info/новости/представитель-армии-днр-в-красногоровку-каратели-завезли-бочки-с-химическим-отравляющим-веществом/ andm.lenta.ru/news/2018/12/25/nanuxalis/ There is no other confirmation of Basurin’s claims. What makes this media explosion of charges against Ukraine especially worrisome, as Pavel Felgengauer has pointed out, is that Russian officials often charge others in advance with doing exactly what Moscow is planning to do itself (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/12/both-russia-and-ukraine-ready-for-new.html).

Russia expands sanctions list against Ukraine – Medvedev states on expansion of Ukrainian sanctions list – 112.international

Russia expands sanctions list against Ukraine

‘Putin’s Ribbentrop’ Emphasizes Moscow Still Wants All of Ukraine, Portnikov Says – To Inform is to Influence

Wednesday, December 19, 2018 Paul Goble Staunton, December 17 – Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov says Moscow will not recognize the Donbass republics because to do so would be “to lose all the rest of Ukraine and leave it to the Nazis,” a clear indication from “Putin’s Ribbentrop” that the Kremlin wants to control all…

Russia announces plans to set up its first ever military base in the Caribbean | Daily Mail Online

The state-sponsored TASS news agency reported that Russian experts had selected the island of La Orchila, 125 miles northeast of Caracas, as a possible military base up to 10 years ago.

London Court Refuses To Extradite Russian Citing Torture Concerns

London’s High Court of Justice has ruled against extraditing Russian businessman Aleksei Shmatko to Russia.

WW3: Russian missile EXPLODES into dozens of FIREBALLS seconds after launch – SHOCK video | World | News | Express.co.uk

EXTRAORDINARY footage of a Russian missile exploding seconds after launching from a military test site has emerged.

UAWire – Russian military industry cut off from US dollar 

US sanctions have led to the Russian military-industrial complex being cut off from dollar transactions, reports finanz.ru.  Although the …

Foreign Investors Flee Russia in 2018, Pull $1 Bln – To Inform is to Influence

Capital flight.  Capital flight is a large-scale exodus of financial assets and capital from a nation due to events such as political or economic instability, currency devaluation or the imposition of capital controls. This is what we are seeing in Russia, compounding their financial woes. </end editorial> 27 December 2018 Foreign investors have reportedly withdrawn more than $1 billion from…

UAWire – US may impose new sanctions on Russia for attempting to influence US voters 

Foreigners were unable to interfere with the counting of votes during Congress’s interim elections, but several countries did conduct cyber …

Russia social media influence efforts ongoing, report says

Some of the Facebook and Instagram ads linked to a Russian effort to disrupt the American political process and stir up tensions around divisive social issues, released by members of the U.S. House Intelligence committee, are photographed in Washington, on Wed., Nov. 1, 2017. A report compiled by private researchers and released by the Senate intelligence committee Monday says that “active and ongoing” Russian interference operations still exist on social media platforms, and that the Russian operation discovered after the 2016 presidential election was much broader than once thought. (Jon Elswick/AP)

Kremlin’s “useful idiots” once again spreading fake narrative of “Islamic State in Ukraine” – OSINT group | UNIAN

Former Russian State Duma MP Sergei Markov has posted on Facebook an excerpt from an article by a journalist Marc Bennetts about a so-called Chechen battalion, which is allegedly based outside the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol. An attempt by the Russian propaganda to defame Ukraine with a ‘plotted chemical attack’ report has failed, so the Kremlin opted to recall the old fake news about ISIS.

“Information Resist” Exposes Russian Fake Narrative Of ISIS in Ukraine – To Inform is to Influence

Russia’s predictive reporting of a Ukrainian chemical weapons attack on Donbas did not work. #RussiaFail Russia immediately switched to another fabrication, that of a supposed ISIS threat inside Ukraine. Unfortunately, Russia tried this before. #RussiaFail RT Ukraine army’s Chechen allies openly admit having Islamic State links – report Once again my spaghetti theory is at…

Russia prevents WADA from finding doping data in Moscow lab – To Inform is to Influence

In the words of that famous American philosopher, Gomer Pyle, “Surprise, surprise, surprise.”   Russia was reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency in September 2018 under the condition that the Russian Anti-doping Agency hand over their doping data. This, after a three-year suspension. Not unexpectedly, Russia demurred when the World Doping Agency showed up to collect…

Every third resident of the Russian Federation believes that in 2019, Russia could be at war with a neighboring country, one in five is ready to go to war with the United States or NATO, a poll

57% of Russians surveyed are ready for economic crisis, 44% – to mass protests, 13% – to the state revolution. More than a third of Russians consider it possible next year’s armed conflict with some of the neighboring countries. This is evidenced by the results of a poll conducted by the Levada Center, reports Tsensor.NET with reference to UNIAN . In particular, responding to the question of whether next year’s armed conflict with neighboring countries is possible, 34% answered affirmatively (4% – definitely, 30% – more so); The opposite opinion is followed by 54% (38% – rather, 16% – definitely not). The answer was 13% of respondents. Read on “Censor.Net”: Russia expands list of subsidiary Ukrainian companies and natural persons 19% of respondents agree that the war with the US or NATO will take place next year; 68% – hold the opposite opinion; 13% – not determined with the answer. At the same time, 57% of respondents consider the possible economic crisis in Russia in 2019 (14% – certainly, 43% – more so); 32% agree with the opposite opinion (26% – rather, 6% – definitely not). Weighed in with a response of 10%. 44% of respondents consider it possible to rage in massive riots and protests in the Russian Federation (8% – certainly, yes, 36% – more so); the opposite opinion is followed by 48% (32% – rather, 16% – definitely not). Replied with 8% of respondents. At the same time, 13% of respondents assume the possibility of carrying out a state coup in Russia next year; 75% – reject such an opportunity.11% – hesitated with the answer. The Levada Center conducted a poll on December 13-19, 2018, in a representative all-Russian sample of urban and rural population in the amount of 1.6 thousand people aged 18 and older in 136 settlements, 52 subjects of the Russian Federation.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Want Very Different Qualities in a Leader than They Did a Year Ago, New Study Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 25 – A year ago, most Russians were prepared to accept that their national leader should have virtually unlimited power, Mikhail Dmitriyev says; but now they have an entirely different view, one that he and his team suggest represents a revolution in national consciousness. Yesterday, the sociologist and his colleagues presented the results of the second sociology study they have made this year – the first was in May – and they say that the results of both “surprised” them. In the May survey, Russians had become disappointed in the strong leader who could bring order (rosbalt.ru/russia/2018/12/24/1755065.html). They “had begun to show an interest in an alternative type of leadership. Respondents said that “the leader they were prepared to follow must show respect to people, honesty, the ability to admit mistakes and act in the interests of the people, must know how people are living in detail and be democratic and peace-loving,” Dmitriyev says. The second survey found these values to be even more widely shared; but it found something else, the team of sociologists say, Russians don’t see any leaders on the horizon who might be able to bring these qualities to the highest offices of the Russian Federation. Instead, while they want a new kind of leader, they view Putin as without obvious competitors. And Lev Gudkov of the Levada Center who also took part in the presentation of Dmitriyev’s report note that this shift in opinion has led to declining trust in the population in the government and in the government in the population but has not made the government ready to change or the population ready to demand change. According to Dmitriyev, “the most unexpected finding” in the October survey was the demand for “a peace-loving foreign policy.” In May, most Russians supported Putin’s approach; but in October, “the number of people” suggesting they want a change in foreign policy “sharply increased” in focus groups in all social and age groups. This has not led to public protests, but “nevertheless, today, no one can with certainty say how Russian society would react to a major war between Russia and Ukraine,” the sociologists concluded. But there won’t be the support for such actions that there might have been four years ago. In 2014, Lev Gudkov said, about 75 percent of Russians said they favored direct Russian intervention against Ukraine. By January 2017, the share saying that had fallen to 20 percent. It seems likely that it is even lower now.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Putin’s Cult of Personality has Finally Died in Russia,’ Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 24 – There is at present no “classic cult of personality” about Putin in Russia, Liliya Shevtsova says. There is only “a small ‘little cult,’” one that is both artificial and hypocritical, and Putin himself likely understands that he is no “’real’ tsar” and that his successors will follow the time-honored Russian practice and denounce and disown him. Russians are increasingly fed up with Putin, polls show, the Russian commentator says. Sixty-one percent say Putin is responsible for Russia’s problems; 79 percent say his regime is corrupt; and 54 percent say Russia should seek a rapprochement with the West (glavred.info/opinions/10036322-kult-lichnosti-putina-v-rossii-okonchatelno-umer.html). Nonetheless, Russians aren’t going into the streets, at least not yet, Shevtsova says. They don’t see an alternative, they are frightened that Russia may fall apart, and they are not sure that such actions could lead to things becoming even worse. As a result, the Kremlin still doesn’t have a lot to fear. But ever more Russians are talking about Putin’s plans to remain in power for the rest of his life and about a post-Putin future for themselves. And these conversations show that Russians aren’t prepared to put up with Putin forever and that many expect real changes when he leaves the scene one way or another. Such expectations exist not because anyone thinks Putin can’t orchestrate his successor, Shevtsova continues, but rather because even if as likely that person comes from the security services or in circles close to them, the new leader will likely not continue the Putin line but strike out in a new direction to build his own authority. “After the departure of Vladimir Putin, politically or biologically,” she argues, “the new power will try to do what all Russian leaders have done during transitions: to strengthen themselves by laying the blame for everything on their predecessor.” It happened to Stalin; it will almost certainly happen again with Putin even if he names his own man to replace him.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Stalin Cult Shows He Feels Close to His Predecessor, Eidman Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 24 – “Every tyrant seeks a worthy predecessor with whom he feels mentally close,” Igor Eidman says. Stalin organized a cult of Ivan the Terrible because he felt he shared many things in common with the earlier Russian ruler. Now, Vladimir Putin has revived a cult of Stalin for exactly the same reason. What unites these two pairs? the Russian commentator who often writes for Deutsche Welle asks rhetorically. “Certainly above all it is that they are brothers in insanity, in their persecution complexes and in their conspiratorial habits of mind” (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2173716012691366&id=100001589654713). “Like all those who suffer from persecution mania, Stalin dreamed up imaginary enemies and threats and then directed” his police force to go after those he suspected. “If the NKVD leaders couldn’t confirm his fantasies, he has them cruelly punished.” Such maniacs, Eidman says, are also especially angry at those who case doubt on what they only imagine. Putin spreads his notions about conspiracies via state television, the commentator continues. “Putin’s bureaucrats just like Stalin’s understand that if they do not indulge the foolish fantasies of their chief, they will not remain in their own positions very long,” although he suggests, in his view, “not so very many of them sincerely believe all this nonsense.” And the longer this goes on, the more dangerous the fantasies of the leader become for him, for the country and for the world. It is thus a very bad sign that Putin is now “promising his minions a warm place in paradise in the event of a nuclear war.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Most Surprising Debate: Could Beria have Transformed Stalin’s USSR into a Democracy?

Paul Goble Staunton, December 23 – Sixty-five years ago today, Stalin’s notorious secret police chief Lavrenty Beria was shot, at least according to the official version. As that date has approached, a debate has broken out in Russia as to whether Beria could have transformed Stalin’s system into a democracy. Most people dismiss this possibility out of hand, but enough are taking it seriously that it is worth noting, not only for what it says about Beria and the situation following the death of Stalin but also for what it suggests about the way in which Russians think about their country’s past and even its future chances. The debate has arisen, commentator Yevgeny Krutikov writes in Vzglyad, because of Beria’s actions over the short period of time between March 1953 when Stalin died and June 1953 when Beria was arrested by his colleagues in the post-Stalin leadership, only to be interrogated and then shot (vz.ru/politics/2018/12/23/956762.html). During that brief period, when Beria was first deputy chairman of the USSR council of ministers and head of the ministry of internal affairs, he “bombarded the Politburo with reports of a reformist character and tried to correct the situation with regard to repressions in the areas of his responsibility,” Krutikov says. Most of these had to do with specific criminal cases that Stalin had initiated near the end of his life for which there was no basis except the Soviet dictator’s paranoia – the doctors’ blot, the Mingrelian affair, the murder of Mikhoels, deportations, and so on – or unjustified imprisonments as well as the use of torture. Those efforts, Krutikov says, have given rise to the idea that Beria was a closet liberal who wanted to transform the system, but if one examines his orders and proposals, there are “extremely few” that in fact are about political change, except for giving passports to the peasants and certain rules governing those living in population centers. The major exception to this involved Beria’s proposals to unify Germany, something he apparently pushed out of the belief that it could prevent the continuation of the division of the world into two blocs and thus reduce pressure on the hard-pressed Soviet Union. But no documents have been found about Beria’s ideas on this point, Krutikov says. Consequently, what is known comes from the indirect memoirs of his opponents and more serious studies of the idea of German reunification which other Soviet leaders had been quietly promoting for some time before 1953. But these hints have come together to lead to a Beria boomlet in recent months. “Certain experts assert,” Krutikov says, “that Beria supposedly was ready for a radical ‘perestroika’ of the entire state system of the USSR, including reducing the leading and directly role of the party, ‘the restoration of socialist legality,’ and an increase in the role of the soviets and the government.” There is no certain evidence for this, the commentator says. But it does reflect something important. By 1953, “the Stalinist system of administration with its characteristic and odious aspects, in the first instance, repressions, by that time had already exhausted itself and was not fulfilling any useful functions beyond its own reproduction and self-preservation.” Dismantling it, Krutikov continues, “was objectively necessary,” and whoever could promote that first was going to win the political struggle. Had Beria been able to do so, he might have won; had someone like Bulganin done so, he would have; but in the event, it as Khrushchev who did so. “Both within the country and around it existed a set of problems which required immediate resolution. In the spring and summer of 1953, Beria set out quite unsystematically to correct what he could as head of the interior ministry. But even the idea of returning passports to the peasants was not connected with agriculture in a direct way.” Therefore, Krutikov says, “to assess the potential chances of Beria as ‘the democratizer of the USSR’ is unreal. All conversations about this reduce to the fact that he ‘didn’t succeed’ or ‘couldn’t,’ but no one can say precisely what precisely he ‘did not succeed’ at doing. And there always remains the chance that the situation could have only become worse.” “To present Beria as a positive figure is just as strange as blackening him completely,” although there is a real basis for the latter, the commentator says. But however that be, a serious conversation about him is impossible because of the absence of records and is likely to remain so for a long time to come.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: In Despair, Former Defense Workers in Vladivostok Ask Father Frost to Bring Their Back Wages

Paul Goble Staunton, December 23 – How bad are things in Russia’s defense sector? So bad that former workers at a Vladivostok defense plant have given up hope that any Russian official, including Vladimir Putin, will listen to their plight and force the firm’s managers to pay them the millions of rubles in back wages they are owed. Instead, a group of 20 former employees of the Radiopribor plant there have signed a collective appeal to what a local media outlet describes as “the all-powerful hero of Russian folk tales, Father Frost, and asked that he bring them at New Year’s all the back wages they are owed” (primamedia.ru/news/772415/). The workers say they have not been paid for four years and that the government-funded defense firm owes them something on the order of 340 million rubles (five million US dollars), an enormous sum especially in the depressed economy of the Russian Far East. They say that their letter to Father Frost is their “last cry of despair.” The former workers of the plant, which has gone into bankruptcy to avoid having to pay its debts, have been promised their money by a variety of local and regional officials. Moscow officials have not bothered to respond. And so far they have not gotten any of the money they are owed. At least, Father Frost will not give them less than the Russian government has.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Non-Russian Struggle for Language Rights about Freedom Not Just Russians, Alpaut Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 25 – Reducing the efforts of non-Russians to preserve their native languages to the struggle of these peoples with Russians is “stupid,” Ramazan Alpaut says. Instead, “this is a struggle for freedom and not simply for self-preservation, for the right to decide for oneself and retain the capacity to make choices.” In a Facebook post today, the IdelReal commentator says that the failure of people to understand this reflects the fact that “the language of the empire is Russian, and many Russians, not without state assistance view the struggle by the peoples of Russia for their languages as a struggle against Russians” (facebook.com/Brukenburger/posts/10216168136849492). “But there is another reason,” Alpaut continues. “Russians themselves are victims of the empire but often many of them do not understand this. Freedom is not simply the chance to live in one’s own language. The empire has instilled in them subservience by destroying all that is not consistent with the general line.” This in turn leads to a situation in which “the people to a significant degree has lost its ability to organize itself, if indeed, it has not lost that already altogether,” he argues. That is what the empire requires from other ethnic groups which still have managed to preserve this ability.” According to Alpaut, “all this is clearly illustrated in the case of the Crimean Tatars. They recently landed in Russian realites. And what did the empire do first? It banned the representative organ of the people. Such freedom simply isn’t an acceptable part of Russian realities.” “And many Russians, looking at the angry Crimean Tatars, sincerely do not understand why they act the want they do and do not want to become like all other Russians. They do not understand because the imperial has ground them down and made them submissive. But this is not the path of progress,” the commentator continues. Alpaut argues that “the state must be developed but it can be only when its citizens have critical thinking, when they are capable of organizing themselves and resolving their problems. But Moscow is afraid of this: it is afraid of losing its monopoly on something. But that path leads to regression, for development without freedom is impossible.” Today also brought reports about two additional developments in Tatarstan that will limit that possibility for Russians and Tatars there alike. On the one hand, it was learned that the Vechernyaya Kazan newspaper, created in 1979, will cease operations on December 31 (idelreal.org/a/29675411.html). And on the other, the Tatarstan authorities have blocked the IdelReal portal in republic ministries, the State Council, the Supreme Court and other government facilities, thus shutting themselves off from a Radio Svoboda project that has been providing people in the region with information they cannot easily get elsewhere (idelreal.org/a/29673810.html).

Japan considering selling old F-15 jets to the U.S. – Defence Blog

The Japanese government may consider selling some of its aging F-15J fighter jets back to the United States, the Nikkei reported on Monday. According to a media report, Japan is considering selling its F-15Js the U.S. to raise funds for purchases of advanced F-35 Lightning II stealth aircraft. Also noted that Washington may sell those fighters to South East Asian nations at cheap prices. Several Japanese officials have confirmed that discussions are underway for what would be the nation’s first sale of used defense equipment to the U.S. Tokyo sounded out Washington on the possibility of such a sale as part of negotiations to purchase 105 F-35 jets from the U.S. The two sides are trying to iron out such details as the number of F-15s to be sold and their prices. Japan plans to buy 45 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighters, worth about $4 billion, in addition to the 42 jets already on order, according to a separate five-year procurement plan. The new planes will include 18 short take off and vertical landing “B” variants of the F-35 that planners want to deploy on Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea. As to F-15J, it is an all-weather air superiority fighter based on the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle in use by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). The F-15J was produced under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Japan’s roughly 200 F-15J s form the core of the Air Self-Defense Force’s air defense capabilities.

Bulgaria announces F-16V Block 70 procurement to replace ageing MiG-29s – Defence Blog

The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced a plan to procure eight F-16V Block 70 fighter jets aimed at replacing its ageing Soviet-designed MiG-29s. On Friday, Bulgaria’s defense ministry commission recommended that the government starts talks with the United States to buy new F-16V Block 70 fighter aircraft to improve its compliance with NATO standards. “The acquisition of a new multipurpose fighter such as F-16V Block 70 from the United States, equipped with the latest generation radar and weaponry will improve significantly the combat capabilities of the Bulgarian air forces,” Bulgaria’s Defense Minister Krasimir Karakachanov told reporters on Friday. Apart from the new Lockheed Martin F-16 jets the United States also proposed new Boeing F-18 Super Hornets. The ministry, however, said it that offer did not meet the tender requirements. The Lockheed Martin F-16V Block 70/72 is the latest and most advanced F-16 on the market today. The F-16 Block 70/72 configuration includes numerous enhancements designed to keep the F-16 at the forefront of international security, strengthening its position as the world’s foremost combat-proven 4th Generation multi-role fighter aircraft. The F-16 Block 70/72 provides advanced combat capabilities in a scalable and affordable package. The core of the F-16 Block 70/72 configuration is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, a modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem, a large-format, high-resolution display; and a high-volume, high-speed data bus. “From what I’ve discussed with pilots, they say F-16 Block 70 are significantly better aircraft than the others they offer us – the old Eurofighters and the Gripens,” Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said on 14 December. Also, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to a press release from December 20 said that: “The United States is committed to working with the Bulgarian government to tailor the final scope of a potential F-16 sale to fit its budgetary and operational requirements, while still offering superior capabilities”. “The United States looks forward to completing final negotiations with the Bulgarian government,” the press release concluded. But it is worth noting that the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev said about “a triumph of lobbyist” during the choice of a new fighter for the needs of the country’s air force. “I don’t want to protect this or that type of aircraft, they are all beautiful to me, I flew them. But I want to protect the selection process, which should be transparent, open and objective,” he said on the air of a local radio station. He added that the U.S. F-16 fighters are very expensive, including in operation. And put the United States cannot earlier than six years. Until that time, the country will have to build an infrastructure for them at its own expense.

We Have Found Ultra Rare Footage Showing A B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber Dropping A 30,000-Pound Bunker Buster Bomb – The Aviationist

The B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is the only aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory currently capable to operationally drop the massive 30,000-lb (14,000 kg) GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator (even though the testing of the MOP involved a B-52 back in 2009, the weapon’s intended platform is only the B-2). The 14-ton GBU-57 is a 20-foot long GPS-guided bomb said to be able to penetrate 200 feet of concrete before exploding: for this reason it is considered the weapon of choice in case of attack on buried targets (such as the North Korean bunkers). Whilst there are just a few images showing the GBU-57 carried by or next to a B-2 (we published one of these in 2013, here) you will hardly find any video of the B-2 dropping one of the two MOPs the stealth bomber can carry in its internal bomb bay. However, we have spotted a clip of a MOP released from the B-2’s bomb bay in a recently published video from the 393rd Bomb Squadron, one of the units that operate the Spirit stealth bomber as part of the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base Missouri. The impressive size of the MOP is pretty evident in the footage (skip towards the end of the video).

The Skripal poisonings: the bungled assassination with the Kremlin’s fingerprints all over it | News | The Guardian

The attempt to kill former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury ended in an accidental death and the unmasking of two members of Russia’s GRU as the suspects

Inside a former Russian spy’s info wars course. Today’s lesson — the nerve agent poisonings in the U.K. – To Inform is to Influence

As my expert Bulgarian source tells me, “These are great insights into chekist propaganda techniques”. As the following Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, aka CBC/Radio-Canada, article explains, there can be multiple interpretations of any situation. Here we see yet another Russian spin on the Skripal assassination. Professor Manoilo, teaching at Lomonosov Moscow State University, blames the British but says that Russian information warfare responded too slowly to the Western “disinformation campaign”. The author, Chris Brown, then gives a rational explanation of British forensic evidence uncovered at the scene, along with interviews with character witnesses of the two suspects, including historical interviews of their lives growing up. Compared with evidence and facts, the Russian story is all words, conjecture, and fabrication. Is this state-sponsored indoctrination? Perhaps. In a way, Russian society is being manipulated by a massive internal information campaign. Here intelligent college students are spoon fed the Russian perspective, There is no opposing information allowed by the Russian government, therefore there is no dispute as to what they should believe. If students go online and discover facts which conflict with what they’ve been taught, this is because the Russian government was too slow to react to Western disinformation. As we move forward, we must be aware that Western truth and facts are vastly overwhelmed inside Russia by an internal Russian propaganda and disinformation campaign. This is all designed to portray Russia as a victim. Facts, indeed. </end editorial>

Russia urges Western states to calm its Azov Sea tensions with Ukraine – 112.international

Foreign Ministry of Russian Federation informed that it hoped Western states would not participate in any Ukraine’s attempts to stage what it called “a provocation” in Kerch Strait and talk official Kyiv out of escalating tensions in the area, as Reuters reported. “Ukraine said last week it planned to send warships to its Azov Sea ports via the Kerch Strait despite Russia’s seizure of three navy vessels and their crews in the area in November,” the news agency reads. Gavin Williamson, the Defence Minister of Britain, visited Ukraine last week. He told his Ukrainian counterpart that the Black Sea did not belong to the Russian Federation. As it was reported, Great Britain sent Royal Navy vessel to the Black Sea waters.

Russia Repeats Claim That Ukraine Is Preparing A ‘Provocation’ – To Inform is to Influence

Russia is doubling down on their statement that Ukraine is going to launch a “provocation” in Donbas. Ukraine is surrounded with Russian tanks along the Russia/Ukraine border. Russian combat aircraft have surged to their highest levels, surrounding Ukraine. The Russian navy has surged into Crimea and the Black Sea. Russian combat commanders have arrived in Crimea. …and somehow Ukraine is going to launch a “provocation”? Methinks Russia is set to launch a Gleiwitz incident. Historically, anytime Russia predicts such a type of event from an adversary, Russia is firmly behind the incident. Russia then denies responsibility, then blameshifts and accuses their opponent of the dastardly deed. Such was the case in Syria when chemical weapons were dropped on civilians siding with Russian and Syrian opponents. Russia blamed the US and the rebels. Notice, Russia is pointing to a “land-based” provocation, whereas Ukraine has actually talked about a naval convoy asserting their right of free passage through the Kerch Straits. Russia has been predicting a chemical weapons attack in Donbas, yet Ukraine has no need to attack Donbas. There is no logical reason for Ukraine to do such an attack. Russia has a history of chemical weapon bombings. Furthermore, Russia is the only country predicting such an unusual event. Sharpen your pencils, freshen the ink, and fill up your devices with electrons (metaphorically), it looks like Russia is getting ready to do something. Just in time for Christmas, too. </end editorial>

Russia Repeats Claim That Ukraine Is Preparing A ‘Provocation’

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has said “it is quite possible” that Ukraine “might switch to full-scale combat actions within the next few days.”

Kurt Volker Interview for TSN. Week (full version in English with subtitles) – YouTube

Kurt Volker’s interview for TSN.Tiznya (full English version with subtitles). Ukrainian sailors Kremlin can let go to Christmas. This was said by Kurt Volker, who is responsible for the Ukrainian question in Washington. He, like no one in the White House, understands the Ukrainian issue, because in fact it is he who is the key figure in the negotiation process with the Kremlin, which is represented by gray cardinal Vladislav Surkov. Release of TSN.Tizhden for December 23, 2018

UAWire – Volker: Russia needs a pretext for aggression in Ukraine 

Russia needs a pretext for aggression in Ukraine, US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker told TSN.Tyzhden in an interview. According to Volker, the US used to think it was unlikely that Russia was set on aggression in Ukraine, but in the wake of the Kerch Strait incident, it will be necessary to reconsider the realistic probability that there may be new aggression from Russia. “We must do everything we can to stop it from coming to this. We must do everything to prevent this aggression and hold it back,” the special representative said. In addition, Volker expressed concern regarding Russia’s claims about Ukraine’s supposed provocation and use of chemical weapons. “Such misinformation is concerning, because Russia needs a pretext for aggression. It would be nice to think that this is being done to divert attention away from the aggression against the Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea. But we must be extremely vigilant, we must monitor the situation, and, ideally, avoid further escalation and aggression,” Volker added. As reported earlier, Trump canceled his meeting with Putin at the G20 summit due to Russia’s aggression towards the Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait. However, the two leaders did speak briefly at lunch. Later, US Security Advisor John Bolton said that no meeting between Putin and Trump can take place until Russia releases the Ukrainian sailors it captured in the Kerch Strait.

U.S. special envoy Volker: We have long-term strategy for Ukraine (Video) | UNIAN

U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Ambassador Kurt Volker says the United States has a long-term strategy for Ukraine to strengthen its resilience. The United States and the European Union should have a unified transatlantic response to a recent act of Russian aggression. U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Ambassador Kurt Volker says the United States has a long-term strategy for Ukraine to strengthen its resilience. “We have a long-term strategy of trying to help strengthen Ukraine’s resilience and its society – whether that’s support for economic reforms, assistance, information space and cyber security, defense support or foreign military financing, foreign military sales. These are all things that will continue to go on in order to help strengthen Ukraine over time,” he told the TSN television news service in an exclusive interview. Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/politics/10388295-u-s-special-envoy-volker-we-have-long-term-strategy-for-ukraine-video.htmlU.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Ambassador Kurt Volker says the United States has a long-term strategy for Ukraine to strengthen its resilience. “We have a long-term strategy of trying to help strengthen Ukraine’s resilience and its society – whether that’s support for economic reforms, assistance, information space and cyber security, defense support or foreign military financing, foreign military sales. These are all things that will continue to go on in order to help strengthen Ukraine over time,” he told the TSN television news service in an exclusive interview.

Volker: We hope Russia will release Ukrainian sailors as expeditiously as possible | UNIAN

U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Ambassador Kurt Volker says that the United States hopes that Russia will release captive Ukrainian sailors “as expeditiously as possible, ideally before Christmas.” Putin says the release of the sailors could be discussed after their trial in Russia is over.

ISW Blog: Warning Update: Russian Preparations for Military Operations in Ukraine Continue

By Catherine Harris, Frederick W. Kagan, Kimberly Kagan, and the ISW Russia Team Russia continues to build up and prepare its military forces for possible offensive operations against Ukraine from the Crimean Peninsula and the east. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has been warning that Russia could conduct such operations at short notice since December 11, 2018. It remains impossible to assess whether Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to launch an offensive or will do so, or whether the visible military preparations are intended to pressure Ukraine and its partners without escalating to additional open conflict. The data suggests that Putin is preparing to attack, although alternative interpretations are possible. One can make reasoned arguments about why it would be unwise for him to attack now (or, indeed, at all). The West should nevertheless focus first on the data itself and the risks that flow from it, rather than on reasoning about Putin’s intentions. Since ISW’s last warning on December 17, 2018, ISW has observed the following additional data points: 19 DEC: Russia is moving military convoys north on the Simferopol-Armyansk highway toward the border between Kherson Oblast’ in Ukraine and Crimea. These convoys include artillery, armored personnel carriers, trucks and a field kitchen. The correspondent of RFE/RL in Crimea observed these convoys moving on December 19 in the village of Pervomayskoye roughly 30 miles from the border with the Ukrainian mainland. ISW cannot assess the sizes of these movements at this time. 20 DEC: Russia is increasing its information campaign to frame Ukraine as the military aggressor should Putin decide to invade. Russian officials, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the Foreign Ministry spokesperson, and the head of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, are continuing to warn about an imminent Ukrainian attack on Russia-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine and on the Kherson-Crimea Oblast border at the end of December 2018.[1] This propaganda effort could serve multiple purposes. The Russians may be intending fabricate a threat to rally separatist forces to escalate in eastern Ukraine in order to distract from Russia’s main effort north of Crimea. The Kremlin may also be attempting to frame Ukraine as the main aggressor ahead of a Russia-backed provocation in order to obfuscate blame. 21 DEC: Unidentified Russian submarines of the Black Sea Fleet conducted planned drills in the Black Sea to practice covert movements while submerged.[2] The crew of one submarine carried out separation from surveillance while the crew of another one maintained surveillance as long as possible. The crews attempted to maneuver as covertly as possible during the submerged position. 21 DEC: A Reuters witness spotted a Russian missile frigate 1.5 km off the coast moving from Feodosia towards the Sea of Azov. A helicopter was visible on-board. 22 DEC: Russia shifted ‘more than a dozen Su-27 and Su-30 fighter jets’ to Belbek Airbase near Sevastopol, Crimea according to an unidentified ‘Reuters witness.’ The Russian Ministry of Defense had announced on 17 DEC that it would relocate ten Su-27SM and Su-30M2 fighter jets from Krymsk airfield in Krasnodar Territory to the Belbek airfield in Crimea.[3] These data points are consistent with preparations for an attack from the northern Crimean Peninsula toward the Dnepr River near the city of Kherson. Such an attack could be intended to seize the canal supplying fresh water to Crimea, which Ukraine has blocked since the 2014 Russian invasion. Putin would likely unjustifiably claim the right to invade to stop a humanitarian crisis resulting from the blockage of the canal. Such a claim has no legal validity since Crimea remains legally part of Ukraine over which Russia has no rights, and thus the status of the canal is, in law, an entirely internal Ukrainian matter. Accepting Putin’s justification would ipso facto accept the legality of the Russian annexation of Crimea. A Russian occupation of Kherson would allow Russian forces to interfere with—and possibly cut off—ship movement into and out of Mykolaiv, one of Ukraine’s most important ports and shipbuilding centers. Such a development, together with the illegal seizure of Sevastopol and aggression around the Kerch Strait, would leave Ukraine only a single major port (Odesa) outside the Russian area of military influence.

Euromaidan PR on Twitter: “#Russia continues building up its military forces against #Ukraine & has the capability to go on the offensive imminently. Read @TheStudyofWar new Warning Update: w/ preparations for attack from Crimean Peninsula toward Dnieper River. #NovaKakhovka https://t.co/0I5DPOzbVh |EMPR… https://t.co/GeJHMZNDYt”

Poroshenko: Ukraine will never stop using ports in Sea of Azov

Ukraine will never stop using its ports in the Sea of Azov, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said. “Ukraine will never halt the use of its Azov ports, including by military vessels,” Poroshenko said at a session of the National Security and Defense Council in Kyiv. International law and the support of the civilized world are behind Ukraine, he said. “We will take all political and diplomatic measures,” Poroshenko said.

Ukraine’s president announces martial law termination

26.12.18 15:34 – Ukraine’s president announces martial law termination President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has announced the termination of martial law in 10 regions of the country. View news.

Ukraine’s Navy “will be ready” to use weapons if Russia attacks again – media | UNIAN

One month after Russia attacked three Ukrainian navy ships in the Kerch Strait, Ukraine’s Navy chief said his country was prepared to defend its sovereignty from its bigger neighbor and exert its freedom to navigate in the body of water. Russia has been working to make it increasingly difficult for Ukraine to use the ports surrounding the Crimean peninsula, and the recent attack is considered part of that strategy.

Ukrainian navy chief: If Russia attacks again, we are ready | KyivPost

ODESA, Ukraine — Russia’s attack on Ukrainian vessels in the international waters of the Black Sea, near the Kerch Strait, on Nov. 25 seemed to further demonstrate that Moscow wants the Azov Sea as its own, landlocked lake — and the Kremlin is ready to do whatever it takes to strangle Ukraine’s weak hold on the region. But despite losing three vessels and suffering the imprisonment of 24 sailors, still held captive in Moscow, the Ukrainian navy says it’s not backing down. Instead, Ukrainian warships will continue to exercise their legal right to pass the Kerch Strait, and even in the face of overwhelming odds, they’re ready to do battle if Russians attack them once again, according to the chief of naval staff Vice Admiral Andriy Tarasov.

Ukraine intends to discuss OSCE presence in Sea of Azov – 112.international

First Vice-Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament of Ukraine Iryna Gerashchenko claimed that she would bring up in Minsk the question of increasing the presence of the OSCE mission in the waters of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, Krym.Realii reports. ‘We are very concerned about the question of the militarization of the peninsula, which was a tourist place. Crimea has never had as many weapons as today. We require the monitoring of this Ukrainian territory,’ Gerashchenko claimed. According to her, Crimea remains closed for every monitoring mission, whether it is the OSCE SMM or the Red Cross, which have no access to the prisons in the occupied Crimea, as well as the UN mission on torture prevention.

Quiet Sunday in Donbas as Russia proxy forces adhere to ceasefire over past day | UNIAN

Russia-backed militants in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas did not violate ceasefire in the past day, the Joint Forces Operation Staff reported Monday morning. According to intelligence data, a militant died and another two were injured as a result of weapon mishandling during combat training.

“Definitely preparing for something”: OSINT group on Russia’s fake news on “NATO troops” in Donbas | UNIAN

Occupation forces in eastern Ukraine have been spinning another set of fake reports, this time about the alleged deployment of “NATO troops” in Donbas and their participation in hostilities. The experts note that this is yet another psychological operation in the framework of hybrid warfare. Occupation forces in eastern Ukraine have been spinning another set of fake reports, this time about the alleged deployment of “NATO troops” in Donbas and their participation in hostilities. Most recent reports by Russia proxy forces in Donbas claim that nearly 60 troops of the special airborne SAS unit have been deployed in eastern Ukraine while 20 Norwegian spec-ops rangers and operatives of Israel’s Mossad have arrived in Mariupol, the strategic port city on the Azov coast, according to the Ukraine-based Information Resistance OSINT group. The IR notes that this is yet another psychological operation on the part of Russia aimed to cover the operational deployment of their proxy forces. The group explains that the latest cycle of training and combat coordination is being or has been completed for at least five battalion-tactical groups that are not directly involved in hostilities, along with the corresponding command and staff exercises). “The invaders are definitely preparing for something, while covering up their military activity with fake reports about the Ukrainian Armed Forces allegedly plotting some mythical offensive,” the IR wrote.

UAWire – Three sailors from captured Ukrainian tugboat refuse to testify 

Three Ukrainian sailors from the tugboat Yany Kapu who were captured by Russia on November 25 off the Kerch Strait have declared themselves …

Another Unbelievable Russian Propaganda Failure – To Inform is to Influence

Martial law in Ukraine ends on the 26th, therefore Russia is predicting a military action by Ukraine through the Kerch Straits, directed by President Poroshenko, for the purpose of extending martial law in Ukraine. THAT is a fairly shallow reason, so it fits into typical Russian conspiracy theories. I’m not saying it will or won’t, but somehow the Russian Embassy in the UK is stating that it’s going to happen with certainty? Notice how Russia predicts future events and nobody else does? This is Russian propaganda 101. It is incendiary and it also gives Russia plausible deniability after whatever they predict fails to happen. Russia is calling a possible Naval passage into the Sea of Azov a “provocation”, whereas when it is done elsewhere, it demonstrates “freedom of navigation”. The Russian Embassy in London is accusing the UK of inciting “provocations” in the Kerch Straits on 24-25 December – Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the last days before martial law ends in Ukraine. Russia is accusing the UK because a UK warship, the HMS Echo, a hydrographic survey ship, happens to be in the Black Sea. Oleksandr Turchynov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, said the following on 19 December. “It would be very logical for NATO ships, which we invite to the ports of the Sea of Azov, to prove that Russia must comply with international law. Our initiative has not received a response yet. However, I hope they will at least send their observers during the next passage of Ukrainian warships through the Kerch Strait.” “Yuri Hrymchak, a deputy minister in the country’s Government, suggested the British should send the vessel to test the Russian response.” Yuri Hrymchak was the Russian Deputy Minister for Temporary Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons – meaning Ukraine’s Russian occupied territories. If the UK decides to do so, it is perfectly legal by international law, but Russia wants to create a legal argument negating international law. Once again, Russia is waging Lawfare against established law. Making this article even a wee bit more unbelievable, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson supposedly somehow connects recent drones at Gatwick airport to a Ukrainian incursion through the Kerch Straits. Apologies to you, my intelligent readers, he made no such connection. All in all, a complete reading of this article, with actual knowledge of who said what, makes this TASS article chuckleworthy. Thank to Dr. Igor Panarin for posting this as the Chief of Russian Information Spetsnaz. </end editorial>

We need peace on the conditions of national interests of Ukraine, not on the conditions of capitulation – President in Donbas — Official website of the President of Ukraine

During a meeting with the troops of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade carrying out combat tasks in the framework of the Joint Forces Operation in Donbas, President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko stressed that Ukraine needed peace on the conditions of national interests of the state. “I wish, first of all, peace for all of us, but peace on the conditions of national interests of Ukraine, not on the conditions of capitulation offered by some politicians. For this purpose, we built an army, restructured the state, this was entrusted to us by the Ukrainian people,” Petro Poroshenko said. The Head of State stresses that our line of defense is strengthened to the maximum, and Ukrainian soldiers at any moment are ready to give an adequate response to the provocative actions of the aggressor. “It is a great honor for me to express sincere gratitude to the soldiers of the 72nd separate mechanized brigade, which demonstrates courage and valor. You reliably hold your positions, protecting the Ukrainian land from the Russian invaders,” Petro Poroshenko noted. “Already in 2014, the enemy called your brigade the “Black Brigade”, while the presidential decree assigned you the honorary title of “Black Cossacks”, he added. The Head of State thanked all the personnel of the brigade, the commander of the brigade for being able to take the hits and reliably protect the Ukrainian land. The Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine appealed to the crew with a requirement not to lose the obtained potential and skills, constantly improve knowledge, combat skills and training, increase vigilance and perform certain combat tasks without hesitation in case of aggravation of the situation. “I would like to congratulate you on the New Year holidays. Today, Ukraine is proud of you and prays for you. By the way, it prays in the newly created Autocephalous Orthodox Church,” Petro Poroshenko said. He added: “What is the difference of this church? It is finally completely independent of Moscow. And it is not the fifth column of the country-aggressor”. “To date, it’s not about whether you are for Ukraine or Russia. It’s very easy for everyone to give this answer. We have completely changed over these 4.5 years. I believe that we will return peace and calm to the entire territory of the Ukrainian state, deoccupy Donbas and Crimea. And our children will live in an independent, happy, prosperous, European country,” the Head of State concluded.

President: The Ukrainian Army is the leader of the people’s trust — Official website of the President of Ukraine

Speaking to the military in Zhytomyr region, President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko noted that the Ukrainian army is the leader of the Ukrainian people’s trust among all state institutions. Speaking to the military in Zhytomyr region, President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko noted that the Ukrainian army is the leader of the Ukrainian people’s trust among all state institutions. “The people trust the Ukrainian army. I am proud and congratulate the Ukrainian Armed Forces. They have outstripped the second one by the level of trust – the Ukrainian diplomat,” the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces noted. He added that the National Guard was the next one by the level of Ukrainians’ trust. The Head of State stressed that the Ukrainian Army “has increased its potential today and is the guarantor of Ukrainian independence”. The President congratulated all Ukrainian soldiers on a remarkable historical event – the creation of a single Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine, the Unity Council of which took place on December 15 and elected its Primate. “We can defend ourselves and have everything we need for this. We have sharply reduced the influence of the Russian Federation within the country,” the President of Ukraine summed up. The Head of State congratulated the military and their families on forthcoming Christmas and New Year holidays. “I want to wish peace to the whole country, because nobody wants peace more than Ukrainians. But I will emphasize once more – peace on the conditions of national security of our state, not peace on the conditions of capitulation offered by some politicians. I believe that the Lord will bring us this long-awaited peace. Glory to the Armed Forces and Glory to Ukraine,” the President emphasized.

Russia Expands Targeted Sanctions Against Ukraine

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has expanded Russia’s targeted sanctions against Ukrainian individuals and legal entities.

Ukrainian army gets over 2,500 units of high-precision weapons [PGMs] in 2018

The Ukroboronprom State Concern transferred over 2,500 units of high-precision weapons to the Ukrainian army in 2018, the concern’s press service has reported. — Ukrinform

Kolibri: tests of domestic MANPADS will begin in 2019

During a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine said that in 2019, the development and testing of the Kolibri domestic portable air defense missile system (MANPADS) will be completed and launched. This is reported by the Ukrainian Military Portal So far, other details about this development are not reported. For the first time about the Ukrainian MANPADS “Kolibri” became known in 2011 , when this development was considered as a promising weapon of the Air Defense of the Land Forces of the Armed Forces, which should be put into service by 2025. Later, in Ukraine, projects were drafted to upgrade the existing Strela-2M and Igl-1 MANPADS, which were named “Strela-2MM” and “Igl-1M”, respectively. The qualitative characteristics of the modernized MANPADS are provided due to new modifications of the heads of the self-guards (GSN) for the development of the State Enterprise Central Design Bureau (CCB) Arsenal – the CSO 36-45 for MANPADS “Strela-2MM” and the CSO UA-424 for the IGLA-1M MANPADS. . The indicated GSN mainly and provide the characteristics of modernized complexes. So, “Strela-2MM” is capable of efficiently firing aircraft and helicopters on a counter course, optical GOS provides comprehensive protection against false infrared (IR) targets and natural obstacles, increased combat capability in conditions of organized interference. The UA-424 CSO provides Igla-1M MANPADS with effective protection against interference caused by infrared devices, increased probability of damage to the target, and most importantly, a significant increase in the range of target shooting at the counter-course.

President: The task of the French-German Airbus H-225 helicopters is to defend the border and rescue people — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko took part in the ceremony of transferring modern Airbus H-225 helicopters to the National Guard of Ukraine and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. The ceremony took place at the Boryspil international airport. President, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko took part in the ceremony of transferring modern Airbus H-225 helicopters to the National Guard of Ukraine and the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. The ceremony took place at the Boryspil international airport. The President stressed that “this is an extraordinary event, a vivid evidence of reinforcement of the material base for our border guards, rescuers, units of the National Guard”. “A symbol of our effective cooperation between Ukraine and the European Union in general and between Ukraine, France and Germany, which yields concrete fruits,” the President said. He noted that Germany was taking part in the production of these helicopters together with France. The President noted the technical characteristics and capabilities of these helicopters, namely their take-off weight of 11 tons, capacity of up to 24 rescuers or passengers. According to him, great reliability and a radius of more than 1,000 km provide an opportunity to carry out rescue work in the mountainous area and patrol the Azov-Black Sea basin. “Where we have to be prepared for any incidents, for aviation intelligence. But the main task is to defend the border, to rescue people. I am sure that our Ukrainian pilots will handle this mission,” the President said. The Head of State noted that this project was implemented in a very short time. “Literally less than a year ago, we discussed this project with President of France Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” the President said and noted the role of Minister of the Interior Arsen Avakov and the entire negotiating team in its practical implementation. The President also emphasized that he had set a task of involving the Armed Forces of Ukraine in those processes. “We must have Airbus combat helicopters as well. They will increase the combat power of the Armed Forces of Ukraine for the protection of sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine,” the Head of State emphasized. He added that the second stage of cooperation with Airbus will be the use of combat helicopters for the needs of the Armed Forces. In addition, the President said that the use of French-German helicopters will increase competition and the speed of modernization of aircraft machines among Ukrainian producers. ph President takes part in transferring Airbus H-225 helicopters to the National Guard of Ukraine and the State Emergency Service 21 December 2018 – 12:33

UAWire – President Poroshenko signs bill giving OUN and UPA fighters status of combatants for independence of Ukraine

On Saturday, December 22, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed Bill 8519 “On the status of war veterans and guarantees of their social protection” which aims at strengthening the social status of participants in the war for the independence of Ukraine, as reported on the Verkhovna Rada’s website. The bill would provide the status of combatant to persons who took part in all forms of armed military activities for the independence of Ukraine in the 20th century, including the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the Ukrainian People’s Revolutionary Army, Polissian Sich, the Ukrainian People’s Army (UNA) and the Armed Units of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). “According to General-Cornet Roman Shukhevych of the Ukrainian brotherhood of OUN-UPA, as of May 23, 2018, 1201 soldiers of the OUN and the UPA participated in the fight for Ukrainian independence in the twentieth century,” stated the explanatory note of the bill. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine established the procedure for granting the combatant status of the OUN and the UPA. The bill was approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on December 6. 236 deputies supported it. In August, President Poroshenko signed the bill enhancing the social protection of Ukrainian Armed Forces members, including those who take and will take part in the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) in the Donbas.

How Viktor Orban’s citizenship offer in western Ukraine is threatening to unravel European unity over Russia

Timea Enyedi took her place by the blackboard in her second floor class room and asked her 14 year old pupils to open their textbooks.

Moody’s upgrades Ukraine’s bond rating with positive outlook – LB.ua news portal

Moody’s upgrades Ukraine’s bond rating with positive outlook. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Poland concerned about possible drain of Ukrainian migrant workers to Germany – 112.international

A possible drain of the Ukrainian workers from Poland to Germany might negatively affect the Polish economy, as the Union of Entrepreneurs and Employers of the Republic informed, Die Welt reported. The Polish businessmen are concerned about the fact that on December 19, the Government of Germany approved the draft bill on immigration which provides cancellation of priority for the Germans and citizens of other states of the EU in hiring since 2020. If Bundestag approves it, professionals from Ukraine will have an opportunity to get employed in Germany legally.

UAWire – Kyiv: about nine million Ukrainians work abroad 

3 million 200 thousand Ukrainian citizens work abroad on a permanent basis, while the number of Ukrainians who work abroad temporarily is between 7 and 9 million, stated Ukrainian Social Policy Minister Andriy Reva on Saturday at a press conference, Interfax Ukraine reported. “According to the official data of the State Migration Service of Ukraine and the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, 3 million 200 thousand Ukrainian citizens work abroad on a permanent basis, while between 7 and 9 million our compatriots work abroad temporarily,” Reva said. The minister said that most Ukrainians, about 2 million people, work in Poland. 1 million of them work legally and only 400 thousand pay contributions to the Polish pension system. Ukrainians working abroad annually transfer about $6.5 billion to Ukraine. Reva said that these funds must be declared. It was reported earlier that 43% of Ukrainians who return to Ukraine from abroad do not plan to go abroad again, which is explained by the difficulty in finding employment there.

Over 1,500 Russian citizens refused entry to Ukraine after introduction of martial law | UNIAN

Over 1,500 Russian citizens have been refused entry to Ukraine after the introduction of martial law in the country on November 26. Russian border guards did not let 350 Ukrainian citizens enter Russia without explaining reasons.

The choir of the St. George’s Chapel performed Shchedryk carol at Windsor Castle in England – 112.international

The choir of the St. George’s Chapel performed Shchedryk, otherwise known as Carol of the Bells, the beloved classic Christmas mastepiece. The performance took place at Windsor Castle in England, the press office of the British royal family reported. Earlier this year, the choir reeatedly performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family – for one, during the wedding ceremony of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in May. The choir members are the boys aged from 8 to 13. All of them are the students of St. George’s school.

 

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