Information operations

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (67)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Russia touts successful hypersonic missile test with speeds cited up to 15,000 mph (Mach 19.5). The speed of sound is 767.269 mph. No confirmation by Western sources but I’ve been assured the technology was actually developed in the 1960s.

CRS Report on US, Chinese, and Russian Hypersonic weapons programs. 

Must read: Putin Regime West’s ‘Existential’ Enemy, by Aleksandr Skobov, courtesy Paul Goble reporting. The original report in Russian here, at Fifth Column, 18 theses 18 years (kasparov.ru).

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Avangard hypersonic MaRV tested, followed by a barrage of nuclear saber-rattling propaganda. Worth noting the first vehicle in this class was the manned Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar sixty (60) years ago. But in a world where media are too lazy to read Wikipedia, it makes for good Wunderwaffe propaganda.

Russia threatens NATO and Ukraine over Azov Sea entry. More bizarre statements on Ukraine, the most bizarre being Patrushev’s claim that the US alt-right, very frequently staunchly pro-Russian, are actually pro-Ukrainian. While Russia promises Germany it not use Nordstream against Ukraine, it gloats to the Ukrainians that it will. Superb analysis by Aleksandr Skobov on why “… the regime Vladimir Putin has created in Russia is an “existential” enemy of the West” – pity Western media and politicians will not bother to read it.  More USSR nostalgia in Russia. Golts on how the Russian military is returning to Soviet-era practices.

In Ukraine, martial law ends and recommendations will be made on changes resulting from experience – this was a dress rehearsal for a full-scale mobilization to defeat a Russian invasion force. LtGen Naev briefs on body count – since the launch of the JFO earlier this year, 450 Russian proxy force troops KIA and 850 WIA, consistent with previous KIA/WIA ratios, and kill ratios. Put differently, the Russian troops are not learning. Proxy force is now 32,000, of which 11,000 are Russian citizens. Russian troops now largely cleared from the Ukrainian portion of the no-man’s-land “grey zone”, reversing the creeping offensive under way since 2014. Sir Michael Fallon MP interviewed by KP and 112.ua.

Crimea update: reports around 1 million Russian nationals to be settled in occupied Crimea to displace Ukrainians and Tartars. Russia announces the completion of a border fence between Ukraine and Crimea.

Ukraine’s SBU rolls up a Russian espionage network in Mikolaiv Oblast, making multiple arrests. Russians refuse to negotiate on the release of Ukrainian POWs captured in Donbas and the Kerch attack. Updates on politics, economy, and cultural matters.


UAWire – Putin: new hypersonic nuclear missile makes an excellent New Year’s gift for Russia

The Russian Defense Ministry conducted test launches of an Avangard hypersonic glider missile. The missile, the fruit of a 20 trillion ruble ($290 billion) state arms program, passed the testing “completely successfully”, Putin said after the Strategic Missile Troops drill at the Kura Test Range. “All the tactical and technical data has been confirmed,” Interfax cites the Russian president as saying. “The Avangard system is invulnerable to the current and future anti-air and anti-missile defense systems of a potential enemy.” The intercontinental missile, which can carry a nuclear or a regular payload, was unveiled in March 2018, during Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly. It is scheduled to become part of Russia’s armament as early as 2019. “This is a great success and a great victory. It is a wonderful, excellent gift for the country for New Year,” Putin remarked. The production of the latest weapons systems will continue next year, he promised. “Then we will talk again to the general engineer and we will talk to other colleagues: we will take additional measures to guarantee results with certainty on all parallel topics that the General Staff and Defense Ministry consider promising for equipping the army and the fleet with the latest weapons systems, including hypersonic weapons,” Putin said.

Putin Lauds Successful Test Of Hypersonic Missile System

Russia has successfully tested its new Avangard hypersonic missile, the Kremlin said on December 26.

Putin Says ‘Invulnerable’ New Hypersonic Nuclear Missile Is Ready For Deployment | HuffPost

The weapon is impossible to intercept, the Russian leader boasted Wednesday.

Official: Russian weapon 27 times faster than speed of sound – ABC News

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

Russia successfully tests new hypersonic missile system – Defence Blog

Russia has successfully test-fired its locally designed hypersonic missile system, called Avangard. The Russian Defense Ministry has carried out tests of the hypersonic system Avangard to successfully verify all of its technical parameters, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with government members on Wednesday. “On my instructions the industrial enterprises and the Defense Ministry have prepared for and carried out the final test of this system,” Putin said. “The test was completely successful: all technical parameters were verified.” Russia’s hypersonic missile system will enter service in the Armed Forces next year, Vladimir Putin told the government on Wednesday, stressing that this is a new type of strategic weapons. “Starting from next year, in 2019, a new intercontinental strategic system Avangard will enter service in the Russian army and the first regiment in the Strategic Missile Troops will be deployed,” Putin said. The Avangard is a strategic intercontinental ballistic missile system equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle. According to open sources, the ‘breakthrough’ weapon was developed by the Research and Production Association of Machine-Building (the town of Reutov, the Moscow Region) and was tested from 2004. The glide vehicle is capable of flying at hypersonic speed in the dense layers of the atmosphere, maneuvering by its flight path and its altitude and breaching any anti-missile defense. Putin announced an array of new weapons in March, including the Avangard, in one of his most bellicose speeches in years, saying they could hit almost any point in the world and evade a U.S.-built missile shield.

Russia Will Deploy New Hypersonic Missile Systems In 2019, Putin Says : NPR

The Avangard weapon system is built around a hypersonic glide vehicle that takes an elusive path toward its target — even as it reportedly travels at more than 20 times the speed of sound.

‘Avangard,’ Russia’s hypersonic nuclear-capable missile system, to evade U.S. defenses, Putin boasts – Washington Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the impending deployment Wednesday of a new hypersonic nuclear-capable missile system that he claims will evade American defenses worldwide, dramatically upping the ante of a growing high-tech arms race with Washington.

Putin: Russian army to deploy new hypersonic missile system – Washington Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday his army would deploy a new hypersonic nuclear-capable missile system next year, upping the ante in a high-tech arms race with the U.S.

Putin hails successful test of Russia’s new hypersonic missile | News | Al Jazeera

Putin says missile system, which will enter service next year, will ensure Russia’s security for decades to come.

Putin crows as he oversees Russian hypersonic weapons test – ABC News

The Kremlin said the weapon hit a practice target some 3,700 miles away.

The Kremlin says it conducted another successful test of a hypersonic weapon

The hypersonic glide vehicle, dubbed Avangard, is expected to enter Russia’s arsenal by 2020, according to sources with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence assessment.

What Putin’s new hypersonic weapon means for America

Russia retains growing capability in boutique war-fighting areas. That said, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s newest missile system is designed to grab American attention far more than it is to advance Russia’s nuclear destructive capability.

Russia is poised to add a new hypersonic nuclear warhead to its arsenal – The Washington Post

Putin said a final test was successful and that the weapon will enter service next year.

Boeing X-20 Dyna-Soar – Wikipedia

BOR-5 – Wikipedia

UAWire – Russia warns Ukraine and NATO against sending ships through the Kerch Strait

Moscow called on Ukraine and its Western partners to abandon the new attempt to send naval ships through the Kerch Strait. At a press briefing, the spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, called the possible passage of Ukrainian ships through the Kerch Strait “a reckless initiative”, RIA Novosti reports. Zakharova also noted that the “Western supervisors” of Kyiv should come up with a way of “reasoning with the ruling regime” in Ukraine in order to make them abandon the steps that could lead to escalation in the region. According to Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry believes that Ukraine’s plans to make a new attempt to send warships through the Kerch Strait are nothing more than a “provocation” in which Kyiv plans to involve NATO and the OSCE. “Apparently, the recent incident with Ukrainian sailors, who became hostages of the aggressive policy of Kyiv authorities, did not teach anyone anything,” Zakharova added. As previously reported, the Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, Oleksandr Turchynov announced that the Ukrainian warships would make another attempt to pass through the Kerch Strait which would the involve Ukraine’s international partners. On the morning of November 25, Ukraine informed the Russian port of its intention to transfer three ships through the Kerch Strait, as required by the Agreement on the joint use of the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. However, at around 8:00 a.m., Russian ships carried out acts of provocation against the Ukrainian vessels, even ramming into the Yany Kapu tugboat. Russia later accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its territorial waters, claiming that they were “maneuvering dangerously” and “not complying with the legitimate demands of the Russian authorities”. Russia also physically blocked the Kerch Strait with a transport ship. The Ukrainian ships decided to return to Odessa, but they were chased and subsequently attacked by the Russian military. The Berdiansk and Nikopol boats were hit, and two crew members were wounded. All three of the ships were seized by Russia. On November 28, the Kremlin-controlled court of Simferopol placed the Ukrainian sailors under 2 months of arrest – until January 25, 2019.

Russian MFA speaker Zakharova: Russia’s “friendly attitude” to Ukraine “not unlimited” | UNIAN

Spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Maria Zakharova says that Russia’s “friendly attitude” to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people “is not unlimited.” Lavrov and Zakharova have recently claimed that Ukraine has been planning armed provocations on the border with Russia by the end of the year. Spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Maria Zakharova says that Russia’s “friendly attitude” to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people “is not unlimited.” “You need to understand why such statements are made [by Russia’s Foreign Ministry]. They are made to do everything necessary and possible to prevent acts of provocation,” Zakharova said in Moscow on December 26, explaining why the Russian MFA constantly “warns” about alleged preparations by Ukraine for the extension of martial law, but such statements have never become reality, according to an UNIAN correspondent in Russia. “When information about plans that are in the pipeline is made public and we call a spade a spade, this draws the attention of the sponsors of the regime, who have in one way or another been very concerned about the situation in the region. All of this is aimed at prevention of such provocation in practice rather than at aggressive rhetoric. More specifically, it was aimed at disrupting that provocation,” she added. “In response to your question about when to expect the provocation: I’d like to hope that we won’t have to worry about it again. The unprecedented patience and truly friendly attitude of Russia demonstrated in relation to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people is also not unlimited,” the official said. According to Zakharova, “not a single hour” was spent on minimizing that hypothetical provocation and “a very large number of people were involved” in this to prevent “catastrophic consequences.” As UNIAN reported earlier, on December 13, Zakharova claimed, echoing allegations by Russian-controlled illegal armed formations in Donbas, that the Ukrainian Army had been planning to advance in order to cancel presidential and parliamentary elections, scheduled in Ukraine in 2019. On December 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Ukraine had been masterminding an act of “provocation” on the Russian-Ukrainian border, which might happen late in December, therefore he had promised “retaliation.” “Additional information that we have got and which we tend to trust is that [Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko is planning an armed provocation on the border with the Russian Federation, on the border with Crimea in the course of last ten days in December,” Lavrov said. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine called such allegations by the Russian side another influence operation.

UAWire – Kremlin claims NATO increased the number of high-precision strategic weapons near Russian borders

NATO countries, especially the USA are building up their military activities near Russian borders and deploying high-precision, strategic weapons systems, said Admiral Vladimir Korolyov, Commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, reported the RBC. Korolyov said the Russian Fleet’s development plans will be implemented next year, considering “the deployment of missile defense systems, strategic non-nuclear systems of high-precisions weapons, and military infrastructure facilities in the adjacent waters of Russia.” “In this regard, in 2019, the Navy General Command’s efforts will be focused on further creating and developing new combat capabilities that are balanced in their composition and capable of integrating with other armed forces to ensure strategic nuclear and non-nuclear deterrence and protection of the national interests of Russia,” the Admiral said. Korolyov claims that Russia now positions its fleet in the most important areas of the world “to prevent any threats from oceans and seas.”

U.S. ‘ultra-rightist groups’ supporting Ukrainian government, Russian official claims without evidence – media | UNIAN

The head of Russia’s Security Council and former head of the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, said, “Leaders of ultra-rightist groups from the U.S. have been training for months together with radical organizations in Ukraine.” As Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ended martial law in the country on Wednesday, Russian officials lashed out at the Ukrainian leader, claiming that he supports far-right groups and that Washington is turning a blind eye. Analysts, however, note that the comments are misleading and in line with the Kremlin’s efforts to spread misinformation. In an interview with the Russian outlet Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Wednesday, the head of Russia’s Security Council and former head of the FSB, Nikolai Patrushev, said, “Leaders of ultra-rightist groups from the U.S. have been training for months together with radical organizations in Ukraine,” Newsweek wrote. “Feeling such support, Poroshenko confidently resorts to provocative steps, including on the Ukrainian-Russian border…In the light of upcoming [Ukrainian presidential] elections, it can be predicted that new such actions with U.S. support could be expected in the near future,” Patrushev said, echoing the accusations that other Russian officials have been making for days that claim that Ukraine is preparing to attack Russian troops. “Nazi symbols, the rhetoric of ethnic superiority, Russophobe ideas, all of this has become an integral part of Kyiv’s state policy,” Patrushev continued, accusing Washington of “closing its eyes” to the links between Poroshenko and the Ukrainian far-right. But many experts say that it is Russia, not Ukraine, that is planning an attack, and they argue that Russia’s accusations aim to provide justification for whatever military action Moscow has planned. The U.S. and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries have offered some limited support to Ukraine as tensions rise with its neighbor, which has been supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine for five years. In May, Congress approved $250 million in military assistance to Ukraine for 2019, including the sale of lethal weapons. Meanwhile, reports have revealed that ties exist between far-right, white supremacist groups in the U.S. and right-wing nationalist groups in Ukraine. But Patrushev’s comments appear to connect these two disparate issues and conflate Washington’s official support for Kyiv with transnational links between far-right groups. “Poroshenko gets no benefit from far-right activities in Ukraine, which are minimal. Far-right parties are not represented in the Rada [Ukrainian parliament]. Kremlin disinformation plays up the notion of Ukrainian ‘fascism,’ but compared to most countries in Europe, right-wing extremism is quite weak in Ukraine,” ambassador John Herbst, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006, told Newsweek.

Russia repeats threat of bypassing Ukraine in gas shipments to Europe | KyivPost

Alexander Novak, Russian minister of energy, said in a Dec. 25 interview with the Russian media outlet Kommersant that Russia is capable of “fulfilling its long-term (gas) contracts, even if the gas transit contract won’t be signed (between Ukraine and Russia).” The comment by Novak contradicts a statement given by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, on Nov. 29, in which she suggested that even after Russia commissions a new pipeline, Ukraine must remain a gas transit country. The current contract between Russia and Ukraine, concerning the use of Ukraine’s gas transmission system, by which Russian gas is transmitted through Ukraine to Europe, is set to expire in December 2019.

UAWire – Nord Stream 2 construction begins in Sweden’s exclusive economic zone 

The Solitaire, a ship working on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, has begun laying pipes in Sweden’s exclusive economic zone, Aftonbladet reports. …

Economists: Russia Faces Economic Downturn, Higher Inflation In 2019

Russia faces an economic slowdown and higher inflation in 2019 due to the risk of new Western sanctions, a weaker currency, and a planned tax increase, a poll of economists and financial analysts c…

UAWire – China rejects transition to settlements in national currency with Russia

The redirection of Russia’s economic policy to the East, announced after the annexation of Crimea and the sharp deterioration of relations with the West, has ended up as a wake-up call. The attempt to get China involved in de-dollarization and to formalize the transition to reciprocal trade in national currencies has not been successful. China refused to sign the intergovernmental agreement to settle in national currencies that was drafted in 2014 and already considered a “done deal” by Russian officials. “We have moved away from this format at China’s suggestion,” Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Tuesday. According to him, options such as an agreement or even a memorandum of understanding have been discussed. However, the only agreement reached has been “to negotiate along the lines of national banks, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce and the Russian Finance Ministry”. Nevertheless, settlements with China in national currencies have been growing even without an agreement, Siluanov emphasized. According to the Bank of Russia, dollars are used for only 73.6% of import deals from China, as opposed to 85% three years ago. In Russia’s export contracts to China, the share of dollar settlements is higher and virtually unchanged at 88%. This creates serious problems for Russia: due to the threat of sanctions, roughly 30% of all dollar payments by Russian companies are delayed or suspended, and the rest are through counterparts in Asia, Siluanov noted. Sometimes payments take up to three months. “It is easier to get settlements with American companies than with Asian ones, because there is a procedure there for agreeing on the possibilities of such settlements,” the minister explained. Officially, China has not yet imposed any formal sanctions on Russia, but its banks have de facto joined the financial restrictions imposed by the US and EU: they refuse to carry out foreign currency operations with Russian banks, and have significantly reduced their involvement in foreign trade deals, especially in trade financing, deputy chair of VTB Bank Yuri Soloviev complained as early as 2015. For three years, Russia has been unable to break the impasse. Chinese banks delay transfers to the accounts of Russian banks, or even outright refuse to make payments, complained Vladimir Danilov, chief representative of the Bank of Russia to China, in September 2018. “The problems are related to the expanded interpretation by a number of Chinese banks of third countries’ restrictive measures,” he explained: even transactions by companies that are not under sanctions are blocked. Russia’s hopes for Chinese investors have also come to nothing. According to central bank data, the amount of direct foreign investments from China has declined for four consecutive quarters, and plummeted by 24% between January and June 2018. By the end of the first semester of 2018, Chinese investors had withdrawn $1 billion from the real sector of the Russian economy, and their total investment in the country dropped to $3.18 billion, nearly one third less than before the annexation of Crimea ($4.54 billion).

Russia Considers Constitution Changes as Putin Faces Term Limits – Bloomberg

The speaker of Russia’s parliament raised the possibility of changing the constitution as speculation grows that the Kremlin is considering ways to allow President Vladimir Putin to remain in power beyond the end of his current term, when current law requires him to step down.

Paul Goble | Putin regime – West’s ‘existential’ enemy and West must stop his aggression in Ukraine by force, Skobov says | Euromaidan Press |

The regime Vladimir Putin has created in Russia is an “existential” enemy of the West and an international system intended to limit the use of violence by one state against others, Aleksandr Skobov says. His aggression against Ukraine is thus far more than an attack on that country: it is an attack on the West as such. Many Western leaders do not want to acknowledge this, the Russian commentator says, because it would require them to act; but their failure to understand what Putin is about and why will not solve the problem but only guarantee that it will fester and become an ever greater threat to Western civilization. According to Skobov, “the most important aspect of humanity’s progress is the constant reduction in the level of force and cruelty in social relations,” progress that Western civilization has played the key role in promoting. But “despite the progress that has been achieved, today, the world is confronted by a most serious crisis.” There are “objective reasons” for this crisis, Skobov says. The world is changing as a result of globalization and the shift to post-industrial societies, changes that have caused real problems for many countries. The leaders of the West bear some responsibility for this crisis, he continues. But the largest responsibility lies elsewhere. It lies with “reactionary forces who consider limitations achieved by Western civilization on the right to use force excessive” and who seek to throw off any restrictions on their own actions. They back the idea of “everyone for himself,” and they oppose this to the principle of “’human rights for all’” both within their own countries and internationally. “The Putin regime in Russia has become the shock detachment of the forces of worldwide reaction,” Skobov argues. It has transformed into the reason for its existence the struggle with the leadership of the West in the world and with the spread of Western principles and values.” And this, Skobov insists, “is hardly an accident or a historical misunderstanding.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Regime West’s ‘Existential’ Enemy and West must Stop His Aggression in Ukraine by Force, Skobov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 26 – The regime Vladimir Putin has created in Russia is an “existential” enemy of the West and an international system intended to limit the use of violence by one state against others, Aleksandr Skobov says. His aggression against Ukraine is thus far more than an attack on that country: it is an attack on the West as such. Many Western leaders do not want to acknowledge this, the Russian commentator says, because it would require them to act; but their failure to understand what Putin is about and why will not solve the problem but only guarantee that it will fester and become an ever greater threat to Western civilization (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5C22704D734B3). According to Skobov, “the most important aspect of humanity’s progress is the constant reduction in the level of force and cruelty in social relations,” progress that Western civilization has played the key role in promoting. But “despite the progress that has been achieved, today, the world is confronted by a most serious crisis.” There are “objective reasons” for this crisis, Skobov says. The world is changing as a result of globalization and the shift to post-industrial societies, changes that have caused real problems for many countries. The leaders of the West bear some responsibility for this crisis, he continues. But the largest responsibility lies elsewhere. It lies with “reactionary forces who consider limitations achieved by Western civilization on the right to use force excessive” and who seek to throw off any restrictions on their own actions. They back the idea of “everyone for himself,” and they oppose this to the principle of “’human rights for all’” both within their own countries and internationally. “The Putin regime in Russia has become the shock detachment of the forces of worldwide reaction,” Skobov argues. It has transformed into the reason for its existence the struggle with the leadership of the West in the world and with the spread of Western principles and values.” And this, Skobov insists, “is hardly an accident or a historical misunderstanding.” Because of its criminal nature and habits of mind, the commentator continues, “the new Russian ‘elite’ has given rise to a unique political regime, one often called ‘a mafia.’” It is a regime that allows its members access to unlimited wealth, one based on deception and force, and one unrestrained by any law. “The very existence of a more developed, successful, and attractive social system, in which the dominating elites after a long struggle have come to terms with their responsibility to society and with legal limitations on force is something the ruling kleptocracy of the Putin mafia views as a threat,” Skobov says. At its base, he continues, the roots of the Putin regime’s hatred to Western civilization and its political values” take as their point of departure the radical conservatism of the 19th century with its attacks on liberal values,” which rejected the French revolution of 1789 and ultimately led to what Hitler called national socialism. Because that is the case, Skobov continues, the Putin kleptocracy is “the ‘existential’ enemy of Western civilization and its way of life. The Putin mafia not only seeks with all its strengths to stop the spread of the Western political model … it strikes to destroy Western civilization from within by corrupting elites and supporting reactionary extreme right forces.” The Putin regime can justify its internal order only by seeking to recover “a zone of imperial diktat, the possibility to rape an dismember its neighbors” without punishment. And in this way it can provide support for itself by “destroying the very principle of the supremacy of international law. Consequently, “the imperial revanchism of the Putin kleptocracy must not be considered as an exclusively pragmatic instrument for the achievement of domestic political goals.” It reflects a desire for greatness based on the destruction of the West and the West’s values, Skobov says. Because it possesses nuclear weapons and says it is prepared to use them, the Putin mafia has become “the main threat today to peace, progress and civilization “ It has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity for the entire period of its existence, starting with the “colonial Chechen wars” and now involving the attack on Ukraine. “Putin is not simply a thief and kleptocracy,” Skobov continues. “He is a mass murderer and a fanatic. Death and war accompany all his rule. Putin is death and war. Putin is the aggressor. No one threatens Russia with conquest and enslavement. Putin conducts his wars for the enslavement of others.” In order to enslave others, “Putin has unleashed an aggressive war against Ukraine” and annexed Crimea. And as a result, “Ukraine has become the main field of battle in the global fight between the Putin mafia and Western civilization.” That is where the fate of the current international legal order will be decided. That order will survive “only if the world has sufficient political will and decisiveness to force the Russian Federation to get out of Crimea and the Donbass. Therefore, any actions directed at forcing Russia to leave these places must be welcomed.” Unfortunately for the West, “stopping Putin’s aggression only by sanctions targeted at his entourage is impossible. “As long as the countries of the West refuse to use arms against the aggression, Putin will successfully destroy the international legal order through his use of ‘hybrid wars.’” “Sometimes one must fight for peace,” Skobov says, or as Andrey Illarionov put it in a recent interview, “tanks will only be stopped by other tanks – or by tank-stopping means.” And Skobov concludes: “While the war is going on, any expression of support and sympathy for the Putin army is a betrayal of the victims of aggression” and an act of assistance to “the occupiers and those who would inflict punishment on our common worldwide home.” Thus, “don’t believe Putin: he isn’t racing to get into paradise: he supposes that in this earth, he awaits not paradise but the Beslan school with burning walls falling on those within.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ever More Russians Want to Go ‘Back to the USSR’ But Ever Fewer Ukrainians Do

Paul Goble Staunton, December 26 – Polls show that ever more Russians want to go “back to the USSR” but this nostalgia is not shared by others, including Ukrainians where the level of nostalgia for that past is only have as much as it is among Russians (svoboda.org/a/ukrainci-vse-menshe-hotyat-v-sssr-rossiyane-bolshe/29673384.html). New Year’s celebrations highlight this Russian retreat to the past, Alina Vitukhnovskaya says, with this new year in Putin’s Russia being “the most Soviet of all Soviet new years.” Indeed, she says, elderly people say that even in the times of stagnation, such “sad decorations” were not put up (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5C23333FACF83). As a result, she continues, Russia has become “a land of ghosts,” where everything is simply brought back and no one feels like celebrating or resisting, the Russian commentator continues, a pattern that makes the current system “look absurd” even on its own terms, a stark contrast with the situation in Ukraine and elsewhere. In Russia today, Vitukhnovskaya continues, “everything from thought to design has become soviet. It seems even the weather has become Soviet! But if earlier all this was held together by a certain ideology, now, it continues as a result of inertia, cowardliness, servility and autochthonian fears.” In this is both it strength and weakness. Its strength because “it does not feel any internal discomfort being already in fact dead;” and its weakness because it has no ability to evolve or reproduce itself but only to return again and again to the same place without any hope of progress. Life has become an imitation of itself rather than the real thing, and people feel it. For them, “the present-day state is not ‘a dragon’ but a ghost;” but they too “have become ghosts,” the product of a machine that continues to work on its own without any purpose except to continue to work. And that has a consequence which the powers that be in the Kremlin hope Russians will not soon wake up to: “each of us can stop this having understood the absurdity of taking part in this bad comedy and having displayed political will.” That hasn’t happened yet, but the sense that it can and will stands behind the fading decorations of the “soviet” new years in Russia.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Army to Consist of Poorly Paid Draftees with Junior Officers Acting as Sergeants, Golts Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 26 – The Russian defense ministry and high command are going back to the Soviet practice of forming hollow divisions, consisting primarily of officers, with most of the soldiers continuing to consist of poorly paid draftees rather than professionals and with junior officers performing the roles non-coms do in Western armies, Aleksandr Golts says. Such a mass force may look good on paper, the independent military analyst says; but there is a very real danger that it could mean that the Russian military, as Vladimir Putin himself observed at the time of the second Chechen war, has a large number of men in uniform but few to send into battle (ej.ru/?a=note&id=33266). The shift from plans to move toward a professional military force toward continued reliance on draftees, Golts says, was signaled by Defense Minister Shoygu at a recent meeting of the Social Council of his ministry, when he talked about how many draftees Russia will need over the next seven years. “If you believe official statistics,” the analyst says, 260,000 men were drafted. Consequently, this figure is now to be considered ‘optimal.’ But several days ago, when reporting to the president … Shoygu himself said that 220,000 was optimal.” That 40,000-man gap isn’t easy to explain. According to Golts, “the simplest (and therefore the most probable) explanation is that the army is taking all that it can take, and declines in the size of the draft which have occurred over the last several years are connected not with the fulfillment of any plan but with the demographic hole into which [Russia] continues to fall.” But worrying about those numbers distracts attention from the most important message they collectively send: Moscow is going back on plans, reaffirmed by Putin himself only a year ago that the Russian army is going to be made up of professional soldiers rather than draftees. Clearly that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. And whether it is a case of making the best of a bad situation or more likely a reflection of how the Russian general staff thinks, Shoygu signaled that the defense ministry is pleased with relying on draftees. “An army which fights for money,” he said, “is certainly not entirely correct.” Russia must have one informed by spirit and pride. This shows, Golts continues, that “together with his epaulettes and trouser stripes, Shoygu has absorbed the prejudices characteristic of generals of the Soivet kind: lower ranks are obligated (in contrast to officers) to serve for free and exclusively out of love for the Motherland.” If such a soldier is paid adequately, these Soviet-style generals believe, he will “in an instant be transformed into an unprincipled and cynical ‘mercenary,’” despite all the evidence to the contrary in the experience of the militaries of Western countries, the military analyst points out. “Having become professions, soldiers and sergeants hardly lose their patriotism and loyalty to the Fatherland,” Golts says. But clearly Russia isn’t able to recruit or pay for a professional army. Shoygu did not even mention how many professional soldiers there are in Russia today, talking only about increasing their number to 475,000 by 2025. It is obvious, Golts continues, that the reason the defense minister was silent on this point is that the number of professional soldiers has not increased for three years and that there is no agreed upon figure as to how much of an increase there is supposed to be this year, with it being 60,000 if one believes Putin and 50,000 if one believes deputy defense minister Nikolay Pankov. What this means, the analyst says, is that “the number of soldiers and sergeants in the Armed Forces at a minimum isn’t growing and more likely is declining in number,” a truly dangerous trend given that the defense ministry is creating ever more new units. That means two things. On the one hand, it means that just as in Soviet times, junior officers will be doing the work sergeants do in Western armies, lowering the military capability of units in which they serve. And on the other, it means that many of these units will be hollow, staffed by officers and filled in only with mobilization. (For more on that last risk, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/12/ever-larger-portions-of-russian-army.html.)

Bill Browder on Twitter: “BREAKING: Russian Interior Ministry is formally applying for an Interpol arrest warrant for me for the 7th time. How many times does Russia have to abuse @INTERPOL_HQ Red Notice system before there are real consequences?… https://t.co/spXyRnKM5P”

 

The Weaponization of Everything – Defense One

So far, the U.S. has mustered no response to China’s and Russia’s widening assault on America’s global stature.

Russia After Putin Could Be Peaceful With Europe’s Help – Bloomberg

There’s a better path for both sides than military adventurism. But the Kremlin won’t find it by itself.

UAWire – Kremlin starts to prepare population for changes to Russian Constitution 

Having carried out its unpopular pension reform, the Russian government is now starting to prepare the population for changes to the …

Russia intercepts U.S. military aircraft patrolling territory near annexed Crimea – 112.international

The Russian Federation has intercepted the reconnaissance aircraft of United States Air Force (USAF), which departed for the patrolling near annexed Crimea as Aircraft Spots reported. “USAF plane RC-135V 64-14841 HARK51 has been intercepted by Russian Air Force over the Black Sea near Crimea,” the message said. Related: Network of Russian agents busted in southern Ukraine According to the data of the server, later the U.S. reconnaissance aircraft has continued the patrolling. As we reported the spy ship HMS Echo (H87) of the British Royal Navy entered the Black Sea through the Bosphorus. It was sent to express the support to Ukraine.

All 24 Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia declare themselves prisoners of war | UNIAN

All 24 Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia near the Kerch Strait in the Black Sea on November 25 have declared themselves to be prisoners of war (POW). The last two sailors announced their POW status on December 27.

Russian delegation in Minsk group left session hall as release of Ukrainian sailors was discussed – 112.international

The Russian mission in the Minsk trilateral contact group left the session hall, as the Ukrainian side brought up the issue of release of the detained Ukrainian sailors. Iryna Gerashchenko, the Ukrainian MP posted that on Facebook. ‘Today, during the video conference, the Russian representatives once again rose from their chairs and left the room, when our representative brought up the topic of the release of the captured sailors and OSCE SMM presence in Azov’, reads the message by Gerashchenko. Earlier, the Russian court ruled to keep the arrested Ukrainian sailors in detention, extending the period. As we reported earlier, the Russian Navy attacked the Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov. The vessels were damaged, and the crews captured by the Russian special services. Ukraine and the Western governments consider the attack an act of aggression. The Ukrainian sailors were taken to a remand center in Crimea, and then in Moscow, charged with the ‘illegal crossing of the Russian territorial waters’. All sailors deny their guilt, claiming they are prisoners of war.

Russian military presence in Azov Sea not shrinking – Poroshenko | UNIAN

“The situation around Ukraine has not changed much. You can see that the OSCE has confirmed our intelligence data that military hardware and Grad MLR systems were deployed in Luhansk region, the number of artillery systems was increased, while the tanks recorded by our NATO partners’ satellites were never withdrawn,” Poroshenko said at a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on Wednesday, according to an UNIAN correspondent. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has said that Russia has not reduced its military presence in the Sea of Azov.

Anti-assault defense unit stationed along Sea of Azov coast – JFO commander

An anti-assault defense unit has been deployed by Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation (JFO) command on the coast of the Sea of Azov because of the significant threat of attack by enemy forces from the Sea of Azov, according to JFO Commander Lt. General Serhiy Nayev. He added additional measures to shore up defense systems in the sector have been taken. An anti-assault defense unit has been deployed by Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation (JFO) command on the coast of the Sea of Azov because of the significant threat of attack by enemy forces from the Sea of Azov, according to JFO Commander Lt. General Serhiy Nayev. He added additional measures to shore up defense systems in the sector have been taken. “The Sea of Azov coastal area is well defended now. With the aim of preventing an enemy attack from the Sea of Azov, the JFO has carried out various measures to shore up defense in the sector and increase battle readiness of units stationed in the area,” Nayev said in an interview with the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency. Nayev said a separate military unit has been created to work with Ukraine’s Navy in the area. “Cooperation on issues involving exchange of intelligence information about the situation in the air, on land and at sea has been established. An anti-assault defense unit has also been deployed to protect the coast of the Sea of Azov,” he said.

Anti-airborne defense group was deployed in Mariupol sector of Donbas combat area; it will protect the seashore of the Sea of Azov – 112.international

A group of anti-airborne defense is deployed in the Mariupol sector of Donbas combat area. Its main objective will be to protect the seashore of the Sea of Azov. This is a restriction measure and the improvement to the defense system due to the major threat of military invasion from the waters of the Azov Sea. Serhiy Nayev, the Commander of Joint Forces Operation reported that on Thursday evening. ‘In terms of military, the Ukrainian coast of Azov is protected reliably. In order to prevent the enemy’s invasion from the waters of the Azov Sea, the Joint Forces performed a complex of measures to reinforce the defenses in this area, to improve the combat efficiency of units that act in this area’, Nayev said as quoted by Interfax-Ukraine news agency. Besides, he said that the newly deployed group duly cooperates with the Ukrainian Navy. The services exchange intelligence data on the current situation on the ground, on the sea and in the air. Earlier on Thursday, Nayev said that since late April 2018, the Ukrainian military has eliminated 450 Russian militants. “According to our intelligence, since the Joint Forces Operation began, the enemy sustained 450 fatalities; some 850 were injured. Besides, 28 items military vehicles were destroyed,” he stated.

JFO: Ukraine army in Donbas remain on full alert | UNIAN

The units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which perform tasks in the area of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) in Donbas, remain on full alert after the completion of martial law. According to Sarantsev, all entry and exit checkpoints in Donbas are working in normal mode.

Army able to respond swiftly in event of Russia’s invasion — Muzhenko

Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko has said the Ukrainian army can respond swiftly in the event of a threat of Russia’s invasion into Ukraine.

UAWire – Kyiv: Ukraine is ready to deploy troops in case of Russia’s direct aggression

The Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Victor Muzhenko stated on Facebook that if there is a threat of a direct …

Ukraine’s General Staff: Troops can quickly be deployed in case of Russian invasion | UNIAN

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine can deploy troops and significantly increase the number of combat units within a short time in case of a threat of a direct Russian invasion. More than 30,000 reservists refreshed their skills in training camps during martial law. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine can deploy troops and significantly increase the number of combat units within a short time in case of a threat of a direct Russian invasion. “At a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine today I’ve informed the President of Ukraine and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine about preliminary conclusions regarding the legal status of martial law: firstly, the General Staff is capable of deploying joint force groupings in case of a direct Russian invasion,” Chief of the General Staff and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko wrote on Facebook on December 26. Ukraine’s army is also ready to significantly increase the number of combat units in a short time at the expense of the professional and motivated battle reserve, he said.

Since the beginning of the Joint Forces Operation in the Donbas, the militants have lost about 450 people killed and 850 wounded – LtGen Naev

Since April 30, 2018, when the Joint Forces Operation was launched in the Donbass, casualties in the Russian regular military formations amounted to about 450 killed and about 850 wounded, said the commander of the joint forces Lieutenant General Sergey Naev. “According to our intelligence, since the beginning of the operation of the Joint Forces, the enemy’s losses amounted to about 450 killed and about 850 wounded. In addition, 28 units of military equipment were destroyed,” S.Nayev said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine. In this context, he noted that the Ukrainian military personnel involved in environmental protection, and will provide an adequate response to each case of shelling by the occupying forces. “Not a single shot of the enemy goes unpunished,” S.Nayev emphasized. On April 30, 2018, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed an order of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine “On the launch of a joint operation to ensure national security and defense, repulse and deter armed aggression of the Russian Federation on the territory of Donetsk and Lugansk regions”. According to the order, from 14:00 on April 30, 2018, in accordance with the plan, an operation of the Joint Forces was launched. The full text of the interview with the commander of the United Force operation S.Naev will be published in the news agency

Armed Forces eliminate 450 militants in Donbas since end of April 2018 – Joint Forces Commander – 112.international

Since April 30, 2018, when Joint Forces Operation was launched in Donbas, 450 pro-Russian militants were eliminated, as Serhiy Nayev, the Joint Forces Commander, said in an interview for Interfax. “According to our intelligence, since the Joint Forces Operation began, the enemy sustained 450 casualties and around 850 injured. Besides, 28 items of military equipment were destroyed,” he stated. In this regard, he noted that the Ukrainian military involved in the Joint Forces Operation will give an adequate response to each attack the occupants perform, as usual. The President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed a decree “On the beginning of the Joint Forces Operation to ensure national security and defence, counter and impede Russian armed aggression in Donetsk and Luhansk regions” on April 30, 2018. According to the document, the Joint Forces Operation began at 2 pm on April 30,2018.

More than 11,000 Russian soldiers fighting in Donbas – JFO commander

Russian regular military formations in temporarily occupied Donbas are comprised of 32,000 persons, of which 11,000 are Russian soldiers, Joint Forces Operation Commander Lt. General Serhiy Nayev has said. Russian regular military formations in temporarily occupied Donbas are comprised of 32,000 persons, of which 11,000 are Russian soldiers, Joint Forces Operation Commander Lt. General Serhiy Nayev has said. “We know of the 1st and 2nd Army Corps in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. They are comprised of about 32,000 persons, of which 11,000 are Russian citizens. Commanding officers of units in both formations are Russian military officers and Russian military generals,” Nayev told the Kyiv-based Interfax-Ukraine news agency. The 1st and 2nd Army Corps are not voluntary units of the self-proclaimed “Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics,” Nayev said, but active military formations reporting to Russia’s 8th Combined-Arms Army, the headquarters of which is located in Novocherkassk, Russia. He also gave details about the equipment used by the enemy. “The units are equipped mainly with Soviet-era weapons, but it’s not rare for modern-day Russia systems to be used, for example, the electronic warfare systems Repellent, Zhitel and Shipovnik-Aero. The Russian-led occupation forces use these systems to block drones from the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation of Europe) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (OSCE SMM) in occupied areas of Donbas, as well as 60 kilometers past the contact line with Ukraine-controlled territory,” Nayev said.

Around 32,000 people fight in pro-Russian militants ranks – 112.international

Around 32,000 people are “making war” in the ranks of the pro-Russian militants, as Serhiy Nayev, the Joint Forces Commander, told Interfax-Ukraine. “We know about the presence of regular active military of the first and second army corps on the temporarily occupied territory in Donetsk and Luhansk regions numbering around 32,000 people, 11,000 of whom are Russians. Career officers and Russia’s Armed Forces generals hold leadership positions of these formations,” Nayev noted. Joint Forces Commander also told about the arming and military equipment, which these illegal armed formations possess. “Soviet equipment is the basis of their armament. There is also modern Russian weaponry on the occupied territories, including electronic warfare “Repellent”, “ Zhytel”, “Shypovnik-Aero”. The Russian occupation troops Impede the work of OSCE SMM drones with the help of these systems,” Nayev added.

Almost entire ‘gray’ zone in Donbas liberated by Ukraine without Minsk deal breach – adviser | UNIAN

Yuriy Biriukov, an adviser to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, says that almost the entire “gray” zone in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, has been liberated from Russian-led forces without breaching the Minsk peace agreements and is under control of the Ukrainian army. Events in Donbas are considered to be the most dangerous conflict in Europe since the wars in the former Yugoslavia. Yuriy Biriukov, an adviser to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, says that almost the entire “gray” zone in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, has been liberated from Russian-led forces without breaching the Minsk peace agreements and is under control of the Ukrainian army. “Since that moment we started in May 2014, two-thirds of the territory [in Donbas] have been liberated. Almost the entire ‘gray’ zone has been liberated and brought under control,” Biriukov said on Ukraine’s Pryamiy TV. On occasion, the Ukrainian military in Donbas were forced to conduct operations to retake certain areas not to let Russian-led terrorists mount attacks on Ukrainian positions. At the same time, as reported by the headquarters of the Ukrainian Joint Forces, the Ukrainian military have not violated the Minsk agreements. Events in Donbas are considered to be the most dangerous conflict to grip Europe since the wars in the former Yugoslavia. The Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO), conducted by Ukrainian forces against Russian-led forces in Donbas since April 2014, was converted into a Joint Forces Operation late in April 2018. As of the beginning of November 2018, over 3 million people left the war zone, where more than 10,000 people died, including 450 civilians who died in the last 14 months. The Ukrainian army’s losses, which reach 7,000 people, were greater than those of U.S. troops during the entire period of the war in Afghanistan.

Ukrainian forces advance to tactically important location near occupied Horlivka – OSINT expert | UNIAN

Units of the Ukrainian Army’s separate mechanized brigade defending the area on the approaches to the town of Horlivka have successfully completed equipping defensive positions and organized reliable defense lines at the junction of settlements Zaitseve and Hladosove, coordinator of the Information Resistance OSINT group Dmytro Tymchuk wrote on Facebook. Today, the Horlivka direction remains the tensest hotspot in the zone of the Joint Forces Operation.

Ukraine’s Petro Poroshenko announces end of martial law | News | Al Jazeera

President says Russian threat is still present, but military rule has to end due to the upcoming presidential vote.

Poroshenko Ends Martial Law In Ukraine As Tensions With Russia Continue

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has announced the end of martial law in the country’s border regions that was imposed last month after Russia seized Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea.

Martial Law in Ukraine: So What Was the Point?

The 30-day term of the first period of martial law in the history of independent Ukraine has ended. Yet the country has faced the threat of full-scale incursion

NSDC to consider shortcomings of martial law administration discovered during martial law — Poroshenko

The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) will discuss behind closed doors shortcomings of martial law administration that were discovered under the recent state of martial law in Ukraine, President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine has said.

Is a Russian military operation against Ukraine likely in the near future? – Russia Military Analysis

Following the November 25th Kerch Strait naval skirmish, in which Russia seized three Ukrainian boats,  Ukrainian leadership has issued warnings of a Russian buildup near Ukraine’s borders. These began in early December and have led to a media echo chamber of concerns that a Russian attack on Ukraine is imminent, in part bolstered by press…

New UNGA resolution: Crimea temporarily occupied by Russia, Russia must release political prisoners & stop repressions |Euromaidan Press |

On 22 December, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution A73/L.48 titled “Situation of human rights in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, Ukraine.” Volodymyr Yelchenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations, wrote quite a positive assessment of the results of 73rd session of General Assembly on his twitter:

How can UK and NATO support for Ukraine be improved? (VIDEO) | KyivPost

Sir Michael Fallon MP, British defense secretary from 2014 until 2017 and former member of the U.K. National Security Council, and John Whittingdale MP, chair of the U.K.-Ukraine All Party Parliamentary group, discuss with Kyiv Post how the United Kingdom and NATO can boost its support for Ukraine while improving security in the Black Sea region. They also talk about the plans for improving Operation Orbital, the U.K. military support and defense assistance program for Ukraine, and the prospects for more lethal aid to be provided to the Ukrainian armed forces.

Ukraine is the worst example of the Russian aggression, – Michael Fallon – 112.international

Author : Elina Beketova Respondent : Michael Fallon Michael Fallon, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Secretary of State for Defence in 2014 – 2017, sat with 112 Ukraine TV channel for an exclusive interview to Elina Beketova

Ukraine is the worst example of the Russian aggression, – Michael Fallon – YouTube

112.UA International Published on Dec 27, 2018 Michael Fallon, Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Secretary of State for Defence in 2014 – 2017, sat with 112 Ukraine TV channel for an exclusive interview to Elina Beketova.

Russia Says Crimea Barrier Is Complete

Russian authorities say they have finished building a barrier dividing the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow forcibly seized in 2014, from mainland Ukraine.

Ukraine comments building of fence at Crimean border by Russia – 112.international

The building of the fence at the administrative border with Crimea is rather strange decision as Crimea is peninsula and there are many other ways to reach it. Deputy Minister of Temporarily Occupied Territories and IDPs Yury Hrymchak stated that the building of the fence at the administration border of Crimea with Ukraine by the Russian Federation does not change the status of the peninsula in any way as 112 Ukraine reported. According to him, the Russian Federation try to convince local people by such actions that all issues with Crimea are solved, the border is equipped there and no changes will take place. “It is more for the internal consumption as it does not matter for Ukraine and does not change the status of the peninsula in any way,” Hrymchak said. He noted that the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine will send the note of the protests due to this incident. “I think that there will be the notes of our Foreign Ministry as we constantly send them. However, Russia refuses to respond to them in any way but from the point of view of the international right we should constantly remind and they prove that we tried to settle the conflict through the peaceful means many times but the country-occupant does not respond to the statements made by us. It also concerns the conscription of the citizens of Ukraine, who live on occupied territory, it concerns the change of the demographic composition of Crimea and other issues,” Hrymchak stated. Besides, he expressed the opinion that the building of the fence at the administrative border with Crimea is rather strange decision as Crimea is a peninsula and there are many other ways to reach it.

Russia brings up to 1 mln Russian citizens to occupied Crimea – Crimean Tatars’ Mejlis | UNIAN

Member of Parliament of Ukraine Mustafa Dzhemilev, the long-time leader of the Crimean Tatars, says that Russia has brought from 800,000 to 1 million Russian citizens to occupied Crimea since the beginning of the Russian occupation of the peninsula in March 2014. Housing for Russians is actively being built in the cities of Yevpatoria, Sevastopol and Simferopol. Member of Parliament of Ukraine Mustafa Dzhemilev, the long-time leader of the Crimean Tatars, says that Russia has brought from 800,000 to 1 million Russian citizens to occupied Crimea since the beginning of the Russian occupation of the peninsula in March 2014. “There are some sources – I will not talk about them now, which give us the grounds to estimate that the population of occupied Crimea has increased,” Dzhemilev said at the Crimean House in Kyiv, citing data of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People, an UNIAN correspondent reported. In his words, information about the population of Crimea is very carefully concealed. “We know about their plans to sharply increase in the population of Kerch, Sevastopol. How are these plans fulfilled? They are even overfulfilled – this is also evident,” he added. He recalled that he had previously stated that since the beginning of the occupation, about 500,000 citizens of the Russian Federation had been brought to Crimea. “When our fellow citizens visited us, they said that our number was even underestimated. According to our fellow citizens, there are from 800,000 to 1 million [Russian citizens] there,” Dzhemilev said. He said that the mortality rate in Crimea is very high, which is 33% higher than the birth rate. “The highest mortality rate is among the indigenous population,” he said. He also gave some insights into how citizens of the Russian Federation are being relocated to occupied Crimea. “First of all, these are citizens of the Russian Federation who are servicemen, employees of the interior, the FSB who have retired. They receive a certificate that gives them the right to buy 16 square meters of housing per person. The state is obliged to give them money for the purchase of the housing. If there are certain problems with such certificates in other regions of Russia, they are instantly issued in Crimea,” he explained. Housing primarily for migrants from the Russian Federation is actively being built in Crimea, especially in the cities of Yevpatoria, Sevastopol and Simferopol.

“Name and shame:” Archaeologists illegally working in occupied Crimea facing Ukraine’s sanctions | UNIAN

Ukraine is imposing sanctions against archaeologists for illegal work in Russian-occupied Crimea. Not only against politicians or businessmen of the Russian Federation are facing Ukrainian sanctions.

Journalists reveal how Ukrainian goods get to occupied Crimea | UNIAN

Trade relations between mainland Ukraine and Crimea were severed in 2016. There are three main ways how Ukrainian products land on shelves of Crimean stores.

UAWire – Ukraine calls on Italy to investigate supply of equipment to annexed Crimea by Italian companies

The Embassy of Ukraine in Italy requested the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the General Confederation of Italian industry …

Moscow spreading disinformation ahead of SBU’s briefing on Russian sabotage groups  – information policy ministry | UNIAN

Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine Dmytro Zolotukhin has said Russia is spreading disinformation ahead of the Ukrainian SBU’s press conference scheduled for Thursday where security officials will elaborate on the exposed activities of the Russian GRU’s sabotage groups whose members were recently arrested. The deputy minister points at clumsiness in the latest disinformation effort by the Russians. Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine Dmytro Zolotukhin has said Russia is spreading disinformation ahead of the Ukrainian SBU’s press conference scheduled for Thursday where security officials will elaborate on the exposed activities of the Russian GRU’s sabotage groups whose members were recently arrested. “The SBU Security Service of Ukraine will in an hour start a presser where top security officials will provide evidence of the activities of the Russian GRU’s agent groups,” Zolotukhin wrote on Facebook. He said two hours before the briefing, a fake letter had been spun in the Russian segment of the internet, where a major SBU official “sends for approval a staged video with testimonies of detainees confirming the activities of the Russian GRU’s agent groups in the territory of Ukraine.” The “staged video” is allegedly supposed to be further shared for media use. The deputy minister notes Russia’s clumsiness in preparing this disinformation spin as the official named Vitaliy Naida who “signed the letter” as an agency’s department chief is actually holding another position within the structure. The department in question is headed by Oleksandr Klymchuk.

Ukraine exposes Russian military intelligence network, detains leader | UNIAN

Counterintelligence operatives of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine have exposed a Russian military intelligence’s network of assets in Mykolayiv region and detained its leader, who is now charged with high treason. Nestiuk said the latest task by their Russian curators was to create and further guide clandestine activities aimed at sabotage in the Ochakiv district. Counterintelligence operatives of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine have exposed a Russian military intelligence’s network of assets in Mykolayiv region and detained its leader, who is now charged with high treason. Representative of the SBU counterintelligence department, Volodymyr Nestiuk, told a Kyiv briefing on Thursday that the operation had been carried out under the procedural guidance of the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office, an UNIAN correspondent reports. “In particular, the [group’s] leader, a Ukraine national, born in 1961, 1st rank Captain of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in reserve, who also has Russian citizenship, was detained on December 20. It was established he had been recruited by a GRU officer in Sevastopol, and he repeatedly traveled to the annexed Crimea for debriefing meetings,” Nestiuk said. According to the SBU, the agent and his co-conspirers collected and handed over to the Russians classified info on the functioning of military units in the territory of the Ochakiv garrison of Mykolayiv region, as well as their involvement in the Joint Forces Operation in eastern Ukraine. Nestiuk said the latest task by the group’s Russian curators was to create and further guide the clandestine activities aimed at sabotage and destabilization in the Ochakiv district. “During the search of the agent’s place of residence, the officers found documentary evidence proving the suspect’s guilt, such as communication devices to keep in touch with Russian intelligence operatives, computer equipment, electronic data storage devices, where the collected information was processed, as well as documentary materials, including those with restricted access,” Nestiuk said.

A network of undercover Russian agents was busted in Mykolaiv region, southern Ukraine – 112.international

A network of undercover Russian agents was busted in Mykolaiv region, southern Ukraine. The state security service detained the leader of the network, the 57-year-old officer of the Ukrainian Navy reserve. The man repeatedly visited Crimea for instructions that he received from the Russian supervisors. He passed the data about Ukrainian military units stationed in Ochakiv district and formed the paramilitary groups in Mykolaiv region. The court selected the two-months-long detention as pre-trial restriction measure. Other members of the network are now interviewed as well. Recently, the Russian court sentenced Ukrainian lawyer Ihor Kyiashko to eight years behind bars at a high-security correctional facility under the charge of espionage and military equipment smuggling attempt, Meduza reported. “According to the prosecution, Kyiashko tried to buy a blade for the RD-33 engine in Russia and sell it in Ukraine. RD-33 is used in MiG-29 jet fighter aircraft. Russian Security Service controlled the sale process, and he was detained when the money was handed. Kyiashko admitted his guilt,” the news agency reads. Besides, Kyiashko was found guilty of attempting to gather data on a radio station used in the S-400 missile system. The detainee insists that somebody planted the secret documents during the arrest.

Ukrainian forces detain pro-Kremlin militant in Donbas – 112.international

The Ukrainian military captured a fighter of pro-Russian militants in Donbas combat area. The press office of the Joint Forces Operation HQ reported that on Facebook. ‘December 27, servicemen of a mechanized brigade from the Joint Forces captured a member of an illegal armed formation as they completed combat tasks on the contact line. The captive appeared to be the 35-year-old native of Horlivka, the former employee of the Interior Ministry [of Ukraine]’, reads the message. The man appeared to have served with the illegal armed gangs of Russian mercenaries in eastern Ukraine since 2014. In 2016, he was wounded and decommissioned due to health conditions. In November 2018, they drafted him again under the mobilization mode. ‘Currently, the captive and his weapon are handed over to the staff of the Security Service of Ukraine. The investigation is underway’, the Ukrainian military concluded.

Russia persistently ignores Ukraine’s proposals to swap hostages before Orthodox Christmas, MP Iryna Herashchenko says

26.12.18 17:03 – Russia persistently ignores Ukraine’s proposals to swap hostages before Orthodox Christmas, MP Iryna Herashchenko says The Ukrainian side in the Trilateral Contact Group desolving Donbas conflijct has received no response from Russia and so-called “Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics” to its proposal to hold a videoconference on Dec. 27 regarding the… View news.

Russia, officials from occupied Donbas refuse to conduct video conference on prisoner swap

The Ukrainian side in the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) has not received an answer from representatives of Russia and officials in occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions to the proposal to conduct a video conference call for TCG members on December 27, 2018, to discuss new initiatives by Kyiv to release hostages and political prisoners.

President comments on EU, NATO integration, 112.international – Poroshenko hopes Ukraine’s Parliament “drops anchor” in NATO “bay” in February – 112.international

Poroshenko hopes Ukraine’s Parliament drops anchor in NATO bay

Pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine on Moscow’s sanctions list: Expert explains | UNIAN

The new set of anti-Ukrainian sanctions that Russia imposed recently is about fixing old mistakes as the initial “black list” was “too clumsy and ridiculous,” that’s according to a head of the Center for Military Law Studies, Oleksandr Musienko. The Kremlin expects that the move will spark a lively discussion in Ukraine and that people’s stance toward the targeted officials will change. The new set of anti-Ukrainian sanctions that Russia imposed recently is about fixing old mistakes as the initial “black list” was “too clumsy and ridiculous,” that’s according to a head of the Center for Military Law Studies, Oleksandr Musienko. The expert recalled that earlier, even a number of names of targeted entities and individuals were misspelled in the Kremlin’s sanctions orders and that they were “obviously drafted in a rush, even failing to translate everything properly [fro Ukrainian]. And now they decided that this should be fixed,” Musienko told Obozrevatel. In his opinion, such negligence negatively affects the image of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian government as a whole as it is Medvedev’s signature that seals the orders.

Sociologist on Ukraine’s presidential elections: Number of “undecided” voters shrinking | UNIAN

Director of Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation, Iryna Bekeshkina, says recent public opinion polls in Ukraine show that the number of voters who remain undecided has dropped significantly. So far, the share of those who are positive to support a certain candidate is approximately 40%.

Ukrainians see war, corruption in power as main problems in country – poll | UNIAN

Ukrainians consider the war in the east of Ukraine (72%), as well as bribery and corruption in power (41%) to be main nationwide problems in Ukraine. Yet, utility tariff hikes, low wages and pensions, and inflation are also among Ukrainians’ concerns.

Russia fully responsible for disrupting release of hostages, political prisoners – Gerashchenko | UNIAN

Ukraine’s Representative in the humanitarian subgroup of the Trilateral Contact Group for the Donbas settlement, First Deputy Chair of the Verkhovna Rada, Iryna Gerashchenko, says Russia and their henchmen in the temporarily occupied part of Donbas are fully responsible for the failed efforts to free hostages and political prisoners. The Russian side provided no official response to “dozens” of Ukraine’s proposals to swap Ukrainians, the official said.

“No utopia”: Ukrainian writer on chances of winning war with Russia | UNIAN

The main risk for Ukraine in its war with Russia is that hostilities can exhaust the country without exhausting the aggressor, according to an acclaimed Ukrainian writer Yuriy Andrukhovych. Sanctions should not be decorative, Andrukhovych stressed. The main risk for Ukraine in its war with Russia is that hostilities can exhaust the country without exhausting the aggressor, according to an acclaimed Ukrainian writer Yuriy Andrukhovych. “The main risk of war is that it can exhaust us without exhausting the enemy. Our chance of winning is that Russia becomes bogged down in this conflict, wastes loads of resources, and deflates. I don’t think this is some utopia,” Andrukhovych told Novoye Vremya Strany. “Russia must find itself in the situation where their leadership, and then the population, will curse the day when they invaded Ukraine. And to this end, economic sanctions against Russia should not be decorative. And this should probably relate more to our Western partners,” the writer believes. At the same time, he noted that the Ukrainian authorities significantly exaggerate the level of their actual partnership with the West in terms of repelling Russian aggression, Andrukhovych suggests. “As for our leadership, it seems to me that they overexaggerate the level of their partnership with the West in this situation. Unfortunately, there is no stable anti-Putin coalition. We need to make sure it is set up and not rest on wishful thinking,” added the writer.

Moody’s upgrades ratings of Kyiv and Kharkiv – news about economy

Moody’s Public Sector Europe has upgraded the ratings of two Ukrainian cities – Kyiv and Kharkiv – to Caa1 from Caa2, which reflected Moody’s upgrade of Ukraine’s sovereign bond rating to Caa1, with a stable outlook, from Caa2 (positive outlook) on December 21, 2018. The outlook was changed to stable from positive.

Expert explains how Ukraine should address problems in relations with neighbors | UNIAN

Head of the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation, an expert on international affairs, Bohdan Yaremenko, has shared his assessment of the situation prevailing in Ukraine’s relations with Hungary, Poland and Romania, claiming the Russian Federation is making a significant contribution to raising the degree of tensions in Ukraine’s relations with its neighbors. He also commented on Hungary’s latest move to open Ukrainian language courses for the Hungarian national minority in Zakarpattia’s Berehove. Head of the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation, an expert on international affairs, Bohdan Yaremenko, has shared his assessment of the situation prevailing in Ukraine’s relations with Hungary, Poland and Romania, claiming the Russian Federation is making a significant contribution to raising the degree of tensions in Ukraine’s relations with its neighbors. “Russia has a rather extensive structure of intelligence agencies and diplomacy. They are able in a timely manner to point out certain problems that others have and try to play them. Due to the lack of principles, due to ignoring the norms of international law, it is easier for Russia to speculate and play on the problems of neighbors or foreign states than it is for other countries,” the expert told Glavred. He also commented on Hungary’s latest move to open Ukrainian language courses for Hungarian national minority in Zakarpattia’s Berehove. “This is a good thing. It looks like a nice gesture on the part of Hungary. It’s not the first time Hungarians do something to make Ukraine look bad, and every time they succeed. Frankly speaking, this causes irritation and shame, and it’s not because of Hungary’s act but because of our authorities. Of course, Ukraine must ensure the interests of its citizens: contribute to teaching both the Ukrainian and Hungarian languages, provide people them with vaccines and all other necessities. This is not Hungary who should be doing this but Ukraine,” he said.

History of OUN-UPA: the Bandera controversy that eclipsed 200,000 people who fought for the independence of Ukraine |Euromaidan Press |

Soviet propaganda about the vicious bourgeois nationalist Stepan Bandera and the Russian propaganda cliché of all Ukrainians being “banderites” has turned Stepan Bandera into a symbol of the Ukrainian struggle for independence. At the same time, some Polish and Israeli politicians portray Bandera and his part of OUN as cruel killers. It’s not easy to find a reliable golden middle, but critically examining recent political statements is fully possible. On 22 December, the Ukrainian President signed changes to the law “On the status of veterans of war, social guarantees for them.” Members of several Ukrainian civil and military organizations of the 20th century were included in the list of veterans who will have social support from the state. The law targets first of all members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), though dozens of other organizations are also listed as those which fought for the Independence of Ukraine: the Polissian Sich, the Ukrainian People’s Revolutionary Army, the Ukrainian military organization etc. This amendment is the finalization of a long process of recognition of insurgents who fought for the independence of Ukraine and against the Soviet partisans and Army. Already in 2015, more than 20 Ukrainian organizations of the 20th century were recognized as fighters for the independence of Ukraine in the law “On the legal status and honoring the memory of the fighters for the independence of Ukraine in the XX century.” However, they didn’t get the state social support that Soviet partisans and soldiers have in Ukraine. This changes now, as they are officially considered veterans. It took 27 years of Ukrainian independence to officially and fully recognize the fighters for Ukrainian independence who fought against Soviet troops and the NKVD secret police, as well as with the Nazis once it became clear that they will not support a Ukrainian State. But still, despite the official recognition, the discussion about personalities and even some organizations, including OUN, continues. The recent decisions by the council of Lviv Oblast and the Ukrainian parliament regarding the policy of commemoration in 2019 were especially debated, as they glorify Stepan Bandera, the most controversial leader of the OUN(b).

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.

Average age of aircraft used in Ukraine is 23 years, – State Aviation Administration – 112.international

The average age of the planes in Ukraine used by the private air companies for the flights makes 23 years as UNN reported citing the State Aviation Administration. According to the administrations, these aircrafts are put in the State register of the civilian aircraft of Ukraine. It is reported that all planes used by the Ukrainian air companies have the certificates of the airworthiness and review of the airworthiness. The data of the planes’ certificates were received by the air companies after the check of the aircrafts. According to its results, the technical state of the planes of the civilian airline meets all the requirements of the Rules of maintenance of the airworthiness approved by the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry. However, the State Aviation Administration pointed that its workers wrote 279 fines for different violations in the sphere of the civilian aviation in 2018.

IT specialists begin returning to Ukraine, leaving jobs abroad – journalists | UNIAN

IT specialists who left Ukraine for the West several years ago have started returning home. They were leaving Ukraine en masse in 2014-2015 due to economic instability and a threat of full-scale Russian aggression.

Ukrainian cyber police bust DarkNet data selling platform – LB.ua news portal

Ukrainian cyber police bust DarkNet data selling platform. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Why Ukrainians keep voting for the wrong people |Euromaidan Press |

Article by: Sashko Shevchenko Editor’s Note: The Ukrainian political life often resembles a tragicomedy. Electoral manipulations aside, it seems that one would be hard-pressed to find a real political party with a real ideology. Why are Ukrainians eternally pressed to choose between bad and worse, how does “buckwheat bribing” work, and is there any way to break this vicious cycle? Sashko Shevchenko investigates. A strange conversation occurred on one of the streets of the Ukrainian city of Dnipro in late November 2004. It was a windy sunny day. The last leaves, along with the first timid snowflakes, were falling down, covering the cold ground. It was the first week of the Orange Revolution-to-be in Kyiv, but the idea of a protest already spread to the whole country. My mother, who supported the revolution, was walking home, not having checked the last news yet. A strange older woman, who couldn’t hide the excitement, started talking to her: “He won! Thank God, he won!” The unsolicited interlocutor was poorly dressed: her clothing was old and pretty worn out. “Who won?” an anxious question followed. “You ask who? Yanukovych, of course!” the older woman’s excitement started being hysterical. For my mother, it was a moment of desperation: “How can you be happy? He’s a criminal!” “So what? At least he’s ours!” was the answer.

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.

Painting looted during WWII recovered in Connecticut, returning to Ukraine | Fox News

A painting that was looted from a Ukrainian art museum during World War II and spent decades in a Connecticut home will be returned to the eastern European nation, U.S. officials said last week.

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?