Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (69)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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A new year, a new Russian stunt, modeled on the Soviet and DPRK practice of hostage taking to trade for whatever is of interest, in this case, Russian covert operators captured by the West. Far, far more important is the new report by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources, that predicts a rapid decline in Russian oil production in 7 years time, as easily accessible reserves are exhausted – given the correlation between Russia’s spare cash and its misconduct beyond its borders, this shows the Chekist regime is running on borrowed time. The regime’s best game plan is, of course, to abandon the doctrine of revanchism and shed the outer colonial acquisitions that are expensive to maintain and not able to generate revenue. Needless to say, the regime appears to be doing the opposite, emulating the delusional behavior of the NSDAP leadership in 1944, and there is much speculation now on the Anschluss of Belarus.

A nice essay on Russian fiction by Wilson.

Some excellent work by Prof Goble collecting, translating and analyzing Russian source material. Specifically, Eidman asserts that the “Putin’s Chekist Regime hasn’t Gone Mad but Want West to Think It has”, arguing the irrational strategic behavior reflects an instance of the famous“madman strategy” – the Russians are crazy enough to do self-destructive things, and therefore must be given concessions. This line of argument contradicts other observers, who last year argued the Chekist regime is now deeply immersed in believing its own delusional propaganda. Markov argues it is Russia’s “Counterpart of ‘Deep State’ Misinforming Putin to Make Him Look Bad”. Yakovenko argues that“Putinism is 21st Century Fascism with Nuclear Weapons” articulating the ways in which the regime resembles the NSDAP and CPSU regimes, and the ways it differs.

In perspective, the strategic choices the Chekist regime has made since 2014, if not 2008, are indeed irrational, and that so many Russophone analysts and scholars are arguing for particular explanations shows that irrationality is being seen and assessed for what it is. Yet every aspect of the regime’s strategic irrationality follows much the same pattern – the Vozhd copying the Fuhrer’s practice of making grandioze strategic sacrifices to effect domestic propaganda and internal political objectives, but especially to reinforce public perceptions of the leader’s invincibility and strength. What is irrational in global strategic terms is very rational in Russia’s domestic political culture, where the grandioze is much admired. If there is a ‘Deep State’ inside the Russian bureaucracies, it’s thinking is in lockstep with the regime leadership. If there is a shared belief driving this behavior, it is that curious amalgam of Soviet and Tsarist thinking that molded the current Russian leadership during their youth, the same belief system that drove Suslov to recommend invading Afghanistan. Of course, what is strategically irrational in foreign policy terms no matter how rational in domestic politics will eventually collide with reality, as it always does.

Two sorry accounts from Soviet history by Avtorkhanov – Beria’s storm troopers in action.

While Ukraine celebrates a new year, debate continues over Russia’s potential invasion of Ukraine in coming months – there is one common thread, that is that the very limp response by the Western leadership to the Russian Kerch attack is a green light for further Russian attacks. The best game plan is the Reagan era model, which is well attuned to many of the strategic realities of today. The Muscovy regime needs more things to worry about, not feelings of comfort and understanding. Updates on Crimea, Donbas and POWs. Also interesting updates on Ukraine’s defense industry. Pres Poroshenko’s very nice New Year’s Eve address, and updates on politics and economy.


‘Caught in the act of spying’: US citizen detained in Moscow ahead of New Year’s Eve celebrations — RT World News

An American citizen was apprehended during a “spying action” in Moscow, the Federal Security Service (FSB) said. He is currently being detained on suspicion of espionage.

Russia’s FSB Detains US Citizen in Moscow During Spy Action – Sputnik International

A criminal case under the article “espionage” has been initiated against an American citizen, the press service of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement.

US spy captured in Moscow

The project is oriented towards the revelation of corrupted officials, organized crime representatives, who are tied to the law enforcement and ruling establishments.

Russia’s Arrest of Paul Whelan Is Payback for Maria Butina, CIA Veterans Say

U.S. citizen is accused of espionage may be a pawn to trade for the Kremlin’s own accused agent sitting in a D.C. jail.

US citizen arrested in Russia on spying charges because Putin wants hostage, prominent Kremlin critic says | Fox News

Russia’s domestic security agency said Monday that it has arrested a U.S. citizen on espionage charges, and a prominent Kremlin critic is claiming the arrest happened because Russian President Vladimir Putin wants a hostage.

Paul Whelan, US citizen, accused of spying by Russia – CNN

Russia has detained a US citizen on suspicion of spying, according to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

Russian security agency arrests ‘US spy’ in Moscow – BBC News

The FSB security agency says a US man named Paul Whelan has been charged with spying.

U.S. Citizen Arrested In Moscow On Suspicion Of Spying : NPR

Russia says Paul Whelan was detained on Friday while on a spy mission. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted on espionage charges.

Russia Arrests American in Moscow on Spy Charges – The Daily Beast

FSB identifies man as Paul Whelan.

Russia detains American ‘caught in the act of spying’ – YouTube

CNN Published on Dec 31, 2018 A United States citizen was detained in Russia and accused of being a spy just weeks after a Russian citizen, Maria Butina, pleaded guilty to acting as a foreign agent and trying to influence the 2016 election. CNN’s Pamela Brown discusses with Matthew Chance and her panel on The Lead. #CNN #News

Russia arrests American suspected of espionage | Reuters.com

Russia’s state security service, the FSB, says it has detained an American citizen suspected of spying in Moscow. Russian media have named him as Paul Whelan, but details are scarce. Vanessa Johnston reports.}

American nabbed during a ‘spying action,’ Russia says

Russia’s domestic security service said on Monday it had detained an American citizen in Moscow on suspicion of spying.

Breaking: A U.S. Spy Captured in Russia?

…20 years in prison, if convicted….01/01/2019 5:37:02AM EST.

U.S. citizen’s detention in Russia on spying suspicions is new complication in fraught relationship – Los Angeles Times

Russia’s domestic security agency said Monday that it has detained a U.S. citizen on suspicion of espionage. The case comes against the backdrop of a Russian national’s pending sentence in the United States, as well as the long-running Mueller investigation.

Alleged U.S. spy, Paul Whelan, detained in Moscow, Russian news outlets say – CBS News

Paul Whelan could get a 20 year prison term but there were no immediate details on his alleged espionage

Paul Whelan, US citizen arrested in Russia, was there for a wedding, brother says – CNN

A US citizen detained in Russia is a retired Marine who was in Moscow for a wedding, and his detention has his family concerned about his welfare, his twin brother said Tuesday.

Family of American arrested in Russia on spy charges fears for his safety   – The Washington Post

Paul Whelan, 48, was detained while visiting Moscow for the wedding of a friend.

The Family Of The Man Arrested For Alleged Spying In Moscow Says He’s Innocent

David Whelan, the brother of Paul Whelan, says he was in Russia for a wedding.

UAWire – Russia has only 7 years of oil remaining

The Russian economy, which has been based almost exclusively on oil and gas exports since Soviet times, is now facing a countdown. The old Soviet-era deposits are being rapidly depleted, and the country has been unable to find new deposits with oil that can be extracted easily and cheaply, reports finanz.ru. The current levels of oil extraction in Russia “are inadequately ensured by the reserves of the deposits being developed,” according to a document titled “Strategy of the mineral raw material base until 2035” drafted by the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Friday. Only 7 years remain until the tipping point, the document warns. From 2025, the reserve of active deposits will no longer be able to handle the load. By 2035, the ministry estimates that production could drop by nearly half – from the current 553 million tons per year (11.4 million barrels per day), to 310 million tons (6.3 million barrels per day). The situation will be particularly severe in Western Siberia, which currently provides every second barrel. If nothing is done about it, in the worst-case scenario the production will drop by more than half – from 330 to 146 million tons per year, warned Energy Minister Alexander Novak at a government session on September 18. This means that no oil for exporting (currently 5.2 million barrels per day) will remain. The stream of oil dollars which account for an estimated 30% of Russia’s foreign currency earnings could dry up. Russia will completely vanish from the world oil market by the middle of the 2030s, Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman told Bloomberg in an interview. He added that Riyadh is ready to replace retiring Russian supplies. In order to stay in the big oil game, Russia will need to develop reserves that are hard to extract, the strategic document says. According to the Federal Agency for Mineral Resources, shale and deep-water projects in the Arctic shelf account for two third of the country’s remaining oil. The problem is profitability: the cost of such extraction is from $70 per barrel on land to as much as $150 in the Arctic, observes RusEnergy partner Mikhail Krutikhin. Furthermore, in order to pursue these projects, Russia will need technologies that western sanctions have cut it off from. “Extraction could have been maintained with the traditional deposits using intensification (hydraulic fracturing, including multistage), by developing non-traditional oil reserves on land (Bazhenov Formation) or with the development of sea reserves (on the Arctic shelf),” observes Tatyana Mitrova, director of the Skolkovo Energy Center. However, Russian companies have virtually none of their own technology or equipment for such operations, she notes. The technologies in question are shelf drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology, which make possible to extract shale oil, revive old deposits, and increase well output. Since the start of the sanctions, not a single hydraulic fracturing fleet has been built, and the existing fleet is rapidly deteriorating, Mitrova observes, and even maintaining extraction at old deposits could become a problem. The scale of the looming threats is such that they have been discussed at the Security Council level. In November, the Security Council held a session devoted to the risks to the fuel and energy sector. At the end of the session, President Vladimir Putin said that the extraction of energy resources “brings Russia not only appreciable revenue, but also allows it to remain one of the primary guarantors of world energy security”, and that sanctions create “threats” and “challenges” to this state of affairs. At that time, the Security Council approved an Energy Security Doctrine which demands a technological breakthrough in the oil sector. “So that we have our own equipment, our own technologies, software etc.” said Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

UAWire – European Commission: construction of Nord Stream 2 pipeline is hard to stop

US President Donald Trump’s criticism of the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is not a reason to stop the project, stated European …

UAWire – Putin classifies Russia’s weapons procurement

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off amendments to the law “On the state defense order,” which now classify weapons, military equipment and ammunition procurement as a secret, even when bought for the National Guard or the Interior Ministry. According to the state arms program signed by Putin in 2017, out of the 22 trillion rubles ($316 billion) allocated to the state defense order for the next 10 years, 19 trillion will go to re-arming the army, and 3 trillion will go to law enforcement organs, the Investigative Committee, the Foreign Intelligence Service and the FSB. According to the new rule, procurement to create, supply, service, repair or dispose of weapons and military equipment will not be included in the plans and timetables stipulated by the legislation concerning the contract system of procurements for state needs. “Information on such procurements will not fall within the plan timetables that must be put online. Accordingly, not everyone will know what is being purchased or in what quantities. This will narrow down both the potential participants in such procurements and the circle of entities interested in it,” observes Andrei Moiseev, associate civil law professor at the Plekhanov Russian University of Economics. Moiseev also points out that the passing of the law will make it possible to shorten the placement times for the state defense order. “It will also increase the effectiveness of procurements under the current sanctions from foreign states by limiting the circle of entities who possess information about procurements of arms and military and special equipment,” he emphasized.

Russian Fairy Tales – To Inform is to Influence

James Wilson 31 December 2018 Whatever happened to the great tradition of Russian literature which had its heyday in the 19th century, with intellectual giants such as Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, and Pasternak? Then, Russian creativity and artistic excellence was admired, and the fairy tale genre also had cultural significance in Russia with the publication by Alexander…

Foreign Economic Espionage in Cyberspace – To Inform is to Influence

2018 NATIONAL COUNTERINTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY CENTER Executive Summary In the 2011 report to Congress on Foreign Spies Stealing U.S. Economic Secrets in Cyberspace, the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive provided a baseline assessment of the many dangers facing the U.S. research, development, and manufacturing sectors when operating in cyberspace, the pervasive threats posed by…

Russian Sanctions And Bans On Ukraine Products Juvenile – To Inform is to Influence

Russia has broadened their ban on products from Ukraine because of “unfriendly acts by Ukraine.” The vague “unfriendly acts” are not defined. Now banned: Ukrainian chocolate, beer, nappies, wheat, sunflower oil, bread, jam, and wine This, despite the fact that Russia: Illegally invaded and annexed Crimea Illegally invaded and is supporting ongoing terrorist activities in Ukraine’s Donbas Russia seized three Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea Russia is holding 24 sailors hostage in Moscow Russia shot down MH-17, killing 298 Has surrounded Ukraine with thousands of tanks for an apparent invasion Has saturated the media with propaganda, disinformation, fake news, and misinformation Openly insults Ukraine in diplomatic channels and the media Repeated Russian artillery bombardments into Ukraine from inside Russia Repeated cyber attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, including the NotPetya cyberattack Has denied responsibility for many assassinations inside Ukraine and elsewhere Has not acknowledged responsibility for any of the above actions, Russia is ‘the victim’ Ukraine has recently acted defensively by, Highlighting a Russian attempt to drop chemical weapons on innocent civilians in Donbas and create a false ‘provocation’ as a Gleiwitz incident. Temporarily declaring Martial Law and allowed it to lapse Barring Russian potential soldiers and intelligence agents from entering Ukraine Building up defenses along contacts lines with Russian proxies Blocked Russian online propaganda and social media sites inside Ukraine Shoring up cyber defenses from constant Russian cyber attacks Also a factor, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) recently broke away from the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which emasculates Russia. The barbed statement and the ban are relatively juvenile attempts to punish Ukraine for not surrendering, for breaking the OCU away from the ROC, and for building up an effective defensive military force. Russia has invaded two sovereign states and is encroaching on others, yet, somehow Ukraine is accused of “unfriendly acts”. </end editorial>

#StrongerWithAllies: Lithuanian Sharpshooter Has Security in His Sights

Saturday mornings for Lithuanian National Guard Private First Class Adomas Bužinskas rarely begin with a steaming mug of coffee in bed. Instead, the highly-skilled sharpshooter is often lying in a deep, cold trench defending Lithuania’s borders. Lithuanians born after their country declared its independence from the Soviet Union on March 11, 1990, are often referred to as the “Freedom Generation.” Bužinskas is one of them. In his fifth year of service in the Lithuanian National Guard, Bužinskas is a twenty-six-year-old masters student at Vilnius University, a politician by trait and education. While still in university he was elected to the Vilnius City Council, becoming one of the youngest delegates ever elected during the short history of independent Lithuania. But there is another side of Bužinskas with which not every resident of Vilnius is familiar. Well known to the public for his wit and sometimes edgy sense of humor, Bužinskas finds himself wearing camouflage and a burgundy beret as often as grey suits.

NPS Thesis: Fake News, Conspiracy Theories, and Lies: An Information Laundering Model for Homeland Security   – To Inform is to Influence

[open pdf – 1MB] From the thesis abstract: “The purpose of this research, broadly speaking, is to expose the threat that ‘fake news’ poses to our national security. This thesis answers the question: Can the information laundering model, or a modified version of it, be used to explain how the internet is exploited to spread fake news, and…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Chekist Regime hasn’t Gone Mad but Want West to Think It has, Eidman Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 31 – A series of apocalyptic articles about possible Russian nuclear strikes on the West appears to suggest that the Putin regime has gone insane, Igor Eidman says. But that isn’t the case, he continues. Instead, it is a ruse intended to cause Western governments to draw that false conclusion and thus be more ready to make concessions to the Kremlin. Over the last several months, the Russian commentator says, the Voyenno-Promyshlenny kuryer has run a series of article about “how we will destroy the US,” with one advocating a nuclear strike on the Gulf Stream and another against the Yellowstone super-volcano (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2182631968466437&id=100001589654713). On the surface, these appear to be the work of madmen, Eidman continues; but a closer examination suggests a different conclusion. The chief sponsor of the online military industry journal is Igor Ashurbeyli, a successful businessman who has been accused of all kinds of murders and even as a man in the employ of foreign intelligence services. Anyone with that kind of record would be in jail, if he did not have serious protection from the highest levels. And in Russia, that kind of protection can be provided “only by the Chekist” regime. And so instead of being in legal jeopardy, Ashurbeyli is “flourishing” and his handiwork attention. Is Ashurbeyli threatening the US because he is a convinced “Stalinist hurrah patriot”? No, Eidman says. “Yes, he is a patriot but not of Russia. He has his own country. It is called Asgardiya and it is located in outer space.” That “state” was set up in October 2016 by Ashurbeyli who serves as its “king” and enrolls “citizens” from around the world. Is this an indication that he has “gone mad”? Not at all. Rather “he like the authors of his journal are only pretending to be” because “this Asgardia is an ideal cover for the world of Russia’s special services who very much want not to be taken seriously and to be considered silly madmen.” “Under the cover of Asgardia,” Eidman continues, they can “openly establish contacts, collect information, launch satellites, and recruit agents under the guise of recruiting new citizens into a virtual space state.” And it is from this perspective that one must understand the articles he and his journal publish. They are clearly designed, the Russian sociologist and commentator says, “to frighten the Western world with nuclear catastrophe and to force its leaders to make concessions to ‘the mad Russians,’ who are ready to bury the whole world in the flames of a nuclear conflagration.” In another post Eidman explains why Moscow has to make use of this kind of threat: it doesn’t have the forces to back it up in a serious way. The current trend in Moscow is not “guns instead of butter” but rather about television reports “about mythical undefeatable rockets instead of butter” (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2183510031711964&id=100001589654713). All of the successes in Putin’s world are fake,” he continues. “Not only concerning well-being but even the sabre rattling is fake. What’s on television has completely replaced reality. And post-modernist militarism makes its move that way.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Markov Says Russian Counterpart of ‘Deep State’ Misinforming Putin to Make Him Look Bad

Paul Goble Staunton, December 30 – In another example of convergence of a new kind, Sergey Markov says that “deep structures” are continuing their hybrid war against Vladimir Putin, intentionally “disinforming him so that he will look inadequate” and allow the Western backers of these structures to weaken him and Russia. According to the pro-Kremlin commentator, “the positions of pro-Western liberals has been strengthened,” while at the same time “there has been a degradation of administrative governance.” That was highlighted by the case of Rosstat’s completely inadequate statistics that Putin used in his press conference (newizv.ru/news/politics/27-12-2018/sergey-markov-ob-itogah-goda-vo-vlasti-ukrepilis-pozitsii-liberalov). “After the press conference,” Markov says, “the president met with Medvedev and publicly in front of the cameras expressed his dissatisfaction. Soon after that the leader of Rosstat was replaced. All this means the recognition of Vladimir Putin that he is being misinformed about the state of affairs in the socio-economic sphere.” “I am not certain,” the commentator continues, “that this is a purely administrative mistake and that there is no political component to it and that around the president is not forming a special disinformation cocoon, so that he will not know about the real situation in the country” and appear out of touch and make mistakes. Over the last year, Markov points out, Putin has become less active; and “the patriotic part of civil society, which forms the majority is gradually losing its trust in the president because it doesn’t see the achievement of its hopes and demands especially regarding pension reform, enormous corruption at the regional level, and so on.” There has also been both “the continuing formation of a corps of bureaucratic loyalists who will support any zigzags of the powers” and of protest attitudes in the population, although at present there is no one who could lead any really serious protest against the Putin regime, Markov says. He suggests that “the election of 2019 will have an existential character. If several additional mistakes are made, Putin’s rating will fall still lower; and after this will begin ‘a perfect storm,’ one in which the West will begin an attack on all fronts with the goal of overthrowing” the Kremlin leader.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putinism is 21st Century Fascism with Nuclear Weapons, Yakovenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 30 – Putin’s Russia manifests in one way or another all of the 14 signs of “eternal fascism” Umberto Eco has outlined, “from the cult of tradition, the rejection of modernism, and reliance on historical traumas to the ideas of international and domestic conspiracy, and a cult of death,” according to Igor Yakovenko. But it is distinctive from 20th century models of fascist regimes in “about 20 ways,” the Russian commentator said in a December 26 talk to the Parnas Political University in Moscow, of which seven are the most important (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5C27592F3D167). They include the following:

  1. The absence of ideology and as a result the absence of propaganda. “The Putin media are not only not journalism but also not propaganda … They are weapons of an information war. They do not disseminate information and ideas: their product is feelings and emotions, including hatred, anger, and aversion to the West, Ukraine and the opposition. And love for Putin.”
  2. It is parasitic on the West. Putinism relies on economic and technological resources created by the West. That makes it very different from the USSR or Nazi Germany, “Parasitic fascism” does not have plans for “the seizure of the planet.” Were it to do so, Yakovenko argues, it would immediately “die” as a system.
  3. It uses ‘spider’ wars which seek to exhaust opponents by spider-like attacks on its neighbors and the destruction of its opponents from the inside. All of Putin’s wars “bear a ‘spider’ character.” That is, they seek to kill the organism they are attacking and then consume it once it is dead.
  4. Lies are the foundation of the regime and information forces are the most important weapons it has. In the fascist regimes of the 20th centuries, military force was predominant and propaganda played a supportive role. In Putin’s regime, the reverse is true.
  5. Putin’s fascism bears “a fake character.” It professes to be anti-Western but its “children and money are in the West;” and it claims to be a democracy but in fact is the most brutal of dictatorships. The Stalinist and Hitlerite elites also lived “not in complete correspondence with their ideologies, but the Putin elite lives by rules which directly oppose those it declares as the norms for the population.” It is thus, to use Yekaterina Schulmann’s, term, “’a reverse cargo cult.’”
  6. Putinism in contrast to 20th century fascism seeks the unlimited enrichment of its elites, either via corruption or economic machinations.
  7. Putinism is fascism with nuclear weapons, which makes it more dangerous because it is in a position, however weak otherwise, to inflict unacceptable damage on its opponents.

According to Yakovenko, the Putin regime will inevitably lose because it is fascist “and fascism always loses.” Putin himself has accelerated this process by destroying the previous social contract with the population, by breaking the agreement with the elite for wealth in return for loyalty, and by destroying cooperation with the West via aggression.

Four categories of people oppose the Putin regime: the politically active emigres, the supporters of street protests, the supporters of elections, and those who cooperate up to a point with the regime but ultimately oppose it like Kudrin.

Unfortunately, for success, they need to cooperate but each of them dislikes the others more than it dislikes the Putin regime.

That makes the direct cooperation of the four “impossible,” Yakovenko says. But success may come if they appreciate the need for all four, and each acts so as to not interfere with the others even if it can’t cooperate with them. That is a real possibility if all understand what they are up against, the commentator concludes.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Because of Putin, 2019 will Be a Repeat of 1939, Muzhdabayev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, December 31 – No one should be confused by the calendar, Crimean Tatar commentator Ayder Muzhdabayev says. The coming year will be a reprise of the horrors of 1939 because Vladimir Putin will move to absorb Belarus, expand his war against Ukraine, and use terrorist acts to promote a Russian presence in the Baltic region. “The Anschluss of Belarus is not simply inevitable; for Fuehrer Putin it is a requirement,” he continues. “That is the logic of any Reich, and the Russian one is no exception. There was Austria; here is Belarus. All is clear, explicit and logical. The long ago programmed Anschluss is occurring now before our eyes” (gordonua.com/blogs/muzhdabaev/-anshlyus-belarusi-ne-prosto-neizbezhen-a-dlya-fyurera-putina-obyazatelen-623823.html). Soon, Muzhdabayev says, “everything will become clear: a common hymn, coat of arms, flag, and president (tsar)” in addition to “the common borders and common security and intelligence institutions which already exist.” For Putin, the Belarusians don’t exist as a separate people just as for Hitler, the Austrians did not. And those who fail to see the direction Putin is driving toward and who believe that Lukashenka will resist completely fail to see that the Russian “fuehrer needs ‘a reborn Union’ as air; this was always clear; but with the annexation of Crimea, it became a100 percent certainty,” Muzhdabayev says. Those who are paying attention certainly recognize that the recent release of a Levada Center poll showing 66 percent of Russians as nostalgic for the USSR was “no accident.” It sent exactly the message that the Kremlin wants sent. And there is another compelling reason for assuming that things will continue to deteriorate, the commentator continues. As close analysts of Russia should know, “always predict the worse and you’ll be right. This rule has never failed me,” Muzhdabayev says. And things aren’t going to end with Belarus. Putin will seek a Russian military presence in the Baltic Sea to “defend” North Stream 1 and he will expand his military actions against Ukraine. At the present time, “Ukraine is the only country which is seriously opposing the Reich.” It must continue its build up and not think that it will avoid a major war. For Ukraine, because of Russia, “war is inevitable and obligatory. If we will resist, the West will be forced to help us and itself. Otherwise it won’t wake up” until it is too late, Muzhdabayev says. Ukraine can’t avoid this war and should focus on building up its strength, sacrificing anything that gets in the way of defeating the invader. “Martial law should not be dropped but made tougher, elections should be held only if the entire military-political situation is under control. If it isn’t, then elections should be sacrificed. The country and each and every one of us must survive.” Everything else is secondary in the battle against the Russian Reich. Ukraine’s “enemy is unprincipled, tactically unpredictable and treacherous,” Muzhdabayev says. “It won’t give us any excuses. Therefore, we must be prepared for everything, on both the real and hybrid front.” And we must remember that the year ahead will be more like 1939 than any recent one.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Two Views on Belarusians and a Russian Anschluss Both of Which May Be Correct

Paul Goble Staunton, December 31 – Most of the discussion about the possibility that Vladimir Putin will seek to annex Belarus to provide him with a position as head of a new union state that will allow him to remain in power for life and reaffirm the existence of his “Russian world” have focused on the high politics of the situation. But what may ultimately prove to be the determining factor will be the reaction of the Belarusian people whose relationship with Russia and the Russian nation is complicated. Two Belarusian commentators provide diametrically opposed views on how Belarusians may react – and it is entirely possible that both might prove true. One suggests that many Belarusians accept Putin’s notion that Russians and Belarusians are one nation and won’t resist any Russian move, while another argues that there are a large number of Belarusians who are fully prepared to go into the woods and conduct a partisan war against any Russian occupiers. Svetlana Kalinkina, a Belarusian opposition journalist and commentator, says that the danger Belarus now faces “is not in the plans of Putin but in the fact that in Belarus itself there are a sufficient number of people who think he is right” (belsat.eu/ru/programs/kalinkina-opasnost-ne-v-planah-putina-a-v-tom-chto-v-belarusi-dostatochno-lyudej-kotorye-schitayut-chto-on-prav/). That isn’t something new, she continues, but rather the result of “the errors of all 25 years of Lukashenka’s presidency. It is a mistake to say that Belarusians and Russians are one people, that we are brothers, and that we cannot live without one another. But our people are trusting, not into conflict, listen to this and as a result we have a situation when even those opposed to Lukashenka today love Putin.” “And today,” Kalinkina continues, it seems to many that Belarusians feel that they need money and therefore need Russia, and they are prepared to believe that we are “one people.” “If the Kremlin knew that Belarus would rise as one against them,” she says, it wouldn’t even be talking about an Anschluss. But according to Nikolay Statkevich, a leader of the Belarusian National Congress, that is exactly what the Belarusians would do, thus guaranteeing that Belarus would not be “a second Crimea” but rather “a second Afghanistan” in which the Russians would suffer serious losses and then be forced to withdraw (charter97.org/ru/news/2018/12/31/318394/). “I do not think that Belarus will be swallowed up,” he says, because Belarusians overwhelmingly value independence – 90 to 95 percent do – and they recognize that Lukashenka has been selling them off piecemeal. If the Belarusian dictator tries to sell them off wholesale, they will go into the streets in opposition – and not just into the streets. According to polls, Statkevich says, one million Belarusians are prepared to defend their country’s independence with arms in their hands. They can look back on a 500-year-long tradition of partisan wars. As a result, if Putin and Lukashenka try something, they won’t get “a second Crimea” but rather “a second Afghanistan.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Stalin’s NKVD Burned Alive 705 Chechens It Couldn’t Easily Deport

Paul Goble Staunton, December 30 – Thirty-five years ago, the late Abdurakhman Avtorkhanov told the author of these lines that the Soviets had done far worse things that the drowning of the residents of four Crimean Tatar villages that the NKVD had missed in its initial sweep (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/12/moscow-puts-book-by-avtorkhanov-on.html). I had asked him during his visit to the US State Department about a case, disputed by many but later confirmed by Russian historians, that NKVD officers fearing they would suffer themselves if they reported that they had failed to round up all the Crimean Tatars when Stalin ordered their deportation. The Chechen historian’s response almost certainly refers to a case in Chechnya documented by the Podvig Center in 1990 in which Stalin’s officers rounded up 705 residents – men, women and children – in a stables in the village of Khaybek in the mountains and then burned them alive. This heinous crime against humanity first came to broader attention when Stepan Kashurko, a journalist during World War II wanted to track down the relatives of a Chechen soldier who had died a hero in the fighting against the Germans. The Chechen carried letters showing he was from Khaybek (1917.com/International/Chechnya/1079982443.html). Kashurko visited Grozny and was told that Khaybek had existed before the war but existed no more. Because everything was secret, officials could not or would not tell him anything more. Doku Zavgayev, the first secretary of the Grozny obkom, however, did say, “that ‘they burned people during the deportation.’” The journalist says he returned to Moscow and sought archival documents in Gorbachev’s time. The Soviet president gave him permission to investigate further and so Kashurko returned to Chechnya and ultimately visited were Khaybek had once been to seek witnesses. There he was asked to head a special commission on the Khaybek genocide. He found two witnesses who described what the Soviets had done and how Beria had taken part in a celebratory dinner in Grozny while the people were being burned to death in Khaybek. At 11:00 pm, Beria even telephoned Stalin: “the expulsions are taking place normally, There is nothing requiring your attention.” Appropriately, the stables where the 705 Khaybek residents were murdered was named for Beria. Later in 1990, local officials opened a criminal case against the NKVD commanders. But they weren’t able to move the case forward. There was too much Russian resistance, and then there was the Russian invasion of Chechnya.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Puts Book by Avtorkhanov on Extremist List

A decade before that event as a graduate student at the University of Chicago, I prepared a seminar paper on Stalin’s deportation of the Crimean Tatars and other nations during World War II. In the course of preparing it, I read the 1958 volume of the Institute for the Study of the USSR entitled Genocide in the USSR as well as Avtorkhanov’ss 1952 classic, Narodoubisstvo v SSR. The latter title is usually translated as genocide in the USSR, but Avtorkhanov told me that it had a far broader meaning and was better translated as “killing people.” In my paper, I referred to the NKVD’s effort to hide the fact that it had missed four Crimean Tatar villages by loading every man, woman and child in them into garbage scows and taking htem out into the Black Sea before bludgeoning them to death. My professor, one of the leading Sovietologists of the time, said that as bad as the Soviets were, they wouldn’t have done that. He was wrong as Avtorkhanov confirmed to me in our conversations in June 1983 – and as the archives showed after they were opened at the end of Soviet times. In fact, as the great Chechen leader said, Moscow’s minions have done far worse. In the 35 years since that time, I’ve never forgotten those words about the evil the Soviet system represented. They stayed with me every day of my career at the State Department, Radio Free Europe, the Voice of America, and now in retirement as a blogger at Window on Eurasia. Indeed, I am proud to call myself his students and can say that in many ways I owe my career to Avtorkhanov, both his books and his remarks.

UN Special Debate On Ukraine Scheduled For February 2019 – To Inform is to Influence

Ukraine pushed the UN to hold a discussion regarding Russia in the UN, it scheduled the meeting for February 2019.  This is the fifth anniversary of the Russian invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea. Ukraine recently pushed for a resolution damning Russia for its behavior in the Black Sea and the militarization of the Sea…

Information Indicators Of A Russian Attack – To Inform is to Influence

Russia has historically displayed key indicators prior to offensive actions.  I will walk through a few of them, expanding on some. Overall, the Russian government will use information warfare as a part of a national strategy of attacking and dividing Ukraine and forestalling Western alliances. Russian hybrid warfare will include a whole-of-nation attack on Ukraine,…

Editorial Board | Is Russia about to invade Ukraine again? That may depend on Trump. – The Washington Post

The president should make clear to Moscow that any aggression would trigger a strong response.

Whether Russia invades Ukraine could depend on Trump – media | UNIAN

Five weeks since Russia assaulted Ukrainian Navy ships that were passing through international waters near the occupied Crimean Peninsula, its forces have massed near Crimea’s border with eastern Ukraine, prompting warnings from the Ukrainian government as well as independent observers that the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin may be planning a new attack on the country. Putin may believe that Trump, who lately has been loudly repudiating a U.S. role as “the policeman of the world,” is in no mood to defend a remote piece of Ukraine from Russian tanks, journalists suggest.

Russia preparing provocation in Donbas using chemical weapons to discredit Ukraine internationally

Russia has been preparing an act of provocation in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, with the use of chemical weapons in order to accuse the Ukrainian military, a representative of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s intelligence directorate has said. Russia has been preparing an act of provocation in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, with the use of chemical weapons in order to accuse the Ukrainian military, a representative of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry’s intelligence directorate has said. “At present, the [Ukrainian] military intelligence has seen a number of signs indicating that Russia has been preparing an act of sabotage and terror with the use of chemical toxic substances… In the middle of December, a group of Russian specialists in chemical, military and toxic substances arrived in Donbas. The group included Russian special services agents and agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB),” Defense Department intelligence directorate representative Vadym Skybytsky said at a briefing in Kyiv on Saturday, December 29. According to him, the Russian Federation wants to make use of Donbas-based enterprises with hazardous production, in particular, where stocks of toxic substances (chlorine and ammonia) are stored. The use of chemical weapons can be facilitated by weather conditions, which strengthen their toxicity, in particular, chlorine. Skybytsky said the occupation forces in Donbas have been preparing for operations under conditions of chemical contamination. Chemical protective clothing and equipment for Russia-led armed formations have been imported from Russia. “At the same time, the Russian special services are cynically counting on large-scale civilian casualties, which will ensure a certain response and attention from the international community,” Skybytsky said, adding the disaster would be presented by Russian propagandists as the use of chemical weapons by Ukrainian armed forces against the residents of Donbas. Russia is trying to use its entire arsenal of information and political propaganda to discredit Ukraine before the international community, Skybytsky said. He said a similar scheme had been used by Russia before a chemical attack in the Aleppo area in Syria.

About 53,000 Russian troops remain near borders of Ukraine – Defense Ministry

At the end of December 2018, the Russian Federation continues to increase its presence near the borders of Ukraine, deploying about 53,000 troops there. — Ukrinform

The Royal Navy Sent a Message to Russia in the Black Sea (And It Was Pretty Weak) | The National Interest

The ship the British Royal Navy deployed to the Black Sea in order to send a message to Russia lacks heavy weaponry and could not defend itself from intensive attack.

“New Year truce” in Donbas: Ukraine forces come under fire, two WIAs reported | UNIAN

On December 30, Russian proxy forces in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas twice violated the ceasefire, the press center of the Joint Forces Operation reported on Facebook. According to Ukrainian intelligence, three militants were killed in action over the past 24 hours.

UAWire – Head of Crimea wants to send seized Ukrainian oil rigs to Syria

In an interview with Radio Krym (Crimea), Russian head of Crimea Sergei Aksenov said that he is considering the possibility of sending to Syria …

UAWire – Crimea exported 200 thousand tons of grain to Syria and Russia

The Crimean Minister of Agriculture, Andrey Ryumshin stated, that in 2018, 200 thousand tons of grain were exported from Crimea to Syria and …

Occupants in Crimea connect Kerch and Simferopol with highway – 112.international

Federal ‘Tavrida’ highway started functioning in the occupied Crimea, it connected the Kerch Strait and Simferopol, TASS reports. On December 31, the 70-kilometer highway between Kerch and Batalne village near Feodosia was commissioned. Thus, the drivers can now use two-lane motorway of 190 kilometers long from Kerch to Simferopol. The route is being built to Sevastopol, its total length will be 280 km. The completion of the construction scheduled for December 2020. At the same time, they are broadening the road, it will become four-lane highway with time. The speed limit on the open area of the ‘Tavrida’ is set to 60 km/h. Two years after setting the road into operation, the maximum speed rate on the section from Kerch to Sevastopol will 90 km/h. The highway construction was initiated in 2017, the Russian Federation allocated two billion dollars from the budget for it.

Ukraine to submit interstate application to ECHR, seeking release of sailors captured by Russia | UNIAN

Ukraine is going to submit a full-fledged interstate application to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) demanding the release of Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia. January 7 is the deadline for submitting the application.

All 24 Ukrainian Sailors Held Hostage In Moscow Declare Themselves POWs, KPHG Gives Mail Address For Letter Of Support – To Inform is to Influence

The Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KPHG) has highlighted the plight of the 24 sailors held hostage in Moscow as a result of the Kerch Straits incident. The KPHG presented the facts behind the incident, disclosed that some of the sailors are being illegally tortured to extract illegal confessions, and demanded their release.  German Chancellor…

Ukrainian Navy increasing grouping in Sea of Azov | UNIAN

In response to Russia’s aggressive activities, Ukraine Navy deployed new forces, systematically increasing its grouping in the Sea of ​​Azov, that’s according to a Navy Commander, Admiral Ihor Voronchenko. In 2018, the Ukrainian Navy increased the combat capabilities of its maritime, coastal, and air components.

“New Year truce”: Ukraine reports two WIAs amid four enemy attacks in Donbas | UNIAN

Russian-led forces mounted four attacks on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas in the past 24 hours, with two Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action (WIA). Two enemy troops were killed and another three were wounded, intelligence reports say.

Russian-led forces near Luhansk massing weapons, conducting live-fire drills – Ukraine in JCCC – To Inform is to Influence

I am unsure if there is more reporting because of increased sensitivity to a possible Russian attack, or if there is increased activity by the Russian military.  Either way, we are seeing Russia showing – portraying the appearance of preparation for an impending attack on Ukraine.  The problem I have with this report is 40…

Ukraine “testing ground” for Russian military psy-ops unit | UNIAN

Unit 54777, or the 72nd Special Service Center, is the center of the Russian military’s psychological-warfare capability, say Western intelligence officials. The unit also is known for posing as a CyberCaliphate hacking outfit “supporting the Islamic State.”

Coast Guard will buy patrol boats of French design

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in 2019 will propose to the Cabinet of Ministers a project to produce, together with a French company, about 20 boats to strengthen the protection of the country’s maritime borders. Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov told Interfax-Ukraine in an interview, the website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs According to Arsen Avakov, the Interior Ministry intends to completely rebuild the system of control and protection of maritime borders. “Our ship parks have not been updated for decades. Therefore, in 2019, we will propose to the Government a project similar to a helicopter to radically resolve the issue of the presence of our border ships, “Arsen Avakov said. The head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs noted that it is a question of modern boats of 32-35 meters that will be produced at one of the Ukrainian factories in cooperation with the French side, but “with a high degree of project localization in Ukraine.” Now in the Marine Guard of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine in this class of craft there are 1400M “Grif” boats, which were built about 30 years ago. Previously, they were supposed to be replaced by patrol boats of project 58130 (Orlan code). Their construction was started at the Feodosia plant “Sea”, and one boat – BG200 “Balaklava” was transferred to the Crimean occupation of the Marine Security Department of the State Tax Administration.

During the tests of the “Polozheniya-2” DAC, formed the acoustic databases of Russian weapons are being produced

Now testing of the reconnaissance automated sound-acoustic complex 1AR1 “Polozheniya-2” is underway. This is on the air of the “Line of Defense” program, said Director of Defense Express Serhiy Zhoretz . According to him, this product of Lvov’s enterprise “Lorta” got rid of Russian components. Instead, they got smarter and more sensitive microphones. According to the expert’s information, the formation of acoustic databases for each model of an armament of the enemy is under way. Sergiy Zhuretz explained the key difference between the principle of the Ukrainian “Polozheniya-2” complex from the US counterbalanced radar station provided by the United States. Since the “Polozheniya-2” works on the acoustic passive principle, it is virtually impossible to detect them. Instead, the enemy has the ability to hunt for radar stations and try to detect and destroy them. “If we put these” Polozheniya-2 “systems on the front, then in the passive mode we can clearly determine the enemy’s artillery, even in a completely hidden mode”, – S. Zgurets stated.

UAWire – Ukrainian Army plans to buy up to 20 types of new weapons

Ukraine Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak stated that Kyiv will purchase up to 20 types of new weapons for the country’s army. He emphasized that …

UAWire – Kyiv: Ukraine to test new models of weapons in 2019

The Ukrainian government’s press service reported on Sunday, December 30th, that Ukraine would test new weapons in 2019. It is noted that testing of the Ukraine-made man-portable air defense missile system (MANPADS) Kolibri (Hummingbird) will begin. Also, next year, Ukrainian weapon makers will complete development and start government testing of the Neptun ground-based cruise missile systems which is capable of striking distant targets at sea. “This weapon will be high-precision, modern and meeting NATO standards,” reads the message. In early December, the Neptun missile passed successful tests in the Odessa region. The missile hit a target at a distance of 280 kilometers. Earlier, the Ukrainian Armed Forces tested a new Ukrainian mortar complex Bars.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense to increase batch of purchase of new weapons in 2019 – Ministry of Defense plans to increase acquisition of new weaponry in 2019 – 112.international

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense to increase batch of purchase of new weapons in 2019

President’s New Year Address — Official website of the President of Ukraine

Fellow Ukrainians! A moment later and the chronicle of the year 2018 will be left in the archive of the Ukrainian history. It has a special place there. Near 1991, when our state independence was declared. On December 15 here, on St. Sophia, the Unity Council was held. Thousands of people convened on the square and were not ashamed of tears. And those were tears of joy. At last, the Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine recognized by the world Orthodoxy was born. The struggle for the independence of our church lasted for hundreds of years it is only now that we have succeeded. This is a true miracle! It is a sign of God that we, Ukrainians, will all be fine. Shortly, along with the good news of the birth of the Savior, Ukraine will receive the long-awaited Tomos – a charter from the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It will document our spiritual independence. We have become further from Moscow and closer to Europe. This is a clear strategy that has been steadfastly followed over the past five years. We go our own way. Neither promises of manna from heaven, nor grain of despondency, nor potion of discord – nothing should turn us back. “The power of the people lies in the unity, God, give us the unity,” – I would like these words to become the motto of the next year for the authorities, society and every citizen. Especially since the year 2019 is the 100th anniversary of the Zluky Act, the centennial of our unity. We do not want anything more than peace. And no one wants peace more than we do. So, on behalf of you, let me congratulate, first of all, Ukrainian soldiers. They guarantee us peace and quiet on this New Year’s Eve. Let the seamen captured by Russians also feel our gratitude and the warmth of our hearts. And wounded among them – Andriy Eyder, Vasyl Soroka, Andriy Artemenko. And Ukrainian political prisoners in Russian prisons. And our citizens who became hostages in the temporarily occupied territories. I appeal to millions of Ukrainians in Crimea and on the other side of Donbas. We will definitely return to you with peace, no matter how long it may take. Our family will surely reunite at one table, at which the New Year is met by Kyiv time. Fellow Ukrainians! The hardest thing has already passed, and the worst is also behind. The gradual growth of the economy and the restoration of living standards are ahead. This is the result of our common, hard work. The main thing is not to trample the sprouts of development, gained at the cost of great sacrifices and enormous efforts of each of you, in the electoral race. Then we will surely win. I wish you all happy New Year! May our destiny stand with us! Glory to Ukraine!

“We have persevered and become stronger”: Poroshenko sums up results of 2018 | UNIAN

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has published on his Facebook page a video clip with fragments of his speeches on issues of national security and the unified Ukrainian church, summing up the results of 2018. The outgoing year was extremely important and eventful for Ukraine, the president notes. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has published on his Facebook page a video clip with fragments of his speeches on issues of national security and the unified Ukrainian church, summing up the results of 2018. “The year 2018 became extremely important and eventful for Ukraine. In particular, the unified local Orthodox Church of Ukraine was created, while we continued strengthening our army and strengthening international support for Ukraine. The ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ slogan became the official greeting of our military,” the head of state wrote.

President: Ukraine is grateful to Moldova for supporting our sovereignty and territorial integrity — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President Petro Poroshenko at the opening of the joint Ukrainian-Moldovan checkpoint Palanca-Mayaky-Udobne together with Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova Pavel Filip noted the support for Ukraine by the Moldovan side in our struggle to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state.

The unity of the positions of Ukraine and Moldova will prevent the Kremlin’s plans to influence the electoral processes of the two countries in 2019 – President Petro Poroshenko — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President Petro Poroshenko stresses that Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova are on the eve of important elections to be held in the countries in 2019. However, unfortunately, Russia has already begun implementing its scenario of direct interference in the electoral processes of both states.

President of Ukraine and Prime Minister of Moldova opened a common border crossing point: This will reduce time for border crossing and become an efficient tool for struggle against corruption and smuggling — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister of Moldova Pavel Filip took part in the opening of the common Ukraine-Moldova border crossing point “Palanca-Mayaky-Udobne”.

In Odesa, President examined the dormitory for the sailors-contractors of the Naval Forces, including those captured by Russia — Official website of the President of Ukraine

Petro Poroshenko separately appealed to Ukrainian seamen captured by Russia.

UAWire – Austrian Chancellor: Lifting of sanctions against Russia must be linked with the resolution of the situation in Donbas

In an interview with the Rheinische Post, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said that the gradual lifting of sanctions against Russia should be …

Presidential Campaign Kicks Off In Ukraine

Three months before votes are due to be cast, the Ukrainian presidential campaign has officially kicked off.

Actor Volodymyr Zelenskiy Says He’ll Run For Ukrainian Presidency

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, a leading Ukrainian actor and comedian, has ended months of speculation by announcing he will run in the country’s upcoming presidential election.

Russia prolongs restrictions on transit of goods from Ukraine to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan | UNIAN

Russia extended for another six months a set of restrictions on the transit of products from Ukraine to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. President Putin has signed a corresponding decree.

Ukrzaliznytsia to launch 30 General Electric locomotives in 2019 – 112.international

Ukrzaliznytsia company (Ukrainian Railways) will launch 30 locomotives of General Electric toward south and east in 2019 as Prime Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman reported on Facebook. “We launch three dozens of new locomotives made by General Electric in 2019. They will work at the rail routes in the east and south of the country. The further modernization of the railway and construction of the modern road corridors are ahead,” Groysman reported. Earlier Ukrzaliznytsia received eight new locomotives produced by General Electric enterprise. Last year, the transport capacity of the company on this particular route was only 12-14 trains; now that Ukraine got the new locomotives, Ukrzaliznytsia will be able to use up to 24 trains on this route.

UAWire – Ukrainian Interior Minister agrees to be questioned by the Russian Prosecutor’s Office in exchange for the extradition of Yanukovych

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said he is ready to be questioned in the case of alleged interference in the Russian presidential

 

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