Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (70)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Whelan abduction by FSB remains the leading Russia topic in Western media – hostages have always been a media favorite. We can expect the Russian play will emulate that conducted with Ukraine – try to extract maximum publicity and concessions from the crime, as the Sovs did decades ago. Forecasts and retrospectives. Many Russian analysts suspect the Magnitogorsk building explosion was terrorism, either by Islamic militants, or the FSB, or its contractors or proxies.

Excellent Radio Liberty interview by Amb John Herbst, on likely US support for Ukraine (that includes Harpoon ASCMs and other goodies), and a no less interesting Military Times interview by LtGen Hodges, backgrounding the conflict. Amb Chaly on US aid. VOA and Newsweek on the risks of a full-scale invasion. Updates on Donbas, Crimea, and domestic and foreign politics.

A reasonably accurate retrospective by Shvarts on the progress in rearming the AFU through 2018, and planning for 2019. UkrOboronProm on the 50 repaired / refurbished / upgraded aircraft delivered in 2018, noting that progress with fast jets has not improved against previous years due to no major effort to expand depot capacity. Pivdenmash introduces new Western supplied manufacturing plant.


US Ambassador Meets With American Held in Russia 

Access granted just hours after demand from US secretary of state

Detained American Paul Whelan met with U.S. ambassador to Russia

The Trump administration will demand Paul Whelan’s release if the charges against him are unfounded, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday.

U.S. Expects Quick Access To Ex-Marine Arrested In Russia On Spy Charges

The United States says it expects to soon get access to the American arrested on suspicion of espionage in Russia and will demand his immediate return if his detention is inappropriate.

Brother of American arrested in Russia on spying charges says he was there for a wedding

Paul Whelan, a retired Marine, was arrested in Moscow on Friday. The Russian Federal Security Service said Whelan was caught “during an espionage operation,” but gave no details.

Family of Paul Whelan, American detained in Russia for alleged spying, ‘deeply concerned for his safety’ – ABC News

Paul Whelan was in Moscow to attend a wedding when he was detained, his family said.

Family Says Detained U.S. Citizen Is Innocent, Was In Moscow For Wedding

The family of a U.S. citizen being held by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) over suspected spying says he is innocent and was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

Meet Putin’s American Prisoner, Paul Whelan

Paul Whelan was arrested in Moscow, where his family says he was attending a wedding.

International Spy? Or Just A Guy At A Wedding In Moscow?

Said to be in town for a colleague’s wedding, a former U.S. Marine picked up in Moscow now faces espionage charges, 20 years in prison.

Russia Expert Says Retired Marine Paul Whelan Was Arrested ‘As Leverage’ for Maria Butina – To Inform is to Influence

Russia is being pummeled about the head and shoulders… For illegally seizing Crimea For illegally doping in sports For the Kerch Straits For Donbas For South Ossetia For Abkhazia For Belarus For Hungary For Czech Republic For aggressive behavior everywhere For shooting down MH-17 For killing 298 people on MH-17 For killing over 10,000 people…

The World Cup was the only thing that mattered to Putin – CNN

Vladimir Putin had a good 2018. In March, the Russian President sailed to a re-election victory, winning a fourth term by a handsome margin. But the main event of the year for Putin was not overtly political.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Words and Phrases that Defined Russia in 2018

Paul Goble Staunton, January 1 – A country is defined at any point of time by the words and phrases, new or newly prominent, that its people use far more than they have in the past. Russia is no exception, and over the past year, the people of that country used a number of words and phrases they had not done so as much in the past and that say a lot about them and their land. The editors of the Sobkorr portal have compiled a list of old words newly prominent, new words, and phrases that Russians employed in 2018 and that at least some of them will associate with that year in the future. As such, they merit attention by all who are seeking to understand where Russians and Russia now are (sobkorr.org/infopovod/5C29E3F2E205C.html). Some of the following have self-evident meaning; others require some specific definition or at least context. Among the words of 2018 are: Salisbury – an English city where on March 4 former GRU agent Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned. Protest with No Defined End – a reference to protests in which several people continue to protest after the official endpoint is passed. Novichok – the nerve agent that was used against Skripal and his daughter. Harassment and Hare, a reference to a deputy who attempted quite unsuccessfully to escape charges of harassment. Autocephaly Telegram – a kind of online messenger that has gained in popularity ever since Roskomnadzor tried to ban it. Mundial – the word used for the world football championship Pension – an old word that took on new meaning when Putin raised the pension age. Repost – a normal Internet term that has acquired special meaning in Russia because people may be subject to legal sanctions for doing. Among the phrases of the last year are: “To live to get one’s pension” – a phrase that became widely used when Russians discovered that a large percentage of them won’t live to the new older pension ages and so won’t ever collect pensions. “The Salisbury spire” – a phrase that took on new meaning when those accused of poisoning the Skripals said they had only gone to that English city to see the cathedral. “Macaroni always costs the same” – a phrase that went viral after Saratov minister Natalya Sokolova suggests Russians could get by on 3500 rubles (50 US dollars) a month if they were careful. “The government didn’t ask you to give birth” – words that were uttered by Urals official Olga Glatskikh and that have become an emblem of the Putin regime’s indifference to the state in which Russians are living. “The not unknown Kant” – an expression which caught on after a Russian admiral dismissed the German philosopher as someone who had written some books no one understands and which sailors “do not read and never will read.” “Naming something for someone who is still alive is a bad idea” – the explanation for Moscow’s decision to allow airports to be renamed only for those long dead. “The concert has been cancelled” – a phrase that also went viral after the authorities cancelled several concerts by popular musicians. “You want things to be like in Paris” – Vladimir Putin’s query about those who oppose his more repressive moves, the only thing he suggests that stands between Russians and the chaos of the Parisian streets. “We will be in paradise, but they will simply be incinerated” – another Putin phrase on what will happen to Russians, on the one hand, and everyone else, on the other, in the event of a nuclear war.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: 19 Events — Almost Certain to Occur — Russians Will Be Talking About in 2019

Paul Goble Staunton, January 1 – The events likely to be the most important in the coming year are likely to be things no one can predict accurately or with any degree of confidence, including the passing of leaders, the start of new wars, and developments that in and of themselves seem minor but nonetheless lead to radical transformations. But there are events that are almost certain to occur, either because they are already scheduled or because people have been working on them for some time and slated to be completed in 2019. And it is worth taking note of these as a kind of checklist for developments that other and perhaps more dramatic ones will take place Komsomolskaya Pravda journalist Aleksy Ivanov provides a useful list of what he describes as “The 19 Main Events of 2019 which Russians Will be Talking About” (kp.ru/daily/26927.3/3975198/). Listed by date, they include the following: 1. The controversial pension reform will go into effect on January 1. 2. Trash collection will become a consumer-financed communal service also on January 1. 3. The 75th anniversary of the lifting of the blockade of Leningrad will take place on January 27. 4. Russia will gradually make the transition from analogue to digital television between February and June. 5. Russia will release its very off elite off-road vehicle sometime in February or March. 6. The Winter Universiada World Games will take place in Krasnoyarsk March 2-12. 7. Verdicts will be handed down in the case of the two former football players held guilty of violating rules sometime in the first half of the year. 8. Presidential elections will take place in Ukraine on March 31. 9. Vladimir Putin will go to China in April. 10. A new blockbuster film about the Soviet war in Afghanistan is to be released on May 9. 11. As of July 1, contractors won’t be able to collect money from those who are purchasing apartments until the housing is ready. 12. A new arms race will begin when the US formally pulls out of the short and intermediate range rocket accord in August. 13. New license plates, which will tell more about who owns them, will be distributed on August 4. 14. The 2019 WorldSkills Competition will take place in Kazan August 22-27. 15. St. Petersburg will elect a new governor on September 8. 16. The city of Moscow will open a new inner ring road at the end of 2019. 17. Gas pipelines to Europe and Asia will open at the end of 2019. 18. Russia will launch the most powerful icebreaker in the world by the end of 2019. 19. The rail line on the Crimea Bridge will begin operations in December.

Vladimir Putin’s Busy, Bloody, and Expensive 2019 – Defense One

Russia experts look at recent events and peer into the future.

The Biggest Nuclear Threats of 2018 Will Follow Us into the New Year – Defense One

We whistled past the graveyard this year. Let’s be smarter in 2019.

UAWire – Media: House explosion in Magnitogorsk may have been a terrorist act

The explosion and collapse of a house in Magnitogorsk, Russia, may not have been a tragic accident, but an act of terror, the Russian news outlets 74.ruand Znak.com report, citing anonymous sources. The entrance to the multi-story building collapsed on December 31, leaving 10 people dead and a further 30 missing. The following day, not far away, a Gazel shuttle exploded, killing the driver and two passengers. Boris Dubrovsky, governor of the Chelyabinsk region, said that according to provisional information, the explosion was caused by two gas cylinders in the vehicle. According to one theory, the gas equipment was faulty. According to some Russian media outlets, the authorities are investigating the possibility that this was an act of terror. Traces of RDX, a powerful explosive, were discovered in the house that collapsed. Some sources claim that the Gazel shuttle caught fire when suspected terrorists were being arrested. Law enforcement authorities reportedly shot dead three of the presumed terrorists. One of them was identified as coming from Central Asia. He was allegedly renting an apartment on the third floor of the collapsed building, and storing the explosive, which he intended to use for an act of terror in a shopping mall. According to Znak.com, the fourth terrorist managed to escape, and is now being hunted by the police. RT published a video with a burning bus and explosion-like sounds.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Was Magnitogorsk Explosion a Terrorist Act? Some Russians Think So

Paul Goble Staunton, January 2 – In the climate of suspiciousness that arises from the low information environment the Putin regime has created and the regime’s own actions in the past, it is no surprise that Russians come up with their own explanations for any event, often putting the darkest possible construction on something that may or may not merit that approach. That is what is happening now in the wake of the Magnitogorsk apartment block explosions. News agencies in the region are reporting that traces of hexogon explosive have been found in the ruins, that the center of the explosion was in an apartment on the third floor, and that this suggests the tragedy was an act of terrorism. The blowing up of a car nearby the next day has only added to such speculations (znak.com/2019-01-01/istochnik_vzryv_doma_i_chp_s_marshrutkoy_v_magnitogorske_terakty,echo.msk.ru/news/2344943-echo.htmlgraniru.org/Events/m.274543.html and echo.msk.ru/blog/v_inozemcev/2344865-echo/). Russian officials say investigators have found no traces of explosive and no reason to believe the explosion was the work of terrorists (newsru.com/russia/02jan2019/magnitogorsk.html and rbc.ru/society/02/01/2019/5c2bd4e89a7947961a60652c?from=main); but they say the investigation is continuing, statements that will likely do little to end speculations. And there is even the likelihood that some will conclude that this action was the work of the Russian government itself just as the 1999 apartment block explosions were, actions that helped boost Putin to office. Given his current low standing in the polls, those inclined in a conspiratorial direction may suggest that this action may have been planned to keep him there. That seems highly improbable, but the Kremlin leader has only himself to blame for the fact that many will suspect him of being capable even of this.

US to Boost Weapons Research in Response to Russia

Vladimir Putin said the weapon will become part of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces next year

“In 2-3 months, we will see that America provides weapons to Kiev and will announce new sanctions against Russia” – ex-ambassador to Ukraine in Ukraine

In Washington – and frank conversations are not recorded and in official interviews – admit: after the Russian attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, the reaction of the United States was not quite rigid. Why did it happen? And – most importantly – when the United States will increase sanctions against Moscow? And what is needed for this? This was in an interview with the Ukrainian service of Radio Liberty a person who has been professionally monitoring the situation for many years – the American diplomat, director of the Atlantic Council of the Atlantic Council in Washington John Herbst. He headed the US Embassy in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution (2003-2006), then the United States State Department was the coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization, in charge of helping countries that are undergoing political transformation. So, with the knowledge of the case, we can talk about future military assistance to Ukraine. – What, in your opinion, could from the very beginning be effective, to touch Moscow to live? – I think the best answer could be sanctions against the largest Russian bank or the prohibition of Russian ships to enter the US ports or ports of the EU. And giving weapons to Ukraine. That would be an adequate response. – But we are on the verge of change, right? – So. In 2-3 months, we will see that the United States is giving up arms to Kiev and will announce new sanctions against Russia in connection with this aggression. I think that in the next eight to ten, a maximum of twelve weeks, this much stronger US response will appear. And, besides sanctions, it will be military assistance to Ukraine. There are now enough arguments for providing anti-ship missiles and patrol ships, possibly with other military equipment. – That is, it’s about lethal weapons, right? Such as were “Javelin” to deter the enemy on land, but this time already for use at sea? – No questions – anti-ship missiles would help. The United States lacks the Harpoon cruise missile, which is based on the technology developed 30 years ago – and this is what we can already provide. And perhaps, much more modern missiles. – These changes are not hampered by changes in Congress, when in January Democrats will get control of the House of Representatives? – I think the support of Ukraine in the American Congress is very strong now. And it will remain at least as serious, and maybe even more intensive.

UAWire – Former US ambassador: Washington will soon provide Ukraine with more weapons

Washington could send Kyiv weapons and impose new sanctions on Russia within the next two or three months, former US ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst told Radio Liberty in an interview. “Within 2-3 months we will see the US giving Kyiv weapons and announcing new sanctions against Russia in connection with this aggression [in the Kerch Strait]. I think that, in the course of the next 8-10, or at most 12 weeks, this more forceful US response will appear. And, in addition to the sanctions, this will be military assistance for Ukraine,” he said. According to Herbst, recent developments have given the US sufficient arguments to supply Ukraine with anti-ship missiles, patrol boats and other military equipment. “The US has enough Harpoon cruise missiles, mostly the result of technologies developed 30 years ago. And this is what we can already make available now. Perhaps even more modern missiles,” the former ambassador noted. According to him, Ukraine has already done a lot to strengthen its defense in the east, and should “now think about reinforcing its defense in the south, especially in the Sea of Azov region. Perhaps even in the Odessa region”. Among the sanctions which the US could impose, Herbst mentioned restrictions on the largest Russian bank, or a ban on Russian ships entering American ports. Previously it was reported that the US would soon announce new arms shipments to Ukraine. In the 2019 financial year, Washington has allocated $250 million to military assistance to Ukraine, including lethal defensive weapons.

U.S. may impose new sanctions on Russia, arm Ukraine after Kerch – Ex-ambassador Herbst | UNIAN

Former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center John Herbst says the United States may soon impose new sanctions on Russia and arm Ukraine in response to Russian aggression in the Kerch Strait. The U.S. military assistance to Ukraine may include Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges {Interview] | Why Russia is swallowing the Black Sea and won’t stop until it has ‘choked out Ukraine’ | Military Times

It’s not going to happen in the next six months, said retired Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. But Russia’s aim is to own the Black Sea and isolate Ukraine.

Ukraine hopes for NATO, U.S. support in boosting defense capabilities | UNIAN

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly says that Ukraine hopes for NATO and U.S. support in boosting its defense capabilities. “We expect further assistance [from the United States and NATO] in boosting our defense capabilities. We also expect the development of energy and energy security projects,” Chaly told the Chas-Time program of the Voice of America’s Ukrainian Service. “Russia poses a threat not only to Ukraine, but also to Europe. The United States sees Russia as a threat, which was not the case before. Therefore we are working together now,” he added.

Ukraine expecting U.S., NATO to provide assistance in strengthening its defenses — Chaly

In 2019, Ukraine expects that NATO and the United States will provide assistance to it to strengthen its defense capabilities, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the U.S.A. Valeriy Chaly has said.

Ukraine Fears Breakout Offensive as Russia Breaks ‘New Year’s Truce’ | VOA

Ukrainian officials are warning Russia may escalate conflict, including the possibly of mounting a breakout offensive from Crimea

Russia-Ukraine War: Moscow Could Launch Armed Attack Over Christmas While the World Is Distracted, Experts Warn | Newsweek

Regional experts also predicted that Russia may look to take advantage of the uncertainty created by James Mattis’s resignation as President Trump’s defense secretary.

New military unit of the Russian Armed Forces near the borders of Ukraine and Belarus (intelligence data) – To Inform is to Influence

on 01/02/2019 | | News | World Volunteers of InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community identified and investigated, based on the relevant open-source intelligence (OSINT), the formation of a new military unit at the borders of Ukraine and Belarus. This investigation includes facts and conclusions that will be useful for military analysts and all those interested in Russia’s covert military operations.  Background…

New military unit of the Russian Armed Forces near the borders of Ukraine and Belarus (intelligence data) – InformNapalm.org (English)

Volunteers of InformNapalm volunteer intelligence community identified and investigated, based on the relevant open-source intelligence (OSINT), the formation of a new military unit at the borders of Ukraine and Belarus.

Soldier Killed, Two Wounded In Eastern Ukraine Clashes, Despite Truce

Ukraine says one of its soldiers has been killed and two others wounded in clashes in the country’s east despite a fresh cease-fire agreement between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists.

Donbas warzone update: Five enemy attacks, no Ukrainian army casualties in past day | UNIAN

Russian-led military forces mounted five attacks on Ukrainian positions in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, in the past day; no Ukrainian army casualties were reported. The Russian-led forces did not use proscribed weapons.

Ukrainian military serviceman gone missing in Donbas warzone | UNIAN

Ukraine’s 128th Separate Mountain Assault Brigade deployed in the zone of the Joint Forces Operation in Donbas has reported one of their men has gone missing in the area of hostilities. Reports that are yet to be confirmed by the defense ministry suggest that the soldier got into militant captivity.

UAWire – Dzhemilev: Turkey fights for the release of Ukrainian sailors detained by Russia

Ukrainian MP Mustafa Dzhemilev said in an interview with Ukrinform that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan instructed the Turkish Foreign Minister to press Russia about the recent Kerch Strait issues. “Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu stated that President Erdogan instructed him to raise on all platforms the issue of free navigation through the Kerch Strait and the need to return our captured ships,” said Dzhemilev. Dzhemilev said the question about the imprisoned sailors’ release was also raised in a conversation with the Foreign Minister of Turkey. “[Cavusoglu] also said that from his prospective, Putin doesn’t want to solve this issue and release the sailors before the election. He considers such a release to be a “gift” to Poroshenko for the upcoming elections. Thus, he wants to use the situation as a tool to influence our elections,” said the People’s Deputy. Dzhemilev explained that the Russian President’s approach is cynical and contrary to both law and morality. “Using people for political purposes is a hostage system,” he said.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Crimean Tatars See Budapest Memorandum as Key to Recovery of Their Homeland

Paul Goble Staunton, January 1 – Mustafa Dzhemilyev, the leader of the Crimean Tatars, says that the goal of his nation is “the establishment of a platform for the return of Crimea on the basis of the Budapest Memorandum,” the 1994 accord under which Russia and the West agreed to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity in exchange for its surrender of nuclear weapons. The US, Great Britain, Canada and other countries following the 2014 Crimean Anschluss declared that Moscow was in violation of the memorandum, but Vladimir Putin replied that in fact, the Western powers were in breach by fomenting the Maidan, thereby sparking a revolution and creating a new state Moscow was not committed to support. For the past four years, there the matter has stood; but Dzhemilyev’s declaration, made to Ukrinform in Ankara suggests that the Crimean Tatars may now be ready to launch a new campaign to focus international attention on the 1994 accord, one that the West might now be ready to do more to compel compliance (ukrinform.ru/rubric-crimea/2611494-mustafa-dzemilev-lider-krymskih-tatar.html). The Crimean Tatar leader lobbied for the passage of the UN resolution on the demilitarization of occupied Crimea on December 17 in large part because “there for the first time was a reference to the Budapest Memorandum.” It is “very important,” he says, that the UN specified that Russia’s militarization of Crimea is “a violation of the Budapest memorandum. “Our next goal,” Dzhemilyev says, “is the creation of a platform for the return of Crimea on the basis of the Budapest Memorandum. We will continue work in this direction.” While in Washington, he met with US congressmen who expressed their support for this effort. Moscow will oppose it, but its opposition “is not that important.” More than once, the Crimean Tatar leader says, when speaking with Western leaders, he has said that if the West had treated the Russian occupation of Georgian territory as an occupation, “the occupation of Crimea would not have happened.” But unfortunately, Western governments did not do so. And then he adds: “I do not exclude that the peninsula can be de-occupied at the price of the disintegration of Russia. The stupidities Putin is acting upon could lead to that.”

Experts see Lithuania as most friendly country towards Ukraine | UNIAN

Experts polled by Ukrainian Prism, a Ukrainian foreign policy and security think-tank, see Lithuania as the most friendly country towards Ukraine. Canada ranks second with 87%. Experts polled by Ukrainian Prism, a Ukrainian foreign policy and security think-tank, see Lithuania as the most friendly country towards Ukraine. “Very glad to see these impressive figures: according to Ukrainian Prism experts’ poll, Lithuania is the most friendly country towards Ukraine. A strong basis for further acceleration of the strategic partnership between our two countries in all the areas,” Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius said on Twitter on Wednesday, January 2.

SBU prevents eight terrorist acts in 2018, 112.international – 112.international

Security Service prevents eight terrorist acts in Ukraine in 2018

UK, Canada start working as joint NATO Contact Point Embassy in Ukraine | UNIAN

The Embassies of the United Kingdom and Canada on January 1, 2019, started working as a joint NATO Contact Point Embassy in Ukraine. The Lithuanian Embassy was the NATO Contact Point Embassy in Ukraine in 2015-2018.

UAWire – British and Canadian embassies start functioning as NATO representatives in Ukraine

As of January 1, 2019, the embassies of the UK and Canada will jointly function as NATO’s contact point embassy in Ukraine, a role performed by Lithuania for the last four years. The decision was confirmed by NATO’s headquarters and coordinated with Kyiv, Evropeyska Pravda reports. Contact point embassies work in all NATO partner states. The functions are on a voluntary, rotational basis for the NATO member states that are most interested in strengthening NATO’s cooperation with the partner state. A contact point embassy serves as an additional communication channel for NATO’s role and policy, and supports joint activity. Since 2017, the Alliance has also had a separate NATO diplomatic mission operating in Kyiv.

How Russia occupied Sea of Azov: full chronology

The key dates and facts of Russian aggression in the Azov-Kerch theater of operation in 2018.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: 2019 will Again Be ‘a Year Without Crimea” for Putin, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, January 2 – The coming year, Vitaly Portnikov says, will be another “year without Crimea” for Vladimir Putin, one where he will not have whatever bounce the Anschluss gave him among Russians however much he may try to resuscitate that as he did in 2018 when his propagandists played up the bridge to the occupied Ukrainian peninsula. When the Kremlin leader seized Crimea, oil prices were still high enough that the average Russian did not feel the cost of that action to his own well-being, the Ukrainian commentator says; but falling oil prices, Western sanctions, and the Russian economic crisis have changed that (ru.krymr.com/a/vitaly-portnikov-god-bez-kryma/29687808.html). Russians no longer feel as they did for a brief time after the Anschluss that it was an effective step by Putin to “raise them from their knees,” Portnikov continues. Instead, many of them now feel they are “on their knees” again – and they blame now the 1990s as they did earlier but Putin’s policies, including his absorption of Crimea. Russia is falling ever further behind the rest of the world, “and Crimea which until recently had seemed to Putin a pearl in the crown of his invented empire and to Russians as a significant triumph of ‘sacred’ historical justice has become a burden, yet another region which needs money that Russia doesn’t have.” As a result, “2019 will be a year without Crimea,” as both Russians and Putin forget about it except as a problem. “Crimea will disappear from the Russian information space now until Putin’s successor begins talks on its return to Ukraine because they will be desperate for Western assistance for the salvation” of their country and ready to make any sacrifice. Then and only then, Portnikov says, “Russia will again remember Crimea – about Ukrainian Crimea.”

Stoltenberg names NATO’s priorities for 2019, addressing conflict in Ukraine among them | UNIAN

Relations with Russia, the conflict in Ukraine, terrorism or cyber attacks are among the priorities of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, says NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. In an interview with Belgium’s RTBF, commenting on U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand for Belgium to increase military spending to 2% of GDP against today’s less than 1%, Stoltenberg said: “The combination of a more muscular Russia that illegally annexed Crimea and destabilizes eastern Ukraine, as well as the terrorist threat, all of this requires more investment.” That’s according to the RTBF report delivered in French. “I hope that Belgium and all NATO allies will keep their promises, which means stopping the defense budget cuts, gradually increasing military spending and achieving the 2% target in a decade,” said the NATO chief.

Poland names Russian aggression in Azov Sea most important international event in 2018 – 112.international

The Polish consider Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the Azov Sea the most important international event of 2018, according to the survey conducted by the Research Centre of public opinion in Poland. “According to the results of the survey, the 100th anniversary of the restoration of Poland’s independence is one of the most significant events which happened in the country (40%). Polish consider Russian fleet attack against the Ukrainian vessels in Azov Sea the most important event on the international stage (6%),” the message says.

Unending solitary confinement for Ukrainian hostage seized in Crimea & tortured in Russia – To Inform is to Influence

NEWS FROM THE CIS COUNTRIES 03.01.2019 | Halya Coynash Ukrainian political prisoner Valentin Vyhivsky has been held in a Russian punishment cell for the last 10 months in appalling conditions and without any telephone contact with his family.  He has been told he will remain in such solitary confinement until the end of his 11-year sentence,…

CNN removes from its photo report “Simferopol, Russia” caption following outcry – To Inform is to Influence

Russian propaganda is effective enough without helpful contributions by CNN. Russia claims to legally own Crimea, the rest of the world says Crimea belongs to Ukraine. Apparently, Russia made the point so well that someone at CNN believes it. Or could it be that someone that is pro-Russian works at CNN? Or has Russia infiltrated…

Ukraine’s Embassy on CNN’s calling Simferopol part of Russia: “Don’t follow Russia’s playbook” | UNIAN

Ukraine’s Embassy to the United States has responded to a CNN report in which the Ukrainian city of Simferopol, which is occupied by Russia, was mentioned as part of Russia. The Embassy says CNN should do better fact-checking.

Torch march in Kyiv: Ukrainians honor memory of Stepan Bandera (Video) | UNIAN

Ukrainians carrying torchlights in commemoration of the 110th anniversary of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) leader Stepan Bandera’s birth in Kyiv have started their event in Kyiv’s Shevchenko Park. The Svoboda Party and the National Corps announced their participation in the event.

Campaigning Starts in Ukraine’s Hard-to-Predict Presidential Race

Incumbent President Petro Poroshenko, who has yet to announce his candidacy, trailing former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, according to recent poll

Ukrainian Navy vessel opens fire in Black Sea; the Tanzanian ship carried the illegal cargo and disobeyed the orders to stop – 112.international

Ukrainian Navy vessel opens fire in Black Sea; the Tanzanian ship carried the illegal cargo and disobeyed the orders to stop. The Ukrainian Navy, the SBU (state security service) and the Prosecutor General’s Office conducted a special operation, preventing smuggling of illegal goods in the Black Sea waters. The incident took place on early January 1, reads the message on the Ukrainian Navy’s Facebook page. Over the last few hours of 2018, the vessel that flew the flag of Tanzania entered Ukraine’s territorial waters. Its crew was suspected of carrying the illegal cargo. ‘Guided by the provisions of the Ukrainian law and the UN Convention for the Maritime Law and Combating the Illegal Turnover of Drugs and Psychoactive Substances, Pryluky missile boat entered the territorial waters of the Ukrainian Navy in order to track the vessel and follow its actions – under the orders of the Command Center of the Ukrainian Navy’, the message says. Related: Ukraine will not lose control over Sea of Azov, – Ukrainian Navy commander The Ukrainian boat found and approached the suspicious vessel. The crew did not respond to the radio messages, so Prulyky began to chase the ship. The vessel ignored the Ukrainian vessel’s demands to shut down the engine. The Ukrainian boat opened fire from the artillery system, firing warning shots along the course of the rogue vessel. This eventually made the Tanzanian crew stop the vessel. The foreign vessel was examined and taken to the seaport of Odesa.

SBU expels pro-Russian propagandist to Belarus | UNIAN

The Security Service of Ukraine has put a halt to the destructive activities of Pavel Karnazitsky, a Belarus national who spread anti-Ukrainian propaganda while illegally staying in Ukraine. He is also banned from entering Ukraine for a period of three years.

Ukrainian movie “Call sign “Banderas” to take part in London IFF – 112.international

Ukrainian movie Call sign “Banderas” will participate in the International Film Festival in London. As the press office of Ukrainian State Film Agency reported, the film will fight for victory in IFF 2019 in London in three nominations: “Best foreign language film”, “Best camera work in foreign movie” and “Best actor in leading role”. Call sign “Banderas” tells about a group of the Ukrainian counterspies who tried to prevent subversions in the Anti-terrorist operation zone in 2014. Zaza Buadze directed the film. Inspired by the diaries of the National Guardsman Sergiy Bashkov with a call sign “Indian” and stories told by the fighters of ATO, Sergiy Dzyuba and Artemiy Kirsanov wrote the script. Oleg Shulga had the leading role in the movie.

Dmytro Shvarts | Ukraine’s defense in 2018: Developing weapons, restoring missile shield, strengthening armored capacities | UNIAN

The past year for Ukraine has become significant for enhancing security and defense. The record volume of defense spending at UAH 170 billion has largely contributed to this year’s success stories. In 2018, Ukraine allocated a record UAH 170 billion from the state budget for defense, which allowed intensifying rearmament efforts, financing the development of new types of weapons. Combined with the use of foreign arms and hardware, this strengthened Ukraine’s defense capabilities in countering Russian aggression. The past year for Ukraine has become significant for enhancing security and defense. The record volume of defense spending at UAH 170 billion has largely contributed to this year’s success stories. A significant part of the funds went on covering running costs and supporting combat capabilities of the Army, while a significant UAH 20 billion was spent on the purchase of new weapons and military equipment. Ukraine’s defense companies have used the money rather effectively, making excellent groundwork for future breakthroughs in several important areas at once. One of the priorities for modernization and rearmament was continued work on the creation of the “Missile Shield”, which could be a significant deterrent to Putin’s unpredictable and aggressive Russia. Realizing the importance of protecting the country’s coastline, Ukraine in December successfully conducted tests of the coastal anti-ship missile complex “Neptun” (Neptune), capable of hitting targets at a range of up to 280 km. According to defense minister Stepan Poltorak, the completion of this weapon’s development is one of the top priorities on the ministry’s agenda. “It must be mobile and have an opportunity to maneuver. We will thus be able to raise the level [of deterrence] and possibilities for preserving territorial integrity and our coastline intact,” the minister stressed. In the spring of 2018, the Vilkha (Alder) artillery rocket system was successfully tested, which led to a decision to start serial production and accept the complex for service. Being a modernized version of the Smerch complex, the Vilkha boasts a strike range of about 70 km, allowing each of the rockets to be assigned a separate target. This is in line with the concept of modern warfare, where a smaller amount of ammunition destroys more targets. The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade stated that the implementation of the Vilkha ARS project and the launch of its mass production lines cost nearly UAH 1 billion. “Progres Research and Production Complex last year announced readiness to begin tests and subsequent production of Kvitnyk (Flowerbed) 152mm precision-guided munitions, capable of a bulls-eye hit at a distance of up to 20 km. Director of Defense Express Information and Consulting Company, Serhiy Zgurets, emphasized an important fact that Ukraine does not focus on creating just a certain type of weapon, rather opting for developing new arms for various firing lines. “We have a maximum range of a Neptun missile of up to 280 km, Vilkha is 70 km, then cannon artillery starts operating, like Kvitnyk that can hit targets at an up to 20 km range. Thus, at each firing line, we’re creating our own weapon,” the expert told UNIAN. He added that another important result of 2018 was the active work of the Pivdenne Design Bureau on creating the Sapsan operational tactical complex, which can wipe out targets at up to 500 km. The testing of various parts of the new system is underway. Armored capacities In addition to the successful testing of various missile systems, the past year proved to be productive for the armored cluster of the state-owned Ukroboronprom Concern, whose enterprises handed over more than a 1,000 units of equipment and weapons to the Army – both new and modernized.

New technologies of rocket production in CB “Pivdenne”

In the CB “Pivdenne”, an innovative rotational rolling technology is introduced, which will provide a qualitative leap in experimental and batch production of rocket technology. Technology has replaced the traditional methods of manufacturing rocket cases, which require a great deal of material and time. On the machine for rotational rolling will be made prototype cases of housing with a diverse internal surface without welds and pin joints. The advantages of this method are simplified designs, reduced weight, increased reliability and durability, reduced design time and introduction into production, saving materials and a significant reduction in cost of production. For this purpose, in the CB “Pivdenne”, a qualitatively new production site for the manufacture of body parts made of metal materials is created. Its main equipment is a hexagonal rotary shaft, a semi-automatic belting machine, and a vacuum stove – purchased for the money received from international commercial contracts. The opening of the site will allow for the closest possible cycle of manufacture of body parts of rocket technology. Recall that recently, also without attracting budget funds, CB “Pivdenne” was opened – a computer center with the most powerful supercomputer in Ukraine and a multifunctional testing center , where real-time systems will test avionics and rocket and space technology.

Ukrainian Army receives 50 warplanes, helicopters in 2018 | UNIAN

Ukraine’s state-run military-industrial Concern Ukroboronprom in 2018 transferred 50 aircraft and helicopters to the Ukrainian Army, after their upgrade and repair performed by Ukraine’s aviation industry cluster, which includes 16 enterprises, all part of the Concern. The list includes fighter jets, attack aircraft, transport planes, and helicopters.

Armed Forces of Ukraine received about 50 aircraft and helicopters in 2018

In 2018, the Ukroboronprom State Concern transferred 50 aircraft and helicopters to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, updating the aircraft fleet and strengthening it with modernized aircraft. “In 2018, the Ukrainian army received about 50 aircraft and helicopters, which were upgraded and repaired by the aircraft building companies, including 16 enterprises of Ukraine’s state concern Ukroboronprom. The Ukrainian pilots received Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters, Su-25 attack aircraft, Su-24 strike aircraft, An-26 and Il-76 transport aircraft, L-39 training plane, Mi-24, Mi-14 and Mi-8 helicopters,” the press service of Ukroboronprom reported.

Ukraine’s armed forces supplied with over 50 upgraded planes, helicopters in 2018 | KyivPost

Ukraine’s state-run military production giant UkrOboronProm says it provided the country’s Armed Forces with approximately 50 aircraft in 2018, having updated and reinforced the country’s military air fleet with modernized and repaired planes and helicopters. The aircraft overhauled over the past year included Sukhoi Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters, Sukhoi Su-25 close air support jets, and Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft, An-26 and Il-76 airlifts, L-39 jet trainers, along with Mi-24, Mi-14, and Mi-8 helicopters, UkrOboronProm’s press service reported on Jan. 2. In particular, a number of MiG-29 fighters were modernized to the MiG-29MU1 version at the Lviv State Aircraft Repair Plant. “These planes have been equipped with a high power radar that increases the effective range of detection of airborne targets, and also with a satellite navigation system integrated into the on-board communications complex,” the concern said. “Besides, the capabilities for controlling and monitoring the technical health of the aircraft, its engine and a number of on-board systems were also greatly improved. These planes are (now) capable of performing joint missions with NATO nations forces.” In general, the concern added, the Ukrainian Air Forces had received “approximately half a dozen” modernized MiG-29s, and more such aircraft would be supplied in 2019. Besides, the Aviakon factory, based in the city of Konotop in Sumy Oblast some 200 kilometers northeast of Kyiv, supplied “over 15” upgraded military helicopters, such the famous Mi-24 attack helicopters and Mi-8MTP medium helicopters equipped for radio-electronic warfare. “The dedicated equipment of this helicopters jam ground-based radar targeting detectors, enabling them to “bedazzle” and confuse the enemy,” the concern said. At least five repaired and modernized L-39 trainer jets were also supplied to the Air Forces last year. The Soviet-produced Sukhoi family of planes, still the workhorses of Ukraine’s air force, were also upgraded in 2018. Several Su-27 fighters were modernized into the Su-27-1M version, featuring a new radar that has a 30 percent greater air target detection range, and also new navigation, control, and monitoring systems. The old Su-25 close air support jet, modernized into the Su-25M1K version and also supplied to the air force, features new, Ukrainian-produced digital aiming scopes instead of the older analog device, new radio stations, and the new Adros anti-jamming system.“This complex multiplies the plane’s protection against infrared-guided missiles by dazzling their target-seeking devices and releasing special flares,” UkrOboronProm said. Earlier, on Dec. 19, the concern also reported that it had repaired and modernized over 1,000 armored vehicles, both heavy tanks, and light armor, for the Armed Forces in 2018. Over 650 such vehicles were repaired in 2018 by UkrOboronProm’s mobile teams in the field, including the war zone in the east of Ukraine, which saved time on transporting broken-down hardware to factories.