Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (71)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

On a personal note, I continue to be humbled and awed by our anonymous expert, by the experience, knowledge, and competence of the writers included in the compilation, and the dedication by so many professionals to highlight the plight of Ukraine, the overwhelming aggression of Russia, and the de facto aversion to action by the West. 

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The Whelan abduction looks increasingly like the classic DPRK hostage scenario. Wagner PMC now active also in Sudan. Excellent analysis by Prof Blank of Russia’s energy strategy – given what we know about the melting permafrost, difficulties with Russia’s Yamal Peninsula reservoirs, and the exhaustion of accessible oil reserves, all of which are just as well understood by Russia’s leadership, it is abundantly clear all of these projects are short term political campaigns to buy access and influence in gullible (and greedy) European nations – a decade hence it is unlikely Russia will be able to actually deliver the volumes of gas and oil they are so generously peddling at this time. Solovey on expected constitutional changes to make Putin “Vozhd for life”. Axe on Russian fighter procurement. Russian leadership “outrage” over Rogozin ban on US entry – he did earn the sanctions richly. Russia to classify personal genetic data of Russian citizens – likely the regime is displeased with the ongoing results of genetic surveys that have uncovered unpalatable ground truths, such as ethnic Ukrainians outnumbering ethnic Russians inside Russia, and the majority of ethnic Russians being genetically closer to South Asia than most of Europe – how terribly embarrassing!

Six very nice analyses and essays on Russian propaganda.

Updates on Ukraine – Amb Herbst on cranking up costs for Russia, ISW on escalation, Crimea, Azov, Donbas ceasefire violations, Polish Neo-Nazis on trial for acting as proxy arsonists for Russia inside Ukraine, Pivdenmash and PSU updates.

Days After Whelan Arrest, Moscow Claims U.S. Has Detained A Russian Citizen

Days after Moscow arrested the former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan on spying charges, Russia has accused the United States of detaining a Russian citizen.

Russian Arrested On June 2017 Warrant, Russians Apoplectic – To Inform is to Influence

This case actually started in June 2017. Vladimir Nevidomy and Dmitry Makarenko were both charged with trying to export Night Vision Goggles to Russia. Vladimir Nevidomy was arrested and plead guilty in June 2018.  Now Dmitry Makarenko is arrested for the same charge. Of course, Russia is claiming “provocation”. Pshaw. </end editorial>   PUBLISHED SAT, JAN 5…

Moscow says FBI arrested Russian a day after it detained ex-U.S. Marine | Reuters

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday the United States had detained a Russian citizen, a day after Moscow arrested the former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan on suspicion of spying.

Russian arrested in the US, accused of illegal export of military equipment, money laundering –

The Russian Foreign Ministry announced the arrest of a Russian citizen in the United States. This is stated in the comments of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Foreign Ministry said that we are talking about a citizen of Russia, Dmitry Makarenko, who arrived on Saipan Island on December 29. He was detained by the FBI at the airport immediately after arrival. “According to the information available, D. Makarenko is transferred from the Northern Mariana Islands to Florida. Our embassy in the USA continues to seek consular access to him, which, in accordance with the said Convention, should have been provided to us before January 2. We demand from Washington to clarify the reasons for the arrest and observe the rights of a citizen of Russia, “the statement said. Earlier, the media reported that Dmitry Makarenko was detained at the request of the FBI. The Southern District Court of Florida on June 15, 2017 accused him of illegally importing US military equipment, as well as money laundering.

As American Sits In Moscow Jail, Russia Says U.S. Has Detained One Of Its Citizens : NPR

A top Russian official has dismissed suggestions that Paul Whelan would be traded for any Russian in U.S. custody.

3 big questions about the curious Paul Whelan ‘spy’ case – The Washington Post

There’s more to this story than a simple “spy swap.”

Russia says it is not willing to exchange detained ex-U.S. marine: Interfax | Reuters

Russia is not willing to exchange Paul Whelan, the former U.S. marine detained in Moscow on suspicion of spying, Interfax news agency quoted Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Saturday.

Paul Whelan: Russia rules out prisoner swap for ex-US Marine – BBC News

Ex-US marine Paul Whelan was arrested last month on suspicion of spying – claims his family denies.

Russia Says It’s Too Early To Consider Swap After Mutual Arrests

Russia says it is too early to discuss a swap of individuals with the United States after the two countries detained citizens of the other in alleged espionage-related cases.

UAWire – Russia sees no reason for prisoner swap for detained US citizen Paul Whelan

Russia does not see any reason to exchange the US citizen Paul Whelan, who is facing charges of espionage in Russia, for Russians arrested in …

Accused American ‘spy’ in Russia has 4 passports – ABC News

Russia accuses Paul Whelan of espionage activity in Moscow; family denies claim.

Britain Warns Russia Against ‘Chess Games’ Over Alleged Spy

Britain has cautioned Russia against playing “diplomatic chess games” following the arrest on spying charges of Paul Whelan, a dual U.S.-British citizen.

Paul Whelan: Ireland become latest nation drawn into Russian spy claims against American – The Washington Post

Details of Paul Whelan’s past paint an increasingly complex picture as Ireland becomes the fourth nation to claim him as a citizen.

American Detained in Moscow Also Has British, Irish and Canadian Passports – The New York Times

The man, Paul Whelan, holds citizenship from four countries and has requested help from multiple governments, increasing the pressure on Moscow to release him.

I am Paul Whelan’s brother. He is not a spy. – The Washington Post

He is unjustly detained in Russia.

The former Marine arrested by Russia reportedly tried to steal over $10,000 from the US government while he was serving in Iraq | Business Insider

Paul Whelan, the US citizen and former Marine detained in Russia on espionage charges, was reportedly convicted of attempting to steal roughly ten grand from Uncle Sam while deployed to Iraq in 2006, according to the Washington Post.

For Your Spies Only: Cold War Prisoner Swaps

The detention of an American in Russia on espionage charges is making some wonder if the ground is being laid for a classic East-West spy swap.

Steve Gutterman’s Week In Russia — January 4, 2019 – To Inform is to Influence

The Week In Russia: New Year, Old Problems 04.01.2019 An apartment-building collapse killed 39 people on New Year’s Eve in Magnitogorsk, and 13 revelers ringing in 2019 were injured when a bridge broke beneath their feet as the national anthem played in Moscow. Meanwhile, the new year brought a new wrinkle in relations with the…

Putin’s Grand Energy Strategy Is More Ambitious than You Think – To Inform is to Influence

JANUARY 4, 2019 BY STEPHEN BLANK Energy politics are critical in Russia’s long war on the West and Ukraine. Indeed, energy functions as a Swiss army knife for Moscow, cutting simultaneously in several directions. Energy provides the basis for the revenue stream that enables all government operations, comprises a ready source of constant corruption of…

Wagner PMC Now In Sudan, After Ukraine, Syria, And Central African Republic – To Inform is to Influence

Russian Wagner Private Military Company (PMC), owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin AKA Putin’s Chef, on the US Sanctions list, has deployed elements to Khartoum, Sudan. The use of PMCs is highly controversial. PMCs originated in 1965 with WatchGuard International in the UK by SAS veterans. One of the first major public outcries against the use of PMCs began with Blackwater in Iraq. Wagner PMC participated in the invasion of Ukraine and subsequent military actions, took a part in military action against US forces in Syria (with losses reported up to 200 personnel), and recently in the Central African Republic. Reports of Russian mercenaries in Sudan are already reporting they are dispersing widespread protesters. Russian private military contractors with Sudan’s Security forces forcibly dispersed anti-government demonstrators in Khartoum. Russian private military contractors spotted in Sudan Sudanese military personnel were previously being trained in the Central African Republic in March 2018, it may be the case to bring Wagner PMC to Sudan to train forces there. Neither the US, the UK, or Russia have signed the United Nations Mercenary Convention. Many regard a PMC as mercenaries. The United Nations Mercenary Convention, officially the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, is a 2001 United Nations treaty that prohibits the recruitment, training, use, and financing of mercenaries. The use of Wagner PMC by Russia allows Russia to have plausible deniability and limited liability compared with the deployment of Russian forces, but, as one of its commanders recently said: “Even if you are 10,000 kilometers from home, you are still fighting for the motherland.” Wagner PMC often uses Russian military equipment, further blurring the line between Wagner PMC and the Russian military. </end editorial>

Stephen Blank | Putin’s Grand Energy Strategy Is More Ambitious than You Think | Atlantic Council

Energy politics are critical in Russia’s long war on the West and Ukraine. Indeed, energy functions as a Swiss army knife for Moscow, cutting simultaneously in several directions. Energy provides the basis for the revenue stream that enables all government operations, comprises a ready source of constant corruption of European elites and institutions, and furnishes an unending source of leverage and corruption over European governments and politics. Russia’s war against Ukraine only heightens energy’s vital importance to Moscow in its overall European strategy. Upon seizing Crimea, Moscow expropriated Ukraine’s energy platforms off Crimea’s coast. Likewise it is trying to make Ukraine economically dependent on Russia by building the Nord Stream II pipeline that will bypass the Baltic States, Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine and send gas to Germany, isolating Ukraine, and undermining support for Kyiv in Europe. This last point is not sufficiently understood abroad. Having bought up distribution networks in Germany, Moscow will have leverage over Germany and also on Germany’s supposed re-export of the gas from Nord Stream II to Central and Eastern Europe. But the diabolical strategy does not end there. In 2019, TurkStream, Moscow’s gas pipeline to Turkey, is supposed to open. It will send gas to the Greco-Turkish border free of EU jurisdiction, and thence to Balkan, Italian, and Central European customers. As part of this strategy, Putin is traveling the Balkans and, like he did a decade ago, selling the same horse twice. Essentially, he is promising every Balkan capital that it will be a hub for TurkStream gas. But if everybody is a hub, then nobody is. Then Moscow, aided by its Balkan clients, will dominate the scene in Eastern Europe and intensify its efforts to prevent European integration in all its forms. Those forms include NATO enlargement in the Balkans and by extension Ukraine’s integration with Europe (since the gas should have flowed through Ukraine). At the same time, Moscow will have gained added means for corrupting these governments and societies and utilizing that influence to prevent support for Ukraine and its European integration. But beyond those pipelines, we see a third dimension of this strategy operating through Hungary. Viktor Orban’s Hungary has morphed into a clone of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Its efforts to undermine Ukraine by raising old irredentist issues concerning western Ukraine indicate its support for Moscow and its reversion to the irredentist policies of Hungary after 1919 when authoritarian leader Admiral Miklos Horthy ruled. Just as Horthy became a pawn of Hitler, Orban, in consolidating his strongman rule, is becoming Putin’s pawn. Politically he challenges Ukraine’s territorial integrity. And economically he has allowed Russia to gain control over Hungary’s energy sources and use its own means to penetrate Hungary’s economy and politics. Because Hungary’s energy company, MOL, is a major owner of Croatia’s INA energy company, Moscow’s rising presence in Hungary translates into a major presence in Croatia as well. Croatia is an essential link in the Balkans and thus to the extent that Moscow can influence Balkan energy trends, overall economics and politics, it isolates Ukraine from what would otherwise be natural ties to its Balkan neighbors and enhances its own leverage there. At the same time, it retards the Balkans’ ongoing integration with Europe. Since 2009, Russia has sought to gain leverage in all Balkan energy networks. In 2009, Hungary’s energy company MOL invested in Croatia’s largest energy country, INA, thus excluding Rosneft and Gazprom. Moscow retaliated by claiming that the contract was won through bribery. Moscow is still trying to buy into INA by undercutting MOL in return for which Orban has ceded control over Hungarian energy to Russia. Also in 2009, the Russian oil and gas company Surgutneft bought 21 percent of MOL from Austria’s OMV energy company at nearly twice its market valuation, signifying the political implications of the deal. Since then, and particularly since 2013 when the Croatian government announced its intention to reduce its equity in INA, Russia, Gazprom, Rosneft, and the Russian government have both courted and pressured Zagreb and MOL to sell them shares in Croatia’s refineries and energy network that would allow it to gain at least a blocking voice against MOL and the Croatian government if not a dominant role in the Balkans and through that in energy transmission to Austria and Italy. The implications of such machinations are easy to discern. Given the current chaos in the EU and transatlantic relations in general, Moscow might well succeed if not countered in isolating Ukraine through Nord Stream II, TurkStream, and gaining enduring influence across the Balkans. Ukraine and European security face not only military threats but also unrelenting energy threats. There is no clear Western strategy in sight to meet either as we enter 2019. Stephen Blank is a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council. He is the author of numerous foreign policy-related articles, white papers, and monographs focused on the geopolitics and geostrategy of Russia and Eurasia. He is a former MacArthur Fellow at the US Army War College.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Solovey Says Kremlin Now Working to Prepare Russians for Radical Structural Change in Russian System

Paul Goble Staunton, January 5 – Valery Solovey, a professor at MGIMO and a well-connected commentator on Russian politics, says that the Kremlin has already prepared several innovations in the Russian political system to resolve and will launch a major campaign in the coming year to prepare the population for them. “As far as I know,” he says, the effort to introduce these reforms will come to a head in 2020, but “in 2019, most likely, it will be limited to the preparation of society. Judging from what I hear, the most likely innovation will be the establishment of a state council” whose head will take on the powers of the current president ( That of course would allow Putin to continue in power without a violation of the constitution. Other changes are under consideration as well, Solovey says, including “the establishment of a state ideology and the reduction in the number of subjects of the federation,” the latter to be achieved by the amalgamation of some existing regions. But the authorities will not undertake all these reforms at once, he says. That would entail “too large a risk.” Also likely, Solovey says, is the doing away with all gubernatorial elections, “although this is not necessarily going to be connected with a change in the constitution. Instead, it could simply occur by means of an extension of the changes Putin has introduced over the past decade or more.

Russia has “last chance” to comply with nuclear treaty – Stoltenberg | UNIAN

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said Russia has a last chance to comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. NATO will likely face difficult questions in the coming months, amid a standoff with Russia over the country’s nuclear-capable SSC-8 missile.

Russia’s Air Force Is Getting Lots of New Aircraft (Just Not a Lot of Su-57s or Stealth) | The National Interest

What happenned to the Su-57?

Russia demands NASA explanation over snub of space chief | Fox News

Russia’s space agency on Saturday demanded an explanation after NASA postponed indefinitely a planned visit by Russia’s space chief.

UAWire – Kremlin: Russia awaits explanation from NASA regarding the decision to cancel Rogozin’s visit to the US

Russian state corporation Roscosmos continues to prepare its “negotiating position” regarding cooperation with NASA. In a statement on their …

Russia’s False Outrage Over Rogozin’s Disinvite Has Roots In Reality – To Inform is to Influence

Dmitry Rogozin is on the sanctions list from the US, Canada, and the EU.   He is also the Director General of Roscosmos which works alongside NASA to run the International Space Station (ISS). I firmly believe NASA made a mistake when they invited Rogozin to the US.  The simple explanation to Russia should be to explain Rogozin…

NASA Calls Off Rogozin Visit After Outcry From U.S. Lawmakers

NASA has called off the planned visit of Dimitry Rogozin, the chief of Russia’s space agency who is subject to U.S. and European Union sanctions, following critical press reports and calls by U.S…

NASA rescinds invitation to Russian space agency chief to visit US after backlash – CNNPolitics

NASA says it has canceled an upcoming visit by the head of Russia’s space agency after mounting pressure from Capitol Hill over US sanctions against the official.

UAWire – Kremlin considers classifying genetic data of Russians

Rospotrebnadzor, Russia’s Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare, prepared a bill aiming at protecting information obtained from the biological and genetic material of Russians. The corresponding document was published on the website of normative legal acts. Lawmakers believe that the changes should be made to the law “On Personal Data” and the law “On Protection of Consumers’ Rights”, which will impose restrictions on the personal data processing and the provision of services related to the use and handling of biological and human genetic material. The document suggests protecting the “information about a person that was obtained from his biomaterial.’ The explanatory note to the draft bill says it includes genomic data about Russians that would reveal additional information about them such as their health status, nutrition, lifestyle, behavioral features and sensitivity to pharmacological drugs among other things. The document also specifies that “The bill also provides for the possibility of establishing Russian government services rules, including health, related to the use and treating of biological and genetic material.” Rospotrebnadzor explained that such initiatives are needed “to establish additional means to protect citizens from the uncontrolled proliferation of information about them.” According to the bill’s authors, the proposed bill does “comply with international legislation and regulatory approaches in the treatment of biological material in the EU, US, UK, Australia and Germany.” According to the information on the Russia’s government website, the document was developed in accordance with the instructions of Russian President Vladimir Putin dated December 1, 2017. Last February, Putin ordered large-scale genome research to be conducted in Russia. He said that the current level of technology development is so high that scientists can actually “get into the genetic code.” As the President noted, “It’s quite real now that it will be possible to create another person ‘with the given characteristics.’”

Eastern Partnership countries hope for Romanian support during EU presidency

Moldovan Prime Minister Pavel Filip hopes that Romania within its presidency of the Council of the EU will support the European integration processes of the Eastern Partnership countries, including Moldova, Ukraine and Georgia. — Ukrinform

Russia’s Lavrov Invites The West To Seize Their Land – To Inform is to Influence

Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, did not say what is in the headline. But, maintaining the logic of his statement below, it would be permissible. Russia to provide tit-for-tat response to placement of US missiles in Europe – Lavrov TASS Let’s give a few examples of his twisted logic applied to Russia. Using his logic: Ukraine is allowed to seize land in the Rostov and Volgograd Oblasts. Ukraine is allowed to seize three boats from the Sevastopol-based Black Sea Fleet by ramming them first and shooting at them with missiles.\ Ukraine is allowed to seize and hold hostage 24 Russian sailors Ukraine is allowed to seize Sochi until Crimea is exchanged. Georgia is allowed to seize land in the Krasnodar Krai from Russia. Georgia is allowed to seize land in the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania. NATO is allowed to place up to 3,000 tanks in Ukraine near the Russian border and also claim them to be “volunteers and people on vacation”. Any Russian visiting the West is allowed to be held hostage for an indeterminate amount of time on fabricated charges. Any talk of release is “too soon”. The West will never attack Russia. The problem with this statement is that we mean it. That is just the start of a list showing how ridiculous Lavrov’s threat to the West really is. Notice, please, Lavrov is clearly saying the words I predicted: “We have no choice“. This does not indicate a Russia attack, it is just a Russian Diplomat recycling tired old phrases which are used far too often. </end editorial>

Putin’s ‘language of truth’ constantly fails fact-checking – To Inform is to Influence

January 03, 2019 By Polygraph Franz Klintsevich Ranking member of the Russian Federation Council’s Defense Committee “The Russian president always speaks with the people solely in the language of truth, whatever it may be. Even on New Year’s Eve. No blissful pictures – only what is in fact the case.” Source: RIA Novosti, January 2, 2019…

EU vs. Disinfo: What did not happen in 2018? – To Inform is to Influence

2 January 2019 What a year it’s been! 2018 will go down as the year NASA successfully landed a probe on Mars, Norway won a record of 39 medals at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the EU raised the possibility of harmonising summertime and wintertime. But the year was also filled with some extraordinary events…

Top absurd Russian fakes: what didn’t happen in 2018 |Euromaidan Press |

What a year it’s been! 2018 will go down as the year NASA successfully landed a probe on Mars, Norway won a record of 39 medals at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and the EU raised the possibility of harmonizing summertime and wintertime. But the year was also filled with some extraordinary events and mind-blowing crises that did not happen, no matter how persistently pro-Kremlin media tried to convince us that they did. Here are a few of the highlights.

1001 pro-Kremlin disinformation messages: Ukraine remains top target |Euromaidan Press |

“Lies and blatant fabrications” – this was how the British government described Russia’s clumsy attempt to conceal its hand in the nerve agent attack in Salisbury, by staging a bizarre interview with the suspects. But it might as well be a by-line for the overall pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign that we followed in 2018. Out of over 1000 cases that EU vs Disinfo has collected in 2018, Ukraine emerges again as a primary (and constant) target. However, this year we also witnessed pro-Kremlin disinformation megaphones directed heavily at the EU and in particular the UK, its government and security services over the Salisbury case.

Ukrainian ‘Rebels’ Cannot “Do” Propaganda – To Inform is to Influence

Today a good friend sent me the URL for a “Ukraine Rebel” propaganda video. “This shows how sophisticated they are”.  I actually expected a decent quality product. I was wrong. He must have meant NOT sophisticated. The video was terrible quality – the video resolution, the captions, and the thought that went into making it. …

Amb John E. Herbst | Cheap Ways to Make Putin Pay in Ukraine | Atlantic Council

Six weeks ago, Russia attacked Ukraine in the Straits of Kerch and it made international news. US President Donald Trump canceled a high-level meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in response. Other governments denounced the Kremlin’s actions. Then the news faded. Right now, the weak Western response means that Putin has gained a tactical advantage, which makes it more likely that Moscow will escalate further in the future. It would be easy to dismiss the latest flare-up as Ukraine’s problem, but that would be foolish. The Kremlin is pursuing a revisionist policy designed to weaken NATO and the European Union. Its current aggression is focused on Ukraine. The smartest way for the United States to thwart Putin’s efforts is to make him pay a heavy price for his war against Ukraine. This can be done at a very low cost to us: sanctions on Russian leaders and the economy and weapons for Ukraine. Others have examined the various sanctions options, but no one has stated clearly what weapons the United States should provide to shore up Ukraine’s vulnerabilities. We should provide at least six, and as many as twelve, Mark V PT boats. They should be equipped with at least fifty and as many as 100 Hellfire missiles. The United States should also provide at least 100 Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Mark V’s can be transported by air to Mariupol and Berdyansk, Ukraine’s two port cities in the Sea of Azov, where Russia fired on Ukrainian boats on November 25. What would these weapons do? The United States has a large number of 1970s Harpoon anti-ship missiles that are sitting in storage. These can be provided gratis and save us storage expenses. US forces use newer Harpoons. Harpoons have a range of over fifty miles and would be a problem for Russian ships approaching Mariupol or Berdyansk and, of course, for any amphibious operation against Ukraine’s coast, whether in Azov or the Black Sea. The United States should also help Ukraine reinforce its naval presence in the Sea of Azov by providing Mark V PT boats. The Ukrainian navy cannot match Russian firepower in the Sea of Azov. But fast patrol boats would provide a punch that would put larger Russian vessels at risk. The Mark V’s carry torpedoes and the United States could make the boats much more of a threat to the Russian navy by providing nautical Hellfire missiles, which can be launched from the Mark V. Finally, we should also provide the radar and intel systems that would help Ukraine’s military keep track of the Russian navy in the Sea of Azov. This would be essential to gauge the threat of that navy and would be important for targeting those ships. The purpose, of course, is not to encourage Ukraine to shoot at the Russian navy, but to give it the capability to shoot back once provoked, which would establish a measure of deterrence in the Sea of Azov. Today, Moscow exploits the lack of any naval deterrence. The Kremlin has established overwhelming military superiority in the Sea of Azov and, with their attack on and seizure of Ukrainian navy vessels in late November, have demonstrated that they want no challenge from Ukraine there. Since April, Moscow has used this predominance to harass shipping to and from Ukraine’s Azov ports, reducing shipping by at least 50 percent. But its naval presence also gives Moscow the ability to conduct amphibious military operations against Ukraine’s Azov coastline. The United States is not in a position to offset Moscow’s naval superiority in the Sea of Azov, just as it is not in a position to offset the Kremlin’s conventional superiority in the war in the Donbas. But the United States could give Ukraine assets to provide an asymmetric challenge to Moscow in the Sea of Azov. This would be similar in some ways to the US provision of Javelins to Ukraine, which did much to neuter Moscow’s tank advantage in the Donbas and convince Kyiv that the US position remains firm. The US response to Moscow’s escalation in late November has been underwhelming, and Putin is likely to interpret it as a green light if we do nothing but cancel meetings. Putin is a menace to the international order and he’s only getting bolder. Now is the time to act. John E. Herbst is the director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council. He served as the US ambassador to Ukraine from 2003-2006.

Askold Krushelnycky | Kyiv Post: American think tank predicts Putin will escalate war in Ukraine – To Inform is to Influence

Published Jan. 4. Updated Jan. 4 at 8:00 pm Since Russia’s naval aggression in the Kerch Strait – when its ships rammed, shelled, and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels on Nov. 25 – Kyiv has warned that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin is preparing to escalate his war against the country. American think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), has endorsed that warning in a detailed assessment that has been widely-read by American and other countries’ political and military decision-makers and has added urgency to the calls for more Western support for Ukraine. The Kyiv Post spoke to Catherine Harris, an expert in Russian global campaigns to undermine the West. She is one of the three authors of the “Russia Poised to Escalate Ukraine Campaign” report who said the danger signals have only grown since the assessment was first published on Dec. 11.

Poroshenko and Erdogan discuss Crimean Tatars’ rights in annexed Crimea –

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko held a meeting in Istanbul with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Ukraine reported this on Twitter. ‘I am pleased to start my working visit in Turkey with a meeting with President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan. We discussed the ways of strengthening the strategic partnership, increasing the coordination of interaction on the international arena, prospects of concluding a bilateral accord on free trade area,’ the head of Ukraine claimed. That said, Poroshenko expressed gratitude to the Turkish Republic for the cooperation on the UN General Assembly Resolution regarding the condemnation of the militarization of the Sea of Azov and Crimea by Russia.

Poroshenko thanks Erdogan for UN resolution on Crimea

In Istanbul, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. — Ukrinform

Russia held testing of “Bal” missile compel in annexed Crimea –

The Russian soldiers held the missile drills in occupied Crimea to test the anti-ship coastal missile complex “Bal” as the Defense Ministry of Russia reported. “The personnel of the up-front battery practiced the ways to deploy hardware at different positions, executing tasks on entry, deployment, change of fighting order and location after the use of weapons,” the message said.

During an attack in the Kerch Strait on November 25, Russian soldiers fired on Ukrainian ships with a large-caliber cannon –

During an attack in the Kerch Strait on November 25, Russian soldiers fired on Ukrainian ships with a large-caliber cannon. The lawyer Ilya Novikov reported this on the Ekho Moskvy radio station, citing the words of his client, the Ukrainian sailor Roman Mokryak who was detained as a result of the incident. “The Russian side is trying to present this situation to us, as” we have seen that they violate the border, we must stop it …” This “must stop” resulted in the firing from a large-caliber cannon. According to the observations of my client Roman Mokryak, about 1,200 shells were fired,” Novikov noted. He added that the Russian border ship Izumrud was firing at the Ukrainian ships. To avoid shelling, the Ukrainian ships began to disperse at sea, and one of the border ships of the Russian Federation went after the Berdyansk ship.

Year Review of Russian Aggression in Azov Sea

now, a creeping Russian blockade to keep Ukraine out of the seas

JFO: Russian-led forces mount five attacks on Ukraine army 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. According to Ukrainian intelligence, one occupier was killed and another one was wounded.

Russian proxy forces violate ceasefire in Donbas three times in past 24 hours, Ukraine reports | UNIAN

Over the past day, the militants that are part of Russian occupation forces in the Donbas warzone three times violated the ceasefire agreement, the press center of the Joint Forces Operation wrote on Facebook Saturday morning. At the same time, the enemy did not employ weapons banned by Minsk accords.

Militants shell city in Donetsk region and claims it was Ukraine – To Inform is to Influence

This has been an ongoing tactic in Donbas by the Russian militants. Shell an innocent dwelling in an occupied city and then claim Ukraine shelled the city. This is supposed to infuriate the victims against Ukraine. The direction of fire, however, is from Russia. You would think after five years this tactic would change, it does not work. </end editorial>

Termination of railway communication with Russia “inevitable” – Ukraine minister | UNIAN

Railway communication between Ukraine and Russia will cease, either by Cabinet decision, or as Ukrainians gradually stop traveling to the neighboring aggressor state, according to Infrastructure Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Omelyan. The number of Ukrainians traveling to Russia by rail is “inexorably decreasing.”

Klimkin on Ukraine’s presidential elections: there will be no voting in Russia for security reasons – To Inform is to Influence

Friday, January 4, 2019 2:00:47 PM The Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin stated that polling stations in Russia would not open at the suggestion of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to him, the main reason for this decision is the issue of security. “We believe that holding free and fair elections in the territory…

Three Poles to be judged for arson of Hungarian Culture Association in Uzhhorod –

Mazovia Department of the National Prosecutor’s Office of Poland has passed the materials of the case against three Polish citizens, who organized and set the building of the Hungarian Culture Association in Uzhhorod on fire to the court as reported. The perpetrators were accused of terrorism. According to the investigation, they got $252 from the contractor, German journalist, who, probably, acted under the direction of the Russian special services for the arson. “It was a provocation, which should lead to the deterioration of the Ukrainian-Hungarian relations. It was into the hands of Russia, which is interested in the destabilization of its western neighbor, where the hybrid war in Donbas takes place,” officer of Internal Security Agency, who handled the case, said. The main suspect in the case is 28-year-old Mikhal P., who held a university degree and is a specialist in the security sphere. He is tied with the neo-fascist organization “Falanga” and pro-Russian party “Zmiana”, which leader Mariusz P. is in the remand center for the third year and suspected in the cooperation with the Russian and Chinese intelligence.

Legacy of Ukraine Revolution Rides on March Election – The Washington Post

100 years ago: the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire & birth of the West Ukrainian National Republic |Euromaidan Press |

Dmytro Shurkhalo A hundred years ago, in the final years of the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was wracked by inner turmoil, with much tension between different ethnic groups. First, Emperor Karl I, the last Emperor of Austria and Hungary (August 17, 1887 – April 1, 1922), issued a manifesto allowing for the creation of a confederation with each national group exercising self-governance. However, the ethnic groups wanted full autonomy as separate nations, as they were now determined to become independent from Vienna at the earliest possible moment. Nations emerged one after another… one of them being the West Ukrainian National Republic (ZUNR). Ivan Homeniuk, a historian specializing in East European history, talks about these tumultuous years. Ethnographic map of the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the American atlas of 1911. Ukrainians are designated as Ruthenians, the light-green part of the map

Restoring the equilibrium: wild nature is making a comeback at the Chernobyl exclusion zone |Euromaidan Press |

After the disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, radiation had been scaring off humans from the area for several decades. People abandoned the 30-kilometer zone around the station. However, the zone itself did not die. The flora and fauna developed handsomly in the absence of humans.

Polish-Ukrainian history: time for a reset |Euromaidan Press |

Practically all journalists and academics writing about the Volyn massacres in 1943 do so in a one-sided manner. This bias is reflected in four ways: choosing a short time period of one year (1943) and ignoring what happened before and after; only criticizing Ukrainian nationalism; blaming only the Ukrainian side for the poor state of Polish-Ukrainian relations; relying primarily on Polish sources for civilian casualty figures and contrasting an allegedly more scholarly Polish Institute of National Remembrance with that of the ‘nationalistic’ Ukrainian equivalent led by Volodymyr Viatrovych who is castigated as an ‘apologist’ of extremist Ukrainian nationalism. It is undisputed that more Polish than Ukrainian civilians died during the Polish-Ukrainian conflicts that lasted from the late 1930s to 1947. But, during this period of time, both Poles and Ukrainians supported extreme nationalism and both sides committed massacres of civilians. While Ukrainian nationalist groups are routinely condemned as supporters of extremist policies there is little mention of similar traits among Polish groups or that Polish moderate and extremist nationalists did not recognize Ukrainians as a nation and refused to compromise on Poland’s future eastern border. The following is an analysis of these four biases and why it is time for a re-set of Polish-Ukrainian history.

UAWire – Ukrainian Security Service investigates an attempt to seize power in Ukraine

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) started an investigation into a possible attempt to seize power in the country in 2018, Ukrainsky Novyny news outlet reported, citing the materials of the court. According to the SBU, a conference called the “First national Ukrainian Congress” or “FNUC” was held in Prague in May 2018. Its participants declared the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine illegitimate and criminal organizations and called the FNUC “the only legitimate legislative body of the country.” As the result of the conference, participants formed the so-called the Ukrainian People’s Tribunal and declared it the true judiciary branch of Government and announced the formation of the Special Service for the secret execution of sentences, the agency writes. Moreover, the participants of the FNUC announced the creation of other power structures, including “the Ukrainian People’s Army” that should confront the National Guard and National Police of Ukraine in order to forcibly seize power and overthrow the constitutional order. Also at the Convention in Prague, a presidential candidate of Ukraine from the FNUC, an activist of Euromaidan, Ivan Bubenchyk was elected. He is suspected of killing two employees of the special Berkut police in February 2014. The news agency states that the leader of the FNUC is Rustam Tashbaev, a member of the political organization Ukrainian Political Alliance. The SBU stated that he was expelled from the country in 2015. According to the agency, in December 2018, a forensic linguistic analysis of the statements published at the conventions of the FNUC was requested.

Yuzhnoye SDO opened a spacecraft assembly line

Spacecraft assembly and electric tests facility, complying with the cutting-edge world standards, has been built and put into operation in Yuzhnoye SDO. Total area of the SC facility is 1000 m2, almost 300 m2 of which is occupied with cleanroom area in which the ventilation and air conditioning system constantly provides 18-25 ° C temperature, and 100000 class of air cleanliness according to the international standard ISO 14644-1:2015. Strict requirements like these are required to prevent the ingress of dust on the optical and other satellite systems. Availability of such facility in Yuzhnoye SDO will maintain the capability to manufacture the spacecraft in Ukraine, as well as to create the closed cycle of development, manufacturing and testing of the satellites at our enterprise. Related: New Computer Center with super computer was opened in Yuzhnoye SDO At the end of 2018 government of Ukraine approved the bill «On establishment of the National special-purpose technological space program of Ukraine for 2019-2023». It is thanks to the new spacecraft facility, built on the basis of Yuzhnoye SDO, that the realization of activities under the space program can become possible, namely, development of Sich-series Earth remote sensing satellites, Microsat and YuzhSat scientific spacecraft, technological micro- and nano-satellites, advanced spacecraft for orbital service.

Ukrainian military aviation: the results of 2018

It is worth noting that in 2018, probably a record number of MiG-29 – 7 fighters was repaired

NATO to continue using Ukraine’s “Ruslan” freighter aircraft | UNIAN

NATO will continue using for cargo transportation a pair of Ukraine’s An-124-100 “Ruslan” aircraft produced by Antonov Design Bureau. The relevant contract was put in force Jan 1, 2019.