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Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (65)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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An unusually active week in multiple theatres and domains.

Germany’s FM Maas makes a series of truly bizarre statements about Nordstream 2. USAF briefs on Arctic operations. In Russia, political turmoil over the negotiations with Japan – some fascinating observations by Solovey, Udaltsov and Makarkin.

More reports on Russia’s internal chaos, some quite remarkable. Borovoi reiterates a point others have made before. Armenia pondering Iranian rather than Russian gas supplies.

Most interesting developments in Belarus, with Pres Lukashenko suggesting he might source his crude oil, central to this nation’s economy, via the Baltic States rather than from Russia.

Updates on Kerch and Donbas in Ukraine, election politics, and the new GMLRS enters production.

A tumultuous week for the Middle East, and a great many reports on the Syria withdrawal, and related matters. More saber rattling from Tehran. Update on Israel.

DPRK seeks Chinese investment funding. PLA ASBM threats. Another Huawei exec arrested, while Beijing pressures Ottawa. China encourages Muslim Kazakhs to leave China.

Interesting developments in German and UK politics. Hungary instability continues. Reports regime in Venezuela is purging its military.

Capability updates mostly on programs.

IO/IW includes a package of reports on fake news.

US domestic reports include much argument over the replacement of former SECDEF Mattis, and Acting SECDEF Shanahan, and a great strategy analysis by LtGen Deptula. Manafort and his merry band of associates producing a lot of media traffic.

NATO / EU / Russia Reports

Germany protects interests of Ukraine by participating in Nord Stream 2 project – Maas
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has reiterated that Germany will be able to protect the interests of Ukraine by participating in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. — Ukrinform
Germany needs both Nord Stream 2 and transit through Ukraine
German Government Spokesperson Ulrike Demmer said this at a briefing in Berlin on Friday, an Ukrinform correspondent reported. “The role of Ukraine as a transit state should be preserved after 2019,” Demmer said. The German government considers Nord Stream 2 as an economic project, which, of course, has a political dimension. In turn, Germany’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Christoph Burger noted that within the framework of the intra-European discussion there were very different opinions among the member countries regarding the pipeline and the issue of energy security. According to him, the fact that gas supply from sources in the Baltic Sea region may cease in the foreseeable future affects not only Germany, therefore the Federal Republic of Germany conducts open discussions with its European partners. On Thursday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that “if German and European companies are ousted from the project, there will be no one left who continues to insist on preserving the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine.“
U.S. sanctions against Nord Stream 2 wrong solution: Germany’s Maas | Reuters
U.S. sanctions against the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline would be the wrong way to solve a dispute over energy supply, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday.
Germany Says U.S. Sanctions Against Gas Pipeline ‘Not The Way To Go’
U.S. sanctions against the Moscow-backed Nord Stream 2 natural-gas pipeline project would be the wrong way to solve a dispute over energy supply, according to German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
UK Defense Secretary sets sights on next century of British air power – Defence Blog
UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson sets sights on next century of British air power as major fighter jet milestones are reached. Speaking at RAF Marham, the Defense Secretary announced the UK now has nine F-35 Lightning jets ready to be deployed on operations around the world. The F-35 Lightnings will form the backbone of the UK’s combat air fleet alongside the Typhoon jets, which the Defence Secretary also announced have now been fitted with a state-of-the-art complex weapons suite to vastly increase its capability. Under ‘Project Centurion’, worth £425m over the past three years, the Typhoon now has deep strike cruise missile Storm Shadow, air-to-air missile Meteor and the precision attack missile Brimstone at their disposal. It means the jets have boosted capabilities to intercept airborne missiles and strike ground based targets, seamlessly taking over from the Tornado’s attack role as it nears retirement.
Air power and the Arctic: The importance of projecting strength in the north
The U.S. Air Force’s secretary and its chief of staff emphasize the geo-strategic importance of the Arctic in the face of great power competition.
‘Only Estonians Here’: Outrage After Election Poster Campaign Singles Out Russian Minority
A set of posters in Estonia appearing to advocate ethnic segregation has stoked anger among members of the country’s Russian minority and caused dormant ethnic tensions to resurface ahead of parlia…

UAWire – Japanese Prime Minister promises to conclude Kuril island negotiations with Russia
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has promised to make every effort to finish the current negotiations with Russia and sign a peace treaty, the …
Why Russia once again picks up on the issue of the Kuril Islands | UNIAN
Recently, the ex-leader of the “DPR” Igor Strikov (aka Girkin) spoke against the possible transfer to Japan of the group of the Southern Kuril Islands and announced his intention to set up mass protests in Moscow on January 19-20. I don’t believe that his words in this context have any independent significance, because his very figure as a factor of politics is nonsense and commenting on its statements is not worthwhile. In fact, the problem in the context of Russian-Japanese relations is much wider. Since World War 2, Japan has been trying to return under its jurisdiction the four islands of the Kuril ridge: Ithurup, Kunashir, Shikotan, and Habomai, which the USSR grabbed back in the day. And because of this fact, a peace treaty between Japan and Russia was never signed. In November last year, reports emerged stating that Japanese Prime Minister Sinzo Abe seems to be trying to accelerate talks with Russia on a pair of islands of the Kuril Archipelago – Habomai and Shikotan. At the same time, he allegedly promised Russian President Vladimir Putin that, in case of the transfer of these islands to Japan, no U.S. military bases will be set up there. I don’t believe that his words in this context have any independent significance, because his very figure as a factor of politics is nonsense and commenting on its statements is not worthwhile In particular, it is the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia literally summoned Japanese Ambassador Toyohisa Kodzuki that deserves attention. Russia complained that, in his statements, he distorts the arrangements reached between the two countries at the highest level concerning the Kuril Islands. Nevertheless, any hopes for some kind of warming in relations between the two states, as well as on the solution of Russia’s territorial issues, seem unlikely. After all, Japan today, at least in terms of security, almost completely relies on the United States – a strong military alliance exists between Tokyo and Washington. And because of this, most of Japan’s establishment is equally skeptical about any possible arrangements between Russia and Japan. Besides, in recent years, Russia’s attention to the Arctic and the Far East has only increased, which is why the military bases, forgotten in Soviet times, are being restored there, and Russia is spending huge amounts on them.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Raising Pension Age Undermined Putin’s Social Contract with Russians; Returning Kuriles Would End Patriotic One, Solovey Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 11 – The possible return to Japan of two small Kurile islands “would deal a fatal blow to the [Kremlin’s] electorate, Valery Solovey of MGIMO says. Even those most loyal to Putin would be furious. “The pension reform destroyed the social contract of the people ad power: the transfer of the islands would destroy the patriotic one.” Nevertheless, the commentator points out, there were few protests over the pension reform, and there would not be any protests at all if Vladimir Putin does go ahead and hand back the Kuriles in order to get a peace treaty with Japan and to break Russia’s current international isolation ( The editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta take up the same issue in a lead article today. They argue that “after the unpopular pension reform, Putin landed in a situation when he simply could not allow himself any new sharp reduction in his rating;” and that is exactly what handing over the Kuriles would lead to ( The Putin electorate, the editors suggest, “thinks and reacts quite simply. Even without understanding the vital importance of the Kuriles for Russia,” these Russians “intuitively will not accept concessions.” And unless the Kremlin takes steps to prepare the population for such an action, it will have the most negative impact on Putin’s rating. According to a Public Opinion Foundation poll last month, 77 percent of Russians in the country as aw hole and 84 percent of those in the Russian Far East say that “the Kuriles must not be handed over even in exchange for serious compensation.” And their reasons are ones Putin has not addressed. In his December press conference, Nezavisimaya gazeta continues, Putin “connected the resolution of the territorial dispute” with Japan with the presence in that country of American military bases. But polls show that for Russians, that is “not a key motive.” Only two percent mentioned that as a reason for their attitudes toward the transfer. “The majority of opponents of handing back the southern Kuriles explain their position in quite simple emotional and patriotic terms: ‘we shed blood for these lands,’ ‘they have been ours historically’ … and ‘we will not give up what is ours.’” Thus, the Russian population wants Putin to take a hard line and avoid compromises. And if he doesn’t, he is going to lose their support. “Forty-two percent declared that their attitude toward Putin in the event of handing over the islands would get worse. Everything thus depends on what the Kremlin really wants” and what it is prepared to sacrifice to get it, the editors argue. If Putin wants to go ahead with an agreement with Japan, he will have to work hard to convince its own population that this is a good idea. If he goes ahead without doing that preparatory work, he will see his ratings decline perhaps to levels that will call his legitimacy into question in ways that could spark the protests the pension debacle did not.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Returning Kuriles to Japan Could Do for Putin in 2019 What Raising Pension Age Did in 2018
Paul Goble Staunton, January 10 – The possibility that Vladimir Putin will agree to return the Kuriles to Japan, a step he clearly hopes will reduce Russia’s international isolation and bring in needed investment, has sparked anger across the Russian political spectrum and threatens to further drive down his approval rating among Russians. Indeed, returning the Kuriles, however useful geopolitically, could drive down Putin’s approval rating within Russia in much the same way his decision to raise the pension age did last year — and to do so from a much lower base which means that this could leave him with vastly less popular support and thus drive him to seek other ways to boost his approval. There are few obvious opportunities for that; and consequently, facing the prospect of declining support and increasing protests by Russians as they connect the dots of his policies and link what he is doing abroad to the declines in their own standard of living, Putin could adopt an even more repressive approach, setting the stage for potentially violent clashes. Putin has only himself to blame. On the one hand, he has made the defense of the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation a key part of his political program; and so it should not have been a surprise to him that Russians would reject returning the islands to Japan all the more so because they were trophies from what they call “the Great Patriotic War.” And on the other, he has had the opportunity to observe the problem in miniature when a deal Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov with Moscow’s backing forced on Ingushetia’s Yunus-Bek Yevkurov sparked a month of protests that have grown to include demands that Yevkurov leave office. Three of what are a flood of articles suggesting Putin may have already gone too far in talks with the Japanese about the Kurile islands include the following: First, the LDPR has introduced a draft bill in the Duma that would block any transfer without a referendum, something the Kremlin might very well lose ( Second, commentator Sergey Udaltsov says picks up an argument Ingush opponents of the Yevkurov-Kadyrov accord have made: “the fate of the Kuriles,” he says, “must be decided by the people and not by Kremlin traders” who are willing to sacrifice the nation’s interests for their own ( And third, Moscow political analyst Aleksey Makarkin says bluntly what many Russians appear to be thinking: “The people value the Kuriles more than the powers that be do;” and public opinion will block any concessions Putin may be ready to make to Tokyo on the matter (

Russia / Russophone Reports

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Even When Putin Tells the Truth, Russians Now Don’t Believe Him, Gozman Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 10 – Earlier this week, Vladimir Putin shared with Russians that he had received the military rank in Soviet times of lieutenant of artillery, something that is almost certainly true given the nature of that system, Leonid Gozman says; but what is interesting is not Putin’s remark but rather how Russians have reacted to it. In an Ekho Moskvy commentary, the opposition politician says that “even when [the Kremlin leader] speaks the truth, [Russians] don’t believe him,” if one is to judge by the jokes made at his expense and the slighting comments on the Internet “and on all not completely censored media” about his claims ( Putin is thus finally having to pay the bill for all the lies he has told in the past, about Russian forces not being in Crimea, about their lack of involvement in the shooting down of the Boing, and about all the other things which he has said over the last 20 years that have turned out to be not true. “For the thinking part of the country,” Gozman continues, “whatever he says is now white noise,” something that is always in the background but that can be ignored because it is so distant from reality. When a leader passes this Rubicon, when the people living under him assume he is lying rather than just being skeptical about his words, that is a major change. And that deprives him of one of the most important resources a leader needs, the ability to set the agenda in a manner that his own people will find convincing. When Putin or any other leader loses that, he has lost more than just the reputation of a truth teller: he has lost a key part of his power. Gozman’s observation does not mean that all Russians are this skeptical. They almost certainly are not. But enough now are that Putin is unlikely ever to be able to recover the trust of those who believe he lies on big things and small. They are lost to him and his regime, and both he and it are all the weaker for that development.
Chain reaction: Russian politician explains how Russia could implode | UNIAN
Russian opposition’s Konstantin Borovoi says there are several dozens of factors that could lead to an explosion of public anger in Russia and cause a chain reaction. Borovoi says a spontaneous social fallout could start from trivial things. Russian opposition’s Konstantin Borovoi says there are several dozens of factors that could lead to an explosion of public anger in Russia and cause a chain reaction. “Now there are several processes ongoing in Russia that could spark a chain reaction, which in turn could lead to an explosion of public contempt: this is the truckers’ strike, as well as the latest events in Dagestan and Ingushetia [territorial disputes between Federation subjects]. That is, almost any event in Russia could cause such reaction,” the politician told the Fakty newspaper. According to the politician, the Kremlin is very concerned about this, while remaining unable to predict what exactly could trigger major social unrest. Borovoi says a spontaneous social fallout could start from trivial things. Read alsoRFE/RL: Putin endorses law establishing jail time for luring minors into protests “The Kremlin is now making all possible efforts to prevent this from happening, or at least to retain control over the process. However, not everything depends on them. Of course, they are pro-active, constantly increasing the number of security agencies. In this way, they’re trying to protect themselves,” he said. “But at the same time, by such actions, the Kremlin is creating additional provoking factors. For example, tomorrow some failed suppression of protests could entail serious repercussion which would only aggravate the situation. And this could happen at any time,” the politician added.
The Week In Russia: New Year, Old Problems
Here are some of the key developments in Russia over the past week and some of the takeaways going forward.
TASS: Science & Space – Roscosmos chief says US visit cancelled because ‘second American civil war’ underway
According to Dmitry Rogozin, NASA has fallen victim to a domestic struggle in the US and the entire situation with the sanctions lists is «an outrage»
The lawmaker behind some of Russia’s latest draconian legislation offers his own questionable ideas about defamation and corruption — Meduza
Andrey Klishas, the chairman of the Federation Council’s Legislation Committee and the author of multiple controversial draft laws, has granted an interview to the newspaper Novaya Gazeta. What follows is a paraphrased summary of his comments, with fact-checked corrections highlighted and in parentheses.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Generals Want a Third Chechen War Because They Feel Putin Stole Their Victory in the Second, Zakayev Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 10 – Akhmed Zakayev, prime minister of the Ichkeria government in exile, says that many Russian generals want a third war in Chechnya because they believe Vladimir Putin stole their victory in the second by handing over control of the republic to Raman Kadyrov. And to push their cause, he says, the generals are behind a media campaign that seeks to blame Kadyrov and the Chechens for all the misfortunes of Russia, effectively making him into “a scapegoat” that must be removed from the scene if those ills are to be overcome ( Unfortunately, Zakhayev says, the generals’ campaign finds wide support among Russians across the political spectrum who display “a rare unanimity – the Chechens must be conquered and destroyed.” They all start from the premise that Chechnya is not under Russian control and that it must be returned to that state. Russia’s “military and security service officers are certain that their victory was stolen from them” when Putin agreed to give power to the Kadyrovs in exchange for their loyalty to his person. For the siloviki, that approach is offensive because they believe the Chechens and Chechnya should have been handed over to them to do with as they like. One consequence of this, the Icherkia prime minister says, is that “many in Chechnya are grateful to Kadyrov” because “they consider that the current rulers of Chechnya have defended them from the Russian military” which behaved so atrociously in their republic in the earlier part of this century. “Kadyrov’s Chechnya is Putin’s child, his political platform,” Zakayev says. As long as Putin’s policy in the North Caucasus remains in place, a policy which Kadyrov embodies, Kadyrov will remain in place as well. The Russian officers would also like a new war to boost them to higher ranks. The Chechen leader says that he has information that “Russian generals at their celebrations raise the first bottle to the third Chechen military campaign,” something they can’t have as long as Putin protects Kadyrov. In Russia today, “the military and the FSB support Putin in everything but Chechnya.” Kadyrov is hardly the man Zakayev would like to see in power in Grozny, but he has protected the Chechens against the worst of the Russian military. And some of the things he has said and done reflect his “age and a lack of normal education” rather than ill will.” Objectively, the Chechen leader says, one must admit that Kadyrov too is a victim of Russian action.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Five Things have Changed in Russia in Last Year and Five have Not, Kalachev Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 8 – In a wide-ranging, 5,000-word interview in Kazan’s Business-Gazeta, Moscoc commentator Konstantin Kalachev says that over the last year, five significant things have changed in Russia, but five equally significant ones have not, a pattern likely to continue in 2019 and make the situation worse ( The five things he says have changed include: 1. A growing sense among all Russians that the old model of the system based on confrontation with the West and of Russia as a besieged fortress has exhausted itself without a new model having been put in place or even thought up. 2. Russians feel that the views them with hostility, that there is among powerful a sense of “we” versus “they” – and ordinary Russians feel they are very much the latter. 3. For Russians, Putin is no longer a “sacred” figure and the notion that he is a good tsar surrounded by bad boyars is not believed. 4. Russians have come to believe that elections matter and can change the situation, something few believed in in the past. 5. Russians had hoped that Putin could refocus from foreign policy his passion to domestic issues affecting them but no longer believe he can. The five things Kalachev says have NOT changed include: 1. The Putin elite distrusts the population just as much as it ever did. 2. The opposition continues to suffer because it denies that Putin has done anything positive. “For them, he is evil.” But the majority of the population does not accept that view given that they have voted for him and that he has brought them benefits in the past. 3. The distance from protest attitudes to protest actions remains “enormous” and “when people say they are ready to protest, that doesn’t mean that tomorrow they will go out into the square.” 4. Opposition to regional amalgamation remains as strong as ever, something Putin has effectively acknowledged by saying that it will only happen if it is approved by referendum in each case. 5. Putin remains “the chief moral authority and holder of all the threads of real administration.” Given this pattern, Kalachev says, it is possible Putin will leave office before 2024 but “he will maintain control over the country.” As for what will come in the next 12 months, he continues, “pessimists say that it cannot get worse, but optimists say they can. I am an optimist,” the Moscow analyst says.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians are Turning Away from Putin’s TV Channels Even on New Year’s Eve
Paul Goble Staunton, January 5 – It has long been a tradition in Russia that people watch central television on New Year’s Eve, but this year Russians turned away from Russia-1 and the First Channel in significant numbers, choosing to watch other channels or even no television at all. Given the centrality of TV in the Putin system, this is a significant political development. Just over about six million Russians watched First Channel on New Year’s Eve, more than 500,000 fewer than a year earlier, and about the same number watched Russia-1, more than 220,000 fewer than in 2017 ( and This decline happened even though both channels went out of their way to feature pop culture favorites. But Russians did not give up watching television altogether: they simply turned to other channels. STS, which featured a Urals variety show saw its audience jump from 814,000 viewers a year ago to 2.2 million this year.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Cossacks Vastly More Diverse than Putin Regime Acknowledges
Paul Goble Staunton, January 7 – Reflecting its general impulse to homogenize and control all aspects of life in Russia and relying on the ignorance of many in that country and elsewhere about Russian history and Russian realities, the Putin regime has been promoting an image of the Cossacks that is wildly at variance with the rich and diverse tapestry of their national life. To hear Putin’s propagandists tell it, the Cossacks are all Orthodox, all Russian, and all dedicated servants of the Russian state. While all of these things are true of some Cossacks, none is true for all of them, as Yaroslav Butakov points out in a new article about “Cossacks You’ve Never Heard About” ( And while even this historian’s listing of what will strike many as “bizarre” is far from complete, it shows that the Cossacks have played and continue to play a more diverse and syncretic role in Russian life, one that would have been far less important if the Soviets had succeeded with their “de-Cossackization” effort or if Putin succeeds with his Procrustean one. Butakov discusses ten Cossack hosts few have heard of and two more “extravagant” projects to set up even more. The first of these is the Mershchersky Cossacks who emerged in the 15th century in the Ryazan area and included numerous representatives of various Finno-Ugric peoples, including Finns and Maris. The second is the Bashkir-Meshcher host, which included Muslim Bashkirs, Tatars and Kyrgyz-Kaysaks, a group that emerged at the end of the 18th century and was suppressed in 1864 by being combined into the Orenburg Cossacks, many of whom remained Muslims instead of converting to Orthodox Christianity. The third is the Volga Host, organized in the early 18th century to defend against the Nogays but disbanded after many of its members took part in the Pugachev’s uprising in 1773-1775. The fourth are the Kalmyk Host which was made up of Buddhists. It existed from the 18th century until 1842, but even after it was disbanded, many Buddhists remained in Cossack units. The fifth is the Greek-Albanian Host, organized during the Russian wars with the Ottoman Empire and consisting of both Christians and Muslims. It was disbanded after many of its members simply walked away from Russian service to engage in what had been their traditional form of economic activity, trade. The sixth Cossack host on this list is the Crimean Tatar force. After occupying Crimea in 1783, Catherine the Great created a new Cossack force consisting of Muslim Tatars from that peninsula. Paul I disbanded it, but it reappeared in 1827 as the Life Guard Crimean Tatar Squadron. The seventh was the Bug Host, a structure formed during the Russo-Turkish war of 1768-1774 and consisting of a variety of non-Russian and non-Orthodox peoples – Moldovans, Vlahs, Greeks, Serbs and Bulgars. The eighth was the Danube Host which was formed a little later but on the same basis. The ninth was the Azov Host was formed by refugees from the Ottoman Empire in 1825 as an attack force. And the tenth, the last of these to be formed, was the Euphrates Host. Created in 1916 by Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolayevich, it consisted of both Cossacks from Russia proper and local people from the Middle East. Butakov notes that at the end of the 19th century, military strategists in Russia made plans to create Cossack hosts abroad in Manchuria and Eastern Turkestan again consisting of a mix of Cossacks and local people, most of whom were Muslims or animist. But the revolution intervened and these plans were never carried out.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Scholars View Russians and Non-Russians as the Objects rather than the Subjects of History; Non-Russians Must Not, Historian Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 7 – Cheboksary historian Sergey Shcherbakov says that unfortunately Russian scholars and following them ordinary Russians view both Russians and non-Russians as the objects of history rather than its subjects. Non-Russians must not; and to that end, they must develop their own academies of sciences and other scholarly centers. In a wide-ranging interview with Ersubay Yangarov of the IdelReal portal, Shcherbakov argues that Chuvashia must reverse a decision taken 15 years ago to strip its Academy of Sciences of a state status both to counter this Russian perspective and to promote the alternative ( Scholarship should be super-national, the historian says; but “when the existential vector of research is directed at recognizing its place in this global world, then scholarship can and must be national.” That is certainly the case of the Chuvash and other non-Russians living within the current borders of the Russian Federation. “All-Russian academic thought studies peoples of the country as the object but not the subject of the historical process.” That is wrong for Russians and for non-Russians alike – and the latter must promote the idea that they are all subjects of history, capable of making their own way in the world rather than remaining in the shadow of larger ethnic communities. The Chuvash nation needs not a scientific center which is a branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences but its own academy. Any federal center will “fulfill common federal tasks.” For the study of the nation’s unique characteristics, Shcherbakov says, there must be one under exclusive local control. “The Chuvash republic public organization, ‘the Chuvash National academy of Science and Arts’ which we now have could be such a center,” he says; but it needs financing in order to be able to attract and hold the best professionals necessary to train the rising generation and inform the population at large. One of the first order tasks of any Chuvash academy is to prepare a serious history of the nation, one that treats it not as a subordinate and “second class” group of people but rather as a group that to the best of its ability has been acting as a subject of history and not just the object of the actions of others. Only if Chuvash think in that way will they be able to make their own history in the future, rather than existing as many of them now are and waiting for others to make their history for them, the scholar concludes.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: One Russian in Four Lacks an Indoor Toilet, One of Many Signs There are Now ‘Four Distinct Russias’
Paul Goble Staunton, January 7 — According to a new report by Russia’s state statistical agency, Rosstat, 35 million Russians live in houses or apartments without indoor toilets, 47 million do not have hot water, 29 million don’t have any running water inside their residences, and 22 million do not have central heating ( In fact, only 62.7 percent of the Russian population has the usual accoutrements of modern existence – water in the house, plumbing, heating and gas or electric ranges, Rosstat says, a fact that must seem incredible to those who visit only Moscow or St. Petersburg but a fact of life for those who lives beyond the ring roads of the capitals. Russian blogger Oleg Borovsky says that the image many have of Russia as one unified country is wrong. “In Russia today, there are practically no cities except for Moscow. Even St. Petersburg is beginning to recall places in distant regions, half-abandoned settlements, and aging infrastructure ( With regard to other “cities,” he continues, there is “nothing to say: there degradation and decline are obvious literally to the unaided eye. It is sufficient to go 50 versts from Moscow and you will see that there the snow isn’t cleaned from the streets (even in Moscow oblast!) let alone all the rest” of the trash. Because people in these places cannot get medical attention or education or good jobs, they are forced to move to Moscow or, failing that, to St. Petersburg. In those cities, there is a chance, admittedly only a chance to get these things and to be in a position to defend oneself against officialdom. “In the provinces, the ordinary man is a nonentity. And any attempt to achieve something often will end with big problems for him. In the best case, he won’t get what he hopes for; in the worst, he risks his freedom or even his life,” Borovsky continues. As a result, those who can leave these places do. First of all they move from rural areas to oblast centers: In some oblasts, such as Novgorod, there are only a few thousand people left outside the city. Then, they move to Moscow. And the rest of the country suffers from the worst kind of “anti-Darwinian natural selection.” Those left behind are “alcoholics, invalids, and pensioners,” he suggests. That has important national security implications, Borovsky continues. If someone attacked Russia now, “then in a number of places there wouldn’t be anyone left to defend or even organize a partisan war.” And many who are in these places would “welcome the invaders with flowers and embraces – or at a minimum, remain indifferent.” Russia is emptying out, while Moscow is growing like a tumor, a trend that is leading to the disintegration of the country. In fact, he argues, “the disintegration of Rsusia is “ALREADY going on. It is a fact” with the country divided into four parts: the metropolitan center (Moscow), the provinces (Moscow oblast), the periphery (oblasts adjoining Moscow oblast), and “the colonies – the entire country beyond that. Moscow “really lives,” Borovsky says. The provinces “survive” because of their closeness to Moscow as does to a less extent the periphery. But “the colonies are emptying out and will continue to do so unless something radically changes. Given that “nature does not love a vacuum,” someone else, someone foreign, will eventually come into them. Right now, however, “a real demographic reformatting of Russia is taking place,” as a result of which everything and everyone is being concentrated within “a radius of 200 kilometers around Moscow.” Russians are leaving everywhere else. Consequently, within this century, we will see the disintegration of Russia. And what is the most horrible thing about this, Borovsky concludes, is that “those chiefly responsible for this process are located inside of Russia” because “what is taking place in Russia is the result of the absolutely insane, inept and incompetent administration of the country.” It is certainly not the work of foreigners, however pleased they may be.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Net Migration to Russia Lowest Since End of Soviet Times, Experts Say
Paul Goble Staunton, January 10 – During the last year, Russia attracted fewer immigrants from abroad and saw more of those already there leave than in any post-Soviet year, experts say, leading to a net decline that reflected among other things the problems of the Russian economy and failed to compensate for the natural decline of the indigenous Russian population. Nezavisimaya gazeta journalist Anatoly Komrakov says that migrants far earlier than Russian experts took note of the fact that the Russian economy is not as attractive as it was and shows little signs of recovering its status as a magnet in the future ( Moreover, the continuing devaluation of the ruble makes work in Russia less attractive; and those Russian employers now have less money to hire migrants or anyone else, the journalist continues. “As a result, the flow of migrants into the Russian Federation established a unique anti-record” last year. The number of migrants coming into Russia fell 42.5 percent from the first quarter of 2017 to the first quarter of 2018, and the number who left rose by 22 percent between those two periods, dramatically pushing down the totals. Experts expect that total net migration into Russia during 2018 will be 120,000, the lost since before 1991. As of December 1, Komrakov says, there were 9.93 million foreigners in Russia, the vast majority (84 percent) from CIS countries, primarily the Central Asian states but also Ukraine. Immigration from the latter fell sharply from the previous years, but that alone doesn’t explain the overall pattern which shows declines in immigration from all the countries involved. Ukrainian and Moldovan workers are increasingly looking to move to Europe rather than Russia, Yulia Florinskaya of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service says, while declines from the Central Asian countries reflect not only Russia’s domestic problems but improved economic conditions in most of the donor states. Vyacheslav Postavin, head of the 21st Century Migration Foundation, points to yet another cause: Russian immigration law became sharply more restrictive after 12 years of a relatively liberal approach. As a result, potential immigrants had to go over far higher hurdles than in the immediate past. He points to two other causes, both likely to last whatever happens in Russia: First, “for the young” in the CIS countries, “the Russian Federation and Russian already are not so close as they were to previous generations who had the experience of living in a single country, the USSR.” Young people now are more likely to study English and Chinese rather than Russian. And second, Postavin continues, “Russia has become a hostage of the birthrates in the republics of Central Asia.” Those have been falling and so there is a declining pool of young people for whom those countries have to find jobs and thus far fewer who are likely to be inclined to move abroad. Despite the declining numbers of migrant workers in Russia, their remittances home have again begun to rise. For the first three quarters of 2018, they sent 9.8 billion US dollars home. In 2017 for the entire year, they sent 12.9 percent but in the “pre-crisis” year of 2014, they dispatched 19 billion.
One Russian in Four Lacks an Indoor Toilet, One of Many Signs There are Now ‘Four Distinct Russias’ – Johnson’s Russia List
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Essentially Defenseless Against Ethnic, Sex and Age Discrimination in the Workplace
Paul Goble Staunton, January 8 – Discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender or age is illegal in Russia, but those who face such discrimination have few legal recourses, Ivan Ovsyannikov says; and as a result, despite the formal prohibitions, few cases about it have been successfully brought and thus discrimination of all kinds is flourishing in the Russian Federation. In a report for, the Russian journalist says that it is “practically impossible” for a worker to show that his rights have been violated. “The existing legal mechanisms in practice are applied extremely rarely,” and judges seldom give much compensation to victims (россия-работники-беззащитны-перед-лицом-дискриминации). Ethnic discrimination is especially widespread. Many managers do not want to hire non-Slavs and the few who are hired are not promoted even when they are rated more successful than their ethnic Russian fellow workers, Ovsyannikov says. Open expression of contempt for non-Slavs is quite widespread, but few non-Russians have turned to the courts for redress. “Moscow and Petersburg employers prefer to have employees with Slavic, German or Jewish names and reject applicants of Caucasian, Central Asian and Tatar origin. The latter are invited for interviews on average 30 to 35 percent less often than are Russians, for example,” the journalist continues. (For documentation, see Women are also subjected to discrimination in the workplace on a regular basis. They receive on average 27.9 percent less pay than men, compared to a worldwide average of 20.5 percent (—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_650553.pdf). Many male managers are reluctant to hire women because they fear they will take time off to raise children, they give them fewer opportunities to develop their skills, and are far less likely to promote women, even when they are the most qualified, Ovsyannikov says. There is even an informal quota system in many workplaces: one woman is OK, two is too much. The increase in the pension age this year increased the possibility that workers would be discriminated against because of age. The Duma passed a law banning it, but so far there is little indication that it has prevented the propensity of employers to sidetrack or even fire older and more expensive workers in favor of younger ones. Despite widespread discrimination of all these kinds, it is very difficult for workers to prove discrimination in Russian courts, the journalist continues, in part because in contrast to many other countries, the burden of proof lies entirely on the worker and therefore judges are often inclined to dismiss such claims. And even when the courts do find for the complainants, they do little to help them. They seldom ensure compensation for more than “moral” harm and do not even guarantee the individual will get his position back. The case of the Aeroflot stewardesses was a happy exception to this pattern, but even they got only 5,000 rubles (70 US dollars) in compensation. Another form of discrimination, a list of professions women are not allowed in, is currently the subject of much complaint and government review. The authorities have cut the number of such professions from 456 to 78, but activists say there should not be any such list at all.
How old were you when you realized the Russian people’s disastrous situation? A Neo-Nazi’s worried lawyer hits a national nerve — Meduza
Let’s begin with a warning: social media is a lousy place to gauge the way Russians feel about themselves. If Max Reed’s recent article for New York Magazine (“How Much of the Internet Is Fake? Turns Out, a Lot of It, Actually”) didn’t nudge you into an existential crisis as an Internet user, it’s at least reason enough to second guess the clicks, views, and impressions we use to measure value online. Cyberspace is awash in bots, farms, fakes, phonies, and can you believe that my December 28 tweet asking “At what age did you realize the Russian people’s disastrous situation?” amassed 67,233 impressions? That includes 1,148 total engagements and 111 replies, folks! Which is perhaps as close as we’ll ever come to unraveling the Russian soul. Scientifically.
Russia media watchdog investigates BBC website over IS quotes – BBC News
The Russian media regulator says it will review the BBC’s output for compliance with its licence.
Russia Investigates BBC For Airing What It Calls ‘Extremist Ideology’
Russia’s media regulator says it is investigating whether British broadcaster BBC has broken Russian law by allegedly promoting Islamist extremism.
Pavel Durov to liquidate Telegram Messenger LLP – media | UNIAN
Pavel Durov liquidates the company Telegram Messenger LLP, that’s according to the data put in the British State Register of Legal Entities. Experts suggest the move will not affect the ongoing blocking of the messenger in Russia.
Prison Guards In Russia Suffer From ‘Moral Fatigue,’ Official Says
Amid a continuing debate about the dire conditions in Russian prisons and repeated cases of torture there, a top official from Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) says its workers are suff…
World Anti-Doping Agency To Gain Access To Russian Laboratory This Week
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is to be granted access Russia’s anti-doping laboratory in Moscow this week to retrieve data it had earlier been denied.
Still No Word On Location, Fate Of Abducted Russian Sailors Off West Africa Coast
The whereabouts of six Russian sailors abducted by pirates in the dangerous waters off the West African coast are still unknown, Russian officials say.
Russian Woman’s #MeToo Story Highlights Fear Of Speaking Out
Vladivostok journalist Yekaterina Fedorova has gone public with charges that she was raped by a prominent local businessman. She says she feels obligated to speak out as a warning to other women.
Russian Women Are Fighting May Be Winning The War Of The Sexes – To Inform is to Influence
Stereotypical views about women are changing in Russia, albeit very slowly. Russian women are fighting about how they are viewed in Russia in new and unique ways. Here are classic Soviet films overprinted with somewhat progressive female retorts. Not exactly hilarious stuff but it is thought-provoking. I hope the over-macho male response from the Russian government is somewhat muted. </end editorial
Russian Protest Artist Pavlensky Faces Arson Trial In Paris
A court in Paris is set to begin hearings in the arson case of Russian political performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Karelia Doesn’t Want to Unite with Finland but to Be Independent, Tuomi Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 9 – Karelia does not aspire to unite with Finland but rather to have an independent existence, something few in Moscow are prepared to recognize or discuss because those in the Russian capital do not recognize the unique multi-ethnic community that exists in the republic and that aspires to an independent existence, Andrey Tuomi says. “When talking about contemporary Karelia,” the Karelian activist says, “we must understand that we are talking about a completely unique community of people, a symbiosis of various national-cultural traditions … and not about an amusement part and favorite resort for Petersburgers and Muscovites” ( And because people in the two Russian capitals view things that way, they assume that any Karelian demand for autonomy and self-determination is nothing more than a cover for a program of joining the republic to Finland. They assume that Karelians and Finns are the same nation, something that simply is not true. There are several “simple but important” ways in which Karelia and Finland are “very different territories which are in no way drawn toward one another so as to become a single state,” Tuomi continues. The first of these is that “the Karels are a separate, completely independent people,” in no way a part of any other Finno-Ugric nation. Despite some similarities with the Finns, “the Karels have their own unique culture, customs and traditions,” he says. Most of them have a different religion, and all of them have “a different mentality, a different character, and even different external signs” that set them apart from the Finns and other Finno-Ugric nations. Even when the borders between the two peoples were more open, “Karels did not mix with Finns, did not change their religion and did not change their way of life.” Some moved and assimilated just as some Finns did, but this is “typical” for all peoples who live in a border zone, Tuomi says. Of course, the number of ethnic Karels in the republic is “today very small.” Most of the republic’s population consists of Slavic peoples, “above all, Russians, Belarusians and Ukrainians.” But “these are far from being the same Russian show live in the Russian basin, beyond the Urals or in the western oblasts of the Russian Federation.” And equally they are far from being the same as Belarusians who live in their own country or Ukrainians who live in theirs. Thus, the people of Karelia are “a different ethnic community which in must other cultures, Karel and Pomor, have formed. The mixture of these cultures and blood in Karelia is so deep” that one can speak about “citizens of Karelia.” One indication of this is that residents of the republic speak of themselves as being Karelians both within the republic and beyond its borders rather than identifying primarily as members of this or that nationality. Second, there is no possibility for the Karelians and the Finns to unite because they exist “not simply in different economic and social conditions but also live today in completely different eras and dimensions,” Tuomi continues. Neither Karelia nor Finland needs unity. It would have “catastrophic consequences” for both. Karelia lags behind Finland several decades, “not only economically, technologically, politically and socially,” he says, but “mentally as well.” It would take decades for that to be overcome given that Finns would continue to move forward even as Karelians rushed to catch up. Third, “the unification of Karelia and Finland into a single state is impossible because Finland’s attitude toward Karelia is significantly distinguished form the attitude of the federal center. If Moscow views Karelia simply as its own territory and part of the empire, the Finns see it above all as a sovereign and unique republic and even a bridge between the western and eastern parts of the Finno-Ugric world.” Finns don’t want to absorb anyone, including the Karels; and they feel they would be putting themselves at risk by expanding, he continues. Helsinki certainly has no aspirations to “take back” even those parts of Karelia the Soviets seized after the Winter War. Finns are not willing to take on the burden of bringing these regions up to Finnish standards. Both in the wake of the collapse of the Russian Empire and of the USSR, the Karelians pursued not union with Finland but rather an independent existence; and even today, most of them see no other future for their land other than as “an independent, sovereign state living in peace and concord with similarly sovereign states.” At present, Tuomi says, Karelians “have all the conditions” to achieve that goals, “except for the main one: recognition that we are in a position and have the right to independently decide and choose our path of development. I hope,” he concludes, “that this is only a question of time.”
The Horror Of Russia’s Civil War
Rarely seen images captured by American Red Cross photographers reveal one of the darkest periods of Russia’s history accompanying the disintegration of an empire.
Anatoly Lukyanov, Imprisoned After Failed 1991 Soviet Coup, Dies At 88
Anatoly Lukyanov, a former Communist Party official who was imprisoned after the failed 1991 coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, has died at age 88.
‘My Child Was Hanging By The Sheets’: Survivors’ Stories From Magnitogorsk
In the wake of a deadly apartment block explosion in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk, those who escaped are grateful to be alive.
Poignant Memories At Funerals For Magnitogorsk Blast Victims
“Before New Year, they sent me a video where he is next to Father Frost, reciting a poem.” Relatives and friends have been sharing their memories as funerals took place for those killed in an apartment block collapse following an explosion on New Year’s Eve in Magnitogorsk, Russia.
What do Satan, soccer, black cats, Russian Orthodox Patriarchs and judo wrestling have in common? Why do you need to care about the Russian literature? Indictments are only the cherry on top of this…
Mammoth Hunters Probe Permafrost For ‘Ethical Ivory’
In Russia’s remote Sakha-Yakutia region, the frozen ground is studded with the remains of prehistoric mammoths. Their tusks are worth a fortune to traders in China, where the sale of elephant ivory was banned in late 2017.
Chelyabinsk Man Teaches The Beauty Of The Banya
Ivan Boyarintsev gave up city life hosting events to teach others how to run a traditional banya, or sauna, in Chelyabinsk, Russia. He now offers courses from beginner level to master classes and believes the banya can give meaning to his life and the lives of others.

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports

UAWire – Armenia considers buying Iranian gas instead of Russian
Acting Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that the authorities of the country will discuss the possibility of purchasing gas from Iran. …
UAWire – Kazakhstan raises the price for Russian oil transit to China
Kazakhstan has increased the cost of oil transportation from Russian through Kazakhstan to China by a third, reported;with …
Ethnic Tensions Mount In Kazakh City After Man Killed In Brawl
Some 200 protesters have rallied in the central Kazakh city of Qaraghandy, demanding “justice” after a Kazakh man was killed in a brawl in a local restaurant in the early hours of 2019.

Belarus Reports

UAWire – Belarusian President Lukashenko threatens to break off alliance with Russia
Russia risks losing its “sole ally” in the west, Belarus, if it refuses to compensate Minsk for the losses arising from a Russian tax maneuver in the oil sector, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko told Interfax in an interview. According to Lukashenko, if the monetary dispute with Russia’s leaders is not resolved, it will not be a catastrophe for Belarus. The amount in question is in the region of $400 million per year, the amount that the Belarusian budget earns from the fact that Russian oil is sold in the country at a favorable price – without any export tariff, after which it is processed and resold in Russia as petrol and oil products. This arrangement could be ruined by a new tax maneuver by Russia’s Finance Ministry, which proposes to drop the export tariff for all buyers of Russian oil, but to raise mineral tax instead. As a result, the Belarusian State Concern for Oil and Chemistry estimates that oil will cost Belarus $20 more per ton, which will radically decrease the profitability of the Belarusian refineries. During talks with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin ahead of the New Year, to which Lukashenko brought four sacks of potatoes as a gift, the Belarusian President was unable to obtain compensation for the declining revenue. “Don’t think that this is a catastrophe,” Lukashenko said on Thursday, commenting on the outcome of his meeting with Putin. “If Russia’s leadership chooses such a way forward and the loss of its sole ally in the western area, it’s their choice. We can’t force them,” he added. “Earning an additional $400 million will not be a problem for Belarus,” Lukashenko believes. “According to parity of purchasing power, as is now the customary way of calculating, Belarus’s GDP is around $80 billion. What is the problem here? There isn’t one,” he said. Lukashenko emphasized that any alliance between the countries could only take place as equals. “If there is no equitable basis, there is no alliance. Everything must take place on an equitable basis, and for this, both nations must be willing – the Russian Federation and Belarus. And so, for many reasons, you understand yourself that there is no question of the two states unifying,” he said. Moscow has also accumulated claims against Minsk, and trust has been lost, observed Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov on December 25: “Sanctions are heading our way, excisable goods – cigarettes, are filling our markets”. In November, Lukashenko refused to authorized the deployment of a Russian aerospace base in Belarus, saying that it would create risks for Belarus and put Minsk “under a possible aggressor”.
Belarus President Lukashenko Bristles At Russia Over Oil – To Inform is to Influence
Belarus is in an unenviable position between the West and Russia Russia has increased the price of oil, costing Belarus billions of dollars in lost revenue. Lukashenko just threatened Putin with the loss of “its only ally in the West” if Russia does not compensate Belarus. Lukashenko also ordered officials to find alternate sources of revenue. I believe it is time for the West to offer Belarus assistance. </end editorial>
Belarusian Leader Warns Russia Over Energy Dispute
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has warned Russia that it could lose its ally if Moscow fails to offer Minsk compensation for higher oil prices.
Lukashenko proposes to supply oil to Belarus through Baltic countries –
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has requested the government to work out the issue of the alternatives of the oil supply through Baltic countries instead of Russia as BELTA reported. It is planned to finish the upgrading of two Belarusian oil refineries in 2019 and it will become possible to purchase oil for further processing not only from the Russian Federation. “I have requested this task for a long time ago and it is necessary to solve it: to open alternative oil supply through Baltic ports. If Lithuanians do not agree, then we will agree with Latvians and purchase oil. We will process it at Novopolotsk refinery and provide the Baltic States with oil,” Lukashenko said. According to him, it will be cheaper for the Baltic State than now, when they buy oil products at world prices. “It is possible to agree that it will be our joint oil, which we process at upgraded Novopolotsk refinery. Moreover, we already have some possibilities for it,” Lukashenko noted. Besides, the president urged not to hyperbolize the issues connected with the losses of the Belarusian budget due to the tax maneuver of Russia and to search for other sources, which will compensate these negative aspects.
In Diplomatic ‘Breakthrough,’ Belarus Removes Limit On U.S. Envoys Allowed In Minsk
The U.S. journal Foreign Policy reports that Belarus has lifted a long-standing limit on the number of U.S. diplomats allowed in the country.
Lukashenko: Rumors of Belarus-Russia unification far-fetched | UNIAN
Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko says talks about Belarus merging with Russia are stupid and far-fetched. The Belarusian leader believes the union of Belarus and Russia can grow only on an equal footing.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Visiting Belarus See No Compelling Reason for Uniting the Two Countries
Paul Goble Staunton, January 7 – Russian tourist continue to flock to Belarus for vacations, and those the Belarusian news agency interviewed on the streets of Minsk recently saw no reason for the two countries to combine given that things are fine as they are now. Indeed, many of them indicated that they really don’t understand what Moscow officials are talking about in this case. Mariya and Maksim came to Minsk from Kazan with their children. They said that the standard of living in Minsk is roughly equal to that in Kazan, although they noted that some Muscovites feel Belarusians have a much lower one than they do. Both said they saw no reason for the two countries to fuse (news. Irina and Yevgeny from Nizhny Novgorod said that they’d be happy if there were a single currency – then they wouldn’t have to calculate prices – but they saw no reason for the formation of a single state, especially if Belarusians don’t want one. “Let’s just be good neighbors,” they said, rather than trying for something different. Igor and Sergey, from St. Petersburg, said they had very positive impressions of Belarus and Belarusians. “We’ve never met more hospitable people. And they all knew that we came from Russia. Therefore,” the two aid, “relations between people and politics do not intersect,” at least in this case. Alfiya and her daughter from Vladimir have travelled widely but never spent time in Belarus before. According to them, the average Russian thinks about Belarus primarily in terms of the high-quality products from its factories. Their relatives always buy Belarusian shoes, for example. They said that all the talk in Moscow about “closer integration” seems to them to be “very strange. Why? We think that things as they are are fine.” They added that “Minsk seemed to them to be a European city, and Belarusians quiet well-behaved brother Slavs. Mikhail and Tatyana came to Minsk from near Moscow with their son Timofey. They said it was “extremely difficult to compare it with Europe.” However, what they said they liked best about Belarus was the absence of advertising signs.” With us they are everywhere and we are fed up.” You have fewer – and that is “a plus for you.” Belarusians and Russians are close but not the same. It used to be, they indicated, that Russians viewed Ukrainians in the same way, but that is no longer so. Tatyana’s mother for example was listed ass a Belarusian in her birth certificate, Russian in her Komsomol ticket, and Ukrainian in her first passport. They said they saw no reason for the two countries to join into one. Each has its own interests and should defend them. “Why should you be subordinate to Russia or to anyone else?” Cooperation is fine. Two Muscovites, Aleksandr and Nikolay, said that Belarusians must decide for themselves what relations they will have with Russia. “There is no doubt that Russians view Belarus now as a separate state, like Kazakhstan, Georgia or Azerbaijan, for example.” But, of course, Belarus should not “spit on Russia” as Ukraine has done.
Hidden threats in Russian Yak-130 supplies for Belarus air force | UNIAN
In 2019, Belarus plans to procure from Russia four more Yak-130 combat-training aircraft as well as the first group of Su-30SM fighters, produced at the Irkutsk aircraft plant, that’s according to Belarus defense minister Andrei Ravkov. Experts say the Belarus defense ministry should pay close attention to one important point, which, most likely, is deliberately silenced by the Russian side.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

UAWire – Moldova counts on Romania’s support in integration with European Union
The Moldovan government expects an improvement in the relations with the European Union, counting on the support of Romania, which will be holding EU presidency next year. “The role of the president of the EU Council implies impartial and professional management of the issues on the agenda – from the simplest issues to the most complex ones,” said Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila. According to Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration of Moldova Iurie Leanca, “this is a unique opportunity to intensify relations, from deepening political dialogue and supporting the process of reforms to accelerating the implementation of projects for energy and infrastructure connection through constructing bridges and highways”. “We count on the support of Bucharest in organizing broader debates in the EU on the need to offer the Republic of Moldova a clear perspective of joining the European Union,” Leanca said. We cannot speak about Moldova’s accession to the European Union in the coming six months, said Pavel Midrigan, Dean of the Faculty of International Relations at the University of European Political and Economic Studies named after Constantin Stere. The expert noted that the countries that expect accession to the European Union are still far away from the requirements put forward to them. “Instead of striving to get into the EU, Moldovan authorities need to work in such a way that would make the European Union invite our country to join this union,” Pavel Midrigan concluded.

Ukraine Reports

Russia’s FSB asks court to extend arrest of captured Ukrainian sailors
The Lefortovsky District Court of Moscow will consider a motion filed by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) on extension of the period of detention of the captured Ukrainian Navy sailors until April 26. — Ukrinform
Moscow says Ukrainian sailors could be exchanged once sentences voiced, elections held – Russian media | UNIAN
In 2019, Russia could go for an exchange of Ukrainian sailors detained in the act of Russian aggression in the Black Sea for Russians for Russian national imprisoned in Ukraine. The Ukrainian foreign minister earlier warned Moscow would play the issue of sailors’ release in the context of Ukraine’s elections.
Russian “court” hearings on captive Ukrainian sailors won’t start earlier than next year – lawyer | UNIAN
Lawyer Ilya Novikov says “court” hearings on 24 captive Ukrainian sailors in Russia will unlikely start earlier than next year. The lawyer says the trial will be purely pro forma.
Court sessions over Ukrainian seamen detained in Kerch Strait not to start before early 2020 – lawyer –
Court sessions over Ukrainian seamen detained in Kerch Strait not to start before early 2020
EU Urges Russia To Release All ‘Illegally Detained’ Ukrainians
The European Union has reiterated its call on Moscow to release all Ukrainian citizens “illegally detained” both in Russia and in the occupied Crimea Peninsula.
Russia moves to strip Emil Kurbedinov of his licence in major attack on lawyers defending victims of persecution in Crimea – Human Rights in Ukraine
Russia’s Justice Ministry has demanded that the de facto Crimean Bar Association expel Emil Kurbedinov, with this almost certainly leading to his being stripped of his licence. This is the latest of several attempts to silence Kurbedinov and other courageous lawyers in occupied Crimea –
Twitter verifies account of Russia’s MFA in Crimea, Ukraine files complaint | UNIAN
Twitter has verified the “official” Twitter account of the illegally opened “representative office” of Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Russian-occupied city of Simferopol (Russia’s MFA in Crimea @PMSimferopol). “We have sent [an] official complaint @TwitterSupport. It’s absolutely unacceptable to give so called #Russia’s MFA in occupied #Crimea a blue tick!” Ukraine’s Embassy to the United Kingdom tweeted on January 10. “Russia illegally annexed Crimea, militarized it & commits gross violations of human rights. Twitter must block that account! #crimeaisukraine,” the Embassy said. Read more on UNIAN:
Foreign ministers of Baltic states, Sweden and Poland to visit Mariupol
The foreign ministers of the Baltic states, Poland and Sweden will soon visit Mariupol to see the consequences of Russian aggression. — Ukrinform

Poltorak: Almost everyone at the last NATO HQ meeting talked about our accelerated NATO accession
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak has said NATO representatives have changed their positions on Ukraine’s accession to the North Atlantic Alliance, and noted comprehensive assistance received by Ukraine from the bloc. “For more than four years, I have been observing the mood at NATO headquarters with regard to Ukraine. At first, we were not taken too seriously. Subsequently, we did not understand how accession to the bloc could be achieved. But during the last meeting in Brussels everyone talked about the need for our accelerated accession to NATO. We receive help from them in all directions. This was especially noticeable recently – after an act of open aggression by Russia,” he said in an interview with the state-owned Uryadovy Courier. Poltorak said he has met Britain’s Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson five times over the last six months. He said the number of tasks Ukraine must achieve before becoming a NATO member is large. “In the coming year, we need to complete the reform of the Ministry of Defense and the military authorities. This is one of the most difficult reforms – we must be very careful here so as not to disrupt the command and control. And the changes are gradually being implemented. Recently, we spoke about the need to directly purchase the weapons and equipment we needed abroad. …Everything we buy in the interests of Ukraine’s Armed Forces meets the standards of NATO,” he said. Poltorak said there are problems, of which resource provision is the biggest, but said Ukraine is making progress.
Ukrainian army to operate in line with NATO standards in 2020 – Poroshenko
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine will operate in line with NATO standards under the law on national security in 2020. — Ukrinform
Donbas militants fire attack Ukraine troops three times over past 24 hours – report | UNIAN
Over the past day, January 10, Russian occupation forces violated the ceasefire three times, opening fire at the Ukrainian military. The enemy employed mortars and grenade launchers.
Militants launched three attacks on Ukrainian troops in Donbas in last day
Militants launched three attacks, using weapons banned under the Minsk agreements once, on Ukrainian positions in the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) area in Donbas over the past day. — Ukrinform
Ukrainian army serviceman Volodymyr Krupsky deceased due to hypothermia in Donbas combat area –
Volodymyr Krupsky, the serviceman of the Ukrainian military passed away in the accident in the combat area in Donbas on January 10. The man suffered hypothermia, as his armored car fell in the water storage of a quarry. He died before the evacuation was complete. Krupsky was the native of Hadyach, Poltava region, central Ukraine; Viktor Kalinichenko, another resident of the town posted this on Facebook. ‘Sad news arrived in Hadyach. Our fellow townsman Volodymyr Krupsky passed away in the Joint Forces Operation zone. May his memory be blessed. Heroes never die!’ he wrote. This piece of information was confirmed by Eduard Borodai, the deputy chief military enlistment officer of Poltava region. Earlier, the Joint Forces HQ reported that the Ukrainian troops suffered no casualties over Thursday, January 10. The Russian mercenaries opened fire three times.
Ukraine’s army to be able to act under NATO standards in 2020, Poroshenko says | UNIAN
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that the Ukrainian army will be able to act fully in accordance with NATO standards as early as in 2020. Ukrainian diplomacy helped to cement the international coalition in support of Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that the Ukrainian army will be able to act fully in accordance with NATO standards as early as in 2020. “In 2020, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be structured and will be able to act in full accordance with NATO standards, as is stipulated in the [Ukrainian] law on national security,” Poroshenko said at a meeting with residents of the town of Zdolbuniv in Rivne region on January 10, according to an UNIAN correspondent. “Our army is capable of deterring the enemy, which is considerably stronger, and this is not the limit of our capabilities. The army has been increasing its strength, an amount exceeding 5% of GDP is being allocated from the budget for defense and security,” he said. In his words, Ukraine invests part of the resources in the defense industry, re-launching design bureaus. “Every month, the Ukrainian army receives tens and hundreds of units of new and upgraded weapons and military hardware, including aircraft and missiles, and not just them,” he said. What is more, Ukrainian diplomacy helped to cement the international coalition in support of Ukraine. “We are talking now about a very wide range of support – from sanctions and assistance in training specialists at many training grounds, which were built or rebuilt, to the delivery of such weapons as Javelin [anti-tank missile] systems,” he added. Earlier Ukrainian army positions in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, were attacked by enemy tanks, the president said, but “as soon as they learned that Javelins had arrived, Russian tankmen refused to go to their positions and this is a very effective psychological effect from the supply of the Javelins to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s troops mark 5th New Year at war with Russia | KyivPost
HNUTOVE, Ukraine – Weighed down by heavy flak jackets and helmets, and shouldering Kalashnikov automatic rifles, Ukrainian soldiers trudge through a worsening blizzard towards the front line on Jan. 6, Ukrainian Christmas Eve. Most wear snow camouflage uniforms, mainly white with streaks of black – to make it harder for the Russian snipers operating all along the front lines to spot them. The previous week, on the first day of 2019, Russian snipers a few kilometers from here shot a Ukrainian soldier – the first Ukrainian killed in action this year. Tramping on, occasionally slipping on rocks, ruts and holes concealed under the snow, gunfire comes in staccato volleys from the Russian positions, several hundred meters beyond the Ukrainian trenches, muted by the swirling snow flurries. Land bridge The soldiers were heading to a forward operating base on the front lines, some 15 kilometers northeast of the Azov Sea port of Mariupol, a city of 446,000 located 800 kilometers southeast of Kyiv. This is a place that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has been eager to capture since his forces invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and occupied a large swathe of the country’s eastern Donbas region in 2014. Putin needs Mariupol if he is to build a land bridge between the Ukrainian territory he has snatched in Donbas and Crimea. The port is also the gateway for a huge slice of Ukrainian steel and other exports, vital to the economy. Moscow has used its navy to impede foreign merchant ships sailing to Mariupol. Citing Ukraine Business News, Swedish economist Anders Aslund notes that the 22-berth port last year only operated at 28 percent of capacity, and volume fell to 5.3 million tons, 10 percent below 2017 levels. And Aslund, again citing Ukraine Businss News, tweeted that a “second blow” to shipping came with Russia’s opening of the Kerch Strait Bridge with only a only a 35-meter high central arch, too low for 30 percent of the cargo ships that historically serviced Mariupol. In November, Russian ships, helicopters and planes shelled and rammed three small Ukrainian Navy vessels trying to maintain Ukraine’s rights under international maritime law to navigate the area. The attack, which resulted in 24 Ukrainian crew captured and three wounded, has ratcheted up tension in the area.
Two enemy drones recorded in Luhansk region
Russian-backed militants in Donbas continue to violate the Minsk agreements on the prohibition of the use of unmanned lethal vehicles. — Ukrinform
SBU arrests man coordinating terrorist acts, unrest with Russia’s FSB during Ukraine’s upcoming presidential election
Ukraine’s SBU State Security Service acting under the procedural guidance of the military prosecutor’s office in Mariupol has detained a man who, as part of a criminal group, was preparing terrorist attacks and riots in Ukraine during the presidential election in coordination with Russia’s FSB Federal Security Service.
The Last Link Of Luhansk
Crossing through the only corridor that remains open for people in Ukraine’s Luhansk region to navigate the so-called line of contact.
Ukraine Actively Fighting Russian Propaganda – Inside Ukraine, At Borders, And Elsewhere – To Inform is to Influence
In this report, Ukraine blocked entry into Ukraine by 150 Russians, of which 83 were designated “Russian propagandists”. Over 150 Russian citizens denied entry to Ukraine in 2018 – SBU 10 January 2019 Here, Belarus citizen Pavlo Karnazytsky, is blocked from entry into Ukraine for carrying Russian propaganda. Belarus citizen banned to enter Ukraine for anti-Ukrainian materials 2…

Ukraine starts mass production of Vilkha missile system – Poltorak
Minister of Defense of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak has announced the launch of mass production of a multiple-rocket system Vilkha. Minister of Defense of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak has announced the launch of mass production of a multiple-rocket system Vilkha. “In December, we received an additional resource – UAH 4 billion for the purchase of new types of weapons and military equipment. We are already starting mass production of Vilkha missile system. Experimental design work continues in many other projects that will significantly improve our abilities,” he told the government newspaper Uriadovy Kurier, published on Thursday. Poltorak also announced the continuation of work on the modernization of uniforms and equipment of the military. “We are giving manufacturers new technical assignments to improve them. And new special suits and camouflage suits for snipers and scouts, suits for crews of armored vehicles, knee pads and elbow pads, individual transport bags, cold-weather shoe covers and much more are already being received,” the minister said. In addition, he said, the development and military testing of new models of clothing, footwear and equipment, in particular for snipers, are continuing. At the end of last year, Poltorak reported that the project to develop a new multiple-rocket system Vilkha with a 300-mm guided missile and range of up to 120 kilometers was in its final stage.
Ukraine begins batch production of “Vilkha” missile complex, – Defense Minister –
The batch production of “Vilkha” missile complex will begin in Ukraine as “Uriadovy Kurier” reported citing Ukraine’s Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak. “In December we got the additional resource, $141,46 million for the purchase of the new samples of the weapon and hardware. We begin the batch production of the “Vilkha” missile complex. The development in many other projects continues and they will increase our capacities,” Defense Minister said. “Vilkha” missile complex is produced by design studio “Luch” (Kyiv). All elements of “Vilkha” made in Ukraine, including the new control system, rocket fuel and explosive part. One of its peculiarities is the system of missile control, which provides the correction of the missile’s flight using the impulse engines. The missile can bear the explosive parts depending on their purpose.
Ukraine set to complete construction of new corvette – Ukroboronprom | UNIAN
State-owned defense giant Ukroboronprom and defense companies under its control which are responsible for the manufacture and repair of naval equipment have developed a plan for the completion of construction of a new corvette, according to Ukroboronprom CEO Serhiy Omelchenko. “Indeed, the renewal of the Ukrainian Naval fleet is an important task,” Omelchenko told Pryamyi TV channel. Speaking of the prospects for the manufacture of the new warship, the official recalled that its construction had begun at one of the private shipyards, which later went bankrupt. “But Ukroboronprom and enterprises that are part of it, responsible for the creation and repair of marine equipment, have developed a plan to complete the corvette construction,” said Omelchenko. According to the Ukroboronprom CEO, now the Cabinet of Ministers is considering the question of which particular enterprise will be finishing the works, based on the requirements of the Naval Forces, as well as the question of the model to be chosen. Read alsoUkraine’s defense in 2018: Developing weapons, restoring missile shield, strengthening armored capacities After the decision is made, the state concern will be ready to start the construction. The Project 58250 Corvette is a promising multi-purpose warship developed by the Mykolayiv State Enterprise Research and Design Center for Shipbuilding for the needs of the Naval Forces of Ukraine. The project development was completed in 2008, and the construction of the first ship began in May 2011, while the launch was originally scheduled for 2012. The shipyard planned to build up to 12 warships until 2026, including four set to become part of the Ukrainian Naval fleet by 2021. Subsequently, the production target was reduced to just four units. Since that time, the deadlines were repeatedly postponed; in 2017, officials announced the intention to deliver the first ship in 2022.
UAWire – Ukraine and Poland to jointly develop anti-air missile system
The Polish company WB Electronics and the Ukrainian state-owned defense industrial group, Ukroboronprom, are planning to jointly develop a new …

Ukraine to terminate about 40 bilateral agreements with Russia
Ukraine intends to terminate about 40 bilateral agreements with the Russian Federation, in particular, regarding the joint use of the Sea of Azov. — Ukrinform
Ukraine’s 2019 Elections May Be Completely Unpredictable but Five Things Are Certain
2019 is election year in Ukraine. Ukrainians will select a new president this spring and a new parliament in the fall. Even though the outcome of the presidential race is unpredictable, there are five things about this political cycle that are not. First, no openly pro-Russian candidate can win and this is a major change from the past. In every Ukrainian election from independence until 2012, the pro-Russian electorate played a significant role. This bloc consisted of almost a quarter of voters and pro-Russian candidates won in 1994 and 2010. However, the irony for Vladimir Putin is that by annexing Crimea and occupying part of the Donbas he eliminated the most pro-Russian segment of the Ukrainian electorate. Now the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine’s electorate is approximately ten to twelve percent. Consequentially, the leading pro-Russian candidate, Yuriy Boyko, is averaging just 10.5 percent in polls and running fourth. Thus, pro-Russian candidates in Ukraine are destined to play the role of permanent opposition and perennial losers. Second, the polls will prove to be very wrong. Ukrainian media publishes almost daily polls, all of which show Tymoshenko leading, a relatively new face in a distant second place, and the president in third. However, if most US polls in 2016 wrongly predicted a Hillary Clinton victory, how much more can Ukrainian polling be off the mark? Ukrainian pollsters often skew results according to who pays for the poll. More reputable polling firms adjust the numbers by up to 3 percent, while more questionable ones adjust by at least 5-7 percent. Polls are no longer objective indicators of public sentiment, but rather tools for influencing public opinion and creating specific narratives. For example, the public is being told that Tymoshenko is destined for victory because she is in “first place,” but this narrative fails to point out that 80 percent of Ukrainians prefer a different candidate. When four out of five prefer someone else, that is not destiny but deception. Third, the majority of presidential candidates are actually campaigning for parliament. Six candidates currently average 10 percent in the presidential polls—Poroshenko, Tymoshenko, comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, former defense minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko, Radical Party Leader Oleh Lyashko, and Opposition Bloc leader Yuriy Boyko—but Tymoshenko and Poroshenko are the ones to watch. The other four are campaigning for seats in the parliamentary elections, and standing in the presidential election is merely a method to raise their visibility beforehand. Since parliament elects the prime minister, having a large parliamentary faction is the goal. Thus, while Zelensky enjoys the benefit of being the protest vote of the month, Ukrainians voters have historically rejected such candidates. As Zelenskiy is eventually defined as oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi’s stealth candidate, his rating will rapidly drop. Hrytsenko and Lyashko have made political splashes in the past, but faded on election day. Boyko, without Crimea and the occupied Donbas, is already maxed out. Fourth, Tymoshenko and Poroshenko will battle again in the runoff. The two squared off in the 2014 presidential election, with Poroshenko winning easily by 39 points. Now the 2019 election is shaping up as a rematch, with polls giving Tymoshenko an average of a seven-point edge. However, Poroshenko’s rating was rising prior to securing independence for Ukraine’s Church, and the powers of incumbency are always strong, so expect a close runoff between the two candidates. Fifth, the winner of the presidential election will have momentum going into the parliamentary elections. Polls show that eight to ten parties would get enough votes to enter parliament but none would hold a dominant position. Therefore, any parliamentary majority would need to include a multi-party coalition. However, the polls reflect only half the picture since half of the MPs will be elected from districts (majoritarians) and are left out of the current polling. In 2014, Poroshenko received 53 percent of the vote in the May presidential and 22 percent in October’s parliamentary elections. After the election, he more than doubled his faction size by adding majoritarians. Expect a similar situation this year. Typically majoritarians are business owners who want friendly relations with the government. Whoever wins the presidential election will find scores of majoritarians ready to make deals to protect their businesses. Attempts to change the election law to abolish majoritarian districts have met with lukewarm support from parliament. Some will complain that these elections will be similar to previous ones with the same old faces returning to power. To some degree, those criticisms are right. However, the paradigm has shifted with Ukraine’s European civilization choice. The public demands higher standards, more transparency, and is no longer content to accept statements from their leaders at face value. Ukrainians are now empowered, and an empowered citizenry is what will lead Ukraine forward, long after the old political faces fade. Brian Mefford is the director of Wooden Horse Strategies, LLC, a government relations and strategic communications firm based in Kyiv, Ukraine. He is a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
Volodymyr Zelensky Comedy Star and Ukraine’s Donald Trump Wannabe – Bloomberg
Volodymyr Zelensky has launched a clever populist campaign in a presidential race that’s wide open.
TASS: World – Ukraine set not to allow Russian observers to monitor presidential elections
The presidential election in Ukraine is scheduled for March 31
Gas transit in exchange for dropping suits: Naftogaz official tells of Gazprom’s blackmailing tactics | UNIAN
Russia is demanding that the Ukrainian side give up on its win international arbitration regarding gas contracts with Gazprom in exchange for extending gas transit contracts, that’s according to Naftogaz COO Yuriy Vitrenko. The Russian monopoly has accused Ukraine of “breaking the balance in relations.”
More than 42% of Ukrainian exports go to EU – president
Timely and effective reorientation to the European market has given Ukrainian economy completely new opportunities, and now more than 42% of Ukrainian exports go to the EU countries. — Ukrinform
The most famous women of ancient and modern Ukraine
These prominent Ukrainian women’s multifaceted activities have influenced the development and establishment of the Ukrainian state.

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

EXCLUSIVE: Pompeo announces international summit on Iran | Fox News
CAIRO — The United States will host an international summit next month to promote stability and freedom in the Middle East, focusing on Iran’s regional influence, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in an exclusive Fox News interview, while traveling in the Middle East.
Iran announces plan to launch 2 satellites into orbit on domestically made rockets | Fox News
Iran’s president on Thursday confirmed the coming launch of two new satellites into orbit as the U.S. remained concerned that the Iran-made rockets could help further its ballistic missile development.
Report: Iran Is Likely Setting Stage for International Phishing Campaign – Defense One
Hackers have been methodically gaining access to domain name services that allow malware-laden emails to look like they come from legitimate organizations.
Iran’s Next Supreme Leader Is Dead – Foreign Policy
And it’s not going to be easy for the Islamic Republic to survive without him.
Navy veteran from San Diego has been imprisoned in Iran, authorities there confirm – Los Angeles Times
Ivar Farhadi was detained alongside Michael White in the notorious Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad. After fleeing Iran, Farhadi vowed to help get the word out about White’s detention.
Iran’s supreme leader: US faces ‘unprecedented’ defeat | TheHill
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Wednesday that the U.S. faces “unprecedented” defeat because of sanctions it has placed on Iran under President Trump.
‘Unprecedented’ U.S. sanctions are pressuring Iran: Khamenei | Reuters
U.S. sanctions are putting unprecedented pressure on Iranians while “first class idiots” are running Washington’s policy, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday.
E.U. Imposes Sanctions on Iran Over Assassination Plots – The New York Times
The decision underscored the difficult balancing act facing the European Union as it tries to counter suspected Iranian misbehavior and preserve the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran blamed for killing two Dutch nationals, and is hit with sanctions | Fox News
For the first time, the Dutch government has publicly acknowledged that two Dutch nationals of Iranian descent – and opposed to the Tehran regime – were murdered in 2015 and 2017 at the orchestrated hand of the Tehran regime.
Pompeo: U.S. Isn’t Abandoning Its Fight Against Iran – Bloomberg
Withdrawing from Syria, says Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, won’t affect U.S. efforts to counter Iranian influence there.
Top Khamenei aide says US sought his help for talks with Iran | Iran News | Al Jazeera
Ali Shamkhani says he was approached twice by US officials last month but rejected the requests to hold talks.
A US Navy veteran has been imprisoned in Iran for months, report says – CNNPolitics
A US Navy veteran has been held in an Iranian prison on unspecified charges since July, his mother told The New York Times on Monday.
Iran, Russia Planning Joint Naval Exercises In Caspian Sea
Russia and Iran are planning joint naval exercises in the Caspian Sea “in the near future,” an Iranian naval official has said.
Iranian Navy To Send Warships To Atlantic
The Iranian Navy will send warships to the Atlantic Ocean after March, a top commander said.
U.S. Accuses Iran of Using Space Launch as Cover for Missile Program – The New York Times
Responding to a warning from the secretary of state, Iran’s foreign minister said the U.S. was “in no position to lecture” about violating global deals after withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran Military Will Send Ships Near U.S. Waters to ‘Wave the Flag,’ Just as Navy Did in Gulf
The news came as Iran’s top diplomat accused his U.S. counterpart of mixing up two United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding missile activity.
Iran’s Central Bank Proposes Reform Of Battered Currency
The Iranian Central Bank has proposed a currency reform that would remove four zeros from the rial, Iranian state media have reported.
UAWire – US Treasury blocks sale of Russian aircraft to Iran
The US Treasury Department refused to issue an export certificate for the sale of Russian aircraft Sukhoi Superjet 100 to Iranian airline …
Navy veteran from California has been held in Iran for months, mother says
Michael R. White, a Navy veteran from Imperial Beach, California, has been held in Iran since late July, his mother said.
EU slaps sanctions on Iran for FIRST TIME since nuclear deal signed | World | News |
THE European Union has frozen the assets of a number of Iranians in the first sanctions against the country since the nuclear deal was signed in 2015.
Iranian Pop Singer Gagged, Under Fire Over Antiwar Video
An Iranian pop singer faces a ban following the release of a video clip that hard-liners claim insults Iranian troops killed in the 1980-88 war with Iraq.
Iranian Deputy Makes Unprecedented Call For Foreign Policy Changes
An Iranian lawmaker says Tehran’s foreign policy has “a lot of unnecessary costs” which can “leave us paralyzed on the streets of Tehran.”
Iran confirms arrest of U.S. Navy veteran – The Washington Post
Michael White of San Diego was detained last summer when he went to the country to visit his girlfriend.

Bolton reassures a nervous Israel about Trump’s Syria plan – POLITICO
The national security adviser is doing damage control with a key U.S. ally fearful that Iran will exploit Trump’s plans to exit Syria.
Bolton Said to Plan to Tell Israel No Timeline on Syria Pullout – Bloomberg
    U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton will tell Israeli leaders that there is no timetable for an American military pullout from Syria, two weeks after President Donald Trump’s announcement of a rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Contradicting Trump, Bolton says no withdrawal from Syria until ISIS destroyed, Kurds’ safety guaranteed – The Washington Post
The national security adviser’s remarks appeared to retreat from Trump’s promise weeks ago to pull out U.S. troops “now.”
Israel’s intelligence chief warns of foreign election interference – CNN
Israel’s intelligence chief warns that upcoming elections will be interfered with through cyber-attacks and hacking.
Israel Ready to Confront Foreign Cyber Attacks in April Elections – WSJ
Israel is prepared to prevent any foreign attempts to interfere in its April elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, after the head of Israel’s internal security agency warned that a foreign country intends to meddle in the vote.
Former Israeli Minister Admits to Spying for Iran – WSJ
A former Israeli minister pleaded guilty to spying for the country’s bitter enemy Iran and faces an 11-year prison sentence, in a case that has gripped the public as Israel tries to thwart Tehran’s attempts to entrench on its border.
Drug-smuggling ex-Israeli minister gets jail time over spying for Iran – CNN
Former Israeli Minister of Energy Gonen Segev will serve 11 years in prison as part of a plea deal over spying for Iran, the country’s Ministry of Justice said in a statement Wednesday morning.
Israeli F-15 Loses Canopy At 30,000 Feet, Pilots Land Aircraft Safely. – The Aviationist
An Israeli Air Force two-seat F-15D Baz jet lost its canopy at 30,000 feet during a training exercise last week. The crew recovered the aircraft safely, making an emergency landing at Nevatim Airbase, Israel. According to the Times of Israel, journalist Juda Ari Gross reported that, “Israel Defense Forces officials praised the pilot and navigator of the aircraft for displaying a ‘calm temperament’ when the top of their plane flew off suddenly last Wednesday, exposing them to frigid air, vicious winds, and deafening noise.” The Israeli F-15, possibly from the 133rd Training Squadron, the “Knights of the Twin Tail” from Tel Nof Air Base, was participating in a training exercise. The aircraft’s canopy detached for unknown reasons as the crew reached approximately 30,000 feet. During the incident temperatures outside the aircraft were -45 degrees and the canopy separation resulted in severe momentary turbulence. The two-man F-15 crew initially intended to eject from the aircraft over the sea but decided to remain with the plane and attempt to land once they descended and regained nominal control.
Israel and the U.S. Are Arguing Over Selling Croatia Jets | Time
Croatia urged Israel to overcome a rare disagreement with the United States and to confirm the sale of 12 used American-made fighter jets.
Croatia gives Israel deadline for sale of US-made fighter jets | Israel News | Al Jazeera
Croatia urges Israel to overcome disagreement with the US by January 11 or says it will cancel deal.

The US Isn’t Really Leaving Syria and Afghanistan – Defense One
Even if American troops come home in a timely fashion, they will likely return before long.
Commentary: What are Bolton, Pompeo telling Mideast leaders? What they want to hear. | Reuters
The two men in the Trump administration in charge of setting America’s global priorities are crisscrossing the Middle East this week, dividing up an already deeply divided region, trying desperately to separate fact from fiction and establish some sense of just where their nation’s priorities are going, how the United States might get there, and whose help they might need along the way.
Trump’s ‘two great stars’ deliver a message to the world – The Washington Post
Pompeo and Bolton allow no daylight between themselves and Trump.
Iraq Urges Pompeo to Maintain U.S. Troop Presence in Country – WSJ
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Iraq to meet the country’s top leadership, as he tours the Middle East to reassure allies over concerns that the U.S. is withdrawing from the region.
Pentagon Pushes Forward on Syria Pullout – WSJ
The U.S. military is moving ahead with plans to withdraw all its troops from Syria, in keeping with a White House directive, even though a U.S.-Turkey rift appears likely to delay the pullout, defense officials said.
US troops begin to withdraw from Syria, official says | Fox News
The U.S.-led military coalition in Syria started the process of withdrawing troops from the embattled region, a U.S. military official said Friday.
US begins removing some military equipment from Syria – CNNPolitics
The first US military ground equipment has been withdrawn from Syria in recent days, signaling the beginning of the drawdown ordered by President Donald Trump, according to an administration official with direct knowledge of the operation.
Pompeo, at site of Obama’s address to Muslim world, rebukes his legacy: ‘Age of self-inflicted American shame is over’ | Fox News
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday launched an astonishing rebuke of former President Barack Obama’s foreign policy at the site of Obama’s famous Cairo speech — declaring that “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over.”
Aftershocks of Trump Syria exit plan shake allies and region – CNNPolitics
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted Thursday that there has been no contradiction in the shifting US strategy in Syria or confusion about it — claims that fly in the face of shocked responses from allies in the Middle East and beyond.
John Bolton told Turkey some US troops would stay in Syria for Iran – Vox
Trump announced a full troop withdrawal from Syria. Bolton reportedly told Turkey some may stay behind to counter Iran.
🇸🇾 US adviser meets Turkish officials after Erdogan pullout warning l Al Jazeera English – YouTube
Al Jazeera English Published on Jan 8, 2019 The US national security adviser met a senior Turkish official on Tuesday to hammer out plans on the withdrawal of US forces from war-torn Syria.
Turkey and the Kurds turn to Russia to solve problems sparked by U.S. exit from Syria – The Washington Post
Amid conflicting signals from the Trump administration over how and when U.S. troops will leave, all sides are hoping Russia will come up with a solution.
Turkey says will launch Syria attack if US delays troop pullout | Turkey News | Al Jazeera
Turkey and US remain at loggerheads over the future of Syrian Kurdish forces after Trump’s decision to pull out troops.
Putin, Merkel Agree To Coordinate Syria Peace Efforts Amid U.S. Troop Pullout
Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have agreed in a telephone call to coordinate efforts to work toward peace in Syria, the Kremlin says
UAWire – US military aircraft spotted near Russian airbase in Syria
The US RC-135 surveillance aircraft was flying over the international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean along the Syrian coast for over two hours at a distance of about 60 km from Russian bases and an altitude of 9,600 meters. On January 4, an American P-8A Poseidon patrol plane also carried out a reconnaissance flight near the Syrian coast and Russian bases located there.
Mike Pompeo: ‘We’ve taken down 99 percent’ of the ISIS caliphate
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “99 percent” of the Islamic State’s caliphate has been destroyed, reinforcing the Trump administration’s case to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria that have been working to combat the terrorist group.
U.S. tensions with Turkey increase over troop withdrawal confusion in Syria – CBS News
Bolton was looking for assurances Turkey will not attack America's Syrian allies
Erdogan Refuses to Meet Bolton After Fallout Over Syria Withdrawal – The Daily Beast
U.S. and North Korean officials have held talks in the Vietnamese capital.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan | Erdogan: Trump Is Right on Syria. Turkey Can Get the Job Done. – The New York Times
There will be no victory for the terrorists, the president of Turkey writes.
Turkey’s Erdogan shuts down White House’s Bolton on Syria
“We cannot accept Bolton’s messages given from Israel,” the Turkish president said on Monday, adding that Bolton made a “serious mistake.”
John Bolton contradicts Trump on Syria withdrawal – YouTube
CNN Published on Jan 7, 2019 National security adviser John Bolton contradicted President Donald Trump’s prior announcement of an immediate pullout of US troops in Syria. CNN’s Michelle Kosinski takes a closer look. #CNN #News
Bolton seems to contradict Trump on US withdrawal from Syria – YouTube
ABC News Published on Jan 7, 2019 The president’s national security adviser said there is no timetable to remove 2,000 troops.
Trump discusses Syria, Afghanistan plans with foreign leaders | TheHill
President Trump on Monday discussed the U.S. strategy in Syria with French President Emmanuel Macron, and spoke about economic issues with the leaders of India and Canada, respectively.
Putin, Erdogan Plan Meeting ‘Soon’ On U.S. Plan To Exit Syria
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan are planning to meet “soon” to discuss the announced departure of U.S. troops from Syria, where both countries also have a s…
Russia in the Middle East – To Inform is to Influence
There is an outpouring of reporting on Russian activities in Syria, and to a lesser degree other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. But until now, there has been no single effort to analyze the totality of Russian objectives there as well as its instruments of power, tactics and strategy or their implications…
The United States Can’t Rely on Turkey to Defeat ISIS | RAND
Relying on Turkey to shoulder the burden of countering the Islamic State will provide the terrorist group with an opportunity to revive itself at a critical stage in the fight. Turkey’s main focus is on the Kurds and Erdogan’s opposition. Eradicating the Islamic State is a secondary priority that has often been ignored.
Turkey Seeks Major U.S. Military Support to Adopt Fight in Syria – WSJ
Turkey is asking the U.S. to provide substantial military support, including air strikes, transport and logistics, so that Turkish forces can assume the main responsibility for fighting the Islamic State extremist group in Syria, senior U.S. officials say.
U.S. anti-Islamic State meeting turns to damage control after Syria decision | Reuters
A routine U.S.-hosted conference of nations fighting the Islamic State militant group has become a damage control effort following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.
US officials to visit Turkey over Gulen extradition request | USA News | Al Jazeera
Turkey says Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in the US since 1999, planned the 2016 coup attempt.
UAWire – US makes Turkey an offer for Patriot air-defense systems
The US has offered to sell Patriot anti-air and anti-missile defense systems to Turkey. An American delegation that arrived earlier in Ankara is still meeting with Turkey’s Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry and Defense Industry Ministry to discuss the deal, Anadolu reported on Thursday. On December 19, the US State Department approved the decision to sell Turkey the Patriot systems for $3.5 billion. “The State Department has approved the decision to supply Turkey with 80 MIM-104E interceptor missiles and 60 RAC-3 missiles for the Patriot systems,” the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced. The US will also sell Turkey 4 AN/MQP-65 radars and other equipment. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoǧlu told reporters in his end-of-year address that Ankara sent its last letter to Washington asking for Patriot systems nearly one and a half years ago, and that the State Department’s decision was based on this offer. The Turkish diplomat emphasized, however, that the acquisition of the US-made Patriot systems would not affect the deal with Russia concerning the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems. Turkey has several criteria for the Patriot deal, one of them being an acceptable price. However, of prime importance for Ankara is that the technology is handed over, Anadolu notes. In November 2016, news came out that Russia and Turkey were negotiating the sale of S-400 systems. In September 2017, Russia confirmed that the contract had been signed. In the middle of June, 2018, an informed source told TASS that Russia’s defense industry companies had been instructed to finish producing the long-range anti-air systems for Turkey by May 2019. At the start of September 2018, Dmitry Shugaev, director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, said that the S-400s will be shipped to Turkey in the middle of 2019. According to various media reports, Turkey has already begun to build platforms for the S-400 Triumph systems, despite the US’s objections to the deal. Turkey’s plans to buy S-400s from Russia were met with extreme scepticism by NATO and the US administration. Their primary argument is that the Russian systems are not compatible with the equivalent systems already in the armaments of Turkey and other NATO states.
US-led coalition: Recent strikes destroyed nearly half of ISIS ‘propaganda’ cells
Recent precision strikes and coordinated attacks targeting the Islamic State’s media cells have diminished the group’s communications capabilities by nearly half in less than six months, according to the U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
Amid planned Syria withdrawal, U.S. scrambling to find places to send ISIS detainees
With no plan in place for what to do with hundreds of ISIS detainees in Syria, the Trump administration is in a frantic search for solutions, officials say.
Trial Begins Over Alleged Plot Behind Assassination Of Russian Envoy In Turkey
Turkish authorities have indicted 28 people of involvement in the killing of Andrei Karlov, who was shot by an off-duty police officer at a photography exhibition in the Turkish capital Ankara in D…
UAWire – Turkish media: US cannot persuade Turkey to call off S-400 deal with Russia
The US’s last attempt to stop Turkey from buying Russian S-400 anti-air missile systems was unsuccessful because the US’s offer to sell Ankara …
Turkey Stands By Deal To Buy Russian Missiles, Attack Kurds In Syria
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu says Turkey may buy U.S. Patriot missile systems if conditions are right, but insists such a deal would be impossible if Washington forces Ankara to cancel its agr…

Hoping for Russian help against Turkish army, Kurds spread Moscow’s narratives on Ukraine-ISIS ties – expert | UNIAN
The recent report of the headquarters of the Kurdish people’s self-defense forces YPG says they captured in Northern Syria a group of Islamic State terrorists, one of whom was allegedly a Ukraine national. Thus, they once again show that they remain puppets following the instructions of their supervisors as they change, the expert says.
Moscow’s Little-Noticed Islamic-Outreach Effort – Defense One
Russia is promoting Islamic moderation in unison with Arab powers—and further cementing its position in the Middle East.
USS Cole bomber Jamal al-Badawi targeted in Yemen air strike – BBC News
The US military is trying to verify if one of those behind the 2000 ship bombing died in an air strike.
Al Qaeda operative tied to USS Cole bombing killed in US airstrike, Trump says | Fox News
Jamal al-Badawi, the Al Qaeda operative tied to the deadly 2000 attack on USS Cole, was killed during a U.S. airstrike in Yemen, President Trump announced Sunday.
Teacher from Texas sent his resume to ISIS — and was captured in Syria – INSIDER
Warren Clark, previously a substitute teacher in Texas, was reportedly captured by US-backed Kurdish forces on a battlefield in Syria.
ISIS is far from being defeated as a fighting force or ideology – CNN
On December 19, President Trump declared: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” US troops there, he said in a video the same day, are “all coming back, and they’re coming back now.”
American ISIS members are detained in Syria, U.S.-backed coalition of militias says
Warren Christopher Clark and Zaid Abed al-Hamid were captured in Syria, according to a U.S.-backed coalition of militias.
American teen was fighting with ISIS in Syria: Kurds
A 16-year-old American boy was among eight suspected ISIS terrorists captured by a US-backed Kurdish militia this week, according to the group.
American teen ISIS suspect id’d as Soulay Noah Su held in Syria by US allied-Kurds of YPG amid concern on how to handle prisoners – CBS News
U.S. boy would be 1 of about 700 terror suspects in Kurds' custody, and what to do with them when the U.S. pulls out is a major quandary
British ISIS family ‘captured hiding among refugees in Syria’ | Daily Mail Online
The two sisters, both in their 20s, and their mother are said to have fled from the town of al-Shafaa in Deir Ezzor, Syria, last week.
Syrian Kurds apprehend eight ISIS fighters, incl. Zarmanbetov of Ukrainian origin | UNIAN
Syrian Kurds on January 6-7 apprehended eight men, including Askar Zarmanbetov of Ukrainian origin, in Deir al-Zour, eastern Syria, about 15 miles from the Iraqi border, on suspicion in cooperation with the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group. Zarmanbetov, allegedly being a member of a jihadist group, is suspected of planning attacks on civilians in Syria.
This Is the Uprising Sudan’s Genocidal Dictator Always Feared – Foreign Policy
The country’s current protests include all sections of society—and may soon topple Omar al-Bashir’s entire regime.

Video: Shocking Suicide Drone Attack on Military Parade Kills Several Soldiers
At least six Yemeni soldiers have been killed and a dozen wounded, according to local reports.
Houthi rebels used Iranian-made drone to attack Yemeni military high command – Defence Blog
The Bellingcat investigative website reported on 11 January that Houthis have used an Iranian-made armed drone to target Yemeni government military high command. The attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels that killed at least six people occurred in Lahj province in the south of the country on Thursday. The drone exploded above a podium at al-Anad base, in the southern province of Lahj, where high-ranking officers and officials were watching a parade. Medics said army deputy chief of staff Gen Saleh al-Zindani and Lahj governor Ahmed al-Turki were among those hurt. A Houthi-run TV channel said the rebels had targeted personnel from the Saudi-led coalition backing the government. But later, Bellingcat has identified at footages of the attack drone that looks similar to Iranian designed Ababil II unmanned aerial vehicle.


North Korea appears to be seeking Belt and Road investments from China
The nuclear-armed nation is seeking millions in foreign investments, and experts say China’s Belt and Road project offers the perfect answer to those needs.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Goes To China : NPR
Chinese president Xi Jinping invited Kim for the 4-day visit. The two leaders could use the visit to coordinate ahead of a second summit between the U.S. and North Korea.
Kim Jong Un looks ahead to second summit with Donald Trump
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to pursue a second summit with President Donald Trump “to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community,” Chinese state media reported on Thursday.
Kim Jong-un leaves China with ‘backing for second Trump summit’ – BBC News
Chinese President Xi Jinping said he hoped the two leaders “meet each other halfway”, state media reported.
Kim Jong Un’s China visit shows Trump he’s ‘not the only game in town’
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited Beijing for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, ahead of an expected meeting with President Donald Trump.
Kim’s vision of a coal-fueled North Korean future may be tough to realize | Reuters
When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un used his New Year speech to highlight coal as a “primary front” in developing the economy, he was making a case for what analysts see as a flawed but key resource on which his country increasingly relies.
Trump and Kim Jong Un to Choose Hanoi for Second Summit, Report Says – The Daily Beast
U.S. and North Korean officials have held talks in the Vietnamese capital.
North Korean ambassador Jo Song Gil held Rome embassy post vital to Kim Jong Un regime for smuggling and Vatican contact – CBS News
A previous defector explains why the Rome office, recently held by acting Ambassador Jo Song Gil, is so important to Kim Jong Un's regime
North Korean defectors voice concern for Pyongyang’s missing former Italian ambassador – CNN
A group of prominent North Korean defectors called on the Italian and South Korean governments to provide protection for Pyongyang’s former envoy to Italy Wednesday, as his whereabouts remain unknown.
Former North Korean diplomat writes open letter to ‘missing’ envoy to Italy – CNN
A former North Korean diplomat who defected in 2016 published an open letter Saturday to Pyongyang’s “missing” chargé d’affaires to Italy, Jo Song Gil, suggesting he move to Seoul.

A New Cold War Has Begun – Foreign Policy
The United States and China will be locked in a contest for decades. But Washington can win if it stays more patient than Beijing.
China and Russia: A Strategic Alliance in the Making | The National Interest
Defying the long-held convictions of Western analysts, and against huge structural differences, Beijing and Moscow are drawing closer together to meet what each sees as the “American threat.”
Dangerous Liaisons | The National Interest
Ignoring possible Sino-Russian cooperation against the United States, and the factors that can exacerbate it, could be very costly.

U.S. Navy ship sails in disputed South China Sea amid trade talks with Beijing | Reuters
A U.S. guided-missile destroyer sailed near disputed islands in the South China Sea in what China called a “provocation” as U.S. officials joined talks in Beijing during a truce in a bitter trade war.
China’s ship-killer missiles mobilized to Northwest China plateau – Global Times
China’s far-reaching, anti-ship ballistic missile the DF-26 has been mobilized to Northwest China’s plateau and desert areas, reported China’s national broadcaster on Tuesday after a US warship trespassed into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea on Monday. The DF-26 is China’s new generation of intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of targeting medium and large ships at sea. It can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. The DF-26 is attached to a brigade under the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force that operates in Northwest China’s plateau and desert areas, China Central Television (CCTV) reported. The report said the missiles are now capable of mobile operations across the country. It was unclear from the CCTV report when the missiles were mobilized. A mobile missile launch from deep in the country’s interior is more difficult to intercept, a Beijing-based military expert, who asked not to be named, told the Global Times on Wednesday. During the initial phase of a ballistic missile launch, the missile is relatively slow and not difficult to detect, making it an easier target for enemy anti-missile installations, the expert noted. After the missile enters a later stage, its speed is so high that chances for interception are significantly lower, the expert said. This is also the first time the missile has made a close-up public appearance since it came into service with the PLA, reported. The timing of the report sparked discussions among Chinese military observers online, as it came after the USS McCambell, a US guided missile destroyer, trespassed into China’s territorial waters off the Xisha Islands on Monday without permission from the Chinese government. China dispatched aircraft and warships to warn the US vessel and has lodged a solemn representation with the US, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said at a daily briefing on Monday. The report is a good reminder that China is capable of safeguarding its territory, the anonymous expert said. “Even when launched from deeper inland areas of China, the DF-26 has a range far-reaching enough to cover the South China Sea.” It can hit targets 4,500 kilometers away, reported, making it capable of striking targets including US naval bases in Guam in the western Pacific. In April 2018, Ministry of National Defense announced that the missile has officially joined the PLA Rocket Force.
China’s reaction to US Navy operation: We have missiles – CNN
China claims to have deployed missiles “capable of targeting medium and large ships” days after the latest US Navy “freedom of navigation” operation near contested islands in the South China Sea, state media announced.
China-U.S. trade talks restart as warship clouds negotiations – CBS News
China complained of a sighting of a U.S. warship in what it said were Chinese waters, complicating new trade talks
World War 3: China’s army told to urgently prepare for war in warning to US and Taiwan | World | News |
CHINA must strengthen its armed forces and prepare for battle amid ongoing tensions with the US and Taiwan, China’s President has said.
China’s Xi calls on army to be battle-ready | Reuters
China’s armed forces must strengthen their sense of urgency and do everything they can to prepare for battle, President Xi Jinping told a meeting of top brass on Friday.
China tests its own ‘Mother of All Bombs’ – Channel NewsAsia
BEIJING: China has tested its most powerful non-nuclear weapon, dubbed the “Mother of All Bombs” by official media in a reference to a US munition …
China revealed the J-20 stealth fighter’s mission — and even the F-15 could likely wreck it – Business Insider Singapore

Chinese Huawei Executive Is Charged With Espionage in Poland – WSJ
Polish authorities detained and charged the sales director of Huawei’s local office, a Chinese national, for conducting high-level espionage, amid widening global scrutiny of the technology giant.
Huawei employee arrested in Poland over spying allegations
The news is likely to be another headache for Huawei, which has become enshrouded in controversy following the arrest of CFO Meng Wanzhou.
China has now detained 13 Canadians in wake of Huwei executive’s arrest, Canadian government says – NY Daily News
The Canadian government has revealed that 13 of its citizens have been detained in China since the arrest of Huawei Technologies Co. Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Dec. 1.
China accuses Canada of ‘white supremacy’ over the detention of Huawei CFO | Business Insider
Beijing’s ambassador to Canada accused Ottawa of showing “Western egotism and white supremacy” in the detention of Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei.
China’s Ambassador to Canada Blames ‘White Supremacy’ in Feud Over Arrests – The New York Times
Lu Shaye said in an op-ed for The Hill Times that Canadians applied “double standards,” viewing their own country’s laws as having to be observed, but not China’s.
China envoy accuses Canada of ‘double standards’ over Huawei arrest | Reuters
China’s ambassador to Ottawa has accused Canada of “double standards” and disregarding his country’s judicial sovereignty, in a diplomatic row sparked by the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States.
Bipartisan bill unveiled in Senate to stop China tech threats | Reuters
Two U.S. lawmakers who have been active in congressional efforts to address technology threats from China introduced a bill on Friday to create a White House office to fight state-sponsored technology theft and defend critical supply chains.
The China Syndrome – Foreign Policy
On the podcast: A former CIA analyst on Beijing’s interference in the affairs of other countries.

China To Let 2,000 Ethnic Kazakhs Relinquish Citizenship And Leave The Country : NPR
The announcement, from Kazakhstan’s Foreign Ministry, comes after reports of massive repression of ethnic Muslim minorities in far western China.
China permits exit of 2,000 ethnic Kazakhs from Xinjiang region | News | Al Jazeera
Kazakh foreign ministry says the group of ethnic Kazakhs will be allowed to drop their Chinese citizenship.
China ‘to let thousands of ethnic Kazakhs leave Xinjiang’ | World news | The Guardian
Kazakh foreign ministry says they will be allowed to drop their Chinese citizenship
China Targets Prominent Uighur Intellectuals to Erase an Ethnic Identity – The New York Times
The mass detention of Uighur artists, journalists and scholars has become an alarming symbol of the Communist Party’s most intense social-engineering drive in decades.
China says pace of Xinjiang ‘education’ will slow, but defends camps | Reuters
China will not back down on what it sees as a highly successful de-radicalisation program in Xinjiang that has attracted global concern, but fewer people will be sent through, officials said last week in allowing rare media access there.

China’s economy is terrible without the trade war – INSIDER
China’s economy is showing signs of extreme stress, and not just because of President Donald Trump’s trade war.
Trade war: China says US talks ‘laid ground’ to resolve dispute – BBC News
US and China officials held their first formal talks since both sides agreed to a trade war truce.
US-China trade talks wrap up in Beijing as hopes of a deal build
China’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that its three-day trade talks with the United States had concluded, and that results would soon be released.
University of California tells students not to use WeChat, WhatsApp in China – CNN
Students and faculty at the University of California (UC) have been warned not to use messaging apps and social media while visiting China, for fear their communications could be used against them by the country’s law enforcement agencies.
Chinese Censors Really Don’t Want You to Watch These Sex Ed Videos – Foreign Policy
Educator Chang Mengran is trying to teach Chinese women about their own bodies.

Is Taiwan’s Military Really Ready to Take on China? | The National Interest
We asked one of the world’s leading experts that very question.
Taiwan president calls for support to defend democracy | China News | Al Jazeera
Amid threats from China, Tsai Ing-wen says international community needs to come to the renegade island’s defence.
UAWire – Japan to give US new island for military exercises
The Japanese government is preparing to buy out the uninhabited island of Mageshima so that it can be used for military exercises by American …

Foreign Policy Reports

Window on Eurasia — New Series: US has Stopped Exporting Democracy While Russia and China are Exporting Authoritarianism, Nevzlin Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 11 – One of the most threatening trends in the increasingly interconnected world, Israeli-based Russian commentator Leonid Nevzlin says, is that the US has abdicated its role in the struggle for human rights and stopped exporting democracy at a time when Russia and China are dramatically increasing their efforts to export authoritarianism. Nevzlin’s observation comes in response to a Freedom House report which concludes that over the last 12 years, its freedom index has continuously falling, especially with respect to elections and freedom of the press ( A quarter of a century ago, it seemed to many, the Russian commentator says, that “totalitarianism had receded into the past and that democracy had taken firm roots. But now one can see a reverse process,” with the successes of several decades ago not holding or even being completely turned around. “The two main anti-democratic centers are Russia and China,” Nevzlin says. “Both not only have turned to repression at home but are exporting their harmful influence into other countries which are copying their behavior and share their contempt for democracy.” That trend undermines economic growth and threatens international security. Historically, the United States was the leader in exporting democracy to other countries, he and Freedom House point out. But in 2017, the Trump Administration “by its words and actions showed its desire to dispense with the principles which American leaders for the last seven decades have been guided by.” President Donald Trump expressed his admiration for “the most odious dictators and even has been ready to be friends with them,” Nevzlin says. “The result has been the inability and unwillingness of the Us to promote democracy by means of effectively opposing Russia and China.” That has put at risk “democratic values in the US itself,” the commentator says. And Russia and China have taken advantage of this, not simply to get away with their own authoritarianism which Trump doesn’t criticize or oppose but to promote their systems as models for others, something the US is doing ever less to counter. “Democracy is the lot of well-off free countries where corruption has been reduced to a minimum and the states themselves are open for new ideas and possibilities,” Nevzlin continues. “But in our time, it has become difficult to support democracy in some countries given the absence of democracy in others.” “The realities of globalization,” he concludes, mean that all countries are interconnected, for good as in the past or for ill now.
EU delegation bemoans Trump’s ‘harmful approach’ after ambassador status downgrade | TheHill
The European Union delegation for United States relations wrote to members of Congress on Wednesday to criticize the Trump administration’s approach to diplomacy with the longtime U.S.

Hacker confesses to stealing data from German leader, other politicians – CBS News
Officials said the hacker leaked the data because he was &quot;annoyed&quot; by some of the victims' public statements
Police Say Hacking Suspect, 20, Confessed To Posting German Leaders’ Private Data : NPR
The suspect told police he acted alone in publishing data stolen from accounts related to Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of other politicians. As for a motive, he said he was annoyed.
Suspect in massive German data hack was 20-year-old living with his parents | Fox News
One of the largest data leaks in German history, in which private information was published about 900 German politicians, was perpetrated by a 20-year-old hacker and student living in his parent’s house, authorities said.
Merkel, hundreds of German politicians hit by mass cyber breach | Fox News
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was just one of several politicians and high-profile persons targeted in a mass cyber theft in recent weeks.
German Politicians Targeted In Sweeping Hacking Attack : NPR
In the days before Christmas, the private data of some of Germany’s most powerful leaders was trickled out “in a kind of Advent calendar,” a German broadcaster reports.
German Politicians’ Data Hacked, Posted on Twitter
No sensitive information or data belonging to chancellery were compromised
German police say video footage contradicts far-right politician’s account of attack | TheHill
German authorities now say that video footage appears to contradict some claims made by far-right politician Frank Magnitz about a Monday night attack that left him hospitalized.
German far-right politician brutally beaten in ‘assassination attempt,’ party says | Fox News
A member of Germany’s parliament from the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) suffered serious injuries after he was attacked by three assailants in the northern city of Bremen Monday in what the party described as an “assassination attempt.”
German AfD Lawmaker Severely Injured in Bremen Street Attack – Bloomberg
A member of parliament for Germany’s far-right AfD party was severely beaten in the street in Bremen on Monday evening in what police said was probably a politically motivated attack.

Britons would now vote to stay in EU, want second referendum: poll | Reuters
More Britons want to remain a member of the European Union than leave, according to a survey published on Sunday which also showed voters want to make the final decision themselves.
Poll: Britons would vote against Brexit in second referendum | TheHill
Britons would vote against Brexit in a second referendum if it were held immediately, according to a new Yo
The Guardian view on Brexit: the government has failed – it’s time to go back to the people | Editorial | Opinion | The Guardian
Editorial: We urgently need innovative ways to resolve the referendum vote. Setting up a citizens’ assembly is the first step to break the impasse
Brexit: Jeremy Corbyn demands election to ‘break deadlock’ – BBC News
The Labour leader says Theresa May will lose the right to govern if her deal is voted down by MPs.
Brexit: Theresa May considering Labour MP’s demands on workers rights – BBC News
The government is considering a proposal by Labour MP John Mann to give extra protections to workers.
Brexit: Date for vote on Theresa May’s deal confirmed – BBC News
Ahead of the vote on 15 January, 209 MPs sign a letter urging the PM to rule out a no-deal Brexit.
Theresa May’s officials discussed extending Article 50 to delay Brexit | Business Insider
LONDON – British and European officials have discussed delaying Brexit amid fears Theresa May’s proposed withdrawal deal will be rejected in parliament.
Brexit vote: Parliament set to decide outcome of May’s withdrawal deal
British lawmakers are set to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal on Tuesday, with less than three months to go before the U.K. is set to leave the EU.
Brexit: Is the EU about to rescue Theresa May? – BBC News
Some believe the EU will make a concession on the Irish backstop to help Mrs May, Nick Watt reports.
No more tribal politics: MPs must be allowed a free vote on Brexit | Simon Jenkins | Opinion | The Guardian
MPs should decide individually what is best for the nation, says Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins
‘Snowflakes’ and ‘Me Me Me Millennials’ Asked to Join Ranks of British Army – The New York Times
A new ad campaign suggests that what is seen as a weakness or a character flaw by the rest of society can be considered a strength in the army.
The British Army is recruiting ‘snowflakes’ and ‘me me me millennials’ – Business Insider
The British Army is looking to bolster its numbers with “snowflakes, binge gamers, selfie addicts, phone zombies, and me me me millennials.”

Protesting ‘Slave Law,’ Thousands Take to Streets in Hungary – The New York Times
A law compelling people to work hundreds of hours of overtime without full or immediate compensation has created a new, and diverse, set of protesters.
Thousands rally against Hungary’s overtime work law, PM Orban | Reuters
Thousands marched through Budapest’s city center on Saturday to protest against a new law that allows employers to ask staff to work up to 400 hours per year of overtime.
Thousands in Budapest march against ‘slave law’ forcing overtime on workers | World news | The Guardian
Anger at Viktor Orbán’s rule in Hungary also directed at courts system and state media
Hungary Anti-Orban Protests Surge as Unions Threaten Strike – Bloomberg
Hungarian anti-government demonstrations showed no sign of abating after almost a month of rallies that have snowballed from workers’ demands to scrap a law on more overtime hours to a call for the end of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s illiberal rule.
Thousands March In Hungary Against New Labor Law
Thousands of people have marched on the streets of the Hungarian capital, Budapest to protest a new labor law pushed through by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

Poland prime minister accuses the EU of discrimination
Poland’s prime minister launched a heavy critique of the European Union, saying that Brussels can fail to treat different member states in a fair and balanced way.
Macedonian PM Urges Parliament To Back Name Change
Macedonian lawmakers have begun a crucial debate on renaming the country North Macedonia in order to resolve a decades-long dispute with neighboring Greece and open the way for NATO and European Un…
UAWire – Greece receives first batch of liquefied natural gas from the US
Greece has received the first batch of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States, 168 thousand/cubic meters (or 1,772,400 MWh), stated …
French Court Sentences Protest Artist Pavlensky, But Lets Him Walk Free
The court turned away a request by prosecutors, who had asked for 10 years for Pavlensky for his torching of the front door of a Paris branch of the Bank of France on October 16, 2017.
30 Years After the Rushdie Fatwa, Europe Is Moving Backward – Foreign Policy
Blasphemy laws have been given new life on the continent.
Canada wants to welcome more than 1 million new immigrants in the next three years – CNN
Remember when you said you wanted to move to Canada? Now is a good time to start packing your bags.
Norway Embarks On Its Most Ambitious Transport Project Yet : NPR
Norway’s rugged west coast features glaciers, waterfalls and fjords that are beautiful — but take a long time to navigate. A major infrastructure plan could cut travel time in half.
Israel believes Russia is trying to meddling in its elections, but feels it can foil their efforts – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Israel’s security service assures the public it is well prepared to thwart any foreign intervention in the country’s upcoming elections, after a warning such efforts are being made by a world power.

Scientists say recording of sound heard by U.S. diplomats in Cuba matches crickets
New research on a recording of strange sound heard by U.S. embassy workers who fell ill in Cuba indicates it matches the chirp of a certain species of cricket.
Mysterious Cuba ‘attack’ was crickets: study
Dozens of embassy workers fell ill after reportedly hearing strange sounds in Havana. Researchers believe those sounds were crickets.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro begins another six-year term as his country is in crisis – CNN
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro begins another six years in power Thursday with a collapsing economy that shows no sign of bottoming out and a threat from some Latin American neighbors who say they will not recognize his government.
Venezuela Is in Crisis. So How Did Maduro Secure a Second Term? – The New York Times
President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela was inaugurated for the second time on Thursday. How has he managed to maintain power?
Report: Venezuela jailing, torturing military amid coup fears | Miami Herald
A new report by Human Rights Watch and Foro Penal says Venezuelan military officials, and their families, are increasingly being detained and tortured amid coup fears.
Report: Military officers, relatives tortured in Venezuela | The Sacramento Bee
Human Rights Watch and the Venezuelan non-governmental group Foro Penal say law enforcement agencies in Venezuela have tortured military personnel and their relatives.
Venezuela Supreme Court judge Christian Zerpa flees to US – BBC News
Supreme Court judge Christian Zerpa says he fled to protest against President Nicolás Maduro’s rule.

Capability / Strategy / History Publications

Russia: Expect a National AI Roadmap by Midyear – Defense One
Moscow is starting to put financial and logistical muscle behind its efforts to develop artificial intelligence.
DARPA Thinks Insect Brains Might Hold the Secret to Next-Gen AI – Defense One
They’re small, efficient and capable of basic reasoning, and researchers want artificial intelligence tools to do the same.
Pentagon Seeks a List of Ethical Principles for Using AI in War – Defense One
An advisory board is drafting guidelines that may help shape worldwide norms for military artificial intelligence — and woo Silicon Valley to defense work.
New Satellites Will Use Radio Waves to Spy on Ships and Planes | WIRED
This month, HawkEye 360 will send up satellites that monitor the radio transmissions of ships, planes and other things on Earth, allowing them to be tracked by their communications.
The US Army’s three focus areas to avoid protracted combat
It’s all part of the Multi-Domain Operation concept.

Chinese state broadcaster unveils first image of new stealth drone – Defence Blog
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has released the first image of newest Tian Ying, or Sky Hawk, stealth jet-powered drone. Only a few days after the publication of the video showing the first flight of the new drone, was released first detailed photo of the newest Chinese stealth unmanned aircraft. The Tian Ying is a long-range stealth drone capable of carrying out a range of missions, from reconnaissance and early warning to air defense suppression, ground attack and air combat. New Chinse unmanned aircraft is developed by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC). According to local sources, the drone has internal weapons bays, making it capable of launching weapons, like anti-radiation missiles, air-to-ground or anti-ship missiles and long-distance precision-guided bombs. It is expected that the Tian Ying is 10 meters long and has a wingspan of 22-meters. It has a maximum take-off weight of 13,000 kilograms, with a cruise altitude of 10-13 kilometers, a cruising speed of 0.5-0.6 of a Mach, and can stay in flight for 15 hours.
Boeing delivers first KC-46, but fixes to technical problems still years away
The Air Force is withholding funds from Boeing upon delivery.
U.S. Air Force accepts first KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft – Defence Blog
Boeing has announced on 10 January that the U.S. Air Force accepted the first KC-46A Pegasus tanker aircraft, setting the stage for the aircraft’s delivery to McConnell Air Force Base, in Wichita, Kan., in the coming weeks. “The KC-46A is a proven, safe, multi-mission aircraft that will transform aerial refueling and mobility operations for decades to come. We look forward to working with the Air Force, and the Navy, during their initial operational test and evaluation of the KC-46, as we further demonstrate the operational capabilities of this next-generation aircraft across refueling, mobility and combat weapons systems missions,” said Leanne Caret, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security. “I want to thank the men and women of the Air Force and across the Boeing tanker team who made this happen.” During extensive flight testing, six KC-46 completed more than 3,800 flight hours and offloaded more than four million pounds of fuel to A-10, B-52, C-17, KC-10, KC-135, KC-46, F-15E, F-16 and F/A-18 aircraft. The Pegasus has been rigorously tested throughout all aspects of the refueling envelope and in all conditions, including day, night and covert. With the signing of what’s known as the DD250 paperwork, the delivery activities can proceed. McConnell Air Force Base will receive the first four KC-46 aircraft, all of which are ready for delivery, with four subsequent aircraft destined for Oklahoma’s Altus Air Force Base, beginning as early as next month. Boeing is on contract for 52 of an expected 179 tankers for the Air Force. Beyond the first aircraft that was accepted today, nine aircraft are undergoing customer acceptance testing with the remaining aircraft of the contracted amount in production. “This is an exciting and historic day for the Air Force and Boeing, as we hand over the first of many KC-46 tankers,” said Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg. “I’m proud of the dedication and commitment by our enterprise-wide team, and we’re honored to provide this valuable and capable aircraft to our customer. We look forward to continuing to build and support the KC-46 for the Air Force—and other customers across the globe—for decades to come.”
Boom Overture Supersonic Plane | Supersonic Airliners
Politicians and the private sector are lining up an unlikely comeback of airplanes that can carry passengers at more than twice the speed of sound. As regulations ease and money pours into commercial programs, the FAA must scramble to prepare the skies. And a NASA x-plane may get left behind.
Boeing Transonic Wings Power Commercial Jets at Just Under the Speed of Sound
The manufacturing giant is posed to deliver its ‘Transonic’ wings that will power commercial aircraft at just under the speed of sound.
Why the F-35 Will Soon Be Deadlier Than Ever | The National Interest
The new hardware and software, to be operational on the F-35 by 2021, includes seven racks per aircraft consisting of 1,500 module components, including new antennas and weapons release systems.

The U.S. Navy Quietly Tested Mach 3 Heavy Gun Shells That Could Revolutionize Surface Warfare
The new shells fire from a standard Navy gun and can down flying targets much more cheaply than missiles.
U.S. Navy secretly tested advanced hyper velocity projectiles – Defence Blog
The U.S. Navy secretly tested advanced hyper velocity projectiles capable of executing multiple missions for a number of gun systems during the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 international exercise. Twenty hyper velocity projectiles or next-generation, common, low drag, guided projectile were fired from the destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) as part of a study conducted by the U.S. Navy and the Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), unnamed officials familiar with the test told USNI on Monday. USNI News got the scoop on the previously unannounced tests, citing anonymous sources, but did not say specifically when the test firing had occurred or if the experiments had successfully fulfilled all of the test points. According to USNI media report, the test, conducted by the Navy and the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office as part of the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2018 international exercise, was part of a series of studies to prove the Navy could turn the more than 40-year-old deck gun design into an effective and low-cost weapon against cruise missiles and larger unmanned aerial vehicles. The hyper velocity projectile is being cast as a low-cost alternative to the weapons currently used against cruise missile threats. Each Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, for example, costs $2 million; every Rolling Airframe Missile runs another $1 million; shooting a single Standard Missile 2 has a price greater than $400,000. “If you think about the kinds of threats you might face in the Middle East, the lower-end cruise missiles or a larger UAV, now you have a way to shoot them down that doesn’t require you use a $2 million ESSM or $1 million RAM, because a hyper velocity projectile — even in the highest-end estimates have it in the $75,000 to $100,000 range, and that’s for the fanciest version of it with an onboard seeker,” Bryan Clark of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments told USNI News. Officials told the publication the RIMPAC test was unclassified, but the Office of Secretary of Defense and the Office of Naval Research have declined to acknowledge it. The hyper velocity projectile (HVP) is a next-generation, common, low drag, guided projectile capable of executing multiple missions for a number of gun systems, such as the Navy 5-Inch; Navy, Marine Corps, and Army 155-mm systems; and future electromagnetic (EM) railguns. Types of missions performed will depend on the gun system and platform, but range from Naval Surface Fire, to Cruise and Ballistic Missile Defense, Anti-Surface Warfare and other future Naval mission areas.
U.S. Army seeks to apply innovative muzzle brake design for artillery – Defence Blog
The U.S. Army seeks to apply innovative muzzle brake design for the extended range cannon artillery, according to citing the U.S. Department of Defense. TFB reported on 9 January that on the website of a U.S. government program called SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) was published a solicitation for designing an innovative muzzle brake for extended range cannon artillery systems. U.S. Army seeks to receive novel muzzle brake structures for extended range cannon artillery systems that reduce mass while maintaining or improving recoil reduction, signature management, durability, and operator safety. In notice said that civen the Army’s Long Range Precision Fires priority, a need exists for novel and innovative muzzle brakes capable of supporting the new extended range cannons and sabot, direct, and indirect munitions currently under development. High pressure waves produced within gun barrels during projectile acceleration have negative impact upon the surrounding environment due to muzzle blast flow fields exiting the barrel. The negative consequences, such as recoil and noise production, can be alleviated by redirecting propellant gases. Muzzle brakes have been used for decades to efficiently redirect propellant gas, resulting in effective performance gains. However, recent advances in multi-disciplinary design optimization and additive manufacturing techniques show promise for muzzle brake weight reduction while maintaining the favorable flow field response and resistance to the resulting thermal and pressure loadingMuzzle brakes are subject to complex loading due to shock wave characteristics from both the propellant explosion and its interaction with the projectile. Typical pressure and thermal conditions in the vicinity of the barrel exit have been found to be as much as 10-12 ksi and 2000 K, respectively. These conditions are dynamic and vary based on the firing inclination of the gun barrel. Muzzle brakes are also subjected to material degradation due to collisions with small particles exiting the gun barrel, such as solid propellant grains that did not undergo combustion.
In 2005, the U.S. Navy Tried to Sink One of Its Old Aircraft Carriers. It Wasn’t Easy. | The National Interest
China should learn from this. 

MBDA demonstrates the anti-surface capabilities of the Mistral missile – Defence Blog
European guided weapons house MBDA demonstrated the use of the Mistral missile against fast boats such as FIACs (Fast Inshore Attack Craft). A number of foreign delegations attended the demonstration firing that was performed from a SIMBAD-RC automated naval turret firing from the land against a fast moving remotely-controlled semi-rigid boat more than 3 kilometres off the coast. The scenario was intended to be representative of the self-protection of a vessel against an asymmetric threat (commando or terrorist attack). In its latest version currently in service with the French armed forces, the Mistral is an air defence missile equipped with an imaging infrared seeker with advanced image processing capabilities that allow it to engage low thermal signature targets from a long distance (such targets include UAVs, missiles and fast boats), whilst at the same time offering excellent resistance to countermeasures. The SIMBAD-RC is a remotely-controlled very short range naval air defence system that provides highly efficient capacities against a wide range of threats, from combat aircraft through anti-ship missiles to small-sized threats such as UAVs. The system is easy to install and thus provides small units or support vessels with a true self-defence capacity, or can even ensure reinforced defence for the other types of surface vessels. Each turret supports two ready-to-fire Mistral missiles. The turret is remotely-operated, allowing the operator to remain under cover in the vessel’s operation centre, and thus ensures longer operational availability in case of a combat alert.
BAE Systems contracted for 30 Amphibious Combat Vehicles – Defence Blog
The U.S. Marine Corps has issued a contract to BAE Systems Land & Armaments (a wholly owned subsidiary of BAE Systems) for 30 Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACV). The terms of the deal, announced by the U.S. Department of Defense, come under a modified agreement for BAE Systems to provide production of fully amphibious, ship-launchable and ship-recoverable 8×8 wheeled combat vehicles. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, BAE Systems Land & Armaments LP, is awarded a $140,3 million modification to exercise options for the fixed-price-incentive (firm target) Contract Line Item Numbers (CLIN) 3001, 3002, and 3003 portions of a previously awarded contract (M67854-16-C-0006). This modification is for the purchase of 30 Amphibious Combat Vehicles and associated production, fielding and support costs, to a December 6th statement. Work will be performed in York, Pennsylvania; and Aiken, South Carolina, and is expected to be completed in August 2020. According to BAE Systems, ACV is an advanced 8×8 open ocean-capable vehicle that is based on a platform developed by IVECO Defence Vehicles. It is equipped with a new 6-cylinder, 700HP power pack, which provides a significant power increase over the current Assault Amphibious Vehicle. The vehicle performs best in class mobility in all terrains and has a suspended interior seat structure for 13 embarked Marines, blast mitigating positions for a crew of three, and improved survivability and force protection over currently fielded systems. Tags: USA
U.S. Department of Defense ordered Carl-Gustaf recoilless rifle systems – Defence Blog
Saab has announced that the company has received an ammunition order from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) for the Carl-Gustaf man-portable weapon system. According to Saab’s statement, the total order value is $16 million and deliveries of Gustaf bazooka will take place in 2020. The order, covering multiple ammunition types for the Carl-Gustaf 84-mm recoilless rifle system known in the U.S. as M3 MAAWS (Multi-role, Anti-armor, Anti-personnel Weapon System), is placed under the terms of contract H92222-14-D-0008 originally announced by the DoD in August 2014 covering a 5 year contract period that lets the customer place orders up to US$187 million (approximately 1.3 BSEK) ceiling. “We are pleased to see that the DoD keeps investing in the Carl-Gustaf system, and we are proud to provide them with our world-leading Carl-Gustaf ammunition. It is clear evidence of the customer’s trust in us and in the capabilities of our products”, says Görgen Johansson, Senior Vice President and head of Saab’s business area Dynamics. “With the system now also being fielded in greater numbers to light infantry units in multiple theatres, the mission flexibility provided by multiple munition types available to the operator are delivering great agility and capability to the warfighter,” says Erik Smith, President and CEO of Saab Defense and Security USA.
Russia’s upgraded Leopard-M surveillance radar enters service – Defence Blog
The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has announced on 8 January that upgraded SNAR-10 M1, or also named the Leopard-M, self-propelled surveillance radar arrived at the Central Military District. According to a statement, SNAR-10 M1 antitank radar enters the service with troops of Central Military District under state defense order. “The new station strengthens the combat capabilities of the artillery units of the tank formation stationed in the South Urals,” – said in a statement. SNAR-10 M1 radar is designed for reconnaissance of moving ground, air and surface targets. The modern radar can detect vehicles, manpower, exploding shells at a range of 200m – 40km. The station is equipped with an internal and external communication system with automated data transmission, and satellite navigation. Autonomous operation of the complex is at least three days. The crew is four people strong. The radar can be deployed into combat position in max 5.5 minutes. The radar system is equipped with modern intercommunication and external communication facilities for automated data transmission, and an autonomous navigation system with digital terrain maps and satellite navigation subsystem. Standard equipment of the SNAR-10M1 includes autonomous navigation facilities with GLONASS/GPS, digital terrain map, intercommunication and external communication facilities and data transmission equipment.
Russia will counter drones over Moscow with … its own drones
Informed by its recent military experiences, Moscow’s counter-drone systems will use drones for electronic warfare.
Why China’s Military Wants to Beat the US to a Next-Gen Cell Network – Defense One
For Beijing, the race to 5G has always been linked to its national strategy for military-civil fusion.
Fighter jet vanishes from radar in eastern France – BBC News
The Mirage 2000-D with two crew members vanishes from radar among mountains in the east.
Scientists Find a New Way to Create the Plutonium That Powers Deep Space Missions
A long-simmering crisis for deep space missions ends before it could become a problem.

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports

What will it take to monitor and secure mobile military networks?
Soldiers in combat require immediate access to information, which requires a dependable and secure network. Army leaders must have a system in place that allows them to quickly address problems and bottlenecks as they occur.
Lawsuit could set precedent for cyber insurance industry
A legal case from the maker of Oreos demanding that the company’s insurance carrier cover the costs of a cyberattack could set an important precedent for the insurance industry.
China is hacking America’s secrets. Can legislation stop it?
Proposed legislation would create a new office in the White House that tackles the theft of state-sponsored technology and secure the American supply chain through a new national strategy and promotion of better cyber hygiene.
Here’s the Army’s latest electronic warfare project
Dubbed Raven Feather, the Army is taking aim at platforms and vehicles.
Google nears win in Europe over ‘right to be forgotten’ | Fox News

Google and other search engines shouldn’t be forced to apply the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” beyond the bloc’s borders, an adviser to the EU’s top court argued Thursday.Bloomberg: A Global Guide To State Sponsored Trolling – To Inform is to InfluenceThis is a fair to mediocre guide to state-sponsored trolling, there is a strong bias in the writing and a distinct lack of any documentation. I apologize for not sharing this guide previously, but I was just sent the link this morning. Just a quick analysis of their paragraph focusing on the United States. “UNITED…PayPal Drops USA Really, Sanctioned Russian Propaganda Site – To Inform is to InfluenceThe website USA Really is the Russian propaganda website started by the Russian Federal News Agency, which is also affiliated with the Russian Troll Farm. Sanctions made dealing with USA Really not feasible, so PayPal removed their fundraising capability. Though the connection with the Internet Research Agency and Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russia Federal News Agency is not proven from my perspective, the relationship was severed. It is interesting that the removal of PayPal services is not a story on USA Really. They could easily spin this and say “unwarranted” and “not deserved”, even though it is. “Western Provocation”, although it is not. The website is small, it is slow, and it may be underfunded. For the most part, it has been ignored, it does not have the staff of RT or Sputnik. It is also interesting that GoDaddy removed them from their servers. This is yet another shot to Russian propaganda, albeit a small one. </end editorial>Predicting Russian Trolls Using Reddit Comments – To Inform is to InfluenceUsing Machine Learning to Predict Russian Trolls Brandon PunturoFollow Jan 8 Code for those Interested Introduction Russia has long maintained a contentious relationship with countries in the west. Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, has long been known as a Russian nationalist who will do anything to advance the interests of his country (Marten 2018). This has…New Documents Reveal Covert UK Military-Intelligence Smear Machine Meddling In US PoliticsWith the help of John Rendon and the State Department’s Global Engagement Center, the Integrity Initiative brings its disinformation campaign to the US.

Right wing pensioners are SEVEN TIMES more likely to spread fake news | Daily Mail OnlineNinety per cent of people did not share fake news during the US 2016 election but those who did were nearly a fifth (18 per cent) republicans aged 65 or over.Who spreads the most fake news on Facebook? These two groups of people – MarketWatchPeople over 65 and ultra conservatives shared the most false information during the 2016 election.Senior Citizens Are Most Likely to Share Fake News on Facebook – Pacific StandardNew research finds the 65-and-over demographic was most inclined to share fabricated news reports during the 2016 presidential campaign.Study: Older People Are More Susceptible to Fake News, More Likely to Share It | Politics | US NewsA new study found that 11 percent of people aged 65 and older shared fake news stories on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election.Why Fighting Fake News With the Facts Might Not Be Enough – The New York Times“Down to Earth,” by Bruno Latour, and “The Misinformation Age,” by Cailin O’Connor and James Owen Weatherall, help us think through an era in which the idea of truth has become a political football.Let’s teach 1 million teenagers how to spot fake news by 2020 | TheHillIt’s truly needed.How Google-backed MediaWise is teaching teens media literacy – DigidayMediaWise hopes to educate at least 1 million teens about media literacy and deciphering fake news versus real news by 2020.You can blame your baby boomer parents for spreading fake news – VICE News“Aside from the overall rarity of the practice, our most robust and consistent finding is that older Americans were more likely to share articles from fake news domains.”Evaluating Information: The Cornerstone of Civic Online Reasoning | Stanford Digital RepositoryOver the last year and a half, the Stanford History Education Group has prototyped, field tested, and validated a bank of assessments that tap civic online reasoning—the ability to judge the cred…Can You Tell Fake News From Real? Study Finds Students Have ‘Dismaying’ Inability : The Two-Way : NPRStanford researchers assessed students from middle school to college and found they struggled to distinguish ads from articles, neutral sources from biased ones and fake accounts from real ones.Three ways national media will further undermine trust » Nieman Journalism Lab“It’s not that journalists shouldn’t engage in fact-checking, nor is it that journalists should avoid presenting facts as verifiable and trustworthy claims about the world — it’s that they shouldn’t be so obnoxious about it.”

US Domestic Policy Reports

Democrats Are Wrong About Defense Spending – Defense One
The need for investment is only likely to grow in the coming years.
Trump says U.S. not to take part in wars without substantial help from rich countries | UNIAN
U.S. President Donald Trump believes that the U.S. participation in wars from which other countries benefit will “eventually come to an end.” The American president earlier announced the withdrawal of the U.S. military contingent from Syria.
Patrick Shanahan may get defense secretary job over Jim Webb – Vox
Trump may choose former Boeing boss Shanahan to lead the Pentagon after Jim Mattis resigned over Syria.
NY Times’ Maggie Haberman: Chances of Defense Secretary Jim Webb ‘not high’ | TheHill
New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman said Friday that the chances of former Democratic senator and presidential candidate Jim Webb being named President Trump’s next defense secretary are ultimately “not high.”
Shanahan and China
New Pentagon chief under scrutiny over perceived Boeing bias – POLITICO
Concerns about Patrick Shanahan’s Boeing ties have re-emerged since President Donald Trump said he may be running the Pentagon “for a long time.“
Trump’s new Pentagon chief reportedly said the $1 trillion F-35 is ‘f—–‘ and shouldn’t have been made | Business Insider
The new defence chief, a former Boeing employee, has reportedly been extremely critical of Lockheed Martin’s embattled F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter in private meetings, raising questions about whether he is biased in overseeing the largest weapons program in history.
Can Pat Shanahan Serve as ‘Acting’ Defense Secretary Forever? – Defense One
The law is unclear, and the situation all but unprecedented.
Trump Instructs Pentagon to Curb Watchdogs’ Access to Secret Military Reports – Defense One
Transparency groups decry move as hindering the work of inspectors general.
A retired general has twice turned Trump down to be defence secretary — a sign Trump has a self-inflicted personnel problem | Business Insider
Despite President Donald Trump’s stated satisfaction with acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan, the White House has reportedly stepped up its search for a replacement for Shanahan’s predecessor, Jim Mattis, who resigned late last year.
Former U.S. Defense Chief Harold Brown Dies At 91
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Harold Brown, who ordered the doomed mission to rescue hostages held by Iran in 1980 and negotiated arms control with the Soviets, has died 91 years of age.
Trump should halt court-martial of Navy SEAL accused of murdering ISIS supporter, GOP lawmaker says | Fox News
A decorated Navy SEAL accused of war crime charges in the 2017 stabbing death of a teenage ISIS supporter pleaded not guilty Friday during a court appearance in San Diego, according to reports.
Military Logistics System Not Ready for War With China or Russia
The strategic American military system for moving troops, weapons, and supplies over long distances has decayed significantly and needs rapid upgrading.
FBI arrests Russian national for illegal defense trade in Florida — Meduza
Vladivostok businessman Dmitrii Makarenko owns six companies, including one currently constructing Kalina Mall, a large new shopping complex in the city. A man by the same name was arrested in the Northern Mariana Islands on December 29 and charged in the United States with money laundering and conspiracy to export defense articles without a license.

LtGen David Deptula | U.S. Strategy For Syria Should Emphasize Air Power
Trump will not ‘lose the peace’ in Syria if he uses air power wisely in conjunction with friendly coalition ground forces. His challenge will be to find a secretary of defense not steeped in the conventional, costly ‘boots-on-the-ground’ mindset that has been predominant in U.S. national security.
Nukes, drugs, and an enemies list: Reasons to be wary in 2019 | TheHill
Among top foreign policy challenges facing the US in 2019 are North Korea, China, Russia and Iran.

House Democrats Demand Briefing On Russia Sanctions Move
Seven House committee leaders have called on U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to outline the reasons why the United States is easing sanctions on entities connected to Russian oligarch Oleg D…
U.S. Lawmakers Slam Treasury Secretary Over Sanctions Relief For Deripaska
Congress has been reviewing an administration’s decision announced in December to lift sanctions against three companies that Deripaska controls
House committee chiefs press Mnuchin for answers on sanctions relief for Russian oligarch | TheHill
A group of Democrats leading seven powerful House committees are calling on the Trump administration to delay its decision to ease sanctions on businesses linked to a prominent Russian oligarch, while demanding further information about the m
Mnuchin to brief lawmakers about easing sanctions on firms linked to Putin friend
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will brief lawmakers in the House on Thursday about his department’s plan to terminate sanctions on three companies linked to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire with ties to Vladimir Putin.
Trump administration snubs European diplomats in U.S.: officials | Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has lowered the status of the European Union’s diplomats in Washington without notifying Brussels, EU officials said on Tuesday.
Trump’s totally bizarre Cabinet meeting: 36 wackiest lines from Donald – CNNPolitics
President Donald Trump celebrated the new year with a 90+ minute Cabinet meeting on Wednesday — and cameras were rolling the entire time.
Trump Comments Provoke Shock and Outrage in Israel and India | Fortune
“We are in a state of shock,” a senior Israeli source is reported to have responded.
‘They can do what they want’: Trump’s Iran comments defy the position of his top aides – The Washington Post
Demise of plan to remain in Syria until Iranian forces depart illustrates dramatic turnarounds that have characterized president’s foreign policy.
Project Birmingham Appears To Be Politics As Usual – To Inform is to Influence
The following Washington Post story, Secret campaign to use Russian-inspired tactics in 2017 Ala. election stirs anxiety for Democrats, strikes me as insincere, deceitful, and ignorant.  After reading the report multiple times, I couldn’t see anything new in what Project Birmingham was doing. It looks like “politics as usual” or even Political Warfare. Do whatever you…

Mueller news: the past 24 hours in Trump-Russia developments, explained – Vox
Manafort’s redaction fail, Veselnitskaya indicted, Rosenstein’s reported exit, and more.
Prosecutors Examining Ukrainians Who Flocked to Trump Inaugural – The New York Times
The Ukrainians were in Washington pushing plans that, in some cases, would have steered the incoming administration to lift tough sanctions on Russia.
Feds probe Ukrainian lobbyists who attended Trump inauguration
Federal prosecutors are reportedly probing Ukrainian lobbyists who attended President Trump’s inaugural ball as part of Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump denies knowledge of Manafort’s alleged contact with suspected ex-Russian agent – ABC News
President Donald Trump on Thursday claimed he had no knowledge that Paul Manafort allegedly shared polling data with a suspected former Russian intelligence officer.
Trump Tower Meeting Lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya Charged With Lying About Secret Work with Russian Officials
The attorney is most famous for her role in a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Don Jr., Kushner, and Manafort.
Russian Lawyer Who Met With Trump’s Son Charged By U.S. In Money Laundering Case
A Russian lawyer whose participation in a 2016 meeting with top officials of U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign has given rise to allegations of collusion has been charged with obstr…
Why the latest Paul Manafort news is a very big deal – CNNPolitics
On Tuesday we learned — thanks to a redaction error in a filing in the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference — that Paul Manafort met with a Russian-linked operative named Konstantin Kilimnik during the course of the 2016 campaign. And in that meeting, according to special counsel Robert Mueller’s office, Manafort discussed policies related to the Russia-Ukraine relationship and shared polling data about the 2016 campaign with Kilimnik.
Manafort suffering depression, gout behind bars: lawyers
Manafort is being kept in solitary confinement “to ensure his safety” but the conditions “have taken a toll on his physical and mental health.”
Manafort’s lawyers made a formatting error in a new court filing and accidentally revealed a slew of bombshells about his alleged lies to Mueller | Business Insider
Lawyers representing Paul Manafort, the former chairman of President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, made a formatting error in a new court filing that accidentally revealed more details about Manafort’s alleged lies to prosecutors after he struck a plea deal with the special counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller Thinks Paul Manafort Shared Trump Polling Data With Russian Operative | HuffPost Australia
The information was accidentally revealed because of poor redactions by Manafort’s legal team.
Manafort Accused of Sharing Trump Campaign Data With Russian Associate – The New York Times
The accusations that Paul Manafort shared polling data were inadvertently revealed in a court filing by his lawyers. The associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, had links to Russian intelligence.
Mueller believes Manafort fed info to Russian with intelligence ties – YouTube
CNN Published on Jan 8, 2019 Special counsel Robert Mueller believes that Paul Manafort was sharing polling data and discussing Russian-Ukrainian policy with his close Russian-intelligence-linked associate, Konstantin Kilimnik, while he led the Trump presidential campaign, according to parts of a court filing that were meant to be redacted by Manafort’s legal team but were released publicly. #CNN #News
Manafort Allegedly Shared Polling Data With Russian Operative
The filing was made January 8 by defense lawyers for Paul Manafort, who has already been convicted by a federal jury and has pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges stemming from work he did for Ukrai…
Akhmetov, Lyovochkin involved in Manafort case – CNN
Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, allegedly passed data from sociological polls related to the U.S. presidential election to Ukrainian oligarchs Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, CNN has reported, with reference to a person familiar with the matter. — Ukrinform
Donald Trump’s team had 100 contacts with Russian-linked officials: report
The findings, tracked by the Center for American Progress, come amid reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is finishing his investigation.