Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (66)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Maas on the INF, VKS suffers midair near Japan, Russia’s internal decay continues, while the exodus of talent continues, updates on Central Asia and Caucasus – Russia is becoming toxic. Unusual developments in Belarus as Russia is seen in Minsk as increasingly toxic.

Iran’s satellite launch fails – note to the genius observers claiming liquid-fuelled rockets are no good as ICBMs, the primary Russian Voevoda / SATAN ICBM is liquid fuelled. Claims the Administration looked at military options for dealing with Iran. Updates on Syria, Turkey, Israel.

China Military Power annual report released. USN/RN FONOP. Huawei problems escalate. Updates on the Chinese economy and Taiwan. Interesting developments in the UK, Germany, France, Hungary, and Balkans. Much on Venezuela.

Capability updates on multiple programs, especially interesting are US ASCM reports and KC-46 analysis.

Deep fakes and other reports of interest.

Most interesting US domestic reports are on Star Wars Redux. Immense volume of media traffic on the Russia investigation and Manafort.


 

NATO / EU / Russia Reports

 


 

German Foreign Minister Urges Russia To Save INF Treaty
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has urged Russia to help prevent a new arms race by saving a key arms treaty with the United States.
Finland to buy counter-artillery radars – Defence Blog
Minister of Defense Jussi Niinisto has authorized Finnish Defense Forces’ Logistics Command on January 11, 2018 to acquire counter-battery radars. In a statement made Friday, the Finnish Ministry of Defense reported that the acquisition of new counter-battery radars will significantly increase Finnish artillery’s counter-battery efficiency, thereby also degrading enemy firepower. Radar systems, training systems and spare parts for the counter-battery radars will be procured from Israeli ELTA Systems company. The Finnish Defense Forces declined to comment on the value of the deal and did not disclose the number of anti-battery radar systems involved. The price of such acquisitions is usually made public, but in this case it was deemed to be critical information about the Army’s performance capabilities and therefore too sensitive to reveal. The Israeli contractor ELTA Systems emerged winner of an international bidding round to supply the materiel. The first units are expected to be delivered in 2021. The deal also includes an option to later order new radar units on terms to be separately agreed. Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö said Finland needs the new radar units, which have been highlighted in conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. The systems can also be used for fire management and air traffic control. “Artillery needs to be mobile and if its anti-battery radar doesn’t conform to modern warfare [standards], then it is no use,” the minister noted.
Soviet Economic Gaslighting of Latvia and the Baltic State – To Inform is to Influence
The NATO STRATCOM COE in Riga, Latvia published a very enlightening report in the spring of 2018, I only stumbled across it today. Gatis Krūmiņš is the author of “Soviet Economic Gaslighting of Latvia and the Baltic State“. I read through the whole thing and I was amazed. The Soviet Union not only consistently lied to the citizens of Latvia, but they also used and abused them badly. One of the things I have complained about in recent years is Russian historical revisionism. This is also well documented as occurring in Latvia by the Soviets. Only 29 pages long (it starts on page 49), and every page is full of facts.


Two Su-34 fighter-bombers collide in Russia’s Far East – Defence Blog
Two Su-34 fighter-bombers have collided mid-air during flights in Russia’s Far East on Friday, according to a source in the regional law enforcement agencies. “Two Su-34 aircraft flying from the sea collided mid-air. The crew of one aircraft ejected. The fate of both crews is unknown yet,” he said. According to the source, “the incident occurred about an hour ago.” The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed information about the mid-air collision. “The aircraft crews have ejected. An An-12 and two Mi-8 helicopters from the search and rescue forces are searching for the pilots in the area where they ejected. The planes performed the flight without ammunition,” the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement. At around 11:00 Moscow time, the search and rescue helicopter rescued one of the Su-34’s pilots on the life raft at sea with adverse weather conditions. Later, rescuers managed to find the second pilot of the Su-34. Flights of the Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers have been suspended throughout Russia following an accident in the Far East, a source in the Russian Defense Ministry told TASS on Monday. Based on the Soviet Union’s potent Su-27 air superiority fighter, the Su-34 Fullback is the Russian Air Force’s long-range strike aircraft of choice. The Su-34, dubbed “Fullback” by NATO, is one of Russia’s most capable aircraft — able to engage targets on the ground and in the air — and has been used extensively in Syria. The 45 ton, Mach 1.8-capable Russian Su-34, designed to carry up to 8 tons of weaponry, has a tactical radius of 4,000 km, and a flight ceiling of 18,000 meters. The plane can also be equipped with up to three additional fuel tanks, allowing it to fly 8 hours without refueling. *This is a developing story. More details will be added as they emerge.
Russian Military Jets Collide Over Sea Of Japan
Two Russian jets have collided in midair in the Far East, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Two Su-34 jets collide mid-air in Russia’s Far East – media | UNIAN
A pair of Su-34 fighter-bomber jets collided mid-air over the Tatar Strait in Russia’s far eastern Khabarovsk Territory. A search and rescue operation is underway why the fate of the crew remains unclear.
Two Su-34 jets collide in Russia
18.01.19 13:08 – Two Su-34 jets collide in Russia Two Sukhoi (Su-34) fighter bombers have collided in mid-air over the Tatar Strait View news.

 


 

Russia / Russophone Reports

 


 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ever More Russians Drawing Analogies between Russia Now and Russia in 1917, Kagarlitsky Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 15 – Ever more Russians are drawing analogies between their country today and its situation in 1917 and between Vladimir Putin and the last tsar Nicholas II, sociologist and commentator Boris Kagarlitsky says; and this is quite “logical” given the tone deaf reaction of the powers that be in both cases to growing popular anger. Kagarlitsky, who approaches these questions from the point of view of Marxist analysis, tells Yevgeny Rychkov of the Nakanune news agency that most officials assumed that the Russian people would swallow the pension reform and not find any way to move from grumbling to protest (nakanune.ru/articles/114784/). That is because the powers that be thought that things were fine; and as a result, they did not understand that “in fact the pension ‘reform’ was simply the last drop” that overfilled the cup of popular anger about the regime’s failure to keep its promises and ensure that the population’s standard of living rose instead of fell. Such anger was palpable already in 2016 if not earlier, Kagarlitsky says; but it came into focus because the pension “reform” provided people with an occasion to “articulate and consolidate” their feelings. The authorities indeed should be pleased that things did not go beyond permitted meetings. That will happen if the powers don’t react more adequately. Now that the people have changed their attitude toward the powers “in general,” each new action by the authorities, as can be seen with the Kuriles discussion, will push them toward ever greater radicalization. Earlier, the authorities could count on people coming to terms or being distracted by foreign adventures; but that is no longer the case. Until recently, he continues, Russians viewed the government as bad but nonetheless “a close relative. He was awful but “all the same was ours.” But “now, the attitude toward the authorities is that toward a mortal enemy with whom one cannot come to terms or even have a conversation.” “And there is no path back,” Kagarlitsky says. “This is a hopeless situation.” And curiously, “however strange it may seem,” he continues, the protests in France and in India are prompting the Putin regime to consider what may be ahead for them for the first time. Once again, Russia is finding itself in “the paradox of revolutionary situations.” The general problem is always more or less recognized, but what is invariably unexpected is the proximate cause which transforms those feelings into revolutionary action. A combination of “the absolutely expected” and “the absolutely unexpected.”
Thousands of Russians have joined something called the ‘Union SSR’ trade union, calling themselves Soviet citizens and refusing to pay their bills — Meduza
If you call the telephone number listed on the website for the “Union SSR” trade union, a friendly woman answers the phone. For some reason, the first question she asks is “What do you do for a living?” Then she invites you to join. In her words, the organization’s focus is “helping people.” Membership in the group has some unusual perks, including not paying for electricity and other public utilities, “in accordance with the officially functioning social contract.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: The West’s Failure in 1991 Must Not Be Repeated Now
Paul Goble Staunton, January 13 – Twenty-eight years ago today, Moscow sent troops to Lithuania and killed 13 people in the vain hope of blocking that Baltic country from recovering its independence. The Soviet government even timed this operation while the West was focused on preparations for the first Gulf War in the expectation that there would not be a harsh reaction. Because the three Baltic countries did recover their de facto independence in August and because the USSR fell apart shortly thereafter, many in the West now view 1991 what Western governments did then as a string of brilliantly designed policies that led to these impressive victories. But that is hardly the entire story: indeed, it gets in the way of what is needed now. US-led containment policies and the Soviet leadership’s effort to counter them, something that exhausted the USSR, did play key roles in the demise of the communist system. But neither played the role in the recovery of independence by the Baltic countries or the achievement of independence elsewhere that many now ascribe to them. Painfully few people in Washington or other Western capitals believed that the USSR was an empire or could ever fall apart. Indeed, most were dismissive of that possibility even after Vilnius. And they remained dismissive of the power of nationality to destroy the Soviet empire to the end. Moscow had nukes, the thinking ran, and therefore the USSR could not fall apart. That represented a serious failure of imagination and of information gathering. Few in the governments or the societies in the West believed that there could be a post-Soviet future and therefore stayed with Moscow far longer than was necessary and ignored the non-Russians far more than was justified. Of course, because the non-Russians ultimately succeeded in escaping from the grasp of Moscow, Western leaders ran to take credit for what they had in fact not only dismissed but ignored. And Western scholars and commentators have followed their line, cementing the legend that 1991 was a great victory for the West. In fact, it was a failure at least in part. Had we been paying closer attention, had we developed expertise about the Soviet Union beyond the ring road around Moscow, we might have been able to design better policies than those that were put in place and have achieved a much better result than what has happened. Indeed, many of the worst developments since 1991 in the region, including Moscow’s vicious Chechen wars and Putin’s rise and imposition of a new and aggressive authoritarianism directed at his own people as well as at Georgia, Ukraine and now Belarus might have been avoided or at least limited. Of course, good information does not guarantee good policy: The former can be ignored if those who make policy choose to. But good policy without good information is all too often a random event. It is certainly something that no one should count on. We in the West “lucked out” in 1991 but that should not keep us from recognizing that we were supremely lucky rather than brilliantly led as far as the collapse of the Soviet Empire was concerned. Far more than anyone wants to admit, we were flying blind because of our own lack of knowledge and our lack of imagination that tomorrow could be different than today. There is a real danger we are repeating the same mistake now. In a brilliant new article, Janusz Bugajski, a senior fellow at the Washington Center for European Policy Analysis, warns that “neglecting Russia’s dissolution may prove more damaging to Western interests than making preparations to manage its international repercussions” (thehill.com/opinion/national-security/424511-managing-russias-dissolution). “The sudden collapse of the Soviet Union,” he writes, “should serve as a lesson that far-reaching transformations occur regardless of the Kremlin’s disinformation campaigns or the West’s shortsighted adherence to a transient status quo.” We must imagine a world that is coming into existence if we are going to play a role in structuring it, Bugajski says, We must pay more attention not only to nations still within the Russian Federation, some of which will eventually form new states as Russia continues its imperial decay. But even more, as the author of these lines has argued, we must focus on regions because in the next round of Russian imperial decay, regions will play a larger role than even the non-Russians (region.expert/regionalism-next-nationalism/). Unfortunately, there are at least three reasons why focusing attention on the regions within the borders of the Russian Federation is more difficult. First, old analysts like old generals fight the last battle over and assume the future will be like the past. The Soviet Union fell apart on ethnic lines so the Russian Federation should do the same, in this view. That is a mistake both because the non-Russians form a far smaller portion of the Russian Federation population – they make up less than half of the percentage they did in the USSR – and because the regions, both as drawn by Moscow and even more as imagined by their own peoples, are bigger players. In short, Siberia matters more than Chechnya. Second, studying regions is harder than studying nations. Not only is there the widespread but false notion that only ethnicity matters but there is the even more widespread and more false idea that those Moscow identifies as “ethnic Russians” are united and the same whether they live on the Pacific coast or in the exclave of Kaliningrad. Regionalism doesn’t have the same cachet ethnicity does and has not attracted nearly as much attention, journalistically, scholarly or politically, as nationalism. But it may under certain circumstances in many countries, even remarkably small ones, play an enormous even defining role. And third, there are fewer reliable outlets for the study of regionalism in Russia than there are for studying nationalism. For every scholar or website examining the former, there are dozens if not hundreds focusing on the latter. There are some happy exceptions, but they are far fewer and have less support than they deserve. If that doesn’t change and if the West doesn’t focus on regionalism as well as nationalism, it may take credit for the next phase of the demise of the Russian empire; but as after 1991, its failure of imagination in the period leading up to that demise will harm both its interests and those of the regions and republics now within the borders of the Russian Federation.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Dramatically Understating Number of Russians Emigrating, New Study Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 16 – Moscow’s Project Research Center says that the Russian government is understating the number of Russians emigrating from the country by a factor of six times, a conclusion it has reached by comparing the numbers Rosstat says are leaving the country with the numbers of Russians other countries say are arriving. For some countries, the difference is even greater, but the factor of six is the summary figure for the 24 countries Project experts examined. But the overall figure means that far more Russians are in fact moving abroad than the government admits (proekt.media/research/statistika-emigration/). Indeed, if the Project Center’s figures are correct, more than two million Russians are emigrating each year now and not the slightly less than 400,000 Rosstat has reported, a figure that would drive down the Russian population still further now and by taking away many in prime child-bearing cohorts drive it down still further in the future. There are several reasons why the figures diverge besides the obvious one that Moscow doesn’t want to acknowledge the number is so large — especially since a very large share of them is younger and far more educated, a pattern that doesn’t hurt the Kremlin’s resource-export economic agenda but is an embarrassment and further reduces the size of the Russian population. First of all, various countries count emigres in various ways, with some including those who may simply be long-term students or visitors and who may eventually return to their own country. Russia doesn’t count such people, but others do. Consequently, Russian figures would be lower. Second, Russia is not the only country that manipulates figures in this area. Some countries like to present themselves as magnets which attract people from other places, while others want to minimize the inflow or alternatively seek more resources for dealing with immigrants. And third, in today’s globalized and interconnected world, emigration has changed its meaning: A century ago, it was almost always unidirectional. Once someone left a country, he or she almost certainly would never return. Now, the flow often is reversed in response to economic and political change. But even allowing for those factors, the Project numbers are significant both as an indictment of the Putin regime’s failure to make Russia an attractive place to live even for Russians and as an indication that the problems with Russian statistics are deeper than even recent criticism has suggested.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Two Simple Reflexes Explain Putin’s Decisions, Shaburov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 11 – As the gap between what Vladimir Putin says and does and what Russians see around them widens, ever more analysts offer convoluted explanations for what is going on, but Aleksey Shaburov argues that much of this is unnecessary over-interpretation and that the Kremlin leader’s actions are driven “not by clever plans” but by “two simple reflexes.” The editor of Yekaterinburg’s Politsovet portal says that the first of these reflexes is “to take as much as one can,” to gain “profits and resources from any possibility of that which opens even if in the longer term, this could turn out to be disastrous” (politsovet.ru/61446-dva-refleksa-rossiyskoy-vlasti.html). Among examples of this are last year’s pension reform and tax increases, steps taken not because of some grand plan, Shaburov says, but rather reflexively as a result of declines in income from other sources such as the sale of oil and gas abroad or smaller tax receipts because of declines in economic activity. The regime’s “reform” of trash collection is the same: as a result of changes, Russians have to pay and the state receives “several times more” money than it did before. Paid parking in the major cities also takes more money from the citizenry and gives it to those in the Putin elite. One hardly needs to be “a profound analyst” to understand: “such actions inevitably lead to the increase in anger in society. Last year, the ratings of the powers that be crashed after the pension reform and six months later haven’t recovered. Sociologists, even those close to the authorities find a growth in dissatisfaction. But the powers aren’t changing their behavior.” Shaburov says that it sometimes seems that “this is being done specially, that someone intentionally wants to anger Russians in order to achieve some political goal. But most likely this isn’t the case. This is simply a reflex action.” The second “reflex,” the Yekaterinburg commentator says, is “’to put pressure on everyone one can put pressure on.’” The regime has always been repressive, but in the past, it focused such actions on “only a narrow group of opposition activists.” But now, it is becoming more repressive and moving against “broad strata of the society both above and below.” The latest manifestation of this, Shaburov continues, is the package of draft laws proposed by Senator Andrey Klishas, which include introducing “administrative responsibility up to arrest for a demonstration on the Internet of an obvious lack of respect for the organs of power.” The bill’s provision in regard to that is so broad that anyone could fall afoul of such a law should the authorities want to bring charges. But there are also signs that the Kremlin may even arrest those close to it. Several Telegram channels are reporting that “about 20 governors” may be arrested, and observers say that the regime plans to give the siloviki ever more powers in politics, “with more prohibitions and arrests” thus likely. “The desire to put pressure on everyone who moves and thus may present some even minimal threat is a reflex” not a policy, Shaburov continues. “No thought or strategy stands behind it because any rational reflection would suggest that it will not bring any positive results for the society and the economy in the long term.” Shifting one’s analytic perspective to reflexes “explains a lot,” he says. Reflexes in life forms “work even when the brain and the central nervous system are no longer functioning. Applied to politics, this can mean that there is no plan or strategy in fact,” even when leaders suggest there is. After all, they say that “because they have to say something.” But on the other hand, “reflexes are not senseless: their task is to help one survive.” And in Russia today, “self-preservation may be considered the most important and even the only task of the powers that be.” They aren’t making plans beyond trying to do what will keep them in power as long as possible, and the two reflexes help them do so. Relying on them alone, Shaburov says, will allow the authorities to hold on for a certain time, but “not forever,” a task that reflexes alone cannot solve.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Unity of Russian Nation About Far More than Inviolability of State Borders,’ Inozemtsev Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 11 – Since Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, Russians have been obsessed with “one aspect of Russian ‘unity,’ territorial,” Vladislav Inozemtsev says; but “the unity of the Russian nation is not only about the inviolability of state borders but about much else and the neglect or suppression of these other aspects threatens Russia’s future. In a Snob column, the Moscow economist says that the unity of any nation, including the Russian, involves a recognition of common tasks and goals, a shared vision of the world, and sufficient confidence in society of these “elements of solidarity” that there can be debate about issues affecting its members (snob.ru/entry/170762). “The essence of civilized politics,” Inozemtsev continues, consists of discussions reflecting the different opinions of citizens within this common set of understandings and values. Unfortunately, “today, this does not seem to be the case in Russia;” and that lack is a more serious threat to Russian “unity” than is any “territorial” threat. According to the commentator, “two decades of the assertion of ‘the unity’ of the country has led however strange this may seem to a complete discrediting of the political processes at the all-national level.” Even those who are nominally federal politicians now speak only about narrow local concerns. Anything else is precluded by all the talk about “unity.” “And what is particularly important,” he argues, is that “the people also is ever less concerned about problems common for the country as a whole” and instead focuses more on narrow issues than on all-national one. That was demonstrated again and again over the past year. People were angry about the pension age boost and about new taxes, but relatively few took to the streets both absolutely and in comparison to the numbers who came out to protest local concerns be they the border change in Ingushetia and Chechnya, the handling of trash, or technogenic disasters of one kind or another. Russians were especially focused on the last because they have become a real risk to life and limb. In the past year, more than 100 bridges and viaducts collapsed, shopping centers burned, and gas explosions outraged Russians without leading them to ask the kind of questions about general causes and general responsibility typical of most countries. The conclusions of the Dmitriyev group that Russians are losing interest in the foreign policy agenda and concentrating on domestic affairs attracted widespread attention. On the one hand, this appears to mean a reduction in the importance of the territorial unity of Russia in the minds of many Russians. But on the other, it highlights the absence and the need for social and mental unity which must be discussed and then recognized by the population. That kind of unity can be achieved only if the powers that the powers that be show they are more concerned about them and want to involve them in a discussion of how the nation can function as one. Without that kind of mental unity, Inozemtsev says, there is a great danger that “regional problems” and especially those which show that some regions like Chechnya are “more equal” than others have the potential to lead to disappointment, anger and protests and “grow into serious destabilization.” According to the Moscow analyst, Russia desperately needs “a return to life of federal politics,” with real and not for show parties that can become instruments for discussing problems and what can be done about them and for ensuring that there is a genuine and not for show unity that makes such national unity a reality. “Russian can be united only when the concerns of one region become common for all and the problems of this or that branch or sphere of life are national. Without this, all talk about ‘a united Russia’ lack any meaning, and measures of ‘trust’ any importance,” Inozemtsev concludes.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Increasingly Stereotype Numerically Small Peoples of the North
Paul Goble Staunton, January 11 – In Soviet times, many Russians told jokes about the Chukchis, a northern nation so small and far away that few Russians had ever met one or were likely to suffer any sanctions for comments about them even if they presented members of that nation in the most negative way. In fact, Chukchi jokes in Soviet times were of two kinds. Many made fun of what Russians viewed as a backward people in ways that bordered on the racist, but many others used the Chukchis as a foil to make fun of the Soviet system itself. None of the latter should be repeated but some of the latter are classics. One of the best runs as follows: A young Chukchi drives across the USSR and comes into Red Square. He stops his car and starts to walk away until a Soviet militiaman challenges him, saying that he can’t park there because this is Red Square. The Chukchi responds that he’s come so far, wants to see the Kremlin and the mausoleum, adding there aren’t any “no parking signs.” The militiaman gets angry and says that clearly the Chukchi doesn’t understand that Red Square is the center of the Soviet state and that important people, even members of the Politburo, go back and forth it all the time. That gets the young Chukchi’s attention and he says to the militiaman “Thank you! I did forget to lock up.” Russians still tell both kinds of Chukchi jokes, but now they are even more inclined to talk about the Chukchis and other numerically small peoples of the Russian north in terms of stereotypes that in almost all cases are negative and offensive. Anton Stepygin, a URA.news journalist, recounts some of the view that Russians have about the Khanty, views that they may have about other larger nations but feel they can get away with in this case because the Khanty are so small in number, only 30,000 and two percent of the population of the Khanty-Mansiisk Autonomous District (ura.news/articles/1036277214). Among the things many Russians believe about the Khanty, Stepygin says, are the following: · They are illiterate and “less intelligence than people of other nationalities.” · They are “sectarians” because while they keep icons at home, they believe in paganism. · The Khanty are incapable of living on their own and rely exclusively on money from Russian oil companies. · They are too “lazy” to keep with developments and use old products like 15-year-old Nokias rather than something newer. · “The Khanty do not know how to drink and quickly become alcoholics.” · The Khanty don’t use toilets or keep themselves clean. · “The Khanty castrate reindeer with their teeth.” · They are all well-armed and ready to fight others at the drop of a hat. (There is some truth in that.) Vyacheslav Gavrilov, a Khanty lawyer, points out that “with each year, there are ever more rumors about the numerically small indigenous peoples of the North.” Many are not true, and their spread shows that officials and activists have to do more to inform Russians about what the Khanty and the others really are. He proposes developing tourism to the region in order to acquaint ethnic Russians living in the North and “residents of the entire country with the [real] way of life of the numerically small peoples”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Council of Europe Denounces Russia for Repressing and Marginalizing Non-Russians
Paul Goble Staunton, January 16 – The Consultative Committee of the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe for the Defense of National Minorities in a 59-page report has sharply criticized Moscow for repressing and marginalizing its non-Russian citizens (rm.coe.int/4th-advisory-committee-opinion-on-the-russian-federation-russian-langu/1680908b0d). Its criticisms form a virtual laundry list of the ways in which the Putin regime has sought to promote the Russian language at the expense of all others, discriminated against non-Russians in a wide variety of ways, and repressed ethnic groups as such. It implies that Russia today is far more discriminatory toward minorities than even the Soviet Union was. In response, Russian officials have done what they usually do: they have attacked the report as biased, denied there is any Russian government actions against the interests of non-Russians, and suggested that the Council of Europe report is yet another reason why Moscow should leave that body and all its affiliated institutions as soon as possible. The report has attracted widespread attention in the media of the Russian Federation and on portals based abroad which follow developments there. Among the most comprehensive areng.ru/politics/2019-01-15/3_7482_polit2.htmlbusiness-gazeta.ru/article/409552 and idelreal.org/a/29709322.html and region.expert/ce-report/. The chief conclusions of the Council of Europe report are as follows: · By promoting Russian at the expense of non-Russian languages, including its insistence that all languages of the indigenous peoples use the Cyrillic script, Moscow has discriminated against the non-Russians and threatened their survivals as peoples. · Russia’s laws against foreign funding of all organizations and its anti-extremist laws are applied disproportionately and discriminatively against the non-Russians. · Moscow has rejected the multi-cultural norms now well-established in Europe in favor of a state and society centered almost exclusively on the ethnic Russian majority. · Officials and especially siloviki routinely mistreat ethnic Russians in greater numbers than they do ethnic Russians. · Both officials and the government-controlled media present non-Russians in a negative light intending to marginalize them and in fact encouraging xenophobia and attacks. · Russian government human rights groups rarely focus on the problems of non-Russians as nations. · Non-Russians are underrepresented in all government institutions. All these things are in violation of Russia’s commitments as a signatory to European convention on national minorities which Moscow ratified 20 years ago, the report says. Russian officials, politicians, and many Russian activists and experts denounced the report as one more example of the West’s anti-Russian stance, with some declaring that Moscow should have nothing to do with the Council of Europe (nazaccent.ru/content/29030-rossijskie-eksperty-skepticheski-ocenili-doklad-soveta.html and kommersant.ru/doc/3854196).
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Women Defenseless Against Harassment by Male Colleagues, Lawyers Say
Paul Goble Staunton, January 16 – The recent case in Ufa in which a woman was raped by her police colleagues has called attention to a broader problem few in Russia want to talk about: Women there are almost completely defenseless against harassment and even rape by their male colleagues, especially in the country’s force structures, lawyers say. Over the long winter holiday, Ilya Polonsky of Svobodnaya pressa reports, there was another case that attracted media attention. A woman reported that two middle-aged doctors while drunk and working in an ambulance raped her. An investigation found that there had been no rape but there had definitely been harassment (svpressa.ru/society/article/221846/). The two doctors said they weren’t drunk and had only made a joke about having group sex with the woman (ria.ru/20190111/1549238317.html). But as Polonsky says, “it would be interesting” to learn how these middle-aged doctors would have reacted if such “a joke” had been directed at their wives or daughters. “In point of fact,” the journalist continues, “such anything but innocent ‘jokes’ are part of the lives of many Russian women.” Some brush them off, but others are deeply offended, especially when things go further and they feel they have nowhere to turn to defend themselves from these abuses. In Eastern societies, Polonsky points out, such “jokes” can result in violence from the husband, father or brother of the women. In the West, it can lead to enormous fines or even real jail time. But “in Russia, the situation is different,” less because there are not strict laws than because the authorities don’t apply them in a consistent way. On the one hand, lawyer Andrey Lisov says, there is currently “a definite ‘fashion’” to bring charges in such cases; but on the other, many women are afraid to report such attacks, investigators and prosecutors don’t know how to gather the necessary evidence, and as a result, “criminals escape punishment.” Another lawyer, Tamerlan Barziyev, says that the problem isn’t the legal code – that is relatively good – but in the absence of professional investigators capable of gathering the necessary materials for a case and in social attitudes, especially within any workplace, that keep women from complaining and thus allow men to behave badly. Polonsky is clearly skeptical about recent SuperJob report showing that the percentage of women who say they have experienced sexual harassment at work has fallen from 12 percent in 2008 to only five percent last year and reporting that 89 percent of women have never experienced harassment.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: As Bad as Russian Roads are for Travel, Russia’s Waterways are Worse, Yemelchenkov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 12 – For most of Russia’s histories, rivers and later canals were the primary transportation network over that country’s vast roadless and largely railway-less areas. Its roads have remained notorious for their poor quality, and its railroads are suffering ever more accidents. But the state of its rivers and canals has largely been ignored in recent times. But Aleksandr Yemelchenko, who travelled by water recently through canals, rivers, lakes, and reservoirs between Moscow and the White Sea, reports that one can only be horrified by the current condition of the country’s waterways: it is “even worse than the roads,” he says (newizv.ru/article/general/11-01-2019/ispoved-puteshestvennika-vodnye-puti-v-rossii-esche-huzhe-avtomobilnyh). He offers a seven-point bill of indictment: 1. Canals and locks have been allowed to deteriorate to the point that they are impassable or can’t be used. Most even near Moscow have not been repaired for more than 30 years. 2. Those who live alongside the waterways are incredibly poor and do their washing in rivers that carry foreign tourists and are supposed to be showcases. 3. “The entire river fleet was built in Soviet times: There has not been one new boat since.” There are rumors that one has appeared somewhere, but Yemelchenkov hasn’t seen it – or apparently met anyone who has. 4. There is no infrastructure at all for small craft despite extremely high taxes on boats that are supposed to pay for that. 5. Fuel is either unavailable or of such poor quality that engines barely turn over. 6. “One must not speak ill of service because it doesn’t exist.” Docks are restricted as private property, there is no information provided, and no one to help travelers. 7. The people on the banks who wave to passing boats are so drunk that it is better not to wave back because they might get enthusiastic and fall into the water or even try to swim out to the boat. In general, he says, everything is pathetic. “I very much hope for positive changes and await positive moves forward. Because without them, the country will simply disappear and be reduced to nothing without any wars. It will drown in vodka and simply disintegrate,” Yemelchenkov continues.
Russia’s New Tool for Wielding Information – To Inform is to Influence
Tuesday, January 15, 2019 By Mason Clark with Catherine Harris Key Takeaway: The Kremlin took a significant step to enhance the military’s ability to control the information space within the Russian Armed Forces by establishing a Military-Political Directorate within the Russian Ministry of Defense. This Directorate could also support efforts to shape the information space…
Russia or the USSR? A new quiz from Meduza based on the last Soviet population census — Meduza
Thirty years ago this January, the USSR held what would be its last ever population census. Meduza studied this Soviet artifact and compared it to the most recent Russian census (conducted in 2010). The result of our heroic labor is this quiz, where you must guess which statistics describe the late Soviet Union and which describe the Russian Federation of nine years ago. Sounds pretty easy? Let’s see about that.
Once Upon A Handout: Russian Fairy Tales Accused Of Teaching Kids To Freeload
A senior official at Russia’s Central Bank has not only accused citizens of being financially illiterate, but pinpointed a cause: Russian fairy tales.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: China Reopens Siberian River Diversion Debate that Divided Soviet Society before 1991
Paul Goble Staunton, January 15 – Beijing’s proposal for the diversion of part of the flow of rivers from the Altai inside the borders of the Russian Federation to China is sparking “a stormy discussion in Russia,” Kseniya Smolyakova says, because both experts and ordinary Russians remember the debates that killed Siberian river diversion at the end of Soviet times. China may have the money to build such a system, the Sibreal journalist says; but the threats to the environment and even the survival of the peoples living along any such shift in the flow of river waters have not changed. And Russians say the Chinese can’t overcome them. Consequently, resistance will continue to grow (sibreal.org/a/29700877.html). The Chinese proposals are daunting in size, cost, and impact. The first stage calls for the construction of a canal system of some 1500 kilometers from Russia through Kazakhstan to Mongolia by 2026 that will carry 600 to 700 million cubic waters to Chinese industries and consumers. A second stage, to be completed by 2040, would expand the capacity of this system to 1.8 to 2.4 billion cubic meters of water, less than some of the more grandiose Siberian river diversion plans offered first in the imperial period and then both in Stalin’s times and in the 1970s but still enormous. But there is one element in common between the current Chinese plans and earlier ideas: They are being opposed by ecologists on environmental grounds and by the broader Russian community on ethnic ones. In the 1970s, Russians objected to river diversion because it would kill off Russian villages in order to save the growing Central Asian populations. Now, Russians are objecting to this idea because they view it, in Smolyakova’s words, as “only one of the elements of a broad and varied program by China to acquire the natural resources of Siberia” at the expense of people there. Moscow may be willing to make a deal; they are not; and this anger could help power regional protests just as it did 50 years ago. What is striking about the current case is just how closely it parallels the initial stages of the discussion about Siberian river diversion in the 1960s and 1970s. Then, Moscow officials viewed it as something that could be built if the money could be found, regardless of the consequences for Russian villages. Now, with China taking the issue of price off the table – Beijing can and would fund it if Russia agrees to the project – many in the Putin regime in Moscow are ready to go forward full steam ahead. But both a half century ago and now, the people who would be most directly affected are opposed – and angry at Moscow as well as at China. Films and novels about what Siberian river diversion would mean not only agitated Soviet society at a time when few issues were allowed to percolate in the public media: they helped power the so-called “Russian party” within the Soviet government, helped divide it, and opened the way for environmental movements in the republics to become national ones. Siberian river diversion thus became a major cause behind the demise of the USSR even if it was not as dramatic as the more proximate ones of a failed war in Afghanistan, an arms race Moscow couldn’t afford, and on-again, off-again attempts at reform. If Moscow and China go ahead, it could have an analogous effect on the Russian Federation. And to the extent that is possible, it will be the irony of ironies: an alliance with China that Moscow thinks will save it may end by having exactly the opposite effect.
China reopens Siberian river diversion debate that divided Soviet society before 1991Euromaidan Press |
Beijing’s proposal for the diversion of part of the flow of rivers from the Altai inside the borders of the Russian Federation to China is sparking “a stormy discussion in Russia,” Kseniya Smolyakova says, because both experts and ordinary Russians remember the debates that killed Siberian river diversion at the end of Soviet times. China may have the money to build such a system, the Sibreal journalist says; but the threats to the environment and even the survival of the peoples living along any such shift in the flow of river waters have not changed. And Russians say the Chinese can’t overcome them. Consequently, resistance will continue to grow.
Company Of Putin-Connected Oligarch Rotenberg Wins State Anticorruption Tender
A company owned by Russian billionaire oligarch Arkady Rotenberg has been awarded a state grant to conduct training on civil-society development and combating corruption.
UAWire – Company of Putin’s friend Rotenberg receives funding for ‘anti-corruption activities’
According to the documents published on Russian government’s procurements website, Moscow-based company Granat has won the tender of the Russian …
‘Seeds Of Sodomy’: Reports Of Deadly New Antigay Purge In Chechnya ​
​LGBT activists allege that a new antigay purge in Chechnya has led to at least two deaths by torture and 40 detentions. The republic’s information minister, Dzhambulat Umarov, says the “seeds of sodomy will not sprout” on the “blessed soil of the Caucasus.” The purge began in late December, according to the Russian LGBT Network, and appears to be the second wave of a sweeping crackdown that provoked international condemnation but little action within Russia when reports of it first surfaced in April 2017.
Reports Of New Antigay Purge In Chechnya Prompt Renewed Calls For Moscow’s Accountability
LGBT activists say a sweeping new crackdown on gays in Chechnya has claimed at least two lives and led to the detention of dozens.
Russian Blogger Jailed After Sharing Video; CPJ Denounces Ruling
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) urged Russia to immediately release blogger Viktor Toroptsev, who was jailed for an alleged traffic violation after sharing a video that purportedly showe…
Russian Blogger Detained After Sharing Video, Independent Group Says
A Russian blogger has been detained after sharing a video that sparked claims that several law enforcement officials attended the funeral of a local gang leader, an independent monitoring group says.
Does Deadpool Promote Nazism? Russian Censors Think So
A Russian publishing house has removed a chapter from the Deadpool comic book series after a psychologist concluded that it promotes Nazism.
‘Beglov’s Shovel’: Memes Pile Up On Russian Snow Clean-Up Order
When residents of St. Petersburg complained about snow-clogged streets, the acting governor ordered local officials to go out and clear snow themselves — using a shovel with his name on it.
Putin Orders Creation Of National Waste-Collection System In Wake Of Landfill Protests
The order followed a series of angry protests in early 2018 over poorly managed landfills and household waste disposal. The largest, and more frequent, protests occurred in the Moscow region town of Volokolamsk.
After Deadly Magnitogorsk Blast, Residents Face Shaky Future
Just days an explosion destroyed part of an apartment building in Magnitogorsk, Russia, city authorities declared that the adjacent flats were safe to live in. But people living next to the demolished section fear that another disaster could come at any time.
Russia Says Gas Likely Cause Of Deadly Apartment Collapse After IS Claim
Russia’s Investigative Committee says a gas leak remains the likely cause of a deadly apartment collapse last month in Magnitogorsk after Islamic State said it had bombed the building.
Blast Destroys Building At Russian Chemical Plant; Four Hospitalized
Four people were hospitalized with cuts and other injuries after a powerful explosion ripped through a chemical factory in the northwestern Russian city of Kingisepp.
Gas Blast At Russian Apartment Block Kills At Least One
A gas explosion has rocked a nine-story residential building in southern Russia, killing one woman, authorities say.
One Dead, Three Injured In Fire At Publishing House In Russia
At least one person died and three were injured in a fire that hit a publishing house in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, on January 17.
Embattled Russian Filmmaker Wins Russian Best-Director Honor
The film Leto (Summer) by director Kirill Serebrennikov has won the 2018 White Elephant award for best direction from the Russian Cinematographers Union.
The governor of Perm promised Putin he would replace an essential railroad with ‘urban space’ right before an election How Perm residents are fighting back against a deeply unpopular project — Meduza
Maxim Reshetnikov, the regional governor of Perm Krai, promised Russian President Vladimir Putin that he would tear down a railroad in the region’s administrative center, also called Perm. Reshetnikov was up for election at the time. Putin approved the plan to install an “urban space” in the railroad’s current location, and information about the project appeared on the Kremlin’s website. However, local residents who rely on the railroad to move between the city’s center and its outskirts have expressed their opposition to the plan. They have circulated petitions and organized protests in hopes of keeping the railroad in place. Yekaterina Makarova, a journalist with the local news source Zvezda (The Star), reports for Meduza on the ongoing conflict.
‘They Need A Good Slap’: Paris Opera Drops Star Russian Dancer After Homophobic Rant
The Paris Opera Ballet has dropped Ukrainian-born dance star Sergei Polunin from a production of Swan Lake after he made a homophobic and sexist rant on social media.
Report: Former WADA Chief Downplays Russia Missing Lab Deadline
The former head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is downplaying the fact that Russia missed the latest deadline to allow international inspectors access to a Moscow laboratory.
‘I Can See America From Here’: Bleak Life In Russia’s Remote Chukotka
Daily life can be a real slog for residents of Chukotka, Russia’s easternmost region, a frozen wasteland within sight of Alaska. Current Time correspondent Vadim Kondakov takes a look at what locals have to do to survive.
Lake Baikal: how climate change is threatening the world’s oldest, deepest lake
Plankton in the world’s oldest and deepest lake are being disrupted by exceptionally warm waters.
Study: World’s Permafrost Warming, Particularly In Siberia
Soil temperatures in permafrost regions around the world have increased by an average of 0.3 degrees Celsius over a decade, scientists say.
UAWire – Russian astronomers lose control of Russia’s only orbital telescope
Russian scientists cannot regain control over the Spektr-R, also known as RadioAstron, the only space telescope in the country. According to RIA …
Russian Space Agency Hopeful Despite Failed Attempt To Control Satellite
Russia’s space agency says it has again failed to restore communications with an orbiting radio telescope but remains hopeful it will regain control of the satellite soon.

 


 

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports

 


 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘There is No Russian “Fifth Column” in Kazakhstan,’ Experts There Say
Paul Goble Staunton, January 16 – Despite much talk in the Kazakh media, there is no Russian “fifth column” in Kazakhstan and none will emerge unless conditions change dramatically, including Moscow shutting off the possibility for emigration to Russia and organizing provocations and Astana discriminating against Russians, five experts from Kazakhstan say. Kazakhstan’s Central Asian Monitor portal frequently surveys republic experts on issues that have surfaced in the media in and about that country. Today, it has asked five leading experts to assess the prospects for the emergence of a Russian “fifth column” there (camonitor.kz/32369-kak-kazahstanskie-russkie-otnosyatsya-k-putinu-i-k-ego-politike.html). All five reject the notion, saying that there is no such thing in Kazakhstan and that there are good reasons to believe that it will never emerge despite its potential political utility for Kazakh nationalists. Indeed, they suggest, any more to create one would have the effect of undermining Russia’s interests in having good relations with Kazakhstan. Andrey Chebotaryov, the head of the Alternative Center for Research, says that fifth columns, when they exist, are never coequal to an entire ethnic group. Thus, it is baseless to talk about the Russians in Kazakhstan as a fifth column. More important, there are no organizations there which could play a role in forming it by promoting independent Russian interests. Nurul Rakhimbek, a Kazakh political scientist, agrees and says “the potential for ‘a fifth column’ is not very great,” unless or until outside forces seek to form one. And they will face two serious obstacles: On the one hand, the ethnic Russians have been remarkably loyal to their country of residence. And on the other, like the Kazakhs, they are as a whole politically passive and not inclined to get involved in activities that they view as beyond their daily needs. That means that anyone in Moscow or elsewhere who tries to mobilize them will find that they are very difficult to put in motion. Those that might have been willing to have simply emigrated. That could, of course, change if conditions in Kazakhstan deteriorate or if government policies became discriminatory, but it won’t because of any “direct sympathy for Putin and for Russia,” despite what some Kazakhs imagine. And Russia won’t take this step, he says, because it would undermine the relations with Kazakhstan Moscow wants. Maksim Kramarchenko, head of the Harmony Republic Slavic Movement, essentially confirms this view. Not only are conditions in Kazakhstan not likely to generate a fifth column on their own, but the Ukrainian situation shows what can happen if things go in a different direction. No one in Kazakhstan wants that. There are more than 100 groups representing ethnic communities in Kazakhstan, grouped in the Association of Russian, Slavic, and Cossack Organizations, he says; and not one of them is pushing for isolation, even when they are critical of Kazakhstan government steps like Latinization or the introduction of a three-language program in the schools. Those ethnic Russians who are the most angry with Kazakhstan have simply left. As long as that option remains open, there won’t be any significant number of ethnic Russians there who would be likely to support any challenge, territorial or otherwise to Kazakhstan, according to Kramarchenko. Journalist Yaroslav Razumov says that the ethnic Russians of Kazakhstan have been loyal to the country with few exceptions, all in the early 1990s, and that they are destined to remain so. And political scientist Aygul Omarova concurs, especially since the Russians of her country don’t have the leaders who could organize them into any force. “The ethnic Russians in Kazakhstan live their own life, independent from Russia and even more from the interests of the Kremlin and Putin,” she adds. There may be a microscopic number who say otherwise but they are marginals in every case. What is more of a problem is that Kazakhs for their own interests talk about a Russian fifth column far too much. They do so, Omarova says, because some of them believe that this will lead to a Ukrainian scenario and that “Maidanization” is “the path to democracy, equality and so on.” But such Kazakhs are also a minority: they can talk but like the Russians, they aren’t organized in a way that will allow them to achieve their goal.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Russian Army, Get Out of Armenia!’ Gyumri Demonstrators Say
Paul Goble Staunton, January 13 – A group of Armenians led by director and European Party member Tigran Khzmalyan and head of the Armenian National Press Club Narina Mkrtchyan called for the Russian army to withdraw from its base in Gyumri because soldiers in the past have killed Armenians and not been punished. The last such killing occurred on December 2 and sparked anger across Armenia. Khzmalyan said that by holding this protest, “we are not making any political declarations because today is the fourth anniversary of another killing. This is not a political action but a simple desire to say several things” (aravot-ru.am/2019/01/13/295200/). “For the first time since February 1921, Armenia has protested against its seizure by the Red Army. Murders and occupiers cannot be the defenders of the nation,” Khzmalyan says. “Armenia’s security can be guaranteed only by the Armenian army; only the Armenian soldier is the guarantee of our security, independence and freedom.” “Let us not deceive ourselves,” he continues. “Our country is colonized, and we stand along the advance post of this colonial force. They are the advance guard of colonialism in Armenia, a country which wants to be independent, which wants to b economically, politically, and humanistically part of the civilized world.” For pictures of the signs carried by the protesters and a video of their demonstration, see kavkaz-uzel.eu/photo_albums/2677 and kavkaz-uzel.eu/videos/5371. Many, perhaps most Armenians believe that for good or ill, their geographic position leaves them with little choice but to rely on Russian forces for their defense; but Khzmalyan’s remarks are an indication that such notions are no longer before question and that a growing number of Armenians are alienated by Russian behavior.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Circassians Enter 2019 More United and More Angry at Moscow
Paul Goble Staunton, January 11 – The turn of the year has featured numerous reviews about this or that territorial unit in the Russian Federation rather than about particular nations. A happy exception to that pattern is Larisa Cherkes’s assessment of the Circassians, a nation Moscow has divided within the country and sought to isolate from its larger co-ethnic community abroad. The Kavkazr journalist reports that over the past year, “the Circassian movement was occupied with events connected with conflicts about native languages and also with the efforts of the powers that be to demonstratively exile Circassian repatriants” and to block new arrivals form the Circassian diaspora (kavkazr.com/a/cherkesskiy-vopros-2018/29706138.html). She reports that many Circassian activists say that “on the one hand, these events united the people, but, on the other, showed the incompetence and unwillingness of the powers that be and pro-government public organization to resolve these painful problems of the Circassian people.” Azamat Tsagov of the Khabze Organization in the KBR says that the year was full of developments but unfortunately the International Circassian Organization and Adyge Khase were less activity than they should have been and did not prove to be “useful structures regarding the Circassian people.” Astemir Shebzukhov, a Circassian activist, suggests that the past year was another step in the direction of the reformatting of the national movement, one that is involving the inclusion of ever more young people. At the same time, he says, that no one should expect any “grandiose” moves in the year ahead. Anzor Ashkhotov, a representative of Circassian young people, says that he believes the movement has made great progress. Martin Kochesokov, head of Khabze, agrees, suggesting that its biggest gains in 2018 involved improved use of communications technologies to link people together. KBR resident Khauti Sheriyev says that many ordinary Circassians are distressed by the lack of real activity among existing organizations and are trying to find their own way forward. He adds that Circassians as a whole and not just the leaders of these organizations are to blame for the fact that more was not achieved last year. And Kabardinian activist Andzor Akhokov says that 2018 was a relatively good year but of course not as dramatic in its consequences as 2014 when Circassian protests about the Sochi Olympics brought the attention of the entire world to the plight of their nation, a victim of a Russian genocide in 1864 and still divided by Russian policies.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Doesn’t Trust Military Officers from North Caucasus for Most Senior Positions
Paul Goble Staunton, January 15 – In the Soviet military, racism was far from absent, but some officers from the North Caucasus nonetheless made brilliant careers and rose to the highest positions. Among these was Dzhokhar Dudayev, a major general in the Soviet air force, commander of the Tartu garrison, and hero of Soviet operations in Afghanistan. But now, both because of Dudayev’s breaking with the Soviets and then the Russians to lead the Republic of Ichkeria and because internationalism is less highly valued among Russian officers now, Russian officers feel far freer to express their distrust of officers from the North Caucasus and rarely if ever appoint them to the most senior jobs. The appointment of Maj. Gen. Rustam Muradov to the post of deputy commander of the Southern Military District “is not a unique case,” the Kavkaz-Uzel portal says; but it is so rare that it is the exception that proves the rule: Experts say Moscow doesn’t trust North Caucasians for the highest jobs in the federal force structures (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/330308/). A major reason that he is an exception almost certainly lies in the fact that despite being an ethnic Tabasaran from Daghestan, he fought on Moscow’s side in both post-Soviet Chechen wars and participated in the seizure of Maskhadov’s staff in 2000, an operation that was led by Maj. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov. (For a full bio of Muradov, see kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/330303/.) Former Duma deputy Gennady Gudkov says that one rarely meets officers of North Caucasus nationality at the most senior positions in either the special services or the army. They may rise to the position of deputy commander on the basis of the professional and demonstrated loyalty but not to independent commands. Muradov thus has probably risen as far as he can, to be deputy commander of the Southern Federal District. His boss will be glad to have his expertise on the local situation; but Moscow isn’t going to trust him with anything more senior or more independent, Gudkov suggests. Other experts with whom Kavkaz-Uzel spoke agree. Sergey Goncharov, head of the Alpha Anti-Terror Veterans Organization, said it was useful to have the expertise of local people in advisory positions. And Aleksandr Perendzhiyev of the Experts Council of Veterans of Russia said Moscow won’t entrust the highest posts to an officer from the North Caucasus.
Turkmenistan Said To Register Reservists As Tension Mounts On Afghan Border
Turkmen authorities have launched a campaign to register army reservists — nearly all men under 50 — amid concerns about militants in neighboring Afghanistan, according to a Defense Ministry sour…
Is Turkmenistan Being Pulled Into Russia’s Orbit?
Russia looks to be regaining influence in an especially vulnerable Turkmenistan, whether Ashgabat likes it or not.

Belarus Reports

 


 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Belarusian President has Begun to Speak Belarusian’
Paul Goble Staunton, January 11 – It is the most obvious indication of the unique problems Belarus faces that it is a headline for an article by Yuiya Telpuk on the Belsat.eu portal that “Aleksandr Lukashenko has begun to speak Belarusian” (belsat.eu/ru/in-focus/aleksandr-lukashenko-zagovoril-po-belorusski/). As she points out, this is how it should be. “Trump speaks English. Macron speaks French.” And now “Putin and Lukashenka are losing a common language” because Belarusian President Lukashenka has shifted from Russian to his own in order to stress that “we are proud of our history and land. We know our roots and honor our traditions.” But what makes this newsworthy is that Lukashenka has rarely used Belarusian and has even slandered it by saying all too publicly that “One can’t express anything great in Belarus. The Belarusian language is a poor language. In the world, there exist only two great languages, Russian and English.” After becoming president, he orchestrated a referendum which deprived Belarusian of its unique status as a national language and “adopted a course in the direction of Russia,” according to Sergey Naumchik, who was a deputy in the country’s Supreme Soviet between 1991 and 1996. “In a situation when the Kremlin is beginning the swallowing up of Belarus or more precisely accelerating that process,” he says, “[Lukashenka] intuitively feels that he must do something to save himself … through national identity, the foundations of which are language, history, the coat of arms and the flag.” But if Lukashenka is serious, he is going to have to give more than a three-minute speech in the national language, Naumchik continues. He must “return the status of Belarusian as the only state language, return the coat of arms and the white-red-white flag, open in Minsk and the oblasts Belarusian language schools” and monitor pro-Russian groups in all parts of the country. “For a quarter of a century,” the former deputy says, “the language has been developing in the non-governmental sector and is widely sued in the media. It is fighting for users through special projects, literature and the Internet.” Ever more is being achieved, “but a quick result will be achieved only via Lukashenka.” And Belarus needs that. Vitaly Tsygankov, a Belarusian commentator for Radio Svoboda, agrees. If Lukashenka does make these moves, “this would be a signal” that even more could be done to build up the unity of Belarus against foreign occupation. And importantly it would send a signal to the officials in the country that a new wind is blowing, one away from Moscow rather than toward it.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Pressure on Belarus Puts Opposition There Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Paul Goble Staunton, January 16 – Many in the Belarusian opposition today find themselves in a terrible position. On the one hand, they are unalterably opposed to the authoritarian and anything but genuinely national Alyaksandr Lukashenka. But on the other, they do not want to do anything to weaken their country and expose it to an even greater risk of an Anschluss by Russia. That is something Lukashenka, of course, is able to exploit: Few Belarusians now are prepared to take to the streets to protest if that could be used by Vladimir Putin to occupy and suppress their independence. But that very attitude says something some often forget: Even the Belarusian opposition is deeply patriotic and opposed to weakening their country. There is much to criticize in the Belarusian opposition: its inability to overcome personal rivalries, its utopianism, and its lack of consistency. But that patriotism is at the root of its opposition to Lukashenka just as it is at the root of its even greater opposition to Putin and absorption by Russia. Writing on the Belarus Partisan portal, opposition figure Ruslan Ignatovich makes this clear. He says bluntly: “I hate the Belarusian powers that be. But if someone in these wild times will call us into the street and put pressure on them, my feet will not carry me there. Because I would view such actions as aiding Putin” (belaruspartisan.by/politic/451698/). “And I hate Putin’s Russia much more” than the Belarusian dictatorship, Ignatovich continues. That makes the challenge for the Belarusian opposition both more difficult and more urgent, more difficult because of this choice and more urgent because building up a genuinely European Belarus is the only way to defend the nation and the state. According to the opposition commentator, “it is possible that our country is living through the most dramatic period of its history” given that many are now openly discussing the possibility that Belarus could lose its independence. What they should be talking about is why this is possible – and what should be done now. For the last two decades, “those who rule Belarus have been doing everything necessary for this to come to pass. They’ve allowed Russia to dominate television and they’ve put in the school programs a course on “Russian literature, not world literature but precisely Russian. Our children read Pushkin along with Shakespeare but more than Kolos or Korotkevich.” Belarusian officials “do not know their native language. There are now “fewer Belarusian language schools and kindergartens in Belarus than in Poland. “And I am writing this text in Russia,” Ignatovich says, “because the majority of citizens of my country in a banal fashion ignore Belarusian articles.” The powers that be are not the only ones to blame for this situation, he continues. “A significant part of the opposition also has helped kill our independence.” The leaders cannot agree among themselves on how to celebrate even key holidays so they can’t expect ordinary Belarusians to know what to do. And protest activity instead of growing has fallen. This all works to Moscow’s advantage, and it is certain that just as Moscow has penetrated even those Ukrainian forces now fighting against Russian occupation, so too it has penetrated Belarusian opposition groups and controls the behavior of some of them in ways that work against what the groups say they are about. “Where are our opposition figures today when over Belarus hangs a real threat? Why aren’t they calling for meetings against Putin?” And why aren’t the Belarusian powers that be calling them into the streets to support Belarusian independence? If that happened, “millions would come out. But as Ignatovich himself confesses, he is uncertain what to do now given that Moscow would likely exploit a rise in opposition activity and that as a patriot, he hates Putin and Russia more than he hates Lukashenka and his regime. It truly appears to have become a time of no good choices in Belarus.
UAWire – Belarus lifts restriction on the number of US diplomats in Minsk
Belarus has lifted the restrictions on the number of US diplomats in Minsk, Foreign Policy reported. According to the magazine, Minister of …
UAWire – Belarusian opposition urges authorities to restrict broadcasting of Russian channels
The opposition party Belarusian Popular Front or BPF adopted a statement at a party’s meeting that demands that the authorities restrict …
Belarus Looking Into Russian Detention Of Former Model Who Claimed Kremlin Election Meddling
The Belarusian Embassy in Moscow says it is looking into the case of a Belarusian model who was detained by Russian authorities after landing in Moscow following her deportation from Thailand.
Belarusian Escort Who Claimed Evidence of Russian Meddling Is Detained in Moscow – The New York Times
Anastasia Vashukevich, who said she had recordings that shed light on meddling in the 2016 American election, had been deported from Thailand.
“I don’t want to go anywhere”: Video surfaces of Nastya Rybka’s arrest in Sheremetyevo Airport — Meduza
A video showing the arrest of the model and sex trainer Anastasia Vashukevich, better known as Nastya Rybka, has been published by REN TV. In the video, law enforcement officials carry Vashukevich into one of the airport’s wheelchairs while she tells them, “I don’t want to go anywhere.” The sex trainer and her mentor Alexander Kirillov, who goes by the name Alex Leslie, were deported from Thailand after being charged with conducting sex work illegally. Vashukevich first gained fame for leaking videos and images that appeared to support opposition activist Alexey Navalny’s claims about government corruption.
Belarusian Escort ‘Nastya Rybka,’ Co-Defendants Deported From Thailand
A Belarusian escort whose reported relationship with a Russian billionaire put her at the center of a geopolitical scandal has been deported from Thailand.
‘Nastya Rybka’: Thai Court Hands Belarusian Escort Time Served, Orders Her Deported
A Belarusian escort whose reported relationship with a Russian billionaire put her at the center of a geopolitical scandal has been handed a suspended sentence by a Thai court on charges of soliciting to provide sexual services and ordered her deported.
Thailand Deports Woman With Alleged Ties To Russian Oligarch
Thailand has deported the woman whose alleged links with a Russian billionaire made international headlines. Belarusian national Anastasia Vashukevich, who also goes by the name Nastya Rybka, was put on a flight leaving Bangkok on January 17. Last February, Russian anticorruption activist Aleksei Navalny published a video showing her on a yacht owned by Kremlin-linked oligarch Oleg Deripaska, in the company of then Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko. She was detained later the same month in Thailand on charges of soliciting to provide sexual services, for which she received a suspended sentence along with two other Belarusians and five Russians. All were deported to their home countries.
Jailed model who claimed she has dirt on Russian oligarch speaks out – CBS News
Anastasia Vashukevich has told Russian media she can’t wait to be released
First Online Cryptocurrency Exchange Launched In Belarus
The first online cryptocurrency exchange — based on blockchain technology — has been launched in Belarus.
EU Calls On Belarus To Abolish Death Penalty After Latest Sentencing
The European External Action Service has called on Belarus to abolish capital punishment, two days after Belarusian authorities pronounced their latest death sentence in the country.

 


 

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

 


 

The Trump administration has been itching for a fight with Iran, but Mattis held it back. Now he’s gone. | Business Insider
Former Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis was reportedly a bulwark inside the Trump administration who blocked the use of force against Iran, raising questions about whether the US will launch more strikes in his absence..
Iran has mastered the production of cruise missiles
Iran launches serial production of Soumar cruise missiles and will soon be armed with an elite Iranian military-political formation Corps of Guards of the Islamic Revolution Xinhua.net reports For the first time, the soumar cruise missile was demonstrated in 2015. Soumar rocket launch video: Soumar is a cruise missile ground based, which according to unofficial data has a range of 2500-3000 km. It has a solid propellant rocket accelerator, which allows it to launch from the ground. Informal sources call it the clones of the Soviet cruise missiles X-55, which was developed in the USSR in the 1980’s and allegedly hit Iran in the early 2000’s.
Iran’s satellite launch isn’t a nuclear missile — Quartz
Don’t believe the hype around Iran’s space plans
Iran satellite launches and fails to reach orbit – CNN
Iran announced the failure of its satellite launch, which the US warned against, on Tuesday.
Iran says it’s launched a satellite that didn’t reach orbit | Fox News
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Tuesday conducted one of at least two satellite launches it plans despite criticism from the United States, but the satellite failed to reach orbit, an official said.
Iran fails to launch satellite into orbit after ignoring warnings from US | The Independent
Iran‘s attempt to launch a satellite failed to reach orbit, the country’s telecommunications minister has said. The rocket carrying the Payam satellite failed to reach the “necessary speed” in the third stage of its launch, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi told Iranian state television.
Rocket failure dooms Iranian satellite launch
Over the past decade, Iran has sent several short-lived satellites into orbit and in 2013 launched a monkey into space.
Pompeo’s Anti-Iran Tour Faces Obstacles of a Fractious Middle East – The New York Times
Touring eight countries in one week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to build a regional coalition against Iran. The obstacles are formidable.
White House Reportedly Asked for Military Options to Strike Iran
President Donald Trump’s National Security Council called on the Pentagon to provide military options to strike Iran last year, reports the Wall Street Journal. The report, which cites unnamed “current and former U.S. officials,” claims the request sparked concern among officials at both the Pentagon and the State department. “It definitely rattled people,” a former senior administration official told the paper. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.” The request from the council, which is led by National Security Adviser John Bolton, came after a group of militants with ties to Iran fired mortars into the diplomatic section of Baghdad. That area includes the U.S. embassy but the mortars landed in a vacant lot and no one was injured. Even though no one was hurt, the mortars “triggered unusual alarm in Washington,” notes the Journal. There were meetings led by Bolton to discuss a possible response, and that’s when the request for military options were requested. Although the Pentagon moved forward with the request, it isn’t clear whether they were ever handed over to the White House or whether Trump even knew that the request had been made.
White House Sought Options to Strike Iran – WSJ
National security adviser John Bolton asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran in the wake of attacks near the U.S. Embassy and consulate in Iraq last September.
Trump White House Requested Military Options to Attack Iran
Top national security officials were “rattled” by this request, according to a new report.
Pentagon Officials Fear Bolton’s Actions Increase Risk of Clash With Iran – The New York Times
At the direction of its leader, John Bolton, the National Security Council asked the Pentagon last year to provide military options to strike Iran after militants hit an empty American lot in Baghdad.
Nuclear chief says Iran exploring new uranium enrichment – ABC News
Iran protests to Poland over Iran-focused summit | Reuters
Iran’s foreign ministry summoned a senior Polish diplomat on Sunday to protest Poland’s jointly hosting a global summit with the United States focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, state news agency IRNA reported.
Iran Says U.S. Has Detained ‘Press TV’ Journalist And Calls For Her Release : NPR
Marzieh Hashemi’s son tells The Associated Press that his mother was detained on Sunday at Lambert International Airport in St. Louis. U.S. law enforcement agencies have declined to comment.
American-born journalist for Iranian TV is detained in U.S.
Marzieh Hashemi, who was born in America, converted to Islam and is a news anchor for Iranian TV, was detained by the FBI at the St. Louis airport.
Iran state TV: US-born newscaster to appear in Washington court | Freedom of the press News | Al Jazeera
Marzieh Hashemi – born Melanie Franklin – travelled to the US to visit her family when the FBI arrested her.
From New Orleans to Tehran: Life of detained Iran newscaster
An anchor for the state-run Iranian channel Press TV, 59-year-old grandmother Marzieh Hasemi, born Melanie Franklin, found herself in Iran after her marriage, where the Islamic revolution attracted her.
U.S. won’t comment on Marzieh Hashemi, born Melanie Franklin, Iran TV anchor apparently detained on material witness law – CBS News
Son says U.S. national being held on a law that one expert says feds resorts to, &quot;when they need a reason to arrest somebody but they don’t have one&quot;
American Anchor For Iranian State TV Arrested On Visit To U.S. | HuffPost
Marzieh Hashemi is being held in prison, apparently as a material witness, her son said.
Is Tehran spying on Southern California? Feds say O.C. waiter and ‘Chubby’ from Long Beach were agents of Iran – Los Angeles Times
A waiter at an Orange County restaurant has been accused of spying for Iran, and the accusation has alarmed many in the local Persian community. Some say tensions between Washington and Tehran are spilling over into Southern California.
How did Costa Mesa waiter and ‘Chubby’ from Long Beach come to be accused of spying for Iran? – Los Angeles Times
Despite their disarming appearance, U.S. authorities allege a Costa Mesa man who worked at a Persian restaurant in Santa Ana’s South Coast Village Plaza and a round-faced, bespectacled Long Beach native were operating in Orange County as agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iranian cargo plane tries to land at wrong airport; 15 dead
A Boeing 707 cargo plane coming from Kyrgyzstan crashed on Monday while trying to land west of Iran’s capital, state media reported.


Mounting pressure for Trump to reconsider Syria withdrawal | TheHill
President Trump is hearing renewed calls to rethink his Syria withdrawal following an ISIS-claimed suicide bombing that represented the single-deadliest attack on Americans in Syria since U.S. troops were deployed in 2015.
Army Chief Confirms US Will Hand off ISIS Fight in Syria – Defense One
Gen. Mark Milley is the first senior military official to say the military is proceeding in Syria as Trump wishes.
Syria too complex to make decisions in 280 characters … even for a president | TheHill
Withdrawing US troops from Syria raises important and complex foreign policy implications, which the president’s advisers must discuss with him in detail.
Syria conflict: Pompeo ‘optimistic’ on deal to protect Kurds – BBC News
The US secretary of state steps up diplomatic efforts with Turkey to protect Kurdish allies in Syria.
Russia Says U.S. Leaving Syria ‘Step in the Right Direction’ But Condemns Its Wars ‘Around the World’
The Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson detailed a 100-year history of U.S. intervention abroad, from Latin America to the Middle East.
Near Syrian border, Turkish defense minister vows operation when time is right | Reuters
Turkey’s defense minister on Friday pledged to wage a campaign against a U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia, sharpening focus on a potential conflict the United States has sought to prevent.
U.S. Has ‘Begun The Process’ Of Withdrawing From Syria, Pentagon Says : NPR
The military gave no details on the departure timeline for the more than 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria “out of concern for operational security.”
U.S. starts withdrawing supplies, but not troops, from Syria – POLITICO
The announcement is fueling concern about how quickly the U.S. will abandon its Kurdish allies.
Pompeo’s Words, Trump’s Withdrawal – WSJ
The vow to ‘expel every last Iranian boot’ in Syria rings hollow.
Pompeo’s Speech vs. Trump’s View of the World – POLITICO Magazine
The secretary of state’s Cairo address projected a foreign policy at odds with the president’s instincts.
Hours after U.S. troops killed in Syria, Pence says Islamic State defeated | Reuters
Islamic State has been defeated in Syria, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday, hours after Americans were killed in a northern Syria bomb attack claimed by the militant group.
US military officially withdrawing troops from Syria – Vox
The US military is officially withdrawing troops from Syria, despite Bolton and Pompeo’s efforts to change Trump’s mind.
Terror Group Seizes Last Syrian Opposition Stronghold – WSJ
A powerful extremist group seized control of most of Syria’s last opposition stronghold, threatening a fragile cease fire intended to avert a Syrian military offensive and likely humanitarian catastrophe.
In Lebanon, U.S. State Department official calls Hezbollah ‘unacceptable’ | Reuters
The U.S. State Department criticized Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group on Monday for digging tunnels into Israel and stockpiling rockets, as Washington steps up efforts to isolate Tehran.


The Turkish president’s epic distortion of facts on Syria | TheHill
Erdogan essentially has promised to turn the homeland of America’s stalwart Kurdish allies into a cemetery.
Turkey dismisses Trump threat to economy over Syrian Kurds – BBC News
The US president has vowed to “devastate” Turkey’s economy if it attacks Kurdish fighters in Syria.
Trump threatens Turkey with economic devastation – POLITICO
Turkey is an NATO ally that has sided with the U.S. in Syria, but still …
Trump threatens to ‘devastate’ Turkey’s economy if they attack Kurds in Syria – CNNPolitics
President Donald Trump said Sunday the US would “devastate Turkey economically” if the NATO-allied country attacks Kurds in the region.
Donald Trump’s threat to hurt Turkey’s economy has advisers scrambling
Trump’s Twitter threat comes as the U.S. and Turkey are engaged in delicate negotiations over the fate of the Syrian Kurds.
Turkey’s Erdogan says Donald Trump reaffirmed Syria US troop withdrawal, leaving Kurdish YPG fate uncertain – CBS News
Turkish president says Trump has reassured him that America is pulling out of neighboring Syria, leaving U.S.-allied Kurds to hope, and fight ISIS while they can
Turkey’s military reinforces on border with Syria’s Idlib | Reuters
Turkish troops and tanks carried out military exercises on the border with Syria on Saturday, state-run media reported, while a monitoring group said a Turkish convoy had crossed the frontier into northern Syria.
Erdogan, Trump consider setting up ‘security zone’ in Syria | USA News | Al Jazeera
Two leaders discuss situation in Syria over the phone amid growing tensions over the fate of US-allied Kurdish fighters.
Erdogan’s Wrath Stretches To Ukraine, Leaving Turks In Fear Of Kyiv-Assisted ‘Kidnapping’
Yunus Erdogdu no longer goes outside his Kyiv-area home, terrified at the thought of becoming the next critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to be abducted and forcibly sent to Ankara.


Russia’s S-300 didn’t stop Israeli from airstrikes on Iran in Syria – INSIDER
Russia has exported some of its best air defense systems to Syria, but Israeli jets keep beating them and it’s making Russia look bad.
Israel confirms Syria strike and finds a sixth Hezbollah tunnel on the Lebanon border – Los Angeles Times
The tunnel is the largest one discovered so far, says a military spokesman, running hundreds of meters from under a Lebanese home and deep into Israeli territory.
Netanyahu Says Israel Struck Iranian Weapons Depot at Damascus Airport – CNN
In a rare acknowledgment of Israeli operations in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country’s air force struck Syria over the weekend.
Israel fires missiles towards Damascus airport: Syria state media | News | Al Jazeera
Most of the missiles were shot down, Syrian state media reports, but one hit a warehouse at the Damascus airport.
Israel finds last tunnel on Lebanese border, confirms Syria strike
Israeli troops discovered the sixth and final tunnel dug by Hezbollah militants for cross-border attacks, the military announced Sunday.
Israel ‘aimed to tap Hamas communications’ in botched mission | News | Al Jazeera
Hamas says aim of Israel’s undercover operation in Gaza in November was to plant spying devices.
Israel tried to wiretap Hamas in botched mission, group says – ABC News


Dissident friend of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi claims his phone was hacked | Daily Mail Online
Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz believes Saudi authorities may have intercepted messages sent by murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi which were critical of the country’s regime.
Saudi Arabia To Build $10 Billion Oil Refinery In Pakistan’s Gwadar
Saudi Arabia says it plans to set up a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s deepwater port of Gwadar, which is being developed with the help of China.

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

 


 

Trump sends letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – CNNPolitics
A letter was delivered from US President Donald Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the weekend, a source familiar with the ongoing denuclearization talks between Washington and Pyongyang told CNN.
North Korean official visits U.S. for talks over second summit
North Korea’s lead negotiator in nuclear diplomacy with the United States is expected to hold talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday.
Report: North Korean negotiator to visit U.S., may meet with Pompeo
The visit by Kim Yong Chol, a high-level North Korean official, could signal progress in arranging a second summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un.
Pence Says U.S. Still Waiting on North Korea for ‘Concrete Steps’ to Denuclearize – The New York Times
The vice president’s unequivocal statement seemed to contradict President Trump’s claim last summer that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.”
At Wonsan-Kalma beach resort, North Korea has ambitious plans | CNN Travel
North Korea has ambitious plans for a new beach resort. The Wonsan-Kalma tourist zone, slated to open October 2019, will be a huge complex with hotels, a marina, a sports area, water slides and more.


DIA Chinese Military Power Report – USNI News
The following is the Defense Intelligence Agency report, China Military Power that was published on Jan. 15, 2019. From the Report’s Introduction The Defense Intelligence Agency—indeed the broader U.S. Intelligence Community—is continually asked, “What do we need to know about China?” What is China’s vision of the world and its role in it? What are Beijing’s strategic intentions and what are the implications for Washington? How are the PLA’s roles and missions changing as it becomes a more capable military force? Since Mao Zedong’s Communist Revolution in October 1949 brought the Chinese Communist Party to power, China has struggled to identify and align itself with its desired place in the world. Early factional struggles for control of party leadership, decades of negotiations to define territorial boundaries, and continued claims to territories not yet recovered have at times seemed at odds with the self-described nature of the Chinese as peace-loving and oriented only toward their own defense. Chinese leaders historically have been willing to use military force against threats to their regime, whether foreign or domestic, at times preemptively. Lack of significant involvement in military operations during the last several decades has led to a sense of insecurity within the PLA as it seeks to modernize into a great power military. Still, the United States has at times found itself in direct conflict with China or Chinese forces. China supported two major conflicts in Asia after the Second World War, introducing Chinese volunteer forces in Korea and providing direct Chinese air and air defense support to Hanoi in Vietnam. In addition, China fought border skirmishes with the Soviet Union, India, and a unified Vietnam. In all three cases, military action was an integral part of Chinese diplomatic negotiations. Since then, China has concluded negotiations for most of its land borders (India and Bhutan being the outliers) but remains in contention with Japan, the Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam over maritime borders, which may in part explain motivation for the PLA Navy’s impressive growth and the new emphasis on maritime law enforcement capabilities. China’s double-digit economic growth has slowed recently, but it served to fund several successive defense modernization Five-Year Plans. As international concern over Beijing’s human rights policies stymied the PLA’s search for ever more sophisticated technologies, China shifted funds and efforts to acquiring technology by any means available. Domestic laws forced foreign partners of Chinese-based joint ventures to release their technology in exchange for entry into China’s lucrative market, and China has used other means to secure needed technology and expertise. The result of this multifaceted approach to technology acquisition is a PLA on the verge of fielding some of the most modern weapon systems in the world. In some areas, it already leads the world. Chinese leaders characterize China’s long-term military modernization program as essential to achieving great power status. Indeed, China is building a robust, lethal force with capabilities spanning the air, maritime, space and information domains which will enable China to impose its will in the region. As it continues to grow in strength and confidence, our nation’s leaders will face a China insistent on having a greater voice in global interactions, which at times may be antithetical to U.S. interests. With a deeper understanding of the military might behind Chinese economic and diplomatic efforts, we can provide our own national political, economic, and military leaders the widest range of options for choosing when to counter, when to encourage, and when to join with China in actions around the world. This report offers insights into the modernization of Chinese military power as it reforms from a defensive, inflexible ground-based force charged with domestic and peripheral security responsibilities to a joint, highly agile, expeditionary, and power-projecting arm of Chinese foreign policy that engages in military diplomacy and operations across the globe. [signed] Robert P. Ashley, Jr. Lieutenant General , US Army Director Defense Intelligence Agency
China’s Military Is Getting Better at a Lot of Things at Once: Pentagon Intelligence – Defense One
The DIA’s first public report cites rapid advances, extended reach, and increasing confidence.
US report says rapidly modernizing Chinese military has set sights on Taiwan – CNNPolitics
Over the last few years China has made a series of ambitious military reforms and acquired new technology as it aims to improve its ability to fight regional conflicts over places like Taiwan, according to a new report from the US Defense Intelligence Agency.


Top US Navy officer to visit China amid heightened tensions
The U.S. Navy’s top officer will visit China beginning Sunday amid increasing frictions between the two countries’ militaries in the South China Sea.
China’s first steps before going to battle – To Inform is to Influence
The DIA report Mark Pomerleau is writing about is a blast of the blindingly obvious, but now it is in writing for all to see.  Some senior leaders will only now realize the role of information operations and information warfare in warfare.   The only heartburn I have about this report is the use of the term “information…
China Threatens U.S. Patrols with Anti-Ship Missiles
China responds to U.S. freedom of navigation patrols by deploying missiles supposedly capable of sinking aircraft carriers.
China sets the stage for a ‘bloody nose’ attack on US aircraft carriers, but it would backfire horribly | Business Insider
China responded to a recent challenge from the US Navy with the deployment of missiles purpose-built to sink aircraft carriers, and increasingly hot rhetoric from Beijing suggests that the US’ will to fight can be broken.
World War 3: China develops ‘Great Wall’ system too strong for hypersonic missiles | World | News | Express.co.uk
A TOP Chinese defence strategist claims to have created an “Underground Steel Great Wall” defence to nullify the threat of future hypersonic weapons destroying their arsenal.
US, UK navies conduct first drills in waters claimed by China | TheHill
The United States and United Kingdom navies on Wednesday completed their first joint drills in the contested South China Sea, which contains waters claimed by China.
US, UK navies hold first joint drills in contested South China Sea – INSIDER
The US and British navies, both of which have run afoul of Beijing in the South China Sea, have held their first joint military exercises in the disputed waterway.
The costs of containing China | East Asia Forum
Author: Hugh White, ANU Washington’s policymakers at last understand that China is a serious strategic rival. For the first time since the Soviet collapse,
Hugh White | The Costs of Containing China (East Asia Forum) | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations
Washington’s policymakers at last understand that China is a serious strategic rival. For the first time since the Soviet collapse, they recognise that a major country is trying to expand its power and influence at the expense of US global leadership. Now they must decide what, if anything, to do about it. Vice President Mike…
The String of Pearls Strategy eBook: Mark Kerr: Amazon.com.au: Kindle Store
The String of Pearls Strategy eBook: Mark Kerr: Amazon.com.au: Kindle Store
Who is China targeting with its armed drones sales?
A new Department of Defense report indicates the nations where China has exported its technology.


China condemns Canada after Justin Trudeau’s remarks about drug-smuggling sentence | Fox News
China condemned Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday for “irresponsible” remarks after he accused Beijing of “arbitrarily” applying the death penalty for a man convicted of drug smuggling.
Schellenberg death sentence: China executes foreigners all the time. The case of this Canadian is different – CNN
When China handed down its first death sentence to a Canadian citizen this week, it sent shockwaves around the world.
Robert Lloyd Schellenberg: China sentences Canadian to death for drug smuggling – CNN
A Canadian citizen in China has been sentenced to death after a court convicted him of drug smuggling on Monday, a move likely to further inflame tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.
Huawei is facing trouble on a global scale
A Huawei executive was arrested in Poland on allegations of spying this week, and exports of Huawei telecom equipment out of California have been halted. The events come on top of the controversial arrest of Huawei’s CFO in Canada in December. Experts say the U.S. government will continue putting pressure on the company over what the intelligence community views as intractable supply-chain issues.
Poland calls for ‘joint’ EU-Nato stance on Huawei after spying arrest | World news | The Guardian
Country’s foreign minister says both entities need to decide whether to exclude telecom giant from their markets
Huawei’s Poland Crisis Threatens to Intensify Spying Concerns – Bloomberg
Huawei Technologies Co. cut loose a sales director arrested in Poland on suspicion of espionage, moving swiftly to distance itself from a case that may crystallize fears the telecoms giant helps Beijing spy on Western governments.
Poland could limit use of Huawei products after worker arrested | Reuters
Poland could consider banning the use of Huawei products by public bodies, a senior government official said on Sunday, following the arrest of a Chinese Huawei official in the east European country last week.
Huawei sacks employee arrested in Poland on spying charges | Reuters
Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei said on Saturday it had sacked an employee arrested in Poland on spying charges in a case that could intensify Western security concerns about the company.
Chinese Tech Giant Huawei Fires Sales Director Accused By Poland Of Espionage | HuffPost
Polish authorities have accused Wang Weijing of spying on behalf of China.
Canadian PM Trudeau says China not respecting diplomatic immunity
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Chinese officials are not respecting the diplomatic immunity of one of the Canadians detained in China last month as he ramped up efforts to get them released.
Poland arrests Huawei executive on spying charges – CNN
A Huawei executive has been arrested in Poland on charges of spying for China.
Huawei fires an employee in Poland, following charges of espionage
Chinese tech giant Huawei told The Wall Street Journal that it fired Wang Weijing, an employee charged with espionage.


Forget the Trade War. China Is Already in Crisis – Bloomberg
Even if the second-largest economy resolves the current slowdown, it will remain mired in a debt-driven slump.
Chinese Stocks Rise on Hopes for US Trade Progress – The New York Times
Chinese stocks rose Friday on signs of possible progress in negotiations over Beijing’s tariff war with Washington.
The Belt and Road Initiative Is a Corruption Bonanza – Foreign Policy
Despots and crooks are using China’s infrastructure project to stay in power—with Beijing’s help.
As West Grows Wary, Chinese Investment Plummets – Foreign Policy
The trade war and new U.S. regulations aimed at China are major factors.


Taiwan’s indigenous people remind Xi Jinping it has “never belonged to China” — Quartz
Centuries of history preceded the arrival of ethnic Chinese on the island.
Taiwan appoints new Premier amid rising China tensions – CNN
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday appointed a senior figure from her pro-independence ruling party as the island’s new Premier amid growing tensions with China.
Taiwan holds military drills aimed at deterring invasion as China tensions rise – CNN
Taiwan’s military held large-scale drills on its west coast Thursday amid growing tensions between the self-governed island and an increasingly belligerent Beijing.

Foreign Policy Reports

 


 

Capitalism needs a welfare state to survive – Back to basics
IN THE mythologies of both left and right, the welfare state is a work of socialism. Yet the intellectual tradition it owes most to is liberalism. The architect of its British version, William Beveridge, did not want to use the power of the state for its own sake.
UAWire – Russia refuses to pay contributions to the Council of Europe
After consultations with the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Liliane Maury Pasquier in Geneva, Deputy Chairman …
HRW Chief Hails Rising Resistance To Autocracy In ‘Dark Time’ For Human Rights
While the world’s autocrats and rights abusers often captured headlines last year, the defenders of human rights, democracy, and the rule of law also “gained strength,” according to Human Rig…


UK MPs produce legislation for holding a Brexit referendum in the next few months | Business Insider
LONDON – A cross-party group of anti-Brexit MPs has published draft legislation for creating a route to a referendum on Theresa May’s deal as MPs prepare to vote on the prime minister’s agreement with Brussels.
What the Brexit failure reveals about our current morass – CNNPolitics
On Tuesday night, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to usher her country out of the European Union — a move forced by the Brexit vote of 2016 — was crushingly rejected in Parliament.
Search on for Brexit consensus after May’s crushing defeat | Reuters
Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday will try to forge consensus in parliament on a Brexit divorce agreement after the crushing defeat of her own deal left Britain’s exit from the European Union in disarray 10 weeks before it is due to leave.
EU to step up planning for no-deal Brexit: Juncker, Michel | Reuters
The European Union will intensify its preparations for a scenario in which Britain leaves the bloc without a withdrawal agreement, the bloc’s chief executive and Belgium’s prime minister said on Tuesday.
Theresa May Just Suffered a Historic Defeat on Brexit—Now What? | The New Yorker
Amy Davidson Sorkin writes about the defeat of Theresa May’s Brexit deal in Parliament, the possible chaos of a no-deal Brexit, and the no-confidence vote called for by the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
British Prime Minister Theresa May suffers devastating defeat on key Brexit vote | Fox News
British Prime Minister Theresa May suffered a catastrophic defeat Tuesday as Parliament overwhelmingly rejected her Brexit deal with the European Union — a defeat that places the future of Brexit in doubt and is likely to spark calls for May’s ouster via a general election.
Brexit vote debacle puts Theresa May and the UK in a tough, but not catastrophic, corner
Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal suffered an overwhelming parliamentary rejection on Tuesday, a rejection on the scale of Michael Dukakis’s rejection in 1988. The consequences for Brexit, as a reality as much as anything, are highly significant.
Brexit has revealed MPs’ flaws – and our own | Isabel Hardman | Opinion | The Guardian
As parliament gears up to vote, its imperfections are obvious, says Isabel Hardman, assistant editor of the Spectator
Brexit: Labour Party wants general election, but 2nd referendum likely
Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn is hoping for an election, but some Labour politicians believe a second referendum could be more likely.
Brexit: Theresa May faces ‘meaningful vote’ on her deal – BBC News
Theresa May is expected to be defeated when MPs vote on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU later.
Theresa May says no Brexit more likely than no deal – BBC News
The PM says not leaving the EU is a possibility if MPs reject her deal in a Commons vote on Tuesday.
Brexit failure a catastrophic breach of trust, says May – BBC News
The PM urges MPs to back her deal amid Downing Street’s alarm at a plan by MPs to seize control of Brexit.
Labour set to call vote to topple Theresa May’s government | Politics | The Guardian
Opposition MPs told to get ready for no-confidence vote as top Tories admit they see no hope for PM’s Brexit deal


German Intelligence Agency Puts Far-Right Party on Warning – The New York Times
The Office for the Protection of the Constitution has deemed the Alternative for Germany’s youth wing “extremist” and will start observing select party members.
Secret Nazi symbol included in logo for far-right German politician’s new party – CNN
A leading far-right German politician has announced his departure from the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in order to create his own political organization.
New Far-Right German Party Uses Former Secret Nazi Symbol
André Poggenburg, who created the party, recently broke away from another far-right party for being too moderate.


With 2,300-word letter, Macron launches debate to quell ‘yellow vest’ unrest | Reuters
President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday kicked off a three-month national debate he hopes can quell the “yellow vest” unrest with a letter to the French in which he pledged to listen to new ideas but stuck to his core economic reform agenda.
French riot police are now using semi-automatic weapons against Yellow Vest protestors | Daily Mail Online
French riot police were filmed brandishing Heckler & Koch G36 weapons by the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Saturday afternoon.
Connection Established Between Russian Donbas Fighter And Paris Yellow-Vests – To Inform is to Influence
The Kyiv-Post is saying there is a definite connection between Victor Lenta, Russian fighters in Donbas, and the head of security for the Yellow Vest protestors in Paris. French Donbas sniper heads ‘security’ for anti-government protests in Paris The Kyiv Post article continues, establishing a strong connection between Russian efforts to unduly influence France, resulting…
Macron puts immigration quotas up for debate in hope of placating ‘yellow vests’
Emmanuel Macron has suggested discussing the introduction of immigration quotas in nationwide debates that begin on Tuesday in an attempt to end weekly anti-government protests by France&rsquo;s &ldquo;yellow vest&rdquo; movement.
German WWI submarine wreck exposed off French coast
A German submarine scuttled more than 100 years ago off the coast of France has been revealed by shi…
World War I German submarine unearthed in Northern France | Fox News
More than a century after it sunk into the sands of a Northern France beach, a German submarine from World War One has been unearthed.


Orban: Hungary’s new slave law risks first general strike since fall of communism
Hungary’s Viktor Orban is facing a fierce wave of protests, after his nationalist administration pushed through new labor measures.
EU NEWS: Hungary’s Orban now throws weight behind Italy and Poland’s ‘European SPRING’ | World | News | Express.co.uk
ITALY’S firebrand deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini is trying to create a populist alliance to take on the Brussels establishment in a showdown over the future of the European Union.


Flames Of Protest: The Wave Of Self-Immolations Against Soviet Tanks
Jan Palach set himself alight in central Prague 50 years ago, a shocking act that made headlines around the world. But it’s less well known that others, before and after Palach, took the same desperate action to protest the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.
Gdańsk, Poland mayor Paweł Adamowicz died after a charity-event stabbing — Quartz
While the motive is still unclear, the attack has political undertones.


Macedonia Renames Itself, Opens Doors To EU And NATO
Macedonia’s parliament has approved a constitutional amendment that renames the country the Republic of North Macedonia.
Macedonian parliament agrees to change country’s name to end a 27-year dispute with Greece
Macedonia’s parliament passed an amendment on Friday to rename the country Republic of North Macedonia to end a 27-year dispute with Greece.
Greek Leader Calls for Vote of Confidence After Minister Quits Over Macedonia Deal – The New York Times
The vote is likely to be held this week, after Panos Kammenos, Greece’s defense minister, resigned from Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s governing coalition on Sunday.
Greek government splits over Macedonia name change | News | Al Jazeera
PM Tsipras calls confidence vote after defence minister resigns and withdraws party from coalition government.


Putin Awards State Honors To Serbian President Vucic
A military honor guard welcomed Russian President Vladimir Putin on a state visit to Serbia on January 17. During the one-day visit, Putin awarded Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic with a Russian state honor, the Order of Aleksandr Nevsky.
Putin Receives Hero’s Welcome as Serbia Seeks Leverage on Kosovo – Bloomberg
Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced Kosovo’s creation of an army as destabilizing for the Balkans during a visit to Belgrade that underscored his ally Serbia’s conflicted approach to joining the European Union.
Putin warns West on Balkans as Serbia prepares lavish welcome – BBC News
As Russia’s president heads to Belgrade he accuses Western countries of “destabilising” the Balkans.
Ahead Of Visit To Serbia, Putin Blasts West’s Role In Balkans
Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to receive a grand welcome as he heads to Belgrade for talks with Serbian officials.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin Travels to the Balkans to Push Against NATO Membership, Slams U.S. Interference
Shortly before his visit to the region, President Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of destabilizing the Balkans.
Serbian Officials Tuning Up For Putin’s Visit To Belgrade
Serbia’s foreign minister says he’s polishing up his “diplomatic repertoire” of songs to show harmony with traditional ally Russia.
Ahead Of Serbia Visit, Putin Claims U.S. Is Playing Destabilizing Role In Balkans
Putin’s visit to Serbia is being closely watched in the West for clues as to Moscow’s intentions in the former Yugoslavia.
Suspect arrested in terror attack allegedly planned for Putin’s visit to Serbia — Meduza
Armin Alibashich, 21, has been arrested in the Serbian city of Novi Pazar on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack, the Serbian news outlet Blic reported.


UAWire – Russia developed a plan to rescue Venezuela’s economy
Russian authorities developed a plan to pull its strategic partner Venezuela out of the deep crisis. Venezuela’s economy is in collapse and inflation reached about 1,300,000% last year, Russian publication the Bell reported, citing sources in Russian government. There are four main points in the proposed package of measures. First, Russian economists offer to introduce a basic income for Venezuelan households. They claim a basic income is a more effective measure to combat poverty than fuel subsidies that the government intended to introduce beginning January 1, 2019. “Real money can be spent both on fuel and the household necessities,” said an interlocutor familiar with the proposals. Second, Russian officials propose to stop funding the budget deficit with new currency. In August last year, Maduro removed five zeroes from the currency and reissued it as the “sovereign bolivar,” but without any actions to reduce the budget deficit, the currency soon lost 95% of its value against the dollar. Third, Russian economists proposed that Venezuela implement tax reforms, following the example of Russia, moving to indirect taxation instead of direct taxes. The fourth measure proposed by Russia involves an increase in oil production and maximum export diversification. It is not known if the Venezuelan government is ready to implement the recommendations of Russian officials, the news outlet reports. However, they got the important things they needed from Russia after the meeting with Maduro in early December. As a result of the talks, Maduro stated, Russia is investing over $5 billion into Venezuela’s oil industry and over $1 billion into the mining industry. Russia will also supply 600,000 tons of grain to the country. From 2006, the Russian government and Russian oil giant Rosneft provided at least $17 billion in loans to Caracas.
UAWire – Russia eases Venezuela’s debt repayments
Russia has agreed to restructure the loans it has issued to the Venezuelan government over the last few years, and has proposed a plan to revive the economy to Nicolás Maduro, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told RIA Novosti on the sidelines of the Gaidar Forum on Tuesday. According to Storchak, Venezuela’s repayments schedule has been changed, since it had become impossible for Maduro’s government due to the economic degradation, food shortage, and the collapse of oil extraction faced by the country. According to Russia’s Accounts Chamber, Venezuela began to default in 2017, when Caracas missed a payment of roughly $1 billion. The national oil company PDVSA has now declared default on its foreign debt. In October 2017, a month before admitting bankruptcy, Maduro visited the Kremlin, where he was able to negotiate a 10 year extension for the loans. Since 2006, Russia has loaned Venezuela a total of $17 billion, according to estimates by Reuters: this figure includes the intergovernmental loans and the agreement with Rosneft which gave the Maduro regime a $4 billion advance for oil purchases. In November 2018, Maduro visited Moscow again, and after negotiations with President Vladimir Putin, he announced that Russia was prepared to invest another $6 billion in oil extraction and gold mining in Venezuela. These funds will be classified as investments, not as new loans to Caracas, Storchak clarified on Tuesday. He added that Russia has proposed to Venezuela an informal plan to revive the country’s economy, and is waiting for a response. A “landing party” of officials from Russia’s economic bloc – the Federal Tax Service, Central Bank and Treasury, traveled to Venezuela to “share experience” in October. According to Bloomberg, the Russian delegation met with members of the country’s central bank, whose reserves are at less than $10 billion against a total foreign debt of $140 billion. In the 6 years of Maduro’s presidency, Venezuela’s national currency, the bolivar, has devalued by a factor of 44, with inflation accelerating to 1.7 million percent. The economy has shrunk by nearly a third, and more than 3 million people have been forced to emigrate to escape from the shortage of medicine, food, and basic goods, which have been distributed by the army since summer 2016. At the start of the week, Maduro was sworn in for his second 6-year term as president.
U.S. Considers Harshest Venezuela Sanctions Yet, on Oil – WSJ
The U.S. is evaluating whether to impose tougher sanctions against Venezuela’s military and vital oil industry, a senior White House official said, as it seeks to ratchet up pressure on authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro to hold free and fair elections.
US calls for ‘new government’ in Venezuela | TheHill
The State Department expressed support Saturday for an opposition party’s bid to replace Nicolás Maduro as Venezuela’s leader, declaring Maduro’s government illegitimate.
Bolton ramps up attack on ‘illegitimate’ Maduro reign in Venezuela – POLITICO
Bolton re-affirmed the administration’s support of the leader of the opposition party, Juan Guaid&oacute;.
Pence slams Maduro’s inauguration in Venezuela as a ‘sham’ | TheHill
Vice President Pence on Thursday decried Nicolás Maduro’s inauguration as Venezuelan president for a second term as a “sham.” 
Trump considering recognizing Venezuela’s Juan Guaido as legitimate President – CNNPolitics
President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Venezuela’s opposition leader as the legitimate president of the country, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN, a significant move that would increase pressure on Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro.
Pence calls Venezuelan opposition leader to express support: report | TheHill
Vice President Pence on Tuesday reportedly called Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó in the latest administration display of support for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s rival. 
Venezuela Opposition Leader Is Arrested After Proposing to Take Power – The New York Times
Juan Guaidó, the National Assembly president, was briefly held after calling on the armed forces to support his taking power while new elections are held.
Venezuela Opposition Declares Maduro Illegitimate, and Urges Defections – The New York Times
In a high-stakes gambit, opposition lawmakers are hoping to entice members of the security forces to switch sides, so they can organize new elections.
Venezuela’s opposition looks for ways to oust Maduro, transfer power | Fox News

 


 

Capability / Strategy / History Publications

 


 

On the Pentagon’s wish list: warp drives and invisibility cloaks
Newly revealed research from the Defense Intelligence Agency covered a very large array of threats from out of this world.


Upgraded J-20 fighter jet ‘overwhelmingly superior’ to US F-35: analysts – Global Times
As South Korea became the latest country to buy and deploy US F-35 stealth fighter jets, Chinese military observers asserted that an upgraded Chinese J-20 fighter will gain overwhelming superiority over the F-35 in future and that China can fend off all potential threats from what media dubs the
Why the F-35 is already obsolete
The F-35 strike fighter is supposed to be streets ahead of the competition. It’s stealthy. It’s smart. It networks with everything and everybody around it to give its pilot an unprecedented picture of what’s going on. So why does the US Air Force already want to replace it?
Pegasus arrives: KC-46 tanker makes America more effective in era of growing threats
The KC-46s rolling off Boeing’s line today increase the mission-based affordability and effectiveness of America’s military in an era of growing threats.


Navy’s Old Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile To Get New Tricks After Scoring Six For Six At RIMPAC – The Drive
The Harpoon anti-ship missile, a staple in allied navies around the world, may be a 40-year-old design, but it still has a lot of fight left in it.
The U.S. Marines Want the Ability to Sink Ships | NMESIS System
The service envisions a future when enemy warships might menace Marines ashore.
Marines Want Missiles To Sink Ships From Shores, And They Want Them Fast « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary
“The Army is looking at this too but probably on a different timeline — the Marine Corps wants to get after this pretty quickly.”
US Navy moves toward unleashing killer robot ships on the world’s oceans
The Navy is planning to take the first few steps into a radical future, which, if it comes to pass, will upend how the fleet has fought since the Cold War.


The Army wants drones that make their own networks
For the wars of tomorrow, the Army wants drones that can work without runways or satellite communications.
How the Air Force’s new software team is proving its worth
The Air Force’s Kessel Run project is trying to change the culture inside DoD to bring it into the modern software era.
Why the British army tested robots in muddy fields
The British army hosted Autonomous Warrior, its first experimentation exercise, to evaluate more than 50 unmanned systems from industry.
Royal Danish Army orders advanced multi-spectral camouflage systems – Defence Blog
Saab has received several orders from Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization for Static Camouflage Systems. Deliveries are expected to take place in 2019. The Royal Danish Army has been a user of Saab Barracuda’s signature management systems for more than 25 years. The new orders contain static camouflage systems, which is an advanced multispectral camouflage net that provides unrivalled signature protection for vehicles and other objects in static positions. “With these products The Royal Danish Army will have the most advanced multi-spectral camouflage systems on the market, providing them with exceptional levels of multi-spectral protection against multiple sensor threats”, says Görgen Johansson, head of Saab business area Dynamics. Saab Barracuda camouflage solutions offer multispectral protection. Everything from ultra-violet, visual, near infrared, short wave infrared to thermal sensors and radar. Saab Barracuda’s advanced camouflage technology products have been exported to more than 60 countries worldwide. Saab offers a unique package of tailor-made camouflage systems and force protection solutions that decrease the enemy’s ability to detect and engage. These solutions protect personnel, vehicles and base infrastructure against hostile sensors and enemy target acquisition. These orders were booked in 2018.
Can you create a critical thinker? | U.S. Naval Institute Blog
… the U.S. Navy has been conducting a major study that’s expected to lead to a radical shift in the education of its personnel. The Navy will almost certainly recommend doing far more to emphasize critical thinking skills in its training and development programs. … … the HTS team designed exercises in which the initial information led the soldiers to form one conclusion. But over the course of the exercise, the soldiers received new information, and they had to work to change their initial conclusions and associated assumptions. As part of the exercise, educators also provided coaching on ways to better adjust to a fast-changing environment. For instance, the program encouraged soldiers to engage in hypothesis testing, which encourages people to sift through information and decide which pieces of information best support a hypothesis. As for the Navy study, the conclusions of the review will not be made public until later this month. Then the Secretary of the Navy will need to review the recommendations and decide which — if any — of the conclusions will be implemented.
195 Gigapixel Shanghai
bigpixel,gigapixel,panorama,giga pixel

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports

 


 

Google gets a victory over privacy rights in the EU’s top court
Google does not need to guarantee the “right to be forgotten” to users outside of the European Union, an adviser to the EU’s top court said on Thursday.
Deepfakes and the New Disinformation War
“Deepfakes”—highly realistic and difficult-to-detect digital manipulations of audio or video—are making it easier to portray someone saying or doing something he or she never said or did, with potentially disastrous consequences for politics.
Video: When does it make sense to turn to deception technology?
Jeremy Haas, chief security officer at LookingGlass, explains to the Fifth Domain team when deception technology makes sense.
Review: What is Hybrid Warfare? – To Inform is to Influence
I did not review this article previously, it was pointed out to me yesterday. I do not have a problem with this article, however, it fails in its originality and inclusiveness. Putting aside the debate if the term Hybrid Warfare is even a legitimate term, let’s assume it is an acceptable if perhaps temporary term. There are two very major forms of warfare being used as a part of Russian hybrid warfare which are not addressed and should be. The first is Religious Warfare, the most recent event being the removal of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine from the Russian Orthodox Church. From all appearances, the fact that the Ecumenical Orthodox Church has granted a Tomos of Encephaly, or independence, to the now renamed Orthodox Church of Ukraine means the Russian Orthodox Church is no longer the numerically largest Orthodox Church. This also means the Russian Orthodox Church, often viewed as merged at the hip with the Russian Government, no longer wields practical power over that part of Ukraine. The second is Lawfare, best illustrated in “Lawfare” – the forgotten element of Russia’s hybrid war against the West. Russia is using Lawfare to not only undermine the rule of law in the West but uses Lawfare to blame-shift the West. Russia accuses the West of doing exactly what Russia is doing and uses the legal system as a weapon or a tool to try to establish that precedent. Russian Hybrid Warfare is, first and foremost, a Whole-Of-Nation effort. Every part of the Russian government is expected to support the Russian state and use every means at their disposal to attack the West, focusing on Ukraine, the UK, and the US. Every state-owned and independent corporation is expected to support the state by any means possible. Every Russian NGO should be viewed as suspect in doing the same, as are many Russian citizens. If this perspective appears cynical, Russia has established this as their new norm through the constant and consistent establishment and reinforcement of this over the past five years. Denials, deceptions, and other rebuttals of responsibility are also Russia’s new norms. Russia is never at fault and Russia is always the victim are the two key phrases seemingly uttered at every opportunity while pointing a finger at others. Blameshifting is the norm, with sometimes as many as 32 alternate theories offered other than reality. </end editorial>
Microsoft vs Netscape – National Geographic
The ‘Browser Wars’ between Microsoft and Netscape meant one outcome. Tune in to Valley Of The Boom Tuesdays 8.30pm on National Geographic.
Government Responses to Malicious Use of Social Media | StratCom
Steps against online manipulation taken by 43 countries in two recent years |Euromaidan Press |
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the voice of an ignorant generation | Fox News
The seed of Millennial miseducation is finally bearing its rotten fruit.
St. Petersburg court upholds customs seizure of Masha Gessen’s new book about modern-day Russian ‘totalitarianism’ — Meduza
In November, Russian lawyer Sergey Golubok received a letter from the Pulkovskaya customs agency asking whether a book he had ordered on Amazon contained “signs of propagandizing certain views and ideologies.” The book in question was journalist and political analyst Masha Gessen’s The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, which won the 2017 National Book Award for nonfiction. After the book was temporarily seized and then returned to Golubok, he filed a legal complaint about the incident. Kommersant reports that while the attorney’s complaint was unsuccessful, the accompanying court proceedings revealed how Russian customs services decide whether to search incoming packages.


3 ways China’s military could use cyber in war
A new report articulates how China might use cyber capabilities during a conflict.
Hack brief: Astonishing 773 mln records exposed in monster breach – media | UNIAN
There are breaches, and there are megabreaches, and there’s Equifax. But a newly revealed trove of leaked data tops them all for sheer volume: 772,904,991 unique email addresses, over 21 million unique passwords, all recently posted to a hacking forum. The data set was first reported by security researcher Troy Hunt, who maintains Have I Been Pwned, a way to search whether your own email or password has been compromised by a breach at any point.
U.S. Charges Two Ukrainians In Hack Of U.S. Security Regulator
According to the U.S. criminal complaint, the scheme, which netted $100 million in illegal profits, involved hacking into a database run by the Securities and Exchange Commission, between February …
The Pentagon Has More than 250 Cyber Gaps in Its Networks, Watchdog Says – Defense One
The Defense Department has a lot of work to do to remedy some years-old cyber issues.

US Domestic Policy Reports

 


 

Trump Announces Expansion Of U.S. Missile Defense
President Donald Trump has announced that the United States will develop new technologies — including in space — to acquire unrivaled missile defense and maintain an advantage over adversaries su…
President Trump Missile Defense Strategy | 2019 Missile Defense Review
It’s back to the future. Three decades after the Reagan administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative, Trump wants to explore space-based missile defenses.
Trump’s New Missile Policy Relies Heavily on Largely Unproven Technologies – Defense One
New adversary missiles are to be met by a host of technologies that, by and large, don’t exist yet.
Missile Defense Review Calls for Protecting US From Cruise Missiles – Defense One
The long-awaited report calls for technology development, but stops short of calling for the deployment of hypersonic interceptors and space-based lasers.
Dems express alarm at Trump missile defense plans | TheHill
The top Democrats from the House and Senate Armed Services committees on Thursday indicated they were alarmed by the Trump administration’s new missile defense plans, and urged the president to avoid policies that could spur another Cold War and w
Pentagon to Study Putting Anti-Missile Laser Weapons in Space – Defense One
The long-anticipated missile defense review shies away from a full-scale push — which critics say underlines the idea’s folly.
US considers new ways to detect and track enemy missiles
The Trump administration is considering ways to expand U.S. homeland and overseas defenses against a potential missile attack, possibly adding a layer of satellites in space to detect and track hostile targets.


Trump Has Repeatedly Floated The Idea Of U.S. Leaving NATO: NYT | HuffPost Australia
The president raised the possibility of a U.S. withdrawal from the alliance “several times” in 2018, senior administration officials told the New York Times.
Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia – The New York Times
The president’s repeatedly stated desire in private to withdraw from the alliance has raised concerns among officials who fear he may revisit the threat.
Aides leak tale of trying to stop Trump from leaving NATO | Fox News
There is no longer any question that some of the top officials surrounding President Trump are trying to restrain him from certain dramatic decisions, especially on foreign policy.
John Bolton is under attack – The Washington Post
Someone in the White House is trying to weaken the hawkish national security adviser.
Those Porky Pentagon Earmarks Never Really Went Away | The American Conservative
David Shulkin improperly allowed employee to drive his wife around
An investigation found former VA secretary David Shulkin violated ethics rules by allowing his driver to provide transportation for his wife.


DNC alleges it was targeted in phishing attack after midterms – ABC News
The DNC’s latest complaint is part of an ongoing lawsuit.
What Kissinger Knew That Pompeo Does Not – Defense One
Don’t promise the world if you can’t deliver.
Mitt Romney Fails His First Test on Russia – Bloomberg
John McCain was willing to vote against Trump, but Utah’s junior senator doesn’t seem quite ready.


Rudy Giuliani says Trump didn’t collude with Russia but can’t say if campaign aides did – CNNPolitics
Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that he never denied President Donald Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, only that the President himself was not involved in collusion.
Giuliani claims ‘I never said there was no collusion’ in Trump campaign | Fox News
President Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, claimed Wednesday night that he “never said there was no collusion” between members of President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russian officials but only said that Trump himself never colluded with Russian officials.
Newt Gingrich: Reported FBI probe of Trump was led by anti-Trump fanatics who betrayed Constitution | Fox News
Reported FBI investigation of whether Trump was working on behalf of Russians was run by anti-Trump fanatics. There’s no evidence Trump betrayed US.
Trump’s firing of Comey triggered an FBI counterintelligence investigation. Here’s what ‘counterintelligence’ entails.
Trump’s firing of Comey triggered an FBI counterintelligence investigation. Here’s what ‘counterintelligence’ entails.
F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia – The New York Times
The investigation, whose fate is unclear, led counterintelligence investigators to consider an explosive question: whether the president’s actions constituted a possible threat to national security.
Kremlin: Speculation on Trump-Putin ‘conspiracy’ bears ‘no relation to reality’ – CNNPolitics
The Kremlin has slammed speculation that Donald Trump has conspired with Vladimir Putin, saying that the current controversies roiling the US administration reflected larger rifts in American society.
NYT: FBI Investigated Whether Trump Was Working For Russia
The newspaper, citing unnamed former law enforcement officials and others, reported that the counterintelligence investigation was initially separate from an ongoing criminal investigation.
Senate intel committee grilling ex-Trump campaign members in Russia probe
The Senate intelligence committee interviewed Sam Nunberg Friday, asking questions about Trump’s business dealings and how he formulated his Russia policies.
House Intelligence Committee prepares to reopen Russia inquiry without GOP support – Los Angeles Times
Newly-empowered Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee are prepared to reopen the Russia investigation without any Republican support nearly a year Republicans ended the probe by giving President Trump a clean bill of health.
Trump has concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration – The Washington Post
Aides said there is no substantial record of the president’s meetings with the Russian leader even in classified files, but Trump allies say he has a justified fear of leaks.
Trump’s Attorney General Nominee To Testify, Amid Worries Over Mueller Probe
U.S. President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general is set to testify before a U.S. Senate committee, amid concerns about the Russia investigation overseen by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump-Russia now ‘the single greatest scandal in the history’ of the US: Former Naval intel officer Malcom Nance on MSNBC
Donald Trump Tells Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro That Question About If He Worked For Russia is ‘The Most Insulting Thing I’ve Ever Been Asked’
The president conducted a phone interview on “Justice with Jeanine” to talk about the New York Times article that revealed the FBI conducted a counterintelligence investigation on Trump after James
‘I Never Worked For Russia,’ Trump Says, Slamming ‘Big Fat Hoax’
U.S. President Donald Trump says he has “never worked for Russia,” in response to reports that raised questions about his ties to President Vladimir Putin, reports which he called a “big fat hoax.”
Trump, Putin, Fox News and a Test of Presidential Power – Bloomberg
The FBI worried that Trump was serving Russia’s interests. Turns out, Trump’s been burying records of his conversations with Putin. And he won’t give even Fox News a straight answer about any of it.
Trump Denies Hiding Details Of Putin Meetings
U.S. President Donald Trump has denied hiding details of conversations with Russian leader Vladimir Putin from administration officials, saying he is “not keeping anything under wraps.”
James Comey Indirectly Responds To Trump’s Morning Twitter Rant With Single Quote | HuffPost Australia
In usual fashion, the former FBI director responded to a barrage of insults from the president with a subtle subtweet.
House lawyers meeting Monday to evaluate subpoenaing Trump’s interpreters: Democratic aide – ABC News
Lawyers for two House committees will meet to evaluate their legal options for subpoenaing the interpreters present when President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin met.
‘So many questions raised’: Lawmakers respond to two bombshell Trump, Russia reports
Congressmen and senators responded to two reports from The New York Times and The Washington Post on President Donald Trump and Russia.
Schiff floats subpoena for Putin meeting translator, as Dem majority ramps up Trump probes | Fox News
Newly minted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff hinted over the weekend that he could subpoena notes or testimony from the interpreter in several meetings between President Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, a move that would dramatically escalate majority Democrats’ investigations into the Trump administration. 
Rachel Maddow Explains Putin’s Possible ‘Blackmail In A Bottle’ On Donald Trump | HuffPost Australia
The MSNBC host accused Trump of performing “backflips on demand” for Russia.
Donald Trump’s Pattern of Deference to the Kremlin Is Clear – Defense One
Any specific incident might be explained away fairly easily. As a pattern, they’re too weird to dismiss with a shrug.


The downside of Michael Cohen’s testifying publicly | TheHill
A client is entitled to believe in the sanctity of the time-honored confidentiality lawyers pledge.
Michael Cohen Paid For A Fake Thirst Twitter Account
The account’s bio: “Women who love and support Michael Cohen. Strong, pit bull, sex symbol, no nonsense, business oriented, and ready to make a difference!”
Donald Trump Told Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About Moscow Tower Project
Trump received 10 personal updates from Michael Cohen and encouraged a planned meeting with Vladimir Putin.
Michael Cohen still intends to testify before Congress despite concerns for his family – CNNPolitics
President Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen remains on track to testify before Congress in February, but he is concerned for his family, two sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
Trump Directed Cohen to Lie About Moscow Deal—and Mueller’s Got the Evidence, Report Says
Trump is said to have been so heavily involved in the Trump Tower project in Moscow during the campaign he was ready to go meet with Putin to move things along.
Cohen Hired IT Firm to Rig Early CNBC, Drudge Polls to Favor Trump – WSJ
In early 2015, the owner of a small tech company showed up at Trump Tower to collect $50,000 for helping Michael Cohen try to rig online polls in Donald Trump’s favor before the presidential campaign. He says he never got what he was owed.
Michael Cohen reconsidering plan to testify to Congress, adviser says – Business Insider
“There is genuine fear and it has caused Michael Cohen to consider whether he should go forward or not, and he has not made a final decision,” Lanny Davis…
Liberty U. Senior Official Accepted Bag of Money for Helping Trump in Online Polls, Report Says – The Chronicle of Higher Education
The previously unreported connections are the latest in a longstanding series of ties between the president and the Christian university in Virginia.
Donald Trump Has to Rig Every Game He Plays, President’s Biographer Tells CNN’s Don Lemon
“This is a man who thinks that he cannot win a straight-up competition,” explained Michael D’Antonio.


U.S. Law Firm to Pay $4.6 Million In Settlement Over Manafort Ukraine Lobbying
A U.S. law firm has agreed to pay $4.6 million to settle claims by the Department of Justice that it violated lobbying laws by failing to register work it did for Ukraine’s government.
Law firm that worked with Manafort in Ukraine admits to misleading DOJ – POLITICO
Skadden agreed to hand over nearly $4.7 million in a settlement made public Thursday.
Manafort Worked With Russian-Ukrainian On Peace Plan Before — And Long After — Criminal Charges
Konstantin Kilimnik, the alleged Russian intelligence operative who helped run Paul Manafort’s operations in Kyiv for roughly a decade, boasted of the duo’s closeness to RFE/RL in a 2017 interview….
Manafort: Ukrainian tycoon denies receiving polling data – CNNPolitics
A prominent Ukrainian tycoon denied Thursday requesting or receiving US polling data from Paul Manafort, following revelations in a court filing Tuesday that pointed to coordination between the former Trump campaign chairman and the Russian government.
Why Would Paul Manafort Share Polling Data with Russia? | The New Yorker
Sue Halpern writes on the connections between Paul Manafort, Trump’s polling operations, and Russian operatives, including the Internet Research Agency, and the possible uses of shared polling data during the 2016 Presidential campaign.
Manafort developments trigger new ‘collusion’ debate | TheHill
The revelation that President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort allegedly shared polling data with a Russian suspected of ties to Kremlin intelligence during the 2016 presidential race has triggered fresh debate about “collusion” in W
Schumer Says He Will Force Vote On U.S. Move To Ease Sanctions On Deripaska
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will use the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act to force a vote on a resolution disapproving a decision by President Donald Tru…
World-Renowned Scientific University Quietly Untangles Itself From Russian Billionaire
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology — one of the world’s most prestigious and wealthiest universities — has moved to erase years of ties with Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg following his blacklisting by the U.S. Treasury Department.


Schumer’s Russia Sanctions Gambit – WSJ
There’s no evidence to doubt the Treasury’s negotiation with Rusal.
U.S. Senate To Vote On Deripaska Sanctions Resolution
The resolution is in response to the December 20 announcement by the Treasury Department that it would lift sanctions on the core businesses of Deripaska. That includes aluminum giant Rusal, its pa…
U.S. Senators Advance Deripaska Sanctions Resolution Over Administration Objections
The resolution is in response to last month’s announcement by the Treasury Department that it would lift sanctions on the core businesses of Deripaska, a powerful Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin.
Legislation To Maintain Sanctions On Deripaska Companies Fails In U.S. Senate
The resolution was pushed in response to last month’s announcement by the Treasury Department that it would lift sanctions on the core businesses of Deripaska. That includes aluminum giant Rusal, i…