Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (68)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Aerial provocations continue. Rogues vs. Peers. Nuclear update.

A great many reports on Russia’s internal state, as it continues its steady slide into the abyss.

Kazakhstan and Belarus updates – the fissures with Russia grow.

Russia continues its effort to divide Moldova, further feeding Gaugaz separatism.

By far the most interesting Mid Eastern report is that of major lethal engagements between Russia backed and Iran backed formations of the Syrian Army – if accurate this indicates the Assad regime has lost control of its own military to the expeditionary contingents of Russia and Iran. More Iranian threats against the West and Israel. ISIS and Afghanistan updates.

Far Eastern reports dominated by Huawei.

Europe reports dominated by UK, France, Germany, and the Balkans. Update on anti-Semitism in Europe.

AI tech update. Dominant capability topic is F-35, with the FRG dumping it from its fighter competition, and the DOT&E report showing more deficiencies and little progress fixing past problems.

Interesting reports on cyber, and influence.

A very active week in the US domestic debate.


 

NATO / EU / Russia Reports

 


 

U.S., Canadian Jets Scrambled To Escort Russian Bombers Away From North American Coastline
U.S. and Canadian fighter jets were scrambled to escort two Russian nuclear-capable bombers away from near the North American coastline, military officials say.
Russian bombers buzz North American coastline | Fox News
US and Canadian Air Force scramble four fighter jets to intercept two Russian bombers | Daily Mail Online
Two US Air Force F-22 fighter jets and two Canadian CF-18 jets escorted the aircraft, which ‘remained in international airspace’.
NATO jets able to confuse Russia’s A2/AD systems – Stoltenberg – news world | UNIAN
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says that the most advanced allied fighter-bomber aircraft can degrade Russia’s ability to use anti-access/area denial systems, or A2/AD, to threaten NATO territory. Besides, Russian air force is not nearly as capable as that of NATO.
NATO chief: Top combat aircraft can defeat Russian air defenses
Joining an editorial board meeting with the Washington Examiner on Sunday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained that the most advanced allied fighter-bomber aircraft can degrade Russia’s ability to use anti-access/area denial systems, or A2/AD, to threaten NATO territory.
The US, UK, and French air forces just practiced defeating a Russian blitzkrieg
Coming on the back of a far larger NATO exercise, Point Blank proves that the major allies are ready to fight and can win against Russia.
What the Evolution of NATO’s Missions Means for the Future | The National Interest
Washington is pushing the Alliance to adopt an increasingly offensive focus, and the allies could be making a major, self-destructive blunder to follow its lead.
Donald J. Trump on Twitter: “Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, just stated that because of me NATO has been able to raise far more money than ever before from its members after many years of decline. It’s called burden sharing. Also, more united. Dems & Fake News like to portray the opposite!”
Trump Administration Begins Production Of A New Nuclear Weapon : NPR
The submarine-launched missile is a smaller variant of an existing weapon. The administration says it’s needed to deter Russia.
US nuclear weapons: first low-yield warheads roll off the production line | World news | The Guardian
New type of weapon, ordered by Trump’s nuclear posture review, could make conflict more likely, say experts
MIKE SCRAFTON. The fissures in NATO. | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations
NATO defence ministers will meet in Brussels over 13-14 February. Member states will struggle to find any accord in the face of an array strategic and political challenges from internal and external sources. Overshadowing all else will be the vagaries of American policy and the Administration’s undisguised lack of enthusiasm for NATO, or any multilateral arrangements. While most European governments have accepted as justified the US criticism of their defence spending against agreed targets of 2 percent of GDP progress has been glacial. The Defence budgets will continue to be a point of contention within NATO for the US. Of more concern for the Europeans is the American failure to consult with allies on major policy shifts. The abandonment of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Iran deal) was a defining juncture in the relationship. The major European allies disputed the factual basis and the American logic, even as their concerns were disregarded by the US. The lack of forewarning of the announcement of the withdrawal from Syria has just compounded the sense that the US is no longer a reliable ally. An apprehension not helped by reports that Trump has weighed the prospect of pulling out of NATO altogether. The US will also exit the Cold War era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty; based on President Trump’s comments last year and the failure of US-Russian talks. The Russians are likely in violation of the Treaty but to a degree the willingness of the US to withdraw derives from the desire to acquire an intermediate range missile capability itself to match the Chinese in East Asia. Secretary Mattis tried to mollify allies surprised by Trump’s announcement and kept the Europeans appraised of US thinking on the arms control treaty before his lamented departure. Although the Europeans fell in line behind the US last December, the demise of the INF Treaty will complicate greatly European defence planning. Russia will now feel free to openly build and deploy nuclear and conventional missiles with ranges between 500–5,500 km that directly threaten Europe.
Russia Is a Rogue, Not a Peer; China Is a Peer, Not a Rogue: Different Challenges, Different Responses | RAND
This Perspective assesses the strategic competition among Russia, China, and the United States for global influence. Russia and China represent distinct challenges to U.S. national security. Russia is not a peer or near-peer competitor but rather a well-armed rogue state that seeks to subvert an international order it can never hope to dominate. In contrast, China is a peer competitor that wants to shape an international order that it can aspire to dominate. Both countries seek to alter the status quo, but only Russia has attacked neighboring states, annexed conquered territory, and supported insurgent forces seeking to detach yet more territory. Russia assassinates its opponents at home and abroad, interferes in foreign elections, subverts foreign democracies, and works to undermine European and Atlantic institutions. In contrast, China’s growing influence is based largely on more-positive measures: trade, investment, and development assistance. These attributes make China a less immediate threat but a much greater long-term challenge. In the military realm, Russia can be contained, but China cannot. Its military predominance in east Asia will grow over time, compelling the United States to accept greater costs and risks just to secure existing commitments. But it is geoeconomics, rather than geopolitics, in which the contest for world leadership will play out. It is in the domain of geoeconomics that the balance of global influence between the United States and China has begun shifting in China’s favor.
DNI: Russia, China Most Serious Espionage Threats To U.S.
Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats says Russia and China present the most serious espionage and cyberattack threats to the United States as the two seek to expand their global reach.
Trump Administration Reportedly Building New Nuclear Weapon To One-Up Russia | HuffPost Australia
The low-yield weapon is being developed as the U.S. considers pulling out of a major arms treaty with Russia.
Five Nuclear Powers Meeting In Beijing As U.S. Calls For Transparency
The United States has called for more transparency from Russia and China regarding their nuclear programs, as diplomats from five major nuclear powers meet in Beijing.

Russia / Russophone Reports

 


 

The Week In Russia: A ‘Political Prisoner’ Walks Free, Siberian Schoolchildren Go Hungry, And Moscow Backs Its Man In Caracas
Putin’s poll problems persist, with the number of Russians naming him as someone they trust to handle “important matters of state” at a longtime low of 33.4 percent.
Poll: Growing Number Of Russians Believe Country ‘On The Wrong Course’
A new opinion poll shows more Russia believe their country is moving in the wrong rather than the right direction, a first since 2006.
Military Parade Marks 75th Anniversary Of End Of ‘Siege Of Leningrad’
Russia’s second-largest city is marking the 75th anniversary of the lifting of Nazi Germany’s devastating Siege of Leningrad during World War II in which hundreds of thousands of civilians peri…
Russian Military Parade Commemorates End Of Siege Of Leningrad
The Russian Army held a parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the lifting of the Siege of Leningrad, today’s St. Petersburg. More than 2,500 troops and 100 vehicles took part in the January 27 event. The 872-day blockade of the city by Nazi Germany ended on January 27, 1944, after claiming hundreds of thousands of lives.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: The Great and Powerful Russian Language Isn’t as Uniform as Putin Imagines
Paul Goble Staunton, January 30 – One of the myths Vladimir Putin promotes and that many in Russia and elsewhere uncritically accept is that there is a single Russian language that everyone who calls himself a Russian speaks. In fact, as a Belarusian commentator points out, that is simply not the case. The “standard” Russian Putin and his regime insist on in the schools and in the central media is not the language many people beyond the ring road speak. Instead, there are many Russians, which some Russian scholars acknowledge as “dialects” but which in fact, Belarusian commentator Ales Mikus says, are proto-languages or even more. In a commentary in Belarusian that has now been translated into Russian for the Region.Expert portal, Mikus points to the language people living around Smolensk used to speak and in some measure still do (naviny.by/article/20190101/1546339538-ales-mikus-praekcyi-karta-u-rukave-kadyfikavac-smalyanskuyu-movu and region.expert/smolanguage/). He provides materials from three books prepared by a late 19th century Russian ethnographer, Vladimir Dobrovolsky, who collected materials about the Smolensk language and suggests that those words, if revived and promoted, could serve as the basis of a regional language within the Russian nation. Mikus says that this is an especially worthy project because Smolensk means far more to its residents and to Belarusians than it does to Russians. Smolensk was where the Belarusian SSR was proclaimed a century ago this month. More than that, it was one of the most important cities of the Grand Principality of Lithuania, rather than of Muscovy. Now, unfortunately, he says, “even the name Smolensk is something that Muscovites and we following them do not understand. They think it comes from the Russian word for “tar” (smol), but in fact apparently it comes from the Baltic word for “bee” (kimal), as even some Russian investigators have acknowledged. This can and should be recalled, the commentator continues; and “possibly, the Smolensk language will become one of the projects for the future cultural decentralization of Russia,” something from which the people of Smolensk and other regions would clearly benefit however much the imperial center can be counted on to oppose.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s Charges about Western Interest in Regions Highlight Its Own Worries
Paul Goble Staunton, January 28 – It is longstanding Russian practice to point to Western interest in or involvement with issues within the borders of the Russian Federation that in fact Moscow officials themselves are worried about but cannot easily discuss openly lest they appear to be overly alarmist or be forced to accept part of the blame. Consequently, it is worthwhile to attend to such remarks even if they are not true on their face, always keeping in mind that discussing such issues in terms of supposed Western interest or involvement has the additional virtue for such officials in Russian security agencies because it is a surefire way to gain more resources from the Kremlin for their own work. Speaking in Kazan, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov said that the Western intelligence community is studying “scenarios for possible military conflicts in various regions of Russia,” including the republics of the Middle Volga (ria.ru/20190128/1550014611.html and idelreal.org/a/29735660.html). That means, he continued, that officials must both display heightened vigilance to all threats to public order in the region and view threats they have long considered such as Islamist terrorism “through a different prism,” recognizing that what they had thought of as a trend in and of itself may be part of something larger. Among these developments, he suggested, is the influx of migrant workers from Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who, while they generally obey in a law-abiding fashion, nonetheless can destabilize the situation because of their numbers and the reaction of others to them (ria.ru/20190128/1550012988.html).
Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Free Russia Will be a National Russia or It Won’t be at All,’ Savvin Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 28 – Many people believe that nationalism and democracy are antithetical, Dimitry Savvin says; but the only successful transitions in East Europe and the former Soviet space from occurred where nationalism reinforced democratic ideas. The same thing will be true for a free Russia or such a state will not exist. In a commentary for the After Empire portal, the émigré Russian nationalist says, the success stories in the former communist region have been Poland, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia, in each of which democracy and nationalism reinforced one another (afterempire.info/2019/01/28/savvin-svobodnaya-russia/). In these cases, Savvin continues, “nationalist ideology, in sync with anti-communism and an orientation toward Euro-Atlantic standards of democracy gave society the necessary ideological motivation and guaranteed a link with a historic tradition and thus established a simple and easily understandable system of coordinates” for policy. The situation in the Russian Federation has been different. There nationalism and democracy stood apart from one another and even in hostile relationship to each other. They were not allies as they became in Ukraine where during the Maidan, there were priests and nationalists along with democrats, while in the Russian Bolotnoye there wasn’t such a mix. Initially, there were some expectations that Russia would move in the same direction as the success stories, “but then everything fell apart. It fell apart approximately at the same time when the social-political structure of the Russian Federation began to acquire neo-Soviet elements.” Those who opposed the nationalists fell back on an old Stalinist argument about the supposedly fundamental difference between nationalism of small peoples which can be good and nationalism of large peoples which is inevitably “expansionist, imperialist and in no way linked with democracy.” In fact, nationalism of large nations can be liberationist, as was the case with Sun Yat-Sen in China and Mustafa Kemal in Turkey, directed as they were less at foreign occupiers than at domestic arrangements that kept their nations in thrall; and nationalism of small nations can be undemocratic. Those who opposed Russian nationalism opened the way for the return of the Soviet nomenklatura, Savvin says; but “what kind of ‘liberalism’ could Soviet nomenklaturshchiki and chekists offer us other than the version which they studied in Soviet party schools?” In short, none at all. Some democrats thought this problem could be avoided by jumping immediately toward “a multi-cultural society with open borders for all. But here the problem is what it always is: it is a beautiful idea but it won’t work in practice.” People aren’t ready in the short term to make that leap and so they will fall away from progress toward democracy. What this means, Savvin says, is that “a national state will inevitably come in place of the neo-Soviet nomenklatura-oligarchic dictatorship” that now exists in Russia. “There simply aren’t any other variants. The only question is whether this will be a single state … of there will be complete disintegration into a whole raft of nation states.” Different people will have different preferences about that, Savvinn says; but as for him, “a Transbaikal person by birth and a Petersburger by calling and now a forced émigré, the Motherland is not this or that portion but all of Russia, which he wants to see free and flourishing.” And that in turn means that “there is simply no alternative to a national-democratic coalition constructed according to the type of the popular fronts of Eastern Europe and the Baltics at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s. Free Russia will be a national Russia or it won’t be at all.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Intelligentsia in Russia has Lost Its Role Even for Those Who are Part of It, New Study Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 25 – No social group in Russia has been the subject of as much discussion as the intelligentsia, given that its members are the ones who typically write about social groups and focus first and foremost on themselves. But developments in the last two decades have changed that, and studies of the current state of the Russian intelligentsia are rare. An exception is a survey of 1450 members of the humanitarian intelligentsia – teachers, medical personnel, and culture workers — conducted last year and now analyzed by Zhan Toshchenko of the Moscow Institute of Sociology at the Academy of Sciences for Nezavisimaya gazeta (ng.ru/stsenarii/2019-01-21/13_7487_uni.html). He says these groups were chosen because they represent the largest groups among the humanitarian intelligentsia, because that intelligentsia played a critical role in the early 1990s, and because it has typically been a social leader. Consequently, it is important to understand if and how its role has changed in recent years. Toshchenko and his team drew eight conclusions from their findings, conclusions that some will find disturbing and that are likely to provoke new debate: · First, “it is impossible to speak about the intelligentsia as a single homogenous group” at odds with society given that its values are little or no different from those of society as a whole. · Second, “the intelligentsia on many measures has lost the civic and cultural-moral role” it has traditionally played. · Third, “it is obvious that knowledge (education) has practically ceased to play a role in vertical and not uncommonly in horizontal mobility.” · Fourth, those in this group have lost “the stable worldview orientations and also efforts to connect them with specific behaviors.” · Fifth, such people do not have stable attitudes toward work or toward a specific way of life. · Sixth, many in this category display “a high level of anomie – passivity, indifference, inertness, and as a result, withdrawal into personal life or in the best case in involvement directly in ‘small things’ in their organization or institution.” · Seventh, like the rest of Russian society, “the intelligentsia to a significant extent does not believe in a positive future even when it hopes for it.” And eighth, members of this group are increasingly skeptical that their group in fact still exists. Many deny it completely, while others express strong doubts.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Support for Karelian Independence Far Greater in 1990-1992 than Many Recall
Paul Goble Staunton, January 24 – When the Soviet Union was in the process of dissolving along the borders of the union republics, two places which had been union republics in the past – Karelia and Abkhazia – were put in a difficult position: if they had remained union republics, they would have been headed toward independence. If they did not reclaim that position, they would not. In the event, neither achieved that status in 1991, but Abkhazia as a result of its own military actions immediately thereafter against Georgia and then Russia’s military action against Tbilisi led to Abkhazia joining the ranks of the unrecognized states. That history is well known, but Karelia and its failure at the start of the post-Soviet era are now. In an important article on the new Region.Expert portal, Karelian activist Valery Potashov recounts the history of Karelian aspirations at the end of Soviet times and the start of post-Soviet ones, aspirations that say a great deal about both ethnic assertiveness and regional aspirations even now (region.expert/karexit/). Some remember that Karelia was one of the first to declare its sovereignty within the RSFSR or USSR on August 9, 1990, just three days after Boris Yeltsin told the non-Russian republics to take as much sovereignty “as you can swallow.” But fewer remember that in November 1991, Karelia renamed itself the Karelian Republic. “For a long time,” Postashov says, he “thought that the adoption of this Declaration was the bravest step of the Karelian deputies. But in the online ‘Library of Andrey Zakharov,’ [he] found materials from the January 1992 session of the Supreme Soviet of Karelia and read literally the following: “Deputy S. Popov proposed including in the agenda the issue of the possibility of the exit of the Republic of Karelia from the Russian Federation. A number of parliamentarians countered with a proposal to consider the issue about the steps by the Republic of Karelia leading to the adoption of a Federative Agreement. “Both proposals were put to a vote. Forty-three deputies voted for the first; 76 voted for the second.” Sergey Popov, a sovkhoz direction, is no longer among the living, Postashov says, but the Petrozavodsk newspaper Nabat Severo-Zapada provides a description of what happened. “Popov,” it says, “proposed that the session study the possibility of the exit of Karelia from the Russian Federation” by examining whether Karelia could make it on its own economically. Popov’s proposal sparked a media discussion about Karelian independence, and even those who did not vote for his program, including the chairman of the Karelian Supreme Soviet said that he understood the positions of those who did. Probably both he and others viewed this proposal as a means of putting pressure on Moscow. “As we see,” Potashov says, “at the start of the 1990s, the idea of the state independence of Karelia was very much present not only in the public discussions of the republic but even was raised in the walls of its parliament. Neither the politicians nor the leaders of Karelia were afraid of this discussion: they considered it as completely natural.” Now the situation has completely changed. Anyone who even talks about Karelian independence is likely to be charged and fined if not worse. “In other words, ‘the field of freedom’ in the Russian Federation has turned out to be smaller than in the Soviet Union where the right of republics to leave the USSR was guaranteed in the Constitution of the country.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Like Other Predominantly Ethnic Russian Regions, Novgorod Oblast is Dying
Paul Goble Staunton, January 28 – Like other predominantly ethnic Russian regions, Novgorod Oblast is dying. Its population has declined by 20 percent since the end of Soviet times and will continue to decline unless radical measures are taken, including decentralization and democratization of governing bodies there, Nikolay Podosokorsky says. The oblast’s loss of more than 150,000 people over the last quarter century reflects, the commentator says in an essay reposted on the Tallinn-based Region.Expert portal, a combination of demographic factors exacerbated by political developments that have left the region without the ability to act (region.expert/novgorod-death/ and philologist.livejournal.com/10701551.html). Among the most obvious demographic drivers of this decline, Podosorkorsky says, are a low birthrate, the increasingly late arrival of the first child (now mothers give birth for the first time when they are 28), high mortality rates (with an average life expectancy of only 63), and massive outmigration because of the lack of jobs and low wages. The capacity of the regional government to do anything about any of these issues is seriously limited: Moscow cancelled direct elections of the majors and heads of regions in this “birthplace of Russian democracy already in 2014” and makes all the decisions for it. The results call into question the Kremlin’s claim of “raising Russia from its knees.” Moscow is driving down the size of the Russian population in another way, one that is sometimes ignored, Podosorkovsky says. “It is much easier to give birth and live longer when you are surrounded by a collectively secure world than by one where the entire flood of information is connected with risks and negative developments.” That alone is not enough, the regional activist says. Russians need to feel that the authorities listen to them, and the authorities need to reach out even to their critics. If they do, the critics in almost all cases will make a useful contribution to affairs, the residents of the oblast will feel better, and they will behave positively in demographic and other ways. Unfortunately, he says, in Novgorod Oblast at the present time, there is no one who could cleverly demand from Gazprom as have the Chechens a write off of consumer debts to the gas company. That absence creates a vicious cycle, one in which people feel lost, behave demographically as they do, and the death of Russian regions looms.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Soviet Authorities Promoted Assimilation of Smallest Peoples by Not Including Them in the Census
Paul Goble Staunton, January 24 – As the Russian Federation approaches another census now slated for next year, many are considering which peoples will be continue to be listed and thus assured of a certain status until at least the next enumeration and which, in contrast, will be grouped within others and thus put on the path to official non-recognition. Such discussions appear to be behind a new article by Yaroslav Butakov for the Russkaya Sumerka portal on the complicated histories of a small fraction of the much larger group of nations the Soviet authorities either initially recognized and then ended it or never recognized at all (russian7.ru/post/kakie-narody-rossii-sovetskie-vlasti/). The 1897 imperial census did not count nationalities as such but rather identified people in terms of religion and language, while the 1926 Soviet census allowed people great freedom in identifying in ethnic terms. Subsequent Soviet and now Russian censuses have been much more restrictive, largely limiting ethnic differences to linguistic ones. Over this period, Butakov writes, “certain peoples were assimilated, but others were ‘helped’ to do this by the organs of state power which did not include them in the next census and united them to larger ethnic communities.” Among the examples he gives are the following: The Mishars (or Meshcheryaks). Considered as a separate people by pre-1917 ethnographers, the Mishars professed by Islam (125,000 in 1897) and Orthodoxy (35,000 in that year). In the 1926 census, they numbered 242,600; but by 1939, they had disappeared, folded into the Volga Tatars because their language was viewed as the same by the Soviet authorities. But not all Mishars wanted to be considered Tatars, and many of those who knew Russian declared that ethnicity in 1939 and since that time, even without changing their native language. The Kryashens – “baptized” Tatars – have shared a similar fate. The Teptars. There were 27,400 of them in 1926; but in subsequence censuses, they were not counted separately but instead divided between the Tatars and the Bashkirs. The Besermans. Pre-1917 ethnographers considered them a group closely related to but distinct from the Udmurts; and in 1926, 10,000 people declared themselves to be Besermans. They then were forcibly included within the Udmurts and disappeared as a nation, only to reemerge in 1992. They likely will be allotted a separate reporting line in the 2020 census. The Siberian Tatars. For most of the Soviet period, the Siberian Tatars were grouped under the Tatars of the Middle Volga for census purposes because it was thought they spoke the same language, but until 1968, Tatar-language schools in Siberia used Siberian Tatar rather than Kazan Tatar as the language of instruction. The Shapsugs. The Soviets initially recognized the Shapsugs, one of the Circassian groups, as a separate nation, even forming a Shapsug national district after 1945 near Tuaps. That was then suppressed as were the Shapsugs as a separate nation. In 1992, Moscow acknowledged that the Shapsugs had the right to both an identity and a national district, but neither has received much official support since that time. All of these peoples are located within the current borders of the Russian Federation. But Butakov also discusses the Talysh. In 1926, 77,300 people declared themselves to be members of this Persian-language group in the southeastern portion of Azerbaijan. In 1939, 88,000 did so; but by 1959, that number had fallen to 159; and since then, they have not been listed separately. The reason is not complete assimilation but rather a decision by the Baku authorities not to count people as Ingush regardless of what they declare themselves to be, despite the official Azerbaijani position that they have the right to autonomy. These examples are sufficient to draw three important conclusions: official policy more than natural processes drive the numbers of most small groups as far as the census is concerned, language remains more important than identity even in post-Soviet enumerations, and disappearing from the census does not mean disappearing as an important identity. Consequently, the struggle over who is counted and who is not will continue, with many viewing a separate line on the census as their last line of defense or as their first victory in recovering their identity as a separate people.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Oligarchs Not about Business — They’re about Power, Pozharsky Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 22 – Oligarchs are not just wealthy Russians: they are people who have a very different relationship with the powers that be in Putin’s Russia than do wealthy Americans with the US government even now, Mikhail Pozharsky says. Unlike rich Americans, they view poorer Russians as inferior beings whom the regime can be counted on to punish. That becomes obvious if one compares the situation Donald Trump found himself in with the porno actress Stormy Daniels and the actress Karen McDougal and how he reacted, attempting to buy their silence with large amounts of money, something that didn’t save him from scandal, the Russian blogger says (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5C45E3BC143D8). What is important here, Pozharsky continues, is that there was no great social chasm between Trump and these women: “he views them as subjects with which he has to make a deal.” A Russian oligarch can be caught in a similar position, but his reaction will be entirely different. If he gets in trouble in this way, the blogger says, he will not treat the women as people with rights equal to his own with whom he must come to an agreement but rather consider ways he can get the powers that be to act to “put her in her place.” That is what oligarch Oleg Deripaska has done with Nastya Rybka. When she returned to Moscow after ten months in a Thai prison, she was met at the airport by a crowd of police who immediately incarcerated her because her behavior had offended the oligarch and the state was ready to do his bidding. She was after all merely “’a Belarusian mouse.’” “This is a clear illustration of how an oligarch is distinguished from a businessman and how Russia is from the US,” Pozharsky continues. “Donald Trump, even if he wanted to, couldn’t telephone the head of the FBI with a personal request to arrest Stormy Daniels for illegal involvement in pornography.” Despite the differences in their wealth, Trump and Daniels remain citizens with equal rights before the law, the blogger suggests. But “it didn’t come into Deripaska’s head that Rybka also is a person with whom one must agree, because an oligarch is not about business: an oligarch is about power.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Selective’ Acts Against Corrupt Officials Only Increase Russians’ Hatred of Officials, Solovey Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 31 – The Kremlin is clearly operating on the assumption that its arrest of some high-profile officials and politicians for corruption will win it favor with the population, but that assumption is not justified, Valery Solovey says. Instead, the selectiveness is obvious to all; and the arrests are only adding “fuel to the fire” of popular hatred of officialdom. While Solovey does not address what the Kremlin might do with respect to such charges in order to achieve the desired effect in his blog post (echo.msk.ru/blog/vsolovej/2361943-echo/), there are two obvious possibilities, one that would be desirable but seems unlikely and a second that seems more likely but potentially dangerous. On the one hand, the Kremlin could decide to make a turn to a genuine rule of law in which prosecutors are allowed to bring charges on the basis of the evidence rather than telephone calls from the Presidential Administration. But that would be entirely out of character for Putin and would risk bringing charges against some of his most important supporters. And on the other hand, Putin could decide to move in the opposite direction, to bring more charges – there are plenty of officials against whom they could be brought – although that would simultaneously highlight for the public just how corrupt his kleptocracy is and generate new fears and possible opposition by elites. Consequently, Putin appears most likely to continue to use the same tactic even though it is bringing ever fewer political rewards, acting less because this is his preference than because the other choices either violate his values or carry risks to his position that the Kremlin leader will do anything to avoid.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Tatars Must Wake Up or Face a Future without a Republic, without a Language, and without a Nation, Bayramova Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 31 – Fausiya Bayramova, the founder of the Ittifaq National Independence Party, says that she decided to take part in the discussion of the draft Strategy for the Development of the Tatar People because its provisions make it clear that Tatars must act now or face a future without a republic, without a language and without a nation. In putting out the strategy for public discussion, she says, the authorities implicitly recognized that things have reached the point that Moscow is moving to destroy the national republics and Tatarstan in particular and have decided to provide a kind of “re-insurance” for themselves (idelreal.org/a/29736438.html). Bayramova says she is doing the same thing, using this “last chance to awaken the people. “You will disappear from history,” she warns. “Come together! Everything now depends on you – not on the Strategy, not on Minnikhanov, not on Bayramova, and not on Putin. It depends on you.” According to her, “if the people want to remain Tatar and Muslim, no one will defeat it. Right now, however, there is such apathy and a sense of being at a dead end among the people. One must awaken faith in itself. Now is the 21st century: we are not starving, there is no war, and there is no famine.” The powers that be in Kazan are also preparing the Tatars for next year “when Tatarstan already will hardly exist. They know this,” she continues, “but they do not say it. In the outline of the Strategy, there are words like ‘adapt’ and ‘mobilize,’ but mobilize for what? And adapt to what conditions – those in which there will not be a Tatarstan?” Two hours of Tatar a week in the schools is “temporary,” Bayramova says; Moscow wants to eliminate even that. “If private schools and higher educational institutions existed, if our millionaires would bring their money back from America, then we could catch up.” But the most important thing is for the people to wake up and believe in themselves. The strategy document doesn’t talk about federalism or republic sovereignty. Instead, it is designed to prepare people from the disappearance of Tatarstan next year. There are no words in it about politics or about geopolitics, even though changes in the latter mean that Tatars have to be ready for almost anything. A major reason that Moscow wants to do away with Tatarstan is that if it does, then there won’t be the issue of doing away with the presidency of the republic. If there is no republic, Bayramova says, there can’t be any talk of a presidency. The strategy document is directed at Tatars of the entire world, but Bayramova says that she is convinced that “the Tatar nation can be preserved only in the Idel-Ural regions. Here millions of Tatars live in compact settlements, they speak and write in Tatar, there are Tatar schools, writers and an intelligentsia. Beyond the Urals, none of these things exist.” “There, there are Tatars,” she says, “but there is no nation.” Those are two different things, she insists. A nation has to have state institutions of various kinds; people who identify with that ethnicity can potentially live anywhere. They may look to Kazan but they are not really part of the Tatar nation. In other remarks, she says that there are three basic shortcomings of the Strategy: “the absence of the idea of the statehood of the Tatar people, the weak development of the issue of religion, and insufficient attention to the national spirit. She also called for teaching Arabic and shifting to the Latin script which the entire world relies on. Bayramova concludes that she cannot struggle on two fronts at once: “I fought against the empire which oppressed my people and language. I fought with the local nomenklatura which sold our sovereignty. I cannot fight against this Strategy: I will fight for my people. I don’t have the strength to fight on two fronts at once.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Decline in Putin’s Ratings Matters Far Less than Fall in Support for United Russia, Nezavisimaya Gazeta Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 25 – The decline in support for Vladimir Putin has attracted far more attention than the sharper fall in backing for the pro-Kremlin United Russia, but that is a mistake, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say, because few Russians think they’ll be voting for Putin soon if at all while all know there’ll be elections in which they can vote against United Russia. And that in turn means, the editors say, the Kremlin needs to decide how or if it wants to save United Russia, whose “victories” many will assume were possible only by the application of administrative measures or whose losses will confront the center with problems in 2019 and even more in the Duma vote in 2021 (ng.ru/editorial/2019-01-24/2_7491_red.html). It should be obvious to everyone, the lead article continues, that it doesn’t make any difference whether a governor is from the United Russia Party or from one of the three other systemic parties, the KPRF, the LDPR or Just Russia. Anyone elected as a candidate of the latter quickly becomes part of the system. That means at least two things. On the one hand, the Kremlin can pick and choose whom to support on the basis of who is likely to win, confident that it can control the behavior of the individual chosen. And on the other, the center can leave the issue of regional or local parliamentary elections to local party cells rather than trying to control everything. Most of the problems in the regions arise not because of the Kremlin’s actions but because “of the domination in the federal subjects or one or another groups who do not want to give up their monopoly on power.” Thus, it is not to be excluded that Moscow’s introduction of outsiders is “an attempt to change that situation.” The Kremlin will achieve far more, the editors suggest, if it chooses its fights carefully rather than assumes that it has to ensure United Russia wins in every case. Indeed, tying itself too closely to a party that has become the target of anger among opposition groups and the population is an almost certain way to lose. The mayoral and gubernatorial elections this year won’t matter that much, Nezavisimaya gazeta suggests, but they will set the stage for the vastly more important Duma contests in 2021, an election that the Kremlin will have little choice but to listen to unless it intends to dispense with voting altogether, a high risk strategy few now think possible.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: One in Seven Russians Involved with Country’s Prisons, ‘a State within a State’
Paul Goble Staunton, January 24 – Twenty million Russians, roughly one in every seven, are involved with the country’s prisons either as inmates or as part of the criminal justice system writ large. Indeed, it is now such a large entity, a new study says, that like Stalin’s GULAG, it is becoming “a state within a state.” Two years ago, Olga and Vyacheslav Kiyutsin prepared a study on the prison system for St. Petersburg’s Institute for Problems of Contemporary Society in the hopes of sparking a public discussion of an institution this large; but, Viktor Bulavintsev says, the problem is so large and complicated that they failed in that regard (forum-msk.org/material/news/15360374.html). One way or another, the Kiyutsins say, the Russian penal system extends beyond the Federal Penal Service to include various ministries and administrations in the government and “no fewer than 20 million people including those being arrested and those condemned, those freed conditionally … their relatives and friends,” and many others. It is so diverse that it is almost impossible to manage, and the federal system doesn’t rehabilitate people as intended but breeds ever more criminals as people pass through it, the investigators continue. Its educational system is large but ineffective. The system is expensive but most of the money goes to prison staff of all kinds rather than to the benefit of prisoners. Mortality and morbidity among prisoners remain high, despite there being 29,000 doctors in the prison system, and these are below all-Russian figures only because the average age of inmates is lower than the average age of men in the population. And violence among inmates and between inmates and guards is increasing with each passing year. But the greatest indictment of the system is the increasing rates of recidivism. Between 2005 and 2015, the share of Russians convicted after being released rose from 28 percent of all judgments to 45 percent. As a result, more than a quarter of all those behind bars are repeat offenders, and another 199,000 have more than two judgments against them. The federal penal administration in recent years has equated effectiveness with autonomy; that is, it has sought “a dictatorship of administration” over all branches of the criminal process rather than showing improvements in any of the sectors. It has achieved dictatorial powers, the researchers say; but it has not met its stated goals. According to the Kiyutsins, “the penal system of Rsusia needs to be radically reformed in the coming years. Above all,” they say, “by giving it a new conception, making the system not about punishment but about correction, and increasing the practice of punishments that do not require putting people behind bars.” To those ends, they continue, the various functions in the prison system need to be divided up among the relevant ministries rather than having everything concentrated in one agency. Unless that happens, inefficiencies and corruption will continue to flourish. To start with, isolators in which those being investigated must become part of the interior ministry rather than the Federal Penitentiary Service. Otherwise, the researchers conclude, “the Federal Penitentiary Service will finally become ‘a state within a state,’ having its own powerful armed structure with its own fortress-like institutions throughout the country and with hundreds of thousands of condemned who are absolutely under its control.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Rapid Population Growth Brought Down Russian Empire, Statistics Suggest
Paul Goble Staunton, January 25 – At a time when Russians are focusing on their demographic decline, one Russian commentator has recalled that rapid population growth in Russia in the past helped to destroy the Russian Empire because, in the words of Stanislav Vorobyev, this was an opponent against which there was no effective weapon that could be deployed. Between 1897 and 1913, the population of the Russian Empire grew by 33 percent, far outstripping emigration, new land, or productivity and driving down the average age to under 19, with two-thirds of the population being younger 30, with most of these rural and with little education, the Svobodnaya pressa writer says (svpressa.ru/blogs/article/222351/). That created a favorable seedbed for the growing of radical trends, a situation that was radicalized by Russia’s involvement in World War I, in which the Russian Army mobilized almost 15.5 million people. As a result, “semi-literate rural youth received a coat, a gun and a primary agitation which allowed it to reach agitation leaflets.” “After that,” Vorobyev says, “everything was only a question of technique.” Given this demographic explosion, the only policies that made sense were to resettle people in the borderlands, expand the industrialization of the country and increase labor productivity both in agriculture and in industry. But those things required some years of peace, and World War I blocked them. As a result, the commentator says, that war and the civil war that followed meant that Russia’s “’human capital’ was spent in the most insane way.” Vorobyev’s argument is important in terms of the end of the Russian Empire, but it is even more important now to provide context for the debates about what the Russian Federation must do to cope with population decline. That is because it is a reminder that population growth, especially rapid growth, can be a problem too and not the simple salvation many believe. Indeed, when a country’s population is growing more slowly or not at all, that reduces many of the pressures on society and the political system that may otherwise be too great for the system to cope with, outcomes that radical pro-natalist advocates all too often ignore or forget.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Journalism No Longer of Interest to Either the Authorities or Society, Gulbinsky Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 23 – Two observations, one by CPSU leader Yury Andropov and a second by dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, are essential to the understanding of the trajectory of journalism in Russia over the last 50 years and of why today Russian journalism is no longer of interest to either the authorities or society, Nikolay Gulbinsky says. Andropov famously said that “we do not know the society in which we live,” a reflection of the fact that the Soviet media did not report accurately or honestly about the most important problems of the country. And Solzhenitsyn almost as famously declared “a single word of truth can overturn the whole world,” an expression of faith that a free media will create a free society. In fact, the Russian publicist says, the Soviet media did contain within certain limits good journalism that had an effect on society and the government, and the rise of media freedom did for a time promote a freer society but that that rise faltered because after glasnost media did not have the impact on the government it briefly did (ng.ru/stsenarii/2019-01-21/9_7487_job.html). One cannot say that “journalism didn’t exist at all in Soviet times,” Gulbinsky says. “It did and in a number of cases, it was quite influential. Journalists were allowed to uncover ‘individual shortcomings,’ and these un-maskings as a rule entailed real consequences.” But “and this is the main thing — Soviet journalists couldn’t openly criticize” the most important issues. That had an unintended and unwanted consequence: “even those who because of their positions created the official ideology ceased to believe in it.” A Soviet Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep in 1985 and awoke now, would think that “journalism in Russia has achieved an unprecedented flowering.” Journalists can no criticize everything and they do. He would not see, however, that “political journalism as a socially significant profession has died in Russia.” There are several reasons for this, Gulbinsky says. First, after Gorbachev, while criticism flourished, the consequences of journalism became far more limited. If the media reported something was wrong, the authorities and after them the population generally ignore such criticism and ultimately came to ignore the critics. Second, journalists sold out. Big business and the government invested enormous sums to ensure that their messages went out and that those of others did not. Russians recognized this and so came to view journalism not as a source of information but as a public relations exercise they could and should ignore. And third, the whole notion of post-truth infected not only consumers of journalism but the producers of it, leading the former to dismiss what journalists are telling them much of the time and many of the latter to be indifferent to what they are doing and shamelessly pushing claims that they themselves know not to be true. There was one brief shining moment when Russian journalism had its day, when journalists did good work and when the authorities responded to their reports. That was between 1985 and 1988; but it did not last. As a result, while many could learn about their country from the media, they choose not to because amidst the cacophony, the task is harder. And so both the powers that be and the rising generation are tuning out, Gulbinsky says; and Russian journalism in which so many once placed so many hopes is dying, thus depriving both of what is needed to overcome the current stagnation and put the country on track for stable development.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Someone is Killing the Mediums of Russia, and Milonov Wants a Witch Hunt
Paul Goble Staunton, January 27 – “Battle of the Extra-Sensory Experts” is one of the most popular TV shows in Russia; but recently, some who’ve been on the show as parapsychologists or magicians have wound up dead. The Russian response? Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov wants to ban such people from treating others, but experts say that is a fool’s errand and would not work. Parapsychologist Inessa Aliyeva says that the deaths are unfortunate, but all people die and that these have nothing to do with black magic or because those who have been killed are engaged in fraudulent activities that have prompted some to take revenge. Instead, each case needs to be examined on its own (svpressa.ru/society/article/222867/). But in a country where the first impulse of legislators is that if there is a problem or something they can exploit to attract attention, there needs to be a law, Vitaly Milonov who has proposed some of the most absurd now wants to ban magicians, witches and parapsychologists from treating people for illnesses physical or mental. Unlike other medical workers, Milonov continues, “magicians and witches always guarantee results” but do not take responsibility when no results are forthcoming. The field exists in “a legal vacuum,” and according to the deputy, those involved in extra-sensory activities are like prostitutes who undermine public order. Tamara Kutsenko, a lawyer, says that such a law “has no sense because those involved are not violating existing laws.” People have a constitutional right to seek cures where they want, and “it is naïve to assume” that if the government bans practices that people have long turned do, they will disappear. Such laws haven’t worked in Europe and won’t work in Russia. Aliyeva acknowledges that in the extrasensory field, there are charlatans; but she says that they are easy to distinguish from genuine people. The charlatans do not have special training – most ESP professionals have advanced degrees in medicine or psychology – and they care only about money. She and others in the field say that charlatans should be punished. Existing laws allow for that. But what is important, she suggests, is that good, honest and effective workers in this field not be subject to “a witch hunt” conducted by those who do not understand the situation but only want to attract attention.
Telling the truth about Stalin and the Great Terror gets historians arrested in Russia – Human Rights in Ukraine
Although Yuri Dmitriev and Sergei Koltyrin are purportedly facing ‘non-political’ charges, it was no accident that, after Koltyrin’s arrest, a public discussion on the subject both men were involved in, was cancelled. Documenting the crimes and the perpetrators of Stalin’s Terror has become dangerous in Putin’s Russia . –
Bomb Threats Trigger Mass Evacuations In Siberia
Multiple bomb threats have prompted the evacuation of thousands of people from administrative buildings, hospitals, and schools across Siberia, local media reports say.
Deathbed Visit: Daughter Of Detained Russian Activist Dies With Mom At Her Side
A 17-year-old Russian teenager died shortly after the country’s authorities finally allowed her mother, a detained activist affiliated with the Open Russia civil society group, to visit her in the …
No, Russia is not decriminalizing bribery — Meduza
This is how Russian- and English-language headlines have been covering a new proposal from the Russian Justice Ministry that would regulate when citizens would be held responsible for corruption-related violations. News reports have paid particular attention to a line in the bill that says it may be impossible to avoid certain instances of corruption “due to circumstances of insurmountable force.”
UAWire – French ambassador: number of Russians requesting visas has grown by 40%
During the reception of the diplomatic mission in Moscow , French ambassador to Russia Sylvie Bermann stated that demand among Russian tourists …
Navalny foundation’s office manager says police tried to recruit her as a mole, offering to pay for her mother’s cancer treatment — Meduza
In a new video published on Alexey Navalny’s YouTube channel, an office manager for the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) named Olga Bulaeva recalls how the Russian police recently tried to recruit her to work against Navalny, offering to help pay for her mother’s cancer treatment.
U.S. Lifts Sanctions On Rusal, Other Firms With Links To Deripaska
The U.S. Treasury Department says sanctions imposed on three companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska have been lifted.
Member of Group That Organized 1991 Coup Attempt In Moscow Dies
A member of so-called Gang of Eight that tried to take over the collapsing Soviet Union in 1991 has died in the city of Yekaterinburg.
Construction supervisor who helped build Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome reportedly found dead with self-inflicted gunshot wound — Meduza
One of the key figures involved in supervising the construction of Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome spaceport has shot and killed himself, according to the news agency RIA Novosti. Dmitry Savin, the former head of the state company “Dalspetsstroy,” was reportedly discovered at his home in Moscow’s Vykhino-Zhulebino District late on January 27 with a self-inflicted head wound from a handgun registered in his name, according to the news agency Moskva.
Eastern Europe, Central Asia Failing To Make Progress In Corruption, Says Watchdog
More than two-thirds of the 180 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 scored below 50 on its 0-100 scale.
Russian Mega-Dump Prompts Angry Protests
Plans to create a mega landfill site a thousand kilometers from Moscow might relieve the Russian capital’s garbage burden, but local people have staged angry protests.
The Art Of The Steal: Suspect Detained After Brazen Moscow Gallery Heist
Russian police have detained a 31-year-old man after a painting was stolen from a Moscow gallery in broad daylight.
Russia Moves to Decriminalize ‘Unavoidable’ Bribes, Following Putin’s Proposal – To Inform is to Influence
Corruption comes in many forms, but legalizing bribery is just plain wrong. Bribery is, perhaps, the most basic component of corruption. But that is what Russia is proposing. The decriminalization of bribery. The “exceptional circumstance” in which they intend to grant this right is most likely tied to the politics of the briber and/or the person being bribed. Russia is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Now it is officially embracing its Kleptocratic ways. </end editorial>
Russian Trial Of Danish Jehovah’s Witness Draws To A Close
A verdict is expected soon in the trial of a Danish member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a U.S.-based religious denomination that Russia has branded extremist and outlawed.
Russian Justice Ministry To Decriminalize ‘Unavoidable’ Bribes
Russia’s Justice Ministry has proposed a bill decriminalizing bribery and other corruption acts committed under “exceptional circumstances.”
Navalny Office Manager Claims Russian Security Officer Tried To Recruit Her
Olga Bulayeva, an office manager at the Anti-Corruption Foundation, alleges that a member of the Russian secret services threatened her with repercussions if she didn’t cooperate in leaking comprom…
Moscow Doctors Say Ambulance Crews Told To Reduce Hospitalizations, City Denies It
Moscow emergency medical responders have received unofficial orders to transport fewer patients to the hospital, an ambulance station chief and a paramedic told RFE/RL.
A Nurse In Rural Russia Walks To Work — 12 Kilometers Each Way
Nurse Sagilya Nigmatullina walks 48 kilometers a week so that she can tend to patients in the remote village of Pervomayka, in the Russian region of Chelyabinsk. She earns just $150 a month but says the walk is good for her and that she’s never thought of quitting.
Russian Investigators Look Into Kyrgyz Man’s Magnitogorsk Torture Claim
Russian investigators say they are examining allegations that law enforcement officers tortured a Kyrgyz citizen who was detained in the wake of an explosion that brought down part of an apartment …
Following apartment explosion in Magnitogorsk that definitely wasn’t terrorism, local police are rounding up and maybe torturing Central Asian migrant workers — Meduza
Police officers in Magnitogorsk reportedly arrested a Kyrgyzstani citizen earlier this month and tortured him in jail, according to Radio Liberty’s Kyrgyz service. Khusnidin Zainabidinov’s wife says her husband is suspected of involvement in an explosion that destroyed a local apartment building and killed dozens of people. Russian officials have insisted that they believe the blast was caused by a gas leak, repeatedly denying rumors that it was an act of terrorism, but Zainabidinov apparently told his wife that police showed him photographs of several bearded men and asked him what he knows about them.
Russian Lawmaker Arrested During Parliament Session In Murder Probe
A Russian lawmaker has been detained during a parliament session on suspicion of involvement in two high-profile killings in the North Caucasus region of Karachai-Cherkessia.
After dramatic closed session, federal agents arrest Russian senator on Senate floor — Meduza
On Wednesday, Rauf Arashukov was arrested on the Senate floor of the Federation Council. On the morning of January 30, the parliament’s upper chamber was unexpectedly closed to the public, and Federal Protective Service officers sealed the assembly hall’s entrances and exits. Attorney General Yuri Chaika then addressed the senators. Federal Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin and his deputy director were also in the audience, a source told Interfax. During Chaika’s speech, Arashukov tried to leave the room, but Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko insisted that he stay, according to the news agency TASS. Arashukov’s colleagues then voted to strip him of his legal immunity as a senator and sanctioned his arrest by federal agents. Afterwards, the ruling political party United Russia suspended his membership, pending the results of an investigation.
Russian authorities arrest lawmaker in connection with 2 contract killings | Fox News
Russian law enforcement authorities arrested a lawmaker, Senator Rauf Arashukov, Wednesday in the midst of a parliamentary session in connection with two contract murders.
Moscow Court Orders Detention Of Father Of Ruling-Party Lawmaker
A Moscow district court has ordered the detention of the father of a ruling-party lawmaker who is being held on murder charges by authorities who suspect he was behind two contract killings in the …
Kyrgyz Migrant Arrested By Magnitogorsk Police Says He Was Tortured
A Kyrgyz national living in Russia told his wife that he is suspected of involvement in deadly apartment block blast, subjected to electric shocks, and asked to identify “bearded men.”
Uzbek Migrant Appeals To President After Brother’s Tragic Death 
An Uzbek migrant has issued an unusual appeal to Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev while driving around the Russian capital with the body of his deceased brother in a wooden crate.
Tajik Man Injured In Russian Building Collapse On New Year’s Eve Released From Hospital
A Tajik man who was severely injured in the partial collapse of an apartment building in Russia’s Urals city of Magnitogorsk on New Year’s Eve has been released from hospital.
One Dead, 11 Hospitalized In Cafe Explosions In Russia’s Saratov Oblast
At least one person has been killed and 11 were hospitalized after two explosions at a cafe in Russia’s Saratov Oblast, local media report.
Soyuz Rocket ‘Anomaly’ To Delay U.S. Satellite Launch
The launch of a Russian Soyuz rocket set to carry satellites into space for a U.S startup has been delayed after an “anomaly” was discovered on the spacecraft, the company says.
Russia Ordered To Pay $11.5 Million Over 2006 Expulsion Of Georgians
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered the Russian state to pay Georgia 10 million euros ($11.5 million) over the mass deportation of Georgian citizens from Russ…
What Makes Moscow’s Sidewalks So Crooked?
Muscovites are getting angry about their new sidewalks. Much of the city center’s walkways are being renewed, but the stone tiling has already become badly uneven in many areas. Residents and officials disagree on whether it’s poor construction, the tiles used, the weather, or corruption.
When The Big Mac Came To Moscow
When the fast-food chain first opened in Russia on January 31, 1990, it was hailed as a sign of thawing Cold War relations and crowds of Muscovites flocked to taste their first Big Mac.
The Art Of The Steal: Suspect Detained, Painting Recovered After Broad-Daylight Moscow Theft
A suspect has been detained in the theft of a 20th-century painting by a Russian artist from Moscow’s state-run Tretyakov Gallery and the artwork has been recovered, officials say.
Russian Kindergarten Teacher Tied Children Up, Taped Mouths Shut, Parent Claims
Russian investigators are looking into allegations that a kindergarten teacher in Siberia tied children up and taped their mouths shut.
Almost 180 Russian Athletes Apply For Neutral Status
Russia’s track-and-field federation, RUSAF, has received 177 applications from its athletes bidding to compete as neutrals in international competitions this year, Russian news agencies report.
Russian Woman Whose Passport Made Her The Oldest Person Ever Is Dead
A woman whose identification document says she was born in 1889 has died in Russia’s Chechnya region, state media reports say.
Man Who Chopped Up Classmate, Drank His Blood Found Posing As Doctor In Russia
A man found guilty in Russia 20 years ago of chopping up a classmate and drinking his blood was recently found to be posing as a doctor at a medical clinic in the city of Chelyabinsk.
Salmon Bellies & Grape Juice: U.S. Man Deported By Russia After Washing Ashore In Small Dinghy
A 47-year-old U.S. man who attempted to sail from Alaska to China in an small dinghy with scant provisions has been deported by authorities in Russia’s Far East, where he washed ashore five months ago.

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports

 


 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Push to Rename Kazakhstan Kazakh Republic Sparks Intense Debate, Highlights Problem in Russia as Well
Paul Goble Staunton, January 25 – A call by Kazakh deputy Azat Peruashev to change the name of his country from Kazakhstan back to the Kazakh Republic not only has sparked debate about ethnicity and national identity there but highlights the problems inherent in Moscow’s efforts to introduce a civic national identity as the primary one in the Russian Federation. Peruashev, leader of the Ak Zhol parliamentary party, bases his argument on the fact that 2020 will be the centenary of the formation of the Kazakh Republic during the Russian Civil War and urges that the prime minister restore this historic name in place of Kazakhstan (forbes.kz/life/opinion/kazahstan_ili_kazahskaya_respublika_kak_smena_imeni_mojet_izmenit_sudbu/). Renaming streets, towns and even major cities and regions in Kazakhstan has been accelerating in the last few years; and consequently, it is no surprise that someone would push for restoring the older name of the republic. But Daniyar Ashimbayev, a Kazakh political scientist, suggests there are real risks in doing so. Those risks would arise because as a result “the people of Kazakhstan would be renamed the Kazakh people, thus unifying national and state identity.” But it is far from clear that the quarter of the population which is not ethnically Kazakh would be pleased – and that could spark ethnic conflicts and additional ethnic outmigration. Another Kazakh political scientist, Talgat Isamgambetov observes that any decision about renaming the country is beyond the competence of the prime minister. It would require a change in the constitution, discussion in parliament, and a decision by the president. In his view, Peruashev is simply testing the waters for all that by his proposal. “This discussion,” Isamgambetov continues, is about “who is the Kazakh nation?” The first draft of the current constitution called itself “the Constitution of the Kazakh Republic.’ But disagreements arose, and the final draft, which the people voted for in the referendum on August 30, 2995, called itself ‘the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan.’” The fact that the debate is continuing now, 24 years later, he says, suggests that “something in our history contradicts the adoption of this decision.” A name change by itself might not mean a lot, Isamgambetov argues. Kyrgyzstan has become the Kyrgyz Republic and that has not had the negative consequences many predicted, but perhaps only because Russian has remained an official language and because the attitudes of the Kyrgyz and the others in Kyrgyzstan are different than in Kazakhstan. The other ethnic groups in Kazakhstan, the political analyst says, “are not burning with a desire to be part of the Kazakh nation, and the striving of national patriots of the second wave (since 2005) to call all some citizens of the Kazakh nation and others diasporas has also generated a negative reaction.” A third Kazakh political scientist, Aydos Sarym, supports the proposal to rename the country. The reason is simple: there is no such nation as the Kazakhstantsy. “’A stan’ is not a nation;” and that ending comes from the Persian rather than the Turkic roots of the country as currently constituted. The reason for making this change now is obvious: the country has changed radically in demographic terms: in 1989, only 39 percent of its residents were Kazakhs. Now, approximately 70 percent are. “Kazakhstan is becoming ever more a Turkic-Muslim state” – and that requires the restoration of the old name. The current effort to rename the country has its roots in Nursultan Nazarbayev’s suggestion in 2016 that Kazakhs needed to escape from the opprobrium that sometimes comes from their being lumped together with “the stans” of Central Asia. That sparked a great deal of discussion but no decision. Now, things may be different, although Russian commentators like Eduard Poletayev of the Eurasian World Foundation, continue to argue that there is no agreement on how residents of Kazakhstan, and especially non-Kazakhs should identify themselves, as Kazakhstantsy or as Kazakhs. The one is a political term; the second is loaded with ethnic content. And as such the debate in Kazakhstan is both an echo of the civic versus ethnic Russian debate in the Russian Federation – and even a kind of distant mirror that will allow participants in the debate there to see themselves and their opponents in new ways.

Belarus Reports

 


 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Any Moscow Attempt to Annex Belarus by Force will Be the Beginning of the End of Russia, Severinets Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 30 – Pavel Severinets, a Belarusian Christian Democrat who plans to run for president, says that “the day when Moscow decided to use force to transform Belarus into part of the empire will be the beginning of the end of the empire.” Any attempt to repeat the Crimea or Donbass in Belarus will lead Russia to fall apart. The threat that Moscow will try, he continues, is “great;” but the Russian regime may ultimately be dissuaded not only by the resistance it would face in Belarus and the opposition of the international community but by the negative consequences such a step would have within Russia (nn.by/?c=ar&i=224161&lang=ru and region.expert/severinets/). “From the times of the Grand Principality of Lithuania,” Severinets says, “the mystery of the life and death of the Russian Empire has pulsated here: the first congress of the RSDRP was in Minsk, the tsarist headquarters in the First World War were in Mohylev, and Beloveshchaya pushcha became he turning point” in the struggle to disband the USSR. For 500 years, Moscow been trying to swallow up Belarus but has failed and will fail again, he argues. Moscow can send MIGs, but we can send books because we rely on our history and our culture which are quite different from those of the empire and its rulers. “We pray ad will do what we can that they will not ever succeed.” Some Belarusians believe that Alyaksandr Lukashenka has become a believer in independence. But for 25 years, he has been “a guarantor [only] of his personal power … People will not defend a state that oppresses them. You want Belarusians to support you? Give them back freedom, repent, release political prisoners and the unjustly condemned, raise the white-red-white flag, and hold free elections.” “If Lukashenka won’t do that,” Severinets says, “he will have signed his own death warrant and history will anything but merciful to him.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin May Be Saving Lukashenka by Allowing Belarusian Leader to Wrap Himself in the Flag
Paul Goble Staunton, January 23 – There are many ironies in the relationship between Vladimir Putin and Alyaksandr Lukashenka but perhaps the greatest is this: By his attacks on Belarus, the Russian leader has given the Belarusian one the chance to reclaim the independence them from the opposition and present himself as the only guarantee of that country’s survival. “The authorities are seeking to unite the population around the idea that President A. Lukashenka is the only guarantor of Belarusian independence,” the Belarus in Focus review says, thus using Russian demands for greater unity between the two countries as a means to keep himself in power (belarusinfocus.info/by/kiruyuchy-klas/glava-gosudarstva-perehvatyvaet-temu-nezavisimosti-u-oppozicii-ukreplyaet-mestnuyu). “The growth in tensions with the Kremlin are allowing the head of state partially to soften the criticism and activity of the opposition, especially the national democrats,” according to the experts Belarus in Focus surveyed. “This is already having a response among parties,” forcing them to unintentionally support Lukashenka’s position. That in turn can “help the Belarusian leadership assume the dominant positions on the issue of independence in social networks where opposition figures had begun to occupy leading positions with their social-economic themes. It will thus be easier for the powers to justify tougher action against the opposition and independent media in the pre-election period.” In brief, Putin’s campaign against Lukashenka will not only help Lukashenka retain power but make his regime even more authoritarian than it was before, something that will limit Lukashenka’s ability to appeal to the West and thus in another irony make him more dependent on Russia than he was before.
Belarus expects to receive first Su-30SM fighters this year – Defence Blog
Belarus will receive the first four of 12 Sukhoi Su-30SM multirole fighter aircraft from Russia later this year, the Russian news agency Interfax reported. On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant said that the Armed Forces of Belarus were preparing to receive the first batch of Su-30SM fighter aircraft in 2019. The media outlet quoted country’s Ministry of Defense as saying that Belarus expected to receive 12 two-seat fighters from Russia equipped with phased-array radar, frontal horizontal fins and steerable thrusters for supermaneuverability as well as with wide-angle HUD. In 2018, the Minister of Defense of Belarus Andrei Ravkov said that Russia, due to the international sanctions on equipment and board electronics for aircraft, is still unable to deliver Su-30SM fighter jets to the republic – deliveries can be made in 2019. Su-30SM is an advanced two-seat supermaneuverable fighter aircraft developed by Russia’s Sukhoi Aviation Corporation and produced by the Irkut Corporation. It is capable of employing advanced high-precision air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry. Also, the aircraft may be used for training pilots of advanced multirole super-maneuverable single-seat fighters. The Su-30SM multirole fighter is the further development of the Su-30MK combat aircraft family. The fighter was designed in accordance with the requirements of the Russian Air Force in terms of radar system, radio and recognition system, weapon structure, ejection seats and a number support systems. Deliveries of Su-30SM aircraft to the Aerospace Forces of the Russian Federation are underway since 2012, to the Russian Navy – since 2014, to the Defence Ministry of the Republic of Kazakhstan – since 2015.
Belarusian Opposition Spokesperson Wins Fight Against Expulsion
The press secretary of a Belarusian opposition party who was facing expulsion back to Russia in part over an unpaid mass transit ride has been allowed to stay.
The Escort And The Oligarch: ‘Nastya Rybka’ Goes From Accusation To Apology
A 28-year-old Belarusian escort who said she had evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election appears to have rowed back from her claims, in her first interview since being released from detention in Moscow. Anastasia Vashukevich, also known as Nastya Rybka, gained global notoriety and spent nearly a year in a Thai prison after saying she had recordings of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska discussing the election on his yacht in 2016.
Escort says she made up Trump dirt story to help win release from Thai jail | Fox News
A Belarusian model, who said she had proof that President Trump’s campaign colluded with the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election, has now backtracked and says she made up the claims.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports

 


 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: To Oppose Moldova’s Rapprochement with Romania, Gagauzia Again Ready to Declare Itself a Republic
Paul Goble Staunton, January 29 – In 1990, when some Moldovan politicians sought to unite their territory with Moldova, the Gagauz, a Christian Turkic minority numbering 150,000, sought to declare their independence from Chisinau. They were blocked from doing so by force and ultimately agreed in 1994 to being an autonomy but not a republic. But now, with more Moldovan political parties again talking about a rapprochement with Romania as a means of moving away from Russia and towards Europe, some Gagauz political figures are again talking about the possibility of declaring a republic as a means of blocking such Moldovan plans. Sergey Chimoesh, a deputy in the Gagauz Popular Assembly, says that Moldovan parties are seeking to dictate their will to the Gagauz and draw them into Romania, something the Gagauz do not want, and that the Gagauz must end the activities of such parties on Gagauz soil (ng.ru/cis/2019-01-29/5_7494_collection.html). As a first step, he tells Svetlana Gamova of Moscow’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, Gagauzia must have the right to prevent candidates from these parties for running for election on its territory, an arrangement he says has worked well “in the Alan Islands and in other political autonomous formations in Europe.” That would ensure that the government in Gagauzia would be formed by the Gagauz themselves and that they would thus assume “responsibility for everything which takes place in the autonomy.” Such an arrangement would allow existing Gagauz parties to grow stronger and new ones to emerge. According to Chimpoesh, “Moldovan parties do not simply exert pressure on the [35-member] Popular Assembly; they in fact run the autonomy thereby undercutting the rights of the Gagauz.” Indeed, as a result, they have reduced the autonomy to the point where it is meaningless. The Gagauz issue, of course, is not just between Comrat and Chisinau. It is about relations between Russia and the West. Chimpoesh says that “95 percent of Gagauz look to Russia and five percent to Turkey,” while elsewhere in Moldova, opinion is split evenly between those who look to Russia and those who look to Europe. Whenever Moldovan political parties talk about unity with Romania, the Gagauz speak up either because of their own feelings or at the urging of Moscow as a reminder that they will oppose any such move and could, like Transdniestria, take steps that would make it difficult for Romania and the EU to take Moldova in. That some Gagauz are now talking about moving toward the declaration of an independent republic shows just how great concerns are about Chisinau’s position in both Comrat and Moscow. Indeed, they are a better indication of such worries than of any actual move. One reason to think so is provided by Chimpoesh. According to him, people living in Gagauzia – he doesn’t specify their ethnicity but 82 percent of the region’s population are Gagauz – are “massively” leaving, “in part to Turkey but the majority to Russia,” a step they might not take if they expected to have their own country anytime soon
UAWire – President Dodon: Putin agreed to allow supply of Moldovan goods to Russia through Ukraine
Moldovan President Igor Dodon announced that he had reached an agreement with Russian President Vladimir Putin to supply Moldovan goods to …

Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports

 


 

Russia, Iran-backed factions clash in Syria’s Hama
IDLIB, Syria Recent clashes between two military forces aligned with Syria’s Assad regime have led to the death of at least 70 Syrian troops and numerous injuries, local sources said Wednesday. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Russia-backed Tiger Forces and the Iran-backed Fourth Division had clashed on Tuesday in the village of Al-Rasif in Syria’s Hama province. Despite a truce that was reportedly agreed to last week, the Fourth Division nevertheless managed to wrest Al-Rasif from the Russia-backed group, the sources said, warning that the conflict could spread to the nearby villages of Al-Ramlah and Zawr al-Kabir. “Russia and Iran both want to dominate the region,” Mohamed Rashid, a spokesman for the Gish al-Nasr (a faction of the Free Syrian Army), told Anadolu Agency. “Russia doesn’t want Iran-backed groups deployed along the frontlines with opposition forces,” he said. “Moscow wants to prevent Iran from dominating the [Syrian] army through the use of thousands of foreign terrorists in Syria,” he added. Rashid attributed the ongoing conflict between the two groups to what he described as “financial reasons”. Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected severity.
UAWire – Media: Pro-Iranian troops continue to battle with pro-Russian forces in Syria
Units of the Syrian army loyal to Iran battled with the units loyal to Russia in Hama province, reported the Turkish agency Anadolu, citing well- …
UAWire – Pro-Iranian and pro-Russian forces clash in Syria
The Tiger Forces, an elite formation of the Syrian government army, have clashed with the 4th Armored Division, the Turkish Anadolu Agency reported, citing sources in Syria. According to the news agency, the Tiger Forces are backed by Russia, whereas the tank division, which is commanded by Bashar al-Assad’s brother General Maher al-Assad, is backed by Iran. The encounter reportedly took place in Syria’s Hama province in the north-west of the country. Anadolu did not specify an exact date. Russia is trying to turn the Syrian army into a single structure with strong military leadership, and is betting on Suheil al-Hassan, commander of the Tiger Forces, observes a report by the Turkish Center for Economics and Foreign Policy Stuidies. Al-Hassan is popular among the soldiers and enjoys authority among the Alawi officers (Alawism is the branch of Islam which the al-Assad family adheres to). Aleppo and eastern Ghouta were recaptured by Syrian government forces under al-Hassan’s leadership. Other Syrian commanders, including Maher al-Assad, are opposed to al-Hassan acquiring greater influence, the report notes. “Local sources describe the conflict as an attempt to reduce Iran’s influence in the region,” Anadolu writes, noting that “many were wounded and killed” in the encounter. Der Spiegel also wrote about the conflict on 25 January. The German news magazine has a radio communication recording which is evidence of a conflict between “the Syrian divisions of two of Assad’s primary allies – Russia and Iran”. According to Der Spiegel, the encounter took place on Saturday 19 January and was won by the formation trained by Russian specialists. There is no precise information about the number of casualties, probably because “neither party wants to publicize the battles between the allies,” Der Spiegel observes. After the clash on 19 January, the situation has stabilized somewhat, but the two sides “continue to shoot at each other from time to time”. According to the German magazine, both Moscow and Tehran want to assert control over the Al-Ghab Plain in the northwest of Syria’s Hama province. The valley lies between the “native province of the Assad clan” and Idlib, the last stronghold of the anti-Assad forces.
Pro-Iranian and pro-Russian forces clash in Syria – To Inform is to Influence
Now, it seems, Russia and Syria are showing the depths of their alliance. Or not. Russia is making an effort to exert absolute dominance over Syria, and Iran is in the way. Get out your popcorn, this is going to be interesting. It will also prove informative to any potential Russian allies. Russia will screw anybody… </end editorial>
Marie Colvin targeted and killed by Assad regime, judge rules – CNNPolitics
A US judge has ruled that the Assad regime was responsible for the deliberate and unlawful killing of journalist Marie Colvin in 2012 and ordered it to pay more than $300 million in damages to her family.
U.S. Court Orders Syria To Pay $300 Million For Killing Of Journalist Marie Colvin : NPR
The judge ruled that Colvin was killed by Syria and “targeted because of her profession, for the purpose of silencing those reporting on the growing opposition movement in the country.”


Why existential Iranian threats to Israel matter
Comments by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officers concerning Israel are loaded with vitriol and exaggeration, yet they cannot be ignored.
Iranian commander threatens Israel’s destruction if it attacks: state TV | Reuters
A senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander on Monday threatened Israel with destruction if it attacks Iran, state
Iran warns it will wipe Israel off the map if it attempts to start a war | Daily Mail Online
Brigadier General Hossein Salami issued the warning after Israeli jets killed 11 people in bombing raids against Iranian forces in Syria, amid escalating tensions between the two arch-enemies.
World War 3 FEARS: Iran vows to wipe Israel off map – DEADLY airstrikes MAPPED | World | News | Express.co.uk
World War 3 fears have escalated after Iran warned it will wipe Israel off the map after an Israeli airstrike killed Iranian military positions in Syria last week.
Iran taunts the West with terrifying military drills as commander vows to ‘wipe Israel off the map’
A senior Iranian general has threatened Israel with destruction if it attacks Iran as the country staged military drills.
UAWire – Media: Israel unable to stop Iran’s arms shipments to Syria
Despite all Israel’s attempts to shut down Iran’s supply routes for sending weapons to Syria, Tehran has still been able to arm its proxies with …
UAWire – Russian delegation arrives in Israel to discuss Syrian-Iranian issue
A delegation from Moscow headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Vershinin and Russian President's Special Envoy Alexander Lavrentiev arrived …
UAWire – Hezbollah threatens to invade Galilee if Israel starts new military operation in Lebanon
Fighters of the Shi'ite militia Hezbollah plan to carry out an operation in the north of the Galilee region if Israel starts a new war against  …
Israeli ex-general gains ground after inaugural campaign speech: polls | Reuters
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s toughest rival in Israel’s April election, a popular former general, made strong gains on Wednesday in the first opinion polls released after his inaugural campaign speech.
Tel Aviv Diary: Meet Benny Gantz, the Man With the Best Chance to End Netanyahu’s Decade-long Rule | Opinion
The former chief of staff is trying to tick boxes on both right and left—and could be the candidate who’ll finally unite Israel’s centrist parties.


Europe Is Set to Needle Trump With Iran Trade Promotion Plan – Bloomberg
Three European powers are set to make good on a plan to help companies trade with Iran, defying President Donald Trump with a bid to bypass U.S. sanctions.
Europe Launches Financial Mechanism To Conduct Business In Iran
Germany, France, and Britain have launched a mechanism to allow financial flows to be sent to Iran that would not violate U.S. sanctions in an attempt to keep alive the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
White House Warns Europe Over Trying to Evade Iran Sanctions | Time
The Trump administration is closely eyeing efforts in Europe to set up an alternative money payment channel to ease doing business with Iran
Two bombs explode in southeast Iran, police officers wounded | Reuters
Two bombs exploded on Tuesday in front of a police station in the city of Zahedan in southeastern Iran, local officials told state media, causing minor injuries to three police officers.


Pentagon watchdog warns ISIS could retake Syrian territory in months after US withdrawal: official | Fox News
A forthcoming report from the Pentagon’s inspector general concludes that the ISIS terror group will regain territory it has lost in Syria in a matter of months without military pressure, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News late Thursday.
ISIS could take back Syrian territory in months: report
A draft version of a report from the Pentagon makes the stark warning that ISIS could easily regain control of Syrian territory in a matter of months if US…
The once vast ISIS ‘caliphate’ is now reduced to a pair of villages in Syria – The Washington Post
The territorial defeat of the Islamic State appears imminent as the group makes its last stand in a dot of dusty terrain along the banks of the Euphrates River.
‘Starving’ Isis fighters offer surrender for safe passage | World | The Times
The last remaining Islamic State fighters surrounded by western-backed forces in eastern Syria have offered to surrender in return for safe passage, according to Kurdish spokesmen.Mustafa Bali, of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said the offer had been made through smugglers and escapers from th


U.S. and Taliban Agree in Principle to Peace Framework, Envoy Says – The New York Times
The U.S. negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad, says that finalizing a deal would hinge on a cease-fire and Taliban talks with Afghans, which they are discussing now.
The return of a Taliban government? Afghanistan talks raise once-unthinkable question. – The Washington Post
Afghans wonder what will happen if the Islamist militia comes back to power.
Former US ambassador to Afghanistan calls US framework with Taliban ‘a surrender negotiation’ – CNNPolitics
Former US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker knocked the Trump administration for the framework agreement it announced with the Taliban that could open the door to ending the nearly 20-year long war.
Afghanistan’s Air Force: Soaring Costs, Low Expectations
The Afghan Air Force says its ready to take on more responsibility as the U.S. looks to scale back its military operations in the country. Critics say its small fleet of light helicopters and turboprop planes is ill-prepared to fill the void left if foreign troops and equipment are withdrawn.
Saudi Arabia’s Khalid al-Falih: Russians promised to speed up OPEC cuts
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister is hoping Russia will pull its weight on recently agreed OPEC oil production cuts despite its slow start, expressing confidence on Monday that the world’s second-largest exporter would come through.

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Reports

 



Washington Post: Russia Offered To Build Nuke Plant For North Korea
As part of the deal, The Washington Post reported, Russia would build and operate the plant and transfer waste back to Russia. That would reduce the risk that Pyongyang would use the plant to build…
North Korea reminds citizens watching South Korean TV means death — Quartz
It’s deadly serious.
North Korea Launches Clothing Line That Can Be Eaten to ‘Avoid Starvation’
“Clothing made from artificial flannelette fabrics composed of trace elements such as high-grade protein, amino acids, fruit juice, magnesium, iron and calcium,” read a translated spread from a men’s


US military plane intercepted by Chinese jets, US says – AOL News
Two Chinese aircraft carried out what the U.S. military described as an “unprofessional” intercept while it was flying in international airspace.
Ballistic missile can hit moving ships, China says, but experts remain skeptical – CNN
Chinese state-run media has offered a pointed defense of the capabilities of its so-called “Guam killer” missile, challenging an earlier CNN report that doubted its ability to hit moving ships at sea.
This Picture Is the U.S. Military’s Worst Nightmare Come True | The National Interest
The carrier-killer and the nuclear menace–all in one missile.
Without a clearer ethics policy, the US could lose the military tech battle with China
Nearly three decades after the Cold War ended, a new strategy of containment is underway at the Pentagon. WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — Nearly three decades after the Cold War ended, a new strategy of containment is underway at the Pentagon. Innovation leaders from the Pentagon and Silicon Valley spoke about that strategy to hold back China from military technology domination during a roundtable hosted by Defense News just outside of Simi Valley, California. All participants emphasized the need for thoughtful tactics to lure support from the most advanced minds. “It’s not about us and China. It’s a world order,” said Hawk Carlisle, CEO of the National Defense Industrial Association and a former U.S. Air Force four-star general. “China would like the world order to change to fit their vision of what it should look like, which is authoritarian in many ways.” Unlike the United States, China can — as an authoritarian regime — dictate to the country’s research and development communities as well as industry what will filter into military applications. This civil-military fusion has enabled China to launch a series of what Defense Innovation Unit Managing Director Michael Brown called “so-called Manhattan projects” — 16 of them in all — “where they bring together government, business and academia to focus on making significant progress in a particular technology or industry sector.” “China is already benefiting from the long-term focus on investment. They are planning out 10 and 20 years. We can see exactly their intention,” Brown said. Artificial intelligence, a key area of competition between the U.S. and China, stands as a notable example for what’s at stake: In lieu of restrictions tied to civil liberties and privacy, China can gather a lot more data more quickly, and therefore do more correlation, with few to any limitations.


The Huawei indictment marks the end of US and China’s cycle of trust | Business Insider
And just like that, with its indictment of the Chinese phone maker Huawei, the US entered a new, chilling phase in its cycle of trust with China. There is no knowing where the cycle will take us next, but what is for certain is that there is no going back.
China slams US over ‘unreasonable crackdown’ on Huawei – CNN
China has lashed out against the United States, accusing it of trying to “kill” Chinese businesses after US prosecutors indicted telecom giant Huawei on a slew of charges.
Stocks mixed on fears Huawei case could hinder trade talks
SINGAPORE (AP) — World markets were mixed on Tuesday after the U.S. Justice Department unsealed criminal charges against China’s Huawei, its subsidiaries and a top executive ahead of trade talks in Washington.
The 5G Promise and the Huawei Threat – WSJ
Big Brother is coming to your home via cheap Chinese goods.
US indictment against Huawei shows FBI interviewed founder in 2007, reviewed text from Meng Wanzhou’s electronic device | South China Morning Post
FBI interviewed Huawei’s founder, identified as ‘Individual-1’, in New York in 2007
US Charges China’s Huawei with Bank Fraud, Stealing Trade Secrets | Newsmax.com
US Charges China’s Huawei with Bank Fraud, Stealing Trade Secrets
Huawei Criminal Charges Filed Against Chinese Company By US – Bloomberg
U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest technology company, alleging it stole trade secrets from an American rival and committed bank fraud by violating sanctions against doing business with Iran.
The US just charged Huawei with stealing trade secrets, money laundering, and fraud – MIT Technology Review
The Chinese telecom giant faces yet another severe blow to its reputation with the barrage of indictments the US released today.
Chinese electronics giant Huawei allegedly offered bonuses to any employee who stole trade secrets | Business Insider
The Chinese electronics giant Huawei offered bonuses to its employees for stealing confidential information from outside companies, according to an indictment of the company on fraud charges issued Monday by the US Department of Justice.
Fine, we’ll do it the Huawei, says Uncle Sam: CFO charged with fraud, faces extradition to US over Iran trade claims • The Register
US charges Huawei, affiliates with theft and lying about Iran sanctions – POLITICO
The Chinese telecoms company was charged with violating confidentiality agreements with T-Mobile.
China must tread fine line as US fires latest salvo against Huawei in ‘new Cold War’
The US charges against China’s Huawei are the latest salvo in an escalating &quot;new Cold War&quot; that is developing between the two superpowers.
Justice Department announces criminal charges against Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei
The Justice Department announced criminal charges Monday against Chinese-based Huawei Technologies Co., the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in the world.
As Huawei faces trouble in the West, it could find solace in India
The Shenzhen-based company is currently mired in international controversy, but it still has a chance of selling its 5G equipment to developing countries such as India, experts say.
Huawei and China, Facing U.S. Charges, Have Few Ways to Retaliate – The New York Times
Slowing growth and the trade war could restrict Beijing’s ability to get tough. Huawei has shuffled its Washington staff, apparently seeking a reset in relations.
Canada fired its Chinese ambassador after his ‘mind-boggling’ remarks on the arrest of Huawei’s CFO | Business Insider
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fired the country’s ambassador to China, John McCallum, on Saturday after McCallum spoke out about the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou.
Trump’s China negotiations: Experts say more needs to be done to protect IP theft, could take years | Fox News
The Trump administration needs to be doing more to protect against the theft of American intellectual property by the Chinese government, according to a bipartisan commission of experts that estimated the cost to U.S. companies at $225-$600 billion per year, if not more.


Signs that China is feeling the pressure
You can tell from that chart when President Xi was promoted to running China. It was the sudden rush of Chinese incursions, driven by Xi’s nasty and aggressive stance to China’s neighbors. Last December was the first zero count since his election. The decision to have no incursions may have been his, or it might reflect turmoil within the regime. The drum beat of war in Asia has stopped for the moment. The rapid contraction in Chinese manufacturing late last year may be related to the sudden end to provocations. To put the significance of that plummet into context, let’s examine what happened to death rates in the United States for white males, age 50-54, over the last couple of decades.
China jails ‘subversive’ rights lawyer Wang Quanzhang after secretive trial | World | The Times
A leading Chinese human rights lawyer, who spent more than three years in pre-trial detention during a nationwide crackdown on dissent, has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for subversion.Wang Quanzhang, 42, was one of more than 200 lawyers and activists arrested during a series
Xi’s China Is Steamrolling Its Own History – Foreign Policy
The Chinese Communist Party sees the past as a resource to be plundered by the present.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kazakhstan Must Seek to Repatriate 1.5 Million Kazakhs from China, Kazakh Analyst Says
Paul Goble Staunton, January 25 – China says it will allow 2,000 ethnic Kazakhs from Xinjiang to emigrate to Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan has an annual quota of 2500 such immigrants. But those figures are a drop in the bucket, Kazakh political analyst Aydos Sarym says, given that there are some 1.5 million ethnic Kazakhs in China that Astana must attract home. If it continues to allow so few in each year, Kazakhstan would not manage to get all of them back in less than 600 years, he continues, adding that he doubts Kazakhstan has that much time given the Sinification of Kazakhs in China and the departure of ethnic Russians from Kazakhstan (camonitor.kz/32414-massovoe-pereselenie-kazahov-iz-kitaya-v-rk-naskolko-eto-celesoobrazno-i-vozmozhno.html). Most of the Kazakhs from China will want to settle near where their families came from, in the villages of the southern and eastern portions of the country, or in the big cities. But the oralmans, as these people are called, need to be encouraged to move to the northern part of the republic which will otherwise see a dangerous depopulation with the exit of ethnic Russians. Many in Kazakhstan are afraid of such mass immigration, fearful that the returnees will be more nationalist than those who never left and thus destabilize the situation or that they will be less skilled than Kazakhs already here and become a burden. But such fears are overstated, Sarym says. Kazakhstan needs people and not just IT workers. China is the largest potential pool of immigrants, he continues, and Beijing has an interest in getting rid of Kazakhs whom it finds more difficult to assimilate than other groups. But Astana must also be on the lookout for other opportunities to attract ethnic Kazakhs back to Kazakhstan.


UAWire – Tokyo: establishing US military bases in the Kuril Islands is only possible with Japan’s consent
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that if the South Kuril Islands are handed over to Japan, the creation of US military bases on those …

Foreign Policy Reports

 


 

Bulgaria, Russia agreed to build gas pipeline bypassing Ukraine – media
Bulgaria has pledged to build a new gas pipeline to pump Russian natural gas from Turkey to Serbia, EUobserver has reported. — Ukrinform.


Theresa May Gives the EU a Brexit Ultimatum – Bloomberg
If the prime minister has a realistic new Brexit plan, she’s keeping it to herself.
Brexit Latest: U.K. Parliament Cancels Recess, Hunt Talks Delay – Bloomberg
With just two months to go until the U.K. is scheduled to leave the European Union, government ministers are beginning to voice publicly what they’ve long been saying privately: Brexit may have to be delayed.
May thinks she’s won. But the reality of Brexit will soon hit her again | Rafael Behr | Opinion | The Guardian
Ultimately the problem is not the deal, or the backstop, or Brussels: it is Brexit itself, says Guardian columnist Rafael Behr
In Critical Brexit Vote, Theresa May Survives – The New York Times
Lawmakers narrowly rejected an amendment that would have put Parliament in charge of the withdrawal from the E.U., overturning constitutional protocol.
Brexit brinkmanship: UK demands a fresh exit deal, EU says: ‘non’ | Reuters
* Parliament tells May: renegotiate
Boris Johnson tells UK’s May: Ditch the Irish backstop and get support | Reuters
The most prominent Brexit campaigner in Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative party said on Monday that she would get widespread support if she got the European Union to ditch the Irish backstop.
UK tries to keep EU united in piling pressure on Maduro | World news | The Guardian
European leaders toughen stance on Venezuela as hawkish US steps up rhetoric


The French Connection: Donbas Fighters Don Yellow Vests
French citizens who joined Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have now resurfaced among the Yellow Vest protesters in Paris.
French yellow vest movement dogged by intolerance, extremism – ABC News
French ‘yellow vests’ defy Macron again in tense protests | Reuters
Thousands of “yellow vest” demonstrators marched in Paris and other French cities on Saturday in protests that brought sporadic clashes with police and suggested that President Emmanuel Macron has yet to defuse public discontent.
Use of Force in France’s ‘Yellow Vest’ Protests Fuels Anger – The New York Times
Thousands have been injured, including dozens seriously hurt by rubber projectiles. Critics call the police reaction excessive, but officials say officers have performed well.
Mounting anger in France after police use increased force, specialized weapons against ‘Yellow Vest’ protesters | Fox News
French police’s use of specialized weapons which shoot golf ball sized rubber bullets at protesters is being criticized after people have sustained serious injuries.
‘Red scarves’ march in Paris against yellow-vest violence – BBC News
About 10,000 people call for an end to weeks of often violent yellow-vest demonstrations.
In Paris, ‘red scarves’ turn out to protest violence of ‘yellow vest’ demonstrations – The Washington Post
Marchers acknowledge legitimate grievances but say the movement does not speak for all.


Germany to close all 84 of its coal-fired power plants, will rely primarily on renewable energy – Los Angeles Times
Germany, the world’s fourth biggest consumer of coal, aims to shut down all 84 of its coal-burning plants that produce 40% of the country’s electricity within the next 19 years in order to meet its international commitments in the fight against climate change, a government commission said Saturday.
Germany’s coal exit could mean cash windfall for plant operators | Reuters
Operators of Germany’s coal-fired power plans will have to negotiate compensation with the authorities for accelerating moves to phase out use of the fuel, a report said on Saturday, with the prospect that payouts could run into billions of euros.
Irony Is the Secret to Saving Democracy – Foreign Policy
How has the Czech Republic avoided the nationalist populism tearing apart Poland and Hungary? By not taking itself too seriously.


Opinion | Putin’s Next Playground or the E.U.’s Last Moral Stand? – The New York Times
“In the Balkans the transition is over,” Remzi Lani, an Albanian political analyst, told me some time ago. But unlike in many post-Communist countries, Mr. Lani didn’t mean a transformation from dictatorship to democracy. “We transitioned from repressive to depressive regimes.” He is right. The old Communists and radical ethnic nationalists are largely gone; in their places is stagnation — economic, social and political. The question now is how these depressive regimes fit into a growing geopolitical rivalry. A day before his recent visit to Belgrade, Serbia, President Vladimir Putin of Russia expressed his great displeasure with Macedonia’s name change and accused “the United States and certain Western countries” of “destabilizing” the region; the Russian foreign minister, meanwhile, denounced “the willingness of the United States to lead all Balkan states into NATO as soon as possible and to remove any Russian influence in this region.” Russia wants to make clear that this is not what the people in the region want. Watching Mr. Putin’s visit to Belgrade and listening to his rhetoric, one couldn’t help but conclude that the confrontation in the Balkans between the West and Russia is changing both in nature and intensity. In the last decade, Russia was actively defending its economic and cultural presence in the region, but it never openly challenged NATO or European Union hegemony. Not anymore. At first glance, Russia’s ambitions seem unrealistic. The Balkans remain firmly entrenched in the West: Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, Albania and Montenegro are all NATO members and Macedonia is on its way. Every country in the region is either a member of the European Union or aspires to join it. The European Union is far and away the region’s top trading partner, its biggest investor and the preferred destination for emigration. The conventional wisdom is that Russia might be a troublemaker but could hardly be more. The conventional wisdom could be wrong. Moscow has sensed a critical vulnerability in the West’s position in the Balkans: While in places like Ukraine the European Union has been perceived as a symbol of change, in the Balkans it’s seen as the defender of a status quo that may be ready for disruption. Publics are frustrated and angry. Ethnic tensions are on the rise. Almost every country in the region has seen large-scale antigovernment demonstrations. Economic growth is sluggish in most places, misery is widespread and the depopulation of the region is dramatic: More than 40 percent of people born in Bosnia and Herzegovina have left the country; about 40 percent of those born in Albania and about 25 percent of those born in Macedonia have done the same. And while polls show that a majority of people still sees joining the European Union as the best road to prosperity, the promise of European integration is losing its talismanic power. Not only does the European Union’s future look uncertain, but leaders like President Emmanuel Macron of France have made it clear that they will not spend political capital advocating for the integration of the Western Balkans. And yet, even as sentiment in the region has changed, the European Union is reluctant to change its approach to it. This is in part the result of bureaucratic inertia and a lack of political interest. But it also comes from a fear that any policy change in the Balkans will seem like a betrayal of principles. The wars in the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia played a critical role in shaping the European Union’s post-Cold War political identity. Europeans saw the nearby tragedy not as a clash between states or nations but between two principles: the principle of ethnic nationalism, represented by Slobodan Milosevic, and the principle of multiethnic democracy, embodied by the European Union. Consequently, European Union policy toward the Balkans is more driven by ideology than in any other part of the world. Europe’s ideological rigidity is admirable, but it is also partly responsible for the region’s paralysis. This is best illustrated by the European Union’s role in the ongoing diplomacy between Serbia and Kosovo. The dialogue was initiated and encouraged by the European Union because everybody realizes that mutual recognition between Belgrade and Pristina is the only way to remove the obstacles for deeper economic cooperation and pave the way for Serbia and Kosovo to join the European Union. But when President Alexander Vucic of Serbia and his counterpart in Kosovo, Hashim Thaci, began addressing the sensitive question of “correcting” their borders in order to reach a final agreement, major European capitals quickly declared that they would never allow it. Changing borders is never a great idea, especially after the traumatic experience of ethnic wars in the Balkans. But telling elected leaders that they cannot shape relations between their countries isn’t a great idea, either. So while European fears are legitimate about how changing the Kosovo-Serbia border could encourage other countries to follow suit, and the European Union is right to insist that any border changes should be supported by the majority of people in those countries, the message comes across poorly. It sounds like Europe is telling its naughty neighbor to stay away from sharp objects. And that’s why it has backfired. The chances for a Serbia-Kosovo deal today are much worse than they were months ago, and the risk of ethnic clashes is higher. That’s where Russia comes in. Last November, Mr. Putin met Mr. Thaci, despite the fact that Moscow doesn’t recognize Kosovo as a state. The meeting signaled that Russia does not see its role in the Balkans only as Serbia’s protector, but also as a potential power broker. That’s why Europeans should not be surprised if Russia soon produces its own road map for normalizing Serbian-Albanian relations. (They also shouldn’t be surprised if Turkey expresses interest in such a Russian initiative.) In other words, Russia’s actions in the Balkans are not only spoiling games. Moscow wants to replace the European Union as the mediator for solving regional conflicts, in the way it is attempting — largely successfully — to replace the United States as a mediator in the Middle East. On Friday, after 27 wasted years of disputes, the Greek Parliament finally approved Macedonia’s new name, North Macedonia, putting an end to one of the conflicts that has been haunting the Balkans. This was a real victory for the European strategy for the region. Now, Europe should find similar energy and flexibility to push Serbia and Kosovo to find their own compromise. That’s the only way it can stay relevant in the region — not by being a force for the status quo.
Putin’s next playground or the E.U.’s last moral stand? – 112.international
Putin’s next playground or the E.U.’s last moral stand?
Hungary Bucks U.S. Push to Curb Russian and Chinese Influence – WSJ
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has told U.S. diplomats that he wants his country to be “neutral, like Austria” as Washington pushes for a tougher line on Russia and China, deepening fears that a longtime American ally is drifting from its orbit.
WSJ: Hungary bucks U.S. push to curb Russian and Chinese influence – news world | UNIAN
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has told U.S. diplomats that he wants his country to be “neutral, like Austria” as Washington pushes for a tougher line on Russia and China, deepening fears that a longtime American ally is drifting from its orbit. The Hungarian leader made his remarks last month in a meeting with the U.S. ambassador in Budapest.
There’s One Country in Europe Where Putin Is a Rock Star – Foreign Policy
The Russian president’s visit to Serbia was a lovefest—but beyond the odes to Orthodox brotherhood, the two authoritarian leaders are using one another to advance a geopolitical agenda.
Thousands rally in Belgrade calling President Vucic to resign – news world | UNIAN
Several thousand protesters took to Belgrade streets on Saturday, January 26, urging Serbian President Alexander Vucic to step down. Mass protests in Belgrade began on December 8 after an opposition figure was brutally assaulted in the country’s south on November 23.


Thousands of British Jews apply for German nationality as Brexit looms
Thousands of British Jews have applied for German citizenship, which was stripped from their ancestors by the Nazis during the Third Reich, in order to retain European citizens after Brexit.
Far-Right Group Stages Anti-Semitic Protest at Auschwitz for Holocaust Memorial Day, Says Jews Are Covering Up Death of Polish Victims
Poland has been having an intense national debate over the past year about how to discuss the role Polish people played in Nazi atrocities during World War II.
Holocaust: Polish police probe Auschwitz far-right protest – BBC News
A Polish far-right group staged a controversial march at Auschwitz on Holocaust Memorial Day.
Prince Charles Honors Holocaust Victims on Memorial Day | PEOPLE.com
Prince Charles commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day following a recent survey that found many Brits disturbingly deny the mass genocide ever happened


Dozens Protest Against Greek President Over Macedonia Deal
Some 250 people rallied in Greece’s second-largest city to protest ratification of a historic deal set to lead to normalization of relations with neighboring Macedonia.
With Name Change Out Of The Way, Macedonia Looks To Start EU Talks Soon
Macedonia says it is ready to accelerate accession talks to join the European Union after agreeing with Greece on a name change to end a decades-long dispute.


Mystery illness sees Canada halve its Cuba embassy staff – BBC News
A 14th employee at Canada’s embassy in Havana falls ill, and the country cuts staff there by half.
Canada confirms 14th case of diplomat falling mysteriously ill in Cuba – CNN
Canada has confirmed a 14th case of unusual health symptoms experienced by diplomatic staff in Havana, Cuba.


US special envoy for Venezuela was convicted in Iran-Contra scandal – CNN
The Trump administration’s new special envoy on the Venezuelan political crisis is well known in Latin American circles — from his guilty plea for withholding information about the Iran-Contra affair to his attempt to discredit accounts of the massacre of nearly 1,000 people by a US-trained military battalion in El Salvador.
Official convicted over Iran-Contra scandal appointed to help ‘restore democracy’ in Venezuela | The Independent
The Trump administration has announced that Elliott Abrams, who was convicted over the Iran-Contra scandal in which the Ronald Reagan administration secretly funded paramilitary groups in Nicaragua, will lead the US’s efforts to press for democracy in Venezuela.
Pompeo Calls On World To Stand With Venezuela’s ‘Forces Of Freedom’
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on all United Nations members to recognize Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s interim president.
EU nations give Venezuela’s Maduro eight-day ultimatum | News | Al Jazeera
Spain, France, Germany and the UK to recognise Guaido as Venezuela’s president unless Maduro calls elections.
Venezuela: Maduro standoff deepens as E.U. demands new elections – The Washington Post
Tensions grow as U.S. diplomats defy Venezuelan leader’s order to leave the country in 72 hours.
Under pressure over video, Venezuela’s Guaido says met officials | Reuters
Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido said on Saturday he had met with government officials to convince them of the need for new elections, after a lawmaker said a meeting took place this week.
Guaido’s Bold Stroke for Democracy in Venezuela – Bloomberg
An attempt to restore democracy will fail without the world’s help.
Venezuela’s top military diplomat in U.S.: Guaidó is president | Miami Herald
Col. José Luis Silva, the highest ranking military diplomat at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, D.C., broke with the Nicolás Maduro regime and urged others to recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president.
U.S. diplomats leave embassy in Venezuela – 112.international
The workers of the U.S. embassy in Venezuela left their diplomatic mission. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela reports this. “We report that yesterday, January 25, the U.S. envoys of the diplomatic mission in Caracas left the embassy due to deadlines”, – the report said. The diplomats of the Venezuela embassy in Washington “decided to return to Caracas” as well on Saturday.
The Observer view on why Venezuela needs consensus, not conflict | Observer editorial | Opinion | The Guardian
The implicit threat of military intervention on behalf of Juan Guaidó’s opposition raises fears of a cold war proxy conflict
Venezuela Maduro: $1.2B gold withdrawal blocked by Bank of England – report – CNN
The Bank of England has blocked Nicolas Maduro’s officials from withdrawing $1.2 billion worth of gold, Bloomberg reported, dealing a further blow to the embattled Venezuelan President as he tries to salvage his authority.

 


 

Capability / Strategy / History Publications

 


 

UN: US, China ‘have stolen a lead’ in artificial intelligence | TheHill
A United Nations panel said in a report published Thursday that the U.S. and China are out in front of global competitors in the study and development of artificial intelligence.
U.S., China take the lead in race for artificial intelligence: U.N. | Reuters
China and the United States are ahead of the global competition to dominate artificial intelligence (AI), according to a study by the U.N. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) published on Thursday.
Knock, knock. Who’s there? This AI combat system might already know
Marines hope that robots on the ground can do more than just see and report back. They hope the robots can be trained to recognize and prioritize what they see.


Germany Weighs Purchase of 45 Boeing-Made F/A-18 Warplanes – WSJ
Germany is considering purchasing 45 Boeing-made F/A-18 warplanes for its air force, government officials said, in what would be a win for the Trump administration but a surprise blow to Boeing rival Lockheed Martin.
Germany drops F-35 from fighter tender; Boeing F/A-18 and Eurofighter to battle on | Reuters
Germany will pick either the Eurofighter or Boeing’s F/A-18 fighter jet to replace its Tornado warplanes, knocking Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighter out of a tender worth billions of euros, Defence Ministry sources said on Thursday.
Stagnant F-35 Reliability Means Fewer Available Jets: Pentagon | Bloomberg Government
(Bloomberg) — Durability testing data indicates service-life of initial F-35B short-takeoff-vertical landing jets bought by Marine Corps “is well under” expected service life of 8,000 fleet hours; “may be as low as 2,100″ hours Pentagon test office says in 2018 annual report obtained by Bloomberg that’s scheduled for release this week.
Stealth F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Has Some Serious Problems: Report | The National Interest
The 2018 report from the Pentagon’s operational testing and evaluation arm, set for public release this week and obtained early by Bloomberg’s Tony Capaccio, indicates that ongoing reliability issues have drastically shortened the service life far below expectations.
Some F-35s Could Become Unflyable by 2026
Structural cracks could limit early production F-35s to nearly a quarter of their planned service lives.
If the money is there, new and improved F-15s could be coming soon to the Air Force
Whether or not the Air Force buys new and improved F-15 fighters, known as the F-15X, the aircraft won’t be taking money from the F-35 program.
Lockheed CEO: Boeing’s F-15X won’t disrupt F-35 program
Lockheed’s top exec is confident the Air Force’s procurement of another fighter won’t hurt the F-35 buy rate.
A US Air Force F-16 painted like Russia’s Su-57 could give the US a major combat advantage | Business Insider
The US Air Force’s 64th Aggressor Squadron, which uses 20 F-16 fighter jets to train the rest of the force on realistic battle scenarios against enemy fighters, will use the paint scheme of Russia’s newest fighter jet, the Su-57, for one of its jets.


The Navy’s new, more lethal frigate is coming into focus
The U.S. Navy is zeroing in on a cost and the shape of its new frigate as it prepares to launch an open competition this summer.
US Navy Places First 2-Carrier Order in Three Decades – Defense One
Despite cost overruns on lead Ford-class ship, officials say dual buy will save $4 billion.
U.S. Navy orders 79 Harpoon Block II Plus tactical missile upgrade kits – Defence Blog
In a statement made Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Defense has reported that Boeing awarded $15 million for 79 Harpoon Block II Plus tactical missile upgrade kits. Harpoon is an all-weather, over-the-horizon weapon designed to execute anti-ship missions against a range of surface targets. It can be launched from surface ships, submarines and aircraft and is currently used on 50 U.S. Navy ships: 22 cruisers, 21 Flight I destroyers, seven Flight II destroyers, and select littoral combat ships. According to a statement, Boeing was awarded $15,9 million for modification P00001 to delivery order previously placed against basic ordering agreement N00019-16-G-0001. This modification exercises an option for the procurement of 79 Harpoon Block II Plus Tactical Missile upgrade kits for the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Department of Defense also noted that work is expected to be completed in March 2022. The original missile was designed as an open-ocean weapon and Block II adds a littoral (coastal) anti-ship capability. It adds the inertial measurement unit from the Joint Direct Attack Munition, and the software, computer, GPS/inertial navigation system from the SLAM Expanded Response (SLAM-ER). Block II Plus includes an improved GPS guidance system and a datalink to enable in-flight targeting updates.
US Air Force receives new KC-46 aircraft, an event decades in the making
The Air Force is set to get its first long-delayed Boeing KC-46 Pegasus air-refueling tankers at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.
Marine Corps’ new combat vehicles proved capable fully replacing predecessor – Defence Blog
The U.S. Marine Corps has announced that the new Amphibious Combat Vehicle offers ‘significantly greater survivability, mobility’ than the predecessor. According to a statement, the Marine Corps’ Amphibious Combat Vehicle program reached another milestone, proving the vehicle’s ability to deliver future combat power from ship to shore and follow-on objectives. Program Executive Officer Land Systems recently completed testing on the ACV, which proved the new vehicles’ ability to not only take on challenging surf, but also complete a long swim from ship to shore and back. These major accomplishments facilitated the program moving from what was originally envisioned as an incremental approach, to one that will be known as the ACV family of vehicles, without the nomenclature of ACV 1.1 or ACV 1.2. In June 2018, Marine Corps Systems Command awarded BAE Systems a contract to begin low rate initial production of the amphibious vehicles. Since then, the Advanced Amphibious Assault program office at Program Executive Officer Land Systems has continued conducting a variety of robust swimming and other tests on the platform. Most recently, the ACV program office successfully completed 1.2 anticipated requirement testing, and determined the ACV technologically capable of fully replacing the legacy AAV. “We’ve landed on a vehicle that is very comparable in the ocean or in the water to the current AAV, with respect to performance,” said Col. Kirk Mullins, program manager for Advanced Amphibious Assault at PEO Land Systems. “We have a vehicle that has significantly greater survivability and mobility than the current platform, and one that—through demonstrated operational tests—the Marines are very happy with.” Several capabilities were evaluated during recent testing, including the vehicle’s ability to embark and deploy off of an amphibious ship, its ship-to-shore threshold and a high-surf test, which subjected the vehicle to aggressive surf zones with waves reaching over six feet, said Mullins. “The program office tested the vehicle to all of the ACV 1.2 transition requirements, and even subjected the vehicle to 9-foot waves without issues,” he said. “Because of this, the Marine Corps now was the opportunity to combine the program into a singular ACV family of vehicles program.” The platform met the 1.2 requirements earlier than anticipated, which the program office credits in part to the competitive process by which the vehicle was selected. “The success the program has achieved today has a lot to do with how the program was structured and how it’s been executed,” said Angelo Scarlato, ACV 1.1 product manager at PEO Land Systems. “The competition [between industry to produce the ACV] worked, from getting increased performance out of our industry partners and the vehicle at a reasonable price.”
Updated: Lockheed Martin scores critical Army airborne electronic warfare contract
Lockheed was awarded a contract under the Multi-Function Electronic Warfare (MFEW) program.
India parades latest MRSAM surface-to-air missile system – Defence Blog
The Indian military displayed a Medium-Range Surface-to-Air Missile (MRSAM) for the first time during its annual Republic Day parade on 26 January. India displayed its latest surface-to-air missile system, called the MRSAM, in a parade held on 26 January to mark the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding. The new missile system is developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in partnership with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The MRSAM provides the armed forces with air defense capability against a variety of aerial threats at medium ranges. The missile launcher and the command post would be made in India, with the rest of the complex system – including the missile itself – to be made in Israel. IAI will reportedly supply India with 2,000 missiles capable of intercepting enemy aircraft and missiles within a 70-kilometer range. The proposed MRSAM, to replace the old Pechora missiles which currently in service of Indian Defense Forces. According to airforce-technology.com, the MRSAM missile is equipped with an advanced active radar radio frequency (RF) seeker, advanced rotating phased array radar and a bidirectional data link. The RF seeker, located in the front section of the missile, is used to detect moving targets in all weather conditions. The MRSAM surface-to-air missile is powered by a dual-pulse solid propulsion system developed by DRDO. The propulsion system, coupled with a thrust vector control system, allows the missile to move at a maximum speed of Mach 2. The weapon has the ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously at ranges of 70km.
Here’s why the Corps strapped a counter-drone system to the deck of a warship in the Suez Canal
The LMADIS can track, detect, identify, and blast small drones out of the sky using electronic attack.
Raytheon received $32M for Miniature Air Launched Decoy – Defence Blog
The U.S. Department of Defense announced that Raytheon is being awarded $32,9 million for modification to a previously awarded contract for Miniature Air Launched Decoy or MALD. According to a statement, this modification provides for engineering and manufacturing development of the MALD for the U.S. Navy. Work will be performed in Tucson, Arizona, and is expected to be completed in July 2021. The MALD is a is a low-cost, programmable craft that accurately duplicates the combat flight profiles and signatures of U.S. and allied aircraft. The MALD decoy is a flexible and modular system that has the potential to keep aviators and aircraft out of harm’s way. It’s an expendable air-launched flight vehicle that looks like a U.S. or allied aircraft to enemy integrated air defense systems, or IADS. The U.S. and its allies can confuse and deceive enemy IADS by sending a formation of MALD decoys into hostile airspace. Weighing less than 300 pounds, the weapon has a range of approximately 500 nautical miles (575 statute miles). After it is launched from its host aircraft, the MALD decoy flies a preprogrammed mission. In addition to protecting valuable aircraft, the weapon offers counter-air operations to neutralize air defense systems that pose a threat to U.S. and allied pilots.
The U.S. Military Wants Tiny Road Mobile Nuclear Reactors That Can Fit In A C-17 – The Drive
The power demands to sustain American military operations are only increasing, but small nuclear power plants could present new problems.
What If Your Fitbit Could Run on a Wi-Fi Signal? – Scientific American
Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives.
Net Assessment: Learning to Love the Bomb – War on the Rocks
Join Chris, Melanie, and Bryan — your Net Assessment podcasters — for a dive into nuclear weapons and grand strategy, and the degree to which they have

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports

 


 

Russia Targeting British Institute In Disinformation Campaign
A British think tank that counters Russian information operations has been hacked — and Russian media outlets are all over the leaked material.
Spy vs. spy: How undercover agents targeted a cybersecurity watchdog
The Associated Press found that researchers who reported the role of Israeli spyware in the targeting of Jamal Khashoggi’s inner circle are being targeted by undercover operatives.
‘Nearly all’ American networks will be susceptible to cyberattacks
“Nearly all information, communication networks, and systems will be at risk for years to come,” according to the 2019 national intelligence strategy.
Facebook takes down two Russian disinformation networks in Eastern Europe – POLITICO
A large network operating in Europe was coordinated by Russian state news agency Sputnik.
Massive DDoS Attack Generates 500 Million Packets per Second – To Inform is to Influence
DDOS attacks are being mitigated, but they’re gaining strength. A LOT of strength and power. </editorial>
DOJ moves to take down Joanap botnet operated by North Korean state hackers – To Inform is to Influence
This is the lawfare I’ve been advocating. In our quest for national security, it seems we overlook lawfare, using our laws and the Department of Justice to prevent others from launching crippling attacks on businesses, individuals, and other organizations. Notice the Joanap botnet began in 2009, and only now, in 2019 are we reacting. </end editorial>

US Domestic Policy Reports

 


 

Intelligence chiefs single out China in threat hearing
The U.S. intelligence community took aim at China during its annual assessment of worldwide threats, accusing the East Asian giant of blistering cyberattacks that are the foundation of a prolonged espionage campaign.
Russia, China Will Exploit West’s ‘Isolationist Tendencies,’ Says New Intel Strategy – Defense One
The intelligence community’s warning arrived as the House rebuked President Trump for his attacks on NATO.
Intelligence Chiefs Diverge From Trump On Main Threats to US – Defense One
The things that worry America’s intelligence community can’t be stopped by a wall.
US spy chiefs highlight dangers of Russia-China axis | World | The Times
China and Russia are more aligned than they have been since the 1950s and pose the greatest threat to the United States as they target its institutions and election, according to an annual report by US intelligence agencies.In their presentation to the Senate, the directors of the CIA, FBI, National
US spy chiefs break with Trump on several threats to the US | News | Al Jazeera
Intelligence directors break with Trump on threats posed by North Korea, Iran and ISIL.
Trump singled out Dan Coats in morning rant about intelligence community – CNNPolitics
President Donald Trump seethed Wednesday morning as he watched the highlights of his intelligence chiefs testifying on Capitol Hill and singled out Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats by name during his morning rant, two people with knowledge of the outburst tell CNN.
Trump chastises intel chiefs after they contradict him on Iran and claims of foreign policy success – CNNPolitics
President Donald Trump chastised his own intelligence officials Wednesday morning for being soft on Iran a day after they contradicted numerous administration claims of foreign policy success.
White House abruptly cancelled meeting with intel chiefs day after contradicting Trump: report | TheHill
The White House cancelled President Trump’s daily intelligence briefing Wednesday after the nation’s top intelligence officials contradicted the administration’s foreign policy in front of Congress.
‘They were totally misquoted,’ Trump brushes off his intel chiefs’ contradiction of his policies | Daily Mail Online
President Trump brushed aside the contradictions his intelligence chiefs offered on his policies on Iran, North Korea and ISIS, saying he had spoken to them and they ‘were totally misquoted.’
The Americans Accused Of Spying
Over the last 10 years, nearly 50 Americans have been imprisoned on spy charges. As of January, six of them are still being held, in three different countries.


Russian Trolls Release Fake Dirt on Robert Mueller – To Inform is to Influence
If you read this article critically, you will have questions and can make some assumptions. The Twitter account, @HackingRedstone (now suspended), what was the previous activity from it? Why so much padding, over 300,000 junk files? Is it all about lulz? Which files are NOT fake? We want to know more about them. Why is this even news? If The Daily Beat ignored the initial release of these fake documents in October, why are they paying attention now? Who is doing technical analysis and where will they publish their report, seeing as it is non-sensitive. A good semi-technical approach to analyzing @HackingRestone’s previous activity.https://twitter.com/josh_emerson/status/1060154730557685760 Let’s assume most of the documents are fake with only a few real documents interspersed. What would be the purpose? Attention? They’re using an anonymous Twitter account. To damage Mueller and the investigation? Not really, since most of the documents are fake, so their reputation is tarnished. To distract the inquiry? Bingo. Target, target, target. This appears to be a diversionary tactic, bottom line, to throw the investigation off. Russia, once again, appears to be flailing. #RussiaFail FYI, check out the author. He was famous last century. </end editorial>
Russian Trolls Release Fake Dirt on Robert Mueller
Evidence that was reportedly shared only with lawyers representing Russia’s Internet Research Agency was altered in a bid to “discredit the investigation,” Mueller warns.
Mueller’s Office Says Russian Hackers Stole, Altered Evidence to Discredit Probe
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office says hackers in Russia stole and altered evidence in an attempt to discredit its probe into Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential …
Non-public materials from special counsel case used in pro-Russian effort to discredit Russia probe – CNNPolitics
The Justice Department alleged Wednesday that Russia has continued pushing online disinformation to discredit the American government, after a pro-Russian Twitter account spread confidential information from a criminal case that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team brought against a Russian company for social media conspiracy.
Top U.S. Justice Official: Mueller Russia Investigation Close To Completion
The comments by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker came just days after Mueller’s prosecutors indicted another close associate of President Donald Trump.
Trump Associate Stone Pleads Not Guilty To Charges Connected To Russia Probe
Roger Stone, a longtime ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, has pleaded not guilty to seven criminal counts connected to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Trump Will ‘Never Be Safe’ From Russian Intelligence and Will Have ‘No Defense,’ Retired General Says
“What Mr. Trump ought to fear the most is that the Russians in particular, eventually will use their version of the events against him,” retired four-star General Barry McCaffrey warned.
Trump Says His Lawyers Assured He Is Not Target Of Mueller Probe
U.S. President Donald Trump says in an interview that his lawyers have been assured he is not a “subject” of the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into Russian meddling in U.S. electi…
CIA Provided Intelligence On Lifting Of Deripaska Sanctions But Raised No Concerns
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) says it didn’t raise any concerns over the lifting of sanctions by the U.S. Treasury Department on three companies linked to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
U.S. Lawmakers Seek Treasury Records On Deripaska Sanctions Decision
The lawmakers said they want a broad array of materials “regardless of classification”– an indication they also want classified intelligence reporting.


U.S. Senate Opposes Afghan, Syria Withdrawals In Rebuke To Trump
The Republican-led U.S. Senate approved a mainly symbolic bill opposing plans to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan in a rare rebuke of President Donald Trump.
Senate rebukes Trump’s plan to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria, Afghanistan – The Washington Post
The vast majority of Republican senators voted to support Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s measure declaring that ISIS and al-Qaeda remain serious threats.
Trump war strategy takes one-two punch | TheHill
President Trump’s strategy in Syria and Afghanistan took a one-two punch on Tuesday, first from his own intelligence officials and then from the Senate’s top Republican.
GOP poised to rebuke Trump | TheHill
Frustrated Republicans say it’s time for the Senate to reclaim more power over foreign policy and are planning to move a measure Thursday that would be a stunning rebuke to a president of their own party.


The Persistence of Anti-Semitism – The New York Times
Deborah E. Lipstadt’s “Antisemitism: Here and Now” charts the new guises of an enduring hatred.
Rep. Ilhan Omar slammed for saying she ‘chuckles’ when Israel is called a democracy, compares it to Iran | Fox News
Embattled congressional freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., is facing backlash after comparing Israel to Iran and said she “almost chuckle[s]” when the Jewish state is described as a democracy.
The New Pro-Israel Law That Could Backfire on Israel – Foreign Policy
A bid to temper Palestinian security funding cuts before they go into effect this week fell short.
On Politics: A Pro-Israel Bill Also Aims to Divide Democrats – The New York Times
The legislation, which allows state and local governments to break ties with companies that boycott Israel, is as much about dividing Democrats as it is about defending the Jewish state.
BDS Movement |
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.
Roseanne Barr says ‘we have Hamas in Congress,’ BDS has ‘infected’ the Democratic Party | Fox News
Roseanne Barr made a bold declaration about newly sworn-in Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich. and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., during the former ABC sitcom star’s four-day trip in Israel.