Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Russia / Strategy Ad Hoc Media Update (69)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Germany to extend its deployment in the Baltics. NATO on Balkans meddling. A week’s worth of reports chronicling Russia’s internal descent, some are truly woeful. Updates on former Soviet republics.

The strategically most important development in the Middle East has been the Papal visit, given 1400 years of discord between the two religions. However Middle Eastern media traffic has been dominated by Iran, mainly due to the 40th anniversary of the fall of the Shah, the most interesting retrospective report is the commentary by former Pres Bani Sadr, on how Khomeini and his inner circle used others in the movement as useful idiots, to impose absolute power for the theological elites and their enforcers. The most interesting current reports have yet to appear in Western media – claims that Syrian army units aligned with Iran have fought with Syrian units aligned with Russia, and that the Russians are holding Iranian EPWs at Latakia. Given both the Russian and Iranian leadership are compulsively duplicitous, these reports even if not validated are the kind of outcome one might expect. Report on Kobani citizens converting to Christianity following brutalisation by ISIS is fascinating.

POTUS meeting with KJU is the major DPRK topic. Six PRC analyses of interest. Much on the trade war, and interesting Pacrim reports.

European developments continue along established threads.

Capability reports mostly focussed on programs, the revival of the Harpoon is fascinating.

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media reports dominated by social media, but the short CSIS explainer is an excellent summary for beginners.

US domestic media include SOTU transcripts, intel debate, Russia investigation – Manafort seems to be getting in deeper by the day.


NATO / EU / Russia Reports



Reuters: Germany vows to keep troops in Lithuania, invest more in barracks – news world | UNIAN
Germany will invest a total of 110 million euros until 2021 in improving military bases in Lithuania, its defense minister said on Monday, underlining Berlin’s continued commitment to the defense of its NATO allies in the Baltic region. Von der Leyen said the German deployment had bolstered joint training efforts and improved the ability to deploy on missions if needed.
Stoltenberg: Russia trying to meddle in Balkan countries joining NATO – news world | UNIAN
NATO has suggested Russia has tried to meddle and influence whether Balkan countries join the defense alliance. That’s wrong, NATO chief stresses.

Russia / Russophone Reports



The Week In Russia: Crime, Corruption, And A Showdown Across The Ocean
The big drama in Moscow this week played out not at the Bolshoi Theater but up the street, where a lawmaker was detained in parliament on murder charges.
Google Censors Search Results After Russian Government Threat, Reports Say
Google has begun censoring websites blacklisted by the Russian government after Russia’s communications watchdog threatened to block the search-engine giant for not following its increasingly str…
Hello, Vladimir Speaking
From 2013 to 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone over 700 times to the heads of state of 55 countries.
‘I want to feel like I’m in Russia, and that’s how I feel’ Opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovksy talks Putin, Navalny, Prigozhin, and more five years after his release from prison — Meduza
Five years ago, on December 23, 2013, Vladimir Putin signed a decree exonerating Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who led the YUKOS oil company and was once the richest man in Russia. By that time, Khodorkovsky had spent more than 10 years in prison on charges of financial crimes. On the day of his release, Khodorkovsky left for Berlin, and he has not returned to Russia since. He has spent the last few years living in London with his family and staying involved in politics, education, and the media. Meduza special correspondent Ilya Zhegulev spoke with Khodorkovsky about what has changed in the five years he’s spent on the outside. He spoke about his successes, mistakes, friends, and enemies and about who is to blame for the murder of three Russian journalists killed in the Central African Republic.
The wife of Putin’s spokesman reportedly has an illegal Swiss bank account — Meduza
The wife of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov — former ice dancer Tatiana Navka — might have an account at the Swiss Banque Internationale à Luxembourg, according to new research by Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s investigative project Dossier, as reported by the television network Dozhd.
Poll: More than 40% of Russian youth want to leave Russia – To Inform is to Influence
The Levada survey this report is based on is located here. </end editorial> Wednesday, February 6, 2019 A new data obtained from the survey conducted by the “Levada Center” in January states that 41% of young people aged 18 to 24 would like to emigrate from Russia. In the country as a whole, the percentage…
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Increasing Desire of Politically Active Young to Emigrate May Save Putin but Destroy Russia
Paul Goble Staunton, February 4 – The Russian media are focusing on the findings of a new Levada Center poll showing that 41 percent of Russians between 18 and 24 are ready to emigrate because they have lost hope in the future of their country and that almost one in five of all Russians know someone who has left in the last two years. But perhaps the most important finding of this poll is one that Kommersant highlights: one in every four Russians who describe themselves as politically active now want to move abroad, a development that will certainly reduce the pressure on Vladimir Putin but at the cost of undermining the country’s future ( There are compelling reasons for both conclusions. Moscow analyst Yekaterina Schulmann recently suggested that one of the great advantages of what she calls “hybrid” regimes and one that makes them stable is their willingness to allow those who want to leave to do so ( When such people depart, she argues, the regime faces ever less pressure to change because those who might have gone into the streets to oppose it are now living abroad where any protests they make will matter less. Schulmann was speaking about Maduro’s Venezuela. The new Levada poll suggests that she could very well have been speaking about Putin’s Russia. But if Putin benefits, Russia does not. When a country deprives its young of hope for the future and hope of any prospect that they will be able to change an unfortunate present for a better future either personally or the country as a whole, that country may not experience turmoil but it will not experience progress either. One commentator lamented this situation saying that “the real results of Putin is that half of young Russians are ready to flee the country” implying that in this way as in so many others, the Kremlin leader may have saved himself but at the cost of destroying Russia’s future (
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia’s Vaunted Security Services Look ‘Powerless’ Against Telephone Terrorists, Gudkov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, February 6 – As telephoned bomb threats continue to empty buildings in Moscow, Russia’s security services which have always been praised to the skies by Vladimir Putin and his regime look “powerless” to do anything effective against such threats, provoking both fear and anger among many Russians, opposition politician Gennady Gudkov says. For almost a year, he writes, Russia has been suffering from this new plague, and the “all-powerful” security services have proved “powerless” to do anything about either preventing such outrages or bringing to justice those responsible. That makes the focus of the siloviki on Internet messages especially outrageous ( What he and other Russians want to hear is that the security services on which the country is spending “trillions” of the taxes Russians pay has been able to stop these things or at the very least track down the guilty. But that hasn’t happened. Instead, the siloviki get rewards and praise for finding “extremism” online. They obviously can’t find it in the real world – raising questions about why they exist and what good they are for.
Thousands Participate In ‘Russia Is Not A Dump’ Protests
Thousands of people have taken to the streets across Russia to voice anger over the environmental consequences of poorly managed landfills and household waste disposal.
Protesters across Russia rally against taking Moscow trash – ABC News
Heirs Of The Gulag? Russia’s Prison System Faces Harsh Scrutiny
A top Russian prison official rejected allegations that the system still bears the indelible stamp of the notorious Soviet Gulag. Former prisoners and activists counter that the system remains base…
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Arrest of Arashukovs May Presage the End of Kadyrov’s Rule, Eidman Says
Paul Goble Staunton, February 1 – The arrest of Senator Rauf Arashukov and his father this week, even though some believe Ramzan Kadyrov was behind them given his longstanding conflicts with the Arashukov clan, may in fact reflect a shift in the balance of power between Moscow and Chechnya and presage the ouster of the Chechen leader himself, Igor Eidman says. Even though Vladimir Pastukhov has warned the politics of the North Caucasus are more Byzantine and opaque than those of the Kremlin (, numerous Russian commentators are offering a variety of views as to what these legal moves in the Russian capital mean. Eidman, a sociologist who offers frequent commentaries on Russian politics, provides one of the most intriguing scenarios, one that suggests that Kadyrov, who has made many enemies in Moscow and even apparently infuriated Putin, may finally be facing his end ( That some members of the Russian Federation are thieves and even murderers is no surprise to anyone in Russia; and that someone with a sixth-grade education is part of the Russian elite doesn’t either, the commentator says. Consequently, instead of talking about that, Russians are asking why did this happen? It is clear, Eidman says, that “the arrest of the clan of the Arashukovs was not accidental or a PR action. [Instead,] this was the result of the sharpening conflict of federal and regional (above all North Caucasian) criminal groups.” “A war is going on for control over financial flows,” he says, that is, a battle for the chance to seize as much of Russia’s natural resources and budgetary money as possible without being punished. In this clash, “the federals (Putin’s chekists and their partners) are clearly winning. In their hands, everything capable of generating a profit is being concentrated.” In many parts of Russia, Putin appointees have divided up corrupt business “in their favor, and local thieves in law in the role of governors and mayors have been arrested or otherwise removed.” That pattern is now spreading to the North Caucasus, the last region where this has begun, as can be seen in the case of Daghestan. Muscovites in the Gazprom empire apparently decided that the Arashukovs were in the way and had to be removed. “There is ever less money in the country and the Muscovites don’t have enough for themselves,” Eidman continues. But with that clan being shoved out of the way, there “remains “only one powerful regional clan – Kadyrov’s group.” In one sense, Kadyrov may have been pleased by the moves against the Arashukovs because that leaves him without a strong local competitor, but the Chechen leader now finds himself alone against Moscow, and his “activities and appetites have offended Moscow’s siloviki for a long time.” Even “Putin himself,” Eidman suggests, “can’t but be angry at the semi-independent existence of the Kadyrov satrapy which collects tribute form the imperial treasury.” And if Putin turns on Kadyrov, Kadyrov is lost. He has survived only because Putin “has viewed him as the guarantor of stability in Chechnya. But now the situation has changed.” In fact, the commentator suggests, it is the classic case of “the Moor has done his work; the Moor can go.” According to Eidman, “Kadyrov’s place now can be occupied by any Chechen silovik, who has been recruited by the FSB. The private Kadyrov army will be loyal to anyone who pays it well. These people have become accustomed to money and the good life. They will not go into the mountains.” And “with a new and less ambitious Chechen representative, the center will find it mch easer to deal” – and what is perhaps even more important, such a Chechen leader will cost the center far less than “the great and horrible Ramzan.”
Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Optimization’ Means ‘Liquidation,’ Pomors Say, and ‘We Don’t Want to Be Liquidated’
Paul Goble Staunton, February 6 – Residents of Nyukhcha, a Pomor village in Karelia, recognizing that when Moscow says “optimization,” it means “liquidation,” have successfully stood up to Petrozvodsk’s plans to shut down the local school in the name of saving money and ship off its remaining pupils to a residential facility elsewhere. Residents, many of whom declared themselves to be Pomors in the last census despite Russian efforts to downplay that identity as distinct from Russian, collected 50,000 signatures against the closure of the school and staged protest meetings despite warnings from officials that such assemblies were a violation of the law ( Despite this threat of legal action, officials backed down and announced three days ago that the Nyukhcha school will remain in operation. But local people no longer trust the officials and say they will keep up their protests and take other actions to ensure that their local school won’t be “optimized” out of existence. “We know that ‘optimization’ is a euphemism for ‘liquidation,’” local activist Konstantin Popova says. “We do not want to be liquidated!” If anyone is to be “optimized,” he said, let it be the officials in the republic education. Most of them do no useful work. “Optimize” them and thus save the schools and the people.” He continued: “We will not allow them to reduce and optimize us! We have been living here 500 years and intend to continue to live here.” He and others are taking additional steps to ensure that is so: A few weeks ago, residents created an 11-member council to promote the development of the village.” “In fact,” Valery Potashov says, “the appearance [of this body] has become the first step toward the restoration of local self-administration which was liquidated six years ago. Then the old Pomor village lost is administrative independence. Now, everything will depend on whether the residents take the next step” and demand self-administration for Karelia as a whole.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Did Yeltsin Really Plan to Create Seven Ethnic Russian Republics to Counter Non-Russian Ones?
Paul Goble Staunton, February 3 – One of the murkier periods of the last years of the Soviet Union involves what Boris Yeltsin appears to have been planning to do to counter Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts to weaken the president of the RSFSR by elevating the status of the autonomous republics within it to that of the union republics, Vadim Shtepa says. Gorbachev’s move is well-known and was clearly intended to weaken the RSFSR by allowing the non-Russian republics not only to sign a new union treaty but to exit the Russian republic by gaining the right that the union republics had on paper – and later exercised – to leave the USSR as a whole. Nearly a decade ago, Russian nationalist commentator Aleksey Shiropayev said that Yeltsin in February 1990 had told the Urals Polytechnic Institute that “within the RSFSR after a referendum could be formed seven ethnic Russian republics: Central Russia, North, South, Volga, Urals, Siberia, and the Far East” ( Shiropayev cites as his source, Russkaya mysl, February 16, 1990. He further specifies that this publication appeared in New York. At that time, there was a Russkaya mysl in Paris but the one in New York appeared only the next year, raising the possibility that this whole case is apocryphal, Shtepa, the editor of Region.Expert says ( That is especially the case because Yeltsin’s remark was not reported in any Soviet news outlet, something perhaps not surprising given Gorbachev’s power and the extreme sensitivity of any discussion of creating new republics, especially ethnic Russian ones, even at the time of glasnost. But let us assume that Yeltsin really said these words, Shtepa says. “Theoretically,” that makes sense in the context of his struggle with Gorbachev. But what Yeltsin appears to have been proposing would have led to the end of a single Russian republic just as surely as what Gorbachev was. Indeed, it would have destroyed it far more fundamentally. After the USSR disintegrated and the Russian Federation gained independence, Yeltsin forgot about this possibility. Indeed, he moved in the opposite direction, going to war against Chechnya and banning efforts to form a Urals Republic from below, fearful of moves he was prepared to use to come to power. Shtepa cites the words of US-based Russian journalist who is from the Urals that Yeltsin acted as he did against the Urals Republic and other such projects precisely because his entourage feared that the formation of a multitude of ethnic Russian republics would lead to the disintegration of Russia ( That logic had a curious outcome: it ensured that Yeltsin’s successor would be even more centralist and hostile to such ideas; but at the same time, it opened the way for the idea of “’seven Russian republics’” to take on a new life in the form of the federal districts headed by presidential plenipotentiaries Vladimir Putin created early on in his rule. While Putin has no such intention, these proto-republics could acquire new powers and new importance in a post-Putin world and become the basis for a federation or confederation of Russian and non-Russian republics, Shtepa concludes. Stranger things have happened as Yeltsin’s reported words in 1990 show.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Constitution Suffers from a Fundamental Defect, Shaburov Says
Paul Goble Staunton, February 3 – The arrest without any preliminaries of Federation Council member Rauf Arushukov on the floor of that body calls attention to a problem that is characteristic of the Russian Constitution as a whole: it is so vaguely worded that no one can abide by it, according to Yekaterinburg commentator Aleksey Shaburov. Many people believe that “’we have a good Constitution: it is only necessary to observe it,’” he says. “Alas, in many cases, there is simply nothing to observe” because the document fails to specify how the most important issues are to be handled and thus leaves open the path to extreme arbitrariness ( The Arushokov case calls attention to this problem with regard to the Federation Council, he continues; and the situation that body finds itself constitutionally and legally is so undefined that since his arrest, a number of people have called for the disbandment of that upper chamber of the parliament entirely. “One can understand these emotions,” Shaburov says. “The Federation Council for a long time already has been viewed as an organ to which typically are dispatched retired governors of siloviki, that is, as something like a club of political pensioners.” But if things were quiet there in the past, now they very much aren’t. The body has enormous powers at least on paper – it must agree to the imposition of martial law, it has to approve the dispatch of military forces abroad, it names the procurator general and the judges of the Constitutional Court, and it would be the place where a trial would be held if the president were impeached. But despite these enormous powers, the 1993 Constitution does not specify how its members are to be chosen. Instead, the authors of that document kicked the can down the road and allowed for the parliament to decide that question. As a result, the Federation Council has gone through several stages, and there is nothing to prevent that from happening again. If this were true only of the Federation Council, that would be one thing, Shaburov says. But it is true of many aspects of the basic law. Indeed, it is “one of the essential defects of thee Russian Constitution.” It is so poorly written that the powers that be can change the system and still claim to be operating within its provisions. In short, the Russian basic law is not really a constitution that provides a framework for other laws, limiting what can be done by law. Instead, it constitutes an invitation for legal changes that subvert the overall intentions of the Constitution and open the door to the most dangerous forms of revision without any constitutional sanction.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Could Russian-Speaking Tatars Become the Irish of the Middle Volga?
Paul Goble Staunton, February 3 – One of the operating assumptions of the Kremlin and one of the greatest fears of non-Russians is that nations who lose their language will soon cease to exist. But that is not necessarily the case: those who give up their native languages may in fact become more committed to the survival of their nation than those who do not. The Irish are a classic case of a people that did not become nationalist until they stopped speaking Gaelic and began speaking the language of the English occupiers. And in Soviet times, non-Russians who learned Russian well found out first hand that Moscow’s discriminatory policies against them were based not on language but on ethnicity. That is not to say that any nation should want to see its language be supplanted by an imperial one. Such a position would be absurd. But committed nationalists need to reflect on their relationship with those of their people who have stopped speaking their native language and started using the imperial one. Otherwise, such nationalists will be conceding the loss of such people to the nation and make the task of those at the imperial center who want to destroy their nationhood all the easier. And they should be inspired by some historical examples. The British did not lose India because of Hindi-speaking peasants but because of an English-trained lawyer named Gandhi. Not surprisingly, talking about such things is rarely easy for nationalists who would prefer to see their national language survive along with their nation and who aren’t going to give up that idea. That makes a new article by Tatar activist Rustam Batyr about this issue especially important ( In Kazan’s Business-Gazeta, Batyr says that the future of the Tatar nation depends booth on language and Islam. Without them, its future is highly problematic. But at the same time, “the death of the language does not equal the death of the people … Therefore, the question, ‘What is to be done with Russian-language Tatars?’ must not be avoided … but put among the first.” Unfortunately, he continues, that is not happening. The Strategy for the Development of the Tatar People does not address it, and those behind the strategy in the Tatarstan government dismiss the importance of Islam to the nation’s survival and make language not only a key but the only basis for the Tatars to continue to exist. “Beyond doubt,” Batyr says, “language is important for our people. Rephrasing Heidigger, one can say that the Tatar language is the national form of existence of the Tatars.” But “to focus exclusively on language by transforming it into the key criterion of ‘Tatarness’ is extremely shortsighted.” And “if we are talking about a strategy to secure the future of the Tatar people, putting all our eggs into one basic is dangerous and even criminal,” the activist says. “Besides language, we must have other bases for our existence. Islam is the chief among them.” According to Batyr, “the death of a language does not mean the death of a people. The Jews are confirmation of this. However, our secular nationalists are so occupied with ritual dancers around the Tatar language that they do not notice the obvious.” Many Tatars don’t speak Tatar now and even fewer will do so in the future. “For the devotees of the cult of language, Russian-speaking Tatars are an anomaly which shouldn’t exist, a terrible dream from which they want to turn aside.” But that is to ignore that “already now, an enormous share of Tatars does not speak Tatar. Scholars put their number around 20 percent of the total number of the people.” In fact, Batyr says, the real number is likely higher. “Therefore, the question, ‘what to do with Russian-speaking Tatars?’ must not be avoided but put among the very first for Russian-speaking Tatars are nothing other than the future of Tatars. And this means that we must hink about how to retain them within the nation.” Language is important, “but let us be honest: if we in the republic are not able to keep the language in the schools … then we have even fewer possibilities of doing so beyond its borders where the major part of Tatars now live.” And if we reduce identity to language, we put ourselves on the direct path to “self-destruction.” Calling for families to promote Tatar are nothing more than “beautiful rhetoric which does not have any relationship to real life for in the majority of mixed Russian-Tatar families, the children speak Russian exclusively.” Such mixed families are a fact of life now, making up perhaps a third of all families; and nothing can be done to stop their appearance. But none of this means that the nation is lost. There is a powerful basis for its continuation, and that basis lies in Islam. Participation in Islamic religious life is “like an umbilical cord” which links an individual with his people, history and culture even if he does not speak the language. Many Tatars, of course, are secular or even atheist; and there are many worthy people among these groups. But many Russian-speaking Tatars are Muslims, something many who push language above everything else find impossible to imagine. They forget that “religion even without language can support national self-consciousness.” To be sure, Batyr says, “not just any conception of Islam serves the goal of the self-preservation of Tatars. Part of the Muslim theologians openly speak against national modes of life.” But Islam understood properly can serve as the basis for the continued existence and even growth of the Tatar nation, even if parts of it speak Russian rather than Tatar. The emergence of that kind of Islam needs to be promoted, but the new Strategy document doesn’t even mention religion.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Ten ‘Only in Russia’ Stories for the Week
Paul Goble Staunton, February 2 – The Russian media constantly reports amazing things, some of which are amazing in and of themselves and some of which say a great deal about the state of that country and what sets it apart from the rest of the world. Ten such stories which appeared in the last few days deserve mention at least in passing: 1. In Russia, it is now big news that pollsters are now reporting bad news, something most of them avoided doing until recently ( 2. A Russian singer from Bashkortostan says that Orthodox church hymns shaped the USSR national anthem ( 3. The recent spate of telephone bomb threats has had at least one positive consequence: the mangers of an office building have evicted a Russian troll farm to avoid being subject to such “attacks” in the future ( 4. United Russia, the party of power that does everything it can to promote memories of World War II, has announced that it wants to tear down a war memorial because fixing it up would be “too expensive” ( 5. China has Now Purchased Moscow’s historic Pekin Restaurant. A Chinese firm now owns one of the most prominent landmarks in the Russian capital, the Pekin Restaurant ( Of course, this is not just a Russian story: China has purchased the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York as well. But more seriously, Russians are likely to be alarmed by this and by the fact that Chinese men are increasingly turning to Russian women to serve as surrogate mothers for their children ( 6. Despite all the problems it has had with drunken passengers, Aeroflot has announced that it will bring back free alcohol for economy class passengers, likely making its unfriendly skies even less friendly in the process ( 7. In Chelyabinsk, a man earlier convicted of cannibalism has been working as a doctor under false papers ( 8. A Russian man who has won awards for his appearance in pornography films made abroad has declared that despite all that he remains a deeply committed Russian patriot ( 9. Russia’s top government investigators say they will now look into the deaths 60 years ago of the Dyatlov party. Some wits have suggested that this proclivity for avoiding investigations of more recent deaths in favor of looking into at cases like this one in which all the possible accused have passed from the scene should lead Moscow to investigate much earlier unsolved cases like “who killed the dynosaurs?” ( and 10. And finally, a Siberian village has decided to try to save itself by celebrating the GULAG and thus attracting attention and visitors. The residents say they aren’t Stalinists but just committed capitalists who want to make some money (
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Circassians Seek International Recognition as an Expelled People
Paul Goble Staunton, February 2 – More than five million Circassians live outside of the Russian Federation, the result of the tsarist genocide in which their ancestors were expelled in 1864. Only about 750,000 Circassians still live in the North Caucasus, and fewer than 4,000 Circassians have been allowed to return to their homeland by Russian officials. Now, Russian officials are seeking to deport some of those Moscow earlier allowed to return, on what appear to be trumped up charges that are to be held in closed courts because, officials say, state secrets are involved, and that almost certainly are intended to send a message that no more Circassians should bother applying. Moscow appears to have two reasons for opposing the return of Circassians, many of whom live in war-torn Syria. On the one hand, Russian officials fear that some of those returning may bring Islamist values with them and thus undermine Russian security. And on the other, Moscow does not want a mass return that could tilt the ethnic balance in the North Caucasus. Circassians and Circassian activists are worried about the new moves to deport Circassians who have been able to return and are considering what can be done to prevent yet another injustice being visited upon this long-suffering people. Anzor Tamov of the Kavkazr portal interviewed three Circassian activists about what is going on and what Circassians and the international community need to do to prevent the situation from getting worse ( Beslan Khagazhey, a lawyer who works with the Peryt Organization, says that the North Caucasus is “the historic homeland of the Circassians and here they must have the status of compatriots and have equal rights. All that the Circassians want is the right to live legally in their own home.” A second lawyer from Adygeya who spoke on condition of anonymity said that at present “international law on the Circassian question isn’t working.” The rights of the Circassians are being violated, although in a few cases the Circassian applicants have made mistakes that allow under Russian law for expulsion. But the head of the Kabardin Congress Aslan Beshto said something needs to be done and soon. Circassians have a good reputation in many countries. “In Europe, America, and in the Middle East, they work for the good of their motherlands. They are Circassians only in terms of ethnic self-consciousness. They have no legal status as Circassians as such.” One consequence of that, he said, is that they are treated as refugees from the countries they had been living and as having the identity of the majority population, that is, as Arabs if from Syria and Turks if from Turkey. Sometimes the reputation of these groups works against the Circassians. Beshto called for international recognition of the Circassians as an expelled people. That is necessary, he continued, to stop assimilation and to preserve national identity. And not less it would put the world on the side of those Circassians who want to return from the diaspora to the homeland in the North Caucasus from which they were expelled.
Death Of A Station: The Rise And Fall Of Free Media In Russia
TV2 in Tomsk, Siberia, was among the last free and independent regional media outlets in Russia. But the company’s unfettered journalism was not in sync with the country’s increasingly restrictive political climate. The station’s broadcasts were shut down at the end of 2014. The story of Tomsk TV starkly illustrates both the power of a free press and how it can be silenced.
Russian Authorities Detain Reporter Over Commentary On Bombing
Russian authorities have opened a criminal investigation into a reporter for her commentary on a bombing that occurred last year outside the regional offices of Russia’s domestic security agency.
Navalny Ridicules Rumors He Met With ‘Putin’s Chef’ In St. Petersburg
After bloggers spread rumors that he met with Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as ‘Putin’s Chef’, while in St. Petersburg, anticorruption activist and opposition politician Aleksei Navalny struck back on s…
He said, he said ‘Meduza’ fact-checks reports that ‘Putin’s chef’ met with opposition leader Navalny — Meduza
“Evgeny Viktorovich [Prigozhin] said that one of the topics discussed was Alexey Navalny’s offer to put a stop to his [Anti-Corruption Foundation’s] attacks on the school lunch issue in exchange for loyalty to Navalny’s team in St. Petersburg’s municipal elections. Evgeny Viktorovich answered him by saying, “I wouldn’t trade a soldier for a marshal.”
Less Keynes, More Love: Russian Economics Textbook Pulled For Not Praising The Motherland
A Russian high-school textbook on economics has been ordered to undergo revisions after an expert panel concluded it was not patriotic enough.
78 separate incidents Two former United Russia lawmakers in Astrakhan face multiple felony charges for sexually abusing, raping, and filming children — Meduza
In Astrakhan, court proceedings are underway against Vitaly Kurskov and Igor Poplevko, two former regional lawmakers from United Russia. The men are charged with heinous crimes against minors and the trial is closed to the public. Federal investigators cite 78 separate incidents where the suspects raped or sexually abused children. Kurskov and Poplevko filmed and photographed their crimes, as well. A 20-year-old woman who acted as an accomplice by bringing children to Kurskov’s apartment — including her own nephews — has already been sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Moscow Student Rearrested After Brief Release From Detention Following Torture Claims
Azat Miftakhov, a postgraduate mathematics student at Moscow State University who says he was tortured under detention on bomb-making accusations, has been rearrested after a brief release from custody.
ECHR Rulings In 2018
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) issued judgements on 1,014 cases last year. Nearly one-quarter of them were from Russia.
Fear And Loathing In Russia’s Dying ‘Las Vegas’ 
A Kremlin-backed gambling zone injected economic life into a struggling Russian backwater. But after federal officials pulled the plug on the project, locals are worrying how they’ll make ends meet. SHABELSKOYE, Russia — For several years, things were looking up for Viktoria Mityushkina and her family in this southern village on the shores of the Azov Sea — mainly thanks to the gamblers flocking to the barren steppe just up the road. Mityushkina, 37, worked for one of the three casinos at Azov-City, which opened in 2010 under a Kremlin initiative to establish a handful of Las Vegas-style hubs for gambling while banning it everywhere else. The stated aim of the move, which eliminated casinos and slot halls that sprouted up seemingly everywhere in Russia following the Soviet collapse, was in part to inject economic life into far-flung, underdeveloped regions. “I became the chef’s assistant for the buffet, worked with clients, cooked for them at a live station,” the mother of two told RFE/RL’s Russian Service in a recent interview. Mityushkina’s husband stayed home with the children while she worked. Men in this town in Russia’s Krasnodar region often leave for itinerant work to pay the bills. But Mityushkina didn’t want the family separated, and she earned enough at the casino to support them.
Riot Reported At Prison In Russia’s Saratov Region
Prison officials in Russia say the situation is under control at prison IK-7 in the Saratov region after hundreds of inmates rioted earlier on February 1.
Chechen Refugee Vows To Sue Over Report He Was Caught Up In ‘Gay Purge’
A Chechen man mentioned by name in a Novaya gazeta article about the alleged persecution of gay men by Chechen security forces plans to sue the paper for defamation.
Moscow Activists Defiant After City Bans ‘Rally Of Maternal Anger’
City authorities say protest organizers missed the deadline to request official permission for a rally. The organizers say they plan to take to the streets regardless.
Trial Of Russian Director Serebrennikov Suspended After Judge Orders New Experts
The embezzlement trial of Russian theater and film director Kirill Serebrennikov has been suspended after the judge ordered new research of the groups’ activities.
The Ironworks Are Gone, But The Show Must Go On
In Krasny Sulin in Russia’s Rostov region, an amateur theater company set up by the founder of the town’s ironworks is still performing, almost a decade after the plant was shut down and broken up for scrap.
Jailed Former Russian Intelligence Officer Kvachkov To Be Released
A jailed former Russian intelligence officer’s conviction for incitement of hatred has been annulled after the extremism article in the Criminal Code was partially decriminalized.
The Tragic Death Of Tomsk’s Beloved Puppet Master
Tomsk’s beloved puppeteer, Vladimir Zakharov, built and ran his own theater in the Siberian city after switching from robotics to puppetry in the 1990s. He died tragically in early February while trying to save his puppets after his workshop caught fire.
Probe Launched Into Death Of Russian Rapper ‘Detsl’
Russian officials said an investigation has been launched into the death of well-known hip hop artist Detsl.
Fire In Central Moscow Apartment Building Kills At Least Four
A fire at a building in central Moscow has killed at least four people, emergency services officials say.
Heading Home? Daghestani Relatives Hoping Russia Will Return Legendary Warrior’s Skull
The skull of the legendary Caucasian warrior Hadji Murad — who was beheaded by Russian troops in the 19th century — is one step closer to being returned to his relatives in Daghestan, Russian officials say.
Cape Verde Seizes 10 Tons Of Cocaine, Arrests Russian Sailors
Police in the Atlantic archipelago of Cape Verde say they have seized nearly 10 tons of cocaine and arrested 11 Russian sailors aboard a vessel docked in the capital.
Drop In The Bucket: Russian Water Carrier Quenches Villagers’ Thirst
Sergei Amelchenko braves snow, ice, and cold to bring clean drinking water to remote villages in Russia’s Krasnoyarsk region.
Sports Court Bans 12 Russian Athletes For Doping
A dozen Russian athletes have been found guilty of doping and have been suspended for terms ranging from two to eight years.
Russian Investigators Reopen Mysterious 1959 Dyatlov Pass Case
The Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office has reopened the investigation into the mysterious deaths of nine young hikers in the Ural Mountains some 60 years ago.
Russian Woman Found Guilty In High-Profile ‘Krasnodar Cannibals’ Case
A Russian woman has been found guilty of incitement to murder and dismemberment of a person in a high-profile case known as the “Krasnodar cannibals.”

Central Asia / Caucasus Reports



Second Base? Lavrov Suggests Moscow Open To Discussing New Military Facility In Kyrgyzstan
ussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says that Bishkek has not asked Moscow to open a second military base in Kyrgyzstan, but suggested that Russia is open to discussing the idea.
Kyrgyz Security Chief Says Bishkek Not Considering Another Russian Military Base
Kyrgyzstan’s top security official says Bishkek is not looking into the possibility of having a second Russian military base on its territory.
Son Of Ex-Kyrgyz Envoy Jailed For Three Years For U.S. Weapons Smuggling
The son of the former Kyrgyz ambassador to the United States has been sentenced to three years in a U.S. prison after he pleaded guilty to trying to smuggle weapons to Chechnya.
Window on Eurasia — New Series: Shift from Cyrillic to Latin Script Affected Azerbaijanis’ Sense of Who They Are, Inandzh Says
Paul Goble Staunton, February 2 – It is often argued that the script in which people write their language does not affect how those who use it see themselves, but Gulnara Inandzh, the head of Baku’s Ethnoglobus Center, says the shift from Cyrillic to Latin script had a profound impact on the identities of Azerbaijanis. “Azerbaijan,” she writes, “shifted from Cyrillic to Latin script immediately after the declaration of independence. The transition process in those years took place spontaneously and was connected with heightened national feeling and the slogans of unity with the Turkic world” (азербайджан-был-первооткрывателем-на-пути-к-переходу-с-кириллицы-на-латинскую-графику). It also led the Azerbaijanis to give up any Soviet “consciousness,” although it has not prevented a certain nostalgia for the past, Inandzh says. Russian language and culture receded in importance at least in comparison with Turkish. The downside was that it provoked separatism in the northern and southern regions of Azerbaijan. Turkishness was the dominant theme of the first years of independence, but “with the coming to power of Heydar Aliyev,” the Constitution specified that the state language was Azerbaijani and citizenship was Azerbaijani, not Turkish and Turkish. It took approximately ten years to make the transition in the script used in school textbooks. Today, Inandzh says, “all the problems are behind” Azerbaijan. And there are even computer programs which “automatically translate texts in Azerbaijani from Cyrillic to Latin script.” Not only has the shift increased interest in Turkish but it has also increased the number of Azerbaijanis studying and learning Western languages. At the same time, Azerbaijanis can study Russian as a foreign language and there are Russian sectors in middle and higher schools and the media. “There are not even any obstacles to scholarly work at the Azerbaijani Academy of Sciences being conducted in Russia,” the close observer of ethnic developments in that country says. Thus, what some countries in Central Asia are going through now, Azerbaijan has already experienced and passed through. But because Azerbaijan moved so quickly and on a popular basis to Latin script, there is no possibility of a return to the Cyrillic at any point in the future. “Had there been a more liberal policy relative to the Latin script in the 1990s,” Inandzh says, “we might up to now still be deciding whether to use or not use the Latin script.”

Belarus Reports



UAWire – Hungary may oppose EU arms embargo on Belarus
EU ambassadors will soon discuss the extension of the embargo on selling weapons to Belarus. The matter has been reviewed annually since 2011, …
Shhh! Belarus Wants You to Think It’s Turning Over a New Leaf – Foreign Policy
Minsk’s muddled media clampdown could jeopardize warming of relations with the West.
Belarusian model: I gave info on Trump to Russian tycoon – AOL News
A Belarusian model who claims to have information on ties between Russia and President Trump’s election campaign gave that material to a Russian oligarch.
Belarus Police Bust ‘Biggest Marijuana Operation In Years’
Authorities in Belarus say they have busted “the largest marijuana production [operation] in years.”
Hungary Holding Back On Vote On Belarus Arms-Embargo Extension
Hungary is once again threatening to poke a hole in the European Union’s long-standing arms embargo against Belarus, sources not authorized to speak on the record have told RFE/RL.

Transnistria / Moldova Reports



Britain Seizes $650 Million From Son Of Jailed Former Moldovan Prime Minister
A court in Britain has ordered the son of former Prime Minister Vladimir Filat to hand over $650 million following an investigation by Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA).



Russia / Iran / Syria / Iraq / OEF Reports



UAWire – Media: Russia detained hundreds of Iranian military in Syria
A large number of Iranian troops and representatives of the Shiite armed groups supporting Bashar Assad are detained in the Russian base in Khmeimim (Syria). The number of detained is in the hundreds, reports Saudi television channel Al-Arabia citing the Syrian center for human rights monitoring. Among the detained are dozens of commanders. Al-Arabia suggests that the wave of arrests may be in connection with a battle in the Syrian city Sha’ta. According to German outlet Spiegel, Moscow and Tehran have a direct military confrontation in Syria. Following the clashes between the two sides, the number of dead is in the hundreds.
If this report is accurate, and it’s only 20 minutes old, this marks a major departure from the status quo. If Iranian forces are being attacked, perhaps this may mark a break in the relations between Russia and Iran. This also may be Russia emphasizing that Syria is not a place where Iran belongs. This may be backed up by the disclosure of this event by an anonymous Syrian official. If Russia blew up bridges, that is deliberate targeting. This is no accident. Regardless of the reason, and that will certainly follow, this looks like a major change. There are no corroborating reports, at this point. </end editorial>

World War 3: Iran orders Donald Trump to withdraw US troops from Syria | World | News |
IRAN has ordered the US to withdraw its military forces from Syria “whether you want to or not”, in a direct challenge to American authority.
Hassan Rouhani: US must ‘repent’ if it wants ties with Iran | News | Al Jazeera
Comments come after US president this week called Iran the ‘number one terrorist nation in the world’.
U.S. supports ‘dictators, butchers and extremists’ in Middle East, says Iran | Reuters
The United States supports “dictators, butchers and extremists” in the Middle East, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a Twitter post Wednesday in a response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.
US vows ‘relentless’ action to deter Iran missile programme | Iran News | Al Jazeera
State Department slams Tehran’s latest move but Revolutionary Guard chief says new missiles part of defensive posture.
Trump’s Iran Terror Comments Draw Ire in Tehran – WSJ
Iran hit back at President Trump’s State of the Union address in which he called Tehran the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, saying the U.S. has a history of backing brutal regimes in the Middle East.
Iran reveals missile, shows off underground factory | Reuters
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards inaugurated a surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 1,000 km (621 miles), the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Thursday, ignoring demands Western demands that Tehran halt its missile program.
Iran Hits Back at Trump: ”We Protect Our Jews” – JOL
Iran to increase range of land-to-sea missiles – Middle East – Jerusalem Post
Tehran has continued to work on their missile projects despite American sanctions.
Iran claims it launched new cruise missile on anniversary of revolution: report | Fox News
Iran on Saturday claimed it had successfully tested a new cruise missile with an 800-mile range during celebrations that marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Iran unveils new cruise missile with 800-mile range to mark revolution’s 40th anniversary | The Independent
Iran has unveiled a new cruise missile with a range of 800 miles (1,300km), state television reported, as the Middle Eastern country displays its achievements during celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution
Iran unveils new long-range cruise missile | TheHill
Iran unveiled a new long-range cruise missile Saturday during celebrations marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, state television reported.
‘Death to America’ aimed at Trump, not American nation, Iran leader says | Reuters
Iranians will chant “Death to America” as long as Washington continues its hostile policies, but the slogan is directed at President Donald Trump and U.S. leaders, not the American nation, Iran’s supreme leader said on Friday.
Iran warns Israel of ‘firm’ response to air raids in Syria | Israel News | Al Jazeera
Israel, which views Iran as its biggest security threat, has repeatedly attacked Iranian targets in Syria.
Iran shows military might amid anniversary | Iran News | Al Jazeera
On the 40th anniversary of the revolution, the country’s leaders try to convince the world of prowess gained since the Iran-Iraq war.
While E.U. tries to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran, Trump administration amps up pressure – The Washington Post
Both sides are escalating their fight to determine the fate of the 2015 nuclear accord.
Attack on paramilitary base as Iran marks revolution anniversary | Iran News | Al Jazeera
Assailants kill a member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and injure five in attack on Basij base in southeastern Iran.
Iran Revolutionary Guard killed in attack during 40th anniversary of Islamic Revolution | World | News |
ONE member of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards was killed and five were wounded in an attack on a base in southeastern Iran on Saturday, Iranian media reported, as the country holds official celebrations on the 40th anniversary of its Islamic Revolution.
How Iran Keeps Its Aging F-5 Fleet Alive | Combat Aircraft content from Aviation Week
Though cut off from the Western supply chain, Iran has upgraded the Northrop fighters it purchased in 1979.
Iranian Satellite Launch Fails : NPR
The rocket was supposed to carry a small satellite into orbit. The suspected failure comes just weeks after another launch attempt fell short.
Iran criticizes Greece, Italy for not buying its oil despite U.S. waivers | Reuters
Iran’s oil minister on Tuesday criticized Greece and Italy for not buying its oil despite U.S. waivers and said they had not offered Tehran any explanation for their decision.
PA says Warsaw Middle East conference is ‘US conspiracy’ – Israel National News
Palestinian Authority rejects US-led conference on Middle East peace and security due to take place next week in Warsaw.
Ambassador: Iran supports territorial integrity of Ukraine
Iran supports territorial integrity of Ukraine on the basis of the international law. — Ukrinform.
Britain, France, and Germany are ignoring Trump while they look to trade with Iran and honour the 2015 Obama nuclear deal | Business Insider
In a major diplomatic and strategic split from the administration of US President Donald Trump, NATO and European allies, Britain, Germany, and France – or the E3, as they have referred to themselves – on Thursday announced a channel that circumvents intense US sanctions and effectively opens trade with Iran.
Trump’s new conflict with Europe – The Washington Post
Britain, France and Germany have issued a major challenge to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Iran’s first president says Khomeini betrayed 1979 Islamic revolution | Reuters
Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini betrayed the principles of the Iranian revolution after sweeping to power in 1979, his first president told Reuters, leaving a “very bitter” taste among some of those who had returned with him to Tehran in triumph. Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, a sworn opponent of Tehran’s clerical rulers ever since being driven from office and fleeing abroad in 1981, recalled how 40 years ago in Paris, he had been convinced that the religious leader’s Islamic revolution would pave the way for democracy and human rights after the rule of the Shah. “When we were in France everything we said to him he embraced and then announced it like Koranic verses without any hesitation,” Bani-Sadr, now 85, said in an interview at his home in Versailles, outside Paris, where he has lived since 1981. “We were sure that a religious leader was committing himself and that all these principles would happen for the first time in our history,” he said. Khomeini fled Iran in the mid-1960s, fearing a crackdown on his teachings by the Shah, eventually settling in a modest house in a village outside Paris from where he fomented unrest in Iran and nurtured the future Islamist revolution. Bani-Sadr, son of a senior Shi’ite Muslim cleric and a former student of economics in Paris, had close family ties with Khomeini and helped him move to France after periods in Turkey and Iraq, becoming one of his closest aides. “France was the crossroads of ideas and information, which is why he picked it after Kuwait refused to take him,” Bani-Sadr said. “When he was in France he was on the side of freedom. He was scared that the movement wouldn’t reach its conclusion and he’d be forced to stay there.”
Iran Oil Industry Faces Bleak Outlook 40 Years After Revolution – Bloomberg
As Iran’s Islamic Republic enters a fifth decade, its energy industry has little to celebrate. The country’s crude output has yet to recover to pre-revolution levels and is unlikely to do so for many years, even without U.S. sanctions.
Four decades after its revolution, Iran is still stuck in the past – The shadow of 1979
FOR A FEW tense moments it seemed as if the flight carrying Ayatollah Khomeini back to Iran would not make it. Two weeks had passed since the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, had left the country amid enormous protests against his autocratic rule.
American sanctions on Iran keep the mullahs mighty – The Iranian revolution at 40
THE CRY of “Death to America!” has rung out in Tehran every Friday since the Islamic revolution of 1979. But the ritual is hollow. The mullahs know they have failed their people.
Torture still scars Iranians 40 years after revolution
A prison where the shahs lieutenants routinely brutally beat inmates viewed as opponents of the regime is now a museum to the horrors that happened there, and while decades have passed since those days, the current rulers are accused of using the same cruel methods.
Forty years on from Iran’s revolution: a judge’s tale | Reuters
Like many Iranians, retired judge Mohammad Reza made big sacrifices to help Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini launch his Islamic Revolution, enduring torture in prison for handing out leaflets calling for an end to the Shah’s long dictatorship.
‘Independence at what price?’: Iran’s ‘revolution babies’ weigh progress since 1979 uprising – Iran –
More than half of Iran’s population is under 35, and all of them deal with the legacy of the revolution that altered the course of their country
Iran ‘to pardon 50,000 prisoners’ for 40th anniversary of revolution | World News | Sky News
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has signed off the release or sentence reduction of a large number of prisoners to mark the revolution.
Iran says it will pardon thousands of prisoners on occasion of revolution’s anniversary | CBC News
A large number of prisoners in Iran will be pardoned on Thursday in honour of the 40th anniversary of the revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on his Twitter account.
Iran may release huge number of prisoners | Fox News
Iranian regime ‘jailed 1.7 million people’ in 30 years after revolution | Arab News
PARIS: Iranian authorities jailed, and sometimes executed, 1.7 million people around the capital Tehran alone in the first 30 years after the 1979 Islamic revolution, according to a leaked file. The number included regime opponents, Baha’is and other religious minorities and at least 860 journalists, media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders said. At least four of the
Iran arrested 860 journalists in post-revolution decades, watchdog says | The Times of Israel
Reporters Without Borders cites confidential records of 1.7 million judicial procedures released by whistle-blowers, says at least four reporters were executed
Leaked files reveal Iran’s post-revolution crackdown on journalists | Reuters
The Iranian government arrested, imprisoned or executed at least 860 journalists in the three decades between the Islamic revolution in 1979 and 2009, according to documents leaked to media monitoring group Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF).
Iran jailed hundreds of journalists after 1979 revolution: RSF | Freedom of the press News | Al Jazeera
Files leaked to media watchdog show at least four journalists were allegedly killed by the government between 1979-2009.
Iranian women – before and after the Islamic Revolution – BBC News
Images show Iranian women pictured before and after the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
My Family’s Iranian Revolution – WSJ
The return of the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 brought joy at first, then despair and dislocation
Iran 1979: Anatomy of a Revolution | Iran | Al Jazeera
A look at the events that triggered the Khomeini movement and led to Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979.

What Putin Really Wants in Syria – Foreign Policy
Russia never sought to be a small-time fixer in the Middle East. Its goal was to reclaim its status as a global power broker.
Putin, Erdogan, Rohani Set For Sochi Summit On Syria
The leaders of Russia, Iran, and Turkey are scheduled to meet at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on February 14 to discuss the situation in Syria, according to Turkish and Russian state media.
Trump Seeks to Reassure Allies on ISIS Fight as Syria Withdrawal Looms – The New York Times
“We will be working with you for many years to come,” the president told international diplomats, acknowledging that ISIS would be a threat even after the last slivers of its territory were reclaimed.
US to pull forces out of Syria by end of April: Report | News | Al Jazeera
Wall Street Journal says US plans to withdraw big part of 2,000 troops by mid-March with full withdrawal by April’s end.
U.S. Military Sets April Target Date for Leaving Syria – WSJ
The Pentagon is preparing to pull all American forces out of Syria by the end of April, even though the Trump administration has yet to come up with a plan to protect its Kurdish partners from attack when they leave, current and former U.S. officials said.
UAWire – Media: the US transferred military equipment to Syria
On Tuesday, February 5th, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported that the United States transferred about 150 trucks with armored vehicles and …
Netanyahu, Putin To Meet To Discuss Iran’s Presence In Syria
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow later this month for talks on Iran’s presence in Syria, the Israeli leader has said.
Erdogan: ‘No satisfactory plan’ with US on Syria safe zone | News | Al Jazeera
Turkish leader says US has not presented acceptable plans for a ‘safe zone’ inside Syria, warns of move on Manbij.
US arms ended up in hands of Iranian-backed rebels, al Qaeda-linked fighters
Saudi Arabia has handed over American-made weapons and technology to al-Qaeda-linked fighters, Iranian-backed rebels and other militant groups waging war in Yemen, violating an agreement with the United States.
Kremlin: Russia, Turkey, Iran leaders to meet in Russia on Feb. 14: RIA | Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet the leaders of Turkey and Iran in the Russian Black Sea resort town Sochi on Feb. 14, RIA news agency reported on Sunday, citing the Kremlin.
‘Unconscionable’: GOP Senate Homeland Security chair torches Trump’s Syria policy – POLITICO
“I think Republican senators are sending a very strong signal to the president,“ Sen. Ron Johnson said.
Syria troop withdrawal divides Donald Trump, Senate Republicans – Washington Times
Senate Republicans and President Trump are very much divided when it comes to pulling U.S. troops out of Syria.
Life under ISIS led these Muslims to Christianity
A church has opened its doors in the Syrian city of Kobani — the first Christian place of worship here for decades.
US-led coalition jets strike Syrian army positions: report | TheHill
The U.S.-led coalition on Saturday struck a Syrian army position, according to Syrian state media.  
US-led coalition jets bomb Syrian Army | Fox News
The America-led coalition bombed elements of the Syrian army in the eastern portion of the country, an official confirmed to Fox News.
Trump’s Plan for U.S. Forces in Iraq Met With Unified Rejection in Baghdad – The New York Times
President Trump’s plan for American troops in Iraq to “watch Iran” was roundly rejected by Iraq’s political establishment, with some calling on Parliament to act quickly to push out the Americans.
Iraq angered by Trump idea to watch Iran from US base – BBC News
Iraq’s president rebukes the US leader for saying he wanted to use Al Asad Airbase to “watch Iran”.
Gabbard: ‘Assad is not the enemy of the United States’ – CNNPolitics
Hawaii Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not the enemy of the United States, standing by her opposition to US involvement in that country’s civil war two years after she met personally with the accused war criminal.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Says Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad Isn’t Enemy Of U.S. | HuffPost Australia
The congresswoman and Democratic presidential contender was engaged in a tense discussion on “Morning Joe.”
Israel begins construction on massive new barrier surrounding Gaza | Fox News
Israel started construction of an “above-ground barrier” that will completely surround the Gaza Strip with the goal to keep terrorists from infiltrating territory, officials said Sunday.

Pope Francis Delivers First Papal Mass On Arabian Peninsula : NPR
His three-day trip was intended to promote religious fraternity and diversity, at a time when long-established Christian communities in the Middle East are dwindling.
Pope and grand imam sign historic pledge of fraternity in UAE | World news | The Guardian
In first papal visit to Arabian peninsula, Francis calls for end to wars in Middle East

Saudi-Commissioned Report Contests U.S. Finding About Khashoggi’s Killing – WSJ
The Saudi government is contesting a prominent element of a CIA assessment that concluded Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman likely ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, as Riyadh seeks to mend its reputation after the journalist’s death.
Year Before Killing, Saudi Prince Told Aide He Would Use ‘a Bullet’ on Jamal Khashoggi – The New York Times
Intercepted communications of Mohammed bin Salman are the most detailed evidence to date that the crown prince considered killing the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
As Hezbollah Rises in Lebanon’s Government, Fears About U.S. Response Follow – The New York Times
The Iran-backed group Hezbollah and its allies took key posts in Lebanon’s new cabinet, raising concerns that American sanctions could entangle state services for an already struggling nation.
Libyan Commander Seizes Shuttered Oil Field – WSJ
A Libyan general has seized the country’s largest oil field, according to officials, cementing control over one of the North African nation’s key economic resources and increasing the likelihood the facility will restart production.

Taliban To Join Moscow Talks Without Afghan Government Officials
The Taliban says it will attend what it calls “intra-Afghan” talks in Moscow designed to bring together prominent Afghan figures, including former President Hamid Karzai, opposition figures, and tribal elders — but no government officials.
Afghans Go to Taliban Talks, but Government Is Still Left Out – The New York Times
Former President Hamid Karzai leads a group of Afghan officials to meet insurgents in Moscow, while President Ashraf Ghani seethes back in Kabul.
Trump’s claims of US success in Afghanistan ring hollow amid Taliban talks, reality on ground – ABC News
President Donald Trump’s claims, in his State of the Union address, of U.S. success in Afghanistan, ring hollow on the ground.
Taliban ‘not seeking to seize whole Afghanistan’ – BBC News
A Taliban official tells the BBC talks are the way forward but insists foreign troops must leave.
Taliban Insists On Foreign-Troop Withdrawal At Moscow Talks
Taliban representatives and an Afghan delegation led by former President Hamid Karzai are holding a second and final day of talks in Moscow, with the militants continuing to insist upon the withdra…
Afghan Taliban Open To Women’s Rights — But Only On Its Terms
The Taliban is attempting to project a softer and more tolerant image as it engages in peace talks with the United States.







Trump, in State of the Union address, announces second Kim summit date | Fox News
President Trump announced Tuesday night during his State of the Union address that he and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will meet later this month in Vietnam. 
Trump to meet North Korean leader Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam – ABC News
Donald Trump – Kim Jong Un summit in Vietnam; why the communist Asian nation was chosen – CBS News
The U.S. and North Korea have agreed on the small communist nation for reasons including security and symbolism
North Korea: Place and date of second Trump-Kim summit ‘to be revealed’ as US envoy visits Pyongyang | The Independent
A senior US diplomat is to travel to Pyongyang to prepare for Donald Trump’s second summit with Kim Jong-un, and is expected to announce the date and location of the much-anticipated meeting.
North Korea and America’s Second Summit: Here’s What John Van Oudenaren Thinks Will Happen | The National Interest
“We ourselves determine our own fate,” — Address by Moon Jae-in to the citizens of Pyongyang, September 20, 2018.
North Korea is hiding nuclear weapons says United Nations report – CNN
A confidential United Nations report reveals North Korea’s “massive increase” in illegal petroleum and coal sales, a strategy to hide nuclear weapons from potential US strikes, and weapons sales to Libya, Sudan and Houthi rebels in Yemen.
World War 3: North Korea’s nuclear weapons remain intact despite Kim-Trump agreement | World | News |
NORTH KOREA’s nuclear missile program has remained intact and the country is actively devising ways of making it’s nuclear capabilities indestructible.
North Korea pushing flag at center of new loyalty campaign | Fox News
North Korea is stepping up a new loyalty campaign as leader Kim Jong Un prepares for his second summit with President Donald Trump.

The Unpredictable Rise of China – Defense One
Xi Jinping seeks national rejuvenation, but his nation’s mounting power masks increased instability.
The Hidden Benefits of Great-Power Conflict with China and Russia | The National Interest
The western discourse on the negative or threatening aspects of the ongoing Beijing and Moscow gray-zone operations is based on a faulty understanding of statecraft or grand strategy.
The US Needs a Real Plan to Counter China in Africa – Defense One
The current toothless strategy won’t prevent Beijing from, say, squeezing supply lines to America\’s biggest African base.
Responsible competition and the future of U.S.-China relations
While there is little doubt that China’s domestic turn toward authoritarianism and its foreign policy assertiveness pose growing challenges to U.S. interests, the gathering momentum toward thinking about U.S.-China ties in the context of inescapable confrontation raises more questions than answers.
The Chinese Communist Party Always Needs An Enemy – Foreign Policy
Xinjiang’s detainees are the latest victims of a deep insecurity.
Trump’s trade war isn’t about trade anymore — it’s plainly about beating China in the next great war | Business Insider
President Donald Trump’s Thursday chat with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at the White House revealed something that insiders have long known: Trade figures like the deficit are red herrings, and the real fight between China and the US is over the future of tech and, by extension, who will win the next world war.

Trump says he will not meet Chinese President Xi before March trade deal deadline
Trump and Xi are still expected to meet again eventually, but there’s too much work to do to prepare Trump for a high-stakes meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Trade Hawks Quietly Bristle as Trump Guns for Deal With China – Bloomberg
One of Donald Trump’s most persistent economic promises has been to rewrite the U.S. relationship with China. Yet as he approaches a potential deal, some of the very hawks who have cheered on the president’s trade war already fear he may end up falling short.
For China, Trade War Truce Ends March 2
Two senators race to strip Trump of national security powers imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, including from China.
Will Trump’s China Trade Deal Amount to More than a Hill of Beans? | Fortune
The special Sino Saturday edition of our popular newsletter for leaders, by Time Inc. international editor Clay Chandler.
U.S. Trade Negotiators Heading to Beijing Next Week – WSJ
The Trump administration is dispatching its top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to Beijing early next week to continue trade talks as a March 1 deadline for an accord nears, a senior administration official said.
We Can’t Tell if Chinese Firms Work for the Party – Foreign Policy
Huawei claims to be an independent firm, but China’s own laws mandate a different reality.
US intelligence warns China using student spies to steal secrets – CNNPolitics
In August 2015, an electrical engineering student in Chicago sent an email to a Chinese national titled “Midterm test questions.”
She Fled China’s Camps—but She’s Still Not Free – Foreign Policy
Sayragul Sauytbay, the only person to have worked inside an internment camp in Xinjiang and spoken publicly about it, now faces an uncertain future in Kazakhstan.
China just wrote off a chunk of Cameroon’s debt. So why the secrecy? – CNN
When top Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi met Cameroon President Paul Biya in the capital Yaounde last month and wrote off a chunk of the African country’s debt, the deal very nearly went unnoticed.
Railway section of cross-border bridge linking Russia & China to be ready in March — RT Business News
Railway section of cross-border bridge linking Russia & China to be ready in March

Under Pressure: Philippine Construction Provokes a Paramilitary Response | Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative
China has responded to new Philippine construction on Thitu Island by deploying a large fleet of ships from Subi Reef, just over 12 nautical miles away.
Military jets featured in China’s new year video message to Taiwan as it calls for reunification | Daily Mail Online
The propaganda film, released by The People’s Liberation Army video on Sunday, was titled ‘My War Eagles Fly Around Formosa’ – an old name for Taiwan.
Taiwanese Civilians Have an Answer to Chinese Threats: Paramilitary Groups | The National Interest
These are not guerillas, but first responders to a looming crisis.

Japan’s deputy prime minister blames women ‘not giving birth’ for declining population – CNN
Japan’s deputy prime minister has come under fire after apparently blaming childless women for Japan’s demographic woes.
Japan’s deputy PM blames women for nation’s falling population | World news | The Guardian
Anger after Taro Aso appears to say women not giving birth are the ‘problem’
Feud Between U.S. Allies Deepens as Trump Sits on Sidelines – Bloomberg
President Donald Trump’s desire to put “America first” has fostered new disputes between the U.S. and its allies. In Asia, old rivalries are also roaring back.
U.S., South Korea Break Impasse Over Military Alliance’s Costs – WSJ
The two sides have struck an agreement in principle covering roughly 28,500 U.S. military personnel in South Korea, though the final details are still being sorted out.
Russia rejects Indonesia election ‘propaganda’ accusations – Channel NewsAsia
Moscow on Monday denied any involvement in Indonesia’s upcoming elections after President Joko Widodo claimed his opponents have used “Russian …
Billionaire Chinese political donor Huang Xiangmo is stripped of Australian residency | World | The Times
A Chinese billionaire who was resident in Australia for eight years and donated millions to political parties has been denied the right to return to the country amid concerns about Beijing’s spying and influence peddling.The cancellation of Huang Xiangmo’s residency status in Australia is the
Australia says parliament’s computer network breached | Australia News | Al Jazeera
Authorities investigating unspecified ‘security incident’ in the federal parliament’s computer network.
Australia Says Hackers Tried to Break Into Parliament’s Computer Network – The New York Times
Officials said there were no indications that data had been stolen in the attack, which an expert said was probably the work of a foreign government.
Australia’s defence and security: are we doing enough? | The Strategist
One of the proudest boasts of the Coalition government is that it takes national security seriously, and it does. Over the next 10 years, Australia will spend $200 billion on defence in the nation’s largest ever peacetime rearmament program. As the federal election looms, it is fair to ask why we are doing it and what are we getting for it. In simple terms, we are rearming because the strategic environment has changed dramatically, especially in the maritime domain. Almost half of that $200 billion is earmarked for the navy, $90 billion of which will go to building 56 warships in Australia. Unfortunately, the build won’t be complete until the mid-2050s.
Uighurs fled persecution in China. Now Beijing’s harassment has followed them to Australia. – The Washington Post
Australia’s Uighur community is facing a campaign of intimidation by people claiming to be Chinese officials.

Foreign Policy Reports



Everything You Know About Global Order Is Wrong – Foreign Policy
If Western elites understood how the postwar liberal system was created, they’d think twice about asking for its renewal.
Freedom House: Global Democracy ‘In Retreat’ For 13th Year
Freedom In The World 2019 gives a dismal assessment of events during 2018 — registering declining political rights and civil liberties in 68 countries with gains in only 50 countries.
The notion of an east-west split in the EU is simplistic and defeatist – Charlemagne
BUDAPEST IN JANUARY ill-suits political action. A freezing wind rushes off the Hungarian plain and whips the grand 19th-century boulevards. The streets glisten with ice and slushy snow. Yet march the people did once more on January 5th. They bore Hungarian and European flags, party-political banners and the insignia of charities, trade unions and NGOs. “Orban out!” they chanted. “It’s the biggest protest yet,” enthused Andras Lederer, a veteran of successive demonstrations.
Pompeo Scheduled to Visit Hungary For Meetings, Poland For Middle East Conference
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Hungary next week to meet with leaders of the government of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who is facing a growing number of protests on the streets against his right-wing policies.

Jeremy Corbyn backs a soft Brexit and dashes hopes of a second referendum | Business Insider
LONDON – Jeremy Corbyn has offered to back a revised version of Theresa May’s Brexit deal in the clearest indication yet that the Labour leader is ready to work with the prime minister to deliver Brexit.
EU rebuffs May, says no-plan Brexiteers deserve ‘place in hell’ | Reuters
The European Union will make no new offer on Brexit and those who promoted Britain’s exit without any understanding of how to deliver it deserve a “special place in hell”, European Council President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.
Germany’s Merkel drops hint of a ‘creative’ Brexit compromise | Reuters
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday offered a way to break the deadlock over the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, calling for a “creative” compromise to allay concerns over the future of Irish border arrangements.
EU irks Britain by calling Gibraltar a ‘colony’ | Reuters
Britain complained about the European Union calling Gibraltar a “colony” in a piece of draft legislation on Friday, highlighting how the EU is lining up behind Spain in its territorial dispute as Britain quits the bloc.
UK objects to description of Gibraltar as ‘British colony’ in EU law – BBC News
The UK objects to language in legislation allowing visa-free travel for Britons after Brexit.

France to oppose Russian Nord Stream 2 – media – news economics | UNIAN
France supports the amendment of EU legislation that would complicate construction of the Russian Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. According to French authorities, they do not want to increase their dependence on Russia.
Macron considers calling a Yellow Vest referendum in May | Daily Mail Online
French President Emmanuel Macron is considering organising a yellow vest referendum in France in May. Voters would be asked if they wanted to reduce the number of politicians.
France recalls ambassador to Italy after yellow vest meeting | Fox News
France recalled its ambassador to Italy on Thursday amid rising tensions after Italy’s deputy prime minister met with French anti-government protesters and Italian leaders made critical public comments about French President Emmanuel Macron’s government.
Court in France Upholds Police Use of Golf-Ball-Size Rubber Bullets – The New York Times
The projectiles have caused many injuries, including lost eyes, in the Yellow Vest protests. The police say the weapons are needed to keep the peace.
Why the French are protesting
CNBC explains who the “Yellow Vests,” “Blue Vests” and “Red Scarves” are, what they want and why they want it.
French yellow vest protesters back on the streets
France’s yellow vest protesters are taking to the streets to keep pressure on French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, for the 12th straight weekend of demonstrations.
French ‘yellow vests’ march through Paris denouncing police violence | Reuters
Several thousand “yellow vest” protesters marched through Paris and other French cities on Saturday on the 12th weekend of action against the government, despite opinion polls pointing to a recovery in President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity.
Turkey Slams France Over Armenian-Genocide-Commemoration Day
Turkey has denounced French President Emmanuel Macron’s decision to set April 24 as a day to commemorate the “Armenian genocide” as political manipulation.

Angela Merkel closes her Facebook page as she plans end to political career | TheHill
German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced she would close her Facebook page Friday as she continues to plan the end of her political career.
German Sausage Museum Reconsiders Move To Nazi Camp Site | HuffPost
The sausage museum received criticism for seeking to move to a former satellite site of the Buchenwald concentration camp.
Belgrade, Other Serbian Cities Rally To Demand Vucic Step Down
Thousands of people have rallied in Belgrade and other cities across Serbia on February 2 for the ninth week in a row to demand the resignation of President Aleksandar Vucic.
Gay atheist politician launches movement to take on Poland’s conservative and religious establishment 
A gay atheist has launched his own party in a bid to take on Poland&rsquo;s conservative political establishment and curb the influence of the Catholic Church.
Germany could face budget deficits for years to come: Bild, citing government document | Reuters
Germany faces a 25 billion euro ($29 billion) budget shortfall by 2023, unless it tightens spending, as tax revenues are set to fall and public sector wages are on the rise, Bild newspaper reported, citing an internal government document.
Why turbulent Greek-Turkish ties are likely to worsen | Greece News | Al Jazeera
Greece PM Tsipras’s visit to Ankara receives criticism at home amid worsening of ties between the two countries.
Diplomats sue Canada government over mystery illness in Cuba – BBC News
The government took too long to evacuate and treat them when they were posted in Cuba, they say.
Canadian Diplomats Suing Government For $28 Million Over Mysterious Illness : NPR
The lawsuit alleges the government knowingly exposed them to “extremely serious and debilitating attacks” in Cuba that have resulted in brain injuries and that it was slow to remove them.

Capability / Strategy / History Publications



China’s Olive Branch to Save the World from AI Weapons | The National Interest
Is China open to arms control over AI weapons development? The United States should find out.
Stanford looks to AI for orbital garbagemen
The AI that will identify space debris may also power autonomous visual navigation in orbit.

Air Force Presses Lockheed On F-35 Readiness: Lt. Gen. Bunch « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary
The Pentagon’s independent tester reports that F-35 readiness is stuck at 60 percent, while the A model’s gun is unacceptably inaccurate.
Pentagon report RSAF sucker Jiak Sai [shit eater] with F-35 big time! More Junk Plane Crisis! | Sam’s Alfresco Coffee Can’t aim guns & short-lived: Troubled F-35 jet reveals MORE problems in new Pentagon…
The Air Force wants to buy more F-15X jets, and it’s a huge mistake
Last Friday, the Air Force announced plans to buy Boeing’s F-15X, based on the jet’s capabilities and comparatively low costs when stacked against the F-35A.
South Korea receives first Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft – Defence Blog
The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) has taken delivery of its first Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. The new-generation A330 MRTT extends the endurance and range of the ROKAF’s fighter aircraft, and provides the service with strategic transport capability for passengers and freight. In South Korean service the A330 MRTT will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, be equipped with the Airbus Refuelling Boom System, and can be configured in a variety of layouts to carry passengers and freight or for medevac purposes. South Korea becomes the seventh member of the worldwide family of A330 MRTT operators and is one of 12 nations to have ordered the aircraft. This latest delivery brings the total in-service fleet to 35. Fernando Alonso, Executive Vice President, Airbus, said: “The A330 MRTT has clearly established itself as the world’s premier tanker and strategic transport aircraft, and has been widely praised by the current operators. It will be a critical asset of the ROKAF and leading air forces worldwide for many decades.” Tags: South Korea

Decades-Old Harpoon Missile Could See Growth in Sub, Coastal Defense Missions – USNI News
After pulling out of a competition to outfit the Navy’s small surface combatants with anti-ship missiles, Boeing is seeing a warmer embrace of its 40-year-old Harpoon missile from the U.S. Navy’s aviation and surface fleets and from foreign military sales. The Harpoon missile, despite its age, is having a small renaissance, as some of the more than two-dozen countries that already own the missile look to upgrade to a new Block II and Block II Plus version, and additional countries look to add the weapon to their inventory. The 1970s-era weapon was heavily featured at the Rim of the Pacific 2018 exercise last summer, when six Harpoon were shot – including from a U.S. submarine for the first time in two decades, from a Royal Australian Air Force P-8 Poseidon aircraft and from a Republic of Singapore Navy frigate, among others. Jim Bryan, director of Boeing Cruise Missile Systems, told USNI News last month at the Surface Navy Association annual national symposium that the very fact that so many global partners already use the missile is a key part of the pitch to pursue upgrades, which allows the missile to tap into the network that the U.S. and allies already use to share targeting data and other information. Harpoon Block II includes a navigation system upgrade – moving from a legacy midcourse guidance system to a new GPS-aided inertial navigation system – that gives the missile a 7-times-better targeting capability than the legacy missile, he said. The “plus” in the Block II Plus adds in datalink connectivity to allow for in-flight targeting updates, which brings the missile to a 10-times-better capability compared to the older Block IC missiles, Bryan . Boeing has been pushing a plan to upgrade the legacy Block IC missiles to the II Plus configuration, which delivers the new-build capability Boeing is selling internationally at a “fraction of the cost” of buying new missiles.
World War 3: US purchases Iron Dome missile system from Israel | World | News |
THE US military has announced plans to purchase and test Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system for ‘immediate’ effect.
The universal Javelin went into batch production
Javelin Joint Venture has been contacted by the US Army and has started mass production of the new multi-purpose modification of Javelin FGM-148F, announced on Tuesday. The FGM-148F is equipped with an advanced multi-purpose combat unit, incorporating a new generation tandem charge for cutting current and advanced armor, and a fragmented steel body to increase the effectiveness of defeating live power and light-armored targets. Also, the new modification has a reduced weight. According to the first contact, Javelin Joint Venture (joint venture Raytheon and Lockheed Martin) will supply 2100 new missiles to the American Army from 2020. At the same time, it is expected to allow the American government to supply improved Javelin to international allies. The Javelin ATGWs are equipped with: France, Taiwan, Jordan, Qatar, Turkey, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Ukraine, Georgia, Australia, Estonia, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. Also, work on the next modification of the FGM-148G is underway, which, along with improving the complexity of the complex, should make it even easier and considerably cheaper.
Russia develops its very own “Javelin” anti-tank missile – Defence Blog
Russia has initiated the development of its own variant of man-portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile system, according to Roman Spirin, the chairman of science and technology committee of the Committee of the Main Missile and Artillery Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (GRAU). The Russian defense industry has initiated the development of a new generation of an anti-tank missile system, which does not require further guidance after launch such as illumination of the target or wire guidance, and can hit its target without the launcher being in line-of-sight of the target. According to Roman Spirin, in the immediate future, it is planned to develop a unified wearable and multipurpose self-propelled anti-tank missile systems, which implement the principle of quick-reaction and fire-and-forget. This will allow effectively use the complex when conducting combat in urbanized terrain and significantly expand combat capabilities of this class weapons, providing the opportunity melee tactical zone of a wide range of moving and stationary targets.
U.S. Army releases new video of Extended Range Cannon Artillery – Defence Blog
The U.S. Army has released new footage of recently test fired its new long-range cannon artillery at Yuma Proving Ground. A new video of Extended Range Cannon Artillery test was posted on the official twitter page of U.S Army Yuma Proving Ground on 5 February. Extended Range Cannon Artillery, or ERCA, will be an improvement to the latest version of the Paladin self-propelled howitzer that provides indirect fires for the brigade combat team and division-level fight. “Long range precision fires are the Army’s top modernization priority, and YPG testing of the Extended Range Cannon Artillery program is critical to the Army’s goal of fielding artillery systems capable of accurately firing at targets 100 kilometers away,” – said in Yuma Proving Ground post. Currently, most land-fired artillery shot from a towed howitzer or self-propelled howitzer are able to pinpoint targets out to 30km – so hitting 62km marks a substantial leap forward in offensive attack capability. Building on mobility upgrades, ERCA will increase the lethality of self-propelled howitzers. ERCA provides a “10x” capability through a combination of an increased range, increased rate of fire, increased lethality, increased reliability and a greater survivability. The ERCA consists of two parts—a new rocket-boosted shell, the XM1113, and a longer howitzer barrel. ERCA will not only have significantly more capability, but also improved reliability and safety. These changes will enable the system to distribute all of the electrical power that it can generate without negatively impacting space and weight.
M18 pistols successfully completed acceptance test for U.S. Army – Defence Blog
US firearms specialist SIG Sauer Inc has announced that he M18 pistols, the compact variant of the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System (MHS), has successfully completed a recent Lot Acceptance Test (LAT) with zero stoppages during the required MHS Material Reliability Testing. According to a company’s statement, historically, Lot Acceptance Testing would include testing handguns to 5,000 rounds and allow for up to 12 stoppages to pass. The recent MHS Material Reliability Test consisted of firing three M18 pistols to an unprecedented 12,000 rounds each, and in an extraordinary display of reliability, the M18 performed with zero stoppages. Additionally, despite undergoing this level of strenuous testing the M18 passed a parts interchange test, met all of the stringent accuracy and dispersion requirements, was tested for firing pin indent and trigger pull measurements to ensure consistency, and conformed to all workmanship standards. The success of the MHS program, and the performance of both the M17 and M18 pistols, was further confirmed in the recently published Director of Operation Testing and Evaluation (DOT&E) Annual Report, which provides an independent review and analysis of the U.S. Department of Defense weapons systems. The report states that, “the MHS meets or exceeds requirements for accuracy, lethality, ergonomics, and safety,” in addition to stating that, “both the XM17 and the XM18 are operationally effective and suitable.” Ron Cohen, President & CEO of SIG SAUER, Inc., began, “the results of this testing for the M18 pistol is truly impressive. The M18 withstood the harsh testing and performance requirements set forth in the MHS contract and has set a new standard for reliability in service pistols.”
US-made long-range surveillance radar spotted in Algeria – Defence Blog
The Algerian armed forces have taken delivery of at least one US-made long-range air surveillance radar, according to photographs released on social media. Some online news portals and social media on 5 February have released photo of the Northrop Grumman AN/TPS-78 highly mobile, state-of-the-art radar in Algeria. The AN/TPS-78 is a long-range S-Band air surveillance radar designed for detection of high-speed and high-altitude targets in challenging environmental conditions. The AN/TPS-78 phased-array-antenna is 2.5 meters high and 5.5 meters wide. It uses a stacked beam architecture and digital beam forming. to provide superior full-time, full-volume coverage of all targets at any azimuth position. The stacked beam architecture used in the radar allows for superior performance in ground clutter, rain and chaff. With the ability to simultaneously detect high altitude and low altitude targets in heavy ground and sea clutter, the six full-time beams also provide time energy management to detect targets at all velocities with no dim speeds.
Here’s what the M16 and M4 and Squad Automatic Weapon replacements will look like
Three companies should be selected to build prototypes by the end of the summer.
The US Military Is Chopping Up Its Iron Man Suit For Parts – Defense One
SOCOM’s much-anticipated super suit won’t be here for Christmas.
‘Huge effort’ yields Tiger, MRH90 performance boost for Australia
A U-2 Spy Plane is Flying Over Northern California Pretending to Be the Starship Enterprise
The secretive spy plane is taking a cue from one of the most popular sci-fi shows of all time. 
The Truth Behind a Vietnam War Airstrike Uncovered – The New York Times
In this week’s At War newsletter: An investigative report obtained by The Times reveals new details about one of the Vietnam War’s worst friendly-fire incidents.
Explainer: The Earth’s Magnetic North Is Shifting
The planet’s magnetic north pole (the north that your compass points to) is shifting toward Russian Siberia.

IW/EW/IO/Cyber/Social Media Reports



Gray Zone Tools: Information Warfare – YouTube
Center for Strategic & International Studies Published on Dec 7, 2018 CSIS explores Russian, Chinese, and other countries’ use of disinformation, election meddling, and social media accounts to spread propaganda and sow division through gray zone tactics.
Attorney General James Announces Groundbreaking Settlement With Sellers Of Fake Followers And “Likes” On Social Media – To Inform is to Influence
This is a prime example of using the law to counter Russian Information Warfare.  I had previously recommended seizing domain names and servers of certified Russian propaganda sites like   This is a new application of the term Lawfare. Russia uses their legal system as a weapon, so the West has precedent and motive. The…
Attorney General James Announces Groundbreaking Settlement With Sellers Of Fake Followers And “Likes” On Social Media | New York State Attorney General
Settlement is First in the Country to Find that Selling Fake Followers and “Likes” Is Illegal Deception and that Fake Activity Using Stolen Identities Is Illegal Impersonation
Lea Gabrielle, Former Fox News reporter named to lead counter-propaganda efforts at State – To Inform is to Influence
By Kylie Atwood, Michelle Kosinski and Jennifer Hansler, CNN Updated 4:37 PM ET, Thu February 7, 2019 (CNN)The State Department on Thursday announced that a former Fox News reporter would lead its agency in charge of efforts to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. Lea Gabrielle will become the special envoy and coordinator of the Global Engagement Center, State Department…
Facebook kills hundreds of ‘inauthentic’ accounts linked to Iran | Fox News
Facebook announced Thursday that it had removed close to 800 pages, groups and accounts from the social media network for engaging in what it called “coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran.”
Facebook removes hundreds of accounts ‘linked to Iran’ after mysterious, co-ordinated behaviour | The Independent
Facebook has removed hundreds of accounts it accused of being linked to “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” coming from Iran. The company claims the 783 pages, accounts and groups were being used to disrupt politics and elections and have now been shut down. The latest purge is the latest in a run of removals that have also seen thousands of accounts linked to Myanmar,
Twitter yanks thousands of fake accounts originating in Iran, Russia and Venezuela – CBS News
The removals marked the social media site’s latest efforts to prevent disinformation campaigns
Facebook, Twitter take down disinformation campaigns linked to Iran, Russia, Venezuela – POLITICO
Iran was the source of the bulk of the activity that each platform targeted.
Twitter removes fake accounts tied to Russia, Iran, Venezeula
Twitter has uncovered and removed thousands of fake accounts with origins in Russia, Venezuela, Bangladesh and Iran — calling their activity…
Facebook’s data gathering hit by German anti-trust clampdown | Reuters
Germany’s antitrust watchdog ordered a crackdown on Facebook’s data collection practices after ruling the world’s largest social network abused its market dominance to gather information about users without their knowledge or consent.
Facebook ordered by Germany to gather less data – BBC News
The social network says it intends to appeal against the German watchdog’s ruling.
Germany orders Facebook to change the way it gathers data – CNN
Germany is moving to break up Facebook’s dominant position in gathering data about social media users.
Trump’s Cyber Strategy Is Far Too Optimistic – Defense One
The director of national intelligence’s threat assessment exposes two of its pillars as convenient fictions.
How will the Army use electronic warfare? The Pentagon’s weapon tester wants to know – To Inform is to Influence
I qualified as an Electronic Warfare Officer in 1989 and read this article with dismay. A few years after 1989, after the Cold War ended, we dropped the ‘unnecessary’ capability and now we seem to be starting from scratch. It feels like there is no current expertise on hand, everybody is a noob. Some years ago, as a defense contractor, I worked on the “new” EW manning for countering IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan. As far as I could tell, this was a one-off effort, when I asked I found out the Army did not intend to keep up its conventional EW capabilities – at all. I felt truly uncomfortable with that, as I know many militaries, especially the Russians, continue evolving their EW capabilities. In the US Army, however, the only focus was on the CREW system. Now, it seems the Army is preparing for EW attacks and defense on a more conventional basis, a la Russia and China. Some time ago I worked for the Association of Old Crows, the EW and IO Association. I attended a few briefings where the current and future EW capabilities of our potential adversaries were briefed. Finally, when all the Army’s EW knowledge is retired, we’re entering the steep learning curve to build new, modern equipment and then figure out how to best use it. What was old is new again. </end editorial>
Defence launches crackdown on Australian crypto research – Strategy – Security – iTnews
Ahead of Thom export control review findings.

US Domestic Policy Reports



Text of President Trump’s State of the Union Address – WSJ
Text of President Trump’s State of the Union address as prepared for delivery and released by the White House.
State of the Union 2019: Read the full transcript – CNNPolitics
President Donald Trump delivered his 2019 State of the Union address on Tuesday. Read the President’s speech as prepared for delivery and released by the White House.
Trump Expected To Focus On Immigration, Syria, U.S. Economy In Speech To Congress
The February 5 speech before a joint session of Congress takes place just days after the end of a 35-day government shutdown — the longest in U.S. history.

US Navy Re-Evaluating 355-Ship Goal – Defense One
The number could go up or down or include different types of ships.
The Rift Between Silicon Valley and the Pentagon Is Economic, Not Moral
There remains no shortage of hand-wringing over the state of engagement and collaboration between Silicon Valley and the Department of Defense. This was
‘The American dream is real’: Once a desperate refugee, now a US Army general – News – Stripes
He was a traumatized Vietnamese teenager with a fifth-grade education when he arrived in the U.S. in 1980. Within seven years, Brig. Gen. Lapthe Flora had a degree from the Virginia Military Institute and a career as “an officer in the greatest Army on Earth.”
Trump nominates new leader for spy satellite agency
Present Trump has chosen a new individual to lead NRO.
Trump suffers Senate defeat in Syria troops withdrawal vote | World | The Times
President Trump’s plans to pull US troops out of Syria were dealt another blow by the Senate last night after it voted overwhelmingly to oppose the withdrawal.An amendment to the Middle East security bill, which was passed by 70 votes to 26, states that Islamic State (Isis) still poses a “serious t

Gina Haspel: Intelligence community ‘pleased’ with Trump’s decision to expel 61 Russian officers – Washington Times
The intelligence community is “very pleased” with President Trump’s decision to expel 61 Russian intelligence officers last year, assessing the evictions had “tremendous impact” on Moscow’s “ability to hurt us,” CIA Director Gina Haspel says.
Trump says he’ll reject U.S. intelligence assessments he disagrees with – Los Angeles Times
Despite warnings from senior GOP lawmakers, Trump says he’ll choose which intelligence to trust.
‘He’s doing the enemy’s job for them’: Current and former officials compare Trump to a toddler and say his attacks on the intel community create a goldmine for foreign governments | Business Insider
President Donald Trump’s public insults against his top intelligence chiefs and apparent unwillingness to accept assessments that contradict his own beliefs pose a dire threat to US national security and create a goldmine for foreign intelligence services to exploit, current and former intelligence officials told INSIDER.
Trump’s strain with intel chiefs spills into public | TheHill
President Trump’s battered relationship with the U.S. intelligence community suffered another significant blow this week after he publicly criticized agency leaders for presenting assessments that didn’t align with his foreign policy rhetoric.
Intelligence briefers warn of ‘willful ignorance’ on Trump’s part: report | TheHill
Some intelligence officials reportedly say that President Trump has displayed “willful ignorance” when presented with analysis from the intelligence community, according to
Trump doubles down on his criticism of US intelligence findings | Business Insider
US President Donald Trump and top GOP lawmakers conflicted Sunday, as they diverged on his criticism of US intelligence officials.
The Senate and intelligence community rebuked Trump on national security this week. Here’s why that matters — a lot. – The Washington Post
The rebukes reflect the unusual nature of the Trump administration and longer-term trends in the politics of national security.
GOP senator: ‘Imperative’ for Trump to listen to intel chiefs | TheHill
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Sunday that it’s “imperative” for President Trump to heed the advice of the U.S. intelligence community.

Friend Of Russia’s Butina Indicted On Fraud, Money-Laundering Charges
A conservative U.S. political activist who has been identified as the boyfriend of admitted Russian agent Maria Butina has been indicted by a federal grand jury in South Dakota, officials say.
Firms Recruited by Paul Manafort Are Investigated Over Foreign Payments – The New York Times
Among those under scrutiny are Gregory Craig, President Obama’s White House counsel, as well as the lobbyists Tony Podesta, a Democrat, and Vin Weber, a Republican.
Mueller Probe Focuses On 2016 Manafort Meeting With Kilimnik
The U.S. special counsel’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election is focusing on a meeting between Donald Trump’s then-campaign chairman and a business associate who prosecut…
Mueller: Manafort downplayed Russian associate’s conduct even after plea deal – POLITICO
Mueller’s team contended that Manafort seemed to be trying to avoid providing information that could be damaging to a Russian-Ukrainian national
Judge grills Mueller team on claim Manafort lied; prosecutors say issue’s ‘at heart’ of Russia probe | Fox News
A federal judge grilled Special Counsel Robert Mueller team earlier this week on its claims that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort intentionally lied to investigators, according to a newly released, partially redacted court transcript released Thursday.
Manafort continued to secretly work for Ukraine interests after Mueller indicted him: report
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort kept working for Ukrainian interests into 2018 — after he was indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller. NBC News reported that a redacted, newly-released court transcript from a sealed hearing Monday revealed that prosecutors referenced work Manafort did in the Eastern European country last year. At one point, the report noted, prosecutor Andrew Weissman referenced “2018 work that [Manafort] did with respect to polling in Ukraine.” The transcript also suggested that prosecutors believe the former Trump campaign chairman told at least one lie to investigators in hopes of securing a pardon from President Donald Trump. Manafort also reportedly lied about contacts he had with Russian oligarch Konstantin Kilimnik in early August 2016, while he was still chairman of the Trump campaign. Kilimnik was indicted by Mueller in June 2018 on obstruction of justice charges similar to Manaforts’. New York Times reporter Ken Vogel noted on Twitter that prosecutors allege Manafort “went out of his way” to not incriminate Kilimnik.
Reports: U.S. Prosecutors Subpoena Records From Trump’s Inauguration Committee
The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both reported that the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan issued a subpoena seeking information on the committee’s donors and event attendees, ticket details, federal disclosure filings, and other details.
Massive cache of emails reveal scale of plan for Trump Moscow DURING campaign | Daily Mail Online
Longtime Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s repeated contacts with Felix Sater over a proposed Moscow Trump tower project are revealed in a new cache of documents.
U.S. Says ‘No Evidence’ Foreign Meddling Impacted 2018 Midterm Vote
Foreign actors did not significantly influence the U.S. midterm congressional elections last year, despite reports of hacking attempts leading up to the vote, a review by the Justice and Homeland S…
Rep. Ilhan Omar floats taxing rich up to 90 percent | Fox News
Freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar floated taxing the wealthy at a rate of up to 90 percent, joining fellow Democrats pushing for much higher rates on the top bracket to pay for sought-after programs like “Medicare-for-all.”
From Celebrated to Vilified, House’s Muslim Women Absorb Blows Over Israel – The New York Times
Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar were celebrated this month as symbols of diversity, the House’s first two Muslim women. But on Israel, they have exposed a Democratic Party divide.