Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (93)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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More on the INF and nuclear capabilities. UK SECDEF Williamson’s RUSI address generates a lot of media traffic – he is on target. Congress preparing more sanctions on Muscovy. Russia to trial disconnection of the domestic Internet from the global Internet. Estonia update. Nordstream 2 update.

Kremlin spin doctor and architect of the invasion of Ukraine Surkov writes an essay for  Nezavisimaya Gazeta “suggesting that Putin has created a new type of Russian state based on popular trust in the leader rather than competitive elections that is superior to Western-style democracy and that will last long after its creator” – this laudatory advocacy for the Chekist regime’s neo-Tsarism, if not Oprichnina Redux has produced some sharp comments from the Russian diaspora.

SECSTATE Pompeo’s visit to Budapest creates a lot of media traffic, the Orban Russian proxy regime appears unrepentant. Excellent essay by LtGen Deptula on the bad past choices on USAF planning that have left a capability train wreck to fix now. Bulgarian parliament to investigate suspected Novichok attack in 2015.

Ukraine updates on foreign policy, Crimea, Donbas and strategic situation. Russian TBMs interpreted as preparation for an offensive. New 1L221Е CBR announced. Kyiv Civil Aviation Plant 410 to become a major overhaul plant for Boeing airliners.

Politics update, and a police officer charged for calling a hooligan a Banderite. Election update. Over 300 parishes have now defected to the OCU, and an update on religious repression in Russia.


Kay Bailey Hutchison | How Russia Undermined Over 30 Years of Nuclear Arms Control – The New York Times

Since 1987, a treaty with Moscow to limit midrange missile deployment has boosted trans-Atlantic security. But Russia has been cheating, and is fielding missiles banned by the compact.

Pentagon Warns That Russia, China Threaten U.S. Space Dominance

The Defense Intelligence Agency has warned that lasers that could damage U.S. satellites were of particular concern.

Report: Space will likely be a battlefield in any U.S. conflict with China, Russia

A new report warns both China and Russia are making advances in space technology and says they will likely turn to space in any conflict to cripple adversaries.

UAWire – Russia to conduct tests of Putin’s ‘doomsday weapon’ in summer

TASS reported, citing a source in the military-industrial sector, that factory testing of Poseidon unmanned underwater vehicles, which will be adopted by the Russian Navy as part of the state armament program for 2018-2027, will begin this summer. “Testing is planned in favorable conditions this summer,” the source said, specifying that the Poseidon missiles will be fired from a coastal launcher.” The reason for this, is the regular carrier for Poseidon, a nuclear submarine, is still being completed at the plant Sevmash. On February 2nd, President Vladimir Putin announced the end of the key testing phase of Poseidon. Earlier it was reported that the underwater drone is capable of hitting targets at a speed of 200 km per hour. At the same time, the torpedo can change depth and trajectory, making it invulnerable to the enemy. For comparison, the maximum speed of modern atomic submarines is 60 km/h; torpedoes are 90/km/h. Sources also noted that Poseidon is capable of carrying a nuclear charge of up to two megatons and destroy enemy naval bases. In the Western press, this new Russian weapon has already been dubbed the “Doomsday weapon” for its “ability” to move towards the shore unnoticed and create a nuclear explosion.

Two Ideas That Might Stop a Post-INF Arms Race, and One That Won’t – Defense One

Discard the pipe dream of INF-plus-China. Focus instead on keeping new missiles too far away to strike.

UAWire – Stoltenberg: NATO will not eliminate nuclear weapons unless Russia and China do so

The North Atlantic Alliance will not eliminate nuclear weapons if Russia and China do not do it, stated NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the commentary to the German edition of the Morgen Post. “NATO’s goal is a world without nuclear weapons. But the world will not become safer if NATO loses all of its nuclear weapons, while Russia, China and other countries continue to maintain or expand their nuclear arsenals,” said Stoltenberg. In addition, he called on Germany and other partners of the Alliance not to refuse to participate in the US nuclear program in Europe. “The concept of nuclear participation is important for NATO. And I urge as many alliance partners as possible to be part of this nuclear participation – that includes Germany,” the Secretary General said.

UAWire – NATO may consider deploying missiles in Czech Republic in response to Russia’s violation of INF treaty

The Czech Minister of Defense Lubomir Metnar stated that he does not rule out the possibility that NATO might soon return to discussions about deploying missiles on the territory of the Czech Republic. In his opinion, the issue will be discussed in six months, when a decision will be made regarding the termination of the Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missile treaty (INF) between the USA and Russia. “It is possible that after the treaty ends, the security situation will deteriorate. I can’t exclude the possibility that the discussion can start in NATO,” the Minister noted.

Gavin Williamson: Drone ‘swarm squadrons’ to be deployed by military – BBC News

The defence secretary says the network-enabled aircraft could be used to overwhelm the enemy.

UAWire – US Congress prepares to deal new blow to Russian economy

The lull in sanctions which Russia enjoyed during US Congress’s interim elections and government shutdown is now coming to an end. After the four-month break, Congress is once again discussing new measures that can be taken against Russia. The possibilities range from a ban on investments in Russian government debt to a complete disconnection of Russian government banks from the global dollar transaction system. Congress’s first hearings following its elections will be held on 12 February in the Financial Committee of the House of Representatives, according to an announcement on the department’s official website. The topic will be “The Use of Sanctions and Economic Statecraft in Addressing US National Security and Foreign Policy Challenges”. Although the committee intends to consider all the countries that are currently under US sanctions, including Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, there will be a “particular focus” on Russia, according to the memorandum on the committee’s website. Since 2014, the US has imposed sanctions on Russian physical entities, companies and government organs for “interference in elections, aggression in Ukraine and in Crimea, a chemical attack in the UK, activity in Syria, non-compliance with sanctions against North Korea, and human rights abuses”, but these measures have proven to be insufficient to “deter” Russia’s “attacks on US interests and its assault on global values” the memorandum states. The committee will thus consider ways to “increase economic pressure on Russia”. In 2018, 10 bills were put forward in Congress on measures against Russia. The first, S.2313 (H.R.4884) was put forward on 16 January, and required the blocking of six Russian government banks, Gazprom, Rosneft and Lukoil, the prohibition of investments in new government debt, and the expansion of sanctions against officials and oligarchs. The bill H.R. 5428 from 5 April required the blocking of assets and the banning of dollar transactions for seven Russian government banks (Sberbank, VTB Bank, Gazprombank, Bank of Moscow, Rosselkhozbank, Promsvyazbank and VEB), and the imposition of restrictions on derivatives. Bill S.2780 (H.R. 6475, H.R. 6573) was put forward on 26 April and demanded that Russia be recognized as state that sponsors terrorism. The next document, H.R. 5910, appeared on 29 May and required cyber-sanctions in response to Russia’s misinformation campaign. On 18 July, a bill was put forward in the Senate (S.3229) to outright ban the financing of Russian energy projects. At same time, a bill was put forward in the House of Representatives with a milder set of sanctions against government banks (H.R.6423), with restrictions being imposed on only three of them. On 1 August, all of these initiatives were summarized in a final bill (S.3336), which received support from both parties. In addition to new sanctions against officials and oligarchs, it requires that at least one Russian government bank must be cut off from dollar transactions, and that foreign investors must be banned from buying new bonds issued by the Russian government. Sanctions against government banks would be the most dangerous scenario for Russia. Essentially this would mean that the system for handling dollars in the country would breakdown, observes Rosbank analyst Yevgeny Koshelev. All transactions in US dollars take place through correspondent accounts with American banks. If these banks are banned from operating with Russian banks, Russia’s Central Bank and Finance Ministry will be forced to use their own reserves to rescue the situation, and the conversion of dollar deposits into rubles will become a reality. “You can expect waves of capital outflow from the Russian market, which will lead to increased pressure on the ruble,” commented Vladimir Tikhomirov, chief economist at BCS, in August. The exchange rate will jump to 76 rubles per dollar, and the economy will decline yet again. Russia’s Central Bank will have to raise the key interest rate to 8.75%, and possibly even implement “moderate control over capital movement”, Tikhomirov wrote. There is more at stake than just Congress’s initiatives. A second round of sanctions from the Donald Trump administration for the Skripals poisoning is still pending. New sanctions are also being prepared for the Kerch Strait Incident and the Kremlin’s refusal to return the detained sailors to Kyiv, US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker warned on 31 January. The tightening of sanctions will take place in the next few months, and the measures that have been announced may still be expanded upon, Moody’s international rating agency predicts. The ban on purchasing new Russian government debt may be expanded to an outright ban on even holding Russian government bonds (sanctions against the secondary market). The same ban may also be imposed on bonds issued by banks. If the sanctions are stricter than expected, it could lead to a new lowering of Russia’s sovereign rating, Moody’s warns.

Russia Mulls Disconnecting From Internet In Test Of Cyberdefenses

Russia is planning to temporarily disconnect from the global Internet in the coming weeks as it tests its defenses against cyberattacks.

UAWire – Russia prepares for possible disconnection from World Wide Web

The largest telecommunications operators in Russia plan to hold drills to test the practical feasibility of implementing the law “On sovereign internet” that was put forward in the State Duma by senator Andrey Klishas in December last year. According to the Russian news outlet RBC, the decision to do this was made during a session of the Information Security work group, which is working to implement the country’s Digital Economy project. MegaFon, VimpelCom (the Beeline brand), MTS and Rostelecom will all take part in the exercise. Together they will have to figure out how to carry out the proposed internet reform. The law stipulates that all traffic within Russia must pass through exchange points that are approved by Roskomnadzor, the federal executive body responsible for media and telecommunications censorship. In order to make this possible, mobile operators and internet service providers must install equipment that Roskomnadzor can use to interfere with the internet traffic and block content that is prohibited in Russia. The project also aims to minimize “the transmission abroad of data that is being exchanged between Russian users” and to ensure that the Russian internet can function on its own. “All conversation participants agree that it has good aims, but the mechanisms for implementing it raise many issues and disputes. Moreover, the means for implementing it have not yet beet prescribed,” said Natalya Kasperskaya, head of the work group. “This is why we came to the conclusion that market participants need to organize drills or something similar in order to understand how this could be implemented in practice.” After carrying out the exercises, which are due to take place before April, the operators must propose amendments to the bill. Artem Kozlyuk, director of Roskomsvoboda, an organization dedicated to freedom of information and the self-regulation of the internet sector, fears that the bill proposed by Klishas will lead to the creation of a global Russian censorship firewall similar to China’s. The bill has already been approved by the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, Roskomnadzor, the Federal Communications Agency, the Federal Protective Service and the Federal Service for Technical and Export Control. A source in the Kremlin told RBC that the presidential administration supports the bill because it “will facilitate the execution of the president’s order to ensure the stable operation of Russia’s internet” as part of the Digital Economy program. The Russian government has also given its general approval to the initiative, but with certain reservations. Firstly, budget funds will need to be allocated it (whereas Klishas claimed no taxpayer money would be required). Secondly, the law must stipulate clearly exactly what constitutes a security threat, and under which circumstances centralized network control can be carried out. The national internet giants Yandex and the Mail.ru Group praised the bill. The technical director of the Mail.ru Group said that the law will help his company to “feel more at ease” and Yandex network infrastructure development director Alexey Sokolov observed that the “protection of the Russian segment of the internet” is coming at a good time. The only government organ to give negative feedback was the Accounts Chamber. “Implementing the bill will require additional federal budget expenditure. In addition, implementing the bill will cause an increase in the cost of goods and services on the Russian market, which includes the risk of increasing the budget expenses of all levels of Russia’s budget system to pay for them,” the Accounts Chamber commented.

Estonian Army Officer, Father Jailed For Spying For Russia

An Estonian court has found a former army officer and his father guilty of committing treason by spying for Russia.

A Russian Neighbor Has Cybersecurity Lessons for the Rest of Us – Bloomberg

Estonia’s online militia offers advice to the U.S. and Europe on preparing for increasingly digital war.

UAWire – Russia warns of gas supply problems to Europe if Nord Stream 2 is stopped

The Russian Foreign Ministry warned the EU against hindering the Nord Stream 2 project, stated Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Alexander Pankin in an interview with RIA Novosti. Pankin stated that if obstacles are created to force Russia to pump gas through Ukraine “on their terms, their tariffs and their legal uncertainties, then this would not work”. He pointed to possible difficulties that European consumers could have if Russia and Ukraine fail to reach an agreement on gas transit and “if the problems with Nord Stream 2 remain.” At the same time, he stated that Russia is ready to continue gas transit to Europe through Ukraine. “We are ready to continue transit through Ukraine, but on the conditions that we need,” Pankin stated, suggesting that after the Presidential elections, Ukraine’s position may change. Pankin suggested that a change in position, certain institutional developments, or a legal development in the processes could occur in Ukraine by next May. Nord Stream 2 has already been criticized by some European countries. The gas pipeline would be laid under the Baltic Sea along with the already-existing Nord Stream line. Russia plans to complete the project this year, when agreements between Moscow and Kyiv on gas transit through Ukraine expire.

Germany to keep final say on Russia pipeline

Germany alone will decide whether to enforce EU law on its new gas pipeline with Russia, after France caved in during last-minute talks.

Naftogaz: Gas transit conditions set by Gazprom “absolutely unacceptable” – news economics | UNIAN

The Russian monopoly’s reluctance to transmit gas via Ukraine in line with European rules increases Naftogaz’s chances to win $10 billion in compensation in litigation over the lack of gas transit after 2019, that’s according to Yuriy Vitrenko, Naftogaz of Ukraine Chief Commercial Officer. Vitrenko noted that the existing gas transit contract between Naftogaz and Gazprom fails to meet the requirements of Ukrainian and European legislation, so it cannot be renewed.

Ukraine lays down strict condition for transiting Russian gas

The gas transit via the territory of Ukraine after 2019 can occur on standard European terms, not the terms of the Russian Federation. Otherwise, Ukraine will demand $10 billion in compensation through the arbitration proceedings. — Ukrinform.

Russia again could cause crisis with gas supplies to Europe over delaying talks on gas transit via Ukraine’s GTS – Naftogaz CEO

With a delay in the signing of a new contract on gas transit via the Ukrainian gas transmission system (GTS) after 2019, Russia could again repeat crisis with deliveries of gas to European consumers, CEO of national joint-stock company Naftogaz Ukrainy Andriy Kobolev has said.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Surkov Reflects Putin Elite’s Hatred and Fear of the People, Shevchenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, February 11 – Vladislav Surkov’s essay in Nezavisimaya gazeta suggesting that Putin has created a new type of Russian state based on popular trust in the leader rather than competitive elections that is superior to Western-style democracy and that will last long after its creator has dominated the blogosphere today in ways that few other recent articles have. Most have recounted his arguments, expressing either enthusiasm or distaste; but some are already beginning to go beyond that and to explore what his article represents and tells about the attitudes of the Putin elite of which Surkov has long been perhaps the most articulate in expressing its hopes and fears. Among the most insightful of these so far is one by Russian commentator Maksim Shevchenko who argues that Surkov’s article (ng.ru/ideas/2019-02-11/5_7503_surkov.html) provides perhaps the clearest indication yet of just how much the Putin regime hates and fears the Russian people (echo.msk.ru/blog/shevchenkomax/2369329-echo/). “The ruling elite,” Shevchenko says, “hates, distrusts, and fears “the people and wants to destroy its political standing and minimize the risks it presents. How to do this?” Surkov provides a way: deprive the people of legal institutions and (democratic) possibilities to influence the situation in the country” and “strictly prohibit” all other means. To do that, the people is declared “not a real community of citizens having rights and freedoms but a secret psycho-social nature,” a “’deep’” thing which “supposedly doesn’t know what it wants and operates only on ‘trust’ to the first person who is thus the state,” the commentator continues. This “Putin system” does not allow for “law and the courts, the division of powers and their mutual control, and the principle of delegated administrative and political authorities via representative institutions which are the result of centuries of serious struggle of the people against the sacralized power of the lords.” Instead, it is based “on ‘trust’ to a sophisticated and not necessarily kind tsar” because “apparently the Russian and other peoples of our country” can only exist if they accept that they cannot rule themselves and their affairs but must have someone come and rule over them, Shevchenko continues. Such an idea and such an arrangement “open the gates to surveillance, repression, tyranny, censorship, the destruction of rights and freedoms, and the theft from the population in the name of ‘a refined but not ill-intentioned tsar,’” he says Surkov’s notions suggest. In short, power is to pass to Nietzschean “’people of long will.’” This category of people are permitted to do anything they want to the people with impunity as long as they remain loyal to the tsar. “Any actions of ‘people of the long will’ are correct because they are true. For them, morality doesn’t exist. Their actions are dictated only by their will. Their will is motivated by their nature, and their nature is not recognized as profane.” Instead, the essence of their nature is “the Law of Force and Action (divine and therefore nor formed) against the Chaos of human degradation and nihilism. Everyone else must be subordinate to them and they are to trust their Leader, Tsar and Emperor.” Their lives are governed by these “understandings” and not by anything else. The people in this system are the object not the subject of politics: their responsibility is only to trust those above them and above all the tsar and to submit because in Surkov’s world – and that of his boss as well that is the natural order of things that was disturbed by the events of 1991 when Russia mistakenly accepted some Western ideas that must not be jettisoned. Such an arrangement might be justified if it were the case that these “’people of the long will’” acted on behalf of “Truth and Justice.” But that is not how things are, Shevchenko says. They act as purely selfish individuals concerned only about the maximization of their own ability to steal and build wealth for themselves. These people and their system can thus never expect to enjoy the trust of the people for long, certainly not for the decades of centuries of a Putinist system that Surkov seems to think are in store for them. His words may appear to justify all this, but they reflect something deeper, he suggests, the fears such people have that they won’t be able to act this way forever.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putinism is an Ideology and a Threat to Russia and the World, Skobov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, February 11 – Because there is no book entitled “Putinism,” many have convinced themselves that the Putin regime functions without an ideology, but Vladislav Surkov’s latest essay in Nezavisimaya gazeta shows that it exists and that it is extremely dangerous, according to Russian commentator Aleksandr Skobov. Having read Surkov’s text, Skobov says, he finds that it confirms three theses that the commentator has long insisted on (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5C61A758138A8). They include the following: First, the Putin regime does have an ideology, even though it has not been formulated by “the nominal head of the regime” and is not contained in books labelled as such. Second, “the ideology of the Putin regime is a variety of fascism.” That Putin has not fully implemented his ideology does not change things. And third, “the global pretensions of the Putin regime are the destruction of liberal democracy as a social-political model in the entire world and its ‘exit from history.’” These three things mean, Skobov concludes, that “liberal democracy can defend itself only by forcing the Russian imperial state to ‘exit from history.’”

Hungary Schools Pompeo Over ‘Huge Hypocrisy’ on Russia: ‘We’re Sick and Tired’ – Sputnik International

The top Hungarian diplomat’s remarks came during his joint press conference with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who, in particular, warned Hungary not to let Russian President Vladimir Putin “drive wedges between friends” in NATO. “As for Russia – and I have told the State Secretary about this – there is enormous hypocrisy and political correctness in the European political arena,” Szijjarto said.

‘Enormous hypocrisy’: Hungary blasts US’ warnings on the dangers of dealing with Russia or China — RT World News

US State Secretary Mike Pompeo’s quest to scare Hungary away from dealing with Russia and China appears to have turned sour, as Budapest said it’s fed up with lectures about its foreign policy.

Hungarian FM accuses West of ‘enormous hypocrisy’ over Russia – YouTube

AFP news agency Published on Feb 11, 2019 Hungarian Foreign minister tells US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that his criticism of Hungary’s diplomacy when it comes to Russia is misguided, accusing the West of ‘enormous hypocrisy’. SOUNDBITE

Support for Ukraine, Countering Russian Influence Among Main Aims of Mike Pompeo’s Trip to Central Europe

The trip is a sign of the Trump administration’s commitment to NATO, despite President Donald Trump’s comments that questioned the value of the Western military alliance.

Pompeo urges Hungary to support Ukraine in countering Russian aggression

U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo called on Hungary to support Ukraine in its quest for sovereignty and territorial integrity. — Ukrinform.

Pompeo in Hungary for Orbán meeting as US reengages in region | US news | The Guardian

US secretary of state will dine with Hungarian leader before travelling to other countries

Mike Pompeo Seeks to Counteract Russian Chinese Influence in Central Europe  | National Review

“The Russians and the Chinese . . . do not remotely share the American ideals that we care so deeply about.”

Pompeo begins a divisive march through Europe – The Washington Post

The secretary of state is on a tour of illiberal states in Central Europe.

Pompeo: China and Russia seek ‘to erode freedom’ in Central Europe

BUDAPEST, Hungary — China and Russia seek “to erode freedom” in Central European nations once dominated by the Soviet Union, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned Monday in Hungary’s capital.

US Secretary of State visits Hungary | #TheCube – YouTube

euronews (in English) Published on Feb 11, 2019 #TheCube | “This visit to Viktor Orbán’s Hungary has been criticised some on the left of politics”. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Hungary as he kicks off his Central Europe tour. Alex Morgan has the details.

Pompeo meets Hungarian Foreign Minister Szijjarto in Budapest – YouTube

AFP news agency Published on Feb 11, 2019 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on a diplomatic visit to Budapest. IMAGES of the men shaking hands and the top of the meeting

Pompeo warns Hungary not to let Russia divide West – YouTube

AFP news agency Published on Feb 11, 2019 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warns Hungary against letting Russia “drive wedges between friends in NATO”, as he urges Budapest to support Ukraine “in its request for sovereignty”. SOUNDBITE of Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State

Mike Pompeo must strengthen diplomacy with Central Europe | TheHill

Normally, a visit by the United States Secretary of State to capitals of America’s Central European allies would be mostly a sequence of courtesy calls. But these are not normal times.

Pompeo Warns Hungary Against Closer Ties With China – WSJ

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opened a tour of Central Europe aimed at countering growing Chinese and Russian influence there with a warning to Hungary about the dangers of forging close ties with Beijing.

Pompeo calls on Hungary to support Ukraine – news world | UNIAN

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called on his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto to support Ukraine. Speaking at a joint press conference with Mr Sijjarto in Budapest on Monday, Pompeo welcomed Hungary’s steps toward boosting the country’s defenses: “These steps, together with Hungary’s commitment to spend 2% of GDP on defense and a strong presence in Afghanistan strengthens Hungary and NATO’s security.” “You need to look no further than Ukraine, Hungary’s next-door neighbor, to see why this is needed. And today I spoke with the foreign minister about the urgent support for Ukraine in its quest for sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he added. “We must not let Putin drive wedges between friends in NATO,” Pompeo stressed. “Hungarians all too well from their history that an authoritarian Russia will never be a friend to the freedom and sovereignty of smaller nations.” At the same time, Pompeo added that China was also trying to undermine freedom in the region. As UNIAN reported earlier, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said Hungary should realize the scale of Russian hybrid methods, including in connection with last year’s arson attack on the Hungarian Center in Ukraine’s Zakarpattia region, which, as it emerged during court hearings in Poland, had been orchestrated by a pro-Russian journalist and executed by Polish members of a far-right group. UNIAN memo. Relations between Ukraine and Hungary deteriorated after the Verkhovna Rada adopted a new law on education in 2017. Hungary has been blocking Ukraine-NATO Commission meetings, alleging that the language provision of the law on education, which stipulates that the national language is the language of the educational process in educational institutions violate the rights of Hungarians living in Ukraine.

Huawei: Mike Pompeo warns Europe over using Chinese firm’s tech – CNN

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned European countries on Monday that using technology from Huawei could hurt their relationship with the United States.

Huawei’s Presence in Hungary Complicates Partnership with US, Warns Pompeo

Chinese telecommunication manufacturer has established Hungary as a European hub, where it can develop its fifth-generation mobile networks

Orbán opens EU elections campaign, vows defence of ‘Christian’ Europe – EURACTIV.com

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán launched his European elections campaign Sunday (10 February) calling for voters to defend “Christian” nations against immigration, which he said led to the “virus of terrorism”.

When European Countries Retreat From Democracy, How Should the U.S. Respond? – Foreign Policy

LtGen D.A. Deptula | Building The Air Force We Need

China and Russia are advancing their military capabilities that threaten U.S. strategic preeminence. Investments made in the Air Force’s force structure must focus on combat aircraft able to effectively meet the security challenges identified in the current national security and military strategies.

Bulgarian Prime Minister, British Envoy Discuss Links Between Skripal, Gebrev Cases

The British ambassador to Sofia has discussed with top Bulgarian officials possible links between the 2015 poisoning of a local businessman in Bulgaria and last year’s nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.

UAWire – Bulgarian parliamentary commission will hold hearings to discuss 2015 Novichok poisoning attempt on Bulgarian businessman

On Thursday, February 14, the Parliamentary Commission for Control of the Security Services of Bulgaria will gather for hearings regarding the assassination attempt on Bulgarian businessman Emilian Gebrev that occurred nearly four years ago. According to the investigations by The Insider and Bellingcat, in April 2015, Gebrev was poisoned with the Russian nerve agent Novichok or a similar toxin of this group. Investigators noted that Gebrev was poisoned during the same period that a GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian Armed Forces) officer Sergey Fedotov, also known as Sergey Vyacheslavovich, was visiting Bulgaria. “I hope that Bulgarian, British and other European law enforcement are actively working on the investigation of this case,” said Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Deputy Chair of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria or GERB, Ukrinform reported. Gebrev owns the companies Dunarit and Emco and a weapons factory. The businessman believes that he was of interest to the GRU because of weapon production. In 2015, Emko supplied weapons to Ukraine which were directly used to counter Russia’s aggression in the Donbas. Gebrev also believes that Russia wanted to take control of his weapons factory. Earlier, The Telegraph reported that there were not two but three people that poisoned former Russian military intelligence officer and UK double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. The third man’s last name was Fedotov and stayed in Great Britain after the assassination attempt.

Russia calls UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine

Russia has initiated the holding of a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine on February 12 under the pretext of the fourth anniversary of the signing of the Minsk agreements, but its real purpose is to divert attention from a special meeting on February 20 dedicated to the fifth anniversary of Russian aggression against Ukraine. — Ukrinform.

Russia calls UNSC meeting on Ukraine – news politics | UNIAN

The UN Security Council on February 12 will hold a meeting at Russia’s initiative, according to a speaker for the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN, Oleh Nikolenko. Ukraine’s Permanent Mission to the UN notes that the real purpose of the initiative is to divert attention from the first comprehensive discussion at the UN General Assembly of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. The UN Security Council on February 12 will hold a meeting at Russia’s initiative, according to a speaker for the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN, Oleh Nikolenko. “On February 12, a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Ukraine will be held at the request of the Russian Federation. The declared reason is the fourth anniversary of the signing of Minsk agreements,” he wrote on Facebook. At the same time, Nikolenko urged not to rush “to believe that Russia stated being concerned about the Minsk agreements, of which it has not yet fulfilled a single item.” “The thing is that this is another ‘smoke screen’ aiming to divert the attention of UN member states from the first comprehensive discussion in the UN General Assembly of the Russian aggression against Ukraine. A special meeting is scheduled for February 20 – the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the conflict – in the framework of the new agenda item of the General Assembly, which Ukraine submitted last September,” the speaker said. He added that no one in the UN believes in the constructive role of the Kremlin in resolving “the conflict it initiated.” “Therefore, the Russian side convening the Security Council meeting looks particularly cynical. But does it surprise anyone anymore?” stated Nikolenko. At the same time, he assured that the Ukrainian side will use this opportunity to bring to the knowledge of the international community relevant information about the developments in the east of Ukraine. “In recent days, Russian militants have been shelling Ukrainian positions there, including from weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements. We will also talk about why it is important to maintain pressure on the aggressor until peace returns to Ukrainian lands,” Nikolenko wrote. Also, he noted that the meeting of the UN Security Council will begin at 17:00 Kyiv time.

Donald Tusk to arrive in Ukraine next week

President of the European Council Donald Tusk will visit Ukraine on February 18-20, Radio Free Europe reporter Rikard Jozwiak has said. — Ukrinform.

Resurgent Russia aims to bring Ukraine back into its orbit – UK defense secretary – news world | UNIAN

British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson said Russia is “resurgent” and rebuilding its military arsenal, aiming to bring former Soviet states, including Ukraine, and Georgia, “back into its orbit.” “To talk but fail to act risks our nation being seen as little more than a paper tiger,” the official stressed.

Poroshenko vows to apply for EU membership, receive NATO MAP in 2023 – news politics | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has pledged Ukraine will apply for European Union (EU) membership and receive a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Membership Action Plan (MAP) in 2023. Next week, Poroshenko is to sign Constitution amendments seeking full membership of Ukraine in the EU and NATO.

Poroshenko to sign bill on amendments to Constitution on NATO, EU integration next week – 112.international

Petro Poroshenko stated he would sign the bill “On amendments to the Constitution on Ukraine’s strategic orientation to EU and NATO” next week

Iskanders deployed along Ukraine border mean Russia preparing to create “land corridor” to Crimea – expert – news politics | UNIAN

The deployment of Iskander-M nuclear-capable missile systems along the Ukrainian border indicates that the Russian Federation is preparing for an operation on creating a so-called “land corridor” to the Crimean peninsula Russia has already seized from Ukraine, that’s according to Mykhailo Samus, Deputy Director for International Affairs at the Center for Army, Conversion, and Disarmament Studies. If Moscow chooses to go on such mission, it will primarily employ missile, air, and naval forces, the expert believes. The deployment of Iskander-M nuclear-capable missile systems along the Ukrainian border indicates that the Russian Federation is preparing for an operation on creating a so-called “land corridor” to the Crimean peninsula Russia has already seized from Ukraine, that’s according to Mykhailo Samus, Deputy Director for International Affairs at the Center for Army, Conversion, and Disarmament Studies. “I believe, and so does our Center, that at present, the main threat coming from the Russian Federation is not their land component, but rather their missile, air, and naval forces, since Russia fully controls the Black Sea and fully outpowers in the Black Sea region not only Ukraine, but also NATO Allies,” he told UNIAN. “That is, any aggressive actions on the part of the Russian Federation, if we talk about a large-scale operation or a local operation on the ‘land corridor’ to Crimea, will be carried out by missile, air, and naval forces,” Samus said, adding that land forces will be employed after that. According to the military expert, the deployment of missile systems, including Iskander-M launchers, near the Ukrainian border is a direct threat to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s ex-foreign minister on Sajdik’s Donbas proposals: Path to freezing conflict for decades – news politics | UNIAN

Former Ukrainian Foreign Minister Volodymyr Ohryzko is convinced that the proposals put forward by Special Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office in Ukraine and the Trilateral Contact Group, Martin Sajdik, on resolving the situation in Donba is a way to freeze conflict for decades. Their implementation is unacceptable for Ukraine, the diplomat stressed.

Ambassador Martin Sajdik | OSCE

Ambassador Martin Sajdik was appointed Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to the Trilateral Contact Group on the implementation of the peace plan in the East of Ukraine on 4 January 2017, being previously appointed Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine by the former German and Serbia’s OSCE Chairp

US Embassy claims Russia has to draw off troops and release Ukrainian prisoners

12.02.19 13:32 – US Embassy claims Russia has to draw off troops and release Ukrainian prisoners The U.S. Embassy to Ukraine stated that since signing the Minsk agreements four years ago Russia has been consistently violating them. View news.

Russia not implementing Minsk agreements for four years – U.S. embassy

Russia continues to fuel the humanitarian, economic and environmental crises in Donbas, and it has repeatedly failed to implement the Minsk agreements for the past four years, the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine has reported on Twitter. — Ukrinform.

Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia & occupied Crimea jailed for much longer than murderers – Human Rights in Ukraine

A court in Russian-occupied Crimea has sentenced a man who killed his wife, dismembered her body and threw the parts in different rubbish bins to eight years’ imprisonment, 11 years less than a Crimean Tatar political prisoner imprisoned for his faith –

Security officials warned authorities of Russian threat in Crimea even before Yanukovych came to power – SBU – news politics | UNIAN

The Security Service of Ukraine had warned Ukrainian leadership about the Russian threat as regards Crimea before Viktor Yanukovich became president, according to deputy chief of the Security Service’s Department of counterintelligence protection of national interests in the field of information security, Colonel Yulia Laputina. Warnings came just before Viktor Yanukovych was voted in to take the country’s top post. He immediately curtailed all programs of countering Russian intelligence efforts.

Sea Breeze-2019 to be held in Kherson, Mykolaiv and Odesa regions – 112.international

Sea Breeze-2019 will kick off in Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odesa regions, and in Black Sea

12 attacks against Ukraine army in past day: one Ukrainian soldier wounded, one terrorist destroyed, – JFO center

12.02.19 10:08 – 12 attacks against Ukraine army in past day: one Ukrainian soldier wounded, one terrorist destroyed, – JFO center Feb. 11, Russia occupation forces violated the ceasefire 12 times employing weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements eight times. View news.

Donbas war update: Ukraine reports one WIA in past day – news war | UNIAN

Russia’s hybrid military forces in the past 24 hours mounted 12 attacks on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas, with one Ukrainian soldier reported as wounded in action (WIA). One invader was killed in action and another one was injured, intelligence reports say.

Ukrainian military conducts drills with Uragan multiple rocket launchers in Donbas (Video) – news war | UNIAN

The Ukrainian military has conducted drills in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, using Uragan multiple launch rocket systems. The servicemen coped with the task, having demonstrated professionalism.

SBU to block websites endangering national security

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) will soon start blocking websites suspected of undermining the country’s national security before the presidential election. — Ukrinform.

Ukraine to unveil new counter-battery radar during India Show 2019 – Defence Blog

Ukrainian state-owned company SpetsTechnoExport, part of the UkrOboronProm, is planning to unveil a new and improved version of its radar systems during Aero India 2019 exhibition in Bangalore. According to a statement released by the SpetsTechnoExport, the company will unveil some models and concepts of new radar systems, including counter-battery radar 1L221Е at the Aero India 2019. The new 1L221Е is developing to help protect deployed warfighters from rockets, mortar rounds, and artillery shells. It is a radar complex, equipped with the digital active phased antenna array (DAPAA). Complex provides the reliable and high-accuracy detection of coordinates for the first shot (launch) for the entire fire depth, issues the target detections for automated fire control systems, can adjust artillery and missile systems, verifies the shooting systems classes (mortars, artillery, tactical missiles), detects the coordinates of impact point for mines, shells or missiles, provides the detection and tracking of low RCS targets of UAV type. 1L221Е Radar complex maintains the reconnaissance and spotting modes simultaneously in the azimuth sector. For reference, Ukraine is among the top-ten countries in the world developing and producing radar technologies. Following the demise of the USSR, the country has been able to retain a nearly self-sufficient radar R&D and production industry and manufacturing capacities for radar electronic hardware and associated subsystems. Ukrainian industries have been producing new radar products while upgrading and updating already proven technologies.

UkrOboronProm unveils improved version of T-64 tank – Defence Blog

Ukrainian defense giant, the UkrOboronProm, has unveiled an improved version of the T-64 main battle tank. On 11 February, the UkrOboronProm has released footage shows a new version of T-64 main battle tank, that was developed by the UOP SE Kharkiv Armored Plant. The Ukrainian State Concern UkrOboronProm released video of a demonstration of running and firing capabilities of a new version of T-64 , adding that improved tank equipped with a new thermal imager, passive armour, digital radio, and navigation unit. “During upgrading, modern night vision devises with an electro-optical system of the third generation is integrated into the combat vehicle,” said in a statement. According to a statement, cost-effective upgrade package envisages the installation of new sensors and armour including a satellite navigation unit by the UOP SE “Orizon-Navigation”, thermal imaging surveillance devices of Ukrainian production for all crew members, third-generation electro-optical vision systems and modern blocks of passive armour package. The company added that the new devices do not require changes in the design of the tank and are installed on a regular fixture and are connected to the tank electricity supply without changes. Also, the tank is equipped with new digital radio “Lybid-K 2RB” – providing a secure connection from interference and interception of communications at distances up to 70km.

410th plant began to master the repair of Boeing aircraft

The State Enterprise “Civil Aviation Plant 410” has already begun to develop services for the repair and maintenance of aviation equipment of the Boeing brand. Today on the territory of the enterprise are two Boeing 737-500 aircraft, in which maintenance and painting work is carried out. Upon completion of the training of specialists and certification of production, the company will be able to significantly expand its capabilities by independently performing work on the maintenance of modern aviation engineering. Recall that previously reported maintenance volumes of 5 aircraft Boeing-737 per year with a gradual increase to 2024 to 40 aircraft per year.

Ukrainian plant to repair Boeing planes – Civil Aviation Plant 410 to provide repair services of Boeing planes – 112.international

Ukrainian state enterprise Civil Aviation Plant 410 located in Kyiv started mastering services on repair and maintenance services of Boeing aircraft, as the website of the enterprise reported. “The enterprise started mastering the services on repair and maintenance services of Boeing aircraft, conducting joint works with “CONCORDE AEROTECHNIK” on these aircraft,” the message says. Related: 83 new plants opened in Ukraine in 2018 Today, there are two Boeing 737-500 planes on the enterprise, the staff is working on technical servicing and painting. “Civil Aviation Plant 410 has a developed infrastructure, qualified personnel, modern technologies and prime location near the international airport Kyiv. The staff of the plant is introducing technological innovations,” the message reads.

Kyiv plant to be licensed for Boeing aircraft maintenance – news economics | UNIAN

Kyiv-based State Enterprise Plant 410 Civil Aviation has already begun mastering aircraft maintenance services, in particular, to service Boeing aircraft. The enterprise will significantly expand its capabilities after completion of specialist training and licensing.

Ukraine to repair and service Boeing aircraft

Ukraine’s state-owned enterprise Civil Aviation Plant 410 has already started providing services on the repair and maintenance of aviation equipment, according to the news portal Ukrainian Military Pages. — Ukrinform.

‘Banderite’ Rebrand: Ukrainian Police Declare Admiration For Nazi Collaborators To Make A Point – To Inform is to Influence

For years, the Soviets, followed by the Russians, called Ukrainians “Banderites”, an intended insult equating them with “Nazi Collaborators”. Their logic is lost on those with knowledge of Stepan Bandera and his life dedicated to the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine. Bandera and the Ukrainian Independence Movement, the OUN, worked against both the Soviets and the Nazis, to gain their independence. They worked with whoever they could to work towards gaining their independence and sovereignty. Yes, they worked with the Nazis against the Russian and switched sides when necessary. I am grossly simplifying, of course. The point of this is when Russian propaganda claims that Bandera was a Nazi collaborator, it becomes obvious they are blindly pushing a grossly incomplete story. When the policeman in the video called a Ukrainian a Banderite, it was a result of listening to Russian propaganda. This is a classic case of Russian propaganda cherry picking, telling an incomplete story. In this case, the policeman displayed his adherence to Russian propaganda, and now Ukrainian senior law enforcement leaders are publicly embracing a pro-Bandera stance. Russia loses, Ukraine wins. Once again, Russian propaganda has been turned around. Being labeled a Banderite is now a mark of pride. </end editorial>

‘Banderite’ Rebrand: Ukrainian Police Declare Admiration For Nazi Collaborators To Make A Point

Across social media, Ukrainian cops made it known: They’re “Banderites,” from the ministry on down.

One policeman who detained C14 members in Podil served with charge papers, – SBI deputy head Varchenko

12.02.19 11:45 – One policeman who detained C14 members in Podil served with charge papers, – SBI deputy head Varchenko State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) officers have served the Podil police department officer with charge papers. View news.

Ukrainian Official Suspected In Activist’s Death Faces Detention Order

A court in Kyiv is expected to consider a request from Ukrainian prosecutors to detain a high-ranking regional official suspected of organizing the killing of anticorruption activist Kateryna Handz…

Ukraine official charged over acid killing – BBC News

A top councillor is accused over an acid attack on an anti-corruption activist that shocked Ukraine.

Poroshenko wants to see about 30 mln foreign tourists come to Ukraine every year – news economics | UNIAN

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says he wants to increase the share of tourism in the country’s economy and attract about 30 million foreign tourists to Ukraine every year due to better tourism opportunities in the capital and the regions. Tourism accounts for 1.5% of Ukraine’s GDP.

Poroshenko: 42.6 percent of Ukrainian exports going to EU

Currently, the share of the European Union in the structure of Ukrainian exports is 42.6 percent, while the share of the Russian Federation is only 7.7 percent. — Ukrinform.

Ukraine-EU trade volume increases by 55 percent in past three years, – Poroshenko

12.02.19 13:57 – Ukraine-EU trade volume increases by 55 percent in past three years, – Poroshenko The EU share in the structure of Ukraine’s exports is 42.6 percent, while Russia’s share is only 7.7 percent. View news.

Shadow economy level in Ukraine reduces to 32% during 2018 – 112.international

32 % – is the lowest level over the last 10 years

′Mr. Jones′: How Stalin′s famine in Ukraine was exposed | Film | DW | 11.02.2019

Agniezska Holland’s Berlinale film revisits the Holodomor, the man-made famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in 1933. Reporter Gareth Jones broke the story that Soviets tried to hide and other journalists denied.

Meet Ukraine’s Presidential Candidates | Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty

More than 80 applied, more than 30 are in. Meet the contenders Ukraine’s presidential race.

Tymoshenko, Sadovyi meet to “coordinate” efforts during parliamentary elections

12.02.19 12:51 – Tymoshenko, Sadovyi meet to “coordinate” efforts during parliamentary elections Presidential candidate Yuliia Tymoshenko, who went on an election tour of the Lviv Region on Feb. 11, has met another presidential candidate Andrii Sadovyi. View news.

Savchenko-Ruban case to be heard at Chernihiv court

The case against Verkhovna Rada (unaligned) deputy Nadiia Savchenko and ex-head of Officer Corps Volodymyr Ruban who are suspected of actions aimed at violently changing or overthrowing the constitutional order or seizing state power will be heard at the Chernihiv District Court of the Chernihiv region.

US interested in transparent and democratic elections in Ukraine

The American side pays great attention to ensuring the fair and transparent presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine. — Ukrinform.

Over 300 parishes of former UOC-MP join new Orthodox Church of Ukraine – news ukraine | UNIAN

Over 300 parishes of the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) have become part of the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) since the unification council and the creation of the local OCU independent of Russia’s influence. Vinnytsia region is in the lead.Over 300 parishes of the former Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (UOC-MP) have become part of the newly created Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU) since the unification council and the creation of the local OCU independent of Russia’s influence.

A Temple To Space In A Ukrainian Church

The “Space Museum” in the small Ukrainian town of Pereyaslav-Khmelnytskyy is housed in a 19th-century Orthodox church. It’s one of many buildings that were repurposed or destroyed as part of an antireligion campaign during the Soviet era. It now houses artifacts including a lunar rover.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Divides Churches Subordinate to Official Structures of Four ‘Traditional’ Religions and Everyone Else, Soldatov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, February 11 – The 1993 Constitution notwithstanding, Russian officialdom divides believers subordinate to officially recognized structures of the four “traditional” religions – Orthodoxy, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism – and almost everyone else, including those in these four who follow their own leaders and those beyond the four Moscow calls “sects.” Those in the first category are protected from abuse as long as they are submissive to the dictates of the state; those who in the second, including Orthodox Christians who don’t accept the Moscow Patriarchate as well as other Christians and numerous groups in the other three, are now grouped together and subject to repression. As religious specialist Aleksandr Soldatov puts it in Novaya gazeta, “officials are convinced that in the Russian Federation, there are four ‘traditional confessions’ with which the state cooperates, a few ‘tolerated’ confessions of the second class … and everyone else beyond these limits are ‘sects’” that state treats with “various degrees of hostility” (novayagazeta.ru/articles/2019/02/10/79503-veroy-ne-vyshli). Only by recognizing this Russian approach to religion, which is more about structures than about faith, can one make sense of the ongoing repression of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, many independent Orthodox Christians, some Protestants, and even Buddhists who pursue their own course independent of the officially sanctioned structure. Russia’s chief “sect” hunter, Aleksandr Dvorkin, has been pushing for the ban on the Jehovah’s Witnesses for a long time; and Soldatov suggests that he should be held accountable for the absurd and cruel six-year jail sentence just handed down to Dennis Cristensen. But Dvorkin, who has close ties to the Moscow Patriarchate and the Kremlin, has a larger agenda. What he wants and apparently what the powers that be want as well is the complete subordination of all religious groups to officially recognized structures that the state can intimidate and control and discrimination against and even outright bans of all others regardless of whether they are Christian or anything else. That focus on control of structures rather than on religious faith informed Stalin’s approach to the restoration of the Moscow Patriarchate and its subsequent management by interior ministry officials, an approach that continued throughout the rest of the Soviet period and, with the exception of a brief period in 1990-1992, has now come back. It is important to understand this point, that the Kremlin cares about structural control rather than faith, because “neither Orthodoxy, nor Christianity if one considers it separately from Orthodoxy, nor Islam, nor Buddhism nor Judaism have monopoly structures. Besides the main center recognized by the state each of these relations has a mass of ‘alternative’ structures.” All of these groups are increasingly at risk, and those who view the Jehovah’s Witnesses as an exception are deceiving themselves. Oppression against them will only open the doors to more oppression against the others, including some many in the West believe are immune from such attacks, Soldatov suggests. “Just as Russia has not been able to cease to be an empire,” he concludes, “it lacks the ability to become a civil state.”