Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (99)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Maidan shootings started five years ago

On this day five years ago, the most tragic stage of the Revolution of Dignity began in Ukraine.

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Reports the Russian GLCM displayed publicly was not the nuclear-capable 9M729 / SSC-8. Russians claim further testing of the nuclear powered 9M730 Burevestnik / SSC-X-9 SKYFALL. Russia claims development of another new INF violating missile.

Another duplicitous play by Russia – this time in Venezuela.

NATO update, Munich Security Conference, another Belarus backflip, the second in a week, and reports a shipment of S-400 / SA-21 hardware to the PLA was catastrophically damaged in transit from Russia.

A very large Russian flag unfurled on the front of the Salisbury Cathedral, days before the first anniversary of the CW attack – producing major media coverage. Perpetrators as yet unknown, Muscovy immediately using it very intensively for propaganda, which begs the question of whether they conducted this distasteful stunt directly or by a proxy in the UK.

An extensive package of reports on Ukraine’s engagement at the Munich Security Conference. Azov, Crimea and Donbas updates – AFU SOF nail a Russian SOF team, 4 Russian KIA and 1 EPW.

Capability update – domestic Sapsan TBM as yet not funded, only the MTCR compliant export variant.

Economy, politics updates, and a fascinating report on the reality vs fiction of anti-Semitic attacks in Ukraine – to what extent the Russians are also involved in the French attacks remains to be determined. Election update.

Two arson attempts against ROC churches in Ukraine, three detained perpetrators disclose that they were contracted by the FSB, from an operations center in Rostov, Russia. Tally of defecting ROC parishes now 320. Nezavisimaya Gazeta concerned that Russian persecution of evangelical churches in Russia will turn US evangelicals against Russia, reviving the Reagan era label of the “evil empire” – given the propaganda effort by Muscovy to turn the West into an enemy to maintain domestic cohesion, this is likely now an inevitable outcome.


U.S. Intelligence: Russia Tried to Con the World With Bogus Missile

The Russians hyped a cruise missile launch earlier this year. But a briefing by the CIA and a second agency determined that it was essentially a hoax.Earlier this month, those two U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the cruise missile canisters and launch vehicle the Russian Ministry of Defense publicly showed at the briefing were not related to the missile that the United States has argued since 2014 violates the 1987 treaty, The Daily Beast has learned. According to two U.S. government sources with knowledge of the American assessment of that Russian press conference, the treaty-violating missile is larger than the canister shown publicly by the Russian Ministry of Defense and uses a separate launch vehicle.

UAWire – Russia tests nuclear power engine for its new Burevestnik cruise missile

The nuclear power unit for Russia’s subsonic Burevestnik cruise missile successfully passed testing at one of the country’s testing ranges in January, which means that the Burevestnik missile will have a virtually unlimited flight range, TASS reports, citing a source in the missile construction sector. “In January at one of the testing ranges, the most important stage of testing for the Burevestnik subsonic missile system was successfully completed – the testing of the nuclear power unit,” the source told the agency, observing that the tests had confirmed the “claimed characteristics of the reactor, which give the rocket an unlimited flight range.” The source did not provide any more specific details. Russia’s development of the Burevestnik began in 2011 in connection with the US’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972. In the spring of 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his annual address to the Federal Assembly that the planned nuclear power engine for the Burevestnik would give it a virtually unlimited flight range, and that it can also fly at a low altitude due to its landscape tracking system. CNBC reported earlier that several unsuccessful launches of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik had been made between November 2017 and February 2018. In February 2019, The Diplomat reported a “relatively successful” launch of a Burevestnik, noting that this was the 13th test of the intercontinental supermissile.

UAWire – Kremlin: Russia starts developing intermediate-range ground-based missile

Russia has started developing an intermediate-range ground-based missile, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov during a panel session of the 55th Munich Security Conference. “Russia has begun the scientific and technical and development work in this regard, just like the US,” he said. Ryabkov noted that, on 2 February, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will not deploy short or intermediate-range missiles anywhere until American missiles appear there. “The US must decide what to do next,” he emphasized, saying that it depends on Washington whether the security of Europe and the US will come under threat. “Russia will comply with its unilateral moratorium,” the diplomat said. Moscow will respond immediately if Washington expresses the desire to discuss the situation surrounding the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, Ryabkov promised. “As things stand, we made a number of suggestions to our American colleagues on how to escape the situation [surrounding the INF], but there was no political desire on their part. And I suspect that this is related to the fact that Russia is treated as a revisionist force which is not worthy to sit at the same table as the US,” he observed. “We are not fazed by this, but, as President Putin said, as soon as they are ready to consider this matter seriously, we will return to the topic. But this moment has not yet come, and when it comes, we will not delay it,” the diplomat added. Ryabkov drew attention to the fact that during Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly last year, he presented several strategic weapons that were being developed. According to Ryabkov, this was due to the Bush Administration’s withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002. “During a number of meetings on the highest level between Vladimir Putin and George Bush junior, the Russian party posed the question, ‘What do you think we should do to reestablish strategic balance? The answer was, ‘Do what you want, because the anti-missile defense system being created by the US is not directed against Russia’,” Ryabkov noted. “Now, in the face of the upcoming US withdrawal from the INF, we must look how to balance the entire strategic stability system,” Ryabkov continued.

Withdrawing from the INF Treaty would cripple arms control efforts for decades – The Washington Post

With the Western alliance already under strain, opportunities for new arms-control talks are few and far between.

Russian duplicity in Venezuela – To Inform is to Influence

17 Feb 2019 07:55PM Russia’s Gazprombank freezes accounts of Venezuela’s PDVSA: source Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under U.S. sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday. MOSCOW: Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under U.S. sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday. While many foreign firms have been cutting their exposure to PDVSA since the sanctions were imposed, the fact that a lender closely aligned with the Russian state is following suit is significant because the Kremlin has been among Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s staunchest supporters.

Russia’s Gazprombank freezes accounts of Venezuela’s PDVSA: source | Reuters

Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under U.S. sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday.

Russia’s Gazprombank freezes accounts of Venezuela’s PDVSA: source – Channel NewsAsia

MOSCOW: Russian lender Gazprombank has decided to freeze the accounts of Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA and halted transactions with the firm to reduce the risk of the bank falling under U.S. sanctions, a Gazprombank source told Reuters on Sunday. While many foreign firms have been cutting their exposure to PDVSA since the sanctions were imposed, the fact that a lender closely aligned with the Russian state is following suit is significant because the Kremlin has been among Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s staunchest supporters. “PDVSA’s accounts are currently frozen. As you’ll understand, operations cannot be carried out,” the source said. Gazprombank did not reply to a Reuters request for a comment. Reuters reported this month that PDVSA was telling customers of its joint ventures to deposit oil sales proceeds in its Gazprombank accounts, according to sources and an internal document, in a move to try to sideline fresh U.S. sanctions on PDVSA. Washington says the sanctions, imposed on Jan. 28, are aimed at blocking Maduro’s access to the country’s oil revenue after opposition leader Juan Guaido proclaimed himself interim president and received widespread Western support. Gazprombank is Russia’s third biggest lender by assets and includes among its shareholders Russian state gas company Gazprom.

British forces to step up Arctic deployment to protect Nato’s northern flank from Russia

British forces are to step up Arctic deployments to protect Nato’s northern flank from Russia, Gavin Williamson has announced.

UAWire – Czech Republic to send a mechanized battalion to the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps

The Czech Republic will send a mechanized battalion to the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, said the Chief of the General Staff of the Czech …

U.S. Senator: No Provisions On Nord Stream 2 In New Sanctions Bill

U.S. senator Bob Menendez says the new Russia sanctions bill that he is cosponsoring will not affect the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline carrying Russian gas to Germany underneath the Baltic Sea.

Munich Conference Highlights a Divided U.S. – WSJ

A divided America was on display this weekend in Munich where Vice President Mike Pence and Democrats offered competing visions of the trans-Atlantic relationship that could shape the world for years to come.

Belarus Always Ready To Be EU’s ‘Reliable’ Partner, Says Lukashenka

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says his country “Will always be the European Union’s partner.”

All Russian-made S-400 missiles sent to China have been destroyed – Defence Blog

Rostec Corporation CEO Sergei Chemezov has confirmed that Russia was forced to destroy all delivered to China S-400 missile after a vessel transporting these got caught in a storm. Speaking at a press conference at the IDEX 2019 military exhibition, Chemezov said that Russia had long ago signed a contract with China for the supply of S-400 systems with anti-aircraft missiles, according toRBC.ru report. “We should have already delivered. Unfortunately, a storm struck the vessel that was delivering the missiles, and all these missiles we were forced to be destroyed,” he said, according to news agency RBC.ru. A vessel with S-400 systems and missiles on board, which came out of Ust-Luga (Leningrad region) in the English Channel areal caught in a storm. In conditions of strong wind and pitching, the holding equipment of the attachment could not stand it, and part of the equipment was severely damaged. According to Chemezov, now new missiles are being manufactured in Russia, which will be sent to China. Defense Editor for Aviation Week Steve Trimble later on its Twitter account has released the transcript of the exchange with Rostec CEO Chemezov about the S-400 system delivered to China.

John Glen MP on Twitter: “Thankfully it has been removed now – what a stupid stunt – mocking the serious events sadly experienced in Salisbury last year… https://t.co/uQSq6UZzmT”

 

Outrage in Salisbury as Russian flag unfurled on cathedral

A Russian flag has been unfurled on scaffolding at Salisbury cathedral, sparking condemnation among locals in the city that was at the centre of last year’s nerve agent attack.

Russian flag flown on Salisbury Cathedral ‘disrespectful’ – BBC News

The stunt has been called “disrespectful” and “stupid” in light of last year’s Novichok poisoning.

Russian flag appears on Salisbury Cathedral two weeks before novichok attack anniversary | UK News | Sky News

Russian spy agency GRU is accused of carrying out the nerve agent attack in the city in March last year.

Russian Flag Flies on Cathedral in English Town Where Ex-Spy Was Poisoned – The New York Times

The stunt came two weeks before the anniversary of a nerve-agent attack on a former Russian spy in Salisbury, England.

Russian flag hung on Salisbury Cathedral year after novichok attack | UK news | The Guardian

Staff have since removed flag hung on scaffolding before anniversary of poisoning of Skripals

Russian Flag Hung From Salisbury Cathedral Nearly a Year After Novichok Poisoning

As ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal’s health reportedly takes a turn for the worse.

Russian Flag Hung From Salisbury Cathedral

A Russian flag appeared on scaffolding outside Salisbury’s cathedral, nearly a year after a nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy in the English city.

Salisbury Cathedral blasts ‘stupid’ Russian flag stunt

The hoisting of a massive Russian flag on Salisbury Cathedral's scaffolding has been branded &quot;a remarkably stupid thing to do&quot; by bosses at the Wiltshire landmark.

‘It’s a slap in the face’: Anger as sick pranksters drape huge Russian flag on Salisbury cathedral exactly a year after the Novichok attack on the city

Pranksters draped a huge Russian flag over scaffolding at Salisbury Cathedral on Sunday – nearly a year on from the Novichok attack in the city. Workmen removed the flag on Sunday morning.

Poisoned Sergei Skripal’s health is ‘deteriorating’ as troll hangs Russian flag on Salisbury Cathedral a year on from novichok attack

A SICK troll draped a Russian flag on Salisbury Cathedral a year on from the novichok attack – as it was revealed Sergei Skripal’s health is deteriorating. The Russian flag was taken down today after cathedral staff were made aware of it. It’s thought someone climbed the scaffolding and put it there overnight.

Russian flag hung over Salisbury Cathedral labelled ‘stupid stunt’ one year after Novichok poisoning – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Officials in the English city of Salisbury where a former Russian double agent was poisoned with a nerve agent last year have denounced the placing of a huge Russian flag on the city’s cathedral.

‘Well-Staged’: Russian Embassy in UK Slams Salisbury Cathedral Flag Unfurling – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom on Sunday called an incident involving the unfurling of a Russian flag on the walls of Salisbury Cathedral, “a well-staged provocation.”

Trolling Russia, or mocking British paranoia? HUGE Russian flag flies from Salisbury Cathedral — RT UK News

The English city synonymous with the poisoning of a Russian double-agent woke to a peculiar sight this morning – an enormous Russian flag waving down from Salisbury’s cathedral, famed for its 123-meter spire.

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Publications on Skripal’s health reveal UK media’s links with special services — diplomat

«It’s another example of a ‘managed leak», Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman stressed

Poroshenko: Russia may start ‘Baltic crisis’ because of Nord Stream 2

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko made the corresponding statement during the panel discussion “Security in Eastern Europe” within the framework of the Munich Security Conference, the press service of the Head of State reports. “It is a completely new reality. We must learn to live in this reality and understand that if there is no unity and solidarity, the aggressor can go much further,” Poroshenko stressed, commenting on Russian aggression (including in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov), capturing Ukrainian sailors, economic aggression, including the issues of Nord Stream 2, Russian meddling in the elections in Ukraine, etc. “I hate the idea when I hear some people say that Ukraine and Russia must stop shooting. If Russia stops shooting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops shooting, there will be no Ukraine,” the President said. Petro Poroshenko emphasized: “If we cease to defend our sovereignty, our territorial integrity, security and democracy in the center of Europe in the 21st century, we will kneel down before the aggressor.” According to him, the world today must have a common answer what to do with security: “I want to remind you that the attack on the Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait had a very interesting explanation from Russia: they protect the Kerch Strait Bridge. Imagine a Russian attack in the Baltic Sea to protect the Nord Stream 2 in a few years. We need to have a much better coordination of our actions,” the Head of State said. As reported, the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko made a working visit to Germany and participated in the Munich Security Conference on February 15-16.

UAWire – Ukrainian President : Kyiv hopes to receive various types of weapons from Washington

At a meeting with US Vice President Michael Pence, during the Munich Security Conference, the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stated that Ukraine hopes to receive various types of weapons from the US. “We had a very detailed meeting with the vice president. He stressed at the outset that Ukraine is a reliable strategic partner of the United States. We firmly hope for cooperation, including in the area of defense, for the supply of all types of weapons to Ukraine,” he said commenting to journalists, broadcast by tv channel 112 Ukraine. Poroshenko reminded that earlier Ukraine adopted a law allowing the Ministry of Defense to “purchase weapons directly,” without using intermediaries. Poroshenko also stated that at his meeting with Pence the question of coordinating actions in the situation in the Kerch Strait, as well as further efforts to introduce sanctions against Russia, together with the EU. The Ukrainian President also thanked the American side for additional financial assistance. “I asked to relay our appreciation to the US president, Congress for their part of supporting Ukraine financially. You know that the budget includes more than $700 million of additional assistance for our government,” said the president. The Ukrainian embassy in the US reported on Saturday evening that US President Donald Trump signed a legislative package approved by Congress that increases financial assistance to Kyiv to almost $700 million in 2019. The estimate of assistance to Ukraine has been increased and approved from the amount of $445.7 million,” stated the embassy. The lion’s share of additional funds (up to $115 million in total) will be directed to providing military and technical assistance to Ukraine as part of the “International military funding” program, said the Ukrainian Embassy to the US. Thus, taking into account the $250 million previously allocated by the Pentagon, the total amount of assistance will be almost $695.7 million.

Ukraine is grateful to US partners for their support – President — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President Petro Poroshenko stresses that Ukraine is grateful to US partners and partners from the EU for a strong and constant support of our state. “I thanked the Vice President and asked to convey words of gratitude to the President of the United States, to the Congress for the financial support of Ukraine. You know that the budget provides more than 700 million dollars for the additional support of our state. And this is the position of a true friend and partner,” the Head of State told the media representatives after the meeting with US Vice President Mike Pence. “I am grateful to our American partners and our European partners for a clear and consistent position of support for Ukraine,” Petro Poroshenko added. The President said that a very thorough discussion took place at the meeting with the Vice President of the United States. “He (Mike Pence – ed.) emphasized at the very beginning that Ukraine was a reliable and strategic partner of the United States of America. We firmly count on cooperation, including in the defense sector, including in the supply of all types of weapons to Ukraine, after we have adopted the law that allows the Ministry of Defense to directly provide the supply of weapons,” the Head of State said. Petro Poroshenko also thanked Mike Pence for a high assessment of his team. In particular, the work of our diplomats, the military and the government’s steps that ensured the implementation of reforms. The interlocutors discussed further steps to be taken in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine as well as the policy of sanctions.

We cannot ignore security challenges – Head of State on the role of Ukraine as the eastern flank of NATO and Europe — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President Petro Poroshenko stresses that under the present conditions, Ukraine cannot and should not ignore the challenges that arise in the area of security. That is why it was decided to consolidate the course for the EU and NATO in the Constitution. “We cannot ignore security challenges. The only efficient system for today is NATO. That is why I have taken an initiative with the Parliament on amendments to the Constitution regarding Ukraine’s future membership in NATO and the EU,” the Head of State said during the panel discussion “Security in Eastern Europe”. “An overwhelming majority of deputies voted for this presidential initiative. Therefore, if we talk about the most Euro-optimistic nation, Ukraine will be among the first ones,” he added. Also, Petro Poroshenko emphasized that much attention should be paid to the security of Europe. “We live in different conditions now … It must be understood that large European nations can defend themselves through NATO, which is more effective, or through another instrument. Ukraine will gladly be a part of any security initiative,” the President said. The Head of State stressed that Ukraine had a very strong support of the American people in the struggle for freedom and democracy. “We have bipartisan support from the US Congress. We have a strong support from the US Administration,” he added. The President stressed that great European leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, had also played a vital role in the security of our country. “Success is possible only when the United States, Europe and the whole world are together,” he said.

We must have a common answer what to do with security in a new reality – President in Munich — Official website of the President of Ukraine

“I am glad that Ukraine is very high on the agenda. Today, many speakers stressed the need for unity and solidarity with Ukraine in the issue of overcoming Russian aggression, the issue of the Nord Stream 2, energy security, digital security, Russian meddling in the elections in Ukraine, the European Parliament, the act of aggression against my country in the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov, the hostages held by Russia in Moscow,” President Poroshenko said during the panel discussion “Security in Eastern Europe” in the framework of the Munich Security Conference. “This is a completely new reality. We must learn to live in this reality and understand that if there is no unity and solidarity, the aggressor can go much further,” Petro Poroshenko said. “I hate the idea when I hear some people say that Ukraine and Russia must stop shooting. If Russia stops shooting, there will be peace. If Ukraine stops shooting, there will be no Ukraine,” the Head of State stressed. Petro Poroshenko emphasized: “If we cease to defend our sovereignty, our territorial integrity, security and democracy in the center of Europe in the XXI century, we will kneel before the aggressor”. The Head of State thanked European partners for five years of vital support, five years of sanctions policy, five years of assistance in the reforms in Ukraine. “I am proud that Ukraine now is a story of success. Perhaps the only one in the current situation, because we are making reforms during the war. These are the most profound reforms my country has ever carried out,” he said. “Therefore, we must must have a common answer what to do with security. I want to remind you that the attack on the Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait had a very interesting explanation from Russia: they protect the Kerch Strait Bridge. Imagine a Russian attack in the Baltic Sea to protect the Nord Stream 2 in a few years. We need to have a much better coordination of our actions,” the Head of State said. “We can win only if we are united. And I am optimistic about our victory,” he said

Klimkin at Munich Security Conference: International community unaware of how to handle Russia – news politics | UNIAN

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin says that the international community is unaware of how to handle Russia. The annual Munich Security Conference was held from February 15 to 17.

Klimkin informs European colleagues about Russian aggression – MFA Ukraine – news politics | UNIAN

Speaker for the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine Kateryna Zelenko has said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin at the meeting in Brussels has briefed European colleagues about the ongoing Russian aggression. “Great that real friends remain truly committed and United For Ukraine,” Klimkin wrote.

Klimkin holds informal meeting with European colleagues in Brussels

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has informed his European colleagues about ongoing Russian aggression in Donbas and called for further pressure to be exerted on Russia, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Kateryna Zelenko has reported on Twitter. — Ukrinform.

Council of Europe agrees on Azov anti-Russian sanctions – 112.international

Council of the European Union has agreed on the Azov package of the sanctions against the Russian Federation as 112 Ukraine reported citing Deputy Head of the Administration of the President of Ukraine Kostyantyn Yeliseev. “Our partaking in the conference coincided with the preparation of the EU to the session of the Council of the European Union, which took place today. It is fundamentally important that the EU finally made an important decision on the new Azov package of the sanctions after some pause,” Yeliseev said.

EU reaches political consensus on new sanctions against Russia — Mogherini

The European Union has reached a political agreement on the imposition of new sanctions against Russia. — Ukrinform.

EU to decide on new sanctions against Russia in coming weeks – news politics | UNIAN

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has said the European Union may decide on new sanctions against the Russian Federation in the next couple of weeks. The objective of sanctions is that “one day they would be lifted, but we do not see positive steps” and this is why the EU member states have so far reiterated their will to keep them, according to Mogherini.

EU calls on Russian Federation to immediately release Ukrainian sailors – Linkevičius

EU member states call on Russian authorities to immediately release Ukrainian sailors who were illegally detained by Russian border guards in the Kerch Strait,  Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has said. — Ukrinform.

If “Azov package” is adopted, sanctions will take effect in few weeks, – Ukraine’s Foreign Minister – 112.international

If the Council of the Foreign Ministers of the European Union adopts the so-called “Azov package”, sanctions against Russia will be imposed in few weeks, as Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin stated before the journalists, 112 Ukraine reports. “Tomorrow Federica Mogherini (High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, – ed.) will talk about it after the meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers. As far I as understand, the decision (if adopted, – ed.)” will take effect in a few weeks. And Mogherini will report what they decide,” he noted. At the same time, Klimkin stressed that he knew what sanctions might be imposed.

Klimkin, EU foreign ministers discuss issues of captured sailors, reforms, elections, Nord Stream 2

The informal discussion, which took place on Monday morning with the participation of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and EU foreign ministers in Brussels, touched upon the most urgent issues of bilateral relations and international policy, including the release of captured sailors and other Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russia, problem of reforms in Ukraine, upcoming elections and the threats posed by the Nord Stream 2 project. — Ukrinform.

UAWire – Merkel: I support Poroshenko, but Nord Stream 2 is also important

At the Munich Security Conference, Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel stated that Ukraine should remain a gas transit country even …

Romanian President urges NATO to increase presence in Black Sea region – 112.international

President of Romania Klaus Johannis stated that the Black Sea region needs a greater NATO presence. He said this during his speech at the Munich Security Conference, reports Interfax-Ukraine. “The EU implements its decisions on sanctions and must do so unswervingly, and NATO must strengthen its deterrence and defense potential on the eastern flank … The Black Sea region, where the security situation is particularly difficult, needs a greater presence of NATO,” the Romanian president said . Johannis also said that Romania actively supports measures to strengthen the cohesion of the eastern flank, in particular between its northern and southern elements.

President of Ukraine will take part in the plenary debate “The situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine” in New York — Official website of the President of Ukraine

On February 20, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko will pay a working visit to the United States and take part in the work of the UN General Assembly, where for the first time in the history of this organization plenary debates will be held on a new agenda item: “The situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine”. It was stated by Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Kostiantyn Yelisieiev. “This is a new item that was included in this session. It is very symbolic that these debates will take place on the fifth anniversary of the Russian aggression,” Kostiantyn Yelisieiev said. He informed that the President had decided to take part in the debate personally “in order to once again draw attention of the international community to the crimes committed by Russia and the large scale of the Russian aggression, which includes not only armed aggression, but also humanitarian crimes, crimes that have environmental and economic consequences, issues related to human rights violations, etc.”. Kostiantyn Yelisieiev emphasized that the Head of State “will use this platform to recall the events from five years ago, to remind that today Ukraine is struggling not only for its independence and territorial integrity, but also for the security and prosperity of the whole Europe”. “This statement should once again consolidate the position of the world regarding the support for Ukraine,” he added. According to the diplomat, in the course of the visit, the President of Ukraine will have a meeting with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the President of the UN General Assembly, as well as other bilateral meetings. The Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration also announced the tripartite summit of the Presidents of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania in Lublin (Poland) at the headquarters of the joint Ukrainian-Polish-Lithuanian military brigade, which will be held on February 22 and focus on defense and military cooperation in strengthening regional and European security.

President of Ukraine will hold negotiations with the President of the European Council — Official website of the President of Ukraine

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko will hold negotiations with President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who is beginning his visit to Ukraine today. It was stated by Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Kostiantyn Yelisieiev. “This will be a visit of solidarity, a visit of support, a visit of a true partner of Ukraine. The purpose of the visit is solidarity with the Ukrainian people in the context of the anniversary of Maidan, the commemoration of the Heroes of the Heavenly Hundred,” Kostiantyn Yeliseyev said. He also noted that the visit of the President of the European Council demonstrates that “Ukraine is in the top of the EU policy, and the situation in Ukraine, its security and territorial integrity are a matter of great concern for our European partners”. According to the diplomat, the President of the European Council, on behalf of the European Union, wants to pay tribute to the courage of the Ukrainian people and support us in a difficult historical period. The Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration informed that Petro Poroshenko and Donald Tusk would hold negotiations on further steps aimed to implement the constitutional amendments recently approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in terms of integration into the EU and NATO. Also, during the meeting, the issues related to the implementation of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union will be discussed, as well as further steps towards Ukraine’s integration into the European Union, in particular, the continuation of Ukraine’s integration into the digital market, lower prices for roaming for Ukrainian citizens traveling to the EU, cooperation with the European Defence Agency.

Ukraine ready to consider initiatives relating to security in Europe – Poroshenko

Ukraine is ready to consider any initiatives relating to security in Europe, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said, speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

Czech Republic proposes creating EU mission in Mariupol

Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic Tomáš Petříček considers it expedient to open an office of the European Union Advisory Mission (EUAM) in Mariupol. — Ukrinform.

Russia closed the region in the Sea of Azov near the Kerch Strait – Український мілітарний портал

According to the Naval Regulation NAVAREA III 0184/2019, Russia closed an area in the Sea of Azov near the Kerch Strait for firing during February 18-20, 2019 This is reported by the Ukrainian Military Portal Shooting will take place in the western part of the Temryuk Bay, which is located near the Kerch Strait.

Ukraine insists on permanent observation mission in Kerch Strait, Russia against – Klimkin

Ukraine insists on a permanent observation mission in the Kerch Strait, and Russia does not agree with this, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has said.

Inciting hatred: Human rights group condemns history textbook published in Russian-annexed peninsula – news politics | UNIAN

Experts from the Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG) say a History of Crimea textbook for tenth-graders, which was recently distributed in schools across the Russian-annexed peninsula, contains remarks that incite hatred toward the Crimean Tatar people. The textbook contains statements that question the generally accepted historical facts of violence and discrimination against Crimean Tatars during their deportation from Crimea. Experts from the Crimean Human Rights Group (CHRG) say a History of Crimea textbook for tenth-graders, which was recently distributed in schools across the Russian-annexed peninsula, contains remarks that incite hatred toward the Crimean Tatar people. The textbook emerged in January 2019. The so-called “Crimean authorities” are planning to introduce it into the curriculum from September 1, 2019, if approved by school principles, the CHRG said. The book claims that during World War II, some Crimean Tatars welcomed German invaders with flowers and wine, and were allegedly more inclined to collaborate with the enemy compared to other ethnic groups living in Crimea. There are also allegations that in the areas where Crimean Tatars were deported, they were given food, household plots, and housing loans for free. “These allegations are controversial and can’t be proven by any massive evidence on the part of eyewitnesses and victims. Thus, manifestations of hate speech are seen in the general context of information presented in the textbook. Namely, the publication of statements that question the generally accepted historical facts of violence and discrimination during the deportation of the Crimean Tatar people,” the human rights activists said.

JFO HQ reports 1 KIA, 2 WIA amid 9 enemy attacks in Donbas over past day

Russia’s hybrid military forces mounted nine attacks on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas in the past 24 hours, with one Ukrainian soldier reported as killed in action (KIA) and another two as wounded in action (WIA), the press centre of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) has reported.

Ukraine SOF eliminate four saboteurs, capture one, – JFO press center

18.02.19 15:30 – Ukraine SOF eliminate four saboteurs, capture one, – JFO press center Ukraine’s Special Operation Forces have captured an enemy saboteur. View news.

One invader captured, four killed in latest skirmish in Donbas – news war | UNIAN

One invader was captured and another four were killed during a skirmish as a Ukrainian special operations unit confronted an enemy recon group near Ukraine’s position in Donbas on February 18. “The special forces unit that is operating in the defense zone of one of our brigades in the northern line spotted the enemy sabotage and reconnaissance group moving toward our observation posts,” the press center of the Joint Forces Operation wrote on Facebook.

Ukrainian military capture member of Russian occupation forces near Svitlodarsk on Sunday – news war | UNIAN

The Ukrainian military captured a member of the Russian occupation forces near the town of Svitlodarsk in Donetsk region on Sunday, February 17. He is being questioned by JFO members.

Russia-led forces fire on JCCC monitors’ car in Luhansk region

Russia-led forces have fired on a car of the monitoring mission of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) in Donbas from an anti-tank grenade launcher, the press center of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) headquarters has reported. — Ukrinform.

Russia-led forces attack Ukraine army positions, using proscribed weapons on Sunday – news war | UNIAN

Russia-led forces mounted six attacks on the Ukrainian army’s positions in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, on Sunday, February 17, proscribed weapons were used in five instances. One Ukrainian soldier was wounded in action in the past day.

Russia-led armed formations fire 10 meters away from OSCE SMM patrol at UAV near Zolote – news war | UNIAN

Members of Russia-led armed formations fired 10 meters away from an OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) patrol at an SMM UAV flying over the Zolote disengagement area in Luhansk region. The SMM UAV was not damaged after about 60 shots in total had been fired in its direction.

41 Ukrainian army servicemen in captivity in Donbas, – Armed Forces PR department – 112.international

As of Monday, February 18, there have been 41 Ukrainian army fighters held in captivity of the Russian terrorists in Donbas. Novynarnia news agency reported that publishing the Armed Forces PR department’s response to the information request. Three servicemen have been captured since the beginning of 2019; over the entire 2018, the enemy captured four Ukrainian defenders.

“Sapsan” TBM: there is no order for development from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine – Український мілітарний портал

At present, the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine does not finance the development of the domestic missile complex “Sapsan”, or, as it is called, the export variant “Hrim-2”, the work of which was carried out by CB “Pivden”. This is reported by the Ukrainian Military Portal Such information was released by journalists of the special project “Radio Liberty Donbas Real” in the article “The end of the nuclear deal between the US and Russia: what does this mean for Ukraine?”. They made a request to the State Space Agency of Ukraine, which supervises the work of CB Yuzhnoye, regarding the development of the Sapsan rocket complex on the stage of development of Ukrainian missile weapons. The answer was: “As of today, enterprises of the rocket and space industry do not have orders from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine for the creation of missile weapons” – said in response The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine will abandon the program of development of the operational and tactical multifunctional missile complex “Sapsan” in mid-2013 at the time of the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Pavel Lebedev. The development of the Sapsan multifunctional missile complex lasted from 2010 after the approval of the state comprehensive program for its development, and over 200 million hryvnias were spent on its financing over several years. At the beginning of all work, the estimated completion date was 2015. Subsequently, the development of a domestic operational tactical missile complex was restored in the interest of a foreign customer called “Hrim-2”. As you know, the first launches of the “Hrim-2” ballistic missile system development of CB “Pivden”, will be held in September-October 2019 year. The testing of the complex and its acceptance by a foreign customer is expected in 2022. The operational-tactical missile complex “Hrim-2” (the export name for “Sapsan” TBM) is developed for the defeat of single and group stationary targets at distances from 50 to 280 km. The warhead of the missile is projected in mass at 480 kg. It can be performed on a unitary or cluster munition. The unitary scheme uses a blast-fragmentation or subcalibre penetrator.

UAE company unveils new amphibious IFV with Ukrainian Shturm turret system – news economics | UNIAN

UAE-based Calidus showcased at IDEX 2019 arms exhibit its new Wahash 8×8 amphibious IFV equipped with the Ukrainian Shturm 30mm system. The Ukrainian system consists of a 30mm ZTM-1 automatic cannon, a KT-7.62mm machine gun, a 30mm KBA.117 automatic grenade launcher, and a four-missile Barrier guided weapon complex.

Ukrainian army gets over 100 upgraded T-64 tanks (Video) – news ukraine | UNIAN

Ukraine’s major manufacturer of armored vehicles, Kharkiv-based Malyshev Plant, which is part of a state-run Ukroboronprom Concern, has produced over 100 upgraded 2017 model T-64 main battle tanks. The upgraded tank boasts of expanded combat capabilities.

March in Kyiv to commemorate Debaltseve defenders – UNIAN Photoreport

March in Kyiv to commemorate Debaltseve defenders. UNIAN pictures

Ukraine, Romania looking for compromise on medium of instruction for national minorities

Ukraine and Romania are in talks to find a mutually acceptable solution regarding the medium of instruction for the national minorities studying in Ukraine. — Ukrinform.

Hague arbitration court rules in favor of PrivatBank against Russia on bank assets seized in Crimea – bank

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands, has officially announced a partial arbitration decision in favor of PrivatBank and against the Russian Federation in a case estimated by the bank at more than $ 1 billion on the expropriation of its assets in Crimea, the bank said on Friday, February 15.

Appeal on return of Scythian gold to Ukraine to be considered in March, – Justice Minister – 112.international

The appeal of the occupation authority of Crimea against the decision of Amsterdam court on the return of the collection of Scythian gold will be considered in March as 112 Ukraine reported citing Justice Minister of Ukraine Pavlo Petrenko. “Today I can announce for the first time the hearing of the big case, which was started by Justice Ministry in Amsterdam on the Ukrainian Scythian gold, which was stolen by occupants. Now it is situated in the territory of the Netherlands and we won the first instance in Amsterdam, where the court recognized that these values are Ukrainian. The hearing at the appeal instance will take place on March 11-12,” he noted.

EU will continue to support Ukraine and its reform agenda – Mogherini

EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday will hold a broad discussion on Ukraine during which they are expected to support the efforts of Ukrainians on the path of reform and express their support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country. — Ukrinform.

Ukraine says no to Russian components for turbines at NPPs – news economics | UNIAN

State-run operator of Ukrainian-based nuclear power plants, Energoatom, and Kharkiv-based JSC Turboatom, one of the world’s top ten turbine construction companies, have signed a contract aimed to have Ukrainian NPPs switch to using Ukrainian-made equipment for high-speed turbines as part of an import substitution program. Russian equipment will be replaced with modern technology produced by Ukraine’s Turboatom.

UAWire – More than eighty-three thousand Ukrainians received Russian citizenship in 2018

Interfax-Ukraine reported, quoting statistics of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, that 83,081 Ukrainians received Russian citizenship …

The hard facts about Anti-Semitism in Ukraine that Russia doesn’t want known – Human Rights in Ukraine

There have been no acts of anti-Semitic violence in Ukraine over the last two years and relatively little anti-Semitic vandalism. This lack of news would not be worth reporting if it wasn’t for the constant claims that the opposite is true, as well as evidence that paid provocateurs have been used to simulate hate crimes. Russia’s attempts from 2014 to justify its aggression against Ukraine by claiming that ‘fascist and anti-Semitic hordes’ had seized control after Euromaidan ran into two major problems. One was the large number of prominent Jewish religious and secular figures who came out publicly to refute such lies. There was also the significant amount of monitoring carried out by Vyacheslav Likhachev and, in recent years, the National Minorities Monitoring Group which he heads. In an important article for the Ukrainian newspaper Khadashot, Likhachev has provided information about their monitoring in 2018, as well as insight into changes in the situation and why so many reports are in conflict with the hard facts. One of the problems with most reports is that they are prompted by one or two events which are then asserted to reflect “an alarming increase” or similar. Likhachev, however, has been both monitoring specific years and comparing them with others since 2004, and his findings are quite different. The worst years for acts of anti-Semitic violence were from 2005 to 2007, where there was a wave of dangerous street attacks. In 2005 13 people were victims of such violence, while in 2004, and in both 2006 and 2007 there were eight victims. The number fell to five in 2008, then to one in 2009 and 2010 and none at all in 2011. In each of the following three years there were four victims, with this number falling to one in 2015 and 2016, and then none in 2017 and 2018. Based on his evidence, Likhachev concludes that there is no anti-Semitic violence in Ukraine and that Ukrainian Jews are not confronted with direct physical danger. The main anti-Semitic crime observed is that of vandalism, including desecration of graves, synagogues and memorials to victims of the Holocaust, with the methods including the breaking of windows, arson or anti-Semitic or neo-Nazi graffiti. There were 12 such cases in 2018, though that figure may change very slightly as two cases are being checked. Even if these are added, the figure will still be half that of the previous year. There was a wave of such anti-Semitic vandalism which began in 2014 with 23 such acts of violence and which is now on the decline. He assumes that vandalism was linked with the post-Euromaidan situation and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Against the backdrop of the deaths on Maidan and then from Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, “acts of xenophobic vandalism – graffiti on walls and monuments; breaking windows or even acts of arson were not viewed by a part of the population as a really serious problem”. The second factor Likhachev mentions is particularly interesting given Russia’s attempts to use the ‘anti-Semitism card’ against Ukraine. A contributory cause for the increase in anti-Semitic vandalism in 2014-2017, he is convinced, was the active support for Ukraine’s government from the Jewish community and the participation of prominent members of the community in defending Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. “This quite naturally provoked demonstrations of anti-Semitism from pro-Russian separatists. Among people supporting Russian nationalism, anti-Semitic views are in any case quite widespread.” If the graffiti earlier had suggested that the culprits held nationalist or even neo-Nazi views, from 2014 vandals often demonstrated pro-Russian and pro-Soviet views. Earlier, Likhachev noted that Ukraine’s far-right had no need to look for mythical enemies when there was a very real enemy against whom Ukraine needed to be defended.

Maidan shootings started five years ago

On this day five years ago, the most tragic stage of the Revolution of Dignity began in Ukraine. — Ukrinform.

Kyiv breaks 139-year-old temperature record

On Sunday, the temperature in Kyiv broke a 139-year-old temperature record. — Ukrinform.

SBU head Hrytsak accuses Russia of playing ‘religious card’ in Ukraine for interference in electoral process

The Russian Federation is using religious issues to destabilize the situation in Ukraine and interfere in the electoral process, Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), said.

Top security official in Ukraine warns of “extremely wide” spectrum of Russian meddling in Ukraine’s elections – news politics | UNIAN

Head of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine, Vasyl Hrytsak, has said the country will see a wide range of attempts to meddle in the presidential election. This is about ultimate destabilization across the country, the SBU chief stresses.

Fifty observers from Canada arrive in Ukraine before presidential elections – Freeland

Canada has sent 50 observers for the presidential elections in Ukraine, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has said.

Canada to allocate USD 25 mln for Ukrainian presidential election

Canada will allocate USD 25 million for Ukraine’s fair presidential election to help guarantee security and prevent possible provocations and intrusions. — Ukrinform.

Ukraine’s election race top issue of Munich meetings – Klitschko

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko says that European and American politicians at meetings at the Munich Security Conference are interested in the situation ahead of the presidential elections in Ukraine.

Attacks on religious buildings in Ukraine organized from occupied Donbas, coordinated with Russia’s FSB – Hrytsak

Attacks on religious buildings in Ukraine are organized from the territory of the occupied Donbas, and plans to destabilize the situation on religious grounds are coordinated with the FSB of the Russian Federation, head of the Ukraine’s SBU State Security Service Vasyl Hrytsak has said.

Ukraine security chief: Attacks on pro-Russian church’s temples coordinated by FSB – news politics | UNIAN

Head of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine Vasyl Hrytsak has said plans to destabilize the situation in Ukraine on religious grounds were drafted in the occupied territories and coordinated with Russia’s FSB in Rostov region. Russia is playing a “religious card” to destabilize Ukraine and sow discord.

The door of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Kryvyi Rih was set on fire with the help of an incendiary mixture – Door of Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Moscow Patriarchate in Kryvyi Rih set on fire – 112.international

The door of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Kryvyi Rih was set on fire with the help of an incendiary mixture, the press service of the UOC-MP reports. This happened on February 15 at around 19:30. “Vandals tried to burn the temple with the help of an incendiary mixture, which led to a fire and serious damage to the central entrance doors and the icon of the Ascension of the Lord,” as said in a statement. Policemen began a pre-judicial investigation on p. 2 Art. 194 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (“Intentional damage to property by arson”).

Three people detained while trying to set fire to Moscow Patriarchate church

Three people were detained in the Dniprovsky district of Zaporizhia on February 16 during an attempt to set fire to a church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. — Ukrinform.

Russia special services are behind arsons in Ukrainian churches, – SBU Head – 112.international

Russia special forces started a rally of firing the churches and intimidating the priests in Ukraine, as the Head of Ukraine’s Security Service Vasyl Hrytsak said during a coordinated meeting of the law enforcement agencies, broadcasted by 112 Ukraine. “I can assure you that the attacks at the religious buildings of the Ukrainian Orthodox Churches of Moscow Patriarchate were organized on the territory of occupied Donbas, but we have confirmed data that the plan to destabilize or trick religious aspect in Ukraine were agreed with the Russian Security Service in Rostov region,” he noted

Our church goes with faith and love – President during the thanksgiving service in the Manyava Skete — Official website of the President of Ukraine

In the framework of the working visit to Ivano-Frankivsk region, President Petro Poroshenko visited the Manyava Skete and took part in the thanksgiving service for the Tomos of autocephaly of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy carried out the prayer with participation of Metropolitan of Ivano-Frankivsk and Galicia Ioasaf. Greeting the faithful, holy fathers and military chaplains who convened for the divine service, the President drew attention to the number of those present. “Thousands of people are here today, in the Manyava Skete,” he noted, adding that all those people came to thank God for the prayers they heard and the spiritual independence that Ukraine has gained. “It is very important that the Lord heard us and it became possible only when millions of Ukrainians prayed for this and believed that there was nothing more important than having their own state and their own church,” Petro Poroshenko underlined and recalled the path to independence Ukrainian church has covered. “After that (receiving the Tomos of autocephaly – ed.), 320 parishes have already joined our church. Parishes and communities. And it is very important that nobody is forcing anyone,” the Head of State stressed. “Moscow counted on the beginning of bloodshed, seizure of monasteries … It did not happen. Because our church goes with faith and love,” Petro Poroshenko said, noting that Ukrainians do not understand how a church subordinate to another state and praying for its army can exist in the country. The President once again thanked everyone who joined the process of obtaining the Tomos for their wisdom, sacrifice. He also noted Metropolitan of Ivano-Frankivsk Andriy. “I am glad that each bishop makes efforts for the united church to succeed. Because we have not completed the process of creating a church, we are only at the beginning of this path,” Petro Poroshenko said. He also thanked the attendees, noting that both church hierarchs and the local church of Ukraine need their support and prayers. “That’s why we are here today. We care about the fate of the state, the fate of the church,” the Head of State added. Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine Epifaniy congratulated everybody on the opportunity to gather in such an ancient place as the Manyava Skete and thank the Lord for “the graces and blessings” that have taken place in recent months. “Our church efforts were not enough, so today we are also grateful to President of Ukraine Petro Oleksiyovych who joined these historical events and thanks to our joint efforts, efforts of the church and the state, we have got a long-awaited document called the Tomos,” he emphasized. “Today, we celebrate this spiritual victory, but during the prayer, we ask God to protect our country. We pray for the Lord to give us a fair peace in the future, for we can get another peace, but we do not want peace in captivity. We want to live in our state, in which love, peace and harmony will prevail,” Metropolitan Epifaniy said.

Epiphanius, Poroshenko bring tomos to Manyava Skete monastery

Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine Epiphanius and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have attended a joint prayer at the Cathedral Temple of the Manyava Skete monastery, according to an Ukrinform correspondent. — Ukrinform.

320 Moscow Patriarchate parishes joined OCU after Tomos, – Poroshenko

18.02.19 16:02 – 320 Moscow Patriarchate parishes joined OCU after Tomos, – Poroshenko Since the Tomos of Autocephaly was granted to Ukraine, 320 parishes have joined Ukraine’s independent Orthodox Church. View news.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s Attack on Religious Groups Means West May Again View Russia as the Evil Empire, ‘Nezavisimaya Gazeta’ Says

Paul Goble Staunton, February 17 – Moscow’s recent moves against religious groups, the editors of Nezavisimaya gazeta say, mean that the West may again define the country centered on Moscow as “an evil empire,” a term introduced by Ronald Reagan that the paper says had more to do with religion than with ethnicity (ng.ru/editorial/2019-02-17/2_7510_red.html). As a matter of history, that reading is not without its problems: The US president talked about the nations living under Soviet control and was an enthusiastic supporter of the Captive Nations Week resolution. But the parallels between the 1980s and now that the Moscow paper draws are important for two reasons. On the one hand, it reflects a trend among Russian writers to treat ethnicity as a less important factor in the past and present than religion and to view what happened at the end of Soviet times as the result of religious divides more than just between ethnic ones. This notion is also not without problems, as ethnicity and religion are far from coterminous. And on the other – and this is far and away the more important – Nezavisimaya gazeta is quite correct to point out that Reagan frequently directed his talk about the Soviet Union as “the evil empire” at American evangelicals, “having in mind,” the paper’s editors say, “the struggle of the communists with religion.” Evangelical groups were among the most enthusiastic supporters of this idea and helped keep it alive until it became a mainstream notion – although to be accurate, Reagan’s real contribution to the struggle was to call the USSR an “evil” empire, something that allowed his liberal opponents to drop the evil but nonetheless retain the empire idea. What the paper doesn’t say at least on this occasion is this: if evangelical Christians conclude the current Russian policies against religion make the Russian Federation the evil empire of today, they could become the basis for a tectonic shift in American opinion about Russia toward greater concern not only with religious rights but with ethnic ones as well. And that is especially likely because the evangelical Christians in the US are the most reliable part of the base of Donald Trump, the most pro-Russian US president in history. If the current incumbent of the White House concludes that his base has turned on Russia, he is quite likely judging from his other policy shifts to follow them. That could further intensify negative American attitudes about Russia and make it more rather than less likely that those attitudes will continue both in the population and in the political elite far longer into the future than anyone in Moscow expects, yet another way in which the Kremlin’s domestic policies are backfiring abroad.

 

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