Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (111)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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FRG DEFMIN von der Leyen speaks the unspeakable – Russia is a sitting duck for PLA IRBMs, the one reality Muscovy will not admit, obscuring it with ceaseless theatre on the NATO threat, exemplified by Medvedev’s inane demand that US nuclear weapons be pulled out of Europe. Amb Antonov in DC suggests the US is planning a nuclear war to defeat Russia. Ikhlov comments on Gen Gerasimov’s claim that the US is driving a fifth column of traitors in Russia preceding a planned US non-nuclear decapitation strike.

SACEUR testifies to SASC, and argues for more capability in Europe, denial of F-35 to Ankara if they follow through with the S-400 procurement, and importantly, argues the case for much more US military aid to Ukraine, including maritime capabilities. More Russian plotting against Belarus. Vedomosti on surveillance of the public in Russia. Impact of Latvian KGB archives. Stanley on how Russian propaganda works.

Another GRU operator in the UK identified.

SACEUR on Ukraine. Gen Muzhenko briefs Kiev Association of Military Attaches on Russia’s invasion preparations and other malign activities – whether Russia decides to invade or not, it has set itself up to launch a full-scale invasion at extremely short notice, to maximize fear and anxiety in Ukraine. Ukraine is being subjected to similar pressures as Israel in its early years, and is responding in a similar manner as the Israelis did. To survive Ukraine will have to develop the capability to inflict massive and unsustainable losses on Russia if the balloon goes up – the annihilation of the best of Russia’s elite forces in 2014 – 2015 was clearly brushed off by Muscovy as inconsequential. Losing troops at ten times the rate of the war in Afghanistan is also seen as inconsequential. And suffering a 10:1 loss rate is also seen as inconsequential.

Azov / Crimea update. Donbas update – RFE/RL on Dryuk defection. T-80BV upgrades.

Defense procurement corruption debate expands – Amb Yovanovitch weighs in and gets pushback, Poroshenko launches a major audit. Politics and election updates.

OCU sees an accelerating rate of parish defection from ROC. OCU complains to UN, OSCE over Crimea. More on Russia’s persecution of religious minorities, including Buddhists. Russia’s very toxic debate on Islamisation.


UAWire – German Defense Minister: Chinese missiles threaten Russia

The German Minister of Defense, Ursula von der Leyen stated that Chinese missiles represent a threat to Russia, so Moscow should be interested in involving China in a new disarmament treaty, Focus reports. The head of the German Defense Ministry said that Chinese medium-range missiles could easily reach Russian territory. “Just as Russian missiles pose a threat to Europe, Chinese missiles pose a threat to Russia,” she emphasized. According to von der Leyen, the only way to maintain security in the modern world is through contacts. “The more we know about China, the better and the closer the relationship, the more interested China will be in maintaining it,” she said. The Minister noted that the Chinese pay much attention to long-term relations. “The Chinese think in centuries, not in decades. <…> When I was there, they showed me pictures of my parents made during their visit to Anhui 35 years ago. They wanted to be polite, give me a gift. This told me a lot about how the Chinese perceive relationships,” said von der Leyen.

Russia demands that US nuclear weapons in Europe ‘be eliminated’

Russia wants U.S. nuclear weapons and missiles systems “eliminated” from Europe, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Tuesday, escalating a roiling controversy over Russian violations of a landmark arms control treaty.

US generals and politicians ‘thinking about possibility of nuclear war’, Russia’s ambassador to Washington says | The Independent

Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, has said arms control is “in crisis” and he is “scared” Washington has begun thinking about the possibility of winning a nuclear war. In a rare public appearance since he took up the post in 2017, Mr Antonov outlined Russian concerns over several US withdrawals from arms treaties, and called for greater recognition of

Putin Officially Suspends Russia’s Participation In INF Treaty With U.S.

The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree suspending Russia’s participation in a key Cold War-era nuclear arms-control agreement with the United States.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘For First Time Since Stalin, Moscow Accuses Russian Opposition of Collaborating with Foreign Enemies,’ Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 4 – Like so many other “new” developments in Putin’s Russia, General Valery Gerasimov’s presentation last week represents a revival of “the very well forgotten old,” Yevgeny Ikhlov says, a development that brings back some of the first features of the Soviet past both domestically and internationally. Domestically, the Russian commentator points out, “for the first time since Stalin’s era, the opposition is declared to be an accomplice in the preparation of foreign aggression,” the logical next step to declaring some of its members “foreign agents” for taking money from sources abroad but one that opens the way to even harsher treatment of its members. And internationally, Ikhlov continues, Gerasimov’s discussion of “hybrid war” includes the suggestion that Moscow will again use terrorism, violence and subversion more generally to weaken the West so that it will not be able to be effective in its efforts to deal with the Russian Federation (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5C7BDE28BC5AF). These clearly reflect the deepest hopes and fears of the Russian powers that be, the Russian commentator says, hopes that it will once again be able to exploit the openness of Western societies against them and fears that the West is preparing to use any tolerance Moscow shows for opposition in Russia against the current regime. Like most writers who have commented on the chief of the Russian general staff’s speech, Ikhlov devotes most of his commentary to the foreign implications of Gerasimov’s words, even though he suggests this part of his speech breaks less new-old ground than does his comments about how the West might use the Russian opposition. In fact, as he points out, Moscow has continued to use such “hybrid” tactics from Soviet times right up to the present; but the Kremlin’s approach to the opposition has become much harsher in recent times – and now appears set to become even more draconian. “Putin has almost completely suppressed the liberal human rights movement,” but now he and his regime face targeted protests against the disposal of trash, the use of the internet, and growing poverty and income inequality. And it is obvious that the Kremlin leader and his regime fear that these, because they tap into something deeper, are what the West will exploit. Linking any opposition to whatever the regime does to enemies abroad is something Stalin used effectively in the 1930s and 1940s to impose his totalitarian system. Putin now, Ikhlov suggests, is prepared to try the same thing, something that makes Gerasimov’s words especially disturbing.

General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, USA Commander, United States European Command / North Atlantic Treaty Organization Supreme Allied Commander Europe | United States Commitee on Armed Services

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United States Warns Turkey Again Over Purchase Of Russian Air Defense System

Washington has also said it could withdraw an offer to sell Turkey the U.S. missile defense equivalent: the Patriot anti-missile defense system.

Scaparrotti says to not sell F-35 jets to Turkey amid Russian missile system deal

In short, these two big ticket weapons systems, the S-400 and the F-35, can be used against each other.

US warns Turkey not to buy Russian S-400 missile system | USA News | Al Jazeera

Moving forward with the deal will jeopardise the F-35 fighter jet purchase and other future arms transfers, US says.

Don’t Sell F-35 To Turkey If It Buys Russian SAMs: Top NATO General – Defense One

Gen. Scaparrotti, who also leads U.S. European Command, also wants more naval forces at his disposal.

Russia could destroy the F-35 from within with a missile-defence sale to Turkey | Business Insider

The US’s F-35, from the Joint Strike Fighter program, is the most expensive weapons system of all time and a fighter jet meant to revolutionise aerial combat, but Turkey, a US NATO ally, looks poised to let Russia destroy the program from within.

EUCOM wants 2 more navy destroyers, extra ground troops for Europe to deter Russia

Curtis Scaparrotti confers with aides prior to the start of a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington

Germany’s Policy Choices Are Hastening The Decline Of NATO

If you want to understand why President Trump is ambivalent about NATO, consider how its biggest European member has been behaving lately.

Germany Charges Russian With Plotting Attack

German prosecutors have charged a Russian national with plotting an attack in Germany.

MQ-9 Reaper drones based in Poland are now fully operational

Air Forces in Europe christened a new set of facilities at Miroslawiec Air Base, Poland, March 1 to help accommodate the Air National Guardsmen and contractors operating Reapers there

Russian Think Tanks Propose Contingency Plans for Sustaining Russian Influence in Belarus – To Inform is to Influence

Belarus’s ongoing drive to cautiously normalize relations with the West has raised concerns from Russian military intelligence, commonly known as the GRU, that Moscow is losing its influence over Minsk (see EDM, February 22). In response, some Russian think tanks have taken the initiative and developed several options for how Russia could prevent such a scenario. The options range from continued integration under Russian coercion, to the deployment of Russian military bases, to regime change and even a Crimea-like intervention. These suggestions indicate dramatic shifts in Russia’s strategic thinking toward Belarus. In its “Global Forecast for 2019–2024” (Russiancouncil.ru, December 30, 2018), the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC)—one of Russia’s leading diplomatic think tanks—reflects the GRU’s strategic assessments on Belarus. According to the report, Belarus is threatened by increasing Western influence aiming to softly transform and separate the country from Russia. In case of a serious deterioration of the regional political-military situation, especially if the United States permanently deploys military contingents in eastern Poland, the Kremlin will promote the need for greater integration of the armed forces of Belarus and Russia as well as placing additional weapons systems on Belarusian territory. Additionally, Moscow will most likely urge Minsk to permit the establishment of a Russian military base in Belarus. The Kremlin unsuccessfully sought to establish an air base in Belarus in 2015 (see EDM, October 7, 2015; May 3, 2016; January 23, 2018). Overall, this scenario will narrow Belarus’s room to maneuver, limiting the government’s ability to promote the country internationally as a host to various peacemaking and conflict resolution processes (such as the Russia-Ukraine Minsk process). The RIAC also asserts that the modernization of the Russia-Belarus Union State is an issue of great importance, especially given the economic interdependence between the two countries, Belarus’s reliance on the Russian market, and the objective need to pursue integration not only bilaterally but also in the Eurasian format.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Big Brother Really has Returned to Russia

Paul Goble Staunton, March 4 – The Moscow city government has been investing massively in the exploitation of data from the cellphones almost all Muscovites carry to track where they are at all times with incredible precision ostensibly to improve the design of urban transit, Svetlana Yastrebova of Vedomosti says. Since 2015, the city’s Department of Information Technology has spent more than half a billion rubles, including 101.8 million this year (eight million and 1.6 million US dollars respectively) to acquire and process this data and both using it to make decisions about transportation and business (vedomosti.ru/technology/articles/2019/03/03/795527-moskvichi). This is only the tip of the iceberg of the ways in which Russian officials are using high technology to serve their ends, many of which correspond to what is happening in Western countries but without the legal traditions and court systems that generally but not always even there prevent official overreach and abuse. In addition to using IT data to locate people, Russian officials, including police and security agencies, are using facial recognition technology to track visitors to shopping centers, those who have not paid their bills, and others taking part in protests of one kind or another (kommersant.ru/doc/3903255and fontanka.ru/2019/02/15/024/). Not surprisingly, given Russia’s history, ever more people are frightened by how the Putin regime is likely to use the data it collects against them. In St. Petersburg, graffiti has appeared that makes reference to Orwell’s Big Brother (neva.today/news/graffiti-s-bolshim-bratom-poyavilos-v-centre-peterburga-167959/). And in Perm, the use of high tech to control access to schools there has been likened by some to the control mechanisms that the Soviets and the Nazis used in concentration camps (chitaitext.ru/novosti/kak-rabotaet-sistema-raspoznavaniya-lits-v-permskoy-shkole-i-pochemu-ee-nazyvayut-kontslagerem/). What is frightening, Russian writers say, is that the possibilities for control these technologies open are exploding but that there is no serious effort being made to create a legal environment to protect the population against official abuse (krsk.sibnovosti.ru/enterprise/372936-proverka-za-tri-sekundy-krasnoyarskie-razrabotchiki-vnedryayut-sistemu-raspoznavaniya-litsники). That almost certainly means that the Russian authorities will abuse their powers in this sphere just as they have abused them in others. And that is especially worrisome because some in the West are using this technology in ways that protects the Putin regime from the kind of monitoring and criticism that it surely deserves.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Release of KGB Files in Latvia Helping Russians to Calculate KGB Presence in Their Regions

Paul Goble Staunton, March 5 – When Riga released files from the Soviet KGB left behind after the collapse of the Soviet Union in December, they immediately became the object of intense interest in that Baltic country. But even more than when Vilnius, the only other country in the region to do so, took that step in 2011, the Latvian ones ae having a broader impact. That is because the level of detail in the Latvian collection – all on line at kgb.arhivi.lv – is permitting investigators in Russia and other Soviet republics to draw conclusions about the size and structure of KGB operations there, making the KGB files from Latvia a critical source not only for that country but for post-Soviet states as well. Indeed, because these files are so suggestive in that regard, they may eventually come to put pressure on these countries to release their holdings, something that could shed enormous light on the operations of that security service and make it possible for these states to overcome the legacy that the organs still cast on them. In a 2500-word article entitled “How Many Agents of the KGB were in Riga and Leningrad,” Russian journalist Mikhail Zolotonosov shows how the Latvian holdings can be used to draw conclusions about KGB personnel and operations in his native city in the Russian Federation (gorod-812.ru/skolko-agentov-kgb-byilo-v-rige-i-leningrade/). The journalist shows how the Latvian documents are instructive not only about the KGB there but also about its size and activities elsewhere. The key paragraphs in Zolotonosov’s article concerning the size of the KGB’s network in Latvia and what that means for Leningrad are as follows” “According to preliminary assessments, there were at various times from March 1941 to March 1953 between 8,000 and 12,000 agents. In March 1953, all agents passed through re-registration and the majority from military times were excluded. Between March 6, 1953, and January 12, 1987, the organs of state security of the Latvian SSR recruited 22,926 agents. “The contingent of agents changed constantly, with some agents being dismissed and others recruited in their place. In the KGB of Latvia worked from 2,000 agents in 1961 to 7500 in 1986. In 1990, the contingent of agents was no less than 4829; in 1991, the number was reduced to 4141. “I think,” he says, “that for example in Leningrad the number of agents was many times greater because there were factories, research institutes, higher educational institutions, theaters, medical facilities and schools … [in the original]. So if in Latvia in 1986, there were 7500 agents, then in Leningrad in that year, I would estimate their number at 30,000 to 35,000, certainly no fewer.”

Jason Stanley | What John Stuart Mill Got Wrong about Freedom of Speech – To Inform is to Influence

A very powerful and unique article, well worth reading in its entirety.   Everyday speech and writing are so sensitive, so obtuse, and so PC, we can no longer trust the words we read or hear. Much of what we read is blatantly false.   </end editorial> By JASON STANLEY From HOW FASCISM WORKS by Jason Stanley. Copyright ©…

A year on from Salisbury, the West is failing to meet the resurgent Russian threat 

The compelling evidence provided by British intelligence chiefs about Russia&rsquo;s role in last year&rsquo;s Salisbury poisoning was supposed to shame Russian President Vladimir Putin into adopting a less hostile approach towards the West.

Here’s the identity of a top Russian spy kicked out of the UK after Russia tried to assassinate Sergei Skripal

On March 14, 2018, British Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats. That expulsion order was precipitated by the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, who had defected from Russian intelligence to British intelligence, and Skripal’s daughter Yulia. That botched assassination attempt by Russia’s military intelligence arm known as GRU injured the Skripals, a police officer, and later, killed an innocent Briton who stumbled across the GRU nerve-agent device.

RT Uses Sarcasm, No New Information, in Deflecting Skripal Poisoning Blame

On the one-year anniversary of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury, England, RT has issued an anniversary report seeking to shift blame away from the Kremlin by targeting open-so…

Top U.S. General Calls For More Defenses For Ukraine Against Russia

General Curtis Scaparrotti spoke just over three months after Russian naval forces seized three Ukrainian vessels operating in the Kerch Strait, near Crimea and the Sea of Azov.

US considering providing more weapons for Ukraine, general says | TheHill

The United States is considering providing Ukraine with more weapons on top of the anti-tank missiles it has already sent, a top general said Tuesday.

The Hill: U.S. considering providing more weapons for Ukraine, general says – news politics | UNIAN

The United States is considering providing Ukraine with more weapons on top of the anti-tank missiles it has already sent, a top general said Tuesday. Last year, the United States sold Ukraine the Javelin anti-tank missile system to help bolster its fight against Russian-backed forces.

U.S. European Command commander doesn’t rule out provision of new types of weapons to Ukraine

U.S. Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, Commander of the U.S. European Command does not rule out the provision of sniper systems, munitions and naval systems to Ukraine. — Ukrinform.

NATO chief wants to beef up Ukraine defenses against Russia threat

The commander of NATO forces in Europe, US General Curtis Scaparrotti, said Tuesday he wants to bolster Ukraine’s defenses against Russia’s “increasingly aggressive” posture in the east of the country and the Black Sea. The United States has already sold Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine in the past year, but there are “other systems, snipers systems, ammunition” that Washington could provide to strengthen Ukraine’s forces, the general told Congress. He said the US may have to consider boosting naval defenses in the Black Sea, after Russian forces shot at and seized three Ukrainian ships late last year as they were traversing the Kerch Strait linking the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea. Five years after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, Moscow “continues to arm, train,” and even “fight alongside antigovernment forces in eastern Ukraine,” he said, calling its activities a breach of the 2015 Minsk agreement designed to end the conflict. “The conflict in eastern Ukraine remains hot, with numerous ceasefire violations reported weekly,” Scaparrotti said. After a popular uprising in Ukraine in 2014 and the installation of a pro-Western leadership, Russia annexed Crimea. Kiev and European governments accuse Moscow of backing separatist groups in the east of the country in a conflict that has left some 13,000 dead.

Russian aggression targets Ukraine’s defense, economic, and political sectors – Scaparrotti – news politics | UNIAN

Moscow persists in its multifaceted campaign to destabilize Ukraine and block Ukraine’s democratic choice to align with the West, Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) of NATO Command Operations and Commander of the U.S. European Command,  Curtis Scaparrotti, said in a statement. Russia will likely attempt to interfere in Ukraine’s upcoming presidential elections, as it did in 2014, the U.S. Army general added.

Gen Viktor Muzhenko | Генеральний штаб ЗСУ / General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine – Posts

“Today we have someone and what to stop Russian planes and tanks!” – the head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzenko The head of the General Staff – the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General of the Army of Ukraine Viktor Muzenko, emphasized during his annual meeting with the members of the Kiev Association of Military Attaches, which took place in the Central House of Armed Forces officers of Ukraine in Kiev, March 6, 2019. The Armed Forces of Ukraine today solve four groups of tasks comprehensively, he noted. Firstly, it is the containment of direct Russian aggression in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the Azov and Black Seas as part of the operation of the United Force. General of the Army of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko reminded the audience that for the first time in the history of Ukraine, on November 26, 2018, a state of war was established in 10 oblasts of Ukraine in response to numerous Russian provocations, culminating in an armed attack on boats and tug of the Navy of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. – Recently, 100 days have passed, as Ukrainian military sailors are in Russian captivity, – emphasized Viktor Muzhenko. During the 30 days of the legal regime of martial law, the Armed Forces of Ukraine took urgent measures to ensure the defense of the country. Together with the deployment of interspecies groupings of troops in threatening directions, the issue of legislative regulation was raised, the system of logistics checked and the interaction of local authorities with territorial defense units worked out. Secondly, it is a comprehensive reform of the system of command and control of troops and organizational structure, taking into account existing and potential threats. It is also important to consistently change the mentality and managerial culture of military leaders. – We predict that in modern geopolitical realities, military threats are possible in three of the four geographic areas (north, east and south). The Russian side completes the formation of “shock units” on the borders of Ukraine, which together with parts of the special appointment, according to the plans of the Kremlin strategists, will form the basis of the forces of invasion. But the high mobility, adaptability and autonomy of our troops, combined with the factor of our native land, is our strategic advantage over the invader’s troops, “said Viktor Yanukovich, General of the Army of Ukraine. Last week, during the operational-strategic gathering with the leadership of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, a special emphasis was put on the development of non-standard solutions in planning operations and conducting hostilities with the superior forces of the enemy, he noted. The third group of tasks is the introduction of a new system of training personnel in a complex with an increase in the level of material motivation. The Armed Forces of Ukraine have succeeded in professional training of servicemen at the tactical level due to the transition from the quantitative principle of professional training to qualitative. This is an assessment not only of the Ukrainian General Staff, but also of foreign military advisers. – In the newly created vocational schools, snipers, tankers, anti-tankers, engineers, operators of BPL-complexes managed to combine theoretical techniques with practical combat experience gained on the front line. Together with the education system, the procedure of certification, qualification assignment and personnel bonus change was changed. Such an approach already gives positive results, – informed the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. – Today we aim to raise the level of training of headquarters of all levels, taking into account the procedures of NATO countries. Our priority is the preparation and adjustment of operational headquarters using simulation systems and the experience of real military operations. Fourthly, as noted by the General of the Army of Ukraine Victor Muzhenko, equipment of the troops was started not only by modernized but also by new systems of armament and military equipment. Subject to the execution of the State Defense Order in 2019, the Armed Forces of Ukraine will double the quantitative composition of new equipment in comparison with previous years. These are, first of all, the restoration and adoption of anti-aircraft defense systems and the modernization of missiles against them; assembling domestic anti-tank complexes of Brigades of the Land Forces, SSW and Marine Corps; the addition of troops to lightly-armored vehicles and the renewal of cargo vehicles; increase in the number of domestic BPL-complexes in intelligence and artillery divisions. “Today we have someone who has something to stop Russian aircraft and tanks!” – said the Chief of the General Staff – Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General of the Army of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko. The unity of the army and the people is the key to our victory over the invader, – General of the Army of Ukraine Victor Muzhenko The main achievement of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during these war years is the highest level of public confidence in the army among all state institutions. The attention of the representatives of the military-diplomatic corps accredited in Ukraine, the Chief of the General Staff – the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during the annual meeting with members of the Kiev Association of Military Attaches, which was held today, March 6, in Kiev at the Central House of officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Such an attitude of Ukrainian citizens to the Armed Forces of Ukraine and their support is extremely important in the context of the current hybrid war that Russia is leading against Ukraine. The period of the so-called “election turbulence”, which includes Ukraine, is used by the Russian Federation to carry out a complex of special operations to undermine the defense potential of Ukraine. – Today, a significant activation of the enemy in the information space is being tracked where, through a series of information and psychological operations, the enemy attempts to influence the personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and its citizens. Also, parallel to this, it is possible to conduct separate actions of direct action in the form of sabotage and sabotage near the advanced and even in the deep rear, – noted the head of the General Staff Victor Muzhenko. The Armed Forces of Ukraine take appropriate measures to prevent such scenarios, while at the same time, they are counting on the professionalism of the national intelligence services and the police. And also – on patriotism and vigilance of citizens. – The main achievement of the Armed Forces of Ukraine during these war years is the highest level of public confidence in the army among all state institutions. We feel a high responsibility and grateful to the Ukrainian people for their faith in their native army. It gives us strength and inspiration! After all, only the unity of the army and the people is the key to our victory over the invader, “said General of the Army of Ukraine Victor Muzhenko.

Muzhenko: Escalation in Donbas possible on election day

Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko has said he does not rule out possible escalation of the situation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the election day – March 31. — Ukrinform.

Russia might go for sabotage acts before presidential election in Ukraine, – Muzhenko

Russia-orchestrated sabotage acts possible before election in Ukraine, says Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces Viktor Muzhenko

Russia preparing to invade Ukraine from north, east and south – Muzhenko

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces predicts military threats in three of the four geographic directions – north, east and south. — Ukrinform. Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko said this at a meeting with defense officials and diplomats accredited in Ukraine, Ukrinform reports. “In modern geopolitical realities, we predict military threats in three of the four geographic directions – north, east and south. The Russian side completes the formation of attack groups on Ukraine’s borders, which, jointly with special operations units – according to the Kremlin’s strategists- will form the base of their invasion forces,” Muzhenko said. According to him, high mobility, adaptability and autonomy of Ukrainian troops, combined with the factor of “native land,” are a strategic advantage of the Ukrainian Armed Forces over the occupation forces. Muzhenko recalled that last week, at an operational and strategic gathering with the leadership of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, an emphasis was placed on the development of non-standard decisions in planning operations and conducting hostilities with the superior forces of the enemy.

Russia uses Ukraine’s pre-election “turbulence” to undermine Ukraine’s defense potential – Muzhenko – news war | UNIAN

Chief of the General Staff and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko says Russia has been making use of a period of pre-election “turbulence” in Ukraine to conduct a range of special operations to undermine the country’s defense potential. Moscow has been trying to influence Ukrainian troops through a series of information and psychological operations. Chief of the General Staff and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko says Russia has been making use of a period of pre-election “turbulence” in Ukraine to conduct a range of special operations to undermine the country’s defense potential. “The Russian Federation uses a period of the so-called pre-election ‘turbulence’ that started in our country to conduct a range of special operations to undermine the defense potential of Ukraine,” he said at a meeting with representatives of the military diplomatic corps accredited in Ukraine, according to an UNIAN correspondent.

Muzhenko: Ukrainian Army security outpost for Euro-Atlantic zone – news politics | UNIAN

Chief of the General Staff and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko says the Ukrainian army is an outpost of security for the Euro-Atlantic area. According to Muzhenko, Ukraine’s success is possible only with a strong, highly motivated, and professional Army.

Russia set to complete formation of offensive groupings on Ukraine border – Muzhenko – news war | UNIAN

Chief of the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces Gen. Viktor Muzhenko has announced that Russia is completing the formation of its strike force on the border with Ukraine, which together with special-operations units will form the base for the Kremlin’s invasion fist. However, high mobility, adaptability and autonomy of Ukrainian troops together with the “homeland” factor are the country’s strategic advantages over the occupying forces.

Ukraine won’t give up its right for free navigation through Kerch Strait – General Staff chief

Ukraine will not give up the right of free navigation through the Kerch Strait, head of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Viktor Muzhenko has said.

Azov crisis: EU ambassadors agree on sanctions against eight Russians

EU ambassadros agreed on new sanctions against Russians responsible for arrest of 24 Ukrainian POWs

EU Ambassadors Approve Sanctions On Eight More Russians Over Kerch Strait Incident

EU ambassadors have agreed to impose asset freezes and visa bans on eight Russians involved in the capture and jailing of 24 Ukrainian seamen in an incident near the Kerch Strait in November, accor…

EU ambassadors agree on sanctions against eight Russians responsible for detaining Ukrainian sailors

The ambassadors of the EU member states have agreed on sanctions against eight Russians responsible for detaining Ukrainian sailors and ships near the Kerch Strait in November last year. — Ukrinform.

Poroshenko hails EU decision on Azov package of sanctions against Russia

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has welcomed the decision by the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (COREPER) to launch a new “Azov package” of sanctions against Russia. — Ukrinform.

Frigate, assault boat of Turkish Navy arrive in Odesa port

Two vessels of Turkish Naval Forces have arrived in the port of Odesa

UAWire – Russia wants to send captured Ukrainian sailors for psychological and psychiatric examination

A Russian court issued a decree for three captured Ukrainian sailors to undergo a psychological and psychiatric examination. According to the …

Russia holds drills involving ballistic missiles in Crimea, Donbas – Klimkin – news politics | UNIAN

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin has said Russia destroyed everything that had formed the non-proliferation and arms control system, by developing and testing the RS-26 Rubezh ballistic missile and improving the Iskander-M missile system, while deploying the latter for drills in the occupied Donbas and Crimea. Ukraine is a responsible and consistent player in the field of non-proliferation, while reserving the right to create all types of weapons that are necessary to protect Ukraine and its national security, according to the top diplomat.

Russian report on combat boats starting patrolling area near Crimean Bridge sign of escalation – news politics | UNIAN

Coordinator of the CrimeaSOS public initiative Tamila Tasheva says the fact that Russia announced the start of a patrolling mission in the area near Crimean Bridge by its National Guard’s combat boats – allegedly to protect the bridge against Ukraine’s “provocations” – means that escalation could follow on the part of the Russian side. The human rights activist recalled a similar situation in 2016, when the so-called “Ukrainian saboteurs” were detained in Crimea amid Russian drills.

Poroshenko outlines strategy to counter Russian aggression

President Petro Poroshenko has stated that the strategy of Ukraine’s further counteraction to the military aggression of the Russian Federation must be based on the rigid and active defense and the introduction of international tools to monitor the security situation. — Ukrinform.

MEP: Russia has turned Crimea from gem into black hole for five years of occupation

For five years of the illegal annexation of Crimea, the invaders have turned the peninsula from a gem of the Black Sea into a black hole. — Ukrinform.

JFO HQ reports 2 wounded Ukrainian servicemen, 7 enemy attacks on Ukrainian positions in Donbas over past day

Russia’s hybrid military forces mounted seven attacks on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas in the past 24 hours, with two Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action, the press service of the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) has reported.

UAWire – Kyiv: Russian military cadets ‘undergo practice’ in Donbas

The spokesman for the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, Maxim Prauta stated at a press conference, with reference to data provided by the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, that the reason for the increase of the frequency of shillings in the Donbas is the arrival of Russia cadets from military academies for field testing. “One of the reasons why shelling in the Donbas has intensified is due to the cadets who undergo training and combat shooting tests after finishing higher education institutions in Russia. They come for field training with the 1st and 2nd Army Corps and shell with 122 and 120-mm caliber ammunition,” said Prauta. In addition, the Russian military in the occupied territories of Donbas began field testing of a new model of drone for reconnaissance and combat capabilities. Over the past day Russian militants in the Donbas fired over 100 times at Ukrainian military targets.

Seven attacks yesterday, enemy employed artillery, mortars: two Ukrainian soldiers wounded, one terrorist destroyed

06.03.19 07:15 – Seven attacks yesterday, enemy employed artillery, mortars: two Ukrainian soldiers wounded, one terrorist destroyed March 5, the Russian occupying forces violated the cease-fire seven times, using weapons banned by the Minsk agreements View news.

Former “DPR Central Election Commission head” Liahin didn’t surrender to Ukraine, – SBU

06.03.19 16:22 – Former “DPR Central Election Commission head” Liahin didn’t surrender to Ukraine, – SBU The Security Service of Ukraine has refuted the information about former “DPR Central Election Commission head” Roman Liahin having surrendered under the SBU “You are awaited at home” pardon program. View news.

Former “DPR Central Election Commission head” Liahin surrenders to Ukraine

06.03.19 13:02 – Former “DPR Central Election Commission head” Liahin surrenders to Ukraine Terrorist Roman Liahin, who organized the pseudo-referendum in Donbas on May 11, 2014, has surrendered to Ukraine after having faced persecution by terrorists in Donetsk. He fell under the SBU pardon program and became a valuable witness. View news.

Female Tank Commander ‘Defects’ For Love, Warns Kyiv Of ‘Invasion’ Plan

Svitlana Dryuk, a notorious former tank commander for separatist forces in Ukraine has appeared in Kyiv with grave claims about Russian actions in eastern Ukraine. Can she be believed?

UAWire – Ukrainian Security Service confirms evacuation of DPR tank battalion commander from Donbas

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has confirmed that Svetlana Dryuk aka “Veterok”, a former tank battalion commander for the “People’s Militia” of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), has been evacuated to government-controlled territory. “The SBU confirms that a mercenary from the Russian illegal armed groups in the Donbas, tank battalion chief of staff Svetlana Dryuk, has been brought into Ukraine-controlled territory,” the SBU’s press department stated. According to the security service, the evacuation was the concluding stage of a lengthy SBU counterintelligence operation, “as a result of which we obtained a valuable eye-witness of Russian military aggression in Ukraine, as well as important materials pertaining to the leading role of career officers of the Russian Armed Forces and Russian intelligence agents in organizing terrorist activity in the Donbas”. The operation was carried out under a “strict counterintelligence regime”. “This operation was a contest of intellect and professionalism between the Russian and Ukrainian intelligence agencies, and the obtained result is yet another piece of evidence of Russian armed aggression,” observed SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak. On Sunday, the TV channel 1+1 reported that Svetlana Dryuk, the commander of a women’s tank crew for the DPR, had started cooperating with Ukraine. Dryuk herself said that close acquaintance with a Ukrainian intelligence agent had led her to make the decision. The TV report stated that Ukrainian counterintelligence operatives had evacuated Dryuk from the separatist-controlled territory after eight T-72 tanks belonging to the 11th DPR regiment were destroyed in an explosion. Her story was only published at the start of March, since until recently, her two children were still in the Donbas. Svetlana Dryuk was the archetype of the female protagonist in the film Opolchenochka (“Militiawoman”) which is being filmed in Luhansk. The first screening is scheduled for 9 May 2019. The producer called Dryuk’s actions “treachery”, but gave his assurances that they would not affect the film’s success. Local media in the DPR has described Dryuk’s evacuation as an “abduction”.

Ukroboronprom details latest T-80 upgrades

The Ukrainian Armed Forces have received upgraded T-80BV main battle tanks, according to a 1 March press release from state-owned company Ukroboronprom. The T-80BVs were upgraded to the same standard as the T-64 2017-standard tanks. The upgrade of the T-80BV model allows a significant expansion of its combat capabilities, and the time required to integrate the new equipment allows it to be carried out during routine maintenance. The T-80BV is fitted with third-generation night vision equipment, which utilises existing fittings to minimise changes and reduce costs. The gunner’s sighting system has an integrated thermal imager, which detects, identifies, and engages enemy 125 mm guns at any time of day and in all weather conditions. Other improvements include a satellite navigation system from Orizon-Navigation integrated into a digital battle management system, as well as Lybid K-2RB digital radios with a range of 70 km supplied by Dolya & Co. The new tanks have been delivered to Ukrainian Airborne Force as well as Ukraine’s Marine Corps. The press release also states that the Kharkiv Armour Plant is scheduled to begin work this year to upgrade some of the T-80UDs in service with Ukrainian forces to the T-84 standard.

KKB “Luch” has concluded three contracts at IDEX

In the framework of the participation in the International IDEX-2019 (Abu Dhabi, OAU) international defense organization, the State Design Bureau of Kyiv (DKBB), LLC, has concluded three new contracts in the field of military-technical cooperation. It was reported by Interfax-Ukraine agency “At the exhibition in the Emirates (we) immediately signed three contracts,” O.Korostilov told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday in Kyiv. He did not specify the customers and fill the new arrangements of the “Luch” DCC in the field of the military-technical cooperation, but made it clear that it was about supplying foreign customers with a new Ukrainian high-precision anti-tank weapon. “I can be proud of the fact that Ukrainian cooperation has ensured the creation of high-tech weapons that are in line with the best tactical and technical characteristics of the world, ” said Korostylev, adding : “No in Stugny, nor in the” Corsair “(the new Ukrainian PTRK-IF), Neither in Neptune (a new Ukrainian anti-ship cruise missile IF) or the Vielha (new Ukrainian RCC) there are no foreign components other than general-purpose electronics that can be purchased in Germany, America, Taiwan, or anywhere else. . We have always raised the question: the nodes that are unique military systems (in the armament-infantry unit) … must be domestic. ” “So we believe not only we do it all over the world,” said the General Designer of the “Luch” DCCB, noting that “the Western defense industry, of course, is working within the framework of a deeper co-operation that has developed over the past 70 years after the end of the Second World War.” “We are striving for this, the way to this is thorny, (he) is not easy, he requires investment, training people,” – said Korostylev, clarifying that the DKBB “Ray” in the post-Soviet years was installed in the direction of targeting the national industrial cooperation in creating new samples of weapons, was and remains the guarantor of the lack of dependence of defense production from a foreign supplier. According to O.Korostilov, he always remembered that “as soon as I start to buy (components) in the Russian Federation, Poland, then at any moment I will overestimate the price 10-20 times if they want, or just say:” No, we do not supply you. ” “Therefore, we do not have import substitution in the CB … We do not depend on anyone,” he added. As the former military expert Sergey Zhoretz wrote, the OAU was studying the possibility of purchasing STGP “Stugna-P” with a caliber of 155 mm and a range of 5.5 km, as well as the wearer of the Corsair 107 mm caliber with a range of 2.5 km, the development and production of the DKBB ” Ray “.

Poroshenko ready to conduct comprehensive international audit of Ukroboronprom

06.03.19 17:40 – Poroshenko ready to conduct comprehensive international audit of Ukroboronprom President Of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko says he is ready to conduct a comprehensive international audit of Ukroboronprom in light of recent probes into defense corruption involving Poroshenko’s inner circle. View news.

U.S. Ambassador calls on Ukraine’s government to investigate corruption at Ukroboronprom – news politics | UNIAN

U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has called on Ukraine’s government to investigate cases of corruption in the defense sector, namely state-run Concern Ukroboronprom. The ambassador also says that the state defense order should be declassified.

Ukraine should declassify state defense order, conduct full audit of Ukroboronprom, – Jovanovitch

US Ambassador in Ukraine urges to declassify state defense order, fund and perform audit of Ukroboronprom enterprise

NABU registers another criminal case against Ukrspecexport leaders after analyzing 3rd part of film on corruption in defense industry

Detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), based on the results of the analysis of the information presented in the third part of the investigation film by the team of journalistic investigations Bihus.Info on the facts of corruption in the defense industry complex, have registered another criminal proceedings.

UAWire – Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau opens another criminal investigation into embezzlement in defense industry

The National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) initiated a new criminal investigation into the misappropriation and theft of the state’s …

Ambassador Yovanovitch: SAPO chief must be replaced – news politics | UNIAN

U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch has called on the Ukrainian authorities to replace chief of the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) Nazar Kholodnytsky over the loss of trust. In July 2018, the High Qualifications Commission decided not to dismiss Kholodnytsky, but he received a reprimand.

Kholodnytsky calls U.S. Ambassador Yovanovitch’s appeal for his dismissal as unacceptable interference in affairs of another state

Head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) Nazar Kholodnytsky has refused to comment on the words of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch, who had called for his dismissal the day before, and called interference in the internal affairs of another state unacceptable.

Kholodnytskyi to Ambassador Yovanovitch: There’s nothing to comment on, wait until Monday

06.03.19 14:13 – Kholodnytskyi to Ambassador Yovanovitch: There’s nothing to comment on, wait until Monday Kholodnytskyi has commented on the statement of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovich about his dismissal as Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor. View news.

SAP chief Kholodnytskyi: over 10 defense sector proceedings in progress

06.03.19 13:37 – SAP chief Kholodnytskyi: over 10 defense sector proceedings in progress The Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAP) is investigating more than 10 defense-related proceedings. View news.

Сorruption probe in defense sector: Preventive measure to be chosen for two suspects – news ukraine | UNIAN

The court is set to elect a preventive measure for two officials suspected of fraud in the defense sector today, March 6. Also detained were three other former officials of SpetsTechnoExport, NABU said

Directors of two anti-graft agencies invited to Rada amid notorious corruption case – news politics | UNIAN

Directors of two anti-graft agencies – Chief of the Specialized Anti-corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) Nazar Kholodnytsky and Director of the National Anti-corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) Artem Sytnyk have been invited to Ukraine’s parliament to attend a March 13 parliamentary committee hearing on preventing and combating corruption, which is investigating the facts of large-scale embezzlement in the defense sector. The parliament’s committee on preventing and combating corruption will hold a meeting on March 13.

Ambassador Yovanovitch: Fight in Ukraine not over, even after tangible progress since Maidan

06.03.19 16:57 – Ambassador Yovanovitch: Fight in Ukraine not over, even after tangible progress since Maidan US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch believes that the opportunities for changes in Ukraine for which such a high price was paid five years ago on the Maidan has not yet lead to such reforms in the field of fighting corruption or the assertion… View news.

UAWire – G7 and World Bank urge Ukraine to reinstate illicit enrichment article of Criminal Code

The Group of Seven and the World Bank have criticized the Constitutional Court of Ukraine’s decision to revoke article 368-2 of the Criminal …

Kherson governor suspected of ordering activist’s murder suspended from office – news ukraine | UNIAN

Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky district court has suspended Vladyslav Manger, who is suspected of organizing an assassination of Kherson activist and civil servant Kateryna Handziuk’s, from the post of chairman of Kherson Regional Council for one month. Since February 20, Manger has been wearing an ankle monitor, restricted in his movement within Kherson city borders, requiring an SBU detective’s permission to travel outside the city.

UAWire – Ukraine doubles export of poultry to the EU

The European Commission reported that in 2018, Ukraine supplied European Union with 123 thousand tons of poultry, which is 53.7% more than in 201 …

DW: After 5 years of Ukraine sanctions, where are Viktor Yanukovych’s millions? – news economics | UNIAN

EU sanctions against Ukraine’s former president have been in place for five years. As criminal investigations drag on, the chances of returning the millions in stolen money to its rightful owners are rapidly dwindling. The funds can only be seized and returned to Ukraine once its illegal origins have been proven in Ukrainian courts.

Google Maps shows Crimea as Russian territory for Russian users

Google Maps started depicting occupied Crimea as a part of Russia for Russian users

Patriotism, pressure, populism: How Poroshenko can win – EURACTIV.com

In Ukraine’s upcoming presidential election, the candidate disliked by most could actually win, writes Balász Jarábik. In Ukraine’s upcoming presidential election, the candidate disliked by most could actually win, writes Balász Jarábik. Balázs Jarábik is a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where his research focuses on Eastern and Central Europe with a particular focus on Ukraine. He is based in Budapest. Just three months ago—and for the first time in the country’s history since becoming independent in 1991—current President Petro Poroshenko imposed martial law in Ukraine. Although the law followed an attack by Russian forces on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, few believed that its initially proposed sixty-day duration was incidental. The move raised concerns in international circles that it may be used to postpone presidential elections scheduled for 31 March. Less than a month to go before the vote, Poroshenko is back in the race. The president seems to have enough campaign cards up his sleeve to win the vote, despite the damage caused by a fresh corruption case in the defence sector. The return of Poroshenko is not a reflection of how Ukraine has changed since Maidan. Rather, it is an illustration of how the country’s geopolitical orientation shifted dramatically. No doubt, Ukrainian society has made a firm choice toward the West, and this election won’t change this. Political satirist Volodymyr Zelenskiy Zelenskiy is the current frontrunner but he seems to have reached his ceiling in the polls. The comedian offers a positive way of collecting protest votes and an unorthodox way of public engagement as many voters feel that reforms “failed” ordinary Ukrainians. The disillusionment is understandable. One only has to look at Poroshenko’s track record to understand why. Out of his original “four D” programme for a new Ukraine—deregulation, debureaucratisation, deoligarchisation, decentralisation—only the latter has been successful. The president has pragmatically switched to a “three P” plan: patriotism, pressure, and populism. His “Army, Language, Faith” motto portrays him as a “saviour” of Ukraine from Russia. The president’s theatrical reaction to the Kerch Strait incident reminded Ukrainians of the importance of having a strong commander-in-chief. Poroshenko’s comeback started with his pushing unification of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. And a new language law will further polarise the country by putting an official end to Ukraine’s bilingualism—but will help the current present mobilise his base. Another advantage for Poroshenko is that the number of undecided voters has risen in the latest polls to 25%—as high as the support for Zelenskiy, whose own base is weak. Zelenskiy spends most of his time campaigning in the regions, avoiding the capital where he could be confronted with policy issues that he is simply not ready to address. Meanwhile, the “either Poroshenko or Putin” message is polarizing, but it seems to be working. Turning toward the West is the only real achievement of post-Maidan politics the majority can rally behind. Because no candidate can credibly address major citizen concerns—like improving the economy, resolving the war in the Donbas, and tackling corruption—being seen as the only serious political alternative matters. Poroshenko is reinforcing this message, dominating the campaign with massive spending, presence in the regions, and most media channels with his agenda—pushing everyone else into a defensive position. Tymoshenko is being branded a “populist;” Zelenskiy an “inexperienced clown.” And Poroshenko is the only statesman and commander-in-chief. To boost his image, and tarnish his opponents, the presidential administration is employing trolls, bots, and experts. Political opponents also claim that pressure is applied through the country’s special services (SBU) and the General Prosecutors Office (GPO), institutions directly under the president’s control. Nor is Poroshenko is afraid of using populist tactics. Not coincidently, the government brought forward the monetisation of gas subsidies before the elections. In addition, Kyiv decided to pay a one-off benefit of $90 to 1.9 million pensioners having a minimum pension of $61. The rest of the country’s 8 million pensioners will also see pension hikes before the vote. All this has been made possible out of the $500 million from duty payments on illegally imported cars from the EU. Classic vote buying is also believed to be massive— though not just in Poroshenko’s camp. No wonder that his original, whopping 77% refusal rate has decreased. His supporters are the most committed of the country’s voters. His campaign reinforces urbanites’ fear of chaos with the fiery Tymoshenko or the novice Zelenskiy. No wonder that 24% of Ukrainians actually think that the president will win. Finally, Ukraine’s dependence on the West also helps the incumbent because the West seems supporting him. The US State Department has just launched a website to counter Russian aggression in Ukraine. European Council President Donald Tusk reaffirmed Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration ambition in a passionate speech in the Ukrainian Parliament on the occasion of the constitutional changes enacted by President Poroshenko. Supporting the status quo has become the Western policy by default, born out of inertia and fear of change. Ukraine’s electoral campaign should serve as a wake-up call for the West to realise the need for changing the economic policy. Macroeconomic stabilisation has been painful and has not been brought investments. The trade deficit doubled in 2018; in goods, it reached a whopping $10 billion. Ukraine is now ranked as Europe`s poorest country. An estimated four million Ukrainians working abroad are currently providing more external sources for the economy than the IMF. Poroshenko himself says that poverty is his post-election priority. Yet the obvious risk — underlined by his track record in office— is that even if he wins, “continuity” will mostly mean the same old policies.

Kolomoisky says Zelensky is a symbol of generation change for him, not a chance to take revenge for PrivatBank

Ukrainian businessman Ihor Kolomoisky has said that showman Volodymyr Zelensky is a symbol of generation change for him and not a means to take revenge on current officials for nationalizing PrivatBank.

United States supports free and fair elections in Ukraine – David Hale

The United States supports free and fair elections that reflect the will of Ukrainians, not outside powers, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale has said. — Ukrinform.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Orthodox Parishes in Ukraine Shifting from Moscow to Kyiv at Ever Increasing Rate

Paul Goble Staunton, March 5 – In the first 76 days since the autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine came into existence (December 15 to February 28), 417 parishes in Ukraine changed their allegiance from the Moscow church to that one, Bishop Grigory (Lurye) of the Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church says. This process, he says, is accelerating. In the second half of December, only 35 parishes changed allegiance, but in January 150 did, and in the short month of February, the number rose to 232. There is every reason to believe that this acceleration will continue as the number changing affiliation reaches “critical mass” in particular regions (credo.press/223245/). Up to now, “the overwhelming majority of these communities are situated in the western oblasts of Ukraine, somewhat fewer in the central ones, and very few in the eastern districts. The overwhelming majority of churches involved are village churches. Only 6.5 percent of those changing are in cities. In the city of Kyiv, only three (of 268 parishes or 1.12 percent) have.” Bishop Grigory says that the Orthodox Church of Ukraine and the Moscow Patriarchate in Ukraine “are competing for influence over the conformist majority of the population,” few of whom on their own, he argues, would be likely to action to make a change unless they first saw others doing so. This is especially true in villages where the church is an integral part of the community and is viewed as belonging to the parishioners. Such people until very recently didn’t think very much about what their subordination meant. Only as the issue has emerged have they begun to move. And each change thus gives rise to more changes in affiliation when others see it. In the cities, Bishop Grigory says, “the situation is quite different.” Most of the residents and the city administration have little to do with the churches. Many simple people visit the church only rarely, and the church never becomes “part of the landscape of their lives as is inevitably the case in the village.” People do not view churches as “their own” but rather as belonging to someone else, in this case, the various church hierarchies. And they are less likely to believe that it is up to them do decide on the fate of the churches in that respect. Nonetheless, even in the cities, things are changing, albeit with a delay and more slowly. Gradually in the West and to a less extent in the central part of Ukraine, there are taking shape regions where enough parishes have changed affiliation that others are looking to them and will now follow, first of all in the villages and then in the cities. This process is best described as “a chain reaction.” The situation in the eastern part of Ukraine is very different. Not a single region there has seen enough changes to reach critical mass and lead to a chain reaction, the bishop continues, although there are some indications that Sumsky oblast may be the first in that region where this will happen. One should not except major changes in the east in the first half of this year; but much is going on below the surface, and it is likely that the ice will begin to melt and changes happen in the last six months of 2019. In many respects that will depend not only on shifts in allegiance but also on the actions of the two churches and the Ukrainian state. But the trend is clear, he says: ever more churches in Ukraine ever more rapidly are going to transfer their allegiance to the UOC, first in the villages and then in the cities, and first in the west, then in the center, but finally in the east of the country as well.

Ukraine’s new church complains to UN, OSCE over pressure in occupied Crimea – news politics | UNIAN

The Orthodox Church of Ukraine appealed to the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) over the mounting pressure on the Ukrainian church in the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas. The OCU has asked the organizations to influence decision-makers to stop the escalation of persecutions. The Orthodox Church of Ukraine appealed to the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) over the mounting pressure on the Ukrainian church in the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbas. The Holy Synod in its statement noted that for over five years, occupying Russian authorities never ceased persecuting the Crimean diocese headed by Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea, Klyment. Among most recent incidents is an attempt to seize the building hosting the St Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral in Simferopol, pressure on church community in Yevpatoria, as well as the detention of Archbishop Klyment.

The Ukrainian Church: A Repository of National Identity – Seton Hall University

“The Ukrainian Catholic Church: A Repository of the National Identity” is a look at the history of a national movement for independence and how that movement depended on the Catholic faith for nurturing, growth and final fruition. The Ukrainian people returned to the fold of the Universal Church in 1596 with the Union of Brest. The faithful accepted this as not only a realigning with the Catholic Church, but for the protection of their Ukrainian national identity. The symposium will look at the different aspects of this incredible relationship between the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the national identity of Ukraine.

Pope thanks God for dialogue with Oriental Orthodox Churches – Vatican News

Pope Francis meets with members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and Oriental Orthodox …

Jehovah’s Witnesses In Russia Say Police Used Shocks, Beatings

Several Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Russian city of Surgut say they were beaten, suffocated, or shocked during interrogations by police about their group’s activities. The charges come amid reports of a broader Russian crackdown on the U.S.-based religious group.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Cossacks Want Religious as Well as Political Independence from Moscow, Dyomin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 4 – “The Cossack people wants to achieve not only national-state independence from Moscow but religious independence as well,” Vyacheslav Dyomin says; “and that is why ever more voices have been raised about the establishment of an autocephalous Cossack Church, capable of uniting the True Orthodox” on Cossack lands in Russia. This religious dimension of the Cossack national movement, the émigré Cossack leader says, reflects the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s decision to grant autocephaly to Ukraine, the continued oppression of True Orthodox communities in Russia, and anger among Cossacks and others about the way in which the Moscow Patriarchate has become a servant of the Kremlin. To that end, Dyomin has begun to outline how the Cossacks and the True Orthodox may come together and achieve international recognition of their status as a separate church, something that would provide them with a potentially powerful defense against Moscow’s continuing oppression of both (facebook.com/demin.nimed/posts/1136118916571118). The émigré activist has been a powerful voice on behalf of the True Orthodox, some of whose followers have been imprisoned or forced into exile while others have continued to function as an undergound “catacomb church” of the kind that existed in Soviet times (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/11/another-tragic-soviet-continuity-in.html). Now, he is pointing to the way in which the energy of these believers and that of independent Cossacks can come together, a development that could represent a threat to the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian state behind it at least as fateful as the recognition of Ukrainian autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarchate has been. Reflecting both its own concerns and those of the Kremlin, the Moscow Patriarchate has long been concerned about the possibility of religious dissent by the Cossacks. Not only does it maintain a special synodical department for Cossack affairs, but it has issued strong denunciations of any effort by the Cossacks to seek autocephaly for themselves. ROC MP Bishop Kirill, the head of that department and someone who claims Cossack ancestry, has issued stinging denunciations of efforts by Cossacks to set up a separate church and to seek autocephaly from Constantinople on the basis of the mistaken idea that they and not he Moscow Patriarchate are the True Orthodox of Russia (patriarchia.ru/db/text/1552330.html). Moscow appears to be growing increasingly worried about that possibility, especially in the wake of Ukrainian autocephaly and growing Western attention to Moscow’s repressive policies toward the Jehovah’s Witnesses and other Christian groups in Russia, including the True Orthodox. Just how serious the Cossack interest in having that nation’s own church and how worried Moscow, religious and secular, is about that prospect was signaled at the end of last year by an article in NG-Religii entitled “The Cossacks have Founded Their Own Church” and await autocephaly from the Ecumenical Patriarch (ng.ru/ng_religii/2018-12-18/11_456_kazaki.html). Its author, Artur Priymak, who covers religious affairs for Moscow’s Nezavisimaya gazeta, details the efforts by the All-Cossack Center, which is independent of and at odds with Putin’s “registered” Cossacks, to revive the Cossack Orthodox Apostolic Church as a first step toward autocephaly. Although Priymak cannot conceal his hostility to the whole idea and his desire to link the Cossacks to Ukrainian “splitters,” he quotes with apparent acceptance the statement of a Cossack religious leader who says that “the process of the rebirth of the Cossack Church started on the territory of the Russian Federation,” no in Ukraine. In Russia, he notes, the All-Cossack Center and its religious arm are in “harsh opposition” to the ROC MP and current Russian powers that be. The Cossack Church is beginning to recruit clergy from the Truly Orthodox faithful, the Cossacks say; and Priymak says that the first Cossack church is likely to go up in Podolsk near Moscow in 2019. The Moscow commentator does not discuss the ways in which True Orthodoxy and the ROC MP are at odds, but he does mention one thing that may matter than he suspects. While the Moscow Patriarchate refers to its followers as “slaves of God,” the Cossack True Orthodox don’t because “a Cossack has never been a slave to anyone.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Predictions of Islamization of Russia Set Off Media Firestorm in Moscow

Paul Goble Staunton, March 5 – A suggestion by Ravil Gaynutdin, the head of the Union of Muftis of Russia (SMR), that the share of Muslims in Russia will rise from seven to 30 percent in 15 years and the even more radical prediction by Orthodox Archhpriest Dmitry Smirnov that Muslims will displace Russians by mid-century have touched off a media firestorm in Moscow. Mufti Gaynutdin is not noted for radicalism, and his views as expressed to a Duma conference on Islam, were relatively calm; but Father Dmitry, head of the synod’s department for family affairs, is notorious for his extreme comments. The reactions to their words were even more alarmist (politsovet.ru/62007-rossiyane-zakonchatsya-muftiy-i-svyaschennik-rpc-predskazali-rost-chisla-musulman-v-rossii.html). It is certainly true that Muslim nations within the current borders of the Russian Federation have higher birthrates, lower mortality rates, and longer life expectancies than do Russians, although they start from a much lower base, and there are an increasing number of Muslim gastarbeiters who add to the total. Those are all subjects demographers in Russia and the West have been talking about for decades, but over the last 24 hours, Russian media reaction was as hysterical as Smirnov’s language rather than as measured as Gaynutdin’s, who said that he was citing others whom he respects rather than coming up with the numbers on his own. A useful correction to all this is offered by Russian journalist and commentator Maksim Shevchenko who points out that such predictions wildly overstate the situation. The number of Muslims relative to the number of Russians is growing but too slowly to lead to the outcomes Gaynutdin and Smirnov suggest (echo.msk.ru/blog/shevchenkomax/2382731-echo/). He suggests that there are approximately 15.3 million members of traditionally Muslim nationalities in Russia and that there number is supplemented by only 4.6 million Muslim gastarbeiters. (The figure for Muslim gastarbeiters is almost certainly an understatement but not by an enormous amount.) But however that might be, Shevchenko gives as the total number of Muslims in Russia today the figure of 21 million. “That’s all,” he says. “We don’t have any other Muslims.” That means they currently form 14.3 percent of the population. For them to reach 30 percent of the population, they would have to more than double in number – and in only 15 years. This could happen if and only if one of the following conditions were to be met: the restoration of the USSR and the inclusion of Central Asian republics within Russia, a wild increase in the birthrate among Muslims, a sharp fall in the number of non-Muslims, the influx of Muslims from abroad, the mass acceptance of Islam by non-Muslims or the reduction in the size of the Russian Federation. None of these is likely, Shevchenko says; but to suggest otherwise is to play into the hands of “Islamophobes, nationalists and fascists of all kinds.” Gaynutdin has been misled or even set up by those who do not wish Islam well, but he should have reflected about the possible consequences of his words

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Soviet Anti-Religious Policies Opened Way for Islamist Radicalism in Russia, New Book Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 5 – Soviet anti-religious policies led to the destruction of the network of mosques in the country and the extermination of almost all the traditional Muslim leaders, a new book argues; and that created a vacuum which radical preachers were able to fill and thus spark the rise of Islamist radicalism in Russia today. For this, the author of The History of Islam in Russia: Making Sense of the Past with a View to the Future (in Russian, Moscow, 2019) says, Russians and the world can say a big “thank you” to Joseph Stalin who took the lead in this mistaken effort, one that has proved dangerously counterproductive (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/332537/). The author, Damir Mukhetdinov, deputy rector of the Moscow Islamic Institute, presented his conclusions to a Duma conference on Islam in Russia, conclusions based on the proposition that “the history of Muslims of Russia today is an inseparable part of the Russian state.” Mukhetdinov argues that “Islam on the territory of Russia has had a state-forming status,” having arrived in what is now the Daghestani city of Derbet with the forces of the companions of the Prophet in 642 CE. And they point out that until the taking of Kazan, “a large part of Eastern Europe was part of the Islamic world.” In the 1980s, Mukhetdinov says, there were “about 120 mosques” in the Russian Federation; today there are “about 8,000. But that number is down from the more than 11,000 which exited in the 1920s before the Soviet authorities launched their attack on Islam, destroying mosques and killing mullahs and imams. That created the organizational and intellectual vacuum which opened the way for radical Islamist preachers after 1991. The Soviets set the stage for this in two other ways, Alikber Alibeerkov, the deputy director of the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies, said in a comment about Mukhetdinov’s presentation. On the one hand, by destroying so many of those who were part of the vibrant intellectual life of Islam in Russia in the 19th century, Moscow effectively “levelled” the differences among various trends in Islam, thus making it far easier for those in one camp to shift to another. In all too many cases, those involved did not know either trend well. And on the other, Moscow’s transparent use of Islam for political goals, especially at the dawn and near the end of Soviet power, had the effect of reinforcing the idea among Muslims that Islam is called upon to play a political role, an idea that radicals have picked up on with remarkable success since 1991.

RUSSIA – NORTH KOREA Patriarch Kirill will visit North Korea. Russian orthodoxy in the East

Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Trinity opened in 2006 for Russian, Bulgarian and Romanian communities in Pyongyang. The work of the Asian Orthodox Exarchate, based in Singapore. TPatriarchate of Moscow activities in Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, South and North Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand. The importance of former Soviet friendships.

Poking fun at God? Anime-style religious icons disturb Russian Orthodox believers (IMAGES) — RT Russia News

A social media account sharing anime-style drawings of religious icons has caused public outcry in Russia, with priests and believers calling the artwork “inappropriate” and “sinful.”

Cultural Autonomy and Spiritual Revival in Kalmykia: A Conversation with Valeriya Gazizova | Buddhistdoor

The Russian Federation includes three autonomous republics with majority Buddhist populations. These republics are relatively unknown among Buddhists and scholars in the West, but have in the past couple of decades gained increasing prominence for their unique positions in the Russian polity and religious-social-cultural histories, in particular the republic of Kalmykia. One of the most knowledgeable and articulate scholars best qualified to discuss the Buddhist history of Kalmykia is Valeriya Gazizova, a recipient of The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Buddhist Studies 2017. She is currently based at Cambridge University and is working on a postdoctoral project called, “Clandestine Buddhism” in Soviet Kalmykia (1958–1988) and its Role in the Post-Soviet Buddhist Revival. Valeriya grew up in Russia’s North Caucasus region from the age of 12. She completed her first university degree in English and French Philology in her home city of Krasnodar and became interested in Kalmyk culture and history during her MA in Tibetan Studies at the University of Oslo. She completed her PhD on Mongol religions and culture in 2015 at the same institute. She has since embraced a multidisciplinary approach, deploying historical-critical, textual, anthropological, and sociological ideas to understand this unique Buddhist culture at the far side of the Russian world. “The history of Kalmykia is tragic,” she says. “It’s a story of loss after loss, crisis after crisis. It is possible to identify this series of catastrophes by looking at what happened during the years of Joseph Stalin’s oppression. In 1931, the head lama of Kalmykia, Luvsan Sharap Tepkin, was arrested, and throughout the 1930s a sustained campaign of repression and forced disrobing of monks spread throughout the republic.”

 

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