Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Russia complaining about US deployments to Poland – divisions of Russian troops on NATO borders is OK, a brigade of US troops hours of travel away is a calamity. Russians announce completion of OPEVAL for S-500 radar components, and elaborate on integration with Pantsir SM SPAAGM. Updates on Turkey and Hungary. Polish ASW helos. Russia’s Internet Law and cyber contractors. Nordstream 2 update. More on the alleged Belarus coup plot, and an update on the contaminated pipeline fiasco.
President-elect Zelensky posts a another commentary on Facebook that will sent Muscovy ballistic – Portnikov’s analysis is very good and explains exactly why Ze is an existential threat to the Vozhd and his faux-fascist kleptocratic system of government. Muscovy did not want Poroshenko to win, but now have an opponent who is far more dangerous in very different ways. Update on what is now being labelled Muscovy’s “passportization project” – good longitudinal analysis by Socor.
Donbas update – two AFU WIA, five Russians KIA and two WIA. AFU troops elaborate on using new Stugna ATGWs to “make shish kebab from the occupier” – graphic but accurate. Russia deploys the Tirada-2 satcom jammer to Donbas ostensibly to jam the RQ-4B Global Hawk RPVs that are surveilling Donbas at least twice a week of recent. Gen Nayev summarises JFO outcomes. Industry update, especially exports and imports with Turkey.
Politics update, especially Odessa riot anniversary. Ze Administration staff brief on policies, and a defense policy analysis that suggests few changes compared to Poroshenko. Khrushcheva analysis – she has a good point as Ukraine has a history of irreverent political mischief and pranks dating back to the Kyivan Rus’ period. Chatham house analysis.
Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters will take over for Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti in the dual roles of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and head of U.S. European Command
The Kremlin has gone all-in on projecting an image of new strength — and part of that has been a rebirth of Russian naval activity across the board. In an exclusive interview with Defense News, a U.S. Navy officer and an American diplomat describe the state of relations between the two nations.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced that a planned increase in the number of the U.S. soldiers in Poland would be a violation of the fundamental Russia-NATO act. “This reflects the United States’ policy of breaking all the security arrangements in the Euro-Atlantic region. In this case, it is about undermining one of the key provisions of the founding act between Russia and NATO, according to which substantial combat forces in the territory of new NATO members should not be posted on a permanent basis, “he said at a press conference following a meeting with his colleague from Cape Verde, Luis Felipe Tavares. Lavrov noted that Moscow is monitoring the negotiations between Warsaw and Washington and that the decision to deploy a military contingent will not add security to Europe. “Russia is not going to attack neither Poland nor any other NATO country, everyone knows that perfectly well, everyone understands this very well,” added the minister. Earlier, Poland offered the United States to host an American armored division on a permanent basis, taking upon itself around 1.5-2 billion dollars of expenses. The proposal was put forward bilaterally, outside the NATO framework. Polish President, Andrzej Duda, proposed naming this base Fort Trump. Currently, around 4,500 troops of the U.S. Army are stationed in Poland as part of the United States armored brigade and multinational battalion group.
After leading the development of this technology area for decades, the U.S. finds itself behind and investing heavily in the technology to try to keep up.
Unique radar systems have proven their effectiveness at the test sites. by Aleksey Ramm and Bogdan Stepovoy. Prometheus is preparing for combat work: elements of the newest S-500 air defense system – a radar complex (RLC) and a multifunctional radar station (RLS) – have passed ground tests and are ready for production, sources in the Ministry of Defense told Izvestia. The S-500 is designed to destroy cruise and hypersonic missiles, airplanes and helicopters, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles. “Prometheus” will be able to “work” even on low-orbiting satellites, the interlocutors in the military department specified. S-500 will seriously strengthen the anti-missile and air defense deployed in Central Russia of the Moscow industrial region, experts are sure. The fact that the development of anti-aircraft missile system S-500 has entered the final stage, recently said the Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov. The last stage of the radar tests took place on the basis of the 185th Center for Combat Training and Combat Use of Aerospace Forces, located in the Astrakhan Region. In conditions close to real, the RLK and radar were tested for the S-500 Prometheus air defense system. Particular attention was paid to the tests of the system integration of C-500 radar systems and anti-aircraft missile-cannon complexes (ZRPK) “Pantsir-SM”: in the future they will have to work in conjunction, several sources in the Ministry of Defense told Izvestia. The timeframe for the development and manufacture of new weapons, declared in the state program for the development of armaments, is precisely maintained, which is very important for the country’s defense capability, said former head of the anti-aircraft missile forces Lieutenant-General Alexander Gorkov. “We knock down everything that moves” Designer Viktor Yeletsky – a new Russian development, one hundred percent striking planning bombs, cruise missiles and drones “The S-500 is a new generation of anti-aircraft missile systems that is capable of operating, among other things, within the framework of antimissile defense, for example, to fight ballistic units,” he explained to Izvestia. – The new system will greatly enhance the country’s air defense. Anatomy of S-500 The minimum set of equipment for the S-500 Prometheus will include a command and control center with an automatic control system (ACS), where operational information about the air situation in the area of responsibility of the air defense system flows. RLK is responsible for the long-range search and identification of ballistic and aerodynamic targets. Multifunctional radar “backlight” is able to detect aircraft, but its main task is to “capture” the target and bring it to the anti-aircraft missiles. The kit includes up to 12 trucks with launchers for anti-aircraft missiles. The S-500 system can be reinforced with a mobile antenna post and other special equipment. All components of the complex will be mounted on multi-axle high-passable chassis manufactured by BAZ or MZKT. The C-500 will fight intercontinental and medium-range missiles in the final or middle segment of the flight path. The complex will be able to destroy cruise missiles, airplanes, helicopters, conventional and high-altitude drones, as well as hypersonic shells flying at a speed of more than 6 thousand km / h The C-500 can destroy targets at a range of up to 600 km and an altitude of up to 100 km. Such characteristics will reliably provide cover for individual areas, major cities, industrial facilities and important strategic objectives. “Prometheus” will be able to “work” on low-orbit satellites. One Mach: anti-aircraft gunners will learn to shoot down hypersonic targets Unique target rockets can imitate future rockets The 500th will freely interact with S-300, S-350, S-400 and Pantsiry, as well as integrate into the overall defense system of large military units, industrial and political centers of the country. If necessary, the S-500 will be able to seriously strengthen the missile defense system of the Moscow industrial region, which is deployed in Central Russia. Double coverage Working in close conjunction, the C-500 and the Pantsir-SM will become a multi-defense system. “Powerful S-500 radars should be the first to detect targets,” military expert Anton Lavrov told Izvestia. – After that, the ACS will distribute the targets between the complexes, depending on their importance. “Prometheus” in such a bundle will be responsible for the far radius – destroy ballistic missiles and airplanes. “Pantsir” will be engaged primarily in unmanned aerial vehicles, which are actively used recently. Such tactics will allow not to overload the S-500 system with targets and to avoid the waste of expensive long-range anti-aircraft missiles. The photos of Pantsir-SM appeared at the end of 2017 – the complex was announced as a deep modernization of the Pantsir-C1 SPAAGM, but so far little is known about it. The new machine is designed to protect small-sized important military and government facilities, cover the units of the Ground Forces and, if necessary, strengthen the groupings of the country’s air defense forces. The Pantsir-SM consists of three main elements: a detection radar, a target tracking station and an armament complex comprising two 30-mm anti-aircraft guns and anti-aircraft missiles in transport and launch containers. The maximum boundary of the zone of destruction of targets by a rocket should be about 20 km in range and up to 15 km in height. The high mobility of the Pantsyr and the presence of the optoelectronic station ensure its secrecy from the enemy’s anti-radar missiles.
The radar system and multipurpose radar station that form part of the S-500 Prometheus aerial defense system have been tested and are ready for serial production, sources in the Russian Defense Ministry told Izvestia. The final stage of the radars’ testing was performed at the Aerospace Forces’ 185th Combat Training Center base in the Astrakhan province. Special attention was given to cooperation between the S-500 radar systems and the Pantsir-SM missile launcher systems, which are designed to work together. Military expert Anton Lavrov explained that the radars will “be responsible” for long-range threats, such as ballistic missiles and aircraft, whereas the Pantsir-SM operators will “focus” on unmanned aerial vehicles. The S-500 is also meant to function seamlessly alongside S-300, S-350 and S-400 systems. In March, Lieutenant-General Vladimir Lyaporov, head of the Zhukov Air and Space Defense Academy, said that the latest S-500 and S-350 surface-to-air missile systems will become part of Russia’s armament by 2020.
Turkey holds its largest annual defence show, but disputes over Russian-made weapons are overshadowing the event.
Turkey’s president said Tuesday that an F-35 project was bound to collapse without Turkey and that Ankara was being treated unfairly.
Team Trump is trying to pull Hungary back from its cozy relationship with Moscow and Beijing. But it comes at a cost, critics say.
On Apr. 26, Leonardo announced the signing of a contract valued at approximately 380 mln EUR (1.65 bn PLN) “that will significantly enhance the Polish Navy’s helicopter capability. Through its fully owned Polish company and main industrial presence in the country, PZL-Świdnik, Leonardo will supply four AW101s and a comprehensive integrated logistics and training package to the Polish Ministry of National Defence (MoD). PZL-Świdnik, acting as the prime contractor and responsible for the entire contract execution, was selected in a multi-stage process, meeting all the requirements of the Polish MoD, and will deliver and support the most capable maritime multirole helicopter available on the market today. The helicopter is already in service in some of the most important NATO nations among others. The Świdnik facility plays a significant role in the production of all the AW101s ordered worldwide,” says Leonardo’s press release. As many Polish media outlets recalled last week, in 2016, when Poland decided to scrap the planned purchase of 50 Airbus Helicopters EC725 Caracals, after offset negotiations failed, the Law and Justice (PiS) government that currently remains in power in Poland suggested that their predecessors, the Civic Platform (PO), was trying to procure the most expensive helicopter ever manufactured (literally, an argument as such was used). Now, the new government is procuring a helicopter platform that is even more expensive – the AW101 – with a caricature of an offset agreement entailed. And furthermore, the governing party is also fighting the Polish defense domain journalists reporting on the matter, trying to prove that the helicopter acquisition made last week is a major feat and they are making tough effort to present the procurement as a success. Not too long ago we have reported that the situation in the Polish Naval aviation is far from perfect. The Polish Navy currently operates W-3 WARM Anakonda helicopters for SAR purposes that are not sufficient to carry out the task in any weather conditions, performance-wise, along with two variants of Mi-14 Hazes (10 examples). Two variants of the Haze platform are used for ASW and SAR missions. The Mi-14 is slowly fading away, waiting for a replacement.
President Putin has now signed the Russian Internet Law, enabling the country to cut off the world wide web if required, centralizing Russia’s internet to control access and content. Russia and China are often seen as comparable as regards cybersecurity. Now, it seems, more so than ever.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a new measure that aims to expand government control over the Internet.
The Kremlin’s cyber army has become a formidable threat around the globe, with cyber attacks targeting not only states but also private companies. The cyberspace is still pretty much a free-for-all, with no mechanisms to hold states accountable for malicious attacks. However, the Kremlin’s contractors – private companies and individual hackers – will be the ones paying the price when a Russian cyber attack is unraveled. Here is what we know about the Kremlin’s cyber contractors, what drives them, and how they are uncovered.
Paul Goble Staunton, April 30 – Often statistics have to be analyzed to make a point. But sometimes they are so telling that no further explication is needed. So it is with seven statistics that have appeared in and about Russia over the last few days. They include the following:
- Of the millions of Soviet citizens who fought in World War II, only 74,000 remain alive in the Russian Federation (newsland.com/community/4765/content/v-rossii-ostalos-74-tys-veteranov-i-uchastnikov-velikoi-otechestvennoi/6732575).
- Russia now has a minimum of 230 people incarcerated who are recognized by rights groups and governments as political prisoners (m.gordonua.com/news/worldnews/chislo-politzaklyuchennyh-v-rossii-prevysilo-230-chelovek-doklad-926428.html).
- Since 1992, more than 22 million Russians have been convicted of crimes (newsland.com/community/129/content/v-period-s-1992-po-2019-godu-v-rossii-osuzhdeno-bolee-22-000-000-chelovek/6732463).
- Only three percent of Russians are entrepreneurs, a far lower share than in most other countries (thebell.io/v-rossii-3-predprinimatelej-eto-namnogo-menshe-chem-v-mire/).
- Seven thousand Russian dollar millionaires have emigrated over the last several years (lenta.ru/news/2019/04/30/billionaires/).
- Only half of Russians plan to mark May Day even though 80 percent commemorated Easter in one way or another (politikus.ru/v-rossii/118800-vciom-lish-polovina-rossiyan-sobirayutsya-otmechat-1-maya.html).
- Only 4.3 million Russians attended religious services on Easter, approximately three percent of the country’s population (kommersant.ru/doc/3959973).
The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline construction contractors have begun pipe-laying operations in Russia’s territorial waters, RBC news agency reports with reference to a statement of Nord Stream 2 AG. According to the press release, the Solitaire, a ship belonging to the Swiss company Allseas, is responsible for the operations in Russian territorial waters. The ship has as many as 420 active crew members, and it will carry out pipe-laying operations 24/7. The 12 meter pipes, weighing in at 24 tons, will be shipped in from the nearest logistics center in Kotka, Finland. Around 100 km of gas pipeline will be laid in Russian waters. The operator expects the work to be completed within a month. The operator company noted that similar pipe-laying operations are also underway on the German coast and in Switzerland’s exclusive economic zone. More than 1,100 km of gas pipeline has already been laid in the territorial waters of Finland, Sweden and Germany. The Nord Stream 2 project is the proposed second gas pipeline from Russia to Germany along the bottom of the Baltic Sea. With a designed capacity of 55 billion cubic meters per year, the pipeline will span over 1,200 km. The operating company, Nord Stream 2 AG, is owned entirely by the Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom. Five European companies are also involved in the project: the Austrian company OMV, French Engie, British-Dutch Shell and the German companies Wintershall and Uniper. A third of the pipeline has already been laid, and the operator hopes to complete it by the end of 2019. The US has opposed the project. Washington believes that it will give Russia “another instrument of political pressure”. US President Donald Trump promised to prevent the flow of “pipeline dollars” to Russia.
Throughout history, animals and birds have been accused of spying – just like the whale found near Norway’s coast
Former Deputy State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus, Andrei Vtyurin, was detained for “activities in the interests of the FSB and the Federal Protection Service [FSO] of Russia.” The official had long been close to the president’s family. Former Deputy State Secretary of the Security Council of Belarus, Andrei Vtyurin, was detained for “activities in the interests of the FSB and the Federal Protection Service [FSO] of Russia.” “Andrei Vtyurin was detained for repeated and numerous information leaks to the Russian FSB and FSO. He is not a spy in the usual sense – it’s about connections he ‘inherited’ from the past,” Rosbalt reported citing a source in a Belarusian security agency. The source explains that Vtyurin was born in Russia, where he had also studied, worked, and made friends with colleagues from Russian special services. “In a situation when there is a major conflict ongoing between Moscow and Minsk, such behavior is unacceptable for someone from Lukashenko’s inner circle. So he was removed,” the interlocutor told the publication. Another source said that for the last 25 years, Vtyurin had been in Lukashenko’s closest circle, including that of the leader’s family, “to the point that the president’s younger son, Kolya, was literally raised by his father’s guard.” On May 1, reports came stating that Lukashenko had issued a decree of April 24 to dismiss Vtyurin from the post of Under-Secretary of the Security Council of the Republic for “committing acts that discredit a civil servant.” The day before, it was reported that the security forces had detained the official for a large-scale bribe. It should be noted that Belarusian journalists regularly included Vtyurin in the ratings of the country’s most influential persons. Before taking up post in the Security Council in 2014, he had for seven years headed the Secret Service of the Belarus President, which he joined in 1995, a year after the start of Lukashenko’s presidency.
Coups and even more reported coup plots are typically murky affairs with one group suggesting someone is planning a real coup, a second that the regime itself is behind the reports in order to justify further repression, and still a third saying a foreign power is involved to overthrow the regime or remind that regime how much it needs that foreign power. All three versions are now on offer in the case of some developments in Belarus, and there are likely to be more such offerings in the coming days especially because the reports of a coup plot in Minsk have surfaced at exactly the same time that Vladimir Putin has unexpectedly replaced his ambassador to Belarus. It is entirely possible that the real story will never be known – or at least never be accepted by everyone given all the equities involved. But it is worth tracing what is known so far to provide something of a baseline for assessing what may be said later or for analyzing what is going on in Belarus more generally. A week ago, Belarusian and Russian media report, Andrey Vtyurin, the deputy head of Belarus’ Security Council, was arrested by the Belarusian KGB on suspicion of taking bribes. He has been close to Lukashenka for a long time, having been head of the Belarusian president’s personal guard between 2007 and 2014. Vtyurin’s arrest was not announced by the authorities but instead reported to the media by his friends. That has led to speculation that his arrest was related to the exposure of a conspiracy at the top of the Belarusian military and security services to topple Lukashenka or at least prevent him from being reelected. According to some versions of the story, the plotters were connected with Moscow; according to others, they were acting on behalf of one of Lukashenka’s own children; and according to still others, the whole plot was dreamed up by Lukashenka to justify a further crackdown. (On this, see the Trykatazh Telegram channel report.) Vladimir Putin’s replacement of ambassadors in Minsk has only deepened the mystery, given that Russian outlets who supported Mikhail Babich’s activist approach in Minsk are now working overtime to deny any Russian involvement, dismiss the possibilities of a domestic coup, and promote the version that Lukashenka came up with the idea for his own reasons. Yury Baranchik of the Rex news agency is one of their number. He argues that there is no one near the top of the Belarusian security services capable of organizing a coup, that Lukashenka’s children can’t do so either because no one would recognize them, and that most likely Lukashenka dreamed the whole thing up. In his words, “the version about an attempted coup is an effort by official Minsk on the basis of nothing to seriously tighten the screws on the domestic political space given the serious deterioration of the social-economic situation in the country. Lukashenka needed an occasion and he found one.” Needless to say, Baranchik, a big supporter of Babich, doesn’t consider the possibility that Moscow might be involved. But that possibility can’t be dismissed. If in fact Lukashenka found evidence that the Russian embassy was behind this plot or associated with it in any way, that could explain why Putin moved Babich so quickly after protecting him so long. If the Belarusian president could reasonably threaten Putin with exposure of a Russian-orchestrated plot against him, Putin might have sacked Babich so as to deflect blame onto his ambassador and thus suggest to Lukashenka that Moscow was his protector, not his enemy and keep hope alive for a rapprochement between Moscow and Minsk. Again, none of this is known or perhaps can ever be known. But decisions are taken and policies advanced not on the basis of what is true but on the basis of what leaders and their advisors believe. With these multiple versions floating around, the situations in both Moscow and Minsk and in their relations with each other are likely to become even more unpredictable.
Belarus’s state-run oil-transport firm Belneftekhim says “clean” Russian oil shipments have begun to arrive in Belarus via the Druzhba pipeline after a weeklong shutdown caused by the contamination…
The pumping of Russian oil through the territory of Belarus is expected to be resumed after noon on May 2, Andrei Verigo, first deputy general director and chief engineer at Gomeltransneft Druzhba, said.
Belneftekhim says that the matter of compensation for the losses it suffered from the delivery of low-quality Urals crude to Belarus has yet to be settled and that the country intends to demand an appropriate sum from the Russian side.
Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine’s state border remains the only “common” thing with Russia following the annexation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas. He stressed that the ban on the exports of petroleum products, the opening of passport offices for fast-track naturalization of residents of the occupied territories, and the holding of Ukrainians in captivity do not bring the settlement of relations between the two countries any closer. Ukrainian President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky has said Ukraine’s state border remains the only “common” thing with Russia following the annexation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas. “I’ve long been thinking about that ‘much in common’ thing between Ukraine and Russia. The reality is that today, after the annexation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas, we have only one thing left that is ‘common’ – that’s the state border. Some 2,295 kilometers and 400 meters of ‘common.’ And Russia should return control over every millimeter on the Ukrainian side. Only then would we be able to continue the search for our ‘common’,” he wrote on Facebook, commenting on the statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Read alsoZelensky makes up mind on administration head pick, aide says He stressed that the ban on the exports of petroleum products, the opening of passport offices for fast-track naturalization of residents of the occupied territories, and the holding of Ukrainians in captivity do not bring the settlement of relations between the two countries any closer. “And such relations cannot be called ‘fraternal’,” Zelensky said. As UNIAN reported earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke in favor of “common citizenship” for citizens of the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Speaking with journalists, Putin said common citizenship would make both nations stronger and more successful. “If we issue passports to Ukrainians in Russia, we will inevitably achieve the expected result,” he said. After the conversation, he left the journalists, saying in Ukrainian: “Goodbye.”
The state border has remained one thing in common between Ukraine and Russia after the annexation of Crimea and the aggression in Donbas. — Ukrinform.
Ukraine’s President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky has shared his thoughts on the current state of Ukrainian-Russian relations. Ukraine’s President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky has shared his thoughts on the current state of Ukrainian-Russian relations. “I reflected on Ukraine and Russia ‘having much in common.’ Today’s reality is that after the annexation of Crimea and aggression in Donbas, there is only one thing that has left ‘in common’ – this is the state border. Some 2,295 kilometers and 400 meters [are] ‘in common.’ And Russia should return control over every millimeter from the Ukrainian side. Only then we can continue looking for ‘the common,'” he wrote on Facebook on Thursday. Zelensky said Russia’s ban on fuel shipments to Ukraine, the opening of centers to issue Russian passports to residents of Russia-occupied areas of Ukraine and the detention of Ukrainians in prisons have not improved affairs between the two countries “one iota.” “This has nothing in common with brotherly relations,” he said. Zelensky also commented on the announced airing of the show Magiya (“Magic”) on Russia’s NTV television channel, with him appearing as the host. The program was filmed in 2011. “I want to remind you that it was participation in the TV show that made me popular in Ukraine and, eventually, helped me become the elected president of Ukraine. Broadcasting the program, which was filmed many years ago, in my opinion, is strange. I have no ambitions to make a political career in Russia,” he said. Zelensky added that Russian politicians had mastered a new genre for themselves – communication with him in a public space, and that pleases him. “The Internet, as we know, forgets nothing. This discussion will be noted by millions of people around the world. Therefore, I invite you to the world of openness and publicity,” he said.
02.05.19 15:26 – State border remains one common thing between Ukraine and Russia after Crimea, Donbas, – Zelenskyi President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskyi admitted state border has remained one thing in common between Ukraine and Russia after the annexation of Crimea and the aggression in Donbas. View news.
Even though the Kremlin wanted Petro Poroshenko to suffer in the recent elections, it did not want an outsider to win – and that is exactly what happened, a development that threatens Vladimir Putin’s view of how power should be organized and thus dooms the two Vladimirs, Zelenskyi and Putin, to be personal enemies, Vitaly Portnikov says. “The victory of a candidate who looks so non-systemic over a representative of the traditional political elite is a blow to the entire post-Soviet system in which some politicians replace others even after the victory of uprisings and revolutions,” the Ukrainian analyst says. Many Ukrainians were surprised when Volodymyr Zelenskyi after his victory told the residents of the post-Soviet states that they should see in his win the fact that “everything is possible.” For Ukrainians, unlike for Russians and Belarusians, power has been changing hands via elections since 1991. “But for Putin,” Portnikov says, “there was nothing strange in this because he understands perfectly well what Zelenskyi wanted to say. He understands that the winner in the presidential elections in Ukraine had in mind not the change of power but the victory of a candidate not associated with the political elite of the country.” According to the Ukrainian commentator, “as long as Zelenskyi was only fighting for the post of president, Putin could not take note of this: he was too concentrated on taking revenge against Poroshenko. But then Zelenskyi won – and he immediately became a threat” to Putin and his system. The Kremlin leader has no reason to want to see Zelenskyi succeed because such a success “in the eyes of Russians would mean the victory of the extra-systemic over the systemic; and for Russia this is more frightening than any Maidan. It would mean that the Kremlin by its struggle against Poroshenko had dug its own grave.” Consequently, Putin is going to engage in one provocation after another: the passport offer “is only the beginning. And Zelenskyi will respond as an extra-systemic revolutionary by a declaration of war against the Putin regime.” Unlike Poroshenko, he views Putin not as the leader of a foreign country but as the leader of an alien power. That makes the incoming Ukrainian leader “far more dangerous for Putin than Poroshenko has been.” But at the same time, “Putin is a greater danger for Zelenskyi than he was for Poroshenko.” To survive, Zelenskyi will have to appeal to “the so-called ‘Russian-speaking’ electorate.” That electorate, Portnikov continues, consists of three parts: “those who speak Russian but accept Ukrainian values,” “those who want a rapprochement with Putin and consider Ukraine part of ‘the Russian world,” and those who view Ukraine “as simply a democratic Bryansk oblast [of Russia].” The latter may support Zelenskyi, but it isn’t numerous enough to be his political base, Portnikov argues. The incoming Ukrainian president will need to recognize that in his battle with Putin, he will need the support of “the pro-Ukrainian electorate” who voted for his opponent in the elections. Zelenskyi, the Ukrainian commentator says, “can either win together with those who were his opponents or collapse, if he continues to appeal to those whom he considers his allies. That is the logic of his personal war with the Kremlin,” a war that is not just political but personal and far more dangerous as a result.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to fast-track passports and citizenship for people in Ukraine and Soviet-era deportees.
02.05.19 10:44 – Putin signed decree on expanding list of Ukrainians eligible for fast-tracked Russian passports Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree expanding the list of Ukrainians and citizens of some other countries eligible for fast-tracked Russian passports. View news.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree regarding the simplified procedure for granting Russian citizenship and passports for migrants from the Crimea and the Donbas. According to the document published on the official Kremlin website, the simplified procedure will apply to Ukrainian citizens as well as their children, spouses and parents, and stateless persons who were born and permanently resided in the Crimea and Sevastopol, but left these territories before March 18, 2014. The simplified procedure will also apply to those Ukrainian citizens who have a temporary residence permit in the Russian Federation, a refugee certificate, or a certificate of a resettlement program to Russia, and persons who lived in the territory of certain districts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions as of April 7 and April 27, 2014, respectively. Earlier, the Press Secretary for the Russian President, Dmitry Peskov, said that the simplified procedure for residents of the Donbas to obtain Russian passports was made “to provide them with valid documents.” Prior to this, Putin proposed to introduce common citizenship for Ukraine and the Russian Federation. In the spring of 2014, Russia annexed the Crimea, and has been involved in the war in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, continuing the armed aggression against Ukraine.
Russian passports mass distribution starts in occupied eastern Ukraine as President Vladimir Putin has signed on April 24, 2019 a decree, simplifying the procedure to grant Russian citizenship to Ukrainians living in Russian-occupied Donbas – Luhansk and Donetsk oblast of eastern Ukraine.
The Russian occupation command is making efforts to speed up the receipt of Russian passports by the personnel of the units of the first (Donetsk) and second (Luhansk) army corps of the Russian Armed Forces. — Ukrinform.
Process of filing of applications for Russian citizenship by Donbas people to start on May 3
Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nation Volodymyr Yelchenko says Ukraine has notified the ambassadors of the UN member states and UN Secretary-General António Guterres of Russia’s new phase of hybrid aggression against Ukraine, that is, the start of naturalization of Ukrainian nationals. On May 1, Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying a procedure for granting Russian citizenship to certain categories of Ukrainian citizens.
Moscow’s decision to simplify the procedure for issuing Russian passports to residents of the occupied territories of Donbas is an attempt of quiet annexation. — Ukrinform.
The decision of President Vladimir Putin to simplify the procedure for issuing Russian passports to Ukrainians living in Donbas impedes the resolution of the conflict in the region. — Ukrinform.
The European Union views the decision of the Kremlin to issue Russian passports to the residents of occupied Donbas as an attempt to destabilize Ukraine and will closely monitor the situation around the issuance of Russian passports to Ukrainians. — Ukrinform.
The Kremlin’s decision to simplify the procedure for granting Russian citizenship to Ukrainians living in Donbas is aimed at legitimizing Russia’s military presence and creating a legal basis for the open use of the Russian armed forces against Ukraine. — Ukrinform.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s latest decree which broadens the categories of Ukrainian …
On April 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree—with immediate effect—simplifying the procedure for granting Russia’s citizenship to residents of “certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk provinces” (Kremlin.ru, April 24), i.e., the Russian-occupied territory in Ukraine’s Donbas. Those residents are, by legal definition (since 1991), citizens of Ukraine on Ukraine’s territory; but Putin’s decree intends to supplant their Ukrainian citizenship. This decree is the latest in the series of Russia’s legislative and economic moves to wrest these areas from Ukraine in real terms and incorporate them de facto—but not yet officially—into Russia. This is Russia’s third “passportization” project, after those in the Russian-occupied territories of Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) and Moldova (Transnistria). On May 1, Putin followed up with a similar decree, covering citizens of Ukraine who formerly resided in those same Donetsk and Luhansk areas, as well as in Crimea, but moved to Russia since 2014 and are currently residing there. They, too, are made eligible for receiving Russia’s citizenship through the simplified procedure (Kremlin.ru, May 1). The cut-off dates for eligibility are April 2014 for former residents of the Donetsk-Luhansk areas, and March 2014 for former residents of Crimea (those dates mark the start of military operations in Donetsk-Luhansk and the Russian annexation of Crimea, respectively).
Vladimir Putin’s decision to offer Russian citizenship to those living in Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine and possibly others as well may be intended not only to extend Russian power over that country further but also to help solve Russia’s demographic collapse, according to a Russian blogger who writes under the screen name “Ded Moroz” [Grandfather Frost]. He suggests that the extremely negative demographic figures of recent months mean that “the massive distribution of passports may be the only way to save [Russia] from withering away altogether” (cont.ws/@Ded-Moroz/1310165reposted at newizv.ru). If Russian government claims that 86 percent of the population in Russian-occupied portions of the Donbas are correct, this policy would immediately produce some two million new Russian citizens and be a boost to the country’s total population. Many analysts had concluded that the declining number of women in the prime child-bearing ages and declining birthrates present Russia with an almost intractable problem especially given that the number of immigrants has fallen sharply, Grandfather Frost says. But it turns out that this all can be solved not just by falsification of demographic data but by “the stroke of a pen.” That falsification is going on, the blogger suggests, is indicated by the increasing delays with which RosStat releases population figures and by the way state-controlled media bury them in their reports and publications. But now there are going to be hundreds of thousands of new Russians, produced instantly by Putin’s decision. The question, however, is how these are going to be counted – and when the government will release the numbers. When Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea, Moscow more or less immediately included the population there within that of the Russian Federation to improve its demographic situation. Will it do the same with the Donbas? Or will some other calculation intervene? Grandfather Frost provides no guidance on that.
02.05.19 11:14 – UN International Court in Hague will broadcast Ukraine’s dispute against Russia UN International Criminal Court in Hague will show online the proceedings in the Ukraine v. Russia dispute concerning coastal state rights in the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Kerch Strait. Broadcasting will be conducted on the website of arbitration. View news.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in Berlin to discuss Ukraine, among other issues, on May 7. The two will also talk Russia, China, Syria, and the Western Balkans.
Ukraine is preparing an appeal to the Council of Europe and to the member countries of the organization because of the searches of Russian security forces in the houses of Crimean Tatars. — Ukrinform.
Ukrainian Navy Commander Ihor Voronchenko and Turkish Navy Commander Adnan Ozbal have discussed bilateral military cooperation as part of the ongoing International Defense Industry Fair IDEF 2019 in Istanbul, the press service of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has reported. — Ukrinform.
02.05.19 10:25 – 18 attacks against JFO positions yesterday: two Ukrainian soldiers wounded, five terrorists destroyed May 1, the Russian occupying forces attacked JFO positions 18 times, six times using Minsk-proscribed weapons. View news.
Russia’s hybrid military forces on May 1 mounted 18 attacks on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas, with two Ukrainian soldiers reported as wounded in action. Five invaders were killed and another two were wounded on Wednesday, intelligence reports say.
Last week I got acquainted with the specialists-instructors from KB “Luch” who taught our Guards to use the latest complexes of “Stugna”. I learned from them and about what our complexes differ from the American “Jevelin”, and about TTH, and about how “Stugna” allows to drive for a nose Russian means of counteraction “Shtora-1” – in short, they gave me a bunch of interesting information . What I can put into the general, I tell below in his videobloki, but before that I would like to say a couple of words about the team KB “Luch”. These are young professionals, professionals, real patriots who sincerely care for our military. And every new video in which their rocket bites the Russian invader – it is viewed by them to the holes, can you believe me!
The Russian military is testing the Tirada-2 orbital jamming system in the Donbas. The presence of this modern electronic warfare system in eastern Ukraine was announced on 16 March 2019 in a report by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM). At the time, the system had not yet been officially adopted into Russia’s armament. According to volunteers from the international investigation community InformNapalm, this system’s presence in the Donbas indicates not only that Russia is testing its latest electronic warfare systems in combat conditions against the Ukrainian army, but also that it is attempting to interfere with the signal reception of the US’s RQ-4B Global Hawk surveillance drone that periodically performs monitoring flights along the contact line. On 3 April 2019, the Twitter account of the Ukrainian Mission to the OSCE published a photograph of an R-330Zh “Zhitel” automatic jamming system and a Tirada-2 system that were spotted by an SMM drone near the Yuzhna-Lomuvatka settlement in the Luhansk province. The investigators note that there has been a permanent presence of Russian electronic warfare systems in this territory since 2017. Until now, the exact appearance of the Tirada-2 was not known, although Russia did present a model Tirada-2S at the Max-2013 international exhibition. The SMM drone’s photograph has helped to narrow down the search for real photographs of this secret Russian system. Another picture of the system at a testing ground in Russia was leaked online in 2018 due to negligence on the part of the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service. InformNapalm volunteers compered the photograph from the SMM’s report to the leaked photo and concluded that it is indeed a Tirada-2 system, which is officially not yet being used by the Russian Defense Ministry. On the evening of 18 April, the OSCE SMM team lost a long-range drone that was meant to be monitoring the Ukraine-controlled and separatist-controlled territories on either side of the demarcation line in the Donbas. The headquarters of Ukraine’s Joint Forces Operation later reported that Russia’s use of modern electronic warfare systems was responsible for the loss of the OSCE drone.
Observers have repeatedly reported the discovery of electronic warfare systems © OSCE / Facebook Observers of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) recorded Russian state-of-the-art weapons systems in the area of the occupied South Lomovatka village of the Luhansk region. This was reported on Wednesday, April 3, on the page of the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to international organizations in Vienna on Twitter. “The Russian newest weapons systems – the automated R-330Z Resident jamming station and the Tirada-2 electronic warfare complex are fixed by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission near the settlement of Yuzhnaya Lomovatka, in the part of Donbas occupied by Russia,” the report said. 123 Earlier, on March 30, in the press center of the headquarters of the operation of the United Forces, the destruction of the enemy Osa-AKM anti-aircraft missile system and the R-330Zh Zhitel radio-electronic warfare station were reported in the Donbas. See also: The main condition for ending the war in Donbas was called at the United States Mission to the OSCE Recall, on March 7, representatives of the Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk agreed on the next “spring truce” from midnight on March 8 – the 19th truce since the beginning of the war in the Donbas. Like the previous truces, it was violated by the militants of the Russian occupation forces on the very first day. Read more about the prospects for resolving the situation in the article by Yury Butusov “War in the Donbas: How to force Putin to peace?” in the weekly “Mirror of the Week. Ukraine”.
R-330Zh Zhitel The Russian R-330Zh Zhitel automated jamming communication station is designed for the automated detection, beaming and analysis of signals from sources of radio emission in the frequency range of 100-2000 MHz, as well as for jamming of portable and mobile ground radio stations (user terminals) of INMARSAT and IRIDIUM satellite communication systems, of the navigation equipment running on the NAVSTAR (GPS) satellite radio navigation system and of GSM-900/1800 base stations. It has not been supplied to Ukraine. Several times it was recorded in the investigations of InformNapalm ( 1 , 2 , 3 ). Note that these two EW systems jam not only satellite communications, but also short wave and ultra-short wave radio frequencies, as well as cellular and trunked radio communications. Russians are trying to jam American UAV An American RQ-4B Global Hawk unmanned surveillance aircraft often flies above the contact line. It is equipped with a Hughes Integrated Surveillance & Reconnaissance (HISAR) sensor system. This is a lower-cost derivative of the ASARS-2 system developed by Hughes and currently supported by Raytheon for the Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady spyplane. This system is also used on the RCA-7B aircraft deployed by the US Army and is sold on the international market. The system has a SAR/MTI radar, as well as optical and infrared sensors. All three subsystems can work simultaneously, and their data is processed by a single processor. Digital data can be transmitted to the ground in real time within the line of sight or through a satellite channel at a speed up to 50 Mbps. InformNapalm OSINT analysts believe that the Russians, using the newest EW stations spotted by the OSCE Mission on March 16 in the occupied territory, are trying to shut down the communication channel between the US UAV and the satellite. Otherwise, they would have no need to bring the newest powerful EW systems to the Donbas. We also want to remind you that in July 2018, the OSCE SMM report officially mentioned four newest types of Russian electronic warfare systems spotted in the occupied territory for the first time during the entire period of hostilities in the Donbas, but for some reason this information had not been made public for 14 days.
Among the greatest achievements, Nayev noted forcing the enemy to reduce fire intensity, which led to a decrease in the number of casualties among Ukrainian troops; a decrease in the crime level across the region; reconstruction of bridges; assistance in building roads and hospitals; and creation of proper living conditions for civilians. Commander of Ukraine’s Joint Forces Serhiy Nayev has named major achievements of the Operation in Donbas 12 months since its start.
Joint Forces Operation (JFO) Commander Lt. General Serhiy Nayev has said Ukrainian troops have returned about 24 sq km of Russia–occupied territory along with three villages (Khutir Vilny, Pivdenne and Shumy) to Ukrainian control since the start of JFO operations in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, a year ago, the JFO’s press center has said.
Joint Forces Commander stated that Ukraine returned over 24 km2 of territory during the operation in Donbas
The State Emergency Service (SES) of Ukraine has announced that specialists of SES bomb squads have destroyed almost 14,500 explosive items across the country since January 1, 2019. In particular, 106 aerial bombs have been neutralized.
02.05.19 16:47 – More than 130 American paratroopers arrive to drill Ukrainian soldiers. PHOTOS Over the next 9 months, the Ukrainian military will be trained in accordance with NATO standards by the troops of the US assault division, who arrived to replace the American guards. View news.
During the first day of the IDEF’19 International Defense Industry Fair held in Istanbul, Turkey, Ukraine’s state-owned Spetstechnoexport initialed a contract with the Turkish state corporation “Makina ve Kimya Endüstrisi Kurumu” (“MKEK”) for the supply of 120 mm anti-tank laser-guided missiles “Konus”, developed and produced by State Kyiv Design Bureau “Luch”. The start of production of an export batch of missiles is scheduled for the coming weeks.
Ukraine is planning to import from Turkey cooled thermal imagers for installation on guided anti-tank weapon systems, as well as to receive the next batches of secured UHF radio communications means. The Turkish company has been the main supplier of UHF radio communication means for the Armed Forces of Ukraine since 2017. Ukraine is planning to import from Turkey cooled thermal imagers for installation on guided anti-tank weapon systems, as well as to receive the next batches of secured UHF radio communications means. During the second day of the IDEF’19 International Defense Industry Fair held in Istanbul, the SE SFTE SpetsTechnoExport, that is a part of the State Concern Ukroboronprom, has signed a series of contracts with the Turkish company Aselsan to import military products from Turkey for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other state security forces, according to the press service of SpetsTechnoExport. Mr. Vladyslav Belbas, Director of SpetsTechnoExport, noted that the signed documents are the next stage in the development of strategic relations with Aselsan. The Turkish company has been the main supplier of UHF radio communication means for the Armed Forces of Ukraine since 2017, and SpetsTechnoExport carries out a number of export supplies of Ukrainian-made military products for Aselsan. Read alsoUkraine to supply anti-tank guided missiles to Turkey Also, in 2018, for the first time in Ukraine, SpetsTechnoExport concluded the offset contract with foreign company Aselsan, which provides a number of compensations by the purchase of Turkish military communications means. Thus, in addition to the counterpart trade, according to which Aselsan purchases products and services of Ukrainian defense industry, the Turkish side provide to Ukraine the transfer of technology of radio encryption, battlefield management system and creates a service center in Ukraine for servicing military radio communication systems.
Ukraine’s company SpetsTechnoExport and Turkey’s company Aselsan have signed agreements on the purchase of military equipment for the needs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, according to the website of Ukroboronprom. — Ukrinform.
Military and technical cooperation between Ukraine and Turkey has gained momentum during the past three years. Both countries clearly understand where their interests converge and where the synergies for cooperation can be conjoined. This cooperation has already brought results in areas like radio communications, thermal imaging technologies, and optical devices for missile and armored vehicle applications.
Ukraine’s State Concern “Ukroboronprom”, the association of multi-product defense enterprises, will participate in the ammunition program of Azerbaijan, in particular, in the production of certain components for field artillery ammunition. — Ukrinform.
02.05.19 14:17 – Ukraine to supply Azerbaijan field artillery ammunition with components During the first day of the IDEF’19 International Defense Industry Fair held in Istanbul, Turkey, Ukroboronprom Group of Companies General Director Pavlo Bukin met with the First Deputy Minister of Defense Industry of the Republic of Azerbaijan… View news.
In 2015, Antonov signed an agreement with Taqnia Aeronautics for the development and production of the An-132 aircraft, which also included the construction of a plant in the territory of Saudi Arabia. However, it has now become known that Saudi Arabia has changed the partner in the program – this was reported by the president of “Antonov” Alexander Donets in an interview with the UNIAN agency. – We presented the program to the leadership of Saudi Arabia, demonstrated the prospects for the construction of the plant. A place was allocated for it. KACST (King Abdulaziz City Science and Technology) fulfilled its obligations under the first contract – paid for work on the construction of a demonstration aircraft. In turn, “Antonov” built the AN-132D and began its test. Saudi company Taqnia Aeronautics has become our partner for the promotion of An-132 in the market. To assess the promising nature of the project, they turned to an authoritative Spanish company that fulfilled its feasibility study. A positive result has been obtained. However, for reasons not related to the “Antonov” state, a change of partner in the program occurred in Saudi Arabia, and the process has stopped. – What did they call the reasons for the suspension? – They also had a military customer who decided that he needed a slightly different car. In general, the process of negotiating with the customer is always very complicated. However, I can say that Antonov did not freeze the AN-132 project. We are looking for both the customer and the partner. Recently showed An-132D in India. The airplane made a good impression. Preferably because it is based on AN-32, which is well-proven in the operation of Indian Air Force. Only the new model is more modern, with a fully digital cabin, equipped with imported engines.
Antonov will extend the service life of nine planes The command of the Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine concluded an agreement with the State Enterprise “Antonov” worth 1.6 mln. to extend the service life of nine military aircraft An-24, An-26, An-30. The contract provides for the extension of the service life for one year of the following aircraft: An-24B, factory number 87304706 An-24B, factory number 97305306 An-26, factory number 8206 An-26, factory number 5406 An-26, factory number 7509 An-26, factory number 11607 An-26, factory number 10209 An-26sh, factory number 5608 An-30, factory number 0609 Procurement of services was conducted by negotiation procedure with one supplier in the absence of an alternative. The cost of work on one aircraft is 180 224 UAH. Recall that the command of the Armed Forces sub-unit also concluded an agreement to extend the service life of three military aircraft IL-76MD.
As part of the reform of the Ukroboronprom state concern, consultations with state and private enterprises regarding future activities and development concept are scheduled for May, according to Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) Serhiy Kryvonos. — Ukrinform.
A Ukrainian lawmaker was prevented from entering Armenia for several hours after landing at Yerevan airport due to what appeared to be Russian interference.
Opposition Platform – For Life will not stop interaction with Moscow
Special forces units have been deployed across the city to ensure law and order on remembrance day.
02.05.19 12:17 – Everything is calm: about 200 people attend peaceful rallies in Odesa. PHOTOS There have been no bomb threats, rallies on Kulykove Pole in Odesa marking the fifth anniversary of tragic events there had been peaceful. View photo news.
The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine in its report published Thursday, May 2, on the anniversary of tragic events in Odesa where six people died in street clashes, says that five years on, “there has still not been any accountability for the killings of six and violent deaths of 42 individuals. Some of the criminal proceedings launched after the tragic events have stalled at the pre-trial investigation stage, while others did at the trial stage. This suggests a lack of genuine interest from the authorities to ensure justice for victims and accountability for perpetrators.” According to the police and General Prosecutor’s Office, the main impediments to investigations are difficulties in identifying all individuals involved in the clashes.
The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has recommended that the Russian authorities ensure the extradition for all absconded suspects in criminal cases related to the May 2 violence in Odesa. The mission also recommended considering providing international legal assistance in investigations conducted by Ukrainian authorities.
Infrastructure Minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Omelyan has said that a new airport that will be built in the village of Solone, Dnipropetrovsk region, is expected to handle 2-3 million passengers per year. — Ukrinform.
New safe confinement over the power unit No. 4 of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant will be put into service this autumn. — Ukrinform.
The team of President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky will not name new ministers, a prosecutor general or a head of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine before the new president takes office. The team believe “there must be a vetting done not only by the special services, but also by the public.” The team of President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky will not name new ministers, a prosecutor general or a head of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine before the new president takes office. “As soon as the team enter the presidential administration, they will have access to certain information,” Zelensky’s associate, creative officer of his campaign headquarters Yuriy Kostyuk said in an interview with the Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrayinska Pravda. He said the president-elect would not name the above-mentioned positions until after his inauguration. “We cannot name a [future] SBU head or, for example, a prosecutor general because one thing is to name that person, and another thing is to appoint one. We do not have the resources needed to fully vet people the way this should be done – to check if they have relatives in Russia, to see their background, their actual biography,” Kostyuk said. According to him, Zelensky’s team believe “there must be a vetting done not only by the special services, but also by the public.” “Today, civil activists enjoy a high level of public trust and find skeletons in closets better than anyone. Therefore, only once such full vetting has been completed, can these people be named,” Kostyuk said.
02.05.19 13:07 – Zelenskyi not to present ministers, candidates for main posts before inauguration President-elect of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky will not present his team, particularly, the candidates for the main posts until the inauguration. View news.
The ongoing confrontation between Ukraine and Russia puts heavy pressure on incoming President-Elect Volodymyr Zelensky to take new steps to readjust Ukrainian military capabilities. This is particularly true given Russia’s modus operandi within the so-called non-linear or “hybrid” approach, where Moscow has developed much greater expertise and capabilities than Kyiv. In this regard, it is worthwhile to look at some of the most recent comments from Zelensky and his team regarding how the new Ukrainian presidential administration is planning to deal with issues related to national security. On April 18, three days before the second round of elections, candidate Zelensky presented his team of experts, among whom Colonel (ret.) Ivan Aparshyn was identified as a defense and security advisor. Zelensky noted that Aparshyn had been recommended to him by Anatoliy Hrytsenko, a former Ukrainian minister of defense (2005–2007), who also ran in the first round of the 2019 presidential elections (Ukrainenews.agency, April 19). During the campaign, on February 2, Hrytsenko stated that if he won, he would name Aparshyn as the new head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) (Grytsenko.com.ua, February 5). Related: Inauguration of President Zelensky to take place with surprises Following Zelensky’s overwhelming victory at the polls, Aparshyn gave a lengthy interview, on April 23, in which he offered a number of insights into the incoming administration’s defense thinking—although some of his comments were somewhat inconclusive and requiring further explanation. Quite naturally, Aparshyn’s comments strongly hit on concerns over corruption in the defense sector. In the middle of the presidential election campaign, revelations emerged about massive corruption and potential illegal activity involving the Ukrainian military-industrial complex (see EDM, February 28, April 15), which Zelensky used to attack incumbent President Petro Poroshenko. However, the following ideas and takeaways from Aparshyn’s interview should also be highlighted (Telekanal ZIK, April 23): First, Aparshyn’s words implicitly signified ambiguity toward Ukraine’s future in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Although he rhetorically expressed full commitment to the idea of integration with the North Atlantic Alliance (as well as the desire for Ukraine’s Armed Forces to seek technical convergence with NATO standards), some of his statements were nonetheless controversial. On the one hand, he expressed excessively high hopes that only NATO could render necessary support to Kyiv in dealing with Russia (including non-military support by various diplomatic means); but on the other hand, he suggested that Alliance bases/facilities “might never appear on the territory of Ukraine.” This ambiguity suggests either that Zelensky’s team still has no concrete strategy for dealing with NATO as such, or that the new authorities might be tempted to rely on a “multi-vector foreign policy” formula (famously developed by former president Leonid Kuchma) as a means to avoid exacerbating the confrontation with Russia. Second, Zelensky’s top defense advisor spoke about the need to more effectively apply post-2014 experience to the Armed Forces. Specifically, he stated that the Ukrainian Army should consist of 200,000 (maximum) highly trained professional soldiers, along with an active reserve that would give the ability to increase this number to 1,000,000 within just 24 hours. Interestingly, this idea echoes similar proposals put forth by Hrytsenko in 2005. At that time, Hrytsenko additionally recommended creating special “rapid deployment forces” (around 29,000 soldiers and officers, in total) that could be put into action within several hours (maximum several days) in case of an outbreak of hostilities (Censor.net.ua, February 5, 2019). Importantly, last month, Aparshyn also highlighted the importance of “territorial defense units”—an element that (if effectively used) could have played a decisive role in April 2014, after Moscow-backed anti-governmental demonstrations broke out in Donetsk and Luhansk. In this regard, it is also worth pointing out that the head of Russia’s General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov, has himself implicitly underscored the importance of territorial defense, referring in 2013 to “control of territory” as a key factor in confronting so-called “hybrid threats” (Vpk-news.ru, February 26, 2013). Aparshyn, however, did not outline the operative principles of such formations in Ukraine’s specific conditions. Finally, Aparshyn spoke about prioritizing radio-electronic warfare capabilities, with special emphasis on intelligence-gathering devices, anti-aircraft and missile-defense systems, communications, as well as Electronic Warfare (EW). According to Zelensky’s defense advisor, these rather costly, yet indispensable elements could be secured for the military through maximum transparency and the creation of a special central organ tasked with supervising the state’s defense procurement initiatives (Nv.ua, April 25). This statement, though difficult to argue against, failed to elaborate on where the money for these key procurements or new administrative bodies would come from (Icds.ee, April 22). The ideas expressed by Aparshyn were harshly criticized by Dmytro Tymchuk (a member of the Ukrainian parliament and a military expert), who stated that “there is nothing new… the majority of these ideas have already appeared virtually word for word in the Law on National Security and Strategic Defense Bulletin of Ukraine.” Furthermore, Tymchuk asserted that the same arguments on professionalizing the Armed Forces have been repeatedly “reiterated for years.” At the same time Tymchuk doubted whether Aparshyn’s key argument pertaining to maximizing the budgetary transparency of the Ukrainian MoD is feasible at all, since “there is not a single country [in the world] where information on the expenditures of even a ‘single kopeyka’ [on defense] is fully available to the general public” (Glavcom.ua, April 24). Another interesting comment came from Dmytro Razumkov—Zelensky’s advisor on internal political issues, who might soon become the chief of staff of the presidential office (Agropolit.com, April 22). Notably, Razumkov took a wider view of national security. In addition to the necessity of continuing the military buildup and increasing the capabilities of the Armed Forces, Ukraine, he argued, must concentrate on diplomacy as part of a non-military confrontation with Russia. Within this domain he identified three main “vectors” (Glavcom.ua, April 19): – The “Normandy format” and its continuation (imperfect as it is, there are no alternatives), and the “Minsk” ceasefire agreements as the only available means to preserve previously introduced anti-Russian economic sanctions; – The “American vector,” which, in Razumkov’s words, is “one of the main means to pressure Russia both formally and informally” by drawing on diplomatic assistance from the United States; – The “British vector,” under the presumption that, after the Russian attempt to assassinate the Skripals in Salisbury using a chemical nerve agent, London “is ready to pressure Moscow with greater intensity.” For now, it seems that Ukrainian policymakers agree on the necessity to employ a combination of military and non-military means to confront Russia. The big and, as yet, unanswered question, however, is how soon a coherent strategy will appear.
Business partner and friend of President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky, Serhiy Shefir, has said the president-elect wants to move from the presidential administration premises to a “normal European-type transparent office.” The relocation will not be paid for from the state budget. Business partner and friend of President-elect Volodymyr Zelensky, Serhiy Shefir, has said the president-elect wants to move from the presidential administration premises to a “normal European-type transparent office.” “He says: I want to have CCTV cameras everywhere, so that everyone may take a peek at any time. I don’t want to sit on Bankova Street, I want to have a normal European-type transparent office,” Shefir said in an interview with theBabel portal. According to him, they are now looking for such an office. “We were told that [former Ukrainian President Viktor] Yushchenko, as well as [incumbent President Petro] Poroshenko, also wanted to move the office,” said Zelensky’s business partner.
Ukraine’s presidential elections were closely followed not only by the three contenders for the second round (Volodymyr Zelensky, Petro Poroshenko, and Yulia Tymoshenko). There was also a fourth player, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov. The experts agree that if Petro Poroshenko won, Avakov’s fate would be unenviable. At least, this minister would say goodbye to his cherished. But the people made a bet on Zelensky, thus leaving Avakov a chance. At the very beginning of the presidential campaign, Arsen Avakov was involved in an open confrontation with the still acting head of state. De facto, he indirectly intimidated Poroshenko, promising to expose any attempts of the authorities to fraud the elections. Obviously, Avakov was going to act in the interests of Poroshenko’s opponents; not only of Yulia Tymoshenko but also of Volodymyr Zelensky. The most insightful commentators rightly noted that Avakov prudently makes bets on different players. A week before the second round of elections, Arsen Avakov did not rule out that President Poroshenko could be held criminally liable. Avakov then called himself a “political minister,” although the official of his rank should not have any public political preferences or be an engaged figure. Consciously or unconsciously, the head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs hinted that he was ready for negotiations and bargaining. One of our sources argues that the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has a great bunch of incriminating facts against Poroshenko. The main compromising evidence on Poroshenko concerns the events of Euromaidan 2013-2014 and backroom negotiations with Ukraine’s fled ex-president Yanukovych. Does Avakov dream of becoming a prime minister (or even a president)? Probably only he knows it. In one of his interviews, Arsen Avakov strongly rejected the premiere ambitions. “Nonsense,” he said. But at the same time, he added: “I don’t plan so far that I’ll be appointed a minister or prime minister by this or that president. You must hear me: the president does not appoint the PM but the parliament does. And we have parliamentary elections in the fall. When a parliament is elected, there will be a new coalition; only then we can talk about the composition of the government.” President really has not promised Avakov anything. At least publicly. But it is not a secret that Avakov is connected with Zelensky. They are connected directly, through the speaker of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Anton Herashchenko, and indirectly through oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky. As for Herashchenko, he is often called a mediator between Zelensky’s headquarters and Arsen Avakov. These ties were revealed thanks to the investigation of the Our Money with Denis Bigus investigative program.
Most Ukrainian voters arguably know that the comedian Volodymyr Zelensky, whose only claim to fame up to now was playing a teacher-turned-president in a popular TV series, will not be the real-life president of their dreams. So why did nearly three-quarters of them back him?
He’ll be quick-witted and funny – but how can Volodymyr Zelenskiy possibly lead a country? A comedian gives his verdict on the new president and other gag-cracking politicians
A week on from the election results, the panellists analyse the results, what insights they provide about voter sentiment in the country and how they impact relations between Ukraine, Russia and the EU moving forward.
Paul Goble Staunton, April 30 – Russians in many cities object to the construction of new Russian Orthodox churches for much the same reason that they protest the building of new highways or high rise apartments or the destruction of park land: officials rarely ask their opinion and choose instead to ignore it in favor of what the church establishment wants. That is the judgement of Russian journalist Anton Zakharov after examining the situation in three Siberian cities, Krasnoyarsk, Yekaterinburg, and Chelyabinsk where government-approved plans for new churches in prominent places have sparked mass protests from the population (currenttime.tv/a/29906385.html). To the extent that is the case, protests against church construction could feed into or be empowered by other kinds of social protest, developments that could present new challenges to the Putin system, which is based among other things on the closest possible links between the state and the Orthodox hierarchy. In all three of these cities, Zakharov says, plans to build churches in prominent public parks has sparked protests, court cases, and anger. The opponents say that because these are among the most polluted cities in Russia, doing away with green space is simply a disaster. But their opponents, who enjoy official support, denounce them as “atheists” or “Russophobes.” In Yekaterinburg, he continues, “supporters and opponents” of building a new cathedral in the middle of the city “compete over how can assemble the more people at meetings. Moscow stars have been brought in to support the project.” When opponents assemble, officials send in uninvited local TV personalities “who accuse those assembled of not loving the motherland.” Andrey Lesnitsky, a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies, says that there is another element involved: at a time of grave poverty, the church hierarchy is living in luxury and flaunting it in public. People don’t like that or the closeness of the church to the state and are responding where they can (currenttime.tv/a/orthodox-church-russia/29911113.html). The word “church” has two primary meanings, he says. It is “the official structure, that is the patriarch, the hierarchs, synod departments, and all kinds of bureaucrats. The church as a corporation.” But it is also “the people of God, absolutely all believers.” When people say the church wants to do something, they almost always mean the first of these. Almost no one in Russia thinks of the church in the second sense, Lesnitsky says. Even those who identify as Orthodox and go to church, because most of these visit the church in much the same way they go to museums of stores. “They do not feel themselves as the core element of this church.” That has given rise to most of the problems today. “If suddenly people who go to church began not to go to church but to be a church, they would understand what is most important.” And they could then transform the world around them. But that is clearly not something either the church hierarchy or the political one wants.