Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Ukraine / Russia Ad Hoc Media Update (236)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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A Russian perspective on the arms race. Oil contamination disaster blowback. Shevtsova on Muscovy’s self-destructive fixation with Ukraine, five other digests on Russia’s descent.  Some fascinating essays on Russian meddling including covert Android spyware. S-400 updates.

Ukraine IR update – interesting DB report. EU tells Muscovy to release Hryb and other hostages. Ukraine may move to Qatari LNG, Moldova may use Ukrainian sourced rather than Russian gas. Reports Russia may be releasing POWs. Russian tanker used to block Kerch bridge detained by SBU in Odessa.

Donbas update – more ceasefire violations. More Vilkha M MLRS tests.

Election, economy and politics updates.

OCU update – Russians ransack last church in Crimea.


Are Russia and America Headed Toward Nuclear War? | The National Interest

We ask a leading Russian military expert.

Putin allies’ oil feud spills into public view – Reuters

The blame game over a contamination scandal in Russia’s oil industry has breached President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Countries Become Fascist When Their Leaders Restrict Freedom of Speech, Mukhin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 23 – In a theoretical introduction to what he promises will be a series of articles on how the Russian Federation became fascist, Moscow commentator Yury Mukhin argues that the path his country has followed is the one other fascist regimes have with those in power first moving to restrict or even eliminate freedom of speech. “History shows,” he says, “that the ideologies of fascist parties and movements can be the most varied, both socialist and capitalism, both internationalist and racist and that it is a complete mistake to consider that fascism must have pretenses toward other peoples domestically or abroad” (forum-msk.org/material/news/15786361.html). In many cases, Mukhin continues, fascists have as their goal “the banal striving of fascist elites to acquiring material goods for themselves or satisfying the personal ambitions of this elite.” Fascism thus is not a specific ideology as many think but rather “a goal and means of exercising power.” Fascism doesn’t have to involve the forcible seizure of power. Its leaders can come to power by democratic means, as for example, Hitler did. “But fascism is an alternative to democracy. The goal of democratic governance is to serve the people” but “the goal of fascist powers is to force the people to serve it.” In the past, it often happened, Mukhin says, that “fascists forced the people to serve their ideas, but today fascists have changed and now force the people to serve their greed.” If one wants to identify a fascist, one need only ask his attitude toward the population. For a democrat, people are the source of power; for a fascist, they are “rabble” whose views don’t matter. Externally, “a fascist regime can be indistinguishable from a democratic one, with the very same ‘free’ elections and the very same ‘free’ media.” And there can even be competition between the fascist regime and a fascist opposition which seeks to replace the incumbents so it can satisfy its own greed rather than allow the latter to satisfy theirs. “If one of the groups wins, as has happened in Russia with let us say the force structures, then fascism becomes absolutely dictatorial,” Mukhin says. But “if the struggle continues as has been the case in Ukraine, then the groups continue to compete for the right to steal from the people.” In such situations, Russia in the past or Ukraine now, he continues, the question is this: why does the population vote for or support those whose interests are diametrically opposed to their own? The answer is simple: fascist leaders in power or aspiring to be work to ensure that the population doesn’t know their true goals. That requires taking control of the media, destroying the concept of truth, and promoting lies as a description of reality. Such lying, especially if no one can counter it, “deprives the people of the chance of predicting the consequences of their political decisions, in the first instance of predicting the consequence of supporting those who are or become fascists.” The power of the media often leads people to call it “the fourth branch” of government. It is a threat to fascism but also a means, if the fascists are able to subordinate it to themselves, of winning and maintaining power. Once the media are taken under control, the fascists have a far easier time of operating to their own benefit and against the benefit of the people. It doesn’t have any significance by what ideology, the leaders seek to destroy media freedom. “The result will be the same. Destroy the ideology of German or Italian fascism and you ill get in exchange the power of Jewish fascists or the fascist power of the oligarchs. Or as today in Russia” under President Putin. Only media freedom opens the way to a successful struggle of unmasking what the fascists are about by showing how harmful the various ideologies that lead to fascism are, Mukhin says. Consequently, the destruction of media freedom is the key defining feature of the fascists. “As soon as freedom of speech is destroyed, under whatever pretext including ‘what is most needed for the people themselves,’ fascism is established.” That is what has happened in Russia and in other countries as well.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin’s ‘Obsession’ with Ukraine Crippling Russia, Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 22 – The Kremlin’s “obsession” with Ukraine, Liliya Shevtsova, once again this week very much on display in the wake of the Verkhovna Rada elections not only prevents Moscow from understanding what is in fact taking place in Ukraine and the West but is crippling Russia, by focusing on the past not the future and on others rather than itself. Those problems have been very much on public view this week, the commentator says, as many close to the Kremlin have argued the vote in Ukraine was a victory for Moscow, given that it shows Europe is tired of Ukraine and that Ukrainians are tired of war and now have a government that wants some kind of a settlement (echo.msk.ru/blog/shevtsova/2468453-echo/). But such impressions can be “deceptive,” Shevtsova continues, “and a pause does not always mean a rollback because there is simply no path back” in this case. “Yes, the West wants to get out of a confrontation with Russia as a result of Ukraine.” But NATO isn’t going to retreat: it will continue to strengthen its positions near the Russian border. And Ukraine “wants peace but not at any price.” They are ready to compromise but they are not ready to compromise in ways Moscow insists upon. Fifty-three percent consider allowing the separatist republics to have a special relationship with Kyiv is unacceptable. “Only 12 percent,” the commentator says, “support autonomy for the separatist ‘republics.’” “In short,” she says, “the majority of Ukrainians are against the Russian idea of peace with Ukraine” – and Kyiv isn’t going to go against the will of the majority. That majority would replace any president who tried: they’ve done it before. More generally, except for the pro-Russian Platform, “all the parties which will be in the new Rada campaigned under reformist and European banners.” Perhaps most striking of all, “even 42 percent of the pro-Russian opposition electorate ar prepared for deprivations in the name of reform!” And after all the efforts Putin and Moscow made, only one Ukrainian in eight was prepared to vote for the outcome the Kremlin wants. In a democracy, that isn’t enough. But Russia’s “obsession” with Ukraine reflects deeper Russian problems, problems the Kremlin uses Ukraine in order to avoid facing. These include the Kremlin’s effort to distract the attention of Russians from problems Moscow can’t solve, an inability to form “a new national identity,” and to recreate a buffer zone between Russia and the West. “The conversion of Ukraine into a maniacal idee fixe says that neither the Russian elite nor the Russian state feels itself complete having lost Ukraine,” Shevtsova says. And that in turn means that “for Russia, Ukraine is not simply a phantom pain that is returning us to the past. Russia’s reaction to Ukraine speaks about our brokenness and inability to think about the future.” “Any peace with Ukraine in the Kremlin’s mind can occur only if Ukraine returns to Russia’s embrace. But how can Ukraine do so when there are 13,000 dead Ukrainians between us?” the commentator asks rhetorically. And that is the case “even if the citizens of Russia who have died do not agitate us.” Shevtsova concludes: “the blood that has been shed has created a new reality. In this reality, Russian statehood can be vital and the ruling elite overcome its complexes only if we turn away from our obsession with Ukraine. It is long past time to return to our own affairs,” rather than continue to act as if they can be solved with more blood in Ukraine.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Takes Seriously Only Brute Force and Big Money, Not His Own Impoverished Population, Eidman Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 23 – The Kremlin’s actions sometimes appear chaotic and almost driven by chance, but they aren’t, Igor Eidman says. Instead, as in any authoritarian system, they are “subordinate to the interests of the autocrat and are shaped according to his tastes, complexes and stereotypes” (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5D375412E0C6D). According to the Russian sociologist and commentator, “Putin takes seriously only force and big money. Thus, he isn’t afraid of the dependent and poor population of his own country. He is concerned only with those who have serious financial and force resources, above all the West and China and also a few oligarchs and his own immediate entourage.” Putin works hard to neutralize these real or invented threats. He works against the West by hybrid penetration of its economic and political systems and against China by playing at friendship and even giving Beijing de facto control over “entire regions” of his own country. And he does everything he can to make Russian oligarchs dependent upon himself personally. At the same time, Eidman continues, “Putin does not take the opposition seriously but behaves in that way toward it only as long as it is poor and powerless and cut off from the power” domestic in the first instance but also foreign as well “and the financial resources” that such links might provide it with. Once this is understood, the sociologist continues, Putin’s policies make perfect sense from his point of view. Eidman gives two examples to make his point. First, he says, Putin’s views explain “why Nemtsov was killed but Navalny remains alive and free.” Nemtsov challenged Putin’s power by actively pushing for sanctions by the West, something he could do because of his contacts with Western leaders, and by seeking to organize an anti-Putin movement among the old oligarchs. Putin couldn’t tolerate either and so Nemtsov had to be removed from the scene. Navalny presents no such threat because he doesn’t have the ties to the West or with members of the oligarchate, Eidman says. In fact, some of what he does plays to Putin’s interests. The current opposition leader “appeals mostly to the Russian population which Putin doesn’t fear,” and his attacks on oligarchs lead them to view Putin as their protector. And second, Putin’s attitudes explain why the authorities pulled back in the case of journalist Ivan Golunov but haven’t in the case of the blocking of opposition figures seeking to run for the Moscow city council. Golunov’s incarceration was conducted by mid-level officials who could be sacrificed to make the Kremlin look good. But opposition efforts to get into the Moscow city council are “another story.” From Putin’s point of view, “the opposition must be cut off from power and financial resources,” something that Moscow deputies have access to, and “opposition figures must be viewed in society as losers.” It is not to be permitted in Putin’s view that such people be allowed to achieve anything that could suggest to young people that the opposition is a path to success – “join the opposition and become a deputy” – and thus attractive. Moreover, Eidman points out, what has happened in Moscow has done more to harm the image of the city’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, than to harm Putin’s. In fact, weakening the position of Sobyanin serves the Kremlin leader’s purposes quite well. Yet another potential challenge to his position is thus weakened and quite possibly destroyed.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Far East and Siberia Far More Dissatisfied with Life than are Russians West of the Urals, Polls Show

Paul Goble Staunton, July 23 – Just over half of all Russian citizens (53 percent) say they are unhappy with conditions where they live, but nearly three-quarters of those in the Far Eastern Federal District (73 percent) and two-thirds of those in Siberia (66 percent) feel that way, according to a new poll by the Public Opinion Foundation. As a result, Sergey Suverov of the BKC Premier Analytic Company says, “in Siberia and especially in the Far East, social tensions are growing since people there more than elsewhere feel the injustice” that the contrast between the natural wealth of their regions and their actual poverty is so great (ng.ru/economics/2019-07-23/1_7630_vostok.html). Despite Vladimir Putin’s promises two years ago to boost their living conditions, people in these regions have seen no improvement, continue to leave in record numbers, and are likely to become ever more unhappy as this divergence becomes greater, something is forcing Moscow to try to find more money to invest in the population’s needs there lest there be protests. But what is a matter of concern is that boosting popular satisfaction may not the social stability that Moscow wants. According to the same poll, the region with the most satisfied people is the North Caucasus, the federal district which is universally acknowledged to be the most unstable. The list of causes of this unhappiness, Mikhail Sergeyev of Nezavisimaya gazeta says in reporting this trend, is anything but short. The leading cause of dissatisfaction is rapidly rising expenses for communal services. That is following by pensions and wages that are too small and too stagnant to keep up. At the present time, Olga Lebedinskaya of Moscow’s Plekhanov University of Economics says, 40 percent of the six million people of the Far Eastern Federal District are considering leaving and moving to other parts of the Russian Federation where conditions are better. They currently enjoy higher salaries than do Russians elsewhere, but these incomes fall far short of covering the much higher costs they have to pay for food, housing, transportation and health care, she continues. And they are also angry about the fact that Moscow keeps promising to help them but fails to follow through. Moscow programs for the Far East have seldom been fully funded after much they are announced with much pomp. Putin’s program for Social-Economic Development of the Far East and Trans-Baikal, for example, has received less than 50 percent of the money promised, and residents know this and are angry about it, Lebedinskaya says. Officials at the ministry responsible for far eastern development counter that many of the region’s problems reflect its enormous size and severe climatic conditions, and they note that the current difficulties are not something new but have been building up for years. Solving them is going to take time. Life expectancies are lower, mortality among working age men higher, roads fewer, and transportation infrastructure far less developed. Solving these and other problems while developing the economy is hard because in many cases, 50 percent of the cost of new industry involves developing infrastructure, thus limiting growth. Moscow is scrambling, promising more money to Far Eastern parents who have one or more children, subsidized health care and mortgages, and other advantages. But few in the region are yet benefitting from these promises, and many there apparently do not expect Moscow to follow through any better in the future than it has in the past.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow’s Push for Belarusian Integration Alienating Central Asia, Zapolskis Suggests

Paul Goble Staunton, July 22 – The Kremlin’s active pursuit of a deepening of integration between Russia and Belarus is alienating Central Asian elites who are accustomed to thinking about their relations with others first and foremost in terms of their ability to maintain national independence, Aleksandr Zapolskis says (regnum.ru/news/economy/2670257.html). Many in Moscow fail to see this, the Regnum commentator says, and assume that the authoritarian leaders of Central Asia have nowhere to go but Moscow. However, even trade figures show that the region is increasingly reorienting itself to the West and China, a shift that reflects what many call their “multi-vector foreign policy.” This shift reflects both developments within the region, including generational change and the diversification of trade, with more to the West and China and less to Russia, as well as efforts by the United States to expand its influence in the last portion of the former Soviet Union to have largely escaped that attention up to now, Zapolskis says. Unfortunately, he suggests, Moscow’s pressure on Belarus is being read in Central Asia as a compelling reason to seek even closer ties with outside powers be they the United States, the EU or China; and he predicts that “in the next four or five years, one should expect a sharp outburst of Russophobia,” something the US can be counted on to exploit. Washington’s message to Central Asians delivered by its embassies and NGOs is “the idea of the special nature of Central Asia as a completely independent and even self-sufficient region situated to the side form Russia, China and the Islamic world and one capable of seriously strengthening that side which it accepts as partners. This message flatters the Central Asians by suggesting they are more important than they thought and avoids a direct attack on Russia as an enemy. That would backfire given how many Central Asians have lived and worked in Russia. But by pointing to what is happening between Moscow and Minsk, the US raises the specter of a new hegemon threatening Central Asia. Russia isn’t doing much to counter this, Zapolskis suggests; indeed, many in Moscow do not even recognize it as a problem. But if that continues, Russia is going to continue to lose out in Central Asia and that region is going to become as anti-Moscow and perhaps even more unstable than the other parts of the former Soviet periphery.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: New Law Will have Russian Prisoners Working Directly for Russian Companies

Paul Goble Staunton, July 22 – Beginning in January, the Russian government will establish branches of corrective labor facilities near Russian companies that want to employ them, an arrangement that will address some labor shortages and give businesses involved an additional reason to support the repressive policies of the Putin regime. The Duma has passed and Putin has signed amendments to the corrective labor code that will expand existing programs in which roughly 10,000 prisoners are working for Russian companies. It is assumed, Rossiiskaya gazeta reports, that the new branch prisons will be attached to major corporations (rg.ru/2019/07/21/pri-krupnyh-predpriiatiiah-otkroiutsia-filialy-kolonij.html). The prisoners will be paid, although at what fraction of the wages of free workers is not clear, and conditions in these branch prisons will be better than in order prisons and camps. But legal specialists and prisoner rights activists are concerned about this integration of the prison system and the corporate world. Somewhat defensive about how this program may appear, its advocates insist “prisoners have always worked” to pay for their keep and this is nothing new, that the US does it and so it is not wrong for Russia to do it as well, and that Russia needs more new workers than are coming of age and that in this way, prisoners too can make a contribution to the growth of the economy (iarex.ru/news/68030.htmlt.me/glavmedia/1102, and ehorussia.com/new/node/18935).

Italian PM Conte Defends League Party, Interior Minister Amid ‘Russiagate’ Scandal

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has denied that his government has ever been influenced by Russia as he responded in the Senate to allegations surrounding the ruling far-right League party.

Italy’s PM Conte denies Russia’s financial influence on his government

Matteo Salvini, the Vice Prime Minister, the Head of Internal Affairs Ministry of Italy, the leader of Lega Nord, an Italian far-right party, refused to testify before the parliament of the country on Russian money case

Russian defense contractor develops Android surveillance tool: report | TheHill

An Android surveillance tool developed by a Russian defense contractor was sanctioned by the government for interference in the 2016 presidential election, according to a report from a U.S. cybersecurity firm.

Fake PornHub And Google Android Apps Are Actually ‘Russian Spy Tools’

Android spyware steals passcodes and snoops on calls. Posing as PornHub , Google and other massively popular apps, researchers say the malware was created by a major Russian surveillance contractor.

Facebook removes fake accounts from Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, Honduras – Reuters

Facebook Inc said on Thursday it had erased over 1,800 accounts and pages from Thailand, Russia, Ukraine and Honduras, its latest move to counter deceptive political propaganda and other abuses of its service.

Facebook removes fake accounts: Facebook removes fake accounts from Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, Honduras (25.07.19 13:00) « World | Censor.NET

25.07.19 13:00 – Facebook removes fake accounts from Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, Honduras Соцсеть Facebook заявляет, что удалила 294 персональных аккаунта и 1509 страниц, зарегистрированных из Украины, России, Таиланда и Гондураса в… View news.

Latvia blocks Russian portal over threat to sovereignty of Ukraine

The information portal Baltnews.lv, which belongs to the International Information Agency ‘Russia today,’ was blocked in Latvia, as Russian media reports. According to the conclusion of the Latvian Foreign Ministry, this website “threatens the territorial integrity of Ukraine, undermines its independence and sovereignty,” and therefore, the portal’s activity is a subject to sanctions of the European Union. It is noted that journalists of the information portal are subjected to criminal liability. Earlier, in April 2016, Latvia closed Sputnik Latvia portal in .lv domain zone on the recommendation of its Foreign Ministry. The decision was justified by the fact that the head of MIA ‘Russia today,’ and the founder of Sputnik, Dmitry Kyselyov is sanctioned by the European Union in connection with Russia’s occupation of territories of Ukraine. However, the Sputnik Latvia portal continued to work in .com domain zone.

Turkey’s first S-400 shipment complete, second planned for Ankara: officials – Reuters

Russia has completed delivery of the first shipment of its S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems to Turkey and a second shipment is now being planned, Turkish military officials said on Thursday.

Turkey, US continue negotiations on Patriot sale amid S-400 rift – Turkey News

Turkey and the United States continue negotiations for the former’s acquisition of Raytheon’s Patriot anti-ballistic missile systems, officials from the Turkish defense ministry have revealed, amid an ongoing bilateral tension over the Turkish deployment of S-400 air defense weaponry from Russia.

Trump asks GOP senators for ‘flexibility’ on Turkey sanctions

President Trump asked Republican senators for “flexibility” in responding to Turkey’s purchase of a Russian missile defense system in a Tuesday meeting.

Trump at odds with Senate GOP over punishing Turkey for purchase of Russian missiles – The Washington Post

The president appeared to favor negotiations, instead of imposing mandatory sanctions on Turkey for purchasing the Russian-made weapons.

Trump meets GOP senators on Turkey’s S-400 purchase – World News

U.S. President Donald Trump met with Republican senators on July 23 at the White House to discuss Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system.

Russia’s S-400: An offer US partners should refuse

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and India should carefully examine the case of Turkey and consider the costs and benefits of acquiring the S-400.

Russia and China defy US with delivery of anti-aircraft missile systems to Chinese military | South China Morning Post

Second regiment set of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems is en route to China, Russian government source says – despite Chinese military being placed under US sanctions last year for buying Russian equipment.

Two Unofficial US Operatives Reporting To Trump’s Lawyer Privately Lobbied A Foreign Government In A Bid To Help The President Win In 2020

Reporting directly to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, two operators waged a brazen back-channel campaign that could thrust another foreign country to the center of the next US election.

Lutsenko, Shokin help Trump by handing over dirt on Biden – media – news world | UNIAN

Former prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, as well as the incumbent one, Yuriy Lutenko, leaked to Donald Trump’s people the so-called “kompromat” on Joe Biden. Buzzfeed journalists learned about communications between Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Ukrainian top prosecutors regarding compromising information on the U.S. president’s potential rival at the next elections.

Ukrainian president, Italian PM discuss case of National Guard member Markiv

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky held a phone conversation with President of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Italy Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday evening. — Ukrinform.

Zelensky discusses with Italian PM case of National Guard Vitaly Markiv – news politics | UNIAN

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky held a telephone conversation with Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic, Giuseppe Conte, as reported by the press service of the head of state. At the same time, in its press release, the Italian side didn’t mention the Markiv case.

Volker, Tymoshenko discuss results of parliamentary elections, reforms implementation. PHOTOS

25.07.19 14:15 – Volker, Tymoshenko discuss results of parliamentary elections, reforms implementation. PHOTOS During the visit to Kyiv, Kurt Volker, the Special Representative of the U.S. State Department for Ukraine Negotiations, has discussed with leader of the Batkivschyna Party Yuliia Tymoshenko the preliminary results of the early parliamentary… View photo news.

Preparations for Zelensky-Johnson meeting to start after Brexit – envoy – news politics | UNIAN

Preparations for the meeting of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky will begin after London completes the procedure for secession from the European Union, that’s according to Natalia Galibarenko, the Ambassador of Ukraine to the United Kingdom. The new British Prime Minister will now be focusing on the country’s exit from the European Union, but after October 31 everything will be done to organize a full-fledged bilateral meeting with the Ukrainian leader.

Ukraine mulls expanding Russia sanctions – news politics | UNIAN

The Ministry for Temporary Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons will submit to the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine a proposal to expand sanctions against Russia. The next round of sanctions concern a number of legal entities involved in the construction of the Krasnodar Area-Crimea gas pipeline and the illegal production of hydrocarbons in the seized Ukrainian fields.

EU Calls For ‘Immediate Release’ Of Ukrainian Convicted By Russia Of ‘Promoting Terrorism’

The European Union has called for the immediate release of ailing 20-year-old Ukrainian national Pavlo Hryb, who has been convicted in Russia of “promoting terrorism.”

EU calls on Russia to immediately release Pavlo Hryb – news politics | UNIAN

The European Union has called on the Russian Federation to immediately release Ukrainian political prisoner Pavlo Hryb, sentenced to six years in a penal colony on trumped up terrorism charges. The Mission reiterates all illegally detained Ukrainian citizens must be immediately released.

EU demands Russia immediately free Hryb, other Ukrainian political prisoners

The European Union has demanded that Russia immediately release illegally convicted Ukrainian Pavlo Hryb, as well as all other Ukrainian political prisoners, including 24 sailors captured near the Kerch Strait last November. — Ukrinform.

EU concerns about Ukraine’s electoral trends

Since gaining independence in 1991, not a single president and not a single party in Ukraine has been able to win the elections as convincingly as Volodymyr Zelensky and his Servant of the People party, which literally came out of nowhere. On Monday morning, when about 30% of the ballots were processed, the presidential party gained almost 42%. Thus, it was still missing 2% to achieve 44%, which it was supposed to get (according to projections sounded on Sunday evening). Pro-Russian oppositional Opposition Platform – For Life party, which was supported by almost 13% of voters, came the second. According to the party leader, the elections would facilitate the return of Ukraine, exhausted by the crisis, to normal, peaceful development. The third place as a result of the voting was taken by the European Solidarity party of former president Petro Poroshenko, which received 8% of the vote (the article was published before Tymoshenko’s Batkivschyna scored better than European Solidarity, – ed.). Former comedian and political newcomer Zelensky won in April in the second round of the presidential election, more than 70% of Ukrainians voted for him. At the same time, however, he did not have support in the parliament. Now the situation has changed. In Ukraine, two trends are clearly visible, taking place also in other European countries. Firstly, the parties, formed on the basis of social movements, aspire to power, and often they are headed by people who have not yet had any relation to politics.

Ukraine eyes Qatari gas, preparing for possible halt of Russian supplies – news economics | UNIAN

National Joint-Stock Company Naftogaz of Ukraine, together with Operator of the Gas Transmission System of Ukraine, has been working on the possibility of receiving gas via the Trans-Balkan gas pipeline starting January 2020, said Serhiy Makohon, director of the GTS Operator of Ukraine company. Diversification of gas supplies by South European countries creates good competition to Russian gas.

Moldova ready to purchase reverse gas from Ukraine

If Moldova does not get Russian gas due to termination of Russian-Ukraine contract on transit, Chișinău is ready to purchase reverse gas from Kyiv, as Prime Minister of Moldova Maia Sandu has said during hearings in the EP Committee for Foreign Affairs in Brussels, Ukrinform reports. “Gas supplies is a technical problem, but it’s also an economic one. We are buying gas from Russian Gazprom at a price at which we could buy it from Ukraine, which gets it through a reverse system,” Sandu said.

Moldovan Prime Minister Secures $45 Million In Aid In Brussels

Moldova’s new Prime Minister Maia Sandu visited Brussels on July 24 where she signed three financial assistance agreements worth $45 million with Johannes Hahn, the EU’s enlargement commissioner.

Agreement on Ukrainian sailors’ return by Russia reached – ombudsman – LB.ua news portal

Agreement on Ukrainian sailors’ return by Russia reached – ombudsman. She says “documents are being finalized”. Political – LB.ua news portal. Latest from Ukraine and the world today

Denisova claims negotiations with Russia underway on return of Ukrainian POW sailors

Ombudswoman of the Verkhovna Rada Liudmyla Denisova states that negotiations are currently underway to return 24 Ukrainian prisoners of war sailors by Russia as part of the implementation of the UN International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Ukrainian Authorities Seize Russian Tanker Implicated In Sailors’ Detention

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) says it has seized a Russian tanker that Moscow allegedly used to block three Ukrainian naval vessels before detaining them and 24 Ukrainian sailors in November n…

The SBU detained a Russian tanker “NEYMA”, which blocked Ukrainian warships- YouTube

11,538 views 1K 281 Share it Save Security Service of Ukraine Published on July 25, 2019 The Security Service of Ukraine together with the Military Prosecutor’s Office detained the Russian tanker “NEYMA”, which blocked the Ukrainian warships in the Kerch Strait. During the pre-trial investigation, it was found that, under the direct order of the senior management of the FSB, the representatives of the FSB Border Service carried out an act of armed aggression against the Ukrainian warships “Nikopol”, “Berdyansk” and the tug of “Yana Kapu” in the Kerch Strait. Contrary to the norms of international maritime law, servicemen of the frontier troops of the FSB of Russia illegally, with the use of weapons, blocked the movement of Ukrainian warships during the passage of the Kerch-Yenikalsky Canal in the Kerch Strait with the help of the tanker “NEYMA” (IMO 8895528, MMSI 273347000, flag of the Russian Federation). Such unlawful actions contributed to violent, with the use of weapons, the stop and capture of Ukrainian FSB frontier guards of Ukrainian warships with 24 crew members. In the fact of blocking the “NEYMA” tanker of the Kerch-Yenikalsky Canal in the Kerch Strait investigators of the SBU, under the procedural guidance of the Military Prosecutor’s Office, a pre-trial investigation was initiated and conducted. According to information collected by the Military Prosecutor’s Office and SBU investigators, 15 suspected members of the top military leadership of the Russian Federation, including one re-admiral, two vice-admirals and a colonel-general, were informed in absentia. On July 24, according to Ukrainian border guards, a tanker “NIKA SPIRIT” came to the port of Izmail under the number IMO – 8895528, according to the international information system EQUASIS identified as a well-known tanker “NEYMA”, which was used to overturn the Kerch Strait . The investigation established that the tanker “NEYMA”, with the purpose of concealing involvement in illegal acts and an act of aggression that took place on November 25, 2018, changed the name to “NIKA SPIRIT” by Russian owners. Currently, a group of SBU investigators, military prosecutors and border guards in a detained tanker has completed investigations by a Ukrainian court – a search to determine the actual circumstances of the case, seizure of documents from the ship, records of radio talks during the conflict, on-board magazines. The members of the judiciary were questioned, the documents necessary for establishing the truth in the proceedings were seized. The indicated vessel is recognized as a valid evidence, and a petition to the court is being prepared for his arrest. Reference: On the initiative of the Military Prosecutor’s Office by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, the special Decision, imposed by the Decree of the President of Ukraine dated March 19, 2009, No. 82/2019, for a term of 3 years, was applied special economic sanctions and other restrictive measures to LLC “YUVAS TRANS” , namely: the assets of the enterprise were blocked, trade operations were limited, measures were taken to prevent withdrawal, prohibit participation in privatization and lease of state property, etc. LLC “YUVAS TRANS” is the owner of the Kerch Shipyard, which, until the blockage of the Kerch-Yenikalsky Canal, was a tanker “Neyma”, as well as carried out pilotage of warships on the specified channel.

Russian tanker NEYMA that blocked Ukrainian naval ships in Kerch Strait detained – SBU

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and the Military Prosecutor’s Office have detained the Russian tanker NEYMA which blocked the Ukrainian Navy’s Yany Kapu tug and Berdiansk and Nikopol armored gunboats in the Kerch Strait in November 2018; a motion asking a court to seize the Russian vessel is being prepared.

SBU detains Russian tanker that blocked Ukrainian ships in Kerch Strait

25.07.19 15:13 – SBU detains Russian tanker that blocked Ukrainian ships in Kerch Strait Ukraine’s SBU Security Service, together with the Military Prosecutor’s Office, has detained the Russian tanker Neyma that blocked Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait in November 2018. View news.

SBU detains Russian tanker that blocked Ukrainian ships in Kerch Strait

Ukraine’s SBU Security Service, together with the Military Prosecutor’s Office, has detained the Russian tanker Neyma that blocked Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait in November 2018. — Ukrinform.

Ukraine detains Russian tanker involved in Kerch Strait attack (Video) – news politics | UNIAN

The SBU Security Service of Ukraine, together with the military prosecutor’s office, has detained the Russian NEYMA tanker as part of the investigation into a brazen attack on and seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels near the Kerch Strait on Nov 25, 2018. The tanker was used to block Ukrainian naval boats.

Russia raises false fears about Ukrainian language law – media – news politics | UNIAN

On July 16, the United Nations Security Council held a meeting on the topic of Ukraine’s new language law, which is intended to protect and advance the Ukrainian language in a country where Russian imperial and Soviet policies maintained the supremacy of the Russian language for more than a century. The law, one of the last acts of former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko before he left office in May, was set to go into effect on that same day. The report debunks MFA Russia’s false claim that doctors and teachers will be prohibited from speaking Russian.

Vessel with 14 Ukrainians on board detained in Russia

Lizori vessel with 14 citizens of Ukraine on board was detained in the port of Yeisk in Kuban, Russia

Russian proxies break ‘harvest ceasefire’ in Donbas: Ukrainian soldier got injured

25.07.19 10:32 – Russian proxies break ‘harvest ceasefire’ in Donbas: Ukrainian soldier got injured July 24, the armed formations of the Russian Federation adhered to the so-called “harvest ceasefire” in the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) area in eastern Ukraine. Today, the invaders launched one attack on Ukrainian positions. View news.

Invaders break ‘harvest ceasefire’ in Donbas. One soldier wounded

On Wednesday, July 24, the armed formations of the Russian Federation adhered to the so-called “harvest ceasefire” in the Joint Forces Operation (JFO) area in eastern Ukraine. Today, the invaders launched one attack on Ukrainian positions. — Ukrinform.

Ukrainian soldier wounded as Russian-led forces violate ceasefire once since midnight – news war | UNIAN

Russia’s hybrid military forces have mounted one attack on Ukrainian army positions in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, since Thursday midnight amid the so-called “harvest” ceasefire, resulting in one Ukrainian soldier being wounded. At the same time, the enemy fully abided by truce conditions throughout Wednesday.

Russia occupation troops impede experts’ access to damaged  bridge in Donbas disengagement area – news war | UNIAN

Russia-backed forces in Donbas have hampered the access of construction experts to a damaged bridge near Stanytsia Luhanska, the site of the recent disengagement. Invaders claimed they had not been warned about the inspection works and perceived the approach of the team of experts as an act of aggression.

UAWire – Ukraine installs radiation control systems on the border with Russia and Moldova

State Border Guard Service of Ukraine reported that automated control systems for the movement of radioactive and nuclear materials, TSA and RAPISCAN, were installed at the border crossings with Russia and Moldova. Such systems will allow preventing attempts of illegal transporting of hazardous substances through the Ukrainian border, reads the statement of the agency. A delegation from the United States attended the installation of the systems and tested the operation of the devices. “The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine continues to take measures to improve the system of prevention, detection, and suppression of attempts to illegally transport radioactive substances and nuclear materials across the state border,” reported the Border Guard Service on July 23. As part of the international technical assistance program, the State Border Guard units continue to receive modern devices and equipment. The new American complexes were installed at the Bolshaya Pisarevka and Nikolaevka checkpoints on the border with Russia, as well as at the Starokazachye checkpoint on the border with Moldova. The delegation from the United States, which included representatives of the United States Department of Energy, the LANL National laboratory and the manufacturers of this equipment, tested the border systems and handed them over to the Border Guard. The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine also said that since 2005, 74 checkpoints had been equipped with such stationary systems. Moreover, Ukrainian State Border Guards received 20 mobile radiation monitoring systems installed on the vehicles.

President appoints deputy head of Foreign Intelligence Service

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appointed Kateryna Sliadneva as deputy chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Service. — Ukrinform.

Ukraine tests new Vilkha-M MLR system. VIDEO

25.07.19 12:44 – Ukraine tests new Vilkha-M MLR system. VIDEO Ukraine has tested the Vilkha-M (“Alder”) multiple launch rocket system, a high precision upgrade of the Vilkha complex, which in turn is a deeply-modernized version of the Soviet “Smerch”. View video news.

Ukraine tests new Vilkha-M MLR system (Video) – news ukraine | UNIAN

Ukraine has tested the Vilkha-M (“Alder”) multiple launch rocket system, a high precision upgrade of the Vilkha complex, which in turn is a deeply-modernized version of the Soviet “Smerch”. Its max firing range is 70 km. Ukraine has tested the Vilkha-M (“Alder”) multiple launch rocket system, a high precision upgrade of the Vilkha complex, which in turn is a deeply-modernized version of the Soviet “Smerch”. “Another stage of factory tests of the Vilkha-M high-precision MLR system took place on July 24. During the tests, more tasks for checking and improving a number of technical and technological solutions were worked out,” Ukrainian military expert Serhiy Zgurets wrote on Facebook. He added the Vilkha-M was a logical continuation of works on the Vilkha system, which had already been adopted by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “As you know, the Vilkha is a deep modernization of the Smerch MLRS, as it is documented. Although, in fact, it is about the creation of multiple rocket launcher with capabilities of a high-precision weapon,” Zgurets said. The system’s maximum firing range is 70 km. The inbound speed is about 3.4 M. According to the results of state tests, the Vilkha system was adopted by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in late 2018. As UNIAN reported earlier, in August 2016, the Ukrainian military conducted successful tests of a new generation Vilkha MLR system, which was designed based on a Soviet-era 300 mm Smerch 9K58 launcher. The major developer is Luch State Design Bureau. In December 2016, the Cabinet of Ministers increased the prepayment period for the implementation of the project to two years. Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/society/10630230-ukraine-tests-new-vilkha-m-mlr-system-video.htmlUkraine has tested the Vilkha-M (“Alder”) multiple launch rocket system, a high precision upgrade of the Vilkha complex, which in turn is a deeply-modernized version of the Soviet “Smerch”. “Another stage of factory tests of the Vilkha-M high-precision MLR system took place on July 24. During the tests, more tasks for checking and improving a number of technical and technological solutions were worked out,” Ukrainian military expert Serhiy Zgurets wrote on Facebook. He added the Vilkha-M was a logical continuation of works on the Vilkha system, which had already been adopted by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “As you know, the Vilkha is a deep modernization of the Smerch MLRS, as it is documented. Although, in fact, it is about the creation of multiple rocket launcher with capabilities of a high-precision weapon,” Zgurets said. The system’s maximum firing range is 70 km. The inbound speed is about 3.4 M. According to the results of state tests, the Vilkha system was adopted by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in late 2018. As UNIAN reported earlier, in August 2016, the Ukrainian military conducted successful tests of a new generation Vilkha MLR system, which was designed based on a Soviet-era 300 mm Smerch 9K58 launcher. The major developer is Luch State Design Bureau. In December 2016, the Cabinet of Ministers increased the prepayment period for the implementation of the project to two years.

Ukraine tests Vilkha multiple launch rocket system

Another stage of testing of missiles of the Vilkha multiple launch rocket system was held in Odesa region, according to Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) Serhiy Kryvonos. — Ukrinform.

Full gear of Ukraine’s SOF troop costs $15,000, while in U.S. it’s $100,000 – Commander – news ukraine | UNIAN

Full gear of each Ukrainian Special Operations Forces serviceman costs US$15,000, that’s according to SFO Commander Ihor Luniov, who compared it to the American analog costing up to $100,000. By 2025, Ukrainian spec-ops forces will have 100% switched to NATO arms and gear standards.

Ukraine election: CEC processes 99.86% of protocols – news politics | UNIAN

The Central Election Commission (CEC) has processed 99.86% of the protocols received from constituencies across Ukraine in the snap parliamentary elections. The pro-presidential Servant of the People Party remains in the lead with 43.17% of the vote.

Vote recount in Ukraine’s elections possible at five districts – OPORA

A vote recount in Ukraine’s snap parliamentary elections is possible at five districts, head of the OPORA civil network Olha Aivazovska has reported on Facebook. — Ukrinform.

Medvedchuk: Majority must ensure rights of opposition, guarantees of their security

The majority in the Verkhovna Rada of the IX convocation should ensure the rights of the opposition, guarantee their security and the law on opposition

Ukraine has no other way but to implement reform, get rid of corruption – media – news politics | UNIAN

Ukrainian voters have taken a certain risk in Parliament elections, filling the Rada with many MPs whose names are hardly known to anyone, even in Ukraine. It’s amazing, and not only for Ukraine, how “start-up” parties managed to win the popular vote. The newly-elected authorities in Ukraine have received all opportunities to meet people’s expectations and build precisely that kind of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s politicians are eager to win hearts and minds online – news politics | UNIAN

Online misinformation, cyber-attacks, and the overall threat of external interference in the election were not last minute concerns in Ukraine. The latest elections show online technologies in Ukraine are poorly regulated and rich in reach.

Georgia, Ukraine Do More With Less For Leading Spots In Global Innovation Index

Ukraine and Georgia, as well as Bulgaria are among the leaders of their respective income groups in the UN’s Global Innovation Index 2019, which was released on July 24.

High Council of Justice sacks judge who closed case against Kernes

Ukraine’s High Council of Justice (HCJ) has fired seven judges, who tendered the resignation, among whom was Poltava’s Kyivsky district judge Andriy Antonov.

Bogdan Motors complains to G7 about NABU searches

Bogdan Motors has informed the ambassadors of the G7 countries and the EBA office that the searches conducted by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) at the company’s premises were politically motivated, the company’s press service has reported. — Ukrinform.

SBI director tells of Poroshenko’s visit to his office – news ukraine | UNIAN

Roman Truba, Director of the State Bureau of Investigation, explained why ex-President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko had visited his office earlier on Wednesday, July 24. The ex-president sought to have his tomorrow’s questioning rescheduled.

UAWire – Ukrainian Security Service files case against all of Ukraine’s film distribution companies

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has initiated a criminal case against all of Ukraine’s film distribution companies, accusing them of sending funds to Russia’s intelligence agencies and sabotaging Ukrainian films, the court materials state. The case was initiated based on a request from a member of parliament, who said that Ukraine’s film distribution market is split between the B&H Film Distribution Company, Ukrainian Film Distribution, Kinomania, Volga Ukraine, and Multi Media Distribution. Every year, they receive around $100 million from the box office in Ukraine. The companies appeared on the Ukrainian market as subsidiaries of Russian companies with fruitful financial and economic ties to these companies, their ultimate owners being Russian citizens. The request alleges that these companies’ activity in Ukraine has resulted in a need to conceal the large profit using transactions with fictitious economic entities and dubious transfers to Russian companies for distribution rights. “The mentioned illicit transfers did not escape the attention of Russia’s intelligence agencies, which between 2014 and 2016 effectively forced the owners of the companies operating on the Ukrainian film distribution market to send part of their revenue to finance activity by unidentified persons for the purpose of creating mass riots in Ukraine, impinging on its territorial integrity, and destabilizing its political and economic situation,” the request claims. Having received support from the Russian intelligence agencies, the owners of the film distribution companies are functioning as agents of influence in Ukraine, dictating the terms in the film industry and sabotaging the promotion and showing of Ukrainian films. As part of the investigation, the court has granted the SBU access to the bank accounts of Kinomania and Volga Ukraine, as well as access to documents containing bank secrets. In April 2019, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine began investigating allegations that President Volodymyr Zelensky’s company “Kinokvartal” had misused government funding. The Ukrainian State Committee had financed 49% of the budget of the company’s film “Me, you, him, her”. The terms of the financing stipulated that the film had to be made entirely in the Ukrainian or Crimean Tatar language, an obligation which Zelensky’s company failed to meet.

SBU busts major drug lab in Kyiv region in raid against local branch of int’l drug cartel – news ukraine | UNIAN

The SBU Security Service of Ukraine exposed a drug lab set up by the transnational drug ring known as “Khimprom”. Over 200 kg of the so-called “salt”, or “alpha-pvp”, was produced there monthly.

Solar power plant with capacity of 33 MW launched in Melitopol

UDP Renewables, a part of UFuture Investment Group, has launched its new solar power plant Scythia-Solar-2 in Melitopol, Zaporizhzhia region, according to the company’s press service. — Ukrinform.

Presentation of comic book about Saint Olga of Kyiv on July 23 Photoreport

Presentation of comic book about Saint Olga of Kyiv on July 23. UNIAN pictures

Ukraine church’s only temple in occupied Crimea plundered – news ukraine | UNIAN

Simferopol’s Volodymyr and Olha Cathedral, the only temple of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine that is left in the occupied Crimea, has been looted and plundered, the Crimean Human Rights Group reported citing Archbishop of the OCU’s Crimean Diocese, Klyment. Church property was destroyed under the pretext of “repair works” allegedly conducted by the occupying authorities.