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  • The Morning Vertical Brian Whitmore January 9, 2017

    ON MY MIND

    So here we are again. The last four U.S. presidents came into office with the intention of improving or maintaining good relations with Russia. Two of them, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, were largely successful.

    But the last two, not so much. And it is no coincidence that those two -- George W. Bush and Barack Obama -- were the ones who had to deal with Vladimir Putin.

    This, of course, says a lot more about Putin than about his counterparts in the White House.

    For Putin, relations with the United States are a zero-sum game. And what Putin wants from any reset, any detente, or any rapprochement is something Washington cannot give: an end to a rules-based world order, the dissolution of NATO, and a free hand for Moscow in the former Soviet Union.

    As William Burns writes in a piece featured below, "The reality is that our relationship with Russia will remain competitive, and often adversarial, for the foreseeable future."

    At first glance we appear to be in uncharted waters with Donald Trump about to enter the White House. But the geopolitical fundamentals of the U.S.-Russian relationship remain the same.

    IN THE NEWS

    U.S. President Barack Obama says he has "underestimated" the impact misinformation and hacking can have on democracies, after intelligence agencies concluded that Russia's president ordered a hacking campaign that aimed to influence the U.S. presidential election.

    U.S. President-elect Donald Trump accepts the U.S. intelligence community's conclusion that Russia tried to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, his incoming chief of staff says.

    Trump again vowed to improve relations with Moscow, one day after the release of a U.S. intelligence report that found that Russia's president personally ordered a cyber-campaign to benefit Trump's election bid.

    France blocked 24,000 cyberattacks targeting its military last year, the country’s defense minister says.

    A Russian political activist serving a 2 1/2-year sentence for participating in illegal demonstrations has been located after not being heard from for more than one month.

    Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom said it was pumping record volumes to Europe amid unusually cold temperatures.

    The Morning Vertical, January 9, 2017

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    • Ukraine’s New Dignity
      GEOGRAPHICAL Vitali Vitaliev 09 Jan 2017

      On a long-awaited return to Ukraine, Vitali Vitaliev finds a very different country from the one he once left behind
      ---------------------------
      In 1994, while living in London, a Channel 4 documentary gave me the opportunity to briefly return to Ukraine, my newly-independent, long-suffering motherland that I had originally left in 1978.

      That was my very first glimpse of it as a separate country, no longer a province of the Soviet Empire where one could go to prison just for uttering the words ‘independence’ or ‘Ukrainian passport’ or for displaying a blue-and-yellow flag. I will never forget how two of my friends were expelled from the University of Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, simply for speaking Ukrainian to each other. They were accused of ‘Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism’. What was so nationalistic, let alone ‘bourgeois’, about speaking their own language in their own country? Only God, or possibly Brezhnev, knew.

      In 1994, my mother country seemed desperate, impoverished and confused. An oblong dusty mirror – part and parcel of every Soviet immigration point – hung above my head in the narrow passage of the Kiev airport passport control. The purpose of that overhead mirror had been a mystery. Was it designed to allow the border guard to scrutinise the crown of your head for signs of a toupee, or help him intercept your dissident thoughts? Or was its purpose to make every visitor feel like a trespasser?

      One scene has been firmly imprinted in my memory from that visit: a beggar girl, no more than seven-years-old, sitting on the ground in Kiev’s newly renamed Independence (formerly October Revolution) Square – the same square where 100 protesters, the so-called ‘heavenly hundred’, would perish during the Maidan uprising 20 years later in 2014. Since coins had become victims of hyperinflation and no longer in use, passers-by tossed Ukrainian coupons, a kind of temporary currency, at the girl and she was half-submerged underneath those rumpled confetti-like pieces, not worth the paper they were printed on. In more poetical moments, I thought then that the beggar girl could be the young independent Ukraine reincarnated.

      Now, in 2016 after another 22 years of absence, I have returned once more and in the process have experienced a shock from which I am still reeling. My native country, or at least its capital Kiev, has become a different place. Having half-expected to find a bedraggled war-torn city, I was stunned by its impeccably clean streets and countless bars, coffee-shops and restaurants full of locals; by its shady boulevards and parks where, just like in my childhood, young families promenaded of an evening while older folks were engrossed in seemingly endless chess games on benches under acacia trees. The whole of Khreshchatik, Kiev’s main thoroughfare, would get pedestrianised at weekends, with children playing in all ten of its empty traffic lanes.

      The city appeared safe, calm and relaxed, with the only reminders of the ongoing war in Donbass to be found in newspapers and in fresh memorial plates on some of the buildings. People were reluctant to talk about the war, just taking it in their stride, as if still refusing to believe that their largely Russian-speaking nation had seen a large chunk of its territory annexed.

      The biggest change, however, has befallen the Ukrainians themselves. I had always been of the opinion that it would take several generations to shake off that haunted Soviet look from peoples’ faces, that peculiar I-am-waiting-to-be-hurt expression which I used to call ‘the seal of oppression’. In 2016 Kiev, it is all but gone: its residents appear confident and relaxed – a westernised, if not quite ‘western’ crowd in westernised, if not quite ‘western’ streets, dotted with ‘Censorship is banned by law’ posters and banners promoting human rights. It was indeed a ‘brave new world’ born out of war, hypocrisy and centuries of oppression.

      Ukraine is no longer a desperate beggar girl. A new emerging dignity can be felt everywhere – the dignity of a young and courageous nation confident of its future. ‘It is Maidan that gave us this new confidence,’ a Kiev friend told me. ‘We believe that everything will be okay, that somehow we’ll survive.’

      ‘From Moscow’s perspective, it is vital to prove that our people can’t prevail over corruption, can’t determine their own future and can’t prosper without bowing to a foreign leader. But in Kiev we are proving every day that the Kremlin is wrong,’ my namesake Vitali Klitschko, former world boxing champion and now the Mayor of Kiev, stated recently.

      Of course, a flying visit is not enough to make far-reaching conclusions. The country is still awash with problems; the government is weak, the economy is erratic, and corruption is rife. But as a travel writer, I have always believed that one can tell a lot about the state of a nation by simply mingling with morning commuters in city streets.

      As I was leaving Kiev from the newly refurbished Zhuliany airport, waiting for my British passport to be stamped at the border control, I looked up: the overhead mirror – a hiccup of Soviet times – was still there. But it seems to have become much, much smaller... Ukraine’s New Dignity - Geographical

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      • 13:36 09.01.2017 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
        Some 800 pseudo IDPs receive improper social benefits

        Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has found out that in the Anti-Terrorist operation (ATO) area, people who live in the temporarily occupied territories of Donbas receive social benefits from Ukraine's state budget.

        As the press center of the SBU reported, security service operatives found that more than 800 Ukrainian citizens receive social benefits from the state budget in in Stanychno-Luhansky district, although they permanently reside in temporarily occupied territories.

        "In this regard, managers from regional administration suspended such payments, resulting in savings to the state budget amounted to about UAH four million," the report says.
        Some 800 pseudo IDPs receive improper social benefits

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        • 14:29 09.01.2017 INTERFAX-UKRAINE
          Turkish Airlines cancels more than 200 flights due to winter weather in Turkey

          Snowfalls in western Turkey forced the Turkish Airlines to cancel 227 domestic and international flights on Monday, the EFE agency has reported.

          Particularly strong disruptions in air communication are expected in Istanbul.

          CEO Bilal Eksi explained in the Twitter that another 292 flights will be implemented according to the schedule.

          For his part, Turkish low-cost Pegasus Airlines announced the cancellation of 74 flights both of domestic and international routes.

          In addition, it was decided to suspend the movement of vessels on the Bosporus because of the snow.
          Turkish Airlines cancels more than 200 flights due to winter weather in Turkey

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          • Russian invasion brought too many guns to Ukraine for any future protest to remain entirely peaceful, Bekeshkina warns
            EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2017/01/10

            Iryna Bekeshkina, the sociologist who heads Kyiv’s Democratic Initiatives Foundation, says that so many Ukrainians now are in possession of guns that it is unreasonable to expect that future protests there like another Maidan will take place without significant violence.

            At present, Ukrainians are less inclined to engage in protest than they were, she says; but “if [they] do go into the streets, that will not end with a peaceful revolution, since there exists in society both sufficient decisiveness and weapons” in private hands now.

            Unfortunately, Bekeshkina continues, this is not just a problem of weapons ownership or the bleeding back of weapons from the combat zone but also reflects the lack of public confidence in any of the political parties and the continuing strength of populism in Ukrainian elections and in the behavior of the Verkhovna Rada.

            Populism is a problem even for well-established democracies, as the last year has shown, the Ukrainian sociologist says. But she adds that populism is “one thing where the majority consists of a middle class and quite another in a poor country” like Ukraine. And at present, it is hard to see how Ukraine escapes this without significant economic growth.

            She and her colleagues had expected a rise in protest attitudes among Ukrainians when the authorities raised prices on communal services, “but this didn’t happen. More than that, protest attitudes even fell somewhat. The apathy of the population grew instead.” Ukrainians have gotten used to the new prices.

            But she warns that “there is no direct connection between protest attitudes and real protests.” Protest attitudes, as measured by polls, were low both before the Orange Revolution in 2004 and the Euromaidan in 2013-2014. Those two events were triggered by election falsification in the first case and the televised beating of students in the second.

            When new protests do occur, Bekeshkina continues, “now there will not be any peaceful Maidans, people have guns and they have sufficient decisiveness” about fighting for their rights. “God forbid that something like that will happen.” But that is the increasingly likely outcome as the tossing of a grenade at the parliament building showed.

            Ukrainians are dissatisfied above all with the war in the Donbas because “many have sons, relatives and acquaintances there.” But focus groups show, the sociologist says, that even those worried about the war are also concerned about the economic situation over almost everything else.

            “We have conducted focus groups” in the region, she continues, “and no one mentions the Russian language [issue]… or NATO. If they recall Russia at all, then only in the context of where our factories will sell their production. Instead, people talk about work, about factories closing down, and about their wages.”
            Russian invasion brought too many guns to Ukraine for any future protest to remain entirely peaceful, Bekeshkina warns | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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            • Crimea, and why Ukraine could not support Israel
              EUROMAIDAN PRESS Dmytro Homon 2016/12/29

              The Ukrainian representative at the UN Security Council voted against Israeli settlements in Jerusalem, which led to controversy and a diplomatic scandal.

              The cancellation of the visit of Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to Israel has provoked a strong reaction in Ukraine. During the ongoing scandal, all possible problems in the Ukrainian-Israeli relations have been dragged to the surface. Many experts in the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as those who consider themselves experts, have expressed themselves in social media.

              But the storm is not limited to the social networks. Politicians have been divided in their reactions as well. Some have criticized the government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while others believe the diplomats have acted properly.

              Resolution on the settlements
              The bone of contention was the vote on December 23, for the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2334, which states that the UN Security Council believes that ” Israel’s establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, had no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.”

              Similar resolutions are submitted for consideration regularly. However, they were previously blocked by the US, using its veto. This is what happened in 2011.

              This time, instead of using its veto, the US abstained from voting, effectively giving the “green light” for the adoption of the document. This is the result of the policies implemented in the Middle East by the outgoing president of the United States, Barack Obama, and his administration.

              Why Ukraine supported the resolution
              The position of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is based on the argument that taking Crimea into account, Ukraine simply could not and had no right to vote otherwise. “Our state has consistently stood for the respect of international law by everyone and everywhere, since, in our own case, we have experienced the tragic consequences that result from its violation,” the official Ministry statement declared.

              To decipher: Ukraine’s position in the international arena regarding Crimea is based on the assertion that Russia is a gross violator of international law. Most countries have agreed with Ukraine on this matter still in February 2014 by supporting the resolution of the UN General Assembly on the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Israel did not support that document (it did not participate in the voting).

              According to Ukrainian journalist Andriy Vasyliev, who has been reporting on the UN for several years, “to claim that Ukraine should have voted ‘against’ only because Israel is ‘our ally’ would have completely disregarded the principles of international law. The members of the Security Council must make decisions based solely on security concerns and not on the basis of who is our ‘ally’ or solely in its own interests, as does the Kremlin,” he said.

              Therefore, in matters pertaining to occupied territories, Ukraine has no other option than to vote against occupation. In fact, it was this very violation of international law that was the reason for imposing the first sanctions on Russia.

              “In my personal opinion Ukraine could not vote differently since the settlement of occupied territories is a direct conflict between Israel and Palestine. If Israel does not cease activities on the occupied territories, one can forget about the peace process between Israel and Palestine,” Vasyliev says.

              He also cites the opinion of his source at the UN Security Council that “the Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories is the main aggravating factor hindering the peace process in the Middle East. Furthermore, it is a violation of international law.”

              It is a matter of violating Article 8 of the Rome Statues of the International Criminal Court and, in particular, paragraph 2 (b) (viii), which directly calls the transfer of one’s own population to occupied territories a war crime.

              “I think that no one in Ukraine would like for Russia to begin construction in Crimea or Donbas, isn’t that right?” Vasyliev asks. “From the perspective of the Rome Statute, Israel’s actions in the occupied territories and the Kremlin’s actions in Crimea are war crimes. It is quite another thing that a similar resolution regarding Crimea cannot be passed in the Security Council because Moscow immediately vetoes it. This is the weakness of the Security Council,” he says.

              Why not abstain?
              Those who accept the argument regarding Crimea have another objection: why didn’t the Ukrainian representative abstain, as did the US?

              For Ihor Semyvolos, the director of the Center of Middle Eastern Studies, “there is a difference between abstaining generally and abstaining in this case. “If we had abstained, that would have meant ‘against.’ It would not have saved the Israelis, but we would have appeared inconsistent and biased, ” he explains.

              The Israeli side and its supporters are putting forth an old argument in this case — namely, that the situation regarding the annexation of Crimea and the settlements on the territories of East Jerusalem cannot be compared. They say that these lands were not occupied, that this is (Jewish) historical land, that Jordan voluntarily gave it up, and so on and so forth.
              >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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              • UA vs Israel Pt 2

                One can offer a counterargument, but this is a debate that leads nowhere. It has been waged for many years already, and the Palestinians and Israelis have a longstanding and firmly formed opinions on the issue.

                However, it is a fact that, along with Ukraine, all the members of the Security Council supported the resolution except for the US, whose “abstention” was an actual vote “for.” And when we speak of the insult to Ukraine and the cancellation of Groysman’s visit, we forget that Israel’s reaction had a much wider context.

                Netanyahu’s violent reaction
                The head of the Israeli government Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the acting minister of foreign affairs, instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to minimize working contacts with the 12 countries which, according to Israeli media, “voted against Israel in the UN.” The media also reported that Netanyahu has forbidden his ministers to meet with colleagues from these countries and to visit them. The Ynet news website confirms that the ban extends to Russia, Ukraine, Great Britain, Spain, and Japan. The ban will be in effect for three weeks.

                Actually, except for Russia, this is not bad company. Netanyahu has also urged Israeli citizens to limit travel to these countries.

                Additionally, Netanyahu has stopped funding five UN organizations he considers “especially hostile to Israel” and has warned there would be additional steps.

                “Israel has decided to reconsider its position to the organization that had actually established it (the state’s independence was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, on the basis of the UN General Assembly Resolution No. 181 dated November 29, 1947). This is unprecedented,” Bohdan Yaremenko, chairman of the board of the Maidan of Foreign Affairs non-profit wrote on his Facebook page.

                The Israeli government accuses the US of coordinating the vote. “From the information that we have, we have no doubt that the Obama administration initiated it, stood behind it, coordinated on the wording and demanded that it be passed,” Netanyahu said.

                Israel summoned the US ambassador to Israel for an explanation. The other ambassadors, including the Ukrainian one, were summoned as well. “According to the BBC, “summoning ambassadors for explanations during the Christmas holidays is an unusual measure and indicates the seriousness of Israel’s claims.”

                It is already clear that Trump is returning to the format of relations with Israel that existed before Obama’s change of direction. In other words, the countries will appear as a duo and there will be no discord similar to the resolutions on settlements. This is why the Ukrainian side tried to postpone the vote to have it take place under the Trump administration when there would definitely be a veto. However, the US categorically refused to postpone the date.

                “According to my source, Jerusalem had asked Washington to veto this resolution, but the most Samantha Power could do was to abstain, since the vote ‘against’ would negate the Rome Statute,” Andriy Vasyliev explained. Earlier, Obama’s administration also acted in unison with Israel. “The US line of conduct changed precisely because of Crimea. Because it was a precedent,” he said.

                Has everything been lost and damaged?
                When it comes to the consequences of the vote in the UN Security Council, it is important to keep in mind that Israel has not been an ally of Ukraine. We are referring to the government level, of course, not about the cooperation on the level of volunteers and public diplomacy.

                “For Netanyahu, relations with Russia are much more important, and he will not quarrel with Russia because of us,” Ihor Semyvolos pointed out.

                Yes, Ukrainian soldiers are being treated in Israel. There are certain plans for military cooperation and the training of Ukrainian physicians is taking place. But we should not forget about the Israeli drones that are being used by the terrorists of DNR (“Donetsk People’s Republic”) and LNR (“Luhansk People’s Republic”) and about the scandalous speech by the Israeli president from the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada where he called Ukrainians and the OUN accomplices of the mass killings of some 1.5 million Jews.

                Three times Israel failed to vote for Ukrainian resolutions in the UN (we have already mentioned one of them). Yes, it supported the UN resolution of December 19, which recognized Crimea as occupied territory and the Russian Federation as the occupying country. However, it is unlikely this was a gift to Ukraine. It was more like a warning to Moscow regarding the settlement resolution.

                Similarly, it is useless to regret that Israel does not recognize the Holodomor as genocide. According to Ihor Semyvolos, this question was removed from voting in the Knesset still in November. There is a similar situation regarding an agreement about a free trade zone. This issue has been discussed for years along with the question on visas.

                There is a problem with the Ukrainian misunderstanding of Israeli reality. Some idolize this country excessively and compare the Palestinian terrorists with the action of the LNR and DNR fighters. But like any analogy it suffers from a number of inaccuracies.

                “We have this image of Israel as a heroic country that we want to resemble, “Semyvolos says. “This is attractive image, and I like it. But it is very different from the real Israel and furthermore from the policies pursued by this Middle Eastern country,” he concludes.

                Netanyahu is not all of Israel.
                Netanyahu’s position on Ukraine has already been sharply criticized by one of the leaders of the largest opposition force in the Knesset, the former minister of foreign affairs Tzipi Livni. The leader of the Hatnua party ( which is included in the Zionist Camp bloc) has sharply criticized the cancellation of the visit of the prime minister of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman to Israel. According to Livni, Israel’s prime minister has a pro-Kremlin position. He had appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to veto the Security Council resolution and was refused.

                “Netanyahu is showing helplessness again. He does not control the situation and does not understand the effectiveness and benefits of his reactions for Israel,” Livni said.

                Actually, we forget that the voting in the Security Council is a personal defeat for Netanyahu. Let us remember, once again, that not only Ukraine voted for the resolution. It was approved by all the other members of the Security Council, even the US (by refusing to veto it). Groysman was unlucky that his visit was scheduled specifically for December 27-28. If the visits of the prime ministers of Great Britain, Spain, Japan or any other country that supported the resolution had been planned for these dates, they would have suffered the same fate.
                Crimea, and why Ukraine could not support Israel -Euromaidan Press |

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                • Kyiv analyst dismisses former Ukrainian PM’s plans for pro-Russian ‘government in exile’
                  EUROMAIDAN PRESS Paul A. Goble 2017/01/10

                  Ruslan Bortnik, the head of the Ukrainian Institute for Analysis and Management, says today that the idea now being floated by former Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov to create a pro-Russian Ukrainian “government in exile” comes too late to have any chance of having an impact.

                  “This initiative could have had a certain effect in 2014 when the political emigration had weight and influence in the information and economic sectors of Ukraine. Thus, the idea about forming a government in exile now is, at a minimum, late and, at a maximum, simply a publicity stunt.”

                  Former Ukrainian officials and politicians like Azarov who was prime minister between 2010 and 2014 have lost all legitimacy in Ukraine, Bortnik says. Indeed, there are “several parallel shadow governments” in Ukraine and Azarov failed in 2015 to create a government in exile. (See this.)

                  Azarov raised the possibility of creating such a government now in an interview with Moscow’s Izvestiya newspaper, encouraged he said by a Moscow court’s decision on December 27 declaring the Euromaidan revolution a coup d’etat and, thus, fundamentally illegitimate.

                  The former Ukrainian official said that conditions for such a government were emerging given what he said was the inability of the ruling elite in Kyiv to “carry out their functions” and the demands of “the people for an alternative power.” Such an organization could then raise issues about Ukraine international courts and other organizations.

                  This last point is why Azarov’s otherwise preposterous suggestion must be noted. Clearly, he and his Moscow sponsors plan to try to use international institutions in that way to discredit the current Ukrainian government, a tactic that unfortunately will attract some support to their cause.
                  Kyiv analyst dismisses former Ukrainian PM’s plans for pro-Russian ‘government in exile’ | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                  • The Splendors and Miseries of Russian special services
                    EUROMAIDAN PRESS Kseniya Kirillova 2017/01/10

                    Because of the spying allegations raging around the US election, many seem to think that the Russian special services are top professionals who are overall invincible. However, in my view, the situation is not so critical as it may seem at first. However alongside “victories,” Moscow has been observed to suffer a number of huge foreign policy defeats in the recent years, the most striking of which were the failed Novorossiya scam project and the scandal with the failed coup in Montenegro.

                    Below I will share my thoughts on the reasons for Russia’s success with regard to its “main enemy” and how it matches its failures in other areas.
                    First, in my opinion, one of the key weaknesses of the Russian special services is the absence of a long-term intricate strategy with regard to every particular country where they are trying to operate.

                    The Russian intelligence (let’s call it the KGB for the purposes of this article because it also includes the efforts made by the Main Intelligence Directorate, the External Intelligence Service and the Federal Security Service) indeed succeeded in the destabilization, misinformation and recruitment, however in all countries it uses one and the same scenario, one and the same pattern which had its own strengths and weaknesses.

                    KGB strong points
                    1. Recruiting Western politicians. One must give the KGB credit for being strong in recruiting Western politicians, using all sorts of means such as business interests, overt bribery, dirty laundry, and the corruption component. Corruption is the main vessel through which Russian influence is trickling from one country to another, especially in the post-Soviet space.

                    2. Exploiting all the contradictions which exist in society and blowing them out of proportion. As I have already said, the key methods of the KGB include using any dirty laundry, any dispute, human weakness, likes and dislikes, hatred, prejudice, fear and so on. These include numerous clichés, labeling, demonization of certain groups of people, ruining of identification, creation of false patterns and clichés which prevent people from treating each other objectively. As a result, even the smallest contradictions are seen as insurmountable while natural difficulties are presented as catastrophes. Distorting the reality and pulling various political and social forces into the war of all against all is KGB’s currently favorite method of destabilization. And Moscow does not despise simultaneously supporting radicals and separatists of the most conflicting ideologies: left and right, and nationalists of all colors.

                    3. To implement the first two methods, “active measures” are being used: lies, propaganda, hacking and false news, which in some cases can also be used to support intrusions by hackers, leaks of compromising information, armies of trolls whose task is to create an illusionary public opinion and many other tools. Namely, these measures attract numerous “useful idiots,” consumers of the Russian propaganda, to the ranks of Russia’s supporters.

                    4. Criminals are used as the main driving force if destabilization evolves into a “hot phase” (the way it happened during the preparations for the occupation of Donbas or the coup in Montenegro).

                    5. Active religious propaganda, or rather the propaganda of an ideology under the disguise of religion, which wraps the Kremlin’s crimes into “Christian values” while Russia is proclaimed as their main defender. This kind of propaganda is successfully used even without a formal connection with Russia when a pro-Russian candidate declares himself or herself as a proxy of numerous churches even when his or her view and actions have nothing to do with the Christian faith.

                    Here the espionage itself (theft of state secrets, military and industrial technologies and so on) doesn’t play the largest part,

                    However, the KGB’s traditional scheme has its own weaknesses, which have already revealed themselves in a number of countries and, hopefully, will do so in the future.

                    KGB weaknesses
                    1. Shortsightedness in seeing the broad picture. Perfectly seeing the contradictions in society and “having built a certain experience” in causing destabilization, planting disagreement and spreading lies, the KGB has traditionally become weaker in assessing the big picture when it comes to the mentality of the nation and its role in the ongoing processes. Namely this erroneous assessment of Ukrainian sentiments pushed Putin towards his insane plan of seizing “Novorossiya,” which ended up a flop. The KGB could not foresee either the patriotic uprising of Ukrainians nor the Western response.

                    As a result of denying the nation its subjectness as such and misunderstanding the processes in society, on a number of issues the Kremlin is in the bondage of its own illusions and demands the impossible, for example, control over the post-Soviet republics. However even if we assume that Putin could ensure control over Ukraine with the help of a sophisticated and crafty policy of “soft power” even after the Euromaidan revolution, the war which he waged averted Ukrainians for many dozens of years, if not for centuries. I have already said that by any stretch of imagination, no-one can give Putin what one does not have, and currently no Western state can make Ukrainians, residents of Poland, the Baltic countries, and South Caucasus love Russia.

                    >>>>>>>

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                    • Russian Special Services Pt 2

                      2. Demanding too much from its partners. Often believing in its own propaganda, the Kremlin acts in a rather rough manner and starts to demand too much from its allies, which can complicate Russia’s relations even with its closest partners. The best examples would be Belarus and Serbia.

                      3. Russia’s interference in the affairs of other countries is clearly visible. Unlike in Soviet times, Russia’s actions are too clumsy nowadays. No matter how much Russian propagandists and their numerous trolls insist that “there are no Russian troops in Ukraine,” not a single specialist or Western intelligence has any doubt that they are there. The recent interference in the US election was so overt and Moscow’s support for Trump so public that anyone wanting to understand the situation could not ignore this.

                      “In America’s case, the Russian special services were simply lucky but I would not call their operation truly professional. They fully ‘exposed’ themselves, which attests to the striking lack of professionalism. As a result, they will never be allowed to repeat it,” the leader of the Democratic Choice party, Vladimir Milov, said.

                      The KGB faced the no less scandalous “exposure” in Montenegro, the only difference being that, unlike in the USA, the Kremlin’s operation to bring its people to power blew up in its face. What is more, Montenegro’s prosecution office directly accused Russia of masterminding an armed coup as it was possible to track back the link between the Russian authorities and the “Montenegrin terrorists” using open-source information or talking to people who earlier communication with Serbian radicals. For instance, Serbian pundit Vencislav Bujic shared a video recording of Aleksandar Sindjelic, the main suspect in a plot to carry out terror acts, boasting having contacts with the Russian Defence Ministry and completing its assignments during the annexation of Crimea.

                      As if it was not enough, the photos of Russian Defence Minister Sergey Lavrov together with the leaders of the radical public organization Zavetnicy (Patrons), which is closely associated with the Montenegrin coup suspects, soon became public.

                      What is more, there is also a photo of one of the “Montenegrin terrorists,” Nemanja Ristić, and Lavrov. A photo showing Ristić and the attache for defence issues at the Russian embassy in Belgrade, Col Andrey Kindyakov, together has not been published yet. According to Vencislav Bujic, the unsuccessful terrorist and the Russian military attache had a rather close relationship.

                      Repressions in Russia, by the way, also give a remote opportunity to determine the key objects of interest of the Russian special services, which increasingly appear to pose no danger to the state. However, they are of interest to the Western intelligence rather than counterintelligence.

                      So far, unfortunately, the efforts to expose Moscow’s aggressive interference in foreign states’ affairs have not brought any practical benefit because the West, due to its weakness and disunity, cannot respond even to such a clear aggression. However, if leaders capable of putting up resistance to the Kremlin’s “active efforts,” which are often nothing else but war crimes, emerge sooner or later, their list of evidence of the KGB deeds will be truly inexhaustible.

                      4. The KGB’s network of influence are made out of people with a dubious reputation. The KGB succeeded in recruiting Western politicians and building its networks of influence on many levels in many countries but the majority of its agents of influence were recruited using money or dirty laundry, to put it simply, they were not the best people of European states. Those who are enlisted by the Kremlin on an “ideological basis” are mostly criminals, radical nationalists or communists or other unattractive individuals. However, intellectuals, honest and principled persons and thoughtful patriots are averse to the Kremlin methods. It is difficult to imagine that today’s Russian special services could recruit a qualified specialist or a politician with at least some moral values on an ideological basis.

                      Russian propaganda consumers often cannot be described as high intellectuals. Although persistent, Russian trolls are rather clumsy, for example, while their guidelines have long been exposed to the public. Fake news stories like those about “Ukrainian saboteurs” were made in such an amateurish manner that they were easy to refute. This means that the best people in the West and in the post-Soviet space remain in opposition to the Kremlin. True, for now these people lack strength to defend their countries but their number is not so small and should not be ignored.

                      5. Like at the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, Russia still cannot offer any attractive model of development and preferable future while its economy continues to cripple. What is more, as it was earlier said, Putin has no strategy but a short-term tactic of fighting with the West.

                      All these factors give hope that the KGB will lose the same way it did during the first Cold War. The main problem which remains is that before this defeat, Russia can cause (and is already causing) irreparable damage. Some consequences of this damage can last for decades and it is impossible to bring back the lost lives.
                      The Splendors and Miseries of Russian special services -Euromaidan Press |

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                      • Dnipro will not let Ukraine’s space glory be forgotten
                        EUROMAIDAN PRESS Olena Makarenko 2017/01/10

                        The city of Dnipro is located on the banks of the Dnipro river, and seems to be an ordinary large city with a concentration of metallurgical industry. However, the difference from other industrial cities is huge. Dnipro used to be a cluster for rocket production for the entire Soviet Union. The highest quality rockets were produced there and it was Dnipro where the USSR built its scariest intercontinental ballistic missile R-36 (SS-18 “Satan” by NATO classification). After the collapse of the USSR, Ukraine decided not to be a nuclear state. So, the construction lines for these strategic missiles were shut down. Unfortunately, this heritage of a large-scale advanced space industrial base, one of the few good inheritances from the Soviet Union, was faced with significant difficulties in this post-Soviet era.

                        In his youth, Viktor Moysa was a mechanical engineer at the Production Association “Southern Machine-Building Plant named after A.M. Makarov” (Pivdenmash). For about 16 years now, he has tried to keep the memories of the company’s past glory alive by working as a manager at A.M Makarov National Aerospace Educational Center for Youth. He admires the legendary engineers who used to work here and praises some of their projects. He is skeptical about Ukraine’s decision to give up its nuclear status after the fall of the USSR.

                        Let’s take a closer look at the heart of Ukraine’s space industry.

                        How it all started in Dnipro
                        The rocket production in Dnipro was started on the eve of the Cold War. The US decided to use rocket technology to deliver weapons. A German aerospace engineer, Wernher von Braun, created his first V2 rocket in 1943 during World War II. After the war, the US captured him along with about 700 other German rocket designers and offered them jobs. As the Soviet Union had few of its own specialists in the field of rocketry, for about 2 years it explored the German experience in ballistic missile design. After that, a new goal was set for the Soviet Union’s rocket scientists – to re-create the V2 design using only Soviet-made materials. This goal was reached in 1948, under the leadership of the rocket engineer Serhiy Korolev, a small experimental factory in Dnipro reached this goal. The next goal was to create rockets which could reach the US. Even though the design did not reach the stated goal, the Soviet military decided to use the missile. However, at that time, the Dnipro-based facility was only a small experimental factory, which did not have a capacity required to manufacture the needed quantities of the missiles. In 1951, a new larger factory was built in Dnipro, in what used to be a huge automobile factory.

                        Before building the factory, a special government commission was working on selecting a region in the Soviet Union where it should be built. The city of Dnipro was chosen as the best location for the following reasons:

                        --At that time, the population of Dnipro was relatively small (just over a half a million people), which meant it could easily be closed to foreigners. (The city remained closed until the end of 80’s.)
                        --The city is located on the banks of a big river, thus making transporting large rockets easier by water.
                        --5 technical universities were already located in the city and provided a plentiful supply of engineers.
                        --And last, but not least, the city had enormous metallurgical industrial base. After the liberation from the Nazis in 1943, it became a large center of metallurgy in the south of the USSR.

                        In 1944, while WWII was still going on, an automobile factory was built in Dnipro. In 1951, the construction of automobiles there was stopped and moved to Naberezhnye Chelny (now is known as “KAMAZ” company). The remaining facility in Dnipro was subordinated to the Ministry of Defense and tasked to manufacture state-of-the-art missiles.

                        The achievements in rocketry for the military
                        While the city, with its factory and its design office, was an active participant in one of the most dangerous periods of world history – the Cold War, being involved in the design and production of military missiles gave a huge boost to the development of Dnipro’s space industry.

                        By 1954, the missiles produced in Dnipro did not meet the requirements of the military, because of their limited active duty duration. So, the Soviet Government decided that Serhiy Korolev’s design bureau would focus on space activities, while another entity will be created for the military needs. Mykhailo Yangel was appointed its chief designer. His company delivered a new missile design with advanced characteristics in 1957. And in 1959, the company started producing the Soviet Union’s first strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles.

                        The arms race was in its height. The Soviet Union continued to perfect its proven 15A14 (R-36M) missile design in Dnipro over the course of 20 years. By its end, the missile was able to deliver multiple warheads. It was also equipped with sophisticated decoys, such as a cloud of metal needles, which render enemy radars useless.

                        The missile was given the name “Satan” by NATO. Until recently, it was one of the threatening missiles in the world. It is still an important part of the Russian strategic missile forces. [Although now, due to the Russo-Ukrainian war after the Russian occupation of Crimea and the eastern Donbas, the maintenance of Ukrainian-produced components for the missiles by Pivdenmash has been stopped and the Russian Ministry of Defense has not been able to find a solution so far. – Editor]


                        The birth of the space industry in Dnipro
                        While the new design bureau was dealing with military missiles that delivered warheads, Korolev continued to work on space applications for rocket technology. He launched the first satellite around the Earth (the famous Sputnik) and also wanted to send a human to space. He did it under the constant pressure from the government, which pushed him to accelerate his work to make the Soviet Union first in the space race. As a result, in 1961, Yuriy Gagarin became the first man in space. The next challenge for Korolev and his small experimental factory was delivering space technology for exploring the near Earth space.

                        He asked for support from Mykhailo Yangel, whose enterprise that was funded by the military, had much bigger capabilities. In 1958, a new mission – space exploration – was the became the focus of Dnipro’s largest aerospace company. And in 1962, it sent its first Earth satellite into orbit.

                        The satellite design has some shortcomings, but fixing them required more investment than the USSR could provide. So, Yangel suggested getting the investment money abroad. The Soviet authorities considered this a very impudent request. But months later, after rethinking his request, the government decided to accommodate this approach via the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

                        There Yangel opened the first international space program in the world, which was named Interkosmos. The countries of the Warsaw Pact, other socialists countries, Syria, India and France joined the program. Interkosmos designed more than three hundred Earth satellites and sent them into space. All of them were built at the Dnipro factory.

                        When the Soviet military realized the range of capabilities of some of these satellites, they asked for new designs capable of remote sensing the Earth’s surface. This led to Soviet reconnaissance satellites that could reveal locations of enemy rockets. To counter this Soviet capability the United States had to build more rockets and mask them more carefully.

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                        • Ukraine's Space Glory Pt 2

                          According to Viktor Moysa, the historian of the Dnipro space industry, the company has launched more than 1100 satellites into space and 400 of them were designed in Dnipro. All the satellites were sent into space by launch rockets that were also made in Dnipro. They were developed using the military missile design as its base. It enabled the conversion of some military rockets to peaceful aims.

                          Viktor explained how it was done: “If military rockets were already located in a launch area, we removed assembled military stages and installed additional upper stages and satellites…”

                          Because of this conversion of old military equipment, launching satellites became much cheaper. These launches cost the Soviet Union ten times less than the original price. Such inexpensive launches led to a situation where Dnipro was entrusted with the whole program of near-Earth space exploration, as well as the program for monitoring the Earth and part of the solar exploration program.

                          The pride of the company: Zenit and Antares
                          In 1982, the engineers faced a bigger challenge – launching a satellite which weighed 6.5 metric tonnes. It was impossible to do this with old military rockets, while it was not permitted to use the Satan missile for a non-military purpose. So, for the first time in Dnipro’s history, it was decided to develop an entirely peaceful and ecologically-friendly space launch vehicle. It was named Zenit (“Zenith” in English).

                          Ten years after its creation, a consortium of four companies from Norway, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, managed by Boeing decided to start the program of the Sea Launch.

                          Zenit exceeded all expectations. Its designers proposed that the preparation to a launch of the rocket in the conditions of the Pacific Ocean Offshore Waters will be done automatically without human involvement. And the preparation to the start will take 3-4 hours. To compare, a competitive bid from the US specified 200 people and 3-7 days. Zenit won.

                          Since then, 36 launches were made from the Sea Platform. The last launch took place in 2014.

                          Despite the fact that during the last 30 years Zenit has been the best launch vehicle in its class, which is in demand on the international market, Viktor suggests that the launch of it in 2014 could have been the last one:

                          “The rocket was made by Ukraine together with Russia. We know the relationships between the two countries during the last 2 years. Ukraine cannot make this rocket without Russia. And Russia cannot make it without Ukraine. Around 2,000 enterprises took part in constructing it. More than 70% are placed in the Russian Federation. To use new components, a new design is needed, and new tests. Ukraine has no money for that. And Russia also does not have it, by the way.”

                          When the US renewed its program for a launch vehicle to visit the International Space Station, it started the project Antares. The Pivdenne Design Bureau was chosen to design and manufacture of the first stage of the vehicle. Since 2013, 6 launches with the first stage of Ukrainian rocket have already taken place.

                          In 2016, the Pivdenne Design Bureau had orders for six new Antares stages. Unfortunately, these were the only orders space-related orders the bureau won in 2016.

                          “We do not have other orders. With the ability to make a hundred of rockets per year, we make six. How do we cope? Before the Soviet Union’s collapse, 52,000 people used to work there. Now there are only 5,000,” explains Viktor.

                          The perspectives of the factory and the field
                          The construction of the military rockets in Dnipro became history since Ukraine signed the Budapest Memorandum and became a country free from nuclear weapons in 1994. However, according to Oleksiy Kulik, the Deputy General Director for Science and Education of the Ukrainian Youth National Aerospace Education Center, Pivdenmash can construct other kinds of weapons:

                          “Pivdenmash can produce small operational-tactical missile systems which are needed for our country to protect itself from external aggressors. It can produce small arms, artillery, grenade launcher systems. However, I am talking about weapons, which Ukraine needs for its defense.”

                          Talking about the space market, Ukraine’s plans are ambitious – to stay among the world’s leaders of the rocket and space industry and to take part in Moon exploration programs. One of the aims is to create its own group of spacecraft for the needs of the country. According to Olekisiy Kulik, there are some problems with this:

                          “Despite Ukraine being a space-faring nation, in fact, it has none of its own satellites. It is due to a break in cooperation between countries which remained after the Soviet Union collapse, the international cooperation between Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. It was working efficiently until the last events. Ukraine could not have not have its own spacecraft, but could take part in their developments. Today, the vector of partnerships changed dramatically, the question of creation its own independent satellite systems became very relevant.”

                          Another part of the problem, according to the expert, is that Ukrainian space programs did not intend to develop entire satellite systems. As there were no orders from the state, there was no financing for that and, thus, challenges were left unaddressed.

                          “Today no country can implement large-scale projects alone. It’s relevant when talking about the International Space Station, the Sea Launch and Antares. Until recently, the US had used Russian engines in its launch rockets. There was similar situation in Ukraine. Now Russia has the world’s monopoly on the engines. Only China, India, South Korea and Japan make their own ones. However, because of the number of specifications, they do not meet requirements for Ukrainian launch vehicles,” says the expert.

                          According to him, the solution for Ukraine can be only producing its own engines, giving the country independence from Russia in this area.

                          In any case, Ukraine is a part of the global space industry market. And today the market is changing. Before it was represented by state monopolies, but now private enterprises have taken leadership.

                          “Two years ago there was about 80% underfunding from the state. However, we can not put all the blame on the state. Because of events which are happening, investors do not want to come here. However, the absence of state orders stimulated the development of marketing services for space enterprises. These services started to look for orders all over the world. Now it is the period of order formation. Also, we observe resistance from some key players, which do not want Ukraine to enter the international market with its technologies,” explained Kulik.

                          Oleksiy Kulik also teaches students at a university and says that many of them chose space-related majors not because they want to work in the field after graduation, but because they realize that knowledge of aerospace engineering will open doors for them in any engineering job:

                          “Any state, which respects itself, seeks technological advancement. And there is nothing higher than rocket and space industry. Neither IT, nor computers. Ukraine received such a unique gift. If we do not maintain it, then we are not worth even a penny. Then indeed we become an agrarian country and nothing else.”

                          According to the most recent report, in 2016, Pivdenmash had to overcome the peak of the crisis of production caused by the break of its established supply chain with Russia. In 2017, it is expected that the utilization of its manufacturing capacity will be doubled.
                          Dnipro will not let Ukraine’s space glory be forgotten | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

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                            • How we fool ourselves on Russia
                              NY TIMES WILLIAM J. BURNS JAN. 7, 2017

                              In the quarter-century since the end of the Cold War, profound grievances, misperceptions and disappointments have often defined the relationship between the United States and Russia. I lived through this turbulence during my years as a diplomat in Moscow, navigating the curious mix of hope and humiliation that I remember so vividly in the Russia of Boris N. Yeltsin, and the pugnacity and raw ambition of Vladimir V. Putin’s Kremlin. And I lived through it in Washington, serving both Republican and Democratic administrations.

                              There have been more than enough illusions on both sides. The United States has oscillated between visions of an enduring partnership with Moscow and dismissing it as a sulking regional power in terminal decline. Russia has moved between notions of a strategic partnership with the United States and a later, deeper desire to upend the current international order, where a dominant United States consigns Russia to a subordinate role.

                              The reality is that our relationship with Russia will remain competitive, and often adversarial, for the foreseeable future. At its core is a fundamental disconnect in outlook and about each other’s role in the world.

                              It is tempting to think that personal rapport can bridge this disconnect and that the art of the deal can unlock a grand bargain. That is a foolish starting point for sensible policy. It would be especially foolish to think that Russia’s deeply troubling interference in our election can or should be played down, however inconvenient.

                              President Putin’s aggressive election meddling, like his broader foreign policy, has at least two motivating factors. The first is his conviction that the surest path to restoring Russia as a great power comes at the expense of an American-led order. He wants Russia unconstrained by Western values and institutions, free to pursue a sphere of influence.

                              The second motivating factor is closely connected to the first. The legitimacy of Mr. Putin’s system of repressive domestic control depends on the existence of external threats. Surfing on high oil prices, he used to be able to bolster his social contract with the Russian people through rising standards of living. That was clear in the boomtown Moscow I knew as the American ambassador a decade ago, full of the promise of a rising middle class and the consumption of an elite convinced that anything worth doing was worth overdoing. But Mr. Putin has lost that card in a world of lower energy prices and Western sanctions, and with a one-dimensional economy in which real reform is trumped by the imperative of political control and the corruption that lubricates it.

                              The ultimate realist, Mr. Putin understands Russia’s relative weakness, but regularly demonstrates that declining powers can be at least as disruptive as rising powers. He sees a target-rich environment all around him.

                              If he can’t easily build Russia up, he can take the United States down a few pegs, with his characteristic tactical agility and willingness to play rough and take risks. If he can’t have a deferential government in Kiev, he can grab Crimea and try to engineer the next best thing, a dysfunctional Ukraine. If he can’t abide the risk of regime upheaval in Syria, he can flex Russia’s military muscle, emasculate the West, and preserve Bashar al-Assad atop the rubble of Aleppo. If he can’t directly intimidate the European Union, he can accelerate its unraveling by supporting anti-Union nationalists and exploiting the wave of migration spawned in part by his own brutality. Wherever he can, he exposes the seeming hypocrisy and fecklessness of Western democracies, blurring the line between fact and fiction.

                              So what to do? Russia is still too big, proud and influential to ignore and still the only nuclear power comparable to the United States. It remains a major player on problems from the Arctic to Iran and North Korea. We need to focus on the critical before we test the desirable. The first step is to sustain, and if necessary amplify, the actions taken by the Obama administration in response to Russian hacking. Russia challenged the integrity of our democratic system, and Europe’s 2017 electoral landscape is the next battlefield.

                              A second step is to reassure our European allies of our absolute commitment to NATO. American politicians tell one another to “remember your base,” and that’s what should guide policy toward Russia. Our network of allies is not a millstone around America’s neck, but a powerful asset that sets us apart.

                              A third step is to stay sharply focused on Ukraine, a country whose fate will be critical to the future of Europe, and Russia, over the next generation. This is not about NATO or European Union membership, both distant aspirations. It is about helping Ukrainian leaders build the successful political system that Russia seeks to subvert.

                              Finally, we should be wary of superficially appealing notions like a common war on Islamic extremism or a common effort to “contain” China. Russia’s bloody role in Syria makes the terrorist threat far worse and despite long-term concerns about a rising China, Mr. Putin has little inclination to sacrifice a relationship with Beijing.

                              I’ve learned a few lessons during my diplomatic career, often the hard way. I learned to respect Russians and their history and vitality. I learned that it rarely pays to neglect or underestimate Russia, or display gratuitous disrespect. But I also learned that firmness and vigilance, and a healthy grasp of the limits of the possible, are the best way to deal with the combustible combination of grievance and insecurity that Vladimir Putin embodies. I’ve learned that we have a much better hand to play with Mr. Putin than he does with us. If we play it methodically, confident in our enduring strengths, and unapologetic about our values, we can eventually build a more stable relationship, without illusions. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/07/o...on-russia.html

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                              • The Daily Vertical Brian Whitmore Jan 09, 2017
                                Putin's New Year
                                The Daily Vertical: Putin's New Year

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