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Struggle against fake information about events in Ukraine
Updated: 21 min 39 sec ago

Russian Media: Ukraine-EU Summit Complete Failure

Thu, 08/24/2017 - 00:45

Summit failure, a most dire summit, a summit that ends in zilch – this is how scores of Russian media described the EU-Ukraine summit that took place in Kyiv last week. Focusing on what they called the growing disagreements between Ukrainian and European politicians and the lack of a final communique, Russian media generally concluded that the summit ended in disaster.

Website screenshot vesti.ru

Website screenshot lenta.ru

Russian site Vesti called the summit the biggest failure since such summits began 19 years ago. Lenta.ru called the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement which is now ratified by all members of the EU and Ukraine long suffering and said that EU officials only talked about corruption during the summit. Ukraine and the EU have reached a dead end in their relations Lenta.ru announced, and this can quickly lead to cooling in the relationship. The absence of a final summit communique revealed fundamental differences between members of the European community, declared RIA Novosti, Moskovskyi Komsomolec proclaimed that Ukrainian diplomacy has exhausted Europe, Life news announced that Ukraine’s  European aspirations ended in a scandal and Russian Defense Ministry’s organ Zvezda said the EU Ukraine summit ended in zilch.

Website screenshot crimea.kp.ru

Despite the fact that the meeting did not produce a final communique, the EU presented quite a different picture of the summit.   European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Ukraine had taken more steps in the last three years than in the previous twenty and should be proud of what it has achieved. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the absence of a final statement was insignificant in light of what has been accomplished. Politico pointed out that while the summit celebrated Ukraine and the EU’s growing closeness, it also highlighted points of tension between the two sides.

The European online newspaper EUobserver pointed out that the summit was first and foremost about deepening ties between Ukraine and the EU as the Association Agreement has now been ratified by the European Union  and is already being implemented, resulting in a 17 percent trade increase in the first quarter of this year compared to early last year.

 

Categories: World News

Russian news outlets fined for sharing profane rap battle video

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 16:02

Rap artists Oxxxymiron and Slava KPSS Screenshot Youtube

By The Moscow Times

Russia’s media watchdog Roskomonadzor announced on Monday it was bringing fines against six news outlets for sharing a video of an expletive-ridden rap battle between Russian rappers Oxxxymiron and Slava KPSS.

Six outlets including the RIA Novosti news agency and the opposition-leaning Dozhd television channel will be forced to pay 50,000 ruble ($850) fines for violating laws on broadcasting profanity. An additional 26 media outlets that shared links to the video are to receive warning letters.

The video, uploaded to YouTube on Aug. 6, features a rap battle between veterans Oxxxymiron and Slava KPSS in St. Petersburg. With more than 10 million views in 24 hours, the video took the Russian internet by storm and even provoked divisive reactions from high-profile politicians.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny praised the performance on Facebook, referring to it as “postmodern poetry,” while Russian MP Gennady Onishchenko compared the scenes to a street brawl.

In 2014, Vladimir Putin signed a law into effect that prohibits the use of profane language in the public sphere, including in written, televised and radio broadcasted media as well as in films, theatrical productions and concerts.

By The Moscow Times

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Russia’s media watchdog Roskomonadzor announced on Monday it was bringing fines against six news outlets for sharing a video of an expletive-ridden rap battle between Russian rappers Oxxxymiron and Slava KPSS.Перевести

Roskomonadzor — нет перевода. [—] . Смотрите также:

Categories: World News

Fake Guardian Article On ‘Collapsing Russia’ Plan Finds Receptive Audience…On Russian State TV

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 14:49

The fake article in question appeared on August 12 on a website faithfully mimicking the actual Guardian site

By Carl Schreck, for RFE/RL

A fake article attributing explosive claims about Russia to the former chief of British intelligence was quickly debunked last week after it appeared on a site that looked nearly identical to that of the British newspaper The Guardian.

But that didn’t stop one of Russia’s most famous television personalities from citing the fake article, which included fabricated quotes — often in clunky English — attributed to former MI6 head John Scarlett about an alleged secret plan aimed at “collapsing Russia.”

Vladimir Solovyov, the host of one of Russia’s most popular political talk shows, opened a discussion by citing the claims in the hoax article during the August 20 broadcast of Sunday Evening, his weekly program.

The show aired at least five days after a Guardian spokesman confirmed it was “a fake story…on a fake site purporting to be The Guardian” and two days after a Guardian article quoted experts saying they suspected “Kremlin supporters” were to blame.

“An interview was published — some say it’s true, some say it’s not — that says a rather noted former English spy says that their plans after the [2008] war in Georgia were the following: seize the Caucasus, use the Caucasus to break apart Russia, and use radical Islam as a weapon,” Solovyov said.

WATCH: Solovyov’s comments can be seen around the 12:30 mark.

It was quite a stretch for the TV and radio host, who has been granted high-profile interviews with Russian President Vladimir Putin, to suggest there was some debate about the veracity of the quotes attributed to Scarlett.

The fake article in question appeared on August 12 on a website faithfully mimicking the actual Guardian site and using a URL that, on first glance, could be mistaken for the real one used by the newspaper. (The hoax site used a Turkish character in place of the ‘i’ in the publication’s actual URL, theguardian.com.)

The fabricated quotes attributed to Scarlett lay out an alleged British-U.S. conspiracy to use the rise of Mikheil Saakashvili, the pro-Western former president of Georgia, in 2003 and a “fictitious quarrel between Ukraine and Russia” as part of a strategy for Russia’s “re-disintegration.”

Days after it was published under the headline Former MI6 Chief Admits Defeat To Putin On The Russia Fragmentation Strategic Plan, the hoax was debunked by The Guardian.

TV host Vladimir Solovyov: “These days it’s difficult to verify practically any facts”

Then word of the deception appeared in Russian on the Kremlin-loyal national broadcaster Ren-TV’s website on August 15, just hours after it published a report suggesting Scarlett had given the interview to the actual Guardian.

The only outright defense of the fake article publicly proffered by any of the parties involved came from an individual who claimed to have translated the hoax into Russian.

“Seems like the Guardian has two websites –, a real one and a fake one — and they did it themselves,” BuzzFeed quoted the individual as saying in its investigation into the hoax.

The BuzzFeed investigation found that the fake article was linked to other fabricated articles — also translated into Russian — that were made to appear as if they were published by prominent foreign media outlets.

Solovyov was quickly called out for lending credence to the fake Guardian article after his August 20 program aired, including in an article in the popular Russian daily newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets headlined: Solovyov Passed Off Fake Interview As Real Plan To Break Up Russia.

Aleksei Kovalyov, the proprietor of Noodle Remover, a project that debunks fallacious Russian media reports, regularly tracks anti-Western articles of dubious veracity and origin that are translated and picked up by prominent Russian news outlets.

Kovalyov, who is also critical of what he sees as overzealous attempts to blame the Kremlin for political discord in the West, wrote in an August 21 blog post that the fake Guardian article “was thrown out there specifically” so that people “like Solovyov can lie about it on television.”

Solovyov, for his part, took to Twitter to defend himself from critics who pilloried him for citing the hoax article.

“These days it’s difficult to verify practically any facts,” he wrote in an August 21 tweet. “Referencing it, I expressed doubt. This gave viewers a chance to check it out for themselves and decide.”

Сейчас практически все факты сложно поверить. Ссылаясь , я высказал сомнения. Тем самым дав зрителям возможность самим проверить и решить.

— Vladimir Soloviev (@VRSoloviev) August 21, 2017

By Carl Schreck, for RFE/RL

Categories: World News

Kremlin Watch Monitor. August 23, 2017

Wed, 08/23/2017 - 13:56

Weekly Update on the Kremlin Disinformation Efforts

The Obama administration was warned about the Kremlin’s subversive activities in 2014. In light of these revelations, the fact that the United States failed to take any serious action to pre-empt the Kremlin’s attempts to interfere with its electoral process is all the more serious. According to Politico, the administration had sufficient intelligence indicating that the Russian government sought to disrupt Western democratic systems, but either did not believe that the Kremlin had the will and capacity to reach the United States, or decided that it would be too risky to antagonize the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian separatists sentence blogger for 14 years. The so-called military court in the “Luhansk People’s Republic” sentenced two Ukrainians to 14 and 12 years respectively for “state treason” because they were involved in spreading negative information on the Internet.  According to Halya Coynash, one of the “traitors” might be Edward Nedelyaev, a blogger from Luhansk.

Wanted: Chief Adviser for the Creative Content Support Fund

The European Endowment for Democracy in Brussels is looking for a Chief Adviser to assist the EED in setting up a new independent media initiative – the Content Fund. If you have an inclusive leadership style, experience with management, understand the media environment, have a good working knowledge of the Eastern Partnership countries, and speak fluent Russian, you can submit your application until Tuesday 5 September 2017. You can find more information here.

Putin’s Champion Award

Our Expert Jury consisting of Jessikka Aro, Peter Kreko, Nerijus Maliukevičius, Anton Shekhovtsov and John Schindler regularly votes on the dangerousness of several candidates you can nominate via e-mail or Twitter.

The 15th Putin’s Champion Award Recipient is:

Leader of the German political party FDP

Christian Lindner

For supporting the Kremlin’s aggressive foreign policy by suggesting that Germany shall accept that Russia has illegally annexed part of Ukraine.

Dirk Vorderstraße, CC 3.0

The Expert Jury ranked his Putin-supportive job with

3.6

(out of 5) mark.

The rating signals how much the recipient contributed to the interest of the Putin’s aggressive regime. It is calculated as an average of ratings assessed by the Expert Jury of this Award.

You can find more details about the award and the former recipients here.

Kremlin Watch Reading Suggestion

Active measures: Russia’s key export;

by Jolanta Darczewska and Piotr Żochowski, published by OSW – Centre for Eastern Studies

Read the full study here.

The special services have always played a crucial role in the Soviet Union and in modern Russia, and have become notorious for serving the interests of their country by employing so-called “active measures”, which include a variety of methods ranging from propaganda or espionage to actions involving violence. Nowadays, we can very well observe how Russia is using active measures to achieve its geopolitical goals, which is why it is important to have both the historical perspective and current information about Russian covert mechanisms.

As for the present situation, we can understand a lot about the role of the of the so-called “force sector” in Russia and its methods by analysing Russian strategic documents. Very important here is the notion of the aggressive West that perpetually violates Russia’s vital interests. While in the 1990s, more “superficial” topics were emphasised, at present the civilizational and spiritual threat is in the foreground: the West is considered to be a threat to Russian culture and traditional values. The idea of the West as a threat grants the special services the role of defenders and justifies many of their actions. Today’s active measures focus more on the information space, aim mainly to create crises in other countries, and are primarily being conducted in most European countries.

Good Old Soviet Joke

An American is visiting the Soviet Union. He’s taking a train from Leningrad to Kiev and listening to his handheld radio when a Soviet man leans over to talk to him.

“You know, we make those better and more efficiently here in the Soviet Union,” he says.

“Oh?” Says the American.

“Yes,” the Soviet man responds. “What is it?”

Euroatlantic experts on disinformation warfare

Shashi Jayakumar from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore advocates for local NGOs, the private sector, and academia to start researching and preventing the threat of subversive hostile influence before it increases.

In her article for oDR, Daria Skibo maps out the environment in Russia under the Foreign Agent law and highlights how NGOs are preventing the situation from worsening through cooperation and solidarity.

Kremlin Watch is a strategic program of the European Values Think-Tank, which aims to expose and confront instruments of Russian influence and disinformation operations focused against liberal-democratic system.

Categories: World News

StopFake #145 [ENG] with Luc Chenier

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 17:22

The latest edition of StopFake News with Kyiv Post CEO Luc Chenier. Among the disinformation debunked is a story a fringe American web site claiming that the US supports right radicals and fascists in Ukraine, we set the record straight on the Ukrainian navy which is definitely alive and kicking and deforestation in Ukraine, who’s doing it and who’s lying about it.

Categories: World News

Almost 50 Percent of Russians Consider Geopolitical Dominance Top Priority

Mon, 08/21/2017 - 09:34

Stanislav Krasilnikov / TASS

Russians consider it less important for their government to promote cooperation than to re-assert Russia’s position on the world stage, a recent survey conducted by the independent pollster Levada Center shows.

The poll published on Thursday showed that 59 percent of respondents think that Russia’s foreign policy goal should be to promote a peaceful and safe existence for the country.

Forty-nine percent, however, considered the main priority to re-establish Russia’s authority “as one of the most influential countries in the world, without which not a single important question can be solved.”

Almost one-quarter of respondents, 21 percent, said they considered the Kremlin’s most important task to resist European and U.S. influence. Another 14 percent considered it important to “expand Russia’s borders.”

Only 27 percent of those questioned thought it was most important to maintain positive relations with more advanced countries and 21 percent upheld cooperation with other countries on conflict zones and combatting terrorism as a priority.

The survey allowed respondents to choose multiple answers.

The poll was conducted between June 23-26 among 1,600 participants in 48 regions.

By The Moscow Times

Categories: World News

The Daily Vertical: Lukashenka the ‘good cop’? (Transcript)

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 13:20

Brian Whitmore

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL

So it appears there will be a degree of transparency in next month’s massive Zapad 2017 war games after all.

Scores of observers from NATO and non-NATO countries, as well as from the OSCE and the Red Cross have been invited to attend Russia’s largest military exercises since the Cold War.

Regular briefings are taking place. And efforts have been made to reach out to — and assuage the fears of — neighboring countries such as Ukraine, Poland, and the Baltic states.

But here’s the thing. Those efforts are not coming from Russia.

They’re coming from Belarus, which will participate in the exercises and host their largest component.

This is partially out of self-interest. There has been much speculation and anxiety in Minsk that Russia will use the exercises to tighten its grip on Belarus, perhaps stealthily leaving troops behind.

Moreover, Belarus does not want to be drawn into a conflict between Russia and NATO — and wants to distance itself from any attempt to use the exercises as a psychological operation to unnerve the West.

Ever the gamer, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka wants to keep his options open and play both sides.

But that said, it is also highly unlikely that Lukashenka would reach out to the West the way he has without at least tacit consent from Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

Which raises the question of whether Russia and Belarus are simply playing the old good-cop-bad-cop game with the West.

But, if that is the case, what does it say about the Putin regime when it uses the likes of Lukashenka as its “good cop”?

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL

Categories: World News

Fighting the American ‘occupation’ of Romania

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 12:55

By Corina Rebegea, for CEPA

The injection of anti-West narratives in online media and social platforms has become business as usual in Romania. The country’s pro-Kremlin disinformation ecosystem now includes fringe religious, nationalist or “anti-system” groups that adopt narratives concocted in Kremlin-sponsored laboratories. One such narrative describes the negative effects of Romania’s NATO membership and alliance with the United States. But in certain political contexts, these narratives get amplified in mainstream media by credible or popular voices, expanding their target audience beyond any credible expectations of the Russian propaganda machine.

A new wave of anti-Americanism made its way into Romania in early July, after the government acquired the Patriot defense system. As a report published by a Bucharest research group shows, the fiercest attacks came from mainstream opinion leaders, journalists and politicians—lending the pro-Kremlin propaganda machine a hand in spreading its anti-Western, anti-American disinformation to a broader audience than it could ever reach through its own channels.

Recent illustrations of such contamination of the mainstream media space are worrisome. High-visibility personalities not associated with the pro-Russian propaganda machine often become multipliers of Kremlin-generated stories, such as those about foreign interference (by George Soros, the United States, the European Union, etc.) in Romania’s domestic affairs and the hijacking of Romania’s national interests by its Western partners. Mainstream politicians like social democrat Liviu Plesoianu become endorsers of narratives that benefit the Kremlin and hurt Romania’s Western outlook. Others fall prey to propaganda themselves and spread the same narratives that Sputnik News can harness to make its disinformation campaigns more credible.

The Patriot story offered Russian propaganda a new boost in reviving the main anti-American elements: Romania is a U.S. vassal or colony; NATO and the United States put Romania in danger and make it a target for Russian self-defensive actions; Romania cannot make decisions for itself, and its foreign and domestic policies are directed from abroad; leaders in Bucharest are sold to foreign powers; Romanians not only suffer from increased insecurity, but also poverty as resources are shifted to defense rather than social needs. In all these instances, the United States is portrayed as the invader, as a very suggestive map posted on Facebook shows. On the contrary, Russia is surrounded and forced to react to the aggression.

A peculiar but older narrative criticizes the relocation of nuclear warheads from Turkey to Romania. Its proponents have recently renewed this story in order to spread fear and reinforce the idea—commonly used in the Patriot case—that Romanian authorities are making deals or are forced to accept deals in a non-transparent way that will put Romanians in danger. Knowingly or not, conspiracy websites such as those predicting Russia will start World War III also offer a breeding ground for propaganda and fear-mongering. Apart from the panic-laden articles and commentaries, humor also is utilized to ridicule U.S. troops and Romania’s submissive attitude.

All these themes are systematically inserted in various media or Facebook pages and are likely to find enough fertile ground among average Romanians. Such interpretations of Romania’s relations with allies will sound familiar as Romanians who were exposed to similar narratives in the 1990s, when a famous slogan was “We won’t sell our country!” They also offer a good trigger for so-called mainstream opinion leaders or influencers to reactivate some of the anti-West skepticism of the early post-communist transition years to support their populist or nationalist political agendas. This should sound an important alarm—not necessarily about the consistency of Russian influence in Romania, but rather about the unpreparedness of legitimate media to pre-empt it by instituting better filters and offering average Romanians responsible and soundly documented journalism.

Photo: U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Kaitlyn V. Klein

By Corina Rebegea, for CEPA

Corina Rebegea is Director of the U.S.-Romania Initiative and Fellow-in-Residence

Categories: World News

Pro-Kremlin tabloid TV network is reportedly shutting down and laying off all staff

Sat, 08/19/2017 - 11:13

By Meduza

The pro-Kremlin television network Life, owned by Aram Gabrelyanov’s “News Media,” will shut down on August 18, company sources told the news agency TASS. The news website FlashNord confirms that the tabloid TV station will close down and lay off all its staff today.

On August 16, citing Gabrelyanov himself, the news agency RBC reported that Life’s television network was planning major cutbacks and abandoning its production of news stories, but would still remain on the air.

The Life television network launched in September 2013. Aram Gabrelyanov says he invested as much as $30 million in the project, planning to develop a TV station that would resemble SkyNews.

By Meduza
Categories: World News

Fake: Ukraine’s Navy Ceases to Exist

Fri, 08/18/2017 - 17:05

Russian pro-Kremlin site Ukraina.ru ran a story this week claiming that Ukraine’s former naval commander had announced that the country’s fleet had ceased to exist. Ukraina.ru once again resorted to one of their favorite modus operandi, pulling phrases out of context and drawing false conclusions that satisfy the anti-Ukrainian agenda of servile Russian media.

Website screenshot ukraina.ru

Lenta.ru, Russian Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda, Zhurnalistskaya Pravda and others quickly followed suit.

Website screenshot radiosvoboda.org

Here’s what really happened.

During Radio Liberty’s Your Liberty talk show, former Ukrainian naval commander vice admiral Serhiy Hayduk stated that the state of Ukraine’s navy is critical. “If we don’t start paying attention to this multifaceted operation of ships, land and air forces, they will go beyond their expiration date and cease to exist as such” Hayduk said. Ukraine does not have a Naval Doctrine; there is no naval development strategy in place, no state program of shipbuilding, the vice admiral pointed out. If you don’t have a doctrine how can you protect national interests and promote the navy, he asked.

Another guest of the Radio Liberty program was the Ukrainian naval spokesman Oleh Chubuk who pointed out that Ukraine’s fleet deteriorated significantly after the annexation of Crimea, where the fleet was originally based. He pointed out that Ukraine is rebuilding its naval infrastructure and improving its naval combat and troop capability.

Website screenshot mil.gov.ua

According to Ukraine’s 2016 White Book, an annual military activity and development report compiled by the Defense Ministry, the Ukrainian navy has added a new armed to its naval arsenal, introduced a new mobile communications system and is in the process of modernizing its frigate the Sahaydachnyi. The Navy is conducting joint training of personnel with NATO forces.

Website screenshot mil.gov.ua

Ukraine’s Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak has declared 2017 the year of the Navy, making this segment of Ukraine’s armed forces a priority for expansion and development.

 

Categories: World News

Fake: Luhansk Facing Environmental Disaster Because Of Ukrainian Military Deforestation

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 22:10

The so-called Luhansk People’s Republic, one of the self-proclaimed separatist entities in eastern Ukraine is disseminating fakes claiming that Ukrainian military are illegally logging the area’s forests, thereby setting the region on a toward an environmental catastrophe. Other Russian sites such as the pro-Kremlin Ukraina.ru quickly picked up this latest disinformation yarn.

Website screenshot ukraina.ru

Website screenshot lug-info.com

As the fake story tells it, satellite photos available in the public domain show that those regions where the Ukrainian military are deployed deforestation is going on both in small areas and also in tracts as large as thousands of hectares.

Informburo DNR, the Federal News Agency   and Armia Narodnogo Osvobozhdenia, among others, reprinted this fake claim.

Website screenshot helsinki.org.ua

According to a report compiled this year by the Ukrainian Helsinki Union for Human Rights, Ukraine’s environment in the occupied Donbas territories is being decimated and is on the brink of ruin. Even before the outbreak of war, the environmental situation in eastern Ukraine was dire, decades of pollution from steel mills, mining and chemical plants had taken a heavy toll on the region’s ecological state.

Environmentalists blame the local population for the deforestation taking place, and say that they are using the deprivation brought on by war as an excuse to harm the environment and despoil public lands.

“In the absence of enforced state control, the local population has begun exploiting the natural resources, seizing land parcels from nature reserves, logging and hunting” says the Ukrainian Helsinki Union report.

The Luhansk regional Forestry Department told StopFake that Ukraine’s armed forces are not committing deforestation; on the contrary, the authorities periodically apprehend local civilians logging illegally. 

Website screenshot veterano.com.ua

Website screenshot loga.gov.ua

Ukrainian soldiers not only do not partake in illegal logging, they actively counter illicit logging and poaching. Recently a group of Ukrainian veterans apprehended illegal loggers in a Kharkiv land conservation reserve.

Categories: World News

NATO Needs an Offensive Cybersecurity Policy

Thu, 08/17/2017 - 14:07

A man stands next to screens during the Locked Shields 2017 exercise organized by NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn, Estonia, April 26, 2017. (REUTERS/Ints Kalnins)

By Barbara Roggeveen, for Atlantic Council

Modern-day warfare is as much about cyberattacks and the protection of communication and information systems as it is about kinetic military action. In 2016, NATO’s institutional networks experienced on average 500 cyberattacks a month—an increase of roughly 60 percent from the year before. Other recent, high-profile, transnational cyberattacks, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack and Petya, highlight the urgent need for NATO and its member states to develop strong cybesecurity capabilities.

Although NATO has been working toward a more comprehensive cybersecurity policy, there are two major challenges with its current strategy. The current plan places cyberattacks within the scope of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and the concept of collective defense, thus, creating high thresholds for engagement. In addition, it allows for mainly defensive and reactive measures, leaving less room for preventive or offensive operations.

NATO’s approach to cybersecurity can be traced back to early steps taken at the 2014 Wales Summit, in which NATO included cyber defense in its core tasks of collective defense. At the Warsaw Summit two years later, NATO recognized cyberspace as a “domain of operations,” reaffirming its defensive mandate with regard to cyber threats.

The Warsaw Summit Communiqué states that recognizing cyberspace as a domain of operations will “support NATO’s broader deterrence [of] and defense [against cyber threats],” and NATO promised to continue integrating cyber defense “into operational planning [to ensure] a better management of resources, skills, and capabilities.”

Armed attack-threshold

The designation of cyberspace as a domain of operations has far-reaching implications. As decided upon by Allied countries in the Tallinn Manual 2.0, such a label allows NATO to act only against those cyberattacks that qualify as an “armed attack.” In the case of cyberattacks, however, opponents often do not seek physical destruction. Of late, cyberattacks have moved further away from traditional warfare in pursuit of subtler influences, sometimes involving coercive political pressure. On July 28, the US Congress voted for new sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the 2016 US presidential election in favor of then-candidate US President Donald J. Trump.

By placing cyberattacks within the doctrine of collective defense, NATO limits its response to those cyberattacks that reach the armed-attack threshold, making it extremely difficult for NATO members to effectively address cyberattacks that do not qualify as such.

Whether a cyber operation constitutes an “armed attack” also depends on the parties involved. Traditionally, the right to collective defense could only be invoked in case of an armed attack undertaken by one state against another. NATO’s Strategic Concept allowed for a wider definition, stipulating that “the North Atlantic Treaty covers any armed attack on the territory of the Allies, from whatever direction or source.” Although this allows NATO to take defensive action against cyberattacks carried out by non-state actors, there is still some uncertainty within the community of allied countries as to when collective defense against non-state actors is permissible. One of the biggest challenges in this case remains attribution. It is often difficult to trace cyberattacks back to one specific organization.

From defensive to offensive capabilities

Currently, NATO’s cybersecurity strategy is strictly defensive. The NATO Computer Incident Response Capability (NCIRC) protects NATO’s own networks, and NATO supports allied members in their individual cyber defenses through intelligence gathering and sharing, the employment of high-readiness cyber defense teams, the development of targets for allied countries to facilitate national cyber defense capabilities, and investment in education, training, and exercise.

As James A. Lewis, director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote for the Tallinn Papers, a series of publications from the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, “a cyber defensive orientation is the equivalent of a static defense, defending fixed positions rather than maneuvering, and conceding initiative to opponents.”

Defensive measures might hold off an individual cyberattack, but they do not address the underlying threat. Although the protection of NATO members’ national networks should be a priority, the most effective way to provide sustainable and long-term protection against cyberattacks is through offensive capabilities and the destruction of opponent networks and systems.

While individual member states can take certain steps toward achieving this objective—the United States, for example, has already employed strong offensive cyber capabilities, such as Stuxnet—a collective NATO doctrine would provide allied countries with the necessary guidelines regarding proportionality and subsidiarity when employing offensive cyber capabilities. NATO’s cybersecurity policy should provide a clear framework to address the relatively uncharted territory of offensive cyber operations.

Recommendations

Current developments in the field of cybersecurity require a more proactive approach. In order to counter cyber threats, NATO should pursue a broader and more dynamic operational framework than that of collective defense. As the cyber capabilities of NATO’s opponents grow more sophisticated, the Alliance should adopt a cybersecurity policy that can effectively counter these threats.

Primarily, this means that NATO should create a public doctrine, independent from the concept of collective defense, that allows member states to not only act defensively, but also offensively. Second, NATO should pursue a public policy that also effectively addresses cyber threats that stay below the armed attack-threshold. Overcoming these two challenges would enable the community of Allied countries to develop the necessary framework to comprehensively address current cybersecurity threats.

By Barbara Roggeveen, for Atlantic Council

Barbara Roggeveen is a research assistant at the Slavic Department of the University of Amsterdam and a former intern with the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.

Categories: World News

Putin regime is driving out the most qualified cadres, Levada Center’s Gudkov says

Wed, 08/16/2017 - 08:15

Russia faces a massive brain drain because those seeking to leave Russia now in ever greater numbers are the most educated and competent, Lev Gudkov says; and they are leaving precisely because of way in which the Putin regime is treating civil society, the decline in incomes, and growing income inequality.

The Levada Center director tells VOA’s Viktor Vladimirov that Russia today is “really observing the fourth wave of outflow and that is is connected first of all with the increasingly tough domestic situation and the strengthening of the authoritarian regime” (golos-ameriki.ru/a/lev-gudkov-on-russian-brain-drain/3980619.html).

Now, the most successful people are fleeing, not necessarily forever but rather to give themselves and their children the opportunity to outlive and outlast the current regime in Moscow. Indeed, many of them retain their homes in Russia, expecting that eventually they may be able to return, Gudkov says.

This makes the current emigration very different from its predecessors, including those of the 1990s when “Jews, Germans and other ethnic communities left in massive numbers.”

Given Moscow’s current policies of militarism, gigantism and isolation, the sociologist continues, there is little chance that the people leaving now will decide to return anytime soon. It simply will take too long for Russia to change back into a country in which they can place their hopes for their futures and those of their children.

Most Russians are still trying to adapt to the current situation and are not thinking about leaving, but while “emigration touches a not very large contingent of the population, [what it does affect] are “extraordinarily important for our society, the most educated, the most active and the most capable part.”

They are the drivers of Russian development, and “without them, the country is not in a position to rise up and consistently develop. And this part of the population feels itself extremely uncomfortable.” Among its numbers are people in mid-sized and small business, technology, and science, all of whom feel under pressure from the regime.

One way or another, Gudkov says, “all the academic scientific milieu is degrading under bureaucratic control and low financing. Also suffering are spheres of culture, education and medicine.” But no society can afford to lose people in these segments in large numbers even if their share of the population at large remains relatively small.

By Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia

Categories: World News

The Daily Vertical: The Kremlin’s anti-Navalny? (Transcript)

Tue, 08/15/2017 - 19:43

Brian Whitmore

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL

He’s a bare-knuckled street brawler. He’s a firebrand leftist. And he’s an unapologetic Stalinist who wants to restore the Soviet Union.

For nearly five years, Sergei Udaltsov has been Russia’s most invisible political prisoner.

The public didn’t read his prison letters. Rights groups didn’t take up his cause. He didn’t become a media star.

But with his release from prison last week, Udaltsov has suddenly become an important political barometer.

Because as soon as Udaltsov walked free, the rumors, the speculation, and the innuendo swirled that he had cut a deal with the Kremlin: that in exchange for his freedom he had agreed to be co-opted by the system and play the role of the spoiler.

Now, we don’t know how much credence to give this speculation, but it would certainly fit the Kremlin’s playbook — and its political needs of the moment.

Vladimir Putin’s regime fears the antiestablishment mood that opposition leader Aleksei Navalny has so effectively and skilfully tapped into. And it fears the politically active and nonconformist youth.

And what better way to neutralize this threat than to use a streetwise leftist firebrand to divide it, to turn Udaltsov into a housebroken anti-Navalny.

In his initial comments after his release, Udaltsov seemed to play the role. He criticized Navalny and expressed support for the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas.

But as opposition journalist Oleg Kashin wrote in a recent column, the role of Kremlin patsy doesn’t really suit the fiercely ideological Udaltsov.

For five years, Udaltsov has been the Russian opposition’s invisible man. But what he does now has suddenly become very consequential.

By Brian Whitmore, for RFE/RL

Categories: World News

Ukraine Did Not Supply North Korea with Missile Engines

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 19:58

Ukraine Did Not Supply North Korea with Missile Engines

On August 14 the New York Times published a story entitled North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say. The article argues that having examined photographs of the North Korean leader inspecting new rocket engines, investigators concluded in a new report that the engines are similar to an old Soviet model and could have come from several post-Soviet states. The article focuses on the Yuzhmash Ukrainian rocket plant in Dnipro as the possible black market source of the engines.

Website screenshot NYT

The Times story is based on a report by Michael Elleman, senior fellow for missile defense with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the UK. Entitled The secret to North Korea’s ICBM success the report examines how North Korea managed to achieve such progress with its rocket program in all of two years. The report suggests that North Korea could have acquired “a high-performance liquid-propellant engine from illicit networks in Russia and Ukraine”.

This story quickly spread through Russian and Ukrainian media.

Website screenshot Vedomosti

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Ukrainian National Defense and Security Council chairman Oleksander Turchynov refuted the NYTimes story. Ukraine has always adhered to its international commitments and did not supply military technology to North Korea, he said. Claims that Ukraine’s Yuzhmash rocket company transferred engine technology to North Korea is “not based on any grounds, provocative by its content, and most likely provoked by Russian secret services to cover their own crimes”. Turchynov also emphasized that Ukraine considers North Korea to be totalitarian, dangerous and unpredictable, and supports all sanctions against this country”. He also noted that since the outbreak of Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014, “Ukraine completely stopped supplying weapons, military equipment, and military technology to Russia”.

In a company statement Yuzhmash denied that it had provided North Korea with any rocket technology. The company is no longer the main manufacturer of rockets for the Russian Federation and does not provide Russia with any missiles, missile parts or components including rocket engines. Claims that there is a connection between Ukraine and North Korea’s progress in rocket development have no grounds in reality, Yuzhmash said. The company does not have and never has had any connection to the North Korean rocket or defense program. According to the company web site, Yuzhmash has not produced missiles and missile complexes for military purposes since Ukrainian independence.

Website screenshot Youjmash

Ukraine’s State Space Agency also issued a statement saying that any allegations that Ukraine transferred technology which could contribute to the development of ballistic programs to North Korea are absolutely unfounded.

Michael Elleman’s report does not make any accusations, rather his findings are assumptions: “An unknown number of these engines were probably acquired” and he goes out of his way to point out that the report does not “suggest that the Ukrainian government was involved).

Ukrainian experts are comparing these allegations to the  2002 charges that Ukraine sold a Kolchuha radar system to Iraq, others speculate that this is a false flag operation aimed to discredit Ukraine as a US strategic partner and disrupt plans to provide Ukraine with lethal weapons.

Ukraine is providing missile delivery systems to South Korea. According to the international trade data base ImportGenius in June 2017 Ukraine’s defense export company Ukrspetsexport sold the south Korean Hanwha Corporation software for calculating heat transfer in a combustion chamber of a space rocket liquid engine and in November of last year – a sketch design of the upper stage of a carrier rocket.

 

Categories: World News

StopFake #144 with Brian Mefford

Mon, 08/14/2017 - 13:16

The latest edition of StopFake News with Brian Mefford. Among the disinformation debunked Right Sector and Ukrainian military in armed conflict; Ukraine to send remains of World War II era Soviet general back to Russia; French President Macron helped to organize the Maidan protests; separatists’ weaponry are spoils of war taken from Ukrainian military.

Categories: World News

Fake: Right Sector and Ukrainian Military in Armed Conflict

Sat, 08/12/2017 - 18:29

Scores of Russian media reported this week that a shootout between Ukrainian military and the radical Right Sector battalion had occurred in the war zone. The source for this story is a literal font of fake news, frequent mouthpiece of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, the DonetskNews Agency.

Website screenshot ria.ru

Website screenshot tvzvezda.ru

Citing something called “the operative leadership of the Donetsk People’s Republic”, the Donetsk News Agency claims that on August 6 the Ukrainian military fired on Right Sector.

Two days later Russian Defense Ministry television channel Zvezda reported that Right Sector was readying a retaliatory operation against the Ukrainian army. Outside of the Russian backed separatist leadership, no other party said anything about this alleged incident.

RIA Novosti, Ria Novosti Ukraina, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Gazeta.ru, Moskovskyi Komsomolets, REN TV, NTV and many other Russian media disseminated this fake.

Screenshot @skoropadsky

Website pravyysektor.info

Right Sector press secretary Artem Skoropadsky dismissed these claims as complete fabrications. Fakes such as these are aimed at sowing ill will and dissent between the Ukrainian armed forces and the volunteer movement, he told StopFake. Right Sector battalion commander Andriy Stempickyi also dismissed the fake story and said the Ukrainian military and the battalion still have a lot of work to do together.

Categories: World News

Fake: G20 Admits Kyiv’s Violation of Minsk Agreements

Sat, 08/12/2017 - 17:23

Russian site Ukraina.ru published a story claiming that the leaders of France and Germany consider that Ukraine has failed to comply with the Minsk agreements, the hasty peace deal between Ukraine, Russia and Russian backed separatists signed in 2015. The story is based on a quote from Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov. The story has no quotes or direct references from the leaders of France or Germany.

After a working breakfast that leaders of Germany, France and Russia held during the recent G20 summit, Peskov said that the three had talked about the situation in eastern Ukraine and noted that “the Minsk agreements are not being carried out, in many respects they are not being carried out by Kyiv, particularly the political part of the agreements”. Peskov then added his own opinion, which he presented as the view of the French and German leaders: “The fact of the matter is that it’s difficult not to admit this: the Minsk agreement contains a list of political steps that Kyiv must fulfill. And it does not occur to anyone to dispute the fact that Kyiv is not doing this.”

Website screenshot ukraina.ru

This fake story was carried by RIA Novosti, TASS, Sputnik,Times.com.uaSvobodnaya pressa and other Russian media.

Website screenshot reuters.com

Neither Chancellor Merkel nor President Macron made any statements even remotely similar to what Peskov claimed they said. Merkel said that the Minsk process will continue, “progress has been very, very slow – with stagnation in some cases, relapses in others. We didn’t gloss over the situation.” Emmanuel Macron pointed out how complicated the situation in eastern Ukraine is, that is why negotiations must continue.

The Kremlin regularly accuses Ukraine of not adhering to the Minsk accords while refusing to carry out its commitments under the accords, principally withdrawing heavy weapons and restoring Ukraine’s control over its eastern border. Despite considerable evidence of Moscow’s troops and weapons support for the separatists, Russia denies that it is a party to the conflict in the Donbas.

 

 

Categories: World News

Russian Journalist Sokolov Jailed for Extremism After Calling for Referendum

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 23:13

Journalist Alexander Sokolov Artyom Geodakyan/TASS

A Moscow court on Thursday sentenced Russian journalist Alexander Sokolov to three and a half years in jail for extremism, in a case Sokolov described as “Orwellian.”

Sokolov, who has been in custody since his arrest in 2015, and three co-defendants were found guilty of advancing the program of a radical left-wing organization called the People’s Will Army after it was banned in 2010, the RBC news agency reports.

The People’s Will Army agitated to change the Russian constitution via a referendum.

Sokolov has denied the accusation and says the case is connected to his professional activity.

He previously worked at RBC, where he published an expose of corruption during the building of Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome near the border with China.

“This process has turned out to be singular and dystopian in Orwellian style,” Sokolov said in a statement published by the OVD-Info police monitoring website on Thursday, shortly before the ruling.

“Whatever the formal verdict in this manufactured case, I think we can claim full moral victory,” the statement said.

The international group Reporters Without Borders has called for Sokolov’s release, while the European Court of Human Rights said last year it would examine his case.

By The Moscow Times

Categories: World News

Russian federal censor adds Snapchat to government list of instant messengers without company’s knowledge

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 23:09

By Meduza

Correction: Snapchat has clarified that Russia’s Internet censor added Snap Inc. to its list of online messengers without its knowledge. Initial reports that the service registered with the Russian government “are not accurate,” a company spokesperson told Meduza. “It appears that they unilaterally registered us.” As of now, Snapchat does not intend to comply with the regulations placed on registered messengers, the company told Gizmodo.

Snap Inc. has become the first major Western Internet company to be registered by Moscow’s federal censor, Roskomnadzor, as an “information distribution organizer.” According to Roskomnadzor, the U.S. company provided its office address, a service description, contact email addresses, and other data. A company spokesperson told Gizmodo that Snapchat did not know this information would be used for this purpose.

In accordance with clauses in Russian anti-terrorist legislation that will take effect in July 2018, “information distribution organizers” will be forced to store records of all calls and text messages exchanged between users for a period of six months, and also store users’ metadata for 12 months, making all information accessible to Russian law enforcement. “Information distribution organizers” will also be required to help Russia’s Federal Security Service decipher any encrypted message sent by their users.

According to the website TJournal, Snapchat is currently the 17th most popular free app in the iOS App Store in Russia, and ranks 38th in Russia’s Google Play Store. Snapchat has a reported 166 million users around the world and is especially popular in the United States.

Until now, Russia’s federal censor has avoided demanding that major Western messengers register as “information distribution organizers,” though the anti-terrorist legislation passed last year easily applies to all of them. Roskomnadzor’s list still doesn’t include apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, or Facebook Messenger. Snapchat now joins services like Telegram, WeChat, Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki, ICQ, and others.

By Meduza

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Roskomnadzor’s list still doesn’t include apps like WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, or Facebook Messenger.Перевести

Roskomnadzor — выберите перевод: [rəskɒmnˈædzə] роскомнадзор

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Categories: World News