As he has done for years, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov was the first to announce the latest government operation against rebel militants in Chechnya. Kadyrov stated on his personal Instagram webpage that government forces had killed a group of four bandits in the republic’s Sunzha district, on the administrative border with Ingushetia. According to Kadyrov, the authorities had been conducting a manhunt for some time. Government sources said they had received information that the militants had been ordered by their leader, Beslan Makhauri (Emir Muhammad), to carry out bomb attacks (instagram.com, November 17). The Chechen Republic’s head specified that government forces had started the special operation a week earlier, after the body of a hunter was found. Russia’s Interfax news agency reported on the government forces’ losses in the operation. “Last night on the outskirts of Sernovodskaya, four members of the bandit underground were surrounded. They used arms to resist the police. In the clash, the bandits were eliminated; two police officers were injured” (Interfax, November 17). The Interfax report shows that law enforcement did not simply happen to be located in the area, but were searching for people accused of killing the hunter. Continue reading
What first sounded like something straight out of a Tom Clancy novel is turning out to be Moscow’s first serious test of Western resolve since the invasion of Crimea earlier this year. While details are patchy and the situation is still unfolding, three separate credible eyewitness accounts and a photo showing a dark structure descending into the shallow waters of the Baltic Sea seem to confirm the presence of a foreign submarine or mini-sub some 30 miles from Stockholm. If so, this would be a major escalation of tensions in the Baltic Sea region. Continue reading
Council of Europe Journal for the week of 29 September 2014:
- PACE President, Anne Brasseur, pays an official visit to Azerbaijan
- Recruitment and financing of terrorism and organised crime – a Council of Europe conference discusses the issues
- Russia’s accused of intercepting telephone data without a court order
The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Anne Brasseur, has been paying an official visit to Azerbaijan
Ms Brasseur met with President Aliyev and also held meetings with leaders of political parties in the parliament, members of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE and the Prosecutor General. She also met human rights activists to discuss the issue of journalists and others held in detention. Afterwards, Ms Brasseur commented on her visit, saying that: more progress was needed in Azerbaijan regarding freedom of expression, freedom of association, and judicial independence.
And, speaking about the recent arrests of civil society activists, the President said it was a source of “grave concern”. She went on to say that the detentions highlighted the need to address systemic deficiencies in the operation of justice in Azerbaijan as noted in the findings of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of the pre-trial detention of Ilgar Mammadov.
NEWS IN BRIEF
- A Council of Europe international conference in the Spanish city of Málaga has been discussing ways of tackling recruitment to terror and organised crime groups. The conference, made-up of judges, prosecutors, policy makers and other terrorism experts, has also been addressing a range of issues, including radicalisation and recruitment in prisons and ways of stopping the funding of terror campaigns. Continue reading
- By September 15, 2014 09:26 BST
When the White House finally invoked the word “war” on 12 September to describe the new US-led campaign against Isis in Iraq and Syria, the already ominous parallels between 1914 and 2014 grew more resonant still, with the 21st-century wrinkle of cyber conflict adding a particularly destabilizing factor to today’s situation.
Pockmarked by crises – Boko Haram, Gaza, Ukraine and MH17, Ebola, Isis – the unquiet summer just concluded seemed all along to be leading up to something.
In 2014, similarly, it was only weeks after Isis militants drove hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from their homes in Mosul and Tikrit, and isolated the minority Yasidis on Mount Sinjar, that President Obama announced “we will degrade and ultimately destroy” Isis. (The Isis beheading videos, starting with James Foley’s execution posted on the Internet on 19 August, were a political accelerant.)
The danger of another World War I, a violent continent-wide contest for territory and regional influence that leaves mass casualties and redraws maps, is low. Isis will not soon steam into New York Harbor, guns blazing. But, beyond the narrow and classically kinetic “war on Isis” newly defined by the Obama administration, there is a fierce below-radar war in cyberspace for economic and political influence, involving numerous players.
With terrible brilliance, Isis, for one, both commits cyber crime and floats cyber propaganda. It boasts both a “backroom” criminal operation, which raises funds, and a front-of-house “daylight” operation devoted to image building.
September 12, 2014
In Ukraine, the cease-fire is on the ropes with daily reports of artillery-fire and shootings. It is established that the Russian Armed Forces is one of the warring factions. A couple of weeks ago, the Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, acknowledged on television that Sweden had verified, supposedly by its own intelligence services, that Russian artillery was firing into Ukraine.
There are other proofs as well. In a long blogpost at Bellingcat a few days ago, journalist Iggy Ostanin showed convincingly that the individual Buk SAM-system that shot down MH17 in July has returned to Russia and resumed its place in the 53th Brigade of the Russian PVO (Air Defense Forces). Continue reading
Russian President Vladimir Putin is feeling around for the gaps that have emerged in NATO’s defenses, and it may take more than military spending to patch them up
A few years ago, when NATO strategists would stop to consider a possible threat from Russia, their chief concern was the possibility, however slight, that the Russian state would implode, lose control of its nuclear arsenal and allow a few warheads to fall into the wrong hands. That at least was the worry Ivo Daalder expressed in the fall of 2010, when he paid a visit to Moscow as the U.S. ambassador to NATO. But on the whole, he says he just wasn’t very concerned about Russia at the time. The alliance was too busy with that year’s troop surge in Afghanistan and with newfangled threats like cyber warfare.
“As a security concern Russia wasn’t really on the agenda in 2010,” he tells TIME by phone on Friday from Chicago. “The focus with Russia was really on cooperation.” Continue reading
No. 149: The Russian Economy
Author(s): Philip Hanson, Irina Nikolaevna Il’ina, Carol S. Leonard, Evgenii Plisetskij
Editor(s): Stephen Aris, Matthias Neumann, Robert Orttung, Jeronim Perović, Heiko Pleines, Hans-Henning Schröder, Aglaya Snetkov
Series: Russian Analytical Digest (RAD)
Publisher(s): Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich; Research Centre for East European Studies, University of Bremen; Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies, George Washington University
Publication Year: 2014
This edition considers the current state of the Russian economy. Firstly, Philip Hansen assesses the reasons for the economic slowdown that predated the Ukraine crisis, highlighting that the radical reforms needed to improve business confidence seem unlikely to be undertaken. He also notes that fallout from the Ukraine crisis will have a negative impact on the short-term prospects for growth, and that although in the medium term some restoration of growth is possible, this will only likely reach rates below the global average. Secondly, Irina Nikolaevna Il’ina, Carol S. Leonard, and Evgenii Plisetskij examine the resilience of resource abundant regions in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, by way of a case study of Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug. They argue that long-term efficient and cooperative budget planning and performance account for the resilience of such regions.