Time for a Counterattack on the Kremlin

English: THE KREMLIN, MOSCOW. President Vladim...

English: THE KREMLIN, MOSCOW. President Vladimir Putin with Federal Security Service Director Nikolai Patrushev. Русский: МОСКВА, КРЕМЛЬ. Встреча с директором Федеральной службы безопасности Николаем Патрушевым. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

September 12, 2014

It’s my pleasure to offer an insightful guest post from Johan Wiktorin, former Swedish Military Intelligence and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of War Sciences. Follow him on Twitter: @forsvarsakerhet

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

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Who Leads? Avoiding the Balkanization of Cyberspace

3 July 2014

Cyber security, courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence/flickr
Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic

With the control of electronic information becoming part of the geopolitical high ground, is the ‘Balkanization’ of cyberspace possible? Chris Bronk thinks so. Its primary stakeholders, after all, have failed to provide the broader, beyond-infrastructure leadership that’s needed on this issue.

By Christopher Bronk for ISN

Although unfolding crises in Iraq and Ukraine might persuade us otherwise, the world remains a reasonably safe and secure place for many, if not most of its inhabitants. A century ago, Europe was about to embark on a horrific conflict, one difficult to imagine for the globalization advocates of the time. Things were just too interconnected and interdependent, they thought, to make war fathomable. Nonetheless, war happened. This historical example must be borne in mind in contemporary discussions about the security of cyberspace. Continue reading

CSS: No. 149: The Russian Economy

Center for Security Studies (CSS) – Publications

RAD-Issue12.jpg

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)

Issue: 149

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.

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How Putin Is Reinventing Warfare

Though some deride Russia for backward thinking, Putin’s strategy in Ukraine betrays a nuanced understanding of 21st century geopolitics.

BY Peter Pomerantsev MAY 5, 2014

The Kremlin, according to Barack Obama, is stuck in the “old ways,” trapped in Cold War or even 19th century mindsets. But look closer at the Kremlin‘s actions during the crisis in Ukraine and you begin to see a very 21st century mentality, manipulating transnational financial interconnections, spinning global media, and reconfiguring geo-political alliances. Could it be that the West is the one caught up in the “old ways,” while the Kremlin is the geopolitical avant-garde, informed by a dark, subversive reading of globalization?

The Kremlin’s approach might be called “non-linear war,” a term used in a short story written by one of Putin’s closest political advisors, Vladislav Surkov, which was published under his pseudonym, Nathan Dubovitsky, just a few days before the annexation of Crimea. Surkov is credited with inventing the system of “managed democracy” that has dominated Russia in the 21st century, and his new portfolio focuses on foreign policy. This time, he sets his new story in a dystopian future, after the “fifth world war.”

Surkov writes: “It was the first non-linear war. In the primitive wars of the 19th and 20th centuries it was common for just two sides to fight. Two countries, two blocks of allies. Now four coalitions collided. Not two against two, or three against one. All against all.” Continue reading

Ukrainian extremists move headquarters from Kiev to Dnepropetrovsk

April 24, 0:40 UTC+4

In Russia, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Yarosh on charges of public calls for terrorist and extremist activities

© ITAR-TASS/Zurab Javakhadze

KIEV, April 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s extremist organization Right Sector has moved its headquarters from Kiev to Dnepropetrovsk, said its leader Dmitry Yarosh who is running for president.

“It’s easier to monitor the situation in Donbass from Dneptropetrovsk,” Yarosh said on Wednesday.

Earlier, local media reported a meeting in camera between Yarosh and head of the Dneptropetrovsk regional administration Igor Kolomoisky.

The Right Sector leader denied receiving funding from oligarchs. “We’re not using oligarchs’ money in politics, but when a war is on, we do not object to their funding the army,” he said. Continue reading

Russia: Digging Themselves in Deeper

Why Big Oil is doubling down on Putin’s Russia.

BY Keith Johnson APRIL 22, 2014

Russia may have become an international outcast in the wake of its annexation of Crimea and continued destabilization of eastern Ukraine. But for one group of powerful multinationals, Russia these days is less pariah than promised land.

Big Western oil companies from BP to Shell have not just stayed the course in Russia in recent months — many have essentially doubled down on oil and gas investments there and built even closer ties with Russian energy firms. Taken together, the deals could send billions of dollars flowing into the Russian economy just when Barack Obama’s administration is trying to hammer it hard enough to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to reverse his annexation of Crimea and stop menacing eastern Ukraine.

“We’ve made clear that we’d be prepared to target certain sectors of the Russian economy if we see a significant escalation, including direct Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine,” White House spokesperson Laura Lucas Magnuson has said. Continue reading

Ukrainian navy decimated by Russian move into Crimea

Tim Ripley, London – IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly
25 March 2014

UkraineOfficers of the Ukrainian navy Grisha V-class frigate Lutsk raise the Russian naval ensign on 20 March. Source: PA Photos
Ukraine’s maritime forces have been dealt a heavy blow by the Russian intervention in Crimea, with 12 of its 17 major warships and much of its naval aviation assets falling under Moscow’s control.
In the eight days since the controversial referendum on 16 March that opened the door for Crimea to be absorbed in the Russian Federation, almost every Ukrainian naval base and ship on the peninsula has been seized by Russian forces or local pro-Moscow self defence units.
The scale of the crisis facing the Ukrainian navy is apparent from the fact that around 12,000 of its 15,450 personnel were based in Crimea when Russia intervened on 27 February. Over the past three weeks, the majority of the Ukrainian military personnel on Crimea have defected to the Russian military or resigned from military service, according to announcements by the new pro-Kremlin administration in Crimea. Some independent media reports appear to broadly support Russian claims in this regard. Continue reading