Italy, Greece and Hungary still making military deals with Russia

Mikhail Samus, an expert at the Ukrainian Center for Army, Conversion and Disarmament Studies (CACDS) stated that those countries continued to have arms deals with Russia despite the sanctions regime:

Italy was probably contributing most directly to Russia’s war in the Donbas: It continued to supply Iveco LMV “Lynx” light armored vehicles to the Russian Ministry of Defense (the contract had been on the purchase of 350 vehicles; 2014, 81 machine sets were imported from Italy, in 2015 – 93 sets). The end recipient was situated in the city of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky (Rostov region, 91th Central Base of the Reserve of Motor Vehicles). This suggested an immediate deployment of the vehicles to the Ukrainian frontier.

The Greek Parliament ratified an agreement with Russia on the supply of military products in mid-January 2016, pushing military expenditures while cutting on social budget posts. Despite being a NATO member, Greece has heavily realied on Russian military equipment.

The Hungarian Ministry of Defense intended to purchase some 30 Mi-8/17 multipurpose helicopters from Russia (to be discussed during a visit of Viktor Orbán in Russia on 17 February 2016) and was to discuss further cooperation with Rosatom concerning the expansion of the Paks II Nuclear Power Plant.

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US General warns again of Russian provocation in the Baltics

While the US President continues to “happy-talk” the geopolitical situation, US Air Force General Frank Gorenc repeated his December 2015 warning that the Russian surface-to-air missile systems in Kaliningrad are “layered in a way that makes access to that area difficult” – with a spillover effect in parts of Poland and the Baltics, should NATO jets operate there. He repeated that the situation was “very serious.”

See also a recent RAND Corporation report “wargaming the Baltic States” that found out current NATO “defense” was useless. Successful scenarios would require a force of “about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades—adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities” (=assuming the political will of NATO wanting to defend the Baltics).

See also a discussion of NATO not being able to defend the Baltic States at Foreign Policy, or Bild. Interestingly, there have no official NATO reactions to Rand’s report yet.

(updated 8 February 2016).

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Beware of Russian cyber warfare in 2016

So what was Russia in 2015 beyond its continuing war in Ukraine, capturing the Donetsk airport and the Debaltseve area in winter 2015 (at a high cost for own men and material, and for the civilian population in the Debaltseve region) and the west allowing Putin a return to world politics through his bombing of Syria?

Russia for example had to offer a record military budget and a record amount of military exercises – among those being some snap exercises causing NATO officials sleepless nights. Most of the exercises took place before Russia’s bombing of Syria, which cynically speaking has been just another exercise for Russian special forces and the Russian airforce. Russian authorities praise the deadly potential of their military forces while they conceal their activities and the resulting casualties both in Ukraine and Syria – as Russia’s actions prove, the exposure of Russian military personnel and military equipment indeed has been one of the best weapons to undermine Russian methods of warfare.

On the „home front“, the last year saw another criminalization of Russian civil right’s organizations and ordinary citizens, preferably those supporting Ukraine or the Russian political opposition (for some cases see here). The bulk of the Russian population had to cope with decreasing buying power and the ban of foreign products; now also from Ukraine and Turkey. The more wealthy also had to face the fact that Turkey for the time being has ceased to be a holiday destination. Those were all issues only relunctantly and far from systematically covered by western journalists and media, leave alone politicians.

But there is another rather neglected issue that might become even more interesting in 2016 than in 2015 as Russia is expected to step up its crusade against NATO and EU with decreasing oil prices and growing geopolitical tensions.

This is Russian cyber warfare against individuals, institutions, but also crucial infrastructure.

Russia’s methods in the cyber-sphere go far beyond Ukraine or Georgia, two of Russia’s top targets in the last years (see the December attack on Ukrainian energy facilities with malware). Cyber attacks might target any country Russia finds itself not at ease with or might want to send a „message“ to, ranging from Bulgaria to Germany or even Austria.

Russia’s „troll army“ has been already a topic, harassing those not fully agreeing with Russia’s view on certain topics, and spreading disinformation and/or propaganda. The regime-supporting activities of Russian immigrants in the cyber sphere (especially in the German-language countries most of whom share the views of the Kremlin) are not to be underestimated, but unfortunately have been a taboo issue.

Another more serious level, requiring activity from „outside, is to block individual accounts in social media – in 2015, Facebock blocked the accounts of prominent Ukrainians on Facebook; and earlier, sites had been blocked that offered information on Russian soldiers killed in Russia’s summer 2014 campaign against Ukraine. The new Twitter guidelines of December 2015 have already proven their “potential” as various anti-Russian/pro-Ukrainian accounts were blocked (interestingly, some accounts of similar kind, but suspected of being “trolls” continue to function).

DDoS (distributed-denial-of-service) attacks and similar measures are popular measures when it comes to attacks against critical media outlets and blogs, and have targeted a wide-range of websites or accounts on social media. Such methods have been commonly considered as “cyber riots” as they do not require professionals and do not develop deadly potential against individuals or bring down a national economy.

But there are other dimensions which go beyond “riots”. One of them is to hack email accounts or computers, for example in using infected attachments installing malware, or using a bug in Microsoft Windows and other software to spy on computers used by the EU, NATO, single countries or companies in the energy and telecommunications sectors.

It is up to the perpetrator to use the acquired material for internal purpose (diversion, blackmail, as a basis for future attacks…) or to publish the content online – we have seen this on a rather organized scale with Wikileaks in the last years. Examples for 2015 concerning the collection of material for future purposes have been hacking the email system of the US Pentagon (also used by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff). This was not the first incident of such kind since Russia invaded Ukraine: In autumn 2014, a similar attack penetrated unclassified email systems in the White House and State Department (assuming that unclassified emails of US President Obama were included). In this context, human shortcomings are also of importance – the best example being Hillary Clinton using a private email server as secretary of state and now denying to fully reveal what could possibly have fallen in the hands of foreign agents/secret services.

Telephone/internet operators and the known security problems of mobile phones are definitely an issue. Ukraine has gained experience with all the weaknesses of modern telecommunication, for example Russia blocking telecommunication during active warfare – and we can only hope the west has taken some lessons. That Russia is quite active in this direction was proved by the fact it got hold of a few thousand mobile phone numbers of Polish members of the military in later 2015 (a Russian operator contacted the numbers, offering telephone services).

There have been single probes to paralyze the work of media, enterprises or state institutions with cyber attacks, also using false flags. The Polish stock exchange was targeted already in October 2014 (and Polish intelligence claimed a significant increase in the quality and quantity of attacks, focusing on government agencies and energy facilities). Also attacked was the French TV5Monde in April 2015 – the attackers in both cases posed as Islamists, but the real attackers came from Russia. In later 2015, there were “broader actions”: Bulgaria saw severe attacks in October/November 2015 against government websites, the country’s president complaining Russia was staging a hybrid war. Turkey for its turn was affected since mid-December 2015. Turkish media reported that 400.000 websites with the extension ‚.tr‘ were denied access from abroad – the hack seriously affected official processes and private enterprises. According to the latest information, the problems are continuing, notably with online banking.

The most worrying dimension for the broad public – and with the most deadly potential – are Russian efforts to target crucial infrastructure, for example public transport companies, energy providers and security organizations. One of the more worrying incidents was an attack on Germany’s Thyssen Krupp in 2014, damaging a blast furnace. In 2015, electricity and transport companies went down in German-language countries, and some incidents happened in the UK – the latest being a media attack on the BBC, alleging possible Russian involvement.

However some of the recent examples, such as the blow up of Ukrainian phylons carrying high-voltage lines that let to a cut of electricity in Crimea or a fire on a landlide of the major internet provider in Azerbaijan, that caused the internet to go down on 16 November 2015, show that cyber attacks are not a prerequisite to cause internet / energy shortages.

PS Czech media also reported another hack of the email-account of Prime Minister Sobotka. In December 2015, anti-immigration Tweets had appeared on his Twitter account – the backers of the attacks were unclear. The attacks can be understood as some kind of psychological warfare as Sobotka currently is the only east central European leader whose relationship with Germany and the EU leadership has not suffered severely since the outbreak of the migration crisis.

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France, Germany now openly collaborating with Russia

No, this is no longer appeasement.

Few have dared to call German and French negotiation strategies with Russia in the Normandy-group and beyond as what they have been from the beginning: vain efforts to appease Russia (they haves been masked politically correctly as “de-escalation”, “strategic patience” etc.).

After the terrorist attacks in Paris – France and Germany do no longer try to hide their preferences.

The last days, they have made steps that can only be called collaboration with the Russian terrorist regime:

The French President Hollande flew to Moscow and joined Russia’s IS-coalition, a coalition that also is starring Syrian dictator Assad who has killed some 250.000 citizens of his country and the mullahs from Iran who still work on their main goal to nuke Israel.

Germany – as always less explicit verbally – has found a construction to join the “anti-terrorist” coalition arguing it joins the French efforts to combat IS, and possibly would work with the Syrian army, but not with Assad. However, technically it would be hard to detach a cooperation with the Syrian army from its commander-in-chief Assad. By the way, such arguments also masked the country was about to join a military alliance with Russia (that delivers crucial military technology to Iran – S-300 missile systems – with Germany continuously repeating “the right of Israel’s existence”).

Astonished? It’s nothing more than “Realpolitik”.

Well, Germany has more important interests, interest that go beyond military issues or the IS, issues such as “energy security”: Russia has been selected to guarantee the energy security for Germany, and North Stream-2 is an important big part of it. The gas pipeline would double the capacity to ship Russian gas directly to Germany, in particular skipping Ukraine as transit country; the deal is interesting, because it has been Russia responsible for problems with transit gas – not Ukraine. Gazprom additionally is about to get more access to to gas trading and storage in Germany. Gazprom’s influence on German decision-makers must be considerable; German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s position on the issue also has not been convincing. As a result, 10 Eastern European countries have sent a protest letter arguing the project went against the interests of the EU at the end of November 2015.

To renew German-Russian friendship ties (and to weaken the sanctions on Russia) another way has been found through the EU and the project of a common integrated economic area from the Atlantic to the Pacific. EU’s Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker sent a letter after the G20 summit in Turkey to the Kremlin in later November 2015 asking for cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Union. Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (surely an expert for economic free trade areas) followed to addressed the EU in this issue.

The two most powerful men in the German co-governing social-democratic SPD party, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, have continuously pushed for a “normalization” in the relationship with Russia: Last, Steinmeier he found it would be time to get Russia back into the G-8. Sigmar Gabriel for his part has repeatedly tested the ground for cancelling the sanctions on Russia arguing with Russia’s important role in Syria. Steinmeier also has become famous for his continuous “happy-talking” on Russia’s fulfillment of Minsk agreements (probably soon it will be joined by “Russia bombing the IS”), broadly ignoring the presence of Russian military command structures in the occupied territories of eastern Ukraine and the massive deployment of Russian military gear. Instead SPD-members are pushing Ukraine to more than comply with its part of the Minsk agreements while Russia has not been fulfilling a single point of the agreement – see in this respect also the views of persons, such as the commissary for Russia in the German government, Gernot Erler (also SPD), practically identical with Russian positions, spread on German public financed media.

This article will not go into detail on the tragic role of German mass media coverage on all those events, sufficient to note that Russia now has more government-critical media than Germany (partly due to the concept of “vorauseilender Gehorsam” developing destructive energy in times of social or political upheaval).

There might be a Boris Reitschuster in Germany and a Bernard-Henri Lévy in France, the first revealing the real nature of the Russian regime and its propaganda, and the second an outspoken supporter of Ukraine. However, they are not representative. Better take the harsh critique of some French journalists to Poroshenko when he a few days ago stated that “the terrible events that France experienced this tragic November are a daily reality for Ukraine for almost 21 months“. French journalists found his words offensive – and by this only reavealed they are showing far more understanding for their president joining Russia in an „anti-terrorist coalition” than for Russian terrorist attacks and Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Consider this as last proof that France and Germany are not the best allies for Ukraine.

It is high time for the Ukrainian political leadership to detach from „Normandy“, and to reconsider its strategy for the occupied Donbas.

Ps– See EU’s Juncker’s advice how to deal with a terrorist leader (1) recommendation: treat him properly and as equal. (2) action

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Eastern Europe now has to stand together

Islamic terrorists attack Paris, and western leaders quickly readmit Russia in their circles. Obama, Merkel, Hollande – all suddenly talk with Putin without problems.

Does the fight of a terror group really need an alliance with the major terrorist – which is Russia?

The latest developments are the last confirmation that western European elites do not want to face realities: The main enemy is not the Islamic state, but Russia.

We will get to this conclusion in asking questions western media or politicians probably do not dare to ask themselves: Are the Islamic terrorists really able to organize sophisticated terror acts such as downing airplanes, planning combined attacks with a professional masking of traces and to cyber-attack crucial infrastructure? And which professional secret services have the knowledge and willingness to help them in conducting sophisticated operations?

The Islamic state does the dirty work, but – isn’t it the Russian leadership who is really profiting and nobody else? Aren’t those attacks helping Russia to advance its geopolitical interests in Ukraine, other Eastern European states and elsewhere?

Can we really avoid a future war in allying with a criminal and terrorist regime? Hasn’t Russia already declared war on the west in occupying Crimea, followed by a terrorist war in the Donbas, in leading a large-scale lie campaign on Russia’s deeds and geopolitical goals, in hacking government data bases in the US and western Europe, in conducting sophisticated cyber-attacks on western infrastructure and companies on a weekly basis?

Sadly, western elites and media live in their own reality, and continue to turn a blind eye on Russian crimes and have not the courage to name Russian terrorist acts “Russian terrorist acts”. There are plenty of examples for such Russian acts; one of the most convincing examples is flight MH-17 taken down with a Russian Buk missile. But western media and politics have repeated the narrative of “separatists” taking down the airplane for so long that they are convinced tractor drivers and miners are capable of handling such missiles.

Terrorist acts after MH-17 – in Ukraine and Western Europe – increased, such as attempts to conduct terrorist attacks. This will continue if the main driver behind terrorism, Russia, will not be named and fought. An alliance with Russia, officially for fighting Islamic terrorists is not a guarantee that such attacks will decrease, quite the opposite. Russia in its current shape is a terrorist state which will need more attacks, because this is the best measure how to prove the validity of its arguments, and to get politicians to the negotiation table. As some have argued, Russia (i.e. some affiliated terrorist groups) would also not shy away from launching a dirty bomb somewhere in Europe.

With whom does Russia “negotiate”? Its leaders have special skills to select parties known to be weak or to have interests with Russia. So it is quite telling that the “Normandy Four” never have accepted Poland or the Baltic states to be part of the negotiations – because they would rather pressure Russia to fulfil its obligations regarding the Minsk agreements, instead of putting pressure on Ukraine as Germany or France do. Also in the case of Islamist terrorism, Russia will prefer alliances with parties that have had interests with Russia. The French president is already rushing to Moscow. Others may quickly join if similar attacks happen in their countries.

So what does this mean for Ukraine, the Baltic States, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and other countries in central-eastern Europe threatened by Russian further expansionism and less by Islamists (even if attacks also might happen there)?

It means to name realities: Germany, France, Italy or the UK are placing their national interests first, especially if it comes to geopolitics. They might be partners on some issues, but those states are not strategic allies in geopolitical struggles.

It means to act: Eastern European countries have to unite forces in order to be taken seriously, especially by Russia and Germany.

The economic collapse of Greece and the mass migration to Western Europe, in particular to Germany and Sweden, have shown that Eastern European countries are only accepted as partners in the EU if they consent to western – in these cases German – demands.

In regard to Greece, this basically means endless monetary support without a realistic perspective for real reforms (reforms, eastern European countries after 1989 or just now Ukraine have undertaken largely on their own and with huge sacrifices). Greece additionally is not willing to control its borders which are also the external borders of the European Union.

Just after the total collapse of Greece was again post-phoned in summer 2015, Germany’s political leader unilaterally decided to take in hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants from Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria into the EU. The politics of “open borders” for migrants can only be understood as what it is: It is a selfish social engineering experiment in order to transform the nature of European Union countries without asking its citizens for their consent, forcibly changing the ethnic composition of nation states.

Moreover, both crises – Greece and migrants – have mercilessly shown that a bankrupt pro-Russian state on Europe’s periphery and Muslim immigration politically count more than the concerns of states that lie east to Berlin or south-east to Vienna.

Those crises, plus the recent Russian geopolitical games, are a final “wake-up” call for Eastern Europe.

It is time for Eastern Europe to make a move, too.

Forget about Western Europe.

Form a common alliance against Russia in Europe.

PS Here is the most recent message from Germany to Eastern Europe: We are planning to ban you from Schengen as you have not done what we have wanted.


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Double standards on terrorism in the west and other parts of the world

Eingebetteter Bild-Link

The west cannot win this war if the east just does not exist for it.

Update: See also a Facebook post published as an answer to French journalists who attacked Ukrainian President Poroshenko for daring to compare terrorism vicitims in Ukraine and Paris at the end of November 2015:

Attention French journalists: Russian terrorism is more dangerous than Islamic State

Russia’s undeclared war in Ukraine is terrorism as brutal as the IS attacks in Paris argues Ukrainian journalist

The following article is a Ukraine Today translation of an opinion piece published by Ukrainian journalist Aleksandra Kovaleva on her personal Facebook page. 

Yesterday several French journalists went onto Twitter to express their indignance that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko dared to compare the terrorist attacks in Paris with the situation in Ukraine. Thank you, French journalists, for your frankness, it seems, that you finally honestly acknowledged your, well, kind of Nazism, I guess. The concept of good old-fashioned chauvinism probably won’t work here.

Watch also Poroshenko’s comparison of Russian and IS terrorism sparks controversy

Come clean, you outraged French journalists, if Obama had compared the terrorist attack in Paris to September 11, the question would not have arisen, right? Tell me honestly, you wouldn’t be hurt, at least no one would have been offended. Because in your world, drawn by well-fed bourgeois, there are good people and there are… so-so.

No, please do not think that the French owe us something. We’ll assume that the West paid off the Budapest Memorandum with IMF loans (although it would be good to return the warheads…).
And no one owes anything to anybody. We’ll do everything ourselves.

The one thing which bothers me are the attempts of this society to pretend to be liberal Democrats, and this total deceit.

Сегодня некоторые французские журналисты (@stefsiohan, @gullivercragg и @ChristopherJM) в своих твиттерах возмутились те…

Posted by Aleksandra Kovaleva on Monday, 30 November 2015

The French terrorist attacks caught us on vacation in Berlin. Two days later, when I was flying home to Kiev, I read the Financial Times issue devoted to the terrorist attacks in Paris. Among the articles there were the first cautious positive materials about Putin. Yes, now they need him to fight ISIS and Europe knows how to make friends with dictators, to feed them the weaker countries, it was proven by Hitler, Stalin. Through reading, I was wondering, will Europe try to feed Ukraine to Putin, like they fed Poland, Chechoslovakia, ect. to Hitler?

Watch also Exclusive: Terror attacks in France and Ukraine – similarities and differences of terrorists

The first few pages were enough for me to start crying. Not because of resentment for our war, and because of lack of remorse among the signatories of the Budapest Memorandum. Rather, because of the destruction of myths. Due to the Financial Times I clearly understood that we live in a world of triumphant, economically determined Nazism. At least Europe for sure. And I clearly understood that the vast majority of the world – Africa, Asia, South America and Eastern Europe, are the Untermenschen [undermen, subhumans] as they used to be called by some Europeans some time ago.
Our feelings and our pain are not that important. No matter what democratic faces told us on the BBC about equality, the lives of the Untermenschen [subhumans] are irrelevant in the world of victorious Nazism.

Who cares that 8,000 people were killed in the Donbas from the Russian terror [estimates are better to put around 50.000, Russian „volunteer“ and regular military personnel included, remark osteuropastudien]. Who cares that hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars are now feel like life hostages in Crimea. Who cares that children are blown up by mines, and Russian terrorists rip open the bellies of Ukrainians. It’s about the children and the bellies of Ukrainians. 130 French people are valued so much higher that we shouldn’t even try to compare their grief with ours [see also the blog post Russian war crimes in Ukraine].

And anyway, ISIS are the true terrorists here, and Russia is just a hooligan. Because ISIS kills real French people, and Russia is killing unreal Ukrainians.

Now the French journalists are troubled in their Twitters about the statement of Poroshenko, and say that he allegedly uses the tragedy of the great French to bring attention to his little funny munchkins and gillikins. How did he dare? How did he dare to try to draw attention to the dead Untermenschen? After all, France has a real tragedy, and we, we just went for a walk (and  actually, stop dying, Ukrainians. You make us bored with your wars and Russian attacks). How did he dare to draw attention to the obvious double standards of this supposedly democratic world? Shut up, everybody, we the French, are in mourning. And we, the French, have the right to reproach Poroshenko, and Poroshenko can not reproach us, just because he cannot, ever.

Watch also Poroshenko: France and Ukraine are ‘protecting shared European values’ against terror

I faced kind of the same situation, when I was asking my European friends, where was their solidarity, when Lebanon faced terrorist attacks, and where were they and at least their thematic photoes on social networks with Lebanese flags, when I went to Lebanese Embassy with flowers. I never heard a concrete answer. I had my guesses though. But now I would like to ask straight.

Dear outraged French journalists, you are the journalists, and I’m a journalist too (among other things). You have French education and I have a French education as well. You know two languages and I know three languages. You travel all over the world and I travel all over the world. So tell me, what makes me less relevant in your eyes? The fact that I was born in the wrong country, isn’t it?

Admit, at least to yourself, that you consider yourself more important, otherwise why there is such reaction and unwillingness to compare your pure tragedy with my dirty one?
Show some balls once in your life and admit that you consider yourself people of a better quality, just because you have better salary and you eat better cheese. At least it would be honest. Otherwise what is your reason?

Le Pen is applauding. Everything is fine in the world of the French. You could be not ashamed of your lazy petty-bourgeois xenophobia, you could scratch your belly and say that immigrants take your jobs, you could not think that immigrants, excuse me, – from former colonies of France, or from the countries where the great France was an organizer or a participant of bloody massacres. You could skillfully forget the agreement of Sykes-Picot, and also skillfully ignore your responsibility for the war in Syria. And finally, you can resent the fact that someone dared to compare lives of 130 clean French people with thousands lives of Ukrainians, Lebanese or Syrians. Note that French journalists can do it. I cannot.

P. S. My boyfriend is French. He has a large wonderful family, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers. For four years we all the time talk on the phone, and see each other at least once a year. They know what happened on the Maidan, they know how many times I went to the war zone, and many of them have already been to Ukraine.

After the terrorist attacks in Paris I with my boyfriend and lit candles near the French Embassy in Prague, then we went to the French Embassy in Berlin. And then I, already alone, I brought flowers to the Embassy of France in Kyiv.

I don’t know, if someone from the family of my boyfriend put flowers near the Embassy of Ukraine. I hope so.


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There is no cease-fire in Ukraine

Despite continued efforts from official bodies (western politicians, ATO-staff etc.) it is increasingly difficult to hide that Russia still has no interest in a real cease-fire: Terrorist units keep attacking Ukrainian positions around the Donetsk airport (Pisky, Opytne, Butovka…), in the Mariupol region, Avdiivka etc. – just follow @Guderian_Xaba @xuilolala @MarQs__  and @loogunda for updates.

There are daily losses among Ukrainian soldiers and civilians due to small arms, snipers, mines and booby traps. Ukrainian soldiers for the time being display overwhelming patience and discipline. Warfare at this point largely takes place in the cyberspace: For example, InformNapalm – to the outrage of official Russia – has published information on Russian material used in Syria and the personal data of Russian airfighters’ staff bombing the villages of the Syrian opposition.

Russia continues to fake withdrawal in redeploying and hiding material all over the occupied territories. The logic behind this game is only known to Gen.-Lt. Hassan Kaloev who supervises the Russian actions in the JCCC (which continues to be a vehicle for Russian actions).

The bigger logic is clear though: Russia is not interested in peace with Ukraine, and wants to have its material ready when the order for another attack will come. We know the Russian army has been training for an attack of Ukraine and the Baltic states, and this quite intensively. For the time being they have opted for warfare in Syria – which can also be regarded as some kind of compensation for inaction in eastern Europe. But don’t let yourself be fooled: The operations of the Russian army in Syria, such as bombing civilian quarters and hospitals with its airforce, using cluster bombs and the highly destructive flame-thrower TOS-1 Buratino (that also is deployed to the occupied Donbas), are also a rehearsal for a full-scale war with Ukraine.

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