13 mins ago

Crimea, fake news, potential of new Russian invasion

Print More

“Three Ways the West Can Get Tougher on Russia for Crimea Land Grab,” by Taras Kuzio, Atlantic Council’s “Ukraine’s Alert,” April 3 (http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/three-ways-the-west-can-get-tougher-on-russia-for-crimea-land-grab):

Russia’s occupation of Crimea has reached its third anniversary, and there is no evidence in sight that President Vladimir Putin will withdraw his occupation forces. Both the United States and Canada have reiterated their support for continued sanctions against Russia as long as Crimea continues to be occupied. Still, ending Russia’s illegal occupation could take decades.

To increase the effectiveness of Western pressure on Russia, three additional policies are necessary. First, Ukraine must stop expecting the West to assume the heavy lifting of sanctions against Russia while Ukraine itself continues to trade with Crimea and the two Russian proxy enclaves, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR). …

Second, Western diplomats and policymakers should advise members of Russia’s opposition that they cannot be expected to be viewed as democrats if they continue to support Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea, or back Putin’s claim that Ukrainians are not a separate people from Russians. …

Third, the EU needs to get its act together. Until now, the EU has supported sanctions with one hand while simultaneously serving as a “global laundromat” and accepting billions of dollars of dirty money from Russia with the other. A new report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found that Putin’s Russia laundered $20-80 billion between January 2011 and October 2014. …

“How Putin Uses Fake News to Wage War on Ukraine,” by Nolan Peterson, Newsweek, April 3, (http://www.newsweek.com/how-putin-uses-fake-news-wage-war-ukraine-577430):

As the Russian shells and rockets rained down on them in the front-line town of Debaltseve in February 2015, Ukrainian troops began to receive curious, anonymous text messages on their cellphones.

“Your comrades nearby already left their positions, so you should leave yours as well,” one message read.

The messages also claimed that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, as well as Ukrainian military commanders, had “betrayed” the soldiers.

The Ukrainian military later concluded that Russian military forces had taken over the local cellphone network with mobile jamming stations. …

In September 2014, U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove, then NATO’s top commander, called Russia’s hybrid war in Ukraine “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg we have ever seen in the history of information warfare.”

“Fake news is a weapon,” Viktor Kovalenko, a Ukrainian journalist and army combat veteran from the 2015 battle of Debaltseve, told The Daily Signal.

“I saw firsthand how Russians use fake news against the Ukrainian troops on the front line,” Kovalenko, a former professor of journalism at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev, added. “Via fake news Russians wanted to defeat Ukrainians the same way, effectively, as by artillery and tanks.” …

“Whether it is Ukraine, the EU, or the United States, Russia has the same playbook and goals,” Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, said. “It employs hybrid warfare – so-called fake news, computer hacking, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, snap drills, direct military interventions, and so on and so forth – to undermine the Western democracies and break the trans-Atlantic unity.” …

“Is Russia Getting Ready to Invade Ukraine Again?,” by Stephen Blank, Atlantic Council’s “Ukraine Alert.” March 30 (http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/is-russia-getting-ready-to-invade-ukraine-again):

Recent Russian actions suggest a new stage of the Russian threat to Ukraine – and potentially to the Caucasus, Belarus, or the Baltic states as well…

First, in 2016, Russia created 25 division formations and 15 brigades, while raising manpower by only 10,000 men. …Moscow created the 1st Guards Tank Army, the 40th Army and the 8th Army, and deployed them all around Ukraine’s borders. …Russia has created four new divisions: the 150th Motorized Rifle Division in the Rostov region, the 10th Armored Division and the 3rd Mechanized Division in the Voronezh region, and the 144th Motorized Rifle Division near Smolensk. …

On March 8, Moscow announced that the Russian Navy would prioritize ships capable of carrying troops that can perform amphibious operations, which could easily be used against Ukraine, the Balkans, the Caucasus, or in the Middle East. …Cyber strikes are also continuing. …There has also been a steady escalation in the number and size of Russian forces’ ceasefire violations since the beginning of 2017. …

All of these actions, taken with the impending August/September Zapad-2017 exercise in Belarus, give rise to fears of a new intervention either in Ukraine, Belarus, or even the Caucasus… Moreover, Putin’s domestic room for maneuver has narrowed, and economic reform or growth is unlikely. …It is possible that Putin feels pressed to strike sooner rather than later, especially if he wants to create a cause that justifies large-scale mobilization in advance of the 2018 elections, where he will emphasize Russia’s superpower status. …

“Advice to Trump: Beware of Russian Trolls,” by Mark Galeotti, Foreign Policy, February 23 (http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/23/advice-to-trump-beware-of-russian-trolls/?utm_source= Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=FP%202-24&utm_term= Flashpoints ):

… The new U.S. administration has partially backed away from some of its initial inexplicable enthusiasm for Moscow, with [Donald] Trump finally accepting that Crimea was “taken” and needs to be returned. …

And so, the Kremlin is beginning to stage some smaller-scale provocations and incidents in an effort to calibrate the new U.S. administration.

.…Within Ukraine – where Moscow seems to believe, probably with good reason, that Washington is losing interest – the Russians have not only encouraged their local proxies to step up their skirmishes but, in a serious hint that they see it becoming frozen, long-term, they are recognizing passports issued by their illegal local puppet states. Outside Ukraine, however, these most recent provocations have been strikingly limited. A single ship buzzed, a single unit of four SSC-8 cruise missiles deployed, a single spy ship, carefully staying in international waters. Each is testing Washington’s response to a different kind of stimulus, and delicately enough in the hope of not undermining Trump or forcing him into a corner. …

Until the Kremlin has a sense of where the Trump administration’s red lines lie, we’re unlikely to have seen the last of these little acts of geopolitical trolling. The Kremlin regards its military as an integral part of its political and diplomatic arsenal (even its take on hybrid warfare embraces political wars that will never reach the lethal phase). So, we must not panic – but we must also give a strong and, perhaps most importantly, a consistent response, lest we only encourage more fly-bys, and perhaps, even more awkwardly timed spy ships.

Comments are closed.