Eastern Europe Russia War Scenarios

Three Scenarios worth discussion.

  1. The people of Kharkiv strongly resisted the separatist scenario in 2014-2015. Demonstrations for Ukraine were consistently well-attended, despite the obvious threat of violence. A university city, the fragmented nature of Kharkiv is quite distinct from the unitary, proletarian nature of rebel-held Donbass. Kharkiv seems to have come to the consensus that the city’s newfound stability is all thanks to MAyor Kernes. Now that Lugansk and Donbass are stable, the city is prime for another attempt. Kharkiv has built a wall, but its people just want the war to end. The assassinations in Russia are on the rise. The Mayor stopped the separatists, but would the engine of the city stop if he was killed? This event would happen and the separatists would have better odds. This would plunge Ukraine in chaos. NATO would not intervene.  This would have to happen this year or the freedom to travel the EU would make it harder to want to rejoin the Soviet Union. Kharkiv residence that were able to travel visa free are enjoying it. The romance with EU and the West will continue like Romania in the 1990s. Russia can see the days when missiles defenses are on its border, manned by Russian speaker Ukrainian soldiers. That is the fear that is not acceptable to the Rodihna.
  2. Belarus. The conflict between Russia and NATO probably will begin with Belarus.  Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko does not need or want Russian military bases on its territory.. He recently allowed five day visa free travel from the EU and USA. This has triggered an underground pro-west feeling among many Bellorussians. Life is too hard there and foreign cash and tourists are welcome.Russia may decide to launch a coup, overthrowing or assassinating Alexander Lukashenko and replacing him with a fully controlled and loyal secret service general. The new leader of Belarus then officially invites Russian troops into Belarus. After this the Kremlin begins to generate hybrid threats to the Baltic countries and Poland. NATO then decides to activate Article 5 and sends High Readiness Forces to protect these states. The Kremlin interprets this step as a declaration of war and responds with a large-scale offensive operation against the Baltic states and Poland.
  3. Poland. The world watched the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.  This is in the NATO mind for Poland. NATO initiating a conflict is a politically palatable cover for  an offensive plan into Poland. Yesterday, a USA recon place was within five feet of a Soviet Fighter. At what point does NATO shoot down a fighter in open air space>? What would Moscow response be? NATO resistance would be overrun quickly in the absence of a larger mechanized defensive force posture. Also like Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia are home to sizable ethnic Russian populations that have been at best unevenly integrated into the two countries’ post-independence political and social mainstreams and that give Russia a self-justification for meddling in Estonian and Latvian affairs. Even though the USA is part of NATO, would the current administration participate if Poland scenario of war developed?

 

 

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The Dark Hackers

Today was a summit of the best minds in the computer world.

The hackers who hacked google and others are increasing their appetite for money.

They well funded and have support in equipment and hosting.

They hit targets for money.

They learn from the idiots at anonymous

No brags.

Ransom, steal, trick into getting into accounts.

They are keeping politics out of it.

Only money.

The current windows 10 is causing nonstop problems for business and customers

But the hackers spend lavishly.

That is the weakness.

When using the Tool Eternal Blue. One must have been trained by a person familiar with it.

More than 45,000 attacks have been recorded in as many as 74 countries, including Russia, Turkey, Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, according to Kaspersky Labs, a Russian cybersecurity firm

The Russian Interior Ministry confirmed in a statement that 1,000 of its computers had also been hit.

The ransomware encrypted data on the computers, demanding payments of $300 to $600 to restore access. Security researchers said they observed some victims paying via the digital currency bitcoin, though they did not know what percent had given in to the extortionists.

A tool known as Eternal Blue developed by US spies was used by the hackers to supercharge an existing form of criminal malware, three senior cyber security analysts said, leading to one of the fastest-spreading and potentially damaging cyber attacks seen to date. Their analysis was confirmed by western security officials who were scrambling to contain an attack that initially hit hospitals and doctors’ practices across the UK. The same or similar virus was used in a large-scale attack in Spain that hit Telefónica, the country’s main telecoms provider.
An “accidental hero” has halted the global spread of the WannaCry ransomware that has wreaked havoc on organizations including the UK’s National Health Service (NHS), FedEx and Telefonica.
Massive ransomware cyber-attack hits nearly 100 countries around the world
Read more
A cybersecurity researcher tweeting as @malwaretechblog, with the help of Darien Huss from security firm Proofpoint, found and implemented a “kill switch” in the malicious software that was based on a cyber-weapon stolen from the NSA.
The kill switch was hardcoded into the malware in case the creator wanted to stop it from spreading. This involved a very long nonsensical domain name that the malware makes a request to – just as if it was looking up any website – and if the request comes back and shows that the domain is live, the kill switch takes effect and the malware stops spreading.

Friday’s massive international cyberattack may give you the best reason of all to hit “update” when prompted.Reports suggest that the vulnerability exploited by the worm responsible for the attack is the same one revealed in April by the hacker group known as the Shadow Brokers. The Shadow Brokers alleged that the U.S. National Security Agency had used weaknesses in Windows as part of its digital surveillance efforts.

 

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Paul Tudor Jones Warns of a Terrifying Stock Market Bubble in 2017

buffet indicator paul tudor jones april 2017 corporate equities to gdp.png

Hedge fund legend Paul Tudor Jones says this ‘terrifying’ chart should freak out the Fed
Tudor Jones was referring to a chart of the stock market’s value versus the economy, showing valuations not seen since the dot-com bubble of 2000.
The comments came during a closed-door meeting with Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg News reported

The legendary macro trader says that years of low interest rates have bloated stock valuations to a level not seen since 2000, right before the Nasdaq tumbled 75 percent over two-plus years. That measure — the value of the stock market relative to the size of the economy — should be “terrifying” to a central banker, Jones said earlier this month at a closed-door Goldman Sachs Asset Management conference, according to people who heard him.

Jones is voicing what many hedge fund and other money managers are privately warning investors: Stocks are trading at unsustainable levels. A few traders are more explicit, predicting a sizable market tumble by the end of the year.

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Venezuela’s Anti-government Protests

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Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets in Caracas on Wednesday, protesting President Nicolás Maduro.

At least six Venezuelans have already died this month in what have been the biggest anti-government protests since 2014.

General Motors says Venezuela illegally seized one of its plants.

Maduro recently tried to use the Supreme Court to limit the power of the legislature, and the socialist country has been slammed by a devastating economic crisis, resulting in food shortages and increased crime. Despite having the largest proven oil reserves in the world, Venezuela is fast running out of cash, and its people have struggled for years with food and medical shortages, coupled with skyrocketing prices.

March 29, the Venezuelan Supreme Court dissolved the parliament, transferring all legislative powers to itself. By doing away with the opposition-controlled legislative branch, the move effectively meant the remaining two branches of Venezuelan government were controlled by Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party. The opposition was outraged and called the move a coup. The decision was reversed three days later, but protests had already erupted.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro salutes Monday during Bolivarian militia celebrations in Caracas.

“We’re after and will capture the very last of the attackers,” Maduro said Saturday on national TV. “You all know that I don’t fool around. When I go after criminals, I get them, and I will capture all of these criminals who are getting their orders from the right-wingers.”
In a show of force Monday, Maduro paraded the streets of Caracas surrounded by men and women in uniform. The military has also vowed its full support to Maduro.

Annual inflation in crisis-hit Venezuela last year reached 274 percent, according to data the central bank provided to the International Monetary Fund, although many economists believe the true figure is far more alarming.

In the midst of a bruising economic crisis, the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro has not published inflation data for more than a year.

Venezuelan consultancy Ecoanalitica says inflation was 525 percent last year and New York-based investment bank Torino Capital – using one popular food item as a proxy – put it at 453 percent.

Purchasing power has eroded and salaries annihilated as a result. On the black market, $1,000 in savings when Maduro was elected in 2013 would now be worth less than $5.

The bolivar currency fell further against the U.S. dollar on Thursday and is now at its lowest value ever against the dollar, down 99.5 percent since Maduro came to power.

Venezuela was also the worst-performing economy in the world last year, when the country’s gross domestic product collapsed by 18 percent amid a currency collapse and a surge of hyperinflation. The IMF estimates that the country’s inflation rate in 2017 will average around 43,000 percent.

 

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About that St. Petersburg bombing

The death toll in a suicide attack in St. Petersburg rose to 16

People including relatives of victims of the Monday's metro bombing attend a memorial service at the Trinity Cathedral in St.Petersburg, Russia, April 5, 2017.  REUTERS/Anton Vaganov

The explosion in the underground of St. Petersburg took place on April 3 on the stretch between the stations “Sennaya” and “Institute of Technology”.

The damaged train carriage at Tekhnologichesky Institut metro station in St Petersburg, 3 April 2017

Suicide bomber Akbarzhon Jalilov, 22, is thought to be Russian national born in Central Asian Kyrgyzstan, died in the blast

The investigative committee, which is leading an inquiry into the bombing, said in a statement that six men were detained in St. Petersburg and two in Moscow. It said the explosive device, found in an apartment in St. Petersburg, was identical to the one the suicide bomber, Akbarzhon A. Jalilov, planted at the Vosstaniya Square station before he blew himself up between the Sennaya Square and the Technology Institute stations. Investigators discovered tinfoil, double-sided tape and other components of explosive devices in an apartment Mr. Jalilov rented in northeastern St. Petersburg, but there has been little to explain what turned a 22-year-old Russian with Uzbek roots into a suicide bomber.

April 18 Basmanny court arrested the alleged organizer of the terrorist act Abror Asimov. His calculated, practicing telephone contacts Jalilov.

Yesterday was arrested older brother Abror Asimov Akram. According to security officials, Akram Azimov participated in the financing of terrorist groups obtaining money from Turkey and also provides its members with forged documents. he denied any involvement in terrorist activities.

Akram Azimov is believed to have transferred funds used for the attack and set up links with international terrorist organisations

Video footage appeared to show a grenade in his money belt

Video footage appeared to show a grenade in his money belt

The FSB said the suspects, both from Central Asia, were killed in a shootout when they resisted arrest in a home in the Vladimir region east of Moscow.

They were in contact with recruiters from international terror organizations, had shown an interest in making bombs and expressed a readiness to carry out attacks in Russia, it said in a statement.

Millions of migrants from the poverty-stricken ex-Soviet countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan come to work in Russia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Syria and Chemical Weapons

Two chemical weapon attacks by Syria March 24 March 30 prior to April 4 attack. _ Rex Tillerson

The White House and the UK blamed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime for the attack that struck the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4 while many were still asleep.
The strike, killed 86 people, 27 of them children. Autopsies on three Syrians who died after being brought to Turkey for treatment suggest sarin was used in the attack.

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Early assessments by U.S. intelligence officials, Doctors Without Borders and the U.N. health agency suggested that chlorine gas and traces of sarin were used in the bombing.

Image result for syria chemical weapons

Sarin, also known as GB, is clear, colorless, tasteless and has no odor in its pure form. It is described as “a human-made chemical warfare agent classified as a nerve agent,” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC). It is generally a liquid, however it can evaporate into a gas and spread into the environment,

Image result for syria chemical weapons

 

March 19, 2013: 26 people in the town of Khan al-Assal , including several Syrian soldiers, die in a sarin gas attack in northern Syria. The government and rebels each blame the other for the incident.  A UN investigation later finds that sarin nerve gas was used.

An August 21 2013 attack used nerve gas to kill over 1,400 people in a rebel controlled village outside Damascus.

Following the 2013 Damascus attack, Syria joined the international Chemical Weapons Convention under a U.S.-Russian deal and agreed to hand over its stockpile of about 2.8 million pounds of toxic weapons as well as disable its chemical weapons program.
In 2014, Syria handed over the remaining 220,462 metric tons of toxic material it had reported to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which was set to be destroyed at sea. However, OPCW chief Ahmet Uzumcu told Reuters at the time that he could not confirm that that was the last of Syria’s chemical weapons. “All declared chemical weapons have left Syria (but) clearly we cannot say as the secretariat of the OPCW that Syria doesn’t possess any chemical weapons any more,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Transnistrian scenario” in Donbas

Chronologically, Russia’s 1992 aggression against Moldova in Transnistria became the “mother of frozen conflicts,” initiated and then frozen (or heated up again as needed) by post-Soviet Russia. In many ways, the Transnistria conflict presaged the methodology of Russia’s conflict undertakings in South Ossetia and Abkhazia against Georgia, and later in Crimea against Ukraine. It was also the Transnistria conflict that set the pattern of Western tolerance of Russia’s conduct in its claimed sphere of special interests.

Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine Kostyantyn Yeliseiev believes Russia is now implementing the so-called “Transnistrian scenario” in the occupied Donbas, at the same time not being interested in ending the hostilities, Segodnia reports.

Western diplomacy seems about to revert to pressuring Ukraine into a disadvantageous armistice and negotiations with Russia’s protégés in the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.” This could become the basis for creating a Transnistria-type Russian protectorate, frozen in place and time on Ukraine’s territory

Any Western diplomatic pressure on Ukraine to stop the advance of its forces, and negotiate instead, would bring about a Transnistria-type situation in Donbas. It would enable the “DPR” and “LPR” to survive under Russia’s protection, awarding Moscow a permanent lever of pressure upon the Western-oriented government of Ukraine. This scenario would also consolidate Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule at home.

The Transnistrian conflict was organized by leaders of the former Soviet Union who had approximately the same goal as did  Russia in organizing the conflict in the Donbas. In Moldova the supporters of independence held strong positions. Moldova was another Soviet republic, together with the Baltic countries and Georgia, that did not see its future in the Soviet Union long before the August 1991 coup. And then the Kremlin decided to look for “weak spots” in these republics. For Moldova, this was Transnistria, the several regions with predominately Russian and Ukrainian populations. These regions were patched together to form a new “republic” that advocated the preservation of the USSR. On August 19, 1991, the leaders of this insane creation supported the Moscow putsch, while the Moldovan leadership supported the Russian President Boris Yeltsin. It seemed that after the defeat of the putsch conspirators the issue of the restoration of the territorial integrity of Moldova would be decided on its own. The leaders of the separatists were arrested in Kyiv. The only thing lacking was the presence of the special operations of the Moldovan security forces to destroy the separatist abscess and restore the territorial integrity of the country.

The territory’s common border with Russia would pre-determine its de facto integration into Russia. Such integration would eventuate in two possible forms: Moscow could either turn the Donbas into an unrecognized buffer-state entity, or alternatively acknowledge the Donbas conditionally as a part of Ukraine, provided that Moscow-designated Donbas leaders are empowered to participate in Ukraine’s central governance and block its Western course. Annexing the Donbas outright, on the model of Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia, would constitute Moscow’s third-best (i.e., worst possible) option, politically and economically.

Big difference. On the implementation by the Kremlin of Transnistrian scenario in the Donbas in the past year, said the adviser of the President of Ukraine, Director of the National Institute for strategic studies of NAS of Ukraine Vladimir Gorbulin. Only, unlike Transnistria, the Kremlin is not interested in a full cessation of hostilities in the Donbass. According to the Deputy head of AP Konstantin Yeliseyev, using a constant escalation of hostilities, Russia is trying to destabilize the political and economic situation, to create a so-called “controlled instability” not to give Ukraine to create a positive background for the active and successful reform.

The conflict in Moldova with the collapse of the Soviet Union broke out after the calls to unite with Romania, but also on the basis of the language issue. People who did not know Moldovan (essentially Romanian) in favour of bilingualism: an introduction at the state level for two languages – Moldovan and Russian. It finally split the society, which resulted in the conflict. The role of Russia is more than obvious: during active combat operations, the Kremlin has supported pridnestrovskuyu side arms, and now in the “TMR” is still stationed Russian military base.

To solve the conflict in Transnistria and the Donbas, also tried using peace plans. As already I wrote “Today” in the article “a Report from Transnistria, Donbass and how to prepare for “presidential election”, in 2005 Moldova, Transnistria, Russia, Ukraine, OSCE, the United States (and the EU as observers) launched the format “5+2”.

Immediately after this, the Parliament of Moldova adopts the law on basic provisions of special legal status of Transnistria. The document is one to one similar to the law on the special status of Donbass, which the Verkhovna Rada adopted in the fall of 2014. As Donbass Transnistria is guaranteed the free use of Russian, Moldovan and Ukrainian languages, the right to establish external contacts with Russia in economic, scientific-technical and humanitarian spheres. The law on the special status of Transnistria was a “Plan of Yushchenko” peace plan for the settlement of the conflict which encouraged the Ukrainian side. But it was never implemented and in September 2006 on the referendum in “MRT” over 97% of residents voted for independence and joining Russia. But the Kremlin, much to the dismay of residents “PMR”, has been unrecognized Republic with open arms.

In the Donbas, especially on the eve of the presidential election in March 2018 (both times in March, three years have passed since the annexation of Crimea), according to Konstantin Eliseev is also possible to carry out “any referendums or local elections, even fake, from which Russia dissociate themselves, but in fact de facto will do its utmost to support and promote”. But, according to Deputy head of the AP, open the annexation ORDO the Kremlin unlikely, implementing “creeping transformation of the situation in the Transnistrian scenario.”

This is evidenced by at least five factors:

1. The establishment in the Donbass ruble zone
2. The creation of a single tax system, “DNR”/”LC”
3. Appearance in “DNR”/”LNR” their offer for the car
4. The recognition by Russia of passports “DNR”/”LC”
5. Expropriation of Ukrainian enterprises

All this was carried out in ARDLA year and a half, not to fall under even greater sanctions and not to be accused of disrupting the peace agreements. So, immediately after the capture of Ukrainian enterprises in the Russian press appeared information that the Russian holding company “Metalinvest” and “Severstal” is ready to supply iron ore. And the leaders of the militants “DNR”/”LNR” of Zakharchenko and Carpenter said about the direction in Russia, the first 95 cars of coal and two-year contract with the Crimea for the supply of 3.5 million tons of coal.

“According to our information ahead of the presidential elections Russia has cut funding for “DNR”/”LNR”. So they went on seizing Ukrainian companies to force them to pay taxes to their so-called local budgets”, – told the “Today” source in the Ukrainian dipkrugah.

“Moscow is not willing to assume the economic burden to rebuild the region (Crimea proved more expensive than expected Russian), said, “Today,” former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer. – Strategy of Russia for almost three years, is to use “boiling” the conflict in the Donbas to exert pressure, to distract and destabilize the Ukrainian government. This makes it difficult for Kiev, the necessary reforms and the implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU. Apparently, maintaining the “boiling” of the conflict is consistent with the purposes of the Kremlin; we have not seen serious Russian efforts to implement the second Minsk agreement”.

Unlike Moldova (from 1992 to date) and Georgia (1992–2008)—and unlike Ukraine itself in Crimea (February–March 2014—Ukraine does not face Russian conventional military forces stationed on the national territory. Moldova and Georgia accepted those Russian forces as “peacekeepers” under extreme duress, amid Western complacency. In Ukraine’s Donbas, however, Russia has yet to attempt introducing military “peacekeepers” in support of its paramilitaries. Russian diplomacy now seeks international acceptance of a “humanitarian operation,” which could develop into a military “peacekeeping” operation in Donbas

Russian forces currently massed on Ukraine’s northern and eastern borders seem to raise this prospect. Apparently, the Kremlin expects some Western governments to blink and press Ukraine into a negotiation process that would conserve the “DPR’s” and “LPR’s” existence, so as to avoid exacerbating Western-Russian relations. Such a course would amount to a unilateral Western “de-escalation,” instead of a Russian de-escalation that the West has been supplicating Putin to deliver. Western “de-escalation” could then turn into “normalization,” both on Russia’s terms; while the unresolved conflict is relegated to a diplomatic back burner.

Novorossiya. The Kremlin’s project to carve out a quasi-state under Russia’s protection in Ukraine’s east and south (“Novorossiya”) is a uniquely distinguishing feature of Russia’s new-type aggression against Ukraine. Targeting eight provinces of Ukraine, this project has failed to catch on in six of them thus far. Meanwhile, the “DPR” and “LPR” have merged politically into a would-be “Novorossiya,” aiming to become the center of gravity for Moscow’s original project. Odessa was a close call until May, Kharkiv remains a close call to date, Russia’s agents operate in other target areas, and Moscow’s television channels propagandize for Novorossiya intensely. In the earlier conflicts, Russia had not attempted to capture further Moldovan or Georgian territories beyond Transnistria or Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The project to expand from outlying footholds into the target country’s interior is one of the innovations of Russia’s war against Ukraine. Nationalist opinion in Russia views Transnistria as an integral part of “Novorossiya;” but Russia’s government has not as yet espoused this view.

In this regard, there is a need first to analyse the opportunities and risks due to freezing of the conflict.

Of course, the main advantage of “freezing” of the conflict is the ability to avoid the worst consequences associated with the continuation of hostilities: the losses among soldiers, civilians, internally displaced persons, property damage and destruction.

In addition, the frozen conflict enables States on whose territory the conflict occurs, in the short term to reduce the resources spent on the maintenance of unmanaged areas. In the end, this situation will enable you to concentrate on solving domestic problems, building competitive economy, creation of an efficient army, preparing their own peace plan and the like. The actual loss of control over the secessionist regions has not prevented Georgia (more successfully) and Moldova (less successfully) to make the necessary reforms towards European integration.

At the same time “freezing” of the conflict does not relieve a number of objective challenges facing this state.

First, the “frozen conflicts” are an effective tool to pressure from outside players. For example, the conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Transnistria remain the most effective lever of Russian influence in Georgia and Moldova, which periodically manifests itself in the form of military provocations and political blackmail.

Second, the unresolved conflict alienates the uncontrolled territories and hinders their reintegration. Over the last 25 years in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transnistria and Nagorno-Karabakh, a whole generation, the identity of which is not usually associated with Georgia, Moldova or Azerbaijan.

Third, the “frozen” conflicts as a favorable center for the smuggling of goods, weapons, drugs and for the emergence of other threats. These phenomena become a profitable business for both sides if the front line remains unchanged for a long time. So, smuggling in the Donbass does not require additional explanation after the beginning of the blockade by the activists.

Fourth, unresolved conflicts can provoke acute social and political contradictions around a solution — from a military scenario for the secession of the separatist entities. This situation is painfully familiar to every citizen of Ukraine, who is not indifferent to the world and the future of our state.

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