Category : Ukraine

(NYT) In Ukraine, Could a Malware Expert Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking?

The hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the dark web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.

Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in Russian hacking in the United States. American intelligence agencies have determined Russian hackers were behind the electronic break-in of the Democratic National Committee.

But while Profexer’s online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I.

“I don’t know what will happen,” he wrote in one of his last messages posted on a restricted-access website before going to the police. “It won’t be pleasant. But I’m still alive.”

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Posted in Blogging & the Internet, Europe, Science & Technology, The U.S. Government, Ukraine

(The Hill) Russian-made missile downed jet over Ukraine, according to MH17 report

The Malaysian passenger plane that went down over eastern Ukraine last year was downed by a Russian-developed Buk missile, the Dutch Safety Board says in a long-awaited report.

The surface-to-air missile detonated outside the front, left part of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 cockpit and caused other parts of the Boeing 777 to break off, according to the report released Tuesday.

The report does not say who fired the missile that brought down the plane, but suggests it should not have been flying in the area due to the risk from armed conflict there.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Asia, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Malaysia, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Travel, Ukraine

(Time) Ian Bremmer–These 5 Facts Explain Putin’s War in Syria

You have to give Vladimir Putin credit””he has a special talent for changing facts on the ground and daring others to do something about it. Russian bombs are now falling on Syria, though Putin’s intentions remain a subject of debate. But here’s the bottom line: Russia’s strongman has restored his country’s status as a major international player. These 5 facts explain Putin’s calculations for joining the fight for Syria.

1. Putin’s Popularity

Putin has used tough foreign policy words and deeds to boost his popularity at home from the very start.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Psychology, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(FP) Paul McCraery–The Cold War in Europe is back, but the borders have moved

“Anti-access/area denial, or A2/AD, is a growing problem,” Gen. Philip Breedlove, supreme allied commander Europe and commander of U.S. European Command, told an audience in Washington on Monday. Kaliningrad has given Moscow the ability to better defend the Baltic, while the annexation of Crimea has done the same on the Black Sea, he said.

“The geography of Europe has changed” since the end of the Cold War, Benitez said. “The geography of NATO has changed. In the Cold War NATO’s borders were in the center of the continent, but now the front lines are the Baltics, and you’re drawn to that small land bridge [near Suwalki].”

“The Russians have chosen to make this the new zone of friction, that’s where you’re seeing the air provocations,” such as Russian warplanes flying with transponders off, said Benitez.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia, The U.S. Government, Theology, Ukraine

(AP) Ukraine urges EU to keep up sanctions pressure on Russia

Ukraine urged the European Union on Thursday to stay united in keeping up sanctions pressure on Russia over the conflict in eastern Ukraine, as EU leaders gathered for a two-day summit.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to divide Europe over Ukraine and that this would be a “disaster for the free world.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

(FT) Wolfgang Münchau–Europe puts future at risk by playing it safe

…look where Greece has ended up after five years of crisis resolution. It has had one of the worst performances in economic history; yet we have just concluded an extension of the same policy.

Can this be sustainable? The pragmatists in Europe’s chancelleries say they can roll over loans indefinitely at very low interest rates. Economically, this is the equivalent of a debt writedown; yet politically it is easier to deliver because you do not need to recognise losses. The equivalent statement in a military conflict would be: if you renew a ceasefire often enough, you end up with peace.

This type of argument is not only immoral and dishonest. It also does not work. While you play this game of ex­tend-and-pretend, the real economy implodes: austerity has caused a meltdown in income and employment. Monetary policy mistakes caused a fall in eurozone-wide inflation rates that made it impossible for Greece and other periphery countries to improve the competitiveness they lost in the early years of monetary union.

If the EU deals with Ukraine in the same way it dealt with Greece, you can expect to see a parallel development in a few years.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Credit Markets, Currency Markets, Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Euro, Europe, European Central Bank, Foreign Relations, Greece, Politics in General, Russia, The Banking System/Sector, Ukraine

(Spectator) Anne Applebaum–How Vladimir Putin is waging war on the West ”“ and winning

Last month, the speaker of the Russian parliament solemnly instructed his foreign affairs committee to launch a historical investigation: was West Germany’s ”˜annexation’ of East Germany really legal? Should it be condemned? Ought it to be reversed? Last week, the Russian foreign minister, speaking at a security conference in Munich, hinted that he might have similar doubts. ”˜Germany’s reunification was conducted without any referendum,’ he declared, ominously.

At this, the normally staid audience burst out laughing. The Germans in the room found the Russian statements particularly hilarious. Undo German unification? Why, that would require undoing the whole post-Cold War settlement!

Which is indeed a very amusing notion ”” unless you think that this is exactly what the Russian speaker, the Russian foreign minister, and indeed the Russian President, a man who once called the collapse of the Soviet Union ”˜the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century’, are in fact trying to achieve.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(BBC) Ukraine crisis: 'Last chance' for peace says Hollande

A peace plan drawn up by France and Germany is “one of the last chances” to end the conflict in east Ukraine, French leader Francois Hollande says.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was unclear if the plan would succeed, but it was “definitely worth trying”.

Mr Hollande said the plan would include a demilitarised zone of 50-70km (31-44 miles) around the current front line.

The leaders are attempting to end the fighting in Ukraine between government troops and pro-Russia rebels.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, France, Germany, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(Foreign Affairs) Ukraine Reignites-Why Russia Should be Added to the State Sponsors of Terrorism L

Now, with the new offensive in the Dontesk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Moscow is looking to decisively win the battle in the Donbas (the name for these two regions) by propagating terrorism and political instability across Ukraine. The terrorists’ training takes place at Novaya Rus (New Russia) coordinating centres in the Russian cities of Belgorod, Tambov, Taganrog, and Rostov; in Moldova’s frozen conflict zone of Transdniestr; and in Crimea’s port of Sevastopol, home of the Black Sea Fleet. Captured terrorists from the Svat group, who were active in the Mariupol region, have testified to attending training camps in Sevastopol. There, they say, they were taught how to build bombs, wage guerrilla urban warfare, and conduct reconnaissance and intelligence operations behind enemy lines. The Russian military intelligence service (GRU) and Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) lead the training.

At their training, the terrorists are given five strategic goals. First, blow up train lines and key government buildings, launch small-scale hit-and-run attacks on offices at military”“industrial plants, and bomb pro-Ukraine rallies, military recruiting centres, and National Guard training facilities. Second, destabilize the country and provoke panic using whatever means at hand. The third goal is to collect intelligence on the movements of Ukrainian armed forces and National Guard battalions to help plan future terrorist attacks. Fourth, terrorists are supposed to establish underground print shops to publish pro-Russian separatist leaflets and newspapers. And finally, they are told to infiltrate Ukrainian National Guard battalions.

The training, to some degree, is working. …

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Terrorism, Theology, Ukraine

USA Today–2014 was a devastating year for children

This year recorded the highest number of children caught in conflict zones who were directly and deliberately attacked. The targeting of children in conflict is not new, but it’s rising at an alarming rate. In 2014, more children were killed, kidnapped, tortured, raped, forcibly recruited by armed groups and even sold as slaves than at any time in recent history.

The numbers are grim. In Pakistan, over 130 students ”” most of them 12 to 16 years old””were slaughtered in a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar earlier this month. In the Central African Republic, where 2.3 million children are entangled in a long-running sectarian conflict, as many as 10,000 children are believed to have been recruited as child soldiers, and more than 430 children were killed and maimed this year ”” three times as many as in 2013. When violence erupted in Israel and Gaza last summer, more than 530 children were killed, at least 3,370 children injured, and 54,000 children were left homeless, while countless others hid in fear from rockets, artillery and air strikes.

In Syria, where civil war, now approaching its fifth year, has created 1.7 million child refugees, there were at least 35 attacks on schools, killing and injuring hundreds of children. In Iraq, at least 700 children are believed to have been maimed, killed or even executed this year. In South Sudan, an estimated 12,000 children have been recruited and forced to fight in an ongoing civil war that has caused more than a million children to flee their homes. In Ukraine, 128,000 children have been displaced by violence.

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Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Iraq, Middle East, Parish Ministry, Politics in General, Syria, Theology, Ukraine

Ukraine Crisis Risks Spinning Out of Control, Samantha Power Says

The crisis in Ukraine is at risk of spinning out of control, a top U.S. diplomat said, as European leaders remained split over imposing deeper sanctions on Russia for backing a rebellion that’s killed thousands of people.

Russia must stop violating a Sept. 5 cease-fire agreement signed in Minsk, Belarus, Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told journalists today, citing a growing number of military convoys in Ukraine’s rebel-held regions and increased shelling of the Donetsk airport. Ukraine’s foreign minister said his country is prepared to defend itself after NATO warned Russia was sending combat troops across its border. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies military involvement.

“Is there a risk that the situation is getting out of control? Yes, there is that risk,” Power said. It’s “an extremely worrying period.”

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(Bloomberg) Ukraine Lurches Back Toward Open War on East Fighting

Ukraine’s east lurched back toward open war as the government in Kiev and pro-Russian rebels accused each other of starting major offensives in the region.

The Ukrainian government said there were 26 outbreaks of fighting yesterday between its forces and separatists in the east, while the rebels said the Kiev government’s troops had gone on a large-scale military push there.

The standoff is coming to a head after Ukraine and its allies accused separatists of undermining peace efforts with Nov. 2 elections in Donetsk and Luhansk. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Nov. 5 that Ukraine’s “civil war” isn’t subsiding as cities continue to come under shelling and the civilian death toll rises.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Defense, National Security, Military, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine

For Many, Ukraine a Nation That Seems Less Free From Moscow’s Dominance Than Ever

Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian leader, they say, got everything he wanted by attacking Ukraine overtly in Crimea and covertly in the southeast.

The vague cease-fire terms in the southeast are likely to only freeze the conflict. It could leave Russia’s thuggish proxies running the area and create a permanent geographic Taser that Moscow could use to zap Ukraine at will, leaving it unstable and less than sovereign.

The association agreement with the European Union ”” described by its advocates as the catalyst for broad reform ”” has been delayed until the beginning of 2016 because of Russian objections, leaving its fate uncertain.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia, Theology, Ukraine, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Roger Cogen–Are we in the Midst of The Great Unraveling?

It was the time of unraveling. Long afterward, in the ruins, people asked: How could it happen?

It was a time of beheadings. With a left-handed sawing motion, against a desert backdrop, in bright sunlight, a Muslim with a British accent cut off the heads of two American journalists and a British aid worker. The jihadi seemed comfortable in his work, unhurried. His victims were broken. Terror is theater. Burning skyscrapers, severed heads: The terrorist takes movie images of unbearable lightness and gives them weight enough to embed themselves in the psyche.

It was a time of aggression. The leader of the largest nation on earth pronounced his country encircled, even humiliated. He annexed part of a neighboring country, the first such act in Europe since 1945, and stirred up a war on further land he coveted. His surrogates shot down a civilian passenger plane. The victims, many of them Europeans, were left to rot in the sun for days. He denied any part in the violence, like a puppeteer denying that his puppets’ movements have any connection to his. He invoked the law the better to trample on it. He invoked history the better to turn it into farce. He reminded humankind that the idiom fascism knows best is untruth so grotesque it begets unreason.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Africa, Defense, National Security, Military, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Foreign Relations, History, Politics in General, Russia, Scotland, Theology, Ukraine

(Economist) Vladimir Putin is winning in the Ukraine; the West must steel itself for a long game

Mr Putin’s first choice was to suborn Ukraine without invading it, but by demonstrating his willingness to use force, he has sown fear””and, for Mr Putin, fear is the basic currency of politics. A puny, divided response has emasculated the West, which he thinks is bent on weakening and encircling Russia. For him, Russia’s post-Soviet history has been a catalogue of American-inflicted humiliation, which it is his mission to reverse. He wants his neighbours to be weak more than he wants Russians to be prosperous; he prefers vassals to allies.

This world view””a noxious compound of KGB cynicism and increasingly messianic Russian nationalism””propelled him into Ukraine. The idea that his adventurism will end in the Donbas is as naive as the theory that he would be satisfied when his troops wrenched Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia in 2008. This week Mr Putin rattled his sabre at Kazakhstan, still ruled by the elderly Nursultan Nazarbayev: any succession squabble would be an opportunity. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, small, ex-Soviet countries, have Russian-speaking minorities of the kind Mr Putin has undertaken to “protect”. These Baltic states joined NATO in 2004. But what if a Russian-financed separatist movement sprang up, a Baltic government claimed this amounted to an invasion and its NATO allies refused to help? The alliance’s bedrock””its commitment to mutual self-defence””would be shattered.

Mr Putin’s revanchism must therefore be stopped in Ukraine.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine