Russia This Week is a weekly review by the MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project, covering the latest Russia-related news and analysis from media in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Cartoon Of The Week
Caption: "The US threatens Russia with a pullout from a most important [INF] treaty" (Source: Vk.com/politics_today)
In The News:
- Nuclear War – Strategic Missile Force Commander Colonel-General Karakayev: Advanced Sarmat ICBM Will Begin In 'The Nearest Perspective'
- Black Sea
- France's Yellow Vest Protests
- Putin Mania – Japan’s Best-Selling Calendar Star Features Putin
- Putin Says Presidency Is Open To Anyone Willing To Dedicate His Life To Russia
- Poll Of The Week: Who Is The Man of The Year?
- News in Brief: Ukraine's Orthodox Church – Defense – Russia-Belarus Relations – Russia-Israel Relations – Russia-Venezuela Relations
Strategic Missile Force Commander Colonel-General Karakayev: Advanced Sarmat ICBM Will Begin In 'The Nearest Perspective'
Description of the ten warhead Sarmat each with a capacity of 750 KT(Source: Vk.com/politics_today)
Russia to begin flight tests of Sarmat ICBM in the nearest perspective. Flight tests of the most advanced Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) will begin in "the nearest perspective," Strategic Missile Force Commander Colonel-General Sergei Karakayev said in an interview with the military's Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper. According to Karakayev, the necessary infrastructure for the flight tests of Sarmat ICBM is being constructed at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in north Russia.
(Tass.com, December 17, 2018)
The rearmament of the Russian Strategic Missile Forces (RSMF) with the most advanced Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) will begin with the Uzhur-based strategic missile force division in 2021, RSMF Commander Colonel-General Sergei Karakayev told Krasnaya Zvezda in the interview. "We plan to start the rearmament with this missile complex starting in 2021 in the Uzhur-based missile force division, which currently has in operation its predecessor - the Voyevoda missile complex," Karakayev said.
(Tass.com, December 17, 2018)
- Russia submits draft resolution in support of INF Treaty to UN General Assembly. (Tass.com, December 15, 2018; read the full article)
Russian Expert Korotchenko: Our Military Will Not Let The Americans Perceive The Black Sea As A Region, Where They May Act As They Please
Igor Korotchenko, editor in chief of the "National Defense Magazine", wrote:
"The United States maintains a more or less permanent military presence in the Black Sea (albeit on a rotational basis, as the Montreux Convention forbids them a permanent presence) showing their flag there. This policy implies that Russia is regarded by them as a hostile state, thus the US is mounting such a military-political demonstration in order to display their resolve to 'contain' our country. On the other hand, in this case this is all also support for Ukraine after its inglorious provocation in the Kerch Strait ended in failure. So, we must be prepared for any provocations, any US persistent actions. We must also be ready to suppress them [the provocations] and put the US in its place. Our military will not let the Americans perceive the Black Sea as a region, where they may act as they please."
(Ria.ru, December 6, 2018)
Admiral (ret) Komoedov: If The Americans Enter In Our Waters, They Will Be Punished
Admiral (ret) Vladimir Komoedov, former commander of the Black Sea fleet wondered why the Americans need to be in the Black Sea given the nearby 6th Fleet presence in the Mediterranean and how they intended to back Ukraine, but he warned:
"If they enter our territorial waters, i.e. violate our sovereign border, then they will be punished. So, they should strongly secure their weapons, so everything will not fall down".
(Ria.ru, December 6, 2018)
MP Shvytkin: The State Border Is Untouchable; Our Response Will Be Serious Enough, So Some People In The US Will Have To Stockpile Toilet Paper
Yuri Shvytkin, deputy chair of the Duma's defense committee, stated:
"We do not care where the aggression or provocative actions come from – whether it comes from Ukraine or the US. This is of no particular importance to us. For us, the state border is untouchable. And we will act accordingly. I really would not like [to see] our submarines to surface on the US seashore."
(Ria.ru, December 6, 2018)
He later added: "I think our response will be serious enough, so some people in the US will have to stockpile toilet paper" [he means that in case of confrontation the US Navy as well as those who give order will defecate out of fear].
(Ria.ru, December 6, 2018)
France's Yellow Vest Protests
Kremlin Spokesperson Peskov: This Is Entirely An Internal Affair Of France
The current mass public unrest in France is entirely an internal affair of that country and one can hardly suspect any US influence on these events, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the media on Tuesday.
"I would not say so," Peskov said, when asked to comment on speculations that the US was behind mass unrest in France.
"In general, this is absolutely and entirely an internal affair of France, which is a rather important partner to us in bilateral relations and in international affairs," Peskov said. "Moscow's prime concern is the unrest should not cause casualties,and in particular, Russian citizens remain unharmed."
(Tass.com, December 11, 2018)
Influential Intellectual Lukyanov: Many Experts Say That Washington Is Behind The Yellow Vest Protests; Only Conspiracy Theories Are Left, Something Entirely Miserable
Earlier influential intellectual Fyodor Lukyanov published the following in his Telegram-channel Russia in Global Affairs:
"I've got a phone conversation from one of our glorious TV-channels today. They've asked to come to record a relevant comment on a hot topic – the riots in France: 'A wide spread opinion exists that Washington's intrigues are behind them, we want you to tell us about this'. The response for my not very polite answer, that I'm not going to disseminate absurdity, don't you ask to do that, was business -like: 'Ok, got it, it's not your piece of cake'. As like, all right we'll proceed down the list [of experts]. Where art thou you Marxist-Leninism? At least this paradigm tried to provide a semblance of a scientific basis in explaining the reality. Nothing like that remains, only conspiracy theories are left, something entirely miserable."
Putin Stars In Japan’s Best-Selling Calendar
"Russian President Vladimir Putin is surpassing dashing Japanese heartthrobs in 2019 calendar sales thanks to an unexpected legion of young fans.
"The calendar, exclusively sold by the popular Japanese chain store Loft, has reportedly surpassed all other 'celebrity' calendars - including those of native superstars…
"Japan Today speculated that the calendars are being bought as a practical joke given the astronomical fanbase native Japanese celebrities enjoy…
"However, Japanese news outlet Livedoor claims that a recent explosion of young women who are self-proclaimed 'Putin fans' are actually responsible for the hike in sales."
(Rt.com, December 17, 2018)
Putin Says Presidency Is Open To Anyone Willing To Dedicate His Life To Russia
At an open lesson during the Proyektoria technology forum, Putin said:
"Anyone can become president, regardless of their profession, but as a rule, people who have a law or economy background become heads of state, as they are familiar with social processes and laws, as well as with people-to-people interaction. This kind of professional knowledge and skills are relevant and useful… But again, in fact, persons with any professional background can become heads of state and prime ministers…
"There also are people with other professional knowledge and skills, but the most important thing is that if people choose this path, they must make a decision whether they are ready to dedicate their entire life - or at least, a large part of their life - to the cause…
"A person who does not empathize with patients cannot be a good doctor. A doctor has to love patients, go deep into their problems and try to solve them as if they were his or her own. The same goes for prime ministers… and presidents."
(Tass.com, December 13, 2018)
- I did not want to be president, rejected offer made by Yeltsin – Putin. (Rt.com, December 13, 2018; read the full article)
Poll Of The Week: Who Is The Man of The Year?
The Public Opinion Foundation conducted a poll, asking Russians to select the "man of the year" among Russian politicians and public figures.
According to the poll, Russian President Vladimir Putin received the highest percentage of respondents (29%), followed by Russian FM Sergey Lavrov (7%), LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky (4%), Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (3%) and Communist Party of the Russian Federation's presidential nominee Pavel Grudinin (2%).
17% of the Russian respondents answered that there is no man of the year among the Russian politicians and 34% said that it was too difficult to answer.
The poll was conducted on December 8-9 in 104 towns in 53 regions. The foundation interviewed a sample of 1500 people.
(Ria.ru, December 14, 2018)
News in Brief:
Ukraine's Orthodox Church
- Epiphany Dumenko has been elected as the leader of the "local Orthodox Church and Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine," Culture Minister Yevgeny Nishchuk announced from the stage on the square in front of the St. Sophia Cathedral… Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced the creation of the "Ukrainian local Orthodox autocephalous church" to the assembled. "Congratulations everyone on the creation of the Ukrainian local autocephalous Orthodox church, which has just taken place at Saint Sophia's [Cathedral] ," he said. (Interfax-religion.com, December 15, 2018; read the full article)
- The so-called "unification assembly" held in Kiev, which elected the leader of the new Ukrainian "church" independent from Moscow, is canonically nil, the Russian Orthodox Church said. (Interfax-religion.com, December 15, 2018; read the full article)
- Ukraine's President Poroshenko said he will travel to Istanbul with the newly-elected leader of the "local Orthodox Church," Metropolitan Epiphany of Kiev and All Ukraine, to receive the Tomos. (Interfax-religion.com, December 15, 2018; read the full article)
- Russia's Ministry of Defense received 35 new types of weapons and equipment in 2018. This was announced on December 15 by the Deputy Minister of Defense General of the Army Dmitry Bulgakov on Russia 24 TV channel. On 14 December, the Russia Admiral Vladimir Korolev said that Russia is works on creation of nuclear submarines of fifth generation. (Iz.ru, December 15, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
- President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has suggested that under the pretext of "deeper integration," Moscow seeks to incorporate Belarus into Russia. (Unian.info, December 14, 2018; read the full article)
- Sovereignty is a sacred thing for Belarus. Lukashenko made the statement as he met with representatives of the Russian mass media community on 14 December. The head of state reminded that in the past he came up with multiple proposals regarding the development of the Union State of Belarus and Russia, however, not all of them were well-received by the Russian side. Now Russia once again raises these issues but in broad strokes while mixing up politics and economy. "What for? Why now all of a sudden? What would Russia want to accomplish? What does Russia offer?" wondered Alexander Lukashenko. "I want you to remember that sovereignty is a sacred thing for us. I've talked about it already. It is comparative independence. I don't think there are any truly independent countries. And you [Russia] are not that independent, but sovereign," said Alexander Lukashenko. "If you want to split Belarus into oblasts and merge with Russia just like [the Russian MP Vladimir] Zhirinovsky suggests, it will never happen. If the Russian leadership thinks like that, it is detrimental to Russia." Asked to clarify whether he felt some threat to Belarus' sovereignty, Alexander Lukashenko noted there are always threats from one side or another. "But I am the president and it is my job to secure the country's sovereignty according to the Constitution," said the head of state. In his words, he feels a larger threat from the southern border, from where weapons are now smuggled. The fact is a problem and a danger. (Belta.by, December 14, 2018; read the full article)
- Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov claimed that the issue of uniting Russia and Belarus into one state is not on the agenda. (Gazeta.ru, December 17, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
- Writing in Rosbalt.ru, Dmitry Travin of St. Petersburg's European University speculated that unifying Russia and Belarus could offer Putin a way out of his constitutional dilemma when his second presidential term expires in 2024. "Our people will most likely not be offended by the wiliness of the ruler and will even rejoice at the expansion of the borders of our great power." (Rosbalt.ru, December, 17, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
- The issue of accommodating a Russian airbase on the territory of Belarus is not on the agenda, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting with media outlets from Russia. (Tass.com, December 14, 2018; read the full article)
- Russia blamed the Israeli Air Force that was carrying out airstrikes against the Syrian province of Latakia of using a Russian Il-20 as a shield against the Syrian air defense systems, which led to the downing of the Russian plane. Israel has denied the accusations and insisted that Moscow had been warned about the air operation in a timely manner. An Israeli lawmaker from the governing Likud party, David Bitan, told journalists that Tel Aviv considers the incident involving the downing of the Russian Il-20 spy plane as handled. He added that the matter of financial compensation for the downing of the Russian plane should be discussed between the Russian president and the Israeli prime minister. (Sputniknews.com, December 14, 2018; read the full article)
- During their visit to Venezuela, two Russian strategic bombers carried out a planned flight over the Caribbean Sea and held military drills in the equatorial area, including joint flights with Venezuelan Air Force jets. (Sputniknews.com, December 15, 2018; watch the video of Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers return from Venezuela)