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October 24, 2018 No.
7727

Russia This Week – Focus On The INF Treaty – October 24, 2018

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


(Tsargrad.tv)

Putin Says


(Source: Pravda.ru)

'We, As The Victims Of An Aggression, We, As Martyrs, Would Go To Paradise While They Will Simply Perish Because They Won't Even Have Time To Repent Their Sins'

Vladimir Putin took part in the plenary session of the 15th anniversary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. On that occasion, Putin said:

"I have said that our nuclear weapons doctrine does not provide for a pre-emptive strike. I would like to ask all of you and those who will later analyze and in one way or another interpret my every word here, to keep in mind that there is no provision for a pre-emptive strike in our nuclear weapons doctrine. Our concept is based on a reciprocal counter strike. There is no need to explain what this is to those who understand, as for those who do not, I would like to say it again: this means that we are prepared and will use nuclear weapons only when we know for certain that some potential aggressor is attacking Russia, our territory. I am not revealing a secret if I say that we have created a system which is being upgraded all the time as needed – a missile early warning radar system. This system monitors the globe, warning about the launch of any strategic missile at sea and identifying the area from which it was launched. Second, the system tracks the trajectory of a missile flight. Third, it locates a nuclear warhead drop zone.

"Only when we know for certain – and this takes a few seconds to understand – that Russia is being attacked we will deliver a counter strike. This would be a reciprocal counter strike. Why do I say 'counter'? Because we will counter missiles flying towards us by sending a missile in the direction of an aggressor. Of course, this amounts to a global catastrophe but I would like to repeat that we cannot be the initiators of such a catastrophe because we have no provision for a pre-emptive strike. Yes, it looks like we are sitting on our hands and waiting until someone uses nuclear weapons against us. Well, yes, this is what it is. But then any aggressor should know that retaliation is inevitable and they will be annihilated. And we, as the victims of an aggression, we, as martyrs, would go to paradise while they will simply perish because they won't even have time to repent their sins."

(Kremlin.ru, October 18, 2018)

In The News:

  • Reactions To Trump's Pledge To Pull Out Of The INF Treaty
  • Bolton's Visit To Russia
  • Trump-Putin Meeting In Paris
  • Pension Reform
  • Bread Prices
  • Interview Of The Week
  • News In Short

Reactions To Trump's Pledge To Pull Out Of The INF Treaty

On October 20, U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to pull out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a key Cold War arms deal with Russia, after accusing Moscow of violating it.

On October 22, National Security Adviser John Bolton arrived in Moscow and he met with Russian FM Sergey Lavrov. The next day, Boston met with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Below are reactions to Trump's pledge to pull out of the INF Treaty:


U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev signing the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in the White House on December 8 1987. (Source: Wikipedia)

Gorbachev: It Is Forbidden To Tear Up The INF Treaty

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, one of the INF signatories, stated:

"It's absolutely forbidden to tear up the old disarmament agreements. Is it that hard to understand that, as our common saying goes, it's done because of 'lack of brain?'

"If they [the Americans] do not know what to do, I'll tell them. They should get rid of the disease of the 'aspiration not to fulfill previously signed agreements on nuclear disarmament!'"

(Rbc.ru, October 21, 2018)

https://www.rbc.ru/politics/21/10/2018/5bcc7f3e9a7947e208aa4f82?utm_source=pushc

Senator Pushkov: Trump Does Not Make America Great Again, But He Makes It More Vulnerable Again

Senator Alexey Pushkov, chairman of the commission for information policy and relations with the media of Russia's Federation Council upper parliament house, stated: "If, having withdrawn from the IBM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty, the United States (and all this is happening through its initiative) will withdraw from the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty and will not extend the New START Treaty, we will find ourselves at ground zero, at a point that led to the Cuban Missile Crisis."

Pushkov also tweeted:

"Pulling out of treaties, limiting nuclear weapons, Trump does not make America great again, but he makes it more vulnerable again. The U.S. will not be able to gain the decisive superiority in this sphere. This is a very dangerous illusion. Trump is better to change his mind."

(Ria.ru, October 21, 2018)

https://ria.ru/world/20181021/1531131213.html

Senator Klintsevich: They Want To Draw Us Into An Arms Race

Senator Frants Klintsevich, member of the Russian Federation Council's committee on defense and security, said: "It's clear that the US does not have any evidence to prove that Russia violated the Treaty conditions. This decision, which was made without taking into account the interests of allies in Europe, is a direct reflection of the strategy of sudden movements which the US has consistently pursued on the international arena over the last years," he added.

"They want to draw us into an arms race, like it happened before with the Soviet Union. It won't work. I don't have any doubts that our country will be able to ensure its security under any circumstances."

(Tass.com, October 21, 2018)

Senator Kosachev: The West Should Choose Between A Nuclear Conflict And Self-Preservation

Senator Konstantin Kosachev, head of Russian Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, stated: "Now the Western allies of the U.S. need to make a choice: either to opt for the same path, which possibly leads to a new war, or take the side of a common sense, judging by the instinct for self-preservation. That's because hardly anybody will survive a nuclear conflict, which is approaching after the U.S. unilateral decision on the INF Treaty."

(Tass.com, October 21, 2018)

Kosachev further stated in an interview with the Rossiya-24 television channel: "We should respond not to the very fact of Washington's withdrawal from the treaty but rather to its practical steps when it is free to do whatever it wants. And, as our president has said, Russia has all the military technical premises for that, its reaction will be rapid."

(Tass.com, October 21, 2018)

Kosachev also commented: "The criticism of the INF Treaty that it imposes restrictions only on the United States and Russia is justified in general and our country has also voiced a similar position many times in the past. The treaty should become universal and the Russian initiative put forward back in 2007 is on the table."

(Tass.com, October 23, 2018)

Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov: The INF Treaty Creates Problems To The US To Pursue Total Domination; We Will Have To Retaliate, Including With Military Measures

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stated:

"At first glance, I can say that apparently the INF Treaty creates problems for pursuing the line towards the US total domination in military sphere… Apparently, inability and unwillingness to come to terms with us on a sound foundation push certain forces in Washington to encourage the country's leadership to make a decision on a formal withdrawal from the treaty…

"This would be a very dangerous step, which, I'm sure, won't be just understood by the international community, but arouse serious condemnation of all members of the world community, who are committed to security and stability and are ready to work on strengthening the current regimes in arms control."

(Tass.com, October 21, 2018)

Ryabkov also said: "The Americans continue acting in a rude and awkward way, as we see in different examples, if they keep unilaterally pulling out of agreements and international mechanisms - JCPOA or World Posting Union for example – then we'll have no other choice but to retaliate, including by military-political measures. But, we don't want to get there. The rude and awkward American policy causes a mounting resentment in wide circles of international community. Washington should not underestimate this shift in moods."

(Ria.ru, October 21, 2018)

https://ria.ru/world/20181021/1531129322.html

MP Slutsky: There Will Be A New Cold War And Arms Race

MP Leonid Slutsky, chair of the Duma International Affairs Committee, said that pulling out INF treaty will lead to halting prolongation of the START III treaty:

"In its turn, non-prolongation of START III treaty in 2021 may lead to pulling out of NPT (Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty) , thus the global system of non-proliferation and disarmament, which took decades to work on, will totally collapse. As a 100 % result of this there will be a new Cold War and arms race, which put the world on the verge of nuclear catastrophe. And that would be undesirable."

(Ria.ru, October 21, 2018)

https://ria.ru/world/20181021/1531132525.html

MP Novikov: Washington Wants To Dictate Its Will To The World

MP Dmitry Novikov, first deputy chair of the Duma International Affairs Committee, said:

"Of course, this decision ruins the very remains of the security system, which has been actively formed earlier by the USSR and the US. This will have a negative impact on the general configuration of the international relations. Russia will have to officially access the situation, and the response will follow by the MFA, and not only by the MFA…

"We face yet once again the situation when the US are ready to dictate their will to the world by abolishing limitations, which they've undertaken previously by themselves according to circumstances of that time".

(Ria.ru, October 21, 2018)

https://ria.ru/world/20181021/1531134207.html

MP Shvytkin: Washington Wants A Unipolar World

MP Yuri Shvytkin, deputy chair of the Duma Defense Committee, stated:

"Unfortunately, despite the [INF]1987 treaty, the US have accused Russia of multiple breaches, which does not coincide with the reality. In my view, this is one more step towards forwarding a unipolar world policy."

(Ria.ru, October 21, 2018)

https://ria.ru/world/20181021/1531129869.html

MP Shamanov: Russia's Response Will Be Adequate And In The Framework Of Our Financial Capabilities

MP Vladimir Shamanov, Duma Defense Committee Chairman and former Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Airborne Troops, stated: "Short-an intermediate-range missiles are a tactical area of confrontation. This [the US withdrawal from the INF Treaty] will lead to a further arms race. We have worked out some measures and the president in his address to the Federal Assembly made it clear that we would not sit idle…

"We have made a number of measures of an organizing and scientific and technical character, the response will be absolutely adequate and in the framework of our financial capabilities, that's enough. We won't allow them to blackmail us."

(Tass.com, October 21, 2018)

Read More:

  • Statement by the Russian delegation in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly on "Nuclear Weapons" cluster, New York, October 22, 2018. (Mid.ru, October 22, 2018; read the full statement)

Bolton's Visit To Russia

On October 23, Russian President Putin met with U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton. Taking part in the meeting from the Russian side were Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.

Earlier that day, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with John Bolton. On October 22, Nikolai Patrushev and Sergei Lavrov also had talks with the Assistant to the US President.

During the meeting, in commenting on U.S. policy, Putin teased Bolton, asking him whether the eagle on the Great Seal of the United States had eaten the olives on the olive branches – a symbol of peace – leaving only the arrows.

Bolton also teased Putin, reminding him that the U.S. motto is "E pluribus unum," – "out of many, one."

Below are excerpts of the meeting's transcript:

Putin: "Mr. Bolton, colleagues,

"We are pleased to see you in Moscow.

"At the beginning of our conversation I would like to recall our meeting with the President of the United States in Helsinki. In my view, it was a useful, and at times fairly tough, meeting and conversation which ultimately turned out to be fruitful, in my opinion.

"This is why, to be honest, we are sometimes perplexed to see the United States take absolutely unprovoked steps towards Russia that we cannot call friendly. We actually do not even respond to your steps, yet this approach continues.

"Despite your efforts trade between our countries – however strange it might seem – continues to grow, 16 percent last year; this year it has already grown by 8 percent. This is small in absolute numbers, very small, of course, however, this is the trend. With a positive balance for the United States, by the way. Mutual investments are also growing with Russian investments in the US economy at twice the US investments in the Russian economy.

"It will, of course, be very useful to exchange views on the issues of strategic stability, disarmament issues, and regional conflicts.

"We know – and talk a lot – about the unilateral exit of the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. We recently heard about the United States' intention to exit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. We know about the Administration's doubts about prolonging New START and hear about the intention to deploy some elements of the anti-missile defense system in space.

"As I recall, there is a bald eagle pictured on the U.S. coat of arms: it holds 13 arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other as a symbol of peaceful policy: a branch with 13 olives. My question: Has your eagle already eaten all the olives, leaving only the arrows?

"In general, I would like very much to talk with you not only as the Assistant to the US President, but also as a specialist on disarmament and arms control.

"And, of course, it would be useful to continue a direct dialogue with the US President, first of all, on the sidelines of the international events that will take place soon, such as the one in Paris. Of course, if the US is interested in such contacts."

Assistant to the President of the United States of America for National Security Affairs John Bolton: "Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. It is a pleasure to see you again. I appreciate you taking the time to get together and will be pleased to go over all the items on the agenda.

"And to begin, as you indicated I think President Trump will look forward to seeing you in Paris, on the sidelines of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice. Because despite our differences, which exist because of our different national interests, it is still important to work in areas where there is a possibility of mutual cooperation.

"And I had discussions with all of your senior national security advisors in the past two days, and again, I am grateful for the opportunity to speak with you on behalf of President Trump. And hopefully, I'll have some answers for you, but I didn't bring any olives."

Vladimir Putin: "My thoughts exactly."

(Laughter.)

John Bolton: "The olive branch is held in the right talon of the eagle, demonstrating its priority."

Vladimir Putin: "If I remember correctly, there is also an inscription: In Varietate Concordia, United in Diversity. This is why, despite different approaches, we can and should look for points of contact."

John Bolton: "That's very much our intention, though our motto is 'E pluribus unum,' 'Out of many, one,' so maybe it is something to look forward to there."

(Kremlin.ru, October 23, 2018)

Trump-Putin Meeting In Paris

During US National Security Adviser John Bolton's visit, Russian president's aide Yuri Ushakov said that an agreement was reached to organize a Russian-US summit with Trump and Putin, in Paris on November 11 on the sidelines of the 100th anniversary celebration of the armistice after World War I.

(Tass.com, October 24, 2018)

Pension Reform

Rossiyskaya Gazeta published a survey commenting on Russia's pension reform.

About a third of the respondents plan to continue working after receiving a pension. Only 16% plan to live on their pension, the remainder will try to find for themselves supplementary sources of income.

On average survey participants would wish to receive for the 37,300 rubles a month for pension. This compares with 35,000 in a similar survey two years ago. Men want to receive a higher pension than women – 38,900 as opposed to 35,800, respectively. Older people also specified a higher pension.

These figures are higher than the government pension after the reforms and the Russians are willing to work and moonlight to get a higher pension. Older people count on income from work and the government pension and least frequently on personal savings.

(Rg.ru, October 23, 2018)

MP Yaroslav Nilov, head of the Duma Labor, Social Policy, and Veterans Affairs committee, said that the 37,300 ruble pension rate for the majority of the population would be unattainable.

"These are the anticipated figures, but for the majority of the citizens the receipt of such payments is most unfortunately not the case. In the upcoming five years, the situation in comparison with today is not going to change very markedly."

(Ura.ru October 23, 2018)

Bread Prices

Bread prices are rising in Russia, on an average of 8%-12%. Bakeries, which had not raised prices on October 1, plan to raise them on November 1. This seemingly contradicted the Ministry of Agriculture announcement that the improved wheat harvests would permit a lowering of grain prices. Irina Glazunov, deputy director of the Agricultural Market Conditions Institute, claimed that there was no contradiction, as flour accounted for only 20% of the bread price.

The government has, at best, the option of talking to the bread producers asking them to hold down prices. Sometimes this could be done with the help of subsidies, but whether these loaves would be tasty was another matter.

(Utro.ru October 23, 2018)

Interview Of The Week


Dmitry Medvedev's interview with Euronews TV channel. (Source: Government.ru)

The Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev answers questions of TV host Tesa Arcilla ahead of the 12th ASEM Summit, which took place October 18 and 19 in Brussels.

Below are excerpts of the interview with Medvedev:

Medvedev: Sanctions Against The Banking Sector Are A Declaration Of Trade War

Tesa Arcilla: "Now I want to ask you about the US-imposed sanctions. You mentioned that that they brought it up on Russia over election interference. You said that American sanctions against Russian banks would amount to a declaration of economic war. But does Russia see itself at war with America or anyone who imposed sanctions on your country?"

Dmitry Medvedev: "I have spoken out on this matter before.

"Clearly, the tightening of the screws in the sanctions stand-off will end in nothing good. The Americans keep saying that they intend to build up the sanction pressure. I have already said and want to repeat again that sanctions against the Soviet Union (although we are not the Soviet Union and although the Russian state has other values, we are, nevertheless, the legal successors to the Soviet Union) were announced 10 times during the 20th century. I repeatedly mentioned this. Did it change the Soviet Union's policy in any respect? Sanctions were announced against the People's Republic of China. Did it change in any respect the course followed by the political leadership of China? And so on and so forth. Sanctions are an absolutely counter-productive idea.

"And sanctions against the banking sector are, in fact, a declaration of trade war. These are the hardest sanctions. But without a doubt, we will be able to overcome this kind of pressure. The only question is why one would need this. I mean that this tends to upset international order, including the international economic order.

"Currently there are trade wars – this is what they are, as a matter of fact – between the United States and China, between the United States and the European Union and between the United States and Iran. Some of the sanctions target our country. It begs the question: does the international trading system stand to gain from this? Have the countries become better off? Or are businesses feeling more comfortable? Yes, some domestic policy objectives can be achieved in the short term."

Medvedev: There Are Various Forms Of Response To The Trade War, Including Asymmetrical Responses; This Is Not Necessarily Military In Nature

Tesa Arcilla: "How would Russia react? You said that Russia will react to this war economically, politically or, if needed, by other means. What do you mean? What other means?"

Dmitry Medvedev: "There could be quite different responses depending on the situation."

Tesa Arcilla: "Military is that? No…"

Dmitry Medvedev: "This is absolutely out of the question in the contemporary world. We are a responsible state and a permanent member of the UN Security Council. These issues fall within the terms of reference of the country's supreme authority. These issues are within the competence of the country's president.

"There are various forms of response in today's world, including, as I said, asymmetrical responses. This is not necessarily military in nature. It is not necessary to respond to economic threats or economic racket with adequate economic means. This is what it is. We understand that, for example, the extent of the integration, or mutual dependence of the Russian and US economies is insignificant. American businesses are not much affected by the sanctions that the United States has imposed on our country because the amount of trade is modest. But European businesses have been hit hard because the amount of trade is huge. Currently, trade with the United States is estimated at about $20 billion – this is a low period, though. This is nothing. The amount of trade with the European Union is much more significant, as the European Union accounts for 45 percent of our trade. This figure runs into the hundreds of billions of euros. I will just give you one example. After the sanctions were imposed, our trade with the European Union all but halved, plunging from 430 billion euros to 220-230 billion euros at some point. So my question is: what losses has Europe incurred? Europe lost jobs.

"It lost revenue. It lost confidence in developing even small regions which, in one way or another, were centred on trade with our country. This is why sanctions are a bad approach. Actually, we keep saying this, but we did not initiate them, and we are not the ones that can end them."

Medvedev: Trump Is Suspected Of Having Some Sort Of Sympathy Towards Our Country Even Though He Has Not Yet Done Anything To Improve Relations Between Our Countries

Tesa Arcilla: "The sanctions the US imposed on Russia… but despite that, Donald Trump seems to still be perhaps a little more friendly than others. Is Donald Trump the best thing that happened to Russia in recent time?"

Dmitry Medvedev: "We did not elect Donald Trump. Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America. We respect the choice of the American people. If there were a different president instead of Trump, we would respect him no less. As far as we can see, Donald Trump is having a hard time because he is being attacked by the right and by the left. On the one hand, he is suspected of having some sort of sympathy towards our country even though he actually has not yet done anything to radically improve relations between our countries. And he is unlikely to do – due to the pressure being put on him. And on the other hand, he is being pressured in other areas."

Tesa Arcilla: "To bring about pressure. I will bring about the pressure internally in Russia. We have seen protests on the streets maybe because of the pension reform; there were pictures of you, actually, people were writing 'enemy of the people.' Are you worried about the discontent in the street now? And is your party pursuing austerity, and are you worried about this discontent?"

Dmitry Medvedev: "Do you now mean the situation in our country?"

Tesa Arcilla: "Yeah, in Russia."

Dmitry Medvedev: "Any changes in the country are naturally viewed differently by the people. If you mean the issues related to changes in pension legislation, such reforms are never made easily in any country. These are complicated reforms that make people worry about their lives. Nevertheless, and I have said this a number of times, these changes are necessary. And we resorted to those measures bearing in mind that such reforms were necessary in the absolute majority of countries that had reached a certain level of development and certain living standards. This is why these decision are taken. I mean to say that now the living standards are different and life expectancy in our country was increased to 73 years, which makes the situation radically different from what it was, say, in the 1940s or 1950s when the retirement age was set.

"This is an objective although difficult reality.

"I think the explanation that was given and the amendments that were made to the bill, the amendments that were eventually approved and signed, alleviated some concerns. So I think that overall the situation will calm down soon."

(Premier.gov.ru, October 18, 2018)

News In Short

Foreign News

  • Japan's government plans to sign a peace treaty with Russia, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. (Tass.com, October 24, 2018; read the full article)
  • Italy calls for Russia's return to the G7 as Moscow is an important participant in the process of solving global crises, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte told a news conference. (Tass.com, October 22, 2018; read the full article)
  • The government of Afghanistan and the Taliban agreed to meet in Moscow for talks. (Interfax.ru, October 16, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Press statements following talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Egypt Abdel Fatah el-Sisi in Sochi. (Kremlin.ru, October 17, 2018; read the full transcript)
  • A possible meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un this year is being discussed, the Kremlin says. (Tass.com, October 16, 2018; read the full article)
  • Russia should react decisively and promptly to others' attempts to use its weapons developments without permission, Chairman of the Russian Federation Council's Committee on Defense and Security Viktor Bondarev stated. (Tass.com, October 11, 2018; read the full article)

Sanctions

  • Italy's Interior Minister Matteo Salvini denounced the "madness" of western sanctions against Russia, during a trip to Moscow Wednesday (17 October), and launched a fierce attack on the European Union. "I feel at home here […] I come here because I am convinced that sanctions are economic, social and cultural madness," said Salvini. (Euractiv.com, October 18, 2018)
  • The European Union's anti-Russian sanctions have caused serious harm to Slovakia's economy, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said. (Tass.com, October 21, 2018; read the full article)
  • Ukraine, Albania, Norway and Montenegro join extension of EU sanctions against Russia. (Kyivpost.com, October 23, 2018; read the full article)
  • On October 22, Putin signed a decree introducing new "special economic measures" against Ukraine. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia's countermeasures to Ukraine's sanctions will not affect the majority of Ukrainians. (Tass.com, October 23, 2018; read the full article; See also Economic response to Ukraine-imposed sanctions, Government.ru, October 23, 2018)
  • EU foreign affairs ministers in Luxembourg adopted on 15 October a new sanctions regime as response to the use and proliferation of Chemical weapons. Russia was not mentioned. "The Council adopted a new regime of restrictive measures to address the use and proliferation of chemical weapons. This decision is a direct follow-up to the conclusions of the European Council of 28 June 2018", the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions read. The June summit conclusions make reference to the Joint Communication on Europe's resilience to hybrid and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear-related threats of 13 June 2018. This document refers to the nerve agent attacks in Salisbury in March 2018, that target of which has apparently been Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal. (Euractiv.com, October 16, 2018)
  • EU leaders agreed at a summit on 18 October to impose sanctions to stiffen their response to cyber-attacks and to rush through new curbs on online campaigning by political parties to protect 2019 European election from interference. The will to consider sanctions against cybercrime perpetrators has emerged after a report from the Dutch intelligence services in partnership with the UK that a range of cyber-attacks was carried out by the GRU. (Euractiv.com, October 19, 2018)

Russia-UK Relations

  • The Sunday Times reported that UK Defense chiefs have war-gamed a massive cyber-strike to black out Moscow if Putin launches a military attack on the West, after concluding that the only other way of hitting back would be to use nuclear weapons. (Thetimes.co.uk, October 7, 2018; read the full article)
  • Commenting on the publication, Russian deputy FM Oleg Syromolotov said: "For the lifetime, since Ivan the Terrible era (16th century), Britain has been Russia's enemy, acting in a damaging fashion. If they said that, they would probably try, yet we will defend ourselves and our response will be quite tough." (Ria.ru, October 9, 2018; read the full article in Russian)
  • Russia's Embassy to the UK replies to a media question concerning the ties between “Bellingcat” and secret services: "The fact that 'Bellingcat' is affiliated to the intelligence services is obvious considering the whole range of relevant circumstances: date of its foundation (several days prior to the MH-17 catastrophe), nature of published information (which combines signs of intelligence data and highly professional fakes), its orientation (always anti-Russian), timeline of publications (each time at the best moment from the point of view of interests of NATO countries), biography of its leader (Elliot Higgins suddenly turned from a PC gamer into an 'icon of independent journalism'), non-transparency of its internal structure and financing. If 'Bellingcat' can provide any other plausible explanation for such combination of facts, it should be presented to the public." (Rusemb.org.uk, October 15, 2018; read the full statement)

Skripal Case

  • The Kremlin is confident that there can be no well-grounded accusations against Russian President Vladimir Putin concerning his alleged involvement in the poisoning of the Skripals, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. (Tass.com, October 15, 2018; read the full article)
  • GRU colonel, Hero of Russia, Chechen War vet Journalists say they've figured out who 'Ruslan Boshirov' really is. The cathedral-obsessed, possibly gay fitness instructor “Ruslan Boshirov” is an invention by Russia's Military Intelligence Directorate — a fake identity given to GRU Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, according to the third investigative report by Bellingcat and The Insider about the two Russian men identified by the British authorities as the likely culprits behind the attempted murder of Sergey and Yulia Skripal in March (as well as the apparently accidental homicide of British citizen Dawn Sturgess). (Meduza.io, September 27, 2018; read the full article)

Defense News

  • The 40N6 long-range surface-to-air missile of the S-400 Triumf system has been accepted for service in the Russian Army. (Tass.com, October 18, 2018; read the full article)
  • The first deliveries of S-400 missile systems to India will take place within two years, Dmitry Shugaev, head of Russia's Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation, told reporters. (Tass.com, October 17, 2018; read the full article)
  • Washington has interpreted India's decision to purchase the S-400 air defense missile systems from Russia as its own failure given that the US seeks to dominate the arms market. New Delhi said it would continue defense cooperation with Moscow despite the US sanctions threat. The Russian-Indian deal comes as a challenge for the US at a time when Washington is transforming its military strategy. It used to be focused on Islamic extremists but now it's shifted to containing Russia and China, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. (Tass.com, October 9, 2018; read the full article)

Domestic News

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was released on October 14, after 20 days in jail, where he was held on charges of staging an illegal protest last month. (Themoscowtimes.com, October 14, 2018; read the full article)
  • At least 19 people were killed and nearly 40 were injured in gunfire and a series of explosions at the Kerch Polytechnic College in eastern Crimea on October 17. Eyewitnesses at Crimea's college shooting describe the mass murder of at least 19 people. (Meduza.io, October 17, 2018; read the full article. Read also Meet Vladislav Roslyakov, the man behind Crimea's college massacre, Meduza.io, October 17, 2018)