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Situation report on global security as of May 4, 2017

InformNapalm international intelligence community presents the second weekly summary of events in the sphere of world security.

We are going to review the facts that are important to consider when monitoring the new global challenges of hybrid and conventional warfare. Today, the Russian Federation has become the main aggressor challenging the whole system of world security. It uses the methods of war and terror to achieve controlled chaos in various regions of the world.

Ukraine in the forefront of Russia hybrid war and terrorism

[1]

The situation in the occupied territories of the Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts continues to deteriorate. There is a significant escalation of hostilities on the contact line, and we forecast an aggravation of the situation in the context of Russian hysteria during the preparations for the May 9 celebration. By the way, on the same date, the first semi-final of Eurovision is also to be held. It should be noted that the Russian media have already begun another information and psychological operation and are spinning the topic of the upcoming terrorist attacks – they are predicted by the Russian military expert Alexander Zhilin. His claims are not supported by any facts and rely only on information allegedly transmitted by “an informed source from Kyiv”.

Zhilin is the expert who for a month “predicted” the murder of former State Duma deputy Denis Voronenkov. Playing an old game “Stop thief!”, Russian special agencies are trying to impose the idea that the terrorist attacks are allegedly planned by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). In the conditions of a hybrid war, any steps of Russia, including in the information sphere, which can be distracting, should be taken into account.

In the Antiterrorist Operation (ATO) zone everything is getting hotter. Details of the shelling can be seen on the map of the Ukrainian website Infolight [2] by dates. The Russian-terrorist forces actively use mortars and other weapons. Over the past 24 hours, Russian militants used even a 9P132 Grad-P 122 mm portable rocket launcher to fire on Ukrainian positions at the village of Shyrokyne.  Ukrainian servicemen are killed and injured every day on the front. The occupied territories continue to be saturated with Russian military equipment, including air defense systems to combat UAVs.

The updated list of specifically Russian weapons found in the occupied territories of eastern Ukraine can be found here: bit.ly/RuWeaponryDonbasEN [3] (database as of March 20, 2017).

In the context of security problems in the region, one should also pay attention to the ecological catastrophe which is looming in the occupied Donbas because of the constant flooding of lower horizons of the mines. The occupation authorities do not want to invest in dewatering, taking the necessary equipment to Russia. In just a few years, the flooding can cause sinking of buildings in sinkholes, whereas Donbas could turn into unsuitable for life dips with salt marshes. This is one of the reasons why Russia does not plan to take over the Luhansk/Donetsk People’s Republics (L/DPR).

A sad fate awaits occupied Crimea [4], too. Russia continues the deep militarization of the peninsula, turning it into a springboard for aggression in the Middle East and destabilizing the situation throughout the Black Sea region. Such military and political strategy is not the way to revive and develop the tourist region.

Eastern borders of NATO

[5]

On April 28, the Parliament of Montenegro voted unanimously to ratify the Accession Treaty with NATO. This will significantly strengthen the position of the West in the Balkans, thereby closing for Russia another zone of possible destabilization. On October 16, 2016, Russian intelligence services were preparing a coup in Montenegro (fortunately, the attempt was thwarted). Last week, on April 27, Russia again attempted to destabilize the situation, this time in Macedonia. The accession of Macedonia to NATO would provide it with some immunity from the Kremlin’s hybrid operations, but joining the alliance is complicated by a longstanding dispute with Greece, which is blocking such an opportunity for Macedonia. Undoubtedly, Russia uses this trump card for further provocations and new hybrid calls.

Syria

On May 3, following the talks with Angela Merkel in Sochi, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced plans to divide Syria into four conflict de-escalation zones: Idlib province, the territory north of Homs, eastern Ghouta, and the south of the country. The exact boundaries of the zones will be determined by the guarantor countries by May 22. The Kremlin expects that the signing of a memorandum on the establishment of security zones in Syria will take place in Astana, where latest round of peace talks started on May 3 with Russia, Iran and Turkey as mediators.

The Russian proposal to create de-escalation zones looks cynical after Russian Su-25 aircraft [6] bombed the Syrian village of Al-Lataminah, while troops of the Assad regime supported by Russia continue to use powerful cluster munition against civilians [7]. Russia is struggling to hide losses of artillerymen and other ground troops. The creation of security zones would legalize the use of the Russian ground forces in Syria. Now, it appears that Russian “advisers” die too often in Syria. InformNapalm has identified 18 [8] Russian military units, whose servicemen participate in the ground operation in Syria [9].

Afghanistan – a new area of confrontation between the US and Russia

On May 3, 2017, as a NATO convoy was passing by the US Embassy in the center of Kabul, a suicide bomber blew up a car. As a result of the terrorist attack, 8 people died and at least 28 people were injured. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the explosion, Reuters [10] reported. Two days prior, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced plans to increase the number and extend the presence of the contingent in Afghanistan. The security situation in the region continues to deteriorate. Afghanistan is becoming another hotbed of conflict, in which the US and Russia are on opposite sides of the barricades.

On April 21, a Taliban sabotage group conducted a daring attack on the garrison of the 209th Corps of the Afghan National Army (ANA) on the western outskirts of Mazar-i-Sharif. As a result of the attack, according to various sources, between 160 and 250 Afghan soldiers died. Such significant losses have not occurred since 2001. After that, on April 24, US Secretary of Defense James Mattis made an unscheduled trip to Kabul. During the visit, he made it clear that [11] if Russia continues to support the Taliban terrorist group, the US will confront Russia for arming the Taliban in Afghanistan.

It is likely that Russia sponsors terrorists in this region to stretch the forces of the alliance and divert attention from other conflict zones. It is interesting that after the terrorist attack in Kabul, Russian media with double activity began to criticize the alliance and accuse the US of the inability to ensure peace in the region.

Back in December 2015, Russia’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, in his statement stressed: “The Taliban’s interests objectively coincide with ours.”  Moscow’s statements about fighting with the Islamic State are used to cover operations that destabilize the situation in Syria and Afghanistan, as well as to exert psychological pressure on the world community after every terrorist attack, where the Islamic State claims responsibility. Along with the Arabic language, ISIS terrorists actively use Russian for communication and in their documents, which makes it easier for Russian special agencies to infiltrate into this organization, including into leadership positions.

Venezuela

In Venezuela, a new round of protests began as a response to President Nicolas Maduro’s attempt to amend the country’s constitution. Thousands of people took to the streets. Already more than 34 people were killed, more than 300 people were injured as a result of clashes with police in various parts of Caracas. One of the latest videos demonstrates that the situation is exacerbating. On the streets barricades are erected, Molotov cocktails are used.

A group of US senators introduced a bill to impose sanctions against a number of Venezuelan officials responsible for undermining democracy and involved in corruption. According to Reuters [12],  these sanctions can also affect Russia, as the legislation calls to take all necessary steps to prevent Rosneft [13], Russia’s state oil company, that financed the Venezuelan state oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela, from gaining control of any US energy infrastructure.

Arctic

Paul Zukunft / Photo: Coast Guard

On May 3 [14], speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the commandant of the US Coast Guard, Adm. Paul Zukunft, expressed his concern over the Russian military buildup in the Arctic zone. Russia is actively increasing its presence in the region through the construction of new bases and ships. “We know Russia is probably going to launch two icebreaking corvettes with cruise missiles on them over the course of the next several years. We’re not building anything in the Navy’s surface fleet to counteract that,” Adm. Zukunft said

Recently, Russia has demonstrated a significant interest towards the Arctic, specifically in the military sphere. In late March, Kadyrov’s Special Forces practiced in the drills  practicing landing in the Arctic from an IL-76 airplane and a Mi-8 helicopter, as well as operations in difficult climatic conditions.

See also: Situation report on global security #1 (April) [15]

Conclusion

Ukraine started its way to European values, civil freedom and democracy in 2013. In early 2014, as it already happened with Georgia and Syria, Ukraine became the object of Russian aggression, as a result of which Russian troops occupied Crimea and parts of the two eastern regions. Every day, Ukrainian soldiers restrain the onslaught of the aggressor sacrificing their lives. Russia’s veto power in the UN Security Council allows the aggressor to block the mechanisms of the international law. Despite economic sanctions, the Russian Federation demonstrates a steady growth in the export of terror and the spread of aggression to other countries and regions. In such circumstances, only the consolidated tough position of the world community can curb the Kremlin’s excessive appetites. We need to remember that attempts to negotiate with a dictator or give him the opportunity to save face usually end in global shocks.


Prepared by Roman Burko [16] specially for the readers of InformNapalm.org
Translated by Svitlana Kemblowski
(CC BY 4.0) The information was prepared specifically for the
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