Tag Archives: Ukraine

‘The Bear is Back’: Center’s New Book Warns of ‘Putin’s Reset’ — and What America Must Do in Response

BOOK RELEASE: Putin’s Reset: The Bear is Back and How America Must Respond

November 3, 2016

NOTE: This title currently available on Kindle only. Paperback release next week. Free PDF version below.

(Washington, DC) At no time since the fall of the Soviet Union has the threat from Russia been as serious – and Washington’s relations with Moscow been as poor – as in the fall of 2016. As charges fly that Russia is trying to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election by leaking Democratic e-mails and Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump accuse each other of having inappropriate ties to the Russian government, the questions about where Vladimir Putin is taking his country and what that will mean for ours have largely gone unasked, let alone answered.

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Putin’s Reset: The Bear is Back and How America Must Respond explores the threats posed by Putin’s Russia, many of which have received little attention in the U.S. press. These include significant improvements in Russia’s nuclear ballistic missile arsenals, drastically improved air and missile defenses, and hardened shelters against nuclear attacks, apparently in preparation to survive a nuclear war. Russia also has stepped up economic, cyber, information and intelligence warfare against the United States to undermine American security and create a new global order.

The Obama administration has ignored these developments and emboldened Putin by answering his interventions in Ukraine and Syria with appeasement and ultimatums that it repeatedly failed to back up.

Center Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs Fred Fleitz outlines new challenges in US/Russia relations

It is hard to overstate the cumulative impact and portentousness of these developments. In his contribution to this collection of essays, noted Russia expert Dr. Stephen Blank depicts the situation with this grim warning: “Putin’s Russia is preparing for war against the U.S. and NATO. Putin would prefer to win without fighting, but he is prepared to use force and apparently escalate to nuclear weapons use if it is necessary and in Russia’s interests. He must be deterred. We are not doing nearly enough to do so.”

This series of essays by nine leading U.S. national security experts —Dr. Stephen Blank,

Fred Fleitz, Kevin D. Freeman, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Dr. Daniel Gouré, Cliff Kincaid, Roger W. Robinson, Jr, David Satter, Dr. Mark B. Schneider, and Dr. J. Michael Waller – documents from their various perspectives and fields of expertise how the threat from Russia is growing as it gears up, at best, for a do-over of the Cold War. And at worst, how Russia is creating what the Soviets used to call “a correlation of forces” that will enable the Kremlin to engage decisively in actual hostilities against the United States.

Center for Security Policy President Frank Gaffney noted:

“Our hope is that the American people, once equipped with the insights in Putin’s Reset will have a more complete understanding of how the Kremlin of yesteryear – with its global ambitions, bullying behavior and rabid hostility towards the United States immortalized by Candidate Ronald Reagan in a 1980 presidential campaign ad as “a bear in the woods” – is back. And, with that urgently needed understanding, the public will be better equipped to decide on what course is the most appropriate U.S. response: continued accommodation and appeasement or a return to the policy approach that Mr. Reagan as president employed to help bring down the Soviet Union: peace through strength.”

This important book is available for purchase in Kindle at Amazon.com (paperback format coming soon). It also can be downloaded for free in PDF format below:

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Ukraine Anticipating Russian Offensive

Blog Post: Ukraine Anticipates Russian Offensive

Ukrainian Anti-Terrorist Operation spokesperson, Andriy Lysenko, stated that Ukraine is on high-alert awaiting an offensive by the Russian army to begin at any time.

In the past week, rebel and Russian military troop movements within the Russian-annexed Crimea and along the Eastern border of the country suggest a mobilization of forces that may preface invasion.

According to a Ukrainian Anti-Terror Operation spokesman an attack is expected “at any time,” while other officials added evidence of the expected offensive from the repositioning of equipment and border crossings at uncontrolled sections.

The Anti-Terror Operation is the Ukrainian unit devoted to responding to the Russian-backed separatists.

In northern Crimea, Russian troops are allegedly carrying out military maneuvers conjoined with the closing down of all entry checkpoints into the annexed territory, possibly illustrating a military preparation.

On Sunday, the Russian occupyiung authorities in Crimea suspended operations at checkpoints along the administrative border between Russia-annexed Crimean and mainland Ukraine. Later, only one checkpoint, Chonhar, resumed operations, and created a transportation filter that simplified Russian oversight of traffic in and out of the territory.

In addition to the closing down of checkpoints, evidence for Russian preparation for attack came from online videos, such as one posted on YouTube which shows a train carrying tanks, mobile SAM units, and several trucks.

The video surfaced from an independent reporter who operates in Ukraine and covers the Ukrainian civil conflict.

Similar signs of Russian mobilization came from YouTube footage of Alim Aydamak, who filmed the shipment of what appear to be Russian “Bastion” missile systems heading into Crimea. The “Bastion” is a sophisticated multipronged armored unit designed to engage surface ships, landing craft, and conduct electronic countermeasures. If truly shipped to Crimea, the delivery of these missile systems could significantly aid Russian defense along the Black Sea.

Most recently, on Tuesday, August 9th, reports from Twitter indicated internet outages in Northern Crimea, similar to those that have occurred previously in Ukraine due to cyberattacks.

Currently the Anti-Terrorist Operation is monitoring the situation in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine intently. The worn-torn country is also preparing its reserves to repel a possible attack. Vladyslav Seleznev, the speaker of Ukraine’s General Staff of the Armed forces, confirmed that Ukraine has began to deploy armored units near the border of Crimea in response to a Russian military build-up in recent days.

Ukraine views the Russian preparations as likely indicators for an imminent attack. While it is possible that Ukrainian forces may be overreacting to the military movements linked to Russia’s upcoming Kavkaz-2016 exercises, the exercises are reportedly intended to demonstrate “Russian Armed Forces’ capabilities for protecting national interests in the south-western direction amid the uneasy international military and political situation.” Kavkaz-2016, much like West’s NATO exercises in Poland, attempt to bolster military prowess and illustrate the determined and prepared nature of ground, air, and sea combat.

Ultimately the Russian movements and Ukrainian response highlight the tense nature of armament and mobilization along Ukrainian borders.

Ukraine Arrests French National on Arms Smuggling/Terror Charges

On June 6th, 2016, following leaks by international media, Ukrainian authorities released information about 25-year-old Gregoire Moutaux, a French National held by the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) since early May. SBU claims that Moutaux was driven by “ultra-nationalist views” and was plotting “15 terrorist attacks” in France during the European Soccer Championships this summer; Moutaux’s targets included a Muslim mosque, a Jewish synagogue, and other pieces of infrastructure in protest of his government’s policies on migration and the spread of Islam.

At the time of his arrest, the suspect was allegedly carrying five rifles, two rocket propelled grenades, and other weapons, which Ukrainian special forces had allowed him to purchase since they began to follow him in early December; Ukrainian authorities began to follow Moutaux when he began to “establish contacts with a number of representatives in the (pro-Russian separatist) east.”

One French police source claimed that a shirt with the insignia of a “far-right group” was found at Moutaux’s home in Loraine; the source did not give any further details. French police also found several chemicals that could be used to make explosives in the 25-year-old’s house.

SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak claimed that Moutaux was trying to obtain arms from unidentified groups in eastern Ukraine. Moutaux also allegedly offered many of his contacts several million Euros in order to have a Ukrainian citizen help him smuggle the arms through Europe, leading Hrytsak to conclude that “the Russian security services may have set him up”.

Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have been fighting Ukrainian forces since April 2014, when large-scale street protests ousted Russian-backed President Vyktor Yanukovych, after Yanukovych refused to sign an EU trade deal under pressure from Moscow. Russia, which is attempting to re-assert itself as a world superpower, has found Ukraine gradually slipping from its sphere of influence. Russia may benefit from a propaganda campaign to associate Ukraine with right-wing extremists, so as to paint their western neighbor negatively in the eyes of the European Union. Ukraine is currently a preferred trade partner of the EU and is seeking to establish closer relations with the union.

But given Ukraine’s plans to move closer to the European Union, the Ukranian government would have interest in publicizing the incident as an alleged terrorist attack, in order to paint Ukraine as an ally in the EU’s fight against terror; this would make EU citizens more likely to favor closer relations with Ukraine.

Given the lack of concrete details at this time, one can only hypothesize as to what Moutaux’s intentions were. Despite this, the conspiracy is not being investigated by France’s anti-terrorism unit but by the organized crime division, suggesting French police may be treating the case as one of international arms dealing.

Electrical Grid Remains a Vulnerable Target to Nations and Terrorists

Today, Afghani and Israeli infrastructure were targeted by outside forces. In Afghanistan, the Taliban blew up a major electricity pylon in Dand-e-Shahabuddin area knocking out power to the entire region. In Israel, the Public Utility Authority was the target of one of the country’s largest cyber attacks in history.

Afghanistan and Israel will be able to recover from the recent attacks, but these events illustrate how susceptible a nation’s infrastructure can be. The Taliban were able to easily knock out power to an entire region without any high tech equipment, while the entire nation of Israel would have been effected if the attack was not stopped.

This is not the first, and certainly not the last, time an outside force has attacked a nation’s grid.

  • March 31, 2015, 44 of Turkey’s 81 provinces lost power for twelve hours after their grid was alledgedly hacked by Iran.
  • January 2015, cities and towns across Pakistan lost power after Baluchistani rebels attacked a transmission line.
  • June 9, 2014, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attacked a transmission tower that blacked out the entire nation of Yemen.
  • In December 2015, Russia was suspected of hacking Ukrainian power stations, causing tens of thousands of Ukrainians to lose power.
  • 2013, the Wall Street Journal and Associated Press reported on several occasions when Iranians infiltrated the U.S. power grid and, on one occasion, a dam in New York.
  • 2010, a North Korean defector spoke with BBC Click about North Korean hackers began using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to target control systems of critical infrastructure.

Whether high tech or low tech, attacks on the grid can be carried out by anyone or any group. In the case of Yemen, AQAP simply fired grenades at a Yemeni transmission tower and blacked out the whole nation. With powerful nations relying heavily on electricity, it is imperative for nations to secure their grids and protect against a possible incursion.

As a well developed nation it is not enough to just prepare against high tech incursions. Securing servers and putting up firewalls will not stop an explosive or gunfire from ruining a system. The United States must prepare for a full spectrum of attacks from its enemies.

John Riggi, a section chief at the FBI’s cyber division, mentioned in a CNN article that IS had been attempting to hack into the U.S. grid, but have been unsuccessful. However, he later mentions that it is possible to gain the technology necessary from the black market. Some companies have been cited selling hacking equipment to oppressive governments.

Hackers have offered hacking training on internet forums for a small fee. The tools to hack into control systems on power plants and dams are easily accessible on the internet. Powerful nations and average people now have access to the knowledge to do critical damage to a nation’s vital infrastructure.

With all of these threats it is important for the U.S. to know who their enemies are. As the CNN article mentioned, while IS has been unsuccessful, they still have the potential and desire to hack our grid. U.S. Defense leaders are well aware of the threats We currently do not have a strategy to deter actors like China and Russia from proliferating hacking capabilities to other hostile actors.

A ’60 Minutes’ interview with an unserious President Obama

President Obama was widely criticized last year after he claimed Russia intervened in Ukraine “not out of strength, but out of weakness” since it was obvious Russian President Putin decided to meddle in Ukraine because he believed President Obama’s weak foreign policy guaranteed that the United States would do nothing to stop him.

Mr. Obama’s claim that Russia meddled in Ukraine out of weakness was ridiculous.  The president doubled down on this nonsensical claim in a “60 Minutes” interview with Steve Kroft broadcast on Sunday when he said Putin’s military mission in Syria is a sign of Russia’s weakness, not a show of Putin’s leadership.

It was a painful interview to watch as the leader of the free world spoke about his disastrous foreign policy as if he lived in a fantasy world.

Mr. Obama claimed successes against ISIS because the U.S. reportedly “took away key land,” pushed it back in Iraq and disrupted some ISIS operations in Syria.

The president said a policy he announced last September to “degrade and destroy” ISIS would work “over time,” not in one year.  Mr. Obama also said he was confident the nations of the world would come together “over time” to defeat ISIS.

Mr. Kroft, clearly exasperated by this stream of statements with no basis in reality, insisted that Vladimir Putin is not, as Mr. Obama asserted, acting out of weakness but was challenging his leadership.

The president disputed Mr. Kroft by saying, “Well, Steve, I got to tell you, if you think that running your economy into the ground and having to send troops in, in order to prop up your only ally is leadership, then we’ve got a different definition of leadership.”

The president added to this by explaining what he considers the marks of U.S. global leadership under his administration: leading in climate change and bringing about the nuclear deal with Iran.

When Mr. Kroft told Mr. Obama that many people – including Israel, Saudi Arabia and congressional Republicans — believe the U.S. is in retreat under his presidency, the president blamed this charge on partisan politics and attacked Republicans for believing the only solution to Middle East instability is sending hundreds of thousands of troops.

The president also repeated his line that the people who oppose his Middle East policy are the same ones who got the U.S. into the Iraq War.

President Obama concluded his discussion of foreign policy by telling Mr. Kroft that that America is a safer place today because of a reduced threat of terrorism, that U.S. strategic alliances are stronger, and America has a better reputation around the world.

I believe one explanation for Mr. Obama’s comments to Mr. Kroft is that his Syria/Iraq policy is actually a non-policy to do a little as possible about these crises so he can hand them to the next president to solve.  I discussed this in aMay 28, 2015 Fox News.com opinion article.

But overall, President Obama false and ridiculous statements in his “60 Minutes” interview about global security issues and his failed foreign policy is why the world does not view him as a serious president.

The world knows America is in retreat under the Obama presidency.  It has learned that the word of this president means nothing. This is why Putin ignored the United States and intervened in Ukraine and Syria. This is why the threat from ISIS and global terrorism is growing. This is why China is expanding its efforts to control the South China Sea.

And this is why, with America’s global reputation plummeting, the world may be a much more dangerous and unstable place 15 months from now when Barack Obama leaves office.

More Proof Of Russian Involvement In Ukraine

A document published by the Ukrainian Security Service back on June 16th claims that there are 15 Russian Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) active in eastern Ukraine, and that the rebel forces are led by five Russian generals and a colonel present in Ukrainian borders. If true, this certainly corroborates past reports of Russian action in eastern Ukraine. However, the document goes even further by naming the Russian military officers and intelligence agents responsible.

The military officers named include Major-General Oleg Mussovich Tsekov, currently the commander of two brigades of the Luhansk People’s Militia, Major-General Valeriy Nikolaevich Solodchuk, the commander of Donetsk’s 1st Army Corps, Major-General Sergey Yurievich Kuzovlev, the coordinator of Russian military in eastern Ukraine along with Major-General Aleksey Vladimirovich Zavizion, Major-General Roman Aleksandrovich Shadrin, deputy minister of state security of the Luhansk People’s Republic, and Colonel Anatoliy Konstantinovich Barankevich, adviser for combat readiness in Luhansk. Colonel Barankevich was formerly the minister of defense for South Ossetia, the Georgian province that attempted to break away from Georgia back in 1991 and was the impetus for the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia. If such high ranking Russian officers are present in Ukraine then it signals that Russia is extending more permanent military control over the separatist provinces in eastern Ukraine.

The document also provides photo evidence of Russian weapons being supplied to separatist forces as well as being used by Russian soldiers, and accuses Russia of carrying out terrorist attacks on civilians by means of GRU agents and Russian intelligence trained guerrilla operatives.  A map is provided in the document claiming locations of 108 listed GRU and FSB run terrorist training camps within Russia, Abkhazia, Moldova, and separatist-held Ukraine. Exact locations of the camps in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Crimea are given in additional maps provided in the document.

All this comes at a time when footage taken by a Ukranian drone shows the construction of a Russian forward operating base just south of the village of Sontsevo in Donetsk, whilst attacks on the front-lines at Granitnoye increase in frequency. This FOB is only 12 kilometers away from the Ukrainian front lines at Granitnoye and Novolaspa, and would play a major role in any offense on the strategic port city of Mariupol. The base is next to the highway linking Mariupol to the loyalist north and could cut off reinforcements heading to relieve loyalist troops in the city. With Crimea in Russian hands, Ukrainian reinforcements to Mariupol via the sea are unlikely. With the recent buildup of new bases in Donetsk and the ever increasing attacks on the Ukrainian loyalist positions in the area, a new Russian/separatist offensive seems increasingly likely.

Cut Russia’s Power Line

Over the past several months, Russia has been escalating its belligerent behavior towards its European neighbors. Russian-backed separatists have been shelling Ukrainian military positions, Russian bombers have increased their encroachment within the airspace over numerous European countries, and Russian hackers have even breached the White House’s computers and read the president’s emails.

As tensions continue to rise, Western powers are getting ready to impose a new round of sanctions to target Russia’s energy and financial sectors should Russian-backed insurgents seize more Ukrainian territory. However, the Russian economy is starting to show signs of equilibrium while the Ukrainian economy is suffering more and more.

Western sanctions along with sliding oil prices helped, for a while, to slow investment in Russia and slide its economy into a recession. In 2014, Russia suffered $150 billion in net capital outflow and Russia’s central bank is forecasting a loss of $100 billion this year. While Russia’s central bank sees sanctions staying well into 2018, Russian officials are not worried over new sanction threats, stating that the worst of Russia’s economic worries is over.

Are they right? Most likely.

Even though Russia’s central bank expects a 3.2 percent contraction of the Russian economy, Russia’s inflation rate has dropped by 1.1 percent from its April high of 16.9 percent. The central bank recently reduced its main interest rate and the ruble’s exchange rate has risen to approximately 54 to the dollar.

In contrast, the conflict between the Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists has wreaked havoc on Ukraine’s economy. The International Monetary Fund recently predicted that the Ukrainian economy would shrink by 9 percent and inflation will likely hit 46 percent. Industrial output has been slashed and their gross domestic product has been exponentially diminished. The production of steel, which is one of Ukraine’s largest exports, has dropped by 28 percent since the beginning of the year due to threats of rebel attacks, despite a ceasefire deal.

While the Ukrainian government is begging creditors to accept cuts in the value of their bond holdings, Russia is announcing a new strategic alliance between its state-owned gas company, Gazprom, and Royal Dutch Shell. This recent alliance is another in a long line of deals designed to increase Russia’s energy monopoly throughout Europe. The deal will include asset swaps, expansion into new European markets, and the establishment of a third process line at the liquefied natural gas plant on Sakhalin island.

This deal was also a crushing blow to the Ukrainian government considering Shell’s decision, last year, to suspend talks over shale gas exploration in eastern Ukraine. Additionally, Russia is planning to build a pipeline under the Black Sea to bypass Ukraine, which is a key export route for European gas.

Gazprom is under United States sanctions due to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine, but the European Union does not have similar sanctions against the energy giant. Furthermore, the continued growth of Russia’s energy influence throughout Europe will make it unlikely that we will ever see European sanctions over their belligerent behaviors.

Russia has utilized the manipulation of gas supplies to get its way in Europe several times in the past. In 2006, Russia reduced supplies to Ukraine leading to shortages in countries throughout Europe, including Italy and France. In 2009, Russia cut off gas flow through the Ukraine, which led to a complete shutdown of gas supplies to Southeastern Europe.

Western sanctions have shown their effects on the Russian economy, so a greater commitment is required by European nations. In addition to providing greater assistance to Ukraine, the U.S. needs to institute harsher energy sanctions. It is time for the EU to start engaging in energy sanctions and stop providing Russia control over the energy needs of the continent. Staving off further Russian aggression will only work if European powers stop providing them with continued means of control.

Russian Sanctions Upheld

At the G7 summit in Germany this weekend, the participating nations agreed to continue economic sanctions against Russia for their aggression in Ukraine. The failure of Russia to respect the cease fire terms was cited as the main reason for extending sanctions. As President Obama stated during the G7 meeting;

“Does [Russian President Vladmir Putin] continue to wreck his country’s economy and continue Russia’s isolation in pursuit of a wrong-headed desire to recreate the glories of the Soviet empire or does he recognize that Russia’s greatness does not depend on violating” other countries’ territory?”

However, China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the sanctions on Russia and called for further dialogue between Russia and the European Union in order to resolve the conflict.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin recently made the proposal that Donetsk and Luhansk remain under Ukrainian control. Russia simply cannot afford to annex and control the two breakaway regions of Ukraine as they did with Crimea earlier, especially not with the economic costs incurred by the sanctions. Putin also stated a desire to adhere to the Minsk accords by having both sides putting an end to hostilities in the region. Be that as it may, reports from the front lines state that the separatists have recently employed heavy weapons banned by the Minsk terms such as 122mm Grad artillery rockets and 120mm mortars. Many recent reports indicate that the Russians are moving more heavy weapons, particularly artillery, into the area to aid the separatists.

It is debatable whether sanctions can put a complete end to hostilities. It is safe to assume that President Putin does not wish to let Donetsk and Luhansk escape from his grasp, either. More likely, Putin sees continued negotiations as a chance to consolidate gains in Crimea and to continue to foster low-level unrest in Donetsk and Luhansk, all the while trying to get sanctions withdrawn in order to help restore Russia’s economy. There is every reason to believe, should the situation be advantageous for Russia in the future, that we can expect another push for the rest of eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian Cease Fire In Jeopardy

Over the past few days, Ukrainian forces repelled an attack by approximately a thousand pro-Russian separatist fighters in the town of Maryinka, outside of Donetsk. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe claims that separatist rebels initiated the battle, while separatist officials and Kremlin spokesmen state that the rebels defended themselves from a government offensive. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko reports that around twelve separatists were captured, including one Russian citizen. Fighting in Ukraine has resumed lately due to failure to fulfill political components of the Minsk cease-fire agreement signed in February, as well as extant cease fire violations. Ukraine’s government demanded that the separatists withdraw all fighters and weapons from Donetsk and Luhansk, and that control of the eastern borders be put back under Kiev’s control in order to prevent the flow of fighters and weapons from Russia. Russia has been supplying the separatist forces with weapons and “volunteers” for quite some time, despite official denials from the Russian government. The separatists made counter demands for the promise of local elections and political autonomy.

Amid reports of a Russian military buildup on the border of Ukraine, President Poroshenko warned of the threat of a Russian invasion during a televised news conference June 5th, and promised the return of Crimea to Ukraine. Poroshenko also stated his plan to continue to work with Western nations to uphold economic sanctions on Russia, referring to the upcoming G7 summit on June 7-8, and discussions in the EU over whether to extend sanctions against Russia. The current EU sanctions are planned to expire in July. Meanwhile, the Kremlin states that the Ukrainians attacked rebel positions at Maryinka to deliberately sabotage the cease fire before the G7 meeting in order to increase sanctions on Russia.

President Obama will encourage the other G7 leaders to maintain sanctions on Russia at the meeting in Germany next week, as well as discuss aid to Iraq in their conflict against Islamic State. Even so, the sanctions have done little to stop Russia from fomenting separatism in the ethnically Russian eastern part of Ukraine and President Obama continues to refuse to send weaponry to the Ukrainian government. In the meantime, observers at Maryinka report that the separatists moved heavy weapons such as tanks and mobile artillery to the region before combat broke out. The terms of the Minsk cease fire restrict the presence of such weaponry in eastern Ukraine.

British think tank Chatham House recently released a report arguing that Russian expansionism presents a clear and existential threat to the European Union. The report states that the Russian government is fully aware that the EU is unwillingness to use force to stop them from creating a buffer state in the Ukraine and is even going so far as to consider the possibility of limited use of nuclear weapons as an instrument of foreign policy. To effectively counter Russia, European nations must be willing to present a strong military deterrent, to defend the Ukraine as a sovereign state, remove Russian leverage in the energy market, and to be able to communicate to the Russian people that they would be better served as allies to a “rules-based” Europe.

Yet More Evidence Of Russian Action In Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law Thursday making reports on military casualties, in particular those incurred during “special operations.” during peacetime a state secret. Anyone releasing such information can be prosecuted, a troubling fact given that the decree gave no definition on what a “special operation” is.

The decree comes at the same time when Russia is attempting to quash rumors about it deploying troops to aid separatists in Ukraine, especially in the wake of the extensive and damning Nemcov report about Russian involvement in Ukraine’s separatist war. Boris Nemcov, a prominent Russian opposition leader, was likely assassinated by the Russian government back in March to prevent the release of the report, which was finished and released by several friends and associates of Nemcov. In a related note, opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, the federal coordinator of Open Russia, was hospitalized after losing consciousness from a mysterious illness. Kara-Murza was previously reported as being in good health, and the illness has been blamed on a kidney failure rather than poisoning.

Such an action by the Russian government is to be expected, as not only do most Russians claim to believe that the Russian military is not active in Ukraine, they also overwhelmingly oppose deploying Russian troops to Ukraine to aid separatists. All this is another reason for the Russian government to keep the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine a secret. House Armed Forces Chairman Mac Thornberry has claimed that the Russian military has employed mobile crematoriums to dispose of the bodies of killed Russian servicemen, citing classified US and Ukranian reports. Representative Seth Moulton also stated the existence of crematoriums in the Ukraine, but was unable to confirm the existence of such reports. Unconfirmed footage and reports of mobile crematoriums in the Ukraine have circulated the internet for some time.

Regardless of Russian attempts to keep their actions in Ukraine classified, reports have surfaced of the Russian military massing hundreds of soldiers and heavy weaponry such as artillery and armored vehicles at the Kuzminskij firing range around 50 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. Reporters noted large quantities of soldiers and military vehicles being transported via rail to the city of Matveev Kurgan near the Ukrainian border. Many of the vehicles have number plates removed while soldiers are reported to have removed any identifying markings from their uniforms. The Russians are likely using the ceasefire to build up a force to aid the separatists. President Obama has repeatedly failed to come to an agreement whether or not to supply the Ukrainian armed forces with arms capable of countering the more advanced Russian weaponry, despite signing the Ukraine Freedom Support Act. As many have noted, the Ukrainian military is under-armed and under-budgeted, with little hope of withstanding heavier Russian-backed attacks. If Russia’s aggression is not halted now, we can have no guarantees on peace and Russia respecting the territorial sovereignty of Estonia, Georgia, or numerous other former Soviet states.