—–ON THE AGENDA—–
TRUMP IN WARSAW; SPEAKING AT GHETTO UPRISING MONUMENT
If you care about history, humanity, the U.S. and Poland, today will be devastating. Ahead of Trump’s speech at the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising Monument, where Lech Walesa is said to sit in the front row, Greenpeace Poland projected onto Warsaw’s most famous building, the Soviet-built Palace of Culture, “No Trump Yes Paris”. Walesa is reviled by the current Kaczynski-led Law and Justice government of lunacy, which seeks to rewrite history and cast Kaczynski’s dead twin brother Lech who perished in the plain crash in the woods of Smolensk on the way to a memorial for the Katyn massacre in Walesa’s role. So Trump’s plan to praise Walesa could backfire with his hosts in the idiot ruling party government – the best news out of all, POLITICO reports. According to local media reports, less than six percent of Poles are excited about the Russian puppet’s presence in their country and other reports indicate attendees of his speech are being bused in from around the country, according to NBC News because almost nobody hates Russia more than the Poles. So clueless is the current government in Warsaw that The New York Times reports Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of the ruling party, said, “We have a new success, Trump’s visit”. Has he been living under a rock or simply surrounding himself with The Stupid these days? Perhaps both? The New York Times has a live blog so you can follow all of the horror if you are a true sadist or merely despise history, knowledge, and a liberal world order. Trump has already used the platform provided by the Poles to deny that anyone knows anything about Russia’s election hacking on his behalf, which is of course complete and utter horseshit.
WHITE HOUSE AIDES WANT FIONA HILL IN TRUMP-PUTIN MEETING
The Daily Beast reports, “The White House’s best-known Russia hawk,” Fiona Hill, “is already in Germany, in advance of Donald Trump’s high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the G-20 summit.” However, “whether Fiona Hill will be allowed in the room when the two presidents get together is still very much an open question.” The Daily Beast reports, “According to two White House aides, senior Trump administration officials have pressed for Hill — the National Security Council’s senior director for Europe and Russia and the author of critical psychological biography of Putin—to be in the room during the president’s highly anticipated meeting with Putin.” This is of course in part because the Trump’s aides talk about him as if he is a toddler because he lacks self-control and competency for the highest office in the land. The Daily Beast reports, “If Hill is there, these officials believe, it will help the White House avoid the perception that the president is too eager to cozy up to the Kremlin.” Naturally this sounds vaguely good for Trump, so he will likely eschew any efforts to be babysat in favor of self-inflicted destruction because his ego means more than the security of population and the constitution he took an oath of office to defend and uphold. We are on the eve of destruction.
From The Daily Beast.
T REX: HERE ARE YOUR DELIVERABLES, MR. PRESIDENTS
The Washington Examiner reports, “Russia and the United States have a chance ‘to appropriately coordinate in Syria’ so that refugees can return home, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said.” The Russian Order of Friendship medal recipient is offering up the first evidence of what can be called a concrete deliverable ahead of tomorrow’s highly anticipated confab between the Russian dictator and his pet puppet in the White House. The Washington Examiner reports, “Tillerson proposed that Russia and the United States ‘explore the possibility’ of establishing no-fly zones and other ‘joint mechanisms’ to maintain peace in Syria as the Islamic State loses ground.” Such a move would “expand on the military-to-military contacts that have been used to avoid a direct conflict between Russian and American forces operating in the country,” The Washington Examiner notes. Gotta love how Tillerson is capable of delivering such statements concerning overtures to Moscow all on his own but tasks the spokeswoman who came to State from Fox News with delivering the messages about human rights and state abuses.
From The Washington Examiner.
PUTIN HOLDS SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING AHEAD OF G20
Russian state-run Sputnik reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin held an urgent meeting with the permanent members of Russia’s Security Council on Wednesday to discuss the country’s domestic affairs ahead of the two-day G20 summit”. Does domestic affairs include the Baltic states and Poland in their minds? Likely, however fallacious.
From Russian state-run Sputnik.
KISLYAK CRIES ELECTION MEDDLING HURT BILATERAL BULLSHIT
Russian state-run TASS reports, “The domestic political strife which has overtaken the United States has seriously undercut Russian-US relations and work with the Trump administration is unfolding quite uneasily, Russian Ambassador to the US Sergei Kislyak told TASS.” Sad! Ok, not really, because unlike Russia, the U.S. does not depend on Russia for its economy. U.S. allies rely on Russian energy, which is significant. The outgoing Russian Ambassador whined, “Work with Donald Trump’s administration is unfolding uneasily”. Kislyak added, “The internal political struggle in the United States has dealt a heavy blow to Russian-US relations. Sometimes, you are surprised at the ease with which the American establishment is ready to sacrifice normalcy in our relations.” No sacrifice, Sergey, certainly not on America’s part for responding to election hacking and installing such an ill suited group of racists, Nazis, kleptocrats and quislings into the seat of power in Washington. If anything surprises our great new friends, the Russians, it is that despite their finest efforts to destroy our democracy, our institutions endure somehow because they were not half as broken as the Russian leadership imagined. If only FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov had listened to then CIA Director John Brennan’s warnings in a phone call last August. This was all very foreseeable, Sergey.
From Russian state-run TASS.
KASPERSKY TIED TO FSB IN NEW DOCUMENTS
McClatchy has viewed “certifications issued to the company,” Kaspersky Lab, “by the Russian Security Service, the spy agency known as the FSB.” McClatchy notes, “Unlike the stamped approvals the FSB routinely issues to companies seeking to operate in Russia, Kaspersky’s include an unusual feature: a military intelligence unit number matching that of an FSB program.” Paul Rosenzweig, a former deputy secretary for policy at the Department of Homeland Security, said, “That strikes me as much more persuasive public evidence,” adding, “It makes it far more likely that much of the rumor and uncertainty about Kaspersky are true.” Of course, “Founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky studied cryptography, programming and mathematics at an academy operated by the KGB, the FSB’s Soviet-era predecessor, then worked for the Ministry of Defense.” McClatchy notes, “In a statement to McClatchy, the company did not directly address the reference to an FSB military unit number in several of its certificates dating to 2007.” Experts including former CIA station chief Steven Hall concurred, “Kaspersky may have had little choice.” Hall said, “These guys’ families, their well-being, everything they have is in Russia”.
MOSCOW RAIDS NAVALNY’S HEADQUARTERS
Because Russia is so free and wonderful and Putin is so big and strong that he is scared of an internet sensation, just like a real superpower! The Moscow Times reports, “Police have blocked access to opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s Moscow offices and are searching the premises, a member of the Anti-Corruption Fund and Navalny’s assistant Nikolai Lyaskin wrote on Facebook Thursday.” Lyaskin wrote, “The Moscow headquarters has been seized. The locks are cut off again”. Because again Russia is so big and strong, a real evil pseudo-empire!
From The Moscow Times.
TWO LATVIANS INDICTED FOR CYBER CRIMES IN VIRGINIA
The Washington Post reports, “Two men from Latvia,” Ruslans Bondars and Jurijs Martisevs, “ran a malware service that has been in operation for more than a decade and used in major attacks against U.S. businesses, according to an indictment unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Alexandria, Va.” The two Latvians “along with an alleged co-conspirator in Virginia, designed a buffet of hacking software that they marketed on cybercrime websites, according to prosecutors,” The Washington Post reports. According to The Washington Post, “The hidden service the pair allegedly operated was accessible via the encrypted network Tor,” and “had at least 30,000 users, according to prosecutors.” The Washington Post reports, “Among the offerings allegedly provided by the defendants: tool kits to create customized malicious files, software that hides those malicious files from anti-virus programs, ‘Remote Access Trojans’ that let a hacker take control of a computer, and ‘keyloggers’ that record anything typed on a computer.” The co-conspirator in Virginia, identified by only his initials suggesting he may possibly be working as an informant now, “is accused of designing a key logger used by 3,000 customers to infect 16,000 computers in 2012.” According to The Washington Post, “Bondars is a permanent resident of Latvia; Martisevs is a Latvian citizen who also lived in Moscow. They are both charged with conspiracy, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud and computer hacking.” Russian state-run TASS implied Martisevs is also a Russian national as the agency reports, “Russian national Yury Martyshev,” a Russified version of the Latvian name provided by The Washington Post, “extradited to the United States by the Latvian authorities is currently in a US prison in Alexandria, Virginia.” Russia whines now this is “another instance of kidnapping a Russian citizen by the US authorities”.
TRUMP ORGANIZATION RENEWS RUSSIA RELATED DOMAINS
POLITICO reports, “The Trump Organization has renewed its claim on more than 1,000 of the web domains registered by its general counsel, including some politically sensitive websites such as TrumpRussia.com and TrumpTowerMoscow.com.” The domains were “set to expire at the end of June”. POLITICO notes, “This is the first time the company has renewed the Russia domains since Trump entered the White House.” The Trump Organization has also registered “potentially embarrassing web domains defensively to prevent competitors or critics from taking them first,” and “renewed several URLs that seem to fall into that category, like DonaldTrumpSucks.com.” But they did not get TrumpistanWatch.com!
RUSSIA CALLS 2,500 AIRBORNE TROOPS TO BALTIC BORDER REGION
Newsweek reports citing Russian state-run TASS reports on Wednesday, “Russia has called 2,500 troops to an airborne military drill in its Pskov region, bordering NATO allies Latvia and Estonia”. “The drill will involve 40 aircraft, with airborne troops practicing landing in unfamiliar lands,” Newsweek reports, ostensibly “The exercises were described as ‘counterrorist’ drills.” Newsweek reports, “The sizeable exercise of Russia’s elite paratrooper division (VDV) is set to take place off the town of Kislovo, less than 50km from Russia’s border with Estonia,” adding that it is “the very unit that reportedly endured heavy losses in Ukraine in 2014.” Uh oh. “The disappearance of the Pskov soldiers, reported killed, was one of the first high-profile pieces of evidence that Russian forces had entered Ukraine,” Newsweek notes.
ESTONIA URGES EU STATES TO DO MORE ON DEFENSE
EuroNews reports, “Estonia, which has taken over the EU presidency, has urged fellow member states to do more on defence.” Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said in a speech to the European Parliament, “It is clear that the European Union must assume greater responsibility for security in and around Europe. No single country is able to stand up to the threats we face, or solve these challenges, alone”. EuroNews reports, “Estonian officials say they want to agree on the funding model for planned EU Battle Groups by the end of the year.”
SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CONFIRMATION HEARING FOR FBI DIRECTOR
POLITICO reports, “The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing next Wednesday for Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s pick to be the next FBI director.” It is enough that Trump picked him to be weary of whether or not to trust him.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
RUSSIANS WANT CHANGE
While TRUMPISTAN WATCH’s role is to focus on Western media and Russian propaganda efforts to target the West, there is a world of intrigue largely closed to Western audiences in Russian language media. Many of these Russian language reports contradict the “showdown” narrative perpetuated in Western media that is currently driving ratings, clicks, and likes and much of it shows a much weaker Putin than the West portrays. The Moscow Times picks up on some of these themes while acknowledging that this desire for change exists within “an important Russian phenomenon: Change and authority do not necessarily grow from wide support. What matters is the ability to interrupt the status quo.” While much of Western media focuses on the personality of Alexey Navalny and note his popular support lags far behind that of Putin, there is a much more important dynamic he inserts that is, as many things in Russia are, bigger than any one individual. Navalny’s “ability to mobilize huge crowds took the political elite by shock. Even more surprising was the fact that those who took to the streets at Navalny’s call were younger than ever before,” The Moscow Times notes. While the shift is bigger than Navalny and initiated by broader social and psychological changes in technology and the traditionalism that is a focal point of Russian propaganda, “In today’s Russia, it is difficult to draw a line between people’s search for social identity and political action. There is a simple explanation: Any social actions that people take — even superficially apolitical ones — go against state interests,” The Moscow Times reports. Consequently, “the regime only grows heavier,” yet, “simultaneously, the regime erodes,” The Moscow Times notes. Must read.
From The Moscow Times.
HEDGE FUNDS SHORTING THE RUBLE + QUITTING RUSSIA
Forbes reports, “Hedge funds have given up on Russia over the last few months, largely due to concerns over oil prices and heightened tension with the U.S. that may bring about extra-territorial sanctions on Russian companies.” Data from the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission suggests hedge funds “have been shorting the Russian ruble over the last week ending June 27. Short positions nearly doubled in a one week period,” Forbes reports. “Russian authorities have repeatedly warned of a weakening ruble. The Ministry of Economic Development’s base case forecast has the dollar worth 64.2 rubles. It’s now 59.26. The average for the year so far is around 68 rubles.” Forbes reports, “Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin says a weaker ruble will hurt the country’s balance of payments because the government will need to accumulate more rubles in order to pay foreign debt, mostly in euros.” According to Forbes, “The flight of investors associated with unrealized expectations about a U.S.-Russia rapprochement, and problems with between Rosneft and investment firm Systema over its odd Bashneft acquisition call into question the role of the state once again in acquiring private assets,” in a tale that resembles the far more publicized seizure of Yukos from Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Forbes notes that based on the data, “Renaissance Capital estimates that foreign investors pulled $83 million out of the Russian stock market in five days.”
WTF DOES NATO STRATCOM IN THE BALTICS EVEN DO?
The Baltic Times reports on the Riga StratCom Dialogue 2017 Conference, which appears to serve no purpose other than convening conference goers for dialogue of purposeless intent. Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis said, “We are not involving ourselves in anti-propaganda campaigns.” So then WTF is NATO StratCom doing in the Baltics exactly? This is despite the fact that the Latvian President acknowledged, “From the east, we feel the impact of Russian misinformation and propaganda, but from the south – another information campaign by the terrorist organization Daesh, which is capable of radicalizing those weaker members of society”. Perhaps the answer is then to cry victim and pretend that the strengths of Western societies have not been manipulated already to devastating end. Vejonis said, “We have been victims of misinformation campaigns, with the aim of influencing our opinions, as well as the opinions of our partners. We must react to these attempts to take advantage or our democratic values by hiding behind freedoms of speech and freedoms of the press.” Yes, that has all worked so well so far? If you wish to see first hand how ill suited NATO is to the task of countering Russian disinformation, secure a seat for such a StratCom event as TRUMPISTAN WATCH did the other day. Among such noteworthy for their lack of utility observations that Vejonis offered was the stark contrast even in seating between the political and military arms of NATO and the experts who complain about experts whilst exemplifying all that is wrong with experts (pedantic redundancy, academic obliviousness, inability to convey even the simplest ideas in a simple way). The conclusion TRUMPISTAN WATCH walked away with was that NATO StratCom is a highly ironic, self-parodying sitcom of little merit beyond potentially inspiring a hilarious television or internet production some day.
From The Baltic Times.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
ECHOES OF HISTORY: KENNEDY AND KHRUSHCHEV
The New York Times looks back at a time when, “A new president inexperienced in the intricacies of superpower politics meets his Russian rival for the first time. There are disputes over Crimea, nuclear weapons and completely different conceptions of an acceptable status quo as Washington and Moscow vie for global influence. The Americans arrive with an unclear agenda; the Russians have a very clear one.” As The New York Times notes, “While it sounds like the coming encounter between President Trump and the current Russian leader, Vladimir V. Putin,” in fact “this actually was a description of President John F. Kennedy’s first face-to-face session with Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev of the Soviet Union in June 1961.” Echoes of history much? The New York Times reports Khrushchev said then, “You know, Mr. Kennedy, we voted for you,” which “is a line that, if one believes American intelligence reports, Mr. Putin could repeat, but probably will not.” The New York Times must remind us of the Kennedy-Khrushchev confab that, “It was one of the most remarkable leader-to-leader encounters of the Cold War, a story of caution about the dangers of walking into such a session without clear strategic goals.” Lesson not learned! The New York Times reminds us, “Minutes after the meeting was over, Kennedy told James Reston of The New York Times that it had been an incredibly rough session, for which he had been ill-prepared.” At the 1961 meeting “one of the many heated debates between Kennedy and Khrushchev was over the question of meddling in the affairs of other countries.” History will repeat!
From The New York Times.
SIX SECRETS OF US AMBASSADOR’S MOSCOW RESIDENCE
Russia Beyond the Headlines has a delightful listicle on “6 secrets of U.S. ambassador residence in Moscow that sound like myths”. The most notorious item on the list as related to espionage is number three, “Spying state emblem at the ambassador’s office”. Russia Beyond the Headlines reports while “There are many spy stories related to Spaso House,” that “The most famous is the story of a ‘bug’ inside the wooden U.S. state emblem.” When “The Soviet Union learned that Ambassador William Harriman was a passionate collector of crafts made from rare woods,” the Soviet authorities had an idea. Russia Beyond the Headlines notes, “in 1945 he was presented with an elaborate replica of the Great Seal of the United States carved in wood,” but there was of course one issue that went unnoticed through the terms of four different ambassadors. As “The furniture changed,” with each ambassador, “the bug kept its place on the wall,” inside the mouth of the eagle in the wooden state seal. “Now the emblem is kept in the CIA Museum,” Russia Beyond the Headlines notes.
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