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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2075

Russia's secret nuclear city;
New bases... and military mobilization

Edited by Ilan Berman, Amanda Azinheira and Daniel Jimenez
July 6, 2016

June 5: 

The battle for Aleppo is heating up. Despite a ceasefire brokered by Washington and Moscow back in February, attacks on the Syrian city have increased recently, 
reports Radio Free Liberty/Radio Liberty. Russian and Syrian forces have stepped up bombings in Syria's largest city with 50 airstrikes on June 5th, killing at least 32 people, in an effort to dislodge the Islamic State terrorist group from the urban center. 

June 6:

Does Germany now regard Russia as a threat? The country's "white book," a policy document outlining the country's security strategy, seems to indicate so. 
The Moscow Times reports that German newspaper Die Welthas confirmed that the German government believes "Russia is no longer Germany's partner but its rival," citing Moscow's "willingness to use force" and "open contest of the European order of peace established after the Cold War." 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has put his Finnish counterpart, Timo Soini, on notice that Moscow would be responding to Helsinki's decision to host a NATO drill in Finnish territory. "We will invoke Russia's sovereign right to guarantee its security with measures proportionate to the current risks," Lavrov told reporters in comments 
carried by Reuters. The Kremlin has stated that it views Finland's decision as overtly hostile, and does not recognize any threat in the Baltic region that would justify military action. 

A new poll conducted by the Levada Center suggests that Russians increasingly view their mass media as statist. 
The Meduza news website reports that the survey found 21 percent of respondents to believe that "authorities are attacking free speech and infringing on independent media," and that 53 percent of those polled believe Russia needs a television channel that criticizes the government without censorship. The study, however, also highlighted the depths of Russian dependency on state-approved media, with some 87 percent of respondents indicating that they never access news from foreign sources. 

[EDITORS' NOTE: Given the effect of Russia's increasingly authoritarian political climate on pollsters and respondents alike, the results of public opinion surveys in Russia should be viewed with some caution.] 

June 7:

A new documentary by American filmmaker Samira Goetschel has brought to light a secret Russian city which houses most of the country's nuclear reserves, 
Australia's reports. Ozersk was created in 1947 and served as the general headquarters for Russia's nuclear program during the decades of the Cold War. Thousands of Soviet citizens were relocated to the city, forced to cut all communication with the rest of the world and to work in its nuclear plant. Sixty years later, not much has changed. The city continues to conduct sensitive nuclear research under the direction of federal authorities, and its citizens continue to be cut off from the world. 

Russia is erecting a new military base near its common border with Ukraine, 
reports Reuters. The "makeshift army camp," located some 30 miles from Ukrainian territory outside the town of Klintsy in western Russia, boasted "large numbers of newly-arrived servicemen and military vehicles" during a recent visit by a journalist from the news agency. Russia's government has not officially acknowledged the existence of the Klintsy site, but it represents part of "a build-up of forces along a line running from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south," according to Reuters.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program

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