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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2102

Will America strike back in cyberspace?;
A push for more flexible military service

Edited by Amanda Azinheira
November 16, 2016

October 14: 

In response to attacks against the Democratic National Committee (DNC) this summer, the CIA is preparing for a possible retaliatory cyber strike against Russia. Although specifics are as yet unknown, 
NBC News reportsthat the Obama administration has requested the formulation of a wide-range of "clandestine" cyber operations designed to "embarrass" the Kremlin leadership. Intelligence analysts speculate that the cyber strike will likely target Russia's ability to censor its internal web traffic and expose the financial dealings of Kremlin associates.

October 15:

The Duma has approved amendments to the Russian law on military service that would allow Russians to serve for shorter terms, 
notes Paul Goble in Window on Eurasia. Typically, Russians must sign military service contracts for two, three or five years. The amendment, however, would allow for individuals to serve from terms of just six months to one year. The move, observes Goble, is a pragmatic one; as Russia's military operations abroad continue to expand, the Kremlin is looking at ways to recruit more military personnel in order to support its military objectives. 

October 16:

Russia is looking for ways to help bolster its state budget. 
According to Reuters, the Russian state is now selling shares of the country's top oil producer, Rosneft. The Kremlin hopes to raise around 700 billion rubles ($10.5 billion) from the sale of 19.5 percent stake in the company in order to fill holes in the budget. If demand by private investors proves inadequate, the company could buy its shares from the government and resell them to private investors in the future. 

October 17:

The British bank NatWest has announced that it will close down the bank accounts of the Kremlin run TV station Russia Today (RT). The bank is a part of the Royal Bank of Scotland and is mostly state owned, 
reports London's Guardian. Despite assurances from the UK Treasury that it had nothing to do with the decision and that the announcement was made without official consultation, Moscow has accused the British government of violating freedom of the press and free speech. 

October 18:

Is Russia trying to save face in Syria? 
According to the BBC, Moscow has announced a suspension of Russian and Syrian airstrikes in Aleppo as part of a humanitarian pause in fighting. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has urged civilians to use humanitarian corridors to leave the war-torn area. UN agencies, meanwhile, have criticized the suspension, saying that the eight hours allotted is not nearly enough time to get aid in. The pause in fighting was announced after Russia was blamed for bombing a humanitarian convoy and amid growing international criticism. 

October 19:

Moscow is violating another major agreement with Washington. 
According to the New York Times, Russia is moving forward with a program aimed at producing a ground-launched cruise missile, despite the fact that it violates a key 1980s nuclear pact. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty "bans the two nations from testing, producing and possessing ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles that are capable of flying 300 to 3,400 miles," and has been in place since the waning days of the Cold War. American officials believe that Russia is creating more missiles than normal, prompting concerns that the Kremlin is building up a missile force that is meant to be deployed.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program

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