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Russia Reform Monitor - No 2194

Moldova moves against Russian disinformation;
No love for the new NPR

Edited by Ilan Berman
March 9, 2018

January 31:

Moscow police have carried out a raid on the home of journalist Pavel Nikulin,
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports. The official search appears to have been prompted by a recent article written by Nikulin detailing the case of a Russian man who was radicalized and joined the Islamic State terrorist group. Nikulin himself was detained for questioning, with authorities inquiring what he knew about terrorist recruitment and training, before being released.

February 1:

The capabilities gap between Russia and the United States is steadily widening, a leading military analyst has noted. "The Russian military for many years has regarded the EMS [electromagnetic spectrum] as a lethal space; it's only now that we're seeing a closing of the gap between the capabilities, the procurement, and their military thinking," Roger McDermott of Kings College London said in a recent address at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in comments
carried by the Washington Free Beacon. "It should be no surprise for us to come to the conclusion that the Russian general staff see the EMS as a potential Russian war fighting domain." America, meanwhile, is lagging behind in its development of EMS capabilities. "Defense officials eyeing Russian offensives in Ukraine and Syria are now concerned that the U.S. military has lost its edge in countering and waging electronic warfare against near-peer adversaries," the Beacon notes.

Tensions between Washington and Moscow are on the rise following a close encounter between U.S. and Russian military planes over the Black Sea.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Russia's military brass has maintained that the Russian fighter jet's maneuvers - which the U.S. military termed "unsafe" - "were standard and absolutely legal and safe for the U.S. surveillance plane." "The incident on January 29 was one of the closest in a series of close encounters in which Russian jets have come close to U.S. and NATO aircraft and warships in recent years," RFE/RL notes.

On the eve of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games, more than two dozen Russian athletes have won their appeal to overturn bans on their participation issued by the International Olympic Committee.
According to the New York Times, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has thrown out the case against twenty-eight Russian sportsmen and women who had been blacklisted for violating anti-doping regulations before and during the 2014 Games in Sochi as a result of "insufficient evidence." The verdict makes the Russian athletes eligible to participate in the upcoming games in Pyongchang, South Korea - albeit under a neutral banner, rather than the Russian flag.

Moldova is moving to curb Russian disinformation within its borders.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports that a new law set to take effect in the Eastern European country later this month "will outlaw the retransmission of Russian radio and TV programs." Moldova is the latest former Soviet satellite to restrict access to Russian media; Georgia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have all either outlawed or restricted Russian state broadcasting over the past decade.

February 2:

Reuters reports that Russia's Foreign Ministry has issued a warning to citizens not to travel abroad lest they become targets of the United States. "Despite our calls to improve cooperation between the relevant U.S. and Russian authorities... U.S. special services have effectively continued 'hunting' for Russians around the world," the warning said. "Considering these circumstances, we strongly insist that Russian citizens carefully weigh up all the risks when planning trips abroad."

February 3:

Russia's Defense Ministry is lashing out at the Pentagon for its latest nuclear strategy document.
Itar-TASS reports the Ministry as noting the confrontational nature of the new U.S. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which has just been released by the Defense Department. "While just having a flick through the document, one can notice that its confrontational charge and anti-Russian focus stare in the face," the Ministry said in a public commentary. "We state with regret that the US justifies its policy for a massive buildup of nuclear forces and an alleged increasing role of nuclear weapons in Russia's doctrines."

Russian authorities are now considering responding in kind. "Certainly, we will be compelled to take into consideration the approaches introduced now by Washington and to take necessary steps in order to ensure own security," the statement said.

Related Categories: Russia; Missile Defense; Russia and Eurasia Program

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