MAS Special ReportWeekly review

Weekly review NATO - UE LEVANT Western Balkans Black Sea Region

10 septembrie 2019 - Special reports - Weekly review

D.S.M. WEEKLY REPORT Main Political and Military Developments (WEEK 36 of 2019)

Monitorul Apărării şi Securităţii

I. AFGHANISTAN. The Taliban increase attacks on foreigners. II. UNITED KINGDOM. Boris Johnson’s strategy drives into a new quagmire. III. REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. Igor Dodon visits Moscow and Brussels. IV. UKRAINE. Ukraine and Russia exchange prisoners. V. Developments to track this Week 37 of 2019.

Sursă foto: Mediafax

I. AFGHANISTAN. The Taliban increase attacks on foreigners.

Two consecutive tragedies afflicted Romania and brought to our attention the “forgotten war” we are involved in. The negotiations hastily conducted by the United States with the Taliban generated the situation where the Taliban push for results beyond the real force ratio in the field. The Taliban’s attacks on foreigners in Kabul are an instrument they use to squeeze concessions at the negotiation table. However, it pertains to the U.S. leaders to decide the pace and conditions for withdrawal, because a hasty withdrawal will inspire the Taliban to raise the stake of their requests. The effect on the ground of such situation will be an escalation of Taliban attacks on soldiers and civilians of Coalition nations. The generals in the Theater of Operations (TO) know this risk and will react adequately, but they cannot diminish the danger too much, considering the guerilla warfare tactics, techniques and procedures used by the Taliban.

On September 2nd, a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) blew up in the Green Village, the Kabul district where many international organization headquarter buildings are located. This attack resulted in the death of sixteen individuals, a Romanian among them, and in 100 injured civilians, foreign (one Romanian among them) and Afghan. The second attack occurred on September 5th, also in Kabul, IVO the Coalition General Headquarters, and resulted in two Coalition soldiers killed (one Romanian and one American) and ten Afghan civilians, plus 42 injured Afghan civilians. The Taliban have claimed both attacks.

So, the two attacks follow the logic of an escalation, very likely linked to the U.S. – Taliban negotiations. Feeling the favorable moment when Trump Administration wants to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban use these attacks against Coalition members, military and civilians, to force Washington make concessions, especially since they already gained some success: they took the Kabul legal authorities off the negotiations, and, in the draft agreement, a quick withdrawal of an important part of the American contingent and closure of some bases. What is going on?

The operational situation is not as bad as the Taliban try to present, but it is neither better than… 18 years ago, then the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, following September 11: the Taliban show the same freedom of movement in the same large areas of the country, but they do not control the territories where the Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara are in majority. They do not control the cities either, although they have enough freedom of movement there too, as recent attacks demonstrate. Nevertheless, the Taliban control the rural areas, inhabited in majority by Pashtuns. The Taliban do not possess “regular” armed forces anymore, but guerilla detachments. Although the situation is difficult, it is still good, considering that Coalition land forces are no longer involved in combat, but they train and support the Afghan military, which continue the fight against the Taliban. However, Coalition support is strictly necessary to the Afghan military.

Apparently, nothing new under the sun, it is the method used by the United States decades ago in Vietnam: we prepare you to fight and we support you. However, there is a big difference: there is a core layer in Afghanistan, ranging from the population to high leaders, who are hostile to the Taliban. This part of Afghanistan population is composed of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazara. In addition, part of the Pashtun population supports the power in Kabul. But, should the United States withdraw hastily, there is a danger that civil war spirals up. Let’s remember that, before the U.S. intervention, this is what was going on in Afghanistan, and after the American invasion too: a civil war between the Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara minorities, on one side, and the Pashtun Taliban, on the other side. Nevertheless, two differences surfaced: the first is that part of the Pashtun tribes support the Kabul authorities; and the second is that Pakistan, the power which created and supported the Taliban, might reduce its support to the Taliban (not sure though), because the American pressure is huge. 

The Trump Administration takes credit for speaking the truth, putting the foot down and hinging the financial and military support to Islamabad on ending the Pakistani support to the Taliban. It is hard to believe though, that Pakistan can afford to diminish this support too much, for two reasons: the Pakistani decisionmakers consider Afghanistan a strategic depth needed to confront India; and, should Pakistan end its support to the Afghan Pashtuns, it might lose its own Pashtuns in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), because the Durand Line separating Afghanistan from Pakistan is rather a map item, not clear to be recognized by Kabul.

Therefore, there is a deadlock: the power in Kabul cannot win this war, but it cannot lose it either, as long as it is supported by the international Coalition spearheaded by the United States. In their turn, the Taliban cannot win this war, but they cannot lose it either, as long as they are supported by Pakistan. Then, what is new? The 2020 elections in United States, and President Trump’s wish to honor his promise of withdrawing the American troops from Afghanistan. Not that much the negotiations made the Taliban commit these terrorist attacks, but the Americans’ hurry to withdraw. Compared to the overall war in Afghanistan, recent attacks are not a serious blow (sorry for cynicism), but for the public in the United States and the Coalition member nations they bear a strong significance (the Taliban either have warfare instinct, or they learned well the Vietnamese lesson: the Tet offensive, although failed militarily, had a decisive political impact in the U.S.).

Washington is consulting its allies (Mike Pompeo visited Brussels) and weighing consequences. The conditions raised to the Taliban stand proof (not sheltering terrorists and opening negotiations with the power in Kabul), as well as the recent declarations by the U.S. defense minister: Washington will negotiate a good agreement both for the United States and for the Afghan people[1]. Let’s hope that President Trump’s hurry will be tempered by military commanders in the field, who know best the situation and the way it may develop. The latest news do not reveal a reliable course of action: the commander in TO participated in the latest meeting of September 6th between the American and Taliban representatives, which shows that negotiations reached concrete issues (numbers of troops to be withdrawn, terms, bases to be closed), and the American political negotiator stated that progress was made. On the other hand, the Afghan president postponed his visit to the U.S., in the last moment.

It is clear that the U.S. will withdraw, sooner or later.  What matters, both for Kabul and for us, is the pace Washington is pursuing, in order to avoid the impression of chaos, which might make the Taliban, encouraged by success, increase their attacks, including on Coalition forces, despite the withdrawal agreements (the boys will be boys). Of course, they will strike the weakest link, where military and political weakness is visible: perhaps not the American troops. On the other hand, such agreement would end this war and finally bring our soldiers back home.

Uncertainty ended on September 8th, when President Trump announced that United States suspended negotiations with the Taliban, precisely as result of recent attacks when an American soldier died. “Unfortunately, in order to build false leverage, they admitted to an attack in Kabul that killed one of our great great soldiers, and 11 other people,” Trump tweeted. “I immediately cancelled the meeting and called off peace negotiations. … If they cannot agree to a ceasefire during these very important peace talks, and would even kill twelve innocent people, then they probably don’t have the power to negotiate a meaningful agreement anyway”. So, for the moment, the Taliban received exactly the opposite of what they wanted, because they had not correctly identified the opponent’s center of gravity: there is no demoralized America which decided to withdraw quickly, but President Trump, for electoral reasons. America is not a dictatorship, where the leader’s wish is unquestionable. And as quickly as a peace agreement was considered… as quickly such plan was reversed. But the decision is likely for the moment. The United States will probably resume negotiations, but at a different pace, and with a different strategy. Let’s hope that future negotiations will succeed, as our military and civilian lives are at stake there.


II. UNITED KINGDOM. Boris Johnson’s strategy drives into a new quagmire. 

Boris Johnson failed in his strategy to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union on October 31st, even without an agreement: he failed to stop the Parliament pass a law obliging him to avoid a Blind Brexit. He also failed to get the Parliament vote to organize early elections. Considering that Boris Johnson did not negotiate anything with the EU, and presented no alternative to backstop, the situation reached a deadlock, not only regarding the Brexit, but also regarding the domestic situation, with the prime minister in conflict with the Parliament. In this process, Boris Johnson crippled the Conservative Party by sacking those who voted the anti-Blind Brexit law.

On September 4th, The House of Commons in the British Parliament voted the law obliging the government to refrain from taking the United Kingdom out of the EU without an agreement. The bill passed without any problem despite the prime minister’s threat he would expel from the party those who voted it. Later, he did expel them indeed, and the Conservative Party lost majority in the Parliament. The Parliament also voted against early elections, so much desired by the prime minister.

Boris Johnson’s whole strategy proved to be a bluff meant to take Britain out of the EU on October 31st, even without an agreement, had the Europeans not yielded regarding elimination of backstop. Boris Johnson did not offer any alternative to backstop, which proves that he strongly considers a thrust for a Blind Brexit. More responsible, and in consideration of the consequences for Britain, the Parliament got in his way. Then, Boris Johnson acted arbitrarily, and expelled from his Conservative party those who voted a law otherwise reasonable, reflecting responsibility and not being an ultimatum (he only must ask the EU for a new postponement, if he cannot find a solution. Of course, the Brits should look for a solution in the first place, which they did not).

The last card played by the U.K. prime minister was forcing early elections, in the attempt to force the British voters to choose between two evils - Boris Johnson plus the Blind Brexit, or Jeremy Corbin with his limitations (a lefty radical), in addition to the uncertainty such choice would entail. For this, the prime minister needed the opposition votes, as early elections could not be summoned without two thirds of all MPs. To his honor, Jeremy Corbin did not fall into Boris Johnson’s trap, and the Labor opposition voted against. Although, so far, Jeremy Corbin repeatedly requested snap elections, he acknowledged he might lose the elections, he admitted he might offer success to Boris Johnson and his Blind Brexit course of action.

What will Boris Johnson do next? He started a kind of electoral tour! And the British subjects told him, in the street, to stop this game. They also asked him why he was not in Brussels, to negotiate. Nevertheless, he holds an important trump card: most Britons voted for Brexit, and now Boris Johnson presents the situation as a denial, by the Parliament, of their wish expressed in the ballots. However, the Brits know they did not vote for a Blind Brexit!

Of course, Boris Johnson can ask the EU for a new postponement (although France already announced that such postponement would not be given automatically!), he can still offer an alternative to backstop and negotiate a new agreement with the EU, or he can resign. For the moment, Boris Johnson seems to be not ready for any of these options, as he seems sure to seek, at any cost, eager to take Britain out of the EU by October 31st. But how? Nobody knows, not even Boris Johnson. Consequently, we will soon have the British Parliament dissolved at B. Johnson’s request, no early elections, and problems appeared in the government as well: a minister resigned already, and the others do not feel in control either. However, rumor has it that, on October 17th, Boris Johnson will attempt to obtain a new agreement with the EU, not a new postponement. What if he succeeds? Boris Johnson had already been warned that, should he not abide by the law passed in the Parliament… he will face the court, and likely be convicted. However, B. Johnson and his counsellors do not lack imagination…

Brexit took an ugly turn for the U.K. Not only that the perspective of a difficult exit looms large, as it would afflict Britain’s political relation with the EU, but there is a domestic crisis as well, and this crisis is not shallow, but a crisis to shake the British democracy, the relation between the Cabinet and the Parliament, as well as one of the most important political parties, the Conservatives. Thus, future elections might bring big surprises: a reconfiguration of Britain’s political landscape cannot be ruled out.

The words “domestic instability” was rarely heard in London, but this is where the wish of a relatively small group, who wanted Brexit at any cost (domestic and abroad), and who brought Boris Johnson to power. Now, Boris Johnson proves to be more dangerous than an incompetent prime minister (who would be supplemented, at least temporarily, by inertia: the country goes on, same as “the headless horseman”), because he sees his country as a game, and politics cannot become a game unless it pays a big political, economic and social price.


III. REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA. Igor Dodon visits Moscow and Brussels.

In a quick streak, President Igor Dodon paid three visits: first, he went to Moscow to meet Dmitri Kozak and Alexey Miller, as the main topic was, according to Dodon himself, the gas delivery problem. Then, he visited Brussels, where he met NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and two second-rank European officials. Finally, Igor Dodon returned to Moscow, where he talked to President Vladimir Putin.

According to his own words, at the meeting with Vladimir Putin, on September 7th, Igor Dodon discussed issues pertaining to bilateral strategic dialogue, with a special attention to solving the gas delivery problem. A principle agreement has been reached regarding Russian gas supply to Republic of Moldova (RM)[2].

Several RM domestic and foreign policy issues were also discussed in Moscow. Igor Dodon underlined the historical glamour of the events in early June and thanked Russia for its support to the peaceful transfer of power. Dodon also told Vladimir Putin that “foreign powers’ consensus regarding RM offers big chances to his country for development and for building a balanced foreign policy, based on maintaining and consolidating the constitutional status of perpetual neutrality”. Dodon told Putin about his efforts to “activate contacts with high officials of most important RM foreign partners (Russia, EU and U.S.), about the results after his recent meetings in Brussels with EU and NATO leadership, as well as about the speech he would deliver to the 74th U.N. General Assembly”. Regarding the Transnistrian problem, Dodon mentioned “the need to combine efforts of all participants in the 5+2 format negotiations in order to identify an effective political model, in respect of RM’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders”.

Let’s translate what Igor Dodon transmitted: 1) Russia makes an offer to reduce the gas price for RM. Of course, with the goal to support Dodon’s Socialists in the elections; 2) Dodon must parade the issue of consensus among major players in RM – Russia, EU and the United States, as a permanent factor to legitimize his actions (in fact, Moscow’s actions through him); 3) NATO must keep off RM, which is neutral; 4) Dodon’s speech to the U.N. General Assembly will not disturb Moscow; 5) the Kozak plan will be squeezed in by “small step policy”, within the 5+2 format negotiations.

What is concerning is that nobody opposes Dodon’s game, at least visibly. Therefore, a proven Russian agent presents himself as champion of a balanced policy between East and West, although he does everything to steer RM towards Russia, while the government says that the country goes towards… the West. In fact, there are two narratives in Chişinău, and each side pretends it does not hear the other. Which voice is wrong? If the West insists on the main elements, from democracy and implementation of signed agreements (the Association to EU Agreement is essential), to a principled solution to the Transnistrian problem, then ACUM is right; but if the West fully aware accepts Dodon’s game and systematically yields RM to Russian control (by accepting Dodon’s policy, then by accepting a Kozak plan), then Dodon is right.

The NATO case is a good example. Igor Dodon went to Jens Stoltenberg specially to ask the Alliance to recognize RM’s neutrality, as if NATO wanted to integrate RM... In fact, very likely, Dodon proposed the original solution meant to calm the Kremlin: NATO keeps far from RM, politically and militarily, but the NATO – RM plan is implemented originally, meaning hollow, empty of contents in its main parts. The reason is that American financial military support is necessary, as well as from other NATO nations (of course, such support is hinged on the implementation of NATO – RM plan), and this support must continue, otherwise how is the RM’s National Army supposed to survive?, because Russia will finance only the separatists and the Russian occupation troops. Perhaps NATO offered the natural answer: you will receive as much money as you implement the bilateral plan. The RM – Russia military agreement issue was put away for the moment. Maybe it will be just Romania to unconditionally support RM, but Romania will still not receive Igor Dodon’s “gratitude”.

At the European Union, Igor Dodon promised to implement the signed agreements and raised the problem of a possible interruption of gas supply from Russia, by Ukraine. So, jumping over the possibilities opened by the gas pipeline linking RM to Romania, Dodon raised himself to the position of Russia’s problems champion, disguised into RM’s problems. Igor Dodon might have asked EU for other concessions as well, regarding issues which are inconvenient for Moscow in the energy relations with RM.

To the Kremlin, Dodon is all it can wish for, in current circumstances: using only one individual (and his coworkers) paid with one million dollars a month, the Kremlin starts to control RM and even hopes to get the West tacit accord for that. Igor Dodon became a kind of carrier or problem launderer, who takes the Kremlin’s orders, wraps them in RM wrapping, turning them into Moldovan problems, and presents them to the West to agree and solve them, although it is obvious those problems harm RM. How would the NATO and U.S. support harm the RM National Army? No way. But such cooperation harms the Kremlin’s policy, therefore, RM – NATO cooperation should stop or stop increasing. Yet RM’s National Army belongs to RM! Why keep the sponsor away?

We will see whether this strategy pans out: ACUM did not sign yet the agreement with the PSRM (Igor Dodon’s Socialists), and the West is patient, at the end of the day, it is the main sponsor. Everything depends on Moldovan electorate, but also on RM’s political elite, who, beyond satisfying personal and group interests, should think about the country too. And let’s not forget that Romanians live in RM though (by the millions, just considering the number of passports), and there is Romania too, part of the West! 


IV. UKRAINE. Ukraine and Russia exchange prisoners.

A small first step, yet important, towards thawing the Russo – Ukrainian relations was made when the two countries conducted a long-postponed exchange of prisoners. This event was assessed as crucial for relaunching the bilateral dialogue. However, it is just the first opening move in the complicated and scruple-lacking game that the Kremlin plays after Zelenskiy came to power, nothing more. The difficulty of this game stems from the irreconcilable objectives pursued by these two players: Kyiv wants only peace without conceding sovereignty, Moscow wants to control Kyiv using the separatists, nothing less. Of course, Vladimir Putin must adapt to the new situation, with a Zelenskiy who cannot be portrayed as the main representative of a fascist power which seeks war on Russia and wants to crush the Russian minority living in Donbass.

Finally, on September 7th, Russia and Ukraine exchanged 35 prisoners each, including symbolic individuals (Ukrainian Oleg Sentsov) and the Ukrainian sailors captured during the Kerch Strait incident. The prisoner swap was delayed by Russia, which set the condition that… Ukrainian Volodymyr Tsemakh should be among the prisoners delivered by Kyiv. Tsemakh was arrested by Ukrainian authorities for his involvement in downing the MH 17 airliner with a BUK missile system belonging to the Russian Armed Forces. This detail shows that we are dealing with the same Kremlin, with the same cynical approach, in disdain of international laws: the Kremlin wants to erase the tracks of the crime committed by its troops, the downing of MH 17 airliner, by retrieving Volodymyr Tsemakh, who was arrested for criminal issues, was not taken prisoner in combat. Moscow wants to preclude Tsemakh from providing testimony and reveal the truth we all know: albeit by mistake (perhaps mistaking it for a Ukrainian plane), Moscow is responsible for downing the MH 17. Russian officials keep lying not so much to avoid paying compensation to victim families, but for not admitting that Russia was, even from the beginning, involved in the Donbass conflict. Upholding this lie, that Russia is not involved in the Donbass conflict, is crucial for Russia’s status of uninvolved party, and for achieving the final goal of controlling Ukraine. So, even this opening step shows Russia’s continued policy, which cannot deliver a principled solution to the Donbass conflict.

The United States, the large European nations, and the international media as well, perceived the prisoner exchange as a sign of the relations between the two countries thawing. We dare to assess the contrary: it is just an opening move in the game the Kremlin is playing in the attempt to gain control over Kyiv by diplomatic means, without giving up the military means though. The ruse works because the object (prisoner exchange) is nice, is humanitarian, is mutually beneficial, and sells well to the press.

President Trump described the exchange as “perhaps a first giant step to peace”, and French officials declared that this swap shows an increased trust between the two parties, and their will to resume dialogue. The conflict in Ukraine will be on the agenda for the Franco – Russian security cooperation council at foreign and defense minister level, in Moscow. Only the Netherlands expressed a separate opinion and announced disappointment for conceding Ukraine to Russian pressure.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy showed enthusiasm regarding the prisoner exchange and described it as a first step towards in the process of ending the war. The two presidents, Russian and Ukrainian, had a phone conversation on September 7th: they expressed satisfaction for the prisoner swap and agreed to have future contacts. The two also discussed the date for the future meeting in Normandy format (the expert meeting in Berlin, where Surkov was part of the Russian team, failed in this regard).

Facing this enthusiasm, in Kyiv, Paris and Moscow, one should still separate shallow and temporary optimism from the real development in this conflict. It is true, it is an important step, an opening, a dialogue between the two presidents, but… just that. Moscow must do something to respond to France’s initial opening. Paris promised to help Moscow out of isolation if it budged ahead. The Kremlin will do just that, at no cost, but the direction to move things has nothing to do with French and President Trump’s hopes.

Maybe in Kyiv they think the same, but Zelenskiy, who is open but not naïve, must respond positively to French dialogue illusions and to President Trump’s opening to Russia. But, first and foremost, Zelenskiy must show the Ukrainians that he does everything in his power to accomplish the promise he made – achieving peace (on retrieving Donbass, we’ll see later, and on bringing Crimea back, nothing can be said).

At home, Zelenskiy began to implement what he promised: the law on lifting immunity for members of the Parliament was passed in the Verkhovna Rada. Thus, the screen hiding Ukraine’s big kleptocrats disappeared. It was the tool by which white collar criminals in the Parliament extended their immunity for political declarations to blanket immunity and, by this abusive interpretation, they got away from prosecution for their crimes. Specialized courts for corruption cases were also established. We’ll see how they work, because such courts can clean the political and economic life in Ukraine, but they can also cause high instability (kleptocracy does not yield, if defends itself by all means).

Perspectives are moderately optimistic because, at least in such context, the Damocles sword of a new Russian offensive against Ukraine is not on the radar screen, but nothing more, as the perspective of peace is equally far-off. But now we witness cynical Vladimir Putin’s weapons used against a novice on another battlefield, diplomatic negotiations. However, as Ukraine escaped military aggression, it has the chances to also dodge Moscow’s diplomatic offensive to a solution decided by the Kremlin in advance. Ukraine must withstand Moscow’s pressure, but also pressure from the West, who might be tempted, for the sake of peace and bringing Russia back to where they think it belongs, to make important concessions… at Ukraine’s expense.


V. Developments to track this Week 37 of 2019.

► IRAN. Most of the 15 billion bailout package initiated by France failed, not only due to the U.S. veto, but also for Tehran’s refusal to concede to French requests. After that, Iran announces a further departure from the 2015 nuclear deal and presents a new ultimatum to the Europeans. China is preparing its own plan for cooperation with Iran, and this tastes like salvation to Tehran. But still, the sanctions work, and the perspective of opening discussions between United States and Iran does not seem so impossible anymore. However, considering that neither part is ready to make concessions, tensions will continue to increase. We will see in what form, beyond declarations and threats.            

► TURKEY. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan threatened the Europeans with a new wave of migrants. In fact, he already released a small echelon which caused problems for Greece. What financial and political concessions Erdoğan wants is rather known, now it will be interesting to see when and how he will present his requests to the Europeans. The situation in Idlib is worth monitoring too, as well as that in the Security Zone established with the United States. Erdoğan’s question “Why is Turkey not allowed to possess the nuclear weapon?” is disturbing, especially since Turkey is protected by American nuclear weapons within NATO. Is it an indication that U.S. is really withdrawing its tactical nuclear arsenal from Incirlik? We will know it, it will be… Russia to tell us, loud and clear, because Moscow is eager to widen the gap between Turkey and the United States, respectively within NATO.

► UNITED STATES - EUROPE. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Brussels might spell resetting the relations between Unites States and the European Union. His task to rekindle America’s relations with the Europeans had, of course, the blessing of President Trump, although the president mentioned again that the Europeans profit from trade relations with the U.S. Maybe President Trump begins to see that alliances and friendships are built on basic and sound principles, not only on the analysis of trade deficit. Considering the perspective of continuing the trade war with China, although resumption of negotiations was announced, the Unites States might consider remembering friends, because it cannot isolate itself. However, it is important that the Europeans show readiness to this relaunching too. After Vice-President Pence promised strong U.S. support to new Europe, Poland and Ukraine, it is time for old Europe to open dialogue with Washington (in fact, French President Emmanuel Macron did that, during the G7 Summit). Also, Trump Administration should stop seeing EU as an adversary, albeit only in trade. 

► RUSSIA – UNITED STATES. Both President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Moscow’s offer to refrain from deploying intermediate range nuclear missiles as long as the U.S. do not do that, in the European theater, and in the Asian theater as well. This move is meant to persuade the Europeans and the Asians to reject any deployment of such American missiles on their territory (in Japan’s case, there is also a new condition linked to signing the peace treaty and return of the Southern Kurile Islands / Northern Territories in Japanese language). After the United States tested an intermediate range cruise missile, Russia announces it is about to test such weapons itself (already tested though, when Russia breached the INF!) and to produce them (also already done, when Russia breached the INF!), only for later not deploy them, should U.S. refrain from deploying its own (but Russia has them already deployed!). It seems to be a joke, but this is, in a nutshell, Russia’s strategy in the post-INF period, when it needs to keep alive the false story about not breaching the INF, and, in the same time, present the tested, produced and operationalized missiles as new missiles!

[1] The United States also learned the Vietnamese lesson: had the U.S. not withdrawn air support, Saigon would never had fallen that easily.

[2] “During current year, the price for gas will not increase, and next year it might even decrease. The costs for end users will not rise. Starting October 1st, the price of Russian gas for Moldova will decrease”. Igor Dodon also expressed his “gratitude to Russian leadership for extending the tax-free trade arrangement for five classes of Moldovan agriculture industry goods”.