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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Prisoner Releases will Empower Extremist Insurgencies

 By Eva Kahan and Rahma Bayrakdar

Contributors: Omer Niazi

Key Takeaway: Large-scale prisoner releases and escapes will invigorate the global Salafi-jihadi movement at a time when it has ample opportunity to expand. Recent prisoner exchanges, escapes, and mass releases are returning thousands of insurgents to battlefields in West Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia and will accelerate the growth of several insurgencies.

What’s happening:

Global counterterrorism efforts are receding. The US is planning drawdowns from Afghanistan under the US-Taliban deal and from the counter–Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) mission in Iraq. The US footprint in the Sahel, which enables a French-led counterterrorism mission, may be removed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also challenged extant counterterrorism missions. The downsizing of counterterrorism missions is pulling already limited support from local forces and governments that are responsible for detainees and lack sufficient long-term detention infrastructure and effective de-radicalization programs.

The US-Taliban deal set conditions for several thousand Taliban fighters to return to the battlefield. In February 2020, the US and Taliban signed an agreement setting conditions for ending the war in Afghanistan and guaranteeing a US drawdown by May 2021. The Afghan government agreed to release 5,000 Taliban members in Afghanistan in exchange for 1,000 government-affiliated detainees during the US-Afghan peace negotiations. The Afghan government released most of the promised Taliban-affiliated detainees, including 400 convicted of serious violent crimes, by August 2020. The Taliban guaranteed that released detainees will abide by the terms of the US-Taliban agreement and support an intra-Afghan cease-fire, but there is no mechanism for the US or the Afghan government to enforce that guarantee. The drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan creates an opportunity for the Taliban to expand and cement its political power just as these experienced fighters return to the battlefield.

The postcoup Malian government released prisoners to an al Qaeda–linked group in exchange for hostages. The Malian government released 180 prisoners to Jama’at Nusrat al Islam wa al Muslimeen (JNIM) on October 8 in exchange for four high-profile hostages. The prisoners released were not exclusively JNIM militants and included other combatants in Mali’s complicated insurgency.

JNIM’s strategy includes forging alliances with nonideologically aligned groups to achieve its ends; securing the release of such groups’ members will raise JNIM’s profile and increase the likelihood of cooperation. Creating alliances with these groups will provide protection and safe havens for JNIM militants. The release of JNIM militants will also strengthen the group directly.

The US-Taliban deal has influenced the handling of the Salafi-jihadi threat in Mali. Ousted Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita directly cited the US-Taliban deal in Afghanistan as a justification for negotiating with JNIM. Other international arbitrators, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres and an African Union commissioner, encouraged negotiations with Salafi-jihadi groups in the Sahel region after the JNIM prisoner exchange, citing the Afghan deal as a successful precedent.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) accelerated releases of former ISIS fighters and their families without de-radicalization and reintegration. ISIS has exploited the poor conditions of Northeast Syria’s overcrowded internally displaced person (IDP) camps and detention centers, encouraging *attacks and riots since the fall of ISIS’s territorial caliphate in Syria in March 2019. On October 4, the US-backed SDF announced it would release all 25,000 Syrian IDPs from the al Hol camp upon the IDPs’ request, rather than under previous tribal guarantees to prevent ISIS recidivism. The SDF announced a general amnesty for petty criminals and ”low-level” *ISIS affiliates on October 14 and released more than 600 detainees on October 15 and *another 515 IDPs on November 16, explicitly outside the framework of tribal guarantees.

ISIS will pressure released fighters and families to rejoin ISIS's anti-SDF insurgency. The SDF does not have the capacity to de-radicalize and reintegrate detainees or IDPs while combating a mounting ISIS insurgency. The SDF may instead shift its focus to protecting communities without ISIS presence, rendering communities with returnees more isolated and vulnerable to ISIS and pro-regime intimidation.

The Islamic State has focused on freeing fighters from detention facilities around the world through bargains, bribes, and prison breaks concurrent with recent detainee releases. Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) attacked the Nangarhar central prison in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on August 2, freeing over 50 detainees and providing a propaganda coup. Islamic State spokesperson Abu Hamza al Quraishi called for fighters to “break the walls” of detention centers to free fellow Islamic State members in an October 18 speech that referenced the Jalalabad prison break. The Islamic State conducted a major raid on the Kangbayi prison in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on October 20, freeing 900 detainees, in response to Quraishi’s “call.”

The Islamic State also released an editorial announcement in its weekly Naba magazine on August 6 encouraging Islamic State members to bribe or bargain with local governments to escape detention centers, prioritizing escape despite the organization’s aversion to working with local governments. The Islamic State will likely continue encouraging prison breaks and smaller-scale escapes on detention facilities in the coming months.

Why it matters:

Experienced Salafi-jihadi fighters returning to the battlefield will reinvigorate insurgent organizations poised for breakout. Al Qaeda in Iraq, later ISIS, set the precedent for this style of resurgence in its “Breaking the Walls” prison breaks campaign in 2012 and 2013, following the American withdrawal from Iraq. The breaking the walls campaign freed approximately 600 veteran ISIS fighters over nine months; recent releases in Afghanistan and Syria have greatly exceeded that campaign in scale and pace. Released fighters were radicalized while in prison and used their battlefield expertise to bolster their organization’s command and control networks.

Fighters released in the Taliban and JNIM prisoner exchanges are likewise battle-hardened veterans. Onetime Taliban-affiliated fighters may have been recruited to Salafi-jihadi groups, including al Qaeda and ISKP, while in prison. Malian prisons similarly serve as hotbeds for radicalization. In Syria, returning ISIS-affiliated families may also carry forward the group’s governance vision by replicating the religious law enforcement they maintained in IDP camps in their home communities. Detainee releases and escapes will exacerbate the effects of current drawdowns in counterterrorism missions to empower surging extremist groups globally.

 

Monday, November 30, 2020

Putin Will Likely Punish Kyiv for Not Holding Elections in Russian-controlled Eastern Ukraine

 November 30, 2020

By George Barros with Joseph Kyle

Key Takeaway: Ukraine conducted countrywide local elections for the first time since 2015 on October 25, 2020. Zelensky’s Servant of the People (SoP) Party’s performed poorly—in part due to reinvigorated Kremlin military, diplomatic, and informational pressure campaigns targeting Zelensky. The Kremlin intensified these campaigns in fall 2020 after Zelensky rejected holding local elections in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine. The Kremlin will likely exploit SoP’s poor electoral performance to impair Zelensky’s reelection campaign in 2024. Zelensky is more vulnerable to Russian pressure and subversion following the October 25 elections. Ukraine backslid on a key anti-corruption reform, a development that could undermine Ukraine’s efforts to become a liberal democracy and join Western structures. Kremlin pressure is likely compelling Ukraine to disengage from positions close to the frontline in Donbas. The Kremlin may escalate its military pressure campaign against Ukraine in the winter of 2020-2021.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky resisted intensified Russian pressure to hold regular Ukrainian elections in Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine in October. The Kremlin tried to coerce Ukraine to include occupied Donbas in Ukraine’s nationwide local elections on October 25, 2020. Kyiv’s inclusion of Russian-controlled Donbas in Ukrainian elections would have undermined Ukraine’s sovereignty, legitimized Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, and increased Kremlin control over Kyiv’s decision making.

Russian President Vladimir Putin punished Zelensky for refusing to conduct elections in Russian-controlled Donbas. The Kremlin conducted a coordinated pressure campaign against Ukraine before the elections to impair Zelensky’s Servant of the People (SoP) party’s electoral performance by intensifying ongoing Russian military, diplomatic, and information campaigns.

The Kremlin increased military and diplomatic pressure against Ukraine in late summer 2020—after Zelensky took Donbas elections off the table.[1] Ukraine’s parliament passed a resolution on July 15, 2020, against holding elections in occupied Donbas.[2] The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs resumed accusing Ukraine of undermining the ceasefire in Donbas in August.[3] A Kremlin-controlled proxy in Donbas accused Ukraine of undermining the ceasefire on September 5 and killed a Ukrainian soldier on September 6—the first Ukrainian serviceman combat death since July 21.[4] The Kremlin’s proxies backtracked on a prisoner exchange on September 14 by making it conditional on Donbas participating in October elections.[5] Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov canceled his participation in agreed-upon peace talks in September.[6]

The Kremlin’s recent pattern of behavior is consistent with the Kremlin’s history of using peace talks, prisoner exchanges, and strategic de-escalation and escalation in its pressure campaigns to force key Ukrainian political concessions.[7] The Kremlin still seeks local elections in Donbas, possibly as soon as March 2021.[8]

The Kremlin used an information operation exploiting COVID-19 to increase support for Ukraine’s pro-Russian opposition party in the run-up to the elections. Ukraine’s principal pro-Russian politician— Viktor Medvedchuk, a key Putin ally in Ukraine—linked the election of the pro-Russian opposition party with quick access to a viable COVID-19 vaccine.[9] Putin met Medvedchuk on October 6 and claimed that Kyiv's current leadership is undermining the possibility of the Kremlin distributing the Russian COVID-19 vaccine in Ukraine.[10] Medvedchuk also used his media holdings in Ukraine before the fall 2020 elections during fall to promote disinformation claiming EU vaccine tests for Ukrainian citizens could be unsafe.[11]

The Kremlin intensified information operations aimed at degrading support for Zelensky and his SoP Party. Medvedchuk reinvigorated efforts to accuse Zelensky of failing to end the war in Donbas, one of Zelensky’s key 2019 election promises, in fall 2020.[12] Kremlin and pro-Russian Ukrainian media exploited the optics of the deteriorating ceasefire in Donbas and the canceled prisoner swap to enhance these efforts. These campaigns—along with Zelensky’s own scandals and reform backsliding—likely suppressed Ukrainian turnout, which dropped significantly since the last local elections in 2015.[13]

This shift in tone marks a significant change in the way the Kremlin initially framed Zelensky. These observed information tactics and attack patterns targeting the incumbent political force in Ukraine’s 2020 local elections are consistent with previous Kremlin influence campaigns in Ukraine.[14] The Kremlin initially helped elect Zelensky by attacking then-incumbent President Petro Poroshenko while framing Zelensky’s candidacy with reserved optimism during the spring 2019 Ukrainian presidential election, for example.

SoP performed poorly in the October 25, 2020, local elections. Mayoral and local legislatures positions were up for reelection for the first time since 2015. SoP received approximately 17.6 percent of the national vote and did not win any major mayoral positions.[15] This is a significant decrease in SoP’s performance compared to its performance in 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections, and a major blow to Zelensky’s image as a popular leader.[16] Zelensky won 73.22 percent of the national vote in the April 2019 Ukrainian presidential election.[17] His SoP party won 43.16 percent of the national vote and 57.77 percent of single-member districts in July 2019 snap parliamentary elections—an unprecedented supermajority.[18] SoP technically gained regional council seats in the October 2020 elections from a baseline of zero seats, since SoP did not exist in 2015, but the dramatic drop in vote percentages made those apparent gains a defeat in reality.



Above: Zelensky performed extremely well in Ukraine’s April 2019 presidential election. His party performed poorly in October 2020 local elections relative to this baseline.

Below: These two maps illustrate the performance decrease SoP suffered since its 2019 debut and the increased marginalization of explicitly pro-Western reformist parties that came to power after the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution.

 



Zelensky is likely more vulnerable to Russian pressure and subversion following the October 25 elections.  The Kremlin has likely gained leverage and flexibility to intensify political pressure and subversion campaigns now that the local elections are effectively over.[19] More overt Russian subversion efforts would have likely undermined Kremlin efforts to promote pro-Russian political forces in the run-up to the elections, although the explicitly pro-Russia For Life party performed poorly regardless. The Kremlin no longer faces this constraint in the short-term. The Kremlin likely seeks to use the new political status quo to further marginalize more explicitly pro-Western reformist parties that came to power after the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution.[20]

Ukraine backslid on a major anticorruption reform after the elections. Ukraine’s supreme court equivalent effectively eliminated the country’s electronic declaration system for monitoring government officials’ assets—a major anticorruption reform necessary for Ukraine’s continued cooperation with the International Monetary Fund and European Union (EU)—on October 27, 2020.[21] This development advances Putin’s campaign to undermine Ukraine’s efforts to reform to join Western structures, such as the EU and NATO.[22] Russian influence in Ukraine likely played a role in subverting this key reform.[23] Zelensky seeks to overturn the court’s decision, but it is a major Kremlin victory that this backsliding occurred in the first place.[24]

Forecast:

The Kremlin may escalate its military pressure campaign in Donbas during the winter of 2020 and into early 2021. Ukraine is preparing to withdraw more forces from portions of the Donbas frontline as part of the Kremlin’s preferred peace process.[25] The Kremlin’s proxies in Donbas abused a similar November 2019 Ukrainian withdrawal by conducting a false-flag attack in the disengagement zone in January 2020.[26] Ukrainian military intelligence reported numerous indicators of Russian escalation in Donbas on October 27.[27] The Kremlin likely has increased flexibility to intensify the war in Donbas now that it maximized its gains in local elections.

The Kremlin will likely exploit SoP’s poor performance to impair Zelensky’s reelection in 2024. The Kremlin will likely exploit the optics of Zelensky’s poor electoral performance to amply impressions that SoP’s overall influence is decreasing. The Kremlin will likely amply this narrative to pressure Zelensky for concessions and make his reelection as difficult as possible, similarly to how Kremlin information operations targeted former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s reelection campaign in 2019.[28] The Kremlin’s intensified information campaign against Zelensky will likely coincide with escalating Russian economic, military, and diplomatic pressure campaigns against Ukraine.

The Kremlin will likely attempt to co-opt Ukraine’s regional strongmen. Ukraine’s decentralization reforms have helped incumbent regional strongmen perform well in local elections.[29] The Kremlin will likely attempt to co-opt regional strongmen—such as Odesa’s and Kharkiv’s mayors—as part of the Kremlin’s larger subversion efforts in Ukraine.[30] 

 


[1] George Barros, Nataliya Bugayova, and Mason Clark, “Russia in Review: Kremlin Escalates in Ukraine While Playing Peacemaker,” Institute for the Study of War, June 1, 2020, https://www.iswresearch.org/2020/06/russia-in-review-kremlin-pressure-on.html.

[2] “Ukraine’s Parliament Approves Date for Local Elections,” Unian, July 15, 2020, https://www.unian dot info/politics/local-elections-ukraine-s-parliament-approves-date-for-polls-11075672.html.

[3] [“Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE A.K. Lukashevich at a Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the Situation in Ukraine and the Need to Implement the Minsk Agreements, Vienna, September 3, 2020”], Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, September 3, 2020, https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/ua/-/asset_publisher/ktn0ZLTvbbS3/content/id/4309811; [“Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE A.K. Lukashevich at a Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the Situation in Ukraine and the Need to Implement the Minsk Agreements, Vienna, September 17, 2020”], Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, September 19, 2020, https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/ua/-/asset_publisher/ktn0ZLTvbbS3/content/id/4341548.

[4] “’DNR’ Occupiers Announce Date Transfer of Attack on Joint Forces Positions on September 9,” Ostro, September 7, 20202, https://www.ostro dot info/news/5782/; “UNIAN: Russia-Backed Seperatists Threaten to Open Fire on Ukrainian Positions in Donbas,” Kyiv Post, September 6, 2020, https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/unian-russia-backed-separatists-threatens-to-open-fire-on-ukrainian-positions-in-donbas.html; Illia Ponomarenko, “Amid Longest Ceasefire, Ukrainian Soldier Killed in Action in Donbas,” Kyiv Post, September 7, 2020, https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/amid-longest-ceasefire-ukrainian-soldier-killed-in-action-in-donbas.html; [“Daily Report No. 186/2020 Issued by the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) on 6 August 2020,” Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe, August 6, 2020, https://www.osce.org/ru/special-monitoring-mission-to-ukraine/459364; https://novynarnia dot com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/tajmlajn-vtrat-veresen-2020-scaled.jpg; Facebook Post, Joint Forces Operation, September 6, 2019,  https://www.facebook.com/pressjfo.news/photos/a.364697644022858/941355359690414/?type=3&__xts__[“0”]=68.ARARXT_3ZoUkLzD6kvQnEqhaUSsKqC44-i4HnKWMudpDsrUm4Inr87aT83m_MyJFxDJ7quEAen03XqKG7HfXagP-SwsKzM9d44G-rr_7K-_f04M4DNoM4oegEKec-GuWv4VfhEQ8mCWckYQDHJoS2TWq98Rx7d29JQOv8wpTvoM8V3z8cc2nHsqB4aGTIPehDO2PB4lhnRUerOv7aGZ0A2YLIANDHa5HOWYqWoG2yPIc_blPC5cItZB-4d9jgzj4UquoLUntgZBcd3axFtf46rFWuVdTfyGivMk9u36rR3iRq2wbiFrqCUy-70MjTA6UQi2WfLFLVMCob4Ec6aFbRn8.

[5] [“Exchange of Detainees is Expected in Ukraine in the Coming Weeks – Ermak”], Gordonua, August 7, 20202, https://gordonua dot com/news/war/zhdem-obmena-plennymi-v-techenie-blizhayshih-nedel-ermak-1512700.html; [“Exchange of Prisoners: Terrorists “DPR” Put Forward a New Condition for Kiev”], Weekly Mirror, September 14, 2020, https://zn dot ua/POLITICS/obmen-plennymi-terroristy-dnr-vydvinuli-kievu-novoe-uslovie.html.

[6] “Fake: Normandy Format Meeting Canceled as Ukraine Unable to Keep Its Word,” Stop Fake, September 2020, https://www.stopfake dot org/en/fake-normandy-format-meeting-canceled-as-ukraine-unable-to-keep-its-word/; [“Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Remarks and Answers to Media Questions at a News Conference Following a Video Conference of the BRICS Foreign Ministers, Moscow, September 4, 2020”], Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, September 4, 2020, https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/ua/-/asset_publisher/ktn0ZLTvbbS3/content/id/4318038; [“Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Remarks and Answers to Media Questions at a News Conference Following a Video Conference of the BRICS Foreign Ministers, Moscow, September 4, 2020”], Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, September 4, 2020, https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/ua/-/asset_publisher/ktn0ZLTvbbS3/content/id/4318038.

[7] “Russia in Review: The Kremlin’s Fake De-Escalation in the Donbas,” Institute for the Study of War, February 24, 2020, http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia-review-kremlins-fake-de-escalation-donbas; Nataliya Bugayova and George Barros, “The Perils of Talks on Russia’s War in Ukraine,” Institute for the Study of War, December 7, 2019, http://www.iswresearch.org/2019/12/the-perils-of-talks-on-russias-war-in.html.

[8] [“Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry Reveals Term for Holding of Elections in Occupied Donbas”], 112 Ukraine, November 5, 2020, https://112 dot international/conflict-in-eastern-ukraine/ukraines-foreign-ministry-reveals-term-for-holding-of-elections-in-occupied-donbas-56234.html.

[9] [“Medvedchuk: Ukraine will not Receive a European Vaccine Before 500 million EU residents”], 112 Ukraine, October 16, 2020, https://video.112 dot ua/medvedchuk-ukraina-ne-poluchit-evropeyskuyu-vakcinu-ranshe-500-millionov-zhiteley-evrosoyuza-334202.html; [“Medvedchuk on Testing  European Vaccine on Ukrainians: Why our People Should Participate in Some Experiments”], 112 Ukraine, October 16, 2020, https://112 dot ua/obshchestvo/medvedchuk-o-provedenii-ispytaniy-evropeyskoy-vakciny-na-ukraincah-pochemu-nashi-lyudi-dolzhny-uchastvovat-v-kakih-to-opytah-553799.html; “Kiev is not Ready for Similar Response to Russia’s Partial Lifting of Sanctions: Expert,” TASS, October 15, 2020, https://tass dot com/world/1212709.

[10] [“Meeting with Viktor Medvedchuk”], President of Russia, October 6, 2020, http://kremlin dot ru/events/president/news/64165.

[11] [“Medvedchuk: Ukraine will not Receive a European Vaccine Before 500 million EU residents”], 112 Ukraine, October 16, 2020, https://video.112 dot ua/medvedchuk-ukraina-ne-poluchit-evropeyskuyu-vakcinu-ranshe-500-millionov-zhiteley-evrosoyuza-334202.html; [“Medvedchuk on Testing  European Vaccine on Ukrainians: Why our People Should Participate in Some Experiments”], 112 Ukraine, October 16, 2020, https://112 dot ua/obshchestvo/medvedchuk-o-provedenii-ispytaniy-evropeyskoy-vakciny-na-ukraincah-pochemu-nashi-lyudi-dolzhny-uchastvovat-v-kakih-to-opytah-553799.html; “Kiev is not Ready for Similar Response to Russia’s Partial Lifting of Sanctions: Expert,” TASS, October 15, 2020, https://tass dot com/world/1212709.

[12] [“Kravchuk Announced the Impossibility of Fulfilling the Minsk Agreements”], RIA Novosti, September 11, 2020, https://ria dot ru/20200911/donbass-1577116422.html; [“Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Interview to the Trud Newspaper, Published on August 21, 2020”], Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, August 21, 2020, https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/ua/-/asset_publisher/ktn0ZLTvbbS3/content/id/4293771; [“Statement by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the OSCE A.K. Lukashevich at a Meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the Situation in Ukraine and the Need to Implement the Minsk Agreements, Vienna, 23 July 2020”], Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, July 24, 2020, https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/ua/-/asset_publisher/ktn0ZLTvbbS3/content/id/4253600; [“Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s Interview with RTVI TV Channel, Moscow, September 17, 2020”], Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, September 17, 2020, https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/ua/-/asset_publisher/ktn0ZLTvbbS3/content/id/4340741; [“Medvedchuk: Zelensky and his Entourage have no Chance of Achieving Peace in Donbas”], 112 Ukraine, September 16, 2020, https://112 dot ua/politika/medvedchuk-u-zelenskogo-i-ego-okruzheniya-net-shansov-na-dostizhenie-mira-na-donbasse-550046.html.

[13] Turnout in 2020 was very low at 37%. It was 47% in 2015 and 50% in 2020. [“Voter Turnout was about 37% - CEC”], Pravda, October 25, 2020, https://www.pravda dot com.ua/rus/news/2020/10/25/7271179/; [“The Party of Regions is Leading the Elections”], British Broadcasting Channel, November 1, 2020, https://www.bbc.com/ukrainian/news/2010/11/101101_elex_morning_is; [“CEC: The Turnout in Local Elections in Ukraine was More than 46%, the Largest -in the west, the smallest – in the Donbas”], Interfax, October 26, 2015, https://interfax dot com.ua/news/general/299004.html; Adrian Karatnycky, “Zelenskyy’s Old New Faces,” Atlantic Council, August 11, 2020, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/zelenskyys-old-new-faces/; Katya Gorchinskaya, “A Brief History of Corruption in Ukraine: The Dawn of the Zelensky Era,” Eurasianet, June 17, 2020, https://eurasianet dot org/a-brief-history-of-corruption-in-ukraine-the-dawn-of-the-zelensky-era; Ilya Timtchenko, “Which Way Will Ukraine Swing?,” Foreign Policy, May 20, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/05/20/ukraine-zelensky-corruption-russia-european-union/; Roman Olearchyk and Ben Hall, “Foreign Backers Urge Ukraine to Stand Firm on Corruption,” Financial Times, July 2, 2020, https://www.ft.com/content/683d7d83-0901-4c66-9256-9e6dd03268b7; [“Kuzmin: Corruption Scandal with Venediktova Could be the Beginning of Zelensky’s Impeachment”], 112 Ukraine, September 23, 2020, https://112 dot ua/mnenie/kuzmin-korrupcionnyy-skandal-s-venediktovoy-mozhet-stat-nachalom-impichmenta-zelenskogo-551004.html; [“The Maintenance of the State Dacha in Koncha-Zaspa, where Zelensky Moved, will cost the Budget UAH 3.5 Million – OP”], New Time, August 13, 2020, https://nv dot ua/ukraine/politics/dacha-zelenskogo-v-koncha-zaspe-na-soderzhanie-dachi-potratyat-3-5-mln-grn-op-novosti-ukrainy-50105852.html; [“The Dacha. Zelensky Uses State Dacha in Koncha-Zaspa. Schemes #266”], Radio Free Europe/Radio Libery, July 13, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe9oFpSVFAY&ab_channel=%D0%A0%D0%B0%D0%B4%D1%96%D0%BE%D0%A1%D0%B2%D0%BE%D0%B1%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B0.

[14] “Russia in Review: The Kremlin’s Fake De-Escalation in Donbas,
Institute for the Study of War, February 24, 2020, http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia-review-kremlins-fake-de-escalation-donbas.

[15] [“Representatives of the “Servant of the People” received the largest number of seats in the local elections – CEC”], Gordonua, November 19, 2020, https://gordonua dot com/news/politics/na-mestnyh-vyborah-naibolshee-kolichestvo-mandatov-poluchili-predstaviteli-slugi-naroda-cik-1528016.html.

[16] SoP’s performance is a key indicator of Zelensky’s domestic political support. [“Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine”], Central Election Commission, https://www.cvk dot gov dot ua/pls/vnd2019/wp300pt001f01=919.html; [“254 Deputies from the “Servant of the People”, 124 from all Other Parties and 46 Self-Nominated Candidates Pass to the Rada – CEC”], Interfax, July 26, 2019, https://interfax.com dot ua/news/political/603773.html; [“Elected Deputies of Local Councils”], Central Election Commission, https://www.cvk.gov dot ua/pls/vm2020/pvm002pt001f01=695pt00_t001f01=695.html.

[17] “Ukraine Election:” Comedian Zelensky Wins Presidency by Landslide,” BBC, April 22, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48007487.

[18] [“Results by Multi-Member Districts,“] Central Electoral Commission, accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.cvk.gov dot ua/pls/vnd2019/wp300pt001f01=919.html; [“Elections of the President of Ukraine 2019”], Central Election Commission, https://www.cvk dot gov dot ua/pls/vp2019/wp300pt001f01=720.html; [“Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine”], Central Election Commission, https://www.cvk dot gov dot ua/pls/vnd2019/wp300pt001f01=919.html; [“254 Deputies from the “Servant of the People”, 124 from all Other Parties and 46 Self-Nominated Candidates Pass to the Rada – CEC”], Interfax, July 26, 2019, https://interfax.com dot ua/news/political/603773.html.

[19] Some localities are still conducting special run offs in races in which a mayoral candidate did not win more than 50 percent of the vote. Kherson Oblast’s elections will likely have to be recounted or redone in some capacity given election authorities declared their results invalid due to election fraud. [“Elections for the Kherson Regional Council: A Court Ordered to Recount Votes in 32 Precincts,”] Ukrinform, November 11, 2020, https://www.ukrinform dot ru/rubric-elections/3132087-vybory-v-hersonskij-oblsovet-sud-obazal-perescitat-golosa-na-32-ucastkah.html.

[20] E.g. The European Solidarity Party and Holos Party.

[21] Roman Olearchyk, “Ukraine Court Strikes Blow to Anti-Corruption Efforts,” Financial Times, October 28, 2020, https://www.ft.com/content/1567e6e5-247f-42c8-aedb-97c8d36ec653; Basil A. Kalymon and Oleh Havrylyshyn, “How Ukraine Can Use E-Declarations to Target the Most Corrupt,” Atlantic Council, November 21, 2016, https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/how-ukraine-can-use-e-declarations-to-target-the-most-corrupt/.

[22] [“TV Wool is Getting Bigger. How Medvedchuk and Co. Launched Another Channel”], Censor, August 11, 2020, https://censor dot net/ru/video_news/3213069/tvvaty_stanovitsya_bolshe_kak_medvedchuk_i_ko_zapustili_ocherednoyi_kanal_video.

[23] Medvedchuk submitted a request to Ukraine’s Constitutional Court to challenge Ukraine’s major anticorruption reforms in August. [“Who are These People. Full list of 47 People’s Deputies, at Whose Request the Constitutional Court Adopted a Scandalous Decision on Declarations”], New Time, October 29, 2020, https://nv dot ua/ukraine/politics/47-deputatov-verhovnoy-rady-ukrainy-kotorye-podali-v-ksu-delo-o-deklarirovanii-spisok-50120798.html?fbclid=IwAR3rxp_7jTDQy4QkM7xmkDOSR78Hvk6k-sKe6LCS0kUu8CHY6mt0paFdcE8; Facebook Post, Schemes: Corruption in Detail – RFERL, October 28, 2020, https://www.facebook.com/1014410855259363/posts/3752592144774540/?d=n.

[24] Anna Myroniuk, “Zelensky Convenes National Security Council over Threat to Anti-Corruption Institutions,” Kyiv Post, October 29, 2020, https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/zelensky-convenes-national-security-council-over-threat-to-anti-corruption-institutions.html; Vladimir Shilov, [“Zelensky Demanded to Dismiss all Judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine”], Rossiyskaya Gazeta, October 30, 2020, https://rg dot ru/2020/10/30/zelenskij-potreboval-uvolit-vseh-sudej-konstitucionnogo-suda-ukrainy.html.

[25] [“Ukraine is Preparing a New Withdrawal of Troops in Donbas”], 112 Ukraine, October 16, 2020, https://112 dot ua/ato/ukraina-gotovit-novoe-razvedenie-voysk-na-donbasse-553845.html; Victor Pichugin, “TCG Agreed on New Points of Withdrawal of Troops in Donbas,” Nakipelo, November 4, 2020, https://nakipelo dot ua/tkg-soglasovala-novye-tochki-razvedeniya-vojsk-na-donbasse/.

[26] “Russia in Review: The Kremlin’s Fake De-Escalation in Donbas,
Institute for the Study of War, February 24, 2020, http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia-review-kremlins-fake-de-escalation-donbas; [“Timeline of Ukraine Army Losses: 5 Killed in September After the Longest Period of “Silence”], Novynarnia, October 1, 2020, https://novynarnia dot com/2020/10/01/timeline-september/

[27] [“Summary of the Press Service of the Ministry of the Defense of Ukraine on the Situation in the Area of the Joint Forces Operation”], Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, October 27, 2020, https://www.mil.gov dot ua/news/2020/10/27/zvedennya-pressluzhbi-minoboroni-ukraini-shhodo-obstanovki-v-rajoni-provedennya-operaczii-obednanih-sil/.

[28] [“Poroshenko said that Ukraine Cannot End the War”] Regnum, February 17, 2019, https://regnum dot ru/news/2574414.html; [“Poroshenko Again Warned of a Possible War with Russia”], Lenta, February 21, 2019, https://lenta dot ru/news/2019/02/21/porosh/; [“Lies and Inefficiency: Poroshenko Recalled Failure to Fulfill Election Promises”], Actual Comments, January 20, 2019, https://actualcomment dot ru/lozh-i-neeffektivnost-poroshenko-pripomnili-nevypolnenie-predvybornykh-obeshchaniy-1901301339.html; [“Poroshenko is Fighting Against Zelensky Under the Slogan “Either I, or Putin“], TASS, April 9, 2019, https://tass dot ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/6314396; Alexander Sharkovsky, [“Ukraine is Again Talking About a War with Russia”], Nezavisimaya Gazeta, March 18, 2019, https://www.ng dot ru/armies/2019-03-18/100_20071803_ukr.html; [“Cash in on the War”: Poroshenko’s Income Grew 95 times in one Year”], Tsar Guard, April 1, 2019,  https://tsargrad dot tv/news/nazhilsja-na-vojne-dohody-poroshenko-za-odin-god-vyrosli-v-95-raz_192134

[29] “Local Elections, National Implications: Ukraine at the Ballot Box,” Atlantic Council, October 27, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O-MhUVbanxo&ab_channel=AtlanticCouncil; [“Ukraine, Chernihiv Regional Council”], Central Election Commission, accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.cvk.gov dot ua/pls/vm2020/pvm057pid112=12pid102=4847pf7691=4847pt001f01=695rej=0pt00_t001f01=695.html; [“Ukraine, Odessa Regional Council”], Central Election Commission, accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.cvk.gov dot ua/pls/vm2020/pvm057pid112=12pid102=9473pf7691=9473pt001f01=695rej=0pt00_t001f01=695.html; [“Ukraine, Kharkiv Regional Council”], Central Election Commission, accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.cvk.gov dot ua/pls/vm2020/pvm057pid112=12pid102=5441pf7691=5441pt001f01=695rej=0pt00_t001f01=695.html.

[30] “A tour of Odesa’s corrupt underbelly,” Kyiv Post YouTube Channel, December 20, 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdMiwWZP9OY&ab_channel=KyivPost; Oleg Sukhov, “Odesa Mob Rule: Leaders in Black Sea Port Have Unchecked Powers,” Kyiv Post, August 17, 2018, https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/leaders-in-black-sea-port-of-odesa-have-unchecked-powers.html; Tom Burridge, “Ukraine Politicians' Huge Cash Piles Exposed in Reform Drive,” BBC, October 28, 2016, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37785741; Oleg Sukhov, “Kernes, Kharkiv Mayor, Escapes All Criminal Charges,” Kyiv Post, September 7, 2018, https://www.kyivpost.com/ukraine-politics/kernes-kharkiv-mayor-escapes-all-criminal-charges.html; Bohdan Ben, “Scandalous Ukrainian Mayors Prepare to Win. Again.” Euromaidan Press, September 21, 2020, http://euromaidanpress dot com/2020/09/21/this-is-why-ukrainians-will-vote-for-old-corrupt-mayors-despite-their-love-for-new-faces/; [“Ukraine, Chernihiv Regional Council,“] Central Election Commission, accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.cvk.gov dot ua/pls/vm2020/pvm057pid112=12pid102=4847pf7691=4847pt001f01=695rej=0pt00_t001f01=695.html; “[“Ukraine, Odesa Regional Council,“] Central Election Commission, accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.cvk.gov dot ua/pls/vm2020/pvm057pid112=12pid102=9473pf7691=9473pt001f01=695rej=0pt00_t001f01=695.html; “[“Ukraine, Kharkiv Regional Council,“] Central Election Commission, accessed November 20, 2020, https://www.cvk.gov dot ua/pls/vm2020/pvm057pid112=12pid102=5441pf7691=5441pt001f01=695rej=0pt00_t001f01=695.html.

 

 

 

Belarus Warning Update: NEXTA Intensifies Campaign to Develop Local Opposition Leadership in Minsk

November 30, 2020

By George Barros

The NEXTA Telegram channel likely launched a new campaign to spur the development of local opposition leadership in Belarus on November 20, 2020. NEXTA issued unprecedented directions for protesters to “build local connections” among their fellow protesters on November 20.[1] NEXTA instructed protesters in Minsk to gather in regional groups within their local neighborhoods for Sunday protests on November 22.[2] NEXTA called for these neighborhood-level groups to rendezvous with other local neighborhoods’ groups for larger localized marches in six larger protest areas in Minsk.[3] These six protest areas are all smaller than the single large protest location in downtown Minsk where the protesters historically congregated.

NEXTA’s campaign likely seeks to develop nascent opposition leadership networks at the neighborhood-level within the larger opposition movement. Protesters in Minsk historically have met downtown for the weekly Sunday protest in a single large mass – a protest format unconducive to protesters forming long-lasting relationships or networks. NEXTA is promoting the new protest format likely to develop such intra-opposition connections. NEXTA explicitly said the Lukashenko regime is trying to “return to an atomized society where there are no [civil society] associations, solidarity, [or protests].”[4] NEXTA’s effort to encourage local leadership likely seeks to counteract Lukashenko’s efforts to morselize the opposition.

The opposition likely has not developed effective local leadership as of this writing. The emergence of local leadership will likely increase the sustainability of the protest movement to supplement NEXTA’s control of protester movements.[5]

Protesters changed their tactics in accordance with NEXTA’s new directions on November 22 and 29. Thousands of protesters marched in a dispersed manner throughout Minsk’s neighborhoods for the first time on November 22.[6] Protesters repeated these tactics on November 29 after NEXTA released expanded directions for neighborhood-level protests in major Belarusian cities—Minsk, Brest, Grodno, Vitebsk, and Mogilev—on November 29.[7]

These new tactics are stretching Belarusian security forces’ bandwidth. Belarusian police crackdowns on November 22 and 29 were significantly less effective than similar crackdowns before the protesters adopted dispersion tactics. Police arrested at least 389 protesters in Belarus on November 22—a significant decrease from November 15 Sunday protests in which 1290 were detained.[8] Police detained at least 415 protesters on November 29.[9] Dispersed protests require the police to cover more ground outside of Minsk’s main downtown area—an area police have developed proficiency in controlling.

Minsk police announced plans to introduce increased patrolling in 43 residential areas on November 23.[10] These new patrols are likely the regime’s counteraction to deal with the protesters’ dispersion tactic.

These new tactics could be an opposition adaption to counter the protests’ decreasing participation. Protests participation decreased consistently through November. NEXTA’s directions to distribute a smaller number of protesters throughout a larger area in Minsk creates a perception that the protests are still “large” in that the protests occur throughout much of Minsk and its neighborhoods, not just in the main downtown area and in smaller numbers.

Protests tactics remain peaceful despite Lithuania-based opposition leader Svitlana Tikhanouskaya’s call to use force against the regime. Tikhanouskaya called on Belarusians to physically capture Lukashenko, regime officials, and security forces responsible for carrying out Lukashenko’s orders and promised amnesty for protesters who help capture these targets on November 13.[11] There is no evidence protesters have followed these directions as of this writing.

ISW will continue monitoring the situation and providing updates.

 


[1] https://t dot me/nexta_tv/9712

[2] https://t dot me/nexta_live/12232

[3] https://t dot me/nexta_live/12232

[4] https://t dot me/nexta_live/12225

[5] http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/belarus-warning-update-belarusian-protest-movement-likely-developing-local-organization

[6] https://www.dw dot com/ru/marsh-protiv-fashizma-demonstranty-pereshli-k-protestu-vo-dvorah/a-55693835

[7] https://twitter.com/HannaLiubakova/status/1332965552466370561; https://t dot me/nexta_live/12290; https://t dot me/nexta_live/12289

[8] http://spring96 dot org/be/news/100542

[9] http://spring96 dot org/be/news/100682

[10] https://budzma dot by/news/buduts-patrulyavats-43-dvary.html; https://minsk.gov dot by/ru/normdoc/4432/pril_3705_17112020.shtml

[11] http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/belarus-warning-update-belarusian-opposition-leader-directs-protesters-employ-force

 

Belarus Warning Update Putin Pressures Lukashenko to Implement His Previous Integration Concessions

November 30, 2020, 6:00 pm EDT

By George Barros

The Kremlin sent Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Minsk on November 26, 2020, likely to secure the implementation of Union State integration concessions that self-declared Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko made on September 14. Lukashenko reaffirmed his commitments to Moscow after Lavrov reminded him about his concessions to Russian President Vladimir Putin from their September 14 meeting in Sochi.[1] Lukashenko apparently agreed to a plan for coordinating Belarusian and Russian foreign policy and committed to the creation of a single market for natural gas.[2]

Lavrov intensified efforts to exploit Lukashenko’s constitutional amendment process, likely to formalize Belarusian integration with Russia via the Union State.[3] Lavrov reaffirmed Kremlin support for Belarusian constitutional reform to “modernize” Belarus’ political system on November 26.[4] The Kremlin may have sent Lavrov to Minsk at this time in part to shape Belarusian constitutional amendments Lukashenko is preparing.[5] Lukashenko reiterated his support for Belarusian constitutional amendments after meeting Lavrov.[6]

Lukashenko suggested he would relinquish power under a new constitution after meeting Lavrov. Lukashenko told Belarusians he would not work “as the president” under a new constitution on November 27.[7] Lukashenko also claimed he is not rigging the new constitution to benefit himself, indicating Lukashenko likely seeks to assure Belarusians and/or the Kremlin that the constitutional amendments will entail a real transfer of power.[8] Lukashenko reportedly said that he would not seek another presidential term and that he is considering introducing a constitutional amendment on presidential term limits on October 10.[9]

Lukashenko may not relinquish power even if he adopts a new constitution, however. Lukashenko importantly stated it is unacceptable to give a new Belarusian constitution to a president “unfamiliar” with governing Belarus on November 27.[10] This statement contradicts Lukashenko’s previous comments that he would not be president under a new constitution or seek re-election.[11] Lukashenko is likely obfuscating his plans for constitutional amendments and may seek to retain power. Lukashenko has demonstrated sophistication and skill in stonewalling major political concessions before and is likely doing so again.[12] 

Putin will likely pressure Belarus for economic integration concessions at an upcoming meeting on December 11, 2020.[13] Lukashenko said the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and Belarus agreed to “finally solve” the problem of a single market for natural gas at this upcoming meeting.[14] Belarusian Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said Belarus wants to expand cooperation on nuclear energy with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).[15] Both the EAEU and SCO are known vehicles the Kremlin uses to consolidate Russian control over former Soviet republics.[16] 

The Kremlin will prioritize integrating Belarus into Russia in 2021.

Putin will likely use Belarus’ upcoming 2021 chairmanship of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to further integrate Belarus into Russia. Lavrov and Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei signed an agreement on foreign policy coordination in 2021.[17] Lavrov said Belarus’ upcoming 2021 chairmanship of the CIS will advance Belarusian-Russian integration.[18] The CIS is a known vehicle for expanding Kremlin control over former Soviet republics.[19] The country-chair of the CIS changes annually and Belarus will assume that chairmanship on January 1, 2021. Belarus last chaired the CIS in 2014 and 2012.[20]

The Kremlin will likely exploit the crisis in Belarus in its bid to legitimize the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) as a United Nations (UN)-recognized peacekeeping force in 2021. Lavrov thanked the Belarusian Foreign Ministry for cooperation to develop the CSTO on November 26.[21] Lavrov explicitly said the Kremlin is prioritizing setting conditions to involve the CSTO in UN peacekeeping operations and to that end is actively adapting CSTO peacekeeping frameworks to align with the UN’s Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System.[22]

This stated effort aligns with the Kremlin’s assessed campaign to leverage the UN to justify Russia’s international military deployments—an important hybrid war capability the Kremlin is developing.[23] Western leaders should pressure the UN not to recognize the CSTO as a legitimate peacekeeping force.[24]

Lukashenko is leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to stall Union State integration. Golovchenko said Belarus would likely not be able to participate in a planned Union State Council of Ministers meeting in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic—an improbable reason given Belarusian authorities’ previous cavalier attitude to the pandemic and that such a meeting likely could be held virtually.[25]

ISW will continue monitoring the situation and providing updates.

 


[1] https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/by/-/asset_publisher/Uwp6wJEbzrL0/content/id/4460315; http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/belarus-warning-update-lukashenko-softens-his-opposition-protests-seeking-leverage; http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/belarus-warning-update-lukashenko-and-kremlin-vie-control-over-future-russian-weapons; https://www.gazeta dot ru/politics/2020/11/26_a_13375843.shtml

[2] https://www.belta dot by/politics/view/u-belarusi-i-rossii-polnostjju-sovpadaet-zainteresovannost-v-ukreplenii-otnoshenij-lavrov-417396-2020/; https://news.tut dot by/economics/709626.html?utm_campaign=recirculation_relap&utm_medium=main_news&utm_source=%7Bsource%7D&mainnews=;

[3] https://www.iswresearch.org/2020/10/belarus-warning-update-putin-seeks.html; https://www.iswresearch.org/2020/10/belarus-warning-update-putin-likely.html; https://www.iswresearch.org/2020/09/warning-lukashenko-deports-opposition.html; https://www.iswresearch.org/2020/09/warning-lukashenko-begins-targeting.html; https://www.iswresearch.org/2020/08/warning-kremlin-information-operations.html

[4] https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/by/-/asset_publisher/Uwp6wJEbzrL0/content/id/4460693

[5] https://www.iswresearch.org/2020/08/warning-kremlin-information-operations.html

[6] https://www.belta dot by/president/view/lukashenko-novaja-konstitutsija-dolzhna-byt-vygodnoj-dlja-strany-417645-2020/

[7] https://www.belta dot by/president/view/lukashenko-novaja-konstitutsija-dolzhna-byt-vygodnoj-dlja-strany-417645-2020/

[8] https://www.belta dot by/president/view/lukashenko-novaja-konstitutsija-dolzhna-byt-vygodnoj-dlja-strany-417645-2020/

[9] http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/belarus-warning-update-putin-likely-disrupts-lukashenko%E2%80%99s-plan-defusing-protests

[10] https://www.belta dot by/president/view/lukashenko-novaja-konstitutsija-dolzhna-byt-vygodnoj-dlja-strany-417645-2020/

[11] http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/belarus-warning-update-putin-likely-disrupts-lukashenko%E2%80%99s-plan-defusing-protests

[12] http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia-review-belarus-update-lukashenko-uses-oil-tariffs-delay-integration-russia

[13] https://www.belta dot by/president/view/lukashenko-vokrug-eaes-skladyvaetsja-ochen-serjeznaja-obstanovka-idet-ekonomicheskaja-vojna-417895-2020/

[14] https://news.tut dot by/economics/709626.html?utm_campaign=recirculation_relap&utm_medium=main_news&utm_source=%7Bsource%7D&mainnews=

[15] https://www.belta dot by/economics/view/belarus-zainteresovana-rasshirit-svoe-uchastie-v-rabote-energeticheskogo-kluba-shos-golovchenko-417942-2020/

[16] http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Putin%27s%20Offset%20The%20Kremlin%27s%20Geopolitical%20Adaptations%20Since%202014.pdf

[17] https://www.belta dot by/politics/view/u-belarusi-i-rossii-polnostjju-sovpadaet-zainteresovannost-v-ukreplenii-otnoshenij-lavrov-417396-2020/

[18] https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/by/-/asset_publisher/Uwp6wJEbzrL0/content/id/4460443; https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/by/-/asset_publisher/Uwp6wJEbzrL0/content/id/4460443

[19] http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Putin%27s%20Offset%20The%20Kremlin%27s%20Geopolitical%20Adaptations%20Since%202014.pdf

[20] http://www.cis.minsk dot by/reestr/ru/index.html#reestr/view/text?doc=4807; http://www.cis.minsk dot by/reestr/ru/index.html#reestr/view/text?doc=3617

[21] https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/by/-/asset_publisher/Uwp6wJEbzrL0/content/id/4460580

[22] https://www.mid dot ru/ru/maps/by/-/asset_publisher/Uwp6wJEbzrL0/content/id/4460580

[23] http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia-review-putins-%E2%80%9Cpeacekeepers%E2%80%9D-will-support-russian-wars; http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Russian%20Hybrid%20Warfare%20ISW%20Report%202020.pdf; http://www.understandingwar.org/sites/default/files/Putin%27s%20Offset%20The%20Kremlin%27s%20Geopolitical%20Adaptations%20Since%202014.pdf

[24] http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russia-review-putins-%E2%80%9Cpeacekeepers%E2%80%9D-will-support-russian-wars

[25] https://www.belta dot by/politics/view/golovchenko-i-rapota-obsudili-dalnejshee-vzaimodejstvie-v-sojuznom-gosudarstve-417392-2020/; https://www.belta dot by/politics/view/golovchenko-i-rapota-obsudili-dalnejshee-vzaimodejstvie-v-sojuznom-gosudarstve-417392-2020/