22 September, 2017

✔︎ How much of a ‘PsyOp impact' was the just-concluded Zapad 2017 military exercises on people in southern Eesti? Not much. I asked a journalist friend in Võru: Were people in Võrumaa talking about Zapad? Her answer was no. No talk about Zapad at all - people were talking about upcoming elections. Zapad was not on their minds.

✔︎ The final Zapad-2017 news list is at the end of this email.

✔︎ The New York Times Magazine, which comes out this weekend, has a story about how people around the world take vacations. The article features a suitsusaun (smoke sauna) in Võrumaa.


Friday 22. Sept.

- Estonia: Purification in the Smoke Sauna
How Do Families Around the World Spend Their Vacations?
(New York Times Magazine)
[Featuring the Mooska saun, located 14 km south of the town of Võru.]

- Suitsusaun on eluviis
(Eesti Loodus | teised)

- Tuleviku Linnahaalk | The future look of Tallinn’s Linnahall?
(YouTube | ERR)
[Tallinn unveiled a video on 6. September showing what the horribly dilapidated, graffiti-covered, and mostly abandoned Linnahall building and its surroundings could look like.]

- How Sweden is Balancing its Security in the Baltics
(Real Clear Defense)
"Sweden is currently conducting its largest military exercises in over twenty years. Almost 20,000 Swedish troops are participating in Aurora17, which will run until September 29. They are joined by military units from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Lithuania, Norway, and the United States, which has sent more than 1,000 troops, including a Patriot missile battery, helicopters, and a National Guard tank company.”
"Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the commanding general of the US Army Europe, described Gotland as a key location on his visit to the island in July. In an address to Swedish soldiers, Hodges said: “You have a strategically very important task here. I do not think there is any island anywhere that is more important.”

OpEd: The Kremlin’s Lack of Control Has Made Me Flee Russia
by Journalist Yulia Latynina
(The Moscow Times)

"When Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in 2006 we journalists understood this to be an exception — she had been investigating Chechnya. There were cases where people were poisoned, like Alexander Litvinenko, but we understood that he was a former KGB agent and Putin regarded him as a traitor. There were highly suspicious cases too: the death of Stephen Curtis during the Yukos trial, or the death of Alexander Perepilichny. The death of Sergei Yushenkov belonged to the category of freak accidents and if it said something about Russia, it was that unbelievable things happen."
"Those were deaths, killings, murders. But every time you could account for it and explain why it happened. Moreover, the authorities seemed unhappy about such incidents. When journalist Oleg Kashin was almost bludgeoned to death in 2010, Dmitry Medvedev spoke out. I became aware that the things that I had been saying were not welcomed by the Kremlin, to put it mildly, in 2008. I’d said some nasty things about Russia’s role in the war in Georgia, and accused the president of South Ossetia of being an agent provocateur."

"Then I started noticing I was being tailed …"


Thursday 21. Sept.

Fotod: Kadrioru valgusfestivali teine õhtu
"Juba teist päeva on üle terve Kadrioru pargi võimalik imetleda valgusinstallatsioone, sest toimub festival Valgus Kõnnib Kadriorus."

Lätlased käivad Eestis odavamat toitu ostmas
"Hinna pärast käivad lätlased eestist ostmas peamiselt piima ja piimatooteid, suhkrut, kohvi ja sügavkülmutatud toitu …"

- This Planned Electric Three-Wheeler Looks Fantastic, Has A Novel Solution For Charging
[and it’s an Estonian design]
"The team is made up of people from Estonian racing car companies like RSMotorsport and RaceTech, so there appears to at least be some practical experience behind these charming ideas. … Getting into the car business is tough no matter what, and who knows what will happen?”
"Best of luck, you crazy Estonians."


Wednesday 20. Sept.

Kaljulaid rääkis ÜRO-s maailma konfliktipiirkondadest
"President Kersti Kaljulaid pidas kolmapäeva varahommikul New Yorgis ÜRO Peaassamblee iga-aastasel avaistungil kõne, milles rääkis konfliktikolletest, rändekriisist, küberjulgeolekust ning vajadusest reformida ÜRO-d."

- Kaljulaid to UN General Assembly: Strong UN needed to address challenges

Transcript: Address by the President of the Republic of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid

- President Kaljulaid kohtus Donald Trumpiga

- NATO plaanib tugevdada Balti ja Poola lahingugruppe õhu- ja merejõududega
"NATO maaväe üksused on siin väga hästi ja kiiresti integreerunud, kuid peame neid tugevdama õhu- ja mereväe elementidega. See on meie järgmine väljakutse nii Baltikumis kui Poolas," ütles kindral (James) Everard Eestis, Lätis, Leedus ja Poolas paiknevatest NATO lahingugruppidest rääkides."

- NATO to strengthen Baltic region defense with air, naval forces

- How Estonia is leading the way to our digital future
“…  co-founder of TransferWise, Taavet Hinrikus, spoke to CNBC's Life Hacks Live about Estonia's digital future."


Tuesday 19. Sept.

- 'Eurokraavid': Sügavad eurokraavid panevad tee-ehitajad kukalt kratsima

- From Paul Goble’s 'Neglected Russian Stories'

“… And 13 more from countries in Russia’s neighborhood:"

8. ‘Don’t Call Us “Former Soviet Republics,’” Balts Say. 
The ambassadors of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Paris issued a joint statement saying that they should not be called “former Soviet republics” because in fact they were occupied countries that continued to be recognized as such internationally. That opened the way, however, for one Russian commentator to suggest that they were “not post-Soviet” but rather “Soviet” in their approach to many things.

9. Biggest Shock for Russian Visitors to Baltic Countries: Their Co-Ethnics Do the Dirty Work.
Russians often visit the three Baltic countries with varying reactions, but according to one Moscow journalist, what surprises them most is that in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, ethnic Russians do the hard and low-paid work that at home Central Asians and Caucasians do 

10. Moscow Recruits Smugglers to Penetrate Estonia.
Among the ways the Russia security services have of getting into the Baltic countries is to use Russian smugglers as a channel for their efforts to recruit Baltic citizens to work for Moscow.

Estonia one of the best countries to be a parent
(Estonian World)
"Estonia first for paid leave available to mothers …”
"Despite being one of the world’s most developed nations, the United States scored the worst of all the OECD countries. Its failure to provide any statutory paid leave to mothers or fathers, paired with the nation’s Fair Labour Standards Act – which does not require employers to pay workers for any annual leave whatsoever –means that, in terms of parents’ work-life balance, the US lags behind other established western powers.”

Finland’s Welfare State Has a Massive Baby Problem
"Finland has registered the lowest number of newborns in nearly 150 years. The birth rate has been falling steadily since the start of the decade, and there's little to suggest a reversal in the trend." 

- ‘For Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania Should Not Exist,’ Russian Expert on Baltic Region Says
(Window on Eurasia)

- 8 in 10 Estonian households have mobile internet connection


Monday 18. Sept.

Ajalugu: Võru tuletõrje saab 150 aastaseks
(Lõuna Leht)
"Aastal 1867 asutati Võrus vabatahtliku tuletõrje selts, (ja) 1884. aastal oli Võrus teadaolevalt 2697 elanikku, kellest 100 vabatahtlikku tuletõrjujat."

- Studies of ‘Crater Capital' in the Baltics show impactful history
(Science Daily)

Report: Lithuania put to the test by fears of separatism at borders
(Deutsche Welle)
"Lithuanian officials accuse the Russian-speaking minority on the country's border to Belarus of being susceptible to separatism. Military exercises where they live have stoked divisions …"

- From Poland to Lithuania: A Writer’s Search for Her Jewish Past
(New York Times)

Finland: President Niinistö poised for re-election landslide
"President Sauli Niinistö would gain 68 percent of the votes if the first round of the presidential election was held now, indicates a public opinion poll published by the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday."


- Russia -
"Trust No One"

- The Brutal Treatment of Women in Russian Prisons
"According to the latest official data, 617,191 people are currently housed in Russian prisons, penal colonies, penal settlements and pre-trial detention centers. Of this figure, 48,455 are women. 39,018 women are serving sentences in penal colonies, secure hospitals, and prevention-and-treatment facilities, while 9,437 are being remanded in pre-trial detention centers. Given that Russia’s merciless criminal courts acquitted just 0.36% in 2016, almost all of these women will most likely be found “guilty”."

- Russia's Electronic Warfare Capabilities to 2025
(International Centre for Defence and Security)
"NATO needs to plan, revise its scenarios, and train to conduct defensive and offensive operations in a fiercely contested EMS battlespace. In their current form, NATO plans to defend its Eastern Flank including the Baltic states might be inadequate as they do not take account of the full spectrum of Russia’s current and future EW capabilities and their uses—as part of A2/AD approach and beyond. NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence and further development of its posture in the Baltic area, which might possibly include assets for integrated air and missile defence in the future, will fail to deliver the desired outcome if the Alliance falls behind in the contest for EMS dominance."
PDF Report:

- A Baker’s Double Dozen of Neglected Russian Stories (#100!)
by Paul Goble
(Window on Eurasia)

- Putin has new ways to destabilise the West
by Edward Lucas
(The Times)

- Soviet air defense officer who saved the world in 1983 dies at age 77
"Soviet Colonel Stanislav Petrov … was in charge of Soviet nuclear early warning systems on the night of September 26, 1983, and decided not to retaliate when a false "missile attack" signal appeared to show a US nuclear launch. He is feted by nuclear activists as the man who "saved the world" by determining that the Soviet system had been spoofed by a reflection off the Earth.”
"Because the human in the loop was a thinking human—Stanislav Petrov—Andropov was never alerted, and there was no response to a falsely detected attack. And because of that, we are all still here today. Rest in peace."

- 'Just Doing His Job': Son Recalls Life Of Soviet Colonel Heralded For Averting Nuclear War

- Former president of Belarus: Lukashenko is Putin’s slave

- Moskvas arreteeriti soome ajakirjanik

- Only a quarter of Russians keep their savings in banks

Russiagate Dominoes Are Starting to Fall
(Rolling Stone)


- Zapad 2017-
The Final Listing

✔︎ After all the anxiety, Russia's Zapad exercise ends without provocation
(Stars and Stripes)
“As the drills ended, there was no sign of overt mischief by Russian forces mobilized for a week of exercises in Belarus and the Russian mainland.”
"Lukasz Kulesa, a security analyst with the European Leadership Network’s Warsaw office, said … “It’s not the biggest exercises in decades but definitely more than 12,700 soldiers announced.”

- Valgevene on hoidnud Zapadi osas madalat profiili
"Rahvusvahelise Kaitseuuringute Keskuse teadur Kalev Stoicescu ütles, et Valgevene on hoidnud Zapadi õppuste osas madalat profiili ning püüdnud mitte kaasa minna Venemaa eskalatsioonimänguga NATO suhtes."

- Russian officials tight-lipped on Zapad war games press tour
(Deutsche Welle)
"Russian officials left most questions unanswered."

- Zapad anti-air drill a budget battle
"The course of the battle is difficult to observe due to frequent five-minute breaks during which nothing happens. The announcer makes no comments during these breaks. The battle always continues unexpectedly when a new missile flies out from the forest. In the end, the anti-aircraft complexes pass by the spectators once more to disappear into the forest on the other side of the polygon."
"The announcer then says the battle is over and has been won by the coalition forces of Russia and Belarus. Disappointment shows on the faces of more than one journalist – that was it? The AA drill did not treat us to a massive battle involving thousands of troops."

- Belarus President: Zapad 2017 goals achieved
(Belarus News)
"According to the president, the main phase of the army exercise was held in six ranges and two sections of terrain in Belarus. The organization of territorial defense was practiced during the exercise."
“Everything was at a very high level. It was not a sham exercise. It was an absolutely practical exercise showing as everything will happen, God forbid, in reality,” he said."

- What can we learn from Russia's latest military exercise?

- Says Russian Troops Will Go Home After Zapad
“… remarks that appear aimed both to soothe the West and show Belarusians that there is no creeping Russian occupation."

- Putin väisas Eesti lähedal Zapadit

- The buzz about the Russian-Belarusian ‘Zapad 2017’ military exercises

- Zapad-2017 Anything But a Joint Russian-Belarusian Exercise, Arseniy Sinitsky Says
(Window on Eurasia)
"The director of the Minsk Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Research says that the current exercise, as few have noted, has a nuclear component in that Russian doctrine calls for Russian forces to use tactical nuclear weapons if they cannot stop an opponent by any other means.”
"That in turn means that Russian forces are in complete control of the exercise because under Russian law and doctrine only the Russian president can authorize the use of such weapons. Therefore, if these exercises are to be as close as possible to reality, they would have to function under a Russian chain of command, not some joint one."