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Opinion

The Other Side of Ukraine. News from Crimea

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Pro-Russian protesters wave Russian flags and hold a banner reading “Donetsk region is with Russia” during a rally in the industrial Ukrainian city of Donetsk on March 1, 2014 (AFP Photo / Alexander Khudoteply)

Every news has two sides, we at The World Reporter always tried to represent both sides of a news event. We all are seeing what is happening in Ukraine, but I decided to talk with East Ukrainians and people from Crimea and get the story out from the other side of the Ukraine, i.e news from Crimea. Before judging the neutrality of the article, please read other articles on our journal.

I have been covering Ukraine in our news opinion articles since the last week of November. Besides some pro government protests in Donetsk, I have not seen much activity in the east. Western media refused to show anything from East and Russian media was busy calling pro-European leaders evil. I avoided following western as well as Russian news, I only relied on talking to native Ukrainians. I have equal number of close friends from both sides of the country who provided me balanced information whenever I had a question.

Recently, I got a chance to talk to a friend of mine from Yalta (Crimea) and I asked her, if the people in East Ukraine do not support pro EU rallies then why do not they come out to protest and raise their voice in equally strong manner and give Yanukovich some moral support? Her quick answer made me think for a while. “If we will also come out on the streets then who will work in Ukraine?” Her words suggested that East Ukrainians are caring for Ukraine and working for its economy and peace.

Ukrainians taking refuge in Russia

Since the fall of Ukraine’s previous government, I have been thinking, is it democratic? Viktor Yanukovich was the elected president with the majority (more than 50%) to form the government. Considering the high profile pro EU wave, it is possible that probably 60% Ukrainians wanted EU association, but 40% did not want. See more accurate numbers here.

In US, India or any other democratic country it does not matter which party comes to the power, people remain in the country, they do not leave their hopes and most importantly, they do not feel threatened.

In Ukraine, it is not the case. Probably majority of the people did achieve what they wanted and what they felt was good for their country’s future. However, the remaining either have lost their hopes, are fleeing to Russia or are protesting on the streets. Again, do not think that pro Russians are a small community. Ukraine has almost equal division of pro Russians and pro Europeans.

It has been estimated by Russia’s Federal Border Guard Service that 675,000 Ukrainians (most of them from the region bordering Russia and south Ukraine) arrived in Russia in the month of January and February, fearing the “revolutionary chaos” brewing in Ukraine (The fact promoted by Russia Today is debatable)

“In just past two months (January-February), 675,000 Ukrainian citizens have entered Russian territory,” Itar-Tass news agency cited the service as saying.

People in thousands of number in eastern regions and cities such as Kharkov and Donetsk came out on the streets protesting with placard saying, “in Russia we have brothers, in Europe we are slaves!”

Russian loses official language status

As soon as the new government took the charge of Kiev, the first controversial decision (controversial even in the eyes of west and EU) was taken by making Ukrainian the only official language of the country. This prevents Russian to be used by Eastern regions of Ukraine and Hungarian and Romanian language in Western Ukraine. Many consider this move as offensive and threatening, and some of them are losing hopes of continuing their life in Ukraine.

news from Crimea Ukraine Russia which is correct

Which is Correct?

Crimea turned to Russia for security and financial help

Crimea has declared that it will stay out of Kiev’s business and Kiev should do the same. Speaker of the parliament of Crimea, Vladimir Konstantinov told Kiev to put its own house in order first before commenting anything on Crimea, adding that local authorities can take care of local business in Crimea.

“You in Kiev sort it out between yourselves, and we will deal with the republic’s problems,” Vladimir Konstantinov told in a news conference.

To ensure law and order situation and getting financial aid, the republic of Crimea turned to Russia instead of Kiev. Russia, which already has a military base in Crimea, is said to have been providing security.

“We turned to Russia for help in ensuring law and order, and providing financial aid in this difficult period. This request was granted. Now a working group in Moscow is talking about the technical details of this issue,” Konstantinov said. (Quest for Crimea, Why it is so important for Russia?)

Referendum in Crimea and Donetsk

With the aim of achieving greater autonomy, Parliament in Crimea has scheduled referendum on March 30 on whether it should have greater autonomy and weaker control of Kiev. It is believed that majority will be in favour of greater autonomy for Crimea.

Donetsk has also taken the same step and The City Council has refused to recognize the new government in Ukraine. The City Council has called for a referendum on region’s status and has made Russian official language of the region alongside Ukrainian.

The Council has urged the local parliament to set the date for referendum immediately. The move is set to “protect the citizens from possible violent actions on the behalf of radicalized nationalistic forces,” the council said in a statement.

Ukrainian military surrenders to Crimea

Meanwhile, Crimea’s deputy prime minister, Rustam Temirgaliev, announced that after surrendering their all-military capabilities, no active unit of Ukrainian army remains in the republic.

“The entire Ukrainian armed forces stationed on the Crimean territory have been blocked – a number have been disarmed, while another big portion is switching to the Crimean side,” Interfax reported him as saying.

On Friday, the Navy command of Ukraine resigned as well. Rear admiral Denis Berezovsky took the control of Crimea’s newly formed Navy. The move followed Ukraine’s biggest loss of its flagship, the Hetman Sahaidachny frigate. The frigate refused to follow orders from Kiev and is returning home with a Russian naval flag after taking part in NATO operation in the Gulf of Aden.

After Navy, Air Force has also shown its commitment to the people of Crimea, The Ukrainian Air Force 240th tactical aviation brigade based near Sevastopol has pledged its commitment to the authorities of Crimea. The base is manned by more than 800 troops and has four operational MIG 29 fighters out of 45 fighters, which it is hosting. With Air Force coming in, strength of Crimean military has reached 6,000 personnel.

The head of the Security Service of Crimea Petyor Zima, Chief of Department of Internal Affairs in the Crimea Sergey Abisov, the head of Service for Emergency Situations Sergei Shakhov and present Chief of the Border Guards of Crimea Victor Melnichenko took an oath of commitment to the people of Crimea. They promised “to respect and strictly observe the Constitution of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea” and to “promote the preservation of interethnic accord and civil peace” on the peninsula.

US and Western agencies gathering intelligence.

Activists and pro maidan protesters have been reported of searching residences of former government’s officials to collect intelligence and handing it over to US and German military. However, Germany has curbed their activities.

Federal Security Bureau (FSB) of Russia has detained a Russian citizen coming back from Ukraine, suspected of raiding houses of former officials with other Right Wing group in Kiev.

“They load buses with the self-defence troops and go to MPs’ dachas in the suburbs, to their apartments, and break down their doors. It is not looting, like in taking furniture and stuff. They take documents and hand them over to special people, who check them,” he said in an interview with the Russia-24 news channel.

“It was in the afternoon of February 26, when an American group came in two Mercedes cars. American troops came out wearing their uniforms,” he recalled.

Russia to provide citizenship to willing Ukrainians

Liberal Democratic Party of Russia has introduced a bill allowing simplified citizenship procedure for Ukrainians of Russian origin. Later as the suggestion started coming up, politicians pitched for giving jobs to former members of Ukrainian Berkut police in Russian defence and police forces. Berkut was the semi-autonomous police loyal to Yanukovich government. Each region had its own Berkut unit and were specialised in crowd control. However, they were blamed of kidnapping and killing many maidan protesters and terrorized non-Yanukovich voters in the past elections.

Ukraine to criminalize dual citizenship

In a bill which is still in the parliament can jail people having dual citizenship for up to 10 years. Those who are holding two citizenships would be fined $165 and their citizenship will be declared illegal. Those who are voting in Ukrainian elections with illegal Ukrainian citizenship will face the jail for three years, and those holding public office with illegal citizenship will be jailed for 10 years. if it becomes a law, then it will discourage eastern and southern Ukrainians from taking Russian citizenship, and will encourage others to strip their Russian citizenship.

Last Words

This was an attempt to dig out news from East Ukraine without imposing the views and beliefs of the west. It does not mean that The World Reporter has taken a side. We have been covering Ukraine for months and our previous neutral reports including a survey (also published on KyivPost) can be read here (also in Russian language)

Your Turn

Do you have something to add in the article? Alternatively, do you oppose anything said on this article? Please add your views and opinion in the comments section below and facilitate a healthy intellectual debate. The article may be amended based on selected comments to maintain neutrality. Tweet this article with #антимайдан or #євромайдан.

Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.

Opinion

Is there such thing as cyberwar?

Alexandra Goman

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Two decades have passed after Arquilla and Ronfeldt in 1993 warned the public about an upcoming. They were also the first to introduce a concept of cyberwar and give an elaborated opinion. They referred to a conduct and preparation of military operations using information-related principles and also invoked a link between intelligence (the collection of information for political or military purpose) and cyber operations. Now, the scale of intelligence has significantly expanded.

Interestingly, before cyber appeared, there was a radio which was used for intelligence purposes and was weaponized later in the World War II. From that time on, electronic warfare became standard characteristics of a modern conflict. Despite this, there is a key difference between electronic warfare and a cyber one. Traditional electronic warfare aimed to guide, target, or protect weapons systems (Ibid., p. 24). In contrast, cyber makes today’s weapons and military systems smarter but also more vulnerable for an attack.

At the moment everyone still wonders what the whole idea of cyberwar means. There is no accepted interpretation or definition. Furthermore, many experts even say that such war does not even exist (or cannot be referred to the notion of “war”). Perhaps, it is due to the fact that a war in cyberspace has not yet happened. To make it clear, cyber capability has not actually killed anyone and a code has not been used as the use of force.

Similarly, the dangers of a nuclear bomb were recognized only after its use, the same goes to the notion of “nuclear war”. Although there have been many cyberattacks, none of them have been raised to the level of war because none of them, in fact, caused the level of damage which could be adhered to the level of a large-scale conflict.

Cyber warfare has derived from different aspects of conventional warfare and traditional definitions of war. It usually involves organized units within nation-state in offensive or defensive operations which are part of a war or a conflict.

In general, since cyber study is relatively new, there are many competing terms and definitions to explain cyber phenomenon. The following concepts – the revolution in military affairs, electronic warfare, information warfare, and cyber war – have been all offered to describe the new emerging area of conflict. Experts do not agree on any particular term, more often using different notions when talking about cyber issues. Nonetheless, it is vital to understand the facts of the 21st century similarly to the need that rose along with the invention of atomic reaction. A major concern now is no longer weapons of mass destruction, but weapons of mass disruption. (2009, p. 47).

One of the central elements to define a cyberwar, is that it has to meet the same criteria, applied to any other type of war. Vandalism or spying is an act of crime, but they do not start wars. So, assumingly, there has to be physical destruction and casualties in order to declare a war.

Therefore, a cyberwar should have real world damage similar to a conventional war. For this matter, it should probably take place in a digital world. What is not clear, however, is whether it should be fought exclusively in cyberspace or it can accompany a conventional attack too. This aspect is quite interesting, because cyberattacks can easily be used in combination with a kinetic attack and can multiply the force and power of the attacker.

In this case, it does not make sense to create a new term “cyberwar” as it falls down under the same definition of war. It is the same example when aerial bombings supported the attacks on the ground during the World War I, but in the end we called it a war, not a particular type of war. Consequently, cyber introduction resembles more a revolution in military affairs, rather that a new emerging type of warfare.

What is clear, though, is that the difference in definitions complicates the matters of regulating cyberspace and prevents achieving a common ground on cyber issues and/or developing new treaties and agreements between the states. So far there is no international agreement on the cyber principles, despite some attempts of the states to engage into negotiations (Budapest Conference on Cyberspace, the World Conference on International Telecommunications). There is, however, the Convention on Cybercrime, the first international agreement that addresses compute crime, adopted by the Council of Europe. Interestingly enough, Russia (as a part of the Council) neither signed nor ratified the agreement, whereas US (not part of the Council) recognized it and ratified it.

Apart from these difficulties in defining cyberwar, there has been a hyperbolic use of the word itself, mostly by media and tabloids (e.g. The Washington Post, “We are at cyberwar and we are our own enemy”; The New York Times, “How to prevent Cyberwar”; Zdnet, “Cyberwar: a guide to the frightening future of online conflict”; Komsomolskaya Pravda, “Are we expecting the First World Cyberwar?” etc.). They do not usually give any concrete information but are eager to use this term and apply it randomly to different cases just because it sounds good.  All in all, uninformed public use of the word has enormously contributed into the heat surrounding cyber implications.

Futher, cyberattacks are too often discussed equivalently, regardless of its impact. In this sense, minor cases like ransomware or phishing might be raised to the level of an armed attack (especially if they affect multiple computers worldwide). Yet, these cases are good examples of cybercrime, and crime is not a war. When individuals engage into this type of activity, they do not engage in a war.  The same goes for espionage in cyberspace. Catching a spy on one’s territory will certainly put pressure on bilateral relations, but it would not start a war.

This exaggeration of cyberattacks can be explained through securitization theory. The notion offered by the Copenhagen Security School describes how a certain concept can be politicized and securitized to the extent that it becomes a threat to national security (See Buzan, 2006).

To conclude, it should be mentioned that there is no guidance for the conduct of “cyberwar”.  There are no internationally agreed definitions and, to that extent, the whole idea of cyberwar so far seems unrealistic. At this moment technology is not sophisticated enough to ensure a military conduct entirely in cyberspace. Besides, any cyberattack of such scale would presumably result in a physical destruction, which consequently might provoke a conventional retaliation attack. This, in result, would cause a war we know for years, so there is no need to introduce a particular type of war. On another note, using cyber operations to support a conventional war and/or conflict is the way to go, but in this case it is just a revolution and modernization in military affairs.

I would be interested to hear your opinion about that in the comments below.

For further information see:

1)    A movie “War Games” (1983)

2)    Arquilla, J. and Ronfeldt, D. (1993). The Cyberwar is Coming! RAND Corporation, [online] Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/reprints/RP223.html

3)    Cetron, M. J. and Davies, O. (2009). Ten critical trends for cyber security. The Futurist, 43(5), pp. 40–49.

4)    Stiennon, R. (2015). There Will Be Cyberwar: How The Move To Network-Centric War Fighting Has Set The Stage For Cyberwar. Michigan: IT-Harvest Press.

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Opinion

On the issue of cyber security of critical infrastructures

Alexandra Goman

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There is a lot of talk in regards to cyberattacks nowadays. A regular user worries about its data and tries to secure by all means necessary. Yet, no one really thinks whether the power plants or nuclear facilities are well secured. Everyone assumes that they should be secured.

The reality, however, differs. According to many reports of cyber security companies, there is an increased risk of cyberattacks, targeting SCADA and ICS. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is used for the systems that control physical equipment – power plants, oil and gas pipelines, they can also control or monitor processes such as heating or energy consumption. Along with Industrial Control Systems (ICS) they control critical elements of industrial automation processes. Exploiting vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures can lead to the consequences of unimaginable scale. (These types of attacks are actually used in a cyberwar scenarios and hypothetical military settings).

Source: Fortinet, 2015

There are many reasons why these systems are vulnerable for attacks. First of all, the main problem is that these systems have an old design; they were built before they were connected to any networks. They were later configured to connect via Ethernet, and that’s when they became a part of a larger infrastructure. The more advanced SCADA system is becoming, the more vulnerabilities are these to exploit. The updates should be regular and on time. Secondly, there is a lack of monitoring. New devices that are connected allow remote monitoring, but not all devices have the same reporting capabilities. There are also authentication issues (weak passwords, authentication process), however, this is supposed to restrict unauthorized access (See Common SCADA Threats and Vulnerabilities at Patriot Technologies, Inc. Online).

In these scenarios, there is no certainty to know what is going to backfire because of the complexity of communications and power networks. This is also called a cascading effect of attacks. Not knowing who is connected to who may cause major disruptions. The example of the US East Coast power blackout in 2003 proves this point (a failure in one element of the grid spreads across other electrical networks). However, given this, it is also complicated for an attacker to predict consequences, if an attack executed. This kind of attack can easily escalate into more serious conflict, so it might not be the best option for states to employ such methods.

Moreover, there is a risk to damage a critical infrastructure unintentionally. That is if a virus or worm did not intend to target SCADA but happen to spread there as well. The uncontrollability of the code may seriously impair the desire to use it, especially when it comes to nation-states. For instance, in 2003 a worm penetrated a private network of the US Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station and disabled a safety monitoring system for 5 hours. In 2009, French fighter jets could not take off because they were infected with a virus.

Indeed, a scenario where an attacker gains access to a SCADA system and manipulates with the system, causing disruptions on a large-scale, might be hypothetical but it does not make it less possible in the future. However, the only known case so far, which affected an industrial control centre, is Stuxnet. It did not result in many deaths, yet it drew attention of the experts on the plausibility of future more sophisticated attacks. These potential upcoming attacks might cause the level of destruction, comparable to that of a conventional attack, therefore resulting in war.

Further reading:

Bradbury, D. (2012). SCADA: a Critical Vulnerability. Computer Fraud & Security, 4, p. 11-14.

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Opinion

Briefly about the Russian Political Discourse

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As you may have noticed, the recent international discourse has been rotating around Russia and its relations to other countries for a long time. Needless to say that after the events in Georgia/Ukraine, this discourse is far from friendly. Some even say that rhetoric of the Cold War has returned. What makes people abroad wonder is why Russia chooses to respond to its foreign partners in this particular way? Why is it the way it is?

To begin with, there are several reasons that shape Russian rhetoric. First of all, they are historical and cultural values. Russia sees itself as a defender of its rights and identity and someone who is not going to follow someone else’s rules. Back to the 13th century, the grand prince (rus. knyaz) Aleksander Nevsky only accepted submission  to the Golden Horde to protect the Russian culture and belief, therefore depriving the West of the opportunity to take over its territories.  This mentality still governs the minds of people. Today, current political rhetoric is doing the same by refusing the Western pressure and external interference into its business.

After the Golden Horde, Russia has managed to maintain its unity. Back then, the East saw the country to be an heir to the great Byzantine Empire. Meanwhile, the enormous size of the country was rather intimidating; and even more, when it started acquiring new territories (remember reaction to the situation with Crimea).

On the one hand, Moscow tries to present itself strong when it communicates with the Europe; on the other hand, the Western neighbours seem to use the same old-fashioned strategy to isolate the big neighbour. Since the time of Ivan the Terrible, no one really has wanted strong and stable Russia and there were steps before to prevent the unity of Eurasia.

The long history of Russia plays a big role in forming the modern mind of the citizen and current political rhetoric. Russian people and the government would not admit defeat and would do anything possible to prevail, even if it means to live in humble circumstances for some time (think of the continuous sanctions).

The tough policy of Peter the Great, the emperor of Russia, has brought the country to a new level in comparison to others. At that time already, all the international questions were only resolved with the help of Russia. In the following years, the power of the country kept growing only to solidify during the rule of Catherine the Great. The famous grand chancellor of Russia and the chief of foreign policy Bezborodko used to say, “I don’t know how it will be at your time, but at this time not a single gun is allowed to fire without our permission”[1]. Now, Russia tries to achieve similar influence.

The period after the World War II proved to be fruitful for the development of the European countries. While the US and USSR were competing, Europe was free from deciding on serious issues, so it could absorb and enjoy the time of quiet development.

Nonetheless, there has been a clear confrontation between the two ideologies, Nazism and Communism. Even though the USSR did not try to exterminate the nations, the scary ghost of the USSR keeps frightening the rest of the world. The impression of “evil USSR” flying over the international relations is still there and penetrates the minds of the people.

After the collapse of the USSR, there was a chance to promote peace and peaceful coexistence.  Russia has repeatedly expressed its interest in it, yet the Western partners have chosen another way:  NATO enlargement to the East (which is believed to be a broken promise).  Interestingly enough, George Kennan, the so-called creator of containment policy of Soviet expansion, considered the NATO expansion a tragic mistake.

All in all, abovementioned factors play a significant role in shaping the Russian political discourse. Cultural and historical values, national pride (and therefore negative feeling towards the Western sanctions) as well as the use of state symbols to unite the country are the most important rhetoric tools in the Russian language arsenal. Its constant and regular transmission through the media and other communication channels make this rhetoric influential and persuasive.

[1] [URL: http://www.istmira.com/istoriya-rossii-s-drevnejshix-vremen-do-nashix/290-kakovy-itogi-i-posledstviya-vneshnej-politiki.html] [дата обращения: 20.05.2016]

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