The Pro-Russian Disinformation Campaign In The Czech Republic And Slovakia

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Editor’s note: Over the course of the past 20+ months I have witnessed a huge influx of pro-Russian disinformation.  I warms my heart that this is being examined.

However…  I received feedback on this from my Czech resident expert in the Czech Republic, Dr. Veronika Valdova.

1)      It does not have methodology. PSSI has enough resources to conduct a proper study. I can do that for them/with them, but they need to pay me.

2)      Picking four relatively obscure media outlets does not do the trick. It is necessary to screen the whole media spectrum in a comprehensive and rigorous manner, i.e. snapshot over two months, and quantify the findings. Mainstream media are often picking up and republishing highly controversial content. To name and shame mainstream publications, one needs a very good research methodology, to make the findings and conclusions valid.

3)      Some directories suppress or amplify content as they deem fit. Their impact is significant because of reader behavior. Naturally, frequently used directories have higher impact. This needs to be quantified.

4)      Television should not be disregarded, it is a major influencer. The paper noted the role of pro-Russian president Milos Zeman, although very carefully – calling him “a strong supporter of Czech-Russian relations”. My take is that this is an understatement. Despite the controversies he still has very strong popular support. This orientation gives information coming from Russian and pro-Russian sources much more legitimacy and credibility than it otherwise would have, at least among certain audiences.

5)  PSSI should contact other gov’t institutions and ask them to provide a comprehensive library service.   ProQuest would help, for instance.

I was going to complain about the All-Caps title…  her expertise is much greater than mine in methodological critiques.

Bottom line, this study is a good first step but it needs a refined and disciplined methodology to achieve professional standards.



By Ivana Smoleňová



• In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the proRussian disinformation campaign originates from multiple sources: numerous pro-Russian websites, informal groups and communities on social media, several printed periodicals, radio broadcasts, and non-governmental organizations. Their pro-Kremlin messages are amplified through extensive social media activity, and through the organization of public events and gatherings.

• Common characteristics of the pro-Kremlin media and websites in CR and SR are as follows:

− They claim no allegiance to Kremlin;

− Send very similar messages and use similar arguments;

− Are strongly anti-Western, most frequently targeting the United States, Ukraine and the West in general;

− To lesser extent, are ProKremlin and pro-Putin; − Heavily use conspiracy theories, combining facts and half-truths;

− Have negative undertones, usually depicting moral, economic, political and social degradation and predicting a bleak future, including the collapse or clash of civilizations;

− Frequently use loaded language and emotionally charged words, stories and pictures;

− Are interconnected and supported by various public personalities that give the campaign both credibility and public visibility.

− The advent of the pro-Kremlin media and organizations in these two countries predates 2014, as many were founded in 2013 or earlier, but their rhetoric and activities hardened and intensified with the crises in Ukraine.

• Their motives, origins and organizational and financial structures remain, in most cases, unknown. To date, all efforts by investigative journalists or activists have only resulted in finding dubious links and facts, but no direct proof of Russian involvement.

• The lack of transparency is one of their strongest assets, as any accusation of ulterior motives is depicted as an attempt to suppress ‘alternative opinions‘ and any challenger is branded ‘America‘s propaganda puppet.‘

• The most important role of these new proKremlin media, and especially their social media channels, is that they facilitate vivid platforms where like-minded criticism and discontent can be shared and, to the Kremlin’s benefit, spread and amplified.

• The goal of the pro-Russian campaign is to shift public opinion against its own democratic institutions and foreshadow a world where the United States intents to overrun the globe, every West-leaning politician is corrupt, all media outlets not of their persuasion are biased and the future is bleak, hopeless and full of conflict. In such a world, Russia emerges as both the savior and moral authority, the guarantor of political stability and peace.

The Next War Will Be An Information War, And We’re Not Ready For It

While I appreciate Dr. Stupples’ article and his intention to highlight our non-existent counter to adversarial Information Warfare, he made far too many errors in what appears to be a new subject for him: Information Warfare at the national level.

I wrote a response in the comment section in the original article, but it would take pages and pages and pages to properly address my thoughts.  He mentions Russia and China…  when I saw China mentioned, I knew he was thinking of cyber and electronic warfare.  Living and working in the UK, I am certain Dr. Stupples knows about Information Warfare and Psyop waged against Russia, and the UK has a much more whole-of-government approach than does the US.  Beyond Cyber, EW and Psyop, I am afraid I must regretfully judge him lacking in knowledge of the greater field of information warfare. We further complicate matters by not having a recognized name for IW, in the West, at the national level.  In the US we were forced to change the name from Information Warfare to Information Operations because some people at the US Department of State simply said “We don’t do warfare”.

This article will haunt me, I am certain, for days.  Not for what it said, but for what it did not say.

To get more of an idea, please read “Propaganda and Counter-Terrorism” by Dr. Emma Briant. Twice. Her book is the definitive book for IW (or whatever the heck you want to call it) organizations in both the UK and the US.  …and it still falls short of everything in the discipline.

One last thought. It was very nice to see the late Dan Kuehl’s name mentioned at the beginning of the article. My wonderful friend, mentor and sometimes father figure, Dr. Dan Kuehl, his efforts continue and always will.

The next war will be an information war, and we’re not ready for it

November 26, 2015 11.35am EST

By Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Director of Electronic Warfare Research, City University London

In the 21st century the familiar form of warfare in which physical damage is meted out against the opponent’s military forces and infrastructure has become only one form of attack. Instead, states are increasingly launching non-lethal attacks against an enemy’s information systems – this is the rise of information warfare.

Dan Kuehl of the National Defence University defined information warfare as the “conflict or struggle between two or more groups in the information environment”. You might say that just sounds like a fancier way of describing hacking. In fact it’s a lot more sinister and a lot more dangerous than its somewhat tame name implies.

Western leaders are investing billions to develop capabilities matching those of China and Russia, establishing military commands for attacking, defending and exploiting the vulnerabilities of electronic communications networks. Information warfare combines electronic warfare, cyberwarfare and psy-ops (psychological operations) into a single fighting organisation, and this will be central to all warfare in the future.

The anatomy of information warfare

The free flow of information within and between nation states is essential to business, international relations and social cohesion, as much as information is essential to a military force’s ability to fight. Communications today lean heavily on the internet, or via communications using various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum (such as radio or microwaves) through terrestrial communications networks or satellite networks in space. We live in a highly connected world, but it doesn’t take much to tip over into instability or even chaos.

Electronic warfare is used to disrupt or neutralise these electromagnetic transmissions. These might be electronic counter measures and jammingused to cripple military communications or weapons guidance systems. Or it can include civil uses, for example the ADS-B air traffic control system used by aircraft to avoid in-flight collisions, or the recently adopted European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) that replaces railway trackside signalling and provides full control of trains. Jamming or degrading either of these would cause chaos.

We have become familiar with cyber-attacks launched through the internet against digital networks, which can make it impossible for businesses to operate. Enormous damage can follow, in cost and reputation, as seen from attacks on Sony Pictures and TalkTalk. Bringing down a stock exchange could cause massive financial losses. Cyber-attacks can also be directed at industrial control systems used in manufacturing plants or in power, water and gas utilities. With the capacity to affect such a wide range of national infrastructure lives would be put at risk.

Psy-ops are aimed more at degrading the morale and well-being of a nation’s citizens. This might include spreading false information, rumour and fear through social media and news outlets. The great level of connectedness that populations have today is a strength, but being instantly connected means that misinformation and fear can also spread rapidly, resulting in panic.

Information warfare, then, is the integration of electronic warfare, cyberwarfare and psychological operations, for both attack and defence.

The joined-up approach to the many aspects of information warfare. US DoD

Information war has already broken out

It’s suspected that Russia has launched increasingly sophisticated non-lethal attacks on its neighbours, for example against Estonia, Georgia andUkraine, which experienced an integrated onslaught of electronic, cyber-attacks and psychological operations.

There is convincing circumstantial evidence that the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan gas pipeline in Georgia was targeted using a sophisticated computer virus which caused an uncontrolled pressure build-up that led to an explosion. Even the so-called Islamic State has shown it has a good understanding of how to use and manipulate social media for use in psychological warfare. IS is reportedly building greater cyberwar and electronic warfare capabilities, as it recognises that winning the information war is key.

A response to unconventional warfare

In response to the threat of information war the British Army has established two new formations: the 77th Brigade for dealing with psychological operations, and the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade which combines electronic warfare and intelligence. Hundreds of computer experts will be recruited as reservists, trained with the help of GCHQ’s Joint Cyber Unit.

These are moves in the right direction, but the approach is too piecemeal. A recent RAND Corporation report argued for a highly integrated approach to all aspects of information warfare in order to present an effective defence force. In the US, Admiral Michael S. Rogers released a Cyber Command vision statement, describing how it would defend Department of Defence networks, systems and information against cyber attacks and provide support to military and contingency operations. The US approach is more integrated but this is only the case within the military – from a national perspective both countries lack an overall integrated approach with a common command structure that includes threats to civilian infrastructure.

So while the concept of information war appears to be well understood the aspects of it are not being addressed together, and such siloed thinking could lead to gaps in our security. Western governments have failed to fully grasp the vulnerability of electronic communications and the enormous risks this poses to critical infrastructure, transport, and the safety of civilians.

The US director of intelligence has emphasised the enormity of the cyber-threat facing the US, while British General Sir Nicholas Houghton in a speech at Chatham House observed that most acts of physical war today incorporate an online aspect, where social networks are exploited to manipulate opinion and perception. He also acknowledged that the tactics employed by Russia combine aspects of information war and also counter-intelligence, espionage, economic warfare and the sponsoring of proxies.

We need to better understand the full scope of information warfare as it evolves, identify where we are most vulnerable, and then establish a single point of responsibility to implement defence mechanisms. Because those adversaries that are unconstrained by western policies, or by ethical or legal codes, can and will exploit our vulnerabilities.


Russia, do you monitor the Guard Frequency, and how?

6976422-3x2-700x467Editor’s note: Russia’s probable response to the release of the Turkish recording of multiple warnings to the Russian pilot is predictable.

It’s embedded in their Information Warfare DNA:

  • Deny, deny, deny
  • Produce a recording of a Russian pilot, and a pitifully bad Turkish speaker playing the part of a Turkish air controller, stating ‘thank you for avoiding Turkish airspace!’  Of course the speakers will sound like they are reading from a script.
  • Putin will claim, once again, that Russia is the victim. ‘Russia will respond with the harshest of actions’.
  • Russia will respond with the mildest of reactions.

I’m only surprised Putin has not picked up on the Hillary Clinton phrase (from 1998), and has not said ‘A vast Western conspiracy!’

On the original website, the audio is available (link at the bottom).  “Guard” refers to the Guard Frequency, the aircraft emergency frequency, which is supposed to be monitored by all aircraft.  Russian civilian aircraft monitor this frequently, if this particular aircraft did not, they were just plain wrong.  I did a fairly extensive online search for Su-24 and Black Box and Flight Recorder.  Zero, zip, nada.  This intrigued me, so I pushed further.

I asked an aviation expert about Su-24 Black Boxes, if they have them.  His answer:

Never known Russian fighters to carry them. Moreover I looked for data on radios to see if they have capability to use NATO/ICAO spec VHF AM 121.5 MHz and UHF AM 243 MHz but could find no data.

It looks like Russian Su-24s might not even monitor the Guard Frequency.  Both Turkey and Russia may be telling the truth.

Again, my aviation expert, when I specifically asked about Russians and the Guard Frequency:

They might not have had capability to monitor Guard. They may not have had procedure to monitor Guard. They made have been ordered not to monitor Guard. They may not have had sufficient English language skills to monitor Guard …..

All likely irrelevant as they were baiting the Turks. Never bait the Turks, they have no sense of humour when it comes to matters of honour.

Somebody needs to ask Russia, point blank, do you monitor the Guard Frequency, and how?  This is a simple question which may have a strategic impact.

Turkish military releases recording of warning to Russian jet

Surviving crew member of downed plane is rescued in 12-hour mission and says there were no warnings

The Turkish military has released what it says is an audio recording of a warning it gave to a Russian fighter jet before the aircraft was shot down near the Syrian border, hours after the surviving Russian crew member insisted there had been no contact.

A voice on the Turkish recording can be heard saying “change your heading”. But Konstantin Murakhtin, a navigator who was rescued in a joint operation by Syrian and Russian commandos, told Russian media: “There were no warnings, either by radio or visually. There was no contact whatsoever.”

He also denied entering Turkish airspace. “I could see perfectly on the map and on the ground where the border was and where we were. There was no danger of entering Turkey,” he said.

The apparent hardening of both countries’ versions of events came as Russian warplanes carried out heavy raids in Syria’s northern Latakia province, where the plane came down. Tuesday’s incident – the first time a Nato member state has shot down a Russian warplane since the Korean war – risks provoking a clash over the ongoing conflict in Syria, where Russia has intervened to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

A Turkish official said his country stood by its version of events. The Turkish military has said it delivered multiple warnings to the plane as it neared the border and shot it down after it entered the southern province of Hatay. “We shared concrete evidence of airspace violation with relevant international bodies,” the official said. “From where we stand, there’s nothing to discuss.”

Turkey’s military said on Wednesday night that it invited Russian military attaches to its headquarters and explained that the plane was shot down because its rules of engagement went into effect after the jet did not respond to warnings.

In a written statement, the Turkish armed forces said it had made great efforts to find and rescue the pilots of the plane and that it had also called military authorities in Moscow and expressed readiness for “all kinds of cooperation”.

Russian officials said earlier that Murakhtin, one of two airmen who ejected from the downed Su-24, was “alive and well” after a 12-hour rescue operation succeeded. The second airman was killed by gunfire from the ground, apparently from Syrian Turkmen fighters.

Rescued navigator Konstantin Murakhtin.
Rescued navigator Konstantin Murakhtin. Photograph: YouTube

The Russian agency LifeNews said Murakhtin was found by an 18-man Syrian special forces team. It said he had hidden for many hours after landing, and was found by a radio signal.

A military source from the Syrian government said: “Special operations units from the Syrian Arab army conducted last night a special operation in which it penetrated areas where the terrorists are present and was able to rescue one of the pilots of the Russian plane.”

Speaking on Russian television after his rescue, Murakhtin said he knew the area where his plane came down “like the back of my hand”. He was receiving medical treatment and said he wanted to stay in Syria and continue flying missions.

The dead pilot was named by Russia as Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov. One of the rescue helicopters sent to search for the men was hit by rebel fire, forcing it to make an emergency landing. One of the marines on board, Alexander Pozynich, was killed.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, said Peshkov would be awarded the country’s highest military honour, the Hero of Russia award. The Order of Courage would be awarded to Murakhtin and posthumously to Pozynich.

Russia has repeatedly said its plane did not enter Turkish airspace. On Tuesday Putin said the downing of the plane was a “stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists” and promised “serious consequences”.

Turkey said the plane entered its airspace for 17 seconds, in what it said was the latest in a string of provocative attacks on Ankara-backed Turkmen fighters close to the Turkish border. Last Friday the Turkish foreign ministry summoned Russia’s ambassador to complain about the incursions.

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The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, repeated his insistence that the Russian jet was in Turkish airspace when it was shot down and said parts of the wreckage fell into Turkey, injuring two people. Ankara had no wish to escalate the incident and was only defending “our own security and the rights of our brothers” in Syria, he said.

The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said he had spoken to his Turkish counterpart for around an hour on Wednesday. He said the attack looked like a “pre-planned provocation”, and even if Turkish claims that the plane had strayed into Turkish airspace proved to be correct, there were no grounds for shooting it down.

Later, in a telephone call with John Kerry, the US secretary of state, Lavrov said Turkey’s actions were a “gross violation” of an agreement between Moscow and Washington on air space safety over Syria. The state department said Kerry called for calm and more dialogue between Turkish and Russian officials.

In Moscow, a crowd of youths gathered outside the Turkish embassy and threw rocks. Some of the ground-floor windows in the building were broken. Police at the scene did not make arrests, according to witnesses.

Russian protesters pelt the Turkish embassy in Moscow with eggs and tomatoes on Wednesday.

Russian officials made it clear that despite the fury the reaction would be measured. There is no talk of a military response, and no suggestion that diplomatic relations could be cut or the Turkish ambassador expelled from Moscow. However, the tone of relations between the two countries is likely to change dramatically.

Lavrov cancelled a visit to Istanbul planned for Wednesday, and recommended Russian citizens not travel to Turkey because of the terrorist threat.

Russia’s state tourism agency said it was banning all tour operators from offering holidays in Turkey. There has been no suggestion of cutting air links, but anysuch move would hurt the Turkish economy. About four million Russians a year visit Turkey, mainly for tourism.

A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, hit out at the US state department official Mark Toner, who said the Turkmen fighters who shot the Russian airman as he parachuted to the ground could have been acting in self defence. “Remember these words, remember them forever. I will never forget them, I promise,” Zakharova wrote on Facebook.

Also on Wednesday, Russia announced it would send its latest air-defence system, the S-400, to its base at Latakia to back up Russian air operations in Syria. The defence ministry has vowed to continue its strikes on Islamic State. Moscow says it is fighting Isis, but western capitals have said the majority of the strikes appear to be targeting other groups.


Moscow and the west are still at odds over whether Assad is part of the problem or the solution to the Syrian crisis. The French president, François Hollande, will travel to Moscow on Thursday for meetings with Putin to discuss coordinating action to fight Isis.

Activists said there were ongoing clashes on Wednesday in the northern Latakia countryside where the plane fell, as well as airstrikes by either Russian or Syrian warplanes. Jahed Ahmad, a spokesman for a rebel brigade in the region affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, said the Russians appeared to be taking revenge for the plane’s downing by Turkey and were providing cover for advancing Syrian ground forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies.

The area has long been a flashpoint of battles between the Syrian government and an alliance of rebels that includes Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s wing in Syria. The region straddles the Syrian-Turkish border that separates Latakia and Hatay in southern Turkey. The city of Latakia is one of the Assad regime’s redoubts and a key part of its sphere of control in western Syria.

The Syrian military said in a statement that Turkey’s downing of the Russian plane was a “blatant attack on Syrian sovereignty”. It said: “This confirms without a doubt that the Turkish government stands by terrorism.”

Turkey has long opposed the Assad regime and has backed rebel groups bent on overthrowing him. The country hosts two million Syrian refugees and shares a long border with its southern neighbour.


Opposite of Rising: Falling?

Russia and China appear to be rising.

What is the US doing?  Falling.

In the information world, in the public view, in the eyes of the world.

Why?  Because the US refuses to play in the Information world.  Big Boy propaganda, countering Big Boy propaganda, disinformation, exposing disinformation, misinformation, countering misinformation.

Ben Rhodes. Why do you still have a job?

Russian Pilot Safe After Jet Shot Down on Syria-Turkey Border

Russian Pilot Safe After Jet Shot Down on Syria-Turkey Border

MOSCOW — The Russian pilot plucked from behind enemy lines after his jet was shot down by Turkey said Wednesday he was eager to get back to the battlefield.

A 12-hour rescue operation successfully brought Capt. Konstantin Murtakhtin — who had ejected from the plane — back to a Russian base in Syria’s Latakia province early Wednesday, according to a tweet from the Defense Ministry.

Murtakhtin said he was “alright in general now” following the dramatic events.

“Our military medics can work wonders,” he said in remarks carried on Russian television.

“I am very eager to be discharged from the hospital to get back to the ranks. I will be asking the command to keep me on this base — I have a little debt to pay back for the commander,” he added, referring to Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, who Moscow said died in the ordeal.

Murtakhtin’s warplane crashed in an area controlled by militants trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad, a key Russian ally who the West accuses of trying to prop up through airstrikes.

Russia says it is targeting ISIS with airstrikes — but many areas where the extremists don’t have a presence have been bombed and other anti-Assad groups say their positions have been hit.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Murtakhtin had managed to evade capture in hostile territory with the help of Syrian special forces.

Murtakhtin was awarded an Order of Courage medal, while Peshkov was posthumously given the Hero of Russia award — one of the highest honorary titles bestowed by the Russian government.

Image: Russian warplane is shot down in Syria
A Russian warplane crashes in flames in northern Syria after it was shot down by Turkish fighter jets on Tuesday. Haberturk via Reuters

Russia has flatly denied Turkey’s claim that its pilots were warned at least 10 times in five minutes before the jet was shot down.

“The Russian plane was shot from behind, without warning,” Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov told Europe 1 radio.

Murtakhtin also rejected Turkey’s version, saying that “there was no contact at all … . The missile hit the plane’s tail all of a sudden. We didn’t even have a visual of it.”

Russia’s military said that Alexander Pozynich, who was among those dispatched to rescue the pilots, had died in the operation. Pozynich was also awarded the Order of Courage posthumously.

The incident between Russia and Turkey has ratcheted up East-West tensions and threatened to scupper international efforts to defeat ISIS and find a diplomatic solution to the Syrian civil war.

There were signs that Turkey was attempting to prevent the situation from boiling over. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement late Tuesday saying “we have no intentions whatsoever to escalate the situation. Our contacts with the Russian authorities are ongoing to this end.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said while Moscow will not wage war on Turkey, it would seriously reconsider relations and does not have plans to host any visits from Turkish officials.


Russian strike forces in Crimea amass near Ukraine border

1437432364-5524Russia is strengthening military units in Crimea near the Ukrainian de-facto border, deploying paratroopers, the press service of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence reported on Tuesday, according to Ukraine Today.

25.11.2015 | 09:30

“Russia is quickly amassing its offensive forces in northern Crimea. On November 24, five Russian IL-76 military transport aircrafts transferred two battalion tactical groups of paratroopers, belonging to the Russian Airborne Armed Forces, from the city of Ivanovo (central Russia) to the Dzhankoy airfield in Crimea”, the press service statement reads, Ukraine Today reported.

The 97th Russian Airborne Assault Regiment stationed in the Russian city of Novorossiysk has also been deployed 3km south-west of Dzhankoy, some 30 minutes’ drive away from Ukraine’s Chongar crossing.

READ ALSORussia pulls tanks, Grads to Crimea-Kherson demarcation line in wake of blackout – MIA official“Russian troops in occupied Crimea have significantly increased their offensive capabilities with well-trained units (who are) ready to launch attacks”, the NSDC reports.

Yesterday, on November 24, a dozen Russian tanks reportedly approached the line of contact between the Crimea peninsula and the Ukrainian mainland following blasts over the weekend that knocked out electricity transmission lines, leading to a blackout across parts of the occupied Black Sea region.
Read more on UNIAN:

*cough* BAD Propaganda

Editor’s note: I have to give Russia credit, they keep trying.  Okay, no credit given.

Another “spaghetti test” failure, however.

Here is an example of Russian propaganda gone wrong. (In my best dog trainer’s voice) BAD propaganda.  Down boy!

A few key indicators:

  • Sensationalistic headline
  • Allegations are preposterous
  • “The Arab media” – such specificity (sarcasm /off)
  • No links, no way to track down the story.
  • “Official” Russian source (TV and Radio Company of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation “STAR”)
  • If it’s printed in Russian and seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Notice the “kernel of truth”, the picture of Obama and Erdogan together, from the recent visit.  Now supposedly they got their heads together and planned this shootdown of a Russian plane.  Sure. …and my wife is a Victoria Secrets model.  Pure fantasy.

(Translated from Russian by my Chrome browser)

Obama and Erdogan agreed to destroy the Russian plane – Media

November 25th, 2015, 19:50

The Arab media reported that the plan for the destruction of the Russian aircraft was clearly established between the leaders of the US and Turkey. It is reported, in particular, GerasaNews.

According to the newspaper, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly received support from US President Barack Obama and the Russian plan to bring down a plane on the border with Syria.

Arab media compromising information received from some source in the administration of US President.

 Also in the Arab media reports stating that fatal for the Su-24, the decision was made by Obama and Erdogan at the summit of “Big Twenty” in Antalya.

 Photo: Sergey Guneev / RIA Novosti