Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Another Former Russian Intelligence Officer Poisoned in the UK (23)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Two nation states have kicked out the most Russian spies, the US and the UK. Russia already reserves a special place in their hell for the US and the UK, this only reinforces what Russia feels. According to Russian political writings at places like cont.ws and LiveJournal, the US and especially the UK are responsible for every negative event in both Russian and Soviet history. This is the same drivel that the Russian Foreign Ministry pushes, junk without attribution. These are the same articles that Russian trolls point to when trying to make a senseless point. 

How to make this into a teaching point for Russia, that is the question. Currently, the widespread reaction is purely symbolic. If the momentum continues, we may see some actual punitive actions.

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Current tally is 151 expulsions from 27 countries.

Russian propaganda campaign continues, with leading themes of “the UK dunnit”,  and “new Cold War”, while Western media have started to treat the Russian propaganda and official pronouncements as a bizarre comedy act. Amb Logvinov’s media briefing has been a real hit, in a peculiar way, and certainly not enhancing regime credibility in the West. Kommersant.ruposts alleged UK briefing slides online – unknown whether these have been adulterated (link below).

Some very interesting editorials and analysis. Possibly most interesting is Ukrainian analyst Portnikov, with his we told you so OpEd:  “I remember how Western diplomats, experts and journalists reacted with smiles when we explained to them that this was not an attack on Ukraine: this was an attack on you and on all of us. On Ukrainian territory, [Putin] is fighting with America, with the West and with all those he hated with all the fibers of his Chekist soul.” Applebaum,  Kirillova, Galeotti, Sestanovich, Whitmore and others make interesting observations.

State Dept media briefing, with media noting Nauert’s comment that “Russia has long arms; Russia has lots of tentacles. We imagine that they will continue to have an interest in our elections but also many other nations’ elections as well…It’s a beast from the deep sea.”

Positively superb statement in the Commons by PM May, worth reading in its entirety. SECDEF Williamson on Russian agenda to divide NATO. SECDEF Mattis make some very apt observations on Russian behaviour, also pointing to the agenda to produce divisions. Excellent interview with Sen Graham of SASC. Very good statement by SECGEN NATO. Miscellaneous reports on various holdouts, almost all of whom allowed themselves to be captured by Russian money.

New Scientist comments on the challenge the Russian attack present to the CW ban treaty, in many ways the attack does to this treaty what the invasion of Ukraine did to the NPT – render it impotent. Media elaborate on PM May’s statement about the poor prospects for the recovery of Col. Skripal and Yulia, who remain in a coma. BBC interviews Col. Skripal’s niece in Russia who produces many speculative statements, most of which appear as headlines in UK media. Media also interview one of  Col. Skripal’s friends in Salisbury, and the 12 year old exposed when feeding ducks.

While the Putin regime may have enhanced its standing with the zombified portions of Russia’s populace and diaspora, this has been an extremely expensive play to enhance domestic cohesion, as the political and reputational damage in the West is on the scale of the damage Russia did to itself in Ukraine, when it invaded Crimea. Russia can look forward to more sanctions, loss of its influence networks, becoming the subject of humor, parody, incessant media scrutiny, and likely will displace the Nazis as the metonym for bad guys and toxic buffoons in Hollywood TV and cinema in coming years. While the Sovs were the Evil Empire during the Cold War, they were seldom the subject of popular ridicule, loathing and  disgust in the West, an innovation to Western popular perceptions of Russia produced by the Putin regime’s four year campaign of “Russian exceptionalism”.

Moscow tells Britain: ‘Prove you didn’t poison Skripal or we will consider it an attack to kill Russian citizens’ | Daily Mail Online

Moscow has demanded proof that British spies did not carry out poisoning. Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still in critical condition. The pair were poisoned with a nerve agent in Salisbury, UK, on March 4. Moscow says their analysis has uncovered possible involvement of British spies. Until UK proves the contrary, they’ll consider it an attack on Russian citizens.

Prove Your Own Spies Did Not Poison Skripal, Russia Tells Britain

Russia has called on Britain to prove it did not poison former double agent Sergei Skripal, saying that unless it sees proof it will consider the incident an attempt on the lives of Russian citizens.

Russia now wants UK to prove they didn’t poison ex-spy | New York Post

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday demanded London prove British spies did not poison a former double agent in England, saying in the absence…

Russia is pushing these 14 mutually contradictory theories to claim they weren’t behind the nerve agent attack | Business Insider

Britain has accused Russia of trying to kill former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter with a deadly nerve agent – but the Kremlin is fighting back. The UK blamed Russia partly on the grounds that Novichok, the poison used in the attack, was developed in the former Soviet Union. Allies including the US, France, and Germany have agreed that this is the only plausible explanation. Regardless, the Kremlin has denied all involvement. Instead Russian officials and state media outlets have promoted numerous alternative theories which they claim could lead to the real culprits. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Monday described the proliferation of theories as “a classic Russia strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation.” Scroll down to read the theories in question.

Russian state media bizarrely claim poisoned Russian spy Sergei Skripal was ADDICTED to nerve agent novichok… and 10 other conspiracy theories

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says the Kremlin have suggested a series of strange conspiracy theories to explain the poisoning in Salisbury

Eurovision-style scoring or new Cold War? – BBC News

Viktoria Skripal, the niece of the poisoned Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, told the BBC she hopes a miracle will happen.

This Russian Ambassador Gave A Wild Press Conference And, You Know What, Just Read This

There are absolutely, 100%, no Russian spies in Australia, no takebacks.

How to pick a ‘spy-ish looking’ double agent: a master class with the Russian ambassador

Stand down Sean Spicer. There’s a new prince of PR in town, and he’s right here at the Russian embassy in Canberra.

Russian envoy warns world risks ‘Cold War’ if anti-Moscow bias continues

Russia’s Ambassador to Australia said on Wednesday the world will enter into a “Cold War situation” should the West continue its bias against Moscow in response to the nerve agent attack against a former Soviet spy in Britain.

Russia’s Pravda: ‘We Are in a State of Real and Full-Scale Cold War’ over Salisbury Poisoning | Breitbart

Russia’s Pravda news portal invoked the Cold War, referencing the remarks of the Russian ambassador to the U.S. calling the move a “tantrum”.

EU-Russia: A Cold War brewing? | Euronews

As EU countries and the US expel Russian diplomats, and with Moscow saying it will respond, where do relations go from here?

Russia uses Twitter to troll US, UK after diplomat expulsion – CNET

Several Russian embassies use Twitter to sass countries that expelled its diplomats following the poisoning of a former spy in Britain.

‘Without doubt Russia is responsible’: Presentation UK gave to prompt diplomat expulsions leaked — RT World News

A document UK officials presented in a bid to persuade allies to expel Russian diplomats this week suggests London no longer questions whether Moscow poisoned Sergei Skripal, but offers no new specific evidence.

Salisbury Incident Slides

Window on Eurasia — New Series: West Finally Beginning to Understand that Appeasement Won’t Work with Putin Either, Portnikov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 27 – The expulsion of 116 Russian diplomats by the governments of 21 countries in response to Moscow’s actions in the Skripal case show that the West is finally beginning to understand that appeasement won’t work with Vladimir Putin either, according to Ukrainian commentator Vitaly Portnikov. If Putin’s goal was to transform Russia into an international outcast denounced by the civilized work, Portnikov says, one must acknowledge that he has finally achieved “undoubted success … in the 19th year of his rule and on the eve of his fourth term” but not for lack of trying earlier (graniru.org/opinion/portnikov/m.268708.html). Yesterday, he writes, “the Western world came out as a real front of diplomatic attack on Putin’s Russia” while the list of those who weren’t prepared to expel Russian diplomats looks “more like a list of dependence rather than ‘the non-aligned movement.’” There were also many in the countries from which they were expelled who didn’t want this to happen. But the new reality is that such people were not able to prevent it, because of “the reputations of their countries and their own reputations and about the future role of countries and politicians in the arrangement of forces in the West. Only those too tightly tied up with Kremlin money and contracts could ignore this.” Now a new Western unity has been forced and it is time to think about what to do next, Postnikov says, “because it is clear that the expulsion of diplomats is only a signal, only a demonstration of an existing consensus, only an invitation not so much to dialogue as to good sense.” The Kremlin is unlikely to leap at the chance not least of all because “the West has been so delayed in its solidarity.” It should have taken this action immediately after Russia attacked Ukraine. “But then Western capitals preferred to give the impression that this was only some post-Soviet conflict that in no way touched the interests and security of the West itself.” This marks a fundamental change from the West’s response to Putin’s aggression in Ukraine beginning in 2014. Then the West beseeched Putin not to intervene in the Ukrainian mainland after he annexed Crimea. “Naturally,” Postnikov says, “that was something he ignored.” And thus “instead of helping the new Ukrainian authorities defend their country from an aggressor,” the West made that more difficult and thus allowed Putin to move forward with his plans. “I remember,” Postnikov says, “how Western diplomats, experts and journalists reacted with smiles when we explained to them that this was not an attack on Ukraine: this was an attack on you and on all of us. On Ukrainian territory, [Putin] is fighting with America, with the West and with all those he hated with all the fibers of his Chekist soul.” Now things have deteriorated to the point that Putin has launched a chemical attack in Salisbury. And finally the West has reacted as it should have much, much earlier. But this tragically is an old, old story, the Ukrainian analyst and commentator continues. “In the 1930s, it seemed to many that if they gave Hitler Austria and closed their eyes to the destruction of Czechoslovakia that he would be satisfied and there would be no war. In the 2010s, they decided that Putin would be satisfied with Crimea and would stop at the Donbass. But aggressors have their own dietary plans. They get fat as long as they are allowed to.”

Anne Applebaum | Piercing through Russia’s screen of lies | afr.com

Responding to Russia’s claims after each of its outrages is pointless. Far better to expose the methods the Kremlin uses to muddy the issue. Social media, which makes it easy for anonymous trolls to have influence, makes it easy to invent disinformation. Social divisions, which diminish trust in authorities like the British Foreign Office, help it spread. What is needed now is a broader version of Britain’s “expose the methodology” campaign, one ambitious enough to reach below the surface. That will take time and effort. But unless we get started, we’re doomed to live in a world where truth is defined by those who have the least respect for it.

Putin’s Vision of a New ‘World Order’ Increasingly Worrisome, Kirillova Says

By Paul Goble, Window on Ukraine It is perhaps emblematic of the times, but Vladimir Putin is increasingly using video clips and full-scale films to articulate his views of Russia and the world. According to Kseniya Kirillova, the latest such effort, World Order 2018, offers a vision more horrifying in its totality than anything he has presented before. In an essay that originally appeared on the Slavic Sacramento portal and that has now been reported on Kasparov.ru, the US-based analyst points to four ways in which Putin has toughened his stance and a highlightling just how disconnected from reality he is (slavicsac.com/2018/03/13/putins-worldview/kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5AA8F84F8722F).

First, Putin addresses the issue of terrorism because for him, Kirillova says,“terrorism remains a wonderful instrument for intimidating the West” be it by his references to new attacks or the role of immigration. And he insists directly that there is only one solution: the world “must develop relations with Russia and then all will be well.”

Second and more disturbingly, Putin reiterated his view that “all the post-Soviet republics are part of Russia,” that Russia acted in Ukraine only to counter the Americans who failed to consult with Moscow about their plans, and, via his creatures, that the pro-Moscow forces in the Donbass are defending the borders of Russia. Vladimir Solovyev, the director of the film, “openly called on Putin to interfere in the affairs of other sovereign states,” listing as candidates for such attention Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia. Putin’s response was typically crude: those who spread “poisons” shouldn’t be surprised that it will come back to kill them.

Third, Putin said nothing about Russian interference in the American elections but he went out of his way to praise US President Donald Trump who the Kremlin leader said “on the human level makes a good impression.” I’m not disappointed in him, Putin continued but in the American system which is “demonstrating its ineffectiveness and devouring itself.” Kirillova notes that “in the past month, Russian military analysts confirmed” that in their view, Trump is doing what Putin wants done, attacking and disordering American institutions, the press and American special services. By setting Trump against the American system, Putin has simply upped the stakes.

Fourth, as has been widely reported, Putin specified that he is prepared to destroy the entire world if Russia is threatened with oblivion. There is no reason for the world to exist if Russia doesn’t, the Kremlin leader said, the kind of tough language that his base will like but that will inevitably make it harder for Moscow to negotiate with others. Kirillova notes that Putin made two other comments which highlight how far from reality the Kremlin leader in fact now is. Putin suggested that Moscow wanted a united Germany while the US was opposed, exactly opposite what was actually the case. And he said that the Crimean Tatars supported his annexation of Crimean when in fact they voted almost unanimously against.

Mark Galeotti | Putin Finally Went Too Far – The Atlantic

The unified international response to the Skripal poisoning shows that the West will only suffer so much provocation.

Putin Finally Went Too Far – To Inform is to Influence

Russia has thrown a slew of charges against the West, mostly as diversions One charge, however, I believe, might be spot on. Russia is accusing the US of rallying other nations to oust Russian diplomats/spies, twisting their arms even. The US is encouraging others to do so.  “We’re certainly encouraging and working with our allies…

Mark Galeotti | Britain Has No Clue Why It’s Punishing Russia – Foreign Policy

London’s initial, tepid response to the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter has been overtaken by the unprecedented international round of expulsions of Russian spy-diplomats. Overall, however, the debate — which has continued with calls for Britain to bring more pressure to bear on Moscow — has been dominated by tactical questions of political feasibility. This is understandable but means that Britain has leapfrogged the most fundamental one: Precisely, what is it that it wants? Objectives must determine tactics, not the other way around. As things stand, discussions about sanctioning Russia confuse three broad goals. Is the main goal deterrence? To punish Russia with a display of retaliatory resolution intended to demonstrate to Vladimir Putin that the costs of further adventurism outweigh any possible advantages?

Stephen Sestanovich | What’s Next for Russia’s Relations With the West? | Council on Foreign Relations

The expulsion of Russian diplomats by more than twenty governments is a remarkable show of unity and a deepening of Moscow’s rift with the West.

How Putin’s arrogance handed Theresa May a diplomatic coup – CNN

The coordinated expulsion of over 100 suspected Russian intelligence officers — from countries across the European Union, NATO and beyond — in response to the attempted assassination of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter on March 4, is a remarkable diplomatic coup for Britain.

The Editors | The West’s Skripal Response Must Go Beyond Theater

Expelling a lot of diplomats shows solidarity, but exerts too little pressure.

It’s No Cold War, but Relations With Russia Turn Volatile – The New York Times

After the expulsions of Russian diplomats from the United States and Europe, analysts say relations have reached an alarming state of volatility.

Why This Is Not a New Cold War

Contemporary politics is full of false analogies, and the return of the Cold War seems to be one of them.

We must avoid new Cold War: German government’s Russia expert

Germany wants to keep up a dialogue with Moscow despite joining Western expulsions of Russian diplomats and must avoid a new Cold War, the German government’s coordinator for Russia said in a newspaper interview.

The Daily Vertical: Good Optics, Mixed Messages (Transcript)

Well, here’s a little something that slipped below the radar while most of our attention was focused on the dramatic transatlantic mass expulsions of Russian diplomats this week. Germany’s maritime authority yesterday gave the final go-ahead for the portion of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline that passes through that country’s territorial waters. The juxtaposition is revealing. On one hand, we just saw 24 countries expel more than 100 Russian diplomats, an act the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestia denounced as a “flash mob.” And on the other, we have one of those countries — a pretty important one at that — taking a business-as-usual approach when it comes to a lucrative energy deal like Nord Stream. Sure, the expulsions in retaliation for the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in the U.K. were attention-grabbing and headline-grabbing. And sure, the coordinated transatlantic approach made for strong messaging. But as former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Michael Carpenter said on the BBC yesterday, “Russia will continue with its aggressive behavior until it feels that the consequences and the costs are strong and exceed the benefits, and so far that’s not been the case.” And making the costs outweigh the benefits, Carpenter added, would require stronger financial sanctions, stronger defense-sector sanctions, and, yes, stronger energy sanctions. So the West essentially sent two messages to the Kremlin this week. It sent one message saying that poisoning a U.K. citizen with a nerve agent on U.K. territory is unacceptable. And it sent another message saying that despite this being unacceptable, we can continue to do business together.

The Morning Vertical, March 28, 2018

In a piece featured below, former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov makes the case that Moscow needs to mend its relations with the West. Ivanov is one of the sharper foreign-policy minds in Moscow. But even he repeats one of the falsehoods that even most Russian foreign-policy liberals seem to believe. “Russia’s numerous opponents and adversaries,” Ivanov writes. “want to lock the country up in a geopolitical ghetto and, isolate it as much as possible from the rest of the world.” Ivanov acts as if the Western sanctions he is referring to simply came out of the blue and were not related to Russia’s behavior — the annexation of Crimea, the war in the Donbas, the downing of Flight MH17, and the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal with a nerve agent in the U.K. And even given all these things, the West remains eager to engage Russia, as I note on today’s Daily Vertical. Ivanov is right. Russia does need to rethink its foreign policy. But this would also require a rethink of Russia’s international behavior. And that is highly unlikely under the current regime.

Igor Ivanov | This Is What Russia’s Foreign Policy Should Look Like (Op-ed)

The tasks facing Russia’s foreign policy at the beginning of this new political cycle are no less complex than those the country has faced over the past fewyears. In a way, they are even more complex and unfamiliar. Yet, these taskswill have be solved in an international political environment – an environmentthat has, unfortunately, grown more and more precarious in recent years. Let us not forget, however, that compared to most other powers, Russia has a numberof undeniable advantages. Western societies are split and polarized, whereas Russian society is consolidated and united. The foreign policies of Western countries are inconsistent and fickle, whereas Russian foreign policy is stable and consistent. Western leaders normally cannot afford the luxury of long-term political planning — but Russia can. The main asset is that our principles, intentions and objectives are shared by a significant majority of global political players. This means that Russia can count on the formation of a global coalition of powers interested in the creation of a more democratic, more just and more stable world order. Igor Ivanov is President of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC). He was Russia’s Foreign Minister from 1998 to 2004.

Department Press Briefing – March 27, 2018

Together, these steps constitute the largest single expulsion of Russians ever ordered by the United States. It is a mark of how seriously we take the threat that Russia poses, and an indication of our readiness to impose further costs to respond to this and other reckless and destabilizing actions. Alongside our own announcement, you’ve seen the unprecedented wave of similar actions and expulsions taken by other governments, our global partners, and our allies. The United States, the United Kingdom, NATO, and now 25 other countries have so far announced the expulsions of 151 Russian personnel. To highlight for you – and I can provide you this list, and I’ll just read a few of those countries who, in concert with the United States and the UK, of course, are working together on this: Ukraine deciding to expel 13; NATO, we learned this morning, 7; France, 4; Germany, 4; Poland, 4; Canada, 4; Lithuania, 8; the Czech Republic, 3; Moldova, 3, we just learned about that today; the Netherlands, 2; Denmark, 2; Albania, 2; Italy, 2; Spain, Australia, both 2; Romania, Estonia, 1 each; Latvia, Croatia, Sweden, Macedonia, Norway, Hungary, Finland, and Ireland, 1 each for those countries; and we’ve just most recently learned of Belgium deciding to kick out 1. The United Kingdom, of course, deciding to expel 23. Our Deputy Secretary Sullivan, Assistant Secretary Wess Mitchell, and many others in the building across the interagency process have worked tirelessly over the past three weeks to achieve this unprecedented level of cooperation and also coordination. The end result – 151 Russian intelligence personnel sent home to Moscow – is a testimony of how seriously the world takes Russia’s ongoing global campaign to undermine international peace and stability, to threaten the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide, and to subvert and discredit Western institutions. As we said yesterday, the door to dialogue with the Russian Government remains open; but if Russia wants to improve relations, it needs to first acknowledge its responsibility for this attack and cease its recklessly aggressive behavior.

U.S. Department of State: 27 countries, NATO order to expel 151 Russian diplomats | UNIAN

The U.S. Department of State has announced that 27 countries and NATO have decided to expel 151 Russian diplomats over the poisoning of the Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury, the UK, earlier this month. The United States says that if Russia wants to improve relations, it needs to first cease its recklessly aggressive behavior.

U.S. State Department compares Russia with ‘a beast from the deep sea’ | UNIAN

Spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State Heather Nauert has compared Russia with ‘a beast from the deep sea.’ Nauert expects Russia’s further meddling into elections around the world.

NSC spokesman: Trump omitted spy attack during Putin call to not tip off expulsions – POLITICO

U.S. and European leaders have implicated the Russian government in the attack on Skripal.

PM Commons statement on National Security and Russia: 26 March 2018 – GOV.UK

Prime Minister Theresa May gives an oral statement to Parliament on National Security and Russia. Mr Speaker, I beg to move the motion on the order paper standing in my name. Three weeks ago, the Russian Federation was responsible for an attempted murder here in our country. This was not only a crime against Sergei and Yulia Skripal. It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk. It was an assault on our fundamental values and the rules based international system that upholds them. And it was part of a pattern of increasingly aggressive Russian behaviour, but which – with the first offensive use of a nerve agent on European soil since the foundation of NATO – also represents a new and dangerous phase in Russia’s hostile activity within our continent and beyond. So this debate is taking place, Mr Speaker, because there is no greater responsibility for this House – for this government and for me as Prime Minister – than recognising threats to our national security and acting to meet them.

Prime Minister Theresa May gives an oral statement to Parliament on National Security and Russia. – To Inform is to Influence

This is probably the best statement concerning Russian rogue behavior ever.  Madam Prime Minister, excellent. The breadth and depth of the Russian Information Warfare program and tools are properly addressed and the accusations against Russia are made. Russia is, indeed, a belligerent state.  Russia is waging a low-level war against many neighboring and distant states…

Britain’s May calls for ‘long-term response’ to Russia after spy poisoning

British Prime Minister Theresa May called on Tuesday for a “long-term response” by the West to the security threat from Russia as NATO followed member states in expelling Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a double agent in England.

‘Putin is Trying to Divide NATO Allies’: UK Defence Secretary – YouTube

UATV English Published on Mar 26, 2018 Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin is driving a wedge between allies. And the best way to deal with the problem is to show total unity. The tough response comes from British Defence Minister Gavin Williamson. The top UK defense official is on a two-day visit to Estonia. He has addressed British troops at a military base in Tapa.

Mattis: Putin ‘responsible as head of state’ for spy attack | TheHill

Defense Secretary James Mattis on Tuesday called the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil “attempted murder,” saying Russian President Vladimir Putin should be “responsible as th

Defense secretary Jim Mattis serves up a strong condemnation of Russia’s aggression – To Inform is to Influence

David Choi US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis condemned Russia’s escalating global provocations in a press conference with reporters on Tuesday. Among other things, Mattis referenced a nerve-agent attack in Britain that triggered a unified criticism of the Kremlin. “They’re doing things they believe are deniable,” he said. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis strongly condemned Russia’s escalating provocations…

Mattis: Russia’s Goal With Poisoning Was To Divide West

Russia’s poisoning of a former spy in Britain is part of a Kremlin strategy to divide the West by conducting covert operations and then fomenting doubt and disagreement over who’s responsible, U.S….

Top US Defense Officials Blast Russia’s ‘Reckless’ Behavior

PENTAGON — The top U.S. defense official chastised Russia for dangerous and reckless behavior, saying it was “pretty obvious” Moscow was behind the use of a military-grade nerve agent against a former Russian spy and his daughter in Britain. “Attempted murder of a man and his daughter. How’s that for starters?” U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters Tuesday at the Pentagon when asked to describe the incident that has since touched off a diplomatic backlash against Russia. The White House said as of Tuesday, more than 25 countries had expelled 150 Russian intelligence officers “hiding under diplomatic cover” and that Washington hoped more nations would follow Washington’s lead. “We’re certainly applying pressure on Russia. We’re certainly encouraging and working with our allies and partners also to do so,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, calling the number of countries taking a stand against Russia’s actions “unprecedented.” The comments from both the Pentagon and the White House followed action from NATO earlier Tuesday, which announced it is expelling seven Russian diplomats and denying accreditation to three others as part of a “broad, strong and coordinated” international response.

NATO boots one-third of Russian officials at Council

Russia will lose one-third of the diplomatic detail to the Russia-NATO Council, after the civilian head of the trans-Atlantic alliance revoked the credentials for seven officials and barred three others.

NATO – News: Statement by NATO Secretary General on further decisions following the use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, 27-Mar.-2018

Good afternoon, The attack in Salisbury was the first use of a nerve agent on NATO territory. On March 14, NATO Allies made clear their deep concern, and condemnation of this reckless breach of international norms. Since then, intensive consultations have taken place among Allies, including here at NATO and in capitals. Those consultations have resulted so far in the expulsion of over 140 Russian officials by over 25 NATO Allies and partners. This is a broad, strong and coordinated international response. And as part of that response, NATO is unified in taking further steps. I have today withdrawn the accreditation of seven staff at the Russian Mission to NATO. I will also deny the pending accreditation request for three others. And the North Atlantic Council has reduced the maximum size of the Russian Mission to NATO by ten people, in line with my decision. This will bring the maximum size down to twenty. This sends a clear message to Russia that there are costs and consequences for its unacceptable and dangerous pattern of behaviour. And it follows Russia’s lack of constructive response to what happened in Salisbury. Our actions reflect the serious security concerns expressed by all Allies, and are part of the coordinated international effort to respond to Russia’s behaviour. They are proportionate, and in line with our legal obligations. Today’s decision does not change NATO’s policy towards Russia. NATO remains committed to our dual-track approach of strong defence and openness to dialogue, including by working to prepare the next meeting of the NATO-Russia Council. And with that I’m ready to take your questions.

‘They’d Be a Gas Station Masquerading as a Country’: Graham Urges Germany, France to Join Trump Against Russia | Fox News Insider

Senate Armed Services Committee Member Lindsey Graham said President Trump is laying the groundwork for decimating Russia’s remaining prowess on the world stage.

Fewer Russian spies in U.S. but getting harder to track

The U.S. decision to expel 60 alleged spies is unlikely to cripple Russian spying in the United States because others have wormed and hacked their way into American companies, schools, and even the government, current and former U.S. officials said.

Germany, other countries expel Russian diplomats over Skripal poisoning | News | DW | 26.03.2018

The German Foreign Ministry has said it will dismiss four Moscow diplomats over the alleged poisoning of a former Russian spy. Fifteen other EU states, along with other Western countries, have announced similar moves.

New Zealand’s claim it has no Russian spies is perplexing. Why is it isolating itself? | World news | The Guardian

Jacinda Ardern’s refusal to join international action against Russia could be an attempt to stake out independent credentials, but there is little to be gained

Spy attack widens Turkey’s split with US, NATO over Russia – Europe – Stripes

As U.S. and European allies form a diplomatic front against Russia, Turkey’s coziness with the Kremlin is testing its crucial defense ties with the U.S. and its military alliance with NATO.

Dodon: Moldova has no obligations to expel Russian diplomats — Politics, Russia — EADaily

President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon has condemned a decision made the by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration to expel three Russian diplomats.

Europe Struggles to Respond to Covert Russian Threats – WSJ

The expulsion of 42 Russian diplomats from EU capitals sent a potent signal of Europe’s anger over the poisoning in the U.K. of a former Russian spy. But effective action to blunt Moscow remains modest.

EU majority stands with United Kingdom in its fight with Russia | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 27.03.2018

Seventeen EU countries have announced that they will expel Russian diplomats. Yet how sustainable is solidarity with the UK — and what other measures could come next? Bernd Riegert reports from Brussels.

UAWire – Warsaw: Russian Special Services have stepped up operations in Poland

Polish Radio reports that Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Jacek Czaputowicz announced that Russian Special Services have intensified operations in Poland against the backdrop of the poisoning of double agent Sergei Skripal. “This is a manifestation of solidarity with the UK. But, irrespective of this, our relevant services attract considerable interest from Russian services…[Poland] sees their activities as contrary to the Vienna Convention. This is another signal that the threat from Russia must be taken seriously,” stressed the head of Polish Foreign Ministry. In addition, Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Gowin, after a special operation by Internal Security Agency employees to detain an individual suspected of spying for Russia, said that Poland is not defenseless in its fight against Russian spies. He noted that Russia conducts large-scale operational activities in Poland. “If it is known that Russia has tried to influence the outcome of the elections in countries such as the United States and France, then we have no illusions that Russian intelligence is conducting operational work in the territory of Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland. Current events confirm that our services are keeping the situation in check. The Polish state is not and will not be, in this case, defenseless,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

Yovanovitch thanks Ukraine for expulsion of Russian diplomats – 28.03.2018 12:04 — Ukrinform News

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch has thanked the Ukrainian side for solidarity with democratic countries in the issue of expelling Russian diplomats as a response to Russian aggression in the world.

SBU refuses entry to 23 Russians expelled from Britain – 28.03.2018 10:56 — Ukrinform News

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has refused entry to 23 Russian diplomats who were expelled from Britain due to the poisoning of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the SBU’s press service has reported.

Map shows Russia is in trouble | Lismore Echo

MOSCOW is furious after 130 diplomats were expelled from dozens of countries as the diplomatic crisis goes south.

Russians Were Once Banned From a Third of the U.S.

A 1957 map shows that Soviet visitors were barred from most of New York’s Long Island—and the entire state of Washington.

Biggest concerted action against Russian intelligence since Cold War | Euronews

More than 100 Russian diplomats expelled following Skripal poisoning

Novichok attack tests the world’s chemical weapons treaty | New Scientist

We have the international tools to resolve uncertainties over the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal – but they will only work if Russia cooperates. By Debora MacKenzie The attempted assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal has sparked an international crisis, with UK allies expelling scores of Russian diplomats in solidarity against the apparent use of chemical weapons on British soil. But behind the scenes, another crisis is unfolding: the first ever test of whether the international treaty banning these weapons can be used in a world for which it wasn’t designed.

UK’s May: Poisoned spy Skripal, daughter may never recover | National Post

LONDON — British prime minister Theresa May says former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter may never recover from a nerve-agent attack that has left them in critical condition.May says “their condition is unlikely to change in the near future, and they may never recover fully.” May told lawmakers that more than 130 people in the English city of Salisbury may have been exposed to the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals. More than 50 people have been assessed in hospitals. A police officer left seriously ill after the March 4 attack was released from hospital last week. The U.K. blames Russia for the attack, but Moscow denies responsibility. On Monday about 20 countries, including the United States, joined Britain in expelling Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning.

Troubling Update on Poisoned Ex-Spy, Daughter

(Newser) – British prime minister Theresa May says former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter may never recover from a nerve-agent attack that left them in critical condition. May says “their condition is unlikely to change in the near future, and they may never recover fully.” May also told lawmakers that more than 130 people in the English city of Salisbury may have been exposed to the nerve agent used to poison the Skripals, per the AP. More than 50 people have been assessed in hospitals, and a police officer left seriously ill after the March 4 attack was released from the hospital last week. The UK blames Russia for the attack, but Moscow denies responsibility. On Monday about 20 countries, including the United States, joined Britain in expelling Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning. Russia, not surprisingly, is threatening to expel western diplomats in retaliation, reports the Guardian. “Russia will not allow itself to be beaten up, the harder they try to intimidate us, the tougher our response will be,” said Russian lawmaker Alexei Chepa. The US expelled 60 diplomats and closed the Russian consulate in Seattle. A sign on the glass door of the office in downtown Seattle said in Russian that the office was closed and would not be accepting new passport applications, per the AP. The move followed the closure last year of the Russian consulate in San Francisco. In Seattle, three people who showed up seeking new passports walked away in frustration. One young man, who declined to give his name, said: “The West Coast now has no consulates whatsoever, which means the closest one is in Houston. … It’s a huge inconvenience.”

Skripal niece: ‘I’d really like to know how they are’ – BBC News

Viktoria Skripal, the niece of the poisoned Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, told the BBC she hopes a miracle will happen.

Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter will be invalids for life, says niece | News | The Times

A former Russian spy and his daughter have very slim hopes of surviving the nerve agent attack in Salisbury and will be debilitated for life if they do, according to a relative.Sergei and Yulia Skripal have been in critical condition and at risk of brain damage since they were poisoned on March 4.

Sergei Skripal’s Mother Doesn’t Know He Was Poisoned, Niece Reveals

Family has ‘1% of hope’ he will survive.

Sergei and Yulia Skripal have slim chance of survival, says niece | UK news | The Guardian

Viktoria Skripal not hopeful about former Russian spy and daughter in nerve agent attack

Salisbury nerve agent attack: Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia ‘should be allowed to die’

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia remain in a critical condition in hospital after a nerve agent attack earlier this month.

‘Death would probably be merciful’ — it’s looking very bleak for the former Russian spy poisoned by Putin | Business Insider

Information is emerging about the condition of Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy poisoned by nerve agent in Britain earlier this month. British Prime Minister Theresa May said he, and his daughter Yulia, may never fully recover. Skripal’s niece has told the BBC that she has little hope they will live, and that if they do pull through, they will be “invalids” for life. Her account was supported by Skripal’s neighbour in Salisbury, who said “death would probably be merciful.”

Niece says former Russian spy, poisoned by nerve agent, is in grave condition: ‘I have maybe 1 percent of hope’

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Schoolboy, 12, on how he was exposed to deadly poison after Russian spy Sergei Skripal gave him bread to feed ducks in Salisbury

A SCHOOLBOY told yesterday how he was caught up in the poison spy drama after assassination target Sergei Skripal gave him bread to feed ducks. Aiden Cooper, 12, was playing in a park with pals when they saw Skripal and daughter Yulia beside a stream.

Skripal Chemical Poisoning Case Throws Spotlight on Growing Russian LNG Supplies to UK | Modern Tokyo Times

Prime Minister Theresa May issued a statement, on March 14, that the United Kingdom was evaluating other natural gas import options to decrease her country’s dependence on gas imports from Russia. The UK prime minister’s assurance came as a response to a comment made by Conservative lawmaker Stephen Crabb in light of escalating relations with Russia, which were triggered by the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. “One way Russia seeks to extend its influence in Europe is by building relationships of energy dependence. Does [Prime Minister May] agree that Britain should not provide a market for Russian gas?” asked Stephen Crabb. The parliamentarian further noted the importance of importing liquefied natural gas (LNG) from allies such as Qatar, Malaysia and Australia (Parliament.uk, March 14). According to recent reports, over the course of 2018 the UK imported half of its liquefied gas from Russia. Three of the six LNG cargos delivered to British terminals since January came from Yamal LNG terminal, located north of the Arctic Circle. The Yamal LNG terminal is operated by JSC Yamal LNG, a joint-venture of Russia’s Novatek (50.1 percent), French Total (20 percent), China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC—20 percent), and the Chinese government–funded Silk Road Fund (9.9 percent) (Yamallng.ru, accessed March 20; Financial Times, March 14). Novatek has been subject to sanctions by the United States since 2014 (Treasury.gov, July 16, 2014). Mark Gyetvay, the Chief Financial Officer for Novatek, complained in an interview to Bloomberg that Russian gas shipments were being stigmatized in Europe. Gyetyay added that Russian companies were “being vilified” for supplying gas to the UK (TASS, March 13).

Russian Spy Assassins: The Salisbury Attack review – as stunning as a le Carré thriller | Television & radio | The Guardian

In this gripping Dispatches documentary, all the right questions are asked, of all the right people, even if they’re not all answered

 

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