Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Another Former Russian Intelligence Officer Poisoned in the UK (27)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

It appears that a steadily increasing number of media outlets are recognizing that Russian propaganda and Russian fabricated news is farcical, often to the point of extreme hilarity. It is even more interesting that the mainstream media is beginning to recognize, or at least publicly acknowledge, that official Russian statements are laced with similarly inane material. 

Yesterday, former US Ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul tweeted out what I consider the most telling example of Russian ‘logic’ in the current crisis. Russia, of course, is going to double down on this point, purely for their domestic audience.  

This in response to Russian demands to “visit” Yulia Skripal.

Russian two-faced logic reigns as a shining example of ‘clown humor’ as Russia continues to push this argument.  

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Russian propaganda effort ramping up rapidly, although much of it is either inane, petty, trivial or focussed on “zombified” domestic audiences. An excellent analytical summary by Vladislav Inozemtsev, pointing out that Putin’s much vaunted  “strategy” (in the minds of the not so well endowed Western media “analysts”) has been little more than a series of opportunistic experiments mostly intended for his own ends – although Inozemtsev is canny enough not to spell this out. Notably, in 2014 one Russian commentator observed that“…the ship [Russia] is sinking, and the Captain [Putin] is mad ….” – this is not about madness, but about the short term domestic politics of self-promotion, or as a number of Russian commentators have observed, personal survival in the snakepit of Russian political life.

Some very apt observations by UK SECDEF Williamson, and Greens MEP Sven Giegold, and some interesting media commentaries.

Russia’s farcical demand for consular access to Ms Skripal continues as a propaganda prop. Speculation in media that the Skripals were poisoned by Novichok laced buckwheat kasha i.e. Russian porridge. More on Lesin death, and speculation that government agencies may have misrepresented the cause.

Finally, a choice selection of commentaries by Russia supporters.

Russia warns travellers to UK face ‘provocations’ including having ‘objects placed in their luggage’ | The Independent

Russia has warned its citizens that they face the “insertion of foreign objects” into their luggage when they travel to the UK.  The Russian embassy posted the claim of new “provocations” on its website as the row continues over the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. It said the warning was necessary because of “the anti-Russian policy, the growing threatening rhetoric of the British, the British government’s selective actions against Russian individuals and legal entities”.

Russia threatens to search British planes after Aeroflot passenger jet stormed by Border Force officers at Heathrow

An official appeared to suggest the Russian jet, which landed from Moscow, was searched as part of the Salisbury spy poisoning investigation

Spy poisoning: UK plays down Russia complaint at plane search – BBC News

The UK says the search of an Aeroflot plane at Heathrow was routine – illegal says Russia.

Russia demands to know why it has been ‘denied access’ to former spy and his daughter | Daily Mail Online

Embassy published list of questions over the poisoning in Salisbury on March 4. One question asked if the nerve agent Novichok could have come from the UK. The UK Foreign Office is considering a Russian request to see Yulia Skripal.

Britain and Russia lock horns as Moscow cuts UK diplomats

Moscow has told Britain it must cut just over 50 more of its diplomatic and technical staff in Russia as a standoff deepened over the poisoning of a Russian former spy and his daughter in England, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

Russian Diplomats Expelled By U.S. Arrive Home

The first plane carrying Russian diplomats who were ordered out of the United States following the poisoning of an ex-spy in Britain has landed at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: West Doesn’t Understand Why Putin Acts as He Does and Putin May Not Either, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, March 31 – Over the last decade, Vladimir Putin has “ceased to recognize any rules” in the international system or at home but what is “much more important, Vladislav Inozemtsev says, is that his regime has “ceased even to reflect about the benefit to itself from taking one or another step.” Many of the steps the Kremlin has taken be they in Georgia, Ukraine, Syria, elections in Western countries or attacks on his enemies abroad, quite clearly have harmed Russia’s interests, prompting the obvious question why has it take them, the Russian commentator continues ( And that makes effectively responding to them more difficult because the traditional or at least non-military responses don’t appear to work with a leader who quite clearly is acting in ways that his opposite numbers cannot understand. In the first cold war, both sides recognized certain rules; in this, the second, at least one side doesn’t. According to Inozemtsev, “the reaction of the West with the expulsion of Russian diplomats points to a certain new reality, one which reflects the fact that the world has ceased to understand Russia. And this should not surprise anyone: Today: it is really not clear what Putin wants.” If he wants to be a dictator in his own country, the West isn’t going to interfere. If he seeks to restore the Soviet Union, he will face resistance but less from the West than from the population of the post-Soviet states. If he wants to launder stolen money in Europe, many in the West will go along. But if those are his goals, he isn’t acting in a way consistent with them. “Not understanding Russia,” Inozemtsev continues, “the West is beginning to send certain signals indicating to Putin that he should reflect about if not becoming less anti-Western at least more rational.” So far, however, “the Kremlin has given the impression that it doesn’t understand these signals” and assumes that it can respond in a “symmetrical” fashion. “However, what was normal in the years of the cold war does not appear to be now.” The members of the CPSU Central Committee in the 1970s didn’t have villas in the south of France. They didn’t keep money abroad. And Russian companies didn’t owe money to foreign banks. Instead, the USSR was an autarchy. “Now, however, everything has changed: Russia is much more vulnerable not so much to American nuclear rockets as to European economic sanctions,” Inozemtsev argues. Symmetrical responses were useful “when the sides were driven by interests;” when they are driven by banal insults, they become counterproductive.” Expelling diplomats doesn’t matter now as much because those in Moscow and Washington not to mention other capitals have less to do. Those seeking analogies for what Putin is doing shouldn’t be looking at Khrushchev or Brezhnev, he says. They should rather look at “the experiments of Stalinist times when Soviet special forces eliminated enemies of the revolution abroad and the Kremlin insisted German communist not make common cause with the Social Democrats against the fascist threat.” To Stalin, “it seemed that the greatest possible destabilization of the functioning of democratic countries would lead to their collapse and help the establishment of the universal power of the proletariat. History however showed the mistakenness of that course.” No one suffered more from the collapse of Weimar than did the Soviet Union. “If European integration fails, Russia will hardly be among the winners,” Inozemtsev continues. All this means that “sanctions against Russia are practically forever” given that “Russia continues to provoke, to lie and to act” in ways that don’t reflect either principles or interests of the kind the West could understand. The West isn’t going to respond with military force. But it will respond; and consequently, Moscow and the world can expect that signs of this growing suspiciousness of Putin’s intentions will appear “again and again.” Everyone needs to be prepared for that – or to begin to change course, although apparently there is little reason to expect that.”

Vladislav Inozemtsev | Sanctions forever –

Not understanding Russia, the West sends her signals, hinting that Putin should make himself understood: to become, even if not less anti-Western, but more rational. The Kremlin pretends not to understand the hints. Speaking of the analogies that emerge from the contemplation of the last steps of the Kremlin, they resemble not so much the actions of Khrushchev or Brezhnev as the experiments of Stalin’s time – when the Soviet special services eliminated the enemies of the revolution abroad, and the Kremlin categorically demanded that the German Communists not block out with the Social Democrats in the face of the fascist threat. Then it seemed that the maximum destabilization of the functioning of democratic countries would lead to their collapse and help establish the world power of the proletariat. History, however, showed the fallacy of the then course. From the failure of the Weimar Republic, no one was hurt more than the Soviet Union. If European integration falls apart, Russia is also unlikely to benefit. We, I remember, were happy recently Brexit? Did they think that a more independent Britain would strike the Eurobureaucrats? Only while it is rather obvious that the “increased independence” of the United Kingdom increases its determination to deal with Moscow, and Europe (and not only) is inclined to support the “renegade”. Summing up, I can only repeat my long-standing assumption: sanctions against Russia are almost forever. Instead of weighing what is happening in a rational way, weigh the pros and cons (in Soviet times, the party leadership had the wit to continue the dialogue on economic, and not only, issues even when the arms race was the most active) and take decisions , aimed at reducing tension, Russia continues to provoke, lie and dodge. The West finds it difficult to answer this with force, and nobody wants it, so signs of growing contempt will show up again and again. And you need to be ready for this. Or start to change – although, apparently, it does not have to wait.

Putin Tests the West

The Trump administration on Monday ordered 60 Russian officials to pack their bags and return to Moscow.

Russia chooses dangerous route to world power – Sun Journal

The Kremlin has what a psychological counselor might diagnose as a self-image problem. With the February 2014 Russian attack on Crimea and the March 2014 annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula, that self-image problem became a grave security threat to Europe and potentially the U.S. Events in the last year confirm that, with Russia’s creeping war…

Putin Fends Off Fire And Fury, At Home And Abroad : Parallels : NPR

Russia’s government has used the Siberian mall fire and diplomatic expulsions to help portray Putin is the only man who can protect and lead Russia through tough times.

Opinion | Putin Has Overplayed His Hand – The New York Times

The Trump administration makes it difficult, but the answer here is more diplomacy.

More expelled diplomats arrive in Moscow as Williamson warns of ‘new era of warfare’

The latest arrivals come as Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson says the world has “entered a new era of warfare”. The first plane carrying Russian diplomats expelled from the US has landed in Moscow as the Defence Secretary warned the world had “entered a new era of warfare”. Gavin Williamson said if there was ever any doubt over the threat posed by Moscow “we only have to look at events in Salisbury, where our Armed Forces, including the RAF, have been responding to a cold-blooded chemical attack”. The UK has expelled 23 Russian diplomats in the wake of the poisoning of Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter. A number of other countries followed suit, including America, Canada, Australia and more than a dozen EU nations.

Britain must keep step with Russia’s evolving capabilities – minister

Britain’s defence capabilities must evolve to keep step with the growing threat posed by Russia, Defence Minister Gavin Williamson said, as a standoff between Moscow and the West over the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter deepened.

In his defence, Gavin Williamson is ready to fight the Armed Forces’ corner

What with his love of tarantulas and his eye for the political stunt, Britain&rsquo;s nakedly ambitious Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, is in some danger of becoming a figure of fun.

European Parliament MP: Some EU countries did not expel Russian diplomats because of ‘Russian black money’

Some EU countries have ignored the joint response to Russia’s use of chemical weapons in the British town of Salisbury because of personal interests in relations with Moscow, stated by Sven Giegold, a representative of the Green Party in the European Parliament (EP), UkrInform reports. “Many countries that turn their backs on EU’s Russia policy are under the influence of dirty money from Russia. The division of Europe is based on inglorious individual interests vis-à-vis Russia. Cyprus, Austria, Bulgaria and Greece seem to attach more importance to Russian black money than to a common European position,” the German MEP said. Moreover, according to Giegold, countries such as Malta, Cyprus and Portugal receive significant profits from the implementation of visa policies for Russian citizens. “Hundreds of Russian citizens have been able to buy an EU passport including civil rights and thus also political influence in Europe,” the MEP noted. Giegold also recalled that, at present, the ruling Freedom Party of Austria (FPO) has signed an agreement on cooperation with the party of the Russian president. “Tsipras [Greek Prime Minister] has long flirted with Putin’s Russia in the hope of investment that the rest of Europe refuses,” the German politician said. 28 countries have already expelled Russian diplomats in response to the poisoning of the former Russian intelligence agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury. In addition, Bulgaria, Luxembourg, Slovakia and Malta have summoned their ambassadors to Russia for consultations. From among EU countries, Austria, Slovenia, Cyprus, Greece and Portugal have not “punished” Russia.

German FM Says Dialogue Possible With Russia Despite Conflicts

The German foreign minister says that despite the loss of trust with Russia, his country is willing to continue dialogue with Moscow in efforts to settle regional conflicts.

Britain’s nuclear power stations swept for Russian sleeper agents over fears of crippling insider attack – Mirror Online

An ex-senior intelligence officer has warned that an insider could launch a malware attack with a simple USB stick

SA remains silent as the West turns on Russia | Sunday Independent

If a new cold war is on the cards, it will not be reminiscent of the Cold War that followed World War II.

From Moscow with Murder: Russia Hunting Defectors in America?

Kremlin spies have stepped up surveillance of defectors under U.S. protection, sources say

Russia v the West: Is this a new Cold War? – BBC News

Relations between Russia and the West are at a new low – but how should we describe the current situation?

American diplomatic expulsions put Russian aggression on full display | TheHill

It is vital that America and its allies recognize that Russia is a threat that we are not prepared for.

There’s a huge caveat in the US’ expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats | Business Insider

The US’ expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats in response to a chemical attack on a former Russian spy in the UK, announced earlier this week, has a huge loophole. A State Department official confirmed that the US will not require Russia to reduce the number of staff in its Washington embassy. In other words, the 60 diplomats – many of whom were undercover intelligence officers – who were kicked out can be replaced by others. Targeted expulsions like this week’s are not uncommon; the Obama administration’s move to expel 35 diplomats in 2016 was made under similar conditions.

Russian Professor Warns of Putin Hit list: ‘It’s Very Cold Warrish’

” … in a KGB universe, a traitor is a traitor and needs to be punished at any cost.”

Australian travellers to Russia warned to brace for possible anti-western sentiment | 1 NEWS NOW | TVNZ

The fallout continues from the poisoning of a former spy in the UK.

Australians in Russia warned to brace for possible ‘anti-western sentiment’ | Australia news | The Guardian

Updated travel advice follows fallout from poisoning of a former spy in the UK and expulsion of two Russian spies from Australia

‘High degree of caution’: Australians in Russia warned of harassment

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade believes there could be a rise in “anti-Western sentiment”.

Russian spy poisoning: Yulia asked if she will speak to Russian envoys | UK | News |

NERVE agent victim Yulia Skripal is to be asked if she will speak to Vladimir Putin’s envoys at her hospital bedside. The request, being considered by the Foreign Office, threatens to put the recovering 33-year-old at the centre of an international propaganda war.

Police investigating claims Russian spy Sergei Skripal’s £1 bag of porridge was poisoned by Yulia’s ‘female pal’

Fears have emerged that spy Sergei Skripal’s breakfast may have been poisoned by a Russian pal of his daughter, Yulia.

Russian nerve agent spy may have been poisoned by his breakfast | Daily Mail Online

Yulia, 33, was asked by Sergei Skripal to bring home his favourite porridge. She forgot and instead asked a friend who was travelling later to buy it instead. Metropolitan Police have questioned the unnamed woman over buckwheat.

Spy manual reveals Russian agents were trained to put poison on doorknobs – Mirror Online

The method of assassination has been labelled a “smoking gun” that points to Moscow’s spies.

Nerve agent attack has violated our city: Skripals at centre of Holy Week | UK news | The Guardian

A feeling of shock in Salisbury has drawn more people to Easter services but is also frightening away tourists.

High-Profile Russian Death In Washington Was No Accident — It Was Murder, Officials Say

The US government ruled Mikhail Lesin’s death an accident, but multiple intelligence and law enforcement officials suspect it was a Russian hit. The government is withholding information, so today BuzzFeed News has filed a lawsuit to pry the records loose.

The Skripal snafu: Whose interests are served by confrontation with Russia? –

Theresa May is pushing a global showdown with Moscow over a shadowy poisoning case. Who stands to gain from this?

Op-Ed: Russian responsibility for Skripal attack is not even plausible

British PM Theresa May insists that there are no other plausible explanations of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal than that Russia was guilty of the crime. However, the evidence has never proved this.

Profile – Ken Hanly – Digital Journal

Digital Journal is a digital media news network with thousands of Digital Journalists in 200 countries around the world. Join us!

The Skripal Case Explained

Here is why the UK insists that Russia is behind the poisoning of an ex spy and his daughter, urging Moscow to admit it all.

Personal | Boris Djuric