Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Another Former Russian Intelligence Officer Poisoned in the UK (30)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The Russian campaign continues unabated, but the “clearly unhelpful”  comment by the head of the Porton Down labs has given them some traction in the media, as taken out of context the Russians have exploited it to the hilt. The UK is now learning the same painful lessons the Ukrainians did in 2014 when arguing with the Russians – poor choices in words can and will be exploited to an advantage, taken out of context, and there is no room for any naivete in this game. While the UK Foreign Office and political leadership understand this well, clearly the memo was not read or understood in the Porton Down head office.

Memo to all UK government agencies: Read up on what happened in Ukraine and make an effort to understand who and what you are dealing with, as these people play by a very different set of rules, regard our culture and values to be inept and naive, and do not take prisoners. They admire the use of force and guile, and disrespect anybody who plays a less forceful and less devious game than they do.

The challenge the UK must deal with now will be the same one the Ukrainians confronted – disunity, naivete, and plain stupidity will be used against the UK by the Russians, and their numerous little (usually well rewarded) helpers in a number of EU nations, and the global media.

Some good observations by Hutchings on the free-for-all nature of the Russian propaganda machine, which explains its capacity to adapt quickly and its ability to bounce back when clobbered.

OPCW meeting sees a typically Russian proposal – Russia should be investigating the attack – as Whitmore pointed out many times, this is the Russian game of “playing fireman while conducting arson”. This works where there are abundant morons prepared to be bamboozled, and there is no shortage of such in Western politics.

Baltic leaders visit DC, meeting with POTUS, with POTUS giving the Russians a warning that they will almost certainly misread and misconstrue. Excellent address on Russia by LtGen McMaster. A disturbing report on the discovery of covertly installed devices for intercepting cellphone traffic in DC – these were used by the Russians extensively in Donbass to very good effect.

Updates on Salisbury and investigation.

Russia takes Salisbury row to The Hague as Putin blasts Britain over Porton Down’s admission about nerve agent attack – Mirror Online

Vladimir Putin seized on the comment by the chief of Porton Down that his lab had not traced deadly Novichok to Russia – branded “clearly unhelpful” by a Tory minister

Russia Says U.K. Is Bluffing Over Spy Poisoning, Calls Emergency Chemical Weapons Meeting

The Russian embassy in London said British accusations of Kremlin involvement “are nothing but assumptions.”

Putin Says Hopes Watchdog Will Help Defuse Diplomatic Row Over Poisonings

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he hopes a meeting of the global chemical weapons watchdog on April 4 will help to defuse a major diplomatic row that arose over the poisoning of a former …

Russia Accuses Britain And US Over ”Grotesque” Spy Poisoning

Russia on Wednesday accused British and US secret services of being behind the poisoning of a Russian former double agent as the world’s chemical weapons watchdog held a closed-door meeting on the incident at Moscow’s request.

Russia: Moscow blasts spy poisoning a ‘UK provocation’ | Daily Star

RUSSIA has blasted the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal a UK provocation and has warned we are entering a new Cold War.

The Latest: Russian spokeswoman mocks Britain’s allegations – Plainview Daily Herald

Russian officials accuse West of fomenting new Cold War – NY Daily News

MOSCOW (AP) — Top Russian defense and security officials are accusing the West of fomenting a new Cold War in a bid to retain waning influence in global affairs.

Russian officials accuse West of fomenting new Cold War – San Francisco Chronicle

APA – Russian foreign intelligence chief says Washington’s system of vassalage has failed

The United States does not take into account the interests of even its closest allies, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service Chief Sergei Naryshkin said at the 7th Moscow Conference on International Security, an APA correspondent reported from Moscow. Washington’s system of vassalage of other countries from the U.S. has failed, noted Naryshkin. He underlined the importance of avoiding the risk of escalating the standoff between Russia and the U.S. to the level of the Cuban Missile Crisis. “It’s important to stop the irresponsible game of raising stakes and to stop the use of force in relations between states, not to bring matters to a second Cuban Missile Crisis,” Naryshkin added.

Russia’s defense chief claims Europe intimidates itself by “non-existent Russian threat” | UNIAN

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu says Europe is intimidating itself by “a non-existent Russian threat.” Shoigu says NATO rejects the Russian Defense Ministry’s proposal to “start a dialogue.”

Russia is experimenting with the future of war | Comment | The Times

The master of reductio ad absurdum diplomacy, Sergey Lavrov, suggests the Salisbury poisoning attack was an attempt to distract a nation from its Brexit misery by deploying the British security services, “known for their abilities to act with a licence to kill”. The Russian foreign minister’s sneer

Russian counter-propaganda exploiting UK weaknesses over spy poisoning | UK news | The Guardian

A diplomatic drive in the UK to corner Russia for the Sergei Skripal poisoning has been set back in the past 24 hours, due in part to self-inflicted wounds – notably Boris Johnson’s loose language – but also to Russia’s ability to keep up a relentless counter-propaganda assault that British ministers seem unable to match. The controversy underlines how rapidly UK intelligence material becomes shop soiled in heated political debates. The chief executive of the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory issued a statement saying samples taken from Skripal and his home had been identified as the military-grade nerve agent novichok. This could have come across as an affirmation of the British position. After all, no country other than Russia is known to have novichok. The idea was to solidify the UK’s case before a meeting of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Wednesday, convened at the request of Russia. Instead the story emerged as a negative – that UK scientists could not state unequivocally that Russia had been the source of the nerve agent. Arguably, it was never the expectation that scientists could reach such a level of certainty. The best British position had been always to say that there was no other plausible explanation for the attack other than Russian involvement, either directly or by their failing to control stocks of nerve agent. Unfortunately for the UK government ministers began to say that overwhelmingly the only explanation was Russian state involvement. In an interview with a German broadcaster, Johnson went further, saying he had personally spoken to scientists at Porton Down and that they had been unequivocal about Russian responsibility. It is possible the government scientists have now backtracked, at least in public, but Johnson has form in making unforced errors in sensitive foreign policy fields, notably in implying that the British-Iranian dual national Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe was working as a journalist in Iran, rather than on holiday, before she was detained. In the case of Skripal it seems likely the foreign secretary overstated or misremembered what Porton Down had told him. But in a battle for world opinion, precision matters. Many EU governments, notably Germany, have gone out on a limb with their own public opinion to back Britain’s case against Russia, so it is critical that the British case is coherent and coherently stated.

We must rethink Russia’s propaganda machine in order to reset the dynamic that drives it – To Inform is to Influence

To understand Russian propaganda, we first have to discard the idea that the Kremlin is in charge of a coordinated media machine acting together with cyber-warriors to attack a single audience. Stephens Hutchings explains why Russian media discourses are much more complicated than often presented. The theme of propaganda dominated much British media coverage of the Skripal…

Russian proposal for joint Salisbury toxin inquiry ‘perverse’: Britain

Russia’s proposal for a joint inquiry into the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England is “perverse”, Britain’s delegation at the global chemical weapons watchdog said on Wednesday during an emergency meeting requested by Moscow.

Salisbury nerve agent attack: ‘Perverse’ call for joint UK-Russian investigation

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons met today at Moscow’s request to discuss the nerve agent attack.

Russian spy: UK brands offer of joint inquiry ‘perverse’ – BBC News

The UK’s comment comes as the global chemical weapons watchdog discusses the attack on ex-spy Skripal.

Chemical Watchdog Meets Amid Showdown Over Ex-Spy’s Poisoning

The showdown between Russia and the West over the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England has shifted to the global chemical weapons watchdog, which is holding a closed-door meeting on the case.

Chemical weapons watchdog OPCW meets over ex-Russian spy attack

Russia’s foreign intelligence agency chief has said it feels like a return to the Cold War era as frosty relations between Russia and the West continue after accusations that Moscow was behind the poisoning of a former Russian spy in England.

Russia and Britain trade barbs at chemical arms watchdog

Russia and Britain faced off Wednesday trading accusations at a tense meeting of the world’s chemical weapons watchdog, as Moscow accused British and US secret services of being behind the poisoning of a Russian former double agent.

Russian poisoned ex spy Sergei Skripal investigation at OPCW: Live updates 2018-4-4 – CBS News

Global chemical weapons watchdog meets to discuss nerve agent attack after Russia suggests UK could have done it themselves

Russia must cooperate with chemical weapons watchdog, says EU | UK news | The Guardian

Moscow told to provide full disclosure to investigation into Salisbury spy poisoning

Russia Accuses U.K., U.S. on Poison Case as EU Backs Britain – Bloomberg

Russia’s spy chief accused the U.K. and the U.S. of poisoning a former double agent to maintain Western unity against Moscow, as the European Union cleaved hard to its support for the British government’s line of blaming the Kremlin for the attack. The nerve-agent attack was a “grotesque provocation” carried out by U.S. and British secret services,” as part of the West’s fight against the “so-called Russian threat,” Sergei Naryshkin, director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, told a security conference in Moscow on Wednesday. The EU has “full confidence in the U.K. investigation” into the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, according to a statement presented Wednesday at a meeting on the case of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague. It’s “imperative” that Russia responds to the U.K.’s “legitimate questions” and starts to cooperate with the OPCW, the EU said in the statement. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May rallied allies in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Canada to conduct coordinated expulsions of more than 150 Russian diplomats last month after she told parliament that it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible for the March 4 attack in the city of Salisbury. Russia, which denies any involvement, retaliated with tit-for-tat expulsions last week.

Chemical watchdog OPCW meets over Skripal nerve agent case | News | DW | 04.04.2018

The world’s chemical weapons watchdog has convened over accusations that Russia carried out a nerve agent attack on an ex-double agent in Britain. Moscow demanded the meeting, saying it wanted to raise issues.

Top German CDU Politician Lambasts Britain for Lack of Evidence in Skripal Case – Sputnik International

Armin Laschet, head of the most populated German state, North Rhine-Westphalia, has criticized the actions of the UK and its foreign supporters in the Skripal poisoning case, reproaching the expulsion of diplomats without sound evidence.

Skripal poisoning: deleted Foreign Office tweet leads to awkward questions | UK news | The Guardian

Boris Johnson under pressure to explain whether position has changed after tweet blaming Moscow is deleted

May battles to preserve alliance against Russia | News | The Times

An ally of Angela Merkel has raised doubts over Britain’s global push to isolate Moscow after the Porton Down defence laboratory could not confirm that the Salisbury nerve agent came from Russia.President Putin also seized on the admission by Gary Aitkenhead, head of the Defence Science and Technolo

Ministers scramble to shore up coalition against Russia | Daily Mail Online

President Vladimir Putin has seized on an admission by the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down laboratory that it cannot prove the Novichok used in Salisbury was made in Russia. Experts say they cannot confirm nerve agent used to poison spy was from Russia Russia has seized upon the claim to throw doubt in Britain’s accusation of blame A British minster has admitted the Porton Down statement is not ‘helpful’ An ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel hinted at wavering support today

Defence experts undermine Boris Johnson claims over source of Salisbury spy attack – ITV News

Read Defence experts undermine Boris Johnson claims over source of Salisbury spy attack latest on ITV News. All the news

Experts can’t confirm nerve agent used to poison spy was from Russia | Daily Mail Online

Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the Porton Down defence laboratory, has said it has ‘not verified the precise source’ of the Novichok nerve agent which poisoned Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

British Lab Not Identified ‘Precise Source’ Of Nerve Agent, But Attack Likely By ‘State Actor’

The chief executive of Britain’s Porton Down defense laboratory says his scientists have not verified the “precise source” of the nerve agent used to poison the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter — explaining that it was not the task of his laboratory to do so.

U.K. Lab Says It Doesn’t Know Nerve Agent’s ‘Precise Source,’ Drawing Russian Retort : The Two-Way : NPR

The lab’s chief added that it only sought to test the chemical used on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, not decide its source. Still, Russia called the remark proof the U.K. is fabricating its claims.

UK military research boss can’t say whether nerve agent was Russian | Business Standard News

Read more about UK military research boss can’t say whether nerve agent was Russian on Business Standard. However, he confirmed the substance required “extremely sophisticated methods to create, something only in the capabilities of a state actor”.

Trump: “We’ve Been Very Tough On Russia”

U.S. President Donald Trump hosted the presidents of the three Baltic states — Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia — at the White House on April 3. Asked about Washington’s stance toward Moscow, Trump responded that “nobody has been tougher on Russia,” but said he that is in favor of “getting along.”

Michael McFaul: Meeting With Putin Will Not Benefit US |

Former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said it is not a bad thing President Donald Trump wants to talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but a White House summit meeting would not benefit the national security interests of the United States.

Experts: Putin-Trump Meeting Is ‘Definitely Going to Happen’

Russian insiders say it’s unlikely Vladimir Putin’s aide would have risked angering his boss unless the invite from the White House was solid.

Trump Says He’s Tough on Russia But Still Wants Good Putin Relationship – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump declared that he’s tough on Russia after expelling 60 of the country’s diplomats this month and raising the U.S. military budget, but that he still wants a good relationship with Vladimir Putin.

US National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster: “Russian Aggression is Strengthening Our Resolve”

Remarks by US National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster at the Atlantic Council in Washington on April 3, 2018. He delivered the keynote address at the event titled, “100 Years of U.S.-Baltic Partnership: Reflecting on the Past and Looking to the Future.”

Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster: The Toughest Man on Russia?

US national security advisor says West has “failed to impose sufficient costs” on Moscow for its aggressive behavior

McMaster blasts Putin in last speech as national security adviser – Axios

“We have failed to impose sufficient costs.”

McMaster Slams Putin, Says ‘We Have Failed to Impose Sufficient Costs’ Against Russia | Mediaite

Outgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster delivered a speech tonight railing against Vladimir Putin and saying the West has “failed to impose

NSA McMaster Blasts Putin to Baltic Leaders |

Outgoing National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Tuesday delivered a blistering denouncement of Vladimir Putin over the Kremlin’s efforts to undermine our values, our institutions, and our way of life.

State Department: Expelled diplomats can be replaced | TheHill

The State Department says that a number of Russian diplomats expelled from a Russian consulate in Washington state could be replaced by other Russian officials, noting that the same is true for a number of American officials recently expelled from

Russia’s new weapon against America threatens our markets | TheHill

Moscow weaponizes everything it can, with energy the next logical battlefield.

Who Is Tracking D.C. Cell Phones? Homeland Security Confirms Finding Surveillance Devices in Washington

The snooping devices are known as ‘Stingrays’ and are typically purchased by law enforcement.

How The Poisoning Of An Ex-Russian Spy Killed Diplomacy

The childish, naive rhetoric from Britain, USA and Russia must end before international peace and stability is put at risk

What the suspected poisoning of Sergei Skripal tells us about Russia | Coffee House

We live in a strange era when it comes to Russia. On the one hand there are people who seem willing to insist that absolutely everything is controlled by…

Russian on Yulia Skripal’s plane investigated | Daily Mail Online

Britain’s spy agencies have red-flagged an individual who arrived at Heathrow on the Russian state-owned Aeroflot flight AFL2570 from Moscow that landed at 2.32pm on Saturday, March 3. Britain’s spies investigate Russian who flew on same plane as Yulia Skripal Person travelled on Russian state-owned Aeroflot flight AFL2570 from Moscow Senior Whitehall source said individual has been identified as ‘person of interest’

Skripal family call to make clear what happened to his beloved pets | Daily Mail Online

Viktoria Skripal, 45, who aims to travel to Britain soon to see her stricken relatives, says reports that her uncle and his daughter were hit with a lethal nerve agent while at home are ‘nonsense’.

Salisbury attack sites face months of decontamination | UK news | The Guardian

Police to focus on places visited by Sergei and Yulia Skripal as Russia accuses UK of trying to distract from Brexit