Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Another Former Russian Intelligence Officer Poisoned in the UK / Syrian CW Attack (38)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Russia is under siege on a low-level strategic scale. Russia considers itself literally under attack in Syria, it already evacuated all its ships from their port in Latakia. Russia is in a full-scale information and diplomatic war over Colonel Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. Russia is still engaged with Ukraine in a low-level war, which has drawn the ire of much of the world, resulting in damaging sanctions. As bad as North Korea is, the Norks are being treated better than Russia.  One of Putin’s closest advisors, Vladislav Surkov, just published a piece stating that Russia faces several hundred years of isolation.   

Of note, China has offered to cover Russia’s back. To judge how effective that support is, during a recent Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) vote at the UN, China chose to abstain rather than back Russia. 

In many ways, Russia is the laughing stock of the world, especially as a result of their chaotic propaganda assaults against the West. Simultaneously, Russia is being considered rogue, a bully, and an ill-behaved brat – in diplomatic channels and by the press. 

Russia now needs Secretary Clinton’s famous reset button, but it can only come via Russian actions backed with words. Russia should attempt to recover their dignity, embrace an apologetic attitude and use actions supported and backed with words to shore up its meaning. 

Does Russia, more importantly, does Vladimir Putin recognize this as his personal dilemma?  Should he apologize, can he, will he? Does a Russian man have the capacity to feel humbled and ask for help? …or will his machismo cause Russia to act overly aggressive? 

</end editorial>



Russian propaganda effort against the UK sinks deeper into the gutter, by the day – much the pattern observed with Ukraine in 2014, while Pastukhov argues most of the propaganda tactics have been used with earlier Russian assassinations. Propaganda around Syria is more about producing domestic hysteria over the impending conflict with the US, which will no doubt be averted at the very last moment by the heroic Vozhd [Fuhrer], always sacrificing himself for the Motherland. Some good observations by Shelin on Russia’s absence of exit strategies, Solovey on some truly bizarre thinking in Muscovy, and some other interesting tidbits.

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issues its report validating the UK analysis of a Novichok agent, apparently of high purity – the import of this is that it was produced by somebody who does know what they are doing, ruling out most of the Russian diversionary claims. Metropolitan Police release a public statement on behalf of Yulia Skripal, declining Russian consular assistance, and politely asking her cousin to mind her own business. Head of GCHQ comments on Russian behavior.

On Syria, POTUS puts out another tweet that will confuse the Russians. France says they have proof a chemical attack was conducted in Syria, sinking the Russian disinformation campaign. UK and France discussing with US what happens next. Russia plays the hysteria game for its domestic audience, declaring VKS and V-MF alerts, sorting surface combatants from Tartus. Concurrently, the Moscow Times reports the General Staff in Moscow is negotiating with the US for early warning so Russian personnel can be extracted from Syrian sites to be hit. Much speculation by media and analysts on what will be hit in Syria, and what capabilities will be used.

To strip the Assad regime of its CW capability will require considerable effort – not just destroying facilities and warstocks, but also fixed and rotary wing air assets, supporting personnel and basing infrastructure, as well as long range tube and rocket artillery capabilities. The regime will be challenged to survive if it loses these assets – there will be limits to what hardware Russia can replace quickly, as there will be limits to how many mercenaries Russia and Iran can quickly supply to replace losses, noting that these mercenaries will answer to masters outside Damascus.


Queen Elizabeth is Russia’s new biggest target in its information war with Britain | Business Insider

Russia is locked in an information war with Britain over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal. Over the past few days, Kremlin-backed media outlets have started taking potshots at Queen Elizabeth, even though she has nothing to do with the Skripal case. Russian state TV aired segments over the weekend accusing Her Majesty of drinking too much, and trying to associate her with the death of Skripal’s pets. Skripal’s guinea pigs were found dead and his cat, Nash van Drake, was put down after weeks of neglect.

Queen Elizabeth is Russia’s new biggest target in its information war with Britain – To Inform is to Influence

Russia is sinking to entirely new lows, without scruples, without conscience, and without honor. Worse, yet, is Russia is behaving badly without consequence. </end editorial> Russia is locked in an information war with Britain over the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal. Over the past few days, Kremlin-backed media outlets have started taking potshots at Queen…

Russian TV Crew Slammed for Sneaking Into Skripal Hospital | Entertainment News | US News

LONDON (AP) — The British hospital treating poisoned spy Sergei Skripal says a Russian TV crew that sneaked into the facility is guilty of “appalling behavior.”

Russian TV thrown out of Salisbury hospital after trying to undermine spy assassination attempt claims

A Russian TV crew has been thrown out of the hospital where former spy Sergei Skripal is still receiving treatment, after attempting to cast doubt on the nerve agent scandal.

Russian TV reporter sneaks into Salisbury hospital where Sergei Skripal is being treated – finds nothing and is asked to leave | The Independent

A Russian TV reporter walked into the hospital where former double agent Sergei Skripal is being treated for poisoning by a nerve agent. He then roamed corridors before being asked to leave by security. The crew, from one of Russia’s most prominent networks, REN TV, entered Salisbury District Hospital in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Russian Embassy Casts Doubt on Skripal Statement | Newsmax.com

Russian Embassy Casts Doubt on Skripal Statement

POISON TONGUE | Polonium ‘poisoner’ Andrey Lugovoy warns Sergei and Yulia Skripal’s lives are in danger in Britain amid Moscow claims they’ve been ‘kidnapped’

Lugovy says the Skripals may have undergone a form of brainwashing in Britain

How Putin is bamboozling the West — again – CNN

Russia’s master of asymmetrical warfare has an array of patches for any holes in Vladimir Putin’s strategies.

UAWire – Russia’s Channel One takes its interview with former head of Pentagon off the air

Vladimir Pozner’s interview with Former United States Secretary of Defense William Perry was taken off the air. According to Pozner, the program would eventually air but he did not specify when that would happen, Meduza reports. The program was scheduled to be aired on April 9 according to an announcement on Pozner’s website. The announcement has since been deleted but a cached copy was saved in Google’s search engine. Pozner’s explanation was that the management of Channel One decided the program would cause discord, given that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was accused of bombing civilians with chemical weapons. Western countries accused al-Assad’s troops of using chemical weapons against the civilian population in the city of Douma, near Damascus. On April 7, several human rights organizations stated that Syrian helicopters dropped bombs with sarin or chlorine on the city. An estimated 40 to 70 people died. Both Syria and Russia said the accusations were lies. William Perry was the United States Secretary of Defense in 1994 to 1997 under the administration of then-US President Bill Clinton.

Russia Reins In War Talk as U.S. Strike Looms – Bloomberg

Russians were being fed a steady diet of war preparations earlier this week, with one report on state TV even advising on how long canned goods would last in a bomb shelter.

Russian foreign ministry: U.S “smart missiles” should target terrorists

The Russian Foreign Ministrysaid on Wednesday that U.S. “smart missiles” should be aimed atterrorists, and not at the Syrian government, as it commented onU.S. President Donald Trump’s warning of a missile strike inSyria.

The Latest: Kremlin says it doesn’t do Twitter diplomacy | Miami Herald

The Kremlin spokesman has commented on President Donald Trump’s tweet warning of an imminent missile strike on Syria by saying that Moscow doesn’t engage in Twitter diplomacy.

Russia Pumps Up The Propaganda – To Inform is to Influence

The Russian Foreign Ministry pushed out a link to a Cont.ws article today. Cont.ws is a reliable free for all blog that will publish anything without regard for truthfulness, accuracy, fairness, objectiveness, fairness, or facts.  The Russian Foreign Ministry can these to publish a link of pure propaganda, pure fiction, and then claim plausible deniability.  “It…

Defending Assad, Russia Cries ‘Fake News’ – The Atlantic

In this war, truth itself is a battleground.

US-Russia tensions build as Moscow hits back at Trump’s Twitter threat | World news | The Guardian

Trump tells Russia to ‘get ready’ for US missiles fired at Syria – which Russia has vowed to shoot down

Doomsday grocery set: Russian media prepare citizens for bunker survival | UNIAN

A propaganda-wielding Rossiya24 TV channel compiled a list of groceries and necessities that Russians might need to survive in bomb shelters or bunkers at the time of war. People should have in store as much water as possible and not get crazy about sweets, a TV host told Russians.

Ruble falls after Trump tweet raises stakes with Russia over Syria

Russia’s currency is also under heavy pressure following fresh sanctions last week.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Strategy has Come Back to Haunt Him, Shelin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 11 – Vladimir Putin has succeeded up to now by opening a variety of fronts and thus keeping his opponents at home and abroad off balance, Sergey Shelin says; but now the Kremlin leader faces more conflicts than he has the resources to respond to, and what was once a winning strategy is rapidly becoming a dangerous liability. The Rosbalt commentator says that the Kremlin has gotten involved in “too many fronts,” has “too few resources,” and “absolutely no friends,” a situation that has prompted Putin to talk about the use of nuclear “wonder weapons” not as a last resort “but as the only one” (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/04/10/1695422.html). And this “effort in the terrible and multi-polar world of the 21st century to conduct oneself as a super-power like the Soviet Union was at the peak of its power cannot lead to anything else,” a truly frightening indication of where Russia now is but of what its leaders do not completely understand. Many in the political elite are quite willing to engage in the abstract speculation of Vladislav Surkov and his post-2014 world, Shelin says; but about the realities of the current situation, “the bosses know much less than about [this] abstract ‘geopolitical loneliness’ which it has been happy to impose on the country for several centuries ahead.” All too many conflicts with the West are passing “into a new stage or already have done so.” The problem the Kremlin faces is that it can’t be sure what issue has driven the US to impose sanctions or whether as is more likely all of them feed on each other. If it were otherwise, Moscow would have an easier time responding as was the case in the wake of Crimea. But there is a further problem, Shelin points out. “Sanctions are only one of the hits which the sides are in a disorderly fashion striking out against each other.” He says he won’t even discuss possible counter-measures when it comes to the economy because of the difference in size of the two. Any Russian move in that sphere would only make things worse for Russia “A complete economic boycott of Russia is possible in response not so much to potential economic counter-sanctions,” he says, “but rather in the event of a sharpening of conflicts on all fronts. And it is precisely that which is taking place today.” As for the Skripal case, the Kremlin has utterly failed to see that this is not some marginal affair but “the heaviest of foreign policy failures” and that while it might have been able to pick up the pieces earlier, “it does not have” such possibilities now especially since then case is “resonating” with Russian actions in Syria and the use of chemical weapons there. Shelin argues that “the participation of government and non-governmental contingents in a foreign war conducted in the interests of Iran. Hezbollah and Asad is not explicable in the language of rational politics.” And it has only further isolated Russia without allowing it to gain anything of lasting value. No country is going to be willing to take any risks on Russia’s behalf given how its leadership has been behaving. “Not Belarus and not Kazakhstan, who on paper are its best friends and military partners but in practice are neutral. And what is the main thing, not China either.” Beijing in its new role of “elder brother” may be willing to abstain at the UN on resolutions Moscow doesn’t like, but there is no reason to expect any serious military help or defense from it.” And still worse, Shelin says, “Moscow now will depend on Beijing still more strongly” than it did in the past. “That is completely obvious.”

 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Five Truly Terrifying Messages of Russian Propaganda This Week

Paul Goble Staunton, April 11 – Valery Solovey, an MGIMO professor and commentator, says on his Facebook page (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2056077931329249&id=100007811864378) that in this week’s rapidly changing environment, the five most important messages Russian propaganda is delivering are the following: 

  1. The West has unleashed economic war against Russia and Russia will respond by moving toward a mobilization economy. 
  2. The West supports terrorists in Syria and provokes and exacerbates military tensions on Russia’s borders. Russia must intensively prepare a military response. 
  3. This prewar situation requires the patriotic unification of the nation. Ideological vacillations and the political opposition are becoming treason to the Motherland. 
  4. The West is cowardly, morally dissolute, and psychologically weak. In a critical situation, it will retreat in the face of our toughness and of the first-class Russian military machine. 
  5. They have lied to us about nuclear war. British scholars have shown that it will not lead to the end of humanity and that in it a winning side is possible. 

To the extent that Solovey has summarized the Kremlin’s current messages, the world is far closer to war than anyone could have thought possible only weeks ago. And it has only become more so because neither the top leaders of the Russian Federation nor those in the United States have direct experience with war. As a result, each side is more likely to rush up to the brink for various reasons foreign and domestic and be unwilling to back down lest it appear weak, a recipe for disaster if neither Vladimir Putin nor Donald Trump understands just how easily a conflict could get out of hand and how truly horrific a nuclear war would be. Despite what the Kremlin is messaging and despite what some may be inclined to believe, there will not be any winners in a nuclear war, only those who have died and those who are yet to.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Is the Enemy of My Enemy My Friend? Russians Hate Both Oligarchs and America

Paul Goble Staunton, April 11 – The imposition of sanctions by the United States on Russian oligarchs puts many Russians in difficult if intriguing situation. They dislike both the oligarchs and the United States, and thus with one “enemy” attacking another, they have to ask themselves “what should be done?” On the one hand, Russian commentator Ivan Lapin says, they have every reason to hate the Americans more for attacking “our Russian people” and taking away their money. Thus, “beat the Americans and support our guys!” But on the other, those the Americans are attacking are in no way beloved by the Russian people (publizist.ru/blogs/4796/24450/-). Thus, some Russians are in fact forced t ask themselves whether they ought to be sympathetic to what the American are doing given that at one level at least they are taking down a group many Russians would like to see cut down to size, Lapin continues. More importantly, this puts the Russian authorities in a bind, he says. They would like to mobilize people on the basis of patriotic anger about foreigners “’beating our people.’” But as the Khodorkovsky case showed, Russians aren’t inclined to stand up for oligarchs: there was not a single public demonstration backing him. But in the very worst position are the oligarchs themselves, Lapin suggests. “Never before have they looked so helpless and idiotic.” And consequently, it may even be that “as a result of all this, Trump comes out for some as the best friend of the Russian people” given his willingness to pursue “the enemies of the Russian people.” “Marvelous are Thine Ways, O Lord!” Lapin concludes.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Not East or West, Russia Alone is Best, Surkov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 10 – Putin advisor Vladislav Surkov argues that 2014 marked the end of a 400-year period in which Russia tried to become part of the West, an era that followed a 400-year effort to become part of the East, and that now, having being rejected or unable to fit into either, the country must be ready for a century or more of proud isolation. The annexation of Crimea, he writes in the new issue of Russia in Global Affairs, marked “the completion of an epic journey of Russia to the West and the end of numerous and fruitless attempts to become part of Western civilization and join ‘the good family’ of European peoples” (globalaffairs.ru/global-processes/Odinochestvo-polukrovki-14-19477). By 2013, it had become evident to everyone that Russia was not going to become part of the West or be accepted by it, Surkov says, some argued that the country should turn to the East. But “there is no need for that and here is why: because Russia was already there,” the East over the course of four centuries before it turned to the West. “And so,” he continues, “Russia for four centuries went toward the east and then another four centuries toward the West. In neither place did it put down roots. Both paths were traversed. And now the ideologies of the third path, the third type of civilization, the third world, and the third Rome will be required.” But Russians are hardly a third civilization, Surkov says. Rather it is “both European and Asiatic at one and the same time and not completely either.” As a result, “our cultural and geopolitical membership recalls the wandering identity of an individual born in a mixed marriage.” Such an individual is “everywhere a relative and nowhere really family. His own among aliens and an alien among his own. Someone who understands everyone but is not understood by anyone. A half-blood, a metis, something strange.” “Russia is an east-west half-breed country. With its two-headed statehood, hybrid mentality, inter-continental territory, and bipolar history it as begins a half-breed is charismatic, talented, beautiful and alone,” the Kremlin advisor says. Russia has no real allies except those it can create for itself by itself. What this third stage of Russian history will lead to, he continues, “will depend on us.” Loneliness doesn’t mean complete isolation. Unlimited openness is also important. Both the one and the other would be a repetition of the errors of the past. But the future will have its own errors; it won’t do to have the errors of the past as well.” “Beyond any doubt, Russia will trade, attract investment, exchange knowledge, fight (war is also a means of communication), take part in collaborations, be a member of organizations, compete and cooperate, generate fear and hatred, curiosity, sympathy and adoration.” But Russians must do that “without false goals and self-denial.” It must proceed relying on itself alone.

OPCW Issues Report on Technical Assistance Requested by the United Kingdom

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — 12 April 2018 — The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) transmitted yesterday to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) the report of the OPCW’s mission to provide requested technical assistance in regard to the Salisbury incident on 4 March 2018. The results of the analysis by the OPCW designated laboratories of environmental and biomedical samples collected by the OPCW team confirm the findings of the United Kingdom relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in Salisbury and severely injured three people.The UK’s delegation to the OPCW requested that the Technical Secretariat share the report with all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and to make the Executive Summary of the report publicly available. The Director-General, Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü, thanked the four OPCW designated laboratories that supported the technical assistance request for their swift and thorough analysis. Background The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland requested technical assistance from the OPCW Technical Secretariat, under subparagraph 38(e) of Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, in relation to an incident in Salisbury on 4 March 2018 involving a toxic chemical—allegedly a nerve agent—and the poisoning and hospitalisation of three individuals. The OPCW team worked independently and is not involved in the national investigation by the UK authorities. No State Party was involved in the technical work carried out by the Technical Secretariat. OPCW designated laboratories are a lynchpin of the Organisation’s verification regime and its capacity to investigate allegations of the use of chemical weapons. They must be able to perform off-site analysis of chemical samples collected by OPCW inspectors from chemical production facilities, storage depots and other installations, or from the site of an alleged use of chemical weapons. These laboratories offer the necessary assurance to our States Parties that chemical analyses needed to make determinations or to clarify issues occurring during OPCW deployments are carried out competently, impartially, and with unambiguous results. As the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, the OPCW oversees the global endeavour to permanently and verifiably eliminate chemical weapons. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1997 – and with its 192 States Parties – it is the most successful disarmament treaty eliminating an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. Over ninety-six per cent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by possessor States have been destroyed under OPCW verification. For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.

Summary of the Report on Activities Carried Out in Support of a Request for Technical Assistance by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Technical Assistance Visit TAV/02/18)

S/1612/2018 12 April 2018 Original: ENGLISH NOTE BY THE TECHNICAL SECRETARIAT SUMMARY OF THE REPORT ON ACTIVITIES CARRIED OUT IN SUPPORT OF A REQUEST FOR TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE BY THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND (TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE VISIT TAV/02/18)

OPCW Inspectors Confirm U.K. Findings In Spy Poisoning

The global chemical-weapons watchdog has confirmed Britain’s analysis of the type of toxic chemical used in the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and his daughter.

The Chemical Weapons Watchdog Has Confirmed Novichok Was Used In The Salisbury Spy Poisoning

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has backed up UK findings that the substance that hospitalised Sergei and Yulia Skripal was from the novichok family of nerve agents.

‘Pure’ Novichok used in Skripal attack, watchdog confirms – CNN

A UN watchdog has confirmed the UK’s findings that Novichok was used to target the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter.

Poison used on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury attack was novichok nerve agent, confirms chemical weapons watchdog | The Independent

Former MI6 spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned using a novichok nerve agent, the international chemical weapons watchdog has confirmed. The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons made the announcement in an executive summary of its findings. The organisation was called in to carry out an independent investigation into the poisoning of the pair in Salisbury.

Statement issued on behalf of Yulia Skripal – Metropolitan Police

Statement on behalf of Yulia Skripal, who continues to receive police support following her release from hospital

Yulia Skripal Issues Statement, Declines Help From Russian Embassy : The Two-Way : NPR

The 33-year-old daughter of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, both of whom were poisoned by a rare nerve agent, also pushed back on public comments made by an outspoken cousin in Russia.

Yulia Skripal rejects Russian help to recover from poison attack | Euronews

The daughter of the ex-Russian spy suffering from a nerve agent attack wants to be left alone

Yulia Skripal rebuffs cousin, Russian help – CNN

Yulia Skripal, one of the victims of the nerve agent attack in the English city of Salisbury in March, has told her cousin to stay out of her and her father’s affairs and told Russia she doesn’t need its help.

‘I AM SUFFERING’ | Poisoned ex-spy’s daughter Yulia Skripal reveals her nerve agent health battle as she rejects Russia’s help

Yulia Skripal reveals her nerve agent health battle and says her poisoned spy dad Sergei Skripal is ‘seriously ill’ as she rejects Russia’s help

Yulia Skripal tells Russia to leave her alone after leaving hospital | Business Insider

Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned along with her father with Russian nerve agent, doesn’t want the help of the Russian government. In a statement, the 33-year-old rejected Russia’s offers of assistance. She also distanced herself from her cousin Viktoria, who has spread conspiracies over the nerve agent attack.

I don’t need any help from the Russian embassy – Yulia Skripal | UK news | The Guardian

Salisbury poisoning victim says she is not ready to talk publicly, and urges her cousin to stay away

Yulia Skripal: No-one speaks for me – BBC News

The poisoned daughter of Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, rejects Russian help “at the moment”.

Poisoned Ex-Spy’s Daughter Refuses Help From Russian Embassy: UK

Yulia Skripal, who was poisoned in England last month along with her Russian ex-spy father, has refused consular assistance from the Russian embassy, a British foreign ministry spokesman said.

Yulia Skripal reportedly turns down help from the Russians despite claim she was ‘abducted’

Yulia Skripal has reportedly refused assistance from the Russians since waking up in hospital, as her home country claims Britain has &quot;abducted&quot; her.

Poisoned spy’s daughter Yulia Skripal ‘fears she was betrayed by fiancé who she’ll never see again’ – Mirror Online

Yulia, 33, was released from hospital on Monday after spending weeks in a critical condition following the poisoning of her and her father Sergei on March 4

EXC: Yulia Skripal fears she was betrayed by fiancé in poison attack | Daily Mail Online

Yulia Skripal is in turmoil over fears that she was betrayed by her own fiancé in the nerve agent attack – and fears she may never see him again, MailOnline can reveal.

Skripal home’s paving slabs removed as attacker may have spilled poison | Daily Mail Online

Sergei Skripal’s front path has been dug up amid fears that the would-be assassins spilled traces of the poison as it was daubed on the door handle, MailOnline has learnt.

Ex-spy poisoning shows how reckless Russia is: UK spy chief

The poisoning of a former Russian double agent in Britain with a nerve agent last month shows “how reckless Russia is prepared to be”, the head of Britain’s GCHQ spy agency said on Thursday in a scathing attack on the Kremlin.

Nerve Agent Attack Shows Russia Is ‘Reckless,’ U.K. Spy Chief Says – The New York Times

Jeremy Fleming made the rare public comment about the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal just before a monitoring group confirmed that a military-grade nerve agent had been used.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: In Skripal Case, Kremlin Following Procedures It Used for Earlier Political Murders, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 10 – At first glance, Vladimir Pastukhov says, Moscow’s approach to the Skripal scandal appears “irrational and inadequate, in fact, the Kremlin is acting precisely according to ‘a protocol’ developed earlier” following the political murders of Politkovskaya, Nemtsov, Magnitsky and Litvinenko. And precisely because it has refined its approach over time, the UK-based Russian historian argues, the Russian leadership is better positioned to win out against those who treat each new crime as sui generis rather than part and parcel of a larger strategy (republic.ru/posts/90376). “If one considers the response of Russia to each of these events not in isolation but taken together,” Pastukhov says, “then it is possible to make up a system consisting of several fundamental elements” that have not changed very much either in substance or in order of application from one case to the next. First of all, “whatever happens, Moscow begins with a declaration about the Kremlin’s lack of motive to commit a political murder.” It insists that those who were killed were no threat and therefore not targets. But in reality “in each of these cases, the Kremlin had motives to commit the crime from revenge or in order to conceal the traces of another crime.” This Kremlin tactic works because normal people “cannot imagine that a civilized country which at one time aspired to the role of a superpower could conduct itself in such a barbarous fashion.” Then, Pastukhov continues, because it often happens that these political murders happen at “the most unsuitable moment for the Kremlin” such as before the Olympics or the World Cup, the Kremlin insists that the Russians have no interest in committing such a crime because “we are not mad.” Indeed, Kremlin propagandists are the first to point out all the reasons Moscow would have not to kill this or that individual at this or that time. But “Moscow does not have any real restraining counter-motives.” The pragmatists in the Kremlin “who understand perfectly that as a result of one Skripal or even ten of them no one is going to begin a nuclear war against Russia.” Sanctions and especially personal ones against businessmen the Kremlin can live with because those Western actions will force these people to repatriate their money and allow the regime to “milk” them for its own purposes, the historian continues. Third, “Moscow knows that it is extremely difficult for Western democracies to remain at a state of mobilized readiness. Time cures any problem, and therefore, dragging out a conflict at any price” even at the cost of embarrassment “is the most important technology” because “a lie repeated often enough has a chance to become a legend.” Moreover, Pastukhov says, “after emotions cool, the allies of Russia in the Western establishment (and there are many of them) will find it easier to apply the brakes,” especially since what the Kremlin invariably seeks is not a complete return to the status quo ante but moderation in any punishment. Fourth, in every case, he continues, the Kremlin will “imitate hysterics” primarily to consolidate its domestic audience. The vulgar remarks of foreign ministry spokesperson Mariya Zakharova are addressed more to those Russians who read her blog on Ekho Moskvy than to foreign diplomats in Moscow who may report what she says to their governments. Fifth, the Russian side in every case “without exception” prepares “alternative versions” of the crime in order to confuse the situation and provide its backers with ammunition against others. When the murder is within Russia’s jurisdiction, Moscow can even orchestrate a court case based on these alternative versions and ensure convictions. Sixth, Moscow invariably seeks access to the investigations of other governments even though it is a suspect. That not only allows it to offer a version of events which is more plausible than it could if it did not know what the police do but also to present itself as a searcher after truth rather than a suspect. And seventh, Pastukhov continues, to achieve all these ends, it engages in provocative actions that would seem to be self-revelatory but in fact often prove to be a form of self-defense by distracting attention from what is really going on or confusing others about Moscow’s real intentions and role. All these things are in fact a reflection of what is a war of nerves between the British government in the case of the Skripal case and the Russian authorities. If London understands what Moscow is doing – and Pastukhov implies that it understands more than some other capitals – then Moscow may have to blink first. But the Russians have learned that they can ride out almost any crime no matter how heinous or how obvious their guilt, the historian says; and that knowledge almost certainly means there will be more such crimes and most such applications of this “protocol” after them in the future.

Trump Says Syria Attack ‘Could Be Very Soon Or Not So Soon At All’

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter that an attack on Syria “could be very soon or not so soon at all!”

 

Trump: Syria Attack Could Be ‘Very Soon’ or ‘Not Soon at All’

White House has said Trump is considering striking Syria with missiles as one option to retaliate for the latest alleged chemical attack blamed on Syria’s government forces

Trump: I never said when attack on Syria would take place | TheHill

President Trump stressed in a tweet early Thursday that he never said when an attack on Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack would happen, adding it could be “soon or not so soon at all!”

Syria ‘chemical attack’: France’s President Macron ‘has proof’ – BBC News

The French president says he will decide “in due course” whether to sign off on missile strikes.

Macron: France has proof Syria’s Assad regime behind chemical weapons attack – Syria – Haaretz.com

Germany will not join any military strikes against the Syrian government in response to a poison gas attack

Syria: France and UK prepare to back US air strikes – CNN

Assad warns the West against attacking Syria as Trump’s international allies make preparations to join the US in any military action against the regime.

Russia alerts air defense forces – 112.international

These actions are connected to a possible U.S. missile strike on Syria. Russia has alerted its air defense forces, military intelligence and strike troops of the Armed Forces. This was reported by the chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee Vladimir Shamanov, reports Echo of Moscow. According to Shamanov, these actions are connected to a possible missile strike by the United States in Syria. Earlier this day, the Russian Armed Forces General Staff announced the deployment of military police in the Syrian city of Douma in Eastern Ghouta, which suffered from a chemical attack.

MiG-31BM and Su-27 fighters redeployed at operational airfields in the south of Russia – Defence Blog

More than 15 MiG-31BM and Su-27 fighter jets redeployed from home stations in the Tver region to operational airfields in the Astrakhan region in the south of Russia within the combat readiness inspection, the country’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced. During the execution of combat missions, the crews of high-altitude fighters completed the accelerated preparation of combat vehicles for take-off and made pair synchronous take-offs. All this took them no more than 20 minutes. The flight personnel have received their flight tasks and started navigational calculations which are then put into the flight computers of aircraft.

Russia asked Iran to provide access to deploy its heavy bombers in Hamedan – Defence Blog

Russian media with reference to Iranian dissident and defence expert Babak Taghvaee, reported that Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) had officially asked Iran to provide access to deploy its heavy bombers in Hamedan Air Base. According to report, Russin MoD asked Iranian government to provide access to the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force’s 3rd Tactical Fighter Base in Hamedan to deploy its heavy bombers (probably Tu-22M3 or Tu-95MS), Il-78 tankers & use it as refueling point for fighter jets which are planned to be deployed to Syria soon. The deployment of Russian combat aircraft in Iran is possible against the background of escalated tensions in Syria. It is worth noting that Russian heave bombers operating from Engels and Modzok airbases in southwestern Russia, the aircraft had to cover a distance close to 3,000 km. Russia could deploy it’s bombers to the Hamadan airfield in Iran to cut flight times, increase bomb capacity and improve response capabilities of its aircraft. On August 15 in 2016, an undisclosed number of the Tupolev Tu-22M3s and the Sukhoi Su-34s were already deployed at Hamadan, but after Russians deliberately leaked pictures of their bombers in the base, they were forced to leave.

UAWire – Russia puts its air defense forces in combat readiness state

Russia has put its air defense and reconnaissance troops as well as strike units of the Armed Forces in high readiness state, reported by Ekho Moskvy, citing as a source the head of the State Duma Defense Committee Vladimir Shamanov. According to him, a possible missile attack by the United States on Syria is what prompted these actions. Earlier on the same day, the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces announced the deployment of military police to the Syrian city of Douma in East Ghouta, which was affected by the chemical attack. The day before, American planes carried out reconnaissance at Russian bases in Syria. In addition, according to Turkish media, a U.S. Navy destroyer equipped with 56 Tomahawk cruise missiles is located 100 km from the Russian naval base in Tartus. According to the French media, it is accompanied by the multi-purpose French Navy missile frigate Aquitaine. A German frigate is also not far from Syria’s shores.

UAWire – Russian warships to conduct military exercises near Syria

According to the international notification for aviation personnel (NOTAM) and navigational warnings for seafarers, the Russian Navy will conduct exercises near the coast of Syria. An area along the Syrian coast in the Mediterranean Sea will be closed for firing exercises that will be conducted by the Russian fleet. It will be closed on April 11-12, 17-19 and 25-26 from 10 am to 6 pm Moscow time. According to Interfax, as part of the permanent operational group of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea, there are about 15 warships and vessels of the Black Sea Fleet, including the frigates Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen – which are armed with Kalibr cruise missiles – and submarines, which repeatedly struck at terrorists in Syria. On April 7, a chemical attack was made in the rebel-controlled city of Douma in East Ghouta, which killed at least 70 people. United States President Donald Trump said that there would be a “big price to pay” for the chemical attack, and the U.S. State Department holds Russia responsible. In connection with this, the U.S. Navy missile destroyer USS Donald Cook, equipped with 60 Tomahawk missiles, left port in Cyprus and sailed to a location near the Syrian city of Tartus. According to The Wall Street Journal, a second U.S. Navy missile destroyer, USS Porter, will also join the USS Donald Cook, but, according to experts, it will not arrive in the Eastern Mediterranean before April 16.

UAWire – Russian warships leave Tartus naval base as US prepares to strike Assad

Russian ships have left the Syrian port of Tartus, according to the satellite images that have been published today by Image Satellite International (ISI). One of the images taken earlier shows at least seven ships docked in the port. The image taken today shows no ships. According to ISI only one Kilo-class submarine remained in the port. Among the ships that have left the port are frigate Admiral Grigorovich which is equipped with Kalibr cruise missiles, Ropucha landing ship, cargo ship Inzhener Trubin. The worships have reportedly been deployed off the Syrian coast to provide defense against the possible US strikes. It has been reported that the Navy flotilla has been placed into a full combat readiness state. Its air defense systems are active and connected to land based radars and air defense systems. Ships are in the positions for optimal coverage of the Syrian coast. The information has been later confirmed by Alexei Kondratyev, deputy head of the Upper House Defense Committee. According to him, in addition to land based air defense systems, Russian Navy will also be involved in fending off any possible missile attacks. Information on a chemical attack by the Syrian Air Force came out on the night before Sunday, April 8. At least 70 people were killed in the attack. The Syrian Foreign Ministry denied that Damascus was involved in the attack. Donald Trump accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of using chemical weapons, and promised Assad that he would pay a “high price” for it. Trump also reiterated that Russia and Iran are also responsible, as they have supported the Syrian regime.

Russian missile brigade alerted as part of readiness examination – Defence Blog

Russia’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 11 April that the Missile brigade, that operating Iskander mobile short-range ballistic missile system, alerted as part of readiness examination in Jewish Autonomous Oblast. According to the MoD’s announce, as part of the complex examination for the winter training period, units of the missile brigade stationed in the Jewish Autonomous Oblast, Eastern Military District, have been alerted. Missile units are conducting a march to the assigned areas under electronic warfare conditions.

Russia Seeks Advanced Warning of U.S. Airstrikes in Syria, Media Reports

The Russian military has reportedly asked the United States to provide the coordinates of expected airstrike targets in Syria following a U.S. threat to retaliate for an alleged chemical weapons attack in the country. The White House said that no decisions had been made on military actions in Syria as U.S. President Donald Trump’s 48-hour deadline passed on Wednesday, when he warned Russia to “get ready” for U.S. missiles in Syria. Moscow has reportedly been in direct contact with the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff about the situation in Syria following Trump’s threat, the head of a Russian parliamentary defense committee told media on Wednesday. The Russian military expects the U.S. to provide the coordinates of its potential targets to avoid losses among Russian servicemen in Syria, the Kommersant business daily reported Thursday, citing anonymous sources in Russia’s Defense Ministry. The Russian military said on Wednesday that it was closely monitoring the situation around Syria and was aware of the movements of a U.S. naval force in the area. Russia’s S-400 and Pantsir-S1 air defense systems deployed in Syria “should not come under fire, otherwise the consequences will be catastrophic,” defense ministry sources told Kommersant. Calling the suspected chemical attack in Douma last weekend “staged,” a Russian Foreign Ministry source cited by the daily said that Syrian President Bashar Assad would not cross the Western “red line” against the use of chemical weapons. “Why would he do this when most of the country’s territory is already under his control?” the source asked as the Russian military announced that the Syrian government had restored full control over Douma.

Trump will reportedly warn Russia in advance where in Syria the US will strike | Business Insider

A Russian newspaper reports that President Donald Trump is planning to tip off Russia’s military before launching any attacks. The US tries hard to avoid killing Russians in Syria, despite the president’s recent hostile rhetoric toward Moscow. Russia is Syria’s ally but does not approve of all of its behaviour. Moscow seems willing to let the US hit some Syrian targets as punishment for suspected chemical weapons use. Experts say it’s possible for the US to hit Syrian targets while dodging Russian troops and avoiding a major escalation.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian and US Forces Still Working to Keep Situation in Syria Under Control, Golts and Zolotaryev Say

Paul Goble Staunton, April 12 – Despite the panic and hysteria in the media, Aleksandr Golts and Pavel Zolotaryev say, the Russian and American military commands in Syria continue to cooperate to ensure that any attack by one side against Syrian targets will not lead to the loss of life by soldiers of the other country. Their judgment came in a Current Time television program today hosted by Timur Olevsky (currenttime.tv/a/29159844.html). Zolotaryev, deputy director of the Moscow Institute of the USA and Canada and a retired major general, says that “American military personnel who constantly coordinate their actions with the Russians just as the Russians do with the Americans on the territory of Syria have taken all measures” so that any American strike will not inflict casualties among Russians.” Only if the Russian forces confirm that there are no Russian soldiers present at a place the Americans intend to attack will the US forces go ahead, Zolotaryev says. And conversely, only if American forces confirm that there are no US soldiers present at a place the Russians intend to attack will Russian forces go ahead. The level of cooperation between the two militaries is sufficiently developed because “both sides understand” the importance of doing so given the risks, he continues. Consequently, “here there is no basis for excessive agitation or panic.” But if that were violated at some point, it could mean war. Golts observes that “if there were an exchange of strikes, this would already be a war.” Olevsky suggested that “all normal people” do not want a war, to which the military observer responds “I very much would like that to be the case” and that any new American action would be as some have been in the past, a demonstration of US power rather than something more. But a real danger could arise if the Americans seek to destroy the anti-aircraft installations in Syria. “I have no certainty,” he says, “that in such a massive strike, they would distinguish between Russian anti-aircraft installations and Syrian ones.” Zolotaryev, however, says that the Americans know exactly whose is which and therefore that problem won’t arise because the Russian commanders know that the Americans know and wouldn’t mislead them to create a conflict. If a Russian installation were attacked, Russian forces would respond by attacking the place from which the US attack was launched.

Trump Weighs Strike Options on Syria as Allies Rally Over Attack – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump is still weighing options for U.S. military action against Syria as Western powers rallied against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over an apparent chemical weapons attack near Damascus.

How Russia has hinted it could react to US strikes in Syria: ANALYSIS – ABC News

President Trump has warned Russia the missiles “are coming”

UN Chief, Ex-U.S. President Urge Caution As Trump Vows Syria Strike

The head of the United Nations and a former U.S. president warned against allowing the war in Syria to spiral out of control hours after President Donald Trump told Syrian ally Russia to “get ready…

The potential for escalation if U.S. launches a Syria strike | PBS NewsHour

President Trump aimed new threats against Syria on Twitter Wednesday, in response to a suspected chemical attack and Russia’s suggestion it would intercept any U.S. missiles. What options are available to the U.S. and its allies if there is a military response? William Brangham talks with former NATO Ambassador Douglas Lute.

A US strike on Syria could start war with Russia — but it’s not likely – Vox

Preisdent Donald Trump is expected to authorize strikes on Syria shortly, as he tweeted on Wednesday morning. Those strikes could increase the chance of a US-Russia war.

Syria strikes LIVE: UK-Russia tensions rise over chemical attack  | Daily Mail Online

Russia has announced that Syrian forces have retaken Eastern Ghouta, Syria, where chemical weapons hit civilians on Saturday, AFP reports.

Trump Blasts Russia For Supporting’Gas Killing Animal’ Assad – The Atlantic

From airstrikes to diplomacy and propaganda

As Trump considers military action on Syria, Pentagon worries it could put Russian soldiers in the crosshairs

As Pentagon planners scramble to prepare for a possible U.S. retaliatory military response in Syria, one danger has sparked special concern — whether U.S. airstrikes could inadvertently kill Russian soldiers in Syria and escalate the regional war into a confrontation between Washington and Moscow.

Capitol Hill defense hawks push Trump to strike Syria soon – CNNPolitics

After President Donald Trump warned Russia in a tweet Wednesday that it should “get ready” for missile strikes against Syria, key lawmakers on Capitol Hill questioned whether threats of war should be made via social media while some Republican defense hawks urged Trump to act soon.

Syria crisis: Why Trump’s call for an attack is the right move at the right time | Fox News

If Syria suffers no consequences for using deadly chemical weapons banned under international agreements, chances are that other nations will inevitably do the same under desperate circumstances.

John Bolton: Syria Is a ‘Sideshow’

Trump’s new national security adviser has been ambivalent over the years about the importance of the Syrian civil war. The real threat, he’s long argued, comes from Iran.

Theresa May ‘to act on Syria without MPs’ vote’ – BBC sources – BBC News

The prime minister believes the need for a response is urgent, government sources tell the BBC.

Does Theresa May need MPs to approve UK action in Syria? – BBC News

Ben Wright on the politics of one of the hardest judgements a prime minister has to make.

Syria decision looms for May – BBC News

Is Britain hesitating before joining the United States and France in launching air strikes?

UK’s May says Syria chemical weapons can’t go unchallenged – Business Insider

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Theresa May moved closer Wednesday to committing Britain to military action against Syria, saying “all the indications” are…

Jeremy Corbyn warns against US-Russia ‘hot war’ – BBC News

The Labour leader says Parliament must be consulted on any military action.

Turkey’s ever-closer ties with Russia leave US lacking key ally on Syria | World news | The Guardian

Limiting US influence in the Middle East is not the only shared interest of Russia and Turkey’s autocratic leaders

The UN’s colossal failure to stop Syria’s chemical weapons | TheHill

Assad and his patrons must be stopped, and if America does not take the lead, who will?

Chemical weapons inspectors head to Syria as White House mulls response to attack – The Washington Post

International team of investigators to deploy shortly; Trump cancels trip abroad to oversee a possible U.S. response to suspected chemical weapons attack.

Syria conflict: Assad regime’s runways in line of US fire | News | The Times

The United States and its allies are likely to strike the airbase used to unleash the suspected chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held town of Douma, military experts said last night.They would seek to crater the runway and go after the helicopters and other aircraft at the site. This would be si

Strike Options for the US, France and the UK in Syria | RUSI

In 2017, the US launched an ineffective cruise missile attack Syria’s Shayrat airbase in retaliation for a chemical weapons attack. So, what can the Western powers do now to deter the Assad regime from repeating last week’s chlorine gas attack on Douma? US President Donald Trump today tweeted a warning to Russia that his ‘nice and new and “smart!”’ missiles are going to hit Syria and its ‘gas killing animal’ ruler in retaliation for a chemical attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma. However, Trump and his allies, UK Prime Minister Theresa May and French President Emmanuel Macron, face a tough dilemma on how to react, since the situation in the Syrian civil war is considerably worse now than it was when the US launched cruise missiles at the Shayrat airbase in April 2017. That retaliatory attack was ineffective and Syrian war planes were taking off from the base within hours of the strike. Forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad hold more of Syria and the opposition forces have lost several bitterly contested cities since then, while the Turkish offensive into Afrin has exposed the contradictions in the US alliance system. Most significantly, in the aftermath of the Shayrat strike, Russia publicly increased the level of integration between its air defences in Syria and those of the regime.

Possible US air strike on Syria: three scenarios for how it could play out – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The US President is taunting Russia, Britain is moving submarines to striking distance and all options are on the table. Here are three scenarios for how an air strike could play out.

What’s At Stake In A Potential Syria Strike : NPR

President Trump has threatened military action in response to a suspected chemical attack in Syria. We look at the implications and the legal basis for a strike.

US destroyers, subs, jets could answer Trump’s Syria strike cal – CNNPolitics

Two US Navy destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles are in position and ready to be called into action, among other assets including jets and submarines should President Donald Trump make good on his threat to order a military strike on targets in Syria.

Can Russia Really Shoot Down U.S. Missiles in Syria? | The National Interest Blog

Think S-400.

Mr. Trump, Here’s Why Assad Has to Go

Pulitzer Prize winner Roy Gutman calls Syria ‘a vast collection of war crimes masquerading as a civil war.’ To begin the end of it, he says, take out Assad’s murderous air force.

Chemical attack in Syria in 112 words – 112.international

Chemical attack in Syria in 112 words

It’s time to assassinate Assad

On April 8, after learning of the alleged Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons against a civilian neighborhood, President Trump tweeted that Syrian President Bashar Assad would pay a “big price.” The last time the Syrian government so blatantly used chemical weapons, Trump ordered a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles to strike at the base responsible for the chemical weapons attack. In the wake of the latest incident, however, many analysts have pointed out that last year’s response neither deterred Assad nor undercut his momentum against the Syrian opposition and questioned whether a new missile barrage would be any different.

 

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