Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syrian CW Attack (43)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

Even casual observers should recognize Russia’s almost bizarre propaganda efforts. Each attempt appears unhinged and does not reflect reality. The cognitive dissonance must be strong in many parts of Moscow.

</end editorial> 



Russian information campaign continues intensively on all fronts. Foreign Minister (Comical Sergei) Lavrov interviewed by the Beeb produces some truly remarkable commentary, coining a new phrase: “genocide through sanctions against Russia”. No shortage of threats and bluster, especially by special representative of the Russian president Andrei Krutskikh speaking in Germany. WashPost Editorial under the title of “Russia’s frantic parade of lies” speaks for itself.

Some remarkably odd reports coming out of the Russian MoD and Syria, concerning Syrian air defenses. Russian MoD claims a large proportion of the LACMs launched against Syria targeted various airfields and other sites defended by Syrian air defence weapons, listing a detailed breakdown of how many LACMs were shot down by what are mostly legacy Soviet-era SAM systems, claiming that 112 SAMs were launched (US reported at least 40 SAM launches mainly after the LACMs impacted their DMPIs). What is most odd is that the Russians report DMPIs mainly on targets other than the three sites the Allied strike obliterated. This peculiar Muscovian MoD report is now followed by reports from Syria initially that another major cruise missile strike was defeated by Syrian SAMs, followed by an admission that this was a “false alarm”. This is all very reminiscent of various Cold War skirmishes in the Middle East, and later Desert Storm, when Libyan and Iraqi air defenses expended ridiculous numbers of SAMs against imaginary targets, produced by target drones and electronic attack systems putting bogus targets up on the screens of the operators. Much written about this at the time, as well as about the apoplectic Soviet advisors complaining about their proxies failing to recognize Western jamming, and shooting blindly without verifying targets to be real. Israeli media are now reporting claims by Syria that they were subjected to a “’Joint Electronic Attack’ by Israel and U.S.”. If the Syrians and their Russian advisors did shoot 112 real SAMs at electronic mirages four days ago, and the Russian MoD reported these as real targets, this is more egg-on-face for the Russians, as they would have been suckered even more thoroughly than their Soviet predecessors and their patently incompetent proxies.

Major CERT report on large-scale Russian cyber attacks against network routers in the West, including household installations, usually targeting legacy equipment. Much media coverage, a lot of which does not entirely reflect what CERT actually said. Thepunchline is it pays to use up to date equipment and get it set up professionally. A major Twitter outage is also being reported. The Russian attacks are clearly a major campaign intended to disrupt the global network infrastructure.

Shmulyevich in Israel makes some fascinating and very apt comparisons between Putin’s behavior, and that of Hitler before he ramped up with the invasion of Poland. Sadly much of his analysis fits, and the absolute commitment to the Goebbelsian propaganda model, rather than the Soviet one, also speaks for itself. the Putin regime sees Hitler’s NSDAP as its template, as much as it draws on Stalin’s legacy.

In the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs reports on the decontamination of no less than 9 sites in Salisbury still considered unsafe due to CW agent contamination. G7 backs the UK on the Salisbury attack. Russians launch a campaign to return students from Western nations back to Russia.

UK media report that the SSN HMS Astute was being stalked by Russian Kilo SSKs and surface combatants in the Med. A multiplicity of reports on the OPCW team in Syria, and political debate around the strikes on Syria.


BBC World Service – HARDtalk, Russia’s Foreign Minister – Sergey Lavrov

Stephen Sackur is in Moscow for an exclusive interview with Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. In recent days the world has been alarmed by the very real possibility of a direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia. Syria is of course where the current tensions are highest, and where missiles have been fired, but the hostility is deep-seated on a number of fronts. We’ve had diplomatic expulsions, sanctions, there’s talk of a new cold war. What is Russia’s next move?

Sergey Lavrov: West plans ‘genocide through sanctions’ against Russia

Western powers have adopted a policy of “genocide through sanctions” against Russia, according to the former Cold War power’s top diplomat. “I think it is worse, because during the Cold War there were channels of communication and there was no obsession with Russophobia, which looks like genocide by sanctions,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told the BBC in a Monday interview. Russian officials have blamed “Russophobia” repeatedly in recent years, as relations between the Kremlin and western capitals have cratered since 2014. The United States and European leaders cite the Russian annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine, along with electoral interference and support for Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, as the factors driving the West’s imposition of economic sanctions on Russia. Russia maintains that all those crises are functions of American and British conspiracy theories. “It seems we are witnessing a new phenomenon in international relations, as now, apart from fake news, there is also fake diplomacy,” Lavrov said in November. Russia has taken that line in recent debates over chemical weapons, most recently the reported attacks in the Syrian city of Douma, which is held by rebels.

US, UK, France Missile Attack on Syria Won’t Be Left Unanswered – Lavrov – Sputnik International

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that all proofs of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, provided by some Western leaders, were taken from media and social networks.

Tripartite missile attack on Syria won’t be left unanswered: Lavrov

“I can’t be impolite in regard to the heads of other countries, but you’re citing leaders of the US, the UK and France. Speaking frankly, all proofs that they’re referring to, based on media and social networks,” Lavrov said. (AhlulBayt News Agency) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that all proofs of the alleged chemical attack in Douma, provided by some Western leaders, were taken from media and social networks. “I can’t be impolite in regard to the heads of other countries, but you’re citing leaders of the US, the UK and France. Speaking frankly, all proofs that they’re referring to, based on media and social networks,” Lavrov said. Russia did not try to change the site of a suspected chemical attack in the Syrian city of Duma, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday. “I can guarantee that Russia has not tampered with the site,” he told the BBC. Lavrov’s statement comes amid claims by US ambassador to the OPCW Kenneth Ward, who said that Russia may have visited the site of the attack and tampered with it. According to the head of the Russian foreign policy, the latest attack by the US, the UK and France won’t be left unanswered. “There would be consequences. We lose basically the last remnants of trust to our Western friends… They punish first in Duma, in Syria, and then they wait for the inspectors of the OPCW [Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons] to visit the place to inspect. Proof by punishment is what is being applied by the troika of Western countries,” Lavrov told the BBC broadcaster. Speaking further, the Russian foreign minister noted that the current relations between Russia and the West were worse than during the Cold War period.

Briefing by Russian Defence Ministry official Major General Igor Konashenkov (April 16, 2018) : Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

As it was promised, the Russian Defence Ministry analyzed effectiveness of missile and bomb strike made by the United States, Great Britain, and France on Syria as well as actions held by Syrian air defence units. It is to be reminded that on April 14 from 3.42 a.m. to 5.10 a.m. (MSK) different objects of the Syrian Arab Republic were attacked air and sea-based missile carriers of the United States and allies. The cruise missile strikes were delivered from the areas of the Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, al-Tanf illegally controlled by the US troops. Radar systems of the Syrian Arab Republic tracked 103 air targets. According to official statements made by representatives of military departments of the United States, Great Britain, and France all strikes were targeted at three Syrian objects. Therefore, each object was targeted at by 30 and more cruise missiles and air-to-ground missiles. However, such statements cause great skepticism. The fact is that all Syrian objects declared as targets are not subsurface ones or well protected by the echeloned air defence system of bunkers. As it can be clearly seen at space images spread by Western media, these are ordinary buildings on the surface. It is to be reminded that, for example, warhead of the Tomahawk cruise missile, depending on the type, carries up to half a ton of explosive weight. Therefore, it was enough not more than 10 missiles for each of the three targets in order to destroy them by any calculation methods, taking into account the triple overlap for their guaranteed destruction. Survey of the territory of the affected sites in Syrian settlements of Barza and Jaramana confirms these calculations. As it can be seen on the photograph of the facility in the Barza area, the nature of destruction as a result of a missile strike does not correspond to the scale of destruction from the use of three tens of cruise missiles. Moreover, the survey of the territory of this and other objects did not reveal either a large number of debris and fragmentations of ammunition, or a corresponding number of impact craters. Now, there is a real situation. Real targets of the strikes made by the US, Great Britain, and France on April 14 were not only objects in Barza and Jaramana but also Syrian military objects, including airfields. The Syrian Arab Army used S-200, S-125, Osa, Kvadart, Buk, and Strela air defence systems in order to repel this missile strike. It is to be stressed that Soviet designed systems were produced more than 40 years ago. The government troops also actively used the Russia-made Pantsyr air defence system, which had been received by the SAA earlier. This system during the anti-aircraft battle showed almost 100 percent efficiency. It is to be stressed that Syrian air defence system was organized on the principle of object defence. Almost all objects protected by air defence systems repelled the strike. In total, the Syrian AD systems eliminated 71 cruise missiles of 103 ones.

Four missiles targeted the Damascus International Airport;

12 missiles – the Al-Dumayr airdrome, all the missiles have been shot down.

18 missiles targeted the Blai airdrome, all the missiles shot down.

12 missiles targeted the Shayrat airbase, all the missiles shot down.

Two missiles targeted the Tiyas airfield, all the missiles shot down.

Five out of nine missiles were shot down targeting the unoccupied Mazzeh airdrome.

Thirteen out of sixteen missiles were shot down targeting the Homs airdrome.

There are no heavy destructions. Almost 30 missiles and corrected air bombs were targeted research-and-development objects located near Barza and Jaramana. Five of them were hit by Syrian AD systems.

In total, Syrian air defence systems fired 112 air defence missiles.

Pantsyr AD system fired 25 missiles and hit 24 targets;

Buk system fired 29 missiles and hit 24 targets;

Osa system fired 11 and hit 5 targets;

S-125 system fired 13 missiles and hit 5 targets;

Strela-10 system fired 5 missiles and hit 3 targets;

Kvadrat system fired 21 and hit 11 targets;

S-200 system fired 8 and hit no targets.

It is to be added that no one should be misled by low results made by S-200 air defence missile systems. This system is primarily designed to hit aircraft. However, this system shot down a fighter of a neighboring country. The aircraft took efforts to intrude airspace of the Syrian Arab Republic. The rest systems showed very high efficiency despite high speed of targets and extremely small radar-cross section.

False Alarm, Not Outside Attack, Sets Off Syria Air Defenses | Military.com

The Associated Press 17 Apr 2018 By Zeina Karam BEIRUT — A false alarm set off Syrian air defense systems early on Tuesday, the military said, denying earlier reports of an “outside aggression” and incoming airstrikes and underscoring the chaotic nature of the multiple actors in Syria’s theater of war. Syrian state media reported hours earlier that the country confronted yet another assault, shooting down missiles over the central region of Homs and a suburb of Damascus before dawn. The reports did not say who carried out the alleged strikes, adding to Mideast jitters only days after the United States, Britain and France conducted airstrikes targeting Syria’s alleged chemical weapons facilities in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that they blamed on the Syrian government. The Syrian Central Media said six missiles targeted the Shayrat air base in Homs on Tuesday, adding that Syrian air defenses shot down most of them. The Syrian outlet also reported another, separate airstrike on the Dumayr air base, in a suburb of the capital, Damascus. The Pentagon denied any American military activity in the area. There was no comment from Israel, which frequently carries out airstrikes in Syria but rarely acknowledges them.

Syria claims to thwart missile attack, later says fired on false alarm – Business Insider

A false alarm led to Syrian air defense missiles being fired overnight and no new attack on Syria took place. A false alarm led to Syrian air defense missiles being fired overnight and no new attack on Syria took place, Syrian state media and a military commander said on Tuesday. Syrian and Hezbollah media had previously said Syria had thwarted missile attacks on two airfields. The incident underscored fears of a further escalation in the Syrian conflict after a U.S., British and French attack on Syrian targets on Saturday and an air strike on an air base the previous week that Damascus blamed on Israel.

False alarm, not outside attack, sets off Syria air defenses – ABC News

Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.

Syria says false alarm set off its air defences

A false alarm led to Syrian air defence missiles being fired overnight and no new attack on Syria took place, Syrian state media and a military commander said on Tuesday.

Syrian media claims another missile strike has been averted

The Syrian anti-missile defense forces deflected a missile attack aimed at the Shayrat military base in the Homs province, the Syrian state media reported on Tuesday, April 17. The missiles were reportedly shot down by the Syrian anti-missile defense systems. The reports did not specify the number of missiles shot down, or who could have fired them. Later the Lebanese media reported another interception, citing Hezbollah. The Dumayr airbase on the outskirts of Damascus was the target of the attack. In response to Damascus’s statement, the Pentagon said that there is currently no US “military activity” in Syria. “We have no other information to provide,” said US Defense Department Spokesman Eric Pahon. The Arabic news portal Al-Masdar cited Interfax in reporting that the Israeli Air Force may have been behind the attack. There has been no confirmation of this from other sources, and the Israeli military is yet to comment. Earlier, the Syrian military accused Israel of launching an airstrike against the T-4 military airport, which is also in Homs. According to the Russian defense minister, two Israeli planes fired eight guided missiles at the airport from Lebanese airspace. The planes did not enter Syrian airspace. One year ago, the Shayrat airport was almost completely destroyed by a US missile strike. The US launched roughly 50 cruise missiles at the base in response to the chemical attack in Khan-Shaykhun.

Syria blames missiles, false alarm on ‘joint electronic attack’ by Israel and U.S. – Syria – Haaretz.com

Syrian military officials denied reports of an attack, but say defense systems triggered by electronic attack on radars. Syrian military sources denied early Monday reports of an early morning missile attack targeting Shayrat air base and told the DPA news agency that the defense systems were activated, but that it turned out to be a false alarm.

 

The Latest: Kremlin Says Airstrikes Hurt Syria Peace Process | World News | US News

BEIRUT (AP) — The latest on the Syrian conflict (all times local):

Russian Duma To Consider Retaliatory Sanctions Against U.S.

Russia’s lower parliament house has scheduled the first reading of a bill on retaliatory sanctions against the United States for May 15, meaning the first of three State Duma votes on the legislati…

Russia didn’t tamper with site of alleged Douma chemical attack – Lavrov to BBC — RT World News

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has rebuffed the claims that Russian experts tampered with the evidence as they visited the site of an alleged chemical attack in Syria’s Douma.

BZ vs. A-234: How Russia Exposed the Lie of UK Gov’t, Ripped British Version Up – Sputnik International

The use of military chemical agent “BZ” and its precursors in the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia recently revealed by a Swiss-based Spiez Laboratory is being deliberately neglected by reputable international institutions.

Russia’s frantic parade of lies – The Washington Post

When it comes to outlawed chemical agents, Russia blames only others.

Syria and Salisbury: The Continuing Battle to Maintain Trust in Evidence of Illegal Use of Chemical Weapons | RUSI

One element unites the handling of the chemical attacks by the Syrian regime against its own people and the Russian-perpetrated chemical attack in Salisbury early last month: the question of maintaining trust in the identification of the perpetrators in the face of Moscow’s relentless campaign of obfuscation.

“Do we all want to die?” – Putin’s info security aide says Russia “will not forgive” cyberattacks | UNIAN

Speaking at an information security conference in Germany’s Garmisch-Partenkirchen, organized by the Russian Government, special representative of the Russian president, Andrei Krutskikh, said Russia “will not forgive” external cyberattacks. The envoy says that Russia will not limit itself to a verbal response in case it is attacked in a cyber domain. Speaking at an information security conference in Germany’s Garmisch-Partenkirchen, organized by the Russian Government, special representative of the Russian president, Andrei Krutskikh, said Russia “will not forgive” external cyberattacks. “What do we expect? Do we all want to die? Don’t we want to have a drink tonight here, in Garmisch?” he said, according to Europeiska Pravda. “So I want to take this chance to reassure everyone that Russia has changed. We are not afraid of anyone, and we are not saying this out of arrogance. However, we will not forgive a single cyberattack,” said Krutskikh. The envoy assured that Russia would not limit itself to verbal answers. “Therefore, if you wish, your little pug in Europe may bark on Russian cyber-elephant – we won’t react to that verbally and neither will we comment on every attack,” Krutskikh said.

Russian State-Sponsored Cyber Actors Targeting Network Infrastructure Devices | US-CERT

Systems Affected Generic Routing Encapsulation (GRE) Enabled Devices Cisco Smart Install (SMI) Enabled Devices Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) Enabled Network Devices Overview This joint Technical Alert (TA) is the result of analytic efforts between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC). This TA provides information on the worldwide cyber exploitation of network infrastructure devices (e.g., router, switch, firewall, Network-based Intrusion Detection System (NIDS) devices) by Russian state-sponsored cyber actors. Targets are primarily government and private-sector organizations, critical infrastructure providers, and the Internet service providers (ISPs) supporting these sectors. This report contains technical details on the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) used by Russian state-sponsored cyber actors to compromise victims. Victims were identified through a coordinated series of actions between U.S. and international partners. This report builds on previous DHS reporting and advisories from the United Kingdom, Australia, and the European Union. [1-5] This report contains indicators of compromise (IOCs) and contextual information regarding observed behaviors on the networks of compromised victims. FBI has high confidence that Russian state-sponsored cyber actors are using compromised routers to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks to support espionage, extract intellectual property, maintain persistent access to victim networks, and potentially lay a foundation for future offensive operations. DHS, FBI, and NCSC urge readers to act on past alerts and advisories issued by the U.S. and U.K. Governments, allied governments, network device manufacturers, and private-sector security organizations. Elements from these alerts and advisories have been selected and disseminated in a wide variety of security news outlets and social media platforms. The current state of U.S. network devices—coupled with a Russian government campaign to exploit these devices—threatens the safety, security, and economic well-being of the United States. The purpose of this TA is to inform network device vendors, ISPs, public-sector organizations, private-sector corporations, and small office home office (SOHO) customers about the Russian government campaign, provide information to identify malicious activity, and reduce exposure to this activity. Description Since 2015, the U.S. Government received information from multiple sources—including private and public sector cybersecurity research organizations and allies—that cyber actors are exploiting large numbers of enterprise-class and SOHO/residential routers and switches worldwide. The U.S. Government assesses that cyber actors supported by the Russian government carried out this worldwide campaign. These operations enable espionage and intellectual property that supports the Russian Federation’s national security and economic goals. Legacy Protocols and Poor Security Practice Russian cyber actors leverage a number of legacy or weak protocols and service ports associated with network administration activities. Cyber actors use these weaknesses to: ….

U.S. and U.K. Jointly Warn of Russian Cyberattacks – WSJ

U.S. and U.K. intelligence agencies said Russian cyberattackers are targeting critical internet infrastructure to spy on Western companies and governments, the latest salvo in a diplomatic crisis.

US and UK blame Russia for ‘malicious’ cyber-offensive | Technology | The Guardian

Security officials issue alert directly blaming Kremlin for attack as US warns Moscow it is ‘pushing back hard’

UK And US Accuse Russia Of Hacking Home Routers In Global Cyberattacks

Russia implicated in another major cyberattack.

U.S., Britain blame Russia for global cyber attack – To Inform is to Influence

Jim Finkle, Doina Chiacu (Reuters) – The United States and Britain on Monday accused Russia of launching cyber attacks on computer routers, firewalls and other networking equipment used by government agencies, businesses and critical infrastructure operators around the globe. Washington and London issued a joint alert saying the campaign by Russian government-backed hackers was intended to…

Russia-Backed Hackers Accused Of Global Cyberattacks

Russian state-sponsored hackers are seeking to hijack critical network infrastructure devices, U.S. and British intelligence agencies say.

U.S., Britain blame Russia for global cyber attack

The United States and Britain on Monday warned of a global cyber attack targeting routers and other networking equipment, blaming Russian government-backed hackers for the campaign on government agencies, businesses and critical infrastructure operators.

Russian cyberattacks have targeted millions of computers, including home wifi routers | News | The Times

A global Russian hacking offensive has targeted millions of computers to spy on governments and lay the foundation for an attack on infrastructure, Britain and the United States warned last night. Tens of thousands of devices in British homes including wifi boxes are in the sights of Kremlin-backe

Russia is sponsoring cyberattacks, U.S. and U.K. officials warn

U.S., UK cyber officials warned Monday that Russia is sponsoring attacks on computers worldwide for espionage, theft and potential future attacks

Russia Steps Up Hacking, Spurring U.S.-U.K. Warning on Risk – Bloomberg

Russia is using compromised computer network equipment to attack U.S. and British companies and government agencies, the two countries warned.

Twitter is DOWN: Social media site not working | Daily Mail Online

The problems appear to have mostly affected users in the UK, Japan and the US east coast.

 

UAWire – Berlin: Russia is behind recent cyber-attack on German Foreign Ministry

The German government believes a recent cyber-attack on the country’s Foreign Affairs Ministry came from Russia, said Heiko Maas, Germany’s …

 

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Israeli Analyst Says Putin Like Hitler of the 1930s But Not Yet Prepared for a General War

Paul Goble Staunton, April 16 – Vladimir Putin’s actions “resemble those of the early Adolf Hitler,” Rabbi Avraam Shmulyevich says. And like the Nazi leader, the Kremlin boss is testing his forces in smaller conflicts and seeking to raise a generation of people who are prepared to die for him and his ideas. The president of the Israeli Institute for the Eastern Partnership says world leaders should be worried not only about Putin’s current acts of aggression but also his continuing and intense efforts to transform his population through control of the educational system and the media in Russia (fakty.ictv.ua/ru/svit/20180416-ekspert-porivnyav-putina-z-gitlerom-i-skazav-koly-pochnetsya-tretya-svitova/). “One can compare [Putin] with the early Hitler of the 1930s,” Shmulyevich says on Espresso television, when the Nazi leader “step by step increased the military capacity of the Wehrmacht, carried out ‘pilot’ steps in Spain, Austria and Czechoslovakia and then began a big war.” “This in principle is what Putin said openly that he intends to do,” the Israeli expert continues. At the same time, Shmulyevich says he is “convinced that for the time being Putin ‘will not cross a red line’ in relations with the West. It is possible there will be some local clashes” in which he will test his army against the American one but that the Kremlin leader will always pull back before things get out of hand.

 

Nerve agent used to attack Sergei Skripal was liquid, says Defra | UK news | The Guardian

Highest concentration of the very small amount of novichok used was at Skripal’s home, say investigators

Russian spy: Skripal poison ‘was in liquid form’ – BBC News

Ex-Russian spy Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious on a bench in Salisbury on 4 March.

Nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal was delivered in ‘liquid form’, says Defra | The Independent

The nerve agent used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury was delivered “in a liquid form”, the government has said.  Nine sites in the Wiltshire city were contaminated following the 4 March attack, carried out with a “very small amount” of a military-grade novichok chemical, added the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). The highest concentration was found at the Russian ex-spy’s house, officials told a press briefing in Salisbury.

The nerve agent used to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was delivered ‘in a liquid form’ | Business Insider

The nerve agent used to poison ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury was delivered “in a liquid form,” the British government has said. Authorities from Britain’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made made the statement in response to a reporter’s question at a news briefing Tuesday morning. Sergei and Yulia Skripal collapsed last month after being exposed to Novichok nerve agent, which Britain has accused Russia of manufacturing. Very few details have been announced thus far about the exact mechanism of the poisoning. Britain’s Metropolitan Police believe the poison was applied to the handle of the Skripals’ door, which is consistent with being a liquid.

Salisbury poisoning latest: Police to place high security barriers around key locations for months to come | The Independent

Parts of Salisbury contaminated with nerve agent will be sealed off behind high-security barriers for months while they are made safe, officials have revealed.  The restaurant and pub visited by Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia after they were poisoned will be surrounded by semi-permanent hoarding for the work, while cordons could widen in other areas.

Clean-up starts in UK city hit in nerve agent attack

A clean-up operation in the British city where a former Russian spy was poisoned began Tuesday, with officials saying the nerve agent used was delivered in “liquid form” and small quantities. The attack on ex-double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4 in Salisbury has damaged

How ex Russian spy Sergei Skripal and Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury | Daily Star

SHOCK findings have revealed the nerve agent used to poison a former Russian spy and his daughter was delivered in a “liquid form”.

G7 Ministers Call For Russia’s ‘Full Disclosure’ On Spy Poisoning In Britain

The foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries have called on Russia to provide “full and complete disclosure” about the poisoning of a former Russian double agent and hi…

G7 FMs Back UK in Blaming Russia for Skripals Poisoning – Al-Manar TV Lebanon

Foreign Ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced industrial nations have backed the United Kingdom’s charges that Russia was responsible for the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter with a nerve agent, according to a joint statement adopted at a meeting in Canada. “We share, and agree with, the United Kingdom’s assessment that it is highly likely that the Russian Federation was responsible for the attack and that there is no plausible alternative explanation,” the statement read on Monday. Sergei Skripal, former Russian GRU colonel, and his daughter Yulia, were reportedly target of an assassination attempt by a nerve agent last month in the city of Salisbury, England.

‘Special Units’ in Russia Were Trained in Ways of Skripal Attack, U.K. Says – To Inform is to Influence

We may never know all the facts behind this obviously secretive operation, but we are knocking holes in the wall.  Yet another discovery and disclosure of information injurious to Russian intelligence service operations. </end editorial> By ELLEN BARRYAPRIL 13, 2018 Russia has been researching the application of chemical agents to door handles as a way to…

Chemical weapons body backs United Kingdom over nerve-agent attack on spy

The executive summary released by the OPCW does not directly name Novichok – the military grade nerve agent developed by Russian Federation, which the United Kingdom has said was used to poison former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia – or identify its source. “Laboratory analysis results (.) Confirm findings of United Kingdom in relation to identity of toxic chemical, “said organization based in The Hague in its report presented in London which gives understanding, refore, that corroborates version of Downing Street in which from outset pointed to that The agent was made in Russian Federation”. Russian Federation vehemently denies being behind the attack in Salibury. “There can be no doubt what was used”. “There can be no doubt what was used and there remains no alternative explanation about who was responsible – only Russian Federation has the means, motive and record”. “We do not have any grounds not to think that [the OPCW report] is a continuation of a provocation carried out by British special services”, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday during a weekly news conference. Newburgh Journal http://newburghjournal.com/2018/04/chemical-weapons-body-backs-united-kingdom-over-nerve-agent/

UAWire – Swiss laboratory denies Lavrov’s claims that Skripal’s poison was developed by NATO

In response to comments by the Foreign Minister of Russia,The laboratory in the town of Spiez, Switzerland that had contributed to the investigation on the notorious Skripal poisoning incident stated that the BZ toxin was not mentioned in its report. “Only the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) can comment on this statement. But we can reiterate what we said 10 days ago. We have no doubt that Porton Down was right in identifying Novichok as the poisoning agent,” the Swiss lab posted on Twitter. Both the Spiez laboratory and the Porton Down laboratories are laboratories designated by OPCW. Earlier, at the meeting of the Council of Foreign and Defense Policy, Lavrov referred to data from the Spiez laboratory regarding the poisoning of the former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. According to the Minister, independent experts from this laboratory found traces of the substance BZ, a chemical weapon in operational use of the USA, Great Britain and NATO countries. “This laboratory, in which, I am convinced, scientists are professional and value their reputation, reached the following conclusions. I’m going to quote them word for word. As a result of the examination, traces of the toxic chemical BZ and its precursors related to chemical weapons of second category in accordance with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were found in the samples,” Lavrov said. He explained that research on the development of this chemical substance was never carried out in either the USSR or in Russia. According to the UK’s official position, the nerve agent Novichok was used in the attempt on the lives of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. The British government accused Russia of being responsible for the incident. Moscow denies its involvement.

Russian agency launches campaign to return Russian students from “unfriendly” UK | UNIAN

Russia’s Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudichestvo) has launched a campaign to return Russian students from the UK and other countries deemed “unfriendly” back to the Russian Federation. Project managers at Rossotrudnichestvo are convinced that Russian students studying abroad actually want to return home “for political reasons.” Russia’s Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Compatriots Living Abroad, and International Humanitarian Cooperation (Rossotrudichestvo) has launched a campaign to return Russian students from the UK and other countries deemed “unfriendly” back to the Russian Federation. Masterminds behind the campaign titled “Highly Likely Welcome Back” are convinced that a significant number of students abroad actually want to return to Russia “for political reasons,” Russia’s Kommersant wrote. Students who will be returning to Russia will be offered assistance to ensure they continue their studies at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) or get job, for example, in Russia’s Far East.

Russian spy attack: Incontrovertible evidence needed on Russia – Corbyn – BBC News

Labour’s leader wants to see “incontrovertible evidence” before accusing Moscow of the attack.

British submarine in duel with Kremlin’s ‘Black Hole’ hunter-killer | News | The Sunday Times

A British attack submarine has been locked in a “cat-and-mouse” pursuit by Russian submarines and warships, military sources revealed. While Theresa May was deciding last week whether to launch strikes against Syria, a drama began beneath the surface of the eastern Mediterranean. A Royal Navy submarine armed with cruise missiles is believed to have been hunted by at least one, and possibly two, Russian submarines dubbed “the Black Hole” by western naval experts because they are so quiet. Two Russian frigates and an anti-submarine aircraft are also thought to have been searching for the British boat as it manoeuvred to put its Tomahawk cruise missiles within range of Syrian military targets. The Astute-class submarine is believed to have spent several days trying to evade detection in a tense and dangerous contest. Russian and British submarines have increasingly stalked each other in the north Atlantic, North Sea and Mediterranean in recent years as tensions have grown. This is believed to be the first time an underwater duel has taken place in the build-up to strikes.

Russian fleet hunts British submarine in Mediterranean – media | UNIAN

A British attack submarine has been locked in a “cat-and-mouse” pursuit by Russian submarines and warships, military sources revealed. The Astute-class submarine is believed to have spent several days trying to evade detection in a tense and dangerous contest.

gulftoday.ae | Chemical experts enter Syrian Douma: Media

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media reported on Tuesday that investigators from the world’s chemical watchdog had entered Douma, a town outside Damascus where an alleged gas attack 10 days earlier left dozens dead. “Experts from the chemical weapons committee enter the town of Douma,” state news agency SANA wrote, referring to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The reported toxic gas attack on Douma on April 7 sparked an unprecedented joint missile strikes by the US, France, and Britain on Syrian military installations. They accused President Bashar al-Assad’s regime of carrying out the chemical attack on the town, which was then under rebel control but has since been secured by the government and its ally Russia. The punitive strikes were launched before a fact-finding team from the OPCW was able to enter Douma and begin its field work. The mission had appeared in question earlier on Tuesday after Western powers warned that relevant evidence could have been removed from the area or tampered with. Agence France-Presse

The Latest: Chemical arms inspectors enter Syrian town | The Bellingham Herald

Syria’s state news agency says inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons have reached the town of Douma to investigate reports of a suspected April 7 gas attack.

Russia may have tampered with chemical attack site, U.S. envoy says

Western countries accused Moscow on Monday of preventing inspectors from reaching the site of a suspected poison gas attack in Syria and said Russians or Syrians may have tampered with evidence on the ground.

i24NEWS – US envoy to OPCW says Russia may have ‘tampered’ with chemical attack site

Moscow vows ‘not to interfere’ in OPCW’s work; UK says Russia, Syria have not yet allowed team into Douma

Ryabkov: OPCW experts cannot enter Douma without UN permission — Politics, Russia — EADaily

Experts of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons cannot enter the Syrian town of Douma, as they have no consent from the United Nations Department of Safety and Security, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has announced today.

 

Chemical-Arms Inspectors Due In Syria’s Douma, Russia Says

Russian officials say international chemical weapons experts are due to arrive in Syrian town of Douma on April 18 to investigate the site of a suspected gas attack there, amid U.S. fears that Mosc…

Chemical weapons experts blocked from Syrian attack site, UK says – CNN

They’ve waited two days to enter the site of the latest suspected chemical attack, where dozens of Syrian civilians were killed.

Competitive Strategies Against Russia Are Seductive, Dangerous, And Unnecessary – To Inform is to Influence

JOSHUA ROVNER APRIL 16, 2018 SPECIAL SERIES – THE BRUSH PASS Editor’s Note: “The Brush Pass” is a monthly column by Joshua Rovner (@joshrovner1) on intelligence, strategy, and statecraft. In 1987, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger told Congress, “Wherever possible, we should adopt strategies that make obsolete past Soviet defense investments. We should devise programs for which an…

EUCOM: No indication Russian air defense systems deployed during Syria mission | UNIAN

U.S. European Command (EUCOM) has said none of the combined aircraft or missiles involved in the mission were successfully engaged by Syrian air defenses and there is no indication Russian air defense systems were deployed. The combined force deployed 105 total weapons against three targets.

U.S. European Command Supports Joint Strikes on Syria Chemical Weapons Sites | United States European Command

Multiple air and maritime assets assigned to U.S. Air Forces Europe and U.S. Naval Forces Europe, under U.S. European Command (EUCOM), participated in strike operations conducted in Syria. The strike operations were part of U.S. Central Command’s (CENTCOM) operations to deter and prevent Syria’s future use of chemical weapons. Alongside French and United Kingdom partners, EUCOM personnel expertly carried out operations as part of the United States’ goal of long-term degradation of Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities.

Theresa May: Russia, Syria working to ‘conceal the facts’ of gas attack – To Inform is to Influence

The UN OPCW team, authorized and sent from the UN, has been blocked from reaching the attack site. Russia and Syrian forces, citing “security concerns”, are preventing the UN team from performing its job. Russia has offered for the OPCW team to interview 22 witnesses.  Chemical weapons team kept from alleged attack site in Syria Everything…

May suggests prior vote on military interventions only right for war – Politics live | Politics | The Guardian

Rolling coverage of the day’s political developments as they happen

UK’s Theresa May tells lawmakers: Syria strikes were legal and moral

British Prime Minister Theresa May said military airstrikes against Syria were both legal and moral, and that Syria tried to cover up a chemical weapons attack.

U.K.’s May Defends Striking Syria Without Seeking Parliament’s Backing – WSJ

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday defended her decision to attack chemical-weapons facilities in Syria alongside the U.S. and France, in the face of criticism that she should have first sought the backing of Parliament.

Putin, Merkel Discuss Syria, Baltic Gas Pipeline

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have discussed the situation in Syria and a controversial Baltic gas pipeline project in a telephone conversation, the Kremlin s…

Macron: France convinced Trump to limit targets in Syria strike

During an interview with BFM TV, French President Emmanuel Macron said that it was France that convinced US President Donald Trump to limit the strike it inflicted against facilities in Syria. “We convinced Trump to limit the targets of the strikes only to sites with chemical weapons capacity,” he said. According to Macron, the US media and Trump’s Twitter initially used more aggressive rhetoric. He also noted that Paris earlier persuaded Washington to stay in Syria. “Ten days ago, President Trump said the USA’s wants to disengage from Syria. We convinced him that it was necessary to stay,” the French President added. Earlier, Macron called the missile strikes by the Allies in Syria a “perfectly conducted operation”. During the evening of April 14, the Armed Forces of the US, Britain and France launched a strike against Syria. The Russian Defense Ministry reported that the United States and its Allies have fired more than 100 missiles.

Macron backtracks on Trump-Syria remarks – Americas – RFI

French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday tried to paper over apparent differences of interpretation over the US’s strategy on Syria aftre claiming he had changed Donald Trump’s mind about bringing troops home right away.

Syria Strikes: Why Germany Stayed on the Sidelines – Bloomberg

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s line on the latest Syrian crisis is a smart compromise between domestic stability and loyalty to the U.S.

US-led strikes on Syria: What was hit? – BBC News

The US says missiles hit targets “associated with the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons programme”.

Trump’s Syria Strategy Actually Makes Sense – Defense One

And it does not involve a commitment to change the horrible and predictable outcome of the civil war.

Neither Precise Nor Proportionate – Defense One

Trump’s attack on Syria was unserious but intended to relieve emotional pressure—and in many ways, worse than doing nothing at all.

The Unconstitutional Strike on Syria – Defense One

AUMF? The Syrian government is not Al Qaeda, nor an affiliate, nor a successor, nor anything except a sovereign nation against which the president has …

Pushing back Russia in the Middle East: A thought experiment – To Inform is to Influence

Of note, following a telephone call between French President Macron and President Trump this weekend, President Trump agreed to leave US troops in Syria “long term”. This fulfills the first recommendation in this article. </end editorial>   Daniel L. Byman Friday, April 13, 2018 Editor’s Note: While across-the-board competition with Russia throughout the Middle East would be…

Russia: war and punishment – To Inform is to Influence

Successive punishments on Russia have not curtailed transgressions. To avoid a standoff reminiscent of the Cold War, John Raine considers a strategy centred on weakening Russian capabilities and engaging in dialogue with Putin. 13 April 2018 By John Raine, Senior Adviser for Geopolitical Due Diligence In the past two weeks the West has punished Russia with…

Majorities back Trump summits, tougher sanctions on Russia (POLL) – ABC News

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russian Americans Send Trump Open Letter in Support of New US Sanctions

Paul Goble Staunton, April 16 – Two weeks ago, the Congress of Russian Americans sent an open letter to US President Donald Trump opposing sanctions on Moscow and saying that its members were experiencing discrimination in the United States because of their ethnic heritage (russian-americans.org/letter-to-trump-re-new-sanctions/). Not surprisingly, that letter received widespread coverage in the Moscow media and was cited by some Americans as evidence that the Trump Administration is opposed by ethnic Russians in the United States, a conclusion that many may have accepted because a large percentage of US-based Russian citizens voted for Vladimir Putin. But today, an initiative group consisting of some of the most prominent Russian dissidents who now live in the United States has countered with another open letter expressing their support for the US sanctions policy and denying that they have experienced any hostility or discrimination (forumdaily.com/mnenie-russkoyazychnyx-amerikancev-o-sankciyax-razdelilos/). “We are turning to you because we consider it necessary to react to the letter which according to the media was sent to you by the president of the Congress of Russian Americans, a group which by all indications is a pro-Kremlin organization” and to assure you that the views in that letter are not shared by most ethnic Russians in the United States. “We do not support the actions of the Russian government and Presidenet Putin which threaten the world, stability and democratic values be they in Georgia, Ukraine, the Near East, Europe or the United States [and] we fully support the measures undertaken by Your administration against the Russian ruling elite, including the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats.” Leonid Aptekar, one of the authors of the letter, told Kseniya Kirillova, a US-based Russian journalist, that he and his colleagues wanted to expose the efforts of “’pro-Kremlin agents’ to speak on behalf of all Russian-speaking Americans” and “to attract attention to the anti-American propagandist organizations led from the Kremlin.” “Of course,” he said, “we cannot deny that besides members of pro-Kremlin organizations, part of the Russian-speaking diaspora supports Russian policy. However, this part does not reflect the opinion of all Russian-speaking Americans.” Most of them have fully integrated into American life and are happy to be in the US. According to Aptekar, the chief supporters within this community in the US are “mainly elderly people who have hot had the chance to completely integrate into American life.” Others like himself, he continued, “feel at home in America and are grateful for the freedom and broad opportunities which we enjoy in our new American motherland.” Among the signatories are such prominent cultural figures as Natalya Arno, Professor Lev Deych, Aleksandr Genis, Aleksandr Goldfarb, Andrey Girgorenko, Pavel Litvinov, Boris Palan, Dmitry Shenker, Aleksandra Sviridova, Igor Tsesarsky of Kontinent, Tatyana Yankelevich, and Andrey Zagdansky.

Russia sends another batch of military equipment to Syria

Russian large landing ship the Orsk was sighted in the Bosporus strait with military equipment on board, the Turkish Bosphorus observer Yörük Işık reported on Twitter. The ship appeared to be bound for the Syrian port city of Tartus. The Orsk is reportedly transporting BTR-80 armored vehicles, Iveco LMV armored cars, and Ural and KamAZ trucks to Syria. Russian BTR-80s are manufactured at the Arzamas Machinery Plant. They are equipped with a Pelena-6 jammer system, which protects the combat vehicles against radio-controlled explosive devices. According to Yörük Işık, this year this is the fourth trip of the Orsk to Syria with military equipment on board.

U.S. Says Syria Has Used Chemical Weapons at Least 50 Times During War – To Inform is to Influence

By RICK GLADSTONE APRIL 13, 2018 The United States accused the Syrian government on Friday of using banned chemical arms at least 50 times since Syria’s civil war began seven years ago — substantially higher than previous official estimates. The accusation, made by the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, came during a vitriolic…

 

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