Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Russia’s self-flagellation campaign continues, but no evidence of any creative additions since yesterday. Quite a number of rebuttals, including the Beeb. The frantic effort in propaganda seems to reflect a more general unraveling of Russia, detailed in 10 observations by Prof Goble. Sobov’s commentary on commonalities between the Führer and the new Vozhd of Russia is very good. Some appropriate observations by Skvernelis – The roots of Russia’s problems are cultural and systemic, and not the individual eccentricities of one individual.
UK media report that the Police have identified an ethnic Latvian former KGB Capt as the prime suspect and likely Skripal wetwork team leader and former KGB Maj. Karpichkov who was his CO decades ago elaborates to the media – poisoning Karpichkov might not have been such a smart thing to do. UK to legislate increased law enforcement powers against terrorists, this will complicate life for Russia’s covert assets as they can now be classed as urban terrorists and will thus fall under counter-terrorism legislation rather than espionage statutes. Very good analysis essay on Russian assassinations by Kirillova.
OPCW team arrives in Douma, speculation continues on whether Russians were able to successfully remove evidence. US may keep a CVBG in the Med. IRGC General de facto declares war on Israel, publicly, claiming the IRGC was tasked with annihilating Israel within the next 25 years. Iran’s FM makes threats over nuke deal. Remarkable arrogance for a regime that can barely keep its own population from erupting. Some very odd statements by the Erdogan regime in Ankara. A couple of interesting backgrounders on the history of CW.
What happened in Salisbury has been disputed by Russian journalists.
Ashton Nanninga CONTRIBUTOR Misinformation spreads like wildfire and politics are fuel to the flame. Throughout President Donald Trump’s time in office, the United States’ relations with Russia have become increasingly tense. These tensions have now escalated to a global scale. On March 4, former Russian informant for Britain’s foreign intelligence agency, Sergei V. Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent. The attack took place in Salisbury, Wilts, England. As stated in a New York Times article Britain Blames Moscow for Poisoning of Former Russian Spy by Ellen Barry and Richard Perez-Pena, Prime Minister Theresa May blames the act on Russia. May stated that the nerve agent was “a type developed in Russia.” She then goes on saying that it was an act of the Kremlin and Russia is to blame. On March 29, Russia further escalated the situation by ordering the closure of the American consulate in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city. Antonio Gueterres, secretary general of the United Nations, compared the crisis to that of the Cold War.
Subscribe to Vesti News https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCa8M… For now, ending the war in Syria is a dream for most Syrians, who are well aware of who is fueling it from outside. Instead of supporting a peaceful solution for Syria, Americans complain that Russians are interfering with their presence in the Arab Republic. To be specific, Russia allegedly creates obstacles for them. On NBC, the Russian Armed Forces were accused of jamming their Western partners’ drones. Allegedly, they started doing this several weeks ago, and have only recently upped their jamming efforts around Eastern Ghouta.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad returned to France his National Order of the Legion of Honor medal that he received from former French …
The Russian Federal Service for Supervision in the Sphere of Communications, Information Technologies and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) blocked a number of IP-addresses of the Google search engine. This is reported by experts in the field of cybersecurity, and the consequences of these actions are proved by users in social networks, according to Meduza. So, the general director of the Diphost provider Philippe Kulin, who tracks the “unloading” of Roskomnadzor, said about the blocking in social networks. As follows from his monitoring data, about 60 IP addresses of google.com were blocked. Some users from Russia on the night of April 22 reported problems with access to google.com and a number of Google services. According to the site Downdetector at 09:30 Moscow time, difficulties with access to google.com persisted in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and several other cities. At the same time, the Russian domain of google.ru search engine works, the newspaper notes. As you know, on April 16 Roskomnadzor began to block Telegram in Russia because the messenger’s management refused to hand over the keys to encryption of the users’ correspondence to the FSB. Together with the Telegram servers, Roskomnadzor listed more than 18 million IP-addresses of hosting providers Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Digital Ocean, which the messenger used to bypass the locks, in the register of banned sites. Locks of Roskomnadzor affected the work of many third-party sites that used to host blocked providers. At the same time, Telegram remains available to users.
Paul Goble Staunton, April 21 – Vladimir Putin and his country are in far deeper trouble than the Moscow media he controls or than the Western media which all too often relies on what the Putin outlets say and views his standing and that of his country almost exclusively as a derivative of what the West does or doesn’t do. But in the last 48 hours alone, ten stories have appeared which suggest neither he nor his country is doing as well as many would have it, either out of a misplaced sense that Russia’s nuclear arsenal trumps everything – forgetting that it didn’t save the USSR – or the problematic conviction that the West needs an interlocutor or a threat.
These ten things do not mean that Putin is about to be ousted or the Russian Federation collapse. Both he and it have important reserves, but rather these are offered as a corrective to the all too common narrative that Putin is a miracle worker and his country is what he likes to present it, a worthy successor to the Soviet Union. Neither of these things is true. Here are the ten:
- Putin is losing support at home and abroad. A VTsIOM poll finds that fewer than 50 percent of Russians now trust him and, for the first time since 2013, Time magazine has not included him in its list of the 100 most influential people in the world (wciom.ru/news/ratings/doverie_politikam/and meduza.io/news/2018/04/20/putin-vpervye-za-pyat-let-ne-popal-v-spisok-samyh-vliyatelnyh-lyudey-mira-po-versii-time).
- One part of the Russian government is trying to ban the Telegram messenger service while other parts are purchasing VPNs and other technology in order to do an end run around Kremlin policy, thus giving the Kremlin one of its clearest defeats in a long time (snob.ru/selected/entry/136678and nv.ua/opinion/yakovina/stolknovenie-s-telehoj-2465568.html).
- Senior officials in Tatarstan and some other non-Russian republics are directly attacking Vladimir Putin’s language policies and thus Putin personally, something that they had avoided doing in the recent past out of fear how he might respond (iarex.ru/news/57280.html).
- Russian officials concede that 68 percent of the medicines Russians use are imported and that in most cases there is no domestic alternative. If those drugs do not continue to flow into the country, many Russians will die (forum-msk.org/material/news/14567249.html).
- Russian space industry analysts say that 70 percent of the electronics in Russian satellites is imported and again there are no obvious domestic alternatives (charter97.org/ru/news/2018/4/20/287083/).
- The only factory in Russia that produces armored personnel carriers for the military and security forces has just gone bankrupt, an indication along with delays in the refitting of ships and the production of new ones of severe problems in the defense industry and in the government’s ability to finance any significant military buildup (newsland.com/community/129/content/ne-vpisalsia-v-rynok-edinstvennogo-v-rossii-proizvoditelia-bmp-poprosili-obankrotit/6308512).
- The Russian economy has so many bottlenecks that any strain leads to significant problems. Moscow officials have just announced that the World Cup this summer will affect when residents of the Russian capital will get hot water in their residences (snob.ru/selected/entry/136682).
- Russian prosecutors and siloviki are so desperate to improve their statistics about fighting extremism that they are searching about for anything that they can plausibly or even implausibly suggest constitutes that “crime.” Among their targets this week: An Omsk man was charged with extremism for daring to criticize the sad state of roads in his region (newsland.com/community/7149/content/zhitelnitsu-omskoi-oblasti-obvinili-v-ekstremizme-za-zhalobu-na-plokhie-dorogi/6308189).
- With Russians across the country protesting against improper handling of garbage, Russia was stung this week by an international ranking which showed that Russia ranks first among all former Soviet republics in per capita air contamination. Even Putin has mentioned that there are some cities in the Urals where it is not safe to breathe (fergananews.com/news/29576).
- And Forbes reports that Russia now has a significantly smaller GDP than the single US state of Texas does (newsland.com/community/8211/content/u-kogo-bolshe-ekonomika-u-tekhasa-ili-u-rossii/6306913).
Paul Goble Staunton, April 21 – Kseniya Sobchak is only the latest in a long line of politicians and commentators who point to small differences between Putin and Hitler in order to reject completely the idea that “Putin is the Hitler of today,” Moscow commentator Aleksandr Skobov says. In this, he says, they are repeating the same mistake that many in the Western democracies did in the 1930s, focusing on secondary issues while ignoring the fundamental ones in the hopes that this would keep the situation from getting worse and that some agreement or other with Hitler could be reached (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5ADB0AB9AB7E1). It is certainly the case, Skobov continues, that “between Hitler and Putin, there are differences. Up to now, Putin has kept his regime from beingn transformed into a classical fascist one-party model in which any opposition (even decorative) is prohibited and punished” in the most severe way. Moreover, the Kremlin leader, unlike Hitler, despite all those who are pushing him to do so, has refrained from the kind of hysterical speaking style of the Nazi leader, although the question of how much Putin has borrowed from the Nazi propaganda state could serve “as the subject of an interesting academic study.” But those differences are not fundamental, Skobov says; “For the world what is important are not these nuances but the commonality which unites Hitler and Putin.” Both of them have pushed the world into a situation in which their commitment to the notion that might makes right is pushing the world toward war. Both the one and the other, the commentator continues, “are purposefully destroying the limitations on deception, force and cruelty that have been developed by civilization.” And for both of them, “obscurantist reaction and an unrestricted drive toward the archaic that destroys the achievements of humanity in the area of humanism and human rights” are the highest goals. For these essential reasons, Skobov concludes, “Putin is the Hitler of the Current Period.” Like Hitler, Putin has put the world on the path toward war with his illegal annexation of Crimea; and no focus on the marginal differences between the two can be allowed to obscure that fundamental reality. “It remains to us only to choose sides and for a time to forget about nuances.” Those who don’t want to give up the focus on nuances should stand aside “and not interfere.” There will be time to discuss such things in the future “but only after the Kremlin monster dies in his bunker,” not before.
A trove of hacked emails sent by Kremlin-linked figures appears to show that Moscow planned to fund a dirty-tricks campaign aimed at sowing division and spreading disinformation in Ukraine, just months after Russia invaded the country in 2014. As reported by The Times, the emails were allegedly found in accounts linked to Inal Ardzinba, a Kremlin figure close to President Vladimir Putin, and to a Ukrainian Communist Party leader. One set of correspondence from October 2014 contained proposals to fund a cybercampaign to “troll” opponents of Moscow, “demotivate enemies” on social media, and collect personal data of opponents in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, for a fee of $130,500. The emails, allegedly sent by an unnamed Russian politician to Ardzinba, also outlined an offer to hack email accounts for between $100 and $300. Another proposal included the organization of one month of pro-Russia rallies in Kharkiv for the sum of $19,200. The fee included the transport of protesters, bribes to local media to cover the demonstrations, and bribes to police. It is unclear whether the rallies actually took place. The emails are part of the so-called “Surkov leaks,” named after Vladislav Surkov, an influential personal adviser to Putin who is believed to have sent emails exposed in two previous leaks.
Saulius Skvernelis, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, believes that the West’s approach to discriminate between the “opinion of Russians” and the “opinion of the Russian government” is mistaken. He told this at the 2018 Kyiv Security Forum, a European Pravda correspondent reported. “We often say that the Kremlin is one thing and the Russians – another. I personally thought this too. But the way they voted during the last elections denied this. Look at the election outcomes in the regions we thought were most democratic. Look at how Moscow and St. Petersburg voted,” he stressed. The Lithuanian Prime Minister called to not wait for the opinions in Russia to change through the change of generations. “Russia will not turn into a democratic state without our interference […] We thought earlier that the Kremlin supported the old generation, that the youth will come and change everything. But look at the polls, how the youth voted, how 15-35-year-old Russians voted,” he said, referring to the Presidential election where incumbent Vladimir Putin received 76.69% of votes. Independent observers and researchers have said that the election was falsified and Putin may have received 10 million extra votes.
NPR’s Scott Simon reflects on a string of recent — and suspicious — deaths of Russian journalists and dissidents.
Denying that a chemical weapons attack took place on April 7 in Syria, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov is again showing his mastery of deception.
The Sunday People can disclose that officers suspect he is a 54-year-old former FSB spy thought to use the cover name Mihails Savickis as well as two other aliases
New reports claim he is a ‘ruthless’ martial arts specialist who goes by the English sounding codename Gordon and poses as security expert
Codenamed ‘Gordon’, the 54-year-old former FSB spy is thought to use the cover name Mihails Savickis and two other aliases, but is feared to have already flown back to Russia. Police believe a former spy codenamed ‘Gordon’ is behind the Salisbury attack Comes after Russia’s ambassador hinted Britain is behind the poisoning scandal. Alexander Yakovenko took issue with the OPCW’s report of the poisoning. Nine sites across Salisbury cordoned off as part of decontamination process. The multi-million pound operation is expected to last a number of months. Experts refused to rule out that deadly amount of the agent may still linger. British intelligence have identified key suspects in the Skripal case.
The police and MI5 will be given tough new powers to fast-track terrorist suspects to justice before they have finalised their attack plans after security chiefs admitted that they need a “step change” to keep the public safe.Documents leaked to The Sunday Times show that the security services will….
Britain is increasing bynearly 20 percent the number of staff within its finance ministry who are focused on detecting and investigating breaches of international economic sanctions, finance minister Philip Hammond said on Friday.
When I was working on the story of the attempted poisoning of former Colonel GRU Sergey Skripal in the English city of Salisbury, I managed to find a witness who confirmed that Russian special services have long been interested in deadly poisons. Felix Kubin used to do some assignments for a certain Bashir Kushtov, whom he calls a high-ranking strongman, and who carried out orders from then Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Rashid Nurgaliyev, but also had connections to the FSB. Later, Kubin exposed some of the provocations organized by Kushtov in an interview with the Russian opposition journalist Alexander Sotnik, after which Kubin asked for political asylum in the United States. Kubin now lives in Northern California, from where he shared with us chilling details of his communication with Russian special services about the use of poisons for assassinations. “Once, in a conversation with Kushtov, I mentioned that I know some chemists with their own high-tech laboratory for the manufacture of various substances.” Kushtov suggested that I buy from them, for good money, some interesting formula or technology for the manufacture of poison that he planned to immediately test on someone. He was mostly interested in poisons that could instantly kill a person even with the slightest contact or no contact at all, and also solvents capable of delivering the poison under the victim’s skin. Of course, I refused.” Kubin also shared that Kushtov, according to him, promised a good payment if the poison worked. “This means that the victims had already been selected, and the poison was going to be tried out on them,” – concluded Kubin. Poisons on the level of “Novichok” used on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Great Britain are developed not in private criminal laboratories, but at a much higher level. Kubin’s revelations once again confirm that in Russia, they kill at all levels: from the highest to the regional ones. Certain murders, of course, cannot be carried out without the prior approval “from the very top,” while “lower level” targets are determined by the local regional FSB – “Kadyrovtsy,” police, thugs, or simply corrupt security officials in collusion with thugs. It all depends on the level and the motives for the murder. And it is extremely naive to think that there is a single “hit list” or “kill list.” In fact, we do not know how many such lists exist today or will exist in the future. Some die from a bullet. Some are killed in a “gas explosion.” Still others suddenly fall out of a fifth-floor window. Human life in Russia depreciates daily. Sophisticated poisons like Novichok, produced in state labs under government supervision, are used on the well-known defectors. Other toxins, developed by illicit drug manufacturers on the orders of strongmen, are deployed on local targets. Some die from a bullet. Some are killed in a “gas explosion.” Still others suddenly fall out of a fifth-floor window. Human life in Russia depreciates daily. And really, what is life worth in a country that casually threatens the world with nuclear weapons, advises its own population on what to take with them to their bomb shelter, and talks about dying in a “blaze of glory”?
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. Vladimir Pastukhov (Photo: polit.ua) Vladimir Pastukhov (Photo: polit.ua) 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.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on Thursday that the use of chemical weapons “by anyone, anywhere, for any purposes was unacceptable”, the prime minister’s office said.
American law enforcement agencies are more than capable of protecting the double agent and his daughter, who barely survived a poisoning attempt.
Experts said that if nerve agents were used in Douma, evidence can remain for a “long time,” even though a fact-finding team’s arrival was delayed.
An international team was allowed into the Syrian town to investigate. Dozens of people were killed two weeks ago in the rebel-held area.
Four defense officials with knowledge of the deliberations said the move would be a response to Russian activities in the region.
60 Members of the European Parliament from 16 EU countries and 5 different political groups have signed an open letter calling upon EU governments to boycott the FIFA World Cup 2018, which is planned to be held in Russia. The letter was initiated by Rebecca Harms, expert on Eastern Europe of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament. The letter calls on government officials, who represent EU citizens, to join Island and the UK in boycotting the World Cup over Russia’s wars in Syria and Ukraine, war crimes in Syria, occupation of Crimea, and holding of Ukrainian political prisoners.
TEHRAN, Apr. 21 (MNA) – Iran’s Army Commander Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi says destroying the Zionist regime is one of the major targets of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), urging work towards that aim.
Head of Iranian army says his forces working to ensure collapse of Israel within 25 years; Hassan Nasrallah says his missiles can hit any target in Israel
Iran’s military head said Saturday that forces are preparing to ‘annihilate’ Israel’s Zionist regime within 25 years after recent threats between the foes.
Middle-East Arab News and Opinion – Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities
Iranian Pres. Rouhani affirmed his country’s willingness to aid in the post-civil war reconstruction of Syria, Tasnim news agency reported.
Israel released details on Tuesday about what it described as an Iranian “air force” deployed in neighbouring Syria, including civilian planes suspected of transferring arms, a signal that these could be attacked should tensions with Tehran escalate. Iran, along with Damascus and its big-power backer Russia, blamed Israel for an April 9 air strike on a Syrian air base, T-4, that killed seven Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) members. Iranian officials have promised unspecified reprisals. Israeli media ran satellite images and a map of five Syrian air bases allegedly used to field Iranian drones or cargo aircraft, as well as the names of three senior IRGC officers suspected of commanding related projects, such as missile units. The information came from the Israeli military, according to a wide range of television and radio stations and news websites. Israel’s military spokesman declined to comment. However, an Israeli security official seemed to acknowledge the leak was sanctioned, telling Reuters that it provided details about “the IRGC air force (which) the Israeli defence establishment sees as the entity that will try to attack Israel, based on Iranian threats to respond to the strike on T-4.” The official, who requested anonymity, would not elaborate. Israel’s Army Radio reported that, given tensions with Iran over Syria, the Israeli air force cancelled plans to send F-15 fighter jets to take part in the U.S.-hosted exercise Red Flag, which begins on April 30. “EXPOSED” Roni Daniel, military editor for The Israeli News Company, said the disclosure was a signal to Iran that its deployments in Syria “are totally exposed to us, and if you take action against us to avenge (the T-4 strike) these targets will be very severely harmed”. According to Daniel, Israel was bracing for a possible Iranian missile salvo or armed drone assault from Syria. There was no immediate response from the IRGC or Syria. The Iranian death toll in T-4 was unusually high. “It was the first time we attacked live Iranian targets – both facilities and people,” the New York Times on Sunday quoted an Israeli military source as saying.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the U.S. government of arrogance and belligerence, saying that Washington needed “a change in attitude” before any meaningful negotiations can begin over several U.S. citizens being held prisoner in Iran. “It is important… for the (Trump) administration to show the ability to engage in a respectful dialogue,” Zarif said. “The United States needs to learn how to treat other sovereign nations, particularly sovereign nations who do not depend on the United States for continued existence.” Zarif spoke to CBS’ Face the Nation on Friday; the full interview will be broadcast Sunday and portions of the transcript were made available to The Associated Press. At least five Iranians, all dual-American citizens or green-card holders, have been sentenced to prison in Iran on espionage-related charges, as has Chinese-American Princeton graduate student Xiyue Wang.
Iran threatens to resume nuclear programme
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran has “many options” if the U.S. pulls out of a nuclear agreement, adding that those options are “not pleasant.”
‘Face the Nation’ moderator Margaret Brennan sat down with the Iranian Foreign Minister for a discussion of sanctions, Mike Pompeo, and more.
A senior U.S. administration official has told reporters that President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron will discuss the Iran nuclear agreement at the White House when they meet n…
Yemeni Vice President Lt. Gen Ali Mohsen Saleh said on Sunday that the Arab coalition foiled Iran’s attempts to overthrow his country, Saudi state-news agency Al-Ekhbariya reported. During a meeting with Yemeni Ministry of Defense officials and Arab coalition leaders in Marib, Mohsen said the Iran-backed Houthi militia were targeting not only Yemen but also the security of the region and were seeking to undermine international peace.
The United States must decide what to do in Syria now that the successful airstrikes are over.
DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:30 P.M.) – Huge explosions ripped through the Syrian capital as precise airstrikes hit the last ISIS pocket in southern Damascus. The last insurgent-controlled enclave outside Damascus has come under heavy artillery and rocket shelling, as well as effective aerial bombardments conducted by Russian
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated on the television channel NTV on Saturday that the threat to Turkey in Syria comes primarily from …
Turkey’s ties with Russia are too strong to be broken by France’s president, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Monday, after Emmanuel Macron said…
The State Department report, which this year underwent significant alterations that reflected the change in administrations, also reproached Iran and North Korea.
On Friday, the State Department released its annual report on global human rights violations.
Marines kicked off a major exercise in Jordan that will include chemical and biological drills, and civilian evacuation training.
From poisoned arrows to deadly gases, chemicals have been used as weapons of war since Roman times.
In the eyes of some, lethal chemicals are legitimate and useful weapons of war. Proponents include Hafez al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein and, surprisingly, Winston Churchill. The strongest advocate for chemical weapons, though, was the man who invented them and won the Nobel prize for chemistry soon after: a brilliant, brutal German scientist named Fritz Haber. Most of the rest of us regard chemical weapons as the ultimate barbarity, a perversion of science condemned by almost universal consensus. One of the strongest opponents was Haber’s wife, Clara Immerwahr, a committed pacifist. In 1915 Haber, “the father of chemical warfare”, organised the first chlorine gas attack of the First World War, and was delighted with the results. “During peacetime a scientist belongs to the world,” he….