Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syrian CW Attack (57)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia seems determined to accelerate its descent into the abyss, with more absurd claims, very much now a source of mirth for Western media. Byman argues the headaches arising from declaring Russia a state sponsor of terrorism outweighs the benefits. Telegram debacle blowback continues, while Iran copies Russia’s folly. Kordonsky comments on Russia’s decay from within.

In the UK, NatSec Advisor Sedwill briefs MPs on the status of the Skripal investigation, noting that suspects have yet to be identified, and security is being increased for other intel defectors. The reports are competing for bandwidth with the Times’ investigation into Russian use of Twitter bots to meddle in the last UK election.

The Middle East has seen an interesting three days. Excellent analysis by former DEFMIN Arens on the likely blowback from Russia’s supply of S-300PMU2 systems to Syria – another high-risk low payoff play by Muscovy. Good observations by INN, indeed S-300PMU2 batteries in Western Syria could take shots at civil air traffic all over Israel – A2/AD versus civil assets. Kuwaiti press report that weekend explosions speculated to be an Israeli strike, destroyed eight hangars containing Fateh 110 TBMs, an Iranian Tochka U / SS-21 SCARAB lookalike, while Russians claim 200 of the missiles were destroyed. Much speculation on war between Israel and Iran, Israel and Syria, and Israel and Russia.

PM Netanyahu’s briefing on the haul of documents from Iran has been THE bandwidth glutton overnight, displacing most other news traffic on Iran and Syria.  Much controversy in the Western media, the dividing line being advocacy or rejection of the Obama Administrations deal with Iran. Israel offers access to IAEA, U.K., France, Germany, Russia, and China, indicating the source material they collected is sound. How much will be made public remains to be determined.

TASS: World – Russia’s embassy dubs The Sunday Times publication as information campaign

The Sunday Times has released a publication that claims that «Russian bots» tried to swing last June’s snap general election in favor of British Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn

Israel Eyeing ‘Regime Change’ in Iran, Analyst Says – Sputnik International

The Syrian army has announced that “enemy” rockets rained down on a number of military facilities belonging to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. According to reports, one of the strikes targeted a weapons depot, and destroyed approximately 200 missiles.

SOCOM boss: Adversaries are disabling Air Force gunships in Syria

Adversaries in Syria are attempting to use aggressive electronic warfare capabilities to disable the Air Force’s gunships.

Daniel Byman | Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism—But don’t treat it that way

Editor’s Note: Russia is indeed a sponsor of terrorism, writes Daniel Byman. But designating it as such would be counterproductive, and a closer look at the question shows the limits of designation as a tool of U.S. foreign policy. This piece originally appeared on Lawfare.

Russia Versus West – THE DAYAFTER

Suppose another “chemical” or some other incident takes place in Syria. The “chemical” trigger looks most likely. This theme is well-covered by the media and is a serious pretext. Suppose Washington decides to use force, not just a cosmetic strike with ten or twenty Tomahawks, but a massive attack on the remaining military and civilian infrastructure of the Syrian Government. This is the scenario’s first bifurcation, or the matter of Russia’s involvement. Its bases can remain intact. But if Moscow uses its forces (as its military promised) a strike will be delivered at Khmeimim and Tartus. Technically it is possible to launch such a strike and destroy both bases and their military personnel, especially if US troops die during an attack on Bashar al-Assad. This could be like a new 19th-century Crimean war, albeit extremely compressed in time and space. This scenario may seem extremely risky (if not crazy) but upon closer analysis it has logic of its own. And here comes the next bifurcation. What will Moscow do, if this happens? The first option (that would be the most desirable for Washington): Russia would have to bite the dust and admit defeat. Yes, Russia is a nuclear power but will it mount a nuclear strike because of a clash with the Americans in Syria, knowing that its strike will result in retaliation? In other words, the stakes here are on the hope that Moscow will not press the button because this would mean suicide. In this scenario, victory would be on Washington’s side without reservation. But there is also a second option. It is difficult to analyze it on the basis of the theory of rational choice. It may simply not work within Russia’s strategic culture and tradition. The Russians may press the button. Moscow is not confined to the option of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). It can also offer a limited, albeit very painful, response. Technically this is also possible and dangerous on its own. It is possible to avoid the disaster in two ways: either by starting negotiations and finding a compromise or by strengthening alliances and maintaining a balance of power. The current realities are making the second option more likely. In all probability, Moscow will continue its course towards a rapprochement with China and other players and a new model of bipolarity will take shape in the world. However, making forecasts in international relations is a thankless task. History will follow its own path, a path it alone can fathom.

Iran, Like Russia Before It, Tries to Block Telegram App – The New York Times

The encrypted social media app is the service restrictive governments love to hate, but they are often powerless to shut it down entirely.

Iran Clamps Down on Telegram App, Blaming It for Unrest – WSJ

The Iranian regime moved to shut down the messaging app Telegram, highlighting its concern over the popular platform’s role in organizing widespread street protests that have rippled through the country.

‘They Want to Block Our Future’: Thousands Protest Russia’s Internet Censorship – The New York Times

The rally, which began as a protest of the crackdown on the Telegram messenger app, quickly morphed into a protest against Vladimir V. Putin.

Russians Protest Effort To Block Telegram Messaging App

Thousands of people threw paper airplanes in central Moscow to protest against efforts by the Russian government to block the Telegram messaging app.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: ‘Russia is Escaping from the State’s Control and the State is Panicking,’ Kordonsky Says

Paul Goble Staunton, April 30 – In the course of a wide-ranging interview published in Kazan’s Business-Gazeta today, Moscow sociologist Simon Kordonsky says that Russia is in “an interesting situation: there is the state and there is the country.” The country is generating many things on its own, but the state views them as a threat. To counter these developments, he says, “the state creates simulacra of those processes in order to organize them and gradually draw them into itself. A new state reality arises, which pretends to be a natural process” but is really a fraud. “The country is coming out from under the state’s control, and the state is panicking” ( Vladimir Putin isn’t mediating between the state and the country, Kordonsky says. He makes decisions, and a primary basis of his support is that people fear if he suddenly decides to leave the scene no one will be in a position to determine the flow of resources and everything will collapse. “Putin does not express the interests of the bureaucrats,” he continues, “because [Russia] doesn’t have any. They exist in a democratic society where business is separate from power. With us the situation is different: the economy is completely intertwined with the state, and therefore we do not have a bureaucracy.” The foreign threat that Putin uses to mobilize people is completely invented, Kordonsky says. “In fact, no one considers us an enemy. Count the frequency of references to Russia in the Western press. For weeks at a time, no one remembers us at all … In fact, we aren’t needed by anyone” – and that is something Putin and his regime can’t tolerate. Speaking about the future of the non-Russian republics, Kordonsky suggests they are doomed. “The national-territorial structures inherited by us from the USSR do not fit into the current administrative-territorial structure which has already been formed” in the Russian Federation. “Consequently,” he says, “it is necessary to destroy the national-territorial structure and bring the structure of the country into a single unity. I think that the final resource of this process will be the formation of cultural autonomies and the separation of the national from the economic and administrative-political.” This process, Kordonsky argues, “is needed for the preservation of the state. I don’t know in what other country one could find such a national-territorial system. It seems to be Russia’s is unique given that it has an eight-level hierarchy. This is too much for a country. In the United States, there are only five levels.” As for the “ethno-stratas of Tatars and Bashkirs,” a phenomenon that is also part of the Soviet heritage, they state can’t tolerate their continued independence of action. “They were created in the framework of Leninist-Stalinist nationality policy, and now they are beginning to live their own lives, pretending to a role of self-standing political nations.” The process of destroying the non-Russian republics may lead to “revolts,” Kordonsky says. “Revolts after all are natural in the absence of a political structure for the resolution of different interests. But they are situational and local, and the state has learned how to struggle with them.” If things get bad, Moscow will employ all the force at its command. “Ethno-stratas will be preserved as cultural autonomies but not as political units,” he argues. Those who think otherwise are being extremely unrealistic. Kordonsky makes a large number of other intriguing comments. Among the most interesting are:

  • “Our futurologists specialize in anti-utopias because they get more money for coming up with things that scare people.”
  • In Russia, “classes in the former sense do not exist. There are only strata and proto-strata” within which there are various levels of consumption.
  • “Classes are divided according to the level of consumption, but strata by the level of their importance for the state. This is a difference in principle. Strata are needed for the neutralization of threats: If there is a foreign threat, a professional strong army appears. If there is a domestic one, the Russian Guard appears.”
  • “These proto-strata are only very slowly taking shape as strata because this is a process which takes a generation.”
  • “The rebirth of the church is a material form of repentance;” it doesn’t reflect a religious revival because “the majority of ordinary parishioners do not have this feeling.”

The Russian reality TV star who ran against Putin: ‘He has been a tsar for years’ | World news | The Guardian

Ksenia Sobchak polled just 1.6% in Russia’s election but she remains a divisive figure – to some a liberaliser who dreams of toppling the current regime , to others an establishment stooge. What’s her true agenda?

No suspects yet in Skripal nerve agent attack, MPs told | UK news | The Guardian

UK national security adviser’s admission dashes hopes that police were withholding names

UK has not yet identified Skripal poisoning suspects | Reuters

Britain has not identified the suspects who carried out the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal but is stepping up protection for other defectors who might also be at risk, the UK’s national security adviser said on Tuesday.

Skripal poisoning suspects not yet identified, security increased for other targets, UK says – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Britain has not identified the suspects who carried out the poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, but is stepping up protection for other defectors who might also be at risk, the UK’s national security adviser says.

Police reviewing security of defected Russian spies in UK after Salisbury nerve agent attack | The Independent

Police are reviewing the security of all defected Russian spies living in the UK in the wake of the attack on Sergei Skripal, officials have revealed. Sir Mark Sedwill, the national security adviser, said investigators have not yet identified who poisoned the former double agent and his daughter with nerve agent in Salisbury.

How Russian bots invaded Twitter to fight in Jeremy Corbyn’s army | News | The Sunday Times

It was the moment that brought a tear to the eye of the prime minister. At 10pm on June 8, 2017, a shock exit poll revealed that Theresa May’s seemingly well-judged gamble of bolstering her majority with a snap general election had backfired. The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, had defied expectations

Exposed: Russian Twitter bots tried to swing general election for Jeremy Corbyn | News | The Sunday Times

The first evidence of Russian attempts to influence the result of the general election by promoting the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has emerged in a ground-breaking investigation into social media by this newspaper.Our research, in conjunction with Swansea University, discovered that 6,500 Russian

Russian Twitter bots tried to swing the election for Jeremy Corbyn | Daily Mail Online

Around 6,500 automated accounts sent messages praising Jeremy Corbyn and his policies in the closing stages of last year’s election, the study found.

GOROKH | Nerve Gas, Spies and Secret Briefings | The Cornell Daily Sun

Following politics can be frustrating. You see decisions made on the basis of private motives and private information. Whatever efforts you make in inferring the missing pieces are often thwarted by the fact that some actions are motivated by nothing but plain human stupidity. So instead I kick back and stream the new season of […]

Moshe Arens | How Putin’s Syria gambit could end with Israel revealing its military superiority – Syria –

For the first time since the beginning of the Russian intervention in Syria, Putin may find himself in direct confrontation with Israel. Vladimir Putin has shown himself to be quite astute in establishing a Russian presence in Syria. After waiting for the Americans to make it clear that they did not intend to get involved in the fighting there,…

Putin’s gambit could backfire – Opinion – Israel News |

For the first time since the beginning of the Russian intervention in Syria, Putin may find himself in direct confrontation with Israel

ANALYSIS: What Israel should do about S-300 anti-aircraft system – Israel National News

Russian S-300 anti-aircraft system could allow Syria to shoot down planes at Ben Gurion Airport, interfere with IAF operations.

Israel vs. Iran: Winds of war in Jerusalem – with backing from Washington – Israel News –

Israel is determined to oust Iran from Syria, but if it miscalculates, Hezbollah and Hamas could be thrown into the ring. Netanyahu is prepared to undertake risks – bordering on gambling

Israel reportedly warns it will strike Iran directly if attacked

Israeli defense and political sources have told Russia and the United States that if Iran or its proxy, Hezbollah, attack Israel from neighboring Syria, the…

New Syria Strikes Cause Earthquake As Israel Drops ‘Intelligence Bombshell’ About Iran – The Drive

The apparent Israeli mission over Syria comes as the U.S. and Israel step up their criticism of the international deal over Iran’s nuclear programs.

Report: 8 Syrian Hangars Containing Iranian Fateh 110 Missiles Destroyed in Sunday’s Raid | The Jewish Press – | David Israel | 16 Iyyar 5778 – May 1, 2018 |

The Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida on Monday claimed that the Sunday attack on a Syrian base which had been attributed to Israel killed 40 people, including 18 Iranians and Afghans. The newspaper reported that the main target of the attack was the launch sites of Iranian surface to surface missiles aimed at targets deep inside Israel.

Fateh-110 | Missile Threat

Fateh-110 is an Iranian short-range ballistic missile.

Iran has few options to avenge Syria strikes – An-Nahar English

Though it has long made threats about Israel’s existence, Iran doesn’t have a modern air force to take on Israel.

Israel is stomping on Iran — and it could bring one of the worst wars the Middle East has ever seen | Business Insider

Israel on Monday announced that its intelligence operatives had entered Iran, stolen a trove of secret documents about a clandestine nuclear program, and accused Tehran of cheating on the Iran deal. On Sunday, experts accused Israel of striking and killing Iranian troops in Syria, a marked escalation of military conflict. Israel has been punishing Iran and walking all over Syria as the US expresses its support for Jerusalem. The result could be a massive war breaking out across the already heavily-conflicted Middle East.

A wider conflict is coming to the Middle East unless Iran mends its ways

Just two weeks ago, when the US, Britain and France bombed Syrian chemical warfare facilities, concern that this would trigger a wider conflict with Russia and other protagonists in the civil war was confounded.

Israel Spells Out Iranian Activities It Won’t Tolerate in Syria

Israel will do whatever it takes to wipe out Iranian military capabilities in Syria, even if that means targeting heavily populated neighborhoods, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu …

Pentagon: Israel makes sovereign decisions on Syria | The Koz Times

On Monday evening, April 30, the Minister of defence of the USA James Mattis, speaking at a press conference at the Pentagon, commented on reports about the involvement of Israel to a recent rocket attack on the warehouses in Syria. Recall that Israel did not take responsibility for this attack, which, according to media reports, was destroyed 200 missiles at Iranian warehouses in Syria, and killed tens of people, including the Iranians. Mattis in his speech talked about how involved Israel or any other country to this attack on targets in Syria. However, he stressed that the Israeli authorities take sovereign decisions on military action in Syria, the U.S. is not trying to influence the Israelis, or to play any role in such decisions. The head of the U.S. defense Department has criticized the policies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against his own people and declared the inadmissibility of the development of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria.

Everything You Need to Know about the Cruise-Missile Strikes in Syria

Russia continues to insist that Syrian forces shot down a majority of the allied cruise missiles launched against the Assad regime by the United States, France and the United Kingdom on April 13, 2018. The Pentagon maintains that all of the missiles launched against Syria hit their targets. Russia

UAWire – Ankara: Turkey will purchase Russian S-400 missile systems despite the threat of US sanctions

Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, stated that Turkey has decided to go ahead with plans to purchase the S-400 Air Defense Systems from Russia despite sanctions imposed by the United States, Radio Liberty reports. Cavusoglu stressed that the purchase agreement worth 2.5 billion dollars was signed in December and cannot be revised. According to him, Russia is “accelerating the process” of delivering the Russian missile system, as requested by Ankara. “We have completed the deal for acquiring the S-400,” Cavusoglu stated. “The approach [of the United States] to impose sanctions has no effect on Turkey. Turkey does not accept this.” Cavusoglu stated that Turkey is ready to acquire other weapons from NATO. Previously, the United States Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, warned Turkey against purchasing Russian air-to-surface missiles. He reminded Ankara that it may face sanctions for purchasing the Russian S-400 system. In December 2017, Turkey’s Deputy Defense Minister announced that the first deliveries of the missile system are scheduled to arrive in early 2020. As Turkey is a NATO member and S-400 missile systems cannot be integrated into the alliance’s defense, Turkey’s deal with Russia has raised concerns in the West.

Iran warns it can ‘enrich uranium higher’ than before if U.S. exits nuclear deal – Iran Nuclear Deal –

‘I hope Trump comes to his senses and stays in the deal,’ says Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization

Netanyahu and Iran’s Atomic Archive: What’s New and What’s Not – Defense One

Among the new bits: Tehran\’s nuclear planners envisioned an arsenal so small as to make Kim Jong Un giggle.

Expert Analysis: Is This The End Of The Iran Deal? |

With only days to go before U.S. President Trump makes a final decision about the Iran nuclear deal, oil markets are holding their breath as fresh sanctions could significantly impact Iranian crude production and exports

All the flair of a stage magician, but little was new | World | The Times

In his presentation, Mr Netanyahu promised to reveal information about Iran’s nuclear weapons programme that the world had never seen before.In reality, little of it was new or surprising to an informed observer. All of it was known to the UN atomic watchdog before 2011 and US intelligence had

Netanyahu: Iran nuclear deal is based on lies – here’s the proof – Israel News –

‘Iran did not come clean on its nuclear program,’ Netanyahu says, saying more than 100,000 Iranian documents Israel obtained prove nuclear ‘deal is based on lies’ ■ Speech comes on heels of strike against two bases in Syria and ahead of Trump’s decision on nuclear deal

Netanyahu told Trump about Iran claims in March, senior official says | Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed U.S. President Donald Trump about evidence of a past secret Iranian nuclear arms programme in March, a senior Israeli official said, a move apparently aimed at killing an international deal with Tehran that both leaders oppose.

Netanyahu Pitches to Trump: Claims New Intel Shows Iran Lied About Old Nuclear Program

The Iran accord was designed to make sure Iran could not build a weapon—especially if it was lying about what it did before 2003. But inspections could end if Trump dumps it.

Israel says Iran hid nuclear arms programme – BBC News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reveals what he says are “Iran’s secret nuclear files”.

Netanyahu: We invite world to examine new materials we revealed on Iran’s nuclear program – Iran Nuclear Deal –

‘We’ve turned a lot of question marks into exclamation marks,’ Netanyahu says, inviting U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China to examine cache of documents

Israel’s Iran documents show nuclear deal ‘was built on lies’ – BBC News

The US secretary of state says documents presented by Israel show Iran “hid a vast atomic archive”.

Netanyahu says he has proof of secret Iranian nuclear program – CNN

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has evidence that Iranian officials were “brazenly lying” when they said Iran wasn’t pursuing nuclear weapons and that the Islamic republic is keeping an “atomic archive” at a secret compound.

Benjamin Netanyahu defends ‘Iran lied’ presentation – CNN

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a robust defense Tuesday of a dramatic presentation in which he accused Iran of “brazenly lying” over its nuclear ambitions, after claims that he had revealed nothing new.