Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syrian CW Attack (59)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

</end editorial>

Russia’s self-flagellation campaign gaining momentum again, with mainly bizarre claims about the UK and Salisbury. FLANKER H falls into the bay off Hmeimim, crew of two KIA. Claims IAF destroyed Iranian TBM stocks using SDBs. Telegram debacle continues, while emigre Iranian computer scientists develop Telegram-lookalike capable of evading surveillance.

Interesting reports from the UK. Foreign Office tells media: “The foreign secretary regards Russia’s response to Douma and Salisbury as a turning point and thinks there is international support to do more,” and“The areas the UK are most likely to pursue are countering Russian disinformation and finding a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons.” UN SECGEN meets PM and they discuss Salisbury. UK media explore Russian propaganda. More on Novichok collateral in Salisbury. Other backfill reports.

In the Middle East, Iran vs Israel vs Russia argumentation continues. DEFMIN Liebermann interviewed by Kommersant, says Israel will take out S-300PMU2 batteries if used against Israel, and pleads with Russians not to force Israel into conflict. Iranian threats against Israel escalate further.

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Lavrov slams UK denial of Russian consular access to Skripals as tantamount to kidnapping

The Russian top diplomat comment son the Scripal poisoning case

Is the Russian embassy in the UK writing letters to itself?

By Sarah Hurst (@XSovietNews), for StopFake The Russian embassy in the UK has been publishing a daily selection of “letters of support from ordinary UK citizens” on its notoriously inflammatory Twitter account (@RussianEmbassy). The embassy first mentioned that it had been receiving letters in the wake of the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in a tweet on March 14, but the first letters only appeared on April 9. Up to and including May 2 a total of 73 letters have been presented, but on closer examination four turned out to be duplicates, published on different days, so the real total number is 69.

D-notice banning media from reporting on Salisbury affair / Russian peacekeeper

A fuss in British media around the Salisbury affair is desappearing. Sir Mark Sedwill, the UK’s national security adviser, said that police and intelligence agencies failed so far to identify the individual or individuals who carried out the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Asked by an MP at a Commons defence committee hearing if he knew the individuals responsible, he replied curtly: “Not yet.” However, Daily Mirror, The Sun, Sunday People and other media reported that British police and intelligence had identified a former Russian spy codenamed ‘Gordon’ as suspect in the attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Now the British media do not suggest theories as to what happened in Salisbury, but continue to claim that the UK is “vulnerable” to Russian attacks. The British media are criticized for the unfair treatment. There are still many people in the UK who are sceptical of Russian responsibility for Skripal poisoning. Alex Thomsen, Channel 4 journalist, tweeted on March 12, 2018: “The only decisive public move by the authorities has been to censor MSM via a D Notice last week from identifying Mr Skripal’s handler living nearby…”

UK media told to conceal connections between Sergei Skripal and MI6 – World Socialist Web Site

A former UK ambassador has published evidence suggesting that a “D-notice” has been issued to the press—a request to stop the publication of potentially damaging news stories. Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, has published evidence suggesting that a D-notice has been issued to the press to protect MI6, hiding its connections to the Russian double-agent, Sergei Skripal. According to the Conservative government and a pliant media, Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were poisoned by Russia with a “novichok” nerve agent. A D-notice (Defence and Security Media Advisory Notice) is used by the British state to veto the publication of potentially damaging news stories. Formally a request to withhold publication, the slavishness of the mainstream media ensures these notices function for the most part as gag orders. Murray initially reported the claims of famous whistleblower Clive Ponting that a D-notice had likely been issued in relation to some aspect of the Skripal affair. He then noted Channel 4 journalist Charles Thomson’s confirmation that a D-notice had, in fact, been issued and that it related specifically to censoring the identity of Skripal’s MI6 handler. Murray suggests that the MI6 agent in question is called Pablo Miller. As Murray notes, the specific attempt to protect Miller’s identity is highly significant. Miller is an associate of former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele, first in espionage operations in Russia and more recently in the activities of Steele’s private intelligence firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.

2 killed as Russian Su-30SM jet crashes off Syrian coast — RT World News

A Russian military jet has crashed off the coast of Syria’s Latakia, killing two pilots on board, the Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed.

Two Russian Pilots Killed In Fighter Jet Crash In Syria

The Russian Defense Ministry says a military plane has crashed in Syria, killing two pilots aboard.

Two dead after Russian military plane crashes – CNN

A Russian military aircraft crashed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Syria, killing both pilots on board, according to state media.

Advanced Russian war plane crashes in Syria, killing two crew

An advanced Russian multi-role fighter plane crashed in Syria on Thursday morning shortly after take-off, killing both members of its crew, the Russian military was cited as saying by Russian news agencies. Agencies cited the Ministry of Defence in Moscow as saying its two crew members had tried in

Russian jet intercepts US Navy plane – To Inform is to Influence

It seems Russia is fixating on being a constant pain to the West, especially the US and the UK. Now that tensions are reducing elsewhere, Russia is seemingly provoking an incident in the Baltic Sea.  It is unclear the motivation behind this needlessly brazen act. It could be to distract attention from a possible invasion…

Named the cause of the inactivity of Russian air defense systems in Syria –

The Israeli air force used a special type of ammunition. In the night from 29 to 30 April, the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic was subjected to massive missile and air strikes, which was completely destroyed two Syrian military bases. At the moment it is known that in the operation involved four Israeli F-15 fighter aircraft and four fighters of the Western coalition. Due to the fact that neither Russia nor Syria has taken any measures to destroy their means of defense any action, that is, in fact, none of the missiles were able to hit the targets, the Russian military was aimed sharp criticism at the same time, Russia was accused of using both ineffective air defense systems, and low efficiency of radar, which simply missed a massive air RAID.

The top 10 countries that bought Russia’s most powerful weapons in 2017 | Business Insider

Russia exported approximately $US15 billion worth of weapons to 53 countries around the world in 2017, AFP reported in February, citing Alexander Mikheev, the CEO of Rosoboronexport. About $US6.14 billion of that $US15 billion was of major weaponry, including military aircraft, ships, armoured vehicles, guided munitions, and more, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. SIPRI is an independent research group that collects detailed data on major weapons transfers, including the countries they’re exported to and imported from. Nearly $US4 billion of the $US6.14 billion exported was of military aircraft, SIPRI reported. While SIPRI’s data doesn’t include unguided munitions, small arms, and other equipment, it’s “pretty representative” of which countries are buying the most weaponry as a whole from Russia, Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher at SIPRI, told Business Insider. Here are the 10 countries that bought the most major weaponry from Russia in 2017:

Window on Eurasia — New Series: What the SIPRI Numbers about Russia’s Defense Budget Mean and What They Don’t

Paul Goble Staunton, May 2 – Almost all Russian news outlets function during this holiday week have carried stories about the conclusions of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute that Russia cut its defense spending by 20 percent between 2016 and 2017, the first such reduction in defense spending in Putin’s time ( SIPRI says that “the modernization of the military remains a priority for Russia, but the military budget was cut in connection with the economic problems with which that country has encountered since 2014.” Both the reported reduction and its cause are certain to be the subject of much commentary in the coming days. And so it is important to understand the limitations of these figures as well as the reasons that the Kremlin may in fact have reduced its spending on the military and what such cuts will mean both in terms of Russia’s ability to project power and build the next generation of weapons that Vladimir Putin has talked about. First and foremost, estimating Russian defense spending is notoriously difficult. Not only are large and changing segments of Moscow’s spending in this area classified or hidden within other line items in the budget, but the normal divisions between government and business do not apply in the Russian case. Consequently, all estimates, including ones by as distinguished and careful an institution as SIPRI, must be treated with care, and both specific dollar amounts and specific percentages should be assumed to be approximations rather than exact figures. It is thus likely that actual Russian spending is higher than this report and that the decline may very well be less. Second, at least part of the reduction in spending may have to do with the reduction in Russian fighting in Ukraine, even though that was likely partially compensated for by increasing spending in Syria and other theaters. But however that may be, the amount SIPRI gives is still enough to ensure that Moscow can project power in the ways that it has up to now. That in turn means that no one in the West should be assuming that the sanctions it has imposed on Moscow up to now have effectively blocked the Kremlin’s ability to engage in aggressive actions in the post-Soviet space or get involved militarily further afield as in Syria or the Central African Republic. Moscow likely has enough funds to do what it wants in this regard. But third, the SIPRI report even with the caveats suggested above means that there is almost no way for Moscow to make the defense breakthroughs Vladimir Putin was talking about on March 1 or even to bring the Russian navy up to genuine competitive status with other powers like China in its theater or the US more broadly. Most commentators had been skeptical about Moscow’s ability to do either already before the SIPRI figures were announced. The new numbers will only add to that skepticism. Once again, ever more Russians and others will see that Putin has talked boldly but doesn’t have the funds or the infrastructure to back up his words. That more than almost anything else will cast a shadow over his approaching new term in office.

Is Russian Strategy Shifting? – To Inform is to Influence

By all reasonable expectations, Russia cannot stay on its current path and hope to survive.  The operative word being “reasonable”.  As we have come to see in the past four years, Vladimir Putin’s actions are often anything but reasonable.  If Alexei Kudrin is appointed to a heavyweight role in charge of outreach to Europe and…

Russian Censors Struggling to Block Telegram App

Government is struggling to block messaging app Telegram, and its bid to cut access to instant messenger platform is causing widespread disruption to an array of websites and online services that have nothing to do with Telegram

Russian Communications Minister Says Viber Messaging App May Be Blocked

Russia’s communications minister, Nikolai Nikiforov, says a court may move to block the Viber messaging app if it follows the example of the Telegram messaging service and refuses to provide encryp…

International Rights Groups Implore Russia to ‘Unblock’ Telegram – To Inform is to Influence

The 14.5 million blocked IP addresses are affecting Google and Amazon, among dozens of other websites and applications.  In related news, Signal, the secure encryption app, has been exposed as hijacking Amazon IP addresses as a result.  Amazon threatens to suspend Signal’s AWS account over censorship circumvention.  In this case, Signal is clearly identified as “circumvention technology”, an…

Iranian Expats Launch Own Telegram ‘With Built-In Proxy’ To Counter Filtering At Home

Two London-based Iranians developed a new version of the popular social media app Telegram to counter a ban by Iran’s hard-line judiciary.

Revealed: UK’s push to strengthen anti-Russia alliance | World news | The Guardian

Exclusive: ministers will use series of summits to pursue containment strategy and urge rethink of diplomatic dialogue. The UK will use a series of international summits this year to call for a comprehensive strategy to combat Russian disinformation and urge a rethink over traditional diplomatic dialogue with Moscow, following the Kremlin’s aggressive campaign of denials over the use of chemical weapons in the UK and Syria. British diplomats plan to use four major summits this year – the G7, the G20, Nato and the European Union – to try to deepen the alliance against Russia hastily built by the Foreign Office after the poisoning of the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in March. “The foreign secretary regards Russia’s response to Douma and Salisbury as a turning point and thinks there is international support to do more,” a Whitehall official said. “The areas the UK are most likely to pursue are countering Russian disinformation and finding a mechanism to enforce accountability for the use of chemical weapons.” Former Foreign Office officials admit that an institutional reluctance to call out Russia once permeated British diplomatic thinking, but say that after poisoning of Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, that attitude is evaporating. A cross-party alliance in parliament has developed, which sees the question of Russian corruption no longer through the prism of finance, but instead as a security and foreign policy threat, requiring fresh sanctions even if this causes short-term economic damage to the UK. Ministers want to pursue a broad Russian containment strategy at the coming summits covering cybersecurity, Nato’s military posture, sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs and a more comprehensive approach to Russian disinformation.

PM raises Salisbury nerve agent attack with UN secretary-general in No 10 talks | BT

Antonio Guterres met Theresa May to discuss global challenges.

Clickbait and Skripal jokes: Russia’s RT thrives online | Media | The Guardian

With its TV channel under Ofcom investigation, RT’s future in the UK could lie in its irreverent, unregulated website

‘Deny, distract and blame’: how Russia fights propaganda war | UK news | The Guardian

Russia’s embassy in London is a key part of disinformation strategy over poisoning of Skripals in Salisbury

Sergei Skripal and his daughter may have got Novichok on their shoes | Daily Mail Online

Police believe that the so called ‘Novichok trail’ that crosses Salisbury may have got worse because the nerve agent may have been on Sergei and Yulia Skripal’s hands and feet. So-called ‘Novichok trail’ crossing Salisbury could be even bigger than thought. Sergei and Yulia Skripal found critically ill on bench in city centre on March 4. ‘Messy’ assassination attempt and rain may have got it on their hands and feet. Police, nurse and children feeding the ducks also came into contact with agent .

Salisbury poisoning: Gloves failed to shield sergeant from novichok | News | The Times

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was wearing police-issue gloves when he grabbed the handle of Sergei Skripal’s front door soon after the former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned — but if he thought that would offer him protection, he was wrong. Mr Bailey was contaminated by the deadly novic

Police Professional :: News :: No suspects identified in Salisbury nerve agent attack, MPs hear

Law enforcement agencies in the UK are reviewing the security of all people who “might be vulnerable” in the wake of the attack on Sergei Skripal. The Salisbury nerve agent attack has changed the security services’ appreciation of which dissidents and defectors could be at risk from revenge action, national security adviser Sir Mark Sedwill claims. MPs were given an update from Sir Mark who admitted investigators have not yet identified who poisoned the former double agent and his daughter Yulia on March 4. Mr Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter were left in a critical condition after being found unconscious on a city centre bench. Wiltshire Police officer Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, a first responder to the couple, was also left in a serious condition. Both Ms Skripal and the officer have been allowed home from hospital but Mr Skripal is still being treated. He is recovering more slowly but is expected to eventually be discharged. A small amount of the nerve agent Novichok – in liquid form – is believed to have been used to target the Skripals. The UK government says the military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia was used in the attack, although Moscow totally denies any involvement. Questioned by the Commons Defence Committee on Tuesday (May 1) if he knew the individuals responsible, he replied: “Not yet.”

UK: there are no official suspects in Skripal case

Previously, media reported that ex-FSB agent ‘Gordon’ was one of the defendants. There are no suspects in the case of poisoning of former GRU agent Sergei Skripal. This is announced by British National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill. He said that the investigation has yet to reveal the direct perpetrators of the poisoning. “Not quite yet,” RIA Novosti quoted the adviser during a hearing in the Defense Committee of the British Parliament. As previously reported by The CrimeRussia citing the British media, the alleged person involved in the case is a former agent of the Russian special services nicknamed Gordon (also known as Mikhail Savitskis).

Missing Yulia Skripal has strange double

The desperate relatives of Sergei Skripal raise alarm. In the evening of May 1, an open letter appeared on the social network pages of Victoria Skripal addressed to her cousin Yulia. The woman expresses her concern at the total lack of information about the well being of her family. She writes that Yulia does not get in touch with them, and neither she nor her father, GRU former Colonel, calls them. Also, Victoria offers her sister help: to pick up a girl’s dog Noir from the dog’s hotel (previously MK wrote that Victoria had already tried to take the dog from the cynological center), and to take care of her apartment and cars. Victoria notes that she needs a power of attorney, which Yulia, if she wishes, can pass through the consular department of the Russian embassy in any country. As Victoria Skripal told MK, she posted the letter out of despair. According to the niece of the former spy, the first and only conversation with her sister did not clarify the situation, on the contrary, after that, she had even more questions and distrust of the statements that are published on behalf of Yulia Skripal. In addition, Victoria expressed a lack of understanding of her uncle and sister whereabouts. “It’s very strange that no one shows a video or a photo of Sergei Viktorovich. Nobody tells anything, our diplomats face ambiguity. And I have a power of attorney from his mother – his closest relative, and I have a right to know what’s wrong with him,” Victoria Skripal is indignant. “Yulia does not call, it seems that she is forbidden to get in touch with us. I can admit that she does not want to see me, but she herself must tell me this and explain everything. Everything she told me during phone calls, I mean, when she avoided answers and said that no one would let me to them – I do not perceive, she could tell these out of her own free will or for reasons of my safety. Instead of our beloved sister, her fake communicates with us (with her cousins – Victoria and Elena) on Twitter. According to Victoria, she expects that the open appeal will be noticed and Yulia will answer. She believes that her sister has an opportunity to respond, they are waiting for her in Russia and her relatives are ready to help her.

Israeli defense chief tells Russian daily: If air defense systems fire on us, we will respond – Israel News –

Israel always takes Russian interests into account and hopes they take Israel’s security interests into account, Avigdor Lieberman tells Kommersant

Liberman: ‘If S-300 systems fire on our planes – we will respond’ – Israel National News

Defense Minister: We will not tolerate Iranian attempts to turn Syria into an outpost against Israel. ‘Any attempt will be thwarted.’

Israel to Russia – We sat out Western sanctions, so help us in Mideast | Reuters

Israel’s defence minister reminded Russia on Thursday of his government’s decision not to join Western sanctions against it, and asked that Moscow reciprocate with a more pro-Israel approach to Syria and Iran.

Israel ‘not looking for fight with Russia’: Lieberman | Middle East | Worldbulletin News

But Israel will target Russia-supplied S-300 air-defense batteries if used against Israeli aircraft, defense minister says

Liberman to Russian media: Israel ‘did not join’ Western action against Moscow | The Times of Israel

In interview with Kommersant, defense minister reiterates that Israel would destroy S-300 missile defense system in Syria if was used against Israeli jets

Lieberman: Russia should support our vital Mideast interests

In interview with Russian daily, defense minister says special relationship and open, transparent discourse with Russia should lead to consideration of Israeli interests; vows to retaliate if Russian S-300 systems in Syria are turned against Israel.

Can Israel’s Clash With Iran Be Contained in Syria? – WSJ

The direct military conflict between Israel and Iran has begun, with a series of bold (and usually unacknowledged) Israeli strikes on Iranian bases in Syria. The question now is whether this violence could spread to Israeli, Iranian and maybe Lebanese territory.

Israel, Iran Draw Closer to War as Apocalyptic Rhetoric Heats Up |

Israel, Iran Draw Closer to War as Apocalyptic Rhetoric Heats Up

Are Israel and Iran about to clash head-on over Syria?

Years of mediation by Russia have helped keep a direct Israeli-Iranian conflict off the agenda. But things have changed.

No war to see here. Just a game of Iranian-Israeli chicken | Middle East Eye

For all the power point presentations and rhetoric, neither Iran, nor Israel has any intention of starting a war. It would disrupt their interests

Syria crisis enters new danger zone | TheHill

It is incumbent on leaders across the globe to avoid the temptation to look away from this conflict.

Israel’s parliament approves bill allowing PM to declare war – The Washington Post

The Israeli parliament has approved a law empowering the country’s prime minister and defense minister to declare war without full Cabinet approval in “extreme circumstances.”

Calling Assad the Milošević of the Middle East is Not Unreasonable

Iran’s Javad Zarif made clear to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that he doesn’t agree with the description that Bashar al-Assad is the “Milošević of the Middle East.”

Iran will not renegotiate nuclear deal: foreign minister

Iran’s foreign minister said on Thursday that demands by U.S President Donald Trump to change Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers were unacceptable, as a deadline set by U.S. for Europeans to “fix” the deal loomed. Trump has said that unless European allies fix the “terrible flaws” in

Syria strike was so powerful, it registered as an earthquake – Syria –

European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre confirms blasts caused 2.6-magnitude earthquake in Hama area

UAWire – Israel to send experts with Iran ‘nuclear archive’ to Germany and France

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will send experts with materials demonstrating that Iran is secretly working on the creation of