Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syrian CW Attack / Israel vs. Iran Ad Hoc Update (70)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Never a dull day in Russia. Not getting enough global media traction with the Crimean bridge stunt, sabre rattling is always a good standby. So the Russians brief again on the Wunderwaffe, expound on the deployment of Kalibr LACM armed frigates in the MTO, while making excuses for the Syrians’ loss of the SA-22, and bragging about how they are winning decisively in the information war. Amb Yakovenko in the UK meets with MPs and after assertively arguing the standard Russian conspiracy theories earns comments such as “delusional”, “doublethink”, and was compared to Saddam’s eloquent “Comical Ali”,  much to the amusement of UK media – a stunning example of winning the information war.

OPCW determines Chlorine was likely used in a CW attack in Idlib, during February.

Debate continues over the Iran deal, with one analyst seeing it as a gain for Russia due to increased oil prices, despite the fact that this will see oil suppliers export more and prices dive again.

Russian Ambassador: UK Ordered Skripal Poisoning To Stoke Anti-Moscow Feeling

He made the comments while being grilled by MPs

TASS: British MPs have blind trust in what their secret services say

London. British MPs have blind trust in what the UK secret services say regarding the alleged poisoning of the former Russian intelligence officer and British spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia and they distrust Russia’s stance, the Russian Ambassador in London, Alexander Yakovenko, said on Tuesday, cited by TASS. He spoke to reporters after a meeting with members of an inter-party group of MPs for relations with Russia. “There’s an impression they simply put blind trust in the information spread by their intelligence services and in the claims of the UK counterintelligence chief Andrew Parker,” Yakovenko said, answering a question from TASS. “Sadly enough, they rely on this information.” “They distrust our arguments but there are certain things that fall into the realm of international law and these things make up the strong aspect of our argumentation,” he said. “Still they rely on their own notions and the information dished out to them at the official level.” “British MPs mostly consume the information from newspapers and from media leaks and think along the lines of cliches, and that’s why the discussion with them was rather tense,” Yakovenko said.

Skripal Visited Estonia in 2016 to Meet With Local Intelligence – Reports – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Former GRU colonel Sergei Skripal, who was poisoned in the UK town of Salisbury in March, secretly visited Estonia in 2016, where he met with local intelligence officers, something that London possibly helped to organize, New York Times reported on Monday.

Sergei Skripal’s niece again denied visa by Britain to visit relatives amid abduction fears — RT UK News

The niece of ex-spy Sergei Skripal has had her visa request to Britain refused for a second time. The Russian national was hoping to visit her relatives, Sergie and Yulia Skripal both of whom were poisoned with a nerve agent.

Putin: Russian Warships With Kalibr Rockets to Be on Guard in Mediterranean 24/7 – Sputnik International

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the country’s military vessels will be on permanent standby in the Mediterranean Sea due to a terrorist threat in Syria.

Putin says Russian vessels with ‘Kalibr’ cruise missiles on permanent standby due to Syria – Syria –

CNBC reports that U.S. intelligence believes Russia’s new hypersonic weapon will likely be ready for war by 2020

Putin Says Russian Frigates in Mediterranean on Standby Over Syria Threat | World News | US News

SOCHI (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russian military vessels with Kalibr cruise missiles would be on permanent standby in the Mediterranean. Addressing the Russian high military command at a meeting in the Black Sea city of Sochi, Putin said the deployment was “due to the remaining terrorist threat in Syria.” (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; editing by John Stonestreet)

Russia’s new nuclear & other deterrence ensures strategic balance for decades to come – Putin — RT World News

New weapon systems being developed and put into service would ensure the balance of power in the world for decades, President Vladimir Putin told top generals, outlining the priorities of Russia’s deterrent modernization.

Russia to Deploy New Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems and Nuclear Bombers in 2018

President Vladimir Putin has ordered over a dozen regiments to finish upgrading their Topol missile systems this year, among other military updates.

Putin: New weapons will maintain Russia’s might for decades | Fox News

President Vladimir Putin says the new weapons presented this year will ensure Russia’s security for decades to come.

TASS: Military & Defense – Putin calls to prepare S-500 missile system for mass production

SOCHI, May 15. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday further efforts are needed to improve anti-precision warfare tools and called to prepare S-500 missile systems for mass production. “One of the key tasks is to improve anti-precision warfare means. It is necessary to develop and build up technological groundwork in the area of air defense, to continue modernization of Pantsir systems, to finish the development and preparations for mass production of the S-500 newest systems capable of hitting targets at super-high altitudes, including near-the-earth space,” he said at a meeting with Russia’s top brass and executives of defense-sector enterprises. The meeting with Armed Forces commanders and defense industry executives was attended by acting Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov, Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov and other officials.

Putin Says New Russian Missiles, Bombers To Be Deployed This Year

Russian President Vladimir Putin has touted new weapons that he says are ready for deployment, stating that they will significantly increase Russia’s military capabilities and “ensure a strategic b…

Russian Military to Receive New ICBM Missile Complexes in 2018, Putin Says

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that 14 missile regiments would receive the new Yars intercontinental missile complexes to replace their old Topol complexes this year as part of a build-up of the state’s armed forces. Putin, whose relations with the West have deteriorated, said previously he does not want an arms race while warning potential enemies that his country has developed a new generation of invincible weapons to protect itself.

Russia hypersonic weapon likely ready for war by 2020: US intel

The weapon, which Moscow has been developing for three decades, could carry a nuclear warhead.

Putin says Russia’s defence industry to get new Yars missile complexes in 2018 | The Indian Express

At a meeting with defence ministry officials in the Black Sea city of Sochi on Tuesday, Vladimir Putin added that the national defence industry would also receive modernized missile-carrying bombers in 2018.

New weapons will maintain Russia’s might for decades, Putin says | The Japan Times

Russia’s new weapons, including an array of new nuclear systems, will ensure the country’s security for decades to come, President Vladimir Putin said Tues

How Good Is Russia’s Missile Defense? Israel Hit Moscow’s Systems in Syria And Beat Them

Russia has long bragged about the advanced missile defense systems it has in place in Syria.

Russia Boasts It Is Winning Info-Wars Against the West | Julia Davis News

Russia’s English-speaking media and government representatives would have you believe they’re on the defensive, fending off the West’s attacks in the info-sphere. However, their real point of view emerges in Russian-speaking media, where the Kremlin’s mouthpieces boast of winning the info-war against the West.

Russia Boasts It Is Winning Info-Wars Against the West – To Inform is to Influence

An excellent article worth reading in depth, but, alas, it is too voluminous to copy and paste here.  This is an article well worth reading. </end editorial> By Julia Davis Russia’s English-speaking media and government representatives would have you believe they’re on the defensive, fending off the West’s attacks in the info-sphere. However, their real point…

Russia Moves to Retaliate for US Sanctions

Proposed measures prompting investor alarm, open up prospects of a tit-for-tat cycle of retaliation with United States

You’re like Comical Ali! MP mocks Russian ambassador’s spy claim | Metro Newspaper UK

RUSSIA’S ambassador to the UK was mocked by MPs as he claimed British agents could have been behind the Salisbury poisoning. Alexander Yakovenko suggested the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia might have been a conspiracy aimed at justifying British hostility to Russia. But MPs accused Mr Yakovenko of ‘doublespeak’ and compared him with ‘Comical Ali’, the former Iraqi propaganda chief. Mr Yakovenko, being questioned by MPs and peers on the Russia all-party parliamentary group, said the UK had violated international law by not granting access to Ms Skripal and repeated his demand for Moscow to be given samples taken from Salisbury.

Russian ambassador compared to ‘Comical Ali’ after claiming UK was behind Skripal poisoning to turn the world against the Kremlin

In an extraordinary meeting with MPs, Alexander Yakovenko said the Government had to carry out ’something extraordinary’ to justify Theresa May branding Vladimir Putin ‘public enemy number one’

Politics: Russian ambassador branded delusional after claiming UK was behind Skripal poisoning to show the world towards the Kremlin – Standard Republic

RUSSIA’s UK ambassador was branded delusional at present as he claimed the UK attacked the Skripals to show Russia was a rogue state. In a unprecedented assembly with MPs, Alexander Yakovenko mentioned the Authorities needed to perform “one thing extraordinary†to point out Brits that Theresa May was proper to model Russia “public enemy quantity one†. The Russian ambassador was branded delusional after claiming the UK was behind the Skripal poisoning at present Pressed if he actually believed UK safety companies tried to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, he instructed Labour’s Chris Bryant: “Sure.†He mentioned: “There’s a public opinion, a basic opinion that Russia is enemy primary. It was in your nationwide safety technique. “The British facet was making an attempt to affect the western world towards Russia.â€

Russian envoy ridiculed for Skripal conspiracy theory | News | The Times

The Russian ambassador was described as Comical Ali yesterday after he suggested that British agents poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal to frame Moscow. Alexander Yakovenko was ridiculed by MPs and compared to Saddam Hussein’s deluded spokesman at a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on Russia. “The British side was trying to influence the western world against Russia,” he said. “The people don’t buy this kind of policy. In order to get their support something extraordinary needed to be done in order to make people believe that this is the Russians who did this.”

MPs shocked as Russian ambassador blames UK for Salisbury attack |

MPs were stunned today when the Russian ambassador to Britain said the UK security services carried out the nerve agent attack in Salisbury.

Skripal ‘briefed Russia’s European enemies for years’ | News | The Times

Sergei Skripal, the former Russian double agent, travelled around Europe briefing the Kremlin’s enemies for years before he was poisoned in Salisbury, intelligence officers have claimed.The revelation presents a possible motive for the attack on Mr Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, on March 4 and wil

New York Times: Skripal met with Estonian intelligence officials in 2016 | News | ERR

Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy who together with his daughter Yulia was nearly poisoned to death in a nerve agent attack in Salisbury, Southern England in early March, traveled to several European countries, including Estonia, after his arrival in the U.K., The New York Times reported on Monday.

The New York Times: Skripal talked about the intelligence of the Russian Federation in the Czech Republic and Estonia | The Koz Times

For several years prior to the poisoning in Salisbury a former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal visited the Czech Republic and Estonia, where he met with members of the local intelligence services. About it writes on Monday, may 14, the New York Times, citing its own sources.

Don’t take England flags to Russia World Cup, police tell fans | The Independent

England football fans should not display the “almost imperialistic” St George flag during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, police have warned.

Inspectors Confirm ‘Likely’ Use Of Chlorine As Chemical Weapon In Syria In February : The Two-Way : NPR

Two cylinders dropped on the rebel-held Syrian city of Saraqeb – sending nearly a dozen people to seek medical help for nausea and other symptoms – had contained chlorine, the OPCW says.

Syria war: OPCW says chlorine used in February attack – BBC News

The global chemical weapons watchdog says chlorine was released from cylinders in Saraqeb.

Chlorine used in Syrian town of Saraqeb, chemical weapons watchdog says

The international chemical weapons watchdog said Wednesday that chlorine was likely used as a weapon in the rebel-held northern Syrian town of Saraqeb in early February.

Chlorine likely used in February attack in Idlib, Syria – weapons agency | Reuters

Banned chlorine munitions were likely dropped on a Syrian neighbourhood in February, an international body on chemical weapons said on Wednesday, after laboratory tests confirmed the presence of the toxic chemical.

Chemical watchdog says chlorine likely used in February attack on Syrian town | The Times of Israel

The Hague-based group does not indicate which side in Syria’s complex seven-year civil war was responsible

US exit from nuclear deal driving Russia, Iran closer

Moscow and Tehran are willing to tackle multiple challenges to improve their business dealings despite US sanctions.

Commentary: Trump’s Iran decision gives unexpected gift to Putin | Reuters

By David A. Andelman Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord has brought a bonus for the Kremlin. The U.S. president’s Iran action means that Vladimir Putin could make up with the soaring price of oil – the real backbone of the Russian economy and his hold on power – for what he lost from the sanctions. True, Putin hasn’t (yet) gotten rid of the sanctions levied by Congress on Russia and reluctantly implemented by Trump. But the Russian president must be reveling in the fact that his U.S. counterpart has caused just the sort of havoc in the United States and splits across the Western alliance that Putin wanted.Let’s tote it up. Trump has withdrawn the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, effectively empowering China; has been the only nation to pull out of both the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal; and has threatened Washington’s closest allies with a series of debilitating tariffs. And then there’s all the chaos that the investigation into Russian election meddling has managed to produce in the United States, while at the same time allowing Kremlin specialists to hone their chops on tactics that can be applied elsewhere around the world.But the real, most tangible and most immediate impact is in the numbers – specifically the windfall Russia has reaped as an offset against the sanctions levied against it. The backbone of the national economy is oil and the foundation for Putin’s hold on power is its price. One year ago, the price of Brent crude was fluctuating between $46 and $51 per barrel. By Tuesday it had soared to $78, roughly a 60 percent increase that took place at the same time the United States was tightening its sanctions on the Russian economy.About $10 of the price increase in crude oil has come in the last two months, when the oil markets began pricing in the premium that would likely accrue after the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear treaty and the resulting sanctions on doing business with Iran.With Russia producing nearly 11 million barrels per day of oil, that means an additional $110 million per day or $40 billion a year in additional revenue.There’s no doubt the sanctions have had some incremental costs to the Russian economy, or certainly to a handful of oligarchs. April was not a good month for Russian stocks, the main index crashing some 11.4 percent in one day, and the nation’s 50 wealthiest oligarchs losing a combined $12 billion, according to Forbes. That was, of course, on paper since few seemed to be cashing in their shares. Indeed, investors in Russian stocks were handsomely rewarded for their patience in the past month, with the RTS stock index surging from 1,085 on April 16 to 1,194 on May 11, a more than 10 percent rise.At the same time, Putin has begun hedging his bets, diversifying his markets for Russia’s crude oil exports. In January, a second oil pipeline to China was opened, potentially doubling China’s imports to 30 million tons through the two countries’ linked pipeline systems.It is admittedly difficult to determine the precise impact of U.S. sanctions in any macro sense on the Russian economy. But several of the large, effectively multi-national, publicly-traded firms appear to have thrived, improving their balance sheets – particularly the nation’s three biggest banks (Sberbank, VTB and Gazprombank); and three in the oil and gas space (Rosneft, Novatek and Transneft). The three oil and gas companies have substantially reduced their indebtedness, while the three big banks have become ever less dependent on external financing. Russian central bank figures show that the foreign debt of Russian corporations dropped by $11.1 billion in 2016 and $15.2 billion last year.Moreover, Western companies continue to find it profitable, indeed attractive, to do business in Russia. German direct investment in Russia skyrocketed to $1.08 billion in the first three quarters of last year, quadruple the figure for all of 2016, with German’s Daimler building a €250 million ($299 million) assembly plant near Moscow. France’s investments rose to $524 million last year from $438 million a year earlier. Much of this may be attributed to an improving investment climate in Russia, whose rank on the World Bank’s 2018 Ease of Doing Business Index surged to 35 out of 190 countries, from 92 in 2014.But even on a macro level, the rise in oil prices over the past year seems to have more than offset the impact of sanctions. As Reuters reported last week, Russia is suddenly on track to run a budget surplus this year for the first time since 2011 – mostly attributed to a 65 percent rise in the price of crude, which accounts for 40 percent of the nation’s budget revenues.To be sure, concern about harsher sanctions on Iran isn’t the only factor affecting the oil price; factors like the decline in Venezuela’s crude oil production have played a role too. Nonetheless, Trump’s decision about the nuclear accord has presented another unexpected, though hardly unwelcome, gift to a Russian president who is benefiting from the limits of America First unilateralism. (David A. Andelman, visiting scholar at the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School and director of its Red Lines Project, is a former foreign correspondent and author of “A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today.” @DavidAndelman)

EU’s Tough Choice: Analysts Say Staying In Iran Deal Is An Option If…

Mapping out the legal, financial, and political moves that European states can take if they want to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive.

Leaving the Iran Nuclear Deal Will Have Unintended Consequences – Foreign Policy

Trump’s actions may ultimately weaken the strength of sanctions as a tool of U.S. statecraft.

Vladimir Putin to International Atomic Energy Agency: Russia will continue Iran nuclear deal – Washington Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that despite the recent U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, Moscow remains ready to enforce the agreement.

Putin, Macron Discuss Situation Around US Withdrawal From JCPOA – Kremlin – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russian President Vladimir Putin and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron discussed the situation after the US withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal, the Kremlin said Tuesday.