Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (84)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

The article headline of the year:

Russian Journalist Who Faked Own Assassination Tells Media Critics to ‘F*** Off’

I would like to nominate Ukraine for “Country of the Decade” for facing down the Russian bear cub, for thriving under extreme adversity, and for maintaining and dominating with a wonderful sense of humor mixed in with a superb sense of purpose. Slava Ukrayini!

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It would appear the Babchenko sting is hurting the Russian propaganda machine, its complaints have been both flat and lame – Babchenko himself stated he did not want to suffer the fate of Col. Skripal. Babchenko’s very direct and candid TV interview has been screened globally on primetime TV news, and his observations about having to choose between survival or “journalistic ethics”, confronting Western media critics, was very much on target. Why the subterfuge? The handler operating for the Russians was given a hit-list of 30 Ukraine residents to kill, and the SBU wanted that list, and an irrefutable case to get the handler to testify on his Russian contacts. UK and US media whining about the sting has produced some serious pushback from the Ukrainian government and agencies. WSJ editorial “Russia Murder Inc.” again on target. A multiplicity of detailed backfill reports from the Ukrainian media. Russia’s loss of credibility is well articulated by Dr Shevtsova in a lengthy analysis – the West plays non-zero sum games and other than bought-off Europeans, is running out of patience with Russia’s zero-sum game plan.

On the Salisbury case, no new developments, but a good commentary to the media by a former investigator on the Litvinenko case about the various forms of obstruction the Russians employed to protect the assassins.

The MieEast debate is largely dominated by argumentation over Iran and the admission by the former Chief of Mossad that Israel was on standby in 2011 to launch strikes directly against Iran. Multiple reports on the propagating impact of the new sanctions – Iran may be in very much deeper trouble than its leadership actually comprehends. Tehran may not yet understand the significance of the very publicly visible exchanges between the Putin regime and Israel – Russia given the choice of antagonizing Israel or Iran, opted to shift its alignment to Israel rather than Iran. Typical Russian duplicity, but it does leave Iran out in the cold, with only China declaring support, yet China it would appear is set to get its paws on the massive South Pars gas field, hardly a sign of altruistic self-sacrifice by Beijing. Tehran tried to swim in a pool of piranhas, but it is only a wounded bleeding little piranha…

Interesting WSJ analysis of the impact of shale oil. Will Erdogan survive his election with Turkey’s currency in freefall?


UAWire – Kremlin calls staged killing of journalist Babchenko ‘anti-Russian provocation’

Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says that the staged killing of Arkady Babchenko in a special SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) operation and the accusations made against Russia for organizing it are a “Russophobic lie”. “Immediately after the rumors of the murder of A.A. Babchenko began, corresponding statements were made by the Ukrainian Prime Minister and other officials, directly accusing Russia of involvement in this. Now the Ukrainian authorities have completely taken a course to promote the Russophobic lie: according to SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak, Ukrainian law enforcement officers have arrested the presumed murder perpetrator, who, as he emphasized, was supposedly recruited by the Russian intelligence agency,” the Russian ministry said. The Russian Foreign Ministry considers it natural that the Ukrainian security service will continue to “develop this provocation”. “The Ukrainian authorities are apparently unable to find another way to demonstrate their effectiveness, other than to demonstrate a staged killing instead of investigating real crimes: the murder of O. A. Buzina, P.G. Sheremet and other journalists, as well as the residents of Odessa who were burned alive,” the Russian MFA remarked. On the evening of May 29, police reported that the Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko had been murdered.

Kiev Hoped for Russian Diplomats Expulsion After Babchenko ‘Murder’ – Zakharova – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that Kiev hoped to provoke yet another deportation of Russian diplomats from the Western countries through the “murder” of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, which turned out to be staged.

Medics initially treated Skripals for opioid overdose until Porton Down gave ‘advice’ – YouTube

RT Published on May 30, 2018 The medical team at Salisbury Hospital were treating the Skripals for opioid overdose without any extra precautions, until UK chemical weapon experts ‘confirmed’ nerve agent poisoning and ‘advised’ them on treatment, BBC reports.

Russia Ready to Provide Any Assistance for Yulia Skripal’s Return Home – Moscow – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia is ready to provide all necessary assistance to Yulia Skripal, the daughter of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, in order to facilitate her return home, Deputy Director of the Information and Press Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry Artyom Kozhin said Friday.

Assad raises prospect of clashes with U.S. forces in Syria | Reuters

President Bashar al-Assad raised the possibility of conflict with U.S. forces in Syria if they do not withdraw from the country soon.

Liliya Shevtsova on Russia: Statehood for sale – The West is offering Moscow another deal instead of second “Yalta” – 112.international

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian elite demonstrated its ingenuity again, together with Western lobbyists, they created a mechanism for collective privatization of domestic natural rents. ….. Western strangulation does not mean, however, the striving to strangle. Who needs Russian collapse or frenzy? But the Western willingness to compromise and the desire to lead Russia out of isolation does not mean a return to pre-Crimean period. We witness how a new system of relations of liberal democracies with Russia is being built up. Instead of the second “Yalta” West offers Moscow another deal. Here is its essence: follow our rules, and we will allow you to enjoy our benefits, but under our control. The Kremlin is forced to make a choice between aggressive geopolitics and Western resources along with the entrance ticket to the powers’ concert as a bonus. And the latter does not mean freedom of action for Moscow. Russia will have to move in a narrow corridor, where each exit for the red flags means squeezing the stranglehold. The West will find funds to hurt it – either to the Russian economy or to the Russian elite. Is it offensive? Of course, but this is the price for Kremlin muggers. Meanwhile, while we are guessing where Russia is heading, the Russian leader has made its choice. What do you think? Judge for yourself. The Kremlin is trying to butter up Donald Trump, constantly offering him a dialogue about the destinies of the world. The Kremlin silently suffers humiliating slaps from Trump, Recep Erdogan, and Benyamin Netanyahu (what a company!) in Syria. The Kremlin surrenders the “sacrifices” designated by the Americans. Putin promises Angela Merkel not to block the transportation of gas through Ukraine, strengthens confidence with Emmanuel Macron and promises a new Eldorado to Western business in St. Petersburg. “Gazprom” humbly accepts the requirements of the European Commission. Finally, the Kremlin is struggling with Western sanctions inside the country, demonstrating peace on the world stage, so as not to provoke the West to a new tightening of the stranglehold. Obviously, having tested the opponent’s muscles, Russian authorities came to the conclusion that blackmail with recklessness only throws Russia into a leper camp. And what a delight is sitting there with North Korea and Iran?! Kamikazes do not work in the Kremlin, and they understand that it is possible to better secure their interests through dialogue with the West than through confrontation with them. However, these tactical maneuvers do not solve the existential problem for Russia, which is called the “total trap”. On the one hand, the Kremlin cannot forcefully keep its status (what other resources does Russia have for pressure?), which will provoke a response from the Western world. On the other hand, the Kremlin cannot renounce claims to statehood as a right to its vision of the world order. After all, it is clear what will happen to the systemic body, when it loses its spine; power is the backbone of autocracy. What should the Kremlin do then? It should play, creating the illusion of power and greatness. But the game will start if only the West agrees to take part in it. If the Western Major League agrees, not the Western trifle. But will the Major League agree to play with this illusions? It’s not clear yet. After all, Russia can once again mix up fake and reality… We will see whether the West plays along with the Kremlin, or drives it into a corner. We will receive an answer when we see how Russia’s prosecution for the crash of the Malaysian Boeing will end (or not end). There is one more question: how can the Kremlin cover its retreat and end the accusations of nationalists in betrayal? This is a matter of propaganda machine, which should support the hysteria of military patriotism inside the country. But sooner or later the people will start to ask: why should we fight the enemy if we cooperate with him, and the ruling elite enjoy the delights of life in the enemy camp? P.S. Do you remember Russian checkers? So, in this game (by the way, Chichikov with Nozdryov played it), the one who deprives himself of the opportunity to move wins. This game is played by the Kremlin. The rest of the world plays other game.

Russia Murder Inc. – WSJ

A faked murder in Ukraine highlights the risks to dissidents.

UAWire – Ukrainian Security Service receives complete list of those who were to be killed along with journalist Babchenko

Ukrainian law enforcement agencies received a complete list of 30 people who were supposed to be killed at the request of the Russian intelligence agency, just as journalist Arkady Babchenko was to be. This was stated by Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yuriy Lutsenko on a broadcast on the TV channel “1 + 1,” TSN reported. “At one of the meetings, Herman – and this is recorded on audio and video according to the court’s decision – gave him (the killer) half the sum of 15 thousand dollars. At the next meeting, Mr. Herman reported that he had an even longer list. He wanted another person killed – a EuroMaidan activist from Odessa. At the next meeting he said, ‘I have one more hit.’ It was a former Russian FSB officer who fled Russia and was living in Ukraine. The entire list contained about 30 names. In this situation, I consider the actions of both the investigator and the prosecutor absolutely correct in that they went to the point of staging murder so that, after the alleged execution took place, Herman would be more open and would probably provide the alleged killer with a full list of victims,” said Lutsenko. According to him, there was no 100% guarantee that he would do it. “But when it comes to the lives of 27 people, because the three of us already knew, it seems to me that this was a justified step, which is used in many countries of the world and in ours in particular. We have the list. Now the list is in the hands of the Security Service of Ukraine, and all the people on the list will receive proper protection from those who ordered their deaths,” said the Prosecutor General. Lutsenko said the second reason for staging the murder was the desire to get to the person who ordered the hits. “The second question is why we conducted this operation. We expected that after the alleged execution, the organizer, which we suspected was Herman, would become much more open and, one way or another, give us more information about the person who ordered the hit. Now we know – directly from him – that it was Russian intelligence, he was acting on their orders. But before the staged killing, we did not have the exact name of the person who ordered the killing. So we staged the killing in order to coerce Herman to be more open and see if we could find out exactly who in the Kremlin is after dozens of people who are not in the Russian regime’s favor,” the prosecutor general said.

Lutsenko, Hrytsak to inform G7 ambassadors about Babchenko case – 01.06.2018 12:43 — Ukrinform News

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko and SBU Chief Vasyl Hrytsak will meet with G7 ambassadors for clarification in the case on staging the murder of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko. Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said this in a program “The Right to Power” on May 31. “The head of the Security Service of Ukraine, involved officers and I will have a meeting with G7 diplomats at the Prosecutor General’s Office on June 1.We will explain everything that we can explain within the secrecy of the investigation, and I am sure that diplomats will take a position, which, for example, was announced by the head of the British diplomatic service, who clearly states that the country must defend itself, and Russia must be punished. I am convinced that this is the right thesis,” he said. Earlier reports said that on May 29, 41-year-old journalist Arkady Babchenko was fatally wounded near his apartment in Kyiv on May 29. Criminal proceedings were opened over the murder of the journalist. On Wednesday, May 30, it turned out that Babchenko is alive. Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) Chief Vasyl Hrytsak said that Russian intelligence services had ordered the murder of the journalist and the SBU conducted a special operation to prevent the assassination attempt. Ukrainian special services detained the organizer of the journalist’s murder during a special operation in Kyiv. op

Russia should be condemned, not Ukraine in staging of Babchenko’s murder, – Poroshenko – 112.international

President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko has commented the special operation of the Security Service of Ukraine on the staging of the murder of journalist Arkadiy Babchenko and the negative reaction to it. According to Poroshenko, Russia should be condemned, not Ukraine in this incident as 112 Ukraine broadcasted. ‘Yesterday, in the result of the brilliant special operation held by the SBU heroes, the whole world saw the true nature of our enemy. It sends weapon, the whole trucks of the weapons; it sends money to kill the Ukrainians, journalists, and statesmen. When we caught them red-handed, it is said that we should not act like this. You should blame not Ukrainians but Russia. The Ukrainian did everything possible to stick together and defend ourselves. I assure that it will continue to be so’, Poroshenko claimed.

Ukraine’s Interior Minister surprised by criticism of staging of Babchenko’s murder – 112.international

Arsen Avakov, the Interior Minister of Ukraine has claimed that ‘he is surprised and shocked by the statements of some international organizations’, which criticize the special operation of the SBU on the staging of the murder of journalist Arkadiy Babchenko. He claimed this during the briefing at the police academy as 112 Ukraine broadcasted.’Thank God, the Ukrainian special services have prevented the murder. And thank God, they decided to detain the perpetrator in such way. To put it mildly, I am and shocked by the statements of some international authorities. I think that in the future, the Ukrainian special services will not be guided by the public opinion to make our territory calm and prevent the attack at the person’, Avakov noted. He added that if there is such possibility to hold such operation in all resonance cases, the law enforcers ‘will do this every day’. At the same time, Sergy Kniazev, the Head of the National Police claimed that the police officers have worked up at this operation. No concerns were made by the state’.

Nothing New Under The Gun: Ukraine Deploys Old Ruse In Babchenko’s Staged Slaying

The staged killing of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko in Ukraine may have stunned observers across the globe. But the deception at the center of the incident is a common tactic by authorities in both Ukraine and Russia.

Babchenko: “Do You Want to Survive or Do You Want to Preserve Ethics?” – YouTube

UATV English Published on Jun 1, 2018 Upon learning that the assassination was staged by the Ukrainian security service, international reaction ranged from sharp criticism to applause. In this next report, let’s hear Arkadiy Babchenko tell HIS part of the story, in his own words.

Arkady Babchenko: pig’s blood and makeup artist helped fake death – YouTube

Guardian News Published on Jun 1, 2018 Arkady Babchenko, the Russian journalist who faked his own death in order to evade an alleged plot to assassinate him, said pig’s blood and a makeup artist were used to help stage the ruse. In an interview in Kiev, Babchenko said he was taken in an ambulance from the scene of his fake killing to a morgue, where he changed clothes and began watching the news of his ‘murder’ on television Arkady Babchenko tells media he was taken to morgue for staged ‘murder’ View the video at https://www.theguardian.com/world/vid

Man remanded in custody over Babchenko plot – YouTube

euronews (in English) Published on May 31, 2018 A court in the Ukrainian capital has ordered the detention of a man accused of plotting to murder the dissident Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko.… READ MORE : http://www.euronews.com/2018/06/01/ma

Journalist who faked death: I didn’t want to share Skripal’s fate

Reuters | about 10 hours ago KIEV – Dissident Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko said on Thursday he collaborated in a plot to fake his own death because he feared being targeted for assassination like former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday night that Babchenko, a Kremlin critic, had been gunned down in his apartment building in Kiev. Pictures of his body in a pool of blood were published and officials suggested Russia was behind the assassination, something Moscow flatly denied. A day later, Babchenko walked to the podium at a televised news briefing about his death. Ukrainian security officials said they staged his apparent murder to thwart and expose a Russian plot to assassinate him.

Arkady Babchenko: Suspect remanded in reporter’s hoax death case – BBC News

The suspect is alleged to have paid a hitman to kill Arkady Babchenko in the capital Kiev.

Ukraine Arrests Suspect In Alleged Babchenko Assassination Plot, Prosecutor Names ‘Hit Man’

Borys Herman, the man suspected of overseeing a plot to assassinate journalist Arkady Babchenko, has been remanded in custody by a Kyiv court.

Lawyer, Ukrainian Authorities Name Alleged Organizer Of Plot To Kill Babchenko

Ukrainian authorities have identified the Ukrainian citizen accused of being recruited by Russia’s secret services to organize a murder plot against self-exiled Russian reporter and Kremlin critic …

Babchenko’s ‘hitman’ reveals identity: Orthodox monk, Right Sector member, Donbas war veteran | UNIAN

“Hitman” who was hired to assassinate Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko in Ukraine has revealed his identity: Oleksiy Tsymbaliuk is a former Orthodox church monk, a Right Sector member, a volunteer and a Donbas war veteran. He is a member of the Right Sector Organization, which is outlawed in Russia.

Man suspected of plotting contract hit on Babchenko opens up about motive: Counterintelligence | UNIAN

Boris German, who is suspected of plotting a contract hit on Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko in Kyiv has explained his involvement in the crime, claiming he was providing counterintelligence support as part of cooperation with the Ukrainian secret service and was following its instructions. German claims the “hitman” was selected by the Ukrainian counterintelligence service.

Man charged with assassination attempt on Babchenko arrested for 60 days without bail | UNIAN

Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky district court has ruled to arrest Boris German, who is charged with an assassination attempt on Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, for 60 days without bail. German is Executive Director of the Ukrainian-German arms manufacturer Schmeisser.

Babchenko case: Prosecutors dismiss suspect’s claim about his cooperation with secret service | UNIAN

Ukrainian prosecutors say Boris German, who is suspected of organizing an assassination attempt on Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko in Kyiv, has not cooperated with the Ukrainian secret service and is not an employee of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine. The court placed German under arrest for two months. Ukrainian prosecutors say Boris German, who is suspected of organizing an assassination attempt on Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko in Kyiv, has not cooperated with the Ukrainian secret service and is not an employee of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine. “The information available to us does not confirm the testimony [German’s claim about his cooperation with the counterintelligence service]. This is untrue. He is not and has never been an agent of the SBU Security Service of Ukraine or the counterintelligence agency, which is a structural unit of the SBU,” state prosecutor Ruslan Kravchenko said after hearings at Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky district court on May 31, an UNIAN correspondent said. According to the prosecutor, he checked the suspect’s statement made during the testimony. Previously, German claimed in the courtroom that he had known that Babchenko’s killing would be staged and it was part of a special operation where he was participating in cooperation with the secret service.

‘I washed my face, turned on TV and watched news about my ‘murder’, – Babchenko – 112.international

Arkadiy Babchenko, Russian reporter, told the press about the special operation of Ukraine’s security service and his ‘resurrection’ after ‘murder’

Fake Death Journalist Babchenko: ‘I Chose To Stay Alive’

Dissident Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko has blasted “the keepers of morality” who criticized his faked assassination by Ukrainian authorities. Speaking at a press conference in Kyiv on May 31, Babchenko dismissed criticism of his cooperation with the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) in the staging of his death. The SBU says it faked Babchenko’s assassination on May 29 in order to foil a plot by Russian security services to assassinate the well-known Kremlin critic.

Russian journalist covered himself in PIG’S BLOOD to evade ‘assassination attempt’ | World | News | Express.co.uk

THE RUSSIAN journalist who faked his own death to evade a reported assassination attempt used pig’s blood and a makeup artist to stage his murder before revealing the sting operation to the press less than 24 hours later.

Russian journalist reveals how he faked his own death in Ukraine | Daily Mail Online

Putin critic Arkady Babchenko, 41, shocked the world yesterday when he turned up at a press conference about his own ‘murder’, revealing it had been part of a sting to catch his assassins. Arkady Babchenko, 41, had been reported as shot dead in Ukraine on Tuesday Yesterday, the Russian journalist turned up alive at a news conference. Ukrainian secret service revealed they faked his death to catch would-be killers Reporter revealed he posed for pictures lying in pigs’ blood to stage ‘murder’. Arms maker Boris German accused of ‘plotting terror’ could face 12 years in jail. Former monk Oleksiy Tsymbalyuk confessed on Facebook that he was chosen to murder Babchenko.

Arkady Babchenko faked death with ‘pig blood and makeup artist’ – CNN

Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko hit back at critics of his staged murder, saying that the operation was carried out in response to a real threat to his life.

Russian Journalist Who Faked Own Assassination Tells Media Critics to ‘F*** Off’

Ukrainian security services said vehement Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko, 41, was shot dead in Kiev on Tuesday. Videos show colleagues at the Ukrainian TV station where he worked dancing and clapping in disbelief when he emerged as they watched the press conference live. The dissident journalist whose murder was faked has lambasted those who criticized his hoax assassination. Ukrainian security services said vehement Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko, 41, was shot dead in Kiev on Tuesday. But the next day, he appeared in a news conference where the head of the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, Vasily Gritsak said the death was faked to stop a Russian plan to kill him. Videos show colleagues at the Ukrainian TV station where he worked dancing and clapping in disbelief when he emerged as they watched the press conference live.

Arkady Babchenko Is Alive—Why Did Ukraine Stage His Death? – The Atlantic

The story of a crusading Russian journalist who faked his death to expose his enemies will fuel Moscow’s accusations of Ukrainian deceit.

Opinion | What Happens When a Journalist Comes Back From the Dead – The New York Times

Thanks to Arkady Babchenko’s stunt, dismissing fake news just became a whole lot harder in Russia.

The Life, Death, and Resurrection of the Russian Opposition Journalist Arkady Babchenko | The New Yorker

Masha Gessen on the Russian opposition journalist Arkady Babchenko, who faked his own assassination as part of a sting operation in coöperation with Ukranian law enforcement.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: A Third of Moscow TV News is about Ukraine and More than 90 Percent of It is Negative, New Study Says

Paul Goble Staunton, May 31 – A new study by the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center says that between July1, 2014, and December 31, 1917, a third of all news stories on the three major Moscow television stations was devoted to Ukraine and that “more than 90 percent” of these stories were negative. The Center released its findings at a briefing in Kyiv available on Youtube (youtube.com/watch?reload=9&v=mDd51eE2tSc&feature=youtu.be&t=21). They now have been summarized by Radio Svoboda’s Ukrainian Service journalist Vladimir Ivakhnenko (svoboda.org/a/29257729.html). The study finds this Russian news followed six major narratives. In descending order of importance, these are “In Ukraine a civil war is going on,” “Ukraine is not an independent state,” “the Russian Federation is helping the Donbass,” “Russophobia is widespread in Ukraine,” “Fascists and radicals are destroying Ukraine,” and “Ukraine is a puppet of the West.” Aleksey Makukhin, head of the analysis group for the Center which prepared the report, says that his analysts counted 15,400 negative references to Ukraine over this period, 90 percent of which fell into one or more of these six main “narratives.” He said he and his colleagues had been surprised by how much time Moscow TV devoted to Ukraine. In many broadcasts, “up to 90 percent” of the stories involved either Ukraine or some other foreign country. And he said his people were shocked by how disciplined the Moscow outlets were, following the same narrative and often using exactly the same words. That points to the existence of a single center controlling this news, Makukhin continues. He said the report shows that what Moscow is distributing is not just “fake news” as many have assumed but “myths” or “narratives” that weave together truth and falsehoods in ways that many find it difficult to separate. The Center’s study supplements the work of Stopfake.org, a portal that has been keeping track of Russian media lies about Ukraine since March 2014. Ekaterina Kruk, one of its leading analysts, tells Ivakhnenko that her group has found the same narratives the Center has but also materials linking the Russian effort in Ukraine to the fight against fascism in World War II. That has the effect of legitimizing what Moscow is doing in Ukraine in the minds of many in Russia, Ukraine and elsewhere, she says. And she says her group has seen Moscow again and again throw up “smoke screens” to hide what is being reported by others, most recently in the case of the report on the downing of the Malaysian airline. She adds that Moscow is seeking to penetrate the Ukrainian media market by financing groups there because the Russians know that only two to four percent of Ukrainians trust anything coming from a Russian outlet or having a .ru extension. Kruk says she sees this as a growing problem. Another major problem she points to is “the dissemination of Russian propaganda theses” in such a way that they “often correspond with criticism of the Ukrainian authorities for various political motives and create a situation in which it is difficult to distinguish which are [legitimate] criticism and which are Russian propaganda.” That pattern, Kruk concludes, will certainly grow especially as Ukraine heads into presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

Skripal poisoning: Police ‘must be prepared’ for obstruction in Russia

By Martin Brunt, crime correspondent. Poison was likely left at Mr Skripal’s home the afternoon before he and his daughter fell ill, a former terror detective says. A former counter-terror detective says police investigating the poisoning of spy Sergei Skripal must be prepared for obstruction if they pursue suspects in Russia. Brian Tarpey accused Russian authorities of “playing games” with him and colleagues when they went to Moscow to interview a witness to the fatal poisoning of ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko in London. He said: “We asked to interview Dmitri Kovtun and a colleague was taken into a room and met a man lying on a bed, completely wrapped head to foot in bandages, just like an Egyptian mummy. All you could see were his eyes. “The Russians said that far from being the killer, he himself was a victim who was poisoned by Litvinenko. To this day, I still don’t know if we interviewed the man we thought he was.”

NATO-Russia Council meets for first time since Skripal poisoning | News | DW | 31.05.2018

NATO ambassadors are meeting their Russian counterparts for talks on several thorny issues. It is the first meeting since NATO expelled Russian diplomats over the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in Britain.

Did Congress Just Shut Down Trump’s War Plans for Iran? – Defense One

The Senate would do well to follow the House’s lead — and go even farther to shut all the backdoors to war.

Trump’s plan to isolate and defang Iran is working – Conservative Review

Even Iran’s friends are falling in line with American sanctions.

Why Trump’s plans for regime change in Iran will have the opposite effect

A new round of sanctions will merely drive the people into the arms of the mullahs.

Is Iran close to economic collapse? – YouTube

Fox Business Published on May 30, 2018 Former adviser to President Trump Sebastian Gorka on the Treasury Department imposing new sanctions on Iran and the economic and political turmoil in Italy.

The Iranian Strategy For Surviving U.S. Sanctions

Now that the United States has abandoned the Iran nuclear deal, Iran will be employing what it calls a resistance economy to survive the resulting economic downturn.

Assad Raises Possibility Of Conflict With U.S. Forces, Allies In Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has raised the possibility of conflict between his army and U.S. forces in Syria if they do not withdraw from the country soon — prompting a warning from the Penta…

UAWire – Pentagon warns Assad against attacking US forces and its allies in Syria

Attacking the forces of the Americans and their allies in Syria would be a “bad idea,” said Kenneth McKenzie, a representative of the Joint …

UAWire – Putin and Netanyahu discuss situation in Syria

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on the telephone with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,reported the press service of the Kremlin. …

Israeli, Russian Defense Ministers Discuss Iranian Military Presence In Syria

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman visited Moscow on May 31 for talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, on Israeli concerns about Iran’s military presence in Syria.

UAWire – Lavrov and Pompeo discuss situations in Syria and Ukraine

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed by telephone the settlement of the Syrian crisis and the conflict in Ukraine. This was reported on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website. Pompeo is the one that placed the call. The Foreign Ministry noted that Lavrov and Pompeo discussed “a number of aspects of the joint agenda,” including bilateral relations between Moscow and Washington. The two men also touched on the issue of resolving the conflict in Ukraine on the basis of the Minsk agreements as well as efforts to settle the situation in Syria. The diplomats agreed to continue the dialogue in order to bring the “atmosphere of Russian-American relations” back to a normal level. Previously, the NBC television network, citing sources, reported that national security advisers had convinced U.S. President Donald Trump that it would be possible for the U.S. to establish a dialogue with Moscow if it toughened relations with the country. According to the network’s source, Trump believes that improving relations with Russia will be beneficial to the U.S., and he thinks that he can achieve it.

The Pompeo Plan for Iran Is Doomed to Fail | The National Interest Blog

For Iran’s regional rivals, the Trump administration’s policies have been an unalloyed gift.

The Iran Deal Was Bad, but Leaving It Was Worse | The National Interest

By leaving the deal, Iran may now want the bomb more than ever due to a deepening the sense of existential threat from the U.S. bent on fomenting regime change in Teheran.

Trump’s Decision to Kill the Iran Deal Will Make Things Worse

In announcing his intent to kill the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) President Trump argued that Iran’s “bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen” under the Iran deal. Trump cited a 40% increase in Iranian military spending as evidence of Iran’s supposedly worsening behavior

UAWire – Tehran: US preparing cyber-attacks on Iran’s energy infrastructure

The U.S. plans to carry out cyber-attacks on Iranian energy infrastructure, stated the head of the Head of Iran’s Civil Defense Organization, …

Top Iranian official threatens uranium enrichment – Israel National News

Top adviser to Khamenei says Iran could resume its uranium enrichment in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from 2015 nuclear deal.

When The Ayatollah Cried Mouse « Breaking Energy – Energy industry news, analysis, and commentary

Khamenei’s Ramadan speech combined explicit attacks on the United States, implicit criticism of Rouhani’s approach, and excessive demands on Europe, seemingly bracing the regime for one of the toughest challenges of his thirty-year rule. Every Ramadan, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei uses the occasion of a post-fast iftar dinner to deliver a message to the Iranian people and the international community. On May 23, he offered public remarks during a meal with several top officials, among them President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani. This year’s speech served two ends: it outlined Iran’s starting position for negotiating with Europe now that the United States has left the nuclear deal, and it sought to unify the Iranian public against the hardships they will encounter in the coming months. “TOM AND JERRY” IN TEHRAN Not surprisingly, most of the speech was a response to the Trump administration’s recent withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Khamenei repeated his basic narrative that Washington seeks to overthrow the Islamic Republic, and that the nuclear issue was only a cover for reaching that goal. He then touted Iran’s ability to make progress despite U.S. “subversion,” promising that Washington’s plots will continue to fail like those of “the cat from the well-known Tom and Jerry cartoon.” Khamenei has cracked the same joke in the past to make a point about the country’s resilience under U.S. pressure. In 2011, months before Washington imposed tough sanctions on Iran’s oil industry, he declared that such measures were ineffective because Tehran could readily counter “Tom” and his Western allies: “They do a lot of things, make a lot of noise and are big in size, but the result of their actions is not as good as expected.”

Is the EU Finally Waking Up to the Dangers of Iran? | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com

At the time of this writing, details about measures specifically proposed by France, Germany, and Britain are only based on news agencies’ articles. In March, for example, Reuters saw a document suggesting that a list of Iranian persons and entities should be targeted. Along with the lack of information, another problem is that the remaining member states need to agree with the proposal for it to be practically implemented. Countries such as Italy remain skeptical and the EU does not have a record of strong unity. However disgruntled by Washington’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, the EU will scarcely react to potential American sanctions. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, for instance, finds it difficult for his country to protect businesses. This will leave Europe no choice but to refocus on the security question in the short and medium term. Israel’s sensitivity is now playing a role in the shaping of European foreign policy. Israeli politicians, academics, journalists, and researchers have warned for years about the risks stemming from the Islamic republic’s regional aspirations. Their voices were not heard in most European capitals, which were distracted by their appetite for business deals with Tehran. This is starting to change, and Trump deserves a good deal of the credit.

U.S. Sanctions Iran’s Evin Prison, Broadcasting Chief and Others, Alleging Human Rights Abuses – WSJ

The U.S. imposed sanctions on several Iranian groups and officials it accused of human rights abuses, in another round of weekly punitive actions intended to isolate Tehran.

Treasury slaps new sanctions on groups linked to Iran regime – POLITICO

It’s the latest round of sanctions targeting individuals and organizations with ties to Iran’s government following President Donald Trump’s exit from the nuclear deal.

New US sanctions target Iran for human rights abuses, censorship | TheHill

The Treasury Department on Wednesday targeted several Iranian nationals, organizations and government officials with financial sanctions over charges of human rights abuses and censorship.

Iran’s Evin prison, Ansar-e Hezbollah face new US sanctions | USA News | Al Jazeera

Two entities, six individuals and a technology group accused of acting on behalf of the government to silence dissent.

Wooing Trump Pays Off for Netanyahu as His Popularity Soars – Bloomberg

Yoaz Hendel, a former adviser to Benjamin Netanyahu, has become one of his fiercest right-wing critics, denouncing his policies in columns and talk shows, and leading a rally against the corruption that’s allegedly permeated his government.

Ex-Mossad chief: In 2011 Netanyahu ordered military to ready Iran strike | The Times of Israel

Tamir Pardo says he checked legality of PM taking action that could lead to war, considered resigning rather than carry out orders

Ex-Mossad chief says he questioned legality of Netanyahu’s order to prepare Iran strike – Israel News – Haaretz.com

Tamir Pardo divulged info during TV interview, saying he consulted with previous Mossad chiefs, legal advisers about ‘who is authorized to give the order to go to war’

Former Mossad Chief Says He Considered Quitting After Being Ordered to Prepare Strike Plans On Iran | The Jewish Press – JewishPress.com | TPS / Tazpit News Agency | 18 Sivan 5778 – May 31, 2018 | JewishPress.com

Netanyahu Twice Told Mossad Chiefs to Prepare Attack on Iran – The Daily Beast

But Mossad leaders questioned the legality of the orders.

Ex-Israeli spy chief: Netanyahu planned Iran strike in 2011 – ABC News

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

Israel Planned to Attack Iran and Start a War, Former Spy Chief Says

Former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to potentially strike Iran may have been illegal.

‘Netanyahu ordered us to be ready to attack within 15 days’ – Israel National News

Former Mossad head says that seven years ago, PM Netanyahu ordered preparations for an attack on Iran.

Netanyahu asked Shin Bet to tap phones of IDF, Mossad heads — report | The Times of Israel

PM’s office denies ‘Uvda’ TV program’s claim he tried, but failed, to get then-Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen to eavesdrop on top brass over fears they were leaking information

PM: This may surprise you – but I think Iranians are brilliant – Israel National News

PM says Tehran regime holding back Iranian people from success – and from working together with Israel.

In video, Netanyahu raves about Iranians’ talents, laments ‘plundering’ regime | The Times of Israel

News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World

Trade war latest: Iran tells France it has two months to secure US sanctions exemption | World | News | Express.co.uk

IRAN’S oil minister Bijan Zanganeh said French oil giant Total had two months to seek protections from US sanctions following Washington’s controversial withdrawal from the international nuclear pact, the state news agency SHANA reported.

What Do Steel Tariffs Have to Do With Iran? Plenty – Bloomberg

It involves exchanging trade peace for concessions on defense spending and Iran.

China May Get World’s Largest Gas Field Because of U.S. Sanctions Against Iran

Iran has given French company Total two months to obtain exemptions from U.S. sanctions, or else China gets its share of the South Pars gas field.

GE Pulls Back From Work in Iran – WSJ

General Electric is planning to end sales of oil and gas equipment later this year in Iran, illustrating how U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal is shutting a narrow window of opportunity for some American businesses.

Major Russian, Indian Energy Firms Reportedly Moving To Pull Out Of Iran

The threat of U.S. sanctions has prompted Russian oil giant Lukoil to put its plans to develop projects in Iran on hold while the Indian company that owns the world’s largest oil refining complex plans to stop buying oil from Iran, Reuters reported on May 30.

The Indian Illusion: Denying Anti-Iranian Sanctions While Implementing Them – Global Village Space

India is misleading the world by saying that it will only adhere to UNSC sanctions and not unilaterally imposed US ones because this only reflects the state’s official intent and doesn’t account for why two of its Iranian-linked banks are complying with American demands.

India & Iran drop dollar in oil trade to bypass US sanctions – report — RT Business News

India will reportedly pay for Iranian oil in rupees as the two countries seek to bypass US sanctions against Tehran, industry officials have told the Sputnik news agency.

Iran Asks OPEC For Support Against U.S. Sanctions | OilPrice.com

Iran is seeking support from fellow OPEC members against the returning U.S. sanctions and wants the issue on the agenda at the Vienna meeting in June

Iran Shouldn’t Count On OPEC For A Bailout | OilPrice.com

Iran, in a series of desperate pleas for support, has turned to OPEC to ask for solutions to the looming U.S. sanctions in order to help safeguard its oil export revenues

The Iran Indicator Oil Markets Are Ignoring | OilPrice.com

While U.S. sanctions on Iran have taken a backseat in the oil markets recently, it is important that analysts keep a wary eye on the situation because it could send oil prices soaring

Iran School Sex-Abuse Scandal Unleashes a #MeToo Outpouring – Bloomberg

Iranians sexually abused as children are sharing their experiences by co-opting the #MeToo hashtag, following a scandal at a Tehran school.

The New Tech That Terrifies OPEC – WSJ

Saudi Arabia fought the U.S. shale oil industry by furiously pumping crude to drive down prices, but instead of killing shale the campaign spurred innovation that transformed U.S. drilling.

Can Turkey’s Economic Turmoil Derail Erdogan’s Reelection? – WSJ

With Turkish elections less than a month away, the economic prosperity that has bolstered voter support for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now under threat.

Erdogan calls on Turks to convert dollar, euros into lira | Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan called on Turks on Saturday to convert their dollar and euro savings into lira, as he sought to bolster the ailing currency which has lost some 20 percent of its value against the U.S. currency this year.

Erdogan asks Turks to prop up lira amid currency volatility | News | Al Jazeera

The Turkish currency has lost about 20 percent of its value since the beginning of the year.

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