Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (91)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The Vozhd’s annual phone-in talkback event remains the single biggest Russia related theme in the media today but is being rapidly displaced by the reports that the Chekist regime ordered in 2014 the complete destruction of Soviet-era Gulag prisoner records, emulating the late WW2 Nazi practice of destroying evidence of their mass murders. While this is being interpreted as an attempt to whitewash Russia’s sorry history, it also begs questions of how confident the regime is about its long-term survival – destroying evidence of past crimes would protect many who benefitted or were involved or their descendants. A fabulous commentary on Russian propaganda by Antonova (COCW applies!). Russia’s banking sector appears to be in deeper trouble than previously believed.

The NATO gathering remains a major topic, and multiple reports emerge on Russia’s Southern prong in its coercion and intimidation strategy, i.e. its buildup in the Black Sea, targeting Ukraine, Moldova, Romania, and Bulgaria. A graphic MH17 protest against Russia.

In Kyiv, Hrytsak, Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), briefs media in detail on the reasoning behind the Babchenko sting, while attacks on the SBU and Babchenko continue by self-interest driven players in Western and Ukrainian media.

No new Salisbury developments.

The most interesting Syria / Iran development has been that Iranian and Iranian proxy force troops are ditching their own BDUs, and putting on Syrian Army BDUs instead, in the belief this will prevent Israeli air attacks. Iran attempts to engage Russia further.


Russia and China make show of unity as US relations falter | News | DW | 08.06.2018

Neighboring giants China and Russia have both stressed the value of a strategic partnership amid faltering relations with the US. Russian President Vladimir Putin was handed a medal by his Chinese counterpart.

Germany Hasn’t Received Evidence Against Russia in Skripal Case From UK – Report – Sputnik International

Although Berlin supported London in the diplomatic row with Moscow over the alleged poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, the UK has yet to provide the German government with any evidence that Russia perpetrated the attack, despite the British authorities’ assurances.

Kiev’s hoax murder of Russian journalist Babchenko may undermine trust in free press – NATO chief — RT World News

The chief of NATO criticized Ukraine for its intelligence stunt involving the staged murder of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko, saying the incident has the power to “undermine” the free press and “fuel propaganda.”

Putin Invokes Threat of Nuclear WWIII and Mutually Assured Destruction

As tensions between Russia and the West are reaching all-time post-Cold War highs, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that “a third world war could be the end of civilization” and said that “should restrain” nations “from taking extreme steps on the international arena that are highly dangerous.” His remarks were aimed at U.S. policies under the administration of President Trump. Responding to a question from a caller during his annual phone-in — wherein he answers questions from the public — Putin recalled the famous quote from Albert Einstein, who said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” The Russian dictator went on to say, “The understanding that a third world war could be the end of civilization should restrain us from taking extreme steps on the international arena that are highly dangerous for modern civilization.” He went on to tout the supposed advantages of mutually assured destruction, declaring, “The threat of mutual destruction has always restrained participants of the international arena, prevented leading military powers from making hasty moves, and compelled participants to respect each other.” Mutually assured destruction (MAD) — the theory that nations with nuclear weapons are restrained from behaving aggressively toward other nations armed with nuclear weapons for fear that the resultant nuclear war would leave both nations in a state of destruction — is an idea that was much talked about during the Cold War. That Putin is reinserting MAD into the conversation now is not a good sign. MAD is perhaps the most apt acronym for a theory that holds that peace comes through the threat of annihilation.

The Week In Russia: Meet The New Boss

President Vladimir Putin held a ho-hum “conversation” with the Russian people a month into his new term, and Moscow struggled not to be sidelined from the high-stakes diplomacy over North Korea.

Russia’s out of the Trump-Kim summit, but it wants in on any Korean peninsula nuclear deal

While the Kremlin sees the upcoming summit between Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un as a positive step, it’s vying to make sure Moscow isn’t left out of any potentially history making denuclearization program for North Korea.

‘Uncle Volodya, I dream of new dresses’: greatest hits from Putin’s annual call-in show

Every year, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosts a dialathon, where callers from across Russia’s nine time zones can rely their regional issues to their tsar-like leader. And every year, Putin resolves to solve them. Here’s a look back as some of his most famous fixes.

Breaking: ISIS terrorists are only present in US-controlled areas in Syria – Russian MoD

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 P.M.) – The Islamic State’s (ISIS) last pockets of resistance are located inside areas controlled by the U.S. forces, the Russian

Expert On EU: Not So Sure Russian Sanctions ‘Will Disappear Quickly’

Carnegie Europe think tank’s senior fellow Pierre Vimont, who also is a former French and European Union diplomat, spoke on June 7 in an interview with RFE/RL correspondent Rikard Jozwiak in Brusse…

Expert deciphers Putin’s latest threats to Ukraine | UNIAN

The Kerch Strait Bridge, where Russia recently launched traffic, allows the aggressor state to drastically improve military logistics into the occupied Crimea, according to Andriy Klimenko, head of the supervisory board at the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation, expert on Crimea, editor-in-chief at BlackSeaNews, who took part in an online chat with the audience of the Glavred media outlet. President of the Russian Federation earlier stated that any escalation in Donbas during FIFA World Cup 2018 hosted by Russia would have grave consequences for the Ukrainian statehood. The Kerch Strait Bridge, where Russia recently launched traffic, allows the aggressor state to drastically improve military logistics into the occupied Crimea, according to Andriy Klimenko, head of the supervisory board at the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation, expert on Crimea, editor-in-chief at BlackSeaNews, who took part in an online chat with the audience of the Glavred media outlet. He stressed that previously, tanks, armored vehicles, missiles, trailers and personnel could be transported to Crimea only by ferry, which involved loading on Russia’s Taman Peninsula, crossing the Kerch Strait only in favorable navigation periods, then unloading in Kerch, and further deployment across the territory of the annexed peninsula. Now all these loading and unloading operations of military equipment and personnel are no longer needed. They can quickly deploy in Crimea everything necessary and further build up their [military] grouping in Crimea,” explained Klimenko. The expert recalled that during the latest Q&A, Putin said that in case of an escalation in Donbas, this will have “grave consequences for the Ukrainian statehood as such.” The expert also noted that during the Crimea occupation back in 2014, women and children were put in front of Russian troops as the latter started blocking Ukrainian Navy and Army bases in Crimea. “In this case, it won’t be about creating a corridor to Crimea through Mariupol and Berdyansk – in this case it will be about [invading] part of Ukraine along the Dnipro’s left bank, that is, the seizure of entire Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk regions and parts of Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, to say the least. It was no coincidence that Putin talked about “grave consequences for the Ukrainian statehood as such.” That is, he threatens the entire Ukraine with aggression,” Klimenko stressed.

The Russian propaganda guide to stealing your roommate’s burrito – To Inform is to Influence

I love this article!!! </end editorial> By Natalia Antonova Posted on June 7, 2018 Crap, you have stolen your roommate’s burrito. It happens to the best of us. Don’t have a roommate? I assume you’ve stolen something at least once from the communal fridge at work/accidentally picked up someone else’s sandwich order (I’ll have it be known,…

Boon Or Boondoggle? World Cup Comes To Nizhny Novgorod

Cheers and jeers as Nizhny Novgorod gets set to host World Cup matches.

Under surveillance in World Cup Russia – BBC News

When a BBC team went to report on preparations in Nizhny Novgorod, where England will play, they found themselves under constant surveillance.

Why Russians are being taught to smile – BBC News

Companies are training workers to give a friendlier face to foreign visitors during the World Cup.

UAWire – Hundreds of Russian banks are at risk of collapse

Based on the results of Russia’s Central Bank stress tests, problems were identified in 117 banks. There exists a risk of a gap appearing in their capital if oil prices go down sharply. Moreover, the bankruptcy of several organizations can lead to a domino effect that will affect another 107 banks, RBC reported with reference to the report of the Russian banking regulator. According to the Central Bank of Russia, these 117 banks account for about 30.6 percent of all banking assets. The Central Bank warns that in case of negative scenarios there is a serious risk of capital deficit. The total volume of a gap in the capital of 117 banks is estimated at 500 billion rubles or eight billion dollars. The stress scenario that the Central Bank used to test the banks included a sharp drop in oil prices and the increase of the ruble exchange rate. The last stress test forecasted a 39 percent drop in the ruble’s value and a fall in oil prices to $25 per barrel, while the Russian economy fell by 3.9 percent of the gross domestic product over this period. The tests were conducted in 2017 but the results of the analysis have only recently been published. “Even considering the income that can be received during a stress period, the activity of the banking sector will be unprofitable,” the Central Bank of Russia acknowledged, noting that in the event of a shock scenario, 51 out of 117 banks would simply collapse and fail to meet the capital sufficiency standards. These banks account for 19.1 percent of all banking assets, the regulator said. In addition to capital insufficiency, the Central Bank assessed that a potential domino effect, an avalanche of bankruptcies among banks caused by the bankruptcy of counterparties could lead to the collapse of 107 financial institutions, accounting for 9.8 percent of bank assets. Stress tests are necessary to assess the potential risks in the market, to assess the potential costs of the Central Bank for the rehabilitation of key players in the banking sector, and to issue instructions to banks to eliminate flaws to avoid potential problems in the future.

UAWire – Russia’s Central Bank predicts sanctions and stagnation

Over the next three years, the rate of economic growth in Russia will be half of the world average, and sanctions from western countries will …

Historians say the Russian authorities have started shredding Gulag archival records. Here’s what we know. — Meduza

Scholars have learned about the existence of a confidential interdepartmental memo ordering the destruction of all registration cards issued to convicts in the Soviet prison system who were 80 years old by February 2014. A researcher named Sergey Prudovsky first drew attention to this secret order on May 10. On June 8, the newspaper Kommersant reported that the director of Russia’s Gulag History Museum has also raised the issue in a letter to Mikhail Fedotov, the head of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council.

The Russian authorities are secretly destroying Soviet Gulag records — Meduza

Executing a secret government order from 2014, the Russian authorities have reportedly started destroying archival records documenting the imprisonment of people during the Soviet era, according to a letter from Roman Romanov, the director of the Gulag History Museum, addressed to Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Fedotov, the head of Russia’s Presidential Human Rights Council.

Gulag Museum Says Moscow Ordered ‘Catastrophic’ Destruction Of Documents

Russia’s Gulag History Museum says a researcher has discovered a secret Moscow directive in 2014 ordering the destruction of some of the last remaining documents on Soviet-era prisoners — a move i…

Russian museum discovers secret order to destroy Gulag data | World news | The Guardian

Papers reveal that ministers ordered erasure of prisoner files in 2014, say archivists

Russia May Be Secretly Destroying Its Gulag Prisoner Records To Erase a Brutal Period In Its History

The lobby group Victims of Communism says it was an attempt to promote a “revisionist history of the Soviet Union.”

Russia’s Gulag museum: Prisoner data secretly destroyed | Miami Herald

A museum studying the history of Soviet prison camps says it has discovered a secret Russian order, instructing officials to destroy important files.

Russian museum discovers secret order to destroy data on gulag system | Daily Mail Online

Up to 17 million people were sent to the Gulag, the notorious Soviet prison camp system, in the 1930s and 1940s, and at least 5 million of them were convicted on false testimony.

Russia deleting records of Gulag victims under secret 2014 order

Activists have accused the Russian government of erasing Gulag victims from memory after it was revealed that agencies were destroying Soviet prisoner records under a secret decree.

Russia Secretly Orders Destruction of Gulag Prisoners’ Records, Media Warns

Russian officials are reportedly destroying the records of gulag prisoners under a secret order passed in 2014, Russian media have reported. An estimated 3-12 million victims of Soviet repression were imprisoned in the gulag network of prisons and forced labor camps in the former Soviet Union. Registration records kept by the Museum of the History of the Gulag, now threatened with destruction, include the permanent records of those killed, as well as archival files detailing those who survived the gulag and when they were released.

Russia orders Gulag records destroyed: researcher

A Russian researcher said Friday he has discovered that Moscow has ordered the destruction of prison records including those relating to the Soviet Gulag, alarming historians and prompting a rights body to intervene. Researcher Sergei Prudovsky told AFP he discovered the matter when he had contacted

UAWire – Russia sends warships armed with Kalibr missiles to the Black Sea

Russia is sending small missile ships of the Caspian flotilla into the Black Sea, reported bmpd.livejournal.com. The ships Grad Sviyazhsk and …

Ukraine suggests real reason behind Russian navy maneuvers in Black Sea | UNIAN

In the northern part of the Black Sea, Russian missile boats have been deployed “officially, no longer hiding,” while the true purpose of maneuvers differs from the stated one, according to a permanent representative of the President of Ukraine in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Borys Babin. Meanwhile, Russian officials claim the ships are tasked with the protection of drilling platforms seized from Ukraine’s Chornomornaftgaz along with the Crimea occupation.

NATO’s Eastern Flank Seeks Increased Alliance Presence In Region

Member countries of NATO’s eastern flank, known as the “Bucharest Nine,” are calling on the alliance to bolster its presence in their region at the upcoming summit in the face of what they se…

UAWire – NATO Secretary General insists on maintaining sanctions against Russia

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated at a press-conference in Brussels on Thursday that the Alliance does not want the isolation of …

UAWire – Ukrainian President Poroshenko to be invited to the NATO Summit in Brussels

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko will be invited to the upcoming July NATO Summit in Brussels, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg …

Top U.S., Russian Generals Discuss Avoiding Conflicts, Tensions

The top Russian and U.S. generals have discussed ways to avoid accidental conflicts and reduce tensions in Ukraine, Syria, and elsewhere during a meeting in Helsinki, the two countries’ militaries …

MH17 crash: Relatives hold chair protest at Russian embassy in The Hague – BBC News

Red roses are placed on 298 chairs in the Netherlands in memory of the victims of the plane crash.

MH17 tragedy: victims’ relatives hold action near Russian Embassy in Hague – 112.international

MH17 tragedy: victims’ relatives hold action near Russian Embassy in Hague

Protest by MH17 families: 298 empty seats in front of Russia embassy (video) | UNIAN

On Friday 8 June, a group of relatives of victims of the downing of flight MH17 held a silent protest in front of the Russian embassy in The Hague, Netherlands. The protest is initiated by the Working Group on Truth Finding for MH17

UAWire – Hrytsak explains why Ukrainian Security Service staged Babchenko’s killing

Vasyl Hrytsak, head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), explained to the German news outlet Bild why the staging of journalist Arkady Babchenko’s murder was necessary, and what was achieved as a result. “Since the client thought that Babchenko was really dead, certain contacting and communication took place, which enabled us to carry out procedural and operational activities and document facts which ultimately had decisive significance in the investigation process. Thus managed to obtain a list of 47 people who were also scheduled for physical destruction,” Hrytsak explained. When asked what evidence there was that Russia was involved in the assassination attempt on Babchenko, the head of the department responded: “Investigative activities are still underway, but I can already say that the electronic storage device with a list, acquired by the investigation, will have decisive significance. Following an analysis of the stored data, we will figure out and document its source of origin, and we will move further along the ‘chain’. I am confident that in the end we will be able to prove that the Russian intelligence agency was behind this action”. Hrytsak says that Russia is interested in destabilizing the situation in Ukraine. “If Babchenko had really been killed, and perhaps if this had been followed by other killings, it would have contributed to an aggravation of the situation in our country, and would have given cause for reproach, that we cannot protect people,” he said. Hrytsak emphasized that many lives were saved through this special operation, and apologized for the apartment misleading the media. However, he noted that the journalist’s family did not suffer emotionally, because Babchenko’s wife knew about the operation from the start. The murder of Arkady Babchenko on May 29 was actually staged by the SBU. The Russian intelligence agency paid the organizer $40,000 for the assassination. Boris German, CEO of LLC UNSP Schmeisser, is suspected of organizing the killing. Ukrainian Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko said that staging the murder made it possible to acquire additional information about the list of 47 people and about the client. President Petro Poroshenko emphasized that staging the murder was entirely permissible for the purpose of saving lives.

The mysterious case of Babchenko′s staged murder, one week on | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 08.06.2018

Kyiv says it prevented the assassination of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko – by staging his death. How credible is this claim? One week has passed since news broke Babchenko is in fact alive. Many questions remain.

Mykola Vorobiov | Arkady Babchenko’s staged assassination: political consequences for Ukraine, the West | The Ukrainian Weekly

In the week since Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko’s staged assassination on May 29 (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, May 31 – published on page 3 of this issue), plenty of smoke and dozens of unanswered questions remain. At this point, Ukrainian law enforcement and the security services have still not provided any clear evidence of the […]

Falling for a lie | Anya Tsukanova AFP

“I am about to put my toddler boys to bed when I get the phone message that makes my heart sink and throws me into deja-vu. ‘Please let him live, please let him live,’ flashes through my mind,” writes Kiev bureau chief Anya Tsukanova of the moment she received the news of the “murder” of Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Arkady Babchenko. Less than 24 hours later the

Living with fake people – Vanguard News

ARKADY Babchenko, a veteran of the Chechen wars in Russia became a  Defence Correspondent working mainly for the Novaya Gazeta. For over a decade, he covered wars like those against Georgia and the on-going separatist conflict in Southeast Ukraine. He incurred public displeasure in December, 2016, when, following the crash of an airline carrying a 64-member military choir and other passengers to war-torn Syria, he wrote: “I have no sympathy, no pity.” He said death threats followed.

British consulate in Saint Petersburg to close after World Cup in wake of Sergei Skripal poisoning | Daily Mail Online

The British Consulate-General will remain open during the World Cup when 32,000 England fans travel to Russia for the tournament. But the embassy will close sometime afterwards.

Mattis: Leaving Syria Without Making Progress Would Be a ‘Blunder’ – News From Antiwar.com

Assad would ‘exploit’ vacuum left by ending US presence

Quitting Syria too soon would be a ‘blunder’: Mattis | The Times of Israel

US Secretary of Defense warns against leaving a vacuum even though US President Donald Trump has vowed to pull out the troops

Vladimir Putin & Syria: Russian Troops Staying Indefinitely | National Review

President Vladimir Putin shifted course Thursday, saying that Russian troops will now stay in war-torn Syria indefinitely.

Rohani, Putin To Discuss U.S. Withdrawal From Nuclear Deal

Iranian President Hassan Rohani has said he will discuss with Russian President Vladimir Putin the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

Iran’s Rouhani wants more talks with Russia about U.S. nuclear deal exit | Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday he wanted more talks with Russia about what he called the “illegal” U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

Rare tensions between Assad’s backers as Syria’s war unwinds | Fox News

A Russian force deployment on the Syria-Lebanon border this week in a Hezbollah stronghold sparked protests by the Lebanese militant group, prompting the force to withdraw from its positions only a day later in a rare sign of tension between the allies.

Iran-Backed Fighters Switch to Syrian Uniforms to Avoid Israeli Strikes, Rebels Say – WSJ

The Syrian regime is disguising Iran-allied militias as its own fighters, according to rebels, a battlefield feint that appears calculated to try to avoid further Israeli air strikes.

Iranian forces pose as Syrian soldiers to evade Israel, report says – Israel News – Haaretz.com

According to The Wall Street Journal, Iran-backed militias are returning to the Israeli-Syrian border in vehicles belonging to the Assad regime. Last week, it was reported that Russia, Israel agreed to remove Iranian forces from border

To avoid Israeli strikes, Iran-backed fighters said disguising selves as Syrians | The Times of Israel

Rebel commanders tell Wall Street Journal that Hezbollah and other militias have left areas near Israeli border, only to return under Syrian regime flag, with rockets and missiles

UAWire – Netanyahu: Israel prepared to attack Syrian army

Israel is prepared to attack not only Iranian forces in Syria, but also the Syrian army itself, stated Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu in London on Thursday. “I think [Syrian President Bashar] Assad should take the following seriously. Now that the war with ISIS is over, and he [Assad] has called on Iran and allows it to attack Israel from the territory of Syria, his regime is no longer safe,” news agency France-Presse quoted Netanyahu as saying. “His regime is not immune. If he fires at us, we will destroy his forces,” added Netanyahu, pointing out the need for a “new approach” in relations with Syria. “Israel will not tolerate the Iranian military entrenchment in Syria against Israel. The consequences are not merely to the Iranian forces there but to the Assad regime as well,” the Israeli Prime Minister said.

Russian Airstrike Kills Dozens in Rebel-Held Village in Syria, Monitors Say – The New York Times

The attack was said to be the deadliest this year in Idlib Province, the Syrian opposition’s last major stronghold. The toll, which includes women and children, could rise.

Ben Rhodes can’t answer questions about Obama secretly granting Iran access to US financial system

Ben Rhodes, a former top aide to President Barack Obama, repeatedly dodged questions from CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Friday about a new report claiming his administration misled Congress about granting Iran access to the U.S. financial system during the negotiation of the Iranian nuclear deal.

Jewish Watchdog Warns of ‘Serious Risk of Violent Disorder’ at Anti-Israel Quds Day March in London | Jewish & Israel News Algemeiner.com

A prominent Jewish organization in the UK has warned that Sunday may see a “perfect storm” at the annual anti-Israel “Quds Day” march in London, possibly leading to violence and terrorism. According to the Campaign Against Antisemitism, there will be speakers who traffic in hate speech and incitement and far-right groups have already pledged to counter the march. In addition, another major march is taking place nearby, stretching the police’s capabilities to keep order. The march also takes place in the midst of military confrontation between Israel and Iran and will begin near the Saudi embassy, exacerbating tensions between Sunni Muslims and Shi’ite Hezbollah supporters.

Saudi Crown Prince Set To Visit Russia For World Cup Opener

Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman will visit Russia for next week’s opening of the World Cup soccer tournament, Russian news agencies report.

Russia Just Got Its Hands on One of America’s Most Deadly Weapons Ever | The National Interest Blog

Moscow has a Tomahawk cruise missile—thanks to the conflict in Syria.

Iraqi Armored Brigade Ditches U.S. M1 Abrams For Russian T-90 Tanks – The Drive

The change in equipment comes after the United States put restrictions on the M1’s use to keep them out of the hands of Iranian-backed militias.

Russia’s Deadly T-90A Tanks are Blowing Up (Like Everyone Else’s) In Syria | The National Interest Blog

We found out why.

India to US: Sanctions won’t stop Russian air-defense system purchase

The risk of losing access to U.S. and international financial institutions may not be enough of a stick to stop the $5.5 billion deal.

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