Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia · Ukraine

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (95)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia’s alternate reality campaign continues, while another poisoning by an unknown substance in the Salisbury area produces a lot of headlines – and the implied question, was it the Russians again? Concerns that Putin’s declining popularity rating may tempt him to repeat the 2014 Crimean play. This speculation is reinforced by the Azov Sea play, and the latest propaganda play around a proposal to rename Crimea to the original Greek and early Tsarist label of  Taurida. The Taurida Gubernate included Mikolayev, and the coastal strip out to Melitopol on the Azov Sea. If NovoRossiya does not sell, try Taurida instead.

UK media reporting that Salisbury investigation has identified two assassins, now in Russia being protected by the regime.

Iran attempts an assassination in Paris under the guise of urban terrorism, and one of their diplomats get caught organising the play – rather foolish. More threats, bluster and bluff by Tehran, mostly aimed at the US. Tehran regime blames Israel for drought.

Syrian mayhem continues.

More on Turkey’s sorry state.


TASS: World – UK tabloid’s report on Skripal case tries to link Salisbury case with Russia – embassy

UK tabloid’s report on Skripal case tries to link Salisbury case with Russia – embassy

Russia’s Lavrov: UK at fault in Skripal case – POLITICO

“It all looks very weird you know,” said Sergei Lavrov.

TASS: World – Situation around Skripal case still looks weird — Lavrov

Discrepancies in the Skripal case were causing a strong concern, he added

Salisbury Skripal poisoning: Britain has ‘exterminated evidence of spy poisoning and benefited politically from the incident’ claims Moscow – Mirror Online

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov also said the Government had “grossly manipulated” the chemical weapons watchdog

A Skripal to run in Russian election – POLITICO

Viktoria Skripal has said she does not trust the UK’s investigation into the poisoning of her relatives.

Niece Of Poisoned Russian Ex-Spy Seeks Political Office In Yaroslavl

The niece of a former Russian spy who was poisoned in Britain earlier this year in what became a major diplomatic incident has said she is running for a seat in a regional Russian legislature.

Niece of Russian spy poisoned in UK enters local election in Moscow | Daily Mail Online

Viktoria Skripal is running for office in the Yaroslavl region north of Moscow for the A Just Russia party, according to party spokeswoman Anastasia Pivovarova.

Niece of alleged UK poisoning victims Viktoria Skripal makes foray into Russian politics — RT Russian Politics News

Viktoria Skripal, the niece of the former intelligence agent and alleged poisoning victim Sergei Skripal, has been nominated to run for Yaroslavl regional legislature by leftist opposition party Fair Russia.

Niece of poisoned ex-spy Sergei Skripal running for office in Russia – Independent.ie

The niece of a former Russian spy who was poisoned in Britain is running for a seat in a regional legislature in Russia as a candidate for a Kremlin-controlled party.

Big Dots — Do They Connect? Steele and Skripal Revisited | The American Spectator

June 28, 2018, 12:05 am More on the world of Christopher Steele and Russian agents, poisoned and un poisoned. Just came across an intriguing theory about Sergei Skripal, the former Soviet/Russian military intelligence agent who spied for Britain, and, along with his daughter Yulia, was nearly killed this spring by a dose of the nerve agent Novichok in the town of Salisbury, England, where they live. In a March 21 interview on the John Batchelor Show, Gregory R. Copley, editor and publisher of Defense & Foreign Affairs, posited that Sergei Skripal is the unnamed Russian intelligence source in the Steele dossier. Copley further explained (or tried to explain) to Batchelor (who kept cutting him off): “The people who wished to see Skripal become quiet were people in Washington, the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton campaign, and people around Christopher Steele himself. I’m not saying necessarily that MI6 or the British government had a witting hand in it, but there are too many people who had an axe to grind to make sure that Skripal did not —” Did not… did not what? Batchelor steps on the end of Copley’s sentence to interject a question about whether the Novichok attack on the Skripals could have been a “gangland” hit. What Copley surely meant was to say was — to make sure Skripal did not “talk.” Copley had already explained that in Skripal’s UK “retirement,” he did plenty of freelance work, providing researchers for a price with that perfect shot of authentic, but also custom-made, “Russian intelligence.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Decline in Public’s Trust May Prompt Putin to Launch New Attacks Abroad, Yury Gudkov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 3 – New Levada Center polls show that Russians are less trusting of Vladimir Putin and other senior leaders including Dmitry Medvedev, Sergey Shoygu and Sergey Lavrov than they were, with fewer than 50 percent of Russians surveyed now saying that they trust the Kremlin leader, Yury Gudkov says. Several factors are involved, the sociologist says, including the end of election-era mobilization, the growth of tensions over rising prices and falling incomes, and the extreme unpopularity of the government’s plan to raise the retirement age. “All this taken together has given this effect” (ehorussia.com/new/node/16546). The unfavorable international environment also plays a role, Gudkov continues. “Forced anti-Western and anti-Ukrainian mobilization cannot last too long,” especially given that with the controversy over pensions, “all foreign policy events have begun to seem less significant” to most Russians. Putin who enjoys the reputation of being a “Teflon” president began to see a decline in public trust immediately after the elections, but the decline has not lasted long enough to say that it is a trend. Several more soundings of public opinion over the next months will be needed for that, Gudkov says. What has occurred so far will not necessarily lead to changes in cadres, he adds, because in an authoritarian system like Russia’s today decisions about that reflect the views of the leadership rather than the assessments of the population, a pattern that Gudkov describes as “unfortunate.” But he says that he “fears there will be changes but not those which we are waiting for. There exists the danger that the [Kremlin’s] course will become as a result harsher and more repressive and the reduction in the support from the population will lead to a return to the use of blackmail in international affairs,” including “provocations” designed to mobilize the population.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: What Might Putin Do to Stop the Plummeting of His Popularity? Three Disturbing Possibilities

Paul Goble Staunton, June 30 – In ten days after the announcement of the government’s plans to raise the pension age for both men and women, Vladimir Putin’s approval rating fell from 78 percent to 64 percent, a decline that as likely increased by the Kremlin’s insistence that he has nothing to do with it even when it is obvious to all that he controls everything he wants to. In a democratic country, such a decline almost certainly would lead to policy or personnel changes; but Putin’s Russia is not a democracy, not even a hybrid one; and he has shown little willingness to change course, especially if it appears he is under pressure to do so, and even less to change key officials as a signal to society that the government will shift. Putin and his cronies obviously thought that Russians would be so entranced by the World Cup that they could get away with this unpopular move; but the Russian people as deferential as they may be to power proved that they were quite capable of rationally assessing what is going on and that their much-ballyhooed support for Putin is broad but paper thin. In the past, Putin’s popularity has risen with the price of oil or as the result of his Anschluss of Ukraine’s Crimea. But oil prices are nowhere near where they were a decade ago and Russian incomes are suffering, with little prospect that they are going to improve anytime soon. Indeed, the government seems to be driving them down by taking more money from them. That suggests the Kremlin leader almost certainly will launch some new aggression. Some may believe that the upcoming summit with Donald Trump in Helsinki will hold him back, arguing that Putin won’t want to do anything to undermine improved ties with the West. But unfortunately, Trump’s willingness to defer to Putin now seems greater than that of the Russians. Consequently, given that Putin like almost all Russian rulers behaves according to type – that is, does the same thing again and again and again – it is unfortunately likely that he will try to get some foreign policy “victory” to win back his popularity which given how much he manipulates the media and polls he clearly cares about. There are many possibilities, of course. But three should be on anyone’s watch list. They are: · First, a further land grab in Ukraine to secure a land bridge to Crimea and total control of the Sea of Azov. Putin has been building up forces for both, although it remains unclear whether he could take such a step without sparking outrage in much of the West if not with Trump or would win as much support as seizing Crimea in the first place did. · Second, a military-political move to break or absorb a former Soviet republic. The two most likely candidates are Belarus which Putin has always wanted to become part of the Russian Federation and Georgia which he invaded once before and which he has been pursuing a proxy war via South Ossetia recently because of Tbilisi’s drive to become part of the West. Such steps would disturb much of the West but might not given him the boost at home he seeks. · And thus third, a move in the Middle East designed to destabilize one or more countries in order to drive up oil prices, weaken Israel and the United States, and win support at home by returning Russia to the “fat” years of high oil prices. That certainly would boost his approval rating at home, and it might not hurt him that in the West especially if he did it in a proxy fashion. Thus, while one can only be pleased with the decline in expressed support for Putin among Russians shows that they are not forever linked to him no matter what he does, unlike apparently the supporters of some Western politicians, one must be worried, as the The Bell’s Artem Gubenko says, because of what Putin may do in response (thebell.io/uroven-odobreniya-putina-upal-na-14-za-10-dnej-iz-za-pensionnoj-reformy/).The only certainties are that he will do something and that it will further threaten the international order.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Will Go as Far as He Can and Even He Doesn’t Know How Far That Might Be, Polish Senator Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 1 – Unlike most leaders who either accept existing borders or have limited ideas about what they might like to add to their countries, Bogdan Borusewicz says, Vladimir Putin will advance as far as he can until he is prevented from doing so by resistance from others. In its absence, even “Putin himself doesn’t know how far he can go.” When Ukraine did not resist in Crimea, Putin advanced; when it did in the Donbass, Putin stopped, the Polish senator says. And that makes the divisions in the West over how to handle the Kremlin leader especially worrisome. Putin could easily move in any number of directions (ru.espreso.tv/article/2018/06/27/vyce_marshalok_senata_polshy_bogdan_borusevych_putyn_poydet_nastolko_daleko_naskolko_emu_eto_pozvolyat). He will exploit weakness and division wherever he can find it because his goals are virtually unlimited; and his pursuit of them, Borusewicz says, is thus a continuing threat not only to Russia’s neighbors but to the international community. Had Ukraine been a member of NATO, he continues, Putin would not have launched his aggression there because that would be like aggression against Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, something that will not happen as long as the Western alliance exists and the United States remains in it, Borusevich says. Any countries outside of that alliance or a decision by Washington to distance itself from NATO as Donald Trump appears to be headed toward will put all the countries around the periphery of Putin’s Russia at risk of being attacked and annexed unless they can defend themselves, something that will be difficult given Russia’s relatively superior power.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Three Signs the Kremlin is More Worried about Russian Separatism than It Admits

Paul Goble Staunton, July 3 – The Russian government says and most Russian commentators and Western observers agree that Vladimir Putin’s Russia does not face any significant separatist challenges by Russians. But three events this week suggest Moscow is more worried about that possibility than it will ever admit. What is especially striking is the fact that they are not all about one region or another but rather about the possibility that the Russian Federation is far more fragile and even threatened by ethnic Russian challenges than perhaps at any time since the early 1990s. These three developments include: First and most definitively, Fedot Tumusov, a Just Russia deputy in the Duma, says in a Rosbalt post: “Russia is losing the Far East” (rosbalt.ru/posts/2018/07/03/1714652.html). In support of that contention, he cites the words of Yury Trutnev, Putin’s plenipotentiary representative to the Far Eastern Federal District. Trutnev has declared that “at the present time, 70 percent of the Far East is not connected by air routes. Of the 470 airports and landing sites which existed in 1991, only a sixth remain. That lack constitutes a direct threat tot eh life and health of people by not giving them the opportunity to receive timely medical assistance.” Things have only gotten worse in the last three years, Trutnev says, because the Russian transportation ministry has promised by not provided for the construction of 42 landing sites. As a result, people are fleeing the Far East in droves because they do not believe they have any future there. “If the state wants to keep the Far East for Russia – simply preserving Russia – it must find the money” for such projects.” Otherwise, Tumusov points out, two-thirds of the country will cease to be part of it. “It is a good thing,” he continues, “that the presidential plenipotentiary is speaking publicly about this problem. But it would be better if he said what the state intends to do about it.” Second and in an archetypically Russian way, a Moscow commentator is using a historical debate to make points about the present. Mikhail Zarezin complains that too many Russians have a positive attitude about White leaders forgetting that many of them were quite prepared not just to live under the influence of foreign powers but to give parts of Russia away. He says he is especially incensed by those who say that anti-Bolshevik atamans like Semyonov and Annenkov were true Russian heroes. In fact, they were Russian separatists ready to take parts of Russia away from Moscow. To support that contention, he republishes an historian’s 2015 article that makes that point (cont.ws/@mzarezin1307/992384). (That article, A.V. Ganin’s “A New Document about the Separatism of Atamans B.V. Annenkov and G.M. Semyonov” (in Russian), Kazachestvo Dalnogo Vostoka Rossii v XVII-XXI vv., sbornik statey, vyp. 4 (Khabarovsk, 2014), pp. 131-134, is extremely interesting in its own right.) And the third is a discussion on the After Empire portal about the Russian government’s plan to declare journalists who work for or even cooperate with media outlets which Moscow has declared extremist extremist on an individual basis, one that suggests the regime is especially targeting regionalists (afterempire.info/2018/07/03/inoagents/). “By a strange combination of circumstances,” the Tallinn-based portal which covers regionalism in Russia says that “according to the Russian justice ministry list,” the publications and their authors who have been targeted are “almost exclusively those which have been specializing on a regionalist agenda.” Among them are Radio Free Europe, Nastoyashchyeye vremay, the Tatar-Bashkir service of Radio Svoboda, and Svoboda’s “regional media projects, Sibir Realii, Idel.Realii, Kavkaz.Realii, and Krym.Realii. “This is understandable,” After Empire says. By telling the truth about the real life of Russia’s regions, you inflict harm on imperial unity.” According to the portal, “the Putin regime with each passing year is spending ever more forces, resource, and ‘spiritual bindings’ in the struggle with ‘the disintegration of the country.’” It wants to homogenize the country and clearly believes that is the only way that the unity of Russia can be preserved. Empires always feel that way, but “empires age and die. And on their graves always grow and flourish ‘thousands of flowers’ of unique regional cultures. The same thing will be true this time as well.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Three Pieces of Very Bad Economic News for Putin

Paul Goble Staunton, July 2 – Vladimir Putin may not have been able to use the World Cup to distract Russians sufficiently to prevent them from protesting rising gas prices and plans to increase taxes and the retirement age; but he has achieved one thing: Western coverage of Russia has focused on the world cup rather than an avalanche of bad economic news. Three pieces of such news should not be ignored because they point to longer term consequences than any athletic competition is ever going to have: First, as commentator Vladislav Grinkevich points out on Profile, rising oil prices have not boosted the Russian economy as they did earlier, something that only highlights the failure of Moscow to come up with an alternative way of boosting economic growth (profile.ru/economics/item/126052-zakat-prekrasnoj-neftyanoj-epokhi). Second, a Telegram blogger says that Western sanctions are having the effect of driving the members of the CIS away from Russia, as the leaders of those countries which remain in it placing their bets on attracting Western investment given that Moscow no longer has the resources to buy them off and keep them loyal (t.me/boilerroomchannel/1602). And third, ever more of the youngest and most educated Russians say they cannot find suitable work in Russia and thus are planning to emigrate. Half of Russian graduate students plan to leave, and nearly one in three (31 percent) of all Russians aged 18 to 24 tell pollsters the same thing (takiedela.ru/news/2018/07/02/vciom-emigracia/).

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russia’s Transformation of Ethnic Mix in Occupied Crimea an Act of Genocide

Paul Goble Staunton, July 2 – Most definitions of genocide focus on the mass murder of one ethnic group by representatives of another, but that crime against humanity also includes the artificial transformation of the ethnic composition of a place by the artificial expulsion of its historical residents and the artificial introduction of outsiders. That is a crime, growing evidence suggests, that the Russian Federation is guilty of in occupied Crimea. In an article for the IdelReal portal, Radio Svoboda’s Ramazan Alpaut survives one of the aspects of this act of genocide, “the de-Tatarization” of the Ukrainian peninsula (idelreal.org/a/29272016.html). According to Russian official statistics, Alpaut says, “about 247,000 Russians have moved to Crimea since 2014, while “about 140,000,” overwhelmingly ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars have departed for other parts of Ukraine. These movements have increased the Russian share of the population from 60 to 65 percent and cut that of the Ukrainians from 24 percent to 15 with Crimean Tatars increasing from 10 to 12 percent. But Ukrainian officials and experts say the numbers of those arriving and departing are greater and the ethnic shift thus far larger. Boris Babin, the permanent representative of the Ukrainian president for Crimea, says that “we can with confidence say that we are talking about hundreds of thousands of people.” “A large number of Russian government employees are being shifted to Crimea with members of their families, and the latter are seeking work. In addition, there are many gastarbeiters” from the Russian Federation, he says. And there are far more people who have fled than the 40,000 who have officially registered with Ukrainian authorities. At the end of May, Mustafa Dzhemilyev, a leader of the Crimean Tatars and advisor to President Petro Poroshenko, said that Moscow had moved in or sponsored the migration of between 850,000 and one million people to Crimea, significantly changing the ethnic balance there. But he acknowledged that the exact figures are impossible to specify because the Russian occupation authorities treat them as “a military secret” given that “they know very well that they are committing a military crime,” one defined as an act of genocide by the Geneva Convention of 1949. Refat Chubarov, another Crimean Tatar leader who is a deputy in the Verkhovna Rada, seconds that view. He points out that one of the major reasons is Moscow’s expansion of pre-existing military bases and the creation of new ones, something that has brought many soldiers and sailors and members of their families to the Ukrainian peninsula. According to Andrey Klimenko, editor of the Black Sea News, the Russian occupiers treat the demographic situation in Crimea solely from the perspective of how best to ensure that they have a loyal population which won’t engage in protests or make significant demands on the authorities. Igor Tyshkevich, an expert at the Ukrainian Institute for the Study of the Future, says, that he has evidence that Moscow has a plan to shift prisoners from the Far East and other parts of Russia to Crimea in order to save money as it costs less to hold them on the Ukrainian peninsula than elsewhere. In support of these population shifts, Ukrainian expert Yevgen Goryunov says that the occupiers give preferences to the new arrivals in schools and kindergartens. “This is the only thing that Russia can give them so that they will settle here.” At the same time, the occupation authorities make local people wait in line. Finally, Irina Pribytkova, a sociologist at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, say that what Russian officials are doing now is a direct continuation of what tsarist and then Soviet officials did earlier – trying to change the ethnic balance in Crimea in order to be in a better position to hold its acquisition. “This must be watched via constant monitoring,” she says, something “Ukraine is doing,” in order to see both the ways in which Russia is bringing in new people and seeking via repression to force the departure of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Warms to Greek Diaspora Proposal to Add Tauride to Crimea’s Name

Paul Goble Staunton, July 1 – Ivan Shonus, the head of the national autonomy of the Greeks of Crimea, says that his group’s call to rename Crimea with the tsarist-era name the Tauride is gaining traction in Moscow whose officials say that despite some problems, doing so is “possible,” via a name like “the Autonomous Republic of Crimea – Tauride.” Because the Tauride included not just Crimea but also a large portion of southeastern Ukraine, this would be an aggressive step, one that would threaten the Crimean Tatars as the main indigenous people of the peninsula and the territorial integrity of Ukraine. (See windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/06/two-dangerous-proposals-on-crimea-with.html.) Shonus’ words and his insistence that his group “intends to continue to push the idea” because it is convinced that “if such a decision will be taken, it will serve as an additional stimulus to the affirmation of the Russian status of Ukraine” are cited by Moscow commentator Artem Leonov on the Soletiye portal (stoletie.ru/vzglyad/stanet_li_krym_tavridoj_441.htm). Leonov for his part suggests that the restoration of the name Tauride is appropriate for three reasons: first, the Greeks were on the peninsula long before the Tatars were; second, the Russian Imperial government always used this term; and third, Stalin favored restoring the term at the end of his life but Nikita Khrushchev ignored that after the dictator’s death. The Greeks have a history on the peninsula extending back to classical times, he writes; and when Russia annexed Crimea the first time, it called the region the Tauride. Thus it remained until the end of the imperial period even though Greeks during that time were subject to harsh assimilation pressures and even deported from Crimea to other parts of the empire. After the Bolshevik revolution, the toponym was very much a contested one. In March 1918, a Soviet Republic of the Tauride was proclaimed but five weeks later, German forces entered the region and suppressed it. Then in April 1919, a Crimean Soviet Socialist Republic was announced only to be liquidated by anti-Bolshevik White forces. Finally, on October 18, 1921, Lenin settled the matter by signing a decree “On the formation of a Crimean Autonomous Republic.” But according to Leonov, Tauride has a better claim. The name “Crimea” only began to be used after the 13th century when the Golden Horde expanded into the area. Before that the Tauride was much more often commonly employed, he says. The Ottomans insisted on Crimea, and that name continues to be supported by Muslims and Crimean Tatars. After Lenin’s proclamation of a Crimean Autonomous Republic, Leonov continues, many ethnic Greeks left to return to their historical homeland, and their numbers on the peninsula declined precipitously. They were repressed as well during World War II by the Germans, Romanians and “especially” Italian occupiers. Then, following a decision in Moscow on June 2, 1944, “almost 14,000 Crimean Greeks” were resettled in Perm oblast, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan “without the right to return to Crimea.” Nonetheless, beginning in the late 1950s some did; and they and their descendants now number approximately 3100. That might seem too small a number to take into account, Leonov acknowledges; but he argues that “the inclusion of the name ‘Tauride’ in the official name of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has an historical basis” and not one as distant historically as its opponents try to suggest. According to him, at the end of the 1940s and beginning of the 1950s, P.I. Titov, the head of the Crimean oblast party committee convinced Stalin that this would be a good idea and the Soviet leader approved it. “But after Stalin, this project was put on hold by his ‘comrades in arms’ and in 1954, they separated Crimea from Russia.”

Taurida Governorate – Wikipedia

Taurida Governornate Map – Taurida Governorate – Wikipedia

Chiygoz: Putin afraid of peacekeepers in Donbas because of Crimean issue | UNIAN

Deputy Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, Akhtem Chiygoz, has said Russian President Vladimir Putin is afraid of the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission to Donbas because of the Crimean issue. The Normandy format should determine the overall pressure on Putin, Chiygoz said.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Boosting Tensions in Sea of Azov But Can’t Change Strategic Situation There, Senior Ukrainian Intelligence Officer Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 2 – Ukrainian forces long anticipated what Russian ships are doing in the Sea of Azov and have taken measures that haven’t been able to prevent an increase in tensions around that body of water but have succeeded in ensuring that Moscow can’t change the strategic situation there, according to Ukrainian Lt. Gen. Vasilii Bohdan. Russia has indeed introduced more ships in the inland sea, the intelligence veteran says, and has been able to harass Ukrainian and foreign shipping; but despite the fears of some, Kyiv in anticipation of this development has taken significant steps to limit its impact (apostrophe.ua/article/politics/foreign-policy/2018-07-02/rossiya-sozdaet-blokadu-na-novom-napravlenii-general-ozvuchil-glavnyie-ugrozyi-dlya-ukrainyi/19132). “Russia’s strategic plans toward Ukraine are well known: the dismemberment and destruction of it as a state, Bohdan says. “Undoubtedly, the Azov direction – Mariupol, Berdyansk and so on – from a strategic point of view interest Russia” both to drive a land bridge to Russian-occupied Crimea and to attack other parts of Ukraine. “Plans are plans and strategy is strategy,” the general continues, “but for the Ukrainian General Staff and the command of the Unified Forces Operation is neither new nor unexpected.” To the best of his knowledge, the general says, Kyiv long ago predicted what has happened and has taken steps to respond. He argues that “the military contingent of the Ukrainian Armed Services which is there now will not allow for any unexpected action from the point of view of the moves of the Russian Federation in the Azov direction.” “Yes, this is a threat and there are definite risks but there is still no basis for considering that this situation can change in any significant way the balance of forces in Russia’s favor.” Indeed, Ukrainian forces are now at such a level there that “it would be difficult and I would say impossible,” the general adds, “to achieve the strategy in this direction that it has planned.” Russia’s harassment of shipping and stopping of ships is just one more aspect of its “hybrid war” against Ukraine, clearly intended in the first instance to establish an economic blockade of the country. Not surprisingly, this is creating tensions; but these aren’t sufficient to win Moscow a victory. “Russia still has not achieved the desired effect,” he says. Most Ukrainian and foreign shippers are ignoring Russia’s campaign and this gives rise to “a certain optimism.” And international bodies which supervise the laws of the sea are on Ukraine’s side, something important even though Moscow has no intention of abiding by their decisions. If our foreign partners stand with us and expand their sanctions regime, everything will be well, the general says. But even if there are problems in that direction, the Ukrainian military is in a position to stand on its own, now possessing better weapons and more training. Its units can repel any possible Russian action. The most positive thing Kyiv can do, the general concludes, is to promote “the consolidation and unity within the country,” identifying and disarming “’the fifth column’” and any collaborators” who spread negative stories about the situation around the Sea of Azov and elsewhere as well.

Wiltshire Police on Twitter: “We’ve declared a major incident after it is suspected that two people might have been exposed to an unknown substance in Amesbury. Full details here: https://t.co/yaaUqH97Te… https://t.co/njs2ZM20CJ”

Terrorism Police UK on Twitter: “Given recent events in Salisbury, officers from the Counter Terrorism network are working jointly with colleagues @wiltshirepolice regarding the incident in Amesbury. As Wiltshire Police have stated, they are keeping an open mind as to the circumstances surrounding the incident.”

Wiltshire Police on Twitter: “Public Health England’s @PHE_uk advice is currently: “Based upon the number of casualties affected, is that it is not believed that there is a significant health risk to the wider public. This will be continually assessed as further information becomes known.””

Wiltshire Police on Twitter: “We continue to deal with the major incident declared in the Amesbury area. It is suspected that 2 people may have been exposed to an unknown substance. As soon as we have more information we will issue it on our Wiltshire Police social media and website. https://t.co/0uVZzDoSaM”

Counter terror police join probe into Amesbury, England, couple’s mystery illness – CBS News

Couple found unconscious just 8 miles from Salisbury, where Russian ex-spy and his daughter​ were poisoned

Amesbury couple in critical state after exposure to unknown substance near Salisbury – The Washington Post

British police have declared a “major incident” near the historic town of Salisbury, England.

Unknown substance sickens couple near site of UK poison attack

Thenman and woman were found unconscious in Amesbury, about 10 miles from Salisbury, where Sergei Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, were found unresponsive on a bench on March 4.

Amesbury: Two collapse near Russian spy poisoning site – BBC News

Counter terror police investigate after two people collapse near Salisbury where a Russian spy was poisoned.

New incident near scene of Sergei Skripal attack leaves 2 critically ill

Actor Joseph Capone had an unspecified body part maimed during a torturous kidnapping, an indictment unsealed Tuesday by a Los Angeles grand jury alleges.

Wiltshire police declare major incident after couple exposed to substance | News | DW | 04.07.2018

Salisbury District Hospital is treating two people for suspected exposure to an unknown substance after they were found unconscious at the weekend. It is the same facility which treated Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

Wiltshire police declare major incident after couple exposed to substance – media | UNIAN

British police declared a major incident on Wednesday after a couple fell ill from possible exposure to an unknown substance near the southern English town of Salisbury. A man and a woman in their 40s were found unconscious in a building in the southern town of Amesbury on Saturday evening.

Scotland Yard believes two-man hit team led Salisbury nerve agent attack on behalf of the Kremlin

The pair are thought to have left the UK the next morning after carrying out the attempted assassination and are now under the protection of Vladmir Putin

Salisbury spy poisoning BREAKTHROUGH: Two hitmen protected by PUTIN ‘behind attack’ | UK | News | Express.co.uk

THE Salisbury spy poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia was led by a two-man hit team who are now under the protection of Vladimir Putin, Scotland Yard believes.

Russia harbouring Sergei Skripal assassins ‘under Vladimir Putin’s protection’ | Daily Star

ASSASSINS who tried to kill Russian spy Sergei Skripal are hiding under protection of Vladimir Putin, Scotland Yard detectives believe.

Salisbury to host Armed Forces Day after Skripal attack response | UK news | The Guardian

Theresa May says event will celebrate city’s resilience following nerve agent attack

Scot Young’s ex sent Skripal poison threat | News | The Sunday Times

The former fiancée of Scot Young, the late British tycoon who had murky business links to Russia, claims she is being threatened by the poisoners who had targeted the double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury. Noelle Reno, 34, was in a relationship with the businessman shortly before he was found impa

Iranian diplomat in Austria held over Paris bomb plot – BBC News

Austria is set to lift the diplomat’s immunity after he is linked to the foiled attack.

An Iranian diplomat was arrested in a plot to blow up a massive ‘freedom’ event attended by Rudy Giuliani | Business Insider

An Iranian diplomat, along with five others, have been arrested over a plot to blow up an event of an exiled Iranian opposition group.

Four Arrested in Alleged Plot to Bomb Anti-Iran Gathering – WSJ

Four people, including an Iranian diplomat, were arrested for allegedly planning to bomb a meeting of Iranian opposition groups outside Paris last Saturday that included Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Diplomat arrested over alleged attack plot on Iranian group in France | US news | The Guardian

Four people held for allegedly plotting bombing of MEK rally attended by Rudy Giuliani

Belgian couple arrested in plot to bomb Iranian opposition event attended by Giuliani, Gingrich | Fox News

A Belgian couple were among four people arrested over the weekend in connection with a planned bomb attack at a large rally held by Iranian opposition groups and attended by President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani, authorities in Brussels said Monday.

Trump Allies Tell Paris Rally ‘End Of Regime’ Near In Iran

Close allies of U.S. President Donald Trump have told a “Free Iran” rally in Paris that the end of the Iranian regime is near and that sanctions against the country will be “greater, greater, and g…

Trump ally Giuliani says end is near for Iran’s rulers | Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump will suffocate Iran’s “dictatorial ayatollahs”, his close ally Rudy Giuliani said on Saturday, suggesting his move to re-impose sanctions was aimed squarely at regime change.

Trump ally Giuliani says end is near for Iran’s rulers – AOL News

President Donald Trump will suffocate Iran’s ‘dictatorial ayatollahs,’ his close ally Rudy Giuliani said on Saturday,

Can Donald Trump Convince Vladimir Putin to Turn Against Iran? Syria War to Be Discussed at U.S.-Russia Summit

Trump and Putin will meet in Finland on July 16, and the two men will likely speak at length about the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Trump administration debating ‘terrorist’ label for arm of Iran’s military – CNNPolitics

The Trump administration is weighing whether to label a powerful arm of Iran’s military as a terrorist group, part of an effort to use every possible tool in the box to pressure Tehran.

Can Iran stop the downward spiral of its currency? | Iran News | Al Jazeera

Economists and political observers urge President Rouhani to take specific steps to fix the currency woes.

New Unrest Roils Iran as U.S. Ramps Up Pressure – WSJ

Spreading unrest in Iran raises the prospect of broader antigovernment protests as the political leadership in Tehran faces mounting pressure from a Trump administration effort to cut off the country’s oil sales.

Protest Over Water Scarcity Turns Violent In Southwestern Iran

Hundreds of demonstrators protesting against shortages of drinking water in southwestern Iran have clashed with police, local media report.

Videos show gunfire amid Iran protests over water scarcity 

Online videos appear to show Iranian security forces shooting at protesters early Sunday amid demonstrations over water scarcity in the country’s south.

Iran’s rulers face discontent as U.S. pressure mounts | Reuters

Mounting pressure from the Trump administration combined with discontent among many Iranians at the state of the economy are rattling the Islamic Republic, with little sign that its leaders have the answers, officials and analysts say.

Iran vows ‘CONSEQUENCES’ if US undermines oil trade | World | News | Express.co.uk

IRAN’S President Hassan Rouhani issued a stark warning to the US saying there will be “consequences” if Washington succeeds in blocking Tehran’s international oil exports.

Iran’s leaders seek ways to defend economy from U.S. sanctions | Reuters

Iran is studying ways to keep exporting oil and other measures to counter U.S. economic sanctions, state news agency IRNA reported on Saturday.

Iran General Says Israel Behind Climate Change and Is Stealing Clouds

The head of Iran’s meteorological service said that, unless the general knows something he doesn’t, there’s no way a country can steal clouds.

Snow Job: Iran Accuses Its Enemies Of ‘Stealing Clouds’ To Create Drought

An Iranian official has accused Iran’s foreign enemies, including Israel, of stealing the country’s clouds to cause drought.

Iran general blames Israel for ‘cloud theft,’ then is rebuked by Islamic Republic scientist | Fox News

An Iranian general accused Israel of manipulating the weather over the Islamic Republic, claiming on Monday the Jewish state was stealing clouds and snow and contributing to climate change.

Iranian commander accuses Israel of stealing Iran’s clouds | Daily Mail Online

Brigadier General Gholam Reza Jalali said the changing climate in Iran is ‘suspect’ and blamed Israel for the theft of clouds, such as the ones floating above the Alborz mountains (pictured).

Obama administration granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians during nuclear deal: Iran official | Fox News

The Obama administration granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians, including family members of government officials, while negotiating the Iran nuclear deal, a senior cleric and member of parliament has claimed.

At least 270,000 Syrians flee latest deadly regime offensive – CNN

At least 270,000 Syrians have fled their homes in southwest Syria since the government launched an offensive against rebels over two weeks ago, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

Russia Says Shot Down Drones Near Syria Air Base

The Russian military says it has downed unidentified drones near its Hmeimim airbase in western Syria.

UAWire – Lavrov: Russia does not set time limits for its military presence in Syria

Russia does not set artificial time limits on its military presence in Syria but it gradually reduces the length of presence there, depending on …

UAWire – Russia threatens to close France 24 TV channel

Russia's state media regulator Roskomnadzor threatened to stop broadcasting France 24 TV chanel the day after the French Superior Council of …

UAWire – French company Lafarge charged with cooperating with terrorists in Syria

Lafarge, a large French construction materials company, has been charged with cooperating with terrorists in Syria and complicity in crimes …

UAWire – Georgia closes its airspace to Syria

Georgia closed its airspace to two Syrian airlines because of Syria’s recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as stated …

British fighter jets bomb Syrian forces

British forces have bombed Syrian troops loyal to the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, for the first time since April. A Typhoon fighter jet dropped a 500-pound laser-guided bomb near Syria’s borders with Iraq and Jordan last month, according to the Sunday Times of London.

UAWire – Russia conducts air strikes in Northern Syria near Turkish border

Russian warplanes carried out a massive attack in the southwest of the Syrian Idlib province, Al-Masdar news outlet reports . According to Al- …

Syrian government calls on refugees to return home

The rare appeal by President Bashar al-Assad’s government reflects its growing confidence after more than seven years of war.

The Battle at Hudaydah: How Saudi Arabia Is Trying to Cut off Houthi Rebels’ Maritime Supply Lines | The National Interest

We break down what is happenning.

UAE says pauses Hodeidah offensive for U.N. Yemen peace efforts | Reuters

The United Arab Emirates said on Sunday it had halted its military campaign against the Iran-aligned Houthis for control of Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah to support U.N. efforts to reach a political solution.

It’s Time to Put Turkey’s Ally Status on Probation | The National Interest

It is time to hold bad allies like Turkey accountable before they further weaken America’s collective security.

Turkey arrests former opposition MP on terrorism charges – BBC News

Eren Erdem is jailed pending trial just days after losing his parliamentary seat in elections.

Turkey bans main opposition officials from soldiers’ funerals | Reuters

Turkey’s interior minister said on Thursday he had banned local officials from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) from attending Turkish soldiers’ funerals, accusing the party of supporting outlawed Kurdish militants.

Turkey Strongman Erdogan Tries to Overtake Saudi Arabia As Palestinians’ Biggest Supporter

Israeli officials said Erdogan is also donating funds to Islamic Organizations in Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

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