Information operations · Information Warfare · Iran · Russia · Syria · UK · United Kingdom

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (115)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

</end editorial>

Russia gets a major dose of “Helsinki blowback”, while its propagandists play the Salisbury game over the murder of the three journalists investigating Wagner PMC mercs in Africa. Russia fantasizes about WIGs. After freezing the Armata, Russia brags about how many tanks it has.

In Salisbury, police continue to search for more CW agent, while decontaminating ambulances.

Yemen combat escalates, while Golan may be de-escalating. Erdoğan appears to be, like Iran, playing the Putin game to build domestic support by baiting the US.


Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in introducing the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018, comprehensive legislation that would increase economic, political, and diplomatic pressure on the Russian Federation in response to Vladimir Putin’s continued interference in our elections, malign influence in Syria, aggression across Eastern Europe, and other destabilizing activities. “For nearly two years, our nation’s top intelligence officials have repeatedly warned that the Kremlin is continuing its efforts to target our elections and sow chaos among our citizens,” said Senator McCain. “Until Putin pays a serious price for his actions, these attacks on our democracy will only grow. This bill would build on the strongest sanctions ever imposed on the Putin regime for its assault on democratic institutions, violation of international treaties, and siege on open societies through cyberattacks and misinformation campaigns. Moreover, this legislation would modernize our diplomatic tools and secure our critical infrastructure to better deter and defend against Putin’s aggression. We must confront this challenge — not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans. Because ultimately, Putin’s true aim is to undermine all of us — our country, our freedom, and all that America stands for.” “The current sanctions regime has failed to deter Russia from meddling in the upcoming 2018 midterm elections,” said Senator Graham. “Our goal is to change the status quo and impose crushing sanctions and other measures against Putin’s Russia until he ceases and desists meddling in the US electoral process, halts cyber-attacks on US infrastructure, removes Russia from Ukraine, and ceases efforts to create chaos in Syria. The sanctions and other measures contained in this bill are the most hard-hitting ever imposed – and a direct result of Putin’s continued desire to undermine American democracy. I strongly believe that DNI Coats’ assessment – that the warning lights are blinking red when it comes to Russian meddling in the 2018 election – is accurate. These sanctions and other measures are designed to respond in the strongest possible fashion.” “Vladimir Putin continues to pose a growing threat to our country and allies. While Congress overwhelmingly passed a strong set of countermeasures last year, unfortunately, the Administration has not fully complied with that legislation. This bill is the next step in tightening the screws on the Kremlin and will bring to bear the full condemnation of the United States Congress so that Putin finally understands that the U.S. will not tolerate his behavior any longer,” said Senator Menendez. “The Kremlin continues to attack our democracy, support a war criminal in Syria and violate Ukraine’s sovereignty. With the passage of this legislation, Congress will once again act to establish a clear U.S. policy to hold Russia accountable with one clear message: Kremlin aggression will be met with consequences that will shake Putin’s regime to its foundation.” “The United States must continue to take strong actions against Vladimir Putin’s Russia for their global violations of international law and repeated attempts to undermine U.S. democratic institutions,” said Senator Gardner. “I fully support this bipartisan measure that will impose further economic sanctions against the Kremlin and also includes my language requiring the State Department to determine whether Russia merits the designation of a State Sponsor of Terror, along with Kremlin allies Iran and Syria that are already designated. Unless Russia fundamentally changes its behavior, we must not repeat the mistakes of past Administrations of trying to normalize relations with a nation that continues to pose a serious threat to the United States and our allies.” “It is once again up to Congress to strengthen America’s resolve against Vladimir Putin’s pattern of corroding democratic institutions and values around the world, a direct and growing threat to U.S. national security,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and one of the co-authors and lead negotiators of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). “Importantly, a number of the recommendations from the report on Russian interference I commissioned six months ago are included in this legislation. I’m pleased to partner with my bipartisan colleagues to build on CAATSA and further protect ourselves and our allies from a Kremlin that shows no sign of abiding by or respecting international norms.” “We must stand arm-in-arm with our allies against the Kremlin’s hybrid attacks on the U.S. and democracies across the world,” said Senator Shaheen. “This bipartisan legislation sends a strong message of unity and deterrence against the Kremlin, while closing security gaps that leave our nation and its citizens vulnerable. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to advance this bill and harden our defenses against malign foreign influence.” Key elements of the legislation include: A strong statement of support for NATO and a requirement for two-thirds of the United States Senate to vote to leave NATO Provisions expediting the transfer of excess defense articles to NATO countries to reduce some NATO countries’ dependence on Russian military equipment. The establishment of an Office of Cyberspace and the Digital Economy within the Department of State. This office will lead diplomatic efforts relating to international cybersecurity, Internet access, Internet freedom, the digital economy, cybercrime, deterrence and responses to cyber threats. Provisions aimed to pressure the Russian government to halt its obstruction of international efforts to investigate chemical weapons attacks as well as punish the Russian government for chemical weapons production and use. Making interfering in our elections a ground of inadmissibility under immigration law The International Cybercrime Prevention Act which would give prosecutors the ability to shut down botnets and other digital infrastructure that can be used for a wide range of illegal activity; create a new criminal violation for individuals who have knowingly targeted critical infrastructure, including dams, power plants, hospitals, and election infrastructure; and prohibit cybercriminals from selling access to botnets to carry out cyber-attacks The Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act which would allow the Department of Justice to pursue federal charges for the hacking of any voting system that is used in a federal election New sanctions on political figures, oligarchs, and family members and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Vladimir Putin Sanction on transactions related to investment in energy projects supported by Russia state-owned or parastatal entities A prohibition on and sanctions with respect to transactions relating to new sovereign debt of the Russian Federation Sectoral sanctions on any person in the Russian Federation that has the capacity or ability to support or facilitate malicious cyber activities A requirement for the Secretary of State to submit a determination of whether the Russian Federation meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. A prohibition on licenses for United States persons to engage in activities relating to certain projects to produce oil in the Russian Federation A requirement for domestic title insurance companies to report information on the beneficial owners of entities that purchase residential real estate in high-value transactions An extension on the cap of Russian uranium imports Reinforcement for the State Department Office of Sanctions Coordination A report on the net worth and assets of Vladimir Putin The creation of a National Fusion Center to Respond to Hybrid Threats. The aim of this center is to better prepare and respond to Russian disinformation and other emerging threats emanating from the Russian Federation. A reauthorization of the Countering Russia Influence Fund ### Permalink:

U.S. Senators Blast Russia, Prepare ‘Crushing’ Measures Against ‘Kremlin Aggression’

An influential bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced a package of measures designed to protect “American security from Kremlin aggression,” including new financial sanctions and a “strong statement of support” for NATO.

U.S. senators introduce Russia sanctions ‘bill from hell’ | Reuters

Republican and Democratic U.S. senators introduced legislation on Thursday to impose stiff new sanctions on Russia and combat cyber crime, the latest effort by lawmakers to punish Moscow over interference in U.S. elections and its activities in Syria and Ukraine.

Senators introduce bill to slap ‘crushing’ new sanctions on Russia | TheHill

A bipartisan group of senators is introducing legislation to impose “crushing” new financial penalties on Russia.

The Real Russia. Today. Moscow manages the fallout of three killed reporters in Africa, and Russia’s federal censor cracks down on a 14-year-old letter from a terrorist — Meduza

Responding to the murder of three Russian journalists in the Central African Republic earlier this week, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova expressed doubt on Wednesday that the reporters were actually investigating a Russian mercenary group. In a Facebook post, Zakharova wrote that reporter Orkhan Dzhemal, director Alexander Rastorguyev, and cameraman Kirill Radchenko weren’t “headed in the direction where [Russian military] instructors are working.” She described the film crew’s purpose in the country as “an open question.”

UAWire – Russian media refuses to mention that journalist killed in Central Africa were shooting documentary on the Wagner Group

Russian media hide the fact that the journalists murdered in the Central African Republic (CAR) were shooting a joint film for Mikhail …

Gold for “Putin’s Chef”: Media reveal why Russian mercenaries come to CAR | UNIAN

Russian companies are actively looking for the opportunity to develop mineral deposits in the Central African Republic. At the same time, the Segodnya newspaper with reference to a Ukrainian military expert Oleksandr Kovalenko wrote that the killing of three Russian journalists in CAR could be a result of an ongoing fight between Russian top officials for control over private military companies, and hence significant cash flows.

UAWire – Central African media: Russian journalists were detained, questioned and killed by local militia

Media outlets of the Central African Republic (CAR) sounded a new version of the death of three Russians who, according to the Investigations …

3 Russian Journalists Killed While Probing Reports Of Mercenaries In Africa : NPR

Their vehicle was ambushed in the Central African Republic on Monday. They were hoping to shed light on reports of a private Russian military company fighting in the country.

UN Mission Joins Probe Of Russian Journalists’ Deaths In CAR

A United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) is helping national authorities investigate the killing of three Russian journalists who were there to film a documentary…

3 Russian journalists killed in Central African Republic while investigating mercenary group – ABC News

They were making a documentary in partnership with a Russian news organization.

Russia shocked by mysterious murder of three journalists in CAR – BBC News

Many questions remain unanswered about the murder of three men shot dead in Central African Republic.

Three Russian Journalists Have Been Killed In The Central African Republic | TIME – YouTube

TIME Published on Aug 1, 2018 Three Russian journalists were investigating a private security company’s alleged connections to the Kremlin when their car was reportedly ambushed by unidentified attackers. Their bodies were found in the town of Sibut, miles from CAR’s capital.

Russian reporters killed in Central African Republic had investigation with Vladimir Putin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky – CBS News

Journalists killed in Central African Republic were working on probe into Russian military contractors, mining projects

What Are Russian Military Contractors Doing In The Central African Republic?

The three Russian journalists killed this week in the Central African Republic were investigating the shadowy Vagner paramilitary group, which has reportedly been operating in the country.

UAWire – Russian journalists killed in the Central African Republic planned to film gold mines

The Russian journalists who died in Central African Republic (CAR), on the day of the assassination were attempting to arrange the filming of …

UAWire – Central African media: riots started after Russian mercenaries kill local resident

Russian mercenaries killed an inhabitant of the Central African city of Damara, local news outlet Corbeau News Centrafrique reports. The news …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s ‘Long Game’ Consists of a Multitude of Special Ops, Shtepa Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 1 – Vladimir Putin is almost universally described as a brilliant political tactician, but if the West is to counter him effectively, it must recognize that he has a strategic vision of the world, one that constitutes “a long game” he expects Russia to win even if it takes losses in the short term. Vadim Shtepa, the editor of the After Empire portal, argues that it is critically important to understand Putin’s vision, a vision he laid out in his interview with Vladimir Solovyev when he said “our opponents sometimes achieve their goals at a tactical level, but I think in the long run we will win” ( Putin’s long game is “an attempt at a global response to the West for the defeat in the former Cold War which led to the disintegration of the Soviet empire. But it is directed not simply at the rebirth of the former USSR but is being conducted on the territory of the West itself by the newest offensive means of ‘hybrid war.’” Given his KGB background, Shtepa continues, “Putin views world politics not as a system of international agreements but only as a dividing up of ‘spheres of influence’ and ‘special operations’ of various degrees of force.” Thus he saw the Ukrainian Maidan in 2014 not as a popular uprising against a corrupt regime but as the work of shadowy special services. And the Kremlin leader responded with his Anschluss of Crimea and the unleashing of war in the Donbass. All agreements Russia had signed about respecting Ukraine’s borders “for him did not have the slightest significance.” Putin of course recognizes that he is not in a position to defeat the West by a direct attack, the regionalist says. And “therefore, his ‘long game’ is a series of a multitude of ‘special ops,” ranging from direct military intervention as in Ukraine, Georgia and Syria, to propaganda penetration as in Europe and the United States. More than his Soviet predecessors and more than any current Western leader, Putin views propaganda as a major tool to achieve his ends; and those require that it “play on the contradictions within the present-day West,” rather than simply offering an alternative Russian narrative, and thus spreading doubt in the West about democratic values. “Putin’s ‘long game,’” Shtepa concludes, suggests that for the Kremlin leader, there is no possibility that the political situation in Russia will change anytime soon. But “history all the same teaches another lesson: when this or that ruler of an empire begins to be confident in his own ‘eternal’ rule, this empire soon will fall apart yet again.”

To protect the Northern Sea Route, Russia gives rebirth to missile-armed ekranoplans | The Independent Barents Observer

Flying just a few feet above the surface, the wing-in-ground-effect craft could patrol huge areas where infrastructure is weakly developed.

TASS: Military & Defense – Russia to develop wing-in-ground-effect craft armed with missiles by 2027

It will be used to protect the Northern Sea Route where infrastructure is weakly protected

UAWire – Kremlin claims Russia has become the world leader in the number of tanks

Russia topped the world ranking in terms of the number of modern armored and motor vehicles used for troops, as well as rocket and artillery …

Is a New Russian Black Sea Fleet Coming? Or Is It Here?

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of a new series in collaboration with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, “Black Sea’s Back.”  Last

Novichok cops cordon off pub after quizzing Salisbury poison victim as two bins sent off for tests

Counter-terrorism officers today blocked off The Cloisters Pub, which is just a five minute walk from the park Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess are believed to have picked up the deadly nerve agent

Novichok inquiry: police remove two bins from city centre | UK news | The Guardian

Survivor Charlie Rowley said he may have taken bottle from bins behind pub in Salisbury

New cordons in Salisbury as nerve agent investigation continues | Salisbury Journal

CORDONS set up outside the back of The Cloisters Pub near Brown Street Car Park have now been removed.

Novichok news: Police remove bins after speaking to Charlie Rowley | Daily Star

POLICE investigating the Salisbury Novichok poisoning have removed two bins from behind a cordoned off shop after speaking to nerve agent vicim Charlie Rowley.

Bins in Salisbury to be tested following novichok poisonings

Police say the bins, taken from a cordoned-off area behind shops, are to be taken to the Porton Down laboratory for analysis.

Wiltshire air ambulance grounded by tests for novichok | UK news | The Guardian

Precautions taken at Semington air ambulance base after poisoning of Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley

English police test air ambulance, clothes in Novichok probe – ABC News

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

Ambulances used in Amesbury novichok response to be tested

Authorities say the risk to the public is low and that tests are being carried out as a “precautionary measure”.

Wiltshire air ambulance grounded amid fears helicopter contaminated with Novichok

Wiltshire’s air ambulance has been grounded amid fears the deadly nerve agent Novichok has contaminated its helicopter.

Novichok poisoning: Detectives to test ambulances used in Amesbury incident | UK | News |

THE emergency vehicles used to treat Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess after they were poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent in Amesbury will undergo precautionary testing.

Salisbury investigation: Police cordon off pub after speaking to Novichok victim Charlie Rowley – Mirror Online

Police have been questioning Charlie Rowley about what he remembers before he and Dawn Sturgess fell gravely ill

Wiltshire’s Air Ambulance grounded as base is tested for Novichok | Daily Mail Online

The helicopter has been grounded as a precautionary measure as chemical warfare experts try to determine whether any of the killer Novichok could have made its way into the aircraft.

An Arab NATO Would Be Two NATOs Too Many | The American Conservative


Saudis Escalate Siege of Port in Yemen, Alarming Aid Groups – The New York Times

Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition on Al Hudaydah, occupied by Houthi rebels, killed at least 30 people, medical workers said.

‘It was a massacre’: Dozens killed in Saudi air raids on Hodeidah | News | Al Jazeera

The attacks, which hit near the city’s main public hospital, killed at least 55 and wounded 124, Houthi rebels say.

UAWire – Syria claims it shot down Israeli drone over Damascus

The national news agency SANA reported that Syrian armed forces spotted two hostile air targets just west of the country’s capital of Damascus …

U.S. Hits Turkey With Sanctions Over Jailed Pastor – Foreign Policy

The measure will further sour ties between two NATO allies.

Turkey accuses Trump of jeopardizing long-standing ties | Fox News

A Turkish minister has defiantly mocked U.S. sanctions against him, saying his only asset in the United States is a U.S.-based Muslim cleric whom Turkey blames for a failed coup and wants extradited.

REVENGE: Turkey’s Erdoğan told ‘SEIZE Trump Towers Istanbul’ in response to US sanctions | World | News |

DEMANDS have been made for Turkey’s President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, to “seize Trump Towers Istanbul” in response to US sanctions on officials from the country, as relations between the two nations continue to spiral downwards.

Pompeo meets Turkish FM Cavusoglu to seek pastor’s release | Turkey News | Al Jazeera

US Secretary of State defends Turkey sanctions while Ankara says threats and sanctions won’t work.

Pompeo presses Turkey on release of pastor, North Korea on keeping denuke promise | Fox News

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday pushed Turkey to release a detained American pastor whose case prompted the Trump administration to slap sanctions on senior Turkish officials, and said North Korea is still lagging behind on its promise to denuclearize.

Russia Says UN Peacekeepers Have Returned To Israeli-Syrian Border

UN peacekeepers have returned for the first time in years to the frontier between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and are conducting joint patrols there with Russian military police, t…