Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (123)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The repetitious tirade of Russia/Iran/Turkey threaten/bluster/bluff as economy/currency/stocks nosedive/crash/tank beggars belief – much of what is emanating from all three regimes sounds more like wishful thinking and delusion than anything else. Russia’s invective against the US seems to be focussed on currency, and curiously Ankara and Iran are chiming in. Dr Shevtsova spells out what all knowledgable analysts flagged in 2014 – Russia was embarking on a path that could only lead down the abyss – but this more than anything else reflects Putin’s need for foreign enemies to produce a state of perpetual crisis and siege inside Russia, where legions of foreign enemies and their many cohorts of evil Russian supporters need to be defended against. Notably, the same could be said for Tehran, and most recently the Erdogan regime usurping power in Turkey – foreign enemies are such a wonderful distraction from domestic incompetence and corruption. Pastukhov reiterates another observation made by a number of Russia analysts in 2016, that Putin’s agenda from the outset was fundamentally hostile toward Trump.

Salisbury update.

Much on Iran and Syria, but much more on Turkey and the troubles the Erdogan regime has created for itself and others. After doing what he could to damage NATO, Erdogan now invokes NATO solidarity as a reason to ignore his transgressions! This is exceptionalism worthy of the Vozhd.

Kenneth Rapoza | Senate’s ‘Kremlin Crusher’ Means Get Out Of Russia Now

Senate bill wants to squash Russian banks, threatening economy. No need to invest in Russia now.

Washington’s new Russia sanctions: Why we shouldn’t expect shifts in Putin’s policy | UNIAN

Despite the U.S. announcing new sanctions scheduled to be imposed against Russia in August, a rubble collapsing and the stock market falling sharply, one should not rely heavily on the effect of American sanctions against Russia, hoping that they will change the Kremlin’s policy. The sanctions policy of the West against Russia has been enforced for four years already but there are no special changes in Moscow’s behavior.

Will Russia Hit Back at New U.S. Sanctions? Putin Considering His Options

The U.S. is expected to slap Moscow with new sanctions on electronics, but President Vladimir Putin has yet to announce how he may return fire.

Kremlin says nothing good will come from proposed new U.S. sanctions | Reuters

The Kremlin said on Tuesday that a new U.S. bill on sanctions against Moscow does not bode well for Russia’s relations with the United States.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow has Made ‘Unforgivable Mistake’ of Setting West against Russia for the Long Term, Shevtsova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 15 – The Russian regime has made “the unforgivable mistake” of acting against the West in ways that have made Russia a key part of the domestic politics of the US and European countries and guaranteed that the West will continue its sanctions regime against Moscow for a long time to come whatever Moscow does, Liliya Shevtsova says. It isn’t that Moscow has made one or two mistakes, the Russian political analyst says. From those it might recover. Rather, it has adopted a policy that has driven Russia into a dead end out of which it is far from clear that it will be able to escape and that has alienated even those like Greece with whom it has long been close ( “Today,” Shevtsova continues, “Russia stands before the threat of a sanctions blockade which will be harsher than the earlier ones.” Moscow will adapt, of course, with the regime placing the burden on the population. And even these sanctions won’t destroy the Russian economy or lead to the overthrow of Putin. The Kremlin will present that as a victory, but what has in fact happened is anything but, Shevtsova says. What has occurred, she says, is “the formation of a mechanism which will force the Russian ruling class to play for its conviction that it can do whatever it wants not only at home but also abroad.” This mechanism “creates for Russia a new geopolitical situation,” one in which its ability to act abroad will be reduced and in which it will lose its access to the financial and technological resources of the West on which it has been relying. And together that promises a less than glorious future for Russia. According to Shevtsova, “the Russian authorities have committed an unforgiveable error by deciding that they can grab America by the tail and forever make use of its patience. Having angered America, the Kremlin has not simply transformed Russia into a factor of American political struggle.” It has done something far more serious. “The American have done what the Russian authorities have done at home with regard to America: an anti-Russian position has become the criterion of American patriotism and almost a national idea.” Moreover, Moscow’s actions have given the US which was tiring of its role as “the global sheriff” “a shot of adrenalin.” The chief designer of this disaster, of course, is the Kremlin itself, Shevtsova continues. But it had help including from the Russian political class that has constantly complained about the demeaning attitude of the West, Moscow experts who argue “the era of the West has ended,” Western leaders who tell Putin “what he wants to hear,” and Western intellectuals who say Russia has been offended and thus “has the right to break the windows of others.” One can add to that the previous Western system of regulating property and financial flows, a system that Russians have been able to exploit to the point that “our ruling class feels itself beyond the reach of any punishment and is certain that the West will swallow all of its works.” All this has encouraged the Kremlin that its various “gambits” will work, but increasingly it is obvious that they won’t. No one should forget “the paradox” displayed by Moscow’s approach to US President Donald Trump who created the illusion of the possibility of a deal between America and Russia” but who, because of Moscow’s actions, isn’t going to make one. That is because, as the Kremlin should have known in advance, “the more Trump wants to make friends with us,” the more the American system will impose sanctions to punish him and Russia for any such effort. And even when Trump leaves, this won’t change immediately. “Whatever we do,” Shevtsova says, “will be bad. If we try to make friends with America, the Americans will suspect us of evil intentions,” especially given that “Russia will not say ‘mea culpa’” for any of the crimes it has committed. At same time, “if we try to respond to America – and one must ask whether we can – the situation will become still worse because Russia cannot oppose the most developed and wealthiest situation.” All that should have been obvious to the Kremlin and led it to adopt different policies; but it wasn’t and what Russia must now lie in the bed it has made for itself.

Russian foreign ministry: Poisoning accusations ‘groundless’ | TheHill

The Russian foreign ministry on Monday called accusations of the Kremlin’s involvement in the use of a nerve agent against a former Russian spy “groundless.”

Russia’s chemical disarmament confirmed by OPCW, while US has ‘problems’ in the area – Lavrov — RT World News

Russian chemical disarmament has been confirmed by the OPCW, while the US asked to postpone the process till early 2020s, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said commenting on the new round of American sanctions over the Skripal case.

Are Russia And China Trying To Kill The Dollar?

Russia says that the U.S. Dollar won’t be the international reserve currency much longer

Lavrov Says Dollar’s Days Are Numbered as Global Trade Currency

The U.S. dollar’s role as a global currency is in decline and Russia has been exploring for some time using national currencies to settle bilateral trade deals with Turkey and other countries, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. But Lavrov, speaking on a visit to the Turkish capital on Tuesday, did not make any commitments for Russia to drop the dollar in trade with Turkey, whose lira currency plummeted to a record low against the dollar this week. “I’m confident that the grave abuse of the role of the U.S. dollar as a global reserve currency will result over time in the weakening and demise of its role,” said Lavrov, who was speaking at a news conference with his Turkish counterpart.

Amid U.S.-Turkey crisis: Russia says dollar’s days numbered as global trade currency – Europe –

Russia’s FM though did not make any commitments for Russia to drop the dollar in trade with Turkey, whose lira currency has plummeted

Lavrov: Excessive Use of Dollar Can Make Others Trade in National Currencies – Sputnik International

The Russian foreign minister is on a working trip to Turkey, during which he will hold a bilateral meeting in Ankara on Tuesday with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu to discuss burning international issues.

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Lavrov warns abuse of dollar’s role as global reserve currency will weaken its positions

Lavrov stressed that the US sanctions are illegal

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Lavrov accuses US of attempts to impede Astana process for Syria

Moscow sees intentions of the US and the West in general to impede the Astana process, says teh Russian top diplomat

Don’t expect Russia to admit to election interference, Rand Paul says, lamenting ‘partisan hysteria’ – The Washington Post

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) held private meetings with Russian officials during his recent trip to Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Russia’s Economy is Falling Woefully Behind (Op-Ed)

Government policy in recent years has created an economy increasingly out of step with global trends.

Businesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill | TheHill

New Russia sanctions proposed in the Senate could pose severe challenges for financial and energy companies in the U.S. and Europe.

U.S. warns on Russia’s new space weapons | Reuters

The United States voiced deep suspicion on Tuesday over Russia’s pursuit of new space weapons, including a mobile laser system to destroy satellites in space, and the launch of a new inspector satellite which was acting in an “abnormal” way.

Here’s how Russia will try to interfere in the 2018 elections | Fox News

Moscow might be more restrained this year, but it could be wilier.

Russian Officials Denounce U.S. Move To Suspend Funding For Treaty

The U.S. Congress and President Donald Trump have moved to block funding for an international military surveillance treaty, prompting a sharp reaction from Russian officials.

Russia Fully Complies With Treaty on Open Skies – Lawmaker – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia fully complies with the Treaty on Open Skies, the US accusations are completely groundless, Yevgeny Serebrennikov, the deputy chair of the Russian upper house’s defense and security committee, told Sputnik.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: In Backing Trump, Putin from the Outset May have Planned to Betray Him, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 14 – Vladimir Putin initially backed Donald Trump because the Kremlin leader assumed he would have a better chance of getting a deal with him than with Hillary Clinton or at least could count on Trump’s style to further disorder and distract the United States, Vladimir Pastukhov says. But even at that time, the London-based Russian historian says, Putin didn’t put all his eggs in one basket and was prepared to betray Trump in order to win time for himself by spreading chaos in Washington and making it more difficult for the US to act internationally ( The Helsinki Summit provided clear evidence, Pastukhov suggests, that Putin has both “Plan A” and “Plan B” in his pocket and so while he continues to seek agreement with Trump may at some point turn on the American president and take steps that would make it more likely that Trump would face impeachment, the ultimate distraction and disordering development. “At Helsinki,” the Russian historian says, “only one problem was resolve: the leaders of Russia and the US ‘won back’ their right to have personal meetings,” something that cleared the road “to ‘a big deal’ but the game itself has still not begun.” There, the two men showed both important similarities and equally important differences. The two leaders are united in their hostility to Europe, “albeit not so much in a geopolitical as in a metaphysical sense … Each doesn’t like Europe in his own way. Putin despises Europe as a barbarian despised Rome. Trump hates Europe ‘opportunistically,’ as a heretic does his former church.” But from this, of course, “it hardly follows that they really love one another.” Each of them is “seeking to establish in the entire world but above all in Europe a new order which in actual fact turns out to be a very old order, in which the national everywhere dominates over the all-human.” The problem, of course, is that “in this brave old world there cannot be two leaders.” Each will strive for supremacy, Pastukhov says; and consequently, “what divides Putin and Trump is greater than what unites them.” According to the Russian historian, “Trump overrated the importance of his business experience and tried to apply it to politics too directly.” Moreover, he arrived at his meeting with Putin “poorly prepared,” approaching it as a realtor might with someone who wanted to buy rather than with a raider who wanted to take. “What worked well with Kim Jong-un works poorly with Putin,” Pastukhov continues. And it is clear that “Trump does not yet understand that in Putin” he is dealing with someone with two plans, one public that seeks a deal and a second less public but quite obvious more important that seeks the weakening of the United States. The chances for a deal are far less likely than many imagine because of the domestic situation in the two countries. Trump can’t afford to appear too deferential to Putin, and in any case, He would find it “easier to convince his voters to recognize Crimea as Russian that Putin would to convince his that the Donbass is Ukrainian.” “With ‘the Russian Spring,’ Putin awoke forces and expectations which he cannot entirely and completely. He is still not yet Stalin who might allow himself something like the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact,” the historian continues. Putin recognizes that there is thus not likely to be a deal, although Trump still doesn’t. According to Pastukhov, “Plan B consists in keeping Trump and through him America is as suspended a position as possible, disorganizing and weakening it and thus depriving it of chances” to put pressure on Russia. That will allow Putin to win the time he believes he needs; and it is a plan that from his point of view makes good sense. “One should not overrate the importance of Trump for Moscow,” the historian argues. “Putin doesn’t believe anyone.” His “hidden” goal is to “inflict as much harm as possible on America,” supporting Trump as during the election when the American politician looks the better choice but possibly turning on him as the Mueller investigation proceeds. It might seem, Pastukhov suggests, that the Kremlin would gain the most by having “’its president’” in office in Washington. But if Trump finds himself in more difficulty and if the Kremlin can leak things that add to his problems, Putin may change course “by creating unbearable conditions” to Trump and thus weakening him and the US further. The Russian historian discusses the shadowy case of someone who received money from Russia and made contact with all kinds of political figures in the US as something the Kremlin could use to that end, especially if there are more examples of similar Russian actions that are not yet known in the US. “Moscow today has more effective levers of influence on domestic politics in the US than destroying voting machines,” Pastukhov says. It can spread stories which will make it more difficult for Trump to focus on anything but his own political survival and that works for Putin and his plans. There won’t be a deal but the US will be weakened. “It is not excluded,” the historian suggests, that this possibility was on Putin’s mind two years ago. And if that is the case, the Kremlin backed Trump during the election not in order to get a deal with him but because he could be used one way or another to achieve the Kremlin’s larger goals. All this means, Pastukhov suggests, that instead of the big deal many have expected, there are going to be “several years of turbulence when love and hatred will alternate” in this relationship, thus creating “a strange competition in sophisticated betrayal.” In that competition, Putin has “not bad chances for success.” But because of the relative positions of the two countries, “this success hardly will mean a victory,” however much some hope and others fear.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Many in the FSB Despise Putin as Much or Even More than Opposition Groups Do, Shipilov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 14 – The upper reaches of the FSB are completely loyal to Vladimir Putin, but those lower down in the table of ranks, the analysts, linguists and administrative workers, a group that forms a majority of its employees, despise the Kremlin leader as much as or even more than opposition groups do, according to Andrey Shipilov. These officials, whom the Moscow journalist calls “FSB plankton, an analogue to office plankton,” are paid well and have better medical care than the population at large, “but on the whole they have the same standard of living” as other ordinary Russians do ( Recently, Shepilov says, he has had the opportunity to speak with representatives of the FSB plankton, and those talks lead him to conclude that the level of hatred to Putin and the current Russian regime among such people is something “you will not find in any ‘opposition milieu.’” “Unlike the majority of the population,” he continues, “they are more informed about the essential features of the processes which are taking place in the country and really understand what is occurring and how this may become a threat in the final analysis … No one has to convince them that Putin and his friends are stealing from the budget” and so on. Of course, these people are not angels and one can hardly feel sympathy for them. Many in fact simply want to become like their bosses and be in a position to steal from everyone for themselves. But at a time when the regime has shut down most opposition groups, these employees of the FSB constitute a remarkable resource for change. “I don’t know what this plankton will do with the country if it comes to power. Perhaps, it will build a great and really free Russia … Perhaps it will divide it up among themselves … Perhaps it will drown it in a system that will make Orwell’s description seem a paradise … And perhaps after a short thaw, everything will return to the same place as if nothing had happened.” Shepilov continues: “I don’t know how everything will end after this regime will be destroyed, but on the other hand, I are certain that this regime will be overthrown not by protest meeting and not by professional fighters against the regime – or by us jedai warriors who have settled abroad.” What is possible is that this regime may blow up from the inside. And one possible bomb that could go off leading to that end are the FSB plankton, the very people Putin probably thinks remain completely reliable.

Wiltshire Air Ambulance not contaminated after Novichok poisoning | West Country – ITV News

Read the latest West Country stories, Wiltshire Air Ambulance not contaminated after Novichok poisoning on ITV News, videos, stories and all the latest West Country news

Air ambulance cleared to fly after Novichok checks | Swindon Advertiser

Wiltshire’s Air Ambulance will be back in operation today after being given a clean bill of health after being checked for Novichock contamination.

America is turning up the pressure on Iran – and we want global Britain to stand with us

In recent days, we have seen a fresh wave of protests break out across Iran &ndash; from the capital Tehran, to other major cities like Isfahan in central Iran, Mashhad in the north east, and Shiraz in the south.

Iran deal: Britain should side with Trump, Woody Johnson says – CNN

The United States ambassador to the UK has called on Britain to side with President Donald Trump on Iran or risk “serious trade consequences” for UK businesses.

Trump’s Ambassador Threatens U.K. With ‘Serious Consequences’ if Iran Trade Continues

United States Ambassador Robert “Woody” Johnson called on British leaders to join the U.S. in “turning up the pressure” on Iran, or face “serious consequences.” Washington recently reimposed sanctions on Iran despite opposition from allies.

Tehran Tries To Face Down Domestic Critics Of Caspian Sea Deal

Caspian Sea convention signed by Azerbaijan, Iran Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan on August 12 hailed as a breakthrough by some, but some analysts doubt whether it will lead to any increase in oil exploration and domestic critics say Tehran is ceding territory too easily.

Hizballah Leader Claims Iran-Backed Forces Strong Despite U.S. Sanctions

The leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hizballah militia claims his group is stronger than ever despite U.S. sanctions and expects to “very soon” celebrate victory in the long war in Syria, where its …

Iran news: Iranians vent anger at OWN leaders despite crippling US sanctions | World | News |

IRANIAN protestors have vented their fury at their own leaders amid escalating inflation, high unemployment, and the plummeting rial, turning their blame away from US President Donald Trump as Washington’s sanctions begin to bite.

German carmaker defeating EU solidarity over Trump’s Iran sanctions | World | News |

GERMAN carmaker Daimler has shelved business plans in Iran despite the European Union’s best efforts to counter Donald Trump’s decision to reimpose sanctions on Tehran.

German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier lashes out at Trump tariffs, sanctions

Germany’s economy minister criticized President Donald Trump’s import tariffs and sanction policies and says Europe will not bow to pressures on Iran.

Trump’s Iran Sanctions Are Backfiring in Iraq – POLITICO Magazine

The U.S. crackdown on Tehran is putting Iraqi politicians in an awkward spot.

U.S. sanctions on Iran hit ordinary Iraqis – The Washington Post

The Iraqi financial distress is a stark example of how the rivalry between Tehran and Washington can rebound on Iraq.

UAWire – Russian military repel another drone attack on Khmeimim Air Base in Syria

The Russian military shot down five drones approaching the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on its …

Russia Says ISIS ‘Defeated’ in Syria and Reveals Next Main Target

Far from making a comeback, Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate awaits a devastating government offensive on the country’s last rebel-held region.

Russia’s Lavrov suggests offensive on Syria’s Idlib close | Middle East Eye

Russian foreign minister says Syria has a right to defend itself against militant groups in last rebel-held province

Russian Military Says Helping Restore UN Patrols On Syrian-Israeli Border

The Russian military says that its forces in Syria have made plans to help UN peacekeepers fully restore patrols along the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

UAWire – Media: Russia warned Turkey about military coup

It was Russia that gave Turkish national intelligence information on the military coup being planned in the country, Iranian news outlet Fars reports, citing unidentified Arabic media. The information concerned Turkish President Recep Erdogan directly. Several helicopters were reportedly heading for a hotel in the Marmaris resort where the president was located at the time. Erdogan left the hotel 44 minutes before they arrived. According to unidentified Turkish diplomats, the Russian army in the region intercepted radio messages which implied that the Turkish army was planning a coup d’état. The sources claim that the reconnaissance division of the Russian army deployed at the Syrian Khmeimim air base was in possession of modern information interception systems. The warning was received several hours before the coup began on July 15. The information provided by the National Intelligence Organization on 15 July 2016 at roughly 16:00 was evaluated at the headquarters of the General Staff of the Turkish army. In order to prevent the coup, high-ranking Turkish military officers ordered all air and ground troops throughout the country to immediately cease all operations, including the use of military transport – tanks, plans and helicopters. The coup organizers initiated their operation six hours earlier than originally scheduled, indicating that they may have understood that their plans had been exposed, but still decided to act.

TASS: World – Turkey never supported anti-Russian sanctions — top diplomat

Ankara will never support anti-Iranian sanctions, says the Turkish top diplomat

Turkey urges US to be ‘faithful’ NATO ally

Ankara open to diplomacy and consensus but will not accept any imposition, says Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu – Anadolu Agency

Turkey urges US to ‘stay loyal to Nato alliance’ as currency crisis deepens –

Turkey’s foreign minister has called on the US to

Turkish Foreign Minister: We can’t accept US sanctions against Iran

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu is speaking at a joint conference with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov with key quotes found below.

US sanctions hurting its own reputation, Turkish FM says after meeting Russia’s Lavrov

Sanctions imposed by the United States on Turkey are shattering the U.S.’ reputation, warned Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on Aug. 14.

US sanctions hurting its own reputation: Turkish FM

If US wants to continue as reputable country, it cannot do so with these impositions, says Foreign Minister Cavusoglu – Anadolu Agency

‘Chaos’ in US administration’s management of foreign affairs, FM Çavuşoğlu says – Daily Sabah

The United States has chaos in its administration’s management of foreign affairs, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Tuesday. There is confusion…

Turkish Foreign Minister: Sanctions and threats against Turkey won’t ease political tensions

Speaking at a joint conference with his Russian counterpart, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu says that sanctions and threats against Turkey

Russia backs non-dollar trade with Turkey, no promise of help amid lira crisis | Reuters

Russia backs using national currencies, not the U.S. dollar, in its trade with Turkey, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday, but he made no firm commitments that would immediately help Ankara to weather its currency crisis.

Turkey hopes to find solution on Syria’s Idlib with Russia | Reuters

Turkey’s foreign minister said on Tuesday he hoped his country and Russia could find a solution over the northern Syrian region of Idlib, a rebel-held enclave which the Syrian government says it aims to recapture.

The West cannot afford losing Turkey to Russia and Iran – CNN

As relations between the US and Turkey sour and the Turkish lira crumbles, Turkey may begin leaning more heavily towards Iran and Russia and away from the West.

Turkish court rejects US pastor’s appeal, upper court yet to rule

One Turkish court has rejected an American Christian pastor’s appeal to be released from house arrest and for his travel ban to be lifted, but an upper court is yet to rule on the appeal, his lawyer told Reuters on Wednesday.

US-Turkish relations spiraling amid tit-for-tat penalties over detained pastor – ABC News

The US and Turkey are trading penalties linked to a pastor’s detention.

Why Turkey’s Lira Crisis Matters Outside Turkey – The New York Times

In past decades, plunges in emerging-market currencies have ignited broader crises. Turkey’s lira is crashing, and that has financial markets on edge.

Sinking Turkish Lira, Indian Rupee Fuel Fears of Contagion – WSJ

Sharp declines in the Turkish lira, Indian rupee and other currencies have raised the prospect of a self-reinforcing flight from riskier emerging markets.

What Was In Space Force Report, What Wasn’t, And What It Means | Defense content from Aviation Week

There are many unanswered questions in the Pentagon about the White House’s push to create a sixth branch of the U.S. armed forces.

US suspends F-35 sales to Turkey. Now what?

NDAA SIGNED INTO LAW: With a Humvee and an attack helicopter as a backdrop, President Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act on Monday at Fort Drum, N.Y., and delivered the massive policy bill into law at the earliest point in decades. “With this new authorization, we will increase the size and strength of our military by adding thousands of new recruits to active duty, Reserve and National Guard units, including 4,000 new active-duty soldiers. And we will replace aging tanks, aging planes and ships with the most advanced and lethal technology ever developed. And hopefully, we’ll be so strong, we’ll never have to use it, but if we ever did, nobody has a chance,” Trump said to the audience of 10th Mountain Division troops, Pentagon officials and Capitol Hill lawmakers.

Trump Blocks Fighter Jet Transfer Amid Deepening U.S.-Turkey Rift – Foreign Policy

The decision is a blow to Ankara but could also complicate matters for Washington.