Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (146)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

The biggest problem with Russian propaganda appears to be a world-class ability to not only shoot themselves in the foot but to make themselves look foolish by not giving their scripts, stories, and articles proper editing. The Soviets were much slower but at least they devoted more than two brain cells to each article. Perhaps today’s Russians are receiving participation trophies for their efforts because, DAMN, they suck at what they’re doing. The new term for quality is now quantity in Russia, it looks like. Churn out 20 stories and see which ones stick…

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Pondering the scale of Russia’s multiple propaganda FUBARs this week, I recalled the urban slang colloquialism “epic fail” – this week Russia experienced multiple self-inflicted propaganda failures, every time as a result of overindulgence in Dugin’s  “Russian Truth”. The interview with the two Salisbury GRUshniks has become the target of large-scale media and public ridicule not only in the West but in Russia as well it seems. Evidently, numbers of the zombified in the West and Russia are declining. But the GRUshnik interview on RT was but one of several fails Russia experienced this week:

  • The Dutch detained and expelled two Russian operators preparing to hack the Swiss lab testing Salisbury samples.
  • Bellingcat published the teaser for a more extensive analysis of the GRUshniks’ passport records that are full of loose ends showing they are indeed GRUshniks.
  • In Donbass, the Russians are resorting to blaming Western intelligence for their liquidation of the no longer convenient frozen chicken salesman, Zakharchenko.
  • The full story of MI6 source Col. Gordievsky of the KGB goes public.
  • And, at an AEI dinner, former UK SECSTATE Johnson made some candid observations on Russia, well worth repeating: “When I became foreign secretary I thought there was no objective reason why we should be quite so hostile to Russia.”“Yes there were lots of reasons to be suspicious, lots of reasons to be wary.”“But I thought it was possible — I made the classic, classic mistake of thinking it was possible to have a ‘reset’ with Russia.” “I wanted to engage with Putin and Sergey Lavrov to see if there were areas where we needed to engage. Then it just became clearer and clearer to me that that was a fool’s errand.”“And finally on March 4 this year we had this outrageous event in Salisbury, Wiltshire, when two agents of the GRU were involved in the murder of Dawn Sturgess and attempted murder of others.”“And you see what’s happening now with these two characters produced in this satirical way by Putin on Russian TV, asked these ludicrously patsy questions, making a mockery of the whole thing. And it really makes my blood boil.”“ I’ll say it now — those two guys on Russian TV are murderers. And if they dispute that fact, they can sue me in the courts.”

Advice? A Choke on Coffee Warning applies to all preceding materials as listed below.

In Syria, reports suggest the Syrian offensive into Idlib may be on hold, this is being variously credited to the US or Turkey.

UAWire – Lavrov: Russia is ready to seek a way out of impasse in relations with the U.S.

Moscow is ready to do everything in its power to find a way out of the deadend in Russian-American relations, said Russian Foreign Minister …

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Kremlin slams London’s reaction to interview with Skripal case suspects as ‘absurd’

A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May on September 13 described an interview of Skripal case suspects with Russia’s RT channel as an ‘insult to the public’s intelligence’

Zakharova Slams Bellingcat Report Alleging Salisbury Suspects Had no ID Records – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Friday questioned the credibility of the report of UK investigative blogger group Bellingcat on alleged passport data of Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who are suspected by London in the Skripal case.

TASS: Press Review – Press review: Who are the Skripal saga ‘suspects’ and Russia-US energy talks just a facade

Top stories in the Russian press on Friday, September 14

Sergei Skripal: Kremlin Rejects Britain’s Attempts to Grill Poisoning Suspects – The Daily Beast

Russia won’t help U.K. police with their investigation.

UK Wants Skripal Hysteria to Soften Public Before Attacks in Syria – Scholar – Sputnik International

Two men suspected by London of poisoning ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury were interviewed by RT, and said they had visited Salisbury as tourists. Sputnik discussed the issue with Dr. George Szamuely, political analyst and author of “Bombs for Peace: NATO’s Humanitarian War on Yugoslavia”.

‘Interview With Petrov and Boshirov is a Genius Political Move’ – Journalist – Sputnik International

The UK Foreign Office said that it still considered Petrov and Boshirov agents affiliated with Russia’s military intelligence agency, despite everything they in an interview with Margarita Simonyan, Sputnik and RT editor-in-chief. The two suspects denied they had anything to do with the Skripal poisoning. Sputnik discussed the latest development in the Skripal’s case with Katie Hopkins, journalist and political commentator based in the UK. Sputnik: What is your take on the latest development in the Skripal’s case? Katie Hopkins: I think it’s an embarrassment for the UK government because from the outset they have been determined that this was an attack that was coordinated higher up in the Russian hierarchy. I think it was a brilliant decision by the Russians and by Vladimir Putin to call on the two gentlemen and say: “Have the interview, sit down, do the interview, talk about why you were there in Salisbury, tell the people your version of events.”

Katie Hopkins – Wikipedia

RT Implies Two Novichok Suspects Are Gay – To Inform is to Influence

This has got to be Russia’s biggest, loudest, and most public propaganda fail – ever. It was strongly suggested by RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan, who conducted the “grueling” interview, that the two suspects are gay. As a result, Russian media is going ballistic. I can’t say crazy because many people would say that there is no change, but that would be downright insulting to the few honest Russian media outlets. The suggestion is absurd that Petrov and Boshirov are gay, but all the prodding is at the expense of Russian propaganda and, especially, Margarita Simonyan. Margarita obviously did not think through the implications of her questions or statements. Margarita Simonyan, herself, is going on a steep slope downhill in her appearance, decidedly unkempt, sloughy, and unprofessional. Yes, sloughy implies the presence of necrotic tissue. RFE/RL loudly echoed the sentiments of the Russian media in its article, Novichok Suspects: Gay Or Not Gay? That Is Russian State Media’s Question. RFE/RL, however, maintained a high degree of professional and only reported what the Russian media is saying. Thank you for the laugh, Margarita. </end editorial>

Novichok Suspects: Gay Or Not Gay? That Is Russian State Media’s Question

Following their bizarre RT interview, two suspects in the Skripal poisonings in England are being cast by Russian state media as gay.

Novichok poisoning: Britain calls them nerve agent hit men. Russians ask whether they are gay. – The Washington Post

The Russian television presenter who interviewed them said they didn’t hit on her but that she’s past “hitting-on age.”

UK poisoning suspects’ ‘tourism’ claims raise eyebrows… even in Russia | The Times of Israel

Newspapers question why two men suspected in attack on spy Sergei Skripal were unable to provide satisfactory details about their work or private lives

Russians accused of Salisbury nerve agent attack have ‘disappeared’ and their mobile phones no longer work [Video]

Claims by Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov that they were in Salisbury as tourists have been greeted by a range of mocking responses on Twitter.

Russian Embassy blasted for posting sick joke tweet about Salisbury Novichok poisonings

Putin’s embassy in London made light of the outlandish claims by two Novichok assassins they went to admire Salisbury’s cathedral

‘Russian assassins’ are reviewing Salisbury Cathedral on TripAdvisor – and they gave it five stars – Mirror Online

Several spoof TripAdvisor reviews have cropped up on the Salisbury Cathedral page today

‘Sounds ridiculous’: Russians question Salisbury suspects’ story | UK news | The Guardian

Moscow residents say pairs’ reasons for visiting the English city seem strange

Putin couldn’t even fool his own people with ludicrous lies about Novichok ‘assassins’ trip to Britain

THE Russian public and press also appear to have not been convinced by the barefaced lies peddled by the suspected Salisbury assassins.

The Russian suspects who ‘visited Salisbury Cathedral’ are being mercilessly mocked on Twitter | indy100

The two men suspected of being assassins sent by the Kremlin to Salisbury became an Internet joke earlier this week after they claimed they were only in the city to visit its ‘magnificent’ cathedral.

Russia really wants to convince you the Salisbury spies are gay lovers · PinkNews

Russian propaganda outlets alluded to their sexuality.

ORDO blames western intelligence in facilitating murder of Zakharchenko –

ORDO claims that one of the suspects confessed in the murder of the head of Donetsk militants Oleksandr Zakharchenko. Denis Pushili, so-called “provisional of the head of DNR” claimed this, TASS reports this with a reference to “DAN” – the resource of the militants. ‘One man, suspected of the terrorist act on August 31 is detained. He told the score. Gave evidence,’ he noted. Yet, Pushilin added that it is assumed the murder of Zakharchenko was committed with the facilitation of the western intelligence. ‘As of now, our law enforcement bodies took investigative measures. We absolutely know who did it. The terrorist act was committed with the participation of the 5th Department of Counterintelligence of the Security Service of Ukraine,’ he said. However, during the investigation of the remnants of the explosive, the fact of usage of high-technologies was found, which Ukraine doesn’t have, Pushilin noted. In his opinion, this testifies to the participation of western special services in the preparation of the assassination.

Russia reportedly warned Mattis it could use nuclear weapons in Europe, and it made him see Moscow as an ‘existential threat’ to the US | Business Insider

At some point during the Trump administration, Russia told Defence Secretary Jim Mattis that it could use nuclear weapons in the event of a war in Europe – a warning that led Mattis to regard Moscow as major threat to the US.

Russian warships hold drills in Bering Sea in huge military exercise | Reuters

Russian warships held drills in the Bering Sea which separates Russia from Alaska, part of Moscow’s biggest military maneuvers since the fall of the Soviet Union, footage aired by the Ministry of Defence showed on Friday.

Russian warships hold drills in Bering Sea in huge military exercise – Business Insider

Russian warships carried out maneuvers in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia as part of Vostok-18, which Moscow has touted as its biggest war games…

Russian Activist Verzilov Reportedly Regains Consciousness, Moved From Intensive Care

Relatives of Pyotr Verzilov, a member of the Russian dissident art troupe Voina and an unofficial spokesman for the Pussy Riot protest group, say he has regained consciousness but remains in hospit…

Merkel accuses Russia of destabilizing post-Soviet countries – 15.09.2018 12:54 — Ukrinform News

Russia destabilizes the situation in many republics of the former USSR.

Merkel: ‘Will Not Consider’ Russia Sanctions Relief Until Progress In Eastern Ukraine

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says European Union sanctions on Moscow will remain in place until a sustainable cease-fire is achieved in Ukraine under the so-called Minsk accords.

How MI6 ended up briefing Gorbachev for 1984 summit | News | The Times

Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher concluded, was “a man one could do business with”. It had helped, The Spy and the Traitor reveals, that MI6 had an agent in the perfect place to “choreograph” the pair’s first meetings.Britain had identified Gorbachev as a possible reformist, and officials were k….

Superspy Oleg Gordievsky betrayed his nation to save the world | News | The Times

MI6 regards Oleg Gordievsky as one of its greatest triumphs. The CIA credits him with helping to ensure that the Cold War did not get white hot.The double agent’s pivotal role in avoiding nuclear Armageddon in the 1980s is outlined in The Spy and the Traitor, much of which is based on classified doc…

MI6 believed Michael Foot was paid Soviet informant | News | The Times

MI6 believed that Michael Foot had been a paid informant of the Soviet Union and was prepared to warn the Queen of his “KGB history” when he stood to become prime minister, its officers have revealed in a new book.The British intelligence apparatus concluded that the evidence presented by a Soviet d….

Dutch expelled Russians over alleged novichok lab hacking plot | UK news | The Guardian

Two men were arrested over alleged plan to infiltrate lab where Salisbury nerve agent was analysed

Swiss Confirm Russians Tried To Hack Lab Analyzing Skripal Samples

The Swiss government has confirmed reports that Dutch authorities had arrested and expelled two suspected Russian spies earlier this year after the two allegedly tried to hack a Swiss laboratory th…

Russians Allegedly Targeted Lab Studying Chemical Weapons : NPR

Russian agents were allegedly planning to hack into a Swiss laboratory that was analyzing nerve agents used in March against a former Russian spy and his daughter.

Russians Planned Attack on Lab Testing Salisbury Nerve Agent, Swiss Say – The New York Times

The Dutch expelled two Russian agents preparing a cyber attack on a Swiss lab, officials say, adding a new twist to Moscow’s clashes with the West.

Skripal case: Russian ‘spies’ targeted Swiss chemical weapons lab – BBC News

Russians were reportedly caught spying on a Swiss lab involved in the Salisbury poisoning inquiry.

Russian spies ‘tried to access lab where novichok sample was tested’ | Daily Mail Online

The two agents – who are not the men accused by Britain of carrying out the nerve agent attack – are said to have targeted Switzerland’s Spiez laboratory (pictured) earlier this year.

Swiss intelligence helped foil alleged Russian plot to spy on government lab | Reuters

Switzerland’s intelligence agency said on Friday it had worked with British and Dutch counterparts to foil a Russian plot which, according to newspaper reports, was targeting a Swiss laboratory testing nerve agents such as Novichok.

bellingcat – Skripal Poisoning Suspect’s Passport Data Shows Link to Security Services – bellingcat

Read The Insider Russian report on this same topic here. An ongoing Bellingcat investigation conducted jointly with The Insider Russia has confirmed through uncovered passport data that the two Russian nationals identified by UK authorities as prime suspects in the Novichok poisonings on British soil are linked to Russian security services. This finding directly contradicts claims by the Russian president on 12 September 2018, and by the two men in an interview broadcast on RT one day later, that they are civilians who traveled to Salisbury for a tourist getaway. Original Russian documents reviewed by Bellingcat and The Insider confirm definitively that the two men were registered in the central Russian resident database under the names Alexander Yevgenievich Petrov and Ruslan Timurovich Boshirov, respectively, and were issued internal passports under these names in 2009. However, no records exist for these two personas prior to 2009. This suggests the two names were likely cover identities for operatives of one of the Russian security services. Crucially, at least one man’s passport files contain various “top-secret” markings, which, according to at least two sources consulted by Bellingcat, are typically reserved for members of secret services or top state operatives.

Skripal Poisoning Suspect’s Passport Data Shows Link to Security Services September 14, 2018 By Bellingcat Investigation Team Translations: Русский – To Inform is to Influence

Thank you to Bellingcat!  Once again, President Putin publicly lied and this article contains proof.   The names Alexander Yevgenievich Petrov and Ruslan Timurovich Boshirov did not exist prior to 2009. Their passports contain “top secret” (“sovershenno sekretno”) markings reserved for Russian State Security Services such as the GRU, FSB, and SVR.  The names Alexander Yevgenievich Petrov and…

Bellingcat: Russian Documents Suggest Novichok Suspects Were Operatives

The Kremlin says it will study any British request to question the two men London suspects of trying to murder a former spy, in strict accordance with Russian law.

The one Russian word that explains why Putin doesn’t mind making up ridiculous lies over Salisbury novichok poisoning

THE interview with the two alleged Salisbury assassins was an embarrassing charade which can be summed up using one word – “VRANYO.” Pioneered by the Soviets and perfected by Putin, this is a special word in Russia which means telling a barefaced lie which you do not expect anyone to believe. The person telling a vranyo does not want to admit that they are wrong and tells the lie to save face. During the Soviet area, leaders utilised the practice issuing false statement almost on a daily basis to preserve their flawed ideology. Russian President Vladimir Putin – a former KGB thug – is a master at utilising the vranyo. From the annexation of Crimea to the assassination of Alexander Litvinenko, the Kremlin strongman is not afraid to lie on camera or to other world leaders.

How Salisbury Novichok ‘assassins’ used descriptions of town ‘cut and pasted’ from Wikipedia during outrageous ‘we’re innocent’ interview

THE suspected Novichok assassins have been accused of “cutting and pasting” their descriptions of Salisbury from Wikipedia.

How badly did Russia’s interview with the Skripal poisoning suspects backfire? – The Washington Post

We measured the response — and it was harsh.

Salisbury reaction: ‘It would be comical but for the fact someone died’ | UK news | The Guardian

Story of Russian novichok attack suspects draws scorn and anger in cathedral city

Engaging with Putin is a ‘fool’s errand’ and was a mistake, Boris Johnson admits | Daily Mail Online

Ex-Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson (pictured with Sergei Lavrov) said he now held the Kremlin in ‘absolute contempt’ after he tried and failed to reset relations between the UK and Russia. Johnson admitted to the ‘mistake’ of engaging with Russia as Foreign Secretary, He said he hoped to ‘reset’ relations with the Kremlin but it was a ‘fool’s errand’. Senior Tory said British engagement had been rewarded with Salisbury attack.

Salisbury poisoning: Boris Johnson condemns Russian suspects as ‘MURDERERS’ | UK | News |

BORIS Johnson has branded the two Russian suspects in the Salisbury chemical weapons attack “murderers” and invited them to sue him. The former foreign secretary told dinner guests in Washington that believing it is possible to deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin was his “biggest mistake”.

Boris Johnson calls Salisbury suspects ‘murderers’ and blasts their ‘ludicrous’ interview – saying if they’re not ‘they can sue me in the courts’

An angry former Foreign Secretary said he holds the Russian regime ‘in absolute contempt’ – but admits his biggest mistake was being too soft on Putin and trying to ‘re-set’ relations

Commentary: Was there another target in the Skripal poisoning? | Reuters

The poisoning of former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia has taken yet another dramatic turn. After UK authorities named two Russians – both said to be from the GRU military intelligence service – as suspects in the attack, Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the pair were civilians, not criminals, and that he hoped they “will turn up themselves and tell everything.”

The Skripal suspects’ walk through Salisbury – BBC News – YouTube

BBC News Published on Sep 14, 2018 Two men named as suspects in the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in the UK have said they were merely tourists. The pair, named as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, told the RT channel they had travelled to Salisbury to visit the cathedral on the recommendation of friends. But the UK accuses them of trying to kill Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury last March. Using CCTV footage from the police, the BBC has recreated what we know of the suspects’ walk through Salisbury to see whether their account fits.

Hidden messages behind Russian Novichok suspects’ TV interview revealed as expert points to ‘inner script’ – Mirror Online

Ruslan Borishov and Alexander Petrov gave an interview to Russian state TV after the Met Police said there was enough evidence to charge them with the poisonings

Suspects in Skripal Poisoning Case Claim They Just Wanted to See Salisbury Cathedral

The two suspects’ story about going to Salisbury is riddled with unusual claims. They never made it to the cathedral, but managed to walk over a mile in the opposite direction.

This just confirms Putin’s regime has absolutely no connection with truth

&ldquo;We are two guys in the fitness business, our burning desire was to see the famous spire of Salisbury Cathedral.

What body language can – and can’t – tell us about Russians accused of Sergei Skripal poisoning

‘For Petrov and Boshirov the interview has very high stakes — and throughout the interview they both appear very anxious and uncomfortable.’

The ‘Final Offensive’ In Syria by Putin and Assad Suddenly Looks Like It’s On Hold

Bombing has stopped, some Syrian army units have redeployed—and anti-Assad demonstrations are erupting. But the rebels may turn on each other.

Trump team’s tough talk with Syria working – for now – to stave off chemical attack on Idlib | Fox News

The Trump administration’s words of warning against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad this week, cautioning stern consequences should he and his allies – namely Iran and Russia – forge ahead with a devastating offensive against the country’s final opposition-stronghold of Idlib is having a positive impact in halting the operation, Syrian opposition activists tell Fox News.

Syria’s Looming Idlib Offensive Is Stalled by Turkey – WSJ

Syria’s government, amid growing tension between its ally Russia and neighboring Turkey, is holding off on a planned offensive on a major rebel stronghold, giving Ankara more time to persuade armed groups to disperse.

UAWire – US calls on Germany to join the military operation in Syria

The United States urges the Bundeswehr to participate in a military strike in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army. “Speeches are not the best way to demonstrate political support but showing military solidarity is,” US Special Envoy for Syria Jeffrey James said on September 13 during his visit to Berlin. James said that the United States would try to get the maximum contribution from NATO allies for this operation. According to him, the internal political situation in the United States is the reason for Washington’s persistence in rallying for military support. “We have an internal policy and it helps when the President can demonstrate that others are ready to help us,” he explained. Drawing parallels between the current situation and the events of the Iraqi campaign in 2003, the American representative admitted that the refusal of Germany and France to support the US military operations in Iraq were a “big internal political problem” for Washington. The German tabloid Bild previously reported that the German Defense Ministry is considering participating in the “military alliance” of the United States, France and Great Britain, due to the expected attack of Syrian government troops on the province of Idlib. This announcement sparked an intense internal political debate in Germany.

UAWire – Germany calls on Russia to influence Assad

On Friday, September 14th, at a press conference following talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Berlin, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on Russia to stop Bashar Assad from conducting a large-scale military operation in the Syrian province of Idlib. “The situation in Idlib is so sensitive that we want to do everything possible to prevent a large-scale attack, to avoid thousands of casualties among the civilian population,” said the German foreign minister. He also expressed hope that Moscow will use its influence on the Syrian leader, so that under no circumstance chemical weapons are used. Maas reaffirmed that Germany will assist Syria in the process of rebuilding Syria only after Damascus fulfills several conditions. In particular, there should be an opportunity for refugees to return with a guarantee that they will not be subjected to political persecution. The country should begin a political process, that guarantees Syrians have the right to decide on their own, the future of the country. “I cannot imagine that at the end of this process, if it is truly a democratic process, Assad will remain [in power] long-term,” said Maas. Answering journalists’ questions about Berlin’s position on “Skripal’s case,” Maas stated that Germany has no reason to doubt the outcome of London’s investigation.

India to cut Iranian oil imports nearly in half in face of US sanctions – Business Insider

India, Iran’s No.2 oil client behind top buyer China, does not recognize the reimposed U.S. sanctions, but winning a waiver from the restrictions is a must…

Mike Pompeo blasts Kerry’s Iran meetings as ‘beyond inappropriate’ – CNNPolitics

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blasted his predecessor John Kerry for “unseemly and unprecedented” behavior after Kerry said he had met Iranian officials since leaving office.

Pompeo, Kerry clash in remarkable stand-off over Iran – POLITICO

The Secretary of State blasted his predecessor for holding “beyond inappropriate” private meetings with Iranian officials.