Information operations · Information Warfare · Iran · Russia · Syria

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (161)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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While UK media publish excerpts from Col Skripal’s memoir, being published days from now, and elaborate on further disclosures about the GRU covert ops team, and despite the tiredness of Peskov, Muscovy’s propagandists produce a repeat barrage of the same nonsense, following the old NSDAP dictum of“repeating a lie a thousand times”. Seven very interesting reports on Russia’s domestic situation. Fort Trump debate continues. Interior Secretary Zinke suggests a naval blockade to interdict oil tanker traffic from Russia – we have yet to see the reaction from Muscovy on this suggestion.

UK media publish extracts from Urban’s new book, The Skripal Files (ISBN 9781529006889). Speculation that the GRU covert ops team was inappropriately issued business visas. Multiple backfills and followup reports on last week, and five interesting opeds and analysis essays.

Iran media dominated by saber-rattling, blameshifting and mutual blameshifting over the Ahvaz attack.

Most interesting Syria reports revolve about the Russian deployment, being sold as a US$1B sale, of reportedly up eight batteries of the S-300PMU2 / SA-20B (usually only one full-strength battery is sold for this amount, the rest must be on credit). Haaretz report 2-4 to be deployed short term, and up to 8 batteries later. As yet no details on battery composition, that is an important determinant of effectiveness, the cited numbers suggest an intent to defend against low flying threats across most critical parts of Syria. The short notice deployment indicates Russian VKS PVO systems and crews. More grandiose pronouncements by the Assad regime and Muscovy on Syria’s future.

Finally, more on the “relationship” between Turkey and Germany.

Skripal poisoning: No info in records about decorated colonel Chepiga, says Kremlin — RT World News

Russian records have neither information about a Colonel Anatoly Chepiga nor about such a person being awarded the highest national merit, said a Kremlin spokesman. A report by Bellingcat said the man is a Skripal case suspect.

‘There are More Questions than Answers in the Skripal Saga’ – Politologist – Sputnik International

The intrigue surrounding the poisoning of former Russian GRU officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal continues, as it was reported on Friday by British newspaper the Telegraph that a third suspect involved has been identified by British authorities. Sputnik spoke to Victor Olevich, lead expert at the Center for Actual Politics.

Russian Embassy Calls Situation Around Skripal Case Well-Planned Provocation – Sputnik International

LONDON (Sputnik) – UK media reports that police and security services managed to identify another Russian national linked to the Salisbury poisoning incident are a new spin of the campaign to smear Russia, the Russian embassy in London told Sputnik.

‘Amateurs’ – Ex MI6 Officer on Video Allegedly With Skripal Case Suspects – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Nicholas Anderson, a former MI6 intelligence officer, told Sputnik that when he saw the CCTV footage of the two men whom London believes to be Russian security service agents and accuses of perpetrating the Skripal poisoning, his immediate reaction was that the suspects must be amateurs.

Putin has information that Skripal poisoning suspects Petrov and Boshirov are civilians – Kremlin — RT World News

Russian President Vladimir Putin has information that two Russia suspects in the Skripal poisoning case were civilians, a Kremlin spokesman said when asked about an investigation that claimed they were Russian intelligence agents.

Estonia Denies Reports on Skripal Contribution to Exposing Spies in 2016 – Sputnik International

TALLIN (Sputnik) – The Estonian Internal Security Service (KaPo) refuted on Friday reports that former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal had helped Tallin to expose several suspected Russian spies in 2016.

Hard to tell truth from fiction in Sergei Skripal affair: Kremlin – Times of India

Rest of World News: “Over the past months a lot of news about the Skripals’ affair has appeared in British media and media in other countries,” Russian president Vladimir

Kremlin: Photos don’t prove novichok suspect is Russian intelligence officer

An investigative website has said one of the Salisbury poisoning suspects is a colonel of Russia’s military intelligence agency.

Russia says photos don’t prove its spy was linked to Skripal case

Former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped on a public bench in the English city of Salisbury in March. Britain says they were poisoned with a nerve agent administered by Russian intelligence officers. A woman later died from what British police say was contact with

Russian Foreign Ministry Still Denies Evidence of Involvement in Salisbury Poisoning

Evidence strongly suggests that “Petrov” and “Boshirov” are Russian intelligence agents and involved in the Salisbury poisoning.

Kremlin urges Britain to share its poisoning case suspicions through official channels – The Globe and Mail

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said allegations from British-based investigative group Bellingcat and others can’t be the basis for a Russian inquiry.

Russia hits US, denies ‘unjustified accusations’ of interference | TheHill

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov strongly denied U.S. charges of election interference, slamming the U.S. and its international relations during a speech at the United Nations on Friday.

Russia Begins Missile System Delivery to Syria, Warns West on Peace Talks | Sergei Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said, Moscow had started delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria

How Will the 73rd UN General Assembly Meeting Go Down in History – Sputnik International

For one week, world leaders took the stage of the most powerful international organization on the planet to voice their concerns and to address issues of utmost importance to their countries during the UN General Assembly debate.

Lavrov Trolls Spain at UN, Says Russia ‘Busy Meddling in Catalonia’s Elections’ – Sputnik International

The Russian foreign minister offered an unexpected response to a reporter’s question about Moscow’s alleged attempts to “lure” farmers from South Africa to come to Russia.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Plans to Boost Spending on Military and Police by 33 Percent over Next Three Years

Paul Goble Staunton, September 30 – The Russian government plans to increase spending on the military and police by 33 percent over the next three years, relying on higher oil prices schedules far smaller increases on social needs like healthcare and housing and reduces support to the regions, according to finance ministry documents released this week. Those plans (, discussed in detail (, show that despite protests against the government’s raising of pension ages, Moscow intends to spend relatively less on social needs and ever more on the national defense and its own security. That sets the stage for ever more conflicts between a regime apparently preparing for even more aggression abroad and repression at home and a population that will increasingly be paying for these unpopular measures by sacrifices that the powers that be impose on them regardless of their wishes. This year, the figures show, the Russian government plans to spend 5.147 trillion rubles (70 billion US dollars) on the military and police, with the amount rising to 6.64 trillion rubles (91 billion US dollars) by 2021. This increase on security spending is twice the increase in spending on the economy, five times the additional amount for medicine, 12 times new money for education, and 53 times for support of communal service. Spending for debt service is slated to rise by 32 percent, but transfers to the regions to be cut by 4.6 percent, creating still more unfunded mandates there. As the finance ministry document shows, the government anticipates having enough money to avoid these cuts as a result of “super income” from the sale of oil at prices above the planned 40 US dollars a barrel; but instead of doing so, Moscow will be putting that money either into security or into a national welfare fund.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Five Figures that Serve to Define Putin’s Russia and Its Future

Paul Goble Staunton, September 27 – Statistics are notoriously unreliable especially in the case of the Russian Federation where the questions that are asked and the answers that are given quite often reflect political calculations of one or another kind rather than being a mirror of what is in fact taking place. But on some occasions, these figures, especially when one takes in more than one, provide useful guidance as to the shape of Russia at the present time. Today, there have been five such statistics; and both singly and together, they help to adumbrate what Russia is and even more what it is likely to become: · The amount of wealth held abroad by Russian oligarchs and businesses is approximately equal to the amount of wealth retained inside the country, according to Moscow economists and World Bank experts ( · The number of political prisoners in the Russian Federation has risen from 35 three years ago to 183 now, according to the Memorial human rights organization (· Russians by a margin of more than three to one say that having good leaders is more important than having good laws ( · More than eight out of ten Russian villagers say they are unhappy with the state of Putin-optimized health care in their locales ( · The number of Russians who say they are prepared to take part in demonstrations against the government’s program to raise pension ages has fallen “sharply,” while a new poll finds that almost half think the country is moving in the right direction ( and

Moscow Times: Why Russia’s Crimean Consensus Is Over – To Inform is to Influence

Here is a gutsy OpEd by Konstantin Gaaze </end editorial> With support for the Kremlin waning, repression is all it has left. BY KONSTANTIN GAAZE Sept. 24 2018 – 18:09 General elections this month have revealed that the Russian public is frustrated, uncertain about the future and electrified by protest sentiment. Kremlin candidates struggled to win their gubernatorial bids, while high school and college students—people who haven’t even started working yet — took to the streets to protest plans to raise the pension age.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Apocalyptic Predictions about Russian Power Help Kremlin’s Disinformation Effort, Pavlova Says

Paul Goble Staunton, September 28 – The flood of articles highlighting the growing problems the Putin regime faces and predicting its approaching end in fact, Irina Pavlova says, are “consciously or unconsciously” serving the Kremlin’s “disinformation” efforts by distracting attention from the nature of that state and why it is in far less trouble than their authors imagine. The US-based Russian historian, as she has before, says that most of these articles are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of power in Russia which is completely different from that in other countries even when its leaders themselves use Western terminology ( Most seriously, Pavlova says, “behind this information noise of the Internet era, not to speak about the existing level of secrecy which has remained unchanged from Stalin’s time, the powers can conceal what they really want to conceal” and that is this: Russia’s rapid re-militarization at the expense of the population. (For data on just how large Moscow’s military effort now is and is slated to be over the next several years, see in particular and The Russian historian points to several articles which she sees as especially egregious in their lack of understanding of the differences between Russia and the rest of the world. “In the West, the state, to which society delegated its authority and which was forced to bear responsibility before society was established,” she writes. But in Russia, on the other hand, “there never was a state in the Western sense, one that was the result of the agreement of different social strata and groups.” Instead, such a state only began to be put in place at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century,” only to be reversed by the Bolshevik revolution of 1917. What arose and exists in Russia, Pavlova continues, “is not a state (gosudarstvo) but a power (vlast), power as a demiurge which is not responsible to the people populating the country and which if it does anything for that population, does so only as a result of its own pragmatic considerations.” “More than that,” she continues, “power itself establishes the social space which it then manipulates for its own goals. There never were real ‘institutions’ in Russia but only imitations of various levels. This situation got worse after October 1917,” and those who analyze the Russian power as if it were a state miss the point – and, worse, help the power to do so as well. That must be understood. Of course, Russians are unhappy about the pension reform; but the Kremlin is almost certainly pleased that analysts are focusing on that unhappiness which will not have serious consequences for the regime rather than on its military buildup which will have even more important ones for the world as a whole.

RIAC Is Full Of “Russian Propaganda” – To Inform is to Influence

Let me be clear, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) is not fair, objective, or unbiased in any shape, way or fashion. RIAC spews propaganda, more gently than trolls, but they seek to promote Russian national interests first, assist in sowing division in the West, and undermine Western governments. Russia is the victim, the West is…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: New Pension Law Likely to Provoke Russian Flight, Ethnic Conflict in Far North

Paul Goble Staunton, September 28 – The final version of the new pension law leaves unchanged the current retirement ages for members of the numerically small peoples of the North while boosting them for ethnic Russians and others living there, deepening the divide between them, setting the stage for conflict, and provoking more Russian flight from the region. In the first draft of the measure, there was no such difference; but then Moscow agreed to retain the longstanding retirement ages for the numerically small peoples causing many Russians and others in the North to assume that they too would benefit. One poll said 93 percent of them had that view ( But that is not the case, and now even more than in the past, there are two categories of Russian citizens in this region, the indigenous populations who have retained a more favored arrangement and the arrivals, many of them ethnic Russians who work for petroleum companies and other extraction industries, who do not. While the non-Russians view their retention of earlier retirement ages as a boon that reflects the difficulties of their lives, many ethnic Russians in the region are angry at Moscow for boosting theirs and for acting as if they don’t share many of the challenges that the numerically small peoples do ( According to Duma deputy Oleg Shein, raising the pension age on those from outside the region while leaving it where it was for indigenous peoples will lead to an increase in the outflow of the latter from the region because many of those in this category become ill as they approach the existing pension age. That will have a number of consequences, some potentially very serious. First, it will mean that the share of the population the indigenous population occupies in these regions will increase even more rapidly than it has over the last 30 years, leading their leaders to demand more for the non-Russian peoples involved. (That trend may accelerate even more if as the experience of other countries applies: At least some Russians are likely to try to re-identify as non-Russians in the hopes of claiming the lower retirement age, much as some in the American West and in Alaska have sought to claim Indian heritage to gain access to resources and benefits.) Second, it will mean that Russian extraction industries will find it ever more difficult to operate and that production of oil and gas along with other natural resources may fall far faster than otherwise, pleasing non-Russians who object to the devastation of their lands but hurting Moscow’s incomes. And third, it almost certainly will spark conflicts between the indigenous peoples and the arrivals, mostly ethnic Russians, from outside, with the latter angry that Moscow is giving the non-Russians benefits it is not giving the Russians and the former newly energized because of their victory. These may seem like small things given that the numerically small peoples of the North number fewer than two million people; but it is anything but. While they are small in number, their territories occupy nearly a third of the Russian Federation and are the locations of much of the country’s natural wealth. Problems there are thus problems for the entire country.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Reacts to Russian Anger about Pensions by Spreading Seven Myths, Shelin Says

Paul Goble Staunton, September 28 – Having pushed through as expected its plan to raise pension ages for Russians, the Kremlin has reacted to popular anger about the measure not by addressing the concerns of the population but rather by spreading seven myths, Sergey Shelin says. “People know they are being lied to but do not understand exactly how.” For the Rosbalt news agency, the commentator lists seven myths, each of which is based on lies, that the Russian government and its controlled media are now spreading throughout the population, on the one hand, muddying the waters, and on the other, reducing the readiness of Russians to continue to protest ( First of all, the Kremlin insists that “the reform touches all future Russian pensioners.” According to Shelin, “this is not so.” It doesn’t affect those in the siloviki, the numerically small peoples of the North, and certain other categories. This attempt to present it as a burden everyone shares is simply not the case. Second, the regime asserts that “all pensioners receive their pensions from the Pension Fund.” That too is not the case. The siloviki for example receive theirs not from that source but from their own ministries which have different rules. Again, the distinction matters and the Kremlin is trying to obliterate it. Third, the authorities insist that the deficit of the state pension fund is “a mirror of the existing nightmarish situation and a sign that the increase in the pension age is absolutely inevitable.” That too, Shelin says, isn’t true, both because some pensioners get their money from elsewhere and because the rise in the pension age could have been prevented by other means. Fourth, the regime advances the argument that the “enormous” sums the government transfers into the pension system show that it was necessary to “immediately” raise the pension age. They do not show that at all, Shelin counters. Instead, they show that the system was never set up properly but that it continues to function and could without change for some time. Fifth, the regime simultaneously promises that the country’s demographic situation will soon turn around and says that demographic decline means that the government has no choice but to raise the pension age. Both can’t be true, and in fact, the government’s own statistics and projections show that neither is, the Rosbalt commentator says. Sixth, the Kremlin insists that the pension costs for the siloviki are so small relative to those for the population as a whole that they should not be discussed at the same time. In fact, the per capita costs for siloviki pensions are so much higher than those for everyone else that discussing them together is required. And seventh, Shelin continues, government media argue that “pensions will become fewer but on the other hand they will become wealthier [because] all the money saved will go to them.” That is false on two grounds. On the one hand, the money saved is going to the military; and on the other, pensions aren’t being indexed to keep up with inflation. For each of these seven “myths,” Shelin provides official figures that show why none of them is true.

What’s in a name? Poland tempts Trump with deal to build permanent military base for U.S. troops – Los Angeles Times

Poland is offering the United States $2 billion and an “ideal location” for a permanent U.S. military base on its territory that it would call “Fort Trump.” A certain former Manhattan real estate magnate is tempted, but Pentagon officials and NATO allies meeting in Warsaw this weekend are worried.

Ryan Zinke: Naval blockade is an option for dealing with Russia

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says the U.S. Navy can blockade Russia if needed to keep it from controlling energy supplies in the Middle East as it does in Europe. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says the U.S. Navy can blockade Russia if needed to keep it from controlling energy supplies in the Middle East as it does in Europe. “The United States has that ability, with our Navy, to make sure the sea lanes are open, and, if necessary, to blockade … to make sure that their energy does not go to market,” Zinke said on Friday at an industry event in Pittsburgh hosted by the Consumer Energy Alliance. He was there to explain why hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and the shale energy boom has given the U.S. an edge over its rivals Russia and Iran, by making the U.S. less dependent on foreign sources of energy. “Russia is a one trick pony,” Zinke said, explaining that its economy hinges on its ability to sell energy. “I believe the reason they are in the Middle East is they want to broker energy just like they do in eastern Europe, the southern belly of Europe.” The Trump administration has been adamantly opposed to Russian energy projects, such as the Nord Stream II pipeline to Germany, because of the leverage it would give over Europe. President Trump wants the European Union to buy more U.S. natural gas to diversify the continent’s energy supply away from Russia.

U.S. doesn’t rule out naval blockade for dealing with Russia – media | UNIAN

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says the U.S. Navy can blockade Russia if needed to keep it from controlling energy supplies in the Middle East as it does in Europe. Russia’s economy hinges on its ability to sell energy, U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says.

The U.S. Navy may arrange naval blockade to Russian vessels, which supply energy sources to the Middle East –

American Navy may arrange naval blockade to Russian vessels, which supply energy sources to the Middle East. The U.S. Navy may arrange naval blockade to Russian vessels, which supply energy sources to the Middle East. United States Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke claimed this at the dedicated to energy event in Pittsburgh on September 28, Washington Examiner reports.

Sergei Skripal tells how he was turned by MI6 into sharing his secrets | Daily Mail Online

Unlike every other journalist covering the story, I had not only met Sergei Skripal (pictured right) but interviewed him extensively. Novichok victim Sergei Skripal reveals how he was ‘turned’ by MI6, in new book. Journalist Mark Urban interviewed him extensively about his life as double agent. He revealed using invisible ink to pass secrets and the moment he was rumbled.

I helped MI6 when Russia let me down, says Sergei Skripal | News | The Times

Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy attacked with a nerve agent in Salisbury, passed secrets to MI6 using invisible ink after becoming disillusioned with his country’s military intelligence agency, a new book has said.Mr Skripal said that he was recruited by British intelligence in 1996 towards t

Russia ‘influenced UK embassy into giving Skripal assassins visas’ | Daily Mail Online

Investigators have evidence the Kremlin ‘manipulated people’ working for the UK’s consulate in Moscow to ensure their assassins were handed UK business visas. Putin claimed suspects captured on CCTV were civilians and not GRU officers But Ruslan Boshirov unmasked as military intelligence officer Colonel Chepiga. He was awarded Russia’s highest bravery honour in 2014 under his real name. Experts believe Chepiga may have known Skripal and volunteered to kill him. Russian president accused of lying by former foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Kremlin hits back calling report ‘fibs’ and ‘pure nonsense’ cooked up by traitors.

Will Skripal suspects be rewarded or punished by Putin after bungling Salisbury hit and being unmasking as elite spies?

THE bungling Salisbury assassins are more likely to be celebrated than punished by Vladimir Putin’s “gangster” regime, an expert has claimed. Speaking with The Sun Online, James Rogers, an expert in European geopolitics, claims Putin’s ‘gangster’ regime is likely to carry out a similar attack on UK soil again.

Report: Third Alleged Russian Agent Involved In Skripal Mission Identified

A third Russian military intelligence officer who carried out a reconnaissance mission before the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter has been identified by British coun…

3rd Russian agent visited Salisbury to plan Skripal attack: report – INSIDER

British authorities have identified a third agent involved in the attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, The Telegraph reported. The UK earlier this month accused two Russian intelligence agents over the attempted assassination. The Kremlin repeatedly denied knowledge of the attack. British authorities have identified a third agent involved in the attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, The Telegraph reported. The UK earlier this month accused two Russian intelligence agents of the attempted assassination. The third agent was also part of Russia’s intelligence service, and this person visited England to check out the layout of Skripal’s neighborhood before his colleagues arrived, The Telegraph said. The report comes as the investigative-journalism site Bellingcat identified one of the suspects as Col. Anatoliy Chepiga, a highly decorated officer with the GRU, Russia’s intelligence service. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied knowledge of the attack. The latest findings may weakening this claim.

A 3rd Russian agent reportedly went to England to prep the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal | Business Insider

A third Russian intelligence agent went to England to plan the nerve agent poisoning of a former Russian spy earlier this year,The Telegraph has reported, casting further doubt on the Kremlin’s claims that it had no knowledge of the attack.

Third GRU agent who carried out Skripal reconnaissance mission identified by secret services

A third Russian military intelligence officer who carried out a reconnaissance mission before the poisoning of Sergei Skripal has been identified by counter terrorism police and the security services, the Telegraph understands.

England makes case for a 3rd Russian agent in spy poisoning – We Are The Mighty

British authorities have identified a third agent involved in the attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, The Telegraph reported.

Second Salisbury poisoning suspect named in days | News | The Times

The identity of the second suspect in the Salisbury poisonings is likely to be revealed within days as it emerged the pair are now mockingly referred to as “Dolce and Gabbana” in Russian spy circles. Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga, who used the alias Ruslan Boshirov to enter Britain before the novichok

Novichok assassin’s former chief claims he wasn’t trained for spy missions | Daily Mail Online

The Kremlin’s media machine has gone into overdrive since investigators revealed one of the two Russians behind the attack is a Colonel Anatoly Chepiga – a high ranking GRU officer. One of the agents accused over Salisbury attack was outed as a GRU colonel. Pictures show striking similarities between Anatoly Chepiga and ‘Boshirov’. But Kremlin has attempted to spread that assassin is decorated Russian agent. Chepiga’s former commander today insisted the soldier wasn’t trained to spy.

Salisbury Skripal poisoner Anatoliy Chepiga identified by former neighbours in his Russian home village

LOCALS instantly recognised the assassin ‘Ruslan Boshirov’ from CCTV images when he was on his Novichok mission in Salisbury. Former classmates in a village 400 miles east of Moscow confirmed it was him and told The Sun it was ‘100 per cent’ him.

Villagers where Skripal suspect grew up name him as novichok assassin | Daily Mail Online

Locals in Berezovka, population 3,139, recognised him from pictures of his alias Ruslan Boshirov taken on his trip to Britain when police say he poisoned Sergei Skripal with a chemical weapon. Locals in Berezovka recognised Chepiga from pictures of alias Ruslan Boshirov. One former female schoolfriend was ‘one hundred percent’ certain it was him. Locals know him as ‘Tolya’— short for Anatoliy, and say he’s married father of two.

Putin is warned over novichok | World | News |

RUSSIAN president Vladimir Putin was warned yesterday that “the price will be too high” if he continues to violate international law. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he had a “frank exchange” with his Russian opposite number Sergey Lavrov at the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Kremlin will pay a high price for using chemical weapons, Jeremy Hunt claims – AOL

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has warned Russia it will pay a &quot;high price&quot; if it continues to use chemical weapons following the Salisbury nerve agent attack. Mr Hunt said he had had

John Sparks | Sky Views: Reality slipping in Putin’s bubble

If you decided to make a list of post-war spy missions that ultimately failed to achieve their objectives it would be difficult to think of an operation that has been so utterly unsuccessful as the Russian government’s attempt to kill Sergei Skripal. Two highly experienced operatives from the Russian military’s GRU intelligence division bungled their attempt to assassinate the former double agent and his daughter at their modest red-brick home in Salisbury. Furthermore, the pair managed to expose their movements on passenger manifests, broadcast their physical and facial features courtesy of the UK’s extensive system of CCTV cameras and provide enough information about themselves from passport lists that the diggers at Bellingcat and Russia Insider magazine have managed to positively identify one of them.

Ingo Mannteufel | Opinion: The Skripal poisoning′s smoking gun | Opinion | DW | 27.09.2018

A team of investigative journalists has presented new findings about the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter. The trail leads to right to the Kremlin, says DW’s Ingo Mannteufel. The uncovering of the true identity of one of the suspects in the Salisbury attack is irrefutable evidence of the Russian government’s involvement that goes all the way up to the highest authorities at the Kremlin. Predictably, Russia will deny all the evidence presented and launch a new disinformation campaign through the media. But with this new smoking gun, the truthful realization will finally prevail: The Kremlin was behind the Novichok poisoning attack on British soil.

The danger that Russia poses has now become clear, says STEPHEN POLLARD | Express Comment | Comment |

AS revelations go the unmasking of the would-be assassin of Sergei Skripal as a decorated hero of Russian military intelligence is spectacular. On one level it is a simply brilliant piece of investigative journalism. But it is also much more. Because it shows beyond any doubt the deadly seriousness of the battle we are engaged in with Russia.

Bob Seely | The online activists who found the Salisbury ‘hitman’ are our best weapon against Putin’s lies

The extraordinary unmasking of the Russian Military Intelligence Colonel, Anatoliy Chepiga, by the online investigative group Belingcat is the outcome of a new digital empowering of individuals and civic organisations.

Alec Luhn | GRU: History, rivalries and the politics behind Russia’s most secretive intelligence agency

Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, had enjoyed a long stretch of time in the shadows.

Iran broadcasts video of encounter with USS Theodore Roosevelt in Strait of Hormuz today – CBS News

Footage is likely meant as a show of strength amid new U.S. sanctions on Iran

Iran’s Duplicitous Foreign Policy Power Plays | The National Interest

This is the modus operandi of Iran’s deep state: engaging while raging against the world.

Tangled web of claims and blame for Iran attack

Tehran has identified an array of parties as perpetrating or having a hand in the September 22 attack that killed 24 people in the city of Ahvaz. Ahvaz is the capital of Khuzestan, a province bordering Iraq in southwestern Iran where ethnic Arabs form a majority. There have been two claims of responsibility. In a statement on Sunday, the Revolutionary Guard pointed the finger of blame at a “Western-Hebrew-Arabic satanic triangle”. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was carried out by “terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime”. “Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks,” he wrote on Twitter. Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei described the attack as the continuation of a “conspiracy by regional governments in the pay of the US”.

Iran lawmaker says negligence led to parade attack – World – DAWN.COM

A prominent Iranian lawmaker said an attack on a military parade in the southwestern city of Ahvaz that killed 24 people was the result of negligence by security forces, semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Saturday. The report quoted the head of Iran’s parliamentary committee on national security and foreign policy, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, as saying a video shot by the intelligence ministry and the army makes this clear. “The cameraman begged a sniper to shoot the attackers, but the sniper waited for his commander’s order,” he said, describing the video.

Iran lawmaker says negligence led to parade attack in which 24 killed | The Times of Israel

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh says video shows sniper failing to act even as people were being killed

Iran lawmaker says deaths from military parade shooting result of security negligence | National Post

One sniper did not at first believe an attack was taking place, but still didn’t shoot he saw people dying, saying he didn’t get an order to fire, says Falahatpisheh

Iran MP criticizes security personnel over military parade attack | Reuters

A senior Iranian parliamentarian on Saturday criticized security personnel for failing to act decisively to stop a shooting attack that killed 25 people at a military parade last weekend, the semi-official news agency ISNA reported. In a statement on Sunday, the Revolutionary Guard pointed the finger of blame at a “Western-Hebrew-Arabic satanic triangle”. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was carried out by “terrorists recruited, trained, armed & paid by a foreign regime”. “Iran holds regional terror sponsors and their US masters accountable for such attacks,” he wrote on Twitter. Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei described the attack as the continuation of a “conspiracy by regional governments in the pay of the US”.

Gwynne Dyer: Another Gulf War — the first shots? | Columnists | Opinion | Columnists | The Telegram

The men who carried out last Saturday&rsquo;s attack on the parade in Ahvaz, in Iran&rsquo;s southwestern province of Khuzestan, were well trained: four of them killed 25 people and wounded 70 others before they were shot dead. The

After Ahvaz: Iran’s national security worries and challenges | Iran News | Al Jazeera

As questions swirl about the Ahvaz attack, Iranians eye Israel and hope for political change in the US.

Iranian diplomat accuses Netanyahu of ‘smokescreen’ with secret nuclear facility claims | TheHill

Iran’s top diplomat is slamming claims from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tehran has been concealing a “secret atomic warehouse.”

Iran’s best diplomat takes on US power – The Boston Globe

Fate has given Foreign Minister Zarif the daunting task of foiling a global campaign aimed at bringing his country to its knees and forcing it to submit to American power.

Iran plans to use other currencies to get around U.S. sanctions – The Washington Post

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country is developing plans with other countries to sell oil and conduct other trade even after harsh sanctions take effect in November.

Iran Detains Three Over Billboard With Israeli Soldiers

Authorities in Iran have detained three people accused of using a photo of Israeli soldiers on a billboard, Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency reported on September 28.

Diplomats evacuated from US consulate in Iraq because of Iranian-backed violence | Fox News

The U.S government announced on Friday that the U.S. consulate in the southern Iraqi city of Basra is being temporarily closed amid violence, including a rocket fire aimed at the consulate, by the Iranian-backed militias.

U.S. Closes Consulate In Basra, Citing Iran-Backed Violence : NPR

The State Department is temporarily closing the U.S. Consulate in the southern Iraqi city and evacuating all diplomats stationed there, following a rocket attack early Friday morning.

Russia to provide Assad with up to eight S-300 systems to defend all of Syria, report says – Middle East News –

Russia reportedly transferring electronic warfare systems to Latakia, which Moscow says will hamper Israel’s ability to strike. Russia will transfer two to four S-300 air defense missile systems to Syria within the next two weeks, the Russian news website Kommersant reported Tuesday, citing a source familiar with the details. The amount of systems may increase in the future. The Assad regime will use the systems to defend Syria’s coastline and its borders with Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, the report said. According to the official, Russia may end up transferring up to eight systems to Syria, depending on the circumstances.

Russia May Prop Up Assad With Eight S-300 Systems – To Inform is to Influence

In what may be a wee bit of overkill, Russia may supply Syria with up to 8 x S-300 systems.   An S-300 can cover almost all of Israel from Damascus, with only one system.  Initially, Russia would probably supply two and have four on the ground shortly thereafter.  I keep contemplating how Israel is going…

Report: Syria paid Russia $1 billion for S-300 missiles – Israel National News

Money was transferred to Russian banks years ago, but only given to Russia upon delivery of missile system, source says. Russia received $1 billion in payment for the S-300 surface-to-air missile system, Kan reported. According to Kan 11, Syria transferred the payment to Russian banks several years ago, but due to Israel’s pressure to freeze the deal, the money was not officially transferred to Russia. With Russia’s transfer of the S-300 missile system to Syria, the money will become available for Russian use, a source told Kan. An additional diplomatic source admitted that Syria’s receipt of the missile system will “challenge Israel.” “This is not a simple challenge for the country and we’re dealing with it in various ways, not necessarily by preventing the transfer,” the source said.

Israeli official: S-300 delivery to Syria ‘a complex challenge’ for Israel | The Times of Israel

Senior official says Israel dealing with Moscow’s decision ‘in many ways’; Netanyahu had criticized the move to supply Assad regime with advanced defense system as ‘irresponsible’

‘Putin made a move, but it’s a big playing field’: Israeli official addresses ‘challenge’ of S-300 in Syria – Israel News –

Official says Israel will deal with arrival of aerial defense system in Syria ‘in different ways, not necessarily by preventing the delivery’

Is Israel’s military honeymoon with Russia in Syria over? – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

Jerusalem also considered sending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman to visit Moscow to stop the diplomatic crisis from spiraling even further.

Can Israel stop Russia’s delivery of the S-300 to Syria? – Opinion – Jerusalem Post

The S-300 was the Israel Air Force’s nightmare. One of the most advanced multi-target anti-aircraft-missile systems in the world. In October 2007, just a month after Israel bombed a nuclear reactor that Bashar Assad was secretly constructing in northeast Syria, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert picked up the phone and called the Kremlin. Secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and defense secretary Robert Gates were in Moscow for talks with Vladimir Putin about the deployment of NATO missile defense systems in Eastern Europe. Olmert was afraid that the top American officials would use their meeting to also update the Russian leader about the Israeli strike – how it had discovered the reactor, what exactly it was, and why military action was taken. Olmert wanted to speak to him first.

Syria FM: Our battle against terrorism ‘almost over’ | News | Al Jazeera

Syria slammed international interference and attacks on its sovereignty, while also accusing US of war crimes.

Syria FM: Victory over ‘terrorism’ is near, US must leave | Fox News

Declaring that victory over terrorism is almost at hand after more than seven years of civil war, Syria’s foreign minister took to the world stage Saturday and demanded that occupation forces from the U.S., France and Turkey leave the country immediately.

Russia Wants Refugees to Return to Syria, But Many Fear for Their Safety

“I know that the regime cannot be trusted,” Jude Ash, a Syrian activist who is now an asylum applicant in the U.S., told Newsweek. “Any attempt by the regime to facilitate any transition or resolution, the main problem there is trust,” he explained.

Russia vows no safe passage for Syria jihadists in Idlib | Daily Mail Online

Russia on Friday warned it will not allow jihadists in Syria to be sent to Afghanistan or elsewhere under a deal reached with Turkey that averted a…

🇩🇪 🇹🇷 Erdogan opens mega-mosque in Germany’s Cologne amid rival rallies | Al Jazeera English – YouTube

Al Jazeera English Published on Sep 30, 2018 The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has ended a 3-day state visit to Germany by opening Europe’s largest mosque in the cathedral city of Cologne. It was a visit intended to mend ties but it has also exposed deep disagreements between the two countries. Both supporters and opponents of president Erdogan held gatherings in Cologne on Saturday with police standing in between. Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull reports from Cologne.

Cologne on lockdown as Erdogan wraps up ill-tempered visit to Germany | Reuters

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wrapped up an ill-tempered visit to Germany on Saturday with a visit to Cologne, where a security lockdown kept supporters and protesters away from a ceremony to open the country’s largest mosque.

At German mosque, Turkey’s Erdogan defends soccer players | Fox News

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wound up a sometimes-fraught visit to Germany on Saturday by condemning the treatment of soccer players of Turkish descent and urging a joint stance against this racist drift.

Turkey Pressures Angela Merkel to Extradite Religious Group Erdogan Accuses of Terrorism

Turkey is being criticized for attempting to kidnap followers of an Islamic cleric from foreign countries.

UAWire – Erdogan speaks about Trump’s and Merkel’s argument regarding Russian gas

At the NATO summit in Brussels July 11-12, US President Donald Trump rebuked allies in the alliance for paying too much for Russian gas, but the Turkish and German leaders argued with him, said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, reports Milliyet. According to Erdogan, at the summit, Trump accused those gathered of “feeding Russia.” “You [Turkey] are paying as much as Germany,” said the American president. Trump did not mention Turkey “out of politeness,” Erdogan feels. Nevertheless, he “couldn’t stop himself” and argued with the American president. “We buy 50% of our gas from Russia. If we do not buy it, our citizens will freeze in the winter,” the Turkish leader recounted. Then, according to Erdogan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported him and said that Germany buys 38% of its gas from Russia and cannot allow the German people to freeze.