Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (173)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

</end editorial>

Catastrophic would not be a bad description for this week, in terms of Russia’s propaganda effort. Denials and resorting to bashing Bellingcat volunteers, using quotes from known Russia advocates, is not a winning tactic, and clearly reflects propaganda bankruptcy, where even plausible disinformation has been expended fruitlessly. More typical Russian press-on-itis.

No major developments in any of these threads, but a wealth of late reports, backfill reports, and op-eds. Naval warfare essays are most interesting.

Despite mainstream glory, questions raised about Bellingcat authenticity and Skripal poisoning case — RT UK News

Bellingcat, the ‘investigative’ website in the news after claiming to have identified the Skripal poisoning suspects, has received mostly uncritical coverage from the media – but some independent journalists are raising questions.

Kremlin no comment on claim Putin decorated Skripal suspect

The Kremlin on Wednesday refused to verify a claim that the second suspect in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal was decorated as a hero by President Vladimir Putin. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists the Kremlin would not check out a report by British investigative

What have we learned about Russia’s Military Intelligence Directorate over the past few months? (Spoiler: it’s more Boris and Natasha than Black Widow.) — Meduza

Sources: investigations by Bellingcat, The Insider, and The Conflict Intelligence Team.

Changes May be Coming to Russia’s Military Intelligence Service

On Monday, the investigative website Bellingcat identified the second suspect as Alexander Mishkin, a medical doctor working for the GRU. He is one of two intelligence officers suspected in the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, England.

Kaspersky Lab treason suspect is hospitalized in critical condition after suffering pulmonary embolism in jail — Meduza

Ruslan Stoyanov, the former Kaspersky Lab expert now on trial for treason, was recently rushed to the hospital in critical condition, after suffering a pulmonary embolism on October 1, his lawyer told the independent television network Dozhd. According to Inga Lebedeva, her client was hospitalized after repeatedly losing consciousness.

Putin’s Trust Ratings Plummet To 39% – To Inform is to Influence

One must wonder what Putin is doing to prevent Russian citizens from staging a colored revolution. I mean, besides forming up a 500,000 man Russian praetorian guard, the National Guard, which answers only to him. A quote from Eto Buziashvili:  New Levada poll shows that trust in Putin has dropped from 59% in Nov 2017 to…

Is Putin Less Popular? – To Inform is to Influence

OCTOBER 10, 2018 Source: Getty Summary:  Is Putin losing his touch? A new poll suggests that pension reform has damaged his approval ratings. WHAT’S HAPPENING? Russians’ trust in President Vladimir Putin has slumped. According to the most recent data (a September 2018 poll by the Levada Center) a disappointing 39 percent of Russians said they trusted Putin.…

U-Michigan tool measures ‘iffy’ news on social media in time for 2018 election – To Inform is to Influence

The University of Michigan Center for Social Media Responsibility unveiled a new metric titled the “Iffy Quotient,” which determines how frequently stories from the questionable sources are shared on Facebook and Twitter. The researchers tracked stories back to 2016, and found that the metric grew in the months ahead of the previous presidential election, doubling…

Foggo: U.S., NATO Naval Forces Pushing Back Against Russian Harassment – To Inform is to Influence

Notice the specific mention of the Sea of Azov. Enough is enough, Russia. Your days of mindless provocations are over. </end editorial>

The remarkable ‘cat and mouse’ operation to stop Putin’s subs attacking our vital cables – The Telegraph

Britain and America fear Vladimir Putin is prepared to cause financial chaos by attacking undersea cables between the countries and are going to extraordinary lengths to track Russian submarines, The Telegraph can reveal. US and UK military sources have told this newspaper that Russian sub activity in the North Atlantic has reached a 25-year high and there has been a return to “Cold War cat and mouse games” under the water. Amid mounting tensions with the Kremlin, the allies are using an remarkable array of modern technology and military equipment to make sure they know exactly where the submarines are as they move around the region.

Russia conducts massive exercise of its naval nuclear forces

The Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday’s maneuvers featured launches of ballistic missiles by the navy’s nuclear submarines from the Barents Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk

‘Emergency system performed great’: Soyuz reliable despite scare – cosmonaut to RT — RT World News

The safe return of the ISS crew, who had to abort their launch, proves the reliability of the Soyuz system, a cosmonaut told RT, joking that now just flight attendants and comfy seats are needed to improve the experience.

Soyuz astronauts’ emergency descent was a harrowing, high-G ordeal

A Russian Soyuz rocket malfunctioned shortly after launch, forcing two astronauts to make an emergency landing. Here’s how so-called ballistic re-entries work.

U.S. astronaut recalls terrifying Soyuz descent – Houston Chronicle

American Peggy Whitson can’t recall whether she was right-side-up or upside-down in the Russian Soyuz capsule as it dived violently through the atmosphere, smoke wafting from the controls, communication lost with the ground. The capsule fell until the lower atmosphere slowed it down, with the friction causing the vehicle to glow red-hot as outside temperatures soared several thousand degrees. […] the first of four parachutes deployed. A crew mate, Russian Yuri Malenchenko, crawled from the damaged spacecraft and contacted controllers with a satellite phone, stored in the capsule for just such an emergency. The Russians have begun an investigation into the causes of the Soyuz’s steep descent at an angle of more than 30 degrees, an approach known as a ballistic re-entry. […] of the landing, the Russian Interfax press agency, quoting unnamed officials, said the crew was in mortal danger. […] the Russians have downplayed the danger to the crew. Growing dependencyNASA is scheduled to retire the shuttle in two years. […] the space agency launches the next manned space vehicle in about 2015, the Soyuz will be the only means of transporting astronauts to the space station.

Rocket carrying space station crew fails in mid-air, crew safe: Agencies

A booster rocket carrying a Soyuz spacecraft with a Russian and U.S. astronaut on board headed for the International Space Station failed mid-air on Thursday.

Russia Suspends All Soyuz Launches After Aborted Liftoff

The head of Russia’s Roskosmos space agency says the crew of a Soyuz mission that made an emergency landing in an aborted launch on October 11 has been scheduled to go on another space mission in t…

Skripal Novichok assassins may have had an accomplice who flew in and out of UK on the same dates as two GRU spies, reports claim

A mystery third man, using the alias Sergey Fedotov, reportedly landed in London on March 2 – the same day as military intelligence agents Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov.

Revealed: Name of third Russian agent ‘sent by GRU to target Sergei Skripal’

A suspected third member of the Kremlin hit squad behind the Salisbury nerve agent attack has been named, according to a respected Russian news website.

Sailsbury poisoning: Mystery third Russian ‘travelled to UK as same time as two Novichok assassins’ – Mirror Online

A third man using the alias Sergey Fedotov is likely to have travelled to Britain with the two known GRU agents who poisoned Sergei Skripal with deadly Novichok

Ellen Barry on Twitter: “As if this whole affair wasn’t Russian enough, the second assassin sent to Salisbury to poison Sergei Skripal has the same name as the holy fool in Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot.””

Eoghan Sweeney on Twitter: “This is really poor stuff. If you’re going to make sinister insinuations about @bellingcat they should be based on something stronger than an admission that you don’t know something that can be found in 10 seconds on Google…”

Russian suspect in Skripal poisoning is hero to his home village | Canoe

LOYGA, Russia &mdash; As the recipient of Russia&rsquo;s highest award, Alexander Mishkin is the pride of his home village, his photo even decorating a local school.

British Investigator: Putin Lied About Suspects in Salisbury Poisoning – YouTube

VOA News Published on Oct 10, 2018 The founder of the British investigative group Bellingcat says Russian President Vladimir Putin lied when he said he had never met either of the two suspects in the novichok poisoning attack in England. Two Russian agents are believed to have traveled to Salisbury in March under assumed names in an attempt to poison former Russian spy Sergei Skripal. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke reports. Originally published at –

Bellingcat: The website that unmasked the suspected Salisbury poisoners – CNN

Bellingcat on Monday named the real identity of one of the Russian agents allegedly involved in the nerve agent poisonings of a former spy and his daughter.

Sense of an ending for Syria’s war on Idlib front line – BBC News

Idlib could be where President Bashar al-Assad puts down the seven-year rebellion, Jeremy Bowen says.

Syrian Rebels Withdraw Heavy Weapons to Spare Idlib From Assault – The New York Times

Turkey secured the rebels’ agreement to pull back the weaponry, staving off a Syrian government offensive on the heavily populated rebel stronghold.

White House, Turkey reach deal for release of detained US pastor: report | TheHill

The White House and Turkish officials have reached a deal for the release of an American pastor who has been detained in Turkey for two years, according to a report from NBC News.

Secret deal with Turkey paves way for American pastor’s release

The White House expects pastor Andrew Brunson to be released by the Turkish government and return to the U.S. in coming days, two years after he was detained.

Turks tell U.S. officials they have audio and video recordings that support conclusion Khashoggi was killed – The Washington Post

“You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered,” said one person familiar with the recordings.

Jamal Khashoggi: Audio, video recordings prove Saudi journalist killed in consulate, Post says – CNN

Turkey claims it has audio and video recordings proving a Saudi journalist was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul earlier this month, according to unnamed US and Turkish officials cited by the Washington Post.

Turkey says it has video, audio of missing activist’s murder at Saudi consulate, report says | Fox News

One official says the recording indicates how Khashoggi was “interrogated, tortured and then murdered.”

US senators order Magnitsky probe as Riyadh’s Capitol Hill clout plummets

New controversy threatens to roil the rocky U.S.-Saudi relationship and casts a cloud over US-Saudi defense deals.

John Brown’s Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review – To Inform is to Influence

Statement by CEO Lansing on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi Opinion: How China Challenges America’s World Leadership Nikki Haley Will Be Back – Foreign Policy Statement by CEO Lansing on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi Posted: 10 Oct 2018 02:52 PM PDT via email Image from entry: Alyssa Edling (center) and Thomas Malia (second from right)…

Statement by CEO Lansing on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi – To Inform is to Influence

Statement by CEO Lansing on the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi October 10, 2018 Alyssa Edling (center) and Thomas Malia (second from right) both with PEN America, join others as they hold signs of missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi during a news conference about his disappearance in Saudi Arabia, Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018, in front of The…

Egypt sentences 17 to death for Coptic Christian church attacks – BBC News

The sentences by a military court relate to deadly bombings in 2016 and 2017 targeting Coptic Christians.

Egyptian military court sentences 17 people to death over church bombings – CNN

An Egyptian military court sentenced 17 people to death on Thursday over their involvement in the 2016 and 2017 bombings of three churches and a police checkpoint that killed more than 80 people, according to an Egyptian news site.

Russia is suspected of deploying troops to Libya, but what’s Moscow’s play in this muddy conflict? — Meduza

Russian and Western media outlets say Moscow has been deploying troops to Libya for the past several months, reportedly to bolster one group in the country’s civil war. Russia is apparently filling a vacuum: the U.S. has effectively abandoned its efforts to intervene in the situation, and European nations are more concerned with stemming the flow of immigrants from Africa than resolving the conflict. Meduza takes a look at who’s fighting whom in Libya, and what Russia’s interests are in this messy conflict.