Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (174)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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This week appears to follow the previous trend, with more crash and burn events for Russian propagandists to explain away. POTUS in a CBS interview observes that “Probably he [Putin] is, yeah. Probably, [involved in assassinations, in poisonings]”  – Peskov explains this away with  “I wouldn’t make the assessment that Trump allowed that possibility and so on, as we’re reading in many media reports”. DEBka in Israel report Iranian crews will operate the newly delivered S-300PM/PM2 / SA-20B systems, effectively giving Israel carte blanche to annihilate the batteries. Pastukhov on the dilemmas confronting Russia’s leadership, once fiction stops selling.  Chekist regime crashing in the polls. More on Russian IW/IO. Russia in Libya – Burleigh argues this is a replay of the Syrian game, to inundate Europe with unwelcome refugees. Updates on North Atlantic, Avantgard hypersonic MaRV delayed due to sanctions, more on the Russian space program, and Inozemtsev argues that Belarus is the next invasion target, following Ukraine.

EU votes on revised CW sanctions regime, Russia expected to have more sanctions imposed. Karpichkov tells UK media that his sources believe that Mishkin was sent to the UK to assassinate former MI6 officer Steele, over the dossier, but the operation was aborted. Third member of Salisbury covert ops team to be charged. More on Bellingcat and Russian threats against the organisation’s members.

Multiple reports on S-300P in Syria, and the F-22 surge. Idlib update. Iran update. Saudi Arabia and Turkey updates.


Kremlin spokesman says, ‘linguistically speaking,’ Trump didn’t actually tell ‘60 Minutes’ that Putin poisoned anyone — Meduza

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov is unfazed by U.S. President Donald Trump telling “60 Minutes” in a new interview that Vladimir Putin is “probably, yeah” involved in assassinations and poisonings, in response to a question from journalist Lesley Stahl. “I wouldn’t make the assessment that Trump allowed that possibility and so on, as we’re reading in many media reports. Here you’ve got to be very flexible with how you read the linguistic properties. It’s clear that there couldn’t have been a different answer,” Peskov said.

Russia imports Iranian teams for S-300s in Syria – 24 launchers in all. Shocked alarm in US, Israel – DEBKAfile

DEBKA Exclusive: The US and Israel were alarmed to learn that Moscow had decided to man the S-300 anti-air missiles sent to Syria with Iranian teams, DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources report. US and Israeli intelligence agencies which brought the news to Washington and Jerusalem also reported that the Russians had begun flying the Iranian operatives over to Syria. Moscow announced the supply of S-300 air defense missiles to Syria in the wake of its row with Israel over the Russian Il-20 spy plane crash on Sept. 17. But, on the quiet, Moscow also decided that they would be operated by Iranian teams. And so Syria received the exact same air defense system that Russia sold to Iran two years ago – the S-300PMU-2 – which was installed for protecting its nuclear sites. American and Israeli military experts were caught by surprise by this discovery, but our sources reported the Russians were giving Syria outdated batteries. One of Moscow’s considerations was that Iranian crews operating the Syrian-based S-300s will be in harm’s instead of Russian teams in the event of US or Israeli aircraft making direct hits on the systems. For Israel this move has both good and bad aspects: On the one hand it will be a relief for Israeli air crews to know that when they go for Syria’s S-300 air defense batteries, they need not fear hurting Russian troops; but, on the other, by managing Syria’s air defenses, Iran further strengthens is military foothold in Syria, which the Netanyahu government is dedicated to rooting out. By the same token, Iran takes Moscow’s decision as an endorsement of its claim to a solid military presence in Syria. Shortly after DEBKAfile published this revelation on Monday, our military and intelligence sources discovered further that Russia has supplied Syria with three S-300 battalion sets, each consisting of eight launchers with 100 missiles per battalion set. They all underwent major overhauls in Russia’s arms factories. Russia has therefore deployed to Syria a total of 300 anti-air missiles – albeit outdated but in tiptop condition.

UAWire – Media: Russian S-300 systems in Syria to be operated by Iranian specialists

The S-300 anti-air missile systems which Russia has sent to Syria will be operated by Iranian specialists, a source connected to US and Israeli intelligence told DEBKAfile. The Israeli military intelligence website notes that Russia was clearly planning to let Iranians operate the anti-air defense system all along, since it sent Syria S-300PMU-2 systems, exactly the same model which Iran received from Russia in 2016. Iranian operators are currently being transferred to Syria. Russia chose to remain silent about its plans. Its choice of Iranians is likely due to reluctance to risk Russian specialists if the US and Israel decide to attack the Syrian systems. The US and Israel are concerned that Russia has made such a decision, although it has both positive and negative aspects. On the one hand, the US and Israel will be less worried about the risk of harming Russian specialists if they launch an attack on the S-300s. On the other hand, the position of Iran, one of the US and Israel’s most powerful enemies, will be greatly strengthened in Syria by controlling S-300s. In October, Russia sent three S-300 divisions to Syria, each of which includes eight launchers. The systems were delivered to Syria after maintenance and free of charge, because Russia had already been using the more modern S-400 systems. At the time, the Russian Defense Ministry said that it would take three months to train Syrian specialists.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Despite Being Illegal, Russian Private Military Companies Proliferate ‘to Make Money on War’

Paul Goble Staunton, October 12 – Despite the fading of the Vagner private military company which attracted so much attention earlier because of its increasing use of criminals rather than former military personnel, the number of private military companies in Russia is increasing rapidly in response to the Kremlin’s needs and the enormous salaries those who work in them receive. Andrey Guselnikov, a URA journalist, says that many former military personnel have broken with Vagner because of its use of criminals and of its extremely low competence, things that they say led to the serious losses its employees suffered in Syria earlier this year (ura.news/articles/1036276441). Among the new and more professional PMCs is the Patriot organization “which is close to the main administration of the General Staff” and whose personnel are made up exclusively of men with long military training and experience, the journalist continues. But it is only one of many, and the number continues to grow. According to Russian specialists on these groups, Guselnikov says, the Patriot PMC “works effectively in the countries of Africa and the Middle East already for more than a year.” They have now been asked by Serbia to work in Kosovo as well, where they will support “our Serbian comrades.” “The participation of PMCs in military conflicts is one of the components of geopolitical influence of a country in the international arena in places where official armed forces can’t be sent,” Iosif Linder, head of a global counter-terrorist organization, says. And every country has them. Russia had been lagging behind, he continues, “as a result of the lack of serious ideological propaganda and legislative action which still hasn’t been rectified to the necessary degree.” But the profitability of PMCs and their obvious utility in the Donbass and Syria is changing that. Russia has a great advantage in one regard, experts say. Its military produces a large number of highly trained military personnel and so its PMCs do not have to spend money or time on training. One someone has signed on, he is ready to go to war – and to make a great deal of money, something not unimportant in the current difficult economic situation at home. Since 2015, the number of Russian PMCs has exploded; and they have become an increasingly powerful force in the international market for their services. Last summer, one of their operatives said, American PMCs complained to President Donald Trump that Russian PMCs had taken some three billion US dollars in contracts away from them. “One of the recent examples of the successful expansion of Russian PMCs is their use in the Central African Republic” where they supplement the official military advisors Moscow has sent to the CAR government, Guselnnikov says. But the PMCs aren’t for everyone, Aleksandr Zhilin, a prominent Moscow military commentator says. Many join up out of romantic visions only to discover that the PMCs are “in fact private armies which can be used in the interests of anyone whatsoever” and often in ways that are anything but romantic. The PMC market, he says, is “a priori dirty. It is like prostitution: one may say that one bordello is cleaner than another, but it is still a bordello.” And there are real problems with working for one of these companies, Zhilin continues: there is a high probability those in them will die, they won’t get any benefits because the PMCs are beyond the legal field, and they may not even be paid what they are promised. Nonetheless, Zhilin suggests, the high pay will be enough to continue to fill their ranks even as the number of such Russian PMCs continues to expand.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Why is Putin Going to War in Yet Another Country in Africa? Russians Ask

Paul Goble Staunton, October 11 – At a time when Russians are increasingly focused on their domestic affairs instead of foreign policy and when many believe that Moscow is overextended abroad, Vladimir Putin has apparently launched a new Russian military mission in Libya, sparking a sharp debate about why he has chosen to do so especially in the current climate. The discussion in the blogosphere and in independent media outlets has become intense with many asking what could possibly be the reason for Putin’s actions in Libya. (For a survey of some of these commentaries, see rusmonitor.com/rossijjskie-vojjska-uzhe-nachali-vojjnu-v-livii-zachem-putinu-ehto-nado-the-sun.html.) The discussion has gone far beyond the question of Russia’s involvement in Libya to queries about what Russia is doing across Africa (ej.ru/?a=note&id=33007) and its implications for Russia itself, between those who say it is Putin’s repetition of the overextension that destroyed the USSR to those who insist the campaign will be self-financing (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5BBEEA3808BD5 vs. rosbalt.ru/posts/2018/10/10/1738233.html). But most important, it is a reminder that instead of seeing Putin’s adventures abroad as an assertion of Russia’s great power claims, Russians today are assessing them in terms of what they cost in terms of cutbacks at home, something ever fewer of them appear willing to tolerate even from Putin. And that in turn means that even if Putin gains a leg up on the West, it will bring him far fewer political benefits at home even as it guarantees that there will be more Western sanctions, something that will make his own position there even more difficult.

Putin’s taking over Libya in order to point a new weapon at the West, writes MICHAEL BURLEIGH | Daily Mail Online

So bloody and extensive is President Putin’s record of aggression, not least in Syria and Ukraine, that an incursion into the empty deserts of North Africa might hardly seem worth noting.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Elite Doesn’t Want a War but Can’t Retain Power and Property without One, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 12 – All of the Kremlin’s recent actions from a pension reform it didn’t have to carry out now to the replacement of governors who while loyal failed to perform adequately is part of a smoke screen behind which the Russian elite is preparing for a war that is the condition of its retention of power and property, according to Vladimir Pastukhov. The London-based Russian historian says on the “Personally Yours” program of Ekho Moskvy that the center is very much in effective control and feels self-confident at present but is looking out ten years or more to ensure that it does things now that will guarantee it is still in power then (echo.msk.ru/programs/personalnovash/2293722-echo/). At the present time, Pastukhov says, Russia “is living in a regime of preparation for war.” More than that, he continues, “we really are living in a regime of a declared war with the US and the West. This for me is perfectly obvious. And this is hardly some hybrid war but a completely normal one,” he adds. “Simply this is a post-modernist war, one where the left hand fights while the right gives the impression that nothing is taking pace. But in reality, we really live in a regime of wartime,” the historian continues. According to Pastukhov, the Russian powers that be are ‘acting in a state of a certain hysteria because they now are reaping the consequences of the steps which they made earlier, which at the time seemed to them very wise and sensible and which allowed them for four or five years to retain the idiot governors [they had installed] in their places.” The Russian rulers are playing chess like amateurs, thinking only two or three moves ahead, and not like “serious” players who think many more than that. In 2011-2012, a revolutionary situation existed in Russia which threatened to get out of hand. Those in power decided to take two steps to prevent that. On the one hand, Vladimir Putin returned to power in place of Dmitry Medvedev who wasn’t satisfying the elites. And on the other, Putin decided to win points by “kicking ass” abroad in this case with the Ukrainian “war” in order to demonstrate his opposition to any Russian following of the European trend there. The Kremlin leader used this as a clever means of mobilization and uniting the people against a common enemy, Pastukhov says. But having taken this step, Russians are now in a position where they must “pay” for it. Since that time, everything has been following exactly the same logic. The historian says that he hopes the Russian elite will turn away from the idea of going to war, but he suggests that “unfortunately,” he doesn’t believe that is likely because “the inertia is very great, and the militarization of consciousness and of all sides of the life of Russian society are going forward with gigantic steps.” That suggests in turn that the next step will be “much more serious” that just cutting out the deadwood in the power vertical as now and will involve another “small victorious war” toward either Belarus or Kazakhstan. Ukraine is out because the West has taken steps to preclude this. Any “further advance in this direction,” Pastukhov argues, “is fraught with the risk of instantly landing in a very big conflict for which as the incident with the Russian Il-20 in Syria showed, we in fact are not very prepared.” Russia can fight with armies like those of Georgia and Ukraine but not with a modern power. And because it has a nuclear arsenal, Russia can avoid fighting with anyone. “No one wants war, but no one wants to lose power either,” the historian says. “Unfortunately, these two ideas are beginning to come ever more into conflict with each other.” The Russian elite cannot retain its property unless it can retain its political power and it cannot do that without a conflict to distract other Russians from the increasing income inequality there. And because people can only be mobilized for so long by any particular goal, the powers that be have to keep raising the stakes and thus the size of the enemy to be challenged, Pastukhov says. “Do the Russian and Kremlin elites want war? Undoubtedly, no. But can they hold power without it? Also, no.” Which will win out in this contest – “greed or stupidity” – Pastukhov says is something he cannot say for certain; but the logic of what has been going on both over the past six years and of what is happening now in Russia is far from encouraging.

Putin elite can’t retain power and property without another war, Pastukhov says Euromaidan Press |

All of the Kremlin’s recent actions — from a pension reform it didn’t have to carry out now to the replacement of governors who while loyal failed to perform adequately — is part of a smoke screen behind which the Russian elite is preparing for a war that is the condition of its retention of power and property, according to Vladimir Pastukhov.

Putin broke his social contract | TheHill

Suddenly, Russian President Vladimir Putin has seen his people’s trust in him falling from an already low 59 percent in November 2017 to

Putin’s Power Ebbing, Is United Russia Panicking? – To Inform is to Influence

If Putin’s ruling party, United Russia, is unpopular and cannot retain power and authority, what are they to do? Why cheat, of course. Lie, cheat, steal, and in this case, cancel elections and try to delegitimize the probable winner’s qualifications – to disqualify him. All this does is turn “Communist wunderkind” Valentin Konovalov into a more popular folk hero and strengthen his standing in the polls. Is this indicative of a larger, more powerful problem in Russia and United Russia? </end editorial>

Thesis: Reflexive Control and Disinformation in Putin’s Wars – To Inform is to Influence

Francis King, University of Colorado at Boulder  Download Date of Award Spring 1-1-2018 Document Type: Thesis Degree Name: Master of Arts (MA) Department: Germanic & Slavic Languages & Literatures First Advisor Artemi Romanov Second Advisor Mark Leiderman Third Advisor Laura Olson Osterman Abstract The use of reflexive control (RC) and disinformation in the Russian conduct of…

Russian Information Warfare Continues, Morphing And Adapting – To Inform is to Influence

Russian information warfare is ceaselessly attacking the West, but its tactics, tools, and focus continually change as the situation morphs. We have been ‘sensitized’ to fake news, but the accusation of fake news has also become political fodder, as well, muddying the waters. Some efforts by the Russians, most specifically USAReally, have been blunted, but the Russian trolls flowed around the obstacles in the water, adapted, and adopted new sites, means of communications, and renewed their efforts to rant against the West. This is not to say older locations and methods are not being used. We still see concerted efforts to influence using Facebook and Twitter. The names change, the look differs, and the methods morph, but the efforts continue. The biggest problem remains the human factor. Humans continue to blindly forward articles without checking truthfulness, veracity, or to get corroboration. Obvious Russian troll graphics are still being circulated, some are even recycled from 2016. In the US, we lack a comprehensive strategy because we lack a dedicated focal point. This article originates in Australia, the Russian information warfare problem is indeed global. </end editorial>

Russian online interference risk a matter of debate for too many

Social media makes all of us both consumers and producers of information that can be dangerous.

Sputnik And Gareth Porter Claim Russian Information Warfare Not Effective On 2016 US Election *Cough* – To Inform is to Influence

Gareth Porter has long been considered a “useful idiot” for the Russians, writing pro-Russian articles for almost every pro-Russian outlet out there.  So when Gareth Porter writes an article claiming that Russian information warfare, mostly on social media, was not effective and did not tip the 2016 US election, I knew something was going on…

 

WW3 warning: Vladimir Putin’s nuclear submarines carry out ‘mock atomic strikes’ | World | News | Express.co.uk

THE Russian government has released terrifying footage showing a submarine carrying out a mock atomic bomb strike, in what the Ministry of Defense claim was a drill against an ‘enemy attack’.

Why the U.S. Navy Fears Russia’s Submarines | The National Interest

“You know, Russia is not 10 feet tall, but they do have capabilities that keep me vigilant, concerned.”

Russia attempting to provoke Dutch and Royal Marines in Arctic Circle 

Russian fighter jets and ships are trying to provoke British and Dutch marines on exercise in the Arctic Circle, one of the Netherlands’ most senior military officials has revealed.

Russia having trouble building hypersonic weapon Putin hyped

Russia is currently unable to find a source for the critical carbon fiber components needed for one of its hypersonic weapons, according to people with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report.

Russia hits a snag in developing a hypersonic weapon – after Putin said it was already in production – To Inform is to Influence

Russia and Putin have a credibility problem, as in a lack of credibility. Putin said Russia’s hypersonic weapon was in production but they are trying to find critical carbon fiber components to shield internal components from heat. Heat will cause failures. Another failure is not informing President Putin that Russia cannot put the hypersonic weapon into production. But perhaps Putin was told… Oops. </end editorial>

Soyuz Mishap A Reminder There’s No Alternative To Russia’s Manned Space Vehicles — For Now

A hard landing by Soyuz raises hard questions about manned space travel, and when the United States may see a viable alternative.

Memorable accident: the shame of Russian space – Газета.Ru

What is behind the disaster of the Soyuz rocket? Another failure of Roskomos during the launch of the Soyuz MS-10 rocket with two astronauts on board shows that instead of vigorous reports by Russian officials about our space power and that “America cannot do without us in space” to figure out what is happening in the domestic rocket science and the space industry as a whole.

UAWire – Russia postpones launch of reconnaissance satellite after Soyuz rocket crash

The launch of the electronic reconnaissance satellite Lotos-S using the Soyuz -2.1B rocket from  the Plesetsk cosmodrome that was scheduled for …

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Belarus Not Baltics Most Likely to Be Putin’s Next Target, Inozemtsev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 13 – Many in the West believe that Vladimir Putin will act in the future the same way he has in the past and seek to occupy part of one of the Baltic countries as he occupied part of Ukraine, Vladislav Inozemtsev says. But in fact, the Kremlin leader is constantly changing his approach and is more likely to seek to absorb Belarus than attack Narva. Those who predict a Baltic scenario, the Russian economist says, assume that Putin will try to take part of a country rather than a whole one and will seek to seize Narva because Estonia won’t be able to defend itself and “NATO will not risk coming to its help,” thus undermining the Western alliance (echo.msk.ru/blog/v_inozemcev/2294850-echo/). This Narva notion, Inozemtsev says, “directly comes from the models of Crimea and the Donbass.” Those who predict it point to Ukraine whenever they begin to talk about Russia; “but about eight years ago with similar insistence all of them spoke about Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia which lost them.” These analysts forget that there was a fundamental difference between the Georgian and the Ukrainian case. In the first, Russia “completed the detachment from a neighboring country of two territories which had declared their independence, were recognized by Moscow and were transformed into client states.” In the second, “Russia intervened in a region where before it did so there were no signs of civil war, established control over it, and after an illegitimate referendum officially included it within its borders. Moreover, both ‘losing sides’) in contrast to Latvia and Estonia were not members of NATO or the EU.” “It seems to me,” Inozemtsev says, “that [Putin] in order to stir up patriotic passions inside Russia could do so by occupying an entire country, preferably part of ‘the Russian world’ but still not included in Western alliances. And now there is only one candidate for that – Belarus.” There are some obvious reasons for that conclusion, he continues. Belarus is already part of a union state, and Putin could easily promote the annexation of Belarus as simply about enhancing the union. Many Russians would be enthusiastic, and NATO wouldn’t respond forcefully, Inozemtsev says. There is another reason Putin will likely choose Belarus as his next target, the Russian economist says. It will simplify his remaining in power. He won’t need to change the constitution and create a new set of institutions. Instead, the kremlin leader can remain in office because he will be head of a new “union” state. “The latest events in ‘the Minsk direction,’” Inozemtsev continues, “appear extremely worrisome.” Putin has sent a potential pro-consul as ambassador, and he has signaled he won’t continue to fund Lukashenka unless the latter moves in his direction, something that would make absorption easier if perhaps less necessary. In response to Moscow’s moves, “Minsk has begun a broad purge of its security organs to remove all those with any ties to Moscow, issued declarations about the inviolability of Belarusian sovereignty and accelerated the process of ‘Belarusianization’ of all sides of local life.” And while far from all Belarusians support Lukashenka’s regime, that doesn’t mean that “they are prepared to replace his power with an occupation regime.” They would likely rally around him against Moscow but lack the power to block what Putin most likely will try to carry out. Because Belarusian elections come in 2020, Moscow needs to begin acting somewhat sooner; and “it seems to me,” Inozemtsev says, “that there is every basis for expectating a sharp escalation around Belarus already next year.” If that happens, it is very unlikely that the West in general and Europe in particular will be ready and have made plans. The West at present seems “clinically incapable of calculating Moscow’s possible moves and thus will only be surprised by what happens.” That will remain the case if analysts stay trapped in the notion that Putin will move on Narva when he is far more likely to move on Minsk and seek to absorb all of Belarus.

Trump: Putin ‘probably’ involved in assassinations | TheHill

President Trump on Sunday admitted Russian President Vladimir Putin was “probably” involved in assassinations and poisonings, but those crimes were “not in our country.”

Trump Says Putin ‘Probably’ Involved In Killings | RFE/RL

U.S. President Donald Trump said in a television interview that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin “probably” has been involved in assassinations and reiterated the assertion that Mos…

New sanctions to be imposed following Salisbury nerve attack

Senior Russian politicians and bosses of their spying network could have sanctions imposed on them within months following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. The move comes as EU leaders are poised to agree a new chemical weapons sanction regime at a meeting. The UK and France are pressing for the new system to be adopted at the Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) in Luxemburg.

The Telegraph: New sanctions to be imposed following Salisbury nerve attack | UNIAN

Senior Russian politicians and bosses of their spying network could have sanctions imposed on them within months following the nerve agent attack in Salisbury. Two senior GRU officers – now identified as Colonel Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin, a military doctor – were despatched to Salisbury to carry out the nerve agent attack on March 4.

EU Ministers Approve New Chemical-Weapons Sanctions Regime

EU foreign ministers have approved a new sanctions regime targeting people and entities using chemical weapons all around the world.

UAWire – EU preparing new sanctions against Russia

On Monday, October 15, the Foreign Affairs Council of the European Union will approve a plan for new sanctions against Russia. This time …

Vladimir Putin ‘ordered novichok assassin to murder British spy behind Trump sex dossier’ – Mirror Online

EXCLUSIVE: Alexander Mishkin, 39, used the alias Alexander Petrov for the failed hit on the double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March

Vladimir Putin ‘ordered Salisbury novichok hitman to assassinate Brit spy behind Trump sex dossier’

Alexander Mishkin, 39, used the alias Alexander Petrov for the failed hit on the double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury in March

Police investigating third Russian suspect ‘who acted as lookout’ in Salisbury poisoning case 

Counter-terrorism police are investigating a third suspect in the Salisbury nerve agent attack amid suggestions he acted as look out for two Russian military intelligence assassins.

UAWire – Kremlin: London refuses to issue visas to Russian diplomats

Britain refuses to issue visas to Russian diplomats, said Russian Ambassador to London Alexander Yakovenko. “We are not able to fill these vacancies since the UK refuses to issue visas to our diplomats to arrive in the UK,” said the ambassador at the press conference when asked who will replace the diplomats expelled by London in March. According to Yakovenko, it is necessary to restore normal communication to fill the vacancies. “So far, we have seen a non-constructive position from the side of the UK government. It has hampered the work of our embassy which is now practically empty,” Yakovenko said. On March 12, British Prime Minister Theresa May said that Sergey Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by Novichok nerve agent created in the USSR in the 1970s. According to London, Russia is responsible for the poisoning of the ex-colonel of the GRU. Britain expelled 23 Russian diplomats and boycotted the FIFA World Cup 2018.

Meet The Internet Researchers Unmasking Russian Assassins : NPR

The group Bellingcat seeks to unmask covert operations, rogue groups and corruption around the globe. But can it keep its independence?

Cyber sleuth who exposed Novichok assassins’ real identities ‘targeted by Russian blackmailers and hackers’

Investigative website Bellingcat’s Christo Grozev said Moscow’s officials attempted to blackmail him about his parents’ past, threaten him and try to hack his computers

Meet Bellingcat – To Inform is to Influence

The idea of Open Source Intelligence began in the 1990s but bumped up against a deeply entrenched Intelligence Community and powerful new media corporations. One open source researcher went so far as to predict that with open source, there was no need for conventional intelligence. 20+ years later, that prediction is becoming somewhat of a reality. Bellingcat used access to VKontakte, the Russian equivalent to Facebook, and many other online databases to uncover Russian operations in Donbas, Crimea, and Syria. Bellingcat exposed the identities of Russian GRU intelligence officers attempting to assassinate Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, Russia and helped expose shoddy GRU cover procedures. 305 probable GRU agents were exposed as a result. Bellingcat and its members have been the subject constant Russian efforts to undermine their efforts, expose them, and even blackmail them. Open source intelligence is at the forefront of discovery, giving news organizations and the intelligence community a run for their money. </end editorial>

The Air Force’s The F-22 Conducted Its First-Ever ‘Combat Surge’. Here’s Why That Matters. | The National Interest

While the Pentagon didn’t specify when the three-day surge occurred, the DoD stated that the squadron faced “both enemy fighters and surface-to-air missile systems” as part of the U.S. response to the Syrian regime’s illegal use of chemical weapons back earlier this year.

Turkey and Israel better stand firm in face of Russia’s S-300 Tantrum | Ahval

In the 1980s, a Soviet joke had a Syrian general saying it was all well and good that the USSR has given him the most advanced surface-to-air (SAM) missiles, but what he really needs is surface-to-aircraft missiles. Moscow’s judgment of Syrian air defence, and broader military , incompetence has changed little since then. On Sept. 17, however, the Syrian strategy of panicking and haphazardly firing off dozens of SAMs in all directions long after an air attack had ceased finally paid off. Unfortunately, the plane they downed was a Russian Il-20, killing more than a dozen Russian servicemen. While the incident did take place during an Israeli air raid on a Syrian missile factory transferring weapons to Hezbollah, the accident had nothing to do with Israel and everything to do with Russian and Syrian incompetence. Israel even dispatched the commander of its air force, Amikam Norkin, to brief the Russians on what had actually transpired. Despite all this, the Russian Ministry of Defence, in a multimedia presentation that rejected the laws of time, space, truth, and basic logic, pinned the blame on Israel, and vowed to finally make good on its threat to deliver the more modern S-300 SAM system to Syria. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu promised to provide Automatic Control Systems to the Syrians to improve air defences and the ability to identify Russian aircraft, and threatened to “jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems of combat aircraft, which attack targets in Syrian territory,” deploying electronic warfare equipment like the Krasukha-4 for such purposes. However, there is little reason to take these Russian threats seriously . A tried-and-tested method of Russian propaganda is to ignore chronology and repackage plans and actions planned long in advance, or actually ongoing, as a response to external aggression. For instance, Russian electronic warfare has been a persistent problem since it intervened in Syria. The Krasukha-4 was in fact deployed to Russia’s Khmeimim airbase in 2015. Russia’s threatened response, as always, is merely a description of what it has been doing for years, even if it really has deployed yet more systems. Likewise, Russia has presented its partnership with Turkey’s sworn enemy, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Syria, as an effort to fight Islamic State (ISIS), though this relationship is decades old . The S-300 delivery is an even more egregious example.

Saudi Envoy Doubts S-300 Deliveries Will Help to Solve Syrian Conflict – Sputnik International

AMMAN (Sputnik) – Saudi Ambassador in Jordan Khalid bin Turki Saud has shared with Sputnik his opinion that the S-300 air defense systems that Russia has delivered to Syria in light of the Il-20 downing will not help settle the Syrian crisis and reach stability in the region.

Report: Russia Says It Gave S-300 to Syria for Free

Russia supplied Syria with three S-300 anti-aircraft battalion sets free of charge, Russia’s state news agency TASS reported.

S-300 missile systems deployed for Astrakhan drills (video)

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:00 P.M.) – Units of the Russian Aerospace Forces tested the S-300PM surface-to-air missile system in combat drills in the Ashuluk

Deadline passes for Syria’s Idlib buffer without fighters leaving | News | Al Jazeera

Armed groups were supposed to withdraw from the buffer as a final condition to implementing a Russian-Turkish agreement.

Russia News: Jihadists call Russia ‘occupying force’ before final fight for Idlib | World | News | Express.co.uk

RUSSIA was called an “occupying force” by a jihadist group in a statement that they released during the “buffer” period before the final fight between rebels and government forces over the final rebel stronghold of Idlib.

Shells fired from Syria buffer zone, soldiers killed: SOHR | Battle for Idlib News | Al Jazeera

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says rebels, government forces exchanged fire, violating deal to remove heavy arms.

US wants “regime change” in Iran, Rouhani says

The Iranian president has described the Trump administration as “spiteful.”

Rouhani: Trump administration most ‘spiteful’ to Iran in 40 years | TheHill

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday accused the United States of seeking regime change in his country, despite the Trump administration insisting otherwise.

Iran’s President Rouhani insists that Trump is out for ‘regime change’ – Business Insider

Tensions have increased between Iran and America after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a multi-lateral agreement on Iran’s nuclear program in May.

Member Of Iranian Military Arrested Over Ahvaz Parade Attack

Iranian authorities have arrested a member of the country’s military in connection with last month’s deadly attack on a military parade in the city of Ahvaz, local media report.

Al-Qaeda Affiliate Reportedly Using Iran As Transit Point For Banned Exports

An Al-Qaeda-linked militant group is using Iran as its main transit point for illegal charcoal exports from Somalia, enabling the group to earn millions of dollars in profits, a report to the UN Se…

Foiled Paris bomb plot raises fears that Iran is planning attacks in Europe – The Washington Post

Intelligence officials say Tehran is stepping up contingency to strike at its enemies, including in the United States.

Macron says it’s unclear who in Iran ordered French bomb plot | Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday it was not clear whether a foiled attack on a Paris-based Iranian opposition group was ordered by the higher echelons of authorities in Tehran.

Serbia Ends Visa-Free Travel For Iranians, Citing ‘Abuses’ By Some

Serbia has scrapped visa-free entry for Iranians little more than year after it was introduced out of concern that some Iranians were using the system as an avenue to permanently relocate to Europe.

A Royal Saudi Mess – WSJ

The disappearance of a journalist could mean a crisis in U.S.-Saudi ties.

Saudi Arabia promises to retaliate over any sanctions – YouTube

CNN Published on Oct 14, 2018 Saudi Arabia is promising to retaliate against any sanctions over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance. #CNN #News

Saudi missing journalist: White House says U.S. “energy boom” can cover “shortfalls” if Saudi Arabia slows oil production over Jamal Khashoggi claims – CBS News

Trump's economic adviser says U.S. &quot;energy boom&quot; can &quot;cover any shortfalls&quot; if Saudis cut oil flow over missing journalist accusation

Saudi Arabia Begins Internal Probe Into Khashoggi Disappearance – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia has begun an internal investigation into the disappearance of a prominent journalist at its Istanbul consulate and could hold people accountable if the evidence warrants it, according to a Saudi official.

Opinion | If a Prince Murders a Journalist, That’s Not a Hiccup – The New York Times

In the end, Saudi Arabia played Kushner, Trump and his other American acolytes for suckers.

Trump Vows ‘Very Powerful’ Punishment If Saudi Arabia Killed Jamal Khashoggi | NBC Nightly News – YouTube

NBC News Published on Oct 13, 2018 While the president said Saudi Arabia will pay if they are found to be behind Khashoggi’s death, he also said that he does not want to lose a multi-billion dollar arms deal with the country.

Saudi Stocks Plunge as Trump Vows Punishment Over Khashoggi Fate – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabian equities slumped on concern the U.S. may take measures against the kingdom if it’s linked to the disappearance of Washington Post writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mohammed bin Salman doesn’t care about the world’s fury

Jamal Khashoggi is very likely dead, and the Saudi government is very likely responsible. In turn, much of the international community is strongly condemning Saudi Arabia. So, why is crown prince and de facto Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman seemingly so unconcerned with the world’s fury?

The Tragedy of Jamal Khashoggi – POLITICO Magazine

The sad irony of the Saudi journalist’s disappearance: His fate may seal that of the reckless leader he criticized.

Khashoggi Apple Watch claim debunked – YouTube

CNN Published on Oct 13, 2018 CNN’s Becky Anderson explains why it is unlikely that there is a recording of the alleged killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi may have been transmitted using his Apple Watch. #CNN #News

Khashoggi’s Apple Watch may have recorded evidence, Turkish media reports | Fox News

 

IMF Christine Lagarde on Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance, Saudi Arabia

“I have to conduct the business of IMF in all corners of the world, and with many governments,” said Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund. “When I visit a country, I always speak my mind.”

Pentagon’s former top intelligence official on Khashoggi: “There has to be consequences” – CBS News

The Pentagon's former top intelligence official said the Trump administration must send a clear message about its position as more facts are known in the case of the missing journalist

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is missing: His bizarre disappearance, explained – Vox

US and Turkish officials fear the Saudi journalist may have been killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudis discussed plan to lure journalist to Saudi Arabia – CNNPolitics

The US has intercepts of Saudi officials discussing a plan to lure journalist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him, according to a US official familiar with the intelligence.

Jamal Khashoggi disappearance: UN chief demands ‘truth’ – BBC News

The secretary general fears disappearances like that of Jamal Khashoggi may be the “new normal”.

Turkey has video evidence of journalist’s killing in Saudi consulate, source says – YouTube

Turkish authorities have audio and visual evidence that shows journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul just over a week ago, a source familiar with the ongoing investigation told CNN. #CNN #News

Will you work for a murderer? That’s the question a host of ex-generals, diplomats and spies may soon face. – The Washington Post

Is Saudi Arabia’s supposed friendship worth shrugging off the ensnaring and killing of a critic?

Turkey Renames U.S. Embassy Street After Malcolm X Following Request From President Erdogan

The Turkish government voted to rename the street on which a future U.S. embassy will sit after American civil rights leader Malcolm X.

Turkey renames new US embassy street ‘Malcolm X Avenue’ | World news | The Guardian

Move coincides with a period of fraught relations between Turkey and the US and comes after other politically charged name changes to streets in Ankara

Trump welcomes released pastor to White House – POLITICO

“From a Turkish prison to the White House in 24 hours. That’s not bad,&quot; the president quipped.

Pastor Brunson, freed from Turkey, to meet with Trump upon return to US, president says | Fox News

U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson was released and flown out of Turkey Friday, and is expected to land in the U.S. at around noon Saturday, according to reports.

Turkey Frees Pastor Andrew Brunson, Easing Tensions With U.S. – The New York Times

Turkey’s decision to release Mr. Brunson ended a 24-month standoff and signaled a truce of sorts in a dispute between Ankara and Washington.

Turkey Frees U.S. Pastor in Move Long Sought by Trump and Pence – Bloomberg

A Turkish court set free U.S. pastor Andrew Brunson after holding him in prison for almost two years, removing a key source of tension between Turkey and the United States.

Andrew Brunson, American pastor detained in Turkey, is freed, sentenced to time served | Fox News

Andrew Brunson, the American pastor who was imprisoned and then placed under house arrest in Turkey over his alleged ties to an outlawed group, was ordered freed on Friday and sentenced to time served, a Turkish judge ruled.

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