Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (181)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The INF remains the main focus of the Russian propaganda machine  – Belousov becoming a tabloid star over the weekend. Former Pres Gorbachev pens an oped for the NYT. A veritable deluge of complaints from Western arms control advocates. A choice POTUS comment from a recent rally.

Dr. Shevtsova’s little essay on Russia’s self-determined path down the abyss is a must read item. More on Russia’s social media influence campaigns, and how social media giants wilfully ignored complaints after Russia ramped up its toxic effort in early 2014 – letting the crocodile satiate itself eating distant little countries no longer applies in the information age. Update on Butina case. Updates on Trident Juncture 2018 and Baltics. Russia despairs over the prospect of Georgia and Ukraine accession to NATO. Update on GRU embarrassments.

Iran, Syria, Turkey and Saudi updates.


Lavrov Says Moscow Preparing Answers To U.S. Nuclear-Treaty Concerns

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said Moscow was drafting responses to a list of questions recently presented by the United States concerning a key Cold War-era arms control treaty.

UAWire – Lavrov: US gave Russia the list of complaints on Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

The US, before announcing its plans to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, presented Russia with a list of …

‘Russia Prepares for War, US Prepares a War’ – Diplomat on INF Treaty Withdrawal – Sputnik International

Russian diplomat Andrei Belousov confirmed Friday that Russia is preparing to defend its territory against any aggression, while the unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty by the US signals that Washington is preparing for such aggression.

UAWire – Kremlin: USA prepares a war and Russia is preparing for it

The U.S. is “preparing a war,” said the deputy head of the Department of Nonproliferation and Arms Control of the Russian Foreign Ministry Andrei Belousov at the UN General Assembly. According to him, Washington recently accused Russia of preparing a war. But, as Belousov stressed, Russian citizens are preparing to defend their homeland, its territorial integrity, its principles and people. Moscow and the United States have significant differences in this matter, he noted, including “in the linguistic sense”. “This difference lies in just one word, that both in Russian and in English: the Russian Federation is preparing for a war, and the United States is preparing a war,” RIA Novosti quotes Belousov as saying. “Otherwise, why would the United States withdraw from the treaty, build up its nuclear potential and adopt a new nuclear doctrine?” Belousov added Belousov also accused the UN General Assembly of falling to consider the draft resolution submitted by Russia which aimed to protect the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Russia says it is ‘preparing for war’ over the US withdrawal from landmark missile treaty  | Daily Mail Online

Senior Russian arms control official Andrei Belousov made the declaration after Russia lost a vote at the UN to gather support from other nations for the landmark treaty.

World War 3: Russia issues OMINOUS warning over US withdrawal from INF Treaty | World | News | Express.co.uk

A LEADING Russian official has warned that Russia is preparing for war in the wake of the US’s unilateral withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), in a sign of growing tensions between the two foes.

Russian Saber Rattling At UN, “Russia Is Preparing For War” – To Inform is to Influence

In classic Russian bravado, a Russian official unofficially declared that Russia is “preparing for war”. This, after Russia lost a vote for a Russian-authored draft resolution supporting the INF, blaming the United States. In response, the Russian Andrei Belousov, deputy head of the Department of Nonproliferation and Arms Control at the Russian Foreign Ministry, spouted these bellicose words. This is not Russia’s official position but serves a useful purpose of inspiring the more passionate Russian public. The sensationalistic press, of course, ate it up and used it as a headline. More mature and less tabloid publications tucked the story away.  The source for this story is the Western Journal, which is commonly considered a pro-Russian publication. When and if Maria Zakharova, Russian MFA sovok spokesperson, Russian MFA Minister Sergei Lavrov, President Putin, or the Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov were to use those words there would be a need to worry.  Otherwise, these words can be officially ignored as blather.</end editorial>

The Abolition of Nuclear Abolitionism? – by Stephen Cohen — RT Op-ed

President Trump’s withdrawal from the INF Treaty nullifies a historic precedent.

‘Russian, Chinese Challenge Is Not to Respond to US in Kind’ – Ex Diplomat – Sputnik International

Russia is preparing to defend itself against aggression while Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the INF Treaty signals that the US is readying for a war, according to Andrei Belousov, a top Russian Foreign Ministry official. Sputnik talked this over with Tony Kevin, a former Australian diplomat and author of the book “Return to Moscow.”

‘Nuclear Warheads in Your Backyard’: Germans on INF Treaty’s Possible Collapse – Sputnik International

President Trump earlier expressed readiness to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, accusing Russia of allegedly breaching it. Moscow has denied the accusations, with Russian President Vladimir Putin warning Washington against deploying US missiles in Europe and promising a “swift and effective response.”

Opinion | Mikhail Gorbachev: A New Nuclear Arms Race Has Begun – The New York Times

President Trump says he plans to withdraw from a nonproliferation treaty that I signed with Ronald Reagan. It’s just the latest victim in the militarization of world affairs.

US Withdrawal From INF Treaty Means Announcement of New Arms Race – Gorbachev – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Donald Trump’s decision to scrap the INF Treaty with Russia means an announcement of a new nuclear arms race but it is not too late to resolve differences at the negotiating table, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said in an opinion piece published in The New York Times.

A new arms race has begun – Gorbachev on Trump’s INF pullout plan — RT World News

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has lashed out at American plans to withdraw from the crucial INF Treaty that he signed with Ronald Reagan 30 years ago. It means a new arms race is on, he says, and Russia must not give up.

Donald Trump Made a ‘Dire Threat to Peace’ and Started ‘New Arms Race,’ Warns Mikhail Gorbachev

The former Russian leader’s New York Times op-ed explains why he believes the Trump administration’s approach to international arms agreements is dangerous.

Mattis Attempts to Sell US Exit From INF Treaty to EU Allies – Sputnik International

US President Donald Trump earlier announced that Washington would be withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, citing alleged violations by Moscow. Russia has firmly denied the accusations and expressed regret at the decision.

Who will save us from America? Trump’s INF withdrawal is a neocon dream & global nightmare — RT Op-ed

Washington’s vow to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty poses again the question: Who will save us from America?

INF treaty: Putin shrugs off Trump’s nuclear arms move – BBC News

Russia’s president appears to relish mirroring President Trump’s decision to scrap the INF treaty.

Russia Violates INF, ‘Aghast’ US May Withdraw, Putin Jokes US “Picked All The Olives” And Only Has Arrows – To Inform is to Influence

Russia acts shocked that the US may withdraw from the INF. Secretly they are probably sniggering that the US is the only country seemingly restrained by a piece of paper.

Mattis: Talks with Europe on U.S. withdrawal from arms pact yield no alternatives – The Washington Post

The Pentagon chief consulted allies more than two weeks before President Trump announced he planned to withdraw the United States from the bilateral pact.

Mattis says in close contact with European allies on INF treaty | Reuters

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Saturday that the United States was in close contact with allies in Europe about the INF treaty and its implications for the region.

Mattis looks to calm European allies nervous about INF treaty – Business Insider

Trump has said the US would quit the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty signed by Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in 1987.

Opinion | Why We Should Keep the I.N.F. Treaty – The New York Times

A professor of international relations lists three reasons.

A better way to confront Russia’s nuclear menace | TheHill

The INF Treaty was a landmark achievement that diminished nuclear risks for decades; we must keep the US safe as Russia seeks new nuclear capabilities.

Why dropping the INF Treaty is a terrible idea – The Washington Post

Abandoning it will open the door to a new arms race.

Trump’s latest blunder: Withdrawal from the US-Russian INF Treaty | TheHill

Greg Thielmann says a smarter approach would be to get serious about addressing the compliance concerns raised by each side.

No, Trump Has Not Started a Nuclear Arms Race With INF Pullout « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the United States a new arms race would provoke a “quick and effective” Russian response and threatened NATO’s members. Democrat leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives predict an increased risk of “an unconstrained nuclear arms race.” Is it true? Has President Trump fired the first shot in a Cold War-style nuclear arms race by withdrawing from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF)? Evidence from the Cold War and after indicates the answer is: likely not. A nuclear arms race between the United States and Russia would indeed be exhausting, diversionary, and pointless. And to hear critics of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from a Cold War era arms control treaty on Saturday, one would think Trump has singlehandedly doomed the United States to a dystopian future where nuclear weapons are unrestricted and America races Russia in an endless cycle of action-reaction that will only end in a mushroom cloud. Or politicians and activists are trying to give Americans an early case of the Halloween spooks. Except there is no “treat” associated with this trick. But before members of my (much maligned) Millennial generation organize a protest to raise awareness, or try to get #SavetheINFTreaty trending on Twitter, please consider the following. The INF Treaty, signed in 1987 by Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev, in essence eliminated a whole class of land-based intermediate range weapons and banned any further production, flight-testing, or deployment. (Air- and sea-launched weapons were never affected; nor were shorter-range tactical weapons or longer-range strategic weapons; and China was never a party to the treaty at all). Unfortunately, the United States and Russia let the on-site inspection tools associated with the INF Treaty expire in 2001 when relations appeared on the mend as a bright young ruler had recently taken control of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin. With no more on-site inspections to worry about, Russia reportedly began violating INF Treaty about ten years ago by flight-testing an illegal ground-launched cruise missile, and has not looked back since. Russia has also reportedly moved ahead on multiple nuclear programs with no current or apparent prospective U.S. equivalent including: a heavy (up to 10 nuclear warheads) ICBM, a nuclear-powered missile, and a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo. No, Trump did not start a nuclear arms race, Putin did – with malice aforethought. Withdrawing from the INF Treaty, after years of Russian denials and obfuscation, simply recognizes this important reality. The Treaty has been dead for a long time. Even if Russia were to say they were back in compliance, the U.S. could not legally verify their claims with on-site inspections.

Do we really need nuclear treaties? – BBC News

With the US pulling out of a key treaty with Russia, should we be worried about nuclear war?

Putin invited to Washington by John Bolton “after the first of the year” – CBS News

The national security adviser invited Putin for a visit in 2019 for &quot;basically a full day of consultations&quot;

Donald Trump invites Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington

The Trump administration has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin for a visit to Washington in early 2019.

Kremlin calls upcoming Putin-Trump meeting “synchronization of positions” | UNIAN

Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov says the upcoming meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump to be held in Paris on November 11 is aimed at synchronizing their positions. The presidents of the United States and Russia have a lot of issues that require exchanging views, Peskov said.

Trump: Worst thing that ever happened to Russia is when I won election | UNIAN

U.S. President Donald Trump says his 2016 election victory was “the worst thing” that ever happened to Russia. However, Trump thinks it’s not a bad idea to try to build relationships with Russia, as well as other countries.

UAWire – Russia tests mobile anti-satellite system

The Russian information agency Interfax reports with reference to a source in the Russian Ministry Defense that Russia tested the Tirada-2S, a …

Lilia Shevtsova: Gutting Russia – To Inform is to Influence

This well composed and superbly written article by Lilia Shevtsova shines the light on internal Russia as well as listing numerous Russian international misdeeds. If this weren’t so tragic, this would be a comedy. The article does something rarely done in the Russian media, it is meticulously referenced with links to articles about the allegation. This, alone, sets it apart. The examples of Russian governmental gross incompetence and overreach, however, reveal a Russian state ripe for implosion, collapsing upon itself. This, however, according to the article, is not possible, because “what is rotting cannot collapse”. An internal explosion of widespread revolt is not possible, the Russian government formed the Russian National Guard and heavily invested in new toys specifically designed to crush popular unrest. Not mentioned in the article is crushing efforts by the government to saturate the common folk with propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, and fake news. Some estimate that 80% of the Russian Information Warfare program is aimed inward, internally, toward the Russian people. If you think it’s bad here in the West, I would hate to be living in Russia. This is bad news for Russia, no matter how you look at it. Russia is being gutted by its own incompetence. Russia’s incompetence prevents it from rising like a phoenix out of the ashes. This appears to be a slow and steady approach to yet another 1991 collapse. Russia, however, appears to be determined to do everything possible to speed its own demise. </end editorial>

Lilia Shevtsova: Gutting Russia – The Russian Reader

Lilia Shevtsova Facebook September 27, 2018 Gutting the State “They are crazy!” we wail as we gaze at the regime’s latest stunts. “What stupidity!” the commentators exclaim in horror as they compile the Kremlin’s list of shame: raising the retirement age; a high-ranking silovik threatening to kill Navalny in a duel; the fiasco of the so-called Salisbury tourists; vote rigging in the Maritime Territory; the Russian fighter plane shot down by the Syrians with our own rocket; the hole in our spaceship, patched up with epoxy; threats to ban use of the US dollar in Russia; more lies about Malaysian Airlines Flight 17; and Navalny’s latest arrest.

Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin badmouths those lousy Americans — Meduza

On October 25, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin delivered a thoroughly anti-American speech at the Ninth Eurasian Economic Forum, arguing that sanctions have become “an outrage” and a “routine tool” in Washington’s non-economic and extra-legal competitive tactics. Sechin also implied that U.S. sanctions might be part of a protectionist scheme to help local manufacturers. The United States has gotten used to playing the role of oil-market regulator, Sechin said, warning that Washington is now guided by vested interests. America was once the world’s economic engine, Sechin said, but it’s become the brakes today, and Washington only seeks the temporary and one-sided benefits of protectionism. And there’s more: U.S. actions around the world are destabilizing other oil-producing countries and spreading uncertainty, Sechin said, before warning that this could raise the price of oil from its current “comfortable” level. Sechin also said people put too much hope in shale oil and electric cars, and he claimed that Russia will maintain its oil market dominance for another 15 years.

Russian disinformation on Facebook targeted Ukraine well before the 2016 U.S. election – The Washington Post

Activists, officials and journalists from countries who reported abuses years earlier say Facebook took little or no action, according to an investigation for a new documentary. By Dana Priest , James Jacoby and Anya Bourg | Frontline PBS October 28 at 9:00 AM KIEV, Ukraine — In the spring of 2015, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was desperate for Mark Zuckerberg’s help. His government had been urging Facebook to stop the Kremlin’s spreading of misinformation on the social network to foment distrust in his new administration and to promote support of Russia’s invasion and occupation of parts of Ukraine. To get Zuckerberg’s attention, the president posted a question for a town hall meeting at Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters. There, a moderator read it aloud. “Mark, will you establish a Facebook office in Ukraine?” the moderator said, chuckling, according to a video of the assembly. The room of young employees rippled with laughter. But the government’s suggestion was serious: It believed that a Kiev office, staffed with people familiar with Ukraine’s political situation, could help solve Facebook’s high-level ignorance about Russian information warfare. “You know, over time it’s something that we might consider,” the chief executive responded. “So thank you for — the Ukrainian president — for writing in. I don’t think we’ve gotten that one before.” In the three years since then, officials here say the company has failed to address most of their concerns about Russian online interference that predated similar interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The tactics identified by officials, such as coordinated activity to overwhelm Facebook’s system and the use of impostor accounts, are the same as in the 2016 contest — and continue to challenge Facebook ahead of next month’s midterm elections. “I was explicitly saying that there are troll factories, that their posts and reposts promoted posts and news that are fake,” Dmytro Shymkiv, then deputy minister of the presidential administration, said he told Facebook executives in June 2015. “They are promoted on your platform. By very often fake accounts. Have a look.”

How Russia, China and Iran spread propaganda in the US

Russia, China and Iran have taken different approaches in their disinformation campaign targeting the U.S., according to experts and American officials.

Mail bomb suspect made numerous references on Facebook to Russian associates and echoed pro-Kremlin views – The Washington Post

The now deleted Facebook account belonging to Cesar Sayoc, the man charged with sending pipe bombs to prominent Democrats this week, discussed his “Russian brothers” and posted video links aligned with Russian views on the Syrian war. Sayoc’s Russian-themed discussions began abruptly in 2015. But the meaning and motive of the posts, many of them rambling and hard to understand, are not clear. The Washington Post obtained the posts from a researcher who collected them before Facebook deleted the account.

Mail bomb suspect made numerous references on Facebook to Russian associates and echoed pro-Kremlin views – Los Angeles Times

Cesar Sayoc, 56, a vocal supporter of President Trump who was arrested in Florida on Friday and charged with multiple federal crimes, apparently spoke of his “Russian brothers” on a Facebook page on several occasions in 2015.

Mail bomb suspect mentioned Russian associates and echoed pro-Kremlin views – NZ Herald

A now-deleted Facebook account belonging to Cesar Sayoc discussed his ‘Russian brothers’.

Mariia Butina studied U.S. groups’ cyberdefenses

Butina’s college assignment called for her to gather information on the cyberdefenses of U.S. nonprofit organizations that champion media freedom and human rights, The Associated Press has learned. It was carried out for the nonprofit group Internews, which works extensively with the U.S. government to bolster the free flow of information in dangerous…

Russian held as agent studied US groups’ cyberdefenses – ABC News

Maria Butina studied the cyberdefenses of U.S. nonprofit organizations.

The Russia Investigations: The U.S. Launches A Digital Offensive — Gently : NPR

The NSA and U.S. Cyber Command can exercise near-godlike omniscience over the Internet. A recent report from The New York Times provides some insight into what they’re doing with it.

DFN:TRIDENT JUNCTURE 2018 – Prime Minister Visits Norwegian Troops NORWAY 10.27.2018 – YouTube

Defense Flash News Premiered 6 hours ago

Trident Juncture In Norway – YouTube

UATV English Published on Oct 27, 2018 In Norway, the largest peacetime NATO exercise called “Trident Juncture” is underway.

🇳🇴🇩🇪 NATO military drills: Germany sends largest contingent | Al Jazeera English – YouTube

Al Jazeera English Published on Oct 29, 2018 The German army has sent its top brigade to lead the NATO’s biggest military exercises since the Cold War. About 50,000 personnel from all 29 NATO allies are taking part, along with partners Finland and Sweden.

WW3 Threat: Ex-Navy leader reveals true warning to Putin’s Russia | World | News | Express.co.uk

THE former head of the British Navy has said huge NATO war games in the Arctic will put a halt to Russian efforts to “destabilise” the region.

US troops in Iceland NATO’s war games drank all beer Iceland Reykjavík – Business Insider

They reportedly preferred local beers over imports and were willing to sample different microbrews as well as the more popular standard lagers.

Reykjavik drunk dry by 7,000 US troops who descended on the Icelandic capital after NATO exercise | Daily Mail Online

A significant number of the bars were forced to make emergency beer runs after the U.S. soldiers left their mark on the capital after the largest NATO military exercise since the Cold War.

Armed and Ready: Ramstein receives largest ammo shipment in years > U.S. Air Force > Article Display

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) — The 86th Munitions Squadron on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, received its largest shipment of ordnance in recent history. Approximately 100 containers with a variety of munitions rolled into Ramstein during the month of October. Master Sgt. David Head, 86th MUNS Munitions Operations section chief, noted that a delivery of such magnitude has not taken place since the late 20th century. “This is the largest shipment of its kind since Operation Allied Force, which took place in 1999,” he said, referring to a 78-day campaign where aircraft flew 900 sorties to counter ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe. “The munitions that we received will be used for future theater operations and the evolving U.S. European Command presence.” Master Sgt. Arthur Myrick, 86th MUNS munitions flight chief, added that the stockpile would be used to support NATO’s European Deterrence Initiative and augment the Air Force’s War Reserve Materiel in Europe. According to officials, EDI aims to increase responsiveness and readiness by pre-positioning ammunition, fuel and equipment to enhance the U.S. Department of Defense’s ability to provide a rapid response against threats made by aggressive actors. Myrick expounded on the importance of his squadron’s role in the Air Force’s global operations. “We’re a major airlift hub for U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, so our main job is to get munitions where they need to be on time,” he said. “These are real-world munitions to fulfill real-world objectives. That’s the reason we are downloading these things: to make sure we have the capability to move the fight forward if need be.” Head and Myrick both praised the work of their Airmen and thanked other local units for assisting in the historic shipment. Whether it’s taking unloading large shipment of bombs, or delivering small-arms ammunition to warfighters downrange, Airmen of the 86th MUNS expressed their commitment to making their impact felt wherever the Air Force flies.

NATO’s tanks fleet shows firepower near Russian border – Defence Blog

Battle Groups Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland participated in exercise Iron Tomahawk in the Camp Adazi Training Area outside Riga and near the Russian border. According to officials of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia, this tank concentration showcased the firepower, interoperability, and lethality of heavy armour capability along its Eastern flank. The soldiers with their battle tanks from Germany, Spain, Poland, U.K. and the U.S. took part in gunnery shoot-off between the enhanced Forward Presence nations at the military exercise Iron Tomahawk at Adazi Training Area, Latvia. In exercises took part 17 tanks, included modern Abrams, Leopard-2, Challenger-2, and Polish PT-91 Twardy. The Adazi Training Area an hour’s drive to the Russian border and Belarus, an ally of Moscow. Parts of the Adazi training grounds are also protected nature territories.

A New Law In Latvia Aims To Preserve National Language By Limiting Russian In Schools : NPR

Many Latvians believe they need to protect themselves against cultural and political assimilation by their giant neighbor. But the country’s Russian speakers say the new law is discriminatory.

Estonia is still clearing thousands of World War II mines from its waters – The Washington Post

Here’s what it looks like to dispose of just one of the 80,000 mines still floating in the Baltic Sea.

Russian MFA: Ukraine’s accession to NATO “possible” | UNIAN

Ukraine and Georgia’s accession to NATO is possible, according to Director of the Department of European Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Andrei Kelin. This would become a colossal military, economic problem for Russia, according to the diplomat. Ukraine and Georgia’s accession to NATO is possible, according to Director of the Department of European Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Andrei Kelin. This would become a colossal economic problem for Russia, he said, according to an UNIAN correspondent in Russia. The diplomat said the first wave of “NATO expansion” had formulated key principles and requirements for aspiring members, and there is an provision among them to resolve territorial disputes and conflicts. “In the current situation, neither of the two countries complies with these principles, but the attitude toward these principles is changing. We see this in the example of the latest extensions, especially in Montenegro. More is being done to please the political expediency of Western countries,” Kelin said. “They began to approach these principles very flexibly. What will happen if Ukraine and Georgia join NATO? For us, this will be a colossal military and economic problem,” he said. According to him, the Russian side will have to “build a defensive belt near our third capital, Sochi,” which will require spending “enormous resources to prevent possible actions by a conditional enemy.” Kelin stressed such spending is “inevitable” and also relates to Ukraine. “The length of the Ukrainian border is colossal – it is not equipped at all and we will have to build defensive echelons there… in relation to Ukraine,” Kelin said. According to him, the situation “does not dictate that this can happen in the near future, but if these relations have been launched and if our Western once-used-to-be-partners follow the path of further confrontation, this can happen and we will have to prepare for this very seriously,” the Russian diplomat said.

Russian spy agency GRU appears to reveal details of operatives’ children in latest blunder

For a country with an average life expectancy barely above 70, the existence of a hundred centurions living in two hostels in northwest Moscow appeared suspicious. So suspicious, says a new report, the Russian pension fund ordered an investigation. Dead souls, after all, have long been a profitable business for local criminals and novelists. The report, published on Friday by a publication funded by Kremlin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky, says the pension fund investigation was shut down on the orders of the Russian Ministry of Defence. What the probe had inadvertently revealed, it claimed, were the names and personal details of the children of military intelligence agents.

Russia’s GRU provides crypto twist to Mueller investigation | Asia Times

The Mueller probe into possible links between Trump family and Moscow claims Russian intelligence mined its own crypto to launder money for US operations

As Israel Targets Iran in Syria, U.S. Officials Warn of Reprisals – WSJ

Israel is conducting a military campaign across Syria against Iran-backed militia groups, an effort that has been encouraged by the White House but aroused the concern of many U.S. military officials.

Iran Moves to Shelter Millions as U.S. Sanctions Bite – WSJ

As Iran braces for U.S. sanctions that target its financial lifeline—oil sales—it is resorting to a series of extraordinary steps including increasing government handouts to insulate the country’s increasingly restive working class.

Trump on verge of caving to Europeans on Iran, breaking ‘maximum pressure’ promise

President Trump has promised to apply “maximum economic pressure” on Iran’s terrorist regime, but there are increasing indications that he is on the verge of caving to Europeans by allowing Iran to maintain its connection to a crucial banking network that gives it access to international markets.

Israel says Iran is behind rocket barrage from Gaza – CNN

An Israeli military spokesman on Saturday accused Iran of orchestrating a rocket barrage from Gaza into Israel, saying Gaza militants were carrying out the launches “under guidance, instructions and incentives” given by the Islamic Republic.

🇮🇱🇴🇲Netanyahu visits Oman, says opposing Iran unites Gulf and Israel l Al Jazeera English – YouTube

Al Jazeera English Published on Oct 27, 2018 Benjamin Netanyahu has made the first official visit to Oman by an Israeli leader in 24 years. The visit comes three days after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas visited the Gulf nation and is a sign of warming relations between Israel and many of the Gulf states. The improved relationship between Israel and many of its Arab neighbours is expected to increase pressure on the Palestinian leadership to cooperate with US President Donald Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Israeli prime minister said that mutual opposition to Iran has brought Israel closer to the Gulf Arab countries, while Iran criticised the visit, saying that Israel was seeking to create divisions among Muslim countries.

Facebook Deletes Iran-Linked Accounts Followed By 1 Million In U.S., Britain

Facebook says it has deleted accounts originating in Iran that featured posts on politically divisive topics and attracted more than 1 million followers in Britain and the United States.

Istanbul Summit Ends With Call For UN-Backed Process To End Syrian War

The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France, and Germany have reiterated calls for a UN-backed political process to end the war in Syria that has killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Russia, Germany, France and Turkey call for lasting ceasefire, constitutional meeting for Syria | Reuters

The leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Turkey stressed the importance on Saturday of a lasting ceasefire in Syria, and said a committee to create a new constitution should meet by the end of the year.

Turkey Hosts Syria Summit With Russian, French, German Leaders

The leaders of Turkey, Russia, France, and Germany held a summit on October 27 in Istanbul to discuss security and political issues in Syria, hoping to find a lasting political solution to Syria’s seven-year civil war, which has killed more than 400,000 people and displaced millions more. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was hosting Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron.

Dozens Dead in Eastern Syria After Clashes with Islamic State – The New York Times

Islamic State militants killed at least 40 Syrian fighters supported by the United States, captured several alive and regained territory.

ISIS gunmen kill at least 40 U.S.-backed fighters in eastern Syria – CBS News

Syrian Democratic Forces have been on the offensive since September to capture the last ISIS-held pocket in Syria

Turkey Strikes U.S.-Backed Kurds After Erdogan’s ‘Final Warning’ – Bloomberg

Turkey fired on U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militants in northern Syria on Sunday, moving ahead with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vow to rout them from his country’s southern border.

Saudi prosecutor in Khashoggi case meets Istanbul chief prosecutor: Anadolu | Reuters

The Saudi public prosecutor heading the investigation into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi met Istanbul’s chief prosecutor on Monday, state-owned Anadolu news agency said.

Can Saudi Arabia and Turkey team up to reveal Khashoggi killer? | Jamal Khashoggi | Al Jazeera

Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb arrived in Turkey on Sunday to look into the October 2 killing.

Khashoggi murder: Britain KNEW of kidnap plot and BEGGED Saudi Arabia to stop | World | News | Express.co.uk

MURDERED journalist Jamal Khashoggi was about to disclose details of Saudi Arabia’s use of chemical weapons in Yemen, sources close to him said last night. The revelations come as separate intelligence sources disclosed that Britain had first been made aware of a plot a full three weeks before he walked into the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Intercepts by GCHQ of internal communications by the kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate revealed orders by a “member of the royal circle” to abduct the troublesome journalist and take him back to Saudi Arabia. The orders, intelligence sources say, did not emanate directly from de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and it is not known if he was aware of them. Though they commanded that Khashoggi should be abducted and taken back to Riyadh, they “left the door open” for other actions should the journalist prove to be troublesome, sources said. Last week Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General confirmed that the murder had been premeditated – in contrast to initial official explanations that Khashoggi had been killed after a fight broke out.Intercepts by GCHQ of internal communications by the kingdom’s General Intelligence Directorate revealed orders by a “member of the royal circle” to abduct the troublesome journalist and take him back to Saudi Arabia. The orders, intelligence sources say, did not emanate directly from de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and it is not known if he was aware of them. Though they commanded that Khashoggi should be abducted and taken back to Riyadh, they “left the door open” for other actions should the journalist prove to be troublesome, sources said. Last week Saudi Arabia’s Attorney General confirmed that the murder had been premeditated – in contrast to initial official explanations that Khashoggi had been killed after a fight broke out.

What Mattis Said in the Middle East – Defense One

The defense secretary said he pressed his Saudi counterpart on the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, but U.S.-Saudi relations appear little changed.

Mattis Treads Carefully on Khashoggi Crisis – Defense One

The defense secretary condemned the killing of the Washington Post columnist but did not accuse Saudi Arabia, in keynote speech at security conference …

In a Post-Khashoggi World, Impunity Will Reign – Defense One

The ugly geopolitics in the wake of the Saudi journalist’s death point to a new era of impunity.

Paul seeks to punish Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi killing – POLITICO

The Kentucky Republican says he’s intent on forcing another vote to block billions in arms sales to the kingdom.

Rand Paul blasts Saudi Arabia at rally with Trump Jr. | TheHill

MISSOULA, Mont. — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) slammed Saudi Arabia as a sponsor of terrorism at a Montana rally with Donald Trump Jr.

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