Information operations

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (182)


Infoshum or Information Noise

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

In most ways, Russian propaganda is now a joke and this reflects directly on the Russian leadership. The quality is poor, the content laughable, and too much Infoshum is recycled from the Cold War rhetoric.  Whoever is writing Russian propaganda needs to spend some time away from their propaganda and saturated in the Western media. 

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The alternate reality creators of the Russian propaganda machine are in the spotlight, with SECSTATE Klimkin reiterating in a tweet the observations made last week by Shelin – the inability of the Russian leadership to distinguish between propaganda constructs and facts. More threats over the INF, more wishful thinking from Russia’s SECSTATE, more criticisms from European leaders, US rejects last week’s bizarre Russian claim about the P-8A in Syria, Prigozhin in the media yet again, Eidman states that “Putinism today is a parody and a remake of Stalinism”, Aralsk-7 BW lab detailed, and other bizarre reports. Another tragedy involving a millennial.

More on Butina, Russian Trolls, and Russian election meddling, both foreign and domestic.

UK to move ahead on legislation to deal with illicit Russian cashflow, Chatham House on why the Russian covert ops became increasing brazen in the UK.

Update on Syria, Iran caught again planning an assassination inside the EU, and Israel ramps up diplomacy in the Arab world – how times have indeed changed.

Update on Saudi Arabia, multiple reports.


Pavlo Klimkin on Twitter: “Earlier, Russia’s foreign Ministry wrote texts for propaganda channels, now these channels write texts for the Foreign ministry but, in the end, it is all in many ways one kitchen. And Russia will finally roll into its alternate reality, no longer connected with the West, or all of the civilised world”

Propaganda channels write texts for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, – Ukraine’s minister – 112.international

After the session of the UN Security Council dedicated to the situation at occupied territories of Ukraine, Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin reported on Twitter that the texts for Russia’s Foreign Ministry are written by Russian propaganda channels.“Earlier the Foreign Ministry of Russia wrote the texts for the propaganda channels; now these channels write for the Foreign Ministry. But, after all, in many ways it is the same. And Russia completely aims to its own reality, not only from the western one but from the whole adequate world,” Klimkin wrote. As we reported Vasily Nebenzya, the Permanent Representative of Russia at the UN accused Ukraine of the organization of the “terrorist act” during which Alexandr Zakharchenko, the head of Donetsk People’s Republic was killed. Also, the members of the UN Security Council rejected Russia’s proposal to invite the representatives of the occupied Donbas to participate in the session of the Council on Ukraine.

UAWire – Russian Defense Minister warns Europe of ‘serious consequences’ if the US withdraws from Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu stated that the withdrawal of the US from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty would have serious consequences primarily for Europe, Interfax reports. “We are interested to see the reaction of Europe to the US decision to withdraw from the INF. And I would like Europe to know and understand the consequences that would follow in the case of the deployment of medium-range missiles in Europe, ”said Shoygu. The decision of the United States will lead to “serious consequences for Europe including, and more specifically, for Europe first of all,” Shoygu stressed. “We are following with concern the course of NATO on the active militarization of the European continent. We see how efforts are being made to attract more and more new countries into NATO, I mean the Balkan countries first and foremost, ”Shoygu added. On Sunday, October 21, during his speech in front of his supporters in Nevada, Trump announced that he wants to leave the INF Treaty. “We will not allow anyone to violate the terms of this agreement,” he said. Russia and the United States periodically accuse each other of violating this agreement. In response to Trump’s words, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow is ready to respond to Trump’s threat of withdrawing from the agreement. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov explained that Russia is prepared to respond if Washington continues to withdraw from agreements and arrangements unilaterally. He added that measures against the U.S. could be “of a military-technical nature.”

Russia’s Shoigu Warns Of ‘Serious Consequences’ For Europe If U.S. Quits Nuclear Pact

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is warning that Washington’s plans to withdraw from a decades-old nuclear arms agreement will have “serious consequences” for Europe.

Four Perfectly Trump Reasons Why He Wants Out of the INF Treaty – Defense One

Within the president\’s haphazard foreign policy, there is logical coherence to him quitting a nuclear treaty Russia ignores. But it won’t make us safer.

No new US missiles in Europe but more and more new Russian ones, – NATO chief on INF Treaty. VIDEO

31.10.18 11:04 – No new US missiles in Europe but more and more new Russian ones, – NATO chief on INF Treaty. VIDEO NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, expressed concern about the growing number of Russian missiles deployed in Europe which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads. View news.

UAWire – Russia calls on the US to stop expelling diplomats and return diplomatic property

RIA Novosti reports that Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister said he would like that the US and Russia abandon the mutual expulsions of diplomats. According to the Russian foreign minister, he proposed this during his meeting with the US National Security Advisor to the President, John Bolton. Lavrov also expressed the desire to resolve the issue of the country’s diplomatic property. According to him, the beginning of the resolution includes mutual permission to visit those buildings “that were seized and expropriated” by Russia and the USA. “They will think about it, we made an offer, and the ball is in their court,” said Lavrov. The Russian Foreign Minister noted that Moscow proposed that both sides ensure comfortable conditions for diplomats.

UAWire – Polish President: Moscow’s imperial ambitions are obvious to everyone

Moscow’s imperial ambitions are obvious to everyone; therefore, the NATO’s eastern flank should be strengthened, said Polish President Andrzej Duda in an interview with Bild am Sonntag. When asked how dangerous the Russian president is due to threats that Russia poses for Poland and other countries of the eastern part of the EU, Duda answered, “Over the last ten years, Russia twice forcibly changed European borders.” “In 2008 it attacked Georgia, and in 2014 it attacked Ukraine. In both cases, the legal boundaries of the two countries have still not been restored. Lech Kaczyński predicted the development of the situation, in 2008, in Tbilisi. He said: “Today it is Georgia, tomorrow Ukraine and the day after tomorrow the Baltic States, and soon it will possibly be my country, Poland,” Duda noted. He added that the key factors in NATO are “solidarity, overall responsibility and expenditures.” Commenting on the cooperation with Germany, Duda stressed that “security is also energy security,” which is why he also expected solidarity in that regard.

UAWire – Central African rebels demand withdrawal of Russian troops

Abdoulaye Hissène, leader of the CNDS, one of the Ex-Séléka Muslim rebel groups in the Central African Republic (CAR), gave the Central African …

Did US drones swarm a Russian base? Probably not, but that capability isn’t far off.

U.S. Defense Department officials are pushing back hard against Russian claims that they were involved in a drone attack on a Russian air base in Syria earlier this year. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said Thursday that 13 drones were heading toward Khmeimim air base in Syria’s coastal Latakia province when a U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon flying over the Mediterranean took “manual control” of them and began searching for “holes through which they started penetrating.” “Then they were destroyed,” Fomin said. American officials flatly denied the accusation. “Any suggestion that U.S. or coalition forces played a role in an attack on a Russian base is without any basis in fact and is utterly irresponsible,” a Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement to Military Times. Rob Lee, a former U.S. Marine Corps officer and doctoral candidate who focuses on Russian defense policy at King’s College London, said the allegations are dubious. “It is sometimes hard to tell which claims Russian officials believe and which are merely rhetoric,” he said. “Sometimes it is easier just to blame the Americans than acknowledge that they were not prepared to stop unsophisticated, off-the-shelf UAVs — which was particularly embarrassing because of how much they publicized the effectiveness of their air defense systems.” While U.S. research toward drone swarms is definitely underway, the allegation that the U.S. attacked a Russian air base with the technology, risking an escalation with a peer adversary seems unlikely.

UAWire – France: Russia’s presence will not help to stabilize the situation in Central African Republic

Recently, Moscow announced plans to send additional equipment and new military instructors to the Central African Republic (CAR). Following …

Putin’s Needy Little Helpers Are Ruining Russia (Op-ed)

Russia seems increasingly to be in two time zones: the late 2010s and the mid-1990s. Recent revelations by the Novaya Gazeta investigative newspaper about dirty tricks and dirtier killings alleged — but not proven — to be connected to businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin are a depressing reminder of the way Russia’s elite appear to be devolving. This is not quite a return to the old ways; this is the 1990s in an Italian suit, but with a flick-knife in a pocket. Novaya Gazeta claims that attacks on opposition activists and bloggers were carried out on Prigozhin’s behalf. The story is based on the testimony of one of the men involved, ex-convict Valery Amelchenko, who has since himself disappeared. Novaya Gazeta’s reporter Denis Korotkov – who himself received the symbolic threat of a funeral wreath from persons unknown – believes that Amelchenko may have been abducted or killed. It is a luridly over-the-top tale of government critics and business rivals of Prigozhin’s being targeted, of murders in the Donbass and even drug experiments in Syria. At present it is hard to say whether it is wholly accurate and how far Prigozhin himself was behind these operations, but it illustrates something about the elite today.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Prigozhin’s Latest Outrage a Dangerous Test for Putin, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 30 – The delivery of headless rams to the offices of Novaya gazeta, an action clearly linked to that newspaper’s expose of Yevgeny Prigozhin presents a serious political challenge to Vladimir Putin because the Kremlin leader must choose between loyalty to someone who has done what Putin wants and the dangers those actions present for the system. That is the conclusion of Vladimir Pastukhov, a London-based Russian historian and commentator, who argues that from a political point of view, the rams’ heads were in fact thrown “not under the door of the editorial offices but at the gates of the Kremlin” (echo.msk.ru/blog/pastuhov_v/2305439-echo/). Again and again, Prigozhin has allowed himself to do and speak “openly” what others might like to do but feel constrained against, the historian continues. As a result, he is no longer “an individual but ‘a meme’ which needs to be decoded.” That isn’t as difficult as it might seem because it is clear that he is the servant of “a cult of force” unrestrained by any rules. “Prigozhin as an individual isn’t a problem for society,” Pastukhov says; but “Prigozhin as a symbol, as a stereotype, as ‘an identifier’ is a problem because the influence of this symbol is much broader and more significant than the influence of a personality on the basis of which this symbol arose.” Intentionally or not, he continues, “Prigozhin as a result of a number of circumstances has become a brand of a particular time, the brand name for ‘no limits,” for the use of power without any constraints. And as such, he has become a model for others who act as franchisees of his kind of activity. That might not have mattered a lot, the historian says, were it not for Prigozhin’s closeness, rumored or not, to Putin. Because it is widely believed, this means that “the Prigozhin problem has instantly become Putin’s problem: tell me who you friend is and I will tell you who you are…” Because Prigozhin belongs to the class of Russians who are legally “untouchable,” he can act as he likes as long as he avoids coming out of the shadows and by his actions challenging the Kremlin. But once he does “come out of ‘the shadows,’” Pastukhov says, “he becomes dangerous since his shadow falls on Putin as well.” Consequently, what Prigozhin has done or what has been done in his name in the Novaya gazeta case represents what in politics is called “’a challenge’ but in the criminal world, ‘a set up.’” Putin today hardly wants to be associated with such unbridled hooliganism, “even if in the depth of his soul such a style is to his liking.” That is because if Prigozhin gets away with this, others will follow – and that will create bigger problems for which Putin deservedly will be blamed. There is an ancient Sophist “riddle,” Pastukhov says. “Can God create a stone which he cannot lift?” It he can’t, he isn’t all-powerful, but if he can, he isn’t omnipotent.” Putin risks finding himself in this situation as he wrestles with what to do in response to what Prigozhin has done lest others read into his non-action something he can ill afford. Unfortunately for the Kremlin leader, whatever he chooses to do with or to Prigozhin will leave Putin in a worse place than he was before.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putinism is a Parody and Remake of Stalinism, Eidman Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 28 – Putinism today is a parody and a remake of Stalinism, Igor Eidman says, something that can be easily seen if one considers what the basic “myths and fixations” of Stalinism were and then updates the vocabulary to reflect the different environment. That shows, that the essence of Putinism remains that of Stalinism. To make his point, the Russian sociologist and commentator for Deutsche Welle takes a passage from émigré political writer Roman Redlikh’s 1971 classic, Stalinism as a Spiritual Phenomenon, inserting present-day terms with the original Stalin-era terms in parentheses (facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=2088050997924535&id=100001589654713). The following paragraphs show just how right Eidman is, however much many in Russia and the West have resisted recognizing this point: “The notion that Russia (the USSR) is the most correct (advanced) country in the world is not (simply) a fiction but a myth. Despite its obvious absurdity visible to every Russian (Soviet man), it remains a psychological reality because it creates an illusion … that compensates for the experience of incompleteness. “The myth appeals to national self-love and among people who are constantly and cruelly denigrated it proves extraordinarily vital. This myth raises the self-consciousness of the Russian (the Soviet man) … “There exist two psychological factors which feed the myth about the hostility of the West (the capitalist encirclement): one conscious and the other unconscious. The conscious factor is the perfectly understandable striking of the powers that be by means of propagandizing this myth to mobilize the population for a fight with the West. “The unconscious factor is rooted in the persecution mania which Putinism (Stalinism) is obsessed with. Precisely as a result of this mania, the myth about the hostile West (the capitalist encirclement) is to be found in the immediate entourage of Putin (the Politburo) and even more among workers of the security services as a subject of faith … “The myth in the first instance hold that the USSR bears on its shoulders the main weight of the second world war, that it alone is the genuine victor in this war, and that the military role of the Western allies was minimal. And t insists that Russia and its army (Soviet power and the Soviet army) were the liberators of the peoples of Eastern Europe from the fascist yoke … “Alongside this is the myth about the approaching last and decisive struggle of Russia (the countries of the socialist camp) with countries under the rule of the US (‘the sharks of Wall Street’). This myth is the logical conclusion of the myth about the hostile West (capitalist encirclement). “Russian (Soviet) propaganda constantly stigmatizes the Ukrainian authorities (American government circles, Germany statehood, and English laborites) as ‘fascists.’ This is a game of definitions which cannot withstand any criticism and which contradicts itself at every turn.”

 

A former city on a former island Behold the ruins of Aralsk-7, the site of a long-abandoned top-secret Soviet biological weapons lab — Meduza

Until the 1940s, the only thing on Vozrozhdeniya Island in the Aral Sea was a small fish processing plant. That changed when the Soviet government decided to open a top-secret biological weapons research and test site, transforming the quiet town of Kantubek into the closed military city Aralsk-7. From the 1960s to the late 1980s, the island was home to roughly 1,500 people — mostly scientists working at the laboratory, testing different viruses and bacteria on animals. In 1992, Moscow decided to relocate the entire “Barkhan” complex to Kirov, inside the new Russian Federation. Since then, Kantubek has been a ghost town, and the shrinking Aral Sea (once the fourth-largest lake in the world, drained by Soviet irrigation projects) has receded so dramatically that Vozrozhdeniya Island is now a peninsula connected to modern-day Uzbekistan. Meduza presents photographs by Elyor Nematov from the ruins of Aralsk-7.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Three Troubling Trends in Russia

Paul Goble Staunton, October 30 – In addition to almost losing its only aircraft carrier this week not to hostile action but to incompetence and corruption in the military-industrial sector, the continuation of a long tradition extending back to at least 1905 as Richard Hough describes in The Fleet that Had to Die, Russia was confronted by reports of three other troubling trends: First of all, Russians are falling into what Moscow media call “debt slavery” when they report instances of this in other countries. In the first half of this year, Russians took out 68.3 billion rubles (one billion US dollars) in new loans to cover payments on ones they already had (ria.ru/economy/20181030/1531734321.html). That figure is 70 percent greater than during the same period in 2017 and suggests that Russians are going ever more deeply in debt to try to maintain their standards of living during the deepening economic crisis. In addition to this figure, Russians are refinancing existing loans at an increasing rate as well. Second, Russia’s demographic decline is accelerating, with the number of births down 5.2 percent during the first nine months of this year compared to the same period a year ago and deaths up by a small amoount, leading so a natural decline of 173,000 in the total population (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5BD72D293AA32and gks.ru/free_doc/2018/demo/edn09-18.htm). Most of the decline in the number of births reflects the fall in the number of women in prime child-bearing age cohort, but some is the product of individual decisions to put off having a family because of economic problems. The increase in the number of deaths is mostly the result of the aging of the population but some may reflect Putin’s health “optimization” program. And third, just where Russia is economically or demographically is becoming ever more difficult to say, experts explain because of what they call the “unprecedented” even for Russia manipulation of official statistics to support whatever position those in power want to promote (nakanune.ru/articles/114510/). That troubling trend, perhaps most clearly exemplified by Russian government claims that incomes are going up when Russians can see in their own cases and those of the people around them that that is not the case, the Nakanune press agency says. But it is unfortunately not limited to that measure but increasingly affects all others. Not only does the corruption of the numbers undermine any remaining confidence among Russians that officials are telling them the truth, but it means that the government is often making decisions not on the basis of facts but rather on its own propaganda. Good information, of course, won’t guarantee good policy; but a lack of it makes good policy an accident. Just how sloppy and dangerous the absence of good data can be is reflected in the current Putin practice of blaming the 1990s for demographic decline on some occasions and ignoring the impact of that decade when it suits him (echo.msk.ru/blog/nikolaev_i/2305641-echo/). Paul Goble Staunton, October 30 – In addition to almost losing its only aircraft carrier this week not to hostile action but to incompetence and corruption in the military-industrial sector, the continuation of a long tradition extending back to at least 1905 as Richard Hough describes in The Fleet that Had to Die, Russia was confronted by reports of three other troubling trends: First of all, Russians are falling into what Moscow media call “debt slavery” when they report instances of this in other countries. In the first half of this year, Russians took out 68.3 billion rubles (one billion US dollars) in new loans to cover payments on ones they already had (ria.ru/economy/20181030/1531734321.html). That figure is 70 percent greater than during the same period in 2017 and suggests that Russians are going ever more deeply in debt to try to maintain their standards of living during the deepening economic crisis. In addition to this figure, Russians are refinancing existing loans at an increasing rate as well. Second, Russia’s demographic decline is accelerating, with the number of births down 5.2 percent during the first nine months of this year compared to the same period a year ago and deaths up by a small amoount, leading so a natural decline of 173,000 in the total population (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5BD72D293AA32 and gks.ru/free_doc/2018/demo/edn09-18.htm). Most of the decline in the number of births reflects the fall in the number of women in prime child-bearing age cohort, but some is the product of individual decisions to put off having a family because of economic problems. The increase in the number of deaths is mostly the result of the aging of the population but some may reflect Putin’s health “optimization” program. And third, just where Russia is economically or demographically is becoming ever more difficult to say, experts explain because of what they call the “unprecedented” even for Russia manipulation of official statistics to support whatever position those in power want to promote (nakanune.ru/articles/114510/). That troubling trend, perhaps most clearly exemplified by Russian government claims that incomes are going up when Russians can see in their own cases and those of the people around them that that is not the case, the Nakanune press agency says. But it is unfortunately not limited to that measure but increasingly affects all others. Not only does the corruption of the numbers undermine any remaining confidence among Russians that officials are telling them the truth, but it means that the government is often making decisions not on the basis of facts but rather on its own propaganda. Good information, of course, won’t guarantee good policy; but a lack of it makes good policy an accident. Just how sloppy and dangerous the absence of good data can be is reflected in the current Putin practice of blaming the 1990s for demographic decline on some occasions and ignoring the impact of that decade when it suits him (echo.msk.ru/blog/nikolaev_i/2305641-echo/).

Russian Woman On Trial After Police Find Pickled Body Parts

A Russian woman is being tried in a gruesome case that has led to suspicions of cannibalism because investigators say they found pickled body parts in the home she shares with her husband.

The terrorist attack on a Federal Security Service branch in Arkhangelsk: what we know, so far — Meduza

There was an explosion at the Federal Security Service (FSB) building in Arkhangelsk on the morning of October 31. According to Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee, the bomb detonated inside the building’s entrance at 8:52 a.m. A man entered the building removed an unidentified object from his bag, and sometime later the object exploded, killing the perpetrator and inflicting injuries of varying severity on three FSB officers.

Russia Arkhangelsk blast: Teenager dead at FSB security HQ – BBC News

A 17-year-old died after taking explosives to a federal security office in Arkhangelsk, officials say.

Russian teen blows himself up in FSB building, prompting terrorism investigation

Russia opened an investigation into suspected terrorism after a 17- year-old blew himself up Wednesday in the lobby of Russia’s Federal Security Service, injuring three people.

Russian Investigators Suspect Terrorism Behind Arkhangelsk Explosion

Russia’s Investigative Committee says it has launched a probe into suspected terrorism after an explosion at a Federal Security Service (FSB) office in northern Russia that killed one person.

Russia suicide bomb: FSB headquarters in angelsk hit – fatalities | Daily Star

A SUICIDE bomber has struck at a Russian intelligence office.

Accused Russian agent studied nonprofits’ cybersecurity: report | TheHill

Maria Butina, the woman accused of being a Russian agent, studied cyber defenses of certain U.S. nonprofit organizations focused on human rights and media, The Associated Press reported Monday.

Americans Are Easy Marks for Russian Trolls, According to New Data

A Daily Beast analysis of Twitter data shows the Kremlin troll farm’s English-language propaganda is nine times more effective than its disinformation in Russian.

Fearing election hacking, EU leaders to ready sanctions – EURACTIV.com

During a European Council meeting on Thursday (18 October), EU leaders agreed to impose sanctions to stiffen their response to cyber attacks and to rush through new curbs on online campaigning by political parties to protect next year’s European election from interference.

Estonian State Electoral Office preparing to fight possible cyber attacks

TALLINN – The Estonian State Electoral Office is making preparations to fight possible cyber attacks and information manipulation prior to the g…

Ukraine sets up group to stop any attempt by Russia to influence elections – EURACTIV.com

Ukraine has set up a group to stop any attempt by Russia to influence next year’s elections, a state security body said on Thursday (18 October).

Putin Admits To Election Rigging – To Inform is to Influence

Russian President Vladimir Putin admitted Russia rigs elections when he called for it to end. Consistent results over 80% are statistically impossible, but these results are normal, even in the Presidential election. Perhaps we will soon see this sham end. <\end editorial> Putin calls for end to election rigging Russian Politics & Diplomacy October 30,…

After Skripal Poisoning, New Policy Plan Takes Aim At Illicit Russian Cash

A new research paper has urged the U.K. to go further in confronting Russia. Presenting his work at the influential Chatham House Think Tank, the paper’s author, Duncan Allan, argued that it was, “No longer tenable to try to compartmentalize political and economic policy.”

 

UK’s weak response on Litvinenko murder encouraged Russia to carry out Salisbury attack, new report claims

‘Ill-defined’ government policy towards Russian aggression should have been replaced by ‘deterrence by punishment’ after 2006 killing. The Kremlin felt confident enough to carry out the brazen novichok assassination attempt in Salisbury because of Britain’s failure to take strong action following a previous atrocity, the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, a leading think tank has claimed in a new report. The Russian government and intelligence services, it says, judged, as a result, the UK’s unwillingness to match aggressive rhetoric with action following the fatal radiation poisoning a dozen years ago as weakness, showing a lack of resolve to carry out retribution. Despite the seemingly stronger political, diplomatic and legal measures taken by Theresa May’s government following the attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal, the reaction was just “essentially a sterner version” of what happened in the Litvinenko case, according to the Chatham House review.

May renews attack on Russia over ‘sickening’ Salisbury incident | Express & Star

The PM has thanked Nordic leaders for their support in the wake of a nerve agent attack which the UK blamed on Moscow.

Managed Confrontation: UK Policy Towards Russia After the Salisbury Attack | Chatham House

The UK government’s words and deeds are still not synchronized. That is a recipe for trouble.

European Inaction: Turning a Blind Eye to Political Assassinations | EuBulletin.Com

In the wake of the Cold War, the West thought it could uphold human rights, the rule of law, and democratic freedoms across the world. The subsequent assertiveness of authoritarian systems in China, Russia, the Middle East, and Latin America put the West on the defensive. Now, authoritarian repression has begun to reach into Western societies. The European Union is an increasingly dangerous place for journalists. The frequency with which they have been murdered or have disappeared in recent years has caught the headlines, justifying a debate as to what extent state-building processes meant to precede EU accession remain a work in progress after countries join the bloc. Disturbingly, the trend appears to form part of a broader pattern in international relations: assassinations of government critics and members of the opposition are becoming ever more common.

A Thorn in the Kremlin’s Side

Bellingcat’s amateurs excel at the intelligence game.

Boots staff on Novichok ordeal: ‘Police told us to close and get out’ | Chemist+Druggist

A Boots area manager has told C+D how staff were ushered out of their branch by police so it could be checked for traces of nerve agent Novichok.

 

FSB nabs border guard for “selling” data on Petrov, Boshirov’s trips – Russian media | UNIAN

The FSB Russian Federal Security Service has detained a border guard service operative in the North-West region district and an officer of one of the Federal Tax Agency’s units. The arrests took place as part of a special raid to prevent leaks from closed databases.

Russian federal agents allegedly arrest Border Service official for selling information from the closed database that helped identify the Salisbury suspects — Meduza

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has reportedly carried out a massive review of the private detectives and state officials who allegedly sell information from closed databases. A source familiar with the situation told the news agency Rosbalt that the FSB has conducted more than 60 raids in the investigation.

Majlis Podcast: Untangling Why Thousands Of Central Asians Joined Islamic State

RFE/RL has just released a 10-part documentary film called Not In Our Name, which looks at some of the people from Central Asia who went to Syria and Iraq to join extremist groups there.

Russia’s new game in Syria | Syria | Al Jazeera

Russia is focusing its efforts on blackmailing Europe into paying for reconstruction and pushing the US out.

Russian fighters intercepted French Rafales and US KC-10 Extender over Syria – Defence Blog

An unofficial Instagram account of Russian pilot posted a video showing intercept of a couple of French Rafale fighter jets with a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aircraft that flying over Syria. The author of the post claims that video shows the moment when a U.S Air Force KC-10 Extender provides aerial refueling to two French Rafaels in a coordinated campaign alongside US and British forces during combat operations in Syria. No further details on the date or location have been released. Pentagon official early has confirmed similar incidents with Russian fighter jets over Syria, that took place during US-led Coalition military operation. Moreover, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, the commander of the US Air Forces Central Command (CENTCOM) said during Department of Defense briefing about Russian jets conducting an “unprofessional” intercept of a U.S. KC-10 aerial refueling tanker aircraft over Syria in May 2017. “I will share with you… one incident where there was an intercept they [Russia] ran that I would categorize as unprofessional,” Harrigian said during a Department of Defense briefing via teleconference. “And we called them on it, and expressed our concern. And they came back, quite frankly, and apologized for that particular intercept.” When asked by journalists what had exactly happened, the military official responded: “Let’s see… This particular one had to do with — I can’t remember if it was a SU-35 or a SU-30 involved with one of our KC-10s.” Whether this incident is exactly what is shown in the video is not known.

Pilot misreading navigation system caused Iraq helicopter crash that killed 7, report says – CNNPolitics

The helicopter crash that killed seven US service members in Iraq this March occurred because the pilot misinterpreted the navigation display and the helicopter became tangled in a steel cable, a new report says.

Social-Media Companies Are Scanning for Potential Terrorists — Islamic Ones, Anyway – Defense One

Big platforms like Facebook others have come a long way in detecting and preventing the spread of Islamic extremist content and tracking potential …

Iranian spy service suspected of assassination plot in Denmark: security chief | Reuters

Denmark said on Tuesday it suspected an Iranian government intelligence service had tried to carry out a plot to assassinate an Iranian Arab opposition figure on its soil.

Denmark recalls ambassador to Iran over alleged foiled ‘attack’ | Denmark News | Al Jazeera

Iranian intelligence unit accused of ‘planning an attack in Denmark’, Tehran strongly denies allegations.

Denmark accuses Iran of activist murder plot – BBC News

Tehran denies its intelligence agencies planned to kill an Arab separatist leader on Danish soil.

Iranians feel the impact of U.S. sanctions while bracing for more – CBS News

Iranians are bracing for a new round of U.S. sanctions that President Trump plans to impose as early as next Monday

What Would Reagan Do on Iran? – Foreign Policy

If Washington wants to pressure Tehran, the White House should stop alienating allies, empowering hard-liners, and harming regular Iranians.

China, India Reported Set To Keep Buying Iranian Oil As U.S. Sanctions Loom

With just days to go before U.S. sanctions take effect on Iran’s oil sector on November 5, Tehran’s top two customers – India and China — are resisting Washington’s call to reduce purchases …

Signs of warming ties as Israeli ministers head to Gulf | Fox News

In an emotional scene, the Israeli national anthem was performed at a public sporting event in the United Arab Emirates on Sunday while two Israeli Cabinet ministers said they would soon head to the region in new signs of warming ties between Israel and the Gulf Arab states.

Netanyahu Presses to Build Relations in Gulf States – WSJ

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to Oman marked a new chapter in his effort to strengthen ties with Gulf Arab nations and shift the conversation from Palestinian issues toward regional threats like Iran.

King Salman’s brother ‘returns to Riyadh’ amid Khashoggi crisis | News | Al Jazeera

Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz’s reported return is seen as a potential challenge to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

🇹🇷 🇸🇦 Khashoggi case: Turkey accuses Saudi of protecting senior figures | Al Jazeera English – YouTube

Al Jazeera English Published on Oct 30, 2018 Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says a game is being played over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi to protect senior figures linked to the crime. Erdogan’s comments come as Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor met Turkish officials for a second time. Riyadh has reportedly handed over testimonies of 18 suspects to Ankara after a rejection to do so earlier. There are still disagreements over where the suspects should be tried. Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher reports from Istanbul.

Slain journalist’s fiancee: ‘I wanted to believe he was alive’ – YouTube

ABC News Published on Oct 30, 2018 In her first interview with U.S. TV, Hatice Cengiz said she wants to know where Jamal Khashoggi’s body is and who ordered the killing.

‘Extraordinarily Important’: Top US General Defends Saudi Relationship, Yemen War – Defense One

‘I think it is better if we are engaged,” CENTCOM commander Gen. Joseph Votel says in an interview.

US must impose a price on Saudis, but one with a clear purpose | TheHill

Former Ambassador Dennis Ross says the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the kingdom’s shifting stories cross the line. Nothing justifies them.

President Trump can, and must, stabilize US-Saudi relations | TheHill

With America’s international prestige on the line, congressional leaders should impress upon the president that no amount of money from an arms deal is worth our credibility.

Susan E. Rice | A Partner We Can’t Depend On – The New York Times

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia long ago revealed his true character in impulsive and vicious actions.

GOP senators press Trump to cut off nuclear talks with Saudi Arabia

A group of GOP senators is pressing the Trump administration to cut off civilian nuclear talks with Saudi Arabia in the wake of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder.

Mohammed bin Salman Is the Next Saddam Hussein – Foreign Policy

In the 1980s, the United States embraced a brutal Middle Eastern tyrant simply because he opposed Iran. Washington should not repeat the same mistake today.

US Saudi arms deal will create 500 jobs while Trump claimed 500,000 – Business Insider

Donald Trump repeatedly touts a $110 billion dollar arms deal negotiated with Saudi Arabia last year. He refused to cancel it over journalist Jamal…

Saudi Deal to Bring Hundreds of Jobs, Not Half a Million Like Trump Promised, Say Experts – The Daily Beast

Defense firms say less than a thousand jobs will be created. Trump said half a million.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pushes for end to Yemen conflict

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday ratcheted up his push for an end to the deadly war in Yemen.

Mattis, Pompeo call for Yemen ceasefire ‘within 30 days’ – CNNPolitics

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on all participants in the Yemen civil war to agree to a ceasefire “in the next 30 days,” a call that comes amid criticism of US support for the Saudi-led coalition in the conflict.

 

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