Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (183)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russian VKS DA probes UK ADIZ again. NATO meets with Russia over INF and EX. Shlosberg on how the Vozhd is “is gradually converting Russia into a Chinese colony.” Vishnevsky on public indifference in Russia. Updates on Soyuz and Kuznetsov accidents. Sanctions, 2019 visit, and election meddling updates.

Skripal update, and engagement with Estonia on methodology for dealing with Russian covert ops.

Iranian assassination attempt in Denmark produces major blowback in EU. Iran oil sanctions to go active. Updates on Syria, Turkey and Saudis.

RAF Lossiemouth jets scrambled to ‘unidentified aircraft’ – BBC News

Fighters were set from RAF Lossiemouth as a ‘precautionary measure’ but the jets have now returned to base.

British planes scramble to intercept suspected Russian jets | Reuters

British jets were scrambled to investigate suspected Russian fighter aircraft flying near United Kingdom airspace on Wednesday.

British Planes Scramble to Intercept Suspected Russian Jets

British jets were scrambled to investigate suspected Russian fighter aircraft flying near United Kingdom airspace on Wednesday. “Typhoon fighters … were scrambled today as a precautionary measure against a potential incursion into UK area of interest by one or more unidentified aircraft,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense said. “At no time was there a threat to UK airspace ..,” he added.

Nato holds military exercise in Norway – BBC News

Trident Juncture is the biggest exercise of its kind since the Cold War.

Putin orders missile tests in NATO training area during huge war games | Daily Mail Online

Russian warships will test-fire missiles off the coast of Norway between November 1 and 3 at the same time NATO carries out a huge set of war games just a short distance away.

NATO Urges Russia To Honor INF Treaty Amid U.S. Threat To Withdraw

NATO has urged Russia to continue to honor a key nuclear arms treaty amid U.S. threats to pull out of the pact because of alleged violations by Moscow.

Rare NATO-Russia talks address military drills, 1987 missile treaty | Reuters

NATO and Russia envoys on Wednesday discussed their respective large-scale military exercises and a Cold War-era missile treaty that Washington vows to quit over accusations of Russian non-compliance, the Western alliance said.

It’s Time to Make a New Deal: Solving the INF Treaty’s Strategic Liabilities to Achieve U.S. Security Goals in Asia – Texas National Security Review

The U.S. and its allies need a different approach to deter China in the Western Pacific. After building islands in the South China Sea’s disputed waters, claiming they were for peaceful purposes, China recently militarized them. Chinese military units then threatened U.S., allied, and civilian ships and aircraft operating in the region. These Chinese forces are backed by the world’s best conventionally-armed, land-based missile force. U.S. Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty compliance and reluctance to field autonomous weapons has limited the Pentagon’s ability to counter Chinese actions. This article describes a new approach that enables achieving U.S. security goals in Asia.

US pullout from nuclear pact with Russia may heighten tensions in Asia

If the U.S. leaves the treaty, it will be free to develop and install weapons on its military bases around Asia — a move likely to have spillover implications for China and India.

Russia is preparing to back out of its last human rights commitments in Europe – The Washington Post

Vladimir Putin has had it with the Council of Europe

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin, Seeing Europe as Threat to His Power, Making Russia a Chinese Colony, Shlosberg Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 31 – Although he comes from Petersburg, Vladimir Putin is above all “not a European politician but rather an anti-European one” because he views the democratic values of Europe as a threat to his power. Lev Shlosberg says. As a result, he prefers to cooperate with authoritarian China and “is gradually converting Russia into a Chinese colony.” Despite all his talk about “’sovereignty,’” the Pskov opposition politician says, Putin is in fact renting out “gigantic Siberian territories” to China and “re-orienting” Russian production toward China away from the West. That presents “an extremely dangerous” specter for the future ( This trend, Shlosberg says, reflects the fact that Putin is anything but a contemporary leader. He is a person of the past, and his preferred model for Russia and its rule is drawn from that past, with its hyper-centralized empire ruled by diktat from the center. That antiquated approach is leaving Russia ever further behind the rest of the world. Nowhere is this more obvious that in his approach to the regions. Under Putin, “the Russian Federation is not a federation. De fact we have a unitary and centralist state where all resources and authority are concentrated in the federal center” and where everywhere else, including even Petersburg is “a rightless ‘province.’” This pattern reflects “the traditional, centuries-old desire of the Kremlin ‘to run everything,’” but it has more recent causes as well, Shlosberg says. Economically, this imperial rebirth was put in place by Aleksey Kudrin who, despite his reputation as a liberal, shifted resources away from the regions to the center and deprive the former of any independence. When the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a brief moment when the regions mattered and Moscow had to deal with them. But “one should not idealize the 1990s. In reality, the Russian elite of those years did not understand what a federation is.” They acted as they did only because they had to and constantly took steps to recentralize the country. Politically, this drive took off under Putin who has sought to deprive the regions of any independence whatsoever. For him, “regional political parties are really unacceptable and dangerous. They are capable of destroying the system of current federal parties which are completely controlled by the Presidential Administration and the special services.” Were such parties to be legalized, many in local elites would desert the federal parties and move to them; and the regional parties would defeat the latter because they would know the local situation better and have greater trust and support in the population. That would undermine the entire current system, but there is no real chance for that until there are real elections. Moreover, before such parties can emerge, Russia must “restore the economic and legal bases of federalisms, in tax sharing, budgetary policy, the distribution of authority and so on.” At present, regional assemblies spend “no less than two thirds” of their time “bringing regional laws into correspondence with federal ones” rather than taking needed decisions. According to Shlosberg, “the protests in Ingushetia are a sign that the people can rise up in defense of its land” even in the current situation and despite Kremlin control over the appointment of governors. “Evens of this kind can certainly take place in any Russian region,” and so there is hope. “But the misfortune is that today we are ruled by profoundly backward people,” he continues. The Kremlin operates according to categories that were failing in the 20th century. “For them, the 21st century has not yet arrived: they are yesterday’s people.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Political Repressions Increasing Not Only Because of Putin But Also Because of Russian People, Vishnevsky Says

Paul Goble Staunton, October 31 – Boris Vishnevsky, an opposition deputy in St. Petersburg’s assembly, says that political repressions in Russia are on the rise not just because Vladimir Putin views them as the only way to keep power but also because “the majority of society is completely indifferent” to this development. Few Russians show up for demonstrations against past and present repression, he says, and “journalists are interested in this as a rule only if the repressions involve some very well-known personages or are quite massive or very harsh.” Otherwise, they pass over them in silence. And Internet reports reach only a small audience( “What are the reasons for this?” Vishnevsky asks rhetorically. “Some do not believe there are any repressions because they watch television which tells them that there are no political prisoners in Russia. Some consider that the only victims are those who violate the law … and Some aren’t upset because neither they nor their relatives and friends have been touched” yet. According to the deputy, “the indifferent majority does not understand” that repressions can touch anyone for the most accidental of reasons and that then there will be nothing that can be done. Consequently, “don’t ask for whom the bell of political repressions tolls. At any moment as in former times, it can toll for you. And then it will be too late to protest.”

Rocket Failure Caused By Sensor Damaged During Assembly, Official Says

The launch failure last month of a manned mission to space was caused by a faulty sensor that was damaged during the Soyuz rocket’s assembly at the launch center in Kazakhstan, the head of a Russia…

Russia’s Dry Dock Accident Could Have Far Larger Repercussions Than A Damaged Carrier – The Drive

Russia’s biggest dry dock has completely sunk and it’s debatable if it has anything that could fully replace it anytime in the foreseeable future.

Sunken dry dock could trouble modernization of Navy | The Independent Barents Observer

The 80,000 ton big floating dry dock that on Tuesday night sunk in the waters outside Shipyard No 82 in Roslyakovo near Murmansk might not be lifted, leader of the United Shipbuilding Corporation hints in an interview. On deep waters «It is not yet clear whether the floating dock at the 82nd shipyard, on which aircraft carrier «Admiral Kuznetsov» stood, will be raised», Aleksey Rakhmanov told Interfax. According to the company director, the dock is now located on deep waters and a lifting operation «will be complicated and very expensive.» «To lift the dock, which has a loading capacity of 80,000 ton, is in itself an operation that will cost no small money,» he underlines. He also does not exclude that the installation is significantly damaged. «To say exactly whether it is possible to lift this dock can be done only after divers have studied the condition of the equipment,» he makes clear. According to the shipyard, the water depths in the area of the dock are more than 60 meters.

One of the World’s Largest Floating Dry Docks Has Sunk With Russia’s Carrier Aboard | The Diplomat

A collapsed crane has reportedly left a gaping hole in Russia’s sole aircraft carrier following the sinking of a floating dry dock.

Even more Russian ships are relying on tugs for breakdowns – We Are The Mighty

Many of the Russian Navy’s blue-water ships, including its only aircraft carrier, never leave port without an oceangoing tug in company.

Russia’s only aircraft carrier damaged as its floating dry dock sinks | Ars Technica

One worker missing, four injured; Admiral Kuznetsov’s hull gashed by crane.

Russia’s only aircraft carrier is damaged when dock sinks, crane punches huge hole in ship

The carrier had undergone repairs and was leaving when the floating dock sank.

Shipyard crane rips massive hole in Russia Admiral Kuznetsov carrier – INSIDER

The Kuznetsov now has a massive 214 square foot hole in its hull after a power issue flooded its dry dock and sent a crane crashing down on it.

Russia’s Hard-Luck Carrier Damaged in Shipyard Accident

Adding to its list of woes, the Admiral Kuznetsov now has a hole in it.

Floating dock accident injures 4 in Russia’s Murmansk – Xinhua |

A picture taken on August 19, 2009 shows Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in Murmansk. (AFP Photo) MOSCOW, Oct. 30 (Xinhua) — A floating dock accident injured four workers at a plant in Russia’s Murmansk region, where aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was repaired, local news reported Tuesday. The PD-50 floating dock tanks were abnormally filled during a power failure and the bridgehead abruptly went under water, RIA Novosti news agency quoted a plant representative as saying. Four workers sustained non-life threatening injuries when the floating dock was flooded. The aircraft carrier suffered no damage. It was towed to a regular berth to continue the repair work. The PD-50, one of the world’s largest floating docks, was built in 1980 in Sweden. It was designed for repairing large surface ships and submarines.

U.S. Sanctions against Russia: What You Need to Know | Center for Strategic and International Studies

With a new bill that expands sanctions on Russia circulating within Congress, it is clear that the United States will continue to rely on sanctions as a primary tool for confronting Russia. It is less clear, however, what the many sanctions imposed since 2012 have done to change Russian behavior. Not all sanctions are created equal, and if poorly designed and implemented, sanctions can bring problems as well as benefits for the United States.

A conversation starter for Putin’s 2019 White House visit – To Inform is to Influence

Excerpts made by Boycott Russia Today, on Facebook: …Claiming the United States is starting a new arms race to serve the insatiable appetite of its Military Industrial Complex, the Kremlin’s state-controlled television echoed Putin’s contrivance. …Putin’s KGB past makes him a natural-born hypocrite and purveyor of lies.  …Putin wants to avoid any diplomatic fallout for…

CyberCom Is Targeting Russia’s Election Meddlers — and Changing How Governments Use Cyber – Defense One

Although anonymity is generally prized for successful cyber operations, it might not be ideal in all cases, especially if the United States wants to …

Pentagon teams prep for possible hack on Election Day

The Pentagon will have officials on standby in case of a late-breaking cyber incident during the mid-term elections.

Skripals passed up Australian sanctuary in favour of Britain

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia have been offered a safe house and relocation to one of the Five Eyes countries — Australia included — but they have been reluctant to move from the care of British intelligence after being poisoned with novichok.

UAWire – Russia detains persons involved in leaking Skripal poisoners’ personal data

The Russian news outlet Rosbalt reports that the FSB has identified those involved in leaking the personal data of Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, who were accused by London of poisoning former GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal. According to the agency, the FSB officers executed more than 60 warrants over a “short period” aimed at stopping the leaks the data. “First of all, they came to private detectives and the so-called “pushers”, those who were known to sell data from closed databases,” said the source. The interlocutor said that many cases were initiated in accordance with certain articles of the Russian Criminal Code including “Obtaining and Disclosure of Commercial, Tax or Banking Classified information,” “Exceeding of Authority by a Private Detective” and “Violation of Privacy.” According to the source’s data, a border officer of the northwest region and an employee of the Federal Tax Service department are currently detained. The border officer in particular could have sold information on foreign trips of Petrov and Boshirov, as well as of other persons. The source emphasized that the criminal cases aren’t related to the suspects in Salisbury poisoning. “They were initiated because of information leaks of other persons’ personal data,” the source concluded. On September 14, Bellingcat published the results of a joint investigation with The Insider on the Salisbury incident, which included copies of Petrov and Boshirov’s documents. One of the images showed Petrov’s passport information from the FMS database, with a stamp stating “Do not provide any information”, and the abbreviation “S.S.” which in Russian can stand for “top secret”, indicating that Petrov is an intelligence agent.

U.S. to determine whether to sanction Russia over poisoning of ex-spy in November – Xinhua |

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) — The U.S. State Department said Wednesday that Washington will decide next month whether to impose the second round of sanctions against Moscow over an alleged poison attack on a former Russian spy. “The Chemical and Biological Weapons Act mandates that the State Department certify to the Congress whether Russia has met conditions required by the law three months after the initial determination of the Skripal case,” Robert Palladino, deputy spokesperson of the State Department, said in a press briefing. “Now, that initial determination was made August 6, and that takes us to November 6, which is the certification deadline,” he said. “So November 6, that’s the deadline by which the Department of State must certify to the Congress that Russia has met the conditions in the Chemical and Biological Weapons Act.” “The conditions that we would have to certify are that Russia has ceased and assured that it will not use chemical weapons again, and that it has allowed international inspectors to verify those assurances,” he explained. “So have they taken the steps to get back into compliance is the issue. And if we can’t make such a certification, the State Department is required to impose a second round of sanctions after consultations with the Congress,” he said. However, he refused to tell what sanction measures the United States would take.

Estonia offers West many lessons in battling Russia’s GRU spy agency – The Washington Post

The small Baltic nation aims to rattle Moscow by naming and shaming suspected agents.

A foiled assassination plot in Denmark may have just cost Iran a partner against Trump – The Washington Post

The plot was already uncovered in September and triggered a massive police operation at the time.

Iran news: Denmark demands EU sanctions on Tehran after police foil ‘ASSASSINATION PLOT’ | World | News |

DENMARK has demanded the European Union respond to an Iranian plot to “assassinate” an opposition activist on Danish soil by imposing harsh new sanctions on the Middle Eastern state.

Denmark arrests suspect over Iranian ‘assassination’ plot   – CNN

Denmark’s security forces say they have arrested a man over an alleged plot by the Iranian intelligence service to assassinate an Iranian-Arab opposition figure on Danish soil.

The story behind Iran’s ‘murder plot’ in Denmark – BBC News

Denmark has accused Iran of plotting an activist’s murder on its soil. What’s the story?

Trump gives the all-clear for Iran oil sanctions to kick in Sunday night

President Trump said Wednesday that there is enough oil to support the global energy market without Iran, giving the green light to re-impose energy sanctions on the Islamic Republic next week.

As New Sanctions Loom, U.S. Push Against Iran Faces Steep Obstacles – The New York Times

Efforts to tighten the screws on Tehran could further alienate European allies and bruise relationships with China and India, which continue to buy large amounts of Iranian oil.

Surviving the U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Deal: What We Do—and Don’t—Need to Worry About

In a September interview with Germany’s Der Speigel, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stated that if Europe could not meet Iran’s demands for

HORNS OF A DILEMMA: Middle East Realignment and Israel – War on the Rocks

In this episode of Horns of a Dilemma, Danielle Pletka, the Senior Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise

Key US allies ‘temporarily’ halt campaign against ISIS in Syria following clashes with Turkey – CNNPolitics

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have announced a pause in their campaign against ISIS following clashes between the SDF and Turkish forces, according to two US military officials and a statement from the SDF.

Turkey says 260,000 Syrians have returned to ‘Euphrates Shield’ operation area | Reuters

A total of 260,000 Syrian nationals have returned to a swathe of land in northern Syria where Turkey carried out a cross-border operation dubbed “Euphrates Shield”, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Thursday.

The Palestinians’ Worst Enemy Is Their Own Leaders – WSJ

Human Rights Watch takes a break from Israel-bashing to examine abuses by Fatah and Hamas.

U.S. and Britain Seek Yemen Cease-Fire as Relations With Saudis Cool – The New York Times

Pressure from Saudi Arabia’s biggest arms suppliers intensified to halt a conflict that has created what the United Nations has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

US using Saudi weakness over Khashoggi to push for end to Yemen War – CNNPolitics

The United States is working to capitalize on what it regards as new leverage with Saudi Arabia to end the brutal civil war in Yemen and ease a regional standoff with Qatar, according to multiple US and diplomatic officials.

The Trump administration backs a cease-fire in Yemen. Will it persuade Saudi Arabia? – The Washington Post

In calling for a cease-fire, the United States takes a crucial step

Khashoggi murder: Turkey gives official details of Saudi writer’s death – BBC News

The journalist was choked as soon as he entered the consulate, says Turkey’s first official account.

Tuti Tursilawati: Indonesia says it had no warning Saudi Arabia would be executing maid – The Washington Post

The move has sparked outrage in Indonesia, whose president said he called the Saudi foreign minister to file a complaint.

Saudi Arabia murder: Indonesia maid execution protest after Jamal Khashoggi | World | News |

SAUDI ARABIA has executed an Indonesian maid who allegedly killed her employer in “self-defence” during an attempted rape, causing fresh outrage aimed at the country after the backlash faced following the death of Riyadh dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

Execution of Indonesian maid who killed employer while being raped sparks outrage | Daily Mail Online

Saudi Arabia has executed an Indonesian maid, Tuti Tursilawati,who killed her employer during a rape attack, sparking outrage in Jakarta

Fake news network vs bots: the online war around Khashoggi killing | Reuters

On Oct. 20, Arabic-language website published a report that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had been forced out of power.