#RussiaFail · Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (186)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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The Russian propaganda machine has been unusually subdued. Lavrov complains about NATO EX activity and sanctions, while media continues to reverberate with the high risk intercept of the EP-3C by a Russian FLANKER, likely an Su-27SM of the 62nd Fighter Regiment, 27th Combined Air Division of the VKS based at the occupied Ukrainian airbase at Belbek. Krasnaya Zvezdapublish a summary of MoD accomplishments including a claim that cruise missile warstocks grew thirtyfold since 2012. Midterms outcome poorly received in Muscovy, but they should have planned for this after they did what they did in 2016. Good essay on INF by LtGen Deptula. RAND on social media influence, commentary by Harding. Khamrayev on Russian public expectations for welfare over weapons. Shiropayev compares today’s Russia to the structures and culture of the Ivan IV period:  “Moscow seized and occupied Rus,” … “that is the starting point for an understanding of the origin of the Russian state and the term ‘Russia.’”, …“We live in a state established by Ivan the Terrible. The appearance of Vladimir Sorokin’s book, The Day of the Oprichnik, is extremely noteworthy – the intuition of a real writer is always unerring.” Popken’s Factory of lies spells out to media and public alike the extent to which most of the  “innovative” Russian propaganda techniques are repackaged and digitised variants of Soviet practices – the only novelty is in the minds of Western media luminaries. Montenegro and Macedonia meddling updates.

UK updates – Zizzi’s reopens, Russian diaspora fearful of informants in their midst reporting to Muscovy, former FSB officer lectures at Moscow State University on how the UK outplayed Russia in the IW game over Salisbury claiming the whole case was fabricated by Western three letter agencies (textbook mirroring), and three interesting reports on the GRU.

Many reports on Iran mostly covering sanctions impacts, and Iran’s ceaseless outbursts over the matter – the regime could compete with Muscovy in mendacity and blameshifting.

Russia makes more threats against Israel, Israel comments on the S-300PM2, more on the Pantsir-S1 / SA-22 RPV embarrassment, and disturbing reports on the 202 mass graves full of ISIS victims.

Saudi update.


UAWire – Lavrov expresses concern over NATO activity near Russian borders

RIA Novosti reports that the Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov stated that Russia could not disregard the increase in NATO activity near their borders. “We cannot disregard such a serious destabilizing factor in the Atlantic, as the revitalization of NATO activities on the Russian border,” he said following talks in Madrid with the Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell. Lavrov added that he discussed with his Spanish colleague the relationship between Russia and the European Union and noted that both sides have a sincere interest in their normalization. Earlier, the Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu stated that NATO activity near Russian borders had reached a level unmatched since the Cold War. According to him, the Alliance is increasing their military presence on the east flank.

Poland, Baltic States Host Their Biggest-Ever NATO Military Drills

Around 17,500 soldiers from 10 NATO member states are participating in military drills that started on November 7 in Poland and the Baltics, the Polish Defense Ministry announced.

Russian intercept marks a return to Cold War behavior in Europe’s skies

Russian fighters buzzing U.S. Navy recon planes in Eastern Europe could lead to disaster, analysts warn.

The Aviationist » Here’s The Video Of The Russian Su-27 That Performed An Unsafe Intercept On A U.S. EP-3E Aircraft Earlier Today

By David Cenciotti Another “ordinary day” of Cold War over the Black Sea. A U.S. EP-3E Aries aircraft flying in international airspace over the Black Sea was intercepted by a Russian SU-27 on Nov. 5, 2018. According to the U.S. Navy 6th Fleet, “this interaction was determined to be unsafe due to the SU-27 conducting a high speed pass directly in front of the mission aircraft, which put our pilots and crew at risk. The intercepting SU-27 made an additional pass, closing with the EP-3 and applying its afterburner while conducting a banking turn away. The crew of the EP-3 reported turbulence following the first interaction, and vibrations from the second. The duration of the intercept was approximately 25 minutes.” “While the Russian military is within its right to exercise within international airspace, this interaction was irresponsible. We expect them to behave within international standards set to ensure safety and to prevent incidents, including the 1972 Agreement for the Prevention of Incidents On and Over the High Seas (INCSEA). Unsafe actions‎ increase the risk of miscalculation and potential for midair collisions. The U.S. aircraft was operating in accordance with international law and did not provoke this Russian activity.” Here’s the video. It’s not clear whether this is the closest one of the EP-3 intelligence gathering plane.

Russian military planes make pair of provocative appearances during NATO war games | Fox News

A Russian jet’s “unsafe” intercept of a U.S. aircraft and a Kremlin spy plane’s conspicuous presence during the largest post-Cold War NATO military exercise highlighted the continuing tensions between many alliance nations and Vladimir Putin’s government.

UAWire – US aircraft conducts reconnaissance flight near annexed Crimea

A US Navy P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft flew near the Kerch Strait, as reported on Tuesday, November 6 by Interfax, citing the monitoring data of Western aviation resources. The American aircraft took off from Sigonella Naval Air Station in Sicilia, Italy and held a long flight over the international waters of the Black Sea, 35 km south of the entrance to the Kerch Strait. During its flight, the Poseidon also flew near Sevastopol and the coast of Krasnodar Krai. A US Air Force strategic drone also took off from the base in Sicilia and held a reconnaissance flight for over four and half hours near the Crimea and the coast of Krasnodar Krai on Tuesday. Before that, the drone flew over the demarcation line in the Donbas for six hours during which it approached the Russian border at a distance of 45 to 60 km.

Cruise missiles number increases by 30 times over six years, – Russia’s Defence Ministry – 112.international

Over the past six years, the number of cruise missiles the Russian army has increased by 30 times. While the amount of the carriers of land, sea and air basing rose by more than 12 times, as Russian military forces departmental newspaper Red Star reported. In particular, mass-produced supplies of 9K720 Iskander, a mobile short-range ballistic missile system, surface ships and submarines with Club-S defence system are underway. The article dedicated to the 6th anniversary of Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s Minister of Defence, time in office, that sue to the modernization of the Russian army, the emphasis was placed on re-equipment of the troops with brand new systems and complexes. The percentage of modern weapons and military equipment of the strategic nuclear forces increased from 31% to 81%.

Ambitious tasks must always be set — “Красная звезда”

This installation of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Army Sergei Shoigu, appointed Minister of Defense on November 6, 2012, is as relevant today as six years ago. … The emphasis is on re-equipping the troops with the most modern systems and complexes, the appearance of which was made possible thanks to the concerted efforts of the military department and the military-industrial complex.In the Strategic Nuclear Forces, the share of modern weapons and military equipment has increased from 37 to 81 percent. The development of their ground component, the Strategic Missile Forces, continues. Promising complexes are being developed, including those with a heavy intercontinental ballistic missile. The technical characteristics of the new systems will make it possible to use more effective types of combat equipment for the head parts of the missiles and means for overcoming the antimissile defense. For them, no, even promising missile defense systems of leading foreign countries are not a hindrance. Missile defense systems in the fight against them lose their meaning.Missile strategic submarines of the new generation “Borey” began to arrive in the combat composition of the Naval strategic nuclear forces. At the same time, work began on creating an atomic submarine cruiser with improved characteristics of the Borey-B. Due to the modernization of the strategic missile-carriers Tu-160M ​​and Tu-95MS, the recovery of the production of Tu-160M ​​aircraft increases the air component of the strategic nuclear forces. In addition, the development of a promising long-range aviation complex has begun. At the same time, work on the modernization and development of this unique complex is under special control of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Minister of Defense, which is also confirmed by their visit to the aviation plant in Kazan.According to General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, the Tu-160 is “a unique machine, which was ahead of its time by several decades and has not yet fully utilized the constructive possibilities inherent in it”. “No one has yet invented the best aircraft in the supersonic class,” the defense minister said. In order to increase the effectiveness of the use and prolong the service life of strategic rocket carriers at aircraft factories, they are being repaired and upgraded. In accordance with the schedules of the aircraft are equipped with a new cruise missile X-101. Recently, the Ministry of Defense, on the instructions of the President of Russia – the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, conducted an exercise of the Strategic Nuclear Forces. Training and combat launches of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, air-based cruise missiles and aircraft-guided missiles from the waters of the Barents and Okhotsk seas, as well as long-range aircraft operating from several airfields. All training goals at the sites were amazed. Moreover, all launches of submarine ballistic missiles were promptly detected by a single space system and ground-based radar stations. …. Since 2013, more than 200 modern aircraft have entered the VCS annually. These include airplanes of tactical aviation Su-30SM, Su-35S, Su-34, MiG-31BM, combat helicopters Ka-52, Mi-28N.At the control of the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, the development of a heavy military transport aircraft Il-76MD-90A and the creation on its base of a modern tanker aircraft. For this purpose, research and development work is being carried out, the implementation of which will allow increasing the mass of transported cargoes and the distance of their transportation, increasing the combat capabilities of front-line, special and long-range aviation. State tests of a prototype military transport aircraft are being completed, and a prototype model of a tanker aircraft will be manufactured in the first quarter of next year, Army General Sergei Shoigu said at a conference call on Friday. …..

New U.S. sanctions over chemical weapons would be ‘illegal’: Kremlin | Reuters

Russia would consider any new chemical weapons-related sanctions imposed by the United States to be illegal, a Kremlin spokesman said on Wednesday.

Russia says it would treat new sanctions as ‘illegal’ | TheHill

Russia will consider criminal any sanctions imposed by the U.S. over the chemical weapon poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, the Kremlin announced Wednesday.

Russia, China Lash Out At U.S. Sanctions While Forging Closer Ties

Russian and Chinese leaders are lashing out at U.S. sanctions and tariffs that they say are undermining the global trading system built by Washington, and said the measures have served to cement cl…

Putin’s upset the Trump administration just announced new sanctions on Russia, but Vlad has only himself to blame

While Russian President Vladimir Putin’s chief spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, is upset about U.S. sanctions announced Tuesday, his government only has itself to blame.

Russia to face ‘more draconian’ US sanctions over Skripal poisoning | South China Morning Post

US officials have warned that sanctions would be substantial, potentially affecting diplomatic relations, trade or banking ties

U.S. intends more sanctions on Russia over chemical weapons: spokeswoman – To Inform is to Influence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department intends to impose more sanctions on Russia for failing to meet conditions under an international chemical weapons law after a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain in March, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday. “Today, the Department informed Congress we could not certify that…

Trump administration tells Congress Moscow has triggered new sanctions | TheHill

The Trump administration has informed Congress that Russia has not complied with a series of requirements necessary for Moscow to evade a second round of U.S. sanctions over the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in Britain.

Trump team misses deadline for new round of Russia sanctions

President Trump’s administration missed a legal deadline for a second round of sanctions pursuant to Russia’s use of a chemical weapon in a high-profile assassination attempt this year, a top Republican complained Tuesday.

Hunt To Call Russian Diplomats Expulsion Over Skripal Case Demonstration Of UK-French Ties – UrduPoint

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt will underscore UK-French post-Brexit ties by noting close cooperation between the countries which has recently manifested itself, among other situations, when both Paris and London expelled Russian diplomats in the wake of the poisoning incident in the UK city of Sa ..

U.S. To Impose New Russia Sanctions Over Skripal Poisoning

The United States says it is eyeing fresh sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of a Russian former spy in Britain earlier this year.

‘Can’t Get Much Worse, Probably Won’t Get Better’: Kremlin On U.S. Ties After Elections

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says that relations with the United States cannot get much worse, but also suggests that prospects for improvement are hard to discern following the mid…

Midterm election results: Russia unhappy Democrats won the House – Vox

The 2018 US midterm election results are in, and Russia feels like it lost because Democrats took the House.

Democratic House Brings Uncertainty To Trump Foreign Policy

Republicans, who controlled both chambers of U.S. Congress for the first two years of the Trump presidency, didn’t always see eye to eye with his administration. What happens now that Democrats hav…

Russia poses very clear and present threat, – US urges EU to maintain sanctions against Moscow

07.11.18 10:33 – Russia poses very clear and present threat, – US urges EU to maintain sanctions against Moscow A senior U.S. state department official says sanctions against Russia need to remain in place until the Kremlin shows the behavioural change. View news.

Russia shows military might in Black Sea and beyond – media | UNIAN

Since illegally annexing Crimea in 2014, Russia has drastically increased its military presence in the Black Sea region. The Kremlin’s dominance may be temporary given NATO’s greater capacities, but so far, NATO’s response has been limited. The Kremlin has consistently upgraded its military capabilities over the past five years.

 

Dave Deptula | Whether INF In Or Out, China Must Be Checked | Forbes

President Trump recently made it clear that he intends to withdraw from the 1987 intermediate range nuclear forces treaty. Beyond the merits of being in or out, the U.S. must address the treaty’s unintended consequences that resulted in China’s conventionally-armed missile advantage in the Pacific.

New RAND Research:  Countering Russian Social Media Influence – To Inform is to Influence

I found the report good, but not very good. The report is written in a “little map, big hand” fashion. The recommendations are general, so vague as to not have substance, and not really useful. Of note, the onus is placed on Social Media corporations to “inform key audiences”. Hopefully, that includes educating users as to Russian (and Chinese) propaganda, disinformation, and fake news efforts, methodologies, and examples. The most aggressive recommendation? Besides diplomatic efforts to discourage Russian aggression, “Deter or curtail activities of known Russian proxies.” To do that effectively probably requires an update to the FARA, not covered in the report, and will require a major legislative action. It does, however, recommend a public-private partnership, but the details were vague and not encouraging. Totally outside the scope of this study, most likely, is the recognition that: There is no appointed Director of the Global Engagement Center, only an acting director, Daniel Kimmage. There is no Under Secretary of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, the acting is Heather Nauert, who was just nominated to be US Ambassador to the UN. There is also no Deputy Director of National Security for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, …so there is no top cover, no national-level synchronization, coordination within the US Strategic Communications community and not with overseas counterparts. As a result, the GEC may “take charge” of the overall effort but will lack the horsepower to ram through any powerful initiatives, will be strained to push through legislation in Congress, it will be difficult to get Department of Justice cooperation in new initiatives, it will be a leap to get other parts of the Strategic Communications community and other parts of the US Government to cooperate, allocate scarce resources, or otherwise do anything not already being done. <\end editorial>

Elizabeth Bodine-Baron, Todd C. Helmus, Andrew Radin, Elina Treyger | Countering Russian Social Media Influence | RAND

In January 2017, the U.S. intelligence community released a public report detailing a Russian influence campaign, ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to disrupt the U.S. presidential election. Part of a larger multifaceted approach, this campaign included social media–based disinformation spread by both automated bots and paid trolls. Russia’s strategy was to push several conflicting narratives simultaneously, deepening existing divisions within American society and degrading trust in Western institutions and the democratic process. While it is unknown what impact the campaign might have had on the 2016 presidential election, or on individual opinions, it is clear that Russia’s efforts reached many Americans through a variety of social media platforms, including Twitter and Facebook. The Russian “disinformation chain” that directs these campaigns starts from the very top — from Russian leadership, to Russian organs and proxies, through amplification channels such as social media platforms, and finally to U.S. media consumers. This report categorizes and analyzes different approaches and policy options to respond to the specific threat of Russian influence via disinformation spread on social media in the United States. It is meant to educate and inform U.S. government officials considering policies for combating Russian disinformation; social media companies undertaking efforts to reduce the spread of disinformation on their platforms; NGOs, think tanks, and academics developing new approaches to address the threat of disinformation; and the American public.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Russians Now Want Social State and Democracy More than Military Might, Institute of Sociology Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 6 – A new survey by the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences says that Russians still want their country to be a great power but that only on condition that it is concerned about the well-being of its own citizens, a major shift in priorities from 2014 when state power far outranked everything else. Kommersant journalist Viktor Khamrayev reports on the shifts the institute’s scholars have found in Russian attitudes over the last four years, changes that are at odds with Vladimir Putin’s expressed preferences and that help to explain both voting patterns and protests in recent months (kommersant.ru/doc/3792003). “Justice, great power status and democracy are the preferences Russians have expressed to the scientific research center of the Institute of Sociology,” Khamrayev says. In October 2014, only “justice and great power status were important for Russians.” And then, Russians viewed the Crimea’s annexation as “the restoration of justice at the level of foreign policy.” Four years ago, two Russians out of three said that “’Russia must be a great power with strong armed forces.’ Now only 49 percent say that while 51 pe3rcent are convinced that ‘Russia must in the first instance be concerned about the well-being of its own citizens and its power status and military might are secondary.’” Khamrayev notes that today “in the opinion of the majority, the status of ‘a great power’ depends not as much on foreign as on domestic policy,” which must ensure a developed economy and a high level of social well-being, according to Vladimir Petukhov, one of the sociologists who led the study. Foreign policy issues remain important “for a minority.” Thirteen percent say that “Russia must ‘become a world center of influence,’” eight percent say it must be a bridge between Europe and Asia, and seven percent say it should seek control over the territory of the former Soviet Union. Over the last four years, the institute found, Russians have shifted in their ideas about what the future of Russia should look like. Social justice remains central: it in fact rose from 47 percent to 59 percent.” This isn’t about social levelling, Petukhov says, but about equality of opportunity and before the law. Russians have also increased the value they put on democracy. In 2014, only 27 percent said that was a priority. Now, 37 percent do.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Moscow Still an Occupying Power over Russia, One with No Possibility of Evolving, Shiropayev Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 5 – Since the time of the Mongol conquest, when the Horde gave to Moscow the task of doing “the dirty work” of the occupation by the Mongols of Russian lands, the rulers in that city have continued to treat the rest of the territory and population as any other occupying force would, according to Aleksey Shiropayev. If that origin as reified by Ivan the Terrible, the true “founding father of Russia” is not recognized and if the way in which the Bolsheviks only intensified that pattern of colonial rule, the Russian regionalist says, there is no hope for understanding the situation of Russia today or why such a regime can rot but not reform (afterempire.info/2018/10/30/occupant/). “Moscow seized and occupied Rus,” Shiropayev argues, and that is “the starting point for an understanding of the origin of the Russian state and the term ‘Russia.’” Ivan the Terrible was a true follower of the policy of an occupier. Indeed, one can say that that is “’the secret’ of that ruler.” Ivan’s era, the analyst continues, was “the era of the final and one can say Bolshevik-style suppression of Rus by Russia.” The ruler’s oprichniks were simply a new variant of the khan’s baskaks on the Russian land; and the tsar himself was typologically a khan.” As such, the former were nothing so much as “a band of occupiers” headed by “an occupier tsar.” “This became the genetic code of Russian statehood,” Shiropayev says, something so deeply rooted that that it continues to give that arrangement is “occupation and repressive character.” The Bolsheviks only reinforced this pattern, he continues. The international composition of that party’s ranks initially perfectly corresponded to Ivan’s oprichniks which were also “international” and not Russian in their composition. Stalin’s parallels with Ivan are even more obvious, although their most profound aspect is often overlooked. And that is the desire to shut Russia off from influence coming in from the West. To that end, “Stalin and company openly reproduced, true, in much greater size, the genocidal-repressive methods of Ivan the Terrible and his grandson, Ivan III. There was a multitude of examples” to emulate. “What more is there to say?” Shiropayev asks rhetorically. “We live in a state established by Ivan the Terrible. The appearance of Vladimir Sorokin’s book, The Day of the Oprichnik, is extremely noteworthy – the intuition of a real writer is always unerring.” And Ivan’s system lives on in today’s special services and the interior ministry as anyone can testify. According to the analyst, “the ‘organs’ in their attitude toward the people retranslate the position of the state as a whole. And this occupier-state cannot be changed. It can rot, it can fall apart, it can go insane, and it can even mimic something else, but it cannot become otherwise, free and open.” Its genetic code is just too deeply embedded for that.

Russia gives instant messengers 20 minutes to verify users’ identities — Meduza

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has approved bylaws regulating the identification of instant messenger users. The new requirements will take effect 180 days after the new bylaws are published officially, obligating messenger administrators to verify users’ identities through their telephone numbers.

Factory of lies: Russia’s disinformation playbook exposed – To Inform is to Influence

‘Twenty years ago the Russians had to recruit journalists to find people to disseminate something… nowadays they just have to start a meme.’ Nov. 6, 2018 / 1:02 AM GMT By Ben Popken Americans who want to be ready for the next Russian attack can just read an old newspaper. During the Cold War, hundreds of…

Ben Popken | Factory of lies: Russia’s disinformation playbook exposed

The ‘fake news’ and disinformation tactics Russia perfected before social media was even invented reveal how they could go after our next election.

UAWire – Montenegro’s opposition leaders suspected of attempting a coup ask Putin and Macron for help

The leaders of the opposition coalition “Democratic Front” of Montenegro, Milan Knezevich and Andrija Mandic wrote an open letter to the presidents of Russia and France, Serbian authorities, as well as the leaders of the PACE and the European Parliament. In the letter, the politicians claim that they and their supporters are subjected to prosecution, including judicial. Knezevich and Mandic believe that their case has political motives. They said that the court revoked their passports, which prevents them from engaging in political activities. Knezevich and Mandic are asking the leaders of Russia and France, as well as the European Union, to use their authority and help stop the “Kafkaesque prosecution.” Milan Knezevich and Andrija Mandic accused of involvement in an attempted coup in Montenegro on October 16, 2016. According to investigators, the Serbian and Montenegro nationalists wanted to seize the parliament building on Election Day, kill the country’s Prime Minister, Milo Dukanovic, change power, and eventually prevent Montenegro from joining NATO.

Meet Moscow’s Man in Macedonia, One of Putin’s Many Pals Disrupting Europe

Kremlin continues to sell its Eurasian Union in the Balkans and Eastern Europe. But buyers should beware.

A former FSB agent is teaching students at Moscow State University how Britain defeated Russia in the ‘infowar’ over Sergey Skripal — Meduza

Moscow State University’s Political Science Department offers an elective course on “information war” where students are currently learning how Western intelligence agencies falsified news about the attempted assassination of Sergey Skripal and his daughter in order to embarrass the Kremlin and erode international trust in Russia.

Russian expats in Britain fear HALF of them are Kremlin informants | Daily Mail Online

Putin’s Kremlin are in the midst of a new cold war with Britain after GRU agents were sent to assassinate Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury with novichok in March.

Russian expats in Britain fear Kremlin informants among them – report | UNIAN

On Monday a report called Putin Sees and Hears It All: How Russia’s Intelligence Agencies Menace The UK revealed the industrial scale of his espionage operation in Britain. The report cites the case of Vladimir Ashurkov, who came to Britain in 2014 after he requested asylum ‘due to political persecution’ by authorities, according to the Daily Mail. He fled to London after being intimidated by the Kremlin for supporting the opposition but quickly realized he was being followed everywhere he went. On one occasion he met a fellow businessman for coffee in a cafe popular with Russians but afterwards became sure that one or more people there were listening in. His friend “traveled to Moscow the following week and he met with some people from the security services. They knew about our meeting, where we met and what we discussed,” according to today’s report. Mr Ashurkov has said he has “learnt to be vigilant at émigré gatherings listening out for who was talking about politics, security and other sensitive topics, aware that they might be informants collecting information and sending it to Moscow.” Read more on UNIAN: https://www.unian.info/world/10326051-russian-expats-in-britain-fear-kremlin-informants-among-them-report.html

Russia’s Military Spies Are a Laughing Stock, But They’re Dangerous as Hell

MOSCOW—A curious game of spy versus spy has gone public in Russia over the last week. According to the official news agency of the Russian Federation, Rosbalt, agents of the Federal Security Service (the FSB) have staged raids on more than 60 state officials and private investigators to try to stanch the flow of leaks revealing the incompetence of Russia’s main military intelligence agency, the GRU (full name: Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation). That won’t be an easy job. The GRU has gained a reputation of late as the most public and aggressive of Russia’s security services, Putin’s not-so-secret weapon. Election hacks in the U.S. (revealed in extraordinary detail by one of the Mueller investigation’s indictments), destructive cyberattacks targeting Ukraine, the Skripal poisonings in Britain, an attempted coup in Montenegro, traveling in person to hack investigations targeting Russian scandals such as the doping of Olympic athletes and the Russian role downing a Malaysian airliner over Ukraine in 2014—the GRU had a hand in all of those incidents, and more, Western governments say. But at the same time and in many of those same operations, the GRU acquired a reputation for scoring what The Guardian calls “own goals,” the most obvious of which is the failure to preserve the anonymity of the murderers sent to Britain to poison GRU defector Sergei Skripal with the obscure and particularly Russian nerve agent known as novichok. Only the Saudis have proved more incompetent at cover-ups. Many of the FSB raids last week, according to Rosbalt, were meant to discover who let out the real names of “Alexander Petrov” and “Ruslan Boshirov,” the two GRU officers initially said to have been visiting Salisbury, England—Skripal’s home—as mere tourists. With so many missteps, it is unsurprising that the GRU is feeling pressure at home. Instead of a grand celebration for their recent 100th anniversary, the GRU reportedly had a senior meeting during which it was accused of “complete incompetence” and “boundless sloppiness.” There are even rumors that GRU Director Colonel General Igor Korobov met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss his agency’s many failures, a meeting that Korobov found so stressful that he reportedly collapsed upon arriving home.

Putin news: 100th anniversary celebrations of GRU CANCELLED after Salisbury blunders | World | News | Express.co.uk

VLADIMIR Putin has cancelled plans to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his bungling GRU spy agency because of the Salisbury poisoning disaster. The Kremlin’s once-mighty espionage services – believed to be behind the attempted murder of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal – have been ridiculed by British military experts. Putin’s 80,000-strong spy network were mocked after a string of cock-ups involving Mr Skripal’s would-be assassins Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga. To add further embarrassment, the Kremlin’s botched cyber attack on the world’s chemical weapons watchdog to extract information on the Salisbury poisonings investigation was also exposed. Four blundering agents from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s GRU military intelligence service were caught attempting to hack into the computer systems of the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons using antennae hidden under a coat in a hire parked yards from its headquarters in the Netherlands. And now it has emerged furious Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is a former KGB spy, has scrapped plans to mark the centenary of the spy agency. A former senior KGB officer revealed Putin is privately furious with the GRU. He told The Daily Mirror: “Putin was a KGB man – he always had his doubts about the GRU and this failed mission has only emphasised those.” Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, an ex-Nato chief, blasted the agency as being “inept and unprofessional”. He said: “The GRU is in meltdown. “There have been purges. Our intelligence agencies are watching with wry amusement at how bad they are.”

What is the GRU? Who gets recruited to be a spy? Why are they exposed so often? Here are the most important things you should know about Russia’s intelligence community — Meduza

Both at home and abroad, the Russian abbreviation of the year has been “GRU” — the erstwhile but still commonly used initialism for the country’s Military Intelligence Directorate. The agency’s staff now stand accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee computer network and trying to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election; hacking various anti-doping agencies and the International Court of Arbitration; and trying to hack the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in the Netherlands. Additionally, in what has led to a new wave of Western sanctions against Russia, GRU agents are also accused of poisoning Sergey Skripal (a former GRU colonel who spied for the British) in Salisbury, England. “Alexander Petrov” and “Ruslan Boshirov” — the two individuals identified by London police who came to Salisbury to try to kill Skripal — are apparently cover names for the GRU agents Alexander Mishkin and Anatoly Chepiga. To add some context to this explosion of publicity, Meduza special correspondent Daniil Turovsky reviews the past and present of Russia’s intelligence community.

Salisbury restaurant where Skripals dined reopens after eight months | UK news | The Guardian

General manager of Zizzi branch says reopening is a milestone in city’s recovery

Months after closure, restaurant in Skripal poisoning reopens – ABC News

The restaurant where a former double agent was poisoned has reopened.

Bolton: Iran Sanctions Having “Enormous” Economic Consequences; Iran Is In A Depression | Video | RealClearPolitics

National security adviser John Bolton told FBN’s Maria Bartiromo on Monday that sanctions have had an “enormous” effect on Iran’s economy, driving them into a depression. “We’ve already seen the consequences in Iran”. Bolton told FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo. “The rial, the currency, has declined by 70 percent since the sanctions, inflation has quadrupled. The country is in recession.  MARIA BARTIROMO, MORNINGS WITH MARIA HOST: Joining me right now is National Security Advisor, John Bolton, and it is good to see you, Ambassador. Thank you so much for being here. JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR OF THE UNITED STATES: Glad to be here. BARTIROMO: So tell me really the teeth on these sanctions. What is it going to do to Iran practically speaking? BOLTON: Well, I think the sanctions in the aggregate are already having an enormous effect on Iran. You know, when the president announced we were withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal in May of this year, big businesses that had prospects or even some trade and investment with Iran weren’t going to wait for the sanctions actually to take effect. They’ve pulled out. They’ve cut back in many ways, and I think we’ve already seen the consequences in Iran. The rial, the currency’s declined about 70 percent since the sanctions, inflation has quadrupled, the country is in recession.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that the United States will exert “relentless” pressure on Iran unless it behaves “like a normal country.”

Iran sanctions: US vows ‘relentless’ pressure as sanctions resume – BBC News

The US Secretary of State says Iran must “act like a normal country, or… see its economy crumble”.

Oil Markets Yawn As Iran Sanctions Come Into Effect

The market response to the official imposition of U.S. sanctions against Iran has been muted thus far. Should we be surprised?

Iran official: Sanctions seek ‘to impose US nationalism’ on world | USA News | Al Jazeera

Speaking in London, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed M Kazem Sajjadpour says US move will have limited impact.

How Iran Sanctions Wrongfooted Oil Bulls – WSJ

Oil prices have plunged ahead of the reimposition of sanctions on Iran for a variety of reasons, but that situation could change next year.

Oil Teeters on Brink of a Bear Market – WSJ

Oil prices are in danger of ending their longest bull market in a decade.

Iran says it is selling the oil it needs to, despite U.S. pressure | Reuters

Iran said on Tuesday it had so far been able to sell as much oil as it needs despite U.S. pressure, but it urged European countries opposed to U.S. sanctions to do more to shield Iran, as Russia and Turkey also voiced their objections.

Iran sanctions: US fails to shut down oil exports ahead of deadline – CNN

US sanctions on Iran that are supposed to prevent it from selling oil on world markets went into effect on Monday.

🇮🇷Iran’s Rouhani remains defiant, calls the US president ‘racist’ l Al Jazeera English – YouTube

Al Jazeera English Published on Nov 5, 2018 Iran has remained defiant in the face of US sanctions. President Rouhani had harsh words for the US president and claimed that US exemptions to sanctions on oil issued to eight nations were a victory for Iran.

Iran sanctions: The view from the bazar – BBC News – YouTube

BBC News Published on Nov 5, 2018 The second stage of the US re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran comes into effect today. The sanctions, which came after US president Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, will this time extend to Iran’s oil industry, shipping, insurance and central bank. But what impact do these sanctions already have on everyday life in Iran? The BBC’s Ali Hashem visited Isfahan, Iran’s third biggest city, and he brings in this report a rare glimpse of how businesses there are coping.

Sanctions: Iran says nuke deal talks would require new US approach

Iran’s top diplomat told USA TODAY his government would consider fresh diplomacy if there were sufficient “foundations for a fruitful dialogue.”

North Korea, China, and Iran hate Trump’s foreign policy – Vox

North Korea threatened to build more nuclear weapons, China said it would outlast the trade war, and Iran said it would “break” new sanctions.

Iran Sanctions Explained: U.S. Goals, and the View From Tehran – The New York Times

The Trump administration just imposed what it called the biggest sanctions action ever taken by the U.S. against Iran. Why? And what may happen next?

Iran sanctions: Rouhani defiant as US re-imposes measures – BBC News

The US is re-imposing sanctions that were lifted as part of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Trump must get ready for the Iranian storm

President Trump must anticipate Iran’s response. The Islamic revolutionary republic is highly likely to lash out in some violent or destabilizing fashion.

Trump’s sanctions against Iran help the US’s enemies and weaken its friends | Simon Jenkins | Opinion | The Guardian

Economic sanctions will only embolden hardliners, writes Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins

Turkey threatens not to comply with US sanctions against Iran

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday Turkey would not abide by the renewed U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil and shipping industries, adding that they were aimed at “unbalancing the world”.

UAWire – Lavrov: Israel’s actions threaten the lives of Russian soldiers in Syria

On multiple occasions, Israel’s actions have put the lives of Russian soldiers in Syria at risk, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais. He made the comment in response to a question about the Russian-Israeli agreements to cooperate in order to ensure the safety of flights over Syria. The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that the leaders of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu, have only reached verbal agreement and a common understanding of the problem. As such, there is no written agreement as there was in the case of the memorandum to prevent flight incidents in Syria signed by the US and Russia in 2015. “Unfortunately, Israel has not always clearly met its obligations, especially with respect to warning the Russian military about military operations being carried out in Syrian territory. In a number of cases, this has threatened the lives and health of our soldiers in Syria – for example, when Israeli planes bombarded facilities in the Palmyra region in March 2017,” Lavrov observed. Lavrov added that Russia warned that such an attitude could lead to tragic consequences, but Israel continued to launch attacks. “Such signals were communicated through all the channels and on the very highest level. At the same time, we emphasized that forceful actions cannot solve the issues Israel is concerned about in the area of security, and will only increase regional tension. Nevertheless, the practice of launching attacks against targets in Syria has continued,” he noted. Lavrov claims that this is what led to the downing of the Russian Il-20 aircraft and the death of all 15 Russians on board. The Russian reconnaissance plane was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea on September 17 by a Syrian-operated S-200 anti-air missile system. The Syrian anti-air defense was attempting to repel an Israeli F-16 air strike on Syrian facilities in the Latakia province, but mistakenly hit the Russian aircraft, which was unable to leave the region in time.

UAWire – Israel does not rule out striking Russian S-300 air defense systems in Syria

The Israeli Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Environmental and Cultural Heritage Protection Ze’ev Elkin’s stated that if the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems deployed in Syria open fire on the Israeli Air Force, Israel might strike at them, reports TASS. “By supplying such weapons to the Syrians, Russia bears partial responsibility for its use,” he stressed. According to Elkin, Israel “has been doing everything in its power throughout all these years” so that the Russian soldiers in Syria would not suffer. He also recalled that the Iranians “more than once or twice” used Russian soldiers as a “human shield” for the weapons transfer to Syria.

UAWire – Israel promises not to allow new incidents with Russian military aircraft in Syria

The TASS news agency reported citing the director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Euro-Asia Department Jacob Livne that Israel would do everything to ensure that incidents similar to the tragedy with the Russian military aircraft Il-20 do not happen again. According to him, immediately after the crash, the head of the Israeli Air Force arrived in Moscow and handed data about the incident to the Russian authorities. “The situation is quite clear, transparent, we handed over all information to our Russian colleagues,” said Livne. Earlier, the Deputy Director General of the Foreign Ministry Euro-Asia Department of Israel Alex Ben-Zvi reported that Russian and Israeli military continue to remain in contact despite the crash of the Il-20. According to him, there is a “mechanism of resolving conflicts” between the two parties.

UAWire – Experts: Pantsir-S1 air defense systems unable to protect Russian base in Syria

The Pantsir-S1 anti-air missile systems which are deployed in Russia’s Khmeimim air base in Syria are useless, according to the post published on the Telegram channel “Military Journalists”. A similar statement was earlier posted on Facebook by Viktor Murakhovsky, a well-known Russian military expert and editor-in-chief of the “Arsenal of the Fatherland” journal. However, Murakhovsky deleted the post one day later, says military expert Alexey Khlopotov. The authors of the Telegram Channel believe that this shows that Russian journalists and experts are only permitted to admire Russia’s military might, but are not allowed to criticize the achievements of Russia’s military and military industry. According to Khlopotov’s personal experience, sometimes it is inadvisable even to praise Russian weapons. The negative comments about the Pantsir-S1 systems were prompted by an article which reported a statement, supposedly made by anonymous anti-air officers in Latakia, that “in a real combat situation, the Pantsir does not justify the hopes placed on it”. The Military Journalists channel pointed out that the systems can “barely see” slow-moving and small targets such as drones, but do detect birds, which confuses the systems operators. The sources claim that the Tor-M2U systems are more effective. “On July 1, the first drone attack occurred, and three drones from the group were able to fly up to the Russian base and drop nine makeshift explosive devices. Immediately after the start of the attack, the Tor-M2U crew detected the targets and destroyed four drones with five ground-guided missiles at altitudes between 2.5 and 3 kilometers. Another three drones were shot down by the Pantsir-S1, but it used 13 missiles to do it,” the publication states. The Russian Defense Ministry, which regularly publishes reports of drones being shot down over the Russian base, evidently prefers not to clarify what was used to shoot them down. The Pantsir-S1 was developed by the Instrument Design Bureau, a subsidiary of the Rostec corporation. The Tor systems, on the other hand, were developed by Almaz-Antey, which is owned by the Russian government. During an Israeli air strike on Iranian forces in Syria on May 10, a Pantsir-S1 was also destroyed. Russia stated that the missile system was destroyed because it was unarmed.

Islamic State Dumped At Least 6,000 Bodies In Mass Graves In Iraq, U.N. Says : NPR

“Victims include women, children, elderly and persons with disabilities, members and former members of the Iraqi armed forces and police,” says a new U.N. report that details 202 mass graves.

200 mass graves of thousands of ISIS victims found – CNN

Mass gravesthat may contain up to 12,000 bodies have been found in areas formerly controlled by ISIS, a United Nations report revealed on Tuesday.

IS left 200 mass graves in Iraq – UN – BBC News

As many as 12,000 victims, including women and children, may be buried at the sites.

Thousands Of Bodies Of Islamic State Victims Found In Mass Graves In Iraq, UN Says | HuffPost

The United States estimates between 6,000-12,000 bodies are contained in the 202 graves documented in the report.

Pentagon rejects request for additional military resources in Persian Gulf – CNNPolitics

The Pentagon has rejected a request from the US Central Command for additional military resources in the Persian Gulf to beef up US deterrence against Tehran, according to two defense officials.

Britain Joins Calls To End Hostilities In Yemen, Will Urge UN Action

Britain says it will press UN Security Council members to take fresh action to end the hostilities in Yemen.

Bin Salman launches Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear plant project | Saudi Arabia News | Al Jazeera

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launches project to build the first nuclear research reactor in the kingdom.

Saudi consulate staff ‘tried to rip CCTV out at Istanbul complex to help cover up Khashoggi murder’ | Daily Mail Online

Saudi consulate staff attempted to tear out a security camera inside the building in Istanbul on October 2, the day Jamal Khashoggi walked in and was killed, according to reports in Turkey.

 

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