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12-01-2006, 03:37 AM
Interesting synopsis on Russia.
- GV
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From: Strategic Forecasting, Inc

Russia's Interest in Litvinenko

By George Friedman

The recent death of a former Russian intelligence agent, Alexander
Litvinenko, apparently after being poisoned with polonium-210, raises
three interesting questions. First: Was he poisoned by the Russian
Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the KGB? Second: If so,
what were they trying to achieve? Third: Why were they using
polonium-210, instead of other poisons the KGB used in the past? In
short, the question is, what in the world is going on?

Litvinenko would seem to have cut a traditional figure in Russian and
Soviet history, at least on the surface. The first part of his life was
spent as a functionary of the state. Then, for reasons that are not
altogether clear, he became an exile and a strident critic of the state
he had served. He published two books that made explosive allegations
about the FSB and President Vladimir Putin, and he recently had been
investigating the shooting death of a Russian journalist, Anna
Politkovskaya, who also was a critic of the Putin government. Clearly,
he was intent on stirring up trouble for Moscow.

Russian and Soviet tradition on this is clear: Turncoats like Litvinenko
must be dealt with, for two reasons. First, they represent an ongoing
embarrassment to the state. And second, if they are permitted to
continue with their criticisms, they will encourage other dissidents --
making it appear that, having once worked for the FSB, you can settle
safely in a city like London and hurl thunderbolts at the motherland
with impunity. The state must demonstrate that this will not be
permitted -- that turncoats will be dealt with no matter what the

The death of Litvinenko, then, certainly makes sense from a political
perspective. But it is the perspective of the old Soviet Union -- not of
the new Russia that many believed was being born, slowly and painfully,
with economic opening some 15 years ago. This does not mean, however,
that the killing would not serve a purpose for the Russian
administration, in the current geopolitical context.

For years, we have been forecasting and following the transformation of
Russia under Vladimir Putin. Putin became president of Russia to reverse
the catastrophe of the Yeltsin years. Under communism, Russia led an
empire that was relatively poor but enormously powerful in the
international system. After the fall of communism, Russia lost its
empire, stopped being enormously powerful, and became even poorer than
before. Though Westerners celebrated the fall of communism and the
Soviet Union, these turned out to be, for most Russians, a catastrophe
with few mitigating tradeoffs.

Obviously, the new Russia was of enormous benefit to a small class of
entrepreneurs, led by what became known as the oligarchs. These men
appeared to be the cutting edge of capitalism in Russia. They were
nothing of the sort. They were simply people who knew how to game the
chaos of the fall of communism, figuring out how to reverse Soviet
expropriation with private expropriation. The ability to turn state
property into their own property represented free enterprise only to the
most superficial or cynical viewers.

The West was filled with both in the 1990s. Many academics and
journalists saw the process going on in Russia as the painful birth of a
new liberal democracy. Western financial interests saw it as a
tremendous opportunity to tap into the enormous value of a collapsing
empire. The critical thing is that the creation of value, the
justification of capitalism, was not what was going on. Rather, the
expropriation of existing value was the name of the game. Bankers loved
it, analysts misunderstood it and the Russians were crushed by it.

It was this kind of chaos into which Putin stepped when he became
president, and which he has slowly, inexorably, been bringing to heel
for several years. This is the context in which Litvinenko's death --
which, admittedly, raises many questions -- must be understood.

The Andropov Doctrine

Let's go back to Yuri Andropov, who was the legendary head of the KGB in
the 1970s and early 1980s, and the man who first realized that the
Soviet Union was in massive trouble. Of all the institutions in the
world, the KGB alone had the clearest idea of the condition of the
Soviet Union. Andropov realized in the early 1980s that the Soviet
economy was failing and that, with economic failure, it would collapse.
Andropov knew that the exploitation of Western innovation had always
been vital to the Soviet economy. The KGB had been tasked with economic
and technical espionage in the West. Rather than developing their own
technology, in many instances, the Soviets innovated by stealing Western
technology via the KGB, essentially using the KGB as an research and
development system. Andropov understood just how badly the Soviet Union
needed this innovation and how inefficient the Soviet kleptocracy was.

Andropov engineered a new concept. If the Soviet Union was to survive,
it had to forge a new relationship with the West. The regime needed not
only Western technology, but also Western-style management systems and,
above all, Western capital. Andropov realized that so long as the Soviet
Union was perceived as a geopolitical threat to the West and,
particularly, to the United States, this transfer was not going to take
place. Therefore, the Soviet Union had to shift its global strategy and
stop threatening Western geopolitical interests.

The Andropov doctrine argued that the Soviet Union could not survive if
it did not end, or at least mitigate, the Cold War. Furthermore, if it
was to entice Western investment and utilize that investment
efficiently, it needed to do two things. First, there had to be a
restructuring of the Soviet economy (perestroika). Second, the Soviet
system had to be opened to accept innovation (glasnost). Andropov's
dream for the Soviet Union never really took hold during his lifetime,
as he died several months after becoming the Soviet leader. He was
replaced by a nonentity, Konstantin Chernenko, who also died after a
short time in office. And then there was Mikhail Gorbachev, who came to
embody the KGB's strategy.

Gorbachev was clearly perceived by the West as a reformer, which he
certainly was. But less clear to the West were his motives for reform.
He was in favor of glasnost and perestroika, but not because he rejected
the Soviet system. Rather, Gorbachev embraced these because, like the
KGB, he was desperately trying to save the system. Gorbachev pursued the
core vision of Yuri Andropov -- and by the time he took over, he was the
last hope for that vision. His task was to end the Cold War and trade
geopolitical concessions for economic relations with the West.

It was a well-thought-out policy, but it was ultimately a desperate one
-- and it failed. In conceding Central Europe, allowing it to break away
without Soviet resistance, Gorbachev lost control of the entire empire,
and it collapsed. At that point, the economic restructuring went out of
control, and openness became the cover for chaos -- with the rising
oligarchs and others looting the state for personal gain. But one thing
remained: The KGB, both as an institution and as a group of individuals,
continued to operate.

Saving the System: A Motive for Murder?

As a young KGB operative, Vladimir Putin was a follower of Andropov.
Like Andropov, Putin was committed to the restructuring of the Soviet
Union in order to save it. He was a foot soldier in that process.

Putin and his FSB faction realized in the late 1990s that, however
lucrative the economic opening process might have been for some, the net
effect on Russia was catastrophic. Unlike the oligarchs, many of whom
were indifferent to the fate of Russia, Putin understood that the path
they were on would only lead to another revolution -- one even more
catastrophic than the first. Outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg, there
was hunger and desperation. The conditions for disaster were all there.

Putin also realized that Russia had not reaped the sought-after payoff
with its loss of prestige and power in the world. Russia had traded
geopolitics but had not gotten sufficient benefits in return. This was
driven home during the Kosovo crisis, when the United States treated
fundamental Russian interests in the Balkans with indifference and
contempt. It was clear to Putin by then that Boris Yeltsin had to go.
And go he did, with Putin taking over.

<continued in Post #2>

12-01-2006, 03:38 AM
Putin is a creation of Andropov. In his bones, he believes in the need
for a close economic relationship with the West. But his motives are not
those of the oligarchs, and certainly not those of the West. His goal,
like that of the KGB, is the preservation and reconstruction of the
Russian state. For Putin, perestroika and glasnost were tactical
necessities that caused a strategic disaster. He came into office with
the intention of reversing that disaster. He continued to believe in the
need for openness and restructuring, but only as a means toward the end
of Russian power, not as an end in itself.

For Putin, the only solution to Russian chaos was the reassertion of
Russian value. The state was the center of Russian society, and the
intelligence apparatus was the center of the Russian state. Thus, Putin
embarked on a new, slowly implemented policy. First, bring the oligarchs
under control; don't necessarily destroy them, but compel them to work
in parallel with the state. Second, increase Moscow's control over the
outlying regions. Third, recreate a Russian sphere of influence in the
former Soviet Union. Fourth, use the intelligence services internally to
achieve these ends and externally to reassert Russian global authority.

None of these goals could be accomplished if a former intelligence
officer could betray the organs of the state and sit in London hurling
insults at Putin, the FSB and Russia. For a KGB man trained by Andropov,
this would show how far Russia had fallen. Something would have to be
done about it. Litvinenko's death, seen from this standpoint, was a
necessary and inevitable step if Putin's new strategy to save the
Russian state is to have meaning.


That, at least, is the logic. It makes sense that Litvinenko would have
been killed by the FSB. But there is an oddity: The KGB/FSB have tended
to use poison mostly in cases where they wanted someone dead, but wanted
to leave it unclear how he died and who killed him. Poison traditionally
has been used when someone wants to leave a corpse in a way that would
not incur an autopsy or, if a normal autopsy is conducted, the real
cause of death would not be discovered (as the poisons used would
rapidly degrade or leave the body). When the KGB/FSB wanted someone
dead, and wanted the world to know why he had been killed -- or by whom
-- they would use two bullets to the brain. A professional hit leaves no

The use of polonium-210 in this case, then, is very odd. First, it took
a long time to kill Litvinenko -- giving him plenty of time to give
interviews to the press and level charges against the Kremlin. Second,
there was no way to rationalize his death as a heart attack or brain
aneurysm. Radiation poisoning doesn't look like anything but what it is.
Third, polonium-210 is not widely available. It is not something you
pick up at your local pharmacy. The average homicidal maniac would not
be able to get hold of it or use it.

So, we have a poisoning that was unmistakably deliberate. Litvinenko was
killed slowly, leaving him plenty of time to confirm that he thought
Putin did it. And the poison would be very difficult to obtain by anyone
other than a state agency. Whether it was delivered from Russia --
something the Russians have denied -- or stolen and deployed in the
United Kingdom, this is not something to be tried at home, kids. So,
there was a killing, designed to look like what it was -- a
sophisticated hit.

This certainly raises questions among conspiracy theorists and others.
The linkage back to the Russian state appears so direct that some might
argue it points to other actors or factions out to stir up trouble for
Putin, rather than to Putin himself. Others might say that Litvinenko
was killed slowly, yet with an obvious poisoning signature, so that he
in effect could help broadcast the Kremlin's message -- and cause other
dissidents to think seriously about their actions.

We know only what everyone else knows about this case, and we are
working deductively. For all we know, Litvinenko had a very angry former
girlfriend who worked in a nuclear lab. But while that's possible, one
cannot dismiss the fact that his death -- in so public a manner -- fits
in directly with the logic of today's Russia and the interests of
Vladimir Putin and his group. It is not that we know or necessarily
believe Putin personally ordered a killing, but we do know that, in the
vast apparatus of the FSB, giving such an order would not have been
contrary to the current inclinations of the leadership.

And whatever the public's impression of the case might be, the KGB/FSB
has not suddenly returned to the scene. In fact, it never left. Putin
has been getting the system back under control for years. The
free-for-all over economic matters has ended, and Putin has been
restructuring the Russian economy for several years to increase state
control, without totally reversing openness. This process, however,
requires the existence of a highly disciplined FSB -- and that is not
compatible with someone like a Litvinenko publicly criticizing the
Kremlin from London. Litvinenko's death would certainly make that point
very clear.

Send questions or comments on this article to analysis@stratfor.com.

12-01-2006, 02:15 PM
It raises a point often ignored in media. If Putin wanted him dead they would do it differently. Accident, burglary gone wrong..... not something so complicated and messy (and long!) as this. Which could mean it was done by other critics of Putin to either "frame" Putin (knowing he will be blamed) or to give Litvinenko a louder voice. Or both.

06-28-2010, 09:48 PM
10 people have been arrested in the Washington DC and NYC areas for allegedly attempting to commit espionage for Russia. The purpose of which was in order to "develop ties with American policymaking circles in order to feed information back to Moscow".

Story just breaking,

Here is a link to the breaking news


06-28-2010, 10:09 PM

I am struck by the timing, especially as the BBC report implies deep cover agents at work for a very long time.

All of the arrested suspects, except Ms Chapman and Mr Semenko, have also been charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

Our correspondent says the arrests will come as quite a surprise, as relations between Washington and Moscow have warmed considerably in recent months. Just last week, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev was in Washington having lunch with President Barack Obama.

It is still unclear how the White House will react or how Russia will explain this, she adds.


I assume the FBI would consult with the Attorney-General before taking action. Curious the money laundering charges for most of them.

06-28-2010, 10:54 PM

I am struck by the timing, especially as the BBC report implies deep cover agents at work for a very long time.


I assume the FBI would consult with the Attorney-General before taking action. Curious the money laundering charges for most of them.

From the sounds of it davidbfpo I would have to agree with you.

However, I'm curious if these agents for the Russian Government were US- born American citizens or Russian nationals who immigrated who settled in the United States?

I ask because from the names listed many of them sounds like they are indeed US born citizens.

Also from a political POV I wonder how deep this discovery runs and whether these agents did obtain any success in their mission goals. In addition to add on to this, what will the damage to the Obama Administration's attempts at "resetting relations with Russia" be.

06-28-2010, 11:59 PM
FBI Affidavit (37 page PDF) courtesy of the Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/FBI%20affidavit%20on%20Boston%20suspects.pdf)

FBI bagged one couple Sunday morning at Harvard Square in Boston; naturally they lived in the People's Republic of Cambridge.

However, I'm curious if these agents for the Russian Government were US- born American citizens or Russian nationals who immigrated who settled in the United States?

I ask because from the names listed many of them sounds like they are indeed US born citizens.
Looks like Russian born SVR Directorate 'S' "Illegals", trained to penetrate their target country by assuming a native identity. Completely new names and everything. It takes a very long time to train and then seed these operatives, and they are often the most elite of SVR recruits.

They are frequently paired-up as couples, but sometimes operate solo. The Canadians nabbed an illegal operating solo around 2005-06.

06-29-2010, 12:53 AM
WASHINGTON – In what law enforcements officials portrayed as an extraordinary takedown of a Russian espionage network, the Justice Department on Monday announced charges against 11 people accused of living for years in the United States as part of a deep-cover program by S.V.R. -- one of the successors to the Soviet-era K.G.B.


Life imitates art. Art imitates life.

06-29-2010, 12:36 PM
This gets better and better....

She's a "practiced deceiver." Those are the words prosecutors used to describe Anna Chapman, a red-headed 28-year-old accused of spying for Russia.

Chapman, a divorcee who appeared in a white T-shirt and designer jeans, stood before magistrate judge Ronald Ellis in a Manhattan federal court Monday evening along with four others arrested on charges of conspiring to act as "unregistered agents of a foreign government."


Does anyone remember the Israeli spy network that was rolled up during the summer of 2001?

06-29-2010, 12:39 PM
LONDON — One of the Cold War's most famous defectors says Russia may have as many as 50 deep-cover couples spying inside the United States.


Just 50???

On Monday in federal court in Manhattan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz called the allegations "the tip of the iceberg" of a conspiracy of Russia's intelligence service, the SVR, to collect inside U.S. information.


06-29-2010, 12:59 PM
Two thoughts:

1) Mann kann nie Wisson (you never know.)

2) I guess the annually required online "Need To Know" classes might be onto something.

06-29-2010, 01:16 PM
The funniest aspect of the careers of the 10 alleged Russian "agents" arrested in the US is how inept they were - and how apparently unsuccessful.

They have not even been charged with espionage, only with not registering as agents, or representatives, of a foreign government and with money laundering.

Some pretty humorous revelations here -

06-29-2010, 09:54 PM
Does anyone have any idea if these people are important enough for the Russians to arrest various westerners in order to make a trade?

06-30-2010, 01:30 AM
I am struck by the timing, especially as the BBC report implies deep cover agents at work for a very long time.

I'd guess the FBI has known about this for some time. I don't think they'd normally roll a network like this up right away, first impulse would be to try to use it to pass disinformation. The arrests suggest that any possible such use was not seen as particularly valuable, and of course that the timing was seen as useful.

If the Russians make arrests to trade they will have to admit that this was in fact a spy network, so far they don't seem to be doing that. We'll see...

Much of the media attention seems to be driven by the fact that one of the alleged spies is female and hot. Some things get more attention than others...

06-30-2010, 01:33 AM
Russian spy ring: fact, parody and nostalgia

The creator of Spooks on the Russian espionage scandal, its nostalgic spycraft and how fact can be less credible than fiction

Also, a swanky spreadsheet on Googledocs of the 11 spies -
http://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AonYZs4MzlZbdHhySk8zZ0VLUmt5MVpCcmtNTV9LZ 3c#gid=0

06-30-2010, 10:59 PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- An alleged member of a Russian spy ring that authorities say operated under deep cover in America's suburbs vanished in Cyprus on Wednesday, a day after being released on bail.

The man, who had gone by the name Christopher Metsos and was wanted in the U.S. on charges he supplied money to the spy ring, had been arrested Tuesday in the Mediterranean island nation as he tried to board a flight for Budapest, Hungary.

On Wednesday, after a Cypriot judge had freed him on $32,500 bail, he failed to show for a required meeting with police, and authorities began searching for him.


07-02-2010, 02:57 AM


Here is a further story on Mr. "Christopher Mestos" from the Cyprus Mail


07-11-2010, 06:13 PM
As the story of the SVR illegals played out this past week, I trolled Google News searching for insight from former SVR officer Sergei Tretyakov to no avail. Sergei Tretyakov may be the most important spy for the United States since the end of the Cold War; it is believed that he spent 3 years as a US agent while he was still an SVR colonel in New York before he defected.

So it is with great regret to learn that Sergei Tretyakov, at the age of 53, died June 13 of a heart attack at his home in Florida. Rest in peace, Comrade J.

Sergei Tretyakov, Spy Who Fled to U.S., Dies at 53 (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/10/world/europe/10tretyakov.html), The New York Times, July 9, 2010.
Sergei Tretyakov dies; former Russian spy defected to U.S. in 2000 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/09/AR2010070905179.html), The Washington Post, July 10, 2010.
Sergei Tretyakov, Russian Spy ‘Comrade J,’ Dead at 53 (http://www.peteearley.com/blog/2010/07/09/sergei-tretyakov-comrade-j-has-died/), PeteEarley.com, July 9, 2010.
Sergei’s Death. Mistakes. Nonsense and a Chuckle (http://www.peteearley.com/blog/2010/07/10/sergeis-death-mistakes-nonsense-and-a-chuckle/), PeteEarley.com, July 10, 2010.
The story of Sergei Tretyakov is told in Comrade J.: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America after the End of the Cold War by veteran intelligence journalist Pete Early. Tretyakov also gave an extensive interview over a series of reports by WTOP titled "Escaping from the Iron Curtain". (http://www.wtop.com/?sid=1989344&nid=778&pid=0)

11-11-2010, 08:45 PM
Report Points to Russian Double Agent (https://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/12/world/europe/12spies.html), by Clifford J. Levy. The New York Times, November 11, 2010.

MOSCOW — A Russian newspaper reported Thursday that a senior official in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service had provided the information that enabled the United States to break up a ring of Russian sleeper spies in June.

The turncoat official, identified only as Colonel Shcherbakov, was said to have defected to the United States just before the arrests and was now being tracked by a Russian assassination squad, according to the newspaper, Kommersant, considered one of Russia’s most authoritative.

11-11-2010, 09:09 PM
Shcherbakov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shcherbakov); but it would be ironic if "Col. Shcherbakov" is related to Alexander Shcherbakov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksandr_Shcherbakov), claimed to be a victim (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/539212/Alexander-S-Shcherbakov) of the conspirators charged by Uncle Joe in the infamous Doctors' Plot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctors'_plot).

HT for keeping us up to date.



12-05-2010, 05:07 PM
A young Russian woman working in the House of Commons for the Liberal Democrat MP Mike Hancock is facing deportation as a suspected spy.


10-17-2011, 05:03 AM
The Russian intelligence service's illegal use of the Canadian passport poses a “troubling threat” to the travel document's integrity, newly released federal memos warn.

Canada “strongly deplores” the exploitation of its passport by Russian agents to establish a spy ring in the United States, say the internal Foreign Affairs Department records.


The widow of former Russian FSB officer Aleksandr Litvinenko, who was murdered in London in 2006, admitted that her husband cooperated with the British intelligence services MI5 and MI6.
At the reopened hearings in the case in London, Marina Litvinenko announced that she decided to disclose the information in the name of transparency of the investigation.


01-19-2012, 02:52 PM
Britain was behind a plot to spy on Russians with a device hidden in a fake plastic rock, a former key UK government official has admitted.Jonathan Powell, former chief of staff to prime minister Tony Blair, admitted in a BBC documentary that allegations made by the Russians in 2006 - dismissed at the time - were in fact true.

"The spy rock was embarrassing," he said in the BBC2 documentary series, Putin, Russia and the West. "They had us bang to rights. Clearly they had known about it for some time and had been saving it up for a political purpose."


01-19-2012, 02:55 PM
Sources familiar with a breaking spy saga in Halifax say Russian envoys were after military secrets from a Canadian forces member who worked at a highly secure naval operations centre here.

That information was substantiated Wednesday. It had been rumoured since Sub-Lt. Jeffrey Paul Delisle was arraigned on espionage charges Monday in Halifax.


Delisle had access to sensitive information, including the locations of ocean sensors that help authorities monitor ship movements. That type of information could be useful to a country, such as Russia, if it wanted to try to navigate waters without being detected, he said.

Media reports have suggested that Delisle was leaking information to the Russians.

Read more: http://www.canada.com/news/Navy+caper+could+linked+Arctic+territorial+dispute +expert/6011230/story.html#ixzz1jurpSqNn

SWJ Blog
06-27-2012, 11:50 AM
Milton Bearden's Requiem for a Russian Spy (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/milton-beardens-requiem-for-a-russian-spy)

An intriguing semi-obituary of a Soviet era KGB senior officer who committed suicide in March 2012, added here as the comments on the Soviet role in Afghanistan fit better: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article..._spy?page=full

Shebarshin's Afghan years convinced him of the futility of any occupation of that unruly, martial land and revealed the depth of the cooked intelligence that launched the Red Army's intervention and doggedly supported the failed military adventure for nine long years.
Even better is the tale of the crashed SU-25, which has a quirky end:

The Pakistanis, on America's behalf, made the colonel the usual offer: a condo in Phoenix, a Ford F-150 pickup truck, a good dog, and a good life.

Read the full post (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/milton-beardens-requiem-for-a-russian-spy) and make any comments at the SWJ Blog (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog).
This forum is a feed only and is closed to user comments.

10-11-2012, 08:58 PM
Canadian naval intelligence officer has pleaded guilty to spying for Russia over four-and-a-half years, Steven Chase and Jane Taber of The Globe and Mail report.

Sub-Lieutenant Jeffrey Delisle, 41, pleaded guilty to criminal charges of “communicating with a foreign entity” and "breach of trust" for funneling top military secrets from his post at the ultra-secure Trinity naval intelligence center in Halifax to Russia for about $3,000 a month.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/canadian-caught-selling-top-western-military-secrets-to-moscow-2012-10#ixzz291f70IVy

10-11-2012, 09:01 PM
Feds arrested 11 suspected Russian spies on charges of smuggling $50 million in sensitive American military electronics to Russia.

Alexander Fishenko, an owner and executive of American and Russian companies, was charged with operating as an "unregistered agent of the Russian government inside the United States by illegally procuring the high-tech microelectronics on behalf of the Russian government," according to an FBI press release.


05-18-2013, 03:51 PM
Russia reveals identity of CIA Moscow chief following Ryan Fogle's expulsion

Federal Security Service spokesman breaches protocol as he accuses US agency of crossing 'red line' in its recruitment efforts


05-18-2013, 05:33 PM
The reliable UK-based Spyblog has a post on the arrest, in particular what kit was found by the FSB:http://www.spyblog.org.uk/

07-16-2014, 09:03 PM
Russia and Cuba have agreed to reopen the signals intelligence (SIGINT) base in Lourdes, Cuba, which was primarily used to spy on the U.S., Russian business daily Kommersant reports.

The base was set up in 1964 after the Cuban missile crisis and is 155 miles from the U.S. coast. Havana shut it down in 2001 because of financial issues and American pressure.


An additional blow came in July 2000, when the US House passed the Russian-American Trust and Cooperation Act, a bill that would ban Washington from rescheduling or forgiving any Russian debt to the US, unless the facility in Lourdes is shut down.

Moscow did so in 2001 and also closed its military base in Vietnam’s Cam Ranh, with both moves reported as major steps to address Americans’ concerns. But, in the words of a military source cited by Kommersant, the US “did not appreciate our gesture of goodwill.”




01-23-2016, 12:19 PM
An interesting account of this Russian FSB defector's death; the sub-title says:
This week, the inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko will deliver its findings. The former Russian spy was poisoned with a cup of tea in a London hotel. Working with Scotland Yard detectives, as he lay dying, he traced the lethal substance to a former comrade in the Russian secret service

The murder was in October 2006 and only this week did an official inquiry come to an end. This BBC link has more:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35378626

06-17-2016, 08:37 PM
A short article on a "deep cover" Russian spy in Madrid, Spain for twenty years, using a New Zealand ID and a SIS approach - which was rejected:http://www.politico.eu/interactive/the-spanish-story-of-a-russian-illegal-russian-spy-moscow/

06-18-2016, 05:23 AM
Thoughts on this one (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Gareth_Williams)? SVR? Suicide? Accident?

06-18-2016, 10:20 AM
Thoughts on this one (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Gareth_Williams)? SVR? Suicide? Accident?

There's enough doubt in that case to be very skeptical of of all three.

07-02-2016, 09:28 AM
So, a senior member of the Kremlin elite just publicly admitted, “Let’s be frank. #Snowden did share intelligence."
https://twitter.com/20committee/status/749167965799579648 …

HUGE: The Kremlin just admitted Snowden is a Russian agent
Deutsch: http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/edward-snowden/von-russen-als-spion-angeworben-46601344.bild.html …
English: https://20committee.com/2016/07/02/the-kremlin-admits-snowden-is-a-russian-agent/ …

07-06-2016, 03:22 PM
Top notch OPSEC, Yuri.

Veteran spies in Russia have reacted in horror after a show of strength by newly graduated agents in a cortege of black Mercedes Gelandewagens.

The cavalcade by recently-qualified 007s from Vladimir Putin's espionage ranks has stunned Cold War specialists schooled in staying in the shadows.

The brash automobile parade through the streets of Moscow with horns blaring was variously reported as being by rookie agents from the foreign intelligence section of the FSB spy academy.



12-31-2016, 09:26 AM
Sanctioning the GRU, a decent step, but hamstrung by the need forSymmetry
by Mark Galeotti

The "Lame Duck" president has proven to have a surprisingly sharp and accurate peck, and as the USA strikes back against the Russian hacking and its role in the US elections with a welcome series of sanctions. Two point are worth bringing up: the way the issue instantly and depressingly becomes a partisan one.

It also suggests that the incoming administration is woefully ill-informed about the Russian intelligence community, or willing to leap through rhetorical hoops to protect it; and the needless and limiting philosophy behind the sanctions.

The Sanctions and the GRU

Kellyann Conway, counsellor to President-Elect Trump, told#CNN, while disparaging these so-called "symbolic" sanctions, that "the GRU doesn't really travel here, doesn't keep its assets here." OK, let's start with that.

If by "the GRU doesn't really travel here," she means senior officers such as the four figures directly sanctioned don't pop over to Epcot for family holidays, that is perfectly true. If by "the GRU ..., doesn't keep its assets here" she means the agency as a whole doesn't have McMansions in Texas and skiing chalets in Vermont, also technically true.

First of all, the GRU has many assets in the espionage tradecraft terms in the USA: agents, networks, safehouses, dead drops, etc. This is an expansive and aggressive agency that while focusing on military intelligence has broadened out into covering a wide range of other missions, not least because of the competitive dynamic I outline in my recent ECFR report#Putin's Hydra.

So if we are talking about the GRU as a whole -- and Conway's phrasing suggests she was -- then of course the GRU has huge (even yuge) assets in the States, including its#rezidentura, its base within the embassy in DC.

Secondly, the point about sanctioning the guys at the top of the GRU is not because you're worried about them popping over the take advantage of the New Year sales on Fifth Avenue, but to demonstrate commitment. Yes, this is "symbolic" but much of politics is precisely about symbolism.
Punish the Criminal, Not the Instrument

However, here's my beef with the current philosophy of sanctions, the need artificially to create comparability and demonstrate direct connection. What does it matter if the hacks were done by the GRU (and as I understand it, they got the emails, but it was the FSB that pushed for their leakage and handled the dissemination and exploitation side of the operation)?

These are simply arms of a single, authoritarian state?

Why not hit people in the Presidential Administration, Duma, Senate, Putin's friends, his dogwalker, whoever?
When we convict a thug of punching someone, we don't punish him#by breaking his#arm, we punish the criminal as an entire person. By the same token, sanctions should target the state, not its individual instruments.

This is a reasonable set of sanctions, and can be welcomed. But for real effectiveness, for deterrent impact, arguably sanctions ought to be unreasonable, and directed at the source of the attack, not the instrument.

03-16-2017, 07:27 PM
BREAKING: Swedish police SPO says 30% of 100 employees in Russian embassy / Stockholm are spies. Threat to nat sec.

04-16-2017, 03:00 AM
Estonia has a very simple counterintelligence policy: it names and shames agents of the Kremlin annually:

That's a public relations and counter-propaganda policy, not a counter-intelligence one.

04-16-2017, 05:53 AM
That's a public relations and counter-propaganda policy, not a counter-intelligence one.

THEN you do not understand the "Spy Wars".....

By naming and shaming you make both CI points and get PR....AND you effectively tell SVR/FSB that you have them in clear gun sights on every move they make....

The old style days of kicking out "suspected KGB Embassy officers" and vice versa was the 70/80s...this is a modern 21st century approach to the same process....

Do not think for a moment that those 35 Russian kicked out of the US recently were not somehow misidentified by the FBI.....

04-16-2017, 06:58 AM
I post this due simply to the fact that this journalist has broken correct and verified stories on the FISA warrant that was initially issued in the Russian connection investigations...

She is now building on the reporting being released in Europe from seven different European Intel services concerning Trump and Russian activities largely driven by the former head of MI6 who is highly respected in Europe for his level analysis...

The extremely interesting point is that all of this intelligence was passed to the FBI long before the actual US election and no action was undertaken by the FBI....it seems they were totally oblivious to Russian influence and hacking operations that were ongoing and still are ongong...


Exclusive: Intelligence Sources: Flynn co-ordinated Russia's propaganda attack on the entire NATO alliance for Trump

Mike Flynn’s Treason Tour: Global Russian Propaganda Coordinated With#Trump
April 16, 2017 ~ patribotics

Sources linked to the intelligence community say that General Mike Flynn’s trips to Cambridge and across Europe will form a key part of Donald#Trump’s impeachment and the prosecutions of dozens of his associates.
According to several sources within the intelligence community, Michael Flynn was co-ordinating, with and for Russian agents, the drafting of messages that Vladimir Putin was using to attack democracy in not only the United States, but across Europe. Furthermore, Flynn was doing this with the full knowledge of the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump himself.
This news#directly relates to the data laundering performed by the Alfa Bank server on behalf of Donald Trump and Russia, where, as I reported, the Trump campaign colluded with the hacking of both the DNC and state voter databases.
The Alfa Bank server ‘washed’ that data together to tell Trump where to target it, sources say. But the messages and content#with which#targets were served was co-ordinated with Russia by General Flynn.
Furthermore, Flynn took the same hacking tools and artificial intelligence coded in Russia and helped far-right and Nazi parties across Europe use it in their own nations. Intelligence sources assert that multiple NATO partners have evidence of this and that it has been provided to the FBI.
If ‘data laundering’ is the first part of the Trump Russia incontrovertible evidence, ‘propaganda targeting’ is the second part. Flynn attacked not only the United States but all her Western allies on Russia’s behalf, with the full knowledge and connivance of Donald Trump.
Both halves of the social media impeachment will, sources assert, be key to Director Comey’s overall case. This is the ‘incontrovertible evidence’ to which Sir Richard Dearlove and others have referred.
Explaining Data Laundering and Fake News
The broad case of Russia’s hacking the US election can be divided into two relatively simple spheres. There is another branch of the criminal investigation that focuses on money-laundering and corrupt payments from Russia and Russian satellites to Mr. Trump and to his allies. But the actual hacking of the US election follows a relatively simple narrative line in two halves; hacking and targeting. Mr. Flynn’s activities spanned the two and link them to Russian active measures all across Europe, including the current attack on the French election.
As I previously reported in an exclusive story on this blog, the Trump server at Cendyn was communicating to Alfa Bank in Russia hacked data from state voter databases and the DNC’s own voter targeting engine, Vertica. The precise combination of these two databases allowed Cambridge Analytica and SCL both to create Russian-directed propaganda and target it at voting groups with extraordinary precision. Intelligence sources now tell me that SVB bank, the second bank named in the FISA warrant I exclusively reported on Nov 7th, was also involved in messaging Alfa Bank. There will be further explanation of that in another post.


04-16-2017, 09:49 AM
THEN you do not understand the "Spy Wars".....

By naming and shaming you make both CI points and get PR....AND you effectively tell SVR/FSB that you have them in clear gun sights on every move they make....

The old style days of kicking out "suspected KGB Embassy officers" and vice versa was the 70/80s...this is a modern 21st century approach to the same process....

Do not think for a moment that those 35 Russian kicked out of the US recently were not somehow misidentified by the FBI.....

It's PR not secret intelligence. I suppose it's a way to make up for years of Russia's soft power and the fact that it took a Russian invasion of Ukraine to scare Estonia into meeting its defense commitments to NATO.

04-16-2017, 11:53 AM
It's PR not secret intelligence. I suppose it's a way to make up for years of Russia's soft power and the fact that it took a Russian invasion of Ukraine to scare Estonia into meeting its defense commitments to NATO.

Simply put it is an embarrassment for the mighty FSB/SVR to have one of theirs outed in the media...and the long raining costs are lost forever as that agent is burned and cannot be used anywhere else in the world...

Main rule in spying to do not get caught in the first place...

04-16-2017, 08:23 PM
Simply put it is an embarrassment for the mighty FSB/SVR to have one of theirs outed in the media...and the long raining costs are lost forever as that agent is burned and cannot be used anywhere else in the world...

Main rule in spying to do not get caught in the first place...

Thus far, the outed agents seem to all be low-end provocateurs and legal agents with diplomatic status.

Russia has some of the best HUMINT capabilities in the world, and decades more experience than anyone else.

I have no doubt that they gave Manning and Snowden the necessary nudges.

04-17-2017, 05:00 AM
Thus far, the outed agents seem to all be low-end provocateurs and legal agents with diplomatic status.

Russia has some of the best HUMINT capabilities in the world, and decades more experience than anyone else.

I have no doubt that they gave Manning and Snowden the necessary nudges.

I will digress a moment....the former KGB and now FSB were and are still solid intel groups..but in some aspects the GDR MfS (Stasi) took it to new levels in their BRD influence ops several of which led to deaths of politicians still not fully explained to today...

Secondly, the US was able during the confusion immediately after the fall to "acquire" most of the MfS Foreign spy service documents and were able to identify a number of recruited US spies usual business people and military that had been I West Berlin....

What is interesting is that every German and foreigner who was in West Berlin has the right to have the Stasi records searched for any reference to yourself.....but that search does not extend to the MfS spy records returned to the US....

But what was never told to the US population was the fact that there were approximately 100 identified spies...who never were clearly identified either because you could not get a feel for where the documents came from nor get a feel of the person meaning name...or birth date or US addresses....

Why was that ..once recruited by MfS and if they returned to the US their handlers would become GRU or KGB resident US agents....even the 70/80s the GRU/KGB agents in the US gave the FBI CI a true run for their money.....

BUT a side effect was Soviets and now Russians tend to get into a spy rut and get into habits that if known usually out them....

German CI types knew for example that a true mole could only recall their full new cover story for roughly 15 years and then the story would start to alter...that is why they demand a regular series of re-reviews of the security clearance paperwork....and usually that tends to point them to subtle changes in a persons life story....

Now things are much harder due to the ease of travel and lessen visa requirements..here in Berlin Russians are literally everywhere and are buying up property at an amazing rate with black money..so are they spies..good businesspeople with black money or just out right criminals...

Will digress again concerning German records keeping..amazing..simply amazing....here in Germany there is a standard Police requirement to register with them every time you move or change residence....

Most Americans would revolt and claim police state..but those records do go back physically on mirco fiche to the 1850s...as many were not destroyed by WW2.....the US captured for example 98% of the entire NSDAP membership records....95% of all the SS membership records....and had the entire records of all transports to the German concentration camps by rail car number...number of individuals inside each and by name...

AND if you are a German retiree of the WW2 period..your name is automatically checked in this record center prior to receiving your pension and the same now goes for MfS records if you are retiring from this period of time....

That is how studious Germans are with their paperwork and the Stasi was no different for 45 years....

04-17-2017, 06:48 AM
…the former KGB and now FSB were and are still solid intel groups…but in some aspects the GDR MfS (Stasi) took it to new levels in their BRD influence ops several of which led to deaths of politicians still not fully explained to today...

I assume that you mean the GRU/KGB and the GRU/SVR, respectively. FSB now handles counter-intelligence and domestic intelligence, albeit it has been involved in Ukraine. Having said that, Moscow considers various parts of Ukraine to be part of Russia, so the FSB would be involved there as opposed to say developing and managing assets in the United States.

The HVA was certainly not above direct assassination or the use of terrorist proxies. Yet in the end, the MfS failed in its primary mission to protect the SED and the DDR. The reunification process was rather lenient on a service whose activities went well beyond espionage, and which deliberately committed murders and terrorist atrocities.

I have heard it argued that the greatest success of the Warsaw Pact intelligence services was to promote anti-nationalism, anti-Christianity, political correctness and multiculturalism in Western Europe, in a bid to sap patriotic sentiment, demoralize the population and thereby undermine the ideologies most resistant to Communist rule. As an example, it was said that Olaf Palme was under such influence. I have not investigated this line of thought, so it may well be wrong.

Given the relatively recent discoveries of Herman Simm, Aleksei Dressen, Shigehiro Hagisaki and Jeffrey DeLisle, I would say that the Russians are still quite capable of turning key NATO insiders. The fact that two of these names are Estonian should put to bed your praise for Estonian intelligence, as it takes more than a few years to recover from such blows; moreover, they are indicative of deeper rot. Incidentally, the former President of Estonia under whose watch these traitors were operating became quite agitated when reminded of them by yours truly.

Secondly, the US was able during the confusion immediately after the fall to "acquire" most of the MfS Foreign spy service documents and were able to identify a number of recruited US spies usual business people and military that had been in West Berlin...

I have no doubt that the CIA created a dragnet across East-Central Europe in the early 1990s. I would imagine that the CIA and other Western intelligence services have replaced the FSB/GRU/SVR in Ukraine: those parts under Kiev’s control.

German CI types knew for example that a true mole could only recall their full new cover story for roughly 15 years and then the story would start to alter...that is why they demand a regular series of re-reviews of the security clearance paperwork...and usually that tends to point them to subtle changes in a person’s life story...

Interesting. I think the same checks should be applied to spouses. After fifteen years they can be very different from when they were on honeymoon. ;) Of course, with no-fault divorces and little recognition of prenuptial agreements, CI is difficult…

Most Americans would revolt and claim police state...but those records do go back physically on mirco fiche to the 1850s...
That is how studious Germans are with their paperwork and the Stasi was no different for 45 years...

Germany is by comparison a police state. The fact that the police happen to wear green and are generally friendly is irrelevant. I worry about German liberal democracy, as it is largely an Anglo-American imposition from 1945 to present, irrespective of the failed Liberal Revolutions and the brief interwar experiment.

I am highly suspicious of a society that can turn on a dime in lockstep, as Germany has been wont to do.

06-10-2017, 07:57 PM
Under the guise of a journalist, the assassin, Artur Denisultanov-Kurmakayev, tried to murder Ms. Okuyeva and her husband, Adam Osmayev, Ukraine’s Interior Ministry said.

The plot went awry because Ms. Okuyeva was also armed, and the details of the attack and its aftermath are now shedding light on Kiev’s role as a testing ground for what Ukrainian officials say are hybrid war activities by Russia, including assassinations.


06-10-2017, 11:34 PM

I would be careful about ascribing this attempted assassination to Putin. Most likely its sponsor was Kadyrov. Kadyrov spent a number of years murdering members of rival Chechen clans or faction, including in Moscow, and many exiles from these groups have joined the war in Donbas on behalf of Ukraine, while the Kadyrovtsi have joined the (pro)Russian side.

06-11-2017, 02:09 PM
A fascinating short article 'Ivan Maisky’s diaries offer a spying masterclass that is still relevant today' on Stalin's Ambassador in London (1932-1943) and how he conducted his diplomacy - with clear parallels to his Russian successor in Washington DC today.

It is a historical article, but there is no suitable place in the Historians arena.

An earlier 2015 article on Maisky's diaries (since published):https://theconversation.com/diary-of-soviet-ambassador-to-london-rewrites-history-of-world-war-ii-47054

The current article:https://theconversation.com/ivan-maiskys-diaries-offer-a-spying-masterclass-that-is-still-relevant-today-78866? (https://theconversation.com/ivan-maiskys-diaries-offer-a-spying-masterclass-that-is-still-relevant-today-78866?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%2075965931&utm_content=The%20Weekend%20Conversation%20-%2075965931+CID_8bb0c9c5755e381d26732901f07f6225&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=Ivan%20Maiskys%20diaries%20offer%20a%20sp ying%20masterclass%20that%20is%20still%20relevant% 20today)

06-13-2017, 08:04 AM
While this is not Russian hacking, propaganda and or disinformation it fits nicely into Russian Intelligence Service "active measures"...

"Revealed: Explosive Evidence Of A Russian Assassination On British Soil"

06-16-2017, 02:12 PM
While this is not Russian hacking, propaganda and or disinformation it fits nicely into Russian Intelligence Service "active measures"...

"Revealed: Explosive Evidence Of A Russian Assassination On British Soil"

I have now read the first BuzzFeed article on murders in the UK with Russian links and found this passage was a useful summary for British action or inaction:
The core reason British authorities have turned a blind eye, a current senior national security adviser to the British government told BuzzFeed News, is fear. Ministers, he said, were not prepared to take the “political risk of dealing firmly and effectively in whatever way with the activities of the Russian state and Russian-organised crime in the UK” because the Kremlin could inflict massive harm on Britain by unleashing cyberattacks, destabilising the economy, or mobilising elements of Britain’s large Russian population to “cause disruption”. Deep law enforcement funding cuts mean “our capabilities are very weak”, he said. It was also impossible to rule out the risk of “general war with Russia” in the current climate, he said, and “if it were to happen it would happen very, very rapidly, and we would be entirely unprepared”. As a result, he concluded, ministers “desperately don’t want to antagonise the Russians” and senior figures in government had told him bluntly that there was “no political appetite to deal with the Russian Federation.
A strange explanation and totally ignores the UK's survival after the Litvenenko murder in London, with Polonium in 2006 and the rupture of official state-to-state relations.Yes there is a potential threat to the UK from Russian capabilities, but a "general war"?

As for the Russian population in the UK could 'cause disruption', really they are going to sell up and move? Leaving behind assets, schools and the comforts of Surrey. After all many are here to escape Russia and for reasons - that are obscure - get UK passports quickly.

Now there is HMG's inactivity on the "dirty" money from Russia; PM Cameron made a speech, in July 2015 on "cleaning up" London's property market and nothing then happened. Perhaps the influx of billions kept the post-crash property market was a policy consideration?

It does remind me of a discussion at a conference a few years ago when a retired Whitehall 'mandarin' explained that "Londonistan" was the result of low-level decisions, not those made at senior levels, let alone by politicians. An explanation that could be plausible, even when several European nations (France & Italy notably) expressed at a very senior level their concerns and the presence of many who were wanted for terrorist crimes - who were declined to extradite.

Would all these items reach policy makers, let alone elected politicians?

01-20-2018, 04:53 AM
The Russian spy ship first spotted near American waters last year is making its way back in the direction of the U.S., Fox News confirmed on Thursday.
The Victor Leonov is still in the Caribbean, according to officials, but heading north off the coast of Florida, home to a U.S. Navy base located in North Florida, east of Jacksonville.
The ship could be off the Florida coast by Friday if the ship maintains present course and speed, according to officials.


01-28-2018, 10:11 PM

No, no you don't....

03-06-2018, 02:36 PM
A developing story after ex-GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal, 66yrs, and his daughter Yulia, in her 30s, are critically ill in hospital after being found unconscious in Salisbury, Wiltshire. He was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006, convicted of passing the identities of agents working undercover in Europe to the UK's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6. In July 2010, he was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI as part of a swap. He was later flown to the UK.

There is speculation that their collapse in public was caused by an unknown substance; three emergency responders had mild symptoms.

For a comprehensive review Shashank Joshi, of RUSI has an article and BLUF:
Russia is happy to use assassination to satisfy political ends; Western countries have been insufficiently robust in the face of Russian provocation; If Russia poisoned Sergei Skripal, the attack represents a significant escalationLink:https://capx.co/russia-sees-murder-as-a-routine-political-lever/

Mark Galeotti, a SME, has a commentary and here is a taster:
It seems to reflect a breakdown in the old etiquette of espionage, not only foreshadowing an even more vicious "shadow war" to come, but also challenging Western states to come up with new ways to respond to and deter these kinds of outrages.
Link:https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/former-russian-spook-incident-suggests-the-spy-rules-are-breaking-op-ed-60722? (https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/former-russian-spook-incident-suggests-the-spy-rules-are-breaking-op-ed-60722?amp&__twitter_impression=true)

The main thread on Russian intelligence operations has a two posts (47 & 48) on previous allegations, notably by BuzzFeed that the UK officially was not prepared to "take on" Russia over a series of unexplained deaths.

03-06-2018, 07:14 PM
See here from BuzzFeed (https://www.buzzfeed.com/janebradley/scientist-who-helped-connect-litvinenkos-murder-to-the?utm_term=.muyxv51z4#.piXRBjr2Z):

Now, BuzzFeed News can reveal that Puncher is among at least 14 people US intelligence officials suspect were killed in the UK by Russian mafia groups or secret services, two forces that sometimes work together, since Putin’s rise to power. Four American intelligence officials said US spies have gathered intelligence about the scientist’s death and believe that he “was assassinated”. They said they have passed MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service, information connecting Puncher’s death – and 13 others – to Russia. Yet the British police have ruled out suspicions in all those cases and shut down any further investigation.

How can MI6 recruit agents in Russia when MI5 cannot protect defectors who become British citizens? Unfortunately, British intelligence probably has a similar reputation with disgruntled Russians as it did with disgruntled Soviets from the late 1940s to early 1960s.

Of course, having uncovered the most nefarious Russian intelligence operation since the penetration of the Manhattan Project, spymaster Christopher Steele is the jewel in Britain's crown, and his extensive training has enabled him, his family, and his pet(s) to escape the SVR and GRU... :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:

03-06-2018, 09:58 PM
After seven years.
If a message then to whom, for what?

03-07-2018, 10:22 AM
From the BBC and finally the 2017 Buzzfeed reports gain traction:
During the urgent question in the Commons, Labour's Yvette Cooper raised reports by BuzzFeed (https://www.buzzfeed.com/heidiblake/from-russia-with-blood-14-suspected-hits-on-british-soil?utm_term=.fi7GM80ya#.vuWO2DWzL) that 14 deaths in the UK had been linked to Russia by US spy agencies.
Ms Cooper, chairwoman of the Home Affairs select committee, asked Mr Johnson and the home secretary to order the National Crime Agency to urgently review the cases.
Mr Johnson said there were "a number of deeply troubling cases" and he would "certainly have that discussion with the home secretary".

03-07-2018, 10:27 AM
Citing JHR:
After seven years. If a message then to whom, for what?

I would contend some have been very patient and finally an opportunity came with the Colonel's daughter making a visit - she is normally resident in Moscow. IIRC the KGB and presumably the GRU had a stance on eliminating defectors; so has this stance remained in place? We are assuming this is not the action of unofficial persons.

For wiser words try this comment:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/07/poisoning-of-skripal-a-kremlin-warning-to-western-spy-agencies

03-07-2018, 07:00 PM
After seven years.
If a message then to whom, for what?

Quite possibly to send a message to anyone within the current regime or within the country itself who may be chafing under the Putin system that dissenters / turncoats / "traitors" will not be tolerated and can be reached regardless of where they are or when. After several years these current targets must have become complacent / lacked opsec so were probably easy targets, especially if thy hung around emigre circles.

03-08-2018, 07:32 PM
This incident, now classed officially as Attempted Murder(s) is the lead item in the UK news. Amidst the media furore, with a good dose of speculation and some inspired "leaks" there are a couple of significant items. No, not the official statements by politicians.

Irony too, amidst a commentary by an ex-Army intelligence person and lightly edited:
It was the British in1954 who first synthesized VX.

The impact of this will be magnified as this has now been reported by the local police, with my emphasis:
he police officer left seriously ill after he was caught up in the Salisbury nerve agent attack was named as DS Nick Bailey as Wiltshire Police said that 21 people have now been treated as a result of the incident.


03-08-2018, 09:51 PM
The impact of this will be magnified as this has now been reported by the local police, with my emphasis: Wiltshire Police said that 21 people have now been treated as a result of the incident.

It is an act of state terrorism and an act of war. I would be impressed if the U.K. did the following:

Suspended diplomatic relations with Russia
Recalled all British diplomats from Russia and expelled Russian diplomats from the U.K.
Instituted a travel warning for British nationals travelling to Russia
Invoked Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty
Placed military forces on higher alert, including perhaps its SSBN force
Banned Russian nationals from entering the U.K.
Imposed financial/economic sanctions

But who am I kidding? The "Halifax Brigade" is in charge of the Conservative Party and Labour admires the "Axis of Revolution". :rolleyes:

03-09-2018, 06:58 PM
Selected Excerpts:

Britain deployed specialist troops on Friday to remove potentially contaminated objects from the English city where a Russian former double agent and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent. About 180 troops including some with chemical expertise have been sent to the city to remove ambulances and other vehicles involved in the incident and other objects, Britain’s ministry of defense and police said...

Health chiefs have said there is a low risk to the wider public from the nerve agent used against the Skripals, who police said were deliberately targeted with the rare toxin. They said experts had identified the substance, which will help determine the source, but did not name it publicly...

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed Britain’s warnings of retaliation were propaganda and not serious.

03-09-2018, 07:42 PM
Slowly the attack is getting clearer and may no longer have been a public event - rather than the Skripal pair were poisoned in their private house:
Asked if there were any leads in the case, Lord Blair told the Today Programme on Radio 4: “There are some indications that the police officer who was injured had been to the house, whereas there was a doctor who looked after the patients in the open, who hasn’t been affected at all. So there maybe some clues floating around in here."

Lord Blair being a former Met Police Commissioner till 2008 and one assumes he was able to network to come out with this.

03-12-2018, 05:25 PM
Breaking (https://twitter.com/CameronJJJ/status/973245728033210368)

Prime Minister May:
If Russia doesn't respond satisfactorily, then the government will consider attack "unlawful use of force" against UK.

For context (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/08/theresa-may-increasing-pressureto-retaliate-against-russia-brazen/)

Defence Secretary Williamson:
Russia's being assertive, Russia's being more aggressive, and we have to change the way that we deal with it because we can't be in a situation in these areas of conflict where we are being pushed around by another nation.

Foreign Secretary Johnson:
But if, and it's still a big if, it turns out this is the agency of another state attempting to kill people on UK soil then of course the UK will respond robustly.

Home Secretary Rudd:
There will come a time for attribution and there will be, then, consequences and there will be further information that follows...The use of a nerve agent on UK soil is a brazen and reckless act. This was attempted murder in the most cruel and public way. People are right to want to know who to hold to account. We are committed to doing all we can to bring the perpetrators to justice - whoever they are and wherever they may be.

Member of Parliament Chris Tugendhat:
The first duty of government is to protect the British people - I think using nerve agents on British streets really does demand a response.

03-12-2018, 05:40 PM
It is now clear that Mr. Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia...The government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal...Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom, and I will come back to this House and set out the full range of measures we will take in response...We shall not tolerate such a brazen act to murder innocent civilians on our soil.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/world/europe/uk-russia-spy-poisoning.html

03-13-2018, 09:00 AM
Dan Lomas, a UK academic, adds some context to the allegations and attempted murders. He makes two points near the end:
Like Mossad’s suspected attacks on nuclear scientists, Litvinenko’s murder and the horrific attacks on other Russian dissidents are designed with one purpose: to instil fear in dissidents, opposition leaders and (like Skripal) former spies – and indeed, anyone potentially inspired by their behaviour. The message is clear: “Desist, or else.”
Whether Russia is involved in this latest incident or not, it should surprise no one that countries regularly use killing as a way to intimidate and pursue foreign policy goals. What remains to be seen in this case is how the British government will respond.

(https://theconversation.com/sergei-skripal-and-the-long-history-of-assassination-attempts-abroad-93021?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20 for%20March%2013%202018%20-%2096748343&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20f or%20March%2013%202018%20-%2096748343+Version+A+CID_c06ead2150195eed054d5a09 1ea2c5d8&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=Sergei%20Skripal%20and%20the%20long%20his tory%20of%20assassination%20attempts%20abroad)

03-13-2018, 09:06 AM
Amidst all the media clamour there are critics of the response to date, notably teh advice given to those who visited a restaurant in Salisbury:
To see people wearing tremendous protective clothing and then [Public Health England] saying to the rest of us: you’re fine, wash your clothes, use baby wipes is just extraordinary. It doesn’t make sense when I’m looking at a newspaper photograph of five men in space suits and we’re just walking around in ordinary clothes. There should at least be a hotline for people to ring.

The military response with trained troops in CBRN suits led to something I had missed; the specialist joint service CBRN regiment was disbanded in 2011, as part of defence spending cuts.

It is worth checking 'Timeline: the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal'.

03-13-2018, 07:33 PM

I have to respectfully disagree with Lomas’ conclusions.

Firstly, although Lomas is correct that various states carry out assassinations or targeted killings abroad, in most cases plausible deniability is sought. Notable exceptions include state actions against organized non-state actors such as insurgent or terrorist groups. Although the Soviet Union did not disclaim the attempted and successful assassinations of Trotsky in 1939-1940, despite a pro-Trotsky organization being a phantom, the Soviets were much more careful to have Bandera and Rebet appear to have died from natural causes (1957 and 1959). With regard to both Litvinenko and Skripal, the method of assassination renders deniability implausible, as the poisons are both traceable to Russia.

Secondly, even the death of a former agent from natural causes or criminal activity can arouse suspicion. Had Litvinenko and Skripal been stabbed, shot, or bludgeoned to death during a robbery, struck by a vehicle, or fallen from a height, their deaths alone would have had a chilling effect on British intelligence asset development in Russia. Was using radiological and biological weaponry truly necessary to deter treason? After all, media reports probably credit too many deaths to Russian state assassins, when organized crime and natural causes are also involved.

Unfortunately, Lomas provides no insight as to why Russia would attack a NATO member with traceable weapons of mass destruction in an indiscriminate manner twice, risking an Article IV or V response from the North Atlantic Council, when a bullet would do.

03-14-2018, 06:41 PM
Two items, each very different.

The first is by Lawrence Freedman, emeritus professor of war studies at King’s College London; which is broad strategic overview entitled:
Putin’s new Cold War; Assassination attempts, cyber-attacks, military interventions – Russia is once again playing a deadly game with the West. Yet beneath the bravado is a nation riddled with insecurities.

The second is an alternative view on the nerve agent used and in summary:
There are reasons to doubt that these compounds are military grade nerve agents or that a Russian “Novichok” programme ever existed. If they were potentially usable as chemical weapons, people on the OPCW Scientific Advisory Board who were in a position to know the properties of these compounds would have recommended that they be added to the list of Scheduled Chemicals. They have never been added.
2) Synthesis at bench scale of organic chemicals such as the purported “Novichoks” is within the capability of a modern chemistry laboratory. Porton Down itself must have been able to synthesize these compounds in order to develop tests for them. The detection of such a compound does not establish Russian origin.

03-21-2018, 09:46 AM
I am familiar with the views of Alastair Hay, Professor (Emeritus) of Environmental Toxicology, University of Leeds; whose slim bio states:
He is a member of the Advisory Board on Education and Outreach of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and Chairman of the UK Chemical Weapons Convention Advisory Committee.

His commentary ends with:
Nerve agents are grotesque weapons and their use against civilians is a deeply disturbing trend. But in the weeks to come, there will have to be a dispassionate review of the evidence. And as the spat between Russia, and the UK and its allies worsens, cool heads will be needed. Amid all this frenetic activity, however, we must not forget the three victims – and wish them a swift recovery. After all, they are the ones paying the heaviest price.
Link:https://theconversation.com/novichok-the-deadly-story-behind-the-nerve-agent-in-sergei-skripal-spy-attack-93562? (https://theconversation.com/novichok-the-deadly-story-behind-the-nerve-agent-in-sergei-skripal-spy-attack-93562?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20 for%20March%2021%202018%20-%2097388421&utm_content=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20f or%20March%2021%202018%20-%2097388421+CID_98bf6441f08ecfacb3b1ebcb2795df7e&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=Novichok%20the%20deadly%20story%20behind% 20the%20nerve%20agent%20in%20Sergei%20Skripal%20sp y%20attack)

Meantime the incident has retreated from the media foreground here, I leave aside the political fracas over whether Jeremy Corbyn is 'fit and proper' person to possibly become Prime Minister. We have the OPCW involved, some odd political statements that there is evidence aplenty it is the Russian state's responsibility and a criminal investigation.

03-23-2018, 09:09 PM
An unusual commentary via RUSI, by:
The author is a senior former British intelligence official who has chosen to write this article anonymously to articulate unhindered views.

It opens with:
As Lenin once quipped at a key turning moment in his revolution, chto delat? (What is to be done?). That is precisely the question facing the UK after the attempted assassination in Salisbury of Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia

The last paragraph:
The actions proposed here against the Russian intelligence presence may not be the most dramatic suggestions. But the UK’s response must acknowledge that British–Russian relations are not just some degrees worse than hitherto. For Russia under Putin has become not just a disappointing partner or a part-nuisance; it is now hostile, and Whitehall needs to adopt a policy to accept that.

04-03-2018, 08:28 PM
Today there has been a flurry of reports, all of which appear to cast doubt on the official version. In part as ministers and others referred to 'evidence' when it would have been wiser to say 'assessment' or 'intelligence'.

This via the NYT on March 29th via Twitter and not in the UK media:
Sergei Skripal's door is being removed from his Salisbury home, hours after police say he was exposed to nerve agent there....(From Shashank Joshi, of RUSI) 25 days after the poisoning.

Here is a headline today from the conservative Daily Telegraph:
Salisbury nerve agent 'probably state made' but Porton Down scientists unable to say it came from Russia

Gary Aitkenhead, the chief executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down, said that:
We were able to identify it as novichok, to identify that it was a military-grade nerve agent. We have not verified the precise source, but we provided the scientific information to the government who have then used a number of other sources to piece together the conclusions that they have come to. It is our job to provide the scientific evidence that identifies what the particular nerve agent is, we identified that it was from this family and that it is a military grade nerve agent, but it is not our job to then say where that actually was manufactured.

A dissident voice on Open Democracy (which leans to the left IMHO):
It is difficult to obtain 100% proof in cases such as the Sergey Skripal poisoning. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't demand as much evidence — from our politicians and law enforcement — as possible.

A more detailed analysis comes from a group of academics who watch propaganda and the media; one - not one of the three authors - of whom I have heard in person who would never be sympathetic to a Conservative government here. A key point made:
The UK government’s declared case therefore rests only on subjective judgements of “intent and motive”, which are open to question.



04-05-2018, 09:52 AM
Shashank Joshi, of RUSI, replies to the criticism (via the Australian Lowy Institute):https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/skripal-weight-evidence

04-09-2018, 03:12 PM
A good overview and some hints at what the UK has told its allies. A "taster" passage:
For weeks, the Russians have been hammering away at weaknesses in the British argumentation and now, that strategy has begun to show at least some results. If the British don't release additional details or evidence, there is a danger that the Skripal case will become a matter of faith rather than of fact.

07-11-2018, 09:13 AM
In so far unexplained circumstances two adults had contact with Novichok, either in Salisbury or a nearby village; after four days the media broadcast the story. One of them, a woman has now died.

An acknowledged SME, Alistair Hay, has a short article; he tries to answer this:
So what do we know about Novichok and how long it remains in the environment? Regrettably, very little. There is insufficient scientific data to be certain about the time it takes for this chemical to degrade and for the threat it poses to end.

The second article is partly from a public meeting held to reassure the local population. One must wonder if this was successful:
The nerve agent that killed a Wiltshire woman could last for 50 years if it remains in a container, Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer has said.
Link:https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/10/nerve-agent-poisoning-inquiry-spreads-to-swindon-car-seized-dawn-sturgess? (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/jul/10/nerve-agent-poisoning-inquiry-spreads-to-swindon-car-seized-dawn-sturgess?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=280745&subid=10047113&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2)

07-22-2018, 02:25 PM
The UK press appear to have some information, although whether this has been officially "leaked" or is based on their own journalism I leave you to judge. Unless as at least one story suggested we had updated the US authorities and the "leak" was there.

Anyway amidst the reporting is this gem about the second Novichok use, with my emphasis:
A bottle found at the home of Charlie Rowley, who along with his partner Dawn Sturgess, was poisoned by the nerve agent used in the Skripal attack at the end of last month, is said to have yielded forensic evidence which has also helped drive the investigation. Ms Sturgess subsequently died on 8 July: an inquest into her death was opened and adjourned today with police enquiries continuing. Mr Rowley remains severely ill. His brother, Matthew, has said that Ms Sturgess had sprayed from a discarded perfume bottle the couple had found onto her wrist.

The Daily Mail has slightly more, including a link to a CNN story.

09-10-2018, 05:04 AM
Added as an update as the police investigation moves along; with huge dependence on trawling through CCTV and the identification of to Russian GRU named suspects:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45421445

The disinformation aspect:https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45454142

09-21-2018, 10:35 AM
Bellingcat adds to the evidence that the two recently named suspects are GRU operatives. Fascinating that such open source information can be assembled in these circumstances.

Link to Part One:https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/09/14/skripal-poisoning-suspects-passport-data-shows-link-security-services/

Link to Part Two:https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-and-europe/2018/09/20/skripal-suspects-confirmed-gru-operatives-prior-european-operations-disclosed/

09-26-2018, 07:02 PM
https://news-sky-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/news.sky.com/story/amp/revealed-salisbury-suspect-is-colonel-in-russian-military-intelligence-11509532?usqp=mq331AQCCAE%3D&amp_js_v=0.1#referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&amp_tf=From%20%251%24s&ampshare=https%3A%2F%2Fnews.sky.com%2Fstory%2Freve aled-salisbury-suspect-is-colonel-in-russian-military-intelligence-11509532

09-26-2018, 07:13 PM
Odd that Sky News do not credit Bellingcat:
Bellingcat and its investigative partner The Insider – Russia have established conclusively the identity of one of the suspects in the poisoning of Sergey and Yulia Skripal, and in the homicide of British citizen Dawn Sturgess.

Curiously bellingcat use sources familiar with the GRU and so I'd take this with a "pinch of salt":
The source further surmised that to send a highly decorated colonel back to a field job would be highly extraordinary, and would imply that “the job was ordered at the highest level.”

There's also this - which credits Bellingcat:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/09/26/skripal-hitman-unmasked-gru-colonel-awarded-russias-highest/?

10-04-2018, 08:39 PM
I have just merged the 2018 thread on the attempted murder of ex-GRU Colonel Sergei Skripal, in Salisbury, England. Posts 51 to here refer to issues linked to this incident.

10-04-2018, 08:45 PM
A startling development this morning when the Dutch military intelligence agency (AVID) held a press conference on the action taken in 2017 to expel four accredited diplomats - who were GRU -whose trade craft to say the least was lacking.

(Added) The AVID briefing slides (x35):https://t.co/UUD5CvmJZn

The US DoJ has followed on with indictments.

There are different, detailed reports in the UK:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-45746837 and https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/04/netherlands-halted-russian-cyber-attack-on-chemical-weapons-body

10-10-2018, 08:49 AM
Yes again, the second suspect in the Salisbury poisoning case was a doctor and highly decorated Russian military intelligence officer. Incredible that so much Russian information online can be accessed, this includes via 'The Dark Net'.


BBC News:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45801154

A Russian investigative site:https://citeam.org/whats-in-a-number-how-love-for-expensive-cars-and-number-plates-revealed-the-second-skripal-suspects-indentity/


10-18-2018, 07:06 PM
An exploration of Bellingcat in 'The Spectator' alas behind a paywall, which considers the allegations made it is a servant of the UK / US agencies. It ends with this:
The real secret of Bellingcat is that they have stumbled upon a disturbing truth: that it has become impossible to tell analogue lies in a digital world. In an age where almost all personal data is searchable and every event photographed, the most secret information is often hiding in plain sight. All you need to know is where to look for it — even if that means delving into the internet’s darkest corners.

11-17-2018, 01:58 PM
Linked is a lengthy review of two books by Dr. Rob Dover, one of which is Mark Urban's book 'The Skripal Files'; the author is a BBC journalist whose focus is military-strategic. The review starts on pg.4 and onto pg.6 with:
The Skripal Files is the first monograph-length response to the poisonings of Skripal and his daughter in March 2018 and has beaten both other journalists and academics – who might be focusing on peer review journals – into press. It has substance, too. Indeed, the key added value of the book is ten hours of interview evidence that Urban conducted with Skripal in the summer of 2017: this is an entirely novel contribution to our understanding of this man, of the motivations for defection laid bare, and indeed – inadvertently – to our understanding of why the GRU may have taken such strong action against a man who had been convicted and then swapped (which conventionally would mean absolved from any further punishment).
Link and click on the bottom icon:http://www.ccw.ox.ac.uk/blog/2018/11/14/a-world-shaped-by-spying-literature-review-by-robert-dover

12-29-2018, 06:59 PM
A 'long read' and of interest, even if he defected long ago, in 1978 after eight years in the GRU. The article is sub-titled:
Defections from Moscow’s most powerful spy agency are so rare, there are believed to be just two living examples. One is Sergei Skripal, who almost died this year. The other talks

12-29-2018, 07:03 PM
From an unknown author via Twitter, who explains his purpose:
And for my purposes, I’m only concerned with the answer to one very specific variation of that question: Who watches the killers (and other members) of the Main [Intelligence] Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (GRU)?In Russia, it turns out it’s a pretty straightforward answer: the Directorate of Military Counterintelligence of the Department of Military Counterintelligence (UVKR) of the Counterintelligence Service of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB).

06-27-2019, 09:13 AM
A good article on a GRU operation.
Link:https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/06/estonia-russia-deniss-metsavas-spy/592417/? (https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/06/estonia-russia-deniss-metsavas-spy/592417/?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=the-atlantic&utm_term=2019-06-26T16%3A36%3A53&utm_content=edit-promo&utm_source=twitter)