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Thread: Recent Russian Intelligence Operations

  1. #61
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    Default Update: May calls attack "unlawful use of force"

    Breaking

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

    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.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-12-2018 at 09:47 PM. Reason: fix quotes

  2. #62
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    Default Prime Minister May's Remarks

    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/w...poisoning.html
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-12-2018 at 09:44 PM. Reason: fix quote

  3. #63
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Some context

    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.
    Link:https://theconversation.com/sergei-skripal-and-the-long-history-of-assassination-attempts-abroad-93021?


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  4. #64
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    Default More of the jigsaw

    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'.
    Link:https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/...om-nerve-agent
    davidbfpo

  5. #65
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    Default To davidbfpo RE: Lomas

    David,

    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.
    Last edited by Azor; 03-13-2018 at 07:37 PM.

  6. #66
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default

    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.
    Link:https://www.newstatesman.com/politic...s-new-cold-war

    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.
    Link:https://timhayward.wordpress.com/201...ing-novichoks/
    davidbfpo

  7. #67
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    Default Novichok: the deadly story behind the nerve agent in Sergei Skripal spy attack

    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?

    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.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 03-23-2018 at 09:03 PM. Reason: 1850v
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  8. #68
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    Default The UK and Russia: What is to be Done?

    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.
    Link:https://rusi.org/commentary/uk-and-russia-what-be-done

    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.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-03-2018 at 07:55 PM. Reason: 3,841v today
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  9. #69
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    Default Doubts about the Salisbury nerve agent attack

    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.
    Link:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics...e-nerve-agent/

    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.
    Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-rus...se-is-lacking?

    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.
    Link:http://syriapropagandamedia.org/working-papers/update-to-briefing-note-doubts-about-novichoks







    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-05-2018 at 09:49 AM. Reason: 4,270v today
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  10. #70
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    Default

    Shashank Joshi, of RUSI, replies to the criticism (via the Australian Lowy Institute):https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-in...eight-evidence
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  11. #71
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    Default Skripal Case Descends into a Propaganda War: a German article

    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.
    Link:http://www.spiegel.de/international/...a-1201573.html
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-11-2018 at 09:04 AM. Reason: 11,450v
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  12. #72
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    Default Novichok returns: one dead, one critical

    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.
    Link:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-44778697

    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?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-22-2018 at 02:14 PM. Reason: 12,119v today
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  13. #73
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    Default Developments

    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.
    Link:https://www.independent.co.uk/news/u...-a8454501.html

    The Daily Mail has slightly more, including a link to a CNN story.
    Link:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...k-mission.html
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  14. #74
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    Default Sergei Skripal and the Russian disinformation game

    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
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-10-2018 at 05:05 AM. Reason: 13,339v today
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  15. #75
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    Default Skripal Suspects Confirmed as GRU Operatives: Prior European Operations Disclosed

    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-a...rity-services/

    Link to Part Two:https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-a...ons-disclosed/
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 09-21-2018 at 10:36 AM. Reason: 13,787v today up 400 since last post
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    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
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    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


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  17. #77
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    Default Skripal 'hitman' unmasked as GRU colonel : Bellingcat strike again!

    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.”
    Link:https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-a...toliy-chepiga/

    There's also this - which credits Bellingcat:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/201...sias-highest/?
    davidbfpo

  18. #78
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    Default Moderator at work

    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.
    davidbfpo

  19. #79
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    Default Russia cyber-plots: US, UK and Netherlands allege hacking

    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/20...l-weapons-body
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-05-2018 at 10:57 AM. Reason: 74,455v after merging today
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  20. #80
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    Default Skripal 'hitman' unmasked as GRU colonel : Bellingcat strike again and again

    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'.

    Bellingcat:https://www.bellingcat.com/news/uk-a...n-hero-russia/

    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/


    Last edited by davidbfpo; 10-10-2018 at 09:03 AM. Reason: 75,229v
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