Tag Archives: NATO

Russia attacks Britain, Putin’s puppet fires his Secretary of State (Updated)

Events over the past week portend a developing international crisis.

On Sunday, March 4, former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned in Salisbury, England. Was the Poisoning of a Former Russian Spy a Chemical Weapons Attack?

Skripal and his daughter Yulia are still in critical condition after they were found slumped on a park bench on March 4. The officer who found them is also still in the hospital but is communicative. At least 21 people received medical attention, and hundreds more who visited the restaurant where the nerve agent has been detected may have been exposed and have been urged to wash their clothes.

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The Skripal poisoning wasn’t a battlefield attack, of course, but the Chemical Weapons Convention, of which both Russia and Britain are signatories, prohibits the use of toxic chemicals such as nerve agents except for a few, specifically described purposes; assassinating ex-spies on foreign soil is not one of them.

British Prime Minister Theresa May addressed Parliament on Monday regarding the chemical weapon attack in Salisbury, England last week. In her address, she squarely placed the blame for the chemical weapons attack on the Russian government:

Mr. Speaker, this morning I chaired a meeting of the National Security Council in which we considered the information so far available. As is normal, the Council was updated on the assessment and intelligence picture, as well as the state of the investigation.

It is now clear that Mr Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia.

This is part of a group of nerve agents known as ‘Novichok’.

Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down; our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so; Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations; and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations; the Government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

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Congress now wants to talk to Trump’s personal lawyer (updated)

The Hill reports that the congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election now includes Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen:

Cohen told ABC News on Tuesday that he was asked by House and Senate investigators “to provide information and testimony” regarding communication he has had with people connected to the Russian government.

“I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen said in an email.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall has a good background post on Cohen at Talking Points Memo. Investigators Are Right To Be Looking at Michael Cohen. He’s not just “Trump’s bully lawyer who makes legal threats and mouths off on TV. He is a much, much more significant player.”

ABC News noted that after Cohen declined to cooperate, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee voted last Thursday to give the panel’s chairman and ranking Democrat the power to issue subpoenas when they think it’s necessary.

NBC News reported on Tuesday that the request letters sent to Cohen were the same ones sent to former Trump aides Carter Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.

Last month, Cohen defended the president’s relationship with Russia, saying in an interview that Trump is reducing tensions between the United States and Moscow.

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Russia tests NATO alliance in Eastern Europe

News that you have not seen reported on the network evening news programs this week . . . NPR reports Russia Seen Moving New Missiles To Eastern Europe:

In what could mark an escalation of tensions with the West, commercial satellite images suggest that Russia is moving a new generation of nuclear-capable missiles into Eastern Europe.

Russia appears to be preparing to permanently base its Iskander missile system in Kaliningrad, a sliver of territory it controls along the Baltic coast between Lithuania and Poland. Arms control experts shared fresh satellite imagery with NPR, which they say provides evidence that the Iskander will soon be housed in the Russian-controlled enclave.

The images show ground being cleared for tentlike shelters used at other Iskander bases, says Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. “The pattern, and the size, and the location strongly suggest to us that this is the beginning phase of construction of the shelters for Iskander,” Lewis says.


Lewis and Finnish defense analyst Veli-Pekka Kivimäki, a doctoral student on open-source intelligence, discovered the construction through digital sleuthing. First, they searched Russia’s Facebook, known as VKontakte, for images taken by military conscripts assigned to missile units (Russian grunts are prolific on social media, according to Lewis). Comparing the images posted by conscripts to the satellite imagery, they were able to pinpoint the missile base in Kaliningrad where the Iskanders have sometimes been sent on training exercises.

They then monitored the bases until they saw construction of what they recognized as permanent storage structures used for Iskander missiles.

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