Russia

Putin Claims Nuclear Arsenal Can Avoid Missile Defenses

Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia has developed nuclear weapons that can avoid any missile defense systems, the Washington Post reports.

“He also warned that Moscow would consider any nuclear attack, of any size, on it or its allies an attack on Russia that would lead to an immediate response — adopting Cold War-style overtones that appeared to ramp up Russia’s posturing against the West and its allies.”

“The speech, broadcast on Russian television, comes less than three weeks before a March 18 presidential election that is expected to hand Putin his fourth term.”

NSA Chief Has Not Been Asked to Combat Russian Threat

“US Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers told lawmakers on Tuesday that he has not been granted the authority by President Trump to disrupt Russian election hacking operations where they originate,” CNN reports.

“Asked by Democratic Sen. Jack Reed if he has been directed by the President, through the defense secretary, to confront Russian cyber operators, Rogers said “no I have not” but noted that he has tried to work within the authority he maintains as a commander.”

Russian Spies Hacked the Olympics

“Russian military spies hacked several hundred computers used by authorities at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea,” the Washington Post reports.

“They did so while trying to make it appear as though the intrusion was conducted by North Korea, what is known as a ‘false-flag’ operation, said two U.S. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.”

Trump Urges Investigation of the ‘Other Side’

Saying there were “no phone calls, no meetings, no collusion,” President Trump on Saturday pushed for an investigation of “the other side” amid the FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, while claiming “we need intelligence that brings our country together,” Politico reports.

Said Trump: “A lot of bad things happened on the other side, not on this side, but on the other side. And somebody should look into it, because what they did is really fraudulent and somebody should be looking into that and by somebody, I’m talking about you know who.”

Indicted Russian Oligarch Controls Mercenaries in Syria

Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch indicted last week by special counsel Robert Mueller, is believed “to control the Russian mercenaries who attacked U.S. troops and their allies in Syria this month” and “was in close touch with Kremlin and ­Syrian officials in the days and weeks before and after the assault,” the Washington Post reports.

Inside the Russian Troll Factory

The Washington Post spoke to Marat Mindiyarov, one of the 13 Russians indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller last week, who described what it was like at the “troll factory” where he worked:

I arrived there, and I immediately felt like a character in the book 1984 by George Orwell — a place where you have to write that white is black and black is white. Your first feeling, when you ended up there, was that you were in some kind of factory that turned lying, telling untruths, into an industrial assembly line. The volumes were colossal — there were huge numbers of people, 300 to 400, and they were all writing absolute untruths. It was like being in Orwell’s world.

My untruths amounted to posting comments. I worked in the commenting department — I had to comment on the news. No one asked me my opinion. My opinions were already written for me, and I had to write in my own words that which I was ordered to write.

Trump Slams FBI for Too Much Time on Russia Probe

President Trump lashed out at the FBI Saturday night, saying the agency “missed all of the many signals” sent by the suspect in the Florida school shooting and arguing they are “spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign,” USA Today reports.

Said Trump on Twitter: “This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

Fox & Friends amplifies: “I think what President Trump does is what he always does, which is he channels what we are all thinking.”

U.S. Must Fight Russian Meddling Without a Leader

New York Times: “After more than a dozen Russians and three companies were indicted on Friday for interfering in the 2016 elections, President Trump’s first reaction was to claim personal vindication… He voiced no concern that a foreign power had been trying for nearly four years to upend American democracy, much less resolve to stop it from continuing to do so this year.”

“The indictment secured by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, underscored the broader conclusion by the American government that Russia is engaged in a virtual war against the United States through 21st-century tools of disinformation and propaganda, a conclusion shared by the president’s own senior advisers and intelligence chiefs. But it is a war being fought on the American side without a commander in chief.

“In 13 months in office, Mr. Trump has made little if any public effort to rally the nation to confront Moscow for its intrusion or to defend democratic institutions against continued disruption.”

Russia Attacked U.S. Troops In Syria

Eli Lake: “If you’ve been listening just to the Kremlin and the Pentagon, you probably didn’t know that Russia attacked American forces and their allies in Syria last week, suffering heavy casualties.”

“Yes, all sides admit that there was an incident at a U.S. base in Deir Ezzor. And that elements of the Syrian regime and Shiite militias participated in the assault. The Pentagon and Kremlin both acknowledge that Russian “mercenaries” participated, too. But the line for now is that those contractors had gone rogue, and Moscow didn’t know anything about it.”
“But make no mistake: There is overwhelming evidence that those Russian contractors were working at the behest of the Kremlin.”

Trump Hasn’t Asked Intelligence Chiefs to Stop Russia

When Sen. Angus King (I-ME) asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo if President Trump had asked him specifically “to try and stop the Russian meddling in the midterm elections, Pompeo dodged, feigning an inability to understand the question,” Defense One reports.

Said Pompeo: “I’m not sure how specific.”

Adm. Michael Rogers, the outgoing head of U.S. Cyber Command and the NSA, agreed: “I can’t say that I’ve been specifically directed.”

Top U.S. Spy Issues Dire Warning to Congress

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told Congress that this year’s midterm elections are a “potential target” for Russian influence operations, Bloomberg reports.

Said Coats: “We assess that the Russian intelligence services will continue their efforts to disseminate false information via Russian state-controlled media and covert online personas about U.S. activities to encourage anti-U.S. political views.”

Just days after President Trump signed a $300 billion budget hike, Coats also warned that the national debt is “unsustainable” and a “dire threat” to national security.

U.S. Secretly Negotiated to Buy Stolen NSA Documents

“The United States intelligence community has been conducting a top-secret operation to recover stolen classified U.S. government documents from Russian operatives,” according to The Intercept.

“The operation has also inadvertently yielded a cache of documents purporting to relate to Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.”

“The channel started developing in early 2017, when American and Russian intermediaries began meeting in Germany. Eventually, a Russian intermediary, apparently representing some elements of the Russian intelligence community, agreed to a deal to sell stolen NSA documents back to the U.S. while also seeking to include Trump-related materials in the package.”