empire watch, latest, Skripal case
Comments 51

The Skripal psyop – where next?

David Macilwain

At the end of my article on “the Framing of Russia”, published initially by American Herald Tribune on October 4th and since on Off Guardian, I wrote:

 .. In the plausibility stakes in fact, this whole story – which as Elena (Evdokimova) observes is only hypothetical – rates at least as “highly likely”, if not quite “beyond reasonable doubt”, and is a substantial base on which to mount further speculation and prediction on the conspirators’ next moves. That the UK government, its agencies and assistants are the conspirators, with everything that this implies, can however no longer be in doubt.”

On that same day their “next move” materialised, in the shape of a coordinated press release by Dutch and British governments. This was actually more of a coordinated release of misinformation, detailing actions six whole months earlier, so the question must be what specific purpose was being sought and achieved by this long delayed action?

Was this not just the next move in creating a profile of Russia’s GRU as some sort of bogyman and mortal “threat to our way of life”, that began on September 5th with the launching of Bellingcat’s chosen patsies “Chepiga and Mishkin” onto the Western media stage? We should ask the National Cyber Security Centre, which appears to be the source of the UK Government’s latest statements.

The NCSC, a branch of GCHQ set up in October 2016, alleges that the GRU tried to gain access to OPCW computer networks, and to those at Porton Down in April 2018, assessing with “high confidence” that the GRU was “almost certainly” responsible for those alleged cyber-attacks.

We can’t however have even moderate confidence in this authoritative sounding information from the UK’s chief spy agency, as the NCSC expresses exactly the same “high confidence” that:

In 2016, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was hacked and documents were subsequently published online”, and that “the GRU was almost certainly responsible.”

Really? Didn’t Russia’s military intelligence unit have enough on its plate in 2016, dealing with US support for Al Nusra in Aleppo and ISIS in Palmyra and Deir al Zour?

The wider agenda of the UK and Dutch governments in making this fabricated case against “Russian meddling” and “reckless behaviour” – even labelling Russia a “pariah state” – is worrying, simply because it is fabricated. To understand why, we need only examine the context of that action taken against Russian diplomats/GRU agents at the time it happened, in mid-April. In fact they were expelled the day before the US, UK and France launched a missile attack on Damascus, having refused to wait for the OPCW to reach Douma to establish whether a Chemical Weapon attack had really taken place.

During the week between the Douma stunt and the missile attack, Russia had been working furiously to prevent such an attack, in the full knowledge that Opposition claims of a chemical strike on Douma were fabricated by the White Helmets and their Special Forces aides. No-one on the ground in Douma knew anything about such a strike, and Russian experts had already done tests and found no chemical evidence of one. Russia and Syria had demanded that the OPCW visit Douma as soon as possible; evidently the US/UK/French coalition intended to strike at Damascus regardless and didn’t want the truth to get in the way of their great story, so found ways to delay the OPCW’s mission both in Holland and Syria.

Whether Russian diplomats were also at the Hague making representations to the OPCW over Douma during that week is unknown, but they were surely there in connection with the OPCW’s investigations of the alleged nerve agent used to poison Sergei and Yulia Skripal. Following on the OPCW’s visit to Salisbury to “collect” samples around March 21st and their analysis at undisclosed certified laboratories, their conclusions on the nature of the poison were issued on April 12th, the day before the expulsion of Russian diplomats.

On the 14th of April, Sergei Lavrov took the extraordinary step of releasing the confidential results of the OPCW analysis performed by the Swiss Spiez lab, publicly revealing what had been omitted from statements by the OPCW head and the UK government, which merely confirmed the presence of “Novichok” in blood and environmental samples.

The OPCW report available here stated only that:

  1. The TAV team notes that the toxic chemical was of high purity. The latter is concluded from the almost complete absence of impurities.
  2. The name and structure of the identified toxic chemical are contained in the full classified report of the Secretariat, available to States Parties.

Like the “release” of misinformation on October 4th, on the alleged GRU hacking of the OPCW six months earlier, it appears that even this public statement from the supposedly neutral OPCW was timed to suit the political and strategic agenda of the UK and Dutch governments. The previous day the new head of GCHQ, Jeremy Fleming, speaking on the last day of a three-day NCSC conference in Manchester, had already delivered the verdict of Russia’s guilt and recommended the punishment.

In his first public appearance as an intelligence chief, Fleming’s particularly rabid and intemperate contribution seemed almost designed to inflame the dangerous confrontation with Russia over Syria. At least it appears to confirm the close connection between the UK’s claims of chemical weapons use in Salisbury and Syria, and the intent to smear Russia with the same toxic poison as Syria in the mind of the Western public.

What Lavrov had revealed, on the undisclosed presence of the incapacitating agent BZ in the Skripals’ blood samples, was of course a breakthrough. It is more than ironic that the revelation of this astonishing campaign of lies told through Western media was completely submerged by news of the illegal missile attack on Syria that happened on the same day.

Thanks to this propaganda campaign from the creators of “Operation Nina”, the truth Russia also revealed about events in Douma and its later confirmation by the OPCW barely caused a ripple. When Russia presented a group of real Syrian witnesses from Douma at the OPCW headquarters, UK, French and Dutch governments condemned their action as an “obscene masquerade” and “gruesome spectacle”. It’s hard to think of a better description for that criminal war provocation those governments and their agents had just contrived in Syria.

So where does this all leave us now, as the situation in Syria begins to look more promising? Not only have the Jordanian and Golan border crossings been opened this week, but there is positive progress on the Demilitarised Zone, to be policed by Russian and Turkish forces. With the bizarre events in Istanbul over the apparent murder of Jamal Khashoggi causing severe tensions between Turkey, the Saudis and the US, the “rebel” forces all three countries have been supporting in Idlib province may be thinking it best to keep a low profile and comply with the ceasefire plan.

In fact it’s hard not to see some strange connection here, as the DMZ agreement effectively marks the end of the joint Saudi-Turkish “surge” of March 2015, when thousands of fighters invaded Idlib under the joint flag of Jaish al Fatah, or Army of Conquest. The Saudi-supported faction that dominated this army – Jabhat al Nusra – now rebadged as Tahrir al Sham or HTS, remains the wild card, of foreign jihadists on life-support from Syria’s most intransigent enemies.

But the question remains – what is the next move from those countries who have         supported the war on Syria for seven years and now finally failed to achieve their goal? Does this new focus on “cyber-security” – otherwise known as “information warfare” – signify a departure from the “War on Terror”.

Perhaps this glowing portrayal of one of the leaders of the West’s new cyber-army is showing us the way. In an almost unreadable puff piece on “open-source” journalism, titled “Citizen journalists – the fighters on the frontline against Russia’s attacks” Carole Cadwalladr posits that:

We can no longer count on our governments to protect us from a tide of disinformation. Our security rests in the hands of open source intelligence, as pioneered by Bellingcat.”

As Cadwalladr says – disinformation is “the defining story of our age, and the story of 2018”.

We could hardly dispute that!

Sixties drop out, Scientist-farmer, cheesemaker-Luddite, late life activist for the Resistance, Putin/Assad/Nasrallah lover. Atheist. Traveller-student through MENA-Russia-Europe. Abandoned UK frying pan for Australian fire. Marginalised dissident. Author for Russia Insider/AHT and OffG.

51 Comments

  1. jjc says

    “We can no longer count on our governments to protect us from a tide of disinformation.”

    I cannot recall ever being under the impression that governments had a responsibility to “protect” the public from information. I have been under the impression that a free flow of information was in everyone’s best interest, and that a properly educated public could use their critical thinking skills to discern what may or may not be accurate. And that lying liars, once exposed, would face appropriate skepticism for some time to come.

    This journalist appears to completely disavow longstanding Enlightenment-based practice in favour of the protective embrace of the lying liars themselves. Why should anyone pay attention to anything this journalist has to say?

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    • Mighty Drunken says

      I don’t remember the Enlightenment being based on “a tide of disinformation”. The Enlightenment was about throwing off dogma and authority and replacing it with the search for truth. Where each person can check the facts for themselves and argue their theory. The best theory hopefully winning out by matching the facts better than the other theories.
      Recently we have taken a step away from these principles. The media, with one voice give The Official version, any dissent is shouted down with cries of “conspiracy theorist”, “PutinBot”, “apologist”.
      What should be happening is a wider spectrum of opinion in the media and government. Only with a plurality of ideas can you test each one to find the ones which have the closest fit to the truth.
      So Government obviously should not be protecting us from information. They could try protecting us from disinformation, but which is the information and which is the lie? The Government definitely should not be promoting disinformation!

    • Jen says

      Please calm down, that was David McIlwain quoting Carole Crapswallowerregurgitator in her hysterical justification to a falling Guardian readership as to why they should uncritically follow a non-entity like Bellingcrap.

      Off-Guardian and most of us commenters who are not trolls would agree with you that a free flow of information is in all of our best interests and that the public, properly educated, can and should use their critical thinking skills to judge what is accurate and when they are being lied to. The problem though is that there are those people in the political establishment, and their sponsors, in our own countries and beyond, who have judged that a free flow of information and a properly educated public are not in their best interests.

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      • Thanks Jen! I didn’t think jjc was talking about THIS journalist… as it was so unrelated to what I actually wrote. But I guess some people just scan through articles looking for stuff in big print that stands out. That’s what you see in the Graun after all, where authors quote themselves to emphasise points. (admit that’s what I did at the beginning actually!)

  2. paul metcalf says

    why aren’t there banner headlines in all uk papers,”where are the SKRIPALS?”

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  3. Sam says

    Keep in mind UK gov manipulated the OPCW technical assistance process with the visit to the UK, the rushed court proceedings re blood samples etc. This is because UK gov played a swerve and never formally presented their findings first to OPCW as procedure. UK gov with Porton Down facility do not require any technical assistance whatsoever. The outcome of this process jump is twofold: 1, UK gov have never formally presented their individual national findings complete with full background information to OPCW and/or shared and consulted with all signatories. 2, foregoing the first part of the process sped up OPCW declaration of chemical use.

    Link – https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/sshd-v-skripal-and-another-20180322.pdf
    Paragraph 2 of this ‘on an urgent basis’ proceeding should never have happened.

    Link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rif_Dimashq_offensive_(February%E2%80%93April_2018)
    The Rif Dimashq offensive (February–April 2018), code-named Operation Damascus Steel, was a military offensive launched by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in February 2018 in a bid to capture the rebel-held eastern Ghouta suburb. East Ghouta, a pocket of towns and farms, had been under government siege since 2013 and had been a major rebel stronghold in the vicinity of the capital of Damascus. Around midnight between 19 and 20 February, the Russian Air Force joined the offensive as well, targeting several rebel-held districts.

    Link – https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/02/eastern-ghouta-happening-180226110239822.html
    Here is a timeline dated 14th April 2018 which was the same day of the FUKUS missile strikes following a supposed chemical attack in Syria 7th April 2018. OPCW report on Salisbury supposed chemical attack issued 12th April 2018 (apologies for the WH advert at the end).

    Russia chemical attacks baaad, Syria chemical attacks baaad. Please please Mr Trump, we need to bomb the fuck out of this pair of bastards because these lot are gaining more and more territory and control, if they hold Ghouta this will break the back of this adventure and don’t forget the Iranians are there. We’re getting a OPCW finding about our Skripal lad too.

    Trump prewarn tweet about missiles…
    “Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” – 11 Apr 2018

  4. Gwyn says

    I’ve just burst out laughing at Cadwalladr’s mention of Bellingcat. Are ”journalists” such as her taking the piss, or what? Or do they genuinely believe the nonsense they spout?

    For the Guardian, of all publications, to deliver lofty sermons about disinformation is quite absurd. The spreading of lies being, of course, their stock-in-trade.

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    • Yarkob says

      a really, really badly botched one, but with superb plausible deniability

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  5. MICHAEL LEIGH says

    According to the BBC broadcasts today 22 October, when revising a report of alleged RAF bombing in Syria described by international observers as a war crime, the BBC now describe such attacks as ‘ droping weapons ‘ as a GB approved description of a deadly bombing attack !

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    • nwwoods says

      I saw that too. Embarrassing display on the part of Higgy.

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  6. Stonky says

    And Yulia Skripal, who wasn’t anybody’s double agent and hasn’t committed any criminal offence, has been held incommunicado now for almost eight months by the authorities in “free and democratic” UK.

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  7. Meanwhile in the real world, Ruslan Ostashko reminds us that It’s All About Oil. FUKZU$A is trying to punish Russia for preventing NATZO from taking over Syria and the Ukraina on behalf of the AZC. From his article in today’s Saker:

    “One year remains till the “Nord stream 2” will start its operations. The European Union needs to survive only one approaching heating season, after which the issue of dependency for energy supplies on the [EU$A puppets] sitting in Kiev will be removed from the agenda.

    [Putin’s] ban on the re-export of [Russian] oil products for Poroshenko is the first step to his suffocation. …

    The moment when the issue of the Kiev regime will be resolved is steadily approaching.”

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  8. davemass says

    Why no demand from MSM journos for the body of Skripal to be shown?
    They are demandiing the Sauds to show the bits of Khashoggi?!
    Is Skripal in bits too?

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    • vexarb says

      Habeas corpus? Can you produce the body in the case?
      I thought that was a pillar of Englist Law.

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    • JudyJ says

      That’s where the Saudis went wrong. They should have simply said that Khashoggi is fit and well but wants to be left to move on with the rest of his life in peace…’so no publicity, thank you’. Let’s face it, nobody in the West would be in a moral position to challenge that line.

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  9. Antonym says

    For Dutch read Mark Rutte, hypnotized by MH17 and still PM.
    For Russia read Putin.

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  10. Michael Cromer says

    That new Royal Navy Aircraft Carrier is looking more like the Worlds biggest Decoy Duck every day – let’s have a competition to rename it.

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  11. Gary Weglarz says

    (“That the UK government, its agencies and assistants are the conspirators, with everything that this implies, can however no longer be in doubt.”)

    – Thank you. In a sane world the fact that the Skripnals have seemingly vanished from the face of the earth while under UK “protection” might elicit some concern from the Western governments and humanitarians loudly proclaiming Russian “evil doing.” Yet of course no such “concern” has been or will ever be forthcoming, because in the end this is all farce, and smoke, and mirrors, and the rule of law has no more application than does common sense.

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    • Gwyn says

      To axisofoil – the Russians get a grown-up who knows what he’s talking about such as Lavrov as their foreign minister. What do we get? Utter imbeciles such as Alexander Boris de Piffle Johnson and Jeremy ”Rhyming Slang” Hunt, two arrogant, uncivilised oiks who don’t know the first thing about diplomacy. The difference between the two approaches couldn’t be more stark.

      Thanks for posting that video and all the others which you post on here.

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  12. flamingosarepink says

    Right on mulga, Blundercat are the useful idiots of the GCHQ. Blundercat publishes totally unbelievable BS wrapped up in gobbledygook and crapwallower (like that) rolls around in it.

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    • Jen says

      Noted a misspelling in there: Crapwallower should be Crapswallower. There, fixed it.

      I’d prefer Crapswallowerregurgitator but as you can see, that’s a bit of a mouthful.

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      • Crapswallowerregurgitator
        AntiDisestablishmentarianism

        Sorry, Jen, your entry lost.

        Nevertheless a pithy description of an MSM hack. MSMH = CSR.

        Might even give rise to graffiti eg, The Guardian is a CSR.

  13. Einstein says

    In my childhood the Soviets were the baddies, oppressors of Budapest and Prague. James Bond was a hero fighting for good. I grew up in a happy, free England.
    I never believed the roles would be so reversed:
    that NATO betrayed the Berlin Wall deal and moved troops up to the gates of Moscow and Petersburg,
    that the CIA fomented a coup in Kiev and that régime shot down an airliner with over 200 passengers and blamed it on the Russians to push the EU into backing American sanctions . . .
    And then the Skripal pantomime (“Verdict first, evidence afterwards”),
    And the bombing of Damascus upon a fabricated hoax,
    And arming and training depraved jihadis to assault the Syrian peoples,
    And providing planes and bombs to Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemeni school buses full of children to smithereens,
    And the British government has the arrogance and gall to think people don’t see all this?
    And now that child, Gavin Williamson wants to tear up the nuclear weapons control treaties signed by Gorbachëv and Reagan? Of course, he’s too young to remember the threat of nuclear war that hung over us like a Damocles’s sword.

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    • Matt says

      It was the Eastern Ukrainian rebels who accidentally shot down MH17, thinking it was an SU-25.

      It’s been over 4 years, but still the lies by Russia affect certain people

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      • Admin says

        This requires a factual correction. Many claims have been made about what happened to MH17. No definitive evidence has been produced in public. The full evidence and the workings of the official inquiry have been sealed at the insistence of the Ukrainian government. All we have from that side are some allegations and claims, backed with virtually no evidence strong enough to support their conclusions.

        No evidence has been produced to show the rebels owned or, if they did, were able to use a BUK system. In fact your comment shows you don’t really understand how such systems work. This is because you get your information from mainstream media sources and they consistently lied and obfuscated on this point. A BUK system is not just an anti-aircraft point and shoot gun. Its sophistication and complexity makes it virtually impossible for it to be used by ad hoc gangs of untrained rebels, and virtually impossible for a passenger jet to be mistaken for an SU-25.

        The UA on the other hand had several such systems operational in the vicinity. They also had the crews trained to use them and a motive for upping the ante.

        The case against the UA is circumstantially much stronger than the case against the rebels, and any objective observer must acknowledge that.

        I don’t know why you subject the claims of one side to different levels of proof than the other, but it signifies YOUR bias not anyone else’s.

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        • Antonym says

          Did Ukraine ever release their radar data? Also they came very fast with an (convenient) explanation for the downing: suspicious.

          • JudyJ says

            From the UA’s point of view, it’s impossible to release radar data that doesn’t exist. The last that I recall being claimed by the Ukrainians on this was that they did have two radar systems (one civilian, one military) capable of recording movements along the flight path taken by MH17 but, ‘unfortunately’, one was undergoing routine maintenance that day and the other malfunctioned at the crucial time. Really unfortunate sequence of events – I’m sure the UA were most distraught at not being able to provide this information (LOL).

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        • Butties says

          Well axis I will try to explain. The ground at Shanksville was completely different to that in the Ukraine. At Shanksville they initially thought it was so hard that the plane bounced off and into the forest. Then it was explained (when they couldn’t find it in the forest) that the ground at Shanksville was in fact ‘filled’ ground and ‘soft’. It was then obvious that the plane simply ploughed deep underground. (ie it was literally swallowed up). This was proven when they used a swing shovel to excavate the site and it brought up one of the engines virtually intact and nicely fitting into the swingshovel bucket. The ground in the Ukraine was much more normal and of course the plane MH17 was subdivided into bits before impact thus losing that crucial penetration element that jumbo’s naturally have.

          The walls of the Pentagon were similar to the ground at Shanksfille (sic) as were the steel box section walls (with small openings) in WTC1 & 2. No problem for an aluminium alloy shell structure to penetrate when in ‘hole’ form.

          I hope this helps (lol).

      • wschira says

        Hi chap,
        who of the CIA-pampered company of liars called bellingcat are you?

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        • Admin says

          I don’t think he is anything to do with Bellingcat, and in any case it’s not relevant. Critique the argument not the man!

  14. In the last few weeks, a lot of information has appeared online connected with the US $2.1 billion research programme labelled “Insect Allies” has become available, including £170 million going to Porton Down.

    https://21stcenturywire.com/tag/bioweapons/

    So what has this to do with Skripal. Could he have heard about the research programme and the danger to his homeland Russia? Could the two characters from Russia have been sent to collect information and samples?

    The NATO disinformation is so clumsy and full of holes, it is an embarrassment.

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  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says

    The typical Fraudian disinforming psychopath (and dyslexic) Crapwallower has a trade-mark hate-spew against Russia today, masquerading as an attack on Clegg and Farcebook. The thought that creatures like this are doing their Evil worst to drive the world to thermo-nuclear annihilation is sickening and enraging.

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    • jonny says

      Agreed Mulga, at least we have Vladimir Putin with a cool head, we all could have been glowing ashes by now.

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      • Antonym says

        A good number of Russians with first hand seats preferred the apparatchiks like Brezhnev who knew that MAD was the end for both over Putin or some present Pentagon people who dream otherwise.

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        • milosevic says

          That’s right, if Putin weren’t so diabolically evil, he would just surrender his country to the tender mercies of the anglo-zionist empire, like Yeltsin did.

          Instead, he keeps moving his country closer to the empire’s archipelago of peaceful military bases, which never did nothing to hurt nobody.

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          • Gwyn says

            Thanks, milosevic, for making me laugh. Very welcome, in these dark times.

        • starngerinastrangeland says

          From his statements Putin does not appear to be under any illusions about the finality of nuclear war. To paraphrase a couple of recent comments,

          Any attack will bring an immediate, total and overwhelming response.

          What need have we of the world if Russia no longer exists.

          – hardly the thoughts of somebody contemplating a limited nuclear engagement.

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