Tag: Russia

My First Thought Was That They Were Rebroadcasting Trump’s Speech

That was my fist thought when I read a report of a new Russian Weapon System that induces nausea, vomiting, and hallucinations:

The Russian Navy reportedly has a new weapon that can disrupt the eyesight of targets as well as make them hallucinate and vomit.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported that a Russian military contractor has installed the weapon on two Russian warships.

The weapon fires a beam similar to a strobe light that affects the target’s eyesight, making it more difficult for them to aim at night. During testing, volunteers reportedly used rifles and guns to shoot targets that were protected by the weapon. The volunteers reported having trouble aiming because they couldn’t see.

Additionally, about half of the volunteers said they felt dizzy, nauseous and disoriented. About 20 percent of the volunteers reported experiencing hallucinations.

The weapon, called the Filin, has reportedly been installed on the Admiral Gorshkov and Admiral Kasatonov, two Russian warships. The weapon is expected to be installed on more ships that are currently being built.

This is actually not as far out as it sounds.  A phenomenon known as Flicker vertigo, as well as a flashlight type device that has been mooted for law enforcement use, have been known for years.

Still, it’s an opportunity for me to make a cheap snark, so I took it.

T/t naked capitalism.

I Firmly Believe That If You Can’t Fool All of the People All of the Time You Should Start Breeding Them for Stupidity*

I think that we have determined a method to Valdimir Putin’s various machinations.

He is determined to ensure that blithering idiots and delusional megalomaniacs take power in countries he considers a crucial to Russian interests:

Russia warned the U.S. against any effort to influence the royal succession in Saudi Arabia, offering its support to embattled Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who’s under continuing pressure over the killing of a government critic.

President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Middle East said Prince Mohammed has every right to inherit the throne when the ailing 82-year-old King Salman dies.

“Of course we are against interference. The Saudi people and leadership must decide such questions themselves,” Mikhail Bogdanov, who is also deputy foreign minister, said in an interview in Moscow on Tuesday. “The King made a decision and I can’t even imagine on what grounds someone in America will interfere in such an issue and think about who should rule Saudi Arabia, now or in the future. This is a Saudi matter.”

When you look at the various allegations of meddling by Putin, allegations that he supported Trump,. Erdoğan, le Pen, Modi, and now MBS.

It makes his life a lot easier when people that you have to deal with are stupid, monomaniacal,  and/or delusional.

*President Adam Weisshaupt (from Dave Sim’s Cerebus)

This Business Will Get out of Control. It Will Get out of Control and We’ll Be Lucky to Live through It.

A Sh%$ Mess of Planes and Guns

Geography is a Bitch

Russia and the Ukraine are having confrontations over ship transits in the black sea, which has culminated in the Russians seizing 3 Ukrainian military vessels after a ramming, and a possible exchange of gunfire.

In response, the Ukrainian President is calling for martial law:

The Ukrainian president has proposed the imposition of martial law after Russian forces shot at and seized three Ukrainian navy vessels in the Black Sea, injuring six crew members according to Kiev, in a major escalation of tensions between the two countries.

On Monday, Ukrainian MPs will vote on whether to declare nationwide martial law in response to the attack following an emergency war cabinet held by the president, Petro Poroshenko. He said that the imposition of martial law would not imply a declaration of war and was only intended for defensive purposes.

The UN security council will also hold an emergency meeting on Monday about the incident following a request from Ukraine, the US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley confirmed.

Sunday was a day of rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine, with hostilities focusing on the Kerch strait, which connects the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea. Russia has constructed a $3.69bn (£2.7bn) bridge over the strait following its occupation of Crimea to link the Russian mainland and the peninsula. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, officially opened the bridge in May.

The FSB, Russia’s principal security agency, said its patrol boats had seized three naval vessels from Ukraine and used weapons to make them stop, adding that the boats had entered its territorial waters illegally.

About the only thing that could make this worse is if the, “Very Serious People,” in the US foreign policy and defense establishments, aka, “The Blog,” decide that this should be a problem for them to fix.  (Which, of course, they will)

We are completely screwed.

Kamov Advanced Helo

Looks a lot like the S-79

Sikorsky S-79

Kamov, which has been the leading producer of coaxial rotor helicopters for decades, is proposing an advanced helicopter that bears a strong similarity to the Sikorski advancing blade helicopter.

What is notable is that the two rotors are further apart than those of the S-79, it has wings, (and canards) and the propulsor is a turbofan rather than a propeller.

First, it’s pretty clear from this that the rotors are probably not as stiff,  and that the controls are less sophisticated, requiring more space between the two rotor disks to avoid the blades striking each other.

The wings, and the turbofan propulsion, imply that it is designed for a much higher speed, probably at the expense of range, noise, and low speed accelleration

That being said, I am profoundly dubious of their claim of a top speed of 700 km/h (440 mph/370 kts) for any rotorcraft:

Pictures of a Kamov design for an advanced attack helicopter have appeared on a Russian website.

The images appear to have been leaked amid competition between the Kamov and Mil Moscow Helicopter design bureaus within Russian Helicopters to develop the country’s future high-speed combat helicopter, called SBV.

Russian Helicopters announced at the Army 2017 forum in Moscow last September that it had signed a two-year contract with the Russian defense ministry to refine concepts for a high-speed attack helicopter, with both Kamov and Mil working on designs.


The leaked photographs show Kamov General Designer Sergei Mikheyev presenting the bureau’s concept, a winged coaxial-rotor, twin-turbofan compound helicopter reportedly capable of up to 700 kph (380 kt.) This compares with a speed of more than 400 kph claimed for Mil’s single-main-rotor design.


Propulsion is provided by what appear to be a pair of turbofans mounted in the aft fuselage and driving the rotor gearbox via a pair of shafts that project forward from the engines—an arrangement reminiscent of the shaft-driven lift fan in the Lockheed Martin F-35B.

The engines likely direct most of their power forward to shaft-drive the rotors for takeoff, hover and low-speed maneuvers, then shift more of the power to thrust as forward speed increases. The rotor system has a pair of contra-rotating three-blade rotors with swept tips.

Wicked Bad Day at the Office

Look to the left

The moment it goes pear shaped

We now have video of the Soyuz failure, and it was booster separation that caused the mishap:

On Thursday, Russian space officials held a news conference to lay out their findings into an October 11 accident that involved the launch of a Soyuz FG rocket and its spacecraft. The crew of NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin escaped safely, but the rocket was destroyed.

The problem, the officials said, boiled down to a “bent” sensor on one of the rocket’s four boosters that failed to properly signal stage separation. This caused one of the booster stages to improperly separate from the rocket, which can be seen in the video released by the space agency. This booster then struck the core of the rocket, causing a significant jolt and triggering one of the Soyuz spacecraft’s automatic escape systems.

According to the officials, the sensor rod was bent by a little more than 6 degrees, and this happened during assembly of the rocket. The Russian space corporation, Roscosmos, has classified this as a handling error. To fix the process, Soyuz rockets already assembled for launch with their booster packs will be disassembled and reassembled to assure that similar mistakes have not occurred.

It should be noted that, by the standards of man-rated boosters, the Soyuz is quite safe, and the escape system functioned as it should have.

Still, a bummer for the astronauts/cosmonauts and ground crew, no doubt.

Important Nomenclature Announcement

For future discussions of Russian troll farms and the like, I will use the phrase, “Russian democracy promotion efforts.”

This is NOT because I approve of these efforts, but rather to show my opprobrium US “Democracy promotion” activities.

I approve of neither the Russians encouraging the “alt-right”, nor of US support for neo-Nazi skinheads in the Ukraine or of Jihadis in Syria.

Teaching an Old Plane New Tricks

Two versions of the MiG-31, one carrying the Kinzhal missile, top, and the other carrying what might be an updated version of the Kontact for anti-satellite use. Credit: Piotr Butowski

Specifically, the MiG 31 Foxhound, which looks to be leveraging its high speed and high altitude performance to perform as a satellite launcher and ASAT platform:

The Mikoyan MiG-31 interceptor has found a second life—in fact, more than one. Not only has the aircraft known to NATO as the Foxhound been extensively upgraded, but it has also taken on new tasks: as an air-launcher for the Kinzhal ground-strike system and as an aerospace missile system to deliver small satellites to orbit or fight enemy satellites.

In September, at the Russian aviation industry’s test center in Zhukovsky near Moscow, an experimental MiG-31, No. 81, performed its first flight with an extremely large unknown missile suspended on the centerline pylon. The first high-speed taxiing of this coupling was done several months earlier.

The current program is supposed to be a follow-on of the 30P6 Kontakt (Contact) satellite intercept program of 1984-95, under which the MiG-31D aircraft using the Fakel 79M6 missile was made, and the improved MiG-31DM with the Fakel 95M6 missile was being designed.


The advantage of an airborne anti-satellite system over a ground-based one is longer range: The MiG-31 can deliver a missile over a distance of up to 1,000 km (621 mi.) before launch. The characteristics of the current system remain unknown. But they are probably similar to those of the previous Kontakt system, which was intended to destroy nonmaneuvering or maneuvering satellites in low orbits.

The 79M6 missile, weighing 4,550 kg (10,000 lb.), was launched by a MiG-31D flying at a speed of Mach 2.55 and altitude of 22 km. Its target was at an altitude of 120-600 km, depending on the distance. The missile flight time was 100-380 sec. The satellite was to be destroyed by a direct hit or detonation of a small, 20-kg explosive charge. The target was designated for the MiG-31 by the ground-based 45Zh6 Krona (Crown) system, consisting of a large decameter and centimeter-wavelength electronic-scanning radar and optical-laser locator and rangefinder. The Krona system was overhauled and upgraded in 2009-10.


The Russians have offered several systems for launching commercial satellites using the MiG-31 platform, but none of the designs has materialized. In 2001, Russia Aircraft Corp. (RSK) MiG MiG unveiled the MiG-31S project, a platform for two vehicles developed by the Astra Research Centre at the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI): the Micron rocket and Aerospace Rally System (ARS) rocket plane. The Micron was to be able to launch a 200-kg satellite to an altitude of 100 km, or 50 kg to 300 km. The ARS was to be a three-seat vehicle for suborbital flights (to an altitude of 130 km), intended for astronaut training in weightlessness conditions (up to 3 min.), research of the upper layers of the atmosphere and tourist and advertising flights.

This is contrasted with the US aviation forces, where the closest they come to reusing old airframes is converting them to target drones.

Today in Weird

Source if the leak

The leak in the space station was some screw-up with a drill who tried to hide his mistake:

Last week, a pressure leak occurred on the International Space Station. It was slow and posed no immediate threat to the crew, with the atmosphere leaving the station at a rate such that depressurization of the station would have taken 14 days.

Eventually, US and Russian crew members traced the leak to a 2mm breach in the orbital module of the Soyuz MS-09 vehicle that had flown to the space station in June. The module had carried Russian cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst, and NASA’s Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor.

The crew on the station was in no danger, and, over the course of several hours, Russian engineers devised a fix that involved epoxy. A preliminary analysis concluded that the vehicle is safe for return to Earth (the orbital module detaches from the small Soyuz capsule before entry into Earth’s atmosphere).

The drama might have ended there, as it was initially presumed that the breach had been caused by a tiny bit of orbital debris. However, recent Russian news reports have shown that the problem was, in fact, a manufacturing defect. It remains unclear whether the hole was an accidental error or intentional. There is evidence that a technician saw the drilling mistake and covered the hole with glue, which prevented the problem from being detected during a vacuum test.

“We are able to narrow down the cause to a technological mistake of a technician. We can see the mark where the drill bit slid along the surface of the hull,” Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, told RIA Novosti. (A translation of the Russian articles in this story was provided to Ars by Robinson Mitchell). “We want to find out the full name of who is at fault—and we will.”


In this case, the technician used glue instead of epoxy. As the Soyuz hull is made from an aluminum alloy, it could have been properly repaired on Earth by welding, had the technician reported the mistake.

The Soyuz manufacturing issue represents another significant problem for the Russian space agency’s suppliers and its quality control processes. Already, the manufacturer of Proton rockets, Khrunichev, has had several serious problems that have led to launch failures. Rogozin was recently installed as the leader of Roscosmos to try to clean up corruption and address these kinds of issues.

Seriously, this sh%$ is rocket science, and everyone screws up.  You own it, and the Russians know how to use a TiG welder just as well as anyone else, and the fix along with post weld inspections, should not have taken more than a couple of hours.

Bondo is not an option in space.

Chickens Coming Home to Roost

Russia will not be renewing its contract to deliver US astronauts to the International Space Satation:

Russia’s contract to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz rockets will end in April, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters on Friday.

The expiration piles additional pressure on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to restore its capability to shuttle U.S. crew members back and forth to the orbiting lab. The space agency is contracting with Boeing Co. and SpaceX to develop new vehicles to transport astronauts, but the work has been plagued by delays.

NASA has relied on Russia since retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 ended U.S.-controlled access to the space station. Congress and President Donald Trump’s administration have touted the commercial program’s importance to ending that reliance, especially as diplomatic relations between the nations have deteriorated.

A Soyuz flight planned for April 2019 “will complete the fulfillment of our obligations under a contract with NASA related to the delivery of U.S. astronauts to the ISS and their return from the station,” Borisov said at the Energia Rocket and Space Corp., reported by TASS, Russia’s official news agency.

“Please give me a lift, you evil bastard,” is probably the least effective way to hitchhike into space ever.

Not Surprised, but Appalled

The invaluable Murray Waas has been digging, and he has discovered that the Trump administration knew about Michael Flynn and his lying to the FBI before the WaPo reported it, but did nothing:

In early February 2017, a senior White House attorney, John Eisenberg, reviewed highly classified intelligence intercepts of telephone conversations between then-National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and Russia’s ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, which incontrovertibly demonstrated that Flynn had misled the FBI about those conversations, according to government records and two people with first-hand knowledge of the matter. It was after this information was relayed to President Trump that the president fired Flynn, and the following day allegedly pressured then-FBI Director James Comey to shut down a federal criminal investigation into whether Flynn had lied to the FBI.

Eisenberg reviewed the intercepts on or about February 2, 2017, according to confidential White House records and two former White House officials. Despite the fact that not only Eisenberg but presumably also other senior White House officials learned this information, they apparently took no immediate action. Only on February 8, 2017—after The Washington Post contacted the White House to say that it was about to publish a story about the intercepts showing that Flynn had lied about his conversations with Kislyak—did administration officials do anything. That same day, confidential White House records indicate, then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, White House Counsel Don McGahn, and Eisenberg directly confronted Flynn about what they learned from the intercepts. On February 10, Vice President Mike Pence, Preibus, and McGahn spoke to Flynn again, but received no satisfactory explanations from him, and recommended to President Trump that Flynn be fired. On February 13, 2017, Flynn resigned.

A former senior White House official, with first-hand knowledge of the matter, expressed disbelief at the inaction: “You have a White House lawyer learning that the national security adviser to the president of the Untied States has possibly lied—about his contacts with Russians—not only to his own White House, but also to the FBI, which is a potential felony, and nobody does anything?” The person added: “I have no reason to question John Eisenberg’s integrity or that he is an exceptional attorney. I guess I buy into narrative that this was a White House in disarray, because the alternative is too painful to contemplate.”

This is f%$#ed up and sh%$.

When you have tapes showing that your f%$#ing National Security Advisor f%$#ing lied to the f%$#ing FBI, and then this guy f%$# lies to you, and you f%$#ing do nothing until the f%$#ing Washington f%$#ing Post publishes a story about it?

This takes dysfunctional to a whole new level.

This is the Sort of Thing that Takes Down Authoritarian Regimes

Vladimir Putin is experiencing significant political blow-back for cuts to pensions and an increase in the retirement age.

It’s part of the standard neoliberal playbook, and it is the sort of thing, rather than foreign adventurism or crack-downs on political rivals, that frequently result in major political shakeups:

Pension reform is genocide!” “You deprive us of our pension – we deprive you of your authority!” “We don’t want to die working!”

These were only some of the slogans shouted by Russian protesters during mass rallies last weekend, held in response to a new reform that will rise the retirement age in Russia. From Moscow to St Petersburg to Siberia to the country’s Far East, the rallies were a nationwide phenomenon across the world’s biggest country.

For Vladimir Putin, the situation represents a rare mis-step. The tough-guy president has, for years, presented himself as a national defender, fully in synch with the concerns of the Russian street.

The media were not beating about the bush. Moscow newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets defined the protests as the “most dangerous and risky reform of President Putin’s 20-year rule.”

More than three million Russian citizens have already signed an online petition against the pension reform which, starting from 2019, is due to gradually increase the retirement age from 60 to 65 for men and from 55 to 63 for women.


However, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has stated clearly that reform is necessary to save Russia’s pension system, which relies on state budget subsidies to stay afloat. Despite brave talk of sanctions resistance, a rising Russian economy, apparently successful overseas military adventures and the warm afterglow of the World Cup, low oil prices and Western sanctions continue to erode Moscow’s finances.


Regardless of whether it is essential or not, the reform is colossally unpopular – about 90% of Russians oppose it. Naturally, it is having a deep impact on the approval rating of the United Russia party.


As a result, Putin’s popularity rate has been already affected by the reform, falling sharply from 80% in May to 64% in late July, according to the VTsIOM state pollster. This is problematic for Putin, considering that a great deal of Russian trust in him depends on his reputation as “protector of the Russian people” against foreign threats and as guarantor of national stability, particularly after the chaos of the Yeltsin years.

I expect to see some sort of partial walk back from Putin, as well as long term political consequences.

The number of authoritarian governments that have been brought down by implementing these sorts of neoliberal remedies, frequently at the hands of the IMF, is legion.

Parody is Dead.

Not the Onion

Reality has so far outstripped parody that the latter has become irrelevant.

Case in point, following an EPA proposal to re-legalize asbestos, a Russian asbestos manufacturer has put Donald Trump’s on their packaging:

On 25 June 2018, a Russian mining company named Uralasbest, which is one of the world’s largest producers of asbestos, posted a message of support for President Trump on their official Facebook and VK (a Russian version of Facebook) pages. The post included photographs of packed asbestos material adorned with the face of Trump and the text “Approved by Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States.”

Asbestos is a mineral that was once widely used in construction projects for its fire resistant properties, but research has since linked it to a variety of cancers, most notably lung cancer and mesothelioma.


In June, when Uralasbest posted their message of support, then-Administrator of the EPA Scott Pruitt had recently announced new interpretations of the Toxic Substances Control Act that could allow for “new uses” of asbestos to be approved in the United States. While this move would not allow for previously banned uses to be considered, it was a reversal of Obama-era rules that barred the EPA from considering any new uses for asbestos.

While I’ve always thought that the Donald Trump was toxic, I had no idea that they were taking this concept so literally.

Something is Profoundly Odd Here

On Business Insider, I came across a story about Silicon Valley venture capitalist Masha Drokova.

There were a number of things that did not seem right, she is a 28 year old woman who wants founders of her unicorns to have a rewarding life and romance.

First, she is 28, second, she is a woman, third, she did not go to Stanford, and fourth, she wants her founders to find stable romantic relationships:

“Everyone is more productive when they fall in love,” says Masha Drokova.

Drokova is the founder of Day One Ventures, a San Francisco-based firm focused on early-stage investments. The 28-year-old runs her firm differently than that of the average Silicon Valley venture capitalist: She considers investing in companies to be a deeply holistic undertaking, often forming close, personal relationships with her portfolio companies’ founders.

“If I don’t have a human connection with someone, I won’t do business with them,” says Drokova. “For me, it’s never just about the money. I’m going to know most of my founders for the next five or 10 years. If you don’t have a personal connection with a person, it’s likely that your business relationship will fall apart.”

Often, Drokova’s close-knit business relationships evolve beyond a purely professional context. “I’m friends with the founders of my portfolio companies,” she says. “I enjoy spending time with them and learning about them.”


“It’s often very simple things that help,” says Drokova. “Meditating, eating healthy food, taking care of their physical health.”

For some stressed-out founders, Drokova recommends mediation classes, podcasts, and self-developmental courses like Vipassana and sexual energy retreats.


“My founders are much more grounded when they’re in relationships,” says Drokova. “They take on this new energy. They’re more focused.”

To aid her founders along in the pursuit of romance, Drokova has played the part of matchmaker to a number of her portfolio company entrepreneurs.

“It’s not necessarily matchmaking,” says Drokova. “I just introduce them to my friends.”

My sense, confirmed by a friend in the tech biz is that this is highly unusual. He rather pityily noted that this was, “Horsesh%$,” and that, “The one thing SV venture firms don’t want is founders having a life.”

The hedge fund is rather small, around $30 million, but even at that level, I cannot see it having any meaningful support from the Silicon Valley crowd, who are not what one would call pro-social.

Perhaps Russian exiles, Drokova has had a falling out with Putin (at only 28, precocious!), and there is a lot of Russian emigre money out there, so that could be the source.

It does not seem to me to be smart money, but then again, neither were the titans of industry who invested in Theranos, and separating investors people from their money is a viable business plan.  Ask Goldman Sachs, who have been doing just that for 148 years.

Missing the Bigger Picture

The Baddies Do Love Their iPhones

For all the allegations of treason swirling around Donald Trump, people are something right in front of their face, that Trump, and the Trump companies, have been laundering money from the Russian mob for at least a decade.

It’s why they are now paying cash for projects.

Case in point, a Russian Pimp running a prostitution ring from a Trump property:

At first blush, it just looks like the bust of another Russian human trafficking operation, run by a husband-and-wife team with two kids and a pricey Miami condo.

And then you look a little closer and it’s a Manhattan Russian criminal enterprise run remotely from Trump Tower III in Miami.

The husband and wife team, Yevgen Rizanov and Ksenia Khodukina, both 29, flew women from Russia to New York as part of a “sophisticated long-term operation promoting prostitution,” according to New York Assistant District Attorney James Lynch.


I’m sure the link to Trump properties is just a coincidence, too, though. Right? It’s not like a lot of Russian criminal enterprises run out of Trump properties, right?

Wrong. FT reports:

An alleged Kazakh money-laundering network channelled millions through apartment sales at the Trump SoHo; a Russian oligarch bought a Palm Beach estate from Trump in 2008 for $95m, more than double what Trump had paid for it four years earlier; in Florida, 63 Russians, some with political connections, spent $100m buying property at seven Trump-branded luxury towers, Reuters established. The money was not exclusively from the former Soviet Union: at the Trump Panama, some of it allegedly belonged to Latin American drug traffickers.

 Seriously, how did the august representatives of 4th estate miss this?

This man has been mobbed up as f%$# for decades.

About That “Gerasimov Doctrine”

The academic who created the idea of the “Gerasimov Doctrine”, which was alleged a Russian blueprint for social warfare through chaos, has has completely disavowed his analysis.

It turns out Mark Galeotti, who created the concept on his a blog as a sort of throw away on his blog,* realized on further analysis that General Valery Vasilyevich Gerasimov was not writing about Russian strategies.

The general was writing about what he saw as a deliberate US strategy which had been promulgated through various color revolutions and the Arab spring, and was discussing how to combat this:

Everywhere, you’ll find scholars, pundits, and policymakers talking about the threat the “Gerasimov doctrine” — named after Russia’s chief of the general staff — poses to the West. It’s a new way of war, “an expanded theory of modern warfare,” or even “a vision of total warfare.”

There’s one small problem. It doesn’t exist. And the longer we pretend it does, the longer we misunderstand the — real, but different — challenge Russia poses.

I feel I can say that because, to my immense chagrin, I created this term, which has since acquired a destructive life of its own, lumbering clumsily into the world to spread fear and loathing in its wake. Back in February 2013, the Russian newspaper Military-Industrial Courier — as exciting and widely read as it sounds — reprinted a speech by Gen. Valery Gerasimov. It talks of how in the modern world, the use of propaganda and subversion means that “a perfectly thriving state can, in a matter of months and even days, be transformed into an arena of fierce armed conflict, become a victim of foreign intervention, and sink into a web of chaos, humanitarian catastrophe, and civil war.”


A blog is as much as anything else a vanity site; obviously I want people to read it. So for a snappy title, I coined the term “Gerasimov doctrine,” though even then I noted in the text that this term was nothing more than “a placeholder,” and “it certainly isn’t a doctrine.” I didn’t think people would genuinely believe either that he came up with it (Gerasimov is a tough and effective chief of the general staff, but no theoretician), less yet than it was a “programmatic” blueprint for war on the West.


The problems with this formulation are numerous, though. Gerasimov was actually talking about how the Kremlin understands what happened in the “Arab Spring” uprisings, the “color revolutions” against pro-Moscow regimes in Russia’s neighborhood, and in due course Ukraine’s “Maidan” revolt. The Russians honestly — however wrongly — believe that these were not genuine protests against brutal and corrupt governments, but regime changes orchestrated in Washington, or rather, Langley. This wasn’t a “doctrine” as the Russians understand it, for future adventures abroad: Gerasimov was trying to work out how to fight, not promote, such uprisings at home.

So basically, we are accusing the Russians of doing what the Russians are accusing us of doing.

*Note to self, people actually read this stuff. Plan accordingly.

Yeah, This is Working So Well

In response to new sanctions against new sanctions against Iran, Russia is planning to invest fifty billion dollars in the Iranian energy industry:

Iran has touted $50bn worth of potential Russian investments in its oil and gas sector as it seeks to deepen its relationship with Moscow, amid mounting pressure from the US to curb the country’s energy exports and diplomatically isolate Tehran.


“Russia is ready to invest $50bn in Iran’s oil and gas sectors,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, said during a visit to Moscow that included a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. “Military and technical co-operation with Russia is of major importance to Iran.”


Mr Velayati, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top diplomat, also used a media interview during his visit to say that a Russian oil company had already signed a $4bn deal with Iran that “will be implemented soon”, without providing details. He added: “Two other major Russian oil companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, have started talks with Iran’s oil ministry to sign contracts worth up to $10bn.”


The suggestion of deeper co-operation between the two countries’ energy industries comes eight months after Russian companies signed preliminary agreements to invest up to $30bn in Iran’s oil industry, as part of a visit by Mr Putin to Tehran.


But Mr Trump’s decision to rip up that accord and threaten to sanction companies that trade in Iranian oil has led Tehran to work with Moscow. Hardline Iranian politicians have urged Mr Rouhani’s government to expand co-operation with Russia and China to replace European companies unwilling to risk the wrath of Washington.

This is a foreseeable result of bad policy. 

Sanctions after sanctions, particularly without the support of allies, is like pushing on a string.

Another Novichuk Attack near Porton Down

It appears that this time, a random British couple was exposed, and a woman has died:

A woman who was exposed to the nerve agent novichok in Amesbury, Wiltshire, has died in hospital.

The Metropolitan police have launched a murder investigation after Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Durrington, died on Sunday after handling an item contaminated with the nerve agent on 30 June.

Her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, who was also taken ill after being exposed to the nerve agent, remains in a critical condition in hospital.

The investigation into the poisonings is being led by detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network, and about 100 detectives are working alongside officers from Wiltshire police.

Investigators are still trying to determine how the couple were exposed to the nerve agent after emergency services were called to a residential address in Amesbury eight days ago after Sturgess collapsed.


Counter-terrorism officers are still investigating the attempted murders of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, who were poisoned in March.


Prior to the news of the death, home secretary Sajid Javid had said there were no plans to impose fresh sanctions on Russia following the latest nerve agent poisoning.

During a visit to Salisbury on Sunday to meet residents caught up in the nerve agent poisoning, he said: “We don’t want to jump to conclusions. Clearly, what we have already determined, what our expert scientists have determined, is that the nerve agent in this incident is the exact same nerve agent as was used back in March.

“We know back in March that it was the Russians. We know it was a barbaric, inhuman act by the Russian state. Again, for this particular incident, we need to learn more and let the police do their work.”

You don’t want people to, “Jump to conclusions,” because the obvious conclusion is that thea, “Barbaric, inhuman act by the Russian state,” is anything but that.

Now, it’s beginning to sound like someone more like the 2001 anthrax attacks, which were likely the action of someone from inside the US bioweapons establishment.

If Javid has not locked down the Porton Down chemical weapons facility, he is dangerously incompetent.

All Your Base Are Belong to Us!

Who could have known that the police union, the PBA, and its “Blue Lives Matter” campaign were Putin’s stooges?

Of course, this is sarcasm. The Police Benevolent Association does not support the efforts of a Russian authoritarian with no respect for human rights, it supports the efforts of a number of American authoritarians with no respect for human rights:

The most-viewed Facebook message secretly created by a St. Petersburg-based Russian troll farm was one that allegedly backed American cops.

“Back The Badge” appeared to be an authentically American community on Facebook rallying support for police officers. In fact it was Russian, a creation of the Internet Research Agency, an online propaganda mill that special counsel Robert Mueller indicted in February on conspiracy charges.

The ad itself was nondescript, a simple portal to Back The Badge’s Facebook page. It showed the group’s logo, an officer’s shield, over a background image of a cop car’s flashing blue and red lights. “Community of people who support our brave police officers,” the ad read.

That ad, released on Thursday by Democrats on the House intelligence committee, ran on Oct. 19, 2016, less than a month before the election. According to material turned over to the committee by Facebook, it appears to be the most influential single ad the troll farm is ever know to have concocted.

There is no way to decisively determine the impact of any particular advertisement or other piece of propaganda. But more people saw the Back The Badge ad than any other inauthentic account, page, or advertisement that the Internet Research Agency concocted. Facebook’s data tools, in the hands of the Internet Research Agency, ensured that it appeared in the Facebook feeds of over 1.3 million users, a fact first noted by NBC. Over 73,000 people clicked on it.

This this has always seemed more like trolling for clicks and revenue than it does a sophisticated covert intelligence operation.

A Donation Request from Twitter

The Democrats are suing @WikiLeaks and @JulianAssange for revealing how the DNC rigged the Democratic primaries. Help us counter-sue. We’ve never lost a publishing case and discovery is going to be amazing fun:https://t.co/E1QbYJL4bB

More options:https://t.co/MsNZhrTzTL pic.twitter.com/VbPp7FTNq3

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 20, 2018

I am well aware that the DNC sued CREEP in the 1970s and got a settlement, but Wikileaks did not hack the DNC, the GRU did.

Wikileaks plays the role of the Washington Post, though they lack the charm of Woodward and Bernstein, in this drama.