BFF-46 From Crimea to cyber war, Moscow’s alleged covert acts

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BFF-46

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From Crimea to cyber war, Moscow’s alleged covert acts

MOSCOW, Oct 5, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Allegations by Western governments this
week that Moscow’s intelligence agencies orchestrated a high-profile hacking
campaign are the latest in a long list of grievances over Moscow’s hybrid
warfare tactics abroad.

From the appearance of mysterious “green men” on Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula
in February 2014, which preceded its annexation by Russia, to Thursday’s
indictments of alleged agents in the United States, Russia’s military has
been accused of covert actions worldwide to further Moscow’s geopolitical
interests.

Britain this week slammed Russia as a “pariah state” but Moscow has denied
all the current allegations as an anti-Russian campaign based on
circumstantial evidence and a case of misdirected blame.

– ‘Green men’ in Crimea –

Called “green men” by their critics or “polite people” by admirers,
mysterious soldiers without official insignia but armed to the teeth appeared
in Crimea in late February 2014, and were instrumental in taking physical
control of political institutions, military bases and transportation hubs.

The Kremlin at first said the takeover was being orchestrated by local
militias, while President Vladimir Putin even suggested that advanced
military gear could be purchased in army surplus stores. But after annexation
was formalised, Moscow admitted that the incognito armed men were Russian
special forces.

– State doping scheme –

In late 2015, the ex-head of Moscow’s anti-doping lab Grigory Rodchenkov
fled to the West while an independent commission led by Richard McLaren
established a state-backed scheme which swapped urine samples of Russian
athletes to hide evidence of doping.

McLaren’s report, which included evidence gathered from Rodchenkov and
other witnesses, said the scheme involved Russia’s Federal Security Service
(FSB) and the sports ministry.

One of the tricks used to fool anti-doping authorities at the Sochi Winter
Olympic Games in 2014 was to swap samples of Russian athletes via a discreet
hole in the wall of the laboratory.

Rodchenkov is currently in witness protection, while two former officials
of the Russian anti-doping agency, Vyacheslav Sinev and Nikita Kamayev, died
within two weeks of each other in February 2016.

Moscow has denied the existence of a state-backed scheme, with Putin
calling Rodchenkov an untrustworthy “idiot” who had “problems with the law.”

– US vote meddling –

After Donald Trump was elected to the White House in November 2016, the US
intelligence community alleged that Moscow influenced the outcome of the
vote, resulting in a snowballing probe, sanctions and expulsion of diplomats.

US intelligence agencies accused Moscow of being behind hacking entities
Fancy Bear and Cozy Bear which carried out cyberattacks on the Democratic
Party.

Emails of Hillary Clinton’s campaign staff were published online.

Microsoft has also said that Fancy Bear set up fake pages mimicking a
conservative US think tank and the US Senate, in order to siphon off emails
and passwords of users taking them for the real thing.

Moscow has denied intervening in the vote, saying all allegations reflect
an internal struggle meant to undermine the Trump presidency.

– Skripal hit –

Britain has accused the Russian government of ordering its military
intelligence operatives to murder former double agent Sergei Skripal, who was
found collapsed on a bench in the city of Salisbury with his daughter in
March.

The two men Britain suspects of poisoning the Skripals with Soviet-produced
nerve gas Novichok, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, went on Russian
television claiming they were sports nutrition salesmen who visited Salisbury
as tourists.

But media reports linked one of the men’s faces to the real identity of
Anatoly Chepiga, a highly-decorated officer with Russian military
intelligence.

Putin has denied any connection to the poisoning of Skripal and his
daughter, calling on Britain to share information on the investigation
through official channels.

– Hacking conspiracy –

The US this week indicted seven GRU agents as part of a crackdown on
hacking plots which include the Democratic party, but extend to football’s
governing body FIFA, the US nuclear energy company Westinghouse and the
global chemical weapons watchdog OPCW.

Dutch security services said they had expelled four Russian agents in April
after they attempted a cyber attack on the OPCW as it probed the Skripal
poisoning and an alleged chemical attack on the Syrian town of Douma by the
regime of Bashar al-Assad, a Moscow ally.

Moscow has called these allegations “spy mania.”

BSS/AFP/RY/1910 hrs