Tag: Intelligence

Russian intelligence-gathering ship Ivan Khurs ready to welcome crew for sea trials

Russian intelligence-gathering ship Ivan Khurs, ready to welcome crew for sea trials. Photo: Severnaya Verf Shipyard.

Representatives of the Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet naval base in Leningrad inspected the recently-launched intelligence-gathering ship Ivan Khurs deeming it ready to welcome its first crew members.

According to Severnaya Verf Shipyard which built the vessel, the Project 18280 ship is set to be crewed in the coming days.

The official inspection checked the overall state of readiness of the vessel, including berthing, medical provisions and the galley which was tested during the inspection.

Project 18280 manager Anatoly Denisov said the vessel is being prepared to start sea trials in October with delivery to the Russian Navy expected to take place before the end of the year. Ivan Khurs will be starting sea trials one month later than initially expected.

Launched in May this year, Ivan Khurs is the second of overall four planned vessels in the Yury Ivanov-class.

Named after Russian Vice-Admiral Ivan Khurs, the vessel is 95 meters long and displaces 4000 tons. It has a cruising range of 8000 nautical miles and is crewed by 131 sailors.

Project 18280 ships are used for signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic warfare in addition to fleet management roles. Leadship Yury Ivanov was launched in September 2013 and entered service with the Northern Fleet in July 2015.



Russia calls on US to return immediately seized diplomatic property

MOSCOW, September 3. /TASS/. Russia calls on the U.S. authorities to return immediately the diplomatic property (buildings of the Consulate General in San Francisco, trade representations in Washington and New York), or Washington would bear the entire responsibility for further degradation of the relations, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

“On September 2, the U.S. authorities seized buildings of the Russian Consulate General in San Francisco and the Trade Representation in Washington, which are the Russian property enjoying the diplomatic immunity,” the document reads. “To Russian representatives have been closed access also into the building of the Trade Representation’s branch in New York.”

“We are calling on the American authorities to think better of it and to return immediately the Russian diplomatic facilities. Otherwise, the U.S will bear the entire responsibility for the continuing degradation of the relations between the countries, on which depend a lot the global stability and international security,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“We consider this situation as a clearly hostile act, as Washington’ grave violation of the international law, including the Vienna Convention on Diplomacy and Consular Relations, the bilateral Consular Convention,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The outrageous step of the American authorities “is in line with the actual expropriation in December last year of the Russian-owned diplomatic residential facilities near Washington and New York,” the ministry said. “In the seized buildings now are the U.S. intelligence services, supported by the armed police.”.



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Baltic Post.



Photos ‘prove’ Russia behind Montenegro assassination plot

Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic was the target of the assassination attempt

Sky News has obtained covert surveillance photographs that appear to be further proof Russian intelligence was behind last year’s attempt to assassinate a European Prime Minister.

The images were taken as part of an undercover operation in the days following the unsuccessful coup in Montenegro.

The photos, taken in neighbouring Serbia by an unnamed European security service, show two Russians accused of plotting the coup – Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov. Both men are said to be members of the GRU, Russian military intelligence.

Shishmakov is pictured meeting with Alexsandar Sindjelic

In one, Shishmakov is pictured meeting with a Serb, Alexsandar Sindjelic. Sindjelic was subsequently arrested and he has reportedly confessed his involvement in the attempted coup and admitted working as an agent for the two Russians.

In another photo, Shishmakov and Popov are photographed together on a bench believed to be in a park in central Belgrade.

Eduard Shishmakov and Vladimir Popov, both said to be members of Russian military intelligence

The photos were taken around the time of the attempted coup.

The coup was planned for the evening of 16 October last year – the day of parliamentary elections.

The plan was to infiltrate a pro-Russian rally outside the Parliament building in the Montenegrin capital, Podgorica.

Plotters, dressed as policemen, would break into Parliament and turn their fire on the protesters, thus making it look like the Montenegrin state security had shot its own people.

Separately, the pro-European Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic would be assassinated in the hope of a pro-Russian politician seizing power.

The plot was foiled with hours to spare.

Security sources claim these photographs are further evidence that the Russian state was directly linked with the attempted coup and show blatant aggression in a European country.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the connection as “absurd”

Moscow has always denied any involvement – the foreign minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the connection as “absurd”.

Politically, Russia has long been opposed to Montenegro’s ambitions to join NATO and the country was formally admitted into the military alliance in recent months. The Balkan country sits in Moscow’s sphere of interest and large numbers of Russian tourists visit each summer.

Montenegro is politically split. Much of the population is in favour of closer ties with Europe but a sizeable and significant proportion would rather stay close to Moscow.

The coup attempt went largely unnoticed at the time – partly because of the US presidential elections – but has attracted increased interest across Europe as further details have come to light.

An old passport in the name of Eduard Shishmakov, later named as Eduard Shirokov

Earlier this year, Sky News published images of a passport belonging to Eduard Shishmakov.

He is described as an assistant military attache to the Russian Embassy in Warsaw. Security sources say this is a commonly used alias for GRU officers.

Eduard Shirokov is alleged to be an alias of one of the plotters

Additionally, Polish intelligence provided a statement saying they expelled Shishmakov from Poland for espionage activities and declared him persona non grata.

The two Russians are believed to be back in Russia. They are therefore being tried ‘in absentia’ alongside 13 other defendants, including two Montenegrin opposition MPs and 10 Serbians. They have been charged with a range of offences.

Russian Vladimir Popov has also been named as one of the plotters

Earlier this year, Montenegrin chief special prosecutor Milivoje Katnic told state television that they “now have evidence that nationalist structures from Russia are behind the coup attempt, but also that certain state bodies of Russia are involved, on a certain level”.

The trial will be the largest in Montenegrin history and highly political. It is also believed to be the first time serving GRU officers have been charged with terrorism offences and criminal activity in a European country.

It briefly opened last month but was adjourned to give the defence more time. It is expected to resume next Monday.

The Montenegrin prosecutor is expected to produce evidence showing the Russians’ phones were adapted with software to allow covert messaging. He will also allege financial transactions linking the Russians with Sindjelic.

By Alistair Bunkall, Defence Correspondent


Stratcom Commander Describes Challenges of 21st-Century Deterrence

Strategic deterrence starts with nuclear capabilities because nuclear war always has been an existential threat to the nation, but deterrence in the 21st century presents new challenges and requires the integration of all capabilities, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said during a recent interview with DoD News at his command’s Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, headquarters.  

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said his three priorities for Stratcom are simple: one, above all else provide a strategic deterrent; two, if deterrence fails provide a decisive response; and three, respond with a combat-ready force.

But unlike in past decades, the 21st century presents more than one adversary and more than one domain, he said.

“It’s now a multipolar problem with many nations that have nuclear weapons, … and it’s also multidomain. … We have adversaries that are looking at integrating nuclear, conventional, space and cyber, all as part of a strategic deterrent. We have to think about strategic deterrence in the same way,” Hyten said.

The vision for Stratcom, he added, is to integrate all capabilities — nuclear, space, cyberspace, missile defense, global strike, electronic warfare, intelligence, targeting, analysis — so they can be brought to bear in a single decisive response if the nation is threatened.

“We can’t [assume] that having 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons under the New START Treaty somehow deters all our adversaries. It doesn’t,” the general said. “We have to think about all the domains, all the adversaries, all the capabilities, and focus our attention across the board on all of those.”


Modernization is critical to the future of the U.S. deterrent capability, Hyten said, because all elements of the nuclear triad — bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines — will reach a point within about 15 years at which they’re no longer viable.

“They are viable today. They are safe, secure, reliable, ready, [and] they can do all the missions they need to do today,” he said. “But in the not-too-distant future, that won’t be the case. Sadly, we’ve delayed the modernization of those programs really too long. And now if you lay all the modernization programs out on a single table and you look at when they all deliver, they all deliver just in time.”

The next intercontinental ballistic missile delivers just in time to replace the Minuteman, and the Columbia nuclear submarine delivers just in time to replace the Ohio-class sub, he added.

“Any one-year delay in Columbia means the future Stratcom commander is going to be down one submarine. And any future delay in the ICBM means we’re going to be down a certain number of ICBMs,” Hyten said.

It’s the same with the nation’s B-52 and B-2 bombers, the general said. The B-52 is an old but amazing weapon delivery platform that will have no penetration capability because of evolving penetration profiles. The B-2 is aging out and must be replaced by the B-21. The B-21 will come along just in time to provide the bomber capabilities the nation needs, he added.

“I don’t want a future Stratcom commander to ever face a day where we don’t have a safe, secure, ready and reliable nuclear deterrent,” he said. “It has to be there.”

Extended Deterrence

Extended deterrence is another critical job for Stratcom, Hyten said, noting that assurance is one of the most important things the command does for U.S. allies.

“When you look at our allies like the Republic of Korea or Japan, we have capabilities here that provide an extended deterrent for those two allies and a number of other allies around the world,” he said. “It’s important that the United States always assure them that we will be there with the capabilities that we have if they’re ever attacked with nuclear capabilities. That’s what extended deterrence means.”

Assurance can come through demonstrations, partnerships and exercises, he noted.

“There is a challenge right now with North Korea, and it’s very important for the Republic of Korea and for Japan to know that we will be there. And we will be,” he said.

The Pentagon considers North Korean mobile ballistic missiles a top threat

Stratcom’s Strength

Stratcom’s strength lies with the 184,000 people who show up and do Stratcom business every day, Hyten said.

“The best part of being a commander is actually seeing the young men and women who do this mission every day,” the general said. “The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sign up to do some of the most difficult jobs that our country has, and man, they do it, they love it and they’re good at it.”

Hyten said he can’t emphasize the importance of Stratcom’s people enough. “Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes when you see the quality of the people who come, who raise their hand and want to come and serve our country,” he added.

The general said he loves the fact that Stratcom’s people raise their hands and swear an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, an ideal written down on a piece of paper more than 200 years ago. That ideal still is what drives men and women of the nation to want to serve, he added.

“The people of this command take that very seriously,” Hyten said, “and they are just remarkable in what they do.”


Russia reveals Il-22PP special mission aircraft

The Ilyushin Il-22PP Porubshchik special mission aircraft was revealed in public for the first time on 12 August. It was photographed over Kubina on the occasion of the 105th anniversary of the Russian Air Force. Source: Piotr Butowski

Russia has shown for the first time its new Ilyushin Il-22PP Porubshchik special mission aircraft. The ‘escort jammer’ aircraft made its public debut on the occasion of the 105th anniversary of the Russian air force over Kubinka on 12 August.

The Il-22P is a signals intelligence (SIGINT) and stand-off-jamming platform that has been built around a converted Il-22 ‘Coot-B’ airframe, which is itself a theatre-level airborne command post and radio relay aircraft based on the Ilyushin Il-18D turboprop airliner.

While the Il-22PP retains the airframe and power plant of the Il-22, it has four large fairings located symmetrically on both sides of the fuselage. These contain antennas of the L-415 electronic countermeasures (ECM) system made by the KNIRTI institute of Kaluga.

Another antenna is fitted to the tail, while a further antenna is located under the fuselage. A fixed pod beneath the fuselage contains 16 32-round 26 mm UV-26M chaff/flare launchers for self defence; two more 14-round 50 mm (2-inch) launchers are built into the under-fuselage. The aircraft has a livery resembling that of the civilian Aeroflot airline, although it carried the inscription ‘Russia Air Force’ and the red star marking. It also has the inscription ‘Il-18’ on the nose.

According to the Myasishchev design bureau, which is responsible for the conversion, “the airplane is intended for detection and suppression of state-of-the-art secretive and jam-proof systems of combat control of various functions”. These are “radars, guidance channels of surface-to-air missile systems, mid-course flight path correction channels of cruise missiles, as well as tactical data exchange networks such as Link 16.


U.S. general: North Korea ICBM threat advancing faster than expected

U.S. Army General Mark Milley testifies at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination to become the Army’s chief of staff, on Capitol Hill in Washington July 21, 2015.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. General Mark Milley, the chief of staff of the Army, said on Thursday that North Korea’s July 4 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile showed its capabilities were advancing significantly and faster than many had expected.

Milley, in remarks to the National Press Club in Washington, said there was still time for a non-military solution to the crisis caused by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, but cautioned that “time is running out.”

“North Korea is extremely dangerous and more dangerous as the weeks go by,” he said.

U.S. media reported this week that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Pentagon spy agency, had assessed that North Korea would be able to field a nuclear-capable ICBM by next year, earlier than previously thought.

However, two U.S. officials said some other analysts who study North Korea’s missile program did not agree with the assessment, although there was no question that Pyongyang had moved further and faster in its efforts.

U.S. officials said on Tuesday they had seen increased North Korean activity that could be preparations for another missile test within days.

After its July 4 test, North Korea said it had mastered the technology needed to deploy a nuclear warhead via the missile. It also said the test verified the atmospheric re-entry of the warhead, which experts say may be able to reach the U.S. state of Alaska.

North Korea has made no secret of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the United States and has ignored international calls to halt its weapons programs.

The vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Paul Selva, said last week that North Korea did not have the ability to strike the United States with “any degree of accuracy” and that while its missiles had the range, they lacked the necessary guidance capability.

Reporting by Phil Stewart, Idrees Ali and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Grant McCool.

Source: Reuters.

North Korea is preparing to launch another missile

Credit: The Telegraph

US intelligence believes North Korea may be setting up for another missile test, possibly as soon as tomorrow.

A US defense official told AFP the latest test could happen as soon as tomorrow, the Victory Day public holiday in North Korea, but other sources say it is likely “within the next two weeks”.

South Korean news agency Yonhap reported Seoul “had seen North Korea moving transporter erector launchers carrying ICBM launch tubes in North Pyongan province”.

CNN reports US satellites detected new imagery and radar emissions which indicate testing of components and missile control facilities.

Yonhap also reported an 1,800-ton North Korean submarine was spotted in the Sea of Japan which “may be collecting data” to prepare for a test-launch from the North’s largest submarine.

The test will likely be for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or intermediate range missile test. North Korea successfully launched an ICBM on July 4 which had the range to hit Alaska or northern Australia.

Two weeks later, North Korea celebrated the test with a giant concert featuring pyrotechnics, an orchestra, and a simulation video of its missile destroying the entire US mainland.

North Korea has already tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile near the Sinpo South Shipyard, early in July 2017.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un reportedly claimed it was a gift to the “American bastards”.

While Moscow denied the launch was of an ICBM, China has spent the past three weeks negotiating with the US over possible sanctions it might impose on the Hermit Kingdom.

It has recently significantly ramped up the defence brigade along its 1400km border with North Korea, implementing 24-hour video surveillance and building bunkers to protect from possible nuclear or chemical attacks.

Source: Business Insider Australia.


Pace of Change Complicates Signals Intelligence World, NSA Chief Says

The National Security Agency has never seen the field of signals intelligence change as rapidly as it is right now, said agency director Navy Adm. Mike Rogers at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado today.  

Washington Post columnist and best-selling author David Ignatius interviewed Rogers and Robert Hannigan, the former director of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, on the state of signals intelligence.

Rogers has worked in signals intelligence his entire 31 years in the Navy. He said technology is driving the rate of change in the field and enemies are embracing the advantages it provides. “I have never seen target sets change their communications profiles, to constantly upgrade their technology — whether it be a nation state or a group like [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] or al-Qaida,” he said. “The rate of change in our profession and the need for us to stay ahead of that keeps growing in complexity and speed.”

The measure of effectiveness for signals intelligence agencies is the ability to generate value, the admiral said. “If we focus on generating value for the citizens of the nation we defend [and] doing it within a legal and policy framework, that generates confidence in the citizens we support,” Rogers said.

Hannigan agreed, saying the history of signals intelligence is the history of reinvention as technological changes are rapidly fielded. “The pace of change we’ve seen in the past five or 10 years is out of proportion to anything we’ve seen before,” he said. “And it’s going to get faster.”

Mission, Means

Rogers stressed that the nation needs to have a conversation about the mission and means in the era of terrorism. Just in the last five years, there have been terrorist attacks around the globe — in Boston, San Bernardino, Paris, London, Brussels, Copenhagen, Kabul and Baghdad, to name a few. “Social media has been a key component of these events,” the admiral said. “You never like the fact that it takes a trauma and the loss of life to drive people to looking at the problem set differently.”

ISIS wants to break America’s will, he said. “They believe we are inherently weak, that we can’t stand the pressure,” Rogers said. “[ISIS] believes if they contest our ability to lead normal lives … they will break our will.”

Defeating this goal has spurred a dialogue between the intelligence community and major information companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Yahoo. But this is a conversation that needs to grow, not just in the United States, but also in like-minded countries, he said.

“Our challenge as a nation is we are now in a position in the digital age where technology has outstripped our legal framework,” the admiral said. “Traditionally, within our legal construct there has been mechanism for the government to access communications with an appropriate court order.”

The digital age has placed many of those communications outside the realm of existing laws. “We, collectively, as citizens, need to sit down and figure out what are we comfortable with here,” Rogers said. “What’s the level of risk and access that we want the government to have? Under what circumstances and who should control it. Are there specific criteria we should emplace so this isn’t something done capriciously,” he said.

“I’ll be the first to admit that you don’t want an intelligence professional like me making that decision,” the admiral said. “That is not in our nation’s best interest.”

Rogers said any discussion should be guided by two questions: “What can government do?” and “What should government do?” The first is a technical question about what is possible, he said. But the more important question stems from that technical question, the admiral said, because what can be done is not the same as what should be done.

Source: United States Department of Defense

USS Ronald Reagan set to dock in Brisbane

A flagship American aircraft carrier is set to dock in Brisbane on Sunday and give its crew of thousands a chance to explore the Queensland capital.

The USS Ronald Reagan – which is 333m long and houses more than 3000 sailors – is expected to dock at the Port of Brisbane about 10:30am.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, commissioned in 2003, is visiting the river city as part of this year’s Talisman Sabre war games.

This year’s event also appeared to draw the interest of Chinese military forces, after a spy ship was spotted “in the vicinity” of the activities.

“The Chinese vessel has remained outside Australian territorial waters but inside the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone in the Coral Sea,” a defence department statement said on Saturday.

“The vessel’s presence has not detracted from the exercise objectives.”

This year’s event, which is the seventh of its kind, is scheduled to run until late July, with the majority of the training exercises to take place in near Rockhampton.

Source: 9 News.


Chinese Navy spy ship rattles Talisman Sabre war games off Queensland coast

A high-tech Chinese spy ship has been spotted off the Queensland coast monitoring joint military exercises between Australia and the United States, in what Defence officials have described as an “unfriendly” and “provocative” act.

The ABC can reveal the Auxiliary General Intelligence (AGI) vessel from the People’s Liberation Army was sighted by the Defence Force in international waters during this month’s Talisman Sabre war games.

The Type 851 Dongdiao-class AGI vessel is fitted with advanced communications systems designed to eavesdrop on other militaries.

“The Chinese vessel has remained outside Australian territorial waters but inside the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone in the Coral Sea,” the department said.

“Exercise Talisman Sabre is currently taking place in the vicinity. The vessel’s presence has not detracted from the exercise objectives,” it added.
Euan Graham from the Lowy Institute said the deployment of the vessel was an alarming development.

Type 851 DongDiao-class Surveillance Vesel PLAN. AGM AGI.

“I’m personally not aware of any publicised appearance of an AGI off the Australian coast before,” he said.

“Coinciding with the joint exercise with the United States — clearly that sends quite an unfriendly message.”

Senior Australian military figures also told the ABC China’s actions were provocative and sent an unfriendly message.

“At the moment what we see is a double standard where China picks the areas of the Law of the Sea that it likes and refuses to implement those that it doesn’t,” Dr Graham argued.

“I think it can only expect that to come back as a message in force from Australia and other countries.”

The Defence Department said Australia respects the rights of all states to exercise freedom of navigation in international waters in accordance with international law.

Just days ago the Defence Force hosted a senior Chinese PLA General in Australia on a so-called “goodwill” visit.

During the trip, General Wei Liang “exchanged views on regional security issues” including the territorial dispute in the South China Sea.

Source: The New Daily.

Five Eyes alliance stress ‘more timely and detailed’ information sharing to detect terrorists

The Star, By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press, 30 June 2017

Public security ministers and attorneys general from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand gathered in Ottawa for two days of closed-door talks that wrapped up Tuesday.

Security and justice officials from the Five Eyes countries plan to explore “more timely and detailed” information sharing to detect terrorists and extremist fighters.

Daesh and its affiliates will continue to attack soft targets in public spaces — underscoring a need for better data exchanges to address the threat, the partners said in a joint communique issued Wednesday.

Attorneys general and ministers for public security and immigration from Canada, the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand gathered in Ottawa this week for two days of closed-door talks.

“Throughout these discussions, we affirmed that building public trust within our countries is required to move forward on national security issues,” the communique said. “Enhanced safeguards and greater efforts to promote transparency are critical in this respect.”

The sessions followed a rash of deadly attacks in Britain that highlighted the international alliance’s concerns about the threat of homegrown extremism and the backlash it can provoke.

The meetings also came as police in Ottawa busily stepped up security measures in anticipation of tens of thousands of people gathering Saturday on Parliament Hill to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

Although there’s a need to be attentive and vigilant, Canadians can have confidence in their government, police and security agencies, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Christinne Muschi/Reuters

“Every year, we step up around Canada Day to ensure that everything is done to keep Canadians safe.”

In order to help prevent “sophisticated and relentless plots,” the five countries affirmed the importance of sharing information among partners on known criminal and terrorist actors, the alliance communique said.

Security officials are worried about the widespread availability of encryption tools and applications that can allow extremists to more easily communicate without their phone calls and texts being intercepted.

Civil libertarians argue the right of law-abiding people to converse in private should not be compromised in the name of fighting terrorism by giving authorities the means to crack encryption or build back doors into security programs.

In a statement Sunday, Australian Attorney General George Brandis said his country planned to lead a discussion at the meetings on the terrorist use of cyberspace.

In its Wednesday communique, the alliance said the ability of terrorists and other criminals to shield their electronic activities through encryption can “severely undermine public safety efforts by impeding lawful access to the content of communications.”

They agreed to a common approach to engaging with communication service providers to deal with online terrorist activities and propaganda, while “upholding cybersecurity and individual rights and freedoms.”

The countries also committed to support a new industry forum led by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter.

In addition, they plan to:

  • Look at the role of traditional and social media and community voices in fostering — or discouraging — the radicalization of young people;
  • Share ideas on handling the threat posed by terrorist fighters who return from conflicts abroad;
  • Explore the possibility of joint operations to better tackle human trafficking and modern slavery.