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Trump Says Russia Should Be Readmitted to G7

WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Tuesday that Russia should be readmitted to the Group of 7 industrialized nations, a call for ending Moscow’s pariah status on the world stage that is likely to earn a cool reception when the group’s annual summit opens this weekend.

Speaking a few days before his planned departure for the summit, in Biarritz, France, Mr. Trump said that Moscow’s exclusion since 2014 from the group of leading economic powers should be reversed and, ignoring Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, contended that the true reason for it was President Barack Obama’s wounded pride.

“I think it’s much more appropriate to have Russia in,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office before a meeting with President Klaus Iohannis of Romania. “I could certainly see it being the G8 again.”

One reason, Mr. Trump said, was “because a lot of the things we talk about have to do with Russia.”

Russia was disinvited from gatherings of the former Group of 8 after the country’s annexation of Crimea, which in a joint statement the remaining group members called a violation of international law that could have “grave implications for the legal order that protects the unity and sovereignty of all states.”

Mr. Trump, who made similar comments before last year’s Group of 7 meeting in Canada, did not attach any conditions to his proposal, which could signal that the international community has moved on from Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine. It was the latest of several suggestions by Mr. Trump — whose 2016 campaign’s contacts with Kremlin-affiliated Russians were the subject of a long federal investigation, and who has personally courted the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin — that Russia has been unfairly treated by the United States and its allies.

That was in contrast to the view of France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, who a day earlier told a visiting Mr. Putin that Russia could rejoin the elite gathering if it helped end the continuing conflict in Ukraine. Moscow has supported a bloody rebellion by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine that the United Nations estimates has claimed more than 13,000 lives since it began five years ago.

In a news conference with Mr. Putin, Mr. Macron called resolving the international “dispute” over Russia’s policy toward Ukraine “the key” to Russian readmission into a reconstituted Group of 8.

Steven Pifer, a former United States ambassador to Ukraine, said he could envision a Russian return to the annual meetings, which aim for consensus action on issues like trade, terrorism, energy and the environment. But that should happen only if Russia earns its readmission by helping bring peace to Ukraine, he said.

“On one level, I agree with President Trump that it would be nice to get to a new U.S.-Russia relationship,” said Mr. Pifer, now a William Perry fellow at Stanford University. “But he never seems to suggest that Russia has to make some changes to its policies to get to that point.”


Westlake Legal Group merlin_159492387_a5b8b3ea-fb03-45c6-92b4-c9991a083d8c-videoSixteenByNine3000 Trump Says Russia Should Be Readmitted to G7 Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Putin, Vladimir V Obama, Barack Group of Seven Group of Eight

President Trump said Russia should be readmitted to the Group of 7 nations during a meeting on Tuesday with Romania’s president.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

Mr. Pifer allowed that demanding the return of Crimea to Ukraine seemed much less realistic than an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. “It’s hard to see how Ukraine gets the leverage to get Crimea back,” he said.

In his remarks on Tuesday, Mr. Trump made no reference to Russia’s annexation of the strategically valuable Crimean Peninsula, which began with a military intervention after Ukraine’s 2014 revolution ousted a pro-Russia leader and was consummated in a referendum widely condemned as illegitimate.

Instead, Mr. Trump, who has shown little concern about the fate of Crimea and has even suggested that it may rightfully belong to Russia, implied that Moscow’s real offense had been to embarrass his predecessor, Mr. Obama, who had unsuccessfully warned Russia against seizing the region.

“I guess President Obama, because Putin outsmarted him, President Obama thought it wasn’t a good thing to have Russia in,” Mr. Trump said. “So he wanted Russia out.”

“Well, that’s not the way it really should work,” he added.

The president addressed the issue on Tuesday in response to a question from a reporter, who noted that the United States will host next year’s Group of 7 summit. Mr. Trump hinted that he would not press the issue himself, however.

“If somebody would make that motion,” the president said, “I would certainly be disposed to think about it very favorably.”

Those remarks echoed Mr. Trump’s words from June of last year when, before departing for the Group of 7 summit in Canada, he declared that “Russia should be in this meeting.”

“Whether you like it or not — and it may not be politically correct — but we have a world to run,” he added.

But that scenario appears highly unlikely for now. No other Group of 7 leaders echoed Mr. Trump’s call last year. Nor does Russia seem to be clamoring for readmission.

Appearing Monday with Mr. Macron, Mr. Putin did not reject the idea but asked: “How can I come back into an organization that doesn’t exist? It is called the G7 today.”

Responding to a New York Times article that he is likely to tap his deputy secretary of state, John Sullivan, as his next ambassador to Moscow, Mr. Trump said that Mr. Sullivan was “very respected” and “could very well” be his nominee.

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Fourth-ranking House Democrat: Okay, it’s time to impeach Trump

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Well, it’s time to open an impeachment inquiry at least, he says, which I suppose is different. House Democrats might consider that a way to appease the anti-Trumpers in their base without going nuclear with full-blown impeachment. They can begin an impeachment investigation, enjoying the extra constitutional power that might provide them in obtaining documents like Trump’s tax returns, then take their sweet time and never quite reach a conclusion about what to do before the election.

Is the left really that cheap of a cheap date, though? If this is just a stalling tactic to keep the heat from progressives off of the House leadership, with no good-faith intent to actually pursue impeachment, lefties will call them out on it. Especially if anything Russia-related happens next year during the campaign. “WHAT ARE WE DOING ON IMPEACHMENT?” progressives will cry. What will Pelosi and Ben Ray Lujan say then?

House Dems can’t “open an impeachment inquiry” and then not impeach. Having had its heart broken once by Mueller, the left won’t tolerate having it broken again by its own reps.

“The Trump presidency is creating grave national security concerns. Our country’s intelligence agencies have confirmed that the Russian government attacked America during the 2016 elections. Numerous experts have warned that these attacks are ongoing to this day. And when faced with this evidence from his own government, President Trump has failed to act. Not only has he ignored the warnings that our Democracy is being targeted, but he has also actively encouraged Russian interference.

“When Special Counsel Mueller released his report, I read it in full. I was alarmed by the Trump campaign and the Trump White House’s brazen disregard for the rule of law. The report detailed sustained and frequent attempts by the Trump campaign to establish ties to the Russian government and an eagerness to benefit from hacked information stolen from our fellow Americans. The Special Counsel also detailed ten different attempts by President Trump to obstruct justice during the investigation. This would be unacceptable behavior from any president.

“President Trump’s lack of action is jeopardizing our elections, national security, and Democracy.

“What is evident is that President Trump is abdicating his responsibility to defend our nation from Russian attacks and is putting his own personal and political interests ahead of the American people.”

Normally someone as high-ranking as Lujan joining Team Impeachment would be big news, not only because of what it might signal about Pelosi’s own thinking but because of the unusual sway he holds over the Democrats’ freshman class. He’s not just the assistant Speaker and a Pelosi ally, he was the head of the DCCC last year when Dems mopped the floor with Republicans in House races. A centrist freshman who’s worried about how impeachment might hurt them back home next fall might take heart from Lujan coming out in favor, knowing that he’s better attuned than most in the House to what sorts of Democratic gambits can and can’t play nationally.

But I don’t know if there’s any grand lesson for them to take from his impeachment support here. That’s because Lujan is leaving the House and running for Senate next year in his home state of New Mexico to replace the retiring Tom Udall. He’s facing a contested primary too, although he’s the odds-on favorite given his support among the party’s leadership and the fact that his family is a political dynasty in the state. (His cousin is the current governor.) Lujan’s not hoping to trigger a pro-impeachment cascade in the House or to twist Pelosi’s arm, in other words, he’s covering his left flank ahead of a statewide run against several other Democrats next spring. If he were to waver on the core lefty proposition of Orange Man Bad, that might be enough to galvanize progressives in New Mexico to trying to defeat him in the primary. So he’s checking the box he needs to check.

It tells you a lot about how confident he is of victory too that he’d ditch the House given what a plum position he’s in there. At just 45 years old, he’s decades younger than the people ahead of him in the Dem leadership. And there’s no reason to believe Democrats will lose their House majority soon, meaning that Lujan stood a very real chance of becoming the first Latino Speaker if he had stayed put — maybe in just a few years. He’s giving all of that up because he suspects he’ll have a cakewalk for the Senate seat, which is likely true, and once he’s a senator he’ll become a top-flight Democratic candidate for president in 2024 or 2028. So in all likelihood, his lurch towards impeachment was done with Pelosi’s blessing, a special dispensation aimed at helping him win his next election and advance through the party.

Besides, haven’t Democrats … already opened an impeachment inquiry? They’re running a sort of “Schrodinger’s inquiry” right now in which Pelosi continues to insist that she’s not for impeachment and the party should look forward while Jerry Nadler operates as though there’s already an active impeachment probe and he’s proceeding accordingly. From late July:

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler’s announcement on Friday that the House is formally seeking special counsel Robert Mueller’s grand jury information complicates the far more cautious message on impeachment coming from Pelosi and her top deputies.

Nadler said the action “in effect” is part of an impeachment inquiry — though one has not been formally launched — and in petitioning a federal court for the grand jury evidence, House Democrats put in writing for the first time that they are considering whether impeachment is warranted…

Friday’s court filing is more explicit: The “House must have access to all the relevant facts and consider whether to exercise its full Article I powers, including a constitutional power of the utmost gravity — approval of articles of impeachment.”

There’s a certain Trumpish attitude to the Democratic approach here in that it seems aimed at letting everyone hear what they want to hear. If you think the House should stay away from impeachment, great, Pelosi is with you. If you think the House should impeach with all due haste, great, Nadler’s already a step ahead of you. If you think the House should be cautious but at least open an impeachment inquiry, great, Ben Ray Lujan couldn’t agree more. They’re just going to muddle through here, I think, conducting a low-key investigation that can turn quickly into a formal impeachment push if and when Nadler and Adam Schiff turn up something on Trump that’s explosive.

Exit question: Given the wrenching, still ongoing political crisis that resulted from Russia’s interference in 2016, every garbage rogue regime under the sun will be trying to meddle somehow in 2020, right? Hack into a few choice databases, let your presence be known somehow, and watch righties and lefties go for each other’s throats with allegations that their candidate is illegitimate because he/she benefited from illicit foreign help.

The post Fourth-ranking House Democrat: Okay, it’s time to impeach Trump appeared first on Hot Air.

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Russian Nuclear Monitoring Stations ‘Went Silent’ After Explosion At Missile Testing Site

Westlake Legal Group putin-helsinki-620x442 Russian Nuclear Monitoring Stations ‘Went Silent’ After Explosion At Missile Testing Site Russian nuclear test in Severodvinsk Russia putin Lassina Zerbo Front Page Stories Foreign Policy Featured Story Daryl Kimball Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Arms Control Association Allow Media Exception

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to U.S. President Donald Trump at the beginning of a one-on-one-meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)


The Wall Street Journal has learned that, in the days following the accidental explosion at a northwestern Russian missile test site on August 8th, the two closest monitoring stations “went silent.”

In an email to the Journal, Lassina Zerbo, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, wrote that two days after the explosion, the monitoring stations in Kirov and Dubna “stopped transmitting data.” The stations had been “contacted immediately about the data disruption and Russian officials responded that they were experiencing “communication and network issues.”

Zerbo added, “We are pending further reports on when the stations or the communication system will be restored to full functionality.”

My colleague, Streiff, posted on this story here and here.

The first report from Russia’s state-controlled nuclear agency, Rosatom, called the incident a rocket engine explosion and said that five workers had been killed.  Two days later, Rosatom acknowledged that the “explosion occurred on an offshore platform during tests of a “nuclear isotope power source,” and that five nuclear engineers had been killed and three, wounded.

Little by little, information began to trickle in. The Guardian reported that “radiation levels in Severodvinsk, a nearby city, increased 20 times above normal for about a half hour after the explosion.” Then, it was reported  by a correspondent from the Israeli public broadcasting corporation, Amichai Stein, that “Locals in the Russian city of Severodvinsk have been told to take iodine tablets and stay indoor after massive explosion days ago. Residents only told an ‘incident’ took place.”

Kirov and Dubna are “part of an international network of hundreds of stations set up to verify compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits nuclear weapons tests globally.” Although the treaty has not been ratified yet, Russia claims they are “strictly observing the accord.”

According to the Journal:

The stations are designed to monitor everything from seismic shifts to sound waves for signs of nuclear activity. The two stations that went silent in Russia are designed to measure radioactive particles in the atmosphere, according to the treaty organization’s website.

Arms-control experts said the monitoring problem appears to be a Russian effort to conceal information about the accident and not an effort to hide evidence of a prohibited nuclear weapons test.

Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, a nongovernmental organization promoting arms-control policies told the Journal:

It is a very odd coincidence that these stations stopped sending data shortly after the Aug. 8 incident.

It is probably because they want to obscure the technical details of the missile-propulsion system they are trying and failing to develop. But this is not a legitimate reason to cut off test-ban monitoring data transmissions.

It’s no surprise that Russia has been less than candid about the blast which many guess was the test of a nuclear-powered missile. President Trump believes it “involved an advanced nuclear-powered cruise missile, which has been dubbed Skyfall by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and which Russia calls Burevestnik.” In a tweet, Trump wrote that “the U.S. is learning from the missile explosion and said the U.S. has more advanced technology but did not elaborate.”

The post Russian Nuclear Monitoring Stations ‘Went Silent’ After Explosion At Missile Testing Site appeared first on RedState.

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The Mystery Surrounding Russia Accidentally Nuking Itself Continues To Grow

Westlake Legal Group funeral-of-russian-nuclear-scientists-620x317 The Mystery Surrounding Russia Accidentally Nuking Itself Continues To Grow Severodvinsk Russian navy Russia nuclear incident Front Page Stories Featured Story Allow Media Exception

In this grab taken from footage provided by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM press service, people gather for the funerals of five Russian nuclear engineers killed by a rocket explosion in Sarov, the closed city, located 370 kilometers (230 miles) east of Moscow, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. Thousands of people have attended the burial of five Russian nuclear engineers killed by an explosion during tests of a new rocket. The engineers, who died on Thursday, were laid to rest Monday in the city of Sarov that hosts Russia’s main nuclear weapons research center. (Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM via AP)

A week ago, Russia suffered what submariners might call a “nuclear casualty” in the isolated military weapons testing facility near

I covered that in this post…a post which caused damp panties in some circle because of the image I used, but screw ’em if they can’t take a joke.

Now, as the details gradually filter out we aren’t left with a warm fuzzy feeling that the scope and nature of the nuclear event has been adequately explained.

The suspicion is that this explosion is linked to the alleged nuclear cruise missile Vladimir Putin woofed about back in March:

The Burevestnik (“Storm Petrel”) is designed to evade U.S. defenses, flying for hours or even days to exploit holes in missile defense networks that most weapons can’t reach. Russia hadn’t tested the weapon in nearly a year—until last week, that is.

According to The Diplomat, the test took place on January 29 at Kapustin Yar, one of Russia’s major weapon-testing grounds. The website quoted anonymous sources in the U.S. government with knowledge of the weapons program. The missile is known to the U.S. intelligence community as the KY30, or the SSC-X-9 “Skyfall.”

In November 2017, a “moderately successful” test of Skyfall from the Pan’kovo test site on the Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya resulted in several Russian ships fishing debris and nuclear materials from the Barents Sea. The Diplomat’s sources describe the most recent test as “partially successful.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin officially announced this weapon’s existence back in March 2018. Putin stated, “The launch and the set of ground tests allow [Russia] to get to creating a radically new type of weaponry—a strategic nuclear weaponry complex with a missile fitted with a nuclear powered engine.” Putin further described the missile, later named Burevestnik via a poll of the Russian public, as having “unlimited range and unlimited ability to maneuver.”

Just to digress a brief moment, this has always struck me as much more of a PR gimmick, the weapons industry equivalent of vaporware, that a real thing. The idea is that you create a ramjet engine that is somehow fueled by a nuclear reactor. A conventional rocket motor gets the missile up to minimum operating speed and the reactor, presumably, heats the incoming air to flashpoint without the use of fuel injection. Of course, the problems posed by the reactor of shielding and of the radioactive waste left in its wake as air is ignited by contact with a nuclear source would seem to make it a suboptimal system. There are a lot of questions about its usefulness as well as its engineering. If, for instance, one of these devices was fired at, say, a US installation, would we consider it a conventional or nuclear attack because the detonation is going to scatter fissile material if it doesn’t generate a real, if inefficient, nuclear blast. Where does this fit in to your defense strategy beyond making arms control weenies incontinent? What is the real need for a swarm of nuclear-powered cruise missiles? How do you store them?

What we know is that at least five Russian nuclear weapons scientists or engineers and two other people were killed in the explosion.

At memorial events in Sarov that included a gun salute, Rosatom head Alexei Likhachev praised the deceased nuclear experts as the “pride of the country” and the “pride of the atomic sector”.

“The best tribute to them will be our continued work on new models of weapons, which will definitely be carried out to the end,” Likhachev was quoted as saying by RIA news agency.

In a video interview published late on Sunday, an official at the scientists’ research institute in Sarov did not spell out exactly what they had been doing, but suggested that they had been working on a small nuclear reactor.

The official, Vyacheslav Solovyev, said the institute was working on “sources of thermal or electric energy using radioactive materials, including fissile materials and radioisotope materials”.

There are mixed stories about evacuation:

Residents of a Russian village near the site of a nuclear accident that killed seven people in Russia’s far north last week were left confused on Tuesday by conflicting reports that they would be evacuated while work is carried out on the site. Several unidentified residents of Nynoksa, in Russia’s Arkhangelsk region, told local news website 29.ru that they had been told they would have to leave the village for at least two hours, between 5 and 7 a.m. on Wednesday, and that a train would be provided for them.

The government of Severodvinsk, a city 25 miles away from Nynoksa, seemed to confirm the evacuation ordered to the state-run Interfax news agency.

“We have received a notification… about the planned activities of the military authorities. In this regard, residents of Nynoksa were asked to leave the territory of the village from August 14,” officials were quoted by Interfax as saying.

However, the governor of the Arkhangelsk region, Igor Orlov, dismissed that report in a separate interview with Interfax as “complete nonsense,” saying “no evacuation (is taking place).”

The Washington Post offers this:

The website reported that military officials had met with the villagers Monday to tell them they’d have to leave.

“They said that there were no changes in the radiation background and there was nothing to worry about,” said the resident, who asked not to be identified. “And that everything is fine both in our village and there, in the military town. The situation is checked by experts.”

But we know that the part about background radiation isn’t true because a spike in background radiation to 16 times the normal level has been independently confirmed.

The bottom line is we really don’t know what happened there beyond a massive explosion, a spike in background radiation, an evacuation of civilians that may or may not have taken place, and nearly two dozed acknowledged casualties. The fact that it happened at a classified test range and the Russians had to admit this much hints that the actual scope is much worse.

The post The Mystery Surrounding Russia Accidentally Nuking Itself Continues To Grow appeared first on RedState.

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CNN: Did the Russians nuke themselves?

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Just what caused a mysterious explosion and the deaths of five key researchers in Russia’s equivalent of Los Alamos? The accident last week caused a spike in background radiation levels and prompted a scramble of nuclear-related support to Sarov, a secret city in northern Russia known for research and development on nuclear weapons. Western intelligence suspects that the new Russian nuclear cruise missile is under development in Sarov — or was, anyway.

The Russians finally broke their silence today, but didn’t actually offer any specific denials, CNN notes:

The Kremlin broke its silence Tuesday on the apparent explosion of a nuclear-powered cruise missile during a test, saying that accidents “happen” but that Russia remained “far ahead” in the development of advanced weaponry.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to confirm widespread international speculation that the accident — which claimed the lives of at least five nuclear specialists last Thursday — involved a nuclear-powered cruise missile known as the Burevestnik or Skyfall.

But in a conference call with reporters, Peskov denied that such mishaps would set back Russian efforts to develop advanced military capabilities.

The spokesperson said that only experts could speak with authority on such matters, but added: “Accidents, unfortunately, happen. They are tragedies. But in this particular case, it is important for us to remember those heroes who lost their lives in this accident.”

Russia had ordered the nearby village of Nyonoksa to evacuate, but then inexplicably canceled the order:

The Russian military on Tuesday told residents of a village near a navy testing range to evacuate, but cancelled the order hours later, adding to the uncertainty and confusion fueled by a missile explosion at the range that led to a brief spike in radiation that frightened residents and raised new questions about the military’s weapons program.

The initial notice from the military told residents of Nyonoksa, a village of about 500, to move out temporarily, citing unspecified activities at the range. But a few hours later, the military said the planned activities were cancelled and rescinded the request to leave, said Ksenia Yudina, a spokeswoman for the Severodvinsk regional administration.

The Associated Press suggests in the same report that this might have been a routine request:

Local media in Severodvinsk said residents of Nyonoksa regularly received similar temporary evacuation orders usually timed to tests at the range.

Even that seems significant, however. If they had a test planned and then canceled it, it might be because their nuclear facilities can no longer conduct tests. Or, alternately, the Putin regime figures they can sacrifice 500 of their citizens in order to maintain the Chip Diller routine.

That would be a long-term mistake. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 didn’t lead immediately to the collapse of the Soviet system, but it certainly contributed to the erosion of its credibility and hastened its end. The Washington Post’s editorial board offered Russia a reminder of that this afternoon and told Vladimir Putin to ‘fess up:

Initially, Russia’s defense ministry said two people died in the explosion, three were injured and there was no radiation release. Then officials in Severodvinsk, a larger city some 19 miles away, posted on its website a statement that sensors recorded a short-term spike in radiation, without saying how much. The report was subsequently taken down. Residents rushed to stockpile iodine against possible radiation exposure. Ambulances carrying the injured appeared to be sealed by some kind of plastic film, and personnel were wearing hazmat suits. On Aug. 10, the Russian state nuclear agency, Rosatom, said five of its employees had died in the accident, bringing the total to seven. Moreover, Rosatom said the blast resulted from the test of a jet engine “propulsion system involving isotopes,” or nuclear materials. On Aug. 13, residents of the small village of Nyonoksa were told they would be evacuated temporarily.

If this slow dribble of facts sounds familiar, it is — the same parade of misdirection happened during the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. This accident is nothing like Chernobyl in scale, but the government response looks familiar, including a lack of transparency about radiation release. As the recent television series “Chernobyl” vividly illustrated, that accident, the worst in the nuclear age, was characterized by lies and deception. At the very least, Russia should immediately clear up what occurred at Nyonoksa.

They also raise the warning for the rest of us:

If the Nyonoksa blast was a test of the Burevestnik engine, Russia may be further along than previously thought. Mr. Putin has taken pains to brag that Russian can develop weapons with an asymmetric threat to the United States. Test failures are to be expected. But at a time when nuclear arms control is falling apart, this test raises a question: If successful, what kind of new nuclear threat will Russia possess?

Maybe it wasn’t so successful, which might be why Putin’s not talking much about it.

The post CNN: Did the Russians nuke themselves? appeared first on Hot Air.

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U.S. Officials Suspect New Nuclear Missile in Explosion That Killed 7 Russians

American intelligence officials are racing to understand a mysterious explosion that released radiation off the coast of northern Russia last week, apparently during the test of a new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile hailed by President Vladimir V. Putin as the centerpiece of Moscow’s arms race with the United States.

American officials have said nothing publicly about the blast on Thursday, possibly one of the worst nuclear accidents in Russia since Chernobyl, although apparently on a far smaller scale, with at least seven people, including scientists, confirmed dead. But the Russian government’s slow and secretive response has set off anxiety in nearby cities and towns — and attracted the attention of analysts in Washington and Europe who believe the explosion may offer a glimpse of technological weaknesses in Russia’s new arms program.

Thursday’s accident happened offshore of the Nenoksa Missile Test Site and was followed by what nearby local officials initially reported was a spike in radiation in the atmosphere.

Late Sunday night, officials at a research institute that had employed five of the scientists who died confirmed for the first time that a small nuclear reactor had exploded during an experiment in the White Sea, and that the authorities were investigating the cause.

Vyacheslav Solovyov, the scientific director of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center, said in a video interview with a local newspaper that the institute had been studying “small-scale sources of energy with the use of fissile materials.”

But United States intelligence officials have said they suspect the blast involved a prototype of what NATO calls the SSC-X-9 Skyfall. That is a cruise missile that Mr. Putin has boasted can reach any corner of the earth because it is partially powered by a small nuclear reactor, eliminating the usual distance limitations of conventionally fueled missiles.

As envisioned by Mr. Putin, who played animated video of the missile at a state-of-the-union speech in 2018, the Skyfall is part of a new class of weapons designed to evade American missile defenses.

In several recent Pentagon and other government reports, the prospect of a Russian nuclear-powered cruise missiles has been frequently cited as a potential new kind of threat. They are launched into the air and able to weave an unpredictable path at relatively low altitudes.

That makes them virtually unstoppable for the existing American antimissile systems in Alaska and California, which are designed to intercept intercontinental ballistic missile warheads in space, traveling a largely predictable path.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_159009294_6bdc9df6-8057-4581-bfa6-3406a4aedb3a-articleLarge U.S. Officials Suspect New Nuclear Missile in Explosion That Killed 7 Russians United States International Relations Russia Putin, Vladimir V Nuclear Weapons Arms Control and Limitation and Disarmament

A 2011 photo of the military base near Nenoksa, Russia, where the explosion occurred.CreditAgence France-Presse — Getty Images

Yet for all the hype, Russia’s early tests of the cruise missile appeared to fail, even before last week’s disaster. And Russia’s story about what happened Thursday in the sea off one of its major missile test sites has changed over the past four days as the body count has risen.

Beyond the human toll, American intelligence officials are questioning whether Mr. Putin’s grand dream of a revived arsenal evaporated in that mysterious explosion, or whether it was just an embarrassing setback in Moscow’s effort to build a new class of long-range and undersea weapons that the United States cannot intercept.

Many outside arms experts have long regarded his effort as part fantasy, using a technology the United States tried and failed to make work in the 1950s and 1960s. If so, it may call into question one of the Trump administration’s justifications for major new spending on American nuclear weapons to counter the Russian buildup — though the United States also cites a parallel program underway in China.

The accident came at a critical moment in the revived United States-Russia nuclear competition. This month, the United States withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, citing long-running Russian violations, and there are doubts that New START, the one remaining major treaty limiting nuclear forces, will be renewed before it runs out in less than two years.

To Russian military officials, one of the appeals of the new class of hypersonic and undersea nuclear weapons is that they are not prohibited by any existing treaties — giving them free run to test and deploy them.

Russia’s military, in statements carried by state news agencies, first said that a fire broke out when a liquid-fueled rocket engine exploded at a testing site, but that radiation remained at normal background levels.

That contradicted a report from local authorities in the city of Severodvinsk, about 25 miles away. An official in charge of civil defense said two radiation meters registered a spike. Russian news media later reported radiation briefly rose to 200 times normal background levels.

The reports were quickly taken off the city’s websites, but not in time to stop a run by city residents for iodine, a way of protecting the thyroid gland against absorbing radiation.

“This information should be open” to inform those who might be exposed or wish to take precautions, said Aleksandr K. Nikitin, a former Russian naval officer and researcher with the Norwegian environmental group Bellona. “But in Russia it is done differently.”

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant in May 1986.CreditLaski Diffusion/Getty Images

The Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom on Saturday said the failure occurred in an “isotope power source for a liquid fueled rocket engine.” While the wording was confusing, it was the first official acknowledgment that the accident was nuclear in nature.

The change in Russia’s account, along with separate American intelligence reporting and satellite imagery, got the attention of American intelligence officials. They are now exploring whether the small nuclear reactor that Mr. Putin talked about when promoting the weapon failed, or exploded.

While the scale of the accident appeared vastly smaller than the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in 1986, which killed thousands, the slow release of muddied information, the public confusion and distrust of official accounts, and the race for some limited form of protection, seemed to have echoes of the reaction to that disaster.

It has never been clear just how far along Mr. Putin’s grand plans for the cruise missile — called the 9M730 Burevestnick by the Russians — had gotten.

A missile-defense review published by the Pentagon — after careful scrubbing to avoid signaling to Moscow what American intelligence officials think they know — notes that “Russian leaders also claim that Russia possesses a new class of missile” that travels five times faster than the speed of sound and moves “just above the atmosphere,” in an evasive pattern that would defeat American antimissile technology. But the report made no assessment of whether they would work.

“I’ve generally been of the belief that this attempt at developing an unlimited-range nuclear-powered cruise missile is folly,’’ said Ankit Panda, a nuclear expert at the Federation of American Scientists. “It’s unclear if someone in the Russian defense industrial bureaucracy may have managed to convince a less technically informed leadership that this is a good idea, but the United States tried this, quickly discovered the limitations and risks, and abandoned it with good reason.”

Ivan Konovalov, director of the Center for Strategic Trends in Moscow and a military analyst, characterized the experiments underway now as “pioneering” work on a new technology and fraught with danger.

“When there are tests, anything can happen,” he said in a telephone interview.

But for Mr. Putin, facing protests that reveal some public restiveness with his long rule, the weapons programs have been part of his argument that he is restoring Russia to the position the Soviet Union held as a great power.

When Mr. Putin first spoke about the new weapons in 2018, most of the attention fell on his description of an undersea drone, called the Poseidon, that could operate autonomously and, American officials feared, hit the West Coast in a nuclear “second strike” after an initial exchange. Mr. Putin seemed to be seeking attention for the new arsenal.

An undated video frame provided by the Russian Defense Ministry shows an undersea drone, called the Poseidon.CreditDefense Ministry Press Service, via Associated Press

“Nobody wanted to talk to us,” Mr. Putin complained in the speech. “Now listen to us.”

He and others have talked about Russia’s plans for the “Poseidon” in a nod to the Doomsday Machine parodied in the 1964 classic “Dr. Strangelove,” which could hit the West Coast even if Moscow and Russia’s military centers were already destroyed in a nuclear strike. While fictional, the movie was based on a real Soviet plan, a demonstration of how long Soviet and Russian leaders have entertained the idea.

The “Poseidon” undersea drone still appears to be years away. But for Mr. Putin, the most promising weapon has been the nuclear-propelled cruise missile, which he advertised to be able to fly an unlimited range — an answer to American “global strike” weapons that are designed to reach any corner of the earth, with a non-nuclear warhead.

A little more than a year ago, Russia’s Ministry of Defense produced a carefully edited YouTube video that showed the missile heading aloft, and left the impression, wrongly, that it was already working.

The Russian admission that the accident centered on an “isotope power source” followed a series of anonymous statements, run on Tass and other Russian news sites, that seemed to mix fact, rumor and some disinformation. But satellite images offer some clues.

An Aug. 8 image released by Planet Labs, a firm that launches small satellites, appears to show the Serebryanka, a ship that carries nuclear fuel and waste, offshore from the Nenoksa Missile Test Site. Its presence, Jeffrey Lewis, a scholar at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute, wrote on Twitter, “may be related to the testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile.”

That vessel, which can safely collect nuclear waste, was also seen at another test of the 9M730 Burevestnick. Other facilities examined by Mr. Lewis’ experts seemed to show testing facilities consistent with those previously shown in Russian reports on past tests.

On Sunday, Mr. Lewis said that given the string of other suspected failures in tests of the missile’s propulsion system, “we think they are having troubles getting the reactor to light” and create the heat to fuel the missile. The images on the Russian YouTube video “doesn’t show you enough to prove it’s working,’’ he said.

“Maybe Putin will make it happen,’’ he added. “Maybe it will never work.”

Nuclear arms races are partly about the weapons, but they are also about leaving the impression that systems work, even if they don’t. Both sides engaged in propaganda and lies about the capability and size of their arsenals during the Cold War. They also covered up accidents.

The United States lost a nuclear weapon at sea off the coast of Japan, and didn’t acknowledge it for years, one of many cover-ups.

And this would hardly be the first time the Russian military, and its Soviet predecessors, covered up a testing disaster. A 1960 explosion at the Baikonur Cosmodrome was not acknowledged for nearly three decades. The official death toll then was 78; now there are some estimates that range into the hundreds.

With the passage of nearly 60 years, the truth may never be known.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism

RINKEBY, Sweden — Johnny Castillo, a Peruvian-born neighborhood watchman in this district of Stockholm, still puzzles over the strange events that two years ago turned the central square of this predominantly immigrant community into a symbol of multiculturalism run amok.

First came a now-infamous comment by President Trump, suggesting that Sweden’s history of welcoming refugees was at the root of a violent attack in Rinkeby the previous evening, even though nothing had actually happened.

“You look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this? Sweden!” Mr. Trump told supporters at a rally on Feb. 18, 2017. “They took in large numbers. They’re having problems like they never thought possible.”

The president’s source: Fox News, which had excerpted a short film promoting a dystopian view of Sweden as a victim of its asylum policies, with immigrant neighborhoods crime-ridden “no-go zones.”


Westlake Legal Group sweden_still-videoSixteenByNineJumbo1600 The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism United States Trump, Donald J Sweden Democrats Stormfront.org Stockholm (Sweden) Sputnik (Russian News Agency) Spencer, Richard B (1978- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT (TV Network) Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda project veritas Orban, Viktor Neo Nazi Groups Muslims and Islam Mercer, Rebekah A (1973- ) Law and Justice (Poland) Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements European Union Dugin, Alexander (1962- ) Conservative Political Action Conference Bolton, John R Asylum, Right of americans for prosperity Alternative for Germany

CreditCreditFox News

But two days later, as Swedish officials were heaping bemused derision on Mr. Trump, something did in fact happen in Rinkeby: Several dozen masked men attacked police officers making a drug arrest, throwing rocks and setting cars ablaze.

And it was right around that time, according to Mr. Castillo and four other witnesses, that Russian television crews showed up, offering to pay immigrant youths “to make trouble” in front of the cameras.

“They wanted to show that President Trump is right about Sweden,” Mr. Castillo said, “that people coming to Europe are terrorists and want to disturb society.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_118448180_7c861b53-bfc9-4911-87d4-5d692abb58a9-articleLarge The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism United States Trump, Donald J Sweden Democrats Stormfront.org Stockholm (Sweden) Sputnik (Russian News Agency) Spencer, Richard B (1978- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT (TV Network) Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda project veritas Orban, Viktor Neo Nazi Groups Muslims and Islam Mercer, Rebekah A (1973- ) Law and Justice (Poland) Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements European Union Dugin, Alexander (1962- ) Conservative Political Action Conference Bolton, John R Asylum, Right of americans for prosperity Alternative for Germany

Firefighters on the scene of a riot in Rinkeby where several cars were lit on fire.CreditTt News Agency/Reuters

That nativist rhetoric — that immigrants are invading the homeland — has gained ever-greater traction, and political acceptance, across the West amid dislocations wrought by vast waves of migration from the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. In its most extreme form, it is echoed in the online manifesto of the man accused of gunning down 22 people last weekend in El Paso.

In the nationalists’ message-making, Sweden has become a prime cautionary tale, dripping with schadenfreude. What is even more striking is how many people in Sweden — progressive, egalitarian, welcoming Sweden — seem to be warming to the nationalists’ view: that immigration has brought crime, chaos and a fraying of the cherished social safety net, not to mention a withering away of national culture and tradition.

Fueled by an immigration backlash — Sweden has accepted more refugees per capita than any other European country — right-wing populism has taken hold, reflected most prominently in the steady ascent of a political party with neo-Nazi roots, the Sweden Democrats. In elections last year, they captured nearly 18 percent of the vote.

To dig beneath the surface of what is happening in Sweden, though, is to uncover the workings of an international disinformation machine, devoted to the cultivation, provocation and amplication of far-right, anti-immigrant passions and political forces. Indeed, that machine, most influentially rooted in Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia and the American far right, underscores a fundamental irony of this political moment: the globalization of nationalism.

The central target of these manipulations from abroad — and the chief instrument of the Swedish nationalists’ success — is the country’s increasingly popular, and virulently anti-immigrant, digital echo chamber.

A New York Times examination of its content, personnel and traffic patterns illustrates how foreign state and nonstate actors have helped to give viral momentum to a clutch of Swedish far-right web sites.

Russian and Western entities that traffic in disinformation, including an Islamaphobic think tank whose former chairman is now Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, have been crucial linkers to the Swedish sites, helping to spread their message to susceptible Swedes.

At least six Swedish sites have received financial backing through advertising revenue from a Russian- and Ukrainian-owned auto-parts business based in Berlin, whose online sales network oddly contains buried digital links to a range of far-right and other socially divisive content.

Writers and editors for the Swedish sites have been befriended by the Kremlin. And in one strange Rube Goldbergian chain of events, a frequent German contributor to one Swedish site has been implicated in the financing of a bombing in Ukraine, in a suspected Russian false-flag operation.

The distorted view of Sweden pumped out by this disinformation machine has been used, in turn, by anti-immigrant parties in Britain, Germany, Italy and elsewhere to stir xenophobia and gin up votes, according to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based nonprofit that tracks the online spread of far-right extremism.

“I’d put Sweden up there with the anti-Soros campaign,” said Chloe Colliver, a researcher for the institute, referring to anti-Semitic attacks on George Soros, the billionaire benefactor of liberal causes. “It’s become an enduring centerpiece of the far-right conversation.”

Mattias Karlsson, the Sweden Democrats’ international secretary and chief ideologist, likes to tell the story of how he became a soldier in what he has described as the “existential battle for our culture’s and our nation’s survival.”

It was the mid-1990s and Mr. Karlsson, now 41, was attending high school in the southern city of Vaxjo. Sweden was accepting a record number of refugees from the Balkan War and other conflicts. In Vaxjo and elsewhere, young immigrant men began joining brawling “kicker” gangs, radicalizing Mr. Karlsson and drawing him toward the local skinhead scene.

He took to wearing a leather jacket with a Swedish flag on the back and was soon introduced to Mats Nilsson, a Swedish National Socialist leader who gave him a copy of “Mein Kampf.” They began to debate: Mr. Nilsson argued that the goal should be ethnic purity — the preservation of “Swedish DNA.” Mr. Karlsson countered that the focus should be on preserving national culture and identity. That, he said, was when Mr. Nilsson conferred on him an epithet of insufficient commitment to the cause — “meatball patriot,” meaning that “I thought that every African or Arab can come to this country as long as they assimilate and eat meatballs.”

It is an account that offers the most benign explanation for an odious association. Whatever the case, in 1999, he joined the Sweden Democrats, a party undeniably rooted in Sweden’s neo-Nazi movement. Indeed, scholars of the far right say that is what sets it apart from most anti-immigration parties in Europe and makes its rise from marginalized to mainstream so remarkable.

Mattias Karlsson, the international secretary of Sweden Democrats, a far-right party that captured nearly 18 percent in elections last year.CreditLoulou d’Aki for The New York Times

The party was founded in 1988 by several Nazi ideologues, including a former member of the Waffen SS. Early on, it sought international alliances with the likes of the White Aryan Resistance, a white supremacist group founded by a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. Some Sweden Democrats wore Nazi uniforms to party functions. Its platform included the forced repatriation of all immigrants since 1970.

That was not, however, a winning formula in a country where social democrats have dominated every election for more than a century.

While attending university, Mr. Karlsson had met Jimmie Akesson, who took over the Sweden Democrats’ youth party in 2000 and became party leader in 2005. Mr. Akesson was outspoken in his belief that Muslim refugees posed “the biggest foreign threat to Sweden since the Second World War.” But to make that case effectively, he and Mr. Karlsson agreed, they needed to remake the party’s image.

“We needed to really address our past,” Mr. Karlsson said.

They purged neo-Nazis who had been exposed by the press. They announced a “zero tolerance” policy toward extreme xenophobia and racism, emphasized their youthful leadership and urged members to dress presentably. And while immigration remained at the center of their platform, they moderated the way they talked about it.

No longer was the issue framed in terms of keeping certain ethnic groups out, or deporting those already in. Rather it was about how unassimilated migrants were eviscerating not just the nation’s cultural identity but also the social-welfare heart of the Swedish state.

Under the grand, egalitarian idea of the “folkhemmet,” or people’s home, in which the country is a family and its citizens take care of one another, Swedes pay among the world’s highest effective tax rates, in return for benefits like child care, health care, free college education and assistance when they grow old.

The safety net has come under strain for a host of economic and demographic reasons, many of which predate the latest refugee flood. But in the Sweden Democrats’ telling, the blame lies squarely at the feet of the foreigners, many of whom lag far behind native Swedes in education and economic accomplishment. One party advertisement depicted a white woman trying to collect benefits while being pursued by niqab-wearing immigrants pushing strollers.

To what extent the party’s makeover is just window dressing is an open question.

The doubts were highlighted in what became known as “the Iron Pipe Scandal” in 2012. Leaked video showed two Sweden Democrat MPs and the party’s candidate for attorney general hurling racist slurs at a comedian of Kurdish descent, then threatening a drunken witness with iron pipes.

Under Mr. Akesson and Mr. Karlsson, the party has hosted the American white nationalist Richard Spencer. High-ranking party officials have bounced between Sweden and Hungary, ruled by the authoritarian nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Mr. Karlsson himself has come under fire for calling out an extremist site as neo-fascist while using an alias to recommend posts as “worth reading” to party members.

“There’s a public face and the face they wear behind closed doors,” said Daniel Poohl, who heads Expo, a Stockholm-based foundation that tracks far-right extremism.

Still, even detractors admit that strategy has worked. In 2010, the Sweden Democrats captured 5.7 percent of the vote, enough for the party, and Mr. Karlsson, to enter Parliament for the first time. That share has steadily increased along with the growing population of refugees. (Today, roughly 20 percent of Sweden’s population is foreign born.)

At its peak in 2015, Sweden accepted 163,000 asylum-seekers, mostly from Afghanistan, Somalia and Syria. Though border controls and tighter rules have eased that flow, Ardalan Shekarabi, the country’s public administration minister, acknowledged that his government had been slow to act.

A Somali family walking home from Rinkeby Square. More than 91 percent of Rinkeby’s roughly 16,400 residents are immigrants and their children.CreditLoulou d’Aki for The New York Times

Mr. Shekarabi, an immigrant from Iran, said the sheer number of refugees had overwhelmed the government’s efforts to integrate them.

“I absolutely don’t think that the majority of Swedes have racist or xenophobic views, but they had questions about this migration policy and the other parties didn’t have any answers,” he said. “Which is one of the reasons why Sweden Democrats had a case.”

As the 2018 elections approached, Swedish counterintelligence was on high alert for foreign interference. Russia, the hulking neighbor to the east, was seen as the main threat. After the Kremlin’s meddling in the 2016 American election, Sweden had reason to fear it could be next.

“Russia’s goal is to weaken Western countries by polarizing the debate,” said Daniel Stenling, the Swedish Security Service’s counterintelligence chief. “For the last five years, we have seen more and more aggressive intelligence work against our nation.”

But as it turned out, there was no hacking and dumping of internal campaign documents, as in the United States. Nor was there an overt effort to swing the election to the Sweden Democrats, perhaps because the party, in keeping with Swedish popular opinion, has become more critical of the Kremlin than some of its far-right European counterparts.

Instead, security officials say, the foreign influence campaign took a different, more subtle form: helping nurture Sweden’s rapidly evolving far-right digital ecosystem.

For years, the Sweden Democrats had struggled to make their case to the public. Many mainstream media outlets declined their ads. The party even had difficulty getting the postal service to deliver its mailers. So it built a network of closed Facebook pages whose reach would ultimately exceed that of any other party.

But to thrive in the viral sense, that network required fresh, alluring content. It drew on a clutch of relatively new websites whose popularity was exploding.

Members of the Sweden Democrats helped create two of them: Samhallsnytt (News in Society) and Nyheter Idag (News Today). By the 2018 election year, they, along with a site called Fria Tider (Free Times), were among Sweden’s 10 most shared news sites.

A number of news sites with anti-immigrant messages helped propel Sweden Democrats to popularity.

These sites each reached one-tenth of all Swedish internet users a week and, according to an Oxford University study, accounted for 85 percent of the election-related “junk news” — deemed deliberately distorted or misleading — shared online. There were other sites, too, all injecting anti-immigrant and Islamophobic messaging into the Swedish political bloodstream.

“Immigration Behind Shortage of Drinking Water in Northern Stockholm,” read one recent headline. “Refugee Minor Raped Host Family’s Daughter; Thought It Was Legal,” read another. “Performed Female Genital Mutilation on Her Children — Given Asylum in Sweden,” read a third.

Russia’s hand in all of this is largely hidden from view. But fingerprints abound.

For instance, one writer for Samhallsnytt, who previously worked for the Sweden Democrats, was recently declined parliamentary press accreditation after the security police determined he had been in contact with Russian intelligence.

Fria Tider is considered not only one of the most extreme sites, but also among the most Kremlin-friendly. It frequently swaps material with the Russian propaganda outlet Sputnik. The site is linked, via domain ownership records, to Granskning Sverige, called the Swedish “troll factory” for its efforts to entrap and embarrass mainstream journalists. Among its frequent targets: journalists who write negatively about Russia.

“We’ve had death threats, spam attacks, emails — this year has been totally crazy,” said Eva Burman, the editor of Eskilstuna-Kuriren, a newspaper that found itself in the cross hairs after criticizing the Russian annexation of Crimea and investigating Granskning Sverige itself.

At the magazine Nya Tider, the editor, Vavra Suk, has traveled to Moscow as an election observer and to Syria, where he produced Kremlin-friendly accounts of the civil war. Nya Tider has published work by Alexander Dugin, an ultranationalist Russian philosopher who has been called “Putin’s Rasputin”; Mr. Suk’s writings for Mr. Dugin’s think tank include one titled “Donald Trump Can Make Europe Great Again.”

Nya Tider’s contributors include Manuel Ochsenreiter, editor of Zuerst!, a German far-right newspaper. Mr. Ochsenreiter — who has appeared regularly on RT, the Kremlin propaganda channel — worked until recently for Markus Frohnmaier, a member of the German Bundestag representing the far-right Alternative for Germany party. Documents leaked to a consortium of European media outlets — documents that Mr. Frohnmaier has called fake — have suggested that Moscow aided his election campaign in order to have an “absolutely controlled MP.”

Mr. Ochsenreiter, for his part, has been implicated in Polish court in the financing of a 2018 firebombing attack on a Hungarian cultural center in Ukraine. The plot, according to testimony from a Polish extremist charged with carrying it out, was designed to pin responsibility on Ukrainian nationalists and stoke ethnic tensions, to Russia’s benefit. Mr. Ochsenreiter has not been charged in Poland, but prosecutors in Berlin said they had begun a preliminary investigation. He has denied involvement.

Mr. Suk declined to comment.

Then there is Nyheter Idag. Its founder, Chang Frick — a former Sweden Democrat official who takes a maverick’s glee in his defiance of orthodoxy — readily admits to being a paid contributor to RT. At a pizza shop near his home one afternoon, he pointedly noted that his girlfriend was Russian and, with a flourish, pulled out a wad of rubles from a recent trip.

“Here is my real boss! It’s Putin!” he laughed.

But Mr. Frick, the son of a Swedish Roma and a Polish Jew, said Nyheter Idag answered to no one, neither the Sweden Democrats nor the Kremlin, though he added that his relentless reporting about the problems posed by immigrants dovetailed with both their agendas.

“People can see what’s happening in the streets,” he said, adding, “I’ve been accused of being a racist — I’m being ‘paid by the Sweden Democrats,’ I’m ‘a spy for Russia.’ That just tells me I’m kicking where it hurts.”

Still, he said he had reason to believe that “there is a little bit of collusion between Russia and some Swedish right-wing media.” One of his early scoops involved exposing the drinking and womanizing shenanigans of a Sweden Democrat member of Parliament who had been invited to Moscow. During that reporting trip, he said, he was invited to serve as an independent observer in Russia’s presidential election and to meet Mr. Putin.

He declined the invitation.

There is another curious Russian common denominator: Six of Sweden’s alt-right sites have drawn advertising revenue from a network of online auto-parts stores based in Germany and owned by four businessmen from Russia and Ukraine, three of whom have adopted German-sounding surnames.

The ads were first noticed by the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, which discovered that while they appeared to be for a variety of outlets, all traced back to the same Berlin address and were owned by a parent company, Autodoc GmbH.

The Times found that the company had also placed ads on anti-Semitic and other extremist sites in Germany, Hungary, Austria and elsewhere in Europe.

Which raised a question: Was the auto-parts dealer simply trying to drum up business, or was it also trying to support the far-right cause?

Rikard Lindholm, co-founder of a data-driven marketing firm who has worked with Swedish authorities to combat disinformation, dug deeper into the Autodoc network.

Hidden beneath the user-friendly interface of some of the earliest Autodoc sites lay what Mr. Lindholm, an expert in the forensic analysis of online traffic, described as “icebergs” of blog-like content completely unrelated to auto parts, translated into a variety of languages. A visitor to one of the car-parts sites could not simply access this content from the home page; instead, one had to know and type in the full URL.

“It’s like they have a back door and it’s open and you can have a look around, but to do that you have to know that the door is there,” Mr. Lindholm said.

Much of the content was not political. But there were links to posts about a range of divisive social issues, some of them translated into other languages. One hidden link — about female genital mutilation in Muslim countries — had been translated from English to Polish before being posted. Yet another post, from a site called AnsweringIslam.net, concluded, “Islam hates you.”

Thomas Casper, a spokesman for Autodoc, said the company had no “interest at all in supporting alt-right media,” and added, “We vehemently oppose racism and far-right principles.”

He said the company’s digital advertising team worked with third parties to place ads on “trusted websites with substantial traffic.” Autodoc, he said, had instituted controls to try to ensure that it no longer advertised on far-right sites.

Autodocs has advertised on far-right sites in Sweden and elsewhere in Europe, including this Hungarian site which has a section devoted to Holocaust denialism.

As for the icebergs, after receiving The Times’s inquiry, the company removed what Mr. Casper called the “obviously dubious and outdated content.” It had originally been placed there, he said, to improve search engine optimization.

But Mr. Lindholm said that made no sense. “By linking to irrelevant content, it actually hurts their business because Google frowns on that,” he said.

Another way to look inside the explosive growth of Sweden’s alt-right outlets is to see who is linking to them. The more links, especially from well-trafficked outlets, the more likely Google is to rank the sites as authoritative. That, in turn, means that Swedes are more likely to see them when they search for, say, immigration and crime.

The Times analyzed more than 12 million available links from over 18,000 domains to four prominent far-right sites — Nyheter Idag, Samhallsnytt, Fria Tider and Nya Tider. The data was culled by Mr. Lindholm from two search engine optimization tools and represents a snapshot of all known links through July 2.

As expected, given the relative paucity of Swedish speakers worldwide, most of the links came from Swedish-language sites.

But the analysis turned up a surprising number of links from well-trafficked foreign-language sites — which suggests that the Swedish sites’ rapid growth has been driven to a significant degree from abroad.

“It has the makings, the characteristics, of an operation whose purpose or goal is to help these sites become relevant by getting them to be seen as widely as possible,” Mr. Lindholm said.

Over all, more than one in five links were from non-Swedish language sites. English-language sites, along with Norwegian ones, linked the most, nearly a million times. But other European-language far-right sites — Russian but also Czech, Danish, German, Finnish and Polish — were also frequent linkers.

The Times identified 356 domains that linked to all four Swedish sites.

Many are well known in American far-right circles. Among them is the Gatestone Institute, a think tank whose site regularly stokes fears about Muslims in the United States and Europe. Its chairman until last year was John R. Bolton, now Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, and its funders have included Rebekah Mercer, a prominent wealthy Trump supporter.

Other domains that linked to all four Swedish sites included Stormfront, one of the oldest and largest American white supremacist sites; Voice of Europe, a Kremlin-friendly right-wing site; a Russian-language blog called Sweden4Rus.nu; and FreieWelt.net, a site supportive of the AfD in Germany.

This loosely knit global network does not just help increase readership in Sweden; researchers have tracked how Russian state outlets like RT and Sputnik, along with Western platforms like Infowars and Breitbart, have picked up and amplified Swedish immigration-related stories to galvanize xenophobia among their audiences.

Bjorn Palmertz, a disinformation specialist at the Swedish Defense University, said this “information laundry” had resulted in globally viral stories like the one about the Swedish town that allowed a mosque to issue calls to prayer while denying a church’s application to ring its bells — never mind that the church had not applied.

“Sweden is portrayed either as a heaven or a hell,” said Annika Rembe, Sweden’s consul general in New York. “But conservative value-based politicians in Hungary, Poland, the United States and elsewhere would use Sweden as an example of a failed state: If you follow this path, your society will look like Sweden’s.”

The auditorium at Rinkebyskolan, a middle school across the street from Rinkeby’s town square, filled rapidly. Women wearing hijabs and burqas spilled in, taking their seats on the left. Men sat to the right. From the speakers came the voice of an imam reading from the Quran.

Developed as part of a 1960s-era government initiative to build a million affordable dwellings, Rinkeby was originally home to a mix of Swedes and laborers from southern Europe. Over time it became known as Sweden’s “Village of the World,” with people from more than 100 countries living in drab, low-slung apartment blocks. Today, more than 91 percent of Rinkeby’s roughly 16,400 residents are immigrants and their children.

Westlake Legal Group rinkeby-720 The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism United States Trump, Donald J Sweden Democrats Stormfront.org Stockholm (Sweden) Sputnik (Russian News Agency) Spencer, Richard B (1978- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT (TV Network) Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda project veritas Orban, Viktor Neo Nazi Groups Muslims and Islam Mercer, Rebekah A (1973- ) Law and Justice (Poland) Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements European Union Dugin, Alexander (1962- ) Conservative Political Action Conference Bolton, John R Asylum, Right of americans for prosperity Alternative for Germany

Lilla Vartan



Westlake Legal Group rinkeby-300 The Global Machine Behind the Rise of Far-Right Nationalism United States Trump, Donald J Sweden Democrats Stormfront.org Stockholm (Sweden) Sputnik (Russian News Agency) Spencer, Richard B (1978- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Russia Rumors and Misinformation RT (TV Network) Putin, Vladimir V Propaganda project veritas Orban, Viktor Neo Nazi Groups Muslims and Islam Mercer, Rebekah A (1973- ) Law and Justice (Poland) Immigration and Emigration Fringe Groups and Movements European Union Dugin, Alexander (1962- ) Conservative Political Action Conference Bolton, John R Asylum, Right of americans for prosperity Alternative for Germany

Lilla Vartan

By Jason Kao

At a long table in front of the auditorium sat Niclas Andersson, a towering man who serves as Rinkeby’s police chief. Once prayers concluded, the audience began peppering him with questions.

Some worried about drug trafficking inside the apartment complexes, others about the prevalence of guns. Could the police install more cameras?

To be sure, Mr. Andersson said in an interview afterward, there were problems in Rinkeby, his posting for 18 years. But it is hardly the hellscape that nationalists bent on painting Sweden as a failed state hold it out to be.

Many newcomers still struggle to get a foothold in the job market, so unemployment is relatively high, at 8.8 percent. And in the larger Rinkeby-Kista borough, there were 825 reported episodes of violent crime last year, a rate 36 percent higher per capita than Stockholm as a whole.

But Mr. Andersson does not recognize the Rinkeby portrayed in the movie — directed by a filmmaker who has shot political ads for Republicans in Congress — that led Mr. Trump to make his “last night in Sweden” remarks. Rinkeby is not a no-go zone, Mr. Andersson said, an assertion supported by the film’s chief cameraman, who has acknowledged that officers who seemed to suggest otherwise had been edited out of context.

In fact, the number of police officers in Rinkeby has more than quadrupled since 2015. Assaults and robberies are down, Mr. Andersson said. Fatal shootings are down, too — of 11 in Stockholm last year, one was in Rinkeby. Nationally, the violent crime rate is one-fifth that of the United States.

“It was a heavily slanted picture,” Mr. Andersson said. “You zero in on a couple of incidents, then use that to describe the whole area.”

By the time Mr. Trump zeroed in on Rinkeby, “the government was tackling the problems,” said Amela Mahovic, a local reporter for Swedish public television. When the actual clash broke out soon after, she said, community elders spread the word to local youths: “You need to stop this.”

But soon, they said, they found that outside forces wanted the world to see a different picture.

Guleed Mohamed, then a researcher for public television, said he had spoken to a reporting team from Russia and Ukraine in Rinkeby Square that week and had tried to ask about Russia.

“They changed the subject to how multiculturalism doesn’t work,” he recalled. “And then they quickly connected that to the clash — ‘I want to talk about the riot. Don’t you think this is connected to the influx of migrants?’”

Hani Al Saleh, a Syrian who came to Sweden as a teenager, was working as a guard in Rinkeby. Tall and muscular with a sculpted beard, Mr. Saleh is known as “Amo,” or uncle, by the local youth. He said three young immigrants he knew told him that Russian journalists had tried to bribe them with 400 kronor (about $43) apiece.

Hani Al Saleh, a guard in Rinkeby known as Amo, or uncle, by local youth, throwing his niece up in the air.CreditLoulou d’Aki for The New York Times

“Boys, do you want to do some action in front of the camera?” they said the Russian journalists asked them.

Mr. Saleh later took a Danish journalist to meet two of the young men. After searching online, they recognized the logo of the Russian state-owned news channel NTV, along with the Russians who had made the offer.

The journalist contacted NTV, which denied the whole thing. But besides Mr. Castillo, the night watchman, The Times found other witnesses who backed up Mr. Saleh’s account.

Elvir Kazinic and Mustafa Zatara said they were in the square a couple of days after the clash when they overheard another group of young men talking about Russian journalists and a 400 krona bribe to fight.

“To stoop to that level and offer kids money,” said Mr. Kazinic, a Bosnian émigré who serves on Rinkeby’s district council, “that is low.”

Mr. Zatara, a poet, knows well the consequences of stirring up anti-immigrant racism. His father, Hasan Zatara, a Palestinian, came to Sweden in 1969, earned a high school diploma and opened a convenience store.

Standing behind the cash register on a January afternoon 27 years ago, he became the final victim of John Ausonius, a serial shooter who terrorized immigrant communities, killing one person and wounding 10 others. Hasan Zatara was paralyzed.

Mr. Ausonius later said he was inspired by the anti-immigrant party of the day, New Democracy.

“When my father was shot in 1992, we had New Democracy,” Mustafa Zatara said. “Today we have the Sweden Democrats. Then, they wore bomber jackets and boots. Today, they wear bow ties and suits. It’s normalized now in the Swedish political corridor.”

After the commotion in Rinkeby died down, Russian news agencies kept calling the police, fruitlessly asking permission to ride with officers patrolling the district.

“This went on week in and week out,” said Varg Gyllander, the department’s press officer.

Last September, right after the Swedish elections, the requests abruptly stopped.

The Sweden Democrats had their best showing yet. Their nearly 18 percent share of the vote hamstrung Swedish politics, with the mainstream parties unable to form a government for more than four months.

The Social Democrats finally formed a shaky coalition that excluded the Sweden Democrats. But it came at a price: some prominent center-right politicians are now expressing a willingness to work with the Sweden Democrats, portending a new political alignment.

In February, the Sweden Democrats’ Mr. Karlsson strode into a Washington-area hotel where leaders of the American and European right were gathering for the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. As he settled in at the lobby bar, straightening his navy three-piece suit, he was clearly very much at home.

At the conference — where political boot-camp training mixed with speeches by luminaries like Mr. Trump and the British populist leader Nigel Farage — Mr. Karlsson hoped to learn about the infrastructure of the American conservative movement, particularly its funding and use of the media and think tanks to broaden its appeal. But in a measure of how nationalism and conservatism have merged in Mr. Trump’s Washington, many of the Americans with whom he wanted to network were just as eager to network with him.

Mr. Karlsson had flown in from Colorado, where he had given a speech at the Steamboat Institute, a conservative think tank. That morning, Tobias Andersson, 23, the Sweden Democrats’ youngest member of Parliament and a contributor to Breitbart, had spoken to Americans for Tax Reform, a bastion of tax-cut orthodoxy.

Now, they found themselves encircled by admirers like Matthew Hurtt, the director for external relationships at Americans for Prosperity, part of the billionaire Koch brothers’ political operation, and Matthew Tyrmand, a board member of Project Veritas, a conservative group that uses undercover filming to sting its targets.

Mr. Tyrmand, who is also an adviser to a senator from Poland’s anti-immigration ruling Law and Justice party, was particularly eager. “You are taking your country back!” he exclaimed.

Mr. Karlsson smiled.

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Russia Suffers an Unplanned Nuclear Event at Restricted Naval Base. They Call It Thursday

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Welp. I hate it when this happens.

Here are some thoughts on this.

If the Russian government is admitting it happened at this level, the actual level of the danger is exponentially higher.

Taking iodine does diddly for radiation exposure per se. Nothing does anything for radiation exposure. But a placebo is great for population management. During the Yom Kippur War, the Israelis captured Egyptian vehicles with USSR issued “anti-radiation pills.” They were essentially Dramamine and other substances that would block the symptoms of radiation poisoning right up until death.

This kind of slipshod management of conventional, chemical, and nuclear weapons is pretty much the day-in-day-out standard in Russia as it was in the USSR.

The explosion took place at a high priority base of the Russian Navy. This is going to impact readiness, though perhaps not so much as alcoholism, nepotism, and general incompetence.

Oh, yeah. Thoughts and prayers, tovarishchi.

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Bernie Voters Determined to Stop Russian Interference by Voting In Guy Who Vacationed In Soviet Russia


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Hilarity comes in many forms, and if you pay attention in politics, there’s nothing more hilarious than watching socialists unknowingly clown themselves.

During a rally for Sen. Bernie Sanders, the 2020 Democrat openly running as a socialist, the crowd began to chant out “Moscow Mitch” in reference to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel for his efforts to strike down a theatrical election security bill.

The reaction from the left has been to, oddly enough, label him in line with the Russians, a move McConnel calls “modern-day McCarthyism.”

But as socialists do, they’re not really thinking about the course of action they’re taking, and struck up the “Moscow Mitch” chant behind a man who not only supports old Russian philosophies of economics and government but a guy who used to vacation in Soviet Russia, northeast of Moscow.

Back in January, the O’Rourke campaign dug up an old video of Sanders on his honeymoon, shirtless and partying with Russians. For those of you who haven’t seen it yet, here’s shirtless Sanders singing “This Land Is Your Land.”


According to the NRO, around that same time, Sanders was meeting with communists and writing them friendly love letters while denouncing then-President Ronald Reagan who he suggested was under the control of corporations:

Sanders made further globe-trotting expeditions to socialist countries. He visited Cuba, scoring a meeting with Havana’s mayor. In 1985 he attended the celebrations marking the sixth anniversary of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. “In a letter addressed to the people of Nicaragua, penned in conjunction with that trip, Sanders denounced the activities of the Reagan administration, which he said was under the influence of large corporations,” the Guardian notes. “In the long run, I am certain that you will win,” Sanders wrote, “and that your heroic revolution against the Somoza dictatorship will be maintained and strengthened.” (The Sandinistas were ousted by Nicaragua’s voters in 1990).

So here we have the left, especially Sanders voters, trying to smear McConnell for rolling his eyes at a bill Democrats knew was going to fail but would elicit major reactions from the media by accusing him of being a Russian asset. Meanwhile, they’re cheering on a guy who is, for all intents and purposes, a Russian asset.

The irony here is hysterical.

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Putin: Maybe we should start new arms-control talks

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Will this new arms race end before it begins? Faced with the prospect of the US catching up to both Russia and China in land-based intermediate missile systems, Vladimir Putin called for new arms-limitation talks. After repeatedly abrogating the now-defunct INF treaty, the Russian strongman now wants to avoid “chaos”:

“If Russia obtains reliable information that the United States has finished developing these systems and started to produce them, Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles,” Putin said in a statement.

In the meantime, he said Russia’s arsenal of air and sea-launched missiles combined with its work on developing hypersonic missiles meant it was well placed to offset any threat emanating from the United States.

It was now essential, he added, for Moscow and Washington to resume arms control talks to prevent what he described as an “unfettered” arms race breaking out.

“In order to avoid chaos with no rules, restrictions or laws, we need to once more weigh up all the dangerous consequences and launch a serious and meaningful dialogue free from any ambiguity,” Putin said.

Forget the threat to escalate an arms race. For one thing, Russia triggered the arms race by already producing such systems. While our NATO partners might not have been enthusiastic about trashing the INF treaty, they all recognized that Russia has been ignoring it for years and that the US didn’t have much choice. All the US did in withdrawing from the INF was to adopt the same restrictions in theory that Putin has put into practice, which is to say none at all.

For another, the Russian economy can’t afford another arms race, especially with oil and gas prices as low as they are. The US pre-empted that option by becoming the world’s biggest oil exporter, and Russia’s now struggling to keep chaos from breaking out at home. Unrest over economic and political woes keeps rising, and Putin’s regime has to take tougher and tougher steps to keep its subjects in line.

And when Putin read this cheerleading for mass production of previously banned systems in the New York Times, that had to get his attention:

For six years, American diplomats patiently tried to persuade the Russians to honor the agreement, but Russia ignored the United States and NATO allies while building and deploying more than 100 of the banned missiles. Even more worrisome, China, which was never part of the bilateral treaty and repeatedly declined to join it, started in the 1990s to assemble a huge missile force explicitly designed to counter American strengths. China now has thousands of missiles armed with conventional and nuclear warheads. These precise and deadly missiles are capable of attacking ships at sea and bases ashore, not only throughout the territory of America’s allies in Asia, but also far out at sea and on American territory in Alaska, Guam and the Northern Marianas.

Lacking conventionally armed, ground-launched missiles with which to attack enemy forces, or sufficient defenses against China or Russia’s conventionally armed, ground-launched missiles, American forces routinely lose war game simulations involving China or Russia, and could lose a real war.

So the United States needs to acquire its own conventionally armed, ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles. These missiles could provide considerable operational benefits for United States forces and pose challenges to adversaries. If operated from American territory and the territory of allies, these weapons could quickly attack enemy targets once they are detected. Moreover, by using these missiles to strike heavily defended targets and the systems that protect them, the risks to manned aircraft and ships could be reduced.

This new capability would make American forces more effective and could deter Chinese, Russian or other adversary leaders from aggressive actions. Lastly, by arming these missiles with only conventional warheads, the United States could reduce the possibility that enemy forces would confuse these weapons with nuclear ones and mitigate the concerns that led to the original I.N.F. Treaty. It could also provide the United States with an opportunity to negotiate a treaty with China, Russia and other countries that would ban nuclear-armed, ground-launched, intermediate-range missiles.

The game has already changed, and changed quickly. Before Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo scotched the INF treaty on Friday, the official Putin line was that there wasn’t anything to discuss. Now, suddenly, Putin’s worried about “chaos” and “no restrictions.” That’s at least one step toward realigning the incentives.

Furthermore, it’s worth pointing out how this is being received by the other major signal-target of that withdrawal from the INF. The South China Morning Post, largely seen as the voice of official Beijing, saw Putin’s statement as a plea for new talks:

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday urged the United States to begin new arms talks after the collapse of a cold war nuclear pact between the two world powers. …

Russia “will not deploy them in relevant regions until American-made missiles are deployed there,” Putin said.

Unless there are new talks about strategic security, “this scenario means restarting an uncontrolled arms race,” he added.

US Defence Secretary Mark Esper said at the weekend that he would like to deploy the new intermediate-range missiles in Asia, but denied that this would spark an arms race as the weapons are not nuclear.

China has been developing similar systems all along as it was not a party to the INF treaty. The Trump administration wants China bound in any new compact, however, and it’s clear that the dispute has Beijing’s attention. A threat to deploy such systems in Asia will have Xi Jinping looking for containment of the US threat, and might lead him to put pressure on Putin to eliminate the 9M729 system that triggered the US withdrawal. That’s precisely the leverage the US sought, and it’s in everyone’s best interest to have Xi deploy it — even Putin’s.

The post Putin: Maybe we should start new arms-control talks appeared first on Hot Air.

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