New Integrity Initiative leak: Make Muslims love NATO, target anti-frackers, plan for nuclear war

A new batch of leaked files from the covert influence network exposes how the Integrity Initiative recruits high-flying businessmen for intel ops, shows UK Muslims “why NATO matters” and prepares for nuclear conflict with Russia.

With the UK Foreign Office and NATO-backed organization still //medium.com/@hitthehybrid/kremlin-campaign-against-institute-for-statecraft-92aa73ce4ec9" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reeling from previous leaks whose authenticity it has not attempted to disprove, the fifth tranche of internal communications was uploaded to a public server this week under the name of hacktivist group Anonymous.

As before, it features the London-based group clandestinely meddling in various areas of civilian life for the benefit of its own undeclared objectives.

Also on rt.com Integrity Initiative wipes website pending probe into ‘theft’ of disturbing leaked data...

Top business executives on ‘patriot’ list

The Integrity Initiative’s network of loyal journalists and academics has already been uncovered, but “speaking notes” for an address given in Israel in the summer of 2018 by its director, Daniel Lafayeedney, show that its scope of intelligence asset recruitment is much broader.

Additionally, his words blow apart the group’s half-hearted assertions that it is not a branch of military intelligence by another name, but simply a public organization fighting Russian disinformation.

Also on rt.com Integrity Initiative’s anti-Russia crusaders spread ‘the very definition of propaganda’...

“We have supported the creation of special Army reserve units (e.g. 77 Bde and SGMI – Specialist Group Military Intelligence) with which we now have a close, informal relationship,” the document says.

“These bring in, as reservists with a special status, individuals who are very senior civilian experts in some relevant area, such as Hedge Fund managers, senior bankers, Heads of PA companies, etc. I.e. people whom the Army could never afford to hire, but who donate their time and expertise as patriots.”

Elsewhere, Lafayeedney, who calls the Integrity Initiative not a “think tank” but a “do tank,” boasts that its work is “very sensitive as we feed it into the highest levels of MOD [Ministry of Defence] and the armed forces.”

Among the dozens of “patriots” listed in the leak are Ian Cohen, managing director at HSBC Global Asset Management, Phil Jolley, “executive partner at IBM and the UK national lead on ‘Blockchain’ technologies” and start-up adviser Ren Kapoor, MBE, whose mission within “the project” is “to provide advice and training to NGOs on budgeting, legal compliance and a range of issues with which they need to comply in order to remain legal and to survive financially.”

‘Investigating’ Russian funding recipients

A document called “Finding the money” outlines an apparent plan to “target” organizations in the West which were recipients of funding from Russia, even if they did not in any way break the law.

“If we can identify a likely target (eg a university with an anti-fracking agenda) they will run this as an academic exercise, an experiment. The behaviour of an organisation may help identify it as a suitable target to investigate. Universities can sometimes be very untransparent re their funding,” says the document, which apparently was formed from a discussion involving the aforementioned Ian Cohen, and Perry Fawcett, a prominent executive also on the “patriot” list.

“Money coming out of Russian corporations is likely to reach its destination through a blue chip company. Look at which Russian companies have shares in which UK companies. Also look at eg Russia buying the port in Herzogovina; the potential for it becoming a Naval base,” the document states.

The authors themselves appear to be wary of the ethical and legal implications of attacking legitimate institutions, as well as basing their work on little more than unauthorized sleuthing.

Also on rt.com Integrity Initiative is the biggest story of 2018 – but not because of anything it did...

“The biggest danger is making the answer fit the question, ie finding what you are looking for when it really isn’t there. Would damage our reputation,” the document reads, as if its very existence isn’t an indictment of the Integrity Initiative.

Straight-faced discussion of post-nuclear conflict with Russia

It is not inherently morally dubious to analyze possible conflict scenarios. But leaked minutes from what appears to be a high-powered “joint workshop” for the Institute for Statecraft (the Integrity Initiative’s parent organization, and the Center for Naval Analyses – the top Pentagon-affiliated military think tank) show a readiness to contemplate a possible full-scale nuclear war with Russia that would be hair-raising even for Cold War veterans.

One of the most alarming aspects is the apparent overstatement of Russia’s hostile intent within this bubble – believing that your enemy wants to destroy you justifies almost any action from your own side, and leads to a mutual escalation of mistrust.

Also on rt.com Senators propose change of doctrine so Russia could respond with nukes to any ‘strategic strike’...

“The reality of the Russian nuclear doctrine is that it will not back down. Especially after the amount Russia has invested, how much core Russian capital is tied into nuclear capabilities,” reads the assessment of Moscow’s nuclear policy, formulated in the aftermath of the Russian Zapad exercises in 2017, which provoked an outburst of fearmongering in the West.

“Where the West would eventually bring enough forces to push a Russian advance back [in case of a localized conflict], in that push. There would be an assessment, and the conclusion would be that regime change was in motion – It is widely believed, in that instance, they would resort to nuclear weapons.”

The most chilling part of the assessment is not just the apparent readiness to deploy the West's own weapons of mass destruction, but the logical jump to post-nuclear war combat.

“War games usually start with Russia about to, or using a nuclear weapon. We need to think about, what is Russia’s response after using a nuclear weapon,” it continues.

A saner voice might have replied that it may matter little, as by that point most people in Washington, London, and Moscow will already be dead. Are they really ready to contemplate mutual destruction for the sake of defeating the Kremlin?

‘Ignorant’ Muslims must be taught to ‘appreciate’ NATO

Here is the problem, as described by the author of a background paper from the Why NATO matters “educational” project.

“NATO’s involvement in Muslim majority countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, is interpreted by the vast majority of Muslims as NATO’s simply being hostile to Islam and Muslims per se,” says the author, partially putting such qualms down to “ignorance.”

Also on rt.com Use Hollywood films to counter China & Russia: Integrity Initiative psyop plan exposed in new leaks...

Instead, the author says, Muslims, particularly young representatives from the UK’s ethnic minorities, who are already considered “problematic,” should be taught about “NATO as an international intervention body that engages to prevent wars and conflicts and plays an important role in mediation and to bring lasting peace.”

The solution: cultivating influence with “community leaders and trusted youth workers” and sponsoring a series of supposedly open-ended workshops across the UK that discuss subjects from Sharia law to acceptable dress codes, but are in essence aimed at defusing the “tensions, fear, mistrust and hatred” of the military alliance. Chosen Muslim scholars and leaders are also to be brought out to the “safe space” of the NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“People will be encouraged to talk to their friends and families about their understanding of NATO’s role in global conflicts, including humanitarian aid in natural disaster zones,” the author states.

The paper suggests that the influencing effort is already underway, but appeals for the creation of a “well-resourced programme” that will bring about “a long-term appreciation of NATO.”

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House passes bill preventing Trump from leaving NATO, tells allies to start pulling weight

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to prevent President Donald Trump from withdrawing the country from NATO, but called on European allies to pay their dues – just like Trump has demanded.

The bipartisan NATO Support Act was passed on Tuesday in a 357-22 vote that reiterated US commitment to the military bloc and included a provision that rejects any effort made by the president to withdraw from it, banning funding for such actions.

“It’s crazy that we have to be introducing this bill. But it is, unfortunately, both necessary and urgent,”said Rep. Tom Malinowski, one of the Democratic co-sponsors of the bill. “I believe it’s necessary that I take the president of the United States seriously. President Trump has made no secret of his disdain for NATO and his willingness to consider leaving it.”

Also on rt.com Trump wants out of NATO: A gift to Russia, or a gift to Germany?...

On the campaign trail and during his presidency, Trump repeatedly criticized NATO, saying the organization allowed other members to take advantage of American generosity and enjoy protection it offers without sharing the burden. The US is by far the biggest contributor to the alliance in terms of finances and soldiers carrying out its missions.

Among other NATO allies, few meet the benchmark two percent of GDP that they are required to spend on defense, which is a commitment that all members made. On many occasions, Trump demanded that this slight was addressed.

The new bill makes the same demand, but Rep. Jimmy Panetta, who spearheaded the legislation, insists it is not like those made by the president.

“What we have to realize is that NATO is not just a transactional relationship,” he said, adding that the focus “can’t just be on who pays what and who gets what. Being a member of NATO is not like being a member of a country club.”

Also on rt.com Putin is the ‘greatest gift’ to NATO since end of Cold War – ex-CIA head Petraeus...

In their statements on the bill, several lawmakers stressed NATO’s role in defending Europe from ‘aggression by Russia.’ This perceived threat has been used to justify an increased military presence of NATO troops close to Russia’s border and regular exercises on a scale unseen since the Cold War. Russia is responding with additional deployments of troops in the west of the country and exercises of its own.

NATO’s uncontrolled expansion eastwards, contrary to verbal assurances made to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, made Moscow increasingly suspicious of the West’s actions and caused it to spend a lot of resources modernizing its armed forces and boosting its nuclear deterrence over the past two decades.

This policy is now cited as the reason why NATO is necessary. Retired US four-star general David Petraeus recently called it “the greatest gift” the bloc could receive.

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Putin is the ‘greatest gift’ to NATO since end of Cold War — ex-CIA head Petraeus

Russia successfully ‘breathed new life’ into NATO by giving it a reason to boost military expansion into Eastern Europe and strengthen the US foothold on the continent, ex-CIA boss, retired four-star general David Petraeus said.

Russia singlehandedly gave the American-led military bloc “a new reason for living,” the former general told the audience at an international conference in New Delhi, India on Wednesday.

Petraeus stressed that Moscow prompted the alliance to deploy more troops and aircraft into Eastern Europe and the Baltic States as well as set up new command HQs in the region.

Putin is the ‘greatest gift’ to NATO since end of Cold War — ex-CIA head Petraeus

It was done under the pretext of fighting ‘Russian aggression’ as relations between NATO and Moscow steadily deteriorated during the presidency of Vladimir Putin. In that sense, Putin is “the greatest gift” NATO has received since the conclusion of the Cold War, the American general said.

He also ‘credited’ the Russian leader for providing the US with the rationale to return an armored brigade to Europe “for the first time in a number of years.” It is currently stationed in Poland.

The former CIA head told the audience that despite the occasional tensions between the US President Donald Trump and NATO, Washington remains the “backbone” of the alliance as its chief armed force and financial backer.

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In recent years, the US and its allies have been boosting military might in Europe, citing the need to deter Moscow following the Ukrainian crisis and the accession of Crimea into Russia. This strategy led to the increase of the number of combat-ready troops and large-scale military drills near the nation’s borders.

The Kremlin, in turn, had been blasting NATO’s continued expansion eastward. Russian politicians said that the growing militarization of the region undermines European security and may lead to destabilization in the region.

Four-star General David Petraeus was considered to be one of the most influential military policy-makers in the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Before being appointed the head of the CIA, he led the US Central Command.

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Syrian Army Enters Manbij as YPG Withdraws, Asks for Protection

Syria's state media reported the army has entered the city of Manbij, hours after the YPG urged the government to protect the city of a Turkish "invasion."

The Syrian army deployed forces to the city of Manbij in northwest Syria Friday, after the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) retreated from the area and urged Damascus to protect the town from the threat of a Turkish “invasion.”

RELATED: Turkish Forces Bound for Kurdish-Held Territory in Syria

According to state media SANA, Syrian forces raised the national flag in Manbij, while authorities expressed their commitment to guarantee “security for all Syrian citizens and others in the area.”

The announcement was made hours after YPG forces “invited” the Syrian government to assert control over the territory that lies only 30 kilometers away from the border with Turkey.

“We invite the Syrian government forces to assert control over the areas our forces have withdrawn from, in particularly Manbij, and to protect these areas against a Turkish invasion,” the YPG said via Twitter.

Russia has welcomed the move.

"Of course, this will help in stabilizing the situation. The enlargement of the zone under the control of government forces ... is, without doubt, a positive trend," Dmitry Peskov, a Kremlin spokesman, said.

With the YPG at its forefront, the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance (SDF) seized Manbij in 2016 from Islamic State, a milestone in the battle against the group.

United States President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Syria has alarmed the Kurdish-led fighters who played a crucial role in fighting the Islamic State group. U.S. military support for the Kurdish fighters has infuriated Turkey, a fellow member of the  North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO alliance, which sees the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) movement that has sought greater political autonomy within Turkey for decades.

RELATED: Syrian Anti-Aircraft Defense Repels Israeli Missiles

Turkey, which deems the YPG a threat to its own territory and has vowed to crush it. In mid-December, Turkey threatened a military operation against Manbij to remove the YPG. Turkey and its allied fighters have been amassing troops around the city in recent days.

A Turkish-backed rebel official, Major Youssef Hammoud, said the plan to attack SDF territory remained in force. "There is no Syrian soldier inside Manbij town from the regime's forces." He said his forces were waiting for Washington and Ankara to agree on how U.S. forces would leave Manbij.

On Friday, Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan said Turkey will have no reason to be in Manbij if the "zone is purged of terrorist organizations." Erodgan also said during the same press conference that reports of Syrian troops in Manjib were unconfirmed by Turkey’s intelligence. “There is nothing certain,” he said.

Russian and Turkish authorities will discuss and evaluate the situation in Syria during a meeting in Moscow, scheduled for Saturday.

A senior Kurdish official, Ilham Ahmed, reportedly told the Associated Press that government troops have arrived but have not entered the city. According to her, Turkey-backed fighters have not withdrawn from Manbij. Ahmen added that an agreement is being worked out between the Russian and Syrian governments to allow Syrian to take over if the U.S. follows through with the announced withdrawal, for which there is no set timeline.

"The aim is to ward off a Turkish offensive," she said. "If the Turks' excuse is the (Kurdish fighters), they will leave their posts to the government."

Bashar al-Assad's government has said it welcomes the Kurdish group returning under the central government’s authority but it has also warned they will not consider the possibility of a Kurdish autonomous area.

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Exit of trusted Mattis sparks concern among U.S. allies

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Key allies of Washington expressed concern on Friday about the resignation of U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the policies of President Donald Trump that prompted it, praising Mattis as a committed partner.

Mattis said on Thursday he would quit after falling out with Trump over the latter’s foreign policies, including the surprise decision to pull troops out of Syria and plans for a drawdown in Afghanistan.

“Secretary Mattis has made a key contribution to keeping NATO strong and ready to deal with the significant security challenges we face,” NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said. “He is widely respected as a soldier and a diplomat.”

Mattis has been seen in Europe as firmly committed to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military alliance, unlike his ex-boss.

Trump has warned European allies the United States could withdraw its support unless they boost defense spending.

“We are grateful for the iron-clad commitment of the United States to NATO. U.S. leadership keeps our transatlantic alliance strong,” Lungescu said.

Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, head of the liberals in the European Parliament, said the resignation only made it more urgent for the European Union to push on with its plans to bolster its own defense capabilities.

“Mattis checked President Trump’s worst instincts & was a strong supporter of NATO & multilateralism. His departure is bad news & makes it look like (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s plan is being delivered on,” Verhofstadt said on Twitter.

MACRON FAILS TO PERSUADE

Mattis’ resignation also sparked concern among Washington’s Asia-Pacific allies, who credit the retired general with building trust and tempering isolationist impulses.

The region includes strong U.S. allies Japan, South Korea and Australia and has some of the world’s most volatile flashpoints, with high tension on the Korean peninsula and China’s militarization of the South China Sea causing friction.

The resignation also surprised Kabul, where the retired Marine had been seen as a guarantor of U.S. engagement. Afghan officials reacted with unease to plans to withdraw more than 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in the country.

After being tipped off by White House sources and diplomats, French President Emmanuel Macron called Trump on Tuesday to warn him against the Syria decision, a French official said.

“He told him: Be careful, we think that would be a bit too early’,” the official said.

Macron has often been cast as the one leader who had some influence on Trump, with a good personal and working relationship.

French Defence Minister Florence Parly said Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria in the belief that Islamic State (ISIS) had been defeated was “extremely grave”.

“We do not share the analyses that the territorial caliphate has been annihilated,” Parly said on RTL radio. “It’s an extremely grave decision and we think ... the job must be finished.”

German Defense Minister Ursula Von der Leyen called for clarity on future policies.

“Because the United States has such a prominent role and responsibility in the global security architecture, it is important for everyone to quickly get clarity about succession and the future course,” she said in a statement.

 

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Russia Warns NATO Against Provoking Third World War

Members of the NATO-Russia Council have only met three times in the last two years and when they have, NATO focuses strictly on Ukraine.

On Thursday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to avoid taking steps that may lead to a third World War.

RELATED: Lavrov: US Trying to Establish Mini-State in Syria

Lavrov was unequivocal about the prospects of war, “I believe everyone will be wise enough to prevent that. However, we are certainly very much concerned about the total absence of any professional dialogue between the Russian military and NATO.”

Members of the NATO-Russia Council have only met three times in the last two years and when they have, NATO focuses strictly on Ukraine and “attempts were made to use the NATO-Russia Council as another tool to blame all mortal sins on us, and another way of satisfying the whims of our Ukrainian neighbors who dream of sanctions being endlessly perpetuated and want nothing more than Russia to always be subject to intense criticisms.”

United States' influence over NATO is a factor that Russia considers to be a determinant in the organization’s behavior. “So, look at this situation. I believe it is absurd to remain hostage to US legislator’s whims,” the minister added.

Lavrov's statement comes at a time when there have been military accidents in the region — such as the accidental shooting of a missile by a Spanish fighter jet in Estonia due to NATO activities — in addition to NATO member countries' intention to hold naval drills in the Sea of Azov bordering Russia’s eastern coast, which according to Lavrov, would require the Federation’s permission.

In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has stated that the United States is making the colossal mistake of countries that treat themselves as "empires," by imposing sanctions on countries around the world.

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Bombing to protect? RT documentary looks at reality of NATO’s attack on Yugoslavia (VIDEO)

NATO's Secretary General has boldly defended the alliance’s 1999 bombing of former Yugoslavia as an act of humanitarianism, despite the dubious motives and devastating aftermath. RT took a more thorough look at the conflict.

Jens Stoltenberg told a group of students from Belgrade University that NATO bombed their country to “protect civilians and to stop the Milosevic regime,” adding that many Serbs have an incomplete picture of the bombing campaign.

But the truth may be a bit more complicated – and less flattering.

To mark the 15th anniversary of the bombing campaign, in 2014 two RT journalists – Anissa Naouai and Jelena Milincic – travelled across the former Yugoslavia and met with people who survived the 3-month bombing. In the process, they revealed the very different ways in which the war was portrayed – and perceived – in Serbia and abroad.

ЗАШТО? WHY? Revisiting NATO atrocities in Yugoslavia after 15 yrs (Part 1)

ЗАШТО? WHY? Revisiting NATO atrocities in Yugoslavia after 15 yrs (Part 2)

In contrast to Stoltenberg’s rosy description of the bombing campaign, Naouai and Milincic’s resulting documentary about their journey, ЗАШТО? (Why?), presents the unsettling truths about a 78-day bombardment that left hundreds of civilians dead.

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Skripal poisoning: No info in records about decorated colonel Chepiga, says Kremlin

Russian records have neither information about a Colonel Anatoly Chepiga nor about such a person being awarded the highest national merit, said a Kremlin spokesman. A report by Bellingcat said the man is a Skripal case suspect.

Bellingcat is a controvercial UK-based group which is connected to projects financed by NATO and known mostly for compiling various public data to back various accusations against Russia.

The group this week said they conclusively identified Ruslan Bosharov, one of the two men accused in Britain of poisoning former double agent Sergei Skripal in March, as Anatoly Chepiga, a commando colonel, who has the merit of ‘Hero of Russia’ among his decorations. According to the Kremlin, there are no records of a person with that name receiving the award.

“We have checked. I have no information about a man with that name being awarded,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

The merit is usually awarded during a ceremony by the President of Russia. Bellingcat argued that Vladimir Putin must know Chepiga personally and that implied that his vouching for Boshirov and his fellow suspect Aleksandr Petrov was done in bad faith. Putin made public assurances that the two men were civilians and had nothing to do with any criminal activity.

 
  Composition of photos of an Anatoly Chepiga and Ruslan Boshirov by Bellingcat.

 

Speaking about the case on Friday, Peskov said Russia was tired of the unending media speculations about the case and was calling on Britain to cooperate with Russia on the investigation through proper channels.

“All those speculations about who resembles whom. You know, we have a dozen of Stalins and 15 Lenins running around the Red Square, and each of them looks a lot like the original,” he said.

Bellingcat’s identification relies on what it called a resemblance between an old photo of Chepiga and a younger Borshirov. The group used the strategy to pinpoint Chepiga by creating a profile of a would-be assassin and finding a person in Russia to fit it.

From the start of the investigation Britain insisted that the poisoning of Skripal and his daughter in March was a state-ordered chemical weapons attack by Russia. London claimed it had evidence which identified Boshirov and Petrov as agents of Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU, but would not disclose it to the public.

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