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Grassley’s, Lindsey Graham’s referral on Steele: did US media, Clinton campaign provide content for Trump Dossier?

Heavily redacted referral memo suggests US media, Clinton associates, had a hand in producing Trump Dossier

Alexander Mercouris

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Hot on the heels of the publication of the GOP memorandum (discussed by me here) has come another potentially even more extraordinary development in the Russiagate scandal.

This is the publication of a massively redacted version of the referral sent by Senators Grassley and Lindsey Graham to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein requesting that the Justice Department consider whether a criminal prosecution of Christopher Steele, the compiler of the Trump Dossier, should be brought.

The Senators’ referral or memorandum is so heavily redacted (whole paragraphs have been entirely blacked out) that it is exceptionally difficult to follow, and any analysis of it must be treated as strictly provisional pending release of a less heavily redacted version.

However what can be read from the Senators’ memorandum is disturbing enough.

Moreover it is now clear that over and above the lies Christopher Steele is alleged by the GOP memorandum to have told to the FBI about his contacts with the media, the Senators’ concerns and their referral to Rosenstein extend to the content of the Trump Dossier itself.

In order to show how this is so I am going to set out the Senators’ memorandum in its entirety.  Given that the published version of this document is so incomplete, it seems to me that it might potentially distort it even further if I simply published extracts from it.

MEMORANDUM

FROM:

Charles E. Grassley, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on the JudiciaryLindsey 0. Graham, Chairman, Subcommittee on Crime ~nd Terrorism,U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary

TO:

The Honorable Rod J. Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of JusticeThe Honorable Christopher A. Wray, Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

RE:  Referral of Christopher Steele for Potential Violation of 18 U.S. C. § 1001

(1) As you know, former British Intelligence Officer Christopher Steele was hired by the private firm Fusion GPS in June 2016 to gather information about “links between Russia and [then-presidential candidate] Donald Trump.”  Pursuant to that business arrangement, Mr. Steele prepared a series of documents styled as intelligence reports, some of which were later compiled into a “dossier” and published by BuzzFeed in January 2017.  On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia.  According to the law firm Perkins Cole, Mr. Steele’s dossier-related efforts were funded through Fusion GPS by that law firm on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton Campaign.

(2) In response to reporting by the Washington Post about………….the Judiciary Committee began raising a series of questions to the FBI and the Justice Department about these matters as part of the Committee’s constitutional oversight responsibilities.

(3) The FBI has since provided the Committee access to classified documents relevant to the…………… As explained in greater detail below, when information in those classified documents is evaluated in light of sworn statements by Mr. Steele in British litigation, it appears that either Mr. Steele lied to the FBI or the British court, or that the classified documents reviewed by the Committee contain materially false statements.

(4) In response to the Committee’s inquiries, the Chairman and Ranking Member received a briefing on March 15, 2017, from then-Director James B. Corney, Jr.

(5) ………….

…..………….

(6)………….

….………….

(7) Similarly, in June 2017, former FBI Director Corney testified publicly before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that he had briefed President-Elect Trump on the dossier allegations in January 2017, which Mr. Corney described as “salacious” and “unverified.”

(8) ………….

…..…………

(9)………….

……………..

(10)………..

……………..

(11)………..

…………….

(12) But there is substantial evidence suggesting that Mr. Steele materially misled the FBI about a key aspect of his dossier efforts, one which bears on his credibility.

(13)………..

……………..

(14)………..

……………..

(15)………..

……………..

(16)………..

……………..

(17)………..

……………..

(18) However, public reports, court filings, and information obtained by the Committee during witness interviews in the course of its ongoing investigation indicate that Mr. Steele……provided dossier information……..to numerous media organizations prior to the end of…….October 2016.

(19) In Steele’s sworn court filings in litigation in London, he admitted that he “gave off the record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda [i.e., the dossier] in late summer/autumn 2016.” In another sworn filing in that case, Mr. Steele further stated that journalists from “the New York Times, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN” were “briefed at the end of September 2016 by [Steele] and Fusion at Fusion’s instruction.” The filing further states that Mr. Steele “subsequently participated in further meetings at Fusion’s instruction with Fusion and the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Yahoo News, which took place mid-October 2016.” According to these court filings,”[t]he briefings involved the disclosure of limited intelligence regarding indications of Russian interference in the US election process and the possible co-ordination of members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian government officials.” In his interview with the Committee, Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS confirmed this account by Mr. Steele and his company as filed in the British court.

(20) ….……..

….…………..

(21)…………

………………

(22)…………

………………

(23) Mr. Steele conducted his work for Fusion GPS compiling the “pre-election memoranda” “[b]etween June and early November 2016.”  In the British litigation, Mr. Steele acknowledged briefing journalists about the dossier memoranda “in late summer/autumn 2016.”  Unsurprisingly, during the summer of 2016, reports of at least some of the dossier allegations began circulating among reporters and people involved in Russian issues.  Mr. Steele also admitted in the British litigation to briefing journalists from the Washington Post, Yahoo News, the New Yorker, and CNN in September of 2016.  Simply put, the more people who contemporaneously knew that Mr. Steele was compiling his dossier, the more likely it was vulnerable to manipulation. In fact, in the British litigation, which involves a post-election dossier memorandum, Mr. Steele admitted that he received and included in it unsolicited – and unverified – allegations.  That filing implies that he similarly received unsolicited intelligence on these matters prior to the election as well, stating that Mr. Steele “continued to receive unsolicited intelligence on the matters covered by the pre-election memoranda after the US Presidential election.“

(24) ………….

……………….

(25) One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges…………, as well as……….. Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company “received this report from……US State Department,” that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who “is in touch with….., a contact of….., a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to….. .” It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

(26)…………

……………..

(27)…… ….

…………….

(28) On September 23, 2016, Yahoo News published its article entitled “U.S. Intel Officials Probe Ties Between Trump Adviser and Kremlin.”  That article described claims about meetings between Carter Page and Russians, including Igor Sechin. Mr. Sechin is described in the article as “a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister” under sanction by the Treasury Department in response to Russia’s actions in the Ukraine.  The article attributes the information to “a well-placed Western intelligence source,” who reportedly said that “[a]t their alleged meeting, Sechin raised the issue of the lifting of sanctions with Page.” This information also appears in multiple “memoranda” that make up the dossier.

(29) In sum, around the same time Yahoo News published its article containing dossier information about Carter Page, Mr. Steele and Fusion GPS had briefed Yahoo News and other news outlets about information contained in the dossier.

(29)…………

………..…….

(30)..………..

……………..

(31) Accordingly, we are referring Christopher Steele to the Department of Justice for investigation of potential violation(s) of 18 U.S.8. § 1001.

(all italics and bold lettering in the original; paragraph numbers added)

I have added paragraph numbers to make it easier to find my citations from the Senators’ memorandum.  I have also deleted the very extensive notes and references that can be found at the bottom of the pages of the original Senators’ memorandum.  These are probably as important as the text of the Senators’ memorandum itself.  However in its present heavily redacted form they make the Senators’ memorandum appear even more difficult to follow than it already is.  The notes and references can be found in a PDF of the original of the Senators’ memorandum, which can been seen by following this link.

The most important words in the Senators’ memorandum are in my opinion these

…….On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia…..

(from paragraph 1)

……..Simply put, the more people who contemporaneously knew that Mr. Steele was compiling his dossier, the more likely it was vulnerable to manipulation. In fact, in the British litigation, which involves a post-election dossier memorandum, Mr. Steele admitted that he received and included in it unsolicited – and unverified – allegations.  That filing implies that he similarly received unsolicited intelligence on these matters prior to the election as well, stating that Mr. Steele “continued to receive unsolicited intelligence on the matters covered by the pre-election memoranda after the US Presidential election.“

(from paragraph 23)

One memorandum by Mr. Steele that was not published by Buzzfeed is dated October 19, 2016. The report alleges…………, as well as……….. Mr. Steele’s memorandum states that his company “received this report from……US State Department,” that the report was the second in a series, and that the report was information that came from a foreign sub-source who “is in touch with….., a contact of….., a friend of the Clintons, who passed it to….. .” It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

(paragraph 25)

The wording in paragraph 1 appears to cast doubt on the extent to which the Trump’s Dossier really is based on Russian sources (…….On the face of the dossier, it appears that Mr. Steele gathered much of his information from Russian government sources inside Russia…..);

The wording in paragraph 23 appears to say that because information from the Trump Dossier was being published by the media at the same time that the Trump Dossier was being compiled Christopher Steele, pressure increased on Steele from people who had thereby learnt of the Trump Dossier’s existence to include in the Trump Dossier information Steele has himself admitted was ‘unsolicited’ and ‘unverified’. It seems that some of this information was in fact included in it.

It is not at all clear who these people who the Senators say gave Steele this ‘unsolicited’ and ‘unverified’ information were, but the wording of the entirety of paragraph 23 suggests that some of them at least were people working in the US media.

If so, then the US media had a hand in the creation of the Trump Dossier.

The wording in paragraph 25 has attracted the most attention, with suggestions – eg, from Byron York – that the ‘unpublished entry’ of 19th October 2016 may refer to the compilation I have previously referred to as the ‘second Trump Dossier’ the existence of which was revealed by the Guardian in a recent article.

There are strong reasons to think this is correct.

The Guardian has said that Steele provided this ‘second Trump Dossier’ to the FBI in October 2016.

That corresponds closely with the date of the ‘unpublished entry’ referred to in paragraph 25, which is dated 19th October 2016;

Paragraph 25 says the this ‘unpublished entry’ refers to a report which was ‘the second in a series’.

This shows that there was more than one report and that they formed a series, which clearly points to the existence of a second dossier.   That plausibly is the ‘second Trump Dossier’ referred to by the Guardian.

Though paragraph 25 is heavily redacted, it seems that the report upon which Steele based his unpublished of 19th October 2016 entry was sourced to “a friend of the Clintons”.

That closely matches Cody Shearer, the person whom the Guardian says was the person who was responsible for the ‘second Trump Dossier’.

Byron York has set out the convoluted way in which the report from the ‘second Trump Dossier’ reached Christopher Steele

According to the referral, Steele wrote the additional memo based on anti-Trump information that originated with a foreign source. In a convoluted scheme outlined in the referral, the foreign source gave the information to an unnamed associate of Hillary and Bill Clinton, who then gave the information to an unnamed official in the Obama State Department, who then gave the information to Steele. Steele wrote a report based on the information, but the redacted version of the referral does not say what Steele did with the report after that.

Byron York has also dropped a heavy hint about who were the people involved

Published accounts in the Guardian and the Washington Post have indicated that Clinton associate Cody Shearer was in contact with Steele about anti-Trump research, and Obama State Department official Jonathan Winer was a connection between Steele and the State Department during the 2016 campaign.

What paragraph 25 says, especially when it is read in combination with paragraph 23, gives rise to deep concern.

Paragraph 23 says that as news that Steele was compiling the Trump Dossier spread he came under growing pressure to include in it “unsolicited” and “unverified” information from a variety of different sources.

Though given the way in which the Senators’ memorandum has been redacted it is hard to be sure, it looks as if the unpublished entry of 19th October 2016 was one of the products of this pressure, with a ‘friend of the Clintons” (Cody Shearer?) directly implicated on this occasion as a source.

Moreover it seems that the US State Department – which was once headed by Hillary Clinton – was somehow involved.

The Senators do not hesitate to spell out the implications of this

It is troubling enough that the Clinton Campaign funded Mr. Steele’s work, but that these Clinton associates were contemporaneously feeding Mr. Steele allegations raises additional concerns about his credibility.

Beyond this there has to be the obvious concern of this having given rise to a feedback loop, with Steele’s own disclosures being reported back to him in a way which might make it appear that they were being independently reported to him.

By way of example, the article in the Guardian claims that the ‘second Trump Dossier’ somehow corroborates the first Trump Dossier.

Given that Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS had been working hard throughout the summer and autumn of 2016 to spread information drawn from the Trump Dossier far and wide across the US media landscape, and given that top members of the Clinton campaign (including Bill and Hillary Clinton) would of course have known about the information which appeared in the Trump Dossier, it is entirely likely that the ‘second Trump Dossier’, instead of corroborating the Trump Dossier is actually based upon it.

Something very like that – of information originating with Steele being used to ‘corroborate’ information originating with Steele – is after all what the GOP memorandum says happened with the 23rd September 2016 story which appeared in Yahoo News.

The FBI mistook this story as providing independent corroboration of the information in the Trump Dossier, and told the FISA court this when they used information from the Trump Dossier and from the Yahoo News story to apply on 21st October 2016 for a surveillance warrant against Carter Page.

In fact the September 2016 Yahoo News story did not corroborate the Trump Dossier since it was based on information drawn from the Trump Dossier provided to Yahoo News by Christopher Steele.

In summary, the Senators’ memorandum appears to paint an alarming picture in which the Trump Dossier far from being based on information provided to Christopher Steele by his network in Russia was actually a kind of collaborative effort, with lots of people across the US media and in the Clinton campaign involved in producing it.

That would explain why its entries so closely followed the news cycle.

Some of these people perhaps were not fully aware of what they were doing, but there has to be a concern that some of them – especially those involved in the Clinton campaign – were, and of course Steele himself would have known all along what was going on.

I say all this in part because the convoluted way in which the ‘second Trump Dossier’ reached Steele looks frankly like an attempt to create ‘distance’ between associates of the Clintons and Steele.

The reference to the State Department suggests that elements of the US bureaucracy were involved, and certain comments Representative Nunes has made in an interview with Fox News suggest that more revelations about the involvement of the State Department are on the way.

In passing, involvement by the State Department might explain the reference in the Trump Dossier to the Russian diplomat Mikhail Kalugin.

An article by the BBC dated 30th March 2017 – which revealed that the Trump Dossier was providing the ‘frame narrative’ for the Russiagate investigation – claimed that the single reference to Kalugin in the Trump Dossier was being treated by US intelligence as a reason for taking its claims seriously.  This despite the fact that the Trump Dossier had misspelled Kalugin’s name as “Kulagin”

……sources I know and trust have told me the US government identified Kalugin as a spy while he was still at the embassy.

It is not clear if the American intelligence agencies already believed this when they got Steele’s report on the “diplomat”, as early as May 2016.

But it is a judgment they made using their own methods, outside the dossier….

Steele’s work remains fiercely controversial, to some a “dodgy dossier” concocted by President Trump’s enemies.

But on this vitally important point – Kalugin’s status as a “spy under diplomatic cover” – people who saw the intelligence agree with the dossier, adding weight to Steele’s other claims.

Based on what the Senators’ memorandum tells us, there now has to be at least a possibility that Steele got the information about Kalugin not from his sources in Russia but from the State Department. That might explain why he got the spelling of Kalugin’s name wrong.

If this is all correct, then it paints a most ominous picture.

It would mean that the US news media has been busy ever since the summer of 2016 reporting news about collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia which it had itself a hand in creating.

There also has to be concern that something more sinister was going on, and that what we are looking at is an intentional campaign of disinformation orchestrated during the Presidential election by people involved with the Clinton campaign.

I say this because – as the Senators point out – the DNC and the Clinton campaign not only paid for the Trump Dossier but people connected to the Clintons were also feeding information to Steele, some of which may have found its way into the Trump Dossier.

The very heavily redacted nature of the Senators’ memorandum means that conclusions about it such as those made in this article must be tentative.

However on any analysis the facts set out in the heavily redacted version of the Senators’ memorandum which has now been published are worrying enough.

Given the extent to which the Justice Department and the FBI have already been compromised by Christopher Steele’s activities it is now obvious that they cannot be expected to conduct what now looks certain to be a criminal investigation which may touch on their own conduct.

Appointing a second Special Counsel to carry out a proper investigation is now essential.

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Maria Butina, her crime: A love of the NRA and being Russian (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 61.

Alex Christoforou

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has communicated to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that Russian national Maria Butina must be set free and allowed to return to Russia, after she was arrested by US officials on dubious spy charges.

Lavrov said that the US should immediately release the Russian gun activist, who is being held in the US on espionage charges, after a phone conversation with his US counterpart.

Lavrov called the charges levied against Butina “fabricated.”

In his conversation with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday, “Lavrov stressed that the actions of the US authorities that arrested Russian citizen Butina on fabricated charges are unacceptable.”

In an official statement the Russian Foreign Ministry called for her “immediate release.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris examine the oddly timed, out of the blue arrest of Maria Butina, who is being held by US authorities for what they claim to be a violation of the FARA act.

In reality Maria Butina’s crime is much more troubling than simply failing to register as a foreign agent.

Maria made the double mistake of being in the United States of America as a Russian citizens who loves guns, at a time when racism and bigotry against Russians and NRA supporters is surpassing McCarthyite levels.

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Via RT

The Foreign minister raised the issue during phone conversations that were made at the request of the US and aimed at “further normalization of the US-Russian relations” following the summit between the US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Lavrov and Pompeo also discussed the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, as well as the situation in Syria.

The 29-year-old Russian student and a gun activist was arrested in the US about a week ago and charged with acting as a foreign agent without registering her activities with the authorities. Butina has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On July 16, a DC Federal Court rejected Butina’s bail plea and ordered her to be placed in custody pending trial over fears that she could flee or contact Russian intelligence officials. Her lawyer says the trial is being politicized and Russian embassy staff were only allowed to visit her in jail on Thursday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has called Butina’s arrest politically motivated, adding that it could have been aimed at disrupting the Helsinki summit between Putin and Trump. On Thursday, the ministry also launched a campaign hashtagged #FreeMariaButina on Twitter to raise awareness of her case.

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Ugly breakup at FBI: Lisa Page throws ex-lover, Peter Strzok, under the bus (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 60.

Alex Christoforou

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While Peter Strzok’s testimony put a face on the deceptive and secretive Deep State, GOP lawmakers who were present at Lisa Page’s closed-door deposition said they learned a lot of new information from the ex-FBI lawyer, and ex-lover of Peter Strzok.

Lisa Page confirmed to GOP lawmakers that the text messages sent between her and her lover Strzok “meant exactly what they said,” contrary to Strzok’s testimony.

According to The Gateway Pundit, one damning text message in particular sent from Strzok on May 19th, 2017, just two days after Robert Mueller was appointed Special Counsel, intrigued investigators and the public alike.

“There’s no big there there,” Strzok texted.

According to investigative reporter, John Solomon, Lisa Page confirmed that text from Peter Strzok did indeed refer to the Trump-Russia case.

Strzok knew it was a nothing-burger yet he forged ahead.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou, RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle, and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how Peter Strzok’s testimony has undoubtedly contradicted Lisa Page’s cooperative deposition, as the ex-FBI lawyer is preparing to save herself, while throwing her ex-lover under the bus.

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Via The Epoch Times

Representatives John Ratcliffe and Louie Gohmert of Texas recently shared their observations of the closed-door testimony of former high-ranking FBI lawyer Lisa Page, which concluded on July 16.

One of the major questions regarding the testimony was whether it would match the one given by FBI Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok.

But while Ratcliffe said he found a mismatch, Gohmert wouldn’t go so far.

Page and Strzok played major roles in the investigations on both 2016 presidential candidates: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. During the same period, Page and Strzok had an affair and exchanged thousands of text messages expressing a strong bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton.

“When I questioned Lisa Page on Friday about the anti-Trump text messages that were sent between herself and Peter Strzok, there were significant differences in her testimony and Strzok’s as it relates to what she thought some of these text messages meant,” Ratcliffe said in a July 16 tweet, shortly before the second round of questioning.

“Page gave us new information that Strzok either wouldn’t or couldn’t, confirming some of the concerns we had about these investigations and the people involved in running them,” he wrote.

On July 17, Ratcliffe expanded on his further statements about Page’s testimony. Radcliffe told Fox News…

“There are differences in their testimony.”

“In many cases, she admits that the text messages mean exactly what they say, as opposed to agent Strzok, who thinks that we’ve all misinterpreted his own words on any text message that might be negative.”

Via The Epoch Times

In one of the texts, Strzok vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president. In another, the two discussed having an “insurance policy” in the “unlikely” event that Trump would win the election.

Strzok, who gave a closed-door testimony on June 27 and a public one on July 12, said the first message meant he and the American people would stop Trump. The second, he said previously, meant he wanted to pursue the Russia investigation aggressively, in case Trump won.

GOP lawmakers were furious with Strzok’s attitude and unwillingness to answer questions. In a scathing monologue, Gohmert even linked Strzok’s credibility to the fact that he was unfaithful to his wife.

President Donald Trump repeatedly called Strzok’s testimony a “disgrace.”

The lawmakers said Page was comparatively more cooperative.

“There were times the FBI lawyers would be reaching to the button to mute her comment, and she would answer before they could mute her comment,” Gohmert told Fox News.

He said Page didn’t contradict Strzok “so much,” but “has given us insights into who was involved in what.”

“I think she’ll be a good witness,” he said.

Page ditched her first testimony appointment on July 11, prompting GOP lawmakers to threaten her with contempt of Congress. She then agreed to appear on July 13, which gave her the opportunity to review Strzok’s public testimony before giving hers.

The lawmakers are probing the FBI’s and Justice Department’s decisions before the election, suspecting they were influenced by political considerations.

Texts between Strzok and Page suggest that the FBI initiated an offensive counterintelligence operation against the Trump campaign as early as December 2015.

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Russia makes MASSIVE progress on its ‘super-weapons’

Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle moves into serial production, nuclear-engine powered cruise missile tests continue, and more as Russia continues to outdo all Western military tech

Seraphim Hanisch

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On July 19th and 20th, The Russian Defense Ministry announced several milestones of progress in its advanced weapons systems programs. These programs were revealed to the world in March of this year, when Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the State of the Russian Federation speech.

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While at first the Western onlookers did not believe the amazing announcements of hypersonic weapons and nuclear-powered cruise missiles with unlimited range, subsequent releases and concurrent observation by the American military experts has shown these developments to be as real as Mr. Putin claimed they are.

TASS, the Russian News Agency, released information on these weapons systems in separate reports:

Kinzhal

The Kinzhal hypersonic missile:

Squadrons of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles should enter combat duty in the Black Sea region and at other Russian fleets and flotillas, said Russian military expert Viktor Murakhovsky, the editor-in-chief of the Arsenal Otechestva magazine.

Besides, a squadron (between 12 and 16 aircraft) of MiG-31 fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles entered combat duty in the Caspian Sea region in April.

“I think at least one squadron of those complexes should be deployed at any fleet, in other words – at all regions where we have fleets and flotillas. We need to deploy them in the regions of the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Northern Fleet. The Pacific region also should not be forgotten,” Murakhovsky said.

He said that such systems can become a “good instrument” against not only vessels equipped with high-precision weapons, but also for countering carrier attack groups.

“We know how expensive a carrier attack group can be. By employing this asymmetric method, which is unbelievably cheap in comparison with building a carrier attack group, we can neutralize this threat almost completely,” the expert said.

Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile trials:

The Burevestnik is an entirely new cruise missile, powered by a nuclear engine. This gives the missile unlimited range. In theory, such a missile could be launched at a target and spend days or weeks in hidden flight using advanced guidance systems, and then close on its target at the optimal time to assure destruction of that target with maximum surprise. The TASS piece goes on to say:

The Russian Defense Ministry announced that Russia was preparing to test upgraded test prototypes of the nuclear-powered Burevestnik cruise missile with an unlimited range.

According to the expert, it is highly likely that the prototype of the missile “has already made a flight.”

“Clearly, it was something like the pop-up trials of Sarmat – a launch without the nuclear-powered engine, in other words, with an ordinary missile booster, conducted in order to assess the possibility of a launch, aerodynamics and the operability of the entire system in general,” [Murakhovsky] said.

Further reporting from TASS had this to add about the Burevestnik program:

Russia is getting ready for flight tests of the Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile, an official at the Defense Ministry told reporters on Thursday.

“The missile’s component makeup is being improved based on clarified requirements, while ground tests continue and preparations are being made for experimental flight tests of the improved missile,” the official said.

According to the Defense Ministry, “work on an unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.”

“In the meantime, launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved. This range of work will make it possible to start designing a totally new sort of weapon – a strategic nuclear complex armed with a nuclear powered missile,” the ministry official noted.

[The head] of the 12th Central Research Institute at Russia’s Defense Ministry Sergey Pertsev, in turn, said that the tests of the new cruise missile equipped with a small nuclear power unit had confirmed the accuracy of the technical decisions that Russian researchers, engineers and designers had made. In addition, the tests enabled the researchers “to receive valuable experimental data necessary for specifying a number of requirements.”

“A low-flying and low-observable cruise missile carrying a nuclear warhead, with an almost unlimited range, an unpredictable trajectory and capability to bypass interception lines is invincible to all the existing and advanced air and missile defense systems,” the Russian Defense Ministry stressed.

A further use of the nuclear engine technology is also expected in the Poseidon underwater drone, Mr. Murakhovsky stated that separate systems for the craft have been successfully tested. He further noted that the next task is to design the entire layout, build a test model and begin testing the whole platform.

The Avangard Hypersonic Missile

While the Kinzhal is a Mach-10 capable hypersonic system that can be launched from a fighter, the Avangard is a Mach-20 capable system that has intercontinental reach. There is almost no footage of this system released to the public, but the concept videos show how the system works. TASS reports this status:

Russia’s Strategic Missile Force is preparing a position area for accepting the Avangard hypersonic missile system for service as part of the efforts to strengthen the country’s military security, the Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

“The Russian defense industry has completed developing the Avangard missile system with the principally new armament – the gliding cruise warhead. Industrial enterprises have switched to its serial production,” the Defense Ministry said.

“A set of organizational and technical measures is underway in the position area of the Dombarovsky large unit of the Strategic Missile Force to accept the Avangard missile system for operation,” it added.

The development of new strategic weapon systems “is aimed at increasing Russia’s defense capability and preventing any aggression against our country and its allies,” the Defense Ministry stressed.

The infrastructural facilities of the large unit’s position area have already been prepared for the missile system’s operation, the ministry said.

“The position area has been prepared in geodesic and engineering terms to accommodate the missile system. Work is underway to build new and reconstruct old facilities to provide for the operation and the combat use of the system. Technical and utility supply lines are being modernized and electric power, communications and command and control cables are being laid. Work has been arranged to train personnel and prepare armament, military and special hardware,” Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

Deputy Commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force for Armament Sergei Poroskun has said that the Avangard hypersonic missile system features combat capabilities that “make it possible to reliably breach any anti-missile defenses.”

The Okhotnik attack drone

The Okhotnik (“Hunter”) attack drone is now being viewed as a prototype for Russia’s “sixth-generation” fighter plane. TASS describes this in more detail:

According to [a defense industry] official, although the sixth generation fighter jet project “has not yet taken full shape, its main features are already known.”

“First of all, it should be unmanned and capable of performing any combat task in an autonomous regime. In this sense, Okhotnik will become the prototype of the sixth generation fighter jet,’ the source said, adding that the drone will be able to “take off, fulfill its objectives and return to the airfield.”

“However, it will not receive the function of decision-making regarding the use of weapons – this will be decided by a human,” he said.

TASS was unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Another defense industry source earlier told TASS that the prototype of Okhotnik (Hunter) was ready and would start test flights this year.

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Sukhoi Company signed a contract for developing the 20-ton Okhotnik (Hunter) heavy unmanned strike aircraft in 2011. The drone’s mock-up model was made in 2014. According to unconfirmed reports, composite materials and anti-radar coating were used to create the Okhotnik. The drone is equipped with a reaction-jet propulsion and is supposed to develop a speed of 1000 kilometers per hour.

Peresvet laser weapons systems

TASS reported that the Russian military forces are now training for the use of the Peresvet combat laser system:

Russian Aerospace Force has accepted for service the laser complexes Peresvet and the military are now taking drills that involve the novel combat technologies, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

“The Peresvet laser complexes have been placed at sites of permanent deployment,” the report said. “Active efforts to make them fully operational are underway.”

“To ensure their proper functioning, the necessary infrastructures and specialized facilities for housing the complexes and duty crews have been built,” the ministry said.

The crews assigned to the Peresvets have taken upgrader courses at the Alexander Mozhaisky Military-Space Academy in St Petersburg.

The Russian military strategy of “asymmetric response.”

The overall defense strategy is termed an “asymmetric response”, and Mr. Murakhovsky explained the principle in this way:

“This is an asymmetric response, in which new classes of weapons are created, instead of new types within the framework of the existing systems. Other states are not expected to have anything of this kind [in the near future],” he said.

The expert described this response as “quite an efficient one, all the more so because it requires no additional investment – all the works are being carried out within the framework of the state procurement program.”

He added that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia avoids being dragged into a direct arms race and searches for cutting-edge solutions instead of simply increasing the number of weapons.

“The development of counter-weapons to those arms [may be possible] in distant future, but it does not mean that they can be created at all,” Murakhovsky added.

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