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Kushner-Kislyak meeting: did US decrypt a Russian signal or was Trump Tower bugged?

The claim US intelligence learnt of the meeting between Jared Kushner and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak by intercepting Russian communications looks implausible, leading to the possibility US intelligence obtained details of the meeting because – despite denials – Trump Tower was bugged.

Alexander Mercouris

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Since the Washington Post first disclosed that Donald Trump’s son in law Jared Kushner discussed in December with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak the idea of setting up a back channel, several US officials have sprung to Kushner’s defence.

President Trump’s National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, says that he is unconcerned

We have back-channel communications with any number of individual (countries). So generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is communicate in a discreet manner.  So it doesn’t pre-expose you to any sort of content or any kind of conversation or anything. So we’re not concerned about it.

About that McMaster is absolutely right.

A similar lack of concern has also been expressed by John F. Kelly, the President’s Homeland Security secretary

He’s a great guy, decent guy. His No. 1 interest, really, is the nation.  So, you know, there’s a lot of different ways to communicate, back channel, publicly with other countries. I don’t see any big issue here relative to Jared.

Perhaps the single most pertinent point about this whole story has however been made by Senator Lindsey Graham, who is not normally considered one of the President’s friends.  He is reported to have said the following

You’ve got the ambassador to Russia (sic) reporting to Moscow on an open channel.  I don’t trust this story as far as I can throw it….The whole storyline is suspicious.

Lindsey Graham is referring to the claim that US intelligence learnt about the Kushner-Kislyak meeting by intercepting a report about it which Kislyak sent to Moscow.  If true that would mean either that Kislyak reported to Moscow via an open (telephone?) channel or that US intelligence decrypted the report he sent about the meeting to Moscow.

In either case alerting the Russians that the US intercepted Kislyak’s report amounts to a major leak of classified information potentially damaging to the national security interests of the US, and compromising its future intelligence gathering capability.

Is the story however even true?  Lindsey Graham is right to be skeptical.

The Russians have long been known to take the security of their communications extremely seriously.  A sign of this is that they began using one-time pads to encrypt their most secret communications as long ago as 1930, long before most other powers.  One-time pads produce encryption which is unbreakable, and it is known that the Russians still use this technique for their most secret communications.

The security provided by using one-time pads, and the extent to which it has defeated US attempts to read Russian signals traffic, can be illustrated by the story of the Venona Project.

The Soviet company that manufactured one-time pads for the USSR’s intelligence agencies during the Second World War made the mistake of producing around 35,000 pages of duplicate key numbers because of the disorganisation caused by the German advance on Moscow in 1941.  The US detected the mistake, and in 1943 set up the Venona Project to try to exploit it.  The idea was to use the mistake to decrypt Soviet signals traffic, thereby reproducing – if only to a certain degree – the US and British wartime success in breaking the German and Japanese codes.

In the event it seems that only signals traffic transmitted between 1942 and 1948 was compromised, with the vast bulk of this traffic being sent between 1942 and 1945, and that only a small fraction of this traffic was ever successfully decrypted.  This despite the fact that US intelligence persisted with the Venona Project from 1943 until 1980 ie. over a span of 37 years.  Whilst the Venona Project did provide the US with some insight into Soviet intelligence gathering activities in the 1940s, by the time it was finally wound up in 1980 this would have been of no more than historical interest.

The fact the US persisted with the Venona Project for so long shows that up to 1980  – ie. throughout the whole period of the Cold War – it must have failed to decrypt other Soviet signals traffic.  That must have been why it devoted so much time and effort to decrypting the small number of Soviet signals from the 1940s that it thought it could decrypt.

The Venona Project is sometimes spoken of as US intelligence success.  In reality it is testimony to the US’s greater intelligence failure.

Of course it could be that since 1980 US intelligence has been more successful in decrypting Soviet and Russian signals traffic.  Russia experienced an existential crisis during the 1990s.  A large number of defections happened during this period, and it would not be surprising if the general collapse of morale caused signals discipline to collapse.  However that would have been reversed when Vladimir Putin – a former intelligence officer – came to power.  By now it is highly likely that the security of Russian signals traffic has been restored to at least the level it had before the USSR collapsed.

Today, though the Russians continue to use one-time pads for their most secret communications, for their less secret communications they use – like other powers – other forms of computer generated encryption, which is less time consuming and labour intensive than one-time pads.

Conceivably Kislyak might have used one of these less secure channels when reporting to Moscow. However even if Kislyak reported to Moscow through one of these less secure channels, it is still unlikely US intelligence would have been able to decrypt his report.

The Vault 7 documents show that the CIA cannot decrypt commercially encrypted communications such as those passing through the mobile phone WhatsApp platform.  Presumably the Russians use more secure forms of encryption for their signals traffic than this.  If the US has not managed to break WhatsApp’s encryption, then it is unlikely it can have succeeded in breaking the encryption of even that part of Russia’s signals traffic which does not depend on one-time pads.

There is a further reason for doubting that the US is decrypting Russian signals traffic.

One other person is known to have been present at the meeting between Kushner and Kislyak.  That person is General Michael Flynn, who was to become for a short period President Trump’s National Security Adviser.

Up to 30th April 2014 General Flynn was one of the most senior intelligence officials in the US, having been appointed Director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency (the “DIA”) in 2012.

As a former Director of the DIA Flynn would presumably know if US intelligence was decrypting the Russian embassy’s signals traffic.  However he clearly didn’t think it was, since the whole idea of the back channel that he and Kushner proposed to Kislyak involved him communicating directly with Russia’s military leadership through the supposedly secure channels of the Russian embassy so as to keep his discussions secret.

Perhaps despite having been one of the US’s most senior intelligence officials Flynn was ill-informed about the US’s success in decrypting the Russian embassy’s signals traffic.  Or perhaps the breakthrough came in the short period after he left the DIA.  However I have to say that neither of these possibilities look to me at all likely.

Flynn’s participation in the Kushner-Kislyak meeting, and his support for the idea of the back channel discussed during the meeting, is a strong reason to doubt that the Russian embassy’s signals are being decrypted by US intelligence.  Everything else that is known about this question also points to that conclusion.

As to the possibility that Kislyak reported to Moscow about his supposedly secret conversation with Kushner about setting up a supposedly secret back channel between the Trump transition team and Moscow over an open channel, I have to say that I find that every bit as unbelievable as does Lindsey Graham.

There are of course other possibilities.

Possibly the US has a spy in the embassy and is able to read Kislyak’s reports to Moscow that way.  Or perhaps it has a spy in the Foreign Ministry in Moscow, who is reporting to Washington about Kislyak’s reports from the other end.  Or perhaps someone in Moscow gossiped about Kislyak’s report on an open line, and the US found out about it that way.

Whilst any of these alternative possibilities is theoretically possible, I have to say that none of them looks to me very likely.  The fact the obviously bogus Trump Dossier has been given the credence by the US intelligence community that it has, points to the US lacking high placed informants in Russia’s Washington embassy or in the Foreign Ministry in Moscow or at the highest levels of the Russian government.

Frankly the story of US intelligence learning the details of the Kushner-Kislyak conversation from an intercept looks to me like a cover story intended to conceal the actual way US intelligence obtained this information.

If US intelligence did not learn the details of the Kushner-Kislyak conversation from a Russian source, then they must have learnt it either from an informer within the Trump transition team or through electronic eavesdropping.  If it was the latter then that means that one way or another Trump Tower was bugged.

The New York Times when reporting the story – apparently after speaking to the same officials who leaked the story to the Washington Post – has actually hinted that US intelligence did not learn of the Kushner-Kislyak meeting from a Russian source.  This is how the New York Times reports it

American intelligence agencies first learned about the discussion several months ago, according to a senior American official who had been briefed on intelligence reports. It is unclear whether they learned about it from intercepted Russian communications or by other means.

(bold italics added)

Obviously someone has realised that the claim that US intelligence obtained the details of the Kushner-Kislyak meeting from a Russian source is simply too implausible, and exposes those who have leaked the story to accusations that they have revealed too much about the US intelligence gathering capabilities, for it to be wise to persist with it.  The result is that there is now an attempt to row back on this claim, as we see in the New York Times report.

Why however invent a cover story?  There is one possible reason.

US intelligence learnt about the Kushner-Kislyak meeting either very shortly after it happened or as soon as it took place.  We can be sure of this because of the publication by the Washington Post shortly after the meeting of an article about earlier back channels which was obviously inspired by the proposal to set up a back channel made during the Kushner-Kislyak meeting (see my discussion of this in my previous article).

Whilst it is possible that information about the meeting came from an informant, the speed with which US intelligence learnt about the meeting must increase the possibility that the information about the meeting came from electronic eavesdropping.

After Donald Trump’s famous tweets that former President Obama had had his phone in Trump Tower tapped there followed strenuous denials that Trump Tower was ever bugged.  Here is how the BBC reported these denials on 20th March 2017, the day after former FBI Director James Comey gave public testimony to the House Intelligence Committee

FBI Director James Comey for the first time on Monday confirmed to the House Intelligence Committee that the agency is investigating possible links between Russia and Mr Trump’s associates as part of a broader inquiry into Moscow’s interference in last year’s election.

He also disputed Mr Trump’s wiretapping claims.

“With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the FBI,” he told the panel.

After Mr Trump’s tweets earlier this month, the New York Times quoted unnamed senior officials reporting that Mr Comey had said the claim was false and had asked the justice department to publicly reject it.

Mr Clapper said the intelligence agencies he had supervised did not wiretap Mr Trump last year, and nor did the FBI obtain a court order to monitor Mr Trump’s phones.

As intelligence director, he told NBC, he would have known about a “court order on something like this”.

This is a reference to the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which can grant wiretaps on the grounds of national security.

Several senior Republicans have rejected the allegations after congressional committees looked into them.

Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr said on 16 March there were “no indications” that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the US government either before or after Election Day 2016.

Earlier that day, House Speaker Paul Ryan also said “no such wiretap existed”.

And the previous day, House of Representatives Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes said: “We don’t have any evidence.”

“I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” he told a news conference.

“Are you going to take the tweets literally?” asked Rep Nunes. “If so, clearly the president was wrong.”

What about the Justice Department?

It hasn’t said yet. It has asked for more time to respond to the House Intelligence Committee’s request that it provide evidence.

But Mr Comey on Monday also said the justice department found no evidence to support the president’s allegations.

(bold italics added)

If US intelligence learnt of the Kushner-Kislyak conversation through electronic eavesdropping, then these denials were untrue, since the meeting between Kushner and Kislyak took place in Trump Tower, which must in that case have been bugged.

Perhaps the bugging was only temporary, and specifically targeted Kislyak, and perhaps Kushner’s and Flynn’s comments were picked up “incidentally”.  However if such bugging did take place, then even if it was only temporary, and even if it specifically targeted only Kislyak, some at least of the people who were denying that bugging of Trump Tower ever took place were lying, or at the very least they were being economical with the truth.

If so, then that would explain the need for a cover story.

Obviously this is speculation.  However – as I hope I have shown – it is speculation based on fact.

I would add that earlier denials that US citizens involved in the Trump campaign were placed under surveillance, and claims that their communications were only intercepted “incidentally”, have turned out to be untrue, with the revelation that a previously undisclosed FISA warrant was obtained during the election period authorising surveillance of Carter Page.

Perhaps those who say that Trump Tower was never bugged are telling the truth, and perhaps US intelligence obtained the details of the Kushner-Kislyak meeting some other way, possibly from an informant.

As things stand however, disclosure of US intelligence’s knowledge of the Kushner-Kislyak meeting, and the painstaking but unconvincing attempt to create a cover story to explain that fact, has re opened the question of whether Trump Tower was bugged, making that a question which now deserves to be revisited.

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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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