On December 23rd, British Prime Minister Theresa May gave her Christmas message to the armed forces.
In her address, she thanked the British military for protecting the UK from “Russian intrusion,” praised the co-operation with the US and France in the fight against ISIS and punishing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for the alleged use of chemical weapons in April on children.
“From playing a vital role in cleaning up after a sickening nerve agent attack on the streets of Salisbury, protecting our waters and our skies from Russian intrusion and strengthening our allies in Eastern Europe, striking at terrorism as part of the Global Coalition against Daesh, and along with our US and French allies – sending a message to the Assad regime that we will not stand by while chemical weapons are used, as they were in April on families, including young children.”
Thus, essentially, she praised the military for the fight against ISIS and for several imaginary and unproven situations connected to Russia and the Syrian government.
Separately, the Edinburgh radio station Sputnik was accused of being a “Russian stooge” by an unnamed Scottish member of parliament cited by The Times. Sputnik was established by a news agency that is owned by the Russian government and it opened its UK branch in 2016.
The Times also provided a list of pictures and names of its executives, who are all accused of being “Russian puppets.”
Senior staff include Nikolai Gorshkov, a former BBC correspondent and bureau chief Oxana Brazhnik, both of whom have rejected claims that the station is a Kremlin mouthpiece.
Ben Nimmo, a defense analyst pointed to the charter of Sputnik’s parent company, Rossiya Segodnya. Its goals are stated as “securing the national interests of the Russian Federation in the information sphere.”
A Sputnik spokesman said the charter of Rossiya Segodnya, Sputnik’s parent company, did not apply to Sputnik.
“We are disappointed by these dangerous accusations,” he said. “There is a contagious ‘reds under the beds’ epidemic sweeping the British media. Daily accusations and false allegations are aimed at placing real constraints on Sputnik’s professional performance and legitimate business in the UK. We are determined that such distractions will not alter our objective of telling the untold to audiences.”
Furthermore, on December 20th, Ofcom ruled that RT broke TV impartiality in seven programmes following the Salisbury incident. “The watchdog said RT failed to give due weight to a wide range of voices on a matter of major political controversy, calling the breaches “a serious failure of compliance.”
This followed a claim by the Russian Embassy in London that its website was hacked, most likely by hackers based in the UK.
According to the unnamed leading MSP, Russians who live in Scotland and engage in “information warfare” to destabilize Britain should have their assets seized.
Furthermore, the report cites rising suspicion that the hacking of the Institute of Statecraft (IfS) in November was sponsored by Kremlin. IfS is a think-tank that was recently revealed as set-up to counter Russian disorganization, mostly through its Integrity Initiative project. It was funded for more than £2 million by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
According to the report, the reason that the Edinburgh radio Sputnik is considered a Russian “stooge” is behind, along with RT, it was among the first outlets to report on the hack that took place on November 5th.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, the LibDem MSP for Edinburgh Western, reacted angrily to the suggestion. “It would be extremely concerning indeed if a media outlet in the UK were to have been the beneficiaries of action by a foreign military,” he said.
“Organisations such as Sputnik and RT pump out propaganda backed by Vladimir Putin [the Russian president] and have been complicit in the cover-up of events from human rights breaches to the Russian invasion of Crimea. Other countries have taken a tougher line on the assets of Russian nationals than we have in the UK. The UK government must look again at what can be done.”
Russia was accused of various cyber-attacks in 2018, including the hacking of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) in Switzerland in 2016.
The hack on the IfS revealed an Integrity Initiative in Spain against a “terrorism expert with pro-Russian views, Pedro Baños, from getting a job as a senior national security adviser.”
It was also revealed that the IfS and the Integrity Initiative targeted Jeremy Corby, the Labour leader and other members of the party. This urged shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry to raise concerns in parliament about how a government-funded operation can target the current opposition leader and other members.
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Alan Duncan’s response was that the IfS and Integrity Initiative did not, in fact, use government funds to target Corbyn. He didn’t elaborate what funds they used, probably just their personal ones, maybe they did it in their free time.
The hack on the IfS is being investigated by the Foreign Office and the National Cyber Security Centre. Unsurprisingly, an unnamed former UK government official, involved with the probe said that Russia’s “fingerprints” were all over the hack.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- British Foreign Secretary Confirms Integrity Initiative Documents, Blames Russia For Everything
- Hackers Uncover More Documents Throwing Light On British Propaganda Campaign Against Russia
- Documents Confirm: UK Is Engaged In Large-Scale Secret Propaganda War Against Russia