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January 24, 2017 / 26 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Trump Says Cyber Defense A Priority: ‘We’re Hacked By Everybody’

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump says one of his first priorities in the White House will be to deal with the issue of cyber defense. He pointed to leaks from an intelligence briefing he had this week as an example of the shoddy security America is struggling with.

Mr. Trump actively ignored questions from CNN and Buzzfeed at his first official news conference in New York City on Wednesday (Jan. 11), citing a “fake news” report that featured leaked information about alleged damaging intelligence withheld by Russia about Mr. Trump. Both the president-elect, and outgoing President Barack Obama were briefed by the FBI about the alleged intelligence this week.

“I think it’s pretty sad when intelligence reports get leaked out to the press,” Mr. Trump told the reporters gathered at Trump Tower. “First of all, it’s illegal.

“Intelligence agencies are vital and important,” he said, claiming that out of a total of 17 industrial sectors, the United States rates last in terms of its ability to protect itself from hacking.

But the issue isn’t one that is exclusive to any one sector in the country, he said, and emphasized that he is ordering a “major report on hacking defense in 90 days.

“We’re hacked by everybody,” he said, crediting former Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus for having secured adequate cyber defense against hackers at the RNC. The GOP had “strong hacking defense,” he said.

“How do we stop this fairly new phenomena? That includes from Russia, and China, and everybody.

“Russia will have much greater respect for our country when I am leading it. Believe me. And I believe — there’s no reset button — we’ll either get along, or we won’t… He (Russian President Vladimir Putin) shouldn’t have done it — but they’ll respect us far more than they did under past administrations.”

Mr. Trump reiterated that the problem of hacking was by no means limited to espionage from Russia: “22 million accounts in this country were hacked by China,” he pointed out.

Detractors have renewed allegations that Moscow intervened in the electoral process to ensure Mr. Trump would win the presidential election, and in recent days there have also been claims that Russian hackers withheld damaging intelligence about the president-elect as well.

Hana Levi Julian

With Obama’s Approval, Russia Selling 130 Tons of Uranium to Iran

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

The Obama administration and the rest of the signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have approved a shipment of 130 tons of natural uranium from Russia to Iran, rewarding the Islamic Republic for shipping 44 tons of heavy water it sent to Russia after exceeding the limit it could legally produce under the deal. Experts have told US media outlets the amount of uranium to be shipped is enough to produce 10 nuclear bombs.

The announcement of the new shipment is seen as one more last-minute jab from the Obama White House at incoming President Trump, who probably would have vetoed the shipment, even though, according to US diplomats speaking to the AP and Fox News, the amount of uranium is within what’s allowable under the 2015 deal. Republican lawmakers have almost uniformly opposed that nuclear deal, arguing it awarded Iran too many concessions. The same lawmakers – which included the current Democratic Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (NY) – also argued the deal does not provide reliable verifications of Iran’s compliance.

Last month the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned that at current production levels Iran is going to exceed its cap on low-enriched uranium. Also, just a few days before the IAEA sounded the alarm, President Hassan Rouhani ordered Iran’s nuclear agency to develop nuclear engines that would use uranium enriched to 20% – a clear violation of the 2015 deal allowing Iran to enrich only to 3.67%.

In late December 2016, the IAEA published documents showing Iran was given exemptions allowing it to stockpile uranium in excess of the 300 kilogram limit set by the nuclear deal. The agreements had been kept secret for almost a year, and were publicized only because the Trump administration indicated it was planning to go public with them.

But when, on September 1, 2016, the Institute for Science and International Security announced that the US and its co-signatories were considering awarding Iran further exemptions to Iran’s cap of 300 kg of low enriched uranium, State Dept. Spokesperson John Kirby denied the report, saying, “Well, we’ve read the report. I’ve looked at it myself. What I can tell you is that Iran’s nuclear commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have not changed. There’s been no moving of the goal post, as it were.”

And: “What I can tell you is, James, as I said in the past – and I’ll be happy to repeat it – the joint commission has not and will not loosen those commitments.”

So he lied, openly, knowing that what the US was actually doing was enabling Iran to increase it uranium supplies. Did he also lie about not permitting Iran to enrich uranium to 20%? We should find out on January 21.


Russian Iskander Ballistic Missiles Spotted in Syria by Israeli Satellite

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

Advanced Iskander SS-26 “Stone” short-range ballistic missiles have been spotted at Russia’s Hmeimim air base in Latakia, Syria by Israeli satellite imagery, the ISI EROS-B satellite.

Deployment of the advanced ground-to-ground missile system was revealed in satellite imagery analysis by Imagesat International intelligence experts over this weekend.

Although the system is generally deployed under camouflage nets, it is believed that heavy rain and floods forced the air base to redeploy the missile units to a location in which they became visible to the satellite.

The Iskander units were first spotted when the Russian Zvezda TV channel broadcast the deployment of a single Iskander Transporter Erector Launcher (TEL) in March 2016.

But according to a report in Defense Update, the current ISIS images show two Iskander vehicles “at a logistic site beside the northeastern part of the runway… most probably SS-26 Trans-Loading vehicles (Transloaders).”

Each 9K720 Iskander-M missile carries a warhead of 480-700 kg. of various types, including penetrating high explosives (HE), fragmenting HE, fuel-air explosives and submunitions, according to Defense Update.

More ominously, Russia has also developed a nuclear warhead for these missiles, which – depending on the warhead — have a range of up to 500 kilometers (311 miles), according to Global Security. They are reported to be highly accurate, hitting the target within four to seven meters (about 4 to 8 yards).

The Iskander was also designed to evade missile defense systems, Missile Threat reports, and is equipped with decoys to dodge interceptor missiles, such as those used with Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.

All of this places Tel Aviv and Jerusalem well within dangerous range of these missiles, as well as the cities of Haifa, Tzfat, Herzliya and numerous other targets.

However, it is believed the Russians have no interest in targeting Israeli cities, at least at this point.

And for now, each time advanced weapons begin to make their way to the hands of Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization, Israel has somehow found a way to “neutralize” the threat.

Hana Levi Julian

Putin Will Not Expel US Diplomats in Retaliation for 35 Banished Russian Agents – Prefers to Wait for Trump

Friday, December 30th, 2016

This story is being updated just before Shabbat in Israel. After an announcement by Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that Russia on Friday declared 35 US diplomats persona non grata – 31 embassy personnel in Moscow and four in the St. Petersburg consulate, President Putin decided to let them stay, because, he stated, he prefers to just wait for January 20, when President Trump will take over. This negated Putin’s foreign minister, who stated earlier: “We, of course, cannot leave unanswered insults of this kind – reciprocity is the law of diplomacy and foreign relations.”

The Russian initial announcement followed President Obama’s expelling 35 Russian intelligence agents and sanctioning five Russian entities and four individuals for the cyber attack on the DNC and on individual Democratic Party officials during the 2016 presidential campaign.

This is the earlier version of our story.

“The outgoing US administration of Barack Obama are accusing Russia of every kind of mortal sin,” Lavrov said, suggesting that the White House is “trying to blame us for the failure of its foreign policy initiatives, among other thing. [Obama] has put forward additional accusations without any grounds whatsoever that the Russian state was behind attempts to meddle in the US election campaign, which led to the defeat of the Democratic candidate.”

“Yesterday, the US administration, without providing any facts or evidence, announced a new wave of sanctions against the Russian Federation,” Lavrov continued, noting that “Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), some other Russian agencies and individuals were sanctioned. The sanctions also covered our diplomats. Thirty-five people working in Washington and San Francisco have to leave the US before the end of the day January 1st.”

“Today, I have ordered a number of actions in response to the Russian government’s aggressive harassment of U.S. officials and cyber operations aimed at the U.S. election,” President Obama announced on Thursday. “These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior.”

“I have issued an executive order that provides additional authority for responding to certain cyber activity that seeks to interfere with or undermine our election processes and institutions, or those of our allies or partners,” Obama stated. “Using this new authority, I have sanctioned nine entities and individuals: the GRU and the FSB, two Russian intelligence services; four individual officers of the GRU; and three companies that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations. In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury is designating two Russian individuals for using cyber-enabled means to cause misappropriation of funds and personal identifying information.”

Over the past year or so, the State Dept. has been complaining that the Russian government is harassing of American officials, going as far as to report that two US diplomats, a man and a woman, were slipped date rape drugs in St Petersburg last year. State Dept. spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau in her press briefings would not comment on specific cases but said her department was “troubled by the way our diplomatic and consular staff have been treated over the past two years” in Russia. “We have raised our concerns at the highest levels,” Trudeau said in one briefing. “In particular, the harassment and surveillance of our diplomatic personnel in Moscow by security personnel and traffic police has increased significantly.”

But the Obama announcement Thursday was strictly about Russian hacking and meddling.

In addition, according to Obama, “the State Department is also shutting down two Russian compounds, in Maryland and New York, used by Russian personnel for intelligence-related purposes, and is declaring “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives. Finally, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are releasing declassified technical information on Russian civilian and military intelligence service cyber activity, to help network defenders in the United States and abroad identify, detect, and disrupt Russia’s global campaign of malicious cyber activities.”

Lavrov argued back that the Russian compounds in New York and Maryland closed by the US Administration were used for children’s recreation during the winter holidays.

“We are forbidden to use the property that is the state property of the Russian Federation,” Lavrov said. “These are places for the recreation of the ministry staff in Washington and for the Russian mission to the UN. […] In both cases, the dachas were supposed to be used by children during the winter holidays, the camps traditionally open there. And these dachas have been declared spy nests, as I understand from the statements of the US administration.”

Russia is contemplating the banning of US diplomats from using a vacation house and a warehouse in Moscow, according to Lavrov.

David Israel

Russia: 2-State Solution Only Possible Through Direct Talks

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016

Russia has apparently not quite finished expressing its views on the issues raised by the UN Security Council’s condemnation of Israel’s existence, development and growth in territory won from enemies who attacked the Jewish State in 1967 and thereafter.

The full statement by the Russian Foreign Ministry explaining Moscow’s position following its vote in the UN Security Council in favor of Resolution 2334(2016) condemning Israeli Jewish communities in post-1967 areas was posted in English to the government website this week.

As Russia’s deputy ambassador explained to listeners on Israeli Army Radio on Tuesday, it seems Moscow was not entirely satisfied with the resolution as it was presented, but decided to vote with its fellow Council members anyway.

According to the statement, “The Russian Federation voted for it because the resolution is based on tested formulas reflecting the general view of the international community, which have been reaffirmed many times, on the illegality of Israeli settlement plans in the Palestinian territory.

“Consensus could have been achieved through more rigorous work, which would have taken longer and precluded any rash decisions that may damage the cause,” the foreign ministry commented in its statement on its website.

More to the point, however, is the conclusion reached by Moscow regarding the endless insistence by Washington that the “two-state solution” is the sole “solution” possible between Jerusalem and Ramallah, and the only way forward in order to achieve peace between Israel, her neighbors in the Palestinian Authority and anywhere else in the region.

“Our experience shows convincingly that a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is only possible through direct talks between Palestinians and Israelis without any preconditions,” states the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“It is with this aim in view that Russia has been working and will continue working as a member of the Middle East Quartet of international intermediaries to facilitate such negotiations. We would also like to reaffirm our readiness to host a meeting of the leaders of Israel and Palestine in Moscow.

“We hope that the parties will opt for the policy of constructive cooperation aimed at settling the Middle Eastern problem very soon.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated his willingness to meet with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas for direct talks, without preconditions, anywhere at any time.

Abbas has consistently refused to meet for direct talks with Netanyahu at any time, anywhere, for any reason, unless Israel first agrees to all preconditions set by the Palestinian Authority; hence the PA leader’s preference for venues such as the UN Security Council, the Paris Summit, and elsewhere but a face-to-face negotiating table.

Hana Levi Julian

Russia ‘Wanted to Delay the Vote’ at UN Security Council

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Now that the United Nations Security Council has safely passed the anti-Israel resolution 2334(2016) condemning the Jewish State, Russia is expressing second thoughts about the measure.

In an interview with Israeli Army Radio on Tuesday, Deputy Ambassador to Israel Alexei Drovinan said that Moscow didn’t really want to vote on the resolution in the form it was brought to the floor.

“Russia had several issues with the wording of the resolution, and the manner in which the decision was made,” Drovinan said. “We wanted to delay the vote.

“Unfortunately, none of the other members accepted our position, and so the resolution was brought to the floor for a vote.

“We are also dissatisfied with the narrow focus of the measure, that it dealt only with one aspect of the conflict, the settlements,” he added.

Of course, one can ask why — if Russia was so dissatisfied with these issues — Moscow chose not to exercise its veto, if only to force the measure back for a rewrite, rather than choose to allow it to pass with a unanimous vote.

Instead, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova subsequently took the opportunity to lay the blame for the entire incident upon U.S. President Barack Obama, saying in a statement quoted by the Tass news agency that the foreign policy of the American president “evokes aversion of the entire world.

“I think this man and his team — naturally, speaking about the man we mean the team which has proved to be bad for all on the global arena. They have failed to fulfill their obligations taken before some countries, they have failed to fulfill what they were commissioned to, including by the American people on the global arena.”

Now the question is, will Russia again vote with the crowd if the same scenario is repeated with another anti-Israel measure at the UN Security Council before Obama leaves the White House on January 20, 2017?

Hana Levi Julian

Teva Pharmaceuticals’ Russian Subsidiary Fined $519 Million

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

The Russian subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceuticals has pleaded guilty to one count violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the United States, U.S. officials announced Thursday.

“Teva and its subsidiaries paid millions of dollars in bribes to government officials in various countries, and intentionally failed to implement a system of internal controls that would prevent bribery,” said Assistant Attorney-General Leslie Caldwell.

Teva CEO Erez Vigodman called the situation “regrettable and unacceptable” but added that the company was “pleased to finally put this matter behind us. The Teva of today is a fundamentally different company.” He added that the firm had launched an internal probe on the matter in early 2012, and that none of the employees who were involved in the criminal behavior had remained with the company.

The cases date back as far as 2010 and 2012 with Russia, and as far back as 2001 and 2011 in Ukraine. In Mexico, the Justice Department documented a case dating back to 2005.

The Israeli generic pharmaceutical firm was ordered to pay $519 in fines for having paid bribes to foreign officials to win business in Russia, Ukraine and Mexico.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/teva-pharmaceuticals-russian-subsidiary-fined-519-million/2016/12/23/

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