Russian Digest 6/15
Top stories I'm keeping an eye on
1. Finland prepares to close border with Russia
The Administrative Committee of the Finnish Parliament supported the proposal to close the border with Russia in case of hybrid threats emanating from Moscow. In parallel with the closure, the processes of considering asylum applications will be suspended, Interfax quotes the head of the commission, Riikka Purra.
“In practice, this will be done in such a way that, for example, when Russia sends asylum seekers to the Finnish border, all checkpoints can be closed to applicants for international protection,” Purra specified.
At the same time, according to her, one point of consideration of applications for granting will remain open. To do this, it could be located, for example, at the capital's Vantaa airport. It is important that he is not on the border with a foreign country, the parliamentarian specified.
The Commission also requires that border guards be given sufficient powers to operate in a hybrid war.
The issue of closing the borders with Russia has become the subject of debate among representatives of the Finnish authorities. The right-wing populist Finns Party, led by Purra, accuses the government led by Prime Minister Sanna Marin of not wanting to close the border and deny asylum. The government clarifies that such initiatives are not contrary to EU law and international agreements. via The Moscow Times
2. Exclusive: US fighters ‘captured’ by Russian forces in Ukraine
Two former US servicemen have been captured during fighting with Russian forces in Ukraine, The Telegraph has learned.
The pair were taken prisoner during a fierce battle outside the north-east city of Kharkiv last week, according to comrades who were fighting alongside them.
Alexander Drueke, 39, and Andy Huynh, 27, had been serving as volunteers with a regular Ukrainian army unit. They are believed to be the first US servicemen to end up as Russian prisoners of war.
They will join a growing number of Western military volunteers captured by Russian forces, including three Britons - Aiden Aslin, Shaun Pinner, and Andrew Hill. via The Telegraph
3. Russia’s real intentions
Former President/ PM Medvedev dreamed that Ukraine would be gone in two years.
"I saw a message that Ukraine wants to receive LNG from its overseas owners LNG (liquefied natural gas - ed.) With payment for supplies in 2 years. Otherwise, this winter will simply freeze.
Just a question. And who said that in two years Ukraine will exist on the world map?
Although the Americans do not care - they are so invested in the project "anti-Russia" that the rest is a trifle for them." via Ukrainian Pravda
4. Surveillance footage shows a tour led by Loudermilk to areas in the House Office Buildings, as well as the entrances to Capitol tunnels. Individuals on the tour photographed/recorded areas not typically of interest to tourists: hallways, staircases and security checkpoints. via
5. The US will increase funding for VPN services to help Russians bypass censorship and gain access to Western media
The U.S. government has pushed new, increased funding into three technology companies since the start of the Ukraine conflict to help Russians sidestep censors and access Western media, according to five people familiar with the situation.
The financing effort is focused on three firms that build Virtual Private Networks (VPN) - nthLink, Psiphon and Lantern – and is designed to support a recent surge in their Russian users, the sources said. via Reuters
6. The Insider: "They threaten mothers and sisters." How “volunteers” are forcibly sent to fight in Ukraine in Chechnya
Torture, threats of criminal cases- The tactics the Kremlin and their loyalists are using to get fighters for Ukraine7.
7. U.S. probing how American electronics wound up in Russian military gear
FBI and Commerce Department agents are visiting tech companies to ask about computer chips found in drones, other weaponry
Federal agents have begun questioning U.S. technology companies on how their computer chips ended up in Russian military equipment recovered in Ukraine.
Commerce Department agents who enforce export controls are conducting the inquiries together with the FBI, paying joint visits to companies to ask about Western chips and components found in Russian radar systems, drones, tanks, ground-control equipment and littoral ships, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive investigations.
“Our goal is to actually try to track that back, all the way back to the U.S. supplier” to determine “how did it find its way into that weapons system,” one Commerce Department official said of the probes.
“Just because a chip, a company’s chip, is found in a weapon system doesn’t mean we’ve opened up an investigation on that company,” the official added. “What we’ve done, though, is we’ve opened up an investigation on how that company’s chip got into that system.”It isn’t clear which specific components are being probed. But investigators from a variety of countries have identified Western electronics in Russian weaponry found in Ukraine. Many of those components appear to have been manufactured years ago before the United States tightened export restrictions after Russia seized Crimea in 2014. But others were manufactured as recently as 2020, according to Conflict Armament Research (CAR), a research group in London that has examined some of the parts. via Washington Post
8. Man arrested at Gatwick airport on suspicion of spying for Russia
Arrest follows joint operation by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command and British security services
Security officials trying to thwart Russian spying in Britain have arrested a man at Gatwick airport as he was trying to board a flight to leave the UK.
The arrest followed a joint intelligence-led operation by Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command – which deals with arrests for espionage matters – and the British security services.
It is understood detectives knew the man might be trying to leave the UK and were waiting for him at Gatwick airport.
The man in his 40s was arrested on Monday under the Official Secrets Act, under a provision that outlaws spying on the UK.
He is still in custody, and detectives have up to 96 hours to hold him, with approval from a court to extend his detention. They then have to charge the man, or release him and drop the case, or release him while he is still under investigation. via The Guardian