Why Have The Russians Gone Mum With Regards To The 2018 November Elections?

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As per some news reports, there are questions buzzing around within the US Intelligence Community, as to why the chatter, gossip has died in the Kremlin about any plans it has in mind, pertaining to the 2018 US mid term November elections.

But the US may know more than the Russians think…

As per an April 5, 2018 Newsweek report by Cristina Maza, “Vaclav Klaus, the former president (pro-Russian) of the Czech Republic, lambasted his country’s decision to send a Russian hacker to the United States to stand trial, calling the move a “fundamental error.”

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“Klaus, who was chief of staff from 2003 until 2013, has supported the Kremlin’s political positions in the past, and has made some eyebrow-raising statements like calling climate change a religion and comparing the European Union to the Soviet bloc. His latest comments, made to Czech reporters on Thursday, came around one week after the Czech Republic opted to send Yevgeniy Nikulin, a Russian citizen accused of hacking into the systems of three U.S. technology companies, to the U.S. to stand trial.”

“For over a year, the accused hacker has been at the center of a controversy between the U.S., the Czech Republic and Russia. The argument over whether to extradite him also created a schism in Czech politics, when the pro-Russian President Milos Zeman argued against extradition and the billionaire acting Prime Minister Andrej Babis advocated for it. But the U.S. and the Czech Republic have had an extradition agreement for decades, and regional experts say the decision to extradite the Russian hacker should have been straightforward.”

“The Czech Republic’s decision to extradite Nikulin to the U.S. was not primarily a question of making the right decision—even though it’s clear that he’s wanted for very high-profile crimes in the United States—but simply of following its own laws,” Zselyke Csaky, a Central Eastern Europe expert at Freedom House, told Newsweek.”

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Here’s the rest of the story…

On August 24, 2018, of the New York Times penned the following report, “Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving C.I.A. in the Dark About Putin’s Plans for Midterms”

Excerpts:

“In 2016, American intelligence agencies delivered urgent and explicit warnings about Russia’s intentions to try to tip the American presidential election — and a detailed assessment of the operation afterward — thanks in large part to informants close to President Vladimir V. Putin and in the Kremlin who provided crucial details.”

“But two years later, the vital Kremlin informants have largely gone silent, leaving the C.I.A. and other spy agencies in the dark about precisely what Mr. Putin’s intentions are for November’s midterm elections, according to American officials familiar with the intelligence.”

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“The officials do not believe the sources have been compromised or killed. Instead, they have concluded they have gone to ground amid more aggressive counterintelligence by Moscow, including efforts to kill spies, like the poisoning in March in Britain of a former Russian intelligence officer that utilized a rare Russian-made nerve agent.”

“Current and former officials also said the expulsion of American intelligence officers from Moscow has hurt collection efforts. And officials also raised the possibility that the outing of an F.B.I. informant under scrutiny by the House intelligence committee — an examination encouraged by President Trump — has had a chilling effect on intelligence collection.”

“Technology companies and political campaigns in recent weeks have detected a plethora of political interference efforts originating overseas, including hacks of Republican think tanks and fake liberal grass-roots organizations created on Facebook. Senior intelligence officials, including Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, have warned that Russians are intent on subverting American democratic institutions.”

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But American intelligence agencies have not been able to say precisely what are Mr. Putin’s intentions: He could be trying to tilt the midterm elections, simply sow chaos or generally undermine trust in the democratic process.

“The officials, seeking to protect methods of collection from Russia, would not provide details about lost sources, but acknowledged the degradation in the information collected from Russia. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal classified information. A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined to comment.”

“To determine what the Russian government is up to, the United States employs multiple forms of intelligence, including intercepted communications and penetrated computer networks.”

“The US continues to intercept Russian communication, and the flow of that intelligence remains strong, said current and former officials. And Russian informants could still meet their C.I.A. handlers outside Russia.”

“But people inside or close to the Kremlin remain critical to divining whether there is a strategy behind seemingly scattershot efforts to undermine American institutions.”

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“Spies and informants overseas also give American intelligence agencies early warning about influence campaigns, interference operations or other attempts to compromise the United States. That information, in turn, can improve the ability of domestic agencies, like the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I., to quickly identify and attempt to stop those efforts.”

“Because clandestine meetings can take months to set up and complete, a lengthy lag can pass before the C.I.A. realizes a key source has gone silent, according to former officials. It is rare for the agency to discover immediately that informants have eroded or are running scared. Only after several missed meetings might C.I.A. officers and analysts conclude that a source has decided it is too dangerous to pass information.”

“In 2016, American intelligence officials began to realize the scope of Russia’s efforts when they gathered intelligence suggesting that Moscow wanted to use Trump campaign officials, wittingly or not, to help sow chaos. John O. Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., testified before the House Intelligence Committee in May 2017 about a tense period a year earlier when he came to believe that Mr. Putin was trying to steer the outcome toward a victory for Mr. Trump.”

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“Mr. Brennan described the broad outlines of the intelligence in his congressional testimony, and his disclosures backed up the accounts of the information provided by the current and former officials. “I was convinced in the summer that the Russians were trying to interfere in the election. And they were very aggressive,” Mr. Brennan told lawmakers.”

“This year, Mr. Coats issued a series of warnings saying the Russian government, and Mr. Putin in particular, is intent on undermining American democratic systems.”

“At an appearance this month at the White House, Mr. Coats said intelligence agencies “continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try and weaken and divide the United States.” He added that those efforts “cover issues relevant to the elections.”

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“But officials said there has been no concrete intelligence pointing to Mr. Putin ordering his own intelligence units to wade into the election to push for a certain outcome, beyond a broad chaos campaign to undermine faith in American democracy. Intelligence agencies do not believe Mr. Putin has changed his strategy; instead, officials believe they simply do not have the same level of access to information from the Kremlin’s inner circle.”

“Intelligence collection appears to have suffered after Russia expelled officials from American diplomatic outposts there in retaliation for the United States removing 60 Russian officials this year, said John Sipher, a 28-year veteran of the C.I.A. who served in Moscow in the 1990s and later ran the agency’s Russia program.”

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JOHN SIPHER CIA

“The C.I.A.’s Moscow presence, according to former officers, was always small, at least in light of the importance of the target, the difficulty of spy-craft and the amount of counterintelligence the Russians dedicated to thwarting American spies.”

“The Russians kicked out a whole bunch of our people,” Mr. Sipher said. “Our station in Moscow is probably really small now and they are under incredible surveillance.”

“Mr. Putin has also said he is intent on killing so-called traitors, comments he made just ahead of the high-profile assassination attempt of the former Russian intelligence officer, Sergei V. Skripal.”

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“The Russians are very focused and upset,” Mr. Sipher said. “They have shown they are willing to kill sources.”

“Informants close to Putin are rare, according to current and former officials. The US, in recent years, has had only a few, and at times been reliant on only one or two for the most important insights on Mr. Putin, according to former officials. If those people go silent for their own protection, it can make it very hard for the agency to look inside Moscow.”

“The US still should have a clear view of Mr. Putin’s strategies and intention to interfere in Democratic elections, said Michael Carpenter, a Russia expert and former Obama administration official. He pointed to fake social media accounts created as part of Russian intelligence operations that have drummed up support for white nationalists and the Black Lives Matter movement, and have supported far right, far left and pro-Russian candidates in the US and in Europe.”

Link to entire report: Kremlin Sources Go Quiet, Leaving C.I.A. in the Dark 

4 comments

  1. Dear Mz. Gronda,

    They do not need to hack into a system they already have access to! Our entire system is compromised and because our so called leadership lack the desire (for obvious reasons) to fix the problem. Will there be a “Blue Wave”? IMO, perhaps because the system is compromised it will simply be a blue ripple. We will receive what we have sown as a nation. No, that does not mean I have given up, only that I have my eyes open and know what I am seeing. Does that mean we should still not turn out in record numbers to cast our ballots, no, we still need to have our voices heard. I am now becoming much more concerned about what will happen after the vote than I am what we are seeing now…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Crustyolemothman,

      I suspect that you are right on the money. But no matter what the circumstances are, I just want folks to know that Russia wins if we give up, by not getting off our butts to go vote. This is what patriotism looks like which is folks exercising their precious right to vote.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gronda, call me crazy, but Putin may want the Democrats to win with him planting seeds that there was something nefarious. Then Trump, will step in call the election invalid. Putin wants disruption of our democracy and institutions. Now that he has enabled a Trump victory, making sure the Dems win could serve his greater purpose. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

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