Russia is busy trying to drum up sales for its newest high-tech weapons, and one of those is the Su-35S Flanker – a heavily upgraded version of the Su-27, also called the Flanker.
According to the London Daily Mail, Russia has released a brief video of the Su-35 being taken for a test flight.
The Su-35’s biggest change is the use of thrust-vectoring engines. This only enhances the maneuverability inherent in the Su-27 design. The Su-27 is famous for being able to do the Pugachev Cobra, a maneuver that allows it to fly tail-first for a period of time.
The Daily Mail noted that the Su-35S has a top speed of Mach 2.25, the ability to fire a variety of missiles and drop up to 17,000 pounds of bombs from 12 hardpoints, and is equipped with a 30mm cannon for close-in dogfighting. Some Su-35s were sent to Syria by the Russian government, which backs that country’s dictator, Bashir al-Assad.
Russia also did a video of its aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The video, though, omitted relevant details, like the carrier’s poor operating condition. There were also at least two splash landings during the Kuznetsov’s deployment off Syria.
We know it’s hard to keep track of military lingo and technical terms, that’s why we’ve published so many guides (Air Force, Marine Corps, Army, Navy). But there are some terms that the media — especially Hollywood — just can’t stop getting wrong when referring to the military.
Bazooka refers specifically to a series of anti-tank rocket launchers used from World War II through the Vietnam War. American troops today do not fire bazookas. There are modern rocket launchers that do the job the bazooka was once used for, but they have their own names, like the “AT-4” and the “SMAW.”
Bombs are explosive devices that are not propelled. They can be placed somewhere, they can be launched, or they can be dropped, but they are not propelled along their route. They may be guided. Rockets are like bombs, except they are propelled along their route without any type of guidance. The fins don’t move and the projectile can’t turn. Missiles are like rockets except they can turn, either under the instructions of an operator or according to an automated targeting system. One of the most common errors is referring to the Hellfire Missile as a Hellfire Bomb.
Marines are not soldiers, though they have been referred to as “soldiers of the sea” in past recruiting posters. In the U.S., people not in the Army are not soldiers, especially so for Marines — who will strongly protest being painted with that brush. “Troops” or “service members” are the umbrella terms that refer to all the members of the military.
The military doesn’t have Hummers. They have High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles with the acronym HMMWV, commonly pronounced “Humvee.” Hummer is a civilian, luxury knockoff of the HMMWV. Anyone who has seen the inside of a HMMWV knows that it is not a “luxury vehicle.”
Not everyone in charge of troops is a commander. For instance, the highest-ranking officer in each branch, the branch chief of staff, doesn’t actually command anything and is not a “commander.” Neither is their superior, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The only people who are “commanders” have the word “command” in either their rank or job title.
It’s not strictly a military term, but much is made of Air Force reports of UFOs by conspiracy theorists and alien enthusiasts. Without getting into an argument about whether or not aliens are real, UFOs are just unidentified flying objects. The Air Force recording 12,618 of them from 1947 to 1969 does not mean that alien spacecraft have flown 12,618 or more sorties over American soil. It means that there have been 12,618 recorded sightings or sensor contacts of objects in the air. A balloon in an unexpected spot can be recorded as an unidentified flying object.
Specifically, this is not shorthand for civilian deaths or a “euphemism.” It is an official term that refers to damage done to any unintended target in any way during an attack. When American bombs were dropped on German trains that were later found to be carrying American prisoners of war, that’s collateral damage to friendly elements. When missiles launched against a bomb maker’s home also damage a nearby mosque, that’s collateral damage.
Of course the most tragic instances of collateral damage are when people, including civilians, are accidentally killed. But those aren’t the only instances of collateral damage.
Machine guns and sidearms are guns. Most soldiers and Marines are carrying rifles. While it would be nice if the news media would use the more exact term “rifle” when referring to rifles, they can get a pass because the civilian definition of gun does include rifles. Entertainment media needs to learn this lesson though, since troops in movies and T.V. would never call their “rifle” a “gun.” It’s drilled into service members with the same ferocity as the meaning of “attention” or the proper way to salute.
The Pentagon has confirmed that a U.S. servicemember was killed in Nangarhar Achin Province, Afghanistan, though officials declined to release any more details, including the casualty’s name and branch.
Some media outlets are reporting that the he was a special operations commando.
The commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan Gen. John W. Nicholson confirmed that the servicemember was killed during a raid on ISIS fighters with Afghan special forces by a roadside bomb that detonated during a patrol.
“On behalf of all of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan, we are heartbroken by this loss and we extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the service member,” Nicholson said. “Despite this tragic event, we remain committed to defeating the terrorists of the Islamic State, Khorasan Province and helping our Afghan partners defend their nation.”
United States Marine Corps Sgt. Matthew Callahan is a combat camera trooper deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq. In May and June of 2017, he documented the fire missions of Marines against ISIS operating M777-A2 Howitzers.
The Marines were part of the Coalition to defeat ISIS in Syria and were conduction 24-hour all-weather fire support for the Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF is a combined Kurdish and Arab militia supported by the United States.
The SDF began their assault on the ISIS capital of Raqqa in June 2017 and currently have more than 1,000 fighters on the east and west ends of the city. They are also advancing from the south and are able to recapture positions taken by ISIS counterattacks.
Not only is Sgt. Callahan’s footage beautifully shot and edited, he also made sure to include the voices of his fellow Marines as they loaded and fired their howitzers. One of the most amazing aspects of this video is Callahan’s use of drone footage to capture the work of American Marines in action in a never-before-seen way. If anyone’s a match for ISIS, it’s them.
When asked how he viewed Russia’s latest aggressions, Mattis said, “Attempted murder of a man and his daughter, how’s that for starters,” referring to the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and Skripal’s daughter, Yulia, in Britain. The two remain hospitalized.
Several countries have kicked out Russian diplomats over the attack.”The brazen and criminal attack was an attack on all of us,” Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull said March 27, 2018, after expelling two Russian diplomats from his country.
Russia has denied any wrongdoing.
Mattis suggested on March 27, 2018, that he is not convinced: “They point out that it can’t be proven who had tried to kill the person in Salisbury,” Mattis said. “They’re doing things they believe are deniable.”
“They take insignia off soldiers’ uniforms and they go into Crimea,” Mattis continued. “They say they have nothing to do with what’s going on with the separatists in eastern Ukraine; I’m not sure how they can say that with a straight face.”
Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, triggering a military conflict with Ukraine and economic sanctions from the European Union and the US. Russian President Vladimir Putin denies his troops were in the country, but analysts have long suspected Russian forces of disguising themselves with tactics that include removing identifiable markings from their uniforms.
The March 4, 2018, nerve-agent attack happened as Russia faces diplomatic pressures on multiple fronts, including from the US, where federal investigators are probing its meddling in elections that have stirred political and cultural discord among Americans.
A US Navy flattop deployed to the Pacific has been flying a battle flag featuring Captain America’s iconic red, white and blue shield, photos from the ship’s deployment show.
The USS America (LHA-6), the first of a new class of amphibious assault ship, chose its battle flag, also known as a house flag, just before it deployed to the Indo-Pacific late last year.
The ship, the fourth to bear the name America, went for the superhero treatment.
“The iconic Captain America symbol — the First Avenger for this first-in-class fifth-generation amphibious assault ship — was the perfect fit,” Capt. Luke Frost, the ship’s commanding officer, told Insider.
Frost said the flag choice was “bold, graphic, with a clear patriotic and easily-identifiable association with the name ‘America.'”
In the vast Marvel Comics universe, Captain America, whose alter ego is Steve Rogers, is a patriotic supersoldier who fought the Axis Powers before being trapped in ice and revived in the modern age.
An experimental serum gave the Army soldier his power, but it is his almost-indestructible circular vibranium shield that is most representative of the character created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby in the 1940s.
Captain America is more than just Rogers. Others, such as close friend and Air Force veteran Sam Wilson, aka The Falcon, have also taken up the shield and the captain’s mantle to carry on the fight. And now, a ship filled with Navy sailors and Marines have made the fictional weapon its emblem in a show of joint warfighting at its best.
The first US naval vessel to bear the name “America” was a 74-gun ship of the line, the first ordered for the Continental Navy. The name was passed on to a troop transport vessel and later to a Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier.
The current USS America, which was commissioned in 2014, is different from other amphibious assault ships in that it lacks a well deck and features increased space for aviation assets.
The Navy and the Marines have used the ship for “Lightning Carrier” experiments, which have involved loading the ship up with a heavy configuration of around a dozen F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.
In photos from the amphibious assault ship’s recent deployment, a lighter configuration of the fifth-generation fighters can be seen on the America’s deck as the new battle flag flies above.
Battle flags are a Navy tradition with a long history.”From Oliver Hazard Perry’s ‘Don’t Give Up the Ship’ flag at the Battle of Lake Erie to George Dewey’s ‘FIGHT!’ flag in the Battle of Manila and into the modern era, battle flags or ‘house flags’ have been used to motivate, rally, and inspire ship’s Sailors and Marines,” the America’s CO told Insider. “These flags express unit pride and the fighting spirit of the crew.”
In addition to its new flag, the America also features a number of other star-spangled decorations, such as the doors of the RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) launcher cells, The Drive, which first reported the ship’s new flag, noted.
Russia must scrap its Novator 9M729 missile systems and launchers or reduce their range to comply with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) and prevent a U.S. withdrawal from the Cold War-era pact, U.S. officials say.
Andrea Thompson, the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, told reporters on a teleconference call on Dec. 6, 2018, that the weapons system has a range that is not in compliance with the 1987 INF pact.
She added that Moscow must “rid the system, rid the launcher, or change the system so it doesn’t exceed the range” to bring Russia back “to full and verifiable compliance.”
“The ball’s in Russia’s court. We can’t do that for them. They have to take the initiative,” she added.
U.S. President Donald Trump announced in October 2018 that Washington would abandon the INF, citing alleged Russian violation and concerns that the bilateral treaty binds Washington to restrictions while leaving nuclear-armed countries that are not signatories, such as China, free to develop and deploy the missiles.
U.S. officials have said Russia’s deployment of the 9M729, also known as the SSC-8, breaches the ban on ground-launched cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.
On Dec. 4, 2018, the United States said it would suspend its obligations under the treaty if Moscow did not return to compliance within two months.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the decision after NATO allies meeting in Brussels “strongly” supported U.S. accusations that Russia violated the terms of the INF.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
(Photo by Gage Skidmore)
“During this 60 days, we will still not test or produce or deploy any systems, and we’ll see what happens during this 60-day period,” Pompeo said.
Russian officials have repeatedly dismissed such demands, and President Vladimir Putin gave no indication that Moscow plans to abandon the 9M729, which it claims does not violate the treaty.
Russia has alleged that some elements of U.S. missile-defense systems in Europe were in violation of the treaty, which Washington denies.
The U.S. ambassador to Moscow, Jon Huntsman, who was on the briefing call with Thompson, insisted that a U.S. withdrawal from the INF did not mean “we are walking away from arms control.”
“We are doing this to preserve the viability and integrity of arms control agreements more broadly,” he said.
“We remain committed to arms control, but we need a reliable partner and do not have one in Russia on INF, or for that matter on other treaties that it’s violating.”
He said “one can only surmise” that Moscow is attempting to “somehow seek an advantage” with the missile — “a little bit like violations we’re seeing with other treaties, whether it’s the Open Skies Treaty or whether it’s the Chemical Weapons Convention.”
This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.
The US and British navies have conducted their first joint military drills in the South China Sea, where a rising China is tightening its grip.
The US Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll have spent the past six days training together in the South China Sea.
Their mission was to address “common maritime security priorities, enhance interoperability, and develop relationships that will benefit both navies for many years to come,” the US Navy said in a press statement Jan. 16, 2019.
“We are pleased with the opportunity to train alongside our closest ally,” Cmdr. Toby Shaughnessy, the commanding officer of the Argyll, said.
The exercise follows an earlier trilateral drill in the Philippine Sea focused on anti-submarine warfare and involving the US Navy, Royal Navy, and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
Both the US and British navies have run afoul of Beijing in the contested waterway.
The guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication 1st Class Bobbie G. Attaway)
Following a freedom-of-navigation operation carried out by the USS McCampbell near the Chinese-occupied Paracel Islands on Jan. 7, 2019, Beijing accused the US of trespassing in Chinese waters.
The following day, Chinese media warned that the Chinese military had deployed “far-reaching, anti-ship ballistic missiles” capable of targeting “medium and large ships” in the South China Sea.
In September 2018, a Chinese warship challenged the destroyer USS Decatur during a FONOP in the Spratlys, nearly colliding with the American vessel and risking a potentially deadly conflict.
Earlier that same month, the Chinese military confronted the Royal Navy amphibious assault ship HMS Albion when it sailed close to the Paracel Islands.
China sharply criticized the British ship, asserting that the vessel “violated Chinese law and relevant international law and infringed on China’s sovereignty.”
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
Ukraine’s border service has said that it will only allow Ukrainian citizens to travel to Crimea following the imposition of martial law.
Kyiv imposed martial law in 10 of its 27 regions for 30 days on Nov. 28, 2018, after Russian forces fired on Ukrainian ships and seized 23 sailors in the Black Sea off the coast of the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula.
“In connection with the introduction of martial law, the administrative border with temporarily occupied Crimea can be crossed exclusively with Ukrainian documents,” a spokesman said on Nov. 29, 2018.
Citizens from all nations were previously allowed to enter Crimea through the administrative border via mainland Ukraine. But the process for doing so for non-Ukrainians was fraught with bureaucracy.
Crimea is accessible by plane from Russia or via Russia’s newly built bridge from the country’s mainland. But under Ukrainian law, those routes are illegal. Violators — and there have been many — are given official bans of three years or longer by Kyiv.
Earlier in the day, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on NATO to send ships to the Sea of Azov to help protect Ukraine.
He claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin sees himself as a “Russian emperor” and Ukraine as a Russian “colony.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Ukrainian president later on Nov. 29, 2018, tweeted that Kyiv will impose “restrictions” on Russian citizens in Ukraine.
“No need to run to shops and buy matches and salt. There will be no restrictions on cash withdrawals, currency-exchange operations, travels abroad for Ukrainian citizens. For Russian citizens, these restrictions will be introduced. And I think that’s quite justified,” he wrote.
Relations between Moscow and Kyiv have deteriorated after Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and shortly thereafter began supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine in a conflict that has left more than 10,300 dead since April 2014.
In an interview with the German tabloid Bild published early on Nov. 29, 2018, Poroshenko said he hoped European states will take active steps, including increasing sanctions and military protection against Russia, to help Ukraine after providing verbal support in the wake of Russia’s capture of 24 Ukrainian sailors.
“We hope that NATO states are prepared to send naval ships to the Sea of Azov to support Ukraine and provide security,” Poroshenko said.
“The only language he [Putin] understands is the solidarity of the Western world,” Poroshenko said. “We can’t accept Russia’s aggressive policies. First it was Crimea, then eastern Ukraine, now he wants the Sea of Azov.”
Opening a German-Ukrainian economic forum in Berlin later in the day, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she planned to press Putin at a Group of 20 (G20) summit to urge the release of the ships and crews.
“We can only resolve this in talks with one another because there is no military solution to all of these conflicts,” she added.
Dzhemil Temishev wrote on Facebook on November 29 that his “colleagues” in the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow had informed him that some of the Ukrainian sailors had been brought there.
Also on Nov. 29, 2018, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov criticized Poroshenko’s request for NATO to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov, saying it was “aimed at provoking further tensions” and driven by Poroshenko’s “electoral and domestic policy motives.”
A NATO spokeswoman said the alliance already had a strong presence in the region, with vessels routinely patrolling and exercising in the Black Sea.
“There is already a lot of NATO in the Black Sea, and we will continue to assess our presence in the region,” Oana Lungescu said.
The Sea of Azov is the body of water that separates the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, from the Ukrainian and Russian mainlands. Russia opened a bridge over the Kerch Strait connecting Crimea with Russia in May and has asserted control over the strait.
The Kerch Strait is the only route for ships traveling between the Sea of Azov, where Ukraine has several ports, and the Black Sea, which is the arena usually patrolled by NATO.
Ukraine is a partner of NATO but not a member of the military alliance. NATO has already said it “stands with Ukraine” and has called on Russia to release the captured ships and their crews.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also warned Russia on Nov. 26, 2018, that “its actions have consequences.”
Poroshenko, who on Nov. 28, 2018, instituted martial law in parts of Ukraine in response to the Russian actions, told Bild he had evidence suggesting Russia is planning a new ground offensive against Ukraine, and he said he had shown NATO partners satellite pictures supporting that allegation.
“Germany also has to ask itself: What will Putin do next if we don’t stop him?” Poroshenko told Bild.
Ukrainian parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy has joined Poroshenko in calling for increased protection from NATO, saying on Nov. 27, 2018, that “I urged [NATO] to increase [its presence] in the airspace above the Black Sea and the number of military ships in the Black Sea as a guarantee of security and a guarantee of stability in the Black Sea.”
EU: ‘Utmost Concern,’ But No New Sanctions
Poroshenko’s remarks came as the European Union failed to muster support for any immediate new steps to either impose new sanctions on Russia over the naval incident or increase enforcement of existing sanctions on Moscow.
Poland, Britain, and the EU’s Baltic states have called for more sanctions, but after three days of debate, the EU’s 28 states could agree only to issue a statement on Nov. 28, 2018, expressing “utmost concern about the dangerous increase of tensions” and the “unacceptable” use of force by Russia.
The statement issued by EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini did not mention sanctions, saying only that the bloc will “act appropriately” while continuing to monitor the situation.
The bloc’s top powers, Germany and France, have so far emphasized efforts to ease tensions. Other members, including Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, and Cyprus, have been calling for a softening of sanctions on Moscow.
The EU first imposed sanctions on Russia after it seized Crimea, and it has ratcheted up those sanctions from time to time. The United States on Nov. 27, 2018, called for stricter enforcement of the EU’s existing sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials and businesses.
While the EU failed to take any immediate action against Russia, in a gesture of solidarity with Ukraine, Estonia said on Nov. 28, 2018, that it had summoned its Russian ambassador and condemned Russia’s use of military force in the incident.
The steady increase in deadly violence that Mexico has experienced over recent years continued in May 2018, when 2,890 people were killed — an average of 93 a day, or almost four victims an hour.
The total number of victims surpasses the 2,746 recorded in March 2018 to make May 2018 the deadliest month this year, and it topped the 2,750 victims registered in October 2017, making May 2018 the deadliest month in two decades, the period for which the government has released homicide data.
There were also 2,530 homicide cases opened in May 2018. Cases can contain more than one victim, and May’s total was the most in a month in 2018 and the most on record. The daily average of 93.2 homicide cases was also an increase over April 2018, when it was 90.7 cases a day.
Deadly violence in Mexico has steadily increased since 2015, after declining during the first two full years of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s term, which started in December 2012.
There were 7,167 homicide victims during the first five months of 2015, which closed with 17,892 victims. There were 8,364 victims between January and May 2017, increasing to 22,569 by the end of that year.
2017 had 10,988 homicide victims during the first five months and ended with 28,710 victims, which was a record for a full year.
There were 13,298 homicide victims recorded in the first five months of 2018, putting the year on pace for 31,915 killings.
The homicide rate between January and May 2018 was 9.17 cases per 100,000 people, a 75% increase over the 5.25 cases during the same period in 2015, according to Mexican news site Animal Politico.
“We are nearing a level of 100 homicides a day in the country, and with an upward trend, we still don’t see a break,” Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said on June 21, 2018, on radio show Atando Cabos.
Much of the increase since 2015 has been attributed to organized crime, especially in areas where organized-crime groups are clashing or where larger criminal groups have fragmented into smaller factions.
Such fragmentation often leads to more violence as smaller groups compete with each other. Those groups are also more likely to prey local populations, adding to insecurity.
Colima, one of Mexico’s smallest states by population, is also its most violent, with a rate of 33.17 homicide cases per 100,000 people through May 2018.
Baja California, which borders the US in northwest Mexico, was also among the most violent of Mexico’s 32 states, with a homicide rate of 29.47 per 100,000 people. Much of that bloodshed has taken place in Tijuana, which borders San Diego. Tijuana had 975 of the state’s 1,218 homicide victims during the first five months of the year; the head of the rapid reaction police force in Rosarito, a town near Tijuana, was found slain in Tijuana on the morning of June 20 2018.
Chihuahua, another northern border state, had a rate of 17.16 homicides per 100,000 people, and the 801 homicide victims there between January 2017 and May 2018 were an increase over the 752 during the same period in 2017.
“Chihuahua caught my attention a lot in May. It’s back in the top 5. Something also happened in Ciudad Juarez,” Hope said, referring to the state’s major border city, which was the site of extreme drug-related violence between 2008 and 2012.
Femicides, or killings that specifically target women, have consistently increased over the past three years. The 328 femicides recorded through May 2018 were over 100% more than the 153 over the same period in 2015.
While reports of kidnapping and extortion were down slightly over the first five months of 2018, there was a 22% increase in violent car thefts and a 39% increase in street-level drug dealing.
Homicide data for May 2018 was released 10 days before Mexicans vote in nationwide elections on July 1, 2018, in which 3,400 elected offices are up for grabs, including the presidency.
The United States says it is halting deliveries to Turkey related to the F-35 fighter-jet program in response to Ankara’s decision to move ahead with the purchase of Russian air-defense system.
“Pending an unequivocal Turkish decision to forgo delivery of the S-400, deliveries and activities associated with the stand-up of Turkey’s F-35 operational capability have been suspended while our dialogue on this important matter continues with Turkey,” a Pentagon spokesperson said on April 1, 2019.
Washington has been warning Ankara for months that buying the S-400 system would jeopardize its planned purchase of the advanced fighter aircraft.
Turkey has said it is committed to a deal to buy S-400 missile-defense systems from Russia.
Russian television anchor Pavel Lobkov was in the studio getting ready for his show when jarring news flashed across his phone: Some of his most intimate messages had just been published to the web.
Days earlier, the veteran journalist had come out live on air as HIV-positive, a taboo-breaking revelation that drew responses from hundreds of Russians fighting their own lonely struggles with the virus. Now he’d been hacked.
“These were very personal messages,” Lobkov said in a recent interview, describing a frantic call to his lawyer in an abortive effort to stop the spread of nearly 300 pages of Facebook correspondence, including sexually explicit messages. Even two years later, he said, “it’s a very traumatic story.”
The Associated Press found that Lobkov was targeted by the hacking group known as Fancy Bear in March 2015, nine months before his messages were leaked. He was one of at least 200 journalists, publishers and bloggers targeted by the group as early as mid-2014 and as recently as a few months ago.
The AP identified journalists as the third-largest group on a hacking hit list obtained from cybersecurity firm Secureworks, after diplomatic personnel and U.S. Democrats. About 50 of the journalists worked at The New York Times. Another 50 were either foreign correspondents based in Moscow or Russian reporters like Lobkov who worked for independent news outlets. Others were prominent media figures in Ukraine, Moldova, the Baltics or Washington.
The list of journalists provides new evidence for the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Fancy Bear acted on behalf of the Russian government when it intervened in the U.S. presidential election. Spy agencies say the hackers were working to help Republican Donald Trump. The Russian government has denied interfering in the American election.
Previous AP reporting has shown how Fancy Bear — which Secureworks nicknamed Iron Twilight — used phishing emails to try to compromise Russian opposition leaders, Ukrainian politicians and U.S. intelligence figures, along with Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and more than 130 other Democrats.
Lobkov, 50, said he saw hacks like the one that turned his day upside-down in December 2015 as dress rehearsals for the email leaks that struck the Democrats in the United States the following year.
“I think the hackers in the service of the Fatherland were long getting their training on our lot before venturing outside.”
New Yorker writer Masha Gessen said it was also in 2015 — when Secureworks first detected attempts to break into her Gmail — that she began noticing people who seemed to materialize next to her in public places in New York and speak loudly in Russian into their phones, as if trying to be overheard. She said this only happened when she put appointments into the online calendar linked to her Google account.
Gessen, the author of a book about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rise to power, said she saw the incidents as threats.
“It was really obvious,” she said. “It was a classic KGB intimidation tactic.”
Other U.S.-based journalists targeted include Josh Rogin, a Washington Post columnist, and Shane Harris, who was covering the intelligence community for The Daily Beast in 2015. Harris said he dodged the phishing attempt, forwarding the email to a source in the security industry who told him almost immediately that Fancy Bear was involved.
In Russia, the majority of journalists targeted by the hackers worked for independent news outlets like Novaya Gazeta or Vedomosti, though a few — such as Tina Kandelaki and Ksenia Sobchak — are more mainstream. Sobchak has even launched an improbable bid for the Russian presidency.
Investigative reporter Roman Shleynov noted that the Gmail hackers targeted was the one he used while working on the Panama Papers, the expose of international tax avoidance that implicated members of Putin’s inner circle.
Fancy Bear also pursued more than 30 media targets in Ukraine, including many journalists at the Kyiv Post and others who have reported from the front lines of the Russia-backed war in the country’s east.
Nataliya Gumenyuk, co-founder of Ukrainian internet news site Hromadske, said the hackers were hunting for compromising information.
“The idea was to discredit the independent Ukrainian voices,” she said.
The hackers also tried to break into the personal Gmail account of Ellen Barry, The New York Times’ former Moscow bureau chief.
Her newspaper appears to have been a favorite target. Fancy Bear sent phishing emails to roughly 50 of Barry’s colleagues at The Times in late 2014, according to two people familiar with the matter. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential data.
The Times confirmed in a brief statement that its employees received the malicious messages, but the newspaper declined to comment further.
Some journalists saw their presence on the hackers’ hit list as vindication. Among them were CNN security analyst Michael Weiss and Brookings Institution visiting fellow Jamie Kirchick, who took the news as a badge of honor.
“I’m very proud to hear that,” Kirchick said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists said the wide net cast by Fancy Bear underscores efforts by governments worldwide to use hacking against journalists.
“It’s about gaining access to sources and intimidating those journalists,” said Courtney C. Radsch, the group’s advocacy director.
In Russia, the stakes are particularly high. The committee has counted 38 murders of journalists there since 1992.
Many journalists told the AP they knew they were under threat, explaining that they had added a second layer of password protection to their emails and only chatted over encrypted messaging apps like Telegram, WhatsApp or Signal.
Fancy Bear target Ekaterina Vinokurova, who works for regional media outlet Znak, said she routinely deletes her emails.
“I understand that my accounts may be hacked at any time,” she said in a telephone interview. “I’m ready for them.”
“I’VE SEEN WHAT THEY COULD DO”
It’s not just whom the hackers tried to spy on that points to the Russian government.
Maria Titizian, an Armenian journalist, immediately found significance in the date she was targeted: June 26, 2015.
“It was Electric Yerevan,” she said, referring to protests over rising energy bills that she reported on. The protests that rocked Armenia’s capital that summer were initially seen by some in Moscow as a threat to Russian influence.
Titizian said her outspoken criticism of the Kremlin’s “colonial attitude” toward Armenia could have made her a target.
Eliot Higgins, whose open source journalism site Bellingcat repeatedly crops up on the target list, said the phishing attempts seemed to begin “once we started really making strong statements about MH17,” the Malaysian airliner shot out of the sky over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing 298 people. Bellingcat played a key role in marshaling the evidence that the plane was destroyed by a Russian missile — Moscow’s denials notwithstanding.
The clearest timing for a hacking attempt may have been that of Adrian Chen.
On June 2, 2015, Chen published a prescient expose of the Internet Research Agency, the Russian “troll factory” that won fresh infamy in October over revelations that it had manufactured make-believe Americans to pollute social media with toxic rhetoric.
Eight days after Chen published his big story, Fancy Bear tried to break into his account.
Chen, who has regularly written about the darker recesses of the internet, said having a lifetime of private messages exposed to the internet could be devastating.
“I’ve covered a lot of these leaks,” he said. “I’ve seen what they could do.”
The “citizen soldiers” of the National Guard and Reserve have a long history of stepping up when America needed them.
Here are 8 heroes who left their civilian jobs to kick the enemy in the teeth:
1. The general who waded ashore with the first wave on D-Day
The son of the popular president, Brig. Gen. Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. served in both World Wars. In the first one, he was a reserve officer who received a Distinguished Service Cross for rescuing a wounded man under fire, a Silver Star for leading his men while blinded by a gas attack, and an Army Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership in battalion command, along with another Silver Star for valor.
It was in World War II that the reservist really shone. He was decorated for valor in the Tunisian Campaign three times, twice for leading his own men into heavy fire and once for taking command of 3,000 Frenchmen and leading them. He received a Medal of Honor for his actions on D-Day when he landed on the beaches with the first wave and personally led waves of men through the deadly surf.
2. The private first class who took out an enemy pillbox with just a bomb and a knife
Pfc. Michael J. Perkins was in Belleu Bois, France Oct. 27, 1918 with his Massachusetts National Guard infantry company when Germans started throwing grenades at his unit from a pillbox. Perkins crawled up to the pillbox door and, when the Germans opened it to throw out more grenades, he threw his own bomb inside.
Immediately after the explosion, Perkins rushed in with his trench knife and began stabbing people until the 25 survivors surrendered, giving the Americans a new pillbox and 7 functioning machineguns, according to Perkins’ Medal of Honor citation.
3. A convicted deserter who received the Medal of Honor and other medals for valor
4. The leader of the 2nd Ranger Battalion and the most daring mission on D-Day
Lt. Col. Earl Rudder led one of the most dangerous missions of D-Day, the assault up the cliffs of Pointe du Hoc. Rudder and his 2nd Ranger Battalion climbed sheer cliffs with tiny rope ladders while under fire from German defenders.
In 1945, he became president and the only reservist to order an atomic strike, something he did twice. He also led America for most of the Korean War and the start of the Cold War.
6. The corporal who assumed command of a platoon attack in World War I
The Alabama National Guard’s Company G of the 167th Infantry was just starting its assault on a fortified, elevated position in Jul. 1918 when the platoon commander and platoon sergeant were both killed. Cpl. Sidney E. Manning was also severely wounded but rallied the 35 surviving members of the platoon and continued the assault.
Staff Sgt. Beauford T. Anderson was repelling a Japanese assault with the 96th Infantry Regiment (Organized Reserves) when a Japanese assault hit his unit’s flank. He and his men fell back into an old tomb and tried to fight off the attack.
When he ran low on ammo, he grabbed a dud mortar round and threw it at the Japanese. The resulting explosion tore a hole in the attacking force, so Anderson armed and threw more mortar rounds. He was credited with single-handedly defeating the attack and received a Medal of Honor. He also received a Bronze Star with Valor for rescuing two wounded soldiers under fire on Leyte.
8. The private who tried to take a machinegun nest with a bayonet
Pfc. George Dilboy was walking with his platoon leader in the 103rd Infantry Regiment on a railroad track when they were attacked by an enemy machinegun only 100 yards away. Dilboy immediately returned fire while standing in the open. When that didn’t work, he sprinted at the gun with his bayonet fixed until the gunners nearly amputated his right leg and hit him multiple times in the body.