Russia vs. Ukraine Update:
So, the reporting from various intelligence agencies spoke of a February 16 invasion date and that date has officially come and gone and to no surprise to anyone within our organization, there was no invasion on that date. We have been adamant from the beginning that an invasion date will coincide with the end of the Olympics. Both Putin and Chinese President Xi met during the opening ceremonies of the winter Olympics and while the details of their conversation has not bee released there was some speculation that Putin had informed Xi of an impending invasion that would happen during the Olympics.
If that conversation did in fact happen, it looks as if Xi requested that Putin delay his plans for invasion of Ukraine until after the Olympics. Now, in true Putin fashion, Russia said it is withdrawing some of its forces from areas close to the Ukrainian border after completing military drills, while mocking Western intelligence agencies for naming February 16 as the date a Russian invasion of its neighbor would start.
Let’s be clear, this is not a game of chess, or 3D chess or even 4D chess, this is geopolitics at its finest. Western intelligence agencies, to include the private agency like Aucoin Analytics, will continue to release information with the sole purpose of thwarting an attack by Russian military. What Russia will continue to do is mock those agencies until all integrity is lost and then invade under a false flag operation.
What is a False Flag Operation?:
A false flag operation is an act committed with the intent of disguising the actual source of responsibility and pinning blame on another party. The term "false flag" originated in the 16th century as a purely figurative expression to mean "a deliberate misrepresentation of someone's affiliation or motives".
Examples of past "False Flag" Operations:
Russo-Swedish War Sweden’s military was one of the first to use false flags when they attacked Puumala in 1788 – a Swedish outpost on the old Russo-Swedish border. The group wore fake Russian soldier uniforms made by a local tailor to stage the attack. The Swedish National Assembly, which until then had refused to agree to a war against Russia, then launched an offensive in retaliation. Sweden’s King Gustav III, who unlike the assembly did not have the authority to launch such an attack, was then able to spark the Russo-Swedish war – which lasted for two years.
Second Sino-Japanese War
Japanese officers fabricated a pretext for invading Manchuria in September 1931 after they blew up a section of railway. Despite the damage being minor and rail services not being disrupted, the Japanese used this Mukden incident to seize Manchuria. Japan then made Manchuria into an “independent state."
Gleiwitz Incident In 1939 the German leader Adolf Hitler used false flag tactics in the Gleiwitz incident. During the incident German attackers posed as Polish soldiers to stage an attack on a radio station in the country. The attack resulted in sections of the German public supporting an invasion of Poland which provoked World War 2. Hitler said just before the invasion of Poland: “Its credibility doesn’t matter. The victor will not be asked whether he told the truth.”
How Putin could potentially use a False Flag Operation to his advantage:
President Putin is planning to fabricate a pretext for an invasion of Ukraine by creating a graphic propaganda video that would depict a fake attack by Ukraine against Russia. The prevailing thought is that Russia plans to release a very graphic video which would include corpses and actors that would be depicting mourners and images of destroyed locations, as well as military equipment at the hands of Ukraine.
Ukrainian Intelligence agency InformNapalm has released data on the conduct of secret underwater technical work by the Russian Federation in the area of the Kerch Strait. They received validated information from Crimea that Russia is preparing to create Casus belli, or situation provoking war, to justify aggression against Ukraine.
Among the options, the Russian special services are considering carrying out including the Crimean bridge, as well as false videos of Russian civilians being harmed or killed by Ukrainian military. In most cases we would want to keep this information classified, but I can tell you from personal experience that Overt operations, as opposed to covert, are the best form of de-escalation practices with Russia.
So, I already know the answer to this question but I will ask anyway, Have you changed your opinion on if and when Russia could invade Ukraine?
Are overt operations going to deter Russia?: Now, I know what most people are thinking, Intelligence information is supposed to be classified so why release the information ahead of time?
The United States have been in an overt operation to thwart Russian aggression for years now and the hope is that if the information is released, it helps prevent President Putin from invading countries like Ukraine, Estonia, and Poland. You and I had this conversation privately this week as the news was coming out on the possibility of a Russian invasion on the 16th. I remain steadfast in my opinion that the invasion would occur after the Olympics. That timeline is still valid. It will take a complete diplomatic win for Western Europe and the United States to thwart the inevitable invasion.
Potential DDoS attack on Ukraine:
Was there a cyber attack on Ukraine, and who is responsible?
That depends on who you ask. There was an obvious cyber attack on Ukrainian bank websites as well as government websites. It is known in the cyber community as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Those attacks lasted for almost 24 hours and could have been worse had the intelligence communities in the US, UK, and Europe not shared the threat with the Ukrainian government and helped plan a Cyber Security reaction to any foreign hacking attempt. Even though it was not as successful as intended, the attack was the largest in the history of Ukraine. The internet traffic hitting Ukrainian websites during the DDoS attack was three orders of magnitude more than regularly observed traffic.
A Ukrainian intelligence report pointed to Russia's effort to destabilize Ukraine's internal situation by using economic, energy, information, cyber, social, ethnic, and other tools. While it is unknown at the moment whether Russia was involved in this cyber attack, Ukraine has concluded that Russia and Belarus were responsible for a separate cyberattack that hit government websites last month. Similarities in the infrastructure used in this week’s attack and the one last month suggest the incidents could be connected.
Let’s stay in the cyber realm and talk Russian Propaganda. What is going on with the Zero Hedge reports?
The Russian Propoganda Machine:
U.S. intelligence officials this week accused a conservative financial news website with a significant American readership of amplifying Kremlin propaganda and alleged five media outlets targeting Ukrainians have taken direction from Russian spies.
Is no one safe from Russian Propaganda?
It seems as if the answer to that question is no. Now, I am sure everyone not in the conservative financial market is wondering who the hell Zero Hedge is. Well, it is reportedly a far-right libertarian financial blog, that releases staff-written articles and aggregated news and opinions from external sources.
In 2009 it released a manifesto on its operations stating:
"...to widen the scope of financial, economic and political information available to the professional investing public. To skeptically examine and, where necessary, attack the flaccid institution that financial journalism has become. To liberate oppressed knowledge. To provide analysis uninhibited by political constraint. To facilitate information's unending quest for freedom." Their method: pseudonymous speech...
“Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. it thus exemplifies the purpose behind the bill of rights, and of the first amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation-- and their ideas from suppression-- at the hand of an intolerant society.”
The right to remain anonymous may be abused when it shields fraudulent conduct. But political speech by its nature will sometimes have unpalatable consequences, and, in general, our society accords greater weight to the value of free speech than to the dangers of its misuse.
In this situation is appears, Zero Hedge published articles created by Moscow-controlled media that were then shared by outlets and people unaware of their nexus to Russian intelligence. Zero Hedge denied the claims and said it tries to “publish a wide spectrum of views that cover both sides of a given story.” The website went on to say it has “has never worked, collaborated or cooperated with Russia, nor are there any links to spy agencies.”
Who do you believe?
Both, which sounds like a cop out I know, but in researching Russian propaganda for as many years as I have, this is typical of how their agencies work. Now, the journalists promoting this report, are using it as proof of a far right pro-Russia conspiracy when the fact is that Russia doesn’t care about your political affiliation. Case in point, during the summer protests of 2020, Russian bots were the leading distributors of information pertaining to racial instability in the United States. Many independent journalists were caught in the Russian crosshairs agreeing to write articles about the US’s poor history of race relations that would then go on to provoke more anti-US dialogue. Russian Troll farms reached 140 million Americans a month on Facebook, 75% of whom had never followed any of the pages, before 2020 election, mainly promoting pages for Christian and Black American content.
Russian Troll Farms and their campaign of misinformation:
The troll farm pages combined to make the largest Christian American page on Facebook, 20 times larger than the next largest—reaching 75 million US users monthly, 95% of whom had never followed any of the pages.
The largest African-American page on Facebook, three times larger than the next largest—reaching 30 million US users monthly, 85% of whom had never followed any of the pages.
The second-largest Native American page on Facebook, reaching 400,000 users monthly, 90% of whom had never followed any of the pages.
The fifth-largest women’s page on Facebook, reaching 60 million US users monthly, 90% of whom had never followed any of the pages.
So, with all that said, trust no one and verify everything through Multi-Sourced reporting. Don’t let your uncle on Facebook tell you how to think.
Estonia's Security Report:
What multi-source information do you have there?
Well, you got me on that because I am taking this report at face value, and understanding that Estonia, a country we love visiting, has done their due diligence. Estonia is reporting that Russian forces concentrated on the Ukrainian border pose an immediate threat to Ukraine and an ultimatum to the West. By the second half of February 2022, Russia has created the conditions and capabilities necessary to launch a large-scale military offensive against Ukraine if the Russian leadership so decides. Also, Russia’s military capabilities and readiness continue to grow. As always, I will link the report in the show notes as it shows how we got to where we are with Russia and Ukraine. It is quite an enlightening read.
Did they say anything about Russia’s Intelligence operations?
The report states Russia’s s intelligence centers do not only work against countries bordering Russia but also gather information on other European nations. The GRU’s intelligence centers recruit people with access to classified information - but also ordinary citizens - to have them observe sites of interest to the GRU or carry out other more mundane tasks.
So, my warning to everyone is once again to verify the information someone is saying and while we shouldn’t be branding every opposing opinion as Russian disinformation, we should also not take information at face value.
Naval engineer and wife plead guilty:
A Navy nuclear engineer and his wife, who live in nearby Annapolis, Maryland were arrested in October on charges of trying to pass secrets to a foreign government.
So, in light of that information, what information do you have about the recent conviction of the accused naval engineer spy?
This week the couple plead guilty to the charges.
They were reported to have divulged thousands of pages of documents with schematic designs, operating parameters, and performance characteristics about a “nuclear-powered cruise missile fast- attack submarine,” known in the U.S. Navy as the Virginia-class of submarines.
The crime of conspiring to communicate restricted data to a person with the intent to injure the U.S. or provide an advantage to a foreign nation carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. Investigators learned of the plot the couple’s sales pitch was forwarded to the FBI. The agency set up a sting operation that allegedly caught the couple going to “dead drop” sites within driving distance from their home.
Do we know what country they were trying to sell secrets to?
I am sure the FBI knows, but I do not know at this time and I will not even speculate as it appears their “foreign handler” was in fact an FBI agent.
How long could they potentially be in prison?
Well, if they went to trial and were convicted they could be sentenced to life in prison, however, the husband has agreed to plead guilty and the plea bargin could limit jail time to 15 years.
History's Mysteries: Mary Bowser
In keeping with our monthly theme of Black History, we have another incredible story of a slave spying on individuals that helped win a war. This week we discuss Mary Jane Richards, also known as Mary Bowser, who was a Union spy during the Civil War.
She was probably born enslaved from birth in Virginia, but there is no documentation of where she was born or who her parents were.
Then what do we know about her?
Today, as growing interest in African American and women’s history has brought increased attention to “Mary Bowser,” what circulates often remains distorted at best, and patently false at worst, but what we do know is Mary Richards Bowser was born into slavery and later became a missionary to Liberia, then a Union spy in the Confederate White House during the American Civil War, and a teacher at a freedmen’s schools.
As a child, she was owned by the Van Lew family of Richmond; Elizabeth Van Lew, who had arranged for her to be educated in the North and provided her with de facto freedom prior to the war, ran a pro- Union intelligence ring in which Bowser played an important role.
Historians have corroborated the intelligence activities that included smuggling information to and from Union military leaders positioned outside the city, providing supplies to Union soldiers held prisoner within the Confederate capital, and aiding prisoners to escape, as well as disrupting Confederate military and government operations.
Free blacks and slaves were integral participants in the pro-Union underground, although the precise contributions of individual African Americans remain difficult to discern. Bowser’s involvement can be tracked through different sources.
In the years immediately following the Civil War, Bowser recounted her own espionage, claiming to have “clandestinely entered in the Rebel Senate while in secret session”; she helped capture Confederate officers and contraband tobacco in Fredericksburg; aided Union soldiers being held prisoner; and met with “the Provost Marshal” appointed by Union forces following the fall of Richmond—as well as spying within the Confederate White House.
Bowser gained her freedom with the fall of the Confederacy in April 1865, as did millions of other African Americans. After the war she traveled north once, to give a series of talks about her antebellum and wartime experiences. She used different pseudonyms as a lecturer, likely an indication of how dangerous she perceived life to continue to be for any blacks regarded as having contributed to the Confederate defeat.
In an article by the Anglo African, details emerged of her condemnation of how Union soldiers stationed in Richmond after the fall of the Confederacy harassed African Americans, and her sharp criticism of northern blacks whom she felt were overly concerned with fashion and social status rather than education and social service.
She is considered the most fabled—and most elusive of the African American participants purported to have been part of Richmond’s Union underground and her full story will most likely remain elusive as generations have passed since her spying activities. But, make no mistake Mary Bowser was the most impressive spy, not black spy, not woman spy, of her era and lead to many Union victories during the American Civil war.
Anything else for this week?
After that, I think we are out of time this week.