News you may have missed #0243

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Analysis: Cyprus-Russia-Israel Arms Affair Points to Wider Questions

TOR-M1 radar

TOR-M1 radar

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Diplomatic observers were surprised in November 2008, when the then Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to meet his Cypriot counterpart, Dimitris Christofias, during the latter’s official visit to Moscow. Considering the traditionally close bilateral ties between Russia and Cyprus, the excuse from President Putin’s office, that he was too busy attending his United Russia party’s national conference, appeared unconvincing. An article published recently in Greek-Cypriot newspaper O Politis, traced the cause of the Russian President’s apparent snub to a 2007 attempt by the Cypriot government to hand over parts of a Russian-made missile system to Israel. The paper said the Cypriot plan was hatched in response to a request by Israeli intelligence officials, who were interested in acquiring technical insights into the Russian-made TOR-M1 surface-to-air missile defense system. The Israelis were concerned about the TOR-M1 because Iran was also said to be using a variant of the same system, which features a radar apparatus unknown to Israel, the United States or NATO. On the website of the Research Institute for European and American Studies, I explain what this alleged breach of trust between traditional Greek ally Cyprus and Russia may mean for the wider geostrategic balances in the east Mediterranean. Read article →

Article on formerly unknown Soviet spy published

George Koval

George Koval

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
On November 2, 2007, some of Russia’s most senior military and intelligence officials gathered at the Kremlin to honor a Soviet spy whose name was until then completely absent from the annals of espionage history. Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov and Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) chief Valentin Korabelnikov were among several officials who joined Russian president Vladimir Putin to pay tribute to George Koval. Koval was an American citizen born in Iowa to immigrant parents from Belarus. In 1932, Koval, his parents and two brothers, all of whom were US citizens, moved back to the then rapidly developing Soviet Union to escape the effects of the Great Depression. It was there that the young George Koval was recruited by the GRU, the foreign military intelligence directorate of the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces. He received Soviet citizenship and returned to the US through San Francisco in October 1940. Read more of this post

Ex-KGB agent, wanted for murder in Britain, to run for mayor

Lugovoy

Lugovoy

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS| intelNews.org |
Andrey Lugovoy, who is wanted in Britain for the 2006 murder of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, is poised to run for mayor in the Russian city of Sochi. British authorities believe that Lugovoy, who served in the KGB and in Russia’s Federal Protective Service (FSO) from 1987 to 1996, carried out the radioactive poisoning of Litvinenko, a former intelligence officer who had defected to the UK. Litvinenko, who was a vocal critic of former Russian President Vladimir Putin, came down with radioactive poisoning soon after meeting Lugovoy in a London restaurant. The latter is believed by British authorities to have acted “with the backing of the Russian state”. A victory by Lugovoy in next month’s mayoral race could potentially pose a diplomatic challenge for London, as Sochi will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. If he wins, therefore, the prime murder suspect will be expected to lead local officials in “welcoming the British team to the Games”. Britain’s Daily Telegraph notes that such a possibility could ultimately “lead to the first ever British boycott of an Olympic Games”. Read more of this post