Saturday, 24 February 2018
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Russian mercenary boss spoke with Kremlin before attacking US forces in Syria, intel claims

Added: 24.02.2018 10:06 | 0 views | 0 comments

A businessman known as “Putin's chef” spoke with top officials in Damascus and Moscow before Russian mercenaries he is believed to control launched a disastrous attack on US and Kurdish forces in Syria, according to US intelligence reports.  The news comes just days after the businessman, Yevgeny Prigozhin, was indicted in the United States for allegedly running a pro-Kremlin troll factory that interfered in the 2016 election.  The February 7 attack was the first deadly clash between citizens of Russia and the United States since the Cold War and suggests that tensions in Syria could grow even as the Islamic State is pushed back. Moscow initially denied the casualties. The foreign ministry later admitted at least five Russians had been killed and several dozen wounded, but said they weren't soldiers. Mr Prigozhin told a senior Syrian official in an intercepted communication in late January that he had received permission from a Russian minister for a “fast and strong” initiative and was waiting for a go-ahead from Damascus, according to intelligence reports seen by The Washington Post.  Kirill Ananyev had been working as a military contractor in Syria and was killed in the February 7 US airstrikes, a friend confirmed to The Telegraph Credit: Twitter US intelligence has said it believes Mr Prigozhin controls the Wagner private military company, and the reports suggest he closely coordinated the group's operations in Syria with the Kremlin.  The restaurant and catering magnate has in the past won lucrative contracts from the defence ministry. Close to Vladimir Putin, he has personally served the president on several occasions, including during meetings with George W. Bush.  At the end of January, Mr Prigozhin told Syrian officials that he had a “good surprise” for Bashar Assad “that would come between 6 and 9 February”. Presidential affairs minister Mansour Fadlallah Azzam reportedly promised Mr Prigozhin would be paid for his efforts. During the same period, Mr Prigozhin began communicating more frequently with top Kremlin officials, including Vladimir Putin's chief of staff Anton Vaino and deputy chief of staff Vladimir Ostrovenko, according to the intelligence reports. He spoke with Russian officials again the day after the calamitous attack.  Mr Putin's chief of staff Anton Vaino, left, who US intelligence said spoke with Mr Prigozhin before the attack, attends a Defender of the Fatherland Day ceremony on Friday Credit: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images Employees at Mr Prigozhin's Concord Catering company and Concord Management and Consulting declined to comment when reached by The Telegraph. The Kremlin had not replied to requests for comment on Friday. On February 7, between 300 and 500 pro-regime fighters supported by artillery, tank and rocket fire advanced on a Syrian Democratic Forces base at an oilfield near Deir Ezzor, according to the US military. US special forces at the base called in airstrikes that killed 100 enemy fighters, it said.  Many of those killed were Russians, a friend of one of the dead told The Telegraph last week. The Conflict Intelligence Team, which tracks Russian military activity, has named nine Russians who were killed in the strike and said many were Wagner group employees. It told The Telegraph that the Kremlin has come to rely on this illegal private military company to keep official casualty numbers low during its pro-Assad bombing campaign. Mr Putin promised not to deploy ground troops and said in December he would withdraw most forces. A Syrian pro-regime fighter who was also wounded in the US airstrikes on February 7 is seen in a hospital Credit: AFP/Getty Images A Syrian government contract seen by AP and Russian media promised a company linked to the Wagner group 25% of the profits from oil and gas fields its contractors could capture.  But it remains unclear why the Russians were allowed to charge to their deaths after US commanders had repeatedly warned their Russian counterparts the force should not advance.  Analyst Yury Barmin told The Telegraph that the Russian defence ministry may have been hostile toward Mr Prigozhin conducting a major operation without its approval.    “It looks like internal power struggle,” he said of the February 7 incident.  Mr Putin meets with George W. Bush and other world leaders at a 2006 dinner served by Mr Prigozhin, who is seen at right Credit: Sergei Zhukov/Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, file Mr Prigozhin has long been tied to the Wagner group, and his Concord Management and Consulting is headed by Dmitry Utkin, who was sanctioned by the United States as Wagner's leader, according to business records.  A US indictment last week said Mr Prigozhin's trolls impersonated Americans on social media to exacerbate divisions and promote Donald Trump.  Mr Putin, who thanked veterans of the Syrian operation in a speech last night, awarded a medal on Friday to the widow of a pilot who blew himself with a grenade after parachuting out over rebel territory.

FBI ‘investigating whether Russian money went to NRA’s campaign to help elect Donald Trump’

Added: 24.02.2018 7:04 | 0 views | 0 comments

Activists are demanding the National Rifle Association (NRA) reveal if it received donations from Russia, after it was reported the FBI is investigating whether a Kremlin-linked Moscow businessman channelled money to the group’s campaign to help Donald Trump win the election. With the influence of the NRA under mounting scrutiny following a school shooting in Florida and the campaign led by students to change the country’s gun laws, campaigners say it is vital that investigators uncover if the powerful lobbying group group used any Russian money to help elect Republican members of Congress and Mr Trump during the 2016 race. It is against the law to use foreign money in federal election campaigns.

Russia's Su-57 Deployment in Syria Is a Dangerous Farce

Added: 23.02.2018 22:11 | 0 views | 0 comments

Late in the evening on Feb. 21, 2018, a photograph appeared on social media purportedly showing two Russian Sukhoi T-50 prototype stealth fighters — also known as PAK-FAs or Su-57s — in the sky over Hmemmem air base in western Syria. Back in November 2017, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered most of the Russian military contingent in Syria to withdraw, two years after Moscow intervened in the ongoing regional war.

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Zidane offers condolences after Basque police officer´s death

Added: 23.02.2018 17:07 | 1 views | 0 comments

Zinedine Zidane joined Spanish politicians in expressing condolences to the family of the police officer who died following Thursday's clash between supporters of Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow. Inocencio Alonso Garcia, 51, suffered a fatal cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead at the Basurto University hospital after groups were filmed throwing flares amid violent scenes. ...]

Tags: Moscow, SPA

Moscow calls for 'guarantees' in proposed UN Syria ceasefire

Added: 23.02.2018 17:02 | 2 views | 0 comments

MOSCOW: Russia on Friday criticized a proposed UN resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, demanding that there be "guarantees" that the truce would be respected by the rebel fighters. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said of the proposal that "no one can answer the...

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Police officer dies after violent clashes before soccer game

Added: 23.02.2018 12:44 | 1 views | 0 comments

A police officer has died as rival fans violently clashed before a European soccer game between Spanish club Athletic Bilbao and Russian team Spartak Moscow.


Europa League: Last-16 draw in full

Added: 23.02.2018 12:27 | 1 views | 0 comments

The draw for the last 16 of the Europa League was held on Friday, with Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund among the names in the hat. Milan against Arsenal is the pick of the ties, while Atletico Madrid have been pitted against Lokomotiv Moscow. Lyon, attempting to reach the final at their Groupama Stadium ...]


Police officer dies after clashes between Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow fans

Added: 23.02.2018 1:07 | 0 views | 0 comments

An officer has died after clashes between Athletic Bilbao and Spartak Moscow fans in the Spanish city, the country's national police service has confirmed. The National Police Corps issued a statement via Twitter on Thursday, in which they offered their condolences to the family of an officer from the Ertzaintza, the regional force of the ...]

Tags: Moscow, SPA

Police officer dies as football fans riot - hooligan horror at Europa League

Added: 23.02.2018 1:00 | 0 views | 0 comments

A POLICE officer has died after football hooligans rioted before tonight's Europa League match between Spartak Moscow and Atletico Bilbao.


Russia To Support U.N. Truce In Syria Excluding Militant Groups

Added: 22.02.2018 23:59 | 0 views | 0 comments

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday Moscow will consider supporting a United Nations-proposed ceasefire for Syria, providing it does not cover terrorist groups that are shelling civilians in militant-held Eastern Ghouta, Press TV reports. Lavrov called for the Takfiri terrorist groups of Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, and other militant outfits to be excluded from the agreement. The top Russian diplomat made the remarks during a press conference in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, saying Russia was ready to consider a U.N. Security Council draft resolution demanding a 30-day truce in the Arab country as long as it did not include the...

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