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Russia Reform Monitor - No. 2090

A Russian-built backdoor to U.S. intelligence?;
Russian planes, Iranian basing

Edited by Amanda Azinheira
September 2, 2016

August 14: 

Are U.S. military and intelligence agency systems vulnerable to sabotage by Russia? That's the unsettling question raised by a newly unsealed lawsuit in California, 
reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The plaintiffs in the case have charged that the fingerprint identification software used widely throughout the national security establishment - which is provided by a French firm - was actually created by a Russian company, and is used by Russia's intelligence agencies. As such, the plaintiffs allege, the software could well contain a "backdoor" that would allow the Russian government to "override fingerprint identification devices in such strategic places as the Pentagon, CIA, [and] NSA." "The national security implications are significant," an attorney associated with the case tells the Chronicle

August 16:

Russia and Syria have both violated international law by dropping incendiary munitions on civilian areas in Syria, a new study by Human Rights Watch has charged. 
According to the Washington Post, the study documents at least 18 times that Russian and Syrian fighter planes dropped such ordinance on population centers in the past nine weeks, in contravention to international humanitarian instruments which ban the use of air-dropped incendiaries. 

August 17:

In a sign of growing strategic ties between Moscow and Tehran, Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that Russian bombers in Syria are now flying out of an air base in Iran. Both countries support the beleaguered regime of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, and have devoted considerable political and military resources over the past year to keeping him in power. Even so, the announcement reflects a qualitative deepening of the strategic bonds between the two countries. "Cooperation between Iran and Russia is growing, and military cooperation is at the top," Evgeniy Buzhinsky, a retired Russian general, 
tells the Wall Street Journal

August 18:

As Moscow ramps up its military presence near Ukraine, Russia's neighbors are becoming increasingly nervous, 
reports U.S. News & World Report. Moldova's foreign ministry, for example, has formally protested recent Russian military exercises in the breakaway region of Transdniester, where the Kremlin has maintained roughly 1,000 troops since the 1990s. Chisinau has charged that the drills - the second set of maneuvers in recent weeks - "undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova." 

Moscow is deadlier than the Islamic State to ordinary Syrians, a new report from the Syrian Network for Human Rights has concluded. 
According to Newsweek, the study found that Russian forces have killed more civilians in Syria than the terrorist group, despite becoming involved in the fighting a full two years later. In particular, victims of Russian attacks appear to include a significantly higher number of children. 

August 19:

After accusing Kyiv of a planned sabotage attack in Crimea, Moscow has begun sending tens of thousands of troops to newly built army installations on its Western border with Ukraine. 
According to the Wall Street Journal, the new installations are all within striking distance of Ukraine, with new headquarters only 100 miles from the border. "Russia's plans around the Ukrainian border show a real intent to use force if needed," says Anton Lavrov, a defense analyst at a Moscow based think tank.

Related Categories: Russia; Russia and Eurasia Program; Ukraine

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