Russians Caught Spying at 77th Brigade Base
British Army Alert After Russians Attempt to Enter Denison Barracks
Russian journalists attempted to gain access to Denison Barracks, the headquarters of the 77th Brigade, the Army’s information operations unit. A leaked security alert issued by the British Army reveals that two men were refused entry to Denison Barracks at 15:45 hrs on Wednesday, 21 November.
British Army Bases on High Alert After Denison Incident
Marked “Official-Sensitive”, the alert was leaked to British newspaper the Mail on Sunday, who published it today. The alert warns soldiers and security staff not to allow the men admission to any British Army establishment and, if contacted, should have another member of staff present and immediately inform the Police.
Russian Journalist Also Covered Salisbury Chemical Attack
One of the men presented a press pass identifying him as Timur Siraziev, Senior Correspondent for Channel One, Russia’s state broadcaster. The pass appeared to have been issued by the Foreign Press Association, No. 011463. As a member of the UK Press Card Authority, the FPA can issue press passes to foreign journalists, allowing them to visit places such as the House of Commons Press Gallery.
The British Army alert also stated that Timur Siraziev may have been involved in Russian reporting on the Salisbury chemical attack.
Do Spies Carry ID?
British national newspapers have widely reported the incident as an act of spying.The Director of the Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies at Buckingham University, Prof. Anthony Glees, was quoted as saying that “Russian state journalists are surrogate spies for President Putin’s regime.”
Prof. Glees added that “this was deliberately targeted spying at a sensitive location and is deeply concerning.”
Sunday’s newspaper stories caused Timur Siraziev to update his Instagram page with “not a spy but a journalist” and accused the British media of “telling lies”, according to RT. Russian broadcaster RT was up in arms at the British media reporting of the story. Under the headline “A Russian? Must be a spy! UK military, media accuse Russian reporter of snooping”, RT claimed “There seems to be no sign of Russophobia abating in the UK”.
Spy Alert is Sign of New Cold War
“Putin is pushing this espionage,” warned Prof. Glees, “I am afraid we are back in the Cold War era when British military personnel and their families must be extremely aware of the threats in their midst.”
Prof. Glees believes that Russian is using its foreign journalists to probe Britain’s defences, looking for weak spots, adding “It’s provocative behaviour, they’re spoiling for a fight and seeing how we will react.”
Siraziev Accused 77th Brigade of Faking Anti-Russian Evidence in Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack
Siraziev’s eight-minute report was broadcast on Russia’s Channel One, a state-funded broadcaster boasting 250 million viewers. Speaking to camera outside Denison Barracks, Siraziev told viewers that the 77th Brigade spread “panic, hostility and hatred”.
Siraziev described the 77th Brigade as using “computers and fake news instead of grenades”. “This unit,” he said “attacks online social networks” and that “every message for social networks is being worked out like a combat operation.”
Siraziev also claimed that the 77th Brigade had faked evidence to discredit Russia: “Staged videos of chemical weapons attacks in Syria could not have been done without the British military men here,” he claimed.
Russians Take Information Warfare to the Gates of the 77th Brigade
On the British Army’s website, the 77th Brigade are described as “a combined Regular and Army Reserve unit. Our aim is to challenge the difficulties of modern warfare using non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours of the opposing forces and adversaries.”They are also described as “an agent of change”, including “information activity” and “disseminating media”.
Called “keyboard warriors” (or “Facebook worriers” by RT) and “Twitter troops” in the past, one commentator described the incident as “Fake News Team Attempts Infiltration Of Fake News Team”.
This is not the first time Russian media has attempted to influence perceptions of the British Army’s 77th Brigade. In January last year, Sputnik news reported that the 77th Brigade was having difficulty recruiting the right people in sufficient numbers.
77th Brigade “Particularly Vulnerable”
Prof. Glees warned that “as a highly sensitive unit, 77th Brigade is particularly vulnerable.” The British Army’s 77th Brigade specialises in information manoeuvre, ranging from cyber warfare to counter-propaganda and psychological operation.
Many 77th Brigade personnel have been recruited directly from outside the Army because of their specialist skills. A “senior source” was quoted as saying “These people are real-life Jason Bournes, operating closely with special forces, the security services and human intelligence.”
77th Brigade personnel at Denison Barracks are aware of the dangers and the British Army has recently upgraded its base security, but insiders admit that it is still not enough.
The 77th Brigade has also recently closed its social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.