BBC, Reuters Exposed As Tools Of The U.K. Foreign Office In Regime Change Ops.

March 5 -- In an online conference on February 27 sponsored by the Schiller Institute, Mike Robinson, a journalist and radio talk show host from the United Kingdom, presented a compelling overview of how the U.K. Foreign Office and British intelligence services have been using leading British media to target Russia and other countries for regime change.  While anyone who is aware of the role media have played in the post-World War II world in manipulating popular opinion would not be surprised by his report, what is shocking is how successful the sponsors of these programs have been in keeping the story out of the press.  The suppression of this story has been necessary for this operation to achieve its goal, of building an "enemy image" of Russia as an aggressive, authoritarian "malign" actor, to justify a continuing policy of imperial geopolitical confrontation and military buildup, which threatens to break out into a general war.

Robinson began by pointing to a 2018 article in the {Daily Express} which reported that the Foreign Office set up a Department of Counter Disinformation and Media Development, to serve as a "counterstrike against Russian propaganda."  Its purported mission was "to constrain the Russian government's ability to use disinformation and propaganda."  With a relatively modest sum of 100 million Pounds to spend over five years, its mission was to "counter disinformation" coming from the Russian government.  Its mission included laying the groundwork for isolating Russia, by building "independent media" in the Baltic states, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, so that "independent media serving Russian-speaking audiences can flourish."  The {Daily Express} article was followed by leaks of additional documents hacked by "Anonymous", which exposed the "Institute for Statecraft" as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) umbrella for an operation called the "Integrity Initiative" (II).  
The II, according to the documents released by "Anonymous", recruited and deployed "clusters" of "influencers", which operated out of British embassies in many European countries -- including Germany, France, Spain and Italy -- as well as in the U.S. and Canada.  These influencers are described in internal documents as "competent, committed and well-connected individuals", who were deployed to accomplish "anti-Russian goals," such as exposing "Russian propaganda".  Included in II's operations was a plan "to inform Russian citizens, [to] reinforce democratic opposition."  As for its domestic operations, the II produced concocted stories to convince people in government, think tanks and journalism that the U.K. is "under concerted, deliberate hybrid attack by Russia."
Robinson reports that the initial exposure of this operation, including that done by himself and some colleagues, resulted in shutting down the II.  Yet, the FCO has not only continued such operations, but has been expanding them, contracting with British media giants Reuters and the British Broadcast Company (BBC).  Recent stories placed in the BBC claim to expose Russian agents targeting COVID-19 vaccine development, and include typically unsubstantiated charges that Russia was involved in trying to rig the 2014 referendum vote on Scottish independence, and the 2016 Brexit vote.  These charges were contained in a July 2020 report, the "Russia Report", which was presented to the Parliament, with "evidence" provided by the usual cast of anti-Russian operatives, including Chris Donnelly, the former head of the II; Bill Browder, the City of London-backed swindler responsible for fraudulent charges against Russia, which led to passage of sanctions under the "Magnitsky Act"; MI6 mouthpiece at the {Guardian}, Luke Harding; and Christopher Steele, the notorious liar whose "pee-pee dossier" was at the heart of the phony Russiagate narrative used in a four-year campaign to remove President Trump, in which he portrays him as a blackmailed "puppet of Vladimir Putin." 

After II was shuttered, this network continued its work through a "Rapid Response Unit" in the British cabinet, claiming that it was countering narratives planted by "Russians" in social media.  The "77th Brigade" was specifically established to monitor social media, and was staffed by the same people who previously working for II.


BBC and Reuters: Arms Of FCO And MI6

Robinson's reporting incorporated that done by Grayzone founder and investigative journalist Max Blumenthal, an American, whose article "Reuters, BBC in Covert UK Program to Push Western Agenda" was published on February 22 in {Consortium News}. 

Blumenthal's thorough reporting begins with documents declassified in January 2020, which showed that Reuters received funding in the 1960s and '70s from the British government, to participate in an anti-Soviet propaganda operation run by the British foreign intelligence service MI6.  Asked to comment on the release of these documents, a Reuters spokesman said "we would not do this today," as it goes against our "Trust principles", adopted to preserve Reuters "independence, integrity and freedom from bias in the gathering and dissemination of information and news."  A similar statement was released by the BBC, which claims that "Trust is the foundation of the BBC.  We're independent, impartial and honest."

Well, not exactly!  Blumenthal cites newly-released documents which show that both "press" agencies entered into contracts with the FCO "to counter and undermine Russia."  In addition to the steady flow of Fake News about Russia's "authoritarian attacks" on free speech and freedom of the press, and its constant "meddling" in other nations' affairs, the FCO in 2019 initiated a program described by Blumenthal as designed to "infiltrate Russian media and propagate its own narrative through an influence network of Russian journalists trained in the U.K."  A contract with Reuters set up a project for "Capacity building in Russian media", aimed at developing "quality journalism in Russia," while giving Russian journalists a "greater understanding of U.K. journalistic standards and ethics"! 

Operating under the Thompson Reuters Foundation, and the BBC Media Action, these "news agencies" have gone far beyond efforts to demonize the Russian government in the eyes of their readers.  They are engaged directly in regime change operations.  BBC Media Action is developing a pro-NATO media in the Donbass region of Ukraine, where the largely ethnic-Russian population has been under constant military attack by armed neo-Nazi units of the Kiev regime.  The Zinc network, which is part of the FCO-funded Consortium, is setting up a "YouTuber network" in Russia and Central Asia, to "deliver key messages", according to Blumenthal, on behalf of the U.K. and its NATO allies -- all done in the name of "promoting media integrity and democratic values."  

It does not escape notice in Moscow that the West's favorite "dissident", Alexey Navalny, built up his following as a YouTube influencer.  The Russian state security agency FSB released a video of one of Navalny's leading operatives, Vladimir Ashurkov, meeting with a suspected MI6 operative, James Ford, a former top official at the British Embassy in Moscow, asking for funding of $10 million to $20 million a month to build an anti-Putin "democratic movement" in Russia.  The video of the meeting, from 2012, was shown on {RT} on February 1.  Ashurkov, the Executive Director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, lives now in London, and has worked with II and the Zinc network in its anti-Russia propaganda efforts. 

   The scope of activities reported by Robinson and Blumenthal exposes the double standard employed in building an enemy image of Russia.  Former Labour Member of Parliament, Chris Williamson, whose efforts to force the release of additional documents related to these anti-Russian operations have been blocked, highlighted this double standard: When British "MPs were railing about Russia," he said, "British agents were using the BBC and Reuters to deploy precisely the same tactics that politicians and media commentators were accusing Russia of using."


Toward What End? 

The operations described by Robinson and Blumenthal are a key component of the overall drive to "contain" Russia, through eastward deployment of NATO forces to Russia's borders, while using sanctions to undermine Russia's economic engagement with Europe and the U.S. -- simultaneously attempting to build "democratic forces" inside Russia to carry out regime change there, using the formula for "color revolution" regime change deployed in Georgia, Ukraine and other former Soviet republics.  The anti-Russian propaganda targets the population of western European nations and the U.S., at a time when those populations have expressed their weariness with large defense budgets and the "endless wars" of the Trans-Atlantic "Military Industrial Complex".  It builds upon the time-honored tradition of geopolitics, built by apologists for the British Empire, who endeavor to sustain their global financial control through the classic divide-and-conquer operations which led to two devastating world wars and a Cold War in the twentieth century, and are moving toward a new Cold War today.  

The application of Mackinder's geopolitics, which insists that Britain and its allies must be determined to never allow economic and military alliances between Eurasian and central/western European nations, requires that the scope of their operations not be limited to targeting Russia.  The Royal Institute of International Affairs, a key institution of British intelligence, is engaged in pushing ongoing narratives against China, while institutions such as the Henry Jackson Society and the Atlantic Council directly coordinate their activities with the FCO in provocations against China.  This is reflected in the push to deploy NATO forces into the "Indo-Pacific" region, to coordinate the encirclement and containment of China.  This was explicitly spelled out in the "Longer Telegram" missive of the Atlantic Council, released in January 2021, which calls for factionalizing within China's Communist Party to undermine President Xi Jinping.

The same networks exposed by Robinson and Blumenthal have deployed media and other operatives into the southwest Asian wars, to undermine independent governments, such as Iraq, Libya and Syria.  The lies spread by the London-based White Helmets about Syria's use of chemical weapons, which led to air strikes ordered by President Trump in 2017 and 2018, are part of this same operation, as media operatives on the ground give credibility to these False Flag attacks, to justify the strikes.  The same networks promoted the "Caesar" revelations, which led to new, crippling sanctions against Syria, threatening the food supply to the beleaguered population, in an renewed effort at regime change, after the arming and training by the west of ISIS, Al Qaeda and Al Nusra terrorists failed in that effort -- largely due to successful Russia and U.S. coordinated efforts against the terrorists.  The February 25 strike against Syria by President Biden shows that the Anglo-American War Hawks are determined to continue the wars in the region.

Finally, it should be noted that these FCO/British intelligence forces played a leading role in regime change operations against Trump in the U.S.  Russigate was initiated by claims of Britain's GCHQ, the cyber-security division of British intelligence, that they picked up "suspicious" Russian cyber activity directed at the 2016 election.  There was direct collusion between MI6 and GCHQ, and the British press, with Obama's intelligence team, in concocting the Russiagate story, which undermined Trump's intention of forging friendly, cooperative relations between the U.S. and Russia.  "Former" MI6 operative Christopher Steele's dossier was a crucial part of the deployment against Trump, as the FBI used the document, which was financed by Hillary Clinton's campaign, to fraudulently acquire FISA Court warrants to spy on Trump's campaign.  The full story of this British collusion with Bush and Obama networks in the U.S. has not yet been thoroughly exposed, as many documents related to the fraud have not yet been publicly declassified, due to the unwillingness of intelligence agencies to comply with Trump's declassification order.

One additional piece of the regime change operation in the U.S. which involved the FCO, is the strange case of former British Ambassador to Washington, Kim Darroch. 

The leak in July 2019 of Darroch's cables sent to the Foreign Office provided evidence of a wide-ranging British campaign to control Trump, based on an aggressive outreach to those whom Darroch called "Trump Whisperers".  While the media focused on his derogatory comments about the president, this more telling component was given little attention.  Darroch boasted that he  "cultivated" the Trump Whisperers, writing that "we have spent years building the relationships; they are the gatekeepers...the individuals we rely upon to ensure the U.K. voice is heard in the West Wing."   He continued: "It's important to 'flood the zone'; you want as many of those who Trump consults to give him the same answer.  So we need to be creative in using all the channels available to us through our relationships with his cabinet, the White House staff, and our contacts among his outside friends." Among those Darroch identified were former White House Chief of Staff Gen. John Kelly and War Hawk John Bolton, the National Security Adviser who sabotaged Trump's efforts, which had been coordinated with Russia and China, to achieve the nuclear disarmament of North Korea. 

Not mentioned by Darroch was the influence of the Foreign Office in controlling media coverage which served the broader purposes of the British Empire!


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  • Harley Schlanger
    published this page in Harley Updates 2021-03-05 15:55:17 -0500