Russia, Russia, Russia

Virgulino Ferreira

Super Anarchist

In 2018, Duncan Campbell was commissioned by the “voice of journalism” and “watchdog of the press”, Columbia Journalism Review, to write an investigation into the venerable New York magazine The Nation, and its apparent support for Russia’s territorial ambitions. In 2020, after a full fact check, legal review and edit, the article was cancelled two days before the scheduled publication. In 2022, months after Putin’s full invasion of Ukraine, the CJR again refused to publish the article. Byline Times is publishing the final agreed copy here, and Duncan Campbell will explain what happened in a follow-up article.



Super Anarchist
West Maui

A mysterious Russian satellite that launched to space in 2014 has experienced its second breakup event. The cause of Kosmos-2499’s demise is unknown, and we may never find out the truth, given the satellite’s veiled and suspicious history.

The U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Defense Squadron confirmed the breakup of Kosmos-2499 in a February 6 tweet. The squadron is now tracking 85 new pieces of debris associated with the event, which happened at 10:57 p.m. on January 3, 2023. At an estimated altitude of 727 miles (1,170 kilometers), it will take 100 years or more for the pieces to fall back to Earth, adding to the growing clutter in orbit.

The satellite’s story began in May 2014, when it launched to space alongside three Russian Rodnik-type satellites, according to RussianSpaceWeb reporter Anatoly Zak. The satellite wasn’t included in the rocket’s payload manifest, so when it inexplicably appeared alongside the three Rodnik satellites, U.S. trackers presumed it to be a fragment and was designated as such: space debris Object 2014-028E.

But the object began to perform a series of complex orbital maneuvers, strongly suggesting the presence of an undisclosed fourth satellite. By October 2014, the U.S. reclassified the object as being payload and not debris. What’s more, the U.S. military “was now rechecking orbital parameters of the mysterious satellite three or four times a day,” Zak writes. The following year, Kosmos-2499 performed a rendezvous with its own Briz-KM rocket stage, and it continued to perform maneuvers up until 2017.

McDowell said the satellite seems related to Russia’s Nivelir project, “most probably a project to build small satellites designed to inspect other satellites in space,” according to an article from The Space Review published in May 2019. Russia has launched four of these satellites to date, two of which rendezvoused with their respective rocket stages.

Five years ago, a senior U.S. military official described the behavior of these satellites as “inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities” and alluded to the possibility that the satellites were related to a program for developing space weapons, that is, satellites capable of disabling other satellites in orbit. Years earlier, Roscosmos chief Oleg Ostapenko denied similar accusations, saying the devices were not “killer satellites,” while refraining from explaining their purpose, according to RussianSpaceWeb.

As to why Kosmos-2499 has now seemingly exploded on two occasions, McDowell suspects it’s tied to the liquid propulsion stage that allowed the satellite to perform multiple orbital changes, specifically the Fakel K50-10.6 propulsion system powered by hydrazine monopropellant. “There may be some who suggest it carried an explosive warhead for [anti-satellite] use, but I find that extremely unlikely,” he said, adding that it also carried the RS-47 amateur radio payload.


Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
This looks amazingly familiar. It's exactly the same playbook as the Dead South.

Amid reports of books being banned in Russia as a result of the country’s December anti-LGBT law, Alina Kuznetsova, a marketing specialist from Yekaterinburg, couldn't help but recall family stories about her grandmother, who worked in a library in the Soviet Union.

Alina's grandmother routinely saved books banned by the Soviet authorities from being thrown out — by asking her son to take them home on a sled at night.

In the three months since the passage of Russia’s controversial Dec. 5 law banning LGBT “propaganda,” history was beginning to repeat itself, said the 33-year-old Kuznetsova.

By outlawing any public displays of LGBT behavior, the bill has sent a chill through the Russian arts establishment, with books, movies and artworks being withdrawn from public circulation for fear of fines and even criminal charges.


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