This is a really unusual story, and several of you sent it to me. Indeed, it's so unusual that I have to comment on what it says, but the really important things are what it is not saying. As usual, it is RT that broke the story on April 12, 2015:
I want to draw your attention to the curious "reportage" of the first four paragraphs of this article:
"A group of electronic reconnaissance satellites disguised as space junk has been disclosed by Russian aerospace defense troops. The devices were put into orbit to spy specifically on facilities on Russian territory.
“'Most recently, experts of the Main Space Intelligence Center disclosed a tyro group of electronic reconnaissance satellites. This satellite constellation is being developed to carry out communications surveillance of the facilities based inside Russian Federation territory,' commander of the Space Command, Major-General Oleg Maidanovich, informed Zvezda TV channel.
"The developed satellites were disguised as space trash, which is a normal practice, noted the commander.
"Major-General was reluctant to report on state affiliation of the exposed space vehicles, saying 'So far, there is no need for this.”'"(emphasis in the original)
No doubt General Maidanovich was under orders from Moscow to keep the "state affiliation" of the spy satellites-cum-space junk under wraps for the moment. And one can think of any number of "state actors" that would want to spy on Russia: the USA certainly tops the list, but one would have to add pretty much any other major power to that list, for varying reasons: the U.K., France, Germany, Italy, India, China, Japan, Israel. The list is pretty well-known, nor does it really contain any surprises.
Until one reads that statement again, and notes the very strange wording: "(The) Major-General was reluctant to report on (the) state affiliation of the exposed space vehicles, saying 'So far, there is no need for this.'"
State affiliation? This is very strange wording indeed for an article on a Russian state-approved media outlet, nor, in my opinion, was it an accidental choice of words. There are two basic ways to take it: (1) the Russians deliberately chose this strange phraseology to get people like me in the West all worked up over nothing, when what they really meant to say was simply "these are some other nation's direct satellites, we're choosing not to name that nation (even though we all know who it is, elbow jab to the ribs, wink wink), but let's have some fun and let the boys at the KGB...er...FSB run a little psyop and see what western blogsites do with it"; or (2) the Russians chose this strange phraseology because they've noticed something about the satellites that leads them to suspect they belong to another type of space actor, one affiliated with a nation state, but not representing it directly.
On that view, the stakes on Russian comment and its implications are raised considerably, for it would mean - for those willing to parse the comment closely, as I am doing here - that Russia has just announced that there's another player on the block, and it's not the usual suspects, but one affiliated with one of them. Now, while the odds of this being the reading of the remark are probably very low, nonetheless I find it intriguing to explore, for once one says "affiliation," what sort of affiliation and agency would one be dealing with?
One thing that comes to mind are the many defense contractors in the various western countries: Lockheed, British Aerospace or Marconi, Olivetti, Dassault, Mitsubishi, and so on. In that case, one would have the presence of private corporate spy satellites spying on a nation-state(and probably not just Russia), and bypassing the security apparati of their own countries with whom they have long been "affiliated": The USA in Lockheed's case, the UK with British Aerospace and Marconi, Italy with Olivetti, France with Dassault, and so on. If that sounds far-fetched, then think again. One need only recall that for globaloney-ism of all stripes from Marxist through Fascist to the "kinder gentler" globaloney of the West, the nation-state is supposed to be obsolete and will eventually fade away into the glorious global synarchist paradise of corporations and international "regulatory bodies and compacts". Why wouldn't they want to get their communications, surveillance, and weapons assets into space as soon as possible?
But while the corporate "affiliation" seems the most likely interpretation to put on the second possibility, there are others: political parties and religious organizations being the two that spring to mind from the lessons of western history, and the long associations of certain types of religious and political institutions with certain nations. Could private corporate, political party, or religious institutions develop a private launch capability? Certainly, if they were wealthy enough to do so, and held enough influence - via equity - in the technologies corporations to do so. Could such satellites be launched without anyone else detecting them? With chemical rockets, probably not, but with other means of getting satllites up there, possibly.
The bottom line here is this: this is a curious article, one that hardly needed to be written by RT in the way it was phrased, since, as the article itself avers, disguising spy satellites as space junk is a fairly standard practice for people launching spy satellites. And detecting someone else's spy satellites flying overhead is standard behavior as well. Russia, the European powers, China, India, Japan, the USA, all monitor space junk and each other's spy satellites. In short, there was no reason for RT to run an article saying "We found spy satellites flying over our country disguised as space junk." Big deal. A non-story.
....except for that one strange turn of phrase, and that, I'm betting, was the reason they ran the story...
See you on the flip side...
(My deep thanks to all of you who brought this story to my attention!)