Dead Drop: November 12

DEFENESTRATION STATION: There was a time when the most dangerous place on earth was the area between TV cameras and certain politicians. But that has been eclipsed by the very risky area near any window of a Russian-controlled building.  The latest evidence is a report from the German news magazine Der Spiegel which reports that a Russian “diplomat” was found dead last month after apparently “falling” from some high perch at the Russian embassy in Berlin.  Der Spiegel said sources told them the man was an undercover FSB officer who was related to a high-ranking FSB general. Bellingcat added detail saying the victim was the son of Gen. Alexey Zhalo, head of the FSB’s Directorate for Protection of Constitutional Order. Zhalo’s directorate reportedly was the unit that tailed Alexei Navalny prior to his 2020 poisoning. The 35-year-old fall guy’s body was quickly repatriated to the Motherland and no autopsy was performed in Germany. The Russian embassy confirmed to the Interfax news agency that a Russian diplomat had died but said it was “not commenting on this tragic event for ethical reasons.” It is unclear why an organization so adept at the use of poisons and nerve agents would need to fall back on old school methods of getting rid of people – perhaps it has something to do with the supply chain.

MISSION TO MOSCOW: As November dawned, President Biden dispatched CIA Director Bill Burns to Moscow where (according to media reports) Burns was sent to warn the Russian government to think twice before doing anything foolish with all those troops they seem to be building up along the border with Ukraine. Burns seems to draw the short straw on a number of difficult missions and some folks wondered why Secretary of State Antony Blinken wasn’t given the nod instead. Perhaps it was because SECSTATE cannot travel around without a media entourage in his wake. The U.S. attempted to conduct the mission in a low-key manner – low key until the Russians released a photo of Burns meeting with Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia’s national security council. Subsequent reporting indicated that while in Moscow, Burns also had a phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is unclear whether Putin and the Russians took aboard Burns’ message – but the trip was a success in at least one aspect – he seems to have avoided standing too close to any open windows.

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