Russia Analytical Report, June 18-25, 2018

This Week’s Highlights:

  • U.S. commanders are worried that if they had to head off a conflict with Russia, the most powerful military in the world could get stuck in a traffic jam, writes Michael Birnbaum for The Washington Post. The delays could enable Russia to seize NATO territory in the Baltics while U.S. Army planners were still filling out the 17 forms needed to cross Germany and into Poland.
  • U.S. President Bill Clinton and his advisers naively challenged Russia’s security perimeter, not realizing that “each inch of eastward expansion was bound to increase Russian distrust of the West,” writes Professor Melvyn Leffler, quoting from Ben Steil’s new book. Steil, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that whereas the architects of the Marshall Plan and NATO “acknowledged that a line was being drawn, and were willing to bear the necessary costs to defend it,” the Clinton administration “was denying the line’s existence.” Continue reading

Russia Expands Foreign Intelligence Service

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Growth over past decade coincides with rise in global espionage operations

Russia has aggressively expanded its Foreign Intelligence Service operation over the past decade, according to recent satellite imagery that provides evidence of Moscow’s efforts to wage clandestine operations across Europe and in the United States.

The satellite imagery, which was compiled in a recent report on Russia’s global intelligence operation, shows that Moscow added several new buildings and structures to its intelligence headquarters, known as SVR, from 2007 to 2016, a period that saw a dramatic rise in Russian espionage operations, experts said. Continue reading

‘Once a Spy, Always a Spy’

How Putin’s KGB past shapes his autocratic rule

It was January of 1990, and a middle-aged, overweight Vladimir Putin was depressed.

Working as a paper-pushing KGB intelligence officer in Dresden, Germany, Putin spent most of his time attempting to recruit undercover foreign agents and writing reports. News from back home in the Soviet Union caused great concern.

Mikhail Gorbachev had ascended to the head of the Communist Party and was pushing liberalizing policies, and by 1989 the KGB leadership had begun to back some of his reforms. Hundreds of thousands protested in the streets of Communist East Germany for reunification—culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall in November.

On January 15, 1990, protesters stormed the Stasi state security building where Putin worked in Dresden. Putin called for military assistance, but it only arrived hours later after approval from Moscow. Moscow had kept him waiting. Continue reading