Laurinkus. What is Putin’s opinion on Russia’s external intelligence?

Vladimiras Putinas
Vladimir Putin AP/Scanpix

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) announced incredibly quickly, three days later, that the organiser of the 8 October explosion over the Kerch Strait Bridge was the head of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence’s Main Intelligence Directorate, K. Budanov,  Merčys Laurinkus, was writing at news portal.

Even on the eve of the official announcement, Putin‘s conclusion was circulating in the media: “The authors, the perpetrators and the orderers are the Ukrainian special services.”

It was already clear what the FSB would say. The names of the detainees have been published. The route of the “operation” on the Crimean bridge is given, starting with the explosives’ journey from the port of Odesa to Bulgaria (2 August), then through Armenia, Georgia, and Russia to the site of the explosion. Two important checkpoints were passed – Upper Lars and the bridge itself.

Ukraine’s text assessment was succinct: “The whole activity of the FSB and the Investigative Committee is nonsense”.

Although in the immediate aftermath of the fire on the bridge, Kyiv was emotionally positive about the event, almost to the credit of its services. The Western media straightforwardly interpreted this joy and already, on Monday, assessed the Russian missile rain on Ukraine as “revenge for the bridge”, recalling the public statements of Ukrainian politicians and officials that the illegal structure of the occupiers in the occupied territory must be destroyed.

Russian Senator Klimov expressed “his” opinion that the organisers of the explosion should be physically destroyed while at the same time expressing surprise at how the explosives got past the solid checks. “Was it negligence or corruption?” – Klimov asked.

By the way, the latter also interested me. I have been following the history of the Kerch Bridge since the beginning of its construction. Its safety has been a frequent topic in the Russian media. Those in charge of the regime assured us that the most modern equipment was used to ensure security.

Access is controlled from the air, by water, the passage is filmed, and there are X-rays.

Therefore, I am not surprised at the version that this is the work of the Russian special services. Although on reflection, it would be foolish for Putin to blow up his own ‘baby’ and then spend vast sums of money on repairs, not to mention disrupting the supply of vital weapons to the Russian army in Ukraine – after all, the explosion of an artillery shell in Belgorod is enough of a pretext for launching a massive missile attack against Ukraine.

No one is forbidden to invent all sorts of theories. For example, I have heard that this is an operation by the Russian military opposition to encourage Putin to take aggressive military action in Ukraine to use more modern weapons.

In any case, from a professional point of view, if the FSB report has any truth to it, the operation on the bridge was not badly organised, taking into account not only the checkpoints that were passed but also the possible accidents on the way, and also fitting the explosion into Putin’s birthday.

Diversions are an integral part of any war. Did the masterminds of this operation think about what would happen next? Maybe yes, maybe no. And those events are already unfolding and will impact the further course of the war.

First of all, the mass availability of missiles, albeit partially shoot-downable, to reach any point in the territory has a psychological insecurity effect. Bridges are being rebuilt, and power lines that were cut are being restored. Still, the knowledge that attacks may be repeated and that they cannot all be repelled is gradually creating a depressing feeling that eventually pushes people to emigrate. And the new wave of emigration from Ukraine is growing. It is being felt in Lithuania too.

A new phase of military action on both sides is also beginning on the so-called Eastern Front. New because the old weapons are being replaced by more modern ones, not by the most modern ones. The strategy and tactics of warfare are changing. Experts comment on the fierce battles in various ways but do not record a decisive victory for either side.

I would assess the situation as follows: Russia is not winning but is not yet losing; Ukraine is still maintaining the initiative but is being forced to pause on some parts of the front. Russia plans to control the territory of the alleged referendums until the frost. We shall see how it goes.

The Kremlin media is promoting the new commander of the special military operation, Army General Surovikin (56), who has had a military career that has taken him from Afghanistan to Syria. By the way, the Ukrainian army has seen the emergence of talented military commanders in a short period of time.

It will be a battle of attrition until December, but it is already clear that Russia will not return to the 24 February position this year. Instead, there will be a pause, which both sides need.

Of course, during the pause, the combatants will not be wearing artificial flowers, and the fighting will continue as it has been but adapted to winter conditions. There will be diversions (special actions, if you don’t like that word). And there will be intelligence battles, in which Ukrainian military intelligence seems to be very professional.

At the beginning of this week, an article by E.Krutikov appeared in the Russian media with the strange title: ‘Russian intelligence starts its work in Ukraine from a white sheet’. And this sentence: ‘Russian external intelligence has not really dealt with the Ukrainian issue for decades.’ Unexpected self-criticism.

The fact that ’40 million inhabitants of the territory of the former USSR remained on the periphery of the attention of Russian intelligence’ is explained by the fact that Ukraine was a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States and that there was supposedly an agreement between the two countries not to organise mutual intelligence.

Especially since those working in these structures during the Soviet era were educated together at the Kyiv and Minsk intelligence schools, now there is a completely different generation of intelligence officers in Ukraine, hostile to Moscow, and therefore the Russian special services must start to act in full against Ukraine.

The article came just after the explosion on the Kerch bridge, so it is easy to see what Putin’s view of Russia’s external intelligence is.
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