Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chatham House: Russia undoubtedly supports separatists in Ukraine

The head of the Russia program at Britian's Chatham House writes that we know for certain Russia is aiding Ukraine's separatists, with intelligence, coordination, weapons, money, fighters and diplomatic cover [emphasis mine]:

The more direct forms of the Kremlin's involvement are often covered up by a Russian intelligence service working overtime.What we know already is astonishing.  Imagine what we do not know.  What is certain is that Russia's GRU, or military intelligence, has strong connections with and infiltrations into its Ukrainian counterpart, built up over many years. The Russians have never really trusted the Ukrainians — even in Soviet times — and the Black Sea Fleet's presence on Ukrainian soil was a key source of espionage.

Hardware used by pro-Russian forces, including uniforms, vehicles and weapons, is often alleged to be of Russian origin, sometimes rather excitedly so by patriotic Ukrainians and leaders in Kiev. Quite possibly much of it is Russian, but there is little direct evidence. With about 5,000 separatists fighters currently in Ukraine's eastern regions, ranging in origin from Chechnya to Crimea, it is impossible to disentangle what has been supplied and what purloined.

But as noted, the border is largely open and hard evidence of infiltration of Russian equipment is overwhelmingly obvious to everyone in NATO and the Western national intelligence services. Rag tag separatist "citizens" do not have access to anti-aircraft missiles and other precision weaponry, let alone the training to use them — especially as they are by and large too young to have received Soviet training. 

[...]  But Russian involvement in Ukraine is far more than tanks and soldiers. Modern warfare is a toolbox which includes conscription via social networks, propaganda via television, coercion via bribery and threats, pressure via the Russian Orthodox Church, blackmail via energy and disruption via cyber attack. Again, some of these are self-evidently from Russia. Others have to be discerned through examination of the circumstantial evidence.

Thus concludes Nixey about Russia's meddling in Ukraine:

The case for a more robust policy against Russian meddling in Ukraine can thus easily be made by Western media and governments, but only if there is the will to do so. Based on publicly and privately available intelligence, it is now beyond any reasonable doubt that Russia, in one way or another, supports the separatists. And if we're not making decisions based upon the evidence, what are they based on? In fact, what then is the point of having a foreign policy at all?

By James Nixey
July 8, 2014 | The Moscow Times

No comments: