Russian spies in spotlight over Ukraine shortcomings

Russian spies in spotlight over Ukraine shortcomings
The Lubyanka building, headquarters of the FSB, formerly the KGB, in Moscow, Russia, July 19, 2010. (Wikimedia Commons)
Short Url
Updated 14 March 2022

Russian spies in spotlight over Ukraine shortcomings

Russian spies in spotlight over Ukraine shortcomings
  • The head of the so called 5th Service of the FSB, Sergei Beseda, and his deputy, Anatoly Bolukh, had both been placed under house arrest in an investigation: Report
  • French official: ‘There was a very poor analysis of the state of the morale of the Ukrainian and Ukraine as a whole’

PARIS: The stuttering progress of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has thrown an unwanted spotlight on the Russian intelligence services, who observers say failed to prepare the Kremlin for the realities of the assault.
Several reports have suggested that a shadowy section of Russia’s powerful Federal Security Agency (FSB) has come under particular scrutiny with its leader interrogated and reportedly even under house arrest.
This has led several commentators to question if all is well at the ominous headquarters of the FSB on Lubyanka Square in Moscow, once the home of the KGB in the USSR.
Observers believe Russia had expected to make far more rapid progress in the invasion after it was launched on February 24, with forces that were welcomed rather than face fierce resistance from Ukrainians.
“People did not make clear to (President Vladimir) Putin the reality of the situation,” said a French intelligence source, who asked not to be named.
“The system is hardening up, bunkering down so that Putin does not receive too much bad news,” added the source.
In a report first carried by Latvia-based Russian news site Meduza, Russian intelligence experts Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan wrote that the first consequences of the espionage failings were now being felt.
The head of the so called 5th Service of the FSB, Sergei Beseda, and his deputy, Anatoly Bolukh, had both been placed under house arrest in an investigation, the report said.
The 5th Service is a hugely powerful branch of the FSB which oversees its operations outside Russia, notably in ex-Soviet states such as Ukraine.
It is distinct from Russia’s specialist Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), headed by the longstanding Kremlin insider Sergei Naryshkin.
The head of Russia’s national guard Viktor Zolotov was quoted by Russian news agencies this weekend as saying that the invasion was “not going as fast as we would like” but claimed this was in a bid to avoid civilian casualties.
France-based Russian dissident Vladimir Osechkin, who runs the gulagu-net.ru site which has exposed abuses in Russian jails, also reported the house arrests which he said were officially part of an investigation on the embezzlement of funds earmarked for Ukraine.
“But the real reason was the inadequate intelligence and incomplete and false information on the political situation in Ukraine,” he said.
Osechkin’s site has meanwhile also been publishing a series of letters from a purported whistleblower called “Wind of Change” claiming a climate of fear at the FSB due to its failure to warn of the resistance to the Russian invasion.
“Putin is likely carrying out an internal purge of general officers and intelligence personnel,” the US-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said.
“He may be doing so either to save face after failing to consider their assessments in his own pre-invasion decision-making or in retaliation for faulty intelligence he may believe they provided him.”
FSB Dosye, an investigative site that specializes in the work of the FSB, said Monday that the reports of a full scale purge were exaggerated. Beseda had indeed been interrogated by investigators but was still in his job and not under arrest.
Bolukh had also been interrogated but had for some years no longer been the number two of the 5th Service, it said.
Beseda, according to FSB Dosye and other reports, was present in Ukraine in 2104 in a bid to assist then president Viktor Yanukovych face down a pro-Western uprising. The leader eventually fled to Russia.
The senior FSB operative was targeted by EU sanctions in July 2014 after the annexation of Crimea and outbreak of fighting in the east of Ukraine with pro-Moscow separatists.
The sanctions order says Sergei Orestovich Beseda, born in 1954, “heads a service which oversees intelligence operations and international activity.”
Questions also lurk over the the role of the SVR after its chief Naryshkin was subjected to a bizarre humiliation by Putin on television on the eve of the invasion.
Western sources say it appears incontestable that the strength of Ukrainian resistance and the unwillingness of local populations to welcome Russia took Moscow by surprise.
“Before such an operation, you should start by looking at the state of the population, in what situation you are going to operate,” said a high-ranking French official, asking not to be named.
“There was a very poor analysis of the state of the morale of the Ukrainian and Ukraine as a whole,” added the source.


Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
Updated 35 min 54 sec ago

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream

Kremlin dismisses ‘stupid’ claims Russia attacked Nord Stream
  • Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Wednesday said claims that Russia was somehow behind a possible attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines were stupid, adding that Moscow saw a sharp increase the profits of US companies supplying gas to Europe.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a daily conference call with reporters that the incident needed to be investigated and the timings for repair of the damaged pipelines were not clear.
Europe has been investigating what Germany, Denmark and Sweden said were attacks which had caused major leaks into the Baltic Sea from two Russian gas pipelines at the center of an energy standoff.
Asked about claims Russia might somehow be behind the possible attack, Peskov said: “That’s quite predictable and also predictably stupid.”
“This is a big problem for us because, firstly, both lines of Nord Stream 2 are filled with gas — the entire system is ready to pump gas and the gas is very expensive... Now the gas is flying off into the air.”
“Before making any claims, we should wait for investigation into these ruptures, whether there was an explosion or not,” Peskov said. Information on the incident could be expected from Denmark and Sweden, he said.
Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday that three of four offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system sustained “unprecedented” damage in one day. All Nord Stream’s pipeline had not delivered gas by the time of the incident.
Nord Stream 1 has reported a significant pressure drop caused by the gas leak on both lines of the gas pipeline, while Nord Stream 2 said that a sharp pressure drop in line A was registered on Monday.


North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
Updated 28 September 2022

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul

North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast – Seoul
  • Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test
  • North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday

SEOUL: North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, as South Korea and the United States staged joint naval exercises involving an aircraft carrier.
Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test.
The launch came two days after South Korea and US forces launched their military exercise in the waters off South Korea’s east coast involving an aircraft carrier.
US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to arrive in the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Thursday after a visit to Japan.
North Korea also fired a ballistic missile toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday.
North Korea has been subjected to UN sanctions since 2006, which the Security Council has steadily — and unanimously — stepped up over the years to cut off funding for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
North Korea rejects UN resolutions as an infringement of its sovereign right to self-defense and space exploration, and has criticized military exercises by United States and South Korea as proof of their hostile intentions.


17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities
Updated 28 September 2022

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities

17 dead in China restaurant fire: authorities

BEIJING: A fire at a restaurant in northeastern China on Wednesday killed 17 people and injured three, according to local authorities.
The blaze broke out at 12:40 pm in an eatery in the city of Changchun, the local government said in a statement posted on the Weibo social media platform.


Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8

Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8
Updated 28 September 2022

Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8

Japan PM ‘regrets’ Morocco’s absence from TICAD 8
  • Japan PM Kishida Fumio asked Morocco to cooperate with Japan in the future

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said that Morocco’s decision to not participate in the 8th TICAD Summit was “regrettable” during a meeting on Wednesday with the Moroccan Prime Minister Aziz Akhannouch.

Kishida stated that he would like to obtain the cooperation of Akhannouch in order to promote the entry of Japanese companies into Morocco and also asked the Moroccan side to cooperate with Japan in the future, including on TICAD events.

In addition, Kishida said that Morocco’s ammonium phosphate is important for the stable supply of fertilizers and that he looked forward to Morocco’s constructive response on the matter.

The two leaders also exchanged views on international issues and resolved to continue working closely together in dealing with the food security risks.

Akhannouch expressed his heartfelt condolences on the passing of former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and stated that he would like to further strengthen the cooperative relationship that the two countries have built over many years in a wide range of fields.

Kishida expressed his gratitude to Akhannouch for attending Abe’s state funeral and said that the two countries have enjoyed good relations for many years based on the friendship between the imperial and royal families.


Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM

Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM
Updated 28 September 2022

Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM

Kishida promises support for two-state solution in meeting with former Palestine PM
  • Kishida stated that Japan should refrain from any unilateral measures that go against the peace process

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Wednesday reiterated his support for a “two-state solution” to the Palestinian problem during a “candid exchange of views” with former Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Kishida stated that Japan should refrain from any unilateral measures that go against the peace process and said he would like to continue contributing to the improvement of the environment for the progress of peace in the Middle East.

Japan’s PM also expressed his support for Palestine’s economic self-reliance through food assistance of more than $8 million – which was provided in response to the deterioration of food security in Palestine as a result of the situation in Ukraine – and the “Corridor for Peace and Prosperity” initiative promoted by Japan. Hamdallah expressed his gratitude for Japan’s support. 

Hamdallah conveyed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ condolences on the passing of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Kishida expressed his gratitude for the condolences sent by Palestinian officials.

Both sides agreed to continue to develop the relationship between Japan and Palestine.

This article was originally published on Arab News Japan.