With tensions between Russia and the West ready to explode, the British Foreign Officer, using highly classified intelligence, has accused Moscow and President Vladimir Putin of a plot to overthrow the Ukrainian government.
Coup d’état Incoming Thanks to Russia?
According to the British Foreign Office and intelligence services—namely the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and MI6—Moscow is looking for ways to launch a coup d’état in Kyiv to replace the current pro-Western government with a pro-Russian one.
A Ukrainian government friendly to Russia would be the ideal puppet to facilitate an all-out invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops or further incursions and occupations on the eastern border.
“The information being released today shines a light on the extent of Russian activity designed to subvert Ukraine, and is an insight into Kremlin thinking,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a press release.
“Russia must de-escalate, end its campaigns of aggression and disinformation, and pursue a path of diplomacy. As the UK and our partners have said repeatedly, any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake with severe costs,” the United Kingdom’s top diplomat added.
The Kremlin is considering Yevhen Murayev, a former member of the Ukrainian parliament, as a potential candidate for a pro-Russia regime. In addition, the British stated that they have information on several former Ukrainian politicians who are cooperating or maintaining links with the Russian intelligence services.
Among these politicians are Serhiy Arbuzov, First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine from 2012-2014 and acting Prime Minister in 2014; Andriy Kluyev, First Deputy Prime Minister from 2010-2012 and Chief of Staff to former Ukrainian President Yanukovich; Vladimir Sivkovich, former Deputy Head of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council (RNBO); and Mykola Azarov, Prime Minister of Ukraine from 2010-2014.
Some of these former politicians are currently working with the Russian intelligence officers who are preparing the coup.
The Russian Foreign Ministry denied these claims. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that “the disinformation spread by the British Foreign Office is more evidence that it is the NATO countries, led by the Anglo-Saxons, who are escalating tensions around Ukraine. We call on the British Foreign Office to stop provocative activities, stop spreading nonsense.”
Truth or Deception?
The GCHQ, the signals intelligence agency of the U.K. has focused on Russia for decades and has developed impressive collection capabilities. Expert commentators have rightly assessed that the British intelligence services wouldn’t issue such a warning if they didn’t have the necessary all-source intelligence to back it up. However, when Western intelligence services deal with Russia, they have to account for the inherent tendency for deception that has characterized the Kremlin from time immemorial. Russian officials often lie even in encrypted networks knowing that the American National Security Agency, GCHQ, or other intelligence services might be picking up their transmissions.
To further complicate matters, there are only a handful of very close advisors that know or can influence Putin’s decision-making. Coupled with such tight operational security, this makes it very hard to determine the plans and intentions of Putin but also highlights the importance of all-source intelligence that can bulletproof an assessment.
1945’s New Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.