Monday, March 30, 2015

Reshetnikov Details How RISI Helps Putin Make Decisions

Paul Goble

             Staunton, March 30 – Leonid Reshetnikov, the obscurantist and imperialist former SVR lieutenant general and head of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI), says that his organization is “one of leading” organizations providing input to Vladimir Putin as the Kremlin leader formulates his foreign and domestic policies.

             In the course of a long survey of his views on the world and Russia, Reshetnikov provides additional details on the way in which RISI is involved in “the development of information-analytic materials, proposals, recommendations and expert assessments for state structures including the Presidential Administration (

             According to its president, RISI “is one of the analytic centers [in Russia] which supplies the Presidential Administration with analytic materials. Besides us, I think,” Reshetnikov continues, “the Kremlin above all relies on the reports of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,on the work of our special services … and on the work of other institutes.”

             But “among these other institutes,” he suggests, RISI “occupied one of the leading places.”

             Reshetnikov served for several decades in the SVR and ultimately was head of its analytic administration. Consequently, he says, he understands what ordinary people do not – just how reports are prepared for senior officials. Outsiders “think that someone writes something, gives it to Putin, he then reads it as says: ‘Fine! Let’s take this decision now!’”
            That is not how things proceed. Instead, there is a constant flow of materials “from various sides,” and this is processed again and again at various levels in what is “an enormous analytic” process which “continues” at each level “right up to the very top,” that is, to Vladimir Putin.

             The RISI president tells that Russia’s foreign intelligence services did not have an analytic shop until “the end of 1943.”  That was one of the reasons for the country’s failures in the first months after the Germany invasion. There was plenty of operational information, he says, but “there wasn’t any analysis” that sorted it out.

            As a result, the country’s leaders were pushed now in one direction, now in another. Thus, Reshetnikov says, “Zorge wrote that war would begin on June 22, but some agent in Berlin reported that it wouldn’t begin at all, and a third asserted that the war would happen but it would start only in December.”

            Now, he continues, the situation is different. There is an enormous analytic apparatus, and one of its strengths is that it contains and reports “alternative points of view” up the line so that the Kremlin will not be blindsided or trapped by a single position.

             Asked about RISI’s role in the run-up to the annexation of Crimea, Reshetnikov says that “we of course constantly prepared analytic materials both on Crimea and on Ukraine … but I want to say,” he insisted, “that in the preparation of the reunification of Crimea, no one from Russia took part … it was something unexpected for all.”

             Challenged by his interviewer that Putin has said that the Crimea operation was planned, Reshetnikov suggests that it “was planned when already everything had begun,” that the planning “went in parallel with events,” rather than in anticipation of them even though RISI and others had highlighted the attitudes of the Crimean population and Kyiv’s shortcomings.

            “But unfortunately,” the RISI president says, “we did not allow for the possibility that these attitudes would move toward a more effective phase, one of action.”  When that happened, Moscow, however, was ready to respond.

             (For background on RISI, Reshetnikov, and its and his recommendations, see “Kremlin Think Tank Confirms Close Links with Kremlin and with New Greek Premier” (February 1, 2015) at; “Putin’s Personality, Agenda and Nuclear Weapons Make Him ‘Most Dangerous’ Leader in History, Piontkovsky Says” (March 18, 2015) at; andRussia Must Stop Relying on Soviet and Western Answers to the Nationality Question and Use Tsarist Ones Instead, RISI Says (January 14, 2014) at


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