Thursday, November 28, 2019

Another Week in Putin’s Less than Totally Successful Hybrid War Against Europe

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 24 – Vladimir Putin’s “killers, agents, and propagandists” continue to operate in so many different ways and in so many different places that it has become difficult to keep track of their hybrid war against Europe and their actions are becoming normalized in a way as part of the background of more defensible developments.

            To help prevent that from happening, the editors of Moscow’s New Times present a review of the successes and failures of Putin’s various agents across Europe over the last week or so. The failures are especially noteworthy because many consider Putin’s agents to be supermen who win all the time (

·         Serbia. After another GRU operation was exposed, Serbian President Alexander Vučić said that “we will not change our policy toward Russia; we consider it a fraternal country.”  But he did say he had asked the Russian ambassador one question -- “why?”

·         Bulgaria. The names of eight GRU officers who sought to dispatch by poison Bulgarian businessman Emilian Gebrev in 2015 were released after a joint investigation by Bellingcat, The Insider and Der Spiegel.

·         Spain. The Spanish government has launched an investigation into the involvement of the Russian military intelligence service in Catalonia at the time of the referendum on that region’s independence.

·         Great Britain. Two new books, Hailey Blake’s From Russia with Blood and Andrey Soldatov and Irina Borogan’s The Compatriots, have appeared and become best sellers. They detail the ways in which first Soviet and now Putin’s special services seek to kill their opponents abroad.

·         Nord Stream 2. A US congressman has offered legislation that would impose sanctions on those involved with this project. Many in Germany fear they would be affected.

·         Czech Republic. Russian propagandists organized a media forum in Prague to talk about information security and then behaved so badly against one of the participants in an episode caught on camera that the entire event gave Moscow and Putin a black eye.

·         Latvia. Latvia’s National Council on Electronic Media banned the broadcast of nine television channels belonging to Yuri Kovalchuk, who is on the EU’s sanctions list for his role as Putin’s personal banker. 

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