Russian intelligence is at (political) war

"It is inevitable and understandable that we rely on mirror-imaging when looking at Russia’s security and intelligence services. The problem is that – however much there may appear to be meaningful comparisons on paper – in terms of their missions, interactions and mindsets, they are on a wartime footing," writes Mark Galeotti in his analysis for NATO Review.

The Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) is broadly comparable to agencies such as the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), commonly known as MI6, and France’s DGSE. Its Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) is a military foreign intelligence service, again like so many NATO counterparts. The Federal Security Service (FSB) is a domestic security and counter-intelligence agency – while it is rather more carnivorous than the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Germany’s BfV or Italy’s AISI, at a pinch one might think the analogy holds.

But, if anything, a much better way of thinking of these agencies is to compare them to the British Special Operations Executive or US Office of Strategic Service of the Second World War. For they are engaged in far more than just collecting information to inform policy, and with a bias towards aggressive risk-taking that is actively encouraged by the Kremlin...

You can read full article here.

Dr Mark Galeotti is the IIR Senior Researcher, the Co-ordinator of the Centre for European Security of the IIR as well as an internationally recognized expert on transnational organized crime, security issues and modern Russia.