Moscow expanding subversive influence operations across Europe - RLI

Moscow expanding subversive influence operations across Europe - RLI

Russia has planned a number of malign influence operations in several European countries in order to create the illusion of pro-Russian sentiments, popular discontent over Russia sanctions and military aid being provided to Ukraine.

That’s according to Robert Lansing Institute, a U.S.-based think tank.

Such operations provide a unique opportunity to expose Russia’s intelligence assets and affiliated organizations that will be involved.

These stunts are being prepared ahead of the Munich Security Conference (February 18-20). “It is obvious that, according to Moscow’s operational plan, such rallies should raise popular doubts about the unity of the West in countering Russia’s armed aggression,” RLI reports.

Assets from among the members of left-wing political forces and organizations are being recruited to this end, the report reads, adding that a significant part of them had initially been engaged by Russia’s communist regime to support the anti-war movement in the West. Far-right organizations and parties will also be involved, operating from the positions of protecting national interests and military potential, getting rid of the U.S. influence, and pulling out of NATO.

In addition to the actions scheduled for February in Great Britain, Russian intelligence agencies will organize similar events in Portugal Feb 16 through Feb 18, the think tank warns. The organizer is the “Portuguese Council for Peace and Cooperation”, which is the legal successor of the pro-communist organization “Movement for Peace in Portugal.” Its leader, Maria Ilda da Costa Figueiredo, is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Portugal, of which she has been part since the Soviet times.

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On February 18, a demonstration under the slogan “Negotiating instead of shooting” is scheduled to be held in Germany’s Munich. The organizer is “Public Initiative against the Holding of the NATO Security Conference.”

The events are expected to be attended by pro-Russian activists who have traveled to the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine or participated in propaganda events in Russia in the capacity of journalists or NGO members.

“The slogans to be promoted by the organizers will include demands to end hostilities in Ukraine, resume direct political dialogue with Moscow, reject the sanctions policy, demand that the Portuguese government stop its military aid to Ukraine, etc.” the report notes.

A number of protest stunts on German soil are carried out with the direct support of the right-wing populist political party “Alternative für Deutschland” (AfD), which is suspected of being financially supported by Russia, as well as of an extensive contact with Russian diplomats in Germany and members of foreign organizations that are known to be openly pro-Russian, as per the report.

Thus, on February 1, 2023, a demonstration in Germany’s Erfurt (Germany) outside of Thuringia’s Landtag with a call to prevent arms supplies to Ukraine was organized directly by the local branch of the AfD.

That the preparation for such actions comes along with the announcement of new packages of military aid to Ukraine, accompanied by Russian propaganda tantrums, testifies to their direct connection with Russian intelligence operations, RLI reports.

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According to the think tank’s sources in the Kremlin, Russia’s intelligence agencies report such actions to Putin mainly as “an attempt to claim that pro-Russian sentiments exist in Europe as a result of their long-term efforts.”

However, it is noted, the situation is identical to the Ukraine case, where until February 24, Russian intelligence reported to the country’s top leadership on strong pro-Russian sentiments and readiness of pro-Russian circles to independently run operations in Kremlin’s support. But as it turned out, “these show-off stunts come as a result of corrupt misuse of budget funds involving imitation of the alleged ‘pro-Russian sentiments.’”

“The Kremlin’s inability to influence NATO’s decision-making politically leads to attempts to organize demonstrative ‘solidarity’ rallies, designed similar to those run by communist Moscow during the Cold War. Sources in Moscow note that in the ongoing effort to set up pro-Russian rallies, there is a trend to organize demonstrations and pickets outside U.S. military bases,” RLI reports. “Another option is to gather crowds outside other military infrastructure facilities operated by NATO allies involved in the training of Ukrainian servicemen.”

According to the think tank’s estimates, violent acts of provocation targeting such facilities are possible involving infiltrated military intelligence operatives, in a radical bid to curb military aid to Kiev. In this context, we cannot rule out that the Kremlin will turn to the scenarios developed by the June 2 Movement, GRAPO, Brigate Rosse, and Die Revolutionären Zellen organizations. On February 26, a rally has been scheduled for 12:00 (local time) outside NATO’s Ramstein base under the slogan “Stop the export of NATO weapons to Ukraine to prevent the Third World War.”

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