Ukraine crisis: Russia and the West will collide also in the world of espionage

Read few comments.

Questions:

1. As relations with Russia worsen over Ukraine according to Daily Mirror MI5 warns British officials to beware of Russian ‘honey traps’. How much it is a realistic scenario in your opinion?

2. Would you say that will witness kind of escalation regarding Russian intelligence activities toward the West and vice versa and how may this escalation look like?

Answers:

Robert DoverSenior Lecturer in International Relations, Loughborough University

1. Well, I think this has focused on one particular element of intelligence tradecraft. It is – of course – a particularly lurid element, and it sells newspapers. The more serious points are these: 1) the British are known to be particularly susceptible to feeling pressure from these kind of revelations. They are no more or less likely to fall prey to these approaches, but are more likely to mishandle them. So, it’s a visible weakness in the armoury, if you want to think of it that way. A typical French operative would have no similar issues. 2) there is a wider point about all sorts of different influences and pressures and the UK – anecdotally- has seen a good deal of attention over the last five years and so some of that effort will be ratcheted up now. So, to directly answer your question – it is realistic, with many other realistic scenarios not involving naked women.

2. We will witness it. Some of it might appear in the cyber realm. Disruptions etc. It will mainly take a pro-active form in trying to manipulate public discourse and influencing key groups (my guess).

Stephen Dorril, Senior Lecturer,  Huddersfield University

1. Rather silly and redundant of Cold War thinking. Typical kind of mail story and not to be taken too seriously. The Russians have other things to deal with.

2. This is more to the point. We know that Putin is paranoid and that he is former KGB so the thinking will revert to the early 80s and the need to get intelligence on the West’s military plans and thinking. So there will be a urgent requirement to look at traditional subjects such as troop movements, airlifting equipment to eastern Europe – any signs that the West is planning a military response. And a requirement for political intelligence on the EU’s thinking. And also energy policy – the move from Russian gas and oil to other countries.

Anthony GleesProfessor, Director, Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies, University of Buckingham

We are facing a very serious situation with Russia in the hands of a chancre who clearly wishes to expand the territory of Russia by using armed force as a threat. I am reminded of a previous chancer Krushchev. But where is there a JFK? If Ukraine falls or is destroyed where will be next? The Baltic States? History shows that appeasement never works.

Yes MI5 is right to warn about honey traps as the experience of Mike Hancock MP shows clearly. But MI5 should also be warning against the use of Russian cash for the purpose of corrupting our public life.

We in UK already have experience if Russian intelligence activity. I think you will find that Russia already exploits ‘useful idiots’ and agents of influence in our media. We should certainly prepare for a new Cold War. It is better than a Hot War.  Not because we want one but because Putin has forced one on us. We cannot allow the threat of force to change borders or undermine international law.

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