Mark Galeotti Profile picture
Mayak Intelligence, @UCLSSEES, @RUSI_org, @IIR_Prague. Analyst of murky topics from Russian politics to global crime. Views my own
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25 Jun
I must confess I'm depressed how much UK/Western coverage of the Black Sea spat is so keen to poke (minor, and subjective) holes in HMG's account and find fault with its response. A thread 1/
‘MOD said no warning shots were fired, but they were.’ We have footage of one Okhotnik patrol cutter firing its 30mm gun when Defender is almost on the horizon. This was more an act of impotent rage, not a meaningful warning 2/
‘The BBC report undermines MOD.’ Really? HMG clearly wanted to downplay drama, journo understandably to hype it. But in essence they say the same. 3/
Read 10 tweets
24 Jun
Today’s #Russia press reaction to yesterday’s @HMSDefender/#BlackSea incident – a quick summary thread and a few observations 1/
Govt @rgrus runs comment from Konstantin Kosachev, dep. Senate Speaker:
was (UK?) bid “to prevent the recent reconciliation of positions and approaches, which was made presidents of Russia and the United States at the Geneva summit.” 2/…
Conversely, @izvestia_ru treats this rather blandly, really just running with the official govt statement from Dep FM Ryabkov, but also quoting UK’s denials 3/…
Read 9 tweets
23 Jun
Moscow is saying that Border Guard ships fired warning shots and Black Sea Fleet Su-24s dropped bombs because HMS Defender 'intruded' onto its self-proclaimed waters off Crimea. Not yet confirmed by HMG, as far as I know, but a short thread 1/
By international law, of course, the waters off Crimea are *not* Russian, as the annexation is not recognised. Continuing to pass those waters - without being too provocative - is a crucial way of reaffirming law over land- (and sea-) grab 2/
As I wrote here for @ConGeostrategy, HMS Defender's mission to the Black Sea was a political one - about projecting presence, supporting Kyiv and reminding Moscow that its annexation was not forgotten or accepted 3/…
Read 8 tweets
11 Jun
"Biden carries the future of democracy with him on his travels to Europe. He must rally European leaders, reinvigorate NATO..., and lead the G-7". And no doubt leap tall buildings with a single bound.
There are some serious dangers in this kind of hyperbolic heroic narrative 1/x
It relegates US allies to the role of adoring chorus or hapless clients. At best, this is infantilising ("you can't expect us to do things on our own", at worse alienating, esp since I think peak US hegemony has actually passed. 2/x
Like any cliffhanger TV series, it makes everything Exciting + Pivotal. Most i/nat diplomacy is about the incremental tending of relationships, not a momentary breakthrough. It creates pressure for sugar-hit initiatives + announcements that are often ill-thought-thru 3/x
Read 5 tweets
16 Mar
This is pretty reprehensible, not just for humanitarian reasons, but also because it actually makes the whole 'Moscow's viral diplomacy' into a thing, without Moscow having to do anything. A short thread to vent and explain 1/
Of course Moscow is going to capitalise on the prestige of having come up quickly with a highly effective vaccine - just as, for example, the UK is happy to be identified with the _Oxford_/AstraZeneca one. All countries take victory laps for their successes, and often rightly 2/
Likewise, of course it will extract what political capital it can from gifting its allies, wooing the wavering, and tempting members of what it regards as a hostile bloc, the West. Better a policy based on trying to push vaccines than one based on hoarding and denial, surely 3/
Read 9 tweets
23 Jan
As dawn sweeps westwards across Russia and protesters and OMON get to do their thing, the q arises of just what constitutes ‘success’ for both #Navalny and the Kremlin. An early morning thread 1/
Obviously, one day of action will neither get Navalny free nor break his movement. Rather, it is about defining what kind of struggle this will be 2/
For Team Navalny, it is about the numbers coming out, the spread of places they come out, and at least as important, what kind of people come out. Can they use it to demonstrate a broadening of their support base? 3/
Read 17 tweets
29 Mar 20
1/ OK, time to make myself unpopular. Yes, in broad terms, #Russia considers itself at #politicalwar with the West, but so much of the overheated current coverage of a supposed use of #COVID19 in infowar is questionable + dangerous. A thread.
2/ Stop conflating Moscow + Beijing. #China is absolutely staging a coordinated disinformation campaign to minimise its responsibility for the pandemic. But the “China + Russia” formulation implying they are the same or coordinating just doesn’t work
3/ Yes, all kinds of toxic conspiracy theory in some of (state-ctrlld) Russian media. But that doesn’t mean it is Kremlin-mandated. These talking heads are paid controversialists who come up with all kinds of nonsense all the time on all subjects w/o any guidance
Read 8 tweets
9 Mar 20
A Presidential Decree has outlined the duties of the new role of deputy chair of #Russia’s Security Council, #Medvedev’s job. What can we learn from it? THREAD 1/?…
There’s clearly an effort being made to make this look like a real job. He’ll be a part of the “development and implementation of foreign policy”, prepare an annual report on the state of national security, and monitor the implementation of presidential instructions. 2/?
He’ll also hold workshops + strategic planning meetings with other members of SovBez, liaise + generally be a presence. So far so good, + a genuine step up from what otherwise would be the main function, which would be simply to attend + sometimes chair SovBez formal meeting 3/?
Read 18 tweets
3 Dec 19
THREAD: I’m really quite uncomfortable with the tenor of today’s reporting about the supposed similarity between the leaked trade talk documents Labour revealed and Russian online intelligence tactics 1/
(Based on this report from Graphika:…) /2
1st, the Secondary Infektion case with which parallels have been drawn involved FALSE or MODIFIED materials being peddled online after a hack. I’ve seen no suggestions these documents were either (If they were, I’m sure by now the govt would be all over this) /3
Read 10 tweets
17 Nov 19
On the claims of #Russia's “unquantifiable” interference with the #Brexit referendum – a short thread following today's @thetimes report 1/…
First of all, this is headline-making but inane: OF COURSE #Russia would have done what it could to push Brexit. For a country regarding itself at #politicalwar with the West (…) then this is a no-brainer… 2/
It divides the UK and EU, it distracts from other issues (not least tying UK govt in knots for years), it spreads demoralisation. It’s a gift that keeps giving. 3/
Read 9 tweets
12 Sep 19
Assuming Oleg Smolyakov was indeed the much-touted CIA spy in Russia's Presidential Administration, a thread about some possible implications... /1
He would have had significant but limited access to classified materials: the Russians practice need-to-know, and only certain documents would cross his desk, but he was nonetheless in an environment where sensitive issues would be discussed /2
That said, I’d have my doubts as to whether he could offer hard certainties about serious, high-level intel activities such as election interference. I suspect the best he could offer is inference and hearsay - potentially v revealing but also subjective /3
Read 8 tweets
8 Aug 19
THREAD: The Kremlin's new crackdown on @Navalny_En‘s FBK anti-#corruption foundation is reprehensible but predictable: as the focus shifted from cosmopolitan Muscovites to the region’s + impoverished public servants, that's when Navalny risked being a threat... /1
...After all, protests in Moscow were awkward + embarrassing, but so long as the security forces remained loyal + effective, that’s all they were. Even at the height of Bolotnaya, this never looked to be a Russian Maidan... /2 Navalny targets public servants (including, NB, police) + seeks to build up network in the regions, this could *potentially* be something v different. Kremlin knows #corruption is its Achilles heel, something that can mobilise oppo across class, region, ethnic divides /3
Read 6 tweets
26 Nov 18
I’m travelling, so instead of a blog post on the #AzovSea crisis, a twitter thread. Bottom line: unless mishandled, this is not a prelude to war. It is #Russia|n aggression vs #Ukraine, but limited in scope. (No justification tho that is) /1
Moscow clearly seeks to turn the Azov Sea into a Russian basin, and to use it to bring leverage to bear on Kyiv. It wants to demonstrate its capacity to act without having to worry about external constraint. /2
Thus is demonstrates military and (geo)political preponderance, but in what is intended as a limited way. /3
Read 11 tweets