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Opinion: Both Russian fighting and spying prowess under evaluation

Most Western experts agree that the vaunted Russian military might has exposed its true self – an incompetent colossus, whose slow battlefield advances can only be gained through massive destruction of residential areas and the deliberately brutal targeting of non-combatant civilians.

However, the skill of its foreign intelligence efforts and effectiveness of its disinformation campaign have yet to be determined after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was obvious that they seriously underestimated the determination and bravery of Ukrainians. It was a serious miscalculation that led to the dismissal of some intelligence chiefs.

Most Western experts agree that the vaunted Russian military might has exposed its true self – an incompetent colossus, whose slow battlefield advances can only be gained through massive destruction of residential areas and the deliberately brutal targeting of non-combatant civilians.

However, the skill of its foreign intelligence efforts and effectiveness of its disinformation campaign have yet to be determined after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was obvious that they seriously underestimated the determination and bravery of Ukrainians. It was a serious miscalculation that led to the dismissal of some intelligence chiefs.

It’s now known that Putin’s advisers have also misled him on the ongoing performance of their military in Ukraine. For some time his intelligence chiefs were simply afraid of telling him the truth.

Russia is now concentrating intelligence operations elsewhere as an unforeseen result of the war. In Finland, Russia is expected to quickly reinvigorate its clandestine activities, bringing it up to Cold War highs, according to the nation’s security and intelligence agency SUPO. It’s stated that Moscow’s influence and intelligence operations are currently the primary threats to Finland’s national security.

The main reason for this intensification of Russian covert activity in Finland? To polarize public debate about NATO membership for Finland. Observers, at the moment, predict that Finland will opt to join. Finland has already decided to abandon a joint Russia-Finland project in building a nuclear power plant in Finland.

SUPO has advised that the government must provide public forums for a free and candid debate on the NATO question, without fear of influence and interference from foreign actors. The success with which Russia can shape public and governmental opinion on the matter will also be a test about the effectiveness of Russia’s disinformation capability in the West.

(Read more: Estonian Life No. 18 2022 paber- and PDF/digi)

Laas Leivat, Toronto


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