New report assesses record of Russian unconventional operations in Ukraine war

Ukraine MariupolA NEW REPORT PUBLISHED by a London-based security think-tank concludes that Russia has employed unconventional operations effectively to subdue the population in occupied areas of Ukraine. These successes contrast sharply with the inferior performance of Russia’s conventional military forces, as revealed last week in a series of leaked documents belonging to the United States Department of Defense.

The 39-page report was published on March 29 by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). It is titled “Preliminary Lessons from Russia’s Unconventional Operations During the Russo-Ukrainian War, Feb 2022-Feb 2023”. It suggests that the early assessments of the Russian intelligence community failed to anticipate by a wide margin the strength of the Ukrainian opposition to the Russian invasion, as well as the West’s resolve to assist Kyiv. Moreover, early assessments by Russian intelligence agencies severely over-estimated the capabilities of the Russian military, with near-catastrophic results.

However, the report claims that, in contrast to its early assessments, the record of unconventional operations by Russia’s intelligence community in Ukraine has been largely successful, and has allowed Moscow to effectively subdue occupied populations in eastern Ukraine. It suggests that Russian intelligence agencies began planning for the military invasion at least eight months in advance. They prepared the ground by assembling a large network of agents on the ground in Ukraine, which included at least 800 Ukrainian government officials. Some of these officials offered to spy for Russia voluntarily, while others were coerced through various means.

The agent network inside Ukraine gave Russian intelligence agencies access to government databases, as well as to communications intercepts. These were used to construct detailed assessments of targeted individuals in occupied areas of Ukraine, and enabled Russian intelligence agencies to operate surgically in neutralizing leading pro-Kyiv officials in those areas. That method has been largely effective in the past year, and has allowed Moscow to exercise strict control in areas under occupation through “a steady stream of human intelligence” from its agent networks, the report claims.

In an unrelated development, a trove of leaked documents circulated on several social media platforms late last week. The documents appear to contain intelligence briefs compiled by the Joint Staff of the United States Department of Defense. The briefs contain intelligence information from a host of American intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency. According to reports, the documents show the extent to which American intelligence has penetrated the Russian government. They also show Washington’s ability to assess with accuracy Moscow’s military and intelligence planning. The New York Times, which reported on the leak last week, said the documents show that “nearly every Russian security service [has been] penetrated by the United States in some way”.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 10 April 2023 | Permalink

5 Responses to New report assesses record of Russian unconventional operations in Ukraine war

  1. King Nether says:

    “…, the documents show the extent to which American intelligence has penetrated the Russian government…” Lipstick on a pig.

  2. Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) is a right wing think tank partly funded by the British government, which itself is currently also right wing and far removed from the mood of the streets. So the tendency and problem is living in an echo chamber (hearing what you want to hear) as opposed to clinical bottom line assessment. I’ve found that most authors of such reports past and present fail to rely on basic instincts of how the enemy function, its psychology and its ways and means out in the field itself. That’s how the cold war was won. Calculated guess work goes nowhere. Just another piece of the propaganda puzzle laid out on a polished office desk. I suggest actually going there and seeing for yourself the ugliness is the answer but that’s not happening enough. Last year I went on five trips to former Soviet controlled nations and what I read in our western media is entirely a different kettle of fish when out and about with the people that live in that environment. Day and night.

  3. Pete says:

    In contrast to the tone of the comments above…
    The positive news is that the groundwork of Western intel agencies, special forces, the ammunition buildup and Western alliance building, prior to the failed February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, did contribute to:
    – Russian intelligence’s failure to anticipate the strength of the Ukrainian opposition to the Russian invasion
    – Russian intelligence’s failure to anticipate Western countries’ resolve to assist Ukraine, and
    – Russian intelligence’s over-estimation of the capabilities of the Russian conventional military, with almost catastrophic results for that military.

    For example, the sinking of the cruiser Moskva, flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, speaks volumes

  4. Well, Pete, you’ve just done the classic manifestation of what echo chamber is about! Apart from the rattletrap Moskva’s sinking, which did take place, your assumptions on intelligence reflects what you were informed about through third parties without you having been there to see for yourself. I see you are an expert on submarines. I would always defer knowledge on that subject to you. That subject matter is what you know and what I don’t know. What worries me is the amount of delusional propaganda that abounds about Ukraine, Russia, Taiwan and China. Frankly, if we in the West keep on this path blindfolded like we have been doing then we will fall off it and hurt ourselves eventually. And at this pace a new cold war will come. regrettably, is the bottom-line point of my writing my comment. I’m a retired long-term British intelligence officer who was stationed in several Eastern bloc capitals.

  5. Pete says:

    Hi Nicholas

    I accept some of your points. It is important that you bring your voice of experience to the debate for balance. In terms of amount of “delusional propaganda” being lapped up by the West the US admittedly does have a talent for picking false prophets like:

    – failed Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek “Father of Taiwan” whose charming American accented wife addressed both Houses of Congress in 1943 [1]
    like Zelensky (half false but half hero) did so recently

    – then there was Ahmed Chalabi who, by being debonaire “Arab in a suite”, convinced the US invasion force [2] that he could make Iraq a Jeffersonian Democracy from 2003…

    HOWEVER Ukraine is worth defending because Putin is like that German who was encouraged by a West that tried Appeasement. Putin realises Russians rally around the President in what he claims is a righteous “defensive” war.

    Like a Hitler Putin gambled when he invaded Ukraine’s east and Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. Having met a Western Appeasement response he gambled that invading all of Ukraine in 2022 would also be met by Appeasement. Herr Putin is now bleeding Russians dry with his Make War for Re-Election Approach.


    I know a bit about submarines, but equally a bit about intelligence dynamics…

    Regards Pete

We welcome informed comments and corrections. Comments attacking or deriding the author(s), instead of addressing the content of articles, will NOT be approved for publication.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: