Intelligence service: Ukraine is the key to Russia's imperial dreams

Foreign Intelligence Service (Välisluureamet).
Foreign Intelligence Service (Välisluureamet). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

While Ukraine is the linchpin that keeps Russian imperial ambitions together, Russia's ongoing aggression has not produced the desired end result the Foreign Intelligence Service (Välisluureamet) says. This means Russian President Vladimir Putin, who says that an independent Ukrainian state opposed to Russia would be tantamount to using weapons of mass destruction against Russia, intends to use even more extreme methods.

In its latest yearbook, which published Tuesday, the Foreign Intelligence Service reports that it is progress Ukraine has made in fleshing out a national identity for itself and away from the Russian orbit which troubles Russia the most.

Russia attracted U.S. and international attention in spring last year, leading to a summit, whereas the stakes have risen since then, the Foreign Intelligence Service says, with even the Russian president himself acknowledging: "With exceptional candor that 'forced assimilation' and the formation of a Ukrainian state 'aggressive towards Russia' are effectively comparable to using weapons of mass destruction against Russia."

Putin says that the number of Russian people may diminish by "hundreds of thousands, or even millions" as a result of divisions between the two countries, hence the increasingly extreme methods, which also threaten European security

Nonetheless and despite the struggle, Ukraine's leadership has so far been able to reduce significantly Russian influence in the country, the Foreign Intelligence Service says, and its western-faced integration has continued – causing the Kremlin to panic.

Those extreme measures are most vividly exemplified by the massing of around 150,000 Russian military personnel on its borders with Ukraine, along with the tens of thousands of troops currently in Belarus for a joint military exercise with that country

Russia's line on Ukraine also threatens to turn into a continual strategy and control of the narrative regarding Europe's overall security architecture, the Foreign Intelligence Service goes on, while an actual attack, either now or later, would exacerbate this tendency still.

Unrest in Belarus starting in 2020 and, more recently, in Kazakhstan is also demonstration that Russia has failed to wholly hijack the narrative, however.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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