By Monica Showalter
Mark Wauck, at his Meaning in History blog, has come upon an interesting report from an independent journalist about who’s behind all the mysterious explosions and fires in Russia, coinciding with its war in Ukraine.
The short answer? It’s the CIA.
Jack Murphy’s report, published last Dec. 24, outlines how the agency teamed up with a NATO ally, (maybe Poland or U.K.), to set up sleeper cells inside Russia. Those sleepers were subsequently “activated” to conduct sabotage operations on critical Russian installations:
The campaign involves long standing sleeper cells that the allied spy service has activated to hinder Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine by waging a secret war behind Russian lines.
Years in the planning, the campaign is responsible for many of the unexplained explosions and other mishaps that have befallen the Russian military industrial complex since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, according to three former U.S. intelligence officials, two former U.S. military officials and a U.S. person who has been briefed on the campaign. The former officials declined to identify specific targets for the CIA-directed campaign, but railway bridges, fuel depots and power plants in Russia have all been damaged in unexplained incidents since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
Murphy’s report, which seems very knowledgeable and includes many anonymous interviews with people identified as in the intelligence field, described a very layered operation, with some sleeper teams set up in the wake of Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, some teams set up by allies independently, and some teams set up by Ukraine itself, whose nationals have a fairly easy time “passing” as Russian or at least not drawing much suspicion inside the very suspicious country of Russia. Murphy’s report includes many puerile tweets and comments from Ukrainian officials who pretty well give their game away to the Russians, effectively admitting their role. However, there seem to be others.
The kicker here is that many of these key sleeper cells were set up by President Obama in the wake of a phony report about Russia interfering in the 2016 election.
Obama didn’t like that the American people elected President Trump — and he sought to punish Russia for it, like a child throwing objects in a tantrum. Obama wanted to make them pay. According to Murphy:
Any covert action undertaken by U.S. agencies must be authorized by a presidential finding. After the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia had interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, President Barack Obama signed such a finding for covert action against Russia before he left office, according to The Washington Post. The finding involved the National Security Agency and the military’s Cyber Command in addition to the CIA and included a scheme to plant “cyberweapons in Russia’s infrastructure,” according to the Post.
That 2016 finding also included language about sabotage operations, according to a former CIA official. Other former officials said that the current sabotage campaign would have required either an entirely new finding or an amendment to a pre-existing finding on Russia.
And suddenly, Russia is seeing a lot of sabotage — on munitions plants, utilities, railroad tracks, anything that serves Russia’s war effort and many of these mysterious fires and explosions are happening deep inside Russia. The Russians claim in public that these were all just accidents. But as Murphy notes:
While sabotage may seem like a dated concept, recalling the exploits of T.E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”) in World War I and the Office of Strategic Services in World War II, it remains a relevant tool for disrupting an enemy’s logistics and sowing confusion in his rear areas.
What’s more, the Russians seem to have been caught flatfooted.
According to Murphy:
“There have been many fires across Russia over the past few months, particularly in weapons-manufacturing plants and other crucial sites,” said Russia analyst Olga Lautman, a non-resident fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis. “Russian media has reported on these fires as separate incidents. They have not created any propaganda around these incidents and treat them as accidents.”
For instance, when a Russian Aerospace Defense Forces building burned down in late April, killing more than 20 people, Russian state media reported that the blaze was caused by faulty wiring.
No propaganda, from the guys who are the top-seed paranoids about this sort of thing?
Something else makes me think they were caught unawares, too:
A few years ago, I had a long conversation with a Russian official about spy operations, and while I don’t remember the context, I recall that the official told me the CIA would find it a waste of money and resources to send a spy to some boring city like Chelyabinsk because there’s nothing there to spy on.
Now perhaps this person knew nothing.
But on the other hand, the attacks have been so numerous and damaging, it’s also possible that they suspected nothing, and the sleeper cells were able to get into place with ease because the Russians had written off the possibility that it could happen.
The danger of such sabotage ops, writes Murphy, is that it could drive the conflict into a direct war with Russia:
Revoke Obamas Peace Prize
Well, I doubt it since everyone knew the Russians didn’t actually interfere with the election on Trump’s favor.