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`The West got it so right and Russia got it so wrong when it came to intelligence before the war in Ukraine. Now, according to an expert on Russian intelligence services, President Vladimir Putin is looking for the spy who shafted him. “We hear some new rumors and more information about an apparent hunt for a traitor inside the FSB, Russia’s federal security service, because lots of people are asking themselves right now in Moscow, why is it that US intelligence was so exact, so precise before the invasion,” said Andrei Soldatov.
Soldatov thinks the United States and NATO learned the details of Russian planning from more than just electronic intercepts, because he says Russia has a Byzantine system and the way decisions are made is never clear. So Putin would assume that someone sang. And it would be convenient to hang his military losses on that someone.
“It’s a very Russian way to work on your problems, like if something went really, really wrong. It’s always good to blame a traitor because in this case, you are fine. You did nothing wrong. It’s all about some traitor.” Soldatov who has studied and written about the FSB for many years said that when the top is looking for a mole, they dig up the whole yard ruthlessly to maximize information dump. According to the Bellingcat investigative group, 150 members of the FSB have either been purged or arrested in recent weeks.
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Soldatov says he is trying to confirm the information, but it would in fact fit a pattern. What Soldatov does believe is that Sergei Beseda, the head of the FSB’s Fifth Service, tasked with keeping ex-Soviet republics sweet, has gone from being under house arrest to being put behind the bars of the notorious Lefortovo prison where murders and brutal interrogations took place at the hands of the NKVD, Joseph Stalin’s secret police. If indeed Lefortovo is where Beseda is, it sends a message to anyone even considering stepping out of line.
But Soldatov says there is also a practical reason to keeping him there. “The Russian prison system is very corrupt. So once you are inside, you can find a way to communicate with the outside world. You can get your iPhone and you can make a call. So everything, almost everything is possible, but not in Lefortovo. In Lefortovo people might be kept completely incommunicado. And as far as I know, basically he’s kept there under false name, and there will be no option for him to communicate with the outside world.” Soldatov says, officially, it appears charges against Beseda are embezzlement, but he thinks that may suit the powers that be than announcing an out-and-out hunt for a turncoat.
Soldatov tells Fox News the buzz he is getting from his sources is that many in the security services and even the military are blaming not only the Fifth Service for failures in this war, but also Vladimir Putin himself. “In 2014 when we had the first stage of the invasion of Ukraine, everybody was happy with the way it was going…happy with Putin and on the same page,” he says.
Many on the inside were in favor of the latest intervention as well, but he adds, “they blame Putin and the Fifth Service specifically for doing it in a way that caused so much problem and damage and casualties.” Does that mean, I ask, that they are ready to turn on Putin? “Right now, they’re building this distance between them and him. But it doesn’t mean that they’re ready to do something about him because there are so many things are against that. The lack of tradition. The KGB was never really good at plotting and conspiring. The only time they tried in 1991, it ended up with a disaster because the middle level officers didn’t support the leadership of the KGB to get rid of Gorbachev. For the army, it’s even worse,” Soldatov says.
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Soldatov says what he finds even more striking, even perhaps ominous, about this particular moment from the point of view of security is that he says Putin has actually turned on his own footsoldiers.
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“The most surprising thing is that Putin decided to attack his own people. He trusted these people for 20 years. Even before the war, he started by attacking and humiliating the chief of his foreign intelligence agency. Two weeks later, he attacked the FSB . Three weeks later, he attacked the National Guard. This is something completely unprecedented.”