Sergey Naryshkin: “We should be discreet about the future relationships with Kyiv”
Terrorist threat is shifting closer to the borders of CIS countries
Almost all CIS countries are subject to a strong external influence and provocative conflicts, while the state of affairs around the Commonwealth is becoming more complex than ever after the Cold War, security executives said at a summit of intelligence services in Kazan on 23 September. Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent found out how the overseas “friends” tried to undermine the political stability of independent states, where international terrorists were moving from the Syrian-Iraqi border and why the legendary “Soviet intelligence” overlooked Ukraine.
The increasing geopolitical tension on the southern borders of CIS countries, economic blackmail, mass cyberattacks on e-platforms of state authority agencies and active financing of public organisations — these are the most popular tools of the “American friends” for external influence on politics of CIS countries. Security and intelligence executives from the CIS countries on investigation enumerated these disruptive moments on 23 September.
As a host, head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin held the annual external security summit in the Kazan City Hall. Delegations of special services from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan participated in it. This annual meeting is held within an agreement on cooperation and exchange of data of intelligence services among these countries signed in Almaty in 1992. This document bans intelligence activities in CIS countries themselves.
External interference is unacceptable
Head of the Foreign Intelligence Service Sergey Naryshkin opened the meeting having read the Russian president’s welcome telegram in which Vladimir Putin urged “to be more resistant to external interference, especially in the light of the growing geopolitical tension”.
“I mean the attempts of external interference in almost any country. Different kinds of conflicts are provoked, centuries-old national traditions and historical memory are destroyed. The concept of cultural and state sovereignty is doubted. The peoples’ right to choose their fate by themselves is violated,” Putin’s speech reads.
The main goal of security agencies is not to allow destabilisation of the situation and external interference in political and social processes. Security agencies are becoming more responsible for providing sovereignty and security when defending society’s interests and values.
Where terrorists are rushing
Nevertheless, the current political situation in the Commonwealth’s countries remains complicated and unpredictable. Apart from ideological interference from the outside, terrorist threats arise here. According to Executive Secretary of CIS countries Sergey Lebedev, international terrorists are moving to the southern borders of CIS countries from the zone of Syrian and Iraqi conflict.
“The terrorist activity is moving from the Syrian-Iraqi zone to the southern borders of the Commonwealth now. Terrorists trained to conduct disruptive activities are coming back from this region to the CIS countries,” he said.
According to him, despite the efforts of the global community to stabilise the situation in Syria, the level of terrorist threat doesn’t reduce and can shift to the CIS countries.
“As a violation of agreements on strategic security, some well-known countries continue following the politics of forced dictatorship,” he claimed. “The conflict potential in international relationships with CIS countries is still high. The activity of NATO in weapon deployment close to the Commonwealth’s borders is especially alarming.”
Lebedev noted that in the future he planned to stop the “malicious cyberactivity” beforehand to oppose cyberthreats. As an illustrative example of the damage, he put an example of Venezuelans where almost the whole country was cut off from electricity according to the will of American authorities. He supposes that the contradictions of the CIS countries, Russia and NATO are based on principles, while the cooperation of third countries with NATO always has an “anti-Russian component”, which has repeatedly been confirmed in practice.
Who “foreign partners” finance
Tatarstan President is concerned about separate demonstrations of religious extremism and the incitement to interethnic disagreement by pro-Western mass media.
“Information resources financed from abroad are trying to destabilise the domestic political situation, kindle protest moods, incite to religious and interethnic disagreement and discredit efforts of the state and law enforcement agencies,” Rustam Minnikhanov noted in his speech.
One of the priority tasks nowadays, according to the Tatarstan president, is to form a strict strategy of opposition to international terrorism. He noted that the recent events in Saudi Arabia where unmanned aerial vehicles attacked oil factories illustrate that high-tech threats that hadn’t been considered as real are going to the forefront.
“Such a weapon can end up in the hands of terrorist organisations. It is possible to fight such organisations as Al-Qaeda, Taliban, the ISIS banned in Russia only by joint efforts,” Rustam Minnikhanov thinks.
What intelligence was busy with
But why did powerful “Russian intelligence” overlook Ukraine? When will it come back to Russia’s area of influence? At the end of the meeting, Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent asked the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service if the relationships with this country could become warmer.
“We can look at the future of relationships of Russia and Ukraine with very restrained optimism,” Sergey Naryshkin modestly promised.
According to him, there are the first signs that give some hope, but “a lot depends on the determination of new authorities of Kyiv”. He probably meant President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and the updated Supreme Rada.
“This issue hasn’t been discussed today. I can say that there can be found some first signs [of improvement], but a lot depends on the readiness and the ability of the new Kyiv power to act with determination, overcome the opposition of the so-called war party. We understand that it is quite hard for the new authorities to do,” the chief intelligence worker of Russia explained.
He also commented on the attacks on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. According to Naryshkin, this issue is still in the centre of attention of the CIS countries’ state security services, but clear and objective evidence of any state and organisation’s implication is needed to name the performer.
“This region is an explosive territory, a lot of terrorist threats come from there,” Sergey Naryshkin explained why many events happening in the Near East and in North Africa are in the centre of attention of security and intelligence services. In his opinion, the attack on the energy infrastructure of Saudi Arabia is a “dangerous occurrence” and intelligence workers were doing their job to provide CIS countries with security in order to resist it.
Russian authorities are discussing this incident, Naryshkin noted.
“Our stand is that we, undoubtedly, discuss such actions,” he said. “But one must have clear and objective evidence to establish guilt.”
According to the head of the FIS, without such evidence, it isn’t acceptable to make unfounded statements that a state or movement is the author of such actions.