Putin Casts Aside FSB following Latter's Failed Intelligence on Ukraine
Vladimir Alekseyev, one of the masterminds behind the Salisbury novichok-poisoning attack, is now responsible for Ukraine intelligence work.
Putin has sidelined the Russian spy leader in the Russia-Ukraine war, replacing
the leader with military intelligence personnel, including a former special forces
officer who was accused of masterminding the Salisbury poisoning incident.
Security Service of Russia (The FSB) is blamed for botched intelligence that led
to the latest awkward failure in the invasion operations.
to a Russian security analysis report, the responsibility of spying on Ukraine
has now been transferred to the GRU, the military intelligence agency that competes
with the FSB.
The GRU is
a branch of the Russian army with its own special forces. It has partaken in notorious
actions around the world, including attempted coups, assassinations, and
destruction of critical infrastructure. The British authorities list GRU
agents, Anatoly Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin as the two main suspects in the 2018
Salisbury poisoning attempt on the life of defector and former GRU officer, Sergei
Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.
One of the
key masterminds tasked with the Salisbury assassination
attempt, Vladimir Alekseyev, first
deputy head of the GRU, is now responsible for Ukraine intelligence operations. Unlike most members of
the FSB, 61-year-old Vladimir
Alekseyev is a former special forces officer and has
had experience with military operations. In a report published through the
Washington-based Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), Russian security experts, Irina Borogan and Andrei
Soldatov relate fellow officers' descriptions of Alekseyev as being "brutal and
self-confident to the point of recklessness".
appointment as first deputy head of the GRU, Alekseyev has been responsible for
coordinating the military operations in Syria and Donbass. He faces sanctions from
the United States and the European Union, the former for suspected involvement
in Russian interference of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the latter
for the Salisbury poisoning attack.
Service has already listed the Soviet Ukraine-born Alekseyev as a war criminal,
and has announced his personal details, including the location of his Moscow
home. As revealed by his fellow officers, Alekseyev is tasked with gathering information
for missile attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine and monitoring false
referendums from occupied territories.
media in Russia have implied changes in duties of the country's intelligence
agencies. In the TV program "Generals of Victory" aired over the Tsargrad TV
channel last week, Alekseyev was identified as the intelligence commander of the
"special military operations" in Ukraine. Despite being less famous than the FSB,
the GRU has enjoyed advancing status ever since Sergei Shoigu assumed the portfolio of defense minister ten years ago. With the ambition to
extend his briefing role to that concerning Russian foreign policy, Shoigu has
increased the number of the GRU's overseas dealings.
of the GRU has witnessed the FSB suffer the humiliation of falling out of favor.
The latter was accused of intelligence gathering and political incitement in
Ukraine in the few years preceding the Russian invasion. The FSB, however, has had
close ties with Putin. Putin was the FSB's director a year prior to becoming the
Russian president and worked for many years in the agency's predecessor, the
Putin's leadership then, the FSB expanded gradually while overseeing a large
part of Russian life. Areas under its purview included publicity, surveillance,
and border control. Although the FSB was officially the domestic security
department of Russia and resembled the United Kingdom's MI5, the Fifth Service department
as an additional wing to the FSB was established in the late 1990s. As FSB
director, Putin was then responsible for the national development of the former
this year, following a series of setbacks in the early stage of invading Ukraine,
of the Fifth Army, Sergei Beseda was sent to the Lefortovo Prison where Stalin
once imprisoned many of his disgraced aides. Last month, 150 FSB officers were purged
from the ranks of the FSB. Nevertheless, according to Borogan and Soldatov's
CEPA report, the 68-year-old Beseda recently returned to work at the agency's grand
neo-baroque office building, Lubyanka.
says that judging by the appointment of Vladimir Alekseyev, allowing Beseda to
return to his office does not imply that Putin trusts the FSB or Beseda's
service on Ukraine.
"It is the
gung-ho forces within Russia's spy community that are now charged with plucking
victory from the morass of their country's worst military and intelligence
failure since World War II," Boragan and Soldatov further assert in their
operates through integrating information gathering and military actions. It normally
recruits officers from among members of the special forces. Its training regime
includes 14 hours of foreign language learning and rigorous workouts. In recent
years, the agency has also assumed a role in cyber warfare.