The agency of influence belongs to the most effective and most difficult for identifying ways of influencing the enemy. In his environment and in society, the agent of influence is perceived as a loyal citizen. The fact that his views, expressed in private or in public, sometimes coincide with the political line and propaganda efforts of a foreign state, is usually seen as a coincidence. Instead, the damage caused by an agent of influence can be significant, especially if he is a high-ranking official or a recognised authority. The expert group of the publication “Russian Octopus in Action: Case “Ukraine” tells about the special operations and the agency of Russian influence in Ukraine.
Due to the rampant events of the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war and the complete change of leadership in the national security and defence sector, we can draw, albeit evaluative, but not unreasonable conclusions about the high probability of widespread involvement of Russian agents in senior government, as well as bringing Ukraine to an inability to resist aggression.
Operations using the agency of influence belong to the measures of strategic level and are designed for years or even decades because the formation of the collective consciousness of society sometimes requires the extinction of an entire generation. This sends us to three Russian special operations of the strategic level – “Non-alignment,” “Federalisation” and “Democracy.”
The special operation “Non-alignment” was a success in 2010 under the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych, when the law on the principles of domestic and foreign policy was adopted, which proclaimed and consolidated the non-alignment of Ukraine. Based on this, steps were taken to destroy Ukraine’s defence potential and disorganise the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the national security sector.
Long before the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war in Ukraine, the idea of the Russians as a “brotherly people” was formed. A war with it is essentially impossible, primarily because of common values and special relations. Historically, officers who served together in the same military schools, who were friends and even relatives, served in the armies of both states. There was also no psychological readiness to use weapons among the personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the beginning of the violent stage of the conflict. The realisation that the Russian army is an enemy army that destroys Ukrainians came only after direct shooting on units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from the territory of the Russian Federation in the summer of 2014. Therefore, we state that the Russian agents of influence, in this case, have achieved their result.
Also, the escape to Russia of leaders of the defence and security sectors of Yanukovych-era effectively unmasks both their previous activities as direct agents of Russia’s intelligence services and Russia itself. Part of the information about their activities was made public during the trial of former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was convicted in absentia of high treason.
Russian agents, as it was reported in the media, appear as suspects in the criminal case of the shootings on the Maidan. As the shootings on the Maidan in February 2014 became an operation of the FSB to further chaotise Ukraine in order to distract the authorities and society from the beginning of the operation to occupy the Crimea and Sevastopol. For example, in April 2020, the SSU detained the former Head of the SSU Special Operations Center “A,” SSU Major-General V. Shaitanov. His name appeared in two episodes in Kyiv – the arson of the House of Trade Unions and the shootings on the Maidan on 20 February 2014. Shaitanov turned out to be an agent of the FSB of the Russian Federation under the pseudonym “Bobil”. His curator was FSB Colonel Igor Yegorov.
The totality and level of government positions held by the above-mentioned persons allow us to conclude that Russia, in preparing for aggression against Ukraine, created a close one to critical mass of both direct agents and agents of influence, whose activities caused temporary paralysis of power. However, it appeared to be insufficient to subdue Ukraine, and to only to capture part of its territory – the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Sevastopol, part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Author’s group of the publication “Russian Octopus in Action: case “Ukraine” under the direction of Mykhailo Gonchar. Based on the research of the expert group under the auspices of the Center for Global Studies “Strategy XXI” with the support of the International Renaissance Foundation. In the photo, there is an illustration to the publication.