chapter  9
6 Pages

Invisible people

The ‘warriors of the hidden battlefield’
WithMark Galeotti

Russia’s intelligence agencies are central to the country’s geopolitical campaigns, reflecting both their privileged position within decision-making circles and the essentially wartime mentality they and Vladimir Putin share. In Soviet times, there were essentially only two agencies: the Committee of State Security, handling everything from foreign espionage to domestic security; and the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, responsible for military intelligence. While intelligence-gathering services, they also perform three key roles in terms of more active operations: providing pretexts; creating preconditions; and acting as paralysers. In the age of ‘lawfare’ and information operations, it becomes especially important to create narratives supportive of Russian activities. The intelligence agencies are useful for creating pretexts for operations. The intelligence agencies have a significant role in strategic information operations to paralyse and disrupt those external forces that seek to block Russian moves. Russia’s intelligence services operate on a permanent wartime footing.