This issue of Diplomaatia focuses mainly on Russia. There is an interview with Russian intelligence expert Andrei Soldatov, according to whom President Vladimir Putin is completely dependent on information provided by the FSB, the Russian Security Service.
“In a way, he is a hostage of the FSB’s information, for he must believe what they report to him,” Soldatov explains. “His belief in the truthfulness of everything reported is helped along by his mentality. Put bluntly, if the FSB reports that it was the CIA who organised the Maidan events, he believes it since he has been taught to do so his entire life.”
Diplomaatia also publishes in full the article by Ben Judah on Putin’s daily routine that was first published by Newsweek in August and made headlines around the world.
Security expert Richard Weitz writes on hybrid Russian threats. Weitz explains that “In recent years, Russian policymakers have skilfully mixed military and non-military tactics to achieve geopolitical gains at the expense of the United States and its partners and allies. Recent Russian aggression against the country’s neighbours has involved cyber attacks, information operations, psychological pressure, media manipulation, economic threats, proxy actions, sophisticated propaganda, exploitation of ethnic strife, and courting deliberate and accidental agents of influence in foreign countries through influence-buying and framing issues in attractive ways to sympathetic audiences. While these tactics do not cause significant harm individually, when combined they can weaken a country and prime it for invasion or insurrection.”
The Estonian scholar Martti Kalda describes the latest developments of Maoism. According to him Maoism is not dead, but supported strongly by China. “China still regards Maoism as its main ideology and distributes weapons to Maoists in Nepal and India, and offers financial and moral support, having, by South Asian standards, almost unlimited economic means for doing so. The most unpleasant aspect is that China does this non-stop and in secret, while trying to appear a normal country with Western values,” Kalda writes.
ICDS researcher Kalev Stoicescu warns about Russia’s next steps: “Putin might also be tempted to organise something dirty in the Baltic States—something that would not constitute a breach of NATO’s Article 5, but would destabilise and discredit these countries together with NATO and the European Union so that attention would be focused elsewhere than Ukraine”.