“…We also see the recent serious flare-up in southeast Ukraine. This escalation pursues the clear aim of preventing the Minsk Agreements from going ahead. The current Ukrainian authorities are obviously not seeking a peaceful solution to this very complex problem and have decided to opt for the use of force instead. What is more, they speak openly about organising sabotage and terrorism, particularly in Russia. Obviously, this is a matter of great concern…”
Vladimir Putin’s speech at meeting of Federal Security Service Board, February 16, 2017
From Fort Russ
February 18, 2017 – Fort Russ –
Rostislav Ishchenko, RIA Analytics
– translated by J. Arnoldski –
On Thursday, February 16th, at the annual meeting of the Collegium of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), Vladimir Putin drew particular attention to the situation in South-East Ukraine. According to the president, Ukrainian authorities are deliberately aggravating the situation in the conflict zone in Donbass in order to disrupt the Minsk Agreements and are betting on a military solution to the problem.
The head of state also emphasized that the Kiev authorities “are openly speaking of the organization of sabotage and terroristic, subversive work, including in Russia.”
A signal to the West
It is clear that anti-terrorist and counter-intelligence work lies at the heart of the FSB’s operations. But it is also clear that such statements by the president, by being made public, were aimed primarily at an external audience.
After all, the FSB leadership can be instructed in secret. Moreover, no one doubts that since the very beginning of the civil war in Ukraine, the FSB has followed attempts to spill the war over into Russian territory. Since 2014, the press has periodically been given information on the arrest of both Ukrainian and Russian citizens caught trying to conduct intelligence reconnaissance on the territory of Russia in the interests of Kiev, as well as prepare terrorist attacks.
Thus, the president’s statement was intended not for a Russian, but for a foreign audience. But this audience is not Ukrainian. If there was a desire to appeal to the Ukrainian government, then this would be done through diplomatic channels. And this statement is also not a threat of military response to Ukrainian provocations. Otherwise it would have been made at the collegium of the Ministry of Defense of Security Council.
The choice of place and format for this statement clearly indicates that it is a signal sent to our Western partners.
The FSB has great capacity for conducting counter-terrorist operations. It should be noted that preventative actions against terrorists and their masterminds are one of the main work components of the FSB not necessarily limited to Russian territory.
Sure, their operations on the territory of another state are limited by stringent conditions. In order for preventative counter-terrorism measures on a foreign territory to be justified from the point of view of international law, the concerned state must either be in a state of war or have suffered an unprovoked attack.
There is yet another scenario which is enshrined at the level of the UN Security Council: the loss by an acting government of control over territory from which terrorist activities are being conducted. This scenario is not relevant in this case, however, insofar as the international community does not consider the Kiev government to be incapable of controlling the situation on the territory of Ukraine.
Yet to this day Kiev has explained away all sorts of provocations against Russia, including bloody ones (in Crimea) as the independent initiatives of individuals and refused to recognize their belonging to Ukraine’s security agencies. Russia’s reaction, however, has been limited to diplomatic protests, documenting the facts of provocations, collecting evidence on the involvement of Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR), SBU, and General Staff in them, and presenting these reports to relevant international organizations.
Apparently, a critical mass of facts has been collected and a second aspect – international law – is now going to be activated.