Topics of the Week

Open Letter: The Transatlantic community should take a harder stance on Nord Stream II and undertake further actions to suspend it and deter Russian aggression.

China should be included in the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which would allow the U.S. to impose economic costs on the Chinese government for its human rights abuses.

Kremlin’s Current Narrative: Poland turns the tables on Russia

Good Old Soviet Joke

Q: Will there be KGB in communism?

A: As you know, under communism, the state will be abolished, together with its means of suppression. People will know how to self-arrest themselves.

Policy & Research News

Open Letter:

For the Sake of Transatlantic Security, Stop Nord Stream 2A joint open letter regarding the Nord Stream II pipeline was recently addressed to German Chancellor Angel Merkel. Prague-based European Values Center for Security Policy has contributed to the development and release of the joint letter to call out the German government. The cohort of diplomats, military, and intelligence officials call for halting Kremlin-spearheaded Nord Stream II and highlights the threat of the pipeline, and its potential risk to undermine transatlantic security and unity. This letter was signed by a coalition of intellectuals, reaching 114 signatories so far. They underline that the controversial Nord Stream II project is a Kremlin-serving project and contradicts European values and interests and subverts energy security. Furthermore, the project also undermines the economic and strategic security of Ukraine which has been already destabilised by Russia. Besides, instead of diversifying energy infrastructure, the Gazprom-backed pipeline only reinforces over-reliance on Russian gas supplies.The letter also highlights that the Western coalition’s counter-measures are not sufficient to deter Moscow’s malign activities, such as the recent poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny by Novichok.Finally, the coalition of signatories urges the Governments of the Transatlantic community to take a harder stance on the project and undertake further actions to suspend Nord Stream II and deter Russian aggression.The launch of the anti-Nord-Stream campaign traces back to 2015 when it was first declared that the pipeline project is about to roll out. Some of the Western officials who strongly oppose the Nord Stream II project keep drawing attention to the inevitable geopolitical and energy security implications of the project unless this is entirely stopped.

Former MI6 agent suspected of passing sensitive information to China

The investigation initiated jointly by the UK and Belgian security services revealed that the former British MI6 agent and ex-European Commission officer was recruited by China’s intelligence services to spy for them. 

Fraser Cameron was employed by British Secret Intelligence Service between 1976 and 1991, and also currently runs the EU-Asia Centre think tank. Mr Cameron is under investigation for allegedly collecting and selling sensitive, but not necessarily secretEU-related political and economic information to two agents , posing as ‘Brussels-based journalists’ who also work for the Chinese Ministry of State Security and the Chinese military. The suspect dismisses all the allegations which ‘are without any foundation’ according to him. 

At the moment, it is not clear how the investigation run by Belgium’s federal prosecutors will unfold. The act of espionage, even if proved, might not constitute a breach of Belgian law. Meanwhile, MI5 has issued an ‘espionage alert’ to inform foreign intelligence corpus and governments that Mr Cameron might deem a national security risk. 

The leakage of sensitive information has become a great concern recently since Brussels hosts the headquarters of the EU and NATO. However, Brussels also became a hub for a network of spies and a testing playground for hostile influence operations emanating from China and Russia. This covert intelligence-gathering race has substantially intensified over the last few years. The EEAS estimated that there are ‘about 250 Chinese and 200 Russian spies in the European capital’. In 2018 Belgian diplomat was accused of spying for Russia for over 25 years. Earlier this year, German former EU diplomat came under the spotlight for spying for China, and in May Belgium’s intelligence services exposed Beijing’s spying activities done through Malta’s Embassy in Brussels.  These incidents highlight systemic and large-scale penetration of the Chinese intelligence services into democratic civil societies and their malign and sophisticated attempts to undermine national security will likely only expand.

US Developments

The Hill: It’s time for a Jackson-Vanik Amendment for China

Scott Cullinane, the executive director of the US-Europe Alliance, and Richard Kraemer, president of the board of the US-Europe Alliance and a Senior Fellow at the European Values Center for Security Policy, have called for China to be included in the Jackson-Vanik Amendment to the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, which would allow the U.S. to impose economic costs on the Chinese government for its human rights abuses. China was subject to the amendment until it was removed  by Congress in 2002. The authors cite stories of political persecution which “have multiplied this year, especially in conjunction with the National Security Law” and  “repressive steps by Beijing coupled with heated rhetoric from Washington,” which has led “to talk of a cold war redux” as reasons from again including China in the amendment

How to Combat Russian Disinformation in the U.S. Presidential Election

Research by Columbia University has demonstrated that Kremlin disinformation strategies seek to undermine American democracy and divide society rather than support a single candidate, their goal being to “encourage any force that can add stress to U.S. politics and society.” The author, Dr. Thomas Kent. recommends that Americans “disregard the unfortunate claims from both parties that unless they win, the election will have been rigged” and ” focus not on negative ads, which all sides are adept at, but on ads and news coverage about what each candidate would do if elected.”

Kremlin’s Current Narrative

Poland turns the tables on Russia: everything new is well-forgotten old

Poland has been in the news quite often in the last couple of months, be it because of the re-election of the conservative-nationalist president Andrzej Duda and silent or not very silent protests following it; or because of the alleged Polish interests in Belarus unveiled by Kremlin. For example, according to RT, both Warsaw and Washington dream of restoring the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, “from one sea to another”, thus hoping for Belarus to “fall”.

However, the latest news concerns the resurfacing of the 2010 Polish plane crash that happened during landing at the Russian airport of Smolensk. Polish prosecutors have requested the temporary arrest of three Russian dispatchers that were working on the day of the accident that resulted in the death of the Polish president Lech Kaczyński and 95 more people. Kremlin’s reaction was unfavorable, to say the least.

“Poland wants a lot: the hyena of Europe confirms her reputation”, such was the title of the recent article by RIA News, accusing Poland of fueling the fire of the worsening relations between Russia and Europe.

Russian media have repeatedly called the renewed investigations politically engaged. Still recently, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, called the actions for the arrest of the dispatchers a “russophobic hysteria” or “cave-time russophobia”. Their amoral speculations aim simply to consolidate the Polish electorate. He added that Warsaw is trying to drive the relations with Russia “to the bottom”, and they are already at a “disgusting level”. 

RT reports that the press-secretary of the Polish prosecutor’s office accused the dispatchers of “deliberately provoking a plane crash that resulted in the death of many people”. Nevertheless, the Russian investigation had shown that the main cause of the accident was unpreparedness and a mistake of the crew

Kremlin asked Poland to “stop the show” and officially claimed that the extradition of the dispatchers is simply impossible by law. And yet RIA News author suggests that suspects could easily be arrested during a vacation in some “third country”.

Currently proposed “anti-Russian” European policies suggesting sanctions for to the Navalny case, are already “in blatant conflict with the diplomatic etiquette and code of practice of the international relations”, according to RT. They are even intruding Russian domestic affairs and don’t know their limits anymore, RIA News claims, and that’s why Poland decided that she can do “anything she wants”, in the meantime accusing Russia of sticking to her “imperial vision”.

Kremlin Watch is a strategic program of the European Values Center for Security Policy, which aims to expose and confront instruments of Russian influence and disinformation operations focused against the liberal-democratic system.