An unprecedented number of public statements from Western spies insisting that Russia may be about to launch an invasion of Ukraine are likely to be based more on what analysts thought Moscow was about to do, rather than evidence that it was about to do it, in an information campaign designed to counter the Kremlin’s own narratives, Britain’s former top spy has suggested.
In an interview with the NATO and weapons industry-funded lobby group The Atlantic Council on Wednesday, former British foreign intelligence service chief Sir John Sawers was asked whether he thought Western governments’ publication of declassified material was helpful for countering Russia, or if it might have been planted to diminish the credibility of the officials who ended up releasing it.
“I think, in general, what you point to is the fact that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s Russia has been rather skillful at shaping narratives, at using their arguments and at times their propaganda in order to shape opinion, partly in their own country, but even more so in the West,” Sawers replied.
“I think that what the US administration in particular has been quite adept at in this crisis has been, first of all, corralling the West, coordinating and orchestrating a common Western response,” he continued. “And second of all, not allowing Putin to have it all his own way on the airwaves.”