Praemonitus, Praemunitus –

God keep our Land

[What follows was written before the comments last week. Similarly, next week’s post.]

The West describes Putin as former KGB (aka Chekist). Putin says: “there are no former Chekists.”

A recent publicly-released white paper titled, “Russian Strategic Intentions” takes the position that Putin is pursuing three goals: 1) rebuild the Soviet Union, 2) regain superpower status, and 3) defeat the West.

My summary: The Kremlin is making headway primarily through the use of paramilitary forces and proxies, interference in political processes, economic exploitation, espionage, media manipulation, and the threat of military intervention. Russian civilian institutions and military formations are integrated elements in these operations. Russia has the advantage in espionage and propaganda. The West has the advantage in military strength through NATO – for now. Changing the NATO-Russia military balance is therefore another prong of the Russian attack. Turkey is in NATO. Russia and Turkey are buddies. Putin will support Trump, in part, because Trump is anti-NATO but mostly because he wants an end to the US sanctions on Russia. Many former USSR countries are now NATO members though the Ukraine is not. Russia has not forgotten. The Russian military is rebuilding and avoiding outright military engagement – for now. Cold War 2.0 has already begun, it will continue for the foreseeable future, and the Chekists have a running start. Like Putin said, they never really left the field.

We are already at war and this is what that means for Canada:

Overt Russian proposals to Canada for Arctic cooperation are very likely. A Liberal or NDP government would nurture cooperation – according to their platforms – but a Conservative government would resist – they have said so. Covert Russian efforts in support of Liberal and NDP election success are probable not only to decrease Canada-Russia resistance but also to exacerbate Canada-US differences.

More Russian surface, sub-surface, and airborne incursions in our three oceans are likely. We either respond or we give up the Arctic. Will the US respond? It is a tough decision for them. Treaty versus policy. NORAD versus an open Arctic. Ally versus ally. All to the benefit of Russia – at her minimal cost.

A need for an increased Canadian capability in counterespionage and counterpropaganda. The new Defence Policy enhances our intelligence capability, but I am concerned about the oversight structure, the division of responsibilities, and that our counterespionage capability is both underdeveloped and hampered by legislation. Parliamentary indecision and inaction are probable. Too little, too late.

Significant Russian private sector investment in Canadian manufacturing will be offered.

I predict that Canadians will be slow to recognize, acknowledge, and accept the reality, that there will be bitter political arguments playing upon a peace/war divide, that Parliament will be handicapped, and that the Canadian response will be ineffective. Distractions will include an emphasis on defeating climate change, a false tradition of being peacekeepers not warfighters, and an increased reliance on our unique tri-lateral domestic governance.

All will consume words, time, and money, and none will address the threat. The consequences of global warming are more important than global warming itself. Better warfighters are better peacekeepers. Global geopolitics require a united domestic front.

The new battlespace is Canada, but we will be alone as the only active NATO member on this side of the Atlantic at a time when Europe is facing East. Geographically, we stand between Russia and the USA and we are in their way. They may approach us as friends, but their goal comes only from their self-interest. Meanwhile, China is also in our Arctic and within our borders – making headway without making waves.

An antelope alone on the savannah: “I was just grazing, like normal, and then, when I looked up, the herd was gone … and I got this feeling … you know … like something was looking at me … and, not having any other option, I placed my fate in the hands of my god.”

Stuart Syme

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7 Responses to Praemonitus, Praemunitus –

  1. Gail Blidook says:

    I hope people reading this post will take your warnings of Russia’s interference in our election seriously. I know our government has, with Trudeau, Sajjan, Freeland and Gould, all publicly warning citizens and creating a Federal task force with members from the RCMP, CSIS ( Canadian Security Intelligence Service) and the Communications Security Establishment. In 2017 they passed the “Magnitsky Act” which targets investments of foreign citizens deemed to be guilty of human rights abuses. They have also set up the G7 Rapid Response Unit after Freeland sounded the alarm at a foreign ministers’ gathering in June 2018. They introduced Bill C-76, Elections Modernization Act, and in January 2019 appointed a group of five senior officials: the clerk of Privy Council, the National Security and Intelligence Advisor, and the three Deputy Ministers of Justice, Public Safety and Global Affairs, to counter foreign influence, brief all political parties about potential threats, and alert the public to disruptive and fundamental threats. Russian attacks on our government include attempting to discredit Freeland, our top diplomat, and banning her from Russia after she took a firm stand against corruption and supported the Ukraine. Our government expelled 4 members of Russia’s diplomatic staff who were accused of “using their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy” after the spy poisoning incident, and denied 3 applications for additional Russion diplomats. They also confronted Russia on its unacceptable behaviour and complicity with the Assad regime. Trudeau’s condemnation of some of Putin’s actions have been labeled as confrontational by the Russians.
    I may be wrong, but somehow this does not sound like a government who is just about cooperation, and will not resist a foreign threat. Nor does it sound like one that would in any way accept election interference.

    Publisher: As important as our Arctic is to Canada. As important as security of country and elections is to Canada…….. Do you not believe that this 2019 election will be fought on food and gas prices, security of renting or owning a home, enough money to get educated, to improve our health system, to find ways of lowering the cost of “needed” drugs – (yup 80 percent of prescribed drugs not really needed or effective against a disease, virus, germ, condition etc.) and maybe even a …………job to pay for all of this.

    Okay this a stretch – but ….which male voter would u like to go hunting with Singh, Trudeau, or Scheer?
    Okay this a stretch – which female voter would like to go to dinner with Scheer, Singh or Trudeau?

    In those two questions lies the answer of who will win the election…… call me light headed, call me banal. I get it.

    • Stuart Syme says:

      An apple and an orange. You are right. I contend that I am also right.

      The apple: If you were Russia and you wanted a Liberal government elected would you praise the Liberals or attack them? If you were the Liberals, how do you benefit from Russian election interference other than by making it more difficult – which is even easier to do if it exists?

      The orange: Dear Canadian government. Russia here. Your closest northern neighbour. We have the longest unmlitarized border in the world between us. We should work together in our common interests to study and understand the Arctic, to find and take mutual benefit from the resources found there, to jointly control the northwest passage to ensure our sovereignties. We can be brothers.

    • Gail Blidook says:

      An Informed voter gets the same number of votes as an Uninformed voter. Some will vote for a party, some for a candidate, regardless whether that candidate’s vote will count for much in the House of Commons. Many will vote on the basis of issues that are most important to them. If going hunting or to dinner with the PM is their objective, their vote will still count. Thanks for the laugh, Jack. For those interested, an excellent article from the US: search “Politico Unlike US, Canada plans coordinated attack on foreign election interference”. Stuart, I think this article would answer the question as to how Russia has interfered in other countries and how they try to benefit a particular leader, or to simply target democracy. I believe in this case it is more the latter.

  2. Stuart Syme says:

    Read the paragraph above that begins “My summary: the Kremlin …”. I have just become aware that Russia has acted overtly, publicly, and in a manner that this summary describes, in the US impeachment matter. I should have seen it coming but did not.

    The road to the impeachment enquiry began with a phone call in which Trump asked the Ukrainian President for a favour by investigating the Biden’s (father and son) – which request is in itself a violation of the law [specifically 50 U.S.C. 3033(k)(5)(G)(i)] with or without a quid pro quo. The Trump phalanx that has gathered around him is attempting to deny the existence of a quid pro quo. The pundits unfortunately believe that there was a quid pro quo in the form of military aid in return for the Biden investigation and they have been sucked into arguing. That all being a deflection, the congressional investigators have said correctly that quid pro quo doesn’t matter – but nobody is listening.

    However, the Russians have now told the Ukraine that they must either investigate the Biden’s or return the US military aid. In so many ways, this statement – that has cost Russia nothing – can only help the Russians, regardless whether Ukraine conducts the investigation, regardless of the outcome, regardless whether they return the aid, and is another classic example of how well the Russians operationalize their strategy.

    • Gail Blidook says:

      WOW! Thanks for update, Stuart. Do you have search words for this information about Russia’s threats? Former Ukranian PM, a pro-Russian who fled to Russia and is wanted on charges of embezzlement, is also trying to pressure for Biden investigation. Is this part of same interference? Is withholding crucial military aid to the Ukraine, in exchange for favors, in some way a pro-Russian move by Trump? It seems very suspicious.

    • Stuart Syme says:

      Putin wants to get rid of US sanctions. Trump wants to do that for him.

      Ukraine wants US Javelin missiles (fire-and-forget, top attack, anti-tank). Minimal training. Very effective. Putin doesn’t want Ukraine to have them.

      Putin needs Trump. Trump needs Putin.

      Mueller and US intelligence community said Russia interfered in US election – and will again. Trump doesn’t believe that (publicly) but especially doesn’t want his base to believe it. Putin says Ukraine interfered in US election – not us. Trump sends Guliani to Ukraine. Also he asks Ukraine to investigate. Ditto with a long-ago de-bunked and dismissed allegation about Biden and son in Ukraine. Russia says, good idea.

      What choice does Ukraine have but to cooperate? Except that there is nothing to be found – whether they investigate or not. That will give Trump reason to say, no Javelins. Russia says, thank you.

      All red meat for Trump’s base. All to the benefit of Putin.

    • Stuart Syme says:

      Perhaps I left something out.

      There are two sets of sanctions on Russia. The first set is from US and others for the Russian invasion of Crimea. Those sanctions will be lifted if Russia goes home or if Ukraine negotiates a peace with Russia – that, of course, allows Russia to stay. Trump is pushing Ukraine to negotiate a peace with Russia.

      The second set of sanctions are from the US for Russian interference in the US elections. Trump is pushing Ukraine to investigate and determine that Russia did not interfere. Russia says Ukraine did it.

      Once the sanctions are lifted, Trump will probably be able to get Russia back to the G7 table and make the new G8.

      At that point, Russia will have enjoyed four years of Trump and have unopposed possession of Crimea and be out from under the sanctions and be back at the international table. At that point they can move on to their next target.

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