Is Poland Next?


 


 

Topics Covered This Week:

  • Russia-Ukraine Update

  • Hypersonic Missiles Used in Ukraine

  • Russian Hacking Effort

  • Is Poland Next?

  • Belarus Makes Stance Known

  • 10 Commandments of Propaganda

  • Italy Stands with Ukraine

  • Israel and Iran Continue to Fight

  • History's Mysteries: Sonja Shultz

 

Russia-Ukraine Update:

What is the Russia Ukraine Update?

Several Ukrainian media outlets claim that Ukrainian forces launched a counter--offensive near Kyiv and have surrounded Russian soldiers in Bucha and Hostomel. This counter--offensive has not been confirmed, but Russia remains stalled miles from the capital city. The situation in Mariupol remains tense. Russian forces have completely surrounded the major city.

What is the importance of Mariupol?


It is a strategic port city in the sea of Azov. It normally skews pro--Russian, however, the city has been pushing back against Russian forces. While Mariupol is a very important city in Ukraine, it is not on the scale of Kyiv. It would be a devastating loss if Russia is successful in taking over that city. The longer this war plays out, the more it benefits Russia. That may seem counterintuitive due to the amount of sanctions happening right now, but Russia has options and allies to help continue this fight. Ukraine is finding out their allies are not all in on engaging in an armed conflict with Russia in order to save Ukraine.

 

Hypersonic Missiles Used in Ukraine:


Can you explain if the recent use of hypersonic weapons will change the minds of the leaders of NATO and the US?

That is an interesting question. In 2021, U.S. intelligence and military leaders stated that the use of hypersonic weapons on the battle field would be a game changer. Now that Russia has deployed a hypersonic missile, the U.S. military is trying to walk back that statement. The Secretary of Defense Austin stated the Department of Defense is not worried about Putin’s use of hypersonic missiles in Ukraine.

They are not worried, but are you worried?

Very worried. War has brought the development of new killing vessels since the beginning of time. From stone blades, to gunpowder, to the use of nuclear weapons, the global arms race has always played a deciding factor in the outcome of wars. Usually, the country that develops or gains access to new, more advanced weapons technology holds the upper hand during war. This was the case for all of the Cold War with Russia. Both the U.S. and Russia had developed advanced nuclear weapons. This was a game changer at the time and probably still is today. It could possibly be the basis for the lack of military support to Ukraine. The fact that none of us can be assured Putin will not use nuclear weapons if Russia's military campaign looks to be completely defeated, is very concerning.

Also, I do think they are worried, but they want to calm the fears of the American people by not expressing that concern outwardly.

 

Russian Hacking Effort:


Are there any cyber concerns coming from Russia?

There certainly are. This week, senior White House cybersecurity officials said that U.S. companies that provide critical infrastructure should improve their cyber defensive posture because of ongoing digital threats from Russia. The U.S. government has already seen that Russia is indeed preparing hacking activity aimed at numerous U.S. companies.

Any details on what those preparatory hacking activities have involved?

Hackers associated with Russian internet addresses have been scanning the networks of five U.S. energy companies. This would be the prelude for an attack on critical energy infrastructure in the U.S. This is coming at a time when the U.S. infrastructure has needed critical updates, and the deadlock in D.C. has made it difficult to agree on how to fix it.

The White House has said these Russian hacker scans were likely "not about espionage, it's probably very likely about disruptive or destructive cyber activity." That could be devastating to a population dealing with dozens of crises like supply chain issues, rapid inflation, and the cost of 20+ years at war.

 

Is Poland Next?


Are you still confident that the next countries Russia will invade will be Moldova and Poland?

Yes. Especially in regards to Poland. Poland ordered the expulsion of 45 Russians whom the government identified as intelligence officers using their diplomatic status as cover to operate in the country. On the heels of that news, open source intelligence reports made mention of multiple clouds of smoke at the Russian embassy in Poland. It was believed those Russian officials were burning massive amounts of documents before officially being expelled.

What is the significance of them burning documents?

It means there are documents that the staff at the Russian embassy in Poland do not want the Polish government to have access to. Also, this was the precursor to the invasion of Ukraine. Let me give these officials the benefit of the doubt. At the very least, I need to clear up what their intentions are. Every single country’s embassy has classified documents safely stored in a secure location within the embassy. Every country, upon hearing staff from the embassy will be expelled, will make classified digital copies, then shred and burn all the documents before leaving.

 

Belarus Makes Stance Known:

What would be the tipping point where you think Russia will decide to invade Poland?

That actually segues nicely into the next topic I wanted to get into, and that is the actions Belarus is taking. So far, Belarus has played a hands--off approach within Ukraine while being vocal they support Putin and his “special military operation." Now, The U.S. and NATO believe that Belarus could soon join Russia in its war against Ukraine, and that the country is already taking steps to do so.


Just last month, Belarus moved to change its constitution to allow the country to host both Russian forces and nuclear weapons permanently. At this time, there have been no indications that Belarus is currently participating in the fighting in Ukraine. Entrance into the conflict would be a huge geopolitical shift. Belarus’ entry would indicate to Poland that Russia is ready to go all out in a war on Europe. Belarus’ exiled opposition leader said this week, "The invasion of Ukraine by the Belarusian army is a step with irreversible ramifications. It would be a shameful stain on relations with the Ukrainian people and would further isolate Belarus from the rest of the world, right up to the Iron Curtain, behind which Belarus would not be seen as an independent state, and life in the country would descend into poverty."

Does Belarus get involved?

They do not have the option to stay out of this. The government has aligned itself with Putin. However, it seems the Belarussian people are opposed to getting into the conflict. Railway workers staged a sabotage effort of railroads being used to resupply Russian troops. Also, Belarusian hackers have hacked the railway systems to delay those supplies. Earlier this month Belarusian Major General Viktor Gulevich reportedly resigned as Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy Minister of Defense. He refused to organize Belarusian troops to participate in the hostilities committed by the Russian forces in Ukraine.

 

Ten Commandments of Propoganda:

Do you think we should switch gears and discuss misinformation and propaganda?

Let's dive into this. It was U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson who said, “When war is declared, truth is the first casualty.” He also made mention of how false narratives are fundamental to warfare.

We are seeing that play out, for sure, with Russia and Ukraine.

Exactly. I am glad you mentioned both countries because both are playing the misinformation game in order to win hearts and minds. At the very least they want to make the other country look less effective than they really are.

I want to discuss Belgian historian Anne Morelli’s Ten Commandments of Propaganda and see if you see any parallels to these and what Russia and Ukraine are doing.

  1. We do not want war. We are only defending ourselves.

  2. Our adversary is solely responsible for this war.

  3. Our adversary’s leader is inherently evil and resembles the devil.

  4. We are defending a noble cause-- not our particular interests.

  5. The enemy is purposefully committing atrocities. However, if we are making mistakes, this happens without intention.

  6. The enemy makes use of illegal weapons.

  7. We suffer few losses while the enemy’s losses are considerable.

  8. Recognized intellectuals and artists support our cause.

  9. Our cause is sacred.

  10. Whoever puts doubt on our propaganda helps the enemy and is a traitor.

 

Italy Stands with Ukraine:


Do you want to get back in to what countries in Europe are doing to help Ukraine?

I sure do. An interesting country has come out and asked for the EU to accept Ukraine. That country was not France or Germany. It was Italy.

What is Italy’s concern?


Italy sees the writing on the wall. This conflict will not be isolated to just Ukraine and former Soviet Bloc countries. The Italian Prime minister said this following a speech by Ukrainian President Zelensky: "Today, Ukraine does not just defend itself. It defends our peace, our freedom, our security. It defends that multilateral order based on rules and rights that we have painstakingly built up since the war."

Why would the EU be hesitant to add Ukraine to the European Union?

It is no secret that Ukraine suffers from an image of corruption. Many local leaders have used their status and power to line the pockets of business partners and increase funding for their own businesses. There are numerous cases of voter fraud within the country as well. Bribery is prevalent in universities. These are all causes for concern. Ukraine sits as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. They have a corruption index rating of 32 on a scale from 1-99 where one is the most corrupt and 99 is the least corrupt. By contrast, Russia sits at a rating of 29. That is not far from Ukraine’s rating of 32.


Is this being used by pro-Russian media to justify Russia's invasion of Ukraine?

It definitely is being used. I want to caution against anyone thinking that Russia was validated in their invasion because Ukraine is a corrupt country in need of a change in government. These are things I am seeing being said in our own country. And some political leaders are trying to use the corruption in Ukraine to demand the U.S. remain isolated and out of this war.

My only advice for those people is the age-old statement: Two wrongs do not make a right. If Putin continues to advance in Europe, the U.S. will be forced to engage in another armed conflict. This is not a pro-war message. It is just a statement of fact.

 

Isreal and Iran Continue to Fight:


Do you have an update on the conflict between Iran and Isreal?

This week, a high-ranking Iranian general warned that Iran would take immediate action if Israel kills any of its soldiers. Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami spoke directly to the people in Iran when he said, “In recent weeks you have seen how Zionists are always wrong in their calculations and have been targeted by Revolutionary Guard missiles. We are warning them that they should cease their mischief or we will bury them alive.” These statements come after the missile attack near a U.S. base in Irbil, Iraq, that Iranian officials claim were targeting Israeli military sites.

Do you see a solution to this conflict?

Well, thousands of years of conflict in the region would say that there will never be a solution, but we don’t like to use that NEVER word here. As a self-described solutions person, it is a good question to unpack.

First, Iran needs to be isolated. That will be harmful to the people of Iran in the short term, but much like Putin, Iran’s leadership is not looking to negotiate. Their intentions are to have the western world capitulate to their demands in order to gain the upper hand in the region.

Many Arab countries signed the Abraham Accords, which was a key document in normalizing relations between the U.S., Israel, and multiple Arab nations in the Middle East. It was a clear sign that not just Israel is afraid of a nuclear enabled Iran.

Next, I would tell every Western nation to remove themselves from the Iran Nuclear deal. Iran is not negotiating in good faith, and right now they are stalling until they get far enough along with nuclear developments that an agreement to stop weapons development will mean little in the advancement of nuclear munitions in Iran. If Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons, that will be a game changer for the Middle East.

So, the update is that conflict continues in the region?

Unfortunately, yes. That is the update.

 

History's Mysteries: Sonja Schulz

This week we continue our discussion on the great women of the intelligence community. Ursula Kuczynski, also known as Sonja Schultz, was a German Communist activist who spied for the Soviet Union in the 1930s and 1940s. She was most famously known as the handler of nuclear scientist Klaus Fuchs.

Between 1938 and 1940, she was based in Switzerland with her husband Rudolph Hamburger. Her duties included working as a specialist radio operator. She applied technical skills acquired during her Moscow visits earlier in the decade. The codes she used to send information to Moscow from her house, a three-hour walk up into the mountains, to this day, never been deciphered. After the Nazi take-over of Danzig in 1939, she set up a highly successful resistance group in the city.

She then divorced her husband. He had soured on the Soviet Union that was led by Stalin, and married a Soviet British national, thus gaining a British passport. Due to her work within England, she was able to provide information on nuclear development to the previously mentioned Soviet scientist Klaus Fuchs. This information lead to the swift development of nuclear power in the soviet union.

Since 1989, more information has become available concerning at least some of her espionage achievements, and appreciation of her abilities has grown. One historian who had studied her career said she was, "one of the top spies ever produced by the Soviet Union, and her penetration of Britain's secrets and MI5 possibly went far deeper than was thought at the time she was operational." While we may consider her an adversary due to her work in Soviet intelligence, it is key that we note she was an integral part of the war effort against Hitler and his Nazi party.

 

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