The XX Committee

“Special War” Goes Mainstream

One of the main missions of this blog is spreading the idea that intelligence matters in the real world, and that a lot of important activities involve covert action that is anything but transparent; many media types, unacquainted with such dark arts, are skeptical of these notions, however, and sometimes this is a hard sell. One upside to the Ukraine crisis is that it’s brought some of these usually secret shenanigans into a bit of sunlight before the world.

For months I’ve been explaining that this all amounts to what I term Special War, and it’s something important that the Russians excel at across the board; regrettably, the United States does not. Ukraine is a realtime laboratory for the whole range of Moscow’s Special War activities, especially provocation. Slowly, the Mainstream Media is starting to notice.

Today’s New York Times has a good article explaining how Russian intelligence, specifically GRU, the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff, is pulling the strings in Eastern Ukraine, employing special operators to cause mayhem and weaken Kyiv’s already flagging grip on the region. Of course, I’ve been telling you this for weeks, but it’s nice to see the MSM take notice, particluarly when they cite….me:

But masking the identity of its forces, and clouding the possibilities for international denunciation, is a central part of the Russian strategy, developed over years of conflict in the former Soviet sphere, Ukrainian and American officials say.

John R. Schindler, a former National Security Agency counterintelligence officer who now teaches at the Naval War College, calls it “special war”: “an amalgam of espionage, subversion, even forms of terrorism to attain political ends without actually going to war in any conventional sense.”

And one country, Mr. Schindler noted in an article last year in which he coined the term, that particularly excels at special war is Russia, which carried out its first post-Soviet war to regain control of rebellious Chechnya back in 1994 by sending in a column of armored vehicles filled with Russian soldiers masquerading as pro-Moscow Chechens.

That’s good to see. As Ron Burgundy might say: “I’m very important. I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” Hey, it’s a start. We can’t have a real public debate about Ukraine – and Putin’s nefarious actions more generally – until people understand what’s actually happening. I’ll be reporting on the next stages of the Kremlin’s Special War for Ukraine as they unfold…watch this space.


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