Anonymous Russian FSB Letters Reveal Internal Turmoil in the Kremlin – Part 2
By: Sydney Johnson
In the agent’s second letter to Oschekin, there is more anxiety about the war and the Kremlin’s strategy. People in the special services who work on field operations are no longer allowed to return to ordinary life, with the agent detailing, “They will no longer be able to jump out into ordinary life – the system does not provide such a turn. ‘There’ we can be dangerous,” meaning there is internal concern that these operatives would leave their position and reveal the Kremlin’s weaknesses to the world, which would be used against Russia. When creating various simulations for occurrences that would happen in the war, the Russian intelligence analysts found several failures in plans proposed by the Kremlin. When presenting the failed ideas to leadership, they stated the model, and the intelligence analysts were “too defeatist” and said the failures cast shadows in the leadership.
At the time of the letter, the war had been going on for eight days. In the letter, the agent says, “I can confirm right away that the situation is out of control,” since all forces were told to “ensure the stability of all processes for 3-5 days.” The military was given a timeline to successfully stabilize its position and control, yet “These 3-5 days have passed. It got worse, only the approach does not change.” With the failure of the timeline expectations, the Kremlin and Russian military have “flown from anti-crisis management into crisis management. To be honest, we just went into disaster mode.”
As tensions within the Kremlin grow and the war efforts become questionable with the loss of support and resources, “everyone is looking for enemies and saboteurs, everyone is saving the country from the inside,” writes Oschekin’s confidential source, “Many of our people also believe that ‘now is necessary to be tough with enemies,’ and everyone can become enemies. This is psychosis against the background of professional deformation. This is a moral shift. Irreversible.” The impact of initial reaction to no immediate surrender from the Ukrainian forces has split the Kremlin and has them turning their backs on one another. Nationalism among the decision makers and operatives have pushed to the point of lawlessness according to the agent, “because ‘for the sake of your country’ you can shoot the legs of a suspicious person and you can be shot for refusing to bow to a military man.” Despite the war, the main issue leadership and the Russian government is the amount of chaos and uncertainty. Their original plan of a swift invasion of Ukraine went out the window after less than a week and there was no backup plan, aside from continuously changing course with strategies that did not make sense.
Within the strategies Russian intelligence used for predictions, the letters revealed several limitations on the reliability of official government information including what is happening in Russian regions, the state of various army units, military prospects of the operation, loyalty in the financial and political elites in the country, and the development of economic management with the impact of sanctions. On the other hand, Russian intelligence strategies did have a constant stream of new data on emerging economic problems that are unrelated to the failures in the supply chain, data on expected growth of crime and banditry with “increasing economic problems and a decrease in the mental stability of the population from stress, military psychosis, and accumulated nervous state from isolation measures,” situational planning of internal politics without calculating the long-term prospects, and the growth of foreign policy threats, including military ones. Admittedly, the agent disclosed, “I have no global forecast, except for the old one: by May-June we will not have what to fight, who to fight, and how to support it all. But the turning point will be in the coming days. I suspect in a bad way for us,” and “I do not think that we will avoid the terrible, but it is worth at least softening the hell that begins.”
This letter revealed the military and political issues that happened when the Kremlin realized it could not take over Ukraine in less than a week. The technology used to generate models and predictions about the different outcomes even gave Russia a minimal chance of achieving a successful take over when considering different strategies. In addition to the military projections failing, the agent acknowledges the conflict will end bad for Russia. However, they do not expand on the prediction of what the ending will be. The final letter uncovers how others, within the Kremlin, view Putin and his fight to be remembered.
Look out for part 3.
Please note: Quotes used are translated from Russian into English.