Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yea, but they were Polish spies…

Interesting happenstance out here this last week. The BHTimes covered several news agencies in their reporting on a story of five Polish spies being captured in a KGB sting operation. The spies apparently were gathering information about the logistics and whereabouts of the joint Russian/Belarusian S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense system.

The key agent was former serviceman of Belarusian air defense forces Vladimir Russkin. He was caught trying to get the collected data, photos of secret documentation of air forces and air defense troops changed to digitized data, and saved to flash memory sticks, across the border. The memory stickes were stashed inside a fire extinguisher.

Russkin claimed he was enlisted by the Poles after being caught trying to carry vodka acress the border. He had been allegedly carrying five times the legal amount and when faced with the choise of either being disallowed to cross the border for five years and losing his car or betraying his country by passing military secrets, he chose the latter. He then enlisted the help of Major Viktor Bogdan, chief intelligence officer of a Belarusian air defense missile brigade, radio-radar brigade servicemen Kornelyuk and Petkevich, and Russian army officer Yurenia [their first names are not mentioned]. The article never says whether or not these guys were also in the contraband vodka business.

Later in the article it is said that in addition to Russkin's confession, members of the group had been vidiotaped meeting with Polish embassy personnel in Minsk. Portions of the tapes already have been aired on Belarus' state- run television channel. The criminal case which has been opened carries, should they be convicted (Think: Kazulin) carries a fifteen year maximum sentence. Should there be any loss of life do to the information which had been passed, the penelty is death. The Poles have refused to comment.

Now, what I would like to ask at this point is simple: Do you believe this story? I say there is no way that either Russkin's story or this story in general holds water.

Now first of all, if Russkin is retired, how did he have access to such types of information in the first place? And what about security clearance? Do the Belarusians and Russians really make it a habit of leaving the doors unlocked to classified data rooms? And for that matter, are they saying that the technical information about a half billion dollar missile system is still being kept in manila file folders like it was still the 1950's and not in encrypted files with about 15 fail-safe, anti-hacker systems which might straight away either deter entrance or at least point out the location and isp address of the user at the moment those files are open?

Secondly, If anything, and this is if this story is even real, maybe Russkin had been dragging secrets all along- possibly having hid them in the vodka from the beginning. This of course would mean that there are gaping security holes on the Belarusian side. And this is possible but it makes me very nervous because top secret military breaches means hightened tensions and this, when speaking of missiles, is exactly what we do not want. THESE PEOPLE YOU WANT CALM. But getting picked up for transporting a couple of gallons of vodka and having this lead to being extorted into espionage makes no sense at all. First of all the Poles would have already known who the man is, and if this is the case, then these border crossings would probably have been part of the game. But if this was the case, why go through the charade of getting busted? Wouldn't that just draw the attention of the Belarusians? I mean, yes, the Poles do make a habit of extortion anything they can get from foreign guests, anyone who reads this blog knows this already. But if are you trying to tell me hat the guy would risk loss of freedom for the remainder of his natural life because of the value of a car and a couple of crates of $2 vodka, I don't buy a word of it.

A more likely side of this situation might be that these five capable guys were working for the Russians all along. The whole business of letting himself get tagged by the EU was just the first contact.

"Listen tovarish," Russkin tells the border cops, "I have a high security clearance and I want lots of money. Interested in some info about the s-300's?"

Rather than actually doing any real spying, Russkin and crew went through the motions and transported fake information across the border. All of their contact people were identified and a whole group of espionage people on the other side have now been outed. I mean, was it Ruskin and his people getting filmed speaking to the Polish embassy people, or was it the Polish embassy people getting filmed talking to Ruskin?

What do you think of that scenario? I like it. In fact, I think that all things considered, a group of ex cold warriors would just as soon take an extended pension and houses on the lake than turning over on their friends. At least I would like to think that this is what happened.

So I won't kid you: I have no idea what this nonsense is all about except that it is very weird. Possibly it is just a little scandal played against the Polish embassy in the hopes of evicting them form the country. Hopefully this is simply a propaganda ploy to both bring attention to Belarus' and their potential roll as defender of Mother Russia and to send a shock wave through Russophobic westerners. But taking things seriously, there is a real possibility that we are being shown images indicating that the first muffled shots of the next cold (and potentially hot) war are not far away. And if this is true, I am really not happy.

I think the best thing that could happen from all of this would be that Mr. George Bush would start to take Russia's stance on the missile shield issue a little more seriously. I say that if the Russians say they don't want missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic, I think that this means that Russia does not want there to be missiles in Poland in the Czech Republic. And, when a country controls about 30% of the energy resources of the world AND has a first, second and third strike capability says that they don't like something, I think it is a reasonable and prudent thing to listen to them.

And really, in the end I think that this is what a lot of this BS from over here is all about: We have to listen to what they have to say. It's the only way. We have to. We really do.

More soon…