By Chris Simmons
Over the last several weeks, “pro-Russian” forces – presumably including disguised Russian government personnel – have seized numerous Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) buildings.
But what is their goal? Why would they attack Kiev’s intelligence service? A display of strength? Perhaps. Seizing weapons? Undoubtedly, but as a lesser mission. I suspect that perhaps Moscow seeks to indirectly defeat the Ukraine by obliterating its primary spy service.
In capturing these facilities, the masked Russian personnel and their allies now presumably have the personnel and security files of SSU personnel, as well as family photos, contact information, etc. Additionally, the Russian “separatists” have already shown their propensity for anonymity (i.e., “unmarked uniforms, masks, etc). Such secrecy helps create a baseline of fear. As tensions escalate, the environment becomes ripe for terror attacks.
Students of irregular warfare (previously called “guerrilla warfare”) know insurgents maximize their strength and minimize their risks by attacking where an enemy is weak or vulnerable. Another tenet of this type of warfare is the adage, “Kill one, terrorize a thousand.”
Moscow does not want to engage the SSU directly – and now it doesn’t have to. It can incite panic by unleashing a reign of terror against the families of SSU officers. Such an effort could be as simple as kidnapping the loved ones of a few of its personnel. Russia would follow these acts with a well choreographed media campaign to convince the 4000 SSU members that their families are next. Bear in mind that to be effective, a terror threat need not be real — but merely perceived as credible.
People will always follow the 1st Rule of Human Nature – self interest. If Moscow successfully creates an environment of fear so pervasive that SSU members are forced to choose between their families and their nation – the Ukraine is doomed.