After the wholesale expulsion of its agents who had been operating under diplomatic cover, Russian intelligence in Europe is experiencing a severe crisis (750 people).
Fewer frequent interactions with the assets result in operations being less effective, exposing Russian spies, and ultimately exposing active influence activities. However, the Russians have lacked imagination and their pranks have become increasingly simple, being started from the headquarters in Moscow rather by the “rezidenturas” on the ground.
The data shows that Russia’s military intelligence today oversees the majority of influence operations in Europe rather than the SVR foreign intelligence organization, whose presence has decreased, probably as a result of the decline in Mr. Naryshkin’s political power.
Meanwhile, his most recent public comments imply that he directly participates in some influence activities, which raises the possibility of a lack of operational resources.
Romanian senator Diana Iovanovici Șoșoacă, who introduced a bill on the annexation of Northern Bukovina, a portion of the Chernivtsi region, Bessarabia, and Snake Island, is a participant in the most recent operation by Russian military intelligence. She suggests rescinding the 1997 Treaty on friendly relations and giving Romania back its “historical lands.”
That the by Soșoacă rhetoric was inspired by the Kremlin is obvious, and the operation itself is rife with numerous inconsistencies, a consequence of the fact that the SVR’s functions have been transferred to military intelligence. Since 2014, the latter has operated too primitively in Europe, failing to adequately conceal its involvement.
According to the assessment, the operation involving Șoșoacă is a mere copy of the media spin launched by the head of the SVR regarding Poland’s alleged plans to annex parts of western Ukraine.
Senator Șoșoacă’s attempt to provoke is likely part of a multi-faceted operation whose next step should be to justify Russian aggression against Ukraine. Thus, according to Șoșoacă, her bill is based on the “natural and legitimate right to national unity”. This thesis echoes the Kremlin’s narrative on the grounds and legitimacy of claims to Ukrainian territory. However, the Șoșoacă initiative paves the way for Hungary’s territorial claims to Sekeli Land, which Hungary regards as part of its cultural space.
Șoșoacă has previously been repeatedly seen engaging in disinfo propaganda carried out by Russian military intelligence. For instance, she claimed that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky asked NATO to become directly involved in the war, taking advantage of Moscow’s false statements about its readiness to attack its neighbours in the West.
In Romania, Șoșoacă was accused of ties with the Sputnik platform, which is linked to Russian military intelligence and is used to carry out covert operations and meddling stunts in the countries where its correspondents live. The platform named her “Romania’s politician of the year in 2021”, which may indicate the Kremlin’s interest in the senator’s political career. In March 2022, Șoșoacă and three members of parliament met with the Russian ambassador in Bucharest to discuss Romania’s position on the Russian invasion. There was no agreement to the meeting from the Romanian parliamentary leadership. One of the MPs, Dumitru Coarnae, was later expelled from the PSD party.
Șoșoacă is particularly well-known for her arguments that Romania should leave the EU, that NATO soldiers should not be stationed there, and for her opposition to COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, she has emerged as one of the leading characters in Romania’s anti-vax movement. The relationship between senator Șoșoacă and the Russian military intelligence, which was primarily responsible for the undermining of trustful of Western vaccines and government initiatives to limit the pandemic, is further supported by this fact.