With the Russian invasion of Ukraine entering its sixth month, a radical transformation has taken place in the Kremlin’s “security bureaucracy” by “activating the Federal Security Service” to go after Russian opponents of the war and those in need of the invasion , to arrest in a return. to the police state Russia saw during the Soviet era.
The FSB, the “closest agency” to Russian President Vladimir Putin, was primarily relied on to draw up “quick invasion plans for Ukraine” that later falter, according to a report in Foreign Affairs.
With the “rapid invasion” plans faltering, Putin reformulated the tasks assigned to the service, to become “more comprehensive”, to be at the forefront of Russia’s domestic security efforts and its intelligence operations in the to be Ukraine.
Through its various branches, the agency manages “new crackdowns in Russia,” targeting Ukrainian soldiers inside and outside Ukraine, and recruiting “Ukrainian agents,” which State Department describes as a transformation with profound implications for the nature of Putin’s rule.
Strategic security shift
According to the magazine, the apparatus under Putin has changed from a resemblance to its Soviet predecessor, the KGB, to a new version of the notorious secret police under Joseph Stalin, called the “People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs” (NKVD).
That Soviet apparatus carried out the great purges of the 1930s and imposed an iron curtain on Russian society during the early years of the Cold War, according to the magazine.
Before the Russian invasion, the FSB limited itself to spying on journalists and dissidents critical of the government and encouraging them to leave the country.
But in the aftermath of the war, the FSB visited families of Russian exiles to deliver the message that “the Russian government is ready to welcome back the exiles.”
Thus, the agency’s strategy shifted from “forcing opponents to leave the country” to “keeping them under close surveillance in Russia,” an approach last used by the Kremlin during the early stages of the Cold War. according to Foreign Affairs.
More fierce and aggressive
According to an analysis by the Center for European Policy Analysis, Putin is using increasingly hardline tactics to “target his potential opponents” via the Federal Security Service.
The Federal Security Office has become bolder in its pursuit of those who have been in exile for a long time, through “accusations of spreading fake news about the war, freezing some bank accounts and issuing international warrants for the arrest of some of them and their extradition to Russia”, with the aim of increasing pressure on their family members living inside Russia, According to “Foreign Affairs”.
The security apparatus has become more “vicious and aggressive” with scientists, lawyers and other Russians involved in activities the regime now considers suspicious.
Russian scientist Dmitry Kolker, who heads the Laboratory for Quantum Optical Technologies at Novosibirsk State University in Siberia, has died after being arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service for “treason,” according to a report by Newsweek .
The 54-year-old scientist was suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer when he was arrested from hospital on June 30 and flown to Moscow on suspicion of “spying for China”, and his son accused the Russian security service of ” killed”.
The health system in Russia has come under pressure from the security apparatus, after officials in medical clinics were investigated for “prescribing Western medicine instead of Russian” to patients, according to “Foreign Affairs”.
The campaign was presented to the public as “a crackdown on the schemes of foreign pharmaceutical companies selling their medicines through Russian doctors”.
The Kremlin asked the FSB to investigate bureaucrats who “failed” to replace Russian products, such as IT technology, with foreign products.
The purges of the Federal Security Service affected the “Russian elite”, including senior security officials themselves, and three senior generals of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were arrested on embezzlement charges, according to “Foreign Affairs”.
External tactical change
But the most striking tactical change relates to the role of the security apparatus in “recruiting Ukrainian politicians” and running large-scale operations for “the detention of large numbers of Ukrainians in Russia and the occupied territories of Ukraine.”
A report by the “Moscow Times” newspaper indicates that the Kremlin has appointed an FSB official to administer the Moscow-occupied Kherson region in southern Ukraine, in a sign of the agency’s expansion of control .
According to “Foreign Affairs”, the service is conducting the search for “Ukrainian intelligence agents”, along with the Russians who are accused of “betraying the state”.
The return of Stalin’s police state
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, “the Russian security situation under Putin has followed the path of its predecessor under Stalin,” according to the description of “Foreign Affairs.”
The magazine notes: “The militarization of the FSB, the inauguration of new FSB recruitment camps, and the increasingly changing (open and brutal) tactics of Russian security.”
According to the Center for European Policy Analysis, the “very modest performance of the Russian military on the battlefield” fueled Putin’s paranoia about the elite’s rebellion and their attempted coup against him.
So Putin turned to “the tried and trusted methods that Stalin used to keep the elite under his grip,” according to the center’s analysis.
These changes represent a “shift in Russian security policy”, indicating Putin’s tendency to create a “wartime totalitarian state” due to the prolongation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to “Foreign Affairs”.