Discover more from Meaning In History
Who's Behind The Unexplained Explosions In Russia?
Jack Murphy says he knows. I can’t recall reading Murphy’s reporting on this story, which dates back to a few days before Christmas. Obviously I’ve heard about these events, one of which happened within the last few days. Now, Russia officially attributes these often spectacular events to accidental causes. You can find photos of some these events here. That link leads with a reference to Murphy’s reporting:
Thanks for reading Meaning In History! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
'CIA is behind spate of explosions in Russia': US Army Special Ops veteran claims intelligence agency and NATO ally are conducting sabotage missions
The CIA is working with an unnamed 'NATO ally', according to Jack Murphy
Murphy was a former senior trainer and adviser to an Iraqi SWAT team
He said the CIA and President Biden are personally authorising missions
Here’s the link to Murphy’s site, which includes his explanation of why he published on his own site rather than in a more mainstream outlet:
The basic idea is straightforward enough—the sabotage program uses “sleeper cells” in Russia that are operated by a NATO ally, but the command and control is directed by the CIA. This program was put in place no later than 2016, so the preparatory work has been going on for years:
The campaign involves long standing sleeper cells that the allied spy service has activated to hinder Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine by waging a secret war behind Russian lines.
Years in the planning, the campaign is responsible for many of the unexplained explosions and other mishaps that have befallen the Russian military industrial complex since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, according to three former U.S. intelligence officials, two former U.S. military officials and a U.S. person who has been briefed on the campaign. The former officials declined to identify specific targets for the CIA-directed campaign, but railway bridges, fuel depots and power plants in Russia have all been damaged in unexplained incidents since the Kremlin launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
While no American personnel are involved on the ground in Russia in the execution of these missions, agency paramilitary officers are commanding and controlling the operations, according to two former intelligence officials and a former military official. The paramilitary officers are assigned to the CIA’s Special Activities Center but detailed to the agency’s European Mission Center, said the two former intelligence officials. Using an allied intelligence service to give the CIA an added layer of plausible deniability was an essential factor in U.S. President Joe Biden’s decision to approve the strikes, according to a former U.S. special operations official.
While command and control over the sabotage program resides with the CIA for legal reasons, the NATO ally has a strong say in which operations go forward since it is their people taking the risks. Sources repeatedly pushed back against any notion that the NATO ally was a CIA proxy, describing it is a close partnership. The European ally whose operatives are conducting the sabotage campaign is not being named here because doing so might endanger the operational security of cells that are still operational inside of Russia.
Read these next paragraphs closely. Murphy is saying that the US Deep State used Hillary’s election campaign Russia Hoax to authorize a potential sabotage campaign within Russia. Does that sound reckless to you? It certainly does to me. But Murphy is citing the WaPo for this reporting.
Any covert action undertaken by U.S. agencies must be authorized by a presidential finding. After the U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia had interfered with the 2016 U.S. presidential election, President Barack Obama signed such a finding for covert action against Russia before he left office, according to The Washington Post. The finding involved the National Security Agency and the military’s Cyber Command in addition to the CIA and included a scheme to plant “cyberweapons in Russia’s infrastructure,” according to the Post.
That 2016 finding also included language about sabotage operations, according to a former CIA official. Other former officials said that the current sabotage campaign would have required either an entirely new finding or an amendment to a pre-existing finding on Russia.
CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp denied any agency involvement in the wave of mysterious explosions that have struck Russia’s defense and transportation infrastructure in 2022. “The allegation that CIA is somehow supporting saboteur networks in Russia is categorically false,” the spokesperson said.
That denial must be taken with a grain or more of salt:
Under Title 50 of the U.S. Code which authorizes covert actions, the CIA can lawfully deny the existence of these operations to everyone except the so-called “Gang of Eight” – the chairmen and ranking minority members of the congressional intelligence committees, the speaker and minority leader of the House of Representatives, and the majority and minority leaders of the Senate.
We’ve seen, with regard to the Nordstream sabotage, that CIA lawyers are willing to offer arguable workarounds to avoid informing the Gang of Eight.
The two obvious questions that arise are 1) Who is the NATO ally? and 2) Who are the members of the sleep cells?
Alexander Mercouris believes the NATO ally is either the UK or Poland. He favors the UK as the ally, based on the large emigre population in the UK. While I agree that those are the obvious choices, I would caution that Murphy may be deliberately concealing the true nature of the operation—sensitive as such an operation would be, is it not possible that the UK and Poland (which cooperate closely in intel matters) would be in this together.
I raise that issue because of the difficulty of pulling this off. Finding people who can not only plausibly travel within Russia and pass as Russian isn’t as easy as it may appear in spy novels. To speak and act in a natively idiomatic way requires contemporary exposure to Russian life and society. Those emigres in the UK might do something to give themselves away. On the other hand, Belarus has a large Polish population. Providing a Belarus citizen of Polish background with a “legend”—a fictitious identity—has a number of advantages. Such a person would be more likely to fit in within Russia, utilizing that false identity. Further, travel between Belarus and Russia might well be easier from a security standpoint than from other destinations.
This is just my speculation. It is known that Ukraine has engaged in some operations inside Russia, and many Ukrainian citizens—or Russian citizens of Ukrainian background—might be able to fit in inside Russia. On the other hand, this paragraph is highly suggestive:
Some of the first sabotage attacks behind Russian lines occurred outside Russia, in Belarus, when “a clandestine network of railway workers, hackers, and dissident security forces” began attacking rail lines that connected Russia and Ukraine, according to The Washington Post. “Starting on Feb. 26, two days after the invasion began, a succession of five sabotage attacks against signaling cabinets brought train traffic to an almost complete halt,” the Post reported, quoting a former railway worker now living in Poland.
The dangers of such a sabotage program are pretty clear—it runs the risk of serious escalation. Another aspect, which Murphy doesn’t address, is the reality that turnabout is fair play or, alternatively, two can play the same game. Soviet/Russian “illegals” or sleeper cells in America are a reality. Could they also have been trained in sabotage? As long as there are no unexplained fires or explosions or such like in the US, I guess we’re safe. Wait …