The story of the discovery at a bus stop of secret documents of the British Ministry of Defense about plans for the passage of a British destroyer through the territorial waters of Russia continues to grow overgrown with strange details. Most of them indicate that this was a deliberate stuffing. Who made this leak and why?
Soviet and Russian intelligence veteran Yuri Kobaladze was asked in an interview what is the worst thing in the life of an intelligence officer. In response, Yuri Georgievich told the following story.
One hot summer, he worked with documents in his office in the intelligence complex in Yasenevo. There were no air conditioners there yet, so the windows were wide open. Suddenly someone came in, the door opened, a draft formed. And all the documents lying on the table fluttered like butterflies into the courtyard. A comical pursuit of papers followed, so that they, driven by the wind, would not fly over the fence into the street. Where anyone could pick them up.
This is the worst thing that could happen to an intelligence officer. Not the loss of the agent, not the expulsion, but the loss of secret documents. For this in Soviet times, it was possible to lose not just a career, but in general a further biography.
But in the United Kingdom, this usually gets away with it. Nobody canceled the traditional British carelessness. And it does not hold a candle to all the stereotypes about the Russian national character.
One day recently, a British intelligence official was on his way to a report on Afghanistan at the Prime Minister's Downing Street. And all would be fine, but in his hands he was holding a folder with top secret materials on agents in Afghanistan. And for some reason the folder was open, and it was on the page where the agents' personal data were listed. The journalists crowded in Downing Street simply photographed her, having received all the appearances, names and passwords.
And former Prime Minister James Cameron once took a high-speed train from London to Glasgow (sort of like our Peregrine Falcon with seating) to a relative's wedding. At some point, he got up and went to the dining car for a glass. There he was recognized by a simple subject of Her Majesty, very surprised and went to the car where the Prime Minister was traveling. On his table lay a red box - the famous red leather briefcase, in which members of the government carry secret documents up to nuclear weapons. Prime minister was written on the briefcase in gold embossing, and the key was inserted into the lock.
The man calmly photographed all this and then claimed that he could just take the red suitcase and carry it away. In hindsight, the security service claimed that it had been watching the red suitcase and would not have given it away, but the sediment remained.
Okay, Cameron is another story. One day he forgot his eight-year-old daughter in a pub. But on this incident ended the cheap populism of the British government. Politicians were finally banned from commuting to work on bicycles, buses and the subway. Populism is populism ("we are with the common people"), but state secrets are still more important. And now it is customary to camouflage red suitcases. They are placed inside a simple bag.
That did not cancel a series of losses of secret documents by British officials of a slightly lower rank in all the same commuter trains (in the same Kent, where many of the aristocrats live, and they travel to work in London by trains). Documents about Afghanistan and Syria were regularly lost in electric trains and in the subway. Many are nodding to the fact that in the UK, even law enforcement and intelligence officers are allowed to drink in the workplace (well, a couple of pints of beer who will follow), or at lunchtime in a pub or club, as part of the national culture. But the result is obvious. And no Petrov or Boshirov is needed.
However, in the specific case concerning the loss of documents regarding the passage of the destroyer "Defender" off the coast of Crimea, there is still more real politics than such mind-blowing stories.
First, it is striking that exactly those papers were lost and mystically found that were required to be shown at that particular moment in time. Not something about nuclear weapons, but about a destroyer in the Black Sea. And these documents were lost two days before the event itself. Such coincidences are hard to believe.
Usually, the average law-abiding British Protestant, finding something foreign at a bus stop, will carry it back to the owner. Or the police. And in this case, the person went to the BBC. Of course, people are different. Maybe he wanted money from the broadcasting corporation or something ideological leaped into him. But in general, a strange thing. There was a case when the guards of US President Barack Obama, drunk, forgot in a bar in France every single document related to Obama's visit to Marseille for the G20 meeting, including the president's travel schedule for several months in advance and the internal schemes of the Carlton hotel with the deployment of guards. These are the people who arrive on the front side and are obliged to provide protection for the first person.
The French waiter who found these documents received a special FBI medal and a monetary reward. He did not bring these documents to the newspaper, but called the police.
Second, it is important to understand what exactly was in the documents found in Kent. It seems from them that great strategists and analysts work in the United Kingdom Ministry of Defense, who calculated in advance all the pros and cons of the passage of a destroyer across the Russian border at Cape Fiolent and concluded that for the image of Great Britain it is better to put oneself in jeopardy than to dodge and “ show weakness. " Moreover, in this analysis, responsibility was assigned in advance to the Russian side and the risks from a possible response from Russia were calculated.
By the way, it was clear in advance that the destroyer would not move on Russian waters for more than twenty minutes, which initially meant that it would not be sunk. It's just that peace negotiations with such violators take at least half an hour. And so - dusty, where it is dangerous, and it seems like heroes. This suggests that such a clever leak could have been organized in the bowels of the UK Defense Ministry itself. It is clear that in order to raise the prestige. But is it only for this purpose?
It is no secret that Boris Johnson's office is heterogeneous and is constantly shaken by internal scandals. The conflict between Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Office head Dominic Raab is one of the most difficult issues within the Kingdom's current government. According to other leaks, it was Ben Wallace who insisted on the passage of the ship through Russian territorial waters at Cape Fiolent, while Raab allegedly opposed it.
The two towers of Westminster Palace had a bit of an argument. The British Department of Defense believes that it is possible to knock on the nose of the Russian bear for the sake of the political interests of the head of this department. Foreign Office says that one should not behave like that, because the bear is still dangerous.
Yes, according to the principle "who benefits", it was Ben Wallace who was most interested in it.
Yes, they announced an investigation into the careless handling of classified materials. But, firstly, they simply say "secret", that is, the access level is rather low. Some have the inscription Strickly UK Eyes Only, which is slightly higher in secrecy, but these documents were related to Afghanistan, and not to a destroyer in the Black Sea. But on the whole, this leak (or stuffing) did not damage the defense capability of Great Britain. You can be sure that we will never see the results of the investigation into this fact of the leak, despite the fact that the UK DoD has already confirmed that a certain "high-ranking official" of the ministry could have lost the papers. Moreover, the identity of the person who found the documents is also not disclosed.
Thus, if the leak was orchestrated from the bowels of the United Kingdom Department of Defense to portray British sailors as heroes, and the DoD itself as a stronghold of strategic thinking and analysis, we are not dealing with a question of world politics. And not even a question of confrontation between Britain and Russia. It's just that inside the British government they are ready to risk not only the lives of sailors, but also world stability for the sake of clarifying personal relations and personal political dividends.
Text: Evgeny Krutikov