Better get a new spy chief?

I don’t know how much the head of Britain’s MI6 earns but I’m sure it is a tidy sum and the tax-payer deserves better than this. Apparently the new-in-post head of MI6 has said that Russia is an “objectively declining power economically and demographically”. He also apparently referred to the Skripal incident and the alleged Russian part in an explosion in a Czech arms dump in 2014 which latter incident recently “came to light”. And: “When you get that pattern of reckless behaviour, of course you then look at what is happening around Ukraine and of course it worries us”. (The warehouse involved in the Czech explosion which explosion we are supposed to believe has only just been linked to the same people involved in the Skripal incident was supplying arms to Ukraine – from some points of view to kill civilians in Donbass).

And “It is an extremely challenged place…. And clearly the treatment of Alexei Navalny as we saw with the thousands of protesters on the streets of well – not just Moscow – of a number of cities shows that there is a deal of disaffection with Mr Putin”.

Russia is not a “declining power”. What dreams. What nonsense. And this man is paid to provide the UK government and, nominally, the UK public, with sound “intelligence”. The Russian economy has been growing over the last period of years and continues to grow. Of course it has suffered a Covid-related blip – though much less than the UK has. A growing percentage of the population enjoy consumerist lifestyles. Markers such as car ownership and foreign holidays are abundant. National debt is low – approximately 17% of GDP [1] – a tiny fraction of UK National Debt (which is around the 100% mark [2]). There is a large ‘Sovereign Wealth Fund’. Despite sanctions Russia’s bonds are rated as investment-grade. Inflation has been low and controlled until a surge in April 2021. The economy is stable and growing. [3] The fact is despite substantial problems Russia continues the economic development path which it has been on consistently over the last 20 years. From the point of view of neo-liberals there remain structural problems and too much state ownership. No one disputes that corruption remains something of a problem. It may be that from the neo-liberal point of view Russia is not ‘doing as well as it could’. But from any point of “objective” view in reality Russia continues a steady pace of economic development. See what the World Bank says: https://data.worldbank.org/country/RU . We can check the figures for many indicators including GDP, demographics, life expectancy, school enrolment. There is also a downloadable spreadsheet with dozens of indicators for example showing stable state expenditure on health.

One should understand that the main role of the head of MI6 is not to provide intelligence but to spread black propaganda. Anyway – I hope he is not telling Ministers privately that Russia is economically declining because a child could find the figures which show that he is wrong in 5 minutes. The amazing point about recent Russian economic performance is that the economy has weathered the storm of the post-Crimea sanctions and has started to grow again – even under sanctions.

As to “It is an extremely challenged place” and ” a number of cities shows that there is a deal of disaffection with Mr Putin”. I have lived in 4 different Russian cities over the last 3 years. I speak to quite a lot of Russians. Absolutely you can find people who are against the current setup in the Kremlin, even vehemently against it. Though I can (and I don’t charge for providing intelligence) point out that these people are far from all being supporters of Navalny. Navalny is one figure and there is a tribe who support him – but he doesn’t embody the “opposition” to Putin. I can also comment that many, many Russians are satisfied with how things are going. Where I live at the moment – in a large city in Siberia – the description “It is an extremely challenged place” bears zero relation to reality. I live in a peaceful city with little sign of destitution (far fewer beggars on the streets than a comparable English city) and amazing levels of car ownership. A large middle-class fills the many shopping malls and many take foreign holidays. The political mood is calm and peaceful. The overall impression is of a much more socially cohesive country than the UK. (A language point: “A deal of” is vulgar English and an Americanism – does Mr Moore spend too much time talking to Americans one wonders?) One can add – why be surprised that there is “a deal of” disaffection with Mr Putin; there is a “deal of” disaffection with the Prime Minister of the UK in the UK, with the President of France in France and so on. Surely Mr Moore doesn’t think that “a deal of” disaffection with a leader is an indicator of a country spiralling into disaster? I thought that democracy permitted “a deal of” disaffection with its leader? Unless, of course, Mr Moore is trying to make a deal out of it?

As I say I just hope that Mr Moore is deliberately lying about his characterisation of Russia because if he really believes it the public should ask for their money back.

Notes

  1. https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2021/02/24/russias-government-debt-rose-40-in-2020-a73044
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/may/25/uk-government-borrowing-april-covid-lockdown-national-debt
  3. https://www.rt.com/business/526674-fitch-russia-gdp-upgrade/ [Added 16/11/21]

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer