We live in incredibly eventful times, and it seems like everyone is following the processes taking place in Belarus and Russia. And, of course, we still have Covid-19. However, among all of this there are some serious, but rather amusing occurrences as well.
One of such occurrences was the Monday announcement by the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) that it had summoned a Dutch diplomat to voice concerns about a Russian military attaché being spied on in the Netherlands.1 It was alleged that “spying equipment” had been found in the military attaché’s vehicle. But a Russian media outlet had more specific information – the headline of the article stated that a “bug” (used for eavesdropping) had been found in the car of the Russian military attaché in the Netherlands. But further down in the article it was said that tracking equipment was found in the military attaché’s vehicle.2
Why do I consider this amusing? If we look at the information published in Russian media, it seems that they themselves are not really sure about what was found. Was it a bug or tracking equipment? There’s quite the difference between both – one is used to listen to conversations of those in the car, while the other tracks the movement and location of the car. The latter is usually done by a GPS, and nowadays cars usually come equipped with GPS.
Let’s divert for a bit. I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone that Russian so-called military attachés don’t work in the diplomatic sphere, but rather in the intelligence sphere, or as it is known by regular people – espionage. This is evidenced by the fact that Albania expelled Russian diplomat Vladislav Filipov for spying. Filipov is a colonel in the Russian GRU, but now the diplomat-spy has been nominated for the post of military attaché in Bosnia and Herzegovina.3 Viktor Suvorov’s book “Basics of Intelligence” gives thorough information on the posts occupied by GRU officers, and one of such posts is the military attaché. For those who don’t know, Suvorov is a former officer in the GRU’s residency in Geneva (real name – Vladimir Rezun).
Therefore, we can conclude that the Russian military attaché is a spy, and public information does not precisely state what was found in his car.
But the most amusing is the fact that something was placed in the military attaché’s car – if the reports are true, of course. Why is this amusing? Because it means that Russian intelligence services have once again demonstrated their incompetency. Diplomatic vehicles are usually parked inside embassies, which are guarded by state police from the outside and Russian intelligence officers from the inside. In Soviet times, embassies were guarded from the inside by KGB officers, and now Russian embassies are guarded by soldiers of the Foreign Intelligence Service’s special purpose unit Zaslon. I will add that the Foreign Intelligence Service is the successor to the KGB’s 1st Main Directorate and the USSR Central Intelligence Service. We can also read in Suvorov’s books that there were GRU special units in each Soviet embassy, and this means they are also present in modern Russian embassies. Additionally, embassies have special technical departments who work to prevent any technical interference in the territory of the embassy, as well as in diplomatic vehicles.
Even when outside the embassy’s walls, vehicles are not left without security – if you have noticed, cars with red license plates (only diplomatic vehicles have red plates) are never parked in the streets without someone being right next to them.
This means that it’s impossible to place something in these cars without being noticed, except in cases where the respective service is severely incompetent, or its employees were sleeping while someone broke into the car. This is hardly believable.
This leads us to a different version of the incident – the story about spying equipment being placed in the vehicle of the Russian military attaché is made up and serves as a part of a different operation launched by Russian intelligence services.
If someone wants to blame me of entering conspiracy territory, we are then left with the conclusion that Russian intelligence services have once again proven they are utterly incompetent – twice. First, when they didn’t notice that some device is being placed in the military attaché’s vehicle; second, when they announced their unprofessionalism to the public.