Following news messages in media declaring doubts in what stays behind the Russia’s mission in Italy, the Italian La Stampa reports on pressure from Russia. However, the analysis of materials confirmed that allegations on intelligence nature of the mission are justified.
Italian journalists say that Russia keep intimidating Italy as they usually do from home, though right from Italy by now. This concerns mainly the accusations of Jacobo Iacoboni, La Stampa journalist, who wrote in his article about the intelligence rather than health care mission sent from Russia. In response, the Russian Embassy in Rome published a very “friendly” press release addressing him with the following words, “As for the relations with the real clients of La Stampa’s russophobia, who are known to us, we recommend that they follow an old maxim: ‘Qui fodit foveam, incidet in eam (He who digs a pit falls into it). To be clearer: Bad penny always comes back.’ From Russia with love.”
How should we treat such statement from the official body – an embassy in Italy through its official page in Facebook? Probably, that is an evident intimidation made by the official authorities, which pose a threat to democratic Europe and its declared freedoms made from within the EU.
The phrase “From Russia with love” is worth particular attention making a reference to espionage operations similar to that described in Fleming’s novel and James Bond film series.
Indeed, do you think that the ordinary medical staff sent to the host state should be fluent in the language of the state? Meanwhile, Russian staff sent to Italy studied language thoroughly which make them intelligence officers rather than military medics. Neither Italian prime minister nor the ministry of foreign affairs has disproved the arguments put forward in the article published by la Stampa.
Today sufficient evidence allow to analyze Russian deployment in Italy to support or refute these suggestions.
As it was recognised by Chief of the Chemical Defense Forces of Russia Igot Kirillov in his interview to pro-government Russian TV channel Zvezda, 66 troops landed in Italy. Chief on the site is Sergey Kikot, who is Deputy Chief of the Russian Chemical Defense Forces. Obviously, the rest of the staff represent the same military unit. However, no insignia of Chemical Defense Forces were seen in Pratica di Mare, were all the staff came down. That is also a well-known practice of Russian security services to use insignia of other military units to cover their true affiliation. At least one member of the staff was proved to be part of the 48th Central Research Institute specializing in biological weapons.
Nonetheless Italian side claimed their need for anesthetists and lung ventilators, Russia sent supplies which have nothing to do with these needs and includes an analysis and genotyping module and an information processing module (which is required for defining a virus strain, useless thing in case of coronavirus). Both were designed by the 48th Central Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense of Russia.
Another equipment included four vehicles with unidentified modules on them, thirteen ARS-14KM stations for disinfecting equipment, countering high-precision weapons through deploying an aerosol shield and hiding the convoy on the move, three disinfection aerosol complexes and biohazard reconnaissance vehicle.
In addition, the so-called “medical personnel” deployed in Italy does not follow any safety regulations requirements and such negligance to personal protection rules suggests their belonging to other military forces.
The Russian team includes Konstantin Khudoleev and Vyacheslav Amelyutin, both are the employees of Zvezda channel, affiliated with the Russian Defense Ministry. Considering their previous involvement in dubious propaganda operations, their obvious participation in Italy mission as military intelligence pursues the same purpose.
Kremlin draws the parallels between this Italian operation and that of 1799 led by A. Suvorov, when the Russian Empire organised the Italian campaign and entered Bergamo after crossing the Alps. Well, Russia may benefit at least from successful ideological campaign if not from the potential repeat of victorious campaign against the West. They obtain even necessary military experience: for some reason Russians pass the 600 km long road from Pratica di Mare to Lombardy when it was possible to land on one of the four airfields nearby Bergamo capable of receiving Il-76 aircrafts.
Landing intervals and number of aircrafts came by air to Pratica di Mare were similar to the Crimea operation of 2014, where military group deployed within 7 hours before blocking military units and annexing the peninsula. Italian mission reminds an air training group working on deployment and advancing through the hostile territory – the territory of NATO ally.
As the Russian Defense Ministry later informed, when moving across Italy, the military group has trained their actions in case of a chemical attack. Operation of the systems when creating excess pressure in cabins of the vehicles was tested and ability of the Russian Defense Ministry to address respiratory safety issues of military group was tested.
That is, we may say for sure that 80% of Russian aid sent to Italy is useless, the suggestions of La Stampa are based on the facts, not on allegations and that Russian “rescue” mission consists of rather intelligence officers and military specialists that medical staff.