Russian military intelligence-linked militant groups may be involved in the storming of the U.S. Capitol building during a riot organized by supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump. The analytic investigation of photos and videos from open sources proves a supposition that Russian military intelligence, previously may be involved in a large-scale cyber attack on US federal agencies, was involved in the recent events in Washington DC as reported by igtds.org.
The modus openandi used while attack against the Capitol building is very similar to that invented by the Russians during the protests of the yellow vest movement in France and Catalonia independence supporters. It is about the infiltration of their militants into the riot crowd to incite the protests and unrest, thus contributing to invasion of infrastructure and federal objects. Moreover, actions in the Capitol resemble those carried out by Russian Special Operation Forces while seizing in 2014 the parliament building in Crimea, Ukraine, and government agencies in eastern Ukraine.
The Moscow actively takes advantage of popular discontent for its influence abroad. This goal is reached by infiltrating Russian intelligence officers forming the militant wing inside the protest movement, by agitation, introducing conspiracy theories (as, in France, for instance), and recruiting lead characters of these movements.
Similarly, it was in 2016, under cover of local nationalists the Main Intelligence Directorate attack groups were involved in a coup attempt in Montenegro.
In 2020, judge Joaquin Aguirre from Barcelona, who was investigating the illegal financing of the 2017 Catalan independence referendum claimed that prior the referendum, Moscow had proposed to send 10,000 soldiers to Catalonia and clear the Catalan debt. His opinion was built on two recorded telephone conversations of the Catalan politician Victor Terradellas, an associate of the former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont made in May 2018. The very fact that such issue was discussed prove Kremlin’s potential to infiltrate militants into protests at the national level abroad.
On one of the videos showing capture of the Congress building siege one can clearly hear shouts in Russian “Smeley, smeley, (it means ‘be brave, be brave… ’). It supports the fact that the Russian militants fulfilled the organizational function to encourage the protesters.
According to estimations the attack against the Capitol building discredited the Congress computer networks and could cause documents leak. During seizing the office of Nancy Pelosis, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, letters and documents were stolen from her desk. So, there is a high probability of the Congress premises got bugged.
The attack on the Capitol building was actively covered by the Main Intelligence Directorate- affiliated media channels. In the Russian-language information space they showed the US authorities as discredited. In Russia, such picture is in line with the Kremlin’s narrative of a crumbling US democracy. A state-controlled news channel aired the chaos on a split screen, one side showing happy Orthodox Christmas festivities in Russia, the other the mayhem in DC.
Russia’s involvement in the United States protests and attack against the Capitol building is seen as an act of state terrorism, may be similar to the 9/11 attacks. Therefore, recognizing Russia as a terrorism sponsoring country, harsher sanctions against the Russian economy and restoring the international image of the United States as a state got attacked from outside will be priorities for the new White House Administration.