Disinformation disinformation age Disinformation Campaign Disinformation wars Natasha Bertrand NATO NATO expansion NATO-Russian Ukrainian War NATO-Russian War Prigozhin Prigozhin's revolt Russia Russia and America Russia and Europe Russia and the West Western Intel and Prigozhin

US Intel Trolls Putin and US Analysts Are Collateral Damage

   A whole host of American analysts and commentators — some reliable some not so much – are claiming that US intelligence stands behind the Prigozhin myatezh against the Russian military leadership (It was not a coup to seize power from Putin). The main piece of ‘evidence’ cited in such accounts is a news report from perhaps the least reputable but nevertheless influential media organ, CNN. The relevant sections in the CNN report of June 24th read:

US intelligence officials believe that Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the private Wagner military group, had been planning a major challenge to Russia’s military leadership for quite some time, but it was unclear what the ultimate aim would be, three people familiar with the matter told CNN. Intelligence officials briefed congressional leaders known as the Gang of Eight earlier this week concerning Wagner group movements and equipment buildups near Russia, two of the people said. US and Western intelligence officials saw signs that Prigozhin was making preparations for such a move, including by massing weapons and ammunition, one Western intelligence official and another person familiar with the intelligence said. A source familiar with the intelligence said ‘it all happened very quickly,’ and it was difficult to discern how serious Prigozhin was about threatening the Russian military and where he would take his troops.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stalled earlier this year, US officials determined that there was an internal power struggle underway between the Wagner group and the Russian government, CNN previously reported. However, US and European intelligence officials did not predict that Prigozhin would move to storm the Russian region of Rostov with his forces, according to sources familiar with the intelligence. ‘It’s so hard to tell how much was talk and how much was real,’ one of the sources told CNN. ‘The tension had been building for so long without anything actually happening.’ A European intelligence official told CNN that the ‘temperature had obviously been building,’ but few could have predicted what Prigozhin was planning. It is not clear to US or European officials how far in advance Prigozhin was planning the rebellion. One source familiar with Western intelligence said it appeared that it must have taken at least several days to organize. Another source, however, noted that Rostov is very close to the front lines in Ukraine so it may not have required much forethought” (www.cnn.com/2023/06/24/politics/us-western-officials-russia-prigozhin-putin/index.html).”

That’s it folks. That’s what some analysts are relying on to conclude or at least suggest that the US was involved, probably involved in Prigozhin’s plot. But the report is simply pure speculation about intelligence analysts supposedly having suspected ‘something was up’, having seen preparations for ‘something.’ It is this trifle that has been upgraded to some sort of evidence that the US colluded with Prigozhin. The most frequently mentioned point in the above article cited analysts to support the view is that US intelligence supposedly briefed the Gang of Eight. However, we do not know this is true, and if there was a briefing at all the Gang only heard about suspicions and Prigozhin planning ‘something.’ This is not evidence of US involvement in the plot; it is not even circumstantial evidence. It is just about irrelevant. Yet the CNN piece and the nugget about the Gang’s briefing has led to discussions by some analysts – even former CIA analysts! – about Prigozhin being a double agent run by Ukrainian and Western intelligence in addition to the Russians.  

The emptiness of the reporting that is supposed to constitute evidence of Western-Prigozhin collusion is not the only problem, not the end of this absurdity. The source of the report should tip off anyone with the slightest familiarity of US intelligence’s present practices of planting stories in US and foreign media, especially Democrat Party-state-loyal media, for disinformation and covering its derriere.  The report was authored in the main, according to the CNN by-line, by none other than the CIA/FBI nightingale, Natasha Bertrand. This strongly suggests that the ‘CNN report’ was a CIA disinformation operation utilizing the usual propagandists now called journalists. The purpose of the article was to ‘troll’ Putin and the Russian elite, to make them think that perhaps the fumbling CIA actually penetrated Putin’s inner circle to such an extent, and so to induce fear and suspicion within the Kremlin. A good way, they think, to further Prigozhin’s now dead revolt and encourage similar destabilization of Russia.

Who is Ms. Bertrand? I defer to the work of an actual journalist and a damned good one: Glen Greenwald. He has exposed Bertrand’s disinformation activity in discrediting the Hunter Biden laptop story, in which the CIA was in the lead, and much more:

“(O)ver the last many decades, the largest media corporations in the United States – The New York Times, The Washington Post, NBC News, CNN – have become the opposite of adversarial to intelligence agencies. They have become the leading propagandists, the leading messengers, whenever the CIA or the FBI or Homeland Security wants to disseminate propaganda, they go to those their favorite media outlets, their favorite journalists. They tell them what to say. And those journalists then go and say it.

“Oftentimes, it’s presented as a leak to make you feel like it’s unauthorized. They’ll refer to anonymous sources to make you kind of evoke that sentiment of Deep Throat meeting the Watergate reporters in a garage and passing information, even though that kind of original transaction that is supposed to have that image pop into your mind itself is highly suspicious. But that’s what most leaks are when they’re given to places like The New York Times and The Washington Post. They have the theater, the appearance, the costume of being unauthorized but, in fact, they’re completely authorized. So, the CIA goes to Natasha Bertrand, now at CNN, and tells CNN and tells her to say that Hunter Biden’s laptop is Russian disinformation or that Trump has been found to have a secret server with the Russian Alfa Bank, or that Russians have put bounties on the heads of American soldiers and Trump is doing nothing about it, all of which turned out to be totally untrue” (https://greenwald.locals.com/post/3870712/servants-of-power-wapo-nyt-hunt-down-ukraine-docs-leaker-doing-the-fbi-s-work-for-them).

This is just an atom on the tip of the iceberg. If one wants to understand what a CIA shill Bertrand is you only need to read Greenwald’s expose` on her numerous false stories – all demonstrably proven false and all having to do with Russia  (https://systemupdate.substack.com/p/the-career-advancing-lies-of-corporate). Nothing that has her named attached to it ought to be relied on by analysts.

Finally, it is possible that some Western intelligence organization, including the CIA, could have been working with Prigozhin, but this is highly, highly unlikely. The espionage world is by definition murky, highly secretive, nearly impossible to decipher, in particular when the timeframe is contemporary history, without the later revelations provided by archival and other research, autobiographies of the involved actors, etc. This is why one must be careful with sources, about seeing what you want to see because it might support your past analysis or perspective, and in reading any media or material that has any association with then likes of Bertrand. Her likes were ubiquitous in the Soviet Communist Party’s Ideological Department and its labyrinth of newspapers, television, and radio disinformers. Analysts would do well to avoid at all costs relying on anything these organs and ‘journalists’ like Bertrand belch out. It is the result of the disinformation complex Bertrand as at the center of that the public is so ignorant and brainwashed. Thus, it will be an easy task for Western governments to convince their publics that Putin wanted to take all Ukraine as the supposed first step in his imperialist project. Even if Russia takes of everything east of the Dnepr, the Biden administration can claim victory, and Bertrand and her ilk will will make sure the majority of Americans accept this view. Biden has nothing to lose by encouraging Ukraine to continue bleeding to death. Only Ukraine will lose. By year’s end Ukrainian casualties could already reach the one million mark. Almost all are military, and Russian casualties are likely four-five times fewer. But of course, everything should be over by then, because Putin is dying of cancer and Russian people and army are preparing to overthrow him. Right, Natasha?










About the Author 

Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, www.canalyt.com. Websites: Russian and Eurasian Politics, gordonhahn.com and gordonhahn.academia.edu

Dr. Hahn is the author of the new book: Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (Europe Books, 2022). He has authored five previous, well-received books: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021); Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.

Dr. Hahn taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group.

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