“Keep Calm and Carry On”

Russian Keep-calm-and-carry-on-scanCould there be a more quintessentially English meme? Anyway, I just wanted to flag up a piece of mine under this title in Russia! magazine, which hopes that the Russian state and people hold their nerve and don’t over-react to the recent terrorist attacks.

At least for the moment, the Volgograd and Pyatigorsk explosions have managed to shape the Sochi narrative, at least for the international media. Debates as to whether the Winter Olympics will be dangerous for athletes and spectators overshadow any sporting considerations. (Apparently the US team have engaged a US private security company to extricate them if need be; I wonder how Americans would react if the running shoe were on the other foot and Russian athletes wanted Spetsnaz commandos on call…) The Kremlin has every reason to be peeved, but it would be best served by remaining calm and avoiding the temptation to change policy in response to every reversal. After all, it needs to remember four key points:

Read the rest here.

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  1. Any thoughts on the lastest rumors from Kadyrov the Younger regarding the demise of Doku U that come out Friday morning? Quite interesting that a source as supposedly credible as Abu Mohammed Ali Daghestani gave a statement confirming the success of the kill operation this time… But Ramzan has claimed this before, and as far as I have heard they still don’t have a body… Figured any of the Russian Speznatz teams, whether from the military, FSB, or GRU, would be more effective in securing a confirmed kill than, say, the Mexican Spec Op Marines who “lost” the body of the then supreme leader of Los Zetas, Sr. Heriberto Lazcano Lazcano, aka Z3, when they found, fixed, and finished him on a baseball field in Coahuila; of course with at least the help of good ole American intelligence, and possibly U.S. operational teams as well. Apparently they didn’t know who they had killed, although that doesn’t really make sense given the circumstances. Mexican SMU’s do not stumble onto supreme leaders of major cartels watching baseball games from a distance with a minimal number of close protection assets. But I apologize for digressing, as that is quite another issue. I would be very interested in your analysis of Kadyrov’s claim, and what it means for Sochi. Kadyrov has claimed he can guarantee there will be no attacks on Sochi because the insurgents are too involved in finding a new leader for the Caucasus Emirate? I was under the impression that Umarov was an ineffectual, figurehead leader who hadn’t been killed by Kadyrovtsky or Russian forces because they knew under his leadership the C.E. would never be an effective opposition? I remember you going into this in the past…So if he was so ineffectual and actually hurting the rebels cause why would the Federal forces kill him now when they had so many opportunites in the past? And if that is the case, then Umarov’s death would not effect any terrorist operations against Sochi, and it might even give the general public a false sense of security when the truly organized, effective terrorists and insurgents are still fully operational and compartmentalized from Umarov and his structure? Sorry for the many questions, would love to hear any anaylsis you have on the claimed Umarov death and how it would effect both security for Sochi, as well as the overall “Caucasus Emirate” and the entire regional rebel movement? Your work is always a sincere pleasure to read and absorb. I apologize for one more tangent, but any thoughts on the claim that a third of the money going into the Olympics has gone into a black hole? I believe it was said on 60 Minutes that building an 80 mile road cost $9,000,000,000? Wonder how much of that is going to the Solntsevskaya Bratva, the Dolgoprudninskaya boys, or Semion Mogilvich? Again, thank you for your work.

    • Mark Galeotti

       /  January 20, 2014

      If I had to punt on whether Umarov was dead or alive, I think I’d currently be inclined to say he was dead, but it’s not a bet I’d want to stake my shirt on… I think that Kadyrov and the federal forces would happily take him out if they had the chance — not least because they could do with good news — but whether this would have *any* impact on the threat to Sochi is another matter. One could see it having no effect, distracting the insurgents as they identify a new “Emir” or conversely leading to greater efforts to hit the Games as rival candidates try to demonstrate their leadership qualities. Again, not a bet I’d want to take.

      (Oh, and I’d say that only a small fraction of the Sochi gravy ends up in the hands of “proper” organised crime. It’s the cronies, oligarchs, contractors with the sweetheart deals and similar less savoury elements of the elite who really make the money.)

  2. Thank you kindly for your informed reply, it is sincerely appreciated.


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