Interview with Evangelos D. Kokkinos
"Long term, Russia is likely to represent the most serious threat to European security", says Prof. Jamie Gaskarth points out in an exclusive interview with Pentapostagma. Mr. Gaskarth is a professor of Foreign Policy and International Relations at The Open University in Milton Keynes, England and author of books and publications, «Secrets and Spies: UK Intelligence Accountability After Iraq and Snowden» included.
Τhe British professor thinks that, "basic errors of strategy, tactics and a lack of adaptation have led many to question the extent of the threat Russia represents»That said, «in the short to medium term, the conventional threat from Russia has reduced".
"In the wake of the war, the influence of India is becoming more apparent"
Commenting on the activity of the British military intelligence services in Ukraine, Mr. Gaskarth succinctly explains that "US-European intelligence agencies have helped in terms of secure communications and surveillance, but the exact nature of that help is largely secret".
"Russia is likely to escalate its efforts if Crimea is threatened, that may well be a red line for them", he adds, analyzing the course of the war in Ukraine.
Referring to Turkey's ongoing threats against Greece, the British professor emphasizes that "Turkey’s military involvement in Syria is likely to inhibit its ability to fight a war with Greece", while as he says, the United Kingdom as an ally of both countries, in the event of a conflict "will be urging restraint and negotiation".
However, he makes it clear that while tensions between Turkey and Greece should be manageable, the fact that there are many other conflicts that need to be addressed, "there is a risk it may be allowed to fester as great powers look elsewhere".
"What is surprising is the inability of the Russian armed forces to achieve aerial dominance"
Summarizing, Prof. Gaskarth referred to the new tactics and technologies of the intelligence services, but also to the trends for the future, as they arise from the war in Ukraine.
"A key development in Ukraine, one that has been developing over the last three decades, has been the use of drones and satellite surveillance to provide live battlefield intelligence to the warring sides", he says.
Focusing on air power issues, he calls Russia's inability to achieve air dominance over Ukraine surprising. "Anti-air missiles have played an important part in that, underscoring that in a modern peer to peer war between developed powers, missile technology is hugely important", Prof. Gaskarth concludes.
The full interview:
- With the war in Ukraine raging and Russia subject to frequent defeats - such as withdrawing from Kherson - what are the changes on the international scene? What are the short-term and long-term consequences for Europe?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was a direct threat to European security and international order; however, its military performance since then has been shocking. Basic errors of strategy, tactics and a lack of adaptation have led many to question the extent of the threat Russia represents. That might lead to some complacency. In the short to medium term, the conventional threat from Russia has reduced. The endemic corruption in Russian society has clearly impacted on their equipment, logistics, leadership and doctrine. Russia is now hugely reliant on China, and to a lesser extent India, to sustain its international position. It has also galvanised the NATO alliance, enhancing NATO’s capabilities with the applications of Finland and Sweden to join. Yet, Russia will rebuild. The war is likely to create insecurity in Russian society, fuelling political upheaval and possibly paving way for ultranationalism. Long term, Russia is likely to represent the most serious threat to European security.
In the wake of the war, the influence of India is becoming more apparent. Its role in shaping the language of the G20 statement demonstrated its weight in global affairs. Whether its attachment to nonalignment is sustainable is open to question.
Meanwhile, the Global South has suffered as a result of the war, with aid budgets being redirected to Ukrainian relief, rising prices of oil and gas, and supply issues for grain.
- Where do you see the Ukraine conflict going? Are we looking at a possible global war or the total defeat of Russia?
Ukrainian forces are better motivated and, so far, have demonstrated better operational doctrine and performance. Given adequate resources, they are likely to recapture the territories Russia seized in the early months of the war, and potentially recover the whole of the Donbas. To maintain its control, Ukraine will have to put forward a credible offer for reconciliation with separatist groups and offer some guarantees for the safety and cultural security of Russian speakers. Russia is likely to escalate its efforts if Crimea is threatened. That may well be a red line for them. In the meantime, whether Russia is able to maintain domestic support for its war will depend on how far sanctions hurt influential groups in Russian society and the extent of mobilisation and subsequent death tolls.
- Further south from Ukraine, Turkey's threat of war against Greece has grabbed international headlines in recent months. Do you consider a Greek-Turkish war possible? If so, what will be the reaction of the United Kingdom, as a NATO ally?
Turkey’s military involvement in Syria is likely to inhibit its ability to fight a war with Greece. The UK is an ally of both countries and will be urging restraint and negotiation.
- How are international relations/partnerships/alliances shaped by the war in Ukraine, China's threat to Taiwan, but also Turkey's constant threat against Greece in the eastern Mediterranean?
President Xi has consolidated power in China and the country is as well-placed as it has ever been to invade Taiwan, should it decide to do so. The US and Europe are focused on Ukraine and resources would be stretched if required to confront China as well as Russia. What might be holding China back is observing the consequences of reckless military action for Russia. The latter is isolated diplomatically, has suffered widespread condemnation from the international community as well as sanctions, and has struggled to achieve military victory. China will also be aware that a seaborne invasion is far harder than one from the land. Tensions between Turkey and Greece should be manageable but with many other conflicts to contend with, there is a risk it may be allowed to fester as great powers look elsewhere.
- Through decades of on the field and behind the scenes operations, what has changed in intelligence agencies' tactics and technologies? What are the trends for the future of their operations?
A key development in Ukraine, one that has been developing over the last three decades, has been the use of drones and satellite surveillance to provide live battlefield intelligence to the warring sides. It is harder to achieve strategic surprise, to hide your strength and lines of effort, and to protect your supply lines. Nevertheless, the war has underscored the importance of mass, of adequate supply and reinforcement, artillery and heavy army. What is surprising is the inability of the Russian armed forces to achieve aerial dominance. Anti-air missiles have played an important part in that, underscoring that in a modern peer to peer war between developed powers, missile technology is hugely important.