Britain has set up a secret banking department under the Department of Defense and is now focusing its efforts on countering Russia and China. According to the Financial Times, the department, which recruits famous bankers and financiers, with the subsequent assignment of the highest military ranks, was created six years ago to counter the Islamic State (ISIS) *. Today, however, financial special operations have become part of a hybrid war against geopolitical adversaries.
“Demand for the department’s specialists is growing as adversaries such as Russia and China exploit the gray zone between peace and war, using cyber weapons against national infrastructure and investing commercial investments in sensitive areas abroad,” the newspaper writes.
Until recently, methods of competition in the international arena such as the development of propaganda networks were heard. Any power that sets itself ambitious goals is actively developing a network of NGOs, editorial offices and think tanks abroad.
More recently, the US National Center for Counterintelligence and Security (NCSC) said it prioritizes outreach efforts in the US tech sectors, with China and Russia as the main threat. First of all, we are talking about such technologies as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity.
Simultaneously with the American report, the Chinese government publication Global Times published an interview with a professor at Cornell University John Hopcroft, which called on the United States to come to terms with the loss of leadership in artificial intelligence. They say that China has a population four times larger, and the level of university entrants is higher.
In this regard, the British revelations look like a knight’s move. They say that we will not compete so much in the field of technology as cut off sources of funding for opponents. And then follows a list of successful operations against terrorists in the Middle East who could not receive remittances from their comrades from abroad, nor could they buy weapons or chemicals to convert oil into fuel.
But what can be done against such large states as Russia and China? And the main thing is that Moscow and Beijing will be able to oppose the West in the new field of an undeclared but obviously long-running hybrid war?
Mikhail Aleksandrov, leading expert of the Center for Military-Political Studies at MGIMO believes that Russia and China will be able to effectively counter the attempts of the British to strike in the financial sphere:
– As with ISIS, it will not work with Russia and China. To obstruct legal activity, state sanctions are needed, otherwise you can get yourself sued.
It is possible to use the tool against Russian companies under sanctions that are trying to buy something in the West. But these businesses and their transactions are already tightly controlled.
The vulnerability is that the British will be able to track the withdrawal of capital and foreign accounts of Russian businessmen and officials. You can track transactions, and then blackmail people and persuade them to work for themselves. I think that the British have been doing this before, but now they are stepping up this work.
They have now specifically announced this in order to scare our officials and businessmen, who do not fully understand what they can get involved in.
On the other hand, this is even better for Russia. If anyone comes across to the British from the Russian defense sphere, then this information about such an initially rotten person will be valuable to us.
“SP”: – Can the banking department plan to undermine the exchange rate of the national currency or the price of shares of Russian enterprises, more large-scale financial operations to destabilize?
– For large-scale operations like a currency collapse, there must be agreement between states at the government level. Western banks should get involved. This cannot be done by one department under the Ministry of Defense. This can only be done by an association like the NATO alliance.
“SP”: – Propaganda plays an important role in hybrid warfare. Its financing can be cut off.
– It is impossible to close financial flows just like that. This is the US government, for example, must decide to ban transactions from RT. But the Americans know that in return we can close their publications, which we still tolerate at home. In the modern world, it is impossible to cut off all sources of information and shut down.
Russia needs to prepare for a long and difficult propaganda war. We need a special body for information war. For example, for Stalin there was an Information Committee, it worked perfectly, conducted propaganda and counter-propaganda activities. Then he dispersed Khrushchev, and we began to lose in the ideological struggle.
It would be nice to revive such a special committee for information. Using such modern technologies as the Internet and satellite television, they could influence the international information agenda no worse than the West.
“SP”: – Does Russia need to create something like the British banking department under the Ministry of Defense?
– I think there is a similar department in Russia. He is engaged, as I assume, to a greater extent in counterintelligence activities, that is, he tracks the transactions of officials and businessmen. To stop illegal operations and recruitment attempts.
As for attempts to influence world finances, Russia practically does not have the necessary infrastructure for this. Russia cannot exert a strong influence on foreign banks and stock exchanges. China has such opportunities. His yuan has become a reserve currency, there is an international exchange in Hong Kong. China can carry out large-scale operations, we can help our neighbor.
* – “Islamic State” (ISIS) was included in the list of terrorist organizations by the decision of the Supreme Court, its activity in Russia is prohibited.