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Turn to the West, military bases and Erdogan's trail: Why Zelensky met with head of British intelligence

Author : Oleksandr Kharchenko

Source : strana.ua

The very fact of the meeting of the head of an independent state with the head of foreign intelligence is extremely surprising from the point of view of diplomacy. And it is doubly scandalous that Zelensky tried to keep this fact a secret
11:27, 22 October 2020

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky
Official website of the President of Ukraine

A very remarkable meeting was almost left behind the scenes of Zelensky's trip to London: the President of Ukraine met with the head of British intelligence MI6, Richard Moore.

Information about this was published in the media, after which Zelensky was forced to confirm it.

The very fact of the meeting of the head of an independent state with the head of foreign intelligence is extremely surprising from the point of view of diplomacy. And it is doubly scandalous that Zelensky tried to keep this fact a secret.

Moreover, after the president's trip to London, his policy underwent important changes. The president's office has put forward several initiatives that clearly play in favor of Western interests.

So why Zelensky met with the head of intelligence?

A secret meeting

On October 12, Mirror of the Week reported that Zelensky had met with the head of MI6.

"Whitehall (British government - ed.) instructed to convey to the Ukrainian president messages that Johnson (British Prime Minister, - ed.) did not want to voice for a number of reasons," the source told the newspaper.

The meeting was allegedly attended by the head of the SBU, Ivan Bakanov. According to the media, three main topics were discussed:

1. Attacks by the Ukrainian authorities on anti-corruption bodies in Ukraine and the desire of the President's Office to take control of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office, National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, the Office of the Prosecutor General, as well as the courts.

2. The situation in Donbas and Russia's actions.

3. Zelensky's entourage, not only official, but also informal, with significant influence on the president. Moreover, the publication indicated that this issue is also related to Russian topics. That is, presumably, the British special services suspect that Russia is influencing Zelensky's encirclement.

The next day, the president confirmed that such a meeting had taken place. But, in fact, he denied that Bakanov was there.

"We had a meeting in the MI6 office. Unfortunately, I cannot voice all the information. That is, these are state affairs. I read what they write about the composition of this meeting. Firstly, there was a different composition", said Zelensky.

Also, according to him, the issue that, according to the Ukrainian media, was allegedly raised at this meeting, in fact, was not considered at all (though he did not indicate which of the three).

"Of the entire volume of questions from our long two-hour meeting, most were information about helping and protecting our sovereignty and territorial integrity. I cannot spread the details," Zelensky admitted.

According to him, one of the topics was countering disinformation and fake news.

“They just said that we have a big problem with the fact that the media are funded not only by Ukrainians. That in Ukraine, unfortunately, many of the TV channels that we know are funded by various groups,” the president said.

It should be noted that in Ukraine there really are mass media that are openly funded not only by foreigners, but also by foreign states. For example, Radio Liberty. And also media projects that live on grants from Western embassies.

But it is unlikely that the threat from their side was discussed at the meeting of the head of MI6 with Zelensky. Rather, they discussed opposition channels owned by Medvedchuk's associate Taras Kozak (Zik, 112, NewsOne). They are constantly accused of allegedly being financed by Russia, which the channels themselves call a lie and an attempt to justify the pressure of the authorities.

Another interesting point about the meeting - it was held in the MI6 office on Prince Albert Embankment in London, which is directly stated on Zelensky's website.

That is, the Ukrainian president not only held an unofficial meeting with British intelligence officers, but also went to them himself. Which is a diplomatic humiliation for the status of the head of state.

Such a meeting, if it was vital, could take place somewhere on neutral territory and as part of delegations. Ideally, only Ivan Bakanov, a person of equal rank, should have met with the head of MI6 (or, as it is officially called, SIS).

An interesting fact is the leak of information about the meeting.

Obviously, the Ukrainian side was completely uninterested in the publicity - this greatly damages the president's image. Therefore, it is possible that the data came from the British side. Or, which is more likely, the British informed their American partners about the meeting, and they informed the journalists and activists in Ukraine, with whom they traditionally work.

One way or another, the West organized the leak. Below we will analyze why.

Moore. Richard Moore

Britain's chief intelligence officer Richard Moore is a remarkable personality. He is the namesake of one of the actors who played James Bond. He himself often joked about his alleged kinship with the movie Bond - Roger Moore.

"Here I am with Uncle Roger" - such photos Moore published on his Twitter.

Richard Moore
Open source

Although, of course, the MI6 chief should rather be associated not with Bond, who was an operative agent, but with his boss, the mysterious "M".

Moore took over as head of SIS just a few weeks ago. Prior to that, he worked in the British Foreign Office, where he served as Director of General Political Affairs.

Foreign intelligence MI-6 is generally listed as a structural unit of the British Foreign Office. The head of this department is appointed by the head of the Foreign Office with the consent of the Prime Minister.

Moore is a career intelligence officer previously educated in philosophy and political economy at Oxford.

Richard was born in Libya, spent his childhood in Moscow. His parents also worked in foreign policy (his father was a career diplomat). On his Twitter account, the current chief British intelligence officer recalled his Moscow childhood.

“It was great to return to Moscow for the first time since 1968. I lived here as a little boy. My first memories are connected with life in Russia,” he wrote in 2019.

He has been with SIS since 1987, and he works as an intelligence officer under the legal cover of a diplomat. He worked a lot in Asian countries and Turkey. From 2014 to 2017 he was the Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Ankara (that is, he did not formally work for MI6).

Related: Zelensky signs law on intelligence

Richard Moore is fluent in Turkish and even has a Twitter account. British media write that during his work in Turkey, the ambassador has established friendly relations with President Recep Erdogan. And he even advised the government to support him during the coup in Turkey.

Also, in different periods, Moore held high positions in the headquarters of the Foreign Office. From the personal life of the head of SIS, a remarkable fact is known that he married a blind woman.

Moore has two children.

The Foreign Office website writes about Moore's hobbies: "Richard's interests include golf, hiking, scuba diving, Turkish rugs and china, and visiting historic sites." It is also known that Moore is a fan of the Turkish football club Besiktas.

Journalists spoke about Moore with British journalist James Gant, who specializes in security topics.

"This is a former ambassador to Turkey, a career diplomat and intelligence agent. By the way, he became the first intelligence officer to openly tweet, also with emoticons. And the Turkish Hürriyet even named Moore one of the three most influential bloggers of the year in the country," Gant told. - Moore advocates closer ties with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, including so that he could use him to put pressure on Russia. And since his work as chief intelligence officer begins in a period of heightened tensions between Russia and the West, in particular, because of the story of Navalny's poisoning, the Russian issue will become one of the main issues for him. In addition, Moore is deeply familiar with the topic of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, he has connections with the Azerbaijani elite. "

"Attempt to intimidate". What could Ze have discussed with Moore?

British journalists call the occasion of the meeting of the chief of intelligence with the president of another state exceptional.

“Cases of meetings between the head of British intelligence and a foreign head of state are very rare. And usually we talk about something exceptional,” British expert Irina Martin tells. “I can assume that the meeting was about the strategic position of Ukraine, sandwiched between Russia and Europe in order to prevent Zelensky and the team from wanting to turn towards Russia. It's one thing when Johnson voices this, quite another when the head of British intelligence. It looks like an attempt to intimidate. "

British journalist Olivia Crelin also says that none of the world leaders have met in such a format with the head of SIS.

“This meeting is unique in itself, I don’t remember that the head of British intelligence met with the head of state. This is not the competence of him, but the prime minister (also the leaders of states meet with members of the royal family). We could talk about relations between Ukraine and Russia, the conflict in Donbas is what first of all worries about London, as well as about the internal situation in Ukraine, about the opposition to Zelensky and the role of the media in Ukraine," Olivia told.

Ukrainian political scientist Vadym Karasev believes that, in addition to "recommendations", British intelligence officers could provide Zelensky with some information on issues of interest to him. Including to help him make certain decisions.

“I don’t believe in the version that appeared in the media that the main topic for discussion of Zelensky with MI6 was Yermak and his Russian connections. Most likely, he received inside information about who finances Ukrainian opposition politicians. Another topic is Kolomoisky. Most likely, Zelensky was advised to distance himself from Kolomoisky, given the FBI case against him in the US. Separately, they could discuss the situation in the former Soviet republics - in Belarus, which is of particular concern to Britain (Zelensky could have been given predictions about the stability of Lukashenko's power), as well as the conflict in Nagorny Karabakh in the format Azerbaijan - Armenia - Russia - Turkey. Zelensky needs this information in order to know how to react to the situation in Belarus and Nagorno Karabakh," Karasev said.

A source close to the president's entourage says that even in a narrow circle, Zelensky does not spread in detail about the content of the conversation.

“When the first information about this meeting appeared, many people were convinced that this was a fake launched by the NABU support group. And therefore they were very surprised when the president confirmed the fact of the meeting. According to the information circulating in the President’s Office, Moore told Zelensky that relations between the West and Russia are deteriorating and, as they say, “tough years are coming.” Therefore, he needs to cleanse the environment of people who have suspicions of ties with Russia, and also to do something with the Ukrainian media, which the West believes are pro-Russian. But in fact, this is just one of many such conversations that Western representatives are now having with Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders, who are concerned that the negative trend towards external governance is growing in Ukraine and the mood of reconciliation with Russia is growing. And the West is very worried that Zelensky cannot break this trend, and therefore requires more stringent actions from him. For this, they even organized a meeting with Moore, in order to scare him with the authority of powerful intelligence, "the source says.

What has changed after Zelensky's meeting with Moore

One way or another, but after returning from London, Zelensky took a number of steps.

The first is the anti-corruption vertical. There is no doubt that this issue has been raised. Zelensky was "interrogated" on this score even by the British journalist Stephen Sakur, who is far from Ukrainian realities.

It's no secret that Zelensky is trying to control NABU and SAP - two departments that are "sharpened" to fight top corruption.

Both are in Western orbit. But after the resignation of the special prosecutor Nazar Kholodnitsky, the Rada began to look for a replacement for him without the consent of foreigners, which caused outrage in the embassies. And recently, a decision was pushed through the Constitutional Court that Artem Sytnik was illegally appointed director of NABU. Moreover, the court is now considering another case - on the recognition of the Supreme Anti-Corruption Court as unconstitutional. If there is a positive verdict on it, then this can completely destroy the entire anti-corruption vertical, which is precisely "closed" by the anti-corporeal court.

However, after Ze's trip to London, the President's Office released information to its MPs, which says that Sytnik's resignation will not solve anything and, on the contrary, it is necessary to add powers to NABU. That is, the reversal is extremely remarkable. Although it is still impossible to say unequivocally that it is final. We can also talk about a tactical retreat so that at this stage not to anger the West too much.

The second is the National Bank. After Ze's trip to Britain, the dismissal of the first deputy chairman of the NBU, Ekaterina Rozhkova, and the deputy head of the bank, Dmytro Sologub, fell through. These are Poroshenko's last cadres in the National Bank, appointed, among other things, "on a quota" basis by the IMF.

In early October, they expressed distrust to both, and on Friday a meeting was to be held where they were going to be removed from their posts. But suddenly this meeting was canceled.

That is, with the dismissal of Rozhkova, the power surrendered. Although earlier sit tried to actively put the NBU under control and weaken the influence of Western partners on it.

In addition, according to Strana, after Ze's trip to London at closed meetings with the president, they make it clear to everyone that it is necessary to move in the mainstream of the IMF on economic issues.

The third step is the topic of military assistance to Ukraine from Britain and the United States.

For this, Zelensky is promoting the idea of ​​polling the population about the Budapest Memorandum, which was signed by Russia and the indicated countries. In it, they guaranteed Ukraine protection from external aggression in exchange for the surrender of nuclear weapons.

According to one version, Zelensky wants to conduct a survey in order to get some reason to send a request for military assistance to Western countries under this memorandum.

It is obvious that NATO allies will not fight for Ukraine in Donbas. That is, we can talk about the deployment of military bases of Britain or the United States on the territory of Ukraine (which, by the way, was recently mentioned by Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba). But to accommodate foreign military bases, the Constitution needs to be changed. And to justify this, just a survey can come in handy.

The fourth point is Zelensky's visit to Turkey. As stated above, the new head of MI6 specializes in the Turkish topic, he has good relations with Erdogan and proposes to use the Turks to put pressure on Russia.

Therefore, it is natural to assume that he raised the topic of interaction with Turkey at a meeting with Zelensky.

Soon after his visit to London, Zelensky traveled to Istanbul, where he met with Erdogan.

Among other things, they separately discussed the creation of a kind of "Crimean platform" - an international alliance, which, according to Kyiv, can help return Crimea.

"And we hope for a serious role of Turkey in this issue. After all, is it possible to solve something without Turkey in our region? Of course not," Zelensky said.

Turkey's participation in the Crimean Platform is also discussed in a joint statement: "The Republic of Turkey reaffirms its unconditional support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within internationally recognized borders and welcomes cooperation within the framework of the Crimean Platform initiated by Ukraine."

Separately, Erdogan personally stated that he does not recognize the annexation of Crimea.

However, so far it looks like a declaration. But given the active participation of Turkey in the events in Karabakh, it cannot be ruled out that Erdogan will want to take a large-scale participation in Ukrainian military affairs.

Moreover, one of the main topics discussed by the two presidents was the supply of shock drones for the Ukrainian army.

In general, what will happen around the as yet obscure "Crimean Platform" should be closely watched.

In addition, another demonstrative meeting of the President of Ukraine with Patriarch Bartholomew took place in Istanbul.

Zelensky, who had previously abstracted himself from the religious theme, suddenly invited the head of the Church of Constantinople to Ukraine. Which looks like an obviously unfriendly step towards the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. And it shows the course for the return of Poroshenko's policy, with its support for the new Orthodox Church of Ukraine, in the creation of which Western structures took a considerable part.

That is, as we can see, a lot of changes happened after the visit of the President of Ukraine to Britain and a mysterious meeting with the head of MI6.

Moreover, the changes are going approximately in one direction - strengthening Western influence on Ukraine and abandoning attempts to resist external control, which have been undertaken since March this year after the resignation of the Honcharuk government and Prosecutor General Ryaboshapka.

Another question is whether Zelensky will be able (and willing) to fulfill the tasks that the West now sets him. This is still an open question. Especially given the growing public trend of dissatisfaction with external governance.

Related: Spy games under guise of state secrets: How intelligence services supervise 'death squads'?

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