Category Archives: Security

Mark Collins – “The fall of Aleppo shows us exactly what we have become”

Terrible Terry Glavin roars his rage; amongst other things he excoriates feckless and irrelevant Canadian word-mongering at the UN General Assembly–an excerpt:

The truth of it is we’d just rather not take the trouble [see end of post]. We aren’t prepared to suffer the sacrifices demanded of the commitments to universal rights we profess, so we absolve ourselves by talking about “the Muslim world” as though it were a distant planet. We talk about Arabs as though they were a different species. It’s easier on the conscience that way.

Between the drooling bigotries of the isolationist Right and the clever platitudes of the “anti-imperialist” Left, the only place left to address the solemn obligations we owe one another as human beings is in negotiations over the codicils of international trade agreements, or in the rituals of deliberately unenforceable resolutions entertained by the United Nations General Assembly.

Just last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and his diplomats conducted just such a ceremony in sponsoring a non-binding General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria, humanitarian aid access throughout the country, and an end to the siege of Aleppo. It passed, 122 to 13. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic coup [and heralded by our government–wowsers: “UN General Assembly calls for action on Syria in Canada-led resolution”].

Canadian Ambassador to the UN Marc-André Blanchard was pleased to claim that the resolution was already having an effect even before it was voted on, because the day before, Russia announced it was temporarily halting its bombing of Aleppo and had even offered to open corridors to allow civilians to flee. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic triumph.

The UN human rights office later announced that it had received credible reports that hundreds of men who crossed into Aleppo’s regime-controlled districts had gone missing…

Whilst Aleppo was falling our government issued this clarion call; one is sure it had Assad and Putin furiously reconsidering their course. Why do we bother with this worthless verbiage?

Canada demands that Assad regime and backers stop violence now and respect human rights in Syria

And if they don’t? Bah and humbug.

The start of a post from April:

The West and the Middle East: No Guts

I wrote earlier:

What to Do About the Bloody Middle East?

Poor bloody locals. If the West is truly willing to sort things out right now, are we then willing to rule–one way or another–for some decades or so to try to ensure things work out wellish? Triple double HAH! Given no willingness for, or today in the West intellectual acceptance of, such a prospect, then let us just face things honestly…

We don’t. Thank goodness we have Mr Glavin.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Advertisements

Mark Collins – South China Sea: Why is USN Admiral Leading on US Policy vs China? Part 2

Further to this post in May, the head of US Pacific Command is at it again, note my italics–one would have thought such statements should be for civilian policy makers (in any event President Trump unlikely to be bothered)–at Defense One’sD-Brief“:

The U.S. will cooperate with China, “but we will be ready to confront when we must,” said PACOM’s Adm. Harry Harris during a speech this morning in Sydney. “We will not allow a shared domain to be closed down unilaterally no matter how many bases are built on artificial features in the South China Sea,” he said. “The U.S. fought its first war following our independence to ensure freedom of navigation. This is an enduring principle and one of the reasons our forces stand ready to fight tonight [emphasis added, talk about robust]”. More here

More here on the South China Sea.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Public Safety Canada’s Emergency Management May Suck

Just read between the bureaucratese at this report, damning stuff. The previous Conservative government cared little for this core federal responsibility; what about the new one? Not a sunny subject. From a January 2016 Public Safety Canada departmental audit:

Internal Audit of Emergency Management Planning: Leadership and Oversight

Executive Summary

Background

Under Section 3 of the Emergency Management Act (EMA [text here]), the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is responsible for providing government-wide leadership and oversight over the emergency management (EM) activities of federal institutions – including their emergency management plans, which include the following instruments:

– Strategic emergency management plans;
– Business continuity plans; and,
– Event-specific contingency plans.

Specifically, the Department is expected to:

– Promote a common approach to EM, including EM planning;
– Establish policies, programs, measures & advice for preparation, maintenance & testing of EM plans;
– Analyze and evaluate plans of federal institutions; and,
– Conduct exercises & provide education & training.

Public Safety Canada exercises its leadership and oversight role in this area through the Emergency Management and Regional Operations Branch (EM&RO [organizational and personnel details here, webpage here]). The Branch has been in existence since 2011 and has, since this time, undergone many changes to its structure, priorities and leadership [emphasis added]. The Branch operates in a complex environment characterized by multiple inter-dependencies, numerous stakeholders with competing priorities and, as noted, change.

EM&RO delivers its mandate through a range of specific programs, implemented by its directorates, which collectively are responsible for policy, planning, program development and regional service delivery. These programs are enabled by a management regime that supports the planning and allocation of resources and the oversight of performance. Collectively, this regime is referred to as a management control framework.

Audit Objective

The audit objective was to provide reasonable assurance that the core management controls in place across EM&RO Branch are adequate and effective to:

– support robust management and decision-making, in compliance with policy and legislation; and,
– fulfill the department’s roles in relation to EM planning leadership and oversight of federal institutions, in accordance with the EMA.

Summary of Findings

The point of departure for this audit was an examination of the EM&RO management control framework, which collectively provides a foundation for good management, program integrity and results. The audit noted positive efforts to strengthen governance through the establishment of formal management committees and through the introduction of strategic planning. While positive, the audit also noted that more deliberate and cohesive policy dialogue on the tenets and principles of EM as well as the roles and focus of EM&RO is needed to focus the directions of the Branch [emphasis added].

This, coupled with needed improvements to the planning and performance management regime of the Branch will lay a stronger foundation for priority-setting and targeted resource allocation, which were also concerns.

Specifically, the audit found that resource allocation processes are not sufficiently informed by priorities, expected results, risk and past performance. Efforts to enhance these mechanisms will have positive impacts, particularly given the current fiscal challenges being faced by the Branch. Finally, the audit noted that stronger leadership, including communication and management unity is needed to support the improvements in the formal controls.

The second major line of enquiry of this audit related to the adequacy and effectiveness of the practices that Public Safety Canada has in place to lead federal institutions in the discipline of EM Planning, as well as the mechanisms they have to oversee institutional activities and results, in accordance with Section 3 of the EMA.

Public Safety Canada’s leadership role is effected through the provision of guidance and through the establishment and management of fora for discussion and engagement with federal institutions. The audit found that guidance is provided to institutions in line with the EMA and Federal Policy on Emergency Management; however, opportunity exists to streamline and consolidate guidance, to enhance clarity and reduce unnecessary complexity. The audit also noted that government-wide structures are indeed in place, but, by most accounts, are in need of improvement – both from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective. These structures exist and provide a mechanism for information sharing from Public Safety Canada to federal institutions. However, in their current form and use, there is not a sufficient forum for substantive, government-wide engagement, direction-setting or signals-checking for matters related to EM Planning [emphasis added].

The Department exercises its oversight role through a variety of monitoring activities, including the assessment of institutional Business Continuity Plans, Strategic Emergency Management Plans and through National Exercises of selected contingency plans. The audit found that the monitoring of federal institutions’ EM planning is done in a fragmented and, in some cases, insufficient fashion [emphasis added]. Opportunities exist to strengthen the monitoring mechanisms by reinstating the assessment of business continuity plans, enhancing the robustness of methodologies, and examining opportunities for more streamlined and internally cohesive approaches.

In examining the national exercise program, the audit found that the national exercise calendar is developed, but concluded that the process for its development is not robust enough to ensure all necessary inputs are considered, particularly threat information [emphasis added]. As well, we identified opportunities to strengthen internal and external coordination and dialogue around the calendar’s development.

In light of the noted weaknesses in the monitoring of federal institutions, we are concerned that the Department does not have sufficient or effective mechanisms to appropriately gauge the readiness of federal institutions in the face of emergencies. As well, lack of monitoring limits the Department’s ability to gain insight into the strengths and challenges within federal institutions which itself should inform Public Safety Canada’s directions, policy and guidance [emphasis added].

Audit Opinion

In my opinion, the governance, risk management and controls in this area of departmental activity are not yet in a sufficient enough state of maturity to provide reasonable assurance that the objectives of Public Safety Canada will be achieved [emphasis added]. Opportunity exists to build on existing practices, some of which are already being enhanced, and to strengthen the adequacy (design) and effectiveness of internal controls…

Feel confident in the feds if a balloon really goes up? I had some experience with emergency preparedness and management with the Canadian Coast Guard; my confidence in things today is minimal. The country needs a single, dedicated, emergency agency, not a part (whose personnel are public servants coming in and out as they try to climb the greasy pole) of a department with many other difficult–and sexier (terrorism!)–responsibilities.

The feds, when I was on that job, once had such agency (scroll down here to “CANADIAN INITIATIVES”, cf. on a much smaller scale the US FEMA). But, for reasons I have never understood, our Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness was abolished soon after having been transferred (p. 3 PDF) to Public Safety Canada from National Defence in 2003. Its functions were then assumed within and as part of the broader bureaucracy. Not a good recipe for focus and success.

The government at the top of the Canadian food chain does not like thinking about, nor planning and paying for, emergency preparedness and response (hey, no Katrina here just that pesky 1998 central Canadian ice storm–where are the votes, eh?). So how much long-term dedication developing subject expertise might one expect from those greasy pole-climbing bureaucrats now on the, er, emergency job?

Related and very relevant at Public Safety Canada:

Canadian Government’s Crisis Ops Centre Sucks

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – PM Justin Trudeau Makes Foreign Policy’s “leading global thinkers of 2016”

I guess the world does need more Canada; who’d a thunk him, eh?  The prime minister is in “the decision-makers“.  I didn’t notice any Canadians in the other categories.
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Canadian Government’s Crisis Ops Centre Sucks

No other way to put it, note main software UNCLASS only. The previous Conservative money wouldn’t put needed money into a core federal responsibility; will the current Liberal one?

Government crisis response centre outdated, inefficient and understaffed, audit warns
Facilities housing federal nerve centre deemed to be ‘inadequate’ and unable to handle multiple events at once

The federal government’s crisis response centre is outdated, understaffed and “inadequate” for co-ordinating emergency situations such as national security threats or natural disasters, a new audit warns.

In 2015, the Government Operations Centre (GOC [webpage here]) was called on to triage more then 5,000 incidents. Of those, more than 500 were deemed to be of national interest, requiring a risk assessment, planning and co-ordinated response, making it a vital nerve centre.

But a Public Safety Canada audit found persistent problems — even after a 2010 review revealed “widespread confusion and uncertainty” about the operation centre’s mandate and its ability to fulfil its role.

The latest audit assessed the policies, processes, controls and protocols the GOC uses to respond to and manage emergency events ranging from flooding and industrial accidents to acts of terrorism and cyber events. It was completed in October 2016 and recently published online.

Nerve centre relied on dubious reports
Government ops centre lacked staff, tech help
Crisis centre communications on day of Ottawa shooting

People interviewed for the audit identified challenges with communications, outdated technology and the ability to staff up quickly, the so-called “surge capacity” required to respond to emergencies.

But the interviewees cited the current physical infrastructure — the building, its fixtures, equipment and utilities systems — as posing the greatest risk.

‘Inadequate’ facilities, operational risks

Despite a long-identified need and business case for a new location, the review found the Government Operations Centre remains in facilities “that have been deemed to be inadequate.”

“From an operational perspective, the principal risk to the operation centre’s ability to fulfil its mandate is that current infrastructure would likely be unable to support the concurrent management of two or more events,” the report warns.

The audit found outdated technology is hampering work, including the main software system. While it’s intended to help share incident data and information among federal, provincial and territorial operations centres, it is certified only to manage unclassified information [emphasis added]…

Floods, earthquakes, industrial disasters

Under the Emergency Management Act, the minister of public safety takes the lead for emergency management — developing contingency plans for floods, earthquakes and industrial disasters, as well as co-ordinating various departments and providing personnel, goods and transportation for regions affected by an emergency [text from Act here].

Documents obtained by the CBC’s Dean Beeby earlier this year through Access to Information reveal a full cost estimate for constructing a new facility was completed in 2005 by Public Works and Government Services Canada, and updated again in 2009.

Information about which options the department evaluated were redacted.
The documents said the GOC serves as the “all-hazards national warning point” for the Government of Canada and led the response to the 2015 Pan Am and ParaPan Am Games, the 2015 fires in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, the 2014 Ottawa shooting and the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak.

One undated document, stamped “Secret, Advice to the Minister,” issues a warning about the current facility’s ability to do the job.

‘Major corporate risk’

“Over the past four years, the Government Operations Centre’s facility has been identified as a “major corporate risk for Public Safety and poses a risk to the centre’s ability to deliver on its mandate,” it reads.

Management agreed with the latest audit’s findings, and laid out an action plan to improve operational performance, setting target dates for completion in 2017 and 2018. It is not clear if there is a specific plan to relocate.

Public Safety Canada spokesman Kevin Miller said the government is working to improve operations, but did not provide details…

Working how hard? How fast? What funding?

Then there is the troubled Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre, also in Public Safety Canada.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Trump, Russia, NATO and…German Nukes?

Possible disturbing fall-out (pun intended) from The Donald’s election–guess how the Russkies would react to the prospect of Germans with their own, not dual-key American, nuclear weapons (yes Virginia, they’re still there)–at Spiegel Online:

Elephant in the Room
Europeans Debate Nuclear Self-Defense after Trump Win

For decades, American nuclear weapons have served as a guarantor of European security. But what happens if Donald Trump casts doubt on that atomic shield? A debate has already opened in Berlin and Brussels over alternatives to the U.S. deterrent. By SPIEGEL Staff

The issue is so secret that it isn’t even listed on any daily agenda at NATO headquarters. When military officials and diplomats speak about it in Brussels, they meet privately and in very small groups — sometimes only with two or three people at a time. There is a reason why signs are displayed in the headquarters reading, “no classified conversation.”

And this issue is extremely sensitive. The alliance wants to avoid a public discussion at any cost. Such a debate, one diplomat warns, could trigger an “avalanche.” The foundations of the trans-Atlantic security architecture would be endangered if this “Pandora’s box” were to be opened.

The discussion surrounds nuclear deterrent. For decades, the final line of defense for Europe against possible Russian aggression has been provided by the American nuclear arsenal. But since Donald Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States, officials in Berlin and Brussels are no longer certain that Washington will continue to hold a protective hand over Europe.

It isn’t yet clear what foreign policy course the new administration will take — that is, if it takes one at all. It could be that Trump will run US foreign policy under the same principle with which he operates his corporate empire: a maximum level of unpredictability…

what happens if the president-elect has an even more fundamental shift in mind for American security policy? What if he questions the nuclear shield that provided security to Europe during the Cold War?

For more than 60 years, Germany entrusted its security to NATO and its leading power, the United States. Without a credible deterrent, the European NATO member states would be vulnerable to possible threats from Russia. It would be the end of the trans-Atlantic alliance.

Could the French or British Step In?

In European capitals, officials have been contemplating the possibility of a European nuclear deterrent since Trump’s election. The hurdles — military, political and international law — are massive and there are no concrete intentions or plans. Still, French diplomats in Brussels have already been discussing the issue with their counterparts from other member states: Could the French and the British, who both possess nuclear arsenals, step in to provide protection for other countries like Germany?

An essay in the November issue of Foreign Affairs argues that if Trump seriously questions the American guarantees, Berlin will have to consider establishing a European nuclear deterrent on the basis of the French and British capabilities. Germany’s respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, meanwhile, even contemplated the “unthinkable” in an editorial: a German bomb.

‘The Last Thing Germany Needs Now’

Politicians in Berlin want to prevent a debate at all costs. “A public debate over what happens if Trump were to change the American nuclear doctrine is the very last thing that Germany needs right now,” says Wolfgang Ischinger, head of the Munich Security Conference. “It would be a catastrophic mistake if Berlin of all places were to start that kind of discussion. Might Germany perhaps actually want a nuclear weapon, despite all promises to the contrary? That would provide fodder for any anti-German campaign.”

The debate however, is no longer relegated the relatively safe circles of think tanks and foreign policy publications…

Could be a scary new world. By the way, for quite a few years during the Cold War Canadian forces with NATO in Europe also had dual-key nukes–see “The Great Canadian Traditional Peacekeeping Myth vs Nuclear Weapons“. How many Canadians today are aware of that?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – We Have a Winner! RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR: 16 Airbus C295W for $2.4B

Initial cost, after a twelve-year process! Further to this post,

New RCAF Fixed-Wing SAR Plane Choice Real Soon?

a deal at long-last done (note at end of post additional refueling, transport roles which the government does not mention for some reason):

Airbus chosen to build Canada’s new search planes, ending 12-year procurement odyssey
16 Airbus C-295 aircraft announced by ministers, head of air force at CFB Trenton

The Canadian military will receive new fixed-wing search and rescue planes in a two-step procurement that will cost taxpayers $4.7 billion over the next two decades.

The selection of European defence giant Airbus end a 12-year, frustrating odyssey that spans three governments.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, Public Works Minister Judy Foote and the Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Lt.-Gen. Michael Hood, announced the deal at the country’s largest military air base in Trenton, Ont., which is also one of the principal search and rescue stations.

Conservatives made ‘political’ decision to cut military flying time in 2014, Laurie Hawn says

The first phase — with a pricetag of $2.4 billion — involves the purchase of 16 C-295W aircraft modified for search and rescue missions.

A training simulator, to be located in Comox, B.C., and 11 years of in-service support and maintenance [with a Canadian company, see below] will be included.

An additional in-service support program will have to be negotiated with Airbus. That cost is estimated at $2.3 billion.

Taken together, the combined price tag is considerably more than the $3.8 billion approved by the former Conservative government in 2011, and higher still from the original $3.1 billion price tag affixed to the plan when Paul Martin’s government first announced it in 2004.

The turbo-prop C-295 is in use in 15 countries, mostly for military transport but also for maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare…

It was Paul Martin’s Liberal government that started the competition in 2004 [as a “major priority”! see top right here]…

…the first planes are expected to arrive in 2019 and the final delivery will take place in 2022 — 18 years after they were originally ordered [emphasis added, but after procurement intention announced–no order in 2004].

It cannot have hurt Airbus that the C295W has Pratt & Whitney Canada engines whereas the main competitor, the Leonardo-Finmeccanica (company’s new name) C-27J, does not.

Image:

c295w.jpg
Canada Selects Airbus C295W for Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue
Photo Credit: Hand-out / Airbus Defence and Space

From the government’s new release–jobs! jobs! jobs!


Following a rigorous, open and transparent competition, the Government of Canada today announced the awarding of a contract for $2.4 billion to Airbus Defence and Space to replace Canada’s fleets of CC115 Buffalo and legacy CC130 Hercules aircraft. The company has partnered with Newfoundland-based PAL Aerospace for maintenance and support services [emphasis added, PAL website here].The contract will provide a complete, modern and technologically advanced search and rescue solution, including maintenance and support services up to 2043.

As part of this contract, Airbus will provide 16 C295W aircraft, equipped with advanced technology systems, to support Canada’s search and rescue operations, construct a new simulator-equipped training centre in Comox, British Columbia, and provide ongoing maintenance and support services. The contract also includes options to extend the maintenance and support services for an additional 15 years. Should Canada choose to exercise these additional options, the contract value would increase to $4.7 billion.

The new technology being acquired includes state-of-the-art communications systems that will allow search and rescue personnel to share real-time information with partners on the ground. Using integrated sensors, crews will be able to locate persons or objects, such as downed aircraft, from more than 40 kilometres away, even in low-light conditions.

As part of its proposal Airbus Defence and Space has committed to make investments in the Canadian economy equal to the value of the contract, creating and maintaining good middle class jobs. Through Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy [website here], the company will incorporate many of Canada’s leading aerospace firms into its global supply chain and establish strategic partnerships with Canadian companies to ensure the aircraft are supported in Canada by Canadians. This work will help grow Canada’s innovative and strong aerospace sector, while providing well-paying jobs for the middle class and those working hard to join it [emphasis added, last phrase is now really hurl-worthy]…

Related Products

Backgrounder: A modern and effective search and rescue solution for the Canadian Armed Forces 
Backgrounder: Fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft procurement process
Infographic: Procuring Canada’s future fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft 
Infographic: Capability

Associated Links

Public Services and Procurement Canada: Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Aircraft Replacement 
National Defence: Investing in Equipment 
Royal Canadian Air Force:  Search and Rescue Search and Rescue in Canada: A shared responsibility
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada: Industrial and Technological Benefits

And from the Airbus news release–note additional roles near end:


The C295W features substantial Canadian content. Every C295 is powered by Pratt & Whitney Canada engines, pilots and technicians will be trained at a new facility developed by CAE in Comox, BC, and the electro-optical systems for FWSAR will be provided by L3 Wescam of Burlington, ON. In-service support for the life of the program will be provided by AirPro, a joint venture between Airbus Defence and Space and PAL Aerospace of St John’s, Newfoundland. In-service support will be conducted by Canadians in Canada.

[Simon] Jacques [Head of Airbus Defence and Space in Canada] added: “About 20 percent of the aircraft is already Canadian, meaning that it already serves as a global ambassador for the skills, innovation and expertise of Canadians. Now it will get to serve them directly.”

Canada’s C295Ws will be delivered starting three years after contract award. In service, they will join five Airbus CC-150 aircraft used in the air-to-air refueling, transport [emphasis added–why doesn’t the government mention those subsidiary roles?], and VIP travel roles.

When the contract is finalized, 185 C295s will have been ordered by 25 countries…

Something else to keep in mind–the RCAF’s 32 older-model Hercules are being followed-on by just 17 new C-130Js, so the RCAF has always wanted the new SAR aircraft to be able to double when necessary as a tactical transport in order to keep that capability up (see e.g. 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron):


Air force Col. Dave Burt, director of aerospace requirements, said at the time [2004] that search and rescue was the priority, adding that the service wanted “something that is smaller and (more) cost efficient than a Hercules but still has some of the transport-type qualities that a Hercules has.”

Although the aircraft would be used for search and rescue, there may be room to have them perform a secondary role of airlift if that is deemed feasible, Burt added…

Something that has not been mentioned for years for no good reason that I can understand.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – The Russian Way of–Hybrid–Warfare

A very interesting analysis of how the Bear works–both at home and abroad–at War on the Rocks:

Russia’s Hybrid War as a Byproduct of a Hybrid State

Whether or not “hybrid war” is the right term — a battle probably lost for the moment —Russia is indeed waging an essentially political struggle against the West through political subversion, economic penetration, espionage, and disinformation. To a degree, this reflects the parsimonious opportunism of a weak but ruthless Russia trying to play a great power game without a great power’s resources. It also owes much to Moscow’s inheritance from Bolshevik and even tsarist practices. But a third key factor behind it is the very nature of the modern Russian state, as I discuss in my new report, Hybrid War or Gibridnaya Voina: Getting Russia’s Non-Linear Military Challenge Right.

One distinctive aspect of recent Russian campaigns, from political operations against the West to military operations in Ukraine, has been a blurring of the borders between state, paramilitary, mercenary, and dupe. The Putin regime evidently believes that it is at war with the West — a geopolitical, even civilizational struggle — and is thus mobilizing every weaponizable asset at its disposal. This extends to mining society as a whole for semi-autonomous assets, from eager internet trolls and “patriotic hackers” to transnational banks and businesses to Cossack volunteers and mercenary gangsters…

The “hybridity” of Russian operations…reflects a… hybridity of the Russian state. Through the 1990s and into Putinism, Russia either failed to institutionalize or actively deinstitutionalized — however you choose to define it.

Today, Russia is a patrimonial, hyper-presidential regime, one characterized by the permeability of boundaries between public and private, domestic and external. As oligarch-turned-dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky put it:

[W]hat distinguishes the current Russian government from the erstwhile Soviet leaders familiar to the West is its rejection of ideological constraints and the complete elimination of institutions.

Lacking meaningful rule of law or checks and balances, without drawing too heavy-handed a comparison with fascism, Putin’s Russia seems to embody, in its own chaotic and informal way, Mussolini’s dictum “tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato” — “everything inside the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.”..

In Russia, state institutions are often regarded as personal fiefdoms and piggy banks, officials and even officers freely engage in commercial activity, and the Russian Orthodox Church is practically an arm of the Kremlin. Given all that, the infusion of non-military instruments into military affairs was almost inevitable. Beyond that, though, Putin’s Russia has been characterized — in the past, at least — by multiple, overlapping agencies, a “bureaucratic pluralism” intended as much to permit the Kremlin to divide and rule as for any practical advantages. This is clearly visible within the intelligence and security realm, from the intrusion of the Federal Security Service (FSB) — originally intended as a purely domestic agency — into foreign operations, as well as in the competition over responsibility for information operations…

Moscow must also be considered the master of “hybrid business,” of developing illegal and legal commercial enterprises that ideally make money, but at the same time can be used for the state’s purposes, whether technically private concerns or not. Russian commercial institutions not only provide covers for intelligence agents and spread disinformation, but acting notionally on their own initiative, they are also used to provide financial support to political and social movements Moscow deems convenient. For instance, Marine Le Pen’s anti-European Union Front Nationale in France received a €9 million loan from a bank run by a close Putin ally. Similarly, the election of the Czech Republic’s Russophile President Miloš Zeman was partially bankrolled by the local head of the Russian oil company Lukoil — allegedly as a personal donation…

So, it is not simply that Moscow chooses to ignore those boundaries we are used to in the West between state and private, military and civilian, legal and illegal. It is that those boundaries are much less meaningful in Russian terms, and they are additionally straddled by a range of duplicative and even competitive agencies…

Dr. Mark Galeotti is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of International Affairs Prague, and Principal Director of the consultancy Mayak Intelligence. He has been Professor of Global Affairs at New York University, a special advisor to the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office and head of History at Keele University in the United Kingdom, as well as a visiting professor at Rutgers—Newark, Charles University (Prague), and MGIMO (Moscow). Read his new report, Hybrid War or Gibridnaya Voina: getting Russia’s non-linear military challenge right.

Working towards Bad Vlad? Related:

Julian Lindley-French – Closing NATO’s Deterrence Gaps

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Dragon Devouring Eurotech, German Section–Obama Steps In

Further to this post, the outgoing US president gets tough (our PM noticing?):

Obama Moves to Block Chinese Acquisition of a German Chip Maker

The intervention in a Chinese company’s bid to buy a German semiconductor company, Aixtron [website here], comes after Chinese companies have spent billions to acquire technology in Europe and the United States. American officials have increasingly moved to stop such deals, but Chinese companies have shown growing adeptness in getting around those restrictions to strike up relationships that could someday lead to greater access to technology.

A statement from the Treasury Department said the administration blocked the purchase of the American portion of Aixtron’s business because it posed a national security risk relating to “the military applications of the overall technical body of knowledge and experience of Aixtron.”

It wasn’t clear whether other parts of the deal could be salvaged. Officials at the German chip company and its would-be Chinese buyer, the Fujian Grand Chip Investment Fund [website here], did not immediately comment.

By rejecting the deal, the Obama administration showed how far it would go to keep China from using its wallet to acquire sensitive technology from the West. It blocked previous Chinese technology purchases only indirectly, using an advisory panel of government and intelligence officials who can discourage — but not directly kill — foreign deals. That same panel earlier expressed skepticism over the Aixtron deal.

Last year the United States accounted for more than one-fifth of Aixtron’s sales. And nearly one-fifth of its more than 700 employees are based in the United States.

That indirect strategy kept Mr. Obama from looking like a free-trade opponent, especially when the company in question was not American, and softened any potential response from Beijing. But Aixtron and its Chinese suitor tested that strategy by plowing ahead despite the panel’s concerns, forcing Mr. Obama to act…

Related:

Chicom State-Owned Firms’ Investment in US: a Good Thing?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – With Serious Chicom Links: “Influential Chinese-Canadians paying to attend private fundraisers with Trudeau”

Further to the end of an earlier post,

Chinese business leaders laud ‘golden era’ for Canadian relations

Canada, China at dawn of golden decade [at Chicom mouthpiece, Global Times]

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Oh, that cuddly panda.

The Globe and Mail continues its excellent reporting on the Dragon’s influence activities in this country:

The Liberal Party is employing an under-the-radar strategy that taps into the power of Justin Trudeau to generate tens of thousands of dollars from cash-for-access events at the homes of wealthy Chinese-Canadians that provide intimate face-time with the Prime Minister that can be used as business currency at home and in China.

Attendance figures suggest the party collects a minimum of $50,000 per event from donors – and up to $120,000 – in a system that revolves around rich entrepreneurs in Vancouver and Toronto, home to large Chinese-Canadian business communities with people willing to shell out $1,500 per ticket to meet Mr. Trudeau in a private setting.

Some of the guests and hosts at the intimate fundraisers are well-connected to China’s ruling Communist Party…

Related: Trudeau defends fundraiser as effort to attract Chinese investment

Related: Trudeau attended cash-for-access fundraiser with Chinese billionaires

Former Liberal cabinet minister Raymond Chan, who was Mr. Trudeau’s British Columbia fundraiser in the 2015 election campaign, helps with fundraising activities on the West Coast, while Toronto business consultant Richard Zhou is a key organizer of these events in Ontario.

Mr. Chan was at the most recent Trudeau fundraiser, which was held on Nov. 7 at the West Vancouver mansion of B.C. developer Miaofei Pan, a multimillionaire from Wenzhou province who immigrated to Canada a decade ago. More than 80 guests got their pictures taken with Mr. Trudeau at the $1,500 per ticket event, including Mr. Chan.

Mr. Pan told The Globe and Mail he lobbied the Prime Minister to make it easier for well-heeled investors from China to come to Canada. He said he told Mr. Trudeau the program put in place by the former Conservative government was “too harsh.”

In exchange for permanent residency, rich immigrants must invest $2-million and are subject to strict audits…

A Chinese government agency in Mr. Pan’s hometown that builds ties with and keeps tabs on expatriate Chinese, supplied photos of the Trudeau-Pan event to media in China. The Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the Wenzhou People’s Government promotes China’s interests abroad, according to former Canadian diplomat and China expert Charles Burton.

“That is an agency of the Chinese Communist Party,” Mr. Burton told The Globe and Mail. “The fact that the photos appeared in the [Wenzhou Metropolis Daily] in China suggests that the people who participated in that activity must have been tasked by the Chinese state to try and promote the Chinese position with influential people in Canada. In this case, our Prime Minister.”

Mr. Pan is honorary chair of a Chinese-Canadian organization that is an unabashed backer of Beijing’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and East China Sea [emphasis added, see “Ethnic Chinese Abroad: Once a Dragon, Always a Dragon Says Beijing“]…

In Toronto, Mr. Zhou is the chief Liberal ambassador to deep-pocketed Chinese-Canadian business executives. His web biography says he is also a consultant to the state-supervised Beijing International Chamber of Commerce. He did not respond to phone calls or e-mails, but Mr. Caley confirmed that Mr. Zhou is a “volunteer fundraising co-chair in Ontario.”

Mr. Zhou helped arrange a May 19 fundraiser at the home of Chinese Business Chamber of Commerce chair Benson Wong at which Mr. Trudeau was the star attraction, an event attended by Chinese billionaire and Communist Party official Zhang Bin. A few weeks later, Mr. Zhang and his business partner donated $200,000 to the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and $50,000 to erect a statue of Mr. Trudeau’s father…

But nothing to see here, folks. Just move on. Very relevant:

“China’s government is not Canada’s friend”

The Dragon’s Grasp on Canadian Chinese-Language Press…

The Dragon vs the Press: Covert (Canada); Overt (Hong Kong)

How Convenient: “Ontario minister Michael Chan defends China’s human-rights record”

Up-Sucking to the Dragon While Beijing Tries to Devour Canada

Top Dragon’s Anti-Corruption Drive, Chicom Spooks in Canada Section

The Dragon and the Beaver: Ottawa in Cloud Cuckoo Land

To sum it all up:

The Definitive Dragon Trying to Devour Canada Post

Smile!

selfie.jpg
(David Parkins/The Globe and Mail)

Selfie on.

The phrase “useful idiot” almost springs to mind.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds