'Highlights stresses!' Putin's powerplay backfires as UK intelligence reveals major flaws

Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has majorly exacerbated an approaching global food shortage already made difficult by climate change and the breakdown of supply chains following the Covid pandemic.

In response to growing fears of a global crisis, Russia has offered to allow food to pass through the key trading zone of the Black Sea, if the West eases their brutal sanctions on the country.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Andrei Rudenko also requested Ukraine de-mine the area to allow this to happen.

But the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has seen straight through the ploy, arguing it actually highlights the “stresses” Russia is under after the West’s reaction.

An Intelligence update from the MoD stated: “On May 25, Russia’s deputy foreign minister Andrei Rudenko said Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food through the Black Sea in return for the lifting of sanctions.

“The minister also requested Ukraine de-mine the area around the port of Odesa to allow the passage of ships.”

It goes on to detail how the request to de-mine echoes a common strategy used by Russia to distort information.

This is a system by which the Kremlin releases multiple alternative narratives to a situation, making it hard for audiences to pick apart the fact from the fiction.

For instance, in the wake of the 2018 Salisbury poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, Russian officials and media released over 20 contradicting narratives about the reason for their near-deaths.

The MoD said: “Rudenko’s request for Ukraine to de-mine follows a core tenet of modern Russian messaging strategy: introducing alternative narratives, however unconvincing, to complicate audiences’ understanding.

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“In this instance, Ukraine has only deployed maritime mines because of the continued credible threat of Russian amphibious assaults from the Black Sea.

“Russia has demonstrated it is prepared to leverage global food security for its own political aim and then present itself as the reasonable actor and blame the West for any failure.”

The attempt by Russia to focus attention on Ukraine’s use of mines may be to distract from reports of Putin’s forces deploying highly controversial anti-personnel mines themselves.

Ukraine’s Deputy Interior Minister Meri Akopyan estimated that roughly 300,000 square kilometres of territory have been contaminated with explosive devices.

The type of land mines designed to kill people have been outlawed by most countries.

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The Ottawa Convention, banning their use, has been signed by more than 160 countries, including the UK – although not including Russia, the US and China.

Anti-vehicle mines of the type deployed around Odesa by Ukraine, are not considered illegal, however.

The MoD added: “Russia’s attempt to achieve a reduction in the severity of international sanctions also highlights the stresses sanctions are placing on the regime.”

Prices of consumer goods in Russia have soared, with the inflation rate in the country hitting 17.8 percent last month before dipping slightly.

Russia is also suffering from the cutting down of their highly profitable energy sector as many Western countries look to different ways to source their gas.

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