The Russians call it “kombinatsiya”


Over at the Observer, former National Security Agency analyst and counterintelligence officer John Schindler breaks down for the layman the Russian terms for the espionage operation that has engulfed President Trump and his inner circle.

As he writes, the fallout from Moscow’s spy-game shows no signs of letting up, and so it behooves us to learn a little bit about what it looks like and to understand how it works.

As the Trump administration’s Russia problem shows no sign of going away, protesting presidential tweets notwithstanding, it’s time to think about it properly. Understanding what the Kremlin’s up to helps to see the big picture. This means learning a bit of spy lingo. Espionage, like everything else, has its own culture—including special verbiage—which varies from country to country.

N7J0179 - Duckies Awards Web Badges-2Russia’s espionage culture is unique and in key ways markedly different from how Western countries approach the spy-game. It’s a product of the Soviet secret police, that brutal and cunning force, and it’s no accident that Vladimir Putin’s spies proudly call themselves Chekists today to commemorate them—just as they did in the days of the KGB. “There are no ‘former’ Chekists,” as the KGB veteran Putin has stated, and this attitude permeates his Kremlin.

From provokatsiya (provocation) to dezinformatsiya (disinformation) and aktivniyye meropriyatiya (active measures), Schindler explains the kombinatsiya (combination of techniques) that makes up the tangled ties between the 2016 election, TeamTrump, and the Kremlin.

With a former National Security Advisor (Mike Flynn), a former Trump campaign manager (Paul Manafort),  a long-time Trump confidant, personal advisor, and notorious political dirty-trickster (Roger Stone), a former Trump campaign national security aide (Carter Page), the current Attorney General (Jeff Sessions), and now a top White House advisor (Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner) all implicated in questionable contacts with and connections to Russian figures tied to the Kremlin and/or Russian intelligence agencies, Schindler’s piece is a must-read.