The Telegraph: the Russian mission to aid Italy is a cover for intelligence gathering

The Telegraph: Российская миссия по оказанию помощи Италии - это прикрытие для сбора разведданных

“The Russian military mission, which is in Italy, presumably to help combat the crisis of coronavirus, is to secretly gather vital intelligence, warned on Thursday the British expert. The team, consisting of more than 100 Russian military, including experts on chemical and biological warfare, arrived in Italy last week with their equipment, which was printed inscription “From Russia with love,” reports The Telegraph.

“However, this mission has caused suspicion in the Italian political and military circles, and sources told Italian media that “80%” of the equipment, imported by Russians in the massive transport planes is “useless” and is used as a pretext to interfere”, – the newspaper writes.

“One of the UK’s leading experts on chemical and biological warfare said that it is likely that contingent includes military intelligence officers from the GRU, the Russian equivalent of MI-6. According to him, they use the deployment to Italy as an opportunity to gather information about everything from the military to the Italian transport system,” – says The Telegraph.

“As if they have suddenly happened all the Christmas holidays at once, said Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, the former commander of the British Regiment of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear protection.- It would be naive to think that they do not collect intelligence. For them it is an open goal.”

“According to him, he thought it strange that the Italian government has allowed this deployment. “Unbelievable that the Russians are allowed to enter the country, NATO is at an extremely excessive basis,” he told The Telegraph. The Italians had little need of additional chemical, biological and radiological resources, he said. “They are leaders in the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons in NATO and in the EU. They are considered the gold standard, and they have great potential. I don’t think they need the party’s aging Russian equipment,” said de Bretton-Gordon, who left the British army in 2012 at the rank of Colonel.

“The fact that the mission is headed by General Sergey Kikot, as suspicious. “Usually if we talk about the mission of 100 soldiers or so, I expect it will command a major or at most a Colonel. The fact that it is commanded by “two-star” General, appears to be a bust,” he said.

“Since Russia is not much affected by virus, Moscow uses the vulnerability of the West. “The Russians are great at it. While on your left a big noise, you’re doing something right when nobody’s looking” – he said.

The newspaper reminds that “after the conclusion of the agreement between the Prime Minister of Italy, Giuseppe Conte and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 15 military transport aircraft Il-76 landed at a military air force base South of Rome. Unloaded the cargo, a column of the Russian trucks with Russian flags went North to Lombardy, the most affected region of Italy. The Russian defense Ministry has not released a full list of supplies sent to Italy, but said that they included a mobile laboratory for testing for viruses, disinfecting equipment and unnamed equipment designed to “help patients with the coronavirus”.

“In addition to the General Kikot, who worked on responding to outbreaks of anthrax, the group includes Colonel Gennady Eremin, an expert on bacteriological war, worked on the crisis, swine flu, and the Colonel Vyacheslav Kulish, an expert on protection against biological agents,” writes The Telegraph.

“The Russians might also try to learn more about the deadly nature COVID-19, to better fight the virus in their own country, says Germano of Dottori, Professor of strategic studies at Free international University of social Sciences Guido Carli in Rome. “For Russia, this mission is aimed at clarifying the circumstances,” he said.