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Putin's V-Day Speech Pre-Emptive Ukraine Strike and Spanish Government Fires Spy Chief Paz Esteban

May 5-11, 2022 | Issue 7 - EUCOM

Pètra van de Gevel, Benjamin Brooks, EUCOM Team

Hannah Norton, Editor; Jennifer Loy, Chief of Staff

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Victory Day[1]

Date: May 9, 2022

Location: Moscow, Russia

Parties involved: Russia; Russian President Vladimir Putin; Russian forces; Russian general public; Ukraine; Azov Sea; Donbas region; Crimea

The event: During his Victory Day parade speech, Putin claimed that Russia had to pre-emptively strike Ukraine to avoid an imminent attack on Russia from the West. Putin also claimed that Russian forces were fighting on their territory, despite the conflict reaching deep into Ukraine. The speech focused heavily on Russian action in the Donbas region of Ukraine but did not provide any evidence for the accusations of an invasion of Russia.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • Putin’s focus on the Donbas region very likely suggests Russian presence in the area will increase. Long-term supply routes for logistics and weapons between the Donbas region and Russia will likely be created as a continuous supply of weapons will very likely be needed to occupy the Donbas region. Occupation of the Donbas region will very likely strengthen the Russian occupation of Crimea, very likely enabling Russia to send reinforcements faster. Russia will almost certainly have greater access to the Azov Sea as a result, almost certainly controlling the southeastern coast of Ukraine and further disrupting Ukrainian trade.

  • Russian propaganda will almost certainly continue to focus on its “pre-emptive strike” narrative, likely increasing public support for the Russian government. Russia is very unlikely to end its military operation in Ukraine without gaining control over the Donbas region, likely trying to gain favor with locals by offering them Russian passports and citizenship. Russian propaganda will very likely push a ‘Motherland’ narrative in an attempt to get more people in the Donbas region on Russia’s side.

Date: May 10, 2022

Location: Spain

Parties involved: Spain; Spanish government; Spanish Parliament; Spain’s general public; Spain’s former spy chief, Paz Esteban; The Spanish intelligence agency, The National Intelligence Center (CNI); Catalan independence movement; Catalan leaders; Catalonia's pro-independence party and ally of Spain’s minority government, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC); Spain’s ruling party, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE); Canada’s digital rights group, Citizen Lab

The event: The Spanish government fired Esteban after the CNI faced criticism for reportedly using the spyware Pegasus to inquire about leaders of the Catalan independence movement. Last month, Citizen Lab stated that over 60 people with links to the independence movement, as well as lawyers, journalists, and civil society activists are a target of the software. The ERC said it would no longer back the Spanish minority government in Parliament until measures are taken to restore confidence.[3]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The ERC’s lack of support will very likely result in difficulties passing legislation, as the Spanish government lacks a parliamentary majority. It is almost certain that trust between the PSOE and ERC will decrease, as the ERC very likely believes the surveillance on Catalan leaders was imposed by the PSOE and required government approval. This will very likely negatively impact political dialogue on the Catalan independence dispute, likely deepening divisions between Spain and Catalonia.

  • Trust in the Spanish government will very likely decrease as a result of the spyware scandal. The general public will very likely believe Spain is using Pegasus to track political opponents and to spy on the Catalan independence movement to prevent a new political and territorial crisis in Spain. This will very likely instigate frustration from people who support the independence movement, as they likely believe their leaders are being targeted by the Spanish State, very likely resulting in new independence uprisings in Spain.

________________________________________________________________________ The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)

[2] Vladimir Putin claims Russian troops ‘fighting on their own land’ in Victory Day speech, Financial Times, May 2022,



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