Rolf Mowatt–Larssen, a former senior CIA operations officer on WMD Risks in Ukraine - Intelligence Matters

This episode of Intelligence Matters features Michael Morell, a former senior CIA operations officer, and senior fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center Rolf Mowatt–Larssen, discussing Vladimir Putin's invasion in Ukraine,

Rolf Mowatt–Larssen, a former senior CIA operations officer on WMD Risks in Ukraine - Intelligence Matters

Russia's potential use of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility of a short-term political solution. Mowatt-Larssen spent a large part of his career in Moscow dealing with WMD terror threats following 9/11. He outlines some of Putin’s most serious miscalculations and his attempts to control Russian domestic narratives. Mowatt-Larssen offers insight into the possible political solutions and how the war may progress from here.


Putin's mistakes: "Putin clearly underestimated Ukraine's resistance and will to resist Russia in any way, as well as the army and capabilities of the Ukrainian military, effectively armed by the West. We are now facing a situation in which he will have to reconsider his military goals. He underestimated the Ukrainians and exaggerated his entire army. This is an intelligence failure of immense proportions for Russian intelligence. We've seen evidence in Moscow that he is trying to punish or hold people responsible for this."

The risk of nuclear conflict: We have to admit, and not to scare anyone, but to be prepared, that the threat to nuclear, tactical, or even greater escalation of the conflict is not zero as we had hoped for over the years. This will be with us after this is over. It's something that will change the way we think about national security and how we work together to prevent nuclear catastrophe.

Controlling domestic stories: "[I]n cities, especially the young generation, i don't believe they're fooled at any point. When young people see Russian propaganda, they don't believe it today. This is despite the fact that it was popular in Soviet times. They were far too sophisticated. The world has advanced rapidly since then. It was 30 years ago. Today's information technology has advanced to the point that people can access alternative news sources, especially if they are seeking the truth. Young people want the truth. They challenge the lies. They see that the entire world isn't jumping on Russia because they are conducting a military technical mission. It seems absurd.


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