Russian intelligence inciting civil confrontation in Northern Ireland
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Russian special services have launched influence operations in Northern Ireland, aimed at fomenting an internal conflict between Republicans and loyalists. The measures being taken are aimed at provoking civil conflict in the country.
That’s according to Oleksandr Danyliuk, chief of Center for Defense Reforms, coordinator of the interagency platform on countering hybrid threats, operating within the framework of Ukraine-NATO cooperation.
“In Northern Ireland, protests and riots are raging, threatening to escalate into an escalation in confrontation between Republicans and loyalists, exchanging mutual accusations of unleashing the violence. At the same time, the real architects are probably in Russia,” Danyliuk wrote on Facebook.
“I’d like to remind you that in 2018-2019, Russian special services carried out special influence missions on the territory of Northern Ireland aimed at inciting hostility between the said groups, which are also traditionally divided along confessional lines. Republicans are Catholics, while loyalists are Protestants,” the analyst notes.
“According to the investigation run by the Digital Forensic Research Lab, Russian intelligence carried out at least three psy-op interventions to this end: a fake statement by the British Secretary of Defense, Gavin Williams, about the alleged involvement of the Real Irish Republican Army in the Salisbury poisoning, a fake letter from the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Winston Arlene Foster, claiming alleged support for the EU position in the Brexit deal, and an alleged invitation of jihadists to the ranks of the Real Irish Republican Army,” said the CDR chief.
“The Center for Defense Reforms last year published evidence of the efforts by Russian special services to incite civil confrontation in the U.S. Back then, examples were offered of Russian influence toward radicalizing both African-American and ultra-right organizations,” Danyliuk said.
It should be recalled that clashes between loyalist groups with the police and nationalists have continued in Northern Ireland for more than a week. Tensions peaked last Thursday when a mob hijacked and burned a city bus and set fire to the gates dividing the city’s districts. For the first time in six years, the police applied a water cannon and other anti-riot equipment.
Clashes are formally believed to have been caused by loyalists protesting the conditions of the Brexit deal and the lack of reaction on the part of authorities to the moves by nationalists, who, in violation of coronavirus restrictions, held a massive public funeral of one of the paramilitary group leaders.