On 22 May 2022 Twitter’s algorithms recommended me an intriguing tweet about sabotage in Russia:
The possibility of a “#RussianResistance” carrying out acts of arson against military targets is one that I felt an obligation to investigate. Naturally I started by checking out the hashtag. The above tweet was the first result and these ones round out the top ten:
I’ll note here that every one of these mysterious incidents of fire and explosion and train derailment fits with textbook examples of simple sabotage. A literal, actual textbook written for the #FrenchResistance in World War II, the OSS Guide to Simple Sabotage (go find your own copy, it’s been declassified for many years).
The source for seven of the top ten tweets tagged #RussianResistance is Igor Sushko. Who is Mr. Sushko?
What are the FSB Letters? And what is the #WindOfChange hashtag in Sushko’s profile banner?
The #WindOfChange tag also points us to a small Twitter account with only 17 tweets and a familiar banner:
Wind of Change RG appears to have been created after the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war, with its twitter account created two months into the war and only 17 tweets posted (all made on 11 May). The account only follows one person: Igor Sushko. It also uses the #RussianResistance hashtag, which appears in connection with WoC and Sushko so often that one might suspect it to be a social media project of the think tank.
Note that the url for the Wind Of Change website is not found on their own Twitter page. It’s only on Sushko’s profile.
What greets us when we visit WindOfChange.one?
Tucked away in the footer menu is all the actual content. What is inside?
“Read the #FSBletters” leads to https://www.igorsushko.com/, a very professional website for an international relations NGO:
The menu items “Our Mission” and “Support Ukraine” are not actually links. There is nothing on the website saying what WindOfChange actually does.
The FSB Letters
“The Racecar Driver” has 12 videos on his YouTube channel: a ten part series about the FSB Letters bookended by two interviews with the private British broadcaster, LBC.
Curious to know more about the Letters which brought Sushko to the attention of GRU I sat down and listened to “The Genesis of the FSB letters…” in which Sushko narrates the story and importance of the letters.
First, the basics. “Wind of Change” is the codename of an alleged FSB whistleblower. The FSB letters are his half of his correspondence with Russian dissident Vladimir Osechkin. Osechkin was chosen by Wind Of Change because of his work exposing prison abuses through his NGO and through the website Gulagu.net. When Sushko read these letters he understood how important they would be to the western world and set out to translate them into English. His social media presence is the “Wind of Change movement.”
A Ukrainian-American racecar driver is telling us a second-hand story about another guy who is the only source for Russian Q drops. Sounds true!
True enough for corporate media outlets, anyway. Sushko has been interviewed by news media around the world about the FSB letters as if they’re credible. He says Japanese and Taiwanese news interviewed him about “two pen pals writing about this insane stuff” (quoting Sushko). Yet again fake news boosts conspiracy theories 😔
Poisoning the Well
These days, with so much disinformation and propaganda all around us, it is very difficult to know who we can trust to tell us the truth. We are truly blessed to have Igor Sushko and Wind of Change to guide us.
Sushko warns us that Putin is going to “be establishing an alternative international tribunal… A military tribunal … They’re going to systematically start blaming the Ukrainian POWs that they have captured for the killing of Ukrainian civilians.” Whatever comes out of these trials, however horrific or well-evidenced, is going to be completely made up. Don’t trust anything the Russians say!
At 20:30 Sushko tells us why we shouldn’t believe the naysayers about the Wind of Change: he says that the FSB has been waging a disinformation campaign to discredit the FSB Letters. The critics are an op!
Sushko also dismisses any ordinary Russian who might not take the FSB Letters seriously. He says that these letters would mean nothing to the Russian people because they already understand the Russian system by living in it, it isn’t news to them, and it won’t inspire them to rise up and overthrow Putin. He says that the Western world can benefit the most from these letters by learning how the Russian world works.
(Or is it the case that the letters mean nothing to Russians because they don’t actually show how the Russian world works? Or maybe they’re completely unremarkable and only seem to have special insight if you’re totally uninformed? Especially if Sushko preemptively discredits any critics.)
Putin the Hun
Sushko goes on to describe two themes in the FSB Letters. The first is that Putin is emboldened by his belief that the West will not intervene militarily in Ukraine. Sushko says that the only solution is for the West to intervene militarily, inside Russian borders, before Putin rolls over all of Europe.
The second theme is that Putin’s nuclear threats are all saber rattling and not at all serious. Here Sushko portrays Putin’s nuclear politics as very lucid and reasonable: Putin and his circle are NOT psychopaths that want to end civilization, they have people and things that they care about.
With that out of the way Sushko begins to outline all the ways that Putin is a genocidal psychopath. At 25:30 in the video Sushko describes how the tone of the FSB Letters developed over the course of the invasion. Disbelief turns to depression and then to a search for exits when they realize the war is a military disaster.
“They realize that Putin does have a Win, and he does have an Out. … And that is the extermination of the Ukrainian people”
“[Wind of Change] believes beyond any doubt that Putin is following Hitler and Stalin’s playbook. . . You know Hitler and stalin were actually acting quite similarly (Sushko chuckles)“
“He’s going to continue to level city after city after city even if he’s failing on the ground” Putin is going to “continue to bring the Ukrainian people into submission and he doesn’t even care how many of them are left… He doesn’t value human life”
Scary stuff! It’s a good thing that Putin actually does care about human life or else we would have to believe that this genocidal barbarian is serious about using nukes. Because if he was serious about using nukes then a NATO intervention would escalate to the end of humanity. Thank goodness we have Igor Sushko translating the FSB Letters and urging Washington not to be afraid of World War III 😌
At 30:45 Sushko says that “the stuff happening inside Russia confirms Wind of Change.” The FSB letters are said to have a special insight into Russian-ness that Western people and their leaders lack:
“it’s not a shock, what [Putin] has been doing, to people who speak Russian, to people who understand how the Soviet Union worked. It’s a shock to the West.”
Sushko reminds his audience of American liberals that their leaders are not characters in Marvel movies: “who are the western politicians… They’re democracies, they’re people just like you and me. They’re not superheroes.” Remember that your Senators and Congressmen, with their Ivy League degrees, international business connections, and vast state intelligence networks, are just ordinary ignorant Americans like you and me!
According to Sushko he and Osechkin want to provide Western politicians with the “understanding of nuance” of Putinism that they lack. An understanding that is so elusive that literally everyone in Russia already has it. To this end Sushko assures us the FSB letters are totally, for sure, definitely not falsified and no evidence falsifying them exists: “These letters have a lot of predictive power.”
At 37:30 Sushko adds that he is working hand in hand with Osechkin, the original author of the letters — I mean, the original correspondent with Wind of Change — to present the FSB Letters to the western media. Sushko has already been interviewed at least twice by London’s LBC radio which presented him uncritically as an expert on this alleged movement inside the FSB.
After this Sushko does try to explain why the FSB Letters failed to predict Russia’s failure to take Kiev. He says that the FSB Letters, being based on FSB analysis, suffers from the same “flaws of hubris” as the rest of Russian intelligence, which thought the war would be easy.
In other words, disproving the predictions made in the FSB Letters actually proves that the letters are authentic!
Let’s leave with a couple more gems from the Origins video and then you can decide for yourselves what it all means.
At the end of the video Sushko answers questions from his followers. One is discussing the possibility of seeing the FSB letters as Ukrainian disinformation. Sushko simply responds “but that really doesn’t make sense,” says that soon he’ll publish something that answers this once and for all, and then he completely drops the subject.
By the end Sushko concludes that the West must attack Russia in every possible way to break Putin. He notes that destroying the Russian army in Ukraine is not attacking Russia itself, and only with a military assault on domestic Russian targets can the West really protect itself. This is necessary, he says, because Putin has already declared war on the world by invading Ukraine. This demand is also the reason Sushko must downplay the nuclear threats as empty warnings, or else his wished for NATO invasion would trigger an apocalyptic nuclear war.
Should we trust The Racecar Driver’s foreign policy advice? Or have we just succumbed to Putin’s efforts to destroy this man? There’s only one way to find out, and that is WAR!!
[ Featured image from Voice of America. ]