The Skripal Files by Mark Urban, a review by Philip Ingram MBE
I am an intelligence and counter intelligence expert and have commanded a unit which had a specialist capability trained and deployed to monitor Russian (KGB and GRU) activities as well as others. I know how the Russian intelligence agencies work and have been fortunate to speak with former Russian Intelligence Officers who have defected to the West. I too was a Colonel in Military Intelligence, but British Military Intelligence.
I am also for my sins a CBRN expert having studied chemical defence at degree and masters level. Since the 4th March I have been writing in my blog about the Skripal incident, commenting in the national and international press in all its formats, print, radio and TV on what was going on and my assessment.
I was the first to directly blame the Russian, the first to suggest a thickened Nerve Agent, one of the first to suggest Novichok and the lone voice until Teresa May said it in Parliament and Mark Urban mentioned it in this outstanding book, that said the attack on Sergei Skripal was to send a message.
What Mark Urban has done which is unique is to bring Sergei Skripals character, history and thinking to life because he spent time with him, I never met him, but I feel I know him a little better. Mark has been careful to outline fact and caveat assessment – he makes a call on what probably happened at times, but this is the real world and is how real-world intelligence works and he clearly distinguishes where he has made an assessment.
The Skripal files bring to life in such a realistic way how undeclared intelligence officers operate around the world, no matter what country they are from. His description of the research process and recruitment processes are very accurate, his analysis of the motivations that turned Sergei, fit with what was going on at the time and his description of wider case management is spot on. I have a distinct feeling I know some of the characters he has described, and some quite well.
What is fascinating is the interplay between different spy rings and how easy it is for an agent to be compromised and what happened after Sergei was arrested in a gem of an insight. It would have broken most mortals, and this shows the real strength of character Sergei must have.
I can see the accuracy and analysis in this book has struck a raw nerve with some and Marks description of the Information War is not turning into some ‘individuals’ reviewing his book very negatively. That there is an information war being raged against him and is a sign of how embarrassed the GRU and Russian intelligence organisations are.
Simply put, I can’t recommend this book more highly – my only disappointment is he had a publishing deadline as there is much more to this story that has yet to come, but I can look forward to the sequel.
Note: This review is written by Philip Ingram MBE, a former Colonel in British Military Intelligence, who was based near Salisbury and has assessed Russian activity for many years. If you would like any further comment from Philip, please contact him by clicking HERE
To buy this fantastic book from Amazon Click HERE: THE SKRIPAL FILES