The author is the head of the Center for Financial Crime and Security Crime Studies at the Royal United Services Institute
When Russian forces gathered UkraineAt the border late last year, Western leaders warned that an invasion would have massive economic consequences for the Kremlin. When these deterrence attempts failed and the tanks rolled in, the United States, Britain and the European Union implemented a campaign of coordinated sanctions. While many have questioned the execution and effectiveness of this response, it provides a valuable test case for the power of finance as a state tool.
One of the most obvious examples of how countries use geopolitics funding is economic colonization (the acquisition of overseas industries) as deployed by countries of expansion for centuries. The British Empire was built on financiers and banks backed by the Royal Navy. Recently, China has used it Belt and Road Initiative Provide loans, investments and infrastructure in strategically important countries – such as Guadar Port in Pakistan. In return, Beijing builds debt dependency and guarantees commercial benefits like mining rights.
More cunning than the use of financial sanctions and economic colonization is the increasing use of active financial means by hostile countries. The term “active measures” was coined during the Cold War describe Covert and undeniable political and subversive influence, ranging from disinformation campaigns to staged demonstrations. Recently, finance has become more and more a weapon to achieve this kind of vicious ambitions.
For over a quarter of a century, Moscow and its affiliates have gained influence in open societies through finance. From simply enjoying the security offered by the asset markets and ownership of Western properties, to funding galleries, universities and football clubs, Russia has bought acceptance, influence and closeness to power. Many of these investments are covert, but some are more blatant, such as donations or loans to political parties. Also in the Kremlin financed Civil unrest in the former Soviet republics and engaged in anti-democratic activities such as disinformation campaigns. Recently, these have sought to undermine the efficacy of cobid vaccines made in the US and UK.
Western countries, on the whole, are living up to severe security threats such as terrorism, and are emerging from threats posed by state-supported information warfare systems. But their awareness of the role that finances play is much less developed, making them vulnerable to active financial means.
In recent months, Britain has finally started to plug the many loopholes that have allowed “dirty” money to circulate in the British economy. The government has pledged to bring new legislation that will further strengthen the powers to deal with illegal funding and reduce economic crime.
While reference to criminal activity is clearly welcome, blocking the profits of crime is only part of the problem: it is much more difficult to identify the seemingly “clean” money used for influence purposes. Such investments and contributions are usually beyond the realm of law enforcement and are not on the radar of a financial sector that focuses on the fight against money laundering.
Whitehall apparently aware of the threat: Last year’s defense and security review highlighted the danger of a “test” of hostile states[ing] The border between peace and war “through an economic state, cyber attacks, disinformation and proxy. Most of these activities usually have a financial dimension: identifying and challenging these deals should be a key role of the MI5 team. Fight state threats.
However, some key opportunities are missed. Western democracies represent a significant portion of global finances: London and New York are global financial centers, and the Western Alliance includes nine of the 10 largest global economies. But while countries like China are harnessing their economic power to expand their influence, Britain – despite its glorious post-Brexit trade aspiration – has been in retreat. Its financial impact around the world diminished as British banks reduced their global business, while the government failed to formulate a geo-economic strategy. This goes against the ministers’ ambitions to “plant the British flag on the world stage once again”.
As Russia’s war on Ukraine approaches towards its sixth month, Western countries are still relying on financial measures as a show of force against the Kremlin. This decision must now be implemented more universally by Britain and its allies for deterrence purposes – just as their rivals do.
Britain must raise its defences against weaponised finance Source link Britain must raise its defences against weaponised finance