President Vladimir Putin said Western intelligence services have set it as their goal to destabilize Russia especially during upcoming elections, according to the Kremlin’s website.
In a speech Thursday in Moscow before top officials of the Federal Security Service, he said non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and politicized groups will take the lead in this effort.
“[We are seeing that] to attain their goals, Western intelligence services are unceasingly using civic non-governmental organizations and politicized associations, above all to discredit the government and destabilize the domestic situation in Russia, whereby operations are already planned for the upcoming 2016-2018 election campaigns,” Putin told officials of the KGB successor agency, according to a transcript of his speech posted by the Kremlin.
Russia is scheduled to hold parliamentary elections in 2016, followed by a presidential poll in 2018, in which Putin could seek a fourth term as president.
Putin added that for these reasons, “the Russian government will continue to monitor NGOs for their sources of foreign financing, ascertaining that their activities are in line with their statutory objectives, so that we can take steps in response to any violations.”
Lauding the efforts of Russian counter-intelligence services, Putin said that last year alone they helped uncover and thwart the activities of more than 300 spies and agents.
But he said the government is always open to “constructive criticism.”
“We always listen to constructive criticism of the authorities' action or lack of action at any level and this dialogue is always useful and simply necessary,” he said. "But it would be pointless to have debates with those who take orders from an outsider, in the interest of... another country,” he added.
Following protests against his rule in 2012, Putin approved a law requiring NGOs engaged in “political activity” to register as “foreign agents,” and provide regular reports on their work and funding sources.
Putin claimed that a variety of "tools" are being used to "contain" Russia, ranging from "attempts at political isolation and economic pressure" to a large-scale "information war" and the "tools of special services."
He also cited NATO's decision to "ramp up its infrastructure" on Russia's borders, pointing specifically to the Western military alliance's creation of a "rapid reaction force" in Europe.
Putin also condemned what he called "attempts to disrupt nuclear parity," pointing to U.S. plans to create or expand missile defense systems and a worldwide "global strike system" based on precision-guided weapons, and to deploy space-based weapons systems.
He told the FSB that attempts to "frighten" the country "will never succeed," adding that it has always had and will always have "an adequate response" to "all external and internal threats."
The Russian President has more than once expressed concern about the West attempting to orchestrate in Russia a “color revolution” — a reference to popular uprisings akin to those that occurred in Ukraine and Georgia.