A military expert on jihadist terrorism who has repeatedly expressed sympathy for Russia may soon head the Spanish prime minister’s top advisory body on national security issues. The position comes with powers over cybersecurity, maritime safety and immigration, among others.
“Which country has everything that we lack? Russia does. We will not gain anything by provoking Russia. So Russia wants to have its own sphere of influence? Of course it does, just like the United States or China do. It also wants to have its markets and like-minded countries nearby.”
This is one of the statements made to a digital daily a year ago by Army reserve colonel Pedro Baños, who is likely to become the new Director of National Security in the Pedro Sánchez administration. The executive is currently considering Baños’ resume and could confirm the appointment later today, according to several government sources.
Baños is a regular presence in the media, contributing frequently to the Spanish branch of RT, a media outlet funded by the Russian government, as well as to its sister agency Sputnik. Both of these news organizations have denied the existence of a Russian disinformation campaign in connection with the Catalan crisis, despite reports to the contrary by intelligence services in Spain, Germany and the US.
He has also appeared on the Spanish television program Cuarto Milenio (Fourth Millenium), a popular show exploring subject matter that ranges from history and zoology to ufology and parapsychology.
Baños also uses social media to express his views, describing himself on his Twitter account as an “analyst and speaker on geopolitics, strategy, defense, security, intelligence, terrorism and international relations.”
In November of last year, he tweeted about a GIS Reports survey showing a domestic popularity rating of 74% for Russian President Vladimir Putin: “Wouldn’t we love to have a political leader half as popular right here in the European Union!!!” he wrote at the time.
In a tweet about the US, Baños said: “It is not unlikely that Trump will establish a bilateral agreement with Putin, bypassing a Europe that would pay for its mistake in drawing away from Russia.”
Other tweets stated: “The media war, and between the US and Russia, is so intense that it is increasingly difficult to know what’s really going on in the Syria war;” “I agree that Europe cannot draw away from Russia, but must rather be its natural complement;” “Sometimes I find it hard not to believe in conspiracy theories;” and: “As a military official from a country that is part of NATO, I cannot give an opinion. But I do believe that Europe has lost an opportunity with Russia.”
On Thursday, Baños sent out a tweet about his nomination to head the national security advisory agency. “There is no confirmation yet. But as a military official, I always stand ready to serve Spain and Spaniards in whatever role is assigned to me. And it would be a tremendous honor to do so in a position of such responsibility.”
On Sunday, Baños was one of the authors signing books at the Madrid book fair the Feria del Libro. In Así se domina el mundo (or, How the world is dominated), he offers a pessimistic analysis of world politics: “There is nothing more hypocritical or cruel than international politics, because everything that is designed and carried out within its scope is based exclusively on each country’s own interests.”
English version by Susana Urra.