Steele, who reportedly led the Russian intelligence operations for MI6 before his fervent partisanism forced him out, was invited to speak with BBC over the weekend.
The leading British network asked him to weigh in on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, even though his most recent work—the Steele dossier—was discredited during a thorough U.S. investigation into his sources.
BBC host Michael Buerk even noted during his introduction of Steele that the agent had been “at the center of the controversy over the Trump campaign’s alleged connections with Russia,” but noted that would not be “our focus tonight.”
Throughout the segment, Steele opined about Russia without once being asked about his Russian sources or his former boss, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska.
Steele was working for Deripaska, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, when he began spying on former president Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. In fact, Deripaska paid Steele to investigate former Trump campaign associate Paul Manafort because he believed Manafort stole millions from him.
The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded in 2020 that Steele’s relationship with Deripaska “provided a potential direct channel for Russian influence on the dossier” used by the intelligence community to launch its investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Rather than being asked about Deripaska, however, Steele was asked in the BBC interview whether Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was “inevitable.”
“I don’t think it was inevitable,” Steele replied.
“I think if you look back to the, if you like, the founding of this Putin regime, which was quite likely based on similar type of tactics that we’re seeing there in Ukraine—disinformation, false flag operations—it was clear that this was a gangster regime pretty much from the get-go,” Steele continued. “But we didn’t really have the imagination or the determination to call it out.”
This was Steele’s first television interview since an October 2021 interview with ABC News, when he defended his debunked dossier and claimed he was not worried about being indicted by special counsel John Durham. He did, however, acknowledge that “there is a chance” his dossier included Russian misinformation.