Lithuanian Intelligence: Threats to National Security do not Decrease, New Come to Light

At the beginning of February the State Security Department of the Republic of Lithuania (SSD) and Second Operative Services Department under the Ministry of Defence (SOSD) published a document that makes assessment of threats…

At the beginning of February the State Security Department of the Republic of Lithuania (SSD) and Second Operative Services Department under the Ministry of Defence (SOSD) published a document that makes assessment of threats to the national security of Lithuania. Both intelligence offices introduced such a general report to the public already for the fifth time. Has assessment of threats changed within these five years? Did these threats decline according to the intelligence offices or maybe on the contrary – increased? Has national security of Lithuania faced new challenges within this time? Did forecasts produced in the first report published in 2016 prove out? In order to find answers to all these questions we should compare both documents.
From the mentioned documents we can judge that both five years ago and now the greatest threat to Lithuania still is foreign and security policy pursued by Russia. The first document emphasizes its aggressiveness and increased military threat. Of course, the latter alert was determined in March 2014 a result of  annexation of the Crimea carried out by Moscow and further military actions of separatists supported by the Kremlin in the eastern Ukraine that are still going on.
On the other hand, the first report states that despite signs of the shrinking economy of Russia there are no signs that economic problems could become a threat to stability of the ruling regimen in the shortest run. Meanwhile, in the document of the current year, prospects of the regimen are assessed some kind more cautiously. Here we see the rising dissatisfaction of the Russian society in declining level of life, the biggest protests mentioned within the last year in Moscow and attempts of the regimen to secure its stability or simply survive. We can draw a conclusion here that positions of the governing Russian elite now are somewhat weaker than 5 years ago. Thus, the attempt to convince the society that the regimen of the Kremlin is irreplaceable is called as one of the reasons of its aggressive foreign and security policy.  
In the report of this year a more comprehensive description than in previous documents is specified why there are attempts to present such aggressiveness as a proof of irreplaceable regimen of the Kremlin: “Moscow still understands international relations as the arena of competition of the great states and their alliances where it is necessary to develop the sphere of influence at the account of the opponent, the document states. Besides, from the report we see that the elite of the Kremlin treats the Western states purportedly interested in changing the regimen in Russia as a direct threat for its existence and this is one more reason of aggressive foreign policy of Moscow.   
The fact that Russia sees NATO as the most important obstacle in realization of its strategic goals was indicated in the report of the intelligence services published 5 years ago. “For that reason Russia pays special attention to disuniting of Western states and undermining confidence in institutions of the Euro-Atlantic integration and also article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty about collective defence’, the document says.  Actually, the document also states that continuing preparation of the Alliance to potential conflict with Russia reduces a chance that Russia will decide to use the actual military power.   
On the other hand, the report of 2016 describes a tendency that is not favourable to Lithuania – the migration crisis and fight against terrorism. It provides forecasts that this issue can become more important question in the agenda of the EU and NATO than security issues of the Eastern Europe. Another forecast is made about preparation of the allies of Lithuania to cooperate with Russia that is trying to convince the West that such cooperation is possible only if NATO refuses to increase power and obligations to the states of the Eastern Europe, thus, to Lithuania, too. Whether these forecasts proved out we can judge from the report of this year of intelligence: although much attention is drawn to terrorism and migration threats, it has not been already linked with the decreasing attention of the EU and NATO to the security of the Eastern Europe.
After comparison of these two documents we can notice that most threats relating to Russia stayed the same. Let’s take the information space where goals of Russia have remained unchanged: the statehood of Lithuania and its history still is one of the most important targets of Moscow. Same as then, now is the same, Russia, by use of its controlled and favourable channels of information, is aiming at everything what testifies resistance of the Lithuanian citizens against Soviet occupation trying to discredit rebels of June 1941, post-war resistants and dissidents of the later period.
Actually, a new topic emerged in these information attacks. Only a few lines were dedicated to it in 2016 report and almost the whole chapter in this year report. This topic is 13 Januar. Vilnius district court announced judgements last year concerning that event. The document indicates that for discredit of this process the Kremlin’s propagandists organized a very wide and active campaign, the main statement of which was that all this was purportedly a political persecution. When the court pronounced the judgment, the whole group of media journalists controlled by the Russian government came to Lithuania who had a goal to prepare reportages illustrating such propagandistic statement as soon as possible.
Meanwhile official representatives of Russia started denying legitimacy of the judgement in public. The whole army of social network commentators were involved as another propagandistic channel. They not just spread ‘opinion’ about potentially politicised case, but also posted various articles and video material in social networks. Russian repression structures were not left aside: right before pronunciation of judgement, the Investigation Committee that is directly subordinate to the President Vladimir Putin, posted a film ‘Lithuanian justice’ on the official Youtube channel, in which perpetrators in the case of 13 January who fled to Russia and Belarus, told their version. The report of the Lithuanian intelligence doesn’t even have doubts that in this way they tried to scare investigators and judges in the case.  
In the report of the intelligence of the current year there are things that have not been mentioned before. Let’s say, all chapter is dedicated to threats caused to Lithuanian citizens by suggestions of Russia to use free electronic visas and visit Kaliningrad region and Saint Petersburg. It, inter alia, writes that a simplified procedure of visa regimen would increase a flow of foreigners going to Russia and this is very favourable to intelligence services of Russia. Filing an application for electronic visa, the person who is going abroad, provides a lot of personal details to the hands of the intelligence. It just needs to choose the ones who might have or have information that interest special services and thus he/she might become a target of recruitment. These can be politicians (both, present and former), businessmen, officers and journalists. However, it does not mean that ordinary tourists might not interest the Russian intelligence. They in case of recruitment can be used for other goals – for instance, as propagandists or communications men. The statement of the report proves that such risks are real that a bigger number of people who agreed to cooperate with the Russian intelligence in the Baltic States have been recruited particularly at that time when they visited this country.  
Another quite a new topic compared to the first report – in the document of intelligence of the current year threat of China is mentioned. Last year there were some sentences telling that special services of China try to recruit citizens of Lithuania. This year the whole chapter in the report is dedicated to this country not to mention that China in various contexts was mentioned 46 times in the whole text of the report. In the chapter of China a fact that has not been mentioned before is indicated – this country uses a social network  designated for various professionals for recruitment of foreign and Lithuanian citizens. Previously they talked about social networks just like a propagandistic instrument.   
According to the report, the mentioned network is very convenient to the Chinese intelligence because specialists start communicating, in most cases hoping to find a potential employer and employers – employees. Thus, a citizen of any country, who does not suspect of anything, can get an offer from a false intelligence shelter company. He/she will get an offer to become a consultant for such a company. In case a potential object gets interested in the offer, he/she is invited to come to China, of course, at the expense of a potential employer. There the candidate who is being recruited meets his/her  contact and some other employees of the company. They have some kind of a job interview. The candidate is asked to make assessment of the tendencies prevailing in his/her country, to overview political or military information. Prepayment is paid for the future job; however the candidate must keep all information confidential. Further cooperation usually is carried out via a chat programme. Later they agree about the next meeting in China. In this way, a person being recruited, often not realizing it, step by step is involved in activities of espionage. According to the report of the intelligence, such activities of Chinese intelligence are determined in Lithuania, too.   
The report of the current year also speaks about another risk factor that has not been mentioned before. It is a rapidly deployed new generation 5G network that enables to connect more devices to the Internet and control information systems of various sectors such as economy, innovations and technological progress, medicine, transport and other sectors via Internet. The report also notes that despite speed and convenience of modern technologies it will allow intercepting information that previously was not accessed by the Internet and thus prevent all infrastructure and newly connected sectors might not be able to cope with these threats.   One of suppliers of 5G devices is a Chinese state company . As Darius Jauniškis, Director of SSD told in the press conference during presentation of the current report, this company provides information to Chinese intelligence services. Having in mind that China uses all possibilities to get information by use of technologies  should be assessed as a risk factor.    
As we can see from comparison of two reports, threats to Lithuania listed 5 years ago, have not disappeared; moreover, new threats appeared. ‘We cannot say that we live in the safer world. Global action of Russia and China, development of their influence, the goal of China to dominate in implementation of technologies in strategic sectors, tension in Middle East, increasing pressure of Russia over Belarus seeking political integration, forms significant changes in the environment of the Lithuanian national security’, D. Jauniškis, Director of SSD told.    
Nevertheless, Lithuania is able to resist some threats much better than a few years ago. First of all, this should be said about attempts of Russia to make influence on minds of Lithuanian people. As Director of SSD told in the press conference, such influence is limited by increased awareness of Lithuanian citizens.  The fact that the fight against attempts to loosen foundations of our state is not a matter of just intelligence services, gives us more hope.
Aras Lukšas

Voras Online
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Autorius: Voras Online