Russian intelligence agencies hard at work to foment anti-nato sentiment in latvia
Russian intelligence agencies were hard at work last year to foment anti-nato sentiment in Latvia, another finding by the Latvian Security Police’s annual report.
The report says that Russian intelligence agencies are used to pursue Russia’s foreign policy goals abroad by attempting to popularize certain ideas and beliefs so as to foster public opinion favoring Russia’s position.
The Security Police have observed that Russian intelligence agencies are interested in partly classified and even publicly-available information that they could use to pursue their interests, for instance, to foment the anti-nato sentiment in Latvia, including opposition to Latvia’s NATO membership, the presence of NATO troops in Latvia, and other matters important to the national security of Latvia.
According to the report, last year Russian intelligence agencies showed interest in a variety of developments in Latvia, including Latvia’s defense and security matters, the deployment of NATO troops to Latvia, the country’s defense infrastructure, socio-political developments, public opinion about the government, relations between various ethnic groups, the situation ahead of the local elections in 2017, Latvian residents’ attitude to international political developments such as the international sanctions against Russia and Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Russian intelligence agencies largely rely on involving local residents in secret cooperation and development of networks of information sources. Thanks to geographical proximity, Russian agencies can organize their activities in Latvia “from a distance”, that is, obtain intelligence through residents of Latvia who visit Russia.
As a result, Russian intelligence agencies last year had particular interest in residents of Latvia who regularly travel to Russia, especially those living near the border with Russia and businessmen whose businesses are associated with Russia, people who have violated regulations on movement of excised goods across the border, Latvian State, municipal officials and employees.
According to the Security Police, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) last year had heightened interest in the Latvian State and municipal officials, businessmen and NGO representatives involved in implementation of cross-border cooperation projects. Traditionally, such projects are used as a front for Russian intelligence agencies’ activities.
The main counterintelligence risks to Latvia last year were posed by the FSB, Russian Foreign Intelligence Service and the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, but the biggest risk was coming from the FSB, mostly due to its increasing activity in Russia’s neighboring countries and the resources available to the service.
FSB regional directorates in Pskov and Kaliningrad mostly operate in Latvia, but Latvian Security Police have information about the increasing role of the St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast directorates in Russia’s activities in Latvia.
The FSB has the opportunity to use Russian State and municipal companies, nongovernmental organizations, universities and research institutes, as well as companies and mass media to help it attain its goals. The FSB is greatly aided by the Russian Border Service, which provides the FSB with information about border crossing violations by residents of Latvia, which the FSB then can use to coerce them into cooperating with Russian intelligence agencies.
Besides Russian intelligence agencies, intelligence agencies of other countries were also active in Latvia last year, but their activity and threat to Latvia’s national security remained relatively low, says the Security Police’s report.