European observers are convinced that Russia has been emboldened by its successful annexation of Crimea in 2014 and military incursion in Ukraine. Their heightened covert activity in Europe is a clear sign that Moscow sees its intelligence operations in Europe as politically advantageous.
Russia initiated a campaign of anti-Western subversion and propaganda at the same time, all intended to distract, disrupt and demoralize. The brazen but unprofessional attempt to poison ex-Russian GRU operative Sergei Skripal in England was a clear example of the new levels of aggression that Russia’s intelligence services have been instructed to deploy.
Eerik Kross, former director of intelligence in Estonia has observed: “The numbers of Russian intelligence personnel in Western Europe are back to Cold War levels. … A basic rule of thumb, which counts for Russia nowadays, is to take the number of diplomats working in Russian embassies and consulates (abroad) and about half of them are spies. … Then consider another number – its network of covert agents working under non-diplomatic cover, such as businessmen, journalists, or lobbyists – and it’s about the same again.”
Active operations have taken priority over gathering information for Moscow. Influence operations - recruitment of agents in target institutions – are usually harder to detect and to prove.
(Rad more: Estonian Life No. 43 2019)
Laas Leivat, Toronto
Eesti Elu Nr. 31 - 7. august 2020 DIGILEHT
Kõik numbrid koos sisukorraga: www.issuu.com/estonianlife
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