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The sixth assessment prepared by the Lithuanian intelligence services, as in previous years, states that the greatest threat to national security is posed by Russia, which conducts intelligence activities in Lithuania and demonstrates military power and activity at the borders of NATO countries.
The services assume that in 2021 Russian military maneuvers on the border between Lithuania and other NATO countries will intensify, the risk of unintentional incidents will increase: in September in the Kaliningrad region and throughout the Western Military District strategic training Zapad, joint Russian-Belarusian training and other military the number of events should grow by a third.
Scanpix / AP nuotr./Ppratybos West
According to the assessment, Russian intelligence-led groups used the infrastructure of the Lithuanian information technology services sector for cyber attacks against targets in Western countries – part of the Russian intelligence group’s APT29 attacks against COVID-19 vaccine organizations in the West were carried out using Lithuanian IT infrastructure.
Aggressive reaction of the Belarusian regime
The Lithuanian intelligence services single out the political crisis in Belarus, during which Lithuania expressed its support for the democratic opposition in Belarus, as the most significant change in Lithuania’s neighborhood.
According to the services, the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko reacted aggressively: Belarus issued retaliatory sanctions against Lithuanian citizens, ordered to reduce the number of diplomatic missions in Belarus, sought to influence the business community by intimidating economic sanctions, tried to form public opinion through the media, restricted cooperation migration of third-country nationals across the Lithuanian-Belarusian border.
The threat assessment warns that similar actions can be expected in 2021.
Scanpix / AP photo / Protest in Belarus
Mr Lukashenko blamed the West for the post-election protests in Belarus, according to the authorities, and announced that he would strengthen the protection of the state border, relocate more military units to the west and hold a series of demonstration military exercises.
Although the intensity of military training in Belarus was high and the hostile rhetoric was sharp, it is stated that the actions of the regime did not have a significant impact on the security of Lithuania and the region.
However, Lukashenko continues to use this rhetoric, and the readiness of the unstable regime and the possibility of taking extreme measures to maintain power, according to the services, is a factor causing tension in Lithuania’s neighborhood.
China and Russia are exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic
The threat situation is changing, according to services, by the COVID-19 pandemic: authoritarian states, under the guise of establishing contact with infected people, are expanding mass surveillance of locals and foreigners, while Russia and China are using the pandemic situation to discredit hostile states, trying to improve their international image.
According to the services, they began to use medical support and innovations as a source of power that could increase their influence in the international arena, for example, China in Lithuania began to carry out “mask diplomacy” and spread propaganda in the country’s information space.
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