bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 19.08.2019 | Name days: Melānija, Imanta
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuanian intelligence adds China along with Russia to list of national security threats

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

A Russian soldier launches a drone during the joint Russian, Belarusian and Serbian military exercise “The Slavic Brotherhood” at the military ground Kovin, near Belgrade

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Lithuania’s intelligence has released this week the annual National Threat Assessment 2019 report, with core threats coming from the hostility of Russia in a vast spectrum of aspects.

The core threats to national security stem again from the hostility of Lithuania’s closest neighbour, Russia, but, China, as a country with interests detrimental to Lithuania’s security, has been added on the list of national threats for the first time.

«Simply speaking, there is nothing much new in this year’s intelligence report on national threats, besides the fact that China is mentioned. However, China is nothing new in terms of threats to those who work in the intelligence community,» Gediminas Grina, former director of Lithuania’s State Security Department, told BNN.

He however hastened to add that the State Security Department (VSD) and the Second Investigation Department under the Defence Ministry, the compilers of the report, has said «little» of what is «perhaps known» to the intelligence bodies.

«Released information cannot alert our nemeses on what Lithuanian intelligence knows about them. It is meant to impel our lawmakers to raise their awareness of what is happening in the country and to act accordingly,» Grina, now a security analyst, emphasised.

Among the conclusions the intelligence agencies made is the firm inference that Russia has failed to gain desired political influence in Lithuania, but will however try to intervene in the country’s domestic affairs in the foreseen future.

VSD brought attention to the fact that Russia ramped up efforts aimed at recruiting Lithuanians abroad.

Moscow often targets men who served in the Soviet Armed Forces and people who have relatives in Russia and Belarus, they said. Specifically, Russia’s intelligence agencies search for individuals ideologically close to Russia and recruit Lithuanian and foreign citizens travelling to Russia and Belarus, according to the report.

The agencies also pointed out that Russia seeks to influence political processes in Lithuania, but there are currently no solid indications that Russia has achieved the desired influence.

VSD claims it has not yet recorded any clear signs of Russian intelligence services trying to influence upcoming elections in Lithuania, but adds that this is possible.

The agency however predicts that Russian intelligence is «very likely» to ratchet up hostile activity ahead of the 2019–2020 election cycle in Lithuania.

Lithuania will elect municipal councils in March and its next president and members of the European Parliament in May.

Russia may also stage provocations against Lithuanian officials related to a mass trial of people charged with involvement in the January 1991 bloody crackdown on protesters in Vilnius, the agencies said.

According to the rapporteurs, Moscow strived to fulminate ethnic enmity and animosity in Lithuania, disparage Lithuanian statehood and evoke nostalgia for the Soviet era.

Lithuanian intelligence report also emphasises that Russia is consistently building up its military capabilities in its Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, but the presence of NATO forces reduces the likelihood of Moscow venturing to attack the Baltic countries.

According to the report, Russia’s military strategy regards Belarus as a «buffer» state. «Russia attributes Belarus to its zone of influence and uses its territory for military operation planning and demonstration of force,» it says, adding that Belarus’ gradually deepening military integration and economic dependence on Russia limits its ability to pursue an independent defence and security policy.

Lithuanian secret service believes that Russia uses drones for surveillance of Lithuania.

«It’s a new tendency. These are not unmanned vehicles of similar type, flying in a conflict zone. It is Russian intelligence activity carried out during peacetime in a sovereign state, in the territory of a NATO country,» Colonel Remigijus Baltrėnas, head of the Second Investigation Department under the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence (military intelligence), told journalists at the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday.

A photo of the Russian drone was shown during the Tuesday presentation of the annual report on threats to national security, prepared by Lithuania’s State Security Department and the Second Investigation Department.

The intelligence reports says «the same type of aircraft conducted intelligence collection flights over the territories of Syria, Libya and Eastern Ukraine, where Russia supported the ongoing combat actions. The components of the found UAV were made in several countries. However, it contained Russian software and corresponded to known UAV analogues used by the Russian intelligence and security services.»

Some of risks are high-tech and fin-tech related, specifically having to do with Russian investments in Lithuania.

VSD said in its report that Lithuania has recently blocked an investment by a Russian holding company in a local firm that could be used to collect cartographic data for the Russian Armed Forces.

Sistema, a holding company controlled by Russian oligarch Vladimir Yevtushenkov, bought a Lithuanian aero-scanning and mapping firm through an investment company owned by his son, the State Security Department and the Second Investigation Department pointed out.

At the same time, Sistema controlled Kronstadt, a Russian company that several years ago won a contract for setting up digital cartographic data centres.

According to the report, Russia seeks to collect more cartographic data to enable an efficient use of new missile launching systems.

The increasingly widening geography of potential investors in the financial sector ranges from Cayman Islands to Vanuatu, VSD pointed out in National Threat Assessment 2019.

According to the agency, seeking to conceal the actual beneficiaries and reduce the tax burden, these actors employ sophisticated and shady business management schemes that are implemented through legal entities based in preferential tax zones.

For the first time, Intelligence warned of China’s increasingly aggressive spying in Lithuania.

«As Chinese economic and political ambitions grow in Lithuania and other NATO and EU countries, activities of the Chinese intelligence and security services become increasingly aggressive,» the State Security Department and the Second Investigation Department underscored.

According to the annual report, two Chinese intelligence services operate in Lithuania: the Ministry of State Security and the Military Intelligence Directorate.

«Primarily, China’s domestic policy issues drive Chinese intelligence activities in Lithuania. For example, it seeks that Lithuania would not support independence of Tibet and Taiwan and would not address these issues at the international level,» the bodies said.

Chinese intelligence also has broader interests in Lithuania, including its domestic and foreign policies, its economy and defence sector, and information accessible to Lithuanian citizens about foreign countries’ international cooperation projects with China and future plans, they said.

To the observation that Klaipėda authorities seek to build an outer seaport with a heavy investment from an unidentified yet Chinese company, Grina, former VSD chief, agreed that negative assessments of China’s aggressive expansion should be considered but they do not stipulate immediate necessity to act on them.

«It is exclusively up to politicians, those in Klaipėda too, as to how to react to the intelligence findings. Politicians have to find «middle way» in dealing with this kind information from VSD. If we say “no” to all Chinese investments, we will see one extreme and if we embrace all of them, there will be another extreme,» Grina said.

Lithuanian intelligence agencies also warned of potential security risks due to Chinese telecoms giant Huawei’s links to China’s intelligence bodies. The Lithuanian government says however it currently has no reasons to restrict the use of Huawei equipment for civilian purposes.

Interviewed by Lithuanian national broadcaster, Vytautas Bakas, a member of the parliamentary Committee of National Security and Defence, advised not to «demonize» China as a country and consider that Lithuania has just recently started intense economic relations with the Eastern giant.

«I’d perhaps single out two aspects of the issue. We indeed need to heed what is going on (in relation to China) in our partner countries, especially in the United States. On the other hand, we need to learn how to properly treat Chinese investments. Anyway, the findings will impel us all to think what kind of investments we want, what are the limits of granting someone right to invest here and et cetera,» Bakas said.


Leave a reply

  1. Mike says:

    Funny…a tiny nation unknown to 95 pc of the world seems to be most fearful on planet Earth.

  2. Ibby says:

    China, you’re not assertive, you’re aggressive. Be it Huawei, Belt Road or Made in China 2025, you’ve made it clear you want to dominate. Fair enough, but small nations have the right to speak out against you.

EU: Rīgas satiksme cuts Latvian budget fiscal room in 2020 by 72 mln EUR

The Riga city company Rīgas satiksme should, according to European Union criteria, be in included in the general government sector, thus it would cut the fiscal space of the 2020 Latvian state budget by 72 million euros, Finance Ministry stated.

Latvijas Krājbanka’s administrator recovered 542 thousand euros in July

The administrator of the insolvent Latvian bank Latvijas Krājbanka recovered 524 444 euros in July, which is by 75% more than a month earlier, according to the official gazette Latvijas Vēstnesis.

Latvian post-reform administrative centres to have 2 000 - 630 000 populations

After the planned administrative reform of Latvia, the population size of the administrative centres of the new municipalities is expected to vary from 2 000 to 632 000 people, according to a conceptual report by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development.

A week of warm, but changing weather forecast for Latvia

Weather in Latvia this week is expected to be summer-like and warm, with rain expected on Thursday and Friday, according to the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Kabul wedding terror attack committed by Islamic State, the group says

Responsibility for the terror attack in Afghanistan, where explosives killed 63 people. has been claimed by the Afghan branch of the Islamic State terrorist group.

British Gibraltar releases seized Iran oil tanker

An Iranian oil tanker detained by Gibraltar, part of the United Kingdom, has sailed away from port after being allowed to do so despite Washington’s call to detain it again.

BNN summary of the week: Latvia’s biggest budget; PNB Bank halts operations; Latvia sad with Latvia

Some positive news surfaced in Latvia this week – Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš announced that the country’s next budget will be the largest one yet and will exceed EUR 10 billion. In spite of this, however, financial difficulties have been observed – PNB Bank has ended up in a tight spot. The bank’s shortage of funds has forced Finance and Capital Market Commission to halt all of the bank’s financial operations.

Week in Lithuania: PM Skvernelis undergoes surgery, Nausėda meets Merkel, rebukes Latvia

Last week, President Gitanas Nausėda rejected the government’s candidate for EU judge, hints of big changes at Šiaulių Bankas ahead

Independent Deputies Faction joins forces with Honour to Serve Riga

Riga City Council’s Independent Deputies Faction has signed a cooperation agreement with Honour to Serve Riga political party, pledging support for the party’s mayoral candidate Oļegs Burovs, as LETA was told by the faction’s leader Valērijs Petrovs on Monday, 18 August.

Saeima’s MPC investigation committee requests information on every issued license

The parliamentary committee formed to investigate the mandatory procurement component has requested access to information regarding every issued MPC license and decision made by officials in regards to this field, says the committee’s representative Ilze Vanaga.

Latvian athlete receives two-year disqualification

Former Latvian long jumper Ineta Radeviča has received a two-year disqualification, as confirmed by International Association of Athletics Federation’s Athletics Integrity Unit.

Minister: state budget funds will not be used to compensate PNB Bank’s clients

The Deposit Guarantee Fund is sufficient to pay compensations to affected PNB Bank clients. This means not a cent from Latvia’s state budget will be used, said Latvia’s Finance Minister Jānis Reirs in a telephone conversation with public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta Panorāma on Friday, 16 August.

Estonia to invest 22 million in construction of a new TV house

Estonian government has set aside EUR 22 million for the construction of a new public television building, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Another one falls – Latvian FCMC halts PNB Bank’s operations

Operations of PNB Bank [formerly Norvik Banka] have been halted in Latvia, as confirmed by Finance and Capital Market Commission.

Unemployment index in Latvia drops – rate down to 6.4% in Q2

In Q2 2019 Latvian unemployment rate constituted 6.4 %. Compared to the previous quarter, unemployment rate fell by 0.5 percentage points, and compared to the rate recorded a year ago, it dropped by 1.3 percentage points.

64.7% of Latvia’s population reportedly employed in Q2 2019

905.6 thousand people or 64.7 % of Latvia’s population aged 15–74 were employed in Q2 2019.

Lithuanian Conservatives’ tensions: can the party split?

The Conservative Homeland Union - Lithuanian Christian Democrats (TS-LKD) have risen to unseen heights lately – although in the opposition now, in 2016 parliamentary election the party racked up a record support in its 30 years’ history.

Minister: Latvia’s social budget surplus has reached one billion

The surplus of the state social budget has come close of the pre-crisis level – EUR 1 billion, said Latvian Welfare Minister Ramona Petraviča in an interview to LTV programme Rīta panorama on 15 August.

Riga City Council permitted to elect mayor after two-month deadline

In spite of the fact that 21 August will mark two months of Riga City Council working without a mayor, a condition that permits Latvia’s Saeima to dismiss the entire city council, deputies of the municipality will nonetheless have the right to elect a mayor after the deadline, says Environment Protection Minister Juris Pūce’s advisor for legal affairs Valdis Verners.

Lithuanian president unhappy with Latvia’s decision to purchase energy from Belarus

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has voiced sadness over Latvia’s decision to purchase electrical energy produced at Astravets nuclear power plant in Belarus not far from the Lithuanian border. He admits, however, that this decision was not unexpected for him.

State Real Estate claims ReRe Būve 1 may be trying to circumvent the law

Construction company Rere Būve 1 publicly voices desire to continue implementing the construction contract. However, the construction company’s submitted work schedule for reconstruction of New Riga Theatre has everything changed – volume of work, terms and budget, Latvian State Real Estate reports.

Lithuanian mountaineer dies climbing French Alps

Lithuanian 38-year-old mountaineer Vytautas Mažeika died in a 50 m fall in the French Alps, Lithuanian public media LRT reports with reference to 15min.lt.

Estonia decides to reform pension system; increase not promised

Helir-Valdor Seeder, leader of Estonian coalition party Isamaa, has confirmed that the government has agreed on his proposed pension reform, as reported by Estonian public media ERR.

Ruling party in Lithuania promises national agreement for education affairs

While more and more small town schools close down in Lithuania, the leader of the ruling party promises a «national agreement» for education affairs, as reported by Lithuanian public media LRT.

Viesturs Zeps’ has yet to convince NCP and Unity to support him as mayoral candidate

Mayoral candidate in Riga Viesturs Zeps still has not convinced New Conservative Party and Unity to support him, according to what he said in an interview to public broadcaster LTV programme Rīta panorama on Thursday, 15 August.