Chinese Covert Operation and Russian Secret War in Norway

The Norwegian Police Security Service (PST) increasingly fears possible activities of Russian intelligence services aimed at illegal gathering information on the territory of Norway, PST Head Marie Benedicte Bjornland said.

The Police Security Service’s annual assessment of threats from foreign lands shows that the biggest threat is currently espionage from Russia, who shares a border with Norway to the north.

“We are more concerned now than before for what could result of illegal intelligence activities,” says the head officer of the Police Security Services, Bendicte Bjørland to NRK.

Norwegian Police Security Service claims that Russia in 2015 took steps in order to prevent the Nobel Peace Prize from being awarded to Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko, the Norwegian government-owned television broadcaster NRK said.

Security services are saying that Russian intelligence services are targeting individuals and their families in order to get information. Bjørland warns NRK that people with family in Russia are at a higher risk of being targeted by Russian officials.

Police Security Services have previously reported that Russian intelligence has specifically threatened individuals living in Norway as refugees.

“We get messages from individuals and companies claiming that they have been subjected to illegal intelligence activities,” says Bjørland to NRK.

“The main concern is caused by illegal mapping, primarily of our defense infrastructure,” Bjornland said.

The report also accused Russia and China of attempts to carry out cyberattacks on information systems of Norwegian companies for gathering secret information.

According to the north lines Media…

Russian Intelligence, Psychological Operations and New Cold War in Europe

Europe had been the centre for most Cold War espionage business. London had become a “playground for spies”; Vienna was regarded as an “intelligence hotspot” and Switzerland- “a notorious spy centre”. Today, the resurgence of a New Cold War is being hypothesized over the changing patterns of intelligence activities in Europe. Unclassified reports drafted by counterintelligence and military intelligence agencies of the Scandinavian nations highlight increasing Russian intelligence activities. A March 2016 intelligence assessment by Säkerhetspolisen, Swedish Security Service, traces the aggressive informational and psychological operations conducted by the Russian intelligence agencies to manipulate public opinion.[7] The Cold War espionage battle in Europe primarily involved turning dissenters and expatriates into agents. Russian intelligence services have embarked on similar operations making contacts with radical right-wing organisations in Sweden.

Spreading of false propaganda and covert assistance to right wing political parties and others favouring Kremlin was rightly recognised as the modus operandi of the Russian intelligence services.

Similar concerns are expressed by Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland. Russia has significantly increased its capabilities to conduct psychological operations, cyber espionage, gather military, technological and business intelligence. Russian intelligence activities in the Scandinavian countries have led analysts to conclude Russian designs to dominate the Baltic, Scandinavian and Arctic region- in the long run, frustrate NATO, EU and other forms of European cooperation. Annual report of the Security Information Service (BIS), Czech counterintelligence agency also draws attention to information warfare mounted by Russian intelligence. A Czech populace, already distrustful of its government and the media, is more likely to fall victim to Russia’s informational warfare and “black propaganda” leading up to the 2018 presidential elections.

In Western Europe, intelligence agencies studied Russian advancements in Georgia, Crimea, and Ukraine and drew assessments on her hybrid warfare designs. Spreading of false propaganda and covert assistance to right wing political parties and others favouring Kremlin was rightly recognised as the modus operandi of the Russian intelligence services. However, the present state of intelligence cooperation within Europe is cause for worry. The Snowden imbroglio and Brexit have distanced cooperation between British and other western European intelligence agencies. Snowden files’ and WikiLeaks’ allegations of British and American espionage on Berlin have created a rift between the MI6 and Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND). According to one source, “there is virtual radio silence” and cooperation seems out of sight with the British accusing the Germans of weak information security.[9] Beyond Germany, with the western alliance in bad shape, Russian intelligence have made inroads into Europe and developed contacts with dissenting groups like Jobbik in Hungary, Golden Dawn in Greece, the Northern League in Italy, France’s Front National and sections of Austrian political community- a move that has prompted security and intelligence experts to declare the evolution of a “new cold war”.

Russia’s Spy Games in its Backyard

The popular assessment in the SVR is that the US approach to Russia still continues on the principles of Cold War “containment” strategy. Russian intelligence officials rationalise the “Maidan Revolution” as a US effort to contain Russian growth. Coup d’etat- a time tested strategy- across theatres in Latin America, Middle East, and Africa had enhanced US confidence in replicating the same in Ukraine. While American strategic minds still comprehend the wisdom behind NATO expansion into Russian backyard, an aggressive Russian response, as envisaged, has raised Putin’s resolve to establish military supremacy in the region. Since then, Russian intelligence agencies, the SVR, GRU and the FSB have been actively pursuing a goal of creating a Russian sphere of influence within the post-Soviet states.

(N.Sethurupan)