n the coming year, Russia will likely continue to launch influence operations in the West and prepare for a war with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), according to a new threat assessment report issued by Estonia’s foreign intelligence service.
Estonia is one of three Baltic States that border Russia and have been consistently under threat from their larger neighbor. Estonia is also a NATO ally that hosts NATO troops, including forces from the United Kingdom, Denmark and France. This year’s threat assessment, an advanced copy of which was obtained by NBC News, demonstrated that Estonia’s intelligence services viewed Russia as the biggest threat to both Estonia’s security and the security of its NATO allies.
“Russia continues to develop and train its armed forces for a large-scale war against NATO,” the report reads. “Even though the likelihood of a worst-case scenario is slim, surprises arranged by its authoritarian regime cannot be excluded.”
Russia believes a conflict with NATO will be sparked by a “color revolution” in one of its neighbors. Political events in countries like Ukraine and Belarus, including legitimate democratic movements, should be watched carefully, the report suggested. While Western governments may view these social movements as legitimate expressions of public will, Russia’s government officials view them as an existential threat worth launching a war over.
“A conflict between NATO and Russia would not be limited to military action in Eastern Europe or the Baltic States, but would also involve Russian attacks on Western European targets,” the report read. The Russian armed forces are constantly developing their doctrine of attacking “critical enemy targets and building related medium-range weapon systems air-, sea- and (in violation of international treaties) land-based that could be used to attack targets in Western Europe.”
The report also claimed Russia will attempt to weaken its perceived opponents by launching influence operations and moving to sway the results of the upcoming European parliamentary elections in May. Italy’s far-right party La Liga, for example, is set to be the largest euroskeptic party in the European Parliament following the upcoming elections, according to polling. Recent reports have already revealed that the Kremlin had offered the party funding.
he report also detailed how Russia’s government threatened any opposition from within the country.
“Russia’s foreign and domestic policy is dictated by the authorities’ fear of changes which might pull the rug from under them,” the report reads. “Therefore, the regime regards domestic opposition as a dangerous enemy. According to information available to the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, Russia has practiced the use of its armed forces units against internal protesters.”
Source – NewsWeek