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Europe’s response to the Russian threat: strengthening security and diplomatic action

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As tensions rise and traditional concerns are abandoned, Europe is beginning to take decisive steps against the Russian intelligence network, which is spreading its activities across the continent. The central event of the past week was the May 8 meeting of the British Parliament, where Home Secretary James Cleverly announced increased measures to counter Russian influence, including cyberattacks, sabotage, and other security threats.

At the meeting, Cleverley emphasized the direct threat to the UK’s national security and announced a series of diplomatic and legal measures. In the near future, the UK plans to expel a Russian military attaché who turned out to be an undeclared Russian intelligence officer. Also, the duration of diplomatic visas for Russians will be limited and some Russian real estate will be deprived of diplomatic status. The parliamentary session also discussed additional measures to block illegal imports of Russian oil that reach the UK’s shores through third countries.

There is a much broader pattern of Russian malign activity across Europe. This includes plans for sabotage against military aid to Ukraine in Germany and Poland, espionage in Bulgaria and Italy, cyberattacks and disinformation, airspace violations, and GPS jamming with implications for civil aviation

British Home Secretary James Cleverly

According to Cleverly, Russian activity is no longer limited to the UK, but also involves countries such as the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Italy. This is evidence of a large-scale Russian campaign aimed at escalating tensions in Europe.

Russia has not abandoned its plans for hybrid attacks against the Baltic states. This is aimed at one goal: a split in the societies of our countries and increased distrust of government agencies.

Minister of Defense of Lithuania Arvydas Anušauskas

In parallel with the growing threat, European leaders are consolidating their efforts. The Prime Minister of Poland announced a turning point for European security. European intelligence informed governments about Russia’s plans for sabotage across the continent, which was important before major events such as the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris.

This unity is especially important in light of the close cooperation of Ukrainian intelligence with its European and American counterparts. The arguments of Kyrylo Budanov, Chief of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, play a key role in shaping the international response.

“We estimate that the risk of state-controlled sabotage is growing significantly.”

Thomas Galdenwang, Head of the Federal Service for the Protection of the Constitution of Germany

The existence of a Russian agent network in the West has long been known. However, for a long time Europe seemed to turn a blind eye to this presence. Counteraction was mostly fragmented. Now the stakes have become too high. It is the threat of real terrorist attacks, assassination attempts or sabotage ordered by Russia. That is why European officials are talking about a set of measures aimed at cleansing the European world of Kremlin agents.

“Russian special services continue to build their own network, continue to be active abroad, they have not stopped. The purpose of this activity is to destabilize the situation in the Euro-Atlantic community, in individual countries, to influence the governments of these countries, to discredit Ukraine and weaken the pro-Ukrainian coalition and, in general, to weaken the entire free democratic world.”

Andriy Yusov, representative of the Defence Intelligence of Ukraine, in a commentary for Svoboda Ranko:

European intelligence has already warned their governments that Russia is planning subversive actions across the continent. This was the sole reason for the presence of a French representative at Putin’s inauguration. On the eve of the Olympic Games in Paris, Macron wants to make sure that they are held “without Russian provocations.”

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