NATO’s East Flank Under Pressure

Russia has increased provocations against NATO eastern flank countries, informs better governance.

The intensification of Russian spying activities, threats of provocations, and sabotage are pushing European countries to close their borders with Russia and Belarus. Latvia stopped issuing humanitarian visas to Russians a month ago, and Lithuania in early August decided to close all crossing points with Belarus to ensure additional security.

Provocations by Putin and Lukashenko are aimed at destabilising civil society in NATO countries, provoking unrest, and chaos and at the same time showing the weakness of the eastern flank of the Alliance. These could take the form of terrorist attacks within Poland or Lithuania in order to destroy the infrastructure used to transfer military aid to Ukraine.

The main risks for Poland and the Baltic States from Russia and Belarus are hybrid actions that involve subversive activities. For example, illegal migrants crossing the border from Belarusian territory, as happened in 2021, disinformation and cyberattack campaigns, violation of airspace by Russian (including Belarusian) drones, airplanes, and helicopters and the clandestine infiltration of Wagner Group mercenaries.

An expanded Russian agent network continues to operate in NATO countries, gathering intelligence on military facilities and preparing sabotage activities on railway tracks. In particular, in Poland a few days ago, a Russian spy was detained who turned out to be a trained intelligence agent gathering information on ports and military facilities and preparing sabotage activities to destabilise the political situation.

The Internal Security Agency of Poland reported that the detainee Mikhail A. was a Belarus citizen who had been in Russia since 2008. There he spent 6 years in prison and moved to Poland after his release. For the last two years, Mikhail has been consciously working for the Kremlin. The man became the 16th member of the Russian agent network, which the Polish security service has exposed since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Russia is using different strategies to destabilise NATO’s eastern flank. Accordingly, the Alliance countries need to take tough measures against Moscow, up to and including the complete closure of borders with the Russian Federation and reinforcement of the Ukrainian army with supplies of long-range weapons and modern aircraft.