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Estonia says it stopped 'hybrid operation' by Russian security services

by Nate Ostiller February 20, 2024 7:34 PM 2 min read
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas speaks to reporters in Brussels, Belgium, on Dec. 15, 2023. (Miguel Medina/AFP via Getty Images)
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Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on Feb. 20 that authorities had "successfully stopped a hybrid operation by Russia's security services on our territory."

The Estonian media outlet ERR reported earlier on Feb. 20 that the Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) detained 10 people in connection with a series of crimes committed in late 2023, including vandalism of a car belonging to Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets. Authorities believed at the time that it was a targeted attack.

ISS director Margo Palloson said that most of the individuals detained had a preexisting criminal history. The ISS said they believed the individuals "acted on behalf of the Russian special service" in order to "sow fear and create tension in Estonian society."

"We know the Kremlin is targeting all of our democratic societies," Kallas said.

"It is clear that Russia is systematically trying to undermine our society by organizing hybrid operations against our state, our people and our security. It is also clear that we will not break and for us, there is nothing surprising about Russia's hybrid activities," said Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna.

Estonia's Foreign Ministry said it would summon Russia's top diplomat in Estonia over the incident.

The attack on Laanemets' car was just one of a number of similar low-level crimes, mostly consisting of vandalism directed at officials and journalists, but there was concern that it was indicative of a larger trend that extended beyond Estonia.  

Latvia's State Security Service (VDD) also said on Feb. 20 that a dual citizen of Estonia and Russia had been arrested for vandalizing a monument to Latvian soldiers who fought against the Red Army in WWII.

The individual was also suspected of vandalizing other monuments throughout the Baltics and has also been accused of working on behalf of Russian intelligence services.

The VDD said it was working closely with its counterparts in Lithuania and Estonia to investigate the incidents.

Estonia’s FM warns Baltic states have 3 to 4 years to prepare for Russian ‘assessment’ of NATO capabilities
Estonia’s foreign minister emphasized on Feb. 14 that NATO has a timeframe of approximately three to four years to enhance its defensive capabilities as Russian leader Vladimir Putin ramps up his nation’s military activities, AP reports.
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