In its report released on March 12, the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service (FIS) states that the only serious threat to regional security, including the existence and sovereignty of Estonia and other Baltic Sea states, emanates from Russia. It involves not only asymmetrical, covert or political subversion, but also a potential military threat, the experts believe.
The Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service says they have beein monitoring all the military exercises of the Russian armed forces during the past decade. These include field exercises played out with actual military units in training areas, as well as command-post exercises and war games on maps, which remain hidden from the public eye. By analysing these exercises, they have arrived at a number of conclusions.
First, the Russian armed forces are consistently practising for an extensive military conflict with NATO. According to the FIS, all the scenarios for command-post exercises from the last two decades describe conventional warfare against NATO and its member states. They note that the general structure of the Russian exercises and scenarios has remained similar throughout the period, regardless of the wars in Ukraine, Georgia and Syria, and despite Western sanctions or the deployment of NATO forces in the Baltic States and Poland.
Second, as the Russian armed forces see it, a military conflict with NATO will be sparked by a ‘coloured revolution’ in one of Russia’s neighbouring countries, Estonian intelligence officers suggest. In their view, the Russian leadership, due to its KGB background, sees democratic aspirations (coloured revolutions) as operations by Western special services.
“If anything unexpected should happen to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka personally or to his regime, there will be a great risk of swift military action by Russia to prevent Belarus from becoming a pro-Western democracy,” the authors of the report warn.
Constant economic conflicts between Russia and Belarus and attempts by Belarus to pursue an independent foreign policy have caused the Russian leadership to worry about its influence in Belarus and increase pressure on the country’s leaders, they stress.
“A number of critical articles were published in 2018 about President Lukashenka, accusing him of favouring Ukraine in his foreign policy and publicising information about his incapacity for work as a result of an alleged stroke. Articles have been published regularly about Putin’s dissatisfaction with Lukashenka’s activities and about the Kremlin exploring opportunities to remove Lukashenka from power in the coming parliamentary and presidential elections,” the report reads.