The tip was sent by a city tech worker: a single person could, in one fell swoop, disable almost every traffic light in Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital. It proved true, says Aurimas Navys, a former officer at Lithuania’s State Security Department. Mr Navys, who had received the tip despite his recent retirement, made sure the vulnerability was fixed. Lithuania and the other Baltic states, Estonia and Latvia, all nato members, are scrambling, he says, to identify such weaknesses and the individuals who might exploit them on behalf of Russia. Mr Navys reckons that the defensive efforts of the Baltic states have multiplied tenfold since 2014. That was when Russia seized Crimea and, in Ukraine’s east, set off separatist fighting that continues today.
Russia pulled that off with help from supporters in Ukraine, many of whom had been discreetly cultivated by Russia’s intelligence agencies and Spetsnaz special forces. Kremlin supporters in Ukraine’s military bureaucracy in Kiev proved especially damaging, Mr Navys says. They deliberately stalled Ukraine’s response to the seizure of its territory. (Among the Ukrainians arrested for aiding Russia in 2014 was Ukraine’s army chief at the time, Volodymyr Zamana, though he was later freed.) Ukraine had failed to search hard enough for Russian assets in its midst, says Raimundas Karoblis, Lithuania’s defence minister. “We now, after Ukraine, have learned the lessons,” he says.