On March assessment of national security was presented to the society and media representatives at the press conference hall at the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania.
According to The National Threat Assesment prepared by the State Security Department of the Republic of Lithuania and the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defence, the major threat to the national security of Lithuania originates from Russia’s aggressive intentions and actions. Although in 2017 Russia tried to demonstrate an intention of positive dynamics in relations with the West, its strategic goals remained the same – to change the global power balance and dominate within its perceived zone of interests, including the Baltic region.
Measures undertaken by NATO nations to enhance their national and NATO security, in particular the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), and overall increased Baltic States’ national and the Allied military capabilities deployed in the region, reduced the probability of Russia’s military aggression against the Baltic States.
In 2017, the Russian intelligence and security services (RISS) remained the greatest intelligence threat to Lithuania. They collected intelligence about Lithuania’s internal, foreign, economic, security, and defence policies. RISS also conducted influence operations in support of Russia’s aggressive policy against Lithuania and were particularly interested in the upcoming Lithuanian presidential elections in 2019.
In 2017, the most identified hostile cyber activities were related to Russia. The main targets were the Lithuanian state institutions and the energy sector. In addition to these traditional cyber activities, a new phenomenon has been observed – a large-scale spread of malicious ransomware programmes. So far, they have not caused any serious damage to Lithuania, but this might change in the future.
In addition, Russia conducted aggressive information, historical and ideological policy against Lithuania. Although the influence of thepro-Russian organizations and movements in Lithuania remained limited, Russia sought to instrumentalize their activists to implement its ideological policy and spread of propaganda.
In 2017, pro-Kremlin journalists have increased their activity, yet Lithuania remained an unfavourable operational environment for them. One of the main tasks of Russian journalists in Lithuania was to establish its negative image and to demonstrate ostensible Lithuanian society’s disapproval of domestic and foreign policy. To achieve this, Russian propagandists attempted to portray minor protests organized by marginal political movements as large-scale events.
In 2017, the Russian propagandistic media increased its attention to Lithuania. Preparing reportages and stories in Lithuania, the Russian propagandists continued to disguise their real intentions and motives of their activities. They would travel to Lithuania with a business or tourist visas obtained in other EU-countries. Through the information space and social media Kremlin sought to fuel anti-Western sentiment, form a favourable public opinion but the possibilities to expand its audience in Lithuania remained limited.
In 2017, Russia continued its attempts to dominate the energy market of the Baltic region and obstruct its integration into the Western Europe energy system. Belarus together with the Russian corporation Rosatom accelerated the construction of the Astravets Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), failing to comply with the international nuclear security requirements. Despite its intense efforts, Russia did not succeed to influence decisions regarding the synchronization of the Baltic States’ electricity systems with the Western networks.
Belarus’ dependence on Russia continues to grow and remains a risk factor to the national security of Lithuania. Belarusian foreign and security policy is closely coordinated with Russia. In the context of growing dependence, Russia’s ability to use Belarus against neighbouring states is increasing.
In 2017, the terrorism threat level in Lithuania remained low. However, the terrorism threat in Europe remained high which negatively affected security of Lithuania’s allies.