Estonia thwarts Russian hybrid operation, arrests 10

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas claimed that the country’s security service had broken up a Russian hybrid operation, SİA informs via POLITICO.

The operation involved damaging property and defacing monuments, including an attack on the car of Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets and a vehicle belonging to Andrei Šumakov, editor of news website Delfi.

“We know the Kremlin is targeting all of our democratic societies. Our answer: be open and reveal their methods,” Kallas wrote on X,formerly Twitter.

State Prosecutor Triinu Olev said 10 people had been arrested, including both Russian nationals and dual Russian-Estonian citizens; six remain in custody.

The Russian operation aimed to spread fear and create tension in Estonian society but failed to do so, the Estonian Internal Security Service stated.

“Sooner or later, we will catch those who are trying to endanger the security of the Estonian state,” said Margo Palloson, ISS director.

Palloson said the perpetrators of the acts of vandalism were often recruited via social media. “Attentive people have already helped us a lot,” he said, urging the public to report suspicious activities online to the ISS. Russia used locals as its tools and then left them to face the consequences alone, he noted.

Russia disputed the Estonian claims, with Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Maria Zakharova telling POLITICO: “These are some mirror-world news. The Estonian regime sponsors [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy’s terrorism, pursues a Russophobic policy, leads the forefront of the sanctions war against our country, and then makes noise over broken windows? It’s a theater of the absurd.”

On Tuesday Estonia’s foreign ministry said it would summon Russia’s top diplomat in the country.

In a related development, Latvia’s state security service, VDD, detained a dual Estonian-Russian citizen for pouring red paint on a World War II memorial to Latvian soldiers who fought the Soviet Union’s Red Army. VDD launched a criminal case against the individual for assisting Russian intelligence in an action directed against Latvia.

The Estonian operation to thwart Russian activities in the Baltics comes amid increased scrutiny of Estonia’s stance on Soviet-era monuments. PM Kallas recently found herself on a Russian wanted list for “a desecration of historical memory,” an accusation stemming from Estonia’s removal of Soviet war monuments in Narva in Estonia’s east.

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