Friday, February 27, 2009

Estonian Spy Scandal

Last September, a spy scandal has sent shock waves through NATO. Meanwhile, more details have surfaced on what is believed to be the most damaging spy operation in decades. Those who believed that the end of the Cold War also meant the end of Intelligence operations by Russia on Western soil, think again.

Apparently, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service SVR (Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki) mounted a most successful many years' operation against NATO with the aid of Herman Simm, an Estonian Government official and the former Chief of Police, who made career as head of the Ministry of Defense department, responsible for secret coordinations between NATO and the European Union.

NATO officials say he caused 'historic damage', comparable with the Aldrich Ames spy case, the CIA agent who passed critical CIA information to the KGB for many years. According to investigators, the KGB established contact with Simm as early as the 1980's, when Moscow realized that Estonia would eventually become independent. Simm was recruited by the SVR, the successor of the KGB, when Estonia was a NATO candidate in the mid 1990's. While being a so-called 'sleeper', his career moved him into the perfect spot to pass virtually all secret documents, exchanged within the EU and NATO, to Russians. These included confidential NATO analyses on Kosovo, the Georgian war and the missile defense program. One of his means of communication with the SVR was a seemingly old radio, in reality a converted and sophisticated radio to contact his spy handler.

This shows that Russia has more than an eagle eye on Europe, and how security has become a serious problem in the ever expanding NATO alliance, which includes several former Soviet states. Thoroughly and far-sighted, as Russian intelligence always has been, they undoubtedly placed their chess pieces already many years ago in the future heart of the Western chess-board. You have to give it to them, they have a brio for long-term planning.

More on this spy case on CI Centre, WordPress, Spiegel Online and Поместить (Russian).

An interesting view on the successor of the Cold War: The Cold Peace.

No comments: