While they are still on Russian soil, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) has been making systematic attempts to recruit war refugees from Russia who are coming to Estonia. The Estonian Internal Security Service (Kaitsepolitseiamet, ISS or KAPO) claims that the FSB has used threats of violence and financial inducements to promote collaboration.
Over 45,000 Ukrainian refugees took asylum in Estonia from the beginning of Russia’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February of last year and the end of 2022, according to the Estonian Internal Security Service’s (ISS or KAPO) annual report.
“The FSB’s actions against Ukrainians on Russian soil and in the seized regions were made obvious through interviews with war refugees. Ukrainians are being targeted as being opposed to and harmful to Russia, and are subjected to greater surveillance, including interrogations at border checkpoints and filtration camps. They are questioned, their property is inspected, their equipment is scrutinized, and sometimes threats and violence are also employed.”
According to the ISS, Estonians and war refugees are among those who have contacted the organization.
This has contributed to exposing the scope of Russian intelligence operations since the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in Estonia.
“For instance, the FSB has begun to routinely interrogate those who frequently travel to Russia for business. They are questioned about their opinions of Russia, its “special military operation” against Ukraine, as well as the claimed persecution of Russians in Estonia, at border crossings. Agents of the FSB record the discussions using either overt or covert cameras, including those that are fastened to the uniforms of border guards.”
The Russian political and military leadership has a bigger than usual demand for information during times of war, according to the ISS, therefore these kinds of efforts are only likely to increase in the future. Thus, its intelligence services are under more pressure.
Photo: Kaitsepolitseiamet, source: ERR.