Russia Strives to Weaken NATO, EU Ties, Czech Spy Agency Says

Russian agents in the Czech Republic are trying to undermine the unity of European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization through an extensive online misinformation campaign, according to the Czech counterintelligence agency, the BIS.

The central European country has a “disproportionate” number of Russian spies on its territory, the Prague-based BIS said in its annual report Thursday. The agents are focusing particularly on spreading false information about armed conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, as well as trying to erode relationships among European countries, it said. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov didn’t reply immediately to a phone message seeking comment, while the press department at the Russian embassy in Prague didn’t answer repeated phone calls.

There have been attempts “to subvert Czech-Polish relations, to spread alarming disinformation about EU and NATO, and to create the feeling of a virtual threat of war with Russia,” the agency said in the report. Russian agents have also been working to damage the reputation of Ukraine and deepen its international isolation, BIS said.

The Czech report echoes concerns by other NATO members over Russia’s military exercises and airspace violations in the Baltic region. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania aren’t sufficiently protected should President Vladimir Putin choose to test the alliance’s collective-defense pledges, research groups including RAND Corp. have said. Russia says a larger NATO footprint in the region would only escalate tensions.

Chinese intelligence services have also stepped up their activities in the Czech Republic last year, deepening their infiltration of the country’s political and business circles, the report said.

— With assistance by Stepan Kravchenko

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