Estonian Honey Trap
There is an attempt to discredit a NATO mission to protect its borders, Estonia'ss spy chief has warned.
Beware: Russia could set 'honey traps' for British troops when they deploy says Estonia's head of intelligence.
Mikk Marran, the head of the country’s equivalent of MI6, said Moscow will target the soldiers with a ‘huge tool box’, which will include fake news. In Cold War style-tactics, they will attempt to penetrate the soldiers’ social media accounts to find information for blackmail purposes, he said.
Some 800 UK troops, including cyber specialists, are deploying to the country as part of the biggest build-up on Russia’s borders since the Cold War.
Mr Marran said British and Estonian officials have been discussing the Russian threat to UK troops for months in an attempt to avoid Cold-War style spy games. He said the deployment will provide a perfect opportunity for Moscow to create a false impression of Western aggression by spreading fake news stories.
Speaking about the subversive efforts, the director-general of the Estonian Information Board (EIB), told the Times: ‘We are seeing some of it already.
‘Some degree of noise along the lines of: these troops are not welcome by the local population.’
‘There will be 800 young British soldiers. People will be travelling from their bases to the cities. Probably they will do some pub hopping.
‘We cannot exclude some fights that might be triggered by the opposite team, as we call it in Estonia. For example, traditional honey-traps and so forth.’
Soldiers from 5th Battalion, The Rifles, will head the British mission, which begins around the end of March. They will deploy alongside cyber warfare experts and GCHQ specialists trained to counter electronic attacks from Moscow.
Mr Marran added: ‘Cyber espionage might be used, disinformation campaigns might be used, blackmailing on the basis of stolen data for example. The UK troops will be working alongside 300 French soldiers in one of four battalions.
The battalions of 4,000 troops will be spread across the Baltic States and Poland to deter Russia from a Crimea-style invasion of Nato territory. The deployment will be a fraction of the Russian forces massed along Russia’s western border.
Last year the Army investigated claims two British troops in Latvia were involved in a brawl as part of a plot by Russia to smear UK soldiers. The brawl with a group of locals was filmed by a crew linked to a media outlet sympathetic to Russia.
Asked about that incident, Mr Marran said: ‘Certainly it had some Russian background to it.’
He spoke after his agency published a report about President Putin’s attempts to undermine Nato and the European Union.