24 November 2017, Friday, 3:00

Jacek Jan Komar: We Expect Provocations Before And During West-2017 Exercises

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Jacek Jan Komar

Lithuanian border guards detained and then took off the train a group of Russian military at the border with Kaliningrad.

Four Russian servicemen in civilian clothes tried to cross Lithuania on the Kaliningrad-Moscow transit train. According to the public relations representative of the Lithuanian State Border Protection Service Giedrius Mishutis, after checking the train it was found out there were four Russian soldiers in civilian clothes in one of the compartments. When a group of four or more Russian servicemen travels through Lithuania, they are considered to be a military detachment, and they need a permission to travel through the country in this case. The Russian military did not have a proper permit.

At Charter97.org’s request, political scientist from Lithuania Jacek Jan Komar agreed to comment on the incident.

– Is the attempt to transit Russian military in civilian clothes through Lithuania a disorder or a malicious intent?

– In fact, we do not know much about the incident with the group of Russian servicemen wearing civilian clothes. The basic information about this and other similar incidents is classified, however, if we take into account the reports of the Lithuanian special services about the growing activity of Russian intelligence agencies on the territory of the country, it is possible to assume with good reason that the incident was provoked by the Russian side deliberately.

– That is, in actual fact, it was done consciously, wasn’t it?

– Yes exactly. Here I would like to quote a fragment from the report of the Lithuanian Internal Security Department for 2016: "It can be noted that Russian special services are trying to get into the territory of other states in peacetime. During such operations, their participants are trained to penetrate into the foreign territory without attracting attention. Similar cases occured in 2015. Not once Lithuania’s territory was crossed by the GRU and FSB personnel in transit."

– What do these incidents attest?

– The Lithuanian special services hold by the opinion that we are dealing with the attempts to check the efficiency and effectiveness of the activities of both the border service of the country and themselves. There is no reason to hold to the opposite opinion, so I think that in this regard, our services are ready for this scenario.

– How many similar incidents, in your opinion, have already occured and why was this particular case made public?

– It is not possible to determine exactly how many similar incidents have been there. As I have already mentioned, the information is most likely to be classified and only a part of it goes public. Nevertheless, in our case, it should be noted that the services operated according to the existing protocols. The publicity that the incident got in the media indicates that the Lithuanian special services continue their preventive activities in the society. Let me remind you that one of their manifestations was, for example, the publication of booklets in which it was told how to recognize recruitment by representatives of foreign intelligence services.

– What are your predictions about the future?

– I suppose that the number of such incidents, as well as the growth of Russian aviation activity over the Baltic Sea, and even the flights of Russian and Belarusian drones over the territory of Lithuania, will be repeated with unfailing regularity. The peak of such activity will coincide with any large military exercises of the Russian and Belarusian armies – in our case, for example, with the exercises West-2017.