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Thread: Spies Of Warsaw Return As East-West Tensions Rise

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    Default Spies Of Warsaw Return As East-West Tensions Rise

    Spies Of Warsaw Return As East-West Tensions Rise

    October 31, 2014

    The winter snow has not yet started falling in Warsaw, but there is a distinct chill in the air around Poland’s intelligence agencies.

    A high-ranking military officer stands accused of espionage after his arrest in the country’s defence ministry. A lawyer with contacts throughout parliament has been taken into custody on spying charges. Cyber attacks on the country’s government have been linked to a foreign power.

    In the neighbouring Czech Republic, security services warn of a surge in the number of foreign intelligence officers working out of Prague’s embassies.

    All the events are unconnected, the respective spy agencies say, save for one thing: Russia.

    “The cold war and the Soviet Union are in the past,” BIS, the Czech security service, wrote in a report this week. “But the Russian passion for influence is not.”

    Whispers of Russian influence and espionage scandals ripple around a region that lived under four decades of Soviet rule and today looks nervously to the east at attempts by Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, to expand the country’s authority beyond its borders.

    The crisis in Ukraine, the subsequent breakdown in relations between Moscow and the EU and the latter’s trade sanctions has raised the threat level of Russian espionage in former Soviet states in eastern Europe, officials say.

    “The [foreign intelligence] activity is higher, for certain,” says Gromoslaw Czempinski, a former head of Poland’s security service. “It is to be expected. There is tension between Russia and Europe, and they would obviously like to know much more about sanctions, relations between countries.”

    This month, officers from Poland’s ABW, its domestic security agency, swooped on the country’s defence ministry in the centre of Warsaw to arrest a lieutenant-colonel, while a second team arrested a lawyer from a firm in the south of the city.

    According to local media reports, the military officer had been passing information to intelligence agents inside the Polish capital’s vast Russian embassy for the past three years, while the lawyer was involved with assisting Poland’s government on matters of energy and economic policy.

    In closed military and high-security courts, both men were remanded in custody for three months on espionage charges. Some Polish parliamentarians have called for their expulsion from the country.

    The decision to arrest the suspected spies, according to one Polish MP, was in part a means to show Russia’s security apparatus that they should not regard Poland as an easy conduit for information regarding EU or Nato measures or strategy.

    “This was likely connected with the political situation. This is a signal to Russia that we do not want this kind of spying activity in Warsaw,” said Piotr Niemczyk, a former deputy director of the Polish intelligence services. “We want to show that we will not tolerate it. This is the point of the game.”

    The arrests have raised anxiety levels in Poland’s internal security service, a person with knowledge of the organisation told the Financial Times, but the person added that the agency was confident potential external threats were “under control”.

    Spokesmen at the Polish military prosecutor’s office, which is handling the two arrests, and the country’s ABW internal security agency declined to comment when asked if counter-intelligence efforts had been increased in recent weeks.

    The developments came as an electronic security group this week claimed the Russian government was behind a series of cyber attacks on Polish government ministries. Moscow has denied it supports hackers.

    Poland’s Ministry of the Interior and the country’s foreign security agency declined to respond to requests for comment.

    Public scandals involving Russian influence and meddling in national affairs are not new in the former Soviet states of eastern Europe.

    In 1996, Poland’s then prime minister, Jozef Oleksy, was forced out of office over allegations that he had passed classified information to a KGB officer. In 2010, the Czech Republic was gripped by a scandal involving a Russian spy, three army generals and the alleged leaking of multibillion-dollar business secrets.

    The Czech secret service this week warned that Russia placed an “extremely high” number of intelligence officers at its embassy in Prague last year.

    It is a “clear priority” of Russia’s intelligence services to “consolidate and further expand its capacity of influence in the country,” the agency said in its annual report.

    “In 2013, the number of intelligence officers under diplomatic cover at the Russian diplomatic mission was extremely high and is complemented by intelligence officers, who travel to the Czech Republic (as tourists, experts, academics, businessmen, etc).”

    Russia’s embassies in Prague and Warsaw did not respond to requests for comment.

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    Default Re: Spies Of Warsaw Return As East-West Tensions Rise

    Nuclear war possible between Europe and Russia over Ukraine, Mikhail Gorbachev warns

    Published 09/01/2015 | 18:10

    Mr Gorbachev

    Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned that tensions between Russia and European powers over the Ukraine crisis could result in a major conflict or even nuclear war, in an interview to appear in a German news magazine on Saturday.

    "A war of this kind would unavoidably lead to a nuclear war," the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner told Der Spiegel news magazine, according to excerpts released on Friday.

    "We won't survive the coming years if someone loses their nerve in this overheated situation," added Gorbachev, 83. "This is not something I'm saying thoughtlessly. I am extremely concerned."

    Tensions between Russia and Western powers rose after pro-Russian separatists took control of large parts of eastern Ukraine and Russia annexed Crimea in early 2014.

    The United States, NATO and the European Union accuse Russia of sending troops and weapons to support the separatist uprising, and have imposed sanctions on Moscow.

    Russia denies providing the rebels with military support and fends off Western criticism of its annexation of Crimea, saying the Crimean people voted for it in a referendum.

    Gorbachev, who is widely admired in Germany for his role in opening the Berlin Wall and steps that led to Germany's reunification in 1990, warned against Western intervention in the Ukraine crisis.

    "The new Germany wants to intervene everywhere," he said in the interview. "In Germany evidently there are a lot of people who want to help create a new division in Europe."

    The elder statesman, whose "perestroika" (restructuring) policy helped end the Cold War, has previously warned of a new cold war and potentially dire consequences if tensions were not reduced over the Ukraine crisis.

    The diplomatic standoff over Ukraine is the worst between Moscow and the West since the Cold war ended more than two decades ago.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."

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