Norway’s millitary intelligence unit, known as E-tjenesten, became the latest state institution to warn that Russia can influence the outcome of national elections in September. Its leader, Gen Lt Morten Haga Lunde, called for new defense methods in Norway to ward off the threat that’s believed to be coming from the Kremlin.
“Based on Russia’s capacity and activities against western countries, we must acknowledge that Russian agents are sitting on information they can use directly or indirectly to influence political processes in other countries,” Lunde said. “This is especially relevant in 2017, with a string of national elections in Europe.”
Lunde claimed Russian agents have resorted to sabotage, social media and making threats via phone calls and text messages. “Part of the activity of the secret Russian service is driven by ambitions of weakening and influencing policy in neighbouring countries (like Norway) and western society,” Lunde said.
Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide, who attended the threat briefing on Monday, said there had been a “considerable increase in activity in our neighbouring regions in the north, both of a commercial and military character.” Søreide added that there was “a need to … focus on Russia and Russian military activity in our region.”
Lunde, responding to a question from Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), flatly denied either he or E-tjenesten were merely handing out propaganda of their own, to make Norwegians more wary of their Russian neighbour. He cited an increase in Russian submarine activity off the Norwegian coast and that they’ve become more difficult to discover. His agency’s request came just days after the police intelligence unit PST also targeted Russia as one of the biggest threats against Norway, along with Islamic extremists.