Danish Intelligence Report Lists Russia Among Greatest Threats
The new report by the Danish Intelligence Service highlighted Russia's rearmament and modernisation "in several disciplines" as a worrying development. Coupled with a deep mistrust of the West, this sparks a risk of an unintentional escalation due to misinterpretation, an intelligence representative noted.
Russia is "purposefully" spying on Denmark, including telephone tapping, cyberattacks, and more classic instruments from the espionage toolbox, where sources are recruited to reveal secrets, the Danish Defence Intelligence Service (FE) has claimed in its annual risk assessment, which also highlighted Russia's military superiority.
"We assess that there is a high and persistent espionage threat against Danish organisations, Danish authorities, and also a number of Danish companies", Anja Dalgaard-Nielsen of the Defence Intelligence Service told Danish Radio. "Russia has a very large capacity to carry out both classic agency activities and cyber espionage", she emphasised, without going into detail. "It is clear that when we write it that way, it is of course because we have a reason to do so", she said.
Compared to previous releases, this year's report places a greater overall emphasis on Russia, which is seen as challenging Denmark in other domains, including the Arctic, where both nations have territorial claims.
"We are using more force to describe Russia's instruments, its rearmament and modernisation of the armed forces that we have seen in several disciplines. This is a worrying development", Dalgaard-Nielsen said.
The report described Russian forces as having "a very high quality, which in some areas is also superior to modern, high-tech opponents". According to the Danish intelligence community, after five years of rearmament and modernisation of the military, Russia has now reached parity with NATO in some areas. This, according to Dalgaard-Nielsen, is especially true for the Baltic Sea region.
The Defence Intelligence Service also asserted that Russia has a deep distrust of the West, which creates the risk of an unintentional escalation.
"It is not because we assess that Russia wants war with NATO. We don't. Russia doesn't want war with NATO. But it worries us that the Russian leadership has a deep, deep distrust of the West and the West's motives and therefore there is a risk of misinterpretations and unintentional escalation. That is first and foremost our concern", Dalgaard-Nielsen concluded.
According to her, Russia is currently the strongest in the Baltic Sea and would have an advantage in the event of a conflict, as it could "prevent reinforcements from other NATO countries from reaching the area".
This is not the first time that Russia has been treated as a threat. Denmark's Nordic peers, Sweden and Finland, have repeatedly expressed concern about the modernisation of Russia's military and made similar spying allegations. Earlier this year, Swedish Navy Chief Ewa Skoog Haslum identified Russia and China as the biggest threats to the Scandinavian nation.
10 December 2021, 06:14 GMT
Alongside Russia, the Danish annual report also listed China and terrorism, not least from Islamist networks, as major threats. China is said to "use economic weight to put political and economic pressure" to promote its "global ambitions and more offensive behaviour" and "purposefully use cyber espionage". As for terrorism, the largest threat is considered to emanate from individuals and smaller networks, rather than larger groups such as al-Qaeda* or Daesh*.
Russian-Danish relations have soured over reciprocal allegations and criticism. In late November, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova ventured that Danish justice operates "in line with the country's general Russophobic course", commenting on the trial of a Russian scientist who was sentenced to three years in prison for espionage, after a court found that he had transferred data from the Technical University of Denmark and companies in North Jutland to Russian intelligence. Zakharova said the court failed to consider the case impartially and created a dangerous precedent, noting that Russian scientists may become victims of "witch hunts".
* Terrorist organisations banned in Russian and many other nations