10:57 GMT +320 August 2019
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    NATO Opens New Espionage Center in Krakow, Fearing 'Russia's Threat'

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    The new hub is aimed at expanding the alliance’s intelligence-gathering capabilities to face the imaginary "threats from Russia."

    Poland, one of the most vocal countries which are claiming that Russia is posing some invented dangers to its neighbors, has opened the second facility, which is officially called the NATO Counterintelligence Centre of Excellence (CI COE), on its territory.

    It is focused on "developing the basic norms, principles and activities" for the spy agencies of NATO allies, Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said during the opening ceremony on Thursday, which was also attended by his Hungarian, Romanian and Slovak counterparts.

    He stressed that the new hub, which is located in Poland's former capital Krakow, is "fundamentally important, especially in the face of threats from Russia." He further elaborated that espionage now "covers all areas of life," affecting the military as well as critical civilian infrastructure via both cybertools and conventional spying.

    Russia has repeatedly stressed that it has no intention of interfering into the affairs of the neighboring countries while pointing out that it is the alliance which is now operating and holding military drills on its very borders.

    The new hub was formally endorsed in 2015. Back then, NATO issued a statement, which said that it "aimed to expand the capabilities of the Alliance and its member nations to enhance NATO counter-intelligence and improve interoperability."

    The center is a Polish-Slovak initiative supported by Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic, who act as sponsoring nations.

    It is the 24th such facility operated by the alliance; they are aimed at "expanding interoperability, increasing capabilities, aiding in the development of doctrine and standards, conducting analyses, evaluating lessons-learned and experimenting in order to test and verify concepts," according to its official website. The first NATO COE was formally accredited on June 1 2005.

    The COEs are coordinated by the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, the US state of Virginia, and are responsible for various activities, including cyber defense, military medicine and counter-terrorism.

    ​The US-led military bloc has recently bolstered its forces in Eastern Europe and in the three Baltic states along Russia's borders with four international battalions.

    4,000 US soldiers have been deployed to Poland as part of troop rotations to Europe. 1,200 Canada-led troops are stationed in Latvia, 1,200 German-led servicemen are in Lithuania and 800 UK-led troops are in Estonia.

    Tags:
    cyber security, Counterintelligence Center, NATO, Krakow, Europe, Poland
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