On Sunday, the Head of the Swedish Military Intelligence and Security Service joined the ranks of European security and intelligence services naming Russia as the main source of cyberattacks and influence operations.

On Swedish national TV, Gunnar Karlson explained why influence operations (operations focusing on affecting the behaviours of groups or populations) conducted by foreign states are a threat to sovereignty, democracy and democratic decision making. These campaigns can, according to Mr Karlson, include false information, distorted information and cyber attacks, and are not aimed at convincing anyone of certain views, but rather to create uncertainty in the targeted society. “The main problem is not the single events by themselves, but the fact that we often are subjected to simultaneous activities, that aim to undermine the belief in official information in general,” he said. “The most serious influence operations directed against Sweden are, quite obviously, conducted by Russia”, concluded Mr Karlson.

Last week, the head of the German domestic intelligence agency went public about disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks directed from Russia, as reported by Reuters. Hans-Georg Maassen pointed out that the campaigns target the Russian-speaking community in Germany, political movements, parties and other decision makers, with the aim to weaken and destabilize society. The Disinformation Digest has also previously written about various European secret services that have pointed out Russia as a main actor in disinformation activities.

Only this year, disinformation activities orchestrated by Russian authorities were highlighted e.g. by the UK House of Commons, the Estonian security service KAPO, the Lithuanian security service VSD, the Swedish security service SÄPO and the Czech Bezpečnostní informační služba BIS. In addition, the Latvian Security Police has identified the Russian propaganda campaign as a threat to Europe’s security in their annual report 2015. (Image: SVT)