Estonia's Foreign Intelligence Service - About the Main Threats from the Russian Federation to Ukraine


We are publishing some conclusions of our colleagues from the Foreign Intelligence Service of Estonia, which are in their traditional (sixth) annual report “International Security and Estonia”.

”The Kremlin's strategic priority is the neighboring region, where Ukraine and Belarus are the priority countries in maintaining Russia's sphere of influence. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has strived to secure economic and military dominance in the region and deflect any interference by competing international powers”.

”Russia continues its aggression against Ukraine. Russia is pressuring Ukraine to recognise the representatives of the occupying forces as legitimate negotiating partners. Russia’s occupation of Crimea continues, and no progress has been made towards a settlement of the conflict in the East of Ukraine, despite Ukraine’s efforts”.

”Reintegration of the occupied Donbas into Ukraine on the conditions dictated by the Kremlin is unacceptable to the Ukrainian authorities. Nevertheless, Russia is playing for time, expecting that an unresolved conflict will sooner or later force the Ukrainian leadership to make concessions”.

”The Russian side is increasingly blaming Ukraine for withdrawing from the Minsk Agreements… in particular, criticising the Ukrainian Parliament’s decision to rule out elections in the occupied Donbas”.

”The reality in the occupied territories of Eastern Ukraine is determined by the occupying powers, which can restore military pressure on Ukraine at any time with the help of Russian-led and equipped armed forces. The occupying forces have tanks, armoured vehicles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers (MRLs) in numbers that only a few European nations can match. The presence of such a threat in the occupied part of Ukraine, a European nation, is a clear sign of Russia’s unwillingness to renounce aggression”.

”Russia fully supports pro-Russian forces in Ukrainian politics, who want Russia’s sovereignty of Crimea to be recognized and the conflict in the East of Ukraine to be resolved on the terms dictated by Russia….In the run-up to elections in Ukraine, the Russian leadership extended particular hospitality to the politicians of the Ukrainian Opposition Platform For Life. President Putin’s longtime acquaintance, Ukrainian oligarch and member of Parliament Viktor Medvedchuk, is a frequent visitor with the Russian head of state. After such meetings, the main message sent to the public is a declaration of the inseparable destinies and close ties between Ukraine and Russia”.

”With such unabashed influence activities, Russia hopes to help Ukrainian political forces that would prefer to gravitate towards Moscow and oppose Ukraine’s chosen European path”.

«One of the main tasks of the Russian special services, apart from intelligence gathering in other countries, is to influence foreign populations in the Kremlin’s strategic interests».

«Russia sees psychological warfare as part of a comprehensive informational confrontation with the enemy (mainly Western countries). All three Russian special services – the FSB, SVR and GRU – are involved in covert influence operations, each with a different focus».

«According to the Russian Armed Forces’ doctrine, psychological warfare is one of the three main components of ‘informational confrontation’ – the other two being information-technical influencing foreign countries (e.g. through cyberattacks) and protecting Russia against foreign information operations».

«Russia sees psychological warfare as part of a comprehensive informational confron-tation with the enemy (mainly Western countries), and it is ongoing both during conflict and in peacetime».

«According to Russian doctrine, the targets of psychological warfare include the political leadership, military personnel and their families, the civilian population, and certain specific target groups, such as ethnic and religious minorities, opposition groups and businesspeople – in friendly, neutral and hostile foreign countries alike. This means that the entire world population outside Russia is a potential targe»t.

«In 2020, GRU-controlled English-language online portals (such as, and disseminated false information about the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine the Western countries’ efforts to control the spread of the virus».

«Russia continues to be the primary security threat to Western democracies also in cyberspace. In addition to espionage, Russian special services are actively using cyberspace in their influence operations to create divisions in Western societies, transnational relations and NATO».