VILNIUS – Lithuania's State Security Department has issued a warning of rising risks for those travelling to Russia and Belarus amid rising tensions over Russia's war in Ukraine.
Intelligence services in the two countries have stepped up their effort to recruit incoming Lithuanian citizens, the SSD said.
"Effective counter-intelligence measures taken by Lithuanian intelligence agencies have made it more difficult for hostile countries' intelligence services to operate in Lithuania, therefore, in recent years, the services of hostile countries have in the past years been actively operating from their territory, making contacts with and trying to recruit Lithuanian citizens while they are visiting Russia or Belarus," the SSD said in a statement on Tuesday.
The SSD also warned that the main recruitment targets are people who have the opportunity to visit Russia or Belarus regularly, and it also points out that hostile countries' intelligence services are not only interested in people with access to classified information or who hold high-level positions.
"There is a tendency for Russian intelligence services to recruit everyone they can recruit, and only later decide on the purposes for which they could use the agents, such as gathering visual information, disseminating propaganda, acting as liaison officers, or supporting other operations," the report says.
To make contact, services may take measures like simulating an incident with law enforcement, migration or other authorities, sparking conflicts with criminals, or threatening to restrict access to Russia or Belarus for bureaucratic reasons.
The SSD urges Lithuanian citizens travelling to Russia and Belarus to be vigilant and responsible.