A Russian spy attempted to recruit Lithuanian officials to bug the home of the Baltic NATO state’s president, prosecutors said on Friday.
The case is the latest in a string of Cold War-style espionage affairs involving Russians in eastern NATO member
nations amid intensified East-West tensions. Identified only as Russian FSB security service agent NF, the Russian citizen was charged with espionage, document forgery and illegally crossing the border, the prosecutors’ office said in a statement.
Recruitment efforts targeted security officials “in an attempt to install special listening devices” to bug President Dalia Grybauskaite at her home and office. The Russian has been under arrest since April 2015 after being detained on his way to Belarus on a train from the Kaliningrad region, Russia’s westernmost outpost bordering Lithuania and Poland.
The announcement, came a week before a NATO summit set to endorse a military build-up in eastern Europe to deter Russia. The efforts focus on four battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and meddling in eastern Ukraine.
Kremlin strongman Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused the US-led alliance of tearing up the military balance in Europe, a claim strongly rejected by Lithuania’s Defence Minister Juozas Olekas.
“NATO presence restores the balance because for the last decade NATO has reduced its defence resources while Russia increased capabilities(…) and attacked neighbours”, Olekas told AFP.
Earlier this year, Russian courts sentenced two Lithuanian nationals to 13 and 12 years in prison for spying on Moscow.
Neighbouring Poland, which hosts NATO summit on July 8-9, in May sentenced a high-ranking officer to six years behind bars for spying for Russia.