Russia rebuilding capacity to destabilize European countries: UK report

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Russia is rebuilding its capacity to destabilize European countries and extend its influence in the Middle East and Africa, posing a strategic threat to NATO as its members focus on the war in Ukraine, a UK-based think tank said Tuesday.

In a sweeping report, researchers at the Royal United Services Institute argue that Western nations need to do more to counter Moscow’s use of unconventional warfare if they are to succeed in turning back Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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“As the war in Ukraine protracts, Russia has an interest in creating crises further afield,’’ authors Jack Watling, Oleksandr V. Danylyuk and Nick Reynolds wrote, citing the Balkans as a region that is ripe for mischief.

“Russia also has an active interest in destabilizing Ukraine’s partners, and with a slew of elections forthcoming across Europe there is a wide range of opportunities to exacerbate polarization,’’ the authors said.

The 35-page report by the think tank, founded in 1831, was released only days before the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

While Russian efforts to destabilize countries such as Moldova failed due to security lapses and the mass expulsion of Kremlin operatives, the Russian military is now strengthening its ability to launch unconventional attacks, the report says.

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Using documents obtained from Russian secret services and interviews with official bodies in Ukraine and some European states, the report weaves a narrative of Russia’s efforts to extend its influence beyond the present conflict in Ukraine.

The threat “extends beyond Ukraine and the active collaboration of those states that are being targeted," it said and urged for “sustained vigilance” over a range of issues.

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