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Estonia report: Russia bets on COVID-19 weakening the West for personal rise in worldwide affairs – World News , Firstpost

Estonia’s overseas intelligence company mentioned in a report that 2021 will once more see Russian affect operations designed to create and deepen divides inside and between Western societies, together with on the EU degree

File picture of Russian president Vladimir Putin. AP

Helsinki: Estonia’s overseas intelligence company mentioned Wednesday that Russia is relying on the COVID-19 pandemic to weaken unity within the West which might assist Moscow achieve a extra distinguished position in worldwide affairs and result in “declining Western influence on the global stage.”

The Kremlin thinks the pandemic will drive Western nations to deal with home coverage and financial issues and facilitate the emergence of populist and extremist actions, the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service mentioned in its annual report.

“For its half, Russia is ready so as to add gas to the flames to encourage these developments,” the report states. “Therefore, 2021 will again see Russian influence operations designed to create and deepen divides within and between Western societies, including at the EU (European Union) level.”

The authors of the 79-page doc mentioned Russia’s technique would doubtless embody makes an attempt to discredit COVID-19 vaccines developed in Western international locations, particularly the one made by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca. Russian propaganda has labeled the vaccine AstraZeneca developed with Oxford University in England as a “monkey vaccine”.

“With these smear campaigns, Russia hopes, on the one hand, to create a extra favorable place for its personal vaccines on the world market and then again, to advertise its strategic ambition to point out itself as being the primary among the many main powers to supply an answer to the COVID-19 disaster,” the report mentioned.

The Russian authorities didn’t provide a right away response to the intelligence report from Estonia, a former Soviet republic. Moscow has repeatedly denied comparable Western claims of malign intentions up to now. It additionally has accused the West of making an attempt to discredit the Russia-produced COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V.

Russia is actively selling Sputnik V in a number of European nations, together with Serbia. Hungary was the primary and to date solely European Union nation to have buy portions of Sputnik V.

“The coronavirus epidemic hasn’t diminished the actions and ambitions of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s regime. On the opposite, we are able to see how there’s an try and make the most of the pandemic to reap features for (Russia’s) home and overseas coverage,” the Estonian company’s Director General Mikk Marran advised reporters throughout a information convention in Tallinn, the nation’s capital.

Addressing the brand new U.S. management and President Joe Biden, the report mentioned that Russia’s agenda towards Washington isn’t prone to considerably change and can stay “largely confrontational.”

Estonia’s relations with neighboring Russia have remained chilly ever since 1991, when the Baltic nation of 1.three million and its neighbors Latvia and Lithuania regained their independence amid the autumn of the Soviet Union. The three international locations have since joined NATO and the European Union.

Though focusing largely on occasions in Russia or in neighboring nations resembling Belarus and Ukraine, the report additionally mentioned developments in China. It mentioned Beijing’s bold plan to develop into the worldwide chief in expertise “poses major security threats” to the remainder of the world.

New era 5G cellular networks, superior satellite tv for pc navigation expertise, cloud providers and synthetic intelligence have been listed within the report as examples of the place China both has or hopes to play a key world position.

China’s “leadership has a clear objective of making the world dependent on Chinese technology,” the doc states.

The report’s authors additionally warned Estonia’s management that integrating the nation “into China’s autonomous technology ecosystem makes Estonia vulnerable and dependent on China.”

Estonia beforehand banned China’s Huawei, the world’s main 5G expertise supplier, from supplying expertise and gear to the federal government, citing safety issues.

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