(Huffington Post/Berggruen Institute) On Friday, Russia's Federal Security Service (the FSB) kidnapped an Estonian intelligence officer at gunpoint, using a smoke bomb and jamming Estonian radio communications. Moscow later claimed it had captured a spy. This marks a disturbing new turn in Russia's relationship with NATO, especially because it appears to have happened on Estonian territory (despite Moscow's claims to the contrary).
Russia captured and imprisoned some Ukrainian military officers in 2014, including the celebrated pilot Nadia Savchenko. (She has reportedly been confined in a notorious Moscow psychiatric hospital, used in Soviet times to punish dissidents.) The Kremlin has also been suspected of involvement in violence against its own former citizens abroad, like former FSB operative Alexander Litvinenko, murdered by polonium-210 poisoning in London in 2006. And there have certainly been captured spy exchanges, like the one following the Russian "sleeper spy" revelations in 2010.
But never before in the post-Cold War era has Russia so clearly targeted a state security official from a NATO country for violence.
What makes this even more disturbing is its timing. Just two days after U.S. President Barack Obama emphasized in Tallinn that the U.S. and Estonia "stand together" in NATO, and the same day that NATO promised at its summit meeting in Wales to "effectively address the specific challenges posed by hybrid warfare threats," Russia's President Vladimir Putin appears to be testing those claims. […]
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