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Belgian intelligence: Foreign espionage activity at highest level since Cold War

Belgian intelligence announced that foreign espionage activity in the country has reached the highest level since the Cold War.

According to the first annual report of Belgium's General Intelligence and Security Service, espionage and foreign interference have reached levels not seen since the Cold War.

The threat from Russia focuses specifically on increasing cyber-attacks, data being taken hostage and destroyed if ransom is not paid.

The question of who is behind such attacks complicates matters. For example, if it is proved that the perpetrator of an attack on a NATO member is a state, collective defense can be activated in accordance with Article 5, but the nature of the attack falls behind this criterion.

It is also observed that Russia carries out cyber reconnaissance activities for critical infrastructures, especially energy.

Parallel to the states, there are also espionage activities carried out by private cyber actors and private military companies. Russia's Wagner company and the Israeli Pegasus company, which was involved in a eavesdropping scandal, are cited as examples for such structures targeting groups such as dissidents, journalists, and human rights activists.

Wim Robberecht, chief of the service, told local media about the report, "The calm we have known since the end of the Cold War is over. This has been the case since Russia's invasion of Crimea in 2014. Since then, the security situation has only become more alarming. came." he said.

Stating that the threat in question started to come not only from Russia but also from China, Robberecht said, "Technologically, China is extremely efficient. Last year, we were hacked by Chinese operators close to the state in both our interior and defense departments." used the phrases.

Although on a smaller scale than Russia and China, Iran also stands out in terms of cyber attacks.

Espionage activities have been on the agenda for a while in Belgium

In February, Belgian Minister of Justice and North Sea Vincent Van Quickenborne announced that a Russian ship had been sailing off the North Sea since November 2022 and its activities were being investigated on suspicion of espionage, as the ship had approached wind farms, undersea natural gas and other critical infrastructure.

In recent weeks, the satellite communication equipment used to transmit sensitive information back to Russia at the Russian Embassy in Brussels has been on the agenda, and the news that the largest number of Russian "spy antennas" in Europe is located in Belgium, was reflected in the press.

Since Brussels hosts many international institutions, especially NATO and the European Union, Belgium is known to be the target of espionage activities.

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