Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service’s annual report

Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service’s annual report: “International security and Estonia 2021” is focused on policy analysis of China, Russia and Belarus. CEA provides quotes of important parts of this report. This analysis is a part of CEA’s Think Tank Detektor project, aimed to detect disinformation.

Daniel Hinšt, Centre for Public Policy and Economic Analysis, Vice President

Daniel Hinšt completed Advanced Master of European Studies and graduated Political Science at the University of Zagreb. His study specializations are public policy and public management, as well as international relations and diplomacy, with additional research interests in administrative and governance reform, European economic integration, comparative politics, geopolitics, national security and intelligence services. His recent policy analysis and research is mostly focused on designing methodologically based policy solutions for institutional reforms, and on detecting disinformation that pose geopolitical risks to values of the individual liberty and transatlantic institutions (EU-NATO).


China’s ambition to become the world leader in technology poses major security threats.

Cyber espionage has also been one of China’s traditional means of getting hold of foreign high technology.

The CCP and Chinese private enterprises are often linked either directly or indirectly.

Implementing China’s foreign policy doctrine, or creating a “community of common destiny”, will lead to a silenced world dominated by Beijing. Faced with growing confrontation with the West, China’s main goal is to create a division between the United States and Europe.

China is becoming an increasingly authoritarian regime centred around the growing personality cult.

Criticism of the Chinese authorities and foreign missions, which began to spread within the Chinese diaspora, was quickly suppressed. Chinese educators were instructed to delete all social media posts critical of the Chinese authorities and to spread this spirit of censorship through as many channels as possible. The CCP holds Chinese citizens living abroad under ideological control and surveillance through cells created by party members, including employees of state-owned enterprises, journalists, diplomats and students.

The Chinese authorities have begun to recruit Chinese people living abroad as well as Westerners and Western information channels to disseminate its message.

The status of Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the situation of the Uyghurs and Tibetans are addressed strictly within the limits acceptable to the Chinese authorities.

China follows Russia’s example in spreading propaganda and disinformation.

The Chinese propaganda machine uses Western information channels to spread its narrative.


Russia itself is working to promote: a transition towards multipolarity in international relations and declining Western influence on the global stage.

Russia also continues to apply deception in its foreign policy against NATO as a whole to weaken the alliance and transatlantic relations.

Russia has consistently sought to use its political, economic and military leverage to impede these countries’ integrating and developing relations with Euro-Atlantic organisations. To this end, Russia works against establishing the rule of law, civil society and free elections in its neighbouring countries, fearing that democratic ideas might also catch on among the Russian population.

Russia is trying to prevent the deployment of US missile systems in Europe and the resulting change in the balance of power. The Russian leadership remains concerned about US missile defence system Aegis Ashore facilities in Europe, which in Russia’s view would prevent it from being able to threaten NATO with a nuclear attack.

The Russian leadership believes that the global epidemic will force the West to focus on domestic policy and economic problems, cause populist and extremist movements to emerge, and ultimately undermine the values-based and institutional unity of Western societies. For its part, Russia is prepared to add fuel to the flames to encourage these trends. Therefore, 2021 will again see Russian influence operations designed to create and deepen divides within and between Western societies, including at the EU level.

For Russia, psychological warfare is the information-psychological influencing of foreign audiences to change their views and behaviour in Russia’s national interest, including achieving the Russian Armed Forces’ objectives.

Russian services are likely to exploit deepfake technology, among other things. This threat will be particularly high once technological development reaches a level where deepfakes are convincing enough to be unrecognizable to the human eye. This would make it more difficult for the public to distinguish false information from the truth.

Regular media monitoring reports identify, among other things, influential Western publications’ articles that are in line with Russian interests; these are boosted through fake social media accounts and GRU-controlled online portals.

A regime that is closely tied to an ageing autocrat is showing growing signs of fatigue. The system seems to lack ideas as well as energy and opportunities for elegant political manoeuvring.

Russia’s stagnated economic performance is mainly due to the government’s unwillingness to reform the existing state-capitalist model. This has been accompanied by reduced competition in the economy, inefficient governance and corruption, as well as a decline in investment activity.

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has sharply highlighted the Russian economy’s structural weaknesses, the main factors being over-reliance on the export of energy carriers, an uncertain investment climate and the public sector’s excessive involvement in the economy.


The root cause of Belarus’s low standard of living is its failure to carry out economic reforms following the breakup of the Soviet Union. As social modernisation has been artificially delayed for decades, reforms would cause a shock.

The Belarusian economy is heavily dependent on Russia.

Source of all quotes and the photo in the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service’s annual report
Valisluureamet: International security and Estonia 2021