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The alliance has opened a new counterespionage hub in Krakow, Poland, which is aimed at expanding the alliance’s intelligence-gathering capabilities to face the imaginary “threats from Russia.”
The new facility, which is officially called the NATO Counterintelligence Centre of Excellence (CI COE), is focused on “developing the basic norms, principles and activities” for the spy agencies of NATO allies, Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz said during the opening ceremony on Thursday, which was also attended by his Hungarian, Romanian and Slovak counterparts.
He stressed that the hub, which is located in Poland’s former capital Krakow, is “fundamentally important, especially in the face of threats from Russia.” He further elaborated that espionage now “covers all areas of life,” affecting the military as well as critical civilian infrastructure via both cybertools and conventional spying.
The new hub was formally endorsed in 2015. Back then, NATO issued a statement, which said that it “aimed to expand the capabilities of the Alliance and its member nations to enhance NATO counter-intelligence and improve interoperability.”
The center is a Polish-Slovak initiative supported by Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic, who act as sponsoring nations.
It is the 24th such facility operated by the alliance; they are aimed at “expanding interoperability, increasing capabilities, aiding in the development of doctrine and standards, conducting analyses, evaluating lessons-learned and experimenting in order to test and verify concepts,” according to its official website. The first NATO COE was formally accredited on June 1 2005.
The COEs are coordinated by the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk, the US state of Virginia, and are responsible for various activities, including cyber defense, military medicine and counter-terrorism.
4,000 US soldiers have been deployed to Poland as part of troop rotations to Europe. 1,200 Canada-led troops are stationed in Latvia, 1,200 German-led servicemen are in Lithuania and 800 UK-led troops are in Estonia.