Netherlands incident highlights growing 'hybrid war' between Russia and West
THE HAGUE, Netherlands/LONDON -- "Hybrid warfare," mixing various methods such as military means, information manipulation and political maneuvering to "attack" other countries, is shaking international society. The Mainichi Shimbun went to the frontlines between Russia, which has been pointed to as actively engaging in hybrid warfare and European countries searching for countermeasures as caution toward Moscow increases.
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"I need to talk to some guests," one of two investigators dressed in plain clothes told the receptionist at the Marriot Hotel in The Hague, the Netherlands, on the evening of April 13, 2018. According to hotel General Manager Vincent Pahlplatz, no sooner had the investigators named four guests from Russia did the men in question enter the hotel lobby. The investigators called out to the men to come with them, and headed toward a service door toward the parking lot. Later, one investigator returned to the lobby, telling Pahlplatz, "These people will leave the country tonight." He received no other explanation.
It was half a year later that the hotel learned the truth about what had occurred. Just before noon on Oct. 2, Pahlplatz received a phone call from intelligence authorities. "We'd like to inform you there is going to be a press conference, and your hotel will be mentioned," the caller said. "It's good for you to watch, because you will finally know the reason why we took your guests."
About an hour later, Dutch Minister of Defense Anna Theodora Bernardina "Ank" Bijleveld-Schouten told the press, "On the 13th of April this year, the Netherlands Defense Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD) carried out an operation to disrupt a GRU operation targeting the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons -- the OPCW -- in The Hague."
GRU is the abbreviation for the Russian "Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff," a Russian intelligence body that has been active since the Soviet era. The four guests who vanishe d from the hotel that day had been Russian spies, operating out of a rental car in the hotel parking lot adjacent to OPCW headquarters, trying to infiltrate the organization's Wi-Fi network. They had reportedly been discovered and deported from the Netherlands.
Just after the announcement was made by the Dutch government, the United States Department of Justice also held a press conference, announcing that a total of seven Russian information agents had been indicted on charges of being involved in planning cyber-attacks across several nations.