Experts believe that the bomb threats for the schools, shopping malls and some institutions in North Macedonia received so far, originate from Russia. Their purpose is to spread fear among citizens, in the context of the war in Ukraine, together with inciting anxiety over a possible conflict in the north of Kosovo, Portalb.mk reports.
In the past few months, North Macedonia, together with other countries in the region, has been the target of a high number of bomb threats for public buildings and places, which all have been false. After each threat, the Ministry of Interior (MoI) evacuates the people, but cannot trace the e-mail senders that caused havoc.
“The purpose of the bomb threats in North Macedonia and in some other countries in the region, is to boost fear, especially а psychological fear in the context of the war in Ukraine and anxiety over a possible isolated conflict in the north of Kosovo. The targets of the threats, namely the ethnically, culturally and religiously mixed countries in the region, were carefully selected by the malevolent actors. The latest threats represent a new campaign and change in the Russian-Serbian psychological disinformation strategy for the Western Balkans”, says Selim Ibraimi, international politics expert, author and journalist covering geopolitical and security issues in Europe and on the Balkans.
Nikola Dujovski, professor at the Faculty of Security in Skopje, sees these threats as part of the Russian hybrid war against the NATO members.
“These hybrid threats are part of the hybrid war Russia wages against this part of the world. No one must doubt that! I see most of these threats as part of the hybrid Russian war against NATO members. Being the latest country to join NATO, we are still vulnerable regarding the procedure for exchange of information and probably that is why we are the target of most of these attacks, much more than any other country… The possibility of discovering the exact place where these threats were sent from at this specific moment is equal to zero”, Dujovski said for Telma TV.
Ibraimi also believes that the intimidating methods have a logical sequence with the Russian techniques present in the Western Balkans since 2008.
According to him, the new situation created in Eastern Europe and in the north of Kosovo could be quite interesting for third countries and internal political players to create an unstable environment in the Balkans and in North Macedonia before the amendment of the Constitution.
“Russia continues to use some local stakeholders from the region to influence and increase the fear in the conflict zones. North Macedonia, or, more precisely, the intelligence services, should start analyzing the signals that are easily retrievable from the telecommunication institutions. One must stress the determination of the country to discover who stands behind the threats”, Ibraimi claims.
For the prime minister Dimitar Kovachevski, there is no doubt that the country is suffering from hybrid attacks and what we see is a monstrous act. The messages about planted bombs aim to destabilize the country and the whole region because similar happenings have been registered in the neighbouring countries, as well.
“These hybrid attacks are due to geostrategic and local goals. They became more frequent following the military attack of Ukraine. Such attacks have been noted in Serbia and Montenegro, but attacks are also reported in New Zealand, the USA, Canada and Germany”, Kovachevski said.
He thinks that MoI did not underperform its duties, regardless of the fact that it cannot discover the author(s) of the threatening messages for almost three months. The prime minister confirmed that the messages were sent from abroad through some Virtual Private Network (VPN).
On the other hand, the Minister of Interior, Oliver Spasovski, stated that the Council for Cordination of the Intelligence Services will investigate the situation with the bomb threats. The Minister reported that the Sector for International Police Cooperation is constantly communicating with Interpol and Europol.
He also said that the threats for planted bombs were part of the hybrid war that is ongoing not only in our country.
“We share the information, mainly with the countries from the region that receive similar threats such as Serbia – that has been receiving these threats for years now, in continuity – Montenegro, Croatia, Germany, USA, New Zealand, but also many other countries in this period with almost the same text of the message”, said Minister Spasovski.
From the 26th of October onward, the false threats of planted bombs are being sent regularly several times per week, in the beginning for secondary schools in Skopje, but later to the primary schools and to many institutions, shopping malls, high rises, infrastructural facilities such as the Transportation Centre and the International Airport. MoI informed that all the threats were false.