Hackers post bogus plan to attack Russia on Lithuanian Defence Ministry site

An announcement that Lithuania is preparing a joint attack alongside Estonia, Latvia and Poland on the neighbouring Russian enclave of Kaliningrad appeared on the Lithuania's armed forces' official site yesterday after it was subject to an apparent cyber attack.

Lithuania and its Baltic neighbours have been among the countries most concerned by Russia's annexation of Crimea as they all have sizeable Russian speaking populations. While Lithuania's Russian population is by far the smallest of the three, it borders the heavily armed, strategic Russian territory of Kaliningrad and the Kremlin's military activity around it has kept Lithuania's security forces on high alert.

Yesterday's post came as Lithuania has joined military exercises with 13 Nato member states and Finland, to test their battle readiness in collective drills dubbed Sabre Strike 2015. However, the unofficial post announced that the armed forces of the three Baltic states and Poland were in fact taking part in the exercise as preparation to annex Kaliningrad, Baltic news portal Delfi reports.

The "announcement" has since been deleted and the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence has issued a statement claiming the information about a planned attack on Russia is "false", and that Lithuania's National Cyber Security Centre has already kicked off an investigation into the attack.

The ministry highlighted the fact that a private company and not the armed forces is in charge of maintaining the website.

The minister of defence Juozas Olekas has already said that measures will be taken to ensure a similar hack does not happen again, adding that the act is intended to discredit Lithuania and Nato.

"Undoubtedly this is an unfriendly act towards Lithuania and Nato whether it is [perpetrated] by people or an organisation," Olekas added. No details about potential suspects have been unveiled as of yet.

Since relations between the West and Russia have worsened over the crisis in Ukraine, the Baltic states have been among the most vocal advocates of increasing Nato defences. All three countries are former Soviet Republics and have expressed fear of Russia's apparent desire to regain influence in what was once the USSR's eastern bloc.

Lithuania has reintroduced military conscription since the start of war in Ukraine, while both the Lithuanian and Estonian Ministries of Defence have expressed alarm that increased Russian military exercises near their borders could be used as a cover for redeploying forces towards their territories.

The Lithuanian government published a citizen guide last year for spotting signs of Russian 'hybrid attacks' similar to those that preceded the Ukraine conflict.