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German authorities thwart suspected Russian sabotage plot targeting military aid to Ukraine

Two men described as German-Russian dual nationals were suspected of spying for Moscow and arrested.
Wintershell Dea
One of the Wintershell Dea’s factories in Germany Credit: Wintershall Dea/Justin Jin
German authorities thwart suspected Russian sabotage plot targeting military aid to Ukraine

German authorities have arrested two men suspected of spying for Moscow and plotting to sabotage German military support for Ukraine. The suspects, described as German-Russian dual nationals, were apprehended in the city of Bayreuth in the southern state of Bavaria.

The case also serves as a stark reminder of the persistent threat posed by Russian espionage activities within the borders of close NATO allies.

Interior Minister Nancy Faeser hailed the arrests, stating that authorities had prevented “possible explosive attacks” aimed at undermining Germany’s crucial military aid pipeline to Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion.

The main suspect, identified only as Dieter S. due to privacy laws, has been remanded in pre-trial detention on a string of serious charges. These include plotting an explosion, arson, and maintaining contact with Russian intelligence agencies – a grave accusation in the midst of the ongoing war.

Prosecutors allege that Dieter S. fought for a pro-Russian armed group in eastern Ukraine between 2014 and 2016, highlighting his likely sympathies towards Moscow. Since October 2022, he is suspected of discussing potential sabotage operations within Germany with his Russian handlers, with the explicit aim of disrupting military aid shipments to Ukraine.

The second suspect, Alexander J., is accused of assisting Dieter S. since last month in identifying and surveilling potential targets for attacks, including taking photographs and videos of sites like US military facilities. He was due to appear before a judge on Thursday.

The arrests mark a small victory in Germany’s efforts to counter Russian espionage and sabotage attempts. Germany, as the second-largest donor of military aid to Ukraine after the United States, has pledged €28 billion (£24 billion) in support since Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.

According to prosecutors, the suspects’ alleged activities included planning explosive and arson attacks, with a particular focus on military and industrial infrastructure critical to sustaining aid flows to Ukraine. Dieter S. is said to have scouted potential targets, including US Army facilities such as those in Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels, where Ukrainian soldiers have received training on advanced Abrams battle tanks before their deployment to the front lines.

The Russian ambassador to Germany has been summoned by the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, underscoring the gravity of the allegations. Interior Minister Faeser condemned the case as “a particularly serious instance of alleged spy activity for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s criminal regime.”

The arrests come amidst heightened concerns over Russian espionage and sabotage activities within Germany and other Western nations supporting Ukraine. Last year, Polish authorities dismantled a Russian spy network that had been preparing sabotage attacks aimed at paralyzing the supply of military aid to Ukraine.

German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann praised the arrests as “another significant investigative success” in the ongoing fight against Russian subversion and intelligence operations within the country.

As Germany spearheads efforts to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses, including the provision of advanced Patriot missile systems, the thwarting of this alleged sabotage plot underscores the determination of German authorities to safeguard the integrity of their support for Ukraine’s defensive efforts against Russian aggression.

Read also:

  1. [Switzerland is main hub for Russian spies, says Swiss intelligence service]
  2. [Germany’s Russia problem runs deep despite war in Ukraine]
  3. [WSJ: Wirecard fraudster CEO was Russian agent for nearly a decade]
  4. [Germany announces new military support for Ukraine worth over USD 427 million]
  5. [Putin actively using Cold War Stasi agent network in Germany, Reitschuster says]
  6. [Acquiring agents of influence – major task of Russian spy services, Khmelnytskyi says]
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