National Security News

Reporting the facts on national security

National Security News

Germany National Security Russia Ukraine War

Two suspected Russian spies arrested in Germany after sabotage plot uncovered.

President Vladimir Putin

Two alleged Russian spies suspected of plotting to sabotage German military aid for Ukraine have been arrested in the southern German state of Bavaria.
The two men, described as dual German-Russian nationals, were detained in Bayreuth on suspicion of spying for Russia, according to prosecutors
The two suspects are accused of scouting US military facilities and other sites.
The main suspect, Dieter S, has been remanded in pre-trial detention accused of a string of offences, including plotting an explosion, arson and maintaining contact with Russian intelligence.
He is also alleged to have fought for a Russian proxy armed force in occupied eastern Ukraine from 2014-16.
The second suspect, identified as Alexander J, is accused of helping him since last month to identify potential targets for attack. He was due to appear in court on Thursday.
Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said authorities had prevented “possible explosive attacks”.
The Russian ambassador has been summoned by the foreign ministry in Berlin but the Kremlin said it has no knowledge of their arrest.
Ms Faeser condemned what she described as “a particularly serious case of alleged spy activity for [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s criminal regime”. Colonel Philip Ingram, former British Army intelligence officer told National Security News: “There are hundreds of Russian intelligence assets working in the UK and across Europe. Assets will include declared and undeclared intelligence officers and individuals they have recruited to work for them. In addition to those permanently in countries, the Russians will move more intelligence assets to places to carry out specific operations such as assassination, eavesdropping, sabotage and reconnaissance missions. Western intelligence works well together and it is likely a multi agency international operation that has helped the Germans identify and arrest these Russian operatives. Germany is the second largest donor of military aid to Ukraine after the US, earmarking some £24bn since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
According to prosecutors, Dieter S is alleged to have discussed potential sabotage operations in Germany with his Russian contact since October last year, in an attempt to undermine its support for Ukraine.
They cite preparing explosive and arson attacks, especially on military and industrial infrastructure.
Dieter S is said to have scouted potential targets including US military facilities, taking photos and videos and handing the information to the Russian contact.
According to the Spiegel website, a US Army facility at Grafenwöhr in Bavaria was spied on.
The arrests come just days after an explosion at a British munitions base in Monmouthshire run by BAe Systems. But an investigation has concluded that the explosion was not deliberate.
Another fire was reported to have broken out at a military base on Scranton in Pennsylvania that had been producing munitions including artillery and mortar shells for Ukraine.
General Dynamics, which owns the base, said that the fire was soon extinguished.
Last June Bulgaria’s Economy Minister Bogdan Bogdanov suggested Russia could have been responsible for an explosion at an arms factory in the town of Karnobat, just as Bulgaria was ramping up military exports to Ukraine.
The blast comes amid an investigation by the Bulgarian authorities into a series of similar incidents in recent years at arms depots housing ammunition meant to be exported to Ukraine. The probe is looking into potential ties between the blasts and Russia.
Last year, the US sent dozens of Abrams battle tanks to Bavaria for Ukrainian soldiers to train on at Grafenwöhr and another base at Hohenfels before the tanks were sent to the front line in Ukraine.
The case is reminiscent of a series of arrests in Poland a year ago, when authorities said they had dismantled a Russian spy network which was preparing sabotage attacks aimed at paralysing supplies of military aid to Ukraine.
German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann told German news agency DPA that the two arrests were “another significant investigative success” in the fight against Russian sabotage and spy networks.
Among the targets for the alleged spies were US bases in Bavaria where Ukrainian soldiers have trained on Abrams battle tanks
Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck, currently on an unannounced visit to Kyiv, said on Thursday that he was there “at a time when Ukraine needed all the support it can get in its fight for freedom.
The government in Berlin is spearheading a plan to help bolster Ukraine’s air defences.
Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday that EU countries should try to help Ukraine with additional air defence systems, especially Patriot systems. Germany has already sent Ukraine two Patriot air defences and has promised a third.
The two arrests in Bavaria follow several other high-profile espionage cases in Germany.
Last summer a German national working for the military procurement agency was arrested in the western city of Koblenz on suspicion of handing information to Russian diplomats in Bonn and Berlin.
In a separate scandal, the former boss of a collapsed German payment processing company, Wirecard, is believed to have fled to Moscow after the firm collapsed. Jan Marsalek is now suspected of being a Russian spy, who recruited officials in Austria to pass on sensitive information.