Three men have been arrested in Germany, accused of acting on behalf of an unnamed foreign intelligence service. The men – named as “Robert A” from Ukraine, “Vardges I” from Armenia and Russian citizen “Arman S.”  were detained after being seen carrying out reconnaissance on a café in Frankfurt, allegedly targeting a Ukrainian national thought to be a customer.

European intelligence agencies warned at the beginning of May that Russia was planning violent acts of sabotage across Europe as part of a broader strategy to confront the West.

Germany's domestic intelligence chief, Thomas Haldenwang, warned of the growing threat from Russian inspired sabotage and espionage shortly after two men with dual German-Russian citizenship were arrested in Bavaria. The men were suspected of plotting attacks on military and logistics sites in Germany where materiel destined for Ukraine was held.

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Saboteurs operating across Europe

Germany has uncovered numerous espionage cases on its soil since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

A former German intelligence officer is on trial in Berlin, accused of passing details of Germany’s intelligence data on Russian mercenary operations in Ukraine. In May,

a former German soldier was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for sharing secret military information with Russia.

Moscow Increased Production of Missile that Struck Kids’ Hospital Eightfold
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Moscow Increased Production of Missile that Struck Kids’ Hospital Eightfold

A year before the full-scale invasion, Russia produced only 56 Kh-101 missiles, since then the Kremlin has forced factories to work around the clock, increasing production eightfold.

Germany is not the only target for suspected Russian sabotage activities. In March, Britain arrested several suspects thought to have carried out an arson attack on a warehouse in East London that stored communications equipment bound for Ukraine, along with another warehouse owned by the same company in Spain.

Last month, Poland arrested 12 suspected saboteurs who were allegedly planning attacks on equipment supply lines for Ukraine. A fire at the Berlin facility belonging to Diehl, a German air-defense missile manufacturer, is now thought to be an arson attack by Russian agents.

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Russia is also suspected of having organized and financed an arson attack that destroyed Warsaw’s largest shopping center in the Bialoleka district of the Polish capital on May 12 for which Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Russia was “likely” responsible. Czech prime minister Petr Fiala said in relation to a failed arson attack against a bus depot in Prague on June 10: “There’s a suspicion that the attack was likely organized and financed from Russia.”

Norwegian intelligence agencies said they had uncovered evidence of plots to target companies delivering arms to Ukraine. In early June, a Russian woman was arrested in Denmark and charged with helping a foreign intelligence service to operate in the country, according to the Danish national broadcaster DR.

In April, an explosion at a BAE Systems site in South Wales and a fire at the General Dynamics ammunition factory in Scranton Pennsylvania are now considered suspicious.

In November 2023, the owner of Bulgarian arms manufacturer Emco accused Moscow of staging multiple explosions at his facilities over the years, and a series of explosions that occurred in Czechia in 2014 were put down to a couple employed by Russian intelligence.

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