• 21/07/2024 13:27

CNN: Over the past six months, NATO has been recording the escalation and spread of Russian hybrid warfare

Russian spies, increasingly finding themselves in European countries under the close attention of intelligence services, often hire local amateurs to commit crimes involving the supply of weapons to Ukraine. 

CNN: Over the past six months, NATO has been recording the escalation and spread of Russian hybrid warfare

Russian propaganda

Over the past six months, NATO has seen “an unprecedented escalation and spread of Russian hybrid warfare,” including “physical sabotage” of NATO weapons supply lines destined for Ukraine. 

CNN reports this with reference to senior NATO officials and representatives of European intelligence agencies. 

“From the point of production and origin to storage, from decision makers to actual delivery. It's bold. Russia is trying to intimidate our allies,” a senior NATO official said. 

CNN also notes that Russian spies, increasingly finding themselves in European countries under the scrutiny of intelligence agencies, often hire local amateurs to commit crimes aimed at the arms supply chain to Ukraine. 

Last year, Poland arrested 14 Ukrainians and two Belarusians in a single case on suspicion of working for Russian intelligence. Ukrainian Maksym L. was sentenced to six years after he spent weeks receiving instructions from a handler named Andrzej, whom he had never met in person but communicated with on Telegram.

In an interview with CNN from a Lublin prison, Maksym said his handler sent him tags with locations where he should install surveillance cameras along the railway tracks near the border town of Medyka, through which military and humanitarian aid would flow into Ukraine.

“I didn’t think it could cause any real harm. It seemed so insignificant,” he said.

Later, a Russian agent asked him to burn down the fence of a Ukrainian transport company in the eastern Polish town of Biała Podlaska.

However, Maxim finally realized that Andrzej was a Russian agent when he somehow ordered the installation of video cameras at a military base where he was training Ukrainian military. .

“Then I decided to quit. But I didn't have a chance. The next day I was arrested,” he said.

Polish internal security agents arrested Maxim on March 3, 2023 after weeks of surveillance. Numerous arrests followed.

Another Pole was arrested in April 2024 for possession of ammunition and surveillance of Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport, a center for the movement of NATO weapons for Ukraine. The attacker was suspected of plotting to kill Vladimir Zelensky, who also often used this object.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Russia was likely behind the arson attack on Poland's largest shopping center in May, and there were also suspicions about another fire at a munitions factory. Czech officials have expressed concern about Russian involvement in hacking attacks and railroad disruptions last year.

In June, a suspicious fire also occurred at a defense manufacturer's steel plant near Berlin. And another fire – in an east London warehouse in March – led to London's Metropolitan Police charging two men with arson and assisting Russian intelligence.

While not all of the incidents were definitively linked to Russian intelligence, they all had in common the apparent involvement of amateurs or small-time criminals.

A NATO official said Russia was using the full spectrum of hybrid operations: “We see everything from high-profile operations in Europe where certain types of intelligence work were paid up to €400,000 ($433,000) to cases where gangsters were hired for a few thousand euros.”

A spokesman for Estonia's Internal Security Service told CNN that Russia's activity had increased in recent months.

“We saw a significant increase in their activity last fall, and by winter we had detained more than 10 suspects. “The number of people involved in hybrid activities against Estonian security has increased in a way that we have not seen before,” the speaker emphasized.

He said that the operations are moving “into the phase of physical attacks,” and suggested that the war in Ukraine could lead to more aggressive Russian tactics in the coming months.


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