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Germany arrests two suspected Russian spies accused of scouting US military installations for sabotage

Berlin- German authorities say they have arrested two people suspected of spying for Russia. The suspects, identified as German-Russian nationals, are accused of scouting potential attack targets, including U.S. military installations in Germany, the federal prosecutor general in Karlsruhe said in a statement released Thursday.

The arrests, made by police in the Bavarian town of Bayreuth, come amid high tensions between Russia and the West, more than two years after President Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine.

The alleged spies are accused by Germany of working to undermine Germany’s military support for Ukraine.

The individuals – identified by German prosecutors as Dieter S. and Alexander J. – are believed to have links to a Russian intelligence service and are accused of collecting information on potential targets for sabotage operations.

Dieter S. is accused of having been in contact with a person linked to a Russian secret service since October 2023, discussing plans for attacks on military infrastructure and industrial sites in Germany. He reportedly inspected some of the targeted sites in person, collecting photos and videos.

The detainees also spotted potential targets for attacks, including U.S. military installations in Germany, the prosecutor said.

A 2022 file image shows American and German flags in front of an armored fighting vehicle at the Grafenwoehr military training area in Bavaria, Germany, where American troops are training Ukrainian forces to use American weapons.


Dieter S. reportedly declared himself ready to carry out bomb attacks and arson attacks against military and industrial sites in Germany. Preparation involved gathering information on potential targets, with assistance from Alexander J. since March 2024, and sharing the information with his Russian contact.

The homes and workplaces of the two suspects were searched. An additional arrest warrant has been issued for Dieter S. on suspicion of affiliation with the foreign terrorist organization DPR – the Russian-backed de facto authority in the occupied Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine , which calls itself the Donetsk People’s Republic.

According to an investigation by German magazine Der Spiegel, the two suspects were spying on military sites that included U.S. military installations in Grafenwoehr, Bavaria. Grabfenwoehr is a major training site, where U.S. forces have helped train Ukrainian soldiers to use U.S.-made Abrams tanks.

Germany summoned Russia’s ambassador in Berlin to the Federal Foreign Ministry on Thursday in response to the incident, a move the Russian embassy called provocative as it called the spying allegations a ‘”absurd and ridiculous”.

“We consider this move to be a pure and simple provocation aimed at inciting the espionage madness already endemic in Germany, increasing the degree of anti-Russian sentiment, further destroying Russian-German relations, justifying the direction German authorities towards unbridled militarization and energizing Ukraine with weapons and military equipment,” the Russian embassy said in a statement shared on social media. “No evidence has been presented indicating the plans of the detainees and their possible connections with representatives of Russian structures.”

Nancy Faeser, German Federal Minister of the Interior, makes a statement in Saarbrücken about two suspected agents with ties to Russia who were arrested in Bavaria, April 18, 2024.

Harald Tittel/photo alliance/Getty

The arrests have fueled concerns about the scale of Russian espionage activities in Germany. German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser condemned the espionage suspicions as a “particularly serious case” and stressed Germany’s commitment to supporting Ukraine, despite attempts at intimidation.

Politicians have called for a decisive response to the threat posed by Russian agents operating in Germany. Konstantin von Notz, deputy leader of the Green Party and head of the intelligence monitoring committee in the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, said a reaction would be necessary if the allegations proved true.

The arrests in Bavaria echo incidents in Poland in March 2023, where authorities said they had dismantled a Russian spy network that aimed to sabotage Western arms deliveries to Ukraine.

The suspects included individuals with criminal backgrounds and refugees from eastern Ukraine. Polish officials said Russia’s GRU military intelligence service encouraged individuals to install cameras along railroad tracks used to transport weapons and other supplies to Ukraine. Another plan appeared to involve acts of sabotage, including the derailment of trains by Russian agents.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Bundeswehr has regularly received reports of suspicious drone activity above the barracks where Ukrainian soldiers train in the country, and the number of such incidents has increased significantly.

There have been 172 reports of suspected drones flying around barracks during 2022, military officials said. In 2023, 446 sightings have been reported.

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