In early 2023, mysterious job posting They began to appear on the Internet Poland: the tasks required were humble – distributing leaflets or placing posters in public places – and the salary was modest. nonetheless, for a group of refugees from eastern Ukraine, the prospect of quick earnings was too tempting to refuse. Candidates soon realize the catch: the jobs are included distribution of propaganda for Russia on behalf of an anonymous employer. nonetheless, for those who nevertheless agreed to complete their duties, there work took a more ominous turn.
In a few weeks, they asked for recruits Polish seaport patrolplace camera on the railroads and hide tracking devices of military burdens, according to what was immediately reconstructed by Polish investigators and reported today in a long investigation published in The Washington Post. Then, in March, the surprising order arrived: sabotage train carrying weapons in Ukraine.
The Polish authorities now believe that the Mysterious employer was the Russian military intelligence agency GRU and that the failed operation represents the most serious Russian threat on NATO soil since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last year. Russia’s goal was to disrupt flow of weapons through Poland, which constitutes more than 80% of military equipment delivered to Ukraine. A massive flow that changed the course of war and the like Russia could not interceptaccording to Polish and Western security officials.
The plan in Poland was an attempt to reverse the trend underway in many Western countries prevent the pervasive Russian spy network con expulsion and arrest, which began with the invasion of Ukraine and never stopped. Unable to rely on its own agents, Russia has recruited a team of amateursthrough announcements in Russian on Telegram channels in Poland frequented by Ukrainian refugees.
If successful, the scheme can bear fruit on several levels: slow arms delivery at the same time stir up resentment towards 1.5 million Ukrainians who had fled to Poland since the beginning of the war. Even in the event of bankruptcy, damage to Moscow would be very limitedand Ukrainians imprisoned in Poland instead of the most valuable GRU spy agents,
Senior Polish official said this the plan has passed a dangerous threshold. “This is the first sign that the Russians are trying organized sabotage, even terrorist attacks, in Poland“, said Stanislaw Zaryn, head of the country’s security service, in a recent interview with “The Washington Post”.
Currently arrested in Poland are 12 Ukrainian refugees, one Russian citizen and three Belarusian citizens.
The investigators found that Russia was planning other more serious operations. Recruits were instructed to do arson attack and murdersaid an investigator directly involved in the case for Poland’s internal security service, the ABW. The investigator did not disclose what the goals would have been under Titro.
“That threat has been eliminated, but the biggest threat remainssaid the investigator, who, like others, spoke to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, citing security and sensitivity concerns in the case. Russian secret services remain active in Poland, he said, and “will try to eliminate the mistakes they made”.
The plan in Poland reflects the outsourcing model long used by states and terrorist groups, including the Islamic State, which uses online methods to recruit agents and direct remote attacks aimed at sowing panic in the West. It also represents a significant change in fashion the intervention of the Russian secret services, whose agents were directly involved in the attempted poisoning of a Russian defector in England in 2018 and in the explosions in ammunition depots in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.
Plan to derail the train in Poland it was implemented at a time when Ukraine was planning a counter-offensive to launch in June, and powerful new weapons systems, including German-made Leopard tanks, were making their way over a narrow tangle of Polish roads and railways which is an inevitable funnel. for delivery.
Over the past 16 months, the United States and nearly 50 other countries have surrendered to Ukraine more than 150,000 tons of material, equivalent to the weight of 1,000 Boeing 747 aircraft, according to “The Washington Post”. Light ammunition sent at the beginning of the war was replaced by tanks, HIMARS rocket launchers and cruise missile systems Online game Shadow Storm. The United States alone committed more than $43 billion in military aid, according to the Pentagon. And there greater arm movement after what happened in the Atlantic during World War II. The vast majority of this material passed through Poland not only because of its strategic position on the western border of Ukraine, but also because of the position of Warsaw which was always (and historically) hostile towards Moscow.
Russia’s inability to intercept this constant flow of cargo baffled military officials and experts. This failure reflects major shortcomings in the Russian military, including a surprising inability to track or hit moving targets, as well as a probable reluctance on Moscow’s part. risk attack in western Ukraine that could flow into Poland and trigger a response from NATO.
Messages used to attract potential recruits were spread among job vacancies, accommodation tips and internet scams that populate the Telegram channels frequented by refugee groups in Poland. They promised payments ranging from a few dollars to hand out flyers to $12 to put up a postersaid the ABW investigator. There were leaflets and banners saying “POLAND IS DIFFERENT FROM UKRAINE”, “FEST, GO HOME” and “NOT positive”, according to information provided by ABW.
The distribution of these materials was two reasonsaccording to officers: stoke anti-Ukrainian sentiments in Poland but also tested there availability of recruits to work against the government that was welcoming them. Those who submitted photos that proved they had done what was asked were given the most important assignments. Some have been taught buy disposable cell phones e camera delivered to mailboxes in central Warsaw, ABW said. meanwhile, two young Ukrainians moved, according to the ABW report, instructions were given to place tracking devices under military convoys and near Polish seaports. The location and type of suggested devices were meant to be used for map of military convoy routes across Poland and locate where the trains stopped and unloaded. In March, the employer filed a request that described the two youths, now under arrest, as a “special work“. Their goal was to implement a derailment in the railway lines.
In addition to the tracking devices, Polish investigators also found out details of a plan to give away the trucks bring military supplies. The plan was based on a series of online video tutorials on how to make explosives, accessible via Telegram, and included information on how to fit the device into truck drivers’ cabs.
Although the network of espionage and sabotage was uncovered, Polish investigators and security officials say The Russian threat remains. ABW officers believe that more Russian agents are infiltrating Poland and trying to mount new operations. “I think this is just the beginning,” an ABW official told The Washington Post.
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