NYT: Russia is conducting a sabotage campaign in Europe to disrupt military aid to Ukraine

An image from the London Fire Brigade’s social media account shows a warehouse fire in London in March that officials believe was Russian sabotage.

Russian intelligence services are ramping up sabotage activities in Europe to undermine Ukraine’s ability to receive military supplies, The New York Times reported.

According to the article, intelligence officials in the United States and its allies are monitoring an increase in the number of low-level sabotage activities in Europe, which they believe are part of a larger Russian attempt to undercut the West’s efforts to provide military assistance to Ukraine.

Among such activities, the newspaper highlights arson attacks on an English warehouse, a Polish paint business, Latvian residential buildings, and a Lithuanian Ikea shop.

The NYT also reports the arrest of Russian agents accused of planning assaults against US military bases.

While these measures appear to be random, US and European security officials say they are part of Russia’s coordinated strategy to hinder the flow of weaponry to Kyiv and create the appearance of growing hostility toward support for Ukraine.

The officials said the campaign is being led by Russia’s military intelligence.

According to the New York Times, the steps have not yet halted the supply of weaponry into Ukraine, and many of the targets are unrelated to the ongoing war. However, some security officials believe Russia is attempting to instill panic and drive European countries to strengthen security along the arms supply chain, which is increasing costs and decreasing delivery speeds.

According to officials in the United States and Europe, Russia is cautious in its sabotage efforts. Russia wants to draw attention to the unusual fires, but not to the extent of facing direct accusations, they claim.

One of the specific features of Russia’s sabotage effort is the use of recruited locals from European countries. According to officials in the United States and Europe, this strategy partially aims to conceal the attacks and produce a perception of internal resistance to Ukrainian assistance.

NATO ambassadors will meet next month with Avril Haines, the US Director of National Intelligence, to present intelligence on Russia’s war in Ukraine and address Russia’s sabotage campaign in Europe.

Several European leaders have warned of the growing Russia’s sabotage threat. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said last week that Russia was conducting a “shadow war” against Europe.

Read also: GRU, one-time spies, and fire: Russia intensifies its subversive activities in Europe

Earlier this month, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk confirmed that Russian intelligence agencies may have been behind the arson attack on a retail center in Warsaw but urged people not to speculate until the inquiry was done. Tusk announced that Polish special services had detained nine people on suspicion of participating in subversive activities in support of Russia.

Prime Minister of Norway, Jonas Gahr Store, said Russia posed “a real and serious threat,” after Norway warned about possible attacks targeting energy producers and weapon factories.

Recently, multiple arson attacks have occurred in European countries, with certain states, such as Lithuania and Estonia, officially claiming that Russia is responsible.

Sabotage acts by Russia in Europe are well known, the NYT reminded. In 2014, Russian military intelligence blew up an ammunition depot in the Czech Republic, although the Czech government publicly blamed Moscow only seven years later.

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