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Poland arrests Russian agents intending to sabotage Western arms shipments to Ukraine

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Poland has broken up a spy ring sent by Russia to monitor and sabotage arms shipments sent from the West to Ukraine.

Attempting to sabotage Polish infrastructure represents a serious escalation by Moscow and is a departure from its decision thus far to avoid striking any targets outside of Ukraine. Any attack on Polish territory would be covered by NATO’s collective defense. 

Polish security officials didn’t disclose the nationalities of the nine alleged spies, but stated that all were foreigners from the east of Poland who had entered the country via Belarus. However, Belarusian television reported that three of the arrested suspects were Belarusian nationals.

The arrests came just a day after CIA Director William Burns visited Warsaw and met with Polish President Andrzej Duda. Burns has been a key player in shuttling U.S. arms and equipment to the Ukrainians via Poland. 

Related: Sabotage targets: A saboteur’s guide to targeting an invading force

Poland’s Interior Minister, Mariusz Kaminski, who heads the Polish Internal Security Agency (ABW), said that the nine people were “suspected of collaborating with the Russian secret services.”

“The suspects conducted intelligence activities against Poland and prepared acts of sabotage at the request of Russian intelligence,” the minister added.

Six of those arrested were charged with having installed secret cameras to film transport infrastructure used to deliver military aid to Ukraine. Allegedly, the group had installed dozens of cameras along important railway junctions and transport routes that run into Ukraine.

Many of the cameras were recovered close to a small regional airport in Rzeszow that has been used as an international logistics hub to deliver Western military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Polish security also recovered GPS transmitters that were to be attached to the arms shipments to track their locations. 

Kaminski said that more information regarding the spy ring would be released soon, but the investigation continues. 

Feature Image: Polish policemen, October 2020. (Photo by Heshq/Wikimedia Commons)

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Steve Balestrieri