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Germany cuffs alleged Russian spies over plot to bomb industrial and military targets

Bavarian state police have arrested two German-Russian citizens on suspicion of being Russian spies and planning to bomb industrial and military facilities that participate in efforts to assist Ukraine defend itself against Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion.

The suspects, named as Dieter S and Alexander J, were arrested during a raid in Bayreuth on Wednesday morning after warrants were granted on April 9 and 11, according to the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office. The two men were apparently planning a bomb attack at the behest of Russia.

Dieter S was in on the sabotage plans since October 2023, the Prosecutor’s Office claimed, while Alexander J only became involved in March this year. The conspiracy had only gone as far as photographing and filming potential targets – such as the United States Army Garrison Bavaria near the German town Grafenwoehr, a site where Ukrainian soldiers have been trained to pilot M1 Abrams tanks according to the Financial Times.

Germany already had its eyes on Dieter S as he served in the Donetsk separatist army from 2014 to 2016, likely raising some red flags for German intelligence agencies. Dieter S was brought before the presiding judge on Thursday. Alexander J gets his day in court on Friday.

Russia has tried to undermine foreign aid to Ukraine ever since the illegal invasion in February 2022, using tactics including cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns, and good old politicking.

Had the bomb plot succeeded it would have been the most direct action Russia has taken against a member of NATO as part of the war effort in Ukraine and therefore a substantial escalation.

Germany is an especially important ally of Ukraine, having sent just over €22 billion ($23.4 billion) of aid according to data from think tank the Kiel Institute. That sum makes it the second-largest contributor to Ukraine in terms of both military aid and overall aid, behind only the US.

“It is a particularly serious case of alleged spy activity for Putin’s criminal regime,” declared Nancy Faeser, Germany’s interior minister. “We will continue to provide massive support for Ukraine and will not allow ourselves to be intimidated.”

Russia isn’t shy about performing violent operations abroad, however, allegedly including the 2018 poisoning of Sergie Skripal and his daughter, as well as other attacks in Europe since. It seems now that bombings are also on the table. ®