Russian ‘espionage ring’ exposed after sneaking into Poland3 min read
US Military release footage of Russian jet colliding with drone
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Russians believed to be spies working for Putin to tamper with Ukrainian supply lines have been caught in Poland. Polish authorities said on Thursday that the nation’s security services detained nine members of a Russian espionage ring, alleging they were preparing acts of sabotage in Poland and had been monitoring railroad routes used for the transport of weapons into Ukraine.
Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński said the Internal Security Agency arrested the suspects on Wednesday.
He said at a news conference in Warsaw that the suspects were preparing “sabotage actions aimed at paralysing the supply of equipment, weapons and aid to Ukraine”.
He said the security agents also seized cameras, electronic equipment and GPS transmitters, which the suspects planned to place on transports carrying aid to Ukraine.
Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak suggested that the group had entered from Belarus, a Russian ally that borders NATO member Poland.
“The threat was real,” Błaszczak said on state radio.
The evening news bulletin of Belarusian state television confirmed that the three detainees are citizens of Belarus.
Their relatives denied in interviews that the detainees were involved in a Russian spy ring.
A commentary on Belarus state television linked the detentions to the fall elections in Poland, when the ruling conservatives will hope for a third term.
It accused Polish authorities of needing “showcase stories” to boost their popularity and distract from economic problems.
Polish private radio RMF FM broke the news about the arrests, saying the group had been collecting information in southeastern Poland around the military airport in Jasionka.
That is a transit point for weapons and munitions sent to Ukraine by countries supporting Kyiv’s fight against Russia’s invasion that has entered its second year.
Kamiński said that the operation against the alleged espionage ring was still underway and that more details would be revealed at a later time.
It comes as the US government released a video of a Russian fighter jet dumping fuel on a US Air Force surveillance drone as the U.S. sought to hold Russia responsible for the collision that led to the drone’s crash into the Black Sea without escalating already fraught tensions with the Kremlin.
The US military’s declassified 42-second color footage shows a Russian Su-27 approaching the back of the MQ-9 Reaper drone and releasing fuel as it passes, the Pentagon said. Dumping the fuel appeared to be aimed at blinding the drone’s optical instruments to drive it from the area.
On a second approach, either the same jet or another Russian Su-27 that had been shadowing the MQ-9 struck the drone’s propeller, damaging a blade, according to the U.S. military, which said it then ditched the aircraft in the sea.
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The video excerpt does not show the collision, although it does show the damage to the propeller.
Russia said its fighters did not strike the drone and claimed the unmanned aerial vehicle went down after making a sharp manoeuvre.
While calling out Russia for “reckless” action, the White House tried to strike a balance to avoid exacerbating tensions. US officials said they have not been able to determine whether the Russian pilot intentionally struck the American drone and stressed that lines of communication with Moscow remain open.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said: “I can’t point to that video and say this is a deliberate attempt to escalate or … tangibly bring about Putin’s false claim that this is about the West versus Russia.
“We have made clear on many occasions, we do not seek a conflict with Russia.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin argues that by providing weapons to Ukraine and sharing intelligence information with Kyiv, the US and its allies have effectively become engaged in the war, now in its 13th month.
Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said Wednesday that an attempt would be made to recover the drone debris.
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