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German police arrest two men for plotting sabotage on Russia's behalf

Passers-by walk past the Reichstag building in Berlin Friday, April 5, 2024.
Passers-by walk past the Reichstag building in Berlin Friday, April 5, 2024. Copyright Monika Skolimowska/(c) Copyright 2024, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten
Copyright Monika Skolimowska/(c) Copyright 2024, dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte vorbehalten
By Tamsin Paternoster with AP
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The two German-Russian nationals are accused of planning attacks on US military sites in an effort to interfere with military assistance for Ukraine.

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German police have arrested two men whom they accuse of plotting to sabotage support for Ukraine, possibly on behalf of the Russian government.

The two men, named as Dieter S. and Alexander J., are "strongly suspected of having worked for a foreign secret service" according to a press release posted by the Federal Prosecutor's Office. 

Dieter S. is accused of exchanging ideas about "possible sabotage actions" with a person connected to the Russian secret service.

He is also suspected of preparing to carry out explosive and arson attacks on German and American military and industrial sites as well as being a member of the "Donetsk People's Republic" (DPR) which is classified as a foreign terrorist organisation in Germany. 

The press release states that Dieter S. worked in eastern Ukraine between December 2014 and September 2016 in a pro-Russian separatist unit.

Germany's Interior Minister Nancy Faeser explained that security authorities had prevented bomb attacks that were "intended to hit and undermine" Germany's military assistance to Ukraine.

She added that Germany would continue to thwart any such efforts, and that it had ramped up security measures against threats from Russia.

Germany is the second-biggest supplier of weapons to Ukraine after the US, having donated some €28 billion in aid since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said that, "The suspicion that Putin is recruiting agents in our country to carry out attacks on German soil is extremely grave. We will not allow Putin to bring his terror to Germany."

She added that this message was communicated to the Russian ambassador to Germany, who was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin in reaction to the incident. 

Although prosecutors did not name any specific locations that the suspects targeted, Der Spiegel reported that one was the US Grafenwoehr military base in Bavaria.

The arrests mimic a swoop in Poland a year ago, where six foreign citizens were charged with spying for Russia and preparing acts of sabotage.

Germany is also currently grappling with a court case in which former agent of the federal BND intelligence service stands charged with treason after allegedly passing state secrets to Russia.

The agent, Carsten L., has denied the charges, claiming he was attempting to glean Russian intelligence in an ongoing case.

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