Germany arrests two men accused of spying for Russia as US nears Ukraine aid deal

Germany has been a strong ally of Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.
Germany has been a strong ally of Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion. Copyright Markus Schreiber/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Markus Schreiber/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Euronews with AP
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The latest developments from the war in Ukraine.

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Two German-Russian men have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of espionage, prosecutors said Thursday. 

One is accused of agreeing to carry out attacks on potential targets including US military facilities in hopes of sabotaging aid for Ukraine

The two, identified only as Dieter S. and Alexander J. in line with German privacy rules, were arrested Wednesday in the Bavarian city of Bayreuth, according to federal prosecutors.

They said Dieter S. had been discussing possible acts of sabotage in Germany with a person linked to Russian intelligence since October. 

The main aim was to undermine military support given by Germany to Ukraine, with Berlin a key European ally for Kyiv.

The suspect declared himself willing to carry out bombing and arson attacks on infrastructure used by the military and industrial sites in Germany, prosecutors said in a statement. 

He is said to have gathered information on potential targets, including US military facilities.

Alexander J. allegedly helped him to do so starting in March at the latest, while Dieter S. scouted out some of the sites, took photos and videos of military goods and passed the information to his intelligence contact.

A judge on Wednesday ordered that Dieter S. be kept in custody pending a possible indictment. Alexander J. was due to make a closed-door court appearance on Thursday.

Dieter S. also faces separate accusations of belonging to an armed unit of pro-Russian separatist forces in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine between December 2014 and September 2016.

Germany has become the second-biggest supplier of weapons to Ukraine after the United States since Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago. The US has a large military presence in Germany.

US lawmakers close in on Ukraine funding package

Joe Biden said Wednesday he strongly supports a proposal from Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson to provide aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. 

The US president's move offers crucial bipartisan support for the struggling effort to approve $95 billion in funding for the three US allies.

The step forward came as Ukraine's prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, visited Washington, DC in an attempt to shore up support. 

In an interview with the BBC, he warned that should Ukraine lose, "there will be many conflicts, many such kinds of wars, and in the end of the day, it could lead to the Third World War".

Johnson notified lawmakers on Wednesday that he would forge ahead despite growing anger on his party's right flank. Shortly after he released the aid proposals, the Democratic president offered his emphatic support.

“The House must pass the package this week, and the Senate should quickly follow,” Biden said. “I will sign this into law immediately to send a message to the world: We stand with our friends, and we won’t let Iran or Russia succeed.”

After agonising for days over how to proceed on the package, Johnson pushed ahead on a plan to hold votes on three funding packages – to provide about $61 billion for Ukraine, $26 billion for Israel and $8 billion to allies in the Indo-Pacific – as well as several other foreign policy proposals contained in a fourth bill. 

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The plan roughly matches the amounts that the Senate has already approved.

The bulk of the money for Ukraine would go to purchasing weapons and ammunition from US defence manufacturers. 

Johnson is also proposing that $9 billion of economic assistance for Kyiv be structured as forgivable loans, along with greater oversight on military aid.

The decision to support Ukraine at all has angered populist conservatives in the House, giving new impetus to a threat to remove him from the speaker’s office.

Swedish minister warns Russia risking 'environmental havoc' in Baltic Sea

The Swedish foreign minister has said that Russian oil shipping in the Baltic Sea carries major environmental risks, and that the Kremlin is indifferent to the potential consequences.

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In an interview with The Guardian, Tobias Billström warned that Russian ships using the Baltic to transport oil are often uninsured, old and not seaworthy.

“The fact that they are transporting oil, which fuels Russian aggression against Ukraine is bad enough," he told the paper. "But even worse is the fact that Russia doesn’t care one bit, apparently, about the fact that these ships could cause major environmental havoc in seas."

The sweeping Western sanctions imposed after Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine have apparently failed to damage the country's war economy particularly deeply. 

Russia is now thought to be preparing to resupply its army with tens or even hundreds of thousands of troops in preparation for a major new offensive.  

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