According to a report by The Washington Post on Friday (August 18), Poland managed to thwart a network of “novice” operatives set up by Russia within its borders. These individuals were allegedly assigned missions such as sabotage, assassination, and arson.
According to the US-based newspaper, the Russian intelligence, GRU, was the brains behind the whole operation who put up menial tasks like posting fliers or hanging signs in public spaces.
These cryptic job listings had begun appearing on Russian-language Telegram channels in Poland at the start of this year and that Russia.
The recruits were paid in cryptocurrencies and wire transfers from untraceable bank accounts, officials said.
Though the pay was meagre, it became a quick avenue to make cash for refugees from eastern Ukraine.
In the following weeks, the recruits were told to scout Polish seaports, place cameras along railways and hide tracking devices in military cargo, the Polish investigators told the newspaper.
But in March, new orders came that startled many: derail trains carrying weapons to Ukraine.
‘Most serious Russian threat on NATO soil’
The Polish authorities said that “the foiled operation posed the most serious Russian threat on NATO soil since Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine last year.”
Polish intelligence officers said that the chief motivation for the recruits was financial gain, rather than ideology.
“Russia’s objective was to disrupt a weapons pipeline through Poland that accounts for more than 80 per cent of the military hardware delivered to Ukraine, a massive flow that has altered the course of the war and that Russia has seemed helpless to interdict, according to Polish and Western security officials,” the Washington Post reported.
Since the dismantling of the network earlier this year, Poland’s security services have gathered evidence that has suggested that Russia has been planning other, deadly operations in Poland.
A representative of Poland’s domestic security service (ABW), who remained anonymous, told the newspaper that the Russian spy agencies are still active in Poland.
He claimed that recruits had also been tasked with carrying out arson attacks and an assassination, but would not discuss the targets.
“This threat was eliminated, but the broader threat remains,” he added.
Washington Post said that its article is based on interviews with more than a dozen security officials in Poland, Ukraine and the United States, as well as information from documents, suspects’ social media accounts, and interviews with relatives and associates of those arrested.