It started with a contest.
The Russian spies were to invent their own remote-controlled detonators. They also had to devise disguises for the triggers. Over the course of four days in a mosquito-infested guesthouse across the road from the infectious diseases hospital in Krasnodar, southern Russia, they hid their inventions in the casing of a WiFi router, within an apple juice container and inside a cell phone. In the end, everyone won. Three bespoke detonators were used to blow up a shipment of Soviet-era artillery shells made in Bulgaria and bound for Georgia, across the Black Sea.
The bombing represents the first known act of war by Russia against a NATO and EU member-state, evidence of which The Insider can reveal here for the first time. The operation is significant because it served as a debut for an elite group of saboteurs attached to Russia’s military intelligence service, known as GRU Unit 29155. The unit would go on to carry out the high-profile poisonings of GRU defector Sergei Skripal and a Bulgarian arms dealer, an abortive coup in Montenegro, and a spate of similar attacks on weapons and ammunition depots across Eastern Europe between 2011 and 2015.
Each black op was masterminded by a man who has come to earn the personal trust and patronage of Russian President Vladimir Putin – so much so, that Gen. Andrey Averyanov, 56, the commander of Unit 29155, has now inherited a sizable chunk of the empire that until recently belonged to Evgeny Prigozhin, the former Wagner mercenary chief whose private jet was blown up in August following his own failed insurrection in Russia. [Continue reading…]