Europe on high alert after suspected Moscow-linked arson and sabotage

Europe on high alert after suspected Moscow-linked arson and sabotage

The Guardian reports:

Security services around Europe are on alert to a potential new weapon of Russia’s war – arson and sabotage – after a spate of mystery fires and attacks on infrastructure in the Baltics, Germany and the UK.

When a fire broke out in Ikea in Vilnius in Lithuania this month, few passed any remarks until the Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, suggested it could have been the work of a foreign saboteur.

Investigators have already alleged potential Russian involvement in an arson attack in east London, an inferno that destroyed the largest shopping mall in Poland, a sabotage attempt in Bavaria in Germany and antisemitic graffiti in Paris.

While there is no evidence that any of these incidents across the continent are coordinated, security services believe they could be part of an attempt by Moscow to destabilise the west, which has backed Ukraine.

They point out that after the cold war, foreign intelligence operations consisted of spies and their handlers, but in the era of social media, vandals can be hired, leaving few connections to other attackers as pay-as-you-go saboteurs paid a few hundred euros or in cryptocurrency.

Such is the emerging concern that these hybrid attacks could be the work of Russia that the issue was raised at a summit of foreign and defence ministers in Brussels this week with Dutch, Estonian and Lithuanian security officials all warning of national vulnerabilities.

One minister, who asked not to be named said, they were deeply worried about “sabotage, physical sabotage, organised, financed and done by Russian proxies”. [Continue reading…]

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