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Russia Recruits Spies in Poland via Internet to Trace Weapons Transit, – WP

As WP notes, Russia is targeting people whose age and background are less likely to attract the attention of the security services, favoring refugees and young people in their 20s.

Russian intelligence agencies are recruiting agents in Poland via the Internet, including among Ukrainian refugees , to track the transit of weapons to Ukraine. According to WP , such vacancies began to appear on the Internet at the beginning of the year.

The publication reminds that earlier a large spy network collaborating with the Russian special services was uncovered in Poland. Over the course of several weeks, agents were tasked with scouting Polish seaports, placing cameras along railway lines and hiding tracking devices in military cargo, Polish investigators said. Then, in March, a new order came in to derail trains carrying weapons to Ukraine.

Polish authorities now believe that the customer was the Russian military intelligence agency, the GRU, and that the thwarted operation represented the most serious Russian threat to NATO territory since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began last year.

Russia’s goal was to disrupt the flow of weapons through Poland, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the military equipment supplied to Ukraine.

“Unable or unwilling to rely on its own operatives, Russia has assembled a team of dilettantes, including through Russian-language messages on Telegram channels in Poland frequented by Ukrainian refugees. Had this succeeded, the scheme could have paid off on multiple levels — slow down the supply of arms and foment discontent with the 1.5 million Ukrainians who have fled to Poland since the war began. Even if it failed, the downside for Moscow was limited: it was mostly displaced Ukrainians, not GRU operatives, who ended up in the Polish prison.

Spies outsourced

The plot in Poland reflects the outsourcing model long used by terrorist groups, using online methods to recruit operatives and remote attacks.

Messages used to solicit potential recruits have been scattered among job offers, housing advice and internet scams on Telegram channels frequented by refugee groups in Poland, Polish officials said.

Agents were promised to pay from a few dollars for graffiti, up to 12 dollars for a poster. According to information provided by the Polish intelligence service, there were leaflets and banners with the inscriptions “POLAND ≠ UKRAINE”, “NATO GO HOME” and “DO NOT BIDEN”.

The dissemination of such materials served two purposes, officials said: stoking anti-Ukrainian sentiment in Poland, and testing the readiness of recruits to take on more serious assignments.

Those who provided supporting photographs were given more dangerous assignments, collecting reports and photographs from railway stations, airfields, and seaports.

Recruits were paid in cryptocurrencies and wire transfers from untraceable bank accounts, officials said. The derailment, arson, and murder quests cost the most, even though they only cost a few hundred dollars.

Russia appeared to be targeting recruits whose age and background were less likely to attract the attention of the security services, officials said. Most were in their 20s, and one was only 16.

It was noted that the operation was based on the classic structure of cells, each of which had a leader, a confidant of the Russian special services. Those on the lower levels were kept in the dark and didn’t know each other unless it was necessary.

Polish officials involved in the investigation described the case as unlike any other they had encountered, reflecting the level of improvisation on the part of Russian spy services.

Russian spies in Belarus

In early July, the largest Russian intelligence network in the history of the country , which was created in early 2023, was exposed in Poland  . The goal of Russian saboteurs, among other things, was sabotage on the railway against trains that carry weapons and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Among the detainees there are citizens of Ukraine and Belarus.

Source : Униан