Image of the Kremlin, where Russia's leadership allegedly plans to sabotage Europe. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY


Russia ‘preparing covert bombings, arson, and infrastructure attacks in Europe’

Moscow has targeted Europe for years, but until now, has mainly limited itself to cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns


Russia is plotting numerous sabotage actions across Europe, according to three European intelligence services.

As the war in Ukraine rages, with Europe supporting Kyiv, Russia is actively preparing covert attacks on European infrastructure with little regard for civilian fatalities, reports the Financial Times.

Russia “has already begun to more actively prepare covert bombings, arson attacks and damage to infrastructure on European soil, directly and via proxies,” intelligence officials from three different European countries told the newspaper.

Moscow has targeted Europe for years, but until now, has mainly limited itself to cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns.

Its current intentions are much more aggressive.

“We assess the risk of state-controlled acts of sabotage to be significantly increased,” said Thomas Haldenwang, head of German domestic intelligence, at a security conference in April.

He said this days after a foiled attack on military and logistics sites in Germany, reportedly on behalf of Russia.

Two men were arrested in April for seeking destroy a warehouse with aid for Ukraine. UK prosecutors said they acted on behalf of the Kremlin.

Sweden saw a series of railway derailments suspected to be acts of Russian sabotage.

In early April, Czech transport minister Martin Kupka said Russia was trying to sabotage European railways by hacking into their signalling systems.

Thousands of attempts to interfere with rail networks and signals have occurred in a campaign designed to destabilise the European Union and disrupt critical infrastructure, according to Kupka.

Russia employs civilian ships, including fishing boats, in the Netherlands to spy and gather information about military bases, Dutch media reported last Saturday.

It is unclear whether Russians are getting more sloppy and getting caught, or if western counter-intelligences has become better at detecting and stopping it, Chatham House Russia expert Keir Giles told the Financial Times.

“As ever with Russia, it’s wise not to look for a single explanation of why they are doing anything. There’s always a combination of things going on,” said Giles.

“These pinprick attacks we’ve seen so far are of course to create disruption, but they can also be used for disinformation. And then there is what Russia learns from these attacks if they want to immobilise Europe for real…. They’re practice runs.”

European countries have still not fully understood Russia’s efforts to extend the war in Ukraine to other parts of Europe, Pami Aalto,  professor of international politics at Finland’s University of Tampere in Finland, told the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper.

“Little by little, small signs have begun to appear that Western countries have begun to take more responsibility for the war,” Aalto said.

NATO issued a statement on Russian hybrid activities on May 2.

Its Allies are “deeply concerned about recent malign activities on Allied territory, including those resulting in the investigation and charging of multiple individuals in connection with hostile state activity affecting Czechia, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and the United Kingdom,” said the statement.

Germany also threatened to hold Moscow accountable for a 2023 hacking attack on the Social Democratic Party, in a Friday statement supported by the EU and NATO.

The Council of the EU vowed it would “make use of the full spectrum of measures” at its disposal to respond to the hacking attempt, in a statement May 3.

European countries ejected over 600 Russian intelligence officers operating in Europe with diplomatic cover at the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the Financial Times notes.

But according to the UK’s Royal United Services Institute, Russia rebuilt its capacities, often via proxies.