Germany arrests three men on suspicion of spying on Ukrainian citizen

German prosecutors said three suspects had been caught 'scouting' a café in Frankfurt
German prosecutors said three suspects had been caught 'scouting' a café in Frankfurt - fhm/Moment RF

German police have arrested three men on suspicion of spying on a Ukrainian citizen in Frankfurt for a “foreign intelligence service”.

In a statement on Friday, German prosecutors said the three men had been caught “scouting” a café in Frankfurt as part of their espionage work.

They were named only as Ukrainian citizen Robert A, Vardges I, an Armenian national and Arman S, a Russian, in line with German privacy laws.

“The accused are strongly suspected of having worked for a foreign secret service,” prosecutors said, in a possible reference to Moscow.

It was not immediately clear why the men were spying on their Ukrainian target, but Russia has ramped up sabotage and spying operations on Nato states in retaliation for their support of Kyiv in the war.

Evidence fire started deliberately

It came as a report in Bild, a German tabloid, said the authorities were investigating suspicions that a fire at an arms factory in Berlin was an act of Russian sabotage.

An allied foreign security agency informed Berlin that there was evidence that the fire was started deliberately, the newspaper reported. The factory is owned by Diehl Metall, a subsidiary of German Diehl Group, which produces IRIS-T missiles for Ukrainian forces.

Earlier this year, German police also arrested two Russian-German citizens on charges of plotting to attack US military sites in Bavaria which are supporting the war effort in Ukraine.

In an interview with The Telegraph, the head of the Bundestag’s intelligence committee warned that Berlin was grappling with espionage and destabilisation on an almost daily basis.

Konstantin von Notz also warned that the German far-Right, notably the AfD, was being used as a puppet by Moscow to advance its goals.

In perhaps the most controversial spying case so far, an aide to a senior AfD MEP, Jian Guo, was arrested in April on charges of spying for China.

Maximilian Krah, the MEP who employed Mr Guo, is also under investigation for receiving suspicious payments from Russia and China, He denies any wrongdoing.

Also on Friday, a Russian citizen was detained in Montenegro on suspicion of attempting to interfere in the US elections. Russian officials confirmed they had been notified of the arrest but did not give further details of the allegations.