Germany arrests two for alleged military sabotage plot on behalf of Russia

By Andrey Sychev and Alexander Ratz

BERLIN (Reuters) -Two German-Russian nationals have been arrested in Germany on suspicion of plotting sabotage attacks, including on U.S. military facilities, in what officials called a serious effort to undermine military support for Ukraine.

Authorities have searched the homes and workplaces of the two suspects who stand accused of working for a foreign secret service. One of them, identified as Dieter S., had since October 2023 discussed possible plots with a person linked to the Russian secret service, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Germany has become one of Kyiv's biggest suppliers of military aid since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and is a major target for Russian spying operations, authorities have said.

"We can never accept that such espionage activities take place in Germany," German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told a news conference following an informal EU summit in Brussels.

"So we also have our own defense mechanisms to uncover them, as we always do," he added.

Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said suspicions that Putin was "recruiting agents from us to carry out attacks on German soil is extremely serious. We will not allow Putin to bring his terror to Germany".

Germany summoned the Russian ambassador over the arrests.

The Russian embassy in Germany referred to the incident as a "provocation" and said that Berlin had provided no evidence of the detainees' links to Russia.

"We reject attempts to find the involvement of Russian special services in the development of alleged plans to attack military facilities located in Germany, including American military bases, as absurd and ridiculous," the embassy said on its Facebook page.

The Kremlin had earlier said it had no information about the issue.


Dieter S. had been prepared to carry out bomb and arson attacks on military facilities, including those operated by U.S. forces, prosecutors said, adding that he took photos and videos of military transport and equipment.

A second person, Alexander J., began helping him from March at the latest, prosecutors said.

According to Spiegel magazine, the facilities included the Grafenwoehr army base in the southern state of Bavaria, where Ukrainian soldiers receive training to use U.S. Abrams tanks.

U.S., allied and partner training missions at Grafenwoehr, including the training of Ukrainians, continue, a U.S. military spokesperson said, but referred inquiries about the arrests to the German authorities.

The prosecutors suspect Dieter S., whose last name has not been disclosed due to German privacy laws, was a fighter for Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine from December 2014 to September 2016 in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic.

He was in possession of a firearm, prosecutors said.

In a separate case, prosecutors last month charged an officer in Germany's military procurement agency with attempting to pass secret information to Russian intelligence.

News of Thursday's arrests coincided with a surprise trip by German Economy Minister Robert Habeck to Ukraine.

Germany also issued an urgent appeal this week for countries to help shore up Ukraine's air defences as Russian forces continue to pound Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.

"We will continue to provide massive support to Ukraine and will not allow ourselves to be intimidated," Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.

(Reporting by Andrey Sychev, Sabine Siebold, Alexander Ratz, Miranda Murray and Riham AlkoussaWriting by Rachel More and Matthias WilliamsEditing by Madeline Chambers, Gareth Jones, Frances Kerry and Bill Berkrot)