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Poland increases security at Ukraine aid export hub over sabotage concerns

by Rachel Amran May 23, 2024 8:10 PM 2 min read
A French Air Force A400M military transport plane on the tarmac of Rzeszow-Jasionka Airport in Jasionka, Poland, on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023. (Damian Lemański/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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Polish authorities are increasing security at the main transit hub for foreign military aid to Ukraine amidst increased threats of Russian-backed sabotage, Bloomberg reported on May 23.

At least 12 residents of Poland have been arrested in recent months for spying or planning to commit acts of sabotage within Polish territory on behalf of Russia. Just this week, the Polish government arrested nine members of a Russian spy ring in connection to alleged sabotage plots.

Polish Interior Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told Bloomberg that the increased security measures would be centered around the Rzeszow-Jasionka airport. The facility is located less than 62 miles from the Ukrainian border and transports a significant percentage of Western materiel bound for the front lines. It also serves as a main stopover point for foreign leadership traveling to Kyiv on official visits.

“We are facing a foreign state that is conducting hostile and — in military parlance — kinetic action on Polish territory,” Siemoniak said. “There has never been anything like this before.” Siemoniak did not provide details on the nature of these expanded security measures.  

The Polish official emphasized that the country is facing an unprecedented amount of foreign interference following Prime Minister Donald Tusk's announcement that as many as 12 people have been detained in connection to alleged acts of sabotage directed by Russian intelligence. Some of these acts of sabotage include beatings and arson.

The minister said Poland is grappling with an unprecedented level of foreign interference after Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced that as many as 12 people had been detained as part of a crackdown on alleged acts of sabotage directed at Russia. The cases involve arson, attempted arson as well as physical attacks.

Earlier this year, Polish law enforcement agencies detained a Polish citizen who allegedly offered to Russia to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky by spying on the security of the Rzeszow-Jasionka airport.

In March 2023, Polish authorities detained at least 16 members of a Russian spy ring tasked with gathering information on the number of transports to Ukraine in the region surrounding the Rzeszow-Jasionka airport, the level of security measures in place, and the type of equipment.

“We’re no longer talking about agents of influence or some online activities,” Siemoniak said. “These are individuals who are ready to come and set things on fire.”

Several other suspects have been arrested in Germany, Austria, and Estonia for allegedly spying for Russia or other forms of collaboration with Russian intelligence.

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