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US, Germany disrupted Russian plot to assassinate Rheinmetall CEO, CNN reports

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 11, 2024 6:49 PM 2 min read
Armin Papperger, CEO of the German weapons producer Rheinmetall, addresses a virtual press conference at the company's headquarters in Duesseldorf, Germany, on March 14, 2024. (Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images)
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U.S. intelligence agencies discovered a Russian-linked plot to assassinate Armin Papperger, the CEO of German arms manufacturer Rheinmetall, CNN reported on July 11, citing intelligence sources.

The U.S. then shared the intel with their German counterparts, who "were then able to protect Papperger and foil the plot," CNN said.

Rheinmetall provides weapons and equipment to Ukraine under contracts with the German government, such as Leopard 1 tanks, mortar shells, and drone surveillance systems. The company has already opened one plant in Ukraine, and previously said it plans to open at least four production plants in the country in total.

CNN said that neither the Russian or German embassies in the U.S. responded to a request to for comment.

A spokesperson for Rheinmetall said that "the necessary measures are always taken in regular consultation with the security authorities."

Western intelligence officials have reportedly warned about increasing Russian sabotage operations across Europe, which have often been classified under the umbrella of hybrid operations.

The assassination plot, in line with other recent reporting about a Russian-linked arson plot reportedly aimed at U.S. military bases and personnel across Europe, raises doubts about whether the term hybrid operations correctly describes the extent of the danger stemming from Russian operations.

"I fundamentally reject the idea that what we're seeing is a hybrid campaign from Russia," a senior NATO official told CNN.

"(Hybrid campaigns) are things that meet that traditional definition of ‘below the threshold of armed conflict,'" the official said.

Considering the lethal nature of arson and assassination attempts, the official said that "I'm not as confident that those all fall below this threshold that 'hybrid' implies."

"We reiterate that hybrid operations against Allies could reach the level of an armed attack and could lead the North Atlantic Council to invoke Article 5," NATO said in a declaration on July 10 during the summit in Washington.

NATO's Article 5 commits each member state to consider an attack against one member state to be an attack against them all.

A NATO official told the Voice of America (VoA) on July 10 that any NATO country could theoretically request protection under Article 5 due to Russian hybrid operations.

When asked what NATO's response to Moscow's hybrid operations and attempts to destabilize Europe might be, the official said that "it all depends on what actions Russia continues to take." No member state has taken such actions yet, the official added.

Poland arrests 18 over half a year for suspected sabotage plans on behalf of Russia, Belarus
At least one of the suspects was involved in an alleged plot to assassinate Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, while the other ten were involved in planning various forms of sabotage, such as arson, across Poland.
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