Russia Has Top Secret Intelligence Unit Working To Destabilize Europe
An ultra-secret elite unit within Russia’s military intelligence apparatus, skilled in subversion, sabotage and assassination, has been wreaking havoc across Europe for years, according to a New York Times report, in an attempt to destabilize the continent.
Western security officials say the group, known as Unit 29155, has been active within the G.R.U. for the past decade but was only recently uncovered.
“The purpose of Unit 29155, which has not been previously reported, underscores the degree to which the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, is actively fighting the West with his brand of so-called hybrid warfare,” The Times wrote, which involves “a blend of propaganda, hacking attacks and disinformation — as well as open military confrontation.”
Some officers from the unit “are decorated veterans of Russia’s bloodiest wars, including in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Ukraine,” The Times reported, and their operations are so sensitive that Western officials believe other Russian intelligence operatives are unlikely aware of the group’s existence.
Unit 29155 has been implicated in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.
“This is a unit of the G.R.U. that has been active over the years across Europe,” one European security official told The Times, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss classified intelligence matters. “It’s been a surprise that the Russians, the G.R.U., this unit, have felt free to go ahead and carry out this extreme malign activity in friendly countries. That’s been a shock.”
The unit first came to Western authorities’ attention in 2016, following a failed coup attempt in Montenegro, “which involved a plot by two unit officers to kill the country’s prime minister and seize the Parliament building.”
Precisely one year before the Skripal poisoning, “three Unit 29155 operatives traveled to Britain, possibly for a practice run, two European officials said.”
Two of the officers involved were identified by Western intelligence as having also “been part of a team that attempted to poison the Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev in 2015.”
A retired G.R.U. officer who is familiar with Unit 29155 told The Times that “it specialized in preparing for ‘diversionary’ missions, ‘in groups or individually — bombings, murders, anything.’”
“They were serious guys who served there,” the former officer said. “They were officers who worked undercover and as international agents.”