A group of more than a dozen Russian spies belonging to an elite unit of military intelligence that carried out operations in Europe, including the attempted poisoning of defector Sergei Skripal, used a French alpine region as a rear base, a report said on Wednesday.
An investigation by British, Swiss, French and US intelligence had drawn up a list of 15 members of the 29155 unit of Russia’s GRU military spy agency who moved within Europe from 2014 to last year, Le Monde reported.
It said they had all at some point passed through France’s southeastern alpine region of Haute-Savoie close to the Swiss and Italian borders, including notably the towns of Chamonix, Evian and Annemasse.
Le Monde published a list of 15 Russian members of the unit, which it said added five more names to those already published by online investigative outlets such as Bellingcat and The Insider.
It said that Western intelligence services began the investigation retrospectively after the attempted poisoning of Skripal in the English town of Salisbury in March last year.
The report said that some agents traveled to France repeatedly, others just once or twice. One possibility is that by staying in the French region, the agents hoped to shake off any suspicion before they carried out their missions.
Those who stayed in Haute-Savoie included Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — the cover names of the two GRU agents accused of carrying out the attack on Skripal.
“The most likely hypothesis is to consider it [Haute-Savoie] as a rear base for all the clandestine operations carried out by unit 29155 in Europe,” a senior French intelligence official was quoted as saying by Le Monde.
French authorities yesterday said that they would close a Paris mosque as part of a clampdown on radical Islam that has yielded over a dozen arrests following the beheading of a teacher who had shown his pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. The mosque in a densely populated suburb northeast of Paris had disseminated a video on its Facebook page days before Friday’s gruesome murder, railing against teacher Samuel Paty’s choice of material for a class discussion on freedom of expression, a source close to the investigation said. The French Ministry of the Interior said the mosque in Pantin, which has
LONGSTANDING NEUTRALITY: The US request came as it vied for influence in Southeast Asia with China, but Indonesia has never let foreign militaries operate there Indonesia this year rejected a proposal by the US to allow its P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance planes to land and refuel there, four senior Indonesian officials familiar with the matter have said. US officials made multiple “high-level” approaches in July and August to Indonesia’s defense and foreign ministers before Indonesian President Joko Widodo rebuffed the request, the officials said. Representatives for Indonesia’s president and defense minister, the US Department of State’s Office of Press Relations and the US embassy in Jakarta did not respond to requests for comment. Representatives for the US Department of Defense and Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi
COVID-19 UNDER CONTROL: The two prime ministers agreed to ease entry bans, and allow short-term business visits and reopen flights between Vietnam and Japan Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, in his first overseas summit since taking office last month, yesterday agreed with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to step up defense and security cooperation in the face of China’s expanding influence in the region. In talks in Hanoi, Suga and Phuc set up a basic agreement allowing Japan to export defense equipment and technology to Vietnam. Japan has been pursuing such agreements to bolster ties with Southeast Asian nations and sustain its own defense industry. Suga said that his four-day trip to Vietnam and Indonesia would be key to pursuing the “free and open Indo-Pacific” vision
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said that he has no problem with being held responsible for the many killings under his crackdown on drugs, and that he is ready to face charges that could land him in jail, but not charges of crimes against humanity. Duterte’s televised remarks were among his clearest acknowledgement of the prospects that he could face a deluge of criminal charges for the bloody campaign he launched after taking office in the middle of 2016. Police have reported that at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since