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7 Jul, 2023 10:12

Saboteur who blew up Crimean railroad caught – FSB

The suspect was working for the Ukrainian intelligence service, Russian officials have claimed

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has arrested a man suspected of sabotaging a railroad in Crimea in February. The man has confessed to working for the Ukrainian military, the FSB claimed in a statement on Friday.

The man was described as a Crimean-born Russian citizen in his mid-20s. According to the FSB, he left the peninsula shortly after Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine last year and was recruited by the Ukrainian military’s Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR). He received training in sabotage techniques before being sent back to Russia to conduct various missions for Kiev, the FSB alleged.

The unidentified agent was responsible for an explosion on February 23 which damaged a railroad in Crimea’s Bakhchisaray district, the FSB claimed. The blast disrupted traffic for several hours, according to media reports at the time.

The FSB said it had detained the suspect in the Crimean capital Simferopol. The agency released several videos featuring the suspect in which he detailed his alleged activities on behalf of the GUR.

The man claimed that he had left Russia with the goal of joining the Ukrainian forces, and that he had a record of pro-Kiev volunteer work by the time he was approached by Ukrainian intelligence.

According to the presumed agent, the February blast was the last in a series of attempts he made to damage the transport link. A previous attempt had failed because his Ukrainian handler did not provide the correct fuses for the IED he had assembled, the man claimed. He added that the relatively small damage he had caused in February was due to a miscalculation by his handler.

The man’s other tasks from the GUR allegedly included gathering intelligence on where FSB employees dine, which he claimed was required for the possible bombing of the location. Ukrainian intelligence officials were also interested in potential new recruits and the locations of military sites, such as air defense positions and ammunition depots, according to the interviews.

The GUR also wanted to know whether Russia had nuclear weapons in Crimea, in particular a “nuclear train,” the suspect stated. The Soviet Union operated rail-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launchers disguised as regular trains as part of its strategic deterrence capability.

Soviet nuclear trains were decommissioned in the 2000s. Defense officials in Moscow said Russia had considered creating a new generation of the weapons platform, but the project was reportedly abandoned in the late 2010s.