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Kremlin accuses WaPo of ‘Russophobic hysteria’

The outlet had claimed Moscow was behind “sabotage attacks” in NATO countries

Allegations by anonymous Western officials of a Russian sabotage campaign in Europe are dubious and unfounded, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has told the Washington Post.

The American newspaper had asked President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary for a comment on the anonymously sourced claims that Moscow has been recruiting disaffected Europeans for arson and other sabotage attacks.

“All these assumptions and claims are baseless and no more than incitement of Russophobic hysteria,” Peskov said on Wednesday.

The Post’s unnamed sources claimed that a series of incidents across Europe, from Germany to Poland and the UK, had been the work of individuals recruited by Russia via encrypted messenger apps. 

“Russia is fighting the West in the West, on Western territory,” the outlet quoted a senior NATO official, whom it did not name.

“Western officials say the Russian operations they detected seem designed to stay below the threshold of an open armed attack while stirring public unease, and their numbers are growing,” the Post wrote.

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The outlet strung together claims by unnamed officials, reports of incidents in which Russian involvement was alleged but not actually documented, and vague generalizations by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, to paint a picture of a covert campaign by the Kremlin.

According to Blinken, “virtually every ally” at last month’s NATO meeting in Prague raised the issue of “hybrid attacks” such as “setting fire and sabotaging supply warehouses, disregarding sea borders and demarcations in the Baltics, mounting more and more cyberattacks, continuing to spread disinformation.”

The Post also claimed to have reviewed “a trove of Kremlin documents obtained by a European intelligence service,” allegedly containing spreadsheets of information about potentially disgruntled workers at a BASF chemical plant in Germany. 

In the documents, the Post claimed, a Russian intelligence strategist urged “inciting ethnic hatred” or “organizing strikes over social benefits.” BASF and the factory have both said that no incidents matching these descriptions actually occurred.

Lithuania’s Landsbergis claimed that “anybody who thinks that earning a couple thousand euros is a good idea” could be a suspect. “It could be refugees, people who are down on their luck. It could be criminals, basically,” he said in an interview quoted by the Post.

The story was published as NATO leaders gathered in Washington to approve more military aid to Kiev, while insisting that this does not make the US-led bloc a party to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

July 11, 2024 at 02:28AM
RT

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