Polish authorities said they arrested a Russian spy near a border crossing with Ukraine in Przemyśl, the same area that has already seen thousands of refugees fleeing the war. (Ben Makuch for VICE News)
PRZEMYŚL, Poland — Polish authorities said they arrested a Russian spy near a border crossing with Ukraine in the same area that has already seen thousands of refugees fleeing the war.According to an official statement released from the Agencja Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego (ABW), a federal agency tasked with thwarting national security threats inside Poland, the accused spy is a Spanish citizen of Russian descent and was apprehended in late February in the town of Przemyśl.
“The man was identified as an agent of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Federation (GRU),” said Stanisław Żaryn, a spokesperson for the ABW. The agency claims the spy was using the identity of a journalist for cover, which Żaryn says allowed him to freely travel “around Europe and the world, including zones affected by armed conflicts and areas of political tension.”The news comes as the brutal war in Ukraine drags on and many neighboring countries, like Poland, are already suspicious of Russia’s military designs on the rest of the region. The spy is the first publicly confirmed piece of evidence since the invasion started that Russian intelligence is operating in Poland. Before his arrest was announced, VICE News previously reported that people in Przemyśl were already on edge about the potential for Russian saboteurs and spies to come to the region. “During his stay in Poland, he obtained information the use of which by the Russian secret services could have a direct negative impact on the internal and external security and defense of our country,” said Żaryn.The spy's next move, Żaryn said, was to make his way into Ukraine by using a border crossing mere miles from where his arrest occurred. “Before his arrest, the suspect planned to travel to Ukraine in order to continue his activities,” he said.The GRU, Russia’s infamous military intelligence branch responsible for the hack of the DNC in 2016, has been linked with several foreign operations in recent years. The Kremlin tasked the unit to destabilize European democracies like Poland through a series of covert missions, which included killings and espionage. Maria Zakharova, a Kremlin spokesperson, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.