Poland arrests man suspected of aiding Russian plot to assassinate Zelenskiy

German authorities question two other men accused of spying for Moscow

Poland has arrested a man accused of spying for Russia as part of a wider plot to assassinate Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Poland’s prosecutor’s office suspect the man, a Polish citizen identified only as Pawel K, of “collecting and transmitting to military intelligence of the Russian Federation information on the security of the Rzeszów-Jasionka Airport” on Poland’s border with Ukraine.

“This was, among other things, to help the Russian special services plan a possible attempt on the life of the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy”,” according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

The news came as German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock summoned Russia’s ambassador following the arrest of two German-Russian men in Germany on Wednesday. They are accused of spying for Moscow and planning bombings to curtail German military assistance to Ukraine.


The two men, identified only as Dieter S and Alexander J, were arrested on Wednesday, suspected of being “active for a foreign intelligence service”. According to the federal state prosecutor, they were planning attacks “intended to undermine the military support provided from Germany to Ukraine against Russian aggression”.

Responding to the arrests, German federal minister Nancy Faeser said: “We will continue to provide Ukraine with massive support and will not allow ourselves to be intimidated.”

The 39-year-old Dieter S stands accused of scouting out and planning “explosive and arson attacks mainly on military infrastructure and industrial sites in Germany”, including US military bases there.

He is also charged with belonging to a foreign terrorist organisation for two years until 2016, reportedly an armed unit of the “People’s Republic of Donetsk” based in eastern Ukraine.

A second German-Russian citizen, 37-year-old Alexander J, stands accused of joining the plot last month and was due before a remand judge on Thursday.

It is the latest in a series of suspected cases of Russian espionage in Germany and across Europe. In November 2022, a German reserve army officer was handed a suspended sentence for passing information to Russian intelligence. Meanwhile, a former German intelligence officer is currently on trial in Berlin accused of passing to Russia German intelligence about the operations and movements of Russian mercenaries in Ukraine.

Thursday’s arrest in Poland is the 17th Russian espionage case in the last 12 months.

In December, 14 foreign nationals received prison sentences of one to six years for illegal monitoring of military transports to Ukraine as part of a wider plan to derail a train carrying military equipment.

They were found to have installed at least six cameras, operated remotely via smartphone apps, including at an airport, the Baltic naval port of Gdynia and the train station in the border town of Rzeszów, the main hub for aid to Ukraine.

Most of the group are Ukrainians, two are students from Belarus, and one is a Russian national who worked as a professional Polish ice hockey player.

Last month in Austria, police arrested a former intelligence officer accused of spying on Russian dissidents and rogue agents since 2017.

Derek Scally

Derek Scally

Derek Scally is an Irish Times journalist based in Berlin