European stability at threat from top-secret Russian units

Western security officials cite operations including bid to kill ex-Russian spy in UK and failed coup in Montenegro

First came a destabilisation campaign in Moldova, followed by the poisoning of an arms dealer in Bulgaria and then a thwarted coup in Montenegro. Last year, there was an attempt to assassinate a former Russian spy in Britain using a nerve agent. Though the operations bore the fingerprints of Russia's intelligence services, the authorities initially saw them as isolated, unconnected attacks.

Western security officials have now concluded that these operations, and potentially many others, were part of a coordinated and ongoing campaign to destabilise Europe, executed by an elite unit inside the Russian intelligence system skilled in subversion, sabotage and assassination.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 13, 2019, with the headline 'European stability at threat from top-secret Russian units'. Print Edition | Subscribe