(DCWatchdog.com) – As it fails to overwhelm Ukraine, Putin’s Russia is increasingly looking to “settle scores” through high-profile assassinations abroad of enemies of the regime, reveals a report citing US intelligence sources.
Many critics of Putin’s rule and his invasion of Ukraine, which started almost a year ago, have died mysteriously in what seems to be a “string of high-profile killings,” notes a report by Vice, as cited by Newsmax.
It points to an “epidemic” of deaths of Russian oligarchs (state-connected businessmen) in different countries, a failed assassination in France of a Kremlin critic in the fall, and a campaign with letter bombs against politicians in Spain.
According to a US intelligence source, whose identity was not disclosed, the Russians’ have “extensive and global” spy capabilities.
The source also said a Kremlin-ordered assassination in America would be “escalatory,” but there are “Russian-aligned” groups in the United States who theoretically could carry out lethal hits.
The intelligence official added Moscow’s foreign intelligence might not “have the bandwidth right now” for an “elaborate and complicated covert action” inside America.
Judging also from past Russian assassinations in the UK and Germany, the Russians seem inclined to “operate in Europe.”
The source noted the most famous cases in which former Russian spies critical of Putin were targeted in Britain: Alexander Litvinenko was killed in 2006 through polonium poisoning, and in 2018, Sergei Skripal survived an assassination with the Novichok nerve agent.
According to the US government, the Moscow regime’s network abroad goes beyond official circles and increasingly utilizes Russian mafia groups abroad as an intelligence arm.
Two weeks ago, the US Justice Department indicted Russian gangsters from a group called “Vory v Zakone” (“Thieves in Law”), including some based in Brooklyn.
The federal prosecutors charge that the Islamist regime in Iran hired the group to try to kill Iranian dissident journalist Masih Alinejad, who lives in New York City.
“We face an alarming rise in plots emanating from Iran, China, Russia, and elsewhere, targeting people in the United States, often using criminal proxies and cutouts,” the DOJ said in a press release.
The report quotes Colin Clarke, a research head at intelligence consulting firm The Soufan Group, who says Russia is already skilled at assassinations and sabotage abroad.
He insists that the Russian regime constantly threatens the West with nuclear weapons to create a diversion for its covert actions.
“Common sense tells you that’s not what they’re going to escalate to because we’ve got nukes, too,” he said. “But there’s going to be steps that happen before that — that’s tit for tat,” Clarke says.
He notes that Russian groups and Putin’s private army called the Wagner Group have asked their followers on Telegram to attack European targets.
“It’s a logical next step. They have the infrastructure in place; they have guys that are willing to do it,” he concludes.
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Since the beginning of Russian President Vladimir Putin's "special military operation" in Ukraine last February, a number of his critics have died under mysterious circumstances in a string of high-profile killings. https://t.co/CrEf6m2CCW
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) February 9, 2023