German army reservist charged as he’s accused of spying for Vladimir Putin

Ukraine MP on Germany financing Russian gas sales

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The man, referred to as Ralph G, is suspected of providing Russian agents with “numerous documents and information” about the German army from October 2014 until March 2020, German prosecutor Ines Peterson said in a statement. It comes amid severely strained relations between Berlin and Moscow.

The suspect, who “belonged to several German business committees” thanks to his civilian professions, is accused of supplying information on the German military’s reserves and on the impact on German companies of EU sanctions against Russia over its seizure and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

According to the GBA, he also provided information about the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project that Germany halted in February after Russia formally recognised the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, in eastern Ukraine, shortly before the full-scale war began on February 24.

Through Ralph G, the prosecutor said, Russia’s secret service also obtained personal and contact details of high-ranking officers in the military and prominent corporate managers.

Prosecutors said: “In return for his services, the accused received invitations to events organised by the Russian government agencies.”

Further, the suspect is accused of helping his Russian handlers understand US defence policies with its partners in NATO.

The prosecutor did not specify if or how the suspect had pleaded. The prosecutor did not provide information about his lawyers or trial, either, saying only the indictment was filed on March 16 at the Higher Regional Court in the western city of Duesseldorf.

Ms Peterson declined to say if and when the suspect was stripped of his rank or whether he had been expelled from the military reserve.

Ralph G is the latest in a series of suspected Russian spies uncovered on German soil.

Russian scientist Ilnur Nagaev is currently standing trial after, accused of spying for the Kremlin while working at a German university, he was stopped by authorities last year.

He allegedly shared information about Europe’s Ariane space rocket programme with Russia’s foreign intelligence service SVR.

In October last year, a German man was handed a two-year suspended sentence for passing on floor plans of parliament buildings to Russian secret services while employed by a security company.

Last August, a former employee of the British embassy in Berlin was arrested on suspicion of having passed on documents to Russian intelligence.

Several European Union member nations — including Belgium, the Netherlands and Ireland — this week expelled dozens of Russian diplomats, some for alleged spying, with Russia vowing to retaliate.

The trial of Ralph G, who is not in custody, is to take place at the Dusseldorf Higher Regional Court.

The case adds to a string of obvious factors difficulting Germany’s ties with Russia.

On Friday, Berlin condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin’s order for customers to pay for energy in roubles, saying it would not be blackmailed.

Putin on Thursday signed a decree that authorises the state-controlled Gazprombank to open foreign currency and rouble accounts for gas purchases.

European buyers would pay in foreign currency and then authorise Gazprombank to make the conversion into roubles, which would then be used to formally purchase the gas.

The president said in a televised appearance: “To buy Russian gas, they need to open rouble accounts in Russian banks.

“It is from those accounts that gas will be paid for, starting 1 April. If such payments aren’t made, we will consider this a failure by the client to comply with its obligations.”

But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz responded swiftly to Putin’s threats by reminding him energy contracts between his country and Germany — Russia’s largest EU customer — stipulated payments in euros, sometimes in dollars.

He told reporters: “In a conversation with the Russian president I have stated clearly that this will stay that way.”

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