Suspicions remain of Russian sabotage – Executive Digest

This week’s fires in Germany and Denmark are the latest unexplained fires to hit NATO countries recently. The flames came a day after Copenhagen fire department tackled a blaze in an office building owned by pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk in Hamburg’s harbor area on Thursday.

These are not isolated incidents: At a time when tensions between NATO and Russia are high due to the large-scale invasion of Ukraine, other mysterious fires have occurred in Lithuania, Poland and the United Kingdom. Although there is no evidence that Moscow was involved in the fires, Russia has been involved in at least two incidents.

Denmark

The fire started outside at Novo Nordisk on Wednesday but later spread to an office building on the outskirts of Boxward, the global headquarters of Novo Nordisk, which makes Wegovy’s weight loss treatment and diabetes drug Ozempic, Reuters reported. .

Thick, gray clouds of smoke could be seen on television, leading Martin Gjersgaard of the Copenhagen emergency department to indicate that the building was “unsalvageable”. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

Denmark’s former 17th-century Stock Exchange (Borsen) building in the center of the capital came under fire a month after its famous dragon tower collapsed – and it could take months to determine the cause, according to police. .

Poland

Polish President Donald Tusk has not ruled out the possibility that vandalism was behind the fire that destroyed a Warsaw shopping center this month. The May 11 fire destroyed almost the entire Marywielska 44 shopping center, one of the largest in the Polish capital, containing 1,400 commercial units and several kiosks.

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According to Tusk, there is a possibility that Russia was involved in the fire and the investigation is ongoing – “the activity of Russian services, especially those collaborating with Belarusians, is high,” reported Polish channel ‘TVN24’.

Germany

More than 200 firefighters battled a blaze at the Diehl metal factory in southwest Berlin on the 3rd – with dark smoke billowing from the premises in the Lichterfeld neighborhood. Sulfuric acid and copper cyanide, reported the publication ‘Deutsche Welle’.

According to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper, the fire started on the first floor of the factory, engulfed an area of ​​more than 1,950 square meters and quickly spread to higher levels.

Diehl Metall is a subsidiary of the German group Diehl, which manufactures the IRIS-T missiles used in the war in Ukraine. However, a Diehl spokesman assured that no weapons were manufactured at the site.

This Thursday, emergency crews responded to a large fire at a scrap metal facility in Hamburg’s harbor area. According to German media, around 60 tons of scrap metal caught fire, sending a huge cloud of smoke over the city. Authorities closed roads in the Harburg neighborhood and advised residents to close windows because of the air quality.

Lithuania

On January 13, 2023, a large explosion occurred in a gas pipeline in the Pasvalis region of northern Lithuania near the border with Latvia, sending flames 45 meters into the air.

Latvia’s Defense Minister at the time, Inara Murniece, said the cause of the incident would first be investigated and that sabotage could not be ruled out.

The head of AB Amber Grid, which operates Lithuania’s natural gas transmission system, later said it may have been a technical glitch — however, a May 9 fire at an IKEA store in Vilnius led to speculation of sabotage. The country’s president, Gitanas Nauseda, said, “Unfortunately, we have information that such acts of vandalism may happen again.”

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UK

The two men have been charged with aiding Russian intelligence services following a March 21 fire at a warehouse in Leyton, east London, linked to a Ukrainian businessman.

Prosecutors allege the perpetrators were hired by the Russian private military company Wagner, whose mercenaries are fighting in Ukraine. British police last month arrested eight people suspected of arson, prompting the British Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to summon the Russian ambassador, Andrey Galin, over “allegations of malicious activities planned by Russia on British soil”.

Meanwhile, on April 17, an explosion occurred at a factory in Glascote, Monmouthshire, South Wales, run by BAE Systems, a British defense company that manufactures weapons sent to Ukraine.

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