Russian intelligence activity in Germany has significantly increased and now reached Cold War levels, Berlin’s top domestic intelligence chief warned.
In an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper published on June 6, Thomas Haldenwang, who leads the Agency for the Protection of the Constitution, said Russia has a “very complex intelligence interest in Germany” in most policy areas.
He said Russia has a “whole number of agents” seeking to make contact with decision makers.
Germany is the largest nation in the European Union by population and economic output and has significant influence over the bloc’s policy toward Russia.
The nation will hold federal elections in September that will usher in a new chancellor for the first time in 16 years. One topic of debate is the future of the Kremlin’s $11 billion natural gas pipeline to Germany, which has faced considerable foreign opposition.
In the same interview, Bruno Kahl, president of Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, warned that adversaries are using “all possible methods…to stir up dissonance between states in the West.”
Kahl said adversaries are taking “a rougher and more ruthless approach” to their work.
Germany blames Russian state agents for the murder of an ethnic Georgian man from Chechnya in Berlin in 2019.
The murder is just one of several political killings or attempted killings in Western Europe pinned on Russian agents over the past 15 years.