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RUSSIA

What were a Russian sub and bombers doing near France?

First it was bomber aircraft, and now there are claims a Russian nuclear sub has been lurking deep in the waters not far from the French coast.

What were a Russian sub and bombers doing near France?
A file photo of a Russian nuclear submarine. Photo: AFP

A report in the French press on Thursday claimed a Russian nuclear submarine had been lurking deep in the waters off the west coast of France.

The claim was made the Nouvel Obs news site, quoting a high-ranking government official, and it has not been denied by France’s Ministry of Defence.

Apparently the submarine, armed with nuclear warheads, was detected in international waters in the Gulf of Gascony back in January. It was part of the fleet of 11 nuclear submarines based at the naval port of Murmansk.

Although it did not enter French waters, it was apparently the first time since the end of the Cold War that a Russian submarine had come so close to the west coast of Europe.

But it’s not just the submarine that appears to be concerning France’s military chiefs.

In February, the French fighters jets intercepted two Russian bombers flying off the north coast of France near Touquet.

French General André Lanata believed the move was a strategic one by Russia to try to reassert the military presence against Nato.

If these kind of events go on, we can imagine a few stern calls from Paris to Moscow in the coming weeks – if they haven’t happened already, of course.

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RUSSIA

Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia

A senior French military officer stationed at a NATO base has been indicted and jailed on suspicion of spying for Russia, local media and sources said on Sunday.

Senior French officer held on suspicion of spying for Russia
A change of command ceremony at the base of NATO’s Alliance Ground Surveillance Force in Sigonella, Italy. It is not known at which Italian Nato base the officer was stationed. Photo: Falk Plankenhorn
The French army officer was stationed abroad, a judicial source said confirming details from Europe 1 radio. According to the report, the soldier was stationed on a NATO base in Italy and is suspected of espionage on behalf of Russia.
   
The French government confirmed it was investigating a senior military officer over a “security breach”.
   
“What I can confirm is that a senior officer is facing legal proceedings for a security breach,” Defence Minister Florence Parly told Europe 1 radio, CNews and Les Echos newspaper. She gave no further details.
   
The judicial source said the officer had been indicted and jailed on charges involving “intelligence with a foreign power that undermines the fundamental interests of the nation”.
   
He is being prosecuted for “delivering information to a foreign power”, “collecting information harming the fundamental interests of the nation with a view to delivering them to a foreign power” and “compromising the secrecy of national defence”, the source said.
 
   
Europe 1 said the officer was a lieutenant-colonel stationed with NATO in Italy and had been placed under investigation on suspicion of spying for Russia.
   
He speaks Russian and was seen in Italy with a man identified as an agent of the GRU, the Russian military intelligence
service, the report said. It said he is suspected of having supplied sensitive documents to Russian intelligence.
   
The man was arrested by DGSI intelligence service as he was about to leave for Italy at the end of his holidays in France, and is being held at a prison in Paris, Europe 1 said.
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