WARSAW — Poland on Thursday said it had detained nine foreigners accused of spying for Russia and preparing operations to disrupt the flow of Western arms into neighboring Ukraine.
Mariusz Kaminski, the Polish interior minister, announced the dismantling of what he said was a major Russia espionage network a day after a visit to Warsaw, Poland’s capital, by the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, who has played a key role in coordinating the delivery of Western-supplied arms to Ukraine by train and road from Poland.
“The suspects conducted intelligence activities against Poland and prepared acts of sabotage at the request of Russian intelligence,” Mr. Kaminski told journalists in Warsaw. The planned sabotage, he said, was “aimed at paralyzing the supply of equipment, weapons and aid to Ukraine.”
Poland, a stalwart ally of the United States and one of Europe’s most robust supporters of Ukraine, is the main transit route for weapons and ammunition provided by the United States and other countries to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia’s military onslaught.
Accusing Western nations of “pumping up” Ukraine with weapons, Russia last year declared arms convoys “a legitimate military target,” but so far has refrained from striking railway lines or roads into Ukraine from eastern Poland, a NATO member whose territory is covered by the alliance’s commitment to collective security.
Mr. Kaminski, who oversees Poland’s security services, said six of the nine had been detained in an initial round of arrests by Poland’s Internal Security Agency, or A.B.W., and had been formally charged with espionage. The three others, arrested on Wednesday, were still awaiting formal charges, he said.
He said that none of the people arrested were Polish, and that all of them had come “from across the eastern border.” He did not specify their nationalities. Poland borders Ukraine and Russia’s client state Belarus in the east and the Russia territory of Kaliningrad in the north.
They had been monitoring railway lines with cameras and other equipment and carrying out other hostile tasks in return for regular payment from Russia’s intelligence services, he said. The A.B.W., Mr. Kaminski said, had found cameras, electronic equipment and GPS transmitters intended for mounting on weapons transports to Ukraine.
A Polish radio station, RMF FM, reported earlier that cameras had been found near an airport in the eastern city of Rzeszow, a major logistical hub for military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The cameras, the radio station said, recorded movements on railway tracks near the airport and transmitted images.
Mr. Kaminski said the people had also received orders from Russia “to carry out propaganda activities in order to destabilize Polish-Ukrainian relations, incite and arouse hostile sentiments toward NATO countries in Poland, and to attack the Polish government’s policy toward Ukraine.”
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