Russian consulate in Bonn, Germany
The Russian consulate in Bonn, Germany. Image: Aleksandrs Čaičics / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

German military procurement officer arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia

The arrest of an officer in the procurement agency of the Bundeswehr, Germany’s armed forces, on suspicion of spying for Russia, was announced on Wednesday by prosecutors and the country’s justice minister.

The man, identified as Thomas H, was described as an employee at the Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Utilization (BAAINBw) based in Koblenz in western Germany.

He is accused of having proactively contacted the Russian consulate in Bonn — an hour north of Koblenz — and the Russian Embassy in Berlin several times since May of this year “on his own initiative” to offer sensitive information he had access to as part of his role in the military.

“On one occasion, he passed on information he had obtained in the course of his professional activities for the purpose of forwarding it to a Russian intelligence service,” said the prosecutor's office.

BAAINBw is responsible for German military equipment procurement, including weapons and IT systems. It recently celebrated the “record time” it took for approval of its procurement of 18 replacement Leopard 2 A6 tanks sent to Ukraine.

Prosecutors said the man’s home and workplace were searched as a result of a warrant issued in July, before a judge on Wednesday unsealed the warrant and remanded the man in custody.

Although it was not clear from the official statement whether the accused was a civilian employee of BAAINBw or a military officer, Germany’s minister for justice Marco Buschmann identified him as “a German officer who is strongly suspected of having worked for a foreign secret service” on social media.

It follows the arrest last December of an employee at Germany's foreign intelligence service on suspicion of treason and spying for Russia.

Prosecutors did not reveal what information the man was accused of providing to Russia. Alongside its procurement work, BAAINBw is also responsible for providing the technical analysis of foreign defense materiel and providing equipment aid for non-NATO countries.

Germany has provided a substantial amount of military materiel to Ukraine since the Russian invasion last February, and expelled 40 diplomats last year following the discovery of mass graves of civilians in Bucha.

The recent expulsions of Russian diplomats across Europe — estimated by the head of Britain’s MI6 to include 400 intelligence officers working under diplomatic cover — is believed to have undermined the country’s intelligence work.

Experts have warned that Russia may make more use of its cyber capabilities for industrial espionage as a result of these setbacks to its human intelligence networks, noting a speech by Vladimir Putin to the country’s foreign intelligence service calling for them to help mitigate sanctions.

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Alexander Martin

Alexander Martin

Alexander Martin is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.