Russia sought to kill a defector dwelling in the US in 2020, enlisting a Mexican scientist to assist in the plot, in keeping with a report by the New York Instances.
Whereas the scheme to kill Aleksandr Poteyev failed, its aftermath “spiraled into tit-for-tat retaliation by the US and Russia”, the newspaper reported on Monday.
Citing three former senior US officers, the New York Instances stated it had independently verified the assassination try, which shall be chronicled in an upcoming guide by Harvard scholar Calder Walton.
Poteyev, a former Russian intelligence officer, had beforehand served as an informant to the US Central Intelligence Company (CIA). His suggestions led the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to ensnare 11 Russian spies dwelling on the US East Coast in 2010.
Poteyev had escaped Russia by way of Belarus earlier than he might face punishment for his disclosures. As soon as within the US, Poteyev was resettled in Miami, Florida, below a secret CIA programme to guard spies, in keeping with Monday’s report.
In 2011, a Moscow courtroom sentenced him to 25 years in jail for treason, regardless of his absence from the nation.
The Instances reported that Poteyev had gotten a fishing license and registered to vote below his personal identify, permitting Russia to ultimately hone in on his whereabouts. It then enlisted Mexican scientist Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes to assist within the plot.
A Russian official leveraged Fuentes’s Russian spouse and two daughters, who had been blocked from leaving the nation, to get him to conform, the newspaper defined, citing courtroom paperwork.
Fuentes was requested to lease a apartment close to Poteyev’s dwelling below a unique identify and to trace down Poteyev’s automotive. He was instructed to not take footage.
However the plan went awry when Fuentes tried to enter the advanced Poteyev lived in by tailgating one other automotive because it handed by a safety gate. Whereas he was questioned by a guard, his spouse photographed Poteyev’s license plate. The incident was captured on safety footage.
Fuentes offered particulars of the plot after he was stopped by authorities two days later whereas making an attempt to go away the US.
The scheme got here two years after Russian operatives poisoned former Russian army intelligence officer Sergei Skripal in Salisbury, England. Skripal had labored as an informant for the UK and fled to the nation from Russia.
Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, survived the brazen assault, which represented to many an escalation in Russia’s willingness to focus on defectors dwelling in Western nations.
The US assassination plot was one in every of many incidents on the time that prompted a harsh response from Washington, together with a mass expulsion of Russians.
In 2021, the US imposed sanctions on Russia and expelled 10 Russian diplomats, together with the Washington, DC-based chief of station for Russia’s intelligence company.
Russia, in the meantime, expelled 10 US diplomats, together with the CIA’s Moscow chief of station.