Russia enhances its Spy Hub in Ireland
There are evidences Russia’s field agents from military G2 conduct intelligence operations in Ireland. Ireland’s counterintelligence service has launched an investigation into an expansion project at the embassy of Russia in Dublin. According to sources cited by The Times newspaper, the Irish government is concerned that the expansion project is part of a secret plan by Moscow to turn its embassy in Dublin into a major espionage hub in Europe.
Irish military sources have suggested that the development could provide a cover for a signals, or intelligence gathering base.Last February Russian intel stuff lighted up in Ireland, when the London-based Sunday Times’ reported that Russia’s government had sent a team of spies to Ireland to monitor undersea fiber-optic cables, which enable communications traffic between North America and Western Europe. IGTDS underlined then, that within last 3 years the Russian Navy deep-sea forces had undergone rapid growth, ramping uptheir ops.
The two nations had no diplomatic relations until September 1973, when the Republic of Ireland officially recognized the Soviet Union, and the two countries proceeded to establish embassies at each other’s capitals. Since then, the Russian embassy in Dublin has been located on Orwell Road, in the southern suburb of Rathgar. For at least three decades, the embassy has been considered by Western intelligence a hub of Russian intelligence collection operations in Europe. Some claim that the tranquil environs of the Irish capital, coupled with Ireland’s relatively relaxed counterintelligence posture, have encouraged Moscow to use its Dublin embassy as a support base for espionage activities throughout much of Western Europe.Russian embassy at Orwell Road in Rathgar (Image: Google Maps).
But the Irish government changed its stance in 2018 when, in a surprising move, it introduced emergency legislation aimed at stopping a previously approved expansion of the Russian embassy complex. The government reportedly feared that the initial plan, which proposed to add 86,000 sq ft of structures to the embassy’s existing 21,000 sq ft of building space, threatened Ireland’s national security. The Russians had little choice but to comply with the restrictions imposed by the Irish government. Now, however, the Irish government is reportedly concerned that Moscow was able to proceed with the establishment of an “intelligence hub”, despite the reduced size of the embassy’s expansion.
According to The Times, the Irish government’s concerns center on a building inside the Russian embassy compound, “whose design appears to incorporate military security features”. Another issue concerns an underground car park built by the Russians at the southern rear of the embassy complex, which can accommodate up to 23 vehicles. Apparently, Irish officials cannot explain why the Russians would go to the added trouble —and expense— of building an underground car park, when there appear to be sufficient car parking spaces above ground inside the embassy compound. Today IMINT analysis shows near 20 car-parking places at the Embassy territory. So, additional building of underground car park for 23 vehicles can be a sign of spreading intel activity in Ireland or using Embassy compound for SIGINT station. Today the Russian embassy in Prague is used as a support base for operations in Germany. Ireland plays that role for Russian espionage in Britain and countries like France and Holland.”
In February 2011, Ireland ordered a Russian diplomat expelled after an investigation found that the country’s intelligence service used six stolen Irish identities as cover for spies operating in the United States. An investigation of the Russians’ counterfeit passports had determined that Russian diplomatic officials stole the details off genuine passports provided by Irish citizens during their applications for tourist visas to Russia from 2001 to 2003.
The paper reports that the new review of the Russian embassy compound is being led by the Directorate of Military Intelligence and the National Crime and Security Intelligence Service of the Garda, Ireland’s national police and security service. These two entities are expected to brief the National Security Committee in the coming weeks. Known also as “Cabinet Subcommittee F”, the National Security Committee is Ireland’s highest executive decision-making body, which is led by the prime minister.Russian agents have been sent to Ireland to inspect its undersea cables, and it’s sparking fears they could be tapped or cut in the future, according to The Sunday Times citing Irish police.Irish security agencies suspect that Russia’s intelligence agency, the GRU, is using their country as a base to gather intelligence on targets in the EU and UK, The Sunday Times reported. Ireland is an important cyber battlefield between Russia and the West.Undersea cables in Atlantic waters.IGTDS.The large number of tech companies that are based in Dublin could be another reason for Russia’s suspected monitoring. Dublin is a place of Europe’s largest tech hubs and large tech companies: Google, Airbnb, Facebook, and Twitter that all have headquarters in the city.There have been longstanding fears that Russian spies could cut transatlantic undersea cables to disrupt communications and financial transactions and take entire countries offline.
The situation is worsening as Ireland doesn’t have a counter-intelligence capability. So, it’s a relatively soft target for Russia.