WARSAW, Poland — Polish authorities said Thursday that the nation's security services detained members of a Russian espionage ring, alleging they were preparing acts of sabotage in Poland and had been monitoring railroad routes used for the transport of weapons into Ukraine.
Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński said the Internal Security Agency arrested nine people suspected of spying for Russia in the case. Three were detained Wednesday.
He said at a news conference in Warsaw that the suspects were preparing "sabotage actions aimed at paralyzing the supply of equipment, weapons and aid to Ukraine."
He said the security agents also seized cameras, electronic equipment and GPS transmitters, which the suspects planned to place on transports carrying aid to Ukraine.
Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak suggested that the group had entered from Belarus, a Russian ally that borders NATO member Poland.
"The threat was real," Błaszczak said on state radio.
The evening news bulletin of Belarusian state television confirmed that the three detainees are citizens of Belarus.
Their relatives denied in interviews that the detainees were involved in a Russian spy ring.
A commentary on Belarus state television linked the detentions to the fall elections in Poland, when the ruling conservatives will hope for a third term. It accused Polish authorities of needing "showcase stories" to boost their popularity and distract from economic problems.
Polish private radio RMF FM broke the news about the arrests, saying the group had been collecting information in southeastern Poland around the military airport in Jasionka. That is a transit point for weapons and munitions sent to Ukraine by countries supporting Kyiv's fight against Russia's invasion that has entered its second year.
Kamiński said that the operation against the alleged espionage ring was still underway and that more details would be revealed at a later time.