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Russia detains Belarusian man it accuses of blowing up trains at Ukraine’s behest

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Russia’s FSB security service said on Thursday it had detained a Belarusian man who had blown up two trains in Siberia on the orders of the Ukrainian intelligence services as part of a sabotage campaign against Russia’s critical infrastructure.

The two attacks in Russia’s Buryatia region, which borders Mongolia and is thousands of kilometers from Ukraine, occurred on November 29 and November 30.

A Ukrainian source told Reuters at the time that the operations were conducted by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) which wanted to disrupt railway lines in Siberia that Russia uses for military supplies.

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Reuters could not independently verify whether the rail routes were used for military supplies.

In the first attack, explosives were detonated on a cargo train that was moving through the Severomuysky Tunnel. At 9.5 miles (15.3 km) long, the tunnel on the Baikal-Amur Mainline railway is Russia’s longest, excluding urban underground railway tunnels.

The second attack hit a freight train as it crossed the Chertov Bridge in the same region on a railway line used as a backup when trains are diverted from the Severomuysky Tunnel.

The FSB said in a statement that the Belarusian man it had detained had installed explosive devices on the two trains and had received instructions from another Belarusian based in Lithuania who was working for Ukraine.

“He confessed to having retrieved eight explosive devices from a cache... delivered them by private car to Buryatia, and planted them on the trains’ fuel tank cars,” the FSB said, saying the man’s actions had caused the “temporary blockage of traffic.”

Since President Vladimir Putin sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022 in what he called a “special military operation,” Russia has faced a series of sabotage attacks on various transport and infrastructure objects.

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