Russian spies thwarted in Albania after 'chemical attack' on military base

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The defence ministry said late on Saturday that two of its soldiers had been slightly injured while detaining a 24-year-old man from Russia who had entered the grounds of the Gramsh military factory and was trying to take photos. He resisted arrest and used spray against the soldiers.

Two others, a 33-year-old Russian woman and a Ukrainian man aged 25, were arrested nearby.

Defence Minister Niko Peleshi said on Sunday it was too early to be sure about the motive but referred to geopolitics – apparently indicating a possible link to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has been criticised by the Albanian government.

“In view of the broad regional context and the geopolitical context, this cannot be dismissed as just as an ordinary, civilian incident, but we cannot rush to conclusions,” he said after visiting the injured soldiers in hospital.

Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Saturday the three individuals were “suspected of espionage”, without giving any further details.

The Polican plant was used during communism to produce ammunition for Russian made rifle AK 47, hand grenades, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines.

Some foreign tourists who have visited the place previously have managed to enter the tunnels where the ammunition was made, and they have published their photos on internet.

From their photos the area looked abandoned where old machines and bullet rounds are seen on the ground.

Albania, a member of NATO since 2009, has joined the United States and other western countries to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has introduced sanctions against Moscow.

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