Deutsche Bahn accuses Putin of rail sabotage
Over the weekend train travel in Germany was thrown into chaos by communication failures. Deutsche Bahn has accused the Kremlin of attacking travel infrastructure.
Transport minister accuses Russia of targeted action against German trains
On Saturday, communication cables were cut at two locations in Germany, leading to travel chaos in parts of its northern federal states. Thousands of passengers were delayed for around three hours. The cables were severed in Berlin and Herne, a city in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Since Saturday, politicians and newspapers have been quick to suggest that the Russian government was behind the disorder. In a press release, Deutsche Bahn called the disruptions “sabotage”, while transport minister Volker Wissing accused Russia of “targeted and deliberate action”. Tabloid newspaper Bild referenced an internal document obtained from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), which stated that following an initial analysis of the weekend’s events, an act of “state-ordered sabotage would be conceivable”.
The chairperson of the German parliament’s European affairs committee, Anton Hofreiter, also speculated that Russia could be responsible for the disruptions. Speaking to Funke, Hofreiter said, “To pull this off, you have to have very precise knowledge of the railway’s radio system. The question is whether we are dealing with sabotage by foreign powers.”
Hofreiter suggested that since the recent Nord Stream leaks were widely associated with the Kremlin, “We can’t rule out that Russia could also be behind the attack on the rail services. Maybe both are warning shots because we support Ukraine,” he said. The leaks in the pipelines caused gas to spill into the Baltic Sea.
German police have found no evidence of international interference
Despite the furore, authorities said on Sunday that they have found no evidence of foreign interference with the German rail network. Nevertheless, speculations of Russia’s involvement have reinvigorated discussions about the different ways that Germany is vulnerable to future Russian attacks on cyber or transport infrastructure.
Responding to the events, Major General Carten Breuer of the German armed forces told Bild “every substation, every power plant, every pipeline" was a possible target of Russian attack.
The consensus across political parties is that the country should begin to develop serious defences against possible Russian attacks on German infrastructure. Hofreiter, who is a Green party lawmaker, has called for a 20-billion-euro investment in security strategies. Meanwhile, senior lawmaker of the conservative Christian Democratic Union Thorsten Frei, told RND, “We must rethink the security architecture of Germany and the EU. The modern age of hybrid warfare requires us to adapt.”