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“A targeted and deliberate action”: what we know about rail sabotage in Germany


A huge part of the paralyzed railway network, and again, suspicions about Moscow. For three hours on Saturday morning, October 8, traffic was completely interrupted in northern Germany due to an act of “sabotage” targeting radio link cables, said Deutsche Bahn (DB), l equivalent of the SNCF. Germany’s political caste quickly made it known that they suspected the Kremlin. Without proof, for the moment.

Strategic communication cables for trains were cut at the same time, in two different places on the network 540 kilometers apart, in the west and east of the country, according to an analysis document from the national judicial police, quoted by the daily Picture.

According to Spiegel magazine, the communications system then failed around 6:40 a.m. At 11:06 a.m., DB tweeted that traffic had been restored, but warned that train cancellations and delays were going to continue. The disruption affected rail services in the states of Lower Saxony and Schlewsig-Holstein, as well as the cities of Bremen and Hamburg. It also affected international train journeys to Denmark and the Netherlands.

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If the German police have so far not publicly mentioned any particular leads after the incidents and very serious delays, the eyes of certain political leaders quickly turned to Russia. Because according to the police document that was obtained Picture“a sabotage of state origin could be at the very least conceivable”.

According to other German media, the investigators suspect the work of professionals, because they would have benefited from internal information at the national railway company. It is the section of the Berlin police responsible for investigating acts threatening the state, such as attacks or espionage cases, which took over the investigations, according to the local press.

This incident comes two weeks after the detection of leaks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines, the sabotage of which has heightened fears of unclaimed Russian attacks on certain sensitive infrastructure. Several simultaneous and – for the moment – unexplained explosions were recorded on September 26 on these strategic gas pipelines between Russia and Europe, in the Baltic Sea. Western leaders have expressed their deep interrogations with regard to the Kremlin, without designating it openly guilty. Since then, Europe has sought to strengthen the monitoring of its power stations, submarine cables and other strategic devices.

  • What are the reactions?

The government quickly denounced sabotage. “It is clear that this is a targeted and deliberate action,” said Transport Minister Volker Wissing. An official of the German environmentalist party, member of the government coalition of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Anton Hofreiter, evoked the hypothesis of Russian responsibility. “We cannot exclude that Russia is also behind the attack on the railway company”, he told the Funke press group, considering that the recent leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea already bore “the trail of the Kremlin”.

A senior German army official also issued a warning on Sunday. “Every electrical transformer, every power plant, every power pipe is a potential target,” General Carsten Breuer warned in Picture. He worries about growing “hybrid threats”.

For its part, the conservative opposition judged that “irrespective of this case, we must rethink the security architecture of Germany and the European Union. “The modern era marked by the conduct of Hybrid Wars requires that we adapt our concepts”, communicated an official of the party of the ex-chancellor Angela Merkel, Thorsten Frei, to the press group RND.


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