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Ex-Austrian Colonel "is a Russian informant whose information could have helped plan the Salisbury attack"


72-year-old Martin Möller was reportedly identified as a Russian NATO informant in an operation by security services across Europe, including MI6

A retired Austrian colonel who became a "Russian informant" gave information that was "likely" used in planning the Salisbury-Novichock poisoning.

72-year-old Martin Möller was reportedly identified as a Russian NATO informant in an operation by security services across Europe, including MI6.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Möller reportedly exchanged information with a notorious unit of the Kremlin's intelligence network – known as Unit 29155.

The information he reportedly shared included details of what poisons NATO was aware of.

According to the Telegraph, this may have been used to select Novichok as the poison for the 2018 Salisbury attack.

According to the reports, Mr Möller accepts that he exchanged information for money, but said that it relates solely to Austria.

However, the paper reports that Mr Möller, who was sentenced to three years in prison earlier this year for divulging state secrets, denied that any information he provided could have resulted in death and that it had "no practical value". .

His lawyers also told the newspaper that he knew nothing about Unit 29155.

Novichok was the nerve agent deployed on the door handle of former GRU spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia's house in March 2018.

Mr Skripal and Yulia were found unconscious on a park bench in central Salisbury on March 4 this year.

Novichok was the nerve agent deployed on the door handle of former GRU spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia's house in March 2018

Novichok was the nerve agent deployed on the door handle of former GRU spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia's house in March 2018

Mr Skripal and Yulia were found unconscious on a park bench in central Salisbury on March 4 this year. Pictured: Fire fighters in protective suits at the crime scene in Salisbury in March 2018

Mr Skripal and Yulia were found unconscious on a park bench in central Salisbury on March 4 this year. Pictured: Fire fighters in protective suits at the crime scene in Salisbury in March 2018

They were rushed to the hospital and put into a coma to prevent the poison from harming their organs.

Yulia left the hospital in April of that year and was taken by police to a secret location where she was guarded by British intelligence agents. Her father came to see her a month later.

Although the couple survived along with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was exposed to the poison during the investigation, a mother of three, Dawn Sturgess, tragically died.

Ms. Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill in an apartment in Amesbury, near Salisbury, in July 2018 after picking up a perfume bottle containing the poison.

Mr. Rowley, who found the bottle and gave it to 44-year-old Ms. Sturgess, survived the killer nerve agent.

However, Ms. Sturgess, who sprayed the substance on her skin, died in July 2018.

Ms. Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill in an apartment in Amesbury, near Salisbury, in July 2018 after picking up a perfume bottle containing the poison

Ms. Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley fell ill in an apartment in Amesbury, near Salisbury, in July 2018 after picking up a perfume bottle containing the poison

What is unit 29155?

According to a 2019 report, Unit 29155 is a Kremlin intelligence network created to assassinate Moscow's rivals and spread the turmoil in Europe

It has reportedly been in operation for a decade and is believed to be responsible for attacks including nerve agent poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal in Salisbury.

The 2019 New York Times report said President Vladimir Putin also dispatched Unit 29155 to carry out a coup in Montenegro that intelligence sources said had failed.

The intelligence sources also blame the unit for a campaign to destabilize Moldova and poison Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev in 2015.

According to the report, a key factor behind Unit 29155's operations is that they are often seemingly sloppy and their methods are easily noticed by law enforcement agencies in the countries they target.

However, espionage sources said it was unclear whether this was due to poor planning or an intentionally carefree demeanor and intended to make their attacks public as a warning of potential targets.

The incident sparked a diplomatic crisis in which Russia was accused of being behind the attack. Boris Johnson was later "overwhelmingly likely" that the poisoning had been ordered directly by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russia has always denied any involvement in the poisoning.

Last month demolition teams began work to demolish the apartment where Ms. Sturgess was fatally poisoned with Novichok.

Mr Rowley's former home on Muggleton Road is one of two apartments at the end of the terrace that are being demolished.

Housing provider Stonewater said it worked "very closely" with Wiltshire Council and consulted with residents on the best route for Mr Rowley's former home.

Last month, Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, who was back on duty in 2019 after the 2018 attack, said he was leaving the Wiltshire Police Department after 18 years because he "had to admit defeat" and "can't do the job".

When he posted the news on Twitter, he said, “After 18 years in the police force, I had to admit defeat and accept that I can't do the job anymore.

“I've wanted to be a policeman since I was a teenager, I couldn't imagine doing anything else, which is why I feel so sad

“Like most police officers, I have experienced a fair amount of trauma, violence, upset, injury, and grief.

“We deal with it, take it by the chin and carry on, because that's our job. But we are still human and the impact this has should not be underestimated.

“The events in Salisbury in March 2018 took so much away from me, and while I tried so hard to make it work, I know I will not find peace in these surroundings.

"Police will remain in my heart and I am honored and privileged to have been part of the Wiltshire Police."