A top-secret elite unit inside Russia’s military intelligence agency is being directed on deadly missions to destabilize Europe, The New York Times reports. Known only as Unit 29155, the previously unreported group is made up of Russian officers who work undercover as international agents and travel across Europe to carry out assassinations and other nefarious actions that aim to unsettle the West, a retired GRU officer with knowledge of the unit told the Times. The physical aspect of these missions differentiates the unit from others inside the GRU that also work to sow discord abroad, but do so from the comfort of Moscow.
It is suspected that Unit 29155 is responsible for a series of Russian operations that were previously thought to be unrelated. Now, Western security officials believe the unit carried out the attempted murder of a former Russian spy and his daughter in London last year, as well as an attempted coup in Montenegro in 2016, among other operations. One aspect of these missions that has perplexed European security officials is their apparent failures, leading officials to theorize that the inaccuracy is intentional. “That kind of intelligence operation has become part of the psychological warfare,” Eerik-Niiles Kross, a former intelligence chief in Estonia, told the Times. “It’s not that they have become that much more aggressive. They want to be felt. It’s part of the game.”