A pair of soldiers in Albania were injured while attempting to apprehend two Russian and a Ukrainian from entering a military facility in central Albania, in an incident that proves that Russia is not limiting its military belligerence merely to Ukraine.
The Albanian Ministry of Defense told reporters on Sunday that the military had apprehended three people with ties to Russia who were trying to gain access to the Gramsh military base, according to German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
“Three citizens with Russian and Ukrainian passports have tried to enter the factory,” the government said.
“The officers who were guarding the plant reacted immediately, but during their efforts to stop the three foreign nationals, two of our soldiers were injured,” the statement noted.
The government added that its military police as well as its intelligence and anti-terrorism agencies also responded to investigate the attempted incursion.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama added the three are “suspected of espionage.”
The Albanian soldiers who were injured suffered facial burns when one of the intruders, a 24-year-old Russian national with the initials M.Z., tried to escape them by spraying some sort of liquid in their faces.
A 33-year-old woman carrying a Russian passport and a 25-year-old man from Ukraine were also arrested during the incident.
The facility where the three were arrested was once a factory for manufacturing Russian Kalashnikov rifles during the Soviet Union days, and one of the intruders was caught trying to take photos of a building at the Gramsh factory which is used for dismantling derelict weapons.
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While Albania has long been a destination for Russian and Ukrainian vacationers, the Gramsh base is almost 43 miles away from the country’s beach and resort areas.
Making the incident more foreboding, Albania is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) having joined in 2009, nearly 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. And if Russian forces are attempting to wreak some sort of havoc in Albania, that could conceivably drag NATO and the U.S. into Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Of course, the whole point of NATO is to prevent widespread warfare as the treaty maintains that an attack on one member country is an attack on all. But Russia seems to be testing that resolve.
One NATO member has already taken measures against Russia over its attack on Ukraine. In June, NATO member Lithuania — once a member of the Soviet Union — joined the European Union in placing sanctions on Russian goods.
Regardless, Russia has already started testing NATO’s resolve. In March, Russia showed its contempt for NATO by attacking a Ukrainian base situated less than a dozen miles from the Polish border.
And in April, it was reported that NATO fighter jets had been scrambled several times as Russian jets in the skies above the Baltic and Black seas.
“NATO fighter jets stationed around the Baltic and Black Seas have scrambled multiple times over the past four days to track and intercept Russian aircraft near Alliance airspace,” an April 29 NATO release read.
While some may hope for NATO to jump into a shooting war with Russia, it certainly won’t be a clean affair since both sides are armed with long-range missiles. Indeed, it isn’t out of the question that the U.S. homeland may end up being a target in such a conflagration.
These three Russian operatives are unlikely to trigger NATO’s Article 5 provisions which would lead to greater involvement in the Russia/Ukraine conflict. But Russia’s antagonistic actions do not bode well for what might be coming.