The building of a new Russian embassy facility in Dublin could be halted after suspicions were raised that it could contain a secret spy base.
Questions are being asked about an extensive underground “car park” on the plans for the new facility.
There is already ample above-ground parking on the new embassy site and Irish military sources have suggested that the development could provide a cover for a signals, or intelligence gathering base.
Irish security services say that a secret Russian listening post could have implications not just for Ireland, but for the UK and across Europe too.
A security source told The Times that every Russian embassy in the world has officers from the GRU, the intelligence division of the Russian armed forces, posing as diplomatic staff.
“What marks the Russian embassy in Dublin apart is that it is used as a collection point for intelligence collected from across Europe,” they added.
“The Russian embassy in Prague is used as a support base for operations in Germany. Ireland plays that role for Russian espionage in Britain and countries like France and Holland.”
Mark Galeotti, a Russia expert at the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London said that Ireland is seen as a comparatively soft target by Russian intelligence operatives.
“There are two issues to consider," he said "Ireland is a member of the European Union but it’s not a member of Nato, which would require it to have certain security measures like counter-intelligence in place. It was until recently seen as a permissive environment,”
Speaking via video link to the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, Russian President Vladimir Putin, himself a former intelligence operative, warned that the global situation was as dangerous as it had been in the days before World War II.
The Russian embassy has refused to comment on these current allegations but previously accused the Irish government of “playing games” by placing obstacles in the path of the development at Orwell Road, Rathgar.
In London, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ observed “frantic comings and goings” at the Russian Embassy in Kensington shortly before the 2018 poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.
Theresa May, who was Prime Minister at the time kicked out 23 suspected Russian spies who had been working as diplomats in the largest mass expulsion of its kind since the Cold War.
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