Ukrainian-Russian citizen arrested after explosion at hotel in France

PARIS — A dual Ukrainian-Russian citizen was arrested after he suffered “significant burns following an explosion” at a hotel in Val d’Oise, France, on Monday evening, according to French officials.

Multiple U.S. officials briefed on the matter said authorities were looking into whether the arrested person was trying to conduct a pro-Russian act of sabotage against a French facility that supported Ukraine’s war efforts.

The French National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office, which announced the arrest of the 26-year-old, said that its investigation found materials used to make explosive devices and that one of those devices had exploded. No other injuries were reported.

An anti-terrorism investigation opened Tuesday led to several terrorism-related charges.

The U.S. officials said the device that exploded included the homemade explosive compound TATP, which has been used in some terror attacks in the last three decades.

The incident could be one of several recently documented examples of pro-Russian sabotage throughout Europe, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence declined to comment on the case.

U.S. and European officials say that Russia is conducting a sabotage campaign across Europe in an increasingly aggressive effort by President Vladimir Putin to undermine Western support for Ukraine, seeking to damage railways, military bases and other sites used to supply arms to Kyiv.

The incidents include an alleged Russian-backed arson attack on a Ukrainian-linked warehouse in the United Kingdom, a plot to bomb or set fire to military bases in Germany, attempts to hack and disrupt Europe’s railway signal network and the jamming of GPS systems for civil aviation, according to European and British authorities.

In a statement following NBC News’ reporting on the sabotage campaign, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service said, that “such attacks are always of a purely tendentious nature, politically opportunistic and do not contain any arguments or evidence other than the notorious ‘highly likely.’”

“The Russian Federation consistently complies precisely with the norms of international law, and not ‘rules’ promoted by the collective West to fulfill its own hegemonic aspirations. As a matter of principle, we do not interfere in sovereign affairs of foreign states,” the Russian agency said.

President Joe Biden is in France this week to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day and will be honored by his French counterpart with a state visit on Saturday, including a military parade.

Security has been increased in the country as it prepares to host the Olympics at the end of July. Russia has been banned from the Paris Games over the war in Ukraine, and has mounted a secret influence campaign that seeks to frighten people away from the Games, according to a report.

Nancy Ing reported from Paris, Jonathan Dienst and Tom Winter from New York, and Dan De Luce from Washington.

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