Putin Sought to Assassinate a Defector in Florida – Failed
In a gripping tale of espionage and danger, the United States managed to thwart a plot by Russian President Vladimir Putin to assassinate a former high-ranking Russian spy turned CIA-informant in the sunny city of Miami. This shocking revelation, reported by The New York Times, sheds light on Putin’s unyielding approach to eliminating his perceived enemies, both within Russia and around the world.
The intended target of the assassination plot was none other than Aleksandr Poteyev, a former Russian intelligence official who played a pivotal role in 2010 by aiding the FBI in identifying a network of Russian spies operating covertly in American suburbs and cities along the East Coast. These spies, living under deep cover with false identities and working mundane jobs, were part of a larger plan by Russia to establish a robust and deeply embedded intelligence network within the United States.
Poteyev’s invaluable contribution to exposing the Russian spy ring made him a prime target for assassination, as detailed in the forthcoming book “Spies: The Epic Intelligence War Between East and West” by Calder Walton. The plot involved the recruitment of a Mexican citizen named Hector Alejandro Cabrera Fuentes, who was later arrested by the FBI in February 2020 for working on behalf of Moscow. The specifics of Fuentes’ involvement with Russia were initially vague, as mentioned in a Justice Department press release at the time.
According to the released information, Russian government officials provided Fuentes with a physical description of Poteyev’s vehicle, instructing him to locate the car, obtain its license plate number, and monitor its physical whereabouts. Fuentes was scheduled to meet with a Russian official in April or May 2020 to relay this crucial information. However, the operation took an unexpected turn when Fuentes’s actions raised alarms among local security, drawing attention from U.S. authorities. Photographs of Poteyev’s vehicle were discovered on Fuentes’s phone, further complicating matters.
Upon his arrest, Fuentes cooperated with American investigators and revealed his belief that the Russian officials he had communicated with were affiliated with Russia’s internal security service, known as the F.S.B. This revelation highlighted the intricacies of Russian covert operations, with different intelligence agencies like the S.V.R. and G.R.U. often involved in such endeavors.
The failed assassination attempt on Poteyev had severe repercussions, leading to a series of retaliatory measures and escalating tensions between the United States and Russia. In April 2021, President Biden enacted a range of penalties against Russia in response to a multitude of aggressive actions, including interference in the 2020 U.S. election, cyber attacks, alleged bounties on U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and other activities that threatened U.S. sovereignty and interests.
This shocking episode represents a brazen expansion of President Putin’s relentless campaign of targeted assassinations. It demonstrates that Putin’s disregard for red lines and boundaries knows no bounds. As Marc Polymeropoulos, a former C.I.A. officer who oversaw operations in Europe and Russia, aptly stated, “The red lines are long gone for Putin. He wants all these guys dead.”
The failed assassination plot in Florida serves as a chilling reminder of the high-stakes game played by intelligence services worldwide. It underscores the lengths to which some governments are willing to go to silence their adversaries, even on foreign soil. The revelation of this audacious operation has further strained an already tense relationship between the United States and Russia, leaving the world to ponder what lies ahead in this ongoing intelligence war between East and West.