Russia boasted UAE ties in leaked intelligence docs

Russian intelligence officers bragged about undermining the US with new ties to the United Arab Emirates, a newly leaked document shows.

The document, which reportedly appeared on social media as part of a larger US intelligence breach, had known top-secret markings and was viewed by The Associated Press.

The page titled “Russia/UAE: Intelligence Relationship Deepening” alleged that the two nations had forged a new connection against the US and United Kingdom.

“In mid-January, FSB officials claimed UAE security service officials and Russia had agreed to work together against US and UK Intelligence agencies, according to newly acquired signals intelligence,” the report read, referring to the security agency that succeeded the Soviet-era KGB.

“The UAE probably views engagement with Russian intelligence as an opportunity to strengthen growing ties between Abu Dhabi and Moscow and diversify intelligence partnerships amid concerns of US disengagement from the region,” it concluded.

US officials declined to comment on the document’s authenticity, while Emirati officials said that accusations were “categorically false.”

Smoke rises in the city of Severodonetsk.
There are concerns that the UAE is helping Russia thwart sanctions imposed after the invasion of Ukraine.
AFP via Getty Images

The US, however, continues to worry that the UAE may be helping Russia to avoid sanctions imposed over the ongoing war in Ukraine.

In March, Assistant Treasury Secretary Elizabeth Rosenberg called the UAE a “country of focus,” noting that businesses based there were helping Russia obtain more than $5 million in US semiconductors and other materials with potential combat uses.

US intelligence officials have also indicated possible ties between the UAE and the Wagner Group, Russia’s controversial, secretive paramilitary group.

In 2020, the US Defense Intelligence Agency claimed that the UAE “may provide some financing” for the group, which is active in Ukraine and parts of Africa.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with United Arab Emirates' President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with United Arab Emirates’ President Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan last fall.

On Monday, Andreas Krieg, an associate professor at King’s College in London, said the UAE is “the most important strategic partner for Russia in both the Middle East and Africa” thanks to their shared outlooks on several key issues in the regions.

Kristian Ulrichsen, a Middle East expert at Rice University’s Baker Institute, said the possible reference to US and UK intelligence was nonetheless surprising.

“[Russian intelligence] probably have an interest in describing something in those terms,” he explained.

“If that was the way the UAE was describing it, I’d certainly take it … quite differently.”

A US official also told the AP that the US is concerned about Russians flooding Dubai’s real estate market in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.

In October, federal prosecutors in New York also announced charges against two Russian men based in Dubai who were allegedly part of an operation to steal military technology from US companies, as well as smuggling millions of barrels of oil and laundering money for oligarchs connected to Vladimir Putin.

Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with the government via a video link.
Russia may be looking to further thwart US intelligence operations during the Ukraine war.
SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images

In the charging documents, one of the Dubai-based Russians was quoted assuring his partners that “there were no worries” about using UAE institutions for the illicit transactions.

“This is the [worst] bank in the Emirates,” he was quoted as saying.

 “They pay to everything.”

The UAE is also one of the few countries still running direct flights to Moscow after the Ukraine invasion.

Still, in a statement on Monday, the Emirati government denied allegations regarding connections to the FSB.

“We refute any allegation regarding an agreement to deepen cooperation between the UAE and other countries’ security services against another country,” the statement read.

“The UAE has deep and distinguished relations with all countries, reflecting its principles of openness, partnership, building bridges, and working to serve the common interests of countries and peoples to achieve international peace and security.”

Relations between the US and the UAE have varied over the past several years under the leadership of Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Under former President Donald Trump, the UAE diplomatically recognized Israel. The country is now seeking American F-35 fighter jets, which they have yet to receive.

With Post wires