Former Russian military bomber engineer seeks asylum at US border

Gap in the US-Mexico border wall lit up at night, Yuma, Ariz.

A gap in the U.S.-Mexico border wall lit up at night in Yuma, Arizona. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

According to an unclassified Customs and Border Protection report obtained by Yahoo News, Russian military bomber engineers drove to the U.S. southwestern border in late December, sought asylum, and were killed by Russia’s most heavily guarded forces. I have offered to reveal some of the military secrets that are being held.

A man and his family arrived in an armored SUV and asked to be allowed into the United States for fearing persecution for participating in anti-Putin protests in support of imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. He then told CBP officials that he had information the US government wanted.

He is a civil engineer and “his past employment included working from 2018 to 2021 at the Tupolev aircraft production facility in the city of Kazan in the central-western part of Russia to build certain types of military aircraft.” According to an unclassified CBP report dated Jan. 11 obtained by Yahoo News.

“He described the aircraft type as an ‘attack jet’ and said it was ‘called the White Swan TU160, the largest military aircraft.'”

Demonstrators support Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny in Desseldorf, Germany, April 21, 2021

Protesters rally in support of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny in Düsseldorf, Germany, on April 21, 2021. (Ying Tang/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The CBP report is a daily compilation of items compiled by the agency’s National Border Security Intelligence Watch and is designed to highlight emerging trends and noteworthy events for leaders. The Center added a comment in bold italic type after the paragraph detailing the engineer’s arrival and employment and explaining why his information was valuable.

“The TU-160 White Swan, also known by its NATO reporting name ‘Blackjack’, is reportedly the most advanced strategic bomber in Russia’s inventory, and was used for tactical air strikes in the Ukraine War. is also used in the role of According to open source reports, a large-scale new construction program for aircraft upgrades and an upgrade program for existing aircraft has been underway at the Tupolev facility in the past few years,” said an unclassified “CBP indication and WARNING, according to daily. “

CBP declined to respond to Yahoo News questions or to make any other comment, citing agency policy as saying: I will not check internal documents or speak to them.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agent

Customs and Border Protection agents at a processing facility in Brownsville, Texas. (Eric Gay/Reuters)

Russian military expert Michael Coffmann said he had no unique knowledge of the Russian engineer, but generally spoke of information anyone in his position could provide.

“Individuals working at defense industrial facilities like Tuplov are concerned about defense industrial production, the specifications associated with the Tu-160 bomber and its recently developed modernized variants, the various production processes, the dependencies, and their limitations. You have access to a lot of information. It’s a lie,” said Coffman, director of the Russian Studies Program at the Naval Analytical Center.

“Those in such positions can accumulate knowledge by the types of information they are exposed to at work, some of which may prove valuable,” he told Yahoo News. Told.

As the United States continues to push its allies to send military equipment to Ukraine, details about this particular fighter jet, recreated and improved during the time the technician was employed, will be valuable information. A senior military intelligence official said.

“Can a site manager know if a modified bomber is modified to launch hypersonic missiles? He might. That would be a really big problem if they were modified to be able to fire . “We have nothing to defend against hypersonic missiles, which means the Patriot system and everything else we supply to Ukraine is useless.”

Russian Tupolev Tu-160 jet bomber

A Russian Tupolev Tu-160 jet bomber in flight. (Sefa Karakan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

The man’s name and details of his U.S. arrival were included in an unsorted daily roundup of items of interest from around the country and around the world. It is extremely rare and perhaps unprecedented that this particular report contains the full name and detailed information of the asylum seeker. .

Multiple officials have expressed concerns about the man’s safety, so Yahoo News withheld his name and details of where he arrived and applied for asylum.

Everyone Yahoo News spoke to said they were surprised that the man’s identity and detailed work history were included in the unclassified CBP report. Around the time the CBP report was circulated, according to three of his U.S. government officials who read his CBP report, Yahoo News believed it contained information about this same individual, according to several classified documents. There was a briefing. Officials did not provide further details, citing the high sensitivity of foreign military defectors.

When someone appears at a U.S. port of entry seeking entry and claims to have information material to the United States, CBP and Homeland Security are tasked with verifying the information provided. If the information is verified to be true and the person is deemed trustworthy, they are passed on to the FBI.

“The walk-in deal is that we have to verify his ID and check his story as well. This can take some time.

FBI agent

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“Only if he checked out, which means he was the person who said he was and worked where he said, if that happened, the FBI would take him over and probably put him in a safe house.” Take me and I’ll ask you.”

For about a week and a half, CBP and DHS worked to verify the man’s identity and previous employers. By around January 11, he was deemed credible and of potential interest to the United States and turned over to the FBI for further questioning, according to two government officials.

DHS and the Pentagon did not respond to Yahoo News’ requests for comment. The FBI also declined to comment.

The engineer is believed to be in the United States and is currently being questioned by US authorities. He may be being questioned about resuming blackjack production and an improved or upgraded version that the Russian technician may have worked on while he was employed as a “field manager”.

He was also likely being asked about matters unrelated to bombers, including targeted e-mail systems, software, staffing, manufacturers used in aircraft manufacturing facilities, etc. may contain information that could be used for cyber-attacks or information gathering. Other efforts.

“Of course, we know Russian bombers very well. But specs, real specs, nuclear capabilities – if this guy is trustworthy, there are certainly things we’d love to hear. The big thing is. , modified for hypersonic missiles,” a military official told Yahoo News.

spy photo illustration

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“I’m not saying he does [know the answer] I’m not saying he doesn’t. I’m not saying I know if he has that information or not. If he had something to say about it, he says, it would matter.

Daniel Hoffman, a retired CIA senior classified services officer, said he didn’t think the Russian engineer’s case was unusual.

“The man is here, so he is processed. He goes through our system and they talk to him and hear what he was doing before. That’s it. It’s very simple. ‘ said Hoffman.

“You know, we’ll talk about where he used to work and see what his access was and see if there’s anything of value. We might have that information. Well, maybe he doesn’t. There’s nothing more he can do for you. It’s all historic,” Hoffman told Yahoo News. “Things like this happen all the time.”