MOSCOW — Ukraine’s intelligence agency SBU said on Monday it has thwarted a plot to attack soccer’s European Championships in France by arresting a Frenchman who wanted to cross from Ukraine into the European Union armed to the teeth.
The SBU said in a statement it had followed the man since December and allowed him to purchase five machine guns, two rocket propelled grenades and other weapons before he was arrested on the border between Ukraine and Poland last month.
The SBU didn’t identify the man but said he was driven by ultra-nationalist views and planned 15 attacks on bridges, railways and other pieces of infrastructure for Euro 2016 that will be held in France.
Extremist attacks are a major concern for French authorities as they prepare to host the month-long tournament at stadiums in the Paris area and eight other cities from Friday through July 10. Islamic State extremists have threatened France during the tournament, but authorities have not confirmed specific dangers.
France is deploying 90,000 security forces for the tournament, and French President Francois Hollande said Sunday night that the threat of attacks won’t stop it from being successful.
Ukrainian authorities released photos of a fair-haired man, with his face blurred, holding various weapons.
The SBU said the French man came up on their radar last year during his stay in eastern Ukraine, and where he was “trying to establish ties with Ukrainian troops under the guise of volunteering.”
Ukrainian troops and Russia-backed separatists have fought in the east since April 2014, killing more than 9,400 people. It was not immediately clear which side of the conflict the French man had stayed at.
“The Frenchman spoke negatively about his government’s migration policies, the spread of Islam and globalization,” the SBU said. “He also said that he wanted to perpetrate acts of terror in protest.”