United States – US ex-serviceman charged with espionage for Moscow

A former “green beret” of Russian origin, approached by Moscow in the 1990s, faces life imprisonment for espionage.

The US Department of Justice.


A former agent of the “Green Berets” unit of the US special forces was arrested Friday and charged with spying on behalf of Russia, the justice ministry said. According to American justice, Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins, born in the United States of a Russian mother, was approached by Moscow in 1996, even before he joined the army.

During a university stay in Chelyabinsk, he met agents to whom he assured to be a “son of Russia” and to be politically pro-Russian. The following year, Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins – who called himself Ikar Lesnikov by his Russian contacts – married his Russian girlfriend, whose father was a military officer, and joined the US military. A few years later, he communicated to Russia his wish to quit the military, but was encouraged to join the Special Forces instead.

He faces life imprisonment

The last contact with Russia mentioned in the indictment dates back to 2011, where Peter Rafael Dzibinski Debbins indicates he will move to Washington. According to his LinkedIn profile, he then started working for the Institute of World Politics, specializing in national security and intelligence.

The 45-year-old ex-soldier, arrested in Virginia, is accused of “providing information on American defense to a foreign government” and faces life imprisonment. “The facts mentioned in this case are a shocking betrayal by a former army officer, his former comrades in arms and his country,” said Alan Kohler, an FBI official, in a statement.


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