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2 Dec, 2021 08:02

Russia detains suspected Ukraine spies

A plot by Ukrainian agents to stage a terrorist attack and strike strategically important military sites has been prevented, Russia’s top security agency has announced after detaining three men allegedly preparing to carry it out.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the FSB announced that it had thwarted “intelligence and sabotage activities on the territory of three Russian regions.”

Two men – named as Zinoviy Koval and his 22-year-old-son, Igor - confessed that they had been recruited by a member of Ukraine’s SBU security service, who had given them the task of gathering information about sensitive sites in Russia in exchange for a $10,000 reward. The FSB says that it had also detained an officer from Ukrainian Military Intelligence “sent to our country with the intent of committing a terrorist act.”

Russia detains suspected Ukraine spies

Short-barreled and automatic weapons, as well as personal protective equipment, were reportedly found in a car driven by the Kovals. According to officials, “the attack was planned to be carried out by detonating two improvised explosive devices equivalent to 1.5kg of TNT.”

The agency also revealed that in November a court convicted Sergey Shvidenko, a senior officer in the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, of overseeing a group plotting to sabotage a radio and television tower in Crimea, a mobile gas turbine power plant, a fuel warehouse, and a radio mast used by the Russian navy’s Black Sea Fleet.

Commenting later on Thursday, a spokesman for the Security Service of Ukraine denounced the statement on the arrests as fake. Artem Dekhtyarenko said that "such statements from the Russian FSB should be considered exclusively through the prism of hybrid war, in which information propaganda and the spread of fakes play an important role.”

Earlier this year, the FSB announced it had detained an official from the Ukrainian consulate in Saint Petersburg during a meeting with a Russian citizen, who allegedly provided him with secret data from law enforcement and FSB databases. The diplomat, identified as Alexander Sosonyuk, is understood to have since left the country.

In August 2020, a Russian army officer serving with the Strategic Missile Forces was also detained on charges he was passing on highly classified information on the county’s strategic forces to Ukrainian intelligence.

READ MORE: Russia's FSB arrests suspected spy accused of passing on data to Ukrainian intelligence from inside Russian nuclear forces