Ukraine appears to confirm death of negotiator dubbed ‘traitor’ by media
Kiev has said that Denis Kireev, a secret agent on a mission from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, has died. Earlier reports claimed that a man with the same name was killed by Ukrainian secret services as a suspected traitor.
Ukraine’s Chief Directorate of Intelligence said on Saturday that Kireev was among three agents killed in the line of duty. “They have died, protecting Ukraine,” the military intelligence agency wrote on social media, without elaborating.
News of Kireev’s death has caused some confusion after Ukrainian media initially reported that the country’s own domestic security service, the SBU, strongly believed Kireev was a spy and had killed him during an apparent arrest attempt.
Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper quoted sources as saying that SBU agents had “clear” evidence of high treason and had tapped Kireev’s phone. However, other reports claimed that the SBU was not involved in the man’s death, and that someone wanted to frame the agency. The SBU has not commented on the matter.
Kireev was reportedly a member of Ukraine’s negotiation team during peace talks with Russia in Belarus on Monday. Although he was not on the official list of negotiators released by Kiev, Ukrainian media claimed that he was photographed sitting alongside other negotiators at the table with the Russians.
Kireev was described as a former financier and private equity fund manager, who in the past held a high-level position at the State Savings Bank of Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine last week, arguing that it was defending the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, which broke off from Kiev shortly after the 2014 coup. Moscow said it sought “demilitarization and denazification” of the country, without elaborating, but made it clear that it wants Ukraine to officially become a neutral country, renouncing its bid to join NATO.
Kiev said the attack was entirely unprovoked and appealed to the international community for help, accusing Russia of aggression.
The next round of peace talks is scheduled on Monday, according to Ukraine.