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26 Mar, 2024 12:32

Ukraine’s top spy a ‘legitimate target’ – FSB chief

Anyone committing crimes against Russia is a marked man, security service chief Aleksandr Bortnikov has said
Ukraine’s top spy a ‘legitimate target’ – FSB chief

Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kirill Budanov, should be considered a valid target for Russian troops, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Aleksandr Bortnikov, told journalists on Tuesday. The same principle should be applied to anyone “committing crimes” against Russia, the official added.

A Moscow court ordered Budanov’s arrest on terrorism charges in December 2023, after Kiev’s top spy was accused of masterminding over 100 “terrorist attacks” involving drones targeting Russian civilian infrastructure.

The head of the Ukrainian military intelligence (GUR) has openly advocated attacks on Russian soil, including territory that Kiev recognizes as being under Moscow’s sovereignty. Budanov initially touted the assaults as “partisan activities,” but later acknowledged the responsibility of the Ukrainian state.

“Those committing crimes against Russia and Russian citizens are a legitimate target,” Bortnikov said when asked about Budanov and other high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officials. When pressed by journalists on why Russia has not yet acted on those targets, the FSB chief replied that this possibility “is still ahead.”

The FSB initially identified Budanov as the mastermind of the October 2022 bombing of the Crimean Bridge. The attack involved a powerful explosive device smuggled into Russia by an unsuspecting truck driver. The man and four other people in a nearby car were killed in the blast.

On Tuesday, a Moscow Court also issued an arrest warrant for another top Ukrainian security official, Vasily Malyuk, who heads that nation’s domestic security service (SBU). Malyuk now also stands accused of masterminding the Crimean Bridge attack. Last August he claimed responsibility for the incident, telling Ukraine’s UNIAN news agency that he’d “personally” planned the “operation.”

On Monday, the SBU head also hinted that his agency was behind several high-profile assassinations inside Russia, including that of former Ukrainian MP Ilya Kiva and of blogger Vladlen Tatarsky, as well as the attempted murder of author Zakhar Prilepin.

When asked by an ICTV journalist about the SBU’s potential involvement in those incidents, Malyuk openly stated that the reporter was right to address this question to him but said he would not officially claim responsibility for any of those attacks. He still proceeded to reveal some very specific details about the weapons and explosives used in each instance.

Commenting on the developments on Tuesday, Bortnikov said that the SBU should also be designated a terrorist organization.

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