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3 Jun, 2024 13:38

Ukrainian spy network busted in Crimea – FSB 

Five suspects acted independently from each other to prepare an assassination attempt, the Russian agency has claimed 

Five Ukrainian intelligence agents have been detained in the Russian city of Sevastopol, Moscow’s Federal Security Service (FSB) alleged on Monday. The men were coordinating with Kiev to plot acts of sabotage and at least one assassination, the agency claimed. 

The five suspects did not know each other but together formed a spy network handled by Ukraine’s civilian and military special services, the FSB alleged. The operation was busted thanks to intercepted communications, the agency added. 

The FSB released multiple images related to the case, including footage of arrests and interrogations, images of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and bomb components, and screenshots of purported communications with Ukrainian handlers.

One of the alleged agents – a former Ukrainian pilot – had been recruited by Kiev in 2018, around four years before the conflict with Moscow erupted into open hostilities, a Russian official claimed.  

His main task was to identify former members of the Ukrainian military in the Crimean Peninsula, who could be turned against Russia, the FSB said. He was also allegedly in charge of a location used to store smuggled explosives before they could be recovered by other agents to make IEDs. 

The materials indicate that financial incentives were key for the collaborators. One of them allegedly complained to his handler about a $60 debt that he could not pay off and demanded money for his services upfront. 

The same suspect was apparently surprised by a package he was instructed to recover. He texted to his handler: “It’s huge. Is it safe?” When later questioned by Russian law enforcement, the man said he would not have taken the item to crowded places, despite assurances that it had posed no danger to him. 

Another detainee, a former civilian contractor of the Ukrainian Navy, was allegedly lured into cooperating with Kiev with a promise of receiving medical treatment in Europe, the Russian official claimed. Ukraine never delivered on the supposed promise, he added.

The suspects were reportedly tasked with tracking Russian military assets and conducting reconnaissance for Kiev. However, at least one operation was an apparent attempt to assassinate a particular Russian military service member. An agent was instructed to observe the man’s car to confirm that the target used it, and later to place a magnetic bomb under it, according to the FSB.