Ukraine’s counterintelligence service has dismantled a network of local women secretly working as Russian agents in Hirnyk, Donetsk Oblast, according to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and Donetsk Oblast Prosecutor’s Office.
The three Ukrainian citizens and one Russian citizen were exposed for treason and unauthorized distribution of information on the location of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
All four women resided in Pokrovsk district. Three were detained by the SBU, including the Russian citizen, while the fourth is currently in Russia.
According to the SBU, the women were recruited by occupiers before 24 February 2022 and were in “standby mode.”
Prosecutors said in August 2022, a Ukrainian woman living in Russia agreed to cooperate with her former fellow townsman, now a Wagner Group mercenary, and an FSB agent. She promised to gather intelligence for the occupiers.
For a year, she and three Hirnyk acquaintances, including a Russian citizen, sent them text messages, photos, audio files, and Google Maps screenshots regarding the locations of Ukrainian troops in Pokrovsk district via Telegram. The women also reported movements of Ukrainian military equipment and results of strikes on Ukrainian positions.
The collaborators tried to identify and leak to the aggressor directions of departures of Ukraine’s combat aircraft, including strike helicopters near Avdiivka. Routes of heavy armor leaving the frontline also interested them.
To collect intelligence, the suspects surveyed areas and covertly photographed Ukrainian sites. The woman in Russia promptly forwarded data to her handlers.
The SBU apprehended three participants in the Russian intelligence network during intelligence gathering. The identity of the group’s coordinator who left for Russia after the invasion began was also established.
Searches uncovered mobile phones used for intelligence activities. Three detained women were notified of suspicion of treason, unauthorized information distribution, and collaboration. They remain in custody.
Charges are planned against the fourth suspect who fled to Russia. If convicted, the perpetrators face life imprisonment. The investigation continues.