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SBU says it busted FSB spy ring of current and ex-intel officials in Ukraine, detained five spies

Ukraine’s Security Service says it has neutralized a major FSB military intelligence network operating in Ukraine, detaining 5 members. The network reportedly included current and former Ukrainian intel officials.
SBU officers arresting a suspected Russian spy. Photo: Telegram/SBU, published on 6 February 2024.
SBU says it busted FSB spy ring of current and ex-intel officials in Ukraine, detained five spies

On 6 February, Ukraine’s SBU security service reported that it had dismantled a major FSB Russian military intelligence network operating inside Ukraine, detaining five member spies. The network reportedly contained current and ex-Ukrainian intel officers who conducted espionage against Ukraine’s military and power plants for Russia.

“The SBU neutralized a powerful agent network of the FSB military counterintelligence operating in Ukraine. As a result of a multi-stage special operation, five members of the enemy group were detained in different regions. Among them are former officials of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry (HUR, – Ed.) and the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine, as well as an employee of the regional SBU office,” the statement said.

The SBU says the individuals involved in this network had a common handler, an FSB employee currently located in temporarily occupied Crimea. The primary mission of this espionage network was to transmit classified information concerning Ukraine’s Armed Forces and strategically vital energy facilities to Russia.

The investigation revealed that a former foreign intelligence officer was recruited by the FSB before Russia’s full-scale invasion on 24 February 2022 while still in active service. He reportedly collected information on Ukrainian military base locations and, after the invasion, monitored the channels for foreign weapons entering Ukraine. He also allegedly shared classified details about the Rivne and Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Plants’ operations and security systems with the FSB.

To maintain secrecy, he avoided using phones and relied on an accomplice who acted as a volunteer abroad to report to the Russian intelligence resident. Particularly sensitive information was transferred via a flash drive through local smugglers near Ukraine’s borders, SBU says.

Another suspected Russian agent, who had previously served in the HUR, was reportedly “leaking” personal data of Ukrainian defenders to the Russians.

Another defendant, an SBU officer, was allegedly tasked with providing the Russian occupiers with the geolocation of fortifications and engineering barriers along Odesa Oblast’s coastline.

According to the investigation, the FSB recruited members of the group, often using threats against their families. Additionally, the criminals received financial compensation from Russia for each completed task,” the SBU statement reads.

At present, SBU investigators have notified five individuals involved in the suspected Russian espionage network of their suspicions under Article 111 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code, which pertains to state treason. All of them have been placed in custody, and the investigation remains ongoing.

Ukrainian media coalition decries “targeting” of journalists critical of authorities

The SBU report follows a scandal involving the agency’s alleged illegal surveillance of journalists from the project, resulting in accusations of drug use. On 6 February,  the Ukrainian Parliament summoned the head of the SBU, Maluk, over the case of illegal surveillance of journalists, with the decision receiving support from 159 deputies out of the required 150 votes.

  • Last fall, Ukraine’s counterintelligence uncovered a network of local women operating as Russian agents in Hirnyk, Donetsk Oblast, with charges of treason and unauthorized distribution of military information. Three Ukrainian citizens were detained by the SBU, and one Russian citizen is currently in Russia.
  • In December, Ukrainian Security Forces captured a suspected FSB agent involved in missile strikes in Kyiv a year ago.

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