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Russian special services lure Ukrainian teens to set military cars on fire

In a disturbing trend, Russian special services are exploiting social media to recruit Ukrainian teenagers for subversive activities, promising them generous rewards for setting fire to military vehicles. The subversive act is punishable by up to 15 years in prison
Russian sabotage special services
A Ukrainian military car set on fire in Dnipro on 12 June. Photo via Ukraine’s National police
Russian special services lure Ukrainian teens to set military cars on fire

The National Police of Ukraine has reported that since the beginning of 2024, Russian special services have been actively recruiting Ukrainian teenagers as young as 13 years old on social media to engage in subversive activities and destabilize the situation in Ukraine.

Russia’s subversive campaigns have included activities like recruiting Ukrainian locals to engage in disinformation, terrorist attacks, or guiding Russian missile strikes. However, cases of recruitment of children were earlier unheard of.

“The employees of the special services of the Russian Federation promise teenagers generous monetary rewards for arson,” said Vadym Dziubynskyi, head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the National Police.

According to the police, criminal investigators in Odesa exposed two boys, aged 13 and 16, who set fire to two vehicles belonging to the military. The teenagers were detained along with two friends, aged 16 and 18, while attempting to set fire to another car.

Police investigators handed over the materials to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), who informed the detained suspect of suspicion of committing sabotage under martial law based on the evidence collected by law enforcement.

The youngest boy, 13, was released on parental bail, while the others were remanded in custody by the court without the right to post bail. They face up to 15 years in prison. Operatives also detained two more boys, aged 17 and 18, for a similar crime and informed them of suspicion. Arson of Ukrainian military vehicles was also recorded in Kyiv and Dnipro, with urgent investigative actions being carried out and pre-trial investigations underway.

“We urge parents to pay more attention to their children, as well as to warn them about the insidiousness of the enemy and the legal responsibility for committing sabotage: up to 15 years in prison or life imprisonment,” Dziubynskyi appealed to parents.

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