Status: 06.09.2023, 17:42 p.m.
By: Bettina Menzel
War in Ukraine. The former head of the Ukrainian security service, Valentin Nalivaychenko, is critical of some Ukrainian attacks (symbolic image). © IMAGO/Presidential Office of Ukraine/Sven Simon
Ukraine's intelligence chief recently confirmed that he is increasingly targeting Russian propagandists far from the front line. An ex-spy for Kiev is critical of the murder squads.
Kyiv – The Ukraine war is not only taking place on the front lines: attacks on the hinterland are intended to cut off the attackers' supplies, the IT army is fighting Russia on the Internet and secret murder squads are apparently also being deployed against Moscow. Little is known to the public about their work, but presumably the car bomb attack on propagandist Darya Dugina and the attack on the pro-Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky could be attributed to these units. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, a former Ukrainian spy and former head of Ukraine's domestic intelligence service SBU, is apparently critical of some of the special forces' actions, he told The Economist.
Ex-spy Nalyvaichenko takes a critical view of Ukrainian murder squads
The recent missions of the special forces have been quite risky, in some cases there has been a lack of strategy or agents and their sources have been compromised, former SBU chief Nalyvaichenko said in an interview with The Economist published on Tuesday (5 September). "Our security services should not do everything just because they can," the ex-spy warned. Dozens of officials and conspirators from Russia have been murdered by Kiev's special forces in the occupied Ukrainian territories as well as in Russia since the beginning of the war, according to the report.
Recently, the focus has been strengthened and war propagandists far away from the front line are also being targeted, it said. Some of these killing squads are justified, says Nalyvaichenko, but others give food for thought from his point of view. As an anonymous source told The Economist, attacks on less prominent Russian propagandists are often carried out more to impress Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – rather than because they have a decisive influence on the course of the war.
The former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko (archive image, 2014). © IMAGO / ITAR-TASS
These murders could be attributed to the special forces of Ukraine
According to the Economist, the murder of former Russian submarine commander Stanislav Rzhitsky, who was shot while jogging, could be attributed to the Ukrainian special forces. At the time, Kiev said that the ex-military had allegedly been "liquidated by its own people". Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's military intelligence, had denied Ukrainian involvement in the murder.
However, Budanov recently confirmed to YouTube channel Rizni Lyudi that Ukraine had "successfully targeted some individuals" associated with Kremlin propaganda, Newsweek reported. Although the intelligence officer did not name names, he stressed that "thanks to media coverage, there have been well-publicized cases that everyone knows about."
Russia reports two foiled assassination attempts on Putin propagandists
According to the Economist, another success of the Ukrainian assassination squads was the murder of Yevhen Yunakov, the former mayor of Velykyi Burluk in the Kharkiv region. He had been identified as a Russian collaborator. According to him, the special command, headed by a commander nicknamed the "Caucasus", first studied all the movements of Yunakov for days: when he shopped, where he went and when. Then they detonated a bomb, the body of Yunakov was never found.
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Russia itself announced in July that it had foiled two alleged assassination attempts by the Ukrainian secret service on the prominent presenter Xenia Sobchak and on the editor-in-chief of the state television channel RT, Margarita Simonyan. Ukraine had rejected this – on the grounds that both actors "play no role".