How Vladimir Putin's spies in Ukraine blew it for him in Ukraine: report

How Vladimir Putin's spies in Ukraine blew it for him in Ukraine: report
Image via Creative Commons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spies either failed or chose not to report intelligence back to Moscow in the leadup to his attack on Ukraine, according to an expansive investigation published by The Washington Post on Friday.

"In the final days before the invasion of Ukraine, Russia’s security service began sending cryptic instructions to informants in Kyiv. Pack up and get out of the capital, the Kremlin collaborators were told, but leave behind the keys to your homes. The directions came from senior officers in a unit of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) with a prosaic name — the Department of Operational Information — but an ominous assignment: ensure the decapitation of the Ukrainian government and oversee the installation of a pro-Russian regime," the report begins.

"The messages were a measure of the confidence in that audacious plan. So certain were FSB operatives that they would soon control the levers of power in Kyiv, according to Ukrainian and Western security officials, that they spent the waning days before the war arranging safe houses or accommodations in informants’ apartments and other locations for the planned influx of personnel," it continues.

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"An agency whose domain includes internal security in Russia as well as espionage in the former Soviet states, the FSB has spent decades spying on Ukraine, attempting to co-opt its institutions, paying off officials and working to impede any perceived drift toward the West. No aspect of the FSB’s intelligence mission outside Russia was more important than burrowing into all levels of Ukrainian society," write correspondents Greg Miller and Catherine Belton. "And yet, the agency failed to incapacitate Ukraine’s government, foment any semblance of a pro-Russian groundswell or interrupt President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hold on power. Its analysts either did not fathom how forcefully Ukraine would respond, Ukrainian and Western officials said, or did understand but couldn’t or wouldn’t convey such sober assessments to Russian President Vladimir Putin."

The authors noted several major points that were revealed throughout months of scouring documents and conducting interviews with officials:

1: The Kremlin was misled by its own overly confident people about the stability of the Ukrainian government and the resolve of the population.

2: The number of FSB staff in Ukraine increased five-fold between 2019 and the launch of Putin's "special military operation" on February 24th.

READ MORE: Fears grow over Russia planning a 'massive missile attack' on Ukrainian Independence Day: report

3: Replacement regimes had been arranged for the takeover of Kyiv after Zelenskyy had been toppled.

4: Nobody within FSB's leadership has been fired.

5: Six months into the war, neither side is winning.

The exposé in its entirety can be viewed here (subscription required).

READ MORE: Ukraine is 'ready and able' to defeat Russia: Ukrainian foreign minister

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