Amidst the rallying cry of Ukrainian nationals and the backing of military, financial, and humanitarian support from the West, various top-ranking Ukrainian officials were arrested for espionage.
According to Reuters, long before the Ukrainian war began, Kremlin had already started building its network to pave the way for this war. During the first attacks, the Russian army encountered 169 members of the Ukrainian National Guard in Chernobyl, and in a matter of two hours, the Ukrainians surrendered.
Apparently, this pivotal incident was not a surprise for Russia. They have already laid plans for infiltrating the infamous nuclear plant and have strategized for the location to be their base operations during the beginning of the war. Moreover, sources with knowledge of Russian processes said Kremlin’s war planners had foreseen a small number of defenders in the region, making them more confident in their attack.
#Ukraine finally arrested the top ranked mole, long-time Russian FSB agent Oleg Kulinich (linked to sanctioned by the US Andrey Derkach). Since 2020, Kulinich was returned by Ukr top spy Ivan Bakanov to top ranks in @ServiceSsu & responsible for occupied #Crimea. Thread⬇️ pic.twitter.com/mZxtrNaDpH
— Viktor Kovalenko (@MrKovalenko) July 16, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s administration was expected to “quit, flee or capitulate,” but that didn’t happen. And now, we’re past 162 days from the first day of the war.
On the other hand, Ukraine is aware of the moles within its administration and military forces.
“Apart from the external enemy, we unfortunately have an internal enemy, and this enemy is no less dangerous,” the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, said in an interview.
Danilov confirmed that various leaks during the first few months of the war cost them resources. He did not disclose names but claimed they ensured the traitors were “neutralized.”
More and more traitors are being unveiled as Ukraine inches to reclaim its territories. In a report by SBU, the Ukrainian Security Service Operatives have uncovered and detained members of the Russian FSB spy network. The leader turned out to be a “civilian” resident in Odesa, recruited by the Russians. The leader goes under the pseudonym “Professor.”
The “Professor” created a vast network of agent-informants in multiple regions in Ukraine. They were informing Russian special services of the location of Ukrainian weaponry and headquarters for “decision-making centers,” according to Babel. The “Professor” was scouting around Odesa military when he was arrested and another informant, as detailed in the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast.
“To fulfill the tasks of the Russian government, he set up an extensive network of assets, hiring residents of multiple regions. The Russian special service was interested in information about the exact location of decision-making centers and critical infrastructure objects,” the SBU notes.
Additionally, the spy network among top-ranking military officials is slowly unraveling. According to The Kyiv Independent, the former Security Council Deputy Secretary Volodymyr Sivkovych has been arrested and is suspected of high treason for providing information to Russian intelligence. Just like the “Professor,” Sivkovych was supposedly heading an extensive network of agents in Ukraine that spied for Russia.
“Now I don’t have time to deal with all the traitors but gradually they will all be punished,” Zelensky said at the time.
⚡️Former Security Council deputy secretary suspected of high treason.
The State Bureau of Investigations reported on July 23 that Volodymyr Sivkovych is suspected of working for the Russian intelligence services and managing a network of agents in Ukraine that spied for Russia.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) July 23, 2022
“The bureau also said that Oleh Kulinich, the former deputy head of Ukraine’s Security Service in Crimea and recently detained, was allegedly a part of the same network.”
The Security Agency is still on the hunt for more spies as hundreds more were rounded up on accusations of espionage. However, this did not mean the SBU was safe from the investigation. Back in July, President Zelensky asked the parliament to dismiss former SBU Chief Ivan Bakanov, and he has not been reinstated since.
With Zelensky’s “self-purification” within the Ukrainian administration, analysts said the betrayal had been “obvious” from the start.
According to ABC, Kyiv-based analyst Volodymyr Fesenko said the raid on regional chiefs was necessary. Though the decision on “Bakanov” was “forced,” it was the right thing to do.
“This is a crisis decision. They need to bring in order, to purge the SBU and search for … agents. Not only in the SBU, of course, but the SBU is critically important.”
With their powerful counteroffensive on Kherson, it is becoming more apparent that the drive to remove spies within the military has proven effective in maintaining that “surprise factor” against Russia.
Fesenko also said that Zelensky’s decision to start with the SBU was perceptive since this is the central organization that will do the investigations. So, if the head of the SBU is corrupt, they could never progress.
“It was obvious there was treason in the Kherson region. That there were agents is obvious. Now there will be tough counterintelligence action and outing of these agents. That’s why the SBU question is so important. Because it is the SBU that should handle counterintelligence… And it turned out there were also Russian agents in the SBU.”
Ukraine is still pursuing multiple investigations with the hopes of finally crushing all connections to Russia.
“Now it’s certainly smaller, but it remains,” said Constitutional and policy expert Bohdan Bondarenko.