• Ukrainian spies with deep ties to CIA wage shadow war against Russia

    Many of #Ukraine’s clandestine operations have had clear military objectives and contributed to the country’s defense. The car bombing that killed Daria #Dugina, however, underscored Ukraine’s embrace of what officials in Kyiv refer to as “liquidations” as a weapon of war. Over the past 20 months, the SBU and its military counterpart, the GUR, have carried out dozens of assassinations against Russian officials in occupied territories, alleged Ukrainian collaborators, military officers behind the front lines and prominent war supporters deep inside Russia. Those killed include a former Russian submarine commander jogging in a park in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar and a militant blogger at a cafe in St. Petersburg, according to Ukrainian and Western officials.

    Ukraine’s affinity for lethal operations has complicated its collaboration with the CIA, raising concerns about agency complicity and creating unease among some officials in Kyiv and Washington.

    Even those who see such lethal missions as defensible in wartime question the utility of certain strikes and decisions that led to the targeting of civilians including Dugina or her father, Alexander Dugin — who officials acknowledge was the intended mark — rather than Russians more directly linked to the war.

    “We have too many enemies who are more important to neutralize,” said a high-ranking Ukraine security official. “People who launch missiles. People who committed atrocities in Bucha.” Killing the daughter of a pro-war firebrand is “very cynical,” the official said.

    Others cited broader concerns about Ukraine’s cutthroat tactics that may seem justified now — especially against a country accused of widespread war atrocities — but could later prove difficult to rein in.

    “We are seeing the birth of a set of intelligence services that are like Mossad in the 1970s,” said a former senior CIA official, referring to the Israeli spy service long accused of carrying out assassinations in other countries. Ukraine’s proficiency at such operations “has risks for Russia,” the official said, “but it carries broader risks as well.”

    “If Ukraine’s intelligence operations become even bolder — targeting Russians in third countries, for example — you could imagine how that might cause rifts with partners and come into serious tension with Ukraine’s broader strategic goals,” the official said. Among those goals is membership in NATO and the European Union.


    At the time, Ukraine vigorously denounced involvement in the attack. “Ukraine has absolutely nothing to do with this, because we are not a criminal state like Russia, or a terrorist one at that,” said Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelensky.

    Officials acknowledged in recent interviews in Kyiv, however, that those denials were false. They confirmed that the SBU planned and executed the operation, and said that while Dugin may have been the principal target, his daughter — also a vocal supporter of the invasion — was no innocent victim.

    “She is the daughter of the father of Russian propaganda,” a security official said. The car bombing and other operations inside Russia are “about narrative,” showing enemies of Ukraine that “punishment is imminent even for those who think they are untouchable.”

    • Pro-Russian Ukrainian politician is shot and wounded - family

      Former Ukrainian lawmaker Oleg Tsaryov, a pro-Russian figure whom sources said Moscow had lined up to lead a puppet administration in Kyiv after Russia’s invasion, was shot and wounded in a late-night attack, his family said on Friday.


      He is listed as a “traitor to the motherland” by Myrotvorets ("Peacemaker"), a vast unofficial Ukrainian database of people considered to be enemies of the country. Its website lists personal information on him including an email address, a passport number and an address in Yalta.

      No comment was immediately available from Ukrainian intelligence.

  • What the Dugin assassination tells us about Russia

    [Darya Dugina] was a prominent figure in her own right, a journalist working for an outfit Washington says is owned by Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin – under sanctions in the West for being the godfather of both the Wagner mercenary group and the infamous social media ‘troll farms’ – who had been a cheerleader for the war in Ukraine. Indeed, she was under sanctions, with the UK government describing her as a ‘frequent and high-profile contributor of disinformation in relation to Ukraine and the Russian invasion of Ukraine’.

    Nonetheless, inevitably there is a widespread assumption that the real target was her father. The car was said to have been his, although other accounts say it was registered in her name. Either way, he would have been in it had he not at the last moment chosen to return home another way. No one has yet claimed responsibility, but in the charged political environment of the moment, everyone is blaming their favourite villain.

    [...] This murder will only add to the #Dugin myth, one he himself has so assiduously developed. There are many in the West happy to take him at face value, as ‘Putin’s Brain’ or ‘Putin’s Rasputin’. He is not, though, and never has been especially influential. He has no personal connection to Putin, but rather is just one of a whole breed of ‘political entrepreneurs’ trying to pitch their plans and doctrines to the #Kremlin .

    • U.S. Believes Ukrainians Were Behind an Assassination in Russia

      United States intelligence agencies believe parts of the Ukrainian government authorized the car bomb attack near Moscow in August that killed Daria Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, an element of a covert campaign that U.S. officials fear could widen the conflict.

      The United States took no part in the attack, either by providing intelligence or other assistance, officials said. American officials also said they were not aware of the operation ahead of time and would have opposed the killing had they been consulted. Afterward, American officials admonished Ukrainian officials over the assassination, they said.

      [...] While Russia has not retaliated in a specific way for the assassination, the United States is concerned that such attacks — while high in symbolic value — have little direct impact on the battlefield and could provoke Moscow to carry out its own strikes against senior Ukrainian officials. American officials have been frustrated with Ukraine’s lack of transparency about its military and covert plans, especially on Russian soil.

      Since the beginning of the war, Ukraine’s security services have demonstrated their ability to reach into Russia to conduct sabotage operations. The killing of Ms. #Dugina, however, would be one of the boldest operations to date — showing Ukraine can get very close to prominent Russians.