A Dnipropetrovsk man has been sentenced to 15 years in jail for disclosing Ukrainian military positions to Russian forces, the Security Service of Ukraine (‘SBU’) said today on its Telegram feed.

 The conviction comes as the SBU seeks to further implement its counterintelligence operations in response to war-time conditions.

 The SBU said that the actions of the convicted spy had resulted in Russian aviation attacks on targets in Dnipropetrovsk region in early summer of 2022, all of which reportedly failed.

 According to the details of SBU’s investigation, the perpetrator was a resident of Marhantsya who, in March 2022, was released from prison where he had served a sentence for grievous bodily harm.

 At that point, the perpetrator began to collect information about the sites of Ukrainian military bases and residential complexes in the Dnipropetrovsk region.

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 He particular attempted to locate and disclose the positions of Ukrainian S-300 anti-aircraft systems and facilities.

 Having collected the intel, the perpetrator passed it to his son, who was serving with the Russian occupying forces that had taken part in assaults in the Izyum region. They communicated with each other using a messaging app.

 Eventually, the SBU’s Military Counterintelligence unit detained the suspect.

 The SBU said that, on the basis of presented evidence, the court found the suspect guilty under section 2, clause 111 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine – national treason during martial law. 

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 The guilty man was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment and plus an additional three years for unserved time from his previous criminal charge.

 According to its website, since 2021, the SBU, through its counterintelligence operations, has initiated 78 criminal proceedings for high treason, espionage, creation of a terrorist organization or illegal export of dual-use goods.

 However, the agency has been subject to criticism, including from the highest levels of the Ukrainian Government. Last July, President Zelensky fired its chief, Ivan Bakanov, as well as the Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova, for failing to adequately tackle infiltrations and “improper performance of service duties.”

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 At that time, Zelensky announced 651 criminal proceedings had been registered against officials, across several high-level offices, for allegedly collaborating with Russia or working against the nation’s interests.

“Such an array of crimes against the foundations of the national security of the state and the connections detected between the employees of the security forces of Ukraine and the special services of Russia, pose very serious questions to the relevant leadership,” Zelensky said in his nightly address on July 17, 2022.

In February 2023, an investigation identified and removed a group of seven Russian agents.

 Last week, Kyiv Post reported on the conclusion of a separate investigation into another Russian spy ring within the SBU, including Oleg Kulinich, former Head of the Main Department of the SBU for Crimea, who now stands accused of being a Russian FSB agent.

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 However, some international experts believe that overall, the SBU has been improving in its performance over the course of the full-scale war.

 In a policy memo for Ponars Eurasia last month, Professor Eli Kaul said that the removal of officials appears at face value “to indicate a major problem within the SBU and its colleagues in the security apparatus."

 “However, these personnel changes convey an improved evolution of the Ukrainian security apparatus that demands higher standards from its personnel,” Kaul continued. “The continued collaboration with the West on intelligence and defense matters further indicates a positive trend in the evolution of the SBU’s counterintelligence capabilities moving forward.”

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