In response to Russia’s full-scale invasion, the role of special operation forces and Ukrainian intelligence has become vital for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

It was Ukrainian intelligence that warned President Volodymyr Zelensky about the impending invasion, and military intelligence specialists have conducted many successful operations behind enemy lines.

However, the situation has not always been like that. Effective and highly capable Ukrainian intelligence was created virtually from scratch in 2014.

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Since the Soviet Union and up to 2014, many Russian agents worked in the Ukrainian special services. Former President Viktor Yanukovych introduced Russian agents to the leadership of the Special Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) and Ukrainian intelligence service (GUR) from the time of his administration.

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In 2014, when Russian first invaded eastern Ukraine, the SBU and GUR were rendered ineffective. Currently, a large-scale purge is being carried out in the SBU and traitors are regularly arrested.

Under Yanukovych’s leadership, agents of the Russian Federation were appointed to the Ministry of Defense and deliberately sabotaged the GUR. As a result, the GUR did not have sufficient data on the Russian army, its movements and concentrations of its forces on the border. GUR management had to restore its structure at a frantic pace to tackle the Russian offensive in 2014.

The heroic defense of Donetsk airport began precisely with the operation of the Ukrainian intelligence detachment of Colonel Maksym Shapoval, which freed the airport from the Russian occupiers.

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Shapoval’s unit collected evidence of Russia’s aggression, data on the deployment of Russian artillery and conducted operations in the deep rear of the enemy. It distinguished itself in the battles for the strategic height of Savur-Mohyla, located about five kilometers from the border between Ukraine and Russia’s Rostov Oblast.

Special operation in Crimea

In 2016, on the eve of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to illegally occupied Crimea, the leadership of Ukraine decided to show the occupying forces that their presence would not be safe, hence they planned a special operation in Crimea.

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On August 6-8, 2016, a sabotage group consisting of five fighters of the GUR under the command of the current chief of the GUR, Kyrylo Budanov, launched a raid on Crimea.

Its purpose was to sabotage the Russian air base.

Ukrainian fighters landed from the sea on the western coast of Crimea, took the necessary weapons, then boarded a rented minibus to drive closer to the target of their attack.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) received information about the activities of the Ukrainian special services in Crimea and all FSB forces were alerted.

A group of those forces surrounded a car with Ukrainian fighters in Crimea, led by Lieutenant Colonel Roman Kamenev, a direct subordinate to the head of the Crimean FSB, Viktor Palagin. Kamenev was shot dead by Ukrainian fighters as a result of a skirmish.

Budanov’s group of fighters managed to escape since the Russians failed to find Ukrainian saboteurs. In some incredible way, they managed to secretly leave Crimea and outwit all the Russian special services and the military. In essence, the entire Russian armada could not detect a whole five saboteurs in a tiny area.

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On the night of August 7-8, according to information from a Russian court, Ukrainian saboteurs broke through the blockade in the area controlled by units of the 247th Airborne Assault Regiment of the Russian Armed Forces. Russian corporal Semyon Sychev was killed in an overnight skirmish.

As a result of these operations, Budanov is now high on the list of targets for Russian mercenaries. Just days ago, the SBU neutralized a contract killing attempt on Budanov and Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

Notwithstanding these events, the successful operations of our military intelligence remain unknown to the general public. Budanov has stated that he believes August will be a turning point in Russia’s full-scale war of attrition against Ukraine.

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