Moscow’s inability to pay salaries on time to its naval servicemen played a key role in last week’s devastating missile strike on the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, according to Ukrainian partisans who helped plan the attack.
Speaking exclusively to Kyiv Post, the partisan movement of Ukrainians and Tatars in Crimea (ATESH) said it obtained key information about the location and activities of high-ranking Russian commanders from cash-strapped officers in exchange for financial rewards.
“Delays in payments alone do not force the military armed forces of the Russian Federation to go against the Russian authorities,” a spokesperson for the group said, adding that those who help them also believe their country is “waging a criminal war and that it needs to stop.”
“But the financial reward only helps them to decide on cooperation with the ATESH movement, it serves as an additional incentive,” the spokesman said.
ATESH did not say how much money changed hands but did say it was enough to cover the risks for the officers and their families.
ATESH also did not provide details of which Russian officers assisted them but did say they have access to the “general activities of the [Black Sea Fleet] command.”
Last week’s Ukrainian missile strike was a devastating blow for Russia, both symbolically and – if confirmed – in terms of losses, physically.
Over the weekend, Kyrylo Budanov, chief of Defense Intelligence of Ukraine (HUR), said nine people had been killed in the attack and many others severely injured, including Aleksandr Romanchuk the commander of the Russian forces on the Zaporizhzhia front and Lieutenant General Oleg Tsekov, the commander of the 200th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade of the Coastal Forces of the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy.
The ATESH spokesperson told Kyiv Post the information gathered by its informants is quickly transferred to various state structures, such as the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) or HUR.
"We are liaising with various representatives of the specialist agencies, and all are equally getting the information they need that we are able to provide them.”
Andriy Yusov, a representative of HUR, last week confirmed to Kyiv Post that it was working with partisans and that they have played a crucial role in the ongoing Ukrainian strikes on Russian targets in occupied Crimea.
He described the current mood on the peninsula as “explosive.”
ATESH has previously detailed how its partisans recruited a Russian serviceman who helped plan the Ukrainian strikes earlier this month that rocked the Sevastopol Shipyard in Russian Crimea, severely damaging the “Rostov-on-Don” submarine and the “Minsk” Large Landing Ship.
Yet despite the successes, the situation for partisans in the occupied territories remains highly risky.
“The Russian military is well aware of the existence of the partisan movement and throw all their forces and means to suppress it and identify our agents,” the ATESH spokesperson said, adding: “The growing resistance among the Crimeans confuses them very much.”
But ATESH remains confident in its ability to carry out subversive acts against Russian occupation forces.
“We have ears and eyes both inside and outside, so we are the first to hear and see what is happening there,” the ATESH spokesperson said.
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