Atesh (“Fire”) partisan spokespersons told Kyiv Post its local pro-Ukrainian agents gathered critical intelligence information at a military airbase in Yeysk, in Russia’s Krasnodar region, which is routinely used for attacks on Ukraine.
“Our agents carried out a complex [series] of actions in Yeysk, beginning with reconnaissance of the airfield,” read a Feb. 12 message from Atesh via Telegram.
Atesh told Kyiv Post: “The intelligence was conducted by a group of individuals, all of whom were Russian.”
“We obtained precise details regarding the number of aircraft and the locations of warehouses containing missile weapons,” Atesh said.
The source could not specify to Kyiv Post the exact number or type of aircraft stationed at the Russian airfield but said: “All information gathered was promptly relayed to the Defense Forces of Ukraine (AFU).”
Additionally, the Atesh agents distributed leaflets within the city bearing the inscription “ATESH is watching” – a message directed at pilots operating these aircraft.
Atesh has been broadening its scope of activities and urging pilots to collaborate with Ukraine using the message: “Together, we can bring an end to this war.”
In late February 2023, reports emerged of explosions heard at this airfield, followed by a subsequent fire. District administration claimed these were part of “military-tactical exercises.”
However, Planet Labs satellites later captured evidence of fire damage at the air defense training ground, situated west of the Yeysk airfield.
In late December 2022, residents of Yeysk reported a loud explosion. Local officials on Telegram attributed this to “rumbling sounds heard several times in the city,” citing “planned destruction of ammunition at the military training ground” as the cause.
Neither Kyiv officials nor any partisan groups have claimed responsibility for these possible attacks on the Yeysk airbase.
On Feb. 2, Atesh operatives also reported conducting a comprehensive reconnaissance of the strategically important Saky airfield in Crimea, accurately determining the number of aircraft stationed there and providing Kyiv with the intelligence.
The Saky airfield serves as the primary launch site for Russian fighter aircraft engaged in attacks on Ukraine.
The partisans told Kyiv Post that during such reconnaissance missions, their agents document the condition and changes in equipment, including air defense systems, to provide details not discernable from satellite images.
During the Saky mission, Ukrainian agents in Russian-occupied Crimea recorded approximately 10 Su-30 (NATO: “Flanker”) fighters and established the locations of air defense equipment and Kasta-2E2 (NATO: “Flat Face”) surveillance radars.
Kyiv Post’s source emphasized the high level of risk for its agents during such espionage operations.
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