President Volodymyr Zelensky’s decision yesterday to remove both the Chief of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Prosecutor General is thought to indicate that a larger shake-up is brewing for the Administration of Ukraine’s wartime president.
Earlier this month, Zelensky fired seven Ukrainian Ambassadors located across Europe.
Continuing the axing, during his evening address on Sunday, Zelensky stated that 60 more junior government officials had been dismissed and highlighted that many of them had engaged in collaboration with Russia or other forms of treason.
During his address on Monday, Zelensky indicated that he was considering firing an additional 28 officials at the State Security Service (SBU) pending an investigation into their behavior.
Politico had earlier reported that Zelensky had been planning to dismiss the intelligence boss given multiple, inexplicable and unaccounted for actions, of some of the SBU’s most senior officers during the outbreak of the invasion in February. Among the cases highlighted were Generals who fled and ordered subordinates to flee during the launch of the invasion, SBU officials who had directly collaborated with Russian invaders, and cases of corruption.
The SBU, a behemoth organization of over 30,000 employees is one of the largest intelligence services in the world and is the successor to the Soviet KGB.
Allaying fears that this most recent shake-up would potentially damage current intelligence sharing between the U.S. and Ukraine, State Department Spokesman Ned Pierce said on Monday afternoon that though Washington was aware that some of the people at the SBU were being changed, it would not bare on U.S.-Ukrainian relations as, “in all of our relationships and including in this relationship, we invest not in personalities; we invest in institutions.”
Pierce was coy as to how Washington felt about the shake up, and simply said that “President Zelensky has explained his rationale for making these personnel shifts. We’d, of course, refer you to him and to his office for more on that.”
Speaking to the specifics as to whether DC would perhaps change its policies of what intelligence it shares with Ukraine, Piece related that most information that is shared for the prosecution of war crimes, is in fact largely open source information and so there was little risk assessed in what could go wrong if Washington shared this information with Ukraine.
At the same time, the spokesman highlighted that there are other, more sensitive points of intelligence exchanged between the two countries, and “we continue to proceed ahead with that.”
Pierce concluded his comments on U.S.-Ukrainian intelligence sharing by affirming that “it’s an important element of the assistance that we are providing to our Ukrainian partners in an effort to help them defend themselves.”
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