Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has introduced Colonel Kyrylo Budanov, a distinguished special forces operator, as the country’s new military intelligence service chief.

The Ukrainian leader issued a decree to appoint Budanov to the post on Aug. 5 and later presented the new chief to his personnel on Aug. 10.

During the ceremony, Zelensky said that Colonel Budanov was the best candidate for the job due to his vast experience in special operations in Donbas and beyond.

“He is an officer who has gone through all levels of military intelligence,” Zelensky said. “He has a perfect understanding of the system from inside and has been a combatant since the war’s earliest days. Therefore, he is not a ‘chairborne theorizer’ but a true combat officer with great experience and authority.”


Budanov will now take charge of the Chief Intelligence Directorate, part of the Ministry of Defense and one of Ukraine’s principal intelligence community bodies, which is particularly involved in secret operations in the war zone of Donbas.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) hands a service certificate to newly appointed military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov on Aug. 11, 2020. (The Office of the President of Ukraine)

The president added that he expected the directorate’s new leadership to carry out more operations at the strategic and operative levels, and also to make data gathering and analytics more effective.

In his introductory speech, Budanov said he would lead the agency under the slogan “Honor above all.”

“This short phrase is much more meaningful than one would expect,” the officer said. “It has virtually everything in it. This is a formula for victory. This is the vector one should look to and the foundation upon which the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine’s activities will be based.”

There is not much publicly available information on Budanov.

Presumably born in 1986, he was awarded the Order of Courage for his operations in Crimea and Donbas.

On April 4, 2019, Budanov reportedly survived an attempted assassination in Kyiv when Alexey Lomako, a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, tried to plant a bomb underneath the officer’s car in Kyiv. The bomb exploded prematurely, ripping the alleged assassin’s hand off.


Lomako was then arrested by the Ukrainian authorities, who later declared him a Russian spy.

The attempted assassination was similar to the killings of several other high-ranking military intelligence officers, such as Colonel Maksym Shapoval, who was killed in a car bombing in Kyiv in June 2017.

In November 2018, Kremlin-controlled media accused Shapoval and Budanov of organizing sabotage attacks in Crimea as part of Ukrainian military intelligence operations against the Russian occupation authorities in the peninsula.

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