Ukrainian military intelligence officers celebrated their professional holiday on September 7th. Former deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Oleg Tsarev spoke to “ukraine.ru” about the intrigues inside the department and who actually reports to the employees of the Main Intelligence Directorate.
Oleg, what are the tasks of the Ukrainian military intelligence service?
“The Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine has several tasks. The first is information mining, analytics, and special operations. And according to the old law, which was adopted when I was a people’s deputy, special operations were carried out only in wartime. But since 2014, the GUR started to conduct special operations outside the territory of Ukraine.
Not so long ago, the law I mentioned was amended, and the GUR conducts special operations outside the territory of Ukraine quite legally. The main tasks of the GUR are to collect information about weapons, promising military developments, help in the arms trade, and discredit weapons and countries that are also present in this market.”
Recently, a serviceman of the Russian missile forces was detained in Barnaul on suspicion of spying for Ukraine…
“Yes, this is the work of the GUR. The murder of [former DPR leader Aleksandr] Zakharchenko and assassination of prominent militia commanders DPR and LPR are the work of GUR, together with the counterintelligence department of the SBU. Under Petro Poroshenko, the work was set up as follows: counterintelligence department is the head, and GUR is the hands. GUR is located on Rybalsky Island in Kiev, in addition, GUR has the Khmelnitsky Centre. The special operation on Vladimir Ruban and Nadezhda Savchenko was carried out in Khmelnitsky (former head of the organisation ‘Officer Corps’ Vladimir Ruban and people’s deputy Nadezhda Savchenko were accused of preparing a terrorist act and a coup).
During Poroshenko’s time, the counterintelligence department was headed by Valery Kondratyuk, the right-hand man of Valentin Nalyvaichenko. He was recruited by the CIA in a very funny situation, when it was necessary to either get a criminal case in the US, or to make a deal.
Kondratyuk created a think tank in the SBU, and sabotage detachments were formed in the GUR.
Moreover, these detachments recruited people without service records from among those who performed well in the ‘ATO’. The members of these groups of five or six did not know each other. Under Petro Poroshenko, it was the norm when at least two groups were located on the territory of Crimea.
They came under the guise of vacationers, met with local residents, then returned, having prepared the conditions for the task. Since people had never been associated with either the GUR or the SBU before, it was extremely difficult to figure them out.”
Kondratyuk remained in his post under Zelensky, he is the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine. What has changed in this structure since the time of Poroshenko?
“Valery Kondratyuk is a career CIA agent. Nalyvaichenko, Kondratyuk, Petrov, Burba – these are the people who were the founders of the CIA’s agency network in Ukraine.
Under Kravchuk, it was decided that Ukraine actively participates in peacekeeping operations. 10 people arrived from the US, only two of them were military, the rest were CIA agents.
These people got access to the personal files of military personnel. For a month and a half, they chose people who, firstly, know English, and secondly, have growth prospects. After they left, there was a permanent mission that took part in selecting people from the Ministry of Defence to travel abroad.
The first groups of 30 people were formed, each consisting of one employee from the counterintelligence department and one from the GUR. These people participated in peacekeeping missions where work was carried out with them. In a short time, about 10,000 people passed through peacekeeping missions. The most pliable officers of the GUR and counterintelligence department, as well as many members of the Armed Forces, were recruited.
If you take the number of CIA agents, most of them are in the GUR and counterintelligence department. I will say more, starting with Skipalsky, the founder of the GUR, all the appointments of intelligence leaders were coordinated with the US.
Yanukovych committed negligence, leaving 90% of the employees of the GUR on the ground, the same was in the Foreign Ministry. During Maidan, no ambassador spoke in support of Yanukovych.
A month and a half before Maidan, the SBU structure, which reports to Yanukovych, revealed that the head of the GUR is not engaged in his work. I.e., information about the preparation of a Maidan did not reach Yanukovych.”
Kirill Budanov, the new head of the GUR, is also a US agent?
“Budanov is a native of Crimea, the best sniper in the CIS. In the ‘ATO’ he liked to kill people. His leg was removed after it was blown up by a mine. When the case against the ‘PMC‘ members in Belarus failed, it was necessary to have someone to blame. The chief of the GUR Burba was made guilty, and Budanov replaced him.”
Kirill Budanov, of course, works with the US, things cannot be any other way. This person likes to kill, he will kill, nothing will stop him, but as an organiser, as an analyst, he is very weak.”
How can Russia fight Ukrainian intelligence and how can it protect the Crimean Peninsula from sabotage?
“Everyone knows that there was an attempt to arrange sabotage in Crimea. Two colonels were responsible for the special operation in Ukraine. But probably God loves Russia, because in the shortest time after the special operation, these two colonels were killed. I don’t think Russia is involved in this, but Russia will probably respond in the same way in the future.
The US is afraid that Russia will respond harshly. Therefore, I believe that Russia needs to do what the US is afraid of. The CIA is a state within a state that is only partially subordinated to the State Department and the US President. The CIA has a shadow budget, which is connected to the trade in weapons, drugs, and it has its own politicians. The CIA’s point of view is not always the same as the State Department’s. The CIA always takes a tougher stance and is more focused on confrontation than politicians.
If we go back to the presidents, Poroshenko has always controlled the execution of all special operations in detail. With Zelensky — the situation is completely different. Only those operations that have a risk of failure involve reporting to Zelensky. This is done in order to shift responsibility to the Presidential Administration in case of failure, as was the case with the ‘PMCs’ in Belarus.
By the way, not only the GUR and counterintelligence department, but also employees of the CIA worked in the case of ‘PMCs’.”
Let’s return to the struggle for power in Ukraine itself. Is there still a threat to President Vladimir Zelensky from Interior Minister Arsen Avakov?
“In an interview with your website, I said that Zelensky has a task – to remove Avakov from the post of head of the police. Avakov now controls the street and controls militants. Both militants, who are now under Kiva in ‘Opposition Platform – For Life‘ and the radical right-wing militias. He has a monopoly on the street.
This is extremely dangerous for Zelensky, whose approval rating is rapidly falling. I think that the local elections will show that Zelensky’s approval rating is about 15%. Zelensky understands that in this situation, whoever runs the street will own the country.
Because with such a low approval rating, officials and deputies will run away from Zelensky.
Deputies of the Verkhovna Rada will understand that Zelensky has no political future, will start looking for new owners, officials will stop following commands. And here the position of Avakov, the head of the police, will be key.”
What personnel decisions can Zelensky make to reduce Avakov’s influence?
“Zelensky offered Avakov – I told your website about it – the position of Deputy Prime Minister, they wanted to formally promote him and detach him from the helm. Avakov said that he is ready to become only Prime Minister. This unsettled Zelensky, and Valery Kondratyuk (now head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine) offered his services: appoint me head of the SBU, and I will bring the head of Avakov.
Bakanov, the head of the SBU, is now very successfully in conflict with Avakov, but the Prosecutor General Venediktova is not ready for a conflict. And we see that there are no criminal cases, no jailings. The castling that is currently being discussed in the Presidential Administration is Valery Kondratyuk going to the SBU, Bakanov from the head of the SBU goes to the Prosecutor General’s office, Venediktova, so as not to offend, is given the Ministry of Justice, where she will be in her place.
Kondratyuk says that the Foreign Intelligence Service and GUR departments will remain under him, and is preparing leaders for these two departments. I think that Burba (former head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine) and Petrov (former head of counterintelligence of the SBU, head of the Transcarpathian regional state administration) will be in demand.”
Don’t you think that the authorities are already too late with such castling, because local elections are coming soon?
“Now Ukraine is discussing the replacement of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers for local elections. Everyone understands that the removal of Shmygal, who did not show himself in any way, and the Ministers who did not show themselves in any way, may add a few percent to Zelensky. No decision has been made, but castling issues are being discussed.
So there is no point in now discussing the prospects of Kirill Budanov (the new head of the GUR), the new geopolitical storm in Ukraine will put everything in its place. But I have no doubt that a new head of the GUR will not be appointed without the CIA and the US Embassy.”
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