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Ukraine’s intelligence service said it has detained a woman who was allegedly gathering information on President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s travel details to help Russian forces carry out an assassination attempt.
In a separate case on Tuesday, the intelligence service (SBU) said it had arrested a group of women in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region for allegedly working for both Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Wagner paramilitary group.
The SBU regularly detains citizens suspected of working on behalf of Russia but the alleged assassination plot stands out for its high-profile target. If found guilty, the woman could face up to 12 years in prison.
The woman, who has not been named, attempted to gather the locations Zelenskyy was visiting during a trip to the southern city of Mykolayiv in June, SBU spokesperson Artem Dekhtiarenko said on Tuesday. The woman planned to send coordinates to her Russian supervisor so that Russian forces could carry out a targeted strike on Zelenskyy’s location.
In a written exchange published by the SBU between the accused and an acquaintance who appears to work at a hospital, the woman allegedly wrote: “It would be best to get a photo . . . and a photo of a hospital would not raise suspicions.” It is not clear if this is the same hospital that Zelenskyy visited during his Mykolayiv trip.
Pages of a notebook allegedly owned by the accused appear to show that she kept a record of the whereabouts and transit of Ukrainian military equipment near Ochakiv, the location of a well-known, major Ukrainian base.
The all-female spy ring, consisting of four women, travelled around the Donetsk region taking photos of Ukrainian military bases and equipment. They would then send the images to an FSB agent and a person inside Wagner. Three of the women were arrested but their leader managed to escape to Russia, according to the SBU’s statement.
Motivated by varying degrees of money, circumstances and ideology, collaboration and spying have been a problem for Ukraine throughout the war.
Under occupied areas, some local politicians, civil servants and police officers happily switched sides, and neighbours informed on other neighbours they did not like. The SBU has published long lists of Ukrainian citizens on its website who stand accused of collaborating with the occupying regime.
But even in areas of Ukraine that were never occupied, there are some people who see the war through Russia’s lens. Since August 1, the SBU has detained at least nine people for spying in three different regions, according to its website. They include a train conductor who allegedly helped correct Russian artillery fire, a blogger who helped the FSB carry out more effective rocket attacks and two unemployed women who cycled around Kharkiv city centre noting the locations of Ukrainian troops.
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