A recent article in The Economist has highlighted a troubling trend in Ukraine: the rise of an assassination program run by the Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) Fifth Directorate and Special Operations Forces (SSO). The program, which targets individuals in both Ukraine and Russia, has raised concerns among some SBU agents that it has spiraled out of control.
The article quotes unnamed SBU agents who express concern that the program is being driven by impulse rather than logic, and that it is targeting "marginal figures" in order to impress the president rather than achieve victory. The agents also warn that the program is risking the exposure of Ukrainian sources and infiltration into Russia.
The Economist article compares Ukraine's assassination program to the CIA's Phoenix Program, which was used during the Vietnam War to eliminate civilian officials supporting the National Liberation Front (NLF). The Phoenix Program was widely criticized for being out of control and for its misuse of intelligence.
The article also notes that the SBU has received advice from the CIA since 2014, and that a Ukrainian hit list on the Myrotvorets website has been linked to Langley, Virginia, where the CIA is headquartered. The Myrotvorets site was launched after the 2014 Maidan coup, and it has targeted individuals who opposed the coup or supported close relations with Russia.
In eastern Ukraine, the SBU has assassinated key figures in the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, whose autonomy was recognized under the Minsk peace accords. These assassinations have been carried out by SBU death squads.
The Ukrainian General Kyrylo Budanov has likened Ukraine's practices to Mossad, reflecting the ruthless reputation of both agencies. However, the article notes that Ukraine and Israel have been criticized for engaging in illegal practices, often justified by the military support they receive from the United States.
The article also reports that the Ukrainian spring-summer counteroffensive has failed, leading to demoralization in Ukraine's army. This news comes after Seymour Hersh reported that the United States has been engaged in a covert disinformation campaign against Vladimir Putin, led by the CIA and British intelligence. The campaign is reportedly intended to demonize Putin and build support for U.S. involvement in Ukraine.
However, the article concludes by noting that the misleading information of the black propaganda campaign and the flawed U.S. policy in Ukraine are becoming apparent, leading to growing awareness of Ukraine's situation.