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On Nov. 19, Vasyl Burba, ex-head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, said that Chief of Staff Andriy Yermak told him he was acting on presidential orders when he delayed an operation to capture 33 Kremlin-backed Wagner group mercenaries. Burba made the statement soon after the Bellingcat investigative project reported that Yermak had delayed the operation.
Yermak’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak earlier denied the allegations in the Bellingcat report in a comment to Ukrainska Pravda, saying that the president's chief of staff has no authority over military intelligence. Before, both Yermak and Zelensky denied that the Ukrainian intelligence operation ever took place.
The initial intelligence operation was meant to lure the mercenaries to Belarus with a fake job offer, then intercept their plane on the way from Minsk to Istanbul on July 25, 2020. After the operation was delayed, Belarusian authorities arrested the mercenaries on July 29, 2020 and later deported them back to Russia.