Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine's Intelligence Directorate, confirmed in an interview with the RFE/RL Ukrainian bureau that a member of the Ukrainian negotiating delegation Denys Kirieiev was killed in a Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) car in the early stages of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
According to media reports, Kirieiev was shot dead by the SBU officers in March as they were trying to detain him. The SBU had “strong evidence” he was leaking information to Russia.
“It's a fact that he was killed in that car by the operatives," Budanov said.
The intelligence chief believes Kirieiev, who served as an intelligence officer, "wasn’t a traitor."
Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the President's Office, told Delfi news outlet that Kirieiev's murder occurred due to poor coordination between Ukrainian secret services at the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Podolyak also added Kirieiev was not a Russian agent.
On Jan. 18, Budanov told the Wall Street Journal that Kirieiev had passed on information from his Russian connections that helped Ukrainian forces successfully defend Kyiv last February.
“If it were not for Kirieiev, most likely Kyiv would have been taken,” he said.
Despite the SBU claims Kirieiev "was a Russian agent," he was buried as a hero and interred in Kyiv next to Ukraine’s first foreign minister.