Ukraine revoked the international passports of five former intelligence operatives who were involved in the botched July 2020 operation to capture Russian Wagner Group mercenaries, RFE/RL reported on Nov. 25.
According to a recent Bellingcat investigation, Ukrainian intelligence lured 33 mercenaries to Belarus and planned to intercept them en route from Minsk to Istanbul. However, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, reportedly delayed the operation, which caused it to fail. Yermak’s adviser Mykhailo Podoliak denied the allegations.
The five intelligence operatives, including Main Intelligence Directorate head Vasyl Burba, were fired a week later. One of the agents, Yurii Semeniuk, told RFE/RL that Ukrainian border guards seized and annulled his passport when he tried to go on vacation to Egypt in May 2021.
The Border Guard Service claimed to be acting on the Migration Service’s instructions, which the Migration Service denied issuing. Semeniuk told RFE/RL he believes the passport revocation could be pressure from Zelensky’s administration.
Zelensky’s presidential administration has been changing its narrative about the operation. Previously, Yermak and Zelensky denied that Ukraine’s intelligence was behind it.