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Russian defector involved in Russia's Baltic Fleet vessel sabotage, military intelligence says

by Martin Fornusek and Kateryna Denisova July 3, 2024 12:51 PM 3 min read
The Russian missile ship Serpukhov in St. Petersburg, Russia, on July 21, 2019. (Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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A sabotage of a Russian vessel in Kaliningrad Oblast in April was part of a joint operation of the Freedom of Russia Legion and Ukraine's military intelligence project "I Want to Live," the agency revealed at a press conference on July 3 attended by a Kyiv Independent reporter.

The Russian missile ship Serpukhov was set on fire on April 8 while docked off the Kaliningrad exclave. The sabotage completely destroyed its communication and automation systems, necessitating lengthy repairs, military intelligence said.

"Certain Russian citizens carried out this brave and risky operation, which caused serious damage to the Russian fleet and revealed the current state of the Russian army," military intelligence said.

A then-active service member of the Russian Baltic Fleet provided information crucial for carrying out the Rybalka ("Fishing") operation, according to the statement.

Once the person's continued stay on the vessel became too risky, the sabotage was carried out. The Russian service member also seized confidential materials and was subsequently evacuated from Russia through the "I Want to Live" project.

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WTF is wrong with Russia?

According to the website of the Russian Navy, the Serpukhov is a Buyan-M missile corvette, is 74 meters long (242 feet), and contains a variety of different weapons systems.

While Ukrainian attacks have reportedly disabled roughly one-third of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, this was the first attack targeting a ship of the Baltic Fleet, whose bases lie hundreds of kilometers from Ukraine.

The defector, introduced under the code name "Goga," was present at the press conference. He said he had joined the Freedom of Russia Legion as a recruit and is undergoing training.

"Now I am in Ukraine. I will train and start fighting against (Vladimir) Putin's regime with weapons in my hands," "Goga" said.

The defector, introduced by the military intelligence agency under the code name "Goga," is now on Ukrainian territory as a recruit of the Freedom of Russia Legion and undergoing training, the agency said.

The Legion is one of the several anti-Kremlin Russian militias who fight on Ukraine's side and have carried out several cross-border raids into Russian territory.

Ukraine's military intelligence launched the "I Want to Live" project in 2022 to help Russian soldiers desert or defect to the Ukrainian side.

One of the most high-profile defections took place in August 2023, when a Russian pilot named Maksim Kuzminov surrendered along with his Mi-8 helicopter. Kuzminov was found dead in Spain in February 2024, with the circumstances of his death resembling previous Moscow-contracted killings.

Opinion: What’s left of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet?
Russia’s war against Ukraine is shattering the conventions of warfare in many ways. One of the most illustrative examples is the systematic destruction of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet (BSF) by Ukraine, a country that has virtually no navy of its own. The Ukrainian military’s use of coastal

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