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Russian official accuses CIA, MI6 of involvement in Crimean bridge drone attack

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 24, 2023 3:38 PM 2 min read
Maxar satellite imagery showing a closeup view of Kerch Strait and the new damage to the Crimea Bridge which connects occupied Crimea to Russia on July 17, 2023. (Satellite image by Maxar Technologies)
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A Russian official in occupied Crimea claimed that the CIA, MI6, and Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) collaborated to attack the Crimean bridge with naval drones, Russian state-run media Ria Novosti said on Oct. 24.

Vladimir Konstantinov, a Russian proxy official in Crimea, alleged that the July 2023 strike directly involved the U.K. and U.S. intelligence agencies, claiming that Ukraine could not have carried out the attack on its own. The SBU took credit for the attack in August, saying that 'Sea Baby' experimental marine drones had been used to damage the bridge.

Konstantinov cited the Oct. 23 article by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which detailed the SBU's high-profile assassinations of Russian targets, as evidence.

The WSJ article said that the attack on the Crimean bridge used "naval drones that were developed as part of a top secret operation involving the CIA and other Western intelligence services."

However, Konstantinov neglected to reference the earlier part of the paragraph, which says that U.S. officials were notified in advance of the attack, and raised concerns that it could cause an escalation. It does not say that either the CIA or MI6 were directly involved in either planning or carrying out the drone strike.

U.S. sources consulted for the WSJ article said that U.S. intelligence also had no involvement in the assassinations carried out by Ukrainian agencies and that their cooperation focused mainly on developing skills in gathering intelligence.

"We never involved our international partners in covert operations, especially behind the front lines," a former senior Ukrainian security official reportedly said.

Konstantinov disputed these aspects of the article, saying that it was just trying to hide that Ukraine only follows the orders of its Western allies.

The SBU declined to comment on the WSJ article, saying it "would be possible to discuss details regarding its special operations only after Ukraine's victory over Russia."

Washington Post: Ukraine conducts ‘high-value’ assassinations inside Russia
The Washington Post reported on Oct. 23, citing undisclosed official sources, that Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) was allegedly behind dozens of assassinations against Russian targets since February 2022.

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