Confident Russian Spies Had Lined Up Housing in Kyiv

'Washington Post' details the failures of the FSB in the lead-up to invasion of Ukraine
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2022 8:35 AM CDT
Confident Russian Spies Had Lined Up Housing in Kyiv
Women wrapped in Ukrainian flags smile in Kyiv, Ukraine, in this June 10 photo. Kyiv has been battered, but Russia's spy agency utterly misjudged the nation's ability to repel an invasion.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

(Newser) – The Washington Post is out with a series of in-depth stories about the war in Ukraine, and the main one focuses on just how badly Russia's spy agency—the FSB—misread the lead-up to the war. Maybe the most tangible sign of this in the story by Greg Miller and Catherine Belton is that FSB officers spent the days ahead of the invasion figuring out housing accommodations in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. For example, communications intercepted by Ukraine and obtained by the Post show that FSB officers instructed their informants in the capital to leave the city ahead of the initial, sure-to-be-easy stage of the invasion but to leave behind the keys to their residences for Russian operatives who would be pouring in to start running things.

The intercepted communications also show that FSB officials were asking about safe houses and other places they might use for the incoming Russians. "Have a successful trip!" one FSB officer wrote to a colleague who was being dispatched to Kyiv. Russia, of course, never captured the capital, and that FSB operative appears not to have made it to Kyiv. The story details how the FSB, aka the Department of Operational Information, woefully underestimated Ukraine's ability to withstand the invasion. In fact, the FSB had two governments-in-waiting poised to take over the country, including one that would be led by former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia in 2014. (Read the full story, which notes that Vladimir Putin has not cleaned house in the agency despite the epic failure.)

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