Ukraine claimed to have dismantled an all-female spy network operating in the Donetsk region, which allegedly had been leaking information to Russia’s intelligence services and Wagner Group mercenaries.
“The group consisted exclusively of local women who supported Russia’s armed aggression against Ukraine,” the Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, said in a statement Tuesday.
The SBU said that its Counterintelligence unit has arrested three women, all living in the city of Pokrovsk, as they were “conducting reconnaissance.”
Ukrainian investigators also allegedly identified a senior member of the spy ring, who at the beginning of the war relocated to Russia to coordinate her “team” remotely.
According to the SBU, all four intelligence assets had been recruited by the Russians before the war “and until recently were on standby.”
The female agents allegedly worked simultaneously for Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, and Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary group.
“On the occupiers’ instructions, their accomplices collected intelligence on numbers and deployment of Ukrainian military equipment in the region,” Ukrainian security officials said.
The accused traitors’ chief mission was to identify Ukrainian fighter jets’ and attack helicopters’ flight paths — and pass that information on to their handlers in Moscow.
They were also reportedly interested in the movements of Ukrainian heavy armored vehicles to the frontline.
“To gather intelligence, the spies walked in the area and covertly took photographs of Ukrainian facilities and targets,” the SBU said.
The sensitive information was then transmitted to the enemy via secured private chats in a popular messaging app, which the SBU did not name.
When security service operatives searched the accused spies’ homes following the network’s bust, they seized cellphones “used for reconnaissance and sabotage activities against Ukraine,” according to the SBU.
All four women, including the alleged spymaster currently hiding out in Russia, are now facing charges of high treason, conspiracy and dissemination of information on transfer, movement or location of Ukraine’s forces, which are punishable by life in prison.
The trio of suspected Russian moles who were collared in Pokrovsk have been ordered held in jail.
Separately, the SBU announced Tuesday that it has foiled an attempt by a sophisticated Russian hacking team, dubbed Sandworm, to breach the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ combat information system.
“As a result of complex measures, SBU exposed and blocked the illegal actions of Russian hackers who tried to penetrate Ukrainian military networks and organize intelligence gathering,” SBU wrote on Telegram.
The service said the hackers tried to gain access to “sensitive information on the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the location and movement of the Defense Forces, their technical support.”
Cyber specialists learned that the hackers planned to use Ukrainian military tablets to spread viruses in the battle system, SBU said.
These latest developments come a day after Ukrainian special services claimed to have uncovered a failed plot to assassinate President Volodymyr Zelensky with an airstrike during his recent visit to Mykolaiv.
The local SBU office has arrested a woman — dubbed a “traitor” — who was allegedly gathering and leaking information related to the military to the Russians.