Date: 24 April 2023 Author: Grzegorz Kuczyński

Ukraine’s SBU Seeks to Rebuild its Reputation

Ukraine is deepening a purge of double agents in its spy service, a Russian spy ring that has been formed in the country for the past thirty years, the chief of Ukraine’s SBU Vasyl Malyuk told journalists. Ukraine’s SBU Security Service has exposed over 300 traitors since Russia’s full-scale invasion began. With Malyuk appointed as its new chief, the SBU has finally made a domestic crackdown on spies. But will the cleanout allow the agency to rebuild its reputation after being hit so hard recently?


Vasyl Malyuk, who was appointed head of the SBU in February, made his first public statement since July 2022 when he was acting chief of the security agency. He said a total of 300 people were accused of spying for Russia, including nine SBU officers and 102 military officials. Last summer, Zelensky said more than 60 officials from the SBU security service and prosecutor’s office were working against Ukraine in Russian-occupied territories. Malyuk is seemingly making efforts to fix the SBU’s tarnished reputation while giving Ukraine’s military intelligence the needle by disclosing the number of traitors in the army ranks. Two other issues stand out in what Malyuk has said. First, he noted the SBU was now involved in smashing spy rings “Russia has been forming for the last thirty years.” He criticized the predecessors while justifying an adequate response the SBU made shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine. At the beginning of this month, the state investigations bureau of Ukraine, working with the SBU, concluded an investigation into Oleh Kulinich, former head of the Crimean department of the SBU. Law enforcers suspected Kulinich of working as an FSB mole, passing intelligence on the SBU and Ukraine. Top-level traitors laid the ground for last year’s Russian invasion by helping enemy forces seize most of the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in February and March 2022. In addition, Malyuk referred to suspected Russian spies in the Orthodox Church. “The enemy highly values its agents in cassocks,” Malyuk said in a statement. Ukraine has convicted seven more clerics involved in a pro-Moscow church. As a result of the measures taken by the SBU, criminal proceedings were initiated against 61 clergymen, the agency said. It is unusual for the SBU chief to deliver such remarks publicly. Malyuk is yet aware of the SBU’s poor reputation as the agency had not seen adequate reforms before the Russian invasion, which resulted in a considerable number of officers spying for Russia. Dismissing Ivan Bakanov and appointing Malyuk was a step to reverse the negative process while making the SBU a pillar of national security. But nothing will change within the SBU without thorough reforms, initially opposed by President Zelensky, a longtime friend of Bakanov.

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