Ex-military intelligence chief complains of threats, bribe of job offer in return for silence about Wagner mercenaries

16 December 2021, 09:34 PM

The former head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry, Vasyl Burba, has alleged he was offered a post of ambassador in return for publicly denying Ukrainian intelligence carried out a sting operation to capture mercenaries from Russian private military group Wagner.

In an interview with the Current Time TV channel, Burba said a top official from the Ukrainian special services offered him the ambassador job in early 2021.

After Burba refused, he was threatened with a ban on leaving Ukraine, the withdrawal of his security guards, and the launching of criminal cases against him, he says.

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He said the sting operation had failed because of a delay, and a probable tip-off call being made from Ukraine to Belarus.

Burba added he had not been allowed to sign a statement with his testimony to the parliamentary adhoc inquest committee into the affair for over two months.

"When I spoke to them, there were people who took down my testimony, and I’m supposed to sign this statement... I personally appealed to the head of the adhoc inquest committee, but they haven't give me the opportunity to sign the statement,” Burba said.

“If I don’t sign it, my testimony (officially) doesn’t exist. Or it might be that it exists, but I'm not allowed to sign it because they’re engaged in official falsification.”

Burba said that in July he received an order from Head of the President's Office Andriy Yermak, acting on behalf of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to postpone the final stage of the operation to detain mercenaries from the Russian private military group Wagner–some of whom had fought against Ukraine in the Donbas.  The sting operation failed because of this delay, Burba said on Nov. 19.

The former intelligence official said he believes there is a "mole" in the government working for Russia.

The alleged disruption of the sting operation by order of the President's Office was also mentioned in an investigation released on Nov. 18 by investigative group Bellingcat and the Insider, a Russian-founded investigative journalism website based in Riga, Latvia.

The investigative journalists also mentioned in their report Burba’s claim that Yermak had proposed to postpone the sting operation for a week, after which it failed.

According to Burba, the President's Office believed if the sting operation had gone according to plan, the Donbas ceasefire agreement concluded in the summer of 2020 would be broken before it had even come into effect.

The President's Office has not commented on these claims, and Bellingcat and the Insider said they were unable to verify them.

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