The head of Ukraine’s military intelligence service has said in an interview that Kyiv has assassinated Russian propagandists.
Major General Kyrylo Budanov made the admission to the Ukrainian YouTube channel Rizni Lyudi. According to a translation by the independent Russian-language outlet Meduza, Budanov said that Ukraine had “successfully targeted quite a few people” associated with Kremlin propaganda since the start of the war nearly 15 months ago.
Budanov did not provide any names of individuals that Ukraine has allegedly targeted, but several well-known, pro-Kremlin figures have been killed or wounded inside Russia since the start of the war.
Major- General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief. Budanov said in an interview that Ukraine has assassinated Russian propagandists.
Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images
Among the more high-profile incidents was last August’s car-bomb killing of Darya Dugina, the journalist daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, an ideologue known as “Putin’s philosopher.”
More recently, the prominent military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky was killed by an explosion at a Saint Petersburg café in April, and earlier this month pro-Kremlin writer Zakhar Prilepin was injured in car-bomb attack.
Ukraine had previously denied involvement in the deaths of Dugin and Tatarsky, while Kyiv’s security services neither confirmed nor denied having a role in the Prilepin incident.
Though he didn’t give more details about Ukraine’s involvement in any Russian propagandists’ deaths, Budanov told Rizni Lyudi that “[t]here have been well-publicized cases everyone knows about, thanks to the media coverage.”
On Tuesday, Budanov also spoke to the Ukrainian YouTube channel ISLND TV. During the interview, he hinted at targeting individuals in countries outside of Ukraine, according to a translation by the Kyiv Post.
“Outright scum will eventually be punished in any country in the world. Only elimination can be a well-deserved punishment for such actions,” Budanov said, per the Kyiv Post.
He continued, “I do not consider anything else. It is my personal opinion, I stick to it, and I will implement it.”
Elsewhere in his talk with Rizni Lyudi, Budanov said that the “Russian army’s potential for advancing is completely depleted, but it still has a significant defensive potential.”
“They’ve erected a multi-tier defense system,” he said. “Still, this isn’t the same Russian army that could have been expected to conduct substantial offensive operations.”
Budanov also offered some praise for the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries and its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, at least in comparison to the Russian Defense Ministry’s formal military forces.
“Wagner Group is maximally effective; the Defense Ministry’s regular army is maximally ineffective,” Budanov reportedly said. “Out of sheer envy, the Russian command is trying to undermine and eliminate Wagner Group…The terrible thing is that 80 percent of what Prigozhin says is absolutely true.”
When asked about Budanov’s comments, Jason Jay Smart—a political adviser on post-Soviet and international politics—described the role propagandists can play during times of war.
“The Nuremberg Trials found Julius Streicher, a propagandist, guilty for having driven the German population to wage war,” Smart told Newsweek. “Russian propagandists today play a critical role in advancing the Kremlin’s narrative across the nation. Removing these vocal supporters of genocide would be a positive for both Ukraine and, ultimately, Russia.”