Ukrainian intelligence apprehended a suspected agent working for Russian special services to identify and help target energy infrastructure, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said Friday.
The alleged agent was tracking down the location of electrical substations and other energy facilities in the Odesa region to help Russia prepare attacks. He also allegedly monitored the location of Ukraine’s defense forces, fortification equipment, and weapons, the SBU said.
“The intelligence information was needed by the Russian invaders to prepare a series of targeted missile strikes on Ukrainian objects,” the SBU said Friday.
Ukrainian intelligence officers detained the suspect while he was “trying to transfer confidential data to the aggressor,” the SBU said.
The news comes as the SBU unveils a flurry of counterintelligence operations against Russian spies going after energy and defense information in Ukraine.
Ukrainian intelligence also announced Friday it busted a network of suspected Russian spies that allegedly helped the Kremlin plot strikes against the city of Dnipro, where attacks last week hit a residential apartment, killing more than 40 people, according to authorities.
“Every gunner or adjuster should realize that his actions will not go unpunished. The security service and the entire Ukrainian people will not forgive such crimes,” the head of the SBU, Vasyl Malyuk, said. “Agents of the Russian Federation will have to fully answer for what they have done.”
The network of Russian spies had shared with the Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (GRU) the coordinates of critical infrastructure facilities, including energy infrastructure, according to the SBU. The network also allegedly gathered intelligence on the locations of Ukrainian air defense systems.
The network allegedly helped Russia assess its missile strikes by visiting strike zones, then helping Russia re-adjust their next attacks.
The SBU detained seven suspected agents in this Dnipro operation, Malyuk said, adding that it is still being assessed if they had helped to coordinate the deadly residential attack.
The suspected Russian spies’ focus on energy infrastructure comes after months of strikes against critical infrastructure in Ukraine. Russian forces have been hitting civilian infrastructure throughout the war. But the Russian military has increased its focus on critical infrastructure since October, following a series of attacks and explosions in Crimea, the peninsula Russia illegally annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The constant wave of attacks has led Ukrainian authorities to warn of massive power deficits, telling citizens they may need to evacuate due to a lack of energy supply in recent months. Half of Ukraine’s energy industry has been damaged, with 10 percent totally destroyed, the executive director of DTEK, Dmytro Sakharuk, announced Friday, according to Interfax. The loss of power is on average 50 percent, Sakharuk said.
Ukraine has been working to secure generators for blackouts and emergency outages, as well as support from other countries. The prime minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, confirmed this week that Ukraine has plans to buy power equipment worth approximately 100 million euros using the Ukraine Energy Support Fund.
But many hurdles to energy supply remain. Ukraine’s energy minister warned Friday that the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which has been unable to produce power is deteriorating.
“The situation is indeed deteriorating. It is getting worse not only because of the mental state of the remaining Ukrainian specialists but also due to the condition of the equipment,” Energy Minister German Galushchenko said on Ukrainian television.