Ukraine Makes Unsettling Find: Military Chief Bugged

Ukraine Makes Unsettling Find: Military Chief Bugged

( – Ukraine’s military, which is settling in for a hard winter after its counter-offensive against the invading Russians fizzled out, has just made a shocking discovery. Security officers have found a bug in the office of its top military commander — and Russia is suspected of having planted it. It’s also possible more bugs have been found, suggesting a major Russian intelligence operation.

On December 18, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the Commander in Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, told journalists that Security Service officers carrying out a routine sweep of his offices had discovered a hidden listening device. Zaluzhnyi said he uses several offices, but didn’t indicate what exactly he uses the bugged one for. Whatever he does in there, though, it’s a safe bet he’d prefer not to have Russian spies listening to it.

Zaluzhnyi went on to say that bugs were “not only” found in that office, suggesting that more had been discovered in other places, although he didn’t give any details. Of course, any Ukrainian military or political office is an obvious target for Russian intelligence agencies, mainly the GRU military intelligence service and the SVR, the successor to the foreign intelligence directorate of the Soviet-era KGB.

Russian spies have played an active role in the almost two-year-old war, including at least 10 assassination attempts on the chief of Ukrainian military intelligence. In retaliation, Ukraine’s own intelligence services have carried out sabotage inside Russia.

Russian spies have a long history of sneaking microphones into people’s offices. In the most notorious case in 1945, a Soviet youth organization gave then-US Ambassador W. Averell Harriman a carved wooden plaque of the Great Seal of the United States. Harriman, in a gesture of stunning naivete, hung the plaque in his office in the Moscow embassy.

Six years later, a radio operator monitoring Soviet radio traffic from a listening station in the British embassy heard American conversations being transmitted on a Soviet military channel. The British informed the US Embassy, and a search finally discovered an ingenious bug hidden inside the Great Seal. For six years, it had been broadcasting everything said in the ambassador’s office to Soviet listeners. Ukraine hasn’t said how long the bug in Zaluzhnyi’s office had been there, but it could have been a while.

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