By Michael Walsh
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is headquartered in a formidable well-guarded building in Kiev. To passersby, the edifice appears to be just another dreary administrative office, but two of the building’s three floors are reportedly occupied by the CIA.
Could this be the reason why late last year a Russian missile left a deep crater in the park situated opposite the site? The SBU and CIA would understand the missiles fired by Russia’s armed forces rarely miss their target, so was it a warning shot?
If so, fireworks again might be expected following the assassination of the popular Russian military blogger Vladlen Tatarsky on April 2. The target’s 500,000 ardent followers may wonder why in the present climate the high-risk Tatarsky wasn’t better protected than a wannabe celebrity.
Furthermore, the time and place of his assassination, although an obvious target, was less protected and more open to customers than a downtown fast-food joint. This gives rise to the suspicion that the Russian blogger’s murky past, which included a long prison term for a failed bank robbery in Russia, was a set-up.
The alleged killer of Tatarsky, a Ukrainian woman named Darya Trepova, was easily identified by the Russian Secret Service (FSB). In fact, her arrest followed an easy investigation, and she was caught and cuffed within hours of the assassination. Was she a fall guy?
Suspicion for this latest high-profile assassination immediately fell on the SBU. All avenues of investigation led to their also being involved in the cold-blooded murder of Darya Dugina, daughter of a prominent pro-Russian intellectual, in August 2022. Whatever the outcome, a potential Russian response will give the SBU sleepless nights.
Trepova, the alleged assassin, was likely acting on behalf of her Ukrainian handlers. So far, as the investigation continues, she has been charged with terrorism and illegal possession of explosive materials, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee.
Trepova, who is known to have been “following the instructions of persons acting from the territory of Ukraine,” had presented Tatarsky with an explosive-filled bust of himself. The wrapped “gift” was presented at a lightly guarded St. Petersburg café allegedly owned by the head of the Wagner Group, which is playing a pivotal role in the special military operation in Ukraine. The small hand-held statue detonated shortly thereafter, butchering Tatarsky and injuring over 30 others.
The female suspect now stands accused of committing a terrorist act while operating as part of an organized group, as well as illegal trafficking of explosive materials. Under Russian law, Trepova faces up to 20 years in prison for these offenses if found guilty. The Investigative Committee has asked the court to place her in pre-trial detention.
According to Russian media reports, Trepova had kept in contact with her Ukrainian trainers for some time already. It is known that she had performed a series of errands for them for monetary reward. Apart from that, she was offered the opportunity to move to Kiev and was promised an editorial position at an unnamed media channel.
In her defense, Trepova has denied knowledge of the bust’s true nature, maintaining that she thought the figurine was merely a spying device and insisting she has been set up by her handlers. Admittedly, her defense is plausible considering her work in the murky world of secret agents.
There are claims by Western pundits that Tatarsky was a legitimate military target, but the fact is no one should be classified as a legitimate target of assassination. Traditional rules of war and international protocol outlaws targeted assassinations, however, that has not stopped the U.S. and her allies from engaging in the horrific practice.
The simple fact is that Ukraine, supported by the U.S., was responsible for the bombing of the Crimea bridge, and numerous attacks on government and administrative buildings as well as civilian centers in Donbas using NATO weaponry. The evidence indicates that Washington, with other state actors, was responsible for the sabotage of Nord Stream last fall.
Such then is the background to President Joe Biden’s inking an agreement to provide Ukraine with yet another $2.6 billion military aid package. Washington, which can’t even protect its own borders, continues to transfer military hardware to Kiev. The package will include, among other things, funds intended to combat Russian unmanned aerial vehicles.
According to the Washington Post, the package includes equipment from the stocks of the arsenals of the U.S. armed forces worth $500 million, as well as $2.1 billion intended for the purchase of weapons under a special program called the “Initiative to promote the security of Ukraine.” Delivery of these weapons is expected within a few months.
The head of the U.S. State Department, Antony Blinken, tongue in cheek surely, claims that the new aid package “will allow Ukraine to continue to bravely defend itself against Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified actions.”
Michael Walsh is a Liverpool-born Irish author and award-winning journalist. The son of a man who was an associate of Ernest Hemingway, contact Walsh at [email protected].