In a major development in the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Monday that it has indicted Oleh Kulinich, the former chief of the Crimean branch of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), for high treason.
According to the prosecutors, Kulinich was secretly working for the Russian intelligence services since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
He is accused of recruiting and managing a network of agents who infiltrated the Ukrainian security and military structures, as well as civil society organizations, in order to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Kulinich was arrested in July 2020 during a special operation by the SBU, after he allegedly tried to flee to Russia with classified information. He is currently in pre-trial detention and faces up to 15 years in prison if found guilty.
The indictment is based on the evidence collected by the SBU and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU), as well as testimonies from witnesses and former associates of Kulinich. The prosecutors claim that Kulinich was acting on direct orders from Moscow and received financial rewards for his activities.
They also allege that he was involved in several sabotage and subversion plots against Ukraine, including the attempted assassination of a prominent Crimean activist in 2016 and the disruption of the Ukrainian presidential election in 2019.
The case of Kulinich is one of the most high-profile examples of Russia’s hybrid warfare against Ukraine, which involves not only military aggression, but also political, economic, informational and cyber attacks.
The Ukrainian authorities have vowed to bring all those who collaborated with the Russian occupiers to justice, and to restore Ukraine’s control over Crimea and the Donbas region, where a pro-Russian separatist insurgency has been raging since 2014.
The international community has also condemned Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its support for the rebels, and imposed sanctions on Moscow and its allies.
However, despite the diplomatic pressure and the ongoing peace talks, the conflict remains unresolved and poses a serious threat to the security and stability of Europe.