Christo Grozev of Bellingcat gained a front row seat to a bungled Ukrainian intelligence operation that left a friendly airfield destroyed and soldiers dead. His narrative about his role in the plot is filled with holes.
Criminal charges of treason and abuse of power have been leveled against an unspecified number of Ukrainian servicemen by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). In a bizarre plot to seize Russian aircraft and transfer the planes to Ukraine, the accused soldiers disclosed sensitive information that allowed Moscow to strike an important Ukrainian airfield with a Kalibr missile. A commander was killed, 17 airmen were wounded, two fighter jets destroyed, and “significant damage” was inflicted to the airstrip and several nearby buildings.
Will Ukrainian authorities now level criminal charges against members of Bellingcat, the Western government-funded open source investigations collective, for its role in the connivance? Christo Grozev, the organization’s “lead Russia investigator,” was inexplicably granted a front row seat to the chicanery by the individuals who attempted to carry it out.
Once the plot unravelled spectacularly, Grozev attempted to spin it as an embarrassment for Russia, while denying the SBU or Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Directorate (GUR) played any role in its execution. Instead, he claimed, it was the work of “maverick ex-operatives.” The criminal cases pursued by the SBU validate this narrative:
“These actions of individual servicemen [emphasis added], which led to serious consequences, death and injury of Ukraine’s defenders and harmed the country’s defence capabilities, require an appropriate legal assessment.”
As we will see, Grozev was far from a passive spectator in the scheme. Indeed, his framing of the event gives every appearance of a damage control exercise, shielding Bellingcat and the GUR and SBU from blame. Coincidentally, his Bellingcat website profile notes his interest in “the weaponization of information.”
Read Alex Rubinstein’s report on Christo Grozev’s defense of a terror attack on a St. Petersburg, Russia cafe, and his call for more of such actions.