Budanov: At the beginning of the invasion, Kyiv survived thanks to the spy-banker, who was killed by the SBU in March

Budanov: At the beginning of the invasion, Kyiv survived thanks to a spy-banker who was killed by the SBU in March

Ukrainian intelligence learned that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion from the financier Denis Kireev, who participated in Russian-Ukrainian negotiations in late February, and died in Kyiv in early March under mysterious circumstances. This is reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Until last February, Kireev was known as a banker: he worked in the Ukrainian divisions of Citibank, Credit Lyonnais, ING, Rabobank, as well as in Oschadbank. In February, unexpectedly for many, he ended up in the Ukrainian delegation during negotiations with Russia. On March 5, it became known about his death while being detained by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).

Ukrainian media, citing sources, wrote that he was suspected of treason. However, the Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine reported that Kireev was his employee and died while performing a “special assignment”.

In his article, The Wall Steet Journal tells how Kireev got into the GUR. In the spring of 2021, the head of the special service, Kirill Budanov, summoned the financier to the headquarters of the Ukrainian military intelligence. He approached him with a request to try to infiltrate the Russian military intelligence service using his connections and contacts.

“He had the necessary circle of acquaintances. Through it, financial transactions were carried out. He had contact with everyone, including very influential people”, — explained Budanov in an interview with the WSJ.

Kireev agreed to this proposal. According to the WSJ, he began to travel to the Kharkiv region, where, together with another military intelligence officer, he crossed the border with Russia in a car. He returned a few days later, after which he passed the collected information to Budanov.

“He received information about everything. The world of special services and the world of finance are always connected, as well as the world of crime, at least in our countries”, — Budanov noted.

According to him, when the US intelligence services began to warn Ukraine about the Russian threat in the fall of 2021, Kireev learned from his sources about the impending invasion and was the first in Ukraine to sound the alarm.

On the eve of the invasion, on February 23, Kireev passed on fresh intelligence to Budanov. From them it followed that early in the morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion. Kireev also knew one of the main targets of Russia's first attack, the newspaper writes.

The publication recalls that on February 24, 8 am, Russian military helicopters landed a military landing at the Antonov airport near Kyiv. According to Budanov, it was thanks to the information he received from Kireev that additional forces were deployed to the airfield. After fierce fighting, it became impossible to use the airfield as a springboard for an attack on Kyiv.

“If it weren’t for Kireev, most likely, Kyiv would have been taken,” Budanov said.

After the Russian blitzkrieg against Kyiv was thwarted, Budanov asked Kireev to take part in the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations that took place in late February and early March in Belarus.

Kireev understood that it would be risky for him to participate in the negotiations, because his connection with the Ukrainian special services would become obvious. But despite this, he agreed.

“Well, damn it. Since the Motherland said “it’s necessary,” I’ll go,” he told one of his guards.

Budanov said that before the second round of negotiations in Belarus, on the night of March 3, Kireev received a call from office of the head of counterintelligence of the SBU, Oleksandr Poklad, and they told him that he was asking for a personal meeting. On the day of the second round of negotiations, Kireev, along with his guards and military intelligence agents, who were also supposed to participate in the trip to Belarus, went to the Kyiv railway station. He warned his bodyguards not to intervene if he was arrested.

Near St. Sophia Cathedral in central Kyiv, several minibuses with SBU agents intercepted Kireev's car. His guards were disarmed, and Kireev himself was put into a minibus and taken away in an unknown direction. About an hour and a half later, the military police were called to the place where Kireev's body was found.

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