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Officers with Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) recently seized a man in Sloviansk, a city in the country’s Russian-dominated eastern region, for allegedly collaborating with Russian forces that have invaded the East European country.
“What did he ask you for?” a security officer asked the man after he was detained.
“Coordinates, movements and so on,” the man said, according to CNN. “The locations of the hits. That sort of thing. The situation in general…”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has become an artillery duel between the two sides, the Guardian reported. As the fighting has transitioned to these new tactics, on-the-ground intelligence has become more valuable, especially in zones where Ukrainian troops have pushed out Russian aggressors. The shift led Ukrainian forces to launch an unprecedented crackdown on espionage.
In the town of Ivanivka near the Russian border, a 66-year-old woman identified only as Olena lamented how her neighbor has fired flares that helped Russian troops attack Ukrainian forces. She notified the SBU who began investigating. That situation isn’t uncommon these days.
“In small towns and villages across Ukraine that fell under Russian occupation in February and March and have since been liberated, the fog of war has been replaced by the fog of conspiracy and suspicion,” wrote the Washington Post.
In late April, Ukrainian security officials arrested 400 people around Kharkiv under anti-collaboration laws that Ukrainian lawmakers enacted soon after Russia’s invasion in late February, the Associated Press reported. Those laws impose punishments ranging from two years in prison for distributing Russian propaganda in schools to 15 years for joining Russian military groups, the US Library of Congress explained. Collaborating in actions leading to Ukrainian deaths could mean life in prison.
Officials in Kyiv are investigating 10 residents in the Bucha region who they suspect collaborated with Russian troops committing war crimes in that city, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation added. They suspect collaborators helped Russian troops track down and kill Ukrainians Russian leaders believed might cause trouble – local politicians, combat veterans, Ukrainians in defense forces and others, as the Kyiv Independent wrote.
SBU forces recently arrested local government official Nadiya Antonova for giving the Russians the names of soldiers, law enforcement officers and counter-terrorism officials when the Russians controlled her town near Kharvkiv, the New York Post reported.
The Russians thought the Ukrainians would welcome them with open arms. Some of those who did are now paying the price, along with Ukrainian unity.