Russian agents ‘infiltrated’ Ukrainian base where three British special forces veterans feared dead

Ukraine intelligence agencies said to be investigating claims Kremlin spy sent key information to Moscow from inside base

Matt Mathers
Tuesday 15 March 2022 16:50 GMT
Ukrainian military base used for Nato drills near Poland targeted by Russian airstrikes

Russian spies may have infiltrated a Ukrainian military base where missiles struck and killed at least 35 people, with three Britons thought to be among them.

Vladimir Putin's forces fired around 30 cruise missiles at the Yavoriv base, outside the city of Lviv, about 15 miles from the border with Poland, on Sunday.

Intelligence officials are investigating whether a Russian agent, pretending to be a recruit for foreign fighters, fed intelligence back to the Kremlin prior to the attack, the Daily Mirror reported.

With the war in its third week, western and Ukrainian intelligence chiefs believe Russian GRU and SVR spy agencies had "turned" foreign fighters on the base, the paper said.

One of the 1,500 foreign recruits there sent key coordinates and information to Moscow before fleeing the base with a laptop-sized object moments before the missile strikes, it added.

The claims are being investigated by Ukraine’s SBU intelligence and security agency, which suspects Russia had insiders on the base, the Mirror said.

Among the dead were said to be three British ex-special forces who were not part of the foreign fighters unit, the Mirror also reported.

It is understood all the attacks were launched from inside Russian territory.

However, the UK Foreign Office said it was unaware of any British nationals killed in the strike.

Damaged buildings near Yavoriv military site (@BackAndAlive via REUTERS)

A source told the Mirror: “There were many more killed within the site than has been claimed and bodies are still being found.

“I do not believe the three British ex-military personnel would have known anything about it, fortunately.

“This is extremely sensitive as there are believed to be no serving British military personnel inside Ukraine as politically that would be extremely controversial.”

The disclosures come as intense fighting continues in several cities across Ukraine.

This map shows the extent of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (Press Association Images)

Russian forces are pounding Ukrainian cities and edging closer to the capital, Kyiv, in a relentless bombardment that keeps deepening the humanitarian crisis in this war, now in its third week.

Still, a narrow diplomatic channel remains open, with more talks between the two sides planned on Tuesday despite the failures of diplomacy so far. From the besieged port city of Mariupol, a convoy of around 2,000 civilian vehicles left along the so-called humanitarian corridor on Tuesday, the city council said.

The war's human toll has been devastating — the number of Ukrainians forced to flee their country since the invasion started has now surpassed 3 million, the vast majority of them women and children. Thousands of soldiers and civilians are dead.

The Independent has a proud history of campaigning for the rights of the most vulnerable, and we first ran our Refugees Welcome campaign during the war in Syria in 2015.

Now, as we renew our campaign and launch this petition in the wake of the unfolding Ukrainian crisis, we are calling on the government to go further and faster to ensure help is delivered.

To find out more about our Refugees Welcome campaign, click here. To sign the petition click here. If you would like to donate then please click here for our GoFundMe page.

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