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Russia says Ukraine’s military intelligence chief ‘legitimate target’

Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the Russian Security Service (file photo by Reuters)

The Russian Security Service (FSB) says Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kirill Budanov and any other high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence official committing crimes against Russia should be considered a valid target for Russian troops.

“Those committing crimes against Russia and Russian citizens are a legitimate target,” Alexander Bortnikov, the FSB head, said at a press conference on Tuesday.

When asked by reporters why Russia has not yet acted on those targets, the FSB said this possibility “is still ahead.”

Bortnikov said Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) should also be designated a terrorist organization.

The remarks came a day after Vasily Malyuk, who heads the SBU, said his agency was behind several high-profile assassinations inside Russia.

A Moscow Court also issued an arrest warrant for Malyuk on Tuesday. The top Ukrainian security official stands accused of masterminding an attack on the Crimean Bridge connecting Russia and the Crimean Peninsula in October 2022.

Malyuk claimed responsibility for the incident in August 2023, saying he had “personally” planned the operation.

The FSB initially identified Budanov as the mastermind of the attack on the Crimean Bridge. The attack set fire to seven oil tankers, sparking a massive blaze and killing three people.

Crimea has repeatedly been targeted by Ukrainian drone attacks since Moscow launched its military operation in February 2022.

Russia launched the campaign in part to counter NATO’s further eastward expansion and to stop Kiev’s persecution of the pro-Russian population in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow accuses Ukraine of attacks against targets inside Russia. Kiev has never officially taken responsibility for those attacks.

The Kremlin says the West and NATO are playing a direct role in the Ukraine conflict by pouring advanced weapons and military equipment into the country, warning that NATO weapons are “legitimate targets” for its armed forces.

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