UPDATE - US Provided Cash To Ukraine In Operation Against 33 Russians In Belarus - CNN

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 08th September, 2021) The United States supported with cash and advice last year's operation by Ukrainian security services, which tried to lure, through Belarus, 33 Russians suspected of involvement in events in Donbas, CNN reported citing unnamed sources.

The US broadcaster reported that Ukrainian intelligence officials said the Kiev-led operation "got US cash, technical assistance and advice from the CIA on how to draw the Russian mercenaries in." It also cited a senior US official as saying the claims are "false."

According to the report, three former senior Ukrainian military intelligence officials described to CNN how they organized the operation aimed at luring Russians to face prosecution for alleged atrocities committed in eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian agents allegedly posed as a Russian private military company, recruiting for highly paid security jobs in Venezuela. Hundreds of would-be Russian contractors applied for work and started to reveal things about themselves, sending military IDs and evidence of their military experience, including photos and videos from Donbas.

The plan failed because the Belarusian authorities interfered. They detained the Russians in Belarus and later handed them over to Russia.

Some applicants linked themselves to the attack on MH17, the Malaysian Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur downed in 2014 above Ukrainian territory, that killed all 298 people on board.

"There were two who were present when the missile that downed MH17 was launched. Four others were members of a group responsible for shooting down our military aircraft and killing at least 70 of our best men," CNN quoted a former Ukrainian military intelligence source as saying.

Russia has denied any participation in the conflict in eastern Ukraine or involvement in the MH17 incident.

In July 2020, the Belarusian authorities said 33 Russians were arrested. The Investigative Committee of Belarus clarified that they were suspected of preparing riots in the republic. At the same time, according to intelligence services, earlier, information was received about the arrival in Belarus of "more than 200 militants to destabilize the situation during the election campaign." Presidential elections in the republic were held on August 9.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that with a high degree of certainty, Russians detained in Belarus were employees of a private security company, were in transit in the country and missed their flight. The detainees, according to Peskov, did not commit illegal actions, while Russia did not interfere and does not interfere in the internal affairs of Belarus.

Kiev demanded the extradition of 28 people detained in Belarus to prosecute them for alleged crimes related to participation in the conflict in Donbas. It was said 28 persons, of whom nine have Ukrainian citizenship, were declared suspicious under an article related to participation in a terrorist organization.

On August 14, the Russian Prosecutor General's Office said 32 out of 33 Russian citizens detained earlier in Belarus had been returned to Russia. The thirty-third citizen of Russia, who also has Belarusian citizenship, remained in Belarus.

Earlier, a number of Ukrainian media outlets reported that Ukrainian security services had allegedly been conducting a special operation for more than a year to search for and detain suspects of involvement in Donbas events. They allegedly offered the Russians a job on behalf of a private military company, then the group was supposed to be brought to Minsk, and then to fly to Turkey, but the plane would be landed in Ukraine.

According to media reports, later the special operation was allegedly postponed due to contacts with Russia on the exchange of detainees and a truce, but the Belarusian security services detained the entire group and the operation failed. The head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andriy Yermak, denied the version that the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) was involved in the arrival of more than 30 Russians in Minsk. He refused to comment on Ukraine's operations, citing secrecy.