US Intelligence Places Blame for Dariya Dugina's Assassination on Ukraine
In the wake of explosions damaging the Nordstream pipelines which led to Russia and the United States exchanging claims of the other's responsibility over their sabotage, the countries find themselves in an unusual position on another high profile attack. For the first time since her assassination in August, the United States has acknowledged intelligence which has led them to believe that the Ukrainian government was responsible for her murder.
Dugina was identified as the victim of a vehicular explosion that occurred approximately 20 km west of Moscow around 9:45 pm local time on August 20th. As the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, the intellectual vanguard of the Eurasian political philosophy which many have see as the ideological basis of Moscow's policy making, the presumption of her death was immediately suspected to be an assassination.
That suspicion was confirmed shortly following the explosion which left her dead as the Russian FSB deduced that the Ukrainian Special Services was behind the attack the following day. "As a result of a complex of urgent operational-search measures, the Federal Security Service has solved the murder of Russian journalist Darya Dugina, born in 1992," they announced, going on to emphasize the culpability of the Ukrainian government by stating that "the crime was prepared and committed by the Ukrainian special services[.]"
Ukrainian officials immediately washed their hands of the incident. However, the FSB offered intelligence identifying the suspected assailant and her entry into Russia as part of an apparent mission to surveil Dugina in the month preceding her death. When the FSB issued its findings pinning the assassination of Ukrainian Special Services agent Natalia Vovk, the agency also detailed its conclusions that she had fled the the EU member-state of Estonia to escape her alleged crimes.
While the United States intelligence apparatus did not initially corroborate the FSB's findings following the attack, it has since shifted its outlook on what occurred. Intelligence officials conveyed that reports they attained last week confirmed that the Ukrainian government was responsible for the planning and orchestration of the attack. In acknowledging the report, the officials emphasized that the United States took no part in the attack nor were they aware of its impending execution. US intelligence was also clear to state that they did not have any proof that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy authorized Dugina's assassination.
Although the limited hangout offered by the US intelligence sphere sparsely brings any clarity to the extent the FSB's findings were accurate, the officials revealing the information did share the sentiment that Ukranian Special Services killed Dugina as part of a botched attempt to assassinate her father. Dugin and his daughter each attended a festival at the Zakharavo Estate before deciding to leave in separate vehicles according to Petr Lundstrem, a Russian concert violinist who was also a guest at the event.
From the very first moments the news of Dugina's death broke, Ukrainian officials firmly disavowed accusations of any involvement in the attack from Kyiv. Policy advisor Mykhailo Podolyak stated “Ukraine, of course, has nothing to do with yesterday’s explosion[.]” Just days before this new intelligence contradicting his position came to light, Podolyak reaffirmed his determination on the matter in an interview with The New York Times. “Again, I’ll underline that any murder during wartime in some country or another must carry with it some kind of practical significance,” Mr. Podolyak told The Times on Tuesday.“ It should fulfill some specific purpose, tactical or strategic. Someone like Dugina is not a tactical or a strategic target for Ukraine. We have other targets on the territory of Ukraine,” he continued. “I mean collaborationists and representatives of the Russian command, who might have value for members of our special services working in this program, but certainly not Dugina.”
Ukraine's continued denials raise even more concerns shared by US officials regarding the country's unwillingness to offer clear and transparent insight into its wartime operations. Despite that, US intelligence has been able to ascertain Intel which details a wider landscape of assassination missions greenlit Kyiv. According to reports, senior Ukrainian military officials revealed ongoing assassination attempts of Russian collaborators in Ukraine's former territories now annexed by the Russian Federation. These operations included the poisoning of Vladimir Saldo, Putin's appointed governor of the Kherson region so vital to controlling Azov Black Sea coasts, thus fortifying the security of Crimea.
With Russia's mobilization of additional military forces following referendums in occupied territories which it asserts puts each of the four into Russian control, the departure of US intelligence officials from the corner of its Ukrainian counterparts serves as an abrupt pivot away from their steadfast commitments to do all they can to advance the Ukrainian cause. If the reports offered by intelligence officials are confirmed to be true, it would be the first time since the onset of the war that the US and Russia were in agreement on seemingly anything. What that means for the fate of Ukraine is yet to be foreseen but the continued allegiance to Kyiv in the wake of their responsibility over Dugina's death furthers the view of much of the rest of the world that the NATO-axis is to blame for the escalation of the conflict to a point where it's only become more severe.