Inside Ukraine’s Secret Mission To Fully Capture The MH17 ‘Suspect’ Traded With Russia

KYIV — Their objective ended up being key: put on enemy territory undetected, capture their target, and return with him to Kyiv. It was known by them could be dangerous however their superior said it absolutely was well worth the chance, and also the order originated in the utmost effective. If effective, it might result in a breakthrough that is major of the type, especially, these were maybe perhaps not told.

When you look at the morning that is early of June 27, the little group of Ukrainian military intelligence operatives snuck via a gap in Russia-backed rose bridess site separatists’ battle lines. Careful to prevent detection and land mines, they fundamentally made their option to the town of Snizhne, when you look at the Donetsk area some 20 kilometers from the Russian edge. There, they stormed into a property, found their target — a bald, senior guy having a pencil mustache — and forcibly removed him.

These were nearly clear, and within sight of Ukrainian territory that is government-controlled the town of Donetsk, whenever two regarding the operatives caused mines that exploded beneath them. Badly wounded, the males had been carried by other people when you look at the team all of those other method.

The operatives accomplished their mission before sundown, however it arrived at a high price. One of many men that are wounded lose a leg. One other would perish in a hospital sleep.

The account regarding the objective, told exclusively towards the RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service’s Donbas Desk by the operative who had been included, supplies the first look that is detailed how Ukraine was able to capture Volodymyr Tsemakh — a person your head associated with the Dutch-led research in to the 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 has called a “suspect” — and bring him to Kyiv.

Tsemakh, a 58-year-old Ukrainian resident and Snizhne resident, had been the commander of the Russian-backed separatist air-defense product regarding the Russia-backed separatists when you look at the Donetsk area whenever MH17 ended up being shot down, killing all 298 people aboard. A russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, he bragged about helping to hide the Russian Buk missile system that the Dutch-led investigation said shot down MH17 in a 2015 video unearthed by Current time.

Ukraine’s protection Service (SBU), the Defense Ministry, and President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s workplace all declined to touch upon the procedure to fully capture Tsemakh or even to verify the main points supplied to RFE/RL by its supply. Nevertheless the operative’s account aligns closely with Ukrainian and Russian news reports about Tsemakh’s capture and social media marketing articles in regards to the fatally wounded operative that have been analyzed by RFE/RL.

While Tsemakh’s capture had been mostly lauded by the public that is ukrainian some details had been posted into the times later, it took in unique importance on September 7, whenever Zelenskiy and SBU chief Ivan Bakanov told reporters that a significant prisoner trade between Ukraine and Russia on that time hinged regarding the captive — whom a court had released from custody 2 days early in the day — being included.

That swap that is long-anticipated 70 prisoners — 35 for each part — included most high-profile prisoners held by the 2 nations. Talking to reporters from the tarmac at Kyiv’s Boryspil airport terminal afterwards, Zelenskiy called the swap “the first faltering step to end the war” between Ukrainian forces and separatists that are russia-backed has killed a lot more than 13,000 individuals since its outbreak in 2014.

Tsemakh’s addition when you look at the trade, but, disappointed the Dutch-led MH17 research group and angered some loved ones of MH17 victims whom had hoped to see him possibly take part in an effort of four males — three Russians and a Ukrainian — indicted by prosecutors into the Netherlands for his or her roles that are alleged the plane’s downing.

Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok stated that MH17 investigators were able to concern Tsemakh before he had been flown to Moscow. Yuriy Lutsenko, who had been Ukraine’s prosecutor-general during the time of Tsemakh’s arrest, published on Facebook on September 8 that Tsemakh have been provided a deal because of the Dutch to become a witness into the MH17 situation but declined it.

‘He Needs To Be Delivered Alive’

Talking on condition of anonymity as a result of the delicate nature of their operate in army cleverness, the operative whom participated within the mission to fully capture Tsemakh stated it absolutely was prepared by their superiors well ahead of time but that their special operations team, made up of members of numerous cleverness and protection agencies, was handed the light that is green make it away just one time beforehand.

“If one thing goes wrong, it is advisable to understand less,” the operative stated, recalling discussions held together with superiors from the eve of this objective. That they had not really been told the title associated with the guy these people were purchased to draw out, just exactly exactly just what he appeared as if and where he had been positioned, he said.