Ukraine spy plot to manipulate Russian pilots with £1.6m blamed on British secret service

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A plot involving fake lovers, bribes and double agents has surfaced and allegedly been exposed by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). According to the FSB, the British secret service facilitated a plot to tempt Russian pilots to Ukraine with £1.6million and EU residency.

The supposed plan was to convince Russian fighter pilots to fly their aircraft into Ukrainian-controlled territory and surrender.

The details of the supposed plot were published on Russian television outlets, agencies, and websites.

The reports included text messages, audio clips and supposedly of intelligence officers from Ukraine trying to persuade up to 10 Russian pilots to defect to Ukraine.

The Times revealed one recording exhibited an unidentifiable voice saying: “Our target is a plane.

“We’re ready to pay $1million. We can come to an agreement – I guarantee you another $1million on top.”

The reported scheme was that the Russian pilots who agreed to the deal would imitate being intercepted by Ukrainian fighters at low altitude and then be guided to an airfield under Ukrainian control.

Reportedly any concerns about the plane’s navigator could be dealt with by giving him a sedative prior to the flight.

Russia claimed that Kyiv was interested in Su-24M, Su-34, and Tu-22M3 warplanes but supposedly the plan was thwarted when Russian pilots informed the FSB.

Bulgarian investigative journalist Christo Grozev was accused by Rossiya-24, a Russian state television channel, of being involved alongside MI6 in the transfer of an advance to a Russian pilot.

Mr Grozev works for Bellingcat, an investigative website which revealed the Russian agents who attempted to poison Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in 2020 and Sergei Skripal in 2018.

Mr Grozev has replied to the accusations saying that the Ukrainian conspiracy was true and that he “was involved in this crazier-than-fiction story of triple agents, fake passports and faux girlfriends”.

However, he was only included as a filmmaker for Bellingcat and did not participate in the ploy.

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The journalist spoke about how he and his colleagues got permission to film an operation by Ukrainian security services following a law in April that allowed Ukraine to pay Russian soldiers who defected and surrendered weapons.

The Russian media has called the revelations a triumph of counterintelligence.

A spokesperson for the FSB told Rossiya-24: “Obviously, the operation was conducted with the support of Western, and principally British, special services.”

However, no evidence was provided to support such a statement.

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