Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ukraine: Ukrainian diplomats may have spied on Romania on behalf of Russia

The delay in Kiev’s reaction to the expulsion of the diplomats from Bucharest is explained with ‘a Russian trace,’ comments Ukrainian Segodnya daily.

The military attaché for defense affairs in Romania’s embassy in Kiev Filip Radu and the seceraty of the consulate general in Chernovtsi Yustinian Foksh were declared persona non grata and expelled from Ukraine.

This was the ‘mirror response’ to the analogue steps taken by Romanian authorities in relation to Ukrainian military attaché Sergei Ilnitsky and his assistant, whom official Bucharest forced to leave the country last week.

As it was announced earlier, Ukrainian diplomats found themselves in the epicenter of a serious spying scandal: the Romanian defense ministry officer Floricel Achim and his assistant, Bulgarian Petar Zikulov, were detained on suspicion of collection national security information and giving it to a third country – Ukrainian special services. It is thought that the secret information contains data about the military sites, liaison systems, frequencies of anti-missile facilities, NATO maps and schemes in Romania, as well as military equipment and weapons of Romanian Armed Forces.

The investigators say Achim, who had access to the information, copied from his computer and gave it to Zikulov in exchange for money. Achim and Zikulov were arrested and the Ukrainian diplomats – expelled from Romania. Before that the official visit of Romanian President Traian Basescu to Ukraine was canceled (according to one of the versions the scandal aims at raising his rating ahead of the presidential elections, demonstrating ‘battle against the outer enemy’).

The reaction of official Kiev is late a little bit – high-level consultations must have been held.
The chief intelligence department in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, whose representatives in Romania are affected by the spying scandal, does not give official comments on the issue.

However, the circles close to the Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council have their own version about the scandal. They say the expelled Ukrainian diplomats were just mediators in receiving and giving the secret information, which was earmarked for Russia.

“There are no secrets for us in Romania, but there are many interesting things for the Russians, especially NATO-related information,” says a source of the daily.

By the way, the version might have a Romanian origin, having in mind the fact that Bucharest is vehemently trying to discredit Ukraine in the eyes of Europe, seeking to obtain a ban on sailing along Ukrainian canal Danube – Black Sea. In addition, as the National Security and Defense Council suspects, if Romanians convince Europeans and NATO that the Ukrainian diplomats worked in Russia’s favor, analogue steps might follow very soon against Ukrainian military attaches in Brussels, Paris and Berlin.

Source: FOCUS Information Agency
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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