Ukrainian officials have taken credit for a car bomb that killed a Russian-backed politician Wednesday, calling the act retribution.
Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense wrote on Telegram that “traitors to Ukraine and collaborators with terrorist Russia in temporarily occupied territories … will receive just retribution! The hunt continues!”
Andriy Cherniak, representative of Ukraine’s Military Intelligence Directorate, told Politico “it was our operation.”
The Telegram post claimed that members of the resistance in the occupied territory helped carry out the killing of Luhansk legislature member Mikhail Filiponenko, who had survived a previous car bombing just days before Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Filiponenko formerly led Moscow-backed separatist troops in Luhansk and represented the group in the cease-fire monitoring center in the region before the start of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion last year, Radio Free Europe reported.
The directorate alleged that Filiponenko had organized and participated in the torture of prisoners of war and civilians, calling him “the executioner.”
Rebekah Koffler, president of Doctrine & Strategy Consulting and a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, told Fox News Digital that Ukraine is turning to “targeted killings” as a result of failing to realize the gains anticipated from their counteroffensive this year.
“It’s an irregular form of warfare used by modern militaries when they are unable to produce a clear military victory with conventional approaches,” Koffler explained.
“Waged largely in the shadows, this way of war entails planned assassinations by a state — i.e. its special forces — of specific individuals who belong to the opposing force, in order to gradually degrade, demoralize, and deter the adversary,” she said.
“While this new strategy is highly unlikely to achieve Ukraine’s ultimate goal of driving the Russian military out of occupied territories, it will eventually bring the Russia-Ukraine conflict into a new state — a low-intensity, protracted phase, which will eventually turn it into a ‘frozen’ conflict,” she added.
The Moscow Times noted that several “high-profile backers” of Russia’s invasion have been attacked since the operation commenced in February 2022, but Ukraine has rarely claimed direct involvement in any of them.
The pivot from an outright offensive against Russia to targeted assassinations has raised some concerns as it appears to indicate an unfocused approach, according to some insiders.
One source from the Ukrainian domestic security service known as SBU told The Economist that the approach made them “uncomfortable” as some of the targets hit are “marginal figures.”
A former SBU fifth-directorate officer suggested to the outlet that the assassinations in some cases are aimed to impress Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, quipping, “Clowns, prostitutes and jokers are a constant around the Russian government.”
“Kill one of them and another will appear in their place,” he argued.