The US intelligence community believes that the car bomb attack that killed Darya Duginathe daughter of prominent Russian politician Alexander Dugin, was cleared by elements within the Ukrainian government, sources briefed on the intelligence told CNN.
The United States was unaware of the plan in advance, the sources say, and it remains unclear who the United States believes approved of the assassination. It is also unclear whether the US intelligence community believes that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky knew about the conspiracy or authorized it.
But the discovery of intelligence, first reported by the New York Timeswould seem to corroborate elements of the conclusions of the Russian authorities that the car bomb attack was “pre-planned”. Russia had accused Ukrainian nationals of being responsible for the attack, which Ukraine had vigorously denied the day after the explosion.
Asked to comment, a Ukrainian defense intelligence official told CNN on Wednesday night after the latest reports emerged that their agency had no new information about Dugina’s death. Shortly after his death, the same official told CNN that Ukraine had nothing to do with it.
The National Security Council, CIA and State Department declined to comment.
US intelligence officials believe Dugina was driving her father’s car the night she was killed and her father was the real target of the operation, one of the sources said. Dugin is a Russian ultranationalist and philosopher who was a staunch supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine. A friend of Dugina’s also told Russian media TASS shortly after the explosion that the car she was driving was her father’s.
Just days after Dugina’s death, Russian authorities accused a Ukrainian woman of remotely detonating explosives placed in Dugina’s Toyota Land Cruiser Prado, then driving through the Pskov region and escaping to Estonia.
Oleksii Danylov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security Council, immediately denied the allegation. “We have nothing to do with the murder of this lady – it’s the work of Russian special services,” he added. said in august. Zelensky’s adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, also said at the time that the Russian accusation reflected the “fictitious world” in which the Russian government operates.
The intelligence surrounding Ukraine’s involvement, if accurate, would signal a bold expansion of Ukraine’s covert operations aimed at targeting a well-known political figure just outside of Moscow.
To date, Ukrainian strikes inside Russia have largely been limited to attacks on fuel depots and military bases in towns along the Russian-Ukrainian border, such as Belgorod. But the United States does not have good visibility on all the strikes planned by Ukraine, sources told CNN.
A Ukrainian official told CNN that the US intelligence community’s findings were not discussed during a meeting between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Zelensky’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak in Istanbul earlier. this week. It’s unclear whether the issue was raised more recently by President Joe Biden during a phone call with Zelensky on Tuesday.
A National Security Council spokesman declined to comment.
Dugina, who was 29 when she was killed, was a public figure in her own right and frequently appeared as a commentator on Russian television channels broadcasting anti-Western and nationalist narratives.
As CNN has it Previously reported, Dugina also ran an English and Turkish language website called United World International, which was itself part of a larger propaganda effort known as “Project Lakhta”. The State Department has accused Project Lakhta of deploying online “trolls” to interfere in US elections.
The United States sanctioned Dugin and Dugina after the Russian invasion in February, accusing them of spreading propaganda and acting to destabilize Ukraine.
This story was updated with additional reports on Wednesday.