Putin’s war in Ukraine has been a disaster for the Russian military for sure. And for some Russian officials, they were so convinced they would win easily they already made plans for where they might want to live when they conquered Kyiv:
Before the Ukraine invasion began, a top Russian security official, sure of a swift Russian victory, appeared to pick the Kyiv apartment he eventually wanted to live in, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
An exchange between Igor Kovalenko, whom Ukraine identified as a senior officer in the FSB, Russia’s security service, and a subordinate on February 18 — six days before the invasion — suggested Kovalenko had picked out an apartment in Ukraine’s capital, The Post reported, citing Russian communications it saw that had been intercepted by Ukraine and other countries’ security services.
Russia had expected a quick victory that involved taking Kyiv and installing a new government but was met with unexpectedly staunch Ukrainian resistance. Russia retreated from Kyiv in April and has since focused on Ukraine’s east and south.
The Post report said the apartment was “in Kyiv’s leafy Obolon neighborhood, overlooking the Dnieper River.”
In the intercepted communications, Kovalenko asked for the address and contact information of an FSB informant living in the apartment, and the subordinate gave him the details, The Post reported.
Kovalenko had dealt with Ukraine for years in his role as a senior officer in the FSB’s Ninth Directorate of the Department of Operational Information, working with Ukrainians who were secretly being paid by Russia, the Post report said.
Ukrainian authorities told The Post that Ukraine detained and questioned the informant when it intercepted Kovalenko’s communications.
They added that the informant admitted the FSB had told him in the days before the invasion that he needed to leave his apartment and Kyiv to stay safe — he was to pack his things and leave his keys behind.
Officials told The Post that Ukraine’s security service monitored the apartment, but Kovalenko did not turn up, nor did any other FSB officials.
It wasn’t clear what happened to the informant, whom Ukraine did not name, The Post said.
The Post said Kovalenko did not respond to its requests for comment.
The report said Kovalenko went back to Russia at one point after the invasion, then said in late May that he was going back to Ukraine. Ukrainian officials told The Post they’re no longer sure where he is.
The Post report said the FSB echoed Kovalenko’s confidence in picking out an apartment, telling several informants to leave their homes in Ukraine but to leave their keys behind. Ukrainian and Western officials told The Post that Russian officials, anticipating an easy victory, were picking accommodations for the personnel they planned to bring into Ukraine.
Sinéad Baker is a News Reporter based in Business Insider’s London bureau. Sinéad most often covers breaking news, US politics, and global censorship. She has covered developments within the Trump administration, written about terrorist attacks in real time around the world, and delved into the aftermath of aviation disasters. This first appeared in Insider.