A new report based on the leaked emails of a deputy to Vladislav Surkov, the inﬂuential Kremlin aide who some call Putin’s Rasputin, reveals a strategy to prepare the people of Zaporizhia region in eastern Ukraine for a pro-Russian takeover.
Later cracked by a team of hackers, the code protected document outlined the plan titled “Troy”, allegedly drawn by Alexei Muratov (MP from Kursk region bordering Ukraine and "envoy to Russia of the unrecognized "Donetsk People's Republic") who had sent his plan to a Kremlin official in November 2014, according to The Times.
The proposal was part of a wider Kremlin engagement with strategies to destabilize Ukraine.
Bob Seely, the Conservative MP who co-authored the report, claims that the leaks “provide a snapshot of covert campaigns and hybrid war, and the price of everything from cyberattacks to fake news, bribes and demos all the way through to overthrowing regional governments”.
With Troy, Muratov was proposing to spend $181,000 on expanding the rebellion further west. The document was allegedly sent to Inal Ardzinba, Surkov’s deputy. It was a blueprint for manipulating public opinion before an insurrection in Zaporizhia, wresting the region from the orbit of the central government in Kyiv.
Read alsoThe Times: Leaked emails expose Russian dirty tricksThe insurgency would, the outline said, make use of an “existing espionage network”. Contact would be established with sympathizers inside the local police and the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Troy was to culminate in unspeciﬁed “force actions” by partisans against pro-Kiev groups such as Right Sector and Samooborona (Self-Defense).
Muratov’s plan was apparently never set in motion, and it is impossible to know whether it was viewed in Moscow as a serious proposition.
The breakdown of expenses and personnel suggest budgeting for a real proposal. A core team was expected to include 15 military or security personnel, at least ten police officers, 37 spies and informers and a number of regional politicians. Their leader was to be Vladimir Novikov, a militia commander with the nom de guerre Alabay, a powerful central Asian breed of dog.
Read alsoChief Prosecutor suspects Medvedchuk of plotting coup in Ukraine together with Ruban, SavchenkoAllocated costs included $40,000 to organize protests, $10,000 to maintain a network of agents in the SBU and interior ministry and $49,000 to be spent on vehicles.
The document was part of a third tranche of emails revealed by a network of Ukrainian hackers last November, after two releases in 2016, and studied in depth by Mr Seely. The Kremlin has dismissed material released by the group as fabricated, although some people who sent messages to Surkov that were exposed have said they were genuine.
If genuine, the hacked emails demonstrate an extensive attempt to massage politics in Ukraine in favor of the Kremlin, sowing division and promoting autonomy for regions with signiﬁcant Russian-speaking populations as a means of eroding central government control.
Such methods were allegedly used in parallel with Moscow’s direct military intervention in the Donbas conﬂict in eastern Ukraine.