Ivan Bakanov / Photo from UNIAN

Foreign intelligence agencies are trying to escalate the situation in Ukraine's southern Odesa region, SBU Head Ivan Bakanov said.

Ukraine's counterintelligence operatives have been successfully countering such attempts, Bakanov assured during a working trip to Odesa region, the SBU press center reports.

"Odesa region is the largest region of Ukraine in terms of territory. It's multinational, with the longest borders, major sea trade ports, and significant economic potential. And we're very well aware of foreign intelligence agencies trying to undermine the situation in Odesa region. But they won't succeed. The SBU has successfully been countering such attempts, and will continue to do so," Bakanov noted.

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According to him, the region's peculiarities impose additional responsibility on counterintelligence operatives toward maintaining peace and security.

"Don't forget certain events that took place in Odess, starting from 2014. Therefore, our counterintelligence should perform at the highest level here," Bakanov emphasized, hinting at the foiled attempt of Russia-backed forces in 2014 to destabilize the region and create a quasi-entity similar to the so-called "DPR" and "LPR" in Donbas.

Among the key priorities of the SBU, Bakanov also named countering any manifestations of separatism, protection of national statehood, and measures to tackle terrorism, sabotage, and cyberthreats.