The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has confirmed that Svetlana Dryuk aka “Veterok”, a former tank battalion commander for the “People’s Militia” of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), has been evacuated to government-controlled territory.
“The SBU confirms that a mercenary from the Russian illegal armed groups in the Donbas, tank battalion chief of staff Svetlana Dryuk, has been brought into Ukraine-controlled territory,” the SBU’s press department stated.
According to the security service, the evacuation was the concluding stage of a lengthy SBU counterintelligence operation, “as a result of which we obtained a valuable eye-witness of Russian military aggression in Ukraine, as well as important materials pertaining to the leading role of career officers of the Russian Armed Forces and Russian intelligence agents in organizing terrorist activity in the Donbas”.
The operation was carried out under a “strict counterintelligence regime”.
“This operation was a contest of intellect and professionalism between the Russian and Ukrainian intelligence agencies, and the obtained result is yet another piece of evidence of Russian armed aggression,” observed SBU head Vasyl Hrytsak.
On Sunday, the TV channel 1+1 reported that Svetlana Dryuk, the commander of a women’s tank crew for the DPR, had started cooperating with Ukraine. Dryuk herself said that close acquaintance with a Ukrainian intelligence agent had led her to make the decision.
The TV report stated that Ukrainian counterintelligence operatives had evacuated Dryuk from the separatist-controlled territory after eight T-72 tanks belonging to the 11th DPR regiment were destroyed in an explosion. Her story was only published at the start of March, since until recently, her two children were still in the Donbas.
Svetlana Dryuk was the archetype of the female protagonist in the film Opolchenochka (“Militiawoman”) which is being filmed in Luhansk. The first screening is scheduled for 9 May 2019. The producer called Dryuk’s actions “treachery”, but gave his assurances that they would not affect the film’s success.
Local media in the DPR has described Dryuk’s evacuation as an “abduction”.