KHERSON, Ukraine, Feb 9 (Reuters) – Ukrainian intelligence wanted confirmation last autumn that officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) overseeing the occupation of Kherson were staying in a small hotel on a back street of the southern port city.
The task was assigned to Dollar: the code name for a civilian who had been secretly providing targeting coordinates and information on enemy operations in Kherson and the surrounding region, the operative said.
Reuters held extensive interviews with Dollar and two other members of the underground partisan network in Kherson after the city was captured in early November.
Their separate accounts provide a rare window into how information and sabotage operations were coordinated with Ukrainian intelligence services behind enemy lines, operations that are still ongoing elsewhere in Ukraine.
While Reuters could not corroborate the specific events they described, two U.S. officials said that such operations by an underground of intelligence operatives, ex-soldiers and amateurs helped hasten Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson – one of the biggest setbacks for the Kremlin in a war that marks its first anniversary on Feb. 24.
Dollar, who declined to give his name for security reasons, said he began driving by the Hotel Ninel – Lenin spelled backwards – with his wife, a fellow operative who is part of the network and uses the code name Kosatka, Ukrainian for killer whale.