Ukraine Intel Chief Says Russian Arrest Threat Is “A Pleasure For Me”

The head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Directorate (GUR) reacted humorously Friday to a Moscow court’s decision to arrest him in absentia in connection with the Oct. 8 attack on the Kerch Bridge.

“It’s a pleasure for me,” Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov told The War Zone Friday. It “shows that I work in the right way and in the future, I’ll work harder and with higher quality – to show that Moscow’s court was right.”

For Russian President Vladimir Putin, the attack on the bridge was particularly galling. The $4 billion span, linking Russia with the Crimean peninsula it has occupied since 2014 has been a huge source of pride as well as a critical logistics artery.

The Lefortovo Court of Moscow on Friday “arrested” Budanov “in absentia for what it called “the terrorist attack” on the bridge, the Russian official TASS news agency reported Friday.

“The court granted the petition of the investigation and chose a preventive measure for Budanov K.A., suspected under part 1 of article 205.4 ‘Creation of a terrorist community,'” the court said, without specifying the essence of the case, TASS reported. 

Budanov “was put on the international wanted list,” according to TASS. “The period of arrest is calculated from the moment of extradition to the territory of the Russian Federation or detention on Russian territory.”

Kerch Bridge explosion crimea
The Kerch Bridge, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s prized $4 billion span linking the occupied Crimean peninsula with Russia, was attacked last fall. A Moscow court accused Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence chief of orchestrating the attack. (Twitter) Via Twitter
Kerch Bridge damage repair
A satellite view of the damage caused by the attack. (Satellite image ©2023 Maxar Technologies) Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation charged Budanov in absentia “under four articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, including an attempted terrorist attack,” TASS reported. 

Barring some very unique circumstances, the likelihood that Budanov will be apprehended is unlikely. Asked if he is concerned that he will be actually arrested, Budanov told The War Zone, “absolutely no.”

As for whether he ordered the attack, Budanov was mum.

“No comment,” he said succinctly, and certainly less coy than the last time we asked him about it.

“So I’ve already answered this question also to your colleagues [in the media],” he told us in an exclusive interview back in October. “And when they asked me about it, I asked them back. Why is that? Why did they think that Ukraine is the only possible actor that could do that? There were multiple cases before when the Russians have blown out their own constructions and buildings, and just to unbind their hands for doing something else.”

Budanov has been a particular thorn in Putin’s side even before the all-out war was launched. This likely won’t be Moscow’s last attempt to get back at him.

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Howard Altman

Senior Staff Writer

Howard is a Senior Staff Writer for The War Zone, and a former Senior Managing Editor for Military Times. Prior to this, he covered military affairs for the Tampa Bay Times as a Senior Writer. Howard’s work has appeared in various publications including Yahoo News, RealClearDefense, and Air Force Times.