Intelligence plot derailed when ‘waaay too hot’ Russian spy raises red flags

It seems the Russian Foreign Security Service employs spies that are a little less “From Russia with Love” and a bit more “Spies Like Us.”

Two alleged spies in the service of the Federalnaya Sluzhba Bezopasnosti (FSB) and operating in Ukraine were foiled when it became readily apparent the female partner was “waaay too hot” for her male counterpart, which quickly raised red flags and led to their eventual uncovering.

Christo Grozev, a Bulgarian journalist with the investigative outlet Bellingcat, posted to his Twitter page, “It took me about 5 minutes to discover that the pilot’s “lover” (waaay too hot for him, FSB) was an FSB asset, working as a fitness trainer by day, but moonlighting as an FSB girlfriend-for-hire the rest of the time. (The Ukrainians figured that out too).”

Grozev had evidently been following a team of Ukrainian “maverick ex-operatives” who were working in an unofficial capacity on an operation to persuade Russian pilots to defect to Ukraine. Some pilots responded and initially seemed legitimate potential defectors, but soon the would-be Ukrainian aviators’ “tone changed quickly, suggesting the pilots were no longer talking on their own behalf but were ‘coached’ – likely by FSB military counter-intelligence officers.”

The sudden appearance of “Maria,” a real looker who was suspected of having ties with the FSB, added to the already heightened suspicions. If she turns out to be the active femme fatale she is accused of being, it wouldn’t be the first time that FSB incompetence has led to the thwarting of a Russian spy game. In April, an FSB underling apparently confused “SIM cards” with the video game “The SIMS” when supposedly planting evidence as part of a staged assassination attempt in Ukraine, the NY Post reported.

In this recent case, it took four days for the FSB to realize they had been duped.

“Both sides were trying to extract maximum information from the other, while feeding them maximum disinfo,” Grozev said.

Eventually, both the Russians and the Ukrainians determined their respective jigs were up.

The FSB made a statement Monday announcing their success in foiling the Ukrainian scheme, saying the ploy was an official Ukrainian intelligence operation that “tried to recruit Russian military pilots for a monetary reward and guarantees of obtaining citizenship of one of the EU countries,” in an effort to persuade them “to fly and land aircraft on airfields controlled by the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” the outlet reported.

“In the course of the operational game, Russian counterintelligence officers obtained information that helped our Armed Forces inflict fire damage on a number of Ukrainian military facilities,” the FSB claimed, according to a report from Russian news agency Interfax.

Grozev was in the process of making a documentary about the cat-and-mouse affair when the newest juicy details came to light. A lengthy chronicling of the expose can be followed from his initial tweet above.

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