Intelligence agencies in the United States believe parts of the Ukrainian government authorised the car bomb attack near Moscow in August that killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of a prominent Russian nationalist, according to a report in the New York Times.
The assessment of alleged Ukrainian complicity was shared within the US government last week, the paper reported on Wednesday.
The US officials who spoke about the intelligence did not disclose which elements of the Ukrainian government were believed to have authorised the mission, who carried out the attack, or whether President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed off on it. Those briefed on the Ukrainian action and the US response spoke on the condition of anonymity, in order to discuss secret information and matters of sensitive diplomacy, the report said.
Dugina, a 29-year-old commentator with a nationalist Russian TV channel, was killed when a bomb exploded in her car in August, in an attack that Russia blamed on Ukrainian “special services“.
Ukraine’s government denied involvement at the time, and when asked about the US intelligence assessment, Zelenskyy adviser Mykhailo Podolyak reiterated those denials.
“Again, I’ll underline that any murder during wartime in some country or another must carry with it some kind of practical significance,” Podolyak told The New York Times. “It should fulfill some specific purpose, tactical or strategic. Someone like Dugina is not a tactical or a strategic target for Ukraine.”
US officials also told the paper that they lack a complete picture of the competing power centres in the Ukrainian government, including the military, the security services and Zelenskyy’s office. This may explain why some parts of the Ukrainian government may not have been aware of the plot, it added.
The US took no part in the attack, had no prior knowledge of it and “admonished” Ukrainian officials afterwards, the New York Times said, adding that the US would have opposed the killing if it had been aware of the plan.
Dugina’s father, Alexander Dugin, is a prominent ultranationalist and staunch supporter of Russia’s war in Ukraine, and some believe he was the intended target.
Russian media said Dugin switched cars with his daughter shortly before the blast, which ripped the Toyota Land Cruiser apart as she was driving through the outskirts of Moscow after attending a cultural festival. Dugina was also a prominent supporter of the Ukraine invasion, known as a ‘special military operation’ in Russia.
Russia has not taken any specific retaliation over the killing, but the US is concerned that such attacks could provoke Moscow into carrying out its own attacks against senior Ukrainian officials, the New York Times said.
Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB, has said a Ukrainian woman, who entered Russia in July and rented an apartment where Dugina lived, was behind the bombing. She fled Russia after the attack, according to the agency