By Paul Goble
When Vladimir Zelensky visited London earlier this month, he was met by Richard Moore, head of Britain’s MI-6 intelligence service. In that meeting, Andrey Piontkovsky says, the Ukrainian leader was told London has convincing evidence that the head of the Kyiv leader’s office, Andrey Yermak, is a Russian agent.
The US-based Russian analyst who has warned about this danger for some time tells interviewer Kseniya Kirillova that the British would not have taken the unprecedented action of having an MI-6 chief brief a foreign head of state unless it wanted to warn about something as important as this (politua.org/politika/95781-andrej-piontkovskij-predatelskie-dejstviya-ermaka-stavyat-ukrainu-v-polozhenie-neradivogo-shkolnika/).
Piontkovsky sees this meeting as confirmation of his warnings and those of many in Kyiv about the extent of Russian penetration at the highest levels of the Ukrainian government. He adds that his knowledge of Yermak’s code name reflects his own “insider information from Moscow, from people close to Putin’s ‘bunker.’”
But, he continues, “the actions of Andrey Yermak speak about this much more than any operational pseudonyms. He consistently harms the national interests of Ukraine by fulfilling ‘the desires’ of Moscow.” Moreover, “Ukraine’s security will always be under enormous threat as long as such an individual has such serious influence on the president.”
At the same time, Piontkovsky says he is encouraged by the emergence in Kyiv of “a patriotic consensus” including members of Zelensky’s own party and the fact that Yermak did not accompany his boss to Brussels and London, an absence that opened the way to positive steps in both places.
Unfortunately, on Zelensky’s return to Kyiv, Yermak reappeared at a meeting the president had with his military commanders so the battle is far from over. It is important to remember that “Zelensky is not an enemy of Ukraine, but he is an actor” who has adopted roles and then changed them and who lacks a deep understanding of foreign policy.
And because of this lack and because of his “paranoid hatred” to his predecessor whom he wants to be as different from as possible, Piontkovsky says, people around Zelensky, like Yermak, are able to have untoward influence over the direction of his policies. Western intelligence agencies understand that. Ukrainians must as well.