The Kremlin was so confident of victory in Ukraine that a senior Russian official had already chosen a platform in Kyiv before the war began, intelligence reported.
In February, before Russian forces crossed the border with Ukraine, powerbrokers in Moscow assumed it would be a short and easy war, According to intelligence provided to The Washington Post.
Among them was Igor Kovalenko, a senior FSB official who ran spies in Ukraine. According to the objections of the Ukrainian intelligence and their Western counterparts, Kovalenko was watching an apartment in Kyiv, asking one of his subordinates in the FSB for the contact information of the informant who lives there.
Ukrainian intelligence said the informant admitted that he had been instructed to leave the city in the days before the war began – and to leave his keys behind so the Russians could use his apartment overlooking the Dnieper River.
Indeed, the Russians were so certain that they would occupy Kyiv that they gave similar instructions to informants and moles throughout the Ukrainian capital, preparing a network of safe houses for agents and accommodation for officers.
But Russian soldiers have not yet set foot in Kyiv.
A little more than a month after the start of the invasion, Russian troops swamped around the capital and unable to encircle it, hastily retreated.
Russian propaganda at the time played Kyiv as a bluff, putting Ukraine in the back so it could pursue its true target – the eastern industrial zone known as Donbass, where Russian forces are bogged down today.
However, the interception of communications not only shows that Russia intends to seize the capital and “behead” the Ukrainian government by taking out its leadership – a goal reported by Ukrainian and Western intelligence agencies; The interceptions show that the Russians thought it would be easy.
“They expected someone to open the gate,” a senior Ukrainian official told the Washington Post. “They did not expect any resistance.”