US official: Russian agent was in Georgia, Ukraine

Photos purport to show the same bearded Russian soldier (circled) in operations in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine in 2014, 22 Apr 2014 - 15:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

US officials confirmed a gunman, who allegedly appeared in Georgia and eastern Ukraine, was an agent of the main intelligence body of the Russian military.

Photographic evidence within a dossier obtained by CNN showed significant similarities between gunmen who were in Georgia during the 2008 war and more recent photos of gunmen in Crimea, Ukraine.

Speaking in an exclusive interview on CNN program Amanpour, top US diplomat for Europe Victoria Nuland said: "The bearded man who has allegedly appeared both in Georgia and eastern Ukraine is clearly a GRU agent, (referring to the main intelligence body of the Russian military)”.

A dossier obtained by CNN on Monday included images, which Ukrainian officials believed showed well-equipped gunmen operating in eastern Ukraine who looked similar to photographs of Russian forces taken in Crimea and during Russia's 2008 invasion of Georgia.

Georgian authorities believed if US officials had believed the gun-man was a GRU agent they had had an evidence of saying that.

Some aspects of the photographs were extremely similar but there were some slight variations.

In the 2014 photos, the man’s greying beard appeared to be dyed black while in Georgia six years ago, the slimmer-looking man had a reddish beard.

Other unverified photos are said to show the same masked gunman in Donetsk and Crimea, the Ukrainian region annexed last month by Russia.

Ukrainian officials argued that the images showed Russian "sabotage-reconnaissance groups" acting in Ukrainian towns.

Some of the photographs were first published in The New York Times.


Diplomats said the soldier circled in red was seen in both Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, and in a photo (centre) showing what is said to be a Russian special forces group. BBC