Here's how the fake murder and resurrection of Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko might backfire
Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko. (UNIAN/AFP/File / Inna SOKOLOVSKA)

In one of the more bizarre developments in international relations and the news cycle, this week Russian journalist Arkady Babchenko faked his own death to thwart an apparent Russian plot to kill him.

Babchenko, who's been a fierce critic of President Putin, pulled off the plan with the help of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), an intelligence agency that had apparently learned of the plot to murder him months ago.

“We have prevented an attempted murder of Babchenko by carrying out a special operation. Thanks to this operation, we were able to foil a cynical plot and document how the Russian security service was planning for this crime,” Vasyl Hrytsak, the head of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU), told reporters at a press conference.

At the time, the stunt was seen as a victory against Russian intrusions into Crimea—and the murder of journalists who criticize the Russian regime.

But as John Schindler, a security expert and former National Security Agency analyst, argues in the Observer today, the plan may end up backfiring for Ukraine in the long-term:

Kyiv has given Moscow a propaganda goldmine with its Babchenko deception. Putin’s regime lies nonstop anyway, and this gives Russia’s rancid lies a smidge of credibility. Kremlin outlets are already citing the Babchenko “resurrection” as reason to doubt the West’s version of the Skripal case. Kyiv has gifted Putin’s disinformation experts fodder for decades with the Babchenko ploy. Worse, more than a few Western journalists will disregard what the SBU says in future, recalling when they were made to look like fools before the world.

He argues that there must have been a better way to expose the plot and save Babchenko's life, concluding that if Ukraine's future is with Europe its security and intelligence apparatus must act with transparency and integrity.