Ukraine says it broke up pro-Kremlin 'informational sabotage' network

(Reuters) - Ukrainian Security Service said on Tuesday it has uncovered one of the largest networks in the country allegedly spreading pro-Russian "informational sabotage", coordinated by a cleric of the minority Moscow-linked church.

Kyiv officials said Moscow planned to step up its informational war this spring, spreading disinformation in an attempt to divide Ukrainian society in the third year of its invasion.

The SBU agency said it has exposed 15 members of the network linked to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), detaining four of them, including the cleric of a Kyiv-based temple of the minority Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC).

"It is one of the largest FSB networks that has been operating in Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale invasion," SBU said on its Telegram channel.

The group was involved in spreading pro-Kremlin narratives aimed at destabilizing society and inciting religious hatred, according to the agency.

Ukrainian authorities and part of society had for years seen the UOC as loyal to Moscow. In 2023, the parliament backed a ban on its activities in the initial vote.

The church describes itself as independent, saying it cut ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, which supports Moscow's war in Ukraine. A government commission has ruled that the church is still canonically linked to Russia.

(Reporting by Yuliia Dysa; Editing by David Gregorio)