Lytvynenko appointed as new Ukraine's NSDC Secretary: What you need to know about him

Oleksandr Lytvynenko
Oleksandr Lytvynenko

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy unexpectedly dismissed Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Danilov, appointing Oleksandr Lytvynenko, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (FIS), in his place, the Presidential Office said on March 26.

Lytvynenko learned about his appointment on March 26, he said to Ukrainian news, adding that he is not currently providing "comments or interviews."

Little is known about Major General Lytvynenko, who served as Deputy Secretary of the NSDC from 2014 to 2019 following the Revolution of Dignity.

Read also: Major shift in Ukraine’s Security Council: Top intelligence official replaces Danilov as new Defence Secretary

Lytvynenko: key biographical facts

Oleksandr Lytvynenko is 51 years old, born on April 27, 1972, in Kyiv.

He obtained his first higher education in Russia, graduating from the Institute of Cryptography, Communications, and Computer Science in Moscow in 1994, specializing in applied mathematics. This institute is a structural unit of the Russian FSB. After the Revolution of Dignity, Lytvynenko passed the corresponding lustration check in Ukraine in 2015.

Lytvynenko also received a degree in law from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv in 2009.

He graduated from the Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS) in the United Kingdom in 2013.

Lytvynenko worked simultaneously as an assistant, associate professor, and professor at the Institute of International Relations of Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv from 1998 to 2007 and from 2010 to 2014.

Lytvynenko holds the rank of Major General, has a Ph. D. in Political Science, and is a professor.

He built his professional career in Ukraine starting in the mid-90s, after returning from Moscow:

- August 1994 — August 1998: officer, senior officer, chief specialist of the Main Directorate of Government Communications of the Ukrainian SBU security service

- August 1998 — May 2005 (including during the Orange Revolution): senior consultant, department head, deputy director — department head, first deputy director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies

- June 2005 — December 2007: worked in the apparatus of the NSDC (head of department, expert commission, department of state security)

- December 2007 — August 2009: Deputy head of the information-analytical support department of the SBU

- August 2009 — May 2010: advisor to the director of the Institute of National Security Matters at the NSDC

- June 2010 — March 2014: deputy director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies (including during the Revolution of Dignity)

- April 2014 — August 2019: Deputy Secretary of NSDS

- August 2019 — July 2021: Director of the National Institute for Strategic Studies

Lytvynenko was appointed head of Ukraine's FIS on July 23, 2021.

Lytvynenko received the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise, 5th class, the Jubilee Medal for 25 Years of Independence of Ukraine.

He is married and has a son and daughter.

Read also: Despite sanctions, Russian missiles still being built with ‘free world’ components - Zelenskyy

Lytvynenko during the full-scale Russian war against Ukraine: key statements

During Russia's large-scale war against Ukraine and before he was appointed Secretary of the NSDC, Lytvynenko headed the FIS.

This Ukrainian special service and agency is engaged in intelligence in political, economic, military, scientific, technical information and ecological spheres. Similar to the majority of countries worldwide, the activities of the FIS prioritize agent and technical intelligence. The FIS is also responsible for providing intelligence information to the highest entities of state power in Ukraine. Among its most important units is the Department of Countering External Threats to the National Security of the State.

Zelenskyy's decree, published on Jan. 8, 2024, envisioned the establishment of a "Ukrainian delegation to participate in negotiations [...] on security guarantees for Ukraine." Such guarantees could be concluded "between Ukraine and other states," and the delegation is expected to participate in negotiations on the development and preparation of relevant "two- and multi-lateral international agreements."

Lytvynenko published a column on the Interfax-Ukraine website in November 2023 entitled "Several Theses on Putin's Policy. How They Think and Wage War in the Kremlin."

As the head of Ukrainian foreign intelligence, he outlined the following main theses:

- The Russian war has entered a critical period, "a lot depends on a careful assessment of the intentions of the enemy".

- (Russian dictator Vladimir) Putin believes that the Kremlin has reached a "point of no return" in relations with the West, and therefore can only either triumphantly win or be devastatingly defeated.

- The war against Ukraine is perceived by the Kremlin "as an important, but not the only front for Russia, which is essentially waging a world war against the U.S. and the West as a whole."

- The Russian dictator is convinced that Ukraine and the rest of the "historical Russian lands" can only be returned and the empire restored within the framework of a global redistribution of the world, which "may last 10-15 years, accompanied by conflicts of various scales and intensities, possibly including the use of nuclear weapons."

Read also: Kyiv vows to address shell hunger, replenish reserves, and counter Russian missile attacks, says NSDC secretary

- Therefore, the Kremlin is currently addressing four main tasks set by Putin: 1) to ensure internal stability, mobilize the population and the economy, increase the production of arms and military equipment; 2) to form an alternative coalition of states to the West, the "Global South+" format, which should promote alternative models to the West (political, economic, financial, humanitarian, value-based, etc.); 3) to prepare for future aggression against other countries, with the current priority being Moldova and the Baltic countries (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, i.e., the entire western part of the former USSR); 4) to exacerbate conflicts in the Middle East, Africa, and the Balkans.

- Putin's goals in the war against Ukraine remain unchanged: he needs as much Ukrainian territory as he can obtain because, for Russians, it is about the "return of historically Russian lands."

"The war has entered a stage of attrition," he said.

"There is increasingly more evidence that the Kremlin is prepared to fight for as long as necessary... The Kremlin believes it has sufficient resources (military-technical, economic, and human) for combat operations against Ukraine at the current level for an extended period. In Moscow, they are convinced that Ukraine's internal resources allegedly 'are nearing complete exhaustion.'"

That is why, Lytvynenko said, Moscow's plans at that time included three main tasks against Ukraine:

- Pressure along the entire front line with the capture of individual, political, and media important points, such as Avdiivka [the city was captured by the Russians in February 2024].

- Destroy critical infrastructure (power plants, oil refineries, transportation hubs) in winter to reduce the quality of life.

- Underme social unity through fueling ambitions and provoking soldiers ("only they can restore order"), opposition political forces ("only they are worthy of governing Ukraine"), and the formation in Ukraine of a "critical mass of dissatisfaction with the policies of the current government".

Moscow is hopeful that the West will eventually not only suspend aid, "but also come to Russia with proposals for urgent negotiations and the suspension of the war," Lytvynenko said.

"This is roughly how they think and plan in the Kremlin," he said half a year before being appointed Secretary of the NSDC.

"Knowledge is power. Ukraine is fighting for its freedom and the freedom of all nations worldwide. Free people will defeat tyrants."

Another landmark article by Lytvynenko appeared in The Economist two months ago, in January 2024. He argued that Russia could be contained if as many countries as possible signed security agreements with Ukraine following the example of the United Kingdom.

Lytvynenko emphasized that if Russia fails to win on the battlefield in Ukraine, its global goals will be significantly undermined. For the West, the simplest and most cost-effective way to stop Russia and other revisionist states is to strengthen Ukraine's defense and security potential, ensuring the resilience of Ukrainian society and the state.

He also warned that Putin is counting on a domino effect and believes that if the West, especially the United States, suffers a defeat in Ukraine, it will quickly lose global influence.

Revisionist states will see this as their opportunity, and eventually, a new multipolar order will emerge in which several major powers, including Russia, will compete among themselves. Chinese President Xi Jinping is closely monitoring the Russian war against Ukraine and "drawing his own conclusions."

"Russia knows that the victory it seeks in Ukraine will have a global effect, and understands that it cannot achieve its goals without disrupting the global world order," concluded Lytvynenko.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine