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New York Times Report Shows the Long Hand of CIA Operations in Ukraine

Credit: CIA

Updated 2/27/24 at 3:41 pm.

A new Sunday New York Times report depicts a thriving Ukraine-CIA collaboration going back to the months following the Maidan coup in February 2014. On one hand, the relationship included the CIA providing assistance for Ukrainian missile strikes and assassinations in their operations against Russia and the Donbass, while on the other hand Ukraine was able to provide behind-enemy-lines intelligence against Russia which the CIA could get nowhere else. Both sides benefitted through the collaboration, seemingly driven by nothing more than a common desire to gain an upper hand in a simmering war against Russia.

While the U.S. would officially deny Russia’s claims of American interference in Ukrainian and Russian operations over the years, the Times report makes clear this was, in fact, going on. The article even called it a “shadow war in overdrive.”

The core of the project was one main “command center” and 12 underground bases all along the Russian border. All were “almost fully financed, and partly equipped, by the CIA.” The forward positioning along Russia’s border allowed them to follow Russian spy satellites and surveil conversations between Russian commanders.

Shortly after the Maidan revolution in 2014, Obama’s CIA chief John Brennan paid his first visit to Kiev. According to the report, Brennan’s initial message was that the Ukrainians needed to “prove that they could provide intelligence of value” and “purge Russian spies” from the S.B.U. The Ukrainians reportedly followed orders eagerly.

The CIA also trained an “elite Ukrainian commando force,” Unit 2245, using the most advanced American techniques. Among other things, the team would capture Russian drones so that CIA operatives could reverse engineer them and use the technology against Russia. One of the program’s most prominent offspring was Kyrylo Budanov, today the head of Ukraine’s military intelligence, whom they describe as a trainee who developed “deep ties” to the CIA during his rise up the ladder. The CIA also trained Ukrainian spies who operated inside Russia, across Europe, and even in Cuba.

The program got a big boost during the Trump Administration. Despite Trump’s resistance to the CIA and emphasis against a proxy war against Russia, Trump’s CIA 2017-2018 chief Mike Pompeo still managed to increase the support to the Ukrainian operation. During this period, the main command center grew from 80 to 800 Ukrainian intelligence officers, because “Preventing Russia from interfering in future U.S. elections was a top CIA priority.”

Calling the partnership a “linchpin of Ukraine’s ability to defend itself,” it is likely that this was a driving factor behind Ukraine’s aggression over the past years, and proves that the U.S. is actually at war with Russia, not just Ukraine.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked about the Times report by TASS Monday. “The work of so-called American advisers, most of whom departmentally belonged to the CIA, is well known,” Peskov said.  These people “occupied jobs in the building of the presidential administration of Ukraine… this is not a secret.” According to Peskov, the CIA and other US agencies began operating in Ukraine long before 2014, actively recruiting people and preparing them for “subversive work against our country.”