In January five former intelligence and national security officials confirmed that since 2015 the CIA has been overseeing a secret training program for Ukrainian special operations forces and intelligence officers (1). This is what the media is now labeling as “Ukrainian resistance” to Russian troops.
One said the U.S. was “training an insurgency” in Ukraine and that the program was teaching Ukrainians to “kill Russians,” while other officials downplayed the training and said it was not for offensive purposes.
The training was initiated by the Obama administration and was conducted at an undisclosed base in the southern United States. The training was later expanded by Trump and then by Biden. The program included training in camouflage techniques, firearms, land navigation and other areas.
The program included “very specific training in skills that would enhance” the Ukrainians’ “ability to repel the Russians,” the former senior intelligence official said.
The training, which included tactical movements, would start “looking pretty offensive if the Russians invade Ukraine,” one of the former CIA agents said.
The program was overseen by the CIA’s elite paramilitary ground branch unit, whose personnel were deployed to the eastern Ukrainian front to advise the Ukrainian military.
“If the Russians invade, these [trained by CIA programs] will be their militias, their insurgent leaders,” said a senior intelligence official. “We’ve been training these guys for eight years. They are very good fighters. That’s where the agency’s program could have a big impact.”
The CIA denies training Ukrainian paramilitaries, but the New York Times reported that the U.S. was considering supporting an insurgency in Ukraine if Russia invaded the country (2).