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'To Kill Russians'? CIA Reportedly Trained Ukrainian Squads to Launch Anti-Russian Insurgency

© REUTERS / UKRAINIAN ARMED FORCESService members of the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces take part in military drills at a shooting range in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released December 20, 2021. Press Service of the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade/Handout via REUTERS
Service members of the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces take part in military drills at a shooting range in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released December 20, 2021. Press Service of the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade/Handout via REUTERS  - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.01.2022
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American intelligence has been reportedly working with Ukrainians for decades, but intensified its contacts in the wake of the 2014 coup supported by the western governments. The training by the CIA Ground Branch started at the same time.
The US' CIA has been running a dedicated programme to train Ukrainian special operations forces on American soil, possibly to prepare them for a standoff with Russian forces and running an "insurgency", Yahoo News reported citing numerous former intelligence and national security officials.
The programme is reportedly operated by the CIA's Ground Department (also known as Ground Branch) and was launched by President Barack Obama in 2015 after the West-backed coup in Ukraine that sparked an insurgency in the country's east. Since then, the programme, which reportedly provided Ukrainian forces with firearms training, drills in using camouflage, exercises in land navigation and tactics, as well as training in intelligence gathering, received the backing of the two subsequent presidents, the sources claimed.

Offensive or Defensive Missions?

The former and present agency and national security officials, who talked with Yahoo News, gave varying descriptions of the programme's purpose. Some insisted that the programme was never meant to serve as offensive in its nature.

"The purpose of the training, and the training that was delivered, was to assist in the collection of intelligence," an anonymous current senior intelligence official told the outlet.

Yahoo News pointed out that the "intelligence support" missions might vary in nature in the paramilitary context. The outlet also stressed that it is unclear how the Ukrainian forces will use the knowledge they have gained. One former intelligence official claimed in the interview with the news website that the training was set to enhance the ability of Kiev forces to "push back against the Russians".
However, some of the officials outright told Yahoo that the CIA is "training an insurgency" under this programme and that its alumni were explicitly taught how "to kill Russians". CIA spokesman Tammy Thorp rejected the claims.

"Suggestions that we have trained an armed insurgency in Ukraine are simply false," Thorp said.

Some of the news website's sources claimed that the purpose of these forces would be to make Russia's life "miserable" should it decide to invade Ukraine – something the Kremlin has repeatedly rejected that it has in mind. Kiev's forces were reportedly trained on how to "organise the resistance" behind the enemy lines with one former intelligence official comparing their tactics with what the US faced in Afghanistan fighting with the Taliban*.
A Russian ruble coin is pictured in front of St. Basil cathedral in central Moscow - Sputnik International, 1920, 12.01.2022
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Yahoo News' sources also said that the CIA provided the Ukrainians with limited intelligence training for decades, but intensified these contacts after the 2014 coup. However, these efforts reportedly faced some unprecedented challenges – namely fears that Ukraine’s intelligence services were riddled with Russian spies. It reportedly got to a point of establishing a rule not to tell Ukrainians more than the CIA was ready to let Russia know.
*The Taliban is an organisation under UN sanctions over terrorist activities
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